Destination: China: Hong Kong
One of the most creative restaurants in the city, Bo Innovation may have lost one of its two Michelin stars in 2010 but it remains a must-reserve place for a special dinner. Complete with tattoos and trendy haircut, chef Alvin Leung Jr., playfully reinvents, abstracts and highlights Chinese cuisine, creating elaborate tasting menus that are often described as Ferran Adria-inspired. The restaurant was featured on the Hong Kong episode of No Reservations during which Anthony Bourdain complemented chef Leung on making a mark in a “city where great food is a birthright and almost taken for granted.”
Café Gray Deluxe
Hong Kong’s exciting boutique hotel , the Upper House in Central’s Pacific Place complex, scored a major culinary coup when it lured star chef Gray Kunz (formerly of New York City culinary fame), back to his former stomping ground of Hong Kong. Renowned for wild and brilliant cuisine that merges East and West, Kunz was born in Singapore, raised in Switzerland and made a name for himself in Hong Kong in the 1980s and later, in New York, where he ran the award-winning Lespinasse before opening his own eponymous restaurant in the Time Warner Center, winning a Michelin star in its first year.
Now, the chef is back in Hong Kong and the Upper House’s talented designer, Andre Fu, could not have supplied him with a more stunning backdrop. Located on the 49th floor of the hotel, Café Gray Deluxe has a central dining room and two wings that hold an open kitchen on one side and a long bar and lounge area on the other. The brilliant private dining nooks along the open bar side are fast becoming some of the most coveted to book in Hong Kong: thanks to the proximity to the kitchen bustle, you feel like you are part of the scene, but separated by curtained partitions, the tables are quiet and the views outside unbeatable. Kunz, who is based in New York, plans on overseeing the kitchen and creating seasonal menus several times a year. Signature dishes include braised beef short ribs with soft polenta, steamed sea bass with watercress and ginger bouillon, and coq au vin with spaetzli.
Reservations are a must, as is planning ahead: currently Café Gray Deluxe is sold out a week in advance.
Hong Kong locals, especially ex-pats working in finance, bring clients they need to impress to the Four Season’s Caprice. The richly decorated dining room, overseen by a huge open kitchen, has floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning harbor views. The creative, beautifully prepared French cuisine has garnered three Michelin stars. The wine list is extensive.
This is a favorite of Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, who captured its appeal in a nutshell. “However familiar it is to Hong Kong residents, visitors are thrilled by its collection of Chinese art, its nostalgia, its glimpse of another age,” he says. “With Shanghai Tang and the China Club, David Tang has done a remarkable job in offering the West a vision of China that perhaps doesn’t exist and never has existed but that we all wish did exist.” The club is housed in an old bank building, right in the middle of Central, and has an awesome collection of Chinese memorabilia, including paintings, furniture, bric-a-brac and posters from Chairman Mao’s disastrous Cultural Revolution. The food is excellent, but it is for the overall experience that most people go; arrive early and sip a cocktail at the long bar, decked out as a Shanghai club might have looked in the roaring ’20s. Try to snag a private booth. Officially it is a members-only club, but any capable concierge can arrange reservations.
Über designer Philippe Starck’s most striking creation in Hong Kong is still wowing people some thirteen years after it opened. Felix restaurant and bar, near the top of the Peninsula hotel, looks fresh and continues to be one of the places to head for early-evening cocktails, or when the urge for a Pacific Rim–inspired meal strikes. Felix is known as much for what Starck didn’t do as for what he did. Controversially, unthinkably even, he opted to draw blinds over windows that had an absolutely stunning harbor view; instead of a full-on vista, there was merely a hint of the ocean and neon beyond. It worked. Big time. Sadly, the view from the men’s restrooms is not quite what it was: although the twinkling panorama of Kowloon looms large, since the airport moved to Chek Lap Kok, there is no aerial activity to observe.
A fabulous deck-high view of the world’s busiest harbor; interesting cuisine from the ever-inventive Alain Ducasse; slick five-star Hong Kong service. What’s not to like? The menu is typical Ducasse: a modern twist on familiar dishes, in this case with plenty of Asian influence. Specialties from chefs in the open kitchen are duck foie gras with a pear-ginger chutney; roasted black cod; Australian Wagyu beef; and saddle of lamb on the spit with garam masala gravy and crispy rice.
Spoon by Alain Ducasse
Alain Ducasse innovative French food rarely has to compete for attention but the location of this restaurant, in the Intercontiental Hotel, is nothing short of stunning. Diners sit almost at water-level with expansive views of the Hong Kong skyline (the hotel and restaurant are in Kowloon), and the dining room is decked out with a massive chandelier made of more than 500 Murano glass—what else?—spoons.
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