Front Runners for the Foodie Forks 2020

Front Runners for the Foodie Forks 2020

Which spots are leading the race as your favourite dining destinations in advance of the awards in June? 

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Foodie Forks  Foodie Forks  on 8 May '20

There are so many amazing eateries and people that have not been nominated, but there’s still time to vote!

The last day of voting is 31 May. Don’t let your favourite people and places miss out on getting recognition for their hard toil in what has been an exceptionally tough year. Vote with your heart and spread the word; we want those who have impressed you and your taste buds to be celebrated!

The winners will be announced at our annual Foodie Forks awards party on Monday, 22 June and will be revealed on our Facebook page and website on 23 June. Have a read below, and if your favourite is missing from the front runners, get to work!

So far, here are the leading restaurants, bars, chefs and inspirations in our industry for 2020:


Best New Restaurant

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Photo credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

This is always a competitive category, but, man, there are some cool-cat contenders for this one this year.

Henry is an obvious one. Our previous Food Hero Nate Green is at the helm in these beautiful new digs at Rosewood Hong Kong, so we knew this one would appear on the playing field.

121BC’s new location with a new chef has certainly got the voters salivating with clicks on the keyboard.

Also capturing your hearts are Michelin-starred resto Amelia from San Sebastián, Ask for Alonzo, a hip trattoria in Quarry Bay focused on traditional Italian dishes, and Honjo, Pirata Group’s Japanese fusion restaurant with stunning interiors.

Tuscan trattoria Associazione Chianti by Black Sheep Restaurants is doing well with votes (we got some truly wild spellings for this one).

The Pizza Project is an obvious contender – pizza is pretty much everyone’s favourite comfort food, and we all need a little comfort right now.

Every year it seems, vegetarian food artist Christian Mongendre wins something. This year, his new restaurant, TREEHOUSE, which opened last August, is romping through several categories, and this includes Best New Restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, SOMM at Landmark Mandarin Oriental is up for the title.

Spanish steak specialist Rubia is a pretty hot favourite alongside MONO, the new French restaurant by JIA Group, and lovely LucAle with its family-style dishes in Sai Ying Pun, while Lobster Shack is shucking up oysters, lobster and a whole lotta love.

Rajasthan Rifles is gaining steam with its Anglo-Indian cuisine. It’s another Black Sheep restaurant, which are all well loved amongst our readers, with previous wins for several of their eateries over the years.

Pondi is also getting some attention in this category. One of the founders is a past winner for now-closed BlackSalt, which took the prize for Best Casual Restaurant in 2017, spawning this beauty of a restaurant.


Best Restaurant

Right up there, Arbor (which won Editors’ Choice for this category last year) and Amber are coming in tops for the place to go when you want to impress. Your faves here live at the front of the alphabet. Arcane (helmed by last year’s Chef of the Year, Shane Osborn) is also up there with votes.

Although it’s not a surefire race just yet, Carbone is clearly a place you return to time and again.

Caprice, Duddell’s, Frantzén’s Kitchen (our Best New Restaurant winner from 2017), Henry, Honjo, Mandarin Grill + Bar and Matsubishi are all getting the goods.

Also rating high is previous winner in this category in 2018, Mott 32, along with another previous winner from that same year for Best New Restaurant, New Punjab Club.

Settling into its Sheung Wan home is Pica Pica, and then there are the stalwarts of 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana and Petrus.

Other nominees include Roganic (last year’s winner for Best New Restaurant), T LAB by Chef Tiff’s Kitchen, TM’s By The Den, The Optimist (our winner for this award back in 2017), VEA, Yat Tung Heen and our Trusted Favourite winner from 2018, the always great Zuma.

We also have a “La” and a “Le" contender, and by that we mean the elegant and renowned La Petite Maison and North Point French-Japanese fine diner Le Bec Fin. Both have a large amount of votes that could put them over the top.

Are any of these on your list when you need something special for the night?


Best New BarPhoto by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Photo credit: Nick Fewings on Unsplash

This is always a category full of fun. Although less prolific than the nominees in previous years, these bars are ready to go. For 2020, we’re loving Shady Acres, The Diplomat, Tell Camellia and Scarlett Cafe and Wine Bar.

Italian aperitivo bar Bella Lee is a popular vote, as is Kakure, the serene new Ginza-style bar in Prince’s Building.

The new Rosewood offerings, ladies-only speakeasy XX at Rosewood and its sister, DarkSide, are getting on your good side and pulling in the punters, despite social distancing and all that jazz.


Chef of the Year

Chef of the Year

This year, more than any other, we’ve had a huge spread of votes in this category. Normally, the votes are for well-publicised chefs. But this year, there are so many votes for chefs who are far more under the radar, and we are thrilled at this result. We’re sitting here wishing we could give them all an award for doing what they do through the thick and the oh-so-very thin.

