January 23, 2014

Oompa Lupa

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Drew pinged me early in the morning, letting me know that he's in town again.  Normally he hangs out with the head honcho of an auction house whenever he's around, and I've failed to catch him the last few times he has been in Hong Kong.  But this time around his buddy ditched him and went to drink wine with some local tycoons instead, so I happily stepped up as the backup option.  Drew and I used to work together two decades ago - during the last century - and it was good to catch up after a long time.

Since it only popped up this morning and Drew claims he no longer knows Hong Kong, not surprisingly I had a tough time figuring out where to go on a Thursday night.  I called a couple of places I wanted to check out, and in the end settled on Lupa despite their strange corkage policy.

I had never been to Lupa despite it being a high-profile Batali outlet.  The place opened during my absence from Hong Kong, and even when I moved back I had little desire to go.  Every single friend whose palate I trust panned this place.  I'm also pretty ambivalent about Batali's local partners, since they opened lots of mediocre restaurants that don't exactly excite me.  And the general feedback was "Carnevino is better than Lupa".  'Nuff said.

But hey, Lupa's a pretty big place and I doubt they were gonna fill up all 200 seats.  Sure enough, I was told that walk-ins would be OK when I called them.  So I walked over with some trepidation...

We thought about the pasta tasting for a split second, but decided to do à la carte instead.

Parmigiana - it's been years since I last had something like this.  Nice to see it swimming in grease... I guess this was OK.

Mezzelune ai porcini - I stared at my plate for a few seconds when it arrived, blinked a few times, and no, I didn't see any more pasta magically appear in front of me.  Drew and I kinda chuckled at how small my portion was compared to his duck pasta.  Maybe I got half a plate since I was smaller than him?  Taste-wise this was pretty good... lots of shroomy porcini goodness.

Delizia al limone - after that tiny pasta, I figured I owed it to myself to get some dessert!  I was imagining more of a tarte citron but got this warm tart instead... I guess it was OK.  The nougatine was pretty bland, and I gave up after 2 bites.

Drew wanted some cheese and ordered Pecorino and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  After a while I noticed that he had only had about half of the Parmigiano and barely touched the Pecorino.  I was curious, so I picked up a little bit of both.  Well, the Parmigiano was a little bland, to be honest... but the Pecorino was FOUL!  I'm almost tempted to use the word rancid to describe how it tasted in my mouth.  Blegh!

But at least I brought my own wine!  My office cupboard was unusually empty, and I was literally scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with these... Oh, and why do restaurants charge more corkage for Champagne?!

Jacques Selosse V.O. (dégorgée le 3 Octobre 2007) - very oxidized and ripe, kinda sweet on the nose, Chinese water chestnut and sugar cane water (竹蔗茅根水), Chinese licorice, minerals.  Still lively and has a long way to go.

1990 Vogüé Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses en demi-bouteille - opened for 45 minutes before serving, not decanted.  Forest, berries, dried herbs, leather, opened nicely, animal.  Drinking nicely but no "wow" factor.


Ryan Baldwin said...

I came across your blog from the Hong Kong Lonely Planet. Your blog is a wealth of foodie information, to say the least. My long time friend of thirty years and I are arriving in HK on Thursday, January 29th. Do you have any must-try hidden gem recommendations for a couple of winter-wear Canadians hitting up the Far East for the first time, that won't put us bankrupt?


Peech said...

Hi Ryan,

you can PM me at peech@diarygrowingboy.com


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