When Mingoo Kang, the chef-owner of Seoul's two-MICHELIN-starred Mingles, came to Hong Kong for a four-hands dinner with Amber’s chef Richard Ekkebus in 2018, the city left an impression on him. “I always knew Hong Kong was the hub for gastronomy in Asia, but it was definitely an eye-opening moment when I experienced it,” says the Korean-born chef. Describing Hong Kong’s dining scene as “wide and diverse,” Kang was especially impressed by the quality of local Cantonese fare and the sophistication of global cuisines such as French and Italian.
Looking back, Kang feels that his collaboration with Ekkebus eventually led him to open his first Hong Kong outpost, Hansik Goo, two years later. “Thanks to chef Ekkebus, I was able to share my cuisine with Hong Kong diners for the first time. Actually, he has half-jokingly told me that every chef who had collaborated with Amber eventually opened a restaurant in Hong Kong.”
With Hansik Goo, Kang is keen to introduce the possibilities of Korean cuisine to Hong Kong diners by presenting a unique style inspired by an array of traditional recipes ranging from royal cuisine, temple cuisine, everyday food to home-cooked fare.
Despite not being able to visit Hong Kong as often as he wishes due to the pandemic, Kang came back in July last year for the relocation of Hansik Goo and had a chance to visit several MICHELIN-starred restaurants, where he enjoyed delightful meals by his chef friends.
“I have no hesitation picking The Chairman as my favourite place in Hong Kong. Mr. Danny Yip is a restaurateur I personally respect so much. It’s hard to pick just one dish as a signature or favourite because every time I visit, I am impressed by the amount of effort behind every dish.”
“It was very interesting to see how the Argentinian chef melds his personal story with Japanese inspired dishes, which can be felt throughout the dining experience, from the food to the interior."
“Chef Barry Quek’s European cuisine reimagined with Singaporean influences from his roots was very interesting. The “Bak Kut Teh” New Territories pork rib was a very memorable dish that shows the chef's interpretation of one of the most popular and traditional dishes of his hometown combined with his culinary experience in Europe.”
“VEA is one of my favourite places in Hong Kong. Chef Vicky is also a chef and a friend that I respect and like. He opened Wing last year and I saw lot of similarities between us, especially in the way we present our home cuisine in different concepts—like Mingles and Hansik Goo. I look forward to see where his next move will take him. I had a chance to taste the chicken clay pot rice on my last visit at VEA and it left a very strong impression on me. It reminded me of a similar dish called nurungji-tongdak in Korea. I really admire how he recreates traditional Cantonese dishes in a modern way."
Any new restaurant opening that you are particularly excited about?
Mosu Hong Kong. I respect chef Sung a lot for his outstanding talent and he is a dear friend as well. I was very happy when I heard he is opening a restaurant in Hong Kong. We spoke a lot to exchange thoughts and ideas about running restaurants in Asia’s most sophisticated dining scene. We hope to have a four-hands event one day when we can visit Hong Kong more freely without quarantine.
I had one of my most memorable meals at Neighborhood. I haven't had the chance to visit the restaurant yet, but chef David Lai was kind enough to prepare takeaways for me and send them to the hotel where I was staying during quarantine. It was absolutely one of the best meals I've ever had—just imagine how delicious it would be if I could actually dine-in at the restaurant!
A restaurant that more people should know about is Hansik Goo. For Hong Kong diners who haven’t visited Hansik Goo yet, I hope they could come and check out our authentic dishes as well as uplifted ambience of the new space.
Ying Jee Club is my go-to place for dim sum. I didn’t have chance to visit a lot of local restaurants for dim sum, but the dim sum collection I had at Ying Jee Club was definitely a memorable one. I could naturally nod and understood why this restaurant awarded two stars from the MICHELIN Guide. Personally,I am a fan of chef Siu as well.
CONTINUE READING: First Day We Got Our Stars: Steve Lee of Hansik Goo