Food at 001, Hong Kong, China

001

With a secret entrance (a black door between two stalls in Graham Street Market), 001 is an underground hotspot for creative cocktails. Black walls and velvet seating help create the sophisticated and exclusive vibe. Reservations are necessary to guarantee a seat in this hidden watering hole. Don't miss the whiskey offerings.

Food at 22 Ships, Hong Kong, China

22 Ships

The modern Spanish tapas at this raw, industrial, no reservations eatery boast creative, addictive flavors. Come early or prepare to wait, and wait.

8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana

This second outpost of Umberto Bombana’s hot spot Hong Kong restaurant—the first outside of Europe to be awarded three Michelin stars—is Shanghai’s top Italian restaurant for a foodie experience. Located within the Rockbund development, Otto e Mezzo features a striking contemporary décor—don’t miss the cured meats and cheeses on display in a massive aging room—and upscale Northern Italian cuisine that still appeals to a wide audience. Chef Bombana, hailed as the ‘king of white truffles,’ has designed a menu that highlights the freshest produce and tried-and-true classics like homemade burrata ravioli and breaded veal Milanese. Those looking to celebrate a special occasion should opt for the five-course tasting menu and request a seat on the terrace, which affords stunning views of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Huangpu river.

Lounge at Amber, Hong Kong, China

Amber

Holland-born chef Richard Ekkebus trained in France under celebrated talents Guy Savoy, Alan Passard and Pierre Gagnaire before creating this modern, French-influenced menu. Dishes here are crafted from ingredients flown in daily, from the Tokyo fish market to those in Tasmania and Brittany. Standouts on the ever-changing, seasonal menu include duck foie gras ravioli, sea urchin in lobster jelly and line-caught amadai with orange and fennel confit. The pastry chef more than holds up his end of the evening, balancing French classics with the fruits of his local market excursion. Complementing the exceptional cuisine is the dining room, designed by Adam Tihany, under a chandelier of 4,320 suspended bronze rods used to cast a warm metallic glow over the double-height interior.

Editors' Picks
Food at Ammo, Hong Kong, China

Ammo

The Asia Society Hong Kong Center occupies a former British Army explosives warehouse, and the dining room of its in-house restaurant has bullet-inspired brass interiors. Here, green velvety banquettes are placed alongside floor-to-ceiling windows. Standouts include the meaty oxtail balls rolled with crunchy peanuts and cacao powder, sweet and savory quail salad with grapes and pancetta to start, and mains like the homemade burrata ravioli and fettuccine heaped with Ibérico pork ragoût. Don’t skip such cocktails as the freshly squeezed kiwi-basil martini.

Apothecary

One of the hippest bars in the trendy Sanlitun neighborhood, Apothecary draws a sophisticated party crowd with its unusual cocktails and lively scene. The menu pays homage to New Orleans with Creole dishes.

Bar at Aqua Bar, Hong Kong, China

Aqua Bar

This popular cocktail spot with a view is run by the same company that also has Hutong (in the same building). Come here for the bar, which allows you to enjoy the views in a Buddha-filled lounge, but go elsewhere for dinner.

Azul Tapas Lounge

Located in a buzzy complex named Ferguson Lane within the former French Concession, Azul delivers delicious tapas in a vibrant and fun setting. The owner draws his inspiration from both Spain and Latin America. Dishes to try are a refreshing Ecuadorian ceviche and the famous flan. The prices are reasonable and the portions large for tapas (check with the waiters to make sure you do not over-order). On the weekends the restaurant often turns into an impromptu salsa club, with diners dancing the night away. A bar section also means you can order drinks and nibbles without having to have a full meal. For a quiet time, on warm summer nights, ask to sit outside on the spacious roof terrace. It offers stunning views over the city’s skyline.

