The Loop HK Dining Eguide 2021

Page 1

THE BEST OF HONG KONG

g n i n Di EGUIDE

FALL 2021

WHAT'S INSIDE

30 BEST EATS WINNERS WHERE TO GO ALFRESCO CHEF TALKS NOSTALGIC TREATS


Dining Eguide Fall 2021

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Contents 05

Go Alfresco It's the perfect weather to dine outside!

12

Nostalgic Treats We reminisce over some Old Hong Kong snacks

15 People Spotlight We talk to the city's luminous F&B personalities

22 30 Best Eats 2021 Celebrating this year's F&B stars with our annual dining awards series



THE GREAT OUTDOORS WITH THE WEATHER COOLING DOWN, NOW'S THE BEST TIME TO CHECK OUT THESE ALFRESCO HAUNTS BY FAYE BRADLEY

Hong Kong is blessed with a sub-tropical climate, and luckily we get sunny days a lot of the time. So, it's no surprise that many restaurants choose an open-air layout to embrace the year-round pleasant weather. Offering dishes from the mountains of Peru to the street vendors of Thailand, here are some of the best alfresco restaurants in Hong Kong to cater to every palate. Louise Helmed by Chef Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore, Louise is set within the arts hub PMQ for the cook's second successful venture. Garnering its first Michelin star within less than half a year of opening, this gem is an incredibly popular destination. Rendered in a 1930s-colonial-themed interior, Louise spans over two floors – downstairs for drinks and snacks, and upstairs as the main dining room. Before you tuck into the delightful French menu, however, sip on cocktails at the chic alfresco terrace and embrace the cool summer breeze. PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, 28660300. Open Tuesday to Sunday 12:00pm to 10:00pm.


ICHU TERRAZA Inspired by the mountainous terrain of Peru, ICHU TERRAZA takes you on an Amazonian escape in the middle of Central. Waltz into this green space – decked with dozens of lush and exotic plants – to transport yourself away from the city noise. South American tunes fill the air, while the outdoor bar serves innovative cocktails to keep you up all night. If you're feeling hungry, head back inside to try ICHU Peru's scrumptious Peruvian dishes. Don't forget to take a snap with Pedro the Alpaca, the restaurant's comical mascot. 3/F, Central H Queens Building, 80 Queen's Road Central, Central, 2477-7717. Open every day 12:00pm to 10:00pm. Sip Song With so many beautiful beaches across the city, it's no surprise that many are filled with alfresco eateries for beach bums on a weekend retreat. Sip Song is a casual beachside getaway in Repulse Bay, serving modern Thai dishes in a trendy, upbeat setting. The restaurant focuses on 'the big four flavors' – sweet, spicy, sour and salty. Test your spice tolerance here – or play it safe by asking for less chilis. Shop 114 & 115, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, 2328-8385. Open every day 11:30am to 4:00pm, 6:00pm to 9:30pm. HEXA In Tsim Sha Tsui's Ocean Terminal Extension, HEXA boasts an incredible 270-degree view of the harbor. Specializing in dim sum and Chinese dishes, the restaurant uses premium ingredients in a sophisticated setting to set up its atmosphere. As one of the lesser-known alfresco restaurants in Hong Kong, this spot is a popular haven for date nights, business meetings and cocktail evenings alike. Shop OTE 101, Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 25771668. Open every day, times vary.



Namo Avant Thai Restaurant

Another Thai eatery worth visiting is Mody Road's Namo Avant Thai, an expansive alfresco diner serving delectable favorites. The fiery dishes make the visit well worth it, with highlights including the tuk tuk tofu and the chef's signature XLO. Perfect for bigger crowds, this allday restaurant brings a cheery crowd day-in day-out. Shop G18, Empire Centre, 68 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2739-1133. Open every day 12:00pm to 12:00am.

2084 Sai Kung is filled with alfresco restaurants – it was once a fishing village after all. One of the more recent openings, 2084 is a vegan eatery serving contemporary Indianinspired dishes. Famous orders include the momos and of course, the unmissable peking tacos. 5 Sha Tsui Path, Sai Kung, 3488-0536. Open every day 11:00am to 10:00pm.


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Shore Hospitality Group is an F&B company in Hong Kong that focuses on exquisite dining experiences and top-notch service, offering four renowned brands in nine venues. Mark Cholewka, the founder, is a distinguished chef that has cooked for an impressive clientele list that includes Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton and Lee Kwan Yew. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the veteran launched Shore, The Salted Pig, The Blind Pig, Cull N’ Pistol and The Pizza Pig in TKO. Already love the 30-inch-long pizzas and Shore’s signature Crispy Pork Knuckle at The Pizza Pig? The Restaurant is also opening on HK Island in early 2022! Stay tuned for more. shorehospitality.com.hk


Bib n Hops For casual Korean eats, Bib n Hops is part of Quarry Bay's Tong Chong Street strip that features an abundance of alfresco restaurants. Stop by to dine outside and soak in the energetic vibes. You'll see many post-work happy hour goers and locals dining at this establishment, where everyone is welcoming and friendly. 33 Tong Chong Street, Quarry Bay, 2882-9300. Open every day 11:30am to 10:30pm.

Amalfitana Another popular beach eatery, Amalfitana is a heartwarming pizza spot for hungry bellies. Taking inspiration from the Amalfi Coast, the décor is minimal and features an open-air construction to allow the natural breeze to come through. Order a classic pizza and salad to feel the beachside ambiance with your pals. G/F, The Pulse, 28, 105 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, 2388-7787. Open every day 12:00pm to 10:00pm.

ZENG This Causeway Bay sanctuary showcases stunning views of the city from its alfresco space. ZENG's menu features a mix of Asian and Western varieties, with oysters being one of the most popular offerings. To complement the exquisite eats, the cocktail menu is just as noteworthy – be sure to order the Chinese Old Fashioned for a twist on the classic. 30/F, V Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 2353-0053. Open every day 12:00pm to 10:00pm.


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catch.hk / 2855 1289


SIX SNACKS TO MAKE US NOSTALGIC

THROWBACK TREATS By Suchetana Koel

Photo: Seet Ying Lai/Flickr

Stuffed Three Treasures Despite the name, this dish is actually an assortment of many fried items, from eggplants and tofu to bell peppers and bitter melons — all stuffed with minced fish paste and sometimes served with soy sauce. Though perhaps not the healthiest way to have veggies, it sure is tasty enough. The ones at Wen Kee Traditional Che Zai Noodle Restaurant ( , G/F, 55 Ngau Tau Kok Road, Kowloon Bay, 27070082) are worth a try.

文記傳

統車仔麵茶餐廳

Maltose Crackers

Photo: Jowene/Flickr

This golden-colored goodie is pretty elusive these days, but was quite popular in the 1950s and 60s, thanks to its perfect combination of crisp saltine crackers on the outside and sweet, gooey maltose syrup on the inside. Held together by a pair of chopsticks, the maltose crackers are ideal for consuming on the go but can be a bit messy if you’re not quick enough. Today, you won’t find them in most shops, but the good news is that they’re pretty easy to make at home. If that’s too much of a hassle, then have a look around Kam Sheung Road Flea Market ( , Kam Sheung Road, Yuen Long), which is known for stocking forgotten snacks of yesteryear.

錦上路跳蚤市場

Photo: Ralf Gervink/Pixabay

Airplane Olives Old-timers in Hong Kong would remember vendors roaming around with olive-shaped green buckets, selling bite-sized snacks “airplane olives” marinated in licorice. The snacks got their name from the way the trade was conducted – as the buildings were then only a few stories high, the sellers would take an accurate aim and throw their treats onto the balconies, and people would throw down their money in return. As buildings got taller and taller, these treats became rarer, but you can still get them at traditional shops like Taiwan King of Kings Food Co. Ltd ( , 65 Hau Wong Rd, Kowloon City, 2382-0678).

公司

台灣皇上皇食品有限


Fake Shark Fin Soup While shark fin soup has been condemned for its cruelty to sharks, its cheaper, more eco-friendly version has been widespread on Hong Kong’s streets since the 1960s. Along Temple Street, small-time vendors would collect the broken parts of shark fins discarded by Chinese restaurants and mix them in a broth of vermicelli or glass noodles, mushroom, pork and beaten eggs. It became an instant hit due to its low cost, varied ingredients and sumptuous flavours. Later on, an edible gelatinous substance — or ‘fake fins’ — came to be added to the soup. Sample it yourself at the Michelin Guide-recommended Tower 18 Doggie’s Noodle ( , G/F, 27A Ning Po Street, Jordan, 2153-0369).

Photo: Neo Batfreak/Wiki Commons

十八座狗仔粉

Red Bean Pudding Red bean, rice flour and sugar may be humble ingredients in themselves, but combined, the resulting red bean pudding makes a perfectly delicious dessert molded into porcelain bowls or aluminium cups and propped up on skewers. These warm, sticky, chewy treats are said to have originated in Taishan in Guangdong province, China. They are most popular around Ching Ming Festival, but you can also get them all year round at local dessert shops such as Kwan Kee Store ( , 115-117 Fuk Wa Street, Kowloon, 23600328).

坤記糕品專

Photo: Tin ha Hon Tong Tai Chung/Wiki Commons

Tofu Fa This soft tofu pudding is everything you can ask for in a dessert – sweet, smooth, silky and melting in you mouth. Typically served cold with a generous helping of red sugar, it’s just the kind of treat you need to endure Hong Kong’s heat. It’s also considered to be good for your health because of its cooling properties and very high fiber content, so it’s perfect for a spot of guilt-free indulgence. Head to Kung Wo Tofu Factory ( , G/F, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po, 2386-6871) for a taste of the real thing.

公和荳品廠

Photo: CP Joseph/Wiki Commons


Partner Content

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with DANIEL EUN BY GAYATRI BHAUMIK

Over the last years, Daniel Eun has quietly been making a name for himself on the bar scene—both here and in the US. The first head bartender of New York City’s Please Don’t Tell (PDT), he was instrumental in turning the bar into a global icon. Later, he went home to Los Angeles to help open The Varnish, which went on to gain acclaim for its elevated craft cocktails. After working with a slew of other much-lauded bars in the US—including The Normandie Club and The Walker Inn— Daniel set his sights on Asia and now has several ventures in Hong Kong, including the recently-opened OBP. Alongside Esdras Ochoa, he developed 11 Westside in Kennedy Town, one of the city’s go-to for quality tacos, and was the driving force behind the adjacent drinking hole, The Wilshire Bar. Now, several years after that opening, Daniel decided to bring a slice of his Korean heritage to Hong Kong in the form of OBP. We talked to Daniel about creating quality cocktails, developing a restaurant and bar in a global pandemic, and why Hong Kong needed a touch of Korean drinking culture.


HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE DRINKS BUSINESS? My answer to this question seems to evolve as time goes on—which probably means I didn’t have a singular moment that led me to decide to start bartending. I do know that getting back into the business after a brief foray into only practicing law happened after giving myself one of those “where do you see yourself in five years?” conversations. After a good 40 days of self-evaluation, I knew I wanted to be a bar owner. Every career decision from that point on was in pursuit of that dream. That was six years ago, so I guess it’s worked out so far. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES A GOOD COCKTAIL? A good cocktail is probably just one someone somewhere appreciates. A great cocktail is much harder to achieve. It needs to be balanced, but unique. Nostalgic, but new. All while somehow not coming off as precious or pretentious. A lot of good cocktails are probably sacrificed in the pursuit of a great one. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR CREATING YOUR COCKTAILS? As cliché as it sounds, inspiration can and does come from anywhere. It could be something from childhood, a new flavor discovered while out in the market, a song, an event in history, or anything else. It took me awhile to learn that creativity is a skill that can and needs to be developed—so I guess by constantly looking for inspiration, I find it? These days, I spend a lot of time tasting at research and development sessions with younger bartenders where they come up with all these crazy new ideas. WHAT’S YOUR PROCESS FOR CREATING A DRINK? Each drink is different, but I now take more time than ever in the pre-stages. It’s a lot of mapping out ingredients, tasting different flavor combinations, laying out a framework for the menu and seeing what holes need to be filled, researching different techniques, then making sure no one else has done the exact thing before. After a week or two of brainstorming, I’ll start tasting and see if it works and tweak from there. Then I’ll usually walk away for a week or so to give myself some distance; test again; rinse-repeat. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE STANDOUT MOMENTS OF YOUR CAREER? There was a guy who used to come into the bar by himself almost every other day right when we opened, around 6pm. He would get a neat pour of whisky, drink it, pay the bill, and leave. He had the “don’t approach me” vibe, so it was more of a silent interaction between the two of us; him enjoying his 15 minutes with his whisky, me usually finishing up prep or wiping bottles or something.

Over several visits to the bar, his walls slowly came down, I learned he worked at a bank nearby, and this was his breather before heading back to the office. One day, we were a little busier during open than usual, and he leaned over and asked, “Hey, what’s up with those cocktail things?” A few more visits later, he was bringing friends in to share his new favorite, gimlets. Another time, there was a random person at one of the first trainings I ran at a bar I was managing. I was confused as to who this late addition was, but was told later that she would be our host/server and had experience at one of the busiest restaurants in the city. At the end of her first shift, she cried because she’d been overwhelmed—she confessed that she’d never held a tray before; I’d totally overhyped her experience at said restaurant, and she wanted to make sure we didn’t have unrealistic expectations. Flash-forward three years and she had my old job and was the General Manager until the pandemic shut them down.

People crave community YOU USUALLY SPLIT YOUR TIME BETWEEN THE US AND HONG KONG. WHAT HAVE YOU NOTICED ABOUT THE DRINKING CULTURE AND BAR SCENES IN BOTH PLACES? People love drinking! But, more than that, people crave community. 2020 made that so much more evident than before. HOW DID THE IDEA FOR OBP COME ABOUT? I just stole everything I loved about going out in Korea and Koreatown and threw it together. YOU’RE ALSO PART OF THE TEAM BEHIND 11 WESTSIDE/THE WILSHIRE BAR IN KENNEDY TOWN. WHY CHOOSE TO GO IN THIS DIRECTION? I love cocktails and I love tacos, but I’m a Korean American kid from Los Angeles. That experience is such a huge part of my life, and it always felt weird that there was a wall separating those two lives when it came to my professional life. I wanted people to experience that same joy I have walking into my favorite soju spots. Also, I needed an excuse to have Korean food for our family meal every day. It was ultimately a pretty selfish move. You developed and opened OBP in the midst of a pandemic.



WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES (OR OPPORTUNITIES) YOU FACED? Thanks to the pandemic, I spent an abnormal amount of time in LA over the last year. There was an opportunity to reconnect with that community and spend a lot of time “researching” while I was there. The other opportunity—which might be weird to say—was that we got to have a proper soft opening. It’s often hard to have an organic soft opening in Hong Kong because the city moves so quickly. But, having to deal with restrictions also meant that we were also not going to get overwhelmed before we were ready—it allowed the team to gel and for us to troubleshoot a lot of issues while serving a limited number of guests (and limited party sizes). Obviously, I would love to be busier, but that’s the silver lining I want to focus on. BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC, YOU WERE STUCK IN THE US WHILE DEVELOPING OBP AND HAD TO DO A LOT OF THINGS REMOTELY. WHAT WAS THIS LIKE? Thank God for the internet for making this even possible. There were many, many video calls where I had my partner, Jon, moving through the space for me so I could pretend I was there as I drew out plans for the bar. I would literally have him tilt his phone up and down while standing where we imagined the bartender would stand to see where the sink should go, and then side to side to see sightlines, for example. A lot of it was trusting him to make things pretty, which he always does, and the contractors to get it right. I definitely helped that this wasn’t my first time building a bar in Hong Kong; I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this if it was my first go-around. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE DRINKS LIST AT OBP? WHERE DID YOU DRAW INSPIRATION AND WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE? I felt an inordinate amount of pressure with this menu because it was my first time really doing something “Korean.” I wanted to make my people proud—even though cocktails were probably going to take a back seat to the overall beverage offerings here at OBP. I incorporated and highlighted as many Korean ingredients and flavors as possible, while keeping the general experience in mind. I was excited to play with balance in a different way than American cocktails tend to skew, but that meant most of my established ratios didn’t work in the same way that I’ve grown accustomed to. The creative process was mostly me going on wild tangents about Korean things and having people rein me in and say, “Okay, so what do you want in the glass?”

As someone who is usually the one structuring creativity, I needed someone else to step into that role for me and literally just write down on paper all my random thoughts so we could approach things systematically. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THE FOOD MENU AND DECIDE WHAT TO PAIR WITH THE DRINKS? Can I cop out and just say we hired the right chef and trusted him and his team to get the job done? I think they did an incredible job, and they continue to improve as we gain experience and time in that kitchen. The menu did go through a lot of changes from its first inception, though— there are at least 20-30 dishes on the cutting room floor. Some may come back in the future, but many won’t. Not because they weren’t delicious, but because we lost focus halfway through the pre-opening because we were all so greedy and we all had this gaping hole for more Korean things in Hong Kong. We had a moment where we all sat down and had to tell each other that we couldn’t be every Korean restaurant for every Korean person. We had to focus our menu, and we figured that we’d had a vision for this place before we ever turned on a stove, so we should at least try to execute that first. Luckily for us, Korean food has an entire category meant to be paired with drinking called “an-ju” ( ) (in Chinese: ), which is literally food for alcohol. So that’s where we focused our attention. Every dish is meant to complementary to the drinking experience.

안주

按酒

WHAT DO YOU HOPE GUESTS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR EXPERIENCE AT OBP? We want people to have fun and be happy here. As long as that’s happening, we’re doing our jobs. WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? Maybe a new cocktail menu for 11 Westside? Each one is more ambitious than the one before it, and this one is very personal to me, so there’s a lot of my energy and attention going into that. In terms of new venues, there’s nothing concrete yet, but there are a lot of ideas in our collective think tank. It really comes down to finding the right spaces and then getting the team together to execute the concept we feel best matches the space— this is actually the third space we seriously considered for a Korean spot. But first, I just want to see OBP fully realized without dining restrictions.

I wanted to make my people proud


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The

ARTISANS

Photo: Bryant Law (L), October Chu

Infiniti C's October Chu and Bryant Law talk gluten-free, vegan and keto Specializing in gluten-free, vegan and keto menus, Infiniti C is a pioneer in Hong Kong’s diverse dining scene. We speak to Pastry Director October Chu and Founder Bryant Law on what it takes to own and manage one of the city’s favorite bakeries.

How did you get into the baking/cafe industry? Bryant: My first experience of working in a cafe was in London, when I was in uni. At first, working in a cafe was merely paying my bills – but I longer work in a cafe. I realized that coffee is so much more than just a caffeinated beverage. There are so many different varieties, different brewing methods, different flavors and so much more. So when I returned back to Hong Kong in 2012 and worked as a Barista at a local chain coffee shop, I also obtained the SCA-Specialty Coffee Association Golden Cup and Certified Barista Specialty Coffee Level 1 and 2 qualifications. In 2018, I set up my own cafe: Infiniti C.

What makes a good cafe? Bryant: Our primary motive is coffee obviously, but I always wanted to open a cafe that has a low carbon footprint and can be as eco-friendly as possible. That’s why we try to use as many raw ingredients as possible, not only for freshness but also so that they are free from chemicals. They also produce less carbon footprints. I also believe menu choices are very important for a cafe because most of the time the food served in cafes has a stronger flavor. Heavily-seasoned red meats usually also have a stronger flavor and it can affect our taste buds when we taste our coffee after meals, so food pairing is also part of my decision when it comes to ingredient selection. We serve mainly vegetarian and vegan food with light seasoning and raw ingredients, so you can enjoy the food without worrying about blocking your palate with chemicals and heavy seasoning.


Where do you get inspiration for curating your menus?

What do you consider to be the standout moments of your career?

What's your favorite thing about what you do?

Bryant: My initial ideas for the menu were low carbon and zero waste. But as we all know, it is very hard to find a company to actually recycle in Hong Kong – although there are more options now. Mainly, we want to provide food that produces a lower carbon footprint. It is very difficult to find a healthy meal in Hong Kong, and it is extremely difficult to maintain a healthy balance when Hongkongers are all busy striving for their living. That's why we provide for different healthy food diets like gluten-free, vegan, keto.

October: Many people are unable to eat cake if they have certain allergies. For me, my standout moment is to be able to provide a birthday cake free from specific ingredients at Infiniti C.

October: My favorite part about what we do is helping to create custom cakes for customers in need of something personalized and free from their serious food allergies.

Can you tell us some of the signature items on the menu?

You have multiple locations across HK. What makes each one unique?

October: Yes, the most popular item is the Gluten-Free Keto Cake – Signature Blue Earl Grey. We use top-grade organic earl grey tea, Japanese almond flour and avocado oil. We make all of our drink bases, so we don't use any artificial syrup or coloring. Everything we create is made on our own and from natural ingredients.

Bryant: I like bringing new excitement to our customers, therefore each shop is a different design and has its own character.

What's your creative process for creating food and drinks? October: I normally research what flavor customers like in general, or popular childhood or classic traditional flavors. I don't need my cakes to be creative. My main objective is for everyone to be able to enjoy my cakes worry-free and for them to be able to consume them repeatedly – which is the most important thing for me.

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You offer a lot of unique cakes that cater for different diets. What is the importance of gluten-free baking? October: Gluten-free baking depends on how you match your ingredients. Although our gluten-free cake base mainly uses rice flour, we use four different sources of rice flour to bring out the best texture. Not only is it tasty, but it also helps digestion.

What's next for you? Bryant: We are recently promoting our roastery: FIVE ELEMENTS COFFEE ROASTERS. Yes, we roast our own coffee beans. We are discussing with a few coffee farmers for direct trade green coffee. That way, we can ensure that all farmers fully get what they deserve without needing to pay the middleman. Also, this will produce less carbon footprints and allow for more traceability of the coffee. And my fifth Infinici C outlet will open soon at TST Ocean Centre. Everyone, please stay tuned for the new announcement!


Our humble readers and veteran reviewers at The Loop HK have once again decided on their favorite places to grab a bite, go on a date, enjoy brunch and feast with friends for our annual 30 Best Eats awards. This year, there are many new faces as well as plenty of veterans on the list. The Loop HK wishes a sincere congratulations to all of the winners and those who were shortlisted for the 30 Best Eats 2021 awards. Read on for the final results! Feature written by Joseph Lam


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1. Best New Restaurant

TMK Rap & Rolls This relative newcomer to Wan Chai has turned a lot of heads since its humble opening at the beginning of the year. Despite its cozy size, TMK Rap & Rolls packs a wealth of flavors in its signature temakis and nori bowls, all served with a side of rap in a spin-off to its original punk-rock themed Sheung Wan staple. The likes of Wagyu Beef tartare and soft shell crab temakis have won over much of Hong Kong and thus the Best New Restaurant in The Loop HK’s Best Eats 2021. As for the decor, it’s light on furniture, bright with colors and really rather pleasing. Moonful Court, Shop A, G/F, 17A Moon Street, Wan Chai, 2779-9002.

Shortlist: Roji, Radical Chic, Whey, CENSU


2. Best New Bar

The Diplomat The Diplomat is no stranger to receiving high calibre awards, this year taking out the best new entry title in Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Its elegant styling and stellar cocktail menu has it also crowned as Best New Bar in 30 Best Eats 2021. The Diplomat is known for its classics, including a whisky sour as well as its mini cocktails such as a negroni available at $50. In true diplomat fashion, the bar itself is located by a number of galleries and is home to a private area accessible only with a referral from another member. Shop 1, LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, 3619-0302.

Shortlist: Barcode, Kyle & Bain, ARGO, Wood Ear


3. Best Restaurateur

Black Sheep Restaurants What does Punjab Club, Taqueria Super Macho and Fukuro all have in common? A Punjab grill house, a nofuss

Mexican

eatery

and

a

Japanese

izakaya,

respectively, it wouldn’t be surprising if you guessed very little. Behind the three and 22 other restaurants including Burger Circus and Canto Club is Black Sheep Restaurants, a story-themed hospitality group founded by Syed Asim Hussain (pictured) and Christopher Mark that is slowly but surely taking over Hong Kong’s dining scene, having opened more than two dozen restaurants in its just-about-10 years of operations.

Shortlist: Pirata Group, JIA Group, ZS Hospitality, Tastings Group


4. Best Chef

Richard Ekkebus With two Michelin stars up his sleeve since 2008, Richard

Ekkebus

needs

no

introduction.

As

the

executive chef of Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, he has turned heads in Hong Kong's dining scene for many years. Described as a forward thinker, Ekkebus is known for developing menus that don’t just cater to fine dining tastes but also the next generation, with Amber focused on developing an interactive yet elegant experience for everyone, including millennials and beyond.

Shortlist: Vicky Cheng @ WING Restaurant, Li Yuet Faat @ Ming Court, Manav Tuli @ Chaat, Olivier Elzer @ L’Envol


5. Best Mixologist

Alvin Ching If you’ve ever warmed a stool by the bar or, more simply, even enjoyed the view from the balcony of Sugar at EAST Hong Kong, then it's every bit likely your drink was shaken, mixed or poured by Alvin Ching. The freshfaced mixologist isn’t your average bartender, but rather one that likes to toy with your emotions… in an ever so delightful sense. A number of his cocktails were inspired from memories. For one that is sad, he’ll add a pinch of lemon or salt, an ingredient, which he says, represents tears that impart bitterness.

Shortlist: Mackenzie Ross @ Cruise, Veronica Lam @ Hugger Mugger, John Nugent @ Kyle & Bain, Leo Ko @ Alibi- Wine, Dine, Be Social


6. Best Rooftop Bar / Restaurant

Terrible Baby The experience at this humble bar and restaurant at Eaton HK begins outside via a small glass lift on Pak Hoi Street. Patrons ride to its fourth floor location via a neon-lit and retro glass elevator, which offers a glimpse of the dedicated lifestyle space that is the Mong Kok lifestyle destination, plush with an in-house cinema, coworking areas and a pool. Terrible Baby shares the neon-lit bar experience but outside lies a lush outdoor space, fitted with outdoor lounges and a number of plants. The menu here doesn’t conform to that one might expect of a rooftop bar, serving up the likes of okonomiyaki shrimp toast alongside freak shows — a cocktail concocting passionfruit syrup, lager and Thai red chilli syrup. 4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, 2710-1866.

Shortlist: SKYE, Red Sugar, Sugar, Cruise


7. Best Chinese

Ming Court (Mongkok) Progressive and upscale dishes from Michelin-starred chefs including a steamed spotted garoupa filet and the breaded stuffed crab shell have won over some of Hong Kong’s biggest critics at Ming Court in Mongkok's Cordis, Hong Kong hotel. These dishes pair nicely with champagne in a chic yet elegant venue, themed in moon-lit tones. 6/F, 555 Shanghai Street, Cordis, Mong Kok, 35523028.

Shortlist: Yat Tung Heen, Sha Tin 18, Man Ho Chinese Restaurant, Mott 32


8. Best East Asian (Excl. Chinese)

The Aubrey Set upon the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, The Aubrey had a lot of expectations to live up to ahead of its grand opening in February — and meet them it has. As expected of an Izakaya, there’s a healthy number of highballs to be enjoyed alongside the likes of a wagyu oxtail and bone marrow fried rice, a plentiful sushi and sashimi menu and even a brunch menu. Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, 2825-4001.

ㅇㅂㅍ, Yokai, Sushi Kuu,

Shortlist: Obp. Hansik Goo


9. Best South / Southeast Asian

Bibi & Baba Bibi & Baba sure brought spice to the neighborhood late last year when they opened their first Wan Chai outfit. Described as a marriage of cultures, the restaurant, opened

in

partnership

between

JIA

Group

and

a

Singaporean duo, fuses Indonesian and Malay dishes with Chinese ingredients in a cuisine style known as Nyonya. While you will find the likes of nasi lemak and laksa here, it won’t be cooked in the way you’ve come to know. 1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, 2555-0228.

Shortlist: Whey, Rajasthan Rifles, Chaat, J.A.M


10. Best French

Louise Louise made quite the entrance to Hong Kong mid-2019 on the back of its owner, chef Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore, taking the coveted spot of Asia’s best restaurant from four-time winner Gaggan from Bangkok. The two-floor restaurant bar has continued its winning streak this year, awarded best French cuisine in Hong Kong by The Loop HK’s readers. Set across a 1930s colonial style layout, Louise serves an elegant à la carte fine dining set upstairs and an all-day snacking menu downstairs by the bar. 35 Aberdeen Street, PMQ, Central, 2866-0300.

Shortlist: BELON, Caprice, LPM Restaurant & Bar, Batard


11. Best Italian

Frank's Italian American It’s hard to say no to a Lasagna Fritta — which is part of the reason why the humble Frank’s Italian American has taken the top spot this year among the city's Italian restaurants. Part of the charm lies not just within the venue itself or in the menu but rather the warm hospitality that is offered. Not far from Lan Kwai Fong, Frank’s serves as a great place to hang out with friends while enjoying a Tom Collins and live DJs. Harilela House, G/F-1/F, 79 Wyndham Street, Central, 9097-9730.

Shortlist: Pirata, Mostaccioli Brothers, Grissini’s, Octavium


12. Best Spanish

The Optimist The Optimist needs no introduction. A Wan Chai staple since late 2015, the three-floor bar and grill is known widely for its seafood, a favourite of which is the juicy lobster rice. Among other top contenders are the “daddy’s tomahawk”, 1.4kg monster made of Australian angus beef ribeye, served on the bone, of course. At its core, The Optimist serves northern Spanish cuisine and a side of fruity cocktails. G/F-2/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2433-3324.

Shortlist: Quiero Mas, Ando, Rubia, La Rambla


13. Best Middle Eastern / Mediterranean

BEDU BEDU has enjoyed a solid almost three years in Sheung Wan, where its modern Middle Eastern cuisine has adjusted well to the palates of well-heeled locals. Part of the beauty of BEDU is not just the colorful crowd it draws, but its colorful dishes. The likes of beetroot labneh and Turkish kisses with a healthy amount of cream and strawberries sit well with the restaurant's pink-lit bar. 40 Gough Street, Central.

