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 freshly impressed upon us the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street snacks to meticulously prepared tasting menus, these are the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.

Date by Tate

The dish: Truffle chocolate pound cake

Tate Dining Room’s recently opened lifestyle retail and pastry shop (Date by Tate) is a must-visit for any gastronome — particularly those with a fervent sweet tooth. I was particularly head over heels with the black truffle and chocolate pound cake (HK$280), an unusual but umami-rich pairing that oozes with a soft and fudgey but crunchy praline centre. The gorgeous aroma of black truffle isn’t overpowering either, but delivers an unusual but satisfying hit of earthy, alliaceous goodness that you rarely find in a great dessert. Who needs a chocolate Yule log this festive season when you can have this? — Evelyn Lok, Managing Editor

Date by Tate, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 6730 249

Bakehouse

The dish: Chocolate hazelnut doughnut (HK$38)

Another sign that proves pastry maestro Gregoire Michaud can do no wrong (and hence a testament to Bakehouse’s perennial queues) was a bite out of its sinfully delicious doughnuts. Perfectly pillowy pieces that are practically too large to finish on one’s own (but will be a crime if you don’t), they’re filled with velvety indulgence, whether it’s sweet and tart raspberry jam, creamy custard or for me, decadent chocolate hazelnut cream ganache that hits the spot with a Goldilocks-level of sweetness. — EL

Bakehouse, various locations including: 14 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai, Hong Hong

Roots Eatery

The dish: Foie gras stuffed chicken wings

It’s as decadent as it sounds. On a recent visit during lunch just as the weather started to dip beneath the 15s (AKA frigid in Hong Kong terms), chef Stephanie Wong’s hearty foie gras-stuffed chicken wings knocked the chilly winter doldrums right out of our bones. Perfectly cooked, these large and mostly deboned wings were convenient and clean to eat for a celebratory lunch. These were fried till lightly crispy on the outside, flavourful and bursting with juice with every bite; while the unctuous foie was never overcooked in the inside — adding a lovely level of opulence to probably one of my favourite high/low combos of late. At HK$168 for two large pieces as an appetiser to share between two, it’s a small luxury that’ll brighten up any dull winter afternoon. — EL

Roots, G/F, 7 Sun Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2623 9983

65 Peel

The dish: White pepper and miso diamond clams with vermicelli

Talk about a winter warmer: 65 Peel is known for its great selection of local craft beers and cheeky and innovative dishes made to pair with them, often taking inspiration from Hong Kong dai pai dong fare. It’s not our first time this winter ordering this white pepper clam dish (HK$168) either — we had to make a second trek up hilly Elgin Street for more. While the sweet and succulent New Zealand diamond clams sound like the star of the show, it’s really the addictive broth base: a loudly umami-laced concoction that we’d happily drink from bowls. It tastes not unlike the Chiuchow firecracker classic of pork stomach and white peppercorn stew, but bursting with sweetness thanks to the seafood and miso. Everything else serves as vessels to sop up the delicious broth: clamshells end up being little ladles; craggly beancurd sheets, vermicelli noodles and cloud ear fungus are perfect mops drenched in peppery soup, and are a swell pairing with a refreshing pale ale. — EL

65 Peel, 65 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2342 2224

Dalloyau 

The dish: ‘Sweet Blast’ cake 

To sum up the month of December in a single dessert is no simple task. In a pinch, however, it should at least be one of indulgence; of extravagance; and of surprise. Enter the customisable ‘Sweet Blast’ cake from Dalloyau, everything the end-of-year holiday month should be, and perhaps even some more. Marking a dramatic entrance with a white chocolate sphere as the topper, this cake (read: sculpture) is no doubt one a celebration in itself, abloom with fondant floral and gilded leaves with a hidden element of drama: It comes equipped with a wooden mallet for you to smash open the chocolate sphere, allowing yet more chocolates to spill out; this time, golden foil-wrapped pralines.

Theatrics aside, it was French patisserie’s famed Opéra cake sitting beneath that tempted repeated visits throughout the day. Six delicately arranged layers of rich coffee buttercream, velvety chocolate ganache and almond-flour sponge generously soaked in Italian roasted coffee, rotates in perfect synergy for a truly memorable bite. It’s not hard to believe that the Opéra cake continues to its reign as Dalloyau’s signature since its founding in 1955. The sweetness and subtle bitterness are in such fine equilibrium that each forkful is never too strong nor too heavy. As for its Joconde biscuit base, its adds just the right amount of crunch to the airy, elegant layers. — Lorria Sahmet, Style Editor

Dalloyau, various locations including: Shop 2028, L2, IFC Mall, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3185 8390

Ying Jee Club

(Image credit: @epicurushongkong)

The dish: Sautéed pigeon with fried Yunnan ham and sea cucumber

Shortly before the untimely arrival of Hong Kong’s fourth you-know-what, I had the fortune to snag lunch at Ying Jee — where chef Siu has been hard at work making the most out of 2020’s sour lemons by keeping the flame alive for big Cantonese meals. Likely aware that these days diners crave something familiar and reassuring, he’s launched a ‘Nostalgic Tasting menu’ (HK$880 for eight courses); revisiting nourishing, often absurdly laborious preparations that are a much-loved part of Hong Kong’s culinary heritage. (Please note this menu is only available until 31 January as a pre-order with half day-notice.) 

Lunch was filled with many delicious reminisces from banqueting history (stuffed chicken wings; a crispy taro and lotus root invention masquerading as prawn toast) but the course that’s proved hardest to shake out of the old noggin is an unassuming-sounding plate of pigeon. Prepared in a style that was all the rage through the 1960s, juicy and generously carved slices of pigeon are cooked rapidly at high heat in a sauce of sea cucumber, before being deposited next to slivers of ham wrapped in something resembling the epidermis of a cobb loaf. Diners mindful of the traditional Cantonese emphasis on balance will find plenty to enjoy here. The sea cucumber sauce is evenly coated on each piece of pigeon, accentuating the bird’s full-bodied flavour — always a nice contrast when you’re working with an ingredient as naturally sweet as Yunnan ham. — Randy Lai, Contributing Editor

Ying Jee Club, Shop G05, 107-108, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2801 6882

Chiu Tang

The dish: Chiuchow-style winter hotpot

Just as one is wont to rely on family and friendship during times of stress, so do we often find comfort in the familiarity of foods that we enjoy. Few cooking methods express this synergy better than hotpot, of which there are perhaps a thousand permutations across Northeast Asia. In Hong Kong, a popular variation is the Chiuchow seafood steamboat — synonymous with the provincial city of the same name in eastern Guangdong. Served at home (these days, admittedly the only dining option after the supposedly scandalous hour of 6pm) it’s an incredibly comforting way to feed the family — especially when all the finicky business of slicing; shucking; and de-shelling, is dispensed with by your favourite restaurant. 

To celebrate the winter solstice, Chef Cheong of Chiu Tang has put together an idiot-proof version of this classic crowd pleaser (HK$1,688 for four; HK$2,533 for six). Upon delivery, simply bring to the boil; cook for five minutes; then serve. It’s so simple, even yours truly was capable of preparing it. And though it’s unlikely to win any points for ‘outside the box’ cooking there’s possibly no better time for a hearty bowl of soup, dolloped over fresh fish and veggies. Add-ons for more premium fare (such as Angus beef slices) are also available. — RL

Chiu Tang, 2/F, The Galleria Plaza, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2526 8798

Lorria Sahmet
Style Editor
Two years covering luxury retail later, Lorria is thrilled to continue writing about what she loves best: fashion and food. When not roaming around garden centres hauling back new plants for her indoor jungle, she is most likely hunting down the best fries in the city. She's happiest by the ocean with a fishbowl glass of ice-cold Aperol spritz.