Having shared my insights on Hong Kong’s local food scene last week, in the second part of the series on Hong Kong Island, here are my recommendations of International restaurants which would definitely be my “go to” spots for a fabulous dining experience. Once again, I’ve restricted myself to a maximum of three restaurants per cuisine. Indulge!
Located at the Landmark in Central, Mak Mak is the place to go if you’re craving Thai cuisine. A fairly large menu with an array of vegetarian options, the restaurant has a really nice weekend brunch with options of free flow beverage packages.
Divided into various sections, their ala carte menu is well worth going through as choices are vast. The food at Mak Mak is authentic but not too spicy, catering to an ex-pat population.
For appetisers, try their Som Dtum Thai (pounded green papaya salad, carrot, cherry tomato, long bean, chili, dried shrimp, lime with sweet and sour dressing), Gai Hor Bai Toey (deep-fried marinated chicken in pandan leaf) and Muu Tod (marinated crispy pork, herbs, nam jim jaew which is Thai Chili sauce).
I suggest Massaman Lamb (aromatic massaman curry of slow-braised lamb shank, roasted baby potato, peanuts and shallots), Gaeng Phed Ped Yang (red curry with roast duck, grilled pineapple, Thai eggplant, vine tomato), Bphoo Prik Khai Dam (steamed live mud crab served with chef’s garlic black pepper sauce and coriander), Poo Nim Phad Phong Ka Ri (wok-fried crispy soft shell crab, yellow curried sauce of egg, Chinese celery, shallot and garlic), Phad Bai Kra Pow (wok-fried minced chicken or pork, Thai holy basil, homemade stir-fry sauce), Pla Krapong Nueng Manow (steamed sea bass, three-flavoured dressing, lime segments, fried shallots, coriander) Goong Op Woon Sen (tiger prawns and stewed USA pork with glass noodles, young ginger, black pepper sauce) for main course. Although their green curry is also very good, I haven’t suggested this dish as I feel one should try out something different.
One of my all-time favourites! If you have time on hand and don’t mind taking a short drive, Sip Song is the place to go. Located at Repulse Bay, Sip Song is a beachside restaurant which not only has delicious food but very good cocktails too. The vibe is casual and relaxed, perfect for a boozy beachside lunch or early dinner.
I crave for are their Roti Kor Muu Yang Prik Pow (roti pancake topped with BBQ pork neck, chili jam, fresh herbs, crispy shallots), Khai Jeaw Phu (fluffy crab omelette with scallions, and fried Thai garlic), Gai Yang Aroi Hor (Thai ‘Strip Club’ Chicken marinated for 24 hours, garlic coriander paste, jaew sauce), Keaw Waan Gai (a delicious green curry made with free-range chicken, baby eggplants, coconut milk, fresh chilis and Thai basil), Pla Krabrok Manow (whole steamed seabass with coriander, mushrooms, baby cabbage and lime chili dressing). Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Samsen is the place to go if you’re looking for good Thai street food. Very casual and famous for salads and soup noodles, you won’t find anything fancy here, unless you seek the true flavours of Thailand in Hong Kong, its well worth the visit.
With two locations on Hong Kong Island, I suggest you go to their Sheung Wan outlet as its bigger and has a few more options than the one in Wan Chai (where you would possibly have to stand in a serpentine line waiting for your turn to get a table).
The first and only Three Michelin star Italian restaurant outside Italy, 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana is helmed by Chef Umberto Bombana, the man often hailed as “The King of White Truffles”. His 4,700 square foot restaurant is one of the hottest high-end fine dining establishments in Hong Kong. The restaurant is divided into a cocktail bar and lounge, main dining room and two private rooms.
