Friday, January 30, 2015

Neighborhood (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Neighborhood is billed as a neighborhood bistro that serves a hearty European fare in the heart of Soho (hence the name). Located in the quiet corner of Hollywood Road with the entrance (on Man Hing Lane) facing the diminutive Pak Tsz Lane Park, the tiny bistro provides the perfect hiatus from the busy streets of Soho.

Neighborhood is yet another success story from owner-chef David Lai who also operates culinary gems like On Lot 10 and Bistronomique.

It's easy to forget that not too long ago, this place used to be called "Jaan Kitchen" but what a difference a few months made. After the sleek transformation, Neighborhood is now one of the most sought-after restaurants in Central.

The dishes are meant to be shared at Neighborhood as the portions are just slightly bigger than bite-sized. But before they pepper us with their hearty dishes, we first started things off with a pretty good loaf of bread.

I was a little depressed when I learned that the beef tripe gratin had been taken off the menu. Let's hope that the spicy beef tripe terrine is nearly as good! 

To my pleasant surprise, the beef tripe was wonderfully tender and combining well with the terrine to provide quite a very interesting bite (7/10).

How can we miss out on the house specialty - chicken deep fried frog's legs? This was very flavorful, perhaps a little too flavorful for my liking but there's no denying the perfect texture of the meat, both tender and moist (6/10).

Onto our pasta and risotto now, first up was a dish I was really looking forward to - spaghetti carbonara with sea urchin but surprisingly it turned out to be the weakest link of the meal.

Honestly, it tasted a little too bland and plain for a dish with fresh sea urchin and truffle. Even the fragrance (or the lack of it) didn't feel right (4/10).

On the other hand, the bone marrow risotto was nicely executed. I really like the small chunks of bone marrow in the rice for its contrasting texture (6.5/10).

The meat of the day was a lovely slow roasted pork belly on a bed of lentils. The dish was a little oily but who could resist such as gorgeous piece of perfectly cooked pork that was crispy on the outside and juicy inside (7/10).

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2617-0891
Website: Link

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kitchen Corner 轉角‧見 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

There has been a lot of buzz generated by all these new trendy burger joints in recent years; Butcher's Club Burger, Beef & Liberty (even making the Michelin Guide as recommended as I recalled) and Burgeroom just to name a few of them. As one would expect, they are mostly situated in Central, Wanchai and Causeway Bay so many of my burger-loving friends need to trot all the way for a bite of their favorite burgers.

But I think I have just discovered a diamond in the rough here - a new burger cafe which happened to be in a rather unfamiliar territory for most people. Tai Wo Hau. Yes, Tai Wo Hau.

Kitchen Corner, a little burger joint located between Tsuen Wan and Tai Wo Hau station can be found on the ground floor of the little known Tsuen Cheong Centre.

They have the traditional cheese burgers and mushroom burgers with beef patty but I decided to get a little more adventurous today by tackling their satay chicken burger with fresh tomato and lettuce ($40)

The satay chicken using boneless chicken thigh was pretty good. I like the sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top. The only blemish was perhaps the buns as they were not as spongy as I expected.

And what's a burger meal without a milkshake right? They have four flavors here - matcha, vanilla, oreo and peanut.

I had a go with their peanut shake and thought it was alright.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$
Address: Shop 66, G/F, Cheong Ning Building, Tsuen Cheong Centre, 202-216 Sai Lau Kok Road, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tai Wo Hau
Tel: +852 9547-0466

Hong Kong, Tsuen Wan, cafe, dessert, cake, burger

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chateh (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant is probably not the best Chiu Chow restaurant in Hong Kong but its name has always been eponymous to Chiu Chow cuisine and for decades, when we thought about Chiu Chow food, this was the place to be. 

Interestingly, Pak Loh Group has just branched out a new concept known as Chateh (百樂小館) which serves up pretty much the same Chiu Chow dishes but in a more chic and modern vibe and that's where we would be having our pre-Chinese new year dinner gathering.

Chateh is situated in the newly renovated FoodLoft on Level 4 of the Miramar Shopping Centre. We were no stranger to Pak Loh's menu so of course, we knew exactly what would be ordered.

Marinated sliced goose meat with tofu ($88), 6.5/10

This was always THE way to start any meal at a Chiu Chow restaurant. The sliced goose meat was very juicy and the flavors coming from the soy was absolutely irresistible.  

Hand shredded chicken with sesame sauce ($88), 3.5/10

I had high hopes for this one but it flat out failed to impress me. The shredded chicken was definitely not as flavorful as we would like and even with the sesame sauce on top, it didn't manage to make any headway.

Salted cabbage and pig's tripe soup ($98), 5/10

We were having trouble deciding between the salted cabbage and pig's tripe soup AND the pig's lung soup with almond juice. Thankfully a wise guy came to our rescue declaring that we should order both. What a great move that was!

First up was the salted cabbage and pig's tripe soup. The tripe was real delicious but I thought I won't mind a little more white pepper and salted cabbage flavors there.

Pig's lung soup with almond juice ($128), 7/10

This was very nice. No, it's incredibly delicious. Very thick and milky. And I actually got a big slice of pig's lung in my bowl which was always a bonus. 

Golden deep fried shrimp with crispy taro ($?), 8.5/10
The star of the night. From what I've seen from our body language, everyone was dying for an extra piece but too shy to voice out. Yes it was that good. The king shrimp was deep fried to golden brown color and it was melt-in-your-mouth sensational. The crispy potato with taro on top provided a superb bite.

Grilled dried squid in Chiu Chow style ($68), 5/10
Didn't we use to see these in front of the traditional theatres in Hong Kong when we were kids? I think I am giving out my age here but anyways, this is reasonably good. Slightly smoked and not too chewy.  

Steamed crab with glutinous rice ($488), 8/10
Probably the second best dish of the night. The glutinous rice was excellent with all the flavors soaked through nicely. I wasn't crazy about crabs but still managed to try one piece and it was very meaty and sweet. Lovely dish.

Pan fried bean curd roll stuffed with radish ($38), 5.5/10
I was having this for the first time and it was pretty darn good. Supposed to be a famous chiu chow snack but a lot of places in Hong Kong don't bother doing this dish probably due to the amount of work involved. Very soft and strong radish flavors, although couldn't really tell whether there's bean curd there.

Stir fried beef and kale in satay sauce ($88), 7/10
The portion was pretty small but the kale was crisp the way I liked them. The beef was tender and satay sauce not too overpowering. Very nice.

Chiu Chow fried noodles with sugar and vinegar ($88), 6/10
I always like to sprinkle a little more sugar but less vinegar on this. It was pretty good.

Green bean sweet soup with pearl dumplings ($38), 6/10
Looks like we have all enjoyed a fairly delicious meal and we are all looking forward to dessert. For those of us who didn't have much stomach room left, the green bean sweet soup with pearl dumplings was an excellent choice.

Mashed taro with
sweetened ginkgo ($38), 6.5/10
But for guys like me who had a little more wiggle room, we've opted for the mashed taro with sweetened ginkgo. Silky smooth texture with super rich taro flavors. This is always on top of my list.

From time to time, I do visit some of the traditional Pak Loh Chiu Chow restaurants but often walk out feeling a little boring. So Chateh felt like a breath of fresh air. Even the same dish tasted a little better and the chair felt a little more comfy.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 4A1, L4, FoodLoft, Miramar Shopping Centre, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2157-9949

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Carbone (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

I was keen to check out Carbone and its “red sauce Italian” style dishes when the 1-star Michelin restaurant from New York first opened in Central a few months ago. But November and December are always busy months for restaurant openings and I ended up waiting a little longer than I originally thought before paying them my first visit.

Located on the eighth floor of the LKF Tower, Carbone has quickly established itself as a fan favorite in Hong Kong. On the day of our visit, the restaurant was totally packed at around 7pm and even the bar at the entrance area was completely full of customers waiting to be seated.

And who could resist a hearty Italian fare in an authentic throwback vibe like this? I heard the setting here is almost a carbon copy of what they have in Greenwich Village, NY.

Some nibbles to start us off courtesy of the kitchen. First up was a spicy salami that was very good.

Even more amazing was the garlic bread. 


The parmesan cheese was also of very good quality.

I am naturally not a carpaccio person but having heard so much about Carbone's Carpaccio Piemontese ($198), it's impossible to pass on this gem and I was glad I didn't.

Thin sheets of wagyu beef was perfectly marinated with olive oil and black truffle and served with some rocket leaves and mushrooms. I love the crushed walnuts which was the key to that absolutely irresistible bite (8.5/10).


The signature dish, spicy rigatoni vodka ($198) was another masterpiece that should not be missed here. The handmade rigatoni had just the perfect bite and equal to the task was the pink cream sauce with tomato, onion and Calabrian chili (8/10).

I was supposed to have their veal parmigiana as my main course as it has always been touted as the most iconic dish in the
“red sauce Italian” cuisine. But I have never really paid much attention to signature dishes and went with my own choice of pork chop and peppers ($428).

As recommended by our server, we had it at medium but slightly more on the medium-well side. It ended up to be a decent dish. The Iberico pork had good texture and was nicely complemented by vinegar peppers and braised onion (5.5/10).

Despite the limited choices from a small menu, Carbone showed exactly why the restaurant managed to capture its first Michelin star and cemented itself as one of the best Italian restaurants in New York in just a little over a year.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 9/F, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2593-2593

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Le Bistro Winebeast (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

It's been a while since I last read so many positive reviews about a small little bistro in Wanchai so I decided to act quickly this time.

One of our offices is located very close to Le Bistro Winebeast so I swear that I have walked by this place a zillion times by now. But all along I have seen it as a wine store and never realize it doubles as a French bistro too.

And there's head chef Johan Ducroquet. I've heard he's working magic. It's also noteworthy that he has a solid resume having trained at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris (including le Chateaubriand) and worked extensively in France, Spain and South America before.


At lunch, they are offering their a la carte menu as well as a 4-course tasting menu at $448. An optional wine pairing is available for another $100. But we are having a 5-hour meeting in the next hour so the set lunch at $150 suits me just fine.

Everything started in a promising manner beginning with a silky smooth pumpkin soup. I like the modern twist of adding fresh squid and lemongrass cream to the equation to make the taste richer (6.5/10).

But the wheels began to fall off from here. The grilled mackerel with sautéed carrots and seasonal mushrooms was a little fishy and lacking flavors (3.5/10).

Almost equally uninspiring was the pork tenderloin with virtually the same supporting cast. The pork, which was about half-cooked, was desperately lacking some seasoning.

I was peeking over my shoulder to see if my neighbours' pork tenderloin were also as undercooked as mine but only to find that theirs were mostly well-cooked. So why such a big discrepancy there (3/10)?

There's a black coffee or lemon (or berry) green tea that came with the set.

Obviously disappointed as I was expecting something comparable to Serge et le phoque but that never happened.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: 15 McGregor Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wan Chai
Tel: +852 2479-6833

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Royal Plaza Hotel Cake Shop (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

As someone who was born with a sweet tooth, I am always on the lookout for desserts and cakes to sweeten up my life. Today I was just in the Prince Edward neighborhood to meet my parents. Before meeting up with my folks, I decided to drop by Royal Plaza Hotel's cake shop and see what they have in store for me.

Apart from the usual suspects, they've added some funky ones to the mix.

The newest additions include Hong Kong cha chaan teng's (茶餐廳) all-time favorite - rice with fried egg and red sausage as well as Japanese ramen!

The bowl of rice with fried egg and red sausage was in fact chestnut cake with crispy rice and sausage cookie ($58). It did look like the real deal at first glance but taste-wise, didn't exactly blow me away.

Slightly better was the mango custard ramen cake ($58).

Ramen cakes have actually been around for a long time in Japan and we came across a place called "Machi no Kuma-san" in Tokyo where they also offer soba cakes and tonkatsu cakes on top of their famous ramen cakes. So these really are nothing new at all except in Hong Kong.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: Royal Plaza Hotel, 193 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Mongkok East
Tel:+852 2622-6256 

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