Don Appétit: Savouring the flavours of celebrated chef Donovan Cooke’s life’s work

In the realm of gastronomy, there are chefs, and then there are culinary storytellers – those who, through their craft, weave together the flavours of their past, their journeys and their passion. Veteran chef Donovan Cooke, the creative genius behind the culinary magic at his new venture, Causeway Bay-based Donovan, is undoubtedly one such storyteller. His modern European menu has quickly captured the attention of the city’s foodies, making it a must-go-to restaurant for anybody looking for great food in the bustling heart of Hong Kong.

“The inspiration for the restaurant is basically being here in Hong Kong. I’m in the middle of the world with some of the best ingredients from around the world, and I have an opportunity to use and showcase the best of the ingredients following the seasons – and not so much following the seasons,” the chef laughs as he explains his ethos. “However, we are trying to maintain sustainability, and at the same time evolve classical combinations – which I’ve been doing for 40 years – in a more modern way.”

The roving Briton has been an instrumental figurehead in the fine- dining scene of wherever he has landed. At a young age, he was seasoned and nurtured in traditional French cuisine by the legendary, then-two-Michelin-starred Marco Pierre White at Harveys in London.

Embarking on his curious global journey, he headed first to France and then Australia, where his footprint was recognised by multiple accolades. Melbourne newspaper The Age’s Good Food Guide named him Chef of the Year in 2003 and 2004. He also made appearances on the reality TV show MasterChef Australia and co-authored the award-winning cookbook, Marriages. His dedication to innovation and new culinary excellence then won the hearts of local socialites and celebrities during a six-year stint at the helm of Derby Restaurant and Bar at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

With each step, he absorbed new techniques, flavours and inspirations, enriching his culinary palate and ultimately bringing him to a Hong Kong homecoming late last year. His self-titled restaurant artfully combines his own heritage with a global perspective – a testament to his eclectic journey, offering diners an experience that transcends borders.

“I want to showcase a vast array of dishes here in my new restaurant, and the best way to do that is to do a Japanese-style tasting menu,” he says. “It’s a journey of eight to 10-12 courses, starting with refreshing light and then moving on to a richer main course. In the past, when I did à la carte, people just go for the things that they’re safe or that they know, so I decided to do it omakase-style because I want people to taste lots of different things that they normally wouldn’t order.”

The dinner-tasting menu at the time of our review kicks off with an artistic ensemble of appetisers such as truffle macaron; parmesan tart with onions and flowers; chicken liver parfait, apple and prune; and the house signature soy-sauce brioche. These are followed by seared tuna belly decorated with spiced tartare, celeriac, truffle dashi and shiso; and the heady combination of the spiced roasted blue lobster with foie gras, fig, port wine, chocolate and coffee.

One of his standout dishes is smoked olive oil confit salmon, seasoned with leek, razor clam, bone broth, salmon roe and chive oil. It’s a culinary masterpiece that captures the essence of Chef Donovan on a plate.

A meat lover’s dream comes in the form of Pyrenees milk-fed baby lamb with girolles, gnocchi and thyme jus, and the cooked to a mouth-watering medium-rare, pepper-crusted wagyu 9+ sirloin atop onions, bone marrow and Bordelaise sauce.

Desserts of spiced roasted pineapple with pain d’épices ice cream and tonka bean panna cotta with rhubarb, honeycomb and Stone’s ginger wine jelly form a perfect palate cleanser to this savoury culinary adventure.

Amid the elegant ambience and the warm embrace of European hospitality, Donovan is a testament to the power of roots, the influence of loved ones and the fusion of global experiences into tantalising dishes that have earned the well-travelled chef countless plaudits for his unparalleled contributions to gastronomy.

Donovan, 16/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Photos: DONOVAN Video: Jack Fontanilla

Hummus Hurrah: A home away from Beirut, Maison Libanaise brings epicurean joy to the heart of Hong Kong

The hubbub of laughter and feasting echoes against wood- block and salmon-pink painted walls and zellige tiles. Fine, dainty lamps suspended from the ceiling and no-fuss green wooden stools at the bar, while doing little to absorb the thrum, add lustre. Just these elements alone conjure an inviting haven for a long, slow nightcap after a long, frantic day.

Occupying a three-storey walk-up in the bustling SoHo district of Central, Maison Libanaise stands as a culinary oasis, offering a captivating escape to the vibrant flavours and rich traditions of Lebanon. With its warm ambience, friendly service and an extensive menu that showcases the best of the country’s cuisine, it has become a go-to destination for food enthusiasts seeking an authentic Middle Eastern experience – transporting diners to the streets of Beirut, or as Chef Teya Mikhael would have it, her childhood memory lane.

“My recipes are very home-inspired rather than restaurant-inspired,” she says. “We try to provide a real home experience. It’s a female-dominant kitchen, just like it is back home. It’s all mothers and ladies who give out dishes with so much love and so much beauty.” The exuberant chef bursts into laughter: “But I am not a mom – yet!”

Stepping inside Maison Libanaise is to be greeted by an inviting, cosy atmosphere, reminiscent of a traditional Lebanese home. It makes for an intimate experience – though perhaps a little too snug at times, depending on the size of the dining crowd. Just as personal is the service. Chef Mikhael chats to diners like she would to friends, sharing her personal recommendations from the drinks list which runs from Middle Eastern-inspired contemporary cocktails to largely familiar and beautiful wines.

“Lebanon has a really big wine scene with over 60 to 70 wineries’” she says. “Here, we have the biggest Lebanese wine list, which we really try to emphasise. The Lebanese way is best spent with wine in hand, over long and leisurely meals shared with friends and family. It’s so ingrained in me that I try to sneak a couple of bottles home whenever I can,” she adds, with a cheeky wink.

But what has seen the restaurant boom is the food – with guests returning many times to explore the broad menu designed around a charcoal and wood grill. Spices are sourced directly from Lebanon, with sumac, in particular, standing out. Enhancing the natural flavours of the food it is cooked with, deep- red sumac features in almost every dish in this vibrant restaurant. There are specific seasons for sumac berries and the tart, acidic spice is prepared and used in the traditional way. Like pomegranate molasses, which the culinary team also applies liberally, it is at the heart of Lebanese cuisine.

The new a la carte menu is inspired by dishes the chef made with her mother and grandmother when she was growing up. Each dish is an edible memoir of cherished recipes from her childhood in Lebanon, carefully curated and reimagined from her unique perspective. Exhibit A: Sujuk Bel Banadoura, a symphony of spicy, tangy and sweet notes showcasing grilled beef sausages with matbucha (Moroccan tomato salad) and pomegranate molasses.

Another crowd favourite, Hummus Araydis is a testament to the chef’s creative spirit, marrying her love for hummus with the fond memories of prawns she orders at her favourite beachside haunt. In this dish, the creamy chickpea purée dances with chives, coriander, lemon and chilli, and is crowned with prawns sautéed in Aleppo chilli oil.

Of course, Lebanese cuisine is entirely about the shared table, a balance of flavours and dishes, and the moment of bringing people together. The Mashewe Mshakal platter does just that, embracing beef kafta, beef skewers, shish taouk (chicken kebab), lamb chops and vegetable skewers accompanied with hearth-baked pita bread, sumac-roasted tomato, grilled onion and the holy trinity of harissa, toum and tahini (red chilli-, garlic- and sesame-based relishes) for dipping.

Maison Libanaise is all about celebration, food and fun, and as home to three layers of indoor and outdoor drinking and dining salons, the merry hubbub will only intensify.

Maison Libanaise, 10 Shelley Street, SoHo, Central. Tel: 2111 2284.

Photos: Maison Libanaise Video: Jack Fontanilla

Amazing Lots Under the Hammer

The latest auctions produced a slew of multi-million-dollar bids for some amazing items including a magnificent fancy vivid blue diamond, a fearsome Ferrari, a sensuous Sanyu and some valuable whisky.

Royal Blue

Flawless diamond sets year record

A recent jewellery auction in Geneva produced a slew of huge prices, and topping the lot was a magnificent internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond set in a ring. Sold for a gargantuan US$44 million (about HK$343.4 million), it represented the highest price achieved by a jewel at auction in 2023. The superb stone, known as ‘The Bleu Royal’, was the highlight of Christie’s autumn Luxury Week, which amassed sales totalling US$140 million.

An intense bidding war took place to secure the gem, which eventually went to a private collection for the first time in 40 years. The whopping 17.61-carat fancy vivid blue pear-shaped brilliant- cut diamond is set in platinum and 18-carat rose gold and flanked by two pear-shaped brilliant-cut white diamonds of 3.12 and 3.07 carats, with all three stones internally flawless.

The Bleu Royal is the largest internally flawless fancy vivid blue diamond ever put up for auction. Christie’s jewellery expert Max Fawcett shared that it excited collectors from all over the world because of its long list of attributes, particularly the deep, rich blue colour that endows it with a unique quality.

Whisky Allure

60 Year Old Scotch stirs collector

Considered the world’s most valuable whisky, a bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 created a buzz in the auction room at Sotheby’s in London. Bottled in 1986, the 60 Year Old elixir numbered just 40 bottles, and every time one comes up for auction whisky connoisseurs worldwide wish to raise their hands and their glasses. This most recent prize – one of 12 bearing a label designed by the Italian painter – fetched £2.18 million (about HK$21.6 million), almost three times the pre-sale low estimate of £750,000.

The appeal among collectors was enhanced by the fact that Sotheby’s worked directly with The Macallan to recondition and authenticate the bottle – the first time this vintage has undergone reconditioning prior to being auctioned. This process involved replacing both the capsule and the cork, applying new glue to the corners of the labels and taking a 1ml sample to test against another 1926 bottle at the Glasgow office of Edrington, owner of the brand.

Sotheby’s spirits specialist Jonny Fowle believes this was the most desiraxble bottle of whisky ever to come to market. He says: “The Macallan 1926 is the one whisky that every auctioneer wants to sell and every collector wants to own.”

Nude Nature

Sensual Sanyu arouses intense bidding

A seminal Chinese modern painting led Christie’s evening sale of 20th and 21st-century art, with a packed Hong Kong saleroom witnessing the 1929 masterpiece change hands for an astonishing HK$187 million (about US$24 million). Femme nue sur un tapis (Nude on Tapestry) by Chinese-French artist Sanyu generated an electric atmosphere and such was the fierce competition that the auction attracted international participation from 24 countries. It was a bidder in the room, however, who landed this historically important work.

Born in Sichuan to a family who made their fortune in the silk business, Sanyu moved to Paris as a student in 1921 and is often hailed as the Chinese Matisse. Nude on Tapestry was his first major nude painting and it depicts Kiki de Montparnasse, a popular muse for the era’s avant-garde artists, in a style that reflects his mastery of calligraphy.

The valuable oil on canvas was entrusted to Christie’s from the prestigious Dreyfus Collection. A spokesperson for the auction house indicated that the outstanding result shows the resilience of the market and the enduring demand for Chinese modern art.

Red Racer

Fearsome Ferrari roars into history

A coveted Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962 was sold in New York by RM Sotheby’s for US$51.7 million, making it the most expensive of the marque ever to go under the hammer. It also whizzed into the record books by achieving the second-highest price for a car at auction – top honour here goes to a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé.

The whopping figure paid for this Ferrari is due in no small way to the 38 years of fastidious care lavished upon it by its previous owners, and the fact that this beautiful motor has a rich and distinctive history. It was the only GTO Tipo 1962 to race under the flag of the company’s own Scuderia Ferrari team. At the 1962 Nürburgring 1,000 km, it chalked up a class win and a second overall finish, before being driven by Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini at the 24 Hour Le Mans. Three years later, it was the runner-up in the Sicilian Hillclimb Championship.

One of its former owners was the chairman of the Ferrari Club of America, and the sale came with a detailed documented history of the car, including copies of factory build sheets, owner’s correspondence, period of racing coverage and magazine feature articles.

Dame and Fame: Classicism meets contemporary excellence at the timeless culinary haven of Gaddi’s in the Peninsula

As it marks 70 glorious years, Gaddi’s in The Peninsula Hong Kong stands as a testament to time and elegance. The peerless dining room of the ‘Grande Dame of the Far East’ has long been revered as a culinary gem. With a rich heritage spanning seven decades, it continues to captivate diners with its impeccable service and outstanding French cuisine.

The Peninsula opened its lavish restaurant in 1953, and it was named for General Manager Leo Gaddi, who had started the hotel’s new era of flawless service and attention to detail.

It quickly gained recognition as one of the top continental dining venues in the region, in addition to being the best restaurant in the city. Weeks in advance, its two dinner seatings a night were fully reserved, drawing foreign heads of state and celebrities.

“Gaddi’s sets itself apart from other restaurants through its unique combination of factors,” says Albin Gobil, Executive Sous Chef of The Peninsula Hong Kong. “Collectively, these elements – the first fine dining restaurant in the Far East to offer European cuisine, the city’s oldest dining establishment and exceptional service – contribute to Gaddi’s positioning as a highly sought-after Michelin-starred French fine dining restaurant in Hong Kong.”

Kaviari Daurikus caviar with Tsar Nikolai balik salmon and potato blinis

Stepping into the restaurant is like taking a stroll back in time. The interior exudes a classic charm, characterised by two suspended, retro crystal chandeliers, plush velvet upholstery and carpet and ornate woodwork. The soft lighting adds a touch of romance, creating an intimate atmosphere. The live music, featuring a talented pianist, further enhances the ambience, transporting guests to an era of sophistication and refinement.

The rest of the space is equally as pleasing to the eye. Large windows look out into the city streets and Victoria Harbour, the high ceilings offer grandeur and the walls replicate an Italian faux finish. Modern light fixtures rest against the walls and cast a bewitching glow, spotlighting the wall covering’s idiosyncrasies.

Just as the interior aims to seduce the old and new guards, the menu too succeeds in pleasing both. Gaddi’s has reached even greater heights recently, earning a Michelin star for the last four years in a row. Bringing the level of energy and enthusiasm expected from a fine seasoned restaurant, it ticks all of today’s essential boxes for a satisfying dining experience: fine food, cool and lavish interiors, consummate cocktails, an accessible wine list and agreeable service.

Bresse Chicken Parfait, White Piedmont Truffle, Crayfish, Nantua Sauce

Under the direction of Executive Sous Chef Albin Gobil, the restaurant’s elite culinary team created a stunning seven-course menu for a 70th-anniversary gala dinner that paid delectable homage to the establishment’s past through archive research and contemporary techniques.

The gastronomic parade moved from Kaviari Daurikus caviar with Tsar Nikolai balik salmon and potato blinis and Double-boiled Aubrac oxtail consommé in the crust with bone marrow and black Périgord truffle to Bresse chicken parfait with white Piedmont truffle, crayfish and Nantua sauce, before fish and meat mains of Dover sole filet à la Dieppoise with Bouchot mussels, prawns and celeriac and Rhug Estate roe deer saddle with caramelised shallots, soufflé potatoes and Bordelaise sauce. Mandarin raviolo with Champagne emulsion, and Apple tarte tatin with Avallen calvados and Tahitian vanilla crème fraiche sealed a sweet finale. Gobil’s masterpieces were showcased in both vintage and newly designed collections of tableware and glassware by Bernardaud.

Apple tarte tatin with Avallen calvados and Tahitian vanilla crème fraiche

In honour of Gaddi’s opening year, the exceptional dinner was combined with the best French wines and Champagnes, including a 1953 Domaine Remoissenet Père & Fils Vosne-Romanée. The wine list is extensive but not intimidating and takes diners around all the key wine-producing regions of France.

The restaurant’s elegant ambience, coupled with a menu of exquisite French cuisine, creates an unforgettable dining experience. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or seeking a refined evening of gastronomy, Gaddi’s is a destination that promises to transport you to a world of refined indulgence.

Gaddi’s, 1/F, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, The Peninsula Hong Kong.

Tel: +852 2696 6763,

Gadgets Galore

Two great gadgets designed to bring joy – a bike with enhanced features that will make any workout a sheer delight and a camera that can save and print digital images.

Instant Print

Shots that leave a legacy

Leica have updated their printed photo and camera specifications with the Sofort 2, an enhanced version of the Leica Sofort 1 which has proved such a resounding success. This new product has just come onto the market and looks set to offer camera consumers additional benefits for those who love instant printed photos. The love affair with instant prints took off in the 1970s and 1980s, and though the onset of the digital age seemed to push the instant print to the sidelines temporarily, the demand endures and this new hybrid model offers the advantage of combining both digital and analogue technology with greater flexibility.

The Leica Sofort 2 enhanced features allow users to permanently save digital images and choose the best photos before making the plunge to print them. This facility is available for all photos taken on your smartphone as well those shot with other Leica cameras and stored in the Leica FOTOS App containing a gallery of shots. Sofort 2 weighs 320 grams and has a RGB colour filter, its file size is around 1.2MB and has an image output time of around 16 seconds.

The camera is available in black, red or white options and offers a range of fun features to aid the creative process. The camera also has numerous accessories such as wooden picture frames to showcase the prints. Costs US$389.

Pedal Power

Cycle your way to pleasure

The Peloton Bike+ has incorporated improved features allowing those keen to get in their full resistance and endurance training every opportunity to push themselves to the limit in style and without any hindrance. For instance, the ability of a new and much larger touchscreen to swivel outwards allows someone keen to combine workouts the opportunity to undertake other strength and cardio routines.

The speakers are also of higher quality, such that the effect of these powerful built-in speakers is to make those engaged in heart-pumping activity feel closer to the action and the enhanced quality can cancel out all distractions, meaning the user is supremely focused on the activity class during sweaty workouts. In addition, an automatic resistance setting reduces the need to think about making correct settings and allows users to train stress-free.

The monitor offers a variety of classes with different instructors and other classes such as yoga, boxing and weights are options using the range of accessories. Users can connect to live classes in other parts of the world such as Sydney, New York and London and feel the warmth of the community. Other additional features include an upgraded front-facing camera from 5MP to 8MP, a slightly changed handlebar design and power cables are now all internally routed. Price from US$2,040.

Miracle or Mirage: The wonder products of good health may not be all they are cracked up to be

In the world of health and wellness, there are a plethora of products that claim to offer extraordinary benefits. It is only natural to question whether these grand claims hold any truth. Here, we delve into three such products – alcohol-free beer, toothpaste said to heal teeth and gums, and over-the-counter painkillers – seeking expert opinion on whether all their hype is justified. Are consumers right to trust those bold proclamations on the packet or bottle, or have we become too cynical in the modern age?

Alcohol-Free Beer: A Healthier Alternative?

The market for no- or low-alcohol beers has grown significantly, with major breweries and craft beer producers jumping on board. But do these beverages truly contain negligible amounts of alcohol, and are they genuinely better for our health than traditional beers?

Big brands like Heineken and Guinness are now offering versions of their signature brews with the alcohol removed. According to Laura Willoughby, an expert on low- and no-alcohol drinks, Guinness uses a cold-filtration method to create Guinness 0.0, a non-alcoholic beer that closely resembles the taste of the original stout. This process involves removing the alcohol and reintroducing other ingredients to maintain flavour and texture.

Some craft brewers have used different yeast strains and innovative technology to create non-alcoholic beers with exceptional taste. In fact, some of these brews have won awards in blind tastings, dispelling the notion that alcohol- free options lack flavour.

Labelling standards vary by country, with most considering drinks below 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) as alcohol-free. In the UK, however, the threshold for non-alcoholic classification is 0.05% ABV, and beverages ranging from 0.05% to 1.2% ABV are considered low-alcohol.

One important question is whether these low-alcohol beers can intoxicate consumers. Willoughby assures us that this is not possible. Research conducted in Germany, where volunteers consumed 0.4% ABV beer, found blood-alcohol levels to be 100 times lower than the legal drink-drive limit.

Drinking alcohol-free or low-alcohol beer, which tend to have fewer calories compared to their alcoholic counterparts, can also provide health benefits. They contain polyphenols, compounds that help reduce inflammation and promote overall well-being. Additionally, these beers often possess isotonic properties that aid in rehydration, making them suitable sips after physical exertion or in hot climates, according to nutritionist Kerry Torrens.

Drinking in moderation is crucial. Keeping within the recommended weekly alcohol limit can help reduce the risk of health issues associated with excessive alcohol consumption.Pregnant women and those with alcohol dependency are advised to avoid even the smallest amounts of alcohol.

Healing Toothpaste: Too Good to Be True?

Toothpaste manufacturers often make bold claims about repairing enamel, protecting gums, and alleviating teeth sensitivity. But are these assertions genuine?

Dr Saoirse O’Toole, a clinical lecturer in prosthodontics at King’s College London, says the advantage offered by expensive toothpaste labelled as “enamel repairing” is minimal compared to standard products containing fluoride. The improvement is estimated to be only from 2% to 5%.

It is important to note that no toothpaste can completely restore enamel. “You will have a small additional benefit, but nothing will compensate for what you are doing in the diet, the way you are brushing, and the amount of oral procedures you are using,” she states.

Nor is toothpaste a remedy for protecting or hardening gums, according to O’Toole, who stresses that the best way to protect your gums is through brushing, flossing, and interdental cleaning methods.

However, there is evidence that toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth can be beneficial and even offer instant relief. These toothpastes contain specialised desensitising agents that form a protective film on exposed tubules, reducing pain associated with sensitivity. For individuals experiencing dentine hypersensitivity, trying different brands of dentine hypersensitive toothpaste may help identify the most effective option.

Do Painkillers Ease the Pain?

Everyone experiences acute pain from time to time, be it a migraine, sports injury or, for women, period pain. Sufferers generally have their go-to painkiller at hand to provide relief, but is there much difference between taking aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen? And can some brands act more quickly than others to dull pain and target particular areas of the body?

Biochemist Dr Andrew Moore believes that analgesics advertised to be fast-acting do, in many cases, warrant this bold claim. “If you package paracetamol with sodium bicarbonate it seems to be absorbed faster,” he points out. Paying a little more to get a tablet with caffeine in it, or drinking coffee on the side can also help. Analysis of evidence in 500 clinical trials and 50,000 patients suggested that 10% more people received good pain relief when the product contained at least 100mg of caffeine, indicated Moore.

