August 28, 2020

Supporting chef friends: back at dinner

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The Compatriot wanted to hit more of his favorite restaurants in town before he flew out, and Ta Vie 旅 is definitely one of them.  When the government announced that dine-in restrictions would be relaxed starting today to allow dinner service until 9pm, I immediately changed my booking from lunch to dinner.

I didn't tell Sato-san who I was coming with, so when the Compatriot showed up Takano-san was very surprised to see him... and immediately reminded my friend that he had left a bottle of white wine here from his last visit - which would have been more than 2 years ago, surely!

As I had been here for lunch a couple of weeks ago, Sato-san very kindly designed a different menu for me so that I wouldn't have to repeat dishes.  In fact, there was only one dish that was a repeat.

We started with the usual...

House made butter

House made ricotta

Nukazuke bread - I don't think I'll ever tire of having this house made bread with nukazuke (糠漬け).  That beautiful thin crust...

August 22, 2020

There IS such a thing as free lunch... kind of

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This meal was about 3 years overdue.  I normally BYO so it's rare that I even pick up the wine list at a restaurant.  But some time ago I noticed that a couple of vintages of a very rare wine were "mispriced" at Petrus - by that I mean the prices on the restaurant wine list were lower than the prevailing retail prices.  This is something that one usually only finds in certain restaurants in Europe or the U.S. - where wines are often purchased direct from wineries upon release, and any adjustments to pricing thereafter are "reasonable" and do not catch up to the crazy secondary market.  This rarely happens in Asia, however... as most restaurants don't have direct allocations from wineries, and need the mark-up to help with their rental costs.

It's an itch I've been waiting to scratch for 3 years, and I found out recently that I had waited too long... one of the vintages of this wine is no longer available.  But seeing that the remaining vintage was still priced about 50% below retail, I decided to round up a couple of people to pop open this baby.

With government mandated social distancing rules still in place, we were seated at adjacent tables with sufficient space in between... and had to talk a little louder than I normally would at an establishment like this.  I didn't give any instruction to chef Uwe Opocensky about how hungry we were, but I kinda expected him to revert to his old habit of trying to kill me...

Cheese gougère - the cheese filling was still there, but now we've got shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.

August 8, 2020

Supporting chef friends: lunch in the 'hood

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The Compatriot is back in town after a long absence, and life hasn't been easy during quarantine and the subsequent social distancing, so I scheduled to meet up with him at one of our favorite restaurants.

With dinner service banned by the government, Neighborhood has started to offer lunch in addition to takeout options.  A 3-course set lunch with the option to add courses is now on offer, and the pricing is entirely reasonable.

Local fish soup - this is always a good call, and the beautiful and rich flavors are irresistible.  Especially love the fennel and the piment d'espelette.

August 7, 2020

4 star day: sushi takeout

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Hello Kitty's been cooking at home a lot as we stay in and practice social distancing, and she really deserves a break.  So I figured that ordering takeout for dinner tonight would be nice.  Since I discovered only yesterday that Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) is doing takeout, I immediately pinged Fujimoto-san and asked about availability - as there are only very limited quantities available.  Thankfully I was able to reserve some for today.

Barachirashi (バラチラシ) - believe it or not, this was actually pretty filling, and there was a good variety of toppings layered on the rice.

4-star day: char siu and ramen

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It has been much too long since I last enjoyed a leisurely lunch on a weekday, and after all that's happened lately I thought I should take a little break.  Today's lunch was meant to have taken place a week ago, but thanks to the sudden ban - which was quickly reversed 2 days later - of all dine-in services, we ended up not showing up at the doors of Ta Vie 旅.

Thankfully we found time for lunch today, and the dish DaRC and I most wanted to have was still available.

We started with some cold-brew tea, which happened to have been sourced by DaRC.  This was, apparently, "green" Iron Buddha (綠鐵觀音).  Just so floral and fragrant, such elegance!

August 1, 2020

Franco-German-Swiss lunch

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It has been a long, long time since my friend Uwe took over at the Island Shangri-La, but for one reason or another I never found occasion to pay him a visit at Petrus.  I had been dining out a lot less this year due to the pandemic, so scheduling visits to chef friends just became a lot challenging.  He's been pretty patient during this time, and I'm sure he's got his hands full this year.

A week ago I finally pinged my friend and asked to come for lunch today, and was really looking forward to my visit.  Two days later the Hong Kong government announced a ban on all dine-in services in restaurants as the situation worsened in the city.  On the second day after the ban was implemented, the government reversed course as a result of massive backlash, and we were once again allowed to sit down to eat breakfast and lunch.  I reconfirmed with Uwe that the restaurant was back open, and finally entered through the doors of the restaurant today.

The restaurant was pretty busy, considering government rules mandate that they not exceed 50% of capacity, and all the tables are spaced apart - as they would normally, anyway - and only two diners are allowed per table.

Uwe came to ask how hungry we were.  I originally asked for a "medium-sized" lunch, but knowing his penchant for trying to kill me with an abundance of food, I quickly backtracked...

Our amuse bouche was a gougère filled with cheese.


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