It’s the impossible list, the reflection of a year of dining experiences which prove, despite everything, that Hong Kong is still one of the world’s greatest restaurant cities. These are not in any order of preference – and there are always some which I will have shamefully neglected or forgotten. Some may say they’re too western-centric, or that many are at high-end prices, but regardless they’re simply my choices for some of the best dishes I tried in the 852 in 2017.
Arcane: Sautéed potato gnocchi with Parmesan black truffle and pinenut cream, spinach and chanterelles. Sensational.
Haku – Agustin Balbi pulls out all the stops on ingredients and has execution to match. The blingest plate in the 852? Quite possibly. The base is a mix of Polmard beef (here’s my CNN piece on Alexandre Polmard’s extraordinary produce) along with the finest chutoro fatty tuna. Then you top that with Kristal caviar.
Krug Room – As part of their autumn menu came this insanely good and comforting bowl of mash, black truffle and incredible jus. OK, gravy. The thing underneath the truffle? That’s another spud, sliced insanely thinly and reformed. Chef Robin Zavou really knows how to please.
Beet – I’m still yet to review this spot, but it served an exceptional meal with genuinely charming service. How refreshing. This beauty was hamachi crudo under Kefir cream (a fermented milk from the Caucuses, obvs), dill oil, Kristal caviar and sliced peaches:
Gough’s on Gough: A picture-perfect and beautifully-constructed boulangère potato with New Zealand sirloin, shallot puree and proper British gravy. Few things have tasted this good, this year, in Hong Kong.
Cafe Malacca: Beef rendang bought super-tender beef cheek that falls apart if the word fork is so much as mentioned in its presence. Coconut milk, of course, added to the heady base mix of cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, lemongrass, tamarind, lime leaves, fresh coconut – and more secrets besides.
Sushi Shikon: I visited for a forthcoming couple of features, but this place has three Michelin stars for sushi, one of only two global restaurants outside Japan to hold this incredible honour, with very good reason. Chef Kaki-San is a delight with his fluent English and almost unbelievable former career as a professional rugby player. Seriously.
Locanda dell angelo: The risotto from Sicilian Chef Angelo was named by his former boss Joel Robuchon as ‘the world’s best’. He knows his rice, old Joel. Risotto with fresh porcini mushrooms and Fontina cheese. Lots and lots of Fontina cheese. You need to order this. Twice.
Cafe Gray: Vegan brilliance from the very talented Eric Raty finished with a brilliant dessert that had me perplexed at how it could be vegan. Apricot crumble, almond ice cream and salted caramel. Truly as good as any regular crumble.
Rhoda: Given chef Nate’s propensity for delicious, warming, comforting largely-British dishes, I’d have plumped for pretty much anything, but this roasted cauliflower with miso and peanut was a huge winner on both sides of the vegetarian/carnivore marriage. Here’s my SCMP piece on his brilliant pop-up with London’s St John.
Belon: A brilliant spin on a pork pie by Chef Daniel Calvert at a Tatler dim sum battle. This genius bad boy is pâté en croûte made from lap cheong or Chinese sausage with dots of English mustard and tiny pickled onions. Ra-ther, as Terry Thomas would say.
Imperial Treasure: Roasted boneless suckling pig with glutinous rice was brilliant and creatively presented – resulting in one of the few 2018 Michelin stars I agreed with.