Friday, May 27, 2016

Jerry Maguire Cocktails and Desserts (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I'm taking a rare Friday afternoon off to do some shopping for our home. I must admit, I enjoy shopping on a Friday a lot more than a typical weekend especially when we're talking about a buzzy district like Causeway Bay. After walking around the area under the heat for a few hours, I finally decided to throw in the white towel. Yeah, I badly needed a place to sit down and cool off. Looks like it's the perfect time to check out Jerry Maguire Cocktails and Desserts, which has recently soft opened on Lan Fong Street.   

Mixing desserts with cocktails seems to be the hippest thing in town these days. If you're looking for prime examples, look no further than VEA Lounge and Cobo House by 2am who have been very successful in implementing this approach. Jerry Maguire, a small cafe, cocktail bar and dessert bar all under the same roof, is also following in their footsteps.

Their signature dessert mocktail, Alice the Wonderland, kicked things off for me in dramatic fashion. This looks amazingly nice. Mint leaf, pineapple juice, elderflower and magic mushroom candy combined to deliver quite a cleansing and refreshing experience for someone who's badly dehydrated (Me).

Raspberry Tea Party featuring raspberry infused Earl Grey tea was supposed to be my second drink (or dessert mocktail) of the afternoon but our waitress came back and said they ran out of a certain ingredient while preparing this.

So I went back and forth with the drink menu. There were just 6 selections available so it's not like it will take me forever to make a decision. But our waitress was kind of losing patience and just wanted to get this over with.

At the end, I took her advice and ordered Sage Bubble as a replacement. This was one of the most regretful decision I've made recently. Sage leaf, lemon, elderflower and sprite were the primary ingredients in this one and quite honestly, it tasted like a normal sprite with lemon. A lot of acidity and I can't believe I'm paying $68 for this!

I'm guessing that they haven't got their alcohol license and that's why there're no dessert cocktails on their menu yet. Just dessert mocktails at the moment.

Their dessert collections are supposed to be amazing but after reading through the menu, I really couldn't find anything exciting there.

I mean, all these painting-like desserts (think ATUM) look great and are definitely Instagram worthy especially for the ladies, but they do very little for my taste buds. So generally, I don't eat them unless it's made by Chef Vicky from VEA. That's a different story.

Snack menu in case you're wondering what's available...

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: G/F, 23 Lan Fong Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2881-5008

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fine Foods (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

After dinner at K11, I decided to take a slow walk to Tsim Sha Tsui East with the intention of checking Fine Foods out for some sweet treats at mid-night. It's almost 8:30pm by the time that I swing their door open but luckily, they don't close until 9pm these days.

Fig and passion fruit mousse cake ($45) - My second time having this cake already but it's way too long ago so I couldn't recall the results. This was surprisingly bland with the passion fruit totally missing in action. If it's any consolation, I did like the caramelized fig on top.

Rose and raspberry cake ($48) - It would be a little too sweet for most people but not me who has a really "rotten sweet tooth". The acidity from the raspberry was very nice and there's enough sweetness from what I thought was white chocolate to balance it out. The rose flavor was subtle yet very sharp. If you're into sweeter things in life, go ahead and give this one a go!

Food Rating: 5/10
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

Café Hillywood (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I can't remember exactly when was the last time I took a stroll on Austin Road but I bet it has to be at least 6 months ago. This area (near Austin Avenue) has changed a lot since my last visit and as my friends often like to say, it's like a "Little Seoul" these days with all those Korean fried chicken restaurants. But tonight, my mission and vision is not on Korean beer and chicken. I'm here to check out Café Hillywood, a hearty little café on Austin Road just across the street from the Hong Kong Bowling Green Club. 

This is a bit of a curious place for a bakery cafe like this. I am looking forward to seeing what's hidden down in the basement behind these stairs.

Wow, that's pretty big stage for a live band performance but where's the band? I guess it's a little too early (6pm).....

Even before having anything to eat, I'm already in love with this place. It's like visiting somebody's house. Very cozy.

I am a sucker for anything made with peanut butter. And after taking a glance of the drink menu, I quickly spotted Peanut butter monster ($58). Yeah, get me one of those please. Quick.

This is primarily peanut butter and vanilla ice-cream. Rich and thick. Yum.

