January 28, 2013

Salty ships and peaty drams

Pin It

I'm entertaining a friend from out of town, and tonight was the only chance for me to see her before she heads off.  She had spent the last few days exploring Hong Kong, and managed to hit some pretty interesting places.  I was struggling to think of some place to take her when she suggested 22 Ships.  My first visit 2 weeks ago made a pretty good impression, so I was happy to go back and try some of the other dishes.

I was running a few minutes late, and my friend was already seated by the time I arrived.  Once again we were squeezed into seats at the end of a bar, but this time next to the toilets and the kitchen entrance.  I know this is bar food, but the lack of space means one gets to be pretty cozy with one's neighbors...

Salt and pepper squid with ink aioli - very yummy.  The batter was really light and fluffy, and the little squids were delicious on their own, even without the heavy flavors coming from the ink aioli.

January 25, 2013

Pudding quest

Pin It

Lunar New Year is fast approaching, and once again I'm on a quest for traditional puddings for mom.  For the last few years she has increasingly been disinterested in the turnip puddings (蘿蔔糕) in favor of the water chestnut puddings (馬蹄糕), for the simple reason of their rarity in Taiwan.  The turnip puddings may not be that yummy in Taipei but at least they are widely available, whereas water chestnut puddings are near impossible to find.

So I started calling restaurants around town to inquire about the availability of puddings, and also asked for recommendations from friends on Facebook.  I then decided that I wanted to try out the puddings at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) before placing an order, and once again asked on Facebook whether anyone would like to join me for lunch…  Thankfully there were volunteers…

For once I didn't order anything that I normally would… Decided to be a little adventurous and stay away from the usual suspects.  Good thing my friend KC was there to help.

January 24, 2013

The whitening star

Pin It

I was stepping out of my office to grab a quick lunch when I got the call.  What am I doing for lunch?  Would I like to come to 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana for lunch?  Would I?  Is there another answer to that question?

Not wanting to keep two hungry ladies (or was it tigresses?) waiting, I placed my order over the phone, and picked up the pace as I headed to the restaurant.  This was going to be a simple affair.  While the ladies chose a multi-course lunch set and enjoyed some white truffles, I was interested in one thing only.

January 22, 2013

George and Willy

Pin It

OK, so despite having declared myself to be staying away from all the "tapas bar fad" that's taken Hong Kong by storm, this is now my third entry to a Spanish establishment this month…  But tonight's venue was not my choice… It was chosen as the venue for this wine dinner by the importer.  And it just so happens that for one reason or another, somehow I have never managed to pay a visit to FoFo by el Willy.  Tonight I finally got my chance.

The first time I met George Levkoff was at a similar dinner around this time of the year 2 years ago, organized by my friend who imports his wines.  George is a really cool dude, and his story is one that many would be envious of, including myself.  Here's a guy who left a career in finance - and I know lots of my friends have been pondering this move - and went on to do something that he's passionate about.  He knew nothing about winemaking, and dropped everything to start that career in his forties.  He didn't care if people laughed in his face, but persisted until he got a job at a winery.  That takes real cojones.

It was good to see him again, and I'm glad to see that his business has expanded to about 10 times of its original size.  It does amaze me, though, that it's still a one-man show…  Other than the grape-picking on harvest days, he literally does everything himself.  At least he's man enough to admit to being a control freak…

January 19, 2013

A sweeping view

Pin It

One of my friends was gonna be home alone this weekend, and wanted to get together for dinner and a couple of bottles of wine.  He figured I have a listed of "new" restaurants I wanted to try, so he very kindly let me pick the place… (Note to self: get more friends like this one, who are willing to try out new restaurants with me and won't complain)

One itch I have been wanting to scratch is View 62 by Paco Roncero.  Every foodie friend I know has told me it's crap.  Non-foodie friends have told me it's crap.  Even a dining guide I used to contribute to said the food wasn't all that good.  When a friend found out that I was having dinner there, her reaction was "Why?"

The "why" goes back to the mantra of "Don't knock it 'till you've tried it".  Paco Roncero has been touted as "Ferrán Adrià's most outstanding disciple", and my dinner at El Bulli is still my all-time favorite.  I'm always looking for places that can do a good job on molecular gastronomy, since so few in the world manage to get it right…  and I'm actively staying the hell away from the current tapas bar fad…  All of those factors added together, and you got me picking up the phone and dialing for a reservation here.

