Sick of uninspiring desk lunches? Brighten up your week with Dej, the new upscale takeaway lunch option from Michelin-starred Akrame. Then, make plans for an all-Spanish brunch fiesta at Central institution Olé. Finally, book yourself and your dinner date in for a rustic Italian feast at East TST favourite, Sabatini. Here are this week’s best new eats.
Sabatini turns 25 at Royal Garden
Surviving 25 years in Hong Kong’s dining scene is no small feat — especially when you’re nestled away in East TST, where there’s little foot traffic outside of local residents and tourists seeking a respite from bustling Hong Kong Island. Nonetheless, Sabatini continues to shine as one of the city’s finest Italian restaurants, presenting its slice of authentic Italian fare punctuated by a cosy ambience and a roving live band. As it enters its next chapter, the restaurant is welcoming a new chef de cuisine onboard, Claudio Favero, to breathe new life into the Hong Kong institution. With a career spanning 18 years, Favero’s career has taken him from one Michelin-starred kitchen to the next across Italy and Spain; most recently, he worked as chef de cuisine at Casa Don Alfonso in Macau.
At Sabatini, Favero draws on his international experience while sticking true to the restaurant’s ethos of hearty, homespun Italian cooking. At a recent visit, we enjoyed Favero’s debut 6-course menu, marked by fresh arrangements such as smoked kingfish encircled by zucchini slices and briny caviar, and crispy baby pork nestled against eggplant puree with a zesty Pommery mustard sauce. Our favourite dish by far, however, was the spaghetti with crab meat and sea urchin: Here, chef Favero continues Sabatini’s tradition of excellent handmade pasta by creating his own version of al dente spaghetti twirled around a luxurious, ocean-inspired sauce of fresh crab meat and creamy sea urchin.
Sabatini Ristorante Italiano, 3/F, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong, +852 2733 2000
A desk lunch makeover with Dej
Say goodbye to the #saddesklunch: Short for dejeuner, the French word for “lunch”, Dej is the newest takeaway option designed to give your midday meal a high-minded makeover. The new offering comes courtesy of chef Akrame Benallal from Michelin-starred Akrame, who’s crafted an upscale array of seasonally-inspired lunches delivered straight from the kitchen of Akrame to your office.
Focusing on soups, salads, sandwiches and protein-heavy mains, the fresh, vibrant menu is infused with ingredients given a premium twist: Think curry carrot soup (HK$60), which elevates humdrum soup with a dollop of hazelnut butter; colourful quinoa ceviche (HK$80), a refreshing combo of whole grains with ocean-fresh sea bream, pops of pomegranate seeds and ripe avocado; and tropical caesar salad (HK$80), remade with smoked chicken and fresh pineapple. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous lunchtime sandwich also receives a Michelin-worthy makeover: We’re digging the licorice salmon ciabatta (HK$80), with fresh fish in an herbaceous vinaigrette; and the mustard beef baguette (HK$80, pictured above), with tender beef slices smeared with spicy mustard and topped with fresh kale in a freshly baked baguette.
Say Olé! to a new Spanish-style brunch
Do plates of flash-fried padrón peppers, sautéed chorizo, and cod-stuffed piquillo peppers sound right up your alley? While Hong Kong’s champagne brunches abound, we’re trading the French bubbly for sparkling Spanish cava this month at Olé’s indulgent new tapas brunch. Celebrating the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, Olé is throwing a party with a generous brunch offering featuring 20 of the restaurant’s all-time favourite dishes, from crispy roast suckling pig to baby lamp chops and bite-sized portions of grilled octopus with paprika aioli and potato.
At HK$380 per person, the brunch deal kicks off with welcome bites, seven starters to share including baby squid in ink sauce and sizzling “gambas al ajillo” shrimp, followed by your choice of main from classic Spanish seafood or squid ink paella, to crispy Segovia-style suckling pig, baby lamp chops “a la parilla“, and more. Vegetarians will also have plenty to celebrate with the vegetable mousseline, stuffed with sweet roasted eggplant, earthy mushrooms and peppers. Wash it all down with all-you-can-drink cava, sangria and Spanish-inspired cocktails (plus HK$180 for 2-hours free-flow), then top off the spread with the excellent crispy churros with chocolate sauce, and traditional “leche frita” fried milk with a sticky toffee reduction.
Olé, 1/F, Shun Ho Tower, 24-30 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2537 8856