1 Minden Ave, Tsim Sha Tsui
Visited 23rd May 2008
I only time I ever seem to go to TST is Friday nights and this week we explored the strip of bars along Minden Ave. We enjoyed happy hour cocktails and bar snacks at the retro and velvety Boozeroo Lounge before rumbling stomachs got the better of us and we chanced upon Giardino Ristorante. It's an Italian place located on the corner of Minden Ave and Minden Row, just behind the Chungking Mansions. While the tables are neatly dressed with crisp white tablecloths, the restaurant itself is pretty worn; it’s most striking feature is a huge plastic tree that dominates one wall - very strange indeed.
The menu is typical Italian and I went for lasagne. The square serve of that greeted me was pretty tasty, though I would have liked to have seen a garnish of some sort. Naomi ordered spaghetti carbonara with "spicy sausage", which was a hideous dish; the spaghetti was congealed and lacked flavour, while the "spicy sausage" was a cured meat that was too dry to chew and both stunk and tasted of repulsive off garlic. One of our companions really enjoyed her gnocchi with blue cheese; the sauce was creamy and well balanced and a little potato dumpling tender and tasty. Our other companion wasn't as happy with his 'pizza Giardino' and said it was the worst he'd had in Hong Kong. He complained of a dry base, lack of topping and flavourless cheese. As it was Friday night I was keen for another beer, but quickly changed my mind when I saw the prices that were being asked. $64 for a basic spirits and $48 for bottles of beer seemed too much, instead we all stuck to tumblers of water.
Giardino Ristorante is really pretty bizarre. The whole place is outdated and very 'old school'. The menu is tied, the decor is tied and the plastic tree is most certainly tied (and extremely dusty). To be fair the potions were a good size, my friend's gnocchi was excellent and my lasagne was OK, but the others were really disappointed with their meals. The service was friendly if non-personal. The food was fairly priced; $99 for Naomi's and my pasta, $118 for the gnocchi and $128 for the pizza, but booze was too expensive. Perhaps a few years ago Giardino Ristorante would have been a hip little spot, but now it's in need of a revamped menu, a face lift and competitive prices. I wouldn't dream of coming here again when Unit 798 is just a short walk away.