Friday, December 30, 2011

20 yummiest dishes of 2011

I've been to some pretty cool places this year, and had some awesome meals. These 20 dishes wouldn't have been as yum as they were if they weren't shared with fantastic people. I know some of you better than others, but trust me, food is only delicious when had in good company.

The Shake Shack Serenade - New York

Temple of burger-dom
Ooh, ooh, ooh
What a little moonlight can do
Ooh, ooh, ooh
What a little moonlight can do to you

-Billy Holiday, What a Little Moonlight Can Do

Maybe it was that late autumn, early winter chill. Maybe it was the little light bulbs hanging in a park at night. Maybe it was the burgers. Whatever it is, I'm in love with Shake Shack.

An Evening at Herman, Copenhagen

I never got over my US-to-Europe jetlag. I just kind of stayed in this semi-awake state, which might have contributed to the meh-ness I felt about this meal. The second night we were here, a fair few of our Noma lunch crew had arrived. One of us was organised enough to book Herman way ahead of time, and from a table of 2, we managed to make it a table of 5. We each made our respective ways to the restaurant. My party was slightly early, so we went up to the spacious (and honestly, lightly stark) lounge/bar upstairs for a hot toddy. After we all arrived, we went back down to Herman.

Big Sur, California - Coastal Wondering

Big Sur
Fuelled up on Brenda's grits, we set off on our drive down Big Sur (enroute to Vegas). I'd planned it so we'd stop for lunch at Carmel, snack at Big Sur Bakery, then arrive in time for dinner at Pismo Beach, where our night's accommodation would be.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Da Ping Huo - Inspired by Sichuan

Mapo doufu
I'll be honest, I used to cringe every time I saw Da Ping Huo mentioned in articles that can be searched via the words "Hong Kong" and "private kitchen". I thought it was so gwailo (foreigner/westerner). The artist host, the opera-singing chef, it was all a big cliche. I continued to feel this way until I came back this time, after a long, long hiatus, to have dinner with some of my favourite food buddies.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Brenda's French Soul Food, San Francisco - OMG Grits!

Be careful what you wish for, lady.
I didn't know what grits were. I thought they were something "dirtier", like hash, so I was pretty surprised when I got something that basically looked like corn porridge that a baby could eat. But most of all, I was surprised that Brenda could make this pale yellow blob taste so day-m good.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peaches of New York - Momofuku Ssam Bar, Ma Peche, Momofuku Milk Bar

Momofuku Ssam - steamed pork buns
The Momofuku empire needs no introduction, so let's just get stuck into it, starting with David Chang's infamous pork buns. It's the stuff of foodie fairytales. Articles have been published, blogs have been posted, copycat recipes have been written, tweets have... um, been tweeted, all about just how omg-f*cking-fantastic these buns are. As much as I tried to stay away from the hype of that kind of literature, I was also here because of it.

18th Street is a Food Street - Delfina & Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco

Here I am, back onto my USA/Copenhagen/Amsterdam trip posts. Looking back, I didn't eat enough. (The blogger side of me disagrees - way too much blog material to type up). Throughout my time in San Francisco, I was utterly, horribly jetlagged like I'd never been before. I managed to get to Delfina - famed for their pizza but we went for the restaurant option next door. Fatigue got the better of me (trying to drive on the wrong side of the road didn't help) so I didn't check beforehand whether we could have pizza and normal mains (no, you cannot). I even forgot to charge my electronic devices - like my camera. Hence the blurry iPhone photos and the small meal. Bad, bad blogger.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eat to Give - La Parole, a Social Enterprise

I had the good fortune of being invited to a Christmas dinner at a restaurant that was right under my nose all along, but never tried - La Parole in The Pemberton in Sheung Wan. I met friends, old and new, which is always fantastic, but the best part was that I got to learn more about La Parole. If you read French (or decide to use Google Translate, duh) you'll know the name means "speech". Weird name for a restaurant, right? Well, not really when you realise La Parole is a social enterprise that supports Benji's Centre, which helps children with speech disorders from low-income families receive quality speech therapy services.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Noma, Copenhagen. The World's "Best Restaurant"...

"Was it good?"

Everyone (who is foodie/geeky) has been asking me this since I got back to Hong Kong.

"It was interesting," has been my default answer, as a way of hedging my argument (and buying time to give it some more thought).

I want to just blurt, "no, the food wasn't the best I've had" but I think Noma deserves more than that (honest as that was). I've been putting off this post because I've been having an internal argument with myself about this, and the other obvious fact that it's been named "World's Best Restaurant" by the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants award two years in a row.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday Farmers' Market at Crossroads, Tuen Mun

Roselles (aka hibiscus), leaves intact

The weather in Hong Kong has been beautiful these couple of weeks. Crisp, sunny, temperatures hovering below 20C...  The perfect kind of weather for market-going.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Vegas for Vegans - Pura Vida

Black bean burrito
If you've been reading posts about my recent travels (thank you!), you'll know that my main travel companion, T, is vegetarian on the 1st and 15th of each lunar month. We happened to be in Vegas on one of these days - you'll know that we had dinner at Bartolotta, and that the Wynn is vegan and vegetarian friendly. But when I decided to set our GPS to Pura Vida, I had no idea it was a vegan "bystro". It was just sort of on the way to the outlets (I don't gamble, but I use/lose my money in other ways). In fact, T didn't even have to be vegetarian that day. The reason we came was because I saw pictures of pancakes on Yelp. Pancakes and shopping! How delightfully frivolous!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geist, Copenhagen - late night New Nordic

Suckling pig with artichoke
When you try and Google "late night dining in Copenhagen", you get websites with lists of restaurants that include names like Pasta Basta and Ricepaper (for a Thai restaurant...). No offense, they might be fabulous, but I didn't fly all the way to Copenhagen to eat Thai. If you're a psychotic foodie, you'll know I'm here almost exclusively for New Nordic. Lucky for jetlagged me, Geist is open for dinner till 1am daily.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

é by Jose Andres - Avant Garde-ism in Brash Las Vegas

Stairway to... Jose?
Jose Andres, a name not quite as well known outside of the US as Mario Batali or Thomas Keller, but within, he's been on the scene a long time, getting people to stop and look (and taste) avant garde Spanish. He's an elBulli alum (almost everyone doing avant garde is nowadays, no?) but that's about all I knew. When I told people I was going to Vegas, gourmet traveller kindly sent me a very detailed email of everywhere they went and heard about on a similar trip (SF > Big Sur > Vegas). One that caught my eye was é by José Andrés. Many people in the US know him by his other restaurant, the super-experimental Minibar in D.C.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bartolotta - There's an ocean in Las Vegas (for vegetarians too)

Mushroom ragout tagliatelle
Being vegetarian in the land of steakhouses and poker seems counter-intuitive, but is entirely possible. Funny that I should even be thinking about it, as (clearly) I'm not virtuous enough to be vegetarian, but best-friend-T is doing the vegetarian-on-the-1st-and-15th-of-the-lunar-month thang, so there we were, in Vegas, on the 15th of the 10th month of the lunar calendar.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Red Door Cafe - Eclectic San Francisco, but what did you expect?

I suppose cliches and stereotypes all exist for a reason - a significant number of people who are seen as part of a particular "group" do indeed have similar qualities. San Francisco's stereotype, as a city, is probably hippy, eclectic and gay, so why should one be shocked when they arrive at Red Door Cafe?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coi Restaurant - San Francisco Sophistication

So you might have heard that I recently quit my job to bum around go freelance and work on some passion projects. Well, before all that, I decided to reward my newfound unemployment by spending a nice thick wad of cash on travelling. I'm currently in Vegas, but my first stop was San Francisco, so let's start there.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Aunt Or Private Kitchen (Ngoh Je) - Ngoh, Ngor, Or...

Deep fried shrimp toasts
Private kitchens (think speakeasies for food) have been "in vogue" for a while. Some attribute its rise to the financial crisis of 1997 when Asia was in a craphole and a lot of people got fired from their jobs. It would appear that a lot of these people wanted to cook, and to sell their cooking, because private kitchens sprung and spread as quickly as mould in a Hong Kong summer.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo BOMBANA - Push the gondola out

Rib (for two)
Just look at that. Geezus. Tender, juicy, with the right amount of fat, good bite, excellent beefy flavour. Oh, if I could just eat that off the day-m screen now. It might seem weird that I crave steak from an Italian restaurant (that's not a steak Florentine), but this one from 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana is better than any I've had at steakhouses in Hong Kong. (Though I'm yet to go to talk of the steak-town, Steakhouse at Grand Hyatt, which I've heard very good things about).

