Hong Kong has a dining scene as vibrant as the city itself

From brilliantly inventive Michelin-star restaurants to classic Cantonese cuisine, Hong Kong has a dining scene as vibrant as the city itself.
Anushree Basu-Bhalla        Print Edition: Aug 18, 2013

Godzilla should have skipped Tokyo. Hong Kong, as I found out, is a much better place to gobble through. With over 11,000 restaurants and an equally diverse cuisine, it would take nothing short of a giant lizard to fulfill the mammoth task of chomping through this city.

Hong Kong's culinary prowess is matched only by its status as the seat of capitalism - the crossroads where East meets West. Here, history and tradition sit cheek-by-jowl and the local palate is evolved and open to experimentation, given the city's colonial roots and cosmopolitan culture.

Nevertheless, despite the omnipresent frenzy of commerce and culture, the place you usually find a Hongkonger at his communal and animated best is the locally revered noshing haunt. Food is personal here; it followed me through the city like the warm embrace of its subtropical weather.

Hong Kong climbed the food totem once it got the Michelin nod in 2008. Only the second city in Asia to get bragging rights over having 48 Michelin-starred restaurants. Things got even better when taxes on wine and beer were scrapped the same year, resulting in cheaper drinks. Right from the noodle soup station that dishes out heartwarming shrimp wontons at the business-class lounge of its slick international airport to the elegantly-plated braised goose at glassed-in restaurants, my visit to Hong Kong was framed by food. So here's the big scoop on the most sought after dining destinations in the city. Dig in.

Ammo
Ammo

AMMO
Ammo is warm and welcoming, the food is simple yet delicious, and its fare is surprisingly economical. It sits pretty in the new Asia Society Hong Kong Centre with décor that is inspired by Alphaville (a 1965 science fiction film noir directed by Jean-Luc Godard). Think shiny industrial-edged decor softened by the lush greenery outside. The six-metre floor-toceiling windows promise ample views of busy Hong Kong. The space gives off a semi-formal vibe and is recommended for a working lunch.

The Food
The angel hair with uni, burrata cheese ravioli with Peking duck ragu, and the spaghetti cacio e pepe are fabled menu champions. Also sample the slowcooked egg with toro, uni and Roman zucchini sauce.
Meal for two
HKD 700 (without alcohol or taxes)
Address
Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong. Tel: 2537 9888, ammo.com.hk

latelierdejoelrobuchon

L'ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON
Drop by for its innovative French cuisine, served tapas-style. Securing a highly coveted seat in this two Michelinstar restaurant, helmed by master chef Joel Robuchon, is one of the most rewarding dining experiences in Hong Kong. The décor is contemporary chic, featuring plush red-velvet seating complemented by dark wood furniture. The restaurant has a circular bar enveloping an open kitchen, allowing customers to witness the process from pan to plate. The seating plan is divided into two areas - L'Atelier and Le Jardin. An elegant, formal atmosphere makes it a popular place to hold business lunches with clients.

The Food
Signature dishes include sea urchin in lobster jelly topped with cauliflower cream, crispy langoustine papillote with basil, and freerange quail with foie gras. This is served with creamy mashed potato.
Meal for two
HKD 1,000 (without alcohol or taxes)
Address
L'Atelier, Shop 401, The Landmark 4F, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: (852) 2166 9000

Socialito

SOCIALITO
Got there for some off-duty fun at a buzzing neighbourhood of Wyndham Street. At Socialito, a lot of thought has gone into getting the details right. Busy and casual out front; cool and sophisticated in the restaurant-slash-nightclub at the back. Date-friendly? Check. Open until 2 am. No need for another late-night McDonald's binge after a long day of being in and out of meetings? Check.

The Food
The esquites - roasted corn tossed in anejo cheese, spicy mayo, lime and cilantro - are served off the cob in a little crockpot to keep the mess at bay. For a late night bite, you may opt for pork belly or swordfish tacos, seafood ceviche or pulledpork tostada.
Meal for two HKD 300
Address
G/F, The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 3167 7380. www.socialito. com.hk.

The Salted Pig

THE SALTED PIG
The restaurant is known for its rib-sticking comfort food served in portions designed to be shared. The decor matches the warmth on the platter: think, a homely country kitchen, minus the oink-oink noises from the farms. Several long communal tables sit in the centre of the large dining room. There are booths, and single tables for smaller groups too. The food complements the rustic and cosy interiors; a place to roll up the shirt-sleeves and dig in some home-style food (just like my mamma's!). Also famous for delicious side orders and quick service, The Salted Pig is a good option for a quick bite en route to a meeting.

The Food
Pork is all the rage at The Salted Pig - picture the signature shredded pork-knuckle Memphis-style sandwich with tangy celeriac apple coleslaw or the stuffed pork tenderloin for mains. Not a pig fan? Then take a break from the boar with the signature green bean, broad bean and sweet-pea salad. In dessert, the pistachio mousse with macerated strawberries is to die for.
Meal for two HKD 300 (without alcohol or taxes)
Address 2/F, The L Place, 139 Queen's Road, Central Hong Kong. Tel: 2870 2323.

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