CHRISTINA KO finds a selection of spots perfect to put fire in your belly during the cold months
It's available year round, but St Betty's weekend specials hit the spot best when you're bundled up in layers. Saturday afternoons, there's a sharing portion of a Wagyu beef and mushroom short crust pie, then bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream to finish. And on your day of rest, what else is there room for but a Sunday roast, a Josper-roasted grass-fed Australian Angus sirloin served with confit of Chinese cabbage and Japanese bacon, crushed root veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream and gravy. A rhubarb and apple crumble is your warm finish.
PRESTIGE PICKS: Everything. Seriously, we'd come every Saturday and Sunday if we could.
HOT TO TROT
There's a conviviality associated with hot pot that's perfect for cold winter nights. A favourite for us is Megan's Kitchen, which offers twists on the traditional without going too far. Bases like Sichuan spicy tofu soup or coriander and preserved duck egg soup are there for lovers of convention, but there are atypical broths such as the tomato and crab soup in soufflé finish topped with a cloud of egg white, or the tom yum koong cappuccino, to be devoured before the cooking starts. Our recent discoveries are the French onion and duck soup, and the fresh lobster borscht soup, which imprint divine flavour upon items cooked in them, whether that's the $1,388-a-plate A5-grade Kobe sirloin slices; the Italian ham, black fungus and pork dumplings; or a dish of porous iced tofu.
PRESTIGE PICKS: The deep-fried dough with shrimp paste is a must, and while you're waiting for your pot to simmer, fried diced tofu in salty egg yolk paste is a popular pre-game snack.
Though the Prestige Hong Kong team loves nothing more than a Friday-lunchtime jaunt to Jashan for the curry buffet, for a more refined take on Indian classics you can't beat Sevva. The daily bento box combines four fresh flavours in one attractive presentation, then there are options such as The Maharaja (minced lamb with baby peas and tomatoes), The Jetset (butter chicken, chutney and raita) or the curry of the day. For a less overt twist, there's The Florentine – scrambled eggs and wilted spinach with spicy tomato chutney.
PRESTIGE PICKS: No matter what your choice, pair it with the best dosas in town, giant crispy rolls stuffed with the fillings of your choice.
HOW SWEET IT IS
Fancy desserts are all good and fine, but nothing gets the tummy warm and happy like a good, hearty sweet treat served in an old-school venue where the service is as good as the food. We're talking Jimmy's Kitchen, of course, which celebrated its 85th birthday this year. Jimmy's Famous Satellite is a contrast in temperatures, a ball of ice cream deep fried and flamed with Grand Marnier, but there's also a mean baked Alaska, alongside the likes of apple crumble, sticky date pudding, bread and butter pudding and steamed ginger pudding with hot custard sauce.
PRESTIGE PICKS: Are you kidding? Do you know how hard it is to find deep-fried ice cream these days? Combined with the fiery showmanship, the Satellite is unequivocally the dish to order.
You can throw back piping-hot coffee all year, but hot chocolate is mysteriously reserved for cooler days – although admittedly we do make occasional exceptions for Jean-Paul Hévin's eminently sippable concoctions, which turn the brand's superlative chocolates into liquid ecstasy. Sadly, Christmas recipes using ginger and chestnut infusions are no longer available, but there are still six alternatives to curb that craving and warm your belly.
PRESTIGE PICKS: The Chocolat Chaud Parisien is most popular with customers, combining cocoa from Central America with spicy tones.
With its Westernised design concept and Hotel Icon affiliation, Above & Beyond seems an unlikely choice for those Cantonese classics more suited to the street, such as braised snake soup with fish maw and shredded abalone or stewed lamb brisket. Look for creepy-sounding classics like double-boiled crocodile soup with Sichuan fritillary, and baked fish intestines with egg, or opt instead for crowd-pleasing ingredients such as wok-fried Canadian scallops with black truffle and sea urchin.
PRESTIGE PICKS: There may not be a flurry of burners charring clay-pot rice dishes outside the restaurant, but the four options served are definitely worth ordering, in particular the preserved sausage and chicken.
Comfort food is welcome any time of year, even more so when it's chilly outside. It's our team's suspicion that Swire was prompted to open Plat du Jour in Quarry Bay, a homey little spot on Hoi Wan Street, for its executives to curb their cravings with Gallic classics like steak tartare, escargots and moules marinières. Unlike your typical Parisian bistro, which seats guests close enough you can hear your neighbour's conversation, this low-key restaurant offers plenty of room between tables, and makes a happy addition to the burgeoning food scene out east.
PRESTIGE PICKS: Beef bourguignon is a hearty little dish, with creamy mashed potatoes taking up the carb quotient. Ask for extra baskets of the crusty bread to mop up all the sauce when you're done.