Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sepa Bacaro Veneziano (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

The dining scene of Hong Kong is one that embraces diversity and cultural differences. In Central and Soho alone, you can find a wide variety of establishments from the mainstream Japanese, Italian, French and Spanish to the emerging Peruvian, Lebanese, Nepalese and Moroccan. Now we can add traditional Venetian cuisine to that list too.

Situated on Caine Road across the street from the Sacred Heart Canossian School, Sepa ("Squid" in Venetian dialect) opened doors to customers back in August operating as a traditional Venetian bacaro. We are looking forward to experience their cicheti, the Venetian equivalent of tapas and a lot more from the traditional Venetian cuisine.

Like Bread Street Kitchen and Bar where we visited last week, the dining room here at Sepa has a trendy warehouse setting with a good mix of vintage and modern decorations. Unfortunately, we were not able to find traces of Venetian influence other than the chandeliers (more on this later).

Chef Enrico Bartolini has put together a well-balanced menu for diners to experience the culinary delights from Venice. That includes cicheti (Venetian small bites) and different types of focaccia, pasta and meat courses.

Beetroot tartare and tuna with Jerusalem artichoke sauce ($98), one of the signature cicheti here, was the perfect way to start our journey to the traditional Venetian cuisine. The balls of minced tuna, beetroot and capers were flavorful and refreshing. I thought even better was the presentation, with each of them resembling a cherry (7/10). 

Finishing up our trial with the cicheti was the Venetian chips with black truffle and mascarpone cheese sauce ($68). Our server explained that it's actually not made with potato but rather with something like corn. No wonder it tasted a little corny (4/10).

Moving onto our starter now, here's the namesake appetizer SEPA ($158), that simply should not be missed. Cuttlefish was nicely complemented with black cuttlefish ink, potato foam, olive oil and a little bit of spring onion. Perfect balance of flavors and silky smooth texture there (7/10).

We only had one main course to share - crispy veal cheek with rosemary potatoes and traditional sauce ($248). Thought they had a little too much seasoning on the veal cheek (4.5/10).

There were some interesting desserts available on the menu and we picked the homemade Italian ricotta cake with vanilla ice-cream ($88) based on our server's recommendation. It tasted a little weird though - a bit like quiche, a little savory but a little sweet too (3.5/10).

Back to the décor, I thought they could have added a little more Venetian flavors to the mix. For now, the Venetian masks on the chandeliers were the only thing they had going. 

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 61 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2521-9800
Website: www.sepa.com.hk

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bread Street Kitchen & Bar (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

My second meal at Bread Street Kitchen in 3 days, you must think I am quickly becoming a diehard fan of Gordon Ramsay now. No not yet, I was just with a different group.

But I must admit that I have been quite impressed with Bread Street Kitchen's casual dining concept. It's a little different from the fine dining we were accustomed to from the "Devil-chef".

We went in without a reservation and to no great surprise, the place was already fully booked. Fortunately, the Restaurant Manager was kind enough to vacate the chef's table near the entrance for us.

Last time dinner here was a little rush and I didn't get the chance to check out this place in greater details. Finally I got the chance to walk around and checked the decorations out including these incredibly charming chandeliers.

I was in charge of ordering again and this time I decided to try some new dishes out. First up was the seared yellow fin tuna with Aji Amarillo pepper dressing ($148). Not bad but the dressing was slightly too overpowering at times (6/10).


Honey glazed beef short ribs with pomelos, scallions, sesame seeds ($188) was a real pleasant surprise. 

The short ribs were slow braised for 16 hours and then deboned and fried at approximately 200 degrees to create that crunchy crust. Crispy on the outside and tender inside (7.5/10).

The slow roasted Dingley Dell pork belly with spiced apple puree and apple relish ($198) was the only dish I was repeating from last time. It was not as good as the one we had the other night though. The texture and flavor was still magnificent but it was a little dry (7/10).


Finally, we had the traditional shepherd's pie with braised lamb, potato puree and brioche garlic crumbs ($208) before saying hi to my sticky toffee pudding again. This was probably the most disappointing dish of the night (4.5/10).

The sticky toffee pudding, Muscovado caramel, clotted cream ($88) tasted exactly the same as it did 2 days ago (7/10).

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Mezzanine Level, LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2230-1800
Website: www.diningconcepts.com/breadstreetkitchenbar/


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bread Street Kitchen & Bar (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Every foodie I talked to was excited about the new wave of British chefs arriving in Hong Kong this year - Jamie Oliver (Jamie's Italian), Gordon Ramsay (Bread Street Kitchen & Bar), Tom Aikens (The Pawn) and Rowley Leigh (The Continental) are all slated to make their debut in Hong Kong at some point in 2014.

For one, I am intrigued by the arrival of the demon chef Gordon Ramsay himself but I also tried not to get overhyped because I still vaguely remembered that subpar experience at Maze more than 7 years ago.

But unlike Maze, Bread Street Kitchen & Bar is more of a down-to-earth diner. We can tell from the rustic "warehouse" look. 

I won't say the food menu is extensive but it sure covers a lot of ground. We started off with the seared scallops with carrot puree, treacle bacon and celery cress ($158). I thought it was a pretty well prepared dish (6.5/10).

The flat bread with caramelized onions, taleggio cheese, cured pigs cheek and basil pesto toppings was another lovely dish ($118) though the basil pesto could have been a little less dominating (6/10).

We had the roasted baby chicken, chimichurri, burnt lemon ($218) from the grill and the deboned chicken was surprisingly tender. Only if they could get the seasoning right, it would be quite perfect (5/10).

They were saving the best for last with one of their signature dishes - slow roasted Dingley Dell pork belly served with spiced apple puree and apple relish ($198). The Dingley Dell pork was famed for its flavor and texture and it was simply brilliant. I could still remember that melt-in-your-mouth sensation (8.5/10).

Onto dessert, I thought the Sticky toffee pudding, Muscovado caramel, clotted cream ($88) stood out prominently against the rest of the bunch (7/10).

Less than stellar was the chocolate tart with salted caramel ice cream ($98) which was a little boring (4/10).

Bread Street Kitchen & Bar certainly gave me something to cheer about tonight. I am already planning a return trip very soon.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Mezzanine Level, LKF Hotel, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2230-1800
Website: www.diningconcepts.com/breadstreetkitchenbar/


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Passion by Gérard Dubois on Mody Road (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Passion by Gérard Dubois on Mody Road remains one of my favorite spot for delicious pastries in the Eastern part of Tsim Sha Tsui.

I was doing my "routine check" the other day and look what I found - their latest creation called "La Pomme" (French: apple).

This lovely pastry is shaped like a green apple and it tasted very much like one too! An excellent combination of cookie crust, pistachio/almond (can't tell exactly), coconut flakes and apple compote all under a layer of delicate white chocolate mousse. That was refreshing!


Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop A, G/F Lyton Building, 32 – 48 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui / Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: +852 2721-1866
Website: www.passionbygd.com

Hong Kong, Kowloon, cafe, deli, dessert, patisserie, French, pastry, cake

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Paul Bakery (Paris, FRANCE) ★★★☆☆

On our last day of this trip, we flew back to Rome to catch a flight home the very next morning.

Didn't expect to see a Paul here at the Orly Airport in Paris. Getting another Paul under the belt was great, especially in its native country.

This looks like a popular pre-flight stop for breakfast and afternoon snack.

We were fishing for something for our dinner.......

.....but decided to simply grab something to go. I have been in love with Paul Bakery for almost a decade but surprisingly this is my first experience with their croissant (which I thought was just average).

My "main course" was Paul's Beignet au Chocolat and that was a lot better than the croissant.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: €€
Address: Aeroport Orly Sud, Orly aerogare cedex 94542, Paris, France
Tel: +33(0) 1 49757828
Website: www.paul-international.com


Amorino (Paris, FRANCE) ★★★★☆

When everybody talks about the best ice-cream or gelato in Paris, Berthillon is often the center of the conversation. But after spending the last 3 days in Paris, we have another name to throw around and it's Amorino, Berthillon's next door neighbour on Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île.


After waiting in line for nearly 15 minutes, it's finally our turn. Let's see what they've got for us here.

Forget about the presentation, this crepe with pistachio gelato was one of the better dessert I had all week.

We had to try one of their flower-shaped gelato. After picking the "Le classique", I quickly checked with our server to see how many flavors I could pick. 

And his answer "as many as you like".....music to my ears.

Time to check out the famed love-lock bridge just a few steps away.

Notre-Dame de Paris, another one of my favorite architectures in the world. Looked even better with the autumn leaves!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: €€€
Address: 47 Rue Saint-Louis en l'Île, 75004 Paris, France
Closest Metro Station: Pont Marie
Tel: +33 (0)1 4407-4808
Website: www.amorino.com/en/

Restaurant Le Medicis (Paris, FRANCE) ★★☆☆☆

I never imagine a day in Paris without fine dining, shopping and sightseeing could be so relaxing. Too bad it's our last day here in the City of Light.

Since the morning, we have been walking around the city including the Place de la Concorde and much more. It was getting a little late so we decided to grab a quick bite at the Jardin des Tuileries.

There was no particular reason why we picked Restaurant Le Medicis. But then again, perhaps getting a table in the terrace had something to do with it.

Caesar salad with chicken fillet - is this portion for two people, oh wow!?

Cheese burger - the roasted potatoes with potato skin was a pleasant surprise. The cheese burger was not.

Jardin des Tuileries - We spent more time walking around here after lunch. It felt like time has stood still.......

The Louvre - A final stop at The Louvre before we head back to our hotel to get ready for our flight.

Food Rating: 3.5/10
Price: €€€
Address: Jardin des Tuileries - Entree Place de la Concorde, 75001 Paris, France
Closest Metro Station: Concorde / Tuileries
Tel: +33 (0)1 4296-4806
Website: www.facebook.com/RestaurantLeMedicis