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 dish: Caviar tart
We named Écriture one of our best new restaurants of 2018, and a recent visit reaffirmed the elegant and thoughtful cooking that’s earned head chef Maxime Gilbert an impressive number of accolades within the first year of opening, including two Michelin stars. Perched at the top of H Queen’s, Écriture’s stylish surroundings match the exquisite cooking emanating from the kitchen — from turbot with foie gras wrapped in nori to a superb version of akamutsu fish served in a monochromatic presentation with a pool of milky-white sauce infused with the flavour from the bones.
But perhaps the most memorable dish is one you’ve likely seen on your Instagram feeds — a stunning caviar tart (part of the HK$2,888 caviar menu) that packs in an inch-thick layer of Royal Caviar Club’s 8-year-old sturgeon roe over another thick layer of fresh sea urchin, all encased in a delicate buckwheat pastry. It is pure, unadulterated luxury and I’m unashamed to admit that I devoured every last bite. –Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Écriture, 26/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2343 1738
The dish: Chicken oysters with broccolini
Local chef Shane Osborn (star of Netflix’s The Final Table) nails the mix of rustic and refined at his much-anticipated second restaurant in Hong Kong, Cornerstone. A cosy nook serving all-day dining, the appeal of Cornerstone is in a menu that’s imbued with all of the sophistication and maturity of Osborn’s kitchen at Arcane, including the same rigid adherence to top-notch produce — yet served in a more relaxed atmosphere at wallet-friendly prices.
There are some wonderful bistro-style dishes on the menu, from quail risotto to tagliatelle with smoked sausage, but if you’re looking for a hearty dish that’s light on carbs, we’d recommend going for the chicken oysters (HK$128) — a tender, oblong-shaped cut of dark meat found just behind the lower backbone on the bird. The underrated cut is done justice here, pan-fried simply to retain its juices and scattered across a bed of tender-stalked charred broccolini, with added umami from sunflower seeds and shredded parm. –LY
Cornerstone, 49 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
The dish: South African abalone
While Causeway Bay Japanese restaurant Ta-ke is already well-known for its omakase offerings, a newly addded teppanyaki counter proves it’s not just the sushi chefs who are worthy of the spotlight. The restaurant has welcomed teppanyaki master Arthur Li to curate the new sizzling grill experience at Ta-ke, and on a recent visit I was dazzled by all manners of premium ingredients from succulent lobster to decadently marbled A5 Wagyu beef. The star of the show, however, was the meaty South African abalone (HK$280), which the chef expertly shucked from its shell before a quick sizzle on the flat top. Served with sea urchin and shimeji mushrooms, the meat was delicate and chewy, bearing the faint salty brine of the ocean with an underlying sweetness. It’s not often I eat abalone, but this one was up there with the best. –LY
Ta-ke, Shop G01, Lee Garden Two, 28 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2577 0611
The dish: Frog legs with parsley and garlic chips
Meaty, bite-sized and hand-held, frog legs are one of my favourite things to snack on — an ingredient you simply don’t see enough of around Hong Kong. While I usually prefer Chinese-style preparations — either in a claypot or wok-fried with spices — it’s perhaps simply due to the few number of Western restaurants serving what used to be a staple in every French bistro. Luckily for us, Louise — which recently took over the old Aberdeen Street Social space and is helmed by internationally-acclaimed chef Julien Royer — brings back French-style frog legs with aplomb, serving them elegantly with garlic chips, a garlic purée and a concentrated deep-green parsley purée that adds a burst of vibrant herbaceousness to the plate. They’re a pricey proposition at HK$258 per plate, but you’ll want to keep every last bite for yourself. –LY
Louise, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2866 0300
The dish: Lemongrass salad with prawns, pork and cashew nuts
David Thompson might be one of the most authoritative names in Thai cuisine in the Eastern Hemisphere, but while the downstairs bar at his Hong Kong restaurant, Aaharn — opened late last year in the central courtyard of Tai Kwun — remains packed most nights, the dining room upstairs is still surprisingly empty, as we discovered on a recent visit to try the new summer menu.
While the room may lack energy, there’s nothing lifeless about the dishes, which come out one after another bearing the full spectrum of Southeast Asian flavours and spices. Chef Thompson told us last year that the menu would be unapologetically faithful to authentic, bold-flavoured Thai dishes, and he wasn’t kidding: Every dish is a lesson in packing in legions of flavour while mastering the balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour central to Thai cuisine. I particularly loved the sliced lemongrass salad (HK$228), which employs no less than 20 ingredients including toasted coconut, four types of herbs, toasted cashew nuts, prawns, home-made dried squid, chilli, lime and coconut milk. –LY
Aaharn, Shop 02-1/F, Armoury Building, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2703 9111
The Legacy House