Renowned for its namesake duck waffle which has already been sold on over a million plates, the famed and hip London restaurant Duck & Waffle made its debut in Hong Kong by running a successful pop-up at the Ritz-Carlton three years ago, and is now coming back to open its first overseas branch at Central’s IFC Mall, dedicated to serving up its signature all-day breakfasts curated by executive chef Daniel Barbosa. Stepping into Duck & Waffle, which boasts several eye-catching giant green ducks set in the main dining area coupled with the unique island-shaped bar design, one can immediately appreciate the place's spaciousness and convivial aura. The first thing we ordered is the classic Duck & Waffle ($230). With an oil-coated duck confit and a crispy fried duck egg placed on top of the waffle, the best way to taste it is to first remove the duck bones, poke the egg yolk, pour in the cinnamon syrup mixed with mustard seeds and cut it all the way down. As the duck is marinated two days ahead of time, slow-cooked with duck oil for ten hours, and then deep-fried for a quick finish before serving, the duck skin is exceptionally crunchy while the meat remains tender and moist, forming a rich and delightful bite with the lightly sweetened waffle. The Spiced Ox Cheek Doughnut ($135) is another signature dish of Duck & Waffle. Referencing the traditional Chinese buns, these crispy doughnuts are filled with juicy minced beef cheeks. Though a little bit spicy, we love how its greasines
Italian cuisine combined with stunning harbour views make for a winning combination at this stylish restaurant, bar and terrace in TST East. The food is traditional Italian, with a wide selection of antipasti and pastas, as well as meat and seafood dishes. The pizza here is great too, made in the wood stove oven, the crust is as light as a cracker. Although the focus is on food, this is also a great place for drinks with a comfy bar serving up a range of cocktails and other beverages. Spasso, G5-8, 12-17 Empire Ctr, 68 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2730 8027; divinogroup.com.
It's going on half a century since Gaylord opened in Tsim Sha Tsui as among the first purveyors of Indian cuisine in Hong Kong. Since then, the restaurant has cemented itself as a foodie institution, and so it makes sense that the team behind it would once again delve into their cuisine of expertise in this new venture. While Gaylord's schtick is in offering classic Indian favourites however, Gunpowder breaks tradition, serving up creative new takes on Indian delicacies alongside signature cocktails in a restobar concept that is as cool as the location on Wan Chai's trendy Ship Street. The restaurant's statement of intent is unabashedly delivered from the moment of entry, through a nicely-done motif of sleek, modern tables, chairs and fixtures punctuated by flashes of bright crimson and twinkling tiles to add a dash of Indian sizzle to the interior. The menu's headliner, the Gunpowder Chicken ($98) similarly screams modern Indian, taking fried chicken and infusing it with Milagai Podi – or Gunpowder – which is a robust spice mix that the owner Rajeev Bhasin grew up on and after which his latest restaurant is named. Delicious and with a nice kick, the chicken is a great lead-in before getting onto other highlights like the coconut paste-tempered Peri Peri Scallops ($118) and the Bollywood Bravas ($88), which give a cheeky and scrumptious Spanish twist to the Indian staple of spiced potatoes. The signature cocktails aren't bad either, with especially The Masala Mary – a Blood
The newest addition to Lan Kwai Fong, Fang Fang has a broad pan-Asian menu that’s rich and diverse. With experienced names from Hong Kong and abroad heading the bar and kitchen, both food and drinks consistently deliver. Occupying the former Casa Lisboa spot in LKF Tower, Fang Fang is a spacious, chic space with touches of Asian flair. There’s one of those now compulsory half-baked fictional backstories (thanks Mrs Pound, Foxglove et al) claiming the restaurant is named after a mysterious Chinese opera singer, but that’s of little interest compared to who’s running the show. The kitchen is helmed by chef Kent Lee Chin-heng, formerly of Hakkasan Mumbai and London’s Kai Mayfair, while the bar is managed by Gagan Gurung, who earned a stellar reputation during his time at Zuma. Quite the formidable pair when it comes to contemporary Asian cuisine and cocktails, then. Settling in for a drink first, we start with an Omikuji Girl, a mix of chilli tequila, barley sochu, yuzu, cardamom, shiso and five spice powder that comes served in a cup shaped like a female doll. A fragrant and spicy lass, the well-balanced ingredients and aesthetic appeal make for a fine combination. The Trai Dat, is an even cuter drink served in a panda-shaped vessel. The adorable cup is filled with turmeric gin, coconut milk, pineapple, lemon and ginger. The result is a tropical drink much like a pina colada with a Thai twist. Another winner. Moving from bar to dinner table, we start with five spice squid an
