September 23, 2023

Saturday night (big) bites

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I'm still in self-eat-self (自己食自己) mode, so I'm taking the opportunity to enjoy some "me time" with solo dining. I had seen some friends post about a couple of dishes at Vivant so I asked the Twins about it. Thankfully I found myself seated at the bar tonight.

I had order just one starter and one main, but somehow this potato millefeuille smoked eel rillette just magically appeared in front of me. Chef Jeston was under the mistaken impression that I hadn't been here before and very kindly wanted me to try this. Well... I have had this before and I did like it the first time around. Crispy potato - and having more than 20 thin layers of it included - is a quick and easy way to my heart. Rillettes also ticks a box for me. So there.

Charred squid with tonnato sauce and fried capers - the squid "noodles" had a pretty nice texture, and the tonnato came with good acidity while the texture was ever so slightly grainy, but still a very good dish.

Veal sweetbread and chicken vol-au-vent - BABY, THIS IS WHAT YOU CAME FOR. I LOOOOOOVE vol-au-vent but it's too bourgeois to be on most fine dining menus. The Madeira sauce was honestly a little heavy on the salt for me, but that's probably because I have an Asian palate and not a French one. The sweetbreads were very nice, the chicken was good, and overall I still loved the dish.

I would have wanted to try a dessert, but given the extra course at the start of the meal, I no longer had stomach space. Happy to have finally come and tasted the dishes I'd had my eye on, and good to get some solo dining in.

September 21, 2023

White girl fish and more

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Haokoufu was back in town and the Man in White T-shirt wanted to bring her to lunch at The Sports Club (五陵會), which required a few helping mouths. Not having been back there in a few years, I was only too eager to sign up for this. It turned out there were a few other chefs at the table, too...

Century eggs and pickled ginger (皮蛋酸薑)

Deep-fried pork spare ribs with shrimp paste (香酥蝦醬骨) - difficult for this not to be tasty with that shrimp paste...

Deep-fried tofu (炸豆腐)

Double-boiled winter melon soup (冬瓜盅) - always happy to have this in warm weather to cool down.

Sweet and sour pork (咕嚕肉) - can't really go wrong with this.

Virgin mud crab (奄仔蟹) - always, always happy to see crabs with tons of roe. And no surprise that the Great One was really excited.

Deep-fried garoupa filets (脆炸吉列斑球) - it's been so long since I last had what is probably the best "white girl fish" in town, but I was pretty restrained today.

For me, it's just gotta be that sweet corn and egg drop sauce. It's just so classic... nay, ICONIC. I've loved this combination for years, although we're certainly not having frozen tilapia here!

Stir-fried kailan with dried flatfish (方魚炒芥蘭) - the little bits of dried flatfish give the dish so much more flavor.

Roasted baby pigeons (紅燒妙齡乳鴿) - always happy to have pigeon.

Baked porkchop rice (焗豬扒飯) - OK la...

Mung bean soup (綠豆沙) - after so many years in Hong Kong, I've now grown accustomed to their way of serving mung bean soup... which isn't complete sweet but rather comes with a savory flavor profile thanks to the use of kelp and rue (臭草).

Since Haokoufu was going be at the table, I promised I would bring a bottle of bongwater...

2020 Nicolas Joly Clos de la Coulée de Serrant - served nice and cold, so the wine showed some flint on the nose without being overly ripe. A little reductive, with floral and tropical stone fruit notes.

September 19, 2023

Occupy Amber: the alumni dinner

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I just had to do it. I had to be at this dinner tonight. I had debated about coming to this event for weeks, but I had already committed to a dinner last night as well as tonight. So I hesitated, and didn't bother asking for a table. Besides, Foursheets is out of town. Who would I ask to sit at my table?

Then I found out that PR8 would be returning to the Amber for one night only, dressed up in the uniform of front-of-house staff. This would be a great opportunity to snap a picture or two, and see how much he's changed since the time when he was a youngster working at the restaurant in 2005. Almost could not pass up this opportunity, but I didn't feel good about flaking out on my friends.

The final straw came when Maxime announced the closure of Écriture. It would seem that the last chapter has been written on that venture, and I didn't know when I would see him again, so I decided I had to come to this special Amber Alumni Return event tonight. It would feel very special. So I apologized to the Candidate and the others, told them I was bailing on dinner with them, and got myself "not the best table in the house" a few days ago. I am grateful for Belo for indulging my whims and accompanying me tonight.

I didn't see PR8 anywhere in the dining room when I was seated, so I asked around for him. Apparently he was hanging out in the kitchen and had to be notified that someone was asking for him. A lot of good he was doing... We managed to take a picture of him in his new uniform.

Our meal started with a welcome cocktail from an alumnus.

° Moët et Chandon Impérial Brut ° lacto-fermented peach milk custard ° local soy distillate °, by Agung Prabowo of Penicillin, Hong Kong - I could definitely smell the grapefruit oil. Some savory, umami flavors thanks to the clear soy sauce.

September 18, 2023

Big reds for big meat

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It has, once again, been much too long since the MNSC boys gathered for one of our tastings, and I'm glad we finally got around to it tonight. It's Ox's turn and we have found ourselves at the Grill Room of the Hong Kong Country Club. The food has always been decent here, so I'm happy to be back.

Seafood cocktail

Beef bone marrow, sourdough with Bordier butter and chives - roasted bone marrow always makes me drool.

And bone marrow on bread is just always so perfect.

September 14, 2023

Just for me

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Foursheets is away on an extended business trip, so I'm having to fend for myself during this time. While this means that I'm without my usual dining partner, it also gives me a chance to hit some places solo, and enjoy some "me time". Although I'm normally a social animal during meal times, I also feel that the pleasure of solo dining is very much underrated.

In the past I've gone to my favorite Neighborhood and sat alone at the bar, but I've now been told that it's no longer an option. Thankfully I could still get myself a table for their early seating, so I found myself at the corner table next to the entrance to the back room.

I know that the Kitchen Nazi had just come back to town, but I was still a little surprised to see him at the restaurant so early in the evening. Must be prepping for some VIPs... Anyway, I did ask him whether I should place orders for the dishes that I wanted to eat... and he waved off the suggestion and told me that he's got some stuff for me...

Local tiger prawn tartare / peppers - right off the bat, we have the local tiger prawn (花竹蝦) that isn't usually on the menu. Obviously these are fresher than the imported red prawns from various parts of Europe.

September 7, 2023

Bangkok Hong Kong

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French cuisine is hardly ever a priority when I'm visiting countries like Thailand, so it should come as no surprise that, in nearly 40 years of traveling to the City of Angels, I've never once considered dining at La Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. This is why I've never experienced the cuisine of Chef Arnaud Dunand Sauthier. I knew that he and Gaggan has a relationship as he left to set up Maison Dunand during the pandemic years, but he was still off my radar.

When I received an invitation to the four hands event between Chef Arnaud and Juve Fan, I didn't hesitate to say "yes". When I belatedly planned the quick getaway to Bangkok, I made sure that I would be back in town for lunch at Estro today.

As luck would have it, I was seated at the same table as the Great One, who left Bangkok a day before I did. It's been quite a long time, then...

So the way this menu played out was a little different from your run-of-the-mill X-hands. Each chef picked out three ingredients that the other chef would then create a dish around. That's a pretty nice challenge!

Blood sausage and green apple bon bon - I loved the blood sausage, of course, and the bon bon was full of apple juice.

September 6, 2023

No time no bird

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Just a couple of hours after getting off the plane from Bangkok, I'm out having dinner with the Birdiegolfs. It's been YEARS since I last had a meal at Toritama (酉玉), which is a combination of 2 factors: for years the restaurant was difficult to get into; and Foursheets doesn't do chicken... especially chicken offal that yakitori joints pride themselves in. After a couple of missed opportunties earlier this year, I finally got the chance to be in the seat next to Mr. Birdiegolf.

Meals here are always simple affairs. Everyone puts their hands up to show whether they do or do not want a particular item, then just wait for the arrival of each stick...

I was pretty hungry as I didn't eat on my flight, so I devoured these crudités in no time.

Meatball (つくね)

Bangkok incognito day 6: carbonara danish

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I'm flying out on a morning flight today, which meant I really didn't have any realistic options for breakfast. I had come across something curious in a package being sold at 7-11, and I figured I'd give it a shot and do that for my brekkie.

Carbonara danish sandwich is an interesting proposition. I love flaky pastry, and I LOOOOOOVE carbonara - whether the "real" ones made with egg yolk or the "fake" ones made with cream. So naturally I'm curious about this.

September 5, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 5: being assalted

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For my last dinner in Bangkok on this trip, I decided to check out a restaurant I had been hearing about for quite a few years. I have been a big fan of Gaggan Anand for a number of years, and I've had the privilege of watching his cuisine evolve. But a few years ago, a certain friend suggested that I should pay Haoma a visit. I wasn't able to do it during the long absence over the last few years, but tonight I finally got the chance.

The restaurant is also on Soi 31, just up the road from our hotel but the walk is a little longer compared to two nights ago. I was a little more sweaty by the time we got to our destination, but we were asked to wait outside the air conditioned dining room to start our experience...

We were shown a box of some of the ingredients to be used for our meal. This seems to be pretty common these days...

Bangkok incognito day 5: noodles and orange juice

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Foursheets is busy with work meetings all day, so I'm flying solo most of the day starting from breakfast. I decided to walk over to Rung Rueang Pork Noodle (รุ่งเรือง ก๋วยเตี๋ยวหมู) on Sukhumvit Soi 26 to try out this famous noodle shop.

There are, in fact, TWO noodle shops adjacent to each other - both with the same name. They are commonly referred to as the "Left Shop" and the "Right Shop". The Left Shop has been listed in the Michelin Guide for Bangkok and earned itself a Bib Gourmand distinction. The Right Shop, though, continues to do roaring business without the status.

So which shop to visit? Do I do both? I could certain do that, but it would require consuming more calories than I really need. Fortunately, someone has already done the comparison and reached a verdict. A trio including Supercharz and Super G had hit both of these spots just days ago, and concluded that the Right Shop was the one. So... I just followed their advice.

I chose to get a small bowl of kiami noodles with everything (ทุกอย่าง เกี๋ยมอี๋). The short rice noodles have tapered sharp tips on both sides, and in the pork-based (with lots of MSG, of course!) soup were minced pork, fish balls, fish cake, and offal like liver and heart. There was plenty of pepper in the soup, and the Chinese celery was pretty strong.

September 4, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 4: noodles and home cooking

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Another morning, and another breakfast. Foursheets wanted some boat noodles for breakfast, and we wandered back to Brainwake Café for it. But first... time to get myself some cha yan (ชาเย็น).

Beef boat noodle soup (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือเนื้อน้ำ) - with an extra order of crackling (กากหมู) that is de rigueur. OK la... Craving satisfied.

September 3, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 3: why the fuck are you even here?

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Truth be told, the main reason we're back in Bangkok is to see our friend Gaggan Anand, whom we recently found is actually named Gagan, with only one 'g' in the middle. Well, actually, I've seen him in both Hong Kong and Singapore over the last year, but what we haven't done is dined at his no-longer-new Gaggan Anand Restaurant. He has announced a new menu in which he has gotten rid of the emojis, so it was our opportunity to check it out for ourselves.

The restaurant is only a short stroll up Soi 31 from our digs at the Public House, so for once we didn't have to worry about the infamous Bangkok traffic. We showed up a little early to our late seating, but they weren't quite ready for us... so we hung out just inside the entrance to the building and had a drink of water. I guess I could have had a drink from the bar, too...

I had seen pictures of this neon light for the last couple of years, and me being who I am, I've always thought it should say "Be an asshole"...

Bangkok incognito day 3: new digs for an old favorite

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Foursheets got up this morning and decided that she would like to have some cha yan (ชาเย็น), so we walked around and ended up at Brainwake Café. While someone got her fix for milk tea, I noticed a selection of gelato from Ghignoni, and they happen to have cha yan gelato. So instead of having a drink, I got myself a gelato.

September 2, 2023

Bangkok Incognito day 2: Saturday Night Fever

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For our second dinner in Bangkok, we decided to hit Baan Tepa Culinary Space, one of the places which opened and rose to fame since our last trip to the city. The "culinary space" is actually a stately home which belongs to the family of Chef "Tam" Chudaree Debhakam, and her illustrous background has certainly generated a lot of buzz (or is it hype?) This made me very curious and determined to come see for myself.

