The temperature may have dropped, but things are certainly heating up in restaurant kitchens across Hong Kong.
With spicy Indian curries, saucy Mexican dishes, and exotic tiki cocktails featuring among this month’s hottest new menu items, you’ll be warming up in no time. So why not brave the cold and get munching at these top venues.
Spicy Indian Cuisine at JoJo
Tucking into a spicy curry or two is a surefire way to warm up during the cold spell, and we know just the spot to get your hearty dose. Hong Kong’s most well-known and loved Indian restaurant JoJo is whipping up quite the feast with its extensive new menu which features traditional dishes inspired by age-old recipes from various regions in India. Titled ‘The Grand Trunk (GT) Road’, the menu takes diners on a culinary journey from Chittagong, Bangladesh to West Bengal, then across North India through Delhi, towards Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan, and finally Kabul, Afghanistan.
Signature dishes include Dhansak (a Parsi/Zorastrian dish made of lamb and lentils); Jujeh Kebab (an Iranian specialty cooked overnight with saffron marinated grilled boneless chicken); Lahori Kadai Chicken (a Pakistani stir-fried chicken tossed with onions, tomatoes, and the chef’s secret spice), and Afghani Baigan (a popular eggplant dish with yogurt, garlic, and mint from Afghanistan). We were lucky enough to try all of the above and can assure you they are absolutely incredible — especially the eggplant. Excellent quality meat, tangy homemade sauces, and just the right level of spice make this a top choice when it comes to curbing those curry cravings.
While you’re there, check out the gorgeous new interior, which takes inspiration from the original Bombay cafes and features bold teal walls adorned with playful prints of Gandhi and popular Bollywood movies. And if you like whiskey, check out their bar which offers a full menu of signature and traditional cocktails specialising in whiskey and featuring Paul John and Amrut single malt (number 2 in the world) from India.
As the name suggests, JoJo has a very relaxed vibe, making it an ideal spot for a casual laid-back lunch, dinner, after-work drinks, or even early breakfast, which includes parathas to southern dosas with unlimited chai tea and butter milk. A buffet lunch is served daily with food from street corners, curries, and seasonal favourites, while dinner options include sharing portions from the menu selection of street food and little bites or curries, mains sides, and desserts. Don’t miss out on the 30% off cocktails and drinks during happy hour too, which runs from 3pm to 7pm.
JoJo Indian Cuisine, 2F David House, 37-39 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, (+852) 2527 3776 Breakfast from 8am – 11am / Lunch from 12pm – 2.30pm / Dinner from 6pm to 10pm
Saucy Mexican Dishes at Los Sotano
Serving up possibly the best guacamole in the world – or at least Hong Kong – casual Mexican bar and restaurant Los Sotano is whipping up a storm of treats in their basement kitchen which pair perfectly with a tequila cocktail or two. The ‘Mexicano Restaurante Superior Menu’ includes a selection of mouth-watering appetisers including Smoked Salmon on a Tostada with cream cheese, capers, and dill, two Ceviche choices including Vallarta with Sea Bass, and Aguachile de Camaron with Shrimp, and seven different Traditional Street Tacos to choose from, including Al Pastor (spit-roasted pork shoulder), Camarones (shrimp and chili), Pescado (beer battered fish), Ribeye, Avocado (with melted jack cheese), Carnitas (slow roasted pork belly), and Southern Fried Chicken.
The real star of the show, however, has to be the unbelievably refreshing Table Side Guacamole which is served with salsa, chopped-up jalapeño, a dash of parsley and salt, Tapatio sauce, fresh lime juice, and pomegranate seeds for a tangy sour kick. Over on the mains are the heavenly Tequila USDA Ribeye, rich Duck Carnitas served with roasted avocado, tomato salsa, and freshly baked corn tortillas, and super cheesy Lasagna Mexicano layered with tortillas filled with chipotle béchamel sauce and chicken al pastor. These are equally tender, succulent, and bursting with flavour.
Appreciating that every meaty feast needs a sweet ending, the menu includes three dessert choices: Mexican Chocolate Flan, Freshly baked Waffle Taco served with ice cream and fresh berries, and the clear winner, Churros drizzled in hot chocolate sauce. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Mexican affair without tequila, and while the list of blended cocktails is extremely alluring, the Jamaica – with homemade hibiscus tea syrup and fresh lime slices – is an absolute delight. God bless “Mehico!”
Los Sotano Basement, 21 D’Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong (Find the barrel entrance on Wing Wah Lane!)
New Luau of Doom Tiki Night at Lily & Bloom
Upholding its reputation for creating the most eccentric American celebration concepts (who can forget that epic MIRACLE Christmas makeover), Lily & Bloom has unveiled yet another fun-themed night that is sure to wash away the Monday blues. Bringing all the mystery and spookiness of tiki culture to the start of the week, Luau of Doom invites Hongkongers to escape the bustling city and throw on a flower lei as they enter a tropical realm filled with extravagant tiki tat and potent new concoctions.
