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New Eats: Where to eat in Hong Kong this January

By Jen Paolini 27 December 2019 | Last Updated 20 January 2020

The new year approaches, and as we roll into a new decade here in Hong Kong, we renew our efforts and go on the hunt for the latest and greatest coming to our dining scene. Check out some of the most exciting new restaurants and menus to be found in Hong Kong this January to start your year off on the right taste bud.

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New winter vegetarian menu at Giando

Star Street’s modern Italian offering Giando is paying tribute to Hongkongers’ “New Year, New Me” resolutions with a seasonal vegetarian menu this month. Although this is not chef Gianni Caprioli’s first foray into vegetarian dishes, this particular set pays homage to Italy’s versatile seasonal produce and its flavours are appealing especially for cold winter days. The six-course Winter Vegetarian Set Menu ($798) highlights hearty ingredients like chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, turnip, radicchio, Savoy cabbage, and pumpkin, with all ingredients sourced from small-scale family farms in Italy and beyond.

From starters of Chicory Salad with Burrata & Gorgonzola Dressing and Jerusalem Artichokes & Braised Artichokes Soup to mains of supersized Fusilli “Spiral” Pasta and a purple-tinged Carnaroli Risotto with Radicchio & Braised Onion, earthy and warm flavours dominate the palate. The meal ends with a hint of smokiness with Chef Gianni’s Roasted Savoy Cabbage, paired with hazelnut and black truffle, and a novel Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe with Amaretto crumble for a memorable mouthfeel. It’s almost impossible to turn your nose up at vegetables when presented with a line-up like this!

Giando, Shop 1, G/F, Tower 1, Starcrest, 9 Star Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2511 8912

Seasonal Piedmontese menu at Castellana

If Castellana’s opening went by undetected on your foodie radar, it’s time to pay attention. As the only Piedmontese restaurant in Hong Kong, Castellana opened last year in collaboration with two-Michelin-starred chef Marco Sacco, and this January, they’re launching a new menu that celebrates the Piedmont region’s abundant produce from land and lake.

Un Assaggio di Nobilità ($1,380 for four courses, $1,680 for seven courses) honours the flavours of nobility, featuring unique and rare Piedmontese ingredients that are endorsed by Slow Food International, whose aims are to preserve and promote sustainably produced at-risk foods. Dishes on the menu include the rich and flavourful Zuppa di Mais (an understated corn soup with Cuneo chickpeas), Rigatoni Burro (a creative display of rigatoni pasta in an Alpine butter and Aristocrat caviar sauce), and Risotto Porcini that is shaped like a mushroom.

The highlight, however, has to be Scoprendo Il Fiume Con Tartufo, a medley of exclusive Piedmontese fruits from its native rivers and lakes, such as river oysters in a picture-perfect pink-hued shell and river prawn, dressed in an Alpine butter sauce with Mascarpa cheese, black truffles, and lake weed chips. Paired with an exquisite selection of wines from Castellana’s extensive collection, sampling the Un Assaggio di Nobilità menu at the 50-seater restaurant amongst muted tones of golds and deep blue surely has the power to send one into reveries of royalty and its undeniable elegance.

Castellana, 10/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3188 5028

Samsen opens a second location in Sheung Wan

Yeeeees, this is the opening we’ve been waiting for! After three long years, chef Adam Cliff and restauranteur Bella Kong are finally bringing a second outlet of their acclaimed Thai restaurant to the Sheung Wan neighbourhood. Samsen Sheung Wan officially opens after Chinese New Year, but discerning diners can try and beat what will no doubt be queues snaking around the block to snag a seat for dinner before then.

If you’re hankering for a taste of Samsen’s signature Thai boat noodles, be warned, as the Sheung Wan location will focus on khao soi, a dish of curried beef with fresh egg noodles. Other highlights include freshly-made roti to go with bowls of steaming Thai curry. Almost half of the menu will be new and exclusive to the Sheung Wan locations, featuring dishes like satay skewers, red curry fish cakes, caramelised coconut and pomelo betel leaf wraps, and Thai salads. Unlike the Wan Chai location, this new opening will have an extended bar programme, making it an ideal post-work hangout.

Samsen, G/F, 23 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2234 0080

Have a drink to go with your meal:

The Pontiac presents a new bar snack menu

Along with a shiny new cocktail menu for the winter, Soho’s favourite watering hole is making sure that patrons aren’t going hungry this season with a food menu that’s sure to delight deep into the night. 

Classic American bar snacks like hot dogs and chilli make an appearance at the Pontiac, with a hearty Chilli Con Carne ($65) taking the spotlight. A rich stew of minced beef, rich tomato, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, garlic, and onion, this robust dish will warm you from head to toes. There’s a Veggie Chilli ($45) as well for plant-based dieters.

Last but not least, tuck into a Sly Dog ($50) with a Johnsonville smoked brat served on baked buns, or upgrade to a Ponty Sly ($75) to get a generous dollop of chilli con carne on top!

The Pontiac, 13 Old Bailey Street, Central | (+852) 2521 3855

WeWork opens vegetarian-friendly The Green Room

All that (co-)working sure is making us hungry, and trust the world’s leading community platform WeWork to anticipate all of our needs. Partnering with hospitality group Leading Nation, WeWork launches a minimalistic new restaurant called The Green Room in their Causeway Bay co-working location, replete with a sweeping 270-degree view of the harbour and a vegetarian and pescatarian menu.

Led by executive chef Ferran Tadeo, the kitchen focuses on fresh and in-season ingredients, sourced from local and sustainable farms as much as possible. Styling itself as a “modern meat-free brasserie”, bread, pizza bases, pasta, and pastries are all made in-house, and the menu is totally meat-free, offering plant-based and seafood dishes instead. Must-orders include The Green Room Salad ($75), Impossible Bolognese ($115), Spinach Ricotta Ravioli ($120), and Carbonata Eel Pizza ($125). The dessert menu features Caramelised Apple Flambé ($55) with vanilla ice cream and Macchiato Ice Cream Sandwich ($55) with chocolate cookies, salted caramel, and crispy strawberries. Dressings and sauces at the Green Room are made from scratch, and they will soon begin to plant and harvest herbs from their rooftop garden as well.

For those looking for something to round up their Dry January challenge, award-winning mixologist John Nugent curated a beverage menu to include a comprehensive selection of creative cocktails and wines, including natural and biodynamic wines, mocktails, and smoothies.

The Green Room is currently open for breakfast and lunch only and will expand to dinner hours further in February following their grand opening. And best of all, you don’t have to be a WeWork member to enjoy the food and views—the restaurant is open to the public!

The Green Room, 26/F, Tower 535, 535 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3689 2569

Cinnamon roll expert Cinnabon is opening in Hong Kong

America’s favourite cinnamon rolls are making a beeline for Hong Kong and waistlines everywhere are heaving a sigh. Cinnabon, fine purveyors of cinnamon rolls, cinnamon products, coffee, and frozen drinks, have announced their arrival in Hong Kong via their Facebook page, and sweet-tooths around the city cannot contain their excitement.

From the world-famous Classic Rolls and Bon Bites—made with trademarked Makara cinnamon from West Sumatra and topped with smooth frosting—to Cinnamon Sticks and Caramel Pecan Bons, the Cinnabon menu does one thing and it does it so, so well that indulging in just one serving is an unthinkable feat. Though we may not expect to sink our teeth into a Bon Bite as soon as January (the official opening date is scheduled for February), our taste buds are more than ready for a sweet treat to share with our Valentine’s.

Cinnabon, G06, G/F Olympian City 2, 18 Hoi Ting Road, Tai Kok Tsui

Eat well and be well:

Dominique Ansel’s Dang Wen Li opens in Harbour City

We may not be getting a taste of Cronuts anytime soon, but acclaimed patissier Dominique Ansel is bringing his genius to our shores with a brand-new bakery concept, Dang Wen Li. Set to open its doors on 7 January, expect bite-sized masterpieces inspired by local flavours, like the whimsical Macaroni Cheesecake that plays on hearty macaroni bowls with chicken soup with sliced ham (one of Hong Kong’s most beloved comfort foods) and the utterly adorable iteration of our favourite drink, the Lemon Tea Juice Box, which is made with fragrant bergamot curd, Earl Grey mascarpone mousse, and almond biscuit.

Even our iconic breakfast buns are getting a makeover with Dang Wen Li’s exclusive Pineapple Bun, a composition of coconut dacquoise, salted mascarpone cream, coconut mousse, almond marzipan, and tropical pineapple lime and passionfruit jam at the centre. Dessert and pastry lovers may want to hold off on their New Year’s resolutions for this!

Dang Wen Li, Shop OT G63A, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Grab a casual slice at the Pizza Project

If you’re a fan of Pici, you’ll want to pay attention to what the team behind the popular pasta concept is cooking up in January. The Pizza Project, Pirata Group’s first venture in 2020, will combine a trendy Soho venue with satisfying and approachable handmade pizzas that are packed with different textures and generous toppings.

Armed with a straightforward one-page menu and the pleasant brand of charm that made Pici a runaway success, chefs Andrea Viglione and Davide Borin and operations manager Nacho Lopez are focusing on captivating the hearts and stomachs of Hongkongers with freshly-prepared starters, decadent desserts, and stunning pies, replete with enticing aromas and lively flavours to attract spirited gatherings and hearty feasts.

To celebrate the occasion, the Pizza Project is hosting a rambunctious street party on 14 January to welcome its very first guests in style (and on that note, remember when block parties were all the rage? Looks like we’re bringing them back in 2020, baby).

The Pizza Project, G/F, 26 Peel Street, Central

Blue Bottle Coffee is coming to Hong Kong

Rumours have been swirling around Hong Kong’s F&B scene for months now, and the latest news to hit our radars is that Oakland’s Blue Bottle Coffee has settled on a 3,000-square-foot shopfront in Central’s Lyndhurst Terrace.

