July 25, 2014

Stop the Press

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It seems that more and more restaurants are closing or moving because of rent hikes or other issues with space, and this has been a global phenomenon - affecting even places like wd~50 and Union Square Cafe in New York.  The latest victim struck a little closer to home, and came in the form of the flagship restaurant of the Press Room Group.

In 2006 a couple of the MNSC boys got together with their buddy and opened up the Press Room and Classified.  It was refreshing to see guys who loved and knew their food trying to bring authentic French brasserie experience to Hong Kong.  It was also in an offbeat location - taking many of us out of our comfort zones.  But we showed up in droves, and nowadays the Press Room Group is a formidable player on the Hong Kong FnB scene.

July 24, 2014

The Pearl Kong Chen menu, part 2

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It's been 6 days since my first dinner at One Harbour Road (港灣壹號) with the first of two special Pearl Kong Chen (江獻珠) menus, and two days ago we received the devastating news that she had passed on.  Apparently the restaurant had thought about canceling the promotion after her passing, but the family felt it wouldn't be what Mrs. Chen wanted - she would have wanted to introduce more people to her recipes and promote old-school Cantonese cooking.  For my part, I'm glad they didn't cancel it, because I think the best way to remember her is by being here and enjoying those dishes.

Dinner tonight was organized by Susan the Great, and we were joined by none other than Wilson Kwok - Mrs. Chen's godson and the proprietor behind W's Entrecôte.  Wilson's presence made things a lot more interesting for the rest of us.

I planned my two dinners so that I would be able to take both of the set menus.  I also checked against the à la carte menu and found there was one dish that didn't appear on either of the set menus.  After getting the nod from Susan, I ordered this as an extra on top of the set.  This way I would have gone through every single dish on offer during this promotion.

Supreme scholar's deep-fried custard (太史戈渣) - the only overlapping dish between the two set menus, and I can certainly understand why.  I still love having this every time, and the presentation was a little better tonight.

July 23, 2014

Holycow

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When I had dinner with 娜姐 last week, she mentioned that Neal Martin was coming back to town... and would I be interested in joining them for a casual dinner?  As Neal is an easygoing guy and it's been a while since I last saw him, I figured there was no reason not to join them for dinner.

I had suggested a Cantonese restaurant that none of us had been to, as I kinda wanted to check the place out.  But our hostess was a little concerned about whether the wine service was up to her standards, so we ended up at Holytan (葆里湛) - which was literally across the street from my office building.

I vaguely remember seeing glimpses about this place on social media, so I found a review on Fungry and Fabulous and became a little worried.  Would I have the same kind of experience as a wine dinner a few months ago, where I could only smell the grilled beef and not the wonderful wines I was drinking?  That would be a real shame, since we were sure to bring out some nice bottles tonight.  Fortunately our hosts have been there on several occasions, and didn't find ventilation to be an issue.

I arrived and was relieved to find that the aircon was on full blast, so I wasn't able to smell the kitchen.  After everyone arrived and the wines had been taken care of, it was time to eat!

The amuse bouche was a little skinned cherry tomato with beef gelatin, sprinkled with what I thought was black olive powder.

July 22, 2014

The stony summer dragon

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A few weeks ago I ran into Chef Sato from Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟), and we chatted about the new Shoun RyuGin (祥雲龍吟) that Chef Seiji Yamamoto (山本征治) is opening in my hometown Taipei and how excited I was.  I apologized for not having visited his restaurant as often as I would have liked, and was surprised that he remembered that my last visit was only a couple of months ago.  Mrs. Tigger had told me about their recent visit and that the Japanese white peach was now on the menu, so I promised Chef Sato that I would make a visit this month.  My Favorite Cousin is always up for a good meal, and since she works in the same building as the restaurant, I asked her to join me for dinner tonight.

I received a call from the restaurant staff this afternoon, and after confirming that I was still coming tonight, the person at the other end of the line checked to make sure I want tuna removed from my menu.  I was pleasantly surprised that they remembered - since I forgot to tell them not to give me tuna last time - and chalk it up to good customer profiling.

As I walked out of the elevator on the 101st floor on my way to the restaurant, the receptionist greeted me my name.  Another pleasant surprise, although since both Chef Sato and Takano-san know me by sight, that information has probably also been passed down to others.  Guess I'm not as anonymous as I thought...

Cold somen topped with white shrimp and premium caviar (富山 "白海老" フランス ソローニュ川 "キャビア" そうめん) - always love to start off with this in the summer since it's really refreshing.

July 18, 2014

The Pearl Kong Chen menu, part 1

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My annual birthday dinner with my group of wine friends is long overdue, and an earlier gathering had to be rescheduled due to a business trip.  But this delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it opened up the chance to try out a very special promotion.

At an earlier dinner organized by Susan the Great, I found out that One Harbour Road (港灣壹號) at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong was going to celebrate their 25th anniversary and present special menus based on recipes of Pearl Kong Chen (江獻珠), the famous cookbook author.  She is also the granddaughter of Jiang Kongyin (江孔殷), the scholar known as 江太史 and a famous gourmand. I found that the restaurant has put together a number of dishes, spread across two different set menus, so I quickly made two bookings so I could try out all the dishes.  Tonight would be the first pass.

We were really hungry while waiting for our last arrival, and as they don't exactly have bread baskets at Chinese restaurants, I ordered a small plate of honey roasted barbecued pork (蜜糖汁叉燒).  This was actually pretty nice - tender with just enough fat - but I guess one would expect that from a place of this caliber.

Once everyone was here, the real feast began:

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