April 30, 2021

Three Burg night

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We've caught up with the Fergies a few times this year, but haven't dined out with them too much.  After discussing a few options, we ended up choosing Roganic for dinner tonight.  I've had two pretty good meals here before, so I felt pretty good about coming back.

Both my previous visits saw us take the short testing menu, and I felt pretty comfortable about the amount of food we got.  I was ready to do the same again, seeing that this was a cheat meal while I'm on my diet.  But Fergie had other ideas... so the long tasting menu was what we got.

Citrus cured salmon and seaweed tartlet - the nori (海苔) shell carried citrus cured salmon roe along with some yuzu (柚子) gel.  Pretty tasty.

April 29, 2021

Disappointing Bastard

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For all the buzz around Bâtard ever since it opened, I was never eager to go check it out for myself.  The dishes which helped the restaurant become popular were, primarily, dishes first created by others or seemingly popular and available elsewhere.  The cold angel hair with caviar starting showing up in Singapore more than a decade ago thanks to Gunther Hubrechsen, and over the last few years more than a handful of fancy restaurants in town served up roast chicken - sometimes with rice as accompaniment.  Every time a friend asked me whether I had been to the restaurant, I always replied that I didn't see anything that would draw me there - in terms of food.

Of course, the restaurant is operated by the people behind The Fine Wine Experience, who wanted a venue to enable them to sell more wine.  The real attraction here, at least for someone like me, was the pricing on the wine list.  The wines were priced just about the same level as the retail shop, which was just like the way I used to buy a bottle at Vinum and have them serve it to me at Les Amis in Singapore.  For people who, myself included, insist on BYO because they don't want to pay ridiculous markup on wines at restaurants, this was music to our ears.

So I finally got around to booking a table, which entailed a wait of just about 2 months.  Meanwhile, Belo and I spent some time browsing through the wine list to pick out a few bottles.  Unfortunately for my friend, I am too cheap and ended up removing the more pricy bottles she had chosen...

Beef tartare Cannelloni - the crispy tubes were stuffed with minced beef "from Northeast France" seasoned with olive oil.

April 23, 2021

Big Seven night

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Chocolate Ball has been helping me with some sake purchases over the last few months, and it may be a while before I get to see DaRC over a meal again, so I figured we should take this opportunity to open something nice together.  One thing led to another and, before we knew it, this impromptu dinner morphed into an occasion to taste a couple of premium sakes.

Once again we relied on RAW Yeah to rescue us, and to be honest, we're always happy with the food at Nikushou.  I have noticed, though, that we seem to be getting less and less beef at this so-called yakiniku joint...

Chilled Japanese snow crab, vinegar jelly - tons of meat from Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) coming from Hokkaido, including whole sections of crab let. Acidity from the jelly always helps to balance out the savory flavors of the ocean.

April 22, 2021

More than meets the eye

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Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, it's been a long, long time since we organized a social event for the team.  In fact, only half of us are currently in Hong Kong... and we look forward to the day when borders reopen and we can, once again, travel without quarantine.  However, we figured it was time to have a night out and just do some bonding away from our desks, and so a team dinner was planned.

With the pandemic still with us and not everyone fully-vaccinated, a private room was preferred.  It also made sense that we chose somewhere close to the office.  I figured China Tang (唐人館) would be a venue which fit our requirements, and thankfully Chef Menex Cheung (張嘉裕) was able to help us secure a room.  I left the menu up to him, hoping there would be some surprises. After all, the chef has a repertoire that includes flavors from Sichuan, which is rather unusual for what people see as a Cantonese restaurant.

First came the appetizers (唐 ∙ 拼), which were served in individual bamboo steamers with dry ice underneath, releasing a light scent of chrysanthemums and roses.  Everything came in bite-size portions, on a rather thick and fluffy bed of hydroponic greens.

Fresh abalone, Chinese rice wine (酒糟凍鮮鮑魚) - nice and crunchy texture. A little smoky, which was a nice surprise.

April 14, 2021

The hidden sushiya I never knew

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Last month I made two bookings at Godenya (ごでんや) in quick succession, once Goshima-san confirmed to me the approximate dates for the very short season for sansho flowers (花山椒).  This is why, 3 weeks after my last visit, I'm back in the private room with a few friends.

Sakura masu, hotaru-ika, warabi, kinome (桜鱒 蛍烏賊 わらび 木の芽) - I was so, soooo happy to have been served this. A variation of a dish I had last year, this showcases some of my favorite seasonal ingredients. What hasn't changed from last year was the presentation, which was pretty with lots of green from sansho leaves and sansho flowers. We've also got eagle fern (わらび) on top.

Underneath the green canopy we have some of my favorite firefly squid from Toyama Prefecture (富山県), cherry salmon from Aomori Prefecture (青森県), and some miso made with mashed sansho leaves. The squid was full of umami but also tasted pretty strong, and Hairy Legs didn't quite appreciate that. The fern was pretty crunchy.

April 13, 2021

Cheating with comfort food

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Hong Kong is a pretty tough market in terms of F and B, what with painfully high rents and fickle customers who seem to always be looking out for the next new thing. That's why it's amazing that Kichi (吉 田舎料理) is still around after some 27 years in this town. I remember first visiting this place at their old location more than 20 years ago, and the simple, comfort food has always been delicious. I have returned intermittently over the years, although it has been some time since my last visit. I used to come with a group of friends from my high school in Tokyo, and tonight this served as the venue of our gathering once again.

It's been over a year since my last trip to Japan, and incidentally that was a visit to Fukuoka - where Mama Yamaguchi-san hails from.  There would be a couple of dishes tonight that reminded me of my trip.

Otsumami (おつまみ)

Calcium senbei (カルせんべい) - I always order this when I'm here.  These deep-fried wafers made of tiny little fish fry are just so, soooo delicious that I'd actually love to have an order all by myself.  But that wasn't such a good idea tonight... despite this being a cheat meal from my current diet.

April 9, 2021

Friday night party crasher

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Tonight wasn't supposed to turn out like this.

Sankala took her second Covid vaccine today. We had planned on her developing some reaction to the vaccine, and we were meant to have a quiet evening at home.  Which was why I had initially turned down an invitation to join my VIP friend for dinner at Ren Ren Heping Restaurant (人人和平小飯店). But Sankala seemed to be doing fine most of the day, and she suggested that we go and join our friends for dinner. So that's how we wound up at the feast...

Award-winning honey char siu (本地蜂蜜叉燒) - pretty decent.

Poached foie gras with goose sauce (鵝汁浸鵝肝) - I guess it makes sense that they would serve up goose liver, given the number of geese they run through each day.  This wasn't the fine dining version, but tasty nonetheless.

April 8, 2021

A night of surprises

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The MNSC boys are trying to get back to a more regular schedule for our gatherings, and The Ox very kindly hosted us after flying back into town for the Easter holidays.  The last time I had a proper meal at The Porn Pawn was a few years ago, so it would be interesting to see what the kitchen is delivering these days.

Burrata, arugula, cherry tomatoes, aged vinegar - this was OK.

Beef carpaccio: Japanese wagyu, truffle - very, very thin. Very well-marbled, and definitely not kosher for my current diet. Pretty tasty, though.

Shrinking Boy 2.0: 1 month in

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So... it's been a month since I re-started my nutritional diet program, and other than my cheat meals - of which there have been quite a few - I've been pretty good.  So let's look at what I've accomplished so far:

Weight loss to date: 2.6kg

Not too bad, considering this time around I did ZERO exercise, whereas I was doing weight training once a week and jogging a couple of times a week during the first stint.

Cheat meals: 11

As with the first stint, I allowed myself generally 2-3 cheat meals per week where I ate and drank whatever and however much I wanted.  This keeps me sane and motivated.

So what have I been eating?

Just like in 2013, I have been eating a good amount of canned tuna in spring water with wheat toast.  I bought a ton of canned tuna as soon as I decided to embark on the program.  I also bought a supply of low-fat cheese singles.

I also have started eating cheap sushi again, with a couple of visits to Sen-ryo (千両) during the past month, and back to getting some supermarket sushi, too.  It makes things easy for me when it comes to portion control - the key for this program to succeed.

This time, though, I'm not exactly doing this alone.  Sankala eats a number of the meals with me, and I'm no longer free to do whatever I want - as my decision can have an impact on her.  The wonderful thing about her is that she's been trying very hard to come up with simple meals which fit my requirements, but at the same time can be jazzed up enough so that she would want to eat.  I'm grateful to have her around this time.

Let's see how much weight I can shed in my second month!

April 5, 2021

97 in the hood

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DaRC and I have been planning a tasting of 1997 Napa cabs since last year, and now that the situation with the pandemic has stabilized somewhat, we figured this was a good time to finally get it done.  The Man in White T-shirt has always taken good care of us, so we decided to do this at Neighborhood, with the added benefit of sharing the wines with the boss.

As usual I had no idea what was coming our way, but secretly hoped that a couple of dishes I had seen on social media would be coming our way...

Chicken liver mousse with black truffle - always happy to start with a little liver mousse, and the black truffle chiffonade on top makes it even better.

Of course this was meant to be taken with some sourdough bread, and once I started, I had a tough time stopping myself from digging into the cup for more.  And that meant chomping on more bread, which is generally not a good idea when there's a ton of food coming your way...

April 1, 2021

Years of the Ox

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It's April Fool's Day, and a few wine lovers decided to get together and pop open a few bottles.  Someone suggested that as a theme, we bring wines from vintages which were Years of the Ox.  This sounded like a fantastic idea, and we quickly put together a list featuring great wines from 4 different vintages - reaching back 60 years.

We were meant to check out a French restaurant I have yet to try, some a year-and-a-half after its opening.  However, their restrictive corkage policy didn't work for us, so I guess I'll just have to wait for another occasion to try it.  Instead, the Baller very wisely suggested dinner at Forum Restaurant (富臨飯店) - which turned out to be a most excellent idea. Having had some recent nibbles in the form of their dim sum, I was eager to see how they would execute a number of other interesting dishes. So I scrolled through their menu, picked out a number of things I wanted to try, and the Baller made arrangements with the restaurant to select a few of those for tonight.

The advantage of dining with the Baller - who certainly fit his moniker by the looks of tonight - was that we were able to get ourselves set up in a private room.  My friend also ensured that we had the attention of Chief Sommelier Jacky Luk, who helped us with our tricky bottles - and did so flawlessly.

Salad prawn on toast (沙律鳳尾蝦多士) - I love these nostalgic Canto dishes, and what better way for me to kick off a major cheat meal than some breaded and deep-fried prawns with deep-fried toast?!  I don't think I needed the mayo, but tried adding some to get the full effect.


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