Thursday, April 30, 2015

MOYO (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

MOYO is the latest Korean fusion restaurant to hit the local dining scene this year. Situated on Aberdeen Street across from the PMQ, MOYO offers both traditional and contemporary Korean dishes, with a bit of Italian twist.

Like most small eateries in Soho, this place is a little noisy especially with the busy Aberdeen Street right in front of it.  

Their "Moyolisa" as they called it.....

Things got started the traditional Korean way with a small plate of seafood pancake ($78). This was done the old fashion way with a flavorful batter, some seafood bits and lots of green onion. 

What I like most about this pancake was its size. It's perfect. With the traditional ones, I often got stuffed after 2 to 3 slices and ended up missing out on the other dishes!

Next up was something slightly less conventional - Kimchi disco fries ($108) which was homemade fries served with kimchi, purple onion, pork, cheese, shiracha and sour cream. We had something very similar at Seoul's Vatos Urban Tacos and it was an experience that left a pretty good impression on us. 

This one unfortunately tasted a little bland to start although it fared slightly better after we mixed everything together from top to bottom.

For main course, our original plan was to go after their carbonara rice cakes (topokki). We have always enjoyed Korean rice cakes with a fusion twist and who could resist the combination of Parmegiano Reggiano, Pecorino, egg yolk and pancetta anyways? But then we realized that we had the same dish at School Food quite a few times already. So after weighing our options, we decided to go with their Bulgoghi ($198) instead.

Like topokki, bulgoghi is another popular Korean dish. They had their marinated beef served on a bed of seasonal mushrooms and stir-fried onion. The beef was very tender and juicy, which is always nice. I also like the minimal seasoning with Korean BBQ sauce which was subtle and not too overpowering.

Finally, a bit of Italian twist as promised - tiramisu ($58) but I thought it's more Japanese and Italian instead of Korean and Italian.

It's made of green tea, mascarpone, red bean, coffee and savoiardi. Very soft and moist.

I had a quick chat with one of the pretty waitresses here and decided to ask her about the name of the restaurant - what does MOYO mean in Korean? She smiled and replied, "It means together, getting together or gather....". 

Although a little noisy at times, there is no question that this is a great place to get together and share some really good Korean food.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, 36 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central / Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2858-2777

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Assaggio Trattoria Italiana Wanchai (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Another colleague is leaving the lair next month and a couple of guys who's been working closely together decided to throw him a small party. As usual, I was the one who's picking the place to eat and Assaggio Trattoria Italiana at the Hong Kong Arts Centre was the obvious choice since it's close for everybody. Well, sort of close.

I last visited this Assaggio almost four years ago when it first opened and former Executive Chef Marco Furlan was still at the helm. Always love their risotto with saffron. In recent years, I have visited their Tsim Sha Tsui branch but eventually stopped going there after realizing that the food wasn't what it used to be (comparing to Wanchai branch).

The venue here has always been fabulous. An open pasta station, two separate dining rooms, a private room that comfortably seats up to 12 guests and an inviting outdoor terrace area overlooking the Victoria Harbour make up this big, swanky space on the 6th floor of the Hong Kong Arts Centre. There are artworks hanging on the walls with simple rustic furniture and wooden tables providing a vibrant atmosphere for anyone who enjoys a casual Italian fare

Assaggio salad ($108), 3.5/10
We got our first taste of the
trattoria-style fare with the Assaggio salad. Salami, cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, goat cheese and mix greens rounded out this refreshing yet unspectacular dish.

Spicy spinosini with garlic and crab ($148), 5/10
Chef de Cuisine of Assaggio, Francesco Gava, is a native of Piedmont in northern Italy and is especially good with authentic Italian food such as fresh homemade pasta. With that reason alone, we had to try his spicy spinosini with garlic, cherry tomato and crab.

Spinosini, a spaghettini-type of thin pasta was tossed in a lightly spicy sauce with fresh crab meat and cherry tomatoes. Very nicely textured indeed but perhaps we took too much time taking photos and by the time we were done, most of the sauce was already absorbed.


Margherita pizza ($138), 5/10
I love pizza with a lot of cheese. This one had just enough buffalo mozzarella on top while cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and tomato sauce filled out the rest of the topping. This is very crisp and tasty but could have been a little more cheesy.

Grilled spring chicken with spicy marinade ($198), 5/10

It came as four pretty reasonably sized pieces of chicken. Very meaty and tender which was a little surprising to me. I like the mildly spicy seasoning and touch of lemongrass. This is perfect for sharing. Not bad.


Tiramisu ($88), 7/10
I thought dessert was outstanding. This is a perfectly executed tiramisu - soft but not too foamy. Rich but not too sweet and just the right touch of liquor.  

Rum Chocolate pudding with red berries ($88), 7/10

My departing colleague picked the rum chocolate pudding with mixed berries. At first, I thought the chocolate flavors would be too rich but no, it was perfect. As a matter of fact, it felt like we were eating a chocolate flavored panna cotta but with a slightly firmer texture. And the rum was the key, giving it a very exciting kick.

Now I saw the difference between the Wanchai and Tsim Sha Tsui branch. I will continue not going to the TST one but this one is back in good terms with me.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 6/F Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2877-3999

Monday, April 27, 2015

BLT Burger (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I have been eating out a lot this past week and on Monday, it's another date with my high school buddies. We decided not to have a fancy meal and instead went with some good old American burgers at BLT!

Lucky for us, they just finished their renovation in the nick of time. I decided not to have beef tonight and their salmon burger looked like the perfect fit for me.
Atlantic salmon (medium) with avocado, red onion, arugula and a special zesty-Cayenne tartar sauce on an onion bun ($98). Wow that was gooooddd.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop OT301-301A, 3/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2730-2338

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chips Republic Café (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Touted as specialists in chips, gourmet burgers, fish and chips and handmade milkshakes, Chips Republic Café is a fast food restaurant tucked besides the Grand Cinema at the Elements Shopping Mall.

We were catching "The Avengers 2" this afternoon and had about 20 minutes to spare before the start of the movie. Based on location, there's really no better option than Chips Republic Café for a quick lunch.

Vanilla milkshake - the perfect companion for my burger. Very rich and smooth. I love it~


Chicken wings with BBQ sauce - these were a little disappointing. Very dry. Should have gone for the fish bites instead.

Bacon cheese burger with fries - I had high hope for their gourmet burger having heard all the raving reviews. And they do have a pretty good one here. The patty which was handmade with 100% Angus beef, was very tender and juicy. It's easily better than the ones I recently had in Burger Circus, Beef and Liberty etc.

I was hoping to get my hands dirty with their special black truffle cheese fries this afternoon but there was a voice inside me that kept reminding how I was supposed to stay away from greasy stuff (according to my doctor) and I did good holding off that thought (for now).

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 2132, 2/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kowloon Station
Tel: +852 2581-1887

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SAAM (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Guys night out tonight. I must admit I have always enjoyed dining out with my buddy V who knows more than a thing or two about the local dining scene. With him picking our dining destination, I know for sure I am in very capable hands.

His pick for tonight is SAAM. Located on the hilly Graham Street in Central / Soho, SAAM  is a little difficult to describe but I would call it a melting pot of different cuisine. 

Owner-chef Patrick Dang's name looked awfully familiar. As it turns out, he has recently helmed Cocotte and worked at Mo Bar (2005-06). Apart from Hong Kong, the well-traveled chef has also been around Shanghai and different regions of Australia.

I did my homework on the name of the restaurant before coming here. It means “together” in Afrikaans. Let's hope everything would be "coming together" nicely this evening.

There are two prix-fixe menus available on this night, $488 for 3 courses and $688 for 6 courses. We decided to explore Chef Dang's cuisine in greater lengths so the 6-course menu was what we ended up having.

Before dinner officially started, we were offered a basket of Turkish bread together with a nice dipping sauce made of white beans, yogurt and wine. That's pretty decent.

Our first nibble was a black olive gazpacho. I was a little misled by its clear color which got me thinking it would be very light but it ended up being the exact opposite. Pretty intense and carrying a good depth of flavor.

A further amuse bouche followed - a pan seared scallop with salmon roes, lime juice and a touch of wasabi. A very simple nibble that was well thought and designed. Not bad at all.

Now that our palates were warmed up, it's time to get serious. First up was one of the chef's latest hits - cuttlefish noodle with Canadian sea urchin, mentaiko, salmon roes and seaweed in a warm yuzu foam. The sea urchin was probably not among the best we've ever tasted but it was working magic with the cuttlefish noodle, salmon roes, seaweed and yuzu. A very impressive dish (7.5/10).


Our second starter was veal tataki served with cauliflower, osetra caviar and radish. I thought I heard our server mentioning cauliflower consommé but we couldn't find it anywhere on the plate. This was decent and I especially enjoyed the crispy potato on top giving the dish a lot of bite (5/10).


I loooovvveeee white asparagus so I was really looking forward to this dish. White asparagus was wrapped nicely with savory country ham and the mélange with morel mushrooms, tarragon, green peas and potato foam added an interesting spin to the mix (5.5/10).


Neither V nor I is a fan of fish but we both agreed that this line caught bass grouper from New Zealand tasted better than it looked (or smelled). Of course, it didn't hurt to have a strong supporting cast too, with crabbrandade, piquillo, artichoke and sherry doing the honor (6/10).

Our last savory dish was the Australian Ranger Valley Wagyu beef that was served medium. The meat was very tender and juicy although slightly lacking flavors if we wanted to be picky. The only knock was perhaps the zucchini and cottage pie as they looked a little out of place sitting next to the Wagyu (6/10).

We can each pick one dessert from the list of three and I went with the 70% Guanaja chocolate pudding with salted caramel, hazelnut and black berry. This looked like something we had at Liberty Private Works not too long ago. Very nice contrasting flavors (6.5/10).

Coconut pavlova with textured coconut, mango, lime and yogurt was the one to pick if you're into more refreshing flavors (5.5/10).

This was a very interesting dinner indeed. There were certainly some bright spots here and there. Although I couldn't single out a dish that managed to wow us (apart from the cuttlefish noodle perhaps), I thought everything was technically sound. Service was also very good from start to finish, which I found slightly surprising from a small place hidden in the quiet Graham Street. To sum it up, this is a real sleeper and a pretty good place for a reasonably priced prix-fixe menu ($688).

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, 51 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central / Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2645-9828

Monday, April 20, 2015

Patisserie Uriwari 瓜破 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

My first experience with an online cake shop......well it was a pretty decent one. Located at Wah Tat Industrial Cente in Kwai Chung, Patisserie Uriwari (瓜破) offers a good selection of cakes with Japanese influences.

We went with "M" (no, it's not the Head of Secret Intelligence Service in the James Bond movie), a multi-layered cake with raspberry mousse, almond cake, chocolate cream and lime mousse ($248 for 1lb).

The texture felt a lot like a French opera cake but a little more spongy. Not bad.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Room 1408, Block C, Wah Tat Industrial Center, 8-10 Wah Sing Street, Kwai Chung, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2135-6705


French Window Brasserie and Bar (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

We were deeply saddened when we first learned that Chef Mickael Le Calvez was leaving French Window back in 2011. Under his guidance, we all thought they had something going there but unfortunately that didn't last very long.

So out goes the fine dining version of French Window and in comes French Window Brasserie and Bar at the same space with the same view. The only difference is the person at the helm. Chef Matthieu Bonnier, from Nantes France, took over in 2012 and had the restaurant transiting nicely into a modern French brasserie.

I have always enjoyed the ambiance here, especially with the impeccable view. On this night, we could even see the 60-metre high Ferris Wheel right from our table.

They made some minor modifications to the dining room but for the most part, it looked largely the same as five years ago when we made our last visit.

I did what I would do when I walked into a French brasserie in France - got ourselves some escargots. The herbs and garlic gratinated snails ($118) was a very good starter to kick things off at French Window. The herbs and garlic were so deliciously flavorful that I almost used up all our bread to dip into it (6.5/10)!

But crab cake with celery and apple salad ($168) proved to be even better. The super thin coating was very crispy and that worked exceptionally well with the crab meat and black truffle mayo (8/10).

The size of these pan fried scallops ($238) really caught me off guard. Although I was not expecting Hokkaido scallops, I certainly did not expect them to be the size of a five-dollar coin. But on the bright side, I did enjoy the saffron cream sauce that was the perfect match for these scallops (5/10).

Less successful was the crunchy suckling pig ($338) with dauphinoise gratin, braised endive and creamed mustard gravy (4/10).


Mixed forest berries with champagne sabayon ($98) was our lone dessert of the night. While I was hoping the champagne sabayon would come as a light custard, it ended up being just a sauce to go with the mixed berries (4/10).


Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 3101, Podium Level 3, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2393-3812