May 31, 2017

The giant eel and the giant peach

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It's the Zhongmeister's birthday, and he organized a get together for a few of us.  I had only been to The Chin's (中華匯館) once right when it first opened, and I thought the food was pretty damn good. This was a good opportunity for me to go back for another sampling.

One of us was running late, and there was a tableful of hungry people, so we ended up ordering an extra plate as "starter"... since there's no such thing as a bread basket at Chinese restaurants to tide people over...

Barbecued Kagoshima Chami pork (鹿兒島茶美豚叉燒) - damn good just like I remembered.  Very, very tender with marbling.  Tasty, too!  Shame we all only got one little slice each...

May 29, 2017

Return of the classics

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娜姊 and I have been talking about meeting up to drink a few bottles together, and finally managed to pin down a date when we're all available.  She invited a sommelier friend along, and the five us would no doubt consume at least five bottles of wine.  So... with some of the top restaurants in town placing limits on the number of bottles we could bring, where do we go?

Fortunately, the Mandarin Grill + Bar still welcomes us with open arms.  They've gotten themselves a new chef, a new menu, and a new restaurant manager... but sommelier Ken remains a familiar face. I haven't dined in the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong since Uwe's last service, so I was curious to see how things have changed since then - and the change was significant.  They've gone back to classic dishes.


Shrimp tartare cornet - pretty delish.

May 27, 2017

Another pair of black dragons

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Ro Ro and Hello Kitty were planning to hang out together this weekend, and were kind enough to invite Chef RC and I to join them.  Hello Kitty has had a craving for the kushiage (串揚げ) at Hidden (秀殿), and as it turned out Chef RC and Ro Ro had never been, so it seemed like the perfect plan.  Chili Shrimp Girl was in town, so it worked out perfectly... the girls took one end of the counter while Chef RC and I carried on our own conversation...

Marinated eggplant (水なす浅漬け) - the eggplant from Kishiwada (岸和田) were marinated for only a little while (浅漬け), and still tasted very fresh while the accompanying myoga (茗荷), minced ginger, and sesame seeds added some nice fragrances.

May 25, 2017

I'm Buckwheat!

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Those who know me are familiar with my general rule when it comes to new restaurants - that I usually stay away from new openings, choosing to wait a minimum of 3 to 6 months before making my first visit.  I can be pretty unforgiving when I get bad food or shit service, and the likelihood of getting either (or both) is pretty high when a restaurant first opens.  So, like the critics of yesteryear -although I don't fancy myself as one - I wait and give new restaurants time to get it together.

I had never gotten around to visiting The Ocean, despite multiple invitations from friends as well as former chef Agustin Balbi.  Its location inside The Pulse in Repulse Bay meant, in all honesty, that it was just too fucking far to go for dinner on a weeknight.  I had contemplated going there with the Tiggers, but somehow never managed to get around to it.  Then Agustin left for greener pastures, and there was no longer any reason to go...

Late last week I got a ping from Maxime Gilbert - who left Amber last year to join Le Comptoir, the group behind The Ocean.  Apparently they have gotten themselves a new chef to look after The Ocean. Olivier Bellin - whose L'Auberge des Glazicks inside his family hotel in Brittany boasts two Michelin stars - is now responsible for the menu.  Chef Bellin was in town for a few days, and Maxime very kindly extended an invitation for me to try out their new menu.  Unfortunately I was flying home to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary, so I turned down the invitation.

Then Mrs. Tigger came back to town for a short visit and wanted to meet up.  I figured The Ocean would actually be a convenient location for her, so we ended up here for dinner tonight.

The restaurant now offers two tasting menus - five or nine courses.  As Mrs. Tigger is looking to go on a diet, and will be seeing a nutritionist tomorrow, she decided to take just five courses.  I, of course, followed suit.  After all, the Growing Boy can't keep growing forever...

Set sail: mise en bouche -
Potato (parfait?) with oyster water - more like soufflé potatoes I've had elsewhere.  The filling did taste strongly of oysters, with those briny flavors.  We were told by the waiter to eat it quickly before it got cold, but the reality was that these were already cold...

These were served on a bed of buckwheat, which we were encouraged to nibble on.  We were told by the waiter that the chef loves using buckwheat as it is key to the cuisine of Brittany.

May 24, 2017

Quickie dim sum at night

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I'm in Causeway Bay at night and in need of a simple meal.  Hello Kitty wants congee for dinner, so I figured we should go and hit Ho Hung Kee (何洪記).  The food is always reliable and the environment is clean and pleasant.  Of course, nowadays that comes with a significant hike in pricing thanks to the expensive rent they're paying...

I forgo my usual order of stir-fried noodles and choose a few dim sum items.  Back when I used to live in Happy Valley, sister restaurant Tasty Congee and Noodle Wantun Shop (正斗粥麵專家) was a neighborhood joint I frequented, and one of the things I used to love about that place was the availability of dim sum items all day... and they did a great job, too!  I figured I'd give it a try here tonight.

