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.


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