December 31, 2012

Closing out 2012 with whispers

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It's new year's eve, and as usual I didn't make any plans to celebrate in grand fashion.  Up until yesterday I was content to just hole up at home and spend it quietly by myself.  Tigger then extended an invitation for me to spend the evening with them, and all of a sudden I found myself with plans.

In typical fashion, food for the evening was take-out, and decided very late in the game.  Upon our arrival by bus from Central, it was time to go and pick up the food.  ILL got her chance to ride in Mrs. Tigger's C 63 Black Series, and went to pick up our dinner from Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) while I stayed behind to prep the wines...

The menu was typical of the Tigger household… most of the dishes feature time and again during their meals at the restaurant.

December 30, 2012

Cheese on a cold winter evening

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I stopped by my beloved Caprice yesterday afternoon as I was checking up on something, and was given a quick tour of their new cheese and wine bar.  This has been a few months in the making, and something that my friends and I have looked forward to for most of this year.  It finally opened a week ago, and I decided to grab a couple of friends tonight to check out the new digs.

The paint fumes were still somewhat noticeable yesterday, but I didn't mind.  Nothing like getting a little high on wine and fumes…  Perhaps it was the colder temperature tonight, but I didn't really pay much attention to the fumes tonight.

I started with a glass of 2006 Willi Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben, because it's been a while since I last had some Grüner Veltliner.  A little mineral, ripe, muscat grape on the nose.  Sweet with saucisson, but not so good with jamón ibérico.

December 27, 2012

Lil' clique of alkies

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A couple of weeks after the last gathering, the Alcoholics met up again to welcome a visitor back to town.  After bailing on an earlier gathering, I finally had my chance to try out a private kitchen located in a cul-de-sac called The Coterie.  I had balked at the price being charged when I first heard about it, thinking that it was out of line with the pricing of other fine dining establishments in town, but I was very curious to see whether it was justified.  After all, the Specialist seemed enamored with the place…

The nondescript plain white walls outside concealed a richly decorated space.  Our room - one of two - was dominated by a long table with a mirrored surface.  I would discover later that someone had managed to scratch it.  The silverware was an elaborately decorated pattern from Christofle, and there were multiple wine glasses at each seat.  Put all of this together and the first word that comes to mind was "bling".

It took more than half an hour for something edible to appear on the table, partly because one of us arrived a little late.  But the lack of any snacks or bread meant that I was drinking bubbly on an empty stomach, and that is never a good thing…

December 25, 2012

Meat 'n potatoes for Christmas

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Woke up late on Christmas Day, after staying up late at night trying frantically to make sure the ducks were still lined up.  Went to bed with my fingers crossed, but with hope levels like the receding tide.  Checked my email as soon as I opened my eyes and got some bad news.  My train won't be running on schedule, and arrival at final destination will be delayed for an uncertain amount of time.

A little depressed, I lazed in bed and moped around the apartment on this cold winter morning.  I have a delicious late lunch to look forward to, but my spirits were a little dampened.  I need to pick myself up and just get out of the house.

After pickup up the wine from the office, I arrived fairly late at Susan's.  Everyone sitting around the table has already gone through a round of food, so I put the wine down, hurried to my seat and was immediately served with the main event on my plate…

December 24, 2012

Comesus interruptus

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It's Christmas Eve, and I'm in the office frantically trying to make sure that all the ducks are lined up.  We're just short of our scheduled launch and a few of the documents are not 100% finalized.  Trying to schedule 2 board meetings over Christmas also isn't the easiest thing, and thankfully people have been very accommodating.

So 7pm rolls around, and I finally get to leave the office and head to dinner.  My adopted family has kindly taken me in for the night, so I joined Mr. and Mrs. Tigger and their friends at the Dining Room of the Aberdeen Marina Club.  I was the last to arrive, but fortunately I was still on time.

Unfortunately I received a distressing email just as I stepped out of the taxi, and something went a little awry with the chain of events which I thought were on schedule.  I tried to contact my external counsel for a simple fix, but the person was MIA.  I guess I would have to try to fix it during dinner…

Dinner tonight was a 5-course set menu - not surprising given the occasion.  There were 3 choices for each course, which was actually pretty good.

December 18, 2012

The lunch game

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Ever since we ran into Chef Vincent at the book launch, ILL and I have been talking about going to Caprice for a meal before year end.  It's game season, and where better to get your game meat than from the man who loves promoting it in Hong Kong?

Needless to say, bookings are hard to come by these days.  We had to leverage off our relationships with the restaurant to try to move ourselves up the waiting list.  After turning down several last-minute openings over the last week or so - due to one of us being tied up - we finally managed to meet up with a mutual friend for lunch today.

I knew exactly what I wanted before I walked in.  It meant giving up on the extremely well-priced set lunch, and would end up costing me dearly as far as lunch money goes, but I didn't care.  I want what I want.

The savory canelés with olives and anchovies are always yummy, but I'm getting a little tired of this… Time to serve up something new, please!

December 17, 2012

The 4x100

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It was the end of the season, and Pineapple's turn to host the final MNSC event of the year.  As usual the fight for last place was intense, and experience tells us that anything can happen at the very end of the year.  There was a lot at stake as I headed to The Principal for dinner, and after the lesson learned from the last tasting, we had a full house present...

My first visit earlier this year made a good impression, and I was really looking forward to coming back, especially now that they've taken down a well-deserved macaron.

The snacks are always interesting, and as with last time there was some sweet popcorn, although tonight we also had sweetened deep-fried pork rinds, which I inhaled and then tried to steal from the rest of the table…  The pecans were also good.

December 15, 2012

Eighty-six this dish

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Casual lunch today.  I met up with a friend since I'm in danger of bailing out on him for our dinner this coming Tuesday.  We bounced around ideas for the venue, and he suggested that we check out Madam Sixty Ate.  The place opened up with a lot of hype last year, and not surprisingly I never found the time to pay them a visit... until now.

We were able to pick from both the lunch and the weekend brunch menu.  The very first item on the lunch menu caught my attention, and from then on my eyes were no longer able to focus on the other dishes...  Love at first sight, you might say...  Ever since my first encounter with this classic dish, it has become an instant favorite of mine.  I think I prefer the classic version, and not the more creative version that I actually had a few days prior to that first encounter.

December 12, 2012

An Alcoholic Lot

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Ever since that interview article in the papers came out, the Alcoholics have been asking me to take them to On Lot 10, with a couple of special requests.  Apparently it was thought that they'd eat better with me around, although I think that's hardly the case…  Anyway, I did make arrangements with David a couple of weeks in advance, and crossed my fingers and hoped that everything would work out like they always had.

We started with a very special bouillabaisse.  Some of us were allergic to prawns (but not other shellfish), so I requested for David to use lobster and crab instead.  A Staub cocotte showed up at the table, bearing the brown, seemingly brackish liquid that, in fact, is fit to be called les gouttes de Dieu.  We were prepared to see someone lap up 4 bowls of this…

December 9, 2012

A crispy, porky, buttery dinner

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Less than a week after singing the praises of my good friend Susan, I received an invitation for dinner at her home.  One of our mutual friends is in town, and she had decided that she would cook for our little gathering.  It's been a while since I last visited Susan in her natural habitat, and I was looking forward to the smells emanating from her kitchen…

The first thing I saw upon stepping foot in the kitchen was the pile of desserts on the countertop… but more about that later.  She was also working on a humongous piece of pork belly, which had been rolled and was well-roasted.  She was trying to get the skin crispy, and we watched as bubbles/blisters started to form on the skin…

While the pork was resting, we found ourselves with a place of three different types of saucisson.

December 8, 2012

Ready to feed Hong Kong

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A while ago Tigger posted about the partnership between Feeding Hong Kong and Pret A Manger, and asked us to support Feeding Hong Kong by channeling business to Pret.  Pret A Manger has pledged to donate 1 HKD for every Christmas sandwich that they sell, or roughly 4% of the revenue from this item.  Proceeds will go to provide hot meals for the needy in partnership with Feeding Hong Kong.

Today I had the privilege to join Tigger, Gabrielle and the team from Pret A Manger at one of their Christmas lunch events.  Christian Action hosted a luncheon for underprivileged single mothers and their children, and I was there to witness the three parties in action as they managed to feed a group of hungry moms and kids.

Pret delivered plenty of food and drinks, with 3 turkeys, stuffing, sliced ham, roasted potatoes, hot dogs, sausages, fried rice...etc on the menu.  Thankfully the experienced team from Pret were on hand and expertly carved up the turkeys.

December 6, 2012

Lil' chapel on the hill

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I was very honored to have been invited by the Specialist to a very special wine dinner tonight.  Ahead of this weekend's auctions, Sotheby's held a dinner featuring the wines of Paul Jaboulet Aîné - specifically, Hermitage La Chapelle.  Named after the little chapel of St. Christopher that sits on top of the hill above Tain l'Hermitage (which, incidentally, is also home to Valrhona), La Chapelle is one of the most iconic wines of the northern Rhône.

1961 La Chapelle is absolutely my dream wine.  I had wanted to buy a bottle or two around 10 years ago, but on the advice of someone whose opinion I trusted, I instead bought bottles of 1978 at 1/10th the price and aged them myself…  Years later, I still don't own a single bottle of the '61, but prices have of course tripled…

The dinner was held in a private function room at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with the food coming from the kitchen of Man Wah (文華廳).  I have never cared much for the food here, and despite the Specialist's efforts (she had sampled the menu a few days ago), the end result wasn't all that surprising to me…

December 3, 2012

A celebration of friendship

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Tonight a small, privileged group of us gathered for a very special occasion.  My dear friend Susan Jung, the long-time food and wine editor of the South China Morning Post, has finally come out with her very own cookbook.  A Celebration of Food is a collection of 80 recipes, which are mostly from Susan's collected works published in the Post over the years.  However, there are also 20 recipes coming from well-known kitchens around Hong Kong, including those with Michelin stars such as Caprice, 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Fook Lam Moon, Cépage…etc., as well as places like On Lot 10.  In short, places that keep coming up over and over here in my diary.

I was introduced to Susan by a mutual friend back around the time she first took up her job at SCMP, after leaving her previous profession as a pastry chef.  That's a pretty long friendship, I have to say.  There were years when we didn't see each other much, but somehow we'd manage to find each other through mutual friends.  Over the last few years, I have been particularly blessed as I spent increasingly more time enjoying both her company as well as the delicious cooking.

November 29, 2012


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Yes, I'm back at On Lot 10 again.  No, this was not my idea, but rather my Favorite Cousin's.  Mr. and Mrs. Ho were back in town, and as my very first visit to this restaurant was at their suggestion, it seemed like a logical choice.  Knowing Mr. Ho's fondness for bouillabaisse, I asked David to prepare a special version for us.  Both Mr. Ho and I were pretty excited at the prospect of enjoying this.

The staff had no idea that I was coming, since the reservation wasn't under my name.  I sat down and enquired about the bouillabaisse, but our friendly waiter didn't know anything about it.  He disappeared to check with the kitchen.  Nope.  No word on our special order, so the kitchen had nothing.  Umm……

This hasn't happened before.  We don't usually order specific items with David, as it's usually carte blanche, but there was a particular reason for a specific order this time.  Maybe he was too busy and forgot to pass the word down to the kitchen.  But I was stuck: I wasn't able to deliver the bouillabaisse that I had promised our out-of-town guests.

November 25, 2012

Right and Rhône

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Time for another MNSC Dinner, and the gang congregated on a Sunday night in the Grill Room of the Hong Kong Country Club.  I'm usually pretty skeptical of club food, so I didn't get my hopes up about the quality of the food.  I was, however, looking forward to whatever wines Juliano was about to serve us…

Baked oyster in two style:
Champagne emulsion - with diced mushrooms.

November 24, 2012

Lisboa tour 2012: La Paloma

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With a couple of hours to kill before dinner, we decided to arrive early and relax on the outdoor terrace at Pousada de São Tiago.  The 17th century fortress turned hotel seemed an ideal location for us to wrap up our tour of Macau.

While on the terrace, I struggled for a long time to come up with the perfect drink.  It was just before dinner, but I was still full from the combination of lunch and dessert.  I'd already had 2 types of tea since lunch, so I definitely did not need any more caffeine.  Alcohol?  I had pre-ordered wine for dinner and didn't want to get buzzed now.  In the end, I think I gave my friends a chuckle as I ordered a glass of watermelon juice

When I first saw the sign for La Paloma, I was immediately struck by the typeface, which bore a striking resemblance to the one used by Paloma Picasso for her brand.  Curious…

A Kafkaesque afternoon

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We were feeling very full after our wonderful lunch, and left the Grand Lisboa on a mission.  Lemon Tea wanted to check out this dessert place on Taipa, so the group of us went on a little adventure.  I rode a Macanese bus for the first time, got off at the closest stop, and strolled down Avenida de Kwong Tung towards our destination.

I had never heard of KAFKA Sweets & Gourmandises - the shop, that is.  Then again, I'm not very up to date on my Macanese destinations.  I found it curious that the owners of this joint - pretty much in the middle-of-nowhere as far as Macau is concerned - would name it after a literary giant.  OK, so it's located on a street whose Chinese name is 布拉格街, which is the same translation as Prague (Kafka's home town), but the "Braga" in Rua da Braga refers to the Portuguese city of Braga, not Prague (which is actually "Praga" in Portuguese)…  Well, whatever…

The place was fully packed, and we had to wait outside for a little while.  I'm not in the habit of waiting in line for food, but we're on a group activity here so I kept my opinions to myself.  It looked like a stereotypical joint that perhaps gained its popularity through the combination of having pretty-looking and colorful products, a decent interior design, and some clever marketing to the right target audience.  In short, it looks like a place I'd normally steer clear of.  But hey, I've got a couple of hours to kill, and I'm in the hands of experts, so just go with the flow…

Lisboa tour 2012: The Eight

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I woke up fairly late this morning, feeling a little more refreshed.  I opted not to have breakfast this morning, as the last thing I needed was more food… Finally at around 11:30, or more than 13 hours after finishing dinner last night, I felt the first indication of hunger pangs…

I was really looking forward to lunch at The Eight.  The meal I had last year was totally awesome, and I knew we were in for a series of different dishes this time around, with an additional stomach to help spread the food around…

Two little bite-sized amuses bouches started us off:
Stir-fried diced beef - with a little bit of celery perhaps?

