Monday, February 29, 2016

Kam Fung Restaurant 金鳳茶餐廳 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

While I was in the neigbhorhood to check out Blue Brick Bistro, I decided to also drop by 
Kam Fung Cafe (金鳳茶餐廳) to see if they still have one of the best silk stocking milk tea in Hong Kong.

The tea was really strong but not enough milk to strike the right balance for me.

I didn't get the chance to try their signature pineapple buns which were always served with a thick slab of butter today. Until next time then!

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$
Address: G/F, Spring Garden Mansion, 41 Spring Garden Lane, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2572-0526

Blue Brick Bistro by Yoku Moku HongKong (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

It was not long ago when the Japanese luxury confectionery brand, Yoku Moku, first landed in Hong Kong offering us some fine selection of cakes and cookies including their signature "Cigare" cookies. In late 2015, they decided to launch their line of casual bistro and they picked the right place to do it too at the newly renovated Lee Tung Avenue where the old "Wedding Card Street" used to be.

Blue Brick Bistro in Wan Chai marks the very first Yoku Moku restaurant opening outside of Japan. The food menu promises a great deal of Japanese ingredients but prepared and cooked using modern European cooking techniques. Knowing there's always a lot of things to smooth out in the first month of operation, I decided to wait it out before coming to check them out up close and personal this week.

This ambiance has "fine dining" written all over it but a casual 4-course lunch only costs $118. Is this too good to be true!?

Our afternoon at Blue Brick all started with a cup of bean soup. It tasted pretty beany and that's about all I could remember.

Out of the five main dishes, I chose the confit sea bass fillet with sesame, asparagus and miso foam. This was a decent dish with the most interesting component being the miso foam but the rest wasn't particularly exciting.

Dessert was a scoop of red bean ice-cream and of course tea or coffee was also included.

Just when I was enjoying my scoop of ice-cream, I suddenly remembered this was supposed to be a 4-course set so where's my starter (smoked salmon) which should be served in front of the soup?

So I called our server over and let him know the terrible blunder and after trying to convince me to take a refund on that part of the meal without success, he disappointingly went to the kitchen and inform his colleagues of their misfortune. After waiting for another 10 minutes, my starter was finally ready to be served. Smoked salmon with red radish salad dressed like a bouquet of flowers and showered in a honey mustard dressing. Hm....

Nice to see that their signature rolled butter cookies were also part of the set. Not bad.

Despite the additional waiting time for the missing starter, we still got enough time to walk around the street and that was when we spotted this new bakery which had this "internal training" sign on. Turns out the name of the new place is called Le Pain Quotidien Bakery and Restaurant, Belgium-based bakery and cafe ready to be launched in a few days. Wow, I am looking forward to their pastries already!

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$
Address: Shop G35, G/F, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2865-0355

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cobo House by 2am: Dessert Bar (Hong Kong) ★★★★☆

Shek Tong Tsui has just gotten a lot more exciting with the recent opening of Artisan Room and Cobo House. Cobo House, the newest addition to the district's food scene, is an all-day dining restaurant helmed by Janice Wong, an award-winning pastry chef from 2am Dessert Bar in Singapore. Chef Janice's shot to fame can largely be attributed to her consecutive "Asia’s Best Pastry Chef awards" (2013 and 2014) at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and since then, she has never looked back.

Trained under some of the best (ie. Grant Achatz, Pierre Hermé etc.) in the business certainly didn't hurt her stock and Cobo House by 2am: Dessert Bar marked her first overseas opening outside Singapore.

And what would a dessert bar be without a sleek, modern and cool counter area?

All the drinks from the drink menu are available with the tip of my finger.

They have this really interesting portfolio of dessert-inspired tea that includes some funky tea flavors such as creme brulee and chocolate mint truffle but I decided to go with this one, Toffee Popcorn ($60). Unfortunately, I couldn't exactly tell whether it's toffee and/or popcorn flavors in there.

The ball gets rolling with one of Chef Janice's signature desserts, Tsujirihei Green Tea Tart ($108) beautifully decorated with Kyoto green tea, jasmine rice sherbet and persimmon jelly.

Matcha lovers will be delighted with this one featuring silky green tea ganache and lovely jasmine rice sherbet.

Less successful was the other house specialty, Cassis Plum ($138), a combo of cassis bombe, elderflower yoghurt foam, choya granita and yuzu pearls.

