Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the last week: Those which renewed our love for established venues; caught our attention at a new opening; or freshly impressed upon us the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street snacks to meticulously prepared tasting menus, these are the best dishes to try in Hong Kong, and the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.
These were the best dishes we supped on and savoured this week:
The dish: Gwei Roll (HK$78)
A reoccurring theme that a few devoted readers of the Best Bites and Best Sips columns here have picked up on is that I, dear reader, am trash! As such, when it comes to seafood, the only thing more enticing than cracking open a buttery, juicy leg of crab is unpeeling the plastic around a big ol’ spear of the fake stuff. Crab stick, krab with a “k”, imitation crab, whatever you call it — I don’t know what it’s made of, I don’t know where it comes from, and like the origins of the “tuna” on a Subway sandwich, I’d probably be better off not knowing. Where was I? Oh yeah. The snow crab udon — made with the real stuff — made Wil Fang’s newest opening, Rollie, a quick favourite for the “Best Noodle” category at The MMMs Awards. But I’d also like to extend a round of applause to Rollie’s handrolls, namely, the “Gwei Roll”, which unites crab stick with actual crab meat, crab roe, avo, cuke and egg. Yes, it’s a Cali roll, as only this “Far East meets West Coast” sushi bar could do it. And I’m so glad they did. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Rollie, G/F, 32 Cochrane St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2845 9244
Ho Lee Fook
The dish: Crispy-Skinned Three Yellow Chicken, Sand Ginger, Spring Onion Sauce (HK$288)
Among the chicken dishes in Cantonese cuisine, the crispy chicken probably ranks at the top end of Most Favourites. It’s unlike its soy sauce or poached (white-cut) counterparts which can be either too saucy or too bland — an experience dependent on changing appetites. But the crispy chicken, I’ll say, is actually a delicious and ingenious blend of both. It’s flavoured by its crispy exterior and kept very mild within.
Chef ArChan Chan’s rendition at the renewed Ho Lee Fook is a close-call to the original. It takes on the very authentic form of light and extremely thin skin that crackled and crunched against the tender and silky-soft meat underneath. And perhaps the best part of this dish, a spring onion sauce that tastes fresher than usual, lighter than usual and tastier than usual. Magic! Chef Chan reveals the secret to be an added portion of fresh sand ginger, blended in thoroughly with finely chopped spring onions for a delicious condiment that held its own — I’ll admit I ate spoonfuls of just the spring onion sauce. Anyone who harbours a single inkling of doubt for this simple dish, thinking of swapping it with something more unique and “special”, ought to be cast away immediately. It’s unlike any you’ve tasted at your local siu mei stall. And you’ll easily finish a single plate on your own — it disappeared within seconds on our table. — Lorria Sahmet, Editor
Ho Lee Fook, G/F, 1-5 Elgin Street, SoHo, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2810 0860
18f Hot Pot
The dish: Chicken Hot Pot (Prices starting from HK$248 per person for Set C)
When the weather gets a little, well, not frightful — we’re in Hong Kong, after all. But when our four-day window of Relatively Cool Temperatures arrive, best believe I’m diving face-first into the warmest, soupiest receptacle I can find.
And on a casual Wednesday evening meet-up this week (Hi Inés! Love you!), my face met the Chicken Hot Pot at 18f Hot Pot — and what an introduction it was. To the uninitiated, Chicken Hot Pot, unlike regular, no-prefix hot pot, begins with a, well, chicken stew. It’s saucy and spicy, served up steaming in the hot pot-pot (that you’ll use later in the second act of a Chicken Hot Pot experience: regular hot pot) alongside chilli and rings of red onion and, stars of the show, skin-on chicken. It’s the kind of dish that warms from within; the kind you’d want to dig in and get fingers (and palms and maybe parts of your face, too) deliciously filthy. And after it’s all gone (which, at our table, took barely five minutes), you dump in the jug of soup sitting pretty at the end of your table, and begin the hot pot experience. Get the Australian Wagyu and honeycomb tofu. — Joey Wong, Editor
18f Hot Pot, 18/F, Chong Hing Square, 593-601 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, +852 2390 5390
MAJO Tapas Paella Bar
The dish: Fideuà (HK$160)
No, it’s not a paella, though it sure looks like one. Literally translated as “large amount of noodles”, fideuà originates from the coast of Valencia and is traditionally a seafood dish. True to its heritage, this version at MAJO is cooked with the Seafood of the Day — today’s being mussels, prawns, clams and scallop — and doused in a tangy, lip-smackingly delicious tomato sauce. I’m currently limiting my carb intake, so I took a measly portion to start, but that resolve ended very quickly after my first bite. Flavour-packed and utterly moreish, I had another two servings before I could really think about my expanding waistline. So, so dangerous. So, so delicious. Dieters beware. — Sandra Kwong, Features Editor
MAJO Tapas Paella Bar, 22 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong +852 2529 3001
Cali-Mex Bar & Grill
The dish: Nachos (HK$148)
If you feel like having Mexican food, nachos are a classic dish you’d probably go for. Carbs, protein, veggies, sauces and the most indispensable part — cheese! Nachos has it all!
The grilled chicken was piled on yellow corn chips, which also had some onion and spicy jalapeños, then was drizzled over with ranch dressing. It also had vegetarian fillings. Topped with cheese, beans, guacamole and salsa, nachos might look messy, but they’re so tasty, you can’t resist having more than just one bite. When you’re hungry for just the right snack, even for your weeknight dinner, there’s nothing more flavourful than a bowl of crispy nachos. — Jingchuan Zhang, Editorial Intern
Cali-Mex Bar & Grill, 26 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2680 9083