November 23, 2012

Lisboa tour 2012: Guincho a Galera

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A mere 3 hours after lunch ended, the bunch of us gathered again and headed to the Hotel Lisboa across the street.  The venue for dinner was Guincho a Galera, the Portuguese restaurant occupying the former home of Robuchon a Galera.  This is the international outpost of Fortaleza do Guincho, a restaurant outside Lisbon with a Michelin star.

I wasn't the least bit hungry, and sat at the dinner table with a blank and defeated look for about the first hour while the rest of the gang discussed what to order.  I had just about managed to get rid of enough alcohol from my system as we were being served our complimentary wines…  In short, I was a party-pooper most of the evening...

2010 Bacalhôa Chardonnay Cova da Ursa - big nose of toasty oak, mineral, lemon, ripe, a little sweet with a hint of vanilla.  Not bad at all.

Lisboa tour 2012: Robuchon au Dôme

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It was a year and a half ago that I made a trip to Macau with KC, at the invitation of Hotel Lisboa.  Well, here we are again, together with Lemon Tea, for another 4 meals over 2 days…

Upon our arrival we were greeted by the PR, and escorted up to the top of the Grand Lisboa for our lunch at Robuchon au Dôme.  I haven't been here since Robuchon moved from its old location, so this was the first time for me to check out the interior and the view…

With our experience last year and knowing what's to come over the next 2 days, we decided to take it easy and did not pick the heaviest menu.  To be honest there is no need to do so, as all the stuff that gets wheeled around on carts are enough to fill you up…  Just like last time, we ended up sharing different dishes as much as possible.

November 20, 2012

Pass the Crestor, please...

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At a casual lunch with a couple of friends last week, one of my friends offered to introduce me to a bon viveur who will be passing through town.  I was of course tasked with the restaurant selection, although I was told that Caprice would be off-limits.  This was just as well, since it was doubtful I could get a table there on such short notice anyway…

So of course I turned to one of the two chefs in town in front of whom I have no shame, and asked David for a table at On Lot 10.  It seems to be my go-to restaurant these days, not the least because David has always been very accommodating to these last-minute "emergencies"…

We wanted to keep things light for my friend, so I asked David to come up with something "healthy" and let him know that this was for health reasons.  I remember specifically requesting for things that are low in fat and cholesterol.  I was really curious about what would end up on our table.

November 19, 2012

Nectar of the Tsars

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I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a dinner tonight featuring wines I had been curious about for years.  Around 10 years ago, one of the London brokers I actively dealt with sent around a list of wines from Massandra, and touted it as the "wine of the tsars".  Well, yes and no.  Initially Prince Lev Sergeyevich Golitsyn set up his own winery in Crimea, and later on he became the winemaker at Tsar Nicholas II's winery nearby at Massandra.  It wasn't until years after the revolution that the wineries - now under state control - were consolidated into the Massandra of today.

I regret not buying from the London broker 10 years ago, when the wine list was full of old gems and prices were cheap.  These days the same broker's list is largely depleted, and I have to get them from auction houses like Bonham's, who hosted the dinner and is featuring a small parcel of the wines in their upcoming auction.  Well, better late than never I guess...

The dinner tonight was held at West Villa (西苑), a decent restaurant with a reputation for delivering value for money.  I haven't been here for a long, long time, so it was good to come check out the food…

November 16, 2012

The tight Chairman

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It has been two years since I last visited The Chairman (大班樓), or so I was told by Foursquare as I checked in via my phone.  During that time the place has gotten themselves a little macaron, and I imagine it is now even harder to secure a table.  I therefore count myself lucky to be joining a VVIP of the restaurant - yes, I actually saw it written in the reservation book next to my friend's name - for dinner.

The space has never been very big for a restaurant this popular, but now they are really packing us in.  The nine of us squeezed in at a table that normally should seat six or no more than seven.  There was barely enough space for the wine glasses - up to three at the peak - so I had to slide my phone under the edge of the plate, and the camera got stuck between my back and the back of the chair.

The menu was preset as usual, and there would be a long line of dishes to come…

November 11, 2012


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Today was just like yesterday.  Except it was worse.  I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep because of the alcohol in my system.  After spending some time putting together the post about Friday, I went back to bed to get a few more hours of sleep.  I felt tired and beat the entire day, and once again faced the same decision I had yesterday:  should I show up at dinner?

But just like last night, it would have been bad form to cancel.  A bunch of us were invited to a barbecue, and in attendance would be chefs from some of Hong Kong's best-known restaurants.  Knowing our host, he would have gone all out to feature the best ingredients - and in large quantities, no doubt.  It's best not to decline such generous hospitality.  So once again, I dragged my progressively heavier (especially in the last week) ass across the harbor…

The spread on the table was already pretty impressive when I stepped in through the door, and since a few others hadn't arrived yet, it was only gonna get more amazing… and I was right.  Together with the food that some of the guests brought along to this potluck, there was probably enough food to feed us three times over, maybe four!  There were entire dishes that did not get cooked, and of those ingredients that were cooked, there were a number of them that I didn't manage to touch, as I exercised restraint and kept my intake in check.

November 10, 2012

Alcoholics + alcoholic Italian wines = toast

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History has shown time and again that an evening out with the Alcoholics inevitably ends badly for me.   The bottle count at any of the gatherings with them will typically run above 1¼ bottles per person, which is above my tolerance level.  Not once have I woken up after one of these evenings without a hangover, and on occasion when the surroundings permit, I have fallen asleep during these dinners.  To sum it up: toast.

A couple of hours before dinner started tonight, I was in a mini-depression.  I had been dining out for 5 straight nights, and had consumed wine or alcohol on 4 of those nights.  Thursday and Friday had been particularly long evenings, and I woke up today feeling tired and with a slight hangover.  By this afternoon, my energy had not been recharged back to its normal level.  I really did not look forward to yet another evening out with lots of wine.  I had reached total palate fatigue, which is something that only happens once in a blue moon.

It would be bad form for me to cancel at the last minute, so I reluctantly dragged my ass out of the apartment, crossed the harbor to the Island side for the second time today, and joined the Alcoholics at Domani Ristorante.  This was an Italian wine dinner organized by Bordeaux Index, and while it was a BYO event, a number of bottles had been contributed by several Italian wineries.  I arrived to find bottles already on our table, and as we reached a full complement of 7, the bottle count got to 11.  Ohhhh boy…

November 9, 2012

Zigzaging across Victoria Harbor

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This was always gonna be a busy evening, but it actually went on for much longer than I expected… and I also got a little more drunk than I expected, even though my mind was crystal clear the whole evening.  Let me try to remember the details…

I started the evening at Hong Kong Wine Vault, attending a tasting of wines from Domaine Clarence Dillon.  Jean-Philippe Delmas was in attendance, showcasing wines from both Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion.

November 8, 2012

85 on 101

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A dear friend of mine was kind enough to invite me to dinner tonight.  A group of us were gathering to open a few bottles with Neal Martin, the man behind the Wine Journal on  It's always interesting to meet people who have so much experience with different wines, and not surprisingly many of us try to offer up some choice wines from our cellars during these encounters.  I sometimes wonder if these critics ever just want to have a simple meal with a simple bottle of wine?

The venue of the gathering was RyuGin (天空 龍吟) on the 101th floor of the International Commerce Centre.  I was pretty excited about this evening, both because of the wines we would be drinking and also because this would be my first visit to the restaurant.  I had a wonderful experience at the honten in Tokyo on my last trip, although reviews on this place from my contacts had been rather mixed.  Now I would be able to find out for myself.

We took a menu featuring fall ingredients, made even more luxurious with the addition of white truffles from Alba…

November 7, 2012

Just say roe

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In this age where we get live feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, it's not unusual to get a flood of images coming from friends who have just dined at a particular restaurant together.  Not long ago I kept seeing pictures of certain dishes come across my various social media accounts, and decided that they looked good enough for me to try.  A quick call to Mrs. Tigger and we had ourselves a table at Man Wah (文華廳) in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The restaurant is running a joint promotion with Shing Lung Hong (成隆行), a long-time distributor of hairy crabs (大閘蟹) in Hong Kong.  A number of dishes have been created to highlight the seasonal crabs and their delicious roe.  I was naturally drawn in by the beautiful pictures taken by my friends.

I was late to dinner due to a misunderstanding, and arrived to a half a plate of Cantonese roast meats.  The char siu (叉燒) was actually very good, with just the right amount of marbling inside.  I should have checked with the restaurant to see if this was pork shoulder (脢頭肉)…  The crackling of the roast suckling pig (烤乳豬) was pretty good, too.

November 6, 2012

Rive Droite x Dark Side

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Hong Kong Wine Vault hosted a tasting of wines from Château La Conseillante and Clos Fourtet tonight.  I met Jean-Michel Laporte for the second time 2 years ago at an earlier tasting organized by Wine Vault, and do like their wines.  I am less familiar with Clos Fourtet, so the combination of the two châteaux made this an interesting event for me.

I arrived fairly late due to an earlier meeting, and fortunately it didn't take me too much time to cross over to the Dark Side and get to the industrial warehouse.  My late arrival, though, meant that I had to rush through the tasting and not spend too much time socializing.  In fact, I didn't spend any time speaking with the gentlemen responsible for making the wines…

I am not Big Spender

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I woke up this morning to a link posted on my Facebook timeline.  The link, of course, was to the "Big Spender" column published in the Hong Kong edition of Apple Daily (蘋果日報).  I had been interviewed a couple of weeks ago by the paper about my life as a foodie/blogger, and have been dreading the publication of this interview.

I was mostly worried about how I would come off to the general public, who don't know me and don't read my blog.  I have been described by various people as "arrogant" as well as a host of other terms, and while I usually shrugged those comments off as long as they were private, things were different this time.  People do read this paper, and this is a rather public scrutiny.  And the last thing I wanted was to show up in a column called "Big Spender" and make people think I am one.

I was asked permission to have the interview article written in first person form, since the bulk of the text consisted of answers to a few questions.  I reluctantly agreed to the request, knowing that anything written by the reporter would appear as if the words came straight from my mouth.  Well, I guess the end result isn't as bad as I feared, although there were still a couple of points I did not and would not have made.

November 5, 2012

Miles away from La Boqueria

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A few of us had missed out on a particular dinner 2 weeks ago, and were fortunate to have been re-invited to dine at Boqueria by the responsible PR person.  This is apparently related the New York chain, which was supposedly inspired by the best tapas bars of Barcelona, such as Pinotxo.  I've always loved tapas and pintxos when they're done well, and so even though I don't normally attend these PR meals, I happily joined the event since I pretty much knew everyone else attending.

I was running late as a client had invited me for drinks across the harbor, and I dashed back while glowing red from a few shots of Lagavulin 16.  I was seeing via Twitter that most others were going to be late, too, when I received the earth-shattering news that Your Highness had actually arrived on time (or at least before the rest of us)!  Anyone who knows Your Highness will know that, that NEVER happens…  As the Chinese will say, 太陽從西邊出來了!

Anyway, I managed to find my way to our table, greeted everyone around me and waited for the food to arrive… I accepted a glass of white sangria, but wasn't in the mood for more alcohol just yet.

November 3, 2012

Another Fook Lam Moon birthday

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It's another birthday celebration at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), and one where our host splurged for a classic dish that the restaurant is known for - and something that I haven't had in quite a long time.

Deep-fried frogs' legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - it seems we can never get enough of this dish.  In fact we knew the "large" size wasn't enough and immediately ordered another "medium" plate.

Roast suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬) - de rigueur when one dines here.  Does one ever get tired of this piggy?  Apparently not this crowd.  But who can blame us when the skin is wafer-thin and so crispy?!

November 2, 2012

Yummy food that don't work with red wine

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A few weeks after an impressive showing at the Masseto tasting I hosted, the MNSC boys gathered again at Megan's Kitchen (美味廚).  It's a full house again tonight, as our host Gayliao is back from his globetrotting that caused him to miss out on the Massetos.  One of the benefits of hosting at this location is the casual environment… evidenced by our host showing up to dinner in his flip-flops!  That has got to be a first in MNSC's 11-year history…

The menu tonight was exactly the same as what we had on our last visit, when Curry Jayer hosted his debut.  So once again we were fed lots of really delicious food, but - being deep-fried, sprinkled with garlic and chili, or simply being shellfish like crabs and prawns - they weren't exactly wine-friendly…

October 27, 2012

Playing tourist in Taipei

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I'm back in Taipei this weekend, playing tour guide to Mrs. Tigger's family.  It's their first trip to Taiwan, and the guy who's often told he's not really Taiwanese was taking them to all the touristy destinations.  To be very honest, I hadn't actually been to some of these places myself…

After getting some soybean milk (豆漿) and deep-fried Chinese crullers (油條) for breakfast, we headed to the National Palace Museum (故宮博物院).  Despite the fact that the parental units live only a short drive from this place, it's been some 14 years since my last visit.  To say that I don't know much about the place would be an understatement…

We walked around a bit, then moved on to the Shihlin Official Residence (士林官邸) - the former residence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).  This place is even closer to the parental units' home, but I have never been here.  We waited until the lunch break was over, and went inside the actual building where Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-ling (宋美齡) lived during their years in Taiwan.  I later learned that the actual house has only been open to the public since January last year year, and the second floor has only been accessible since January this year.

October 23, 2012

More piggy

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I was hanging out with Tigger this afternoon when he asked me to join the family for dinner.  Due to horrendous traffic conditions in a particular part of town, we decided to change plans and go to Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) instead.  Can't really go wrong here...

Deep-fried frogs' legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - Mrs. Tigger's favorite, and something that she (and the rest of us) quickly devoured when starving…

October 21, 2012

Missing Kim

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A bunch of us got together to go watch Noma at Boiling Point, the documentary about the restaurant in Copenhagen that has replaced el Bulli as THE place to go for foodies.  As there were quite a few of us, it seemed logical to go and grab dinner together afterwards.  Someone suggested that we go to the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant (君怡閣) for the pig, and I honestly couldn't think of a better idea!

Double boiled fresh ox bone and turnip soup (蘿蔔鮮牛骨清湯) - not surprisingly, we started with a giant clay pot of this as it's become the tradition.

October 18, 2012

Dinner interview

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Some time ago, I was approached by someone from the Fruit Media for an interview.  It seems that they were interested in talking to a food and wine lover, and - for reasons that remain baffling to me - they thought I would be a suitable subject.  As I'd only recently moved back to town, it took a while for the meeting to happen.

I was asked to pick 6 of my favorite restaurants, and they would choose one and do the interview there.    After I gave them the first 6 - Caprice, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Gold, Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), Tim's Kitchen (桃花源) and On Lot 10 - I realized that the majority had Michelin stars and most (if not all) were probably hard to book on short notice.  So I added Island Tang (港島廳) as #7.  I was then asked to pick one place where I would be able to order a number of off-menu items, and as Connor McLeod would say: "There can be only one!"

So I shamelessly called up David and begged for a table at On Lot 10.  I told him about the interview, and specifically - although this is nothing different from any other time I come here - asked him to prepare off-menu items.  As usual, David very kindly obliged.

October 16, 2012

Lunching with vultures

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A few friends were having lunch at Caprice today, and very kindly invited me to join them to fill out a table of four.  I was, of course, only too happy to accept the invitation and return to one of my favorite places in town.

We were informed that the menu was changing tomorrow, so today would be the last chance to savor some of the dishes.  With that in mind, we dispensed with the set lunch and picked out dishes from the à la carte menu.

As usual we found these savory canelés on our table.  Love the anchovies and olives inside.

October 14, 2012

Fine dining with old men

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It was dad's birthday yesterday, so I arranged to be in town this weekend and took him to lunch today.  I also managed to invite Last Minute Uncle who, not surprisingly, grabbed his two sons at the very last minute to come join us…

It looks like we will make coming to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon a tradition on dad's birthday, although I didn't bring any wine today as we were doing lunch.  I was greeted at the door by a familiar face - my old friend Benoit.  As I was a little early, we chatted a little while some TV channel was in the kitchen filming Chef Angelo.

It's clear that - no surprise to me - business isn't great here in Taipei.  The number of covers from last night - a Saturday - was ridiculously low.  We also discussed the phenomenon of people coming in not because they truly appreciate the food, but because they simply wanted to check off a list and tell people (via Facebook or Instagram or whatever) that they've been here.  There seemed to be no escape from the Asian (and perhaps global) phenomenon where couples spend 15 minutes posing for pictures with each dish.  Benoit also lamented that there simply doesn't seem to be enough customers in Taipei who love food enough to be willing to spend some money on it.  Instead the locals seem to prefer to drop big bucks on expensive handbags or watches - something which they can show off to others.

As we realized that our conversation had turned into a mini bitching session, we shook our heads and both joked that we are two old men who are not able to keep up with the times.  The behavior we have been complaining about is now the mainstream, and the two of us are hopelessly out of date.  Of course, I was soon joined by more old men at my table…

October 12, 2012

Lunch with Restauranteurs

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For the second time in a week, I found myself in the company of a well-known food journalist.  There was the last minute invitation to dine with Fuchsia Dunlop - whom I'd met months ago through my dear friend Susan.  Today I was introduced to Nick Lander, who was in town to talk about his new book, The Art of the Restauranteur.  Besides the insightful articles he writes for the Financial Times, he's an interesting person for me to meet because he is otherwise known as Jancis Robinson's husband.

We decided to take him to Manor Seafood Restaurant (富瑤海鮮酒家).  For some reason I've never been here for lunch, so I was pretty excited to come and try out their dim sum items.  We didn't think there were enough of us to order dishes like their roast suckling pig (which I'd still never had) or the flower crab, though…

October 11, 2012

Italia x Patagonia

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It's been a while since I last attended a wine dinner organized by a merchant or a restaurant.  There are plenty of these around town, and usually I either don't find them very interesting, or they end up being a little expensive for my taste.  The dinner I attended tonight was the exception.

I first tasted the wines from Bodegas Chacra about a year and a half ago, and I was completely blown away.  The estate is known for its Pinot Noirs, made in the Patagonia region of Argentina by Piero Incisa della Rocchetta - from the family that brought us Sassicaia.  I couldn't believe how beautifully the wines were drinking at such a young age.  When I found out that Piero was in town and would be showing his wines at dinner, it took me all of about 2 minutes to respond to an invitation from the local distributor.

Tonight's venue was Café Gray Deluxe.  I have only been here once previously, having found the food to be too heavy for my liking.  Had it not been for the dinner tonight, I'm not sure when I would have returned after my first experience more than 2 years ago.

October 8, 2012

Masseto massiiive

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It was finally my turn to host an MNSC dinner tonight, and I'd been waiting for this occasion since early last year.  Normally I'd be hosting my dinner in the earlier part of the year, but putting it together while living in Taipei turned out to be a little challenging.  And it seemed the perfect way to mark my return to Hong Kong…

I wanted a change of venue, so I decided to book a room at Gold by Harlan Goldstein.  We haven't been here for MNSC dinner before, and it was pretty easy to arrange everything with Harlan, even on short notice.

I arrived early to set up the wines for the evening, and was starving badly…  There was no way I was going to start drinking on an empty stomach, so I asked for some of the restaurant's yummy bread.  That green sauce on the side ain't no ordinary pesto… it's damn good and addictive!

October 6, 2012

Fish market feast, crabulous edition

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Not three days ago I had the misfortune of getting a dose of food poisoning on my first working day back in Hong Kong.  While the true culprit of my illness is anybody's guess between my breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack for that day, most people - including myself - would point the finger at a certain item containing chicken and cream sauce from a global chain of coffee shops.  I spent some 30 hours running a fever and shivering under blankets as my body reacted to the foreign substance that was trying its damnedest to invade my system.

I felt much better yesterday, and slowly went back to eating regular food.  By this morning, I felt that my appetite was back 100%, and just in time, too!  I had signed up for another seafood feast at the restaurant inside Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market (香港仔魚類批發市場).  Just had the lunch I participated in last year, this one was also organized by my friend KC.  Given my experience last year, I was really happy that I made it back to HK in time for the last session today, and looked forward to lots of yummy seafood.

By the time I arrived, the place was already packed, with the group occupying 6 tables and taking up majority of the space.  KC very kindly invited me to sit with his family so I would be in the company of one (or two) familiar faces.  Not surprisingly, there are certain perks that come with being at the organizer's table…

October 1, 2012

Wines with fireworks

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I officially moved back to Hong Kong today.  Wouldn't you know it… just a couple of hours after I landed, I was back visiting my cellar at Hong Kong Wine Vault, fishing out a bottle to take to dinner.  The Specialist was hosting a gathering at her home, where we could enjoy some home-cooked food and wine while watching the fireworks.  Not a bad way to spend my first evening back.

The Specialist has always been a wonderful hostess, and tonight we were treated to a number of delicious cold cuts to start off the evening.  First there was the 48-month jamón ibérico, whose flavors came in many layers.  The wonderful flavors from the fat lingered in my mouth… but turned metallic and rusty with a sip of the white Burgundy.  Must make a mental note for the future…

September 22, 2012

A fishy and smoky evening

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My week of Japanese feasts continued tonight, as I went for my fifth Japanese dinner in six nights.  I'd read about Mihanhonke (三燔本家) in the papers a few months ago, with the article highlighting the fresh local catch that the restaurant brings in daily.  My interest was piqued, and I dragged a couple of friends along to try out the place.

I chose to sit at the robatayaki (炉端焼) counter, and it was very clear that they weren't gonna be doing good business tonight - less than 1/3 of the seats were set up.  The sukiyaki (すき焼き) area next to us had no diners tonight.  I guess that meant we'd have a little more freedom and receive better service…

Since I had my heart set up the fresh catch, I decided it wouldn't make sense for me to order the set menu.  Besides, I'm used to ordering à la carte when I have robatayaki, anyway.  We took a look at the 5 different types of fish displayed on ice, as the captain tried to explain their names to us.  Trouble is, my friends didn't think that the captain really knew his stuff… and they also felt some of the fish really wasn't all that fresh when they looked at the eyes.  To top it all off, I had some doubts about the grilling skills of the staff… as I saw some of the fish being plated after having had large chunks broken off.  I was beginning to have doubts about dinner… since I came specifically for the fish!

We stayed in the robatayaki area and ordered fish.  The result?

September 21, 2012

A bubbly evening

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After rescheduling a couple of times, I've gotten together with a small group of friends for another wine dinner.  The last time we got together, we decided to do an evening with Champagne.  This isn't something I do often, so was I looking forward to sipping bubbly.  Kitcho (吉兆) was chosen to provide lighter fare to accompany the wines.

Babylonia (貝)

September 8, 2012

The debut performance

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Tonight marked a momentous occasion in the history of MNSC.  For the first time in more than 10 years,  we were inducting a new member to our little group.  As a few of us were spending most of our time away from Hong Kong, it was thought we needed new blood.  The topic was discussed at our last dinner and our new inductee was nominated and handily won over other candidates.  We wasted little time in getting him to host his very first dinner.

Megan's Kitchen (美味廚) was chosen as the venue - a location most of us know well, as we are friendly with the owner.  We were very much looking forward to some great food, and an evening of nothing but wines from Henri Jayer…

Appetizer Trio:
Deep-fried Bombay duck (椒鹽九肚魚) - the fillets are bigger than the strips I normally see, and not as melt-in-your mouth.  Delicious nonetheless.

Char siu OD

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I was craving for char siu last week and got into discussion on Twitter, and proposed to the group that we meet up for lunch today.  A few people put their hands up, and a reservation was made at Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant (富聲魚翅海鮮酒家).  It's a local favorite when it comes to dim sum, and their char siu has always been near the top of my list.

I arrived late and was surprised that the gang hadn't ordered anything to satisfy their cravings.  Once I sat down, I was immediately told by the Princess that I was not allowed to eat.  I was only allowed to eat whatever she gave me permission to eat.  Now that the ground rules have been set, I kept quiet and waited for her command…  At first, she told me that the only thing I could eat was the complimentary soy-marinated gluten (烤麩)

September 7, 2012

The bling-bling dragon

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I finally had the opportunity to take the Tiggers out to dinner tonight, and it didn't take me long to settle on the venue.  Tin Lung Heen (天龍軒) has been an itch I wanted to scratch a box I wanted to check off for some time, because it had generated so much buzz since the time of its opening.  Of course its location within the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong - on the 102th floor of ICC - gives diners a spectacular view.  I've heard mostly negative reviews regarding the food, and have held off trying it for myself until I felt the timing was right.  Finally, the Rubberman decided to give it a macaron in the current edition of his dining guide, just months after opening.

Tigger and I pulled up at the hotel entrance and stepped out of Mrs. Tigger's brand-spanking-new Mercedez AMG C63 Black Series.  As we attempted to walked through the glass doors, Tigger was stopped and questioned by hotel staff as to where we were going.  Not having made the reservation himself, he didn't know the name of the restaurant and I had to come to his rescue.  So… are we now not allowed into the hotel unless we have a clear purpose or a reason to be here?  I don't remember this being the case when I last visited the hotel.  The only hotel I remember visiting that has a stricter door policy is the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

Once seated at our table by the window, the night time view was certainly pretty - despite the fact that we were looking directly at Stonecutter's Island and the military barracks.  The Tsing Ma Bridge is in the distance and we were watching planes take-off and land at the airport.  My view of the restaurant interior showcased a collection of wine bottles along the wall, interspersed with decorative elements designed to reflect as much light as possible.  Despite the relative soft level of ambient lighting and the use of dark wood elements, the environment was in fact very bling.  Perhaps there is some element of truth in another friend's remark from earlier in the day - that the hotel was designed to cater to visitors from the Strong Country.

September 5, 2012

Slaughtering fat sheep in Kowloon

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I'm back in Hong Kong again on business, and spent a full day being locked up in a conference room going through meeting after meeting.  At the end of the long day, my friendly neighborhood investment bankers took me out to dinner.  I was asked to suggest the venue, and chose Kowloon Tang (九龍廳) since we were already in the area and I'm a big fan of sister restaurant Island Tang (港島廳).

The manager came over and proffered a "suggested menu".  First item I noticed was the steamed Napoleon wrasse (清蒸蘇眉).  Besides being in the "Avoid" category on the World Wildlife Fund's seafood list, there really wasn't a good reason for us to have such an expensive fish.  I immediately downgraded this item.  The manager also suggested double-boiled soup with fish maw, black mushroom and heart of green (花膠北菇燉菜膽).  Dishes involving fish maw veer towards the expensive side, and again I downgraded to something a little more reasonably priced.

At this point I am starting to feel like a fat sheep again… Yes, we look like a bunch of bankers in suits entertaining a guest from the Strong Country, but hey… even investment bankers' entertainment budgets are under a little pressure during these hard times, and there's no need to shove all the expensive stuff down our throats!  I hate it when restaurant staff come with dollar signs in their eyes…

August 30, 2012

A weak performance

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I did something unforgivable last week: I stood someone up for dinner.  I had made plans to check out the Japanese restaurant at the newly-opened Okura Hotel in Taipei for some tempura, and was really looking forward to that dinner - or so I thought.  I ended up changing my return flight from Hong Kong to the day of the dinner, but was too scatterbrained to remember that I had an engagement…

So as my friend sat in the restaurant wondering where I was - and getting no joy trying to raise me via phone or text messaging - he was smart enough to check on Facebook to see that I had just checked in at the Hong Kong International Airport minutes before our appointed dinner time.    Fortunately he was able to call someone on the spot and avoided the disaster of dining alone.  I, of course, only discovered my terrible deed upon landing and seeing the missed calls and texts.  Needless to say I apologized profusely…

Still wanting to get together for dinner, I asked to try out some place new for sushi, so my friend suggested that we meet at Shunsai (旬採).  He was, in fact, at the very same restaurant yesterday when we made plans to meet up, but he was kind enough to accompany me tonight for dinner.  I was looking forward to discovering yet another quality place in Taipei.

August 23, 2012

Steak and wine birthday

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I'm back in Hong Kong for a last-minute trip after spending just two days in Taipei, and came back just in time to dodge a typhoon join the birthday dinner of an old friend.  I've known the birthday boy ojisan for some 17 years, ever since I first arrived in Hong Kong.  Our group of friends have known each other for long periods of time, and have been pretty tight-knit throughout.  There is something to be said about long-lasting friendships…

The birthday boy wanted steak, and asked to try out Grand Hyatt Steakhouse.  I've heard the buzz about this place ever since it opened, but as I'm not big on steaks - unlike someone I know - I never found the urge to check the place out.

We started with some big chunks of garlic bread.  I find garlic pretty irresistible, but don't have many opportunities to chomp on garlic bread much.  These were very yummy with crispy crusts.  I took down two of these tonight…

August 19, 2012

Spice up your life

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If there's one major Chinese cuisine missing from my regular diet, it's Sichuanese.  I was brought up without spicy food, and over the years I've gradually gone from zero tolerance to being able to take in some heat.  However, I still do not actively look for spicy food, especially the likes of Sichuanese or Hunanese.  Occasionally I will tag along when someone really wants it.

Mrs. Tigger was hankering for some spicy food, so we met up at Golden Valley (駿景軒) in the Emperor (Happy Valley) Hotel.  Believe it or not, this dining outlet inside the hotel with a long and somewhat colorful reputation has got itself a little macaron from the tire man.  I've dined here a few times before the honor was bestowed, and I thought the food really wasn't bad at all.

I was pretty glad that the original plans of doing hotpot were nixed, so that we would be ordering à la carte.  This meant I would have the opportunity to see what the kitchen can deliver.

Sautéed green chili with vinegar (虎皮尖椒) - at first this was deceptively mild.  It's only after having had a couple of these that the real heat catches up with you.  I blame the black beans…

August 18, 2012

Burning down the house

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I was getting together with a couple of foodie friends today, and someone suggested Gold by Harlan Goldstein as the venue.  It just so happened that Harlan had pinged me a couple of weeks ago, telling me that I should come try out his new dishes.  So what do you do when you're in need of a table for a Saturday night, and happen to be on friendly terms with the chef of a popular and difficult-to-book restaurant?  You shameless beg the chef for a table, of course!

I try not to do it often, and honestly there are only a couple of places around town where I feel brave enough to do so, but somehow I always end up asking the Boss Man for a table… and he's always been kind and accommodating.

Along the way, we lost one of the crew to an Indian wedding, so I decided to rope in My Favorite Cousin, since she's always up for a good meal and I know she enjoys going to Gold.  After I extended the invitation, I realized that I would be totally outnumbered by 3 Aussies… Yikes!

Big isn't always beautiful

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I'm back at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) for lunch with Tigger and family.  It's one of my favorite places for dim sum, and I haven't been here in a while, so naturally I was pretty excited about this visit.

We have a relatively big group today, although if I actually counted there weren't actually that many mouths to feed.  We ordered up a storm anyway…

Steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf (鮮荷葉飯) - this was ordered and arrived first, since some of us had to leave early and stomachs needed filling fast.  Very delicious but what a huge portion!  One of us ended up with 6 bowls of this…

August 17, 2012

How to ruin a Krug wine dinner

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Many weeks ago, my dear friends at WOM had extended a very kind invitation for me to attend a dinner they were hosting in conjunction with Champagne Krug.  The dinner would be attended by a small circle of Hong Kong's English language bloggers, and I was naturally delighted to have received the invitation.  Free Krug and food from 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo, one of my favorite restaurants… was there any reason for me to not show up?!

Unfortunately, yes.  A last-minute flood of work meant that I couldn't fly in from Taipei for the dinner on that fateful Friday evening, and I missed the opportunity to spend some time with my friends I Love Lubutin and e_ting.  My consolation price was reading about it here.  Or so I thought.

There was to be another dinner tonight, with a totally different crowd and venue.  My dear friends from WOM extended the invitation a second time, and this time I made sure that I would not miss this opportunity.

A somewhat unsatisfying lunch

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I flew back to Hong Kong last evening for a few days, just in the nick of time to solidify my reputation as the "typhoon magnet".  I have now run into 3 typhoons in 3 different cities for 3 consecutive weeks, including flying into Shanghai for a date with Typhoon Haikui last week.  Let's hope I don't run into any more of them next week…

I had arranged to meet up with a few of my close friends for lunch today, and was kinda looking forward trying out something special at Yung Kee (鏞記酒家), a restaurant I've been to many times.  Unfortunately, I was on the receiving end of some extremely efficient service from China Travel Service, and ended up being 40 mins late.  I was feeling pretty bad at this point…

I sat down to catch my breath, while Legolas Jr. went about confirming the dishes with one of the captains.  We had pre-ordered two dishes, but the captain came back to tell us that only one had been reserved - and the missing dish was actually the one we really wanted to try.  For me, it was the main reason why we even chose to come to Yung Kee today.

August 11, 2012

Virgin mud crabs and other goodies

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My good friends are in town for a couple of days, and after our last experience, I promised to take them to another classic Taiwanese joint for dinner.  Ming Fu (明福台菜海鮮) is famous for some of their premium dishes, but I chose not to pre-order them since I wasn't particular interested in shark's fin, chicken testicles or bull penises.  Nevertheless, there's plenty of other goodies on the menu to make me happy.

I was presented with two complimentary starters as I sat down, which was perfect since I was starving after a whole day of eating nothing but a small pack of crackers.

Dried sakura shrimp (櫻花蝦) - perfect to go along with some alcohol.

August 10, 2012

Bordeaux vs. Napa

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After a very enjoyable evening together a few weeks ago, our little group made plans to get together again tonight.  Once again, steak was the order of the night, and we met at Toscana in the Sherwood Hotel.  I haven't dined here for more than a decade, so it was an opportunity for me to see how things have changed.  The organizer had pre-ordered the beef, and I looked forward to having some dry-aged beef.

We started by sharing some tipico risotto di porcini e fungi con anatra foie gras croccante.  This was a reasonably rich dish, with pan-fried duck foie gras on top of the porcini mushroom risotto.  The risotto was OK.  I have pretty low expectations for this dish in Asia.  Yes, it was wet.  Yes, the rice was somewhat hard, not overcooked and soggy.  But it wasn't al dente.  Not the way it is at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo.  Oh well, at least it tasted good so I shouldn't complain too much.

August 8, 2012

Typhoon shelter in Shanghai

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I scheduled some meetings in Shanghai at the last minute, and ended up flying in last night without realizing that a typhoon was on its way here.  I guess that's what happens when you're in a place like Chongqing and don't pay attention to what is happening outside the city... and have limited news sources thanks to being in China.

Typhoon Haikui was battering Zhejiang and the surrounding areas, and my return flight to Taipei was rescheduled to very late at night.  Fortunately I was able to find refuge with a very old and dear friend, who allowed me to camp out at her apartment for a few hours.  As dinner time rolled around, we decided to take a short walk to nearby Xintiandi (新天地) and see what dining options were available on a night like this.

My friend almost led us into Din Tai Feng (鼎泰豐), but fortunately we hesitated and ended up at Xiao Nan Guo (小南國) next door.  Don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with Din Tai Feng.  In fact, I love going there.  But Xiao Nan Guo is a much better choice for someone coming from Taipei.  Not surprisingly, my dear friend and I ordered a little too much food…

July 28, 2012

The show from Danny Boy(le)

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So it's been four years since the Beijing Olympics, and we've had another edition of the opening ceremonies.  I actually got up to watch the show in its entirety, after watching the ceremonies for the first time four years ago.  I did have a few words to say about some of the elements of that show, which I hoped would not be repeated four years later by the Brits.

Let's face it, Beijing pulled out all the stops four years ago, and it's gonna be tough to top that show.  However, I don't think that was the aim of director Danny Boyle, and the results were pretty evident.  I thought it was interesting that we were taken through the different stages of how the British isles were transformed from a rural, agrarian society through the industrial movement, then onto modern day.

I can see why some of the world's audience may not "get" parts of the show.  I didn't quite get the segment about NHS and GOSH, but I guess that was a lead-in to the segment on children's literature.    There was a lot of rock 'n' roll and pop music throughout - especially during the jukebox segment - which was no doubt easier for people like myself to enjoy.

July 26, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

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It's been a few years since the last time the Ox and I were both in Taipei at the same time, and we had a rare opportunity to catch up outside of Hong Kong.  The task of picking a venue fell on my shoulders, and I decided to finally check out la FESTA.

There was a good amount of hype surrounding last year's opening of la FESTA, much in the same vein as STAY.  Both restaurants are joint-ventures between chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants and local partners, which in this case is Igor Macchia of La Credenza outside Turin.  I've had a tough time finding a decent Italian place in Taipei, so I figured it was high time I came and tried my luck.

Neither of us wanted a lot of food, so we both took the simplest of the three set menus.  I was initially tempted to order à la carte, but figured I should try out a few more dishes through the set menu.

July 17, 2012

TEDx: my 16 minutes of fame

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I first found out about TED over a year ago, when a friend visiting from Europe raved about the organization and its enlightening talks, and encouraged me to download the app on my iPhone so I could watch some of the talks.  Well... I didn't check out TED for a long time, although it was always in the back of my mind and I kinda got a sense of what it was about.  And no, we're not talking about the Hollywood movie focusing on a certain teddy bear with an attitude...

I was pretty surprised when I was contacted by one of the organizers of TEDxVictoriaHarbour late last year.  Apparently I was found to be interesting and worthy enough to be a speaker at a TEDx event.  To be honest, I was kinda scratching my head a little, because I had always thought that speakers at these events were people with inspirational messages, who had vision or who were trying to do some good, change the world...etc.  I'm just a guy who likes to travel and eat.  What inspirational message could I possibly deliver?!

July 16, 2012

Finally, the right Danny

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I'm back in Taipei and met up with a friend for dinner and some wine.  I was introduced to a fellow wine lover over dinner, and this would turn out to be a very enjoyable evening for the 3 of us.  I finally got my chance to check out Danny and Company, run by the famous steak specialist Danny Deng.

Believe it or not, I'm at a restaurant famous for their steaks and I actually didn't want any.  These guys only serve wagyu, which I try to stay away from due to the cows being grain-fed.  So I chose the set menu which offered an appealing alternative.

July 15, 2012

How every Sunday lunch should be

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I've been craving bone marrow for a couple of days now, and I've been looking around for a place where I could have it for lunch today.  Nowadays a number of joints around Hong Kong have this delicacy on their menus, which is something I'm pretty happy about.  Unfortunately, no one seems to be  serving it for lunch…

…which is when it really helps to be on friendly terms with a chef.  In times of desperation, I reach out to my chef friends and beg for a favor.  In this case I asked my friend David to set me up at his restaurant Bistronomique.  He very kindly indulged me, and got his staff to serve me items from his à la carte menu.

I was joined by the Specialist, who is another friend who very kindly indulged me by letting my satisfy my craving.  She also very kindly brought along a nice selection of wines, knowing that otherwise I probably would have gone through lunch dry.

July 14, 2012

My second favorite suckling pig

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It's been a few months since my last visit to Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), and certainly a long time since I last tasted their famous roast suckling pig - my second favorite pig in Hong Kong.  In fact I last had it over 2 years ago!  I must say I've been kinda missing it…  So I was very happy when Mr. and Mrs. Tigger invited me to dinner, since I know what Tigger likes…

Roast suckling pig (脆皮乳豬) - believe me you, this is an amazing pig.  All of us were hungry and dug in immediately.

July 13, 2012

(Not so) blind tasting

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It's been a while since the MNSC boys last got together for dinner, and what made tonight special was the fact that all 7 of us were able to come together.  This is a very rare occurrence nowadays, as 2 of us are stationed outside of Hong Kong, and another one of us is only in Hong Kong half the time.

Dr. Poon was our gracious host this evening, and unsurprisingly (to me at least) the chosen venue was the Hong Kong Club.  The unfortunate outcome of this choice of venue was that I was unable to bring my camera gear with me into the private room, and I'd been carrying the stuff around for an entire day! Sheeesh!

We started with some jamón ibérico, which was fine on its own but didn't work so well with our aged white Bordeaux… bringing out the waxy, plasticky flavors from the fat.

July 1, 2012

The delicious fragrance of blé noir

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I made a date to have lunch with a friend, and was given the task of choosing the venue.  While I thought about going somewhere to get some good local Canto stuff that I would have no hope of having in Taipei, I had a tough time choosing the right place.

I wanted a place where the two of us can actually sit for a while and talk, without being rushed to vacate our seats right after we're done with the food.  Dim sum would have been great, but kinda tough for just the two of us.  And I'd already gone to my old neighborhood favorite Tasty Congee & Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗) yesterday for my stir-fried flat rice noodles with beef (干炒牛河)

So it seemed like the perfect solution when La Crêperie de Hong Kong popped into my head.  I haven't had a good galette in long time, and it sure ain't somethin' I'm gonna get in Taipei!

June 30, 2012

A-salting the palate

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I'm back in Hong Kong spending some time with Tigger and family, and we went to Sushi Kato (寿司加藤) for dinner.  It's a little out of my usual patrol area, but apparently Mrs. Tigger used to come here a lot many years ago.  Given I'm with old regulars, I decided it would be wise to let them do the ordering.

The amuse bouche was herring roe (数の子) with Chinese cabbage. The young sansho leaves (木の芽) provided a really nice kick...

June 25, 2012

Destination wedding Bali day 3: lunch and go

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A lazy morning after a late night of partying.  Hung out in the villa cabana and surfed the net, while I waited for lunch time to roll around.  My two-day stay in beautiful, sunny Bali is coming to an end.

I head back to the Warung for lunch, and take in the wonderful view of the deep blue sky.  I enjoy the last few moments I have at the Alila Villas Uluwatu.

June 24, 2012

Destination wedding Bali day 2: east over west

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After a late night, it was late morning when I opened my eyes.  I decided to hang out in my villa and get some use out of it for once…

There was a plate of local fruits in my room, and I decided to have it as breakfast.  The mini bananas were somewhat ripe.  The carambola was ripe and reasonably juicy.  Salak has never been my favorite, as it's always too sour and I don't like the texture in my mouth.  The mangosteen was ripe and juicy, and it's been a while since I last had some.  My favorite fruit in Bali is the local passion fruit.  I just love the fresh, subtle fragrance and delicate flavors - in stark contrast to the intense flavors of "normal" passion fruit that we are used to seeing.


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