Welcome to a brand-new (and hopefully much better) year! With Chinese New Year behind us and the easing of dine-in restrictions on the horizon, we take our taste buds on the prowl for the latest and greatest that the city’s culinary scene has to offer. Here are the most exciting new restaurants and pop-ups in Hong Kong this February.
We know a thing or two about grand entrances into Hong Kong’s relentless dining scene, but the most unmissable one we have seen of late has to be the bright orange shopfront of Aussie Grill, dominating the bustling pedestrian crossing around Pedder Street and Queen’s Road Central. Bringing their trademark “Down Under” cuisine to the heart of the city, Aussie Grill by Outback Steakhouse spans an expansive 4,600 square feet, offering affordable, made-to-order burgers, steaks, snacks, salads, desserts, and more, and even includes a takeaway coffee counter for diners on-the-go.
Set in a bright and industrial atmosphere of wooden high tables and bench seating for a fast-casual dining approach, the menu—presented by veteran chef Efrem Cutler—takes the best of comforting and familiar flavours and showcases them with a distinct Aussie Grill twist. Burgers are, of course, front and centre for Aussie Grill, and signature creations include the bacon bomb burger ($98) with jalapeño peppers, bacon onion jam, crispy bacon, Cheddar cheese, and aioli sauce; the braised pork sandwich ($98) with shredded roast pork in a toasted ciabatta, slathered in a peppercorn sauce and honey balsamic vinaigrette; and the Impossible melt sandwich ($108) with Impossible meat. Larger plates come in the form of the US Wagyu sirloin ($128) and the Aussie ribs ($98), but our eyes are set on the sides of Aussie petals ($42), an interpretation of Outback Steakhouse’s world-renowned Bloomin’ Onion. Wrap up the meal with an Oreo & toasted pecan sundae ($46) for a sweet treat, or the piccolo Cupffee ($32), a mini latte in an edible waffle cup!
Aussie Grill, G/F & 1/F, Entertainment Building, 30 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2399 0309
Osaka, famed for its food markets and delectable street snacks, is more than a little out of reach for Hongkongers during the pandemic, but astute Hong Kong restauranteurs are working hard behind the scenes to bring foreign dining experiences straight to those who miss it the most. Kuki, an all-new izakaya that focuses on the beloved dish of kushiage (better known by its more common name of kushikatsu), aims to cultivate a warm environment for gatherings and celebrations over a memorable meal and drinks, set against a bold backdrop of graffitied murals and neon ornaments.
Named for a distinguished Japanese samurai family, Kuki combines traditional with modern to inspire a menu of deep-fried skewers, made with premium ingredients and a secret special batter for an exceptionally crisp and flaky texture. Signatures include the Japanese-style abalone, the koji chicken, and the sakura shrimp cake. Pair your bites off with a selection of sommelier-recommended wines and sakes from across the globe for the ultimate izakaya experience.
Kuki, Shop 7, G/F, Workingview Commercial Building, 21 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3705 2156
If you loved the all-grown-up return of Little Birdy in Sai Ying Pun, you’ll love the following news even more: Big Birdy is making its mark on the Wan Chai neighbourhood with the opening of their flagship restaurant! Dishing up reliable favourites of flame-grilled chicken with housemade peri-peri sauces and chicken burgers and sandwiches, the new location will continue to go big on flavours and offer an expanded list of speciality cocktails and craft brews.
Fans can expect flavour-packed grilled-chicken stalwarts like the quarter-sized Little Birdy ($85), half-sized Half Birdy ($160), and whole Big Birdy ($290), each with a choice of housemade peri-peri sauces (lemon garlic, mild, hot, and insanely hot), as well as sandwiches like the Tasty Flocker ($90) with flame-grilled chicken and avocado, the Heisenberg ($130) with crispy fried chicken, and the aromatic chicken & waffles ($130), served with peri-peri butter and maple syrup. If you work or live in the area, don’t miss the weekday happy hour from 3 pm to 8 pm, where drinks start from $40—it would be the perfect opportunity to try the Big Birdy pilsner ($60), created in collaboration with Hong Kong Beer Co.
Big Birdy, G/F, 9B, Ship Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 3401 1022
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” Dean Martin once crooned, but we think that we much prefer when the pizza hits our taste buds and stomachs for the ultimate feeling of love. If your list of usual haunts for comforting slices needs a fresh update in 2021—new year, new pizzas, baby—head to Gustaci, a newly opened pizza lounge in the atrium of PMQ. Spacious in size and chic in décor but without the inhibiting price tag of an upscale restaurant, Gustaci offers warm service, generous portions, and big flavours.
Ensconced in a vibrant setting of impressionistic abstract paintings of Naples and its splendours, diners can expect authentic Neapolitan culinary delights, presented by executive chef Angelo D’Ambrosio. Pizzas, of course, feature heavily on the menu, making full use of Chef Angelo’s pizzaiolo background to perfect their naturally leavened dough before baking it to perfection in their Moretti Forni electric deck oven. Highlights from the pizza menu include classics such as the margherita ($130) and the marinara ($100); specialities like the gattò ($135) with mozzarella, potato croquettes, and salami; vegetarian options such as the funghi cardoncelli ($145) with pickled mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, and yellow cherry tomatoes; and specialities like the tartufo nero ($380), a decadent pie of mozzarella, Parmesan, and black winter truffle.
Aside from the comprehensive pizza menu, notable appetisers include le polpette della nonna ($135) of braised meatballs with Parmesan cheese, and the montanarine fragrante ($35), a typical Neapolitan snack of deep-fried dough disks, topped with mortadella, ricotta cheese, and lemon zest. Suitable for get-togethers of all sorts, whether it be weekend brunch, early happy hours, or lunches, Gustaci provides the perfect place to unwind and indulge in comforting flavours with friends and family.
Gustaci, Shop HG01-05, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2981 1418
To say that we are dearly missing the powdery slopes of Niseko, Yuzawa, and Hakuba would be an understatement, considering the grounded year we have had. Fortunately, we can still try to imagine what delights such a ski holiday might have in store for us (sans the actual skiing) at Hakuba Lounge, a Japanese mountain lodge concept that is designed to resemble a modernised rendition of a ski getaway.
Its new café addition, The Alp, presents Japanese-Western light meals and artisanal coffees, such as one might have after a fulfilling ski run, highlighting the use of Japanese ingredients in contemporary recipes. For brunch, one might opt for the scattered soba bowl ($118) with pumpkin and chicken, the signature beef sando ($108) with thick “shokupan” milk bread, the beef mountain donburi ($118) with slow-cooked striploin, or the crispy buttermilk drumsticks ($128), infused with Nepalese flair courtesy of the kitchen team led by Chef Sajal.
Quench your thirst with caffeinated beverages that run the gamut of house blends and cold brews to hand drip coffees, using beans imported from Guatemala and Brazil. Aside from its coffees, other notable drinks include the aromatic chai latte ($45), refreshing cucumber soda ($38), and seasonal coconut latte ($55).
The Alp, Unit 302, 3/F, Tower 535, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2111 1707
This February, Hong Kong’s newest hospitality destination follows up on its first restaurant opening with sophomore effort Zoku. Presented as a contemporary approach to Japanese dining, Zoku at The Hari is led by chef de cuisine Phillip Pak, a disciple of renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa, showcasing the best of seasonal Japanese produce to create Japanese dishes centred around the modern palate of Hong Kong diners. Set in a space of velvets, mauves, warm leathers, and a playful touch of origami carvings, guests can choose to sup in the evocative dining room or alfresco lounge to take in the cityscape.
Designed to tantalise discerning taste buds, Zoku pays tribute to the Land of the Rising Sun with dishes like the tender and crisp Wagyu dumplings ($188), yuzu-kissed yellowtail sashimi ($288) with serrano peppers, plump snow crab with baby spinach ($228), and grilled kushiyaki skewers of Wagyu ($188) and salmon ($108). Decadent mains include the mouth-watering Wagyu steak ($428) from Miyazaki Prefecture, grilled over binchō-tan and topped with foie gras, and the herbaceous Chilean seabass ($288), flavoured with yuzu herb butter and oyster cream and paired with Brussels sprouts and grilled maitake. Wrap up with the mochi cake with coconut sorbet ($118) and tofu cheesecake ($118) for a sweet finish, and delight in a range of imaginative cocktails like the whisky-based Suzie Wong ($108) and Tsundoku ($108), with daijingo sake, gin, and peach.
Zoku, 2/F, The Hari, 330 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2129 0338
Introducing affordable Japanese gastronomy in a prestigious packaging is what Teppanyaki Mihara is all about. Opening at The Parkside in Tseung Kwan O in mid-February, Teppanyaki Mihara is helmed by chef Terufumi Mihara, who cut his teeth as the chief chef at the Japanese consulate in Chicago and at Hong Kong’s own Teppanyaki Sanka. His distinct take on modern Japanese fusion cuisine focuses on seasonal and premium ingredients, such as Miyazaki A4 Wagyu beef and Hokkaido pork, all of which are elevated through honed cooking techniques. Chef Mihara is particularly skilled at the Shiogama-Yaki style of preparing seafood, which sees fish steamed in a crust of salt and egg white on the grill for ultimate tenderness and flavour.
