December 30, 2008

Cozy Nino's

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Last night I had dinner with my colleague and a few of his friends, and coincidentally ran into a partner of mine in a business venture. Later on we find that this partner also has a connection with my colleague through a third person...proving again that the world (or at least Hong Kong) is very small, and that 6-degree of separation business may actually come down to 2 or 3 degrees in this town...

Anyway, the venue was Nino's Cozinha, the Portuguese/Macanese place I visited 2 months ago. I have been wanting to come back, but was never able to get a reservation on short notice because the place was so small yet popular. So I was pretty psyched when I found out that I would have be able to sample the yummy cuisine again.

Funnily enough we actually started the meal with the leitão assado no forno - the roast suckling pig. Because this has to be ordered in advance - and we weren't able to do this - we had to take the 1/4 pig that was left over from other tables' orders. It was delivered to our table as soon as it was ready, and this came before all of our tapas. The pig was pretty good, but I didn't get enough to really appreciate it fully. I did manage to nibble on an ear, though...which was interesting.

Next came a series of tapas:

Chouriço assadas - the sausage was pretty tender and juicy, full of flavor.

Presunto de 'pata negra' - your run-of-the-mill pata negra ham - a bit dark and not fatty enough for my taste. But I guess the price wasn't so expensive, either...

Bacalau frito com batatas fritas - bacalhau in potato croquette. This was as awesome as the last time, and exactly what I wanted. Still really yummy with a good blend of bacalhau and potato on the inside, while the deep-fried shell was light and crispy.

Mexilhão fresco - I'm not a big fan of mussels ever since I read Kitchen Confidential, so I only took one to sample.

Then the main dishes started to arrive:

Galinha ã Portuguesa - the Portuguese chicken was pretty decent, although I would have preferred the tastier piri piri chicken with that wonderfully spicy sauce.

Arroz de pato - the famous Portuguese duck rice, done slightly differently here. You still get the slices of duck sausage on top, and the shredded duck meat inside, but they used long grain rice and cooked it in a dry style. The individual rice grains weren't sticking together, and were more chewy as a result of being dry. It's different, but I'm thinking I like it when the rice sticks together and the top is a bit more burnt or au gratin.

The pièce de résistance of the evening was certainly camarao com pimenta no forno - the shrimp with pepper in claypot. This was surely as good as the last pot I had. The fragrance of the peppers - green, white and black peppercorns - hits you immediately. I joked about having my sinuses cleared, but when I accidentally bit into a peppercorn, my nose started to run and my sinuses were being cleared.

Camarao assado na panela com alho e cebola - the prawns were juicy and tender, and the garlic olive oil was to die for. But the stupid waiter took the plate away after we had taken out all the prawns...did he not realize the whole point was to soak up the oil with bread?

Costelas pimentão no forno - the beef spare-ribs were done really nicely, covered with this delicious sauce.

Legumes assadas na panela com tomate e porco - cabbage in tomato-based sauce, which I didn't have very much of.

At the end of the meal, I was a tiny bit upset because I realized that Uncle Joe, the manager, had decided to cancel my order of bacalhao a bras. This is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and I just couldn't believe that he just made the decision to nix it.

I was pretty full so ended up not having any dessert.

On the whole it was yet another wonderful meal. I didn't drink much of the wine, because my stomach has been a bit upset for the last two days. But I'm really glad I went back to Nino's and look forward to my next visit.

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