Hong Kong Restaurants: Insider Picks
Danny Yip’s minimalist NoHo spot opened in 2009 to much buzz because of its commitment to using local, organic, sustainable ingredients—still novel among Cantonese restaurants. The signature Chairman’s Soy Sauce chicken, for instance, is prepared with free-range poultry and artisanal soy sauce from Kowloon Soy Sauce Garden; pork belly, used in stir-fries and fried rice dishes, is house-cured using meat from nearby farms. thechairmangroup.com
Private supper clubs, vastly popular in Hong Kong, usually serve homespun Sichuan and Cantonese food. But Liberty Private Works elevated the genre in 2009 by preparing ambitious tasting menus. Daniel Boulud-trained chef Vicky Cheng cooks the 10-course, Japanese-inflected French meals, which might include farmed big-eye tuna with house-made espelette pepper mayo, puffed sushi rice (dehydrated, then fried) and sea urchin. With only 26 stools around an open kitchen and two seatings a night, it is one of the toughest reservations in town. libertypw.com
Vietnamese-American chef Que Vinh Dang’s restaurant has a speakeasy vibe; diners only get the door code needed to enter its unmarked entrance after making a reservation. Inside the stark space, Dang cooks in an open kitchen surrounded by 12 seats, preparing six-course menus that change every month but often incorporate American comfort food and haute ingredients. One recent combo: a tomato-basil alphabet soup with wagyu beef Sloppy Joe. tbls-kitchenstudio.com
Canadian chef Matt Abergel left high-end sushi spot Masa in New York City to open this 50-seat yakitori joint that serves nearly every part of the chicken—from thigh and wing to neck, liver, heart and tail. Among his ingenious sides is the KFC: crisp Korean-fried cauliflower seasoned with yuzu and chile. yardbirdrestaurant.com
Hong Kong Restaurants: Splurge
This restaurant at the Four Seasons Hong Kong is one of the city’s most dazzling, adorned with colossal crystal chandeliers, dark red banquettes and floor-to-ceiling views of Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon Peninsula. Chef Vincent Thierry and his kitchen staff of 25 work in an open kitchen, creating contemporary dishes with clever, multiethnic components, like the Brittany lobster with sweet potato, kumquat marmalade and tagliarini in a sauce flavored with Thai black tea. The massive cheese table, arguably the city’s best, is stocked each night with dozens of rare selections from the restaurant’s temperature- and humidity-controlled cave. fourseasons.com
The legendary Gray Kunz made his name in Hong Kong in the 1980s before dazzling New Yorkers with his Asian-fusion cuisine at Lespinasse. He returned to Hong Kong in 2009 with Café Gray Deluxe, where he serves three meals a day on the 49th-floor of the Upper House Hotel, with panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. Kunz continues to mix Eastern ingredients with classic French techniques in beautiful dishes such as pan-seared diver scallops with a Penang curry sauce and hints of kaffir lime and a steamed sea bass in a ginger bouillon. cafegrayhk.com
Bergamo native Umberto Bombana made his name at the now-shuttered Toscana at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. Now Hong Kong-ers looking for a taste of his opulent northern Italian food head over to this glamorous restaurant, which was awarded two Michelin stars soon after it opened in 2010. Bombana has a penchant for expensive ingredients (lots of white truffle, lots of lobster), but his most famed dish is a delicious composition of decidedly simple ingredients: house-made ravioli filled with creamy burrata and served in an eggplant and olive sauce. ottoemezzobombana.com
At this beautiful, Adam Tihany-designed restaurant at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, a dramatic chandelier of 4,320 bronze rods is suspended from the double-height ceiling. Richard Ekkebus (who trained under Pierre Gagnaire in Paris and earned two Michelin stars here) uses Asian ingredients for his contemporary French menu; prized sea urchin from Hokkaido, an island in northern Japan, come in a lobster “Jell-O” with cauliflower mousse, topped with caviar and served with a side of crispy seaweed waffles. amberhongkong.com
At this minimalist, white-tablecloth restaurant in on the 38th floor of the Hotel Panorama in Kowloon, young American chef Mike Boyle, who cooked under Thomas Keller at Bouchon in Las Vegas, presents each of his dishes with showy spectacle: His smoked Atlantic salmon comes with a side of goat cheese “snow”; a layered lobster, crab and avocado salad arrives in a globe of ice; and desserts like the rosewater-and-raspberry ice cream are prepared tableside with liquid nitrogen. hotelpanorama.com.hk
Among the newest Michelin one-star restaurants in Hong Kong, Tin Lung Heen at the Ritz-Carlton has one of the most dramatic dining rooms in the world—soaring floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Tsing Ma Bridge and Ma Wan Channel from the 102nd floor. Chef Paul Lau’s rarefied renditions of Cantonese dishes include pork-and-shrimp dumplings with caviar and black pepper and wagyu beef potstickers. ritzcarlton.com
Hong Kong Restaurants: Classic
Once only known by a select group of serious foodies, one of Hong Kong’s most famed private supper clubs (known as “private kitchens”) is now accessible to anyone with the phone number—though the door is still unmarked. Husband-and-wife team Wang Hai and Wong Xiaoqiong serve 12-course set menus of classic Sichuan dishes like jellyfish in spicy chile oil, Ma Po tofu and Sichuan dumplings. They make no concessions for the uninitiated: Dishes are as fiery as ever. An unexpected touch: Xiaoqiong comes out of the kitchen at the end of each evening to sing Chinese opera.
Hong Kong Restaurants: Best Value
Before Fukuoka-native Ikuta Satoshi opened this 15-seat ramen spot for owners Meter Chen and Chandler Tang, he built the beloved noodle chain Nagi Ramen in Japan. Here, diners create their own ramen, choosing the type of broth (classic, porky tonkatsu, saline squid ink), toppings (soft-boiled egg, seaweed, minced garlic) and even dictating how they would like their noodles cooked. The shop only serves a few hundred bowls a day, and customers begin lining up mid-morning. butaoramen.com
This nondescript-looking dim sum parlor is the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Dim sum master Mak Pui Gor used to work at the Four Seasons’ Lung King Heen; now with his own place, he serves his exquisite versions of traditional dim sum—crisp, crumbly char siu bao (fragrant bread stuffed with rich pork); superdelicate rice rolls filled with shrimp; steamed chicken feet glistening with black bean sauce—for about $2 a basket. Expect lines of an hour or more.
Central’s Wellington Street is known for having two terrific Hong Kong Cantonese noodle houses practically across the road from each other: Mak’s and Tsim Chai Kee. While traditionalists swear by Mak’s, the latter holds the edge with its firmer, larger wontons; chewier noodles; superflavorful, slightly sweeter broth; and excellent beef brisket.
Brew-obsessed locals know and love Felix Wong: He founded Cafe Corridor, one of Hong Kong’s first independent coffee houses, way back in 2001 in a windowless space just across from Times Square. A slew of serious cafés have opened in recent years, but Wong’s original spot, as well as his two others (Caffè Essenza in the lobby of One Landmark East and the bright, charming Coffee Assembly in SoHo) still serve some of the city’s best espresso drinks. It’s all thanks to Wong, who imports, roasts and grinds his own beans. coffeeassembly.com
Hong Kong Bars
Mixologist Masayuki Uchida, formerly at Oriental Sake Bar Yu-Zen, has struck out on his own with this dark, handsome bar in Kowloon. Always clad in a spotless white dinner jacket and black bow tie, he meticulously mixes cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and pours them over hand-chipped ice in Baccarat crystal glasses. Butler’s 200-plus liquor collection includes rare whiskeys from Japan and Scotland as well as more esoteric bottles like perilla liqueur.
If this two-floor bar and restaurant conjures up early-20th-century New York—or at least a stylized 21st-century interpretation of it—that’s because it was designed by AvroKO, a New York City design firm renowned for making historical references. The upstairs bar (Lily) serves classic cocktails along with upscale pub food, like a burger with truffle mayo. The more ambitious downstairs restaurant (Bloom) offers a mix of intensely flavored dishes, including Iberico pork chips with smoked ribs and foie gras flan. lily-bloom.com