Hong Kong dining recommendations

An American architect’s favourite Hong Kong restaurants – from Greek comfort food to contemporary Balinese

When long-time Hong Kong resident J Lee Rofkind is not busy running her firm Buz Design, she is out exploring the city’s vast culinary delights. Here are her picks of places to dine around town

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2018, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2018, 6:31pm

I grew up in Chicago when the restaurant scene started taking off with unique and creative decor and menus, so I’ve been a food explorer for a long time.

Isola (Shop 2075, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, tel: 2383 8765) was my go to place with visitors when [in their original location] they had a wonderful terrace overlooking the harbour. I still go there for a pizza after a film, but my new favourite Italian is Pirata (29/F-30/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2887 0270).

It’s in a nondescript building but upstairs is eclectic and cosy, with a sparkly view and great Italian home cooking. It’s best to go with people and share dishes like bruschetta, orecchiette with sausage, truffle risotto, and grilled flank steak.

I love the softshell tacos, margaritas and watermelon salad at Brickhouse (20A D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2810 0560). It has a funky Mexican garage party atmosphere. If it’s busy (they don’t take reservations) then I will go to Mrs. Pound (6 Pound Lane, Sheung Wan, tel: 3426 3949). I love its secret entry – which just changed but I’m not giving away any clues – the neon sign and the ever-changing menu. The food is made up of nibbly Southeast Asian delights, and they serve great cocktails, too.

There are two Greek towns in Chicago, so there’s no doubt that Greek cuisine is comfort food for me. I go to Santorini Greek Restaurant (51 Elgin Street, SoHo, tel: 2810 6106) for casual home cooking. Their moussaka is excellent, while their seafood and salads are fresh and prepared perfectly.

The best Japanese noodles are from Zagin Soba (13A King Kwong Street, Happy Valley, tel: 2818 0322), which is open till late. The chicken soup ramen has incredible depth of flavour and perfectly cooked noodles. We’re told late night is the best time to avoid a long line.

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The most amazing Malaysian laksa is from Kevin Lim’s Mean Noodles (Nam Wo Hong Building, 148 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 3104 0288) with its rich flavourful broth and many good-sized prawns. The laksa chicken wings are moreish and the Malaysian crepe cake is light and tasty. Full disclosure: I’ve known Kevin since he was a teenager.

For a special treat, great design and food, Zuma (5/F, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, tel: 3657 6388) has an amazing Sunday Japanese brunch buffet that is constantly kept fresh.

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Another good tourist place is TRi (Shop 302, 3/F, Lobby C, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, tel: 2515 0577). Dishes from the contemporary Balinese restaurant are best shared among friends so you can try different things. The crispy pork belly and satay campur – with a mix of beef rib and chicken – are stand-outs. The uniquely Balinese interior celebrates bamboo, and the lighting is beautiful at night, with a sea view at daytime. End your meal with a walk on the beach.