Last night heralded the jubilant unveiling of the winners of the Foodie Forks Awards 2017. The annual dining awards where we crown Hong Kong's best eateries, bars and industry gurus, as decided by our judicious Foodie readers, was hosted by the fabulous Debbie Wong of Wok and Gong inside the cool confines of California Tower's Mettā.
Foodie Forks 2017 winners
You have chosen your favourite restaurants, bars, chefs and food heroes to recognise. Here are all the well-deserving winners:
Best New Restaurant
Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a master in creating winning restaurant concepts. Last year heralded the arrival of his wildly popular Mercato concept, which had already dazzled the perceptive palates in Shanghai years ago. Boasting fresh, innovative menus that are ever changing with the seasons yet still relatable and down-to-earth enough to be craved on a regular basis, it walks the narrow line between fine dining and casual comfort food. Loyally consistent in quality, Mercato is where you would choose for a relaxing evening out on the town.
8/F, California Tower, 30–32 D'Aguilar Street, LKF, Central, 3706 8567
It’s hard to know where to begin with the restaurant that crafted one of the most memorable meals we’ve ever had. Frantzén’s Kitchen is a sort of Nordic tapas restaurant with a casual yet sophisticated demeanour that belies the intricate, detailed work they do behind the counter (and the scenes). Carefully sourced ingredients, intense research, beautiful plating, all constructed in front of your eyes, amount to a hypnotic capturing of both the mind and the taste buds. This is a meal to be savoured, with dishes like the Swedish sushi, French toast and smoked ice cream lingering long in our minds. Weeks go by and still we return to revisit them in our tasting memories. A beautiful selection of biodynamic wines highlighted the experience here along with a friendly and engaging team. We were spellbound by the flavours and look forward to returning for another thrilling taste.
11 Upper Station Street, Tai Ping Shan, Sheung Wan, 2559 8508
Best New Bar
From the design wizardry of Ashley Sutton rises The Iron Fairies, a mesmerising bar that goes beyond the regular watering hole. With sister locations in Tokyo and Bangkok, the bar centres around a captivating journey that reflects the designer’s series of children’s books about a group of miners who create iron fairy figurines. Giant iron doors and accents in wood, brick and leather forge the space while more than 10,000 preserved butterflies suspend from the ceiling to resemble fairy dust. Ashley Sutton has had a busy year in Hong Kong, also designing the opium-den-esque Ophelia and the mysterious J. Boroski.
LG/F, Chinachem Hollywood Centre, 1–13 Hollywood Road, Central (entrance on Pottinger Street), 2603 6992
Two doors lead to Dr Fern's Gin Parlour, although only one will open the gates to this cocktail haven. Tucked away in a hidden little nook in glitzy LANDMARK, the bar is still a bit of a secret, although not for long! Created by the group behind Chinese antique stamp shop/Asian street food diner Mrs Pound and swanky jazz bar Foxglove comes this new speakeasy concept that revolves around the blending of fine gin with aromatic botanicals. There’s now even an exciting afternoon tea option – Dr Fern's Mad Hatter Afternoon Tea Party – for those looking for more than a tipple.
Shop B31A, B/F, LANDMARK ATRIUM, 15 Queen's Road Central, Central, 2111 9449
Since its opening three years ago, Mott 32 has remained a showpiece restaurant for hosting visiting guests or decadent celebratory meals. Veneered in a fine patina of glamorous chinoiserie, the restaurant’s ambience is as swoon-worthy as its menu. Must haves include the tender Ibérico pork char siu and the siu mai topped with caviar and embedded with a quail’s egg that oozes velvety yolk at first bite.
Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4a Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2885 8688
Vicky Cheng won our Chef of the Year award way back in 2014 when he was stirring up all kinds of culinary goodness at Liberty Private Works. He’s gone from strength to strength with his ambitious opening of VEA, which won an astonishing Michelin star in its first year of operation as well as our Foodie Forks Best New Restaurant award last year. Our subsequent visits have assured us that the standards have not dropped by so much as a millimetre as the chef continues to craft inspiring new dishes prepared in his theatre-style kitchen for a mesmerising cookery performance that charms us each and every time. The innovative cocktail pairings by renowned mixologist Antonio Lai are the cherry on top of what is guaranteed to be an elegant and intricate meal. When a special occasion calls, this is our first choice.
