March 15, 2019

Tokyo hop March 2019 : Saito with Saito

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I'm in Tokyo for a 3-day long-weekend.  As I had just started at a new job a few weeks ago, I'm not exactly in a position to take any kind of a proper break... so I ended up taking 1 day off and flew up to Tokyo on a red-eye flight - landing around 6:30 a.m. and not getting much sleep sitting upright in cattle class.

The main event for this trip?  Lunch at Sushi Saito (鮨さいとう) today.  Depending on who you ask, this is the holy grail of Edomae sushi (江戸前寿司).   It has been the top-rated sushiya in Tokyo on Tabelog (食べログ) for a number of years, and is generally regarded as the toughest reservation to bag - especially if you want to sit in front of Saito-san's counter.  So how did I, a nobody, manage to get myself a seat?

Thankfully I do have a few friends in high places, and I decided to call in a favor - and this was a big one for sure.  About 6 months ago, The Dining Austrian very graciously offered me a seat next to him at lunch today.  I was, of course, very grateful for this.

March 9, 2019

Happy mom, happy son

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I'm back home in Taipei for a short weekend trip, with the main goal of celebrating mom's birthday a few days early.  It's becoming increasingly difficult to pick a decent restaurant in Taipei to take the Parental Units out, and tonight I decided to go back to Tutto Bello after a few years.

While the others ordered à la carte, I decided to take the shorter, gourmet tasting menu to try a few more dishes.

Cappe sante / cipollina / salsa al Champagne - the scallops were well-executed and mi-cuit.  The Champagne sauce came with lots of trout roe, and there was a good level of acidity in the sauce.  Pretty nice.

March 7, 2019

Pineapple pijja

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I'm meeting up with a friend for lunch in order to deliver some goods, and my friend was kind enough to accommodate me by picking somewhere close to my office.  In fact, it doesn't get much closer than Kytaly.  As the place doesn't take bookings for parties of less than 6, I showed up just a couple of minutes past noon to try to grab us a table.

But did I have to run into the hardworking PR here today?  He is seemingly everywhere!  I was just chatting with someone who ran into him yesterday at another restaurant he works with, and here he was.  I would soon learn that Franco Pepe himself was here, and my PR friend was doing his thing and invited a bunch of media people for a tasting.

Which is the reason why, even though I had arrived just a couple of minutes after 12pm, my friend and I were relegated to the outdoor deck on a rainy day.  The indoor seating had been reserved for those who were deemed worthy...

Despite my protestations, the hardworking PR insisted on introducing me to the maestro as well as the restaurant's owner - as if I were someone of significance and worth remembering.  The truth was that Franco probably forgot my existence in a matter of minutes, and nothing would have changed had I asked for a selfie like many people.

The restaurant now offers a set lunch, but I decided that since we were here for pizza, pizza was what we would do... none of those fancy schmancy appetizers and stuff.  I knew that two pizzas would be a little much, but we did it anyway.

Alifana - with fior di latte, smoked scamorza, strips of bacon, and shredded onions.   This was very, very delicious.  Franco being in the kitchen today probably made a difference, as the crust was certainly a lot more firm and crispy.  The thickness of the dough in the center was still pretty thin, but my first piece was something special.  The smoky cheese, that bacon, and the sweetness coming from the onions came together for a satisfying slice.

March 2, 2019

Tasty imports

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Having drastically cut down on the frequency of big meals since the start of 2019, I felt Hello Kitty and I were due for a night of fine dining.  I offered her a few suggestions, and I wasn't too surprised to see her pick HAKU.  She had expressed curiosity about Goldfinger's cuisine, having heard a mixed bag of opinions from friends.  Of course, that included my own, rather strongly-worded dissenting opinion more than a year ago.

We were seated in the only two open seats upon arrival, and I am grateful that Goldfinger has saved two of the best seats in the house for us.  I figured that the menu would be pretty interesting, and I decided to take the wine pairing for a change.  My only disappointment was that sommelier Wallace was off tonight...

Shirauo / yuzu - BOOM!  Right off the bat, we were treated to something really special.  It's been years since I last had live icefish (白魚), so this was a rare treat.  These were seasoned with yuzu (柚子), ponzu (ポン酢), and garnished with perilla flowers.

February 28, 2019

Altiplano in Hong Kong

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It's been a while since we last caught up with Mr. Ho, and we were pretty glad he had some free time while he's in town.  Not wanting a formal meal, I decided to take him to Ichu Peru - Virgilio Martinez's outpost which opened last year.  After all, I was overdue for a visit since we haven't been back since the pre-opening invitation from Virgilio.

But I had my reservations.  I had been checking the restaurant's social media page, and I was getting the impression that the place was turning into a club instead, as there are DJs playing music on Thursday nights on the terrace.  So I pinged Chef Sang Jeon about this, and after a brief discussion I decided that we would start dinner early, so that we could leave before the place starts heaving.

As we were sitting in the main dining room tonight, the lighting was very, very dim.  Not as dim as some places where one would need to turn on the torch from one's phone to read the menu, but make it tough to take decent pictures.  Oh well.

We started the evening with a cocktail.  I chose Vida, which was genever-based with roots, barks, and chlorophyll added.

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