January 28, 2017

Lunar New Year puddings: 2017 selection

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I'm back home in Taipei for the Lunar New Year celebrations, and as usual I carried a few Cantonese puddings that are customary for the season.  After testing out several outlets for each of the last few years, this year I've decided to be lazy and just stick to the tried-and-true.  Basically, I just went back to Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).

As is traditional for us, we get to have these puddings for lunch on New Year's Day.  Mom patiently stands over the stove while she pan-fries slices over low heat, while dad and I just wait for the plates to be served...

Fan Cook x Tak Lung Restaurant radish pudding with dried scallops (飯局 x 得龍大飯店 瑤柱蘿蔔糕) - my friend KC very kindly gave this to me as a gift.  This was made by the famous Tak Lung Restaurant according to Fan Cook's recipe.

January 23, 2017

3-some in the Valley

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CK's in town from Chili Crab Land and wanted to catch up, so in spite of my Diet 2.0, I agreed to meet up with an old foodie friend.  It was obvious that he preferred Canto - even though there were only 3 of us - so a reservation was made at Hong Kong Cuisine 1983 (壹玖捌叁).

I had only been there only once, and looked up my blogpost to see which dishes I enjoyed.  We ended up repeating one of the dishes.

Snake soup with chrysanthemum (菊花燉蛇羹) - over the last few years I have been completely spoiled when it comes to Cantonese snake soup, and this one fell far short of my very high standards...

Interesting to see black sesame seeds in the deep-fried crisps that they provide as one of the condiments.

January 22, 2017

Droning Boy: the virgin flight

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Hello Kitty surprised me this Christmas with a present.  I had briefly talked about my curiosity in drones, but didn't think that a guy who sucks big time at video games and can't handle a joystick would be able to operate one properly.  I never gave it much thought.  Well, I suddenly found myself with a DJI Phantom 4, and frankly I was a little overwhelmed.

But after doing extensive homework and thinking about the circumstances under which I would most likely use a drone, I decided to exchange it for the brand new DJI Mavic Pro - which can be folded down and is incredibly portable.  It was backlogged and I had to pre-order it on New Year's Eve when I decided to return the Phantom 4.

This week I finally got the call I was waiting for, and picked up my drone.  I was eager to take it out for a test drive, and coordinated with Fergie - who had picked up his Mavic Pro a few days earlier - so that we would go and fly our drones together.

After an unexpected delay, we finally met up at the South Entrance of Tai Tam Country Park.  Fergie brought the whole family out - down to the dog.  After reaching the rest/barbecue area, the two of us set up our drones and launched them into the air.

After getting it up in the air and making sure I've gotten the hang of the basic flight controls, I sent the drone over the Tai Tam Reservoir towards the Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir Dam and filmed the journey.  I was still a little clumsy with the controls, which resulted in me spinning the drone around a little too quickly.  By this time the drone was obscured by the trees around me and I no longer had line of sight, and since I started without a full battery, my remote controller started beeping when battery level dipped below a preset threshold of 30%.  I hit the "return to home" button, and in a couple of minutes the drone flew back to my location and landed without a hitch.

January 20, 2017

The seal claps still

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We were graced by another visit from the King, who is in town for a few days for an event.  A few of us were around to catch up with him, and guess who got to pick the restaurant?  Well... I was trying to pick something interesting without a lengthy tasting menu, since there would only be three or four of us - which pretty much ruled out Chinese.  I was already visiting two of my favorite restaurants earlier in the week, so I was forced to pick something else.

As the King was staying in Wanchai, the idea of revisiting Serge et le Phoque popped into my head.  I had heard that these guys were gonna close up shop, which was surprising given that they had managed to retain their coveted macaron back in November, but hey... what the hell do I know?  It's no secret that lots of restaurants in town were having a hard time, what with ever rising rents and other costs.

So I was kinda surprised when someone actually picked up the phone when I called.  The person on the line was equally surprised, upon hearing me inquire whether they were closing.  Well, I guess that means they ain't going nowhere...

I do have to say, though, that I was remiss in not giving out instructions on getting there to the others.  I was the only one who had visited the restaurant before, and the others all had some trouble finding the rather non-descript space, walking back and forth on the street a few times before suddenly seeing the small neon letters above the door.

The gang even left it up to me to decide whether we would order à la carte or take the chef's menu.  As much as I was tempted to cherry pick exactly what I wanted to eat - and be able to take the dry-aged Galician cote de boeuf - in the end I chickened out and went back to the chef's menu.

Our amuse bouche was half a cherry sitting in a bowl of cherry juice.  The acidity certainly helped whet our appetites, and the toasted buckwheat was a real nice touch.

Cult Burgundian evening

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Champagne Princess is in town, stopping by for a few days on her way to her true homeland.  She wanted to get together with Rice and I at Neighborhood, so I found myself back there after a 2-week absence.  I did check ahead with the Man in White T-shirt, and made sure to reserve something specific ahead of time.

Dutch Pacific oysters - pretty crunchy and briny.  This particular seemed malnourished, so the kitchen sent us another one that was fatty and huge.

January 17, 2017

Fish cum? Not on your life...

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A mere two months after we met up in Singapore, L was back in town for another business trip.  This time she again requested that the Great One and I take her to Ta Vie 旅, since Sato-san was away when she last came to town.  I was only too happy to oblige, having not visited one of my favorite restaurants for the entire second half of last year...  This meant that the entire current menu was new to me.  Yes!!!  I had seen pictures of some of the dishes on social media, and I finally got the opportunity to taste them for myself.

Kegani crab and avocado cocktail with black vinegar sauce, covered with chrysanthemum jelly - the Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) from Hokkaido (北海道) was served with some crunchy bits of cucumber along with black vinegar and ginger, on top of a bed of avocado.  The addition of black vinegar and ginger to the crab meat really does emulate the classic flavors of dipping Shanghainese hairy crab (大閘蟹) into black vinegar that has been sweetened with brown sugar and sprinkled with finely diced ginger.  Very, very delicious, and the creaminess from the avocado worked really well to tame the acidity of the black vinegar.  Not sure what additional flavors the sheet of jelly on top added, but the chrysanthemum petals sure looked pretty!

January 15, 2017

Palate killer wine dinner

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Due to scheduling issues that are becoming more and more of a problem for us, we had to postpone one of our MNSC dinner from 2016 and push it into 2017.  Juliano chose The Chin's (中華匯館), which had recently opened in the same spot that used to house the Central outlet of Sun Tung Lok (新同樂).  The chef behind the new outfit is Ringo Chow (周卓雲), who was originally the chef at China Tang (唐人館) in London, so naturally expectations are high.

The Chin's appetizer platter (中華匯館拼盤) - this included four different items:
Soft-boiled egg with caviar (黑魚子流心蛋) - pretty nice, with some caviar on top to add some savory touches.

Pan-fried tofu (金磚豆腐) - somewhat crispy on the outside while still silky inside.

Killing Hello Kitty with kids

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It's been a while since the last time a whole bunch of us got together for a meal, and our organizer figured that this was long overdue - and it's been years since we've seen the kiddies.  I was very surprised when our organizer suggested that we meet up at Hello Kitty Chinese Cuisine (Hello Kitty中菜軒).  Well, given that one of the families lives just across the street from the place, and I myself would be staying only a few blocks away this weekend, it seemed pretty perfect.  And we were also bringing three kiddies with us to lunch - although they were all boys, as the only girl was now a teenager and curiously has zero interest in Hello Kitty...

I was the first to arrive and get seated at the long table spread in the private area named 林檎閣.  This was my fourth time at the restaurant, and the very first time where I've had a reservation.  But I guess with an original party of 12 (we were down to just 10 today) that made things easy.

As I seemed to be the one with the most experience - and most knowledgeable regarding the menu - I was tasked with ordering.  Thankfully our organizer has also been to the restaurant, and I was able to discuss it with her.  Always helpful to have a second opinion!

Hello Kitty bombing rice (Hello Kitty爆炸飯) - I guess I shouldn't expect this place to care about serving order... Carb dishes are meant to be served last at Chinese restaurants, but oh well...  The fried rice was made with shrimp and kailan (芥蘭), and was reasonably tasty.  Hello Kitty's whiskers were made with marinated kelp (昆布), and the bow was made from red capsicum.  Why was this called "bombing rice", you ask?  For some reason they decided to sprinkle some green pop rocks on the side...

One last thing... for some reason the restaurant served this on a plate that had clearly just come out of the fridge.  It was chilled!  Now, why would you serve a hot dish on a chilled plate?!

January 10, 2017

(Nuits-Saint) Georges at the Georg

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I usually try to meet up with Mr. QLI whenever I'm in Beijing, and this time I relied once again on his knowledge of local restaurants for our dinner together.  Having had Chinese food when we met for the last couple of times in Beijing, he decided it was time to introduce me to what he feels is the best "Western" restaurant in town at the moment.

The Georg is part of Georg Jensen Hus, one of the new luxury courtyard houses (四合院) that have been built along the banks of the historic canal known as Jade River (玉河).  As one might infer from the name, it is owned and run by the Danish brand Georg Jensen.  The space retains the charm which emanates from the classical architecture style, but the large windows and modern lighting add an unmistakable contemporary feel.  Not surprisingly, the cuisine is said to have a Nordic touch.

Since Mr. QLI is a VVIP here, I left all the arrangements up to him... and we ended up having the kitchen set us up with their tasting menu.

January 9, 2017

Beijing without Peking duck

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I'm in Beijing for an annual conference, and decided to stay at the Imperial Mansion, Beijing since it is just on the block next to the Grand Hyatt Beijing.  Not knowing exactly when I would arrive in the city, I didn't make plans to have dinner with anyone.  I figured I'd just pop into DaDong Artistic Conception Food (大董中国意境菜), as the Wangfujing branch of the chain is in the shopping mall right next to my serviced apartment.

I was handed two large menus once I got seated.  Contrary to popular belief, DaDong is not all about Peking duck.  Founder Dong Zhenxiang (董振祥) has created a whole range of modern Chinese dishes, often using non-traditional ingredients and/or cooking methods.  The dishes are often presented in an artistic fashion and accompanied by poetic descriptions.  What's more, some of the dishes rotate according to the seasons and the availability of ingredients.  I've been pretty impressed by my previous visits.

January 8, 2017

Diet chicken

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Hello Kitty wanted to lunch at Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝) today, as she has been missing their fantastic roast goose.  I, however, am on a diet.  This means that goose is out of the question for me, so I revert back to my old habit of having steamed chicken with rice (切雞飯).  The chicken here is pretty good, but as I'm on a diet, I make sure to peel off all the skin and fat of the chicken.  I also don't touch the minced spring onion and ginger on the side.

We also share a plate of blanched choy sum (菜心全走).

January 5, 2017

BYOB(eef) dinner

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A couple of friends and I had planned a special dinner for tonight, but due to logistics issues we had to reschedule that particular theme.  So I was expecting a week of clean living as I reboot my diet... but it was not to be.  RC figured that since we had set aside the date in our calendars, we might as well get together anyway.

He brought us a special gift - more than 3kg of Black Market beef from Rangers Valley, which he lugged back from a trip to Australia over the holidays.  And since we're all on very, very good terms with the Man in White T-Shirt - and it's always a good idea to have a friendly chef you can call on for a favor - the bunch of us ended up at Neighborhood.

We started with some oysters from the Netherlands.  Nice and crunchy, and striking a nice balance between creamy and briny.  there was a joke somewhere about 荷蘭蠔...


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