Sunday, August 30, 2015

Le Café de Joël Robuchon (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

When it comes to exquisite French pastries in Hong Kong, nobody has a better pedigree than Le Café de Joël Robuchon although competitions have been heating up in recent years.

Let's see what I am getting for my snack attack tonight.

Blueberry yogurt cake - This felt a lot like having a traditional blueberry cheesecake but in a lighter way. That soft and creamy texture was so addictive!

Rose cake with strawberry and lychee - Very similar to the blueberry yogurt cake but they traded the blueberry and cream cheese with strawberry and lychee. Nice contrast between those two flavors.

White chocolate stick with a hint of passion fruit - Very refreshing and we did well to arrange this till the very end to get our taste buds ready. The sweetness of the white chocolate was working well with the acidity from the passion fruit. Lovely stuff.

They don't change things around very often here so I was again unsuccessful in finding something new that I haven't tried before. But as always, it was great to get reacquainted with some of these familiar flavors.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 2608-2610, Level 2, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2327-5711


Jamie's Italian at Harbour City (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Having arrived here at Jamie's Italian at around 4:45pm, I am still trying to figure out whether this is going to be afternoon tea or early dinner for me.

This is just my second time here but I pretty much know all about their all-day menu by now.

Portobello mushroom fritti ($68) - Crispy breadcrumbed portobello mushrooms and garlicky mayo. My second time ordering this appetizer. Just love those bread crumbs to go with the sliced portobello mushroom. Best way to start your meal here.

Chicken Caesar salad ($148) - Crispy chicken breast and thigh, green salad and crunchy croutons in a creamy lemony dressing. I always enjoy Jamie Oliver's salads and they have a pretty good one here in their chicken Caesar. The romaine lettuce was so sweet and refreshing. My only complaint was the lemony dressing being a little bit too strong.

Mussel and squid spaghetti Nero ($108) - Squid-ink pasta, flash-fried squid and mussels with slow-cooked, tender octopus, capers, anchovies, tomatoes and white wine. You can't possibly claim to have eaten here without trying one of their signature pastas out. Mom decided to take on the squid-ink spaghetti. Slightly overrated she said.

Wild Truffle Risotto ($88) - Finely minced black winter truffle with butter and parmesan. First time I had their risotto and thought it was pretty nice. Lovely fragrance coming from the truffles, butter and parmesan there. 

For anyone that reads this blog, you know what I am going to say about Jamie's Italian's dessert. Boring, uninspiring and difficult to choose I decided to just head over to Dalloyau instead.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 3758-3333

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Issaya Siamese Club (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Issaya Siamese Club was one that got slipped away during our Bangkok trip in January. I was really looking forward to having a great meal there. But despite securing a booking way before our trip, we ended up failing to locate the famed restaurant even with the help of a GPS. So when I heard about this 39th rank restaurant in Asia (according to the 2015 Asia Best 50 Restaurants award by San Pellegrino) opening in Hong Kong this month, I decided to jump all over it.

Perched on the 25th floor of the Soundwill Plaza II (Midtown), it was natural to expect some sort of harbour view from this new establishment but what I didn't realize was that the new building directly opposite to Soundwill Plaza II (I think it's called V-Point) has already finished its development and it's completely blocking the view!

OK, so no view from the window but I must say, I have been very impressed with the décor of this 150-seater the moment I stepped through the doors.

This place also features 2 private rooms and an outdoor terrace. There was no view from the private room neither but love the fact that it's so bright and airy.

Ian Kittichai, chef and co-founder of Issaya, was also on hand (in white shirt, sitting at the sofa) during the opening week to train up the local team ahead of the grand opening.

I started things off with a glass of Thai iced milk tea but surprisingly it was not nearly sweet enough (one at Greyhound tasted slightly better).

We decided to explore the set as well as a la carte menu here. This pomelo salad came with the set ($178) and look at that presentation. So adorable~ 

Our server quickly transferred the pomelo salad over the plate before putting them together with the seared tiger prawns and hard boiled egg. They did an admirable job tearing the pomelo into bits and pieces and the red chili dressing was simply amazing. Very refreshing start!

Another starter from the set menu was the slow cooked duck leg, with tropical fruit and roasted cashew nuts in long red chili pepper dressing. The duck meat was pretty succulent having been slow-cooked for hours but the seasoning was a little too mild comparing to the previous dish. Still not bad. 

"Issaya-spiced" Australian chicken was next. This was rubbed and pan seared with herbs and a special coconut turmeric sauce. It was so tender and flavorful, definitely my favorite dish of the afternoon.


A little less successful was the tiger prawns sautéed in a house blended pepper-holy basil sauce. Don't get me wrong, these tiger prawns were fairly tasty but it just didn't blow us away like it did with the chicken.


We could definitely use some rice to go with the chicken and tiger prawns. This wok sautéed short grain rice from the set was exactly what the doctor ordered. What a perfect way to offset the spiciness of the main dishes.


When I first opened the rice container, I immediately smelt what I thought was truffle oil in there but no, it was mushroom-scented oil to go with some corns, grains, Chang mai mushrooms and garlic. Very nice way to finish off the set lunch.

But this was a tale of the two cities. After a strong showing from the set menu, things dropped off considerably with the a la carte menu (especially dessert) starting with the coconut creme brulee with wok-sauteed chopped chicken, galangal and kaffir lime leaves.

