Tuesday, August 14, 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...

Friday, August 03, 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!)

Graham Street
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2530 4288