Wednesday, October 03, 2007

When we're rolling in it - Tai Sheung Fishing Village Seafood Restaurant

King prawns, huge garoupas, shark's fin. That's your average Hong Konger's idea of a banquet. In the early 90's, when the economy was growing (unhealthily, but what did we/they know), people boasted and said they'd have shark's fin tossed with rice (yu tsi loh fahn) every day.

I had all the abovementioned 'delicacies' last night, but it wasn't a special occassion, and we weren't at a particularly glamourous place either. And yes, I did mix my very own claypot of shark fin into my rice.


The almightly claypot of shark's fin.


Dumpling (shui gao); sweet & sour king prawns, looking a tad sadder than they were. An interesting honey-ish sauce that only just coated the surface, in place of the usual death by drowning of gwailo tomato ketchup concotion, or the fluro orange stuff (although, I have to admit, I do like that stuff when it's done well)

And after all that 'indulgence' and 'vanity'? I didn't have to pay, but didn't have to leave to guilty either. (There was more - fish and chicken etc. but forgot to take pics). All up, less than HKD200/head. All sweet and no sour.

nota bene: This is olde schoole HK, so don't expect much service. And as it's one of those places with live tanks outside, I'm guessing they try and scam gwailo too. Unfortunate but...
Tai Sheung Fishing Village Seafood Restaurant (太上漁村海鮮酒家)
197 Sai Yeung Choi St North (opp. Police Sports and Recreation Centre, round the corner form Boundary Street)
Prince Edward
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2778 6231 

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bad photos, decent food - Le Marron

Here's another 'private kitchen' for ya. Located above a PC games place in a commercial building in Causeway Bay is this surprisingly well fitted out French restaurant with fairly decent food.

The interiors, I had decided on the night, should be called 'shabby opulent', that, unlike it's 'chic' sister, is more lacy and Victorian, but nonetheless seemingly haphazardly put together.

Despite all this lace (or perhaps because of it), it's not such a great place for that romantic candlelit 6-and-a-half month anniversary. Tables are all partitioned with lace drapes, but basically it's a large apartment with wooden boards all round, the perfect springboard for bouncy sound waves.

The menu is surprisingly large, considering most speakeasies have set menus, but it's probably because this place does more covers - it's almost impossible to book on the day - you'd be better off booking a week ahead!



L-R, from top left: beef carpaccio; escargot; duck confit (a little too salty for my liking, but quite tender); kurobuta pork (very juicy, nicely done, shame about the thick gravy thingy); grand marnier souffle (forget it, looks ok from the outside but was undercooked and tasted like diluted cough syrup); a bad latte.

apologies about the inexcusably bad photos... i really shouldn't rely on my camera phone so much and start bringing my real camera out with me again...

nota bene: minimum per person is $280 - so choosing your meal requires a bit of mental jigsawing...

Le Marron
12/f Ying Kong Mansion
2-6 Yee Wo St (opp. Sogo)
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
+852 2881 6662

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Private Kitchen Mania - Stella's Hideaway


Private Kitchens are all the rage in Hong Kong at the moment, well, to be precise, they have been for the past few years. Cheaper rents, more discerning diners, the natural human craving for being “in-the-know” (and telling people about it), have all contributed to the craze.

If you haven’t been to or heard of a private kitchen, it’s basically like having dinner at someone’s house (but it's not really their house, it's just an apartment they rented), except you pay for the privilege. The legalities of this are still relatively unknown to me, perhaps I should find out more, for the fear that one day all these cool places will be shuttered. Quality of these places vary – some are purely amateur cooks, while on the other end of the spectrum there are chefs from famed establishments who have decided to venture out on their own.

So, back to Stella’s Hideaway. I’d actually never heard of this place until my Aunt (whose birthday was the reason we came) invited us. It’s in a fairly run-down residential block on Leighton Road in Causeway Bay, kind of near Lee Gardens.


cherry tomato 'salad' dressed in sesame sauce.
interestingly, xi yan (wan chai/causeway g.o.d) has something quite similar (theirs is a normal-sized tomato), but in this case, i like xi yan's dressing more - it has a tiny pinch of wasabi in it, to give it that extra refreshing, well, pinch.
cucumbers in light soy and sesame
nice and fresh, but nothing remarkable.
smoked duck breast
decent... wonder if they smoked it themselves? if so, i'd give them a lot more credit for it! :P



tofu stir fried with (salt) preserved egg yolk and zucchini, much like the (shanghainese?) dish done with deep fried prawns

fish soup with turnip
crab before it was dished out individually

thai style crab in a light curry with vermicelli. i don't know if this is an authentic thai dish, it was a bit like tom kha gai, but with crab (and vermicelli)...!
'hungarian' oxtail stew served with rice cracker thingys (wo ba)
there's probably something similar in hungary, but this is actually a say sauce western thing from the olden days. a cross between thick tomato soup and a stew, it typically has loads of black pepper (but not toooo much) and melt-in-you-mouth carrots. the hungarians would probably have put a lot of chillis in instead.