Shortlist: Artemis & Apollo, Maison Libanaise, ACME, FRANCIS


14. Best Fine Dining

Amber In its 16th year, Amber has continually put Hong Kong on the world map for its award-winning cuisine. Head chef Richard Ekkebus, also this year’s best chef, has long advocated against what he refers to as “museum restaurants”: those who just never seem to change their menu. “Food shouldn’t be set in stone” is his motto. One of Amber’s most celebrated dishes is the Corn ˚ Kristal Schrenki Caviar ˚ Seawater ˚ Sudachi ˚ (pictured). Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, 2132-0066.

Shortlist: Arbor, L’Envol, Caprice, HAKU


15. Best Casual Dining

DiVino Patio While DiVino Patio – Ristorante Bar Pizzeria is as casual as they come, its menu packs enough punch to knock your socks off during a midday meal. The cozy red-brick outfit is charmingly quaint, with an old-fashioned Italian grocer appeal to it — the outdoor terrace adds an aflresco touch. Beyond its simple chalkboards and deli counter is a bountiful menu of handmade pastas and fresh catch by chef Omar Agostini, who's worked with the likes of Alain Ducasse. Shop 11, 1/F, Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2877-3552.

Shortlist: Lady Nara, Sichuan Lab, The Commune, La Creperie


16. Best Brand

La Vache! Paying homage to old Parisian steakhouses, the La Vache! restaurants are hard to miss and even harder to forget. Who hasn’t seen the neon-lit cow hanging outside their hallmark Central branch? Inside, each venue consists of wine bottle-lined walls, red and white checkered table clothes and a menu of prime rib eye, salted frites and organic salad. It’s simple, but it stands out.

Shortlist: Pici, Classified, Green Common, The Butchers Club Burger


17. Best Date Night

Zuma Dining at Zuma is a fun affair. Brightly colored decor, an array of Japanese dishes and a number of cocktails sure make it easy to spark up a conversation. With a concept that’s proved successful for just shy of two decades across the globe, including branches in Istanbul, Dubai, Miami, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Datca Peninsula, New York, Rome and Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that Zuma is a favorite pick for a date night. 5-6/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, 3657-6388.

Shortlist: Divino – Wine Bar & Restaurant, Mirage Bar & Restaurant, Wooloomooloo (Wan Chai), WHISK


18. Best FamilyFriendly Affair

Pizza Express (North Point) If there’s one place where kids can make a mess and not draw the attention of every diner within a 10-meter radius, it’s Pizza Express North Point. The family-oriented casual restaurant is a popular choice for the city’s parents, with baby chinos, kid-size pizzas and pastas and hot chocolate winning over what’s often a hard-to-please crowd. Aside from the kid-oriented meals, there’s a number of childrenfriendly activities provided like color-in menus and games to keep the youngsters busy. Shop 218-219, 2/F, Phase 2, Harbour North, 123 Java Road, North Point, 3164-1311.

Shortlist: El Charro Mexicana Cantina, Oolaa (Tseung Kwan O), Hapi, The Salted Pig (Sai Wan Ho)


19. Best Lunch Deal

Pici (Wan Chai) Hongkongers are savvy folks and it’s not surprising we love a good deal. From coffee and bagel combos to happy hours, cheap Tuesdays and two-for-one deals, the city's dwellers are always scouring the city in search of their favorite specials. This year the prized lunch deal title belongs to Pici (Wan Chai), which deals in two, three and four-course offers where you can add a cuppa for as little as $10. From $98 one can enjoy a twocourse meal of tagliolini arrabiatta and cauliflower soup, with a tiramisu dessert at just $10 more. G/F, 16 St Francis Yard, Wan Chai, 2755-5523.

Shortlist: Sushi Nyoi, 11 Westside, CIAK, Yu


20. Best Brunch

Cruise Cruise is known for its beautiful sunset views over Victoria Harbour but equally as impressive is the selection of brunch dishes it serves up. A combination of warm sun and a lunch and bubbles menu that includes cocktails, prosecco and Indonesian beef short ribs on the rooftop of the Hyatt Centric make for a great place to relax on a weekend. A healthy number of salads, wokfried noodle dishes and pork belly rice line the a la carte menu. 23/F, West Tower, Hyatt Centric Victoria Harbour Hong Kong, 1 North Point Estate Lane, North Point, 3896-9898.

Shortlist: Honjo, Zuma, CATCH (Quarry Bay), Holt’s Cafe


21. Best Afternoon Tea

The Butterfly Room The Butterfly Room’s afternoon tea has become so popular since the Rosewood Hotel opened in 2019 that it can take up to two months to nab a seat. But well worth it, say The Loop HK raiders, who among thousands of others

have

decadent

tried

the

cheesecakes,

offering scrolls,

firsthand. tuna

and

Expect avocado

numbers, handmade chocolate, scones and, of course, tea. Talk about a pleasant afternoon! Rosewood Hong Kong Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3891-8732.

Shortlist: SEVVA, Garden Lounge, Palm Court, GREEN


22. Best Dim Sum

Dynasty Perhaps one of the most controversial of all debates is who offers Hong Kong’s best dim sum. There are many contenders, from the likes of high-end establishments to streetside venues serving well into the wee hours of the evening. Chef Suen Kam Sing's Dynasty has won the top spot in the 30 Best Eats 2021 list, for its impressive offering of shredded turnip baked puffs and steamed crab dumplings and its 600-strong wine list to match. In the evenings, Dynasty serves fine-dining Cantonese cuisine. Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2584-6972.

