It’s looking like a busy July, foodwise.
We’ve now arrived at the midst of Hong Kong summers (although weathers have already been at scorching mid-30’s since the beginning of June). It’s too hot for a picnic, too humid for a hike, too unpredictable for a full day committed to the outdoors. The best alternative is a trip around town sampling what the latest newcomers have to offer. Authentic Italian pastries? Check. A new Japanese spot? If that’s anything from a tasty musubi to izakaya sharing places and grilled yakitori skewers? Done, done and also done. Bring only a hungry appetite and a group of fun friends to these new restaurants in Hong Kong.
Stunning light wood tones, plush pink banquettes and sleek stylised bulbs set the scene at Margo, the new modern European brasserie from Leading Nation (the group also behind Elephant Grounds and The Diplomat) just opened on Central’s Ice House Street. Helmed by chef de cuisine Mario Paecke, previously at Somm and Amber, the intimate eatery gravitates towards European plates with distinct German influence — the birthplace of chef Mario and his culinary journey beginnings. Serving on the bistro-style menu, a modern take on Berlin’s currywurst and the showcase of the region’s traditional serve, Königsberger Klopse, veal meatballs sidled against Norwegian Langoustine in a bed of creamy caper sauce.
Spare a moment for the conjoining martini bar, Kyle & Bain, in the mezzanine level above, where a lift of a particular wine bottle will gain you access. Go for Just Grapes or an easy Gimlet.
Margo, Shop 6, 9 Queen’s Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2130 7731
The first thing to know about Censu, beyond its Japanese cuisine, is its moniker. A phonetic play on the Japanese word ‘Sensu’ (扇子), for ‘folding fan’, the restaurant’s works upon a multi-faceted concept centred on lifestyle and senses, each a different leaf of the Censu fan. At its helm is chef Shun Sato, previously of Fukuro, Ho Lee Fook and Belon, and his rota of exceptional plates inspired by his father’s izakaya-style cooking and own prolific experience in Michelin-grade establishments. Nostalgic home-style dishes include the Unigiri, a risotto-style onigiri prepared with abalone dashi and a blanket of jet-fresh uni; and the Zucchini Flower Tempura of deep-fried Dutch zucchini filled with creamy scallop prawn mousse and truffle purée. Along the beautifully rustic plates, soak in the soothing ambience of Censu’s wabi-sabi interiors with a gentle hum from the backtracking eclectic Japanese indie rock playlist.
Censu, 28-30 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2997 7009
You’re likely familiar with the Hawaiian original spam-musubi; a delicious midday pick-me-up that evolved from the Japanese onigiri with golden-fried spam encased in a hefty layer of rice and wrapped with a crisp seaweed shell. That’s the basis of Musubi Hiro, a new izakaya-inspired gastropub by Arturo Sims tucked on the ground level on Cochrane Street. Except it’s not just the spam-seaweed combo here, but an extensive menu of up to ten made-to-order musubi variations — veggies included! — with some even an imaginative creation of unique Hong Kong flavours.
Musubi Hiro, G/F, 37 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 5597 6911
Pane e Latte
Your weekend itinerary might include a day trip to seafront Stanley, especially now with the opening of Pane e Latte, the latest in Pirata Group’s portfolio. An authentic Italian panificio, the all-day café specialises in delicious breads and pastries, made to be savoured on long lazy days with a beautiful cup of brewed coffee. Chocolate-filled croissants. Herb-crusted foccacia. The Pane e Latte signature bomboloni, a pillow soft, cream-centred Italian doughnut. Continue through in the evenings with an aperitivo and again, another a tasty pastry of choice.
Pane e Latte, G/F, U-c Court, 25 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, Hong Kong
Your expectation of Indian cuisine should extend further than the average butter chicken, samosa and biryanis, and with the arrival of Bengal Brothers, it just might. Ideated by first-time partners Tanvir Bhasin and Vidur Yadav, previously at New Punjab Club and Rajasthan Rifles, the colourful grab-and-go Wan Chai eatery specialises in Indian street snacks with crowd-favourites, Bengal-origin Kati Rolls as its main serve. An Indian-style wrap with chargrilled meats and veggies stuffed and rolled within flaky, house-made paratha flatbread and finished with a drizzling of the signature chutneys and spice blends. Delicious. Also available are the ‘First-Class’ bowls inspired by flavours of various regions in India with lassis for drinks, and other lighter bites –gunpowder fries among the most anticipated.
