Hong Kong’s WOM (word of mouth) guide celebrated its 10th anniversary with the inaugural WOM guide top 10 restaurant awards. Presented by founders Fergus Fung and Samanta Pong at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre during the recent Restaurant & Bar event, the top 10 restaurant awards celebrates the best eats in the city, with 270+ restaurants participating.

At the event Fung and Pong shared the top ten significant dining trends that have impacted Hong Kong over the last 10 years.

• Fall (and rise) of private kitchens: Private kitchens have been a feature of the Hong Kong dining scene since the 1990s, operating out of office blocks, residential buildings and industrial estates. Dining gone private began when amateur chefs decided to give restaurants a run for their money and they truly did with private kitchens often being the go-to spot for birthday parties and intimate gatherings. This trend came back in 2012 when rent in Hong Kong continued to skyrocket.

• Sky high rent = sky high restaurants: This one we are all more than familiar with – rent going sky high. The cost of running restaurants has risen drastically in the last ten years, with rent doubling and tripling in some very central areas. A huge amount of restaurants and bars have had to close their doors or move further out and further up buildings.

• Rise of the ‘hoods: Neighbourhood dining has become all the rage in the last few years with comfortable and charming restaurants popping up in Tai Hang, Sai Ying Pun, Wong Cheuk Hang, Sheung Wan and quieter corners of the major districts. These restaurants are offering something a little different, with a homely vibe, usually a quieter atmosphere and a smaller venue.

• Celebrity chefs coming to town: On the other extreme end, we are now seeing an influx of celebrity chefs. Established chefs from all over the world are opening restaurants in many neighbourhoods. Ten years ago these restaurants were few and far between, but from what we can see this trend won’t be stopping any time soon.

• Air, foam, sous vide etc: The next trend – cooking techniques. Ferran Adria made famous ‘molecular gastronomy’ which has been emulated by chefs all over the world. We see air and foam on many plates. Science or not, it has been one of the most important developments in modern dining. Then we see sous vide which has improved the life of many chefs by giving them more control.

• Specialised, smaller menus: The last few years have seen menus shrink and restaurants becoming more specialised on individual cuisines. Many customers prefer going to a restaurant for a particular dish, giving rise to small joints that really only do a handful of items.

• The SOL movement: In recent years, we see the rise of SOL – seasonal, organic and local. With more concern of the environment and the growing trend of healthy living, there are many more healthy and green choices on menus and solely vegetarian restaurants are growing in numbers.

• Importance of wine and cocktails: As Hong Kongers become far more wine savvy, wine lists are factored into their choice of dining destination (special thanks to the lifting of the wine tax). Cocktails have made a comeback as well, and we see classic cocktails and innovative creations on restaurant drinks lists – and people are drinking them before, during and after their meal.

• No reservations: No reservation restaurants used to be for quick bites only, such as wonton noodle shops. These days, many restaurants have adopted this policy. This has partially fuelled the previous trend, encouraging customers to enjoy a drink while they wait for their table.

• Cameras eat first: The rise of social media has changed the way we eat. Thanks to the invention of digital cameras and smartphones, diners want to broadcast their meal right away. Like it or not, cameras usually eat first.

A comprehensive and unique resource to dining in Hong Kong, WOM guide is an annual printed restaurant guide book and WOMguide.com is an online food magazine.

The top 10 restaurants in 27 dining categories were recognised for their outstanding contribution to the Hong Kong dining scene.

The Restaurateur of the Year Award was presented to Ms Yenn Wong, founder of JIA Group. This award honours an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the Hong Kong dining scene.

WOM guide is a food publication for Hong Kong, available in print and online editions (www.WOMguide.com and www.WOM.hk). The book is currently in its 10th edition, and has reached bestseller lists in major bookstores across Hong Kong.