Thursday, October 09, 2014

Tokyo notes - Buying and tasting whisk(e)y

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu French Oak Single Cask #2357 (photo from Isetan blog)
Just a super quick post to remind myself (and to share with you) to always visit the alcohol section in the basement of Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The main reason, aside from its rather reasonable selection of wines (reasonably priced if you compare them to HK, but then again, HK is ridic), is the whisk(e)y selection and tasting bar. Yes, a bar in a department store.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Woods - A Cook's Cocktails

The Caprese at The Woods
If you follow me on Instagram (I thank you), you'll have noticed I've been at The Woods quite a bit these past few weeks. As my friend J quite aptly put it, "I know that place is like your office now..." (I will admit to having held more than one work-related meeting there, ahem). It soft opened in June by the three Chow sisters, and Victoria*, the youngest, is the one behind the drinks & food.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Legends of Cantonese cuisine - Jiang Taishi and Pearl Kong Chen

Mrs Pearl Kong Chen (third from left) at Kin's Kitchen in April this year.

A while back, I was commissioned to write a short piece on Jiang Taishi 江太史, a legendary figure in the relatively contemporary history of Cantonese cuisine. The piece was drafted and never published, and on this sad day of the passing of Jiang's granddaughter, Mrs. Pearl Kong Chen 江獻珠, a culinary figure in her own right, I was reminded to share what I learned.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Singapore - The Most Incomplete Guide Ever

Hainanese curry rice with pork chops, fried egg, braised pork and veg, in Tiong Bahru
I lied in the title. Not only is this incomplete, it's not even a guide - just a quick itinerary/rundown of what I did, ate, and tips on how to get around, get a SIM card, where I stayed and stuff. This post is probably more for my dementia-prone self than you. Also, I think this is about my 6th visit to Singapore, and I was largely travelling alone, so don't judge me for not eating chilli crab, laksa, chai tow kway etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Upper Modern Bistro - Almost There

Upper Modern Bistro - beauty without the pretence
Let's start with the obvious: the pedigree of the restaurant. The chef is Philippe Orrico, most recently of St George at Hullet House, but his CV notably includes a big chunk working for Pierre Gagnaire. He was initially brought to Hong Kong to open Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental. Another notable addition to the team is Jeremy Evrard, formerly manager of then-three-Michelin-starred Caprice at Four Seasons Hong Kong, and known particularly for his expertise in cheese.

The restaurant world (well in fact, the world itself) seems much more predictable when you see it in terms of evolution à la Darwin. El Bulli spawned a bunch of modernist, Spanish-inflected avant-garde-ists, Noma has led to a clutch of clean-lined, new Nordic, locavore philosophers in kitchens around the world.

Looking at Hong Kong - in the 1990s and early 2000s, we had hotels and groups importing good chefs from around the world - Bombana at the old Ritz, L'Atelier de JR (owned by Lisboa), and the various chefs coming through Gaddi's and Petrus, and to this day, I'd say hotels are still the ones with enough muscle and hiring expertise to bring the right people into Hong Kong.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Eater Hong Kong Heatmap - 11 Hot New Hong Kong Restaurants

Eater Hong Kong Heatmap June 2014
My biannual submission to is out! I included 11 places, but as usual, Hong Kong has seen a ton of new openings in the past six months.

Some that I didn't add were: Sushi To & The Penthouse (Harlan Goldstein's incredible magic trick of opening two restaurants at once), Cocotte (juicy PR scandal alert!), Check-In Taipei, Brew Bros Coffee, N1 Coffee & Co., 18 Grams (new branch in Sheung Wan), % Arabica (new branch in PMQ), Little Burro (new branch in Sheung Wan), Ping Pong 129 (because it's a bar), Holytan, China Tang (too fancy for its own good), The Envoy (opened just after my deadline), Corner Kitchen Cafe (reopening), Lokali, Mama San, Unar Coffee (TST Star Ferry branch), Mavericks (Pui O), The Woods (bar, just opened),  Nocturne (bar), Zen Too, Madam S'Ate, Naked...

There's lots coming soon this summer too:
Ho Lee Fook, Stack, Jamie's Italian, Vasco, Isono, Bread Street Kitchen... Keep an eye on the fabulous coming soon page on HK Tatler Dining.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mott 32 - Not Just a Pretty Face

"Pata negra" pork, dried chilli, peanut
Maximal Concepts has been on a bit of a roll. In the past few months, they've opened Fish & Meat, Stockton and Mott 32 - the latter is the group's first foray into Chinese food. Situated deep down in the basement of the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central, I was hoping the location's previous incarnation would have been something super sexy like a bank vault, alas, it just used to be another (less interesting) Chinese restaurant. The decor is pretty sexy though - 50s industrial meets old Shanghai, with a bit of prohibition moodiness, realised by Joyce Wang. It makes for a great cocktail bar in addition to being a serious restaurant.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Giando - Convention Eats

Linguini with shrimp and crabmeat
Looking for good eats around the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) is a bit like trying to find a good soy sauce in Chinatown. There's lots of soy sauce, just none of them are really worth their salt (literally).

The Centre itself is a bit of a lost cause when it comes to food (if I had to choose, I would go to the cafe in the lobby - at least they have semi-decent sandwiches and drinkable (albeit very milky) coffee - but if you're looking for a proper meal, and the Grand Hyatt is too, well, grand, then you're stuck for choices.

About 3-5 minutes walk from the Grand Hyatt, through the garden and overpass, you'll come to Fenwick Pier and the Fleet Arcade (where I keep hearing you can buy cheap magazines from the US ships that come in, but I've never verified that claim). Inside, where Vero used to be, is Giando, an Italian restaurant opened by ex-Gaia Group exec chef, Gianni Caprioli.