Hong Kong restaurants

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8½ Otto e Mezzo

Price guide: Expensive
#7/40
expert-rated restaurants in Hong Kong
Best for Gourmets -
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Superb Italian food. Pricey, mind you, but superb.

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It's said that there are three topics of conversation in Hong Kong - sex, money and food. And the first is only included when people have run out of things to say about the other two. Suffice to say that this is a city that loves and lives to eat. Immigrants from all over China and the rest of Asia have brought their own cuisine here, and will argue briskly among themselves which does what dish best. 

The small seaside town where I live hosts restaurants serving Italian, Turkish, Mediterranean, Indian and Scottish (if you include McDonald's) food. There's also a Brit-style pub, plenty of Chinese, and a harbour-side food court where you can get a Full English Breakfast, dim sum or seafood or simply sit with a cold beer and a plate of spring rolls. 

If you want Michelin stars, there are plenty about, and not just confined to the larger hotels. Nightlife areas like Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo sport a regular smorgasbord of cuisines, all packed into a few hundred square metres. All public markets host cooked food centres, long on ambience and taste, short on decor, and easy on the wallet. And even well after midnight, you can stumble across entire back streets packed with eateries that cater to a local industry that works anti-social hours.

The nuts and bolts:

Many larger restaurants feature private rooms (at a price); book ahead, but don't be surprised to be kept waiting; and remember that air conditioner is rendered as 'cold air machine' in Cantonese, so inside temperatures can be chilly. And if you find a street in Hong Kong that doesn't feature some sort of eatery, I'd be interested to hear about it.

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There's one of Joel Robuchon's "ateliers" here, serving - amongst other stuff - his "interpretation of sandwiches". I'm assuming that if you've got the readies to pay for such - how to put it? - innovative fare, you'll know how to find it. Instead, I've tried to include some of the more characterful free-standing operations, run by people who are interested in making really good food rather than just making a fast buck. And just for interest's sake, I've sidestepped most hotel restaurants to start off with, though plan to add some more later.