Shortlist: Yat Tung Heen, Social Place (Central), Fook Lam Moon (Wan Chai), Duddell’s


23. Best Vegetarian / Vegan

MANA! (Soho) In the heart of the pandemic last year, MANA! opened its biggest branch yet in the center of Soho. The health food specialist has become a go-to for not just Hong Kong’s

vegetarian

community

but

a

large

health-

conscious crowd. Aside from its vegan coffee, shakes and cakes, the main draw is MANA!’s flatbread range, which can be packed with nutella, peanut butter and banana in the mornings and pickled peppers and parsley come evenings. 8 Staunton Street, Central, 5501-7583.

Shortlist: TREEHOUSE, Soil to Soul, Ma…and the Seeds of Life, Gaia Veggie (Causeway Bay)


24. Best Cafe (Tea / Coffee)

%Arabica (Kennedy Town) % Arabica has made waves across Asia from Bangkok to Singapore to the trendy surrounds of Kennedy Town for its premium coffee offering. Aside from a typical Italian espresso menu you can find the likes of a Spanish latte served

with

condensed

milk;

matcha

lattes;

and

sparkling lemonade. Part of the charm here is the standout interior design that has become synonymous across Asia. Shop 4, Grand Fortune Mansion, 1 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, 2326-4578.

Shortlist: Tealosophy, Teakha, OMOTESANDO KOFFEE Hong Kong Lee Tung, Cafe Sausalito Studio


25. Best Baked Goods / Desserts

Pane e Latte Pane e Latte's panetteria and gelateria quickly garnered the support of its seaside locals in its posh Stanley home. As it turns out, pistachio and raspberry bombolini, hazelnut choux and an Italian coffee menu are a treat by the beach. This year’s award leaves no room for doubt that Pane e Latte has brought a little slice of the Amalfi Coast to the urban oasis that is Hong Kong. G/F, U-c Court, 25 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, 2337-7221.

Shortlist: Bakehouse (Wan Chai), Passion. Bakery Cafe (Wan Chai), DANG WEN LI by Dominique Ansel (Tsim Sha Tsui), Levain at PMQ


26. Best Buffet

The Market Tsim Sha Tsui is home to a number of hotel buffets, but The Market’s selection of four different kinds of buffet for four very different crowds is a standout. Ranging from $148 to $1000, The Market offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with a menu that includes croissants, champagne, durian ice cream, snow crab legs and classic dim sum. Beyond a little indulgence is the buffet staycation, an offering that pairs two buffet packages with a one-night stay. Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3400-1388.

Shortlist: Cafe Renaissance, FEAST (Food by EAST), The Astor, Cafe TOO


27. Best Design

Mott 32 Setting foot inside Mott 32’s calligraphy room feels a lot like walking into an underground metro with its alcoved ceiling. More than 2000 calligraphy brushes line the walls, all paying patronage to the ancient Chinese art. The restaurant decor, with all of its industrial-like interior set in a warm orange tone, is an experience in itself sprawled across a 7,500 square-foot space. Behind the design is architect Joyce Wang, known for such clever and interactive spaces. Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2885-8688.

Shortlist: MONO, Hutong, Interval | Farmacy, Salisterra


28. Best Takeaway / Delivery

R&R Bagels Tucked neatly into Central’s Li Yuen Street West since July 2016, R&R Bagels quickly branched out from its flagship venue to include two other stores in both Quarry Bay and Wan Chai. Popular orders include the everything bagel, jam-packed with feta cheese and smashed avocado, with a coffee to go. www.randrbagels.com/order

Shortlist: GO by Black Sheep Restaurants, JIA Everywhere, The Pizza Project, NOSH


29. Best Drink

ARGO Martini The ARGO martini from the eponymously named bar at the Four Seasons Hong Kong is this year’s most appreciated cocktail, a spin on the classic martini built with

a

gin

base

and

forever

changing

seasonal

hydrosols. The recent gin of choice has been an Australian number from Never Never distillery in the country’s Adelaide Hills region. Its subtle hints of kalamata olives, lemon thyme and somerton almonds hit the nose just delicately so.

Shortlist: Irish Coffee @ The Diplomat, Paloma de Oaxaca @ COA, Hobnail @ The Pontiac, A Moveable Feast @ Penicillin


30. Best Dish

La Langoustine de Loctudy For this year’s best dish, it appears that the saying all good things must come to an end is the case. The most coveted dish for 30 Best Eats 2021 was La Langoustine de Loctudy, a staple of L’Envol’s 2020 summer menu. Need

a

new

fixation?

The

restaurant

has

also

recommended Le Caviar Ocietre W3 – Brittany Razor clams with caviar, or ‘L’Oursin D’Hokkaido’ – Hokkaido sea urchin with gamberoni prawn, as new signature dishes to try.

Shortlist: Carnaroli Risotto @ Radical Chic, Unagi Paella @ CENSU, Lemongrass Roasted Chicken @ Lady Nara, Corn ˚ Salicornia ˚ Seawater ˚ Sudachi ˚@ AMBER (vegetarian menu)



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