July 14, 2017

The king in the hood on Bastille Day

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The King made another visit to Hong Kong, and the old gang was once again rounded up to catch up with him.  With BM being put on a special diet and unable to join us, the task of picking a restaurant was kinda thrust back on my shoulders.

We asked the King what he preferred, and when the response came back as "casual Western", I casually suggested my go-to place for something like this - The Man in White T-Shirt's Neighborhood.  As a result of having booked this dinner sometime last week, I decided to pass up the opportunity to come here on Wednesday on the rare oppotunity when The Man in White T-Shirt had occasion to cook for Chef Alain Ducasse...  Quel dommage!

Since we decided to take the second seating on this busy Friday night, we needed to meet somewhere else for drinks before dinner.  Out of the few suggestions I threw out, La Cabane Wine Bistro was chosen.  So I knew I would start the evening with some bong water...

2015 Tony Bornard Le Chardo Gai - pretty ripe on palate, with some acidity at the same time. Flinty, slightly pungent from sulfur.

July 10, 2017

Quintessentially Hong Kong part 3: noisy and chaotic

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During dinner last night, the Foodalist asked us where she should go for dim sum while in Hong Kong.  While the usual suspects such as Lung King Heen (龍景軒), Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), Spring Moon (嘉麟樓) and the like were discussed, some of us felt that a trip to Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓) would make for a more interesting story for her - even though the food wouldn't be comparable to the other places.

As it turns out, my old friend Sheets - whose family owns Lin Heung - meets with his family for dim sum on Mondays.  So while still at dinner, I asked him whether it would be alright for me to barge in on his family lunch and bring along a friend.  Sheets didn't mind, as he's invited me for lunch in the past.  So that was good news for the Foodalist.

But a few seconds later, I realized that I wasn't bringing just one guest.  There were 6 people at the table who wanted to come to lunch - including Chef Alain Ducasse!  This was a little tricky... as it would definitely be a huge imposition on the Yiens.  After a little bit of back and forth with Sheets, I finally got clearance to bring the 4 visitors to lunch.  We would be a little cozy but Sheets assured me that they'll manage.

July 9, 2017

Master and protégé Tasting

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A friend was coming to town from France and wanted to meet up for a meal.  We were looking for more unique experiences for her when I suggested that we try booking my favorite private kitchen.  She also suggested the possibility of having Chef Alain Ducasse join us, and this made for a very interesting proposition.  Having been unable to secure the chef of my favorite private kitchen for this evening, the Great One suggested that we take our guests to Tasting Court (天一閣) instead.  At this point we roped in The Man in White T-Shirt to help with the arrangements - which seemed perfectly fitting since he had once worked for the legendary French chef.

So as it turns out, out of our party of 8 only Hello Kitty and myself were strangers to Monsieur Ducasse.  I cracked a joke about the two of us being the nobodies who were just tagging along, but it was pretty much the truth.  And Hello Kitty finally got her chance to go to Tasting Court after their relocation.

It's been some time since my first and only visit to the restaurant, and I was glad to have the opportunity to try a few of my favorites from last time, and get an introduction to new favorites.

Abalone and eburna areolata Sichuan style (蜀香鮑魚拌東風螺) - pretty nice.  The textures of both abalone and babylonia were nice, and there was just enough spice to get the tongue tingling.

July 8, 2017

A brand new Tasting

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A few weeks ago I received a very kind invitation from the PR team at the City of Dreams, inviting me to lunch at The Tasting Room at the Crown Towers.  There has been a change of chefs recently, and Fabrice Vulin - formerly of Caprice in Hong Kong - has now taken residence there.  The PR team was very accommodating and agreed to arrange lunch on a weekend on account of my day job.  This time around, though, it was poor Carmen who had to sit and keep me company throughout our long lunch...

The sommelier wheeled over his Champagne trolley to start us with a flute of bubbly.  Can't complain about that!

Henriot Brut Souverain, en magnum - yeasty and mineral, at first a little sharp on the nose.  Softened up in the glass.

July 5, 2017

Deep-fried Seventh

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Our friend from Seoul is back in town, so The Great One and I arranged for another dinner at a Cantonese restaurant at her request - this time at Seventh Son (家全七福).  One can never go wrong coming here, and there's no pressure to order expensive dishes here - unlike a few other places around town.

Crispy pork belly (脆皮燒腩仔) - our Korean friend's colleague had this at lunch and apparently wanted more - because he only got to eat one piece.  Have to say that this was pretty good - with a good amount of fat underneath the crunchy crackling.

June 26, 2017

Petrus without Petrus

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So it's my turn to host an MNSC dinner, and once again the decision rested on which restaurant with a professional sommelier would accommodate my request to bring a large selection of my own wines.  Amber was out of the question, and while I wanted to host the dinner at Lung King Heen (龍景軒) because I wanted to rely on the service from my sommelier friends there, the kind restaurant manager had made clear that it was impossible to fully accommodate my request.  That means Caprice was out, too, as the Four Seasons Hong Kong has the same corkage policy in its restaurants.

So I next approached both Petrus and Mandarin Grill + Bar, and when both of them agreed to my request I had a dilemma on my hands.  In the end I chose Petrus for this dinner and made sure I visited the Mandarin Grill on an earlier occasion.  After an earlier visit where I got a little taste of Chef Ricardo Chaneton's cuisine, I wanted a chance to see what else he can deliver.

I dropped my wines off before lunch today, leaving the decisions on opening/decanting fully up to the sommelier.  Ricardo showed me the menu he had designed for us, and it looked impossibly long.  We had the Burgundy Room to ourselves, and I knew we were in for a good night.

A couple of us were running late tonight, so we sat around on the coffee table and sipped on a little bubbly while we waited.  Thankfully we only delayed starting dinner by about a half hour.

Tomato, basil and mozzarella in a light meringue - classic caprese flavors, but in a totally different form.  Delicious and light.

June 23, 2017

Birthday in Taipei day 3: Brugge in Taipei

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This weekend was about spending time with family, so I really didn't plan ahead for any high-end dining.  I was therefore surprised to see from Gert de Mangeleer's Instagram posts that he was doing a pop-up at MUME.  I left a comment on his post, saying that I would be in Taipei this week - not expecting them to have any openings for their 3-day event.  But since I kinda know both Gert and Richie Lin, they managed to squeeze in a late seating for me tonight.

I'm a big fan of Gert's cuisine, and I was especially happy that I was able to introduce mom to it tonight.  While Taipei does get its share of guest chefs from overseas, I felt that this would be one chance to let mom see what a world-class chef from a Michelin 3-star could deliver.

Shortly after we were seated, I reaffirmed my belief that MUME isn't a place to take elderly guests.  The place is very lively and noisy - between the music, the conversations from neighboring tables, and the lack of any insulation that could absorb the sound waves.  We were having a tough time talking across the table without raising the decibel level, but c'est la vie...

The menu started with some of Gert's classic dishes from Hertog Jan, and quickly evolves to new forms using local ingredients.  Richie has spent some time showing Gert the bountiful produce of Taiwan, and apparently the menu was only finalized last night.  We weren't given a written menu until the meal was finished, so each course was introduced by the waitstaff.

Cannelloni / Flemish beef / anchovy - I recognized this instantly, as I've had something like this from Gert twice before.  Inside the crispy tube was a combination of cured Flemish beef and anchovies, and the anchovies definitely packed enough salt and almost overpowered the beef.  As usual, the exterior had been sprinkled with dried tomato powder - delivering a nice bit of acidity along with some umami.  I was inclined to assume that this was the same type of tomato powder that Gert usually uses, which comprises of 107 different types of tomatoes.  But maybe that message didn't get passed down from Gert to the people at MUME...

Droning Boy: Yehliu Geopark

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I've been wanting to take my drone to Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) for a few months now, but haven't had much success.  I first tried in early March, when I dragged my ass (and Hello Kitty's, too) out of bed early in the morning for this.  But I had a change of heart after we got into a taxi, as the sky was gray and wouldn't produce good-looking footage.  So I asked the taxi driver to take us to Yongkang Street (永康街) and we ended up having soup dumplings (湯包) for breakfast at Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) instead...

When I came back to Taipei last month, I woke up early one morning to find blue skies.  So I hopped onto a bus and headed to my destination.  Unfortunately, it started to rain while I was halfway there, and all I could do was to stand in front of the park's sign and snap a picture...

I set my alarm to wake myself up, but not as early as I should have.  After putzing around for a little at the Parental Units', I grabbed a taxi to get myself to the bus stop at Taipei Main Station, and once again hopped on to the bus headed for Yehliu.  Thankfully, the skies remained blue today.

I chose not to enter the park today, and just launched my DJI Mavic Pro from the waterfront right outside the park's exit.  The sun was beating down on us, and I figured most of the female tourists - from Mainland China and Korea - were carrying umbrellas.  This made for some interesting footage...

June 22, 2017

Birthday in Taipei day 2: cutting the (cheese)cake

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Rolf Meng and I go back quite a few years.  For a number of years starting in the year 2000, our family celebrated our birthdays and anniversaries at Paris 1930 (巴黎廳) in The Landis Taipei (亞都麗緻) whenever we could.  Along the way, Rolf came to be the sommelier and manager of the restaurant and took very good care of us.  He worked well with the chefs to come up with menus that matched the wines I brought.

I was shocked, therefore, when I found out a few years ago that he left The Landis Taipei.  He clearly loved his job, and it must have taken a lot for him to quit.  I did send him a text message at the time, but lost track of him subsequently.  So I was really happy when I found him again by accident, tagged in some photos on Facebook.  He - like me - had put on some weight since we last saw each other, but it was unmistakably him.

After reaching out to him and confirming that he was now the chef and proprietor of Brasserie Bonne Récolte (豐舍), there was no question that this was the place I wanted to go for my birthday dinner.  The Parental Units were surprised - and happy - that I had managed to track Rolf down.

Birthday in Taipei day 2: No egg no life

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In spite of her moniker, Hello Kitty's favorite Sanrio character is, in fact, NOT Hello Kitty (ハロー・キティ) but Gudetama (ぐでたま).  I have, for better or for worse, been infected with her affinity to the lazy egg with an orange ass.  When I found out there was a Gudetama Chef (蛋黃哥五星主廚餐廳) in Taipei, we put it on our list of places to visit.  We couldn't get ourselves a table back in March, but thankfully the restaurant was no longer crazily busy these days, and I managed to book myself a table online a couple of days ago.

We arrived a few minutes after our appointed time of 11:20 a.m. to find the restaurant about half full. Being a theme restaurant, it's no surprise that Gudetama is EVERYWHERE.  It's a case of 小巫見大巫 comparing Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine (Hello Kitty中菜軒) to this place...

June 21, 2017

Birthday in Taipei day 1: gathering the clan, again

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I'm back in Taipei for a few days to spend my birthday with the Parental Units.  As luck would have it, I've got uncles and cousins in town from the States again.  So once again a gathering of the clan was arranged.  Once again we booked a table of 16.  This time, though, we went back to Shanghai Kitchen (上海鄉村) for some reliable Shanghainese food.

Diplomatic Uncle wasn't be happy with the set menus proposed by the restaurant - and I probably wouldn't have, either - so he went through the restaurant's menu to order à la carte.

Smoked fish (無錫脆鱔) - LOL... "smoked fish"?!  Well, these deep-fried freshwater eel were crunchy as expected, with piercing acidity in the midst of sweetness.  Delicious.

June 17, 2017

Hitting the beetroot jackpot

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A while ago, Hello Kitty asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday dinner.  She was clearly hoping that I wouldn't insist on having her treat me to dinner at Spaghetti House (as I did last year) or Pizza Hut, since both suggestions she offered were fine dining establishments.

One of them happened to be Caprice at the Four Seasons Hong Kong - an establishment both of us have banned ever since a particularly disastrous dinner.  But a lot has changed this year: Chef Guillaume Galliot - formerly of the Tasting Room at the Crown Towers in Macau - is now running the kitchen.  I'm a big fan of Guillaume's, and have been looking forward to trying his dishes after he settled in.  Long-time sommelier Sebastien Allano has moved on to Épure, and Four Seasons George V has transferred in one of theirs.  Given my personal relationship with Guillaume, I decided that I would use this "birthday dinner" to end our self-imposed exile from a restaurant that was once my favorite in Hong Kong.

Hello Kitty booked us a table under her name, although a few days ago I decided to tell Guillaume about our visit tonight.  He had offered to host me for a preview of his new dishes a few weeks ago, but I didn't think the kitchen would be fully ready only a couple of weeks after his arrival.  It's now been more than 6 weeks since he officially started, and I was hoping that the kitchen brigade would have gotten used to him by now.

We were seated at a table by the window, with great views of the harbor - as Hello Kitty requested.  Unfortunately this came with the downside of having very poor lighting, which made photography a challenge.  Oh well.

We were offered some Champagne to start, compliments of the chef.

Vouette et Sorbée Cuvée Blanc d'Argile, en magnum - a blanc de blancs extra brut.  Good acidity here, but also some sweetness.  Surprisingly showing some tropical fruits on the nose.

Guillaume came over to greet us, and of course we offered him carte blanche to send us whatever he felt we should have tonight.  Not being a seasoned front-of-house staff, naturally he assumed we would eat everything and neglected to ask us about our dietary restrictions.  After he walked back to the kitchen, Hello Kitty and I wondered whether we would get any beetroot tonight... but I decided that since Guillaume didn't ask us, we wouldn't volunteer any information... and just go with the flow.

June 15, 2017

Occupy Amber: No roo on the menu

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A couple of months ago during the whole World's 50 Best Restaurants shindig down in Kangaroo Land, the Aussie PR machine went into overdrive and arranged a bunch of outings for some of the attendees.  One of those outings was to Brae, the restaurant run by Chef Dan Hunter out in Birregurra - described by Google Maps as "high-end locavore menu in chic surrounds".  While the restaurant is sometimes associated with the city of Melbourne, the reality is that it's kinda in the middle of nowhere...

I had seen series of pictures and videos taken by The Great One and  Chef Richard Ekkebus from their trip, so I wasn't too surprised when I got the announcement that Dan Hunter would be doing a series of four-hands meals with Richard at Amber.  As is my practice, I put my hand up for a table at #AmberHKxBrae within minutes of seeing the announcement, then proceeded to syndicate out the extra seats at my table.  I gotta say, though... it was noticeably more difficult this time around compared to previous 4-hands or pop-ups.

Two out of the six of us were actually flying back from New York City today, and one actually touched down just as dinner was supposed to start - so we were especially grateful that the restaurant had offered us one of their two private rooms for our little party.  We were able to relax in the privacy of the space while waiting for everyone to arrive - and browsing the restaurant's wine list trying our damnedest to dig for bargains.  We would eventually start our dinner just about an hour late...

We started with two "snackings" from Brae:

Sea urchin and bitter bread pudding - the macaron was pretty dense and chewy in terms of texture, and the cookies were sweet as expected.  The sea urchin tongues were certainly creamy and sweet, and kinda oozed out from the pressure being applied by taking a bite.  Didn't taste any of the bitter bread pudding that was supposed to be in the 'ganache'...

June 10, 2017

Stuffed like a pig

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A friend is in town from Seoul, and we arranged to meet up with her for dinner tonight.  Naturally, Cantonese food was in order, and rather than going back to one of our usual suspects, I suggested that we have dinner at Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine (御寶軒).  I've been trying to find an opportunity to check the place out ever since I saw pictures of a particular dish which left me salivating, so we made a reservation and pre-ordered the dish - over the objections of restaurant staff.

When I was chatting with Da Jam this afternoon, he had mentioned his not-so-happy experience while dining here - starting with the restaurant not finding his reservation and having to wait for a table, to the excruciatingly slow service which saw a dinner with 4 dishes stretching over 2 hours.  I was obviously hoping that nothing of the sort would happen to us.

Given that there were only four of us after a couple of others dropped out, and the fact that we were saving stomach space for the main event, we took it pretty easy when it came to ordering...  One mistake we made, though, was that we didn't order any dishes which would considered a starter.  This meant that we didn't get anything to eat for quite a while... and some of us were starving.

Pan-fried omelette with silver fish (白飯魚煎蛋) - a pretty simple dish.  I've always loved whitebait, and putting them in an omelette is a pretty common way of consuming these little fishies.

The next dish took a long time to arrive, because it needed at least half an hour to cook.  For some reason, though, the restaurant decided not to send us either of the two other dishes we ordered until after we've had the main event... which meant that after a few nibbles of the omelette, we would have to wait a long time to get another bite...

Droning Boy: Shek O

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It's been waaaaay too long since the last time I went to fly my drone, thanks to a combination of poor weather, hangovers, and just plain laziness.  So I was really looking forward to getting in some flying time this weekend when it looked like both days were gonna be bright and sunny.  And sure enough, the sky looked very, very blue when I got up this morning.

This time around I got off the bus at the right stop at To Tei Wan (土地灣), and had a fairly easy hike up to the top.  I knew exactly where I wanted to shoot, so I didn't really waste any time hiking along the top of the Dragon's Back.  I pretty much just stayed in one spot overlooking Shek O (石澳).

Full-length video in 4K is here.

June 7, 2017

Wines in the hood

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Rice wanted to get together and open a few bottles, and chose to book a table for the three of us at Neighborhood.  I guess he's also become quite a fan of The Man in White T-Shirt over the years, and it's nice to come and enjoy the solid, unpretentious food in a convivial setting.  I did tell the boss ahead of time that we were coming, and let him decide what to send our way.

30 mo. culatello "Massimo Spigaroli" - WOW!  I've had culatello here before, but this was seriously FUCKING GOOD!

So... not only was this aged longer at 30 months, but it also came from black pigs. The flavors were so deep they also tasted like the pork's been fermented, kinda like Chinese fermented tofu (豆腐乳).  I'd be happy just munching on a couple of plates of this over a bottle.

June 2, 2017

Early birthday dinner

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Chef RC's birthday is coming up, and Ro Ro suggested that we get together for a joint birthday celebration for both Chef RC and myself.  As Chef RC has yet to have the chance to check out Frantzén's Kitchen, we figured we'd book ourselves a table for the occasion.  Starting dinner at 9:30 on a Friday night may sound kinda late, but it actually worked out well for our schedules.

I had been watching my waistline expand in the last few weeks, so I was determined to limit my intake tonight.  Adding in the fact that this was my third visit in as many months - probably the highest number of visits I have ever paid to any new restaurant - I have already tried out most of the dishes on my previous visits.  Thankfully there were a couple of special dishes tonight, so I could keep my repeats to a minimum.

With three couples tonight, the ordering went a little differently from my last two visits.  Each couple ordered their own dishes to share, and I started with two snacks.

