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 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.
New Punjab Club
The dish: Masalewali Chanp (lamb chops, beetroot korma, ember-roasted onion)
Black Sheep Restaurants threw open the doors to their cosy tandoor chop house this month (a particular passion project for co-founder Syed Asim Hussain, a Hong Kong-born Pakistani) and if their prior projects including Carbone, Ho Lee Fook and the recently opened Osteria Marzia didn’t already cement them as Hong Kong’s leading F&B group, New Punjab Club certainly will. We’ll be dishing out a full review soon, but for now, all you need to know is: 1) you should make your booking now and 2) you should order the lamb chops.
The Masalewali Chanp (HK$338) is hands-down the best lamb I’ve had all year — and no wonder, given the labour-intensive preparation behind the dish. Starting with premium New Zealand lamb, the chops are first dry rubbed with ginger, green chilli, chilli powder and mustard oil and left to marinate for 4–5 hours, before soaking in a wet rub of yogurt, cumin, fenugreek, garlic and onion for another 4–5 hours. They’re cooked in a hot tandoor oven, coming out so tender the meat can be cut by a spoon. The deep pockets of char lock in the mouthwatering flavour of the marinade, while a smooth, bright-pink beetroot korma (beetroot, cashews, cumin and coriander roots) tempers the gaminess of the lamb, lending an overall sweetness to balance the smoke and char. It’s hard to think of a single way this dish could be improved upon. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
New Punjab Club, 34 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2368 1223
The dish: Spaghetti ricci
Hong Kong has plenty of amazing uni dishes already, but there’s a new one you need to try. Sea urchins are called ricci di mare in Italian, and they’re the star of the spaghetti ricci (HK$288) at coastal Italian–inspired Osteria Marzia. Imported from Italy, the urchins served here will be quite a surprise for diners accustomed to the sweet and creamy qualities of Japanese uni, as this variety is notable for its briny seawater characteristic (I mean that in the best possible way). In charming Positano ceramic bowls, the orange ‘tongues’ are served atop spaghetti aglio e olio, thin strands of pasta cooked with garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes. This is the kind of dish that succeeds precisely because of its simplicity, and it’s proof that good ingredients go a long way. I’d say it’s the dish you must try when you go to Osteria Marzia. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief
Osteria Marzia, G/F, The Fleming, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3607 2253
The dish: Raw bergamot pie
Over the years, we’ve seen chef Peggy Chan from Grassroots Pantry wave her magic wand on a number of healthy ingredients to create memorable dishes (popcorn “chicken” and teff shiitake gnocchi spring to mind), and she managed to surprise and delight us yet again at the recent Collective’s Table pop-up dinner with Filipino guest chef Margarita Forés.
While all the dishes were worthy of inclusion in this column, the one I couldn’t stop thinking about was this raw bergamot pie (HK$95). It’s made with a pili date crust (raw vegan eaters, rejoice) and light lemon poppyseed sponge infused with orange Pekoe tea. A bergamot (like a cross between a lemon and an orange) curd adds bright citrus, while the cloud-like meringue is made from aquafaba — essentially chickpea water beaten with sugar into a meringue, giving it an earthier, more pronounced flavour than the original. To be honest, half these ingredients were new to me and that’s what I love about Grassroots Pantry: discovering healthier ingredients and dishes that taste just as good — if not better — than the real deal. Chef Peggy hit another one out of the park with this bang-on dessert. —LY
Grassroots Pantry, Shop D, G/F, 108 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2873 3353
The dish: Honbo
Owned and operated by a former doctor — does this mean burgers are healthy? — Honbo opened earlier this year on Sun Street in a quiet corner of Wan Chai. It wasn’t until recently that I visited, but I quickly fell in love with this down-to-earth burger shop thanks to its cute design touches, selection of craft beers, focus on locally grown ingredients and, of course, its burgers.
I tried the signature Honbo (HK$98): two thin patties made from a blend of Hong Kong and American beef, housemade pickles, house sauce and cheese, all stacked on a milk potato bun. Every element here is stellar, from the freshly baked buns made at a local bakery, to the flavour-packed beef patties that are perfectly cooked on the griddle to achieve a nice crust with plenty of browning. The cheese, pickles and sauce add both richness and balance, making for one very satisfying — but not overly indulgent — burger. A potato bun is not an easy thing to come by in Hong Kong, but this one is excellent, providing the necessary heft to keep from falling apart while still managing to feel airy and light. I’ll be back to try Honbo’s other selections, but for now, this is my new favourite burger in Hong Kong. —MAC
Honbo, Shop B, G/F, New Sun House, 6-7 Sun Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2567 8790
The dish: Charolais ribeye with Béarnaise sauce and French fries
There’s nothing quite as pleasurable as cutting into a perfectly cooked steak, something I was reminded of this month while savouring the steak frites (HK$558) at Terroir Parisien, the casual French bistro from acclaimed chef Yannick Alleno. Made from premium Charolais beef, the generous steak is seasoned simply with coarse salt and pepper, then left to caramelise on the grill until it develops a nice sear and crust, requiring a little heavy muscle as you slice into it. Inside, the steak is supremely tender and cooked to a beautiful medium rare, the premium meat imparting a rich and concentrated beefiness seldom found in lesser cuts. The steak was improved on only by the deliciously tangy and well-balanced Béarnaise sauce along with a mound of golden, evenly crisp fries served in a fuss-free paper cone. This is bistro food at its finest — and a top contender for the best steak frites in town, in my opinion. —LY
Terroir Parisien, M/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 9990
Buenos Aires Polo Club
The dish: Burrata
We’re huge fans of burrata here at the LSA office (who isn’t?) and we regularly pay our dues to excellent balls of fresh mozzarella and cream around the city, but a recent visit to Buenos Aires Polo Club really had us floored. For a moment, it even made us forget about all the other fantastic burrata we’ve tasted in the past (don’t worry Mercato, we can’t quit you).