Baihe Courtyard

As the name suggests Baihe Courtyard sits in a picturesque renovated courtyard in a quiet hutong or alleyway. It is tucked away behind the buzzing Ghost Street (Gui Jie in Chinese), so called because of the rows of red lanterns that hang outside the hot pot restaurants there. But if Ghost Street is noisy and chaotic, Baihe Courtyard is an opposite experience: the restaurant breathes serenity. The food, all reasonably priced, is vegetarian and the space also includes a library of classical Chinese texts that adds to its charms. Must tries include an impressive selection of Buddhist fake meats, some of which taste surprisingly like the real thing.

Bar. No. 3

After a classic Shanghainese dinner at Jishi, walk up the street to this cozy cocktail bar with low lighting and an industrial-meets-glamourous design.
Interior View - Bell Café and Bar, Shanghai, China

Bell Café and Bar

For an insider spot, seek out Bell, hidden in the maze that is Taikang Lu. It looks unassuming from the outside, but the owner has taken over the entire building and turned it into a Seussian maze of sitting, living and lounge rooms. Best of all is the serene living room on the top floor, with white couches and comfy armchairs. There’s also a small terrace for warm summer evenings. Tucked away at Bell, it’s hard to believe you’re in one of the world’s fastest-growing cities.

Food at Black Sesame Kitchen, Beijing, China

Black Sesame Kitchen

This cooking school was started by Jen Lin-Liu, a chef and the author of Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through China. She was so inspired by her own culinary adventures that she began teaching friends and friends of friends in 2005 and has expanded to open a proper school and restaurant in a courtyard building in Beijing. She holds regular classes and takes reservations for meals in the private kitchen.

Food at Bo Innovation, Hong Kong, China

Bo Innovation

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.”

Buddha's Bite

This newly opened restaurant in the south end of the 798 Art District is a perfect spot to try China’s Buddhist vegetarian cuisine following a hard day gazing at galleries. Dishes hail from all over China and the restaurant specializes in “health food” (or yangshengcai in Chinese) and fake meat. None of its ingredients are derived from animals and it is also MSG free. Typical fares on the reasonably priced menu include a dry hot pot of fake meat, “beef” strips with peppers, and Sichuan-style white fish (fake, of course). The classy surroundings are designed in the classical Chinese style and the staff is always eager to help. Best to stick with the health theme and sip the flavorsome flower teas on offer rather than delve into the limited wine list.

Bar at CabRA, Shanghai, China

CabRA

Inventive, affordable cuisine is a rarity in Shanghai, where options are usually either casual and inexpensive, or geared towards foodies and come with a hefty price tag. But Cabra, which opened in late 2015, provides a happy medium with Spanish tapas and a cool, atmospheric space that attracts a youthful, social crowd. Featuring high ceilings and tiled walls with brass showerheads and classic paintings adding an abstract element, the hip tapas spot is ideal for a light meal with quality drinks.

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Café Gray Deluxe

The sister restaurant to The Upper House’s celebrated establishment in Hong Kong, Café Gray Deluxe at The Middle House is poised to attract the same audience of foodies and scenesters who enjoy seared foie gras as much as they do gorgeous interiors.
Food at Celestial Court, Beijing, China

Celestial Court

Cantonese food is popular in the capital city, with chefs imported from the southern Guangdong province to ensure the ingredients and styles are spot-on. If you have a business dinner with a local Chinese contact, they will appreciate being treated to an evening feast at Celestial Court or lunchtime dim sum. Seafood tends to be on the expensive side in Beijing, so ordering up fish or lobster will be doubly welcome. By the way, don’t be too surprised if, when dining with locals, they ask for a doggie bag for any leftover food. Old habits of waste-not-want-not die hard for people who grew up with Cultural Revolution food shortages.

China Club

David Tang, the visionary founder of fashion brand Shanghai Tang, is a master at creating visions of old-world China. The scenarios he imagines may have never existed entirely as they are displayed here, but nevertheless is a wonderful world to get lost in. The club is housed in an old bank building 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 times. The food varies, 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. Alternatively, try to snag a private booth. Officially it is a members-only club, but any capable concierge can arrange reservations.

