Hong Kong’s celebrated chefs and restaurateurs let on to where they go for great meals.
Hong Kong is known as one of Asia’s culinary capitals, a city that pulsates with countless eateries and glistens with Michelin-starred dining institutions. But have you ever wondered where the chefs and restaurateurs of the city’s most feted restaurants eat? We spill the beans here.
After spending 25 years in his adopted hometown of Hong Kong, Umberto Bombana, chef-owner of the three Michelin starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana—ranked No. 4 on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list—has gained a keen appreciation for Cantonese cuisine.
“I go to Celebrity Cuisine in Central every month,” says Bombana who enjoys the “traditional Chinese dishes handled with good techniques” at this classic Cantonese restaurant. “I always order dishes like bird’s nest stuffed in chicken wings and braised beef brisket with turnip in claypot,” he says. Just like no one should step into his perpetually booked flagship in Central without a reservation, Bombana’s advice is to always make advance bookings at Celebrity Cuisine, particularly before festive periods such as Mother’s Day and Chinese New Year.
Celebrity Cuisine, 1/F Lan Kwai Fong Hotel, No. 3 Kau U Fong, Central.
Tel: +852 3650 0066
Hong Kong may be teeming with great seafood restaurants but when Danny Yip, owner of The Chairman, wants the freshest catch, he heads to Waterside Seafood at Lau Fau Shan, a small fishing village in the New Territories.
“Waterside Seafood is an extremely local restaurant for local seafood lovers,” says Yip, whose restaurant is No. 47 on the Asia’s 50 Best list. “It is extremely hard to get wild seafood these days, but many Mainland Chinese fishing boats still unload some of their catch at Lau Fau Shan,” says Yip. He heads to Waterside Seafood Restaurant regularly for the “good steamed fish, local prawns and small fatty crabs”. When making reservations, seafood connoisseurs should also take a leaf out of Yip’s book: “Always reserve the local catch as these are very limited in supply.”
Waterside Seafood Restaurant, 44 Lau Fau Shan Main Street, Lau Fau Shan.
Tel: +852 2472 1011
“I love to eat at Sheung Hei, a claypot rice restaurant where the rice is still cooked over charcoal in the traditional manner,” says Richard Ekkebus, the culinary director of Amber, a two-Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant in The Landmark Mandarin Oriental.
“Claypots are a typical winter dish in Hong Kong, and a generous meal starts from just HK$40.” His all-time favourite dish there is the eel claypot rice. “Ask them to open the lid, pour the soy sauce and close the lid again for five minutes before tucking in. You will not regret the golden brown rice crust!” But for those who enjoy a glass of wine or beer with their meal, Ekkebus cautions, “They do not have an alcohol license, so it is just hot tea!”
Sheung Hei, G/F, 5-7 Mercury Street, Tin Hau.
Tel: +852 2979 0908
“Neighborhood is a smart French-inspired bistro that is known to local food cognoscenti, but remains a hidden secret to most foodies from abroad,” says Hideaki Sato of Ta Vie, a two-Michelin-starred Japanese-French restaurant in Central.
“I like to eat here because the cooking by chef-owner David Lai is tasty and honest,” he says. “Lai is very knowledgeable about French cuisine and local ingredients, and he expresses his cuisine without any fanfare.” Sato-san has many favourites from Neighborhood’s seasonally refreshed menu, amongst them truffle juice-poached Breton artichoke and Ducasse-style warm vegetable dish served in truffle jus. However, he cautions, “The restaurant is very small, and it’s very difficult to find the place!”
Neighborhood, Man Hing Lane, Central.
Tel: +852 2555 2202
“I have never been to restaurant Rech at the InterContinental Hong Kong when it was Spoon,” says Vicky Cheng, referring to the new French seafood restaurant by Alain Ducasse that took over the former space of Spoon.
“But now that I’ve discovered it with my family, I love the amazing view, the friendly staff and how they always welcome my baby with crayons and kid-friendly cutlery,” says the chef-owner of the one-Michelin-starred VEA on Wellington Street. “The oysters and spelt are amazing, as are the small plates of raw and marinated seafood starters,” adds Cheng, who also recommends that diners request for window seats when making reservations. “The restaurant is beautiful but they have extremely limited window seats.”
Rech, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
Tel: +852 2313 2323
Where to Stay
Located smack in Hong Kong’s financial and shopping hub of Central, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental stepped out of a recent makeover by designer Joyce Wang, sporting olive green and bronze tones, luxurious fabrics (think leather headboard and silk fabric wall), 400-thread count beddings by Ploh and a contemporary design in all 109 rooms and suites. Perhaps the biggest in room eye candy is the airy bathroom, which features a deep soaking tub and a rain shower. Culinary director Richard Ekkebus cooks up a fine dining storm in Amber on the eighth floor, but he has also squirrelled in complimentary treats in each room’s glass-chilled vitrine to go with your cup of Nespresso coffee.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central.
Tel: +852 2132 0188
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s September 2017 issue – Singapore’s Top Restaurants 2017/2018, ‘Travel’