November 27, 2021

The ultimate home banquet

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At a dinner a few weeks ago, I was received a coveted invitation to join Dashijie (大師姐) at one of her home banquets.  I had to reluctantly turn down my first invitation a few years ago, as Sankala had gotten us extremely good tickets to see John Legend play in Hong Kong.  I was, frankly, surprised and flattered to receive the invitation a second time.

The home banquet was held in conjunction with Ruyi Gastronomy, which was showcasing the new Home Banquet Collection (家宴逸品). The collection of porcelain was, in fact, initially designed at the request of Dashijie - as she wanted a custom set which would work specifically for her dishes. Desmond was on hand as co-host of the evening to give us some details about these beautiful pieces.

To match the beautiful china, our hostess also laid out her collection of vintage Baccarat crystal glassware, along with an elegantly designed menu. The Chinese names of the dishes were then poetically reimagined in English by our hostess' daughter.

We were, of course, all invited to watch as our host and hostess prepared the dishes along with their little kitchen elves, but I figured I'd give the others the opportunity to go in and do their filming.

I actually spent part of the time popping open a few bottles. DaRC, Desmond, and I were trying to figure out which wines to pair with each of tonight's dishes, and I was curious to see how they would work out.

November 25, 2021

White truffle feast

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'Tis the season for white truffle, and this year word is that the harvest was poor due to the season being too dry.  Nevertheless, one needs to indulge a little - even just once a season.  Due to poor planning we were not able to secure a table at the usual venue, so I turned to my good friend Hairy Legs for help.  He may not be the "truffle king" but I don't need to worry too much about the quality of truffle being served at Caprice.  

As usual, I let him decide what to serve us - but I did specify that we wanted lots of white truffle.  So naturally the dishes should work well with the magical tubers. He worked with Victor (the sommelier, not the restaurant manager also named Victor) to propose a menu which would match the wines we were bringing tonight, and we were looking forward to see how everything would work out.

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar

Pita with curry chicken mousse

Pork croquette with foie gras and pistachio - one can never go wrong with a bite-sized morsel of breaded and deep-fried fat...

November 24, 2021

Out of quarantine

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The Compatriot is back in town after more than a year, and I was so looking forward to seeing him that I took him out to dinner on his first day out after the 21-day hotel quarantine.  I figured he would be missing some good Chinese food, so Howard's Gourmet (好酒好蔡) was my choice for that all-important first dinner.

I asked the restaurant not to serve us any shark's fin, but otherwise the menu was set by the chef based on seasonal ingredients. I was curious to see what we would be getting tonight.

Chaozhou snacks (時令兩小菜) included preserved radish with diced pork (菜脯肉丁) - which was fatty, crunchy, and chewy - as well as bamboo shoots marinated with chili.

Chef's espresso (特色暖胃湯) is a staple here, and tonight this was made with pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes. Certainly does the job of warming one's stomach in advance of the dishes coming our way.

November 23, 2021

Tea, shrimp, and wine

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A few days after celebrating her third birthday, we are celebrating our little dogcow CC's "gotcha day".  A year ago we welcomed her into our home, and I can't even begin to talk about how much happiness she's brought into our lives.  So Sankala and I decided to take a day off work just to hang with her.

It just happens that the Man in White T-shirt is taking a group to lunch at the Genuine Lamma Hilton Fishing Village Restaurant (漁村酒家), and I asked if we could tag along - with CC in tow.  I've heard about this place for, oh, I don't know how long... and figured it was finally time to check it out for myself.  The added bonus, of course, was that we could take CC along for this adventure.

After a short ride on a speedboat, we arrived at the private pier in Sok Kwu Wan (索罟灣) which leads us directly to the restaurant. This was CC's first ride in a boat, and she was very, very happy when she finally stepped foot on land.

The Man in White T-shirt had stopped at the Ap Lei Chau Market for some seafood, and the kitchen would be cooking some of these for us. Tina came especially to entertain us, so I knew this was gonna be pretty special.

First up was our welcome drink - cold brewed Dianhong spring tea (滇紅春茶) whose leaves come from 500-year-old ancient arbor from Baoshan (保山) in Yunnan.  This was from the 2021 vintage, and I don't remember ever tasting tea quite like this.  Definitely showing some lychee, orange, and even longan flower later on.

November 17, 2021

Autumn in the 'hood

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It has been a long, long time since I was last at my favorite restaurant in town with the Great One, and I was pretty happy when she asked me to join her at Neighborhood. I was more excited, however, at the thought of seeing Sweetheart, because I haven't seen very much of him at all this year. So when I found out that the group would be split and two of us would have to sit at a separate table, I volunteered to spend some quality time with Sweetheart and left the ladies in DaRC's care.

One of us is coming for her second night in a row, so the Man in White T-shirt promised that she would get different dishes tonight. As for me... I was just happy to be here.

Saucisson and lardo rillettes - rillettes is always a great idea, and this one was made by whipping lardo together with diced saucisson.

This is, of course, best taken on sourdough bread. I am already a happy camper with this humble combination, but of course the Man in White T-shirt has to shave some white truffle on top...

November 16, 2021

Goose and rice

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Quick lunch at Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝).

Roast goose with rice (燒鵝飯)

Blanched lettuce with oyster sauce (蠔油唐生菜)

November 13, 2021

The bird with the golden wing

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Thanks to a friend who miscalculated regarding her quarantine stay, the Great One was offered a coveted table at Wing (永), the Chinese restaurant run by Vicky Cheng (鄭永麒) of VEA. This has been one of the hottest new places in town, and seats have been impossible to come by since the very beginning. I am never in a hurry to visit new restaurants, especially when they're so busy it would take some effort just to get a table. So it worked out pretty perfectly when the Great One asked us to join her tonight... with the added bonus of being able to seeing Sweetheart.

Knowing Vicky's penchant to ply us with tons of food, the Great One apparently did ask that he try not to kill us. Of course, we got a ton of food, anyway...

Abalone • Yunnan chili • bull kelp (南非鮑魚配雲南皺皮椒及海茸) - the abalone was slow-cooked for 5 hours, and indeed turned out to be very tender. The chili peppers from Yunnan added a little kick.

There was a dish with fish cum, but of course I didn't touch it with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

November 12, 2021

Le dîner de cons

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It was a few years ago that I got to celebrate Fergie and Chocoball's birthdays with them, and this year the boys decided to do it in style.  After months of hearing me bitch about it, Fergie finally decided to invite me for a meal at Derby Restaurant in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Happy Valley Clubhouse, so that I could get a taste of the new dishes from Chef Francky Semblat.

I haven't been here in a couple of years, and certainly not since Francky landed here after leaving le monde de Joël Robuchon. The first dishes I saw on social media looked like they came from Oncle Joël, and then there was talk that the menu didn't change very much in the beginning. Tonight, though, we were getting something entirely different. This was a menu that was meant to go with white truffle... all of 12 grams.

Our amuse bouche was a French onion soup tart, with white truffle on top.

November 10, 2021

The first cut is the deepest

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There's a group of friends I haven't seen for a few years, and tonight I had a rare opportunity to join them for a meal. This would be Winnie the Chew's last year before her age changes the big figure, so we gathered to help her celebrate before she flies off for a few weeks. Our organizer chose Kamcentre Roast Goose (甘棠燒鵝) - which is right next to the bowling alley inside the South China Athletic Association (南華會) - as the venue.

The restaurant only has a short history, having been backed by Mr. Jacky Kam (甘焯霖) - a cousin of the late Kinsen Kam (甘健成) - who recruited chef Ho-tong Fung (馮浩棠) when he retired from Yung Kee Restaurant (鏞記酒家). This was yet another offshoot from the roast goose dynasty of the Kan family, and it"s been getting a lot of attention since it opened.

