*UPDATE: Vasco has now closed; its sister restaurant Isono is still open though!*
How do you make a fancy restaurant even fancier? With liberal sprinklings of truffle, of course!
Vasco in PMQ is the even more sophisticated upstairs sister of Isono Eatery & Bar, essentially taking many of that restaurant’s key elements and polishing them up into pure Michelin-bait refinement.
So we have the same interior designer Joyce Wang, except this time the exposed metals and marble surfaces are just that bit more luxe – a long dining room with plush banquette sofas and a striking circular dining room at its centre, with something of a train carriage vibe about it (we’re obviously talking first-class train carriages a la 2046 or Snowpiercer rather than the First Great Western to Slough).
Likewise, it’s the same head chef as Isono – Paolo Cassagrande from Michelin-starred restaurant Lasarte – but rather than a menu of rustic Mediterranean favourites, Vasco’s dishes are all about creative culinary flair with knowing nods towards Basque cooking. At high-end eateries like this, I always think you should try the degustation, a menu specifically designed to take you on a journey that showcases the restaurant’s raison d’etre… so that’s exactly what we did with their seasonal three-course white truffle menu.
Posted in Food
Tagged Basque cuisine, best restaurants Central, best restaurants in PMQ, best restaurants Sheung Wan, best restaurants Soho, contemporary fine dining Hong Kong, Drawing Room Concepts, fine dining, fine dining Hong Kong, fine dining restaurants Central, fine dining restaurants Sheung Wan, fine dining restaurants Soho, high-end restaurants Hong Kong, Modern European, Modern European cuisine Hong Kong, Modern European restaurants Hong Kong, Paolo Casagrande, PMQ, review, Tony Cheng, Vasco, Vasco Hong Kong, where to eat in Central, where to eat in PMQ, where to eat in Sheung Wan, where to eat in Soho
There’s something of a Brit invasion going on in Hong Kong’s restaurant scene right now – Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, Jason Atherton’s Aberdeen Street Social, Tom Aitkens at The Pawn, even Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian. Well, here’s another one, except it’s not a famous chef but a famous restaurant – London’s award-winning Argentinian steakhouse, Gaucho.
Brought over to Hong Kong by Dining Concepts (yep, them again – importers of Ramsay, Laurent Tourondel, Michael White et al), Gaucho takes over the space of another of the group’s steakhouses, Mario Batalli’s Carnevino, at a super convenient location in LHT Tower next to Central MTR.
The space is unashamedly masculine, but in an almost metrosexual way – think sleek black surfaces, shiny mirrored accents and aeons of cow hide everywhere (I dare you to resist stroking it).
In case you’re wondering what makes an Argentinian steakhouse Argentinian, it’s that the cows are from Argentina… simple as that (and sadly not that they’re doing Argentine Tangos amidst the pampas; don’t worry, they’re free-range and fed on 17 types of pesticide-free grass in the most luscious grasslands in the world, so they’re probably not too bothered about missing their chance for Strictly Come Dancing fame). Elsewhere, the menu features further Argentine accents in the form of cooking techniques (hola open-fire asado grills), ingredients (hola chorizo and dulce de leche) and dishes (hola ceviche and empanadas).
Posted in Food
Tagged Argentinian, best desserts Hong Kong, Central, ceviche Hong Kong, chimichurri, chorizo, Dining Concepts Hong Kong, dulce de leche, empanadas Hong Kong, fine dining Central, fine dining Hong Kong, Gaucho, Gaucho HK, Gaucho Hong Kong, Lan Kwai Fong, LHT Tower, LKF, review, steak Hong Kong, steakhouses Central, steakhouses Hong Kong, where to eat in Central, where to get empanadas Hong Kong
*UPDATE: Isono has now closed*
Isono – on paper, it looks like the results of a particularly unproductive Countdown round (especially when combined with its location, PMQ). In reality, it’s the latest restaurant from Tony Cheng’s Drawing Room Concepts, the brains behind places as varied as AMMO (Italian), Hainan Shaoye (Singaporean) and Made In HK (do I really have to tell you?). This time round, the cuisine is casual Mediterranean with a slight tapas slant, the chef the esteemed Paolo Casagrande of two Michelin-starred Restaurante Lasarte in Barcelona, and the interiors courtesy of the acclaimed Joyce Wang.
Casagrande has saved most of the culinary fireworks for Isono’s sister restaurant upstairs, Vasco, which is more of a fancy fine-dining kind of joint. Instead, Isono’s menu is full of familiar European classics – charcuterie platters, paella, pasta – the kind that make us start happily reminiscing about that great cod stew in the Basque/those delicious rillettes in South France/the best carbonara ever in Rome that we once enjoyed.
