We’re dead in the thick of summer, and the relentless heat is making us all feel a bit sluggish. The best cure? Ducking into one of Hong Kong’s best new restaurants to cool off with a tasty meal accompanied by one (or three) drinks. From big names like Umberto Bombana and Yannick Alléno to mom-and-pop shops slinging Japanese yakitori and banh mi, here are the best places to curb your cravings this month.
It’s been a long time in the making, but world-renowned French chef Yannick Alléno’s casual bistro is finally set to debut this month, boasting a prime location in Central’s Prince’s Building. The venture marks the first international outpost of Terroir Parisien, a convivial restaurant and bar that’s meant to embody a quintessential Parisian bistro, with a communal atmosphere and an emphasis on homespun comfort foods.
With two three-star-Michelin restaurants in France, Alléno has spent a decade driving forward French cuisine and helping to retain the global spotlight on French agriculture and produce. The concept for Terroir Parisien is straightforward, showcasing the beautiful produce and food products from the Île-de-France region around Paris in a modern bistro setting. From a first glance, the menu is looking to be a definite crowdpleaser — think hearty lamb and vegetable stew, mushrooms stuffed with escargot, and brioche French toast with vanilla ice cream.
Terroir Parisien, M/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Octavium Italian Restaurant
From one Michelin-starred chef to the next — Hong Kong’s own “King of Truffles” is set to debut a brand new concept this month, Octavium Italian Restaurant. Smaller and more intimate than 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, the restaurant is being deemed as a private kitchen or “Bombana’s laboratory”, a place where the ebullient chef (recently awarded the Diners Club International Lifetime Achievement Award) can experiment and present a menu with “no boundaries and no limits”.
For those concerned about a drop in standards now that Bombana’s splitting his focus, don’t worry — the two restaurants are less than a five-minute walk apart, allowing for the chef to oversee both daily. If you’re chomping at the bit to try Bombana’s new offerings, you’re not alone — with only eight tables, the restaurant is already fully booked until December this year, but if you’re lucky you may be able to snag a spare table should a few spots open up.
Octavium Italian Restaurant, 8/F, One Chinachem Central, Central, 22 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong, website coming soon
The Michelin-starred imports keep washing up on our shores — the latest one being Paris’ Le 39V from award-winning chef Frédéric Vardon. The Hong Kong edition is perched on the 101st floor of the ICC building, offering a birds-eye view of the city accompanied by neo-classical French fare. The menu arrives fully intact from the City of Lights, offering the same range of signature dishes as the original. Overseeing the Hong Kong kitchen is Executive Chef de Cuisine, Nicolas Raynal, a graduate of a number of famous French restaurants including Alain Ducasse’s Plaza Athenee.
From the sophisticated decor to the menu brimming with classic French dishes, the restaurant exudes pure European elegance. The lunch set is a steal (HK$380-480 for a choice of two starters, one main course, dessert and coffee), and we were impressed from a recent visit by the immaculate presentations yet rustic nature of the dishes, from the delightful soft-boiled egg cloaked in a rich mushroom cream, to the seared steak paired with caramelised onions and a dark red wine jus. Make sure you save room for dessert — the Paris Brest with layers of choux pastry and praline cream is a worthy indulgence, encased in a golden globe of spun sugar for dramatic effect.
Le 39V, Shop A, 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2977 5266
From a tiny bar in SoHo, Picada has expanded to take over a 3,000-sq.-ft. space above LKF, blossoming into a full-fledged restaurant complete with a live music stage, salsa dancing during the evenings, and an extended food and drinks list infused with Latin American flavour. We recently tried a range of dishes and found the flavours to be bold, confident and exciting, not surprising given the kitchen is now helmed by ex-Chicha chef Abel Ortiz Alvarez. You can’t go wrong on the menu, from the bright and zingy ceviches, to the tender grilled skewers and the traditional arepas and empanadas. Accompanied by excellent cocktails, this may be Hong Kong’s best new spot for Peruvian food.
Picada, 2/F, LKF29, 29 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2526 7538
Roastery Lab by The Coffee Academics
The city continues to grow its coffee culture, with the number of specialty coffee shops and artisanal roasters in Hong Kong booming in the last few years. The Coffee Academics was one of the first to pioneer quality craft coffee in the city, and their latest opening marks a return to minimalist roots, encouraging customers to get up close with the micro-roasting operations and interact with the full process from roasting to brewing.
Deemed a “hole in the wall” café concept, the Roastery Lab’s menu features just three options — Black, White or Filter. The decor is similarly simple and understated, while a small selection of fresh pastries available rather than a full-blown menu. Near the back, the Roasting Room offers a private space where guests can make an appointment to participate in cupping sessions and make their own custom blends under the guidance of The Coffee Academics’ highly-trained coffee roasters.
