Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 New Restaurants to Watch

Spent the beginning of this year starving for new restaurants to feature at work... and now, it's like they're mushrooming! Have had this post in my Drafts folder for like three or four weeks now, so I figured I'd better put it up today, before the so-called new restaurants are no longer new. The Top 10 notables:

Blue Butcher

This dinner-only steak-house varietal features its own dry-ageing room (purportedly the only in Hong Kong), with big sharing plates and big hunks of meat. Ironically, I thought the steak was the least spectacular of the three entrees I tried. The other two, however, were like... heaven in your mouth, and included the veal cheek and pork. The venue is chic New York-ish glam.


This sister restaurant to Blue Butcher is also opened by the folks who brought you Play (that nightclub that serves a surprisingly mean waygu rice-burger, yum, probably because its menu was designed by Sushi Kuu's Satoru). The hipster vibe is strong here. Look for grungy-slash-waify-slash-dirty-cute waitstaff, mean soft tortillas, a long list of Tequila shots and a boppin' soundtrack. The vibe is reminiscent of Yardbird; the food isn't quite as spot on though, but that hardly matters thanks to a more-conveninent-yet-still-alternative location (in the alley next to old Leidou) and the fact that nobody in Hong Kong has properly nailed Mexican food anyway.


High-end Japanese joint doing a bunch of categories -- sushi/sashimi, robatayaki and more. Backed by the Prive boys and singer Mango Wong, it's got pedigree and a sweet spot on On Hing Terrace in the same building as Play. I haven't tried it yet, but the operation was pulled together by a restaurant manager poached from ICC's celebrated Inakaya, so it looks promising... as long as it's not eternally plagued by bankers and celeb-types. (Photo stolen from Erica Fong's instagram.)


From the guy who brought you The Drawing Room and Hainan Shaoye comes Ammo, an Italian and tapas joint situated in a beautiful glass box where an ammunitions depot used to sit, right on the edge of Asia Society in Admiralty. Gorgeous interiors as well as inspired pastas -- go for the fresh, and make sure the order includes the burrata ravioli. The pappardelle is also pretty awesome. Ressies are needed like a month in advance. I heard yesterday that weekend reservations for four or more aren't available till mid-September, and weekday not till end-August. Cray crayyyy.


Haven't been to this Wanchai/Admiralty-straddling Japanese, but saw a picture of TRUFFLE SOMEN in Crave Mag and I can't stop thinking about it. Go and let me know how it is. Hear it's pricey, and relatively empty, so a bit weird, but still good!

View62 by Paco Roncero

The icky revolving restaurant becomes a still-cheesy-but-at-least-the-food-is-good revolving restaurant, with food helmed by elBulli alum Paco Roncero. The venue is still missing some je ne sais quoi, but the food is beautiful, inventive and tastes good, even if it's a lot of what you can have in his other restaurant in Madrid. Go for the 14-course tasting menu at $1400 over the 16 (an extra $400) or the two boring set dinners. Bring your camera if you're Asian, the view is awesome. Beware, the reservations people are horrible. Two of two people I know that tried to book it were told they would be emailed the menu...and neither ever received them. This is important because you MUST preorder the tasting menu beforehand, or you'll be stuck with the severely mediocre set dinners.

Pizzeria Pubblico

They sent two pizzas to my office which were well-received by my co-workers. I was on a low-carb thingie and didn't try any. The reviews have been generally pretty stellar, although my hype-killing friend Chris says it's only so-so. "Pubblico is for hipsters." Truest statement I never thought of in a long time.

Tate Dining Room

I don't think it will please everyone, but I really liked the stories behind Tate. The first time I encountered chef/owner Vicky Lau was on a boat trip, when I was pigging out on lobster salad rolls that were so good, and someone told me "that girl made them!" "That girl" now has a restaurant of her own purveying French-Japanese fine cuisine, grand opening is tonight, and I find the food innovative, interesting and definitely something to watch. Photos of food from this restaurant have been clogging my Instagram feed for a couple of weeks already now, so hopefully it won't get booked out like Ammo!

Nico's Spuntino Bar and Restaurant

The Staunton's Group finally ventures out of its namesake street... up one escalator to Elgin. It fits neatly into the Soho set with perfect post-beer platters and tapas -- think deep-fried cheese, croquettes, suckling pig. Pastas are solid, filling and tasty enough, definitely aiming to crowd-please rather than set new standards. Best part of the night is dessert: order from the I-Scream gelato cart, and get the Lychee, Pistachio or Earl Grey. Only $30 a scoop!


All I know, and all you need to know, is that this is a noodle place in Wanchai that serves up their steaming bowls with accompaniments like Spanish ham, huadiao-infused eggs and other premium ingredients. Time Out says it's good, so I believe them.

As an honorary 11th, I also want to try out new Spanish private kitchen, BCN. It sounds great but my useless friend Karen who doesn't know what a blueberry is said overpriced and not so great. But what does she know, she only eats pasta and froyo with no fruits in it.

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