Is that a cool breeze we’re feeling after weeks of relentless rain, oppressing humidity, and soggy shoes? As Hong Kong takes baby steps towards what can only marginally be called autumn, we take our taste buds on the prowl for the latest and greatest that the city’s culinary scene has to offer. Celebrate the start of refreshing climes (and the relaxing of social distancing measures and dine-in restrictions) with the most exciting new restaurants and pop-ups to be found in Hong Kong this November. Be warned—there’s a lot happening this month!
Who says there’s nothing exciting happening on Hong Kong Island past Causeway Bay? Adding to Tin Hau’s vibrant collection of neighbourhood eats is Etna, an alfresco dining experience that channels the comforting flavours of coastal Italy while showcasing fresh Mediterranean produce courtesy of Mount Etna’s fertile surroundings. Presenting a menu that runs the gamut from antipasti and primi and secondi courses to handcrafted pasta, desserts, and side vegetables, Etna is currently open for service during lunch, brunch, and dinner.
Headed up by chef-turned-restaurateur Kong Wai-sing and executive chef Rene Michelena, Etna combines approachable Italian recipes with contemporary Asian touches, bringing to life homecooked sharing plates like soft-shell crab fettuccine “Puttanesca”($238) with gochujang syrup, spaghetti “Carbonara” ($178) with salted duck egg yolk, tuna carpaccio ($158), grilled Ibérico pork chops ($288), and fried portobello & oyster mushrooms ($88) in a fiery volcano sauce. Cop a seat on their outdoor terrace to soak in the weekend sun over brunch, or take in the starry night sky during a leisurely dinner. In fact, we have it on good authority that Etna is doing quite well for itself during dinner hours, so be sure to call ahead and book! And don’t miss their happy hour, which runs from 3 pm to 8 pm every day (and on weekends!) and gets you two bottles of premium wine for just $368. What a way to end the workday!
Etna, 3/F, The New Place, 68–70 Electric Road, Tin Hau | (+852) 3462 2700
Fresh, fun, and feel-good—that’s the best way to sum up Ma, chef Tina Barrat’s new vegan dining exploration. Set across a 1,800-square-foot space of cool grey stone and chic wooden accents, this new Central opening aims to take plant-based cuisine to brand-new heights. Not just for health-conscious or vegan diners, Ma presents novel fine-dining creations that make the best of pure flavours, highlighting the art of raw veganism, in which food is uncooked, soaked, sprouted, and dehydrated, but never heat-treated beyond 45 degrees Celsius.
For a taste of what Ma is all about, opt for the Portobello mushrooms in cashew truffle sauce burger ($250) and grilled king oyster scallops ($250) for mains, and the classic tiramisu ($95) and faux-gras and fig on almond toast ($88) for dessert and nibbles. Organic and biodynamic wines round up the offerings from the cellar, highlighting labels from European producers and choices from the New World.
Ma, Shop 11, 1/F, H18 Conet, 23 Graham Street, Central | (+852) 3165 1717
Helmed by long-time teppanyaki chef Arthur Li and his culinary team, T8 unites the beautiful, marbled flavours of premium Japanese beef with a contemporary dining experience worthy of unforgettable occasions. Placing a heavy emphasis on authenticity, modernity, and welcoming hospitality, the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu steak is the star of the deluxe teppanyaki dinner set, with dishes like foie gras, Ezo abalone, lobster, and uni fried rice in the supporting cast.
Sushi lovers are catered to as well with a dozen cuts of sashimi and sushi platters, while lunch sets can be had as beef or seafood teppanyaki set meals and to omakase sushi experiences. Don’t forget the sake; the collection of junmai daiginjo (Japan’s highest grade of sake) is hand-selected from renowned sake breweries around the Land of the Rising Sun.
T8, 5/F, Grand Progress Building, 15–16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 2393 8133
From the visionaries behind Shady Acres comes Honky Tonks Tavern, a bullish and buoyant new venture that takes the unmatchable energy of Shady’s and marries it with a formidable combination of Southern hot chicken, crusty pizzas, and darn good tipples. Tuck into the White Trash pizza ($100), a tomato-based pie with shredded chicken and bacon; the Bee Sting pizza ($100) with arugula pesto, Gorgonzola, salami, and spicy honey; tater tots ($40), served with garlic butter, chives, and comeback sauce; and chicken tenders ($75) with a choice of five house-made dipping sauces. For those who love a bit of spice, dig through their tray of curated chilli sauces, ranging from popular names like El Yucateco to niche brands like Secret Aardvark Habanero from Portland. Can someone give us a cheeky “yee-haw?”
