Our food and drinks writers have the incredibly unenviable job – wink, wink – of eating their way around Hong Kong's exciting and ever-changing restaurant scene to review the new eateries that pop up seemingly every other week in our great city. Naturally, over the course of this past year, some of the many places we've reviewed have stood out and gained a place in our hearts. We therefore present this list of the restaurants we've enjoyed reviewing most in 2019. For those of you staying in Hong Kong this winter holiday, why not try one – or all – of these spots and feel the same foodie joy that we did!
Restaurants we loved most in 2019
We fell in love when we reviewed Simon Rogan’s first foray into the Hong Kong dining scene back at the beginning of 2019. Aulis offers an introspective and understated dining experience where ideas are hatched, plated and served to no more than 12 guests at a time in a lab-like aesthetic. More than just diners, guests in essence take on the role of an epicurean jury here, because whatever dishes prove successful make it past a large sliding door and onto the menu of Aulis’ more conventional sister restaurant, Roganic. A mixture of flavours, textures, pleasure and discerningness, this provided us with one our favourite foody adventures of 2019.
Julien Royer's first venture outside of Singapore was a hit with our food writers as soon as it opened earlier this year. The restaurant, which is located in PMQ, offers a down-to-earth selection of nostalgic foods made from recipes from the family farm in Cantal, France. We felt the love that went into each and every dish here, and accordingly bestowed it with no less than five stars, and selected it to head our 52 Best Restaurants list in the later part of 2019.
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, went on to open its first overseas branch at Central’s IFC Mall. We love pretty much everything about this restaurant, from the delectable food to the eye-catching giant green ducks that adorn the dining area.
As the name suggests, this spot serves up lots and lots of grilled chicken, from livers and hearts to smoky, crispy skin, thighs and wings. Apart from the bird, the restaurant offers a few succulent cuts of pork belly and Japanese beef as well. And there's a decent selection of sake, shochu and highballs to wash it all down.
This was one of most interesting places to review of the year, not least because truly exceptional Japanese cuisine can still unfortunately be a little hard to come by in Hong Kong. Although this space didn't have absolutely everything down to a tee, the most important aspect – the food itself – was incredibly delicious and authentic. This is a place to go for discerning washoku aficionados, or those looking to really dip their toes into the world of Japanese cuisine.
We revisited this legendary Hong Kong eatery after it came back from a two-year hiatus and remembered immediately why Hugo's was a hit the first time around. The menu, prepared by chef Richard Sawyer from The Wolseley and Mon Plaisir in London, is filled with the oldies but goodies such as prawn cocktail, steak tartare prepared tableside and lobster bisque flamed in front of diners. And that’s the whole shtick here: table performances, as a team of chefs and servers make your dish in front of your very eyes, and that is what you pay for in this unique dining experience.
Much like its slightly older sister restaurant Wagyumafia next door, Mashi No Mashi is cool and minimalistic, with counter seating that only runs 12 chairs deep. The service is equally simple, with an automated ticket machine near the entrance from which guests place their orders in true Japanese ramenya style. There are only three noodles to choose from – the regular tsukemen, wagyu tsukemen and the tokusei wagyu tsukemen, but each is superbly done.
Back in autumn 2019, we revelled in dining in the new concept from the team behind popular Brazilian-Japanese fusion restaurant Uma Nota and Middle Eastern spot Bedu. Jalan, brought the fun and exoticism of Malaysian street food markets to Soho, and we still can't get enough of it.
Repulse Bay got a taste of Southeast Asian beach culture back in July, when Sip Song opened 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, the kitchen team highlights some deeper cuts from the Thai culinary repertoire, including kai look keuy, deep-fried hard-boiled eggs served with dried chillies, crispy shallots and a sweet-and-sour tamarind sauce, as well as steamed whole fish served in a broth brimming with chilli and lime.
Mana!, torchbearers of the ‘fast slow food’ movement, opened a third location in 2019, much to the pleasure of our food writers. The cavernous 1,600-square-feet space plays host to a range of delectable bites like yams and dip, all contained within biodegradable, plant-based packaging. Now that's something to love
Fresh off his appearance as a finalist on Netflix’s The Final Table, Shane Osborn surreptitiously returned in 2019 with ‘casual neighbourhood bistro’ that serves an understated and modest line-up of dishes to delicious effect.