It’s been quite a year. Never have we been more amazed by the resilience of the restaurant industry in Hong Kong than in a year like this one, when we’ve been unsettled by civil unrest and a global pandemic, with ever-changing regulations to adapt to and an uncertain customer base. The pertinacity shown by the individuals behind the eateries of this city has been indomitable.
We are inspired by this lion-hearted resolve to endure and prevail during the very toughest of times. These awards are dedicated to each and every person in the F&B industry who has kept this city’s dining scene – a gargantuan part of why its citizens have maintained such high spirits – from crumbling and, instead, managed to make it thrive.
This is a true testament to the people who make up the fabric of Hong Kong.
Le Bec Fin
This mysterious fine-dining restaurant is not alone in offering French-Japanese fusion cuisine to Hong Kong diners. But where it really stands out is in the experimental array of meticulously crafted and utterly decadent dishes from award-winning chef Nakao Kazuhisa, previously the executive chef to the Japanese ambassador. The French onion soup is a triumph of ingenuity, while the desserts are a feat of structural engineering, redesigning classics into modern marvels. Le Bec Fin is special and intimate – a diamond in the rough of North Point that will make your evening spent there feel like you’re a bit in the know. From the French expression for “fine palate”, Le Bec Fin is certain to find yours.
Shop 8, G/F, China United Centre, 28 Marble Road, North Point, 2217 8889
LPM Restaurant & Bar
LPM Restaurant & Bar – La Petite Maison – is one of those rare restaurants that manages to be simple, elevated, playful and sophisticated all at the same time. With locations all over the world, including spots in London, Dubai and Miami, LPM celebrates French-Mediterranean cuisine with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Famous for its warm prawns in olive oil, grilled lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine and mind-blowing pain perdu, LPM is consistent in its quality, service and overall dining experience. We love the little touches of fresh bread and the “make your own salad” of tomatoes, lemon and the best olive oil around that are placed on each table. Be sure to sample a Tomatini – the signature cocktail – described as “the essence of La Petite Maison”.
Shop 1, H Queen's, 1/F, 23–29 Stanley Street, Central, 2887 1113
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
This new offering from Epicurean Group has clearly taken hold of what diners are looking for. This small Spanish taverna is a charming space with affordable prices and great happy-hour offerings. We’re big fans of previous Foodie Forks winner Chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona and his authentic Spanish cuisine, and it seems his bright new spark of a restaurant Rubia has had a similar effect on all of you. Some of the menu highlights are, of course, the Rubia Gallega steaks, and there are some pretty spectacular tapas and a notable warm cheesecake made with blue cheese, served with whisky ice cream.
UG/F and 1/F, C Wisdom Centre, 35–37 Hollywood Road, Central, 2889 1199
A collaboration with two-Michelin-starred chef Marco Sacco of Italy’s Piccolo Lago, this intimate and elegant restaurant showcases the unique flavours of Piedmont, a region beloved for its impactful flavours, freshwater fish, truffles and the highest number of tier-one wines in all of Italy. Castellana succeeds in delivering impeccable service along with a tasting menu that directly transports diners to this extraordinary northern Italian food haven. The dishes are beautifully presented, matched only by the inspired flavours they present on the tongue. Lake fish smothered in a glossy berry sauce, handmade tagliolini with a gin-infused carbonara sauce, river prawns with black garlic risotto and a three-part tiramisu are some of the standout dishes we have tried that elevate this restaurant to the legendary experience we have found it to be. The one- of-a-kind cuisine of Piedmont has the perfect platform in Castellana to bring these striking flavours to Hong Kong.
