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.
The modern Spanish tapas at this raw, industrial, no reservations eatery boast creative, addictive flavors. Come early or prepare to wait, and wait.
Aberdeen Street Social
This restaurant, bar and café located in the PMQ art and design complex offers great pick-me-ups, food and drinks when shopping in PMQ's boutiques or wandering nearby Hollywood Avenue. The cuisine is local and seasonal with a strong British bent and the farm-fresh cocktails follow suit. Upstairs is a contemporary restaurant with a balcony overlooking the gardens, while the ground level has a long, polished bar, casual café seating with all-day dining and a terrace that spills out to the gardens. Paned glass walls keep the space bright during the day, but dim lights and flickering candles lend the place a convivial, clubby atmosphere at night.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
This sleek, upscale taqueria fuses Mexican and Japanese flavors under the eye of the Nobu-trained chef. While the plates tend to be small, the flavors are exciting and robust and the dishes artfully prepared.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Fern’s Gin Parlour
Opened by a trio of the city’s hospitality moguls, this two-story complex in the new Shanghai Tang mansion resembles a private collector’s urban retreat. The space boasts numerous private dining rooms, saved by a Michelin-starred chef in the kitchen who turns out superb Cantonese cuisine. In addition to rotating exhibits held in the sleek Ilse Crawford-designed space, the club hosts screenings, lectures and salons for its members.
Overlooking Victoria Harbor, Executive Bar is a popular spot for and innovative cocktails. There are over 300 types of whiskey available here, and many drinks are served with “ball ice” (huge round ice balls that melt slower than regular ice cubes), allowing guests to linger over their drinks.
Fook Lam Moon
Much like LA’s The Ivy, Fook Lam Moon is Hong Kong’s original celebrity hot spot where you are almost guaranteed to see a big name. Even during lunch hours (which we suggest for a visit as opposed to dinner, which can feel rushed), black cars and paparazzi are waiting on the street in front of the Wan Chai institution. Those who are not regulars may feel a bit out of place but eating at Food Lam Moon is practically a Hong Kong right of passage. Don’t expect stellar service, but waiters do get guests in and out with efficiency. The menu is extensive and focus is placed on regional classics, seafood and classic Cantonese. The baked stuffed crab shell is a highlight.
Considered by many to be the best Italian restaurant in Hong Kong, Gaia serves up fantastic pastas. In good weather, reserve one of the tables out on the terrace.
Best known for its claypot rice, Hing Kee is a Kowloon institution. In service for decades, this old-school joint attracts visitors and locals alike. Here, a steaming pot of perfectly cooked rice is served with a variety of toppings.
Hoover Cake Shop
This tiny local favorite in Kowloon is known for its famous egg tart featuring a creamy custard and the flakiest of crusts. For 40 years, Hoover Cake Shop has been turning out hand-crafted pastries and breads that have made it a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.
A Hong Kong institution that originally opened in 1969, this classic European restaurant in the Hyatt Regency earned its reputation as a favorite of Western expatriates and visiting business travelers. Devotees return often to take advantage of the well priced three-course executive lunch Monday through Friday, or to celebrate a professional milestone with exceptional sips from the 400-plus label cellar. The French chef commands his open kitchen while the dapper, knowledgeable wait staff silently prepare dishes from tableside trolleys. Start with a selection of Brittany rosé and Irish oysters and continue with mains that cater to carnivores like the organic Welsh lamb loin, peppered steak or roast Australian Black Angus rib. Hugo’s is famous for its old-school desserts, particularly the crêpe Suzette and chocolate bonbons, served with a theatrical flourish on billowing dry ice.
Kowloon’s hip venue is headed by the Aqua Group, which masterminded such hot spots as Aqua Spirit Bar. Housed in a historic three-level building that dates from 1881, the complex has five restaurants, including an upscale Chinese eatery, as well as the more leisurely Stables restaurant and sexy Parlour lounge. It’s a great spot for travelers who have maxed out on Chinese food (families with kids will appreciate the classic Western menu at the Stables) and who want a serene place to escape from the buzzing city. If you’re visiting Kowloon, stop by the Hullett House for a relaxed lunch, high tea or pre-dinnner cocktail.
Urban panoramas from the 28th floor complement the 19th-century rooftops and tables sourced from mainland China’s street markets: Hutong recreates a traditional Beijing courtyard high in the sky. Flavors hint at the Silk Road, like steamed scallops in a sensuous pumpkin purée and bamboo clams, bathed in rosewater, and finished with hot peppers. Their rightly famous lamb ribs are de-boned and deep-fried, to be lavished at the table in a chili-soy dip. It’s a very memorable place for a meal, and the Kowloon location makes for excellent views of the main island’s skyline.
Al fresco dining is limited in the downtown area, mainly because not too many people want to sit outside in the intense heat of summer or brace the chill of winter. Isola, in one of the massive IFC Towers, is rare in offering the options of indoor dining or terrace tables, both with grand views of the harbor toward Kowloon. The fare is modern Italian with a great antipasto and dessert buffet.
Specializing in high-brow Cantonese cuisine, Kin’s Kitchen is owned by Lau Kin, owner of the Yellow Door, and founder of Hong Kong’s private kitchen movement. As is popular in the US, the restaurant focuses on sourcing local ingredients and turns classic Cantonese dishes on their heads in inventive new combinations.
This single table for up to 12 inside the Mandarin Oriental comes with views of the main kitchen where talented chefs whip up dishes created to complement the Krug Champagne, be it rosé or Vintage 1995. Guests are encouraged to discuss the menu suggestions directly with the chef who tends towards dramatic dishes with names like “Golden Caviar, Black Cod and Rain.” A limousine delivers discerning diners to and from this ultimate gourmand table.