December 30, 2013

Gathering the clan

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Tonight was a very special evening.  There hasn't been a gathering of my clansmen (and clanswomen) of this scale since... EVER!  The last time there were a good many of us in Taipei at the same time was more than a decade ago, when grandma passed on.  Tonight we almost achieved a full count - only one cousin was missing.  Some of the cousins were meeting for the very first time... and the youngest in my generation has already graduated from college.  A decade ago we went from three generations to two.  We are now happily back to three generations, as the latest addition to the family came a couple of years ago.

For a gathering of this size, it's a no-brainer that we're gonna do Chinese.  Since our youngest cousins have never set foot in Taiwan, it seemed appropriate to do this over a Taiwanese meal.  The Orchid Room (蘭花廳) at Brother Hotel (兄弟飯店) has long had a reputation for delivering quality Taiwanese fare, although I honestly can't remember my last meal there myself.  This would be a good opportunity to check it out.

One of the banquet menus was chosen, as there were 16 of us... As it turned out, I didn't think it was particularly Taiwanese...

Mullet roe and the seven fairies (烏魚子七仙女) - classic Taiwanese fare on an appetizer platter, including mullet roe, cuttlefish, marinated jellyfish, goose, vegetarian goose... etc.  I can't believe that my Birdbrain Cousin felt that my original arrangement wasn't pretty enough, and dared to stick her chopsticks into my food... Sheeesh!

Dirty duck

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It's my first trip back to Taiwan since 3 months ago, and since that time Florentijn Hofman's Rubber Duck Project has moved from Kaoshiung (高雄) to Taoyuan (桃園), and is now parked in Keelung Harbor (基隆港).  I kinda regret not heading down to Kaoshiung to see him back in September, so I was most certainly not gonna miss seeing Ducky in Keelung!

I took the train from Taipei Main Station (台北車站), and got off when the train reached the end of the line at Keelung.  The train station is right next to the harbor, and I saw a yellow blob right after stepping outside.  Within 3 minutes I was at Keelung Maritime Plaza (基隆海洋廣場) and facing Ducky.

For the last few days I had seen news reports about how dirty Ducky's gotten.  Keelung is a narrow harbor with lots of ships passing through, and the wet weather over the last couple of weeks meant all that pollution got stuck on Ducky's body.  Crews have been working hard to scrub Ducky clean, but it hasn't been easy.  Sure enough, large areas were still kinda blackish, and one half of Ducky's face was cleaner than the other half...  Poor Ducky, got so dirty after only 10 days...

December 29, 2013

White truffle for mom

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I was getting mentally ready for my Christmas Eve dinner, sitting around in the office, when an idea popped into my head.  Why not bring some white truffle home to mom?  It's in season and would make a very special treat for her.  I could cook something simple at home, and just shave the little tuber on top.

But it was 5pm on Christmas Eve... Hong Kong was going to be closed for the next 2 days, and I was flying home on the 27th.  Where would I get a white truffle on such short notice?

Fortunately I was on my way to On Lot 10 to pick up my dinner, so I asked David if he could spare me a small truffle.  Being the nice guy that he is, he very kindly obliged me.

December 26, 2013

Random Boxing Day lunch

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I Love Lubutin finally has a day off from work, so we decided to do lunch together.  She suggested that I pick "somewhere that I normally wouldn't go", and the original thinking was to venture far away from the center of town.  For a variety of reasons, we ended up in Causeway Bay, and were walking towards somewhere when I started throwing out random restaurant names in the neighborhood.  Red Pepper Restaurant (南北樓) was one of the names I shouted out, and somehow that seemed to stick...

We always joke that Red Pepper is a "gweilo restaurant" that one only goes with expats and tourists... much like American Restaurant (美利堅餐廳).  In fact, the only time I was there must have been at least 7 or 8 years ago, and I DID go with a bunch of expats.  None of my local friends, and certainly no "foodie" friend, ever talk about going there... since the food isn't really "authentic" and the decor looks like it belongs in a Chinatown.  Like American Restaurant, the clientele is predominantly expats and tourists.  I must have walked past it a hundred times during all these years, and never once had the urge to push the doors open and walk in.

But hey, it fits the description of "somewhere I don't normally go" perfectly, so why not?!

December 24, 2013

Christmastime for orphans

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It's Christmas Eve, and once again I'm in Hong Kong instead of being with my parents in Taipei.  The good thing about this year, though, is that I'm not in the middle of a fund launch, and won't have to go back to the office in the middle of dinner... like I did last year!

This year I decided that I would spend Christmas Eve with my Dearest Favorite Birdbrain Cousin, who's also got nobody to spend it with.  After all, it IS a time for family gathering!  Not wanting to fight the crowd and pay outlandish prices for all those special set dinners, I decided that it would be best if we just did something casual at home.  I also haven't seen Wolfie for a couple of years, and this would give me a chance to spend some quality time with the mutt.

Since this is Christmas Eve and not Christmas Day, I didn't wanna spend a lot of time and effort cooking, though, as we'd both still be working during the day.  So I checked with my friend David from On Lot 10 to see if I could get one of his roast chickens to takeaway.  I was ever so thankful that David obliged me...

The taxi driver must have hated me all the way from the restaurant to my cousin's apartment, because the smell of the roast chicken was simply incredible.  I got hungrier and hungrier by the minute, while I kept a close eye on the chicken during the bumpy ride.  I couldn't wait to arrive at my destination and to dig in!

December 23, 2013

A fighter till the end

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It's the final MNSC dinner of the year, and it's down to the wire... not just the two-way race at the top, but also the three-way mêlée for last place.  No one wants to distinction of finishing last and being stuck with secretarial duties for next year, so there was a lot at stake.

Pineapple loves the food at Hong Kong Club, so we're back here for another edition after that bunch of 60-year-old wines three years ago.  The problem with coming to Hong Kong Club is that they sometimes hassle you about the bag that you're carrying, insisting that you check it at the door.  As there was a likelihood of not being able to carry my camera up to the dining table, I decided to leave my gear at home... and rely on my trusty lil' iPhone instead.

Caesar salad, shaved Parmesan, focaccia croûton

December 20, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 5: repetition at André

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Tonight was my eagerly anticipated return to Restaurant André.  Mr. Ho and I were completely blown away by the food on our first visit back in May, and the Specialist had arranged for this to be her last dinner in Singapore - since it was meant to be the highlight of her trip.

I was a little apprehensive, however, as a friend from Hong Kong told me that when he visited a few months after my visit, the menu he had was largely the same as mine.  Would I be having the same dishes again tonight, 7 months later?

The answer was a resounding "YES".

December 19, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 4: flying pigeon

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I'd heard about Gunther's for a long time, as Chef Gunther Hubrechsen had done a stint at Les Amis a number of years ago.  People in foodie circles have been talking about this place for a long time, but once again, I haven't had a chance to visit due to my absence from Singapore.  That would change tonight.

I did zero research before stepping foot in the restaurant tonight, so I was surprised to find out that the menu was all à la carte.  Our server wanted to introduce us to the specials of the day, so he brought over a huge tray bearing the fresh ingredients available - which kinda reminds me of steakhouses like Morton's...

Makan 2013 Day 4: old and new favorites

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I rolled out of bed and decided to take a break from jogging this morning, which meant I was able to shift my eating schedule a little earlier.  I decided to head to one of my old favorites for breakfast.  Ever since the late 90s, every trip to Singapore has involved a visit to Killiney Kopitiam, and it's a ritual that I intend to keep to.  They may not have the best kaya toast in town, but I've been going there for so long there's really no need for me to switch.

I hopped into a cab and headed for the "original" shop on Killiney Road.  I'm due to have a big lunch, so I passed up the opportunity to get my nasi lemak fix this morning in favor of something "lighter"...

French toast - I always get this when I come here.  One piece of battered and fried toast, and you melt a pat of butter over it, then lather it up with the shop's kaya.  Wonderful stuff.  Of course they never give me enough kaya...

December 18, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 3: Iggy pop

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The fine dining leg of my trip begins tonight, with a long-overdue return to Iggy's.  I went to Iggy's a couple of times between 2005 and 2006, and liked the modern, more innovative style of cuisine.  I was not surprised to see it receive accolades in the subsequent years, but I never had many chances to return due to my absence from Singapore.  This trip, though, I thought it was high time I revisited the place and see if it's still as good as it was.

Two out of three of us tonight are on diet (well... I'm temporarily off the reservation this week), so we chose the shorter menu with 6 courses.  We figured it would be enough to allow us to judge the overall quality of the cuisine.

Wakasagi, dill salt, tomato beer - not sure what, if any, the connection between the two was...

December 17, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 2: modern Peranakan

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Dinner time rolled around, and I met up with a some foodie friends from Singapore.  At the organizer's suggestion we went to Candlenut, which had reopened and attracted polarizing reactions among lovers of Peranakan cuisine.  The chef's more modern take on the venerable Peranakan cuisine meant a lighter touch with the sauces and spices, and naturally elicited strong reactions from the traditionalists.  As for me... I'm always up for checking out modern takes on traditional cuisine, and in fact prefer chefs with enough creativity to stir things up a little.  Besides trusting my friend's palate, this place also came recommended by Aun at Chubby Hubby - and I definitely trust HIS palate.

My friend had arranged something special with the chef, which included 13 savory dishes and 5 desserts.  I was kinda starving as I arrived at the restaurant, so this was music to my ears!

Kueh pie tee - we were given empty pastry shells in the shape of chef's toques...

Makan 2013 Day 2: old local favorites

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I woke up this morning feeling physically drained, so I allowed myself the luxury of not hauling my ass out of bed to jog off the calories.  I guess I'll do that tomorrow morning, after a heavy day of eating today...

I putzed around the apartment in the morning, spending a little bit of time with my aunt who's putting me up.  Eventually I headed out for a very pretty late breakfast, riding out to the middle of Singapore island to find one of the things I just can't get outside of Singapore and Malaysia - decent roti prata.

The last time I went to The Roti Prata House on Upper Thomson Road was almost 10 years ago, just before I moved out of Singapore back to Hong Kong.  It's been touted by many to be among the top roti prata outlets in town, and I have fond memories of the place.  On a trip two years ago, I was just about to get into a taxi to head there when a last-minute phone call from a client derailed my plans.  I've been hankering to go back ever since.  I'm a creature of habit, and I knew exactly what I wanted even before I walked in.

Kopi tarik - you just can't do prata without a teh or kopi tarik.  It's been too long...

December 16, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 1: farang dinner

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So here goes... My week in Singapore.  Why am I here?  Well... I guess I just wanted to be somewhere else other than Hong Kong, and be away from the office for a few days.  There are a lot of friends and family I can visit in Singapore, and I haven't seen enough of most of them for the last few years.  Of course, there's always food - a good selection of both international fine dining as well as the local stuff.

I arrived late in the afternoon, after a long and slightly tortuous journey - during which I made an unintended stopover at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport.  I HATE stopping over in Bangkok, because they won't let you get off the freakin' plane.  You are stuck on the plane for more than an hour, during which time the cleaning crew come and do their work, and you're not allowed to roam around and can't even use the toilets.  I didn't look carefully enough before booking the cheap tickets online, and this is what I get.

Anyway, I got settled into my relatives' nice apartment with a gorgeous view overlooking Keppel Island and Sentosa, and when dinner time rolled around, led them to Thanying at the Amara Singapore Hotel for their first taste of this old Singaporean favorite.

I deferred to the elders for ordering, as I know they're not as adventurous as I am, and only requested 1 little appetizer...that failed miserably...

Miang pla-tu - this is an appetizer where you're meant to mix and match the ingredients as you'd like, and wrap it all in a leaf along with the sticky sauce made with palm sugar and tamarind.  I mixed in pieces of fried mackerel, peanuts, galangal, lime...etc.  Not bad.

December 15, 2013

Goin' off the reservation

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A friend of mine pinged us out of the blue a couple of days ago, announcing that he was back in Hong Kong for a few days and that he would like to get together with us for dinner.  While I haven't seen him in a while and always enjoy dining with him, this is kinda bad news for me.

I'm about to go on a week-long trip to Singapore, where I'm just gonna hang out with friends and just eat.  It's no longer about having a couple of cheat meals next week - I'm totally going off the reservation - and tonight's meal just gets me started one day early...

Since the cholesterol sandwich was no longer an option, I suggested that we meet at Guo Fu Lou (國福樓).  These guys have earned themselves a well-deserved macaron, and I was excited about going back after my first visit 2 months ago.

Our friend's moved to Korea for the last couple of years, and we got to talking about how, when you move to other countries, it's always the really cheap and local Cantonese stuff that you miss... because it can't be found elsewhere.  High-end Cantonese isn't an issue in many countries, but just you try ordering a simple plate of good char siu...  With that in mind, we decided to go for some of the more homey dishes tonight.

Deep-fried bean curd with spicy salt (椒鹽脆豆腐) - uh... methinks they were a little overzealous with the frying...  I don't need my tofu to be THAT crispy...

December 14, 2013

A hazy shade of winter

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I've been remiss in keeping in touch with some friends, and haven't seen them in over a year.  I finally found some time to round them up for lunch today, and figured we should go have some dim sum at Above and Beyond (天外天).  I figured since a couple of us were on the Dark Side, we could meet up over here once in a while.

We were up on the 28th floor, with a nice view over Hung Hom and Victoria Harbor.  Unfortunately the skies were very hazy today, and it wasn't the usual beautiful view.

We ordered mostly a series of dim sum items, and ended up adding when particular items weren't enough to ensure each of us could have a taste.

December 13, 2013

Losing mojo

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It was supposed to be our last lunch with him.  There had been persistent rumors that Jeremy Evrard, our beloved mâitre d' at Caprice, would be leaving Hong Kong.  We had recently heard that Jeremy would be leaving at the end of the year, so we hurriedly booked a table at our beloved restaurant so we could see him one last time.

I was greeted at the door by a hostess who knew me by sight, which is always a nice touch.  Once I stepped foot in the restaurant, I saw Peter and was immediately relieved.  Another familiar face who could take care of us.  But there was no sign of Jeremy, the person we had come to see, and we were sad to learn that he was taking the day off.

The plan had been to do a cheese lunch, but with Jeremy MIA we eventually decided to stick with the set lunch and have cheese in lieu of dessert.  I do have to say, though, that there weren't many dishes on the set lunch menu that jumped out at me... and minutes later I would be accused of being a "copycat" by No Fork Use as I ordered exactly the same dishes as she did...

"Crispy puff pastry" with Mimolette powder and creamy jamón ibérico filling - not bad, but the éclair was not very crispy.  I had to chuckle when my chef friend at the table commented that it tasted like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers...

December 12, 2013

Where is my Riedel Sommelier?!

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Another month has gone by pretty fast, and time for another dinner with Mo' Unni.  It seems we are taking turns picking the venues, and she's decided to check out 121BC.  To be honest, I vaguely remember hearing about it (among the dozens of restaurants that had opened recently) and had no idea what the place was about - as I'm a total ignoramus and don't keep track of restaurants beyond the Not-So-Fragrant-Harbor.  But hey, Mo' Unni wants, Mo' Unni gets.

Upon arrival, I was led to our seats in the middle of the lone, long communal table.  I'd done a little research beforehand, so I knew this place was extremely casual.  Even so, I didn't expect it to be essentially a bar... which is what it really is, more than a restaurant.

We scanned the chalkboard on the wall for the dishes they have available today.  This is a night out with No Fish, so the sardines and mullet are off the table... and we picked non-fishy items instead.

Octopus, potato, olive - pretty good.  The octopus tentacles were very tender, and tons of smoky and charred flavors here.

December 11, 2013

The long lunch

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For the last few years I've been getting invitations to join some friends for a "long lunch" in mid-December.  A bunch of wine lovers take half a day of work, get together and unwind as we close out the year.  Unfortunately for one reason or another, I've never been able to attend in past years.  This year, though, I decided that I needed a break from work... so I put my hand up and asked the boss for a half-day off.

I arrived at Hong Kong Wine Vault and headed for the rooftop.  The weather turned out to be real nice today, and as the sun came out the temperature actually got pretty warm.  More than 20 of us gathered at lunch today, including most of the MNSC boys.  The Ox had arranged for the Press Room to cater the event since there were barbecue grills on premise, and we had plenty of food to go around.  I nibbled on some corn on the cob, yummy, fatty lamb chops, sliders, barbecued chicken wings... but kept my food intake in moderation.

The three co-hosts had all celebrated their 40th birthdays this year, and were rolling out some birth vintage wines along with others.  Some of the guests brought along other interesting bottles, and as usual some of us went downstairs to dig out more bottles from our cellars as the day progressed.  This would turn out to be a real eclectic mix...

December 8, 2013


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Year end is always busy season for the MNSC boys, as half the birthdays are bunched up in the last quarter.  Two weeks after our last mind-blowing tasting, we're back sitting at the same table and, surprisingly, sharing it with the wives.  Time to tone down the conversation... =P

Juliano played host and called us to China Tang (唐人館), the new outlet opened by the foodie tycoon. Normally I would have waited a little before visiting a place this new, but I was actually curious to see how it positions itself versus the other Tang cousins around town.  I'm a big fan of Island Tang (港島廳), and apparently this is meant to sit slightly higher up on the scale...

We started with some nibbles and appetizers:

Pan-fried Shanghainese dumplings (上海生煎包) - not a fan.  The dough was just too soggy, mushy and stuck to my teeth, and that ain't the way it's done in Shanghai.

December 7, 2013

Junk food day

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Two weeks after the last time I hit my new low in terms of weight - and subsequently rebounding after numerous cheat meals - I've finally brought my weight down enough to hit a new low.  I honestly can't remember the last time I weighed this little... probably would have to go back 4 or 5 years, maybe more.

So it was entirely appropriate that once again, I found myself at I Love Lubutin's home for a little gathering.  The last time I was here, my weight had also hit a new low that very morning after jogging, and subsequently bounced up after indulging in yummy food...

I was running errands and arrived pretty late... and I was starving by the time I showed up at the door.  When you're on a diet, you never wanna be at a point where you starve... becos what happens next becomes animal instinct...

December 3, 2013

Shrinking Boy, four months in

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It's now 4 months since I started on my diet, and I've made a little more progress during the last month, which is meant to be the "maintenance" phase of the program.  I was, of course, not really interested in just maintaining my weight, and wanted to keep going down.

Weight loss so far: 8.5kg.
Unlike the first three months when I was losing 2.5kg a month consistently, this past month has been much more difficult.  My weight's basically been like a yo-yo... swinging up and down within a range while trying to push lower.  A string of big dinners - three over the course of the week, all at the same restaurant - really didn't help.  I had lost up to 9kg the very morning before the first of those three meals, only to experience the biggest spike up during the last four months.

November 28, 2013

Three smiles of the Seventh Son: BYO... fish?

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Finally... the third installment of my week at Seventh Son (家全七福).  This dinner came about at the instigation of a chef friend, who responded to a thread on FB by suggesting that I should share my wines with friends like Da Jam.  I wasted no time in rounding up a few people who are all friends with Da Jam - who would also drink a reasonable amount - and it was suggested that we they check out Seventh Son.  At the time this arrangement was made, I had no idea that this would result in my being here three times in a week...

The date was chosen because it was the earliest date that all of us would be available, and I had given absolutely no thought to the fact that it was to be Thanksgiving evening - having gotten used to not having much turkey for the last 2 decades.  Once I realized the coincidence, I knew exactly which dish to pre-order for us...

Pan-fried minced pork and lotus root patties (香煎蓮藕餅) - these were pretty good.  There was enough diced bits of lotus root inside to be noticeable and give it some degree of crunchiness, but it was still mostly a pork patty.  I thought it was better than what I had at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), but still prefer the really crunchy version at Guo Fu Lou (國福樓) for now.

November 26, 2013

St. John's Horde

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For years, St. John in London has been on top of my hit list for London.  The restaurant's famed roast bone marrow and parsley salad has inspired numerous copies worldwide, including some in Hong Kong.  Unfortunately, as I am a much bigger fan of Froggyland than Rosbifland, I haven't stepped foot in London for more than 7 years.  So the nose-to-tail dining experience remained firmly out of reach, despite having recommended a number of friends to visit the establishment.

So when my friend Susan announced nearly two months ago that she's booked a table at the Blue Butcher on the night that Fergus Henderson was gonna be there, it took me only a minute to respond.  I wouldn't have missed this dinner for the world.