As it was already so late and we were hungry, I couldn't wait to dig into the knäckebröd and beurre noisette.  I didn't go too crazy tonight, though...

Råraka - starting with a new snack.  The crispy strands of potato were topped with sour cream, vendace roe, matcha powder, beetroot powder, fresh dill and chives.  Naturally, anytime you deep-fry potatoes until they're crispy will make for something tasty... and the sour cream delivered some nice flavors which worked well with the delicious vendace roe.  There was a hint of matcha but thankfully almost no trace of beetroot.  Pretty tasty mouthful, although I wish the size was slightly bigger.  As it was, this one bite left me slightly unsatiated.

May 31, 2017

The giant eel and the giant peach

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It's the Zhongmeister's birthday, and he organized a get together for a few of us.  I had only been to The Chin's (中華匯館) once right when it first opened, and I thought the food was pretty damn good. This was a good opportunity for me to go back for another sampling.

One of us was running late, and there was a tableful of hungry people, so we ended up ordering an extra plate as "starter"... since there's no such thing as a bread basket at Chinese restaurants to tide people over...

Barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork (鹿兒島茶美豚叉燒) - damn good just like I remembered.  Very, very tender with marbling.  Tasty, too!  Shame we all only got one little slice each...

May 29, 2017

Return of the classics

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娜姊 and I have been talking about meeting up to drink a few bottles together, and finally managed to pin down a date when we're all available.  She invited a sommelier friend along, and the five us would no doubt consume at least five bottles of wine.  So... with some of the top restaurants in town placing limits on the number of bottles we could bring, where do we go?

Fortunately, the Mandarin Grill + Bar still welcomes us with open arms.  They've gotten themselves a new chef, a new menu, and a new restaurant manager... but sommelier Ken remains a familiar face. I haven't dined in the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong since Uwe's last service, so I was curious to see how things have changed since then - and the change was significant.  They've gone back to classic dishes.


Shrimp tartare cornet - pretty delish.

May 27, 2017

Another pair of black dragons

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Ro Ro and Hello Kitty were planning to hang out together this weekend, and were kind enough to invite Chef RC and I to join them.  Hello Kitty has had a craving for the kushiage (串揚げ) at Hidden (秀殿), and as it turned out Chef RC and Ro Ro had never been, so it seemed like the perfect plan.  Chili Shrimp Girl was in town, so it worked out perfectly... the girls took one end of the counter while Chef RC and I carried on our own conversation...

Marinated eggplant (水なす浅漬け) - the eggplant from Kishiwada (岸和田) were marinated for only a little while (浅漬け), and still tasted very fresh while the accompanying myoga (茗荷), minced ginger, and sesame seeds added some nice fragrances.

May 25, 2017

I'm Buckwheat!

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Those who know me are familiar with my general rule when it comes to new restaurants - that I usually stay away from new openings, choosing to wait a minimum of 3 to 6 months before making my first visit.  I can be pretty unforgiving when I get bad food or shit service, and the likelihood of getting either (or both) is pretty high when a restaurant first opens.  So, like the critics of yesteryear -although I don't fancy myself as one - I wait and give new restaurants time to get it together.

I had never gotten around to visiting The Ocean, despite multiple invitations from friends as well as former chef Agustin Balbi.  Its location inside The Pulse in Repulse Bay meant, in all honesty, that it was just too fucking far to go for dinner on a weeknight.  I had contemplated going there with the Tiggers, but somehow never managed to get around to it.  Then Agustin left for greener pastures, and there was no longer any reason to go...

Late last week I got a ping from Maxime Gilbert - who left Amber last year to join Le Comptoir, the group behind The Ocean.  Apparently they have gotten themselves a new chef to look after The Ocean. Olivier Bellin - whose L'Auberge des Glazicks inside his family hotel in Brittany boasts two Michelin stars - is now responsible for the menu.  Chef Bellin was in town for a few days, and Maxime very kindly extended an invitation for me to try out their new menu.  Unfortunately I was flying home to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary, so I turned down the invitation.

Then Mrs. Tigger came back to town for a short visit and wanted to meet up.  I figured The Ocean would actually be a convenient location for her, so we ended up here for dinner tonight.

The restaurant now offers two tasting menus - five or nine courses.  As Mrs. Tigger is looking to go on a diet, and will be seeing a nutritionist tomorrow, she decided to take just five courses.  I, of course, followed suit.  After all, the Growing Boy can't keep growing forever...

Set sail: mise en bouche -
Potato (parfait?) with oyster water - more like soufflé potatoes I've had elsewhere.  The filling did taste strongly of oysters, with those briny flavors.  We were told by the waiter to eat it quickly before it got cold, but the reality was that these were already cold...

These were served on a bed of buckwheat, which we were encouraged to nibble on.  We were told by the waiter that the chef loves using buckwheat as it is key to the cuisine of Brittany.

May 24, 2017

Quickie dim sum at night

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I'm in Causeway Bay at night and in need of a simple meal.  Hello Kitty wants congee for dinner, so I figured we should go and hit Ho Hung Kee (何洪記).  The food is always reliable and the environment is clean and pleasant.  Of course, nowadays that comes with a significant hike in pricing thanks to the expensive rent they're paying...

I forgo my usual order of stir-fried noodles and choose a few dim sum items.  Back when I used to live in Happy Valley, sister restaurant Tasty Congee and Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) was a neighborhood joint I frequented, and one of the things I used to love about that place was the availability of dim sum items all day... and they did a great job, too!  I figured I'd give it a try here tonight.

Barbecue pork bun with saucy filling (流汁叉燒包) - this used to be one of my favorite items at Tasty, but what I had tonight was a little disappointing.  While the bun wasn't exactly soggy, it was much too wet and lacked that fluffy texture reminiscent of cotton balls.  The "saucy" filling was also a little sweeter than I remembered, although they did use relatively decent pork and not just fatty bits.

May 19, 2017

Mom wants it RAW

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With very few exceptions, I have been flying home each year to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary.  Usually this involves the three of us at a fine dining restaurant, where I also pop open a bottle of wine from their anniversary vintage.  We've been doing this for a number of years now, and we've basically been rotating through three restaurants over time.

