Friday, December 8, 2017

Ten On The Bund 外灘拾號 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

It's been a long time since we last visited Ten On The Bund (外灘拾號), one of the two more reliable Chinese restaurants in Lai Chi Kok (The other one being Greater China Club 大公館). With my sister in town this month, timing was right to give it a long overdue visit.

Roasted whole duck (外灘片皮鴨) ($398) - $400 looked a little steep at first glance but judging from its portion (two large plates like this), it's definitely worth the price tag. I thought the duck meat was really tender and succulent, and the skin crispy and juicy. Too bad it's the only dish that made a strong impression tonight.

Stir fried river shrimp with long jing tea (龍井河蝦仁) ($208) - Unlike the roasted duck, this was a little small. The river shrimp had pretty nice bouncy texture but it's definitely not a dish I would order again if I ever come back in the near future.

Sautéed scallops with broccoli (西蘭花炒帶子) ($168) - It's never wise to order a Cantonese dish like this at a restaurant specializing in modern Shanghainese cuisine. The rubbery scallops were just one of the few problems with this dish.

Steamed minced pork dumplings in Shanghai style (外灘小籠包) ($52) - Back to some of their Shanghainese specialties and obviously, the results were a lot better. The xiao long baos were fairly tasty.

Pan fried pork buns in Shanghai style (上海生煎包) ($52) - The buns were filled with juicy minced pork in the middle. Not bad. 

Soufflé egg white with red bean paste (高力豆沙) ($68) - Haven't had this for dessert for a long long time. Fairly decent offering.

A couple of observations from what I've seen here. For one, the prices have jumped up quite a bit since my last visit more than 2 years ago. Then secondly, there must be someone different at the helm of the kitchen now because some of these dishes which used to be very tasty, tasted very differently this time around. I thought the quality was still decent but it's nowhere near what it used to be. Not even close.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 10 Cheung Yue Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Lai Chi Kok
Tel: +852 2336-6776

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jamie's Italian (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

Immediately after work, I went off to Harbour City for some early Christmas shopping. In order to avoid the crowd, I thought I made a pretty smart move to have a very early dinner before 6pm. There were numerous options available but I ended up picking Jamie's Italian thinking that they might be able to deliver a really quick meal.

Truffle tagliatelle ($188) - All I wanted was a simple pasta so this homemade tagliatelle with silky black truffle butter, aged parmesan, nutmeg and shaved black truffle should do the trick, I thought. But it turned out to be a pretty underwhelming dish. The lack of truffle flavors totally caught me by surprise and not to mention the overcooked pasta itself. It was a complete fail for me. 

Tiramisu ($78) - A bit of a modern twist on the Italian classic with orange mascarpone and chocolate. It tasted a bit like a chocolate brownie cake from my first bite but it was fine.

I have heard about their new Jamie's Deli which is now part of the restaurant serving some simple deli food including a number of salads, pizzas, bread, sandwiches and pastries. Didn't get the chance to try anything out as I was a bit pressed with time. Perhaps next time.

There're a lot of ways to spend $300 on a dinner at Harbour City but I'm afraid spending it at Jamie's Italian wasn't the wisest choice at all. Let's learn from the mistake and move on.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 3758-3333

Saturday, December 2, 2017

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

I have been quietly looking for an excuse to come back to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon and finally, I got one (early Christmas celebration with mom!) this week. The best part of all, I didn't have to do much convincing to recruit my partner in crime (mom) on board.

It's mom's first visit to a Joël Robuchon establishment so initially, I wanted to make sure that mom gets her hands on some of the restaurant's signature dishes. But as we all know the hard way, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In my case, my morning meeting ran into overtime (more like triple overtime) so I didn't arrive until almost 1pm which gave us a little less than an hour and a half to finish this meal (including my traveling time back). At the end, we had to settle for the 3-course set lunch menu and of course, I let my server know of my tight schedule and he promised to do the best he could to accommodate.

Despite the kitchen's best effort, our amuse bouche didn't arrive until 20 minutes after we placed our order and I had to chase them a couple of times for that to happen. Their excuse was the fact that our amuse bouche needed time to get steamed. But 20 minutes?? Anyways...

I thought this was a pretty nice amuse bouche. The steamed mushroom purée was topped with artichoke cream, mushrooms, crispy croutons and a bit of espelette provided a lovely spicy kick.

La Langoustine - Now that we have got our amuse bouche out of the way, things were finally back on track. I was really looking forward to the intense flavors of this rich langoustine soup which was perfectly complemented by the roasted scampi set at the center of the dish.

The soup was served with brussels sprouts, green beans, shiitake mushroom and squid. I could really sense the amazing aroma coming from the finely spiced bouillon when our server poured it down to the bowl.

Very rich and most definitely very delicious.

La Chataigne - At the same time, mom was having her velvety chestnut velouté with Jerusalem artichokes. I didn't steal a spoonful of it from her like I usually do but I was told, it was silky smooth though lacking some rich chestnut flavor.

Le Canard de Challans - A couple of other main dishes made my short list but I ended up taking the grilled Challans duck breast because I can never resist ducks from Challans.

The pair of duck breast were grilled to absolute perfection with the meat still largely pink while the skin crispy and almost crunchy. It was served with some celeriac purée, pear and foie gras. Not bad.

Les Spaghettis - Mom decided to drop a few bucks more ($30 supplement) for the 
Maine lobster spaghetti with coral emulsion.

Again a wonderful dish with strong and complex flavors coming from the coral emulsion. I was curious why they didn't serve it with Brittany lobsters.

Le Chocolate - I wanted something simple and unpretentious for dessert this afternoon so this fit the bill perfectly. I love the simple combination of "Gianduja" cream, chocolate jelly and earl grey tea ice-cream. The whole thing was showered with something like corn flakes so there's a bit of crunchiness on top of the different textures and flavors.

La Poire - Mom went with the pear compote tart with cinnamon mousse and pear sorbet. A bit better presentation than my dessert and a bit more refreshing as well.

They always have the best petite fours in town. Too bad I was running a little late for my afternoon meeting so I had to grab the profiteroles and raspberry macaron and finished on the go before I passed the gate at the MTR station.

Despite giving the service team a heads-up, the meal ended up taking more than 1.5 hours for just three courses. Can they do a better job in speeding things up? Absolutely. Four months ago, I had a 10-course degustation menu at Ad-Hoc, a contemporary European restaurant in Osaka in just 70 minutes. As soon as I told them I was pressed for time, the chefs there really turned up the heat and managed to deliver the entire meal at an amazing pace. But that was Japan, which I thought was one of the most customer oriented cities in the world. Let's not take anything away from this lunch. I thought all the dishes I had was amazing. Mom had something to say about her chestnut velouté and Uncle Joel's signature mashed potato but for the most part, she thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And that's the most important thing. 

And to my pleasant surprise, I made it to my meeting five minutes ahead of schedule~!

Food Rating: 7.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2166-9000
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 41st (2017)