Find out where our readers have deemed the best places to dine this year. With categories that range from Best Restaurant, to Hidden Gem, to Chef of the Year, to Food Hero, here are all the places and faces you voted for:
Best New Restaurant
Readers’ Choice: New Punjab Club
Predictably when a genuine passion project hits the ground, people can feel it. And you all certainly have felt it with your votes for New Punjab Club. This sweetly theatrical eatery is designed in the theme of post-colonial, liberated Punjab and pays homage to the birthplace of the long-standing crew of dedicated staff amongst the Black Sheep Restaurants group, who hail predominantly from India and Pakistan. The restaurant is an obvious source of pride for the staff, who knowledgeably narrate the dishes as they are served. The food ranges from popular street-food snacks to traditional recipes from the owner’s father’s restaurant, cooked in the original tandoori ovens brought over from Lahore. It’s playful, with artists like Tom Jones frequently oozing out of the speakers, the service is flawless and the food is a beautiful education on the diversity of a cuisine scarcely seen in Hong Kong.
34 Wyndham Street, Central, 2368 1223
Editors’ Choice: Gough’s on Gough
Dining at Gough’s is not just a feast for the taste buds, but an experience for all the senses. Created by famed British designer Timothy Oulton, and situated next door to his interior-design shop, Gough’s dazzles with its moonstone bar before enticing guests up the golden spiral staircase to the eccentric black-and-white-marble dining room. Set against the backdrop of plush leather sofas and a mix of wall panels ranging from seashells to feathers, Chef Arron Rhodes showcases his interpretation of modern British cuisine. We swooned over the sweet langoustine with cauliflower couscous and the buttery halibut with foraged herbs. And don’t forget to give a nod to “Derek the Diver” in his vintage scuba suit and the piranha tank at the front of the restaurant.
15 Gough Street, Central, 2473 9066
Best New Bar
Readers’ Choice: COA
The bar that has most captured your nightlife-seeking proclivities was set up by beverage industry expert Jay Kahn, a man who clearly knows his audience. The focus on creating affable interactions between the guests and the bar staff comes naturally here, represented in an ethos that you can’t have a great bar without great service. And the service here is as razor sharp as the machete-like tool used for harvesting agave for which COA is named. The bar is simple, moody and chic with its trendy industrial design, but it’s the people tending the bar, and the Oaxaca-inspired cocktails they whip up, that really elevate the vibe. A special section allows the curious to develop a greater appreciation for meticulously crafted cocktails using agave spirits like tequila, along with lesser-known ones like mezcal and raicilla.
LG/F, Wah Shin House, 6–10 Shin Hing Street, Central, 2813 5787
Editors’ Choice: The Old Man
The warm interior of The Old Man is more stylish living room than the usual dark nightlife venues and provides the perfect place for us to drop in and flop down. Named for Hemingway’s short novel that turned him into a literary giant, the bar is also the ideal place to get your creative juices flowing while sipping on reasonably priced (in this city), well-made and edgy cocktails. This bar also personifies the hospitality background of the three industry veterans behind it: Roman Ghale, formerly senior operations manager at The Upper House, Agung Prabowo, previously bar manager at the Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental, and James Tamang, originally The Mira hotel’s bar manager. We feel like The Old Man was as long time coming as Hemingway’s last major work, and we intend to cherish it with as much fervour as the literature behind its name.
LG/F, 37–39 Aberdeen Street, Central, 2703 1899
Readers’ Choice: Mott 32
Walk down the mirrored spiral staircase and enter a world of opulent modern Chinese cuisine. Named after the first Chinese shop on Mott Street in New York, Mott 32 is all about the of reinvigoration of Chinese cuisine. Traditional dishes are given a fresh glaze with international ingredients and new techniques. You crave the juicy Ibérico pork char siu, the black truffle siu mai with soft-boiled quail egg and the crispy pork belly. Already with two locations, in Hong Kong and Vancouver, Mott 32 will soon open in Bangkok and Las Vegas, and we hear there are several more branches in the works.
Basement, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2885 8688
Editors’ Choice: Tate Dining Room & Bar
This is a back-to-back Foodie Forks achievement for Chef Vicky Lau, who won the Editors’ Choice Chef of the Year award last year. We remain steadfast fans of Tate, so elegantly demure with its taupe, muted pink and brushed gold colour palette, and the exquisite seasonal tasting menus that Chef Lau puts out, with each dish having its own story to tell. For us, special occasions are synonymous with Tate.
210 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, 2555 2172
Chef of the Year
Readers’ Choice: Uwe Opocensky
We first fell in love with Chef Uwe Opocensky’s cooking at the Mandarin Grill + Bar at Hong Kong’s oldest luxury hotel, where he dazzled diners with his unique taste pairings and culinary wizardry. In a surprise move, the fine-dining chef left the renowned hotel to enter the burger business with Beef & Liberty, and we were won over as his skills were used to craft beautiful and affordable burgers. He then became one of only two chefs in Hong Kong to adopt Impossible Foods’ meat-but-not-meat burger onto his menu. He also renewed his love of haute cuisine and recently opened Uwe, his eponymous fine-dining restaurant.
Editors’ Choice: David Lai
For foodies in the know, David Lai is one of Hong Kong’s brightest culinary stars. Beginning his career on the West Coast of the United States, Chef Lai moved back to Hong Kong to help to open Alain Ducasse’s SPOON at the InterContinental. Since then, he’s opened a string of restaurant including Bistronomique, Kushiyaki Beco, On Lot 10, Fish School and Neighborhood. Neighborhood is a particular favourite of ours and recently earned a coveted spot (#32) on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We look forward to more great things from Chef Lai as he helps to write the culinary story of Hong Kong.
Readers’ Choice: Pici
We wholeheartedly agree with your choice for your reliable go-to, where you head time and again for an effortless dining experience. The brainchild of the folks at Pirata Group, homemade pasta specialist Pici became a hit soon after its opening about a year ago on a cosy backstreet in Wanchai. Such was the restaurant’s success that the group have recently gone on to open a second, bigger branch in Central. No matter which spot you head to, you can’t get enough of Pici’s freshly made pasta and chilled vibe.
Central: 24–26 Aberdeen Street, 2755 5233
Wanchai: 16 St Francis Yard, 2755 5523
Editors’ Choice: Zuma
Now, we know this is on the pricier side for this category, but we wanted to pay homage to a restaurant that has remained consistently excellent in our minds. Zuma is an easy choice for a wowing brunch when family come to stay, is elegant yet incredibly welcoming and always delivers on the food front with exceptional Japanese cuisine. They’ve also launched a fun new “night brunch” that highlights their constant innovations in the mixology sphere.
5/F and 6/F, LANDMARK ATRIUM, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 3657 6388
Readers’ Choice: Cupping Room Coffee Roasters
Though their coffee is on the pricey side, that doesn’t stop peeps flocking to the three branches of Cupping Room for some quality java brewed up from beans courtesy of their local roastery in Sheung Wan. Opened in 2011, before the coffee craze was in full swing in Hong Kong, Cupping Room also offers a tempting food menu, with the breakfast dishes especially favoured by readers. Such is the café’s popularity that they even offer branded merchandise for sale: a cupping spoon emblazoned with their motto, “Cup like a Champ”.
Central: 18 Cochrane Street, 2511 3518
Sheung Wan: 299 Queen’s Road Central, 2799 3398
Wanchai: 32 Swatow Street, 2371 2338
Editors’ Choice: Bakehouse
Though it’s tucked away in an obscure street in chaotic Wanchai, it’s easy to spot Bakehouse. Just look for the queue! Opened by renowned pastry chef Grégoire Michaud, the bakery-cafe offers a bevy of scrumptious goodies ranging from delectable pastries, to naturally leavened sourdough bread, to freshly made sandwiches and steaming cups of coffee. There’s a sit-down café section, as well as a takeaway counter for the various baked goods. We drool just thinking about the buttery, flaky croissants and the addictive double-chocolate cookies. Make sure to line up early before they’re all sold out, as the bakery only makes a limited quantity of each item every day.
14 Tai Wong Street East, Wanchai, no phone
Readers’ Choice: MANA!
Beloved pioneering zero-waste café MANA! proves with its constant queues around the block come lunch hour that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand. Our readers love this place, and it’s a very easy place to love for being an industry leader in terms of eco-friendliness. MANA! has a comprehensive waste-separation and recycling system integrated into their daily operations where all paper, plastic, glass and food scraps/leftovers/waste are separated, hand-rinsed, collected and recycled right here in Hong Kong. Customers also participate in this effort and in the ethos of “diet change, not climate change” as a whole by separating their own post-eating waste into the bins provided.
This forward-thinking initiative and community involvement is what people love about MANA! and completely thwarts the argument that the government is entirely to blame for the lack of recycling facilities here. If the process does not exist, create it and spread the responsibility to all. This primarily vegan establishment generates 1,500kg of food scraps and customer leftovers every month that are laboriously delivered to their organic farm partners five times every week using their own MANA! Mobile. If that’s not inspirational evidence of what can be done, we don’t know what is.
92 Wellington Street, Central, 2851 1611
Editors’ Choice: Africa Coffee & Tea
Using their walk-in café and event space to bring African teas, coffees and cuisine to Hong Kong with an ethos driven by equality, sustainability and supporting women working within the production process, ACT‘s mission is to produce premium single-origin products in an ethical and community-edifying manner. They visit the farms that produce their products to establish face-to-face relationships. They then support these farms by providing expert trainers to improve crop yields, maximise natural systems’ efficiency and resist foreign “big agriculture”, as well as run leadership-development programmes for young women in Africa. This spirit shines through in everything from the framed images of the farms they work with down to the friendly staff. You‘ll find dishes such as Ethiopian beef stew (doro) with injera, South African chicken drumettes and stir-fried tofu with Ethiopian Berbere spice that you can have to dine in or take away (in recyclable packaging, of course).
