September 30, 2017

Who moved my cheese?!

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Mikacina's back in town again, and this time around she made a couple of requests far in advance.  First and foremost on her list was Neighborhood.  She had long heard about it from The Great One and myself, and when DaRC also told her about it while we were in Seoul, it was clear that she needed to see for herself why it is that we're all big fan of The Man in White T-shirt.

So... about 6 hours after Hello Kitty and I started drinking - seemingly without a break in between - and after hosting the gang at our new place for a few hours, we showed up en masse at arguably my favorite restaurant in town.  The people from the first seating had cleared out by now, and we were ready for some real food!  Although I wasn't feeling particularly hungry after nibbling on snacks for the previous 6 hours...

Per SOP we gave carte blanche to The Man in White T-shirt, and fully expected to be stuffed halfway through dinner...

First order of business was picking out a white truffle from Langhe.  The Man in White T-shirt had, in fact, put aside a particularly fragrant and large one for us.  As it was placed atop the scale, we could see it weighed more than 108 grams.  That's a pretty decent size for the eight of us.  And the fragrance was pretty amazing, considering that it's so early in the season.

September 29, 2017

Format change

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The last time that I caught up with both Winnie the Chew and Zhongmeister together was more than a year ago, and a request for made for a Japanese dinner.  I had originally wanted to book one of the new places on the Dark Side, but alas, not having the help of a High Person meant we were relegated to the restaurant's waiting list.  So I decided to make a long-overdue return to Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) and check out what Chef Seki Hidemichi (関秀道) is serving these days.

I was surprised to find that the menu has now changed to 12 courses, and wondered about the format change.  They had also taken their classic hot/cold dessert off the menu, so it looks like quite a few changes have been made since I was last here a year ago.

Uni, namanori seaweed and shiromiso paste with superiore Chinese broth jelly (海胆  生海苔と白みそのピュレ  上湯の煮凝り) - I love that when the weather is warm, the menu here always starts off with something on ice.  Always so refreshing.

September 26, 2017

A private preview

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It's no secret that I'm a fan of Uwe Opocensky's, and I'm lucky to have him as a friend.  When he made the decision to leave the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, my friends and I were fortunate enough to be in the Krug Room for his last service.  After prepping for his pet project for the last year, his eponymous restaurant Uwe is finally ready to open its doors to the public.  And tonight, The Great One and I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview.

As is usual for our meet-ups, I brought the wines and Uwe chose the restaurant.  Given that the restaurant begins service tomorrow, I had expected to be dining here tonight.  But Uwe tried to be a little tricky to confuse me... He knows very well that I avoid brand new restaurants like the plague, so he told me that we'd be meeting at the new place for a drink before we "go around the corner for some food."  I didn't know what else was around the corner besides Trattoria Queen Hollywood, but whatever.  I wouldn't have any issues with wherever Uwe takes me.

The front door opened just as I reached for it, and I immediately saw three guys dressed in the same uniform of white dress shirts, black jeans, and white canvas sneakers.  In addition to Uwe, the other two other familiar faces belonged to Ken and Luke - both formerly of the Mandarin Oriental.  I was ever so happy to know that diners would be in good hands with these two.

And wouldn't you know it, Nena's 99 Luftballons was playing as I walked in... as if I didn't know the guy running this place was German...  And throughout the evening, the playlist included mostly tunes from the 80s and the 70s... with maybe a few 90s' hits thrown in.  As Uwe said : "our generation".

Courtesy of Uwe
Courtesy of Uwe
Uwe asked whether I would like to start with some Krug.  Would I?  Mais, bien sûr! The Krug Grande Cuvée, 159éme édition, ID 313052 was mature and beautiful, with toasty nose and lovely sweetness.

September 21, 2017

A very tasty stuffing

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I'm dining with the Locusts for a second night in a row, and tonight we chose to go to Tasting Court (天一閣) since, to my great surprise, they turned down an opportunity to visit my favorite private dining facility on account that they would be served too much food...

This was the first time I tried booking myself a table, and without a special menu being organized, Mr. Locust chose the most premium of the three options offered.