A little too much acidity was the culprit here and not enough sweetness to balance it out.

Finally, I went with their Red Miso Caramel ($108) to close things out. On paper they got something quite special in this marriage between miso and caramel and the result was pretty compelling. Mustard yuzu meringue, miso foam and miso yuzu liquid nitrogen ice-cream are the three key components here resulting in the contrasting texture and temperature. Definitely worth the try.

I was ready to ask for the bill but a last-minute peek into the snack menu changed my mind. At the end, I decided to sample one snack before I go and Kimchi fried chicken ($88) was the easy choice for a koreaboo like me.

Kimchi marinated chicken was deep fried to perfection before they wrapped thing up with a kimchi gel, wasabi mayo and home grown wasabi leaf atop. The combination of flavors was excellent; coupled that with the crispy batter and we got here a very nice dish!

I am really looking forward to seeing their full blown savory food menu served at lunch and dinner sometime in early March. Stay tuned.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F & 1/F, 8-12 South Lane, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: HKU
Tel: +852 2656-3088

Café Malacca 馬來一菜館 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Two of my former bosses played a big role in introducing me to the art of Singaporean cuisine and that was when I first opened my mind to the appreciation of spicy food. A lot of years have passed me by and I remained a true fan of Singaporean food although good Singaporean restaurants have always been of short supply in Hong Kong. For the best Singaporean (or Malaysian) dishes in town, I often choose Satay Inn and sometimes Sabah but ever since Café Malacca (馬來一菜館) opened in Hotel Jen last year, I have always been curious about this place. So I know it's just a matter of time before my patience runs out to make my long anticipated trip to Sai Wan. 

I swear at least half of the Singaporean community in Hong Kong were here so this place must be very good, right? Well, at least I could expect some really authentic Singaporean food I am sure.

No Singaporean meal is ever complete without the fried carrot cake ($68) and that's how it all started. I thought the texture was OK and it tasted pretty authentic to me but it was nowhere near the ones served at Satay Inn.

Penang Char Kway Teow ($92) was next and I have to say, it's probably the best dish of the afternoon. But again in my opinion, nothing comparing to Satay Inn's version.

I was taking the time to enjoy a cup of Teh tarik (literally "pulled tea") before the rest of the dishes arrive. 

Chicken Satay ($98) with tiny pieces of chicken fillet hanging onto each skewer was yet another disappointing dish for us. There wasn't much flavor coming from the chicken and even the aromatic peanut sauce couldn't cover that up.

And finally, Mee Goreng ($92) with spicy Indian style yellow noodles, prawns, bean curd, shredded lettuce and crispy fried shallots, wrapped up this lunch that really did not live up to the hype at all. 

I was expecting a lot more than that. We came all the way to Shek Tong Tsui expecting very delicious Singaporean and Malaysian food but came away largely disappointed. From now on, other than Satay Inn, I am not trusting anyone (when it comes to Singaporean food).

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Level 2, Hotel Jen Hong Kong, 508 Queen's Road West, Shek Tong Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: HKU
Tel: +852 2213-6613

Friday, February 26, 2016

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

It's nice to get a day off once in a while and I took the advantage of the opportunity to go do some shopping at Harbour City without the weekend crowd. But first, time to pick a spot for a quick lunch. Épure would be a nice fit but unfortunately that did not fit the bill for a quick meal so we ended up going to Jamie's Italian instead.

Didn't know they have this "Jamie's Super Lunch" offer on weekdays from noon to 6pm. It's a seriously good deal with 2-course starting at $128 and 3-course at $148 (only $20 more for dessert! WOW...). The deal looks too good to turn down.

Fritto mistocrispy fried fish and squid tossed in fennel spiced flour with garlic and lemon aioli. This tasted a lot like our own deep fried seafood "typhoon shelter" style (避風塘海鮮). Some of the crispy fried fish were a little fishy but the squid was OK. I like the garlic and lemon aioli though.

Truffle tagliatelle - handmade pasta in a luxurious, silky black truffle butter with aged parmesan, nutmeg and shaved black truffle. One of the house specialty supposingly. But the pasta wasn't done properly as half of it was still hard and undercooked. This was a complete fail especially considering that it's supposed to be a special dish here. 

