A culinary tour of Hong Kong with chef Simon Rogan
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This article is part of a guide to Hong Kong from FT Globetrotter
A perfect day in Hong Kong starts with a sweet pastry, something at which the Hong Kongese excel. If you follow the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked pastry, you can find a custard tart on every street corner. At Mid-Autumn Festival time, you can try mooncake (a cake typically made with lotus seed paste and salted duck-egg yolk). When done right, mooncakes are incredibly delicious — and very moreish. I have to be quite strict with myself when it comes to pastries when I visit.
Every time I return to Hong Kong, I like to find new places to eat in the bustling restaurant scenes of Lamma Island, Kowloon City and Causeway Bay. I’ve discovered some incredible places from both native and international chefs. Walking through the streets, you can find some of the best Peking duck and char siu pork, then find yourself at an Italian restaurant serving wonderful fresh pasta.
For lunch, I tend to head to Zagin Soba in Happy Valley. I’ve fallen in love with ramen since travelling to Hong Kong and this is the ultimate spot. Zagin Soba uses chicken stock in its tsukemen, resulting in a really creamy broth that’s packed with umami flavours. I love sitting at the counter, soaking up the sounds and smells of the kitchen.
Dinner is a more difficult decision in a city where you’re truly spoiled for choice. I’ve had the pleasure of dining a few times at Ecriture, Maxime Gilbert’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant that uses Japanese produce to create innovative contemporary French cuisine. I was blown away by both the food and the stunning views. Then there’s Tate Dining Room, where chef Vicky Lau’s food is pushing all creative boundaries. The menu is Chinese food executed with French finesse. We have collaborated with Vicky in the past, and her second Michelin star, which was awarded last year, is richly deserved.
Otherwise, I love to dine at Olivier Elzer’s L’Envol, which is always an elegant affair. His food is an exemplary example of refined French cuisine and truly indulgent dining. And you can’t miss The Chairman, Danny Yip’s inventive ode to classic Cantonese cooking. I really admire Danny’s philosophy of using the best of local ingredients as it closely aligns with my own. The food at The Chairman is out of this world. The whole Steamed Flowery Crab is not only visually beautiful, it is delicate and unbelievably sweet. It’s exciting to dine in the presence of a chef I know is bound for great things.
For a post-dinner tipple, I head to The Diplomat, a classy speakeasy from John Nugent. The interior transports you to 1920s America, with low lighting and rich leather banquettes. The champagne julep is sublime, with the addition of bergamot bringing a vibrant citrus note. There are plenty of bars to choose from in Hong Kong but The Diplomat is second to none in creating an atmosphere that is both sophisticated and relaxed.
My team at Aulis Hong Kong have suggested a few of their favourite spots that are on my list to check out soon, including Yardbird, a highly recommended yakitori restaurant for a relaxed dinner, with lovely food, nice beer and a casual and lively setting.
Oli Marlow, Aulis’s executive chef, heads to Dodam Chicken in Causeway Bay for his favourite after-work dinner — he says it’s the best fried chicken in town. It’s open until late and normally attracts the hospitality crowd as it’s a relaxed venue to chill out in after a busy service.
One Harbour Road is a traditional Cantonese restaurant and famous for its excellent dim sum. Oli recommends going with a big group so you can taste more of the menu (the sweet red bean soup is a favourite dish of his).
Moxie is a new restaurant by Shane Osborn, a longtime friend of mine. The menu is mostly vegetarian with a few fish dishes — it’s one of the few vegetable-focused restaurants in Hong Kong. I can’t wait to dine at what will undoubtedly be a trendsetter.
At the time of publication, Hong Kong’s restaurants are operating with reduced hours under social distancing restrictions. April 21 marks the first phase of easing restrictions including the extension of dine-in hours to 10pm
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