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.

August 24, 2013

Comfort kaiseki

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I haven't seen the Tiggers for over a month, and I finally got a chance to see them today.  As I had already been naughty last night, and was about to break my diet again tonight, I reluctantly turned down Tigger's invitation to lunch at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.  Looking back I kinda regret turning them down, because I would have been there for my godson's first Michelin 3-star meal…

Dinner time rolled around and we made our way back to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟).  This place has fast become the Tiggers' favorite Japanese restaurant, and who can blame them when they were blown away by things like the deep-fried sakura shrimp over rice on their first visit?!

It's now late summer, so the menu has changed again to take advantage of the seasonal ingredients.  The staff brought out some corn and soy beans to show us, so I guess we'll be having some of those tonight…

August 23, 2013

Lukewarm and weak

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It's Friday night, and time for another cheat meal.  The Alcoholics were having a mini-gathering in honor of a guest from out of town, and we picked Bistronomique for some of David Lai's yummy food.  As I got off the taxi on Davis Street and made my way around the corner, I suddenly wondered if David was the new King of K-Town as far as food is concerned.  With the new Bistronomique Boucherie occupying a space between Bistronomique and Boulangerie Bistronomique, the branding and message is loud and clear.

For some reason I never realized that there was more to Boulangerie Bistronomique than meets the eye… at least mine.  The stairs on the side actually lead to not just a kitchen but a dining space above.  Now that the renovation has been completed, this space is now handling the overflowing customers from Bistronomique.  Some of the dishes are prepped in the Bistronomique kitchen, then brought around the corner and finished in the kitchen here.

It took the four of us a bit of time to put in our food order, as we seemed more intent on catching up after many months.  It's been quite a while since I was last here, and while the menu has expanded significantly, it was comforting to see that my favorite dishes have remained.  We ordered everything to share but I ended up skipping some of the dishes tonight, as I wanted to focus my calorie quota on the things I liked best.  The ladies probably found this behavior a little strange, coming from me….

August 21, 2013

Bespoke diet lunch

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I'm having lunch with the neighbors today, and On Lot 10 was suggested as the venue.  In all these years I don't think I'd ever been there for lunch, and given Scubagolfer's pretty positive review not long ago, I thought I'd go check it out.

Trying to stick to a strict dietary program wreaks havoc with your social life and engagements.  Not having been to the restaurant for lunch means I have no idea what could be on the menu.  I don't want to get to a restaurant only to find out that I can't order the right type of stuff to stay within the boundaries of the program!

Fortunately, I do know the boss at this particular establishment.  So I pinged David and ask him to help prepare something for me.  He's seen my photo album on Facebook documenting my daily meals, so he understands the situation I'm in.  I asked for a simple pasta with some meat or seafood, plus the ability to have some veggies on the side.  All low fat and low salt, of course.

August 18, 2013

A perfect Sunday afternoon

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A few weeks ago I was pinged by Felix from QLI as he prepared for his trip to Asia.  We had discussed some time ago about getting together for a meal, and he suggested that we do lunch at Amber.  Having recently become a big fan of Chef Richard Ekkebus' cuisine, I was of course only too happy to oblige.  As it turned out, this would be my third cheat meal of the week…

I arrived to find Richard and Felix already deep in conversation.  The menu had been pre-arranged, and I was of course very much looking forward to whatever Richard would throw at us, which would of course blow my calorie intake for the next 2 days or so…

We started with some canapés and amuses bouches...
Watermelon with sangria and blood orange peel - nice to start with something sweet.

August 17, 2013

Like A Boss

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A few months ago someone from the office picked up a flyer/coupon about a new restaurant near the office named The Boss (波士廳).  They were impressed by the pictures on the flyer, and the claim that the restaurant was "created by the founder of Michelin Guide 3 Stars Restaurant (米芝蓮三星餐廳幕後班底精心策劃)".  Since I'm so used to people in the F&B industry over-inflating their associations with famous restaurants and chefs - especially when it comes to places with macarons - I naturally dismissed this claim without looking into it.

A few weeks ago my friend Susan was doing a review for the South China Morning Post, and asked me to join the gang at lunch.  I was into my salad phase at the time and turned down her kind invitation.  Turns out that they all thought the place was very good, and some of the gang have since gone back to get more helpings of the food.  Apparently the chef is ex-Sun Tung Lok (新同樂)...

Not wanting to let my discount coupon expire at the end of the month, I rounded up the troops for another meal scheduled for later this month.  Things quickly got out of my control and the gang decided to do it at lunch today.  Well, that doesn't really work for me... I've already got 3 cheat meals this week, and this can't be #4!  I reluctantly agreed to the lunch, but decided that I would control myself and try to stay within the boundaries of the diet... as much as possible.

August 15, 2013

Principal Atherton

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It's been 2 months and we're overdue for another MNSC dinner.  The date for the dinner was chosen months ago, and as it turns out, this was the one night when Jason Atherton was playing guest chef at the Principal.  Given that the principals behind the restaurant are members of our lil' gang, it made perfect sense that we would do the dinner here tonight.

As usual I was thankful that we were in the private room and somewhat isolated from the rest of the guests, although I'm sure the table right outside our door - including my friend KC - probably heard from than an earful over the course of the evening.  Well... this is how it's always been for us, wherever in the world we go...

