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Best Bites: 9 dishes we loved in August 2021

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 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.

Quality Goods Club

The dish: Crab Bisque (HK$108)

Even prior to entry into Quality Goods Club — the entrance is neatly tucked past a flight of stairs at the end of a barely-lit ginnel between Lyndhurst and Hollywood; watch your steps — you already know you’d be treated to something special. There’s the dark, moody ambience; the live music; the brick walls; the slanted mirrors — it’s theatre even before your very first bite; first sip.

Then, the theatre begins. Platters of food arrive covered in silver cloches, revealed with a flourish at the table. The Bavette (HK$288) sits sliced alongside fries and bone marrow, the latter used as a vehicle for a customary sherry luge at the end of the dish — note: you’d want Instagram pictures of this. The Crab Bisque (HK$108), the star of this specific blurb, is introduced with a dollop of crème fraiche first; then, the soup, decadent and fashionably late, is poured table-side. It’s rich, it’s warm, it’s served with fresh crab meat. We had it on a whim on full stomachs, with a “Let’s share one between two” pact that ended in regrets, resentment and a perfect bowl of bisque, gone too soon. Learn from our mistakes; don’t share, get your own!

I’d be remiss not to add: there’s a kid’s menu. If you’ve ever wanted to slurp down a chocolatey bowl of Milo cereal in the coolest club you’ve ever patronised, here’s your chance. — Joey Wong, Editor

Quality Goods Club, Basement, On Lok House, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

Hatch

The dish: Skimpy Burger’s Classic Burger (HK$158)

Burgers are the one food I could probably never live without, and when the opportunity comes to try a new spin on the all-beef patty, I rise to meet it. HATCH has quickly become one of my favourite spots to eat in town, not just for Chef Jamie Young’s rotating menus of western comfort foods or its dangerously close proximity to my apartment, but for its mission: giving aspiring chefs and new dining concepts a proving ground to hone their craft. One of these was Chef Toto Chan, who makes a damn fine Smashburger with just American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and the signature Skimpy Sauce. (Much love to the Boom as well, featuring a healthy dollop of house-made bacon jam.) Skimpy Burger popped up at HATCH’s counter for two days in August, and sold out before the first patty was served. We’ll be looking forward to their return. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief

Hatch, G/F, Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9251 2680

Odds 

The dish: Wagyu beef and sea urchin rice in pot (HK$1,688) 

Made to be shared in groups of between four to six, this decadent pot inspired a cascade of oohs and ahhs from the table when it arrived. Lightly crisped pearl grains layered with generous sheets of fatty Miyazaki and topped with t h i c c Japanese sea urchin – flown in fresh. Eat bite was decadent, to say the least, and best washed down with a glass, or two, of dry sake. — Sandra Kwong, Features Editor

Odds, G/F, Standard Chartered Bank Building, Shop G2, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd Central, +852 2891 3988 

Awa Awa

The dish: Homemade pickles (HK$28/each)

Calling all pickle lovers! From bitter melon, celtuce, mango, Hadama spinach & Shiitake mushroom, AWA AWA is not playing around when it comes to pickling fruits and veggies. Each pickled item carries its own unique flavour and when enjoyed all together, offers a contrasting range from the tanginess to the crunch. Each dish goes for HK$28, while a selection of 4 kinds of pickles comes in at HK$88. — Austin Miao, Branded Content Manager

Awa Awa, Shop E&F, Upper Ground Floor, 42 & 44, Peel St, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2178 1838

The Chinese Library 

The dish: Chilled “jade flower” in green Sichuan pepper essence (HK$88) 

Sometimes, the simplest looking dishes require the most kung fu. This is one such dish. Mildly unassuming in appearance, we learnt that a whole lot of knifework and years of precise training in dao yi goes into the creation of this enlightening dish. With the meticulous cuts, each layer is equally brined in light, mildly spicy Sichuan pepper essence, making for a deliciously appetising start to the meal.  — SK