10/F, CUBUS, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, 3188 5028
BEST NEW BAR
This one comes as no surprise as the fan favourite, with the co-owner being award-winning Ryan Nightingale, who has already built legions of admirers from his stints as mixologist at Aberdeen Street Social and Back Bar at Ham & Sherry. The venue is a former flower shop transformed into a sanctuary for wine aficionados and cocktail fiends alike. There’s zero snobbery to be found here and an ace menu of bar bites to munch on while you peruse the hand-picked selection of wines on offer, which includes orange and Pét-Nat sparkling wine varieties, the latter of which is making a comeback now that the youngsters have discovered it. They also sell wine on-site in case you want to take a particular bottle back home with you to continue the fun. This is a thoughtful, cool and easy place to hang out, led by knowledgeable folk who’ve been in the industry for years. Shady Acres is everything you could want in a local.
EDIT: Shady Acres has teamed up with Young Master and have their own HK craft beer! Get yourself a Beer Hug IPA for a clean and hoppy Indian Pale Ale with a slight citrusy bitter finish.
46 Peel Street, SoHo, Central, 9176 7500
Tucked away in the LANDMARK complex is Kakure, an elegant Japanese restaurant complete with a sushi bar, teppanyaki cooking station, private tatami rooms and, last but certainly not least, a Ginza-style cocktail and whisky bar. Its cosy yet tranquil atmosphere and stunning interior make Kakure the perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Central. Kakure bar is home to an impressive variety of Japanese whisky, shōchū and sake, as well as creative cocktails like the Wagyu old-fashioned, which combines Wagyu fat-washed Michter’s rye whisky with Okinawan black sugar, orange and aromatic bitters.
Shop M20–24, M/F, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, 2522 9990
CHEF OF THE YEAR
It’s no easy feat bringing a restaurant back from the dead, but it helps when that restaurant was a much-loved hotspot with a renowned wine list. The renewed cuisine that Fabio Nicotra has been creating at 121BC is making its mark in dishes like the signature sea urchin and ikura spaghetti alla chitarra, homemade ricotta ravioli, crispy slow-cooked lamb ribs, house-made grilled sourdough and some cool vegan dishes that make the most of plant-based ingredients like morel mushrooms, white asparagus, slow-cooked eggs and fried spiced cauliflower. The Italian- Australian chef has worked in award-winning Italian and French restaurants and injects a unique creativity into his seasonal, ingredient-driven dishes, with a short menu that focuses on his strengths and has guests remembering his meals for many moons afterwards.
We were fans of the feel-good Middle Eastern food at BEDU right from the start, but when Corey Riches began his Dinner with Corey series, we really sat up to take notice. Stepping outside the realm of the restaurant’s cuisine and embracing complementary flavours, from Roman-inspired dishes from the Byzantine Empire that can be traced back to 330AD, to fish and seafood dishes from the Israeli seaside, to India’s culinary influences on Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s lovely to see a chef consistently making bold and inventive menus and challenging himself and his diners, with no better than the adventurous eaters of Hong Kong to appreciate his efforts. Chef Riches is also at the helm of newly opened all-day diner Mamma Always Said in SoHo.
It isn’t always easy to find good Malaysian food in Hong Kong, and if you haven’t found this one, you might be in the minority, judging by the number of fans who voted for Café Malacca. Housed in Shek Tong Tsui, this tasty bistro is a regular go-to amongst Malaysian and Singaporean expats, as well as locals who have discovered an intense love for hawker-style dishes like fried carrot cake, nasi lemak, char kway teow and more. The eatery’s tangy, spicy Penang assam laksa always leaves us with a feeling of longing that calls us back again and again, and it’s clear many of you feel a similar devotion to this delicious restaurant.
2/F, Hotel Jen Hong Kong by Shangri-La, 508 Queen’s Road West, Shek Tong Tsui, 2213 6613
We’ve been huge fans of Samsen since its opening in 2016, thanks to its consistent, flavourful and authentic Thai food. Founded by Adam Cliff, formerly the chef at Chachawan, and his partner, Bella Kong, Samsen Wanchai is beloved for its aromatic boat noodles and vibrant atmosphere. The hole-in-the-wall spot doesn’t take reservations, and it’s not uncommon to queue round the block. A second Samsen recently opened up in Sheung Wan, with the focus shifting from boat noodles to delectable, comforting khao soi. Samsen also offers a full vegetarian menu and irresistible Thai desserts.
