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New Eats: Nostalgic flavours from Margo’s chef Mario, Penicillin’s seasonal bar snacks and more

Soak up the sunshine at these venues — no al fresco spots on this list, sorry! — but you can always head out after.

Sunshine weather is back and with that some good news to kick off this short, four-day week: Next Monday is another long weekend. Eight per table dining returns on Thursday, so do beaches and mask-free outdoor exercises. And bars — nightlife in general — will resume on 19 May, keep doors open all the way till 2am. So there’s a lot to look forward to and lots of planning to be done.

Between planning your great return back into social life, here are some things happening around the restaurant scene for your next meal out this week. Just in time for this Thursday eve’s new eats!

When photography meets gastronomy at Margo

new eats 3 May

The stylish dining room of modern European restaurant, Margo, has always been a spectacular stage for head chef Mario Paecke’s Bavarian cooking and east German flavours, and now it’s also a destination for chef Mario’s keen eye for urban photography — you can peruse some of his exclusive snapshots at the upstairs martini bar, Kyle & Bain.

Drawing parallels between his two passion that both demand exacting precision, chef Mario debuts two new tasting menus that gesture towards photography terms: a six-course “Focus” and a longer, eight-course “Exposure”. Both will highlight contemporary European flavours in stunning, photo-worthy dishes like a cured Rainbow Trout served with dill mayonnaise over a German-style pizza bread “Flammkuchen” cracker; “Three Yellow Chicken” Ragout Fin, chef Mario’s childhood dish, with morel mushrooms; Hokkaido Scallops with an reinterpreted Waldorf salad from one of chef Mario’s earliest dishes at culinary school; and a Bavarian-inspired pork belly, made with Okinawan pork, marinated with German Erdinger beer, slow-cooked for 12 hours, then roasted and glazed with beer reduction and a drizzle of local honey. The menu ends with “Dresdner Eierschecke”, a sweet dessert of chef Mario’s grandmother’s recipe with strawberry parfait, quark cheese cheesecake and vanilla custard.

Margo, Shop 6, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2130 7731

Brand new French-Indian classics at Pondi

Another new eat, intimate French-Indian bistro, Pondi, unveils a brand new menu that continues its showcase of refined French techniques meets aromatic Indian flavours as inspired by the city of Pondicherry — a former French colony in India. Chef George Kwok’s dishes of the post-colonial landscape aptly touches upon the uniquely hybridised cuisine with tamarind roasted beetroot; red prawn tartare in a bouillabaisse reduction with tangy hari chutney; grilled “three-yellow” butter chicken served with a Cantonese-inspired scallion salsa; escargot gratin with porcini duxelles, lemongrass basil butter and sambal breadcrumbs; and a duck rillette with duck jus curry and sour cherry gel.

Pondi, 14 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 6113 0195

Don’t Miss: Penicillin’s Seasonal Bar Bites

You’d typically head to Penicillin for its delicious house-made ferments and creative range of sustainable cocktails and highballs all made in a closed-loop process with ingredients sourced locally, but now you have another reason to patronise this #22 on Asia’s 50 Best: the snacks. A menu of light bites that link back to the same ingredients used in the boozy tipples — and prepared by the bar’s talented kitchen crew — top favourites include pulled pork tacos, piri-piri style grilled chicken, spiced shio-koji chicken with yuzu mayo, and to highlight the bar’s pledge to staying green, whey lacto-fermented fries. The menu is seasonal, which means it’ll change continuously. So if you’ve found something you love, make sure to go back thrice weekly before it disappears.

Penicillin, L/G, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9880 7995

May Chow of Little Bao presents The Baodown

new eats 3 May

Another new eats’ collaborative chef series to note: May Chow of Little Bao introduces The Baodown, a one-day only, no-reservations event that’s designed to showcase comfort foods in a delicious new light.

Launching on 8 May with the first instalment set to feature Censu’s Shun Sato, the exclusive menu showcases chef Shun’s modernised twist on nostalgic izakaya plates with chicken pomelo salad, a starter that touches on various Asian flavours including Japanese mizuna to Vietnamese Nuoc Cham sauce; Toothpick Beef, a dukkah-seasoned Australian ribeye; Maze Soba with shiitake minced pork and creamy egg yolk tossed in roasted sesame sauce; and the Censu Bao, a renewed edition of Little Bao’s fluffy classic with crispy pork katsu, peppery kimchi shirodashi mayo and crunchy cold slaw.

Little Bao SoHo, 1-3 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 6794 8414

An asparagus-centric menu at 181 Fortnum & Mason for spring

new eats 3 May

Dedication to the season of spring is typically indicated through light pastel shades and the overuse of crushed, ditsy florals. But in the world of gastronomy, it’s the prevalent use of lighter, fresher, brighter produce like asparagus. Which is exactly what gourmet British-style café 181 Fortnum & Mason has in store on their new menu. Classic British flavours are touched up with the asparagus’ shade of bright green, in dishes like salmon gravlax and poached salmon; jam seared scallops; crispy pan-seared duck; and the dedicated dish of British asparagus, grilled and served with wafer thin San Daniele prosciutto and a Dijon sauce of 24-month aged parmesan and lemon.

181 Fortnum & Mason, Shop 022, G/F K11 Atelier, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3916 8181

Changing of the Gelatos at Messina

new eats 3 May

Change isn’t always easy, but in some cases, like Messina’s runway of gelato flavours, change can bring happy surprises. Just before you agree, however, it’s worth knowing that Messina has replaced crowd-favourites, Tofu Fa and Jack of All Fruits, with two new Hong Kong exclusives: The Salted Duck Egg Dulce, a riff on the savoury golden-yellow craze that swept the city with a dulce-based gelato spread with salted duck egg purée and topped with crunchy egg yolk crumbs. And the other, the conventional cha chaan teng classic of Hong Kong French Toast, churned with a peanut butter gelato base with condensed milk ribbons and chunks of bite-size, syrup-drenched French toast swirled within. An approved change? Have a taste and let us know.

Messina, 37 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong

Header image courtesy of Penicillin
New Eats: Nostalgic flavours from Margo’s chef Mario, Penicillin’s seasonal bar snacks and more

After two years writing in luxury retail, Lorria now covers food and drink happenings in Hong Kong. When not taste-testing for the best fries in the city (shoestring, always!), find her at home obsessing over tableware and attempting a fruit garden on her tiny bay window. She is happiest by the ocean with a giant fishbowl-glass of Aperol Spritz.

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