This is shaping up to be a great year for Hong Kong’s dining scene. The first three months of the year have already whizzed by in a blur — can you believe it’s April already? — and we’ve had no shortage of new restaurants and cuisines to satisfy our appetites. This month is no exception, with a number of new concepts popping up around the city, as well as improvements on some old favourites. From a Brazilian–Japanese street food joint to a notable Saigon import, here are the top 10 new Hong Kong restaurants that should be on your radar this month.
Playing off the latest trend of Peruvian–Japanese (or “Nikkei”) restaurants that have opened up around town (think TokyoLima and El Mercado), Uma Nota follows in the footsteps of Djapa with its focus on Brazilian–Japanese street food, complemented by colourful Brazilian art and the lively atmosphere of a modern Brazilian boteco. The owner, Alexis Offe, first encountered the style of cooking in São Paulo’s Liberdade district, the home of many Japanese living in Brazil, who have cultivated the local cuisine with their own twist.
Be it skewers, ceviche or fried snacks, traditional Brazilian eats are given a Japanese twist using premium, fresh ingredients at Uma Nota, making for an intriguing menu that’s equally satisfying for afternoon happy hour or a full-blown dinner. Dishes include prawn and calamari ceviche with aji amarillo and coriander, deep-fried Brazilian dumplings with chicken and okra, barbecued chicken thigh skewers, and Brazilian empanadas served with a spicy salsa.
Uma Nota, 38 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2889 7576, uma-nota.com
Formerly Sushi Rozan, Lai Sun Dining’s Japanese restaurant has been re-branded as Sushi Masataka, introducing a brand-new dining experience set to debut in mid-April. Named for its chef Masataka Fujisawa, the new sushi haven will be all about authentic omakase, seating just eight guests in a 1,200-sq.-ft. space. With immaculate interiors creating a typical Japanese zen-like ambience, Sushi Masataka invites guests to indulge in a premium omakase experience with emphasis on the freshest and finest seasonal catches from Japan. Meanwhile, the sake and wine list has been expanded to include more options for a well-rounded meal. We’ll be excited to see how this restaurant stacks up to some of the city’s best omakase meals.
Sushi Masataka, Shop 2, G/F, The Oakhill, 18 Wood Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2574 1333, facebook.com
Die-hard foodies will likely be familiar with Saigon street food star “The Lunch Lady”, first made famous by Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations in 2009. Headed up by Thi Thành, the food stall in Ho Chi Minh City serves just one dish a day, a rotation of Vietnamese noodle soups made with fresh local herbs and produce. Since appearing on TV, the tiny stall has been packed full of hungry locals, tourists and visiting foodies seeking it out as one of their must-try food stops in Saigon.
Soon, you’ll no longer have to travel to Vietnam to get a taste of The Lunch Lady’s famous dishes: After a three-year apprenticeship under Thi Thành, local restaurateur and co-founder of Three Monkeys, Brian Woo, is bringing the recipes back to Hong Kong at a permanent location in Central. With more than 70% of ingredients sourced directly from Vietnam, Cô Thành will serve up a selection of The Lunch Lady’s signature noodle soups, including bún bò huế, a beef satay noodle soup; bún mắm, a type of Vietnamese-style riff on seafood gumbo made with three kinds of preserved fish and shrimp paste; and bánh canh cua, a dense soup of crab, pork and mushrooms paired with tapioca noodles. Whether or not Cô Thành can authentically recreate The Lunch Lady’s humble masterpieces remains to be seen, but we definitely welcome a new Vietnamese noodle shop that serves up more than just pho.
Cô Thành, G/F, 2-4 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong, phone and website coming soon
Takumi by Daisuke Mori
Hidden away on Cross Lane in Wan Chai, the 1-Michelin-starred Wagyu Takumi is relaunching this month with an all-new concept from executive chef Daisuke Mori. Takumi by Daisuke Mori, as it will be called, improves upon the Japanese–French dining experience with a focus on quality over quantity, reducing the number of seats at the chef’s table from 13 to 11 to allow for a more personalised experience. The new lunch menu is priced at HK$680 (4 courses) or HK$980 (6 courses), and dinner is HK$2,080 (additional wine pairing starts at HK$880), with dishes reflecting a new sensibility towards the seasons and respect for using only the most premium ingredients that chef Daisuke can get his hands on.
The tasting menu kicks off with a white asparagus salad roll topped with “snow powder”, and the “kegani” hairy crab roll with lily root, bottarga and caviar. Seafood options include a premium pan-fried grouper and slow-cooked lobster, while the highlight of the menu is undoubtedly the charcoal-grilled Japanese wagyu beef, cooked at a consistent heat of 70–75 degrees over binchotan coals before a quick sear on the grill to lock in the flavour. Dessert is chef Daisuke’s rose ice cream with lychee-flavoured yogurt mousse, a refreshing palate-cleanser to cap off the meal.
