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: Maccheroni alla Norma (HK$158)
I don’t just like pasta — I love pasta. It’s my Death Row meal. There’s a specific occasion for every kind of pasta, all with their own merits (And if you’re at Hollywood Road’s brand-new Sicilian, they’re made live! Dinner with a show.) But a rigatoni, with its scored, cylindrical cavity that holds sauce like none other pasta shape, is a firm, everyday favourite.
I also love olives. I’ll pick it off anyone’s pizza; dip fingers into anyone’s martini just to fish out the orphans. Which means I was meant to love Sicilian’s Maccheroni alla Norma — a saucy, tomato-y rigatoni lying in a bed of eggplant, ricotta cheese and, drumroll please, olives. Lots of olives.
And if you don’t like olives, just pick it off and pitch it towards me. Or, get the Spinosini al Granchio (HK$148) if you want some briny crab meat sluiced alongside thin strands of angel hair. Or, the Ravioli “Mama-To” (HK$188), a delicious beetroot ravioli serve: also perfect. — Joey Wong, Editor
Sicilian, G/F, Shama Place, 30 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2682 3178
The dish: Margherita (HK$188)
I supposed I’m lucky to have a gig that allows me to take my team out for “research”, which is another way of saying, “Hey, let’s go eat pizza and hamburgers and fried chicken on a Monday afternoon so we can encourage people to vote for the final week of the MMMs Awards.” And that’s how we ended up at Motorino, a place filled with sights, flavours and aromas that remind me of my old Brooklyn home. Chef Rocco Longo even took us into the back to watch how the pizzas are made. Fun fact: Amid the roaring flames of a Stefano Ferrara brick oven, each pie only takes about 60 seconds to bake; amid a group of hungry Lifestyle Asia editors, it disappears even quicker than that. — Nathan Erickson, Editor-in-Chief
Motorino Soho, 14 Shelley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2801 6881
The dish: Smoked Premium Pork Belly with Pine Nut (HK$450)
This multi-layered, collagen-laden gloriousness is award-winning for a reason. The fatty pork belly is boiled for two and a half hours with a blend of herbs, frozen, and then cooled to set. After being delicately cut into equal portions and steamed in the master stock, the meat is then smoked with rice, cane sugar, chrysanthemum flowers and tea leaves, imparting a complex, smokey flavour that is second to none. Take a bite and, gosh, the unctuous fat layers immediately melt, leaving an equally tender layer of meat that’s consumed just as quickly. Could this be love? With the brand new decors, we’re definitely In The Mood for it (get it?). Due to its labour-intensive nature, remember to pre-order this dish upon your booking. — Sandra Kwong, Features Editor
Yung Kee, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, +852 2522 1624
The dish: Udon (HK$95)
Udon is my all-time love. Forever and always. I will never pass it up and, if you put a steaming hot bowl in front of me, I will finish it. No questions asked.
Not even when I’m crammed to the point where I get the hiccups twice and had to stand and take a couple steps around the table. Because that’s how much I love udon. And this version from Roji’s latest seasonal menu is so irresistible, it’ll probably sit up there at the top of with my beloved homemade edition made with swirls of chilli oil and satay. It might actually be even better. Thick chewy udon noodles — and it’s the good kind; fellow udon enthusiasts will know the kind — are coated in a tangy ginger-garlic dressing that’s mixed in with crunchy garlic chips, oba leaf and fresh shiso for a light, textural forkful. The very best part, though — and I scooped up every last drop with the restaurant’s also very delicious lotus chips — is the creamy mentaiko pollack roe that clung onto every surface of each udon strand. And that’s it! No extravagant toppings that tower over the bowl and spill out over the top. No adding of ingredients that take away from the easy, comforting construction of a bowl of udon. It’s simple. As it should be. — Lorria Sahmet, Editor
Roji, G/F 20A D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9884 0704
The dish: Risotto al funghi (HK$188)
Before you ask, yes, we did in fact also try La Favorita’s famous cheese wheel tubetti pasta — equally excellent — but I’m here to preach about my love of mushroom risotto. I’ve spent many a night slaving away, swirling large circles in pots in my attempts to recreate a particular dish I had back in Baden Baden when Pfifferlinge (chanterelles) were in season. I still remember the petrichor lingering in the air, and us, shuffling quickly into a quaint cottage-restaurant for something to warm our bodies. This is the only risotto in Hong Kong I’ve tried that comes close to that experience. Topped with morels and porcini instead, which gave the dish an earthier and nuttier kick, the risotto was submerged in shallot butter and Parmigiano, presented in the most delightfully cheery plate — a 360° delight for the senses. — SK
The Sixteenth, 2/F Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, +852 2788 1993