December 31, 2020

The best dishes I had in 2020

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The year 2020 is one that many people in the world would like to forget, and that includes yours truly.  On top of the global pandemic which halted travel and confined many of us to our own cities/countries, there has been personal loss on our side.  There has been sadness all around.

Having said that, we have found occasion to dine out and meet friends, to try to inject some measure of joy into our lives in this depressing year.  Other than my two trips to Taipei in January when I mostly ate at home, I haven't been outside Hong Kong the entire year.  Coupled with social distancing measures imposed or recommended by the government, we've dined out a lot less in 2020.

As in previous years, I have put together a list of the dishes which I thought were "the best", in the sense that they elicited the most amount of positive emotions from me. They are listed in chronological order here:

Pineapple bun (菠蘿包), from Dang Wen Li - I love that Dominique Ansel and his team created items inspired by the local dining culture, and what looked like a 菠蘿油 with a slab of butter turned out to be nothing of the sort.  The tropical flavors just worked together really, really well.

One last (last) star

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It's New Year's Eve, and none of us can dine out after 6 p.m.  So the same crew from Christmas Eve, when we also were barred from dining out, re-assembled for another quite evening at home.

Tonight, though, Hello Kitty decided that she wasn't going to cook.  Truth be told, she's cooked more in 2020 than the previous few years combined, so she certainly deserved a night off.  We chose to pick up different goodies from around town.

We started with these baked puff pastry with crab roe and cheese (蟹粉芝士燒餅) from China Tang (唐人館).  Kinda interesting, I guess.  Not a combination I would have imagined.

We also nibbled on some mortadella and prosciutto.

Last star of 2020

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It's Little Rabbit's last day in Hong Kong, and we were helping her check off stuff she wanted to eat before leaving.  When we weren't able to get a table at Seventh Son (家全七福) for lunch, we figured that Fook Lam Moon (福臨門) would do just as nicely.  Unfortunately, we were unable to satisfy two of our friend's requests today, but dim sum here seldom disappoints.

Pan-fried minced pork and lotus root patties (香煎蓮藕餅) - I sometimes forget how tasty these are, and they're actually a favorite of mom's.

December 27, 2020

Bling-bling Sunday

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As this crappy year slowly comes to a close, we find ourselves once again gathering with friends at home due to the government's ban on dine-in service after 6 p.m.  Chef DaRC very kindly hosted us at home and whipped up a series of beautiful dishes.  

We started with some caviar, and thankfully it was a smaller can than the one DaRC brought a couple of months ago.

As it turned out, Goldfinger had very kindly given me a box of goodies a few days ago.  Among the various tasty treats was this pack of Japanese gold foil... which I have no real use for.  I did, for a moment, consider putting some on my face...

December 25, 2020

Supporting restaurants: Christmas lunner

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It's Christmas Day, and we're kinda recovering from a quiet night at home.  I had been planning to take things easy and spend most of the long weekend at home, but seeing that we (clarification: Hello Kitty) would be cooking most of the week, I kinda wanted to see if we could pick a restaurant to support at the last minute.  As it turned out, Godenya (ごでんや) had seats for us today, although thanks to the government's ban on indoor dining after 6pm, meals are now scheduled at 4pm instead of dinner.

I was glad to see Goshima-san persevering through these tough times for the F and B industry, and glad that I could do my very small part to help them.

Ankimo, thousand-year old egg, persimon, monaka (鮟肝  皮蛋  柿  最中) - very happy to have this again, and nice to see additional ingredients in the dish.  The taiyaki (鯛焼き)-shaped monaka (最中) shell contained a layer of smoky paste made from the liver of monkfish caught off Yoichi (余市) in Hokkaido.  This time, though, there were chunks of sweet, seasonal persimmon buried inside.  The gelée made with dashi (出汁), mirin (味醂), and sake on top was the same, but tonight we had curry leaves on top.  I have to admit, though, that I didn't taste much century eggs (皮蛋)...

December 19, 2020

Last lunch in the 'hood

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It's been a while since I last turned up at my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong, so we decided we should try to squeeze one more meal in before closing out this really shit year.  With government ban on dining in after 6 p.m. in place, our only choice would be lunch service - something that Neighborhood doesn't normally offer.  Luckily we were able to grab a table for lunch today.

A list of crowd favorites over the years are available as part of the set lunch, so Hello Kitty and I ended up sharing our dishes.

Beef tartare / foie gras - what a way to start lunch!  The color of the beef was lighter than expected, and worked beautifully together with the diced onions and the thin layers of foie gras.  All of this was accented with some deep-fried garlic chips, hazelnut chunks, and cracked Sichuan peppercorns.  Really, really tasty.

December 6, 2020

Vanilla high

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It's Ro Ro's birthday and we wanted the chance to celebrate the big day with her.  It's been about a month since we last saw her, and we figured the thing to do would be to check out a place we haven't been before.  TIRPSE was a recommendation from my friend V some years ago, but I never made it to the original in Tokyo before their decision to close.  Somehow they ended up opening in Hong Kong at K11 Musea, and I have been kinda wanting to see what the fuss was about.

The minute I stepped into K11 Musea, though, I started kicking myself for my stupidity.  How could I possibly forget that THIS ENTIRE MALL REEKS OF ARTIFICIAL VANILLA SHIT??!!  The entire dinner experience would be ruined, and never mind the nice bottles of wines we brought along.

We were seated at two different tables tonight, thanks to the new social distancing rules imposed by the government.  We had lovely views of the harbor, and in fact there was a balcony in front of us with comfy seating.  How I wish we could swap out tables and be seated outdoors, so that we wouldn't have to smell that vanilla crap the entire time!

Amuse bouche (アミューズブッシュ) - this was a piece of foie gras torchon with some mint and sea salt jam, sea salt, and red perilla leaves.  

December 4, 2020

CC, our very own dogcow

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After 177 days, we are once again a family of three.  There is the pitter patter of little feet in the apartment.

We spent the last 6 months grieving over our beloved asshole Kuma.  2020 has been an unbelievably shit year for us, and we didn't think we would have another dog in the house until at least next year.  Hello Kitty had thought about getting a dog from an ethical breeder outside Hong Kong, as both dogs she had adopted in Hong Kong ended up with severe health problems and left her too young.  

As we wouldn't be able to travel to these groomers until some time in 2021, we were resigned to only looking at cute dogs on Instagram.  We discussed the breed of dog we would get, with Bichon Frise, West Highland White Terrier, and Coton de Tuléar - all white dog breeds, incidentally - being the front runners.

Recently, though, Hello Kitty began fielding calls on dogs needing adoption, and on a Saturday in late November, we made the trek out to a volunteer shelter in Sai Kung to check out a brown poodle mix.  While we spent time among the 20 or so dogs there, Hello Kitty noticed a mutt who she thought was very cute.  She was shy but would quietly come up to us, looking for attention without demanding it.

We were told that the mutt named Cheung Zai (腸仔) - Cantonese for wiener - has been at the shelter for a few months without anyone showing interest in her.  Meanwhile, the dog we went to see had at least 3 families showing interest, and a decision would have to be made regarding which family would get him.  

Hello Kitty pretty much changed her mind right away.  One of the reasons why we prefer to adopt is to make sure that we can save a life, and that we can give an animal a loving home that it otherwise wouldn't have.  And it seemed very obvious that the mutt is the one who would need our love more, as she hadn't managed to attract interest for months.  

Two days after meeting her for the first time, Hello Kitty picked up our 2-year-old mutt, took her for a bath, and brought her home.

November 29, 2020

Delicate dishes for a Sunday night

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It has been much, much too long since my first visit to Yong Fu (甬府), so when it was suggested that we visit another restaurant with a somewhat repertoire, I figured we should come here instead.  After all, my meal here was filled with so many highlights I should have returned earlier.

Once again, we asked the manager to help put together a menu with the fresh and seasonal ingredients for the 4 of us.

Hello Kitty and I nibbled on the amuses bouches while we waited for Mr and Mrs Film Buff to arrive.  The marinated wood ear fungus was pretty nice.

November 25, 2020

A strong lunch game

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It's a rare occurrence when one of my friendly neighborhood broker wants to take me to lunch, but as it is getting close to year end, I guess it seemed like a good opportunity to do this kind of thing.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that the venue would be Écriture, as it's a restaurant I've always been happy to visit.

