Favourite restaurants of the man behind Taste of Hong Kong festival, Simon Wilson
Wilson, head of festival organiser IMG Culinary Asia, tells us his favourite places in Hong Kong to have fun, celebrate special occasions, take out-of-town guests, and tuck into a smoked trout breakfast
Anyone who knows me well can vouch for the fact that I eat my way through any city I visit, not just the one I call home. I often get asked what is my favourite restaurant in Hong Kong and it’s difficult because I don’t have one favourite, I have favourite restaurants for specific occasions.
When I want to cut loose and have a fun night I go to Yardbird (33 Bridges Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2547 9273). The food is awesome. I love that you can go big and eat everything or pick some smaller skewers while enjoying the very well curated beverage offering, not just sake – beverage manager Elliot Faber picks some great wines and the draught beer is always on point. When I go in, I try and order straight away or at least put some things on hold. The chicken oyster, inner thigh, and katso sando always sell out, so I make sure I get some set aside. I feel at home at Yardbird, it’s always a fun atmosphere and I think it’s one of the best service experiences in Hong Kong.
For special occasions I eat at Arcane (18 On Lan Street, Central, tel: 2728 0178) – it’s where I took my parents when they came to visit. The food is exceptional and it feels intimate, but not stuffy or pretentious. The tunes are always pretty good too! I always order the posset for dessert if it’s on, and the fruit tomato salad is excellent. I usually go with the beef dish or the gnocchi for my main, but they’re pretty heavy options.
When I have friends in town I nearly always take them to Ho Lee Fook (1 Elgin Street, Central, tel: 2810 0860). It’s fun and just Chinese enough to tick the box on any short visit to Hong Kong. I recommend dining with a larger group so you get to try more dishes. You must order the short ribs.
For coffee in Hong Kong I like Fuel Espresso (Shop B47A, B/F, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, tel: 2869 9019) or Elephant Grounds (8 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2778 2700), but at the moment I’m trying to perfect my home brewing skills. I get coffee beans delivered every month from Coffee and Tales – they profile a different local roaster every month and it’s a great way to try different blends.
When I visit a new city I have a checklist; I want to find the best burger, the best coffee, the best sandwich and of course the best restaurants. When I first visited Hong Kong before moving here the search was no different, and I think it’s partly why I chose to live in Kennedy Town – it ticked a lot of these boxes.
Catch (95 Catchick Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2855 1289) is great for breakfast and the service is solid. The smoked trout dish is my pick. Alex Malouf is a real neighbourhood restaurateur (he lives across the road). Chino (1B New Praya Kennedy Town, tel: 2606 0588) is my go-to K-Town local for dinner. Like Yardbird, these guys know what they’re up to in the booze department, the food is always fun and who doesn’t love fish tacos or shiso tomato salsa and chips?
I have three regular bars in Hong Kong that I rotate – La Cabane ( 62 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2776 6070) for fun wines, Quinary (56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2851 3223) for a drink before dinner, and The Envoy (3/F, The Pottinger Hotel, 74 Queen’s Road Central, tel: 2169 3311) for a late night whisky and cigar. I like that it’s quiet and outdoors – the terrace is one of my favourite hidden spots in Hong Kong.