March 15, 2018

Eating with chefs: that Cronut guy

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It's been almost 8 years since I first met Dominique Ansel in Hong Kong.  At the time he was still in the kitchen of Daniel, and we showed him some classic Cantonese cooking before going off to do a little partying.  After he started his own bakery, I managed to catch up with him a few years ago in New York - after lining up for hours for his famous Cronut.  It was good to see him before he expanded his empire to include Tokyo, London, and L.A.

He's back in town for a couple of days after a long absence, so The Great One and I rounded up a few friends, and took him for more classic Cantonese.  I passed up the opportunity to have the suckling pig with him at Seventh Son (家全七福) yesterday, but that was because I was already taking him to my favorite Cantonese private kitchen tonight.

But disaster struck before dinner even started.  I had recently switched to shooting with a Sony A9 from my old Canon 6D, and the battery life on Sony just sucks.  While I normally have a habit of bringing a spare battery, for some reason it wasn't in my bag today.  So when I turned on my camera to find that the battery was at 7%, I knew I was gonna have to shoot with my iPhone tonight...

Pan-fried medallions with birds' nest (琵琶燕窩餅) - I told Dominique that these were "savory madeleines", which weren't far from the truth.  These were made with egg white, crab meat, birds' nest, and some finely diced ham and spring onions.  The texture was fluffy as usual, but tonight they seemed more wet and greasy than usual.

March 8, 2018

A tale of two livers

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Following an epic wine dinner last year, a few of us decided to get together to catch up.  After rescheduling a few times due to conflicts (it's surprising how tough it is for 4 people to find a date for dinner...) we finally met up tonight at Neighborhood.  I couldn't believe that I hadn't been back here in almost 2 months!

I didn't pre-order anything, and figured I would just pick a few items off the menu.  For the first time since I started coming here - and I've been here a few times - I discovered that I had pretty much tried every single item listed on the menu.  And this was in spite of The Man in White T-shirt frequently rotating the offerings based on seasonal ingredients.  So... for the first time, it would seem that there were no new dishes for me to try.

Thankfully, The Man in White T-shirt did have a couple of extra tricks up his sleeve...

Fried padron peppers / dried flounder salt - I've had padron peppers here plenty of times, but tonight instead of having a cheese dip, these came with bits of dried flounder.  Pretty interesting.  I still didn't get a spicy one, though...

March 4, 2018

Bday in Macau: no more Bordier

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After a reasonable night's sleep for once, we got up and went out for our morning rounds.  Knowing what was to come once we sat down for lunch, we wanted just enough nourishment to keep the hunger pangs at bay.  Margaret's Café e Nata is just a stone's throw away from the Grand Lisboa Macau, and seemed like the perfect place for us.

It had started to rain this morning, and we were pretty lucky to get ourselves seats at one of the tables under the awning.  We were pretty disciplined and decided to take just one pasteis each, washed down with coffee.

March 3, 2018

Bday in Macau: suckling pig maki

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A few hours after we kicked off the weekend with a delicious lunch, and after the ladies had finished their spa session, it was time for dinner.  For this we would pay a visit to Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國峰) at Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) in the City of Dreams.  The restaurant very kindly seated the four of us in one of the private rooms - in fact the same one that I was in on my last two visits.

I had pre-ordered a couple of items with Chef Tam, and picked out a couple of dishes from the menu, and then left the rest up to him.  One is usually not disappointed when such arrangements are made by a top chef.

First to arrive were two amuses bouches:

Corn spherification - with pop rocks on top.

Pan-fried radish cake (香煎蘿蔔糕) - with a sakura shrimp (桜海老) on the side.

Bday in Macau: dim sum menagerie, part 2

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It's My Birdbrain Favorite Cousin's birthday, and I decided to organize a weekend of wine and dine for her.  We would revisit 3 of the best restaurants in Macau and get pampered the whole time.  And to make it easy on ourselves, we decided to stay at the Grand Lisboa Macau for the night - my third stay this year...

Our first stop would be at The 8 (8餐廳) in the Grand Lisboa.  Hello Kitty had suggested that we come here for dim sum so that we could order a particular item for My Favorite Cousin.  I was, of course, only too happy to oblige...

Given that there were only 3 of us today, I figured we wouldn't need to be tucked away in a private room... and I would finally have a chance to sit in the main dining room.  But as usual Nigel was too kind to me, and we ended up in a private room anyway.

I ordered mostly dim sum today as I wanted to try out a few more items, but first we started with the usual two amuse bouche:

Stir-fried minced chicken with pine nuts and capsicum in crispy bird's nest

Abalone with yuzu jelly

Steamed "Shanghainese" dumplings with chicken essence and vintage dried tangerine peel (老陳皮雞汁小籠包) - I've always loved this both for the delicate wrapper and for the smoky flavors coming from the aged tangerine peel.  Slurp.

March 1, 2018

Pizza fight: sausage edition

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So... there are a few more rounds of chefs vs. food media battles in the The Great Pizza Bake Off.  I supported a friend during one of those rounds last year, and this time around I'm here to support another old friend.

Believe it or not, I showed up at Mercato Hong Kong two days in a row for this.  I had dinner here last night, but chose to show my support for Gourmet KC by only ordering the pizza from his team.  It was good enough that I roped in Fergie for another round at lunch today - which was exactly what I did last year...

So the current battle is between Olivier Elzer - formerly of Seasons by Olivier E., L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and Pierre - and the team from Fancook Productions (飯局製作公司).  Coincidentally, both teams used Cantonese preserved sausages on their pizzas, so this should prove interesting!

Yun cheung pizza, by Fancook Productions - with foie gras sausage (鵝膶腸, actually made with goose liver), marinated Japanese Nanko plum (南高梅), preserved pork belly (臘肉), and Mozzarella.  This was so good that I had to come back for another round.  I looooove liver sausage, and I already have a stash of the same goose liver sausage at home.  The flavors are heavy, but nicely balanced by the sweetness and acidity of the marinated plums.  It also helped that there wasn't a whole lot of cheese on the pizza, so the crust stayed crispy and crunchy.

February 26, 2018

Le "steak sandwich"

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I'm in Macau again for the annual conference, and once again I have chosen not to dine with the other conference delegates, instead venturing out on my own.  I hadn't shown much love for restaurants within the City of Dreams over the last few months, so I thought it was high time I did so.  As Shinji by Kanesaka isn't open on Mondays, I decided to walk in to the Tasting Room without a prior reservation.

Before I stepped foot into the restaurant, I had already decided not to do the usual thing of taking the tasting menu.  I had found a couple of dishes from the menu which appealed to me, so I would simply order à la carte.  I really didn't want to get too stuffed tonight.

Even though David wasn't working the room tonight, I was still kinda recognized.  I guess that's what happens when you bring a big camera to dinner...

I started with a trio of amuses bouches:

Tourteau crab claw tempura

February 24, 2018

Cantonese dinner with French ending

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A couple of friends were in town for the weekend.  We last saw them during our temple stay at Baekyangsa Temple (白羊寺) in Korea, and we figured we would catch up for dinner tonight.  No prizes for guessing that we went to Seventh Son (家全七福)...

Chef DaRC pre-ordered a number of dishes, and I ended up adding one of my own.  In the end, I think we had a little too much food...

Deep-fried chicken kidney mixed with egg custard (雞子戈渣) - can't come here with visitors without introducing them to this dish...  Very fluffy and creamy.

Deep fried frog legs with garlic and chili (椒鹽田雞腿) - it's been a long time since I last had the frog legs here, and I have almost forgotten how good these are.

February 22, 2018

No gold foil for me

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A few months after my less-than-complimentary comments on an invitational meal at HAKU, I am surprised to find myself once again seated at its L-shaped counter.  I was once again invited to a media tasting in advance of a collaboration, and this time the partner was Chele Gonzalez from Gallery VASK in Manila.

Given my last experience and the repercussions which ensued, I did ask both the PR and Agustin Balbi whether they really wanted me there today.  When the answer came back in the affirmative - and with Agustin's promise to give me even more gold foil - I accepted their kind invitation and crossed the harbor for lunch.

Once again we were served Duval-Leroy Fleur du Champagne Premier Cru to start our meal.  This being lunch on a weekday, I allowed myself just one glass.

