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.
The best dishes we supped on and savoured this week:
The dish: Pulled Pork Tacos (HK$118)
Some days, you just wake up with a hankering for a perfect Penicillin hot dog. But some days, Penicillin may not be serving said perfect hot dog — the menu does say “Seasonal,” so you knew this going in — and you must pick something else. Anything else. So, in lieu of hot dog, I had pulled pork tacos (and koji fried chicken, and chicken skewers; all delicious) last Saturday afternoon. What a revelation.
The three-count tacos’ tender, saucy carnitas sit nestled in salsa and red cabbage and pickled somethin’-somethin’s atop a soft, flour tortilla (my preference) and, my god, you need to try this. It’s perfect. It’s the Platonic ideal of a taco. It’s the taco emoji, followed by the drool-mouth emoji. Your kind waiter will bring over a hot sauce made from chapulines and you might simply nod and pretend you know what it is, like I did. You might not know it means crushed grasshoppers, and you might be better off not knowing. But, coming from someone quite (very) squeamish, it was, simply, a rather delicate hot sauce. Great on tacos, especially these.
Consider yourself forewarned. They’re seasonal. Get ‘em before they disappear forever. — Joey Wong, Editor
Penicillin, Amber Lodge, L/G, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9880 7995
The dish: Dry Aged Tuna Merguez Sausage, ½ Dozen Oysri Oyster, Rye Bread, Seaweed Butter (HK$638)
The Best Bites designation for this dish at Percy’s is a bit of misnomer, because while I adored everything on the plate — incredibly freshOysri Oysters and an interesting rendition of the typically meaty merguez remade with house-made dry-aged tuna — I’m cherry-picking the rye bread and seaweed butter (especially the seaweed butter) on its own as the best of this week. But since it comes on the menu as a full combo plate, a taste of that gloriously delicious seaweed butter will mean you’ll have to get the rest.
Unless you manage to sneak a side on its own, you’ll have to shell out HK$600 for it. But, it’s not just butter. You’ll find yourself face to face with what possibly is the best butter, let alone seaweed butter, on Earth. Light, airy and creamy with an umami-rich savouriness, it spreads on silky smooth atop the freshly based rye bread for a perfect bite. Goldilocks will eat up the whole ramekin. Swirled within are tiny seaweed flakes that add a little texture in-between the fluffy spread and toasty bread. I’d love a whole stick for my fridge, please. By the way, if you find yourself loving the tuna merguez, go for the shrimp chorizo, too — my favourite out of the two. But no seaweed butter with that order, unfortunately. — Lorria Sahmet, Editor
Percy’s, 18-18A Shelley Street, Mid-Levels, +852 2898 2699
Garden Lounge, The Murray Hong Kong
The dish: Chilean Sea Bass With Spicy Tomato Ragout (HK$385)
With the weather brightening up and getting warmer (save for the unfortunate three days of rain we had in the weekend), I’ve been doing a lot of alfresco dining. This is surprising for me because I usually prefer to sit indoors — something about the wind blowing stuff into my food and mosquitoes feeding on my legs while I’m outside eating makes me adverse to the great outdoors… but I digress.
While looking for best bites, a new dining spot I recently rediscovered is the Garden Lounge at The Murray Hong Kong, where you are given a choice between pet-friendly outdoor seating or comfortable, lightly air-conditioned indoor seating. On this particular occasion, I chose to sit inside — but right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows, so I could enjoy the sunlight while I had my lunch.
From the restaurant’s all-day dining menu, I opted for the Chilean Sea Bass With Spicy Tomato Ragout. I was deliberating between this and a salad, and am I glad I chose the sea bass in the end! Soft and buttery with a slightly golden hue, the fillet comes topped with sauteed fennel and a drizzle of pesto sauce, making it the ultimate light lunch for spring and summer. Surprisingly, though, the standout wasn’t the fish for me — although it was good, too — but rather the tomato ragout. If you like ratatouille, tomato stew or anything tomato-based, this one’s for you. It takes the best of summer produce and packages it all together with a smoky, charred flavour that transports me right to southern France — where, apparently, ragout has its origins. — Charmaine Ng, Editor
Garden Lounge, UG Level, The Murray Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3141 8888
The dish: Spicy Lamb Tacos (HK$128, you actually get 4 pieces per plate, excuse my image)
Not to be impressionable, but are these the best bites I’ve had in a good while? I believe so, because frankly my mind keeps wandering back to 8Five2 Restobar’s Spicy Lamb Tacos ever since we bade farewell. They are great on multiple levels: to start off, the presentation is nothing short of simplistic and classy. Then you have the spices and sauces united in holy matrimony for a powerful (also gross but finger-licking good) flavour. But most importantly, to a meat lover, you can smell the lamb from miles away. — Michelle Chan, Editor
8Five2 Restobar, Shop 2, G/F, 8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2618 8854