We arrived a little early as we had budgeted time for Bangkok's famous traffic jams. As our party did not arrive together, the customary tour through the gardens was put on hold for us... and then omitted altogether as we got seated at our table for dinner. Oh well.

I didn't feel like ordering wine, so we grabbed a cocktail instead.

Coconut aged negroni: The Siamese - aged for 2 weeks and poured out of a coconut.

We were invited into the kitchen for a welcome bite and drink. The booking was done by me so that should have allowed us to stay incognito, but apparently Ice had alerted Chef Tam about our arrival, so the jig was up...

Bangkok incognito day 2: Jay Fai size

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After a poor night's sleep as a result of over-caffeinating myself, for once this morning I needed caffeine more than Foursheets did. Fortunately good coffee was just around the corner, and we found ourselves back at PAGA Microroastery. Got myself a cold brew and properly caffeinated again.

You'd think that, with the huge dinner we had last night, and with out lunch starting slightly early, that I would skip breakfast altogether. But I was a little curious about the Holey Artisan Bakery, so I walked in and, after surveying the goodies, bought myself a simple croissant. This was decent, but nothing to write home about.

Taking the traffic situation into consideration, we set off for Raan Jay Fai (ร้านเจ๊ไฟ) early. The last time all of us got to eat here was back in February 2017, when there were still very few customers at night. Since then the business has exploded thanks to the place receiving a Michelin star - which instantly catapulted Sister Mole to the world stage - followed by the feature on Netflix. By the time we tried to go back in December 2018, the lines were impossibly long.

So we are grateful to have a booking for lunch today without having to line up for hours. Jay Fai is still standing over one of the cooking stations, while someone else is now also doing the cooking. Filming videos of the boss cooking, or selfies with her, are now not permitted. I do think that's necessary nowadays, given the heavy workload she now goes through daily.

For me, a meal here has to start with some orange juice (น้ำส้มคั้น). I loooove these Thai tangerines (ส้มเขียวหวาน) with the green peel, as the flavors are just so... elegant with that wonderful fragrance.

September 1, 2023

Bangkok incognito day 1: 50 (per)cent

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At or near the top of the list to visit for the Great One on this trip is Sorn (ศรณ์), the fine dining southern Thai restaurant from "Ice" Supaksorn Jongsiri and Chef Yodkwan U-Pumpruk. It is also near the top of the list for Foursheets, so it comes as no surprise that our first dinner takes place at the restaurant where we had our last dinner in Bangkok back in 2019.

It's rush hour on Friday evening, and traffic just isn't moving much along Sukhumvit... so we gave up on our plans for a Grab ride to the restaurant and walk over. After a little more than a half hour, we were all a little sweaty by the time we arrived for dinner. But the Great One was happy, and we had all worked up an appetite.

The menu tonight looked reasonably similar to the one served to me back in 2019, but this time around I asked Ice to tone down the spice levels for me... to about 50% of usual. As their pastes are sauces are made à la minute, Ice said they could accommodate as much as possible. I practically cried from the heat on my last visit, and I certainly wouldn't want to do that again.

Amuse bouche: there's a new one in addition to the two I have previously tasted.

Red guava (ฝรั่งแดง) - with a layer of red guava jelly on top, a thin wafer of crispy squid, and of course a sprinkle of crispy shallots.

Bangkok incognito day 1: just noodles

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We're off on a short trip to Bangkok for a few days with the Great One. We only settled on the itinerary a few days ago and managed to book a few restaurants for dinner, while leaving lunches for more casual fare. I was determined to hit a few spots I have been meaning to try for the last few years.

But Mother Nature was throwing us a curve ball. Typhoon Saola was gunning for Hong Kong and on course for a direct hit, and we were very worried starting from about yesterday morning that our flight would be canceled. Thankfully our airline announced late last night that all flights would be canceled beginning early this afternoon, while our flight is in the morning.

Given the weather conditions - Typhoon Signal 8 having been hoisted in the wee hours of the morning - and reduced service on the train lines, we were grateful that Sweetheart drove us to the airport. Check-in and security was smooth, and we soon found ourselves parked at a Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. Time for some breakfast!

This was never my ritual before the pandemic stopped all travels for me, but nowadays I feel compelled to get dan dan noodles (擔擔麵) before boarding. And one bowl is never enough.

August 31, 2023

The victory mountain

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Zhongmeister has been a big fan of the sakes from Katsuyama Brewery (勝山酒造), so when the owner of the brewery came back to Hong Kong to showcase some of their offerings, he quickly rounded up a few of us for a tasting dinner arranged by Berry Brothers and Rudd at Man Ho Chinese Restaurant (萬豪金殿). Since I also like sake from Katsuyama, not to mention Jayson Tang's cuisine at Man Ho, I was happy to put my hand up for this event.

Once I arrived at the restaurant, I was introduced Isawa Heizo (伊澤平藏), who is the 12th generation and current owner (蔵元) of the brewery. Also in attendance was his wife Julie, who is of Malaysian origin and has been responsible for expanding their presence in ex-Japan Asia as well as internaionally. Their son Isawa Heiki (伊澤平輝) is being groomed to take over, and also came along to introduce his new creation. Katsuyama Brewery was established in 1688 so there is a ton of history behind it. Isawa-san also told us a few stories behind a number of innovations the brewery has embarked on, such as introducing premium-priced sakes and using centrifuge.

In terms of the cuisine, I was pretty happy to see a few of my favorite dishes from Jayson.

The amuse bouche was a button mushroom with some kind of sour sauce. I guess it helped to whet the appetite.

August 29, 2023

The SMD menu

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Now that the Great One has moved on to work for a fashion mag and published her new cookbook on nothing but chicken, she has begun to work with restaurants in town on a series of special menus where she puts her touches to desserts and a fried chicken dish. I had missed out on an earlier round, so when an invitation came to join a tasting for the new collaboration, I didn't hesitate to show my unwavering support for my friend.

This time around, the team featured Menex Cheung (張嘉裕) of China Tang Hong Kong (香港唐人館) and DoBee Lam of SÉP, plus the Great One in her capacity as food columnist for Vogue Hong Kong. The dinner was held at China Tang, as part of the Landmark Tasting Mastery series.

The six-course menu was composed of dishes whose creations involved different combinations of the three chefs, so in that sense this was more interesting to me.

Appetizer: barbecued Iberico pork crispy banh xeo (始•筵 粵食[材]越食[法]: 越醬烤本地黑毛豬叉燒鍋巴), from Menex Cheung and DoBee Lam - the so-called "bánh xèo" was a taco-shaped shell made of crispy rice. This thick shell was designed to carry some shredded pickled cabbage, pickled beetroot, and julienne of pickled cornichons... on top of which was a piece of very tender char siu (叉燒). I have no idea whether the pork itself was ibérico (as stated in the English description) or "local" (as stated in the Chinese description), but I do know that the marinade was made with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, and meant to be lighter than the normal marinade so that the flavors of the herbs could show a little more. Having chiffonade of kaffir lime leaves on top also gave it a nice touch.

August 27, 2023

Supporting Japanese restaurants day 2: help your friends

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While I was trying to figure out which Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong we should be supporting at the start of the silly government seafood ban, it occurred to me that I should be supporting my restauranteur friends. And who better than RAW Yeah, the man behind the "不務正業燒肉店" Nikushou, the restaurant which always has a good selecion of Japanese seafood? I made arrangements to come and deplete some of the restaurant's supplies.

As the boss has very kindly arranged some special goodies for us - radioactive and all - he also asked the Great One to come along. After all, good friends should be able to glow in the dark together!

Chilled female Japanese snow crab (香箱蟹) - Japanese snow crab (松葉蟹) is always tasty, and apparently the boss learned the trick of stuffing meat from another crab (a male crab, no less!) into the shell. Love the ponzu (ポン酢) jelly as always.

August 26, 2023

Supporting Japanese restaurants day 1: eat more sashimi

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Shortly after the Tohoku earthquake which led to the disaster at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Plant in March 2011, I met up with friends over dinner at a couple of Japanese restaurants in town. The locals in Hong Kong were in a panic about Japanese produce and Japanese food in general, and Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong were suffering from a lack of business. There were times when mine was the only table in the restaurant, and it was difficult to look at the faces of the chefs and the staff. This was the reason I wanted to issue a call to action at the time, and I made sure to bring out sake from the Tohoku region.

Well... now that the Japanese government has decided to release diluted waste water from the nuclear plant after consultation with the IAEA, and the Hong Kong government has, predictably, taken the knee-jerk and braindead reaction of banning the import of seafood from 10 Japanese prefectures. This was, of course, simply a case of bureaucrats blindly following their masters up north - who had for years banned the import of all produce from the same 10 prefectures. By the way, has anyone told these smartypants that 4 of those prefectures - Gunma (群馬), Nagano (長野), Saitama (埼玉), and Tochigi (栃木) - are landlocked and there's no such thing as "seafood" from there? And have they looked at a map of Japan and realized that Niigata (新潟) borders the Sea of Japan, which is ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE of Fukushima?!

Of course, since the masters up north have now chosen to ban seafood imports from all of Japan, regardless of area of origin, suddenly the guys in Hong Kong look like the more rational ones... SMH.

Anyway, just as braindead housewives in Hong Kong rush to empty supermarket shelves of salt so they can consume enough to turn themselves into Jinhua ham or salted fish, I have decided that it was time again to show my support for Japanese restaurants in town. After all, who's afraid of a little tritium?!

We tried to be smart about it this time and pick out independent restaurants which may not have the resources to weather the storm, and this led us to a place in our neighborhood we have never visited before.

Kiri Japanese Restaurant (桐•割烹) appears to have opened less than 2 months ago, and occupies one of the top floors of a new building. At lunch today we got a great view of neighboring Victoria Park and Victoria Harbour. Meanwhile, we figured it was time for me to order up some sashimi and sushi.

Fried horse mackerel (稚あじの唐揚げ) - I love baby horse mackerel when they're deep-fried. So crunchy and tasty!

August 22, 2023

Valentine double

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It's Qixi Festival (七夕) today and Foursheets has decided not to cook, so I asked her to pick a place for us to eat out. Koji Charcoal Grill (菊志炭燒) is a place where we've enjoyed some tasty food, and it's simple, straightforward enough. I was pretty happy to go along with Foursheets' selection to make things easy.

In the afternoon we were pinged by Fergie, who announced that they were suddenly free this evening for that get together we had talked about for a couple of weeks. We decided to invite them along and open a couple of bottles together. They had never been to the restaurant, but the menu is self-explanatory and they just needed to know which dishes we would consider "must order". And we ended up ordering a storm, in multiple rounds.

This dip is still as irresistable as ever. My portion was pretty much gone by the end of the meal as I kept shoving bits of it in my mouth, whether it was on top of some food or on its own.

August 17, 2023

Back to the menagerie

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An online acquaintance is spending a few days in Macau, revisiting top Cantonese restaurants there after borders re-opened this year. I decided to take this opportunity to meet up with him for the first time, finally putting a face to someone with whom I have many discussions over the years, but never in real life and in real-time.

It's been 4 years since I was last at The 8 (8餐廳), and I do miss their dim sum menagerie... so I agreed to come for lunch. My friend had already visited the restaurant a few days ago for dinner and had gotten a few other dishes ticked off his list, so we figured we could just focus on dim sum.

Pomegranate and coconut jelly - I had to verify with a second staff member whether the top part was pomegranate (石榴) or guava (番石榴), as it certainly tasted like the latter to me... but was told that it was indeed pomegranate. 

August 15, 2023

Four Seasons day part 2: for the love of tomato

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After taking a break at home for a couple of hours, I'm back at the Four Seasons Hong Kong. My Birdbrain Cousin wanted to come back to Caprice, and I haven't had a proper dinner here in a while. I'm always happy to come back and see the team, especially during this season when Hairy Legs is getting shipments of fresh tomatoes from maman. The latest shipment was apparently 70kgs and had just arrived.

Hairy Legs knew about my lunch today, so he arranged a relatively short menu for us. I am always grateful for the kindness of friends - especially ones who don't try to kill me.

We were poured a glass of Champagne while waiting for the arrival of My Birdbrain Cousin:

Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle, en magnum, dégorgée le 1 decembre 2021 - very metallic and mineral, flinty, like Anjou pears. Fresh and fruity nose at the same time, then a little more oxidized. Good depth on the palate.

But I really wanted to start our meal with a tomatini from Caprice Bar, made with les tomates de Chez Galliot. This tasted so fresh! Loved the green flavors of the tomatoes, and the sprinkle of poivre de Penja from Cameroon on top was particularly nice.

Four Seasons day part 1: the paper chase

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I got pinged out of the blue last week, asking whether I would be interested in attending a preview tasting. Apparently the First Initiative Foundation is putting on a gala and has invited a few chefs in town to present dishes. The event would be held at the Grand Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hong Kong, which is where I found myself today with a whole gang of KOLs - most of whom I have never met before.

The theme "Paper Poems" is meant to be "an ode to Hong Kong heritage", and I wondered how this related to the choice of chefs presenting dishes at the event. It was explained that, although 4 of the 5 chefs are not native Hong Kongers, each would present a dish from their hometown while paying homage to Hong Kong. This would certainly be interesting.

I was wondering why, at a gala dinner featuring food from chefs helming fine dining restaurants, they would be offering cups of pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶)… until a little light turned on in my head and I remembered that the local partner of Chun Shui Tang (春水堂) is also behind one of the featured restaurants. Boba tea doesn’t interest me much, but I was happy to take a cup of lemon jasmine tea with fig jelly (愛玉翡翠檸檬茶).

August 13, 2023

How to feed a village

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A friend is back in town and the Great One has decided to take her to the Chairman (大班樓). This time around I'm lucky enough to be invited to join them, and it's always good to be able to spend some time with Sweetheart, too. It was an opportune moment to ask him how he felt about the Spurs losing the best striker around.

One of the guest of honor tonight was a no-show, so we ended up with waaaay more food than we knew what to do with. And our host is well-known for her habit of over-ordering. In fact, it came to light that she had no idea that the menu for us mere mortals normally consists of three starters, three main courses (one of which is seafood while the other two are meats), one vegetable, and one carb dish. As I scanned the menu tonight, we were to be served five starters (apparently Danny has already nixed one, on account of there being too much food) and four main courses (of which three were seafood) - plus the usual veg and clay pot rice. Someone remarked that there was enough food to feed an entire village, and I can't disagree...

Lily bulb and wintermelon marinated in young ginger vinegar and rose wine (蘭州百合,玫瑰露子薑醋漬冬瓜) - the winter melon really had been soaking in vinegar for a while, as the acidity was pretty strong and made for a sensible amuse bouche. The rose flavor in the vinegar was relatively mild but noticeable. Love the starchy crunch in the lily bulb.

August 9, 2023

The 492- point Torbreck vertical

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I have a confession to make: I sometimes enjoy torturing the Candidate a little. As a former candidate, she would be well-exposed to wines from all over the world, and in fact has probably tasted a lot more non-French bottlings than I ever will. But she always seems to want to drink only Champagnes and Burgundies. So in some of our past gatherings, in order to make things more interesting, I have sometimes played the role of Wine Nazi and insisted on "no chardonnay/Champagne no Burgundy/pinot".

After organizing our Aussie tasting last year, I proposed that we do a vertical tasting of Torbreck's RunRig. I had been a big fan of David Powell's wines way back when I first started getting into wine, and RunRig was modelled after my favorite wine - Guigal's La Mouline. I remember being amazed that someone in Australia was making shiraz with this much finesse, and even the most basic offering at the time - named after the Juvniles bar in Paris - delivered plenty of pleasure.

Well, we finally got around to it tonight. I was able to bring out 4 vintages - all of which have been aged for 2 decades or more - while the Film Buff added a slightly younger one. The Candidate had threatened to either boycott the dinner or drink only water, so I reluctantly agreed to add a Champagne in lieu of sparkling shiraz.

We had some trouble figuring out a suitable venue for this dinner, considering the amount of decanter and glassware, as well as cuisine that would be powerful enough to stand up against these big wines. Eventually Monsieur Jamin offered to host us at the I Hate the Handover Club, as they do serve up a very, very good prime rib.

I was a little disappointed, though, that the club insisted that everyone had to have the same appetizers in our function room. Surely the kitchen could have handled multiple options?!

Dungeness crab cake, pickled yellow turnips, coriander remoulade - this was pretty tasty, with the exterior being fairly crispy. The remoulade wasn't too heavy on the coriander, which was just right.


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