Believe it or not, it’s December already! As we rush towards the whirlwind of holiday parties,end-of-year gatherings and the festive onslaught of Christmas and New Year’s, 2018 is wrapping up with a bang thanks to a plethora of new restaurants opening before 2019 begins. This month, in between all the holiday feasting and homemade turkey dinners, you’ll want to save your appetite for these stellar new F&B offerings around town, from modern Cantonese diners to a Prohibition era-inspired American restaurant and a classic red sauce joint. Take a look at the 10 best new Hong Kong restaurants to try out this month.
Prominent F&B group Lai Sun Dining (operators of institutions such as 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana and Howard’s Gourmet) debuts two brand restaurants inside the newly opened Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel this month. The first is a sophisticated Cantonese diner featuring the specialties of Shunde cuisine; named Canton Bistro, the contemporary restaurant emphasises the provenance and sustainability of its ingredients, all of which have been carefully sourced from premium, artisanal producers. Executive Chefs Chow Fu Yup and You Jie Yi lead the kitchen here, executing traditional regional dishes on top of a variety of dim sum (available daily from 11:30am to 4:30pm), from perfectly pleated har gau to deep-fried pork croquettes and steamed soup dumplings with abalone, conpoy and mushrooms.
Main dishes draw from a wide breadth of cooking techniques — from steaming to stewing, baking to braising — with specialties including the fiery stir-fried roche shrimp with Chinese red pepper, pan-fried abalone with garlic and ginger, and gut-warming minced fish soup with shredded black fungus and bamboo shoot. Chef You draws from his Shunde background to highlight some of the novelty cooking techniques of the region, with a special emphasis on river seafood as one of the core building blocks of the cuisine. The sustainability-minded menu goes one step forward with specially curated menus for WWF-Hong Kong‘s seafood guide, and eco-friendly practices such as biodegradable takeaway containers and paper straws.
Canton Bistro, G/F, Club Wing, Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, 180 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 3555 1910
Prohibition Grill House & Cocktail Bar
The second venue from Lai Sun Dining inside the new Marriott is a cosy, relaxed offering of nostalgic American dishes and classic Prohibition era-inspired cocktails with a contemporary twist. Boasting intimate vibes, Prohibition Grill House & Cocktail Bar pays homage to the 1920s (the original era of speakeasies), brought to life with décor by Remedios Studio: think atmospheric lighting, plush red velvet curtains and a raw materials such as brick, leather and copper. The sophisticated drinking den is framed by large art pieces on the walls, while the gentlemen’s club vibe is enhanced by a collection of gentry hats and Oxford shoes along the shelves.
As for the menu, Executive Chef Jason R. Loyd steers the ship here in a meat-heavy menu bolstered by his butchery expertise. With a background cooking in both the US and Hong Kong, the menu here draws from both sides of the Pacific, catering to carnivores with options such as beef tartare, New York-style pastrami and USDA Prime bone-in ribeye, dry-aged for 28 days to yield a rich depth of flavour. If meat’s not up your alley, choose from a handful of seafood-focused dishes, from creamy seafood chowder to scallop ceviche and whisky-cured Atlantic salmon tartare, while a lunch buffet salad bar is also available for HK$268 per person.
Prohibition Grill House & Cocktail Bar, G/F, Club Wing, Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, 180 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 3555 1900
Frank’s Italian American
Hong Kong is getting an old-school Italian-American red sauce joint with the opening of Frank’s Italian American this month, complete with red checked tablecloths and a winning wine list. The restaurant is open by Todd Darling, founder of Homegrown Foods, which also runs sister Italian eateries Posto Pubblico and Linguini Fini. Taking up two spacious stories at the corner of Wyndham Street, Arbuthnot Road and Hollywood Road, Frank’s Italian American is named after Frank Amen — a legendary restaurateur from Darling’s early days in hospitality, and one of his key mentors.
In the upstairs dining room, guests can dine on traditional red sauce dishes such as zuppa di mare, elevated with a whole lobster and a host of fresh ocean produce; and chicken parm with Frank’s homemade mozzarella and tomato sauce — all while chilling out to a mix of jazz and soul played off of first-press vinyl records. Meanwhile, downstairs is a more casual affair, with a bar serving up unfussy and affordable cocktails to be savoured alongside an antipasti selection of Italian street food — think breaded and deep-fried suppli, fried anchovies, and 6-inch bar pizzas loaded with fresh hand-crushed tomatoes, basil and garlic. Given the popularity of Posto and Linguini Fini, we have no doubts that Frank’s Italian American is set to become an instant fan favourite.
Frank’s Italian American, Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, website coming soon
From the creators of Wan Chai sandwich shop Bread & Beast comes KONG, a progressive Cantonese diner specialising in locally-inspired fare that pays homage to the founders’ roots. Unveiled last month, the all-day sandwich eatery will be turned into a sit-down restaurant and cocktail bar after sunset, with boundary-pushing dishes that dabble in a mix of Hong Kong and Western flavours, while adhering to the same quirky and playful flavour combinations as Bread & Beast.
Dishes at KONG celebrate the spirit of Cantonese cuisine with modern inflections, from the “Angry Cauli” with slow-cooked charred cauliflower in toban djan broth; to the “KONG Fried Chicken”, golden-fried poultry dished up with preserved lemon jam and dried plum shichimi. Other highlights include cherry kola brisket cheung fun (pictured here), and the shelter crab cheesy cheung fun covered in X.O. sauce. Meanwhile, the shop has been transformed with touches of terrazzo and handcrafted white tiles, while a lively soundtrack, a brand new cocktail list and trivia nights are sure to inject a lively atmosphere into the hip eatery.
