February 15, 2024

A feast for Juve

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It's our last night in Taiwan on this trip as we wind down our lunar new year break, and it just happens that Juve Fan has decided to come to town for a short break. When he initially asked me for recommendations of where to eat in my hometown, the criteria were "local food no bullshit". Well... most of the decent Taiwanese places which have been around don't do any bullshit - food is straightforward and honest. After discussing with Little Rabbit and taking into consideration that our friend would be landing just hours before dinner, we eventually settled on Maoyuan Restaurant (茂園餐廳), an old favorite from my days working in Taipei.

I also extended an invitation to Scubagolfer, whose writing I've been following for more than a decade. This would be the first time for us to actually meet in person. So exciting!

Little Rabbit got us booked into a private room, but I gotta say it's kinda small and claustrophobic... I do understand, though, that it's the first day back in operation after lunar new year for many restaurants, so we just have to live with it. I was happy that I didn't have to do the ordering tonight, although it's pretty much the usual stuff...

Buddha jumps over the wall (佛跳牆) - had to do this since it's still lunar new year. Glad they don't do it with chicken testicles like that other famous place... 

Singapore in Taipei

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Small Uncle is back in Taiwan for another teaching stint, and wanted to get together before I went back to Hong Kong. Once again I was tasked with picking a restaurant on short notice, once again during the lunar new year holidays. Taking into account mom's dietary restrictions, and remembering that she enjoyed our dinner at JL Studio, I decided to take the family out to Chope Chope Eatery and check out the place.

I didn't read the menu descriptions too carefully, but I figured that Jimmy would not be serving all the dishes in their traditional form. For a young and ambitious chef intent on making a mark - and he has certainly done that - he was, naturally, going to introduce a few twists. I, of course, don't mind new takes on classic dishes at all... as long as they are still tasty and faithful to the flavors.

Gado-gado - as the sweet peanut sauce came on the side, I made sure mom got a good selection of the veggies without the sauce. The tempeh was pretty decent, and everyone liked the krupuk udang.

January 30, 2024

Ay Bee No Cee Dee

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It's been almost 5 months since our foursome got together to open a few bottles, and some time ago we had agreed that at our next gathering would feature a few bottles of the famed Clos de Beze in Chambertin. We finally got around for it tonight, and I was pretty glad to have gotten this in the bag before next week.

Wai Gor suggested that we try out Aap Ba Din (鴨巴甸公館) since he gets VIP treatment there. I don't remember ever hearing about the place, but it looks like these guys took over the space formerly occupied by Celebrity Cuisine (名人坊) in the Lan Kwai Fong Hotel. Since our organizer is a regular, I didn't have any objections to the menu proposed by the restaurant.

I arrived a few minutes late, and found these snacks already sitting on the table. The taro chips were pretty good, but for some reason I couldn't stop munching on the baked dough pockets. As Belo would remark later on, this seemed to be my favorite dish of the evening...

January 26, 2024

Veneto to Campania

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Many years ago my friend Felix suggested that I check out Il Ristorante Luca Fantin the next time I'm in Tokyo, having been impressed with the chef's cuisine. Fast forward to 2024 and... I still haven't paid Luca Fantin and his team a visit. The chef himself fully understands the reason: many of us prioritize Japanese cuisine whenever we are in Japan, and restaurants serving other cuisines just get pushed down on the long list.

So when I got an invitation for lunch today for the collaboration between Bvlgari Il Ristorante Luca Fantin and Estro, I didn't hesitate to say "Yes". I wouldn't have to give up a precious slot in Tokyo to get a taste, and I can finally see what the hubbub a few years ago was about.

The menu starts with Il mare d'inverno, which isn't a dish but a song by Loredana Berté. I guess it's an all-seafood menu today, then...

January 25, 2024

Moving sticks

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We've had a very long couple of days, packing and moving and all sorts of fun stuff. Both of us have been up since at least 6 a.m. this morning and running on adrenalin almost non-stop. So when we showed up 15 minutes late at Hidden (秀殿), Ogata-san took a look at us and wondered what the hell happened to the two of us...

We were tired but so happy to be here, especially Foursheets. She had been so excited to score 3 bookings last year in the span of about 6 weeks, and ended up not being able to make a single one. So it's been 6 months since she stepped foot in what is probably her favorite restaurant in Hong Kong.

Thirsty we were, and since I had forgotten to bring along a bottle of sake as planned, I started with a glass of Oolong tea + Kinmiya shochu (ウーロンハイ).


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