July 22, 2015

Foamy, pretty, and tasty

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Sick Note No Fish and I enjoy exploring restaurants together, and it was time for us to visit a place neither of us have been before.  Tate Dining Room and Bar isn't new, and has been on my "to tick off" list for a long time, but somehow I've never found the right people to go with.  So I was particularly happy when No Fish agreed to accompany me tonight.

We decided to choose the smaller of the two tasting menus, entitled Sensualist Menu.  A lighter load would be good for me after a heavy eating schedule over the last week.

First up was a quintet of nibbles, which are arranged in order of the 5 Chinese elements (五行):

July 21, 2015

Not getting the memo

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A friend is back in town for a few days and decided to round up a few people for dinner and open a few bottles.  I found out earlier today that we would be dining at Hong Kong Cuisine 1983 (壹玖捌叁), a place in Happy Valley that I'm not familiar with.  After moving out of the valley 3 years ago, there are few reasons to draw me back...

The place was mostly empty tonight, and together with the fact that my friend is a regular customer, meant that we got very attentive service.  I was also very relieved to not have the responsibility for ordering the food...

Marinated jellyfish (香蔥油海蜇花) - pretty crunchy, and marinated in sesame oil.

Deep-fried tofu with bonito (木魚椒鹽脆豆腐) - pretty forgettable and nothing really special, other than the bonito flakes on top.

July 19, 2015

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams

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After my birthday feast last month, Hello Kitty got herself some Russian caviar and wanted to share it with me.  So on the last Sunday that I was spending at my "summer vacation home", we decided to crack open the jar and also pop the cork on some bubbly.

We had some discussion about how best to go about consuming this precious ingredient, as we're both novices when it comes to caviar.  The original suggestion from the supplier was to do it "the Russian way" which, presumably, involved blinis, sour cream, chopped onions, hard boiled egg yolks and whites...etc.  Let's face it, that's a lot of work just to have a little fish roe!

July 18, 2015

Big ol' hunk of beef

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Due to poor planning on my part, Hello Kitty didn't get her steak fix last week.  I was determined to make it up to her, so we made the trip down to the Steak House Winebar + Grill at the InterContinental Hong Kong.  There are a number of steakhouses around town - both "homegrown" as well as branches of well-known international operators - but this was the only established deemed worthy of a macaron by the Rubberman.  Now the world ain't exactly overflowing with macaron-encrusted steakhouses - even in cities like New York - so I figured I owed it to myself to check out how things are.  After all, it's been a good 4 years since my last visit.

The first surprise came when I called to reserve a table and the hotels' central restaurant reservations desk picked up the phone.  The use of caller ID, plus what I'm sure is a world-class CRM system, meant that the person at the other end soon addressed me by name without the need for me to tell them who I am.  That was a real pleasant surprise.  As I've said, my last visit to the restaurant was 4 years ago, and to have hotel staff speak to me as if I were a long-time regular does kinda give me that warm-and-fuzzy feelin'.

The second surprise came after we were seated.  The restaurant's menu was rather large, and when we opened it up, it turns out these were simply two large tablets with backlit LCD screens.  For someone who really hates not being able to read a menu in dimly-lit restaurants - and the lighting was definitely on the dim side here - this was the high-tech yet elegant solution.

July 16, 2015

A dark and noisy tapas bar

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It's been a month since I last met up with a friend, and this afternoon her hubby pinged me and asked if I had dinner plans.  As I just found out that my wine dinner wasn't happening, and my friends wanted to drop by Catalunya - which I last visited more than 2 years ago - I decided to join them.

I've forgotten how dark this place is.  As there was no spotlight above my seat, I had real trouble reading the menu, and resorted to turning on the torch of my cell phone to provide adequate lighting.  As I get older and presbyopia sets in, reading in low light has become increasingly difficult.  So I guess restaurants like Catalunya are sending me a message... that people over the age of 40 are not their target customers...

I was ever so glad not to have the responsibility of ordering, leaving it instead to my friend with dietary restrictions...

Spherical olives - this was OK, but I'm just a tad over these...

Cantabrian anchovies - love these, but I really should just get tins of them and eat them at home...

July 13, 2015

Plagiarism and social media

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One of my friends pinged me this morning, with news that someone on Instagram had posted my pictures as her own.  I took a look at the screenshots that I received, and sure enough, these were pictures from my blog.

Over the years I have debated about marking my pictures, but as there seemed to have been few instances of plagiarism, I decided not to ruin the aesthetics of the images.  I'm not exactly the world's most popular and widely-followed blogger, so I hardly expect tons of people to swipe my pictures and use them as their own, but it has happened a couple of times before.