This tasted like a flour pastry with minced chicken and coconut juice on top but nothing more. Decent but unspectacular.

We waited a long time for this and at one point, thought they have forgotten about it - Australian veal cheek simmered in house blended spices, hand pressed coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. I was pretty sure there was some red curry in there too.

The portion was a little small for a main course but I like the mix of rich and complex flavors. The cheek was very soft and silky too.


After all those meat and seafood, of course we had to get some greens to balance it out - wok fried Chinese young broccoli with bird's eye chili, garlic and soy sauce.

Dessert was where they've lost us. Having experienced all the wonderful creations from Ian's Issaya La Patisserie at Central Embassy back in Bangkok, our expectation was riding a little high and we just didn't realize the wheels were about to fall off from here.

Issaya assorted petite-fours ($85) - in a typical French meal, this is supposed to be free so charging us $85 for a pair of marshmallow, toffee candy, macarons, jelly candy and cookies was just outright ridiculous.

Smoked coconut cheesecake with citrus compote and tropical fruit foam ($85) - They put something like a cigar in there to create this smoky effect but it felt more like a show. I wish they could have just forget about those flashy stuff and simply focus on how to make these cakes more tasty!

The set lunch definitely represents the best value for money (a starter, a main+rice and a drink at $178) and is the way to go here. Dessert is a largely forgettable experience so until they find a quick fix, I would probably stick with their set lunch for the time being.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 25/F Soundwill Plaza II - Midtown, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2154-3048

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fine Foods (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

For someone who's been following Fine Foods as long as I have, I find it hard to believe that I am actually having afternoon tea here for the very first time. Yes, a first timer!

Over the years, they have always been very successful in spoiling me with all their lovely creations and sure enough, they can always be counted on for something new and innovative every other month. 

Like this fried egg sunny side up on top of a giant piece of spam. WOW! Just feed me this any day of the week please! 

Well, this is actually one of their new pastries made with mango and milk chocolate mousse. The exotic flavor from the mango works pretty well with the light chocolate mousse. This was seriously good.

I quickly checked out the traditional tiramisu from my sister who happened to be in town this month. Good, but not as tasty as my mango and milk chocolate mousse cake I am afraid.

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Lobby Level, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui East
Tel: +852 2733-2045

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Spring Moon 嘉麟樓 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

After enjoying some exquisite dim sum at Greater China Club 大公館 last Sunday, I found myself craving for more dim sum this weekend. But it's a little too early to go back there again so I decided to go with one of my all-time favorites instead.

Mid autumn festival is often the time when we thought about Spring Moon (嘉麟樓), largely because of their famous moon cakes but I know I can always count on their dim sum too. 

The place was pretty packed but fortunately I made this reservation a couple of days in advance. 

I've always said they have got the best honey roasted walnuts in town.

Baked barbecued pork puffs (叉燒酥) ($57) - One of my personal favorites here.

The pastry was very crispy and mouthwatering as was often the case but I thought the portion of pork and sauce was a little light on this afternoon. What I've always enjoyed about these pork puffs was the way the BBQ pork sauce oozed out on my first bite but somehow that part was missing today (7/10).

Pan fried rice flour rolls with XO chili sauce (XO 醬炒蝦米腸) ($88) - I am never a big fan of this dish but this was pretty good. Nice and soft with the perfect touch of XO chili sauce (6.5/10).

Crispy rolls filled with fresh crab meat (生拆蟹肉金網卷) ($57) - My very first time having this dish and it was another solid offering. Love the fresh crab meat together with the thin and flaky wrap. Very nice (7/10).  

Golden mashed taro with diced abalone, chicken and black mushrooms (鮑魚雞粒芋角) ($63) - Another one of my favorites here but this time around, it didn't have the usual flaky texture. Definitely the most disappointing dish on the afternoon (4/10).

Steamed pork and shrimp dumplings with crab roe (蟹籽大蝦燒賣) ($57) - Pretty tasty and the shrimp was absolutely huge (6.5/10).

Crispy chicken smoked with tea leaves (
茶皇煙燻脆皮雞) ($260) - That was it for dim sum as we moved onto other dishes starting with their signature crispy chicken. The chicken was very tender but I thought the smoky scent from the tea leaves was a little heavy for me (6/10).

Braised e-fu noodles with fish maw and conpoy (
花膠瑤柱炆伊麵) ($270) - We had the house special fried vermicelli with crab meat and egg last time and thought it was good but not great. This time, we decided to try our luck on their braised e-fu noodles with fish maw and dried scallops.

Is it just me and were these e-fu noodles slightly thicker than the typical ones we had? Anyways, this was pretty delicious. The noodles were flavorful with just the right balance of seasoning. Thought the bite was good but would have been even better if there's a little more fish maw in it (7/10).

Steamed red date cake flavored with coconut (乾清棗皇糕)
($54) - This was how we usually end a lunch at Spring Moon, a nice basket of steamed red date cake with coconut. Very rich and intense flavors of red dates. Love it (8/10).

For whatever reason, I was less satisfied than I usually was walking out of those doors today. Was the food good like it usually was? Absolutely. But was there an element of surprise from the menu? Not really. As a matter of fact, it's been the same old dim sum menu all over again and quite honestly, I had trouble picking out the items I really like. I think they should take a serious look at their food menu again and try to breath some new life in there. 

Food for thought: Perhaps with something more interesting and innovative like they have at Greater China Club (大公館)?

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2696-6760