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.
The Krug Room
The dish: Pärsùt
After working for chef Joel Robuchon for 16 years, chef Yosuke Suga returned to his native Tokyo in 2015 to open Sugalabo, one of the Japanese capital’s most exclusive restaurants, which has just 20 seats. It’s only open on certain days, it’s literally hidden, and in order to be allowed inside, you need to be invited by someone who’s already dined there. Therefore, it was an extra special treat when The Krug Room welcomed Suga as a chef-in-residence for five days in June, and I was lucky enough to meet the man himself and try his wonderful food.
The exquisite tasting menu featured 12 courses, each one highlighting ingredients from a different Japanese prefecture. There were too many highlights to list here, but the one dish I’ll never forget — shocking simple and yet incredibly bold — was the pärsùt. A cured ham that’s similar to prosciutto, this pärsut is made in Gifa prefecture by a producer called Bon Dabon, and it’s just as good as the stuff that comes from Parma, if not better. Given such a perfect product to start with, chef Suga simply draped thin slices of the ham over warm mounds of rice, to be eaten like sushi. The combination may sound strange, but the result was sublime, with the warm rice awakening delicious flavours and aromas in the pärsùt. In spite of its simplicity, or rather because of it, this dish lingers in my mind. If you can find a way to snag an invite to Sugalabo for your next visit to Tokyo, I’d highly suggest taking advantage of it. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief
The Krug Room, 1/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2825 4104
The dish: Paris-Brest
I expected some elegant and beautiful plating from this Michelin-starred import from Paris, but in fact the mains appeared much more rustic and free-formed in their compositions. It was the desserts that ended up impressing the most — particularly this version of the classic French dessert, Paris-Brest. An audible gasp went around the table when it arrived, enthroned in a golden web of spun sugar which gleamed with flakes of gold leaf.
With a few taps of the fork, the web shattered, showering the plate with little crispy bits of cracked sugar. Then came the intense and beautiful richness of each bite –hazelnut cream swirling like ice cream above puffs of delicate choux pastry, accompanied by crunchy homemade praline bits and a luscious caramel sauce. Dessert lovers, this should be on your bucket list to try before the end of the year. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Le 39V, Shop A, 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2977 5266
The dish: Mata lembu
As part of their ongoing dining series in Hong Kong and Macau, Michelin and Robert Parker Wine Advocate arrange dinners that comprise their International Chefs Showcase; the most recent one, on 10 June, brought together Haikal Johari, executive chef of Alma by Juan Amador in Singapore, and Laurent Peugeot, owner and chef of Le Charlemagne in Burgundy, France, for a collaborative “four hands” dinner. Set inside the baroque interiors of Restaurant Petrus, the meal was an impressive display of creativity and craftsmanship, with Peugeot representing his French-Japanese cuisine, and Johari showing how he applies Asian flavours to Spanish cuisine.
With a total of eight impressive courses (four from each chef), it’s not easy to pick a favourite, but if forced to I’d choose chef Johari’s mata lembu, which translates to “fried egg” in Malay. Of course, this dish was so much more than that: a beautifully cooked egg atop a perfect circle of steak tartare, topped with caviar and dressed with ponzu to balance it all out. It was a beautiful, clever, and — most important — delicious dish, certainly a highlight of the evening. Chef Johari’s skill is all the more impressive given that a motorcycle accident in October 2015 left him partially paralysed; today’s he commands the kitchen from a wheelchair, an impressive and inspiring example of overcoming all odds to succeed. —MAC
Restaurant Petrus, 56/F, Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2820 8590
The dish: Sea bass ceviche
There are so many fantastic dishes at the newly relocated (and completely revamped) Latin American spot Picada, but if we’re being forced to choose just one, it’d be the sea bass ceviche with charcoal-infused sweet potato puree. First, there’s the eye-catching arrangement on the plate — the pure white pile of sea bass contrasting against the swipe of sweet potato purée set in a brilliant shade of orange.
Then comes the full-on flavour: the fish is fresher (we hear one of the partners is the seafood supplier for a number of Michelin-starred restaurants including Amber and Caprice), the sweet potato creamier (shot through with an earthiness from the charcoal oil), and the leche de tigre punchier than any marinade has a right to be. Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I had a dish that was so intensely flavoured yet perfectly well balanced. Picada, we’ll be back soon. —LY
Picada, 29 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3425 4037
Morton’s The Steakhouse
The dish: Burrata, mango & heirloom tomato salad
Yes, the steaks at Morton’s are fabulous, but what I absolutely loved on a recent visit was a burrata, mango & heirloom tomato salad — the essence of summery goodness on a plate — from the new seasonal menu. Mixed greens provide the base for this colourful bounty, with the sweet and ripe tomatoes playing off the richness of the burrata, and the irresistible chunks of mango perfectly complimenting slices of ham. Salty and sweet, rich and light, this is easily the most satisfying salad I’ve had in a long time, and it’s big enough to share for three or four people — a slightly healthier starter before you dig into all the glorious steak and indulgent sides on offer. —MAC
Morton’s The Steakhouse, 4/F, The Sheraton Hotel & Towers, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2732 2343
The dish: Austalian black truffle and hazelnut mille crêpe
It’s winter in Australia, which means it’s time for black Perigord truffles. Fortunately for us in Hong Kong, specialty-food supplier Waves Pacific imports these prized goodies for us to enjoy in our summertime. Right now, you can find these truffles at restaurants such as Arcane, CIAK, 22 Ships, Rhoda, Town, Gia, and Giando as long as the season lasts.
I recently had a chance to try some new dishes that chef Daniel Calvert has introduced to the menu at Belon, all of which feature the Aussie truffles. I’m quite a fan of the fresh corn polenta with black winter truffle — made with corn grown in Hong Kong! — but nothing can top my love for the black truffle and hazelnut mille crêpe, which just might be the perfect dessert. Layers of crêpe are interspersed with a decadent hazelnut filling and sliced black truffles, making for a gorgeous presentation as well as an unforgettable taste. If only truffle season lasted all year long! —MAC
Belon, 41 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2152 2872
The dish: Char siu pork and egg rice burger
Everyone’s heard of Bao Bei’s mapo tofu fries by now, but I’m here to introduce a new favourite dish in the mix: the char siu pork and egg rice burger. Reminiscent of Mos Burger with rice patties in place of buns, Bao Bei’s rendition arrives open-faced with a beautiful sunny-side up egg, spilling a pool of bright yellow yolk across the wooden block it’s served on. Given everything is covered in messy egg yolk, this is more a fork-and-knife number than a handheld burger, but nonetheless the flavours are enticing — a juicy and tender char siu patty covered in a sweet and tangy sauce, carmelised onions, and arugula for a peppery bite. Meanwhile, the seaweed-infused rice patties boast a nice, golden brown crunch — pick up the pieces and swipe them across the plate to scoop up all of the luscious yolk. —LY
Bao Bei, Basement, Carfield Commercial Building, 75-77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2801 7779
Palm Court, The Langham Hong Kong
The dish: Honeycomb and Earl Grey crémeux with honey and orange jelly
Dessert is my kryptonite, so I’m always on the hunt for the best sweets in town. This month I was drawn to the winning confectionaries at The Langham, Hong Kong’s famously elegant afternoon tea. The new honey-inspired set is a collaboration with beauty and skincare brand Guerlain, coinciding with the brand’s new collection of self-repairing bee-powered products.
