10 new Hong Kong restaurants to try in 2018

CNN  — 

For international visitors and locals alike, one of Hong Kong’s biggest draws is the vast array of dining options.

The staggering assortment changes constantly as restaurants come – and go – with dizzying speed.

2018 is no exception, with a whole raft of new openings that will surely tempt diners from destinations all over the world.

Here are 10 of the most exciting new restaurants when you travel to Hong Kong:

1. Popinjays, The Murray

One of the most talked-about restaurant openings of the year will sit inside a new hotel with an old soul.

A $1 billion heritage renovation project by Foster + Partners, The Murray, Hong Kong has transformed the namesake building – a 50-year-old architectural landmark in Central – into a luxury hotel.

The address features a number of eating and drinking spots, but Popinjays, on the top floor, looks to trump them all.

That’s thanks in part to the rooftop restaurant’s panoramic views of Hong Kong’s skyline and Hong Kong Park below.

Set to open this July, Popinjays will feature seasonal menus and shared platters, seemingly inspired by epicurean destinations around the world.

Additional highlights include an extensive cocktail list and The Aviary, a 14-guest private dining room surrounded by glass.

Popinjays, The Murray, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3141 8888

2. Yardbird

Hong Kong's go-to yakitori place has a new space and bigger menu.

Yardbird, famed for its beak-to-tail yakitori (skewered chicken) and top-notch cocktails, has been a go-to for locals and visitors alike since opening in the city’s Soho district in 2011.

Late last year, the team moved the perennially popular operation to the western district of Sheung Wan, meaning a much larger space along with a bigger menu.

That’s good news for those after a seat, but less so for regulars who loved the intimacy and buzz of the original home, just minutes from Hong Kong’s nightlife hub.

Regardless, the menu is just as enticing, the Japanese-inspired drinks just as potent, and the vibe still one of the city’s most amiable.

A few intriguing dishes – such as fried rice with decadent bacon XO sauce and charcoal-grilled seasonal veggies – have been added to the skewer-centric menu, but thankfully the rightfully legendary KFC (“Korean Fried Cauliflower”) and sweetcorn tempura – remain.

Yardbird, 154-158 Wing Lok St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2547 9273

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Must-try eats in Old Town Central, Hong Kong
01:12 - Source: CNN

3. Big Sur

If you find yourself pining for a taste of California while in Hong Kong, there are few better options than all-day dining joint Big Sur.

The name (an homage to the famous coastline), woody interiors and ample alfresco space set the scene for an authentic West Coast experience.

On the menu, you’ll find barbecue dishes like Santa Maria Tri Tip (traditionally slow-cooked over an open flame), whole seabass and pulled pork burgers.

Latin American flavors play a major role, too: “Baja” tacos come generously stuffed with shrimp and housemade “Big Sur-izo” sausage, while a giant chunk of halloumi arrives atop a Salvadorean pupusa (a tortilla pancake filled with black beans).

The bar is another draw, promising an impressive 14 local brews from Hong Kong’s Young Master Brewery, not to mention 20 types of tequila and eight varieties of mezcal.

Health-conscious types need not fear: Salads, smoothies and fresh juices (that turn into cocktails come evening) are all up for grabs.

Big Sur, 22 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2529 3001

4. Forbidden Duck

Self-styled “Demon Chef” Alvin Leung needs no introduction to Hong Kong diners.

Behind three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation and upscale Bib n Hops Korean restaurants, the larger-than-life chef tackles traditional Chinese favorites in his latest venture: Forbidden Duck.

Located in prestigious Times Square tower, the Chinese restaurant serve classics Cantonese staples, such as dim sum and char siu (barbecued pork), roasted pork, plus duck in myriad ways.

The signatures include traditional Peking duck with pancakes and all the accouterments, or more contemporary slow-cooked duck.

For the latter, Leung pairs the roasted bird with orange-infused bao (steamed buns). The result? Duck sandwiches, best enjoyed when doused in the chef’s homemade sauce.

To enjoy the duck dishes, we’d recommend calling ahead and securing yourself a half- or whole portion of the bird, as the restaurant has limited servings per day.

Forbidden Duck, Shop 1001B, 10/F, Times Square, 1 Matheson St, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; +852 2882 8600

5. Beet

Try BBB -- Barry's Bread and Butter -- and you'll see why chef Barry Quek is proud to put his name to the food.

Located in the Gough Street neighborhood – a popular dining and shopping enclave on the western edge of Central – Beet is a welcome addition to the Hong Kong culinary scene.

Diners can expect beautifully composed dishes at the hands of Chef Barry Quek and his young international team.

Quek brings serious culinary cred to Beet, having spent time at respected restaurants, such as Joël Robuchon in Singapore, Attica in Melbourne and Portland in London.

