Our humble readers and veteran reviewers at The Loop HK have once again decided on their favorite places to grab a bite, go on a date, enjoy brunch and feast with friends for our annual 30 Best Eats awards. This year, there are many new faces as well as plenty of veterans on the list.
The Loop HK wishes a sincere congratulations to all of the winners and those who were shortlisted for the 30 Best Eats 2021 awards.
Read on for the final results!
This relative newcomer to Wan Chai has turned a lot of heads since its humble opening at the beginning of the year. Despite its cozy size, TMK Rap & Rolls packs a wealth of flavors in its signature temakis and nori bowls, all served with a side of rap in a spin-off to its original punk-rock themed Sheung Wan staple. The likes of Wagyu Beef tartare and soft shell crab temakis have won over much of Hong Kong and thus the Best New Restaurant in The Loop HK’s Best Eats 2021. As for the decor, it’s light on furniture, bright with colors and really rather pleasing.
Moonful Court, Shop A, G/F, 17A Moon Street, Wan Chai, 2779-9002.
Shortlist: Roji, Radical Chic, Whey, CENSU
The Diplomat is no stranger to receiving high calibre awards, this year taking out the best new entry title in Asia’s 50 Best Bars. Its elegant styling and stellar cocktail menu has it also crowned as Best New Bar in 30 Best Eats 2021. The Diplomat is known for its classics, including a whisky sour as well as its mini cocktails such as a negroni available at $50. In true diplomat fashion, the bar itself is located by a number of galleries and is home to a private area accessible only with a referral from another member.
Shop 1, LG/F, H Code, 45 Pottinger Street, Central, 3619-0302.
Shortlist: Barcode, Kyle & Bain, ARGO, Wood Ear
What does Punjab Club, Taqueria Super Macho and Fukuro all have in common? A Punjab grill house, a no-fuss Mexican eatery and a Japanese izakaya, respectively, it wouldn’t be surprising if you guessed very little. Behind the three and 22 other restaurants including Burger Circus and Canto Club is Black Sheep Restaurants, a story-themed hospitality group founded by Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark that is slowly but surely taking over Hong Kong’s dining scene, having opened more than two dozen restaurants in its just-about-10 years of operations.
Shortlist: Pirata Group, JIA Group, ZS Hospitality, Tastings Group
With two Michelin stars up his sleeve since 2008, Richard Ekkebus needs no introduction. As the executive chef of Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, he has turned heads in Hong Kong’s dining scene for many years. Described as a forward thinker, Ekkebus is known for developing menus that don’t just cater to fine dining tastes but also the next generation, with Amber focused on developing an interactive yet elegant experience for everyone, including millennials and beyond.
Shortlist: Vicky Cheng @ WING Restaurant, Li Yuet Faat @ Ming Court, Manav Tuli @ Chaat, Olivier Elzer @ L’Envol
If you’ve ever warmed a stool by the bar or, more simply, even enjoyed the view from the balcony of Sugar at EAST Hong Kong, then it’s every bit likely your drink was shaken, mixed or poured by Alvin Ching. The fresh-faced mixologist isn’t your average bartender, but rather one that likes to toy with your emotions … in an ever so delightful sense. A number of his cocktails were inspired from memories. For one that is sad, he’ll add a pinch of lemon or salt, an ingredient, which he says, represents tears that impart bitterness.
Shortlist: Mackenzie Ross @ Cruise, Veronica Lam @ Hugger Mugger, John Nugent @ Kyle & Bain, Leo Ko @ Alibi- Wine, Dine, Be Social
The experience at this humble bar and restaurant at Eaton HK begins outside via a small glass lift on Pak Hoi Street. Patrons ride to its fourth floor location via a neon-lit and retro glass elevator, which offers a glimpse of the dedicated lifestyle space that is the Mong Kok lifestyle destination, plush with an in-house cinema, co-working areas and a pool. Terrible Baby shares the neon-lit bar experience but outside lies a lush outdoor space, fitted with outdoor lounges and a number of plants. The menu here doesn’t conform to that one might expect of a rooftop bar, serving up the likes of okonomiyaki shrimp toast alongside freak shows — a cocktail concocting passionfruit syrup, lager and Thai red chilli syrup.
4/F, Eaton HK, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, 2710-1866.
Shortlist: SKYE, Red Sugar, Sugar, Cruise
Progressive and upscale dishes from Michelin-starred chefs including a steamed spotted garoupa filet and the breaded stuffed crab shell have won over some of Hong Kong’s biggest critics at Ming Court in Mongkok’s Cordis, Hong Kong hotel. These dishes pair nicely with champagne in a chic yet elegant venue, themed in moon-lit tones.
6/F, 555 Shanghai Street, Cordis, Mong Kok, 3552-3028.
Shortlist: Yat Tung Heen, Sha Tin 18, Man Ho Chinese Restaurant, Mott 32
Set upon the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, The Aubrey had a lot of expectations to live up to ahead of its grand opening in February — and meet them it has. As expected of an Izakaya, there’s a healthy number of highballs to be enjoyed alongside the likes of a wagyu oxtail and bone marrow fried rice, a plentiful sushi and sashimi menu and even a brunch menu.
Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road Central, Central, 2825-4001.
Shortlist: Obp.ㅇㅂㅍ, Yokai, Sushi Kuu, Hansik Goo
Bibi & Baba sure brought spice to the neighborhood late last year when they opened their first Wan Chai outfit. Described as a marriage of cultures, the restaurant, opened in partnership between JIA Group and a Singaporean duo, fuses Indonesian and Malay dishes with Chinese ingredients in a cuisine style known as Nyonya. While you will find the likes of nasi lemak and laksa here, it won’t be cooked in the way you’ve come to know.
1-7 Ship Street, Wan Chai, 2555-0228.
Shortlist: Whey, Rajasthan Rifles, Chaat, J.A.M
Louise made quite the entrance to Hong Kong mid-2019 on the back of its owner, chef Julien Royer of Odette in Singapore, taking the coveted spot of Asia’s best restaurant from four-time winner Gaggan from Bangkok. The two-floor restaurant bar has continued its winning streak this year, awarded best French cuisine in Hong Kong by The Loop HK’s readers. Set across a 1930s colonial style layout, Louise serves an elegant à la carte fine dining set upstairs and an all-day snacking menu downstairs by the bar.
35 Aberdeen Street, PMQ, Central, 2866-0300.
Shortlist: BELON, Caprice, LPM Restaurant & Bar, Batard
It’s hard to say no to a Lasagna Fritta — which is part of the reason why the humble Frank’s Italian American has taken the top spot this year among the city’s Italian restaurants. Part of the charm lies not just within the venue itself or in the menu but rather the warm hospitality that is offered. Not far from Lan Kwai Fong, Frank’s serves as a great place to hang out with friends while enjoying a Tom Collins and live DJs.
Harilela House, G/F-1/F, 79 Wyndham Street, Central, 9097-9730.
Shortlist: Pirata, Mostaccioli Brothers, Grissini’s, Octavium
The Optimist needs no introduction. A Wan Chai staple since late 2015, the three-floor bar and grill is known widely for its seafood, a favourite of which is the juicy lobster rice. Among other top contenders are the “daddy’s tomahawk”, 1.4kg monster made of Australian angus beef ribeye, served on the bone, of course. At its core, The Optimist serves northern Spanish cuisine and a side of fruity cocktails.
G/F-2/F, 239 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, 2433-3324.
Shortlist: Quiero Mas, Ando, Rubia, La Rambla
BEDU has enjoyed a solid almost three years in Sheung Wan, where its modern Middle Eastern cuisine has adjusted well to the palates of well-heeled locals. Part of the beauty of BEDU is not just the colorful crowd it draws, but its colorful dishes. The likes of beetroot labneh and Turkish kisses with a healthy amount of cream and strawberries sit well with the restaurant’s pink-lit bar.
40 Gough Street, Central.
Shortlist: Artemis & Apollo, Maison Libanaise, ACME, FRANCIS
In its 16th year, Amber has continually put Hong Kong on the world map for its award-winning cuisine. Head chef Richard Ekkebus, also this year’s best chef, has long advocated against what he refers to as “museum restaurants”: those who just never seem to change their menu. “Food shouldn’t be set in stone” is his motto. One of Amber’s most celebrated dishes is the Corn ˚ Kristal Schrenki Caviar ˚ Seawater ˚ Sudachi˚ (pictured).
Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 2132-0066.
Shortlist: Arbor, L’Envol, Caprice, HAKU
While DiVino Patio – Ristorante Bar Pizzeria is as casual as they come, its menu packs enough punch to knock your socks off during a midday meal. The cozy red-brick outfit is charmingly quaint, with an old-fashioned Italian grocer appeal to it — the outdoor terrace adds an aflresco touch. Beyond its simple chalkboards and deli counter is a bountiful menu of handmade pastas and fresh catch by chef Omar Agostini, who’s worked with the likes of Alain Ducasse.
