Tatler insiders share their tips for finding the best food and drinks in Hong Kong
Diana d’Arenberg is a 2016 Gen.T honouree, artist and writer who covers all things related to fashion, art and culture
Best high-end restaurant
Arcane. It’s not vegan but has a separate vegan menu which we have enjoyed on numerous occasions. It’s our favourite restaurant in Hong Kong. Its dishes, presentation, wine list and service are exemplary. Shane Osborne, the Michelin-starred Aussie chef, is a legend, and his playlist is pretty awesome too.
Discover more at arcane.hk
Best vegan catering
It’s not a vegan caterer, but Relish can make delicious dishes that are vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Discover more at relish.com.hk
Caroline Li is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Academy in San Francisco who currently documents her food escapades on Instagram at @hungry.pea
Best place for off-menu dishes
VEA by chef Vicky Cheng. He is the mastermind behind off-menu dishes—try and ask for his seasonal matsutake grilled cheese with burrata, black truffles and dried abalone sauce on the side.
Discover more at vea.hk
Best places to buy exclusive sake
I love Junmai Daiginjo and usually go to Citysuper as their prices are really great, but since they are no longer Japanese-owned a lot of my usual sake supplies are out.
This is when I go to Liquid Gold—my aunt and uncles are big sake drinkers and they love shopping there. I visit the Pacific Place branch as it is more fun looking at the real bottles where you can have discussions with their sales about sake styles that you like and have them recommend the perfect bottle! There was this one bottle I had in Fukuoka that I really enjoyed drinking and Liquid Gold was able to source it for me in Hong Kong which was definitely a plus!
Discover more at liquidgold.com.hk
Best French cheese supplier
The Cheese House HK. The founder, Antoine Zaruba, supplies cheeses for many of the best French restaurants in town.
Discover more at thecheesehouse.hk
Best private caterer/chef
Sushi Saito for Japanese food. This referral only "homakase" experience is probably the best thing that came out of Covid. Saito’s team comes to your home to set up 45 minutes before dinner—all you need is a side table for the chef to place his sushi board on. If you are lucky, head chef Kubota will come serve you himself with his team of sous chefs and Gavin the manager will help serve.
They bring all the plates and chopsticks too so you do not need to prepare much. Just have your sake line-up ready (no corkage since you are at home!) sit back and enjoy the 2-Michelin-starred Saito omakase experience in the comfort of your own home. The team is very professional and it is as good as it gets outside of their usual restaurant setting—normally, it’s very tricky for chefs as they are used to their muscle memory with things being in the same place, working in a familiar setting every day. There is a minimum spending of 6 people at HK$3580 per person excluding catering fees.
Discover more at globallink.com.hk/sushisaito
Chef Lancy Nguyen at Cafe Hue for Vietnamese food. She’s the only Vietnamese caterer that's been around for 30 years and for good reason too! They have a family restaurant in North Point but for a more comfortable experience, home catering is the way to go.
Chef Lancy's food is without MSG or heavy salt. Her layering of flavors is very refined, and her menu features a wide range of Vietnamese favorites like the ever so popular fresh crabmeat chả giò (Vietnamese fried spring rolls), silky smooth pork and mushroom bánh cuốn (steamed rice roll) with fried shallots, individual bánh xèo (Vietnamese savory creme made with turmeric and coconut cream), fresh crab curry with garlic bread and one of the best beef phos in Hong Kong!
She charges HK$800 per person for a minimum of six people. She is always booked out but the good news is she has been training her son Nelson, who is very polite and sweet and is also a solid chef that makes the most delicious lemongrass grilled pork neck!
Cafe Hue Vietnamese Restaurant, G-2/F, Echo Peak Tower, 61 Fort Street, North Point, Hong Kong, +852 2512 8323
Best place to order premium seafood
Waves Pacific, because it sources the highest-quality sustainable seafood, such as Ora King Salmon—one of the most prestigious breeds of salmon—from New Zealand.
Discover more at wavespacific.com
Best cake designer
YYY House of Cakes by my very good family friend Yvette Li. She is an architect and avid skier but she also makes the coolest 3D cakes in Hong Kong that are both very Instagrammable and delicious! She made a whiskey barrel cake for my husband’s birthday with real whiskey flowing out.
Discover more at yyyhouseofcakes.com
Best culinary workshop
The Mixing Bowl in Sheung Wan is a fun place for those not familiar with cooking at home. t’s a great place to start, since they are very well organised and have a nice space including an outdoor terrace where you can have drinks on. Go for their pastry class, featuring Hong Kong favourites like pineapple buns, Chinese-style sausage brioche rolls and egg tarts. There's just something very indulgent about eating your own freshly baked egg tart straight from the oven.
Discover more at themixingbowlhk.com
Best place to kit out your kitchen
I’ve kept a lot of my tools since culinary school, but Sogo has great kitchenware brands like Le Creuset and glassware like Riedel and Bodum. My other favourite glassware brands are R+D Lab and Luisa Beccaria.
Discover more at sogo.com.hk
Janice Leung Hayes
Janice Leung Hayes is the founder of Tong Chong Street Market and sustainability platform Honestly Green
Best place for char siu
Sun Kwai Heung, a humble barbecue shop near Chai Wan market, is so small and it mostly does takeaways, but it has an outsized reputation among char siu fanatics. It insists on using fresh as opposed to chilled or frozen pork, offers two cuts of char siu—the regular mui tau (pork collar), which is known for its marbling and springy texture, and the rarer pork belly, cut from the ribs (which are also barbecued like char siu), with clear layers of fat.
