TIME TO FEAST
NUR owes its influences to a few revolutionary pioneers - renowned Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons by Raymond Blanc and Copenhagen's Nordic Food Lab (NOMA). Head chef Nurdin Topham has worked for years at both, and has been personal development chef to Blanc. Topham has created "nourishing gastronomy" with NUR. The food does not disappoint.
For dinner, there is a choice of two sets namely Light (HK$788 for seven courses) or Feast (HK$988 for 10 courses). We opt for the latter, starting with a light and flavoursome amuse bouche featuring beetroot taco, watercress, slow-cooked glazed carrot with fennel and cumin cream, cucumber and pear pickled Jasmine kombucha. A refreshing oyster with cucumber and wasabi follows, after which we enjoy a tomato and king crab dish - the tomatoes are soused in vinegar and white soy with Thai basil oil and herbs and blossoms from the herb garden. The dish is deliciously well balanced and again, light. We then savour the poached salmon with baked beetroot, lightly pickled with smoked cultured cream with dill.
This is followed by king crab, pomelo and herbs, then an "egg" dish with slow poached Taiyouran egg and a mixed grain mushroom porridge, roasted shitake mushroom, garlic, chives and an emulsion of cured egg yoke. Meat eaters are not left out, as a smoked wagyu beef cheek dish with black garlic is on the menu. We end with a bitter chocolate and orange sorbet with chocolate crumble, hazelnut and orange purée. The cuisine is fresh, full of flavour and light. Tracey Furniss
3/F, Lyndhurst Tower, 1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
One might easily mistake this new eatery for a watering hole because of the long and narrow bar. Located on Hollywood Road, opposite Old Bailey Street, this 38-seat restaurant is tight for space.
The restaurant owners say they noticed the lack of Taiwanese fare in Hong Kong, and being fans of bubble tea (a popular Taiwanese tea-based drink), they thought a Taiwanese restaurant might be a good addition to the foodie scene here. All five owners are in their early 20s and that might explain why they put a contemporary spin on traditional Taiwanese fare.
We started with some signature dishes.
After going through six dishes, our recommendations are the delicious mushroom forest with potato bits which comes topped with a poached organic quail egg (HK$138); the crispy five-spices marinated bite-sized chicken and waffles (HK$128); the tasty "oyster duet" croquet (HK$138); and the lightly battered fish and squid sticks (HK$98).
The highlight of the evening, however, was the numerous tea concoctions. Our favourite is the winter melon pudding slush (HK$58). Pin Lee
27 Hollywood Rd, Central
Tucked in a quiet corner of Elements' rooftop garden, Toro may not enjoy the same buzz as Dining Concepts' other celebrity-backed restaurants - think Lupa, Al Molo and BLT Steak. But that doesn't mean it's not worth sampling Richard Sandoval's pan Latin cuisine.
Things started well with the "small plates" - starters designed to share. Carne asada tacos (HK$118) had tender beef slices paired with creamy guacamole and salsa roja while the tuna Nikkei ceviche (HK$128) was a blend of raw tuna with white soy ponzu, avocado chunks, citrus seasoning and sprinkling of seaweed on top. But the real stars are the steaks and chops.
The 24-ounce pasture-fed Australian T-bone (HK$508) paired beautifully with sides of "corn off the cob" (HK$58) and grilled avocado (HK$58), although the salsas were an underwhelming chimichurri, and bland barbecue and horseradish sauces. Tracey Furniss
TORO STEAK HOUSE & GASTRO BAR
Shop R008, Rooftop Garden, Civic Square, 3/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon
La Locanda by Giancarlo Perbellini is immediately welcoming. The close tables and an abundance of wood in the fittings make it a lively venue.
Proceedings get off to an impressive start with tasty breadsticks while we peruse the menu. We experience mixed fortunes with the starters - the insalata novella salad (HK$128) with pears, walnuts and gorgonzola dressing is unremarkable, but the crema di ceci (HK$148), a chickpea cream, burrata cheese and mandarin emulsion, hits the right notes. With the mains, the maialino (HK$238) - crispy suckling pig with onions, sprouts and licorice - with a side dish of roast potatoes is superb. However, the balance does not appear right in the ravioli di pecorino (HK$188), home-made pasta filled with pecorino cheese, apple-caramel and balsamic vinegar, which is too sweet.
The desserts are winners - marscapone e caffe (HK$98), with soft marscapone cream and a ladyfinger soaked in espresso, and the semifreddo al pistacchio (HK$88) of frozen pistachio cream and raspberry sauce.