Sheung Wan: 23 Jervois Street, 2234 0080
Wanchai: 68 Stone Nullah Lane, 2234 0001
This was our Editors’ Choice winner last year, and it’s clear from the votes that you’re all in firm agreement with us. Fineprint is an all-rounder of a coffee shop that not only serves up a fab cuppa joe and some pretty sweet sourdough sarnies, but in the evening, they’ve added award-winning bartender James Barker to mix up their cocktail experience, providing the triple threat of café-bakery-bar. The friendly atmosphere and early opening hours (6am) are the cream on top of our flat white.
Central: 38 Peel Street, SoHo, 5503 6880
Tai Hang: 1 Lily Street, 5331 5205
This little gem could easily be considered one of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets. The coffee is sublime and goes well with the bright atmosphere and sunny dispositions of the staff at this sweet café. Founded by The Nesbitt Centre, Cafe 8 provides employment and advancement opportunities for those with special needs and learning disabilities, creating a warm, inclusive environment for its staff. This warmth translates both into the service and delicious cakes and pastries on offer – including the best flourless chocolate cake on the block. The rooftop terrace with views over the harbour, along with an impressive herb garden that flavours the free water on offer, are yet more reasons to pop in. There’s a lot of love that goes into this place, and it comes out in the shapes of cookies, coffees and smiles that bring us back again and again.
Rooftop, Hong Kong Maritime Museum, Pier 8, Central, 3791 2158
BEST GREEN EATS
Now, this is not an unexpected win. TREEHOUSE’s Hong Kong-born Christian Mongendre first captured diners’ hearts with HOME – Eat to Live, and when that spot was forced to close, he rose up with another offering that’s captivating taste buds in equal measure. Fast-casual TREEHOUSE not only boasts the same moreish flatbreads, but it now offers a sourdough version. It also has design-your-own grain bowls, vegan ramen, a detox juice range, raw desserts and a deadly “forest burger”. It’s tech savvy – the clever AI will suggest dishes that you might like – and everything is made in-house. TREEHOUSE’s za’atar chips alone are reason enough to head over and dig in. We’re excited that there’s now a second iteration of TREEHOUSE that’s opened at new Central food court BaseHall, where we’re eager to dive into the mapo tofu grain bowl that’s exclusive to that branch, with every bowl purchased providing six meals for people in need via non-profit Foodlink Foundation.
Shop 1, G/F, The Steps, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, 3791 2277
Confusion is delightful. It may be vegan, but it’s adored by everyone we bring here, no matter their dietary preferences. The menu is a panoply of global influences, from Japanese mushroom and tofu soba, to the Garden of Life pasta, to the hedgehog mushroom quesadilla, to the daily soups, to the Indian and Indonesian curries. Wait, did we mention the Impossible Philly cheesesteak on sourdough? Everything we’ve eaten here is the business, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the atmosphere is warm, the staff friendly and the service on point. We adore Confusion’s executive chef and co-owner, Lisa Terauchi, and her commitment to both ethical sourcing and making divine meat-free dishes. We only wish we lived next door to this small wonder of a veggie restaurant.
103 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, 2563 3699
TM’s by The Den
For those in the Sai Ying Pun ‘hood, TM’s by The Den may have been your little secret – until now, that is. This vibrant, friendly family-run spot has been hoisted up with votes from those willing to share, so that’s just what we’ll do. Known for its premium yet affordable Australian Wagyu beef, this place shares parentage with Sai Ying Pun steakhouse The Den, popular bar Pete’s Place and street-food skewer eatery Bingaz, while TM’s focuses on Latin American and Peruvian flavours. They have some pretty hot specials every Monday through Thursday, including Monday and Tuesday Wagyu nights that give diners the gift of choosing between four Wagyu options for just $168 including a drink – score!
