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: Soba Noodles with Sea Urchin and Black Caviar
Hong Kong may be inundated with fine dining Japanese restaurants, but Kappo Rin’s elevated cuisine certainly stands a cut above the rest, showcasing the high craftsmanship of Master Chef Yoshitake. It’s no wonder, given the chef also oversees the renowned Sushi Shikon — both housed within the Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
In the multi-course tasting, every dish serves as an eye-opening example of the highest form of Japanese culinary arts, but I couldn’t help but crave seconds of the soba noodles with sea urchin. Served in a delicate glass bowl and gone in just a few bites, the dish inevitably leaves you wanting more: from the slightly cool, toothsome buckwheat noodles to the creamy lobes of sea urchin bringing a tidal wave of oceanic flavour, and the pop of caviar lending a briny bite. It’s a classic combination for sure, but executed here to utter perfection. –Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Kappo Rin, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2643 6811
The dish: Chicken with Black Truffle and Chive Sauce
The hype surrounding Madame Fù’s opening has not gone unnoticed — daily crowds fill the aesthetically pleasing, colonial-inspired eatery which specialises in contemporary Chinese food (with Western influences). The lunchtime set is a delight in itself (and very reasonably priced at HK$268), however, it was one of the main courses which outshined the experience for me, and I was lucky enough to try it before they sold out.
Every day, customers who have done their research, know to order this special dish: the Chicken with Black Truffle and Chive Sauce. Our waiter told us to “guess” the ingredients upon first taste. Expect a complex rush of flavours — the black truffle being the most dominant, of course, but not overpowering the medley of spices. Take another piece and dip it in the sauces which surround the bowl — the chive sauce bearing a pesto-like consistency and brightness. The secret ingredient which gives the real kick? Sichuan pepper, offering a tongue-tingling sensation to complement the juicy, succulent chicken. –Faye Bradley, Contributor
Madame Fù, 3/F, Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2114 2118
The dish: Crab White Meat Kamameshi Rice Pot with Uni and Salmon Roe
Nestled amongst the thin skyscrapers lining Stanley Street in the Central business district is Gyotaku, a cozy Japanese restaurant with relatively informal seating. Although busiest during lunch hour and catering to the bankers and lawyers in the vicinity, its revamped core menu is most definitely worth considering. With new Head Chef Yam Wai Lok being added to the fold at the start of the new year, the eatery looks to place an emphasis on utilising the highest quality seasonal ingredients available.
Much of the new offerings involve a medley of fresh sea urchin (uni), crab meat from Hokkaido and salmon roe (ikura) — all universally loved ingredients. The standout, however, comes in the form of the aforementioned seafood trifecta being served atop a pillowy bed of dashi-simmered rice over a low burning flame. The dish is housed in a stone pot which allows for the edges of the rice to develop a crust, adding texture and bite. The generous smattering of sea urchin and salmon roe is finely balanced by the inclusion of mushrooms which provides an earthy undertone to prevent the dish from being overpowering. A truly luxurious take on comfort food if there ever was one. –Alexander Esmail, Contributor
Gyotaku, 12/F, Stanley 11, 11 Stanley Street, Central, Hon Kong, +852 3902 3813
Aulis Hong Kong
The dish: Dry-aged sirloin
We recently visited Aulis Hong Kong, Simon Rogan’s experimental kitchen, to try their new spring menu: an enchanting 15-course extravaganza led by sous chef Karl Steele (HK$1,280 per person). From flowery fields of vibrant amuse bouche to the signature ‘Aulis’ dessert featuring miso cream and nashi pear, the predominant theme of the evening was all about playing up the brightness found in specialty local and British produce.
I personally always see the meat dish as the anchor to the meal, and it was fascinating to see chef Karl’s treatment for the Spring season. Dry-aged for 42 days, the sirloin was sliced to reveal a uniform pale pink throughout, while nailing a melt-in-your-mouth quality thanks to the ageing process. Without being too funky, there was a luscious, blue-cheese fruitiness on the tail end of each bite. The accoutrements were a torched king oyster mushroom topped with a tangy black garlic emulsion and garlic flowers, and a quenelle of jerusalem artichoke puree. What seemed like a simple triptych of ingredients became a complex flavour bomb in every bite — especially when we mopped up the silky beef jus, all of which paired perfectly with a jammy Rioja. Honestly, we would have been happy to end the meal there.
Aulis Hong Kong, Shop UG08, UG/F, Sino Plaza, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2817 8383
The dish: Tortellini with porcini and Iberico ham
Although not the most theatrical dish of the night (this honour probably goes to the smoked salmon appetiser with Instagrammable dry ice), the handmade tortellini stuffed with porcini mushroom and Iberico ham was the undisputed crowd pleaser of Cucina’s special 4-course menu (available until the end of April).
Four glossy, golden parcels, as if they’ve just parachuted onto the plate through an olive oil drizzle, arrive as your main course. Like little members of a Cuisine Sans Frontieres, they earnestly off-load their delectable cargo onto your tongue: the earthiness of the porcini and nutty salt notes of 48-month-aged Iberico ham inject your taste buds for satisfyingly savoury relief. A dab of the pear and madeira sauce adds tartness, while the bright, fruity glass of La Spinetta Vermentino Bianco (if you opt for the wine pairing) draws out the salty notes of the Iberico ham. –Irene Pyne, Contributor
Cucina, 6/F, Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel, Harbour City, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2113 0808
The Pizza Project
The dish: Gnocco Fritto from The Pizza Project