November 25, 2022

Simple dinner at the club

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I'm back in Taiwan hanging out with the Parental Units, and since mom wasn't in the mood to cook tonight, she decided we should have a simple dinner at the Landmark Club (天母國際聯誼會) tonight. The dining outlets had been taken over by the Ambassador Hotel (國賓飯店) years ago, and these days as the hotel itself is being renovated, the hotel kitchen staff has been transferred here. That meant the standard of cooking has been noticeably elevated, albeit at the expense of a higher price point.

The staff came with a selection of cold appetizers, and mom chose the pickled bitter melon (醃苦瓜). This was the surprise of the evening, as the vinegar-based liquid was very refreshing and fruity. The slices of bitter melon were also much more crunchy than expected, and we got two different types - both the green and the white. The cherry tomatoes were pretty nice, too.

November 19, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 8: last stop, Shunde

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It's the last supper for the Parental Units in Hong Kong, and my last chance to show them something they've never had before. Shunde cuisine (順德菜) is a distinct branch of Cantonese cuisine which has produced a number of classic dishes, and these days my go-to place for this would be Stellar House (星月居). It doesn't deliver the best version of every dish, but there are enough fireworks to keep me going back.

We were expecting to be seated out in the dining room tonight, which would be fine, but we ended up sharing one of the large private rooms with another table.

Snake soup with fish maw (花膠燴蛇羹) - it's snake season and I was happy to have the opportunity to give mom a taste of a nice snake soup. It's not my favorite version, but I like it well enough. It's also the second time she's ever had snake soup - with the first being decades ago before I was born.

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 8: truffle pizza

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It's the Parental Units' last full day in Hong Kong, so I needed to make sure they get all the good stuff in before they leave. Since the main reason for the trip was to get some white truffle, I decided to do one last meal where there would be lots of the white diamonds. There is one dish where one can be sure of having tons of white truffle shaved on top, and I just had to come back to CIAK - In the Kitchen for it.

For today's meals, we are joined by My Favorite Cousin as she is now able to dine out after the end of her medical observation period. The Parental Units haven't seen her in a few years, so this was a good opportunity for them to catch up.

Seasonal mixed green salad | Datterino tomatoes, shallot, balsamic vinaigrette - mom figured she should start with a simple salad, and shared it with us.

November 18, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 7: back to the Russian department store

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For the last few days, the Parental Units have pretty much spent their time exclusively with us, without seeing anyone else. That all changed tonight, when a few of my friends graciously agreed to reschedule our dinner from last Friday, and also chose to accommodate the Parental Units for this meal. I thought it would be a good opportunity for mom to try Tin Heung Lau (天香樓), as this place is very old school and the flavors would also be pretty familiar. Meanwhile, I was a little apprehensive about going back to the Russian department store after all these years, especially after getting some feedback a few years ago.

What do I call this place the "Russian department store"? Check out this old post for an explanation...

Having been a regular here since perhaps childhood, Monsieur Jamin knows the staff well and took care of the menu for us. I was only too happy to have someone else take care of the ordering - especially one with connections and not just a nobody like me. We were asked to choose 4 starters from a list of 9, a set of 8 larger dishes, and pick a veg dish from a list of 3. I requested one starter and the veg dish.

Crab alcoholic (醉蟹) - mom gets to have raw drunken crab two days in a row, although tonight these were small Shanghainese hairy crabs (大閘蟹) instead of crucifix crab (花蟹). Not a lot of people wanted this so we ended up taking the leftovers home.

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 7: the third 3-star

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While we were able to nibble on some dim sum during lunch on Monday, it felt wrong to not give dad a proper dim sum lunch while the Parental Units are in town. As this wasn't planned early like the other meals, I made a late call to Forum Restaurant (富臨飯店) for a table. I have full confidence that they will deliver the experience I would want for dad.

But our lunch got off to a strange start. We were seated and offered tea. For a little while no one approached our table. The staff stared at us from afar, seemingly at a loss of what to do with us. I sat and chatted with the Parental Units, sipping my tea. All quiet on the western front.

Finally, after about 6 minutes or so. Someone came and asked whether there was anything we would like. Well, I explained that no one had given us the menu. While there was a short menu on the table, it contained only certain seasonal specials and was neither the dim sum menu nor the regular menu. Then the manager decided it was time to stop staring at us and asked us for our order. Well... after we've had a look at the menu.

Deep-fried turnip cake with Iberico ham (西班牙火腿蘿蔔糕) - this came in very thick cut, and slightly more moist than expected. Nice amount of radish.

November 17, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 6: Excursion to Ningbo

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The last time mom was in Hong Kong I arranged a dinner at Xinrongji (新榮記), which served up a lot of familiar flavors from Zhejiang Province. In the time since her last visit, Yong Fu (甬府) has opened up a branch here, and in general I've been pretty happy with the food barring a few exceptions. I figured I should also take mom here, especially since one of their signature dishes is something she doesn't get in Taiwan.

With just the 3 of us, there was no need to get a private room and customize a menu, so we sat in the open dining area and I just picked a few items from their trimmed-down menu. I do miss the old menu which offered more choice of dishes, but for some reason the restaurant management decided to listen to PR8 - which is usually a mistake...

Drunken crab (招牌十八斬) - I normally wouldn't go near this stuff, but I had to order a half-portion for mom. I was kind of surprised that dad, too, chose to partake. The important thing is that mom was very happy with this.

November 16, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 5: Latin evening

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For her third dinner out, and to continue the theme for today - which is "something exotic" - I've decided to take mom to MONO for a taste of Latin America. This would not be something that mom often comes across, and I was pretty confident that many ingredients would be new to her.

I told Ricardo what I wanted for mom, and asked him to create an exotic experience for us. I had no doubt that he would deliver in spades.

Given that there were four of us tonight, we were seated at a table away from the counter. Mauricio and the team took very good care of us, making sure to bring us the special ingredients for each dish and making the introductions.

Purple corn Mexican inflatida / fresh king crab / Taiwanese organic avocado - nice flavors from the purple corn. Didn't manage to distinguish the flavors from the paracress on top...

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 5: exotic Kowloon

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We got out of the apartment a little earlier this morning, as I had scheduled some cultural activity for the Parental Units. M+ is currently showing a special exhibition entitled Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, which is a wonderful retrospective of the artist's work. It only started last Saturday so we were pretty lucky. I've only been exposed to a limited number of her work, so I really enjoyed being able to view such a wide range of pieces spanning so many decades.

I don't remember the title of this work, but it spoke to me. Mom also enjoyed getting to know Kusama-san's work, as she previously had only heard of the artist's name.

For lunch I wanted to take mom somewhere that would be exotic for her, and since we are on the Kowloon side, Sangeetha Vegetarian Restaurant came to mind. I was pretty sure mom has never had dosas or, more interestingly, Indian Chinese food.

Paneer 65 - these deep-fried bite-sized cubes of cheese were pretty fun to nibble on.

November 15, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 4: white truffle shower

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It's day 4, and that means another PCR test for the Parental Units. Not much to note during the day as we tried to finish some of the leftover food from the last few days for lunch.

Dinner tonight was at Caprice. Hairy Legs is back in town for literally a couple of days, and I made sure that I take mom to see him again. After all, her first visit to Caprice only months after Hairy Legs' arrival remains one of her most memorable meals - partly because how much white truffle she got on her dishes. And Hairy Legs knows we're here (again) for the white truffle...

First up was the usual jewel box with three canapés:

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar

Mushroom and foie gras tart

Pita with curry chicken mousse

November 14, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 3: pasta! pasta!

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The main draw to get mom to come over this time is the white truffle from Alba. The season has started, and I convinced her to come to Hong Kong during the short season so that she could taste truffles that are better in quality compared to what she could get in Taipei. One of the obligatory stops on this tour, therefore, would be 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana. He is, after all, the undisputed truffle king.

The great thing about dining here is the option to go à la carte, which allows for control of food intake. We would, of course, have some classic dishes for the white truffle, but it also meant we could choose something else.

Raw amaebi, beetroot - we said nothing when asked about dietary preferences, so of course Four Sheets hits the jackpot with both the raw prawns and the beetroot. Not too bad for me, though, as I like the raw amaebi (甘海老) and the beetroot wasn't terrible.

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 3: noodles and congee

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I received text messages just before midnight last night, informing me that the PCR tests for the Parental Units returned negative results. So just after 9 a.m. this morning, their vaccine pass turned blue. This meant they could now enter all premises in town and are able to dine in at restaurants.

Our first stop today was Ho Hung Kee (何洪記), as I figured dad would like to have some congee and other local goodies. We managed to get dad to successfully use the Leave Home Safe (安心出行) app and get mom checked in, too.

Deep-fried yam puff (蜂巢炸芋角) - I was surprised to see a waitstaff walking around with a tray of these while trying to find takers. This reminds me of the old school restaurants with carts loaded with dim sum as the "dim sum ladies" pushed them around trying to get people to order them. I had never seen it done here before today.

In any case this was pretty decent, and I didn't taste any baking soda.

November 13, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 2: hairy dinner

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It's the second full day for the Parental Units' medical surveillance period, and the day when they needed to do their second PCR test. I had pre-booked time slots for all three of their tests at our neighborhood community testing center, so that was our activity this morning just before lunch.

We also managed to walk through the traditional wet market around North Point, where we picked up a bunch of veggies and fruits that aren't common in Taiwan these days. Some of the veg would be cooked up immediately as part of our lunch.

Four Sheets cooked up another meal, this time claypot rice with preserved meats (臘味煲仔飯). We had just gotten in a new shipment of Cantonese preserved sausages from Fan Cook Productions (明廚), so she put in the traditional pork sausage, duck liver sausage, and goose liver sausage. She was able to get a very good amount of crust at the bottom, which yielded tons of rice crispies (飯焦).

Dad also managed to finish the leftover garoupa head from last night. Let's just say he was a pretty happy camper.

November 12, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 1: a very fishy dinner

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After a night's sleep, we awoke to the sound of CC's barking as she protested the Parental Units' presence in our home. After feeding CC her brekkie, it was our turn. While the parental units stick to their habit of eating a ton of fruits for breakfast, I had something else in mind.

Months ago mom had mentioned her interest in trying out my collection of canned sardines. Now that she's actually here, it was the perfect opportunity to open up a tin or two for her. I took out a tin of sardines from Porthos' Vintage Collection and served in on some Melba toast. I've been aging a bunch of tins in the cupboard, and this was probably at least 3 years' old...

For lunch, Four Sheets went over to Hung Master Goose Special Shop (熊師傅滷水鵝專門店) to buy some takeout. This is one of our favorite neighborhood shops, and specializes in Chiuchow-style marinated goose and other goodies marinated in master stock (滷水). We got ourselves a hind quarter (下庄), some pig trotters, stuffed pig intestines, and cuttlefish.

November 11, 2022

Mom's HK Michelin tour day 0: roast meats and fish

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Thanks in large part to the pandemic, it has been 4 years since the Parental Units came to Hong Kong to visit. I had been trying to convince them to come sooner rather than later, and white truffle season was the perfect bait. We planned an eating itinerary around Hong Kong to get them things that would be hard to come by in Taiwan.

I picked them up at the airport today - something I haven't done in years - and brought them to our place. It was already past 2pm when we arrived, and dad was certainly hungry. Fortunately Four Sheets had picked up some roast meats from Sun Kwai Heung BBQ Food (新桂香燒臘), so we had some charred fatty char siu (肥燶叉) and roast pork belly (燒肉) along with some veggies.

November 9, 2022

Mid-week sticks

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It had been a while since I was last at Hidden (秀殿), as I didn't bother trying to book for a few months. The phone lines were open again on the morning of October 1 to take bookings for the months of November and December, so I dutifully tried calling. Repeatedly. The last time I tried to make bookings - which was last year - it took me 88 tries before I got through. This time around it took me even more attempts - over 100 calls - to finally get Ogata-san on the line.

We had just gone through a big dinner last night, and it's the middle of the week and all, so the two of us decided to take it easy.

Fried chicken wing (手羽唐揚げ) - gotta kick off the meal with one of these! Missed the acidity in the sauce so much. Come to think of it, I probably should have had a second one.

Still pretty good

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Just before dinner yesterday, my friend Gaggan Anand dashed over to try the roast goose at Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝). Since he went over around the odd hour of 6 p.m., he felt the goose he got was cold and disappointing. Well... since I myself haven't sat down to have my favorite Cantonese roast goose in some time, I decided to run over for a quick lunch today.

Famous roast goose drumstick with rice (馳名燒鵝脾飯) - as I visited during peak lunch hour, the roast goose was, thankfully, warm. While I could still taste the different spices used in the marinade, I did wonder whether they had been toned down a little.

November 8, 2022

Andō x Gaggan Anand

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While Gaggan was in town mainly to help serve up the food at the M+ Gala together with the team at Andō, he and his team had also scheduled to do a collaboration dinner at Andō. Four Sheets and I were grateful to have been invited, and after addressing some crossed wires, we also got to hang out with Sweetheart.

I didn't have the same kind of expectation for this collaboration as I would for Gohgan, as the two teams hadn't worked together before and there were only a few weeks' notice, but I still felt pretty confident the dinner would be enjoyable.

Fergass was in da haus, sans wife, but I guess he was kinda working since we were served some of that strange sake he seemed to be fond of...

💥 Yogurt explosion - this was one of the dishes that made Gaggan famous years ago, and of course there's new twist now. In addition to the spherification of spiced yogurt, it is now dropped into a "cup" made of cilantro and mint - which contained some pop rocks - just prior to being popped into the mouth.

November 5, 2022

Guess who's coming to dinner?

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One of the things I most look forward to each year is the arrival of fall, because it means the start of snake season. I would try to book tables at my favorite private dining facility during this time, sometimes up to three visits during the season that lasts around 3 months or less. I was pretty lucky this time around as I booked more than 2 months ahead for this dinner, and they just started serving snake soup literally a couple of days ago.

I had been taking my time rounding up people for this dinner, but when I found out 3 weeks ago that Gaggan Anand was coming to town, I invited him to join me along with his partner Rydo Anton. I really wanted to introduce them to one of my favorite places to have high-end classic and old school Cantonese cuisine. I kept it quiet and didn't tell most of the others that he was coming, as I wanted it to be a surprise.

Being a lover of reptiles, Gaggan did tell me in advance that he would not partake in snake soup. Which leaves more for the rest of us! Yay! And since it was Gaggan's first time, I decided to order up some of the classic dishes here to showcase what the chef can do.

Crystal king prawn (玻璃大蝦球) - this is a dish that always impresses, if only from how the giant prawn is scored to shape it. While this is plated with a dab of oyster sauce as well as shrimp paste on the side, in reality no added condiments are needed. The superior broth (上湯) that was fed to the prawn during the cooking process already adds enough flavors. And the texture was finely balanced between tenderness while maintaining a nice amount of crunch.

November 4, 2022

Uninvited

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It's the last day of working from home before we return to full-time work in the office next Monday. Due to the pandemic cases spiking at the very start of this year, we took the decision to work from home starting in mid-January... and never really officially returned. So here I am at home, puttering around at lunch time, when I suddenly started getting messages from Four Sheets. She was joining my friend L for lunch today along with a couple of others, for what I thought was a "girls' lunch" at the Island Shangri-La.

Well, it would seem that I was meant to join this lunch. L had assumed that Four Sheets would let me know about it and that I would be arriving with her. There was, in fact, a setting at her table for me. And it was made clear to me in no uncertain terms that my presence was expected, nay, demanded and required. L was flying home today and since we haven't seen each other in 3 years, I needed to get my butt over.

So I found myself seated at the table more than an hour late, have been assured that Uwe Opocensky would not try to kill me. Not today, anyway...

Courtesy of Four Sheets
So before I arrived, Uwe had wheeled out - once again, this "leg of ham" and proceeds to carve something out from the top side...

Pâté en croûte - with duck and, of course, foie gras.

November 1, 2022

Canto-Chiuchow lunch

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There was a last-minute call for a team lunch today, and I scambled to find a suitable venue to fit our requirements. After weighing a few options, I settled on Chiu Tang (潮廳), a place I haven't patronized in a number of years. In fact, I have not been to their current location.

With a minimum spending requirement for our private room, I made sure to order a few big-ticket items to help us get over that threshold...

Signature marinated goose's liver (馳名滷水鵝肝) - can't come to a Chiuchow restaurant and not order something lo shui (滷水)! Can't go wrong with the goose liver here.

October 28, 2022

Smoky Champagne Day

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We enjoyed our first trip out to Koji Charcoal Grill (菊志炭燒) a lot, so when it came time to meet up with Mr and Mrs Birdiegolf, we figured that this was a good place. They liked grilled food on sticks, and this place does a pretty decent job.

Four Sheets and I decided to rehash some of the menu items from our first visit, and with more mouths to feed tonight, we were able to try other items, too.

I introduced the dipping sauce to our friends, and someone was very, very happy... Honestly, it's better than most XO sauces available on the market.

