July 16, 2024

Stretched like a drum

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We have a visitor in town wanting to visit a few restaurants, and one of the places on the itinerary is Flower Drum (鋒膳). I had heard about this place a lot from friends for a long time - in fact one of the owners is a friend - but have only managed a casual lunch visit a few years ago. Now that I've been asked to join a table, curiosity got the best of me... and I wanted to see what the hubbub was about.

Our VIP friend had arranged the meal, so we were seated in the private room that connects to the terrace where one can enjoy a cigar or two after a meal. A "short menu" was already set for us, but little did we know what we were in for...

These candied cashews were pretty nice with all the sesame.

But they were nowhere as popular as the potato chips that were really crunchy and tasted of fragrant olive oil.

July 12, 2024

Woodcocks in the Valley

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Some weeks ago I found that, much to my surprise, Bong Girl actually drinks wine that are not bongwater. Among the wines she posted was a bottle from Domaine de la Mordorée - a winery I had the pleasure of visiting in Tavel. I feel honored that since my visit back in 2011, Fabrice Delorme has followed my gastronomic and vinous adventures via this blog. On the other hand, I kinda feel bad that I haven't tasted many bottles from them since that visit more than a decade ago. So I decided to schedule a meal with Bong Girl in order for me to add a few more tasting notes to my library.

Locanda is a place I have been meaning to revisit for years. I always thinking about going back but somehow, I end up somewhere else. Well, I finally made it back tonight. I got in touch with Gavin, who I haven't seen in a few years, and got ourselves a table. We agreed to share a few plates to start.

It's always good to start with some carta musica. This was really nicely done, and came with some tomato ricotta.

July 11, 2024

A little more sheltering

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Everyone knows I'm an asshole. I didn't get called the Arrogant Prick for nothing, and I've got a few ongoing feuds with restaurant groups and chefs. Most PRs in the business have the good sense to stay away, so I'm always surprised when I get approached for an invitational meal. I am always nice enough, though, to remind the PRs of my reputation... and ask them to make sure that they really want me at their client's restaurant.

So this was how I came to be at Arbor tonight. I waited about a year before making my first visit here 5 years ago, and returned for an MNSC dinner a few months later. While I had enjoy some of chef Eric Räty's dishes on those 2 visits, I didn't think I really "got" the cuisine. And the restaurant's corkage policy - at least in the old days - kinda put me off from paying them more visits.

I had asked for the shorter, 6-course menu instead of the full 9 courses. As I'm dining out on a few nights this week, it would be best to keep things simple. And the poor PR would, presumably, spend less time suffering in the presence of my company.

We started with the restaurant's signature brioche, with seaweed inside. Served with some mentaiko (明太子) butter just like it was years ago.

July 9, 2024

Teammates in the 'hood

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It's been a looooong time since I last shared a meal with my old team, so I decided to take them to my favorite restaurant. That would be Neighborhood, for anyone who doesn't know me well enough. I cannot claim to be the restaurant's most loyal customer, but I think this being my 76th visit since the restaurant first opened in 2014 surely counts for something!

I was glad to see the restaurant being reasonably busy on a Tuesday night. This is one restaurant which I must support to ensure its continued operation, as I would be lost without it. For tonight, as everyone else is coming for the first time, I pre-ordered one of the signature dishes, then left the rest up to the Kitchen Nazi. As usual, I asked him to not kill us with food. I mentioned that a mutual friend had recently visited and came away relatively unscathed, only to be told by The Man in White T-shirt that in that instance, there had been a dish which suffered catastrophic failure... hence a significant reduction in the amount of food being served. So... we shall see!

We were served plenty of sourdough bread together with our first two dishes, but I was a little late in warning my friends about the perils of enjoying too much bread too early in the meal. But how could I blame them when the bread is so irresistable?

Kuruma prawns - these days a meal here inevitably starts with these babies, seasoned with some piment d'espelette as well as some fennel, as the sweetness and anise flavors really showed.

June 27, 2024

Back to la grande dame

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Mr and Mrs Birdiegolf felt that my birthday would be a good excuse to meet up and pop open a couple of bottles, and somehow I steered the conversation towards The Peninsula Hong Kong. It has been YEARS since I last had a proper meal in the hotel, and while I had been tempted to check out either Felix or Gaddi's after the arrival of the husband-and-wife duo - each of whom was at the helm of the two restaurants - but I just never made the move. Not even when Seb came back to Hong Kong for his new gig at The Pen.

That ends tonight. Knowing that none of us have been to Gaddi's in quite some time, it was high time we paid La Grande Dame a visit. I got in touch with Seb and made the arrangements. This was gonna be fun!

We stepped in to the dining room and were led to one of the tables at the back of the room. Not the usual table for the Birdiegolfs when they were coming regularly, but the room hasn't changed much... other than maybe the Baccarat Harcourt Our Fire candlesticks on our tables. We've still got the band sitting in the room, and the average age of the diners in the room was still above mine. But they did remove the requirement for gentlemen to come in a jacket, so I guess that's progress...

I honestly don't remember starting the meals here with gougères but my friends seem to be familiar with this.

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