Honky Tonks Tavern, Man Hing Lane, Central
If you cannot make it out to the Riviera, make the Riviera come to you. Nissa la Bella (“Nice the Beautiful”, the unofficial anthem of the French coastal town) is the latest culinary offering by French dining group Pastis, whose projects include Café Claudel, Le Boudoir, Café Bohème, Comptoir, and more. Expect bright Mediterranean flavours, warm hospitality, and gorgeous, rustic interiors filled with lemon trees! Nissa la Bella is set for a grand opening this Saturday, 14 November, so mark your calendars!
Nissa la Bella, G/F, 10–14 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 9549 3882
French dining must be making a comeback this season! Led by the dynamic duo of chefs Johan Ducroquet and Gregory Alexandre, Bouillon has taken over the Sheung Wan space formerly occupied by Mrs Pound and is whipping up Gallic bistro fare with a twist for hungry souls. Feast on classic dishes like tartare de bœuf ($188), terrine de foie gras ($188), confit de canard ($198), and bœuf bourguignon ($248) for mains, and treat your sweet tooth to delights like profiteroles ($88), crème brûlée ($78), and riz au lait ($88) for afters.
Of course, boutique wines are on the menu as well, spotlighting small, family-owned producers from French terroirs (but there are also global options for those who prefer New World reds and whites). Come during happy hour starting from 2 pm to take advantage of selected glasses for just $50 a pop! Bouillon is currently offering a seasonal three-course lunch ($198) featuring their most popular dishes.
Bouillon, 6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2886 0056
Oh là là, what have we here? Lee Tung Avenue is welcoming Hong Kong’s second branch of Crêpe Delicious, armed to the teeth with made-to-order sweet and savoury versions of the iconic French pancake, handcrafted gelato treats, and puff pizzas. With over 16 years of experience in perfecting the classic treat that is beloved the world over, Crêpe Delicious now brings its casual urban café concept to Hong Kong Island.
Expect signature sweet crêpes with seasonal fruits and fresh ingredients for dessert, as well as meat- and seafood-focused savoury crêpes like Hokkaido scallop ($138), salmon deluxe ($128), and Big Feast ($118) with braised BBQ pulled pork, and there’s even a Hong Kong-exclusive recipe with truffle scrambled eggs, too! Make a full spread of it with side salads, pasta, risotto dishes, and even grilled and roasted meats, and wrap up with a homemade gelato!
Crêpe Delicious, Shop G26 & F26A, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai | (+852) 2617 7800
Great news for carb lovers: Bakehouse is opening a second location in Soho! For those who love their bread and pastries, this celebrated Hong Kong bakery needs no introduction. Run by Grégoire Michaud of Four Seasons and Bread Elements fame, Bakehouse is arguably one of the biggest success stories of 2018, drawing endless queues and effusive crowds with their signature sourdough egg tarts ($12) and handcrafted artisanal baked goods. For their second outlet, Bakehouse will offer crowd-favourites from the original menu as well as a selection of made-to-order items exclusive to the Soho location. Do note that the new opening is in the form of a takeaway counter and will officially welcome customers this Friday, 30 October.
Bakehouse, G/F, 5 Staunton Street, Central
Who knew crustaceans could be so glamorous? Enter Sexy Crab, a sumptuous dining experience that will take your relationship with crabs to new heights. Promising a “heavenly gourmet journey” that will elevate the humble crab with an exquisite makeover, Sexy Crab presents a menu that showcases the best of robust broths, handcrafted noodles, and premium hairy crabs selected from Jiangsu.
Tuck into dishes like the whimsical 50-50, a blend of hairy crab meat and roe in a secret fish broth, served with silky noodles and grilled baby yellow croaker, and the decadent Pillow Talk, a fish maw with crab roe stuffing and caviar crab roe noodles. Appetisers include Packing Meat, a xiaolongbao-like wonton stuffed with hairy crab roe and yellow croaker meat, and the humorous It’s Getting Steamy in Here..., a smoked half-boiled egg served with caviar and crab roe. Naturally, the venue is dressed to impress to match the sophisticated menu; think retro-inspired 1930s Shanghai, with moody mahogany panels and pulsing neon light fixtures lining the walls. Sexy Crab will open in mid-November at the luxurious K11 Musea—where else?
