September 25, 2011

Perfect provenance

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It's dad's birthday again, and for the second year in a row, we are back at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.  For his 70th last year, I scrounged up the only bottle of 1940 I had left at the time, which really didn't measure up in terms of quality.  This year, however, I managed to secure a little box of treasure for him...

As I sat through the painfully slow Château Latour auction at Christie's in May, I was lucky enough to pick up a case of 3 bottles of ex-château stock for dad.  I cracked open the wooden case last month, and brought one of the pristine bottles back to Taipei to rest.  This bottle had never left the château's cellars since being bottled in the early 40's, until they were shipped to Hong Kong in April this year.  Tonight I would see what perfect provenance tastes like.

September 24, 2011

The must in Taichung

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The reputation of Le Moût, a fine dining French restaurant in Taichung, is well-known to foodies in Taiwan.  It has been held up like a shining star for almost as long as it's been open.  I have heard about it for quite some time, but never found the opportunity to visit due to the location... and it didn't seem to make sense to make detours in the past during my short stays in Taipei.

Things have changed recently, of course, and when my friend J kindly invited me to join him - on a rare occasion when he is back in Taiwan - I didn't hesitate to say "yes".  I booked my ticket on the Taiwan High Speed Rail, found myself a room in a hotel, and off I went.

September 19, 2011

Warm-up lunch

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Dad's birthday is coming up in a few days, and I'm taking him back to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.  There is, of course, another special bottle of wine... so I stopped by the restaurant today to drop it off with the sommelier to allow it to rest for a few days.  It turns out Benoit is not in the house today, so I begrudgingly left it with his assistant.

The plan was to take my friend out to lunch at Salon de The de Joël Robuchon a couple of floors below, as I would need to stop by for my usual bread run anyway.  As I flipped through the menu for the first time, however, I realized that the menu here was much more limited compared to the one in Hong Kong.  The more refined dishes are definitely missing, and suddenly the idea of having lunch here wasn't so appealing anymore...

September 17, 2011

Daniel N° 4

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I was in the mood to drink some wine, and needed to find a suitable venue for dinner.  My recent experiences with "Western" food in Taipei have all been misses, so I decided to go back and revisit DN Innovacíon - where my first dining experience a few months ago had been pretty positive.  It's not often that I choose to return to a "Western" restaurant these days, but I definitely wanted to try Daniel's food again.

Upon arrival, I told the waitress that I wanted the chef to put something together; that I wanted a taste of Spain and none of the other Italian and whatever dishes; that I didn't want any "molecular" dishes; and that I had no budget in mind so the chef had a free hand.

September 15, 2011

Spicing up the seasons

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A bunch of guys are in town "on business" from Hong Kong, and we got a big group of old friends together for dinner.  I don't remember having ever been to Seasons Garden Restaurant (驥園川菜餐廳), but apparently it's an oldie that's been around for a long time.  I was told not to bring "complicated drinks" to dinner, and in the end even my relatively affordable drinking wines were rejected in favor of some beer and sorghum (高粱) liquor...

The dishes had been pre-ordered by the Chairman, so I just sat back and watched the procession of plates...  FYI the names of the dishes (yes, the English ones) were copied directly from the menu...

September 11, 2011

MNSC at 10: 1961 horizontal

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The main reason why I'm back in Hong Kong this weekend was for tonight's dinner.  This was another long-awaited MNSC gathering, and it's been 2½ months since our last dinner.  Once again we are doing a kick-ass theme to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our little group, and tonight the theme was 1961 horizontal.

The venue was a little out of our list of usual suspects.  The Pawn has recently hired a new chef from London's Tom Aikens, a restaurant I remember fondly from my visit a few years ago.  The chef has created a tasting menu to work with our list of wines, and I was curious to see how different things would be from my memories of the Pawn from prior years.

September 10, 2011

Cellar dining

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I'm back in Hong Kong this weekend, and for one reason or another, I wasn't able to convince a single fellow sake lover to join me for dinner and share a very rare bottle that I had spotted in a restaurant.  Everyone had already planned their Saturday nights way in advance... After turning me down, the Specialist very kindly invited me to join her for dinner with a few of her friends.

The venue, curiously enough, was at the Hong Kong Wine Vault.  One of her friends wanted to check out the cellar facilities there, and as it happens three of us - including myself - store some of our wines there.  We had booked one of the new private dining rooms, and the menu was being catered by a chef who works frequently with the place.  Dining/entertaining here has its advantages, and chief among them is the ability to walk into one's own cellar and grab a bottle (or two) when the mood strikes...or when there's no more wine on the table...

September 4, 2011

Boston, Hong Kong

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A few weeks after seeing them in Taipei, I met up with my friends from Shanghai again, but this time in Hong Kong.  This guy has cravings for really local stuff, including stuff from his (and mine) childhood memories.  We agreed to meet for lunch at Boston Restaurant (波士頓餐廳).  I've passed by this place a hundred times, but never had the urge to go in to check it out.  Well, I guess it was finally time.

The place has been open since the 60s, and is one of those old-style steakhouses common in Asia from that time - which locals here call "soy sauce Western food (豉油西餐)".  I, too, like to indulge in nostalgia once in a while.

September 3, 2011

Shroom, shroom...

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Third review inside the Sheraton today, and I'm having dinner with a friend at Celestial Court (天寶閣).  Once again it's a restaurant I've never been to in all my years here, and in fact never even once contemplated coming - not that I had anything against the place.  I guess none of my friends ever eat here...

I'm supposed to be trying out some of the restaurant's signature dishes, but I was so stressed during the week trying to put out some fires at work that I didn't bother to read the menu beforehand.  It turns out that two of the dishes that I was dying to try needed to be pre-ordered 2 days in advance, which is a policy the restaurant seems to adhere to rather strictly.  Needless to say I was disappointed, but had no one else to blame but myself.

Decadent Japanese lunch

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I'm doing the first of my 3 reviews today inside the Sheraton, and visiting Unkai (雲海) for the very first time.  Not sure why I never came around in all the years I've been in Hong Kong, but come to think of it, I'm not sure I've ever eaten in the Sheraton - other than the odd visit to Morton's.

I made a reservation to sit at the teppanyaki counter as I expected to order from that part of the menu.  I expected to come out smelling a little, but in the end I don't think it was too bad.

We had a very, very generous budget from the Sheraton, and I decided not to be too polite and ordered a few of the premium items, along with a bottle of good (but not too expensive) sake.

September 2, 2011

Mr. Cha and Mr. Tam

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A few days ago, my preeminent blogger friend Chaxiubao hollered on Twitter and asked if anyone wanted to join him for dinner at Tam Keung's Congee (健味粥).  It's been more than 2 years since my first and only visit, and I recently missed an opportunity to join him and a few friends there.  As I happen to be in Hong Kong this week, I eagerly shouted back and announced my wish to join him.

In the familiar space upstairs, two tables were set and ready.  There were fellow foodies, fellow bloggers, as well as Mr. Tam and another local organic farmer.  This is certainly an interesting mix...

Golden trio

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I was dying for some good pasta.  After the terrible experience at a supposedly new and hip good Italian in Taipei, I needed to get the real thing.  Dyson 2000 suggested that we do lunch at Gold, where Harlan's pastas have never failed us.  We decided to rope in another victim for the meal.

I chatted with Harlan a little about my recent move to Taipei, and told him I needed to come back for a pasta fix at his place.  Harlan may rub some people the wrong way, but he's always been good to me.  And the man CAN cook, which is what matters most to me.

September 1, 2011

Two big guns

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The gang was gathering once again for the old man's birthday, and I was happy to be able to join them since I was back in town on business.  I'd never been to Sushi Sase (鮨佐瀬) even though it's been open for quite a while now and it was all the rage.  Somehow I never motivated myself to try to get a reservation, as I'd been repeatedly warned that I should get myself directly in front of Sase-san.  Tonight I had the opportunity to accompany a regular customer, and enjoy some of the best sushi I've had in a while.


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