Dining with stars

TRAVELIFE Publisher Christine Cunanan fits seven Michelin-starred restaurants in four days of fine dining in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong offers enough gastronomic delights to excite even the most fastidious foodies. The Travelife team recently flew to Hong Kong to sample some of their best restaurants. We recommend the following with favorable ratings from the Michelin Guide.

Caprice

CapriceCaprice

Caprice at the Four Seasons Hong Kong is just about the best classical French dining experience in this part of the world. Chef Vincent Thierry, who came from the Four Seasons George V in Paris and who has been cooking at Caprice since it opened, has long been delighting the most fastidious diners with his controlled and refined cuisine. Caprice was a great favorite of Hong Kong's taitai and foodies in the know since way before the Michelin reviewers arrived, so tables have always been scarce since Day One.

But since the Michelin Guide put Caprice on the larger food map, it's become almost impossible to secure a table at short notice. If you want to eat here, advance reservations are highly recommended. The restaurant itself is gorgeous - classic interiors with impressive chandeliers that just take the dining experience a notch higher than almost everywhere else.www.fourseasons.com

Lung King Heen

This is the only Chinese restaurant to garner three Michelin stars so far, and almost everyone agrees that it serves the best seafood dishes and dim sum in Hong Kong. Chef Chan Yan Tak and his inventive culinary team merge unique flavors with innovative presentations amidst a silver-leaf ceiling and glass-accented interiors. And, yes, as of this writing, they're still serving some increasingly rare delicacies that have already been taken off the menus of other top Chinese restaurants. www.fourseasons.com

Pierre

Pierre485-Pierre

This modern French restaurant serves as the Hong Kong outpost of famous French chef Pierre Gagnier.  It's headed by Chef Nicolas Boujéma who did much of his training at one of the most respected restaurants in France's delightful Alsace region. The interiors are simple; but we guess you don't need to spruce your rooms up much when you have great food on the table and a fantastic harbor view from almost every window. Lunch is good value, with a three-course set menu that offers some very creative appetizers and a selection of main courses that are all perfectly done and in the classic style. Of course we also recommend dinner, particularly for a romantic evening with Hong Kong's million-dollar view ever present. www.mandarinoriental.com

Ming Court

Ming_CourtMing_Court

The Ming Court in Langham Place Hotel is a somber restaurant with ink landscape paintings and replica Ming Dynasty pottery for accents, and lively and colorful food as the main attraction. Recently it's become the talk of local foodies for its original, contemporary Cantonese menu. Chef Tsang Chiu King has become famous for his noodles and fried rice, but it's his own creations that keep customers coming back. The pan-fried chicken skin filled with minced chicken and black truffles, accompanied by sliced pumpkin, won the gold award in the 2010 Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Best of Culinary Awards, while the fried rice  with silky chicken and crispy conpoy won the gold award for 2011. www.hongkong.langhamplacehotels.com

Bo Innovation

Bo InnovationBo Innovation

It's not quite Chinese fine dining, but it's not molecular gastronomy either. In fact, you'll probably be hard-pressed to pinpoint a particular genre for the cooking here; but most of what you'll be eating will certainly be delicious, if not mind-blowing. Executive chef Alvin Leung, who calls himself the Demon Chef, describes his food as "extreme Chinese" and he's up for the challenge of not just meeting customers' expectations but exceeding these.

Fortunately, his creative team is only too happy to cooperate. The 16-course tasting menu (at least that's how many we counted when we had our four-hour dinner), accompanied by Bo Innovation's own wine pairing, is pricey for a restaurant that sits half of its customers in a streamlined dining area and places the rest out on the terrace. Hemmed in on all sides by crumbling buildings, the setting is pretty typical downtown Hong Kong. But, it's surprisingly pleasant and, frankly, the dishes are simply out of this world. www.boinnovation.com

Man Wah

Man Wah, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong's fine dining Cantonese restaurant, is a Hong Kong institution famous as much for its refined cooking and elegant classic interiors as for its perfect location on top of the hotel with a beautiful harbor view. Businessmen, international travelers and local food afficionados all make this a regular dining spot, and most have their particular favorites from Chef Man-Sing Lee's extensive menu of regular and seasonal items. We love the Peking Duck here; but the dim sum for weekend lunches is also highly recommended.www.mandarinoriental.com

Hung Delicacies

Hung DelicaciesHung Delicacies

The quality of the food and a no-nonsense approach to cooking goose the home-style way have helped Hung's Delicacies earn a Michelin star for two years in a row now. Frankly, Chef Lai Wai-Hung's signature dishes are nothing to look at - they don't have the vivacious colors of Cantonese dishes, for one thing - and anyone looking for a better version of the Chinese food they always eat had better look elsewhere. But if you want something different, and if you'd like a taste of the kind of dinners Chiu Chow grandmothers used to make, then this is the place for you. It's literally a hole-in-the-wall so just leave your expensive handbags in the hotel as there's no space for them in this tiny bistro that has overnight turned a pretty nondescript neighborhood into desirable real estate. Chef Lai did allow us a peek into their kitchen, though, and it's small but absolutely spotless.

Crowd favorites include the duck tongues in Chinese liquor and the sliced goose in marinated sauce. And you must try the two kinds of delicious noodles on offer: one is a healthy option full of vegetables, while the other is cooked in animal fat. Both are pure heaven.www.hungsdelicacies.com

TRAVELIFE Magazine is the Philippines' leading travel and lifestyle publication. www.travelifemagazine.com

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