August 31, 2021


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So... it was finally time to hold my "birthday MNSC" for the boys. I had been planning a big one for my 50th last year, but of course just about everyone's plans got derailed by this thing called Covid-19... So I kept the bottles set aside in the cellar for another year, until the time when all of us - well, except for Dr Poon... who is still MIA - could find a date to sit down together.

There was never any question of where this dinner would take place. I trust Hairy Legs and his sommelier Victor to come up with the best selection of dishes to match whatever wines I bring.  So once again we convened in the private room at Caprice for what I hope would be a better lineup of wines than our dinner 3 years ago.

As usual, we started with a trio of amuses bouches which arrived in a jewel box. Some of us were more special than others and had their own individual boxes without having to share with someone else...

Tomato ravioli with Parmesan cookie - topped with black olives. Nice to get some seasonal flavors with this.

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar and crème fraîche

Pita with curry chicken mousse

August 29, 2021

Is it red or white?

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We haven't seen DaRC and Ro Ro for a few months, but they are finally back in town and can meet up for a meal or three.  They haven't been to Mian (紅棉), so we decided to meet up for some dim sum today.  Mindful of the unstable weather these days, we decided to dine indoors and not try to bring CC out today.  Our decision would be proven correct when we were hit with a severe thunderstorm during our meal.

As I've never tried their dim sum items, I suggested that we pick out a few of those, then supplement with some main dishes. We had about 2 hours for our early session before needing to vacate the table for the next seating, which should be good enough.

Baked taro puff with seafood and egg white (芙蓉海鮮芋角) - not a fan. The taste of ammonia from baking soda was too strong. Blegh!

August 28, 2021

All crows are black

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The Candidate has been wanting to visit Yong Fu (甬府) for the better part of last year, but somehow she had missed out on joining us for our last visit. When I felt it was time to return and try out their beautiful cuisine - following a break of a few months after a less-than-satisfying meal - I suggested that we meet here tonight for our little drinking session.

As usual, I asked the restaurant manager to get the kitchen to suggest a menu for us. Given what happened last time, I reminded myself to pay more attention to the dishes being proposed to make sure that they would be suitable for my palate. As it turns out, I still fell a liiiittle short on this.

We started dinner about a half-hour later than originally planned due to some late arrivals, but I figured we still had about 2½ hours until we had to vacate the premises. That should be plenty of time and we could still have a relaxing and enjoyable evening. I could not have been more wrong.

Sankala was munching on the snacks while we waited for the others to arrive. We were pretty hungry.

It is customary in Shanghainese/Jiangsu/Zhejiang cuisine to lay out the series of appetizers all in one go, or at least in quick succession. I'm used to that so no issues here.

Fresh walnuts with sun-dried shrimp (蝦皮拌鮮核桃) - this was surprisingly good. The sun-dried shrimps - about the size of sakura shrimp (桜海老) - were definitely tasty.

August 25, 2021

Impromptu goose

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Sankala pinged me and asked me to meet her in Central for dinner.  It's been a long time since she was last in the area on a weekday, and she figured we could just grab something quick before going home. I wasn't very surprised when she chose Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝). After all, it's been over 2 years since her last visit here.

Lower quarter of roast goose (燒鵝下庄) - our way to guarantee a drumstick. Unfortunately we arrived at the end of the day, so we couldn't expect the goose to still be fresh and have that crispy skin. Still tasty, though...

August 24, 2021

Where's the beef?

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Two days after my last visit, I'm back in Tatler Dining Kitchen at HAUS. This time I'm checking out UZA by Nikushou and lend some support to RAW Yeah. As it turns out, I actually knew about 1/3 of the people who were dining here tonight. Hong Kong is a very small town...

We decided to take the recommended beverage pairing instead of our usual BYO, as I wanted a taste of Nikushou's umeshu.

Summer seafood and vegetables moriawase with dashi vinegar and plum wine jelly - with grilled squid, scallop, Japanese tomato, cucumber, corn, watershield, Taiwanese bamboo shoots, myoga (茗荷)... etc.

Nice bit of charring on the seafood. The dashi vinegar was definitely savory and lightly smoky.  Myoga and perilla flowers provided lovely fragrance.  The whole dish was very refreshing, with plenty of acidity to whet one's appetite.

Kong(girl) for one day

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I was due to dine out tonight, so I had planned on just finishing up the leftover canned tuna in the office fridge with some slices of toast for lunch. It's my way of balancing out my calorie intake. But when my colleagues suddenly suggested that we hit Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel so that we could try out the item we've been curious about, I caved and trekked downhill for what turned out to be a pretty rich lunch.