Editors' Picks
Food at China Tang, Hong Kong, China

China Tang

Located in the Landmark Atrium, in the same complex as Landmark Mandarin Oriental, China Tang comes from Sir David Tang of Shanghai Tang and China Club fame. The restaurant, which also has a location in London’s Dorchester Hotel, focuses on traditional fare from Beijing, Sichuan and Canton and is decorated with a cozy mix of English and Eastern décor (think Chinese paintings, hand-embroidered wall paper and antique lighting). There are multiple private rooms for large groups as well as a beautiful bar area.

Editors' Picks
Bar at Chinoise Story, Shanghai, China

Chinoise Story

Travelers looking for classic Shanghai cuisine but for something a little more upscale and refined than Jishi should head to this bright, contemporary enclave in the Jin Jiang Hotel. Diners are seated in a soaring dining room, with white-leather banquette nooks and modern light fixtures, and the professional staff serves modern renditions of the classics, as well as some fusion cuisine. Photographs decorating the entrance show visiting international dignitaries as, but despite longtime renown, the restaurant maintains a quiet, private feel. A good spot for a lunch break when shopping in the French Concession.

Food at Chom Chom, Hong Kong, China

Chom Chom

Walk a few steps up from busy Peel Street in nightlife quarter Lan Kwai Fong and you'll come to the cool, sparse space of Chom Chom. This bustling, one-room restaurant serves exceptionally fresh and inventive Vietnamese small plates to a soundtrack of mellow reggae and hip hop. An oversized mural dominates one wall but the otherwise pared-down design keeps the focus on bright and colorful dishes like pho reimagined as fresh rolls, caramel black cod, excellent salads and the renowned VFC — Vietnamese fried chicken wings slathered in coriander and mint. Chom Chom does not take reservations, but the small front patio is an excellent place for a cocktail and to watch the crowds stroll by while you wait for a table.

Chuan Ban

Locals and expat swear that this is the best place for Sichuan food and worth dealing with the crowds and noise for a super spicy meal.

Chun

One of the toughest table to book in Shanghai is one of the four at this tiny restaurant. It specializes in home-style regional cuisine, and the dishes change every day, depending on what's in season. Don't expect anyone to speak English here, so come with a guide or be brave and try maneuvering a meal with your iPhone translation app.

Classified Mozzarella Bar

In a great location for those exploring the antiques shops of Hollywood Road, this Italian eatery is like the Obika of Hong Kong, with delicious mozzarella dishes, homemade breads and filling pastas. All is served in a bright space, lined with shelves holding wine that would not feel out of place in London or New York.

Country Kitchen

This restaurant at the Rosewood Beijing is a culinary highlight of many travelers’ China itineraries. Guests can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen, preparing a range of Northern Chinese delicacies, including hand-pulled Chinese noodles, an array of dumplings and the popular Peking duck.

Editors' Picks

Crescent Moon

To the far northwest of China lies the province of Xinjiang, which is home to the country’s Turkic speaking Uighur Muslim minority. Crescent Moon, located in a quiet hutong in the old town, is one of the most authentic Xinjiang cuisine restaurants in Beijing. Here, the hearty food and cheap prices more than make up for the basic décor and service. Huge portions include home made yogurt, juicy lamb kebabs (known as chuan’r), baked flatbread, and hand-pulled noodles. Unlike many Xinjiang restaurants in the city Crescent Moon is not a rough and ready hole in the wall; nor is it gaudy. There are no fake garish touches catering to tourists here, such as performances. Instead, most of the staff are Uighur, and the clientele is largely local.

Food at CulinArt Private Kitchen, Hong Kong, China

CulinArt Private Kitchen

CulinArt is arguably one of the finest examples of the dining-in-private-kitchens trend that is sweeping Hong Kong. Although the location is rather far from central Hong Kong, the dramatic, candlelit space and the exquisitely prepared fusion food make it worth the trip to Aberdeen (about a 15-minute drive from Central). Under the guidance of German-Chinese chef Stanley Wong, chefs at CulinArt prepare eight- to ten-course tasting menus for up to 32 people in an intimate setting.

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