Where Chefs Are Excited to Eat in Hong Kong: November 2021
Welcome back to our monthly series where we ask chefs about where they’re excited to eat each month.
For November, we’ve invited Hjem’s chef Jeston Chua, who previously worked at Batard and Belon; chef and Arcane veteran, Michael Smith of Moxie; Elliot Faber, co-founder of Sake Central; and chef Mario Paecke of Margo to share where they’re excited to eat at this month. From local hole-in-the-wall spots, to cosy neighbourhood bistros and healthy lunch spots, you’ll want to save these restaurants for your next meal out.
Jeston Chua, head chef at Hjem
I can't even begin to count how many times me and my friends revisited this spot in Sai Wan Ho within this year alone. It's a great place to eat with good friends that love to gather over a nice meal and wanna learn a bit more about local cooking.
The soups always come out red hot, packing great flavours and that's always comforting, but my personal favourite would be, steamed four finger threadfin with chicken fat and yellow wine sauce, I could literally keep drinking the sauce. It's so tasty! I'd say it falls into the neighbourhood "bistro" sort of genre due to its small space and it seems like it's always packed with regulars so booking and pre-ordering in advance is a must!
Hop Sze, G/F, Lai Wan Building, 39 Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong, +852 2569 0862
I love my traditional beef noodles. Eight Treasures takes it up a notch by infusing Chinese medicinal herbs into the broth which definitely enhances the aroma and flavour. They have a wide array of traditional beef cuts and noodles that you can customise into your simple bowl of noodles.
I usually go for a big bowl whenever I travel out to Eight Treasures and order the "all-in" bowl with beef brisket, finger rib, skirt steak, point end with thin egg noodles—and at HK$118, I think it’s a steal.
Eight Treasures, G/F, Wing Wah Building, 124 Electric Road, Tin Hau, Hong Kong, +852 2889 8366
Lobster Bar and Grill
For something a bit different, Lobster Bar and Grill at Island Shangri-La is definitely one place that I've yet to visit but have been wanting to, specifically for their Sunday roast sessions. Friends have been raving to no end about the whole experience but it's always booked out so I'm still just waiting for the day I could get the chance.
Their seafood platter and selection of desserts look sublime as well and since I can't travel to Europe just yet for seafood tower and roasts due to the current quarantine rules, I’m definitely feeling lucky to have chef Cary over at the Lobster Bar.
Michael Smith, head chef at Moxie
Grain of Salt
Grain of Salt in Sheung Wan makes a delicious Thai green curry made with tempeh that I could eat daily. It’s like a warm hug in a bowl—so comforting, hearty and delicious. I also love their veggie “soup-er” dumplings, which are packed full of umami-rich flavours and nutritious vegetables such as shiitake mushrooms, with added protein from tofu.
Tiffany, the founder, is a registered dietician and specialises in both delicious and nutritious foods. She serves food that proves great taste and a healthy way of eating don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Tiffany also operates a running club from the cafe also, which I think is so cool. I’m a bit of a fanboy.
Grain of Salt, 47 Gough Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, grainofsalt.co
Jean May has been booked solid since they opened—which makes perfect sense because Tiff Lo’s food is exceptional. That’s why if I can manage to get a booking on my next day off, this is where I’m heading for some perfect hand-cut pomme frites. I’m English, so liking chips is in my DNA. These are definitely a “fancier” kind than what I grew up with at home, but they have the perfect ratio of fluffy potato to golden crisp exterior, and are always served piping hot which is key for good frites. They also make a chocolate praline dessert there that is absolutely wicked—I’m a huge dessert guy.
More of a tea room than a restaurant, but this place—founded by Jessica Chow—is one of my favourite discoveries since moving to Hong Kong. The Arcane Collective has been working with Bien Caramelisé for the last year or so. They supply our restaurants Moxie and Arcane with plant-based pastry that we use in our desserts and appetisers without compromising one bit on taste or texture. I never thought I’d be able to find pastry that tastes as good as this, made without butter or eggs. Jessica won’t tell me how she does it, and I wouldn’t want her to. Her pastries are completely genius.
