Editor’s note: This is the latest in an occasional series of posts from Mr & Mrs Smith:
A woman cannot live on dim sum alone, so since touching down in Hong Kong in April, I have been on the prowl for hot new restaurants. In between pork buns and wontons, I’ve dined on zesty Mexican, elegant Italian, lip-smacking Spanish and tasty Japanese. Here are five of my favorite new finds.
The Mexican wave has made its way to Hong Kong, with the opening of more south-of-the-border boltholes than you can shake a sombrero at. Setting the benchmark is Brickhouse.
This hipster haunt is open until 5 a.m. on weekends, and is decked out with graffiti-daubed walls, industrial lighting and tattoo-toting staff. Kick off with a Cubano cocktail of tobacco-infused tequila, mezcal and grilled pineapple, then snap up soft tacos of venison, fish and citrus-infused chicken from Texas-born chef Austin Fry .
Another American making his mark is New York’s maverick Italian chef Mario Batali. Boasting sexy interiors and a see-and-be-seen terrace, Lupa delivers classic cucina with aplomb. Dine on handmade pastas and manly meat dishes in the low-lit restaurant, or cozy up on a couch at laid-back La Terrazza for an after-work Negroni and wood-fired pizza (the mushroom and Taleggio is my top pick).
Infinitely more low-key is Pizzeria Pubblico, near the escalator in Soho, where you can buy New York-style pie by the slice. Mozzarella, sauce and sausage are all made on site, elevating this cheap-and-cheerful eatery to an artisanal affair. At bare-topped tables, tuck into the eggplant and roast garlic pizza, strewn with pepperoni for extra bite.
We snaffled a seat at brand-spanking BCN just a week after returning from a gourmet stay in Barcelona, so needless to say chef Edgar Sanuy Barahona had a lot to live up to. Just 12 stools line the bar of this tiny Peel Street eatery, and Edgar does most of the cooking right there in front of you. Prices are steep for the trio of tasting menus, but you’ll be rewarded with luscious cured meats, tapas, gazpacho and sublime suckling pig.
Okay, so not technically a newcomer, but one-year-old Yardbird continues to generate that just-opened buzz. The pared-down blonde wood space is manned by fine young things, and rock ‘n’ roll yakitori comes courtesy of chef Matt Abergel, who previously manned the pans at Zuma. Bow down at the altar of the bird with tasty skewers and decadent paté served with chicken-fat toasts. A pumping soundtrack, house-made sake and cool whiskey cocktails seal the deal.
Need a nap after all of that fine feasting? Super-chic hotel The Upper House is just a 10-minute taxi ride from these Central restaurants, or continue on to nearby Causeway Bay and the Philippe Starck-designed J Plus Boutique Hotel. Both are home to swank eateries of their own.
For more eating and drinking tips in Hong Kong, see Mr & Mrs. Smith’s destination guide.