Cue the season of roasted chestnuts, giant turkeys and sweet pumpkin pies. No, it’s not early at all — better get those lists going. In the meantime, here are November’s new restaurant openings that are not holiday related what-so-ever. Phew!
You’re going to be having a lot of turkey this season. So before you jump head-first into endless turkey talk, remind yourself of this single peaceful moment before the holiday frenzy begins. For some, maybe it’s a day of pampering at the spa. Others, an indulgent seasonal menu featuring white truffle or hairy crab that’ll offer a boost of motivation. Better yet, take a stroll around town before weekend trips become last-minute grabs for pantry essentials. We’d suggest roaming around the Wan Chai neighbourhood — there’s some new names to explore.
Epicurean Group’s latest venture BÀRBAR is named after its two-in-one concept: a Spanish wine bar meets tapas bar, all rolled into a casual 50-seater venue in Wan Chai. Hoping to recreate the social dining culture of vibrant Spanish cities including Madrid and Barcelona, BÀRBAR is conceptualised by Spanish chef and culinary director Edgard Sanuy Barahona, also behind Sheung Wan’s popular Pica Pica, and helmed on-site by head chef Ronald N. Nelson. The sharing style menu features a range of ingredient-driven dishes that refer back to traditional tapas culture, while still reaching toward renewed renditions of its own. Take the classic street-food dish of Madrid squid bocadillo, where chef Sanuy swaps out the usual baguette for toasted brioche filled with crispy fried calamari rings and squid ink aioli. Also on the menu: Ibérico ham croquettes, Spanish suckling pig, padrón peppers and black paella among meatier mains finished off on the Spanish Josper Grill — charred deboned beef rib and fresh Spanish turbot.
BÀRBAR, Shop A, G/F, 9 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2910 0008
Starstreet Precinct is well-known for its diverse collection of ultra-hip boutiques and trendy bistros, and this month it welcomes another: Danji, a modern Korean concept founded by Jennifer Kim, also behind Seoul Recipe. Named after traditional earthenware pots used to ferment all kinds of Korean ingredient staples including makgeolli (Korean rice wine), kimchi and classic Korean sauces, Danji’s menu similarly looks towards an unpretentious, homey quality that reimagines popular Seoul street favourites. With Danji’s take, crispy kimchi pancake is reintroduced as buckwheat kimchi crepes and the popular kimchi fried rice is prepared with 1++ top grade Hanwoo Korean beef. Bibimbap comes in an “Impossible” rendition, topped with quinoa and tofu toppings, while all-time favourites including soy sauce marinated crab, fried chicken and galbi jjim, Korean braised beef short ribs, remain as best-selling signatures.
Danji, 7 Sun Street, Starstreet Precinct, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2623 9983
Trattoria Kagawa by Mihara
At first glance, Trattoria Kagawa by Mihara feels inherently Japanese, but the newly opened venture by Japanese master chef Terufumi Mihara — certified by the Osaka School of Culinary Arts — is the unique meeting of Japanese and Italian influence — a continuation of Mihara’s own journey being born in Kagawa, then beginning his career within Italian restaurants in Osaka. His third Hong Kong venture (first, Japanese-Mediterranean Kuraudo, and second, Teppanyaki Mihara) Trattoria Kagawa is a harmonious blend between Japanese “wa” with Italian comfort cooking through distinct dishes of teppanyaki, pasta and risotto. From sizzling hot teppan showpieces, including live Australian lobster and smoked Spanish Iberico pork, the thoughtfully curated menu trickles down into familiar serves of Japanese wagyu beef tagliata prepared with olive-fed Shodoshima wagyu; Mihara’s favourite uni carbonara; trippa alla Kagawa, slow-cooked tripe in a Japanese tomato sauce; and Risotto alla Milanese of Boston lobster and saffron sauce among others.
Trattoria Kagawa by Mihara , G/F, 18 Ship Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 5394 3690
Rêveri, translating to “dream”, is a soft, elegant space dedicated to casual fine-dining in Sheung Wan. Conceptualised by couple-turned-co-founders Jessica Kesumo and John Law, both with a firm footing within the hospitality and F&B scene, Rêveri blends Asian flavours with Western techniques in sophisticated new strides. The multi-course menu — served against a curated selection of fine wines and sakes — is a neat dedication to fusion-style serves with truffle brioche prepared with Japanese scallop and local-sourced vegetables, and a carabinero tart layered with foie gras mousse and yuzu sake jelly between bites of sweet red prawns. Elsewhere, butter poached lobster drizzled in a Shaoxing wine sabayon and seared Australian wagyu served with red fermented bean curd, are highlighted as soon-to-be signatures.
Rêveri, 20-24 Mercer Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 6778 7278
Nanhai No. 2
According to Chinese history, Admiral Zheng He was a well-respected fleet admiral from the Ming Dynasty who led seven expeditions during his career to expand trade routes and exploration beyond China. Back to present times and over at Hong Kong’s own Causeway Bau, Nanhai No. 2 is the latest addition to Elite Concepts Groups’s portfolio and is set to follow Zheng’s second expedition to exploring the extensive flavours around the South China Sea. Led by executive chef Chan Tak Sing, the menu at the cabin-designed dining room features an array of South Asian flavours prepared with local ingredients including poached Ping Yuen chicken, Negombo crab prepared Sri Lankan style, Malacca-style braised ox tail and beef shoulder and a series of Typhoon Shelter-style stir fry.
Nanhai No. 2, 12/F, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2435 3088
Named after the Italian word for “gold”, ORO is the ideation of Gian Franco Razzani, an Italian native from the southern Italian town of Abruzzo. It extends to a deeper meaning beyond the glamorous metallic shade, of hope and courage for previous emigrating ancestors that upheld Italian traditions in foreign lands. As such, the restaurant is the creative fusion between American, specifically Manhattan, and Italian cultures. The menu itself is a dedication to Italian culinary customs, while catering to the glitz and glamour of big city Manhattan. It includes Pallote Caco & Ovo, a pecorino twist on the comfort favourite meatballs; St. Jacques & Caviale Osietra, scallops topped with premium Osietra caviar; Fusilli Alla Bava di Taleggio E Tartufo Nero, a similarly mouthful of beloved mac and cheese and table-side flambé penne with vodka; and to finish, Baked Alaska, in traditional Zuppa Inglese style and soaked with Tuscany Alchermes liqueur.
ORO, 30/F, 28 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2133 7517
Just one level above ORO is Top Town, an American-style seafood bar also ideated by Gian Franco Razzani. If ORO was the swanky dining room of a posh Manhattan sky rise, Top Town, then, is the exclusive roof top overlooking the dazzling cityscape. In a similar strive for glitz and glamour, the indoor-outdoor space is dressed in intricate art-deco glamour, one that references a 1920s-era Jay Gatsby mansion. Expect theatrics and show-stopping extravagance from the menu, from stunning seafood platters of king prawns, Boston lobster, crab legs and oysters to a Italian Antipasti Tower topped with salami, mortadella, cheese and pickles, and a meaty Surf and Turf menu starring black Angus tenderloin.
Top Town, 31/F, 28 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2133 5769