Thursday, December 29, 2016

Pop-up Weekend Part 2 - Eat Ethio

I am glad we finally got a chance to eat at my friend Helina’s supper club, Eat Ethio, when V rounded up 10 of us for the table on one Saturday evening in early December. Normally run only once a month, during December she, along with her husband Scott, decided to switch things up on high gear and stayed open for 2 weeks straight, just in time for the Christmas season.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pop-up Weekend Part 1: Sook x Fly by Jing

I began the "weekend of speakeasy" with a short hop to my friend Mina's kitchen studio in Chaiwan for a one-night only "Sichuan Seoul Food" dinner, a collaboration between her and Jenny from Shanghai.

I had the chance to enjoy Mina's fabulous cooking a few times at one of her pop-up dinner events in the past year - even got my hands-on experience at her kitchen studio Sook when she hosted a kimchi making class a few months ago. And I have been following the writer-turned-chef Jenny's culinary business ventures in social media, from the starting of her online site Jing Theory to the founding of Baoism restaurant in China, and now with her second dining concept of Fly by Jing, inspired by the cooking of her hometown Chengdu in Sichuan Province.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Fifty Shades of Spices - Feng Wei Ju

We went for an early dinner in Macau before taking the evening ferry home to conclude our whirlwind weekend getaway. I have heard good words on Feng Wei Ju, the Sichuan restaurant at Starworld Hotel from our friends, plus they were one of those places that opened early for dinner service, so we decided to check it out.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dessert Masterclass

We have been nudging Chef Nicolas of Caprice to teach us how to make some of his amazing desserts, and we were super excited that he spared one Saturday morning last month doing just that at his kitchen for a few of us. Though the lunch service wouldn’t start until a few hours away, the kitchen at Caprice was already getting busy, with much of the preparation well underway.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Last of Pottinger, Perhaps

We were a bit sad when we heard about the pending "closure" of the "Pottinger private kitchen", a place we had the opportunity to visit a few times over the past years, and came out every time being wow-ed by the classic Cantonese cooking at this cozy venue. And we were glad that our friends RC and P managed to round us up and played host to a big-table dinner at this place one evening in December for yet another feast - who knows, this could end up be our last meal here.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Saturday Yumcha: Lai Heen

With us staying right next door under the same roof (at the JW Marriott), it made sense that we went to check out Lai Heen, the Chinese restaurant at Ritz-Carlton, which was just awarded the first Michelin star recently. We even dragged along our friend E, who relocated to Macau a couple months ago for her new job, to join us after going on a quick morning food crawl together in Coloane.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Meeting Curtis in Macau

We joined the troupe of friends in becoming huge fans of Chef Curtis Duffy ever since we watched the documentary film about him and his Chicago restaurant, Grace, which shot to worldwide fame since opening in 2012. We can't help but felt touched by his life story and fascinated by his cooking, now considered one of the best of our times.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sunday Yumcha: Zi Yat Heen

Sunday afternoon we made our way to Four Seasons Macao for lunch at their Chinese restaurant Zi Yat Heen. We have been here once many many years ago when we stayed at the hotel over Chinese New Year holidays and we were curious to try the place again, this time courtesy of their PR team who made the arrangement.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Unusual Thanksgiving Dinner

We celebrated this year’s Thanksgiving at an unusual venue of a Japanese-style Izakaya. I have been to Okra in Sai Ying Pun headed by New Orleans chef Max when it first opened earlier this year and loved some of the dishes there, and over Thanksgiving they were doing a special menu for “Friends and Families” to celebrate “Thank Immigrants Day”, as he called it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Back to the Familiar Ground - Caprice in the Winter

I caught a breather of freedom tried to overcome the misery of losing CYY to the great land of Tokyo temporarily for the weekend with a trip to Caprice's dining room with friends S and J. I had a great time at a brand-new restaurant the night before, but was just as happy to be back at the familiar ground, excited for the dishes that was to come.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

One Star Wonton

It's been a long long while since I last visited Ho Hung Kee, definitely not after they moved out from their old shop on the street level into a large shopping mall a couple blocks away.

We weren't all that surprised when we arrived at the restaurant during lunch hour on Saturday we saw quite a crowd waiting outside for a table, with a majority being out-of-towners. In retrospect we should have come earlier or use the new system to let us pick up a ticket ahead of time through an iPhone app. Anyway, turned out it's only a quick 15, 20 minute wait before we were seated at one of the booths on the side of the restaurant. The interior and set up was a clear upgrade from their old shop, with more modern décor, more space, bigger capacity and more comfortable chairs with kitchen now hidden at the back instead of near to the shop-front, yet it's still on the casual side like a typical local chachaanteng.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Butcher in Residence

We dropped by On Dining one Friday evening when Parisian butcher Hugo Desnoyer was in town to present a few special dishes at the restaurant, using the meat produced by his shop, of course. I managed to get out of office fairly early, so 30 minutes before our reservation time, I was already there, having a pre-dinner drink at the bar upstairs to catch a breather from a hectic work week. Soon I was joined by other friends as we moved to our table downstairs.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Second Day of Business - Frantzén's Kitchen

We have never been to his restaurants nor tried his cooking before, while our friend V has been there three times including once when he’s doing a pop-up at Landmark Mandarin a few years ago, but all of us were excited to be sitting inside Chef Bjorn Frantzen’s new restaurant in Hong Kong on its second day of business, eager to try out his dishes at what many dubbed as the restaurant opening of the year in town.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Weekend Pottery Bazaar

For all ceramics lovers, the weekend creative bazaar organized by The Pottery Workshop (樂天陶社) Jingdezhen should be on their must-do list if they happened to be in town. The organization Pottery Workshop is relatively well-known in Hong Kong, having set up their old workshop facilities at The Fringe Club in Central in 1980s before moving to their new site on Hollywood Road just last year.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Taoxichuan Art Park

Looking at the picture of the Taoxichuan (陶溪川) complex, the latest development project in central Jingdezhen (景德鎮), one might have mistaken it to be some gentrified art and culture space sprouted in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei or even Hong Kong to a lesser extent.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Before we said "Au Revoir"

A group of friends love Serge et Le Phoque in Wanchai a lot so we came over for dinner again one Sunday evening to say goodbye, as the team planned to close the restaurant to move to London next year.

Despite the somewhat eccentric location in the midst of a local market, with fishmonger and butchers' stall lining alongside the narrow street leading to the restaurant, the place has always been popular since its opening a few years ago, leading the way to a few other restaurant openings in this neighborhood. It was packed as usual on the day of our visit, showing no sign of slowing down despite the pending closure in slightly less than 2 months.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Stranded in the Ceramics Valley

We were hopelessly stranded in a small ceramics shop/café in the Sanbao Valley art village when the rain which started slightly after lunch turned into a full-fledged storm. Luckily, a vacant taxi came to rescue after some point, we jumped right in and headed straight to Sanbao Ceramics Art Institute, a few kilometers down along the meandering road deep into the woods in the Sanbao Valley, for some much needed refuge.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Week in Jingdezhen

I took on an unusual trip to the town of Jingdezhen (景德鎮) late last month, as part of the “study tour” in ceramics making. Well I have been taking pottery classes for a few months already, and the studio I learned from organizes such tour regularly. And the timing was just perfect this time when the tour schedule fell right during the two weeks I was on leave in between work assignments, so I jumped on the chance to travel to an unfamiliar place to do something different.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Picking up a new hobby

“What I like best is the challenge of learning something I didn't know how to do, going beyond my comfort level.” - Ruth Reichl.

Recently I picked up a new hobby of ceramics making. I am always fascinated at the intrinsic relationship between crockery and culinary arts, a concept especially running deep in Asian culture, made famous by the likes of Kitaoji Rosanjin, a influential Japanese foodie/chef/artist.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Crabby Feast

The crab feast at Shanghai Fraternity Association has become some sort of ritual for us during the hairy crab season, courtesy of our friend A and C who asked us to join them and their other friends every year. We always made the best effort to make sure we could join, clearing up our schedule, pushing back any travel plan if needed – well, you got the idea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tosca x Cracco

I couldn't believe twice I walked by Chef Carlo Cracco's namesake restaurant in Milan in my previous trips and twice I didn't manage to walk in and pay a visit. After all Cracco is considered one of the top restaurants in town by the Michelin Guide (which gave it 2 stars) and Chef Cracco was highly-regarded for his avant-garde style, offering a twist using traditional ingredients with some of his innovative cooking techniques, not to mention his numerous cookbooks, TV appearances etc making him one of the best known Italian chefs.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Exquisite Tasting Court

Everyone was a bit concerned with the amount of dishes we were having after seeing the long menu for our dinner at Tasting Court, a private kitchen located in the quiet residential neighborhood of Happy Valley. But we went ahead as originally planned after our foodie friend C and J sorted out the menu and rounded up 12 of us altogether to share the table, for a total of 15 courses.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steak and Pommes Weekend Brunch

It seems like ages ago being away for a week but we had a great casual brunch at Atelier Vivanda, a French bistro by Chef Akrame Benallal in Wanchai, just before I left. Located on Ship Street just a few shops down from Chef Akrame’s other restaurant, Atelier Vivanda is a lot more easy-going in style, with an open dining area with wooden tables and chairs, and a bar/open kitchen on one side.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ding Wang Ma La Guo

It so happened that our friends D and Y were in Taipei at around the same time as we did, so we decided to meet up over spicy hotpot with some of their friends. After all, as far as hotpot goes, it’s always the case of the more people the merrier.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Casual Celebration

This year I celebrated birthday in a more casual style at MUME in Taipei. The restaurant has become quite a talk of the town since its opening 2 years ago, with the team of chefs all with impressive resumes from kitchens around the world, serving Nordic style dishes with interesting combination of ingredients and creative cooking style.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Three-star Sushi Popup

I got into a major sushi crave after my sushi lunch at in Taipei just a couple of days ago – that meal was decent but I felt like something was missing – so you could imagine me jumping up and down getting all excited when I received an email from the PR team at Landmark Mandarin Oriental asking whether I was free to join some of their media friends for lunch at the Sushi Gyoten pop-up happening at their hotel. "Hell yeah of course", I replied almost immediately (of course I did it in a slightly more dignified manner), and that's before I frantically pushed aside everything on my original schedule – I did have a busy guytai life you know, even the lunch fell on my two weeks of work break.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Taipei Sushi Lunch

We are always on the lookout for decent sushi-ya in Taipei and this time, we checked out Shunsai, considered one of the higher end ones with two branches in Taipei. We went to their newer Xinyi branch located in Da’an District, about 10 minutes away on foot from our hotel and reservation was made easy via WeChat about a couple of weeks ago, soon after we finalized our itinerary. Certainly saved us the trouble of making that long-distance phone call.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Recipe: Rustic Cake for the Cooler Season

I made this dessert when my friends from New York T and L came over for dinner one evening in October. As the season of fall finally arrived I wanted to do something that fell in the mood of this cooler season. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Speedy Fine-Dining Lunch

As I was quickly winding down my current gig, I let myself a bit loose and went off for lunch at Seasons a couple MTR stops away. It was only my first time coming here during the day and I immediately noticed the big difference in the clientele and atmosphere – during day-time the place certainly felt more like a power lunch spot rather than as a restaurant for an intimate night out sort of a venue.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Farewell our "Cafeteria"

Last Saturday we said goodbye to Butterfield’s, the private social club at Taikoo Place owned by its landlord Swire, which we have been going since we moved into the neighborhood. Over the years we came here often enough that it’s almost like the "cafeteria" for us, whether for meeting up with friends over something more proper or just for a casual home-style bites, so we were a bit sad when we got the news that it's closing down to make way for a different, soon-to-be-revealed concept as part of Swire's remodel plan of this office complex.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Caprice in the Autumn

Our plan for dinner at Caprice got pushed back a few times for various reasons but we finally made it in early October, just as we started feeling the end of the unbearably hot season is near. Over the last few months we were at the Caprice Bar more often savoring their wine and cheese selection, to wind down what has been a somewhat stressful time at work for both of us, but I thought a proper meal was in order at the formal dining room next door to check out some of Chef Fabrice’s new dishes for the season.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Meat Craving Satisfied at Beefbar

Sometimes restaurant names can be deceptive, but not so much with beefbar, except the fact that it's not exactly a bar but a proper modern steakhouse on Ice House Street in Central specializes in, of course, beef. I am not a steakhouse person, often preferred to enjoy the big slab of meat at the comfort of my own home in pajamas and slippers rather than having to suit up for a formal meal outside. But I was curious to check out this place after hearing all the positive reviews since opening late last year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Re-invented Blue

What previously known as the Blue Butcher has evolved and became just Blue with the byline "Butcher and Meat Specialist", and I was there last weekend to check out their new weekend brunch menu. Other than the name change, there were some other noticeable modifications of the restaurant located on Hollywood Road, including a new, more refined industrial-chic décor, minor adjustments to the menu, and a new butchery room downstairs. And not so noticeable were their moving away from the use of plastic including straws and takeaway containers, and their effort to ensure all food served was of sustainable species.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pop-Up in the Sky

With the iconic red pillar post-box at the front reception and sea of Union Jacks draped along the narrow corridor leading to the bar and dining area, the team in Ozone at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong spared no effort in making people feel like they were transposed to London's Duck and Waffle restaurant when we came over for an event featuring the "highest restaurant in London" (Duck and Waffle) at the "highest bar in the world" (Ozone) up on Level 118.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Black and White

I returned to Restaurant Akrame for the second time this month and this time, for the special menu presented by their owner-chef Akrame Benallal and Philippe Orrico from On Dining/Upper Modern Bistro. It’s an interesting collaboration, combining the creative minds of the culinary teams from the two wonderful independent restaurants in town, which have steadily built up their reputation (and recognition from near and far)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Vegetarian for a Night

My friend D was perhaps one of the most authoritative voices in the vegetarianism movement in town, and knowing he's a regular at Seventh Son Restaurant, I suggested we went there for a meatless dinner when we tried to fix up a time and place to catch up. It's my first time coming to the restaurant at its current location since they moved a few blocks down in Wanchai a few months ago, now housed inside a business hotel in the midst of the bar district. Despite the "colorful" neighborhood, I actually prefer this new location with a more spacious setting and modernized décor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Members-only Home-style Cantonese

You are unlikely going to see HKUAA Restaurant being listed as one of the best restaurants in town, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn't. In fact, I have always put them as one of those restaurants that are well-worth a detour despite not having a star, and from my few previous visits, the place never disappoints with solid and consistent execution of tried and true classic Cantonese dishes.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

At a Hokkien Private Kitchen

When the maitre d’ knew exactly whom our table was booked under and showed me to the room upstairs without me saying a word, it’s almost like they were already expecting us as we walked in to this “random” restaurant in North Point, a private kitchen of sort specializing in Hokkien/Fujian cuisine. Later we came to realize that this restaurant only had 3 tables in private room setting and we were the only group of customers for the evening – that explained why.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sunday Brunch at Akrame

We had the opportunity to check out the new Sunday brunch menu at the Michelin-starred restaurant Akrame in Wanchai a few weekends ago. I was here a few months ago when Chef Akrame Benallal flew in from Paris to launch the then-seasonal tasting menu, and this time, it’s his protégé Chef Lise at the helm, delivering a delightful 5-course menu on a hot, but nice Sunday afternoon.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Family Dinner Up High

Tin Lung Heen is the first place that came to mind when we went for a weeknight family dinner. It was more than one year since I was last here, for one of their special tasting menus at the private room, and I always wanted to come back to check out their a la carte menu. Plus it's conveniently located midway between our homes, so logistics-wise it worked out just fine for everyone.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Portuguese Wines and Cantonese Cuisine

We were perhaps the only table in the room who cared much more about the dishes to be served rather than the wines that were being poured and passed around at a recent dinner event at Kin’s Kitchen in Wanchai. We always wanted to go back to the restaurant for their old-school Cantonese dishes, and the dinner, with the theme of "Piggy Feast" featuring wines from a Portuguese vineyard held in late August, provided us the perfect excuse to eat together.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bar within a Bar - Evening Drink at High Five Pop-up

Last Saturday a bunch of us made a booking to drink at the pop-up bar of the Tokyo-based Bar High Five, who is taking up temporary residence at MO Bar at Landmark Mandarin Oriental for 2 months (til end of October). You got to admit there's a certain charm about a classic Japanese bar – polished interior, excellent selection of liquors, well-dressed bartender, hand-carved ice, impeccably professional techniques and focus – okay at least that was my impression based on my embarrassingly limited knowledge on this subject.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Taste of Niigata

You know the end of summer is near when you saw sanma (Pacific saury) showing up on the seasonal menu of Japanese restaurants around town. While the fish - with its Japanese name meaning "autumn sword" - is still far away from its prime season in around October/November, we figured we should give it a try as we dropped by Ebi no Hige, a small restaurant in Causeway Bay specialized in the cuisine from the agriculture and seafood-rich Niigata (新潟) prefecture.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Classic Teppanyaki

A few Fridays ago I was having dinner at Hana Sakazuki, one of the old-school teppanyaki restauarants in Hong Kong. One might argue teppanyaki was not exactly the most "authentic" Japanese cuisine per se, but back in the old days, they are often the more popular ones, even more so than sushi or tempura or ramen which have taken all the limelight in recent times.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Night at a Beer Brewery

I rushed off from office on a Friday evening to catch a bus to the industrial district of Fo Tan up north for a guided tour of the new Hitachino Nest Brewery facility. Over the past few years, the growing trend of boutique craft beers have finally reached Hong Kong. It’s now much common for bars and restaurants to offer a wide selection of beers from around the world with some high quality but lesser known brands, and a handful of local breweries set up here in the city. Some friends even started to brew at home, keeping a container or two  inside their cupboard or wardrobe.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Chef Couple Takes Over: Bo.lan in Hong Kong

I almost lost track of how many "pop-up dinners" I have attended this summer, with so many visiting chefs making whistle stops in town offering one-off menu at various locations from restaurants to bars to specialty kitchen studios.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cooking Experiment #4: Roca Brothers and My Sweet Imitation

Taking the week off from work meant I could go to events that I normally couldn't go. A couple weeks ago chefs Joan and Jordi Roca from El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain were in town for a private dinner event and on one of the afternoons, they delivered a cooking masterclass to a small audience. It's been such a privilege to be invited to join.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Meet Samsen, Adam's New Noodle Place

We were at Chef Adam's last day at Chachawan late last year so I thought it's just appropriate (with a sense of completing a mission) that we came to his new place on their first day of their official opening, some 8 months later since he took off with new plans of flying solo with his own restaurant.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Harlan Version 5.0

Since the beginning of summer, it's hard to miss the giant hoarding on Lyndhurst Terrace with the larger-than-life face of Chef Harlan showing prominently outside the street level storefront. With a slew of press material beginning to fly into my email inbox a couple of weeks ago, now we knew he has re-established the latest iteration of his restaurant concepts on this site with a few openings in a rather short span, all in drastically different themes located on different levels of the building.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dinner with a crowd

My friends and we were at Rhoda one Wednesday evening as the occasion to catch up and also to try out the dishes at this 2-month-old restaurant located on the main street in Sai Ying Pun and a short walk from the HKU MTR Station. This hip restaurant is the newest project by Yenn Wong, who seems to hold true to her current title of "Best Restauranteur of the Year" with a string of new restaurant openings under her belt in the last 12 months. Behind the kitchen is Chef Nate Green, formerly of 22 Ships and Ham and Sherry.