10 of the city’s best independent culinary brands have pitched up in a contemporary new space in the basement of Jardine House
Travel to any major city in the world these days and you’re likely to come across a “food hall”, the contemporary answer to the distinctly untrendy food courts of yesteryear. It’s where gastronomes congregate to forage for dishes and drinks that are of the zeitgeist, rather than shuffle listlessly through a crowded space with a plastic tray heaving with fast food from the big corporations. Visiting a modern food hall—be it Market Hall in London’s Victoria for baozi and salt beef sandwiches or The Deco in New York City for pão de queijo and chicken mixian—gives an overview of the city’s independent food scene as well as a simple way to sample its cross section in a single meal.
Hong Kong has many food courts, but few food halls of note. Basehall may be the answer, taking over the basement space of Jardine House that formerly housed the beloved Grappa’s Cellar. The mezzanine level layout lends itself well to the “see and be seen” vibe of the food hall, where diners hanging out at the bar can keep tabs on tables on the level below; the colour-shifting lighting and live DJ tunes adds to the “food hall or nightclub?” mood. Local food lovers may also recognise that the copper rods that previously hung from the ceiling of Amber have been repurposed as decorations for the bathroom walls and cubicles—just one of the little nods to iconic culinary legends by Linehouse, the design team behind Basehall’s look.
From June 15, Basehall will be open Monday to Saturday from 11am until late, and is designed to be a convivial space targeting the Central community—will it become a dining destination for those outside of the CBD? Time will tell. Below, we give the low down on the ten featured F&B brands, many of them familiar but with a twist:
Experience rotisserie chicken by Yardbird, masters of bird cookery in Hong Kong. The menu offers enticing sides as well, from sesame ponzu coleslaw to “Ro-tater tots” with nori, sesame and bonito. Sauces deviate from the usual as well, with highlights including miso onion gravy, Yardbird’s Flagrant Hot Sauce, and Green, a spring onion, ginger and coriander condiment inspired by the classic Cantonese accompaniment for poached chicken.
This is the second project by LA’s Taco King Esdras Ochoa in Hong Kong, who opened his first restaurant, 11 Westside, in 2017. Westside Taqueria offers a concise menu of six different tacos including garlic butter shrimp, chipotle aioli, pico de gallo, mango and avocado; Baja fish with smoked chilli mayo, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo; and classic carne asada with salsa molcajete, guacamole and coriander. Other dishes you can order include yellowtail ceviche and, of course, chips and salsa.
Return Of Lemak
After a wildly successful pop-up at Co Thanh in May, Singaporean chef Barry Quek—formerly of award-winning Beet restaurant, which recently shut—is back on the pass serving the flavours of his upbringing. The new brand serves the eponymous dish of fried chicken leg with coconut rice, sambal, fried egg, peanuts and fried anchovies as well as Quek’s Nyonya laksa, a legit version that includes the essential blood cockles. The menu is small but you can finish off with cendol, a cooling dessert of coconut milk, pandan jelly, red bean and crushed ice.
The cult burger brand’s third branch has settled into Basehall, serving their menu of simply satisfying burgers. Apart from the classic and cheese versions, Honbo also offers an Impossible burger with a vegan XO sauce and a Basehall Burger with a 4oz patty that has a molten cheese core. Supplement your burgers with sides such as tater tots, coleslaw, wedge salad and wash it down with Mike’s lemonade or apple pie iced tea.
Soho’s contemporary Korean restaurant is bringing their take on the cuisine with hearty bansang meals consisting of rice, mains and side dishes. On the menu are items such as bulgogi tokgalbi meatballs, variations on spicy tofu stew and bibimbap, and Korean fried chicken. If you loved Dalgona coffee, try Moyo Sik’s honeycomb iced latte that pays homage to the original crunchy topping for which the drink is named.
Noodle fans can try Co Thanh’s repertoire of Vietnamese classics, from bun bo hue (beef brisket, rare beef, chả lụa sausage, beef balls, fresh herbs) to bun mam (a fermented fish and shrimp noodle soup that also has squid, roast pork, okra, abergine, pineapple and chives). There’s also banh mi and smaller dishes such as fried chicken wings, pork sausage skewers and summer rolls. For dessert, you can try the ca phe panna cotta that’s finished with a dusting of Vietnamese coffee.
Christian Mongendre’s Treehouse opened in H Code last year, and their new Basehall location brings a selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes including their signature sourdough flatbreads with wholesome, healthy toppings (fried eggplant, organic turmeric soft egg, roasted garlic hummus, cabbage, tomato and amba sauce feature in the Banyan, while the Willow includes alafel, roasted garlic hummus, roasted bell pepper, mixed greens, roasted bell pepper, pickled cucumber and tahini). Salads, burgers and mezze platters are included in the mix as well as vegan desserts such as the chocolate coconut bite.
Fresh out the oven is this second Cookie DPT space, the first having just launched as a pop-up at The Upper House in May. The brand is known for their larger-than-life cookies. Selections vary but you can expect their signature brownie-filled chocolate chip on the menu as well as cold brew for sale.
Pub 1842 by Young Master
When it comes to beer, local legends Young Master are hard to beat. Their pub concept at Basehall offers 10 taps serving their signature ales and lagers, as well as draft cocktails (such as gin and tonic), a non-alcoholic Gunner, and a daily dram whisky. To drive the pub concept home, they’ll also be serving savoury pies (brisket and beer, bacon mui choi, pepper chicken) and a daily curry.
Grab yourself a pour from the Basehall Bar, which serves freshly brewed coffee and fruit smoothies as well as wines and cocktails. Their signature grilled cheese sandwich is already looking like an early favourite.
Basehall, Shops 9A, 9B, 9C Lower Ground Floor, Jardine House, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong