World's food in Hong Kong

World's food in Hong Kong

I go to Rome and I know that there will be prosciutto in my days, bucatini in my nights. I go to Lisbon with an uncontestable agenda of the shellfish and the sausage that the Portuguese cook so enviably.

I go to Hong Kong with just a blank menu to be filled in any number of ways. That's what I love about it.

Technically, Hong Kong's cuisine is Cantonese and you should fit some dim sum into your dining. But what distinguishes this electrifying city is its almost unrivalled culinary internationalism.

It is not just a global crossroads for business. It is a global crossroads for food, one of a handful of commercial capitals, like New York and London, that have no particular concentration of ambitious, accomplished restaurants in any one genre. The most appealing and important places cut across all traditions.

During a visit I made to Hong Kong in 2013, two of the new spots drawing the most chatter were a Mexican restaurant, Brickhouse, and a Japanese yakitori, Yardbird.

When I returned recently and took a fresh inventory of newcomers that had generated significant enthusiasm, the list included many restaurants with Mediterranean moorings - Spanish, French, Italian or an amalgam of those.

One restaurant advertised a melding of Italian and Japanese. A spot specialising in upscale American hamburgers was a big hit, as was one specialising in Japanese curry.

And that's not counting the five standouts described below. Suffice it to say that in this one polyglot city across one hungry week, I ate the whole wide world.


Greeks like to think that they have some special secret for octopus that is tenderer than anywhere else, but they would be hard-pressed to outdo the kitchen here, which sculpted and arranged the thin columns of pale pink flesh into a sort of pyramid. It was octopus Legos.

I am an ardent fan of taramasalata, that Greek (and Turkish) spread of smoked fish roe and olive oil, and Souvla's achieved the perfect pitch of saltiness, along with an ethereal creaminess.

Those two dishes came towards the start of our meal, and I figured that they would be the high points. But there were taller peaks ahead.

One was gemista, a hearty, earthy casserole of potatoes, tomato sauce and peppers stuffed with rice.

The other was the slow-cooked lamb, ribbons of meltingly soft leg meat placed next to a glittering relish of pomegranate and a glass bottle filled with a tangy yogurt dressing.

While Souvla covers the hoary classics - spanakopita, moussaka - it gives some of them a facelift and it tacks on a long list of elaborate speciality cocktails, the focal point of a lively bar scene.

Souvla, 1/F Ho Lee Commercial Building, 40 D'Aguilar Street, Central; Dinner for two, without drinks or tip, averages HK$1,150 (S$199).


The main dining room opens to a terrace several storeys above the streets of central Hong Kong. On the night when I dined here, a gentle breeze blew in.

But that was not all that the terrace provided. Some leaf, shoot or blossom had come from the greenery out there, mere strides away. Forget farm-to-table, this was patio-to-table - and a vivid illustration of Nur's stated commitment to local products.

The restaurant's name recognises the first syllable of the chef's name (Nurdin Topham) as well as the Arabic word for "light".

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