November 25, 2014

Week of not collecting Michelin stars: my favorite roast goose

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I'm back in Hong Kong today and looking for a quick dinner near the office before heading home with my luggage.  So I decided to walk to my favorite place for Cantonese roast goose - Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝).

I've been coming to Yat Lok for my roast goose since 2006 when a former colleague introduced me to the place.  I've long thought that they offered one of the best Cantonese roast goose in town, and a few years ago I even did a face-off between Yat Lok and the much lauded goose from Yung Kee (鏞記酒家).  Needless to say Yat Lok won that round.

They've been included in the Rubberman's guide for the last few years and chosen as part of their Bib Gourmand section, which is basically good eats and reasonable prices - something I wholeheartedly agree with.  For the 2015 guide, though, some idiot (maybe the same idiot who decided to give a star to Din Tai Feng (鼎泰豐) and Tim Ho Wan (添好運) starting from the 2010 edition) decided to give these guys a star.  Now, I'm one of the biggest fans of this place, but a freakin' Michelin star?!  Dude, this is a place where just about everyone spits their goose and chicken bones onto the table, and there's about maybe 10 cm between me and my neighbor.  WTF are these Michelin people thinking?!

OK, enough ranting... or e_ting will remind me again of my promise a few years ago to stop saying WTF when the annual list comes out...

November 24, 2014

Week of not collecting Michelin stars: Indian surprise

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I'm back in Macau today for a board meeting with the boss.  Given that we were staying at the Venetian, had limited time for dinner, and there were only two of us, the choices were woefully limited.  We had casually strolled into one of the Chinese eateries and sat down, but after noticing a certain look on the boss' face, I suggested that we could go somewhere else if the food wasn't to his liking.

As soon as we walked out the door, the boss surprised me by saying: "Let's try the Indian food (with Michelin stars)".

Really?!  That was the last thing I thought would happen tonight.

Well, Golden Peacock was pretty close by, and within a couple of minutes we were seated and flipping through the menu.  The good thing about tonight was that I didn't have to do the ordering, and the boss ended up picking a bunch of more interesting dishes than I would have myself.

First came some traditional snacks like papadum and what looked like murukku and namak para, served with dips and chutney.

Scallop ambot tik - apparently a Goan specialty, these Scottish scallops were very good.  Cooked mi-cuit, the spicy tomato jam provided both a nice acidity and the spicy kick.  Little puris were served on the side with garnish.  Interestingly, the fine, colorful curls which at first glance looked like rubber bands turned out to be capsicums...

November 23, 2014

Getting drunk at The Porn

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Another month has gone by, and now it was Lord Rayas' turn to host his dinner for MNSC.  No one was surprised when The Porn Pawn was announced as the venue this year.  After all, the place had just re-opened weeks ago to much fanfare after 3 months' of renovations, and now they've got Tom Aikens on board.  True to form, I've deliberately stayed away during the initial opening period - not wanting to pass judgement on the new operation.  Tonight I finally got my chance for a first nibble.

I had seen pictures of the interior posted online by others, and it seems the renovation has met with mixed reactions.  They did manage to rip up the interiors again, and this time the look is decidedly updated and modern.  We naturally found ourselves in the the private room, and with its black marble walls and tables, the mirrored entrance arch, and the newfangled lighting, I think it's only fitting that we now call it The PORN...

November 22, 2014

Old school Hong Kong day part 2: village wedding

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After bidding farewell to my visitors, I hopped on the train and slowly made by way to the northwest corner of Hong Kong.  One of my friends - who is an indigenous inhabitant (原居民) - is throwing a wedding banquet in her ancestral village in the New Territories.  This was a rare opportunity for me to see a part of Hong Kong that many of us don't get much exposure to.

A couple of years ago, I had asked my friend about the opportunity to visit her village so that I could have the opportunity to sample the famous poon choi (盆菜) offered in the New Territories during the festive season.  Well, I'm glad I finally got that invitation, and even happier that it's for her wedding banquet!

After a short bus ride from the nearest train station, I followed the signs in the direction of my friend's village in Ha Tsuen (夏村).  I soon started seeing various signs and posters they put up to guide us in the right direction, so it turned out to be pretty easy for me to find my way... whereas a bunch of people who drove had a lot more trouble than I did.

When enough people have arrived, the bride (the groom did show up, eventually...) led us on a tour of the village.  First stop was this landmark which announced that one is now in Ha Tsuen.

Old school Hong Kong day part 1: morning tea at Lin Heung

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I had a couple of visitors from out of town this weekend, but unfortunately my schedule was too busy to take them out properly... so in the end we settled for "morning tea (早茶)" at a Hong Kong institution - Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓).

We arrived just after 10:30 a.m. on this particular Saturday, and not surprisingly there was not an empty seat in sight.  The reason why this was only my third visit to said establishment in almost 20 years of being in Hong Kong - never mind that my office has been within walking distance for quite a few of those years - is I never wanted to spend time waiting for a table.  My last visit was with Sheets, and since his family owns the place, there was naturally no need to wait for a table...

Well it took the three of us a while, including me trying to not get into an argument with some locals - but we did eventually manage to find 3 empty chairs to settle our butts into.  After rinsing our tea cups, bowls, chopsticks and spoons in the bowl of hot water provided, I grabbed our stamp card and went to look for our food.

As I would remark later to a couple of Caucasians at the same table, you gotta fight for your table and also fight for your food here.  Depending on where you find your seat, it may be unlikely for the dim sum carts to ever reach you... so you just gotta go find the ladies with the carts and bring the food back to the table.  And on most days like today, there's gonna be a mob surrounding the cart as soon as it comes out of the kitchen.  In fact, a bunch of people and I were kinda standing around waiting for the cart to emerge, and would pounce on the poor cart lady within seconds - almost like a feeding frenzy of piranhas or sharks...

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