Although foodies make pilgrimages to Hong Kong for Cantonese
staples such as dim sum and barbecued pork, top-quality French or Japanese
has not been a draw. But it should be, according to the brand new 2013
Michelin Guide for Hong Kong and Macau.
The annual appraisal, which will be released in March in the
US but is already stocked in local bookstores, reveals
that although the three-star options in Hong Kong have held steady at four
restaurants, the number of two-star earners has jumped from 10 to 13, and nine
new restaurants nabbed a single star.
restaurants still make up the majority of included eateries, the new two-star
options are pricey Japanese joints: Sushi
Yoshitake and Ryu
Gin. Their stories are parallel. In both cases, famous Tokyo-based chefs (Masahiro Yoshitake and Seiji Yamamoto,
respectively) decided to branch out and open a second outlet outside of
Japan, choosing Hong Kong as the sweet spot, partly because they can easily
split their time between their two restaurants, but also because they can use
the same fresh ingredients flown in daily. Sushi Yoshitake is a tiny
eight-seater joint tucked inside The Mercer,
a boutique hotel in the Sheung Wan neighborhood. Ryo Gin is located in a glam
location on the 101st floor of Hong Kong's tallest skyscraper, the
International Commerce Centre in the area of West Kowloon.
There are also a whopping nine new restaurants that bagged a
single star. These include The
Principal, which serves creative, modern European dishes under the watchful
eye of a chef who hails from the Canary Islands, steak haven Strip House, and Zhejiang
Heen, which delivers lauded homestyle renditions of signature dishes such as braised
pork belly and squid from Zhejiang, a coastal Chinese province south of
Shanghai known for its tender, fresh seafood. Other notable mentions include
innovators such as French-Japanese fusion hotspot Tate
and Italian-French restaurant L'Altro.
Recent openings by internationally-known celebrity chefs such
York veterans Mario Batali, Michael White and Ferran Adria protégé Paco Roncero
are proving Hong Kong is a promising place for new dining ventures. What's
more, the current buzz around town is that Heston Blumenthal of the UK's
legendary Fat Duck restaurant, which
has three stars of its own, is scoping out options for a possible new location.
The most recent star chef to grace the city's shores,
though, is Jason Atherton, a wunderkind who broke free from Gordon Ramsay's
empire in 2010 and whose restaurants in London, Shanghai and Singapore
have attracted a lot of accolades in a short amount of time. His latest
venture, tiny tapas restaurant 22 Ships in
Hong Kong's Wan Chai neighbourhood, has been attracting hours-long waits (due
to its no-reservations policy) since its October opening.
Hana R Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel