Occupying the 24th floor of California Tower in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district, Aria is a contemporary Italian eatery by executive chef Andrea Zamboni, formerly of the three-Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. Boasting panoramic views of the harbour and the Hong Kong skyline, Aria offers contemporary approaches to Italian family-style cuisine. Signatures include the lobster tagliatelle with a bagna càuda fondue of garlic, anchovies and olive oil; veal cutlet with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and a caper relish; and risotto with taleggio and Carnaroli rice aged for one year. Inspired by Italian operatic arias, dishes are designed to tell a story and take diners on a journey. Pair your meal with one of the restaurant’s 150 bottles of Italian wine.
24/F, California Tower, 30-36 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central; +852 2804 1116
Smoke & Barrel
Chefs Arron Rhodes and Chris Grare – the team behind Soho eatery Kinship – have set their sights on a new venture: bringing southern charm from America to the streets of Central. At their Texan barbecue joint Smoke & Barrel, all meats are home-smoked in an open kitchen that houses Hong Kong’s only imported wood fire smoker (known as ‘The Beast’). The menu fuses classic, comforting flavours from the American south with local ingredients and cooking methods, like the buttermilk pancakes with umami-rich hoisin sauce. Just make sure you don’t confuse the restaurant with Central’s other newly-opened, southern-inspired barbecue joint – Smoke & Barrels, which lies tucked away near the bottom of Graham Street market.
1/F & 2/F, Wyndham Mansion, 32 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 2866 2120
Chef Umberto Bombano, best known for his three-Michelin-starred 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, created a stir in October 2019 when he debuted a dim sum restaurant amid the market stalls of a crowded lane in Central. Accolades followed, and now the second outpost of Nove opens at the Fringe Club. Red lanterns and a mural with classic Chinese motifs set the mood for the menu: dim sum favourites and a few choice additions from Chiu Chow and wider Cantonese cuisine. In a fun nod to regular performers at Fringe, you’ll find menu items named for jazz guitarist Eugene Pao (wagyu bao), pianist Ted Lo (crispy turnip pastry), and a beer dedicated to Wong Kar-wai’s long-time cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who’s often papped hanging out at the performing arts venue.
1/F, The Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central; +852 2130 6546
The Daily Tot
Gerry Olino has mixed up creative cocktails for Foxglove and Dr Fern’s Gin Parlour, so it’s no surprise that his latest project is one of Hong Kong’s most anticipated new drinking dens: The Daily Tot. The Cuban-inspired rum bar takes over 1,300 square feet on the corner of Hollywood Road and Peel Street, including a terrace, and pays homage to its hallowed spirit with 11 signature cocktails featuring rums from across the Caribbean and beyond. The Peel Street Spritz, a blend of white Rum, Cappelletti Aperitivo, prosecco and ginger ale, strikes us as the perfect remedy to a sultry Hong Kong evening. In fact, why not order some of the bar bites – croquettes, skewers, fish tacos – and stay a while?
G/F, Shop E, Felicity Building, 58 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2366 6836
Odea; The Queen; The Steak Room at House 1881
While the sushi by Chef Mitsuhiro Araki at The Araki still tickles the taste buds, House 1881 – a heritage complex in Tsim Sha Tsui – isn’t resting on that success. It has just launched three of Hong Kong’s hottest restaurants. Odea offers all-day modern French dining, with highlights such as baked escargots and spaghetti with applewood bacon and sea urchin. But you may prefer to order an afternoon tea set for two set against an arch corridor in view of Victoria Harbour. The Queen is an upscale Chinese restaurant by a lush courtyard. We liked the rarely-seen Crab Meat with Pumpkin Paste Dumplings and the innovative Baileys Egg Tart; plant-based offerings of vegan mushroom rice rolls and beetroot dumplings are just as satisfying. Then there’s The Steak Room, just what it sounds like, with renowned Australian Mayura Wagyu featuring prominently on the menu.
House 1881, 2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3988 0000
John Nguyen, formerly of Soho’s popular streetside Vietnamese eatery Chôm Chôm, has set up his own shop on Wan Chai’s Lun Fat Street. Named for a notable Vietnamese poet, Xuân does classics with a northern Vietnamese twist. Bowls of fragrant pho, available with prime rib beef or chicken, come with pickled garlic rather than fresh herbs, for example. It’s hard not to order a side (or two) of the crispy spring rolls, and don’t miss the braised beef tongue salad. The meat is slow cooked for 12 hours for fall-apart-in-the-mouth tenderness that is elevated with a medley of herbs, fresh mango and citrus dressing.
G/F, 18 Lun Fat Street, Wan Chai; +852 2891 1177
Another chef striking out on his own is Agustin Ferrando Balbi, formerly of Japanese fine-dining restaurant Haku. Ando is the Argentinian chef’s first solo venture, and the menu explores elements of his Argentinian and Spanish ancestral roots, as well as his time spent working in several of Tokyo’s Michelin-starred kitchens. Chef Balbi’s talents for fusing Eastern and Western flavours and styles come to the fore in dishes like the quail served with miso carrots and the Kumamoto wagyu beef with spicy corn, shishito pepper and shiitake mushroom.
1/F, Somptueux Central, 52 Wellington Street, Central; +852 2380 9007
Wagyumafia made a splash when it opened its 18-seater Wan Chai restaurant in February 2019 with a membership-only model and menu of premium wagyu (chateaubriand cutlet sando, anyone?). The restaurant group has now brought the first international outpost of Yakinikumafia, its Japanese barbecue concept, to our shores. The focus is once again on premium single-breed Ozaki wagyu, served in a sleek airport-inspired space complete with a departures board menu in Sheung Wan. Highlights include the signature barbecue plate combo set, which comes with three cuts ranging from fatty to lean, along with wagyu bone broth and pickles. Wash it all down with cocktails designed by The Diplomat’s John Nugent, small batch sakes or a yuzu IPA. Just be quick: Yakinikumafia only takes around 250 bookings a month (online reservations open on the 15th of each month).
2/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan; +852 3105 1250
Voted best restaurant in South Korea four years running, Seoul restaurant Mingles has rightly won fans for its interpretation of Korean culinary classics. So prepare to book ahead to sample chef Kang Min-goo’s first Hong Kong restaurant, Hansik Goo. The eight-course tasting menu is designed to be shared (the name is a play on both the chef’s name and the Korean for a ‘family that shares meals’) and showcases the chef’s talent for giving traditional dishes a contemporary twist. Case in point: Kang’s take on dishes like bugak, inspired by ancient Korean temple cuisine; and yukhoe, Korean-style beef tartare upgraded with Australian wagyu, Korean pear, Jerusalem artichoke chips and a quail-egg yolk. Korean favourites like spicy tteokbokki (rice cakes), Korean fried chicken and bulgogi beef also make an appearance alongside classic ingredients like kimchi, ginseng and jangs (fermented pastes).
2/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central; +852 2798 8768
Located at the southern tip of Tsim Sha Tsui, Harbourside Grill pairs an eclectic menu of European flavours with uninterrupted views of Victoria Harbour and the blockbuster Hong Kong Island skyline. As the name suggests, the menu excels in grilled meats – the USDA ribeye and lamb chops are particular standouts – but executive chef Armand Sablon also showcases a little French flair in the subtle flavours of dishes such as the pan-fried sea bass, served atop crushed potatoes and lobster bisque. Arrive early to score your spot on the expansive outdoor terrace for sunset G&Ts and save room for a slice of the apple tarte tatin to finish the meal.
Shop OTE401, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2619 9100
Indian restaurant Chaat is the latest to join the stable of top-tiered dining options at the Rosewood Hong Kong hotel on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront. The decor, much like executive chef Manav Tuli’s menu, pops with vibrant colours, including a mural by Hyderabadi contemporary artist Kandi Narsimlu. Named for the Hindi word to ‘lick’, Chaat has got plenty to excite your taste buds: snack on street-food inspired delights like scallop bhel puri, melt-in-your-mouth Hyderabad lamb shank and treats from the tandoor oven like the aromatic malai grouper tikka.
5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 5239 9220
Named for the former French colony in Pondicherry, chef Taran Chadha and the team behind Brut! have delivered another fantastic modern Indian restaurant with Pondi. Dishes call back to classic Indian flavours with a dash of French flair and culinary technique. In short, a delicious good time (especially if you order the butter chicken liver terrine) and a great space for intimate dinners and casual gatherings.
14 Fuk Sau Lane, Sai Ying Pun; +852 6556 4253
Sai Ying Pun’s dining scene continues to evolve with the addition of LucAle, a cosy neighbourhood Italian restaurant newly opened on Third Street. Put together by chefs Alessandro Angelini, formerly of the Kowloon Shangri-La’s Angelini, and Luca De Berardinis of Conrad’s Nicholini’s, it’s a solid menu of Italian favourites, but we recommend the La Bistecca Di Fassona con Osso steak to share (it’s a hearty portion) and what has to be one of the city’s finest tiramisus – which you’ll want all for yourself…
Shop A, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun; +852 3611 1842
There’s a new meat feast in town. Launched by the culinary team behind Pica Pica, Rubia is a Spanish ‘taberna’ in Central offering up prime cuts of Northern Spain’s famed Galician beef, paired with hand-cut chips and excellent confit peppers – as well as a tempting selection of tapas that earns it a spot among Hong Kong’s hottest restaurants and bars.
