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.
Tate Dining Room
The dish: ‘Ode to Chestnut’
The brilliant chef Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room has launched her all-new 8-course degustation menu (HK$1,680 plus 10% surcharge per person), presented as an ode to Hong Kong in the same vein as her previous tasting formats. Her precise touch and thoughtful creativity are apparent again throughout the cohesive menu, which progresses elegantly from fresh sea conch with umami-rich seaweed jelly, to a Chinese-inspired riff on pâté en croûte, and Brittany turbot with yellow wine sabayon and emulsion.
My favourite unexpected treat came at the end, however, with chef Lau’s ‘Ode to Chestnut’ dessert, a pillow like chestnut sago soufflé, paired with chestnut paste and a silky smooth quenelle of pu-er ice cream. Whether or not you have a sweet tooth, it’s hard not to be charmed by the creative dessert, followed up by an assortment of delicate mignardises chosen from Tate’s new custom-designed dessert trolley by Lala Curio. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
Tate Dining Room, 210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2555 2172
The dish: Fish ‘n’ chips
British chefs Kirk Westaway and Simon Rogan recently came together for a pretty epic four-hands menu, presented at Rogan’s flagship Hong Kong restaurant, Roganic. Often British cuisine can take a backseat to French or Italian, but Westaway and Rogan are both masterful at taking quintessential British flavours and dishes and reinterpreting them in novel and intriguing ways.
One such pleasant surprise came at the start of the meal, when we were presented with delicate little pastry cups filled with Westaway’s version of fish ‘n’ chips, which he also serves at his acclaimed restaurant Jaan in Singapore. The bite-sized morsel nails the balance of creamy fish, tart and tang evocative of the traditional pier-side snack, all served in a pastry cup for a refined, fine dining twist. A winning start to one of the best meals I enjoyed all month. —LY
Roganic Hong Kong, Sino Plaza, UG/F 08, 255 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2817 8383
The dish: Sushi taco
Black Sheep’s uproarious izakaya-inspired watering hole is always a sure bet come dinnertime, but lately they’ve been making a bid to draw in the night owls with their ‘Fukuro After Dark’ concept. Starting from a baseline of classic F&B industry tipples — picklebacks, shandies, boilermakers — the new food offering embraces a dynamic West Coast energy that is refreshing in its spontaneity. Don’t believe me? Try the sushi taco.
Consisting of premium market fish, kombu rice and soy-glazed ikura, the sushi taco is an absolute monster of a dish — a bona fide chirashi-don masquerading (unconvincingly) as finger food. All of the ingredients are hustled into a voluminous deep fried gyoza skin, and whilst the wrapper can prove somewhat brittle and unwieldy, it’s emblematic of just how much fun chef Shun is having with the new menu. Available Fridays and Saturdays from 11pm until late. —Randy Lai, Staff Writer
Fukuro, 15 Elgin Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2333 8841
The dish: Mixed vegetable kukuri
I’ve always been a fan of Chaiwala’s cheerful take on Indian cuisine, and a recent tasting reinforced the kitchen’s firm command of the Southeast Asian spice cabinet. The restaurant has recently released new menu items for fall, with tasty additions including masala beef balls to tandoori beef ribs, vegan kofta curry to paneer tikka skewer.
A precursor to the bold-flavoured dishes to come, our taste buds were whet with a welcome snack that turned out to be one of the highlights of the meal: a fiery orange plate of crispy kukuri (HK$110) — mixed vegetables fried in a spiced batter and presented with two dipping sauces. One was a creamy and herbaceous chutney, and the other a savoury tamarind — both swimming with depth and perfectly complementing the crispy bar snack. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off the meal. —LY
Chaiwala, Basement 43, 55 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2362 8988
The dish: Quiche of wild mushrooms and confit Challans duck leg
As a sommelier-led temple of fine French cooking, it’s not surprising that Petrus hosts some of Hong Kong’s most extravagant wine dinners. At events like the annual ‘Iconic’ shindig, 5-figure bottles from France’s most hallowed winemakers — Jaboulet, Romanée-Conti — are unquestionably the star of the show. Still, under the direction of newly-joined Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky, the menu rises to the occasion; and stodgy fine dining gets a new lease on life thanks to clever tweaks in format and delivery.
Chef Uwe’s quiche — the penultimate course of the Iconic wine dinner menu — is a consummate example of this. Baking pastry using the legs of Petrus’s signature canard à la presse is a fantastic way to showcase Challans duck’s distinctive, slightly gamey flavour — widely prized throughout the culinary world — and the unctuous, tender pieces of flesh are a great foil to the accompanying stuffing of wild mushroom. (Suggested wine pairing: 2002 Vérité La Joie, Sonoma.) —RL
Restaurant Petrus, Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2820 8590
The Butterfly Room
The dish: Scone & Madeleine presentation
Few venues ooze the pomp and circumstance that The Butterfly Room does. Amidst Damien Hirst works and pale green Mobius chairs, diners are transported to the gilded tea rooms of Western Europe — an atmosphere that kicks into fifth gear when you’re visiting for a spot of afternoon tea. I’ve always been fairly lukewarm on the whole high tea malarkey — the custom appears to me, at the best of times, to be a flimsy pretext for idle chatter amongst the tai tai set — but even I’m not immune to the simple joys of a well-made scone.
It’s difficult to single out any one of the delectable morsels crafted by Pastry Chef Holger Deh, but at a push, his madeleines and scones — part of the same presentation, about midway through teatime — might be the best I’ve tasted in many years. Scones, in particular, can be a tricky business, and chef Holger’s version really holds its own against whatever I imagine is coming out of the kitchens at The Carlyle or Connaught. Beautifully short and crumbly on top, whilst warm and fluffy in the centre, these are the ultimate accompaniment to a cup brimming with smoky black tea (I highly recommend the Lapsang). Available as part of The Butterfly Room’s Afternoon Tea set. —RL
The Butterly Room, Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3891 8732
The dish: Te Mana Lamb
Mr. Nobu Matsuhisa himself made an appearance at his flagship Hong Kong restaurant at the InterContinental last week to present the restaurant’s new autumn seasonal set menus. In addition to being charmed by the Japanese celebrity chef’s ebullient presence, we were equally impressed by the food offerings prepared by Executive Chef Rhys Cattermoul, whose new menu is peppered with seasonal ingredients such as sanma fish (Pacific saury), rich in fatty oils; kabocha winter squash, and tonburi, an edible dried seed sometimes referred to as ‘mountain caviar’. My favourite dish, however, was the Te Mana lamb — the superior product from chef Cattermoul’s native homeland treated simply and with due respect, resulting in a delightful and satisfying main. —LY
Nobu, 2/F, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2313 2323
George Private Kitchen
The dish: Yu fu fish cakes
At his eponymous TST hideaway, photographer-turned-chef George Ip navigates deftly through a seasonal menu that touches all four of China’s major culinary corners. The rich heritage of Guangdong (Shunde, more precisely) is a particularly big inspiration, and Ip’s intellectual and emotional attachment to the region is evident in dishes such as his yu fu — fluffy globules of fish, served alongside white cabbage and a delicate umami-infused broth.The term yu fu is a fairly literal description: referring to the silken almost-tofu texture of fish that is ground then folded into a mixture of salt, pepper and egg whites.
Initially, Ip cooks his yu fu using the traditional method — deep frying the handmade fish cakes to lock in their characteristic texture and freshness — but then goes above and beyond in execution. The yu fu itself is plated around a generous heaping of white cabbage (both ingredients offer complementary flavour and texture), ladled with a delicate master stock that serves to tie the whole dish together. Simple and immensely comforting, it’s a real joy to know that Shunde cuisine of this order is still being prepared (not to mention enjoyed) in Hong Kong. Available for pre-order. —RL
George Private Kitchen, 9/F, Charmhill Centre, 50 Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 9094 2362