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: Black bread sticks with goat cheese
With afternoon tea x designer brand collaborations still all the rage these days, I headed to W Hotel recently to try the latest promotion between Woobar and chic Japanese streetwear brand, EVISU. I’m a regular at Woobar for its laidback ambience and those stellar harbour views, and was looking forward to checking out the afternoon tea this time instead of my usual Wednesday wine free-flow night. Decked out in black and white to mirror EVISU’s signature palette, the new sweet & savoury bites on the afternoon tea menu feel freshly reinvigorated, thanks to a Nordic-inspired boost from the new Swedish culinary director on board, Robert Nilsson.
Highlights include the black mini burger bun with beef tataki, cauliflower shooter with black truffle, salted caramel lollipop and black charcoal choux buns with pistachio cream. My personal favourite, however, was the bowl of black bread sticks with goat cheese and chives cream: a savoury snack that feels like an analogue of the trusty Italian breadsticks and bruschetta aperitivo combo, but with an edgier appeal thanks to the infusion of earthy charcoal and the gamy funk of creamed goat cheese sprinkled with chives. —Leslie Yeh, Dining Editor
The “Beyond Colours” afternoon tea is available Mon–Fri 2:30–6pm (HK$438 plus 10% for two); Sat–Sun 2:30–5:30pm (HK$360 plus 10% per person).
Woobar, 6/F, W Hotel, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 3717 2222
Gough’s on Gough
The dish: Whole Cornish hen
I’m a big fan of the cocktails and tasting menus at Gough’s on Gough — one of 2017’s best new restaurants — but I recently made a visit to try some of the new a la carte items on the menu. For those who prefer a more casual style of dining, chef Arron Rhodes has introduced some new British dishes that are meant for sharing, including the rarely seen beef Wellington. My favourite of the lot, by far, was the whole Cornish hen (HK$688 for two), an unbelievably tender and succulent bird that’s served with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Though it screams ‘cosy autumnal meal’, the fact is that a perfectly cooked chicken and some nicely roasted sides are the kind of the thing I can enjoy year-round, so I’ll definitely be returning soon for this tasty hen. —Michael Alan Connelly, Editor in Chief
Gough’s on Gough, 15 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2473 9066
Den x Odette
The dish: Beetroot Variation
At the beginning of June, I was fortunate enough to sit in on a rare Four Hands dinner pop-up at Tosca, cooked by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa from Den in Tokyo, and chef Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore (#2 and #5 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, respectively). Showcasing some of the chefs’ signature dishes, it’s truly difficult to pin down a favourite: from Den’s whimsically packaged monaka — a twist on the Japanese sweet, filled with foie gras and a punchy Hong Kong salted lemon marmalade — to Odette’s unctuous, gorgeously cooked Kampot pepper-crusted Mineral pigeon paired with multiple expressions of Hokkaido corn. I was also overjoyed with chef Hasegawa’s famous DENtucky Fried Chicken (which previously made an appearance on Netflix documentary Ugly Delicious): served in a fast food box, it’s a chicken wing fried to absolute delicate crispness, paired with hearty rice, puckery umeboshi, shiso and sesame.
But alright, if I had to pick one dish that really threw my taste buds for a loop, it’d have to be chef Royer’s beetroot variation, which has pretty much reached legendary status back in Singapore. Beautifully plated, the dish is a bouquet of beetroot that takes you through the multiple textures of the sweet, earthy vegetable: as a smooth sorbet, tenderly salt-baked in yellow and red wedges, and freeze-dried then ground into a powder. It’s paired with dollops of rich, creamed stracciatella artigiana, slices of radish, and dabs of piquant horseradish. Every spoonful was a joy to savour and discover, with perfectly balanced flavours of sweetness and sharpness, richness and pops of brightness. I’m already planning my visits to the two restaurants in Tokyo and Singapore for the full experience. —Evelyn Lok, Associate Editor
Tosca, 102/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2263 2270
à nu retrouvez-vous
The dish: Mango rose cake
The new Ocean Terminal extension at Harbour City is a hotbed of gastronomic activity these days, with new openings such as Hexa, Paper Moon and FU RONG upping the dining profile of one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping destinations. Ride up the escalators to the 4th floor at the end of the terminal and you’ll stumble upon à nu retrouvez-vous, a serene fine dining establishment that marks the first overseas branch of the Tokyo flagship, founded by Shohei Shimono in 2009 and boasting a Michelin star for six consecutive years.
