Octavium review: Chef Umberto Bombana's new little secret

Octavium is the new pet project of Chef Umberto Bombana, whose restaurants hold a combined three Michelin Stars. Octavium has had a decidedly low key launch, in fact, you'll not find a listed phone number or a website. But before you accuse him of pulling a PR stunt in creating demand by making it hard to find a table, you have to know that Mr Bombana isn't one for stunts. He just wants his new "baby" to offer a much more personalised narrative, a homelier way of enjoying his cuisine without the pressure of media and public interest. In Octavium's early stages, he experiments freely.

The cosy dining room is designed by the chef himself, upon entering the office lobby a greeter escorts you up to the restaurant, which has about 10 tables and a private room. The dinner menu changes daily and you get four choices for the set price of $1088, which is a bargain considering this is an establishment where the staff to table ratio is 1:1.  Having laid down fresh grissini and a crusty olive bread, warm from the oven, we started with Italian Porcini, with large plump mushrooms served grilled and raw on a fluffy polenta base. To follow, a super-comforting Malloreddus (a pasta shaped like an elongated shell, originating from Sardinia) is cooked with a savoury pork ragout and topped with Castelmagno cheese.  The main course was a sublime study of lamb paired with artichokes, with the beautifully minimalist plate filled by the mild and tender meat as a filet, on the rack, and gently braised ribs. The portions were not too overwhelming and if you love lamb, this is as intriguing as it gets. 

We polished off the fig tarts at the end of the meal and were pleasantly surprised by an elegant box of praline chocolates to polish off the experience.

It's nice to see a place live up to its hype and mystery. The service was personal and attentive and, to Octavium's credit, it never tries too hard. Admittedly we were trying harder - we do hope the several hundred dollars in gratuity for the wait staff may increase our chances of getting a table next time.

Restaurant Details
8/F One Chinachem Central, 22 Des Voeux Rd Central
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