A guide to some of the best dine outs that are defining the culinary landscape of Hong Kong with their standout food, unique setups, world-class service and incredible stories. By Satarupa Paul
Its skyscraper-studded skyline may be one of the most recognisable and beautiful in the world. But the global financial hub of Hong Kong is so much more than just glass and concrete. Besides being a major shopping destination and a heaven for architecture and design enthusiasts, Hong Kong is also touted as an ultimate gourmet hotspot. We list five addresses that are worth a visit, not just for their standout food, but also for their unique concepts and settings, as well as the interesting stories that follow.
1. Tim Ho Wan
A decade ago, Hong Kong-based chef Mak Kwai Pui started a small 20-seater dim sum eatery called Tim Ho Wan, in the buzzing shopping district of Mong Kok. Within the space of a year that little restaurant would go on to earn a Michelin star. Tim Ho Wan today has over 40 branches all over the world, but its original outlet—now shifted to Sham Shui Po—still remains the largest crowd-puller and is famous as the ‘most affordable Michelin-star restaurant in the world’. The menu here is simple and consists of 20 odd dim sums, all skillfully made and reasonably priced. The shrimp dumplings, baked buns with barbecue pork and steamed beef balls are absolute must-haves.
Address: 9-11 Fuk Wing St, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
2. Madame Fù
Just off the bustle of Hollywood Road lies an old police station and prison compound that has now been carefully restored into the hip heritage and arts district of Tai Kwun. One of the hottest places to visit in Hong Kong today, Tai Kwun houses a range of restaurants, galleries and boutique shops. Elegantly seated on the top floor of what were once the barracks is Madame Fù, a grand, stylish fine-dining space that is reminiscent of a Parisian café. Each of the six rooms here are artfully designed with their own identities, while two sprawling verandahs have been adorned with ornate lanterns and velvet banquettes. Alongside a carefully selected wine list, Madame Fù serves a delectable menu of contemporary Cantonese cuisine and boasts of an impeccably attentive service.
Address: 03-101, A Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Housed in the same historical Tai Kwun complex is the swanky new cocktail lounge called Dragonfly. Designed by the maverick Ashley Sutton, it’s inspired by the creative genius of 19th century American artist, Louis Tiffany. The decadence of the Art Nouveau era has been recreated with an entire ceiling featuring dozens of turquoise glass lamps—borrowing from Tiffany’s famous stained glass windows. Beside a patterned mosaic flooring, the bar area and walls are adorned with over 500 cast iron dragonflies. If walking into this design marvel doesn’t make you feel like you’re in wonderland, then the exclusive selection of cocktails with ingredients such as bubble tea, lemongrass, palm sugar, coconut rum and etc., will surely do the trick.
Address: 10-13, Ground Floor, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
4. John Anthony
In 1805, a Chinese native named John Anthony arrived in London as an employee of the East India Company. The first Chinese man to become a British citizen, he eventually founded the Chinatown there and helped boost trade between the East and the West. Centuries apart, a design studio called Linehouse has taken a cue from this cross-cultural pioneer and transformed a basement space in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area into an ingenious mashup of a British tea hall and a Chinese canteen. While being Cantonese at heart, the eponymous restaurant is setting new standards of eco-consciousness and pushing the boundaries of culinary innovation with charcoal grill-roasted meats and handmade dim sums influenced by regions along the Spice Routes.
Address: 1 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
5. Grassroots Pantry
It’s lunch hour on a weekday and Hong Kong’s proclivity for healthy eating is evident as we step into Grassroots Pantry and find it completely packed. The rustic, industrial interiors reel you in, while the menu proves to be a revelation. The appendix at the back runs longer than the menu itself and lists all the ingredients and processes that this vegan restaurant employs. Brainchild of chef Peggy Chan, Grassroots Pantry promotes local, farm-to-table sustainable food practices and also houses a workshop where new culinary experiments are constantly encouraged. The result is interesting dishes such as a vegan chicken popcorn made of hedgehog mushrooms, vanilla chia seed waffles and more.
Address: 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong