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.
Gough’s on Gough
The dish: Crab mayonnaise & dill on beef dripping toast
A little more than a year after opening, Gough’s on Gough has a new executive chef, Cary Docherty, freshly arrived in Hong Kong from London, where he worked in the kitchen at celebrity chef Jason Atherton’s Little Social. In less than a month’s time, the chef has revamped the restaurant’s menus and given the kitchen a renewed focus on modern British cooking, which I was fortunate enough to sample at a recent group dinner.
While there were several dishes worth praising in this column — decadent vol au vent, whole roasted Dover sole and sticky toffee pudding all come to mind (and make my mouth water as a result) — the singular standout for me was a crab salad with mayonnaise and dill placed atop toast (HK$188). It may not sound that special at first, but when you consider that the toast had been fried in beef drippings, you might begin to understand the unctuous and irresistibly delicious outcome. It’s served as seen above, but you can opt to add 15g or 30g of Oscietra caviar if you’re looking to take this even more over the top. –Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief
Gough’s on Gough, 15 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2473 9066
The dish: Tiger prawn ravioli
Inspired by the coastal cliffside towns of Italy, Osteria Marzia boasts a menu dedicated to the lighter side of Italian cooking, a cuisine which more often than not can leave you in a heavy, carb-induced food coma. In addition to its shellfish platters, crudos, and lightly roasted fish and seafood mains — the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant has recently launched a porcini menu dedicated to the delicious wild mushrooms available this time of year. The tiger prawn ravioli (HK$278) is one of the best ways to enjoy the foraged treasures: tossed together with still-translucent baby scallops around plump golden dumplings with a chunky prawn filling. Though a pasta dish, the ravioli feels deceitfully light, with a strong current of pure Sorrento lemon running through which serves to lift all the elements and tie it all back to the sun-drenched hills of the Amalfi coastline. –Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Osteria Marzia, G/F, The Fleming, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3607 2253
The dish: Wild mallard duck pithivier
With a complex assembly process, the classic French pithivier isn’t one that you often find on restaurant menus these days. Leave it up to our city’s pre-eminent French haute cuisine master, Richard Ekkebus, then, to put a sophisticated and refined touch on one of the beloved dishes of the old canon of classical French cooking. Dining with a colleague recently at Amber, we knew instantly that we wanted to try his wild mallard duck pithivier for two (additional HK$175 supplement to the HK$628 3-course set lunch menu); and let’s just say we weren’t disappointed. The meat-stuffed enclosed pastry pie arrived for a quick photo op at the table flaunting its beautifully golden-brown, burnished crust, before being whisked away to be portioned out for our meal. The duck itself was perfectly cooked, with a thick layer of buttery foie gras and the flaky pastry crust adding extra layers of richness to an already sinfully decadent dish. A gorgeous arrangement of plums and salt-roasted beetroot fancied up the plate, serving as a palate refresher between mouthfuls of pithivier. –LY
Amber, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2132 0066
The dish: Kaluga caviar
Earlier in the month, Chef Ryujiro Nakamura of two Michelin-starred Umi in Tokyo came to visit Hong Kong for an exquisite Four Hands collaboration with Eric Räty of Arbor for just two days. You have no idea how hard it is to just pick one highlight dish, out of a 13-course meal. Especially when course upon course you are blown away (Nakamura-san’s uni & ikura don demonstrated the pinnacle of fresh seafood with sweet, voluptuous uni, sanguine toro and almost syrupy-sweet ikura, it was so good our table went silent). But when it comes to impressing me with innovation, I’ll go with the Kaluga caviar by the young and talented Chef Räty: paying homage always to Asian cooking, this porcelain cup was a reimagination of a chawanmushi steamed egg dish, but instead of the egg, it was a silky smooth mixture of Italian burrata cream, mascarpone and creme fraiche, making it light and airy yet utterly decadent. On top, verdant petit pois marinated with sancho pepper oil lended some vibrant colour and texture to the dish, while it was topped off with a quenelle of Kaluga caviar for the ultimate burst of seasalt addictiveness in each delightful (albeit shortlived) spoonful. –Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Arbor, 25/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 3185 8388
The dish: Chicken and beef skewers
Already packed to the rafters since opening earlier this year, Middle Eastern neighbourhood joint Francis has just launched a new Skew it Sundays promotion to further draw in the crowds. Inspired by the grilled meat food stalls on the streets of Tel Aviv, chef Asher Goldstein is putting his own spin on the traditional Middle Eastern grilled skewer. For HK$360 per person, the deal is unbeatable: 10 shared mezze dishes for the table plus a choice of two generous skewers per person.