For the best of Teppanyaki Mihara, the omakase menu (starting from $780) invites gourmands to taste course after course of fresh seafood and meat dishes, paired with homemade sauces, stocks, and condiments, as well as wine and sake pairings, selected from a curated collection of over 100 rare sakes, wines, shochu, and spirits.
Teppanyaki Mihara, Shop G06, The Parkside, 18 Tong Chun Street, Tseung Kwan O | (+852) 3618 8212
Opening alongside sister restaurant Teppanyaki Mihara, Izakaya by K makes a stunning entrance at The Parkside with its upscale “after work” dining concept. Cutting a fine figure with its iconic shopfront and rows upon rows of kitsune (キツネ; an animal messenger of the mythological god, as well as a symbol of prosperity and success in Japan) sculptures, Izakaya by K is led by Michelin-trained chef Yusuke Kitade, who brings his unique brand of haute Japanese cuisine to Hong Kong.
Presenting elevated takes on traditional izakaya fare, signatures include the Wagyu beef pot rice and the fatty tuna tartare with avocado paste, marinated egg yolk, and caviar. Sake pairings are a must when spending time at an izakaya, and the sake sommelier at Izakaya by K is perfectly suited to reveal hidden gems from Japan’s extensive sake world.
Izakaya by K, Shop G07, The Parkside, 18 Tong Chun Street, Tseung Kwan O | (+852) 3618 8211
Upscale food halls and collaborative dining efforts are sweeping the culinary world by storm, and ZS
Hospitality Group wants in on the action. Repurposing its 200-square-metre space within the Nexxus Building into a convenient grab-and-go outlet, J.A.M. (Joint Asian Market) unites four exciting new gourmet concepts under one roof, showcasing the best of authentic Korean, Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Singaporean cuisines.
Check out Mamalee Market for Korean deli delights by chef Song Ha-seul-lam (of Michelin-starred Mingles in Seoul), Moi Moi for Vietnamese classics by chef Dinh Dinh-tuan, Uncle Quek for Singaporean treats by chef Barry Quek, and SiFu for dim sum with a twist by chef Cheung Kin-ming. During its soft-opening phase, J.A.M. offers one three-course set menu (starting from $138) from each concept and afternoon tea menus (starting from $98), with weekly rotating menus to follow after the official launch. Notable dishes include the tteok-mandu-guk beef rib soup from Mamalee Market, the bánh mì chiên tôm deep-fried cheddar shrimp toast from Moi Moi, the flavourful beef rendang from Uncle Quek, and the steamed chicken sticky rice from SiFu.
J.A.M., Lobby, Nexxus Building, 41 Connaught Road Central, Central | (+852) 2808 1086
Pirata Group is starting the year off strong with not one, not two, but three new restaurants, with the first one being the sophomore location of its temakeria and sake bar concept. TMK: Rap & Rolls is now open in Starstreet Precinct in Wan Chai, bringing with it an energetic and irresistible atmosphere that pairs well with the restaurant’s loud tribute to hip hop and rap’s biggest icons. Perfect for a casual lunch or a vibrant after-work drinking hole, expect a new and visionary menu of Japanese-inspired starters and rice and salad bowls, like the irresistible Katsu-san and the West Coast, and novel bevvies, all to be lavishly enjoyed across a long communal bar table.
TMK: Rap & Rolls, Shop A, G/F, Moonful Court, 17 Moon Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2779 9002
Bringing tiki vibes to the modern glamour of The Upper House, Honi Honi is popping up at the acclaimed hotel with its Maka Hiki Lounge concept from now until 31 May 2021. Poised to become the weekend hangout of choice for those who like to idle in the sun with a well-made drink in hand, this urban escape offers a menu of well-crafted tropical cocktails and sophisticated bar bites.
Come early for light breakfast, and visit from noon onwards for an all-day experience that includes dishes like the poké miso cones ($130), Jamaican jerk chicken skewers ($140), and Cuban pulled pork sandwich ($180), and unique cocktails like The Dead Shaman ($160), made with baijiu and homemade falernum liqueur, and served in quirky tiki glassware that’s worthy of a snap (seriously, where do they source these from?). Swing by on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for weekly events, as well as other exclusive happenings, such as cigar and rum tastings, workshops, and guest bartending shifts featuring prominent mixologists.
Maka Hiki Lounge, The Lawn & Level 6, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway | (+852) 9836 7463