The standout treat for me was the Honeycomb pot of earl grey crémeux, honey and orange jelly. There’s something about Earl Grey that eliminates the sickly sweetness of sugary desserts, balancing out the flavours and making you want to dig your spoon in again and again. The orange jelly brought a refreshing burst of citrus, while chunks of homemade honeycomb and sprinkles of gold dusted white chocolate pearls added crunch and contrast. Also watch out for The Bee – a yellow-as-gold macaron sandwiching dark chocolate and honey nectar. —Julienne Raboca, Contributing Writer
The Honey Afternoon Tea is available through 30 September 2017, priced at HK$348 for one person and HK$598 for two persons.
Palm Court, Lobby, The Langham, Hong Kong, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2375 1133
The dish: Assorted sashimi platter
Causeway Bay newcomer Akikan Robatayaki is, unsurprisingly, a robata restaurant. That means you can order all sorts of delicious things grilled over charcoal, from chicken meatballs to Japanese eel. What’s surprising, then, is that they also do sushi and sashimi well. The fish is flown in fresh every day and, according to tradition, stored on eight inches of ice, a method that preserves the flavours and omega fats found in the fish — unlike electronic refrigeration. Aside from the uniformly high quality of the food, the space is a calming, quiet respite from the chaotic streets below, and there’s even a lovely rooftop with a view that’s not to be missed; it’s the perfect spot for a post-dinner nightcap. —MAC
Akikan Robatayaki, 27-28/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2562 3121
Le BistrO by Philippe Orrico
The dish: Tartlet of confit tomatoes with black olives
For a limited time only, the lounge level of ON Dining has been decked out in fuchsia and the space rechristened Le BistrO by Philippe Orrico. Accordingly, the new menu focuses on traditional bistro dishes executed at a premium level — think steak tartare, Burgundy snails, and roast chicken with crispy skin. My favourite dish amongst the new offerings is a traditional tartlet made with confit tomatoes and black olives. The intensified sweetness of the tomatoes paired with the earthiness of the olives and the buttery goodness of the pastry is bistro food exactly as it should be: simple and extremely satisfying. This is a perfect summer starter, so enjoy it while the season lasts. —MAC
Le BistrO by Philippe Orrico, 29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2174 8100
The dish: Porterhouse steak for two
We’re not going to lie: We have a few problems with the newly opened Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener. The salads and sides are lacklustre, the liquor license not yet sorted (when we visited mid-June) and the noise levels appalling — but, if you’re just going for steak, and steak alone, this US import is worth a visit. The Porterhouse Steak for two (HK$1,050) was priced more reasonably than other steakhouses around town and fully satisfied our carnal cravings, arriving perfectly charred with the scorched scent of burning fat giving way to tender, well-marbled meat, graduating from a light blushing pink to deep red. Do yourself a favour and leave the signature steak sauce alone — this hunk of meat is best consumed with its simple seasoning of salt and pepper, perhaps accompanied by a strong Manhattan or Old Fashioned to drown out the ambient noise. —LY
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, 1/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3990 1646
Le Petit Saigon
The dish: Báhn mì thit
What a time to be alive for local sandwich lovers, as Hong Kong is in the midst of a veritable báhn mì boom! Bahn Mi Kitchen and Cô Thành are amongst the newcomers slinging the Vietnamese sandwich (to varying degrees of success), and now we have Le Petit Saigon, sibling and neighbour to Black Sheep Restaurants’ Le Garçon Saigon. I’ve written before about my love for the mini báhn mì at LGS, but the creation they’re serving up at Le Petit Saigon is a slightly modified, altogether amazing sandwich.
Based on years of experience and research, chef Bao La has found what he believes the best version of each component of a báhn mì and combined them into one heavenly sandwich. From the homemade head cheese to the locally made pork floss and chicken liver pâté and the top-notch bread, which is custom-made for Le Petit Saigon, every element shines — and for HK$88, the value is incredible. Stocks are limited each day, so I’d suggest going earlier than later. I’m also happy to report that these sandwiches are sturdy enough to travel well, as we’ve recently discovered, since our staffers are basically required to pick up a few of them whenever they’re in Wan Chai and bring them back to the office. —MAC
Le Petit Saigon, 16 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2455 2499