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Kin's Kitchen - Hong Kong Cantonese

Smoked Chicken
This was from back in April (I know, I know), but it's worth writing about because they do a nice mix of Hong Kong-style Canto home cooking (in that there are a few "fusion" dishes) and traditional restaurant fare that's a bit hard to find nowadays. It's also worth noting that the owner of Kin's Kitchen is also the owner and founder of Hong Kong's first private kitchen, Yellow Door. While I found the food at Yellow Door (Sichuanese) decent but underwhelming, I feel much better about the food at Kin's. I feel like they have more intimate knowledge about what they're cooking. Plus, you can make bookings for smaller parties as it's just an upscale-ish neightbourhood restaurant.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Shung Hing (Sheung Hing) - Chiuchow Chow

Not bugs! They're mini-clams
Chiuchow (or Chaozhou, or Teochew) is, geographically speaking, merely a city in eastern Guangdong province. Yet it has its own dialect (Teochew and Cantonese are generally not mutually intelligible) and own distinct cuisine*, specialising in seafood, and with a clear preference for the sour, spiced (but not spicy) and savoury, often all at once. This is awfully unscientific of me, but when I see/hear/taste lu shui (滷水), a braising broth/sauce of soy, star aniseed etc., or a more-than-usual amount of white pepper, I assume it's Teochew, or Teochew-influenced. And when you start a conversation about Chiuchow/Teochew food in Hong Kong, Sheung Hing in Sheung Wan will invariably come up.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Ippudo Fukuoka - Everything Tastes Better At Home

Ippudo shiro

I guess you could call it a ramen lover's Mecca, going to Ippudo, but that Mecca is almost only relevant to foreigners. We know Ippudo because it's in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong etc., and it's often true that the better ramen in these cities is from Ippudo. Hell, people are lining up for two hours to get in in Hong Kong! But in Fukuoka, or even Japan? I'm sorry to burst the bubble, but Ippudo simply doesn't rate.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Seema's Private Kitchen - East Africa in East Asia

Perri perri prawns
A couple of months ago was the first time I had Hindu-influenced East African cuisine. It's a fantastic melting pot of spice-driven fare that's big on seafood and full of fresh flavours. This was held at the chef, Seema's own home, which despite most people's perception of private kitchens, is actually very rare (most Hong Kong homes are simply too small). Seema holds her private dinners twice a month and also teaches cooking classes. (Another place where the private kitchen is also the chef's home is Mandy's Private Kitchen for Caribbean cuisine. Mandy was also at Seema's on the same night!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hachibei, yummy yaki - Fukuoka, Kyushu

Yakitori! Lots of smoke, but no mirrors
For work, we did an interview with Chef Matt of Yardbird, dubbed "Hong Kong's 'it' restaurant" (well...), and one of my questions was, "What are some of your favourite places to eat in Tokyo?" to which he replied that he actually thought food in Fukuoka was better. This was a few days before I was about to set off to Fukuoka - Helloooooo Lady Luck - so I asked my boss to kindly find out where exactly his fave restaurants in Fukuoka were. Of course, Matt's super busy, but he did manage one name - Hachibei. (And no, I don't think those questions appeared in the Q&A in the end.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

May your plates be filled with yummy mooncakes (not the foul ones) and your tables be filled with your favourite people.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Hakata Kurogane - Late night chicken wings at Hakata Station, Fukuoka, Kyushu

Chicken wings!
We arrived in Fukuoka in the evening and it took us a while to find our hotel (despite it being right next to Hakata Station), so by the time we did and put our bags down we were pretty tired. Without any plans, we wandered around the area as it seemed quite lively still. If all else failed we could have still gone to the myriad Lawsons, Family Marts and 7-Elevens - Japanese convenience stores are amazing; an onigiri from any one of those would have been better than one at the largest Japanese restaurant in any medium-sized Australian town. Seriously.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Tea at The Fairmont Peace Hotel. Or, what not to do in Shanghai

This was from way back in the winter when I went for my xiaolongbao marathon and discovered the transcendence that was Sincere's hongshaorou. But as I was writing about tea at the InterContinental Hong Kong, I suddenly remembered this failure of an afternoon tea at Jasmine Lounge, on the ground level of the Fairmont Peace Hotel.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tea at the InterContinental - Pinkies Up

Truffled egg sandwiches!!!!!!
There aren't enough exclamation marks in the world for a sarnie like this. And I used to hate egg sandwiches. Hard boiled egg yolk and (usually industrial) mayo just don't agree with me. But add truffle (I presume this was truffle paste) and it's absolute bliss. The sulphur-y richness of the egg yolk becomes comfort food, taking you back to those happy days when grandma fed you mashed carrots drizzled in honey, while you drummed the table and smacked the arms on your highchair - except you're an adult with fully functional motor skills. These sammies are the good life, summarised in a bite an a half. (Or a single bite if you're a shameless 1-bite guzzler like yours truly.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ruamjai Thai - Kowloon City Searching

Minced pork and basil stir fry (krapow moo) with rice
Kowloon City is known as Hong Kong's Little Bangkok, brimming with Thai restaurants. In recent years, it's also become known as something of a destination for gourmet grocery shopping, probably due to its proximity to well-to-do residential areas like Kowloon Tong, and its relative ease for car parking (rather, stopping the car - having a driver wait). If you want to buy crazy expensive Japanese watermelons in the shape of Hello Kitty, top of the range beef etc., you'll probably find it in these parts. It's also home to what was one of my favourite Chiu Chow restaurants, Cheong Fat. They've become a bit sloppy nowadays, but that's another story for another day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Food bloggers & Food critics

Pandas are bamboo critics
"Everyone's a critic", say some articles, as a way of putting down bloggers. Well actually, yes, everyone is. At an eatery, every single diner or even potential diner (e.g. a caller who tries to make a reservation) will judge their experience. The difference is, some of them have blogs and Twitter accounts whose contents can be Googled, some have Facebook, and pretty much everyone has least a mouth, an opinion and a voice to tell people about their experience.

But why does everyone keep thinking it's "bloggers vs. critics"? It's like when TVs appeared and people kicked and screamed about how radio and books were better. And yes, I do think letters are better than email for some things, but then again, each letter I'd send to my friends in Australia would take a week, and I'd have to copy them by hand word for word if I was talking about the same topic... Look, it's just technology, ok?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Caprice - 3rd time in 3 years, now with 3 Michelin Stars

I can't believe it's been 3 years since I blogged about what is one of Hong Kong's most lauded restaurants, Caprice.

Well, maybe I can because the first time was a bit of a flop, and the second so average I failed to remember much (or maybe it was the wine, ahem). But - I must admit that I didn't have cheese either of those first two times, which was a huge boo-boo seeing they have their own cave and all but alas, birthday cakes reigned. Caprice is a restaurant for occasions, n'est-ce pas?

This time was actually no different, it was also a birthday, that of my dear friend's father. (Thank you uncle!) But this time I HAD CHEESE.

It seems weird to start describing a meal from the end, but then again, it was one of the highlights. So here you are, the obligatory cheese cart photo.

Mmmm...  oui... 'ello mes chers...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Q&A for Marketing Magazine

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of being contacted by Erica Ng of Marketing Magazine who asked little ol' me to do a Q&A as "advice" for PR people working with bloggers. It just came out in print in the July 2011 issue (don't think it's online), along with responses from other Hong Kong bloggers - beauty blogger Meling Lam of Apple113, tech & gadget blogger Jonathan Sin of Fun Lockr and travel blogger Michael Taylor of Accidental Travel Writer. As with most cases in print, because of space limitations, a lot of it was edited out, so I thought I'd share my original, unedited version. I imagine it also answers some of the questions people (like my own mother!) have about why I blog etc.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's all about the money - Whisk

Tomato, strawberry and mozzarella salad
Rent and/or the stock market explain a lot of things in Hong Kong. Like how perfectly good restaurants close down (not over 80% full every night, for instance, hence not enough to cover rent); the advent of private kitchens (stock market crash of 1997, high rents); why we eat out so much (expensive housing, small kitchens that aren't conducive to entertaining or lots of cooking, unless you're dedicated).

So I'm guessing, for a hotel restaurant like Whisk, they have some sort of projected profit goal thingy they have to achieve. And not being exactly the busiest restaurant in town, they'd be desperate for two main things: 1) attract more people, 2) lower (food) costs. With a $218 set meal, Mon-Sat, for 3 courses plus coffee/tea and petit fours, I gotta say they're trying very hard to do 1). But then, how about 2)? How low can those food costs go? To me, it seems like they've lowered it a bit too much. Tasteless beef, cheap balsamic glaze - I'd rather $218 for two courses and better ingredients - I only have one stomach, after all. One thing they don't have to change is the chef. He's turning out great stuff from what crappy things his budget allows. Either that, or he needs to source really local, but I don't think hotel management can accept that kind of operation...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Best Chicken I've Ever Had - Chicken Village (Ji Cun) Panyu

Ji Cun's signature "crystal chicken"
I'd been here once before, two years ago, and in my mind, no chicken has topped this. Seriously, sometimes I wake up at night thinking about Ji Cun's "crystal chicken".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

After Seven Years of Blogging and e_ting: My 7 Links

It's my first time participating in any real "blogger" activity on the internet, and I thank Connie of Connvoyage and Aaron of Aaron's Worldwide Adventures for tagging me (and Erin of Our Tasty Travels for pointing me out to Aaron!) and getting me involved in Tripbase's "My 7 Links" project.

The idea is to go back to your own posts and find one to fit each of the 7 proposed categories, then 'tag' 5 more bloggers to do the same, to "share lessons learned" and bring old posts back to see the light of day. So, without further ado, here are my 7 links.

The ingenius start to our meal at Singapore's FiftyThree

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Roast Your Own Pig - Pacific Sky BBQ at Whitehead Golf Club

Sea view roasting
This post is really only here to say that you can, indeed, roast your own pig. Just call the people at Pacific Sky and book a couple of days ahead, transfer them a deposit, and rock up.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Would Your Grandmother Approve? - Ugly American

Having made a place with virtually no kitchen in North Point my home for the past year, I ate out in the area a lot. Don't get me wrong, the area has plenty of good Chinese food, but I have to say I got pretty excited when I heard a grill opened.

Ugly American is helmed by a chef who (as the magazines say) has headed kitchens in such places as Dan Ryan's (awesome!) and Fat Angelo's (not so awesome).

The intro on their Facebook page says:
This is not a restaurant made to impress snobbish critics or high society, but rather one where chefs go to eat.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Noodles, liver and tofu - A mini Sham Shui Po food crawl

Inspired by Jason's post on Lau Sum Kee, one weekend, Jen and I went to Sham Shui Po, western Kowloon, just a little further west from Mong Kok.

The morning before we were due to meet, I trawled Openrice and the wider internet for tips on where to go - because we weren't gonna go all the way out there* just for a plate of noodles!

*ok, it's not that far - very convenient by MTR actually.

My Sham Shui Po "map", if you could call it that. How about "Artist's Representation of SSP"?
So I drew up a crappy map (I would have printed a Google map, but I don't have a printer at home... is that weird?) and wrote the names down in my kindergarten-Chinese handwriting and set off.

Lau Sum Kee
48 Kweilin Street

Lau Sum Kee is known as one of Hong Kong's last remaining wonton noodle shops that still kneads their dough using a huge bamboo pole.

How it works: there's a huge bamboo pole on a lever of sorts that goes above a table. Dough is put on the table, under the pole. The noodle maker rides the pole and bounces on it rhythmically to flatten out and knead the dough. (However I say it, it sounds scandalous, but trust me, it isn't. Or don't trust me and watch the Youtube video above.)

[edit: thanks to Miki in the comments below for reminding me to say that you can't actually see anyone doing this at Lau Sum Kee - well, at least we didn't when we went... Also, another place that supposedly does bamboo noodles is Wing Wah in Wanchai. The noodles there are less bouncy and more pasta-like though, and similarly, I never see no poles.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mission Chinese Food Event in Shenzhen

I seldom write about one-off events, as I try to make this blog as useful as possible, but this one-night-only pop-up event in Shenzhen by Mission Chinese Food triggered some pretty interesting things that made me think more about where modern Asian/Chinese food is going.

If you're a foodlover from the States, or are kind of crazy and read about food way too much, you've probably already heard of MCF, or even been. They went from Mission Street Food to Mission Chinese Food, doing fusion-y Asian American within an actual Chinese American restaurant in the Mission district of San Francisco. I'd never eaten there, but from what I could gather from the interwebs it's boldly flavoured, nouveau soul Asian - which I would really have liked to eat at this event in Shenzhen, but at the same time I thought it might be a little odd - bringing soul-Asian back to Asia*.

Aside from the food itself, I want to talk about what this meal by Mission Chinese Food (hereafter MCF because I'm lazy) meant to me.

I didn't really know what to expect, but luckily there are adventurous folks like Gary and HK Epicurus, who were more than willing to come along, so across the border we went.

Clam/geoduck sashimi/carpaccio

The first thing that came out were slices of giant clam (though I think it was geoduck) on vinegared(?) melon in tomato essence, dotted with parsley oil and shiso. It was a clean, elegantly presented dish served to us in individual portions - so we pretty much knew for sure we weren't going family style.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cantopop - Organic is Good Business

... but little else.

I know it's not fair to judge a restaurant after having tried 2 things at the opening cocktails and one lunch, but as far as judgment on a purely personal am-I-gonna-come-back-if-I-had-a-choice grudge goes, my mind is pretty much made up for now.

Sous vide char siu and egg rice
About 3 years ago, when "organic" hit our local wet markets, my mom bought some choi sum for about 1.5x the price of normal choi sum, and stir-fried it for us for dinner one night, without telling us it was organic. As we dug our chopsticks into the jade green mountain of veg, I still remember dad and I saying almost simultaneously, "hey this choi sum is good, where did you get it?". In the dark days prior to this moment, we had sadly gotten used to the taste (or lack thereof) of a proper choi sum. This one was a sweet, fresh, juicy (oh yes) awakening for our palates.

Since then, when people say, "all that organic and healthy stuff is bland", that's the example I quote. I do believe that organically farmed vegetables have great potential to be hyper-tasty.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Coo-coo for Claypot Rice - Choi's Kitchen (See Fong Choi)

Eel claypot rice
It's probably the wrong time to post about claypot rice as we're diving headfirst into Hong Kong's hottest months. But I don't want to have to wait another half a year to post this! Besides, claypot rice this good is worth a little sweat (and I'm pretty sure that despite looking like a neater daipaidong, they have aircon).

Friday, June 03, 2011

40 hours in Singapore - 3 Hainanese Chicken Rices

Yet Con
I found it pretty amazing that I managed so much on my 40-hour trip to Singapore without feeling physically disgusting or even having to pop any PPIs. This post is about the three chicken rices I had over two days (for other stuff, like a bak kuh teh I never thought I'd like but ended up loving, see here).

Yet Con
25 Purvis Street
+65 6337 6819

Chicken - Yet Con
I wanted to come here on my last visit, but arrived too late (8pm). This time, I came at 3pm. Believe it or not the restaurant was still 40% full.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pasta basta - Al Molo

Just a quick scribble and a bad photo of last night's impromptu dinner at Al Molo, a Dining Concepts restaurant with Michael White's (of Marea NYC fame) name all over it.

The agnolotti was the only dish that ticked all the boxes, but the plate had been sitting in the warmer for too long and my sauce ended up forming a nice skin on the plate. Mm-mm! Who wouldn't like some skin on their sauce! Our tagliatelle was limp, overcooked (fresh pasta requires an eagle eye that kitchen seemed to lack last night) with a bolognese that was this standard only blander (a grating of parmiggiano helped). Tomato sauce in the other pasta (I think it was a spaghetti) hardly tasted of tomato, despite being very, very red.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

40 hours in Singapore - Founder Bak Kut Teh

Ribs at Founder Bak Kuh Teh
I love bak kut teh*. I had my first in Kuala Lumpur maybe 15 years ago. It was a dark, rich, herbal soup that pork spare ribs (and often, fried tofu and mushrooms) were slow cooked in. But then I learned that there are two to three styles of bak kut teh (hereafter BKT because I'm lazy) - Teochew (Chiu Chow), Hokkien and Cantonese.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Fifty eaters in one room - Dynasty

Those claws enticing much? Well, the invitation to this dinner at Dynasty was, because a.) it's one of those fine Cantonese "classics" I hadn't been to, and b.) I hadn't been to any of the famous foodie meetup dinners organised by KC Gourmet before. There would be about 50 foodies in one room. Whoah.

