January 30, 2015

Hell week day 5: au revoir, mon amour!

Pin It

Tonight we've come to the end of an era, at least for me and some of my friends.  Our beloved On Lot 10 is closing tomorrow, and this is the very last time we would ever walk through its doors.  A few of us first learned of the impending closure when chef patron David Lai spilled the beans at a lunch last year, and my first reaction was to ask him: "SO WHERE ARE WE GONNA EAT?!"

Some of us have been trying to pack in visits late, and tonight would be my third visit this month.  After all, this may be the last chance to taste some of the dishes we've grown very fond of.

What was interesting tonight was that a friend and I both booked in advance, and we negotiated with the restaurant so that we would share the entire upper level between our two parties.  That way we would be a little more flexible in terms of the number of people we could invite, and worked out pretty well in the end.  In fact, we even engaged in some "horse trading" as we passed a couple of people between our two groups...

As usual we left the menu entirely up to David and the kitchen, although I insisted that my favorite dry-aged beef must be on the menu.  There was never any doubt that we would be completely stuffed by the end of the evening.

Culatello di Zibello - generously shared by Kung Fu Panda at the neighboring table who brought it back from Parma.  I love the cornichons and pickled chili peppers from Spain.

Steamed flower crab - I just had the most amazingly beautiful flower crab paella here 3 days ago, and here it is on the table again.  As usual left the claws up to the others and just took a section of the body.  Very, very yum.  For a moment, some us thought we had been transported to a Chiuchow restaurant...

January 29, 2015

Hell week day 4: dessine-moi un Mouton

Pin It

Much like Tuesday, tonight was supposed to be my one free night in between all my nights of eating out this week.  I was already cringing about eating out 5 nights this week when I got a call from the Specialist: would I be free to attend the pre-auction dinner for the upcoming Château Mouton Rothschild ex-château sale?

Now, my first reaction was pretty similar to the one that Hugh Grant's character had in Four Weddings and a Funeral when Carrie showed up at the church moments before he was to be married - "Bugger!  Bugger!  Bugger!"  Why, oh why did this dinner have to be on the one night that I had hoped to be free, when my body would be allowed to take a break from all the excessive eating (and drinking) I was going to do this week?!  I had already turned down an invitation to another wine gathering.

But one does not turn down an invitation like this one.  It may not be gold dust, but pretty darn close.  It was a privilege to be invited and I was most certainly undeserving, so I gratefully accepted the kind invitation.  I was very much looking forward to a second chance to taste a legendary vintage, only this time the wines would come directly from the château!

I arrived at the appointed time, and spent a little time chatting with everyone from Sotheby's Wine Department.  The drink of the cocktail session?  Why, Champagne Barons de Rothschild Brut, in magnums of course!

We took our assigned seats at the different tables, and I was assigned to Miguel Barceló - named after the artist whose work adorns the 2012 vintage.  I found myself seated next to Aline Baly, who happens to be one of the co-owners of Château Coutet.  I was eagerly waiting for the food catered by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and of course the wines!

January 28, 2015

Hell week day 3: full flavors without the salt

Pin It

I'm back at the private entertainment facility tonight, satisfying another craving for my favorite winter warmer.  After introducing the Tiggers to this place last month, it was time to come back with more members of the extended family.  It was also important that we revisit while it was still snake season...

Barbecued Iberico pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - much, much fattier than what I've had on previous visits.  In fact, dare I say a little too fatty?  Although that hardly sounds like something that could possibly come out of my mouth...  Yes, love those burnt bits on the edges... 肥燶叉 iz da best!

Bamboo piths stuffed with bird's nest (官燕釀竹笙) - this was such a delicate dish.  Neither bird's nest nor bamboo pith have much flavor on their own, so the flavors actually come from the ham broth.  I could definitely taste the ham fat here, which is something very familiar to me since childhood.  Very, very good.  Even the choy sum (菜心) is top-notch.

January 27, 2015

Hell week day 2: almost the end of the line

Pin It

It was supposed to be one of my "off" nights, designed to allow my body to recover in between nights of indulgence.  But when a long-time foodie friend comes to town and discovers that everyone else is busy or out of town (including jetting off to Noma in Tokyo), I felt obligated to keep him company.  After all this was the friend who introduced me to Candlenut in Singapore, which has become one of my favorite places.

As we are counting down the last days of operations at On Lot 10 - quite literally - it seemed only right that I take him there for one last visit.  Thankfully I was also able to round up the Great One, so that it wouldn't just be the two of us having an impossible meal at a restaurant whose best dishes are meant to be shared.  David has very kindly arranged the menu for us, as usual, so all we did was sit back and wait for the food to arrive...

Frog legs meunière - I never have cause for complaint when it comes to David's frog legs, and tonight it was perfect as a snack to nibble on.  Love the slight kick.

Hell week day 2: the starving dragon

Pin It

I've never really cared for Lung King Heen (龍景軒).  While the restaurant has always prided itself in being the first Chinese restaurant to earn the coveted three stars from Michelin, I was never enamored with the place.  My first visit was pretty underwhelming, and the second try yielded a pretty good dim sum tasting.  My final visit - almost 4 years ago - was as part of a dinner where the organizer was perhaps trying to maximize price performance... so it wasn't surprising that I still felt the restaurant was unworthy of its three stars.

Since then I've never had the desire to revisit, because there are plenty of other places in town delivering better food.  The fact that it's perennially booked out by guests staying at the Four Seasons Hotel as well as visiting foodies gourmands - making it necessary to book weeks in advance for what may be a casual lunch or dinner - meant I no longer thought about this place as an option.  Let others who want it badly enough eat there... since I obviously ain't that desperate.

But late last year I went through a period when I wanted to revisit some of the places that's dropped off my radar screen, and this was clearly one of them.  So I called up the restaurant and tried to book something for a gathering... only to be told that there was nothing available for the rest of December.  I promptly hung up the phone.

The itch remained, however... and needed to be scratched.  So in the last days of 2014 I picked up the phone once again, and tried to book two meals here - a lunch and a dinner.  I wanted to see if their dim sum was still as good as I remembered, and I wanted to give them another shot at dinner - but without price constraints this time.  I was told that the first available tables were 4 to 5 weeks out, but this time I didn't hang up on them.  I took those tables and waited patiently.

My dinner which was originally scheduled for last week had to be scrapped, because Tigger had invited me to the opening of Feeding Hong Kong's new digs.  I am a rather passive but nevertheless fervent supporter of the cause, so anything else that was a scheduling conflict was bound to lose.

I finally got the chance to walk into Lung King Heen again today.  I had booked for an early slot but my friends were a little late.  No matter.  The sunshine was coming through the windows and I was enjoying my time flipping through the menu.  A sommelier who recognized me came up to chat, bringing with him a bottle of wine from a winery in Beijing - a discovered treasure.  I was still recovering from last night's antics so I politely declined his offer to taste.  Another day, perhaps.

I ordered five different items of dim sum, and asked them to change the quantity from three to four pieces per dish so that we wouldn't have to fight over anything.  As it turned out, though, one of us was stuck in the office...

The good thing about this restaurant is the service, but maybe it's because the staff has been tipped off by the sommelier.  Anyway, unlike many other Chinese restaurants, here they time the service of the dishes so that you don't get all of them at once.  It's one of my biggest pet peeves, and I'm glad they're maintaining that high standard of service.

Steamed shrimp and crab meat dumplings with lettuce (萵苣鮮蝦蟹肉餃) - once the lids were taken off the steamers, I knew these were goners...  Leaving aside that there is clearly a hole in one of the dumplings, these have definitely been over-steamed.  Sure enough, I had real trouble picking mine up with chopsticks... and one end kept getting stuck to the sides, to the point where I tore it open while trying to wiggle it free.

January 26, 2015

Hell week day 1: Malicious East and Venomous West

Pin It

Today is the start of "hell week", when somehow I've managed - despite my best efforts to space out my feedings - to schedule 6 consecutive days of eating out... 6 dinners out plus a lunch.  I really need to find time to burn off the extra calories!

