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Best Bites: The top 10 dishes we ate in February

Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the month which renewed our love for established venues, caught our attention from a new opening, or impressed on us again the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street bites to meticulously prepared tasting menu dishes, these are the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.

Duddell’s 

The dish: Egg tart and abalone tart

In all honesty, we could probably list the whole of Duddell’s afternoon tea set amongst our favourite bites of the month, but we’ll just stick to two — specifically, a sweet-and-savoury duo that shows off the meticulous dim sum-making technique of the kitchen. On the Duddell’s x Monica Vinader afternoon tea menu this month, the pastry tarts are two highlights, encased in a wonderful, crumbly golden brown crust. The abalone tart takes one of Cantonese cuisine’s most prized ingredients and transforms it into a beautiful sweet-and-savoury one-bite delight; while the egg tart is rich and satisfying with the special addition of bird’s nest, adorned with gold leaf. The exquisite dim sum just goes to show why the contemporary Cantonese eatery has retained its two Michelin stars for several years running. Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor

Duddell’s x Monica Vinader afternoon tea menu is available through 12 March, and includes a coral friendship bracelet from Monica Vinader for HK$900 per person.

Duddell’s, 3/F-4/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2525 9191, duddells.co

Lily & Bloom

The dish: 45-days dry-aged cowboy steak

Lily & Bloom’s new executive chef, Chris Gare (formerly of The American Club and Café Grey Deluxe), has introduced a new menu featuring dishes that reflect a level of skill and elegance not previously seen at this restaurant. A recent sampling of the new offerings uncovered many strong contenders for this column — amongst them beet-cured salmon (HK$125), foie gras terrine (HK$210), and a main dish of lamb prepared two ways (HK$325) — but my sensory memory tells me that nothing topped the incredible cowboy steak (HK$1,400).

Dry-aged for 45 days, the 35-ounce USDA Prime steak comes from Chicago, one of the world’s great meat-loving cities — I should know, it’s my hometown. Due to the dry-aging, the steak takes on an incredibly complex flavour that’s intensely beefy and yet sharply tangy, like a delicious cheese. Cooked to a perfect medium rare and served alongside roasted garlic and Lily & Bloom’s signature steak sauce, the meat is melt-in-your-mouth good. For my money, this is the best steak in Hong Kong right now. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief

Lily & Bloom, 5/F-6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2810 6166, lily-bloom.com

ÉPURE

The new In Vino Veritas Menu at Michelin-starred ÉPURE is all about highlighting seasonal French produce from chef Nicolas Boutin’s travels, paired with top quality wines from the restaurant’s vast wine cellar. While the food at ÉPURE is always spectacular, I was particularly drawn to the highlight of the In Vino Veritas menu — elevé dans les marais côtiers, or slow-cooked duck infused with tangerine.

The dish shows off the elegance and pure simplicity of flavours that chef Nicolas is known for, accentuating the natural tastes of each ingredient and composing the dish so that each element pops on the plate. The perfectly seared duck breast is cooked to a rosy blush, resting on a bed of smooth and creamy broccoli puree. A trail of duck jus leads the way to a row of tangerine segments, the fresh burst of citrus that ties the dish together. For a final flourish, chef Boutin sprinkles a dusting of broccoli powder to tie the dish together. LY

The In Vino Veritas Menu is available through mid-March. The four-course meal and the six-course meal are priced at HK$1,088 and HK$1,388 per person respectively. Selected wines (three to four glasses) can be ordered separately at HK$488 and up per person.

ÉPURE, Shop 403, 4/F, Ocean Centre, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 3185 8338, epure.hk

Belon

The dish: Whole roasted chicken with smoked bacon and pomme purée

On a recent weekend, I finally got around to eating the oft-Instagrammed roasted chicken that Belon serves as part of its four-course set Sunday lunch (HK$458 per person). The bird is sourced from a farm in the New Territories, and after it’s been cooked, it’s dramatically presented to the table on a silver platter with its head and feet still attached, alongside a herb bouquet. The bird is then carved — back in the kitchen, thankfully — and returned to the table. The meat is juicy and the skin is well browned, but even better is the accompanying chicken ‘soup’ studded with bacon — coq au vin in a bowl, more or less — which pairs perfectly with the pommes purée, an unbelievably rich potato mash that tastes like butter and decadence. I suggest putting all three on your plate at the same time and fully enjoying the luxury of fine food on a lazy Sunday afternoon. —MAC

Belon, 41 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2152 2872, belonsoho.com

Seasons by Olivier E.  

The dish: Grilled Holstein ribeye with confit shallots & red wine sauce

When it comes to steaks, I usually stand by a straight grill and a sprinkling of salt, especially with a great cut of meat. However, the ribeye at Seasons by Olivier E. was one dressed-up version that I’d go out of my way to eat again. First, it starts with the theatre: the ribeye is brought to your table in a wooden box, with the “ooh, ahh” moment when the server peels back the lid to reveal a beautiful hunk of meat enveloped in a thick cloud of smoke. As the smoke evaporates, you’re left with a sizeable steak, wonderfully charred, juicy and still retaining that delectable smoky flavour, while the sweetness and tanginess from a topping of red wine-braised shallots helps counter the fattiness of the meat. A beautiful sauce tops off this luxurious piece of protein. LY

Seasons by Olivier E., 3/F, Lee Gardens Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; +852 2505 6228, seasonsbyolivier.com

Blueflower Travel

The dish: Homemade ravioli with cheese and pears served with Parmesan fondue and pistachio

A charmingly bohemian loft in Wong Chuk Hang has served as a private kitchen for more than a decade, but it’s now also the headquarters of Blueflower Travel, which aims to give its clients one-of-a-kind experiences around the globe. Owner Andrea Oschetti worked in finance before becoming a private chef; his new role as a travel consultant is his third act. Fortunately, the native Italian’s cooking skills are still put to good use.

A recent dinner at the loft featured a wonderful smoked swordfish carpaccio followed by handmade ravioli filled with cheese and pears, and coated in a Parmesan sauce before being topped with chopped pistachio. The pasta was simple and rustic, shaped like wrapped candies in the way that Oschetti’s grandmother taught him when he was a boy. Needless to say, when a real Italian makes pasta for you by hand, it tastes amazing. Should you find yourself invited to a meal at this unique space, make sure you accept; if you’re not, I’d recommend planning your own event at the loft for the joys of fresh pasta and the chance to talk to Oschetti about travel, which always makes for good dinner conversation.

Blueflower Travel, 20D, Yally Building, 6 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong; blueflower.la

Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen

After a delayed start, Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen is finally open for business, and the Central crowds are descending with a vicious appetite for Vietnamese street snacks such as pho and banh mi from the famed Vietnamese-Australian chef of Sydney’s Red Lantern.

During a recent lunch tasting, we got to try some signatures from both the lunch and dinner menu (the latter is more heavily geared towards grilled meats and seafood), and one of the dishes we would go back for is the wagyu beef pho, which features a surprisingly light, non-greasy broth which is stewed for 18 hours with a secret blend of seasonings. Tasting strongly of earthy spices such as star anise and cardamom, the light broth enhanced the chewy, bouncy noodles (made in-house by the kitchen daily), and the beef was plentiful, with both cooked and rare slices to add texture and a flavourful depth to the bowl. LY

Moi Moi by Luke Nguyen, G/F, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2806 2068, facebook.com/moimoibylukenguyen

Gaddi’s

The dish: Canard á la presse

Why we’re craving it: With the Peninsula hotel having 89 years of history up its sleeve, and with its oldest fine dining restaurant, Gaddi’s, open since 1953, the establishment is no doubt the city’s authority in bringing classic French dishes to life. In a celebration of time-honoured dishes this month, they’ve brought back the elegant 19th century spectacle that is the canard á la presse, or pressed duck. It’s a rare opportunity for one to sample this delicacy, which uses one whole Challans duck for three elaborate courses for two patrons.

The first course is what we’re still dreaming about, and it’s an exquisite, yet slightly carnal affair that is perfect for the discerning carnivore. Cooked tableside, the duck breast is carved from a half-roasted duck, then pan-fried with duck and chicken stock, and flambéed with port and cognac. The remaining bones are used in a silver press to extract the flavoursome juices and marrow to create a pressed blood sauce (vegans need not apply). The result: A gorgeously tender duck breast in a deep, complex sauce. It’s served simply with linguini and a healthy dose of shaved black truffle on the side. Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor

The canard á la presse is HK$2,680 for two persons, available until 31 March. Reservations must be made one week in advance.

Gaddi’s, 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 2696 6763, hongkong.peninsula.com

Ming Court

Oftentimes we’re so consumed with the flavour that oil, fat and condiments adds to food that we don’t stop to realise that the most soothing and satisfying nourishment can be found in something as light as a clear soup. Two-Michelin-starred Ming Court’s chicken and mushroom consommé was a comforting reminder that good eating doesn’t necessarily need to be unhealthy — and with clever cooking and respect for ingredients, you can find the most flavour in dishes without a hint of oil or fat. Chef Mango Tsang’s consommé is served piping hot and flavoured simply with matsutake mushroom and bamboo pitch, with a fortified chicken stock as its base. It’s one of the most heartwarming things we ate all month —  we just wish we could make a version as good as chef Mango’s to sip at home on a nightly basis. LY

Ming Court, 6/F, Cordis, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong; +852 3552 3301, cordishotels.com

Crafted 852

The best cure for dining out fatigue: homemade pasta.

The dish: Handmade pappardelle with short rib ragù

It’s not a proper restaurant, but you can certainly enjoy a delicious meal at Crafted 852. Housed in a gorgeous, high-ceilinged loft in Sai Ying Pun, the space is a combination of a gourmet food market, stocking artisanal products from near and far, and a private event space, where you can arrange a dinner party for a birthday celebration, a cooking class for a team-building activity, or pretty much any other food-focused programme you can think of.

During a recent pasta-making experience at the loft, chef-proprietor Nolan Ledarney taught us how to make fresh pappardelle using nothing more than all-purpose flour, eggs, a rolling pin and our hands. After a short drying process, the pasta was quickly cooked and then tossed with an extravagant short rib ragù that the chef had prepared earlier; fried sage leaves and plenty of extra virgin olive oil were the final touches. The evening served as a helpful reminder that, oftentimes, the simple pasta you make yourself at home with friends and family can taste much better than any jazzed-up variety around town. —MAC

Crafted 852, 2/F, 35 Bonham Road, Sai Ring Pun, Hong Kong; crafted852.com

Leslie Yeh
Editor in Chief
Having worked as a lifestyle editor for almost 10 years, Leslie is thrilled to be writing about the topic she loves most: wining and dining. When she's not out pounding the pavement for the latest new restaurant opening or tracking food trends, Leslie can be found at home whipping up a plate of rigatoni vodka and binge-watching Netflix with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand.
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