These were the wines on our table. (Don't judge!) You can read Diary of a Growing Boy's notes about them, but may I point out the first bottle on the right - it's Chateau Dynasty, courtesy of Growing Boy, fitting for our dinner at the eponymous restaurant (but no, the winery and restaurant aren't related). It's a Michelin 1*, whatever that means in HK (as I've said too many times).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chowmeet at Hong Zhou (no, not Hangzhou in China)

Cold starters (left-right, top to bottom): blanched pig's kidney; drunken quail; soy (etc.) marinated duck; "chinagreen"; Hangzhou-style 'vegetarian goose'; marinated jellyfish and cucumber; lotus root stuffed with glutinous rice with a honey glaze; tossed black fungus
Pre-Twitter (and sort of pre-Facebook), I stalked foodies on the foodie forum Chowhound, especially on the Hong Kong/China board. Of late, Twitter has stolen more and more of my time, but I was fortunate enough to make some foodie buds back on Chow. Some live in Hong Kong, while others are frequent travellers, and once a year, they'd meet here for some good, er, chow. These meetings were dubbed Chowmeets, and even though I was invited to one last year, I couldn't make it (darned flu), so I have my immune system as well as the gracious organiser to thank for this year's meetup.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eat to Support Japan - Sushi Fuku-suke

Sake and sashimi. Two things people in Hong Kong have suddenly become afraid of after the unfortunate events of Tohoku. The least we can do is help by continuing to consume safe Japanese produce. A blanket "no" is just dumb. I can't believe one of Hong Kong's most 'prominent' food show hosts, Ah So (So-sze Wong 蘇施黃), blatently wrote in her column in popular local magazine Eat & Travel Weekly that people shouldn't eat Japanese seafood at all, because it's just "too dangerous". What utterly irresponsible behaviour.

So I was more than grateful when some knowledgable foodies found out about Sushi Fuku-suke in Causeway Bay, whose owner/chef is from Sendai (and who, as we sadly discovered later, had lost his brother in the disaster), and counted me in for this exquisite and meaningful (on top of the usual curious and gluttonous) night of eating and drinking.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Miele Guide 2011 - Public Voting Opens & Why you should vote

The Miele Guide - Vote Now
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If you're an Asian foodie, you've no doubt heard of The Miele Guide. And if you're like me, you'd think that this guide, launched back in 2008, isn't quite as representative as it should be, with Singapore's Iggy's and Hong Kong's L'Atelier de Robuchon alternating between top 2 since the guide's inception (remember, that means top 2 in the whole of Asia).

So, a day or two after the whole World's 50 Best thang, you're thinking, "another day, another award". Yes, and no. The difference is, you get to vote for this one. You also get to add to the list of restaurants if the "panel" hasn't included them already. I don't know the stats but I think it's been heavy with votes from un certain démographique*, y'know, plus, I think native votes from Hong Kong have been wildly under-represented. It's time we tipped the scales and ruffled this guide's feathers a little.

There is a selfish ulterior motive though (not so ulterior now that I'm telling you I suppose?). Supposedly they will 'reward' the blog with the most click-throughs some interviews the winning chefs, and there's a gala dinner involved too (where the chefs are supposed to cook for you - but I thought they'd get to take a rest and receive their awards all dolled up and stuff?).

I've done a fair number of chefs' interviews, but they've all been for 'serious' publications and never this blog (where I can - and have - gone crazy and said stuff no editor would ever want to publish). I would love to ask the chefs some really ludicrous questions (ok, the kind PR peeps are probably not going to let me win now... not that I was going to anyway...)

To vote, click the Miele pic in this post, or the banner on the right hand side. Voting closes 16 May [edit] 30 June 2011.

Look, I'm not going to win this click-thru thing, but I'd like to think that we can shake things up, and your 10 votes might just do that.

P.S. Suggestions for ludicrous questions very welcome. If I don't get the chance this time, I might wrangle a few out of someone/somewhere later ;)

P.P.S. Do you find it disturbing that I'm doing this? It's not like Miele's paying me or anything (just to be clear...) 

* The Miele Guide is published by Ate Media, and one of its founders is Aun Koh, aka the blogger Chubby Hubby, and we all know how much they love Iggy's, and Singapore in general...