The restaurant has a great cocktail lounge on the outside patio with a superb harbour view. Rachael Williamson
LA LOCANDA BY GIANCARLO PERBELLINI
Shop 402, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui
Zen was a favourite for classic Chinese cuisine before it closed its doors. Now owner Lawrence Leung with daughter, Jessica, a graduate of the famed Le Cordon Bleu, continue the Zen concept, with Zen Too.
Located in Causeway Bay's new dining hot spot - Soundwill Plaza II - Zen Too offers Chinese cuisine with a modern twist. Although the décor is a mix of East meets West with hints of industrial chic, it is very much a family restaurant with large tables, bright lights and noise levels that can escalate when full.
The dim sum menu is full of familiar favourites, such as siu mai (HK$39), barbecue pork bun (HK$28) and Chinese chive and pork dumplings (HK$33). Highlights, however, are the innovative dishes such as the DIY beef flank curry pies (HK$73), head to tail beef bourguignon (HK$68) made with ox tongue, belly and tail, and the braised fish with layered tofu (HK$78) - delicious and great examples of Chinese fusion fare.
Zen Too embraces the small and big plate concept, ideal for sharing. The wine list is decent and the teas are good. But what really gives this place the thumbs up is the attentive service - the staff are professional, polite and attentive and rightly deserve a good tip. Pin Lee
8/F, Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay,(852) 2845 4555
Part of the Wooloomooloo Group, The Chop House is its second branch, having opened the first in Singapore last year. The spacious steakhouse features beer taps on the tables in the bar and an alfresco dining area - the first of their kind in Hong Kong. Guests can pour their own pints with a selfTAP card, which beats waiting for your order.
The mainstay dishes are burgers, steaks and grills, so we started light with a salad nicoise featuring vine-ripened tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes and green beans tossed in red wine vinaigrette (HK$110), but made the mistake of adding the grilled tuna (HK$45), which was tasteless with too much black pepper. We fared better with the Japanese-inspired beef fillet with lemon-soy dipping sauce, daikon, chillies, sesame seeds and scallions. For the main course, the Australian grass-fed beef tenderloin with sweet corn potato cake and sautéed spinach, Armagnac and peppercorn sauce (HK$298) was cooked to perfection. The Australian double lamb chops served with ratatouille and a red wine sauce (HK$270) were also good.
The desserts need some tweaking, however, as the caramel apple bread pudding with crème Anglaise, vanilla ice cream and warm apple-caramel sauce (HK$88) was bland with a stodgy texture. The tiramisu (HK$68) was a better choice. The service was attentive, and we enjoyed a few glasses of 20-year-old port. Tracey Furniss
THE CHOP HOUSE
3/F, Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown
1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay
With more than 40 outlets worldwide, the Dalloyau name in France has been linked with gastronomy for more than 300 years. In 1682, Charles Dalloyau was appointed as Louis XIV’s “officier de bouche” – a great honour in the French court – and generations of Dalloyaus served royals including Marie Antoinette until 1802, when the family opened their first tea house in Paris. Now, Dalloyau Hong Kong is offering a boutique patisserie and café.
The design is a modern interpretation of 18thcentury French influences, with marble-decked walls in the boutique and warmer earth tones in the café with hand-painted flowers and bees on the walls, and comfortable sofa seating. Open for lunch, afternoon tea, and a wine and cheese pairing after 6pm, Le Café Dalloyau’s must-try is the creamy chicken soup with sauteed blue foot mushroom on the set lunch menu, followed by the lobster salad or the seared salmon with baby spinach, walnuts and apple compote.
Diners are spoilt for choice with the cakes and macarons. We enjoyed the opera cake featuring coffee jonconde sponge, coffee cream, chocolate ganache and glaze, and the Saint-Honore Chantilly with caramelised choux pastry on sweet dough, chiboust cream and vanilla Chantilly. Set lunch is HK$238 for two courses or HK$298 for three. Tracey Furniss
LE CAFÉ DALLOYAU
4/f, Shop 403, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui
Merging the worlds of French fine dining with street art décor and upbeat music, Bibo manages to pull off a unique trendy dining venue with a bar area, serving an interesting selection of 1930s cocktails.
Executive chef Mutaro Balde has a three-Michelin-star background. Bringing his creative interpretation of modern French cuisine to the table, diners can choose from small to sharing plates.