When I get the chance, I love to go over to their tea room in Prince Edward, tucked away in a corner of the Flower Market and sit down for a pastry. Jessica marries French patisserie techniques with local flavours, such as banana pandan and Hong Kong lemon tarts. She makes a point to source locally as much as possible. I’m a big fan of their calamansi tart—calamansi is a flavour I absolutely love, and Jessica’s pastry is perfection.
Bien Caramelisé, Shop D, 1/F Hentiff Building, 160 Prince Edward Road West (Mong Kok Flower Market), Hong Kong, biencaramelise.com
Elliot Faber, Sake Central
Estro tastes like Italy. I’ve already gone for lunch and dinner with more reservations set out for me. The quality, focus, presentation and simplicity of the ingredients used makes for the closest meal I can have without flying back to Italy; not to mention the service and appropriate wine list offering. Come for the olive oil degustation and stay for the bottomless buffalo milk gelato!
Estro, Level 2, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, estro.hk
If Estro takes me to Italy, Nikushou takes me to Japan. Chef Anthony isn’t just a chef. He’s so much more than that: a storyteller and curator of ingredients (mostly but not exclusively Japanese) who can tell you the background and inspiration of every ingredient and cooking technique on his menu. Try to get a taste of the crispy eel—it’s a sneak preview of his new unagi restaurant Uza opening hopefully sooner rather than later!
Salisterra isn’t hiding in the shadows, it’s actually up in the clouds on the top floor of The Upper House hotel but it seems many haven’t discovered this gem that is hidden in plain sight! Aside from a cocktail selection that is in constant development, chef Chris Czerwinski has taken on Jun Tanaka’s vision to create an experience that is always on my mind. It’s the unexpected things too like their fish soup and chargrilled cauliflower that capture my attention, not to mention the killer three cheese and onion toastie.
Salisterra, 49/F, The Upper House Pacific Place 88, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 3968 1106, salisterra.thehousecollective.com
Having just opened Awa Awa next door, Shady Acres is often the only thing open when the doors shut. If I’m still around in those twilight hours, the cheese toastie there is a lifesaver and served until 2am. Yes I know I mentioned toasties above too but what could be better after a night of drinking (and/or not eating) than a full-crunch, cheese-pull worthy toasty complete with dill pickles and mustard? It’s my go-to!
Shady Acres, G/F, 46 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, instagram.com/theshadyacres
I feel I can talk about Ronin since it’s been over a year since I’ve worked there. It is probably the best dining experience in Hong Kong and a little known secret is that chef Matt Abergel’s entire kitchen team is full of imaginative ideas and impeccable execution.
Ronin still definitely is the home of the highball so you put that with a few key a la carte selections such as the chef’s sashimi selection or mini monaka burger and you realise that Ronin isn’t always about the full tasting menu with sake pairings (which is also amazing), it’s also about having a critical stop for refreshment on your night out!
Ronin, G/F, 8 On Wo Lane, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2547 5263, roninhk.com
Mario Paecke, head chef of Margo
I love to eat clean and healthy since it’s always been part of my upbringing. I go to Treehouse regularly and their sourdough flatbread Willow is my favourite. There is falafel, roasted garlic hummus, mixed greens, roasted bell pepper, pickled cucumber, and tahini. It’s easy and comforting, and it gives me enough fibre and energy for my diet.
Treehouse, Shop 1, G/F, The Steps, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3791 2277
When I first went to Chaat, I was very impressed and mind blown by the different flavours that spices, herbs, and ingredients that chef Manav Tuli could create for Indian cuisine. The tandoor beef cheek on the new menu is one of my new favourite dishes, the meat is super tender and rich in flavour.
I appreciate Simon Rogan’s cooking philosophy and the ways that they see and promote farm-to-table dining and sustainability in the F&B industry. During my recent visit to Roganic, I got to try their new menu, where I was really impressed with the stuffed and roasted three yellow chicken wings with mushroom XO and marmite glaze. When you bite into the chicken wing, the jus, flavour, and texture go perfectly well together, it’s definitely something that I would return for.