May 23, 2020

Second chances, 2020 edition

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It's been a while since we last met up with Mr. and Mrs. Film Buff, and we figured it was time to pop a few bottles together.  I was a little surprised when he suggested we go back to Écriture, but then I've always liked Maxime's cuisine.  The front-of-house, though, have managed to ruffle a few feathers.

Hello Kitty was so pissed off by the service at two previous visits that she was hesitant to go back, despite being a fan of the food.  It turns out that the Film Buff, too, was upset about the service during his only visit to the restaurant.  He had loved the dishes being served, but was so upset about the level of service that he wrote to Maxime to complain - and subsequently never returned.  Knowing that I'm on friendly terms with Maxime, my friend asked me to book us a table to see if the "Peter treatment" would be any better...

I felt bad, though, as I made the booking on very short notice.  Our original plans were abruptly changed, and I pinged Maxime only 4 days ago.  Thankfully he was able to arrange something for us... and ended up giving us the private room.

Écriture has been prominent in their use of high quality Japanese produce, but Maxime has decided that in these special times, they need to do their part in ensuring that French produce suppliers survive the current crisis.  So now they have switched to an all-French lineup.

Japanese bun with quail egg, shaved bottarga, egg(?) panna cotta, black truffle - not sure what the "Japanese bun" was, as it was not quite mantou (饅頭) but still kinda chewy.

Crispy potato curl, coriander hummus, spring flowers - a little salty, and plenty of coriander.

May 17, 2020

Beijing Sichuan Guangdong

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Hello Kitty was having lunch with Little Rabbit at China Tang (唐人館), and I was told that they would be having some Sichuanese dishes... which kinda boggled my mind.  What is an ostensibly Cantonese restaurant serving up spicy Sichuanese food?  Did I want to join them?  Well... not if it's gonna be all spicy stuff.  Then came the sweetener that closed the deal: we could order up the now-famous Peking duck if I joined them...

I've been to China Tang thrice over the years, although someone else has always footed the bill each time.  My three visits were also made with three different head chefs in the kitchen, and on this fourth visit there would be yet another chef helming the kitchen.

But what made this place a popular destination lately isn't even remotely Cantonese.  In a bid to drum up business during these difficult times, all of Uncle Peter's outlets have taken to offering large discounts of 30%.  I even had a bone-in ribeye at half price a few weeks ago.  Here, though, they decided to bring diners in the door with a loss leader - a roast Peking duck for all of HKD 198.  I can't tell you how many of my friends have taken advantage of this, and it keeps popping up on my social media feed.

So here I am... finally taking advantage of this incredible offer myself.  Little Rabbit had asked the chef to propose a menu for us, so all I had to do was to bring my appetite.

Marinated peanut sprouts (涼拌花生芽) - these are always fun... While we're used to having sprouts of soy beans or mung beans, peanut sprouts are decidedly less common.

Marinated tomato, mustard sesame sauce (胡麻醬拌鮮黑蕃茄) - pretty surprised at the quality of the tomato, which was very sweet.

May 2, 2020

Supporting chef friends: 3-star social distancing

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Hello Kitty and I have been cooped up at home for much too long, and the long weekend provided us with an excuse to meet up with friends and take a break from the pressures we've been under.  We decided to pay Hairy Legs a visit at Caprice, since it has been a long, long time since Hello Kitty was last there.

With the government-mandated social distancing rules still in place, we couldn't all sit at one table... and had to put some distance between us.  Not the best arrangement, but we still ended up enjoying ourselves.  It's been a while since I was last fed by Hairy Legs, and I was curious what was coming our way.  As usual, I gave him carte blanche and this time didn't specify any dishes I wanted.

First the amuses bouches:

Button mushroom and foie gras gelée tart

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar

Pita with curry chicken mousse - always a nice bite, and supposedly Suveg's contribution.

April 25, 2020

Supporting chef friends: Stereo RC

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While Hong Kong has not officially shut down, shelter-in-place, or triggered "circuit breaker" as many other cities and countries around the world have, Hong Kongers have been practicing social distancing for the last 3 months - even dispensing with the traditional Lunar New Year greetings among family and friends.  As people stay home and reduce their frequency of dining out, and with the government mandating reduced seating capacity and other measures, restaurants have been going through tough times.  Many restaurants, including those at the fine dining end of the spectrum, have followed their peers around the world to offer takeout or delivery menus for the first time.

Ricardo Chaneton at MONO has rolled out a series of boxed sets exclusively for takeout or delivery, which is offered under the punny moniker of Stereo by MONO.  Of those, I decided to take Ricardo's recommendation and ordered the Latin America Inspired Set 1.  I figured there should be enough food for Hello Kitty, My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin, and myself.  To save the restaurant from incurring delivery costs, I offered to pickup in person,

This was a pretty nice spread, with starters, a generous main course, and dessert.

April 22, 2020

Discount ribeye

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It's been a while since Fat Donkey and I caught up over dinner with just the two of us, and I figured we could blow off some steam and catch up on current events.  I had initially suggested that we return to CIAK - In the Kitchen as they are offering 30% off food items (but only on their regular menu, not on any "specials", as I discovered a few weeks ago), but Fat Donkey counter-offered with Beefbar - another establishment backed by Uncle Peter that is also offering 30% discount.  So we settled for some beef.

Homemade sea urchin tagliolini - arguably my favorite dish at the restaurant, and we ordered 1 serving to share between us.  This was just... perfect.  The rich shellfish sauce was so, so tasty... and perfect with just a couple of tongues of sea urchin.

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