Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Drawing Room reviewed by Time Out HK

Time Out Hong Kong
are extremely efficient when it comes to reviewing new restaurants. I still remember looking at their Island Tang cover in dismay - the day the magazine came out the restaurant had only been officially opened for one day (or something like that). Though not quite as quick as I thought, but still pretty speedy, is their review of what is probably the hottest restaurant opening in town since Cepage - The Drawing Room, replacing Opia at JIA boutique hotel in Causeway Bay.

No real comments from me re their review, as I haven't been yet (will be going later this month - woot woot!), but as an exec summary, they gave it 4 out of 6 stars (same as what they gave Cepage), loved the decor and the reasonable wine mark-ups, but weren't wowed by any one dish, though all were above par and not disimilar to Aspasia's repetoire. Curiously Kay (the writer) calls Aspasia "one of Schuller's old stomping grounds" - I was under the impression that he was exec cheffing in both locations - perhaps they know otherwise?

Since the opening was announced, bookings filled at lightening speed, cluey bloggers got to it, and there was talk on Chowhound in no time. Someone (handle MWJTJ) has already reported having tried their trial menu and thought it was "really really good", and Siu Yeh has given it a 10/10!

The review is here and a previous blog post about it is here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hunan Part I

At Zhangjiajie

I'm not a huge fan of travelling in China, but given my geographical proximity it's kind of hard (not to mention stupid) to avoid it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zhangjiajie (Hunan, China) review coming soon, please be patient

Life is hellish at present, will try to blog my Easter trip to Hunan asap. Apologies for the lateness...

John Lethlean and Necia Wilden now at The Australian

The title says it all. The erstwhile The Age reviewers have jumped ship to The Australian, a national newspaper. Their 1st official appearance was April 18 in the weekend edition.

Check out the online edition here. (By the way if anyone from The Australian reads this, would you pass the message on that you need a better looking website, preferably with clickable author names so we can see all the articles by that author, not to mention cosmetic improvements - ever heard of graphics or colour, perhaps?)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival

Looks like the SAR is jumping on the 'restaurant week' bandwagon. It's not till later this year (30 Oct - 8 Nov) according to their website, will be interesting to see how well received it is.

Funny though that the Tourism Board is championing it - shouldn't restaurant week be local participant-heavy? At least heavier than say, jade appreciation classes... It's under the umbrella of Hong Kong Food and Wine Year - wonder what that means? (The website is pretty fun - there's a section with HK food celebs, in case there are any groupies out there...)

From the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival website:

From 30 October until 8 November, Hong Kong will host a series of wine and dine activities. There will be a
Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival from 30 October until 1 November at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade featuring enormous wine pavilions, stalls serving delicious food and live music that will keep visitors entertained. Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo will also be holding individual Wine and Dine Carnivals during this festive period.

Visitors can also attend wine appreciation classes conducted by local professionals, as well as wine tours and walks, while at the same time explore Hong Kong's fascinating living culture.

During the event period, there will be many wine promotions and special offers. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council will be hosting the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Fair 2009 from 4-6 November, providing wine lovers in the region with an opportunity to sample the world of wine and spirits.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Restaurants taking legal action against bloggers?!

After I posted an email I got from a friend re Dxkota Primx (name altered), I got the following message left in my comments (on my Xanga blog). A defamatory statement, maybe. Did I make it? No, and I say so clearly that it was from a 3rd party source. The statements don't belong to me (they call it "your wrongful and defamatory statements and misrepresentations" [emphasis added]), I merely quoted - don't newspapers do that?! Will have to consult persons better read in legal matters. And by the way, the thing says it's "By Email" - huh?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Feed me too Bubbe!

I love this little lady! She's 81 and makes some awesome cooking videos for kosher recipes, with tidbits about Jewish traditions. Check out this Chicken Soup series - the more recent ones are filmed even better. She's SO CUTE, and even has her own website, Feed Me Bubbe.

Hong Kong Classics - Petrus

To me, before the name Petrus meant a wine, it meant a restaurant. Some really posh place where coiffed ladies and gents in bowties would go and clink champagne glasses under crystal chandeliers.

I was right about the last two details, but the ladies aren't so into being coiffed anymore and bowties are reserved for Donald Tsang impersonators (or the man himself, maybe, if he could bear the thought of spending our tax dollars on caviar). Nonetheless it is indeed a special occassion restaurant. The first time I went was with some very, very, very generous friends on my 23rd birthday, and the second time, about a month ago to celebrate... well, nothing, unless you count blatent, shameless sybaritic behaviour as a cause for celebration. Judging by the number of birthday cakes and bouquets we saw that night, it seemed that everyone else there had something 'on'. And when you look at the menu, you'll know exactly why no-one could possibly come here everyday. No, its not the prohibitive prices (not that prohibitive, really), it's the offerings - it's all foie gras this and caviar that with a lobster reduction and a foam of wagyu with a dusting of truffle. Okay, I'm exaggerating and not really making sense, but essentially every item on the menu had one of the ingredients listed above. Every. Single. Item.

That, to my spoilt, pompous, not-so-little palate is the perfect target of ridicule, but mean girl laughing aside, I can only conclude that it's a place for occassions, something different and special, which is always nice, I suppose.

The food to me is fine. Reliably decadent, as you would expect from a restaurant of this price range and calibre, but there are no surprises.

Poached spring vegetables with black truffle

Okay, so I was expecting a clear poaching liquid and uber-sweet veg, but as it turns out, they just had to put cream into the liquid. It was nice, but the cream just made it too traditional, not to mention heavy, for me.

Roast pork with black truffle

I think it was a special, and the pork was from somewhere in France, possibly from somewhere near the French/Spanish border (or was that from another meal? Gluttony and early-onset Alzheimers do not make good bedfellows). The mash was excellent - super stretchy/bouncy and of course, buttery. The meat itself was quite juicy, though not the most tender, and the skin, well, let's just say I'd take transcendent cripsy stuff from Joy Hing over it any day. Not bad, nothing amazing.

Crisp apple tart

Most interesting dish of the night - great combo of textures - cooked apples at the bottom, a dense moussey layer in the middle, a very crisp tuile-like disc, topped with a silky ice cream and all sitting in an airy foam (of which I didn't really see the point).

Making Crepes Suzette

Petits fours

A note about salts - this is a round-the-world salt container - they had stuff from Scotland and France etc. Some people believe salt-tasting to be the height of pretentiousness, but either I'm pretentious, or I can actually taste the enhancement that each salt brings. My favourite salt to date is Murray River (pink) salt from Australia, but then again I haven't really done a proper salt tasting. Maybe I should organise one...

So anyway - occasion restaurant. That's what it is. Oh, and did I mention the view? Make sure you get a seat by the window (a preferably away from the horribly loud piano) - they've got a fireworks-perfect apsect.

Restaurant Petrus
Island Shangri-la
Hong Kong
+852 2820 8590

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Stop press! The Drawing Room at JIA Hong Kong

My folks had the pleasure of dining at Aspasia over the weekend, when Chef Roland (Schuller) came out to tell them that he's opening the new resto at JIA Hong Kong, named The Drawing Room, which takes over the old Opia (once managed by Aussie superstar (chef) Teage Ezard, of Ezard in Melbourne).

He said he'll be working there from today onwards, (Siu Yeh tips us off with detailed info on the team, and an April 13 opening date - their website says so too) and will be shuttling back and forth between Aspasia and TDR, initially spending more time at the latter. Aspasia will lbe taken care of by the/an ex-Toscana chef, so I guess it'll be in good hands! *oops - see edit below

*edit 4.15pm April 6: sorry I should have read Siu Yeh's post more carefully than just blurt what my parents thought they heard - the ex-Toscana chef, Umberto Bombana, in fact co-owns The Drawing Room, so the question is - who will be Aspasia when Roland is running around?

Anxious to try The Drawing Room soon. Now the sad people refusing to cross over to the "dark side" will have a chance to experience some Schuller love (which, as I've mentioned before, is probably the most underrated in the SAR).

The Drawing Room
JIA Hong Kong
1-5 Irving St
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
+852 2915 6628
Taking reservations Apr 6 onwards, opening Apr 13

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ching Ming Festival

The packages of paper money and 'gold' we burn. Each package has a name and their relation to the (living) person burning it to them - like an envelope. The incinerator is postal system.

There's food in every festival, celebratory or not. Take today, Ching Ming, which is when we (Chinese people) are supposed to go sweep our ancestor's graves and pay them our respects. We buy loads of paper money, Mercs, DVD machines, mansions, even paper servants, pack them into named paper bags (see above) and 'send' them off by burning them at the grave/temple.

We also bring typical "bai sun" (拜神, literally bowing at the gods) accoutrements - incense, oranges, wine, hard boiled eggs, roast pork (燒肉, yes the kind with the crispy skin)... each family 'standard' bai sun pack differs, according to personal taste, including that of the ancestor who they're visiting. My grandpa apparently has a taste for Shaoxing wine, and/or cognac, so we bring that along too.

But dead people can't really injest anything, so what do we do? Well we eat it for them of course. So this whole 'paying our respects' thing is actually an excuse for a picnic (graves tend to be a little further away from the city). I can imagine people coming to sweep my grave with truffle paste, prosciutto, figs, crispy pork (old trads die hard, and it is good...) and maybe a drop of d'Yquem if they really love(d) me.

Gotta go down some cognac now, so laters.