Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Landmark Mandarin is NOT owned by the Mandarin Oriental Group. (Thank goodness)

Coz it sucked.
And I love the 'original' Mandarin Oriental.

A scone wannabee that turned out to be more like a tasteless, springy muffin with too much fat rubbed in. Um, they definitely don't share the same cake shop...

Like most 'traditional' afternoon teas in Hong Kong, this came in three-tiers. Except this stand stood on the ground rather than the table. Pretty cool, but unfortunately being cool doesn't make your food taste any nicer. Speaking of cool, the hard surfaces in the 'hip' interior didn't do noise levels any favours either.

The pannacotta on the right, however, was right on the money. Tart berry coulis, light jelly at the bottom and vanilla bean-packed cream in the middle. The only thing worth eating again.

Service was sloppy and uninspiring and coffee was weak. I don't need to spell it out right? Ok fine, B.A.D. (but it was packed! Another HK phenomenon I will never fathom).

MO Bar
Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Hong Kong
+852 2132 0188

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Borgo and Wunsha's Kitchen - SO Hong Kong

I make that sound like it's derogatory. Why do "That is SO New York" or "That is SO Parisian" sound instantaneously better?

Many people are critical of large cities, accusing them as uniform, lacking in individuality, losing its charm in favour or multinational hooha, and so on. To some extent, this is true - starting first and foremost with the almighty golden arches, then to Starbucks and even Krispy Kreme. But then again, like its inhabitants, constantly finds itself in the battle between assertion of individuality and societal acceptance. (Dear anthropologists, psychologists and sociologists, please excuse my naive use of terminology)

Nonetheless it is within this struggle, or perhaps with this struggle as a backdrop, that there breeds another identity that is unique to that city.

What makes Hong Kong Hong Kong? I'd be here till next year if I were to go on with this ethnographic analysis, but there is one kind of cuisine that is "SO Hong Kong", actually, make that "SO Hong Kong, right now".

HKers are increasingly skeptical of 'authentic' Chinese cuisine in HK, as many are now frequent travellers to China and have tasted 'the real thing'. They usually come home with exotic stories about how they saw a snake skinned alive before their eyes, or how the chicken tasted real, unlike the fleshy chilled crap we're being fed from supermarkets. Actually, I'm one of them, but the thing is, do all these people realise that as a result, HK is steering away from what is traditionally believed to be 'authenticity', and doing just as well?

At WunSha's Kitchen, we were served a mushroom sautée in a Korean stonepot (dolsot), soy sauce chicken infused with tea, five spice poached pork with xo sauce, raw turnip and cucumber, and almond sweet soup with white fungi in a baby papaya. All of these were pretty fantastic, though hardly traditonal.

Borgo, one of the earliest in this 'genre', has an awesome signature dish of vinegar marinated fish (fish depends on what's good that day), served cold - shock and horror in the Cantonese kitchen. But it's awesome. Did I just say awesome twice? (now it's thrice...)

And that, is nothing to be ashamed of.

WunSha's Kitchen
33 Wun Sha St
Tai Hang
Hong Kong
+852 2890 1230

GB01-02 Tai Hong St (aka Soho East - man I detest that name)
Lei Yu Mun
Hong Kong
+852 8100 8446

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Berlin - Currywurst, Bandol Sur Mer, Gugelhof

Berlin was a.w.e.s.o.m.e!

Didn't get subzero temps, it was surprising warm (prob averaged about 0-8 celsius), while closer to home it was freezing. BA lost my luggage at Heathrow, surprise surprise, but anyway, that's not of much interest to you, I'm sure.

What may interest are a few things...

1. Currywurst wasn't that bad - it's just a sausage doused in very sweet ketchup and light sprinkled - yes - with curry powder, like icing sugar on a tart. Man, I was almost hoping I'd have an ewww story...

2. It's kinda sad, but I have to admit, Brad Pitt knows his food. Bandol Sur Mer rocked. We were so full already, but when we (or rather, my boss) saw the slab of steak sitting in the ingredients tray, he knew he had to get it. I'm glad he did, coz I got a couple of bites too haha. It's a teeny weeny shoebox of a place - not much decor to speak of, but the amazing thing is that they haven't even had their 1st anniversary, yet the fitout makes it look like all the staff were born there.

3. Bill Clinton knows his food too. Gugelhof was great! I don't even like boudin noir (blood sausage), but theirs was great - full of cinnamony spices. We had choucroute and the pork (loin?) was awfully tender, flavoursome and presentable too - baby pink and glistening like a lightly perspiring young face under the spring sun. And the sauerkraut - I have to confess that I already love this stuff - I even eat the overly sour ones - straight out of the jar - but this sauerkraut was goooood, and even those little waxy boiled potatoes on the side were nice. Wonder if Hillary would cry over the choucroute at Gugelhof? I almost did.

4. I forgot to bring my camera and my phone charger, so I couldn't take photos of any of the abovementioned things. Sorry. Couldn't get photos until the last 3 days of the trip when they found me a charger, so I could at least take photos with my phone...

Bandol Sur Mer
Torstr. 167
+49 30 673 020 51

Knaackstr. 37 (corner Kollwitzplatz)
Prenzlauer Berg
+49 30 442 92 29