Taste of Hong Kong sure knows how to whet our appetite. The food festival – which will be in town from March 22-25, hosting some of the city’s best restaurants and chefs alongside international names – has been releasing its dishes in stages, to really keep us wanting more. But never fear, we’ve put ourselves in the lunch line to try them all for you.
Last month we gave you a taster of what’s in store at a trio of participating restaurants, and now we’re happy to present three more eateries that are set to show at the festival. While we know you might be booking in for a meal beforehand, don’t forget that a trip to Taste of Hong Kong will bring a whole host of exclusive dishes you won’t be able to enjoy anywhere else.
1. New Punjab Club – A Punjabi staple and a festival exclusive
The New Punjab Club opened this past September, bringing a liberated, post-Colonial Pakistan and India to Hong Kong. Aromatic, richly fragant food is at the heart of the restaurant, where traditional food is brought to your table in steaming sharing portions that invite everyone to dig in.
The Amritsari Machli, a deep-fried soft fish and provincial staple, was first up at our tasting. We were told this one ‘runs through Punjabi veins’, so beloved is it in their diet. The sweet meat of the fish was perfectly enhanced with a duo of side sauces that had us hungrily looking for more.
We were also lucky enough to try a Taste of Hong Kong exclusive: the New Punjab Club’s take on the humble chicken biryani. And it was a masterclass in how to do it right, taken to a new level of taste that we’ve never experienced in Hong Kong or, we’d go so far as to say, most of India. Jewel-like pomegranate seeds rest atop a juicy chicken breast and fluffy Basmati rice, and while the dish takes between six to eight hours to prepare, boy is it worth the effort. Try to resist stealing an extra portion from your neighbour when yours is done.
2. Frantzén’s Kitchen – Three Scandi classics and a Swedish exclusive, all with a twist
Make sure to queue up at the phenomenal Frantzén’s Kitchen, helmed by Chef Jim Löfdahl, for a mind-blowing foodie experience at Taste of Hong Kong. On the border of Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, this nonplussed little eatery (it seats around 20 people comfortably) served us three dishes – and we’ve been dreaming of them ever since.
Each serving, from start (their take on French toast, with truffle, aged balsamic vinegar and aged cheese was beyond yum) to finish (smoked ice-cream, with toasted hickory pecan nut, salted fudge with cloves and tar syrup – yes, really), had us booking a table to come back before we’d even left.
Make sure to head to the Frantzén’s Kitchen stall at Taste of Hong Kong for Löfdal’s exclusive Te Mana lamb shank 24 hour “Lamm I Dill” sauce with braised carrots, fried dill and crispy onions.
3. Haku – Two fusion favourites
Haku might be over on the dark side, but for this Argentinian-Japanese fare we willingly battled across harbour waters. Chef Agustin Balbi – a well-tattooed man of Italian extraction from Argentina – has mastered fusion Japanese cuisine and then some. Having spent time in the kitchens of several Michelin-starred restaurants, he brings a rich experience and expertise to his prized restaurant.
On our visit, the aproned maestro served us toasted brioche seasoned with shiso flowers (light, bright and breezy is what we thought) and a Japanese orange, with frozen granita and a yogurt foam base; the subtlest and most delicately-conceived dessert we’ve had in eons.
We wish we could have tried the prawns with koshihikari rice, togarashi and parsley, but, alas, this one is another Taste of Hong Kong exclusive, which settles it: we’ll just have to head down when the festival opens to try even more.