April 30, 2016

Spoiling the parents

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I'm back in Taipei spending a long weekend with the parental units.  I didn't get to spend their anniversary with them last year on account of my banishment, and since they decided to take short trip without me for their anniversary this year, my only recourse was to move my celebrations up by a couple of weeks.

We've been spending the last few celebratory dinners at STAY, and since mom's been pretty happy with them so far, I didn't feel the need to change to another venue.

For the very first time, I actually contemplated seriously about taking one of the set menus here - since the shorter set actually offers the one dish I always order here.  But something else caught my eye and it wasn't on the same set menu, so in the end I went back to ordering à la carte...

The amuse bouche no longer came as a "trio".  Instead we had smoked salmon with brunoise of pickled cucumber, French leeks, and lemon crème fraîche.

April 28, 2016

Boss in the 'hood

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The boss is back in town so it was time again for a long-overdue team dinner.  This time around I made an executive decision to take the team to Neighborhood, since it was close to the office and I really, really wanted some of the seasonal dishes.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce the team to Neighborhood after the closure of On Lot 10.

I had pre-arranged a couple of the specials with the restaurant, so I just picked out a couple of starters while we waited for the big guns to show up.

30-month culatello di zibello "Massimo Spigaroli" - seriously good shit.  Need to revisit more often for more of this.

April 27, 2016

Three star Chinese menu for gweilos

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A globe-trotting foodie was coming to town, hitting all 6 of the Michelin 3-star restaurants in Hong Kong and both of the 3-stars in Macau in the span of four days.  I figured it would be interesting to meet someone who was close to his goal of having eaten at every single one of the 3-star restaurants in the world, so I invited myself to dinner at Lung King Heen (龍景軒) tonight.

Most of my friends know of my opinion about this place.  Yes, it's a good Cantonese restaurant, but it was never a 3-star in my book... and the only time it came close was a particular dim sum lunch about 5 years ago.  Maybe I am unfairly unprejudiced against this place, but I was never 'wow'ed come dinner time.  I wanted to give the place another try and see if I'd feel differently.

Unfortunately, things went the other way.  I came away from dinner fuming.

However much I bash this place about their food - or about their undeserved 3-star status - I have to give them credit for service.  I'm lucky enough to know both of the restaurant's sommeliers, and once I was recognized, we were pampered for the rest of the evening.

Ordering for Chinese food is never easy for small groups, and given there were only three of us - with two of the three being Caucasian - it was natural for the manager to suggest that we take their Chef's Tasting Menu.  This was when I experienced a bit of sticker shock.  The price of the menu was a little bit more than HKD 2,000 per head.  Another set menu - with bird's nest and braised abalone - came in around HKD 2,700 per head.

Now, I'm not really known for being stingy when it comes to paying for food, although I generally eschew the "big five" of expensive Chinese ingredients due to my inability to fully appreciate them.  I've shelled out this kind of price before for a Chinese dinner, but I was somewhat skeptical after taking a look at the list of dishes.  In the end, as the visitors seemed to have no objections - and I would never have taken a menu like this under normal circumstances - I decided to go with the manager's suggestion so that I could finally have a similar experience to what overseas visitors are likely to get when they come here.

Crispy Scallop with Fresh Pear and Yunnan Ham (龍帶玉梨香) - this is one of the restaurant's signature dishes, and I had it at my very first dinner here.

April 24, 2016

Macau Michelin tour 2016: breakfast and sights

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In case anyone gets the wrong idea, it wasn't all fine dining on this weekend trip.  We did get a chance to hit some breakfast spots and also walked around a little - seeing a little bit of Macau that people who only spend time in hotels and casinos don't get exposure to.

We got up pretty early the first morning and headed to Mercado Municipal Horta da Mitra (雀仔園街市) for some breakfast.  The grandma who runs Lung Kei (隆記) had just arrived and hadn't set up her stall for the day, so we asked her to save us some bread and went in search of coffee.

Café T.H.S Honolulu (檀香山咖啡) has a branch just around the corner.  For a modest-looking, local coffee shop, I was surprised to see these guys with almost 30 different single origin coffees... so I's got to order me one!

The Arabica Ethiopian Sidamo was pretty nice.  I could smell it as soon as the cup was brought to the table.

Macau Michelin tour 2016: not spicy Sichuan and Hunan

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It's our last meal on our Michelin tour, and thankfully it is also the most casual... as we were down to only three mouths.  I had never heard of Feng Wei Ju (風味居) at the StarWorld Hotel before, and apparently it only opened at the end of 2014.  It is therefore quite an achievement for this restaurant serving Sichuan and Hunan cuisine to nab themselves a Michelin star within a year of its opening.

As I'm not very fond of spicy food, I had very low expectations coming into this dinner.  I was also grateful to the Great One for accommodating my weak palate, as she definitely tried to steer clear of dishes which were bound to deliver intense heat.

We weren't expecting to get an amuse bouche at a place like this, but the spiced duck tongue was nice.  I didn't touch the pickled Chinese onion (蕎頭).

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