September 11, 2018

Another sad, fallen star

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A friend is in town from the Big Apple and wanted, naturally, to have Cantonese food.  As there were only 3 of us tonight, there were few places where we could have enjoyed a proper meal.  Therefore I defaulted back to one of my old recommendations for out of town visitors - Tim's Kitchen (桃花源).  It's been a few years since my last visit, and somehow I had grown less fond of the place over the years... especially since I started visiting my favorite private dining facility.

I took it easy and didn't pre-order anything.  There were, of course, a few things that weren't available to us tonight.

Braised pomelo skin with shrimp roes (蝦籽炆柚皮) - not something that one can easily get in the States.  Tonight this was noticeably bitter, although the sauce was delicious as ever... and we greedily spooned it over some steamed rice.

September 9, 2018

Best of Macau day 2: going private

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Our last meal in Macau this weekend was, in a way, also my most-anticipated.  I would be introducing our visitors to the world of private kitchens, and return to Sing Gor Private Kitchen (勝哥私房菜) for my second taste of the chef's cuisine.  Most of the table were first-timers, so the group was brimming with excitement.

It's Sunday and we were the only group tonight, so I finally got to sit at the adult table.  The Man in White T-shirt had apparently arranged the menu with the chef, and I looked forward to trying out some dishes I didn't get to have last time.

The daily soup (例湯) was made with pork belly, pig's pancreas (猪横脷), seaweed, pig's small intestines, Chinese foxglove (生熟地黃)...  Love the dark brown color...

Crispy chicken (炸子雞) - this was. very good... and the skin was still paper-thin and deliciously crispy.

Best of Macau day 2: Tam's labyrinth

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Even before the awards for Asia's 50 Best Restaurants in March, we had gotten wind of Chef Tam Kwok Fung (譚國峰)'s impending move from Jade Dragon (譽瓏軒) in the City of Dreams to Wynn Palace.  That seemed like a coup for Wynn and was seen as a sign that they are gearing up further on fine dining - especially at their premium mass market location Wynn Palace.  After all, many of us are of the opinion that Jade Dragon was on its way to bagging the elusive third Michelin star.

Today I finally had a chance to pay Chef Tam a visit in his new digs.  As part of the itinerary arranged for my visiting friends, I asked The Man in White T-shirt to set up lunch today at Wing Lei Palace (永利宮).  We also rounded up a few more people so that we could have a proper Chinese meal.  Of course, Chef Tam decided to pull out all the stops for us - and started by putting us in one of the private rooms with a balcony which opened out to the Performance Lake.

Chef Tam had gone to the market this morning and picked up a few special items for us.  There would certainly be quite a few dishes which were off menu...

Deep-fried taro puff with crab meat and caviar - I love anything made with deep-fried taro mash, and this was no exception.

Rice flour rolls with blue lobster (藍龍蝦腸粉) - also stuffed with kailan (芥蘭) and chives, and topped with salmon roe.

September 8, 2018

Best of Macau day 1: wine and fireworks with dinner

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A few hours after our long lunch, we got up to the top of the Grand Lisboa Hotel for dinner at Robuchon au Dôme.  As there will be some fireworks tonight as part of the Macau International Fireworks Display Contest and Hello Kitty was pretty set on watching it, I asked for a table facing the water.  I was ever so grateful that a suitable table was arranged for us.

We passed up the special crustacean menu in favor of the current seasonal summer menu, which would better match the wines we had picked out earlier in the afternoon.

Crispy waffle scampi seasoning with espelette pepper - always nice to start with this.

Best of Macau day 1: more old rieslings

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Some friends are in town for a few days, and I planned a few meals together with them.  We have long discussed the possibility of visiting Macau together - not just for the food but also to raid a particular wine cellar - so that was exactly what we'd be doing this weekend.

Once again we start with lunch at The Eight (8餐廳) in the Grand Lisboa.  Kenneth had very kindly arranged a private room for us, and stopped by to introduce their new manager for the restaurant responsible for the Chinese side.  I knew we would be well taken care of today.  First, two little bites to start us off:

Braised abalone with water bamboo - I thought the thin layer of vegetable below was celtuce stem (萵筍) and not water bamboo (茭白筍).

Braised pork belly with osmanthus - pretty nice.  Good bouncy texture, and slightly chewy skin.

September 6, 2018

More wonderful sushi

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The Locusts are in town on a brief stopover, and requested that I take them to Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) Hong Kong.  Being the good and loyal friend that I am, I promptly called and made a reservation for lunch today.

Salmon roe (イクラ) - absolutely delicious way to start lunch.  So light and delicate.  So much umami.  Wonderful with a touch of fragrance from the yuzu zest shavings.

September 3, 2018

Peru in Hong Kong

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Tonight a few of us had the pleasure of being given a preview of ICHU - Virgilio Martinez' first outpost in Asia.  Virgilio had flown in for the restaurant's soft-opening, but apparently that will be delayed a bit longer.  Nevertheless, the team is in place and seems ready.

I had actually been monitoring the progress from my office over the last few months, and I knew they weren't gonna be ready by the end of June as initially announced.  Well... they're almost ready... if only they would get some tables in the space.  As of tonight they only had one table that seats 10, and it was installed inside the private dining room.  So that's where the 10 of us got seated.

Virgilio had long ago made it known that ICHU isn't another Central.  It's meant to be much more casual, although more sophisticated than a regular cevicheria.  Chef Sang Jeong has been in Hong Kong since early this year to prep for the opening and develop the menu, and I look forward to seeing the full range of dishes.

We started the evening with - what else? - a pisco sour.

After we were seated, loaves of cornbread arrived along with a chimichurri and goat cheese dip.  These were very tasty, but I restrained myself and took only one slice of cornbread... knowing there was plenty of food coming.

September 2, 2018

From East China Sea with love

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Three hours after I finished a long lunch, I'm back at the dinner table with The Man in White T-shirt and a group of friends.  Earlier this year I had thoroughly enjoyed my first dinner at Xin Rong Ji (新榮記), although that was with special arrangements by the owner and ultimately the whole thing was comped - including 2 bottles of expensive Burgundy.  To get a sense of what the cuisine is really like for ordinary diners, I decided to round up a few of the usual suspects and booked us a table in the main dining room.

Because we did not go through any special arrangements or pre-order anything, a few dishes we had wanted were sold out.  That was slightly disappointing but to be expected...

Almond wafers (杏仁酥片) - this was one of the amuse bouches.  The other was a big bunch of grapes.

Crispy fried silver ribbon fish (黃金脆帶魚) - not as good as what we had last time.  Soft and mushy tonight on the inside.

Honey glazed sweet potatoes (蜜汁紅薯) - as we did not pre-order dishes, we didn't get the beautiful potatoes which I enjoyed so much last time.  These were pretty decent, though.

Eating with chefs: Peruvian Chairman

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I woke up uncharacteristically early for a Sunday morning, checked my phone and found a message from Virgilio Martinez.  Besides confirming the invitation to a preview at his new place tomorrow, he also expressed his wish to have lunch at The Chairman (大班樓).  Today.

That was gonna be a tall order...

I waited till a respectable hour before thickening my skin and calling Danny.  I knew that he would be very happy to have Virgilio at his restaurant, but they were obviously fully booked today.  After checking the available ingredients and the booking situation, we were seated at a late hour.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑) - these are always good to whet our appetites with.  Only the hearts of the young ginger is used to ensure a tender texture that's not too fibrous.  Virgilio remarked that people in Peru are very familiar with ginger as it was brought over by Chinese immigrants long ago.  In fact, the Peruvian word for ginger is kión - as it was adapted from the Cantonese pronunciation.

September 1, 2018

Beef and big cabs

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We were meant to lend out our fur jerk for an afternoon with our friend's kid, but the incessant rain made us shelves those plans for another day.   That didn't stop the adults getting together for some good food and nice wines, and we met up at Beefbar tonight.

I've always enjoyed the beef here, and tonight we simply got ourselves some starters and shared a few cuts of beef.  Plus some desserts.  Simple.

Our amuse bouche was diced cuttlefish with cucumber and tosazu (土佐酢) jelly.  Texture of the cuttlefish was kinda mushy.

Cuttlefish, spicy pepper sauce - the cuttlefish had been sliced into fettucine-like noodles.  Not bad.


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