May 18, 2019

My precious

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Little Uncle has been staying in my pad for the last few months while on assignment, and wanted to take me out to lunch as a token of his appreciation.  When my first two picks didn't work out, the relatives suggested we check out Chou Chou - the casual brasserie run by Lam Ming Kin (林明健).

We dispensed with the long tasting menu and went with the 3-course set lunch to keep things simple.  But I was curious about more dishes, so I took the liberty of ordering an extra starter to share with everyone.

Crunchy scallop with quinoa, fregola, and gremolata - YES, I am Pavlov's dog... The word 'fregola' appeared on the menu and I dutifully ordered the dish.  And yes, I did enjoy the fregola with diced carrots and gremolata gel.

May 17, 2019

Golden anniversary

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I'm back in Taipei once again for the Parental Units' wedding anniversary, and I have been making it a point to celebrate with them for the last 10 years... starting with their ruby anniversary.  This year was another big one, as it's their golden anniversary.  Of course it would have to be something special.

Fifty years ago today the Parental Units held their wedding banquet at what was then the 5-year-old and somewhat posh Magnolia Hotel (中泰賓館).  After more than 40 years of operation, the aging hotel was torn down and the Mandarin Oriental Taipei opened its doors in on May 18, 2014 - some 50 years after the Magnolia Hotel first opened.  To mark their 50th wedding anniversary, I chose to take the Parental Units back to the site where it all happened - almost exactly 5 years after the hotel opened.

After a series of dramatic events on the way to dinner, we were finally seated at Bencotto - the Italian restaurant in the hotel complex.  Mom and dad took care of some cleaning up, and it was a while before we even decided on what to order.  While mom ordered à la carte as usual, she surprised me by suggesting to dad that he take the larger of the tasting menus - which has 8 courses and is titled "La percezione, ricostruire la realta".  Of course, this is a celebration dinner so I'm happy to indulge the old fogeys when they want to "live a little".

A trio of amuse bouche came our way, but the guy who brought them simply put them down in front of us and walked away.  No explanation whatsoever.  Did he think we didn't care?  Even if we didn't care, I would have thought he should still do his job of introducing them.

We did, eventually, find someone else to give us the explanations...

Crispy bread with fennel seeds - really hard and crunchy.  Not sure I like this.

Deep-fried cod ball - with arugula coulis and bonito flakes on top.  This was delicious.

Burrata with tomato jelly

May 2, 2019

Why I don't go to brand new restaurants, episode 2

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Mikacina is in town for a few days, and we figured we'd take her out for some Cantonese food.  The Great One had two new places she needed to review, and suggested that we tag along with her.  Apparently one of the hotels wasn't picking up the phone when she tried to call, so we ended up getting at table at Rùn (潤) in the brand new St. Regis Hong Kong.

Since I knew absolutely nothing about the restaurant, I did a quick search on the chef. Apparently Chef Hung Chi-Kwong (洪志光) was last at Man Wah (文華廳) in the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, and Cuisine Cuisine (國金軒) at the Mira before that.  Although neither are among my handful of favorites, both are quality establishments I've enjoyed dining in.  So I was very curious about the offerings.

Hello Kitty and I arrived a little after Mikacina and The Great One.  They had a welcome drink sitting in front of them, but I guess the staff just didn't remember to bring ours.  Or maybe you only get it when you're on time for your reservation.

The four of us tried to flip through the menu, but honestly at first glance it didn't look very inspiring.  As with a first visit to any decent Cantonese restaurant, we wanted to try out their char siu (叉燒).  We were told they had run out.  This was before 8 p.m. on a week night, and that's just not acceptable.  I had flashbacks of this meal from a few years ago...

We started with a couple of amuse bouche:

Green beans with sesame sauce

Deep-fried shrimp cake with spicy sauce - we were told that this was drenched in "Singaporean sauce (星洲汁)", but what the hell is that???

April 26, 2019

Friday the 14th

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A few weeks ago Mrs. Birdiegolf pinged us to let us know that there was a dinner tonight featuring sake from Juyondai (十四代).  Since the dinner was held at the Hong Kong Country Club, I figured the pricing would be reasonable enough for me to stomach.  So we happily agreed to tag along.

We started with a few sakes from the Tatenokawa (楯野川) stable during the cocktail hour.  Unfortunately I didn't get to all of them.

Tatenokawa Three Peaks (楯野川 純米大吟醸 33) - made with Dewasansan (出羽燦々) rice from Shonai (庄内), at a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 33%.  Really prominent notes of banana, honeydew melon, stone fruits.  Drier on the palate than expected, with a little bitterness on the finish.

Tatenokawa Eighteen (楯野川 純米大吟醸 18)seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 18%.  Also lots of banana, tropical fruits, and also drier than expected.

Time for the main event, and we sat down for the dinner portion...

Roasted pork belly and chicken liver (燒腩肉 金錢雞) - the roast pork was OK.

"Gold coin chicken (金錢雞)" - lots of fat here, with plenty of Mei Kuei Lu Chiew (玫瑰露酒) in the marinade.

Juyondai Nakadori Muroka Junmaishu (十四代 中取り 無濾過 純米酒), 29BY, from isshobin - made with Miyama Nishiki (美山錦) rice and a seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 55%. Nose of banana.  Sweet on the front palate, especially since it was served very cold.  Finish turned drier.

April 22, 2019

10 days in 3 cities day 10: Ciao! 'niga!

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It's our last day in Bangkok and we wanted to take things easy.  With a late afternoon flight out of the city, we have just enough time to enjoy one last lunch before heading out.  For me the obvious choice was always going to be Supanniga Eating Room (ห้องทานข้าวสุพรรณิการ์), since it's within walking distance from where we were staying.

Since I wasn't alone this time, I was happy that I could try a few more dishes.

Fried Isan sausages (ไส้กรอกอีสานทอด) - fermented with rice.  Pretty tasty.

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