Cover Source: Osteria Marzia

We round up the food and drink happenings that you should know about this week

Mysteriously, the rate of restaurant openings is only intensifying as we barrel towards the end of 2021, with a handful announced in the span of this past week alone. Time waits for no man or woman, so get booking to wrap up your personal dining bucket list with a bow before the year is over. Keep reading for more on where to eat in the coming days.

See also: The Best Christmas Hampers in Hong Kong 2021

The Way The Cookie Crumbles

Founded by philanthropist Jo Soo-Tang and Edible Artists Global Academy Association founder Agnes Chin last year, Cookie Smiles is a new social enterprise created to serve the disadvantaged with the ubiquitous baked good, in the process offering training opportunities and jobs for the physically impaired through the Shine Skills Centre. To date, Cookie Smiles has raised over HK$100,000 for its beneficiaries, Splash Foundation and The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association.

This holiday season, Cookie Smiles has brought together 18 chefs and pastry experts from 12 brands to do more good, this time by way of the gingerbread man. From December 6 to 23, the organisation will host a pop-up at the Joyce boutique in Central's New World Tower where each chef has created their own take on the festive treat. Sale proceeds from the pop-up will go towards charity partner ImpactHK.

The participating personalities include: Chris Czerwinski and sous chef Chan Chun Fai from Salisterra, Richard Ekkebus and pastry chef Valentin Mille from Amber, Salvador Benedicto from Cassio, Sheldon Fonseca from The Mira Hong Kong, Uwe Opocensky and executive pastry chef Julien Gourmelon from Shangri-La Group, Wil Fang of Cookie DPT, Graham Long from The Continental, Franckelie Laloum and pastry chef Natalie Leung of Louise, Robin Zavou and pastry chef Christophe Sapy of Mandarin Oriental, Chris Ho, aka Ho La Ho Sik, Baptiste Villefranque from W Hong Kong, and Ando's Agustin Balbi and pastry chef Joanna Yuen.

Joyce, G/F, New World Tower, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2810 1120

Coast To Coast

As any seafood aficionado will attest, the best quality catches come from cold waters. Osteria Marzia, The Fleming's resident Italian restaurant, is capitalising on the season's oceanic produce as would be served in Italy's seaside towns of Campania through Amalfi and down to Puglia in a new menu debuting this month. From the kitchen of chef Luca Marinelli, expect dishes like finely shaved cuttlefish seppia, wild snapper crudo, grilled Hokkaido scallops with Jerusalem artichoke puree, raisin and fennel, tiger prawn and stracciatella ravioli, and crispy amadai prepared acqua pazza, all evoking the chilly but no less dramatic landscapes of the Italian coastline in winter.

See also: Inspired By Aliens And Aunties, Wellwellwell Opens Its First Dining Concept In Pacific Place

Sambal Central

“The true flavours of Singapore are hard to find in Hong Kong. The dishes I remember most fondly are those I experienced back home, and during Covid, it is these comforting foods and condiments that I have craved," says first-time restaurateur Jordan Lee, whose newly-opened Wan Chai venue, Jom, brings those missing flavours and more to the local foodscape.

Taking its name from the Malaysian word for 'come, let's go,' Jom's menu comprises hawker stall staples served with a selection of sauces and sambals. Expect classics like chilli crab, nasi lemak, Hainan chicken rice, and authentic laksa. With more than 30 homemade sambals to pair with individual dishes, Jom promises a different flavour journey every time.

Jom, 7 Tai Wong Street East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; +852 6426 3084,

Star Gazing

Feeling trapped not just in Hong Kong, but on Planet Earth? The soon-to-open Aurora Lab in Repulse Bay might just be the place you've been looking for—themed after the northern lights, the 5,000-square-feet sky garden of The Pulse has been transformed into a winter wonderland to whisk weary souls north of the Arctic Circle. Comprising ten Nordic-style huts, Aurora Lab invites guests to sample the three-course Arctic or four-course Aurora dinner menus, which tell the immersive story of a fox responsible for stirring up an aurora, through the use of story cards, quizzes and puzzle boxes. Soft opening from December 4 to 10, and officially open on December 11, learn more about this transportive dining experience online here.

Aurora Lab, R/F, East Wing, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong

Related: November 2021: Where to Drink in Hong Kong

Born Again Vegetarian

Making headlines as the city's first meat-free hotel restaurant when it opened in 2019, Ovolo Central's Veda has made vegan and vegetarian food attractive even to non-vegetarians thanks to its hearty Asian-inspired dishes. This December, the restaurant reopens after renovating its interior and terrace, introducing new menu items that continue its mission to set the standard for conscious vegetarian dining.

First up is Veda's transformed pastry counter, which offers artisanal fermented baked goods and pastries from Alive Food; at night, it transforms into a fully-stocked bar helmed by mixologist Art Fatkullin, serving a new library-inspired cocktail menu of classic cocktails as well as original creations. Food-wise, new a la carte additions to the menu include paneer tikka “escabeche”, wild mushroom rice, dal muradabadi, and spicy channa sag. On the weekends, limber up for a free-flow Perrier-Jouët champagne brunch (HK$598 per person) complete with a free-flow live dosa bar with four indulgent fillings and six sharing plates.


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Paella Primetime

The Woolly Pig restaurant group has bid farewell to its West Coast-inspired Big Sur, welcoming new Spanish restaurant Majo in its place. Named for the Spanish word for "mate" or "good looking", the 80-seat venue is helmed by chefs Alberto Sancassani and Michele Meneghini, two tapas and paella specialists who will be serving an extensive menu that includes the likes of Valencia-style codfish croquette with squid ink aioli, grilled Spanish octopus with potato and green and red Majo sauce, Bacalao a la Bilbaína poached cod fillet, and traditional Cazuela de Marisco seafood stew. 

From the paella section, pick from a range of options that are cooked to order with Bomba rice from Valencia. There's the Paella Valenciana (chicken, rabbit, French beans, white beans, snails); the Paella de Pato (duck leg confit, porcini mushroom, spring onion, truffle mayo), Arroz Meloso de Bogavante (a Spanish version of congee cooked with a whole Boston lobster), and more.

Meanwhile, an authentic Spanish beverage menu takes advantage of Majo's large patio, with a variety of sangrias on tap alongside a collection of vermouths to sip on.

Majo, G/F, 22 Staunton Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2529 3001,

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