Friday, July 31, 2015

Yat Lok Roast Goose 一樂燒鵝 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Roast goose was a major hit in the 2015 Michelin Guide for Hong Kong with Kam's Roast Goose and Yat Lok (一樂燒鵝) claiming their Michelin star for the very first time. I know Kam's Roast Goose very well due to a very special reason but personally I have never eaten at Yat Lok before despite many friends raving about this place. So this visit has been long overdue.

I arrived at Yat Lok at roughly 4:45pm and it was already jam packed with customers, most of whom were tourists from different parts of the world. Talk about the power of the Michelin Guide.

I was too busy talking on the phone and have totally forgotten to ask for the lower quarter (下庄) which was mistake on my part. But even without specifying my preference, the meat was still pretty decent. A little drier than what I was accustomed to but flavorful enough.

Also had some char siu with rice noodles. This was quite lean, which I often didn't like but it was tender and that kind of make up for it. Still prefer some honey on top like they did it at Joy Hing (再興).

Is the roasted goose tasty? Oh yes. But was it any better than the ones from Yue Kee Roasted Goose (深井裕記) or anyone else at Sham Tseng? Personally, I couldn't tell the difference to be brutally honest.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2524-3882

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hello Kitty Le Petit Café (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I thought I have seen the last of the "Kitty" a couple of months ago at the Hello Kitty Chinese Restaurant but it creeped up on me again this evening. OK, I am talking about the new Hello Kitty Le Petit Café on Hart Avenue in Tsim Sha Tsui.

As I've already confessed, I am not a fan of the Kitty but someone I know is a huge fan and so I decided to check out the little café for her.

Although ice-cream and macarons are their biggest sellers at the moment, the only thing I am interested in trying was their pastry, which didn't look too promising at all.

But I did end up getting two of them just to satisfy my curiosity. 

The mango mousse cake ($68) with a simple sponge was alright. Nothing really to write home about.

I thought more successful was this green apple cheesecake ($48) with cream cheese, apple compote and a layer of green apple gel on the outside. Pretty refreshing although definitely not the same quality as ones coming from the big boys such as Passion by Gérard Dubois.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 1, G/F, 2A Hart Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: +852 2320-6808

Yayakiya (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I have been tracking Lifestyle Asia's 10 hot new restaurants to try in July for a while now and since August is just around the corner, I thought I should re-visit the list again to see what I've missed. And that's when I saw Yayakiya.

Yayakiya is a modern yakitori bar brought to us by the folks behind Rustico and Umai in Lai Chi Kok. Yes, Lai Chi Kok you read it right. Obviously business has been so good that they decided to invade Tsim Sha Tsui with this latest yakitori bar in an area that used to be filled with bars.

I am no Einstein so I have no clue whether this yakitori bar would hit the ground running or not. But one thing I do know, is that they have a pretty good food menu that covers more than just skewers (sushi and fresh oysters as well!).

If I am dining at a familiar yakitori place like Nishiki, I would most definitely take the bar table but these seats looked a little lonely on this evening so I decided to pass.

Before my skewers arrive, they first brought me a plate of shredded cabbage and some mustard sauce. Oh and some words of advice.....that they would be placing my skewers on this bed of cabbage and once it absorbed all the fragrance, I could have it along with the meat. Sounds like a plan to me.

First up, ox tongue on a skewer ($28) - not the thickest one I had but pretty good. Tender and juicy, that's always a good combo (6/10).

Hakata Mentaiko spicy cod roe pork belly roll skewer ($28) - there's a lot of stuff in there. Pork belly, spicy cod roe and some beefsteak plant or basil sauce (or both).  Not bad but the beefsteak plant or basil was a little too overpowering at times (5/10).

Homemade chicken meat stick with egg yolk ($31) - a house specialty here and one of my favorite picks at any yakitori joint but this one was very very flat. I like the additional of chicken soft bones in there but it's not nearly meaty enough.

They do have another version with salt and pepper but I doubt that it's any better. All in all, very disappointing (3/10).

Traditional Fukuoka burdock tempura udon ($55) - I like this one. The broth was rich and flavorful and the udon noodles were nicely prepared with fresh seaweed and burdock tempura. Very good to go with any skewers (6.5/10).

