Hong Kong Restaurants
Shop 13, 2/F, J Residence
60 Johnston Road
Tel: 852 2850 8371
Tucked behind a historic shophouse in the rapidly gentrifying Wan Chai district, this inventive restaurant has benefited from the rock-star profile of its chef, Alvin Leung. It also carefully upholds a reputation for consistency and improvisation. Described as modern Chinese fusion, the cooking is edgier than most Hong Kong food, and it is served in a simple glass-framed space with a second-floor outdoor deck. Reservations-only diners tuck into dishes such as suckling pig with Sichuan vanilla, apple, and peas; and cod with saffron miso, Sauternes, and seaweed.—Gary Bowerman
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 3 pm and 7 pm to midnight, Saturdays 7 pm to midnight.
Peak Galleria, Level 12
118 Peak Road
Tel: 852 2849 5111
Perched right on Victoria Peak, 1,355 feet above Hong Kong, Café Deco is best known for its spectacular views over the city and South China Sea. The menu here is eclectic—a little of this, a little of that—and is clearly designed to appeal to as wide a cross section of tourists as possible (crowds of them arrive every day to dine behind the restaurant's wall of glass windows). The sushi rolls, Indian and Thai curries, and pastas and pizzas are all decent, and there are some ambitious dishes like Australian Wagyu beef (otherwise known as Kobe) and tandoori ostrich filet. But it's the vistas—and the menu prices—that are the real jaw-droppers here.
Hong Kong locals like their sweets—hence the huge proliferation of dessert-only restaurants around town. The treats at these cheap, cheerful places are especially popular after evening meals, and among kids (tables are often filled with high-school students gossiping over their condensed milk–doused mango-sago puddings). Traditional Chinese desserts like black-grass jelly, durian crepes, sweet tofu, and sesame paste are available either hot or cold; the friendly staffers manning the counters can help you decide among the offerings. Two of the best-known dessert names in town are Honeymoon Dessert and Hui Lau Shan, both of which have dozens of branches spread all over the city, decent hygiene standards, and English/Chinese menus. Honeymoon opened one of its biggest branches in the historic Western Market (Shop 4-6, ground floor, Western Market, Sheung Wan; 852-2851-2606; www.honeymoon-dessert.com). Hui Lau Shan has a wildly popular branch in Causeway Bay (ground floor, Po Hon Building, 24-30 Percival St.; 852-2574-6866).
No matter how many McDonald's and KFC franchises open up in Hong Kong, savory dumplings are the city's fast-food staple. The ubiquitous dumpling shops offer the full range of regional variations.
Din Tai Fung, a branch of the famous Taiwan shop, is well known for its delicate xiaolongbao, little purses of meat and soup wrapped in dough and steamed in bamboo baskets. They are a meal unto themselves and are often washed down with Chinese tea (third floor, Whampoa Gourmet Place, Whampoa Garden, Hung Hom, Kowloon; 852-2330-4886; www.dintaifung.com.tw/eng).
Another variety, the half-moon-shaped jiaozi, is drier inside but just as filling and tasty. One of the best places to try it is the mom-and-pop shop Wang Fu, where you can choose from a variety of fillings, including the popular traditional pork-and-chives and special creations like tomato-and-egg. They are served alone or with noodles; each order comes with a complimentary glass of soy milk (Whampoa, Jade Center, 98-102 Wellington St., Central; 852-2121-8006).
Second floor, LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Tel: 852 2522 9318
A Nordic lounge and restaurant set in a Soho skyscraper, FINDS is an acronym for Finland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden—the collection of countries that inspired its menus and design. The modernist decor and menu of updated Northern European classics (blini with caviar, venison loin) and "scapas" (Scandinavian tapas such as wild-forest-mushroom pie) attract a clientele of design-minded locals and stylish travelers. Vodka, of course, is the drink of choice here, mixed into signature cocktails named for Nordic celebs: The Björk is basil-infused vodka with passion fruit, pineapple, and coconut, while the Edvard Munch is lime aquavit and ginger wine (insert your own Scream joke here). These concoctions are sipped inside deep blue banquettes, around the snow-white bar, or on the blond-wood patio, where DJs spin on weekends.
3545 Johnston Road
Tel: 852 2866 0663
One of the city's top Cantonese restaurants since 1972, Fook Lam Moon is old-school—both in cuisine and decor (look for the shrine to the kitchen god near the entrance). The prices are high, but you're paying for the solicitous, old-world service as well as for beautifully prepared, classic dishes like bird's nest soup (sweetened, double-boiled, and served in a coconut shell), braised whole abalone with Chinese mushrooms, and whole roast suckling pig. There's another branch in Kowloon's Tsim Sha Tsui district (53-59 Kimberley Rd., 852-2366-0286).
Tel: 852 2989 6036
Most visitors to Hong Kong stay amid the snaking streets of the Central District, but it's worth making the westward trek to the high-tech enclave of Cyberport for a meal at Green T. House. The minimalist whitewashed space overlooks the South China Sea and its walls display a rotating collection of artwork, all with a tea theme. Canaries provide the musical accompanimentexcept on nights when enigmatic owner JinR plays the gu qin, a Chinese dulcimer. The innovative menu includes addictive dishes such as cow-ear mushrooms in wasabi, ginger, and sesame oil; and a radish, celery, and cucumber salad infused for two days in secret spices. Those with more adventurous palates should try chef Alan Yu's texturally creative items like ribbon cuttlefish "pasta" with Champagne and Szechuan pepper.
Open daily 11 am to 2:30 pm and 6 pm to midnight.
28th floor, 1 Peking Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 852 3428 8342
Hutongs, traditional alleyways lined with ancient thatched-roof houses, are gradually disappearing from the capital, but happily this gorgeous restaurant set high in One Peking Road Tower isn't likely to go anywhere soon. Swathed in scarlet and black, it pays homage to its namesake with antique wood furnishings, red lanterns, and bamboo birdcages. The menu—as endless as the views—is traditional Chinese from across the nation: platters of crispy, fatty lamb ribs; braised Mandarin fish fillets with spicy black-bean sauce; and prawns with herbs and dried chiles. Finish with a drink at neighboring Aqua Spirit, a rooftop bar that gives Philippe Starck's nearby Felix a run for its money.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road
Tel: 852 2825 4014
The Mandarin Oriental's Krug Room is the ultimate in gustatory indulgence. Diners arrive via limousine and are escorted to a secret room off the kitchen that accommodates no more than ten diners. Menus and welcome messages from the kitchen are written on slate walls, and floors are made from the same oak used to form the barrels in which the famous Champagne is aged. But the focus here is on the kitchen. Diners watch as executive chef Uwe Opocensky, who trained at Spain's El Bulli, creates dishes designed to complement different Krug Champagnes, be they Rosé or Vintage 1995. Guests are encouraged to discuss the menu directly with the chef, who tends toward dramatic dishes with names like "Golden Caviar, Black Cod and Rain." Be sure to make reservations at least two weeks in advance and to apply for a second mortgage: Dinner at the Krug Room costs a minimum of $2,575 per person.
Open Mondays through Fridays 7 to 10:30 am, noon to 3 pm, and 6:30 to 11 pm; Saturdays noon to 3 pm and 6:30 to 11 pm.
2426 Stanley Street
Tel: 852 2523 5464
The best—and certainly the most traditional—dim sum in town is served here. Its 1930s rosewood furniture, creaky ceiling fans, brass spittoons, and famously rude waiters have made it a favorite with tycoons such as David Tang (of Shanghai Tang fame) and Dickson Poon, chairman of Harvey Nichols in London. For the genuine experience, come for an early lunch—after 11 a.m. they park the trolleys and break out the picture menus for tourists (though at lunch hour, you may often find yourself virtually ignored by the waiters in favor of the locals, who don't need every dumpling described). If you do decide to show up during the calmer evening repast, come early; the dim sum ends at 5:30 p.m.
15 Irving Street
Tel: 852 3196 9100
The first seriously swank eatery to move into cooler-by-the-minute Causeway Bay, Opia is a supper club inside the Jia Boutique Hotel that's reached by a purple sandstone staircase. Youthful local designer André Fu seems to have rebelled against his mentor, English minimalist John Pawson: The space pops with burgundy walls and lilac daybeds. The food is courtesy of Melbourne-born chef Teage Ezard, whose dishes—crispy fried pork with Thai basil and marinated bean shoots; yellowfin tuna sashimi with bonito panna cotta; Wagyu red beef curry with pumpkin—reflect his antipodean past and Chinese present. Come early for cocktails or late for DJs and dancing.
911 Lan Kwai Fong
Tel: 852 2186 1817
The name of this European-style bar and restaurant would seem to refer to 1997, the year when British rule over Hong Kong ended. But in fact, the owners named the place all the way back in 1982and it's still popular today. Open almost around the clock (except on weekends, when it just serves dinner and nighttime cocktails), it's a great place for comfort food like burgers, egg dishes, grilled lamb sausages, pasta, or risotto. For many locals, a stop here is akin to hangover prevention.
Lyndhurst Tower, First floor
1 Lyndhurst Terrace
Tel: 852 2845 2262
The best Indian food in town, bar none, is served up at this restaurant, where there's a real clay tandoor oven in the kitchen. Among the succulent dishes cooked in it are leg of lamb and lobster tandoori (both of which need to be ordered two hours in advance, but which are well worth the wait), murck khurchan (chicken curry with fresh-ground black pepper), and tandoori jeegna (king prawns marinated with spices). There's an impressive lunch buffet with more than two dozen selections, and live Indian music in the evenings. Save room for the homemade mango or pistachio ice cream for dessert.