Barbecue pork bun with saucy filling (流汁叉燒包) - this used to be one of my favorite items at Tasty, but what I had tonight was a little disappointing.  While the bun wasn't exactly soggy, it was much too wet and lacked that fluffy texture reminiscent of cotton balls.  The "saucy" filling was also a little sweeter than I remembered, although they did use relatively decent pork and not just fatty bits.

May 19, 2017

Mom wants it RAW

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With very few exceptions, I have been flying home each year to celebrate the Parental Units' anniversary.  Usually this involves the three of us at a fine dining restaurant, where I also pop open a bottle of wine from their anniversary vintage.  We've been doing this for a number of years now, and we've basically been rotating through three restaurants over time.

This year, however, mom had different ideas.  I was honestly surprised when she told me that she wanted to go to RAW.  Now, I do really like the food I've had at RAW, and of course being one of Andre Chiang's restaurant gives it a huge halo - making it one of the toughest places in town to score a table.  So it's natural that mom would be curious about the food.  But I never considered taking mom there simply because they only do tasting menus, and that's waaay too much food to stuff into mom's stomach.  As much as she loves to eat, she only ever manages to do maybe 3 dishes at dinner, so it's always been à la carte for her.

But she wasn't gonna change her mind, and she wanted to invite a few friends along.  So... knowing how tough it is to score a table - and with dad being put on the waiting list - I asked for help.  I was ever so grateful that the favor came through, and we got ourselves one of the chef's tables for tonight.

We had a pretty interesting crowd tonight... The eight of us ranged from early 20s to late 80s, and I figured the average age was about 65.  A couple of us have very small appetites, so the youngest member was obligated to help put away some of the food.  And there was plenty of food to be had!

Taro, peanut, coriander - we start with a plate of pretty-lookin' finger food.  On top of the crispy spring roll wrapper was a layer of taro mousse with peanut butter, with diced taro bits mixed in.  Sprinkled with powdered peanut butter brittle from Yilan (宜蘭), and garnished with baby coriander.

Inhaled in two bites.  Pretty tasty.  I gotta say that I didn't taste much of the taro, because the peanut flavors from the powder just overpowered everything.  Not that I'm complaining, because I just loooove the combination of sweet and savory flavors... and that richness and fragrance from roasted peanuts.

May 17, 2017

Sine Qua Non toast, part 2

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It's been about 6 months since a few wine lovers met for a rare gathering, and our organizer once again rounded up the troops.  I would come back to Seventh Son (家全七福) for a second time in as many weeks, which isn't something I'm likely to complain about.  So the five of us met up for lunch on a hump day to drink Californian wines known for their high alcoholic content.  Good move...

Steamed prawn dumplings (七福鮮蝦餃) - we ordered two steamers of this, but there was some miscommunication with our waiter, and the second one didn't come until close to the end of the meal when we asked for it again.  Always delicious, with thin wrappers steamed perfectly.

May 14, 2017

Droning on empty in Saikung

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The weather was finally clearing up a little after a few days' of rain, and I was eager to take my drone out for a spin.  I didn't want to do a strenuous hike, but wanted to fly over some clear water, so Hello Kitty and I went off to Hebe Haven in Sai Kung, with Kuma in tow.

But we needed some nourishment first, and I had been meaning to revisit Chez Les Copains for the last couple of years after that awesome lunch way back when the whole gang still hung out together.
Thankfully Bonnie set up a table outside for us, so that we could keep Kuma with us.

May 13, 2017

Stand-ins for Mother's Day

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Mother's Day is coming up tomorrow, and what with Mrs. Tigger not in town and all, Hello Kitty figured Babu would be all alone by herself.  So we decided to take her out for dinner to keep her company.  We've been long-time fans of Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟), but as we were making plans at the last minute, we figured there would be a better chance of getting a table at La Bombance.  So I reached out to the restaurant's assistant manager, and luckily we secured ourselves a table by the window.

Sakizuke (先付):

May 12, 2017

Classic and fatty Peking duck

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It's been a while since I last had the pleasure of Da Jam's company at a dining table, so when he suggested that we go and have some Peking duck at Spring Deer (鹿鳴春) - an old school place popular with tourists and locals alike - I didn't hesitate to say "YES".

Just to set the matter straight... Many of us Chinese people don't eat Peking duck on a regular basis.  Not that there's anything wrong with ordering Peking duck, but... there are tons of other dishes that we prefer to order - especially in a city with such variety of choice when it comes to Chinese food.  As I've discussed when entertaining foodie friends from out of town, I find myself ordering it mostly when I'm in the company of... you guess it... Caucasian visitors.  And my last visit to this restaurant was with visitors in town from the US - although one of them was originally from Hong Kong.

I left it up to Da Jam and Kung Fu Panda to take care of ordering the dishes, especially when Da Jam seemed to know his way around this place.

Saute pig's windpipe with coriander (鹽爆管廷) - it's been a while since I last had the pig's windpipe, and I do like it for its springy texture.  Traditionally it's sliced and scored so that it looks like a centipede or vertebrae - in other words, a little freaky.  Da Jam told me that they usually put a ton of salt in the dish, so he had already requested for the kitchen to dial it down.  Very tasty and fragrant with all that coriander.  Love the (almost) raw garlic, too!

May 9, 2017

I am Food Nazi

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The Great One is entertaining some guests from out of town, and have been taking them around to different places to eat mostly local food.  Tonight it was Seventh Son (家全七福)'s turn.  It's actually been a while since I was last there, and I must admit I haven't been back very frequently in the last 2 years.  I was therefore very much looking forward to this meal.

It's also my first visit after they moved to their new location.  Previously I have usually dined on the floor with all the private rooms, where one gets ushered around the corridors and never gets a peek at guests outside one's own room.  At their new location inside the Wharney Guang Dong Hotel, everything is on the same floor.  When the doors of the elevator opened, who did I see but Brother Seven... sitting at the front desk straight ahead.  He was in the perfect position to get a look at each guest as they arrived - and greet his old customers.

Since this was a dinner organized by the Great One, I was happy to let other people take care of ordering dishes.  I know the dishes I like and would usually order, but it's nice to see what dishes others prefer.  So I took a laissez-faire attitude during the first round... or at least that was the intention.

Hello Kitty requested sweet and sour pork which, had it been at another restaurant, I would have objected.  Then she was salivating at the thought of deep-fried cuttlefish... at which point I turned myself into the Food Nazi and denied her second request.  Dude, we are at one of Hong Kong's finest Cantonese restaurants with two visitors from France, and you wanna do both sweet and sour pork and deep-fried cuttlefish?!  You can get decent cuttlefish at dozens of places around town!  So... NO!

I did consent to ordering deep-fried shrimp toast, but unfortunately for us, the shrimp they had tonight weren't big enough to made into this dish.  Zannen...

Honey glazed barbecued chicken liver (蜜汁燒鳳肝) - these were really, really good.  The livers were tender and got the right amount of bounce, while the exterior was nice and tight.  Oh and honey glaze never hurts.

May 7, 2017

A drunken Sunday afternoon

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It has been quite some time since I last saw a couple of friends, so we have been overdue for a catch up.  As one of them will be moving back to Tokyo soon, there was no longer any time to waste.  When it was suggested that we meet up for lunch at Tenkai (天海), I didn't hesitate to say "yes".

The restaurant isn't usually open for lunch on Sundays, but we had pre-booked their omakase (お任せ) course and were able to enjoy a leisurely lunch - while people trying to walk-in were politely turned away.

As usual, we started with the appetizers (酒肴):

May 6, 2017

Chiuchow classics

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Ro Ro wanted to get together this weekend, and when her top two restaurant picks were both unavailable thanks to the last-minute nature of our gathering, we found ourselves at Sheung Hing Chiu Chow Restaurant (尚興潮州飯店).  This is undoubtedly one of the most famous and classic places in town serving Chiuchow cuisine, and it's been quite some time since I last paid them a visit.

Eel wrapped in pouch (荷包鱔) - this was my first time tasting this classic dish.  I normally don't care for the eel at Cantonese restaurants because there's always that strong muddy flavor, and the muddiness was still there tonight, but at least there was plenty of pepper in the soup to counter that.  Wrapped inside the large piece of pickled mustard leaf (咸酸菜) were diced bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms.  Pretty interesting, and I'm glad I finally tried this dish.

May 3, 2017

50 more years

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One of the MNSC boys is reaching a milestone this week - switching the big figure to 5-handle.  It's a big excuse to throw a party, and Dr. Poon is throwing a few of them this week, so it made sense to fold our MNSC gathering into one of those events.  Tonight the boys and their better halves turned up at Amuse Bouche, and we were treated to an evening of celebration with fantastic wines.

As I looked around the restaurant, there were bottles and magnums of great wines on every table - except ours, of course, since we would have to blind taste our wines.  If we go by the logic that the "MNSC table" would get to taste wines which are even more interesting than the rest of the crowd, then we were in for a real treat tonight!

Knowing there was plenty of food tonight, I decided to pass up most of the nibbles carried around the restaurant by the staff during the "reception", but the seafood risotto in pesto sauce was pretty damn tasty.

Maine lobster salad with Iranian tradition premier caviar, red radish, mango, avocado, crustacean dressing - I've always liked what they do with lobsters here, and tonight was no exception.  Loved starting with something so refreshing and whets the appetite... with crunchy, thin slices of red radish topped with passion fruit 'pearls' made with spherification, along with what I think was a (raspberry?) sauce.  Beautiful dish.

May 1, 2017

Not our usual Porn

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Us MNSC boys aren't known for being organized, and when our new convenor is someone who doesn't live in this town... things get a little sloppy.  Which is why we finally took it upon ourselves to set some dates for our gatherings - with the Ox hosting our first dinner of the year at The Porn Pawn.

Marinated scallop with apple, tarragon and young turnip - the diced raw scallops were fairly sweet, and came with the acidity of green apple discs, the sweetness of green pea purée, the fragrance of tarragon, and the crunch of turnip.  A nice dish to kick off the meal with.


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