Spring is all about new beginnings — a fitting theme at iconic Hong Kong restaurant, Old Bazaar Kitchen. After closing in early 2016 when chef Billy Chung announced his retirement, much to the dismay of his loyal customers — a mix of locals and foreigners, celebrities, visiting dignitaries and businessman alike — the restaurant thankfully reopened again not more than a year later, taking over a shiny new space on Wan Chai’s Cross Lane. The new Old Bazaar Kitchen is backed by prominent restaurant group Lai Sun Dining, and Chung is back as Executive Chef and Partner.
Bringing to the table a mix of signature dishes and new creations, the chef has continued to cement Old Bazaar Kitchen as one of Hong Kong’s most beloved dining institutions, serving a quirky mix of Chinese and Southeast Asian-inspired dishes. As the season turns to spring, Chung has created several new mouthwatering dishes on the menu at Old Bazaar, merging various Asian cuisines together in an effort to reflect the diverse melting pot of Hong Kong. Taking inspiration from classic dishes and preparations and adding his own creative twists, Chung’s new spring menu is a breath of fresh air.
Start your meal at Old Bazaar Kitchen with the Fujian-style bak kut teh (HK$488, serves 4), a warming soup rife with medicinal and aromatic herbs. Then dig into the family-style curry king crab (market price), Hainan chicken with herb-stewed rice casserole (HK$588), and salt-baked lamb rack (HK$490) with a crisp outer crust, and tender, juicy meat. The feast continues with Eight Treasure Duck (HK$880), a labour-intensive dish that’s traditionally been the centrepiece of festive Chinese meals. The duck is braised and stuffed chock full of eight premium ingredients: chestnuts, lotus seeds, dried scallops, salted egg yolk, Chinese ham, green bean paste, semen coicis and dried mushrooms. Chung’s version is hard to beat, the duck falling tenderly off the bone after several hours of braising.
If poultry is more up your alley, don’t miss the soy sauce chicken (HK$528), infused with rose petals for a slightly sweet and floral note. Chung insists on the dish being made with only fresh chickens, which is why it’s only available in a limited supply (make sure to book in advance). For seafood lovers, another highlight is the yellow and white curry with grouper filet (HK$288), a popular Chinese-style fish recipe tinged with influences from Southeast Asia. Finally, dinner ends with the gut-busting claypot rice with Chinese sausages (HK$588), another all-time favourite dish studded with bits of sausage and salted pork ribs. For a sweet note, Chung has created a delicate dessert inspired by the flavours of spring: a decadent lychee ice cream sandwich (HK$55 per piece), which is perfect washed down with a smooth cup of classic Hong Kong-style milk tea.
Old Bazaar Kitchen has always been loved for its honest, home-style dishes, backed by Chung’s generous spirit in the kitchen and inventive style of cooking. Rooted in comfort food with a sophisticated spin, Chung’s dishes are best enjoyed with a group of friends, as you settle in to the cosy, plush dining room lined with nostalgic scenes of old Hong Kong. Chances are, you won’t be disappointed with this Hong Kong institution.