The act of celebrating the festivities across the dinner table has long tendered towards the Rockwellian. No longer, provided your palate yearns for a festive spread a little off the beaten path.
BACI TRATTORIA & BAR
Ask any self-respecting Italian, American, or, really, anyone. Pizza? Always a good idea. Better yet, a bottomless serve of BACI’s award-winning Neapolitan pizza? A great, Christmas brunch-worthy idea. And if the emotional void that invariably unbolts near the holiday season has transferred quite unfortunately to a cavern of a stomach an unlimited supply of pizza simply cannot fill, the trattoria also bestows an all-you-can-eat roundabout of fresh seafood, cold cuts, artisan cheese, salads, antipasti, roast meats and fish and – why not? – dessert. Lots of it.
BACI Trattoria & Bar, G/F, California Tower, 30-32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
Being landlocked in Hong Kong through the holidays is no reason not, at the very least, to daydream about sunnier days lounging by a Mediterranean shore. Basin, with its surf-and-turf spread fine-tuned for an extraordinary – and out-of- the-ordinary – end-of-year feast, is just another detail to add to that now-vivid Mediterranean fantasy. In fact, any meal that starts with fresh oysters, truffle- garnished Ballard’s steak tartare and Dénia red-prawn carpaccio is one worth fantasising about. As is one that crescendos with a Josper-grilled rib-eye steak and Canary Island sea bass, and features a grand finale of a passionfruit-sauced Chantilly pavlova. Yum.
Basin, 3/F, Foco, 46-48 Cochrane Street, Central
DIM SUM LIBRARY
There’ll always be something ingenuous about breakfast for dinner. At Dim Sum Library, your childhood dreams will, for once, be massaged into reality with a dim sum breakfast served precisely for dinner this Christmas. From bamboo trays of XO-sauced King prawn dumplings to double-boiled chicken soup, steamed threadfin fish, many, many fish maw-infused dishes and, adorably, dessert snowman baos oozing with chestnut, it’s a guileless feast of a dream come true. And if your childhood dreams might rather have included receiving a Goldendoodle puppy under the baubled tree, well, would you perhaps settle for a Wagyu beef puff instead?
Dim Sum Library, Shop 124, Level 1, Pacific Place, Admiralty
Fireside’s open-flame modus operandi feels especially Dickensian, if only you’d keep your eyes shut tight and visualise, instead, the scent of roasted chestnuts and not, specifically, Alaskan king crab decadently buttered with a smoky brown-butter hollandaise; smoked Hokkaido scallop topped with Cristal caviar; freshly shaved black truffle atop Girolles mushrooms; signature Carabinero Flambadou; French pigeon; Butcher’s Cut Blackmore Wagyu M9+ striploin; La Viña cheesecake … the list of esculent indulgences go on. Dickens could, quite literally, never. But you most certainly can.
Fireside, 5/F, H Code, The Steps, 45 Pottinger Street, Central
Despite “family” etched into its very name, one-Michelin-star Hansik Goo – shikgoo is Korean for family – is much too delectably elevated to quite feel home-cooked, not unless your family consists of chefs Steve Lee and Mingoo Kang, in which case, lucky you. In lieu of festive familiars, the fine-dine Korean eatery’s festive fare headlines on the very best of wintry Korean flavours, like naengchae featuring Alaskan king crab, scallop, deodeok and pine nut dressing and a BBQ trio of tender hanwoo striploin, Korean pork and eel, as well as cold-weathered signatures abalone juk and samgye risotto.
Hansik Goo, 1/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan
If anything, Hutong’s panoramic vista of Hong Kong’s skyline all lit up with shiny, ever-changing colours in the outlined shapes of Santa, reindeer and wreaths is the full-on festive factor needed to make any meal deserving of a Christmas appointment. Especially if one’s father is the kind of man of the opinion that a meal is not a meal without a heaping bowl of rice. Especially if one’s family is particularly partial to the festivity condensed from black truffle-scented abalone; crispy lobster-and-scallop toast; pan-fried tiger prawns and every other posh Chinese dish you’ve ever seen spun on a Lazy Susan. The holidays are for an endless spin of decadence, after all.
Hutong, 18/F, H Zentre, 15 Middle Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Chef May Chow’s fluffy bao buns have undergone many a collaboration this year – its most recent with chef Manav Tuli of CHAAT a delicious success – but none with quite as much conviviality than its just-for-Christmas duck confit filling. Maybe it’s the cranberry jam, maybe it’s the secret spice blend, but if there’s a bite of bao in your festive future, make it a big, cheery one at Little Bao. And should the bao be a little too little, have yourself a merry little second, then some turkey croquettes, seasoned with traditional roasted turkey stuffing spices, and a PB&J gelato bao before bowing out.
Little Bao, 1-3 Shin Hing Street, Central
Here’s the thing about tradition: it has to start somewhere. And while Thai food isn’t the most indicative of the festivities, there’s no place as worthy of an inaugural tradition-to-be than at ZS Hospitality’s Plaa, with its own inaugural festive menu since opening this August. A one-of-a-kind dining experience, chef Richie Lin and chef Ian Kittichai’s seasonal programme spotlights the best-of-the-best in seafood, like Shima-aji Miang Kham, a twist on the Thai traditional snack with buttery shima-aji; Spanish red prawn with pomelo salad; and Gillardeau oysters with Tom Kha reduction and, just because it’s Christmas, a heaping mound of caviar.
Plaa, 2/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
Being raucously, unapologetically soused is practically a deity-given right come Christmastime. And where better to be truly rambunctious than at SOMM’s 90-minute free-flow brunch, superabundantly inclusive of Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Réserve Brut champagne, a sommeliers’ selection of sake, white wine, red wine, wine-based cocktails and, for the ruly, fresh juices? Not just a liquid diet, brunchtime revellers can also pre-game, game and post-game with wild duck and fois gras pâté en croute garnished with kumquat and pineapple relish, roasted Ping Yuen chicken with wild mushroom, shallot tartelette, black winter truffle and ragout jus … need we go on? Hydrate with H2O in-between courses, kids.
SOMM, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central
While Colonel Sanders’ overfilled basins of fried chicken are Japan’s customary Christmas meal of choice, you’d find no such breaded poultry at Landmark’s resident fine-dine izakaya. Rather, Zuma’s Diakoku tasting menu does not break what’s not broken with familiar favourites like miso black cod, Japanese Wagyu tataki with black truffle and an opulent selection of sushi and sashimi. And if sushi isn’t quite your cup of eggnog, capital-F festive can be found in the very last course: a lemon polenta cake garnished with rum raison, pistachio gelato and popcorn, courtesy of executive pastry chef Eddy Lee.
Zuma, Level 5 & 6, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central
This story first appeared here.