Last year was a great one for Hong Kong’s F&B scene. As usual, we saw a huge offering of new openings and contenders for the Best New Restaurant and Best New Bar prizes, but we also saw a great surge in the Ethical Eats and Food Hero categories of restaurants and individuals doing good and making a difference. We are certain 2018 is going to offer another bumper crop of excellence, but before the votes come raining down on us, we thought we’d remind ourselves who won their way to your hearts through your stomachs last year at Foodie Forks 2017.
Best New Restaurant
Readers’ Choice went to Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercato, boasting fresh, innovative menus, ever changing with the seasons, while Editors’ Choice went to the spellbinding Nordic flavours and intensely intricate dishes from Frantzén’s Kitchen. Here are a couple of drool-inducing sweet shots from these two to get you thinking about your nominations this year:
Frantzén’s Kitchen’s smoked ice cream
Mercato’s salted caramel ice cream and popcorn
Best New Bar
Readers’ Choice was Ashley Sutton’s The Iron Fairies, a mesmerising bar with giant iron doors and accents in wood, brick and leather forging the space and more than 10,000 preserved butterflies suspended from the ceiling, resembling fairy dust. Sutton has since opened Yojimbo next door and Dear Lilly at ifc mall – will they earn him any votes this year? Editors’ Choice was Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour, a hidden little nook in glitzy LANDMARK that revolves around the blending of fine gin with aromatic botanicals. This was very much in keeping with the secretive speakeasy trend that’s continuing with Employees Only and Please Don’t Tell. We wonder if either of these will feature in this year’s Forks.
The Iron Fairies
Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour
The Readers’ Choice winner, Mott 32, is also one of our own personal faves for its fine patina of glamorous chinoiserie, tender Ibérico pork char siu and siu mai topped with caviar and quail’s egg. Will it keep your affections for this year’s honours too? Editors’ Choice went to VEA Restaurant and Lounge, which deservedly won a Michelin star in its first year of operation for its theatre-style kitchen showcasing mesmerising nightly cookery performances and innovative cocktail pairings.
VEA Restaurant and Lounge
Chef of the Year
Always an exciting category, last year‘s Readers’ Choice award went to enthusiastic and charismatic Peruvian chef Arturo Melendez of TokyoLima, which is still reigning as one of Hong Kong’s hottest dining options, while Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room and Bar won our Editors’ Choice distinction for her incredible “edible stories” that we devour cover to cover.
Chef Arturo Melendez
Chef Vicky Lau
Best Macau Restaurant
This category didn’t get a lot of love with the voters, so we decided to take the decision off your hands for this year’s awards. It was The Tasting Room that won your Readers’ Choice votes and Pearl Dragon that took home the Editors’ Choice prize last year.
Best Casual Restaurant
We’ve morphed this one into Trusted Fave for this year’s awards, so it can be more wide open when choosing the place you rely on for a regular bite. Last year, the Readers’ Choice winner was Middle Eastern hotspot Maison Libanaise. They’ve got a new chef this year, so we wonder how he’ll do in the running. We named BlackSalt our Editors’ Choice winner, the spice-filled Sri Lankan-Indian restaurant that we’ll soon be seeing at the upcoming Taste of Hong Kong festival. Will it win over some new customers for a Readers’ Choice gong this year?
This is another category we tweaked and turned into Best New Concept to encompass a wider variety of options. Last year, the Readers’ Choice award went to the awesomeness inside Happy Paradise, with its neo-Cantonese, neon-emblazoned vibe, while we loved Potato Head and its cool multi-functional rooms including a vintage vinyl listening suite, a sweet, comfy coffee shop and a buzzy Indonesian resto.
Kaum at Potato Head
Best Dessert Place
Readers voted for Lady M and we gave the Editors’ Choice prize to Oddies Foodies, but unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough love to keep this around as a category this year.
We’ve kept this category, but alas, the Readers’ Choice of 3/3rds is no longer. Luckily, the Editors’ Choice winner, Elephant Grounds, is still going strong with the café’s great cups of joe alongside a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and, of course, their famous ice cream sandwiches.
We wholeheartedly agreed with the Readers’ Choice winner, Catch, for its Melbourne-style brunch showcasing organic eggs galore, the millennially required (and delicious) smashed avo on toast and Nutella and banana smoothies. We crowned Giando our Editors’ Choice winner for its bountiful cheese, salad and cold cut selection and its comforting pastas. We’ve nixed this category this year because the votes were low – sorry, brunch lovers.
We found there weren’t too many voters who knew these behind-the-bar geniuses, so we haven’t put up this category this year, but we still love the cocktail stylings of Readers’ Choice winner Ryan Nightingale of Back Bar and Editors’ Choice winner Victoria Chow of The Woods, and we recommend a tipple or two at both of these establishments, stat.
Best Bang for your Buck
We love this category as it really represents the value we crave when dining out, but we meshed it with Best Casual Restaurant for Trusted Fave this year. Last year, you readers loved Pici and its freshly made pasta options courtesy of Italian chef Andrea Viglione, while we found our perfect price bracket at Beef & Liberty by former Mandarin Grill chef Uwe Opocensky, with most dishes under $100, wine without the markup and insanely delicious burgers.
The Lambo burger at Beef & Liberty
You all found your way to tiny, vibey Peel Street drinking den Bobby’s Rabble and made sure it won Readers’ Choice, and we went for 有緣小敍 Yau Yuen Siu Tsui for Editors’ Choice for its perfect biang biang noodles that come in one fat, giant strand, long enough to fill an entire bowl, topped with an addictive spicy sauce, crunchy seaweed and veggies.
A category close to our hearts, with a winner we still desperately miss, the Readers’ Choice award went to HOME – Eat to Live. We are still praying for a re-opening of it somewhere on our streets. Food Savior won the Editors’ Choice award; this e-marketplace where restaurants can sell fresh, unused food portions from each service at lower prices is still going strong and we still love it. It works for the restaurants as they’re making a profit on items that they would have otherwise thrown away, it works for the environment with reduced waste and it works for bargain-hunting, hungry Hong Kongers who also happen to have a conscience. We feel a repeat winner could be on the cards, although there are a lot more contenders this year – a positive sign for the changes taking place within the industry!
Yours was Nate Green of Rhoda – we also rate him for his “happy animal” ethos, and he’s now writing the Ethical Eats column in our print magazine. For Editors’ Choice, we awarded Shane Osborn of Arcane for his commitment to clean, healthy eating. Shane’s concern for his diners’ dietary needs also deserves to be lauded; he takes guests’ food allergies extremely seriously, happily catering to any and all food intolerances. Who will it be this year? Who is dishing out inspiration along with their eats and making us all want to do better?
Chef Nate Green
Chef Shane Osborn
Do you predict any of these making the cut for 2018? Vote here (it’s fast and easy and you can win stuff) and tell us who is impressing your taste buds this year!
Here are the Foodie Forks 2018 categories:
Best Restaurant: Where do you go for a special occasion?
Best New Restaurant: What new eatery made a mark on your taste buds?
Best New Bar: What’s the hottest new spot in town for a tipple?
Chef of the Year: Who cooked you a meal you still remember?
Trusted Fave: What‘s your reliable go-to for an effortless dining experience?
Best Café: Who serves up the best cuppa in town?
Ethical Eats: What restaurant is doing something good for the world?
Best New Concept*: What’s something different that sparked your interest?
Hidden Gem: Reveal that great place you cherish that never seems to get enough love
Food Hero: Tell us who inspired you in the world of food this year
* = new category for Foodie Forks 2018