KONG, 3 Swatow Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2237 1868
While pizza lovers are still mourning the untimely closing of beloved LKF eatery Mercato, the good news is there’s a brand new pizzeria on the horizon promising authentic Neapolitan-style pies. Opening this month, Homeslice in Sai Ying Pun is hoping to snag its share of the city’s pie, so to speak, with its combination of authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas, small plates and desserts all rooted in 100% authentic Italian culinary traditions.
Dinner kicks off here with palate whetters such as homemade burrata with figs, black olives and rucola, and padron peppers with Pedro Ximénez grapes; followed by your choice of 48-hour fermented sourdough pizzas all boasting a pillowy crust encircling the trademark gooey centre of Neapolitan pies. Expect toppings to range from tried-and-true combinations such as gorgonzola dolce, taleggio and mozzarella; to more unconventional offerings such as the intriguing French abate fetel pear pizza. The casual pizzeria is also conducive to late-night munchies with a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack and a drinks list comprised of spirit-forward house cocktails and Italian sippers.
Homeslice, Shop 3, 321 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 3619 4026
A Happy Pancake
Dessert fiends have a new destination to get their fix of sugar and syrup at the recently opened A Happy Pancake in Causeway Bay. An import from Osaka, the dream-like pancakes here have already taken social media by storm, with the almost soufflé-like cakes boasting a perfect golden brown surface with a gorgeous dusting of powdered sugar. With the chains commitment to using no additives and no baking powder, the pancakes are steamed instead of pan-cooked, resulting in an ultra light and airy interior and melt-worthy texture. Get the sweet pancakes in all flavours ranging from matcha with butter and syrup to red bean cream and banana with chocolate sauce; or opt for the savoury “Meal Pancakes” with your choice of breakfast dish paired with bacon, eggs and wheat pancakes.
A Happy Pancake, Shop 203-205, 2/F, Lee Garden Three, 10 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2338 4315
Hong Kong is littered with siu mei shops, but Chop Chop represents a distinct return to form with humble Cantonese recipes perfected by the master chef Dai Lung, known for his portrayal in the movie God of Cookery. Served up in the modern-retro style of Cantonese diner that’s become a hot trend in recent years, Chop Chop delivers those familiar dishes of childhood with careful and thoughtful execution.
Checking the photogenic box for social media-savvy diners, the signature dish is the generous char siu bowl, a gleaming helping of succulent pork belly slices boasting an attractive lacquer and dark bits of caramelisation, arranged on a bed of fragrant rice and topped with bak choy and a sunny-side-up egg. The meat is succulent and fragrant, thanks to a marination in high-proofed Chinese rose wine. The other siu mei offerings are just as noteworthy: crispy pork, roasted goose, and yellow and soy chicken — all classic to a tee. The contemporary setting encourages you to stay and linger over your meal with perhaps a few glasses of wines — not your average proposition for a street-side siu mei shop.
Chop Chop, Shop 3, G/F, 18 Wang On Road, Fortress Hill, Hong Kong, +852 3618 7718
From El Grande group comes this Belgian restaurant offering a taste of the region that extends well beyond chocolate and waffles. Mirroring the lively atmosphere of Causeway Bay, the bold setting is splashed in colour with kooky décor elements — from open umbrellas hanging from the ceiling to giant mirrors mounted at odd angles, plus abstract artwork by Belgian surrealist artist Magritte. In this upside-down environment, diners can enjoy the sumptuous dishes of chef Benjamin Leib (formerly of Michelin-starred restaurants Le Grand Ecuyer and Guy Savoy) — think excellently prepared moules-frites (including an Asian-inspired version with a Thai red coconut curry), carbonnade flamande (a beef-and-beer stew hailing from Flanders), sole goujons and chips with house-made tartar, and seafood waterzooi — a classic Flemish stew with seafood and vegetables in a white wine and cream sauce. Chase it down with over 30 types of premium Belgian beers, alongside spirits and wines.
Belgos, G/F, Lee Garden Three, 8 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2111 1197
Those passing through the shiny new West Kowloon terminus of the recently completed high-speed Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (a massive HK$84.4 billion project) will want to make a pit stop at the food court to visit Hipster Burger, a grab ‘n’ go burger bar that’s a joint collaboration between alumni from notable Hong Kong hotels. The offering here abides by a classic burger formula: soft, squishy buns; juicy, all-beef patties; and carefully constructed toppings in balanced ratios of patty to lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. The compact burgers can be devoured on the go or sitting at the metal counters, with offerings ranging from bacon and fried egg to fish fillet, sweet onion and mushroom, all served up for the wallet-friendly prices of HK$72–$88 per burger. Sets also come with a basket of fries and a small green salad.
Hipster Burger, B2 Foodium, West Kowloon Railway Station, Hong Kong
What to Eat
The perpetually long queues outside of this diner are proof alone of the mouthwatering dishes that await patient patrons inside. The somewhat cringeworthy name may raise a few eyebrows, but duck into the nondescript eatery and you’ll be met with a fantastic assortment of homely Taiwanese eats prepared with healthy, MSG-free ingredients. Pure comfort food, the offerings here include all your classic Taiwanese street bowls based on the alternative food pyramid of pork, beef and carbs — think savoury bowls of braised pork with fluffy rice, deep-fried pork chops, salt and pepper chicken, Taiwanese pork noodles, and steaming bowls of niu rou mian, or braised beef noodles. A variety of egg rolls come with different fillings such as corn, ham and cheese, while drinks include a bevvy of milk tea flavours. Vegetables are sparse — sides of green beans and salt and pepper corn — but can be ordered should you be feeling slightly lethargic from the carb-loaded menu.
What to Eat, Shop A, G/F, Carfield Commercial Building, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2810 9278