The homemade mezze are fantastic, from baba ganoush to chopped Israeli salad and marinated feta with spiced beans — all served with warm, fluffy triangles of pita bread. Then come the skewers — succulent chunks of chicken, beef, pork and lamb bearing beautiful grill marks and dripping with juices. My favourite were the chicken skewers, comprised of tender, marinated thigh meat with a fragrant baharat spice blend; while the Wagyu rump beef also stole the spotlight, juicy and packed full of flavour. The promotion is only available on the last Sunday of every month (12pm–10:30pm), so make sure you mark your diaries now to get in the doors come 25 November. –LY
Francis, 4 & 6 St. Francis Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3101 9521
The dish: Duck Magret
In this kind of breezy, almost-chilly weather, I’m starting to crave gamier meats, and the duck at Felix ticked all the boxes for me and then some, when I was lucky enough to sit in on new Chef de Cuisine Juan Gomez’s Experience Menu (HK$1,228, six courses). Expert cuts of the humble bird were rested on a bed of puy lentils, lending a touch of grounded earthiness to each bite. In the middle sat an unctuous pool of foie gras and coffee ‘soup’ which I couldn’t stop dipping into thanks to its amazing smokiness, while the dobs of kumquat chutney cut through the richness . But of course, the star of the show: duck so tender it was almost tenderloin, and with that almighty crispy seared skin — a texture pairing I will still dream about. I inhaled my plate while my neighbours were still taking photos of the gorgeous dish — because who minds their manners when dinner’s this good? — EL
Felix, 28/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 2696 6778
The dish: Pani puri
From homemade pasta to northern Spanish asador grill — it seems that Pirata Group are cycling their way through nearly every cuisine on the planet. The latest opening is Chaiwala, which puts a spin on modern Indian fare and caters to the after-work and weekend crowds in Central. Connected to the British salon Hugger Mugger, the atmosphere at Chaiwala was electrifying on a recent Saturday night, and the menu in sync with bold, aggressive flavours. We loved the pani puri which kicked off the meal: wafer thin crispy shells holding a spicy filling of chickpeas and potatoes (chicken is also available although the dish is typically served vegetarian), plopped down on the table with a jug of refreshing “jal-jeera” cumin water to be poured into each bite-sized vessel. The hardest part was trying to catch the juices dribbling down our chins as we savoured the winning combination of cumin, sweet tamarind and chickpeas. –LY
Chaiwala, B/F, 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2362 8988
The dish: Sweet & sour Iberico pork
While questions still remain as to the logistic feasibility of serving Cantonese food in a space originally designed to be a speakeasy, I was relieved to find Foxglove’s new Chinese menu didn’t disappoint when assessed on purely culinary terms. The decision to pivot to contemporary Cantonese represents a monumental shift for Foxglove; a strategy that venue operators Ming Fat House are evidently committed to thanks to their appointment of Executive Chef Tony Hung. Formerly of Michelin-starred Intercon restaurant Hoi King Heen, Chef Hung’s 30-year career in fine Cantonese kitchens throughout Hong Kong ground the new menu in assured Yue influences.
Sure, premium imported ingredients find their way into the mix, as do fancy plating techniques, but the core of the new menu will be familiar (in a good way) to anyone with even a passingly alert palette. You know the score: dishes which are diverse in origin; anchored around seasonal ingredients; and big on layered flavour profiles. A prime illustration of this is the sweet & sour pork (HK$198). Often written off as a staple of Hong Kong fast food, its full potential is teased out here thanks to an expertly choreographed balance of richness, acidity and texture. Chef Hung’s take on the familiar condiment lightly glazes neat bite-sized Iberico pork, the latter coated in a film-like crisp of batter that contributes just the right amount of contrast to the moist, strongly flavoured meat. Order this, a couple of Chet Bakers and you’re good to go. –Randy Lai, Staff Writer
Foxglove, 18 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2116 8949