It’s no secret that 2020 has tested Hong Kong’s restaurant industry like never before. Between early closures and limited group dining numbers, social distancing regulations have been in full force for most of the year, with no signs of abating any time soon. That being said, the industry has forged on ahead with a number of new openings, much to our delight.
Fresh from a four-year stint leading the team at one Michelin-starred Petrus, Ricardo Chaneton joined forces with JIA Group earlier this year to open his first solo venture, MONO – to great success. Officially opening in January, this pick impressed across the board with its approachable yet refined take on fine dining. Forgoing the usual pomp that you’d expect from institutions of this caliber, MONO exudes warmth with its cosy, relaxed interiors and stellar service.
As for the food, Chaneton’s technical finesse (courtesy of his modern French training), combined with the vibrant culinary complexity of his South American heritage, shines in the restaurant’s singular tasting menu, which centres around seasonal ingredients. Highlights for us included the colourful Warm Blue Lobster Salad, lifted by a touch of salsa verde and sprinkled with deep fried seaweed for crunch, the gamey Racan Pigeon pibil (the leg, served in a purple corn taco with roasted cactus, was the perfect bite!), and the freshly-baked Quinoa Sourdough, served with the prized Eva Aguilera olive oil that is available in only three restaurants across the world.
Sassy Tip: Make sure to request a seat at the chef’s counter to catch a glimpse into the open kitchen – as a bonus, you’ll get to hear first-hand from Chaneton himself about the stories and history behind each dish.
MONO, 15/F, On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong, [email protected], www.mono.hk
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It’s hard to believe that The Pizza Project has been in our lives for less than a year. Making its debut on Peel Street in late January (with a second Wan Chai location following soon after), it has since become a go-to for easy, casual dining. Tasty, affordable handmade pizzas are the aim of the game here, complete with a killer wine list and crowd-favourite desserts (Pici tiramisu, we’re looking at you!). While you can’t go wrong with any of the items on its tightly edited one-page menu, our regular order includes the Porchetta Tonnata Gnocco Fritto, Burrata and subtly spicy Nduja pie.
Head here for our full review.
The Pizza Project (Central), G/F, 26 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2311 1815
The Pizza Project (Wan Chai), 5 Star Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, [email protected], thepizzaproject.hk
Read more: The Best Pizza In Hong Kong
LucAle was the first of many new Italian-inspired openings this year. And despite the subsequent competition, the restaurant’s cosy familial charm and hearty comfort eats ensured it has remained one of our favourites of the bunch. Helmed by renowned chefs Alessandro Angelini (who most recently led the kitchen at Shangri-La’s Angelini) and Luca De Berardinis (of Conrad fame), expect homemade pastas, Italian prime cuts and masterful seafood dishes, along with a cracking selection of organic biodynamic wines. Our favourite dishes include the vegetarian-friendly Chitarrino Al Tartufo Nero, otherwise known as LucAle’s must-try truffle spaghetti, alongside the La Bistecca Di Fassona con Osso steak. Make sure to come hungry!
Head here for our full review.
LucAle, Shop A, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 3611 1842, [email protected], lucalehk.com
Bursting onto the scene at the end of May, Harbourside Grill has to be one of our best alfresco dining discoveries of the year. Boasting an expansive wraparound terrace with 180-degree unobstructed vistas of Victoria Harbour, it’s the epitome of dinner with a view!
Led by Executive Chef Armand Sablon, the grill-centric menu is laced with French finesse, elevating classic steakhouse dishes to new heights. We’re huge fans of the Steak tartare, served table-side for added drama and personalised to taste, as well as the Wet Aged Sirloin and Ribeye (served with a trio of moreish Béarnaise, Bordelaise and Five-peppercorn sauces), and Josper-grilled Lamb Rack. Non-red meat eaters have to try the succulent Seared scallop with curried cauliflower purée, along with the range of vegetable-based dishes (including the Yorkshire asparagus, which benefits from a spicy kick thanks to the accompanying Colman’s Mustard and shallot dressing). And don’t forget dessert! We’re still thinking about the restaurant’s signature Apple tarte tatin some seven months after our visit – yes, it’s really that good.
Harbourside Grill, Shop OTE401, Level 4, Ocean Terminal Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2619 9100, [email protected], www.harboursidegrill.com.hk
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A new Black Sheep opening is always highly-anticipated, and as one of only two additions to the group’s repertoire this year, it’s fair to say that expectations were high for the launch of luxe teppanyaki concept Crown Super Deluxe. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.
From A5 Kagoshima Wagyu to Teppan Spiny Lobster with a magical butter and lobster coral sauce, each dish was, as expected, on point. But food aside, what struck us most about this opening was the sense of showmanship that played across our dining experience. We loved the theatrics of having our very own chef cooking in front of us at our teppan, along with the kitschy table-side entertainment. This is definitely one to bookmark for your next blow-out occasion.
Head here for our full review.
Crown Super Deluxe, Mezzanine, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2111 8434, [email protected], www.crownsuperdeluxe.com
Travel may have been off the cards this year, but that didn’t stop Yakinikumafia from treating our tastebuds to a trip to Japan. Housed in a sleek airport-themed interior, Hisato Hamada’s second Hong Kong opening focuses on serving up affordable cuts of Ozaki Beef, which diners grill themselves over a bbq.
Yakinikumafia has the honour of being the only restaurant in Hong Kong to with this type of single breed Wagyu, and the team have made the most of it by butchering the full cows themselves, ensuring each cut is designed especially for grilling, with minimal wastage. The result? Silky, buttery morsels of beefy goodness with an effortlessly melt-in-your-mouth texture. We loved the accompanying Big Eye BBQ Sauce, featuring Tare Sauce, Japanese egg yolk and grated daikon; this added a nice subtle sweetness to the meat. Another highlight has to be the warming Wagyu Bone Broth, made from Kobe and Ozaki beef bones that had been stewed for a minimum of 24 hours. And make sure to save room for the Wagyu Keema Curry, which delivers a fantastic “mala” kick courtesy of the WAGYUMAFIA original hot sauce.
YAKINIKUMAFIA, 2/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 3105 1250, [email protected], yakinikumafia.hk
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Classic Vietnamese cuisine got a makeover this year thanks to Chef John Nguyen and the launch of his first solo venture, XUÂN. There is no shortage of great Vietnamese restaurants in the city, but what stood out for us about this pick is the fresh twists on familiar classics, inspired by the northern reaches of the country. Think fresh grouper and crab meat Chả Giò Crispy Spring Rolls, Braised Beef Tongue Salad, Cơm Gà Hoi An Chicken Rice and more. While its the Beef Prime Rib Phở that’s been doing the rounds on Instagram, our standout dish has to be the Chicken Phở, made with a creamy and flavourful homemade 12-hour chicken broth and local Three-Yellow chicken; it’s the perfect tribute to Nguyen’s extensive experience and mastery of skill.
XUÂN, G/F, 18 Lun Fat Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, 2891 1177, www.instagram.com/xuan_hk
As the first international restaurant of celebrated Michelin-starred chef Mingoo Kang, Hansik Goo was by far one of the most exciting new openings of the year. And despite Kang himself being absent for much of the soft opening period, not to mention those third wave restrictions, this modern fine dining pick more than lived up to the hype.
We loved the elevated spin on authentic Korean cuisine here – something that we hadn’t really experienced before in Hong Kong. Each dish impressed with unexpected flavours, from the Yukhoe, or Korean-Style Beef Tartare, which had a kick thanks to the addition of Kang’s famous jangs (sauces), to the comforting Samgye Risotto, which juxtaposed tender, perfectly fried chicken with creamy gluttonous rice and hearty chicken bone broth. We can’t wait to go back to try Kang’s off-menu add-ons, including the much-raved about Korean Fried Chicken.
Head here for our full review.
Hansik Goo, 2/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, 2798 8768, [email protected], www.hansikgoo.hk
Tucked behind the market stalls of Wan Chai’s Gresson Street, charming French-inspired bistro jean may brought a touch of Parisian chic to the city this summer. Here, home-style comfort eats are the order of the day, crafted with love by Michelin-trained chef Tiff Lo (who cut her teeth working alongside culinary greats like Eric Chavot and Michel Roux Jr).
The modest menu is packed with wholesome, flavourful dishes, of which our favourites were the starters. We’re talking Razor Clams with Parsley and Garlic, Steak Tartare, Sea Bream Carpaccio and more. We especially loved the fresh Oysters, which came with a pickled cucumber, dill and horseradish dressing that took the edge off the oyster’s natural briny flavourings. The delicate Chicken Liver Parfait was another winner – smooth and oh so moreish, we would happily have ordered another.
While we strongly advocate making your way through all of the starters in lieu of a main, if you do want something more filling, opt for the succulent Duck Breast with Spiced Honey Glaze, which was cooked to perfection. As for dessert, don’t leave without trying the freshly-baked Honey Madeleines, which were so good they had our non-sweet tooth friends raving!
Sassy Tip: Make sure to book! Every time we’ve been (yes, we’ve been back more than once since our first visit in September!), the small bistro has been packed to the nines, leaving many disappointed groups struggling to secure an elusive walk-in.
jean may, Shop A, 14 Gresson Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 3590 6033, [email protected], www.facebook.com/jeanmayhk
With views for days and a prime location on the 24th floor of LKF’s California Tower, contemporary Italian restaurant Aria was always going to make its mark on the Hong Kong dining scene. But it was chef Andrea Zamboni’s earnest passion and creativity that sealed the deal for us after our visit, landing it a spot on this list.
Showcasing seasonal ingredients flown in weekly from Italy (many of which cannot be found elsewhere in Hong Kong), the menu is ever-changing, offering elevated classics with a twist. Our favourites included the Burrata Tomatoes Salad (we wish vegetables tasted this good all the time), the 1 Year Aged Carnaroli Rice Risotto, Blue Lobster and Bagna-cauda Fondue Tagliatelle and the signature Italian Milk-fed Veal Cutlet. You’ll find that most of Andrea’s dishes are surprisingly simple, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine. Executed to perfection, expect an Italian feast like no other.
Aria, 24/F, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, 2804 1116, [email protected], ariaitalian.com
If it’s dinner with a view you’re after, look no further than COBO House. The fine dining hotspot reinvented itself this year with new chefs (up and coming culinary duo Ray Choi and Devon Hou) and a new location, housed within K11 MUSEA. We loved the ingenuity of this pick – everything from the QR code menu to the secretive culinary concept worked together to make it a dining experience to remember.
COBO HOUSE, Shop 602, 6/F, K11 MUSEA, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2656 3088, [email protected], www.cobohouse.com
From imaginative speakeasy pop-ups to raw veganism and Korean temple food, plant-based dining really came into its own in 2020. And one of our favourites from the genre has to be Big Dill. Blurring the line between plant-based and traditional comfort food, this pick makes the list for its homemade vegan “chicken”, “beef” and “lamb” proteins. Everything here is made in-house from scratch, using real ingredients, so there’s no need to worry about consuming any mystery hormones and other questionable substitutes. The result? Maximum flavour, with Big Dill’s burgers and hotdogs beating any Impossible™ or Beyond Meat variation we’ve tried this year.
Big Dill, 123-125 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, 5270 6777, [email protected], www.facebook.com/BigDillOfficial
Cultures collide at Andō – a new JIA Group opening from early summer, helmed by Chef-Founder Agustin Ferrando Balbi. Here, the cuisine is inspired both by Balbi’s Spanish/Argentinian heritage and his experience in top Japanese kitchens, resulting in a menu of gastronomic excitement. From the beautifully sourced tableware and decor (including handcrafted ebony chopsticks sourced from Japan) to the top-notch ingredients at every course and the stories behind every single dish, it was a dining experience that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Head here for our full review.
Andō, 1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, WhatsApp: 9161 8697, [email protected], www.andohk.com
If you ever need reminding of just how fantastic the city’s homegrown culinary talent is, head down to BaseHall. The multi-concept food hall, which opened in June, showcases ten of Hong Kong’s coolest F&B concepts, including Cookie DPT, Cô Thành, Honbo and more. Highlights for us include Yardbird sister brand Roti Tori for Japanese-style rotisserie chicken and multiple helpings of our favourite Ro-Tater Tots, along with one of the best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in the 852 from BaseHall Bar.
Read more: What To Eat And Drink At BaseHall
BaseHall, LG9 Jardine House (Basement Level), 1 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong, 3643 0865, [email protected], www.basehall.hk