"Where's a decent spot for a business lunch in Hong Kong?" Readers often ask us the question, knowing we're frequent travellers to the Fragrant Harbour.
So on our most recent research trip to Hong Kong, we checked out some of the city's most popular restaurants, all of which had come recommended by colleagues and contacts, and have eight that we'd recommend to you.
Hong Kong is remarkably cost-effective for lunches, with even the biggest names providing well-priced menus. For example, you can get a very reasonably priced three-course business lunch at world-class, three Michelin starred Amber for HK$518 (A$63).
We were keen to answer those elusive questions any business traveller needs to know: what's the ambience like, what's good, when you should pick the restaurant -- and when to give it a miss.
Gold by Harlan Goldstein
In the chic, trendy Lan Kwai Fong district within a brief walk of Central, Gold does a well thought-out lunch menu. A wide-ranging starter buffet focussing on seafood is folllowed by an impressively good selection of main dishes and tasty desserts.
Ambience: warm, dark colours that feature the eponymous gold throughout, but not in a bling-bling kind of way. Decent level of background noise to mask business discussions.
We had: the starter buffet, the lobster spaghetti, and the Nutella gelato.
Pick for: chic atmosphere, fantastic seafood, a bit of glitz.
Miss if: you want a view of Hong Kong.
Contact: +852 2869 9986 or gold-dining.com
Lung King Heen
Towards the west side of Central in the IFC complex's Four Seasons hotel, Lung King Heen is one of Hong Kong's top Cantonese restaurants -- with three Michelin stars, if you or your dining partners are impressed by that kind of thing.
Ambience: chic, modern Chinese, with fantastic structural feng shui elements. Well-spaced tables make it a great pick for talking business.
We had: dim sum (you can't miss the signature Abalone puff), a Chinese barbecue sampler, the superior pottage with shredded chicken, wagyu beef and petit fours.
Pick for: world-class food from the first Chinese Michelin three-star chef, in a well-spaced upscale restaurant.
Miss if: you're not sure everyone will get on with Cantonese, since you wouldn't want to waste Lung King Heen's food on ingrates or undeveloped palates.
Contact: +852 3196 8880 or on fourseasons.com
At the top of One Peking Road in Tsim Sha Tsui you'll find the glass-walled Aqua, with 360-degree panoramic views of Hong Kong. The concept is fantastic Japanese-Italian, and you can mix and match dishes for the very reasonably priced set lunch.
Ambience: cool, glass-walled, blue-and-bronze, with amazing Hong Kong skyline views. Not enough background noise for a confidential lunch unless you want to talk very quietly -- but then there are several private rooms available for your use if you need to keep things hush-hush.
We had: a tasting menu of six small signature dishes, all of which were superb, but the Taleggio cheese fondue with scallops and black truffle caviar stood out. Consider the duck confit and foie gras pizza or the Japanese bento boxes too.
Pick for: city-beating views, top-notch Japanese and Italian food, handy private rooms.
Miss if: the idea of Japanese-Italian fusion doesn't appeal.
Contact: +852 3427 2288 or aqua.com.hk (beware annoying autoplaying music)
TOTT's and Roof Terrace
It stands for "Talk Of The Town" (no idea why it's got an S), and if "town" means "Causeway Bay" for you then TOTT's is your place. Another view-tastic location, it's on top of business traveller stalward hotel The Excelsior.
Ambience: Shiny, gemlike, glassy modern. Sunken dining areas are intimate but still afford a view over the harbour, and the roof terrace is a real gem if you get a good-weather day.
We had: fantastic foie gras and top-notch beef cheeks bourgignonne. The gravadlax also received rave reviews, and monthly special themes are seasonal and well worth the consideration.
Pick for: slow-cooked stews, a window-side view, the opportunity to smoke outside.
Miss if: anyone has vertigo.
Contact: +852 2837 6786 or on mandarinoriental.com
Pronounced "savour" not "sever", it's hard to beat the internationalism of this Central gem on top of the Prince's Building. With four discrete areas (elegant Bankside, buzzing Harbourside, living-walled Lounge, copper-ceilinged Taste Bar and the wrap-around terrace) Sevva fits many business lunch requirements.
Ambience: of them all, Bankside's Versailles-style art, stylish pastels and classical music are probably the best pick for a business lunch -- and that's not even mentioning its international cuisine that ranges from dosa to foie gras to bento to double-boiled soups to some of Hong Kong's best cakes.
We had: a tasting menu of dosa, Cantonese-style soup, beef noodles, cake and a green tea latte.
Pick for: incredible variety, numerous options and fantastic views.
Miss if: you're indecisive, or if Sevva's infamously spotty service is likely to irritate.
Contacts: +852 2537 1388 or sevva.hk
If you're dining with serious foodies then consider Amber, in the Landmark Mandarin Oriental -- that's the new Mandarin, not the old one. Dripping in Michelin stars and deeply clever about its gastronomic street cred, this is seriously ingenious food that well deserves its 37th place in the "world's 50 best restaurants" awards. Don't worry, it won't break the bank: three courses will set you back a very reasonable HK$518 (A$63)
Ambience: elegant, beautifully designed, upscale but not pretentious, with large enough tables to seat a relatively large group easily and inconspicuously.
We had: an amazing meal, starting with the genius amuse-gueules (a caprese jelly, juicy pork croquette, and foie gras candy-stick style), an impressively arranged and delicious foie gras terrine, amazing wagyu beef cheek and tongue, and a selection from the extensive cheese trolley.
Pick for: refined elegance, stunning food and a top-notch wine list and sommelier to boot.
Miss if: you need to be in-and-out quickly -- this is a restaurant to savour.
Contact: +852 2132 0066 or amberhongkong.com
There's a lot of French food in Honkers, but if you want authentic, affordable bistro-style cuisine look no further than La Marmite. (No, Marmite is not involved; it's named for a type of French pot.) Tucked away in the SoHo district of the Mid-Levels, La Marmite has a two- or three-course prix fixe and an a la carte menu that's seriously foodie.
Ambience: very much French bistro, with mirrored walls, arty posters, lack of elbowroom, and a buzzing streetfront location.
We had: fresh French bread and savoury dip, foie gras creme brulee (to die for), coq au vin (a bit disappointing), and Paris Brest (choux pastry with praline -- fantastic).
Pick for: brilliant French food at a very reasonable price.
Miss if: you need something more formal or the slightly out-of-the-way location doesn't appeal.
Contact: +852 2803 7808 or online (beware annoying autoplaying music)
Our pick of the lot
It was a hard two weeks of restaurant reviewing, but our top choice is Amber.
From the foie gras, beetroot and raspberry chupa chups (above) to the incredible cheese board, it's a reason to go to Hong Kong in its own right. You should kick yourself if you pass up the opportunity to have lunch here.
We're always upfront about our reviews: our reporter was a guest of these and other Hong Kong restaurants, but as ever we only recommend the ones we believe are worth your while.
Enjoyed this foodie journey? Check out Australian Business Traveller's Food Week, bringing you everything you ever wanted to know about business class food in the air — and stay in touch with us for the very latest on Twitter: we're @AusBT.