Cover Scoops of Messina's gelato (Source: Black Sheep Restaurants)

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

While September is fast coming to a close, the hot weather doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, which is why we're celebrating the arrival of a cult-favourite gelateria to our streets in the coming weeks. In other news, Hong Kong's Japanese offerings continue to expand with a new retail-dining concept in Tsuen Wan, plus new offerings at Censu. Read on for more.

See also: World's 50 Best Restaurants 2021: These 3 Hong Kong Restaurants Made It Onto The 51-100 List

Big In Japan

With Hongkongers' yearning to travel at Japan at all-time highs, Tsuen Wan's newest dining and lifestyle destination, Ikigai Concepts, has opened at a fitting time to help alleviate some of that wanderlust by way of your tastebuds. Combining retail with gastronomy, the 12,000-square-foot, 190-seat venue was brought into being with the help of Tokyo-based Nomura Design. It's split into five zones, which comprise everything from a kushiyaki skewer grill and a casual washoku kitchen serving everyday tempura and rice bowl options, to an omakase sushi bar, a sake tasting lounge, and a teppanyaki bar that is due to open later in early October. 

Indeed, approachability is at the core of Ikigai Concepts' offerings: an omakase lunch starts at HK$380, and dinner at HK$780, with guests dining on delicacies like botan ebi and sweet Samegarei flounder from Hokkaido to Japan’s staple ‘iwashi’ sardine. Meanwhile, the sake lounge hosts a dispensary that automatically matches each user based on their unique preferences.

Ikigai Concepts soft opens on October 1 at Shop 211, Nina Mall II, Tsuen Wan West, Hong Kong;

For Relaxing Times, Make It Censu Time

Now open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, chef Shun Sato's fledgling Gough Street bistro, Censu, is introducing a new cocktail and sake lineup to let the good times roll. Among the mixed beverages are a host of gin and tonics (HK$108 up) using Japanese gins like Sakurao, Roku, and Kanomori, each of which is paired with botanicals and mixed with Japanese teas in some cases for added complexity.

Censu also debuts its house sake, a ‘Hyakutai’ Tokubetsu Junmai created by the small-scale Kokuryu brewery in Fukui Prefecture; this rubs shoulders with natural wines like the 2019 Melon Rodnick Farm Chalone, 2017 Ageno, and Fistful of Flowers from Australian winery Momento Mori. To pair, guests are encouraged to order Sato's new seasonal dishes, including flathead lobster with yuzu miso hollandaise sauce and kombu butter (HK$238), hay-smoked bonito with smoked eggplant soy sauce (HK$218), and the moreish minced wagyu katsu sando (HK$168).

Related: A Sense Of Place: Censu Is A Homecoming For Ex-Fukuro Chef Shun Sato

Ice Ice Baby

Famed Australian gelato brand Messina touches down in Hong Kong for its first permanent location in the city, by way of the Black Sheep restaurant group. Founded in 2002 in the Sydney neighbourhood of Darlinghurst, Messina is known for its freshly-churned gelatos, all of which is made from scratch using milk from the brand's own dairy cows, alongside hazelnuts and strawberries sourced from Messina-owned or operated farms.

The gelato boutique follows Messina's pop-up at Taste of Hong Kong 2019, where special creations like Milk Tea Bombe Alaska and Yuzumisu gelato were served. Due to open in the heart of Soho, we're already expecting Messina to attract lines around the block for their perfect hot-weather treats. Stay tuned for more news of this anticipated opening.

Gelato Messina, 37 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong;

Related: 9 Best Vegan Ice Cream Shops In Hong Kong

Did Someone Say Schnitzel?

Pan-European brasserie Margo welcomes in the autumnal harvest with new menus devised by head chef Mario Paecke. Channeling European dining traditions, Paecke introduces reinterpreted continental dishes like celeriac with boudin noir and Ercolini pear—a subtle nod to the German countryside dish of Himmel und Erde (Heaven and Earth)—alongside wiener schnitzel with potato salad, Champignon-foie gras duxelle and cucumber salad; plus puntalette with black trumpet mushroom and balsamic-glazed radicchio. 

Those looking for a more intimate experience can reserve the chef's counter experience for two. At HK$1,200 per person, this menu gives diners front-row seats to Paecke's cooking process as they overlook the goings-on of the open kitchen. Cheese selections can be added on for HK$228 and up.

Margo, Shop 6, 9 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

From Canton to Teochew

Get a taste of the traditions of southern Chinese gastronomy as the seasons change at Canton Bistro and Chiu Tang. The former, located in Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, is dishing up classics from the Shunde region such as pan-fried fish maw with wild mushroom and black truffle, and stewed fresh abalone with chicken in supreme soup. As is the custom, cooler weather heralds the arrival of claypot rice, with Canton Bistro's luxurious version involving ingredients like braised sea cucumber, beancurd and shrimp roe.

Meanwhile, Chiu Tang's autumn menu emphasises the nourishing qualities of marinated dishes. Expect the likes of yin-rich Chiuchow-style marinated abalone, casserole of spare ribs and spring vegetables, and digestion-aiding desserts like caramelised taro, sweet potato and pumpkin.

Canton Bistro, G/F, Club Wing, Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, 180 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong; +852 3555 1910 

Chiu Tang, 2/F, The Galleria, 9 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2526 8798

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