I walked past the open kitchen and waved to Maxime, who was surprised to see me.  He remarked that it has been so long since I was here and he no longer remembered when my last visit was.  I, of course, remember very well.  It was exactly a week before we said goodbye to Kuma.

I've only been here for lunch once, and that was when I took a full menu.  So I was a little surprised that the "short" lunch consisted of 5 courses.  That's a lot of food for people who are on the clock.  The restaurant has changed to their game menu, so I decided to choose all the game dishes whenever I could.

It has been much, much too long since I last held this knife with my hand...

Japanese steamed bun, hay panna cotta, lemon gel, quail egg, black truffle - very creamy indeed.

Crispy dough with buckwheat, cauliflower bavarois, nori seaweed, crispy white bait

Crispy potato curl, coriander hummus, edible flowers 

November 24, 2020

Peanuts for everyone

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The Peanut Gang needed one more gathering before the end of this shit year, and this time we finally made it to our original scheduled venue for our last dinner together.  Ren Ren Heping Restaurant (人人和平小飯店) is, surprisingly, within walking distance of my apartment.  Somehow I never got around to visiting this neighborhood restaurant after 10 months of living in the area.  

Since we came with two VIPs - one of whom actually had a VIP discount card for the restaurant - I knew we were in good hands.  They know exactly what to order.

Award-winning honey char siu (本地蜂蜜叉燒) - wow, this was pretty damn good!  The exterior was relatively dry and not at all like many of the caramelized, honey-glazed versions around, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the center would be tough and dry.  But the middle was surprisingly tender, although it was by no means succulent.  The candied mung beans on the side were nice.

November 21, 2020

Dog day afternoon

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We're in Sai Kung today to visit a shelter for rescue dogs, and for one reason or another didn't have time to grab lunch at a more reasonable hour.  I was starving by the time we were free to eat around 4 p.m., and I was determined to make up for it by getting a decent meal.  Since we're in an area famous for their seafood, I figured we should make our way to Loaf On (六福菜館). We were the only table in the restaurant, and the staff had to turn the lights back on for us. As we were only two, we couldn't order a lot of dishes.

Baked abalone with chili and garlic (椒鹽焗鮑魚) - difficult to come here and not order this.  These were pretty decent in size. although not as thick as the ones we had last time.  Still very tasty.

November 19, 2020

Memories of Spain

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Following the footsteps of his bromance twin, Goldfinger has also decided to open up a new restaurant with the same restaurant group as financial backers.  I am, as usual, in no hurry to check out Andō.  Plenty of others who are itching to go can report back, and I'd just sit back and see if it's the same ol' shit from HAKU, or if it's going in a different direction.

Well, it's been about 4 months, so I guess it was time to go see Goldfinger.  I rounded up Mr. and Mrs. Birdiegolf as we were overdue for a meal together, and chalked it down as part of the month-long birthday celebrations.

We decided to take the 8-course menu because, well, we came to try out some dishes.  

Beef tartare with Kristal caviar - the Argentinian Angus was aged for 21 days and seasoned with orange, lime, and lemon zest.  Topped with crispy shallots, Kaviari Kristal caviar, and perilla flowers.  Good combination of textures, and the flavors were lighter than expected.

November 18, 2020

Thai food for lunch

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I'm taking a rare day off work in the middle of the week, and of course I ended up working most of the day anyway.  I did, however, allow myself a leisurely lunch with Hello Kitty - which is something we haven't enjoyed together much during the work week.  I asked her where she wanted to go, and wouldn't you just know it... she picked some place that was literally across the street from my office!

Aaharn (อาหาร) has been open for a while now, but somehow we never got around to checking it out.  It's not my usual practice to hit places when they're new, and somehow none of my friends ever talked about this place much.  That's kinda strange, especially considering the chef behind it... and the fact that it has a Michelin star.  We came for a late lunch, and got a table on the balcony overlooking the Tai Kwun courtyard.

We each took the 3-course set lunch for our first taste.

Pineapple with popcorn chicken and chilli paste - the chicken/chili paste was pretty sweet, but did pack a reasonable amount of heat.

November 17, 2020

Hare on fire

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It's game season, and that means bunnies are on the menu at Caprice.  I've been seeing Hairy Legs' bunny dishes showing up on friends' social media, and finally it was my turn to taste them.  I knew that the ladies aren't big fans of these heavy dishes, so I figured we should make it into a boys' night.

I was looking forward to the three dishes featuring hare, but as I was bringing a bottle of sake, I asked Hairy Legs to put together a dish or two which would work with sake.  I would come to regret that, a little...

First, the usual suspects:

Button mushroom and foie gras gelée tart

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar

Pita with curry chicken mousse

November 14, 2020

Very fine indeed

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It's been a couple of months since the Film Buff and I sat at the same table, so we made plans to try out a new place while polishing off a couple of bottles.  We eventually settled on Le Bec Fin, which is a place both of us have wanted to check out for a while.  

Amuse bouche was a chanwanmushi (茶碗蒸し) with white truffle.  Very nice and comforting to warm up the stomach, but a little too big as an 'amuse bouche', to be honest.  A little interesting that the texture was not consistent throughout.

November 12, 2020

White truffle with VIP

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My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin wanted to get her white truffle fix, so Hello Kitty promptly pinged Little Rabbit to figure out when 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana might have a table during the very busy white truffle season.  Since I don't really have much of a relationship with the chefs or the group, it was much easier to let a VIP handle this.

We left things up to the chefs, although Hello Kitty did, surprisingly, request a specific dish that wasn't on the menu at the moment.  I was just glad that I didn't have to make any decisions today.

Chanterelles with mushroom foam and white truffle - always nice to start with this amuse bouche and get ourselves in the mood for what's coming.

November 10, 2020

Getting creative with hairy crab

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This Arrogant Prick has never been popular with PRs, so I very seldom receive invitations to tastings.  But a couple of weeks ago, I received an email which seemed to have strayed into my inbox by accident.  Someone I don't know wanted to invite me to taste the seasonal menu at Sushiyoshi (寿し芳).  Are they out of their minds?  Do they know who I am?  As it turns out, one of the bosses does know who I am and is well aware of my reputation.  I took a quick look at the kind of stuff that this Osaka import turns out, and decided that I was intrigued enough to give it a try.

The restaurant apparently is serving a seasonal menu featuring Shanghainese hairy crab (大閘蟹).  This was certainly interesting, and I really wanted to see if chef Sugawara Ryohei (菅原良平) could deliver the flavors in sushi form.

There are 20 courses on the menu, which is a little daunting because that's a lot of food.  Twenty pieces of nigiri from Sukiyabashi Jiro (すきやばし  次郎) is pretty filling, and here some of the courses would be bigger than a standard nigiri.  I was in for an interesting evening.

We started with some Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée, which went down pretty easily.

Akagai sashimi with seaweed, passion fruit foam - I'm normally not a great fan of the ark shell (赤貝) due to its strong iodine flavors, but tonight the fruity and acidity flavors in the vinegar and passion fruit foam helped to neutralize the iodine.  Kudos to the chef!  The cucumber and the chrysanthemum from Yamagata Prefecture (山形県) were nice, but it was the iwa mozuku (岩もずく) from Okinawa that was the most interesting.  The "normal" mozuku is usually limp, but this was pretty crunchy.  A pretty good start to the meal.

November 1, 2020

Another deep-fried birthday

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I received a happy invitation to lunch today.  We are here to celebrate The Man in White T-shirt's birthday, and Dada has asked Suzuki-san at Hidden (秀殿) to put together a special menu for us.  It's one of our favorite places in Hong Kong, and I was pretty happy to be back here again.

I was thirsty so I started with a girlie drink.  Unlike the ladies who kicked off with a highball, I was trying to pace myself so I could focus on the wines.

Yamanokotobuki Furufuru (山の寿  フルフル) - this is an umeshu (梅酒) made with two types of mango - Alphonso and Irwin - as well as passion fruit.  I loooove mango, so it was a no-brainer.  Interesting that there was a hint of bitterness here.

October 31, 2020

Back room with normal people

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My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin has been missing good sushi as we've all been stuck in Hong Kong this year, so she requested that we go back to Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう). So I dutifully contacted the restaurant and asked for the first available lunch on a Saturday, and five weeks later, here we are.

The restaurant had forgotten about our dietary preferences on our last visit, and I also happened to see Mrs. Birdiegolf posting about fish cum from her visit yesterday, so I made sure to reiterate our preferences to Fujimoto-san.  He was genuinely surprised, because obviously no one has ever told him.  I guess only Koba-san knew...

