Reopening in early 2023, Jimmy’s Kitchen dates back to 1928 Hong Kong. Chef Russell Doctrove is aiming to inject a modern touch to the historic restaurant

Chef Russell Doctrove doesn’t remember the first time he dined at Jimmy’s Kitchen, the very restaurant he now commands, but he knows what his “go-to dish” was. 

“My brother and I both went for the chicken Kiev, my dad would order the chicken Madras, and my mom got the steak Diane,” Russell recalls during a chat during teatime at the recently reopened restaurant. The formerly thick, padded menu of Jimmy’s Kitchen, numbering dozens of pages, was his “first introduction to French dishes and classical dining”.

Prior to its starry relaunch in January 2024, Jimmy’s Kitchen was a pickled relic of a former Hong Kong dining scene. Opening in 1928 by Jewish businessman Aaron Landau in Wan Chai, the centenary diner served a classic spread of hearty meat dishes, Indian curries, transatlantic entrées, imported seafood, and fancy desserts. 

Jimmy’s Kitchen Russell Doctrove

In 1934, Jimmy’s Kitchen relocated to China Building in Central, and then, 35 years later, a second branch opened on Hankow Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. At the turn of the century, Epicurean Group, the current operators of the historic restaurant, purchased Jimmy’s Kitchen from the Landau family. Ninety-two years after first opening, Jimmy’s Kitchen closed in spring 2020 during the pandemic. 

As news spread of a revival of one of Hong Kong’s longest-running – if not the oldest – restaurants in late 2023, Russell Doctrove joined Epicurean Group to bring a modern touch to Jimmy’s Kitchen, whilst retaining the classic spirit of the restaurant. The consulting chef and founder of Patty Boi began developing a menu that embraced both faces of the venue.

The menu currently hosts 66 distinct á-la-carte items, championing an inclusive “continental style” of cooking. “There is French technique in the dishes with European and Asian influences. This is the way that I like to cook. [At the new Jimmy’s Kitchen], we are not trying to be too pigeonholed by one cuisine,” Russell comments.

Jimmy’s Kitchen Russell Doctrove

“The challenge is how do you make the new food direction make sense? There is a British [culinary] thread running through the menu now, tying everything together.”

Fortunately, Russell was afforded three months from October 2023 to opening earlier this year to dig through the archives and unearth the recipes of popular dishes like the chicken Madras and borscht to retain the classic flavours that made Jimmy’s Kitchen eccentric, updating them if necessary to suit modern tastes.

“It was a fun exercise to compare [the recipes] and see the changes over the decades, with chefs coming in and changing ingredients or styles based on preferences at the time. We were lucky in the process, for example, where we found the same suppliers that Jimmy’s Kitchen used in the past, such as the same spice mix used in the chicken Madras.”

Jimmy’s Kitchen Russell Doctrove

What can appear as overwhelming, he describes the contemporary facelift of Jimmy’s Kitchen as a “balancing act” in bringing back old dishes to appease former regulars and introducing new dishes to entice new diners.

“We wanted to focus on the comforting, rustic dishes that regulars came and will come multiple times a week to eat. Our older customers were always going to come back once the word got out, and they were really excited. We had to make sure that we went through the recipes and fine-tuned them a little bit without straying too much from the originals.”

“With the newer customers, my fear was that they would not resonate with the more classic dishes like the beef stroganoff and Dover sole. However, you see them ordering and enjoying it!”

Jimmy’s Kitchen Russell Doctrove

New dishes from the crudo menu, the king crab leg and hamachi, half sea bass with Café de Paris butter, seared “Prince des Dombes” duck breast, and whole roasted chicken have proven popular with new diners. “We want to continually expand the menu, figure out what dishes suit the restaurant, go through recipes and perfect them, and introduce new weekly specials.” 

Following the grey marble stairs up to the restaurant, first-timers dining at Jimmy’s Kitchen would not instantly assume that the foundations of this “new” opening lay claim to decades of culinary history. Yet a nearly 100-year-old food tale is told throughout the restaurant, by way of dishes dating to the mid-century and pictures of a pre-handover Hong Kong. The new interior style simply complements the Jimmy’s Kitchen’s brand change with current trends.

Jimmy’s Kitchen is located inside the mezzanine floor of Pedder Building, situated on Pedder Street, a colonial British structure dating to 1924. The marriage of history and convenience is equally attractive in attracting new diners. For chef Russell and his guests, taxis can be ordered straight to the restaurant, as opposed to clamouring through lifts or dining underground in a humid basement venue.

Jimmy’s Kitchen Russell Doctrove

Beyond the brass and rouge colours painting former locations, Jimmy’s Kitchen is now dressed in contemporary gold, brown, black, and white. The restaurant is accessible at street level, placing it front and centre in today’s food discussion. 

Jimmy’s Kitchen is expansive, with one cocktail bar, two seated counters, a casual all-day-dining space for breakfast, lunch, and brunch, and a more regally designed area for lunches and dinners. 

As destined by Aaron Landau in the 1920s, chef Russell Doctrove is bringing back Jimmy’s Kitchen into the modern dining conversation.

Book your table at Jimmy’s Kitchen now to rediscover what makes the near-century-old restaurant great.

Rubin Verebes is the Managing Editor of Foodie, a culinary connoisseur, and guiding force behind the magazine's delectable stories. With a knack for cooking up mouthwatering profiles, crafting immersive restaurant reviews, and dishing out tasty features, Rubin tells the great stories of Hong Kong's dining scene.

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