Cover Ice Age! vegan ice cream comes in a variety of flavours (Photo: Ice Age!)

The food and drink happenings that you should know about this week

The restaurant and hospitality industry continues to open up apace as it works out the nuances of the government's vaccination requirements pertaining to both staff and customers, amid outcry across the profession. Nevertheless, the minds behind Hong Kong's F&B scene continue to excite and delight, whether it's new spring flavours or introducing cryptocurrency payment into the customer experience. All that and more in our roundup of the happenings to know this week.

See also: Penicillin Is Asia's Most Sustainable Bar, As Awarded By Asia's 50 Best Bars 2021

Okra Now Accepts Cryptocurrency As Payment

In one story we didn't see coming, modern izakaya cuisine and cryptocurrency are intersecting at Okra, which has begun accepting digital money in lieu of cash. Hot on the heels of the highly anticipated debut of crypto exchange platform Coinbase on the Nasdaq stock exchange, the Sai Ying Pun restaurant has sought the services of crypto payment processor Trust Wallet to accept Hong Kong dollar equivalent payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, Binance USD and Ripple. Guests using cryptocurrency to pay for their meal will receive a 5 percent discount on their total bill, mirroring the standard fees imposed on businesses that utilise credit card payments. All menu prices will be stated in Hong Kong dollars and the conversion rate, which is updated hourly, will be given before payment.

With this move, Okra joins the likes of Tesla, WeWork, Time magazine, and Shopify, all of which have begun accepting crypto for their products or services. Chef Max Levy explains: “We’ve always tried to pivot with the newest technology outside of social media to help offer a better and more rewarding experience for our guests. The evolving world of digital currency and blockchain is something that will benefit not only our industry by saving us high transaction fees from banks and credit card processing companies, but it will soon become a much more beneficial way for our guests to pay.”

Okra, 110 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2806 1038

See also: Okra & Mizunara Join Hands For A Month Of Cocktails And Izakaya Fare

Ice Age Debuts New Vegan Ice Cream Flavours With Yardbird, Matchali, Classified & Cookie DPT

Launched late last year, vegan ice cream brand Ice Age! is making bold moves this month by partnering with some of Hong Kong's most current F&B players to launch a myriad of new flavours, adding to its existing range of 13 flavours. Using California food technology startup Perfect Day's innovative animal-free dairy proteins, the locally-founded brand produces a true-to-form ice cream that mimics the taste and creaminess of traditional dairy ice cream without the use of milk-derived ingredients, thus making it palatable to Hong Kong's large population of lactose-intolerant consumers while simultaneously reducing the carbon footprint of the sweet treat.

The likes of Yardbird, Cookie DPT, Matchali, Classified and 404 Plant have taken this new product and ran with it, creating new iterations to entice the foodie crowd. There's the Matcha Cookies 'n' Cream, created in a collaboration between Matchali and Cookie DPT; the Classified Caffe flavour, which packs an espresso-based punch; and Yardbird's distinctive Charcoconut, which takes the form of a skewer in a sly nod to the Michelin-starred izakaya's yakitori cuisine. 404 Plant, a vegan eatery in Sheung Wan, will also be serving milkshakes and bagel desserts utilising Ice Age! flavours such as strawberry, chocolate hazelnut and caramel popcorn.

The original Ice Age! flavours are currently available at Great Food Hall in Pacific Place, Food Le Parc at Cheung Kong Centre, Taste at Festival Walk, and Fusion at Discovery Bay and Cyberport. Meanwhile, the collaborative flavours will be available at each partner's respective location. For more information, head to the brand's Instagram.

Related: 9 Of The Best Vegan Ice Cream Shops In Hong Kong

Chaat Continues Its Exploration Of Indian Snack Cuisine With New Dishes This Spring

Rosewood Hong Kong's resident Indian restaurant, Chaat, expands on its creative reimaginings of the subcontinent's colourful street snack culture with a variety of new seasonal dishes this spring. To whet the appetite, chef de cuisine Manav Tuli has dreamt up the beetroot kulfi kebab, a lollipop-like deep-fried snack from northern India; and the nargisi kofta, a meatball that is the supposed predecessor of the scotch egg and cut open to reveal a soft-boiled egg.

Anchoring the mains, the chicken dum biryani is served in the style of Hyderabad, namely inside of a pastry crust of melon seeds and paratha, thereby locking the wealth of spices within; and the deliciously rich and succulent Alaskan king crab tandoori, which intensifies its marinade of turmeric, green chilli, green cardamom and homemade 12-spice garam masala with some time spent inside a clay oven. Black truffle and chilli cheese naan also makes its debut, all the better to mop up any residual sauces.

Bringing up the rear is Tuli's newest dessert creation, a panna cotta that reinterprets the Bengali sweet snack of rasmalai, made using milk and saffron. Servers will also tempt diners with an after-dinner drink of Graham's Tawny 20-year port, dramatically wheeled out in a barrel from which the precious liquid is siphoned.

See also: Ones To Watch: How Mumbai’s Masque Is Redefining What It Means To Be An Indian Restaurant

The Commune Takes Diners From Day To Night With New Menus

Headed by K11 Artus F&B director Guillaume Mantis and executive chef Julien Casset, The Commune is revamping their menus to cement its all-day offerings. For lunch, guests can sample a pan-Asian selection that includes à la carte dishes like Balinese beef tartare, wagyu beef clay pot-style paella, and crispy pork belly marinated in a pineapple curry sauce. A three-course set lunch is also available for HK$330 and changes monthly. 

The Tea By The Harbour afternoon tea set (HK$720 for two) takes us through the rest of the day, matching select bites from the lunch menu with freshly baked scones, clotted cream and fruit and tea infused Asian jams. The artisanal tea selection has been carefully curated in partnership with local tea shop Teacha, including the K11 Artus Signature blend. There's the choice to upgrade to cocktails or a bottle of Perrier Jouët Grand Brut NV too.

As evening rolls in, the dinner menu brings dishes such as Japanese pork belly bao, tempura fish and chips, and 'gwei lo' shrimp wonton noodles to the fore. The cocktail menu, created by head mixologist Slamet Haryadi, has also been expanded with drinks like the Art Domus (goji berry vodka, purple yam liqueur, almond milk, honey, citrus, egg white) and the Morel Negroni (morel mushroom vermouth, gin, Campari, umami bitters).

The Commune, 10/F, K11 Artus, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Sushi Yonjugo Opens In Soho

A new recessed wooden facade marks the location of Sushi Yonjugo, a new omakase sushi restaurant by the team behind Tellus Lounge and C45. Seating only nine people, Yonjugo is helmed by chef Milton Lau, whose Edomae-style sushi is made with ingredients that are decided upon with Japanese producers over the phone at 4am each day, arriving in the restaurant by 10am. His specialties for spring include the likes of kinki fish from Hokkaido, and silver codfish with truffle. Though the sake menu changes with the seasons, Yonjugo takes pride in its house-made umeshu, which is available once a year in March and limited to 45 jars. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner omakase sets, priced at HK$1,580 and $2,280 per person respectively.

Sushi Yonjugo, 35 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3689 1045

See more: At Newly Opened Masa Hong Kong, Dry-Aged Sushi Is The Star Turn

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