Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Tai Pan at The Murray (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

After finding a place for my little one's birthday two weeks ago, I have another challenge to pick a restaurant for our Valentine's Day celebration this week. I started off with a list of about 20 restaurants, some of which were newcomers in the first two months of 2018 and slowly trimmed it down to just a handful of options. At the end of the day, The Tai Pan was the obvious choice having realized that few could match its glowing credentials.

Located on the garden level (UG/F) of the brand new The Murray Hotel Hong Kong, The Tai Pan is a modern European restaurant with a sleek and contemporary setting. The Murray is one of the most highly anticipated 5-star hotel openings in the city for years so naturally, I have high hopes for its restaurants as well. 

The Tai Pan's food menu is an European inspired one featuring a nice mix of local and imported produce. A set lunch menu is available during lunch hours offering a choice between a 2-course ($450) and 3-course set ($550).

For my starter, I went with a refreshing dish of king crab served with celeriac remoulade and crisp romaine lettuce.

This was a pretty nice way to start off the meal with a combination of clean flavors. The celeriac remoulade with diced green apple provided some mild acidity to the equation which was complemented nicely with a pommery mustard dressing.

My main dish was Iberico beef ribeye served with buttered mash potatoes and mushroom duxelle.

I thought the ribeye was well-cooked and fairly flavorful (though not as flavorful as I hoped) so some simple seasoning of sea salt, fresh pepper and red wine sauce already did the trick for me.

Jelloman had lamb loin "Navarin" as her main course and she thought it was pretty decent. Like my ribeye, the meat was pretty tender and juicy but its flavors weren't nearly rich enough.

There's always room for dessert and this turned out to be another dessert trolley experience (after Sabatini). Here, we have a choice between tiramisu, chocolate mousse, lemon tart, blueberry cheesecake and panna cotta all handcrafted by their in-house pastry chef (according to the menu).

I had the tiramisu because as everybody knows, I'm a tiramisu maniac. This was fairly decent but personally, I'd like to see a bit more mascarpone and perhaps less ladyfinger (but that's just me!).

Better was the pistachio panna cotta with lots of fresh strawberries in it. Jelloman always has a knack of picking the better dessert.

Well, I was expecting a little more than two chocolates for our petite fours but that was all we could muster (one chocolate per head!).

Not a bad debut at all. Just a few tinkering here and there and they could be one of the best new restaurants in 2018 when everything was said and done.

PS. After the meal, I had a nice walk to Wanchai mainly to check out what Bakehouse has in store for me. But sadly at 2:30pm, everything was SOLD OUT except for a pair of sour dough bread. That was so depressing~

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Level Garden, The Murray Hong Kong, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3141-8888
Closest Metro Station: Admiralty / Central

The Tai Pan, modern European restaurant The Murray Hong Kong Niccolo Hotel Cotton Tree Drive one of best new restaurant 2018

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Si Simply Italian (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Last week when I was picking up my little boy's birthday cake at D2 Place ONE, I saw this banner there that said Si Simply Italian at D2 Place TWO is presenting a special 6-course menu designed by 1-Michelin star chef Stefano Masanti until the end of the month. It got me curious enough that I eventually decided to come over and have a look this week.

Chef Masanti was nowhere to be found in the open kitchen but still I decided to give this special menu a shot.

My last visit to Si was about a year ago and I still remembered they had some really nice homemade pasta. Tonight though, I will set the bar a little higher since they have a Michelin starred chef putting this special menu together for them.

The first course to warm up our palates was vension carpaccio served with juniper and gin butter, black truffle pearls, confit lemon and edible flowers. I thought the texture of the carpaccio was really nice. The vension was flavorful yet not overpowering like I originally suspected and those flavors were neatly backed up by the black truffle pearls and confit lemon. Pretty good start for me.

Second course of the tasting menu was chestnut cream which was almost like a velouté. Creamy chestnut combined surprisingly well with parmesan foam, poached egg, Sassella wine, vinegar and caramel (Yes, caramel!) forming a wonderful marriage of flavors.

This was seriously good. Not your typical chestnut soup with all the complex flavors but I like the way they've come together and harmonized each other.

