The five best Hong Kong restaurants we tried in 2016, and the next best too

Samsen showed it lived up to the buzz and Mercato was marvellous, as was homely Choi’s Kitchen, while the Japanese kaiseki tasting menu at newcomer La Bombance was fantastic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 December, 2016, 7:37pm

Restaurant reviewers at SCMP.com eat out in Hong Kong every week to inform you about the pros and cons of some of the thousands of places to eat out in the city. Sometimes the dishes we eat are nothing to write home about, and occasionally they just don’t cut it, but equally, we get to eat some memorable meals.

Of the scores of restaurants we’ve visited in the course of 2016, these five stand out:

La Bombance

There is only one word to describe the kaiseki tasting menu at this Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay – fantastic. We enjoyed every one of the 12 dishes served. Highlights included the roasted wagyu sirloin with shio koji, served with deep-fried tofu, thinly sliced vegetables, Kyoto leek and matsutake mushroom sauce – the thinly sliced beef, just warmed through, was wonderfully tender. Diners have a view of the city skyline, too. At HK$1,280 plus 10 per cent service charge, this is a bargain.

Click here for our full review of La Bombance.

Samsen

At Samsen in Wan Chai, the Thai street food comes quickly, so if you’re trying a lot of dishes, order in batches or they will all come at once. Probably the most talked-about dish at Samsen is the wagyu beef boat noodles (HK$128). While the sliced beef and meatballs were good, that wasn’t my favourite part of the dish; I just loved the thick, rich, deeply flavoured sauce that coated the thin rice noodles. We left only one of eight savoury dishes unfinished. Be sure to save room for dessert.

To see our full review of Samsen click here .

Choi’s Kitchen

This Tin Hau restaurant is the kind of place you could once find in many Hong Kong neighbourhoods – small, offering food made with care, friendly service and reasonable prices. We tried some of their specialities: supreme beef brisket with radish soup (HK$258) was fantastic, and clay pot rice dishes, one with eel and other with “Chinese charcuterie”; both were excellent.

Our full review of Choi's Kitchen is here 

Sun Fook Kee

You need to pre-order most of the dishes at this Fujianese restaurant in North Point when you book. We over-ordered a bit, but finished almost everything nonetheless. The steamed mud crab with dried longan (HK$500 for one catty) was an unusual and delicious combination. Stir-fried taro cake (HK$188) was a delicious, homely mess of a dish.

See Sun Fook Kee review in full

Mercato

My guest loved the meal we ate at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s new Lan Kwai Fong restaurant. She booked a table for a week after our visit. The smooth, creamy ricotta that came with our capellini with golden garlic, jalapenos and herbs was the best I’ve ever tasted. I was so enthusiastic about the dessert of salted caramel ice cream sundae with candied peanuts, popcorn, whipped cream and hot fudge (HK$78) that my guest kept sneaking bites of it, even though she was supposed to avoid dairy products.

Read more about our meal at Mercato 

We said we’d give you our top five, but there’s a runner-up too: Dacha, for hearty Eastern European comfort food

By the end of our meal at Dacha in Central, we were so pleased that we’d be happy to go back any time. We suspected we were going to like the food when the bread came: any place that serves garlicky whipped lard in place of butter or olive oil is all right with us. The home-made kielbasa was perfectly seasoned. We loved the oddly named “herring under a fur coat” (HK$98). Cabbage rolls (HK$175) were lighter than we expected.

Our Dacha review in full