Globetrotting American-French restaurateur Camille Lisette Glass landed in Hong Kong six years ago and after stints at La Cabane and Locofama, she brings her inimitable mix of Ferrandi-school elegance and rock n’ roll to Brut!, the stripped-back neighbourhood wine bar she co-owns with Chef George Kwok.
Pairing unusual, small-batch natural, organic and biodynamic wines with seasonal share plates that riff on Cantonese, Asian and nostalgic American influences, Brut! is a rare bird in Hong Kong’s crowded dining scene – a totally independent, homegrown restaurant. An advocate of sustainability and community, Camille is on a mission to champion other local, family-run establishments. Here’s her list of where to eat like a chef in Hong Kong.
J48 / Maru
This is a small, and ever-so-slightly rowdy Korean bar-restaurant in the middle of Soho that’s always packed on weekends. Maru is my absolute go-to place for a casual, fun and delicious meal with friends. The owner Jay, is an incredibly generous host; the messages of neon-lit love scribbled all over the walls complete the vibe. The cheese-egg rolls are the ultimate comfort food, and the kimchi pancake is the perfect companion to rounds of soju and Korean beer on tap. Vegetarians rejoice as the meatless japchae and cold tofu bibimbap are delicious.
48 Staunton St, Central, facebook.com/j48hk
Although there’s an ever-growing number of trendy brunch spots around town, I love nothing more than going for a cha-taan-teng (a Hong Kong-style cafe) for a traditional, cheap, and delicious breakfast. Cross Cafe, in Sai Ying Pun, offers a slightly more refined cha-taan-teng experience while still remaining completely faithful to its origins. The egg sandwich (ask for it toasted!) is a two-inch-thick wonder of warm eggs and melted butter. For drinks, try an ice-cold Kowloon Dairy chocolate milk served in a giant mountain of crushed ice, or a yin-yeung, a truly Hong Kong concoction of tea, coffee, and evaporated milk – there’s more than enough caffeine to shock you out of your hangover.
Shop 12, Hang Sing Mansion, 48-78 G/F High St, Sai Ying Pun, lark.com.hk/en/crosscafe
金源小館 (Your Restaurant)
Known simply as ‘the chicken place’ by me and my friends, this small family-owned restaurant seems to have survived the gentrification of this part of Wan Chai. This restaurant does one thing, and they do it really, really, well: Shandong-style roast chicken and tofu. An entire chicken is poached, then roasted and drowned in a soy-based sauce with a mound of chopped garlic and served with herbal soup. On a warm day, I like to get the chicken to go (with some token choi sum) and sit in the bleachers at the Southorn basketball courts, listen to podcasts and watch the world go by.
3 Tai Wong St E, Wan Chai, facebook.com/YourRestaurant.WC/
Oi Man Sang
One of the few remaining dai-pai-dongs in Hong Kong, the beating heart of Oi Man Sang is a giant blazing jet-engine of a stove, and a single wok wrapped in aluminium foil to stop the heat from searing passers-by. The sound of the wok can be heard long before you even reach the restaurant, and draws diners from all over Hong Kong to this corner of Sham Shui Po. Their signature dish is black pepper beef and potatoes; on a fine evening, nothing beats sitting down with friends, Tsingtaos, and shamelessly over-ordering.
Sham Shui Po Building, 1A-1C Shek Kip Mei St, Sham Shui Po, +852 2393 9315
Okra holds a very special spot in my heart because it’s an independently-owned and operated restaurant that is turning out consistently excellent cuisine. More than your average izakaya, the aged yellowtail sashimi and yuba ‘noodles’ is an example of how they are offering up new takes on Japanese cuisine, while the Katsu Sando is the best in town. There’s a well-curated list of artisanal sakes and the front of house team are hugely knowledgeable and passionate about the products they serve. Delicious.
110 Queen’s Rd W, Sai Ying Pun, okra.kitchen
Hero image: Camille by Nicoline Aagesen
For more stellar eateries loved by locals in the know…