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.
The dish: Apple tarte tatin
Simon Rogan’s culinary wizardry is on full display at his debut Asia restaurants, Aulis and Roganic in Causeway Bay’s Sino Plaza. Aulis’ younger sibling, Roganic gives a more permanent platform to the development kitchen’s test dishes, and is an easy early contender for one of the best new restaurants of the year. The near-flawless menu glides from high to high, and while my attention usually starts to wane a bit by the time dessert rolls around — due to a combination of wilful gluttony through the mains and a predilection for sour/spicy flavours over sweet — I was smitten with the desserts at Roganic, which employ sugar both smartly and sparingly. The beautiful tarte tatin (available a la carte for HK$120 or as part of the tasting menu) is a feat of construction in itself, composed of layers upon layers of thinly sliced apples dipped in a light caramel and arranged in perfect circles, rounded out by a bright and zippy juniper sorbet which effectively balances out any risk of cloying sweetness. –Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Roganic, UG/F 08, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2817 8383
Eat Darling Eat
The dish: Baked Aloo Gobi
Indian food is inherently well-suited to vegetarian cuisine, with the profusion of wonderful spices and flavour-packed sauces adding enough bold, gut-punching flavour to make up for anything that might be missing from the lack of meat. And before you argue that a cauliflower dish can’t possibly make for a filling lunchtime option, I challenge you to try the Baked Aloo Gobi (HK$78 half / HK$130 whole) at newly opened Veda, where the head gets roasted until the florets are tender and melting, the whole brassica doused in a creamy and luscious, turmeric-tinted curry sauce, bolstered by lentils and grains. The golden nuggets of crispy potatoes on the side help pad out the dish, but I’d be happy with that creamy cauliflower alone any day of the week for a light yet supremely satisfying lunch. –LY
Veda, Ovolo Central, 2 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3755 3000
Bread Street Kitchen & Bar
The dish: Steak tartare
Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen & Bar has found its new home inside The Peak Galleria, which will play host to a slew of new restaurants this summer following a full renovation. In the meantime, visitors to The Peak have BSK to seek refuge at for a hearty meal, with an expanded menu (created by chef Gareth Packham) including crowd-pleasers such as fried buffalo chicken burgers, pesto and parmesan flatbread, and chocolate fondant. I can’t pass up a good steak tartare, and I was pleasantly surprised by Bread Street Kitchen’s version (HK$128), which is chunkier than the finely chopped version at the old BSK, and hit with a distinct smokiness. While most tartares veer towards the tangy with a wallop of capers and cornichons, BSK’s steers in another direction altogether, with the beefiness of the steak at the forefront, bolstered by a heavy hit of smoke. The egg yolk adds creaminess, and pickles and chives just enough acidity and tang to nod to the classic flavours of steak tartare while keeping its distinct individual spin.
Bread Street Kitchen & Bar, Shop G02, G/F, The Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, Hong Kong, +852 2350 3888
The dish: New Zealand John Dory with sauce meunière
Hugo’s is not a “cool” restaurant, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the moment you step into the main dining room — approach flanked by a quixotically placed suit of cavalry armour — you know the kind of gastronomic experience you’re in for. Here, forgotten culinary staples of the Mad Men era are served on gilded Christofle trolleys: there’s a wonderfully oxymoronic “beef salad”; whole lobsters served with vol-au-vent; and (my personal favourite) a huge fillet of John Dory lathered in sauce meunière (HK$520, includes appetisers/soup of the day and the dessert trolley). The latter is accompanied by lashings of parsley-flecked brown butter and some seasonal veg, leaving the fish to dominate the on-palate conversation. Hugo’s source their white fish from New Zealand, and the incredible salinity of those Antipodean waters makes for a fillet that is flaky, salty sweet and rich in succulence. The food bloggers can keep their edible art installations — this is earnest, in-your-gut satisfying cooking that must endure at any cost. –Randy Lai, Staff Writer
Hugo’s, Lobby, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3271 7733
The dish: Afternoon tea
While it may be bending the rules of this particular column, my gastronomic a ha moment at the newly launched Popinjays afternoon tea (HK$688 for two, includes tea or coffee) didn’t come in one bite, per se, but was a conscious culminating pleasure from the range of carefully constructed, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres. So many afternoon teas have started to relax standards recently in favour of the all-popular brand collabs that I especially appreciated the fact that Popinjays heralded a return back to classics, with a sumptuous two-tiered platter focusing on exacting pastry standards, attention-to-detail and tried-and-true combinations. The organic egg with Kristal caviar won the savoury snacks for me, while sweets from a light-as-air raspberry macaron to a dark chocolate tart with a fine pastry crust proved the kitchen’s skill with classic French pastry techniques. To enhance the experience, don’t miss out on the Popinjays Signature Scones (cherry jubilee or blood orange) which are flambéed tableside for a side of theatrics (add HK$90).
Popinjays, 26/F, The Murray, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3141 8888