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.

In between the crunchy slices of thick toast were two types of cheese as well as béchamel.  Nice and sinful.

Char siu burger - a porky burger inspired by the beloved Cantonese roast meat dish of char siu (叉燒), except there's no barbecued pork here.

With a cross-sectional view, it is easy to see the thin slices of bacon - which have been marinated in a mix of honey, garlic, sugar, and pepper.  The flavors here are, honestly, a little too heavy.  There was a ton of coriander and spring onions on top, along with a small amount of red peppers.  While I generally like the fragrances coming from these herbs, in this case I thought it was a little much.

The pork patty was made with Scottish pork, but here is where my personal preference (I no likey rosemary) got in the way of me enjoying this.  Why was rosemary used here?  I understand that rosemary is a common herb used in pork patties or sausages in Western cooking, but if the inspiration came from char siu and you've already got this rather intimidating mound of Asian herbs like coriander and spring onion... why was it even necessary to throw in a very Western (and therefore foreign to Asian cooking) herb like rosemary?

One final complaint - and this was discussed at our table - was that the ingredients and flavors were so heavy here... that the small amount of carbs from the bun just wasn't enough for balance.  Either give the diner a bigger bun or cut down on the seasoning/marinade.

Hong Kong milk tea crème brûlée - these mugs and saucers emblazoned with the Black and White brand logo are ubiquitous in Hong Kong chachaantengs (茶餐廳), and often come with milk tea inside.  So it's actually a very nice touch to serve this dessert in these mugs.

Beneath the top layer of caramelized sugar is a custard made of milk tea.  The tea was brewed with a blend of Earl Grey as well as Chinese "black tea", allowing it to deliver a rich depth of flavors as well as complexity in fragrance.  This was VERY good, but simply too rich after I stuffed my face with that burger...

Way too rich of a "tasting" meal tonight... which didn't help as I dragged my butt back to the office for a couple of hours of light reading of legal documents.  Next time I fly out of Hong Kong International Airport, I will have this tough decision to make: "Popeye's? Or Beef and Liberty?"

P.S. A few hours before I came to this tasting, Hello Kitty grabbed lunch at the Beef and Liberty branch at the airport.  She came away impressed with the El Cabrón burger and wanted me to pass on her compliments to Uwe.

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