Ren Bai, Basement, 59 Caine Rd., Central, Hong Kong, Hong Kong S.A.R., China
Opening Hours:daily noon-3pm, 6-11pm
Located in a secluded spot under the Mid-Levels escalator, Ren Bai is an overlooked gem. With a strangely nostalgic vibe, the dimly lit East-meets-West interiors were immediately impressive for their lack of pretension and sheer coziness. But it’s the food that matters, and the appetizers kicked off superbly, with both the marinated chilled chicken and shredded duck breast standing out with their spicy freshness. Our taste buds were further tested with the main, Sichuan boiled beef—the aromatic spices complemented the succulent meat without being too overwhelming, and we soon thanked our attentive waiter for half-coercing us to order a cooling veggie dish amid our carnivorous feast. The refreshing steamed eggplant with preserved soybeans relieved our palate for a moment, but we were soon back into the fray with a deep-sea delight. The Hangzhou steamed fish, marinated in thick vinegar sauce, is an uncommon delicacy that can be tough to prepare, but ours was done just right. And as if there weren’t enough reasons to return, the capper came with the deep-fried milky balls, a sweet full-stop on a near-perfect meal.