Best Bites is a roundup of the outstanding dishes we had within the last week: Those which renewed our love for established venues; caught our attention at a new opening; or freshly impressed upon us the creativity and skill of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street snacks to meticulously prepared tasting menus, these are the best dishes to try in Hong Kong, and the plates we’d recommend you make a special trip for.
These were the best dishes we supped on and savoured this week:
The dish: Crispy Wagyu Kiwami M9+ with White Maitake Mushroom (HK$598)
When speaking of “French cuisine”, a dignified setting might come to mind. A hushed atmosphere. Large, porcelain dishes with teeny-tiny portions. But at Bacchus, who also considers themselves as a fine French venue, such visuals do not apply. That’s not to say that the interiors aren’t polished or that chef Mickael Messina’s dishes aren’t refined — they both are, incredibly.
Here’s how. Within the concise menu of French technique meets Asian flavour is this crispy Australian wagyu sirloin, a specially selected Kiwami M9+ chosen for smooth, buttery texture that melts at first bite. It’s delicately plated, fanned out to flaunt its perfectly pink-in-the-middle sear, yet still substantial; inviting. You-can’t-wait-to-dig-in kind of delicious-looking. The crumbly, deep-fried coat doesn’t take from the beefiness, which is elevated by the homemade beef jus mixed with grape must mustard and Dijon mustard for a complex, flavourful bite. It’s similar to the Japanese cutlet sizzled over a hot-plate, except it’s served with an elegant potato rosace — not mash! — infused with black truffle alongside crunchy Japanese maitake mushrooms for an assortment of textures. The wagyu comes with a special wine pairing — as each dish at Bacchus does — and I suggest you go for it (just another HK$180), because what’s fine French dining without the wine? — Lorria Sahmet, Editor
Bacchus, 3/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 3750 5200
PIIN Wine Restaurant
The dish: Crab Cigar (Part of PIIN’s 6-course Tasting Menu, priced at HK$880)
My college pal Brian (Hi, Brian!) bought me my first cigar, lit it and said, very seriously, “Don’t inhale.” To this day, I’m still not quite sure what people are doing when they’re “smoking” cigars. Are the stogies just hanging off the lip? Where does the smoke come from if you can’t inhale? Are they nibbling the mouth-end side, just a little bit? The questions continue. A much, much easier time, PIIN Wine Restaurant’s Crab Cigar takes no instruction to consume. Just bite, chew and enjoy. My kind of cigar.
This “cigar” is, actually, a spring roll stuffed to the brim with Matsuba crab meat that’s simmered in a fennel-infused crab sauce. It almost tastes a little like the orphaned meaty bits that sink to the bottom of crab bisques, that you then fish out as a last triumphant, delicious epilogue. But it doesn’t stop there. The “ash dust” stamped at the end is an inspired concoction of dried seaweed, with a sprinkle of dried black garlic for a surprisingly sweet aftertaste. It’s served exactly as you’d imagine, in a darkened room surrounded by the finest of wine, with a touch of smoke courtesy of the Sauvignon white grape mocktail we had alongside this bite, garnished with a single smoking bay leaf. This is PIIN’s 6-course Tasting Menu’s Instagram course — so break out those iPhones and do your best Tony Montana impression.
The dish: Chicken Bolognese Protein Bowl (HK$63)
In the ongoing effort to not treat my body like a complete trash can this year — at least until like, March — I’ve been making a concerted effort to look for healthier options. Fortunately, that bar is extremely low. The only rule is that they have to fit in during my 6(ish) hour intermittent fasting window. Yes, I’ve become one of those people. I’m sorry. But it works! And that’s made Wan Chai’s Tallore, a Belgian-style soup and sandwich window, my go-to for late lunches and early dinners. They’ve got a handful of healthy(ish) options on the menu — kale wraps, chicken wraps, salads and the like — but their Protein Pots, offering the choice between an (extra spicy) high-protein, low-carb chilli con carne and this very bowl of chicky bo really steal the show. I could have it every day. As of late, I basically have. To health! Ish. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Tallore, Hundred City Centre, Amoy Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2327 8630
Angry Goat Pepper Co.
The dish: Purple Hippo Hot Sauce (HK$100)
Okay, not technically a dish, but a triumph of a condiment. One that never fails to turns on the heat with its rather unusual flavour palate at that. Using cactus (prickly pear) as its main ingredient, a hint of strawberries and plenty of habanero and scorpion peppers, some say this one tastes a bit like watermelon or bubblegum — for me, it leans more on the watermelon side, but with a serious kick. FIYAH Heat Store stocks a ton of cool hot sauces, but this was a particularly unique find. Perfect with pork, try a few drops of the Purple Hippo Hot Sauce on plain vanilla ice cream — it’s sounds like a pregnancy craving (and for a while it was!) but it totally works. — Lexi Davey, Managing Editor