23A High Street, Sai Ying Pun, 2872 6288
前座飯堂 (Chin Jor Fan Tong)
This treasure in Tai Hang is the very epitome of a hidden gem. Nestled in a residential side street with no signage, behind antique Chinese screen doors that contrast the neon signs that light up the interior, is this cosy canteen that serves Taiwanese and Southeast Asian-inspired noodle dishes and snacks. Build your own bowl of noodles, cart noodle style (車仔麵), to taste by choosing your own noodles, toppings and soup base. We usually go for the mala spicy beef soup noodles or the Thai-style rice vermicelli mixed with green curry and shredded chicken. Their snacks and appetisers are mandatory too; drunken chicken wings, pepper and mala fried chicken, pickled cucumber and wood ear mushroom, roasted tofu and the Yakult + lime soda drink are just a few of the items that are absolutely worth trying. 前座飯堂 is a diamond in the rough, and we’re giving you directions straight to their heavenly pearly gates.
39 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, 5118 1869
We were so pleased to see this lovely name appear so many times on the voting list for 2020. Despite all the troubles that restaurants have dealt with this year, co-founder of Meraki Hospitality Group Laura Offe has also found the strength and time to guide her team towards doing plenty of good while times have been tough. The staff at Meraki Hospitality (behind modern Middle Eastern spot BEDU, Brazilian-Japanese street-food restaurant Uma Nota and the new Mamma Always Said) have put their efforts into helping others out by joining Feeding Hong Kong and their charity partner RUN in providing meal boxes full of delicious eats to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as offering a collection point for food donations at Uma Nota. Founded just two years ago by brother-and-sister duo Laura and Alexis Offe, the Meraki Hospitality team are already rooting themselves down as a part of the community and making an impact with both their gorgeous food and care for those around them.
We were wowed by Vincent Mui from his very first foray at Test Kitchen, bringing Top Chef star Kwame Onwuachi’s uniquely stunning cuisine in from the USA. The concept of a permanent pop-up was groundbreaking at the time, and Test Kitchen continues to be a fascinating display of what could be the evolution of the restaurant scene. Test Kitchen itself is a beautiful dining space, but it functions like a blank canvas that allows chefs the freedom to fill it with the story of their cuisine. With more than 50 pop-ups under his belt from over 100 chefs around the world, Mui has given Hong Kongers adventurous and experimental flavours from outside the city, as well as offerting local chefs the chance to flex their muscles outside the confines of the restaurants in which they work. What started as a cool idea has become our constant source of inspiration in discovering new chefs and making new friends in this entirely new way to dine.
MOST INSPIRING INITIATIVE
Led by Singaporean social enterprise Project Dignity, Dignity Kitchen offers more than just delectable Singaporean hawker eats. If the thought of laksa, Hainan chicken rice and pandan chiffon cake have got you salivating, at Dignity Kitchen you can enjoy these guilty pleasures knowing that you’re also supporting a truly commendable cause. Dignity Kitchen is the world’s first social enterprise food court that works with disadvantaged and disabled individuals. Offering culinary training programmes for these individuals, as well as catering services and an event space, Dignity Kitchen aims to restore dignity to the differently abled and to increase employment amongst this community.
2/F, 618 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, 2561 2633
Black Sheep Restaurants’ SOP: COVID-19 Playbook
We have seen a gargantuan display of community spirit during the difficult times that the F&B industry has recently faced. We wanted to highlight a particularly poignant effort that started as an internal protocol for safety and solidarity during the pandemic, which accidentally became the international model through simple generosity of spirit. Black Sheep Restaurants’ SOP: COVID-19 Playbook details strict yet comforting instructions on how to handle the crisis. Black Sheep co-founders Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain generously circulated the manual to aid other F&B outlets in Hong Kong, never imagining that it would make its way around the world and become the gold-standard code for hospitality during the novel coronavirus outbreak. The playbook has been disseminated in over 30 countries, translated into several languages and used at hotels, schools and in the fashion and retail industries. By sharing resources with others and putting their staff first by guiding them through extensive training, the Black Sheep team have proven themselves as role models for employers everywhere, extending far beyond the F&B industry. Available to download on their website, Black Sheep continues to update the handbook, which is currently on version number 4.
FOODIE SUSTAINABILITY AWARD
This gutsy chef has been chipping away for years at sustainability initiatives within the confines of haute- cuisine restaurant Amber. An iconic two-Michelin-starred eatery within five-star hotel The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Amber has long reigned as a must-dine establishment in Hong Kong, but Chef Ekkebus has gradually been making efforts to lower the carbon footprint of his fine-dining establishment. This year, he has eliminated all single-use plastics, an effect that has snowballed to take effect within all Mandarin Oriental hotels by 2021. When Amber closed to refurbish in 2018, Chef Ekkebus used the time to come back with bold new menu offerings that are entirely gluten and dairy free. You might not be able to fathom fine dining without all the butter-, milk- and cream-filled numbers, but Chef Ekkebus has doggedly found a way to make Amber’s dishes equally delicious without using any of the artery-clogging elements that we usually associate with special-occasion eating. Showcasing ethically caught fish, reducing the use of refined sugar and with half the menu now plant based, each dish is still as refined and meticulous as what brought the restaurant its fame in the first place. It’s a brazen effort and one that has resulted in stellar reviews for a haute-cuisine menu that not only tastes good but that nourishes diners’ bodies as well. The fine-dining rules have changed – and not everyone is keeping up – but Chef Ekkebus is ahead of the curve, leading by example in an arena that’s not known for embracing change. For that, he should be applauded and awarded as a role model, spearheading an ethical and health-conscious transformation for the future of fine dining.
FOODIE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
We love giving gongs to the long-standing establishments of Hong Kong, of which there are not nearly enough. It’s hard to endure in this town, but French fine diner Amigo in Happy Valley has done more than simply endure – it’s excelled for almost 50 years. Serving up white-gloved French cuisine, the tuxedoed waiters deliver an old-world charm set amongst the dark wood and velvet interiors of this elegant restaurant that’s housed in a Spanish-style mansion. Think classic dishes of snail soup, seared foie gras, grilled lamb chops with mint sauce and Grand Marnier soufflé that have kept their loyal customer base happy, returning year after year for a taste of time-honoured recipes to savour again and again. With a wine cellar that boasts more than 2,000 bottles of mainly French wines, Amigo has undergone very little change through its half a decade, a fact that its customers relish. Amigo was founded by Yeung Wing-chung, or Uncle Five, who hails from a toy-manufacturing dynasty and has employed some members of staff for over 30 years. Yeung famously stated that he opened the upmarket restaurant because he wanted to do something fun; we think that’s an achievement in itself, let alone by providing 50 years of flawless cuisine and service.
79A Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, 2577 2202/8993
Foodie Forks 2020 partners
Foodie Forks 2020 would not have been possible if not for our generous partners. With their help and your votes, we were able to donate $20,000 to two charities in Hong Kong.
Uber Eats is an on-demand food delivery app and website that helps to bring millions of people around the world the food they want, at the tap of a button. We partner with over 400,000 restaurants in more than 6,000 cities across 45 countries and six continents who make meals for every taste and occasion. From speciality local favourites to everyday national brand names, Uber Eats offers millions of dishes while maintaining an average delivery time of under 30 minutes. Read more about Uber Eats.
Made possible in partnership with
Lee Kum Kee was established in 1888 when its founder, Lee Kum Sheung, invented oyster sauce. With a glorious history of over 100 years, Lee Kum Kee has become an international household name as well as a symbol of quality and trust. Read more about Lee Kum Kee.
With thanks to our venue partner
Guests of The Murray, Hong Kong will experience new encounters and timeless pleasures and an opportunity to discover new styles, tastes and cultures through its unique signature experiences. Built in 1969, the building has won multiple awards for its groundbreaking and energy-efficient design. Sir Norman Foster’s team at Foster + Partners accepted the challenge to redesign the architectural and interior finishes and are now bringing this magnificent building to life as a celebration of the past and future. Read more about The Murray, Hong Kong.
For more articles like this, like Foodie on Facebook