Of all the meals this week, dinner tonight was arguably the most interesting experience of the bunch.  The MNSC boys gathered for an "impromptu" dinner - meaning that we all chip in and bring a bottle... and Kwan Kee Clay Pot (坤記煲仔小菜) was suggested as the venue.  Yes, that Kwan Kee.  The Hong Kong institution famous for their clay pot rice, where throngs line up when the weather turns cold.  For a wine dinner.  The idea is even more novel than me wanting to bring fine wine to a burger lunch... But hey, a couple of the boys have apparently done this before, so why the hell not?!  Hours before dinner, I even checked with the boys again to make sure that this would be kosher with the restaurant, since they're not exactly used to customers hogging the table for 2 or 3 hours...  I was assured that we'd be fine as long as we ordered enough food.

A couple of the guys arrived early and took up half of the table at the corner furthest from the entrance - which is basically Siberia.  Given that it takes up to an hour to cook the clay pot rice, the boys placed the order as soon as they sat down.  We had brought our own glassware, and a couple of bottles were already open and on the table.  The first clay pot dish had arrived, so I dug in as soon as I sat down.

Clay pot with fatty beef and rice vermicelli in satay sauce (沙爹粉絲肥牛煲) - what's not to like about beef in satay sauce, especially when it's fatty beef?!  And the rice vermicelli makes it even better.

Clay pot with braised tofu (紅燒豆腐煲) - pretty decent, with shiitake mushrooms and shredded pork.

January 24, 2015

The lonely island

Pin It

I'm supposed to take things easy this weekend, seeing that I have a hellish week ahead of me in terms of my feeding schedule.  So when a dinner was rescheduled to tonight, I was determined to take it easy and "having something light".  That was perfectly fine for my friend, as long as char siu was on the menu...

And that's how I came to choose Island Tang (港島廳).  They serve one of my favorite versions of char siu in town, and from what I remembered, they're generally not busy on weekend evenings.  Sure enough, when I showed up at the door tonight, the place was pretty empty.

It's always tough to go for Chinese food when you've got a small party, and with only two of us, that severely limits the number of dishes we could order.  So we decided to take it easy... kind of.

Honey glazed signature barbecued pork (蜜汁叉燒) - I gotta be honest... this is tough to beat.  The pork shoulder was as marbled as ever, yielding easily to the bite.  While the center of the pieces were tender, the strands of muscle fibers on the exterior were a little chewy.  The pork flavors were pretty strong.  Not the best place I've ever had here, but still very satisfying.

January 22, 2015

A bigger and better Feeding Hong Kong

Pin It

Tonight I had the distinct honor of attending the grand opening party of Feeding Hong Kong's brand new facilities.  Tigger had invited a number of his friends to this event, and I certainly wasn't gonna miss it.  So I hopped onto the subway, made my way to Yau Tong, and arrived minutes before the appointed time.

Back around 2010, I remember Tigger telling me about teaming up with the ladies who had put together the precursor of what is to be Feeding Hong Kong.  They wanted to be a food bank in Hong Kong, but they didn't yet have the right setup.  Hell, when they took over a hotel function room and introduced their concept to a select group of prospective donors for the first time, they didn't even have a name!  But as usual, Tigger got involved and became the glue, the lubricant, the connector...  His greatest asset is his ability to connect people and to help make things happen.

January 21, 2015

Why a restaurant deserves losing its Michelin star, part 3

Pin It

The boss is in town for a quick stop, and we met up with an investor for lunch.  The client asked for a "quiet place where we can talk", so I figured that L'aLtro would be perfect.  It's usually half-empty, and I always thought the food they serve during lunch was pretty decent.  Today, however, there were less than a handful of tables occupied when I arrived, so the place was really quiet...