29/F and 30/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, 2711 8639
Chef of the Year
Arturo Melendez of TokyoLima
It probably helps that you can see this Peruvian chef so clearly hard at work in the buzzing open kitchen of this Nikkei restaurant that encouraged your abundant nominations for this much-deserved accolade. Arturo has been a long-standing presence on the dining scene here, first at the popular Chicha, and now at one of this city’s hottest new restaurants, TokyoLima. He is continually introducing lesser-known ingredients, like choclo and kabocha, to the curious palates of Hong Kong diners.
18–20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2811 1152
Vicky Lau of Tate Dining Room & Bar
After earning a coveted Michelin star and the title of Asia's Best Female Chef in 2015, the former graphic designer turned critically acclaimed chef Vicky Lau took a break from the restaurant to journey to Kyoto to intern at three-Michelin-starred KITCHO, immersing herself in the intricate art of kaiseki cuisine. This experience gave her a greater appreciation for Japanese sensibility towards the four seasons, and Tate's new menu reflects this intimate knowledge of seasonal ingredients. We are thoroughly impressed by Chef Lau’s dedication to her craft and have enjoyed each and every reading of her incredible 'edible stories'.
210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2555 2172
Best Macau Restaurant
An astute selection from all you intrepid enough to cross the waters over to our favourite neighbour, Macau, you also selected it for Best Macau Restaurant back in 2015. Michelin evidently agree with you, awarding this refined French restaurant with two stars, and soon you’ll be able to taste their founding chef Guillaume Galliot’s culinary genius on this side of the pond when he takes up residence as Chef de Cuisine at the equally two-Michelin-starred Caprice. This excites every inch of our anticipatory taste buds.
Level 3, Crown Towers, City of Dreams, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Taipa, Macau, +853 8868 6681
In the shadow of its celebrated big brother restaurant, Jade Dragon, we feel Pearl Dragon is somewhat underrated (though it’s still Michelin starred, so perhaps not so underrated), featuring upscale and nostalgic Guangdong dishes under renowned chef Tam Kwok Fung. Pearl Dragon is magnificently interiored, filled with majestic private rooms, exquisite china and tableware, hand-painted silk wallpaper and unparalleled service. Located within the theatrical walls of Studio City is this refined example of expertly prepared fine Chinese cuisine.
Shop 2111, Level 2, Star Tower, Studio City Macau, Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Taipa, Macau, +853 8865 6560
Best Casual Restaurant
We love that all of you voted so prolifically for this Middle Eastern hotspot under the helm of charming chef James Harrison, who owns a clear passion for the flame and what he can create atop of it. We adore a glass of Lebanese red on the romantic rooftop accompanied by aromatic dips and freshly baked pitta, big bowls of fresh market veggies, mouth-watering halloumi, roasted cauliflower and a plate of za'atar fried chicken. Maison Libanaise has firmly established itself as the people’s favourite go-to resto; come to think of it, we might go tonight…
10 Shelley Street, Central, 2111 2284
Taking over the old Grassroots Pantry space in a quiet alley in Sai Ying Pun, BlackSalt impresses with its flavourful, spice-filled menu and chilled vibe. The Sri Lankan–Indian restaurant features plenty of delicious vegetarian fare, as well as sumptuous meaty offerings. We loved the bountiful devilled sweet-and-sour shrimp egg hopper, piled high with not just seafood but plenty of vegetables over an oozy egg atop a crispy pancake. The What’s the Matter Paneer? was so satisfying that we forgot we were eating only cheese and veg. A delicious, lighter version of spice-filled cuisine from the subcontinent region.
14 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun, 3702 1237
There was much buzz on the street when May Chow unleashed her third venture on Hong Kong diners’ radar. It seems everything May touches turns to cool and Happy Paradise is no exception. You have voted her neon-emblazoned, neo-Cantonese, jacked-up cha chaan teng, with its welcoming and inclusive ethos, underground rumpus room feel and jaw-dropping cocktail list (durian pina colada!), as your favourite place to don your most modish duds and see and be seen in all your resplendent technicolour glory.
