Affordable Italian Sandwiches for the High-End Shopper

     A grand opening this week for the Italian sandwich shop, Panino Giusto, on the 3rd floor of the IFC Mall in Central, HK. I was lucky enough to be one of the first to sample some of the small plates and panini that they offered at their accommodating “sidewalk” seating area overlooking the grandiose Kowloon skyline.
        The proscuitto replaced designer dresses hanging off racks from the clothing store, which used to occupy this space. Instead of lavish pieces of couture, the expected norm at IFC, there’s an edible display of custom cured pork thighs fresh from Italy, which will not cost you an arm and a leg.  

        There are no doubts that this Italian Panino joint would captivate such a following on its opening week in a place like Hong Kong, where jaded locals have no problem seeking the best new grub for their eager taste buds. Panino Giusto intelligently chose the “Golden Week” to premier its menu here, they will undoubtedly attract many visitors spending their holiday, ready to sample quality food. 
      Customers are to order their meal at the counter and find a place to sit waiting for their food to be served. This is an efficient system proven to work well in a busy city like ours. 
      Among the plates I’ve tried at Panino Giusto, the most aesthetically pleasing ones had to be these beautiful mozzarella knots served with tomatoes in olive oil and the beef carpaccio dish.
          The sheen of the mozzarella made my mouth water as I cut into it with my knife. The tomatoes provided a balance of acidity to match the cheese, though more salt on the cheese would have lifted this dish a little higher. The flavours of the beef carpaccio worked really well with the lemon dressing of the artichoke salad it came with and the shavings of Parmiggiano Reggiano provided a savouring complexity to this dish. I really enjoyed how thinly sliced the cured beef was.  
       For under 100 HKD, you can sample all their prime cold cuts,  a mixed plate complete with toasted bread and a spread of Mortadella, Proscuitto di Parma, speck and Proscuitto di Praga. Each different in flavour, texture, and colour. Their careful selection of meats really does shine through with this plate. 
     As for their panini, the Tartufo was my favourite, not only because I’m a big fan of truffles, Brie is also up there on the list as well. Arugula was a good choice of green to give it a splash of peppery freshness. Having been a sandwich shop for over 30 years, I think Panino Giusto has mastered the art of sandwich-craft unlike any other institution complete with an academy to train their staff to the become the best sandwich-teers of their generation. 
       Their Toast Della Casa, a Milanese style tuna melt with Parma Ham reminded me of my years in University getting a tuna melt on the run between classes. That first bite of warm, crunchy toast while the melted fontina cheese and tuna mixed in my mouth brought back good memories of my juvenile years as a student. 
Last, but definitely not least, we were given a slice of tiramisu when we didn’t think we could fit more into our stomachs. Who could really say no to a “pick me up” such as this one where the mascarpone was ready to be spooned off the plate into our mouths.   This is when you go, “OK, I’ll not eat anymore cheese this month and run to the gym for a quick workout right before I go to work tomorrow.” Sharing is caring, my rule is never to eat dessert without someone to share it with you. Thank God, there were 4 people to indulge in this fluffy pillow of caffeinated mascarpone cream cheese and lady fingers. 
          Pseudo Nutrition Analysis: The simplex carbohydrate and saturated fat content of this meal is undoubtedly high from the bread, cheese and cured meats, but as this was an indulgent meal for me, I couldn’t emphasis more on portion control and the idea of having friends and family with you to try out new places. That way you will be able to eat less of the calorie dense foods while tasting many options on the menu and finding a more filling, yet lower caloric dense food like mixed greens or vegetables for yourself. Again, having a balanced diet goes hand in hand with having a balanced lifestyle of routine physical activity. With the weather being so beautiful lately, do not hesitate to take your exercise routine outdoors absorbing more vitamin D when the sun is not shining at its brightest. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s