Before the start of the meal, we were each asked about our dietary restrictions.  I decided not to say anything, because I figured that with The Great One sitting next to me, she could always take up any bluefin tuna or fish cum they might serve me...

Amuse bouche by HAKU:

Sausage / Polmard beef / dashi mayo - YAY!  Meat-on-a-stick!  And French beef, at that...  With a dab of dashi (出汁) mayo and some katsuobushi (鰹節) shavings on top.

Beetroot cone / ikura / dashi cream - YASS!  BEETROOT!  The Great One was worried that I wouldn't eat the beetroot, but honestly there was so little of it that it didn't really matter.  And the salmon roe would have overpowered the thin beetroot shell anyway.

February 21, 2018

Aussie night

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After our last successful outing a few months ago, it was time to get together with my friends over some Aussie wines.  While the main goal of our last dinner was to introduce Hello Kitty to my friends, this time we would be introducing The Kat to them.

My friends chose Gough 40 as the venue, as it had been one of their favorite places.  I myself have never been impressed with the food there, but it does fit the description of a place serving 'innocuous' food. 

After resolving an initial issue with our reservation (or seemingly lack of one), I finally sat down by the door on this chilly night inside the empty restaurant.  There would turn out to be no other customers tonight.

I struggled a little with the menu, as very few items jumped out at me.  Eventually I managed to pick something.

Thanks to my small lunch, I was actually pretty hungry by now.  The garlic bread was a sight for sore eyes, and I wish I had more than 2 pieces...

9 up for lunch

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It's the first day of the year of the dog where all of us are in the office, so naturally we decided to have ourselves a team lunch.  The boys weren't gonna go for another round at the local Tsui Wah (翠華), so they concocted a plan to get some sushi at company expense.  This time around, Sushi Ima (今鮨) won because of its close proximity to the office...

But things did not get off to a good start.  Upon arrival at the restaurant, I informed the chubby manager of the surname of our booking and that we were four.  He immediately asked for the phone number associated with the booking.   I couldn't remember the number off hand, and was about to point to the reservation recorded on their books - but the guy started to block me from looking at the book...

SERIOUSLY?!  WTF? Half the seats in this small sushi restaurants have already been taken, so how many reservations for 4 people under Mr. X could there be?!  Do I look like some random asshole who just walked in to take someone else's reservation?  Sheesh...

I reached out to my friend who is a regular here, and yup, she doesn't think much of him, either...

I'm doing quite a few big meals this week, so I decided to just take the 9-piece omakase sushi set.

I was a little surprised that the first otsumami (おつまみ) that came was pickled mustard stem (榨菜).

Then came our chawanmushi (茶碗蒸し), with crab, chicken, and shiitake mushrooms.

February 19, 2018

Lunar new year French

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It's been a few months since we last caught up with Mr Cane and his wife, and since we were staying in town for the lunar new year holidays (no, it's not "Chinese new year" in my book), we figured this would be a great time to have a nice and relaxing lunch.  Caprice was suggested, and I was more than happy to return.

I contacted Hairy Legs right after I booked the table and sent him the list of Mr Cane's dietary restrictions.  It's not easy for Mr Cane to find a restaurant that can faultlessly take care of every single one of the ingredients off-limits to him, so it always help to have a friendly chef in your corner.

The sommelier started us off with a bottle of Champagne, compliments of management and Hairy Legs.   I am, of course, grateful for the very kind gesture.

Drappier Quattuor - an interesting Champagne made with four different white grape varietals, or blanc de quatre blancs, with an assemblage of 25% each of arbane, petit meslier, blanc vrai, and chardonnay.  Nice and yeasty, a little caramelized, lovely with marmalade notes.  Good acidity balance.

I was pretty hungry by now, so I really looked forward to the bread selection.  The challah with chilies was pretty interesting.

February 17, 2018

Lunar New Year puddings: 2018 hodgepodge

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Having been banished from Taipei this lunar new year season, I actually haven't gotten around to buying a single traditional pudding for the holidays.  Thankfully I still ended up with a few different puddings in the fridge, so the first few days of the year of the dog was spent nibbling on these fatty (and sometimes sticky) blocks...