You’ll taste both classic and progressive techniques in the restaurant’s set menu, where standouts include Te Mana lamb from New Zealand with eggplant and a beautiful dish of raw hamachi (Japanese yellowtail) with cream.

Given the quality of the BBB – or Barry’s Bread and Butter – it’s no surprise that chef Quek is proud to put his name to the food.

The setting is as relaxed and unstuffy as the cooking, with wide-open windows facing the street.

Beet, 6 Kau U Fong, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2824 389

6. La Rambla

Few Hong Kong addresses come more sought-after than the International Finance Centre, which towers over the city’s famous Victoria Harbour.

New Spanish restaurant La Rambla managed to secure a piece of prime real estate inside IFC – complete with a 100-seat terrace and enviable views.

From this lofty harborside address, Chef Ferran Tadeo showcases Catalan-inspired dishes, as well as one of the city’s largest collections of Spanish wines.

Having grown up in Catalonia and worked at the legendary elBulli restaurant, Tadeo’s plates and ingredients are as authentically Spanish as they come.

Across the menu, you’ll find 120-day hung Galician beef – direct from Barcelona’s top steakhouse Carles Tejedor – huge red carabinero shrimp, and generous paellas.

We’d recommend setting aside room for dessert – the decadent dulce de leche is a must-try.

La Rambla, 3/F, Shop 3071, IFC Mall, 8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2661 1161

7. La Vache!

La Vache isn’t wholly new to Hong Kong – a location already exists in Soho – but the recently opened Tsim Sha Tsui branch brings the joy of bottomless steak frites to Kowloon.

The steakhouse only does one thing, but they do it well.

The simple yet effective set menu kicks off with a big leafy salad showered in walnuts and classic French vinaigrette, followed by steak that’s cooked to your liking.

Equally important, the fries are unlimited and the accompanying secret sauce is dangerously addictive.

When you’ve had your fill of savories, a towering display of desserts tempt with French classics, such as Paris-Brest – praline cream and caramelized hazelnut in a choux pastry.

Rounding out the experience, pitchers of wine, friendly service and an excellent soundtrack create a convivial atmosphere.

La Vache!, 12 Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 2666 6818

8. New Punjab Club

New Punjab Club's dishes from the tandoor are the stars.

Hong Kong has historically been somewhat bereft of quality South Asian restaurants, which makes the New Punjab Club a notable entrant.

With Michelin-starred chef Palash Mitra (formerly of London’s Gymkhana) at the helm, the stylish 40-seat tandoor grill house shines a spotlight on Punjabi cuisine.

Hailing from the Pakistani and Indian province, Punjabi food generally revolves around hearty sharing dishes and tandoor-fired meats.

A roving gin and tonic cart will pique your palate, as you choose from seekh kebab – an excellent rendition of the fragrant, spiced lamb classic – keema pau (milk buns with spiced mutton), lentil dumplings, slow-roasted shrimp, lamb shank, and tandoori chicken.

Likewise, the roti and naan flatbreads are first class, as are the colonial era-inspired desserts.

New Punjab Club, 34 Wyndham St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2368 1223

9. Sushi Saito

Hong Kong’s Four Seasons hotel already has five Michelin stars to its name, and the forthcoming opening of storied Sushi Saito restaurant is yet another feather in its cap.

Slated to open this March, the Hong Kong location marks the first international venture for legendary Chef Takashi Saito, behind the three-Michelin-starred Tokyo restaurant of the same name.

Saito has a reputation for exacting standards, attention to detail and an ability to master the balance between flavor, temperature and texture.

At the new Hong Kong location, every piece of sushi will be expertly crafted by hand using only the most coveted fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, flown in daily.

Each ingredient, from soy sauce to vinegar, will also be identical to those from Tokyo, so there’s much to look forward to.

Sushi Saito, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 3196 8888

10. FUMI

Another Japanese addition, FUMI recently opened in the ever-popular Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district in Central.

From its sixth floor perch inside California Tower, the restaurant promises to take diners on a culinary journey around Japan.

That means yakitori skewers, ramen noodles, full kaiseki set menus, sushi, sashimi and wagyu beef will all feature on the menu – much of which is prepared at a long, open chef’s counter.

In addition, the restaurant also plans to fly in celebrity Japanese guest chefs, focusing on seasonal ingredients for short pop-ups.

Meaning “culture” in Japanese, FUMI features handpicked artwork textiles, furniture – even sake glassware – chosen by the meticulous owners.

To further celebrate Japanese culture, the restaurant will host culture experiences, such as dance performances, calligraphy demonstrations, sake tasting classes and more.

FUMI, 6/F, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, 30-36 D’Aguilar St, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2328 3302