Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Uno Duo Trio, an Italian home to go to in Hong Kong?

Soft-boiled eggs with truffles
I've said most of what I had to say about Uno Duo Trio in my review for Time Out earlier in the year. The time I visited for that review was my second visit; the photos you see here are from my first.

Chicken and vegetable soup - before
My first visit was a little better; I think partially because it was just us (a table of six) and another table (of about 8).

Chicken and vegetable soup - during
My main qualm is with the service and pace. Like I said in Time Out, being a good cook at home and running a good restaurant are two completely different things.

Baby artichoke and cavolo nero
Lana, who's the owner and chef of the place, used to have a one-table-only private kitchen. That's about the closest you can get to a home environment. Her food is honest, and true to her (very expensive) ingredients. Basically the formula to a good homecooked meal.

Scrambled eggs with black truffle
At someone's house, you're also expected to serve yourself when it comes to pouring wine and so on, but at a restaurant, you have servers. Now, that brings me to service.

The first time I went to UDT, we were served by Lana and one other server, who was amicable but not intrusive. On the second visit, there were two more staff; one of which got so into the "home" environment, she began to pinch my friend's face (a very "auntie" thing to do - imagine: "Oh look at cheeks, so chubby, you so cutie!"). I don't know about you, but that was pretty traumatic for us.

Fresh pasta that Lana had just rolled out and cut
Firstly, for a server to touch a diner's body is a bit weird, and second, that too-friendly tone - I don't know, it disturbs me, especially when I'm at what is now supposed to be a fine dining restaurant.

You might argue it's "casual service", a pretty hip concept these days - the price tag might be high but the service is friendly and far from stuffy.

Sicilian red prawns and pasta
I get that, but to me casual doesn't mean unprofessional. Casual means, perhaps, no tablecloths, staff in jeans rather than suits, staff who smile, joke a bit, but still serve you swiftly and with the utmost professionalism.

Pork roast
I certainly wasn't getting that vibe at UDT. I was getting green and uncomfortable from a younger man (who also forgot to set my table with a napkin), and neighbourhood auntie from another member of staff.

It sort of amounts to an identity crisis. There they were, in black suit pants and white shirts - very fine dining, and then forgetting to bring us water and pinching cheeks - very cooked food centre.

Sicilian red prawns baked in salt
I almost said that this isn't the type of service I expect from somewhere where we're paying at least $500 a head, but you know, price wasn't even the problem, it was that I didn't know what they were trying to do or be.

They're about good, "luxurious" dining on the food front, which is great, but in order to define what kind of eatery they are, they really need to work on the service side of things.

Fried zucchini flower
Never have I felt a divide this strong. I like the "casual" idea a lot, but they really need to find the right balance. And this, I guess, is one of the main differences between homecooking, or even a private kitchen, and a restaurant.

Cute light at Uno Duo Trio's lift lobby

Uno Duo Trio
19/F Bartlock Centre
3 Yiu Wa St
Causeway Bay
+852 3489 3862
Lunch & dinner Tue-Sun

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  1. I discovered your blog a few days ago and I'm hooked on your articles! They're informative and just lovely to read. I can't wait to try out the restaurants when I go back to HK next week :)

  2. Interesting comments about the service here. Perhaps they are trying too hard to present themselves as all homely. *Not saying they're trying to milk you dry too haha! But you just can't trust everyone these days... except for mois :p

  3. clawang5:01 am

    dude i totally agree re the service. I was served by the young guy who just looked lost and the auntie who kept trying to push my friend and i to scoop up the homemade sauce and eat it...even though we already finished the dish and would be eating the sauce on its own. I appreciate a recommendation for trying the sauce, but she literally stood over us until we finished every last drop. odd.