Here are some of the top contenders – and know this: if you spell it wrong or just write “the guy from Frantzén”, we will still know where to place your vote. So we’ll start with the “guy from Frantzén”, who is getting lots of votes – mostly by his name, which is Jim Lofdahl.

Pici’s Andrea Viglione is in strong standing along with Umberto Bombana.

Que Vinh Dang, one of our favourite chefs, who we collaborated with years ago, has both long-time fans and new ones for his restaurant Nhậu.

Corey Riches of BEDU, the talented chef from last year’s Best New Restaurant, Darnell Fields from Franks, the visionary Barry Quek of Beet, Michelin-starred Yat Tung Heen’s Tam Tung, Vicky Cheng from VEA, Fabio Nicotra of recently reopened 121BC, Eric Räty of Arbor, Adam Clifton of Samsen, Christian Mongendre of TREEHOUSE, Edgar Sanuy of Pica Pica, Max Levy of Okra Bar, Nate Green of Henry and Neil Tomes of Beef & Liberty are other nominees.

Our winner last year, Palash Mitra, is up for another swing, and Peggy Chan (our 2016 Food Hero) and Amber’s Richard Ekkebus always garner a great deal of votes.

Shane Osborne has his legions of fans, as does the inventor of the Earl Grey-infused Wagyu katsu, Tiff Chan of T LAB by Chef Tiff’s Kitchen.

Ricardo Chaneton of MONO is getting far more than mono votes, and our previous winner Uwe Opocensky is as popular as ever in his new home in the kitchens of the Island Shangri-La.

Is your fave up here? If not, the race is far from over as there is no clear-cut kitchen crusader as yet.


Trusted Favourite

This category has a bunch in it too. In contention are Yat Tung Heen, Yardbird (our Best New Restaurant 2012 and Trusted Favourite 2013), Pici, Uma Nota, TREEHOUSE, The Den, Sushi Kuu, Samsen, Nhậu, Mott 32, MANA! (2018’s Ethical Eats winner), Lobster Shack, Le Bec Fin, FRANCIS (2018's Best New Concept winner), ÉPURE, Crystal Jade, Coffee Talks, Chullschick, Chôm Chôm, CIAK, Brut!, Café Malacca, Bingaz Street Food, Beef & Liberty, Agave, 22 Ships, 208 Duecento Otto, BEDU, Fini’s, Limewood, The Nest, TokyoLima and Yau Yuen Siu Tsui in Jordan (the LKF branch was named our 2017 Hidden Gem).

Also up for this award is the Foodie Lifetime Achievement Award winner from last year, Gaylord.

This is the first year that only one person has voted for McDonald’s in this category. We consider this progress.


Best Café

Everyone has an opinion on this one. As usual, most of the coffee shops in Hong Kong are listed here (including Pacific Coffee, but with just one vote thus far).

Previous winner NOC looks like it might ring the bell for another year, but there are some pretty strong contenders hot on its heels such as Elephant Grounds, % Arabica, Coffee Talks, Dalloyau, Artisan Garden Cafe, Fineprint (last year’s Editors’ Choice winner), Fuel, Bakehouse (winner in 2018), Barista Jam, Beanery, Black Sugar, Blossom, Brew Bros, Café 8, Café Corridor, Cafe de Jargor, Coco Espresso, The Coffee Academics, Coffee Art, Cofftea, Cupping Room, Dear Coffee & Bakery, Hashtag Coffee, Hazel & Hershey, Infiniti C, Classified, Little Cove, NINETYs, Le Petit Salon, Ralph’s Coffee, Stazione Novella, Happiness Single Coffee, teakha and previous winner Winstons, and, as always, Starbucks with its comfy seats and ubiquity pulls in the numbers.

And then we had a questionable java aficionado tell us, “Nothing beats my Nescafé.” Not sure we agree with you or your taste buds on that one, but to each his own – coffee is a very singular pleasure.

And then we had a potentially even more contentious answer from one very disgruntled coffee seeker: “No one can serve coffee in Hong Kong. They all taste watery.” You just can’t please everyone, can you?


Best Green Eats

TREEHOUSE is really hot out in front for this one – it seems surprisingly many like to type it as THREEHOUSE, but we know what you mean – and VEDA is also killing it in this category.

MANA! is doing well, as usual, SaladStop! is impressing the taste buds of many, readers are liking nood food and Samsen’s veggie menu is getting a lot of love, as are Confusion Plant Based Kitchen, Dandy’s Organic Cafe and Sweetpea Cafe.

Foodie Forks 2019 Food Hero Larry Tang continues to inspire with his green eats at Sohofama.

