September 30, 2016

Thousand-year dead fish

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Tonight I finally had the opportunity to introduce Babu to my new Shanghainese discovery.  Well, technically this isn't 本幫菜 but Huaiyang cuisine (淮揚菜), but we'll ignore the technicalities here...  I was very happy to get confirmation that one no longer needs to be a member to dine at Jiang Su (江蘇薈), so I booked us a table for dinner tonight.

Marinated Indian aster (馬蘭頭) - this was a surprise... I never expected a place like this to serve up a classic dish using a heart-shaped mold... then decorate it with two halves of a cherry tomato and 2 little shreds of red cabbage... like putting arms and feet on the heart.  Anyway, compared to what we would normally see, this was definitely lighter in terms of flavor - with a lot less sesame oil mixed in... and seemingly a lower ratio of diced dried tofu.  The pine nuts were kinda nice.  We ended up getting a second serving.

Marinated celtuce stem with spring onions (香蔥萵筍) - I don't think I'll ever get tired of this, and neither will Hello Kitty.  We wanted a second plate, but were told they had sold out...

September 28, 2016

One night (not) in Beijing

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Mr. QLI's in town and wanted to catch up.  We're both big fans of the Man in White T-shirt, so it seemed natural that we would end up back at Neighborhood for an early dinner.  We ended up grabbing Kung Fu Panda, too, as she was the mutual friend who originally introduced us.  It just meant that we could order a little more food...

Truffle poached artichoke / anchovy mayo - always good to start with this.  This time they served the artichoke to us after they cleaved it in four, which made it a lot easier to divvy up.  That mayo is just awesome...

September 22, 2016

Not one shade of gray

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A week ago I received an invitation to a join a special dinner featuring two chefs with Michelin stars at their respective establishments.  I'm familiar with the cuisines of both Philippe Orrico and Akrame Benallal, and was curious about what a "4-hands" dinner would be like.  After getting assurances about the identities of my dining partners - as I don't care to waste my time in the company of certain people - I took the tram from my office and walked through the doors of Restaurant Akrame for the fifth time.

The theme for the dinner - the second night of only two - was black and white.  Each chef would cook dishes based on one of the two colors.  Not surprisingly, Akrame chose the dark side... which put Philippe in the white corner.  Again, not a surprise.

I hadn't really thought about it, but when g4gary mentioned dressing up for this dinner, I thought it was a pretty good idea.  So I made sure I put on a white dress shirt and squeezed into the pair of beige jeans I had long outgrown.  I was gonna be Team White/Orrico!

We started with a few bites.
Brioche with mustard and Parmesan - actually the texture wasn't like a brioche at all, but a little more firm... almost like a Krispy Kreme donut without any glaze.  The grainy mustard inside plus the little wafer of cheese made it a little salty.

Parmesan cookie with radish; potato paper with sardine purée - the cookie was pretty nice and the little dot on top was pretty acidic.   No surprise that the sardine purée inside was on the salty side, but it sure was tasty.

September 19, 2016

Sky dragon soars to new heights

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L was in town again, and this time she actually managed to give the Great One and I enough advance notice so we can plan a decent meal together.  The original request was for Ta Vie 旅, but since Sato-san was away in Bangkok we decided to go with Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) instead.  I'm spending more time with Sato-san these days because he's physically just so much closer, but I mustn't forget to show the younger Seki-san some love, too.

We found it a little incredible that L has never been to ICC, and panicked a little when she realized she would have to cross the harbor for dinner.  Thankfully she didn't arrive too late, although I didn't succeed in getting her to buy us dinner...

Cold simmered abalone with abalone liver sauce, shirodatsu, udo and fresh sea urchin (煮鮑とその煮凝り  肝酢  うにと芋茎と独活の海苔和え) - the abalone from Ezo (蝦夷) has always been one of their best items here, and we would start with it tonight.  Simmered for 6 hours, scored, and served with yuzu (柚子) jelly to deliver a refreshing bite.  There was a little bit of abalone liver sauce on the side, and I dipped my second piece into it for a change of flavor profile.

Everyone loved this, and so did I... except that I thought the pieces were a little too big and thick.  For some reason, I found the pieces of abalone a little harder than chew on than normal.  Yes, it was tender and surely they cooked it long enough, but it just didn't quite do it for me tonight.  Maybe I shouldn't have put a whole piece into my mouth and tried to chew on it... Guess I'll actually bite it in half next time.

On the side were sea urchin tongues resting on top of shredded Japanese spikenard (独活) and white taro stem (白だつ), along with some shredded nori (海苔).  Pretty good.

September 17, 2016

Duck 'n' sole

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It's been a while since I last had a night out with the Tiggers, and took the opportunity to catch up this weekend.  After suffering a devastating loss to my 6-year old godson Bear in a board game, I badly needed something to cheer me up as I licked my wounds.  Thankfully dinner was at ON Dining Kitchen and Lounge, where we know we'd always get well-taken care of.

I knew in advance that Philippe would be out of town, but arranged with him to save me a duck.  I also wanted to take care of an itch I wanted scratched for a long time, and thankfully everyone kindly indulged me.

Our amuse bouche was sautéed sardine with tomato concasse, confit eggplant, and squid.  The sardine was fused with a thin wafer of toast on one side to make it crispy.  Not bad at all.

September 11, 2016

Pre-theater dim sum

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We were on our way to watch the latest documentary on Noma - Ants on a Shrimp - and needed to grab a quick lunch beforehand.  Since we couldn't think of an outstanding eatery around Yau Ma Tei, we figured that we'd just do a quick dim sum lunch somewhere in Tsim Sha Tsui.  Fortunately, Sun Tung Lok (新同樂) had a table available on short notice.

Given that Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up next week, it was kinda nice to see that the restaurant was serving us complimentary mini-moon cakes with the traditional lotus seed paste and egg yolk.

September 8, 2016

New favorite Shanghainese in town

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The Locusts are back in town for a few days, after chewing their way through Shanghai over the last few days.  Besides whatever personal business that they're up to this time around, the other important activity on their minds is clearly munching.  I asked the Locusts for a list of places they were interested in hitting, and when I was told that Shanghainese food was high on their priorities list, I knew that I wanted to use this opportunity to revisit Jiang Su (江蘇薈).

This is a members-only club I was introduced to a couple of months ago, and I was so impressed by it that I've been dying to go back.  Since I have yet to cough up the money to join as a member, I had to ask my friends to help me book a table... and to come along for the ride.

When I arrived at around 7:30 p.m. - which is relatively late for a "local" Chinese restaurant - two of the neighboring tables have already opened up quite a few bottles of wine.  And the volume was already above normal levels.  Naturally, this led to more and more instances of having arms around each other, hugs, and toasts.  Glad to see that people enjoy themselves here...

We had Mrs Locust do the ordering for the first round, since they don't get any decent Shanghainese out where the angels live, and supplemented with a couple of dishes that I enjoyed on my last visit.

Marinated celtuce stem with spring onions (香蔥萵筍) - Hello Kitty requested this as she really liked this last time.  While this may be new to some, I grew up with mom's Shanghainese food and this was something we had regularly... especially in the summer when it is served cold to retain its crunchy texture.  All it needs is some sesame oil along with a little bit of diced spring onions.

Marinated organic radish (天水有機醬蘿蔔) - this was a dish I remember well from the last visit.  Marinated or pickled radish might seem ordinary and even be seen as a condiment, but these were very, very tasty and sweet.  And crunchy, too.  So good that we ordered a second plate the last time I was here.

September 6, 2016

Eat for Amatrice

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By now many people would have heard about the earthquake in Italy that happened 2 weeks ago.  Massive damage has been reported in the town of Amatrice - the birthplace of the classic pasta sauce all'amatriciana.  As a response to what happened, a number of restaurants in town have decided to help the disaster relief effort by donating all or part of the proceeds from serving their pasta all'amatriciana during a promotional period.

Giando is one of these restaurants which pledged donations, and they are offering to donate 100% of the HKD 188 they receive from customers on the dish.  As it happens, I remember distinctly having rigatoni all'amatriciana at Giando a few years ago.  So I figured the least we could do is to go and have ourselves some pasta.

The dish is part of the restaurant's specials and therefore not part of the set lunch menu.  I'd have to order à la carte.  Since the restaurant is going to donate 100% of the proceeds, it didn't seem right to come and just have the one dish, as the restaurant wouldn't really be making any profit off of us.  So we decided to order starters, too.


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