Try everything first, wins!
I don’t know about you, but if salt and pepper squid is on the menu it must be ordered. I don’t make the rules! Salt and pepper squids, typically known in the West as fried calamari, are always a simple treat, whether as an unconscious snack in the company of ice-cold beer or as a well-considered main course at large banquet dinners. They are versatile, so easy to love and so so delicious.
In fact, that drunken slushie you have on your hand right now is the perfect roast squid partner, so to say goodbye to those last few days of summer, try only the best in Hong Kong. Take it with you and enjoy it on the pier if you can – it’s going to be like an almost Mediterranean vacation.
The dish: Calamari Fritti
Red chilli, green chilli. Fortunately, Wan Chais Osteria Marzia serves an accomplished version of fried calamari; so no twists, no twists, no ominous surprises. Nothing the same. Expect a mild heat kick from the aromatic chilli mixture when you bite into the crispy exterior, but it’s nothing that can’t be easily suppressed by the accompanying casserole dishes with spicy tartar sauce. Grab a large glass of Aperol Spritz while you’re here – it will be just like a coastal drive along the Spanish coast.
Osteria Marzia, G / F, The Fleming, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 3607 2253
The Dish: Fried Prawns and Calamari (HK $ 148)
DiVino is the place for authentic Italian dishes in large portions on immaculate tablecloths. It’s always reliable; They know that pasta with red sauce is always deliciously al dente, and the pizzas with leopard spots and are seared to perfection. The fried calamari is another true-to-shape creation. Thinly beaten rings, lightened with lemon zest, served with a hint of tartar sauce. What is not to love The dish also comes with a pile of fried shrimp. Perfect beer bites if you ask me.
DiVino Patio, Shop 11, 1 / F, Causeway Center, No. 28 Harbor Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2877 3552
The Dish: Squid Croquette (HK $ 17 / each)
So this may not be your archetypal golden fried calamari dish with unshaped hula hoops. But this delicious variant, a croquette from the Spanish tapas bar Pica Pica, promises to be just as delicious. It’s been shaped into a simple egg-shaped one-biter that already makes things so much easier, while the nicely fried exterior suggests a satisfying first “crunch”. Try it. This piece of gold has a creamy, fluffy center with chewy squid pieces. A blob of bitter “All-i-Oil” compensates for this unctuous bite.
Pica Pica, G / F, Shop G & H, Kai Tak Commercial Building, 317 -321 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2811 9880
208 Duecento Otto
The Squid: Atlantic Scottish Squid 250g (HK $ 298)
Okay, technically this isn’t a fried calamari dish either, but listen to me. 208 Duecento Otto’s version is a suitable alternative for those who do without the badly battered, badly seared coat. Without the crispy batter, the squid – every 250 g – is expertly scored, fried in the pan and tossed in a mixed herb sauce with coriander, tarragon and basil. The golden tubes are served on a bed of creamy baked potatoes and are prepared so that they can all be enjoyed together in a single bite. Don’t forget the lemon.
208 Duecento Otto, 208 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2549 0208
The Dish: Fried Calamari (HK $ 175)
Now this is an iconic way to enjoy a hot platter of fried calamari: outside in the salty sea breeze, just a stone’s throw from the beach, under the brilliant sun. That’s exactly the scene at Limewood, the casual Pan-Asian eatery at The Pulse. Go early for a front row seat with a perfectly framed view of the palm trees and beach and order yourself a serving of fried calamari from the restaurant. Deliciously tempting with a dangerous red chili pepper that makes your mouth water, the tubes baked in the batter are served with a splash of lime and a subsequent dip of the accompanying mango curry mayo.
Limewood, G / F, Shop 103-104, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2866 8668
The Dish: Salt & Pepper Squid (HK $ 138)
There’s a lot to love about Chôm Chôm’s salt and pepper squid. For one, its deep golden brown fur, which means additional crunch that crackles with every bite. Its well thought-out spice mixture, which is told by the namesake, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, but also surprises with added garlic and black beans for an extra aromatic note. And most importantly, the presentation of short, easy-to-eat strings so that every time you drink a scoop of Sriracha Mayo Dip it fits perfectly into a clean bite. Simple, peasy, and don’t forget to ask for a squirt of lemon juice.
Chôm Chôm, 58 Peel Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2810 0850
Lamma Rainbow Seafood (or a local dai pai dong)
And for the final, possibly best (in my opinion) entry on this list: Salt and Pepper Squid (椒鹽 鮮魷) from local Dai-Pai-Dongs. Especially those of the seafood-centric restaurants that line the edge of the barrier islands; like Lamma Rainbow Seafood, where the travel time is shortened by a junk shuttle between the Central or Tsim Sha Tsui pier and the restaurant. Serving the Cantonese version of the salt and pepper squid, these hawker-style restaurants host a lightly fried, still sizzling bite of chunky squid that’s chewy but never rubbery. It’s garnished with a variety of spices: Fried garlic. Slices of hot, peppery chilli. A bed of shrimp crackers. But the squid always manages to stay the star of the show. Very lightly dip it in vinegar to make it even more tangy – it will be a delicious surprise.
Lamma Rainbow Seafood, G / F, 23-27 Sok Kwu Wan First Street, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, +852 2982 8100
Tung Po, 2 / F, Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong, +852 2880 5224th
Cover image courtesy of Limewood; Recommended by Pica Pica