Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year! A time to look back...

For the past few years, it has become our tradition to send out holiday e-card with a collage of some wonderful food we had during the year, as a way to count our blessing with memories of wonderful meals and wonderful company we have enjoyed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cooking at home: Christmas stollen

Well, it is probably too late for this recipe to be any useful for this Christmas season, but I found this quite easy to make and could probably turn this into a normal bread or fruit cake by cutting down on sugar content. Not a lot of kneading required and so didn't leave my kitchen counter-top with gluey, messy leftover dough to clean up.

I was inspired by my friend Wilson in his recent article in the WOM Guide featuring our chef friend Gregoire (of the Four Seasons Hong Kong) for a cooking demonstration of this traditional German Christmas bread - it's similar to the Italian Panettone or English Christmas pudding as they all involve raisins and some kind of winter spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc), but I love the firmer texture and less sweet taste of a Stollen, far better than the other Christmas pastries.

Anyway, unfortunately Wilson's article didn't include a recipe nor ingredient list, so I went around found a couple easier ones on Google which I used as reference, and basically just improvised along the way to suit my own taste and preference. It yielded a big loaf good enough to serve 6-8 people.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cooking at home: 30-hour "Instant" Ramen

Like many Hong Kong families, I always keep a handful packets of instant ramen at home – whether that be for a quick fix for breakfast, lunch, dinner or midnight snack, or just about any time when I need some value-for-money calories. After all, it’s fast, it’s cheap, it’s easy and it actually tastes okay.

But what I am sharing today is quite different than what you have in mind when we talk about instant ramen. First, it’s not “instant” – it’s cooked for 30 hours; second it’s not cheap – it probably cost as much as you would in one of the many ramen shops in town, but it’s still relatively easy to make, and is definitely close to the quality of any version you can find anywhere sans Japan.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Barbecue Galore

I never quite buy the notion that one can fully appreciate food without sharing the passion of preparing them at the same time. And hanging out with people who appreciate food and sharing the passion of preparing them (and being very good at this) brought great pleasure far beyond any delicious dishes on the table can give. I am glad to have such an occasion at a Hong Kong-style barbecue one evening at my friend's place this past weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food Experiment - 40-second sponge cake

Friends who came to my place for dinner knew I love doing food experiments with them being the guinea pigs - some of them got the better of those experiments, though most are not so lucky. But the one I did last weekend turned out to be quite decent - more decent than I expected.

I got this recipe idea from a book I flipped through which talked about molecular gastronomy. While most of the recipes inside required use of obscure ingredients or funky equipment, this one caught my eye because it sounded easy to make and no special equipment needed other than a cream siphon, which I considered as a piece of ordinary kitchen equipment - in fact I got 2 at home. Anyway it's called 40-second sponge cake, as it only took 40 second of cooking time, in a microwave. It actually came from a recipe from the El Bulli menu a few years ago - how cool is that. Now let me show you how I did it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

First in Hong Kong: Sushi Shikon

(I have changed the title of this to reflect the recent change of restaurant name from Sushi Yoshitake Hong Kong to Sushi Shikon)

It's almost surreal as I walked through the familiar sliding door of Sushi Yoshitake, seeing the familiar face of Chef Masahiro Yoshitake working behind the Hinoki wood counter - after all it's hardly 6 months ago when I walked into his restaurant in Tokyo and had the most memorable dinner there. Afterwards as I reflected on that meal in my blog, I did mention I would love to go back some time, but little did I know I would actually have such an opportunity so soon, except this time the venue changed from a non-descript commercial building in the neon-lit back streets of Ginza 8-chome to a boutique hotel in a quiet corner at Hong Kong's Sheung Wan district.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Holy Crabs! - Man Wah and its hairy crabs

Autumn morning breezes reminded me that it's the time of the year when hairy crabs showed up in every Shanghainese restaurant menus in town. Well, that and the invitation from Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong for a preview of Man Wah's seasonal hairy crab menu which runs for 2 weeks from end of October.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The wow meal at Kikuchi

There's little doubt in my mind that the omakase sushi meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi was epic, but if I have to name my favorite meal during the 10-day stay in Tokyo, that belongs to the dinner at Kikuchi, a restaurant in Nishi-azabu which specializes in kappou gomi - which literally means the culinary art of cutting and cooking.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From Dream to Reality - Sukiyabashi Jiro Roppongi

“Is that THE restaurant featured in a movie?”
“Oh, you have seen the film, haven’t you?”
“How was it? Was it really that good?”

That’s usually how the conversations started when people heard that I just went to Sukiyabashi Jiro in a recent Tokyo trip.

Work brought me back to Japan for a second time this year, and with more time to plan this time around, I decided to take full advantage and try out more restaurants around Tokyo. I was excited when my dinner reservation was confirmed for this small restaurant with only 8 seats. Okay, it’s not the original one owned by the legendary Sushi maestro Jiro Ono per se, but many would still consider its Roppongi branch – one managed by his younger son Takashi and with 2 Michelin stars to show forth – a close second.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

30 Hours in Macau Part 1 - How this come about, Dim Sum and more...

We were surprised and happy to have received a kind invitation from Wynn Macau to spend 2 days at their property - an offer that we found it hard to turn away from. It came at the perfect time - this summer we have been spending way too much time travelling around without much vacation time, so a trip to somewhere just far enough to be considered a getaway but close enough to avoid all the travel hassles was exactly what we needed.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Summer Dinner Menu - Salt Baked Fish and Pumpkin Soup

Many people thought cooking the whole fish is a very Asian thing - one may immediately relate to the classic Cantonese dish of steamed garoupa with ginger and green onions, or those grilled fish with chili sauce wrapped in banana leaves commonly seen in Thai restaurants. Well, it's only partially true. While this is probably more common in this part of the world, numerous western dishes involved cooking fish in the whole - for example, barramundi or rainbow trout are 2 kinds of fish often cooked as the whole - with barbecue in open fire or baked in an oven the preferred way of cooking.

Having spent a good part of summer in inner part of China where seawater fish was not readily available, I have been craving for fish when I am finally home. So I decided to do a salt-baked fish on this hot and humid Sunday evening.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Not (just) about wine and dine: my evening with Krug

An American author once wrote in her book about cooking, that “one of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends.” I was lucky to have exactly such an experience last week in an event by invitation with a group of food lunatics, courtesy of friends from WOM Guide.

I guess if there’s one invitation that I can never afford to turn down, that would be it – a Friday dinner at a Michelin 3-starred restaurant featuring wines from one of the most prestigious champagne houses in the entire world, especially the restaurant I am talking about here is my favorite 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, and the champagne house is none other than the glorious Maison Krug.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dining in Singapore - Saveur

I walked by Purvis Street just behind the legendary Raffles Hotel a few times and every time I went, I saw a long line of people waiting outside a restaurant called Saveur. Turned out this is one of the newest restaurants on the block, the one that started off as a hawker stall and found its new home at the current location just a couple months ago. Naturally with its apparent popularity, I got curious and eager to try this one out, but I gave up a few times after seeing the lines that stretched all the way to 2 shops away. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dining in Singapore - The Delightful JAAN

I rarely ate at the same hotel that I was staying in, unless the meal came as part of the room package, but for this Saturday in Singapore I decided to try one of the restaurants under the same roof, some 40 levels up from my hotel room.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dining in Singapore - Open Door Policy

I accidentally discovered this bistro when I went to check out 40 Hands, which was described by many as one of the best cafes in Singapore, after dinner at the Tiong Bahru neighborhood the other night. First time I walked by I was surprised to find out this lively restaurant literally in the middle of nowhere full of customers and I only learned later that this place - named "Open Door Policy" (or ODP in short) - is actually partly owned by the people behind 40 Hands.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Food Revolution Day is HERE!

Playing my part in supporting Food Revolution Day (which is on May 19 - TODAY!), let me share with you 3 of the local (Hong Kong-based) charitable organizations/social enterprises bringing food awareness to the public and helping those in need.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wine and Dine - An evening at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA

There are places that wow you with excellent cooking techniques, or fascinating combination of ingredients, and there are some that impress you with consistently high quality, spot on dishes day in day out, and Chef Bombana's Otto e Mezzo certainly has a lot of both.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eating in Tokyo: Sushi Yoshitake

If the old sayings that "the best way to judge a sushi chef is by the toro he serves" hold any weight, I am certain that Chef Masahiro Yoshitake is the best I have ever encountered.
Sushi Yoshitake
Well sh*t happens at work and that brought me to Tokyo for a few days - but with the opportunity to return to my favorite place on earth, I secretly called this blessing in disguise. The trip may be arranged at very last minute, but it didn't stop me from calling Amex Concierge to arrange a few dinner reservations for me before departure. They got back to me within an hour with 2 confirmed bookings - my hats off to them for such efficiency and high level of service.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Eating in Tokyo: Tonki at Meguro

Often when you told people a certain place is THE best in something or somewhere, it easily led to a heated argument with someone who happens to disagree. But I guess most who have visited Tonki - a Tokyo restaurant specialized in Tonkatsu - would come to a consensus that it is THE most epic culinary institution, serving consistently great street food since as long as they can remember.

Friday, February 17, 2012

You had me at Deep-fried Tofu - The Monogamous Chinese

Understandably, I had a cloud of doubts over my head when I first heard of this new Chinese restaurant on top of Soho, serving Sichuanese and Pekinese cuisines - after all, this is not an area traditionally known for quality Chinese food. And I have to admit if I wasn't invited to a tasting event at The Monogamous, I wouldn't even notice its opening let alone setting foot in.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

48 Hours Short Ribs

Sous Vide is more than just cooking in a plastic bag...
Sous Vide short ribs has always been considered kind of the holy grail in sous vide cooking at home, as this seems to bring out the best balance of flavors and texture for a meat cut that may be otherwise tricky to handle. And I have been planning to do this ever since I got my Sous Vide Supreme machine just before Christmas. 

Here I am using a much simplified recipe - given the time constraint I had and I strictly used what I have left over from the refrigerator as well. But with a choice cut from a trusted butcher, you really don't need to over-do things to make this a decent dish. That I guess is one beauty of sous vide cooking - it's really hard to go wrong.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Yuzu Dinner at Home

Our friends and good neighbor bryan and henrietta went to Osaka during Chinese New Year holidays and brought us something - including a pair of fresh Japanese yuzu. We probably all had a good share of yuzu-flavored food or drinks in the past, but surprisingly, fresh yuzus are hard to come by outside of Japan for whatever reasons. Anyway, I was so excited getting this wonderful gift that I immediately planned a yuzu-themed dinner for the weekend so I can play with them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

While I believe that home cooking can be as fancy and elaborate as you can imagine, I am also a fan of quick one-pot dinner from time to time. After the whole weekend of traditional chinese new year food such as turnip cakes and sticky "nin go", we decided to stay at home one evening and did something totally different - the anti-CNY dinner so to speak.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

63-Degree Eggs - playing with Sous Vide Supreme

Come meet my new friend Sous Vide Supreme! Ever since I got it in early December I have been experimenting and trying out dishes that I had difficulties making without this super machine that can keep temperature to 0.5 degrees (Celcius) accuracy.

I have been trying to cook a few things with this new kitchen yoy but particularly here's a simple dish I made over the new year for a vegetarian friend of mine - hearty lentils combined with fresh mushrooms that I got from the farmer's market, and eggs cooked at 63-degrees sound like a perfect winter appetizer dish to me in this occasion.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking back - the rest of 2011

Every Christmas we made e-card using pictures of food we have enjoyed over the past year. As I was going through those picture albums, I realized that there are too many memorable meals that didn't quite make it to the blog - either I don't have time or mood to write, or even to formulate some thoughts on them. Anyway, as we look towards the new year, this is our way to give thanks and reflect on the wonderful times we had around dining tables in 2011 with a recollection of those meals - think of this as several mini-blogs jammed into one: