Monday, March 28, 2016

Wine and Cheese Night with the Master

Recently I was lucky to score a seat at a wine tasting session featuring Jancis Robinson. Well it's purely coincidental - I don't usually read the email newsletter of this local wine retailer who hosted the event but somehow I saw their promotional leaflet in my inbox, then have my fingers fast enough to register online immediately before it's sold out.

Even for me not being a big wine person, Jancis Robinson need no introduction. A renowned wine critic/reviewer, bestselling book author, newspaper columnist, TV presenter and a master of wine, Ms Robinson also regularly publishes wine ratings which were considered one of the most authoritative in the industry.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Dai Pai Dong Dinner

We ended our late outing to the unfamiliar neighborhood of Sham Shui Po with a dinner in a big group at a street-side cooked food stall, aka Dai Pai Dong, called Tin Cheung nearby.

These days we often use the term Dai Pai Dong (大牌檔), which literally meant "Big License Stall" in Cantonese, in the generic sense, referring to any local, casual restaurant serving cheap, home-style food, but Tin Cheung is one of the few "real" dai pai dongs that remain, one that operates at designated location on the street using the now-obsolete cooked food stall license known as the "big license" (as opposed to the common, "small" license which only permits sale of drinks and ready-made food on premise)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Restaurant Week Menu at Mercedes Me

We finally got our chance to try Mercedes Me, taking advantage of the Restaurant Week special menu on a Monday evening with a group of friends.

Our experience with Restaurant Week in previous years has been by and large positive, and we found this a good opportunity to check out restaurants that we have somehow missed out on before. Guess Mercedes Me fell into that category - we have heard good things about this relatively new casual dining establishment in Central too many times, but we never got around to go previously.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Char Siu and Whisky Challenge

The stage was set at our friend’s house for another weekend afternoon of eating and drinking – with 10 plates filled with Char Siu, or Cantonese barbecue pork, at one table, and 10 different bottles of whisky at another. A few months ago we tried to settle the long-standing question of where to find the best Cantonese roast goose in town by running our own blind tasting session, and this is the sequel as we tried to do the same for char siu, another local favorite.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hottest Buffet in Town

When I got the email from the marketing team at Hotel ICON a few weeks ago inviting us for a tasting at their restaurant, the first thing that came to my mind was the buffet meal at their café. I have heard great things about the place from many of our friends but with the waiting list got as far as a few months long, we never got a chance to get a booking ourselves at this ever-popular restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui East. But this time around, after a few emails exchanged we got ourselves a table on a weekday evening - we count ourselves lucky for that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chef James' New Gig

With the sign "Coming Soon" still displayed prominently on the website, we were surprised that they took up our request for a table at Belon, the newest restaurant in Soho when we called a couple weeks ago. I never have the urge to jump on the bandwagon to check out any latest restaurant in town, but I made an exception for this French bistro with Australian chef James Henry at the helm. A few months ago after a promising meal at Bones, Chef James' previous restaurant in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, just before it was closed for good late summer last year, I wonder what and where his new gig's going to be. Then late last year I heard the news that he's going to open a casual Parisian bistro right in Hong Kong, in collaboration with a local restaurant group.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Juicy Cuisine at Restaurant Akrame

I was at Restaurant Akrame on Ship Street in Wanchai when Chef Akrame Benallal was in town for the week to launch the new seasonal menu at this offshoot of his Paris restaurant.

I love the sense of calmness as I walked into the cozy and contemporary-styled dining room on the side street after crawling through the early evening crowd in the drizzling rain and falling temperature. The sleek, industrial-chic decor with a grayish color scheme with modern paintings on the dark concrete wall with the clear view of the open kitchen at the back, all made the place looks comfortable and extra spacious. I also loved the metallic cutlery and fancy ceramics used to serve the meal, adding to that stylish feel to our dining experience.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Afternoon Tea with Champagne

There's no shortage of promotions for the newest afternoon tea offerings all year long in just around every corner in town from all sorts of places. The latest I had the opportunity to check out was the one at Island Shangri-la for the new silver jubilee afternoon tea menu in collaboration with the champagne house Perrier-Jouet, as part of the hotel's 25th anniversary celebration. I was here about a year ago for a similar occasion and I am glad to be back at this elegant dining room at the back of Restaurant Petrus on top of the hotel, joining a dozen or so people for this special tasting session on a weekend afternoon just before the menu was launched.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Highest Private Kitchen Table

Not long after the Chinese New Year break, I headed up to Ozone on top of The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong one evening to join the others for their media spring dinner. The festive period may be behind us already, but it didn’t stop them from bringing on the lingering celebratory mood with everything decorated in glowing red inside the private room on the side of this fabulous lounge on top of the hotel (dubbed the "highest bar in the world"), and the red dress code requested for everyone who was there that evening.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Ramen Story - Making it at home

I took on the experiment of making ramen from scratch at home not on a mission to create the perfect bowl but to try to see how difficult it was even to make a half-decent version.

I first got this idea when I picked up the book by Ivan Orkin, the chef behind the legendary Ivan Ramen (first in Tokyo, then New York City). In the past I always thought ramen is nothing more than a bowl of broth made with pork bones, slices of charsiu and noodles, but I was fascinated by the complexity of Chef Ivan's recipe of no less than a dozen different ingredients that went in, each requiring separate set of processes to prepare. This is why I decided to try on a simplified version as an one-off project in my own kitchen. I meant to start during the Chinese New Year break but at the end I didn't start until one week after.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

"Open The New Year" Meal

On the last day of our Chinese New Year long weekend, we had another stellar lunch at Caprice. We did something similar at around the same time last year with my brother, sis-in-law and our nephew, taking a recess from the traditional new year festivities with a leisurely lunch at a much slower pace. So we decided to do a repeat this year - this time with just us two.

Nin Chor Saam (年初三), or the third day of Chinese New Year was traditionally known as "Chek Hau" (赤口 which literally meant Red Mouth Day), during which many people often refrained from meeting friends and relatives as the day was thought to be prone to arguments. So it made perfect sense that we saved this day for a little "us" time at our favorite restaurant. And it was a particularly gorgeous day to be sitting by the window at this stunning dining room enjoying our long lunch with the clear skyline view across the harbor.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Canto Dinner with a View

After spending the whole Sunday afternoon at the spa upstairs at InterContinental Hong Kong, I guess it made sense to stay behind for a simple dinner at Yan Toh Heen, their award-winning Chinese restaurant in the basement, to wrap up the weekend. To be honest, it's been a long while since my last visit - if memories served me correctly the last time I was here the restaurant was still under renovation (like more than 2 years ago?) and definitely before they got the second Michelin star.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Spa Day on Valentine's Day

We are likely the last couple on earth that would do anything remotely special for Valentine's Day, but this year we decided to make an exception - just because we felt like it (okay I lied - it's more because I found a special deal online). Of course it helped that the day fell on a Sunday this year hence we could afford a day of rest and relaxation, so we went for a half-day spa treatment at InterContinental Hong Kong.