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 Krug Room
The dish: Fish ‘n’ chips
The first thing that will strike anyone dining at The Krug Room — Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s exclusive dining room in collaboration with the venerable Champagne house — is the playful spirit that forms the theatre of the experience: from the marine-inspired décor to the interactive dessert course, in which the ocean floor comes alive through a display of sheer culinary theatrics. The Executive Chef in charge is Robin Zavou, and his unconventional attitude towards fine dining is a breath of fresh air, exemplified in several quirky dishes on the degustation menu (starting from HK$2,888 per person). Of particular note is his take on classic fish ‘n’ chips: Presented in a newspaper-lined takeout box, Zavou’s version features fresh jumbo scallops, deep-fried in a soufflé-like curry batter for a handheld treat that is gone in about three decadent mouthfuls. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
The Krug Room, 1/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2825 4014
The dish: Monaka sushi
While caviar is frequently spotted in menus these days, it’s rare that you’ll see it pop-up in a traditional Japanese setting. In an attempt to create something Hong Kong diners haven’t seen before, Kashiwaya’s Head Chef Atsushi Takahashi — in collaboration with owner-chef Hideaki Matsuo — has recently debuted a new kaiseki menu in collaboration with leading ethical caviar house, Kaviari. The briny pearls are added to almost every course on the seasonal menu, lending their briny notes to fresh Kuruma prawns, shrimp jelly and crab meat with salted sea urchin. One of the highlight dishes of the 11-course menu (HK$2,500 plus 10% surcharge) is the Monaka sushi: This creative number starts with a crispy Japanese wafer shaped like a flute, folded together at the table to make your own sushi sandwich, filled with alternating mouthfuls of tuna, okra and caviar. —LY
Kashiwaya, 8/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2520 5218
The dish: Wagyu katsu sando
Hong Kongers have something of an obsession for over-the-top, extravagant food concepts, so it’s no surprise that there’s been a fair amount of buzz going around town lately in anticipation of the arrival of Wagyumafia, known for serving up one of the world’s most expensive Wagyu beef sandwiches. During the one-night-only pop-up earlier this month, a huge queue snaked around the side of Elephant Grounds CWB, with foodies and food bloggers hoping to nab one of the elusive sandwiches rationed out that night.
Luckily, I was in for a fast-track preview, and while I wouldn’t say it necessarily blew me away the way you would expect a HK$800 sandwich to do, the Wagyu katsu sando is undeniably delicious: a decadently marbled slab of Miyazaki Wagyu beef spread with a tangy tonkatsu sauce and deep-fried in Wagyumafia’s special panko blend, sandwiched between thin slices of toasted milk bread. Whether you plan to splurge on a sando or not once Wagyumafia opens, you should expect to see this sandwich getting a fair bit of love on Instagram in the coming months. —LY
Wagyumafia, coming soon to 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
The dish: Margherita Sbaglia
I’ve already gushed about the brilliant pizzas at the newly opened Kytaly, but it’s worth repeating here for the sheer deliciousness of Franco Pepe’s creations. While Kytaly offers a small selection of antipasti and one dessert — a well-made but pricy tiramisu — to book-end the meal, you’re here for one thing and one thing only: the pizza. The Margherita Sbaglia (HK$200) is the one that shines as a true masterpiece of flavour and form: a classic margherita catapulted into the modern age with concentrated and layered sauces of bright tomato sauce, basil purée tasting of a vibrant pesto, and a bed of 100% buffalo mozzarella cheese. You get a bite of all three ingredients in every bite and the result is pure magic — carried along by the ethereally light and puffy dough that’s a showstopper in itself. —LY
Kytaly, 5/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2808 1961
The dish: Wasabi prawns
Fang Fang is all about its pan-Asian contemporary fare, but let’s just say we’ve stuck to the cocktails ever since our first visit. That’s something that’s changed since new head chef Wong Tai-po has stepped onboard: With Tai-po having spent the past few years at London’s hip Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian joint Sushi Samba, having a native Hongkonger who understands fusion fare in the kitchen is certainly cause for optimism about its latest offerings.
Of his confident, picture-perfect presentations on the new menu, we were most pleasantly surprised by the wasabi prawns (HK$98): fresh prawns lightly coated in batter and fried tempura style, complemented by dollops of wasabi mustard. It sounds simple enough, but it’s surprising how easy it can be to get wrong. In Tai-po’s version, we savoured the way every morsel gave way to a satisfying, meaty crunch, with the light batter working well with the mouthwatering tang of the sauce. We honestly could have kept snacking on this all night — the perfect accompaniment to pop in our mouths between cocktails. Our only complaint this time? There just wasn’t enough of it. —Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Fang Fang, 8/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2983 9083
The dish: Ice cream station
Despite what the gloomy weather might say, summer’s not quite over yet, which means there’s still time left to get your fill of icy treats while imagining you’re somewhere sunny off the coast of the Bahamas. With new Executive Pastry Chef Smita Grosse on board, Tiffin’s afternoon tea has been given a thoughtful makeover, focusing on Grosse’s innovative flavour combinations, appreciation of textural contrasts, and a welcome pared-back sweetness which means you can finally finish a whole afternoon tea set without hitting dangerous blood sugar levels.
Concurrently, the ice cream station has also been given a facelift: in addition to new eye-catching arrangements, the six creative flavours are irresistible, from peach and champagne to crispy-crunchy maple bacon and the “Rude Raspberry” with a caramelised vanilla base. My favourite was the So Thai: taking inspiration from the beloved mango sticky rice dessert, the fruity mango sorbet is swirled with coconut milk with chunks of sticky rice left in for a textural delight that, dare I say, is even better than the real thing. —LY
Afternoon tea is priced at HK$596 for two, Mon–Fri; HK$656 for two, Sat–Sun.
Tiffin, Mezzanine Floor, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2584 7722
The dish: Short ribs bun, hoisin, pickled onions
Be it at a restaurant or bar, serious foodies are always on the lookout for good eats — even when those around you may be on a liquid diet for the night. For me, delicious bar bites are just as important as the drinks at a new cocktail den or speakeasy, which is why I was enthused to find some winners on the menu at Ashley Sutton’s latest, Dragonfly. From chicken liver pâté to saffron croquettes, the menu brings together popular bar bites from around the globe — but the highlight item for me hits somewhere closer to home. Chef Ignacio Elizonda serves up a wonderful version of short rib baos (HK$158), stuffing steamed buns with fatty slabs of fork-tender, 48-hour sticky ribs bearing a caramelised hoisin glaze, topped with crispy bits of pickled onion and wonton strips. With a smear of Sriracha mayo, it hits all the components for a salty, crunchy bar snack that’s a perfect companion to your cocktail. —LY