Town by Byran Nagao
10/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
+852 2568 8708
Most chefs tend to specialise in just one cuisine, but Bryan Nagao can truly be called a culinary ambassador of the world. The affable, globe-trotting chef has spent decades mastering the integration of ingredients and influences from around the world and at Town by Bryan Nagao, he presents a confluence of dishes that marry global cuisines to excellent effect.
Whether it’s French, Japanese or Hawaiian, Bryan’s cooking style is a direct product of both his ancestral roots and his far-flung career. Born in Hawaii, Bryan spent many of his formative years exploring the native island cuisine before moving to San Francisco, where he sharpened his skills in a number of classical French and European restaurants.
His first move overseas brought him to the avant-garde Philippe Starck-designed Felix which was just debuting at the Peninsula Hong Kong. After six years as Head Chef, Bryan ventured out on his own with Kokage, a critically acclaimed Japanese restaurant in Wan Chai. Following another globe-trotting hiatus, Bryan returned to the Fragrant Harbour and opened Town in 2014 as a culmination of his experiences to date. It’s a restaurant that embodies him in a nutshell — warm, approachable and distinctly multicultural.
It may be labeled as “fusion”, but Town’s dishes boast a clear and concise point of view. Island cuisine figures largely in the fresh and bold flavours, while a studied Japanese influence is felt in the artful presentations. Classical European methods and techniques round out a menu that could easily feel muddled or disjointed in the hands of a less-experienced chef. If he has to put a name to his style, Byran refers to his flavours as embodying his fourth generation Japanese heritage.
Begin with a classic: the spaghettini with uni, pata negra and lardo – an instant crowd pleaser featuring briny uni complementing buttery ham in a cosy pas de deux between land and sea. The Sicilan red prawn is another standout: butterflied translucent prawns streaked through with red in a mosaic dotted with bright yuzu, a fine brunoise of celery and cucumber, and aromatic truffle.
Large plates follow the same cross-cultural philosophy: “Huli-Huli” spring chicken blends shishito peppers and wasabi potato, the sweet fish “ayu” is given a kick with bright cherry tomatoes and sansho peppercorns, and the Australian rack of lamb succumbs to a sweet and salty caramel-miso marinade.
The suckling pig, meanwhile, is a direct descendant from Bryan’s island roots –it’s wrapped in taro and ti leaves until it’s fragrant and aromatic, cooked over two days at a low temperature. Miso broth, small neck clams, pancetta and baby spinach round out the celebratory centrepiece of the table.
Town’s relaxed urban vibe makes for an effortless transition from the lunch hors d’oeuvres buffet to a more upscale menu at night where guests can savour a long meal over a bottle of wine. The sleek industrial-style space covers 3,000 square feet, and natural daylight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows, softened by shades of brown and blue and distressed vintage mirror finishes.
In a building with a concentration of Japanese restaurants, Town is a notable outlier amongst its neighbours – a half-hidden spot brimming with character and a truly global passport. If you want a taste of the world in one outing, there’s no better place than Town to find it.