July 24, 2013

Just ain't the way it was

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At long last, something we have been dreading for a while is about to happen.  Chef Vincent Thierry - who has overseen the kitchen of my beloved Caprice ever since its opening - is leaving Hong Kong for bigger and better things.  Over the years we have come to enjoy many wonderful meals and delicious creations from his team, including this mind-blowing lunch with a tailor made menu.  Naturally a few of us decided to visit the restaurant one more time before Chef Vincent's departure to the Land of (Fake) Smiles… We also know that it wouldn't be long before Jeremy, too, would leave us...

We had been reading about the latest New York Times' review of Daniel, where two reviewers booked separate tables on the same evening to see whether the familiar face would receive significantly different treatment from the unknown face.  The whole gang of us have profiles within the computer system at Caprice, and are lucky enough to receive special treatment when we visit.  However at the risk of sounding like complete spoiled brats, we have noticed that things haven't been the same recently…  Somehow, in very subtle ways, the atmosphere isn't as warm and welcoming as we have become accustomed to.  I guess it's only natural when there's a reasonable amount of staff turnover and you've got fewer familiar faces around...

July 22, 2013

Another stuffing session

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Just 3 days after completely stuffing ourselves at our last unplanned gathering, the old gang met up again for the dinner that was planned a few weeks ahead of time.  I had booked a room at Megan's Kitchen (美味廚) for the 7 of us, but due to people being out of town and under the weather, the 5 of us ended up trying to consume a feast meant for 6.

I really loved the food here from a couple of dinners I had last year, so I made sure to order some of the same dishes while replacing other dishes that may clash with wine.  Not surprisingly, many of these aren't exactly healthy…

The appetizers sextet (六福喜臨門) showed up soon after we took our seats.  I was starting to get pretty hungry...
Pan-fried eggplant (醬燒茄子) - not as heavy as the usual 魚香茄子 but oily and tasty enough.

July 20, 2013

Hodgepodge Japanese

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After an evening of stuffing myself, I got together with the Specialist and BFF for a casual dinner.  Any  gathering with the two of them meant some serious drinking, and we ended up at Nadaman (なだ万) in the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel.  I had always found the food at the Hong Kong branch of Nadaman to be decent but nothing special, but we apparently have an "in" here and things would be more special tonight.

We arrived late and the restaurant was pretty busy, so it was a while before we had anything substantial to nibble on.  There were a couple of starving mouths in our little private room… not to mention some very thirsty ones.  I was a little under the weather and decided to restrain myself thanks to my pounding headache.

It's not surprising to find some chilled tomatoes as our amuse bouche...

…but I'll bet one would be hard pressed to find jamón ibérico on offer at many other Japanese restaurants!

July 19, 2013

Bling-bling Krug

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Besides my love of food, there is a reason why the Growing Boy keeps growing - my group of kind and generous friends, who for reasons unknown to me seem to enjoy dining with me.  Some of them are generous enough to buy me dinner for one reason or another, and birthday (regardless of how belated) is as good a reason as any.  This was meant to be a quiet weekend, and up till Thursday morning I had absolutely no plans whatsoever.  However I've learned long ago that things can change very quickly.

In spite of his unflattering moniker, BM has always been a kind and considerate person at heart - when you peel away the layers.  For as long as I can remember, I have never failed to receive a greeting from him on my birthday.  As we weren't able to get together last month, and owing to him wishing to settle a bet with some other mutual friends, he very kindly invited us to dinner at the Krug Room the very first evening after it re-opened following its renovation.

A few weeks ago Chef Uwe Opocensky had chastised me on Twitter about my eating spree, after I had told him that I was "on a diet" and didn't want to eat too much.  Well, tonight I was definitely going to be eating too much, and I blame BM and Uwe for that entirely...

My first reaction when I walked into the new Krug Room was "HOLY BLING!"  It's now meant to resemble a luxury railroad dining car, and in place of the roses in tubes above our heads we now have crystal chandeliers... BM jokingly said that the place now reminds him of my beloved Caprice, and I think he's got a point there...

July 16, 2013

Amber in the sky

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Last week while we got together to watch his movie, Gru Tigger told me to "save next Tuesday's lunch" with him.  When I asked him why, he just replied cryptically that it would be "something quite nice".  I figured he'd tell me what was going on when the time was right.