Fresh off his appearance as a finalist on Netflix’s The Final Table, Shane Osborn surreptitiously returns with ‘casual neighbourhood bistro’ Cornerstone. Running the show are head chef Neal Ledesma and general manager Didier Yang, both graduates of Osborn’s similarly low-key yet Michelin-starred Arcane. We arrive early, hearing about the no-reservations policy, and, happily, there’s a table for two. But soon enough, the 24-seat dining room fills up with a young crowd of couples and professionals. Four of those seats are stools at the stylish faux-marble bar which serves as the base of operations for the sharply dressed waiters. Looking around, it’s like a cool, minimal version of a 1960s living room, accented with muted shades of grey and teal. Sage banquettes run along each side while art deco lamps provide a sultry glow. It’s all very Sean Dix, the designer behind every restaurant in Hong Kong with a bit of cash, including Yardbird and Black Sheep Restaurants’ New Punjab Club and Belon among many others. The fifty-strong by-the-bottle wine list is predominantly French, Italian and Spanish with some new world options. Yang, who is also the sommelier, recommends the pleasingly dry Nino Franco prosecco, which whets the appetite nicely and is one of a handful of affordable options available by the glass. We decide that the steak tartare ($168) is a good place to start – a measure of any restaurant worth its salt. The raw beef is matched by baby artichokes and a remoulade o
Mana!, torchbearers of the ‘fast slow food’ movement, have just opened a third location. And this one is big. As in, 1,600-square-feet big. With this new space located opposite Three Pacific Place in Wan Chai, the plant-based, zero-waste specialists finally have a flagship. It’s a little different from the other two. For starters, neither the shop in Central nor the café in Poho have air-conditioning, but this one (thankfully) does. And while the shop in Central draws grab-and-go crowds and the Poho outlet shuts down before dinner, the Wan Chai branch offers a community space that stays open until 9pm. Not in a rush? Grab a book from the shelf, many of which deal with sustainability and food issues. If you have work to do, plug your laptop into the wall outlets. Mana! Starstreet invites all members of the ‘tribe’ to linger. In fact, founder Bobsy Gaia expects to host events here, from talks to music performances to film screenings. But this new community and dining space is only part of the equation. Mana! has quietly – although very transparently – been building a movement, and now it’s starting to come to fruition. The day before we meet with Gaia and his four like-minded managers over Gin & Kombuchas ($80) and Babylon! Brews ($60) – a crisp, non-GMO, gluten-friendly pale ale made in collaboration with Black Kite Brewery – the group had just pitched for funding at the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund. That stems from an initiative they launched in 2018. Mana! sources biodeg
In these parts, rarely does a restaurant fly under the radar. Most are backed by one of a handful of noteworthy food and beverage groups or repped by marketing agencies that flood inboxes to make sure no opening goes unreported. That’s what makes Cardamom Street such a breath of fresh air. The Indian restaurant on Elgin Street arrived with hardly a whisper. No press releases, no marketing campaigns, no news at all. One day it simply opened, and that was that. Cardamom Street doesn’t necessarily stand alone, though. It’s the second restaurant from banker-turned-restaurateur Tiena Sekharan. The other, Masala Train in Wan Chai, is a hidden gem, serving homestyle Indian food for takeout prepared without artificial colours or flavourings. Sekharan has carried over