Bombana chooses and selects products from all over the world to put into his fine creations. The menu keeps changing and it would be foolhardy to recommend dishes; do ensure making a reservation well in advance and meet Devender the Bar Manager, one of the finest mixologists I know. Try the 8 1/2 Negroni (Gin, Campari, Carpano Antica Formula, Grapefruit Bitters, Orange Bitters) or The Optimist (Light Rum, Ginger Cordial, Honey Water, Lime Juice, Fresh Basil, Yellow Chartreuse, Cucumber).
Grace Kim has created Hollyhocks (Applewood, Lemon, Simple Syrup, Honey, Suze, Campari, Angostura), a cocktail inspired by nature where he has brought together a combination of bitter, woody and earthy with a sweet and sour finish to best represent nature’s features.
Franks is a two-storey bar, restaurant and music joint specializing in hearty Italian American food and warm hospitality reminiscent of the old school unfussy ‘red sauce’ restaurants in New York City and New Jersey slowly but surely turning itself into the go-to place for people who love good music as much as they do great food.
A spot with a fantastic vibe and very friendly staff, go to Franks for early cocktails and dinner followed by after-dinner drinks at their ground floor bar which has an array of DJ’s playing different genres of music.
I would definitely recommend Frank’s Pork Meatball in a homemade tomato-based sauce with Spaghetti and Pappardelle Alla Vodka in a pink sauce with rock shrimps, shiitake mushrooms, pancetta, parsley.
Fini’s (formerly known as Linguini Fini) has two branches (Central and Wan Chai) on Hong Kong Island.
Fini’s is rooted in authentic taste infused with local flavours – rustic, homemade Italian cuisine that has room for a little Hong Kong twist without taking away from the meats and sausages that are house-cured and the pasta, all homemade. The Fini’s menu is created using local organic produce and animals sourced from neighbouring farms. They have two branches (Central and Wan Chai) on Hong Kong Island.
My recommendations would be their Typhoon Shelter Crab Linguini Fini with crab pickled chili, fermented black beans, scallion gremolata and 18” Brooklyn Special Pizza with fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, roasted garlic, peppers, basil. Look no further if you’re a lover of Spare Ribs ~ visit Fini’s Wan Chai which has the best ribs (glazed with maple BBQ sauce) with Mac & Cheese in Hong Kong! PS: Fini’s has a value for money set lunch all days of the week.
India Sub Continent
New Punjab Club is styled around the post-partition era of India and Pakistan. Very popular amongst the ex-pat population, this tandoor grill house brings the region’s traditional flavours into a meat and seafood-centric menu. I believe their top seller is “Masalewali Chanp”, a Tomahawk lamb chop marinated in spices and cooked to perfection in a tandoor. Do try their “Samosa Chaat” which has a perfect balance of flavours and of course “Keema Pau”, a dish of spiced lamb, milk buns and “salli” potatoes.
The menu is fairly small with few options for vegetarians, this Michelin star restaurant is more on the expensive side even by Hong Kong standards.
If you’re sightseeing and at Victoria Peak, check out their group restaurant Rajasthan Rifles styled on the lines of an Anglo-Indian mess hall.
Very good food at pretty reasonable prices. If you’re craving Indian cuisine, Bombay Dreams is the place to go. A huge menu with options of meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes with an emphasis on North India, the dishes are large and authentic in taste. The restaurant has a fairly large lunch buffet (ala carte is available too). A live tandoor kitchen gives the true feeling of an Indian restaurant where you can see the Chef twirling a “roomali roti” or pulling out a “tandoori roti”.
My favourites to start with are their Fish Koliwada, Mugh Tikka Methi Malai, Tandoori Nisha (grilled jumbo prawns marinated in lemon juice, yoghurt and freshly ground pan-roasted spices), Palak Patta Chaat, Paneer Tikka Peeli Mirch (cottage cheese stuffed with homemade tomato chutney, ginger, chilli, marinated in yoghurt and then baked in a tandoor), Lagan Ki Boti, Adrakh Ke Panje (lamb chops marinated in yoghurt, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger). The selection of main courses are humungous and I fell its best to leave the decision to you!
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