Famed for its streamlined design, bright and chic atmosphere, and in-store roasted beans, this major player in third-wave coffee culture made a name for itself in the early 2000s by vowing to only sell coffee that is less than 48 hours out of the roaster, so guests and caffeine lovers alike may enjoy their brews at peak flavour. From humble beginnings in Oakland, California, the brand—which is often likened to the “Apple of the coffee industry” for its aesthetic presentation and devoted following—has now expanded to cover several metropolises across the States, as well as Japan and South Korea.

While no official opening date has been announced for the Hong Kong location, we highly anticipate that Blue Bottle Coffee will throw open its doors on Lyndhurst Terrace in the first quarter of the year, as they began recruitment for managerial positions several months back in August. Stay tuned for more updates!

Savour a taste of history:

Michelin-starred ramen at Konjiki Hototogisu

Tokyo’s celebrated noodle house Konjiki Hototogisu is sharing its Bib Gourmand-recognised ramen with its first outpost in Hong Kong. Famous for its Golden Soup, a homemade, MSG-free broth that blends fish-based and pork-based stocks with a secret clam soup, the concentration of flavour found in Konjiki Hototogisu’s ramen creates a perfect balance for the palate. Paired with homemade noodles made of Hokkaido wheat flour and seasoned sous-vide pork slices, we are expected sublime ramen at its best.

Konjiki Hototogisu’s signature offering, the Shoyu Hamaguri Soup Ramen ($128), is not to be missed. Made from clam soup, pork broth, and Japanese secret soy sauce, it innovates a new amalgam of seafood-style and pork-based ramen with sweet and salty flavours. Moreover, the addition of a black truffle sauce, dried porcini mushroom powder, and dried porcini mushroom oil elevates the dish to a level of fragrant sophistication rarely seen amongst other ramen noodles.

There’s a precise and instructed way to savour the ramen as well; first, “you must admire”, and then, “you must taste”. As suggested by Atsushi Yamamoto, the executive chef and founder, diners must feel the warmth of the bowl in their palms and inhale the soothing aroma of the ramen before taking a sip of the exquisite broth to relish the complex flavours of the soup and ingredients. Or—if you’re hungry like we are—just go right ahead and slurp the noodles and soup as you see fit.

Aside from highly praised ramen—which includes delights like Tonkotsu Smoke and Pepper Ramen ($115) and Tonkotsu Spicy Ramen ($115)—the menu also offers a slew of mouthwatering side dishes, including Fried Hanamidori Chicken ($88) and Melted Cheese Tonkatsu ($70), a deep-fried pork loin stuffed with fragrant, melted cheese and coated with flours and breadcrumbs.

Konjiki Hototogisu, Shop 3020, Level Three, IFC Mall, 1 Harbour View Street, Central | (+852) 6333 8036

Get steak sandwiches and frites delivered from La Vache!

As much as we love tucking into a juicy steak, sometimes we wished it came in a more manageable (read: takeaway) form that we can savour in bed, say, after an indulgent and ill-advised night of imbibing. Luckily, beautiful and glorious La Vache! has read our minds and will be offering their entrecôte steaks in sandwich form for the first time ever this January, along with delivery options so you can have a taste of Paris transported right to your doorstep.

The Steak Baguette and Frites ($118) combo comes with a six-inch French baguette filled with the steakhouse’s seared five-ounce USDA Prime steak and bearnaise sauce and a side of its irresistible fries to stave off the hangover. This decadent lunchtime pick-me-up is available from 1–31 January only from 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm, exclusively on Black Sheep Restaurants’ delivery app GO with no minimum charge.

Additionally, available only for the month of January, La Vache! is presenting a festive Galette des Rois ($118) to celebrate Épiphany (the day the Three Kings visited the baby Jesus). Perfect as a finisher for any meal, the traditional French dessert of sweet puff pastry and frangipani filling hides a fève—a little lucky charm—for diners to discover. Whoever finds the fève is crowned King for the Day and also wins lunch for two at La Vache! TST. Bonne chance!

La Vache!, locations across Hong Kong

Artisan sourdough pizzas at Dough Bros

One new pizza place is not enough, and so we have two! Dough Bros in Happy Valley opened on the sly to muted fanfare, but we’re here to put them on blast. This cheerful neighbourhood pizza joint serves up your favourite pies with a side of beer, Nutella-filled doughnuts, and wine, and while their menu is small and specialised, all items pack a punch.

We’re quite partial to the Parma ($118) for its combo of roasted garlic, wild mushrooms, parma ham, and rocket, as well as the classic Pepperoni ($108) and Meatball ($108) with homemade beef meatballs and pickled chillies. They even have a vegetarian option, the Sophisticated ($118), which comes with tomato, mozzarella, goat’s cheese, caramelised onion, pickled peppers, and sweet peppers. Oh, and did we mention all pizzas are crafted with a base of artisan sourdough? It’s the perfect thing to stock up on before a big night at the races!

Dough Bros, Shop 5, G/F, 38–42 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley | (+852) 2625 4900

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Jen Paolini

Content director

Born in Hong Kong, raised in Germany, and educated in the U.S., Jen is an award-winning creative with a background in illustration, communication design, art direction, and content creation. When she’s not getting lost in a good book, you’ll find her doing crosswords, eating dim sum, covering all sides of a “Hamilton” number, and taking naps.