Roastery Lab by The Coffee Academics, Basement, 41 Staunton Street (enter from Peel Street), Central, Hong Kong, +852 3104 0075
Le Petit Saigon
Delicious banh mi thit has landed in Hong Kong by way of Le Petit Saigon, the little sibling and next-door neighbour of Black Sheep Restaurants’ Saigonese grill house, Le Garçon Saigon. We’ll let you debate their claim of serving up the city’s most authentic banh mi, but it’s certainly one of the best versions we’ve had in town, with the right balance of pâté, cold cuts including fromage de tête (head cheese made from Chef Bao La’s mother’s recipe), pickled veggies and fresh herbs to achieve the crunchy, bright and balanced flavour profile of a well constructed banh mi sandwich. The bread is also homemade, with a crispy and crackling crust giving way to a soft and fluffy interior. Like the street shops in Saigon, the sandwiches are available for takeaway only, priced at HK$88 with limited stock daily.
Le Petit Saigon, 16 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2455 2499
If you’re looking for a new lunch spot in Central, this casual Okinawa-inspired izakaya has quietly popped up on Elgin Street, serving a tasty range of donburi bowls, grilled skewers and generous rice bowls such as grilled pork chop and tender mackerel. Opened by local Hong Konger Sharon Chan and her husband (who’s the chef), the small and cosy shop is a welcome retreat from the over-crowded and over-priced lunch spots scattered around the area, with the lunch sets ranging from HK$98-128 including salad, miso soup and pickles. We’re particular fans of the fried pork chop (pictured above), and the minced chicken skewer (tsukune) caramelised on the grill with a sticky sweet soy sauce coating served alongside a golden raw egg yolk.
Kinjo’s Izakaya, G/F, 27 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2362 9992
Kennedy Town residents have a new spot to gather over pizza and beer with the opening of Alvy’s, a New York-style pizza joint with a solid drinks list and casual gastropub vibes. A collaboration between the founders of local craft beer makers Young Master Brewery, Patrick Gatherer, formerly of The Globe, and Paul Gelinas (who also designed May Chow’s Second Draft), the place exhibits the same laidback charm and communal vibes of its owners’ other establishments, proffering up quality, fuss-free food and drinks at friendly prices.
The freshly baked pizzas are the star of the menu, made in the Neapolitan style with a sourdough-based, puffy, charred crust folding into a thin and juicy centre, covered on every square inch with a layer of melted cheese and fresh, premium Italian ingredients. Try the “Three B’s”, piled with bechamel, bacon and brussels sprouts — a savoury combination that may give Motorino’s brussels sprouts pizza a run for its money — and the “Ma-La-Di-Da”, a spicy number covered in ‘nduja (spicy spreadable pork salami), red chillies and mozzarella. A number of funky East-meets-West sides, a fantastic craft beer selection, and Hong Kong’s most extensive list of American-only whiskies rounds out the offerings.
Alvy’s, 8 Holland Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 2312 2996
Feather & Bone
Butcher and deli shop Feather & Bone is adding a third outlet to their stable this month, debuting the largest venue yet with a 3,000-sq.-ft. space in Clearwater Bay’s Mount Pavilia development. The deli and grocer will also double as a casual cafe, featuring an eight-seat bar counter where guests can relax and dig into the selection of fine wines, cheeses and charcuterie on offer (also available for private bookings and group wine tastings).
Built to resemble a nostalgic butcher’s shop with subway tiles and brushed metal butcher’s lights, the functional and stylish store is stocked to the brim with an assortment of premium produce and pantry items, featuring a range of chilled meats and seasonal cheeses for the perfect home feast. Not a cook? Stop by the grab ‘n’ go counter to nibble on freshly baked breads and pastries alongside freshly brewed coffee from local roasters Kim & Co.
Feather & Bone, Shop 1-4, 1/F, Retail Block of Mount Pavilia, 663 Clearwater Bay Road, Hong Kong, +852 2791 1680
Those who miss M at the Fringe may want to visit the restaurant that has taken over its old premises. Named after the founding year of the Fringe Club, the newly opened Circa 1913 serves Japanese-inspired dishes led by Chef de Cuisine Anderson Tam, formerly of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Zuma Hong Kong. The space, which seats 40, is quietly elegant, painted a dusty teal and decorated with delicate ink drawings by local artist Raymond Pang with baroque gold accents. It’s the first restaurant for owner Alen Ng, a food-obsessed local event producer who wanted to create an intimate hideaway for friends (old and new) in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong.
From a recent visit our favourite dish was the Hokkaido Uni Risotto ($328), inspired by a dish chef Tam created while working at Robuchon. More affordable, this version contains a surprising amount of uni, has a perfectly sticky texture, and comes in a fair portion size. Other highlights include the Botan Shrimp ($238), plump and fresh prawns accented with a citrus and passion fruit salsa, and the Kumamoto Wagyu Sirloin A5 Steak ($788 for 200 grams), flavourful well-marbled fingers served with homemade pumpkin and asparagus puree. Don’t miss the drinks by Dorothy Lam, winner of the 2015 MixLDN Hong Kong and Macau mixology competition. We recommend the Drunken Geisha ($108), a sake-based, shiso-enhanced bellini-type cocktail with a beautiful swipe of paint along the rim meant to resemble a geisha’s painted lips.
Circa 1913, 1/F, South Block, Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3643 0288