UG/F, 52–56 Staunton Street, Central, 2816 2118
We’re putting it down as just straight Potato Head because we adore the vibe in all three parts of this multi-functional F&B destination. I Love You So Coffee is sweet and pretty and comfy; Kaum is as vibrant, buzzy and colourful as the Indonesian cuisine it serves up and The Music Room is just the coolest little vinyl playground, with vintage velvet and leather chairs and a 70s chic that takes us back to an era when everything seemed simpler – and enjoying those simple things was as easy as breathing in the retro sounds that ricochet off the sound-booth walls of this ultra-mellow listening lounge.
100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, 2858 3036
Best Dessert Place
Lady M, famous the world over for its signature mille-crêpes, has taken Hong Kong by storm since its arrival last year. As one of the most celebrated patisseries in New York, Lady M's allure lies in the lightness and delicateness of its refined desserts. Upon first bite, the flavours instantly differentiate themselves from the often overly sweet, heavy confections popular in the United States and, instead, reflect the light effervescence of Japanese desserts.
When we saw photos of egg waffles stuffed into ice cream cups popping up all over Instagram, we rolled our eyes at another social media gimmick that surely wouldn’t measure up to our inflated expectations. Well, we sincerely apologise for our oversight, since we were blown away by the fun and lip-smacking tastes upon our first visit to Oddies. The flavours change regularly, and every component of the ice cream is made in house using quality ingredients, such as the cookies and cream flavour crafted using cookies baked on site, although our favourite has to be the fig and honey limited-edition flavour.
45 Gough Street, Central, 2750 2111
Exposed brick with a grungy-cool warehouse feel – tick. Mismatched and artfully distressed furniture with urban skyline views – tick. Adorable mini plants, hydroponics, a rooftop garden, books on design – tick. A weekly changing menu (complete with lush cheese toasties and tonnes of salads) – tick. You guys love it here. Us too.
22/F, Yally Industrial Building, 6 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 3462 2951
Famed for their giant ice cream sandwiches, with a new flavour introduced each week, Elephant Grounds also serves up great cups of joe alongside a full menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have dreams about their fish sando, two crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside fish fillets sandwiched between fluffy slices of Hokkaido milk bread and a generous heap of crunchy cabbage and wasabi mayo.
HOME – Eat to Live proves that plant-based cuisine can be just as satisfying and alluring as carnivorous menus. Using primarily organic produce, the mouth-watering bevy of toasts, burgers, flatbreads, soups, salads and desserts are made fresh daily using produce from local growers. There’s also delicious vegan, gluten-free and raw options available, transforming our prejudices towards plant-based menus and making even the mightiest meat lovers feel happy munching on a wrap or two.
Shop G01–101, G/F, Nexxus Building, 77 Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2777 4777
We cannot bestow enough love upon this new online platform that is transforming the way consumers and restaurateurs view unnecessary food waste. Food Savior provides an e-marketplace for restaurants to sell fresh, unused food portions from each service that weren’t sold as soon as they were made, for a lesser price. This is a mindful dining decision that is actually less expensive to incorporate into daily living, rather than the frequently more costly, environmentally sound options out there. It works for the restaurants as they’re making a profit on items 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 are thrilled that this fave of ours is getting lots of love from the peeps on the street too. Finger on the pulse as always, you voted in spades for this natty eatery bringing its Melbourne-style brunch to your hungry weekend proclivities. Showcasing organic eggs galore, the millennially required (and delicious) smashed avo, BWTs (watercress being the dubya), Bloody Marys, Nutella and banana smoothies for the indulgent or watermelon and coconut for the pious, this place is always humming with a happy crowd of discerning diners, especially come brunch time.
95 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, 2855 1289
Nothing quite spells the weekend like a long, relaxing brunch brimming with a vast variety of nibbles on which to graze. Giando has been our top pick for brunch for quite some time, thanks to their bountiful cheese, salad and cold cuts buffet and comforting pastas. There’s plenty to choose from on the extensive Italian menu, and we always recommend capping off the meal with their classic tiramisu.
Shop 1, G/F, Tower 1, Starcrest, 9 Star Street, Wanchai, 2511 8912
Ryan Nightingale of Back Bar
One of Hong Kong’s best-known bartenders spends his nights hidden in the furtive confines of Back Bar, behind its showier sister resto Ham & Sherry, pleasing thirsty night owls with his creative concoctions. Crowned Chivas Master in this year’s competition, as well as being our 2015 Editors’ Choice winner for Best Mixologist, it seems you all agree that he’s keeping up his high standards for serving the nicest nightcaps to keep your evenings going strong.
1–7 Ship Street, Wanchai, 2555 0628
Victoria Chow of The Woods
A drink created by Victoria Chow goes beyond mere taste and appeals to all the senses. The passionate creator behind The Woods and, more recently, KWOONS canned cocktails, Victoria creates libations that mirror themselves in presentation and flavour. We love her prix-fixe cocktail menu at The Woods, where she matches small dishes to highlight each course of cocktails.
LG/F, 17–19 Hollywood Road, Central, 2522 0281
Best Bang for Your Buck
So you’ve found this sweet little pasta place too! Tucked away down a charming side street on the backside of Wanchai, it’s cute, casual and feels fine for your frugal sensibilities. You all clearly adore the freshly made pasta options from Italian chef Andrea Viglione, plus the burrata, cold cuts and all-round simple menu that’s as tasty as it is reasonably priced. Their new lunch deal rings our bell at $148 for three courses of filling dishes to get you through till dinner, satisfying both the savoury and sweet toothed.
16 St Francis Yard, Wanchai, 2755 5523
Every time we walk out of here we are actually smiling at the bill in hand. When does that ever happen? Not to mention that lauded former Mandarin Grill chef Uwe Opocensky now helms this casually chic little treasure – and they do it all for a wallet-friendly price. Most dishes are under $100, they offer wine without the markup and it’s insanely delicious. Hong Kong is not always an easy place to dine well for a decent price, and Beef & Liberty outlets are even situated in the city’s hottest areas, with trendy decor and masterful mixologists whipping up tasty tipples. For reals.
This is one of those oh-so-perfect winners that we all nodded our heads at and went of course! when the votes started flooding in for this tiny, vibey Peel Street drinking den. Dark and disturbing hand-painted murals juxtapose the light and effervescent tone that pervades the air in this bar, which always manages to feel more like a house party than a public house.
57 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 9160 6207
有緣小敍 Yau Yuen Siu Tsui
Sometimes, nothing quite hits the spot like that perfect bowl of noodles. The noodles we’re talking about come in one fat, giant strand, long enough to fill an entire bowl, and are topped with an addictive spicy sauce, crunchy seaweed and vegetables. An iconic dish of western China, biang biang noodles are revered for their punchy flavours and hand-kneaded noodle texture. There’s always a long queue at lunchtime at this tiny diner in a narrow LKF alley, but we think it's worth the wait.
14–15 Wo On Lane, LKF, Central, 5296 6630
Nate Green of Rhoda
He can wax lyrical for hours on the benefits of happy Hereford cows, and he walks the walk by making use of every last inch of the animals he purchases. Nate’s innovative dishes at his hot restaurant, Rhoda, elevate often wasted parts like ox heart to educate diners’ minds and palates on what we all must do to reduce food waste and eat with an ethical and sustainable conscious. He’s doing his part for the environment as well as being a passionate advocate promoting responsible environmental practices to others. This chef is inspiring to listen to, knowledgeable about his carefully selected ingredients and makes delicious dishes that feel good for the mind, body and soul.
345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, 2177 5050
Shane Osborn of Arcane
Editors’ Choice winner for Best Restaurant last year, we’ve still ardent supporters of Shane Osborn’s refined – but without the snootiness – modern European restaurant. There’s even more to love about this spot knowing as we know about the chef’s commitment to clean, healthy eating – his masterful meat-free Mondays vegetarian tasting menu is a work of art both in presentation and flavour. Shane’s concern for his diner’s dietary needs also deserves to be lauded; he takes guests’ food allergies extremely seriously, happily catering to any and all food intolerances.
3/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, 2728 0178