Sexy Crab, Shop 401A, 4/F, K11 Musea, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
We’ll bet that you have never seen an omakase experience this affordable: At Sushi Hakucho, the lunch omakase menu will set you back a princely $450, while the dinner omakase menu clocks in at $980 per person. If that sounds too good to be true, read on. Serving Kyushu-style cuisine—which highlights pristine seafood at its seasonal finest—Sushi Hakucho is led by veteran sushi chef Harada Makoto and specialises in presenting an affordable gourmet experience. During its soft-opening phase, guests can expect autumn specialities like sanma from Hokkaido, spicy lobster from Amakusa, Bafun and Aka uni, Japanese blue crab, and more from this intimate and minimalist 30-seater restaurant. Of course, no omakase meal is complete without fitting imbibements, and Chef Mokoto has hand-selected a range of sake from the world-renowned Noguchi Naohiko Sake Institute.
Sushi Hakucho, G13, Harbour Pinnacle, 8 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2109 1155
Bagels, coffee, milkshakes, ice cream, booze, and shisha—what more could you ask for? And you can have them all at 404 Plant, a brand-new casual restaurant and bar that serves plant-based bagels and 100 percent dairy- and egg-free food. Their bestseller, Wild Black ($80), comes with truffle mayo, wild mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, a hash brown, caramelised onions, and frisée salad, all sandwiched between charcoal bagel buns.
We’re also quite partial to the Meaty Impossible ($110), which sees an Impossible Beef patty served with guacamole, cheddar cheese, tomato, onions, lettuce, and mayo on a plain bagel. For something sweet, go for the Instagrammable Bisc Off ($60) with Biscoff cream cheese and walnuts. If you would like to take a few bagels home for breakfast the next day, don’t miss the genmaicha mochi bagel ($38) or one of their rotating daily flavours!
404 Plant, 109 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan
Remember when private dining venues were all the rage? Looks like they might be making a comeback in 2020. Helmed by chef Brandon Tomkinson, who cut his teeth under celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, The Factory brings a new private kitchen concept and events space to the industrial landscape of Wong Chuk Hang. Whether you are in the mood for a sit-down meal at the farmhouse-style table or a casual get-together at the long bar, The Factory presents memorable gourmet meals for groups of 15 or more.
Highlights from the menu include signature dishes like grilled lobster tail ($250) and pan-roasted foie gras ($120)—and there’s even vegetarian-friendly items to be had as well, such as the mushroom lasagna with creamed spinach ($280). For an immersive epicurean experience, take full advantage of the open kitchen and watch the culinary team at work!
The Factory, 16A Kwai Bo Industrial Building, 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Wong Chuk Hang | (+852) 2805 8555
Channelling the revitalising energy of Japanese forests and seasonal flavours, celebrated chef Daisuke Mori presents autumn on a plate with his new nine-course tasting menu ($2,080). Set in an intimate 12-seat atmosphere with an expansive open kitchen worthy of showstopping culinary performances, diners can expect to take in elevated creations with robust and earthy notes.
Highlights of the menu include the charcoal-grilled sanma with couscous in a sweet-bitter sauce, the tender and fatty akamutsu with French barley risotto (our personal favourite), the Hida Wagyu cooked two ways, and a heart-warming bowl of kinmedai Ichiban dashi consommé, with which Chef Mori pays tribute to his Japanese roots.
Takumi by Daisuke Mori, Shop 1, The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2574 1299
From now until late January, London’s contemporary Spanish restaurant Aqua Nueva will be making an extended appearance at Statement, taking over the modern British establishment with their award-winning tapas and cocktails. Among their top-sellers are the signature croquetas that come in five mouth-watering flavours, such as Manchego & black truffle, Ibérico ham, Boston lobster & bisque, wild mushroom, and black seafood, widely hailed as the “best croquettes in the UK.” Other notable sharing tapas include the innovative spiced crab tostadas ($148) and beef short ribs, potato gratin & chimichurri ($138), as well as the perennial favourites of patatas bravas ($98). Naturally, to properly enjoy tapas, one must have an equally stunning cocktail to pair, and Aqua Nueva does not disappoint with their selection of four refreshing drinks. Our favourite is the Nueva Spritz ($98), made with vodka, elderflower cordial, ground black pepper, sparkling Spanish cava, lime, and a garnish of fresh cucumber.
On weekends, Aqua Nueva is also offering a five-course brunch menu ($358), where guests can enjoy choices of starters, Spanish tapas, Mediterranean sharing platters of meats and cheeses, and a choice of mains. Vegetarian options and add-on free-flow packages for unlimited Veuve Clicquot Champagne are available as well.
Aqua Nueva pop-up, Police Headquarters Block 01, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2848 3000