Here we are, nearing the end of warm summer days. Hello, August. Between soaking up the last rays of the summer sun and pulling out cosy knits and passed-down recipes for comforting soup and stews to make way for a snug September, take time to savour the remaining lighter and brighter flavours of summer.
When it comes to Japanese cuisine in Hong Kong, there’s always one sushi bar, ramen joint and yakitori grill too many to pick from. A pin-point on Okinawan cuisine however, probably not so much. But now there’s Awa Awa, freshly opened by Elliot Faber and the Sake Central team on Peel Street. The namesake is a playful tease of the beverage, Awamori, ‘awa’ being the bubbly foam produced during the fermentation process. On a wider scope, it gestures towards the city’s culture and the buzzy atmosphere in neighbourhood izakayas. Expect a bold mash-up of various flavours, or as Awa Awa puts it, “island cultures from the Caribbean to Cuba, Taiwan to Japan’s mainland with a little bit of American influence”, with dishes like grilled tiger prawns, Kakiage (a tempura type that deep-fry together mozuku seaweed, shrimp, squid, onion and carrot) and what we hear is a “life-changing” Taco Rice. Drinkwise, the gastropub offers a prolific selection of sakes, cocktails and spirits.
Awa Awa, Shop E&F, Upper Ground Floor, 42 & 44 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong
There’s nothing odd about Odds. In fact it’s an interesting concept ideated by Lubuds; symbolically named as a reminder of the restaurant’s unwavering endurance of “beating the odds’ during the Difficult Time™ this past year-and-counting. It brings together all facets of Japanese cuisine, from omakase to teppenyaki, yakitori, bar and café, with a menu curated and helmed by the group’s portfolio of Japanese chefs: Washoku executive chef Kam Wah Au Yeung, executive sushi chef Kwok Cheong Ng and executive sushi sous chef Hiu Fai Siu. As you can guess, Odds is a well-lit, five-star stage for inspired Japanese fine-dining from smoked fatty tuna, Kyoto-style grilled sea perch, wagyu sando and crispy chicken skin donburi — all made with fresh produce flown in daily.
Odds, Shop G2, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2891 3988
If it wasn’t already crystal clear, Carbs at H Code is the latest destination dedicated to the best kind of starch-heavy serves: American-style pizza. In particular, the deep-dish pies of Detroit and Chicago. Among heralded classics — Spicy Pepperoni and Hawaiian — Carbs also fires up novelty specials like The Notorious P.I.G. and The Supreme Square, which happens to be founder Wil Fang’s preferred slice, sprinkled with his personal favourite toppings: pepperoni, mushrooms, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. Chewy dough, bubbling tomato sauce and gooey melted cheese — most certainly the three best friends that anyone could ever ask for.
Carbs, Unit 3, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2886 2801
RadicalChic, with its newly minted, art-gallery adjacent interiors, 101 floors up at the International Commerce Centre (ICC), is out to break the boundaries of traditional Italian cuisine, starting with a very unconventional namesake. This ambitious “refined and radical” renewal is led by executive chef Andrea Tarini, who honed his culinary talents under renowned chefs including Mauro Uliassi and Heinz Beck. Poised to “revolutionise” Italian comforts, the restaurant is currently serving tasting menus for dinner and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday with the likes of deep-fried frog legs, Cappello del prete alla carbonara — a renewed edition of creamy carbonara made with Cappelletti (Priest’s Hat pasta) — and an A5 Omi wagyu glazes in a homemade Italian-style “barbecue sauce” made of balsamic vinegar, red onions and red peppers.
RadicalChic, Shop B1, Level 101, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Ami stands as one of those examples that fine-dining and causal-dining can, in fact, exist within the same sentence. The latest addition to Gourmet Dining Group (consisting of ÈPURE and Arbor), the exquisitely designed restaurant is anchored on French fine-dining within a friendly atmosphere, categorising itself under “bistronomie”, a seamless blend between “bistro” and “gastronomy”. An renewed experience conceptualised by executive chef Nicolas Boutin and chef de cuisine Eric Taluy, Ami consists of two dining styles: a Parisian-inspired all-day dining menu spotlighted by high-brow bar snacks, which involves one “top-notch” croque monsieur, “delightful” French fries and a Heritage beef croque burger. The second is an exclusive ‘Chef’s Inspiration’ tasting menu set to change in ingredients and presentation every month, doubling as a creative outlet for the reputable chefs. Post meal, don’t forget to pop over to the adjoining whisky bar, Wood Ear, for an after-meal tipple.
Ami, Shop 302, Alexandra House, Landmark, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3185 8396
Boy n Burger
Never say no to a stacked juicy burger — that’s a rule! Especially when it makes claims to be a “better burger for everyone” entirely. Sounds oxymoronic right? But Boy n Burger makes a honest commitment towards sustainability with quality-checked produce — meat, dairy and seafood, entirely traceable with veggies all sourced from local farms. Not to mention the burgers are also very tasty. For now, there’s the signature Bobby Burger with two of the 20-day salt moss-aged, hand-crafted beef patties sandwiched between a classic combo of fresh onions, tomatoes and lettuces. Skinny fries, tater tots and green apple slaw join the party as very worthy sidekicks. And what would a burger shop be without the unlimited self-serve soda fountain?
Boy n Burger, G/F, Shop 3, 208 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3686 0928
G Room Bar & Lounge
A tapas bar that’s not just a tapas bar. Gaia Group’s G Room is an elevated Western-Asian tapas experience housed within a multi-faceted venue that does it all. Familiar sharing-style platters are recreated in a distinct South East Asian twist, with the likes of whole lobster ‘paella’, tweaked with Asian-style fried rice and Iberico ham or the sea urchin pasta made with abalone and shisho peppers. While the space is decked out with 360ᐤ cinematic screens of custom-rendered vistas backed by live music and entertainment. And of course, the large pitches of delicious sangria — from classic red all the way to moscatos and rum — are not to be missed.
