In summer, our palates crave for something light such as fruit. But instead of serving it as a snack, fruit can also be the key ingredient of a meal.
Tomato - which counts as a fruit from a botanical point of view, in case you are wondering - has a much lower sugar content than other fruit.
Tsui Hang Village's (Tel: 2376-2882) Jacky Chan Kwok-leung selects a big, fat breed from Holland, peels and soaks it in osmanthus sweet soup.
"By removing the skin of the tomato, the fruit can easily absorb the sweet flavors of the soup," says the chef of the Chinese restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui.
But the tomatoes first need to be soaked overnight before serving, he adds.
The crunchy flesh of the Dutch tomatoes is thick and juicy, releasing the aromas and sweetness of the osmanthus in every bite. This chilled dish (HK$48) makes for a pleasing appetizer during the hot summer.
Pineapple is often used in sweet and sour pork. This time, Chan pairs this popular dish (HK$178) with strawberries, which has twice the refreshing taste but is much less soggy.
Dragonfruit grows all year round in Thailand and Vietnam. "The fruit seems to be popular with women because of its mild flavor and cleansing power," says Chan, who matches it with garlicky prawns and asparagus slices (HK$198). "Don't the black seeds look like crushed black pepper?"
With a national fruit like mango, which grows abundantly in India, Jashan's (Tel: 3105-5300) Asif Iqbal can't help but admit: "In India, we all love and crave for mangoes."
Bringing the craze to Hong Kong, the executive chef creates a special mango menu for the Indian restaurant in SoHo.
Whether it is the Rajasthani-style mango drink with a touch of chilies and tamarind, or the tender mango and cumin seed refresher (HK$35), these drinks will cool you down with their playful combinations of ingredients and spices.
One of the best-sellers of the special menu is the mango salad (HK$58).
Ripe mango cubes and morsels of tandoori chicken are both delicious on their own. Iqbal blends the two flavors harmoniously with a parmesan mayo sauce, giving you a feast of complex flavors.
At first glance, one might easily confuse the mango chicken (HK$125) with Jashan's signature curry, but it's only the color and texture. Using a mild curry as the base, Iqbal adds in the fresh mango puree and coconut milk to create a summer version of the Indian curry for this sultry weather.
Over at the Japanese restaurant Kaika at The One (Tel: 2972-2888), executive chef Katsuya Hasegawa raves about grilled bananas with a drizzle of chocolate on top. "It's a firm favorite in Japan," he says as he flips a pineapple ring on the sizzling teppanyaki.
Instead of the sweet banana- chocolate combination, the Japanese chef serves up the sauteed pineapple in teriyaki sauce (HK$70).
Cooking the pineapple enhances its sourness. The mild acidity of the fruit is balanced by the hint of sweetness in the teriyaki sauce, which is an easy match for many different ingredients including salmon, chicken, and now pineapple.
Hasegawa combines blueberry, raspberry, cranberry - and various other berries - with sugar and a touch of liqueur for the homemade berry sauce, which is the highlight of the grilled foie gras (HK$250). "Berry is a type of tangy fruit that can effortlessly reduce the rich and heavy flavors of the foie gras," he says.
Seasonal fruits such as berries, melons, kiwi and cherry are cut into bite sizes and tossed in either honey or yogurt for the fruit salad (HK$80), or grilled on the teppan and served with creme anglaise (HK$200).