Need an insider's guide to where to find the best street and fine dining eats in the sprawling cities of Asia? Look no further than our resident epicurean connoisseur and Contiki Insider Emilie Sullivan. We're pleased - and more than a little hungry now - to bring you the first of four instalments in Emilie's Guide To Chowing Down On The Best Asian Eats (Part One): Hong Kong. 

Selecting your next travel destination is the ultimate first world problem. If you're anything like me, Condé Nast traveller binges are de rigueur, hours are lost on Pinning and your bookshelves are lined with the colourful un-cracked spines of overpriced Wallpaper* City Guides. Upon reaching a new destination, I can also never decide if I feel like hanging with street food and rum or if I want to try my hand at adult behaviour, compiling a hit list of the hot-to-trot eateries at which to get absolutely decadent, darling.

Having recently become very well acquainted with Hong Kong Island, I believe I've found a solution to this perplexing dilemma: Hong Kong is a tropical haven of both hidden beaches, winding streets, hedonistic nightlife and a hotbed of lush, diverse culinary delights.

Many are also surprised to discover Hong Kong’s sexy little secret: the city’s largest expat population hail from France. What is not-so-secret is the seriousness with which the French approach their food: it’s a loving relationship encompassing flavour, tradition, etiquette and gluttony and there's definitely a right way and a wrong way to go about things. I came to grips with this hard way when I bought supermarket grade Australian ‘camembert’ to a new French friend’s Wednesday ‘aperitif’. Lesson learned: if it doesn't stink, you’re gauche. Bonne Nuit!

The result of the French diaspora’s commitment to all things culinary has in turn fostered a vibrant Gallic food scene in Hong Kong. This movement has not only diversified the collective flavour profile of the island but also contributed to the growth of cool food alternatives - a refreshing respite from the monolithic steak houses that cater exclusively to decadent Finance boys keen to assert themselves as the future wolf packs of Wall Street.

So without further adieu, a few of my current French favourites are as follows:

METROPOLITAN
Inspired by the metro stations of Paris, Metropolitan is a hip riff on the classic French bistro. Situated in a cozy corner of the increasingly cool Sai Ying Pun district, your new favourite ‘local’ offers impeccably prepared, fresh French cuisine. A great place for a mid-week dinner, we love the steak tartar, mussels and fries, goats cheese salad and the luscious beef with potatoes dauphinoise. If you're feeling particularly decadent (which, let's face it, you almost always are on holidays) go for the warm brie with baked potatoes. Essentially it’s an entire wheel of cheese, warmed to oozing perfection. It’s a fondue situation when you bring the potatoes into the mix and basically it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. Say 'Hi' to Frank, your handsome chef for the evening; he'll either be slaving over the hot stove or indulging in a glass of Pastis (a traditional anise-flavored apéritif) with his favourite patrons on the terrace.

When: Mid-week luxury 
Price per head: $50-$60 AUD 
Where: G/F, 46 High St, Sai Ying Pun 
Phone: 6271-6102
Website: French Creations
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, Midday - 11pm 


Photo via Time Out


Photo via HungryHK

LA CONTOCHE
Found in the vibey neighbourhood of Sheung Wan’s Cat Street market/antique mecca, La Contoche (read: The Canteen) is new Gallic at its best. Devoid of the cliché bistro chairs and predictable café seating, its reminiscent of what you might find in Oberkampf, the hipster haven in Paris’ 11th arrondissement. The décor is contemporary and a little bit Bauhaus, walls are tagged with minimal graff statements and there is a sweet Foosball table to entertain you while you wait . I love La Contoche for their affordable wine-list and amazing roster of chef’s specials. If you're lucky they'll be making the rabbit, otherwise go for the Poisson Papillote - a fillet of barramundi cooked in a tinfoil parcel. To finish on a sweet note, get involved with the homemade nougat ice cream topped with crushed M&M’s – it's all that’s right with the world.

When: Pre-disco Saturday
Price per head: $40 AUD
Where: 5 Wa Lane, Sheung Wan
Phone: 2426 0880
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday, Midday-3pm; 7pm-10.30pm. Closed on Sundays.


Photo via HungryHK

LA CABANE A VIN
The ultimate in Hong Kong wine bars, this high-brow local haunt occupies a distinctive shop front on the Central district's buzzing Hollywood Road. The traditional rustic fit-out, with wine barrel bar tables and o’bjets d’art, contrasts beautifully with the progressive selection of food and drinks on offer. La Cabane A Vin’s unique ‘non-interventionist’ approach focuses on wines that are not only organic, but also free from yeast, sugars and additives. If this sounds too pretentious for you, think again. The magic of this venue is found in the cozy, clubhouse atmosphere and the youthful, friendly staff. Expert in explaining wine in layman's terms, a visit here is a casual education; an excellent opportunity to learn about the liquid we so love to consume. The bar’s pared back ethos extends to the food menu - a classic assortment of cheese, goats cheese salad, charcuterie and the must-try black pudding boudin noir.

When: TGIF and date nights
Price per head: $35 AUD
Where: G/F, 62 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong,
Phone: 2776 6070
Opening Hours: Closed on Mondays.


Photo via HK Salad

LA ROTISSERIE (Sheung Wan)
This Parisian spin on street grub is ground zero for take-away comfort eating. Run by the Marlon Brando of HK’s French food scene (and two friends), owner Aurelian can often be found hanging languidly off his motorbike chatting with regulars outside the original Sheung Wan store. Literally a hole in the wall off Queens Road West, this place (as the name would suggest) focuses on the classic offering of rotisserie chickens. A great wall of juicy poultry cooks throughout the day, dripping juices on a hot bed of baked potatoes below. Sold in quarters, halves or wholes alongside a daily selection of three sides (think the world's best green beans, vegetable ratatouille, cauliflower and broccoli or delicious pasta). At lunch you can grab a sandwich or quiche as well as slices of incredible baked goods, our fave being the flourless chocolate sea-salt cake. Packaged in Net-a-Porter-esque chic monochromatic gift boxes, a trip to La Rotisserie is always a treat. Shop there for your picnics and Hong Kong beach escapes, or pre-order chickens and bottles of wine to achieve the perfect life-hack and execute the ultimate rooftop dinner party.

When: All day, every day.
Where: G/F, Manhattan Avenue; 255 Queen’s Road, Central (Entrance on Hillier Street)
Hours: 12pm - 9pm, Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Email: contact@larotisserie.com.hk
Phone: 2324 1898
For other locations visit: http://larotisserie.com.hk


Photo via Sassy Hong Kong


Photo via Time Out

If you're a huge fan of travel, adventure and documenting life-changing good times boy do we have a job for you. We're looking for a sixth Contiki Insider to join the likes of Emilie, who we can send overseas on one of four incredible Latin American adventures to immerse yourself into the culture, people, sights and sounds and report back for a series of Insider posts on Pedestrian.

The categories you can choose from are:

Canned Heat: Dance Your Way Across Argentina
The Beautiful Game: Play Sport with the Locals in Brazil
Meat Lovers: The Carnivores Guide to Peru
The Music Of Mexico: Explore La Bamba to La Cucaracha

So if you're a dancer, a player, an eater or a music-maker, vamanos and hit up www.pedestrian.tv/contiki to enter by telling us which of these amazing Latin quests you want to go on. You could be joining our awesome crew of online travel bloggers as part of The Insider Project.

Photo via HungryHK