that focus on all-natural ingredients to Cardamom Street, her first proper sit-down restaurant. While it might be more upscale than Masala Train, you can still leave your Oxford shoes at home. There’s a bare-bones bar in the back of the room and out in front a dog-friendly porch that faces Fini’s across the street. On the walls hang posters of colourful mandalas and elephants and other Indian iconography. Sure, the artwork swims in South Asian clichés, but it keeps the atmosphere casual, pleasant and unpretentious all the same. With the food, Cardamom Street aims for something a little fancier than your average takeaway curries and samosas. In a follow-up e-mail, Sekharan says she was inspired by her Indian heritage as
Repulse Bay gets a taste of Southeast Asian beach culture this July, when Sip Song opens up in The Pulse. A play on words, Sip Song means 12 in Thai, but the ‘sip’ part also refers to the obvious in this scenario: sipping on drinks by the beach. In any event, under the stewardship of Bangkok native Nuch Srichantranon, the kitchen team intends to highlight some deeper cuts from the Thai culinary repertoire. That includes kai look keuy, deep-fried hard-boiled eggs served with dried chillies, crispy shallots and a sweet-and-sour tamarind sauce (editor’s note: kai look keuy are amazing and criminally underrepresented outside of Thailand), as well as steamed whole fish served in a broth brimming with chilli and lime.
When Julien Royer announced his intentions to open his first venue outside of Singapore in Hong Kong, fresh off his flagship restaurant Odette being crowned Asia’s best in early 2019, he promised a more down-to-earth experience. Not just for diners – who in today’s fast-paced, focus-deficient world are demanding a less stuffy and formal brand of fine dining – but for himself as well. Louise was meant to be a tribute to his upbringing, a chance to champion heritage recipes born out of his nostalgia for family meals on the farm in Cantal, France. It’s all that and more. Dining at Louise does feel like dining at a family member’s house, if your family owned a plantation and this was French Indochina. The food is hearty and approachable, the wine list long and exceptional, and the design, devised by architect André Fu, at once subtropical, opulent and playful. Fu turned the Grade II historic building at PMQ previously occupied by Aberdeen Street Social into a fictional private home. The ground-floor bar and casual dining space, which serves drinks and light bites all day and night, is awash in jungle green, false bird-of-paradise carpet and paintings that depict vaguely familiar island scenery. The second-floor dining room, where you’ll sit down to lunch or dinner, features a warm colour scheme infused with splashes of goldenrod and bone white. Rattan plays a big role, too – in the seating, in the geometric patterns adorning the ceiling, in the wicker-like weave of the carpet.
Hong Kong has a complicated relationship with tacos. They’re often soggy and insipid or tiny and overpriced. Taqueria Super Macho, however, hopes to hit the sweet spot between high- and lowbrow, serving tacos inspired by Mexico’s coastal cuisine in a lively but casual atmosphere. ‘Lively but casual’ might be an understatement, though. Every time the door opens, the floor and bar staff shout ‘¡Bienvenidos!’ And, frequently, the corrido music pumping through the speakers is broken by the unmistakable saxophone riff of Tequila Song by The Champs and the room erupts in a chorus of ‘¡tequila!’ The margarita pitchers are novelty-sized sharing glasses. Sombreros appear on strangers’ heads. It is, in short, a fiesta. And the drinks keep partygoers well-lubricated. The margaritas – classic, passion fruit or mango, on the rocks or frozen ($88) – are potent and delicious. Five house cocktails, including a riff on the Michelada called Viva México ($88), provide an alternative to margaritas and run-of-the-mill Mexican lagers like Pacífico, Dos Equis, Corona and Modelo Negra ($58 each, or $298 for a bucket of six). While the vibe may be more Señor Frog’s than Frontera Grill, when it comes to food expect more than you would get from your standard cantina. Black Sheep Restaurants founder Christopher Mark and development chef Billy Otis spent months scouring the Mexican coast, sampling taco after taco in search of culinary inspiration. They returned to Hong Kong with recipes that seem sim