However, over-the-counter painkillers may be less effective than commonly expected. Moore warns that only about 30% or 40% of people who have moderate to severe pain will receive satisfactory pain relief from paracetamol, and this figure can drop to 25% to 30% when taking aspirin. Ibuprofen, a non- steroid anti-inflammatory drug, appears to offer more effective pain relief, though, with “about 50% or 60% of people getting good pain relief”.

Some brands of ibuprofen can be fast-acting. Moore says salt formulations of ibuprofen act quicker than standard acid ones, especially when taken on an empty stomach. Ibuprofen also tends to have fewer side effects than aspirin.

He suggests that ingesting a combination of pain relivers can be beneficial. Moore believes scientific research does not indicate that painkillers are effective at targeting a specific location of pain in the body.

Dr Mary Joan Macleod, a clinical pharmacologist, argues that while painkillers all work on the same pathway, different painkillers work on the pathway in slightly different ways.

All painkillers will target any pain in the body, but if the nerve endings are being stimulated by inflammation, she recommends ibuprofen. “For joint pains you are much better with an ibuprofen,” she states. “Ibuprofen is better for period pains because there are a lot of prostaglandins produced in the womb around the time of the menstrual cycle.” She also suggests combining paracetamol and ibuprofen when in pain.

According to Macleod, there is little difference in quality between the various brands of painkillers, but capsules are likely to provide faster relief as they are absorbed more easily.

James Heeley: Perfumes to Pleasure

James Heeley, the proud creator of Heeley Parfums, has a strong sense of what makes a good perfume and has an overriding passion for scents that are elegant and pleasurable – all can be purchased at Scented Niche.

Ones to Remember: Award-Winning Interiors and Divine Dishes Ensure a Blissful Evening at 1111 Ones

Upscale Italian and French food becomes the food of the angels at 1111 Ones, the Central restaurant that checks off all the requirements for a pleasurable modern European dining experience – superb cuisine, chic and opulent interiors, top-notch beverages and more – then daringly elevates them to a higher plane.

Named for an angel number that celebrates new beginnings in life’s journey, 1111 Ones draws on the vision and direction of Chef Chris Chan, a culinary specialist with more than two decades of expertise and a prestigious background at a two-Michelin-starred restaurant. The unhurried interiors are reminiscent of the much-photographed Antelope Canyon in Arizona. Undulating waves of the high vaulted ceiling and warm, rusty colour tones are further highlighted by a wooden floor, straightforward wooden chairs and tables and accents of grey rock formations.

A bar with a marble countertop grounds the area, and its line-up of Italian liqueurs waiting to be served is another of the many unique touches in this dining room. All of these elements made the restaurant an overall winner of the 2022 International Restaurant & Bar Design Awards.

“It is said that those who continuously see this angel-number sequence will have great things coming their way. We are dedicated to providing a tranquil environment with divine food, where guests can forget about their life qualms and truly feel at peace,” proclaims Chef Chan.

Just as the interior features aim to seduce the old and new guard, the menu also succeeds in pleasing both. A fresh ingredients plate presenting the key elements of the tasting menu is provided before diners start their culinary trip so the mind can be primed for the gastronomic offerings ahead.

Chan personally selected the French Oscietra caviar for the first course. The second appetiser sees toro – the fatty underbelly of Japanese bluefin tuna – uniting with Hokkaido sea urchin and the fresh tomato consommé jelly.

The next dish features monkfish liver, cooked using the same technique as foie gras to achieve a similar texture and flavour. Morel is another luxurious creation, with the prized scented French mushrooms prepared in a method borrowed from Asian-style kitchens. It is stuffed with cuttlefish paste and served with squid on the side.

Amadai urokoyaki – tilefish grilled with its scales intact – is a standout among the main courses. The flavour of the fish is enhanced by the crispy scales and further highlighted by the accompanying onion chutney. African yellow croaker fish maw is another prominent dish, presented on top of a French-style lobster soup and rice crispies, giving the combination of tastes a distinctive twist.

The meat main of Hida beef – a supreme wagyu from Japan’s Gifu prefecture – is served with fresh parsnip and asparagus as well as a purée of pumpkin and black garlic. Alternatively, the Spanish deep-sea red treasure of carabinero is grilled on binchotan (Japanese white charcoal), presented with tom yum- infused puntine and augmented by roasted straw mushrooms, dried lime slices and Thai basil emulsion.

Desserts, of course, are not to be missed. The beetroot sweet is served with Granny Smith apple chunks and jam and topped by a French-style baked meringue. The second dessert melds chestnut and chrysanthemum – rich chestnut paste wrapped around vanilla mousse and served with smooth and sweet chrysanthemum ice cream and tangy dried fruit.

The chef will offer guests a yuzu sake jelly that resembles a Daruma doll at the conclusion of the meal, in a nod to the angel number.

While those of us who venture here for a rare night of dizzying culinary bliss will return back to earth to our go-to comfort food, whenever we sit down to a European meal, we will be reminded of 1111 Ones and all we have been missing.

1111 Ones Restaurant & Lounge, 11/F, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2910 1128,

Text: Joseff Musa Photos: 1111 Ones Video: Jack Fontanilla

What’s on? Things to do this November in Hong Kong

Mark your calendars and see the amazing swim across Victoria Harbour or views flicks at the film festivals or absorb cultural offerings at museums, music festivals and dance performances this November.

New World Harbour Race

Against the superb and unforgettable backdrop of the Hong Kong skyline, this challenging swim allows competitors to test their mettle in the waters of Victoria Harbour. The cross-harbour race, which traces its roots back to 1906, is always a popular draw and welcomes thousands of avid participants from across the world. Swimmers on the day will commence from the Bauhinia Square Public Pier in Wan Chai and finish at the Avenue of Stars, Tsim Sha Tsui. The quota for entrants this year has increased to 4,000 and there will be an elite International Race as well as hardy swimmers from across the Greater Bay Area taking the plunge.

When: 12 November

Where: Victoria Harbour

How much: Free

Muse Fest HK 2023

Explore the cultural delights on offer across various venues in the city’s history, art and science museums under the theme ‘Hong Kong H.A.S. Museums. All month there are multifarious events designed to broaden your horizons and understanding of mind-blowing subjects such as the wonders of science fiction as portrayed at an exhibition staged by the Hong Kong Science Museum. A two-day carnival entitled ‘A Fiesta of Imagination’ is a highlight. This is just one of a superb series of events and programmes across many venues which allow visitors to absorb knowledge and soak up culture.

When: 1-30 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Free

For more information:

The Great Gatsby

Hong Kong Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre captures the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, in a wonderful portrayal of life lived to excess in opulent 1920s America – a tale of never-ending parties, unbridled greed and obsessive desires simmering not far from the surface in high-society New York. Performed against the backdrop of a steamy jazz-infused soundtrack and art deco sets by Tim Yip, dancers along with vocalist E. Faye Butler and narrator James Seol capture the spirit of the age.

When: 4-5 November

Where: Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre

How much: From $220

Jewish Film Festival

Asia’s flagship Jewish festival has gone from strength to strength and now offers a magnificently diverse range of films showcasing Jewish life. The number of filmmakers keen for their work celebrating the Jewish tradition to be showcased in Hong Kong has grown, with 21 features, documentaries and short films able to be enjoyed.

When: 11-19 November

Where: Golden Scene Cinema, Kennedy Town

How much: From $110 per film; all access pass HK$1,800

For more information:

Asian Film Festival

Watch some of the finest films Asia has to offer at various cinemas throughout Hong Kong. Almost 100 films will be aired during the festival, which has gained international recognition for the quality and breadth of its programme. In addition to locally produced features, regional selections from the far and near will be screened. Masterclasses and workshops will be staged by renowned filmmakers such as Shunji Iwai and Koji Yakusho, while eight directors including Taiwan’s Lee Hong- chi vie for the New Talent Award.

When: Until 17 November

Where: Various venues

How much: From $95

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Pop Culture Festival

Hong Kong certainly has its own distinctive pop culture and a whole raft of acts will be performing throughout a festival that urges us to ‘Let’s Pop’. There will also be outdoor activities, thematic exhibitions and film screenings to bring back memories and conjure up masterpieces from Hong Kong’s golden era of Cantopop in the ’80s and ’90s. The festival highlights the progress over the years of local pop music, its creativity and its character.

When: Until 18 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Various prices

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Killing TV

Interaction between art and television is the concept behind Killing TV, as 15 contemporary artists from a mix of backgrounds contribute to an exhibition that explores the cultural, psychological and social impact of the boob tube. A range of videos including performance art and sculptural installations as well as TV shows and commercials will excite the senses and stimulate memories from the past, present and the future while addressing television’s pervasive power since the 1970s.