This year, however, mom had different ideas.  I was honestly surprised when she told me that she wanted to go to RAW.  Now, I do really like the food I've had at RAW, and of course being one of Andre Chiang's restaurant gives it a huge halo - making it one of the toughest places in town to score a table.  So it's natural that mom would be curious about the food.  But I never considered taking mom there simply because they only do tasting menus, and that's waaay too much food to stuff into mom's stomach.  As much as she loves to eat, she only ever manages to do maybe 3 dishes at dinner, so it's always been à la carte for her.

But she wasn't gonna change her mind, and she wanted to invite a few friends along.  So... knowing how tough it is to score a table - and with dad being put on the waiting list - I asked for help.  I was ever so grateful that the favor came through, and we got ourselves one of the chef's tables for tonight.

We had a pretty interesting crowd tonight... The eight of us ranged from early 20s to late 80s, and I figured the average age was about 65.  A couple of us have very small appetites, so the youngest member was obligated to help put away some of the food.  And there was plenty of food to be had!

Taro, peanut, coriander - we start with a plate of pretty-lookin' finger food.  On top of the crispy spring roll wrapper was a layer of taro mousse with peanut butter, with diced taro bits mixed in.  Sprinkled with powdered peanut butter brittle from Yilan (宜蘭), and garnished with baby coriander.

Inhaled in two bites.  Pretty tasty.  I gotta say that I didn't taste much of the taro, because the peanut flavors from the powder just overpowered everything.  Not that I'm complaining, because I just loooove the combination of sweet and savory flavors... and that richness and fragrance from roasted peanuts.

May 17, 2017

Sine Qua Non toast, part 2

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It's been about 6 months since a few wine lovers met for a rare gathering, and our organizer once again rounded up the troops.  I would come back to Seventh Son (家全七福) for a second time in as many weeks, which isn't something I'm likely to complain about.  So the five of us met up for lunch on a hump day to drink Californian wines known for their high alcoholic content.  Good move...

Steamed prawn dumplings (七福鮮蝦餃) - we ordered two steamers of this, but there was some miscommunication with our waiter, and the second one didn't come until close to the end of the meal when we asked for it again.  Always delicious, with thin wrappers steamed perfectly.

May 14, 2017

Droning on empty in Saikung

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The weather was finally clearing up a little after a few days' of rain, and I was eager to take my drone out for a spin.  I didn't want to do a strenuous hike, but wanted to fly over some clear water, so Hello Kitty and I went off to Hebe Haven in Sai Kung, with Kuma in tow.

But we needed some nourishment first, and I had been meaning to revisit Chez Les Copains for the last couple of years after that awesome lunch way back when the whole gang still hung out together.
Thankfully Bonnie set up a table outside for us, so that we could keep Kuma with us.

May 13, 2017

Stand-ins for Mother's Day

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Mother's Day is coming up tomorrow, and what with Mrs. Tigger not in town and all, Hello Kitty figured Babu would be all alone by herself.  So we decided to take her out for dinner to keep her company.  We've been long-time fans of Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟), but as we were making plans at the last minute, we figured there would be a better chance of getting a table at La Bombance.  So I reached out to the restaurant's assistant manager, and luckily we secured ourselves a table by the window.

Sakizuke (先付):

May 12, 2017

Classic and fatty Peking duck

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It's been a while since I last had the pleasure of Da Jam's company at a dining table, so when he suggested that we go and have some Peking duck at Spring Deer (鹿鳴春) - an old school place popular with tourists and locals alike - I didn't hesitate to say "YES".

Just to set the matter straight... Many of us Chinese people don't eat Peking duck on a regular basis.  Not that there's anything wrong with ordering Peking duck, but... there are tons of other dishes that we prefer to order - especially in a city with such variety of choice when it comes to Chinese food.  As I've discussed when entertaining foodie friends from out of town, I find myself ordering it mostly when I'm in the company of... you guess it... Caucasian visitors.  And my last visit to this restaurant was with visitors in town from the US - although one of them was originally from Hong Kong.

I left it up to Da Jam and Kung Fu Panda to take care of ordering the dishes, especially when Da Jam seemed to know his way around this place.

Saute pig's windpipe with coriander (鹽爆管廷) - it's been a while since I last had the pig's windpipe, and I do like it for its springy texture.  Traditionally it's sliced and scored so that it looks like a centipede or vertebrae - in other words, a little freaky.  Da Jam told me that they usually put a ton of salt in the dish, so he had already requested for the kitchen to dial it down.  Very tasty and fragrant with all that coriander.  Love the (almost) raw garlic, too!

May 9, 2017

I am Food Nazi

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The Great One is entertaining some guests from out of town, and have been taking them around to different places to eat mostly local food.  Tonight it was Seventh Son (家全七福)'s turn.  It's actually been a while since I was last there, and I must admit I haven't been back very frequently in the last 2 years.  I was therefore very much looking forward to this meal.

It's also my first visit after they moved to their new location.  Previously I have usually dined on the floor with all the private rooms, where one gets ushered around the corridors and never gets a peek at guests outside one's own room.  At their new location inside the Wharney Guang Dong Hotel, everything is on the same floor.  When the doors of the elevator opened, who did I see but Brother Seven... sitting at the front desk straight ahead.  He was in the perfect position to get a look at each guest as they arrived - and greet his old customers.

Since this was a dinner organized by the Great One, I was happy to let other people take care of ordering dishes.  I know the dishes I like and would usually order, but it's nice to see what dishes others prefer.  So I took a laissez-faire attitude during the first round... or at least that was the intention.

Hello Kitty requested sweet and sour pork which, had it been at another restaurant, I would have objected.  Then she was salivating at the thought of deep-fried cuttlefish... at which point I turned myself into the Food Nazi and denied her second request.  Dude, we are at one of Hong Kong's finest Cantonese restaurants with two visitors from France, and you wanna do both sweet and sour pork and deep-fried cuttlefish?!  You can get decent cuttlefish at dozens of places around town!  So... NO!

I did consent to ordering deep-fried shrimp toast, but unfortunately for us, the shrimp they had tonight weren't big enough to made into this dish.  Zannen...

Honey glazed barbecued chicken liver (蜜汁燒鳳肝) - these were really, really good.  The livers were tender and got the right amount of bounce, while the exterior was nice and tight.  Oh and honey glaze never hurts.

