Favourite Hong Kong restaurants of Jaakko Sorsa, executive chef of Scandinavian restaurant Finds
Veteran of Hong Kong dining scene tells us his top places for alfresco dining, Chinese comfort food, and roast goose, plus where to eat on Lamma and the best cocktails in Central
This is my 13th year living in Hong Kong. My first dinner at Bo Innovation (shop 8, 1/F The Podium, J Senses,60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2850 8371) was particularly memorable. It was in 2009, sitting at the chef’s table with my wife, Kelly, and we were dazzled by the depth of the dishes and the stories behind them, told by the chefs themselves. I’ve enjoyed many meals there since with lots of visiting chef friends, and always left feeling exceptionally satisfied.
My family and many of my friends live in Ma Wan so Cafe Roma (L1, Shop 7 & 8, Beach Commercial Complex, Park Island, Ma Wan, tel: 3446 1226) is a regular hang-out for us. The alfresco seating area by the beach is ideal for kids to play and relaxing for us to mingle and feast on fettuccine carbonara with black truffle and the roasted all-natural chicken.
Tsim Chai Kee Noodle Shop (Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2850 6471) is my ultimate local Chinese comfort food and my family favourite. My go-to dish here is the shrimp and pork wonton.
Lamma Rainbow (23-25 First Street, Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island, tel: 2982 8100) is the restaurant for whenever I have first-time or layover guests visiting. I love how a short ride on the restaurant’s own open-deck boat can take you to another world a million miles away from the busy city to show guests that Hong Kong is more than just skyscrapers. The dishes I always order are baby clams in black bean chilli sauce, garlic shrimps, and steamed fish.
Come rain or shine, I would also take my guests for a scenic seaside walk from Tsuen Wan West to Yue Kee Roasted Goose Restaurant (9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng, tel: 2491 0105), and reward them with the crispest, juiciest, and tastiest roasted goose imaginable.
Lingonberries transport me back to my childhood – they can be found in nearly all of Finland’s forests and I use them to make lingonberry and yogurt mousse dessert at my own restaurant, Finds (1/F, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2522 9318).
For a quick meal between shifts I sometimes head to Din Tai Fung (Shop 306, 3/F Silvercord, 30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2730 6928). Xiao long bao is their signature dish, and indeed excellent, but I like their other selections of dumplings, too. The dough is thin, the fillings are delicious, and the service is wonderful. I really enjoy seeing the dumplings being freshly prepared in the glass-walled kitchen.
When I’m off I enjoy visiting chefs such as Vicky Cheng, who is extremely passionate, creative, friendly, and his cooking is forever evolving at VEA Restaurant and Lounge (29/F-30/F The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2711 8639). Their mixologist, Antonio Lai, is someone I know well from his years at Finds. He is skilful at preparing intriguing drinks and you can trust him to make you a fabulous treat – with Antonio, just sit back and enjoy the show.
Okra Kitchen (110 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2806 1038) is a new favourite of mine. It is a fun, casual izakaya serving Japanese-New Orleans fusion. Get a spot at the kitchen counter close to chef-owner Max Levy and chef Daniel Garner and ask them to feed you an array of sashimi and charcoal grilled dishes, paired with natural sakes – I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Since Finds opened in 2004, I have been going back annually to Finland for a long vacation with family plus short business trips for projects with Finnish companies, just like my recent collaboration with Finnair to put together business class menus between Hong Kong and Helsinki. Whenever I am back in Finland, I try to visit the casual restaurant Juuri (Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130, Helsinki, Finland, tel: +358 9 635732). Established in 2004, it manages to keep its original style of small modern Finnish dishes, yet paying homage to traditional Finnish cuisine.
Another inspirational place is Sea Horse (Kapteeninkatu 11, 00140, Helsinki, Finland, tel: +358 9 628169), the longstanding bohemian retreat of authors, musicians, and chefs. This restaurant has a great atmosphere and I love that they serve pretty much the same old school menu since 1934. I always order the vorschmack. In Finnish cuisine, vorschmack is usually prepared from ground meat, anchovies or herring, and onions. It is garnished with potatoes, pickles, and smetana (sour cream). Vorschmack is typically served with schnapps.