A few days later, I received a very kind offer for an interview slot with Fergus.  I thanked the lovely PR for the kind invitation, but in realty as I had never been to St. John and not actually experienced it for myself - and I don't own one of his cookbooks - I didn't feel qualified to interview him.  It was good enough for me to be at the restaurant eating the food.

November 24, 2013

Three smiles of the Seventh Son: Rayas massiiive

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Here we go again...  Mere hours after flushing the alcohol out of my system, I'm back at Seventh Son (家全七福) for another wine dinner... and dining in the exact same private room, as expected.  Even the captain was surprised to see me coming back so soon.

The MNSC boys gathered tonight as Lord Rayas played host, and a rare invitation was extended to the wives to join us.  We have been sticking to a strictly boys-only format for the last couple of years, and during dinner we were given a stern reminder of why that has been the case...

I was wondering how much overlap there would be between the menus from these two consecutive nights. While I was grateful that there was only about 2/3 overlap, I wasn't expecting to see one of the exotic dishes again tonight.  Methinks I've fulfilled my turtle quota for at least the next year...

Some appetizers to start:
Roast gold coin chicken (燒金錢雞) - this combination of chicken liver, bacon fat and char siu (叉燒) wasn't bad but kinda skimpy in my book.  I'm still partial to what I get at Manor Seafood (富瑤海鮮酒家).

November 23, 2013

Three smiles of the Seventh Son: very belated celebration

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So it begins.  Through pure coincidence, I will be spending 3 nights over the following week dining at the same restaurant.  Given that it's Chinese and the menu has been set by the hosts on two of those nights, I wonder how many repeat dishes there would be.  In all honesty, though, this is a "First World problem"… given that the restaurant in question is Seventh Son (家全七福) - which should be one of the best Cantonese restaurants in town.

Tonight's gathering was a belated birthday dinner - VERY belated… by more than 6 months.  Apparently some of the guests had conflicting schedules which couldn't be resolved… until now.  Anyway, I'm just glad to be invited.  The birthday boy told me how many wines he was bringing to dinner, and I just knew that I'd be falling asleep at the table…

November 21, 2013

Ispahan, mon amour

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My love affair with Pierre Hermé - his creations, not the man himself! - began more than four years ago, when I first stepped foot into one of his Parisien boutiques.  I was staying around Saint Germain and it was an easy walk to get there.  While I got to taste his macarons and experienced the magic for the first time, that visit was a little disappointing.  Why?  They didn't have Ispahan, as it was "not in season".  Ispahan, of course, is one of the Fat One's most famous creations.  I left Paris that day with a certain sense of regret…

November 14, 2013

The rebound

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The King was making a rare appearance in Hong Kong, so naturally the bunch of us dutifully answered his call for dinner.  As it turned out we had a second visitor coming in from another city, making this gathering even more special.  Not surprisingly, we were back at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) despite the disastrous performance the restaurant delivered on my last visit.  No doubt BM had given them a piece of his mind, and told them to shape up or else…

Steamed xiaolongbao with crab roe (蟹粉小籠包) - I've always been a believer that one should eat xiaolongbao (小籠包) in one bite, and was pretty happy with my one mouthful.  Can't say that I tasted the crab roe all that much…

November 13, 2013

An old friend's new digs

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It was time to meet up with Mo' Unni again, and it's been nearly two months thanks to my diet and limited allocation of cheat meals.  She has a preference for checking out new venues, and wanted to go to Upper Modern Bistro.  I've known Philippe Orrico since his days at Pierre, and followed him to St. George a couple of times.  Over the last couple of years, though, I lost touch with him as I didn't care for the surroundings nor the service at St. George.

So I was pretty happy to hear that he's come out to open up his own place, and on the island, too!  As it happens, the mug that I use daily in the office looks like this…

...which is a picture that Tigger took in the kitchen at Pierre, on a day when we were horsing around after a cooking lesson.  Philippe was channeling his inner Gordon Ramsay, and I was his victim… But I digress…

November 12, 2013

270 Years of Moët & Chandon

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Moët and Chandon is celebrating their 270th anniversary, and is offering a batch of ex-château Grand Vintage Collection wines through Sotheby's in London.  The auction is slated for tomorrow, and the consignment consists of 270 bottles, 174 magnums and 3 jeroboams spanning from 2004 all the way back to 1914.  I was fortunate enough to have been invited to a pre-auction tasting of some of the wines at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, hosted jointly by Moët Hennessey Diageo and Sotheby's.

After mingling (or in my case, being aloof and anti-social) for a little while sipping on the first flute, we took our seats to start the main event.  We would go through 6 different wines tonight spanning a few decades…

November 11, 2013

Licking the plate clean

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It all started with an innocent post on Facebook.

Just days after I met up with him, the globetrotting Felix from QLI jetted off to Shanghai and put up a post about his meal at the new 58 Grill.  Apparently he had œufs en meurette for dinner, which is something I love but rarely have, because it's time-consuming to make.  I responded to the post, expressing my desire to have some eggs, and thought nothing of it.  Hours later while at dinner, a response came from Chef Richard Ekkebus, offering to make the dish for me at Amber the next time I had a craving.  A few rounds of messages back and forth, and I was havings eggs for lunch today.

My original plan was to rope in Tigger, as he is a big fan of Richard's and was seated next to me while this was going down.  Alas, the high flyer was busy today.  Fergie was also at dinner, but he was jetting off to a different time zone.  So I called on someone who I knew would appreciate the work that goes into a red wine reduction…

By the time I arrived at the appointed hour, I Love Lubutin is already seated in the Amber Bar.  Worse, she took the single-seater while leaving me with the loveseat, and as a result had no place to put her expensive handbag.  I had to convince her to place her bag on the ottoman…

Not surprisingly, we didn't have to do the ordering, as the menu has already been selected for us...

November 9, 2013

Cave dining

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Tonight I was invited to dine with some friends, old and new, by a gentleman in his new "man cave".  He had decided to convert a unit inside an industrial warehouse into his new hideaway, and generously invited us for the very first "boys night" in his cave.  It was a curious collection of car guys, watch guys, and food guys.

The gentleman of impeccable taste had managed to get dinner catered by Chef Antimo "Animal" Merone from L'Altro.  It's not exactly everyday that you find a chef with macarons putting together food in your kitchen…

Foie gras torchon with mango - pretty nice, but would be even better with a couple of grains of salt to season the foie that was marinated in Calvados.

November 3, 2013

The skinny duck

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I'm up in Beijing for a couple of days on a business trip, and have a free slot for dinner tonight.  It's been a little more than 2 months since Felix stopped by Hong Kong before moving to Beijing, and I thought it's high time I caught up with him.  After a couple of rounds of discussions - and disqualifying some venues due to timing issues - we settled on the new branch of DaDong Artistic Conception Food (大董中国意境菜) - a 3-storey building right at the East Entrance of the Beijing Worker's Stadium (工人体育场).

This is quite a palace that Mr. Da Dong has built for himself.  The entrance is quite dramatic - one either walks through a lawn with numerous lights as well as a couple of grazing horse statues, or drive through to the underground entrance, where the first scene encountered is an army of chefs roasting ducks in a central oven.  In the middle of the main dining room on the ground floor, there is a 2-storey high screen which loops through a video about - who else? - Mr. Da Dong and his philosophy.  Felix and I joked that in some scenes, instead of looking like a mild-mannered and cultured scholar, the boss ends up looking like the Shanghainese mafia of old…

I was a little flustered when I got to the table, and my first attempt at flipping through the menu left me bewildered.  The dishes seemed to be crammed into the first few pages of the tome, and it all seemed like information overload.  Fortunately, the same dishes appear on the remaining pages along with beautiful pictures, which made things a lot easier.

I wasn't particularly impressed by the duck when the chef came to Hong Kong last year, so I needed to see if I liked it any better here in the home base.  My last dinner left a pretty good impression in terms of the other dishes, as I found plenty of Western cooking techniques at work.  I was very curious on some of the more creative and fusion-looking dishes, and thankfully Felix was game.

Shrinking Boy, 3 months done!

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It's been exactly 3 months since I started my program, and the weight-loss phase is coming to an end.  I'm meant to do a 6-week "maintenance" phase from now on, but it doesn't mean I won't keep on losing more weight!

Final weight loss: 7.5kg.
True to form, my weight loss is about 2.5kg per month, although 6 days ago at my lowest weight I had lost about 8kg.  A couple of big meals right after passing my exam, as well as a lack of exercise, meant my weight rebounded over the last few days.

October 30, 2013

Supnormal evening

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It's been a few weeks since I last got together with the Specialist, as both of us had been studying hard for our exams.  As I was done with my exam and she needed to take a break from her studies, we figured we should gather the troops for a night out.  After debating through different venue possibilities, the Specialist settled on the new Sup 1, which has now re-opened on the western end of town after being booted out from Gough Street thanks to skyrocketing rent.

This was meant to be my lone cheat meal this week, but things didn't exactly go according to plan last night.  I was still gonna eat whatever I wanted tonight, but figured I could at least cut down on the quantity.

Not surprisingly we started with some sashimi, and I took a piece of the sea urchin and squid roll

October 29, 2013

The party crasher

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I've been studying for an exam for the last couple of weeks, and today was the big day.  I was kinda borderline failing the mock exam I took last night, so I got a little nervous and spent most of the workday hiding in a conference room studying.  While failing the exam wouldn't be the end of the world, I didn't exactly wanna look like an idiot in front of my boss.

So it was a little distracting when I received not one, but two invitations to dinner mere hours before my exam.  One of them came from my friend David Lai, who dangled the prospect of white truffles and who knows what else in front of me.  I thanked him but turned him down.  This is the last week of my 3-month weight-loss program, and I was already gonna have a cheat meal tomorrow.  No, I need to be a good boy.

After passing my exam in the afternoon, I finished up in the office and decided to head to On Lot 10 to make a delivery.  After dropping off the package with one of the guests, I made sure to thank David for his kind invitation, but said I was going home.  I needed to be a good boy, and besides, I didn't really know the guest of honor and most of the crowd.

That's when David said the magic words: "rice birds".

Now I knew I was staying for dinner.

October 28, 2013

The other Italian

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It was supposed to be a casual business lunch, and with a big group of us I was kinda expecting Cantonese.  However the partner at my service provider kinda realized that I enjoy my food, and decided to take us to L'Altro - the Italian restaurant not far from my office which has earned themselves a little macaron last year.  Given that I'd never been here before, it was an unexpected chance to check it out.

Going to a new restaurant is always a challenge while I'm on my diet, and the problem gets worse when it's a limited menu.  My colleague and I took some time trying to pick out the "lighter" choices from the list, although I think he had an easier time… since he didn't need to make sure he got all the food groups in.

October 25, 2013

A quiet Friday evening

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It's been a while since I last caught up with Rice and his wife, and I wanted to see them to celebrate their anniversary, however belatedly.  Rice was busy galloping around the world for the last few weeks, and finally had time to meet up tonight.  As he left the choice of venue to me, I decided to revisit someplace that I'd been wanting to return to.

When I stopped by Island East Markets last Sunday to pick up weekly ration of organic veggies and bread, I purposely pretended not to see Grégoire even though I know he had spotted me.  He was chatting with Jeremy from Mirror, and since I had already booked Mirror as the venue for tonight, I chose to stay away.  I wasn't sure if Jeremy would recognize me, but I rather preferred to be dining incognito tonight.  Most of my friends haven't been back to the restaurant since its early days, and I wanted to see whether things have changed, as they've gone through the gaining (and subsequent losing) of a macaron.

Well, turns out that Jeremy wasn't even in town!  He'd flown up to Shanghai for something, and announced it on FB.  Incognito it is.

I arrived to find the restaurant mostly empty and quiet, and in fact it stayed that way on this Friday night, with all of 12 covers.  I suppose that was good for us, as there was no problem getting anyone's attention.

Living with my Basis

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When I first started my diet/nutritional program, a friend suggested that I get myself a new fitness toy, as a way to motivate myself.  I was looking around at the usual suspects from Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin…etc.  But nothing I saw really appealed to me.  Having a GPS would be real nice, but that severely limited my choices.  Yes, I wanted a heart rate monitor, but didn't want to strap anything to my chest while I ran.  There didn't seem to be a single solution which combined a GPS with a wrist-based HRM.

Then someone posted a story about Soylent on my Facebook timeline.  While the story was interesting (I would never want to replace eating with drinking Soylent) what really caught my eye was a little gadget called Basis B1.  The thought of wearing something 24 hours a day and then analyzing how your body behaves suddenly seemed intriguing.  After doing some research online and reading a few reviews, I suddenly wanted one.  Since Basis themselves were kinda back ordered and wouldn't have shipped directly to Hong Kong anyway, I found someone on eBay who would.  The premium I paid was justifiable in my mind, so I bid on it, won, and patiently waited for the seller shipped it from the US via USPS…

There was a public holiday during my waiting period, and I took a few days off to spend it with my family back in Taipei.  After returning to HK, I eagerly checked my mailbox at work and finally found the package after some three weeks' of waiting…

October 22, 2013


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WARNING: this is a rant post.  Skip this if you are looking to read about some delicious food at a restaurant.  Also skip this if you are a someone who writes a food blog.  You may be offended, even though it wasn't my intention to offend you - unless you are a very particular someone who writes a food blog… in which case I don't give a flying fuck if you're offended.

October 15, 2013

What the Fook?!

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We did a belated birthday dinner for BM, even though I'd already attended another belated dinner for him 2 weeks ago.  It's the first time that the four of us - BM, Tigger, the Ox and me - have gotten together for a meal as a group.  The venue?  Some place where all of us are regulars - Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).

Since the Ox and I had just had dinner at Guo Fu Lou (國福樓) a mere two nights ago, he thought it'd be fun to order some of the same dishes and compare the two restaurants.  I heartily agreed.

