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 is 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.

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