In this week's online exclusive, we track down three “fusion” restaurants that still surprise and delight us
“Fusion” has been a dirty word on Hong Kong's dining scene for a few years now, though plenty of new restaurants still promise weird and wonderful unions of two or more cuisines. To help you stay on the “wonderful” side of that equation, we've picked three restaurants around the city that merge the best of two worlds.
Quite possibly the restaurant that launched the fusion-dining trend, Nobu is the upmarket international chain that is famous for its blend of Japanese and South American flavours. Having opened his first restaurant in 1987, founder Nobu Matsuhisa is now a fully-fledged celebrity chef and has opened over twenty branches of the restaurant around the world.
The Hong Kong branch of Nobu, which is inside the InterContinental hotel, has just appointed a new head chef, Sean Mell, who comes to the city from the restaurant chain's outpost in Hawaii. Mell is behind the spring menus currently being served at the restaurant, which feature several new additions to the already lengthy line-up. One of the must-try new dishes is steamed Chilean sea bass served with ssamjang den miso, which is light, flaky and almost as impressive as the InterContinental's panoramic view across Victoria Harbour.
Fa Zu Jie
Hidden away above hyped-up hipster hangout Brickhouse in Lan Kwai Fong's D'Aguilar Street, Fa Zu Jie is the quiet neighbour that lets its food do the talking. Thankfully that policy has worked out just fine, and the restaurant has deservedly earned its reputation for having some of the best Chinese-French cuisine in town. Once you've found your way up the staircase and to the almost speakeasy-style front door, you'll be ushered in to one of the dozen or so tables in an intimate dining room that is bordered by a completely open kitchen.
Dinner itself is normally a set menu made up of six courses, which are given cryptic names such as “Porcini. Sticky” and “Lion. Swallow. Crab. Meet.” But don't be put off by the mysterious menu, as the strange-sounding dishes taste far better than they sound. For example the “Diana Spicy Slow-cooked Beef. Wonton” turns out to be a lightly-spiced, slow-roasted beef shank that was accompanied by pumpkin wantons and sweet caramelised onions.
Although Soi 7 markets itself as Modern Thai, it could just as correctly be described as Thai with Western influences. But Soi 7 is nothing like the greasy, Westernised Asian restaurants you might find in London or New York. Instead, it puts funky spins on Thai classics and reinvents Western staples with Thai ingredients. The best examples of these may well be the Pad Thai, which is served with a whole Boston lobster, and its Thai “Haute Dog,” which is made with a Chiang Mai-style sausage in a bun stuffed with ginger, shallots and sriracha-aioli sauce.
But the mouth-wateringly good fusion offerings don't stop there, with a Thai mango cheesecake and a chocolate chilli lava cake both listed on the dessert menu. As Soi 7 also has a prime position on Wyndham Street, it's almost guaranteed to tempt even the fussiest of food fans through its doors.