The most recent case involved a magazine in India using my picture of Gaggan Anand's pani puri.  I discovered it and cried foul over Twitter, but as it turned out, it was the PR team from Gaggan who had supplied them with my picture.  Both the magazine and Gaggan apologized quickly, and I was given photo credit in the article as well as a three month free subscription to the magazine.

July 12, 2015

The journey of your life

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I've been a very big fan of Chef Hideaki Sato (佐藤秀明)'s over the last 3 years, paying a few visits each year to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) during his tenure as chef de cuisine.  The Tiggers and I were sad to hear that he was leaving our beloved restaurant, so I made sure to pay him one last visit just days before his departure.

I was, of course, looking forward to see what he would create with his new venture.  Ta Vie 旅 replaces the much-ballyhooed but totally underachieving Holytan - which is totally awesome for me, since it's just right across the street from my office.  I tried as hard as I could to stick to my policy of not visiting a new restaurant in its early days, but finally succumbed tonight - some two months after the place opened.

The restaurant usually doesn't open on Sundays, but since Sato-san was in Bangkok for a couple of days this week, they decided to make up by staying open tonight.  The reservation was in the name of a friend, so Takano-san was very surprised when I showed up at the door... and even more surprised when the Man in White Tee Shirt showed up for dinner, too.

July 11, 2015

The problem with (almost) every Chinese restaurant

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Dinner tonight was with Hello Kitty and My Birdbrain Cousin, and I planned it very poorly... or rather, didn't really plan at all.  I had to call 4 restaurants before finding one with seats at a reasonable hour, and in the end had to settle for Sun Tung Lok (新同樂魚翅海鮮酒家) in Tsim Sha Tsui.

From its inception back in the glorious days, this place has always been known for its over-the-top emphasis on shark's fin, abalone, bird's nest...etc.  So it was no surprise that we sat next to a Strong Country couple as I overheard the woman ask the man whether they were having shark's fin or abalone tonight.  Alas, I am too much of a cheapskate to order ingredients like that... especially since I never order shark's fin for environmental reasons.

Braised Spanish pork belly in homemade kimchi gravy with toast (京韓烤西班牙黑毛豬腩) - we had no idea how big this was... and it was pretty monstrous!  Oh yeah, this pork belly was sooooo good...  Just look at the grill marks on the skin...

July 10, 2015

Golden happiness

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It's been a helluva week at work, and there hasn't been a lot of happiness in the last few days.  So on Friday, when we can kinda breathe a sigh of relife - at least temporarily - I decided I needed a little bit of happiness to perk myself up.  I roped in a good friend who can commiserate with me, and went for lunch at Gold by Harlan Goldstein.

As usual I passed up the set lunch in favor of one of two pastas that I almost always order here, even though it cost a good deal more than my friend's set lunch.  It's not that I don't think the set isn't gonna be delicious or good value for money, but I came here to maximize my happiness... and cost be damned!

July 7, 2015

Michelin fried noodle

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I needed to grab a quick dinner in Causeway Bay before meeting up with a friend for drinks, and on this night, I decided to make a long-overdue return to Ho Hung Kee (何洪記).

The word "return" isn't exactly accurate, since the Ho Hung Kee today looks very different from my last visit a few years ago.  They have moved from their old, street-level shop on Sharp Street East to the bright and airy space inside Hysan Place.  Instead of old, wooden tables with glass tops, we now dine on beautiful, white marble tops.  The tables have more space between them even though they are still somewhat cramped together, but at least there is now ample space between the rows of tables.  And the dining space has at least doubled, if not close to tripling.

All this comes at a cost, of course.  The price of my favorite dish - which I had listed as among the food I would want to eat in my last 24 hours on earth in my interview with Apple Daily (蘋果日報) - has gone up by at least 70%.  And I don't seem to remember Ho Hung Kee adding on a 10% service charge at their old location...

July 5, 2015

Sustainable but not local

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I was on my way to Causeway Bay to meet Hello Kitty for lunch when she suggested that we check out Jamie's Italian.  Neither of us have actually been there since the place opened last year.  It was never high on my list of priorities, and there was the issue of long lines in the months after opening.  Since I don't have that famous mythical "food writer's card" that someone waved to skip the long lines, I simply didn't go.

We were going for a late lunch, and since many months have passed and they've actually opened a second location across the harbor, I figured there wouldn't be any lines now.  I was right.

Our server brought us the menus, which included a "Sustainable Seafood Week Menu".  Since I do try to be more environmentally conscious, and do carry a copy of the World Wildlife Fund's Sustainable Seafood Guide, I decided to order two dishes off this particular menu.


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