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Hong Kong's Best Group-Friendly Restaurants: Why Nobody Dines Alone Here



"Table for one" is probably one of the most rarely heard phrases in Hong Kong. Dining in a big group is the norm, whether it's colleagues from work, a bunch of friends from school meeting up for a reunion, or a family getting together for their regular Sunday nosh. Vast circular tables with a revolving stand in the middle – so everyone gets a chance to dig it to their favorite dish – are a routine accessory in Chinese restaurants. In short, catering for large parties is so normal in Hong Kong restaurants it's barely given a second glance.

Pretty much wherever you travel in Hong Kong, there's a restaurant that will do very nicely for a big group dinner. On the edges of Central, Grassroots Pantry holds sway. Down on the waters of Aberdeen harbor, the Jumbo Floating Restaurant has been entertaining folk by the score for decades. And as well as local operations, there are big international names like Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, known the world over for its fine dishes, and Chef Bombana's Otto e Mezzo.

With big groups comes a fair amount of noise. Hong Kong's restaurants tend to be fairly boisterous, with everyone giving vent to their feelings of enjoyment of both company and what's on the table.


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Jimmy's Kitchen


Jimmy's is, perhaps, Hong Kong's most famous restaurant. Located on Wyndham Street, this Continental-style restaurant has a definite Western atmosphere. Menu options span the globe from New Zealand shellfish to North American beef and Western European corned beef and cabbage. After more than 70 years, Jimmy's is still popular with Hong Kong's expatriate community, especially as a place to meet up for a good lunch. Reservations, therefore, are suggested. Jimmy's popularity is based on its consistency, so you know what you're going to get, and it's not overly dressed up. Of course, there is a strong retro appeal too. MTR: Central.


It sounds incredible but it's true: the yummiest Italian food outside Italy is hidden at the south tip of China, according to the Michelin Guide. Located on Chater Road in Central, fine-dining restaurant 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA in Central was the first and only Italian kitchen to be given three stars away from the gourmet country. The sleek 430-square-meter establishment was founded by Bergamo-born chef Umberto Bombana, who has endeavored to build the Italian food scene in Hong Kong for two decades. Food come in a simple and concise three-page daily menu. The restaurant also operates a five-course degustation meal for haute cuisine lovers. It can be hard to get a dinner reservation but customers can also order food at the bar.


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Central
Isola
Photo courtesy of Isola


Hong Kong is not lacking when it comes to restaurants with a view, so a place needs to be truly exceptional in some other way to distinguish itself from the pack. Isola's floor-to-ceiling windows and huge outdoor terrace do indeed offer stunning panoramas, and its tastefully monochromatic decor is stylish and clean. But its food is stellar from appetizer to dessert. Start with baked mozzarella in walnut bread with sweet cherry tomatoes, a layering of flavors and textures that is simply brilliant. Main course dishes are just as impressive: grilled sirloin with red onion and anchovy sauce, and salt-crusted sea bass, in particular, stand out. The clientele here tends to be trendy and well-coiffed; reservations are strongly encouraged.


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Tsim Sha Tsui
Sabatini


As with Chinese food, Italian fare lends itself to big group meals. This sophisticated Italian restaurant is located at the Royal Garden Hotel, in the heart of the Tsim Sha Tsui East business district. Inside, you'll find a dining environment complete with a mix of traditional decor, music and service that seems to whisk you away to Rome. The antipasto buffet is beautifully arranged and nearly impossible to resist, and the entrees at Sabatini have a Roman lilt and feature interesting twists on traditional fish, shellfish and veal dishes. If you can, try and save room for their famous tiramisu. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui


Bombay Dreams
Photo courtesy of Bombay Dreams


Indian food is quite popular in Hong Kong, given the city's substantial Indian population, so purveyors of the piquant cuisine are a dime a dozen. Bombay Dreams earns high marks, though, for its exceptional cooking. A wide variety of appetizers includes several soups not ordinarily found on Indian restaurant menus, such as Murg Shorba (chicken) and Tamatar Ka Shorba (tomato based). The selection of main courses is extensive as well, with numerous fish and seafood dishes along with vegetable, chicken and lamb based favorites. The buffet lunch is quite popular with local office workers, and really very reasonably priced. MTR: Central.


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Central
Yung Kee


The famous Yung Kee is enormous and one of Hong Kong's oldest and most popular Cantonese restaurants. The roasted goose is their signature entree, but the menu also features a fairly large list of award-winning dishes. The restaurant offers four floors of dining space, from the casual first floor serving barbecued meats, to the exclusive fourth floor offering the finest Cantonese cuisine. Set menus will guide those unfamiliar with Cantonese fare to a full and satisfying meal that samples the best of the restaurant's bill of fare. Take-out orders are accepted. The restaurant is usually fairly busy, so reservations are suggested. MTR: Central.


Grassroots Pantry
Photo courtesy of Grassroots Pantry


Grassroots Pantry is one of the most impressive restaurants to have opened in Hong Kong in years. It's vegetarian, incredibly imaginative, and the food is presented beautifully amid inspiring surrounds. Very much the brainchild of the dynamic and visionary Peggy Chan, the Pantry is open for much of the day, dispensing the likes of coconut kefir yogurt parfait for breakfast, and buckwheat pappardelle Bolognese and kelp and mung bean noodle salad thereafter. Desserts include a stone fruit almond cobbler, and there are some stunning cocktails too like the gin and tonic with grapefruit juice and maple syrup. The prices are reasonable, the service superb, and the clientele charming. What's keeping you?


Ruth's Chris Steak House
Photo courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House


If you are planning to eat in this restaurant, better plan to arrive with an empty stomach. Menu selections in this steakhouse include the mouthwatering New York Strip or a jaw-dropping 40-oz. Porterhouse Steak for two. Dishes such as stuffed chicken breast are available for those who prefer not to indulge in red meat. For those with a sweet tooth the dessert is a must-try, especially the banana cream pie, and portions are made to share. The friendly waitstaff is willing to accommodate your needs, and the warm atmosphere is particularly inviting. Business casual attire and reservations are recommended. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui


Jumbo Floating Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Jumbo Floating Restaurant


In operation for decades, the Jumbo has become something of a landmark. Renovated to create a modern and stylish interior, expansions over the years include a tea garden, banquet and party facilities and a museum exhibit of bronzeware. The restaurant offers an extensive menu and is a popular dim sum spot on Sunday morning, when it opens early. For lunch and dinner, you can choose from a la carte options, or select from one of about a half dozen set menus in varying degrees of opulence. Opinions differ on the overall quality of the experience, but one thing is for certain: the Jumbo Floating Restaurant is quintessential Hong Kong.


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Tsim Sha Tsui
Felix
Photo courtesy of The Peninsula


The intriguing decor, the magnificent views, and the delectable food offered at this establishment complement one another to create an unforgettable dining experience. The sleek interior was designed by the renowned Philippe Starck. Menu selections include a variety of fusion cuisine, which delicately blends the flavors indicative of the east and the west. Most any guest will be impressed with the wine room, the two bars, the disco, and the long table that doubles as a catwalk. This is the perfect place to impress an important business client or a significant other. Business attire. Reservations are recommended. MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui


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Meet Ed Peters

Ed Peters has been based in Asia for much of his life.

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