February 28, 2019

Altiplano in Hong Kong

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It's been a while since we last caught up with Mr. Ho, and we were pretty glad he had some free time while he's in town.  Not wanting a formal meal, I decided to take him to Ichu Peru - Virgilio Martinez's outpost which opened last year.  After all, I was overdue for a visit since we haven't been back since the pre-opening invitation from Virgilio.

But I had my reservations.  I had been checking the restaurant's social media page, and I was getting the impression that the place was turning into a club instead, as there are DJs playing music on Thursday nights on the terrace.  So I pinged Chef Sang Jeon about this, and after a brief discussion I decided that we would start dinner early, so that we could leave before the place starts heaving.

As we were sitting in the main dining room tonight, the lighting was very, very dim.  Not as dim as some places where one would need to turn on the torch from one's phone to read the menu, but make it tough to take decent pictures.  Oh well.

We started the evening with a cocktail.  I chose Vida, which was genever-based with roots, barks, and chlorophyll added.

February 23, 2019

Piggy feast

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We don't usually drag our asses out of bed early on weekends, but we made an exception today.  My friend KC had organized a lunar new year feast to usher in the Year of the Pig, and where better than a place that's famous for their roast pig?  So we crossed the harbor to the meeting point, and a bunch of us boarded two coaches for the journey to the northwestern side of the New Territories.

We disembarked roughly an hour later in Lam Tei (藍地), and followed our intrepid leader to Wing Hing Yee Kee (榮興儀記), which has been around since 1954 and had supplied roast pigs to many restaurants around town until a hostile takeover by Food Idea Holdings Limited (新煮意控股) in 2016.  The factory now supplies their famous roast pigs exclusively to restaurants within the same group - such as the restaurant where we would be having lunch shortly.

What is special about the roast pigs that come out of this place is that only fresh, local pigs are used - they don't use frozen imports - and the pigs are roasted in large, underground wood-fired ovens.  The wood for these ovens come from the wooden pallets used in the shipment of cargo.

February 16, 2019

Second chances

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Some time last year I received messages from the Film Buff.  He had made a visit to Caprice and found the food decent but underwhelming.  After finding out that he took a standard tasting menu - which featured none of what I considered to be Hairy Legs' signature dishes - I explained to him why that would not have been the right call for a sophisticated diner at a hotel restaurant.  I also agreed to arrange a dinner where the Film Buff could get a real sense of what Hairy Legs can do.

So here we were, the four of us, on a Saturday night.  As usual I was happy to let Hairy Legs do his thing, although I requested for a dish of his that I haven't had in a long, long time.  I did have to send in dietary restrictions for Mrs Buff, as she's counting down to the day when she's ready to pop.

Started the evening with a few nibbles:

Croque-monsieur à la truffle noire - well... we can never say "No" to this, can we?

February 15, 2019

Taiwanese and Japanese gathering

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The Compatriot is making a rare appearance back in town, and very kindly invited Hello Kitty and I to a dinner gathering of his friends.  He has grown very fond of Softbank Kitchen over the last few years, and he was making a stop there just before returning to Rosbif Land.

When I asked the chef for a copy of the menu earlier in the day, I was pretty surprised to see my favorite snake soup among the dishes.  It is, after all, the 11th day of the lunar new year... and usually the chef would have stopped putting this on the menu.

Barbecued kurobuta pork (黑毛豬叉燒) - always happy to start with this.  The Japanese kurobuta (黒豚) is always delicious, with nice strips of fat.   Love how flavorful this is.

February 8, 2019

Eating with chefs: no bongwater for Tara

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It's lunar new year, and Gaggan Anand is back in Hong Kong with his family, trying to expose his young daughter to a little more of the Chinese part of her heritage.  As I was only coming back from Taipei last night, we made plans to meet up for dinner tonight.  Not surprisingly lots of Chinese restaurants are still closed on the 4th day of the lunar new year, but luckily Tasting Court (天一閣) is open for business!

They had a special menu for the festive season, which was - of course - priced at a premium.  It featured many dishes which we haven't tasted before, so The Great One and I agreed that we should go for it.

Baked abalone with aromatic ginger (沙薑焗鮑魚) - this was pretty well-received as the texture was nice.  I definitely tasted the strong and almost pungent flavors of ginger and white pepper, and coriander was pretty front-and-center.

February 5, 2019

Mom's festive dishes

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Being back home over lunar new year means I get to enjoy mom's dishes for the festive season.  This year it's just the three of us, so mom took it easy and didn't make a ton of dishes.  But there are always a couple that she will work on, regardless of the amount of effort required.

First up is Perfect Ten (十全十美), which is a dish mom has been making since as far as I can remember back.  Mom only makes it once a year for lunar new year, and I've managed to get her to include it both times she's given cooking lessons to my friends - first in 2012 during a session which became Diary of a Blowing Boy, then during the summer of 2016 when mom only used 8 ingredients instead of 10.


It's a time-consuming process, as the 10 ingredients are cooked and seasoned separately (some with salt and others with soy sauce), one by one in a particular sequence.  The order is:

February 4, 2019

Lunar New Year puddings: 2019 collection

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I'm back home with the Parental Units for a little break over lunar new year, and that means I've brought my fair share of puddings home to mom.

Things are a little different this year, though... With sigs of African swine fever going through many provinces in China, the customs authorities in Taiwan have heightened their checks at the airports.  They've also significantly upped the fines imposed for violating the ban on meat products.  There have been news reports of people being fined TWD 200,000 when found to be carrying the contraband, and technically the fine could be as high as TWD 1 million.  The beagles at the airport have been working overtime, and there are now even big stuffed ones at each luggage carousel to remind people of the penalties.

Which means I wasn't able to bring in the normal Robert Goh radish pudding (蘿蔔糕) because it almost always contains diced up pieces of preserved sausage.  So I focused mostly on the sweet stuff this year.

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