Cantonese isn’t the only gourmet experience to be had in Hong Kong. From Caribbean barbecue to Swiss fondue, this international city is home to a world of culinary adventures. Here are five places to go for a globetrotting taste tour within the city limits.
Stepping in to Chesa is like taking a trip deep into the heart of the Alps. Designed to resemble a cozy, wood-framed chalet, the Swiss restaurant at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Peninsula Hong Kong is a favorite among couples and families alike, thanks to the warm atmosphere, excellent service and unique menu.
Rarely do you find fondue on a menu in Hong Kong, but it seems to be working for Chesa, which opened in 1965. In addition to its cheesy signatures, such as fondue moitié-moitié — Gruyère and Vacherin Fribourgeois cheese fondue served with bread — Chesa also does contemporary Swiss food with aplomb. The specialties take inspiration from Grisons, an Alpine enclave in eastern Switzerland, so think air-dried meats, traditional barley cream soup, handmade sausages, sliced veal “Zurichoise” and spätzle egg noodles.
A little bit Japanese izakaya and a little bit rock ’n’ roll, Okra is all about leisurely dinners and top-notch ingredients, music and conversation. The restaurant is the second of its name from chef Max Levy, who opened Okra 1949 in Beijing in 2013 before moving the concept to Hong Kong this year.
The first thing you’ll notice is the wall full of evocative artwork from Japanese artist Toshio Saeki, but the Sai Ying Pun address really centers around a welcoming wooden bar, where you can watch the chefs deboning whole fish and artfully garnishing plates with bamboo.
Levy rejiggers Japanese dishes to make them his own, often incorporating surprising ingredients such as a housemade XO sauce, salted Buddha’s hand, Shaoxing wine and Xinjiang raisins.
Sake enthusiasts will appreciate the long list of bottles from small-batch producers, many of which are exclusive to Okra. Ask about the sake trio tasting flights during happy hour (6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday), which also features a handful of sashimi dishes.
One of the most impressive newcomers of 2016, the three-story restaurant and bar Maison Libanaise constantly has crowds gathered outside of it. The casual Lebanese eatery takes its cues from 1960s Beirut, with vintage-style murals, vibrant patterns and walls stocked full of Lebanese wine.
While the eclectic interiors will certainly energize diners, chef James Harrison’s equally colorful menu is the real draw. Signatures such as the almond falafel, pan-fried haloumi, spicy roasted cauliflower, pulled lamb shoulder and extra-crispy za’atar fried chicken are made for sharing, so be sure to visit with friends.
For an alfresco meal, ask for a table upstairs on the cozy rooftop — or, if the wait is too long, grab to-go food from the first floor and enjoy it on the pedestrian stairs by the Mid-Levels escalator.
Repulse Bay Beach on the south side of Hong Kong Island didn’t have much going on aside from a snack stall and a Pizza Hut in 2014. But thanks to The Pulse, a new lifestyle complex right on the beach, the dining scene has dramatically evolved into a go-to destination for sunny weekends. Boasting excellent ocean views, Limewood is home to gorgeous interiors and a refreshing menu. Inside, it’s all white-tiled walls, wooden tables, turquoise stools and exotic orange flowers.
The exotic is key here: the menu traverses the Caribbean, Hawaii and South America for a mishmash of delicious flavors. Both the cocktails and the food embrace tropical flavors like coconut, lime and lots of jalapeño. A long list of shareable plates enables you to try a bit of everything, but don’t miss the refreshing basil watermelon salad, jerked coconut corn, hot and sour yellowtail, and charred beef ribs with mango barbecue sauce.
Hidden away up an escalator inside a humble building in Sai Ying Pun, ABC Kitchen is quite the surprise: the red-checkered tablecloths and well-dressed waiters stand out in an otherwise modest food court.
But it’s not just the unexpected location that makes this little eatery a hot spot on most travelers’ itineraries. ABC Kitchen serves up delicious Italian cuisine, including a signature roasted suckling pig, deep-fried frog legs, mussels, quail salad, lamb and strozzapreti hand-rolled pasta.
The house wine here is a steal at about US$5 a glass, but we’d suggest a one-liter pitcher of the zesty cava-topped sangria.