finely diced everything stir fried with pine nuts, to be eaten with pappadum-like things. i thought they were kinda like fried shui jiao (dumpling) wrappers... must ask next time. a dish well done - not too oily, perfect dices, maybe just a little too salt heavy. would have been nice with congee! :D
another shot of the diced up dish and the 'pappadums'
hau shui gai (lit.: saliva chicken)
don't ask me why it has such a weird name. it's a sichuan dish, but this one's not spicy - probably coz we told them we were with kids. comes with preserved egg (the black, jelly-looking kind) and flat mung bean noodles and lots of (soy-based) sauce. unfortunately it's difficult to get flavoursome chicken in hk nowadays, so this one was quite bland. xi yan also has a very similar dish, neither of the places seem to have got it just yet...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sweet nothings - Sift

summer berry trio


Summer berry trio. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries. Ah, reminds me of the UK…! Sift has to be one of my fave places in Hong Kong at the moment, but unfortunately, the shortcake in this platter was suffering from a bicarb soda overdose, something that even I can avoid, hence leaving me a little disappointed…

choc pavlova


Chocolate Pavlova with cream, strawberries, and (cointreau?) jelly. Pavlova of course, is uber schweet, but the jelly was the perfect compliment, or should I say, antidote.

Chocolate Fantasy
hot chocolate
Scrump-liciously decadent hot chocolate. More hot chocolate, especially in Hong Kong, should be like this. For all I know, they probably just used Valrhona cocoa and boiled milk or something, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had anything like it. And I’m glad (that I found something nice, not that it took me so long to find this!)

Sift
Graham Street
Soho
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2530 4288

Friday, July 27, 2007

What Happened to Chez Patrick?

Monsieur Patrick was great, got famous, hired and trained chefs, opened a second outlet, and food became mediocre. No...... come back monsieur!!! Stop socialising and get back in the kitchen! (Not that we don't like seeing you, but since we leave late anyway, we can wait till service is finished to speak with you...)

Speaking of service, allow me to divert your attention to the servers. Actually, try your best not to pay attention to the servers when you're there. We were a party of only six and yet they never, ever got our dishes right. Hello, ever heard of a memory, or even some note paper? And you they not pour our wine from tremendous heights? This isn't Indian milk tea, you don't need to pour from afar and create an infinite number of bubbles in my glass. I could go on. But I must remind myself that I'm not in a western country. Servers here were not brought up under western cultural influences. They don't think it's a problem, for instance, that they plonk things on the table and slide it across to you, or suggest a dish to you (which you end up ordering) and then serve it to the person across the table, or bring an amuse-bouche and not explain what it is to you before rushing away... *sigh* Eating out well is so bloody expensive in this city that they should really stop thinking about hogging hefty profit margins from us and start thinking about investing some of that margin into t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g.

Anyway. I still like Chez Pat, but it's no longer what it was...


For more photos and comments, click on a photo or here

Chez Patrick
26 Peel Street (near intersection of Gage St)
Central
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2541 1401

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My new 'hood - Sheung Wan

Sheung Wan - the first/last stop on the Island MTR line, an 'old' district, the new SoHo, best place to get Chinese delicacies (the likes of dried abalone and frog's ovaries)... it's different things to different people. To me, it's where I work and increasingly, where I hang out after it (though its proximity to Central/SoHo means I'm heading that way a lot too).

Sheung Wan is full of eateries, some famed (such as Kau Kee beef brisket), others just your average local Canto roasted meat place. There are some in between, and those are the ones I've been visiting. Sadly, I haven't found anything that catches my breath yet...

L-R: Laksa at Katong Laksa; sandwiches, salads, coffee etc. at ubiquitous Graze; Duck w blueberry sauce at Palate; Panna Cotta at Palate.

Katong Laksa
8 Mercer Street
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2543 4008

Graze
Bonham Strand
Sheung Wan
Hong Kong

PalateG/F 35-37 Gough Street
Central
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2815 6963

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Le French May, the agnès b way

Ah, agnès b, the epitome of French culture, after the Eiffel Tower - in Asia anyway.

The fashion brand has now expanded its business into several florists and a couple of eateries. I guess that's what you call capitalising upon brand equity. The danger in doing that though, as marketing textbooks will tell you, is that one of the new businesses might screw you over if it diverts from the brand's image and personality.

I think in this case, agnès b has done exceptionally well - all these outlets exude class, elegance and a slightly offbeat, disregard for the mainstream artsy element that is basically what the brand is about. Although the cynical amongst us can tell that this is just another way to position oneself in the market.

Anyway, marketing aside - as if I haven't had enough of it already - the food is pretty good. The rule is, stick to the things that can't go too wrong, and you should have a good meal. For example, I've yet to have a good streak when it comes to grilled fish, it's a seemingly 'simple' dish that I usually avoid (my fellow diner did not, and was predictably disappointed - it's one of those times that just makes you want to squeal "I told you so!!" and stick your tongue out.... haha).

There was a special Le French May menu, but their usual menu already offers more than any decision-phobic person would like and they all looked so enticing...


