Header image courtesy of Clarence
As dine-in lunch service becomes the new norm for gourmands, restaurants brave the restrictions to introduce a wave of fresh flavours, from a contemporary Nordic concept to modern Chinese dining. Here’s where to eat and drink in Hong Kong this March.
Michelin-starred chef Björn Frantzén’s debut venture in Hong Kong has made a quiet transformation into Embla, a new Nordic concept helmed by chef Jim Löfdahl, who served at Frantzén’s Kitchen as its executive chef during the restaurant’s five-year tenure.
Drawing on over two decades of experience, Chef Jim builds the foundation of Embla on the cornerstone of local and seasonal ingredients, a leading element of the new Nordic culinary movement. Now in its soft opening phase, intrepid diners can expect a “multi-sensory experience” delivered through natural flavours and a roster of regional cooking techniques, which keep environmental, ethical, and well-being practices in mind.
Embla, 11 Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2559 8508
Experienced culinary director Saito Chau—formerly of Hutong and John Anthony—leads this gastronomic ode to the Tang dynasty, oft considered a historic golden age in Chinese dining. Its location in IFC Mall promises spectacular views of Victoria Harbour, while its lush, eclectic interiors lean on a contemporary spin of East-meets-West aesthetics, drawing inspiration from the Garden of Eden and traditional oriental landscapes.
Chinesology’s philosophy rests on four distinctive pillars, in which superior presentation, creative concepts, an elevated dining experience, seasonal produce, and the five elements of Chinese cosmology reign supreme. Chef Saito’s degustation menu ($1,288 per person) presents a window into his mind, dressed as a lavish nine-course affair that combines traditional Chinese techniques with modern flavours.
Dishes like the oolong tea-smoked chicken, osmanthus prioritise finesse and time-consuming preparation, while the preserved plum mousse, cherry dressing revives childhood memories with its nostalgic flavours. Inspired by the ancient Chinese herbology volume Compendium of Materia Medica, the beverage programme run by bar manager Fan Tsang marries the concepts of traditional Chinese medicine with the principles of modern mixology to fashion cocktails like the Bamboo Punch, blended with a bamboo-based whisky. Chinesology has also collaborated with local distillery Fok Hing Gin to create its own house spirit, a slightly sweet gin with notes of red date, hawthorn, and longan.
Chinesology, Shop 3101, 3/F, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central | (+852) 6809 2299
Specialising in Kanto-style sukiyaki, Juji is the perfect spot for convivial get-togethers over a casual meal, setting a lively scene with its dramatic, lantern-lit interiors and samurai-inspired décor. Its name is derived from a line of Japanese whiskies matured in barrels cut from the mizunara tree, a rare indigenous oak that takes 200 years to fully mature.
Come for the signature cotton candy sukiyaki ($898 for two) for a whimsical experience, where your meal begins with cotton candy as the first course before a housemade sukiyaki sauce is added to the sizzling cooking pan, with cuts of A5 Kagoshima Wagyu, Japanese eggs, fresh vegetables, Inaniwa udon, or Japanese white rice to follow. Juji also offers patrons a taste of its namesake whisky (starting from $98 per glass). Distilled in Niigata, this blend carries notes of sandalwood, coconut, and vanilla.
Juji, 1/F, Station 21, 21C Soy Street, Mong Kok | (+852) 9103 6889
Created by chef Olivier Elzer of Seasons and L’Envol fame, Clarence is his take on the time-honoured French culinary tradition, and his workshop for creating a new kind of cuisine.
“I wanted to create a unique dining experience at Clarence that combines my 13 years in Asia with the soul, heritage, and traditions of French cuisine,” Elzer explained in the restaurant’s official press announcement. Counting Joël Robuchon, Jean-Yves Leuranguer, and Pierre Gagnaire amongst his mentors, Elzer channels his extensive experience working alongside some of the greatest French chefs in the world into Clarence.
