Those who managed to get away this summer have some new restaurants to discover and some new menus to try. After eating our way from Aberdeen to Happy Valley and Central to TST, here are our tasting reviews.
BIANCO & ROSSO
Hong Kong’s first House of Vermouth, Bianco & Rosso, has opened its doors, adding yet another trendy destination to the vibey yet low-key Gough Street. Channelling the atmosphere of the small bodegas found alongside the cycling routes going through Italy, Spain and France, the restaurant-bar offers spirit-forward cocktails, fortified wines and small sharing plates with Mediterranean flavours. We particularly loved the Polmard beef tartare with capers and confit egg yolk, with the gaufrette chips adding the perfect salty crunch. The Pacific yellowtail crudo’s freshness was balanced out with a touch of acidity and black truffle caviar that helped us transition into the artisanal ricotta ravioli with seasonal mushrooms and black truffle. The “Pain Perdu” citrus cream, brown butter ice cream and caramel was particularly memorable, as was the Apfel Strudel cocktail, which is aptly described as “liquid apple tart.”
Bianco & Rosso, 29 Gough St, Central; +852 2813 1669
JADE | THE FULLERTON HOTEL OCEAN PARK HONG KONG
For a change of scenery, the newly-opened Fullerton Hotel provides a great city-escape. The resort oasis offers several dining options, experiences for the whole family and is conveniently located next to Ocean Park and Water World. Popular amongst staycationers but also for business lunches, Chinese restaurant JADE offers traditional Cantonese fare with the utmost finesse, with a few nods to its Singaporean counterpart. Basked in sunlight, surrounded by bay windows overlooking the sea and lush islands, we relaxed while enjoying signature dishes such as double-boiled fish soup with fish maw and spotted garoupa fillet or a baked crab shell beautifully presented on a gold-plated crab dish. Other highlights included the Bak Kut Teh xiao long bao filled with a flavourful savoury soup and the steamed Hong Kong heritage minced pork with foie gras and scallop topped with a molecular soy sauce marble which, when burst open, helps cook the bottom of the pork even further, emitting crackling sounds. The traditional sweetened almond cream with lotus seed, a personal favourite, was a light and sweet finish with the baked cashew puff with pineapple puree giving us a Singaporean take on the pineapple cake.
Jade at The Fullerton Hong Kong, 3 Ocean Dr, Aberdeen; +852 2166 7388
See also: Rooms With New Views—A Tour of Hong Kong's New Hotels
SOMM AT THE LANDMARK MANDARIN ORIENTAL
When looking for a business breakfast or lunch spot, French Neo-bistro restaurant and bar SOMM at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental has always been a go-to, and its latest five-course degustation menu is one to try. Dishes that particularly stood out included the sea lettuce taco with shiso, XO mayonnaise and raw ama ebi, with the caviar lime giving a little zest to the sweet shrimp. The seared scallops with scallop mousseline were feathery light and the line-caught grilled medai was tender and paired perfectly with the sweet Sichuan pepper romanesco. On the flip side of the surf and turf offerings, a ‘charsiu’ take on the BBQ beef short rib was most welcomed. And just when a chocolate craving started setting in, their signature chocolate souffle with cacao sorbet came wobbling out of the kitchen.
The degustation menu can stand on its own but if you’re having dinner here, we suggest the Classic Wine pairing or, even better, the Sommelier Battle wine pairing. The Sommelier Battle takes things one step further by offering two side by side wine pairings for three of the five dishes, each glass chosen by a different sommelier. By asking the guest to choose his or her preference, SOMM hopes to help further guests’ wine knowledge.
SOMM, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central; +852 2132 0033
QUALITY GOODS CLUB
Quality Goods Club may be known for its non-pretentious vibes and good times past 10pm but did you know you could enjoy live jazz and a stellar dinner beforehand? While the romantic atmosphere created by excellent renditions of Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’ and George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’ made me second-guess whether bringing Cherry was the appropriate plus-one, I was rather impressed by the international tone of the Alpaca menu, and it did not disappoint. Favourites included the fresh scallop ceviche with zesty lime and orange juice, mango and passion fruit, along with the New-England clam chowder that brought back memories of my university days in Boston. For the mains, the sea bass meuniere with brown butter, capers and lemon lived up to its reputation and one we will be coming back for. Things took a fun turn as we were offered to do a sherry shot off the bone marrow that accompanied the juicy bavette wagyu, the fattiness of the bone marrow pairing perfectly with the fortified wine. The finale was Marco Pierre White’s Lemon Tart, inspired by the celebrity chef’s own version, the perfect ending to the beginning of your night.
Quality Goods Club, Basement, On Lok House, 39-43 Hollywood Rd, Central
THE AUBREY AT MANDARIN ORIENTAL
While sake usually comes to mind when thinking about a Japanese spirit, the most widely consumed spirit in Japan is in fact shochu. The distilled spirit can be made from 50 different base ingredients, but is mostly made from sweet potato, barley, rice, buckwheat and sugar cane. With its new cocktail programme, The Aubrey at Mandarin Oriental seeks to educate guests on the mysterious spirit by offering cocktails divided into four Japanese prefectures that have been recognised as Geographical Indications or appellations, each with its own style and base. Having once reacted strongly to a shochu highball, I was met with surprise when I saw how delicate, creative and tasty each drink was. Koriyama was a favourite and definitely on the sweeter side, made with Kuma shochu, which is rice-based, along with elderflower, citrus, honey and Awamori while Harmony, with Satsuma sweet potato-based shochu, sauvignon blanc and citrus came as a close second.
The Aubrey, Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central
TANGRAM AT AKI HONG KONG
Conveniently located in Wanchai, TANGRAM at newly-opened AKI HONG KONG is the place for a quick, simple and nutritious lunch. The restaurant, named after the popular childhood game, offers three different sets of bento boxes that change seasonally. The omakase appetiser changes depending on what is available that day, and guests can choose from an array of international dishes, from a prawn barley salad and red-wine spring chicken to seared beef tataki with lemongrass and miso cod. We particularly enjoyed the cauliflower soup, a flavourful and creamy start to the meal.
HONG KONG CUISINE 1983
Tucked away on a quaint stretch of Happy Valley is Hong Kong Cuisine 1983, long been one of our favourite hidden gems. Already a 10-year-old neighbourhood mainstay, new chef Silas Li, having cooked in the private kitchens of the city’s who’s who for two decades, brings with him daring creativity and French-trained techniques to present new classics that pay homage to the flavours and ingredients of his roots. Highlights include the braised boneless duck webs stuffed in chicken wings, three layers of steamed egg white with crab meat and hua-diao wine, crispy sea cucumber stuffed with tofu fish mousse, and an unforgettable crispy chicken – bathed 180 times in hot oil – that gives new meaning to “crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside”.
1983 Hong Kong Cuisine, 1/F, Elegance Court, 2-4 Tsoi Tak St, Happy Valley; +852 2893 3788
Whisk, in The Mira Hong Kong, recently welcomed its new chef de cuisine William Lau and with it comes an impressive omakase tasting menu ‘Finesse’, with 10 courses to satiate the eyes as much as the palate. French-Japanese techniques accentuate the authentic flavours in seasonal produce, from Gillardeau oysters to the yari-ika paired alongside Okinawan okra. Our undisputed favourite was the lobster topped with uni basked in a gorgeously rich tomato confit – don’t leave without experiencing this eruption of umami in the mouth.
Whisk, 5/F, The Mira Hong Kong, Mira Place, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2315 5999
There’s no better place to be in Sheung Wan on a Friday night (or any night, for that matter) than at buzzy Bedu, where an ever-evolving monthly menu sees the entry of new items with a focus on fresh greens – think salt baked local carrots and beetroot basturma – alongside fan favourites – who can forget their garlic prawns or honey baked feta cheese? We highly recommend going for the wine pairing option, which means you’ll be washing everything down with curated rare Middle Eastern bottles from the likes of Morocco and Lebanon.
Bedu, 40 Gough St, Central
THE LEGACY HOUSE
Chef Li Chi Wai continues to elevate the finest in Chinese cuisine at The Legacy House at Rosewood Hong Kong, whether he’s incorporating fresh seasonal Yunnan termite mushroom into the wagyu beef clay pot rice or delighting with the signature deep-fried duck with mashed taro, a meticulous reimagination of a Chinese classic to give it a light, crispy frame and an oh-so-juicy interior. Look out for its upcoming hairy crab seasonal creations. Even better yet if you’re lucky enough to be seated against one of its gigantic floor-to-ceiling glass windows on a clear day, with the majestic harbour as your backdrop.
The Legacy House, 5/F Rosewood Hong Kong Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3891 8732