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.

Morton’s 

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Nueske's Bacon

The dish: Blue cheese mashed potatoes with Nueske’s bacon

Why we’re craving it: My first thought when this lovely bowl of mashed potatoes (HK$130) plopped down on the table smothered in blue cheese was, why hasn’t anyone in Hong Kong thought of this sooner?! Potatoes and cheese are an age-old combination, but using blue cheese instead of the standard cheddar or parm elevates the dish to a whole new level for those of us who think the stinkier the cheese, the better. There’s no holding back on the cheese here, either, and we’re well aware that people will either love it or hate it: a thick layer is melted into the mash and crumbles of blue cheese sprinkled across the top — so don’t even think of just “picking around it” if you’re not a fan. Topping off the carb fest is a smattering of crispy smoked bacon strips to add a smoky, salty hit. Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor

Morton’s, 4/F, The Sheraton Hotel Hong Kong, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2732 2343, mortons.com/hongkong

Wagyu Takumi

Charcoal Grilled Tenderloin with Komatsuna Puree and Braised Wagyu-Stuffed Onion2

The dish: Charcoal-grilled Japanese wagyu tenderloin with shallot purée, garlic confit and sucrine lettuce

Why we’re craving it: The kitchen at Michelin-starred Wagyu Takumi is now run by new executive chef Daisuke Mori, so I made sure to stop in and try his eight-course tasting menu (HK$1,980 per person) for dinner recently. There are several standout dishes but the highlight, naturally, was the beef. Chef Mori grills a beautiful piece of Japanese wagyu tenderloin long and slow over Binchotan charcoal, resulting in meat that, though it’s cliché to say so, melts in your mouth. I’ve had similarly tender beef in the past but it’s usually lacking in flavour — not the case here, where the wagyu is both supple and supremely juicy. Working with such a perfect protein, the chef simply plates it with shallot purée, garlic confit and a bit of lettuce, none of which overpower the luxurious meat. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief

Wagyu Takumi, Shop 1, G/F, The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2574 1299, wagyutakumi.com

The Ocean

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The dish: “Ocean Breeze”

Why we’re craving it: Chef Agustin Balbi never fails to impress with his exquisite seafood dishes at The Ocean, and each meal is a revelation in the simple beauty of ocean produce. For fall, chef Agustin has crafted an elegant eight-course tasting menu (HK$1,088 per person), and one of the highlights of the meal comes right at the start. I got a whiff of fresh truffles as soon as the clear glass bowl arrived on the table; a few moments later the full fragrance perfumed the air as the server poured a hot mushroom consommé over the carefully assembled pile of earthy ingredients: Japanese Matsutake mushrooms, slow-cooked abalone, truffles and barley. The precision in the dish is truly commendable, from the slight char on the mushrooms to the perfectly al dente barley and the full-bodied, concentrated stock that ties the whole arrangement together. LY

The Ocean, Shop 303-304, 3/F, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2889 5939, theocean.hk

Le Garçon Saigon

Banh Mi

The dish: Mini báhn mì thit with housemade cold cuts

Why we’re craving it: Chef Bao La has been serving up the flavours of Saigon in Wan Chai for nearly a year now, but one item, the humble báhn mì, has always been tragically missing from his menu — until now, that is. Newly available at Le Garçon Saigon, the mini báhn mì (HK$48 each) may not match the traditional Vietnamese sandwich in size, but it packs all the flavourful punches of one, with creamy pâté and housemade headcheese contrasting with tangy pickled vegetables. The key to a quality báhn mì is the bread, a French-Vietnamese hybrid that manages to be crunchy on the exterior and airy on the interior. It took the chef months and months to find a local baker who could produce exactly that, but the wait was well worth it. I’ll be eating this on a weekly basis. —MAC

Le Garçon Saigon, 12-14 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2455 2499, legarconsaigon.com

Cobo House by 2am:dessert bar

COBO HOUSE - Purple Chestnut

The dish: “Purple Chestnut”

Why we’re craving it: I finally made it over to the Hong Kong outpost of Janice Wong’s famous 2am Dessert Bar in Singapore, and after some disappointment upon finding out the restaurant closes at 10:30pm (and not 2am to satisfy late-night dessert cravings as you might expect), my excitement peaked like a two-year-old with the arrival of this magical-looking dessert (included in festive set menus: HK$398 for four-course lunch set, HK$880 for nine-course dinner set) with its violet and magenta squiggles, purple shards of meringue and broken white “snow”, all floating in an ethereal cloud of liquid nitrogen smoke. Hiding under the house of meringue is a soft chestnut cake which oozes with liquid chestnut fondant. Take that, chocolate fondant. LY

Cobo House by 2am:dessert bar, 8/12 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2656 3088, facebook.com

KEE Club

Goose Liver “Thousand layer Cake“

The dish: Goose liver “thousand layer cake”

Why we’re craving it: Award-winning chef Bjoern Alexander is now at the helm of the kitchen at members’ club KEE, and he’s prepared two menus — ‘Tradition’ and ‘Revolution’ — for his impressive debut. From the latter, I can’t stop thinking about the “thousand layer cake” (HK$180 or $260 depending on portion size). Imagine: A box arrives at your table and is placed before you. You open the box to find an envelope with a seal bearing the KEE logo, and inside the envelope you discover what looks like a pastry. Only when you take your first bite do you realise you’re eating foie gras, its richness cut by your choice of two accompanying jams. I’m not one for gimmicks at the dinner table, but this tasted so good that I didn’t mind the bit of theatricality that came along with it. —MAC

