One of the arbiters of authentic Vietnamese cuisine in our city, chef Steven Nguyen was born to Vietnamese immigrants, and is a first-generation Canadian. Growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, he was surrounded by aunts, uncles and grandparents who loved to cook and instilled in him the spirit of communal Vietnamese dining.
He grew up in his father’s SoHo restaurant, learned quickly in his first job and, while still in his 20s, co-founded Black Sheep Restaurants. Syed Asim Hussain says commitment to innovation, values and community is their key ingredient
My meal at Le Garçon Saigon was so fresh and green, it was easy to convince myself that I was having an assortment of salads for dinner. I love how Chef La pushes the boundaries of exotic Vietnamese flavours on his never-ending quest to innovate and make Vietnamese food interesting.
“There’s an old Barbadian rhyme ‘one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak’, which is a pretty good basic guideline to use. Here, the sour is fresh lime juice, the sweet is Falernum and Orgeat, the strong is subpar rum and the weak is ice and fresh orange juice.”
For this relatively young restaurant group, 2016 was already a landmark year, with three stellar new openings in the first six months alone. And it's looking like another bumper year for restaurateurs Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark, who have lifted the veil on three new venues in 2017.
Osteria Marzia is certainly a welcome addition to Wan Chai’s eclectic culinary mix, and its small but carefully curated menu is testament to the focus and mastery behind each dish. There are no showy or unnecessary bells and whistles here – just elevated and excellent versions of classic dishes, where quality ingredients take centre stage.
A Hong Kong-born Punjabi, Hussain has revealed NPC to be his biggest passion project yet: It's inspired by The Punjab Club, the private social and athletic club in Lahore where Hussain spent his childhood; as well as a nod to Hussain's father, a restaurateur who operated The Mughal Room in Hong Kong in the '80s. This emotional attachment may have been the catalyst for aiming to set the bar even higher with this latest opening: Without question, New Punjab Club is one of Black Sheep's most thoughtfully curated venues to date.
Black Sheep Restaurants group has more on its plate than usual. Dashing between a new opening in Wan Chai and brand new joint New Punjab Club on Wyndham Street, company co-founder Syed Asim Hussain is a man with quite a few missions – and slightly out of breath.
In Hong Kong, it can get pretty tricky to separate the Indian and Pakistani restaurants that will actually satisfy your cravings from the otherwise average offerings you happen to come across on the street. Say hello to Black Sheep Restaurants’ newly-opened New Punjab Club, which is looking to introduce the boisterous spirit of Punjab to Hong Kong with a refined flair. So what exactly is Punjabi cuisine?
"The winds of Vietnam continue to blow through Hong Kong, and one of the strongest contenders for the city’s best banh mi thit (aka banh mi) is Le Petit Saigon, a quaint takeout counter located next to sister restaurant Le Garcon Saigon."
“With a penchant for being the underdog, and their commitment to pushing boundaries, and setting trends in hospitality and restaurant operations, Christopher Mark and Syed Asim Hussain built their restaurant empire in Soho way before it transformed into the cool, hip hangout spot that it is today. They walk us through the area and compare the days then and now, while also sharing the secrets to their consistent success.”
“You may have already fallen for Le Garcon Saigon in the Star Street precinct, with his cool, open-air facade and deeply flavourful grilled meats made from the Vietnamese chef's mama's recipes. Well, now you can sample the goods from this boy's little bro next door, and he's as uncomplicated as they come, serving only one thing, bánh mì thịt, or pork banh mi.”
“So how do you guarantee your pork chop is juicy AF? You brine it. Or, in the case of this Vietnamese-inspired chop from Bao La—chef of Hong Kong's Brasserie Le Garcon Saigon — you make a marinade that's fresh and sweet and savoury as hell.”
“The Star Street Precinct just got a little more interesting with the opening of Le Petit Saigon, the sister branch of Le Garcon Saigon, which serves nothing but a single item – the humble yet ultra-popular banh mi thit.”
“Maison Libanaise, SoHo’s favourite Lebanese restaurant, is kicking off summer tomorrow with the first of their weekend sessions, starring two Instagram favourites: skewers, and frosé: the picture-perfect combination of ice, rosé and fresh strawberry puree.”
“Calvert has been tasked with cooking whatever he wishes to as long as it is “inherently excellent”. The result is a delectable marriage of premium fresh produce and French-inspired flavours, albeit with a more modern and unique interpretation.”
"Carbone started out life in Greenwich Village, New York – so you can be sure that the Hong Kong outpost understands the need of any would-be diner in search of carb-filled NYC/Italian fare. And it certainly delivers."
"We start with home-made country-style bread with butter, which we could not stop eating. It is how bread should be made, warm and soft in the middle and hard and crusty on the outside."