Hong Kong's Best Restaurants of 2016... so far
From southern soul food to modern Japanese and pho that rivals Vietnam’s finest, we’re revisiting some of the best meals we’ve had in the first half of the year.
Okra, Modern Japanese
We couldn’t help but rave over the original dishes coming out of Okra’s modern Japanese kitchen, securing it one of our coveted five-star reviews. Head chef Max Levy brings something new to the city, with subtle and sophisticated flavors that instantly woke our palates. The battered and fried dry-aged tuna edged out sashimi on our list of best ways to consume the ubiquitous fish, while the carabinero prawn soup showed a restrained yet elevated hand in the kitchen. We also applaud their dedication to making their own fresh tofu daily, and the curated selection of affordable sakes on offer. They’ve recently launched Okra Bar upstairs, which offers a more intimate tasting menu experience at a six-seat counter. G/F, 110 Queen’s Rd. West, 2806-1038, okra.kitchen
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The Parish, Southern
Fans who followed chef Jack Carson from Restoration to Cajun and Creole joint The Parish are singing the praises of this new southern food kitchen, with a warm, tavern-like setting providing just the backdrop to binge on platters of southern fried chicken, Andouille sausage gumbo, jambalaya and pecan pie. The bold, spicy and smoky flavors of the south run rampant across the mouthwatering menu, and service is faultless—reinforcing all that’s good in southern hospitality. Don’t miss the creamy cast iron skillet mac ‘n’ cheese with smoky tasso ham and the gut-busting southern fried chicken brimming with spices. Dessert is a no-brainer: choose from key lime pie, pecan pie, Mississippi mud pie or Grand Marnier crème brûlée. 44-46 Staunton St., Central, 2803-0050.
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Maison Libanaise, Lebanese
Another opening from Black Sheep Restaurants conceptualized around a specific place and moment in time, Maison Libanaise takes us back to 1960s Beirut, with a three-story building in SoHo bursting with color and vitality. Chef James Harrison shows his affinity with Middle Eastern spices in the flavor-packed menu, delivering tongue-tingling dishes such as pan-fried halloumi with honey glaze and dates, roasted cauliflower with spicy harissa and fried chicken given an exotic bent with sumac and za’atar. The mezze starters and dips, from cumin-spiced baba ganoush to cooling labneh yogurt and earthy chickpea hummus, have us hooked, and they’re perfect for sharing over a few bottles of fragrant Lebanese wine on the open rooftop terrace. 10 Shelley St., Central, 2111-2284, maisonlibanaise.com.hk
There’s no shortage of cheap sushi joints in the city, but most will compromise on the quality of the fish in order to charge less. Maizuru hits the sweet spot with raw seafood rivaling some of the fancier Japanese restaurants in the city for a fraction of the price. The lunch set is a steal and has become one of our favorite places to get our nigiri fix, with 12 pieces of the diner’s choice going for $286. You won’t be getting the highest quality of expensive ingredients like uni here, but for standard cuts such as tuna, salmon, scallop and roe, there are few places that serve fresher fish. The countertop seating with your private sushi chef whipping up your lunch set completes the feel of a fine omakase counter for a nominal fee. 26/F, Jardine Center, 50 Jardine’s Bazaar, Causeway Bay, 3586-3038.
Cochin Delicatessen, French
This newcomer to the dining scene is owned and operated by chef Renaud Marin, whose joy for classic French cooking is palpable from the first bite. The deli touts a selection of high-quality French cold cuts and cheeses, from pâtés to rillettes and sausages, and precious tinned goods filled with anchovies and caviar. Dig into this side of the menu with the irresistible warm chunks of baguette and a glass of wine, and you’ve got a pretty decent meal. But don’t ignore the rest of the menu, which offers comforting French bistro food at its finest: The free-range organic chicken is beautifully basted and falling apart in its own jus, while the beef tartare is perhaps the best we’ve tasted in the city, with a combination of fresh and aged beef complemented by creamy avocado and smoked sardines. 26 Peel St., Sheung Wan, 2561-3336.
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Pho Bar: Vietnamese
Pho Bar solved many a beef noodle soup woe when it strode into town at the beginning of the year, drawing in the crowds to its small storefront on Li Yuen Street with the bubbling vats of slow-boiled beefy broth. Be prepared to queue a good half hour for lunch—but it’ll be worth the wait once you’re presented with the steaming bowl simmering with just-cooked tender beef, fresh mint and coriander, springy rice noodles, chopped chilis and a thin layer of oil on top for that rich mouth-feel. The sides also arrive piping hot and delicious, from crispy fried spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce to house chicken wings lathered in spicy chipotle mayo. At $68 a bowl, the prices are unbeatable for a hearty lunch spot in Central. 24 Li Yuen St. West, Central, 2109-2028.