Wine list not cutting it, or just waiting for payday? We’ve put together a list of our favourite corkage-free restaurants in Hong Kong, that are ideal for any occasion. The city has quite the impressive array of BYOB restaurants to offer, so don’t hold back – round up your friends, grab a bottle en route and take advantage of these killer deals…
This classy bistro serves up internationally-inspired French fare, all perfectly executed every time. If there’s one thing on Bonheur’s menu that we cannot live without, it’d be the Pan-Seared Foie Gras, a generous slab of creamy, fatty goodness with golden, crisp edges, perched atop a bed of dressed tomatoes, all supported by a crisp piece of toasted bread. Service is also top-notch, and the servers are professional without being cold or pretentious. Call to ask about its off-menu specials.
Corkage: Free at dinner, $100 per bottle of wine and $200 per bottle of spirits at lunch.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12pm – 2pm, 6:30pm – 11pm
Bonheur, 6/F, The Pemberton, 22-26 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2544 6333, www.bonheur-restaurant.com
ABC may not be found in the most glamorous of locations – it is in a cooked food centre after all – but the food is absolutely divine. Our favourites include the Roasted Suckling Pig (super tender, juicy meat, crackling that snaps oh-so-easily), and the Pan-Fried Foie Gras (yes, again). As for the environment, it’s part of the experience: think fluorescent lights, gingham tablecloths, and lots of noise. After all, you’re there for the food, not the decor.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 12pm – 2:30pm, 7pm – 10:30pm, Sunday: 7pm – 10:30pm
ABC Kitchen, Shop 7, Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9278 8227, www.abckitchen.com.hk
Tucked away on the sixth floor of an unassuming building in Sheung Wan is a cosy little private kitchen which offers modern Spanish delights. This small joint is owned by three best friends, all sticklers for perfection and dedicated to bringing their guests the highest-quality food possible. Must-trys include the Grilled Cuttlefish with Green Allioli Foam. Definitely call to find out what else will be on offer, as the menu is seasonal.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Sabor Spanish Touch Private Kitchen, Rm 601, 6/F, Cheung’s Building, 1-3 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2481 8828, www.sabor.com.hk
Decked out in faux-antique chairs, mismatched wallpaper and lace curtains, Le Marron is a kitschy, whimsical Francophile’s dream. A private kitchen that prides itself on its warm and attentive service, the restaurant is great for large gatherings and can seat up to 18 people at one long table. We’ve heard great things about the lobster bisque and foie gras, so make sure to try it out.
Corkage: Free for champagne, red and white wine. $50 per can or bottle of beer, $300 per bottle of spirits.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 6:30pm – 12am
Le Marron, 12/F, Ying Kong Mansion, 2-6 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2881 6662, www.marron.com.hk
This decades-old establishment is home to really friendly servers (many of whom have been there for over 20 years), classic Cantonese stir fries and super fresh seafood. Take your pick of live seafood from the tanks outside the restaurant, and have them cook your selection to your liking. You can never go wrong with the steamed scallops, which are served with heaps of garlic and glass noodles to soak up all that briny yumminess; and the soy sauce stir fried noodles, packed with bean sprouts and spring onions for crunch, bursting with the complex, charred aroma of wok hei. A word of advice: head there earlier to snag the biggest, juiciest scallops.
Be sure to make a reservation in advance because there’s always a huge crowd waiting outside the restaurant. Don’t forget to also ask for the complimentary dessert – the mung bean sweet soup is chock-full of healthy goodness. Kam Shan has a newer branch at Chuang’s London Plaza, but we always return to the Woo Sung Street location, as nothing beats the classic.
Corkage: $30 per bottle of booze – though we’ve heard that they waive corkage when they’re feeling generous.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 5pm – 3am
Kam Shan Seafood Restaurant, 62-68 Woo Sung Street, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2332 7366
It’s pretty obvious what Xin Dau Ji’s famous for – anyone passing by this Michelin-recommended restaurant can see a chef sitting by the window, turning a skewered suckling pig over a roaring fire with flair. Xin Dau Ji’s roasted suckling pig is no simple dish; it is a work of art, with each pig freshly roasted for every order. The chefs even go the extra mile and carve just the right amount of fat off the skin, so you get chunks of melt-in-your-mouth meat topped with shatteringly crisp skin, all without too much fat. Besides the suckling pig, we’re also obsessed with the Deep-Fried Spicy Cuttlefish with Salt & Pepper and Deep Fried Fish Fillet with Sweet Corn Sauce. Xin Dau Ji has multiple branches across Hong Kong, but we think the quality is most consistent at the original in Jordan.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 6pm – 3am (Jordan branch)
Xin Dau Ji,18 Cheung Lok Street, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2388 6020, www.xindauji.com. See all locations here.
Unapologetically noisy and frenetic, Tung Po is one of Hong Kong’s no-longer-hidden gems, thanks to being featured in an episode of the late Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Expect to drink beer from rice bowls and yell to get your point across the table. You’ll feel like a Chinese uncle, but we guarantee you’ll love it. It’d be a sin to miss out on the deep fried pork knuckles (crispy, chewy, porky nuggets you can’t stop nibbling on), and the squid ink pasta (spaghetti and springy cuttlefish balls drenched in an inky, midnight-black sauce). Both were served to Bourdain when he visited, so you know they’re good.
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 12:30 am
Tung Po, 2/F Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong, 2880 5224
Located at the Cooked Food Centre a short walk from Sheung Wan MTR station, this spot is perfect for large gatherings, especially when you want to get a little rowdier than usual. Come for the Tom Yum Kung (they’re really generous with the prawns) and the Red Curry Beef Tendon (beefy, flavourful chunks of tendon drenched in a coconutty, mildly-spicy house-made gravy). Tendon might not sound like the most appetising cut of beef, but you’ll thank us later.
Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11am – 10:30pm, Sunday and PH: 6pm – 10:30pm
Thai Good Taste, Shop CF23, Cooked Food Centre, 2/F, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building And Civic Centre, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 2851 0501, www.facebook.com/thaigoodtastesheungwan
If you’re looking for a comfier place for Thai (cooked food centres don’t always fit the occasion), might we suggest Thai on High, one of our favourites found on the western side of Hong Kong Island. Serving up a delectable range of Western-influenced Thai food, the restaurant also does a mean pad thai and amazing green curry.
Corkage: $100 per bottle
Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm
Thai on High, G/F, Kam Lun Mansion, 39-41 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Western District, Hong Kong, 2858 7380, www.facebook.com/ThaiOnHigh
Opened by celebrity chef Greg Malouf’s nephew Alex Malouf, Mama Malouf was named after the latter’s mother, and features a range of mezze (light appetisers) and more, all inspired by Mama’s home cooking. Occupying a petite dining space next to its sister restaurant CATCH in Kennedy Town, this quaint Lebanese eatery is a no-brainer for a casual catch-up. People sing the praises of the open duck shawarma (warm pita bread piled with a teetering heap of duck, tomatoes, arugula and harissa), and the filo sandwich (a Baklava-inspired ice cream sandwich stuffed with coffee cardamom ice cream and topped with an orange blossom glaze).
Corkage: Free on Wednesdays and Thursdays with a minimum spending of $250 per head, $150 per bottle on other days.
Hours: Monday to Friday: 5pm – 12am, Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 12am
Mama Malouf, 93 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, Western District, Hong Kong, 2817 3828, www.mamamalouf.hk