Salmone, arance, yogurt e cetrioli - cubes of cured salmon, which was slightly on the salty side.  But texture and flavor-wise very solid - pun intended.  I especially liked the thin sliver of candied orange peel, where the sweetness and fragrance really accented the dish.  The thin strips of cucumber were covered in olive oil - very cool and refreshing.  The yogurt naturally complemented the cucumber, and the milkiness and acidity helped neutralize the saltiness of the salmon.  Overall a very well-thought out dish.

January 16, 2015

The Season for French wines

Pin It

So... a little more than a week after my very first visit, I'm back at Seasons by Olivier E.  This time I came with not only VIPs, but also a former colleague of Olivier's.  Yes, we would get extra attention tonight, again.  Given that three of us are in the wine trade, we brought with us a ton of wine, too...

The rest of the party had the good sense to give carte blanche to Olivier, and they were richly rewarded.  Me, on the other hand, once again decided to be a party pooper and ordered à la carte.  I did it for two reasons - I didn't want to have repeats of what I had last week, and I also needed to limit my food intake after the huge dinner last night.  So I ended up ordering only dégustation portions of two courses, plus dessert.

French pink radish, Guérande salt and homemade butter - this time I decided to dip the butter-tipped radishes in salt, and my first one tasted much better than last time - free of the bitterness I experienced last time.  I did detect a little bitterness with my third radish, though...

January 15, 2015

Body-warming food for chilly nights

Pin It

The weather has turned chilly in Hong Kong this week, which makes it the perfect weather to enjoy some snake bisque.  Ever since my first taste of it at the private entertainment facility near my office, I have been determined to come back to this place as often as I could before snake season ends.  So I've rounded up different groups of friends and made not one, not two, but three bookings within the space of a month.  Tonight would be the first...

Besides shuffling various groups of the usual suspects together tonight, I also decided to invite a special guest.  After our very enjoyable date night (well, at least I enjoyed it...), I figured it would be interesting for someone in Uwe Opocensky's position to be introduced to what a few of us feel is Cantonese cuisine done at a very high level.  I felt a little bad about taking him away from his family on a rare night off, but I hoped he would enjoy it...

Deep-fried crab claws (椒鹽肉蟹鉗) - somehow, being the host meant that I got myself the smallest claw... but no matter.

January 8, 2015

The enchanted forest

Pin It

A couple of months after playing the 'plus one' to my A-lister friend, I was invited back to the Mandarin Oriental for another dinner with my friend - this time at the Krug Room.  Since dinner at the Krug Room is meant to accommodate a large group, we were encouraged to invite a few friends along.  So we each invited a friend or two and I roped in My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin.  I was happily looking forward to another feast.

I arrived very early to meet my friend for a drink, and happened to run into Chef Uwe Opocensky downstairs while he was having a quick dinner with his family.  Once again I asked him "not to kill me" (with too much food), as he was fond of doing.  He promised that tonight will be "light", but somehow I never believe him when he tells me that...

We gathered in the bar section of the Mandarin Grill + Bar and sipped on some Krug Grande Cuvée while we waited to assemble the troops.  Once we were ready, we made the usual trek through The Chinnery, but were led on a detour first...

Each of us picked up a candle lantern before we entered a dark room.  I immediately recognized the decor - it was similar to the way Uwe and the team decked out one of the function rooms for the hotel's media Christmas party.  We were in an ENCHANTED FOREST, and this is where we would find our first nibbles.

Slices of beef jerk were hung on tree branches, made from A7 wagyu.  There were two types and mine was made with the addition of black pepper.  Really yummy, and I wish I had the stomach for a few more of these...

There was also beef tartare, together with reindeer moss.  These were spread on different surfaces - some vertically on tree trunks...

January 6, 2015

Birthday Season

Pin It

It's the first week of the year, and that means time to get together with a certain group of friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  Our regular organizer suggested that we check out Seasons by Olivier E., whose chef Olivier Elzer was in the headlines recently (or rather, on the front page...)  I had been biding my time for the right opportunity to visit, having heard very mixed feedback over the last few months, but I guess it was finally time to do it...

