April 25, 2020

Supporting chef friends: Stereo RC

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While Hong Kong has not officially shut down, shelter-in-place, or triggered "circuit breaker" as many other cities and countries around the world have, Hong Kongers have been practicing social distancing for the last 3 months - even dispensing with the traditional Lunar New Year greetings among family and friends.  As people stay home and reduce their frequency of dining out, and with the government mandating reduced seating capacity and other measures, restaurants have been going through tough times.  Many restaurants, including those at the fine dining end of the spectrum, have followed their peers around the world to offer takeout or delivery menus for the first time.

Ricardo Chaneton at MONO has rolled out a series of boxed sets exclusively for takeout or delivery, which is offered under the punny moniker of Stereo by MONO.  Of those, I decided to take Ricardo's recommendation and ordered the Latin America Inspired Set 1.  I figured there should be enough food for Hello Kitty, My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin, and myself.  To save the restaurant from incurring delivery costs, I offered to pickup in person,

This was a pretty nice spread, with starters, a generous main course, and dessert.

April 22, 2020

Discount ribeye

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It's been a while since Fat Donkey and I caught up over dinner with just the two of us, and I figured we could blow off some steam and catch up on current events.  I had initially suggested that we return to CIAK - In the Kitchen as they are offering 30% off food items (but only on their regular menu, not on any "specials", as I discovered a few weeks ago), but Fat Donkey counter-offered with Beefbar - another establishment backed by Uncle Peter that is also offering 30% discount.  So we settled for some beef.

Homemade sea urchin tagliolini - arguably my favorite dish at the restaurant, and we ordered 1 serving to share between us.  This was just... perfect.  The rich shellfish sauce was so, so tasty... and perfect with just a couple of tongues of sea urchin.

April 17, 2020

Supporting restaurants: precious little flowers of spring

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Hello Kitty and I have been cooped up at home for a while, and at times she's had to cook two meals while being busy working during the day, so I wasn't surprised when she requested that we dine out somewhere nice tonight.  The question as always is: which restaurant should we support?  Beyond supporting chefs who are friends, we also want to make sure we prioritize smaller, independent establishments without the resources of larger restaurant groups.

When I had dinner at Godenya (ごでんや) last month, I asked Goshima-san about sansho flowers (花山椒), that magical, ephemeral ingredient sought-after every spring in Japan.  It wasn't in season then, but Goshima-san promised to let us know when they were able to bring it in.  Well, their arrival was announced last week, and I've been looking for an opportunity to come back while they are still available.  Fortunately, there were still two seats available for tonight, so I booked them a few hours before dinner.

I was surprised that the restaurant was just about full - or at the highest capacity they can reach without breaching government regulations.

Kegani, glass shrimp, uni, kiyomi (毛蟹  白海老  雲丹  サマー清見  若芽) - nice to start with something fruity and refreshing.  There was an interesting mélange of textures, a nice range of flavors from the sweet and creamy sea urchin and glass shrimp, the creamy sea urchin sauce, the slightly more savory Japanese horsehair crab, the umami of the wakame (若芽) chips, the acidity of the gelée made from dashi (出汁) and yuzu vinegar (柚子ポン) as well as the citrus acidity.  Goshima-san always knows how to kick off a meal.

Iseno Shiroki Junmai Nama Sparkling (伊勢の白酒  純米生活性), 1BY - served at 10°C. Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 65%.  Fruity nose, sweet and tropical on the palate, with some acidity to balance things.  A little fizz on the tongue, easy to drink and a very happy sake to drink.  Not a very serious sake, very casual, but makes me happy.

April 12, 2020

Corona Easter

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It's Easter Sunday, and we had planned to meet up with DaRC to support a local restaurant.  Unfortunately, a number of places we would like to patronize don't open for lunch, so Chef DaRC offered to host us at home.  With the current Covid-19 pandemic raging across the globe, everything seems different.

These langoustines were flown in from Iceland, and they were pretty gigantic!  Chef DaRC blanched them for a short period so that they turned out mi-cuit.  Very, very nice.

April 10, 2020

Supporting chef friends: social distancing in the 'hood

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It's been a couple of months since I last saw The Great One, having had a couple of dinners cancelled in the meantime.  She was planning a night out at our favorite Neighborhood, but thanks to the new rules on social distancing, the poor Kat wouldn't be able to sit at the same table as the girls.  Would Hello Kitty and I come and keep the Kat company?  Of course we would.

We arrived to find three groups of tables set up in the main dining room.  The Great One has arrived and was seated at our usual table by the window.  The Kat and the two of us would be seated at the middle table, which has now been placed at a suitable distance apart from the other two tables.  And I was pleasantly surprised to see the other table occupied by friends celebrating their daughter's birthday.

So the seven of us are seated at two separate tables, although we should have the same menu and share some of the larger dishes.  I even offered some of the wine from the magnum I brought, seeing as the ladies didn't have any red of their own.  But we kept our distance to comply with the rules.

Basque saucisson "noir de bigorre" - always one of my favorites, and what a delicious way to start dinner!  Very, very tasty pork here.

Swiss Valais sheep ham - one look at the color showed that this was no longer the culatello from Massimo Spigaroli.  The first bite confirmed it.  The flavors were so strong, so salty, so fermented and a little pungent that they almost tasted like bottarga or a chunk of katsuobushi (鰹節).   WOW!  Pretty sure this was my first taste of ham made from sheep.

April 5, 2020

East to west

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An unexpected restaurant closure this morning left us scrambling to find a venue for early dim sum, and we ended up arriving at Hoi King Heen (海景軒) in the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong.  It was not yet 11 a.m. and the lobby of the hotel was completely empty, with no a guest in sight.  We also ended up being the first table to be seated at the restaurant... but hey, we had our choice of tables under the new social-distancing regime.

Baked bacon puff pastry with spring onion (香蔥煙肉燒餅) - not great.  I normally love these copies of the Shanghainese 蟹殼黃, but the problem with this version was that bacon bits were used instead of Chinese ham, and the flavors were kinda overpowering.


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