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 would one day open them up after allowing them to develop for years.

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...


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