Culinary Journeys

Hot in Hong Kong: 12 best restaurants for 2015

Chris Dwyer, for CNNUpdated 2nd April 2015
(CNN) — Eating in Hong Kong is no easy task.
Not because it's out of options -- there are more than 24,000 licensed places with pretty much every global cuisine imaginable -- but because it's a challenge to keep up with the culinary wonders that emerge daily.
From Michelin-starred fine dining to dai pai dong street eats, we've compiled a list that'll help to impress the local foodies during your coming visit.
Burger Circus
Courtesy Burger Circus

Talk of the town

These are the cutting-edge eateries that give diners an extra sprinkle of kudos by serving up dishes that'll make their Instagram followers jealous.
Lai Bun Fu
Staying in On Lan Street, the new Cantonese fine dining space Lai Bun Fu is helmed by former Hong Kong Government House executive chef Chung Kin Leung.
He's cooked for countless global leaders in his time and personally visits local markets daily to source ingredients. Signature dishes will include Sifu (master) crispy chicken with five condiments and the decadent-sounding mash-up of foie gras prawn cutlets on toast.
Lai Bun Fu, 5/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2564 3868
Burger Circus
While another gourmet burger joint wouldn't normally excite, the Black Sheep group has serious pedigree having opened some of the hottest restaurants of 2014, including Carbone and Ho Lee Fook.
It road-tested its burgers at the Clockenflap music festival in November and has just opened this train-influenced diner in Hollywood Road where everything -- including the sodas -- is made in-house.
Burger Circus, 22 Hollywood Road, Soho, Hong Kong; +852 2878 7787
In the heart of Hong Kong's always-happening Soho district, Saam is an intriguing new addition that claims to employ "the very latest kitchen technology in their culinary journey around the world."
As such, the menu is projected on the walls while a "refrigerated centrifuge" helps prep dishes including "foie gras candy" and "autumn fields."
Saam, 51 Graham Street, Soho, Hong Kong; +852 2645 9828
ON Dining Kitchen and Lounge
ON is the second Hong Kong venue from the team behind Upper Modern Bistro which won a Michelin star within months of opening in 2014.
ON is named after and located in the new restaurant hotspot of On Lan Street in Central district where chef Philippe Orrico oversees the kitchens of both the restaurant and lounge bar.
The crack team of Orrico, Jeremy Evrard, Giancarlo Mancino, and Nicolas Deneux take great pride in their sourcing so diners can expect fine wines alongside delicate patisseries, and one of the best cheese cellars in town.
ON Dining Kitchen and Lounge, 28-29/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2174 8100
Courtesy Pierre, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Old classics

One day you're in. The next day you're out.
That doesn't apply to these solid classics in Hong Kong.
They're the reliable goodies that locals can relax about falling in love with, without the fear that they may not last.
Trust us, our hearts break too often.
French culinary legend Pierre Gagnaire has a suite of restaurants around the world showcasing his philosophy of "facing tomorrow while respectful of yesterday."
In Hong Kong, Pierre -- the restaurant -- sits atop the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong and offers modern French gastronomy which reflects this ethos such as Gillardeau oysters with ginger, lamb with gorgonzola and couscous or Napoleon Cake of pastry, vanilla cream, coffee and caramel.
Pierre, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Hong Kong; +852 2522 0111
Yan Toh Heen
The signature Chinese restaurant of the Intercontinental Hotel boasts some of the finest views in Hong Kong alongside some of the city's most innovative Cantonese cuisine.
The attention to detail in the restaurant's design matches the plates, with two-Michelin-star chef Lau Yiu Fai serving playful, modern takes on dim sum, exemplary seafood and surprising desserts.
Yan Toh Heen, The InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 2313 2323
Cha chaan teng
A world away from fine dining in luxury hotels comes the venerable and much-loved cha chaan teng of Hong Kong.
Tsui Wah -- don't judge yet -- isn't only the most popular chain in Hong Kong, with most branches open 24 hours a day, they serve up Hong Kong classics such as condensed milk buns, Swiss sauce chicken wings and fishball soup to everyone from hungry clubbers to Cantopop stars.
Lan Fong Yuen is one of the oldest cha chaan teng in Hong Kong serving one of the best milk teas in town. It's also where instant noodle is cooked up as a gourmet dish.
If those are too mainstream, the low-key Hoi On Cafe, has been running for as long as Lan Fong Yuen. Its retro menu and interior would impress the most hardcore Canto-fan.
The spring onion with corned beef omelet on a thick open toast is culinary gold.
Tsui Wah, various locations across the city
Lan Fong Yuen, 2 Gage St., Central, Hong Kong; +852 2544 3895
Hoi On Cafe, 17 Connaught Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; +852 2540 6340
Hanabi's appetizer set
Courtesy Hanabi

The rising stars

These are places that are no longer in the first crush category but haven't yet graduated to full-blown love affair.
Good to try them now before it becomes impossible to get a date on their reservation lists.
The Continental
Rowley Leigh is a genuine pioneer of contemporary British cuisine and was cooking at London's Le Gavroche while Gordon Ramsay was having his kitchen nightmares in kindergarten.
At Continental in Hong Kong's Pacific Place, a beautiful space designed by the late Irish architect David Collins, Leigh's cuisine celebrates the culinary entente cordiale between the UK and France with dishes like griddled scallops with chestnut puree alongside knockout meats from the Josper grill.
The Continental, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong; +852 2704 5211
The Pawn
Like an old friend who just underwent an extreme makeover, the much-loved Pawn has reopened with a new look after closing for two months last year.
The interiors of this heritage building have been renovated and the culinary direction changed with the appointment of multi Michelin-awarded Tom Aikens.
His no-nonsense approach means a mix of British classics, some serious meat action along with more delicate and artful plates that showcase local product wherever possible.
The Pawn, 62 Johnston Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong; +852 2866 3444
Yakitori (grilled skewered food, notably chicken) has meant very good business for the likes of Yardbird.
Toritama, likewise, quickly found fans after opening in the late summer of 2014.
It's not for the squeamish, with more than 20 different chicken parts including aorta, neck and heart on the menu, but this outpost of the Tokyo original hasn't been short of diners to fill it nightly.
Toritama, G/F, 2 Glenealy, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2388 7717
This new Japanese restaurant opened at the Mira Cube Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui in December and focuses on omakase.
Omakase means "I'll leave it to you," so chef Michael Chan decides what to serve diners.
The space is calm and neutral in decor to allow the former Nobu chef's skills to shine for the 18 diners lucky to get a seat.
They can expect subtle Japanese cuisine including stellar sushi and sashimi.
Hanabi, 4/F, 6 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 2723 2568
Aberdeen Street Social
British chef Jason Atherton has rapidly expanded his global restaurant portfolio to add his third Hong Kong restaurant alongside 22 Ships and Ham n' Sherry.
This stylish conversion in the former Police Married Quarters has a downstairs bar with more formal dining upstairs, where dishes such as pig's trotter, cep risotto and roasted turbot show global influences and a sure hand at the stoves.
Aberdeen Street Social, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2866 0300