The Chinese Library, Police Headquarters Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, +852 2848 3088

Aulis

The dish: Rye Sourdough

The new menu at Aulis — Roganic’s chef’s table and development kitchen — is a marathon of flavour from peach to smoked eel, pigeon to a rose granita. About halfway through this culinary journey, we received our bread course: A rye sourdough and a savoury cultured butter that we were encouraged to enjoy over the next few dishes. The rye released steam as we pulled it apart, and we knew it wouldn’t last long. Here’s to simple things done perfectly well. Here’s to carbs. I could eat fifty more right now. — NE

Aulis, UG08, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2817 8383

Wood Ear & Ami 

The dish: Fisherman soup (included in the 8-course “Chef Inspiration” tasting menu at HK$1,988pp) 

To say that I have a mild obsession with fish soup would be putting it lightly. In fact, there are some on my WhatsApp list who would periodically send me photos of whatever fish soup they were having, just to mock me – respectfully. Executive Chef Nicolas Boutin’s rendition of the classic bouillabaisse is rich with all the trappings of the ocean. It was love at first sip for me, with my only gripe being that this gorgeous creation is not included in the a la carte menu.  — SK

Wood Ear & Ami, Shop 302, Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central, +852 3185 8396 

Sen-ryo

The dish: ‘Shokunin’ Sushi Set (HK$38-HK$68; individual pieces; HK$488 for 6-course menu)

It’s no news that in this food-ridden city, we all have our comfort go-tos. It’s not about the next and new; high or low. These are the ones we lean onto when things are feeling a little uninspired. That, for me, is Sen-Ryo, the Tochigi-founded sushi bar now speckled all over the city. It’s reliable; consistent. I know my order even before I’ve sat down: soft shell crab hand roll, a steamed chawanmushi and a smattering of season-fresh nigiri. It’s a fast love that I know will never ever tire of.

So when my regular routine was shaken up by the casual eatery’s seasonal series, count me a non-believer — that pretty pull-out menu chucked aside for my familiars. That is, until I was met with the Shokunin series; both of us cautiously unsure, but happily intrigued. The Shokunin series is not a new one, the chain has had it in motion since 2018. It’s a celebration of sea-fresh catch and foray into newer, lesser featured ingredients. In its latest evolution, the Shokunin sushi is part of a larger 6-course menu and stars six distinct sushi: a creamy Red Sea Bream topped with Anglerfish Liver and Watermelon Narazuke (HK$38); light Kuruma Ebi finished with black fin fish-roe (HK$48); Horse Mackerel Roll which forgoes vinegared rice for pickled yellow radish and fresh okra(HK$65); Glass Shrimp topped with Bafun Sea Urchin(HK$48); rare Tuna Noten(HK$62); and what was, in my opinion, the best of the pack, a Bafun Sea Urchin and salmon roe roll, wrapped in the unctuous coat of seared wagyu (HK$68). — Lorria Sahmet, Editor

Sen-ryo, various locations including Shop 3099-3100, Podium Level 3, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2234 7633

Madame Fù Grand Café Chinois

The dish: Salt and Pepper Crispy Tofu (HK$95)

It’s hardly a secret that Madame Fù’s brunch offerings are as tasty as they are Instagrammable. Whilst some flock to the contemporary Chinese restaurant for its blush pink, scalloped sofas and several other uniquely themed rooms, it’s the dim sum offerings that have me making multiple brunch bookings. It goes without saying that the dumplings are delicious, but a dish that surprised me was the Salt and Pepper Crispy Tofu. Crispy really being the operative word here, the tofu is lighter than air, perfectly seasoned and ultra – you guessed it – crisp. Although available to order à la carte, I’d suggest going all out and feasting from the free-flow dim sum package, if only to be able to order multiple plates of these melt-in-the-mouth bites at no extra cost. — Lexi Davey, Managing Editor

Madame Fù Grand Café Chinois, 3/F, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central District, Hong Kong, +852 2114 2118

Header image courtesy of Aulis

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