Clockwise from top left: Warm baby artichoke (Le French May menu); Slow-cooked Pyrenées Milk-fed lamb; Salted cod with paprika tomatoes and savoy cabbage.

The baby artichoke was, in my opinion, underseasoned - I could taste olive oil and olive oil. The sprinkle of bacon was a good idea in theory, if only they'd be more crisp in the execution.

I'm a sucker for slow-cooked everything, but this lamb was one of the best things I had (the soufflé - keep reading - would be its closest rival tonight). Tender, flavoursome, moist in most cases - excellent with bread, but the white beans that came along with it, while perfectly fine on their own, were too mushy to create a contrast.

Salted cod - a nice way to make fish when you're noso sure about how juicy you can keep it when frying - IMO, anyway, because the flesh will be firmer and easier to handle after being kept in a salt crust overnight/ for a few hours. It gets a bit too salty by the end, but it's one the sodium lovers will like, and others too, given a good glass of white.
Desserts: Pure evil - there's a whole freaking page AND a patisserie selection!!
Hazelnut and praline soufflé (crisp on the outside, soft within - as all good soufflés should be... mmm~); Fresh fig, mascarpone, pinenuts on brioche (the brioche was just like any other piece of (dried) bread... oh well)

If it's a proper sit-down dinner you're after, remember to book a table in the dining room inside - otherwise you'd be in a cafe-like atmosphere - which is nice, but not always appropriate.

And by the way, don't expect too much from the service - it's awkward and a little try-hard - how many times have I ranted about the service in Hong Kong again?

agnès b le pain grillé
Shop 1 & 2A
2-4 Kingston Street
Fashion Walk
Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 577 0370

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Monsieur himself - Alain Ducasse at SPOON

Had the opportunity to go to one of the two Alain Ducasse dinners at SPOON in Hong Kong recently - it was definitely an experience. Here are some horrendous attempts at capturing the dishes (judging by the tiny number of posts I've managed recently, you may have been able to guess that I've not really had the time to read the instruction guide for my new camera...)

    
Top L-R: marinated sea bass with aquitaine caviar and a lemon sauce; asparagus and leek; sole with morel sauce; lamb with spring vegetables; re-interprested vacherin - meringue, mango and passionfruit sauce.
Bottom: Beautifully tempered chocolate with raspberries.

The courses were set, so basically there was no choice (other than to choose the rare/done-ness of your lamb, for which medium rare was suggested anyway). Which was not a problem at all. After all, as long as the food was good, we weren't going to make any fuss. Each course could also be accompanied by a different glass of wine, but if we did that, we'd be drunk and very very broke. So we has a nice bottle of 2002 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de la Janasse instead.

Service and the irritable noise of the restaurant made the meal slightly less enjoyable as it should have been; neither of which should have been a problem at internationally-renowned dining establishments like this one, especially when located in a hotel.

Nonetheless, the meal was great, and it's not often that you get to see Monsieur Ducasse himself roaming around the service area.

On an additional note, I hear that SPOON now offers a hip-pocket friendly early dinner (around $500 per head), as well as a comparably priced lunch. So if you missed out on Ducasse or wish to be reminded of the good times you had when he was in Hong Kong, you can still get your fix doing much less harm to your personal P&L.

SPOON (Hong Kong)
Intercontinental Hotel
18 Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2721 1211

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Three on the Bunch

A new place worth mentioning:

Cheap, chill and perfect post-shopping hangout. Perfect for tired feet and tired cards. If the mood takes you, downstairs are a cat cafe (Chococat Café), and a manga store.


Chicken Caesar - not bad, but if fake crunchy bacon bits annoy you avoid it. Ingredients are fresh, although I didn't expect 'grilled chicken' to be panfried chicken. Oh well. Didn't taste too bad.


Take it as contemporary soy-sauce western in a comfortably decked out space with decent views of Kowloon.
(This photo courtesy of up4food.com)

Three on the Bunch
5/F Parmanand House
51-52 Haiphong Road (corner Lock Road)
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
Tel: 2739 3982

Localization of the palate (as well as my brain) - Three coffees

Work is driving me nuts, but fortunately in this world, there are restaurants and their trusty accomplice, food, that provide either a source of relaxation (when the eatery and company are good) or of release (when it's bad and I can rant on and on and on about it).

As usual, I've been having lots of coffee, but I've been trying to make each cuppa more worthwhile than merely feeding my addiction by having them in different places. None warrant a return trip (except KK merely because of its proximity to work...!)


Sad but true (L-R): A HK$40 mediocre latte from Sit n Read Cafe; passable caffe latte from Caffé Habitu, the self-proclaimed expert in coffee; an unexpectedly decent coffee from KK while I sat until I wanted to re-enter the fluro-glow jailhouse that they try to call an office.

Sit n Read Café
3/F 506 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong

Caffé Habitu (multiple locations)
G/F Hutchison House
Central
Hong Kong

Krispy Kreme (multiple locations)
B/F Times Square
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong