Hong Kong’s hippest restaurants are 21st century temples of gastronomic pleasure.
Chopsticks are flying as we chomp through our “white truffle and hairy crab feast”. The gleaming bar that is the chef’s table at the unconventional BO Innovation restaurant offers us a view of the team of chefs working on our next course.
“How many times have I told you to do it THIS WAY,” bellows head Chef Alvin Leung, who is a bizarre sight sporting dark sunglasses and a wild green-and-blond streaked rock musician hairdo.
We look away, embarrassed for the junior chef who is the target of Alvin’s outburst, while at the same time wondering if it’s all just part of the show.
I’m half expecting the rock musician to pull out a guitar but instead, Alvin, whose trademark uniform has earned him the obvious nickname “rock ‘n roll chef”, snatches a bowl of sauce from his sheepish assistant and artfully flicks brown droplets of the mixture onto a set of white oblong dinner plates.
The kitchen is built for no-holds-barred experimentation with Chinese cooking and the cuisine produced falls in the mould of molecular gastronomy made famous by Spanish chef Ferran Adrià of El Bulli.
We savour bite-sized morsels of food that explode with strange combinations of tastes and textures in our mouths.
Sweet organic garlic ravioli is combined with salty duck egg foam and curry oil; oysters with tofu and salmon caviar, Chinese sausage rice made into an innocent-looking ice cream.
As Hong Kong is the third most densely populated city in the world, it’s no surprise there are thousands of restaurants within close proximity of each other.
The fierce competition to capture the imagination of restaurant-goers has encouraged restaurateurs to become increasingly creative with innovations in both cuisine and décor.
There are classy restaurants around every corner and the city is awash with celebrity chefs.
For a spicy Szechuan feast, head for Da Ping Huo’s minimalist interior. The opera-singing chef finishes off each evening with a resounding Chinese melody.
Sip on lychee wine and pick on crispy soft-shell crab at Hutong, a glamorous eatery on the 28th floor of an office tower and incongruously named after the fast disappearing courtyard houses in Beijing’s narrow laneways.
The vibe is antique chic with dazzling city views and elegant carved Chinese antiques. Guzzle Verve Clicquot at the rustic Shui Hu Ju while tucking into fresh crab sprinkled with Chinese rose wine and chilli sauce.
Afterwards, stroll down to Victoria Harbour and sink into comfortable cushions with a Moonlight Paradise cocktail while sailing on the Aqua Luna, one of Hong Kong’s last handcrafted Chinese junks.
Green T. House
Dishes with poetic names are on the New China T. Cuisine menu at Green T. House. Imagine eating “in the mood for fantasy black sesame veal”, “the story is about soft shell crab and young green papaya” or “lobster in blues”.
The décor is uncluttered and stark, blending traditional Chinese elements with contemporary designs.
Fancy some fresh abalone and crab chawan mushi with shark’s fin? Japanese cuisine chain NOBU, the brainchild of Nobu Matsuhisa, has been innovating in three continents for the last two decades.
NOBU’s Hong Kong branch (opened in December 2006) has harbour views to die for. Fresh fish is flown in from Japan five times a week.
Steak House Winebar & Grill
Even good old fashioned steak houses come with global twists. At the Steak House Winebar & Grill, there’s a choice of oysters (Irish Rock from Ireland, South Bend and Kumamoto from USA, Smoky Bay or Tasmanian and Fine de Claire from France) and steak from around the world.
Diners choose from a selection of the world’s best gourmet steak knives – from French Laguiole to Japanese Kershaw Shun – all presented on a black leather tray.
Waiters bring around trays with 12 homemade mustards and exotic rock salts from Peru, Himalayas, Hawaii, Mediterranean Sea, South Africa, France and even South Australia’s own Murray River pink. But steaks aren’t cheap; a 1.3kg Australian Angus rib steak costs a whopping $180.
One Thirty One
Dining in a French provincial auberge is an unexpected pleasure in a city full of skyscrapers. It’s no surprise that One Thirty One’s four tables are often booked out.
The building is hidden by the water at Three Fathoms Cove, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The menu marries home-grown organic vegetables with ingredients flown in from overseas to construct a European flavour.
Discover Hong Kong
InterContinental Hong Kong’s concierge “in the know” program helps guests hunt for the city’s top restaurants, phone: +852 2721 1211.