Bengal Brothers, 6 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Something about the Nepalese word for these steamed-and-wrapped dumplings — momo — is so befitting to the small, plump packages. So adorable. There’s now two new locations in the city wholly dedicated to this delicious one-bite packages courtesy of Momoz, the latest concept from new restaurant group Cygnus Concept. A love letter to the many possibilities of the Nepalese comfort, the menu varies from the classic and original chicken and veggie filling to more creative serves including one with char siu and another, fried with a katsu chicken curry centre. And despite its name, Momoz also serves up paratha rolls, inspired by the classic dishes of various countries; char siu for Hong Kong, prawn cocktail for the United States.
Momoz, Shop No.3, G/F, Lee Wai Commercial Building, 1&3 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tokyo Chikara Meshi
Here’s an easy option if you ever find yourself starving while wandering round the streets of Mong Kong: Tokyo Chikara Meshi from Japan, self-proclaimed as the “originator of grilled beef bowls”. The concept here is sweet, simple and delicious; thinly grilled beef or pork (sometimes glazed in barbecue sauce) are layered over bowls of rice in a traditional Japanese donburi construction. There’s over 35 options here, some embedded with creamy cubes of melted cheese, others with salt, extra large bowls and mix-and-match meal sets.The signature, though, is the beef bowl mixed in with a secret, soy-based sauce — even better enjoyed when swirled in with the creamy onsen tamago.
Tokyo Chikara Meshi, Shop G8, G/F, The Forest, 17 Nelson Street, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
A new culinary fusion to add to the city’s already rich portfolio: Pazzi Isshokenmei, a fuse between Japanese izakaya traditions with Italian culinary flavours. It’s name, also a blend between both cuisines, is evidence of the experimental concept — ‘Pazzi’ to mean ‘mad’ in Italian, while ‘Isshokenmei’, an action imbued with tradition in Japanese. In a more tangible sense, the menu at the new H Queen’s residence is a colourful, innovative selection; spy the likes of Miso Crab Tagliolini, where ribbons of tagliolini are swirled in a rich Japanese crabmeat and miso sauce, or the Aioli Soba, a Pazzi Isshokenmei take on the original Spaghetti aglio e olio from Naples with soba noodles tossed in togarashi spice, chilli and garlic chips. The shining star of the menu, however, is the Tanoshii Cake, a three-layer celebration of Hokkaido specials: sea-fresh toro, uni and caviar.
Look out for the venue’s invite-only cocktail bar which will serve a curated selection of boozy beverages upon a cigar and shisha patio, slated to open its doors in August.
Pazzi Isshokenmei, 2/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2555 0666
Don’t count on easily finding Bentori in the bustling streets of Central. No, the Japanese yakitori hideaway is sold firstly for its hard-to-find spot on Tit Hong Lane, to which founder Regan Yeung described it with a “secret vibe” that’s akin to “treasure hunting”. And treasures are exactly what you’ll find at Bentori; delicious, chargrilled ones. Everything on the yakitori menu is sourced from local markets, from the various chicken parts (inclusive of anything from thigh to hearts and chicken breast soft-bone) to a fresh selection of veggies. There’s also a decadent foie gras rice and pollack roe udon for something off the grill. For tipples, a Bentori house sake that arrives in a collectable glass flask, and a quartet of refreshing sake-spiked and citrus fruits-infused cocktails for warm summer evenings.
Bentori, G/F, 10 Tit Hong Lane, Central, Hong Kong
Beloved Sapporo izakaya, Jyungin, has made its first debut in Hong Kong. The Japanese outpost is well-known and loved not only for its extensive sake curation but delectable izakaya sharing-style plates. Much of the flagship signatures makes the move, including the intimate, cosy ambience of traditional izakayas. Not-to-be-missed at the casual venue: Ezo Venison Deer Meat patty, served as a burger at Jyungin in two popular condiments — yuzu perilla with grated daikon or miso with grilled eggplants. Another would be the Kuroge Wagyu Beef Offal that is stewed for over 24 hours in a rich miso sauce. However, Jyungin’s infamous creation. comes down to the humble okonomiyaki pancakes, smeared in mayo and tangy okonomiyaki sauce. Choose from a choice of either pork, beef or seafood, or an interesting choice of cheese mochi. As for drinks, any glass of the extensive wines and rare Japanese sakes will be worthy pair to the meal.
Jyungin, G/F, 33 Man Ying Street, Ferry Point, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2816 1278
Header image courtesy of Margo