October 13, 2013

A taste of national fortune

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We had another full house at MSNC tonight.  Fortunately for me, our host dispensed with his usual choice of venue and booked somewhere that was new to me, which also necessitated him to forgo wearing his favorite flip-flops to dinner.  For some reason, I never made it to Guo Fu Lou (國福樓) - neither the original location in iSquare nor its new "branch" in Wanchai.  It's already been a few years, and actually long enough to earn the location on the Dark Side a macaron.

I arrived a few minutes early and found myself alone with Dayliao.  About a minute later I realized Pineapple was in the next room, as I started hearing his voice coming through the partition.  Apparently he got a little worried that our host wasn't serving enough wines tonight, and decide to send over a bottle of Le Pauillac de Château Latour - the third wine of the château.  Such generosity…

October 12, 2013

Tim ho haam

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Grandma and Grandpa Bear are back in town after a long trip abroad, and I haven't seen them in a while.  Given their complaint about the lack of decent food on their trip, it's no surprise that they wanted to go for some good local Canto fare.  So off to Tim's Kitchen (桃花源小廚) we went, and ordered up a few favorites.

Roast crispy baby pork belly (脆皮燒腩仔) - tonight's not meant to be a full cheat meal, so I allowed myself just one piece of the sinfully fatty pork belly.  This was OK, but I've certainly had better.

October 9, 2013

The first of autumn

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Remember that 3,000-calorie dinner (actually two within the space of a week) I had not so long ago?  Methinks tonight's dinner definitely blew that away… by a very wide margin…

The last time we met, my friend the Krug Lover and I discussed the possibility of booking the Krug Room so he could try it out.   He was pretty excited at the prospect, so I checked with Uwe on the next available date and - after ruling out an earlier date because of a pre-existing conflict - settled on tonight. I figured we needed a reasonably big crowd, so I asked Krug Lover to invite a few of his friends while grabbing a couple of mine.

I arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, got upstairs and walked through the Chinnery as I normally would.  I wasn't expecting to be stopped by a bouncer, who informed us that the room wasn't ready.  They were preparing a surprise for us, and we would only be allowed to enter the room once everyone has arrived, as we needed to be surprised simultaneously.

So I was dutifully led back outside, where we were seated in the bar section of Mandarin Grill + Bar, and served our first glass of Krug while waiting for the whole gang to get here.  Unfortunately, that was gonna take a while because My Favorite Cousin was running pretty late.  So I sat down and took a few sips of Krug Grande Cuvée

October 7, 2013

Back to the usual

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Today was a pretty busy day for me, both work-wise and cheating-wise.  My friendly neighborhood prime broker hosted an investor conference for us, and I spent the day playing the role of a broken record, telling different groups of prospective clients throughout the day why my boss is Da Man.  I think it got to the point where even the boss was tired of hearing me sing his praises…

But it wasn't all bad today.  There was plenty of good food around, and boy, do our prime brokers eat well!  We spent our lunch hour in their staff cafeteria, and I saw people going for seconds (and thirds) of baked Alaskan king crab legs, deep-fried mantis prawns and other delicacies.  They even managed to bring in a small team of elves from that world-famous export from my hometown - Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) - who made xiaolongbao (小籠包) to order right in front of us!  That was pretty impressive, coz I don't think Din Tai Fung makes house calls for just anybody…

Unfortunately I'm still trying to stick to my diet, so I only cheated a little by having 1 basket of xiaolongbao - which had 4 dumplings (and 4 portions of fat against my meal allowance of 1).  These may not have been the best or the prettiest dumplings I've ever had from them, but I was plenty satisfied.

The rest of my lunch consisted of food that stayed within the boundaries of my diet - udon (うどん), corn, celery, cucumber and green peppers.  Boring stuff, but I needed to save some quota for dinner…

October 3, 2013

Shrinking Boy, two months later

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Now that I've gone through two months of my nutritional program, it's time to do another update!

Weight lost to date:  5.0kg.
I'm a little annoyed, because just two days ago I had lost 5.8kg.  Unfortunately, since my morning weigh-in that day I decided to gorge myself on tons of yummy food at a housewarming party, and my body ended up retaining some extra water.  I'll be taking in some food rich in potassium to help me drain out that extra water weight…

So my weight loss seems pretty steady - about 2½ to 3kg a month.  If I can keep this up for a couple of more months, I'd have no trouble hitting my short-term target of losing 10kg.  I'll figure out what to do next once that target is reached.

Seventh on Sixth

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Tonight's dinner was a highly anticipated event, as the venue chosen by the birthday boy was on the top of my list of new restaurants to try - Seventh Son (家全七福).  As long-time fans of Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), it was naturally sad for us to see the brothers split with each other, but the result is that we now have a third outlet in the Wanchai area serving cuisine that is comparable to FLM.  Nominally it was BM's birthday dinner, but in fact we were kinda celebrating 3 birthdays together.  I'm glad BM ended up booking us a room here.

Upon my exit from the elevator on the sixth floor, I was led through a maze of corridors, passing trolleys loaded with supplies, dishes…etc.  Not exactly classy or grand for a high-end restaurant targeted at the city's elite, and tonight our neighbors in the next door included one of the city's most recognizable tycoons.  The decor here was a little bare, I thought…

I was just around 15 minutes late, and two starters were already on the table:

Deep-fried frog legs (椒鹽田雞腿) - unlike at Fook Lam Moon, the frog legs we got here were full-sized pieces, providing a more satisfying sensation of having meatier chunks in one's mouth.  Unfortunately, this also meant they're no longer as crispy and yummy as the FLM version.  BM made a comment to the staff, and moments later we got a second plate that was a little better.

October 1, 2013

Party with blackfoot

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I'd been looking forward to this day for a while.  After months of hard work (and lots of mullah being spent in the process), I Love Lubutin's new pad is finally ready.  Given that it's also around the time of her birthday, this housewarming and birthday party got me pretty excited.  An extensive menu was planned and circulated, and I looked forward to a fantastic home-cooked cheat meal.

Half the gang had already arrived and was already busy prepping our lunch.  We had collectively bought a whole leg of Jabugo Cinco Jotas jamón as the housewarming gift, and Kung Fu Panda was busy slicing it up when I walked in.

It was indeed a beautiful sight… a whole leg of jamón ibérico de bellota set up on a jamonero, with some of the fat and skin already trimmed off, and the fat starting to liquefy and dripping down…

Several people tried their hand at slicing the jamón, although I think Kung Fu Panda delivered a plate of the most beautiful and even slices.  The Cinco Jotas jamón was actually a little sweeter than I remembered, and although most of the pieces I ate today were relatively lean, the few that carried the wonderful fat were simply heavenly.

September 28, 2013

Private dining, almost

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I did something terrible that I haven't done for a long, long time… In fact, I don't even remember the last time I did something like this.  I double-booked myself.

Two weeks ago I had arranged to meet some friends for dinner tonight.  As I had been busy traveling to Taipei for Mid-Autumn Festival, and then gotten busy preparing for my board meeting with the boss, somehow it slipped my mind.  And it didn't help that I wasn't responsible for booking the restaurant for our gathering, so the event failed to register and I never put it in my calendar.

A few days ago, I discussed dinner plans with another couple.  I wasn't very eager to go out for another meal, as I had already reached my weekly quota of cheat meals with the Sotheby's dinner.  My extremely kind and considerate friends decided that they would entertain me at home and cook up some simple vegetables and rice, so that I could stay within the boundaries of my diet.

So imagine my absolute horror when, while checking out some amazing pieces from Vacheron Constantin at Watches and Wonders this afternoon, I received a message reminding me that dinner had been booked at Kazuo Okada per my suggestion.  I realized right then and there that no matter what happens, I was going to have to look like a jerk and cancel on someone.

I decided to stick with my friends who made the reservation at Kazuo Okada, as I had booked them first.  I apologized profusely to the friends who were entertaining at home, and stopped by to deliver some contraband I smuggled in for them.

1971 Hasenklever Bonnes-Mares - nose a little dusty, but that could have been the glass.  Some black fruits like plums, a little leather.  Nose was somewhat decent but palate was very short.  Then again, I had just drunk some coffee so my tastebuds were not functioning anyway…

Watchmaking for idiots

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A few days ago I got a call from Tigger telling me to block out my schedule for this morning.  Through his connections to Richemont, he had arranged for a group of us to attend a "watchmaking class".  Given my interest in watches (well, I was pretty interested until recently…) he very kindly invited me to be part of his group.  So it was that I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday morning, dispensed with my planned morning jog and hauled my somewhat-tired behind to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Richemont had taken down an entire floor of the new wing and put on this massive "Watches and Wonders" exhibit, showcasing all of their brands.  As part of this big show, there are a couple of these watchmaking classes.  Initially I thought this would involved the group of us watching some watchmaker putting a movement together, but I couldn't have been more wrong…

September 26, 2013

Dinner with prince charming

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I'm not a celebrity gawker, nor am I easily impressed by the titles carried by aristocrats and royals, but I was most happy to accept an invitation to dine in the presence of a prince tonight.  My gracious hosts were Sotheby's and Domaine Clarence Dillon, and the dinner was meant to be a warm-up in advance of next week's auction featuring a parcel of wines shipped directly from the Domaine.  While there were undoubtedly some guests who were most excited about meeting a prince, for me the real stars tonight - with all due respect to Prince Robert of Luxembourg - were the wines.

It was certainly a privilege and honor to be able to taste ex-château stock of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, especially from some of the best vintages from the last century.  I had been looking forward to attending this dinner ever since I found out from the Specialist that an invitation was forthcoming.  It would, in fact, be the high point of my social calendar this month.

September 23, 2013

Lobster with Bird

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I wasn't supposed to have another cheat meal so soon, but the little bunny typhoon messed up my dinner plans last night.  I was meant to have met up with My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin and her parents, and would have chosen some place Chinese so I could be a good boy and stay within the boundaries of my diet.  No such luck.

While I would have preferred Chinese and ordered a big bowl of rice with some blanched veggies, Birdbrain insisted on going to On Lot 10.  I was hoping that there wouldn't be a table available, but the girl got lucky and actually got a table for us.  That meant I would definitely make this a cheat night, since there's no way I could ever keep to my diet with David's food… Damn!

I let Bird do the ordering, but warned her about having "eyes that are bigger than her stomach" - 眼睛比胃口大.  I don't think my warning had any effect… and thankfully I insisted that one main course would be enough for us.  I had asked David to decide whether we should have the daily fresh seafood or the paella, and David had chosen to serve us his very special paella… which never ceases to blow me away each time I have it.

September 20, 2013

A ho-hum third visit

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Time for my big cheat meal of the week.  We had set up this dinner the last time we met in Hong Kong, and I was looking forward to visiting the new location of Shunsai (旬採)a restaurant I liked in Taipei.    This would be the second Japanese meal for me this week, as I try to get my fill of good value Japanese while I'm back home.

We were seated in one of the private rooms equipped with an induction table for hot pot, and the space seemed a little small for us.  I guess real estate is a precious commodity…

The waitstaff dropped off the amuse bouche and left without a word.  WTF?!  Maybe they thought we were too engrossed in conversation to care about what we were eating?  When I asked our waitress what it was we were having, she simply said: "sea urchin".  No shit, Sherlock!  I can see there's sea urchin on top, but what else was there?

Tofu skin (湯葉) and sea urchin - the tofu skin was from Kyoto, and there was a sprinkle of perilla flowers on top.

September 18, 2013

No photo no service, no go

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I'm back in Taipei to spend time with family during Mid-Autumn Festival, and decided to take the opportunity to catch up with old friends.  I missed the opportunity to catch up with Big Mac on his last trip to Hong Kong, so I figured I should deliver some moon cakes to them during the festive season.  Lunch reservation was made at Shoraku (匠楽), and I was kinda looking forward to checking the place out, having heard a few friends sing their praises.

I had requested for a Japanese venue because I wanted the ability to order sushi à la carte, and I figured Big Mac would also appreciate the ability to do portion control… given that he's recently lost a ton of weight and is on track to slim down further.  Unfortunately I was told that we'd have to follow the lunch set… which inevitably leads to too much food…

I really don't get restaurants that forbid customers from taking pictures.  Are they that insecure about their dishes?  I understand why it is generally frowned upon in Japan, but I just don't get it elsewhere.  The last place that didn't let me take pictures in Taipei just had mediocre food and was vastly over-rated.  You won't find me going back there since there are too many better alternatives in Taipei.

So I was a little annoyed that the menu here states that photography is forbidden.  I was even more annoyed when I was reminded by the staff multiple times about this as I handled my iPhone while taking notes and what not.  As I'm taking pictures of every single meal (even snacks) during my 3-month diet program, this means I had to leave this meal blank.  That's just annoying.  So I decided to post a black background in place of what should have been a nice picture of their food.

September 16, 2013

All's well that ends well

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As I look back on this evening, I realized that I couldn't have hoped for a better ending.  Some things just aren't meant to be, and life sometimes just has a way of working itself out.  OK, I should stop babbling…

I was meant to check out Chachawan with Mo' Unni.  The place had created a certain amount of buzz over the last few months, although I paid it little attention.  I don't go out of my way to try out new places, but I figured I'd go along when Mo' Unni brought it up.  By last night, though, I was having some reservations about this place.

First of all, they serve Issan cuisine from northeastern Thailand, which is meant to be more spicy than the "regular" Thai cuisine that the average farang is familiar with.  I can handle some heat, but have serious doubts that I would enjoy dishes so hot that they warrant the placement of warning highlighted in all caps on the menu.  Another issue came about after reading a couple of people's reviews online, I realized that the best dish on the menu might be their salt baked sea bass.  My dining companion is also known as No Fish, so what exactly would we order?

All that became academic when, upon arrival at the unmarked 206 Hollywood Road, I found the gates pulled shut.  Upon inquiry with staff at neighboring 208 Duocento Otto, I was informed that Chachawan doesn't open on Mondays.  Since the place doesn't take reservations, neither of us have bothered to do much research on it… Oops…

Stranded without a backup plan, I suggested we check out Café Malacca.  This is one of my cheat nights, and I wanted to make sure the extra calories I took in were worthwhile.  While I'd never been to Café Malacca, my Malaysian and Singaporean friends universally recommended this place.  I figured the risk of disappointment would be low.

The place is casual, and the menu compact, but all the essential favorites are there.  We had no trouble picking out what we were both hungry for.

September 14, 2013

The chef who smiles not

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It's been a while since Fergie and I last met up for a meal, and I thought it'd be a good idea to meet up tonight - just hours before he's due to start a diet and exercise program for a second time.  The last time he did the program he lost a chunk of weight, so I'm hopeful that he'll be able to do the same this time around.  Since he's not planning on cheating like me, I guess it will be at least 3 months till our next meal together…

This being a "last supper" of sorts, I deferred to him to choose the venue.  I M Teppanyaki isn't something that would normally pop up on my radar, but I'm more than happy to go along and see what they can do.  There were two different set menus, and we decided to pair up so that we can mix and match, trying everything available.

September 9, 2013

Wanted: toilet trainers in Hong Kong

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For years now people in Hong Kong have complained about the sanitary habits of their northern brethren.  Starting from the first wave of Mainland tourists who arrived in tour buses heading straight for Disneyland, there were numerous photos and reports about how they used drinking fountains to wash their feet, how the parents just pulled down the pants of their kids in public whenever nature called…etc.

Things seemed to have gotten worse as time went on, with kids peeing (or worse) in the middle of restaurants, on the subway (I sat next to a mother who whipped out a plastic bag and let her son pee into the bag, within arm's reach of me), and doing a lot worse.  Incensed Hongkies have taken to posting pictures on the internet to name and shame the uncouth and uneducated masses from up north.

Bashing the Big Sixers or Strong Countrymen for their "disgusting behavior" is an activity that some Hongkies do gleefully.  However, are the sanitary standards of locals really that much better and beyond reproach?


September 6, 2013

Lobster heaven

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The Twisted Sisters are in town from Shanghai, and it's been over a year since I last saw either of them, and even longer since I saw the two of them together.  I got the call last week about their visit, and was asked to pick a place for our get together.  Since the preferred cuisine was "Western", I didn't even hesitate before picking up to phone to book a table at On Lot 10.

This would be my lone cheat meal this week, as I really needed to get back on track after last week.  After checking with my visitors and asking them to choose the one dish they would want to pre-order, I sent the request over to David.  I also reminded him that, as I'm still on my diet program and I was only coming with two visitors who couldn't pack leftovers home, that we would likely not need too much food.

We became a party of four earlier today, and I was thinking that we could take on a liiiiittle more food but still didn't wanna go crazy.  After picking a couple of starters, I was informed that there would be a couple of other things that David had arranged, so we already had enough food…

September 3, 2013

Shrinking Boy, after 30 days

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So it's been 30 days since I went on my nutritional diet / weight-loss program, and I thought I'd do an update with my experiences and thoughts.  Let's start with the headline number...

Weight lost to date: 2.3kg.
Actually my lowest weight during the 30 days was a week ago, when I was down 3.1kg from my starting weight.  Unfortunately my 2½ cheat meals since then - including that 3,000-calorie dinner - have pushed me back up.

Some people have been surprised at how little weight I had lost, as there are plenty of other "diets" around where one loses a lot more weight very quickly.  My thoughts on this is that I prefer to do things gradually, without putting my body through shocks, and this would enable me to sustain and continue to trend.  This isn't just a short-term thing to drop my weight down quickly - it's more of a lifestyle change.  The key is to be able to maintain it and keep the weight off.

September 1, 2013

A Mexican Feeding

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Even though I've already had my two cheat meals this week - and they were big meals, too - I left home today for a third, semi-cheat meal.  I'm pretty determined to keep to my program, and the only reason for me to stray and take on more calories than I wanted was for a good cause.  Feeding Hong Kong was holding their first Secret Supper Club event, and it was held at Brickhouse.  The proceeds go to Feeding Hong Kong, and there would be a raffle drawing so that they could raise a little more money for the charity.

I would have supported Feeding Hong Kong no matter where they were doing this venue, but the fact they were doing it at a place I hadn't been to was certainly a plus.  So I reserved two seats, called up my Favorite Birdbrain Cousin and told her she was coming with me, and that was that.

The restaurant is hidden in the same alley way through which one accesses Fa Zu Jie, and I had a little trouble finding it at first.  Thankfully I ran into Mrs. Tigger who pointed me to the alley.  Within moments we found our seats and settled in.

Being a Secret Supper Club event meant that one does not find out about the menu until arrival, and it certainly looked like a lot of food to me…

August 30, 2013

Starry, starry night

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OK, so we were sitting indoors on a cloudy night in Hong Kong, and Don McLean was nowhere in sight… but the evening was nevertheless filled with "stars".  On this night, a small group of us gathered in one corner of the crystal chandelier-filled dining room of Caprice, our beloved Michelin 3-star restaurant, to celebrate one of the stars of the Hong Kong dining scene - Chef Vincent Thierry.

After 8 years in Hong Kong - and having helped set up Caprice from scratch and elevating it to 3-star status after Michelin's arrival in Hong Kong - Vincent has decided to move on to newer challenges.  A few of us came to the restaurant last month but failed to catch him, so we were very happy to be here tonight as tomorrow would be his last day here.

I arrived to find our menu for the evening on the table.  I had sent a message to the chef asking him to put together something special to remember him by, and was curious to see which dishes would be chosen to represent "classic Caprice"…

August 29, 2013

My 3,000-calorie dinner

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Less than a week after my last dinner here, I'm back at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) for another 10 courses.  A friend is in town from Taipei and our host insisted on coming back for this dinner.  Not wanting to have the same dishes twice in less than a week, I pleaded with Takano-san - the restaurant's assistant manager - to have the chef arrange a different menu for us.  Fortunately the chef was agreeable, and only 4 out of the 10 courses tonight were identical to what I had last time.

Mixed salad of "KEGANI" crab and sea urchin, topped with black vinegar jelly of chrysanthemum ("北海道毛蟹"のうに和え 菊の花の黒酢ジュレと共に) - similar main ingredient but slightly different from the first course last week.  There is definitely some crab roe (蟹味噌) in the ball of shredded crab meat, and in fact the inspiration behind the chef's creation of crab meat, roe, sea urchin and black vinegar apparently came from the local yellow oil crab (黃油蟹, female mud crab) - except that all the parts still come from the Japanese horsehair crab.  In addition to the chrysanthemum there are also chunks of avocado, strands of ginger (in keeping with the Chinese theme of pairing crab roe with black vinegar and ginger), and cucumber.


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