We asked our network of esteemed reviewers and experts to look back on the year just past

With the new year comes the obligatory time for reflection and resolution, and as food writers we are no different. While many have bemoaned 2016 as being one of the worst years ever, we thought it might be a bit more constructive to look back and extract the better moments and discoveries over the past 12 months.

In addition, we also asked our team about their one food resolution for 2017.

Charmaine Mok

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Best food discovery

2016 was probably the year of sake for me—I’ve long been a fan, but it wasn’t until I took a deeper dive via the Level 1 Sake Sommelier course that I paid more attention to what I was drinking. A serendipitous walk in Tokyo led me to my favourite find of the year—The Hangar bar in Nakameguro, which serves unusual junmai sake (I tried one brewed using the malolactic fermentation method) alongside a compact snack menu of humble yet accomplished dishes. The Japanese potato salad with quail egg, hazelnuts and dried plum powder was a highlight, as well as a memorable sake lees gelato with an 18-year-old sake.

Food resolution

I felt that last year, I ate at restaurants more than at home—particularly in the second half while putting together the Best Restaurants Guide. This year, I’ve started a project to highlight and document recipes by my father in an effort to connect more with home and family. And, of course, dine more at home.

Charmaine is the Editorial Director of Food & Wine at Edipresse Media Asia and the editor of Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants. Follow her on @supercharz

Wilson Fok

Best food discovery

The year 2016 was a year I rediscovered the joy of Chinese cuisines, from classic Cantonese to vibrant regional dishes. Being an avid fan of Sichuan cuisine, exploring flavours beyond numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns and heat from various chillies is an enjoyable and educational experience that allowed me to see the popular cuisine differently.  Great samples from the Cantonese repertoire were thoroughly enjoyed throughout the year, from classic sweet and sour pork at Luk Yu Tea House, classic prawn toastat Lai Heen to improved classics such as foie gras parcel with mushroom and Iberico char siu at Pearl Dragon and sauteed crab claw in egg yolk sauce from Man Ho. This reminds me of the limitless versatility of Cantonese cuisine that goes beyond prime ingredients and the chefs' creativity. 

Food resolution

Aside from the Best Restaurants Guide and dining updates, 2017 will be a year where food hobbies will be attended to. As a keen fan of food preservation for a few years, jam-making has been a considerable part of my leisure, and this year I aim to do more with these preserves, from jams and marmalades to brewing kombucha and pickling. The year is sure to to be fruitful, that I am sure. 

Wilson is the Dining Editor at Edipresse Media Hong Kong. Follow him on @happyquince

Janice Leung Hayes

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Best food discovery

Georgian food and wine; it’s largely undiscovered and almost unknown by the rest of the world, despite Georgia being the oldest viticultural society and having original techniques. I'm now addicted to white wines with extended skin contact. They also have a rich, varied cuisine with influences from Turkey, Central Asia and Russia—nothing like I've ever had before.

Food resolution

As always, to dig deeper into the dining_stories surrounding food and drink!

Janice Leung Hayes is a freelance food writer and the founder of Tong Chong Street Market. Follow her on @e_ting

Esther Wong

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Best food discovery

Khao soi! It's a bowl of deliciousness with contrasting textures (crispy and boiled egg noodles) and a delicate balance of flavours in a light curry soup base that makes for a satisfying meal. When will a certain Thai restaurant in Wan Chai offer it on their standard menu? [Editor's note: Samsen has started to serve khao soi as a daily special on occasion]

Food resolution

Learn how to properly throw a dinner party. Cooking for myself? No problem. Cooking for others? Terrifying. I'll try to start with something simple and effortless—hotpot dinners won't count, though.

Esther Wong was the former assistant editor of Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants guide. Follow her on @estherwo

Rachel Read

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Best food discovery

The mapo burrata at Second Draft – one of those dishes that tastes so right, you wonder why no one came up with it sooner. An inspired, creative and most importantly, delicious stroke of culinary genius.

Food resolution 

Working in media, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest new big restaurant openings, so I’m hoping to find a bit more balance and explore more less-beaten paths too – like cute upstairs cafes, charming old-school joints, interesting independent eateries and places that aren’t just in Central and Sheung Wan!

Rachel Read is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor. Follow her on @rachttlg

Keshia Hannam

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Best food discovery

It's been an insane year of food discoveries–particularly deep diving into cuisines previously I had had only basic encounters with. One of my best friend's weddings took me to Ethiopia and understanding the likes of berbere, Ethiopian coffee and teff in such a first-hand manner was hugely insightful into a beautiful and time-resistant culture. I also discovered Australian bush tucker — Noma's pop up in Australia highlighted bush ingredients that I'd never heard of, even having lived there for 10-plus years. Desert limes, red muntries, quandongs and magpie were all brand new and mind-blowing to consume.

Food resolution

Michael Pollan always gives the best advice: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

Keshia is formerly the digital editor of Foodie and currently writes for a myriad of food and travel magazines. Follow her on @keshiahannam

Johannes Pong 

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Best food discovery

A toss-up between the sun dried salted Alpaca heart wrapped with cocoa leaves from Peru (Chef Virgilio Martinez gave it to Chef Jowett Yu! It's the only one in HK right now) and the blowfish ovaries pickled in rice bran and sake lees I got in Kanazawa. Ishikawa is the only prefecture in Japan that is allowed to produce the highly venomous fugu ovaries. Apparently the lethal toxins are neutralised after two years of pickling. I gave some to my friends and they haven't died yet, so I’d say they're perfectly safe to consume. Both ingredients can be just grated over rice or pasta. 