Our convenor is making a habit of being late to dinner, so we got ourselves some bread to pad our hungry stomachs.  I do need some carbs since my nutritionist is prescribing 5 portions of grains for dinner... and these yummy ones come from Grégoire at Bread Elements.

August 13, 2013

Île Saint Jacques

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I'm having the first of my three "cheat meals" this week, and for most of the afternoon all people could talk about was whether the typhoon was coming close enough to Hong Kong to warrant the raising of the No. 8 Signal.  While most people in the city were hoping for a unscheduled holiday, I for one did not want the typhoon to hit us too soon.  When I got a call in the afternoon to reconfirm my dinner reservation, the tone at the other end of the line seemed to be: "With the typhoon coming, are you sure you still want to come to dinner?  Can y'all please cancel so we can all go home early?"

Well, there was NO WAY I was gonna give up this dinner…

As I arrived at Island Tang (港島廳), I was relieved to find that there were others already seated in the main dining room.  In fact over the course of the evening, the restaurant would be about 2/3 full - not bad for a rainy, windy night when I was checking for weather updates with my phone on an hourly basis.  But what was meant to be a party of five ended up being a foursome for most of the evening, as one of us had a little trouble flying in from Taipei and arrived 3 hours late…

August 9, 2013

A lunch worth cheating for

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A few weeks ago I heard from my contact at Fruit Media again, and the reason for the call was a little surprising.  Apparently the PR person responsible for a restaurant had wanted to invite me for a tasting, but as not many PRs in town know me personally - and this lady realized that I had been profiled by Fruit Media last year - she decided it may be best to reach out to me in this roundabout way.

No, I had not been to the trio of new restaurants which had recently been opened.  However, I have invariably enjoyed myself at ALL of the restaurants under the same group, and that includes some very high-profile outlets with macarons.  Yes, I would be interested in trying out whichever new place they chose… but I was starting to develop a cough, and it's never good manners to cough on our dining companions - especially your hostess.  I asked for a rain check.

Having recovered only recently, I accepted to invitation to lunch at Rozan (魯山).  It's day 6 of my new nutritional plan and I'm doing my first cheat.  As there will be a few more cheat meals next week, I am ever so grateful that this meal could be scheduled for this week and not crammed into the next…  I had warned my lovely nutritionist about this meal, and she tried in vain to convince me to stay within the strict bounds of the meal plan she had prescribed for me.  No way, Jose!  Not with this meal.

August 4, 2013

Shrinking Boy, day 1

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I woke up a little earlier than planned on the first day of my nutritional program, and tossed in bed a little before deciding that I should kick start my metabolism earlier.  I had shopped for the ingredients for today's meals last night, so it would be a snap to put together my breakfast.

I'm meant to consume 1 portion of dairy, 3 portions of grains, 1 portion of meat and 1 portion of fat for my brekkie, and during and after my "orientation" yesterday, I began learning how to translate those portions into real food.  The end result?

I brought my brekkie out on the patio and took in the beautiful view.  This is my third weekend housesitting for the Tiggers, and it's tough to get tired of this view!

August 2, 2013

Another smoky evening

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It's no secret I'm a big fan of David Lai and his restaurants, but one outlet which I've never been to has been Kushiyaki Beco (串焼 べこ), the JV between David and Satoru Mukogawa of Sushi Kuu (寿司喰).  So three years after it opened (the anniversary party was held earlier in the week), I finally got a chance to go when the Specialist requested kushiyaki/yakitori for dinner.

I arrived and was led upstairs to a table by the stairs, which placed us pretty much directly above the cooking area.  This would be really interesting, as I couldn't for the life of me focus on the nose of the wines we had brought... I seem to recall a somewhat similar experience just two weeks ago...

Knowing that we didn't want our dishes coming at once, I cautioned the Specialist and we ended up ordering in rounds.  We do have two bottles of wine, so the food had better come staggered so that we can stretch out the evening!

Don't wanna grow no mo'

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When I first started this blog, I called myself a "growing boy" in reference to a line from Die Hard which listed out all the ingredients of a Twinkie and called it "everything a growing boy needs".  I'd always joked that I was still growing horizontally, even though it wasn't quite true...until the last couple of years.

In the months leading up to my (second) failed attempt to escape Hong Kong, I was doing a whole series of birthday and farewell dinners - and my weight hit an all-time high.  After 6 months of living in Taipei, owing to a combination of fewer big meals with friends (thanks to having no friends and also nowhere to eat in Taipei) as well as eating mom's kick-ass yet healthy cooking at home, I found myself about 5 kg lighter than my peak weight.  The Growing Boy had shrunk - while doing less exercise - and I was pretty happy about it.

The latter half of last year saw a reversal of fortunes.  As I was preparing for a move back in Hong Kong, I started to put on a little weight while still in Taipei.  Needless to say things got a lot worse after I physically moved back to Hong Kong, and a couple of binge weeks in particular were responsible for dialing my weight back up.  7 months after coming back to Hong Kong, I got on a scale and almost had a heart attack.  Not only did I gain back all 5 kgs that I lost, but I had put on an additional 3 kg!  I'd hit a new high, and this ain't the kind of new high you'd wanna be hitting more than once...


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