July 25, 2020

Goo Goo ga ga

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I had been seeing Hansik Goo pop up in social media posts from friends over the last couple of months, but I haven't paid much attention to new restaurants as we've been eating at home more this year.  I did hear some time ago that Chef Mingoo Kang was opening an outpost in Hong Kong, but again, I hadn't paid particular attention.  So it wasn't until Mingoo messaged me out of the blue about coming to Hong Kong that I kinda put two and two together...

Now that Mingoo is out after his 14-day mandatory quarantine, I figured I'd better go check out what he's serving up while he's still in town.  Thankfully they were able to accommodate us for a late lunch on short notice!

As we had to stick to the same choice of menu for the both of us, Hello Kitty had to sacrifice her diet while we took the 7-course menu.

Bugak: assorted seasonal Korean chips - fish skin, tofu, laver, perilla leaves, and pepper.  We were asked to save the pepper till last because it had been flavored with Korean soy sauce.  The others, however, were surprising mild in flavor.

July 18, 2020

Supporting chef friends: 2-star takeout

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The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for more than 6 months, and after a lull of more than a month, Hong Kong is now experiencing a "third wave" where daily new cases have spiked up to unprecedented levels.  This prompted the government to impose stringent measure on social distancing, and for the first time in history, restaurants are forbidden to serve dine-in guests starting at 6pm.  DINNER IS CANCELLED.

Faced with a drastic loss of revenue - which is especially devastating for fine dining restaurants which primarily (or solely) rely on dinner service - restaurants around town immediately launched takeout or delivery menus.  Some of them had been doing this for a while, but the one that caught my eye was from Ta Vie 旅 - one of my favorite restaurants in town.

I was, apparently, the first to ask Sato-san about their takeout menu, and placed an order two days ago for pickup tonight.  I managed to rope in Mr. and Mrs. Birdiegolf as our partners in crime, and they would be responsible for the starters for tonight's dinner.

We started with some bread and butter...

Challans duck leg confit with sautéed potatoes - well, the truth is that this was cold by the time I got to it after the starters.  It was still delicious, but I probably should have asked to have it heated up in the oven.  When Mr. Birdiegolf got around to the other leg, I insisted that he stick it in the oven.  I'm sure it tasted much, much better when the duck fat warmed up and liquefied somewhat.

July 12, 2020

Bar food on Sunday

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It's been a while since I caught up with Dada and The Man in White T-shirt.  We had planned to visit a local restaurant for some special stuff, but unfortunately the chef seemed to be busy these few weeks.  So Mr. White T-shirt booked us a table at the Lobster Bar in the Island Shangri-La.  I haven't been back here in more than 6 years, and I didn't even sit for dinner on that visit.  But I know there's a new chef around.

It would seem that Mr. White T-shirt had already made arrangements, and there was no need for us to order anything.  So we just waited for the kitchen to send us the goodies...

But first, a few words about the bread.  I hadn't expected it to be so delicious, but both the "white bread" and the sourdough were superb.  The crust was crunchy and fragrant, and I would have kept eating more slices if only they didn't take up any precious stomach space!

Crab on toast - the crab and mayo came with avocado, garnished with plenty of dill, and served on top of toasted brioche with beef drippings...  no wonder it tasted so sinfully good!

July 11, 2020

10-nen buri

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Another weekend where we felt that we should eat out a little more, but hadn't gotten our act together to book something with advanced notice.  Thinking that none of the usual suspects would have availability, I decided to call up Ishiyama (石山) to try our luck.  Thankfully they could still fit us in despite the social distancing measures that went into effect today.

For a few months ago 10 years ago, this was my "alternate" izakaya when I wanted something different.  However, I have pretty much forgotten about this place until late last year when I met the owners at a dinner.  I'm glad I dug it out of the back of my mind once again.

Hello Kitty was pretty happy to munch on these babylonia simmered in soy sauce.

July 8, 2020

Not your average "Indian" meal

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I first met Samaira about a year and a half ago in Macau, at a private after party with the crew from Caprice - who were celebrating the restaurant regaining their third Michelin star.  She is married to Suveg Kavatkar, one of the sous chefs of the restaurant, and during our chat I learned that she is the "real" cook in the family when it comes to "Indian food" - and I used the term out of sheer laziness as I generalized the vast and complex collection of regional cuisines from the sub-continent.  Sadly I never had the privilege to taste her cooking...

... until tonight.  I was pretty excited when I found out that Samaira was doing a pop-up at Test Kitchen - under the moniker of The Bombay East Indian Girl.  The event was organized with Wine Friends, and they very kindly extended me the invitation as it had already been sold out.  I managed to get seats tonight and joined Hairy Legs and Bilbaobab, but I did insist on paying for dinner.

We were seated at the big, communal table by the door, and it was good to catch up with Bilbaobab after not having seen her in so long.  It's good that we were all here to support Samaira and Suveg.

Frédéric Lornet Crémant du Jura Brut NV - definitely plenty of red fruits, and also a little pungent.  Very easy to drink but with a little bitterness on the finish.

Chakna: khakra - the crispy flatbread from Gujarat were meant to be taken with condiments.

July 4, 2020

Drunken onion, Hong Kong edition

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A few of us are fans of the sakes from Isojiman (磯自慢), and some of us have tasted a range of the good shit at Sake Tamanegiya (酒たまねぎや) in Tokyo.  Heck, a few of us have even gone wild and did verticals tastings - which is tough to do at most places.  So when DaRC asked if I wanted to join a tasting while none of us are able to travel to Japan for the near future, I was only too happy to accept the invitation.

The eight of us converged on Nikushou, and RAW Bro Yeah also joined us as a participant as he (mostly) ignored his clientele.  We would each bring a bottle, which I kinda felt was a little much when it comes to sake... but then again I've always been the lightweight.

Chilled Japanese snow crab, edamame mousse, Amela tomato - the Japanese snow crab (ズワイ蟹) from Hokkaido had very rich flavors and tasted of the ocean - very savory.  The edamame (枝豆) mousse was rich and creamy, and added a little sweetness along with light, green, vegetal flavors.  The Amela tomato (アメーラトマト) came with some ripeness along with acidity, and finally the ponzu (ポン酢) gelée delivered enough acidity to balance out the ocean from the crab.  Aromatics from perilla flowers for that final touch.  A great start to our evening.

July 3, 2020

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

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I was looking for something to do tonight while Hello Kitty would be out with her friends, and I figured that V might want some company while he is still home alone.  Given that we only started to discuss this yesterday, figuring out where to go eat turned out to be a challenge - especially when I didn't want to ask for any favors from chef friends.  On a Thursday night, I called 7 different restaurants for a table of 2 for dinner on Friday, and all of them were full.

I was happy that the hospitality industry was doing good business, but I still didn't have a place to eat and enjoy some wines.  Getting desperate, I suggested we go somewhere Chinese - specifically, Shanghainese.  The two choices I offered were Liu Yuan Pavilion (留園雅聚) and Jardin de Jade (蘇浙匯).  As my one and only visit was some 10 years ago, I decided to book a table at the latter, thinking it would be a little more modern.  Three of us - Hello Kitty included by now - would try to have a chill evening out.

I started to regret my choice of restaurant as soon as I started flipping through the menu.  This place is supposed serve Shanghainese cuisine, but there were a bunch of dishes typically seen on Sichuanese menus... and I also found a few Canto dishes - and even an Indonesian fried prawn cake!  I knew then that I should lower my expectations - even though the Rubberman has given this place a macaron since the 2013 edition of their guide.

Marinated chicken with Shaoxing wine (花雕醉雞) - I usually order this for Hello Kitty.  This was OK.

Black fungus and cucumber with red chillies (魯拌雲耳) - another thing I know Hello Kitty likes.  OK lah... not too spicy.


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