Hello Kitty decided to buy a trio of puddings from our friend KC.  These are from a "6-hands" collaboration between Fancook Productions (明廚料理教室), Tak Lung (得龍大飯店), and Hafie (哈妃).  So on new year's day, this is what we had for breakfast...

Radish pudding with Japanese daikon and preserved meats (日本大根臘味蘿蔔糕), from Fancook - this isn't my first time having the radish pudding from Fancook, but somehow this wasn't as enjoyable as what I remembered from last year.  The pudding seemed a little more solid in terms of texture.

February 14, 2018

Valentine's preview

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I received an invitation to join a "media lunch" scheduled for today, St. Valentine's Day.  Chef Umberto Bombana opened a so-called "private kitchen" last year, and Octavium was so private that they didn't even publish their phone number - all booking had to be made by email, if one was resourceful enough to dig for it.  I went for a little nibble a few months ago, and while the food was solid, I nevertheless came away feeling a little underwhelmed.

The restaurant is due to launch their lunch service starting on March 1st, so they wanted a little coverage ahead of this roll-out.  I could certainly do a lot worse than getting fed by Chef Umberto and his Executive Chef Silvio Armanni, so I happily accepted the kind invitation.

Pane carasau and grissini

Hokkaido cuttlefish, bean, potato and celeriac broth - the slices of cuttlefish were very, very tender, and the warm and delicate broth delivered a comforting sensation immediately.  The bed of white beans, diced potatoes, and celery added some substance while keeping the flavors on the light side.

February 7, 2018

Big bowls, big pots, big bottles

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A little over one week after my last visit, I was back at my favorite private dining space tonight.  The Hungry Tourist was back in town, and we arranged for a group of local and visiting foodies for another feast.  A couple of us, though, had already had many of the same dishes here last week...

Barbecued kurobuta pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - the still very good. 

The kurobuta (黒豚) from Kagoshima (鹿児島) had enough delicious fat that had been caramelized and charred.

February 5, 2018

Master of elegance

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I received a very happy invitation on New Year's Day to join a group of foodie friends for dinner at Cuisine Cuisine (國金軒) in IFC.  It has been a long time since I last stepped foot inside, and this time around we would have the honor of having our dishes cooked by master Chef Lee Yuk-lam (李煜霖). Chef Lee isn't in the restaurant much these days, so it's quite a treat to have him personally look after us.  This is a meal I have been looking forward to for the last month, and it became more special after I had the pleasure of dining with Chef Lee last week.

Not counting Chef DaRC or The Great One, we had 4 current chefs in the house with us tonight - including Dashijie (大師姐) who, as the "number one disciple" of the late Pearl Kong Chen (江獻珠), would certainly appreciate the cooking of "Brother Lam (霖哥)" more than any of us.  After all, Brother Lam had learned his craft under legendary Chef Lee Choi (李才), who was the last chef to have worked in the kitchen of Mrs. Chen's grandfather - the imperial scholar Jiang Kongyin (江孔殷太史).

But all was not well even before we sat down at the table.  A few of us had brought wine to share with the table, ranging from Champagne, whites, reds, to whisky and brandy.  I had asked our waiter to go ahead and pop open the Champagne, while The Man in White T-shirt asked the waiter to open up a bottle of whisky to breathe.  Guess whose request was ignored?

Yup... the idiot went ahead to open the whisky first instead of the Champagne.  Then the guy walked away completely and left the bubbly in the ice bucket... while we stood around with nothing to drink.  I had to go grab the guy again, and asked him - in a sterner tone this time - to open the first bottle of Champagne.  Minutes later we decided to open the second bottle of Champagne ourselves, since he was clearly useless.

Sautéed crystal king prawn (水晶大蝦球) - the menu says "big prawn ball (大蝦球)" but the one on my plate was at least 2 sizes smaller than what my neighbor had... and seemingly more like a 中蝦球...  I realized that the biggest ones all went to the ladies, while a couple of us guys got the smaller ones.  Fair enough, I guess.

January 31, 2018

Chairman in da House

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I got a ping from The Great One a couple of weeks ago, asking if I wanted to join her at a special dinner at The Chairman (大班樓).  Apparently owner Danny Yip has invited a guest chef from "an amazing private kitchen" in Foshan (佛山), and very kindly invited The Great One to go for dinner.  Since I was kinda showing The Dining Austrian around this week, I figured he should come join us for the special event while I ride the coattails of my friend...

House 102 (壹零貳小館) is run by two young chefs who have spent lots of time researching old recipes.  Danny was obviously very impressed by them, and decided to work with them on a collaboration - bringing lots of special ingredients over for the occasion.

Before dinner started, we were given an introduction to the team behind House 102 - Chef Xu Jingye (徐泾业) and Manager Yao Min (姚敏) - who showed us the ingredients they would be serving us and the stories behind them.

First taste clear soup (頭啖清湯) - this was very delicate, but one could clearly taste the fish, and the scent of water chestnuts was easy to spot.  Apparently the soup was created not by boiling over the stove, but "brewed" by soaking the bones and the meat in hot water separately over 3 hours.  A lovely (and stomach-warming) start to our meal.

January 29, 2018

Eating with chefs: dinner with Master Lee

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A few hours after bidding Gaggan Anand farewell, I was once again at the same table with a famous chef.  I had planned to take The Dining Austrian to my favorite Cantonese private kitchen, and rounded up a few friends for the occasion.  Then The Man in White T-shirt sent word that a famous chef would like to join us for dinner here, and it was none other than Chef Lee Yuk-lam (李煜霖) - who learned his craft under legendary chef Chef Lee Choi (李才) decades ago. Given that the chefs know each other from their time at Hang Seng Bank's Penthouse banquet hall (博愛堂), this would be an interesting occasion.

When Chef DaRC got a copy of the menu from the chef, we were a little taken aback by the price tag - which was some 30% above normal.  We were told that some of the ingredients were a little bit pricier this time, which was an acceptable explanation given some of them are literally subject to "seafood price (海鮮價)".  It would only become apparent to us a couple of dishes in that the chef had pulled out all the stops for the respected elder...

Barbecued kurobuta pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - always happy to see this plate at the start of a meal.  Made with kurobuta (黒豚) pork belly from Kagoshima (鹿児島).

This was really, really good.  The fat on top started to melt in the mouth... and a nice amount of charring at the edges.

Eating with chefs: lunch with Tara

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A few of us have been posting pictures and videos of the roast suckling pig at Seventh Son (家全七福) over the last few months, and it's certainly one of the best in town.  When my friend Gaggan Anand saw my last picture of it 2 weeks ago, he let us know what he was coming into town with his family, and that he wanted to go check the place out.  So here we are...

First order of business was, of course, the barbecued whole suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬全體)! Gaggan was clearly looking forward to this, as was his daughter Tara. In fact, the Great One, Hello Kitty, and I were probably more excited about meeting Tara than anything else...

January 28, 2018

Boys' weekend in Macau: the next 3-star?

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It's been almost two years since I last stepped foot inside Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) in the City of Dreams (新濠天地), an establishment beloved by the foodie media crowd.  While I have enjoyed both of my previous dinners there, I have always considered it a solid 2-macaron... and a notch below my favorite Cantonese 3-macaron The 8 (8餐廳).

That view is need of some drastic revision.

I figured we should take it a little easier today, having done two long meals at 3-macaron establishments yesterday.  While there are other places in Macau I enjoy dining at, taking The Dining Austrian to Jade Dragon for some more high-end Cantonese just seemed to make more sense.  And since I was dragging three other boys all the way to Macau, I figured they deserved a little VIP treatment... so I contacted the PR team to help with the arrangements.

Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國峰) had put together a menu for us, and we also decided to add on a couple of items which I felt we couldn't do without.

Sago salsa - a refreshing bite to start with.

Pan-fried taro cake - actually I believe it was radish...

Jade Dragon dumpling (翡翠玉龍餃) - instead of the usual shrimp har gau (蝦餃), the filling was actually homard bleu.  The wrapper was dyed green with the color from Chinese chives (韮菜), and it did look like a piece of jade.  Oh, and this was delicious.

January 27, 2018

Boys' weekend in Macau - scratching an 8-year itch

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Less than 4 hours after we finished lunch - during which most of us took some time to nap and digest - we reconvened on the top floor of the Grand Lisboa Macau for our second meal today at a 3-star restaurant - dinner at Robuchon au Dôme.

In spite of the spectacular views, the restaurant is far less busy in the evening - perhaps due to the higher cost.  Fortunately we stood to benefit from the situation, as manager Carlyne Leffondre - who is sadly leaving Macau - arranged to seat us in the large private room.  Now that's VIP treatment...

Two weeks ago I had discussed with Chef Julien Tongourian about possibly taking the black truffle menu tonight.  After looking over both the black truffle menu as well as the winter menu, we decided that we would prefer the latter for this evening - but with an extra course inserted.

Our amuse bouche was a langoustine and sea urchin waffle.  This was done perfectly - with a crispy exterior along with a creamy center.  This never disappoints.

Boys' weekend in Macau : amazing old German rieslings

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The Dining Austrian is taking a break from hanging out in Japan, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, decided that he actually wanted hang out with me and eat.  Since he has (for now) chased down every restaurant on the planet with 3 Michelin stars, he graciously entrusted me with his itinerary for the next few days.

And the first thing I told him?  We're spending a weekend in Macau.

Which is how I found myself on the 11 a.m. ferry to Macau, sandwiched between Chef DaRC and the Compatriot.  Two otakus playing games on their smartphones.  The Dining Austrian had taken an early morning flight, landed in Hong Kong, and grabbed the ferry from the airport straight to Macau.  After our rendezvous at the ferry terminal in Macau, we made our way to the Grand Lisboa Macau and sat down at lunch at The 8 (8餐廳).

Wagyu beef cubes with pine nuts and peppers in crispy bird's nest - always nice to start with this nibble.

Abalone with yuzu jelly 

Steamed "Shanghainese" dumplings with chicken essence and vintage dried tangerine peel (老陳皮雞汁小籠包) - this is something I've always loved, as they do a really good job with xiaolongbao (小籠包) here.  The vintage dried tangerine peel really adds a lovely, smoky fragrance here.  The flavors were pretty strong with a slight bitter finish.  This actually paired perfectly with our very old German riesling.

January 23, 2018

Occupy Amber: from hell to heaven in one bite

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I'll just come right out and say it.  Tonight was the most disappointing four-hands collaboration dinner I have ever attended.  At a price just shy of HKD 3,300 ahead, inclusive of 10% service charge and a copy of the guest chef's book - and I had the pleasure of paying for 2 - that hurt.

As has become standard practice these days, this particular collaboration was announced via a post on Instagram.  Chef Richard Ekkebus posted the announcement about the #AmberHKxBorago collaboration, and I contacted him pretty much immediately to get myself a table.

I'll fully admit that with a handful of exceptions, I haven't paid too much attention to restaurants and chefs from Latin America, so I didn't know anything about Chef Rodolfo Guzmán from Boragó in Santiago.  But his restaurant currently occupies the No. 5 spot on Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, and Richard clearly thinks highly enough of him to get him to come all the way here...  so I felt pretty good about roping in a few friends for a night out.  After all, we've had pretty good times at similar events here in the past.

Richard came over to press the flesh while many of us were waiting at the Amber Bar before dinner.  The poor guy has just had his third hernia operation a couple of weeks ago, and I can imagine that he's still in quite a lot of pain as his body tries to recover.  Hopefully he can get some rest and recovery quickly.

We were probably one of the last tables to get seated, and we were looking forward to getting some exposure to exotic ingredients foraged from far away lands - much like our first experience with Virgilio Martinez's cuisine when he first came to Amber when we were blown away.

The evening started with two snacks from Boragó:

Roasted kolof with pajarito creammonaka - OK... so my usual juvenile self took one look at this, and the first thing that popped into my head was... bbc!  Especially when you're told that this thing can be up to 3 meters long.  Although, to be fair, this section wasn't that big...

