June 17, 2018

The first dragon

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Mr. QLI is in town for a few days, and we were overdue for a catch-up.  After going through a bunch of options, we realized that he has never been to any of the RyuGin restaurants, so I made a booking for a relatively early seating at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟).

This was the first time that I've been here as a 2-top, and we were seated by the window along the corridor.  The sun had not yet completely set, and it seemed a little unfamiliar for me to be here without the skies being pitch black outside.

The menu still consists of 12 courses - some of which are small bites - including two desserts.

Cold somen with sea urchin and hamaguri clam stock (蛤と雲丹のそうめん) - I always love the fact that they serve up a chilled somen (そうめん) as the first course during the warmer months.  This time the noodles came in a milky clam stock, topped with Hokkaido sea urchin, scallion sprouts (芽ネギ), and sudachi (酢橘) zest shavings.  So refreshing, with creamy richness.  We were told that there was also something called hananome on top, but I don't know what that is, and I couldn't see it...

June 16, 2018

Occupy Amber: Classic prima donna

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It's that time of the year again, and Hello Kitty is treating me to dinner.  We had talked about going back to Amber to try their Amber Classics Menu before the restaurant closes for renovations later this year, and this seemed like a good occasion for a visit.  After all, it's been way, waaaaay too long since I last had Richard Ekkebus' signature Hokkaido sea urchin dish...

As Hello Kitty had made the reservation under her name - which now requires credit card guarantee thanks to "no shows" - the staff did not realize that Prima Donna was coming tonight... so Richard was pretty surprised to see me.  It was good to see him, and for some reason he seemed 10 years younger compared to when I last saw him early this year.    He must have been refreshed by his holiday back home.

We had told the staff that we were taking the Amber Classics Menu, but Richard was very kind as always and asked whether we were willing to let him make some arrangements for us.  We ended up getting a few extra dishes from the current degustation menu.

June 11, 2018

One night in Burghood

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The Man in White T-Shirt very kindly invited me to dinner at his restaurant tonight.  Apparently a journalist from French TV is in town, trying to figure out why we Asians love Burgundian wines so much.  So the boss rounded up a few of us for a "roundtable" dinner at Neighborhood.  To be honest, I wasn't sure that I belonged at the table, since there were many lovers of Burgundy in this town more qualified to have a conversation about the region.  But, hey, if the boss wants me there...

So 7 of us sat around a table and talked wine.  Burgundian wines.  Why do we love them?  Why are prices going through the roof?  What are people looking for?

Meanwhile, The Man in White T-Shirt arranged a series of delicious eats for us.  I'm not sure what the journalist and the shooting crew got to eat, but I'm sure they enjoyed their food, too...  Better yet, they got to drink some of the wines after they finished their work.  I gotta applaud their professionalism for declining our offers of wine during shooting...


Pancetta / culatello di zibello "Massimo Spigaroli" - it's always good to start with these.  The pancetta was wonderful, but the culatello from black pigs was even better.

June 8, 2018

The friend I never had but felt I did

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I don't remember exactly when I first learned of Anthony Bourdain's existence.  I had heard about an amazing book called Kitchen Confidential, and in early 2005 I bought a copy through Amazon.  Not only was it insightful and entertaining, but it was literally life-changing.  By that I meant it had changed some of my dining patterns.  I no longer ordered the seafood special - especially on Mondays - and I stopped eating mussels almost completely.

It was also around the same time that I first saw a couple of episodes of The Cook's Tour - his first TV show.  As I was planning an eating trip around Spain - including a pintxos bar crawl and dinner at the legendary elBulli - his episodes on San Sebastien and the special entitled "Decoding Ferran Adria" were particularly key.  My friends and I hit the same pintxos bars he did in San Sebastien.

June 4, 2018

Remembrance, 29 years on

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A few weeks ago I received a kind invitation to attend a pop-up in Macau by a chef from a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars.  Normally this would be just my thing, but this time I chose to decline for two reasons.  The first one being that I didn't want to take time off from my current very busy schedule at work.  The second one - which was probably more important to me - was that I wanted to attend the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the massacre on June 4, 1989.

I don't come every year.  In fact, this was just the fourth time I have taken the time to come here.  But somehow, this year, it seemed imperative that I announce my presence.  The last few years have seen the crowds dwindle, in part thanks to the misguided sentiments of Hong Kong's university student unions.  If the youth of Hong Kong don't understand why it's important to commemorate this tragic event, then it's up to us old farts to come and remind them.

Although we all know today to be the 29th anniversary of the massacre - and this to be the 29th candlelight vigil - it is also important to note that it is the 21st candlelight vigil since Hong Kong's sovereignty reverted back to China.  Yes, it is remarkable that we are gathering in memory of the dead on Chinese soil... and this is one of only two locations within the borders of the People's Republic of China where one can do this without fear of being thrown into a dark jail.  One Country, Two Systems is still alive... for now... although I wouldn't say that it's "alive and well".

In contrast to years past, I chose to come in from Gate 14 of Victoria Park - just next to the Tin Hau MTR Station.  After all, I wanted to be as close to the main stage as possible, and this just made so much more sense.  We arrived more than 45 minutes before the formal festivities started.


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