January 17, 2021

Delicious deep-fried veggie balls

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Neither Hello Kitty and I are fond of restaurants who don't take reservations, and we don't care to line up for food beyond, say, a 15-minute wait.  As a result, we have been strangers to one of Hong Kong's most beloved restaurants - among a certain crowd, at least.  My first and only visit to Yardbird came nearly 3 years ago, and Hello Kitty has never tasted their regular dishes.  We are much more familiar with the group's sister restaurant Ronin, as the latter is open for advanced booking.

But Hello Kitty felt like giving Yardbird a try, and it turned out there were seats available on a walk-in basis at lunch.  So off we went and got ourselves seats at the bar counter.  In fact, I sat in these very seats on my first visit.

Sweet corn tempura, sea salt, pepper - one cannot come here without ordering up a serving (or two) of this.  This is the second day in a row I'm having some deep-fried corn, and I absolutely love it.  I did find it a tad on the greasy side, though.  Delicious on its own, but even better with Yardbird's house blend shichimi (七味).

January 9, 2021

Supporting chef friends: my happy place

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Another Saturday, another lunch at a fine dining restaurant.  It's been a while since I last showed some love and supported one of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong, and when Hello Kitty saw a post about something she was dying to have, we decided it was time to get a table at Ta Vie 旅

With sit-down dinner still banned in town, lunch is the only option.  That means a short menu at half the price of the regular dinner menu.  Not ideal, as I'd like to get as much out of any meal here as possible, but I guess this will have to do for now...

A meal here always starts with the signature nukazuke (糠漬け) bread.  It is easily one of my favorite breads in town.

And it's always accompanied by butter and ricotta - both also made in-house just like the bread.

Kegani crab and avocado cocktail with black vinegar sauce, covered with chrysanthemum jelly - such a beautiful, classic dish from Sato-san.  The layer of jelly on top was encased with chrysanthemum leaves.  This artistic presentation suited the glass dish perfectly.

January 2, 2021

Supporting chef friends: MONO solo

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It's the first Saturday of 2021, and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal.  We are still banned by the government from dining in past 6 p.m., so it's gotta be lunch.  I felt very bad about cancelling my dinner at MONO at the last minute a few weeks ago, so I figured it was only right that I go back for my first fine dining meal of the year.

Ricardo obviously was eager for me to try out the whole shebang, so we were put through the entire 8-course tasting menu for lunch.  Unfortunately, Hello Kitty would have to leave in the middle for a meeting, leaving me powering through it all on my own...

We were treated to a nice glass of bubbly at the start of our meal:

Charles Dufour Bulles de Comptoir #8 Stilllebenm, dégorgée mars 2020 - interesting nose with honey, apricot, flint... pretty toasty and lean.  More intense on the palate.

Normandy sea urchin / saffron vichysoisse / parsley - hidden underneath the layer of parsley emulsion and warm vichyssoise (BUT WHY?!) flavored with saffron were really huge tongues of sea urchin from Normandy.  Little grains of crispy buckwheat were pretty interesting, and the texture kinda reminds me of crunchy Cantonese roast pork crackling that has been braised.

On a cold winter's day, it's nice to start with something that warms the stomach and gives you that comforting feeling.

December 31, 2020

The best dishes I had in 2020

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The year 2020 is one that many people in the world would like to forget, and that includes yours truly.  On top of the global pandemic which halted travel and confined many of us to our own cities/countries, there has been personal loss on our side.  There has been sadness all around.

Having said that, we have found occasion to dine out and meet friends, to try to inject some measure of joy into our lives in this depressing year.  Other than my two trips to Taipei in January when I mostly ate at home, I haven't been outside Hong Kong the entire year.  Coupled with social distancing measures imposed or recommended by the government, we've dined out a lot less in 2020.

As in previous years, I have put together a list of the dishes which I thought were "the best", in the sense that they elicited the most amount of positive emotions from me. They are listed in chronological order here:

Pineapple bun (菠蘿包), from Dang Wen Li - I love that Dominique Ansel and his team created items inspired by the local dining culture, and what looked like a 菠蘿油 with a slab of butter turned out to be nothing of the sort.  The tropical flavors just worked together really, really well.

One last (last) star

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It's New Year's Eve, and none of us can dine out after 6 p.m.  So the same crew from Christmas Eve, when we also were barred from dining out, re-assembled for another quite evening at home.

Tonight, though, Hello Kitty decided that she wasn't going to cook.  Truth be told, she's cooked more in 2020 than the previous few years combined, so she certainly deserved a night off.  We chose to pick up different goodies from around town.

We started with these baked puff pastry with crab roe and cheese (蟹粉芝士燒餅) from China Tang (唐人館).  Kinda interesting, I guess.  Not a combination I would have imagined.

We also nibbled on some mortadella and prosciutto.


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