July 15, 2021

Just the two of us

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It's no secret that Neighborhood is my favorite restaurant in Hong Kong, if only ranked by frequency of visits.  But over time it's become a place where I habitually gather with larger groups of friends, as that is when the Neighborhood experience really shines - with big, often off-menu specials which can be shared among more hungry mouths.  The dining experience is decidedly different when it's a smaller group of 4 people or less, and a number of my friends have reported less satisfying visits under those types of circumstances.

However, this place is first and foremost a casual place where one should feel comfortable dropping in without much fanfare - provided that one could grab a table.  A neighborhood bistro, if you will, although it is unfortunately not in my 'hood.  I do miss that kind of dining experience, and it's been way too long since I got that feeling.  So I called up Shirley to make a reservation for two, and asked her to tell The Man in White T-shirt not to prepare anything special or big.  We wanted to order from the regular menu and pick whatever struck our fancy tonight.

It didn't quite work out that way.

Mochida Farm fruit tomato / pippara peppers - the tomatoes from Mochida Farms (持田農園) are always a good idea, and tonight they came with 'onion rings' and pimientos piparra.

Hokkaido sardines / aged PX vinegar - the first of the extra dishes that we didn't order. Fatty sardines are always delicious, and these were marinated in a combination of aged PX vinegar and olive oil, then served up with garnishes such as grapes and pine nuts.

I will always enjoy this with a piece of sourdough bread...

Red radish / greens / N25 Himalayan caviar - another dish we did not order but found its way to our table...

Initially I wondered why one would put caviar (in this case the Kaluga from N25) on red radishes, but the oily and salty caviar - together with thin slices of homemade bottarga - really did work well with the clean flavors of the crisp roots, along with the vinaigrette.

Buffalo wings / Roquefort salad - I guess Sankala really missed these. The Roquefort on the lettuce, as expected, packed a powerful punch.

Handmade garganelli / beef tripe / tomato / summer truffle - OK, so the original idea was to order TWO pasta dishes - both the garganelli with beef tripe and the tagliolini with tomato and summer truffle. But since The Man in White T-shirt decided to add 2 extra dishes to our dinner, he felt that two pasta courses would be too much for us. So you know what he did? He combined the two pasta courses into one, and used garganelli as the base. I was speechless.

It was still tasty, of course, but I would have rather preferred to taste them separately.  We ended up sharing half a portion and took the other half home.

Yunnan porcini / bone marrow - it's always a good idea to order this up when these are in season. What I didn't expect, though, was the bone marrow thrown into the mix. Soooo delicious. Soooo sinful.

"Mayura Station" wagyu shortrib roast beef / potato / lettuce / garlic confit - so this is the "small" portion.  So, so happy to have this beef again, and loved how tender these thin slices were. That sauce with simultaneous richness and acidity worked wonders.  The taters were really good, too. Unfortunately we were simply too full, and could only manage to chip away less than half of this.

Canelés - two for me. No longer crispy on the outside but I didn't care.

A simple dinner meant just a bottle between the two of us.

2016 Cos d'Estournel Blanc - served too cold and didn't show very much at one point. Definitely oaky, toasty, really fragrant with muscat. Ripe upfront followed by acidity. Somewhat disappointing given how bland it was on the palate.

We still left the restaurant completely stuffed and unable to finish our food. Maybe next time I should book for a night and then make sure the boss isn't in the house...

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