Winners of Hong Kong Best Eats 2010
Best gourmet restaurant: Gaddi's
Inside The Peninsula hotel, Gaddi's is one of Hong Kong's grandest dining rooms.
Everything is Euro posh: silver candelabras at the table, live, unobtrusive band, strict dress code, service with the right amount of snoot.
The food matches -- and is what keeps food writer-blogger KC coming back.
Chef David Goodridge's classic modern French is consistently high quality, satisfying the great expectations of high rollers.
The suckling pig is steamed then crisped -- a spiced sausage made from the pig's head and a slow-cooked loin all cohabit under a sage foam, arranged within painstakingly detailed garnishes.
This includes a spectacular brown calvados jus is made with gravy trimmings and distilled apples brandy from Brittany, a warm and creamy cauliflower puree, lightly battered miniature cauliflower florets and crisp Romaine lettuce.
This is European pride you can taste.
Open daily, noon-2:30 p.m., 7-10:30 p.m. Gaddi's, 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, tel. +852 2315 3171, www.peninsula.com
Best cheap eat: Hon Kee's beef offal
None on our expert panel could mount a serious argument against WOM Guide co-founder Samanta Pong's recommendation of Hon Kee's "beng sa laam" brisket and noodles (HK$39) as Hong Kong's tastiest cheap gourmet fix.
Hong Kongers vye for Hon Kee's specialty, an ideal cut of brisket near the diaphragm, prizing it for its incomparable flavor and rarity.
New diners may have to chat up the Hon Kee staff to get on their good side to secure the best cuts of beng sa laam -- the underrated delicacy runs out quickly each day, snapped up by knowing foodies.
Open daily, 11 a.m.- 5:30 p.m. 漢記牛雜粉面茶餐廳 Hon Kee Beef Offal Noodles, 470 Lockhart Rd., Causeway Bay (opposite New York Cinema), tel. +852 2838 2678
Best new restaurant: Mirror
Jeremy Biasiol, a former apprentice to chef Alain Ducasse, opened Mirror just last month. It's already one of Hong Kong's hottest tables.
WOM Guide co-founder Fergus Fung calls Biasiol "very talented" and we have to agree. The man's flair is apparent from the kitchen to the dining room.
Mirror is decked out with quirky personal touches, like the wall of suspended forks and spoons that acts as a decorative partition.
"The spirit of the restaurant is open, fun and artistic," says Biasiol. "It is as if you have come to my home and I am cooking a meal for you."
Biasiol cooks fresh, colorful dishes, often personally picking ingredients from local markets.
Signatures include cream risotto with black truffle and scallop, frogs legs with garlic cream and baby tomatoes stuffed with ricotta cheese
Open Monday-Saturday, 11:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m., 6:30-11:30 p.m. Mirror Restaurant, 6/F, Tiffan Tower, 199 Wanchai Rd., Wan Chai, tel. + 852 2573 7288
Hoi King Heen's pan-fried Chiu Chow dumplings
Food critic Michael Lam gushes over Hoi King Heen chef Leung Fai Hung
"Leung has a great attitude," says Lam. "He is 50 years old, but he still tries to learn new things and create new dishes constantly."
Lam loves chef Leung's pan-fried Chiu Chow dumplings. Leung adds an extra twist to the traditionally steamed dumpling by pan-frying it until the bottom is crispy.
The sweetness of the glutinous rice becomes concentrated on the fried bits and contrasts with the overwhelmingly gummy texture of the steamed glutinous rice skin.
Served as a meal closer, chef Leung recommends drinking iron Buddha tea with his dumpling.
Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
B2, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong, 70 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha
Tsui, tel. +852 2731 2883
Five Generations' egg pudding
Food critic Michael Lam can't stay away from "Five Generations Desserts."
The reason? Their original egg pudding.
Served in a cartoonish glass egg-holder, the pudding is cool and creamy, a cross between creme fraiche and creme brulee custard.
At the helm of the desserterie is a former hotel pastry chef who insists on quality ingredients. Other popular items include the rich chocolate lava cake.
Open Sunday-Thursday, 2 p.m.-1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. 五代同堂 "Five Generations," 25-31 Carnarvon Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, tel. +852 2723 3383
Best seafood: Ming Court
The Ming Dynasty was founded in Nanjing in 1368 and fell at its capital in Beijing in 1644.
This does nothing to explain why the genius of Cantonese culture and cuisine is so perfectly embodied at Ming Court, but, never fear, history will be the last thing on your mind once chef Tsang Chiu King's delicate ingredients and robust flavors arrive at your table.
Most popular these days is Tsang's stir-fried shrimp with egg white. It may sound innocuous, but this is a dish that tests the core skills of the Cantonese chef.
The egg whites must be evenly and gently coagulated, then gingerly handled as each layer is laid upon the cooked shrimp, which is lightly fried with spicy salt. The result is silky ribbons of wholesome egg white contrasting with spicy shrimp, and shells fried to an award-winning crisp.
It's the highlight of an extensive and near flawless menu and restaurant.
Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday and public holidays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner daily, 6-10:30 p.m. Ming Court, Langham Place Hotel, 333 Shanghai St., Mongkok, tel. +852 3552 3300 hongkong.langhamplacehotels.com/
Best hot pot: King's Garden Restaurant
Spam. The underdog of prepared meats. Enjoyed by a large portion of the world's population, yet ridiculed by the rest.
At King's Garden, the infamous luncheon meat is given the respect it deserves.
Cubed premium Jinhua ham from Zhejiang province is made into luncheon meat exclusively for King's Garden.
The tender pork loaf evokes the cured brininess of Parma ham. It's aromatic, with a hint of sweetness.
The imported pork balls, called gung yuen, and a unique soy sauce flown in from Taiwan, put King's Garden at the top of our hot pot heap.
If you can handle the heat, the Sichuan peppercorn soup base is King's Garden's pride.
Open daily, 6 p.m.-1 a.m. King’s Garden Restaurant, 1/F, King's Hotel, 303 Jaffe Rd., Wan Chai, tel. +852 2244 3355
Best soup: West Villa's melon, conch and chicken soup
West Villa is practically synonymous with melon and conch soup. WOM Guide co-founder Samanta Pong says it's her "favorite soup outside of home."
The original recipe came from philanthropist Sir Tang Shiu Kin, who visited the restaurant 30 years ago and asked his cook to instruct the restaurant on the intricacies of preparing the soup.
Honeydew melon, conch, chicken, fish maw, herbs and conpoy boil together for four hours. The soup is rich yet light, a throat balm for the dryer months.
Sweetness comes from the melon, which melts into the soup. The very expensive fish maw is like Botox for Chinese who believe in its collagen-boosting properties.
Open daily, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. West Villa Restaurant, G/F, No. 16-20 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, tel. +852 2543 3990
Best grilled meat: Sumi
Hidden on the ninth floor of a grubby building mostly devoted to hostess bars, Sumi is a cozy private kitchen with a Japanese izakaya feel.
The house specializes in uncommon yakitori, such as barbecued ox tongue skewers. Food critic Michael Lam says it's so good it's like "making out with a cow."
Cooked on an open grill behind the bar by Japanophile Lewis Mo, the barbecued meat on sticks includes chicken skin and the sweetest corn on the cob in town.
Open Monday-Saturday, 7-10 p.m. Sumi Yakitori, 9/F, Evernew House, 485 Lockhart Rd., Causeway Bay, tel. +852 2980 3312
Best rice: Ming Court's garoupa and rice in lotus leaf
Ming Court's garoupa and rice steamed in a lotus leaf is a show-stopping dish.
Arriving at the table in an immense bamboo steam basket, the lotus leaf wrapper is peeled back as steam furiously unfurls from within. The aromas of fish, preserved Chinese olives and lotus leaf blast away even before diners catch sight of the rice.
It's a hearty, reassuring dish with a bit of everything: sweetness of fish, tartness of olives, rich nuttiness of long-grain rice coated in egg.
Open for lunch Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday and public holidays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Open for dinner daily, 6 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Ming Court, Langham Place Hotel, 555 Shanghai Street, Mongkok, T (852) 3552 3300
Best French restaurant: Caprice
Chef Vincent Thierry fixes up modern French cuisine inspired by Asia. This makes dining at Caprice as much a mental exercise as a sensual one.
The complex dishes with such rich flavors served here require concentration.
The payoff is massive.
Tourteau crab tiramisu with mango and light Indian spices is a taste bud-popping introduction.
The racan pigeon feuillete is a sculpted masterpiece artistically highlighted with foie gras, textured with nori and mellowed with sauteed artichokes.
Open daily, noon-10:30 p.m., Podium 6, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance St., Central, tel. +852 3196 8888, www.fourseasons.com
Best Japanese restaurant: Nadaman
At the Hong Kong outpost of one of Tokyo's top restaurants, kaiseki cuisine and culture are evident in every dish.
Among the super-fresh multi-course offerings, the broiled rockfish with salt is a glowing example of kaiseki cuisine's obsession with culinary detail.
Seasonal eating here is a grand experience, with local ingredients and plants used for garnish.
Those looking for more familiar Japanese offerings won't be disappointed. The teppanyaki, sushi and Kobe beef sukiyaki are all justly popular dinner choices.
Open daily, noon-3 p.m., 6-10 p.m. Nadaman, B2, Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong, 64 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui East Kowloon, tel. +852 2733 8751. www.nadaman.co.jp
Open daily, noon-3 p.m., 6:30-11 p.m. Nadaman, 7/F, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, tel. +852 2820 8570. www.nadaman.co.jp
Best vegetarian: Long Men Lou
Located within the atmospheric gardens of the Chi Lin Nunnery, Long Men Lou offers a gourmet vegetarian experience with dishes that reflect the ideals of a community dedicated to Buddhist values, cultural exposition, respect for nature and service to society.
"We are not into mock meats or overly processed food -- if it's a turnip, appreciate it as a turnip," says spokesman Ben Fung.
Our current favorite at Long Men Lou is the Yunnan morels with shiitake mushroom soybean cakes and asparagus, all done up in a memorable pumpkin sauce.
Open Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Long Men Lou, Nan Lian Garden, 60 Fung Tak Rd., Diamond Hill, tel. +852 3658 9388
Best condiment: Lung King Heen's XO sauce
To sample the renowned XO sauce at Lung King Heen, executive chef Chan Yan Tak prepared steamed duck liver flavored with abalone sauce and wok-fried Wagyu beef cubes with morel mushrooms.
This is a sauce that deserves such precious dishes and manic attention.
Lung King Heen also makes a vegetarian version of its secret sauce. The veggie version uses a mushroom base, rich with umami flavor.
Even better, you never have to be without a taste of XO sauce. It can be brought home in gift-packaged jars.
Open daily, noon-2:30 p.m., 6-10:30 p.m. Lung King Heen, Podium 4, Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance St., Central, tel. +852 3196 8880
Best texture food: Loaf On's abalone
Sam "Tiger" Chung doesn't just make deep-fried chili-salt abalone at his Sai Kung restaurant Loaf On. He babies it to life.
So, yeah, he can be gentle, but they don't call him "Tiger" for nothing. Because it's so easy to turn the expensive seafood into rubber, this is a dish that few chefs dare attempt.
Scrubbed, steamed, then dusted with flour ground from seven different grains, the abalone is finally fried for not more than 30 seconds before being seasoned in chili and salt.
With Chung's deft touch, the result is a firm abalone that practically massages your teeth. Food critic Michael Lam calls it "simply marvelous."
Open daily 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Loaf On, 49 Market St., Sai Kung, tel. +852 2792 9966