Hong Kong beer festival founder’s go-to restaurants and bars
A fantastic no-frills izakaya, the best place to take his parents for Chinese soup, casual seafood dinners, and the best Chinese dessert shops – Beertopia’s Jonathan So gives us his eating out guide
I love Japanese food and one of my absolute favourites is Ishiyama (1/F, 513-515 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2833 6872), a tiny, no-frills izakaya that serves fantastic, home-style Japanese comfort food. The menu is extensive, with a range of simple, small dishes as well as heartier fare. Favourites include corn tempura, beef tendon stew, stuffed chicken wings, “juicy” tofu, fried oysters, beef udon and seasonal monkfish liver. They don’t have an English menu, but don’t worry, the staff are friendly and can help with recommendations.
My parents visit Hong Kong a couple of times a year, and whenever they’re in town we go to “Brother Kau” – the English name is Souper Authentic (88 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2111 0904) at least once a week for its excellent traditional Chinese soup. For those who don’t know, Chinese soup holds an almost magical, mythical health food status for Chinese parents, capable of curing all manner of ills and righting the wrongs of the world. It just so happens their soups taste awesome. They have a roster of about 15 standard soups they make daily, braised for hours until ready. Favourites include the watercress and pork ribs soup, and the apple, pear, white fungus and pork ribs soup. They also have a wide selection of homestyle dishes. Some of my go-tos include the steamed egg custard with dried scallop, and steamed pork pie with preserved cabbage. Go early, as the popular soups run out during dinner each night.
For seafood, Catch (95 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2855 1289) is a recent discovery and a great spot for casual dinners. I like the linguine vongole, pint of prawns, and the happy hour oysters special they have at Catch Next Door. Do yourself a favour and save some space for their surprisingly kick-ass desserts. I love the Oreo cheesecake, hot cinnamon donut balls, and chocolate mascarpone mousse.
For Chinese desserts, I love Cong Sao (11 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2278 2622). It’s crazy popular and there’s always a line, but the turnover’s pretty quick and it’s usually less than a 10-minute wait. They serve traditional desserts with a twist and my favourites are the cold tofu soup with ginger sauce and mango, and the big bowl stacked with fruit and grass jelly in coconut sauce. Always awesome. Honourable mention must got to Milk Top (Shop 7A1, B2/F, Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2831 4809). They rotate the flavours, but I really like the fresh ginger ice cream and the durian ice cream.
Outside of the beer bars – there are too many to name – my favourite place to drink in the city is Sake Bar Ginn (Flat C, 4/F Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2536 4355). It’s a little oasis of calm amid the LKF craziness. The staff are super friendly and Ayuchi, the owner/sake sommelier, knows everything there is to know about sake. She is always happy to help with recommendations and provide a tasting. They’ve got a huge sake selection, although I usually stick with the Dassai 50. They also do events, with seasonal sake tastings and nights where you can meet sake brewers visiting from Japan.