January 20, 2018

Better 5 years late than never

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It's been a long time coming.  About 5 years, in fact.  When Grégoire Michaud left Four Seasons Hong Kong and set up Bread Elements in 2013, I (and countless others) begged him to set up a retail shop so that those of us not in the trade can enjoy his delicious products.  He kept telling us that it will be "soon, soon!" After a couple of years - during which there was apparently an unfortunate false start - he was starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf...

No longer.  Bakehouse opened their doors on December 29, 2017 and I got a very special deliver from Da Jam that same day.  After a couple of weekends where we were a little busy, we finally found time to go check out the place for ourselves today.

We were lucky.  Hello Kitty found a table that had just been vacated while I stood in line to order the goods.  These are probably the best viennoiseries in town.

Of course we had to get ourselves a couple of croissants.  The one Da Jam brought me was beautiful, but it wasn't warm, after all.  These were about as good as it gets.

January 14, 2018

Girls' trip to Macau: sept chariots

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After another sleepless nice in the hotel room, I rolled out of bed to have a very small bite at Round-the-Clock Coffee Shop.  Since lunch was in a little more than an hour, Hello Kitty and I each nibbled on a danish pastry while getting our caffeine hits.  After checking out of our room at the Grand Lisboa Macau, we brought our bags up to Robuchon au Dôme and sat down for a long lunch.

My efforts to stay under the radar, however, proved futile.  The boss found out we were dining here and dropped by to greet us.  I kinda had an inkling of what was in store for us...

One of the main reasons why I love this place so much is the trolleys.  Some time ago I had written about a lunch here during which I enjoyed the offerings from 6 different trolleys.  After another meal here recently, a chef friend reminded me of the existence of yet another trolley - with Champagne.  I had never taken notice of its existence in all these years, because I have always been happy to order wine - including Champagne - off the extensive wine list.  So I made sure to ask for the Champagne trolley today and go through all seven trolleys...

2006 Louis Roederer Brut Nature - nice and crisp acidity after the initial ripe attack, and pretty long on the finish.

January 13, 2018

Girls' trip to Macau: a day without Michelin

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I'm spending the weekend in Macau, accompanying Hello Kitty on a "girls' weekend" that somehow turned into a "couple's weekend" for the two of us.  As I'm trying to get my ass back on a diet - and having already had way too many big meals just a week-and-a-half into the new year, I wanted to take it easy on the eating today.

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After getting off the ferry, we grabbed a taxi to our lunch spot - and got dropped off at the junction of Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro and Rua dos Mercadores - since the taxi driver didn't feel like turning into the side street.  This ended up working out fine for us, because we decided to go into Loja das Conservas to replenish our stock of canned seafood.  We also discovered that there's a new shop boss, and while I was busy spending money, Hello Kitty was busy petting her.

Lunch was at Loja Sopa da Fita Cheong Kei (祥記麵家), a local favorite. It's been a long time since my last visit, so I figured I'd get some of their signature plates in my belly...

Signature tossed noodles with shrimp roe (招牌蝦籽撈麵) - I remembered that they like to add soy sauce to tossed noodles here, but I had completely forgotten that in this shop, the flavors of the soy sauce pretty much overpowered the flavors from the shrimp roe they gave us... which was a real shame.  On the plus side, there's not much alkali flavor in the noodles themselves (and those would have been covered up by the soy sauce, too...) and the texture was reasonably soft and supple.

The portion today looked a little smaller than I had remembered, but that didn't bother me much today.

January 12, 2018

Pigging out with new friends

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Over the course of the last two months, I have been introduced - via email - to a couple of foodies who are either new arrivals in town or just passing through.  I am, apparently, deemed somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to the local food scene... So I took the opportunity to organize a meet-up.  Interesting thing is... I haven't even met the person who introduced these new friends to me!  So it was bound to make for some interesting conversation...

One of my favorite Cantonese restaurants in town is Seventh Son (家全七福), as I have given up on going to Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) these days.  With 6 hungry adults and 2 kids, I figured we could go for one of the restaurant's signature dishes.  And as none of the new friends have ever been to this particular restaurant, it wasn't a total surprise that I was tasked with ordering the food...

