With the holidays coming up, it’s time to ditch your summer diet and embrace the winter weight before New Year’s resolutions roll around again. This month, we’re giving you plenty of reasons to let loose and eat to your heart’s content, with a slew of new restaurant-bars, burger joints and fine-dining restaurants to check out around town. From delicious dim sum to hearty Italian pasta and piri-piri chicken, there’s plenty to savour around town this month. Grab a fork and dig in to November’s best new restaurant openings.
Casa Don Alfonso
We don’t always write about openings in Macau, it’s true, but we have a feeling this one is going to be worth the ferry ride. This month, Grand Lisboa Macau is transforming its Italian fine-dining establishment, Don Alfonso 1890, into Casa Don Alfonso. Helmed by chef Claudio Favero, the new family-style, casual dining concept will feature the authentic flavours of southern Italy in an antipasti buffet set lunch and an à la carte menu in the evening. (Weekend brunch will be launched later this year.) One of Casa Don Alfonso’s highlights will be the pizzas, cooked in less than a minute inside an electric Izzo Scugnizzo oven that can reach up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. For this special task, the restaurant has hired pizzaiolo Maurizio Ferrini — a native of Naples, Italy — to ensure that every pie is authentic and perfect.
Casa Don Alfonso, 3/F, Grand Lisboa Macau, Avenida de Lisboa, Macau, +853 8803 7722
This newcomer has quietly popped up on Kau U Fong, led by chef Barry Quek, a graduate of the Joël Robuchon school of cooking. After training for two years at Joël Robuchon Restaurant in Singapore, Quek continued to hone his craft in Europe and Australia, with stints at De Wulf in Belgium and the world-famous Attica in Melbourne. Now helming his own kitchen, chef Quek is aiming to showcase progressive cooking techniques with a focus on clean, produce-driven dishes that make a statement on the plate. From the looks of the menu, we can’t wait to give Beet a try: from porc noir de Bigorre with charred radicchio and blackberry to wild mushrooms with a walnut emulsion and hamachi crudo paired with kefir cream and caviar. The five-course tasting menu is priced at HK$690, a reasonable deal for the quality of produce and technique on display.
Beet is open from Tuesday–Sunday from 6:30pm for dinner service, Thursday–Saturday from 12–2pm for lunch service.
Beet, 6 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2824 3898
Originally opened in 2010, La Piola gained a reputation over the years as one of the best spots in Hong Kong for Italian aperitivo and happy hour, with many mourning its closing in 2016. Now, the Italian comfort food haven is back at a new location in Wan Chai. The home-style Italian spot is set to serve up the same comforting, authentic and approachable fare that first garnered it a loyal following, with an attractive new setting in the same heritage building that houses The Pawn.
Specialising in food from Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, the trattoria will serve dishes such as grilled zucchini & poached pear and veal carpaccio for starters; and homemade tajarin pasta (a specialty of Piedmont made with egg yolks) with sausage and leek; spicy salami pizza and Kurobuta pork chop schnitzel with melted Fontina as mains. The restaurant encompasses two main dining rooms — one casual and one more upscale — but the bar is where you’ll want to head for afternoon aperitivo with an Aperol spritz or Negroni in hand.
La Piola, G/F, 60A-66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2806 1028
OTE, the new extension of Ocean Terminal in Harbour City has been welcoming a host of brand new restaurants and cafes lately, the latest of which is a contemporary Chinese restaurant called HEXA. Inspired by the swinging ’60s, HEXA boasts dramatic interiors in swaths of turquoise and forest green, accented by walls of brass and copper and a wraparound, dark-green marble bar. The elevator neatly divides the restaurant into two wings: the ‘Love’ wing on the right is outfitted in leather, faux fur, velvet metal and floral patterns; while the ‘Passion’ area on the left is an open-air lounge with low-rise armchairs and tables spilling out into the outdoor garden terrace. Start your night with a smooth cocktail, then dig into dishes such as steamed pork dumplings with black garlic, king prawns tossed in salted egg yolk, steamed bamboo charcoal shrimp dumplings and smoked chicken with longjing tea. On weekends, the lawn will play host to international DJs curated by the entertainment team in charge of the popular Club Cubic in Macau.
HEXA, Shop OTE101, G/F, Harbour City, Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2577 1668
Symphony by Jade
Hong Kong’s theatregoers now have a new pre-show dinner spot: Symphony by Jade, the latest outlet from Maxim’s Group, which has just opened at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui. Head here for panoramic views of the harbour complemented by a traditional menu of Cantonese dishes such as deep-fried prawns with mango-mayonnaise dressing, fried cod fillets with spicy sauce, fried diced pork with black vinegar sauce, braised beef briskets in curry sauce, and warming Cantonese soups such as double-boiled chicken and matsutake soup. Of special note is the adorable, animal-shaped dim sum which will no doubt be making the rounds on Instagram soon: from steamed shrimp and bamboo-pith dumplings shaped like goldfish to the deep-fried creamy yolk buns made to look like tiny echidna anteaters.
Symphony by Jade, 1/F, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Restaurant Block, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2722 0932
J’s Bar Bistro
Adding to its stable of seven restaurants and bars — including longstanding favourites Sabatini and Dong Lai Shun — The Royal Garden Hotel in East Tsim Sha Tsui recently unveiled J’s Bar Bistro, a European-inspired bar and restaurant. A social concept that fuses elegant European furnishings (think a palette of wood, bronze and brass) with a modern bar vibe, the all-day spot will serve up tapas, yakitori and a selection of specialty cheeses from France, paired with signature cocktails and an extensive wine list. The international bar menu has been executed by head chef Lui Wang-chi, and includes dishes such as heirloom tomato with balsamic and mustard sorbet, pan-fried scallops with cauliflower, and mini wagyu beef burgers. Meanwhile, innovative cocktails are shaken up by resident mixologist Stanley Au. For those looking for a new spot for happy hour and drinks in TST, J’s Bar Bistro should be at the top of your list.
J’s Bar Bistro, 2/F, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong, +852 2733 2088
Central’s favourite piri-piri chicken joint, Flaming Frango has recently uprooted from its longtime storefront on Staunton Street to move into a newly renovated space on Elgin Street, taking over the old Tipping Point space. Along with the upgrade to a 2,000-square-foot, full-service restaurant, Flaming Frango is unveiling an extended food menu and bar program, as well as eight beers on tap and flat-screen TVs for sports fans. Lunch-goers will have the chance to try the newly invented piri-piri chicken bowl (HK$78), featuring Flaming Frango’s signature flame-grilled chicken in a DIY lunch set with your choice of toppings and salad, quinoa or Frango rice. Other new dishes on the menu include quinoa & feta cakes, Flaming Frango bruschetta, sherry garlic beef, piri-piri homemade chicken meatballs and spicy grilled prawns. Don’t forget to wash it all down with the draft beers on tap or a “Piri-Piri” Chocolate Martini.
Flaming Frango Piri-Piri Kitchen & Bar, G/F Escapade, 55 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2556 7555
Nothing beats digging into a glorious plate of Peking duck — the burnished, brown-lacquered crispy skin giving way to tender and juicy meat that’s been slow-roasted in the oven. You can dig into this delicacy by way of Beijing at newly opened Zither Garden, situated in the dining hub of QRE Plaza in Wan Chai. Under the guidance of head chef Yen, a transplant from famous Beijing Peking duck restaurant QuanJude Roast Duck, the main event here is air-dried for up to 44 hours and roasted for 60 minutes, giving it that signature shiny-brown crackling skin.
It’s carved traditionally and served three ways: crispy skin dipped in sugar, meat carved from the breast, and skin and meat together, wrapped in thin pancakes with a dab of hoisin, cucumber and spring onions. Other signatures on the menu include the seasonal whole crab with rice cakes and the Eight Treasure Duck, featuring a whole duck marinated and stuffed with eight different ingredients before being braised for tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.
Zither Garden, 19/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queens Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2351 0528
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan
While Hong Kong still doesn’t hold a candle to Shanghai when it comes to dishing up perfectly thin-skinned, juicy xiao long bao, Singapore-based chain Crystal Jade has always been a contender for one of the city’s best renditions. Adding to Yuen Long’s diverse and growing food scene, Crystal Jade Jiang Nan has just opened in YOHO Mall II, giving Yuen Long residents a taste of the acclaimed Wan Chai flagship. Authentic Jiang Nan flavours are on display at Crystal Jade’s sister restaurant, with dishes including deep-fried baby yellow fish with salt and pepper, scrambled egg white with dried scallop, braised “lion’s head” meatballs, sautéed diced chicken with dried chilli and simmered shredded bean curd with chicken and ham. Of course, Crystal Jade’s sumptuous dim sum menu is a main highlight, from the plump xiao long bao to deep-fried radish puffs, truffle siu mai and pan-fried radish cakes. Stop by the Wan Chai or Yuen Long locations for your dim sum fix and a taste of award-winning Jiang Nan cuisine.
Crystal Jade Jiang Nan, Shop 2045, 2/F, Yoho Mall II, 9 Yuen Lung Street, Yuen Long, Hong Kong, +852 2455 1828
With plant-based eating on the rise in recent years, Hong Kong has seen a steady climb of vegetarian restaurants doing their part to assimilate healthy eating into our everyday diets. Located on Wing Lok Street, Veggi Monster is the latest burger joint looking to bring the style and comfort-food factor back into vegetarian dining, with its brand of vegan burgers based on balanced, all-natural ingredients. The creative patties are made from a range of vegan-friendly ingredients, including organic black beans, truffle sauce, quinoa and black sugar in the Burger in Black; wild porcini mushroom powder with Japanese pearl rice and seaweed in the Oriental Freshness; and a tofu patty mixed with millet, carrot, potato and paprika in the Tofu Lover burger. All priced at less than HK$80, the takeaway burger spotmakes for a healthy and affordable lunch option for Centralites, paired with the small range of colourful salads and desserts on display.
Veggi Monster, Shop B, G/F, Cheungs Building, 1 Wing Lok Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2886 0325