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Best Bites: 5 dishes we loved this week

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.

These were the best dishes we supped on and savoured this week:

Preface Coffee & Wine

The dish: Classic Chicken Consommé with Vegetables (HK$40)

No longer simply an incubator for coding and tech workshops complemented by delicious serves of coffee (see: their Tin Hau location) and wine (see: their Central location), Preface Coffee & Wine’s brand-new Causeway Bay flagship, now, does food too, with day and night menus led by Head of F&B Ambrose Chiang.

Not, perhaps, either menus’ most exciting item, the Classic Chicken Consommé with Vegetables was a surprising hit for me. I’m, apparently, a soup person now. From a quick Google search, a consommé is a broth clarified with egg whites. I’m not sure what that means (maybe kind of like a milk-washed situation?) — but it’s so incredibly good. It feels healthy, feels like the kind of thing that “nourishes”; the kind of thing you’d want to sip on a chilly evening; first, politely, with a spoon. Then slurp. Then tilt, with all ten fingers cradling the ceramic, directly into your mouth. Something you mother would want you to polish off at the end of a meal. Chiang’s version is freshly boiled with seasonal vegetables for more than six hours every day — and garnished with a sprinkle of chives. — Joey Wong, Editor

Preface Coffee & Wine, G/F – 5/F, 11 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2371 4738

CHAAT

The dish: Tandoori Beef Cheek (HK$308)

CHAAT is a restaurant. CHAAT is a refined Indian restaurant. CHAAT is a refined Indian restaurant in the Rosewood Hong Kong. CHAAT is a refined Indian restaurant in the Rosewood Hong Kong with a two month waiting list. A two month waiting list! It’s not even an easy-to-get-in-line-for two month waiting list, as my friend John Chong can attest (give him a head’s up if you’ve got an open seat or two, he’s great company) — but a two month waiting list, nonetheless.

That’s a lot, reader. And I tend to be skeptical of waiting lists, because I saw the way you guys lined up for Blue Bottle Coffee when it opened in Central. (It’s fiiiiiine.)

But I’ll say this. There’s a reason for that waiting list, and it’s a good one. CHAAT is two months great. Three months, even. Four! CHAAT is one of the best meals I’ve had in a long dang time. You’ve probably heard about the baked samosa with jackfruit meat, which kicks things off with a bang. The Panchphoran barbecue pork (with Tamarind! Kokum! Mustard!) slaps hard enough to be any chef’s signature dish, and the butter chicken is a small-but-satisfying must. But, like the final panel in one of those Vince McMahon memes, it was the dummy thicc beef cheeks above, served with yoghurt, chilli and cinnamon that absolutely did me in.

I can’t get you into CHAAT. I’m not even sure I can get myself into CHAAT. But I know this: if someone invites you, you accept. You get a bunch of stuff. You split it with the people at your table. You go home happy. And you repeat that process as often as you can. –– Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief

CHAAT, 5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 5239 9220

ThinkWine

The dish: Baked Mont d’Or (HK$250) 

God — I almost shed a tear when this dish arrived. Mont d’Or holds a very special place in my heart. I first tasted this heavenly fromage when I was a teen in France, and it’s a taste I never forgot; rich and sweet with a light acidity, devoured gluttonously with a spoon or delicately balanced on a slice of baguette, whatever you do, forget the audience, just get it in you while it’s warm. They also up the stakes here by tossing in cloves of garlic into the bubbling goodness. And be sure to ask wine veteran and ThinkWine founder Romain Loriot for his pairing recommendation. 

Bonus: Once a week, starting next week, ThinkWine will be teaming up with various restaurants around town (think Frantzen’s Kitchen, Chachawan, Musubi Hiro and 22 Ships) to launch pop-ups from 6pm till late, serving special snacks (ranging from HK$60 – HK$150 each) to pair with their specially curated selection of wines. –– Sandra Kwong, Features Editor

ThinkWine, 2/F LL Tower, 2 Shelley Street, Central, +852 2886 3121

Ying Jee Club

The dish: Crispy Pork Belly with Golden Garlic (part of the tasting menu starting from HK$1,380 for six-courses)

To convince that a Best Bite dish features pork belly is not hard. Not hard at all! In whichever way it’s prepared, the porcine ingredient always manages to win over fans. Such was the case at Ying Jee Club, which while specialise in authentic Cantonese fine-dining, did not roll out with a typical crispy pork belly of the siu mei sort you happily dip in mustard, enjoyed in cubed chunks with crispy top skin and juicy, meaty bottom, but something new, different and so very tasty. What crispy pork belly should always be from now on, I say.

It’s sliced in wide thin slices, battered in a golden crispy crust, which chef shares is salted egg-yolk mixture that gives it the distinct crackly, umami exterior. Sealed within the savoury coat was the most tender pork belly you will ever bite into. It feel like it needs some sort of dip (while we’re here, Ying Jee Club’s homemade garlic-chilli sauce is amazingly addictive –– yes, I have tried asking for a jar) but actually, the nuanced flavours of the crispy pork belly are further refined with chef Siu Hin-chi’s skilful preparation from the just-right cook of the unctuous pork to mild, garlicky after-taste and controlled oil-fried crust. The only disappointment is that it only came on a plate with two. I’d do the tasting menu just for another rendezvous with this dish. –– Lorria Sahmet, Editor

Ying Jee Club, Shop G05, 107-108, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2801 6682

Sushi Namaken

The dish: Multi-tuna sushi roll (Omakase starts at HK$680 for lunch, HK$1,380 for dinner) 

There’s beauty in the transience of omakase; every visit yields a new discovery, a new favourite. It’s a meal one has to relish, but it’s also a quiet, mesmerizing performance to behold. The seasonal dishes are always a delight — we had lightly seared shirako that day — and I assumed they would be my favourite, but the humble sushi roll, last in our line-up, blew me away.  

The preparation makes it all the more exciting: A square of nori is laid flat and gently padded by chef’s own soy-pearl rice mixture, then comes four different cuts of tuna, homemade pickled radish and a sprig of spring onions. The last step is the rolling; a deft, practiced movement that illustrates the chef’s years of refined skill. The bite, one larger than your usual sushi roll, reminds me exactly why going for regular omakase is a staple in my dining journey. One always comes away absolutely sated, but eager for the next visit. –– SK

Sushi Namaken, Shop A, 2/F, Hundred City Centre, 7-17 Amoy Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2117 1829

Header image courtesy of Ying Jee Club