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).

September 12, 2022

A "casual" 3-star meal

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I'm doing my part taking the Compatriot to eat around town, and we are hitting another Cantonese restaurant... only tonight, dinner was at Forum Restaurant (富臨飯店), an establishment with 3 Michelin stars where they do (almost) everything right. There will be some old-school dishes that my friend will have been missing for a while, and we were joined by DaRC as he knows the menu much better than I do.

I had pre-ordered 2 items and also asked the restaurant to set aside 3 decanters for us. Once seated, I was reminded that corkage would be charged, which was fine. I am always happy to pay corkage for the privilege of bringing my own wines. But when I told sommelier Jacky Luk that we were bringing 5 bottles with us, he told me that the restaurant would only provide us with 3 glasses. This was... unexpected.

The only time a restaurant actively limited mu glassware was at this now-defunct bistro a number of years ago. We're not dining in a bistro tonight. This is a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. They have a sommelier (the very same one telling me he's not giving me enough glasses) I once was very impressed by. This is not the way to impress me.

We left the ordering up to DaRC, who was instantly recognized by the restaurant's senior management. Suggestions on dishes were made, and I really looked forward to a casual dinner with some good wines.

Deep-fried cuttlefish with spicy salt (椒鹽鮮魷) - a recommendation from the manager. Can't go wrong with battered and deep-fried seafood when the ingredient is fresh.

September 11, 2022

Mooncakes 2022

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Another year of spending Mid-Autumn in Hong Kong, without the ability to reunite with the Parental Units and bringing them mooncakes. This year I just about stuck to my guns and bought a very limited selection of mooncakes, while trying to get people not to send me any gifts. The last thing I want is to consume a ton of unwanted calories, especially if I'm not sure the mooncakes are actually any good!

I still managed to taste through a decent variety over the last 2 weeks, and for the first time in a while, I even tasted savory versions.

Someone sent us a box from the Rosewood Hong Kong, which included 3 different types of mini mooncakes.

September 9, 2022

Mushrooms and wine

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The Compatriot is back in town for a few days on his way back to Rosbif Land, and since I missed catching up with him in Taiwan, I was determined to see as much of my friend as possible during his short stay. I was also determined to take him to places for cuisine he'd have difficulty accessing in Rosbif Land, and this meant mostly going to Chinese or Japanese restaurants. Tonight we would start with a visit to Man Ho (萬豪金殿), as I pinged chef Jayson Tang to set us up with a menu.

I had, unfortunately, missed out on a mushroom-themed dinner here a few weeks ago, so I was pretty happy that Jayson arranged some of the same dishes for us. I also looked forward to see what other interesting creations Jayson had in store for us.

Marinated cuttlefish with preserved vegetables (鹵水釀墨魚) - the cuttlefish was tea-smoked and stuffed with pickled vegetables. Served on top of a pile of shredded celtuce marinated with sesame oil.

September 7, 2022

Fresh and crunchy

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I haven't seen the Landlord in over a year, although we have been keeping in touch and know roughly what's going on in each other's lives. She decided to take me out to lunch so we could catch up over some work issues, and I could get an update on her family. She has apparently grown fond of Yong Fu (甬府), a place I used to love but have stopped patronizing. Since she's picking up the tab, I figured I would go along.

I was happy to do a simple meal with some dumplings and stuff, but my friend had other ideas...

As usual we had some snacks on the table for us to nibble on, including preserved radish (蘿蔔乾).

Drunken mantis prawns (冰鎮溏心蝦姑) - as I don't eat raw crab, I ended up enjoying these drunken mantis prawns which were sweet and flavorful. Always nice to start with these.

September 6, 2022

Closing time

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DaRC pinged me this afternoon. Would I be interested in joining him for dinner at The Chairman (大班樓) tonight? In a scenario we have grown familiar with these days, someone he was meant to dine with tested positive for Covid-19 and they now had a seat to fill. Although I had just dined at the restaurant a few weeks ago, I figured I could spend more time catching up with him, so I accepted his kind invitation.

What I did not know was that it would be the penultimate dinner service at the current location. The restaurant is closing and moving to a new location nearby, and resuming service at the start of next month. Unfortunately for fans of the restaurant, reservations for the rest of the year were completely taken up less than 3 minutes after the booking system opened on August 22nd...

The menu tonight did not include any dishes that are new to me, but I am always happy to have some of these over and over...

Razor clam steamed with aged lemon and garlic (廿年鹹檸檬金銀蒜蒸蟶子) - this is always delicious, although nowadays we just get a smidgen of the aged lemon, which still lends its lovely fragrance.

A quick bowl of noodles

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I needed a simple lunch today on my way to the office, and decided to stop in Ho Hung Kee (何洪記) for some noodles.

Noodles in soup with shrimp dumpling (鳳城鮮蝦水餃麵) - served the traditional way with the egg noodles placed on top of the dumplings, so the noodles don't get soggy too quickly. The dumplings today were really packed with tons of flavor, which made me wonder if the kitchen was a little liberal with MSG today...

Rice noodle rolls filled with twisted cruller (香脆油條腸粉) - disappointing. The crullers in the middle were no longer crunchy, so these weren't freshly fried.

September 4, 2022

Catching up over dim sum

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Many of us have been traveling this year for the first time since the pandemic started, and that means we haven't seen each other for a few months. I was happy to see Mrs White T-shirt after quite a while, and finally had a chance to catch up with the RCs after their 5-month globe-trotting adventures. Dim sum at Seventh Son (家全七福) is something that all of us have been missing for a while.

Pan-fried radish cake with cured meat (香煎蘿蔔糕) - these were pretty moist, and perhaps a little too wet?

September 3, 2022

Off-menu and off-duty

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Another Saturday night, and another night spent at Caprice with Hairy Legs. Unlike the big gathering I had last week, though, tonight it's a completely casual affair, with a few dishes served "family style" at the Chef's Table. What hasn't changed from last week is that the focus remains squarely on the wines.

We still started with the canapés, which I just had a week ago:

Tomato ravioli with Parmesan cookie

Balik salmon with Kristal caviar and crème fraîche


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