Best Bites: The top 7 dishes we ate in May

Updated on June 5 2018

Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the last month, those which renewed our love for established venues, caught our attention at a new opening, or impressed on us again the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street bites to meticulously prepared tasting menu dishes, these are the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.

Chifa 

The dish: Duck spring rolls (HK$95)

With all the influx of mass-market Italian, Japanese and American-style restaurants in Hong Kong, it’s always nice to see a change of scenery in the local dining scene. I was intrigued when Pirata Group introduced their latest — a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant named Chifa, taking over the old Le Cochin space on Peel Street. While dumplings are the main attraction here, my favourite bite of the night turned out to be the duck spring rolls, a clever mash-up of a traditional Chinese dim sum dish on a bed of Peruvian-style choclo purée (a large-kernel South American corn variety). Golden and crisp on the outside (there’s nothing worse than a soggy spring roll), the earthy and savoury filling of duck, carrot, mushroom and oyster sauce received an instant lift from a swipe through the sweet corn puree, a fine example of a dish which hits the sweet spot in the balancing act of cross-cultural culinary pollination. Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor

Chifa, G/F, 26 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2311 1815

Steak on Elgin

The dish: Chargrilled octopus (HK$185)

If the name didn’t give it away already, this SoHo newbie is all about beef, but for those who grew up on Bloomin’ Onions at Outback and jumbo crab cakes at the American steakhouse Ruth Chris, you’ll agree that appetisers and sides often make or break the steakhouse experience. At Steak on Elgin, starters take a lighter form to make way for the hefty steaks on offer (the porterhouse was our preferred cut), from a tray of pearly pink salmon gravlax bearing the tang of dill and pickled mustard seeds to the hand-cut steak tartare, made with dry-aged beef for extra funk. One starter that took us by surprise was the grilled octopus; often rubbery or mushy, we were pleased to find Steak on Elgin’s version perfectly cooked, the charred flesh dressed with a piquant anchovy, roasted garlic and caper sauce which sung off the plate. LY

Steak on Elgin, 59 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2627 0528

Mean Noodles

The dish: Nyonya Laksa

There are a handful of good laksa bowls around town, but I may have located my new favourite of this Southeast Asian staple at Mean Noodle, tucked away on New Market Street in Sheung Wan. The Nyonya Laksa, or “curry mee”, features a rich, spicy broth packed full of flavour and mobbed by a generous amount of juicy fresh prawns, tofu puffs, fish balls, bean sprouts, and half a boiled egg. Two types of noodles — egg noodles and vermicelli — add to the textural contrast as you slurp up the broth and its contents, enjoying the tension and interplay of spiciness, sweetness, tanginess, and a palpable funk from the characteristic shrimp paste. A glug of coconut milk finishes off the rich mouthfeel of the soup — and while it’s not the healthiest lunch in town, it makes for a pretty great weekday pick-me-up ($108 with set lunch). LY

Mean Noodles, Shop 4, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 3104 0288

Fukuro

The dish: Crispy caramel butter corn (HK$68)

There’s plenty to love about new nocturnal nightspot Fukuro, but if we were to pick one plate we wouldn’t mind nibbling on the whole night with copious glasses of whisky highballs, it’d be the crispy caramel butter corn. This inspired creation features corn on the cob cut into half-moons, dipped in a potato and corn starch batter and fried to a crisp golden brown. Infused in all the nooks and crannies of the individual kernels is a sweet and buttery caramel that lends the snack its luxurious, sweet-salty edge — like the best kettle corn you’ve ever had. I wish I could pop this into my bag for every cinema outing, but for now, I’ll have to settle for multiple late-night trips to Fukuro anytime the craving for crispy caramel corn hits. LY

Fukuro, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2333 8841

Gia Trattoria Italiana

The dish: Burrata e pomodori

There are more plates of burrata in this town than I can point a fork at — and an I’m very grateful for that — but if you’re looking for the best of the best, I’d suggest a visit to Fenwick Pier in Wan Chai. There, at Gia Trattoria Italiana, you’ll find a luscious plate of burrata cheese served atop a variety of wonderfully sweet tomatoes — all imported from Italy. There’s nothing groundbreaking about serving burrata and tomatoes, but as is always the case with the finest Italian food, it’s all about picking the best ingredients, which is exactly what the kitchen at Gia does so well. And now that the summer heat is in full swing, this is exactly the kind of light and refreshing yet incredibly delicious thing I’d like to eat all the time. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief

Gia Trattoria Italiana, 1/F Fleet Arcade, 1 Lung King Street, Fenwick Pier, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2511 8081

Mercato

The dish: Crispy chicken sandwich (HK$198)

I’m not really one for pancakes, waffles or French toast, so when it comes to weekend brunches, my taste buds steer me towards the savoury selections on the menu. Mercato recently revamped its brunch offerings — fear not, the beloved cinnamon sticky buns will never go away — and the highlight for me was the new crispy chicken sandwich. Piled on a brioche bun made in house, the chicken is fried to perfection with a light, crispy coating that encases the juicy meat inside. That’s not all: there’s also yuzu pickles, a fried egg, and a chilli aioli adding a harmonious variety of flavours and textures. The sandwich is served with some nicely roasted potatoes on the side. Do as I did and ask for a side of aioli for dipping those lovely spuds in. —MAC

Mercato, 8/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3706 8567

Fratelli

The dish: Tagliatelle Bolognese

I can never really say no to a plate of pasta no matter how hard I try (or how sluggish I inevitably feel afterwards), but while Italian restaurants in Hong Kong are rampant, I’ve been disappointed in my search to find really great handmade pasta that nails each individual component: pasta, sauce and toppings. Enter the Roopchand and Chellaram brothers’ latest Repulse Bay outfit, Fratelli — a fresh pasta bar which has the basics down pat. Their tagliatelle bolognese is hands-down one of the best pastas I’ve had in a while: supple strands of golden tagliatelle piled high in a hearty ragu that sings of fresh tomatoes, garlic and oregano — all served steaming hot and topped off with a flurry of freshly shaved parmesan cheese. LY

Fratelli, G/F, Shop 112B, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2887 0082

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