Shop 11, 1/F, Causeway Centre, 28 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2877-3552.
Shortlist: Lady Nara, Sichuan Lab, The Commune, La Creperie
Paying homage to old Parisian steakhouses, the La Vache! restaurants are hard to miss and even harder to forget. Who hasn’t seen the neon-lit cow hanging outside their hallmark Central branch? Inside, each venue consists of wine bottle-lined walls, red and white checkered table clothes and a menu of prime rib eye, salted frites and organic salad. It’s simple, but it stands out.
Shortlist: Pici, Classified, Green Common, The Butchers Club Burger
Dining at Zuma is a fun affair. Brightly colored decor, an array of Japanese dishes and a number of cocktails sure make it easy to spark up a conversation. With a concept that’s proved successful for just shy of two decades across the globe, including branches in Istanbul, Dubai, Miami, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Datca Peninsula, New York, Rome and Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that Zuma is a favorite pick for a date night.
5-6/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, 3657-6388.
Shortlist: Divino – Wine Bar & Restaurant, Mirage Bar & Restaurant, Wooloomooloo (Wan Chai), WHISK
If there’s one place where kids can make a mess and not draw the attention of every diner within a 10-meter radius, it’s Pizza Express North Point. The family-oriented casual restaurant is a popular choice for the city’s parents, with baby chinos, kid-size pizzas and pastas and hot chocolate winning over what’s often a hard-to-please crowd. Aside from the kid-oriented meals, there’s a number of children-friendly activities provided like color-in menus and games to keep the youngsters busy.
Shop 218-219, 2/F, Phase 2, Harbour North, 123 Java Road, North Point, 3164-1311.
Shortlist: El Charro Mexicana Cantina, Oolaa (Tseung Kwan O), Hapi, The Salted Pig (Sai Wan Ho)
Hongkongers are savvy folks and it’s not surprising we love a good deal. From coffee and bagel combos to happy hours, cheap Tuesdays and two-for-one deals, the city’s dwellers are always scouring the city in search of their favorite specials. This year the prized lunch deal title belongs to Pici (Wan Chai), which deals in two, three and four-course offers where you can add a cuppa for as little as $10. From $98 one can enjoy a two-course meal of tagliolini arrabiatta and cauliflower soup, with a tiramisu dessert at just $10 more.
G/F, 16 St Francis Yard, Wan Chai, 2755-5523.
Shortlist: Sushi Nyoi, 11 Westside, CIAK, Yu
Cruise is known for its beautiful sunset views over Victoria Harbour but equally as impressive is the selection of brunch dishes it serves up. A combination of warm sun and a lunch and bubbles menu that includes cocktails, prosecco and Indonesian beef short ribs on the rooftop of the Hyatt Centric make for a great place to relax on a weekend. A healthy number of salads, wok-fried noodle dishes and pork belly rice line the a la carte menu.
23/F, West Tower, Hyatt Centric Victoria Harbour Hong Kong, 1 North Point Estate Lane, North Point, 3896-9898.
Shortlist: Honjo, Zuma, CATCH (Quarry Bay), Holt’s Cafe
The Butterfly Room’s afternoon tea has become so popular since the Rosewood Hotel opened in 2019 that it can take up to two months to nab a seat. But well worth it, say The Loop HK raiders, who among thousands of others have tried the offering firsthand. Expect decadent cheesecakes, scrolls, tuna and avocado numbers, handmade chocolate, scones and, of course, tea. Talk about a pleasant afternoon!
Rosewood Hong Kong Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3891-8732.
Shortlist: SEVVA, Garden Lounge, Palm Court, GREEN
Perhaps one of the most controversial of all debates is who offers Hong Kong’s best dim sum. There are many contenders, from the likes of high-end establishments to streetside venues serving well into the wee hours of the evening. Chef Suen Kam Sing’s Dynasty has won the top spot in the 30 Best Eats 2021 list, for its impressive offering of shredded turnip baked puffs and steamed crab dumplings and its 600-strong wine list to match. In the evenings, Dynasty serves fine-dining Cantonese cuisine.
Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, 2584-6972.
