April 30, 2018

Little birdy

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I'm meeting up with a visitor from overseas tonight, and one of the places she had wanted to hit while in town was Yardbird.  As it turns out - thanks to the no reservations policy - I have never been to Yardbird in all these years.  When I mentioned this to Matt Abergel a few months ago, he suggested that I drop by either right around their opening time of 6 p.m. or late in the evening.

So I made plans to meet up with my visitor just before the restaurant opened its doors.  There were about 15 of us at the door, and after the doors opened, the two of us found 2 well-lit spots at the bar.

We were given the drinks menus first, and we ordered glasses of a sake that was more sweet and elegant.

Yoshinosugi no Tarusake (吉杉野の樽酒) - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 70% and Sake Meter Value of 0.  The nose showed fermented flavors, and actually delivered strong notes of lychees.  Slightly dry on the attack, but softened mid-palate to become mild and elegant.

We ordered a few skewers of what we thought were the popular items, along with some things we didn't want to pass up.

Sweet corn tempura, sea salt, pepper - I was a little surprised that this showed up first, but hey... nothing wrong with that since I love corn.  Corn fritters are just up my alley.

April 28, 2018

Springtime in the south of France

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My mission to spread the word about Ricardo Chaneton's cuisine at "the new Petrus" continues, and tonight I managed to convince the Film Buff to join me.  Like many others, his last visit to the restaurant - under a different chef years ago - was not memorable... but he was willing to give the restaurant another try.

Our amuse bouche tonight was lobster with smoked herring roe, borage leaf, and finished with oil extracted by pressing black olives from Aix-en-Provence.  There seemed to be little bits of diced fruit mixed in... some type of melon, perhaps?

April 25, 2018

Au revoir, Nicolas!

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So the time has finally come - a time that I have been dreading since late last year.  Nicolas Lambert - my favorite pâtissier in Hong Kong - is leaving Caprice.  He's been in Hong Kong for 3 years, and it was time for him to see another part of the world.  After all, he's just picked up the title of Asia's Best Pastry Chef Award, sponsored by Valrhona, as well as the Best Pastry Chef Award from T.Dining.

Nicolas had been traveling around a lot, and I wanted to make sure that we saw him one last time before his departure.  He was only going to be back in town for 3 days, so Hello Kitty and I grabbed Chef DaRC - who had his first taste of Nicolas' creations at the lunch table with me - and we made arrangements with Hairy Legs to hit Caprice tonight.

We were fortunate to have the chef's table to ourselves.  Hairy Legs knew that our focus tonight was on the desserts, so he put together a couple of savory dishes without trying to overwhelm our stomach capacity...

We started with two nibbles:

Crispy tube with cream, lemon, sea urchin, and dill

Pita with chicken curry mousse

April 23, 2018

The last flowers of spring

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Since I bailed on dinner with Birdiegolf a week ago, I decided to make it up to them by meeting up this week.  I had seen Godenya (ごでんや) post about their seasonal ingredients, and I figured we needed to get ourselves there STAT.  Thankfully they're no longer booked out a month or more ahead, so I was able to get us seats with two weeks' notice.

The four of us were the only ones in the main dining room, so we had Goshima-san's (almost) undivided attention.  This time around, in addition to the English as well as the Japanese menu, the restaurant now has provided a third piece of washi (和紙) - with a list of ingredients and sakes showing their origins superimposed on a map of Japan.

April 20, 2018

Where the wild things are

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We're long overdue for a catch up with Winnie the Chew and the Zhongmeister, as they had been spending time in Japan recently.  When I proposed getting together, suddenly the choice of venue became clear to my friend - she requested that we go to Uwe.

She certainly wasn't the first to make this request.  There is, apparently, a special menu that exists for me only... or so my friends believe.  But it has been quite a few months since my last visit, and Uwe made sure to remind me of it tonight.

Farmer's hands - Uwe used to serve something similar at the Krug Room and the Mandarin Grill + Bar, and he's kept his relationships with local suppliers for his vegetables.  As usual, the "first course" here is a veritable feast in and of itself.  All the vegetables were locally foraged or farmed.

April 14, 2018

Dinner with know-nothing diva

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It's Babu's birthday today, so when pre-booking opened up for Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) Hong Kong, I made sure to secure a booking for tonight.  As long as she was gonna be in town, I would make sure that we spend some time together and treat her to some good Japanese food.

There are two seatings of 2 hours each for dinner, and the restaurant makes it a point to remind diners to arrive a little earlier so that service could start at the appointed time.  In spite of this, there always seems to be one group of people who takes a liberal interpretation when it comes to time - and arrive late.  Unfortunately for us, tonight would be no exception.

The 8 seats at the counter were taken up by two separate parties - Babu, Hello Kitty, and myself; and a group of 5.  Four people from the other group apparently trekked over from Macau, and ended up waiting a good 20 minutes for their diva friend living in Hong Kong.  Since Koba-san would not begin service until the entire party has been seated, that meant the diva's friends could only watch while the three of us started enjoying the delicious morsels being sent our way.

Mackerel bozushi (鯖の棒鮨) - I finally got a chance to try this, having seen pictures of it for quite some time.

April 13, 2018

Impromptu sushi

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My plans for today went through some changes in the last 36 hours.  My original plan was to hang with Fergie and the kids tonight while popping a few bottles from Napa, but I chose to "fly airplane" when another friend suddenly wanted to catch up.  I guess I'll have to make it up to the kids later...

After some back and forth, we finally settled on late dinner at Sushi Imamura (寿司処 今村).  It's an old favorite I used to frequent more than a decade ago, but these days it's largely neglected by my friends from the "foodie crowd".  It's always been good, though, whenever I have chosen to go back there.

Given that I'll be doing another sushi place for dinner tomorrow, I originally wanted to take a smaller set tonight.  But somehow it didn't work out that way... as I didn't want to have only sushi and give up on otsumami (おつまみ).

April 9, 2018

Gweilo twist on local classics

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My friend Uwe has opened yet another branch of Beef and Liberty in Hong Kong, and this time it's located in the restricted area of Hong Kong International Airport.  Apparently, the lease stipulates that they must introduce dishes which are unique and only served at that location, so Uwe has come up with a couple of interesting offerings based on classic dishes beloved by locals.

So it was that I strolled over from my office to the LKF branch of Beef and Liberty tonight for a quick tasting - because I wouldn't say 'no' to an invitation from an old friend.

Macaroni cheese breakfast toastie - the inspiration came from the now-classic Hong Kong breakfast set of macaroni in soup, fried egg, ham, and toast on the side.  Uwe decided to put them all into one dish, and used thick toast to make it extra special.

April 6, 2018

Hairy Ronin

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Tonight was meant to be a chance for Hairy Legs and I to catch up.  He had originally asked me to drop by Caprice for some cheese and wine, but a last minute change of plans saw the ladies join us at Ronin.  Hairy Legs has never been there, so even though Hello Kitty and I were just there 2 weeks ago, I figured we should just go along.  After all, I've never had a bad meal there.

Since we took the 8:30 seating tonight, both Matt and Elliot were in the house.  I had just seen Matt at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards last week, and I'm guessing Hairy Legs and Matt at least got to shakes hands back then.

I didn't want to take the full tasting menu because it is just too much food, and I was afraid that many of the dishes may overlap with what I had two weeks ago.  So I picked out a few key dishes I wanted, and asked Matt to put together the rest for us.

Once again, we started with some kale flower, dashi, yuzu.

Senposhi oyster, red shiso vinegar, sudachi - the oysters are from Senposhi (仙鳳趾) in Hokkaido.  This was a little briny but also sweet.  The red shiso (紫蘇) vinegar granité delivered a good dose of acidity, and the shaved sudachi (酢橘) zest brought along beautiful citrus fragrance.

April 3, 2018

No soup picture today

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I'm back at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) Hong Kong after a mere 5-day absence. This was an extra date that I had booked by mistake but was loathe to give up, and incredibly I had to ask - and get rejected - by around 10 friends before I finally realized who I should ask to join me.  Mrs. Birdiegolf would never say 'no' when it came to sushi...

I sat in the exact same seat as I did last week, and today the restaurant provided me with an extra napkin so I could rest my camera on the beautiful counter - made from Japanese cypress (檜) from a tree that had been 400 years old - instead of nestling it on my lap as I did last week.

Before we started, I was asked whether I wanted to substitute other neta (ねた) in place of bluefin tuna.  Yes, that would be nice... but I didn't want to cause too much trouble for Koba-san, so I left it up to him.

Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) - this was delicious.  The crab meat seemed to have been cooked with a little sake, along with some tomalley (蟹味噌).  Loved the fragrance while it was still warm.

April 2, 2018

Eating with chefs: breakfast with Pia

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Last night I got a ping from Ricardo asking for recommendations for dim sum breakfast.  Virgilio Martinez and Pía Léon were in town checking on the progress of their upcoming restaurant - which would be located across the street from my office - and they wanted to go somewhere traditional for an "authentic" experience.  In addition to Luk Yu Tea House (陸羽茶室) that Ricardo was considering, I also thought that Lin Heung Tea House (蓮香樓) could be an interesting alternative.  After all, Alain Ducasse did tag along when I took the Foodalist there for lunch with the owners.

Ricardo thought that things might be better if they had a local with them, so Hello Kitty and I dragged our asses out of bed this morning and met the visitors in the lobby of their hotel.  After presenting them with the two options - each with its pros and cons - it was decided that we would enjoy the tranquility of Luk Yu a little more...

It was around 9 a.m. and already a line of chauffeur-driven cars were parked outside the restaurant.  Being nobodies, we were immediately stopped by the doorman - who motioned for us to take the side entrance to go upstairs.

One orders by ticking off a list, and I jokingly handed it to Ricardo...  The dim sum here is pretty old school, with many items not seen on other menus around town - with the exception of Lin Heung down the street.


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