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: The Diplomat Burger (HK$180)
It’s Friday, which means another shitty iPhone photo of a phenomenal Hong Kong dish. Don’t you guys love this column? We were all supposed to be doing the Health Thing™ this January, but the latest wave of COVID-19 Omicron Groundhog Day Endless Loop regulations means dining-in and drinking-out opportunities are limited once more, so Hongkongers made the most of our final night of free love and indulgence after dark. Along my whistle-stop tour of faves (Hi Honkys! Hi Foxglove! Hi Polo Club! Hi Dead&!) I snuck in my second dinner of the night at The Diplomat, home of the best burger in town (The MMMs Awards said so) and also some halfway-decent cocktails from that John Nugent fella. Speaking of which, Nuge is launching a new (lunch service!) burger today, the aptly named “F**k Omicron Bacon Cheeseburger”. Availability is limited, so I strongly recommend you get your hands on one before they’re all sold out. I can already assure you they won’t last long. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Buenos Aires Polo Club
The dish: Steak Tartare
So, here I am, back at Polo Club; back at the bar. Here I am, once again, having been handed a plate of food I don’t remember ordering. But it’s steak tartare! I love steak tartare. This steak tartare, as it so happens, came extremely highly recommended — thanks, Rohan! — with a “might be the best I’ve ever had…” shout-out. And you know what? It might be.
If you’re a regular orderer of steak tartare, you pretty much know what to expect. It comes packed into a disc; sometimes it has an egg yolk floating over top; sometimes gherkins astride; toasted bread to scoop; maybe a drizzle of oil. You know. The works. Polo Club’s steak tartare, though, comes with something better: Crunch. Because it’s not a runny yolk (good, but no crunch) or bits of chives (too small for crunch) that comes dressing up this steak tartare. It’s, rather, very, very crispy slivers of shallots embellishing the lid of the ‘tare with some good, crunchy bite. Genius. If you’re not a fan of the mush that often accompanies tartare territory, PC’s rendition — still sharp with a sort of mustard dressing and deliciously umami — adds texture to goo. So you have something to chew on. Oh, and it comes with two vehicle options: gaucho bread or baby lettuce leaves. Just in case you want to eat this tartare “Protein Style”. — Joey Wong, Editor
The dish: Kanpachi Tartare (HK$180)
When in conversation about Yardbird, what typically comes up as top menu recommendations are the char-grilled yakitori or boozy selection of easy-to-drink highballs (Gurepu tastes just like Ribena!). But what about the Katsu Sando or Sweet Corn Tempura? Duck Fried Rice? So for this time, I’ll leave the beautifully seared, deliciously smokey Oyster and Bicep and Meatball behind for the menu’s unsung heroes.
In particular, the Kanpachi Tartare. This became a favourite from the first time I visited. Then again when I went back the second time. And now, finally on my third, I decided to dedicate a Best Bite to cement my love. The thing about Yardbird’s Kanpachi Tartare is that it doesn’t just stop at well-seasoned amberjack, it’s also mixed with a handful of other ingredients including red onion (to add a mild sharpness) and cucumber (to mellow out the tangy tosazu marinade). And of course, spring onions are always a fantastic finishing touch. For the accompanying vehicle designed to shove everything together in one huge bite, it’s not about sad, limp slices of bread here, either. Rather, these are perfectly crisp chips that have been salted — heavily — with fermented spring onion salt that gives them a tasty sour cream and onion finish you just can’t get enough of. I couldn’t. — Lorria Sahmet, Editor
The dish: Truffle Cheese Croquettes (HK$60) & Mini Beef Cheeseburger (HK$118)
After much nagging from a friend to please go and try Comptoir’s Mini Burgers, I finally checked it out. A small and cosy-yet-bustling bar in Kennedy Town, Comptoir has been my go-to spot for a glass of wine or a sweet cocktail. During the weekdays, it’s often quite spacious, with just the usual few grabbing a beer and having a chat with the extra-friendly staff. First glance, the burgers looked disappointing… or was it just the hyping up by my friend, that I imagined a huge juicy burger? With not much expectation, I took a bite, and I was humbled fast. No idea what beef they used, but it was so juicy and rich. Although the price was slightly high for two mini burgers, I would say it’s worth a try. Still feeling hungry, we went and ordered the Truffle Cheese Croquettes. I love truffle, I love cheese. What I didn’t expect was the mac n’ cheese inside, which was a pleasant surprise, and I loved every bite of the croquettes. Although I went for the mini burgers, the Truffle Cheese Croquettes stole my heart — I ended up getting another plate, oops. — Subin Hong, Editorial Intern