Shortlist: Yat Tung Heen, Social Place (Central), Fook Lam Moon (Wan Chai), Duddell’s
In the heart of the pandemic last year, MANA! opened its biggest branch yet in the center of Soho. The health food specialist has become a go-to for not just Hong Kong’s vegetarian community but a large health-conscious crowd. Aside from its vegan coffee, shakes and cakes, the main draw is MANA!’s flatbread range, which can be packed with nutella, peanut butter and banana in the mornings and pickled peppers and parsley come evenings.
8 Staunton Street, Central, 5501-7583.
Shortlist: TREEHOUSE, Soil to Soul, Ma…and the Seeds of Life, Gaia Veggie (Causeway Bay)
% Arabica has made waves across Asia from Bangkok to Singapore to the trendy surrounds of Kennedy Town for its premium coffee offering. Aside from a typical Italian espresso menu you can find the likes of a Spanish latte served with condensed milk; matcha lattes; and sparkling lemonade. Part of the charm here is the stand-out interior design that has become synonymous across Asia.
Shop 4, Grand Fortune Mansion, 1 Davis Street, Kennedy Town, 2326-4578.
Shortlist: Tealosophy, Teakha, OMOTESANDO KOFFEE Hong Kong Lee Tung, Cafe Sausalito Studio
Pane e Latte’s panetteria and gelateria quickly garnered the support of its seaside locals in its posh Stanley home. As it turns out, pistachio and raspberry bombolini, hazelnut choux and an Italian coffee menu are a treat by the beach. This year’s award leaves no room for doubt that Pane e Latte has brought a little slice of the Amalfi Coast to the urban oasis that is Hong Kong.
G/F, U-c Court, 25 Stanley Market Road, Stanley, 2337-7221.
Shortlist: Bakehouse (Wan Chai), Passion. Bakery Cafe (Wan Chai), DANG WEN LI by Dominique Ansel (Tsim Sha Tsui), Levain at PMQ
Tsim Sha Tsui is home to a number of hotel buffets, but The Market’s selection of four different kinds of buffet for four very different crowds is a standout. Ranging from $148 to $1000, The Market offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with a menu that includes croissants, champagne, durian ice cream, snow crab legs and classic dim sum. Beyond a little indulgence is the buffet staycation, an offering that pairs two buffet packages with a one-night stay.
Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 3400-1388.
Shortlist: Cafe Renaissance, FEAST (Food by EAST), The Astor, Cafe TOO
Setting foot inside Mott 32’s calligraphy room feels a lot like walking into an underground metro with its alcoved ceiling. More than 2000 calligraphy brushes line the walls, all paying patronage to the ancient Chinese art. The restaurant decor, with all of its industrial-like interior set in a warm orange tone, is an experience in itself sprawled across a 7,500 square-foot space. Behind the design is architect Joyce Wang, known for such clever and interactive spaces.
Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central, 2885-8688.
Shortlist: MONO, Hutong, Interval | Farmacy, Salisterra
Tucked neatly into Central’s Li Yuen Street West since July 2016, R&R Bagels quickly branched out from its flagship venue to include two other stores in both Quarry Bay and Wan Chai. Popular orders include the everything bagel, jam-packed with feta cheese and smashed avocado, with a coffee to go.
Shortlist: GO by Black Sheep Restaurants, JIA Everywhere, The Pizza Project, NOSH
The ARGO martini from the eponymously named bar at the Four Seasons Hong Kong is this year’s most appreciated cocktail, a spin on the classic martini built with a gin base and forever changing seasonal hydrosols. The recent gin of choice has been an Australian number from Never Never distillery in the country’s Adelaide Hills region. Its subtle hints of kalamata olives, lemon thyme and somerton almonds hit the nose just delicately so.
Shortlist: Irish Coffee @ The Diplomat, Paloma de Oaxaca @ COA, Hobnail @ The Pontiac, A Moveable Feast @ Penicillin
For this year’s best dish, it appears that the saying all good things must come to an end is the case. The most coveted dish for 30 Best Eats 2021 was La Langoustine de Loctudy, a staple of L’Envol’s 2020 summer menu. Need a new fixation? The restaurant has also recommended Le Caviar Ocietre W3 – Brittany Razor clams with caviar, or ‘L’Oursin D’Hokkaido’ – Hokkaido sea urchin with gamberoni prawn, as new signature dishes to try.
Shortlist: Carnaroli Risotto @ Radical Chic, Unagi Paella @ CENSU, Lemongrass Roasted Chicken @ Lady Nara, Corn ˚ Salicornia ˚ Seawater ˚ Sudachi ˚@ AMBER (vegetarian menu)