Helmed by his protégé chef Simon So, Clarence merges French dining with Japanese cooking techniques—a tried-and-true culinary combination, but with an additional twist, such as using charcoal robatayaki grills to prepare classic dishes like Challans duck confit and Burgundy snails, served on skewers to complete the novel presentation. Shared plates are a prominent feature of the à la carte menu as well, paying tribute to local dining customs, with steamed French fish like Dover sole and skate wing as highlights.
Split into a raw fish and wine bar, sommelier room, main dining room, and lounge, the restaurant provides an all-encompassing gastronomic experience, catering to diners and drinkers of all persuasions. Sushi lovers can enjoy themselves with fresh catches and pairings of wine and champagne, while oenophiles will delight in Clarence’s interpretation of a traditional wine cellar, featuring exquisite labels and a tasting table of black marble.
Clarence, 25/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central | (+852) 3568 1397
For its third act, wellness-centric food and beverage destination WellWellWell introduces Remedy Me, a holistic outlet inspired by traditional Chinese medicine and the solar terms of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Local TCM specialist Wai Yuen Tong consulted on the menu of health-focused soups and herbal jellies, a collaboration that fuels the growing interest of modernising Chinese healing practices to suit Hong Kong’s younger generation.
Opt for the double-boiled sea coconut soup with fish maw, which promises to nourish the yin, clear heatiness, and moisten the lungs. It can be enjoyed on its own, or as part of a set with a three-ingredient salad and herbal jelly. Remedy Me also offers a rotating menu of customisable lunchboxes, comprising two to three classic Chinese side dishes, such as traditional lemon chicken, paired with rice. Its salad and deli bar caters to vegan, gluten-free, and keto diets with build-your-own options. Artisanal beverages are also spotlighted.
Remedy Me, Shop 002, LG1, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty
Beloved pastry chef Gérard Dubois has blessed us with a new artisanal brand. Celebrating the multitalented and ever-popular sourdough, the deli concept highlights pastries, bread, and other baked items made exclusively from three starters that are over 30 years old. Long-fermented dough bears unique characteristics and offers various benefits, such as a flakier texture and lower sugar and sodium content, on top of being easier to digest.
Dubois puts this miracle ingredient to use in the sourdough croissant ($23), chocolate sourdough bread with cranberries ($39), and a plethora of white, dark rye, and multigrain sourdough loaves ($36). Sweet tooths are well catered to with the raspberry rhubarb mille-feuille ($88), and a caramelised baby pear feuilletine basket ($30).
Homemade sandwiches make for heartier meals, covering flavours like the chicken tikka ($58) and pastrami sauerkraut ($67), as well as the caponata and tofu ($58). Salad offerings (starting from $60) are refreshed on rotation, featuring combinations like roasted beetroot and pumpkin, black bean quinoa, and the signature Sour Dough garden salad.
Sour Dough, 80 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai
Soak up the sun and the flavours of the Mediterranean at Cotton Tree Terrace, where The Murray’s latest culinary concept is dishing up Italian favourites for all to enjoy. Cotton Tree Pizzeria has set down roots on the popular alfresco deck, and diners are invited to wine and dine on familiar appetisers, oven-baked Neapolitan pies, and homemade tipples.
Bevvies like the limoncello and Aperol Spritz will whet your appetite, while appetisers like the burrata with marinated cherry tomatoes ($118) and Parma ham with cantaloupe melon slices ($118) serve as pleasing appetisers. Pizzas such as the Napolitana ($248) with anchovies and olives highlight the region’s best ingredients, and unusual creations like the Nordic ($248)—topped with Norwegian smoked salmon, capers, and pickled onions—promise to delight the adventurous palate. Of course, old faithfuls like the Margherita ($188) and Quattro Formaggi ($248) are not forgotten.
Cotton Tree Pizzeria, LG/F, The Murray, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central | (+852) 3141 8888