May 27, 2017

Another pair of black dragons

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Ro Ro and Hello Kitty were planning to hang out together this weekend, and were kind enough to invite Chef RC and I to join them.  Hello Kitty has had a craving for the kushiage (串揚げ) at Hidden (秀殿), and as it turned out Chef RC and Ro Ro had never been, so it seemed like the perfect plan.  Chili Shrimp Girl was in town, so it worked out perfectly... the girls took one end of the counter while Chef RC and I carried on our own conversation...

Marinated eggplant (水なす浅漬け) - the eggplant from Kishiwada (岸和田) were marinated for only a little while (浅漬け), and still tasted very fresh while the accompanying myoga (茗荷), minced ginger, and sesame seeds added some nice fragrances.

May 25, 2017

I'm Buckwheat!

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Those who know me are familiar with my general rule when it comes to new restaurants - that I usually stay away from new openings, choosing to wait a minimum of 3 to 6 months before making my first visit.  I can be pretty unforgiving when I get bad food or shit service, and the likelihood of getting either (or both) is pretty high when a restaurant first opens.  So, like the critics of yesteryear -although I don't fancy myself as one - I wait and give new restaurants time to get it together.

I had never gotten around to visiting The Ocean, despite multiple invitations from friends as well as former chef Agustin Balbi.  Its location inside The Pulse in Repulse Bay meant, in all honesty, that it was just too fucking far to go for dinner on a weeknight.  I had contemplated going there with the Tiggers, but somehow never managed to get around to it.  Then Agustin left for greener pastures, and there was no longer any reason to go...

Late last week I got a ping from Maxime Gilbert - who left Amber last year to join Le Comptoir, the group behind The Ocean.  Apparently they have gotten themselves a new chef to look after The Ocean. Olivier Bellin - whose L'Auberge des Glazicks inside his family hotel in Brittany boasts two Michelin stars - is now responsible for the menu.  Chef Bellin was in town for a few days, and Maxime very kindly extended an invitation for me to try out their new menu.  Unfortunately I was flying home to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary, so I turned down the invitation.

Then Mrs. Tigger came back to town for a short visit and wanted to meet up.  I figured The Ocean would actually be a convenient location for her, so we ended up here for dinner tonight.

The restaurant now offers two tasting menus - five or nine courses.  As Mrs. Tigger is looking to go on a diet, and will be seeing a nutritionist tomorrow, she decided to take just five courses.  I, of course, followed suit.  After all, the Growing Boy can't keep growing forever...

Set sail: mise en bouche -
Potato (parfait?) with oyster water - more like soufflé potatoes I've had elsewhere.  The filling did taste strongly of oysters, with those briny flavors.  We were told by the waiter to eat it quickly before it got cold, but the reality was that these were already cold...

These were served on a bed of buckwheat, which we were encouraged to nibble on.  We were told by the waiter that the chef loves using buckwheat as it is key to the cuisine of Brittany.

May 24, 2017

Quickie dim sum at night

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I'm in Causeway Bay at night and in need of a simple meal.  Hello Kitty wants congee for dinner, so I figured we should go and hit Ho Hung Kee (何洪記).  The food is always reliable and the environment is clean and pleasant.  Of course, nowadays that comes with a significant hike in pricing thanks to the expensive rent they're paying...

I forgo my usual order of stir-fried noodles and choose a few dim sum items.  Back when I used to live in Happy Valley, sister restaurant Tasty Congee and Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) was a neighborhood joint I frequented, and one of the things I used to love about that place was the availability of dim sum items all day... and they did a great job, too!  I figured I'd give it a try here tonight.

Barbecue pork bun with saucy filling (流汁叉燒包) - this used to be one of my favorite items at Tasty, but what I had tonight was a little disappointing.  While the bun wasn't exactly soggy, it was much too wet and lacked that fluffy texture reminiscent of cotton balls.  The "saucy" filling was also a little sweeter than I remembered, although they did use relatively decent pork and not just fatty bits.

May 19, 2017

Mom wants it RAW

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With very few exceptions, I have been flying home each year to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary.  Usually this involves the three of us at a fine dining restaurant, where I also pop open a bottle of wine from their anniversary vintage.  We've been doing this for a number of years now, and we've basically been rotating through three restaurants over time.

This year, however, mom had different ideas.  I was honestly surprised when she told me that she wanted to go to RAW.  Now, I do really like the food I've had at RAW, and of course being one of Andre Chiang's restaurant gives it a huge halo - making it one of the toughest places in town to score a table.  So it's natural that mom would be curious about the food.  But I never considered taking mom there simply because they only do tasting menus, and that's waaay too much food to stuff into mom's stomach.  As much as she loves to eat, she only ever manages to do maybe 3 dishes at dinner, so it's always been à la carte for her.

But she wasn't gonna change her mind, and she wanted to invite a few friends along.  So... knowing how tough it is to score a table - and with dad being put on the waiting list - I asked for help.  I was ever so grateful that the favor came through, and we got ourselves one of the chef's tables for tonight.

We had a pretty interesting crowd tonight... The eight of us ranged from early 20s to late 80s, and I figured the average age was about 65.  A couple of us have very small appetites, so the youngest member was obligated to help put away some of the food.  And there was plenty of food to be had!

Taro, peanut, coriander - we start with a plate of pretty-lookin' finger food.  On top of the crispy spring roll wrapper was a layer of taro mousse with peanut butter, with diced taro bits mixed in.  Sprinkled with powdered peanut butter brittle from Yilan (宜蘭), and garnished with baby coriander.

Inhaled in two bites.  Pretty tasty.  I gotta say that I didn't taste much of the taro, because the peanut flavors from the powder just overpowered everything.  Not that I'm complaining, because I just loooove the combination of sweet and savory flavors... and that richness and fragrance from roasted peanuts.

May 17, 2017

Sine Qua Non toast, part 2

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It's been about 6 months since a few wine lovers met for a rare gathering, and our organizer once again rounded up the troops.  I would come back to Seventh Son (家全七福) for a second time in as many weeks, which isn't something I'm likely to complain about.  So the five of us met up for lunch on a hump day to drink Californian wines known for their high alcoholic content.  Good move...

Steamed prawn dumplings (七福鮮蝦餃) - we ordered two steamers of this, but there was some miscommunication with our waiter, and the second one didn't come until close to the end of the meal when we asked for it again.  Always delicious, with thin wrappers steamed perfectly.

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