In light of the loosening travel restrictions, we highlight some of the best restaurants in Hong Kong’s constantly evolving gastro-scene — and, of course, the culinary talents behind them.
Entering the final month of what has been a rather tumultuous year, there is much to celebrate as Bangkok finally regains some level of normalcy. With the end of lockdowns, return of dine-ins, and easing restrictions, there’s a tantalizing whiff of hope in the air — that soon, international travel might just be a viable option once more. If, like us, you’re dreaming of cross-border adventures and foreign lands, Hong Kong makes an ideal contender for your first post-pandemic getaway.
With its perennially buzzy restaurant scene, the city has garnered a solid repute as one of the most exciting culinary capitals in the world. Think of it as somewhat hallowed ground for gastro-tourists — fueled by the prospect of great eats, they flock to the city, eager for a bite. Yet a big part of Hong Kong’s appeal isn’t just the wine and dine scene itself, but how this scene is always evolving, with a constant bevy of new restaurant concepts, innovative eateries, and Michelin-starred establishments. Behind these, of course, you see a diverse community of passionate, internationally-acclaimed chefs, who are happily playing their part in elevating the local dining culture.
To help you with your bucket-list compiling, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting restaurants to check out in the city, and the culinary talents helming their kitchens. From fiery newcomers to seasoned veterans, here’s how Hong Kong’s top chefs and restaurateurs are shaking up the local scene.
Through Art & Extremes: Alvin Leung Jr. of Bo Innovation
Walking into Bo Innovation is a bit like entering a parallel universe — and that is exactly what the chef wants. Also known as ‘The Demon Chef’, Alvin Leung Jr.’s take on local cuisine is very much like an art form, with of course, a rather edgy twist. Much like Picasso’s work, chef Alvin aims to break down Chinese food into its core, and present them in new, modern ways.
Using cutting-edge, innovative techniques, each dish is created to reflect a specific experience, and some can take up to months to perfect. Decor-wise, the restaurant adopts a Zen approach for interiors that truly add to the experience. While the team is definitely alternative — most sporting tattoos and multicoloured hair — everyone is unified by a shared passion towards the food, so you can expect service that is at once warm and attentive.
Through French-ifying: Vicky Cheng of VEA
Relentlessly buzzing with some of the region’s most intrepid gourmands, VEA is a favourite amongst devotees of innovative dining. Here, chef Vicky Cheng utilises cutting-edge, French-ifying techniques for a menu that is innovative and refreshingly out of the box. Food is strictly fusion fare — think French fine-dining staples with Asian influences and a fun, contemporary twist.
French culinary techniques are impeccably executed on some of the best ingredients Hong Kong has to offer, for dishes that give you just the right balance between novelty and nostalgia. Expect just about anything, from the customary wholesome pasta dish, to local eccentricities such as sea cucumber. Much of the menu is inspired by the chef’s own values — namely, his interest in the precision and aesthetics behind modern French techniques — along with reverential nods to the flavours, textures, and cultures of his home.
Through Authenticity: Danny Yip of The Chairman
Hallowed as Asia’s top restaurant in 2021, The Chairman draws a steady crowd of discerning diners with its contemporary Canto-fare, brilliantly executed with fresh, locally-grown ingredients. The Michelin-starred establishment was opened by restaurateur Danny Yip, who makes it a point to put authenticity at the forefront and celebrate Hong Kong’s flavourful culinary traditions.
Age-old recipes are given a fun, contemporary twist, and the result is pretty irresistible. If you manage to get a table — it can sometimes take months to get a reservation — be sure to try their signature crab dish. Generously dipped in decade-old Chinese wine, clam juice, and rich chicken fat, it’s enjoyed with flat rice noodles and tastes absolutely divine.
Through Tradition: Wing-Keung Wong of Man Wah
Revered as one of the snazziest Chinese establishments in town, Man Wah ticks all the boxes when it comes to exceptional Canto-fare and lavish decor. Overlooking Victoria Harbour from the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, the restaurant is helmed by chef Wong Wng-Keung, who makes it a point to fly the flag for local culinary traditions.
Dishes put authenticity at the forefront, and range from beloved dumplings, to the likes of smoked codfish, succulent barbecue pork, and of course, the customary Peking duck. While it can be difficult to pick from such an extensive menu, a highlight here is definitely the deep-fried mushroom pudding, which provides a Cantonese, fine-dining twist on a storied dish that dates all the way back to the Qing Dynasty. We’re also big fans of the deep-fried prawn and braised pork belly. The restaurant has recently undergone renovations, with an expanded bar area that provides specialty teas, and a pretty extensive selection of cocktails and wines.
Through Sustainability: Shane Osborn of Arcane
While buzzwords such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘seasonality’ have dominated Hong Kong’s F&B scene for quite some time now, it’s always nice to see the various ways it’s being approached. On that frontier, critically-acclaimed chef Shane Osborn is among the names making waves. The president of sustainability consultancy Food Made Good, much of his work is dedicated towards ensuring that food enjoyed outside of the home is as sustainable as possible.
Helming the kitchens at Arcane, he serves up classic Western flavours and European cuisine, all from a private, sanctum-like nook in the center of Hong Kong’s prime business district. Dishes put seasonal ingredients and — of course — sustainability at the forefront, with a big focus on the fresh and seasonal. From the specials, to a la carte options and lunch menus, each item here is carefully prepared, and we’re often blown away by the impeccable plating.
Indulgent experiences awaits in Hong Kong! Find out more at discoverhongkong.com.