Cover A coral-themed pasta at Crust Italian (Photo: Crust Italian)

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

As we begin our slog through midsummer, we have a slew of new restaurant openings to thank for some gastronomic excitement. Taking advantage of the post-pandemic slump in commercial rents, many small eateries and takeaway kiosks have opened up in prime urban areas, offering novel and exciting concepts such as Bengali cuisine and spam musubi—affording our tastebuds a sense of wanderlust without having to physically travel. Keep on reading for our roundup of this week's restaurant news.

See also: What And Where To Drink This Summer: New Bars, Cocktails, Pairings, And More

Crust Italian Opens In The Historic Woo Cheong Pawn Shop Building

Taking over the former premises of Turin-style Italian restaurant La Piola, newly opened Crust Italian moves the cuisine 800km down the Italian coastline to Naples, where coffee culture, pastries and seafood reign supreme. An all-day dining destination that takes full advantage of a street-facing venue in the historic Woo Cheong Pawn Shop building, Crust Italian takes inspiration from 161-year-old Neapolitan cafe Gran Caffè Gambrinus during the day, offering hallmarks of southern Italian pasticcerias (coffee and pastry shop) like caffe sospeso (coffee drank standing at a bar), and pastries like sfoligatelle and pastiera

Office workers looking for lunch on the go will appreciate the restaurant's takeout counter, offering Neapolitan street food like fried pizza and frittatine di pasta, essentially a nugget of pasta fried with béchamel sauce and other accoutrements. Moving into the evening hours, the dinner menu is anchored by mains like seafood scialatielli pasta, 14-hour ragu, and cod baked in a clay crust, with the decadent rhum au baba bringing up the rear. "At a time when travel has been almost impossible, we're looking forward to diners travelling to Naples via the elegant surrounds of the legendary Pawn building—and coming back time and again," says head chef Sergio Landi.

Crust Italian, 60A-66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

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Black Sheep Restaurants Opens Two New Venues (La Vache, Midway Beef)

Adding to its ever-expanding empire, Black Sheep Restaurants has opened two meat-centric venues this month alone. The first is Midway Beef Dogs, a pop-up in Landmark's Belowground that specialises in a single style of all-beef hot dog ($40) native to Chicago. Sandwiched between a poppy seed bun and topped with yellow mustard, relish, pickled peppers, tomato, a pickle spear, and minced onion, the beef dog is finished off with a dash of celery salt.

Over in Pacific Place, La Vache! has opened the doors to its third location, offering its winning (and only) combo of an organic greens and walnut salad with tangy mustard vinaigrette, followed by a 10oz USDA prime ribeye steak and free-flow frites (HK$338). Located in the mall's atrium, the branch differs from its two sister restaurants in Soho and Tsim Sha Tsui with "outdoor" cafe-style seating for that quintessential Parisian vibe. “We are thrilled to be joining this vibrant neighbourhood. La Vache! is already so well-loved in the city and we hope bringing it to where so many Hongkongers spend their leisure time will only help to better serve our guests," says Black Sheep Restaurants co-founder Christopher Mark.

Midway Beef Dogs, Belowground, 1B/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

La Vache!, Store 007, LG1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong

Musubi Hiro Brings Spam Musubi and Kaiju To Soho

A symbol of Hawaii's hybrid Japanese cuisine, the spam musubi finds an unlikely home in Soho with the soon-to-open izakaya-inspired gastropub, Musubi Hiro. Essentially a slab of grilled spam sandwiched between two blocks of rice and bound together by a ribbon of nori, the spam musubi and its other onigiri (rice ball) brethren are the heroes of the show at this concept inspired by the tokusatsu serials of '60s-era Japan (think the likes of Ultraman and Godzilla). Up to ten varieties of musubi are on offer, from vegetarian to fried options; as well as izakaya fare and a drinks list of sake, beer and cocktails. The interior of the venue channels the nostalgic, over-the-top style of tokusatsu thanks to a lively design by Quill Wong, bolstered by murals by students of the Hong Kong Design Institute, while a soundtrack of Japanese hip-hop keeps proceedings upbeat over the course of each night. Musubi Hiro is due to open in early July

Musubi Hiro, G/F, 37 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong

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Momoz & Bengal Brothers Deliver Bite-Sized South Asian Flavours

Long a staple of late-night, post-Lan Kwai Fong bingeing, the momo gets its due with the opening of Momoz, a humble eatery specialising in this Nepalese dumpling that is unveiling two locations in Central's party district and Tsim Sha Tsui simultaneously. Opened by new restaurant group Cygnus Concepts, Momoz's colourful offerings include classic and vegetarian flavours, alongside more worldly momo creations like char siu, kimchi, katsu chicken curry, and Swiss cheese. Momoz also offers more substantial flatbread wraps, alongside in-house canned cocktails and mocktails to quench your thirst.

Opening in July, Bengal Brothers will also play a hand in expanding the city's offering of South Asian cuisine. True to its street food origins, the takeaway joint will be serving the likes of kati rolls and "first-class" bowls in a grab-and-go format. The former is a staple in Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, and consists of chunks of chargrilled meat or vegetables stuffed into housemade paratha flatbreads, then finished with tangy chutneys and a spice blend. "We’ve missed our favourite street-side eateries and look forward to bringing an authentic and vibrant new addition to the takeaway and delivery offering in Hong Kong," says co-founder and ex-New Punjab Club operations manager, Vidur Yadav.

Momoz, Shop 3, G/F, Lee Wai Commercial Building, 1 & 3 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Momoz, 6 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong

Bengal Brothers, 6 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Basehall Welcomes Three New Concepts

In the spirit of keeping things fresh, Basehall is set to make space for three new culinary offerings. Francis is the most anticipated new entrant, expanding the much-loved Middle Eastern fare of chef Asher Goldstein into the basement of Jardine House. From za’atar spiced chicken and manti dumplings to sabich, an Israeli sandwich of Jerusalem sesame bagel with fried eggplant, potato, hard-boiled eggs, and harissa, the Francis outlet at Basehall promises to deliver the same authentic tastes as the original location in Wan Chai. A three-course set menu will also be on offer for HK$160.

Meanwhile, Pub 1842 by Young Master Brewery will renew its lease as Grub 1842, with a refreshed focus on hearty pub food such as its four takes on mac and cheese—among them, the distinctive Black Mac features a combination of squid ink, Gruyère Béchamel, mozzarella and hotaru ika (firefly squid). The dark chocolate and peanut butter cannoli by Holy Cannoli is also a new addition to the menu that will satisfy sweet tooths.

Finally, Winehouse by Basehall Bar ups the wine credentials for the food hall, thanks to an extensive range of wines by the glass that range from HK$35 to HK$100. On offer is everything from traditional vintages to a unique selection from Japan, complemented by sparkling sake and a cocktails. Bottles will also be sold at near retail price for those looking for convenience and value.

Basehall, Shop 9, LG/F, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong

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Having made a name for himself with decadent treats under Cookie DPT, entrepreneur Wil Fang has unveiled his next project in the form of Carbs. The straightforwardly named eatery is a purveyor of deep dish square pizzas à la Detroit, with options like The Supreme Square (spicy pepperoni, avocado, mushroom, mozzarella, sour cream), The Notorious P.I.G. (bacon, ham, hot honey, tomato sauce), and Last Call (mozzarella, basil, spicy vodka sauce). The carbs don't end there, with pasta offerings like mac & cheese and spicy vodka fusilli, tater tots, onion rings, and milkshakes. Now soft open at Central's H Code, stop by for your carb-loading needs.

Carbs, Unit 3, G/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong

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