September 23, 2023

Saturday night (big) bites

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I'm still in self-eat-self (自己食自己) mode, so I'm taking the opportunity to enjoy some "me time" with solo dining. I had seen some friends post about a couple of dishes at Vivant so I asked the Twins about it. Thankfully I found myself seated at the bar tonight.

I had order just one starter and one main, but somehow this potato millefeuille smoked eel rillette just magically appeared in front of me. Chef Jeston was under the mistaken impression that I hadn't been here before and very kindly wanted me to try this. Well... I have had this before and I did like it the first time around. Crispy potato - and having more than 20 thin layers of it included - is a quick and easy way to my heart. Rillettes also ticks a box for me. So there.

Charred squid with tonnato sauce and fried capers - the squid "noodles" had a pretty nice texture, and the tonnato came with good acidity while the texture was ever so slightly grainy, but still a very good dish.

Veal sweetbread and chicken vol-au-vent - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR. I LOOOOOOVE vol-au-vent but it's too bourgeois to be on most fine dining menus. The Madeira sauce was honestly a little heavy on the salt for me, but that's probably because I have an Asian palate and not a French one. The sweetbreads were very nice, the chicken was good, and overall I still loved the dish.

I would have wanted to try a dessert, but given the extra course at the start of the meal, I no longer had stomach space. Happy to have finally come and tasted the dishes I'd had my eye on, and good to get some solo dining in.

September 21, 2023

White girl fish and more

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Haokoufu was back in town and the Man in White T-shirt wanted to bring her to lunch at The Sports Club (五陵會), which required a few helping mouths. Not having been back there in a few years, I was only too eager to sign up for this. It turned out there were a few other chefs at the table, too...

Century eggs and pickled ginger (皮蛋酸薑)

Deep-fried pork spare ribs with shrimp paste (香酥蝦醬骨) - difficult for this not to be tasty with that shrimp paste...

Deep-fried tofu (炸豆腐)

Double-boiled winter melon soup (冬瓜盅) - always happy to have this in warm weather to cool down.

Sweet and sour pork (咕嚕肉) - can't really go wrong with this.

Virgin mud crab (奄仔蟹) - always, always happy to see crabs with tons of roe. And no surprise that the Great One was really excited.

Deep-fried garoupa filets (脆炸吉列斑球) - it's been so long since I last had what is probably the best "white girl fish" in town, but I was pretty restrained today.

For me, it's just gotta be that sweet corn and egg drop sauce. It's just so classic... nay, ICONIC. I've loved this combination for years, although we're certainly not having frozen tilapia here!

Stir-fried kailan with dried flatfish (方魚炒芥蘭) - the little bits of dried flatfish give the dish so much more flavor.

Roasted baby pigeons (紅燒妙齡乳鴿) - always happy to have pigeon.

Baked porkchop rice (焗豬扒飯) - OK la...

Mung bean soup (綠豆沙) - after so many years in Hong Kong, I've now grown accustomed to their way of serving mung bean soup... which isn't complete sweet but rather comes with a savory flavor profile thanks to the use of kelp and rue (臭草).

Since Haokoufu was going be at the table, I promised I would bring a bottle of bongwater...

2020 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant - served nice and cold, so the wine showed some flint on the nose without being overly ripe. A little reductive, with floral and tropical stone fruit notes.

September 19, 2023

Occupy Amber: the alumni dinner

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I just had to do it. I had to be at this dinner tonight. I had debated about coming to this event for weeks, but I had already committed to a dinner last night as well as tonight. So I hesitated, and didn't bother asking for a table. Besides, Foursheets is out of town. Who would I ask to sit at my table?

Then I found out that PR8 would be returning to the Amber for one night only, dressed up in the uniform of front-of-house staff. This would be a great opportunity to snap a picture or two, and see how much he's changed since the time when he was a youngster working at the restaurant in 2005. Almost could not pass up this opportunity, but I didn't feel good about flaking out on my friends.

The final straw came when Maxime announced the closure of Écriture. It would seem that the last chapter has been written on that venture, and I didn't know when I would see him again, so I decided I had to come to this special Amber Alumni Return event tonight. It would feel very special. So I apologized to the Candidate and the others, told them I was bailing on dinner with them, and got myself "not the best table in the house" a few days ago. I am grateful for Belo for indulging my whims and accompanying me tonight.

I didn't see PR8 anywhere in the dining room when I was seated, so I asked around for him. Apparently he was hanging out in the kitchen and had to be notified that someone was asking for him. A lot of good he was doing... We managed to take a picture of him in his new uniform.

Our meal started with a welcome cocktail from an alumnus.

° Moët et Chandon Impérial Brut ° lacto-fermented peach milk custard ° local soy distillate °, by Agung Prabowo of Penicillin, Hong Kong - I could definitely smell the grapefruit oil. Some savory, umami flavors thanks to the clear soy sauce.

September 18, 2023

Big reds for big meat

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It has, once again, been much too long since the MNSC boys gathered for one of our tastings, and I'm glad we finally got around to it tonight. It's Ox's turn and we have found ourselves at the Grill Room of the Hong Kong Country Club. The food has always been decent here, so I'm happy to be back.

Seafood cocktail

Beef bone marrow, sourdough with Bordier butter and chives - roasted bone marrow always makes me drool.

And bone marrow on bread is just always so perfect.

September 14, 2023

Just for me

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Foursheets is away on an extended business trip, so I'm having to fend for myself during this time. While this means that I'm without my usual dining partner, it also gives me a chance to hit some places solo, and enjoy some "me time". Although I'm normally a social animal during meal times, I also feel that the pleasure of solo dining is very much underrated.

In the past I've gone to my favorite Neighborhood and sat alone at the bar, but I've now been told that it's no longer an option. Thankfully I could still get myself a table for their early seating, so I found myself at the corner table next to the entrance to the back room.

I know that the Kitchen Nazi had just come back to town, but I was still a little surprised to see him at the restaurant so early in the evening. Must be prepping for some VIPs... Anyway, I did ask him whether I should place orders for the dishes that I wanted to eat... and he waved off the suggestion and told me that he's got some stuff for me...

Local tiger prawn tartare / peppers - right off the bat, we have the local tiger prawn (花竹蝦) that isn't usually on the menu. Obviously these are fresher than the imported red prawns from various parts of Europe.


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