Ba Yi, G/F, 43 Water St., Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Area:Sai Ying Pun
Nearest Train:Sheung Wan
Opening Hours:daily noon-3pm, 6-11pm
Ba Yi is one of those “famous” restaurants that occupy unlikely corners of random streets and alleys all over Hong Kong. You can tell they’re famous because, like Ba Yi, there’s magazine clippings all over the walls and you absolutely have to book, even at 8pm on a Monday night. We only wish they’d told us when we called that their main chef was off that night. We arrived, only to learn that the restaurant’s signature dishes, namely the lamb and chicken-wing skewers and the cumin-dusted lamb chops, were unavailable. Well, shoot—how are you supposed to review one of Western’s most prized eateries if you’re unable to try any of their signature dishes? Craving a lamb feast, we ended up going for the minced lamb pancakes as well as the cold tofu drizzled with soy sauce, pickled vegetables and thousand-year-old egg. Both were excellent (not to mention incredibly cheap) but by no means difficult to execute. The lamb dumplings were a little controversial. The thick, doughy skin and fragrant lamb in a vinegary sauce were most certainly rustic—not to mention authentic—but perhaps a little chewy for those used to delicate, thin-skinned xiaolongbaos. Honestly, it doesn’t matter a damn whether we give Ba Yi one star or five; they’re so well known that loyal fans will keep coming back, whether or not the specials are off that night. It most certainly warrants a visit, but check in advance what they’ve got to avoid disappointment.