Brand-new at the InterContinental Hong Kong hotel is Spoon, tel: (852) 2721 1211, the latest restaurant by Alain Ducasse, who has nine Michelin stars to his name. Diners here can expect a free-form improvisation of flavors and textures, where the inspiration is just as likely to be Asian or Mediterranean as it is Gallic. The menu is also flexible: instead of sticking to a starter, main course and dessert, diners can tailor a meal from long lists of ingredients, accompaniments and sauces.
Across the water in Kowloon, buzz is also starting to gravitate around Giampaolo Maffini, chef at the Harbour Grill, tel: (852) 2996 8433—a deceptively bland name for an astonishing restaurant in the mid-range Harbour Plaza Hotel in Hung Hom. Hong Kong's chattering classes might never summon up the will to go to this nondescript district of tower blocks and train lines—more fool them, for Maffini's talent is a rare one. His soups (oyster with Pernod; cauliflower with caviar) are masterful and original; the racks of lamb are so good they defy description; and his duck with Savoy cabbage is simply brilliant.
Don't bring guests to either Scala or the Harbour Grill if you're looking to show off Hong Kong's most fashionable rooms—you'll want Spoon for that. But if you're entertaining people who love fine food, you're in for a surprisingly good time at any of them. With any luck, there'll be more culinary discoveries over the coming year, too. It certainly couldn't be any worse than the last.