I was still hungry so I went for more. Kagoshima A4 wagyu beef skewer ($65) - not too marbled but it had that melt-in-your-mouth texture. Love the fact that they only put in a minimal amount of sea salt. Very delicious and definitely the best dish of the night (7/10).

Deep fried Kyoto tofu ($19) - Another very disappointing dish. They put the "signature dish" logo right next to it so my expectation was high but very bland and flavorless (2.5/10).

A bit of mixed bag on this one but due to the location, I would probably be back some other time.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, 29-31 Chatham Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: +852 2723-9833

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Madam Sixty Ate (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Like many friends I know, I was devastated with the closing of The Principal. A bit shocked too I might add. It wasn't that long ago when the restaurant raved about capturing their second Michelin star but in only 6 months, they decided to throw in the white towel ending a great run under the guidance of Executive Chef Jonay Armas. Very sad indeed.

What that meant to me was more than just losing my favorite lunch spot in Wanchai. It's an alarming fact that even some of the best restaurants in town could no longer afford the rising rents. To me, that was the more concerning part.

So from now on, Restaurant Akrame takes over as my No.1 in Wanchai. But having just visited them not too long ago, I decided to go with other places this afternoon, places I've not visited for a long long time - Madam Sixty Ate or The Pawn? 

After checking out the menu at the Pawn, I decided to visit Madam Sixty Ate instead. (Too much fish on the menu for me.)

Looks like poor business was everywhere in Wanchai. Still recalled Madam Sixty Ate as one of the more popular choices for lunch back in their hay days but now just one table at 12:45pm on a weekday. WTF?? That was incredible. Incredibly sad.

I've always enjoyed dining at this spacious dining room. The design was very modern and elegant.

After an underwhelming piece of bread, things began to turn around for me. I was in love with my starter the moment it arrived. A lovely duo of seared scallops with cauliflower cous cous, spiced corn, black garlic gel, almond and parsley. The scallops were a little more than half cooked, which was exactly the way I wanted. The cauliflower and black garlic were great matches for the sweetness of the scallops. And the spiced corn? Were they really corn puree? Tasted a lot like artichoke to me but surprisingly well matched with the rest of the ingredients. This was a well-designed dish. Well done (7/10).

For main course, I went with their seared sea bass with confit tomato and pickled fennel. That was alright but not finger licking good. I did like the sauce which was made with egg yolk, fish stock and roasted garlic. Very rich and refreshing which was quite ideal to go with the sea bass (5/10).

I was going to leave without dessert but somehow I found room under my belly for dessert like I always did (for dessert only). This was a simple dish of chocolate panna cotta served with strawberry parfait and chocolate powder. Found it a little interesting that they made the panna cotta in stripes. I thought it was "serviceable" (4.5/10).

It's been a while since I last visited Madam Sixty Ate's Wanchai branch. I thought the ambiance was still very relaxed and enjoyable so of course I was a little disappointed to see the small crowd here. Will they follow the same fate of The Principal? Let's hope not.

PS. Rumors now have Giando moving from their Fenwick Pier location to Star Street to take up the vacant spot by The Principal. Stay tuned.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: J Senses, 60 Johnston Road, 1/F, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2527-2558

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fofo by el Willy (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Fofo by el Willy was the place where I got my first taste of contemporary Spanish cuisine many years ago.

With the ever-expanding Spanish food scene in Hong Kong, it's easy to forget that this place used to be one of the first pioneers but with all the stiff competitions in recent years, we've forgotten about them. Well, at least I did. 

It was nice to see that they've added to their already impressive food menu recently. This was one of the new items I jumped all over - Explosive smoked salmon air bag with sour cream and spring onion ($30).

The name certainly implied "molecular gastronomy" with the word explosive but it was hardly that, as confirmed with my first and subsequent bites. The salmon was OK but no smokey flavors I am afraid (4/10).

Ever since the closing of Numero 15, I had a hard time finding a Spanish place with a solid mini-burger. This spicy suckling pig brioche with red onions, chipotte chili and pickles ($40) was again slightly disappointing (4/10).

Finally, we had something to cheer about - Spanish red prawn with baby tomatoes, coriander, jalapeno, mashed potatoes and jus ($88). The red prawns were seared to perfection and the flavors just got better with the diced tomatoes, mashed potatoes and juice from the prawns' heads. It would have been perfect if the dish was served a little warmer (at least lukewarm) (6/10).

Boston lobster bisque with lobster and crispy bread ($85) - very rich and strong flavors with tons of lobster meat. Nicely done (6.5/10).

Iberico pork, chorizo, prawns juicy rice ($250) - We got more prawns ahead with this "prawns juicy" rice. Wow what a name (directly from the menu)!

This was a lot more soupy than the typical Spanish paella with the sauce (or juice) tasting 90% like the previous lobster bisque. I like this dish a lot. The rice had very exciting bite and the sauce, along with the Iberico pork and spicy chorizo had added another dimension to the mix. A little soupy yes but very good (7/10). 

I was craving for a good Catalan cream and inadvertently went with the Creme caramel, which was served with strawberries and cream ($50). Not bad but I like it to be a little softer (5/10).

A little disappointed with the first two nibbles but happy the rest of the way. I look forward to coming back here very soon.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 20/F M88, 2-8 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2900-2009


Friday, July 17, 2015

Lady M (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

It looks like the third time is really going to be a charm today. After missing out on Lady M twice this week, I wasn't going to be denied again. Of course waking up early would be the key and waking up early I did for a crack at the hottest pastry shop in town. 

I arrived at approximately 11:30am and finally got a seat at this newly opened tea room from New York in just 15 minutes. The wait is officially over and it's time to bring on all their signature pastries all in one go.

I must admit I am no expert in crepe cakes but these ones at Lady M looked pretty darn good. Each layer of crepes was accompanied by a layer of fresh cream and the result was the undeniably soft, smooth and moist texture.

The signature mille crêpes ($68) was definitely a must-try here and it was well worth the heavy price tag. Light, smooth and very delicate (7/10).

Look at those paper thin handmade crêpes layered with vanilla cream. Yum!

I thought I wasn't going to get 2 mille crêpes on the same day but then again, what the heck. The green tea mille crêpes ($75) had more or less the same texture but came with a super rich green tea flavor thanks to the green tea cream from each layer and of course the green tea powder on top. Perfect if you're into green tea (6.5/10).

Lastly we had their banana mille feuille ($68) but it was just OK. Underneath the crispy puff pastry were layers of cream, vanilla sponge cake and fresh banana (5/10).

They had to do something with their drinks though. I had the iced tea with milk ($42) and it tasted more like water.

I am wondering how long this hype would last. Another one or two weeks perhaps?

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop OT 215K, 2/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 17 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2873-2356

Monday, July 13, 2015

CIAK In the Kitchen (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I was having lunch all by myself again in Central and despite a decent lunch at Tosca last week, I thought I still owed it to myself to enjoy another Michelin starred meal as an reward for my hard work in recent weeks. But at 1pm, where can I find a good place with empty seats? 

Of course CIAK In the Kitchen would be absolutely packed by now but perhaps they would have a seat available at the bar table? 

Hurrah~ got the front row seat I wanted right down Broadway.

I have always liked to dine here with or without the Michelin star but I noticed they haven't changed their lunch menu much these days. Pan fried cod fish with cherry tomatoes, fettuccine with king prawns and tomato as well as lamb chops. This is pretty much the same menu we had in our previous visits. Complacency?

Bread was OK but slightly on the hard side.

For starter, I went with their parma ham with Sicilian melon. Are the melons sweeter on the other side of the world? Evidently yes and they were so rich and juicy. The ham was nice and flavorful.

I was picking between the cod fish and fettuccine, both I tried on different occasions and finally ended up taking the fettuccine after reading the sign here that said "the best pasta in town".

I knew I could always trust their homemade pasta. Very good bite as always but the lobster bisque style sauce was a little too "predictable" though. Like I've said before, time to change up the menu a bit.

After lunch, I decided to check out their pasticceria corner for the first time.

My sweet tooth came calling the last few nights so I ended up grabbing a couple of these pastries for its sake.

Their pistachio mousse (green) and lychee mousse with raspberry (pink) were both nicely decorated and tasted equally good. But as a long-time fan of pistachio, it came with very little surprise that I've enjoyed the pistachio mousse a bit more.


Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 327-333, 3/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2522-8869