Steamed abalone with dried peel (陳皮蒸鮑魚仔) - this was pretty good, and the chiffonade of aged mandarin peel delivered the familiar fragrance.

September 20, 2017

Seafood and sake

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The Locusts are swinging through town again, and like the devoted (but long-suffering) friend that I am, I arranged for a couple of meals so they could try out some of my favorite restaurants in town.  As I had enough sufficient notice this time around, I managed to get my act together and book ourselves seats at the Godenya (ごでんや) counter.

I noticed for the last couple of months that the restaurant has been posting on social media about their seat openings, so I was guessing that business seemed to have fallen off a little here... which isn't surprising given how fickle diners are in this town.  What it means for me, though, is that I would be able to come with much shorter notice - always a plus.

But we actually started with a bottle of wine in my office just before dinner.  Out of all the refreshments I offered, Mrs. Locust preferred wine.  The 2009 Doisy-Daëne Sec showed classic green apple on the nose, ripe with a little honey.

We moved to the hole-in-the-wall for dinner.  Once again I seated myself at the end of the counter - and in front of the water bath for sake.  I would be watching Goshima-san adjust the temperatures of the sake throughout the evening.

Japan figs (いちじくの前菜) - the sweet Japanese fig was placed in the freezer for one hour to deliver a texture that wasn't quite frozen and icy.  Nice and refreshing way to start on this warm night.  Topped with dill, tarragon, and edible flowers.

September 19, 2017

Krug x Mushroom, part deux

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After our first "walking tour" last month, the powers that be once again invited me to join "part 2" of the Krug x Mushroom tour.  This time we would be going to three different restaurants.

We started our evening in the cellar behind the kitchen at Caprice.  The Four Seasons Hong Kong took this event pretty seriously, as both the F and B Manager and the PR were in attendance, in addition to Hairy Legs and others from the restaurant.  We seemed to have a smaller crew tonight, and that was just fine for this Arrogant Prick.

September 18, 2017

Chinese for Monday

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A friend is in town after a couple of years' absence and requested Asian food for dinner.  As she was bound to be exhausted from traveling, I figured we should be accommodating and do dinner on the Dark Side.  I seemed to remember that there is a Chinese restaurant at the Hyatt Regency, but have never found occasion to dine there...  So The Great One kindly booked us a table at The Chinese Restaurant (凱悅軒).

I had read about a particular set menu where we could enjoy a discount by using a certain credit card, and was interested in taking that offer.  It was interesting because - as long as the entire table took this set - each person could make his/her own personal choices for appetizer, soup, main course, rice/noodle, and dessert.  Only the veggie dish needs to be shared.  But the others didn't seem to be enthusiastic about this option, so we ended up ordering à la carte.

When the dishes started arriving, I was a little upset at first - because I thought they were being served "out of order" in terms of how a proper Chinese meal should be.  This was because I wasn't responsible for ordering and didn't know what other dishes were coming.  I later realized that all of tonight's dishes had indeed been served in the proper order.

Smoked chicken, jasmine tea (茉莉花茶燻雞) - not bad.  The chicken was tender, and the flavors were well-balanced - the smokiness was detectable without being too overpowering.  I did wish, though, that the soy sauce flavors could have been a wee bit deeper.

Long-awaited catch-up

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It has been quite a few months since Hairy Legs settled into his new role at Caprice, and we've been meaning to catch up for a while.  After months of waiting, Bilbaobab was finally back in town, and we agreed to meet up for lunch today.  I suggested we check out Arcane, as I have fond memories of my dinner there from some time ago and it's a place the others haven't been to before.

By the time I arrived, it was clear from Stefano's demeanor that Hairy Legs had been recognized, as we were offered complimentary Champagne.  Not wanting to go back to the office while red in the face, I politely declined.  I also declined to have Chef Shane Osborn create a special menu of signature dishes for us, as I'm dining out four consecutive nights this week and really didn't need the extra calories.  So set lunch for me it was.

Spinach and Parmesan tortellini with onion consommé and bellota ham - this was very nicely done.  The textures of the wrappers were pleasing, and the flavors of the fillings worked very well with the strong flavors of the consommé and jamón.  In fact, the consommé seemed to have been seasoned with something akin to Chinese five spice (五香)... and delivered a lovely and comforting familiarity.

September 11, 2017

Why I don't go to brand new restaurants

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Last week Chaxiubao pinged me, asking if I wanted to join him for dinner at Terroir Parisien - Yannick Alleno's first foray into Hong Kong.  I knew that the restaurant is brand new, and as most of my friends know, I have a habit of not going to brand new restaurants.  I was hesitant, as the chance of stepping on landmines is high.  I was then told that a few of our other friends are coming along.  I relented and agreed to go along, against my better judgement.

The address indicated that it is on the Mezzanine Floor of the Prince's Building, so I figured they had taken over the space previous occupied by can.teen.  But when I rode up the escalators from the front entrance of the building, I found that there was no access to the space.  The old entrance had been boarded up.  So I went around the floor.  No other entrance.  Nothing remotely that tells you there's a restaurant around.

I wasn't the only one.  I saw others looking lost, and I bet they, too, were looking for the restaurant.  I decided to go up to the Second Floor, as I remembered that the space used to have two entrances - one accessible from the walkway between Prince's Building and Alexandra House.  Sure enough, the restaurant's only entrance is from that side, and is best accessed by coming in from another building.  That's just plain stupid.

September 6, 2017

Les Créations de Krug en 2004

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I was privileged to have been invited to the launch of a few cuvées from the house of Krug.  These bottlings all have their origins in the year 2004, so it makes sense that they were showcased side-by-side in the same tasting.

The function room at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong was set up to handle a couple of different sessions, and the first thing I noticed was this spread of nibbles... Bite-size canapés which were both savory and sweet - and pretty to look at, too.

I was feeling surprisingly peckish, so I grabbed a few of these.  In retrospect, I probably should have had 3 plates at least...

September 5, 2017

Krug x Mushroom burger

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Last month when I was invited to an evening showcasing this year's Krug x Mushroom pairing, one of the things I tasted was the mushroom burger at Beef and Liberty.  At the time we were given a list of promotional dishes, pricing, and schedule.  The program for Beef and Liberty wasn't due to start for another month, so I had to patiently wait until I returned from Korea.

The promotion actually started last night, but since I was out for a wine dinner I couldn't reschedule, tonight was the earliest opportunity for me to take advantage of the offer.  And since Uwe is an old friend, I was gonna do what I can to support him.  So Hello Kitty and I booked ourselves a table, and pre-booked the Champagne and burger combo.

We start with some padron peppers first.  These are always fun to eat, since it's kinda like playing Russian roulette but with less severe consequences.  None of these were spicy tonight...

September 4, 2017

Great French wines, not-so-great American steaks

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It's been a couple of months since I last hosted a dinner for the MNSC boys, and now it was Curry Jayer's turn.  After a couple of years at Seventh Son (家全七福), this year the venue was changed to the American Club in Hong Kong.  There would be steak on the menu.

Our host decided to order a few simple dishes, which was just fine by me!  My stomach could use a little break from eating...

Caesar salad - actually pretty good.  Each of us took a chunk of romaine lettuce, and the croûtons were pretty nice.

Grilled Alaskan king crab legs - these were VERY tasty, with melted, seasoned butter dripping from the shells.

September 2, 2017

An Italian-Californian birthday

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I got a ping from My Favorite Cousin a couple days ago, telling me that her parents were coming into town this weekend.  Apparently it was my aunt's birthday, so even though I desperately needed break from eating out, I sucked it in and headed to dinner at Giando tonight.

Thankfully we can order à la carte and have an easy evening.  But My Favorite Cousin - being the greedy piggy that she is - decided to over-order... so I had to help her mop up the leftovers.

Insalata di ovuli, tartufo estivo e bottarga - it's hard to resist mushrooms in season, and even tougher when I see the word 'bottarga'...  Pretty fragrant, and overall nice and light.


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