Tonight's menu included some old school roast meat dishes, a couple of which have become increasingly difficult to find in Hong Kong. These are dishes which require a lot of time and effort, which are not appreciated by many diners and don't make restaurants a lot of money. It is, therefore, a real blessing that a place like Kamcentre still insists on delivering them.

Kam's fatty and burnt barbecued pork (甘一刀肥燶叉燒) - it makes total sense to start our meal with the signature char siu (叉燒), which is served in these big chunks with extra thick cut.

November 6, 2021

Another four-month wait

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I'm back at one of the most difficult restaurants to book in Hong Kong, with a reservation I made more than 4 months ago. Hidden (秀殿) has seen their business explode in 2021 - which is a position I am happy they're in. This would be my last visit this year, and I invited Winnie the Chew and the Zhongmeister along for lunch - not knowing that they have never been here before.

I tried to take it easy today, since it's lunch, but I think I still had a little too much...

Fried chicken wing (手羽唐揚げ) - just gotta start off with this signature item... still love the acidity in the sauce.

November 2, 2021

The forgotten dinner

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I received a strange message this morning from the Great One, about bringing wines for dinner tonight. I was scratching my head about it, because I did not have anything entered into my calendar for tonight. I was expecting a break in dining out in between last night's shindig and a work-related dinner tomorrow.

But apparently the Great One had put me down for dinner at The Chairman (大班樓) tonight. She had invited us to join her tonight, at the same time that she had invited us for another meal. While I readily agreed to the second meal, I jokingly told her that I didn't want to have the same dishes that I always end up eating whenever we join her at The Chairman... and that we'd come "if she agreed not to order the usual flower crab and stuff." Yes, as blasphemous as that sounds, I really don't need to have the signature flowery crab every single time I'm there. I'd be happy to eat another type of crab, or even do without crab! What an idea!

Anyway, in my mind I had declined the invitation to The Chairman, so imagine my surprise when I received those messages this morning... Well, as much as I loathed having another big meal out - making it 3 in a row - I also didn't want to bail on a good friend and leave her scrambling to find replacements. Especially since she had agreed to order a different crab dish tonight. So I told my friend that I was gonna "suck it up and come" - which left her distinctively unimpressed. After all, there are thousands of people who would jump at the chance to have dinner at a restaurant which was voted the Best Restaurant in Asia and No. 10 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants. But... some of us do have these "first world problems"...

While most of the dishes tonight were familiar to me, at least they weren't the same set of the usual suspects. A good start, then... and grateful for the Great One for being accommodating.

Pickled mid-summer ginger root (大班樓子薑) - a good appetizer and palate-cleanser. Now served in thin slices instead of little chunks.

Babylon shell in XO wine sauce (XO花螺) - these were OK, and not very spicy. There was just enough flavor to make these interesting.

November 1, 2021

Latin evening

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Despite what Ms. French Rocket may believe, I have been a long-time fan of Ricardo Chaneton's. I love that he cooks up dishes where humble ingredients get to shine, and my dining experiences at MONO have introduced to many ingredients which are new to me. I was a little bummed to have missed the first edition of MONO Unplugged due to a conflict, so I was pretty happy to be invited to the second round.

I figured I would run into friends tonight, but it turns out I was practically surrounded by them. Ricardo chose to seat me next to Ms. French Rocket who, upon seeing me, recounted the first time she encountered me. Naturally, it was an episode where I was being the Arrogant Prick, so she told me something along the lines of "I will always remember you". Well... I could have told her that... Everyone knows that I AM UNFORGETTABLE!

The menu tonight was meant to be different from the restaurant's usual offerings - hence the term "unplugged". It would be an education (for those of us who aren't already familiar) into the varied cuisines across the Latin American world.

Avocado and erizo infladita - this was very creamy, of course, since both ingredients of the filling inside - avocado and sea urchin - have creamy textures. A little acidity in the "guacamole".


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