Francesco's Actual List

Before the Internet era, when we traveled, we used to read a book, read a map, and get recommendation from randos. Now we see Instagram's pretty avocado toasts, read stuff we found on Google about the top 10 things to do on a layover, and get recommendations from famous chefs telling us where to go on TV.  It seems there is more information than ever, but not at the same time, not really. Now the problem is really that there are too many articles and recommendations to sort through, and which ones can you trust anyway?

For our video about Hong Kong, we went old school and I asked for recommendations from a real-live person. We asked Francesco.

We all need a Francesco. Francesco is just a friend who has excellent taste that can recommend us things that we can trust.

He's a friend from back when I used to work in a French restaurant as a waitress in college. Francesco was the general manager there. He went on to create one of my favorite restaurants in Seoul that closed recently (the one I mourned about in a previous email). 

The point is, Francesco knows about food - I mean GOOD FOOD - and he taught me lots about food. Not just what tastes good, but how to enjoy it.

He taught be how to open a bottle of champagne without any sound, how to eat vodka oyster shots, and just how delicious anchovy butter is. 

When we hangout it's all about food, and he always takes me to good food places. I don't have to worry about where to eat and what to order. No matter what it is, you can expect it to be great. So when he gives me a list, it's must-go, and go we did! Here's exactly where Francesco sent us in Hong Kong.

1. Yardbird (BYOB)
G/F, 154-158 Wing Lok Street Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

This place is hipster AF. You can tell by the bartenders' hairstyles. Yardbird is all about chicken. The yakitori is solid, it's good. It might seem like nothing special if you live in Asia, but it's pretty hard to do this basic right. The scotch egg here was exceptional, and we have no doubt the other dishes on the menu are going to be as good as all the other things we tasted. One thing to note is that they don't have their liquor license yet so they don't serve beer or any alcohol! But they let you bring your own with no corkage fee.


2. Chino, tostadas for the WIN
1B New Praya Kennedy Town, Kennedy Town

When Francesco was explaining the this place was a Japanese Mexican taco place, I was unsure about it. Maybe Francesco's recommendations are not all good??  I had doubts. Once we tasted the tacos though, we had to kept ordering until we had only today's taco left on the menu. And we ordered that too. I was a bit disappointed that one taco to an order is the standard here, but it didn't stop me going crazy on the tacos. Leigh ordered the roasted corn and avocado tostada, since in Korea the corn is somehow different and she craves summer corn.  I thought she was being wasteful of her opportunities to have good tacos. I was wrong (also I don't think I actually knew what a tostada was and judged Leigh). People seem to order lots of their dishes as well. All looked good. This is one of my favorite places we tried.

3. Ping Pong 129
B/F, Nam Cheong House, 135 Second Street, Sai Ying Pun

Gin is my favorite drink. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to hear that gin is very trendy in Hong Kong, and there was an entire bar dedicated to gin. Especially Spanish gin: the kind served in a goblet-type glass with creative garnishes is apparently Spanish? Dutch? This place was made famous by locals, Instagrammers, and foodies alike. It's just a cool place. If you are a gin lover like me, it's a good place to check it out.

4. La Cabane a Vin Bistro
62 Hollywood Road, Central

This place was a bit of a let down for us. We like wine, I love French food, and Leigh likes cheese. What could possibly go wrong, right? Natural wine. We both realized we are that into natural wine. It was good for pre-dinner drinks or late night drinks, or if you're into natural and biodynamic wines.

5. Rhoda
G/F Upton 345 Des Voeux Road West

Rhoda was one of the best experiences we had. I like it when the waiter gives you actualrecommendations. It's great when a waiter tells you if what you ordered too much food or not. What it could go well with. The waiter at Rhoda did not disappoint. The wine selection was also great, no natural wines. The vibe is a bit upscale, but the monk fish cheek dish was unbelievable. They also print out the menu every day, so you never quite know what the options are until you arrive.

6. Oma the Underground
Lower Basement, 79 Wyndham St., Central, Hong Kong

We didn't get a chance to go to this club. We were so tired from eating all the food we didn't have time to take pictures or go to this club. I don't know what the vibe here is, but since Francesco also has good taste in music (especially deep house), there will be good music and people here for sure.

This list might not be the guide to Hong Kong that you expected. It's not the top 10 dimsum places, or the oldest diners in the city, but it's good. We thought it was a bit weird at first, but because of Hong Kong's history, this list kind of make sense. The mix of cultures — west and east, the hodgepodge of different cuisines — it's wonderful mess. But don't worry we did also go taste Cantonese food. We managed to fit in dumplings, egg tarts, puddings, milk teas, and cha chaan teng breakfasts.