Best Bites and Sips 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 and mixologists. From casual street snacks to meticulously prepared cocktail creations, these are the best dishes and drinks to try in Hong Kong — the ones we’d recommend you make a special trip for.
The best dishes and drinks we supped on and savoured this week:
Zoku Restaurant & The Terrace
The dish: Okinawa Sea Snail with Steam Japanese Egg, Caviar and Ikura Sauce (HK$1,118 per person, part of the eight-course South Kyushu & Okinawa Degustation Menu)
Zoku Restaurant & The Terrace, better known simply as Zoku, is a Lifestyle Asia favourite. We held our intimate Art Apéritif gathering here back in May, and this was my first time back since then. For the festive season, the Japanese restaurant has launched a new South Kyushu & Okinawa Degustation Menu, which will be available on 24 to 27 and 31 December 2022 and 1 to 2 January 2023.
With eight dishes and six handpicked cocktails, it was hard to pick a single item to write about for this column, but alas, the Okinawa Sea Snail with Steam Japanese Egg, Caviar and Ikura Sauce came out victorious. Accompanied by a mini Miyazaki Wagyu tart and a small Kumamoto crab and potato salad as part of a trio of appetisers on the menu, the beautifully presented Steam Japanese Egg dish came bundled in a sea snail shell flecked with vibrant florals. I mean… just look at it. It’s like a work of art.
Despite it being almost too pretty to eat, I did end up devouring it, and in three bites, too. If you’ve ever had chawanmushi, this is basically it, but like, better. Every bite was a burst of flavours and textures — the silkiness of the egg, contrasted by the chewy sea snail pieces dotted throughout, topped with two types of caviar that exploded with fresh, seafood-y juice. Ummm, I’m not very good at describing food, but please take my word for it. It was Delicious with a capital D. — Charmaine Ng, Editor
Zoku Restaurant & The Terrace, 2/F, 330 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2129 0338
Mr & Mrs Fox
The dish: Seafood Saffron Bomba Rice (HK$318 and an additional HK$148, part of the brunch set)
There’s nothing better than a steaming pot of rice on a cold winter’s day — even better if that pot of rice includes a giant lobster tail, blue mussels, garlic shrimp and octopus (and peas and semi-dried tomato, if you’re into that kinda thing). Part of Mr and Mrs Fox’s brunch menu, the Seafood Saffron Bomba Rice serves two and comes in a giant ceramic pan, akin to a paella dish. The first thing that caught my eye was its impressive presentation. In addition to its size, the plate was dotted with colours: yellow for the rice, orange and red for the seafood and purple for the edible flowers sprinkled on the surface. Tastewise, it reminded me of a high-class Chicken à la King — which I know sounds like an insult, but really isn’t — but instead of using sauce from Campbell’s Soup, the rice is flavoured with fresh seafood juice. As for the seafood itself, Mr & Mrs Fox uses only the freshest ingredients, which even I, a not-very-discerning eater, had no trouble confirming.
I know the rice is for two, but given its presentation, taste and everything else I mentioned, I pretty much OHKO’ed it singlehandedly. Oops. — CN
Mr & Mrs Fox, 23 Tong Chong Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2697 8500
The dish: Signature Fried Chicken (HK$178)
If I wanted good fried chicken, I’d probably drop by MMMs Awards Winner Honky Tonks Tavern or cult-favourite Jollibee, depending on what vibe I was going for. When I think of Little Bao, I picture its signature Pork Belly Bao and Green Tea Ice Cream Bao, naturally. So imagine my surprise when I went for a tasting and the standout of the night turned out to be its Signature Fried Chicken. A half yellow chicken crisped to perfection with a light outer skin that didn’t leave my fingers all greasy, it might just be the best fried chicken I’ve had in my life. Next time you go, order one less bao and one more chicken, then you’ll see what I’m talking about. — CN
Little Bao, 1-3 Shin Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2818 1280
The dish: Ceviche Clasico (HK$160)
Chullschick is probably most known for its signature Pollo a la Brasa, but on the day I visited, I decided to branch out and give its other Peruvian dishes a try. One of my favourites was the ceviche, a dish declared to be part of Peru’s national heritage and believed to have originated among the Moche, a coastal civilisation in Peru 2,000 years ago. Chullschick’s version, named Ceviche Clasico, is a seafood dish of raw fish cured in a spicy citrus-based Leche de Tigre. Complemented with Peruvian corn, sweet potato and onion, it was served at the beginning of the meal as a light starter but remained the most memorable dish — at least for me — throughout the night. If you want to order something other than the regular roast chicken at Chullschick, this is it. — CN
Chullschick, Shop D, E, F, 2-12 Moon Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 6538 0188
Oniku Kappo Jikon
The dish: Seasonal Platter
Despite not booking a trip this December, I was able to have an overseas experienced and get transported to the Japanese mountains through fresh ingredients and phenomenal taste with Oniku Kappo Jikon’s seasonal menu. The platter, as a part of the eleven-course tasting menu, brought me all the feels. From its presentation with the snow-like flowers and radish-wrapped candle to the dried persimmon with cream cheese, every item on this plate was a surprise. The chef paired seemingly everyday ingredients like sweet potato, Chinese cabbage and apple with delicacies, including wagyu beef and sea cucumber, to transform them into brand-new experiences. I definitely felt like I was travelling while enjoying this bite. I mean, look at this plating! — Leanne Lam, Social Media Manager
Oniku Kappo Jikon, Shop 506, Level 5, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2686 1866
The dish: Cooked Beef Noodles (HK$84)
Brass Spoon is my go-to pho spot, close to Star Street. It’s known for its flavourful broth that isn’t too strong or too salty; it leaves a very pleasant aftertaste, especially comforting in the colder weather of winter. Going for the cooked beef option, I was not disappointed at all. I was also allowed to customise the pho by adding more meats, changing the selection of toppings, all to get it the way I liked. I’ve been to Brass Spoon before in the past, and I will be coming back for sure. It’s cash only, so remember to bring cash if you want to give it a try. — Ryan Putranto, Multimedia Editor
Brass Spoon, Shop B, G/F, 1-3 Moon Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2877 0898
Tomato C Hing
The dish: Tomato Noodle Soup with Fresh Beef and Egg (HK$48)
All I want on a cold and wet winter day in Hong Kong is to bundle up and enjoy a bowl of soup noodles. Tomato C Hing, with its vibrant tomato soup base, has been popping up all over my social media. When I found out the Wan Chai location was just across the street from the LSA office, I knew I had to go check it out. Unsurprisingly, it was exactly what I needed. Warm, comforting and wallet-friendly.
Despite the myriad of options to customise your order by soup base, noodle variation and toppings, I knew I had to go plain and simple. Instant noodles bathed in a rich tomato soup base were topped with tender pieces of beef and runny scrambled eggs. Texture-wise, the soup is on the thicker side — imagine a Western-style blended vegetable soup. Slightly sweet and tangy, the soup base elevated what would normally be a standard cha chaan teng meal. I’ve already been back twice. — Madeleine Mak, Editorial Intern
Tomato C Hing, Shop B, LG/F, Lee Cheong Building, 1 On Lok Lane, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3563 8456
(Lead and featured images courtesy of Zoku Restaurant & The Terrace)