Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Siesta Fiesta

There’s a sense of déjà vu when we went for the weekend brunch at La Rambla a few weekends ago. The nice spread of savory and sweet Spanish dishes at the counter did remind me of the good old Catalunya in Wanchai with their sumptuous weekend buffet before it closed down a couple years ago. Of course, such resemblance was hardly a coincidence given both restaurants were operated by the same group.

One could think of La Rambla as a “down-to-earth” version of the old Catalunya –  one were the somewhat remote location that needed a detour and the dark and hip décor which resembles more of a club.  La Rambla is right inside ifc mall in the heart of Hong Kong (taking up the spot where the popular Isola Italian restaurant once was), and the bright and spacious interior with the ocean view made it a perfect spot for anything from a casual meal to family gatherings.

But one thing remained the same – their weekend brunch menu was as sumptuous as ever. We already walked past the long charcuterie “station” as we were seated to a table at the far end of the restaurant, filled with Jamon, chorizo, cured meats, cheeses and anchovies. On the other side of the table was more cold tapas and salad served pintxos style, many of them bite-sized pieces served like an open-faced mini sandwiches. And right outside the open kitchen was the egg and grill stations with different huevos, meat and seafood dishes delivered straight from the kitchen. I particularly liked the small bowl of slow-cooked egg (done in the waterbath) served with potato espuma for the smooth texture and hearty flavor – a different rendition of the classic Huevos Rotos. I also thought the gazpacho with king crabs would make the perfect first course on a hot sunny day with the cold and refreshing soup mixed with tangy and umami flavor.

And all the while we were checking out the buffet spread, a few hot tapas arrived at our table. Of course the Bikini sandwiches were not to be missed, with truffles, jamon and melted cheese served inside a thin toast made this a perfect snack any time of the day. So was the bombas – filled with smashed potatoes and meat, deep-fried with batter and served with brava sauce on top. I would have ordered a few of those until I was reminded that more food was coming our way.

The menu also came with a choice of paellas AND main courses, both made to order and served in family style. One couldn’t go wrong with the classic paella, cooked with a rich sofrito mixed with bits of pork belly and topped with clams and squids. It sure was mouth-watering. I personally could live with a slightly crispier skin for our suckling pig main course, done in the traditional Segovian style and served with sautéed mushrooms, but nonetheless the meat was juicy and tender.

Desserts were equally amazing. No churros, in case you were thinking, but instead there were cakes and sweets served in small glass bowl (those crème catalana was to die for!). The cheesecake was an interesting one too – baked in mini pan with melted cheese inside with a slight savory-sweet flavor and served hot with chocolate sauce on the side. Towards the end of our meal they also brought out the icecream cart and did the sundae with vanilla cream custard flash-frozen using liquid nitrogen for the extra smooth texture, with toppings of our choice. That sure was a crowd-pleaser.

I resisted the temptation of going for the open bar option, which included a good selection of wines and cocktails on unlimited pours, but instead went for a good old Negroni plus the fresh juices at the Juice Bar. Just wanted to stay relatively dry after a night of drinking the previous evening and that turned out to be a wise choice, as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to stay sober enough for all these wonderful dishes.

(The meal was by invitation)

When? April 14 2019
Where? La Rambla by Catalunya, Shop 3071-73 Level 3, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central
Menu Highlights? Bikini sandwich with Truffles, Jamon and Cheese

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Big Fish

The dinner was months in the making, at least that’s how far the chat group went discussing every single details of the meal beforehand and rounding up enough people for a feast. It all started when our friend F who managed to get hold of the rare Ikan Empurau fish from Malaysia and organized a dinner just for that.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Swiss Visitng Chef

We honestly had not heard of Chef Andre Jaeger and his (former) hotel-restaurant in Switzerland when our friends A and R asked us to join them for dinner when the chef dropped by Hong Kong for a quick stint – it’s certainly our fault for being ignorant, as I learned afterwards that Chef Andre has quite a reputation being in the forefront of contemporary Asian-inspired cuisine out of his family’s property Fischerzunft in Schaffhausen since the 1980’s and remained a prominent figure in the Swiss culinary scene even after his retirement a few years ago.

Monday, April 15, 2019

(Good) as Usual

We thought Sunday brunch at Belon was a perfect way to introduce some of our friends to our favorite restaurant in town, plus it’s something we have never done before so it’s a good opportunity for us to check out this menu as well. Sunday is the only day of the week that the restaurant opens for business in the afternoon, and I do like the different vibe of the place – more chilled and laidback as opposed to the rustic, lively atmosphere often seen at their always- busy nights. And I did like the natural sunlight beaming through the wooden windows facing out to the street.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Bang For the Buck

We kicked off our long weekend with a lovely lunch at Roganic, the new restaurant in Causeway Bay opened a few months ago but already got so popular that it’s almost impossible to book. We finally managed to score a table on the first day of the Ching Ming Festival holiday weekend so we figured that’s perfect timing for us for a long lunch there.