Another enjoyable dish was skillfully cooked fresh capunti pasta. It was served with an assortment of mushrooms.

I thought this was really delicious. Apart from their cute appearance that looked like an open pea pod, the pasta had really nice bite to them. 

Next up was roasted polenta gnocchi served with a ragout made with pork ribs and finished with a bit of lentils over the top. I like the texture of the gnocchi which was a little crunchy on the outside while soft and moist inside. I didn't think I have ever had a gnocchi as big as a jumbo fish ball before so this was a whole new experience for me all together.

My last savory dish was slow-cooked veal cheek served with potato cake and endives.

The veal cheek was meltingly tender and I thought the endives did okay to cut through the richness of the cheeks.

Finally, it was time for dessert which was a simple semifreddo served with raspberry sauce, mixed berries and chocolate to wrap up this wonderful dinner.

The kitchen's ability to deliver high-quality pasta was again in full display tonight as I thought both the capunti pasta and gnocchi were two of the best dishes of the night. The chestnut cream dish was another pleasant surprise with the way the parmesan foam and poached egg (egg yolk in particular) elevating the flavors of the creamy chestnut to another level. All in all, it was a very entertaining night full of good food in a nice friendly setting. 

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop G03, G/F, D2 Place TWO, 15 Cheung Shun Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Lai Chi Kok
Tel: +852 2370-9022

Si Simply Italian modern Italian restaurant D2 Place Lai Chi Kok special dinner menu Michelin star chef Stefano Masanti best pasta dishes Hong Kong

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Yat Tung Heen 逸東軒 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

After a renovation that lasted much longer than we all expected (3-4 months at least?), Yat Tong Heen (逸東軒) finally reopened their doors early this month. Miraculously, they managed to keep their Michelin star in the 2018 Michelin Guide despite their recent closure (How can that ever happen, I have no clue.).

I thought the new look Yat Tong Heen looked a little quirky at first glance under the dim lights. The dark wood and all reminded me a little of those Chinese taverns (客棧) in the kung-fu movies.

Steamed shrimp dumplings with bamboo shoots (筍尖鮮蝦餃) ($68) - These were very delicate. The shrimp meat had the usual bouncy texture which was nice, coupled with just the right amount of bamboo shoots. Solid start.

Steamed pork dumplings with scallops (帶子蒸燒賣) ($65) - It's nice to have scallops to go with our siu mai for a change. Pretty decent.

Rice noodle with barbecued pork in supreme soup ($118) (蜜汁叉燒米粉) - An off menu item for my little nugget. The rice noodles were pretty tasty thanks to the supreme soup.

But I was more interested in the barbecued pork. Most high-end Chinese restaurants have switched to using Spanish Iberico pork for their barbecued pork these days but it was nice to see Yat Tung Heen sticking to the tradition.

This was very succulent with a lovely honey glaze. There were obvious chunks of marbled fat in the middle like the way it should be and I like its texture which was tender yet not particularly soft like those made with Iberico pork.

Baked barbecued pork buns (酥皮叉燒焗餐包) ($60) - The buns were just perfect with a wonderfully crisp crust.

But the sauce was a little bit sweet.

Steamed rice flour rolls with beef and spring onions (香蔥牛肉腸粉) ($68) - The rice flour rolls were thin and soft. Not bad.

Fried rice with assorted meat and conpoy wrapped in lotus leaf (鮑汁瑤柱荷葉飯) ($208) - A nicely executed fried rice with chicken, duck meat, mushrooms and conpoy wrapped under a sheet of lotus leaf. This was pretty tasty though I'd probably like the abalone sauce to be a little more flavorful.

Service was a little sloppy this afternoon which was a little unexpected coming from a hotel restaurant with a Michelin star. Perhaps everybody was a bit rusty after the month-long closure following the renovation. 

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: B2/F Eaton Hotel Hong Kong, 380 Nathan Road, Jordan, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2710-1093
Closest Metro Station: Jordan

Authentic Chinese Cantonese cuisine restaurant dim sum Michelin star Eaton Hotel YauMaTei Jordan Kowloon Hong Kong