Hong Kong dining: food industry veteran’s favourite restaurants, from Cuisine Cuisine to Mak’s Noodle
Benjamin Lung co-opened the much-loved former Lan Kwai Fong Italian eatery Va Bene almost 30 years ago and is now director of Papi, a casual Italian restaurant in Causeway Bay. He tells us his favourite dining spots in the city
I cook a lot at home now. As I get older, I’m more ingredient-focused and eat simpler food.
Being Cantonese, I love wonton. I used to like Mak’s Noodle on Wellington Street in Central, but now I go to the one in Causeway Bay (37 Leighton Road, tel: 2893 0006). I find the taste better there.
I like hole-in-the-wall places too. In winter, one of my favourites is She Wong Lam (13 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2543 8032). They serve snake and nothing else. I remember my parents driving us there and they would slit the snake open in front of you to serve the gall bladder.
My kids love a tiny Vietnamese place called Viet Chiu (406B Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2333 6551). It’s not exactly comfortable, but it’s very consistent. The soup base is very good and they have the best steamed rice rolls.
Another place near my office is Chiuchownese Noodle Shop (General Building, 6-14 Centre Street, Sai Ying Pun, tel: 2549 6088). I like the beef tripe and pork stomach. I love that offal stuff.
We love claypot rice. A place we discovered recently is Seung Hei (25 North Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 2819 6190). My wife likes this place. It’s all charcoal cooked and MSG-free. I always get the Chinese sausage rice because the oil infuses the rice.
For fancier dining, I love Japanese. Gensui (17/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2804 2004) is a really small place. It’s not formal like kaiseki but the food is driven by seasonal ingredients. I really like the chef, who is a sake expert. A lot of other Japanese chefs apparently go there for late nights.
For sushi, I like Uehara (Sun Ho Court, 29-31 Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2359 4700). Run by a young Japanese chef, Uehara is not the most expensive or extravagant place. Some friends think the chef is aloof and not very talkative, but I find him personable. Maybe it’s just a language thing. At the end of the day, I like his food.
For visitors, I take them to Lei Yue Mun. It has a unique ambience, a result of the area’s tiny little lanes, which I find very interesting. We often go to Lung Yue Restaurant (41 Hoi Pong Road, Lei Yue Mun, tel: 2348 6332) near the end of the strip.
Another place that impresses me is Cuisine Cuisine (3/F, The Mira Hong Kong, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2315 5222). I love what the chef does.
For hairy crab, I like Liu Yuan Pavilion (3/F, The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2804 2000).