Soy-marinated neon squids (ほたるいか沖漬け) - I chuckled at the literal Chinese-to-English translation... These had nice, fermented flavors which brought out the minerality in the Bollinger.

October 22, 2022

Occupy Amber: stuffed like a chicken

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As is often the case these days, it all started with a picture on social media. I saw a picture of the cross-section of a sausage under development at Amber by Richard Ekkebus, and I sent a reaction to the poster. Chef Terry Ho then sent me a picture of a stuffed chicken neck, complete with the head of the chicken. From that moment I knew I needed to try this dish.

I checked with Richard, and was told that it would be part of a menu called Second Life, featuring dishes which have previously appeared on Amber's menu but which have been "re-worked". It was to be presented in conjunction with the launch of 2004 Dom Pérignon Plénitude 2, and available in October. So I roped in Mr. and Mrs. White T-shirt and booked ourselves in for lunch today.

I knew Richard would be off-site today so I got in touch with Terry about the menu. I was more than happy to just have the Second Life menu, but apparently Terry had other ideas... which would be detrimental to my waistline.

I was very happy to have this vegan butter again. I really loved it when we first tried it on our last visit, as it tastes very much like beurre noisette.

The sourdough bread was the perfect substrate to carry the butter, as the acidity and the richness together made for a great combination.

October 21, 2022

The first-timers

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I'm pretty boring when it comes to sushi. Unlike many people around me, I actually don't get cravings for sushi. I won't die if I don't eat sushi for months, or even an entire year. And I definitely don't need to have sushi at any price just to have sushi. What this means is that I tend to stick to the same couple of places which can deliver the goods that measure up to my standards. For the past 5 years or so that meant I've mostly been to just 3 sushiyas (鮨屋).

Given Hongkongers' restricted ability to travel during the pandemic, apparently many, many restaurants - especially those serving all times of Japanese cuisine - became booked out months in advance. This is especially true for sushiyas, which are by far the favorite genre of Japanese cuisine for Hongkongers. Places which hitherto were unknown to me were suddenly impossible to book, and one of these was Sushi Mamoru (すし 衞).

A couple of months ago, I finally got curious enough about the place to ask a friend to bring me along. At the time we were told by the chef that the next availability would be "next year", which wasn't unexpected. So I shelved the idea in the back of my mind.

While chatting with a chef at a dinner last week, word was that many Japanese restaurants in town had been experiencing cancellations. I quickly pinged my friend and asked her to check with Sushi Mamoru and see whether there were any openings, and we heard back almost immediately that there were, indeed, seats available for dinner on both last Friday as well as today. So here we were at the first seating...

There were only two other diners present for this seating besides the four of us. Chiba-san started by showing the other guests the grey mullet roe (唐墨) that he was curing, but I was disappointed at the end of the meal when I realized that we were not having any...

Chiba-san had been informed prior to our arrival that Four Sheets and I do not eat tuna as well as any fish cum, and I am grateful he accommodated our request.

We started the meal with some otsumami (お摘み):

Barfin flounder (松皮鰈) - from Hakodate (函館). The wings (縁側) were nice and crunchy.

October 20, 2022

Night of bony fish

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I haven't seen the Specialist since some time before the pandemic started, so we are looooong overdue for a catch-up. I wasn't the least bit surprised when she suggested that we go to Neighborhood, as it has been some time since her last visit. Roping in Little Monkey makes this a fun night for our threesome.

I had, once again, asked Shirley to tell the Kitchen Nazi a.k.a. the Man in White T-shirt to give us a free hand when it comes to the food. There were only three of us and we really just wanted a casual meal. As usual, Shirley said that she would relay my request to the boss, but reminded me that she has no control over what he may do.

On our arrival, we were told by Shirley what dishes would be coming our way, and we were asked to choose between two main courses. Well... after we made our choice, our choice was then vetoed by the Kitchen Nazi... So we were given the illusion of choice without actually having one. Kinda fitting for the Hong Kong of today.

Smoked pacific saury / liver sauce - WOW! This looked BEAUTIFUL! I love the smoked fishies here, and I haven't had smoked Pacific saury here before.

October 15, 2022

White Night

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The Zhongmeister pinged and told us that there was an opening in a private room at Wing Restaurant (永) for tonight, and asked whether we would be interested in joining. As the restaurant is notoriously difficult to book, and I haven't been back in a few months, I figured we could join them and grab a few more friends for a night out.

We were offered 3 different menus, but with a minimum spending amount to meet, we opted for the one whose price fell in the middle.

I didn't tell Vicky that I was coming to dinner because, well, there was absolutely no need to. I'm neither a loyal customer of the restaurant nor a VIP. And the booking wasn't under my name. Unfortunately, though, I was recognized by Swiss Sung... who even remembered the date of my last visit. So... I spent the whole of the meal wondering whether there was gonna be a little something extra coming my way...

Our seasonal drink tonight was made with red jujube, apple, and hawthorn (山楂蘋果紅棗茶).

We began with four starters:

Simple noodles with wok hei

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Four Sheets was craving a particular noodle yesterday, so I dutifully started to research old blog posts to see where we could get a decent version. It's too cheap to be served at high-end Cantonese restaurants, but we wanted to make sure that it was well-executed at high heat. I had almost decided to revisit Ball Kee (波記大排檔) in Central before remembering that Ho Hung Kee (何洪記) has it on their menu.

Stir-fried noodles with soy sauce (豉油皇炒麵) - this was pretty good. Definitely stir-fried at high heat to deliver that wok hei (鑊氣), and not too much sauce so it was relatively dry.

October 14, 2022

Nordic birthday treat

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Four Sheets and I have enjoyed dining at Frantzén's Kitchen very much since the place opened, and I was very happy to see Chef Jim Löfdahl choosing to stay in Hong Kong when the space transformed into Embla. It has been some time since Four Sheets last paid Jim a visit, and we took the opportunity to bring along a couple of friends for their first taste.

Four Sheets was a little bummed that the new format meant we were no longer allowed to order the dishes we wanted a la carte, and instead had to stick to the standard tasting menu. I, too, miss the ability to pick and choose from a list of dishes of varying size, but I understand this has become a necessary evil as the restaurant moves towards the fine-dining end of the spectrum.

The four of us chose to share one portion of the optional starter, which was a pretty good idea, although I'm probably the only "old man" who enjoyed this "old man's mix"...

Smoked eel, pickled herring "Gubbröra", eggs, dill, chives, caviar and crisp bread - the list of ingredients sounds very, very Swedish to me... I don't get to eat pickled herring a lot but I do love it. The smoky flavors of the eel was pretty prominent, even with dill and chives in the mix.

October 12, 2022

Does Kraft Macaroni and Cheese ever expire?

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A few days ago I came across an article from the Associated Press dealing with food waste and how it's affected by the "expiry date" marked on food being sold. It's an issue I'm interested in, and I have a habit of hoarding some food past their so-called "use by" dates. There are tins of sardines and other preserves in my cupboard that I am deliberately aging, and I have

I then remembered that I have 2 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner in my cupboard whose "use by" dates have long past, which I have kept around because I was loathe to throw them away and waste food. I did want to free up some space in my kitchen, so I decided I would cook them this week. Because, hey, everything in these boxes are dry, anyway... so technically they aren't gonna spoil, right?

The first box says "best when used by 29 May 2015". That's more than 7 years ago. Let's see what this tastes like...

October 10, 2022

Surviving a second year

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It was two years ago that Four Sheets and I had our Covid wedding, with just four of us around the chef's table at Caprice. We wanted to make it a tradition of returning to the restaurant for each anniversary, and that's what we did last year. This year, however, saw our anniversary fall on a Monday - a day where the restaurant is closed. So we had to look for an alternative plan. Thankfully, our second-favorite French restaurant Ta Vie 旅 is on a different schedule and is able to accommodate us.

We start, as usual, with the house-made butter and ricotta.

And their signature nukazuke (糠漬け) bread. I happily devoured this while it was still piping hot, which helped to melt the butter.

October 7, 2022

Supermarket wine with Four Sheets

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It's Four Sheets' big day today, and I promised to make it a day she would remember. We haven't been back to see our friend Uwe Opocensky for a few months, so I decided to get us a table at Restaurant Petrus. A few days ago I started getting messages from Uwe, asking me whether I have stopped eating (to make room for all the food he was sending our way). Of course I have not! But I did skip lunch after a big breakfast, and only nibbled on a couple of desserts mid-afternoon.

Uwe came over with this wry smile on his face, and let us know that while he has been "letting us off easy" for our last couple of visits, that would not be the case tonight. He didn't expect us to finish all the dishes but he very much wanted us to taste all of them. OK, BRING IT ON!

Grissini baguettes - these look new, and actually pretty tasty. We had been warned, though, not to indulge too much in terms of bread.

The butter is now made in-house with buttermilk shipped in from Brittany. This was lightly salted.

October 4, 2022

The best suckling pig gets better

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Here in Hong Kong, we are slowly emerging from the deep winter that is the Covid pandemic. One impact has been the reduction of gatherings with the MNSC boys, resulting from factors such as social distancing measures as well as quarantine requirements leading to prolonged absences by some of us. So it is that tonight would be only the second tasting of the current "MNSC year"... As I wasn't feeling very inspired to come up with a lineup, Curry very graciously offered to host.

I was pretty happy when I learned that dinner would be at Moon Bay Chinese Cuisine (灣悅 賞 • 中菜). I have heard some rave reviews from friends, especially regarding the roast suckling pig that used to be the centerpiece of many of my meals at Seventh Son (家全七福) and Fook Lam Moon (福臨門).

Barbecued suckling pig (皇牌大紅乳豬全體) - well, of course we would start with the pièce de résistance. One always does in a place like this.

October 3, 2022

Pierre Marcolini Grand Crus

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A very kind soul has recently returned from a trip to Brussels, and came bearing boxes of chocolate from Pierre Marcolini. Wanting to enjoy them while they're still fresh, I decided to do a tasting of the 6 different grand crus in the De Battre Mon Cœur box.

Pierre Marcolini Grand Cru - ganache made with beans from Cuba, Sao Tomé, and Madagascar. Mild bitterness, with good length on the finish.

October 2, 2022

Worship mountain lunch

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We're doing our usual ancestral worship today, and this puts us close to the border with Shenzhen. We didn't really have any interest in the vegetarian meal on offer, so once again we chose to head into Fanling and grab lunch at Sun Hon Kee Restaurant (新漢記). We missed out on an epic gathering here 2 weeks ago, so this kind of made up for that...

Sun Hon Kee special fried fish noodle (自家製手打一品鮮魚麵) - always happy to have these handmade fish noodles, but maybe next time we need to order them in the middle of our meal so that this doesn't show up at the start...

September 30, 2022

I'd like some wine with my fries, please

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I was informed this morning that Sankala had a hankering for French fries. As she wasn't cooking tonight, that meant finding a place which can satisfy that craving. And it can't be just ANY kind of French fries, since neither of us like fat chips or wedges. The fries have to be thin enough and stay relatively crunchy on the outside.

I suddenly remembered that Sankala really likes the fries at Bâtard. It wasn't that the fries are the best in town. No, that wasn't it. It was because they come with little jars of ketchup from Alain Millet, which really does taste amazing. Knowing there was no chance in hell I could bag us a table for 2 on the same day, I picked up the phone and called Fine Wine Experience and asked if I could order some simple bites from the restaurant menu - such as French fries - while sitting at one of the tables in the shop with a bottle of wine. I was told this could be done, so I booked us a table for tonight.

Alas, we were informed when we arrived that only ham and cheese are available in the wine shop. They did agree to my request for the French fries, because after all, that was the whole reason we were there.

52-month Iberian ham - pretty tasty for sure, and I love the melted pork fat. Sooo flavorful, which could only come from aging.

September 27, 2022

Sine Qua Non toast, part 7: 11 Confessions

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We last saw our friend just over 3 years ago, before China shuts its borders with the rest of the world including Hong Kong. He is passing through Hong Kong on his way across the Pacific, and it seemed like a good time to gather the troups for another blowout featuring the wines of Sine Qua Non. REX Wine and Grill was chosen as the venue for this gathering, which gave me an opportunity to finally try Chef Nathan Green's cooking.

We started with some amuses bouches:

Gougères - definitely got some kick inside, perhaps thanks to yellow mustard.

September 26, 2022

Krug for senpai

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It's been much too long since we last saw our high school friend, as he decided to move back to Tokyo some 6 months ago. We're pretty happy to have a chance to catch up with him tonight during his business trip, and naturally chose Metropol Restaurant (名都酒樓) for our dinner. The boss put together a special menu for us, and I always trust him to show us some of the best dishes.

Fuzzy melon soup with seafood (海鮮節瓜盅) - really nice to start with this, as the fuzzy melon helps cool the body down. Sort of like a mini version of winter melon soup (冬瓜盅) with similar ingredients, including Tonkin jasmine (夜香花).

September 23, 2022

Casual dim sum for Friday

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NC Chung and I missed catching up with the Compatriot together a few weeks ago, so we made plans to do lunch. I have only recently heard the background story of the team behind the House of Orient (福和雍), and figured it may be a decent place to grab some dim sum.

I gotta admit that the space was smaller than I had expected, and the tables also seemed closer together than I would have wanted, but oh well...

Soft shell shrimp toast (軟殼蝦多士) - kinda interesting as they used "soft shell" shrimp so we ended up eating the shell, too.

September 20, 2022

Jura with fried chicken

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We have a visitor in town for a couple of weeks, and a plan was made to gather for a meal and a few bottles. Our convenor suggested that we open a few bottles from the Jura, as it's a wine region which occupies a small or non-existent part of our collections. I don't have a lot of wine from this area, but my favorite maker of bongwater happens to be from this region. Our convenor was also kind enough to share a bottle of unicorn wine with us.

Nikushou was suggested as the venue pretty early on, and all of us are happy with this choice. It also gives us a chance to drink with RAW Yeah, something we're happy to do. Of course, the boss came up with a selection of the best seasonal ingredients, keeping in mind that most of the bottles will be white wines. I, of course, asked for my usual fried chicken... which he refused to include when the menu was designed.

Japanese horsehair crab (毛蟹) - with tomato and jelly - the usual first dish, kind of. Always enjoy the combination of acidity from the ponzu (ポン酢) jelly, the sweetness from the tomato and crab meat, as well as the umami. And always refreshing because this is served chilled.

September 17, 2022

Some more winter in the fall

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My final meal with the Compatriot would be at my favorite private dining facility. I needed to satisfy a craving for Sankala but didn't have a booking of my own, so I was grateful that I managed to commandeer one with RAW Yeah. And my friend was so happy that he happened to be in town for this.

The trouble with coordinating the guest list between two people is that one of them is bound to be an idiot. In this case, it was yours truly. I miscounted my side of the party and we ended up with 1 more person than the kitchen was expecting...

Barbecued kurobuta pork and marinated cuttlefish tentacles (黑毛豬叉燒拼鹵水墨魚鬚) - I've had the char siu many, many times and it's always been very delicious. I don't think I've ever had the cuttlefish tentacles, though. Those were also nice and charred.

September 16, 2022

No pictures once more

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Besides getting his fill of decent Chinese food while he's in town, the Compatriot also wanted to have some more Japanese food before going back to Rosbif Land. He did visit a few sushiya while in Taipei, but it will be a while before he gets decent sushi again. So I found a way to get us seats for an early seating at Sushi Fujimoto (鮨ふじもと).

The "no picture policy" on any food items that is not tuna remains in place, so this would be another "no picture day" for me. It's kinda annoying, but for my friend's sake I guess I would just suck it up...

Once again, we started our meal with some abalone, the first part of which was a small cup of abalone broth that was nice and complex, with some umami (旨味) thanks to kombu.

The abalone (鮑) today came from Chiba (千葉), and was steamed for 6 hours. Once again the thin, large slice was taken "as is" without any condiment. The flavors here were outstanding and very 鮮. A little dab of wasabi was applied to the thicker cut, and dipped into the abalone liver sauce on the side.

The final part involved a ball of shari (シャリ) placed on the dish with the abalone liver sauce. Unfortunately my ball of rice fell apart as I tried to pick it up with my chopsticks. May I suggest that we get little spoons for this purpose?

September 14, 2022

Keto-friendly dinner

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Chili Shrimp Girl a.k.a. Big Head Shrimp is finally back in town for the first time since the pandemic began. We made arrangements for her to come see her goddaughter CC, and caught up over dinner at Koji Charcoal Grill (菊志炭燒) in order to accommodate her current keto diet. We had been to the sister restaurant Le Bec Fin next door a few times, but somehow never made it through these doors.

They claim to use binchotan (備長炭) for grilling, and on the menu they do list out a section of items which are char-grilled, while others are done over electric grill. We picked a selection from both types.

Deep-fried baby white shrimps (白海老唐揚げ) - I get to eat a lot of glass shrimps at sushi restaurants, but this was probably the first time I've had them deep-fried with shells on.

Very, very tasty. Just about as good as deep-fried sakura shrimp (桜海老).

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