KEE Club, 6/F, 32 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2810 9000, keeclub.com

Deng G Bistro & Baijiu Bar

Sliced Pork with Garlic and Chili

The dish: Sliced pork with garlic and chilli

Why we’re craving it: Not normally a huge fan of the overpowering nature of Sichuan spices, the sliced pork with garlic and chilli (HK$75) at newly opened Deng G Bistro & Baijiu Bar was a pleasant surprise with its natural sweetness and complexity of flavours, despite the foreboding look of the bright red chilli oil. Grounded with a sweet and sticky dark soy sauce, the exact ingredients are a secret the kitchen refuses to give up, but I was most impressed by the clarity and harmony of the flavours and ingredients, which can be somewhat murky in other versions around town. Hit with just the right amount of heat, this is a dish I’d come back for. LY

Deng G Bistro & Baijiu Bar, 2/F, 147 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2609 2328, elite-concepts.com/dng

Mamasita’s Cantina 

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The dish: Corn esquites

Why we’re craving it: I grew up in Chicago, home to some of the best Mexican food in the world, so I’m rather particular about my tacos and tostadas. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised by a recent meal at Mamasita’s Cantina, formerly the stomping ground of now-departed chef Harlan Goldstein. The one dish I’ll be going back for is the corn esquites (HK$78), which here tastes exactly as it does on the streets of Mexico City (and Chicago). Ears of corn are grilled and then coated with chili, lime juice, mayonnaise, cotija cheese and fresh coriander — a combination that may sound strange but proves utterly addictive upon first bite. —MAC

Mamasita’s Cantina, 5/F & 6/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2896 6118, mamasitas.hk

Frantzén’s Kitchen

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The dish: “French Toast”

Why we’re craving it: Undoubtedly one of the most innovative restaurant openings of the year, Frantzén’s Kitchen dives into alternative paths of gastronomy, taking the oft-eschewed products of earth’s bounty and turning them into beautiful, meticulously prepared plates of food. With originality overflowing from the kitchen, dishes we thought we could make out at first spun off into weird and wonderful directions, as was the case with this “French Toast” (HK$95), which resembled a grilled cheese at first glance with its toasted brioche and layer of melted cheese. In fact, there was much more substance underneath the flurry of white truffles, with sweet caramelised onions, 60-month-aged Swedish cheese, and a drizzle of sweet 100-year-old balsamic to counteract the pungent flavours. A signature dish of chef Björn Frantzén, this one-bite wonder was my favourite mouthful of an exceptional meal. LY

Frantzén’s Kitchen, 11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2559 8508, frantzenkitchen.com

Giando

DSC_0199

The dish: White truffle ice cream

Why we’re craving it: We’re at the height of white truffle season, which means the prized fungi have popped up on menus all over town. While I’ve been fortunate to recently enjoy them with pasta, beef carpaccio and scrambled eggs, my favourite specialty dish of the season is the white truffle ice cream (HK$168) at Giando. The ice cream itself is a pure expression of white truffle flavour, and I was nearly overwhelmed by its power. Topped with hazelnut crunch and white truffle shavings, this is easily my new favourite dessert in the city. —MAC

Giando, Shop 1, G/F, Tower 1 Starcrest, 9 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2511 8912, giandorestaurant.com

Grand Hyatt Steakhouse

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The dish: Pork loin wrapped in bacon

Why we’re craving it: When you think of Grand Hyatt Steakhouse, you generally imagine cutting into a thick, hearty steak, but the new Mangalica Pork promotion may be giving beef a run for its money. Known as the Kobe beef of pork, the so-called “Heritage pork” from Hungary was almost extinct a decade ago but is slowly regaining its numbers. With a reputation that proceeds it, I was happy to find that it does in fact live up to its name, with intense, richly flavoured meat and a clean type of fat that you don’t feel (too) guilty about eating. But it’s not only the pig that deserves the credit — the meat is handled beautifully in chef Patrick Shimada’s hands, who prepares it in three variations including a fork-tender smoked pork neck, pork chop, and our favourite — a juicy pink pork loin wrapped in thick strips of bacon, made in-house from the belly of the pig (HK$360). LY

Grand Hyatt Steakhouse, Lobby, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2584 7722, hongkong.grand.hyatt.com

Foxglove

stuffed Quail_2

The dish: Stuffed quail

Why we’re craving it: With its retro glamour and crisp martinis, Foxglove is one of my favourite places to duck into for an evening cocktail, and now they have one of my favourite new dishes as well. I enjoy eating quail from time to time, but the bones are an annoyance to deal with. Not so at Foxglove, where the small fowl (HK$268) is deboned before being stuffed with Carnaroli risotto (sourced from northern Italy) and mushrooms, giving each forkful a toothsome bite. It’s served over cheesy broccoli and sweet corn, and it gave me exactly the kind of cosy, warm feeling that I look for when the weather cools down. —MAC

Foxglove, 2/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2116 8949, foxglovehk.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.