When: Until 19 November

Where: Tai Kwun

How much: Free

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Night Vibes Hong Kong @ Museums

As efforts to support the ‘Night Vibes Hong Kong’ campaign gather momentum, Hong Kong museums are offering special programmes to bolster evenings out around town. The Hong Kong Museum of Art presents a range of exhibitions and screens a romantic local film.

When: Until 26 November

Where: Hong Kong Museum of Arts, Hong Kong Science Museum and Hong Kong Space Museum

How much: Various prices

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Great Music 2023

Winding down this month is a series of concerts under the Great Music 2023 umbrella that has seen musicians from around the world gather in Hong Kong to perform a plethora of programmes catering to a wide variety of tastes. The eclectic musical mix concludes with some superb piano-centric performances. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott team up once again, youthful South Korean talent Seong-Jin Cho hits the keys during a stirring recital, and veteran Brazilian jazz artist Eliane Elias lets rip.

When: Until 28 November

Where: Various venues

How much: Various prices

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Rice Rhapsody: In a city where rice is life, Sushi Haru’s Chef Hirokuni Shiga orchestrates a masterful omakase

As Asians, we tend to gravitate to a bowl of piping hot rice to satisfy our hunger at any time of the day. But there’s the undeniable draw of something more, for which sushi, Japan’s heart of culinary offerings, sparks an entirely new love affair. The presence of countless establishments paying homage to the intricacies and revelations of Japan’s heart of culinary offerings underscores the Hong Kong craving for raw fish atop vinegared rice.

Taking over the hinoki wood dining counter of just exactly eight seats, Chef Hirokuni Shiga is flexing his faultless sense of taste at the intimate setting of Sushi Haru, at the top of Wyndham Street in Central. This humble master of Edomae sushi began his career at his family’s kappo-style restaurant and it wasn’t until he was in his early 20s that, at the invitation of his father’s friend, he had his first encounter with omakase sushi. He began an apprenticeship, and from then on, his imaginative culinary creations have captivated diners.

”What I think makes us stand out is that I am able to incorporate everything I have learned in kappo and kaiseki dining into the dishes I serve,” says Shiga, who doesn’t shy from sharing his own story from behind the counter. “For example, depending on the piece of fish I am serving, I use different types of rice and details like this help to shape the guest’s experience.”

Both Hong Kong and Japan are known for wearing their history as a badge of honour. Although it may seem that tradition and modernity are forever in flux, Sushi Haru manages to pay homage to the past while expressing a contemporary vibe. The Zen aesthetic is further enhanced by a display of minimal-themed, charcoal- based framed drawings and a grey and brown colour combination – the only two hues evident throughout the restaurant.

But of course, there’s the sushi, the main star of the show, as well as the chef showing off his knife skills while finely slicing a selection of seafood. His kitchen balances flavour and subtlety without coming off at all gimmicky and then splashes of vivid, varied colour are served dish after dish. Think akami (lean red tuna), shiromi (white fish), nimono (simmered fish), kai (shellfish), ika (squid), tako (octopus), ebi (shrimp), kani (crab) and gyoran (fish roe).

But of all these sensational toppings, it’s the hikarimono (silver-skinned fish) that Shiga names as his personal favourite. “I am most proud of our kohada [gizzard shad] and kasugo [young sea bream] because, although they are the most labour- intensive, the hard work can be tasted in the result,” he says. “Oftentimes, in the world of sushi, a true test of a sushi chef is in how they prepare kohada.”

There’s also good news for newcomers to East Asia who have yet to master chopsticks. “You can eat with your fingers or you can use chopsticks,” he adds, smiling. The dexterous chef also beguiles his audience with his step-by-step method of assembling a perfectly shaped sushi, which involves gently pressing the fish onto the rice.

In between exquisite bites, sake and beer add a smooth, subtle sweetness to the night’s bouquet of flavours. Shiga, who is often caught raising a glass or two with his audience, also brings a citrusy kick via a fruit-infused sake to the table.

“Sushi, if you are to just look at it, is not too complicated, but the amount of care that is put into it should always be reflected on the faces of your guests,” he emphasises. “That is when you know you have succeeded.”

The looks of joyous satisfaction around the table as our omakase feast concludes is a testament to both Sushi Haru and Chef Hirokuni Shiga’s triumph. Rice will always be appealing anywhere on this side of the world, but Sushi Haru truly goes far beyond satisfying a craving.

Sushi Haru, Mezzanine, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2111 1450

Photos: Jack Fontanilla / Sushi Haru Video: Jack Fontanilla