35-37 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2889 1199
Uoharu in Central is Hong Kong’s first izakaya to introduce meatless options. Sure, it still ships fresh seafood in from Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market – but the restaurant is also reinventing long-time favourites this month: think veggie Scotch eggs, burger steak with sukiyaki sauce and curry meatballs (pictured) – only without the meat.
Wellington Place, 7/F M88, 2-8 Wellington St, Central; +852 2217 8880
Samsen Sheung Wan
Chef Adam Cliff opened Samsen in Wan Chai back in 2016 and turned it into the best joint in town for Bangkok-style boat noodles – unbelievably unctuous, unarguably delicious, and worth the seemingly permanent queue for a bowl. His second outlet, Samsen Sheung Wan, shifts the focus to khao soi curry beef noodles, served alongside crisp, fresh roti. They’re up there with the boat noodles – so you can expect a queue here, too.
23 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan; +852 2234 0080
Afuri Ramen is one of our must-visits in Japan, thanks to their rightly famed yuzu shio ramen. Now the chain has opened its first Hong Kong outpost at Tsim Sha Tsui’s The One. Here you’ll find a carbon copy of the menu in Japan, featuring fan favourites like chicken karaage – and those fantastic noodles, served in a delicate chicken broth with that unforgettable citrus note.
2/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2815 2177
At The Diplomat, an intimate 18-seat speakeasy in Central’s H Code, mixologist John Nugent churns out creative cocktails such as the Tarling (pictured): a combination of pandan gin, white port, baking spice, clarified orange juice and coconut juice – alongside gourmet bar bites like a Cubano sandwich filled with suckling pig. Not sure there’s a diplomatic way to eat that.
LG/F, High Block, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central; +852 3619 0302
Opened by the folks behind burger fave Beef & Liberty, pizzeria Emmer at Pacific Place brings a modern-but-ancient take on the Italian classic, thanks to a crust made with the heritage emmer wheat grain. It’s lower in gluten than your average pizza dough, which gives the results a wonderful crunch – and perhaps best of all, you don’t feel (too) uncomfortably full after demolishing a whole one.
#407, Level 4, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty; +852 2780 1110
Among the city’s hottest restaurants and bars is this vegetarian newcomer that is helping Hongkongers’ drive to eat cleaner. Sheung Wan’s Miss Lee serves up veggified Chinese classics like lotus root stuffed with mushroom and taro. We love the lunch set, which comes in beautiful hexagonal bowls, and the Bravocado smoothie, which is just about as hipster as it gets.
G/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Sheung Wan; +852 2881 1811
The Pizza Project
Hong Kong needs HK$70 pizza. So says Manuel Palacio Ramos, co-founder of Pirata Group. Too right. Sure, there are a few solid slices in the city (New Yorkers, feel free to disagree) but most of them will cost you – we’re looking at you, Kytaly, and your impeccable, take-out-a-mortgage Neapolitan pizzas. Which is why The Pizza Project on Soho’s Peel Street has us excited. Handmade, affordable pizzas from the guys behind pasta favourite Pici. What’s not to like?
G/F, 26 Peel Street, Soho; +852 2311 1815
Chef Ricardo Chaneton made his name at France’s three-Michelin-starred Mirazur, which has just been named the top restaurant in the world. After a stint at the Island Shangri-La, he’s partnered up with the JIA Group to open Mono on Central’s On Lan Street. At this intimate, 30-seat space, the order of the day is a modern, seasonal tasting menu, paired with classic French reds.
5/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central; +852 2200 7000
XX is a women-only speakeasy (the clue’s in the name – only females have two ‘X’ chromosomes) concealed in the depths of Rosewood Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui. Upon arrival, women will be given a passcode before entering this hidden corner of the hotel. Our favourite cocktail is the ‘Sexy: She Says That A Lot’, which packs jasmine, bergamot, fizz and London No.3 Gin. Feminine – but strong. Reservations compulsory.
5/F, Rosewood Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 5239 9219
Chef Paulo Airaudo’s Amelia, in San Sebastián, Spain, picked up a Michelin star within a year of opening. Now the chef is opening his first venture in Asia, in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City. In the kitchen: rising Vietnamese-American culinary star Son Pham. Expect a showcase of premium seasonal produce – and a 200-label wine list.
Harbour City, Shop OT G63, G/F, Ocean Terminal, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 3705 1983
It was the restaurant we all booked for a fancy French meal a decade ago: since then Petrus has fallen from favour. But now chef Uwe Opocensky has joined the Island Shangri-La in Admiralty – and he’s putting an emphasis on reviving Petrus. A highlight: the beetroot ‘bresaola’, layered into a stunning rose.
Level 56, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty; +852 2820 8590