The Best Food in Hong Kong
Our dinner at VEA was one of the most exquisite dining experiences of my life. It absolutely blows my mind that this restaurant only has one star. It's just as good--if not better--than all of the three star Michelin restaurants I have eaten at. Perhaps it's because they are new and still establishing some street cred, but either way, be sure to take advantage of the lower menu price and easily attainable reservation while you can, because it's sure to change once this place gets three stars--which I am sure it will.
We had a 10 course meal that was more like 20. The tasting menu started with three different small bite "snacks", then transitioned into a Shima Aji course, short neck clam course, and a plate of roasted sea cucumber. Then came their Taiyouran Egg--a sous vide egg yolk covered in truffle, parmesan and caviar (gasp!)--which was one of my clear favorites. Then we had a course of yellow chicken, varying langoustine plates, an Australian Wagyu beef course, and then three dessert courses, which again felt more like five or six than just three. One included a more savory dessert plate of sweet corn, black sugar and coconut, served up on a piece of wood in the shape of rustic corn on the cob.
What's also great about this place is in addition to your traditional wine pairing, they offer a cocktail pairing as well. I have to say, I definitely like this new cocktail pairing fad! (And I hope it's not just a fad and is here to stay...). The cocktail pairing included seven incredibly delicate, interesting cocktails that paired perfectly with each dish. The cocktails started with 'Shiso", a drink with yuzu and sake, which are refreshing and light. One particular cocktail was served up in a champagne flute and had flower petals delicately placed so that they were cascading down the side of the glass. The presentation was incredible.
One thing I was worried about with a cocktail course was that I would be shit-faced by the time I was halfway through dinner, but it ended up not being an issue. The cocktails are on the weaker side, which I think is nice for a pairing that is meant to help you enjoy the experience and not just to get drunk.
I also can't say enough about the service. Not only were the waiters incredibly knowledgeable, but also so very attentive. If you dropped your napkin, a new one would appear within seconds. If you weren't able to finish your plate, they asked if anything was wrong and would offer to make something else (though nothing was ever wrong--it was just so much food toward the end). If you wanted an additional glass of one of the wines that you liked, they would pour it free of charge. Apparently they noticed that my dining partner was tired, because one waitress even came by and gave him a pillow--that's the kind of attention I am talking about. Nothing goes unnoticed. It was pretty amusing actually. And the sommelier, of course, really knew his wines and could explain the tasting notes and backstory of each and every wine that was poured.
Caprice - Central, Four Seasons Hotel
Caprice is your typical white linen, French fine-dining establishment. Good food, great service and an incredible wine selection. We opted to have lunch there, enjoying a couple bottles of champagne, some caviar, and their chef's selection of French cheeses. Everything was wonderful, and I would imagine that their tasting menu has got to be quite good. They do have a dress code though--even for lunch--so gentlemen must be prepared to wear a dinner jacket and no guests can wear sandals, shorts or athletic-like clothing.
Chesa - Kowloon, Peninsula Hotel
Chesa is like stepping into a Swiss chalet atop the mountain in St. Moritz. Tucked away inside the Peninsula Hotel, most guests of the hotel have no idea that just a floor above the lobby is a small, intimate restaurant that is so authentic that you actually feel as though you have been transported to the Alps. Its signature dishes include the fondue moitie’-moitie’, a Gryuere and Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese fondue served with bread, handmade sausages, sliced veal “Zurichoise” and a tremendous selection of air dried meats and cheeses.
Amber - Central, Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Amber is another really incredible two-star Michelin restaurant. It's ranked the second best restaurant in Asia
and No. 24 in the world by World's 50 Best Restaurants, beating well-known establishments like the French Laundry,
Saison, Atelier Crenn and Per Se. Though it only has two stars, Amber is one of my top five favorite restaurants. Though I can't think of any one dish or specific thing that sets them apart, the dining experience I had at Amber was truly one of the best. The precision, attention to detail, and impeccable flavor combinations of each dish lead to a perfect tasting menu where there literally wasn't a single dish that I didn't like. This place is a must-visit.
Tim Ho Wan - Central & Kowloon
Tim Ho Wan is famously known for being the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant in the world. You can get a lunch for two with plenty of food for less than $20. It serves up all the traditional dim sum dishes like pork buns, chicken feat, shrimp shu mai, pork dumplings. Their pork buns and shrimp noodle rolls (Har Cheung) are incredible. Do plan to wait in line though—they don’t take reservations and there is almost always a permanent line outside of like 20-50 people. Thankfully, it’s worth the wait. Do note that there are several locations—the one in Central is in the subway station, and there are two on Kowloon side. If you want the original, you'll have to head over to Kowloon to Mong Kok. They went from having one Kong Kong hole in the wall to now having a total of 39 restaurants in 9 different countries.
Cocotte has been a favorite of mine since first coming to Hong Kong a few years ago. We stumbled upon it sort of accidentally--I had heard of it by seeing photos on Instagram, so I recognized the name when we walked by it, but had no plans of going there on a particular day and just happened to walk by it after strolling through Central and doing some boutique shopping. It's a cute, quaint little French restaurant with a small, but enticing menu. We started with some salads and then asked the chef to select a number of cheeses to do a large cheese plate. We paired it with a crisp rosé and it made for a perfect (yet a little gluttonous) lunch. We have gone back each time we have visited Hong Kong and plan to keep going in the future.