Tips from Above: A Hong Kong Culinary Tour with Chef Simon Rogan
This article is part of a guide to hong kong by FT Globetrotter
A perfect day in Hong Kong starts with a sweet pastry, something Hong Kongers excel at. If you follow the intoxicating aroma of freshly baked pastries, you can find a cream pie on every corner. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, you can try moon cake (a cake usually made with lotus seed paste and salted duck egg yolk). When done right, mooncakes are incredibly delicious – and very indulgent. I have to be pretty strict with myself when it comes to pastries when I visit.
Every time I return to Hong Kong, I like to find new places to eat in the bustling restaurants of Lamma Island, Kowloon City and Causeway Bay. I discovered amazing places from local and international chefs. Wandering the streets you can find some of the best ducks in Peking and char siu pork, then find yourself at an Italian restaurant serving delicious fresh pasta.
For lunch, I tend to head to Zagin Soba in Happy Valley. I fell in love with ramen from my trip to Hong Kong and this is the ultimate place. Zagin Soba uses chicken broth in its tsukemen, resulting in a really creamy broth filled with umami flavors. I love sitting at the counter, soaking up the sounds and smells of cooking.
Dining is a tougher decision in a city where you really are spoiled for choice. I’ve had the pleasure of dining a few times at Ecriture, Maxime Gilbert’s two-star restaurant that uses Japanese produce to create innovative contemporary French cuisine. I was blown away by the food and the amazing view. Then there’s the Tate Dining Room, where Chef Vicky Lau’s cuisine pushes all creative boundaries. The menu is Chinese cuisine executed with French finesse. We have worked with Vicky in the past, and her second Michelin star, which was awarded last year, is well deserved.
Otherwise, I love dining at L’Envol d’Olivier Elzer, which is always elegant. His food is an exemplary example of fine French cuisine and truly indulgent dining. And you can’t miss The Chairman, Danny Yip’s inventive ode to classic Cantonese cuisine. I really admire Danny’s philosophy of using the best local ingredients because it closely matches mine. The food at Chairman is out of this world. The entire Steamed Flower Crab is not only visually beautiful, it is delicate and incredibly sweet. It’s exciting to dine in the presence of a chef who I know is destined for great things.
For an after-dinner drink, I head to The Diplomat, a posh speakeasy by John Nugent. The interior transports you to 1920s America, with dim lighting and rich leather seats. The Julep champagne is sublime, with the addition of bergamot providing a vibrant citrus note. There are plenty of bars to choose from in Hong Kong, but The Diplomat is second to none when it comes to creating a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere.
My Aulis Hong Kong team suggested a few of their favorite places that are on my list to check out soon, including Yardbird, a highly recommended spot. Yakitori restaurant for casual dining, with delicious food, great beer, and a relaxed, lively setting.
Oli Marlow, the executive chef of Aulis, heads to Dodam Chicken in Causeway Bay for his favorite after-work dinner — he says it’s the best fried chicken in town. It is open until late and normally attracts the hospitality crowd as it is a relaxed place to unwind after a busy service.
One Harbor Road is a traditional Cantonese restaurant famous for its excellent dim sum. Oli recommends going with a large group so you can sample more from the menu (the sweet red bean soup is one of his favorites).
Moxie is a new restaurant from Shane Osborn, an old friend of mine. The menu is mainly vegetarian with a few fish dishes – this is one of the few restaurants in Hong Kong with a vegetable focus. I can’t wait to dine in what will no doubt be a trailblazer.
simon rogan is chef/patron of nearly a dozen restaurants around the world, including the three-star Michelin The Anvil in the Lake District
At the time of publication, restaurants in Hong Kong are operating with reduced hours under social distancing restrictions. April 21 marks the first phase of easing restrictions, including extending dine-in hours to 10 p.m.
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