April 29, 2022

The Kitchen Nazi and the Lonely Gourmet

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Sankala was doing a girls' night at home, and I figured I'd get out of their way and dine out by myself. Rather than trying to book myself a table of one at some fancy shmancy place, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to play out the part of Norm sitting across from Sam, since Neighborhood has always felt like that kind of place for some of us. I arrived at the restaurant - now with new counter and table tops along with new chairs - to the sight of a lone table setting at the bar. That's where I'd be spending the next three hours.

Little did I know that I would end up spending the night sitting across from the Kitchen Nazi. I had specifically told Shirley that I didn't want the Man in White T-shirt to do his usual thing and send me his specials. There were specific dishes that I wanted to order, some of which he never sends out anymore. And I wanted to make sure that the food wouldn't clash with the bottle of wine that I was bringing. But... no. I was not allowed to order one single dish of my own choosing. The Kitchen Nazi knows best.

Deep-fried Hokkaido wild spring garlic / escargot / caviar - this was off-menu, and I watched the Kitchen Nazi prepare it in front of me without knowing that this was for me. After all, there were 6 of these and just one of me. As I watched him carefully spoon the N25 caviar on top, I began to suspect that this may, in fact, be my first dish. The suspicion was confirmed when he yelled out into the kitchen asking where they had put the pack of gold foil.

April 26, 2022

Even better than the last time

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Nearly 4 weeks after I was last here, I'm back at Godenya (ごでんや) for another fix. We're nearing the end of the season for sansho flowers, and I had long ago booked myself another dinner to try to maximize my intake.

I wasn't surprised that some of the dishes tonight were very similar to the ones I had on my last visit, and I didn't mind at all. These were all tasty, seasonal ingredients... and I'd be happy to gobble down as much as I could. Well... all except one ingredient.

Sakura-trout, akagai-clam, sansho-leaf, bracken (桜鱒   赤貝  山椒の葉  蕨) - I absolutely love the sight of this dish. I am always taken aback every time I see this. This ball of green is just so pretty, decorated with sansho leaves (木の芽), eagle fern, and for today - some precious sansho flowers (花山椒).

April 21, 2022

Same same, but different

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Tonight Hong Kong goes back out for dinner after 3½ months. We weren't initially in a rush to go and dine out when we knew many people would be out and about, but during our lunch at Nikushou on Monday, we were told that a shipment of sansho flowers (花山椒) was on its way, and there were still tables available for tonight. So we quickly rounded up the Birdiegolfs for a hot pot dinner.

But just like 3 days ago, I showed up early at the restaurant to pick up a takeout order. Winnie the Chew is quarantining in another hotel nearby, so I offered to deliver some delicious food that they wouldn't be able to get from either their hotel or a food delivery service. Because I pre-ordered the day before, they got to have mackerel bozushi (鯖棒鮨) in addition to the wagyu katsu sando, eel kappayaki (鰻蒲焼き), firefly squid with spring vegetables, and green salad. More satisfied customers for FoodPeechi.

Since we've already been here this week and tasted the "regular" menu, RAW Yeah made our dishes tonight had slightly different ingredients.

Spring mountain vegetables and seafood with mustard vinegar miso (桜鱒 春山菜 黄身酢味噌) - the boss switched to cherry salmon (桜鱒) for us since we had the firefly squid earlier. This was lightly torched for that smoky flavor. We didn't get the bamboo shoots tonight, but we still had French white asparagus, canola flower, and a block of jelly made with hyuganatsu (日向夏).

April 18, 2022

A simple misunderstanding

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Thanks to the ban on dine-in dinner service that's been in place for more than 3 months, there are a number of places in town I haven't paid a visit to since the start of the year. I figured we should show some love to Nikushou, so we booked ourselves seats for lunch today.

Then I found out Fat Donkey was quarantining at a hotel just around the block, so I managed to get RAW Yeah to pack up a few of their wagyu katsu sando, a green salad, and an order of beef curry rice. I got to the restaurant about half an hour before lunch, picked up the goodie bag, and walked to the hotel and dropped off lunch for my friend.

I had asked the boss before arriving about items that were seasonal and special, and he rattled off a couple of things. It would seem that my Japanese was a little rusty since I ended up confusing one thing for another...

Spring mountain vegetables and seafood with mustard vinegar miso (蛍烏賊  春山菜  黄身酢味噌) - a great way to start! Looooove firefly squid, and of course the collection of chilled vegetables including French white asparagus, Taiwanese bamboo shoots, canola flower, and spikenard (独活) were very refreshing.

April 17, 2022

A stroll around Sham Shui Po

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Not having traveled for more than 2 years and living with this pandemic means I haven't really gone on a food crawl during this time. Truth be told, it's also not something that I wanted to do when we're all still practicing social distancing and wearing masks outside. When a friend offered to take us around the neighborhood of Sham Shui Po (深水埗), Sankala and I happily took him up on the offer.

I did a little research based on the recommendations of Councillor Hung, and sent along a short list of places I'd like to hit today. My friend also reminded us that the area is now dotted with hipster cafés, so perhaps that would be one of our stops.

Our first stop of the day was Tomato C Hing (蕃茄師兄) - a place offering beef noodle soup with a tomato base. I'm not usually a fan of these, but I figured I'd go along since it was Sankala's request.

Real Gentleman (犇犇有禮) - this came with a trio of beef cuts from "local" steer (騸牯牛), which included beef cheek, boneless short rib (坑腩), and skirt steak (崩沙腩). There was a lot of beef, and these were all pretty thick cuts. This became a problem with the chunks of short rib, as it became a little difficult to chew thanks to the muscle fibers, even though the cuts were tender enough. The tomato broth was a real surprise, as the use of fresh tomatoes made the broth on the light side, while there was definitely enough savory and umami flavors to balance the sweetness and acidity. There was a choice of noodles, with an option to forgo carbs and have veg instead. I chose Shanghai-style noodles, but didn't finish the noodles in order to save room for the next stops.

April 16, 2022

Another no picture day

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Some 2 months after the opening of Sushi Fujimoto (鮨ふじもと), and having watch some friends hit the place a handful of times, it was finally time for me to check it out. LCKitty needed a place to celebrate a birthday, and I thought I would give her a hand by getting us seats in front of Fujimoto-san for this special day.

The restaurant had made it very clear in advance that there would be no pictures allowed during the meal, with the exception of the 3 pieces of tuna nigiri (握り). Well... as Fujimoto-san knows very well, I don't eat bluefin tuna. So that means I wouldn't be taking any pictures during my lunch, then... I have a history with restaurants which don't allow picture-taking, and I've never been back to any of them after my first visit. Let's see if this will be the exception.

April 9, 2022

Life is better without bluefin

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As is standard practice among customers of Sushi Saito (鮨 さいとう), we book our next meals while dining here. So it was that this particular reservation was made while we enjoyed our Christmas lunch here, and the next available Saturday lunch would come 3½ months later.

Since I was just here 2 weeks ago, it wasn't suprising that many of the items today were the same as last time. No complaints, though...

Hokkai shrimp and glass shrimp (縞海老 白海老) - with oboro (朧) and perilla flowers, but the pickled cucumber today was nice and refreshing.

April 3, 2022

Scratching that chicken Manchurian itch

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A few weeks ago I happened to catch a show on cable TV called Slumfood Millionaire, and this particular episode focused on the Dharavi area of Mumbai. As I watched cooks preparing Indian Chinese dishes - including ones featuring the famous Manchurian and Schezwan sauces - I couldn't help but salivate. Having had a first taste of "Chindian" dishes thanks to her, I immediately messaged The Bombay East Indian Girl to tell her. She very kindly let me know that she would be happy to prepare something for me, as long as I didn't mind trekking over to her place.

Well... she is talking to someone who have planned many, many trips that revolved around restaurant meals - sometimes flying halfway around the world for a single reservation. So traveling for an hour on the train is nothing. I hesitated to impose on her, but eventually my curiosity got the best of me... and I invited myself over for lunch today.

I had ask our hostess for some Indo-Chinese food but did not specify anything in particular. She knows that, like her husband, I'm limited in my ability to handle the heat. So she dialed it down for me today. Meanwhile, Hairy Legs found out about my visit and managed to convince our hostess to serve up his favorite dish for us...

Masala dosa - I wasn't expecting to start with this, but of course I was only too happy to have dosa. The Schezwan chutney in the middle turned out OK for me, which meant it didn't have the kick that Sankala would have enjoyed.

April 2, 2022

No zebra for me, again

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I enjoyed my first meal at Estro, which was back during the restaurant's soft-opening period. The place got popular real quick, and the public scrambled to secure one of the coveted tables. I quickly realized that a return visit would require advanced planning, and I was a little lazy... Then we got hit with the dinner ban.

So Mr. Zebra became the latest chef to complain that I don't love him and never goes to see him. Well... I had made a booking for dinner for March, but of course it was cancelled thanks to the Hong Kong government. I dutifully rescheduled it as a lunch, so here we are.

Zucchini salad, basil, lemon zest - the zucchini noodles were very refreshing, and the lovely olive oil made for very clean flavors.


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