I got an email from Tigger a couple of days later, asking me to send over a copy of my ID card and a passport photo.  For about 2 seconds, I thought this might have been a scam email… but not many people would know how Tigger addresses me.  I pinged him on chat and asked him why he needed those things from me.  The answer came in the form of an invitation from VistaJet to lunch aboard one of its planes.

I know that some time ago, Tigger had been responsible for hooking up VistaJet with Chef Richard Ekkebus from Amber, with the aim to provide catering onboard their fleet.  We've all had our fair share of bad airplane food, sometimes even in First Class.  This was an interesting partnership and would allow customers flying private to have delicious food onboard worthy of Amber's two Michelin stars.  Now THAT's something unique!

July 12, 2013

Old and French

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Having attended a few fantastic birthday dinners over the last couple of months, it was now my turn to return the favor by throwing one of my own.  I had struggled to come up with a wine list that would be interesting enough, as I've got a harsh critic or two among my guests.  The choice of venue also took a little effort, as I wanted to avoid some of the usual suspects but needed somewhere with a private room.

After some deliberations and booking multiple venues, I decided to do it at The Principal.  My past dinners there - all hosted by partners behind the restaurant - have been pretty delicious.  They've got private rooms available without the exorbitant minimums that some other restaurants demand.  And what's more: their corkage policy of charging per head - as opposed to per bottle - works fantastically well for wine-heavy dinners like this one.  One of the partners very kindly booked a room for me, and introduced me to the team to set up a menu that would work with the wines I wanted to bring.

This has been a quiet time at work for me, so I showed up at the restaurant extra early… A couple of friends were also eager to get a head start and showed up a half hour early, so I brought along an extra bottle of bubbly to entertain them…

2009 Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Noirs Lieu-dit "Les Ursules", dégorgée en Juillet 2011 - 100% Pinot Noir.  Slightly mineral and metallic, a little toast.  Very ripe on palate.  Second pour showed a much more open nose with heavier toasty notes.  Not bad but I expected a little more.

July 7, 2013

Stars and celebrities

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I got together with a few friends for lunch today in advance of an event in the afternoon.  As the event itself would be held in the Miramar Shopping Centre, we figured it would only make sense to have a late lunch at Sun Tung Lok Chinese Cuisine (新同樂魚翅酒家), just a few floors above the stage that had already been set up.  It's been more than 2 years since my last lunch here, and I relished the opportunity to see if the quality was still the same.

I was surprised how many people were still at the restaurant even at this late hour.  We sat down about a quarter before 2pm, and it looked like some of the others had arrived not along before we did.  As a consequence, the kitchen was pretty busy and it took a while to get our food to the table…

Ox tongue in XO chili sauce (XO醬鹵牛脷) - more chili sauce than XO, but at least the tongue was very tender.

July 4, 2013

The peachy summer dragon

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Twenty-nine days after my last visit, I find myself back at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) for dinner with a friend.  It's been so long since I last saw him… our last meal together was more than 6 months ago!  He very kindly offered to treat me to dinner, so it was only right that I bring a decent bottle of wine in return.

As the restaurant only changes their menu twice a season, and it hadn't been that long since my last visit… it wasn't at all surprisingly that I'd be having the same dishes that I had last time…

Cold "somen" topped with "white shrimp" and "premium caviar", scent of "sudachi" - loved it the last time, and just as refreshing tonight.  Perfect start to the meal, with sweet, savory and acidic flavors coming together as well as soft and crunchy textures.

July 3, 2013

Adrift with the fish

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After some delay due to our conflicting schedules, I was finally able to meet up with a friend for dinner tonight.  Mo' Unni decided to forgo revisiting Catalunya, and wanted to check out Ronin instead.  I had a pretty good time on my last visit, but was chastised by Your Highness for not posting any pictures.  Luckily I was able to get us seats through their email reservation system, and made sure I would be sitting at the bar where there was light.  For some reason the lights weren't on at the back of the room last time...

Matt came over to say hello as menus were dropped in front of us.  Mo' Unni insisted that she is no longer the Girl With No Appetitie, and somewhere in between staring at the menu and glancing at me, decided that she'd like to go with the tasting menu.  I guess she was really serious about clearing up her reputation!  So we took sips of our drinks and waited for the onslaught of food...

I loved the Hitachino Nest White Ale (常陸野ネストホワイトエール) from my last visit so much that I decided to start my evening with a glass of it.  Light and refreshing, and the aftertaste not so bitter.

Our amuse bouche was okra wrapped with lotus root, with black sesame and shiso.  Gotta say that's one helluva pink lotus root... marinated and a little acidic.


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