January 16, 2013

Cold pork belly

Pin It

I met up with an old friend from high school today.  We haven't seen each other for more than 25 years, and I decided to treat him to a little taste of Hong Kong during his short stay.  You can't go wrong with a little dim sum at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), so off I went again to the tycoon's canteen... and it figures that I'd run into a tycoon's daughter as I walked in...

But of course, when you're a nobody at the tycoon's canteen, you get shoved all the way to the back of the room, on the floor with the plebes, next to the fish tank.  The seating arrangement puts me firmly in my place.

Steamed dumplings with shrimp and pea shoots (鮮蝦豆苗餃) - very tasty, and the pea shoots were in season so they were nice and sweet.

January 15, 2013

What you don't get in Taipei

Pin It

An old friend is in town from Taipei and called me out for a quick dinner, and I was happy to entertain him now that I'm back on my turf… I was struggling to come up with a place to take him, so I asked him what he wanted to have.  The answer?  "Something I don't get in Taipei."  Within moments, I started the walk towards the Four Seasons Hotel…

Our destination, of course, was my beloved Caprice.  And what, pray tell, would I introduce to my friend that he can't get in Taipei?  Why, cheese, of course!

Alright, so Taipei isn't that much of a culinary backwater.  It does have a few places that sells a small but reasonable selections of cheese.  But when L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon Taipei can only manage to come up with the same sorry two slices of cheese time and again (Brie and Fourme d'Ambert), you couldn't possibly hope to come close to the quality and selection that's available here…

January 14, 2013

A little Russian roulette

Pin It

There's been a spate of tapas joints popping up around town like shrooms after the rain.  With the exception of one - which I was curious about because of the partnership with a New York chain - I had managed to stay away from this fad.  I've always been skeptical of restaurant and food fads, and steering clear of them in the past has usually proven to be the prudent course of action.

In the middle of this crowd was a new outpost from another famous chef from abroad.  Jason Atherton, he of 1-macaron Pollen Street Social fame, established a beachhead on Ship Street in the form of 22 Ships.  The foodie crowd had been buzzing about this place for months, but as usual I took my sweet old time for my first visit.  There were people complaining about the establishment's refusal to take bookings, so people have to actually just walk in and take their chances… ¡Qué Horror!  To think that they'd run it the way that a tapas bar in Spain would be… where you actually stand or sit on bar stools and just nibble on little bites of bar food, then go hopping from one bar to the next… without reservations at any of them!  What on earth were the owners thinking?!

I finally got my chance tonight to check out the place when a friend suggested it.  We decided to get there earlier than we normally would eat dinner, to increase our chances of securing seats quickly.  The place was doing good business, but fortunately the turnover seemed to be reasonably quick, too.  We got seated in no time, although my friend got pushed up against the wall at the end of the counter.  The upside is that we got to see pretty much everything that was happening in the kitchen…

January 10, 2013

La La La, La La Laaaaa...

Pin It

A few weeks after our last gathering, the MNSC boys got together again for our traditional annual dinner.  The losers get to host it jointly, and an interesting theme is usually chosen for this evening.  This time around, though, we didn't go through with the original suggestion, so the bunch of us pulled a few bottles out of our respective cellars and off we went…

It's been a while since we were last at Golden Leaf (金葉庭) together, and I still like the food despite the place having lost its macaron,  so I'm glad when our new convener chose this as the venue.

Golden Leaf deluxe appetizers: mixed vegetables roll, shrimp dumpling, jelly fish, pork roll (金葉四小碟) - the jelly fish was OK, and the shrimp dumpling was kinda interesting, hidden in this ball of crispy "fluff".

January 3, 2013

First over-indulgence of the year

Pin It

I was definitely not in the best shape today.  I had a 19-hour work day yesterday, and was feeling very low on energy - yawning in spite of an espresso doppio.  Therefore I wasn't as excited about going to dinner tonight as I should have been.

Early January generally means dinner at Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), as a bunch of us gather to celebrate the birthday of a New Year's baby.  The dinner is always arranged by a regular of the restaurant, which ensures we get treated properly.  It's been a while since I came with this gang, and I definitely miss the VIP treatment.

Can't come here without having the roast suckling pig (大紅片皮乳豬).  I can never get tired of this pig, although I felt somewhat unsatiated after 3 pieces of the crackling and nibbling on some ribs.  I guess I probably should have chomped on a leg…


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map