The annual Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants awards night, held on November 17 at The Seafood Room, is a celebration of the finest achievements in the F&B industry over the past 12 months. I often say that we have it easy here—we are able to dine at the best restaurants, meet the most extraordinary chefs, drink the finest wines—but ultimately our efforts pale in comparison to those who slog it in the kitchen and in the dining room day in and day out. This is why each year we always look forward to presenting the Best Of Awards, a selection of accolades that recognise those who have brought richness and diversity to our dining scene.
How We Do It
Each year, the editorial team compiles a shortlist of nominees for each category, which are then sent out to our panel of 13 judges—among them, respected food writers, editors, and influencers. Each panelist is required to vote for their top 3 in each category, assigning relevant scores to their choices in order of preference. Should a panelist believe that the shortlist is missing a nominee, they are free to suggest it and offer a justification for their choice, but most importantly, the panelists are not able to discuss their choices with each other and the votes are submitted individually to the editorial team. The scores are then tallied and the winner and runner-up decided.
For the fourth year in a row, we asked our readers to crown the Best New Restaurant by voting online. As a litmus test, we also asked our own panelists to vote for their favourite new restaurant from the same shortlist (though we did not include their votes in the reader tally) and interestingly, more than half the judges voted the same way as the readers.
Best New Chef
Winner: Xavier Boyer, Gaddi's
Xavier Boyer’s keen eye for detail, coupled with his true understanding of ingredients and the ways to make them shine, demonstrate his expertise and prowess in leading the brigade of chefs who make Gaddi’s a genuine haven of gourmet French cuisine.
Gaddi's, 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong; +852 2696 6763
Runner-up: Max Levy of Okra has brought fun and flair to Sai Ying Pun, and has educated many a customer with his inspired flavour combinations and extensive sake knowledge.
Okra, G/F, 110 Queen's Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2806 1038
Best Pastry Chef
Winner: Michael Pretet, Amber
With equal parts creativity and precision, Michael Pretet’s intuition for ingredient pairing in his creations is acute and often surprising—from ribbons of heirloom carrot confit matched with scarlet-hued blood orange sorbet to a vibrant Japanese twist of sake and green tea paired with pineapple and coconut, and to Alphonso mango combined with yuzu and floral jasmine.
Amber, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, The Landmark, 15 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong; +852 2132 0066
Runner-up: Frank Haasnoot of The Peninsula has an impressive international following, and it's easy to see why—the pastry chef's incredibly intricate creations for the hotel are true artistic and architectural wonders.
The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Winner: Buenos Aires Polo Club
Taking the helm of the mixology team is Luca Sergi, demonstrating unparalleled expertise in pairing exotic liqueurs, aperitifs and flavourings in each of the restaurant’s signature cocktails. The resulting tipples are distinctive in flavours and distil a robust style of creative mixology through the diverse offerings.
Buenos Aires Polo Club, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2321 8681
Runner-up: The tropical libations found at Kaum transport drinkers to the sunny shores of Bali, home of the original Potato Head Beach Club. The "Barong Zombie" with rum, pineapple-infused arak and homemade passionfruit syrup is so strong and delicious, it's limited to two per person.
Kaum at Potato Head, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2858 6066
Best Interior Design
Winner: Rhoda, by Joyce Wang Studio
The open kitchen has been constructed in the middle of the restaurant—a bar around which diners can sit and watch the meats being cooked over the charcoal grill and the dishes plated to order. This striking design of the ground-floor restaurant space has been fashioned by none other than Joyce Wang, who has already taken the Best Interior Design crown once before—in 2014, for her work on Mott 32. While Wang’s elegant signature details are there, this is one of her most experimental jobs to date.
Rhoda, G/F, Upton, 345 Des Voeux Road West, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2177 5050
Runner-up: Designed by Ashley Sutton (also behind Bangkok’s Iron Fairies and Maggie Choos), who was inspired by Hong Kong’s rich and vibrant culture, Ophelia brings alive an immersive new experience with a dreamlike atmosphere.
Ophelia, Shop No 41A, 1/F The Avenue, 200 Queen's Road East, Lee Tung St, Wan Chai; +852 2520 1117
Winner: Our inaugural Local Champion award is all about celebrating those who have made a real contribution to promoting Hong Kong’s unique food culture. Since opening her own restaurant three years ago, chef May Chow has evolved at a rapid pace. In July, she opened a branch of Little Bao in Bangkok; the following month, she partnered with Chris Wong and James Ling of The Ale Project and Rohit Dugar of Young Master Ales to open Second Draft, a neighbourhood “Chinese gastropub” in Tai Hang. Here, Chow has been working hard at bringing the spotlight back to Hong Kong’s culinary roots: by adding dried oysters to squid croquettes, say, or championing the fragrant local “three-yellow” chicken, which she insists is unparalleled in quality.
Runner-up: Restaurateur and chef David Lai has long been vocal about his love for the natural bounty of Hong Kong seafood, and the dedication shows in his restaurant Fish School, opened this year in collaboration with Yenn Wong.
Fish School, G/F, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2361 2966
Restaurateurs of the Year
Winner: Black Sheep Restaurants
Since 2012, two names have been paving the path for fun, delicious restaurants in a market saturated with mediocrity. In the span of four years, Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain, the founders of Black Sheep Restaurants, have set up and sustained an impressive number of eateries. In the first six months of 2016 alone, the group launched a series of impressive new openings, each with their own unique slant: Belon, Maison Libanaise, Buenos Aires Polo Club, and Soul Food Hong Kong.
Runner-up: Maximal Concepts are still bringing their A-game, both locally and internationally—their relaunch of Blue was one of the parties of the year, and their modern Chinese concept Mott 32 will soon be launching in Dubai and Bangkok.
Best New Restaurant (Readers' Choice)
Winner: Second Draft
There are very few instances where ‘fusion’ can be done right, when a perfect balance has been struck between tradition and innovation. We’re glad to say that it all comes sparking to life at this superlative new opening, which has captured the attention of Hong Kong Tatler readers to take the crown for this year's Best New Restaurant award. As one reader put it, “Second Draft is maverick. In the city's homogeneously hipsterised dining scene, it perfectly marries craft beer with actually inventive fusion food, without feeling forced. It is a bar and restaurant that Hong Kong can call its own.”
Second Draft, 98 Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; +852 2656 0232
Runner-up: The competition this year was ferociously tight, and Kaum came in an extremely close second, winning readers over with their distinctive take on Indonesian cuisine in a superbly designed space.
Kaum at Potato Head, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong; +852 2858 6066
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