May 7, 2017

A drunken Sunday afternoon

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It has been quite some time since I last saw a couple of friends, so we have been overdue for a catch up.  As one of them will be moving back to Tokyo soon, there was no longer any time to waste.  When it was suggested that we meet up for lunch at Tenkai (天海), I didn't hesitate to say "yes".

The restaurant isn't usually open for lunch on Sundays, but we had pre-booked their omakase (お任せ) course and were able to enjoy a leisurely lunch - while people trying to walk-in were politely turned away.

As usual, we started with the appetizers (酒肴):

May 6, 2017

Chiuchow classics

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Ro Ro wanted to get together this weekend, and when her top two restaurant picks were both unavailable thanks to the last-minute nature of our gathering, we found ourselves at Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant (尚興潮州飯店).  This is undoubtedly one of the most famous and classic places in town serving Chiuchow cuisine, and it's been quite some time since I last paid them a visit.

Eel wrapped in pouch (荷包鱔) - this was my first time tasting this classic dish.  I normally don't care for the eel at Cantonese restaurants because there's always that strong muddy flavor, and the muddiness was still there tonight, but at least there was plenty of pepper in the soup to counter that.  Wrapped inside the large piece of pickled mustard leaf (咸酸菜) were diced bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms.  Pretty interesting, and I'm glad I finally tried this dish.

May 3, 2017

50 more years

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One of the MNSC boys is reaching a milestone this week - switching the big figure to 5-handle.  It's a big excuse to throw a party, and Dr. Poon is throwing a few of them this week, so it made sense to fold our MNSC gathering into one of those events.  Tonight the boys and their better halves turned up at Amuse Bouche, and we were treated to an evening of celebration with fantastic wines.

As I looked around the restaurant, there were bottles and magnums of great wines on every table - except ours, of course, since we would have to blind taste our wines.  If we go by the logic that the "MNSC table" would get to taste wines which are even more interesting than the rest of the crowd, then we were in for a real treat tonight!

Knowing there was plenty of food tonight, I decided to pass up most of the nibbles carried around the restaurant by the staff during the "reception", but the seafood risotto in pesto sauce was pretty damn tasty.

Maine lobster salad with Iranian tradition premier caviar, red radish, mango, avocado, crustacean dressing - I've always liked what they do with lobsters here, and tonight was no exception.  Loved starting with something so refreshing and whets the appetite... with crunchy, thin slices of red radish topped with passion fruit 'pearls' made with spherification, along with what I think was a (raspberry?) sauce.  Beautiful dish.

May 1, 2017

Not our usual Porn

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Us MNSC boys aren't known for being organized, and when our new convenor is someone who doesn't live in this town... things get a little sloppy.  Which is why we finally took it upon ourselves to set some dates for our gatherings - with the Ox hosting our first dinner of the year at The Porn Pawn.

Marinated scallop with apple, tarragon and young turnip - the diced raw scallops were fairly sweet, and came with the acidity of green apple discs, the sweetness of green pea purée, the fragrance of tarragon, and the crunch of turnip.  A nice dish to kick off the meal with.

April 28, 2017

Rediscovering an old favorite

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The Specialist wanted to get together for dinner and some wine, and after our original plans of finding a suitable venue with Japanese cuisine fell through, we found ourselves back at Upper Modern Bistro on a Friday evening.  It's always good to be back here, and nowadays this short little stretch of road has two very good restaurants.

I've always gone à la carte here, but tonight the three of us figured we'd give their Discovery Pairing Menu a try.  Naturally we didn't take the wine pairing option, since we have each brought along a bottle for the evening.

Provençal green asparagus, orange sabayon, lemon caviar - it's the perfect time to have some seasonal spring asparagus, and this one was very sweet and delicious.  In lieu of the usual classic - and perhaps somewhat boring - hollandaise, we had some orange sabayon with lemon (finger lime perhaps?) caviar, topped with some orange zest.  The sabayon was very fruity and citrusy, with a pleasant sweetness - until one bites into the lemon caviar which delivered a stinging shot of acidity that jolts the tastebuds out of their slumber.  Nicely done.

April 26, 2017

The pearl of LKF

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It's been waaaaay too long since I last caught up with Fat Slim Donkey, so we made plans to have dinner together.  Neither of us have been to Jinjuu, and I thought it was about time that I checked out what the fuss was all about.

I started the evening the way I often do - with a "girlie drink".  The Artist Raspberry Beer seemed like a good choice, as the sweetness would no doubt help temper the burning taste buds after some spicy food.  It turned out to be really tasty - as Slim Donkey said, it's like a raspberry liqueur with a hint of beer.  Very fruity, and at 5.9% alcohol, not as "girlie" as one might think.

Given how small our table was, we decided it would be best to order our food in rounds.

April 21, 2017

One star food, WTF service

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WARNING: this is a long rant piece about why the service pissed me off so much that I won't return to a restaurant with good food.  If you have no interest in my rant, skip ahead to where the pictures start showing up and I actually talk about the food.  For the few of you who already have your bowls of popcorn or bags of peanuts ready... read on!


It's been a while since we caught up with Winnie the Chew, and I was pretty happy we could figure out a date that worked for everyone.  To my great surprise (NOT!) she requested that I take her to Neighborhood... but as I was already scheduled to dine there 3 nights ago, I turned down the request and looked for an alternative.  When Hello Kitty suggested that we try out Tate Dining Room and Bar at their new location, I thought it was a great idea.  Vicky Lau has been getting some love in the press lately about her move to the brand-spanking-new digs, most notably from Hong Kong Tatler.  Both of my meals at the previous location were reasonably enjoyable, and after reading such a flattering piece in Tatler, along with Da Jam's restaurant review, there was no reason not to check out Vicky's new "All the Odes" menu...

It had been raining heavily only hours before dinner, so I carried my umbrella to the restaurant.  I was surprised that there wasn't a place for me to park the umbrella, so I took it to our table and hung it from the side.  No one bothered to take notice, and it wasn't until I nudged it and the umbrella hit the floor with a loud "whack!" that someone came over and checked it for me.  Small matter, but many establishments would have taken care of it upon arrival.

We brought our own wines as usual, and I carried both a Champagne as well as a red Burg.  I asked the Bespectacled Waiter - whom I recognized from my previous visit a year ago - to chill the bubbly.  While I made clear to him that we would also open the red Burg, I told him I needed to think a little when he asked me whether I also wanted the second bottle opened at the same time.  He politely walked off, but left the bottle of red Burg sitting in the middle of the table.  This bottle would remain in the middle of our table for the next hour or so - without anyone coming to ask if they could help put it somewhere out of our way.  Nobody on staff thought it was strange to have an unopened bottle of wine sitting in the middle of the table during dinner - for a whole hour.  I finally asked the Bespectacled Waiter to chill it before having it opened.  Strike one.

Alas, that doesn't surprise me.  I remember the Bespectacled Waiter precisely because of the way I watched him serve wine to another table on my last visit... and was thankful that I didn't BYO that time.  And also because I just found difficulty in terms of communications with him.  Not that we don't speak the same language, but maybe we are just on totally different wavelengths...

For some reason, one of our waiter took away the Champagne glasses from two of us while was still plenty of bubbly left in the bottle.  When it was discovered that we hadn't finished the bottle, new glasses were brought out for those who longer had them.  How did this happen?  Did someone decide on our behalf that we didn't need to finish our bottle, or someone made a decision that two of us shouldn't have any more Champagne?  Strike two.

I know I can be a pain in the ass when it comes to wine service, and I normally don't want my glass topped up with a fresh pour until I have completely finished the wine in my glass.  This is because I want to taste how the wine develops over time, and I don't want to mix the old and new pours.  So I don't mind when I find my wine glass empty.

However, not everyone is like me, and Hello Kitty was feeling fairly thirsty tonight... so she asked a waitress to pour her some wine when her glass became empty.  Well... said waitress kinda just ignored her and walked away to do something else unrelated to our table, and her glass remained empty.  Hello Kitty was none too pleased about having to make a second request to get some wine in her glass.  Strike three.

Hello Kitty is a lefty, so she is used to moving the silverware from her right side - where waitstaff usually sets them down - to her left side.  Normally the smart waitstaff at restaurants would notice this after a couple of times, and begin to set the silverware down on her left.  When you are setting down silverware for the seventh course and you are still putting it down on the wrong side - YOU ARE CLEARLY FAILING AT YOUR JOB.  What made it even worse?  After Hello Kitty moved the silverware from her right to her left, one waitress came and MOVED THEM BACK TO HER RIGHT!  WHAT KIND OF BRAINDEAD PERSON DO YOU HAVE TO BE??  Strike four.

Good waitstaff needs to do more than just set down plates/silverware and recite the names of the dishes.  He or she should also be observant of the customers and - in rare cases where the staff is exceptionally good - anticipate the needs of the customers.  NO ONE was doing that here tonight.  Not even close.

While I am commonly referred to as the Arrogant Prick by my friends and well-known to be very, very picky when it comes to service (I once inadvertently caught a glance of Amber's warning note to their front-of-house staff about me...), Hello Kitty is generally very easy-going.  When you fail so badly that you bring out THE Hello Kitty - kinda like that time when Good Chucky made a rare appearance - then a good skewering is gonna come your way.  Hence this portion of this post.

Oh, one final thing.  I know not everyone is able to deliver the flawless pronunciation of every single term which originated in a foreign language - myself included - but I still think that restaurants need to train their staff to try and do better.  Waiters who tell their diners about the SE-VEESH on the plate will get the same reaction from me as shop assistants who welcome me to their VER-SAYS or CHANNEL store. I'll let a lot of this stuff slide when I'm at my local Spaghetti House paying 1/10th of the price because I don't have any expectations.  When you're charging USD 200 for a seat in your fine dining restaurant - part of which goes to pay for the fancy decor and the custom-designed fancy uniforms for your waitstaff - I expect you to do better.  A LOT better.

Contrary to popular belief, I don't enjoy skewering restaurants.  OK, maybe just a wee little bit, but it's far from my raison d'être.  Skewering is the inevitable result of an experience so poor that it elicits a reaction in response, and when I'm paying my own money to dine out, the last thing I would want is a poor meal - money down the drain and/or wasted calories consumed.

In case it isn't clear: I want Tate Dining Room and Bar - and Vicky Lau in particular - to do well.  Just last week I had written another rant piece about the hate that certain people have for the "Best Female Chef Awards" given out over the last few years, in which I defended the need for such awards.  Vicky is a previous recipient of that award, and I would love nothing more than seeing her succeed and inspire others.  I think we need to see more diversity in the hospitality industry - especially in the kitchen.  But at the same time,  it doesn't mean I'm gonna cut her and her restaurant any slack when they fall short of my expectations.

I've said many times before that poor service is one of the reasons why I don't return to restaurants - regardless of how good the food is.  And as a normally generous tipper, it takes a lot for me to put a big fat zero in the "tip" row on the credit card slip.  Which was what I put down tonight.


Vicky Lau's new "All the Odes" menu comes in eight parts, with an additional ode at the end of the meal.  The menu is presented in a book-shaped box, along with the wine list.  There is no longer a choice between a shorter and a longer menu - so a more economical option has been removed.  There is now only a choice between the "regular" menu and a vegetarian (and slightly cheaper) option.

April 19, 2017

Gin et Jim

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A couple of days before my first visit to Frantzén's Kitchen, I somehow scared myself into thinking that an online reservation I thought I had made was not completed.  This was, of course, helped along by an incompetent staff member at the restaurant.  In a state of panic, I hurriedly made an online booking for tonight, before discovering that I did, in fact, hold a booking for the original date.

Since I enjoyed my dinner at the restaurant so much, I decided to keep the second booking and come back a mere 6 weeks later.  So... a mere 3 nights after our steak dinner, Diva, Hello Kitty, and I reconvened for another meal.  Diva had told us that he didn't enjoy his first trip here, but he was willing to give it another try.

Unlike my first visit, this time we were seated at the counter, up close with the couple of chefs who do the plating with their tweezers - including Jim Löfdahl.  A couple of the staff may or may not have recognized the guy with the DSLR, but in any case we were treated pretty well tonight.

I decided not to BYO tonight so we would just order cocktails.  As I was scanning the wine list, I came upon a very curious entry, and decided to order it up.

Richard Juhlin Blanc de Blancs Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine - Richard Juhlin is a well-known critic who rates Champagne, so when there's a non-alcoholic sparkling wine bearing his name - and a blanc de blancs! - I was naturally curious.  Nose was a little pungent, and in fact smelled more like apple cider from Brittany with the mineral notes.  Not a fan.

Knäckebröd - I absolutely loved these wafers of rye crispbread last time, and I couldn't stop eating them tonight, either...

...because of the incredibly awesome beurre noisette, which was mixed with 50% regular butter plus some 1.7% of salt.  As I did last time, I couldn't stop spreading this on the knäckebröd, and we probably went through 7 to 8 servings of this...

We each ordered our own snacks, then shared all the mains.

April 18, 2017

Mo' Unni in the 'Hood

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Mo' Unni's making some big changes in her life, and we figured we were overdue for a catch up, so a reservation was made for an early dinner at Neighborhood.  I was a little surprised that she had never been to my favorite restaurant in town.  As an aside, days after this reservation was made, another friend asked me to take her to Neighborhood for dinner... a request I turned down as I suggested an alternative.  So... more than 2 years after the place opened, my friends are still waiting for me to take them to my favorite restaurant...

Anyway.  I arrived shortly after 6 p.m. to a completely empty space.  I was the only customer around as I chose my table and sat down.  No sign of the Man in White T-shirt.  After Mo' Unni arrived, I asked her to pick out a handful of dishes.  It's a casual meal and we don't really need anything fancy.

Potato gnocchi / fava beans / duck ham - this was pretty damn good, if slightly heavy as the first dish.  The gnocchi were like fluffy marshmallows, and the fava beans were very, very delish.  Those slices of duck ham?  DAMN!  Those could give jamón ibérico a run for their money.

April 16, 2017

Steak and red wines for Easter

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After our hiking adventures earlier today, we felt we needed to treat ourselves to a nice dinner.  Specifically, a steak dinner.  So... a call was placed to book ourselves a table, and after going back to our respective homes to clean ourselves up, we reconvened at the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse.

Hello Kitty's eyes lit up as soon as she saw the presence of our favorite Spanish beef listed on the menu.  The three of us agreed to share 3 different orders of steak, plus a couple of starters and sides.

Garlic bread - this place is known for their good garlic bread, and they certainly looked pretty damn good... but I was a little disappointed today.  These just didn't have enough kick from the garlic.

Prawn cocktail, cocktail and louis sauce - apparently both Hello Kitty and Diva love prawn cocktails as part of their childhood memories.  I myself don't suffer from the same nostalgia, but at least the prawns are nice and fresh.

Droning Boy: Easter excursion to Lantau

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With the weather forecast predicting very fine weather today, I had planned a trip to Lantau Island with Hello Kitty today so I could get more use out of my drone.  Somewhere along the line Diva decided that he would like to come along, so I planned out the trip and we agreed on a noon departure.

The weather, as it turned out, was fantastic on this Easter Sunday.  I knew there would be a ton of people trying to get out of the city, so the lines for buses at Tung Chung would be ridiculous.  Ferry to Mui Wo would be a better idea, as the number of people waiting for buses would be limited by the number of passengers that could fit on any single ferry.

But first, a little fuel is needed before we embark on our adventure.  Hello Kitty and I got our caffeine fix at Fuel in IFC - which now charges HKD 52 for a latte... because they can.  We then decamped to Le Salon de The Joël Robuchon for some breakfast.  Why did we make two stops, you ask?  Well, there's nothing substantial that we'd wanna eat at Fuel, and the coffee at Oncle Joël's is disgusting.  And we wanted the best of both worlds.

I ordered the brioche French toast with berries, and since we were gonna burn up some extra energy today, figured I'd add the pork sausages on the side, too.  After waiting around 15 minutes or so, my French toast arrived - sans sausages.  I was a little annoyed but willing to forgo the encased meat, but the kitchen sent them out a few minutes later.  I must say... these were probably the most fancy French toasts I've ever had.  Definitely tasty... and I don't wanna know how much butter was used.  The pork sausages had a very strong, if pungent, taste to them.  I can imagine some of the customers complaining about that.

We arrived at the ferry pier 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time and found ourselves at the back of a very, very long queue.  I'd never seen anything like it at the pier, and wondered whether we would be able to make it on the 12 p.m. ferry.  Well, we did miss the ferry that I wanted to be on, but thankfully there was an extra sailing a short while after, and as luck would have it, we made it just in time for the scheduled bus departure I wanted to catch.

After a long and winding journey that took us along South Lantau Road, rounding Shek Pik Reservoir and passing not one but two prisons, we finally arrived at Ngong Ping.  Hello Kitty and Diva parked themselves at a restaurant inside the tourist trap known as Ngong Ping village, while I found myself a quiet corner from which to launch my drone.

Click here for a 4K version of the video.

April 15, 2017

Droning Boy: Lion Rock FAIL

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The weather was looking pretty good today, and Hello Kitty was out enjoying a girls' lunch, so I decided to take my drone for an outing.  Lion Rock (獅子山) has long been considered a symbol of the indomitable spirit of the Hong Kong, and over the last couple of years, banners demanding "real democratic election" would be hung from the top of the mountain from time to time.  I figured that it would make for an interesting shoot.

Public transport to the spot was surprisingly easy, and a few minutes after getting off the bus, I found myself in Lion Rock Park (獅子山公園).  I found a flat and open area away from the crowds, and launched my DJI Mavic Pro up in the air.

Unfortunately, even though the top of the rock isn't above the height limit set by the drone, the trees around me - and perhaps the presence of power lines nearby - caused me to lose connection with the drone.  I got close to the top, but wasn't able to fly above or get right in front of the peak for a better shot.

April 14, 2017

A Stellar Good Friday

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I've been trying to get together with a couple of friends, and after multiple rounds of trying to schedule something that works for everyone, we finally managed to meet up on Good Friday, again.  The six of us gathered at Stellar House (星月居), where the kitchen is helmed by Chan Yat-Sang (陳日生) - formerly the head chef of Shun Tak Fraternal Association (順德聯誼總會).  The chef's reputation precedes him, and I had in fact tried his cuisine once years ago, so I was pretty curious about this relatively new restaurant.

The menu we had tonight was the second version that was proposed - or at least, the second version that I had seen.  The earlier version had braised abalone and was a shorter menu.  Obviously our hostess didn't think the abalone was necessary and asked for substitution, and we ended up getting quite a few more dishes in exchange...

Double-boiled soup with fish maw and conch (花膠響螺湯) - I didn't taste any of the fish maw from the plate of "dregs" because a couple of the others complained about its quality, but the soup was OK.


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