Hong Kong (CNN)
Once again Hong Kong is proving itself as a leading player on the global restaurant scene with a dizzying array of new restaurant openings, from Michelin-starred fine dining to hole-in-the-wall takeaways.
Here are some making culinary waves across the city to try in 2016:
Opened this fall, the luxurious and laid back place is already packed out at lunch, dinner and for evening drinks — given Spanish chef Edgar Sanuy’s hand at the stove, it’s clear why.
The San Sebastian classic kokotxas (a Basque delicacy of hake throats) are here served from salmon instead.
The classic Catalan “bikini” sandwich of sobressada (cured, paprika-heavy sausage) and mozzarella has few if any rivals in town.
Mercedes me | Shop C-D, G/F, Entertainment Building, No.30 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong China | +852 2895 7398 http://www.finefooddude.com/mercedes-me/
Beefbar brings with it serious meat knowhow through its branches in destinations including Monaco, Mexico City and Moscow.
At the elegant interior in the heart of Central, world-class beef is the draw.
Its meats are broiled at extremely high temperatures and then char grilled, meaning the carnivore double whammy of exterior crisp and crust, before interior tenderness.
Its mashed potato and raw bar of sashimi shouldn’t be overlooked, too.
Beefbar Hong Kong | 2/F, Club Lusitano, 16 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong China | +852 2110 8853
Le Garcon Saigon
The latest opening from Black Sheep restaurants heads west from Hong Kong to Vietnam for serious flavors and roll-your-own fun.
The interior of Le Garcon Saigon is more Parisian brasserie than street food, but diners quickly get down and dirty with skewers accompanied by rice paper rolls, fresh herbs, pickles, vermicelli and dipping sauces.
The banh xeo brings chorizo, bean sprouts and prawns to be wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc mam fish sauce.
Desserts are inventive and to be jealously guarded.
Le Garcon Saigon | G/F, No.12-18 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong China | +852 2455 2499
Vea on the top floor of The Wellington Building unites two talented names from the Hong Kong dining scene, namely chef Vicky Cheng and mixologist Antonio Lai.
Over marble tabletops and bronze fittings, modern French cuisine is served in an eight-course tasting menu that changes weekly.
Each course comes with a matching cocktail (they’re thankfully not very big) while local seafood and other produce is celebrated wherever possible.
VEA Restaurant and Lounge | 29-30/F, The Wellington, No.198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong China | +852 2711 8380
Repulse Bay on the south side of Hong Kong Island was arguably 2015’s hottest dining destination through the opening of The Pulse, a large beach side venue featuring more than a dozen new restaurants.
The Ocean takes pride of place — and the best view — on the top floor.
No prizes for guessing that seafood is the order of the day in beautiful, inventive plates including a breathtaking wild mushroom tortellini (we had no idea tortellini can be breathtaking, too) with lobster bisque.
The Ocean | Shop 303-304, 3/F, The Pulse, No.28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong China | +852 2889 5939
Nowhere on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong has a better view than at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in the city’s highest skyscraper.
Up on the 102nd floor of the International Commerce Center, the Ritz Carlton’s new seven-seat Almas venue serves caviar and champagne.
Alongside the pricy but very special “black gold” on the menu is Balik salmon, as originally served to Tsar Nicholas II.
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong | International Commerce Center, No.1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong China | +852 2263 2270
New Japanese spot Koko comes with star power in the form of Japanese soccer legend Hidetoshi Nakata.
Nakata partners with Kee Club in this izakaya style venue boasting that rare Hong Kong commodity, a large terrace.
Rock shrimp tempura with wasabi peel and king crab with uni hotpot are two of the highlights.
But drinks are a big draw through a sake collection including Nakata’s own N sake made from the highest-grade Yamadanishki rice.
KOKO, 5/F, 77 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2109 1777
Mr and Mrs Fox
The latest opening from Swire Hotels is typically sleek, targeting the media hub of the city’s Quarry Bay district.
Laid out over three floors, Mr and Mrs Fox’s ground floor space is a relaxed bar with dining, while the second floor is the restaurant proper.
Quality steaks and inventive seafood are parts of a global menu with numerous Asian touches and ingredients.
Desserts come recommended too, especially the retro baked Alaska.
Mr & Mrs Fox | 23 Tong Chong Street, Hong Kong China | +852 2697 8500
The Fat Pig
British chef Tom Aikens oversees his second Hong Kong restaurant The Fat Pig with this celebration of the noble swine.
Locally-sourced pork comes in countless ways from charcuterie to baked, roasted, barbecued, pulled, pickled and more.
Local brewery Moonzen also offers the Fat Pig Bacon Red Ale, if you haven’t quite reached your pork quota.
The Fat Pig | 11/F, Food Forum, Times Square, No.1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong China
Chef Peter Cuong Franklin was born in Central Vietnam, moved to the U.S., graduated from Yale and worked in investment banking before pursuing his passion in the kitchen.
His latest venture in the city is Viet Kitchen.
One of the signatures is grilled Kurobata chops glazed with fish sauce and pork jus.
Manila clams are cooked perfect with lime butter sauce, basil and lemongrass under a tangle of coriander.
Both are cooked fast on a very high wok heat to achieve a subtle note of smokiness.
Viet Kitchen | G04 & G06, Nexxus Building, No.41 Connaught Road, Hong Kong China | +852 2806 2068
Indonesian cuisine is taken up a notch at Tri in Repulse Bay, a beautifully fitted-out space celebrating the underrated food of Bali, with views over the beach to match.
Sambal Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, chili and crispy cauliflower served with thin peyek crackers.
The beef short rib is another standout.
Dadar Gulung, for dessert, are cute little Balinese pancakes with a riot of coconut and mango, the perfect finish.
Tri, Shop 302, 3/F, Lobby C The Pulse, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong +852 2515 0577
A restaurant celebrating Japanese and Peruvian cuisine is not as odd as it seems, given the countries’ historical ties.
Helmed by Jose Manuel Meza, who worked at Lima legend Astrid y Gaston, bright new spot El Mercado impresses with its generous lunch bento box with excellent ceviche, salad and sushi.
Dinner promises larger plates with seafood as the star.
El Mercado Wanchai | 21/F, No.237-239 Hennessy Road, Hong Kong China | +852 2388 8009