August 25, 2015

A little skewering

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We've got an old biscuit celebrating his 55th birthday tonight - along with a belated 45th celebration for another member of the crew.  As usual the task of selecting the venue fell on BM's shoulders, and he quickly got us seats at Toritama (酉玉).  This Japanese import is famously difficult to book, so we were all (once again) in awe of BM's VVIP status and pull with the best restaurants in town.  And I waited patiently for my first visit to what is supposedly the best yakitori (焼き鳥) joint in Hong Kong.

We had the private room in the back, but as it turns out, Chef Hermanus van Dyk was on vacation... which meant that our food wouldn't be cooked right in front of us, but rather out front by Chef Matsumoto Hinorobu (松本浩暢).  I could only imagine how busy he was tonight...

Toritama in Japan is known for their head-to-tail philosophy, offering as many as 33 different types of chicken skewers.  There aren't as many choices in Hong Kong, but we did get to try more than a few interesting bits...

August 22, 2015

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, premium edition

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After dipping into our first jar of Russian caviar last month, I was curious to try out the other offerings from my Russian supplier.  When I had the idea of bringing a nice tin of premium caviar to Last Minute Uncle as a gift on my trip back home last weekend, I decided to get some for myself, too.  I wanted to do a side-by-side tasting and see what the difference was... besides the price, that is.

I was due to visit my godson Bear today, and as I know Babu is a big fan of caviar - and had in fact ordered a bunch of it from my Russian supplier - I figured I'd bring the good stuff over along with a bottle of bubbly.  After all, weekend afternoons are the best time to enjoy this!

Russian malossol oscietra caviar - the control sample, the same type we had last month.  Unfortunately some of the eggs had burst, maybe due to temperature changes during transport.

August 21, 2015

Diva in the hood

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After spending 3 years in exile in the other financial hub of Asia, Diva finally managed to escape and moved back to Hong Kong.  Hello Kitty decided to help him celebrate the joyous occasion, so the three of us ended up at Neighborhood for the early seating.

Yellowfin tuna belly confit "ventresca" - apparently we didn't look at the menu carefully enough and didn't realize this was gonna be more cooked (well, it did say "confit", after all... and not "crudo").  It was very tender and delicious, and the mix of bell peppers, pickled guindilla de Ibarra, piment d'espelette powder and the garnish of lemon zest made for a pretty tasty dish.

Matsutake mushroom / egg brouille - loved these matsutake (松茸) mushrooms, and naturally they paired well with œufs brouille.  The trout caviar on the side was nice, too.

August 20, 2015

Uncles' Valentine's Day

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A friend is in town from Taipei, and it's been a while since the three of us got together for some good food and wine.  These days, though, some of my favorite restaurants have become so popular that it's impossible to get a reservation on short notice.  This meant that we had to look for a place towards the higher end of the price range.  While my friend suggested that we go back to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟), I thought I should bring the boys to Sato-san's Ta Vie 旅.

As this was a last-minute reservation, once again both Takano-san and Sato-san were surprised to see me in the dining room.  But I was the one who was more surprised, as I ran into three different sets of friends at the restaurant... While I knew that one of my friends was celebrating his birthday, it seemed the others were having a "date night" since it was "Chinese Valentine's Day" - 七夕.

A quick glance at the menu tonight showed 3 of the same dishes from my last visit, and thankfully two of them happened to be among my favorites.

Sweet corn puffed mousse with "aburi" lightly torched botan shrimp in shrimp broth jelly - ah yes.... So glad we started off with this dish again! That fluffy, ethereal, chilled sweet corn mousse... with corn kernels and diced bell peppers at the bottom.  The shrimp broth jelly on top was savory and full of umami as I remembered.  The only surprise was the nearly-raw botan shrimp (牡丹海老), which were cut into much bigger chunks than memory serves.  The flavors were still delicious, but the texture had changed... and not for the better, in my book.

August 18, 2015

Simple pizza and pasta

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I was trying to figure out where to grab lunch with my new office neighbor when she suggested CIAK - In the Kitchen.  It's been a while since I was last there, and somehow the place has gotten themselves a little macaron... So we decided to try our luck and showed up without a reservation.  Luckily for us there were still seats available at the counter facing the open kitchen.

Both of us just wanted a real simple lunch, so we agreed to share a pizza and a bowl of pasta.  Since they allow diners to order 2 different types of pizza on one pie, we were able to have a little more variety.

Tagliolini carbonara - one of my favorite dishes to order for lunch at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana is the off-menu spaghetti carbonara, since it comes in a viscous sauce made with egg yolk rather than being drenched in runny cream.  I was curious to see how the CIAK version measured up.


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