7 dishes we loved this week, from Arcane, Chiba and more
Best Bites is a roundup of the standout dishes we’ve had over the past week: those that renewed our love for established places, caught our eye during a new opening, or freshly impressed us with creativity. and skills of Hong Kong’s talented chefs. From casual street snacks to meticulously curated tasting menus, these are the best dishes to try in Hong Kong, and the plates we recommend taking a special trip for.
The best dishes we dined and savored this week:
Il Bel Paese Sheung Wan
The dish: La Nostra Lasagna (HK$148)
For a long time I booed and shouted at anyone who wanted to hear about my love for Il Bel Paese. It’s an unassuming place, tucked away at the bottom of the steps down from Sheung Wan’s Man Mo Temple. It’s not the only Il Bel Paese in town – I know places in Discovery Bay and Sai Ying Pun, among others – but to borrow a line from “Rifleman’s Creed”: there are many like it, but this one- this is mine.
It’s become a bit of a hangout for the off-duty F&B crowd, and the big difference might just be Robin and Raj, who’s been running the bar since I moved during the early days of the pandemic – you remember that maybe like the duo who taught you everything you know about rum over a splashy dinner at Carbone. They have become invaluable friends who are always ready to offer a drink, a story or, when hunger strikes, a good helping of the best lasagna in town. Crispy on top and fully melted in the center, it’s the perfect take-out after a long night of tequila sodas – or the perfect medicine for the next day. Put on your Garfield. — Nathan Erickson, editor
Il Bel Paese, 299 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2528 2200
The baker and the bottler
The dish: Butter lettuce, whipped ricotta, toasted breadcrumbs (3 pieces) (HK$58)
A visit to The Baker & The Bottleman won’t be complete without at least one serving of their dangerously addictive beef scratching with ‘Mock Bacon’ seasoning (HK$58) — or, preferably, several servings; it goes down like air – at this point you will definitely feel a little guilty about your choices. So something green, then.
Their Butter Lettuce starter is the dormant hit you might overlook on the wine bar menu’s greatest hits tour, studded with arguably more interesting Scotch eggs (HK$85) and Beet Smoked Salmon (168 HK$), but here is your sign to take the fucking detour. Unlike the tossed greens which tend to be a mandatory order, the mother said, the dish is a salad you eat with your hands, with each bite-sized piece of lettuce luxuriously dressed (it’s is whipped ricotta!) and done with all that. -significant cracking.
It’s also really a dish you’d think of making at home – it looks so simple! – but probably never will be. Why would you! Grab three quarters at The Baker & The Bottleman and wash it down with a few glasses of vino. Then rinse and repeat. —Joey Wong, Editor
The Baker & The Bottleman, Shop No. G14 and G15 (Minor Portion), G/F and Shop No. F15A, 1/F Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2817 8383
The dish: Brittany blue lobster rolled in avocado with toasted brioche, ikura, lemon jelly and dill (HK$388)
Avocado toast is usually served at Sunday brunch. But at Arcane, the avocado toast — a fancier and much more exciting take on the neighborhood staple — is thankfully a lunch, brunch, and dinner dish, as it should be. Sebastian Lorenzi, head chef at the modern European spot, has lent his culinary expertise and reinvented the humble fruit into a photogenic centerpiece that has found its way onto the restaurant’s Michelin-starred menu. Thin and delicate slices of perfectly ripe avocado are covered, then rolled with fresh lobster, assembled on a slice of perfectly toasted golden brioche. On top, lemon gel adds the perfect zing, balanced by the flavor of ikura and the freshness of dill. It’s a sweet and deliciously tempting bite that disappears in seconds. — Lorria Sahmet, editor
Esoteric3/F, 18 Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
The dish: Nice Salad (HK$148)
Glasshouse plates are meant to be shared, but I certainly don’t share their Nicoise salad. I’ve eaten a lot of salads in my life – at one point it was the only thing I ate – so believe me I know the world of mixed greens well and I know a good salad when I see a .
the Nicoise salad is a pretty standard salad. Google and you’ll find page after page of recipes. Everyone and their mother have their own interpretation. Food Network, BBC Good food, To taste… make your choice and get to work in the kitchen. Or, if you’re lazy like me, go to any Glasshouse store in Hong Kong and order their version.
Originating from the city of Nice on the French Riviera (hence its name), the classic Salad Niçoise includes fresh tomatoes, sliced hard-boiled eggs and tuna in an olive oil vinaigrette, traditionally presented on a large platter. Some restaurants choose to play around with the ingredients, adding bell peppers, chopped shallots or steamed artichokes to fluff it up, but Glasshouse stays classic by only using the basics.
Now I’m not opposed to swelling Niçoise, but as a self-proclaimed salad purist, I would definitely opt for the classic if I had the choice. And Glasshouse does it perfectly. I swear, every bite of salad is better than the last. I attribute this to just the right amount of fatty tuna and the slightly tangy dressing that keeps me coming back for more. 10/10 would recommend, even if you don’t usually like greens. — Charmaine Ng, Editor
Glasshouse, Shop No. 101 & 101A, 1/F, Cityplaza, 18 Tai Koo Shing Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2114 0063
The dish: Chocolate Lava Cake with Ice Cream (HK$58)
Nathan Road is a place of wonder; it’s still a mystery to me why there is no Yakuza-inspired game set in the MK district of Hong Kong (yes, I know sleeping dogs exists, but I think we deserve a little better than that).
Either way, step into Chiba, a fusion cafe located two minutes from Yau Ma Tei station. The dimly lit retro interior, coupled with almost too loud pop music blaring through the speakers, makes this the perfect gossip spot – no one sees you, no one hears you.
After a keto seafood dinner and a signature savory platter decorated like a Japanese pond garden, it’s only fitting to end the night with a plate of lava cake. Coconut ice cream crumbles over the hot chocolate cake, melting in sweet streaks to fill the dish with another layer of sweetness. Sorry I was too busy eating to take a picture of the oozing chocolate lava, totally my fault. — Michelle Chan, Editor-in-Chief
Chiba, Room 2, 2/F, Kiu Kin Building, 566-568 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, +852 6127 7112
The dish: All day breakfast ($128)
An all day breakfast – my ultimate comfort food. No matter what kind of day I had, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a scrambled egg and avocado toast. The best thing about it? You can have it anytime – bright and early to start the day, a late lunch to pretend the day has just started, or a remedy after a night out.
I stumbled upon this cafe after discovering that one of my previous beloved brunches had stopped serving hot food. I desperately needed bacon and eggs. The portion was larger than I expected, with each ingredient doubling the size of what other cafes would typically serve. It also included all the meat and seafood a breakfast should have: bacon, ham and smoked salmon, which is great value. The creamy scrambled eggs were outstanding, with the perfect degree of fluffiness and saltiness. Just the way I like it. This is definitely my new go-to meal for curing all kinds of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday blues. — Leanne Lam, Social Media Manager
The dish: Fries Steak Hanger (HK$255)
Carbon Brews has just opened its bar on Wyndham Street. Chef Sean Yuen specially created a menu that would help elevate the experience of each of the craft beers. This isn’t your everyday steak and fries. The Hanger Steak Frites consists of a California burger, smoked with a bone marrow sauce, veal bone, port wine, shallots, a selection of various herbs and served with potato fries Hand-cut Canadian Agria. For me the steak was so tender it melted in your mouth. I would highly recommend this dish to a meat lover who enjoys high gourmet food. — Austin Miao, Brand Content Manager
Carbon Brews, G/F, The Centrium, 60 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 5409 4840
(Lead and featured image: Carbon Brews)