G Room Bar & Lounge, Shop 504, 5/F, K11 Musea, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2332 6662
The blue-tinted wall murals at Yokai, Central’s newest yakitori venue, may seem familiar at first glance. It’s a recreation of the popular pages from Yokai Picture Book (the likes of Kasa-obake (唐傘小僧) or Hitouban (飛頭蛮) ) by renowned manga artist Shigeru Mizuki. For the food, charcoal-grilled skewers that highlight every part of the bird prepared by Kyushu-based chef Okuma Hirofumi are the restaurant’s mainstay and feature various breeds from Kagoshima Satsuma Akadori, Saga Mitsuse and Hong Kong Yellow Chicken. Another said-to-be signature of the immersive spot, bluefin tuna prepared by the prestigious chefs over at Sushi Saito and served in the simple all-time comfort: donburi rice bowls.
Yokai, 23/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2368 8331
The small and cosy venue of Sushi Mamoru by Leading Nation in Wan Chai — with only 12 seats every sitting — is tasked with a grand commitment: to safeguard centuries-old traditions of edomae sushi. And with enlisted chef Hirofumi Chiba, a third-generation sushi master, at its helm, its an easily feasible task. Each component of the 20-serve omakase menu (with a shorter option for lunch) is arranged with precise perfection; from the hand-blended aged Hokkaido rice to the small dollop of wasabi sourced from famed Shizuoka farmer, Keiichi Tashiro, and chef’s selective choosing of only line-caught fish (Chef Chiba says it’s more sustainable) depending on the daily catch.
Sushi Mamoru, G/F, 32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2133 5700
Ministry of Mussels
A sports bar that’s fit for everyone: 11 massive HDTV screens looping the latest games! A padded ball pit for little ones! Beer pong for good friends! Ministry of Mussels, taking over the third floor at California Tower, is the place to be for all future family-day-outs on weekends. On top of it all, a hearty, homey menu by executive chef Dee Kwok, with inventive American bistro favourites in all-time comforting flavours. The most telling, of course, are the specialty mussels, available via the ‘Around the World Mussels’ menu and features the signature blue mussels simmering in ten types of broth — we recommend the Singapore Chilli Crab Mussels. Another favourite? The ‘Spread Your Wings and Fry’; classic chicken wings served with a rainbow range of saucy dips.
Ministry of Mussels, 3/F, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2838 4588
The third addition to Shane Osborn’s The Arcane Collective is Moxie, a new all-day dining venue in Landmark dedicated to mindful, conscious eating. Imbued with the same values of its sister spots in the portfolio — Arcane and Cornerstone — Moxie is all about ingredient-focused, unpretentious plates that are socially and environmentally aware. The restaurant will be led by Arcane veteran Michel Smith and opens with a veggie-centric menu of locally sourced and regionally supplied produce. The aim at Moxie is a simple one: “to offer delicious yet simple food, reflective of the dynamic and cosmopolitan nature of Hong Kong.”
Moxie, Shop 203, 2/F, Alexandra House, Landmark, 18 Chater Road, Central, Hong Kong
Joining the ranks of Hong Kong’s ever-growing Italian food scene is Giacomo, located on ground level of Crowne Plaza in Causeway Bay. The take on Italian plates at this neo-classical spot concentrates on elegant and refined Southern Italian serves — think refreshing, light and bright flavours. Led by executive chef Keith Yam, previously of 8 ¹⁄₂ Otto e Mezzo Bombana and Ritz Carlton Hong Kong’s Tosca di Angeló, the menu is an archetypal lot of of high-quality, globally sourced ingredients, from marinated red prawns in the ‘Gambero Rossi’ to langoustine with Japanese matsutake mushrooms and Aveyron lamb saddle in a winter black truffle sauce.
Giacomo, G/F, Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Causeway Bay, 8 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 3980 3008
Beholding a much optimistic foresight, Quiero Más, translating to an excited proclamation of ‘I want more!’, is hopefully the reaction after your first visit. Carving out its culinary niche in “Mod-Med” (Modern-Mediterranean) fare, or for us amateurs, it’s a lean towards authentic Spanish plates influenced by various locales that make up Southern Europe cuisine as a whole — buzzing tapas bars, quaint village trattorias and backstreet tavernas. Quiero Más melds together the old and new for renewed takes on the cuisine, with traditional recipes prepared in modern, contemporary methods. Led by chef Alex Fargas, previously of La Paloma, expect dishes like Barcelona-style paella and a checked soon-to-be signature, Lobster a la Louie, a whole Boston Lobster set in a creamy Vichyssoise purée bath.
Quiero Más, 20/F, M88, Wellington Place, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2383 0268
Don’t enter 1908BC with the expectation of Cantonese classics. Instead it’s the particularly niche brand of British-Chinese takeaway food that define this contemporary joint. Conceptualised by Suzanna Ho, who was inspired by her own family-run eateries back in Bristol, 1908BC’s menu is a list of creature comforts that currently residing Brits will no doubt will be nostalgically familiar with: crispy aromatic shredded duck, chop suey and deep-fried chicken balls in sweet and sour sauce. Sure enough, 1908BC’s serves up their own take on the unmistakable ‘Chip Shop Curry’, the crown jewel of any British takeaway.
1908BC, 5/F, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2116 4668
Header image courtesy of Burger n Boy.