Olivier doesn't remember me from a hole in the wall, but we were dining with a VIP, so we were very well taken care of.  While the rest of the group asked Olivier to do as he saw fit, I had to be the troublemaker and pick out my own dishes... and I ordered 3 from the à la carte menu, but chose dégustation portions.

I made the mistake of kinda starving myself during the day, so the minute I saw the bread baskets I grabbed the fattiest thing I could find - the buttery, layered roll with rosemary.  And then I inhaled a second one.  Before the first course even showed up.

French pink radish, Guérande salt and homemade butter - the tips of these radishes are dipped in butter before being placed on ice.  I didn't dip them into the salt but chose to eat them "as is".  Unfortunately for me - and this was possibly an issue with my own palate tonight - I thought the radishes were extremely bitter.  In fact I had to drink water and eat some bread to get rid of the bitter tastes left on my tongue.

Pork cromesqui, "Sotchu" style - pretty nice with that hot and liquid salpicon made with trotter... and herbs.  Of course it's always nice when something's deep-fried, innit?!

January 5, 2015

(Girls are) Back in Town

Pin It

An old friend is back in town for a few days and demanded asked that I have dinner with her.  I tried to think of a non-fine dining, non-Michelin star type of place for a casual meal, and for some reason Town popped into my head.  After my quick review of the restaurant for the South China Morning Post a few months ago, the Great One had eaten there and raved about Bryan Nagao's pasta.  So I figured I'd go back and check it out...

I've been putting on the pounds in the last two weeks, so I'm doing my damnedest to limit my intake this week whenever I can.  I debated between having a chowder and a salad to start, but in the end I decided that some veg couldn't hurt...

Hawaiian hearts of palm, red quinoa, endive, figs, pumpkin, black garlic - creative presentation, but on second look it was a little messy and sloppy.  Lots of different ingredients, but I struggled to see how they were supposed to work together.  There was the sweetness of the figs, the acidity of black garlic, and the lack of bitterness from endives was a little surprising.  It wasn't that the elements clashed with each other, but I guess it wasn't a case of 1+1=3...  Oh and it was also a very, very small portion..

January 4, 2015

Taste-off dinner

Pin It

In the 11 years or so that MNSC has been running our blind-tasting format, we've had a couple of instances with two people tied for last place - necessitating a "taste-off" - but we've never had a tie for first place... until 2014.  As Dr. Poon and Lord Rayas ended the year with exactly the same score, we needed to hold a tasting to determine the ultimate winner.  We took the opportunity to kick off the year with a "spot tasting" where each of us would bring a bottle according to a theme - going back to the original format of our gatherings.

As I've never had the opportunity to have dinner at Duddell's, I suggested that we do our dinner there.  I figured that going there with the boss certainly couldn't hurt!

We kicked off the evening with a pair of young Bordeaux which had garnered perfect scores from wine critics.  It was a tough tasting, as the wines were simply too young to extract much information which could differentiate them - even after being in decanters for more than 2 hours.  We were initially accused of serving the champions-to-be supermarket wines...

2010 Pontet-Canet en demi-bouteille - very young, alcoholic, ripe, jammy, with a little leather.  Very tannic, naturally.

2010 Vieux-Château-Certan en demi-bouteille - nose was more open than the Pontet, with cedar notes and a softer palate.  Tasted even better with the second pour, and was definitely sweeter on palate.

After the taste-off was done and the winner determined, it was finally time to get some food in our bellies!

January 2, 2015

David Lai x2

Pin It

My beloved On Lot 10 is closing, so a bunch of us are trying to go as often as possible in the little time we have left.  The Specialist has complained on more than one occasion that she never had a great meal at On Lot 10, even when she went with me - which was absolutely BS since she chose to only remember one particular meal that didn't work for her.  In any case, she insisted that I organize one last dinner there for her, so we rounded up a few accomplices and settled on the first Friday (and also the first working day) of the year.

While we waited for a few late arrivals, the kitchen was kind enough to send us some iberico ham to nibble on.

With the main courses already set up for us by David, we decided to order a few starters...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map