Sun Kwai Heung, Shop 17, G/F, Goldmine Building Block A, 345 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2556 1183
Best place to enjoy a bowl of noodles
Shui Kee on Gutzlaff Street for beef brisket and tripe noodles—the old-school clear broth is perfectly calibrated, the beef is fresh as can be and the challenge of sitting at a sloping table makes it a delightful Hong Kong dai pai dong experience.
Best wine merchant for unusual bottles
Cork Culture is always reliable for interesting small producer natural wines with great stories, and the wines are well-priced to boot.
Discover more at corkculture.hk
Best place to find XO sauce
Mrs So’s XO sauce is made in Hong Kong with premium ingredients, and it has a vegetarian version too.
Discover more at xo-sauce.com.hk
Favourite wet market for seasonal gems
Kowloon City wet market. It’s huge and not every store is amazing, but there are definitely a few gems, especially if you’re looking for local vegetables and seafood.
Best place to find a made-in-Hong Kong cleaver
Chan Chi Kee on Shanghai Street are the Chinese knife experts—tell them what kind of cook you are and they’ll find you your perfect knife.
Chan Chi Kee, 318 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
Best local and organic vegetables purveyor
You can order directly from lots of local organic farms now, like Farm House Productions and Au Law Organic Farm.
Discover more at yuwing.com
Best farm to explore and be educated about local Hong Kong produce
Zen Organic. It was one of the first to do educational visits and is great at it. Its produce is some of the most varied too.
Discover more at zeno.com.hk
Best restaurants with wok hei
It’s too hard to pin down just one wok hei specialist in a town full of wok masters, but I love watching the chefs at Ball Kee, a lunch-only dai pai dong tucked on Staveley Street, off Wellington Street, at work.
Rina Hiranand is the head of marketing and insights for APAC at BlackRock, and full-time champion for local Hong Kong food and culture
Best classic Hong Kong bakery
Hoover Bakery in Kowloon City. Everyone goes to Hoover for their egg tarts, and seeing them made in the traditional moulds IS special. But their sponge cakes are a retro-delight, particularly the pandan: cost-effective and with kitschy-cute packaging to boot.
Best wine purveyor for funky bottles to brag about
For New World, I love Oz Terroirs. Not only is it run by a Frenchman, spinning that iconic rivalry on its head, but they import bottles you can't get anywhere and are always willing to have a chat with you. Cork Culture is my favourite for Old World, not just because of their exclusive imports but because their genuine love and interest in wine always shines through in everything that they do.
Best place to find mouth-puckering local pickles
I pick up my pickled young ginger from Pat Chun on Wellington Street. The grocery stores in Mirador Mansions are also a good place to get Indian pickles, or achar.
Best place to buy groceries for a high-end snack party
If I were joining a high-end snack party, I would certainly be the one contributing alcohol. I would get bottled cocktails from 001 or Bar de Luxe to kick off the party!
Best place to enjoy a milk tea while watching the world float by I worked steps away from Lan Fong Yuen for a few years, and it's still one of my favourite places to watch HK kick into gear over breakfast. They are, however, not disposed to let you linger. For that I would pick any 24-hour Tsui Wah first thing in the morning for a bolo bau and a huge cup of tea, to watch people from the night before try to sober up while the office crowd starts to shift in.
Best restaurant with wok hei
My mom, sisters and I have been going to Hing Kee for close to 20 years now. Their black-bean clams adds fermented yellow bean sauce and sears it with their ferocious wok: it's one of the first dishes my sister asks for when she returns to HK!
Best al fresco dining that doesn’t feel like a rip off
In the city, I love going back to Gaia when the weather cools down every year to take advantage of their outdoor tables. By the sea, Cheung Chau > Lamma. I would get some take-out fried seafood from Yu Lok CC to eat on the beach, sit in at So Bor Kee and finish with dessert at Island Workbench Under The Tree.
Best place to buy picnic provisions My contributions are always alcohol-based, so I would be bringing canned Palomas from Coa to drink in the sunshine, Moonzen beers and wines from Wine Brothers, as they already have suggested bottles for different HK occasions.
Best place to enjoy a zen cup of tea
Indians are notoriously picky about our chai: Teakha is the only place I will pay for it! For my home selection, I love the matcha and cold-brew sencha from Kaori Sabo: they stock hotels and restaurants around Hong Kong but also have a little retail shop just off On Wo Lane.
Best cake designer
Before Joanna Yuen went onto pastry fame at Nobu and ANDO, she designed the most ethereal and otherworldly cakes in Hong Kong.
Found is the first dedicated CBD cafe in Hong Kong, providing a range of drinks and snacks that infuse the hemp-derived cannabinoid, from coffees to kombucha, as well as ice pops and cakes. The calming, plant-filled space is the very definition of chill.
Found, G/F, 8 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
“Being a fourth-generation Hongkonger and having witnessed the changes in sovereignty, various crises and now the pandemic, the energy of the people always remains strong, which keeps us motivated and competitive in every facet of life. Mak Siu Kee Traditional Wonton Noodle is one of my all-time favourite local noodle shops in Hong Kong.
The wonton noodles and beef noodles are their signature dishes and are my comfort foods. I love the traditional interiors and ambience of a Cantonese noodle shop. It always reminds me of the good old days when I was in high school, and it feels like home.”
—Evan Chow, managing partner of MCL Financial Group
Discover more inspirational content from us and get your free digital copy of our November 2020 Tatler Hong Kong issue here: magzter.com. The free download will be available from now till 30 November, 2020.