Octopus (蛸) - very, very tender as usual, with the exterior layer half-liquefied.  Served with a little yuzu (柚子) zest shaving.

October 29, 2020

Silly garnishes on Chinese food

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I received an invitation from my friendly neighborhood broker wanting to catch up over lunch, and she has a habit of picking out nice restaurants.  In fact, we like some of the same restaurants.  So I was a little surprised when she chose Ying Jee Club (營致會館).  It's a place I really haven't had much desire to visit, but I was curious.

As she is more familiar with the restaurant - and she's buying - I let her choose what she wanted to eat.  It's lunch and we're having Cantonese cuisine, so it seemed natural to start with some dim sum.

Pork dumpling with shrimp and flying fish roe (蟹籽鮮蝦燒賣) 

October 28, 2020

Sine Qua Non toast, part 5

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I received an email from a wine merchant who was organizing a dinner to taste the fantastic wines from Sine Qua Non.  This piqued my interest, and the venue is a restaurant I have been wanting to visit.  I found the wines a little on the young side, but figured I would pass the details to my group of SQN fans to see if anyone is interested.  When you're in a group that includes one of the largest collectors of SQN in town, it's not surprising that someone proposes that we do our own tasting with better wines...

Since BC was unable to make our last gathering at Nikushou, we decided to come back so he could try the food.  And also meet RAW Meat Bro Yeah.  I let the boss know what kinds of wine we were bringing, and gave him free rein on the menu.

Chilled Japanese snow crab, vinegar jelly - I always love this dish with Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹), as it works so well with the vinegar jelly. Tonight the jelly seemed to deliver deeper flavors than usual.  The crab tonight was from Hokkaido.  The perilla flowers on top brought beautiful aromatics.  

October 24, 2020

Two buckshot

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A week after my last dinner, I'm back at Neighborhood to meet up with DaRC and Ro Ro.  One benefit of knowing the boss is that he is aware of all the dishes you had just a few days ago, so The Man in White T-shirt made sure that the kitchen sent out very different dishes.

Smoked sea bream - once again the kitchen sends out a smoked fish, but tonight this was sea bream (臘魚).  While I didn't mind the very soft flesh, DaRC found it too mushy for his liking.  While we didn't get slices of bottarga, it was instead grated over the plate to ensure the flavors were still present.

October 17, 2020

The Great big birthday

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A few of us were invited by the Kat to help celebrate The Great One's birthday, and naturally this meant dinner at Neighborhood.  Social distancing mandates are still in place, so we had to split into separate tables for the occasion.  We have, of course, gotten used to this by now.

I never know ahead of time what's on the menu, but one thing for sure is that there would be way, waaaay too much food coming out of the kitchen.  The Man in White T-shirt is nothing if not consistent, especially on this point. Much to my surprise, a menu was actually printed up for us... although we weren't supposed to see it and the dishes were meant to be surprises. 

Smoked grey mullet / bottarga - WOW!  I couldn't believe we were starting with this monster... A whole grey mullet which has been smoked, along with homemade bottarga using mullet roe.

October 15, 2020

But for the love of truffle

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It has been much, much too long since I saw enjoyed Belo's company... and for that matter, the Baller, too.  So a plan was concocted for us to gather and enjoy a few bottles together.  When I was given the task of choosing the restaurant, it didn't take me long to settle on 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.  It was among my favorite and frequently-visited restaurants when it first opened, although I haven't been there much in recent years.  I figured it was time to go, and the fact that white truffle season has started also worked well.

We decided to order à la carte, and I was pretty ambitious... which prompted the Baller to follow suit so that I wouldn't be having one of the courses all by myself.

Our amuse bouche tonight was made with mushroom soup, sautéed chanterelles, mushroom foam, and shaved white truffle.  A proper start to our dinner.

October 13, 2020

Post-typhoon dinner

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Time for the Peanut Gang to gather once again, even though we had met up just over a month ago.  Brother KC had promised to take us to a famous "yellow shop" with great food, but alas... as Hong Kong was shut for most of the day on account of Typhoon Nangka brought strong winds to the city, the restaurant chose not to open tonight.  PR8 went into high gear and quickly arranged a room for us at West Villa Restaurant (西苑酒家).

It's been way too long since I was last here, so I left the ordering to the adults... and just waited for the food to arrive.

Honey glazed BBQ pork (西苑大哥叉燒) - wow!  It's been a while since I had char siu here, and this was pretty damn good!  Good amount of marbling here.  Very tender.

October 10, 2020

Grown Boy

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Tonight we had a very small gathering to commemorate a very special occasion.  Thanks to government mandated social distancing measures, we are still limited to a maximum of 4 persons per table when dining out... which was how four of us ended up at the chef's table at Caprice.

Hairy Legs kept asking me what I wanted on the menu, as he wanted to make sure that we will have a very happy meal.  As usual I left it up to him, as long as the dishes would match the wines I had brought.  The only exception, which was something I mentioned to him only last night, would be his classic abalone carbonara.  

First came the jewel box with the three amuses bouches:

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar - with cauliflower mousse.  The salmon was nice and a little smoky, with two wafer of crispy pastry.  Always nice to start with this.

October 9, 2020

A wonderful second dinner

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I was dropping off wines for my dinner tomorrow at Caprice, and not surprisingly, Hairy Legs asked me to sit down at the chef's table so that he could feed me a second dinner. 

Pâte en croûte - I'm really happy that this has now become available pretty much year-round, and not just during game season the way it used to be.  Always so tasty.

October 8, 2020

Arrogant Prick and a jaded palate

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It's been much too long since we last caught up with Farmer Chris, and I finally decided it was time to open a bottle of wine with him, especially as his birthday had just passed.  It's been just over a year since I was last at VEA, and I thought it was time to check out how Vicky Cheng's cuisine has evolved.

Vicky asked us whether we wanted a 6- or 8-course menu, and since Farm Chris was pretty hungry, we went for the larger option.  I did request, though, that Vicky not send us too much food.

As usual the meal started with some snacks:

Drunken sea snail - the babylonia was marinated with Wujiapi wine (五加皮酒) and Huadiao wine (花雕酒).  Flavors were decent, and thankfully I didn't get any sand tonight...

October 7, 2020

If it makes you happy

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Given that her birthday is being bracketed by a couple of special dinners, we have chosen not to plan anything special or fancy on the actual day with Hello Kitty.  Instead, we made a last-minute decision to hit one of her favorite places in town.  Thankfully Hidden Kitchen (秀殿) was able to accommodate us on very short notice.

As I waited for Hello Kitty to finish her happy hour, I decided to do something I love... which was to order up a girlie drink.  This melon plum wine (メロン梅酒) definitely ticked all the boxes.

October 4, 2020

Relaxing and comfy dinner

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It's been a few weeks since we last saw DaRC and Ro Ro, so we made plans to catch up over dinner.  DaRC thought about trying some place new to him and threw out Roganic as a suggestion.  Since I had a pretty good lunch there last year, I was more than happy to go back.

As it's Sunday night and Ro Ro didn't feel like taking the long tasting menu, we chose to have the short tasting menu while adding a supplementary course for the rest of us.  We figured that would actually work out better.  And it did.

Ragstone tart, pickled onion, shallot confit - nice sweetness from the confit shallots, along with some acidity from the pickled onion jam.  The goat cheese was decent.

Dim sum for two

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Hello Kitty had a hankering for some simple wonton noodles, so we decided to pay Ho Hung Kee (何洪記) a visit.  This traditional eatery never disappoints, and can always be counted on to serve up some quality noodles, congee, and even dim sum items.

Rice noodle rolls filled with twisted cruller (香脆油條腸粉)
- 炸兩 is something I order every time I'm here.  Unlike what is done at some run-of-the-mill congee shops, they fry up the cruller to order before wrapping them in the rice noodle rolls, so the crullers are nice and crunchy when they arrive.  A drizzle of soy sauce and a dip in the duo of sesame and plum sauces later, a delicious mouthful every time.

October 2, 2020

Mooncake 2020: pandemic edition

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Thanks to the pandemic, travel is severely limited and pretty much non-existent.  That means I don't get to go home to the Parental Units with a selection of mooncakes from Hong Kong.  I don't have much interest to consume a lot of mooncake on my own, although I do try to keep observing this part of my heritage - especially since I am separated from my loved ones this year during this traditional time for family reunions.  The lines "但願人長久, 千里共嬋娟" from the classic poem by the great Su Shi (蘇軾) - aka Su Dongpo (蘇東坡), the person Dongpo pork (東坡肉) was named after - really hit a chord this year...  And I will always remember the poem as sung so beautifully by Teresa Teng (鄧麗君).

So here's a collection of what I managed to taste, between gifts from brokers I shared with the office, some I bought for myself, and others shared at gatherings.

September 28, 2020

The Chairman in Amber Rain

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It's been a long, long time since I last saw The Great One.  We had been hanging out in different circles in the era of social distancing, and I don't remember how many years it's been since we spent this many months without dining together.  So I was very happy when she asked me to join her at The Chairman (大班樓).  I haven't been back since January, so I was eager to see what would be on the menu.

Sea snail cooked in salted fish paste (XO花螺)
- not a fan of babylonia, since I generally suck at removing the digestive tracts.  Of course I ended up with sand in my mouth...

September 19, 2020

Green fruits, eggs, and no ham

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It's been a while since our first visit to Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel (當文歷餅店), and although we had occasionally gone to pick up and try new creations, I figured it was about time we went back for some dine-in items.  Since we seemed to be experiencing a lull in terms of new Covid-19 cases, I felt more comfortably hitting (what used to be) a busy shopping mall for this.

Most people come here for the cute and photogenic sweet creations, but Dominique has always been able to deliver delicious savory items at his outlets.  Since Hello Kitty isn't big on the sweet stuff, we ordered the two items we had not yet tried.

Silk egg katsu sando - this was like one of those Japanese cutlet sandwiches (カツサンド), except that in place of meat like pork, chicken, or shrimp you've got egg instead.

September 18, 2020

Sticks and starch

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Hello Kitty has been hankering to go back to Hidden Kitchen (秀殿), and it's been quite a long time since I was last there.  Thankfully a few weeks ago Fergie managed to get us a booking, so we happily returned to an old favorite.

The restaurant has been hit hard in the last 15 months, as it's right around the center of action during the massive anti-government protests in 2019.  Of course, the pandemic of 2020 made things even worse, as government mandates reduced seating and, during the span of a few weeks, shut down dinner service altogether.  So I was particularly happy to come back here and show them some support.

I was the last one to arrive, and apparently the hungry people had already placed the first round of orders... and started drinking...

Vinegared seaweed (もずく醋)
- with some grated mountain yam (とろろ) in addition to grated ginger.  Nice and acidic to whet one's appetite... although I suspect that wasn't in the least bit necessary in our case.

September 14, 2020

100 grams

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Chef DaRC rounded up a bunch of us for dinner tonight.  He had gotten to know a caviar supplier in town and now had a 1.8kg can of Kaluga (Queen?) caviar he wished to share with us.  I know he's already done a dinner at home with one of these big cans, and I was curious to see what a "real" chef would do with this.  Unfortunately Neighborhood isn't open for business tonight, so we ended up gathering at Nikushou.

I gotta give it to RAW Meat Bro Yeah.  He knew we were a picky bunch and rose to the challenge by creating a 11-course menu with the help of Chef DaRC.  

After opening the can up to show our group of voracious diners, we each took one (or two, in some cases) of spoonfuls and placed the eggs on the backs of our hands... before proceeding to lick it clean.  Always a great way to sample caviar.

September 13, 2020

Another Penfolds evening

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 I've been waiting for a while to pop open a few bottles of wine.  After failing to bid on a number of special bottles of Penfolds at a Sotheby's auction last year, I decided I would source them from my usual list of suppliers.  And I figured that 2020 - the 30th anniversary of the vintage - would be a good time to pop them open.   So I roped in Film Buff and V, then was pleasantly surprised when the Candidate agreed to join us even though we were drinking Aussie wines...

I've only been to Dynasty (滿福樓) twice in the last 10 years, but the venue was suggested since a couple of people can take advantage of their membership discount.  The food is pretty solid there, and I've been assured that wine service is adequate.  It was reassuring to see three decanters ready for us to use when I arrived.

Barbecued pork (蜜汁烤叉燒) - always a dish that one must order here.  There was enough marbling here to make this really tender, and the charred edges were great.  I wouldn't have minded just having this dish by myself and not sharing...


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