From 5pm till 2am, guests can sip on the delightfully sweet Banana Daiquiri ($150), the lethal and rum-tastic ‘34 Zombie (limited to two orders per person at $180), and the exotic Bali Bali ($170) blend of rums, gin, cognac, and pineapple. As if that wasn’t enough to lure us to our doom, there are also some classic tiki snacks on offer, each served in US-style Chinese takeaway boxes. While sipping cocktails, guests can snack on the aromatic Stir Fried Lo Mein ($80), Sweet & Sour Pork, and Nam Nam Wings. Totally tiki-licious!
Lily & Bloom, 6/F, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, (+852) 2810 6166
New Weekend Brunch at Jamie’s Italian
Jamie’s Italian in Causeway Bay might not be the warmest venue in the city (due to its tall industrial ceiling and high windows), but if you’re looking for a reasonably priced brunch at the weekend, then this new offering from the British celebrity chef is a safe bet. For $295 per person, diners get to tuck into an impressive Italian-style buffet of delicious light bites such as freshly baked pastries, fruits and yoghurt, charcuterie and cheese, hearty salads, and visit the egg station, before choosing one dish from a selection of twelve hearty mains including pastas, pizzas, breakfast, and grilled items.
Mains include the deliciously rich Gennardo’s Tagliatelle Bolognese with pork and slow-cooked beef, the spicy Hong Kong Hot pizza, juicy Rib-eye Steak, and Famous Prawn Linguine. While these are generously sized and satisfactory in flavour, the desserts are somewhat disappointing — the tiramisu and cheesecake, for example, are both semi-frozen and lacking in flavour.
Being a family-friendly restaurant, little ones can pick from the healthy Kid’s Menu which features Happy Chicken Lollipops ($68), Secret Seven Cheesy Pasta ($68), and Salmon In A Bag ($68). Meanwhile, parents can guzzle on free-flow cocktails, beers, Bellinis, and Prosecco for an additional $195 per person, or upgrade to a free-flow Champagne and Wine Package for an extra $125.
So while this might not be the fanciest brunch in town (check out our favourites), it is an affordable option if you’re looking to catch up with friends in a casual setting or if you have little ones to feed. Just make sure you take a thick jumper with you!
Weekends from 11am to 4pm Jamie’s Italian, 2/F, Soundwill Plaza II, Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, (+852) 3958 2222
New Characters at Yum Cha
The quirky dim sum restaurant that gave us the most Instagrammable buns in Hong Kong has opened a new branch in the heart of Causeway Bay, along with an exclusive side menu of twenty dishes that pay homage to the city’s long-lost typhoon shelter cuisine of the 60s. The new Yum Cha menu includes tangy Typhoon-shelter Style Fried Whole Crab with Dried Chilli Garlic Flakes, Fried Noodles with Crab Oil ($119), Steamed Eggs with Clams ($129), and a whopping signature Seafood Platter. If you can handle it, there are also some very local dishes up for grabs, namely the Deep-fried Duck Blood Curd ($99) — yeesh!
If dim sum is more your cup of tea, then you’ll be pleased to know there are some adorable new characters on the menu such as the amusing moustached Peanut Papa Buns ($49 for 3 pieces) filled with peanut sauce and white sesame — definitely one for the Gram. There are also several treats designed especially for Chinese New Year, including the God of Wealth red bean paste buns, Fried Dumplings with Pork Filling styled after a traditional Chinese gold ingot, and bite-sized Mandarin Buns which resemble the prosperous fruit. On the dessert side, there’s a brand new mango Hawthorn Pudding Cup with Cotton Cloud ($49) which tastes as sugary as it looks.
All this is served by staff dressed in retro boat-dweller uniforms within a spacious New York-style loft which boats a giant 27-metre glass façade and a dynamic mural of typhoon shelter-inspired graffiti by renowned Thai street artist Piyasak Khieosaard. A fun and memorable dining experience all around.
Yum Cha, 2/F, Emperor Watch & Jewellery Centre, 8 Russell Street, Causeway Bay, (+852) 2323 1288
New Pici Branch in Central
If you haven’t made it down to the new branch of Pici on Aberdeen Street yet, then you must. Aside from boasting a huge 1,600-square-foot venue with an outdoor terrace, this pasta haven offers a whole host of delicious, affordable, and carb-tastic dishes which are perfect for sharing with friends any time of the day. While much-loved signatures from the original Wan Chai venue remain, new exclusives include the Garganelli ($130) with duck ragu, cauliflower, and Szechuan peppers, creamy Plin Ravioli ($140) stuffed with rich gorgonzola and porcini mushrooms, and heavenly Girasole Carbonara ($120). Mouth watering yet? Then maybe a velvety Tiramisu or creamy Raspberry Panna Cotta (both $55) will get you going.
If you really can’t decide what to order (and we wouldn’t blame you) then you can always opt for the Tasting Menu which has a selection of starters, mains, and desserts priced at $280 per person. Otherwise, we suggest ordering a bunch of dishes between you. Just make sure you leave room for an Aperol Spritz, Negroni and Bellini, ($90 each) — yep, you should definitely try all three.
Despite seating 65 people at any one time, Pici still takes no reservations, so make sure you arrive before the shutters open at 12pm for lunch and early enough for dinner because this is one carb-fest you do not want to miss. Pasta la vista, baby! We’ll be back.
Pici, G/F, No 24-26 Aberdeen Street, Central, (+852) 2755 5233