Celebrity chef and restaurateur Alvin Leung (the “Demon Chef”) goes Korean: teaming up with Korean head chef Yong Soo-do, who previously cheffed at Jinjuu and U-Hang, they’re behind Wan Chai’s newest Korean eatery Bib N Hops, which takes over the former space that Leung’s three-Michelin-starred Bo Innovation used to call home.
At Bib N Hops, the menu and surroundings pay homage to the the late night dining and drinking culture of Korea, particularly of pojangmacha drinking tents that you normally find on backstreets and alleyways. Think exposed pipes, mesh-covered concrete walls, and filament lightbulbs in its décor. The spacious patio outside would be great for dinner during the milder weather in Hong Kong.
Food-wise, traditional Korean dishes are interpreted through the Demon Chef’s signature inventive lens—you won’t be finding regular plates of ddeokbokki rice cakes here.
The menu is separated into small and big plates for sharing. You’ll find popular street food dishes such as mung bean pancake ($98HKD)—but here, Leung’s version sandwiches spicy gochujang fennel pork sausage meat between two crispy pancakes for an absolute flavour bomb.
The yukhoe ($158HKD; FYI: hoe is pronounced “hweh”—referring to various raw dishes found in Korean cuisine) is a tasty reinvention of the traditional Korean beef tartare dish, keeping a touch of authenticity by retaining the frosty texture in its minced beef. The sliced snow pear that’s usually mixed into the dish is now a pear sorbet perched on top, and the finishing touches of parmesan cheese, soy truffle aioli kick the umami factor up a notch. The only complaint? It’s not quite big enough if you have a hungry group, and we sparingly shared a spoonful each between four.
Other variations of Korean classics include mains such as Army Stew ($188HKD), which features chorizo mac ‘n’ cheese; Korean Fried Chicken ($198HKD) which uses a bespoke sweet curry sauce; and of course, a range of “baps,” as in mixed rice bowl bibimbaps (from $118HKD), with toppings such as Singaporean soft shell crab and Peruvian spiced pork belly.
There’s your share of crowd pleasers too, like the spicy chicken skewers ($118HKD). Juicy, hot and slightly sweet with a gochujang-flavoured marinade, these would go excellently with beers. It’s topped off with a Sichuan chimichurri, though any Sichuan spice went unnoticed.
Hongkongers are in an eternal love affair with Korean food, but these days they’ve also got their mistress, craft beer, to contend with. It’s a small disappointment to find that a restaurant named Bib N Hops actually has not much to do with the kind of hops that has the whole city buzzing. On the drinks menu, you’ll find a range of cocktails, as well as a comfortable selection of commercial beers, Korean-style beers infused with fruits, plus a range of Korean tipple from fruit sojus to traditional rice wine to traditional Korean spirits.
It’s not quite the level of craziness you’d expect from Leung, the inventor of “X-treme Chinese Cuisine,” but Bib N Hops is a welcome reshuffling of the tried and tested Korean dishes you can find anywhere else in Hong Kong. We’ll be back to make the most of its al fresco patio space this fall, with a citron beer or three in hand…
Article by Evelyn Lok