28 Duxton Hill
New Duxton Hill restaurant Alba 1836 is a collaboration between chef Alessandro Frau of Acqua restaurant in Phuket, managing director Matteo Trabaldo Togna, and partner Cm Shih. Diners can choose between seating in the internal roofed courtyard, in the main dining room or at alfresco tables under sweeping branches in the garden.
The restaurant offers Italian fine dining, with the option of a reasonably priced set lunch menu ($35). Happily, the wine choice is extensive – more than 40 are served by the glass, starting at $10.
From the set lunch menu, which offers four choices for each of the three courses, we started with the grilled spicy octopus on fennel mash and Taggiasche olives followed by the tuna tagliata on smoked eggplant mash. The dishes were light and fresh, and the texture of both the slow-cooked octopus and the sashimi-style tuna were excellent. We also tried grilled eggplant rolls stuffed with truffle ricotta cheese: a strongly flavoured dish that turned out to be one of our favourites.
From the à la carte menu, we chose the delicate and beautifully crafted Tajima wagyu beef carpaccio ($32) and the fresh ravioli agnolotti stuffed with burrata cheese and black truffle with osso buco ragù sauce ($35). Beautifully balanced flavours with none of the heaviness of a typical pasta dish.
We finished with a tiramisu ($16) and a selection of artisan ice creams, rich in flavour but not too sweet. The hazelnut was a particular favourite.
General manager Michele Zanella enhanced our dining experience with his knowledge of the menu and thoughtful wine recommendations, including a Franz Haas Pinot Nero 2001 and an Amarone della Valpolicella.
Must-try Dish: Grilled eggplant rolls (from the set menu) or the Tajima wagyu beef carpaccio with wild rocket, foie gras praline, fresh black truffle, crescenza cheese and parmesan(à la carte).