August 22, 2016

Rio Olympics ceremonies: thoughts and memories

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Another four years have gone by, and this year we had the Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro.  I've long been a seller of the Rio Games, and didn't think they could actually manage to pull it off.  They did.  So kudos to the Brazilians for getting their act together (mostly).  They overcame plenty of obstacles, not the least of which was fear of the Zika virus.

As usual, I made an effort to watch the Opening Ceremony, which meant dragging my ass out of bed before 7 a.m. on a Saturday.  But it's usually worth it, and I gotta say that I really enjoyed it this time.

August 20, 2016

Eight is (not) enough

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It's been a while since our little group have gotten together for dinner, and figured we could gather up the troops and pop a few corks.  While I was kinda hoping that we'd go and revisit my new Shanghainese discovery, a few people were pretty insistent that we pay ON Dining Kitchen and Lounge a visit.  Apparently I was responsible for ensuring that we got the VIP treatment, since I'm on friendly terms with chef Philippe Orrico, manager Jeremy Evrard, and sommelier Nicolas Deneux.

So... in order to measure up to what was expected to me, I reached out to both Philippe and Jeremy in advance.  I asked Philippe about the new dishes on the menu, and I asked Jeremy to please set aside some wine glasses for us.  And just a couple of days before today, our party suddenly went to a table of 6 to a table of 9.  Thankfully that didn't turn out to be a problem, but it meant we needed more wine glasses...

I ran into Philippe when I arrived, and he had put together a few of his newer dishes for us.  This was pretty exciting...

Our amuse bouche was a serving of Cavaillon melon gazpacho, with melon balls and a slice of smoked duck breast.  It's always good to start with something slightly chilled and refreshing, something a little sweet and fruity, which whets the appetite.

Impromptu Kitty

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As I've been doing for the last 2 weeks, I dragged my ass out of bed early in the morning and turned on the TV to watch the 2016 Olympics in Rio.  As my eyes gained the ability to focus after the first few minutes of being awake, I grabbed my phone and opened up Facebook.  I had the option of reviewing my memories with the On This Day function, so I checked them out.  A year ago today I happened to have lunch for the second time at the Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine (Hello Kitty 中菜軒), thanks to visitors who demanded that I take them there.  I decided to share a picture I took that day, which showed a group of 6 middle-aged "uncles" having dim sum at a restaurant where every other table was occupied by a female or a child fan of Hello Kitty.

So... when Hello Kitty finally decided to wake up this morning, and wondered about what to do for lunch, she decided that she wanted to have some Hello Kitty-shaped dim sum.  Thankfully the restaurant was only a short walk away, and we managed to arrive shortly before 1 p.m.  As luck would have it, we only had to wait about 5 minutes for a table to open up.

We wanted to get a couple of old favorites for the usual photo op, but also wanted to try some new items.  Given that there were only two of us, it was decided that we would just stick to dim sum items and dessert.

Hello Kitty spring rolls (春卷) - the spring rolls were kinda skinny but tasted fine.  They went out of their way to make this into a "Hello Kitty" item by decorating a rice cracker which, unfortunately, got a little stale despite being wrapped in cellophane.

August 16, 2016

Private reunion

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Thanks to my week of painful gastritis, I managed to cancel a few dinners with friends - including someone I hadn't seen for a couple of months.  When we decided to reschedule our meeting, we figured we should go back to my favorite private dining space.  As we began thinking about who else to grab for this dinner, it seemed like a good idea to invite our friends who had worked with us at the German sausage factory.  It gave us a chance to catch up with everyone.

After taking a couple of requests, I added a couple of my favorite dishes, and arrange the menu with the chef.  Some of us have not had the chance to dine here, so anticipation was high.

Barbecued Iberico pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - always one of my favorites.  Lots of flavor here without the excess honey glaze.  Today the pork was a little lean and tough, but still tasty.

August 6, 2016

Sushi and deep-fried sticks

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After a long bout with gastritis - and days of eating a lot of bread with water - I found myself craving for something a little more satisfying.  I've been thinking about sushi for a few weeks now, as it's been a while since I last had something decent.  Then there's the fact that it's been baby gizzard shad season, and I really love them.  The question comes down to picking out a place in Hong Kong that would have the right supplier for that.

I remembered that I had the pleasure of having it prepared by Masa-san at Rozan (鮨魯山) 3 years ago, so I figured that would be a logical place to try.  I called to make a reservation.  No answer.  OK, it's past 10 p.m.  I'll call the next day during the day.  Still no answer, at an hour where someone should be in the restaurant prepping for lunch.  Called during lunch service, and still the call went straight to a mobile phone number's voice mail.  After 4 or 5 attempts, I gave up.  I know that this restaurant isn't hard up on money, nor does it need to fill every seat, but seriously...  How do you even do business when nobody picks up the fucking phone?!

Fortunately, my friends know the manager in charge of Uncle Peter's restaurants, and they ended up making the reservation by contacting him.  I, too, was given the manager's business card once, but I don't know the guy well enough to call him on his mobile for a reservation.  Whatever the case, at least we got ourselves seats at the counter.

We placed our order and the staff asked us about any dietary restrictions.  Out of habit, Hello Kitty and I shake our heads... but we would later realize our mistake.  We were, after all, dining at a top-end sushi restaurant.

A trio of amuse bouches start us off:

Grilled eel (鰻) - with pickled cucumber and mozuku (海蘊) seaweed in ponzu (ポン酢).  A nice way to begin the meal, as the acidity in ponzu whets one's appetite.

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