Crispy, fried bread crumbed packages filled with mashed potatoes or béchamel sauce and a range of different meat, fish, vegetables and cheese. What’s not to love? Holly Graham seeks out Hong Kong’s best golden delights.
Amazake Amazake is bursting with good cocktails, beer and drinking games. With lively neighbours such as Play and the newly opened Studio, Amazake’s food is oft forgotten, but it’s spot on when it comes to late night bites. Before getting down to some beer pong, line your stomach with Amazake’s beef korokke (Japanese croquettes). These crunchy golden balls of meaty goodness are smothered in thick, sweet and salty tonkatsu sauce, spiked with mustard and mellowed by creamy Japanese mayonnaise. They pair perfectly with copious amounts of sake. $88, G/F, On Hing Bldg, 1 On Hing Terrace, Central, 2537 7787; amazake.hk.
Catalunya Catalunya has been one of the hottest tables in town since it opened at the end of 2014. The Wan Chai restaurant recently welcomed Josep Casas as their new head chef, who’s worked with the legendary Ferran Adrià. It should come as no surprise then that Catalunya’s delectable jamón ibérico croquettes are some of Hong Kong’s best. A silky smooth velouté takes the place of the mash, which adds an unrivaled depth of flavour to these delightful morsels. The generous amount of jamón in the mixture adds a kick of saltiness to the creamy filling. $110, G/F, Guardian Hse, 32 Oi Kwan Rd, Wan Chai, 2866 7900; catalunya.hk.
Ham & Sherry Jason Atherton and the prolific Yenn Wong followed up 22 Ships with Ham & Sherry to double as a waiting area for guests. But the little sister quickly became a star in its own right. Catalonian blue and white tiles line the bar and hocks of cured ham hang from glass cabinets. The restaurant's croquettes use ham, naturally, with béchamel sauce mixed with rendered fat from the gently pan-cooked Serrano ham. Extra depth comes from grated fresh nutmeg, all encased in a perfectly golden bread crumb coating. $58, 1-7 Ship St, Wan Chai, 2555 0628; fb.com/hamandsherry.
Isono Eatery & Bar Behind a heavy steel and glass door on the sixth floor of PMQ lies Isono Eatery & Bar, which uses rugged materials to create a rustic, spacious open dining room, and serves authentic, wallet-friendly dishes that bring together elements from Italian, Spanish and French cuisine. Isono’s casual atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for communal dining and a serving or three of its delicious croquettes. The subtly salty flakes of cod wrapped in crunchy breadcrumbs are even more excellent when slathered with Isono’s creamy aioli. $65, 6/F, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St, Central, 2156 0688;isono.com.hk.
La Paloma This sexy Spanish joint is headed by Barcelonan chef Willy, who branched out last year to Sai Ying Pun’s Soho 189 with La Paloma. Named after the oldest nightclub in Barcelona and meaning ‘pigeon’ in Spanish, the large restaurant has colourful decor with plenty of pigeons – though not real ones, thankfully. The half-open kitchen houses an authentic Spanish clay oven and La Paloma serves some great suckling pig. The tapas selection here is modern and innovative but the classic Iberian croquettes are the perfect balance of crispy on the outside and creamy in the middle. $70, 1/F, Soho 189, 189 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, 2291 6161; elwillygroup.com.
The Optimist Christian Talpo and Manuel Palacio, the charming gents behind Italian fave Pirata, quickly followed up that restaurant's success by opening The Optimist, which occupies three floors of the same building. Though the charcoal-grilled meats are the stars at The Optimist, smaller tapas plates such as the mushroom croquettes should not be missed. Served on a bed of crunchy julienne potato, these deep-fried balls offer a creamy, funghi funk, and are enough to convert even the most ardent carnivores. $100, 239 Hennessy Rd, Wan Chai, 2433 3324; theoptimist.hk.