April 17, 2015

Friday night excursion to Macau

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For the longest time, the Great One has lamented about the fact that she has never eaten at The Eight - the Cantonese restaurant in the Grand Lisboa Hotel with three Michelin stars.  Her routine for Macau usually consists of a very long lunch at Robuchon, after which she no longer has any stomach space for the dinner she always planned to have.  So any other restaurant basically has zero chance of making it on her list...

Ever since my first visit there 4 years ago, I have been raving about this place... and I really do think it is the best Cantonese restaurant I have been to in the Hong Kong/Macau region.  Apparently Fergie decided to check things out for himself a few months ago, and he's become a fan as well.  So we finally decided organize an excursion to Macau tonight for the Great One's benefit since, as they say... when the Kat's away, the mice will play.

I rarely ever let establishment owners or chefs know in advance of my arrival - except for establishments in whom I have the utmost confidence.  As this is the Lisboa and I will invariably order up a bottle or two in advance, I pinged the PR team at the Lisboa to ask for help.  After consulting with Fergie, I put in an order for a few dishes, and asked them to fish out an old bottle of Riesling for me.  I also told them about the crew I was bringing with me.

We were greeted upon arrival by the lovely Eugenia, as well as the hotel's Chinese FnB manager Kenneth - whose father, Lai Yau-tim (黎有甜), is the man behind Tim's Kitchen (桃花源).  After introductions, they very politely left us alone in the privacy of the room they arranged for us.

We began, as usual, with two bites of amuse bouche.  The first was a little abalone with pomelo jelly...

...followed by wagyu beef cubes with pine nuts and celery in crispy bird's nest.

Barbecued and smoked pork (明爐叉燒不見天) - this cut of pork is apparently from the legs... and supposed to be lean (i.e. not marbled), but of course there was just a nice layer of fat on top!  It's my second time ordering this, and I really, really love this.

April 16, 2015

Casual Filipino eats

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This morning my friend Susan Jung from the South China Morning Post put up a link to her review of Lab Eat, a new Filipino restaurant and bar.  She had raved about the place a few days ago, telling us it was the best Filipino food she's ever had.  Well, since I was looking for ideas on where to eat tonight in that general vicinity, I decided to go check it out for myself.  Purely coincidentally, my dining companion knows one of the partners who invested in the restaurant.

Filipino cuisine is one that I am completely unfamiliar with.  I haven't had the slightest urge to hit a Filipino restaurant in the last 20 years that I've been in Hong Kong, and my one and only trip to the islands was more than 25 years ago.  So yeah, this would be a little eye-opener for me.

The fact that there were only two of us severely limited the number of dishes we could try, but I was really looking forward to this experience.  Since neither of us know much of anything about Filipino cuisine, we both looked to our friends for suggestions - me picking dishes from Susan's review, and my dining companion from her Filipino friends.

We started with cocktails, and I ordered my current favorite - negroni.  This was OK, but I've really been spoiled by the ONegroni that I get at On Dining Kitchen and Bar.

Kinilaw na tanigue - this was described as "Filipino ceviche", which is kinda accurate.  The cubes of Pacific mackerel are mixed with vinegar and diced onions, chili peppers, ginger, and what seemed to be green bell peppers.  Lots of crunch here, and while the zesty acidity was expected, the strong kick from ginger was not.  My first bite included little bits of bird's eye chili that I didn't pick out...

April 13, 2015

Where everybody knows your name

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I was planning to work late and have a simple dinner on my own, when a friend pinged me.  Was I busy tonight?  No.  She needed a pick-me-up.  Could we go to David Lai's Neighborhood tonight?  Well, I wasn't feeling particularly hungry, but I could certainly keep her company.  I happened to be in touch with another friend who was already at Neighborhood, and we quickly arranged for me to take over her table after her time was up.

I wasn't the least bit hungry, thanks to the fact that about 2½ hours before sitting down to dinner, I decided to inhale a bag of incredibly delicious, recently-expired Calbee yuzukosho (柚子胡椒)-flavored potato chips.  So from my perspective, ours was gonna be a low-revenue table for David...

Truffle poached artichoke / smoked garlic aioli - David very kindly sent this out to start us off.  I have come to love David's steamed artichokes at On Lot 10, but this poached version was even better.

April 10, 2015

Que pasa

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Following our last successful expedition to NUR, ILove Lubutin decided that she wanted to hit another restaurant with me.  Neither of us have tried Quest by Que, although we've both heard good things about the place.  As luck would have it, she knows Chef Que's wife... so it wasn't a problem for us to get a table.

Grilled octopus, watermelon, pickled watermelon skin, ice lettuce - the octopus was smoky from grilling, and had a very tender texture.  But it lacked any seasoning whatsoever, therefore it was imperative to take the octopus with plenty of other ingredients in the same mouthful.  The watermelon provided some juicy sweetness, while the pickled watermelon skin added acidity.  The crispy rice paper added additional texture, while the kaffir lime leaf chiffonade and turmeric foam both contributed some fragrance, and the sauce came with a little spicy kick.  Pretty enjoyable dish to start with.

April 9, 2015

Deep-fried nobodies

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Another month, and another review for the South China Morning Post.  Interestingly, when I received the list of suggested restaurants for me to check out, there was something from my hood.  Since very few of the other restaurants looked interesting, and the chance of reviewing something else in my hood in the future is likely to be slim, I jumped on this rare opportunity.  I also roped in my neighbor e_ting, who had just returned from a prolonged absence from our hood.

Jin Cuisine (晉薈) in the Holiday Inn Express Hong Kong Kowloon East (that's a real mouthful!) isn't exactly a new restaurant, but it qualifies for a new review as it changed from serving Shanghainese to Cantonese cuisine.  So off we went!

Not wanting to monopolize things, I asked e_ting to share the ordering duties with me.  Many of us tend to order very specific items when visiting restaurants for the first time, which we use as "litmus tests" to gauge whether a kitchen can deliver on the basics.  I got to see what her tests were.

Sweet and sour pork (菠蘿咕嚕肉) - yes, boys and girls, your eyes aren't deceiving you.  Two Chinese people, who aren't gweilos, walked into a Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong and voluntarily ordered sweet and sour pork.  This is her test, and to be honest, it's a pretty good one.


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