Takumi by Daisuke Mori, Shop 1, The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2574 1299, wagyutakumi.com
Mr. S.Y. PUNTI
Just when you thought the train had slowed on the trend of modern cha chaan tengs, along comes Mr. S.Y. PUNTI, bearing a name that’s a cheeky pun based off a rough transliteration of the Cantonese word for “local”. Housed in an old tong lau in San Ying Pun, the cosy joint offers tea and Hong Kong-style snacks, from wonton noodle soup to minced pork dumplings and French toast with peanut butter. Notably, the small cafe also serves up premium coffee from Hong Kong’s oldest roaster, Olympia Graeco-Egyptian Coffee, as well as beer on tap by Blue Girl and local microbrewery Young Master Ales. Dogs are also welcome here, which is good news for the many pet owners in the area.
Mr. S.Y. PUNTI, G/F, 4 David Lane, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 2915 8885, mrsypunti.com
Soho’s resident Southeast Asian staple, Soho Spice, has re-launched with a new look and menu, curated by award-winning chef Peter Cuong Franklin. Inspired by street food dining from his travels to Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, chef Franklin has re-hauled the menu to encompass a selection of street snacks and finger foods, from baos to satay skewers and fried tempura. The wide-ranging menu also dips into curries, rice, noodles, and whole-grilled fish, making for a diverse menu to pair with refreshing cocktails and beer. After 14 years on Elgin Street, this overdue upgrade is breathing new life into a SoHo standby.
Soho Spice, 47B Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2526 2227, diningconcepts.com
Si Simply Italian
Another Italian restaurant is popping up in D2 Place, the dining and shopping hub of the Lai Chi Kok district. Helmed by owner Paolo Sala and executive chef Massimo Santovito, both Italian natives, Si Simply Italian aims to bring an unpretentious dining experience to one of Hong Kong’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods, with fresh imported Italian ingredients prepared with minimal fuss, and at wallet-friendly prices. Expect dishes such as risotto with veal bone marrow and saffron, eggplant Parmigiana with tomato sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella, octopus with chickpea cream and thyme sauce, and oven-baked Italian sea bass in a black olive sauce. With mains clocking in at HK$200 or less, we’ll be eager to see whether this new Italian joint can deliver on executing simple, classic Italian dishes made with premium produce.
Si Simply Italian, Shop G03, G/F, D2 Place Two, 15 Cheung Shun Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2370 9022, facebook.com
Padstow Restaurant & Bar
Urban Eateries (the owners behind Shoreditch and Fugazi) have renovated their al fresco restaurant Hebe One O One in Sai Kung and re-launched it as Padstow Restaurant & Bar, with a heavy focus on seafood across the three-storey space. Named after the famous port in England, Padstow is all about presenting gourmet seafood options in a laid-back, beachside ambience, with British-inspired dishes such as fish & chips, pan-fried crab cakes, and a grilled whole Boston lobster served with chips and hollandaise. Downstairs, the ground-floor beach club is where you can pop in for quiz nights and sports screenings, while an airy balcony on the first floor and third-storey rooftop lounge make for great outdoor options. Weekend brunch features traditional Sunday roasts, sure to be a hit with Sai Kung’s many families.
Padstow Restaurant & Bar, 112 Pak Sha Wan, Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong, +852 2335 5515, facebook.com
Admiralty’s Pacific Place revamp continues apace with the opening of Epicurean Group’s HON10, a Japanese joint which dishes up sushi and Japanese snacks with a modern twist. Fresh fish is the highlight, but preparations and ingredient pairings offer a departure from traditional Japanese cuisine — you’ll find smoked salmon with wasabi cream, served with lightly grilled bread; plump botan shrimp and sea urchin rolls; grilled Japanese chicken legs with spicy leek sauce; and veggie rolls which resemble a riff on Korean kimbap. Set lunches offer a good deal on sashimi and sushi, and there’s also a dedicated section of the menu for buns and okonomiyaki — the popular grilled pancakes stuffed with bonito flakes, shredded cabbage and fresh seafood.
HON10, Shop 123, L1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852
2918 1133, facebook.com
Café 100 by The Ritz-Carlton
What’s better than eating picture-perfect waffles for breakfast from the Ritz-Carlton kitchen? Being able to enjoy them alongside stunning 360-degree views of Hong Kong. The luxurious hotel continues to serve up world-class cuisine at dizzying heights with the opening of Café 100 by The Ritz-Carlton at sky100, Hong Kong’s highest observation deck, which offering magnificent views of the city and its surrounding islands.
Head to the Parisian-inspired mini diner to snack on savoury and sweet crêpes, waffles, panini sandwiches and poffertjes (Dutch mini pancakes), alongside a milky cappuccino or soothing cup of tea. The bar will also serve a handful of cocktails that can be enjoyed at dusk as you watch the sun set below the horizon.
Special Offer: From now until 31 December, guests can enjoy one sky100 ticket, plus one crêpe/waffle/panini/poffertjes and one drink for HK$250. Call +852 2263 2356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve at least 1 day in advance.
Café 100 by The Ritz-Carlton, sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, 100/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2263 2356, ritzcarlton.com