Hong Kong: Exciting New Restaurants to Dine at

A diverse crop of kitchen maestros—including a world-renowned pastry chef—are behind these four must-visit dining spots in Asia’s Harbor City.

Sushi at The Araki features local seafood such as baby golden cuttlefish.

The Araki

Tokyo diners mourned when sushi master Mitsuhiro Araki closed his three-Michelin-starred Ginza restaurant in 2013 and moved to London to open The Araki, which also rose (albeit briefly) to three-star status. Now, Araki is showing off his culinary skills in Hong Kong, where his latest venture has taken up residence at Kowloon’s House 1881 heritage hotel. While Araki’s specialty is tuna—his suppliers are the best in the industry and have been working with him since his Tokyo days—his edge is clearly evident in a curiosity and willingness to explore seafood from local waters. In Hong Kong, this translates into sushi made with the likes of sea bream, tiger prawns, and lightly poached mantis shrimp. There’s also been some experimentation with Cantonese flavors, such as a starter that combines fish maw and bird’s nest (both cooked in sake) with abalone to create an umami-packed and texturally diverse dish that is at once familiar and refreshing to Hong Kong palates. The rice used is grown on a 500-year-old Japanese farm, and the resulting shari (the rice portion of nigiri sushi) is elegant. Each grain is its own entity, yet the overall bundle is held together with a balanced firmness—neither too loose nor too dense, yielding a subtle, barely-there acidity. With just 12 counter seats, The Araki is an exclusive experience where the red carpet is quite literally laid out beneath your feet. Apart from a robust kitchen team, Araki’s wife manages the front of house, ensuring cups stay full with a selection of premium sake that includes bottles made exclusively for the restaurant (House 1881, 2A Canton Rd.; 852/3988-0000)—Janice Leung Hayes

Vintage LPs and counter-side seating inside Mono.

Mono

It seemed an unlikely move when Ricardo Chaneton, head chef at cutting-edge Mirazur on the French Riviera, was lured four years ago to work in one of Hong Kong’s most conservative restaurants, Petrus. The food got a big lift however, and diners took notice; if only he was free to cook the way he wanted. Enter Mono, a co-venture in the Central district with restaurateur Yenn Wong, which puts the Venezuelan-Italian chef firmly in control. The retro-sleek venue features vintage brass-and-glass sconces, marble and terrazzo floors, and a stainless-steel chef’s counter—the best spot to catch the action and interact with Chaneton and his team. A single tasting menu combines French haute cuisine with contemporary flourishes that draw on Chaneton’s heritage. Raw carabinero prawn is a textural mash-up with crisp Granny Smith apple and velvety shallot cream. Quinoa bread is a course on its own, served midway with top-notch olive oil. A dish of Arctic char nods to Hong Kong with the use of beef tendon, while the signature Monkbread marries monkfish and sweetbread in a Caribbean-inspired green sauce. The star of the show, however, is the Mieral pigeon, cooked to pink perfection and served with a complex mole sauce made before your eyes. Service is smooth and the wine list, dominated by Bordeaux and Burgundies, is excellent, with a few surprises from South America slipped in (5/F, 18 On Lan St.; 852/2506-8676). —Kee Foong

Henry’s chef Nathan Green.

Henry

Plant-based dining may be all the rage today, but this southern American–style smokehouse in the Rosewood hotel is an unapologetic temple to meat. Carcasses hang from hooks in refrigerated glass units, bloodied steaks are brought to diners for inspection, and flesh is seared on an open fire. It’s a primal yet elevated setting, a cross between gentleman’s club and modern saloon, and the city’s carnivores are sinking their teeth in with gusto: the restaurant has been booked solid since opening in December. Assuming the role of butcher-in-chief and pitmaster is British chef de cuisine Nathan Green, who sources premium cuts from leading American producers. Splash out on bone-in USDA Black Angus from 44 Farms in Texas, aged for 90 days in bourbon and ash, and theatrically flamed tableside. The seven-pepper beef brisket is a delectably smoky, fatty cut served with an espresso barbecue sauce. It can be ordered alone or as part of a mixed grill of lamb, pork, housemade sausages, and bacon. Sides are hearty too (think mashed potatoes with pig’s trotter) while a mammoth Baked Alaska could feed four. Wines are as gutsy as the servings, with plenty of big-ticket American cabernets and other reds, many of which are available as magnums. Consider Henry a treat, when vegan just won’t do and you want to put environmental concerns aside for an evening (5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong; 18 Salisbury Rd.; 852/3891-8732). —KF

The Milk Tea Cookie Shot at Dang Wen Li.

Dang Wen Li

Pastry wizard Dominique Ansel, he of the trademarked cronut—a cross between a croissant and donut—that sent New York’s sugar fiends into meltdown, has opened his first Asian outpost, in Tsim Sha Tsui. Missing, though, is his most famous pastry. Instead, Dang Wen Li, a transliteration of Dominique, features sweet sensations created exclusively for the local market, and pays homage to Hong Kong’s favorite snacks. Diners can eat in or take away, with a large display cabinet at the entrance filled with temptations made with a firm eye on social media. A bakery staple, pineapple bun, appears here as coconut dacquoise filled with salted mascarpone cream and a slightly tart pineapple, lime, and passion fruit jam. Thousand-year egg comes as chocolate mousse with a coffee black sesame jelly yolk, and siu mai, a dim sum favorite, features a soft pear-jelly center. Most tables order the Milk Tea Cookie Shot, a chocolate-lined biscuit cup shaped like a Yakult bottle, into which diners pour cold-brewed milk tea; classic viennoiserie such as kouign-amann, a caramelized croissant-like pastry from Brittany, is also popular. If the sugar high gets too much, try the turnip cake muffin with scrambled egg (G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Rd.; 852/2613-8618). —KF

This article originally appeared in the April/July 2020 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Hong Kong’s New Bites”).

 

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