Blossoming hot chocolate - so... yeah... I had a sudden attack of the Kong girl (港女) and decided to be an IG hoe... There wasn't anything I particularly wanted to drink, and I figured I'd come and take a video of the "blossoming flower". Unfortunately the staff did a poor job of placing the marshmallow on top of the hot chocolate, and the whole thing kinda pulled a Titanic.

August 22, 2021

One night only

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Ever since Tatler Dining joined forces with Mercedes-Benz to set up Tatler Dining Kitchen at HAUS, they have been hosting a variety of chefs for varying periods of time at this venue.  I was lucky enough to book seats for the first event featuring Antimo Marie Merone, but I haven't been on top of things to book any other gig since then.  To be honest, I'm not sure I've missed all that much.

As I browsed through the 'net while waiting for my lunch one day, I happened to come across news about a collaborative pop-up between my friends at Ta Vie 旅 and Godenya (ごでんや). I am big fans of both restaurants, and I got pretty excited about the possibilities created by them joining forces. However, given that this was only for 1 night, I didn't think I would have to any chance of booking seats for it. But since I got time to kill as I sat there at Fini's waiting for my Caesar salad and linguini fini pomodoro, I figured I'd try my luck. To my surprise, I managed to grab a table of 4 for the time slot I wanted.

It's Sunday night, and the other pop-up in residence at Tatler Dining Kitchen was taking a break. The main entrance to HAUS was locked since the shop downstairs was closed, so we went around and entered through the back...

There were two menus on the table. One looked like what we are used to seeing at Godenya, and it looked reasonable enough with 5 courses. The second menu, though, was handwritten and hand-drawn. We would soon realize, after the food started to arrive, that THIS was our actual menu in terms of food...

Sake and breads: the bread - pain de campagne and rustic bread. This was kinda unbelievable because we are starting the meal with not one, not two, but three big chunks of bread...

Sake and breads: truffle honey butter - spread over pain de campagne. Needless to say this was very, very tasty... and someone just lapped up at least half the supply of the butter alloted to the four of us.

August 18, 2021

Bordeaux, toujours Bordeaux!

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It has been quite some time since I was last at Écriture, and it's been even longer for Sankala.  As the four of us were discussing where to go for our next gathering, we ended up tossing out all the Chinese options and opted for this.  Belo hasn't been back for a long time, and the Baller has never been here, so the choice definitely made sense.

I was actually tempted to ask for their vegetal menu, but I wasn't sure whether we would be able to take different menus for the table (it turns out that we could have), so I just let things be. Besides, Maxime had offered to tailor the menu a little to match the wines we were bringing, so I figured it was best just to sit back and see what comes our way. Most of our dishes tonight came from the Library of Flavours, with a couple of substitutions.


Pomme dauphine, horseradish cream and caviar - a little lemon zest on top makes things a little more interesting.

August 13, 2021

Dinner under the stars, HK edition

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I was pleasantly surprised by the dishes I enjoyed at Mian (紅棉) a couple of months ago, and I thought I would find an opportunity to take Sankala here as the mix of spicy Sichuan dishes with regular Cantonese fare would interest her. We had also heard about the outdoor seating available at the restaurant, where diners could bring their dogs along. That appealed to us very much, and we made plans to bring our CC so she could meet up with Piper and Winnie the Chew. We knew that our booking was highly dependent on the weather and that the table would be cancelled in case it rained. It didn't matter. It was dinner with the doggies or bust.

The weather had been a little unstable over the last couple of days, and even during the day I received messages from the restaurant showing me that some of the outdoor furniture was still wet from the rain. Thankfully it stayed dry from the afternoon till evening, and we were enjoy to enjoy having dinner under the stars. Thanks to the weather which led to the recent spate of rain, the evening turned out to be pretty breezy. We sat outdoors in mid-August with no fan or aircon, and didn't even break a single drop of sweat.

I had gone through the menu and chosen a few dishes I thought we should try, which did not include anything requiring pre-orders.

Boneless silky fowl and chicken fillets ∙ spring onion ∙ dan dan sauce (擔擔鴛鴦雞) - I thought this was pretty decent the last time I came, and I thought the presentation was certainly interesting. Sankala wasn't impressed, and thought it was just designed for Instagram. Of course, she doesn't like most chicken dishes in Hong Kong...

August 12, 2021

My first taste of Chindian

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I have been a fan of The Bombay East Indian Girl ever since I tried her cooking at a pop-up last year. That meal gave me some good exposure to Indian dishes normally not found in typical "Indian (read: Punjabi)" restaurants here in Hong Kong. I've been trying to find opportunities to show up at more of her pop-ups, but timing didn't always work.

When she announced that she was doing an evening with Indo-Chinese cuisine I got so excited that I responded right away. Having worked for Indian bosses, I spent years hearing about dishes with unfamiliar names such as chicken Manchurian. Needless to say, I had zero interest in trying these out when I actually travelled to India. I was too pre-occupied with having "authentic" Indian food while in country - which resulted in two sleepless nights and a house call from a doctor, but that's another story. Sometime over the last few years, though, I became intrigued with the idea of trying Chindian food.

The pop-up is done at Le Chefeteria, with wine pairing for each course. I was happy to be supporting her efforts, but alas she was probably a little too busy to come and explain the dishes to us. So we had to do some guessing as well as some research...

Chinese chaat: prawn bhel - OK, so I've never had bhel before and didn't know what to expect. This didn't seem very Chinese to me, other than the presence of diced spring onions along with the prawns. It was more like a mix of coleslaw, ceviche, and creamy guacamole. Chilled and refreshing, with some acidity and a little bit of kick from chili. I did like the deep-fried prawn cracker on the side.

August 8, 2021

An Olympics like no other

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The Tokyo 20202021 Olympic Games was always gonna be different.  Having been delayed from 2020 due to the global pandemic, it was finally held over the last 2 weeks in spite of the pandemic still being in place.  In fact, many countries around the world - Japan included - were experiencing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases at the moment.  Yet both Japan and the International Olympic Committee have invested way too much to call this thing off, and I think many of the athletes would probably not want to wait any longer.  So we had the opening ceremonies on July 23rd, and I dutifully made sure I got home on time for the broadcast.

Based on the portion that Tokyo showcased at the end of the Rio 2016 closing ceremonies, I had very high hopes for the Tokyo show. That segment showed a lot of energy, creativity, and infused elements of popular Japanese culture known the world over - including popular anime characters. After all, who could forget former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (安倍晋三) dressed up as Super Mario?

August 7, 2021

Saturday night sushi

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Over the past few months, we have gotten into the habit of pre-booking our next meal whenever we dine at Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう) - just as one does at the Tokyo honten. We figured that we could always find friends who wouldn't mind joining us, and that's generally been true. When our friends who were originally slated to join us tonight had to cancel due to a change in travel plans, we didn't have to work too hard to find others who put their hands up for the seats.

As there were 4 of us tonight, we had the entire front counter to ourselves. So, naturally, there wouldn't be any weirdos nearby I would want to bitchslap - unlike my first 6 visits to this establishment. This has been such an amazing streak since last October, making it 5 visits in a row where I dined in relative bliss!

Salmon trout roe (鱒子) - seasoned with yuzu (柚子) zest. Definitely smaller than salmon roe.

August 6, 2021

No sushi Friday

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One of the phenomena which has happened in Hong Kong during 2021 under the pandemic is the (somewhat limited) resurgence of the dining scene.  The whole food and beverage industry is, of course, still hurting from the prolonged period of social distancing measures imposed by the government, and some have been hurting since the mass protests of 2019.  However, due to the inability of many diners to travel elsewhere to satisfy their food cravings, the resulting pent-up demand has been redirected to a number of restaurants in town - and this is especially evident towards the higher end.  Certain restaurants are now so popular that a number of them no longer have availability within the 2021 calendar year, and others fill up their available slots as soon as they are offered out to the public, often a few months in advance.

One of these is my beloved Godenya (ごでんや), where bookings open for an entire 1 to 2 month period a few months in advance, and generally fill out within the first day or two. I have gotten into the habit of booking seats in advance just so I can lock-in a date that works for me, and subsequently syndicating out extra seats to friends. I booked tonight's dinner 3 months ago, but somehow I forgot to ask anyone to join us until about 2 weeks ago. Thankfully Fat Donkey and company are available, and it's been a while since this group last got together.

Botan-ebi, shiro-ebi, peach, sea asparagus, shiso-flower (牡丹海老  白海老  白桃  シーアスパラガス) - both botan shrimp from Hokkaido along with its green roe, and glass shrimp (白海老) from Toyama Prefecture (富山県) were sweet as expected. The salicornia and sauce made with shrimp tomalley provided some salt and umami, while the Japanese white peach was really cold and refreshing, with nice sugary, fruity flavors.


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