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.
The dish: Crispy spring roll
Ask anyone of their favourite cuisine, and I’m willing to wager Japanese food will rise victorious as the city’s most loved. The greatest thing about it? The versatility. Enjoyed at any time of the day with a hefty selection that can satisfy every craving. Something light? A quick and easy onigiri. Something comforting? Hearty Japanese curry. At the new Hari Hong Kong, which is gorgeously furnished by the way, is Zoku, specialising in modern Japanese fare made with traditional ingredients– a style, homey and familiar, that also ties back to restaurant’s moniker, to mean family or tribe in Japanese (‘族’). With seasoned chef de cusine Phillip Pak at its helm, the colourful menu is a nod to everything Japanese cuisine has to offer.
Without the need for elaboration, the sashimi — hamachi; a favourite — and kushiyaki — especially the scallops — charcoal-grilled on binchō-tan were delicious, but it’s the crispy spring roll that deserves a notable mention. Now, don’t be mistaken by the nondescript name, it’s not the typical golden-brown sort with a thick, clunky skin that’s mostly tasteless, no. This Zoku version is light, airy and pleasantly crispy — owing to the ingenious house-made tulle and shiso leaf fried exterior that gives a satisfying first bite. Arriving sliced on a slant, the crispy spring roll flaunts the intricate, cleanly portioned layer and reveals a delicate shrimp and scallop mousse with tiny diced red bell peppers swirled through filling. It is served with a creamy edamame dip as accompaniment, but for me, the roll was flavourful enough on its own. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
Zoku, 2/F, The Hari Hong Kong, 330 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2129 0338
The treat: Coco-honey cashew bites
Demolished in one sitting, Joey-doesn’t-share-food style. Easy. It’s these college-day memories that make the pint-shaped cylinder of Cocoparadise’s packaging feel a little illicit; the crunchy, scrummy goodness inside though? None of the guilt. I’m a big fan of the OG: the coco-honey cashew bites; the bites — made with ingredients you can literally count on one hand — that started it all. It’s an easy one-sitting snack but it’s also delicious over yoghurt or ice-cream. For the uninitiated, the CNY gift set is a perfect discovery box. — Joey Wong, Editor
Follow Cocoparadise’s Instagram here.
208 Duecento Otto
The dish: Italian red prawns
208 Duecento Otto’s homey Italian menu was my very first meal of the week — a chilly Monday morning in fact. Naturally, the rich selection of hearty homemade plates (the truffle ravioli itself is worth paying a visit) arrived like a balm to the soul, some much-needed comfort food.
To those who know 208 Duecento Otto from being simply a good neighbourhood pizzeria, I’m here to attest: It has since trailed far beyond, preceded by a revamp in suppliers and menu, to now become also purveyors of also great Italian classics.
Apart from a very exciting truffle- and anchovies-stuffed carrozza (fried cheese sandwich), it was the Italian red prawns appetiser (a new signature!) that truly impressed. Yes, the Andria-native, hand-made burrata was fluffy, creamy and soft, and while a decadent and delicious treat, truly, it was the bed of raw Mazara red prawns layered underneath that earned our never-ending compliments. The rare deep-sea crustacean, only found in the waters around Mazara del Vallo in Southwestern Sicily, was light and sweet, ingeniously paired with tomato salsa and crispy carasau bread; a refreshing bite of bright flavours, evocative of summers by the seaside. With rich mouthfuls of burrata in between, it was certainly a palate pleaser that will have us returning soon. — — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
208 Duecento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Central, +852 2549 0208
The treat: Vegan chocolate tart
Now listen, anyone who’s thinking why vegan chocolate when you can have real chocolate? I hear you. Completely. But this Lady M vegan chocolate tart was surprisingly delightful. Not to downplay vegan desserts at all, because there are perhaps plenty that taste delicious and can rival its non-plant-based counterparts. But more so than often, vegan chocolate tends to veer a little, say, lacklustre. Back to Lady M’s vegan chocolate tart, which tastes exactly like real chocolate by the way, a guilt-free treat will become an indulgence you can’t help but go for seconds, or thirds — and it’s okay because its a good indulgence! It’s put together with a crumbly chocolate cookie base which is gluten-free, and a smooth salted caramel swirled with a gooey vegan chocolate ganache at the centre. Yum. On top of its pristine exterior, a sprinkling of cacao nibs that lend a textural crunch and raw bitterness which complements the whole. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
Lady M, various locations including Shop 2069A, Podium Level 2, ifc mall, No. 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2865 1099
The dish: Foie gras and Morel mushroom claypot rice
Claypot rice is one of those dishes that one must savour during cooler weathers, at least twice. With a plethora of choice, there is a preferred ingredient and topping for everyone, but the one thing everyone can agree upon: the pop, crunch and crackle of the caramelised bottom is the best part of this hearty casserole dish. While versions layered with preserved Chinese sausage, salted fish and steamed pork ribs are popular go-to’s, chef Dai Lung’s, of traditional siu mei eatery Chop Chop, new and innovative couplings are worth highlighting: Japanese beef with egg or the signature ‘Sorrowful’ topping with honey-glazed cha siu and fried egg. Some combinations were wins, others, not completely, but my version, a delectable foie gras and morel mushroom pairing, was met with a resounding “Yes!”.
Arriving in the distinct porcelain vessel, this had all and everything a classic claypot rice should be. The addition of foie gras added an fragrant blanket to the bed of rice below which had soaked in the unctuous umami into each perfectly cooked grain — much like a Chinese preserved sausage would — while the accompanying morels balanced out the rich flavours with an soft and subtle earthiness. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor
Chop Chop, various locations including Shop 3, G/F, 18 Wang On Road, Fortress Hill, Hong Kong, +852 2618 7718