Suite 1501–1504, 15/F, 41 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang, 2180 7536
Best New Concept
Readers’ Choice: FRANCIS
It’s safe to say by the number of votes that flooded in for this new wine bar that you lot are picking up what these guys are putting down. The thing that sets FRANCIS apart – aside from the bold uppercasing – is the community-centric focus that the three stalwarts of the industry have devised. The gents behind it include Israeli chef Asher Goldstein and well-known sommelier Simone Sammuri, both previously from SoHo’s beloved 121BC, along with the man-with-the-plan, long-standing restaurant manager James Ward. They wanted to bring carefully curated and affordable wines along with Middle Eastern cuisine to a friendly, inclusive environment that also happens to be fun and chic – the kind of place you can go a couple times a week, whether it be for a bite or a drink or a natter, and the kind of place where everybody knows your name and what you like to drink.
4–6 St Francis Street, Wanchai, 3101 9521
Editors’ Choice: Flamingo Bloom
It’s hard to make a repeat customer out of us here at Foodie, what with all the new restaurants and menus we’re always trying (who’s complaining?), but this Chinese tea salon made a big impact on us upon its opening last summer with its colourful, eye-catching decor and inflatable pink flamingo drink holders. Flamingo Bloom’s all-natural floral teas (which we prefer iced, but hot versions are also available) are mixed with fresh fruits, boba pearls, aloe vera and/or a salted milk cap – a decadent topping of milk and cheese whipped together – for the perfect customised cuppa.
Central: 50 Stanley Street, 5177 8255
TST: 8–20 Cameron Road, 5178 7067
Readers’ Choice: Three Blind Mice
We love this secluded Wanchai spot as much as you do and are actually a bit reluctant to share our collective adoration with the masses for fear of not being able to snag a table in the future. This charming, independently owned eatery offers some of the best comfort food around (the pastas and meat dishes are standouts) at wallet-friendly prices, especially the set lunch menu. Three Blind Mice’s staff are also extremely warm and welcoming. What more could you ask for?
35 Ship Street, Wanchai, 2447 7793
Editors’ Choice: The Woods Annex
Happening upon this little masterpiece is like uncovering your new favourite bookstore – it’s full of wonder and enchantment and a place you could spend hours. It doesn’t hurt that it’s set up much like a bookshop, with wall-to-wall shelves housing the widespread spirits; the rare ones contain library cards on which to stamp your name on any you’ve sampled. Intrigued? This spirit library is the brainchild of Victoria Chow of The Woods, who will walk you through a tasting experience on any and all liquors you want to discover, from gins and rums to tequilas and mezcals – and everything in between. Her evening tasting sessions allow discerning drinkers and exploratory imbibers to try a tempting taste of several across the board to expand their drinking palates and engage with her extensive knowledge of the spirit world (not the supernatural variety, but who knows what any particular evening will hold?).
LG/F, 17 Hollywood Road, Central, 2522 0281
Readers’ Choice: Peggy Chan
There is so much goodness packed into Peggy Chan, it’s not surprising that it’s exhibited in the city’s most reputable and groundbreaking vegetarian restaurant, Grassroots Pantry. She sees transforming the view of “raw vegan” as a challenge. Getting meat eaters to enjoy her cuisine – which she does, frequently – works simply because she elevates vegetables to marvellous heights using unprocessed, organic and sustainable ingredients. She doesn’t stop with her diners either – her Collective’s Table series is an inspirational collaboration where she dares Hong Kong’s meat-loving chefs to test their culinary skills without the use of eggs, dairy or meat. She’s inspiring other chefs to create more interesting plant-based dishes in their own restaurants and, in turn, enticing guests to order them. It’s truly disrupting the culinary norms we’ve known for decades – and it’s important.
Once described by staff as a gentle dictator, Peggy isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo and change paradigms for how a standard chef-restaurateur may look, act and behave. She trains her staff to uphold the values she holds dear, but also provides them freedom and empowerment to create for themselves. Peggy Chan is a role model and a game changer within the world of F&B and is a founding member of Hong Kong’s Zero Waste Alliance. She has won plenty of our Foodie Forks awards in the past, and we are delighted that you appreciate her as much as we do.
Editors’ Choice: Todd Darling
Doing things ethically since the moment they began, Homegrown Foods have always maintained an admirable ethos, alongside consistently amazing, down-to-earth cuisine at Posto Pubblico, Linguini Fini and Stone Nullah Tavern. Committed to reducing the waste they generate within their restaurants, they are also paragons for the profitable aspect of doing so, explaining that cutting down on inefficiencies helps to make them more lucrative as well as more appetising to diners. They’ve created an eco-friendly cycle of on-site composting to create fertiliser for their herb gardens and use locally sourced ingredients whenever possible that are naturally bursting with flavour because they haven’t travelled great distances.
As founder, Todd Darling maintains face-to-face relationships with farmers and is frequently off on food-exploration trips to uncover truly organic products in far-flung places like Afghanistan to source raisins, almonds and mulberry syrup or to Mongolia for sea buckthorn and yak jerky. His next venture will see him travelling to Yunnan to hunt truffles and mushrooms and to Kashgar for their special apples. He is a true food adventurer who shares his spoils with his customers and promotes organic farming that is both better for us and the environment.
A big thank you to our Foodie Forks 2018 partners: