While Cantonese food will always be king in HK, here we sample some of Hong Kong’s best restaurants for other Chinese food delicacies – from a more modern interpretation of traditional HK favourites to spicy Sichuan fare that livens up the palate!
Grand Majestic Sichuan – best restaurant for authentic Sichuan Chinese food in Hong Kong’s Central district
Contemporary and classic sit happily side by side at Grand Majestic Sichuan, with its plush red velvet booths, elaborate chandeliers and vibrant hand-painted murals. You can imagine Chinese tycoons, foreign dignitaries and taipans unwinding here back in the day – maybe even Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn sharing a cocktail or two! This is the place for celebrating special occasions; it doesn’t get any better.
So, let the banquet begin! Our meal started with poached spinach in ginger dressing ($108) – delightfully refreshing, like tightly packed green bales of wellness – and perfectly steamed pork wontons ($208) that sat proudly on an aromatic sweet soy and chilli oil.
The hits kept on coming, with grassfed beef tenderloin ($348) intriguingly accompanied by ten-year-aged tangerine peel. Slightly bitter and zesty, the quirky citrus added a wonderful twist to the melt-in-the-mouth beef. Dry-fried green beans ($198) were crunchy and elevated by divine dices of Kurobuta pork.
Speaking of intrigue, we were also curious to see what the chef would do with a humble cauliflower ($228) – and it was anything but humble. Accompanied by garlic and outstanding Sichuan cured bacon that permeated the al dente stems and florets, it was mind-blowing. The same Sichuan cured bacon performed its salty smoky magic on a heavenly fried rice ($188), which was also studded with nutty edamame. All this culinary splendour culminated with the dish of the night. The Sichuan sweet and sour Kurobuta pork ($268) was intense, fragrant, tender and gloriously sticky – perfection on a plate.
The wonderful sommelier paired everything beautifully with an eclectic blend of new and old world wines. And the service was impeccable all night long, efficient yet warm and genuine.
From the tiger carpet that greets you at the entrance to the hand-painted flamingos on the rear walls, and from the gorgeous black marble-topped bar inside to the stunning outside terrace with a second equally welcoming bar, Grand Majestic Sichuan is a stunning oasis in the heart of corporate Central.
Ho Lee Fook – best restaurant for classic Cantonese Chinese food in Hong Kong’s Soho district
Ho Le Fook is pure Hong Kong, with mahjong tiles on the façade and a giant brass fortune cookie at the entrance. The rear wall is littered with prosperous gold “beckoning cats”, just like the cute little statues seen in every Chinatown across the globe. Wonderfully playful.
To the left is bustling activity, plumes of steam and hanging roast meats in the open glass kitchen, from where they also do a roaring trade in passer-by takeaways. To the right, a mysterious red-carpet staircase leading down to the basement.
Entering Ho Lee Fook is like going into a forbidden secret sanctuary. It’s also loud and Hong Kong Cantonese proud – think bold red décor with matching seats, vibrant cheongsam vintage wallpaper, and a quirky mirrored ceiling to ramp up the vibe. At the corner is a stunning golden onyx bar, where the house cocktail – the Sichuan Sour – is close to life-changing.
The menu pays homage to Canton – and Ho Lee Fook’s modern interpretation brings it to another level. The pork jowl and cabbage dumplings ($148) were invitingly plump and delicious, served in a sacha soy and coriander dressing. Another must is the Chongqing chicken wings ($168) with “facing heaven chillies” and Sichuan pepper – numbing and zesty.
We considered ordering a whole steamed barramundi with ginger, spring onion and soy sauce, which adorned many of the other tables; or the equally popular wok-seared tiger prawns and steamed live razor clams. Unfortunately, Ho Lee Fook had run out of roast goose, such was the clamour from takeaway diners. In the end, we opted for the smoked crispy skin three yellow chicken ($268), which had a wonderful contrast of textures. The soft tender meat combined superbly with the sand ginger and spring onion sauce. Egg fried rice ($138) was the perfect companion – with choy sum, more spring onion and Chinese olives giving it a lovely savoury hit.
Our personal favourite Hong Kong delight over the years just had to be sampled here, even more so on discovering it arrives charcoal-grilled. Take a bow, Kurobuta pork char siu ($268). With champion charring and a decadent honey glaze, it’s no surprise this absolute showstopper arrives on tables and gets taken away in boxes by the trough-load.
Ho Lee Fook is another triumph for Black Sheep Restaurants. The dining, décor and proud service beat all the right drums. With its nod to HK’s golden cinematic age and classic dishes brought full speed into the modern era, we’ll be back again soon. Mine’s a Sichuan Sour…
Note: Elgin Street runs parallel above Staunton Street, but the restaurant is on another little finger of Elgin separated by Peel Street (off Staunton Street above and Hollywood Road below). We nearly missed our opulent night out!
Chilli Fagara – best restaurant for fiery Sichuan Chinese food in Hong Kong’s Soho district
This chic Sichuan restaurant promises to take the palate on an adventure – Fagara in the name refers to lightly roasted, dried Sichuan pepper, and the menu has sections reflecting the different flavour concepts of Ma (numbing), La (burning) and Tang (neutral).
We mainly focused on the burning La offerings, but the chef is happy to fire it up or tone it down to suit each table. Some of the meat dishes can be ordered as plant-based instead, too.
As we were choosing a nice bottle of house red ($488), some vibrant snacks arrived. They included infused peanuts, finely chopped raw green beans with numbing (Ma) chilli, and some cold chilli glass noodles. It was a nice gentle introduction before the twists and turns that awaited. DEC 22-FEB 23 101 The shredded chicken salad ($108) was an absolute delight, with an indulgent peanut sauce beautifully balanced with the sharp note of pickled cabbage – we were tempted to order another one despite the many more dishes that were headed our way! Also good were the tender cumin lamb skewers ($188) with a spicy dipping sauce.
General Tso’s Chicken ($168) was very tender, served in a sweet spicy sauce – it would have been even better with a crispy outer. Sichuan-style string beans ($148) were coated in a fine minced pork in chilli sauce and were delightfully fresh, the perfect side dish.
From the neutral Tang menu, we were intrigued by the homestyle shredded potatoes ($138) and they were different in a good way – refreshing and interesting. The juicy shreds of al dente potato had a delicate crunch and full-on potato flavour. We also ordered jasmine rice but the exciting main dishes didn’t warrant it.
We didn’t think the satay-style salad earlier could be beaten but the total showstopper of the night was the caramelised beef ($188). When it arrived, it just had that look of perfection – crispy shards of beef with fine ribbons of carrot and onion in a sticky garlic and ginger sauce. The delicate beef comes with a crispy, slightly sugary crust and features heat from the chilli, freshness from the ginger and a quiet zing of vinegar – the most perfectly balanced sweet, sour, spicy, fresh morsel. Again, we wanted to order another one, maybe two!
Chilli Fagara proved to be a wonderful evening out. The staff were friendly and the dimly-lit dining room with elegant Chinese décor was a joy to sit in.
Like this article on Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong? See more foodie inspiration in our Wine & Dine section.
This article first appeared in the Winter 2022/23 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.