The description on the menu seemed innocuous enough: ‘Burrata, garlic, chives, tomato, gaucho bread,’ and was slightly pricier at HK$178 than we’ve seen at other restaurants for a starter. It arrived as a massive, gleaming white orb of fresh mozz sitting on what seemed like a chilled stew of heirloom tomatoes. It was the perfect combination of cold, creamy mozzarella; sweet, lightly grilled tomatoes and herbs; and steamy layers of grilled ‘gaucho’ flatbread that we used to wrap each bite. As the rich, cheesy filling mixed into the tomato sauce, the sweet creaminess became a sort-of gazpacho that was worthy of drinking straight from a spoon. Yes, it is a simple combination of cheese, tomatoes and bread, but sometimes that’s all the comfort (and reassurance to eat recklessly) that you need. —Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Buenos Aires Polo Club, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2321 8681
Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour
The dish: Grilled cheese sandwich
I finally made it over to gin bar Dr. Fern’s and while the gin and tonics are the main draw at this hidden speakeasy in Landmark, I was most excited to try what’s currently being advertised as “the best grilled cheese in town.” While we’ve yet to do a proper taste test of all the gooey, cheesy sandwiches around town, we can verify that Dr. Fern’s version of this classic comfort snack (HK$128) is indeed a must-try for all grilled cheese lovers. Made with soft, rather fluffy sourdough, the sandwich falls somewhere between a grilled cheese and garlic bread — meaning due to its thicker size, you can separate the top and bottom halves and eat it like cheesy toast instead (which I did to savour every bite). There are two components that make this sandwich great — the outer fried cheese crust that adds a salty, satisfying crunch; and the liberal amount of chives in the filling, lending an onion-like, herbaceous flavour to every bite. Make sure you wash it down with one of the new G&T creations on the fall menu. —LY
Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour, Shop B31A, First Basement Floor, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2111 9449
The dish: Mandoo soup
Following some design tweaks that temporarily closed the kitchen, a revamped Jinjuu is now serving modern Korean food again with some new offerings. I recently went in to try the new weekend brunch (HK$388 per person); whereas the brunch service used to consist of a buffet spread followed by optional mains, it’s been simplified now so that everything is delivered to the table, including a selection of seven all-you-can-eat starters. I think they’re all quite good, but the best of the bunch is the mandoo soup, consisting of a single beef and pork dumpling in a savoury broth, topped off with black truffle. I don’t remember exactly how many I ordered — blame it on the free-flow — but I do remember this is an extremely addictive dish, especially considering it’s just one bite a slurp of some delicious soup. Go and order as many as your heart desires — you won’t regret it. —MAC
Jinjuu, UG, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3755 4868
The dish: Tacos
The verdict is in: 11 Westside is Hong Kong’s best new Mexican restaurant this year, due in no small part to the fantastic handcrafted tacos the kitchen is turning out. We knew these handheld snacks would be the ‘make it or break it’ of the new Kennedy Town eatery (chef Esdras Ochoa has been deemed “LA’s Taco King,” after all) and boy, do they deliver. The tacos come in four varieties, all of which are fantastic thanks to the supple and aromatic hand-pressed flour tortillas, a generous spoonful of creamy avocado and a bright salsa molcajete to bind the flavours together. In my opinion, the best plan of attack is to order all four for yourself (they’re too small to share anyways) and mix and match bites, jumping from the smoke-infused al pastor pork with fresh pineapple to the spice-blasted cauliflower in a fragrant tomato sauce, to the garlic grilled chicken and the tender, ponzu-marinated beef. Priced at HK$50 each, these tacos fully live up to the hype, and we’re already planning our return visit. —LY
11 Westside, 1/F, The Hudson, 11 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 3996 7754
The dish: Ma po burrata pizza
Regular readers of this column know that we regularly feature dishes from Mercato — possibly too often — but what can we say? We like carbs and cheese and it’s close to our office. Regardless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put in a personal plug for The Great Pizza Bake Off, in which my spicy honey pizza is currently being served along with chef May Chow‘s ma po burrata pizza (HK$228) — but only through 8 October. I’m not so egotistical as to write about my own creation — go try it for yourself if you’re curious — but I’ll happily give a shoutout to May for her pizza version of the Second Draft dish that took Instagram by storm. The tasty crust is topped with an amazing, lip-tingling ma po ragout, on top of which are placed hefty chunks of burrata, torn basil leaves and Sichuan chilli oil. The result is something not quite like any other pizza you’ve had, but that’s exactly the point. Go order it while you still can in the next few days.
Mercato, 8/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3706 8567