Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happiness is dining on 101st Floor - Inakaya Hong Kong

I ventured out to West Kowloon to try out Inakaya with a few friends. Inakaya is part of the Sky Dining 101 complex which sat at 400 meter above sea level on the 101st Floor of the ICC building. There were two sections in the restaurant - the main dining area features dark decor with windows facing the Victoria Harbor on one side and stations with teppenyaki grill on the other, but the major attraction is the robatayaki area at the back, where we were seated.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Asking too much? Evening at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

We headed off to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at Landmark for dinner for only the second time (since it first opened). Well I know it's been awarded 3 stars in Michelin Guide, called the best in Asia by Miele etc etc, but our last visit a few years back was downright horrible in everything you can imagine that we just didn't bother to return afterwards. Well we had similar experiences with other restaurants in town in the beginning only to realize afterwards that those places have made significant improvement since then, so we decided to give it a second chance and hope it would prove ourselves wrong.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Grand Affair - Perrier-Jouët Lunch at Inagiku

For a second year, I was invited to the Perrier-Jouët luncheon hosted by its Cellar Master Hervé Deschamps. Last year I had a blast at g.e. of the luxe manor, and this time the lunch was at Central's Inagiku Restaurant right next to the Four Seasons. It's been quite a while since I last visited the restaurant and I was also curious to see how the matching of champagne and Japanese food would turn out. I arrived at the cocktail reception right on time at The Box upstairs with the Perrier-Jouët non-vintage Grand Brut before heading down to the private room at Inagiku, for food and of course, more champagne. The room was tastefully decorated with champagne bottles and beautifully arranged bouquets of the iconic white peonies, and I am always amazed at them putting all these efforts of decoration and arrangement just for the occasion.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dinner at The French Window

Last Monday evening I joined a bunch of social media peeps for a tasting of the Le French Gourmay menu at The French Window in ifc mall, prepared for us by its head chef Matthieu Bonnier. It's good to come across some new faces, while catching up with a few friends who happened to be at the dinner too.

We began our dinner with a sumptuous display of the Grand Seafood Platter served on two levels of ice-laden plates, prepared at the seafood bar just right behind our table. On the plates were seasonal seafood item from all over the world including New England Lobster from Boston, clams and Britanny Tourteaux crabs from France, Atlantic shrimps, Tsubugai (small sea whelks) from Japan, and oysters (which I forgot where they came from - presumably from the southern hemisphere given the time of the year). The platter came with shallot vinegar, cocktail and mayonnaise sauces made in-house as condiments, but I reckon just a dash of lemon juice was all it takes to bring out the best of the delightful, fresh seafood flavors.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

(Vegetarian) Cooking at Home: Strawberries with Mascarpone Cream

I love Mascarpone cheese - it's so versatile. Of course, its mild sweetness made it an obvious choice for desserts, but I occasionally used it for savory dishes with some success too in the past (for example, it's good for some cream-based sauces for meat or pasta - you got a more interesting flavor then just double cream)

For desserts, most people relate the cheese to tiramisu in which whipped mascarpone cheese was mixed with egg whites and layed with liquor and coffee-dipped ladyfingers, but I also love the combination of hulled strawberries and mascarpone - it's creamy with a hint of sweetness for a subtle and classy dessert (not something overly rich or like a sugar bomb)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An American in Burgundy - Domaine Dublere Wine Dinner

We love winemaker dinners. First and foremost, often it represents great value for money with the amount of wines they serve and also for some of the rarer finds from the winemaker's own collection that they sometimes bring along. And second, just like how people enjoyed reading the director's interview about making of a movie, we like hearing stories from the winemakers themselves on the philosophy of their winery, what they do with their grapes and their wines and to feel their passions and pride in the wines they made. That's much better than any critics' reviews or marketing campaigns.

Well we went to one last Saturday at the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse. Interesting enough, it's hosted by Blair Pethel, the owner and winemaker of Domaine Dublere, who as an American from North Carolina and a former journalist, somehow made his way to the great land of Burgundy and became a farmer - as he called himself - and founded Domaine Dublere (a Francophone twist of his first name Blair) about 10 years ago. Turned out Blair was also a fellow Washingtonian - spending a good amount of time in the capital during the Clinton Administration as a political journalist - and we went to the same school (he did his graduate degree and I did my undergraduate's - but at different time). What an interesting coincidence!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cooking at Home: Making of an "Artisan" Dinner

I have been experimenting with some new dishes lately, and we have some of our friends come over one Saturday night to try them out.

We started off with an amuse bouche of white chocolate "truffle" with foie gras filling. We had something similar in a few places before (namely Amber of Hong Kong and more recently, at Yukawatan in Japan's Kuruizawa) so I was curious to see whether this can be replicated at home. Turned out it's more difficult than I thought in terms of archieving an uniform coating of chocolate on the foie gras cube, but at least it did taste decent. Something we can explore further.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

(Vegetarian) Cooking at Home: Pesto Linguine with Asparagus

This is the third part of the vegetarian cooking series that I did for a local magazine a few months ago. One thing I learned during the process is now I know a bit more about what's actually vegetarian and what's not. For example, I always think cheese, which was made of milk, is vegetarian (even though it's non-vegan). But little did I realize most cheeses use animal rennet - an enzyme extracted from cow or sheep stomach and essential for cheese production - that makes them non-vegetarian. Then there were also the issues with eggs, garlic and onions - especially to those who practice vegetarian for religious reasons.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Roast at Four Seasons Hong Kong

What is not to like about Sunday roast? A weekend afternoon to sit down and chill, to wind down with all work-related busyness behind, to meet up with friends and family around the table over freshly roasted meat, veggies, wines (or beers) and more... I was wondering as I sat leisurely at The Lounge of Four Seasons Hong Kong one April Sunday afternoon, at an invitation tasting event hosted by the hotel.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cooking at home: Focaccia

We are obsessed with our new kitchen toy recently - the KitchenAid food processor. I always wanted one but never had the space for it, but finally, we decided, what the heck, let's try to make some room for it, so we did. Since we brought it home we have been using it almost every other day and keep asking why we didn't get this earlier.

One of the best thing I realize this food processor did best is bread making. Even better and convenient than the bread machine, you may ask? Yes, because of the many varieties it can make, plus I love getting my hands on my dough to feel it. I have already tried quite a few batches of bread recently, but focaccia is perhaps one of the easiest. It doesn't get your hands too dirty with messy dough and with the simplest ingredients. Basically focaccia is an Italian flat bread, just in case you wonder - it's very similar to a pizza dough but usually thicker and usually to be eaten without any toppings or cheeses.