And just like that, it’s June. The month of scorching summer sun one minute then torrential downpours warning amber the next. A month of celebration for fathers who love quietly. A welcome long weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival. Seems to be hot, so dive inside and stay cool, maybe with some crushed ice or two. Better yet, relax at home with the air conditioning full blast and catch up on Netflix – after tasting these newcomers to town.
Chef Barry Quek’s latest addition is Whey, created in collaboration with ZS Hospitality Group. A spotlight on Quek’s culinary journey, namely Eurocentric influences, from previous stays abroad including In De Wulf in Belgium and Attica in Melbourne, fused with the classic Singaporean flavors of Quek’s childhood. The modern restaurant reflects Quek’s penchant for fresh, local and sustainable produce; a notion rooted in its nickname Whey, which is also a by-product of cheese making which is reused here as a seasoning. Backed by Snøhetta’s clean Scandinavian-style decor, the dishes are a refined riff on seasoned Singaporean dishes: Bak Kuh Teh peppery soup is pulled back and simplified like a pork chop topped with homemade pepper juice and jam. black garlic; and for the quintessential laksa, a reimagined edition with a base of konjac rice, served in a bed of curry laksa and finished with the wispy crab flakes of fresh flowers – an incredibly original and exquisite take on the potager and peddler classic.
Whey, UG / F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2693 3198
A partnership between Woolly Pig Hong Kong and Gweilo has graced the city’s culinary scene with Grain, an elegant gastropub that operates under moonlight as a research and development brewing facility for ‘Brewlab’ craft beers – all in the Cavernous lair that once belonged to Little Creatures. Besides tasty bar snacks – Wagyu beef flank tartare flavored with fermented red pepper paste; Lincolnshire Poacher hash browns and potatoes – designed to complement any of 24 beers which also include cocktails like pineapple mojito and pampelle spritz, there is also a tasting area 20-seater beer for workshops and meetings closer to the brewing process. In Grain’s back kitchen, chef Matthew Ziemski concocts a classic-contemporary take on modern British cuisine; comfort food with great flavors including a 48 hour cold-fermented Pinsa Roman style pizza and beef cheek simmered with a stout beer pie.
Grain, G / F, Boutique 1, New Fortune House, 3-5 New Praya, Kennedy Town, Hong Kong, +852 3500 5870
A restaurant name attached to the conversational slang of its roots, Can Lah, if you haven’t guessed it already, is the last Singaporean-Malaysian restaurant in town. Led by celebrity Singaporean chef Francis Chong Wui Choong, formerly president of the Society of Chinese Chefs in Singapore, it’s best to believe that the local flavors of the region will be authentically replicated here. Chef Chong’s signature chilli crab is braised and then fried for a richer palate. The hand-chopped fried shrimp roll is a recreation of a recipe passed down from Chef Chong’s grandmother, and of course, the classic laksa, is entirely reinvented by the chef and omits the nutty soup base. coconut with a sautéed edition that emphasizes each flavor component. Can Lah also features an inventive “Chef’s Table Singmakase” menu, where a selection of off-menu dishes will be served alongside signatures chosen at Chef Chong’s discretion.
Can Lah, Shop 3075, Podium Level 3, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2802 9788
Not the authentic taqueria You’ll find scattered across Mexico City, Pablo is a unique Mexican fusion restaurant conceptualized with a distinct Asian twist. Classic dishes, including tacos and burritos, are reinvented in new creations reminiscent of flavors closer to home. Tacos al pastos, for example, swaps classic pulled pork for a touch of Thai style, folding marinated pork neck and grilled pineapples between the cornmeal shell. Another is the Tamal de cochinita, with a Southeast Asian twist to the preparation of the traditional tamale – a pulled pork shoulder wrapped and cooked in banana leaves and topped with a coleslaw salad with pickled ginger and with red onion. A whole new facet on a cozy, no-frills staple, it’s worth hopping over the harbor for a sample, but probably on the sacred rituals of Tuesday tacos.
Pablo, G80-85, 66 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Exciting news and a breath of fresh air on the Italian scene: Crust Italian opens its doors in the historic Woo Cheong Pawn Shop this month. Rather than just another place for pizza and pasta, the new pasticceria will serve a tasty selection of buttery puff pastries – enjoyed with a sospeso coffee, ‘hanging coffee’, served upright as in the cobbled streets of Italy – and authentic Neapolitan street snacks reminiscent of the Campania region. A little taste before the official opening: Giri de Pasta, fried pasta frittata and Pizza Frito will be on the menu.
Italian crust, G / F, The Woo Cheong Pawn Shop, 60A – 66 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
On days when it’s hard to choose just one restaurant, Graham St Food Hall (GSFH), the latest of the city’s many food hall openings, will offer a simple solution. Serving up the classic from the comfort of five local vendors, the trendy NoHo station – furry companions welcome – is designed for undecided diners. Sample well-known loves and fare, including La Viña’s burnt Basque cheesecake, Motown Pizza’s & Wings’ strait-style deep dish, and the original Smoke & Barrels barbecue sandwiches (with the ‘s’!) Inspired by the southerners. . Hambāgā is new to the rotation, serving bowls of Japanese hamburg steak donburi in a savory sauce – the secret recipe curry is a known favorite.
Graham Street Food Hall, Boutique 3, 23 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 9612 0988
The kitchen of great things
Before you click, huge events at The Big Things Kitchen, which just opened in the bowels of Jardine House. Here, a vibrant and colorful selection of Japanese bento boxes, inspired by a Japanese philosophy on food harmony (“washoku”) and the number “five”. So expect to find designs that allude to the fifths scattered throughout the stylish and on-the-go space – including the five-compartment boxes and five bento sets, which add humor to the lunch routine. There are tailor-made meals for ‘Cheat Day’ or whenever you need a ‘Reboot’ or ‘Hangover Cure’, with menu favorites being the Badass Bento (HK $ 158): Wagyu pan-fried and slow-cooked Australian over sushi rice; or the Happy Friday Bento (HK $ 128), a delicious Japanese kurobota pork shabu-shabu topped with sesame ponzu sauce. Come back for new bentos from a changing list of collaborating chefs; most recent: Chief Tomiya Yu of Osaka.
The kitchen of great things, Boutique 7, LG / F, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong
Header image courtesy of Whey.