Deep-fried chicken kidney mixed with egg custard (雞子戈渣) - no, these aren't made of chicken kidneys... We did tell the others the identity of the exotic ingredient, and nobody batted an eyelid.  After all, it's mostly chicken stock and eggs.  But today the execution was a little off, as a couple of pieces were a little too brown.

January 9, 2018

Big fish for two

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The Hungry Tourist is passing through town, and I promised to meet him for dinner even though I am trying to get back on my diet.  I requested for a "casual and light' dinner, and we figured a couple of simple dishes at my favorite Neighborhood would do the trick.  How naive I was...

The minute I showed up, I was informed that The Man in White T-shirt - despite not being here himself - had left instructions to serve me some threadfin.  So I knew I couldn't order too many dishes on my own...

"Acquerello" risotto / porcini / bone marrow - it's been a LONG time since I last had the bone marrow risotto here, and tonight there was a huge pile of big ass porcini on top.  As usual the risotto was on the wet side, but I'm OK with that.  The richness of the oil from bone marrow was lip-smacking good.

January 8, 2018

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, expired edition 2

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Hello Kitty and I had the distinct pleasure of dining with Dada and The Man in White T-shirt at their home.  I was originally looking forward to dining out somewhere, since eating at home meant that The Man in White T-shirt would be busy cooking for us instead of enjoying himself.  But one does not object when an invitation like this comes along...

Besides, if we weren't dining at their home, how would Hello Kitty and I ever get to meet Bunch and Chewie?!  And of course, who were the first ones to greet me when the door opened?

While the French chef was busy in the kitchen cooking us Cantonese food, I laid out the goodies that I had brought along.  I hadn't planned on bringing anything other than wine, but since I found out yesterday that my aged/expired caviar needed to be consumed 3 months ago, I made a last-minute decision to bring along what was left of my stock... and hoped that my hosts didn't mind.

Russian golden oscietra, packed March 2017 - initially I was worried about the white stuff that was on top, stupidly thinking that perhaps it had gone moldy... But The Man in White T-shirt figured that it was just the congealed oil from long periods of refrigeration, so we went ahead and ate it anyway...

Discount sushi

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I got a ping from Fergie this morning - at an uncharacteristically early hour, I might add - asking me whether I was free for lunch.  I had, in fact, brought my lunchbox to work with me today... and was planning on eating my diet meal.  But seeing as it's been a few weeks since I last saw him, I decided to join him for a meal.

As it turns out, he was the proud owner of some discount dining coupons for the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, which could be used at selected restaurants.  I chose Kaetsu (鹿悦), because I figured that sushi is one of the things that kinda fits my diet plan.  I can't remember exactly when I last stepped foot in the restaurant, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't in this century...

We both took the premium assorted sushi (特選寿司盛り合わせ), with me choosing yurinohana set (百合の花) for the starters I wanted.  Of course, I was keenly aware that I was committing the cardinal sin of eating sushi for lunch on a Monday... knowing that the fish markets in Japan were closed yesterday, and any seafood on my plate either did not come from Japan, or had been around for at least 2 days. 

The seasonal appetizer (季節の小鉢) was spinach (ほうれん草) with dried whitebait (ちりめん).

January 7, 2018

(Champagne wishes and) Caviar dreams, expired edition

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So... Babu is back in town from her year-end excursion, and it seemed like the perfect excuse for me to visit and bring along some caviar.  There are a few tins of farmed Russian caviar that have been sitting in my fridge for months, and I can't seem to find the right people or occasion to dig into them.  Knowing that they are now all past their "use by" date, I decided it was now or never.

Things didn't get off to a good start when I failed to find my usual mini-blinis at the supermarket.  They were sold out and wouldn't restock for another week.  So I decided to buy a little bit of Japanese milk toast instead.  Knowing that Babu prefers to take the eggs "as is", I also got lazy and decided not to buy any crème fraîche - a decision I would regret later.

Another decision I would come to regret was not bringing a bottle of Champagne, as I had done each time in the past.  I figured the Tiggers would have some lying around and we could open one of those... What I didn't count on was that none of their bottles was actually chilled!

The highlight of today would undoubtedly be the beluga, but I had also brought along a tin of what I thought to be golden oscietra. Once the tins were open, it was easy to see that some of the eggs had burst and liquefied...


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