While Hong Kong has long been a go-to destination for top-notch Chinese food, it is now becoming a stomping ground for foreign celebrity chefs, with Mario Batali and Paco Roncero joining the several culinary wunderkinds who have set up outposts in the Chinese territory.
Famed chefs Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Nobuyuki
"Nobu" Matsuhisa and Pierre Gagnaire all have eponymous restaurants in
Hong Kong, and visiting overseas chefs often make guest appearances in
the hotel dining scene. But a trendier set of chefs is flocking
to the city, not from the schools of traditional French or high-end Japanese
cuisine, but rather ones who have mastered, for example, molecular gastronomy
and home-style Italian cooking.
The celebrity chefs are capitalizing on the enthusiasm
for vaunted pedigrees from abroad, with their restaurants joining the crowds of
foreign brands that are clamouring for the attention of Hong Kong's diverse, affluent
Batali's latest project, Lupa, opens its doors on 12 April in
the heart of Hong Kong's Central district. Alongside his business partner,
restaurateur and MasterChef judge Joe Bastianich, Batali is teaming up with
local restaurant group Dining
Concepts to launch a restaurant that will serve signature New
York-style Italian dishes with a twist, like ricotta gnocchi with sweet fennel
sausage, crispy duck with salsify and saba, and Apician spiced dates with
mascarpone. La Terreza, the restaurant’s alfresco dining area, will serve a
separate, lighter menu.
Last year, Dining Concepts opened Al Molo, an
Italian restaurant in the Harbour City mall that is the first overseas venture
of famed American chef Michael White. His US outlets --among them Marea, Alto and Convivio in New York -- earned critical success and
developed a passionate following among foodies (though the latter two are now
With an opening scheduled for May, View 62 by Paco Roncero, a
circular revolving restaurant atop a glittering Wan Chai skyscraper, will be helmed
by a protégé of Ferran Adria. Roncero, who earned two Michelin stars for La Terraza del Casino in Madrid, is introducing Hong
Kong to his special brand of "nouvelle cuisine" -- European fare
infused with the innovative principles and scientific techniques of molecular
gastronomy. From the 62nd floor of the Hopewell Centre, take in
the view of Victoria Harbour and the mountainous interior of Hong Kong Island
while feasting on Roncero's cutting-edge cuisine.
Hana R Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel