Tuesday, May 17, 2022

New Spot and New Word

Chef Sai To and the Mira Dining team have such a unique concept in transforming this new spot in IFC that they invented a new word, “Chinesology”, to be the new name for the restaurant, taking up what used to be The French Window. While contemporary Chinese cuisine was obviously not something revolutionary, I was curious what this new dining venue would bring when I was invited to a dinner tasting late last month. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

First Night Out

"So, where are you going for dinner on April 21?" became a common question to ask as we were finally allowed back into restaurants for dinner after a long 3-month ban. For us, the choice was Torisho, the yakitori specialist in Central which opened its door about a year ago but we have never been. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Urban Escape

Admittedly, without spa or gym or swimming pool or dine-in dinner service (that was back when those COVID restrictions were still in place), the idea of staycation lost quite a bit of charm. That said it didn't stop us from planning a stay at Marco Polo Gateway for one night during the Easter long weekend, courtesy of the newly launched GHA Discovery loyalty program. Turned out it was a blessing in disguise and a much needed getaway from all the life madness. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Laidback Lunch on Level 101

It certainly was a beautiful day to be up and about eating at 101 levels above the ground at Radical Chic – with the kind of early summer weather reminding me of Bossa Nova tunes for some reasons. I missed the gorgeous sunset at my last dinner here a few months ago but I was more than compensated with the gorgeous day time view this time at the table overseeing the Hong Kong Island skyline at the back and West Kowloon in front. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Twice at Mono


It was a pure coincidence that I ended up eating at Mono twice in the same week in late March/early April. First it was on a Tuesday when Chef Ricardo invited me over when the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant awards were announced over live stream video. There’s plenty to celebrate about that afternoon of course as they found themselves being ranked 32 in the continent this year. Kudos to the team and I was glad they let us share the joy with wonderful food, champagne, company and all. (Both the Arepa with Caviar and Pabellon Criollo were out of this world!)

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Solid Choice

It felt like not that long ago when we first saw the hoarding in front of what has become the new location for Sushi Wadatsumi. Turned out that's almost one year ago since their old shop in Sheung Wan closed and relocated to K11 Musea across the harbor. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Casual Degustazione

Remarkably, we saw a few new restaurant openings despite all the restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Testina was one of them, a modern trattoria-style restaurant at the corner of Lyndhurst Terrace with collaboration with the team from the popular Trippa in Milan and chef Marco Xodo hailed from Bombana Shanghai. 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Return to Roots

We were happy when we heard Chef Stephanie’s restaurant Roots was reopening in late March after a short hiatus, and we decided to pay her a visit on the first week of service resumption. Of course, a short break away from the kitchen is always good to refresh one’s mind but we are also conscious about this COVID crisis has been hitting everyone hard, especially those small businesses in town. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Sushi Hisayoshi

We went for sushi once again a few weekends ago at a new restaurant in TST. Saw my friend’s IG story about this place earlier and learned that this is the outpost for Tokyo’s Ginza Iwa in their second attempt to open a branch in this part of the world. This sushi-ya took up the space formerly occupied by a high-end ramen joint at the quieter section of Harbour City. The décor was classic with the pale wooden tones with a spacious U-shaped counter which can seat 15+ comfortably and another counter/private room at the back if they were able to operate in full capacity.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Weekday Lunch

When we saw a lunch spot open up at Ando in the middle of last month (probably due to some last minute cancellations), we didn’t hesitate to fetch it and call this a mini accomplishment of sorts. While dine-in for evenings is still out of the question, Ando is by all means still very popular during the day – the dining room was filled to the capacity when we arrived slightly after noon for our lunch reservation. Quite a contrast to the quiet streets even in the middle of Central business district in the middle of a weekday. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Cooking with Oranges (Part 2): Citrus Pasta

For the past few days I have been cooking with products from Trepunti, an online shop owned by a Sicillian farmer. I shared my recipe for a dish prepared using Sicilian blood oranges and fennels, which were hardly an innovative combination. Neither does this one actually though I did make a slight change. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Cooking with Oranges (Part 1): Baked Fish with Orange-Fennel Salad

Recently, a friend of mine referred me to Jennifer of Trepunti Sicily, a Hongkonger who ran a farm on the ground and also an import/export business bringing many of the Sicilian produces and food products to this part of the world. I learned a great deal more about the regional ingredients and cooking just by a quick chat and message exchanges with her, and she even arranged to have a goodie box available for me to pick up with some of the seasonal produce including many of the citrus fruits. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Taste of Springtime

I found myself eating more and more at Japanese restaurants lately – maybe that’s subconsciously my way of getting through the pain of feeling stuck in town for over 2 years already. One of the most recent ones I tried was Nagamoto, a Kappo-style restaurant in Central headed by Chef Teruhiko Nagamoto. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Three in Three

It certainly felt like déjà vu when a few of us had lunch “together” at The Chairman across multiple tables – we did this last year because of COVID lockdown, and this time again. And credits to the restaurant for being accommodative and flexible despite the circumstances. And surprisingly, it’s our third visit to the restaurant in as many months - we were just extremely lucky getting a table to eat.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Quick And Easy

Sushi Shion does have that feel of those sushi-ya in Ginza, situated inside a random commercial building on Wellington Street with the door right by the lift lobby. Craving for a proper sushi meal brought me here and I was lucky to get a booking for solo lunch at the counter one weekday.  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Grand Majestic

I don’t really buy the PR rhetoric that the décor of Grand Majestic Sichuan took inspiration from an old “ritzy supper club” in the 60’s, but the setting did remind me a little of those “grand” Chinese restaurants/banquet halls common in Hong Kong in the old days with the same festive red color tone and touches of gold for the flamboyant feel. There’s always an appetite for high-end Chinese restaurant in the middle of the business district so the restaurant, centrally located inside The Landmark’s Alexandria House building, is a welcoming addition despite we are still in the middle of the pandemic lockdown. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Casual Bistro Brunch

We were determined not to make this little freezing rain ruined our weekend lunch plan, a rare occasion that we were able to be out and about eating at a proper restaurant. It’s been a long while since we were last at Louise – in fact if I remember correctly that’s only our second time and I felt like it’s a century ago.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Keeping the Tradition

We managed to keep our “tradition” of eating at Caprice during this past Lunar New Year long weekend. We have been eating out much less these days so this did feel like an even more special occasion.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Mora

Opening a new restaurant in Hong Kong during this challenging time required certain level of confidence, something Chef Vicky Lau has no lack of, first with her Michelin-starred, over a decade old Tate Dining Room and now Mora, her first venture with focus on Chinese x French cooking. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

3pm Dinner

Upon learning the new dine-in ban announced by the government in early January, the first phone call I made was to The Chairman to make sure my dinner booking can be switched to late afternoon to stay within the rule. With a booking at this ever popular restaurant became one of the most sought after commodity in town (despite the COVID downturn), we intend to do anything we could to keep the original plan, even though it meant having dinner at 3pm, and being seated in separate tables for our group of 8. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

One off the List (in a good way)

Less than a week after the announcement of the new Michelin Guide, in which a few new restaurants were awarded their stars for the first time, I was happy to scratch one off the list of “starred restaurant in Hong Kong that I haven’t been to”. With that I was referring to Yong Fu 甬府, which many have said serves some of the best “Jiang-zhe” dishes in town. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Holiday Sushi

We had more proper sushi meal in town than ever before since the pandemic, for obvious reasons. The latest one came a month ago at Sushi Tokami at Harbour City. When we saw an empty spot available during the Lunar New Year long holiday, we took it and so here we are, going for an omakase meal at 2pm on Nin Chor Yee (or the second day of the new year). 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Legacy House

With the elegantly designed private room and the gorgeous harbor view from the window at the far end of the room, The Legacy House certainly made a great first impression to me as I went out to eat there just before the Lunar New Year festivities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Cantonese Delights

I ate at Yue at Times Square a couple of months ago – the group under which the restaurant is operating is progressively expanding in 2021 in all fronts and Yue is one of their latest venture and first focusing on Cantonese cuisine (the name Yue, which literally means Delight, has the same pronunciation as Canton). 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

One Of A Kind

You know the meal was a special one before it started when the commute involved a private boat that carried our group to where the lunch eventually took place. The 15-minute boat ride did feel longer than it was, almost like being transposed to a totally different country with the Santorini-like vibe surrounding this private beachside villa completed with a private pier. 

Chef S and her small team were already making the final preparation as we walked in and began admiring everything from the well-equipped open kitchen on one side of the house, to the outdoor sculpture at the entrance, to basically every corner that were well-suited for the cover story of home decor magazines or IG snapshots. It's the kind of place most would dream of having, or even just to spend a day or two chilling and cooking in the kitchen with the gorgeous sea view. ("No pictures allowed on social media," I was told before we set foot in the place, and I intend to respect this rule by the host to the dot - so, sorry!)

The lawyer-turned-chef S made this family home of hers into a culinary atelier of sorts, flexing her muscles with a creative menu making use of local and imported ingredients and prepared in contemporary style. Spots at one of her tables are hard to come by and available strictly by referrals, true to the place's namesake being OOAK, the acronym for "One Of A Kind". 

What she served at lunch was described as the simpler version, with 4 courses plus amuse-bouche and petit fours. The elaborate "platter" appeared soon as we settled down at the table right in front of the open kitchen, with a quartet of canapes served with the theme of "Four Senses" - Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Spicy - which we enjoyed in the same order. 

We began with the tiny crispy "sandwich" of sweet corn puree garnished with baby shiso, followed by the dragonfruit gazpacho served in a shot glass with much tanginess and a hint of grassy taste from the sweet peppers. The bitterness from the third canape came from the Okinawan bitter gourd served on a rice crisp and topped with salted egg yolk for the flavor balance. The spicy one was my favorite - inspired by the classic dim sum "wu kok" (芋角) with taro mixed with chilies, tossed in a fluffy batter and deep-fried. You got this nice contrast of creamy and crispy texture with a spicy kick. 

Our first proper course was described as "Local Razor Clam". While not literally caught in local waters, they are purveyed at local fish market live and blanched a la minute at the kitchen before serving with scores of other ingredients mixed in. The touch of honeydew melon and sichuan pepper oil was interesting, giving each bite a nice contrast of umami, sweet and spicy tastes, and the presentation was impressive too, especially with such a small team they have. 

We continued with the theme of seafood, this time with Venus Clams (or Fa Gaap 花甲 in Cantonese), which are surely local and came into prime season at this time of year.  The clams came in decent size and got great umami flavor, and served with homemade tofu, Chinese celery puree and topped with a deep-fried shiso leaf. The tofu got nice firm texture but I thought it could do with slightly more flavor, or rather, use yuba (tofu skin) instead of the whole bloc of tofu to introduce the clean soy taste to accompany the nice sweet clams. Ume, or Japanese plum, was said to be used in the dish but to me it was hardly noticeable. And I did regret turning down the option of adding caviar on top - that rich umami flavor would have completed the dish nicely. 

Our main course was turbot. In the center of the dish was a piece of fish fillet, grilled and topped with "ratatouille" with a twist. The ingredients of the traditional vegetable stew were cut into fine brunoise and slow-cooked in oil along with crumbled soybeans, similar to the classic Sichuan "Dau So Yue" 豆酥魚. On the side was fermented endive rolled with cucumber jelly for the hint of acidity, plus the creamiest parsnip puree and the bouncy gnocchi for the textures (and colors with the gnocchi dough infused with spinach and beetroot). That was my favorite dish of the afternoon both in terms of taste and originality. 

The last course was souffle with blackberry ice-cream served on the side. The souffle was prepared gluten-free with rice flour used and that lightened up the texture somewhat. I also liked the white sesame and macadamia added in for the mild nutty flavor. Ending the meal was another fancy display of bite-sized sweets, including the warm madeleines baked with Da Hong Pao tea, the much-celebrated black tea from Fujian known for the hint of orchid aroma. 

Not knowing the menu in advance, I brought two bottles blind to match. Couldn't go wrong with the champagne to start, showing plenty of youthfulness with sweet lemon and apples and plenty of minerals. I thought the burgundy red was a safe choice - while not perfectly matched but it did work decently well with our main course with the rich "ratatouille" toppings. Medium bodied, good intensity for a village wine, violet bouquet, mildly fruity with some black fruit characters and plum on the palate. 

The meal and place certainly lived up to the hype of being OOAK, and for the unique dining experience (plus the feeling of travelling somewhere without setting foot out of Hong Kong), it was quite something. 

When? January 15 2022
Where? OOAK, somewhere in Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? The Sea - Turbot, "Ratatouille", Fermented Endive, Cucumber, Parsnip, Gnocchi
Drinks?
Champagne Vouette et Sorbee Cuvee Fidele Brut Nature NV (Disgorged 2018)
2017 Domaine de la Vougeraie Chambolle-Musigny


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Gin-Cantonese Pairing

I got to give them credits for being creative – a Chinese degustation dinner where gin is the theme. With dining restrictions still looming because of COVID, one has to think of new ways to lure customers back to the dining table and in this case, I sure was curious enough to give it a shot at Conrad Hong Kong when Chef Wan of Golden Leaf collaborated with the local gin distillery Two Moons for some dishes prepared using their products. 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Out of The Way

I was late for my dinner at this small neighborhood trattoria the other night – very unusual of me but it was a bit out of the way, tugged at the corner of a cul-de-sac in Happy Valley (and I was stuck with a last-minute chore – that’s the real reason). Anyway, I have heard great things about Locanda dell’Angelo owned by Chef Angelo who since then had a second namesake restaurant across the harbor (Tosca di Angelo at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong), but I was put off for coming for a visit since it opened its door a few years back. Because again, a bit out of the way. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

End of Year

I just love the lingering aroma from the fresh Christmas tree sitting at the corner as I was led into the private dining room at VEA one evening. The festive celebration might have been over (with the dinner happening in the last week of December) but we never needed an excuse to get together and eat (and drink) something nice, and make this a special occasion by itself. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Winter Solstice Omakase

Our "Mo Duck Shue" dinner series brought us to yet another omakase meal, this time at Masa, on the week right before Christmas (on the night we traditionally celebrate Winter Solstice). This is also our first visit to this "impossible-to-book" sushi-ya since it's relocated to the current Central location in early 2021. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Chef's Table at Sea

During the 3 nights aboard Spectrum of the Seas during the cruise trip “to nowhere”, we did manage to check out a few restaurants inside the ship. And the most impressive of all was the evening spent at “Chef’s Table”, which is offered as one of their “premium dining option” (which meant we need to pay extra to eat there).

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Our Sea-cation Experience

I am never a huge fan of cruise trips and probably never will be (maybe I will change my mind after retirement) but with "cruise to nowhere" being the only option to "travel" without the fuss of quarantine and restrictions, we took the plunge and went on a 3-night journey on Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas in mid-December. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Day at the Geopark

Being stuck in town because of COVID for 2 whole years already, I guess the only silver lining was the opportunity or excuse to explore more of Hong Kong, and that's what we did when we signed up to a day tour to the "world famous" UNESCO Global Geopark one weekend in November. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Plan B Staycation

An unwilling change of plan got me scrambling for Plan B on a weekend of celebration. We have done our fair bits of staycation around local hotels but that didn't mean we couldn't do one more - and this time it's at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Ando x Fukuoka

A lucky few us were given a sneak peak of Chef Agustin's special collaboration menu with Fukuoka Prefecture government. The area on the northern shore of Kyushu Japan has no lack of fine food ingredients and many of those made it to our table with this limited-time tasting menu. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

New Chef and a Makeover

Year 2021 saw a few exciting restaurant openings and a few having a makeover - whether that be renovation/relocation or change in culinary direction. For Ho Lee Fook, it's a little of both, with the restaurant saw the departure of Chef Jowett in the summer (who was there since Day One) PLUS the month-long renovation at its original spot. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Fine Dining Korean

Our recent dinner at Hansik Goo came a few months after they moved to their new location in Sheung Wan, and around a month after we ate with their chef Steve at a hole-in-a-wall place somewhere else with our common friends. The makeover was evident at the new spot with a larger dining space, higher ceiling with the same traits of minimalist, homestyle decor.