That being said, it’s unlikely that any of those happy foodie memories played out in an environment quite as majestic as Isono’s. Wang’s interiors always bring a sense of cinematic grandeur to proceedings (literally – there’s a black and white film screened on loop on the wall here); with its copper surfaces, intricate metal structures and exposed bulb lighting, it has an almost steampunk vibe. Classy steampunk mind, not any of that Sucker Punch nonsense.
Posted in Food, Hong Kong
Tagged best restaurants in Central, best restaurants in HK, best restaurants PMQ, best tapas Hong Kong, Drawing Room Concepts, fine dining Hong Kong, Isono, Isono Eatery & Bar, Isono HK, Isono Hong Kong, Joyce Wang, Mediterranean cuisine Hong Kong, Mediterranean restaurants Hong Kong, Paolo Casagrande, PMQ, review, Spanish cuisine Hong Kong, Spanish restaurants Central, Spanish restaurants Hong Kong, tapas, tapas restaurants Central, tapas restaurants Hong Kong, Tony Cheng, Vasco, where to eat in Central, where to eat in PMQ, where to eat in Soho
I have never needed an excuse to eat ice-cream… but if you’re the kind of person that does, then consider this:
a) Hong Kong’s hot and humid weather means that ice-cream is just the kind of delicious cool-down that the doctor ordered
b) If it isn’t hot and humid, then there’s most probably a torrential thunderstorm – in which case, ice-cream is the perfect rainy day pick-me-up instead!
However, not all ice-creams are created equal and sometimes a 99 from Mr Whippy just doesn’t cut the soft-serve. Instead, may I present you with the King Of The Sundaes, the Gelato VIP – Chef Ringo Chan of the Four Seasons Hong Kong, who has created some of the most beautiful, creative and downright delicious ice-creams I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting brain-freeze from.
Posted in Food
Tagged best desserts Hong Kong, best ice-cream Hong Kong, dessert, dessert hong kong, fine dining Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hong Kong ice-cream, Four Seasons Hong Kong Summer 2014, Four Seasons Hong Kong sundaes, gelato Hong Kong, ice-cream Hong Kong, restaurant, review, The Lounge, where to eat in Central, where to eat in IFC
Some days, I just have dessert for lunch (#sorrynotsorry). So if you’re as unhealthy as me and believe dessert is good enough to be a meal in itself, then ATUM Desserant might be your next sugar rush enabler.
Nestled on the 16th floor of a newly built commercial building in Causeway Bay, ATUM Desserant isn’t exactly the kind of location you just stumble upon – these are destination desserts, people! It’s basically a dessert bar set-up; although there are a couple of separate tables, most of the seats are arranged around the open kitchen, so you can watch the action table-side. And forget your humble Spotted Dick or sticky toffee pudding – this is some space-age dessert wizardry… Think The Jetsons crossed with Harry Potter by way of Heston Blumenthal and you’re somewhere in the right galaxy.
Posted in Food, Hong Kong
Tagged Atum Desserant, Atum Desserant Hong Kong, Atum HK, Atum Hong Kong, best desserts Hong Kong, best restaurants in Causeway Bay, Causeway Bay, dessert, dessert bar Hong Kong, dessert hong kong, fine dining Hong Kong, molecular gastronomy Hong Kong, restaurant, review, where to eat in Causeway Bay
When did Ship become so hip?
Back when I worked near Ship Street in Wan Chai many moons ago, the greatest culinary achievement it had to offer was a Sloppy Giuseppe at Pizza Express. And as much as I love me some garlic doughballs, they probably won’t be winning a Michelin star anytime soon!
Now, thanks to renowned British chef Jason Atherton moving into the ‘hood with 22 Ships, the area has become a veritable foodie mecca – and one of the newest places for gastro-pilgrimage is Restaurant Akrame.
Posted in Food, Hong Kong
Tagged Akrame, Akrame Benallal, Akrame Hong Kong, best restaurants in Hong Kong, best restaurants in Wan Chai, fine dining Hong Kong, fine dining Wan Chai, French cuisine Hong Kong, French cuisine Wan Chai, Michelin-starred dining Hong Kong, Michelin-starred restaurants Hong Kong, Restaurant Akrame Hong Kong, review, Ship Street, Ship Street Hong Kong, where to eat in Wan Chai, where to eat on Ship Street