This article is part of a guide to Hong Kong from FT Globetrotter
The nature of my work has enabled me to travel far and wide, often settling for prolonged periods of time and allowing me to really understand and appreciate a city’s culinary scene. Whether it’s in Italy, France, Germany or Australia, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for different cuisines and flavours. The food scene in my home city of Hong Kong — a colourful cross-section of cultures and traditions — often takes me by surprise, unveiling something new while also serving familiar dishes of old.
When I’m in Hong Kong, I always head to my favourite places for dim sum. In the Central district, I used to always go to Lin Heung Tea House, which was one of the oldest tea houses in Hong Kong and, sadly, closed recently after 104 years in business. Though a few blocks away is Maxim’s Palace in City Hall’s Low Block — this is where people-in-the-know go, upstairs on the second floor. The dim sum trolley and the views over the harbour make this one of my favourite lunch spots.
Two other Chinese delicacies that anyone visiting Hong Kong must try are char siu and Peking duck. My favourite place for the former, a Cantonese-style barbecued pork on a bed of fried rice, is Sang Kee Restaurant, a true symbol of the Wan Chai district on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. Wan Chai was historically a small fishing village known for its harbourside location, and Sang Kee is primarily a seafood restaurant. However, hidden within the menu at this glamorously low-key spot is the best char siu.
For Peking duck — originally from Beijing and characterised by crispy, thin skin — I always head to Mott 32. This award-winning contemporary Chinese restaurant refers to 32 Mott Street in New York, said to be the location of the city’s first Chinese convenience store, in the area now known as Chinatown. I love the blending of both Chinese culinary traditions and more modern techniques, such as the ethical and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. Their duck is roasted over a 48-hour period in a custom-made duck oven and stored in a special air-drying fridge.
I’ve always been a fan of yakitori — Japanese-style skewered chicken grilled over a charcoal fire — and Yardbird is my favourite place to enjoy it. In the Sheung Wan district, this lively joint has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. It’s a modern izakaya with a relaxed environment, and yakitori is its speciality. Last year it was awarded a Michelin star, and it is loved both locally and internationally.
As I was born in Italy and this is where my roots in the food industry really began to grow, I could not forgo my go-to Italian restaurant, Testina, just off Wellington Street. Opened in February 2022, it’s a collaboration between Trippa Milano and local restaurant group ZS Hospitality. Established in Milan in 2015, Trippa Milano is known for its revolutionary approach to trattoria cooking, as well as for its tripe (indicated in the name), with a signature dish featuring as trippa fritta on the menu at Testina.
I also spent some years working in France, and in Hong Kong’s Western District is Bâtard, a French bistro attached to a wine shop, where the cuisine emphasises seasonal produce, prepared simply and paired with the world’s best wines. This place is as hard to book as it’s one of the city’s finest restaurants, but the signature roast chicken is well worth the effort.
The bar and cocktail scene in Hong Kong is as colourful as the cuisine, and the offerings just as diverse. I love tequila, and the tequila-based cocktails at COA are unrivalled. The cosy, intimate space is inspired by the drinking dens that founder Jay Khan frequented on his trips to Mexico. The agave-spirit enthusiast created a 41-page spirits menu, my favourites of which include La Paloma de Oaxaca: tequila blanco, mezcal joven, lime, grapefruit soda and worm salt. When Jay is around, he often gives his expert recommendations at the bar to those who need a helping hand.
I’m always on the lookout for new innovations, and my favourite cocktail spot at the moment is Penicillin, Hong Kong’s first sustainable bar, which champions locally sourced or upcycled food and drink ingredients. Drawing on the discovery of its namesake, this bar is about experimentation, with a dedicated fermentation chamber and even a cocktail called One Penicillin, One Tree, where for every order, one tree is planted in the endangered Kalimantan rainforest in Borneo.
Finally, right next to Penicillin is The Iron Fairies, a perfectly balanced blend of adventurous drinks, innovative comfort food, live music and unmatched service. The designer and founder, Ashley Sutton, has made a name for himself on the Asian bar scene, and this is the third outpost of The Iron Fairies. He was in the iron industry as a miner in Australia in his youth, and the interiors of the space feature raw iron, timber, soft leather and blacksmith’s tools at the bar. I come here to relax with friends for what is always guaranteed to be a joyous and memorable evening.
Ivan Suardi is the executive vice-president of product and concept development at Rosewood Hotel Group
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