Food resolution

More fasting. I was forced to fast for a week after a bout of severe indigestion (brought on by too much raw shellfish, which is really hard to digest) after two weeks in Japan. After fasting, I experienced clearer skin, clearer mind, clearer sinuses. And, of course, my yoga abs were showing (but not anymore).

Johannes is a food and travel writer, polyglot and the former dining editor at HK Magazine. Follow him on @johannespong

Mina Park

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Best food discovery

My 2016 food discovery was white turmeric in Chiang Mai. I had never had it before trying this incredible white turmeric salad over there. It's sweeter and brighter than yellow turmeric and, from what I've read, has the same antioxidant properties as the more common yellow turmeric. I'm currently obsessed with finding it in Hong Kong.  

Food resolution

My food resolution is to explore more deeply and adhere more closely to Korean traditional medicine and the concept of food as medicine.  I have been told what diet to follow for my yang-heavy body type and since I've started following the recommendations I feel much clearer and healthier. I’m working on some recipes to translate the tenets of Korean traditional medicine to a wider audience.

Mina is the founder of Sook, a Korean food and lifestyle concept in Hong Kong. Follow her on @sookbyminapark

Gloria Chung 

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Best food discovery

Aging and fermentation. I know it has been trendy for a while, but it’s gone to a different level in Hong Kong in 2016. People used to think for sushi and sashimi, the fresher the better. Today, restaurants like Okra tell us that aging works—not only for beef but for fish too! Places like 12,000 Francs are pushing fermented cocktails in barrels, which is also impressive. I can see more of this happening in 2017.

Food resolution

I have been meaning to cut out more carbs from my diet, but I love rice! However, I’m already skipping a lot of bread since I cannot find good ones easily in Hong Kong.

Gloria is a freelance food and travel writer and stylist. Follow her on @foodandtravelhk

Kee Foong


Best food discovery

Airline meals don’t have to be bad, even in Economy! After avoiding Qantas for many years, I flew with them over Christmas and was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only has the service improved, so has the food and wine, thanks to efforts of consultant chef Neil Perry. On one sector, I had a fresh, healthy and tasty chicken and soba noodle salad, which was a contrast to the many horrid, stodgy meals I’ve had on other airlines, not just in economy, but also in business. And if you’re lucky enough to have access to the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney, get there early for excellent, restaurant-quality fare and an impressive wine list.  

Food resolution

Eat less beef. As a carnivore who loves a steak or burger, I was shocked to learn how beef production and raising cattle has, by far, the worst environmental impact compared to other meat or seafood. It contributes most to greenhouse gases, global warming, destruction of habitat and pollution of land and waterways. I’m not ready to give beef up entirely, but we eat way too much of it. I would love to see more public education about the environmental impact of beef. 

Kee is the former editor of Luxe City Guides and Cathay Pacific's Discovery. Follow him on @keepicks

Lynn Fung

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Best food discovery

My favourite new ingredient of 2016 in my home cooking was duck eggs. Chicken eggs, even Japanese ones, really don't taste much like anything to me anymore, so I've started using duck eggs for everything from Caesar dressings to poached duck eggs for breakfast to carbonara. I buy them from a little store on Gage Street. I've heard that for 2017, turkey eggs are the new thing! 

Food resolution

My food resolution for 2017 is very boring, but I'm going to cut down on using straws and plastic utensils. My default setting for Deliveroo is already to not include utensils (sadly, some restaurants ignore that anyway), but it takes more effort to remember to tell staff at every restaurant and every bar (especially as it gets later into the evening) that I don't need a plastic straw every time I order a drink. And don't even get me started on those paper straws that start moulting in your mouth after a few sips! Better yet, I might just start taking my Swell bottles with me everywhere. After all, the large size is perfect for keeping a bottle of rosé ice cold on the beach, while the small size is perfect for bringing hot coffee onto the ski slopes. Who needs straws?

Lynn is the former editor of Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants. Follow her on @lynn_852

Juliana Loh

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Best food discovery

I’m little biased but it is Guillaume Galliot's Alaskan snow crab with laksa foam— something he came up with in 2016 while I was making laksa one evening. He had this eureka moment and used this inspiration to create a new dish for the menu at The Tasting Room, and for the Michelin guide gala in October. 

Food resolution

I am trying to live a leaner, more meaningful life in every sense of the word. I have been doing a lot more home gardening—my tomatoes and basil plants are amazing and bear fruits most of the year and I cook with them. 

I am also looking forward to have a larger space or a balcony to grow more herbs, and working with a more plant based diet, respecting the principles of slow food, homegrown, more homemade food and reducing my carbon footprint by eating less meat, Beginning with #meatlessMondays to start! 

Also, as I am spending lots of time in Singapore, I am trying to diligently learn more of my mother's recipes and document them as she cooks them with such effortless ease, there is no documentation of recipes!

Juliana is a freelance food and travel writer based in Macau. Follow her on @chickenscrawlings

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