We started off with cocktails and began our culinary journey with Japanese scallops and corn three ways - pureed, foam and grilled (HK$340) - with a vegetarian salad of figs, asparagus, artichokes, fennel, burrata and black truffle vinaigrette (HK$150). The scallops were cooked perfectly, and the corn and foam added texture. The ravioli de foie gras (HK$230) - duck liver served in chicken veloute with herbs - was rich and smooth; we loved it. The lamb with pan-fried polenta and spring vegetables (HK$420) was perfectly cooked, as was the Australian wagyu with mashed potatoes and truffle (HK$320). For dessert, we went for apple sorbet. Tracey Furniss
163 Hollywood Rd, Sheung Wan
La Saison by Jacques Barnachon seems out of place among the Japanese, Korean and local eateries on Cameron Road, yet it also seems a perfect representation of the Asian-influenced French cuisine by the Michelin-starred chef.
The restaurant’s elegant décor offers a soothing retreat from the busy street. Staff were attentive even if they weren’t always audible.
Our meal was nearly perfect, with the major glitch being the sea bream tartare marinated in yuzu jus, sea urchin and Aquitaine caviar (HK$208). The dish tasted surprisingly bitter, like lemon rinds. We were alarmed when the waiter mumbled about a lemon “paper” that wasn’t edible in the pan-fried foie gras with roast apples and Jura wine sauce (HK$298). The Jura wine gave the foie gras a delicious twist, but we had to leave most of the apple uneaten because in the low lighting it was hard to make out what or where the “paper” was.
However, the blue lobster with baby vegetables in slightly spicy yellow wine sauce (HK$780) and the beef tenderloin cooked in hay served with red wine and truffle mashed potatoes (HK$560) quickly made us forget the early hiccups. The tenderloin was buttery and tender, while the lobster was succulent and fresh.
The perfectly sliced pineapple carpaccio and exotic sherbet (HK$130), and the crunchy cacao chocolate (HK$150) made a perfect end to our meal. Winnie Chung
LA SAISON BY JACQUES BARNACHON
2/f, The Cameron, 33 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
FARE FOR ALL
With rising property prices, it is quite a coup for Aberdeen Street Social to find a two-storey building with a garden and patio.
The fact that it serves imaginative cocktails and great modern British fare by Jason Atherton adds to its appeal. The menu features a choice of eight starters and eight mains. We started with the roasted quail breast and confit leg (HK$245), served with foie gras, Chinese almonds and peach chutney, and the raw Hokkaido scallops with dashi jelly, apple, sisho, avocado and wasabi puree (HK$228). Both were hearty servings and delicious. The quail was roasted to perfection and the scallops succulent and fresh.
The roasted sea bass with cauliflower couscous (HK$308) was a pretty sight and tasted just as good. The pork chop with pumpkin and orange puree (HK$325) was sweet and succulent, with the puree adding a refreshingly summery taste to it.
We ended with the JAAL 75% (HK$110), a mixture of chocolate, banana, calamansi and Madras curry flavours that gave it an interesting sweet and savoury taste. The peanut praline with pineapple (HK$110) was the perfect lightness for the hot evening. Winnie Chung
ABERDEEN STREET SOCIAL
PMQ ground floor, JPC, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central
With a setting inspired by modern yet casual New York luxury apartments, Harlan Goldstein’s latest restaurant, Penthouse, is impressive. From the urban retreat decor infused with industrial loft elements, bold colours and a quirky chandelier to the amazing harbour view, delicious food and the soon-to-be-opened rooftop bar, this definitely is the next go-to place in Causeway Bay.
We started with the Hokkaido scallop carpaccio with avocado, aji panca, passion fruit and crispy rice (HK$188), which was refreshing and light, and the beef carpaccio roll with rocket, stracchino cheese and truffle (HK$178). For mains, the Italian Arborio rice, Maine lobster with sakura shrimp, lobster sauce, basil and bottaga (HK$388) was rich, creamy and full of flavour.
The stone-pot paella is also a must-try – we went for the shrimp, squid, chorizo and saffron (HK$288). The chef uses squid ink to make the rice black. Steak lovers will not be disappointed with the 60-day wetaged prime Brandt beef cooked in a Josper oven. We tried the strip loin (HK$400 for 12oz or HK$520 for the superprime Brandt beef), which come with a choice of three sauces.
The buffet-style dessert offers bite-sized portions of favourites such as New York cheesecake and tiramisu, and there are nitrogen-blasted treats such as banana frozen yoghurt with raspberry and chocolate sauce. Tracey Furniss
PENTHOUSE BY HARLAN GOLDSTEIN
30/F, Soundwill Plaza II Midtown, 1-29 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay