Whether it’s an extravagant fine dining restaurant or a humble street side hawker stall, we are perpetually on the quest for delectable foods — whatever the occasion. So, for the ultimate insider scoop, who better to personally recommend the best eats around the world than top chefs who’ve seen and tasted it all. We go right to the source as international culinary legends reveal where they eat and what they order when the aprons come off.
Chef Agustin Balbi is no newcomer to the dining scene. His road into the culinary arts began when he was 15 years old, inspired by the cooking and hospitality of his Spanish grandmother. Since then, he has garnered experience from kitchens all around the world, including Argentina, United States and Japan. Currently, Agustin Balbi is the executive chef of innovative Japanese restaurant, HAKU. Today, the award-winning chef lets us in on his favourite places to wine and dine in Hong Kong and abroad.
For an evening of fine dining…
I really have a passion for kaiseki [Japanese haute] cuisine and Kitcho in Kyoto for me is a very special place. Of course, the food is refined but also the environment – with the tatami rooms and servers in their traditional kimonos – makes the whole experience something unique. It is truly a place where the word fine is best described and applied in all the senses.
I also really love Olivier Elzer’s new place, L’Envol. There is a very spacious and beautiful dining room with an open kitchen. The cuisine is super tasty and refined – it’s hands down one of my favourites in Hong Kong. The service is top notch and the quality of everything is really another level. Food, service, hospitality are at its best here, and I always leave this place not only full but with a sense of true happiness.
Kitcho, 5-8 Sagatenryuji Susukinobabacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto; +81 75 881 1101
L’Envol, The St Regis Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Drive, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; +852 2138 6818
For a cheeky cheat meal…
Yakitori Hachibei in Japan is a super fun and elegant place. It’s a perfect place for friends to get together and enjoy amazing yakitori and highballs counter-style and share a conversation. It’s also great to watch the chefs cooking all that delicious skewers right before you.
Yakitori Hachibei, various locations across Japan
For a romantic date night…
The perfect place for this is Caprice at Four Seasons in Hong Kong. It is elegant and classy and of course serves excellent food with impeccable service. You can’t beat the view here and the wine list is out of this world! I love going there with my wife on date nights as Caprice just ticks all the boxes.
Caprice, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3196 8888
For getting friends and family together…
I love going to La Paloma for a fun night out with friends. Ricky and Alex who work there are amazing and they know how to treat people and offer that homey feeling. The food is delicious and great to share, and the sangrias are super fun too.
La Paloma, 189 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2291 6161
For a healthy detox…
Nectar is quite a special place in terms of its whole philosophy and the way they are very serious about executing their vision. It’s very challenging to do what they do. The food is really exquisite and surprising – the cheese cart is made from nuts and other delicious bites are stimulating for both the mind and the body.
Nectar, Centrestage, 108 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2873 3353
For happy hour tipples…
La Rambla by Catalunya is amazing – the view, the terrace and the people make a perfect combo for happy hour and dinner. The food and drinks are great! I imagine if I worked in an office, I will be there a lot after work for a drink and a bite which will probably lead to a full on dinner.
La Rambla by Catalunya, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central; +852 2661 1161
What’s happening at HAKU?
We are very excited for this coming year-end and we will soon be launching our new autumn menu with the best produce from Japan and Spain. This truly is my favourite season of the year to cook. We are also very much looking forward to 2020 as we prepare for exciting new collaborations with amazing chefs from all over the world.