The humble, esteemed French fine diner also offers pastries by été, one of Tokyo’s hottest meal tickets from the talented chef Natsuko Shoji, who rose to fame for her unique, fashion-inspired desserts. In a specially designed seasonal menu — introduced in Hong Kong this month by both chefs Shimono and Shoji — I was impressed by the sheer range of techniques, methods, and diversity of ingredients displayed as the meal progressed from one creative plate to the next. The climax arrived as the dessert was presented in an elegant glass dome — Shoji’s famous mango rose cake that consists of the sweetest mango slices, folded into petals resembling a rose in full bloom, and sitting atop a base of the most ethereally light vanilla custard cream. It’s a joy to look at; but more importantly, a pure joy to eat. —LY
à nu retrouvez-vous, Shop OTE 402, 4/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2770 6222
The dish: Beetroot salad
Zuma’s healthy new menu for 2018 is packed with winning dishes — from vegetarian sushi to chilli marinated corn-fed chicken breast — but the one that really caught my attention at a recent visit was an unassuming starter: the colourful beetroot salad. A trifecta of red, golden and chioggia (or “candy-striped”) beets, the colourful plate is summer in a bowl: chunks of earthy beetroot roasted to coax out their sweetness, and doused in a tangy dressing for a winning combination of sweet, earthy and acidic. I’m not one who can stick to eating veggies all day long, but I’ll happily take this salad for lunch or dinner. Sweet and hearty, it’s sure to win over even the staunchest beet skeptics. A bonus? One roasted beetroot clocks in at just 44 calories a piece: a win-win for summer dieters. —LY
Zuma, 5-6/F, Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 3657 6388
Tipsy Restaurant & Bar
The dish: Spanish red prawns
Tipsy is the larger offshoot of Mustard Cafe & Bar in Tai Hang, which gained a reputation as a cosy little independent restaurant serving up modern European eats with an Aussie flair, spotlighting fresh ingredients. Located upstairs at boutique hotel Little Tai Hang, Tipsy makes a great spot for a relaxed weekend lunch or for savouring a drink out on the balcony. After one such long Sunday lunch we spent there, the dish that stole the show was the massive Spanish red prawns (HK$168 for one piece), each one almost as long as the size of my hand.
Forget salt-grilling or pan-frying with garlic — the owner Benson Yuen prefers showcasing the succulence of the meat itself by marinating in sweet sake and sesame oil, and then torching it tableside so you get some gorgeous blistery caramelisation and char. The prawn is then served on a bed of crispy puffed rice, to be spooned up with all the luscious, deep orange head drippings for a wonderful contrast of textures. Comparable to Korean raw soy sauce crab, the marinade renders the prawn meat soft and buttery with an aromatic aftertaste, seeping into every bit of the prawn from head to tail. Coating the mouth with flavour and richness, this dish was an absolute treat. —EL
Tipsy Restaurant & Bar, 1/F, Little Tai Hang, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Tai Hang, Hong Kong, +852 2818 8807
Beef & Liberty
The dish: Thai beef salad
For those of us who work in Central, a good lunchtime salad can be hard to find, at least one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Enter Beef & Liberty’s Thai beef salad (HK$109), my new go-to when I want something light but filling, healthy-ish yet packed with flavour. Cucumber, mint, basil, chilli, shallots, peanuts, spring onion and a Thai-style dressing all combine to create a salad that’s anything but boring. The star of the show, however, is the grilled Scottish hanger steak, cooked to a juicy medium rare, which adds a whole other level of texture and flavour to this wonderfully satisfying summer-ready meal.
Beef & Liberty, 3/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2450 5778