Christmas dinners don’t have to be traditional. Stephenie Gee discovers five establishments offering alternative festive fare to satisfy those looking for something special
The chill of winter is setting in and the countdown to our favourite time of the year has begun. Which means plenty of merriment and abundant feasting. While turkey and stuffing or roast beef and ham are Christmas staples for many, there’s also a whole array of other indulgent culinary experiences on offer in Hong Kong’s vibrant dining scene that go beyond the classic holiday flavours.
Rosewood Hong Kong’s Legacy House, helmed by executive chef Li Chi Wai, is offering a Winter Solstice Festival Set Menu on December 22 for those interested in celebrating the holidays in a different light. One of the most significant festivals in the Chinese community with roots tracing back 2,500 years, the winter solstice, or dongzhi, which translates to “winter’s arrival”, signifies the start of the colder months. Priced at HK$2,380+10% per person, the eight-course menu features auspicious dishes including roasted suckling pig followed by double-boiled fish maw soup with gorgon nut, buffalo milk and young coconut; wok-fried spotted garoupa fillet; pan-fried pork dumpling in supreme broth; and sweet lotus seed soup with glutinous dumplings to finish.
Alternatively, savour a banquet-style dinner with Chef Li’s Christmas Eve Dinner Menu on December 24 for HK$2,180+10%, which features traditional Chinese dishes starring premium ingredients such as double-boiled abalone, dried mussel and Chinese herb soup; steamed scallop and lobster with caviar; stewed wagyu beef “three-cup” style; and peach resin and rose tea panna cotta.
Fancy spicing up your celebrations this year? Head next door to one-Michelin-star Chaat, meaning “to lick” in Hindi, for an aromatic, family-style festive lunch between December 24 and 26 or dinner on December 24 and 25 that boasts chef Manav Tuli’s clever spins on Indian classics and street-food bites. At HK$988+10% per person, lunch delicacies include a warming chestnut and mushroom shorba; bell-pepper-coated turkey gilafi seekh kebab; fragrant saffron, caramelised onion and garam masala pulao; and Christmas pudding kulfi. Dinner sees the addition of the likes of an amuse bouche of Kristal caviar pani puri, fish maw and liver keema served with homemade milk buns, abalone taar korma and venison biryani cooked with saffron and rose water for HK$1,688+10%. Not to mention glamorous night views of Victoria Harbour.
Also providing the ideal setting for a magical Christmas is Zuma, which will be serving a Festive Daikoku Tasting Menu bursting with flavours that bring modern Japanese izakaya flavours to the heart of Central. Capped at HK$1,280+10% per person, it features sumptuous Japanese wagyu tataki with black truffle, seared toro nigiri in wafu sauce and caviar, prawn tempura with veggies and tentsuyu, miso-marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf, and a premium selection of sushi and sashimi that can be topped with Kristal caviar for an additional cost. Because no celebration is complete without sweets, a lemon rum raisin polenta cake with pistachio gelato and popcorn will be served as the final course.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to move too far from the classic choices, Moxie’s six-course Christmas Tasting Menu reinvents traditional components such as butternut squash, chestnuts and Brussel sprouts for HK$888+10%. “With sustainability and ingredient-led dishes at the heart of what we do at Moxie, this menu not only celebrates the festive season but also shows guests the potential that winter produce has to elevate every dish,” says chef de cuisine Michael Smith.
Beginning with a refreshing corn blini that can be upgraded with a choice of either N25 caviar and crème fraiche or tonburi and horseradish, diners can then look forward to courses of black tiger prawn cocktail; potato and porcini velouté with black truffle; cheese and onion pecan pastry tart served with cranberry sauce; Ora king salmon with yamaimo, Tokyo turnip and spring onion dashi; and Christmas spiced custard slice with candied orange. As one-third of the Arcane Collective, founded by multi-award-winning Australian chef Shane Osborne, Moxie brings a fresh take on conscious dining with a plant-forward approach. So it’s a given that tasty vegetarian alternatives will also be offered, such as the terrine of Japanese leeks and nori, and celeriac carpaccio with Brussels sprouts, chestnut, tamarillo salsa and butternut squash.
The special five-course dinner menu led by chef Jacob Zuidervliet at sophisticated one-Michelin-star Belon will also make for a rather spectacular Christmas and Boxing Day. Dedicated to ingredient-driven cooking using the best of French culinary techniques, the menu valued at HK$1,988+10% highlights fantastic in-season produce, starting with the neo-Parisian eatery’s prized sourdough bread with Brittany butter and starters of foie gras and langoustine – two representative delicacies of French Christmas. Followed by the heart of the menu, an exemplary duck exquisitely executed using classically-minded techniques, and a chef-selected dessert, guests are guaranteed a good time.