Green Common is getting some votes along with KALE in Sheung Wan, and to a niche but passionate group, Green Cottage on Lamma Island is the business. Chi Lin Vegetarian in Diamond Hill is also still going strong after all these years.

We got one vote for the succinctly put “I don’t eat vegetables.” And to that we say, good on ya, mate. Let’s see how long that body of yours lets you live.


Hidden Gem

Since the beginning of Foodie Forks nine years ago, this has been one of our favourite categories because sometimes we get wind of a new favourite place to try out!

As for the truly hidden, or at least partially obscured, restaurants, it was painful to our hearts to see one of our previous faves, Three Blind Mice, with votes as it has sadly shuttered its doors, but we were holy heartened to find Beet on there. Oh my goodness, do we ever agree with this one! And Café Malacca is really taking home the votes.

There are also votes for Wing Hop Sing, USRC Gascoigne Room, TREEHOUSE, Why Noodle, TMK, The Wise King, The Spice House (last year’s winner in this category), The Nest Bakery, TM’s by The Den, Terrible Baby, Thai on High, T LAB by Chef Tiff’s Kitchen, Stone Coffee, Te Quiero Mucho, Schragels, Shiro, Santorini, Rempah Noodles, Sangeetha, Ping Pong (Best New Bar 2015), Please Don’t Tell, Morokok, Nhậu, Manakamana Nepali Restaurant, Mama Malouf, Lobster Shack, Les Fils à Maman, Le Garçon Saigon, Kelly’s Cape Bop, Kakure, Jimmy’s Kitchen, JALAN, Hugger Mugger (last year’s winner for Best New Bar), HOWE Café, Hideout, Green Waffle Diner, GODENYA, Fridge, Flying Pig Bistro, Ever Shine, Elementary, El Macho, Crazy Noodles, Camper’s, Cafe Whale, Burger Deli, Bresola, Bingaz Street Food, Bangkok Canteen, Arashigawa Yakitori, Anjappar and Ancient Moon.

We got one vote for XXX – we assume that refers to XX, the new ladies-only speakeasy at the Rosewood, as opposed to the Vin Diesel film, unless XXX has started moonlighting as a chef in some hidey-hole in Hong Kong when he’s not saving the world.

Also, someone voted for Amber for Hidden Gem. Is this a true fan (some Mandarin Oriental punnage for you) or perhaps a devoted employee? This restaurant should really be put in the pretty-meticulously-discovered gem category, were we to create one.


Food Hero

Photo by TK Hammonds on Unsplash

Photo credit: TK Hammonds on Unsplash

Our favourite answer was the reader who put in, “My boyfriend, Phil! He pushes me out of my comfort zone.” Way to go, Phil! We applaud your efforts to get your partner cooking experimentally in the kitchen. Not sure how many other people will vote in your direction, but you’re definitely a food hero to someone out there, and that makes you a hero worthy of a shout-out. To Phil!

The late, incredibly great Anthony Bourdain has plenty of votes for his huge body of work that impacted so many, both in the industry and out. Gordon Ramsay has a few fans left in Hong Kong despite taking his restaurants away, and David Chang is another international hero.

Bobsy Gaia of MANA!, Que Vinh Dang of Nhậu, Christian Mongendre (2017 Ethical Eats winner) of TREEHOUSE, Christopher Mark of Black Sheep Restaurants and Arbor’s Eric Räty have pulled in a lot of the local votes, as have Laura Offe of Meraki Hospitality, Lindsay Yang of Yardbird, Richard Ekkebus of Amber and Peggy Chan of Nectar (formerly Grassroots Pantry), the lady that leads us all towards better dining habits.

Gabrielle Kirstein of Feeding Hong Hong has been our hero ever since we met her back in 2009; she continues to do great work for the underprivleged in the city.


Most Inspiring Initiative

A philanthropic, community-related or environmental purpose that has inspired you in the world of food

Last Straw Movement is getting a lot of votes, but they did win last year in this category – we love them, but there is so much more out there that’s worthy! One such initiative that’s getting votes is Make It Work HK, giving a fair chance in life to the working poor community, as well as Live Zero, the first zero-waste bulk grocery store in HK. Larry Tang (last year’s Food Hero) also has some votes coming in for his long-time locavore philosophy.

Two circular cup-sharing movements – Muuse and Go Cup – are getting attention, and the United We Dine initiative, launched by the Hong Kong media to reignite the public’s interest in dining out during these difficult times, is also a popular vote.

We got quite a few votes for “my mum”. So sweet, guys, but we’re not sure that inspiring you to eat your sprouts counts. Somebody else wrote, “Sure”. We’re not sure they read the question. And then someone wrote, “Ronnie”, who is apparently so famous in the inspiring initiative game that just a single name will do.


In case we haven’t said it enough times yet – VOTE!


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