February 26, 2023

Waiting for nutrition

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Sometimes I do feel bad that, for all the trips that Foursheets has taken to Taiwan with me, we've only gone out of Taipei on four occasions. As our main purpose for this trip was celebrating mom's big birthday, it made sense that we spent our time in Taipei. But I still wanted to take her somewhere she hasn't been before, and I figured hitting the night market in Keelung City (基隆市) would be something interesting for her.

We didn't leave home as early as I had originally planned, and by the time we got off the train at the new train station in Keelung and walked to the Keelung Miaokou Night Market (基隆廟口夜市), the place was already packed. This being her first time, Foursheets decided to walk pretty much the whole stretch of the market to see what was available, before choosing the food she would allocate stomach space for. A smart move, for sure, but one that had detrimental consequence for me...

February 25, 2023

Hello from the other side

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After the banquet with family last night, the four of us are doing a more intimate dinner on mom's birthday. The original plan was to have a casual meal at the club in the neighborhood, but dad decided a couple of days ago that it wasn't gonna be good enough for such a big day. For the second time in about a month, I was forced to find a suitable restaurant on very short notice - this time with mom's dietary restrictions in mind.

And so it was that 33 days after our first visit, in spite of some unpleasantness that came to pass, we found ourselves back at the Ukai Taipei - this time on the side of the restaurant serving kappo (割烹) instead of teppanyaki (鉄板焼).

As usual, the chef came out to introduce the ingredients they would be using for the meal. I must applaud the Japanese chef and our server for their Mandarin abilities, and apologize for having difficulty understanding them not because of their accents, but my own unfamiliarity with ingredient names in Chinese...

February 24, 2023

The big birthday celebration

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The reason for our trip back to Taipei was to help mom celebrate her 80th birthday. Normally it would just be the four of us, but as it's a BIG birthday, we decided to invite all of the Parental Units' siblings for the occasion - much like dad's 80th celebrations which took place on the same night as our wedding. I would, naturally, play host to this dinner... so I dutifully called each of my uncles to invite them.

There were a couple of potential venues that I considered, on account of wanting a private room that could be booked for this weekend. Thanks to the Parental Units' indecision in terms of a date, my first choice became unavailable. After checking around for comments on the two remaining candidates, it was decided that we would gather at Ya Ge (雅閣) in the Mandarin Oriental Taipei.

I usually find set menus at Chinese restaurants unimaginative, but mom wasn't satisfied with my choice of dishes at our so-called wedding reception last year, so she insisted that I take the Ya Ge Classic Menu. I did manage to replace one of the dishes with something I felt was more interesting.

Black pork, honey, barbecued (雅閣叉燒皇) - decent marbling but there's more bite than expected.

February 23, 2023

Scratching the 7 year itch

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For a number of years, I have been wanting but unable to visit the crop of fine dining restaurants that have opened up in Taipei. My trips back home tend to be short and focused on spending time with the Parental Units. When it came time for those celebratory meals with them, I was limited to the small selection of restaurants which allowed mom to order à la carte as opposed to taking a full tasting menu she would be unable to finish. For this reason, many restaurants on my "hit list" have been off-limits.

Which is why, almost 7 years after the restaurant first opened, I am finally making my very first visit to Taïrroir. Amazingly, mom had decided during the pandemic that she needed to eat more, so she actually dined here before I did!

We were joined by Little Rabbit, who alerted chef Kai Ho (何順凱) and pastry chef Angela Lai (賴思瑩) to our presence. I would have preferred to remain incognito, but that doesn't seem to be possible with Little Rabbit...

Menu "Qiu Lu Cai" - this is spelled with Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) but the it's actually "手路菜" in Minnan (閩南語). A little challenging for a little taro boy (芋仔) like me to figure this out...

First, a series of 3 amuses bouches to get us started:

Zhuangyuan cake (狀元糕) - with preserved radish (菜脯) and olives inside the soft and powdery sponge cake. Topped with crispy and smoky purple glutinous rice.

All crows are black, Taipei edition

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I'm back in Taiwan for a few days and decided to take the opportunity to catch up with old friends. I haven't seen Her Highness in a few years because, well, pandemic. I was looking forward to catching up with her and our mutual colleague when I got the news that our friend's entire family tested positive for Covid. I guess we'll have to catch up with her next time...

I refused to dictate a venue for our lunch, and eventually my friend settled on Mipon (米香) - one of the few restaurants with a Michelin star serving Taiwanese cuisine. It's frankly never been on my radar and I hadn't really heard of it, and it's housed in the Grand Mayfull Hotel Taipei (台北美福大飯店). None of us had been here before but I managed to do a little bit of research. I chose to avoid a couple of items that lots of people seem to have written about as the signature dishes of the restaurant, but which didn't really seem very interesting to me.

I was, honestly, a little disappointed by the service... but not surprised. Neither the kitchen nor the service staff cared about the serving order of the dishes. I guess it's true that Michelin stars are not about the service...

Stir-fried pork tail with three-cup sauce (三杯豬尾) - I don't often see pig's tail on the menu, so I was immediately triggered. Anything done with three cups (三杯) - which is a cup each of soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine - is bound to taste pretty strong. We almost always have Thai basil and ginger in the mix, too.

February 21, 2023


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I ping NC Chung today wanting to pick his brain on something, and in a flash I got myself a lunch date. It ain't easy finding a place so last-minute, so he chose SOMM. As I have never dined there, I was more than happy to check it out.

So there I was, stepping up to the station on the 7th floor of the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, like I have time and again. I was finally going to head straight in, without turning left or right. I was waiting for the usual greeting, asking me which restaurant I was heading to... except no one greeted me. The staff behind the station turned their attention to the lady on my left, who was ahead of me, and the gentleman on my right - who actually came up behind me. In that instant I realized that I had just been blanked.

February 18, 2023

The roast pork mountain

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Four years ago I had a fantastic time making a trip out to Lam Tei (藍地) for a visit of the facilities at Wing Hing Yee Kee Roast Meats Factory (榮興儀記燒臘工場), where the staff showed us process of how they roast pigs which have been raised locally. This was followed by a lunch at nearby Red Seasons Aroma Restaurant (季季紅風味餐廳), during which I was completely stuffed until I sat in my chair in absolute stupor.

I had mentioned to my colleague about that experience, as he lives relatively nearby and would be interested in something like that. We had talked about planning a trip to the restaurant but never followed through. So when my friend KC Koo organized another group outing with the same itinerary, I didn't hesitate in rounding up a few people from work to join the festivities.

We did, once again, start with a tour of the factory. Unfortunately for those visiting for the first time, the pigs have already been roasted so we could not see them at work. I did manage to do a very quick walkthrough with my Insta360 camera.

February 15, 2023

A quick bite of goose

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We're sticking around for a work call tonight, so my colleague and I decided to grab some roast goose at our favorite Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝).

Lower quarter of roast goose (燒鵝下庄) - the smart choice when you've got two people around, as you're at least guaranteed one of the coveted legs. Pretty good as always.

Rice flour noodles in soup (瀨粉) - still my preferred carb option here.

Blanched choy sum (菜心)

I was so busy eating that I forgot to take pictures...

A one-note one star

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I haven't had a chance to catch up with my friendly neighborhood prime broker in a long, long time, and they figured it was time to meet up. I'm a pretty easy going guy, and quite happy when lunch was booked at Aaharn. I was reasonably happy with my one and only visit there for lunch, and had been meaning to return for dinner one day. A second nibble at lunch seemed like a great idea.

They only offer a set lunch these days, so that's what we had to share:

Pineapple with popcorn chicken and chilli paste - same as before.

February 14, 2023

Chinese for Valentine

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When Mr. Locust and I were discussing the dining options for his trip back to town, I didn't hesitate to recommend Woo Cheong Tea House (和昌飯店) to him. It's a new place that he hasn't been to, and I do like the food there after 3 previous visits... although admittedly they were all hosted by my friends who own the restaurant. This would be my chance to see how they do with a "simpler" menu without any real expensive stuff.

I was a little surprised that the four of us were put in a private room upstairs. OK, I did book the table directly with the manager, but I felt for sure we wouldn't be ordering enough to meet any minimum spending limit, since we took it easy tonight and only decided on the dishes on the spot. I was assured by David that due to the spacial date, most of the tables in the main dining room downstairs were 2-tops...

Scottish razor clams with Shaoxing wine (狀元紅蘇格蘭蟶子皇) - Mr. Locust was very, very happy with this. I thought the texture was pretty nice and tender, and the flavors of Zhuangyuanhong (狀元紅) Shaoxing wine were pretty nice.

February 11, 2023

Book signing dinner

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The Great One has been globetrotting over the last few months, so we haven't been able to see much of her. As our respective schedules are about to get busy again, we decided to hit Neighborhood together. I did make it known to Shirley that the Great One would be coming with me, so that the Kitchen Nazi would have a free rein for the night. And I got my Favorite Cousin to join us to make it a foursome.

But first things first. The Great One has published a book! The "official" launch date of the Kung Pao and Beyond isn't for another few weeks, but somehow shops in Hong Kong have already started selling it. I managed to grab a couple of copies yesterday so I brought them to dinner to get them signed by the author. My copy is supposedly number 3...

The food started arriving fast and furious...

Smoked red bigeye - four of us shared this red bigeye (大眼雞), which was just as well since the fish falls in the "avoid" category on World Wildlife Fund's Sustainable Seaoof Guide. This was cooked in the same fashion that has now become one of the restaurant's signatures, and bears some resemblance to Chiuchow-style chilled fish (魚飯). The meat was cold and the smoky flavors were very prominent.

February 9, 2023

Off by one day

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A friend has been eating his way around Japan, and among his social media posts was a picture of conger eel fry (ノレソレ). As the season for this is relatively short, I immediately thought of the first time I enjoyed this delicacy - around a year ago at Sushi Shikon by Yoshitake (すし 志魂). I figured I could try my luck and see if it's available again there, so I quickly made a booking for dinner tonight. As I don't really know Kaki-san, I never thought about messaging him before showing up.

The restaurant remembered our dietary restrictions, and reminded Kaki-san before service started. It's always nice to see this level of service at a restaurant of this caliber.

I took one look at the menu and knew that I wasn't gonna get the item I most wanted. I asked Kaki-san about it, which was when he told me that it will be on the menu STARTING TOMORROW. AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shirako Sea urchin with Japanese buckwheat nut - BABY, THIS AIN'T WHAT YOU CAME FOR! Not only was the first dish NOT conger eel fry, it was originally FISH CUM! Thankfully we did not have any in our bowls, as sea urchin had been used as a substitute. Served on a bed of braised buckwheat and topped with leeks, "baby onion" (I'll assume Kaki-san meant pearl onions), caviar, and a dab of wasabi. This was nice and warm, which is comforting and a great way to settle the stomach before the other dishes come.

February 7, 2023


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We know that Juve Fan has been acting as consulting chef for a new Italian joint called Ramato, which took over the old premises of Duocento 208. I love all the pasta dishes from Juve Fan but can't afford to dine there frequently. My love for Spaghetti House is also well-known among my friends, but I could never convince some people - like Foursheets and Fergie, for example - to go with me. So I kinda need a place to enjoy some decent but casual pasta that falls in the range between those two. I figured Ramato might just be that place.

Thankfully Foursheets managed to rope in Ro Ro to try out the place with us. While each of us would be ordering our own plate of pasta, we could try out a few bites and share some other dishes together.

Burrata and camone - the dome-shaped burrata from Puglia looked really cute, and it was pretty tasty. Served with camone tomatoes from Sardinia.

February 5, 2023

Same same

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Mr and Mrs Locust are back in Hong Kong for a few days, their first visit since before the pandemic started. They had been struggling to come up with places they wanted to hit, and I had kinda not pushed them to choose anywhere beyond 2 restaurants Foursheets and I already booked. Then DaRC asked whether I had interest to take a couple of seats at Mosu Hong Kong tonight as he would be out of town on short notice, and I thought this could be some place interesting for the Locusts to try.

The sad thing for me, though, was that I had just made my very first visit about 5 weeks ago. This means there is virtually zero change in the menu, and I'd be eating the same dishes again... Honestly, I don't find this acceptable for a restaurant which only offers one tasting menu to its diners. It means there is less incentive to revisit often, unless one loves the specific set of dishes so much that one wants to do it all over again. I do understand, though, that the restaurant remains very difficult to book, and the chance of mere mortals getting a table more than once per quarter is pretty slim...

DaRC had booked the private room at the back of the restaurant, and there was a window looking out onto one of the exhibits on the floor below at M+ Museum. That was kinda interesting, I guess.

Our welcome drink tonight was, once again, made with Korean rice wine as a base. Flavored with yuja (유자), whose citrus flavors were front-and-center.

At this time I asked our waiter to "switch channels to TVB Pearl", as we had people in our group who was not fluent in Cantonese and therefore could not understand the introduction of the dishes. Our waiter told us that he is able to do this in Cantonese, Mandarin, or English, so we asked for English.

February 1, 2023


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I'm not the most alert when it comes to special events at restaurants, as I often miss the email announcements that come into my various mailboxes while I'm busy at work. I've been lucky a few times in the past, but more often than not I just let these things pass me by.

I was moping around the house on New Year's Day, enjoying a lazy Sunday morning when I saw the email announcing the MONO X Toyo Eatery collaboration. I sent a message to the restaurant, fully expecting that no one would reply on a public holiday. When Hong Kong went back to work two days later, a reply did come and I managed to grab 2 seats for the event.

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Jordy Navarra from Toyo Eatery before, although he has certainly received a lot of attention over the last few years. So I was really looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table. The good thing is that I knew this would be the kind of collaboration/four-hands that I like, where the chefs actually put their heads together to create each dish incorporating flavors from each team. The dishes are then unique to the event and not previously seen at either restaurant.

We had good seats at the counter for our meal, which allowed Ricardo and Jordy to come over from time to time during service. We also chose the wine pairing, and Mauricio was kind enough to offer me a couple of extras...

Krug Grande Cuvée, 170ème Édition, ID 221042 - more toasty on the nose than I remembered, but that's very, very classic Grande Cuvée. Pretty popcorn. Wonderful.


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