Penne carbonaracrispy pancetta, sweet leeks and creamy parmesan sauce. Another pasta but this one was a main dish. I don't know how one could fail making a carbonara but this one also didn't get a passing grade from me because of one simple reason. I can make a BETTER carbonara than that at home! Yes! The parmesan sauce was really bland and even with the pancetta and shaved cheese, couldn't save the day.

Gennaro's chicken club sandwichsoft seeded bun stuffed with chargrilled marinated free-range chicken, crispy pancetta, spicy 'nduja mayo, fontal cheese, tomato and rocket leaves. A very busy dish with a lot of ingredients and out of the four savory dishes, the only one that managed to pass. The charcoal grilled chicken fillet was pretty nice and so were the soft-seeded bun, spicy mayo and fontal cheese.

Raspberry rippled pavlovalight and gooey meringue with whipped cream, macerated raspberries and smashed honeycomb. For $20 more, it's a huge bargain but pavlova is pavlova right? Not much surprises there.

Orange blossom polenta cake - light and fluffy polenta cake served with creme fraiche and pomegranate. This was as good as advertised. Light, fluffly, spongy and not too much acidity (from the orange). Easily the best dish of the meal.

I have been to Jamie's Italian on a number of occasions and often found them to be a fairly reliable source for some hearty comfort food so this was a big surprise for me. I did sense that because it's a set lunch, the cooking could be done by some of the less experienced chefs and that could explain all the hit-and-misses. If not for the two desserts, I am sure the food rating would be much much lower.

Food Rating: 3.5/10
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

Monday, February 22, 2016

Emack & Bolio's (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Of course just a quick lunch at Aberdeen Street Social won't keep me happy very long these days so afterwards I took a slow walk down to Cochrane Street for more sweet stuff.

Last time I visited Emack & Bolio's, the famed American ice-cream parlour had just arrived from United States and the place was totally packed with ladies but a few months removed from their grand opening, it's seen a lot quieter than expected. 

I really wanted to try their milkshake or better known as their Boston ice-cream frappe ($62) last time but opted to check out their special ice-cream cone instead. This time around, I made sure that I did lay hands on one of these babies.

Picking the caramel moose prints ice-cream for my milkshake seemed like the right choice. Very rich and buttery flavors coming from the caramel and peanut butter although the price was a little steep (comparing to other places like Chips Republic, Triple O's etc. but of course those were not made with ice-cream.).

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 26 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central / Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2505-6626


Aberdeen Street Social (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

It's been a rough few weeks for me so I decided to wander a little further for lunch this afternoon. There are a few intriguing options on my mind and after narrowing things down to ON Dining and Aberdeen Street Social, I wasted no time heading over to Central. I kept walking out of IFC until my feet stopped moving near the PMQ.

I've always been a huge admirer of Chef Jason Atherton's contemporary cuisine and it's a real shame that I didn't get to visit Aberdeen Street Social as often as I should.

As quick as I could roll my eyes, a little welcoming dish of nori crackers along with a nice loaf of bread (warm too!) was already waiting on deck. The nori crackers were really nice and crispy. Interesting to see how they pair it with a special squid-ink dip.

First up for me this afternoon was roasted scallops with apple crumble and parmesan cheese foam. I am not quite sure if apple crumble was the right term to describe this dish as I would rather call it an "apple lasagna". 

Anyways, they have this really delicious scallop, roasted to golden brown color, wrapped around with a "sheet" of granny smith apple. The acidity from the granny smith was perfect for the sweetness of the scallop and I love the parmesan cheese foam, crushed hazelnut and dill providing the finishing touch. What a way to start this meal!

It's going to take a lot to impress me with this second dish coz I've never been a big fan of fish but they managed to surprise me with a well executed dish of roasted halibut. The texture of the halibut was nice and buttery, the way I like it. The squid ink risotto was a touch over-seasoned but nevertheless a very enjoyable dish without a question.

For dessert, I was having the caramelized apple "lasagna" with black honey ice-cream, green apply jelly and hazelnuts. Not to be mistaken with my scallop dish earlier, this one also features granny smith and hazelnut. I thought it was quite a pleasant dish. Although I didn't quite see the lasagna in play, I did enjoy the mix of sweetness and acidity.

A very simple petite fours presented with this really strange-looking wooden container. 

I haven't had such an impressive meal for a while (mainly coz I haven't been out a lot lately). There was no doubt in my mind that I would be back here very shortly.

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$
Address: PMQ, 1/F, JPC, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central / Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2866-0300