October 13, 2019

No nose and no tail

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I'm in Europe for a week on business, and landed in London before sunrise this morning.  I haven't stepped on UK soil since 2006, so lots of things have changed... specially the dining scene.  There are many, many places that have popped up since my last visit, and I was determined to hit a few of them.

It was too early to check in to the Athenaeum Hotel, so we dropped our bags off and went strolling around the area.  We crossed into Green Park, then ran into the Royal Parks Half Marathon circling around the three parks in central London.  it's amazing how clean and fresh the air is in London, compared to Hong Kong...

Lunch time rolled around, and I went to scratch and itch that had been around for a long, long time.  St. John needs no introduction, and Fergus Henderson has long been considered an iconic chef in this country.  I just had to come here.

Roast bone marrow and parsley salad - BUT OF COURSE I had to order this one up!  The dish that has been copied by so many chefs.  Plus I LOOOOOVE bone marrow...

October 7, 2019

Bluefin for Kitty

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It's Hello Kitty's birthday, and much to my surprise, she asked to be taken to Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう).  She hasn't been back in over a year, and I guess she kinda missed it...&nbOctopus (蛸)sp; It's been over a year since I was last here, so the reservation situation has changed a little.  Thankfully I still have some contacts at Global Link.

Given that I have a morning meeting tomorrow, I decided to take the first seating at dinner.  I chose to be seated in front of Koba-san tonight, as I was curious to see how things have changed with him.

As usual we started with a series of otsumami (おつまみ):

Octopus (蛸) - very, very tender, and the sweet marinade it was simmered in is always delicious.

Abalone (鮑) - also very tender.  Just love the texture.  That dollop of sauce made with the abalone's liver seemed a little bigger than I remembered from previous visits.  Very delish.

October 3, 2019

Krug x Pepper

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It's that time of the year again... when Champagne Krug rolls out their annual single-ingredient pairing.  Having told PR8 to fuck off politely declined an invitation from PR8 last year due to a busy schedule, and seeing that he's only managed to use up 1 meal out of his quota this year, I accepted the invitation with pleasure to join the many-hands dinner tonight... especially since this time, we don't have to travel from restaurant to restaurant just to taste one dish at each location.

The theme this year is Krug x Pepper, and early in the year a group of Krug Ambassades traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico for a little powwow.  Each participating chef has since created a dish to serve in his/her restaurant.  Tonight, 5 of these chefs came together in a showroom in a shopping mall to introduce their dishes to us.

Thanks to being stuck in traffic for about 50 minutes, I was the last to arrive with one other person.  The staff were clearly very busy, as I had to look around to get myself a glass of bubbly... at a wine dinner!  In fact, I kinda had to snap my fingers at PR8 for this...

We were soon seated at the long table, and the first dish was served:

Braised abalone, cuttlefish noodle and shishito pepper tempura, by Robin Zavou - very Japanese.  The braised Japanese abalone was very tender, as were the beautiful ribbons of cuttlefish noodles.  The scored calamari was nice and springy, and we've got some nasturtium to accompany the rather strong sauce made with abalone liver and shishito pepper (獅子唐辛子).  We also had the pepper on the side, although I wouldn't exactly call it tempura (天ぷら)...  This was pretty tasty.

September 30, 2019

When generosity turns painful

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Goh-san is back in town for a few days doing a 4-hands with Goldfinger.  On his last night in Hong Kong, he wanted to check out VEA.  So I got drafted invited by The Great One to join them since, you know, I kinda speak a little Japanese and can help translate.  Honestly, I hesitated for a while before agreeing... because my last visit left me with the conclusion that I am not the target audience.  In the end, though, curiosity got the best of me... and I wanted to see whether things have evolved.

And we started with a series of snacks, as usual, with the first one being a familiar sight:

Quail egg - marinated in Japanese vinegar and soy sauce, and smoked with apple wood.  Served, of course, under a glass dome which releases the smoke when lifted.

Wagyu and sea urchin taco - aaaaaand here we go.  Luxe and attention-grabbing ingredients.  A scallion pancake bearing a layer of minced wagyu from Kagoshima (鹿児島), topped with a few tongues of sea urchin from Hokkaido.  We were told to treat it like a taco...

September 28, 2019

Happy to meat you in Hong Kong

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I've kinda been itching to try a new place, but a couple of the prime suspects were either a little too new, or too hot to score a reservation on short notice.  Somehow I ended up calling Wagyu Vanne, and was pretty happy that they didn't seem to have a problem fitting us in on the same evening.

I'm a big fan of Yoroniku (よろにく) in Tokyo, although I've only been to their location in Aoyama and not the more upscale location 蕃 YORONIKU in Ebisu.  I heard that owner Kuwahara "Vanne" Hideyuki (桑原秀幸) chose to open an outlet here, following in the footsteps of Yakiniku Jumbo (焼肉ジャンボ) and Wagyumafia.  I wasn't in a hurry to go, but I figured enough time has passed by now.

There were a few choices of set menus, but other than a couple of items, they didn't seem particularly appealing.  So we decided to order à la carte instead.

Wagyu sushi "3 ways" (和牛握り三種類) - Hello Kitty regrets ordering this, and it's probably the only thing we had tonight that we didn't enjoy.
Maki (巻き) - my first reaction to this was simply W-T-F... Why the fuck was gold foil needed here???!!!  The freeze-dried powder made from beef fat was interesting as it added flavors and richness, but even the gold couldn't save this crappy roll with the dry and overcooked pieces of beef inside.

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