Diner’s Diary

Hong Kong's best mac 'n' cheese face-off: perfect for a cold day

Central restaurant pits its version of the classic American snack against four others in a contest that starts today. Winner of The Mac Attack will be decide by Instagram posts and sales figures. We tasted all five to give you a head start

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 January, 2016, 11:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 11:56am

Mac ’n’ cheese fans will have a food coma after tackling “The Mac Attack” at Hong restaurant Lily & Bloom.

Available from today until the end of February are five restaurants’ interpretations of the all-American comfort food. We had the tough job sampling the dishes – cooked up by Little Bao, NOM, Tiger Curry, Stone Nullah Tavern and Lily & Bloom.

First up was chef May Chow’s Little Bao Mac & Cheese. She used steamed thick rice rolls instead of pasta, applewood cheddar sauce, a splash of Shaoxing wine and topped with a big slab of seared foie gras for decadence.

The end result? We liked the combination of ingredients that worked well together, and the Shaoxing wine and foie gras added another dimension to the flavour.

Next was Tiger Curry’s Satoru Mukogawa. Called Tiger Style Mac & Cheese, it includes large scallops, mountain yam, macaroni, and miso topped with a generous dollop of salmon roe. It’s an interesting combination of textures and flavours not normally found in mac & cheese. But who knows? It could catch on.

Vinny Lauria of Stone Nullah Tavern brought out its straightforward Black Truffled Carbonara Mac & Cheese with an egg yolk and diced chives. He came to our table to shave the black truffle.

The lovely pungent scent of the truffles was intoxicating, which built up the anticipation for an amazing dish. However, once everything was mixed together and scooped onto our plates, the gorgeous truffle scent had disappeared into the creamy sauce which was a pity, but it was a delicious dish nonetheless.

Two more to go.

While Italians created pasta, they didn’t invent mac ’n’ cheese (the English did) and NOM chef Fabrizio Napolitano’s version was a hearty one, with rigatoni instead of macaroni, mixed with wagyu beef balls, braised beef cheek, Gruyere cheese, and on the bottom a thin layer of smoked eggplant purée, and topped with Gruyere crackers. All the flavours came together and the rigatoni definitely got more surface area covered in cheese.

Last but not least, Lily & Bloom’s chef Billy Otis rolled out his trolley and began heating up a small pot of cognac. He flamed it and poured the glowing liquid into a giant cheese wheel of 36-month aged parmesan, where he made his sauce that was scooped into a plate of macaroni with half a local rock lobster. The result was a bisque-like flavour and the lobster chunks were cooked just right.

The dish that has the most sales and most instagrammed with #themacattack wins the title of best mac ’n’ cheese in Hong Kong. The winning chef will have boasting rights as well as 10 per cent of sales going to the charity of their choice.

What a good way to keep the winter blues away.

The Mac Attack, January 25-February 29, Lily & Bloom, 5/F-6/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central. Tel: 2810 6166