Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the last week: 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.
The dish: Pan Brioche al Tartufo (HK$1,280/person, on the “Journey Around the World: Autumn Edition” tasting menu)
I’m not trying to stir the proverbial pot –– and a sincere apology in advance to all stalwart Castellana carbonara fans –– but the Tartufo Sandwich, or truffle brioche, was the best dish from the Italian restaurant’s “Journey Around the World” autumn menu. Hands very firmly down. Controversial? You tell me.
But as I wait for comments of disbelief to pile in; spare me just an ounce of beneficial doubt. The brioche is a very considered, well-rounded course. It had the Goldilocks ‘just-right’ measure of texture and flavour, especially on an extensive six-course menu. The bread was light, fluffy, airy –– add in whatever descriptors that equal the soft coat of a baby lamb –– with a perfect caramelised, crispy crust, which I can excitedly say comes from being pan-fried in a shallow pool of Fromagerie Beillevaire demi-salted butter. Coupled with a mild sweetness of thin duck foie gras terrine and savoury from the cured egg yolk, it was a gorgeous balanced bite. It would’ve been close if the brioche was served on its own, but with the adding on mountainous shavings of Australian winter black truffle? Absolute winner. I’d be so bold to even say, swap my carbonara course for another of the brioche. Oops. –– Lorria Sahmet, Editor
Castellana, 10/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 3188 5028
Bacon & The Bun
The dish: Cubano (HK$75)
When a colleague included the bacon sarnie from Bacon & The Bun as her hangover food-of-choice, I knew I had to skedaddle across the bridge from ifc to try it. And, wow, was it was worth the steps. I chose the Cubano sandwich off the menu in lieu of building my own; I’ll work my way up to that. The Cubano, true to its namesake, rests on a bed of ham and cheese. Specifically, honey ham, mojo pulled pork, cheddar cheese and relish, soaked through with a slather of honey mustard snuck in between layers of dark rye bread. It’s just the kind of thing you’d want to devour after shenanigans at Pier 3 — the Bacon & The Bun storefront is directly across from the Discovery Bay pier entrance, by the way — but it’s just as delicious as a mid-afternoon treat prior to adventures in Tai O. — Joey Wong, Editor
Bacon & The Bun, G/F, Pier 3, Central, Hong Kong
The dish: Orange Chicken (HK$88)
While Hong Kong Lemon Chicken is a traditional Cantonese staple, its orange-hued American cousin doesn’t get quite the same reception from the locals. But Chef Karisa Cheque’s take on the Panda Express specialty at the newly opened Candour is a loving, elevated tribute to the flavours of one of my favourite comforts from across the ocean. Boneless chicken bits, coated and fried, slathered in a sweet, citrusy sauce: Can you really go wrong? — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Candour, G/F, 65-65A Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2362 8100
Bibi & Baba
The dish: Hainanese Chicken with Rice (HK$178/half; $298/full)
Every Singaporean worth their salt has a go-to place for their Hainanese chicken rice fix. It’s a thing. We routinely have heated arguments about which place is the best in town, and we don’t make compromises. Until now. Enter Malaysia-born, Singapore-trained Head Chef Ho Wai-Kong.
I’ll cut to the chase — this Hainanese chicken dish is as close to perfection as you can get in our city. Why is this dish so finicky to perfect, you may ask? Well, it’s the tenderness of the poached yellow chicken; the fragrance of the chicken oil-infused rice; the trio of homemade chilli, minced ginger, and thick dark soya sauce. Every element has to come harmoniously together to create the dish that’s been lauded as Singapore’s National Dish. That’s a big title to live up to, but Chef Ho Wai-Kong achieves exactly that. God, it’s so good. I’ve been sharing the news to my fellow countrymen all day. And you should, too. –– Sandra Kwong, Features Editor
Bibi & Baba, 1-7 Ship St, Wan Chai, Hong Kong +852 2555 0628
The dish: Kyoho Grape
I have always been a candy over chocolate kind of guy. Whether it be Skittles, Starbursts, Sour Patch Kids — if it’s candy, I’ll eat it. Of course, with a sweet tooth, I was sacrificing my waistline and my PT was not impressed, so I had to enjoy candy in moderation and not inhale a bag of candy in one sitting.
When Lean Sweets appeared on my Instagram feed, I knew I had to try it. Their candy is 90% less sugar than other grape gummies in the market and only contains 3.1 grams of sugar in the whole bag. Lean Sweets’ current offerings also include Muscat Grape, which is just as delicious. 1 box with 10 packs goes for HKD$200, while 6 boxes with 60 packs goes for HKD$1200 and can be found via their website and at select grocery and health food stores. So, here’s to enjoying candy without the guilt of ruining your diet. –– Austin Miao, Branded Content Manager
The dish: Crab Roe, Crab Meat, Bird’s Nest, Superior Rich Broth (HK$1,288/person on the Hairy Crab Degustation Menu)
Seafood is my jam. If you asked me to give up either red meat or crustaceans, I would give up meat in a heartbeat. No one has asked, of course, but there you have it. It goes without saying, then, that one of my favourite moments of the year is hairy crab season. While most shy away from the sometimes arduous task of delicate deshelling, I welcome it. There’s something so satisfying about the journey to all that heavenly roe — and yes, a full 5-tael steamed crab is included in this degustation menu.
It was hard for me to choose a favourite, but the braised broth really was spectacular. You get the salinity of the crab meat, the decadence of the roe and the luxurious texture of the bird’s nest topping as a bonus. It was rich, it was gratifying, but most importantly, it was given the stamp of approval by my mum — and we all know how hard Asian mothers are to please. –– SK
Ming Court, Level 6, 555 Shanghai Street, Cordis Hotel, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3552 3028