I know this kitchen is highly touted for their homemade pasta which is freshly handmade everyday and not surprisingly, their signature dish, sea urchin pasta ($138), also featured these pasta. But since I wasn't in the mood for sea urchin this afternoon, I went with their truffle pasta with portobello mushrooms ($118) instead. This was taking a lot longer than I expect (Could they be making these pasta freshly after receiving my order?). After a 25-30 minute wait, the much anticipated dish finally arrived.

I really like the black truffle there as it was very creamy and full of flavors. Mixed feelings about the fresh egg pasta though. Yes, I got the rich eggy flavors there but the bite wasn't that great. Perhaps it's been overcooked ever so slightly and so it's become a little soggy?

I was in a hurry to leave sharply at 6:45pm so didn't get the chance to see the band perform. Next time, I will make sure that I come by at the right time.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: G/F, Austin Tower, 152 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Jordan
Tel: +852 2762-1727

QMO (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

We were expecting another long meeting with the service provider this afternoon. Instead of my usual light lunch, I thought a bigger one is in order to give myself more energy to grind it out. I've been hearing a lot about this new Spanish restaurant QMO the past 2 weeks (mostly good) and I figured it's time to give it a go before the meeting.

Taking over the space previously occupied by Pizza Express on Ship Street,  QMO is the newest member of the Elite Concepts family who also owns Ye Shanghai and Nanhai No.1. I vaguely recalled this group having another Spanish restaurant called QUEMO at the QRE Plaza not too long ago but whether this is a continuation of that project I'm not sure.

We have an option between their set lunch and a la carte menu. Honestly, I couldn't find anything interested from the set menu but since it looks to give me better value for money, I opted for it anyways.

Our three-course set kicked off first with a bowl of pork and prawn paella. I am no expert in Spanish cuisine so whether it's been well prepared or not, I had no idea. I could only comment on how tasty it was and to be brutally honest, it's not very tasty. As my colleague described perfectly, this is more like a fried rice than a paella.

I always like my paella to be creamy and crunchy with a caramelized crust. Sometimes it's a little soupy but I don't mind that at all as long as it's been properly flavored with saffron, paprika, or something rich. This one doesn't have any of that. There were tiny pieces of diced pork and prawns in there. The addition of clams (and some sort of sour cream on top) was nice but unfortunately, it's not the type of paella I've come to enjoy all these years with the rich and exciting flavors.

Just when we were still discussing about the paella, our tuna loin was ready to be served. The lightly seared tuna loin, served with spinach and asparagus, was of decent quality (though not great) but I'd probably like to see a bit more pink in the middle.

Like our starter and main course, we had a choice between two desserts and both of us went with the honey brownie with vanilla ice-cream. It was nothing to write home about and I will just leave it at that.

$238 for a three-course lunch is probably the standard price to pay for a good meal in Wanchai these days. The problem is, for one, what we had today was not a very good meal (I've seen better food served here at dinner time from some bloggers' review but why the drop off at lunch???) and two, there are plenty other options out there in the area (with similar or better price). Take Atelier Vivanda from across the street as an example, their "light lunch set" featuring a mini-burger plus soup or salad is only going for $128. Competition is fierce? You got that right.

Food Rating: 3.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 4 Ship Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2836-0699

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Open Kitchen (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

It's been a while since I last heard the term "cronut" in Hong Kong up until this afternoon, when I came across one. Honestly, I was a bit surprised to see them at Open Kitchen at IFC, a bakery café under Maxim's of all places so out of curiosity, I decided to grab one home.  

Well, I guess I let it warm up for a bit too long and as a result, the caramel glaze seemed to have melt considerably. But nevertheless, the texture was near perfect and one could easily taste both sides of the world - croissant's wonderful texture and doughnut's rich flavor. My only complaint was perhaps on the caramel glaze. It tasted a bit like the sauce on a sticky date pudding, way too rich and overpowering. I would much prefer something much subtle, maybe early grey?

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 1081, 1/F, IFC, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2234-7356

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lady M IFC (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Having passed over Lady M's strawberry mille crêpes in favor of their other more exciting flavors (like tiramisu, marron and cookie cream) in Seoul, I thought it's just a matter of time before I finally give in. And I did eventually give in taking a piece of their strawberry mille crêpes home from IFC this afternoon.

A "thousand layers" of lacy thin crepes (ok, I am joking. Just around 20 layers.) with strawberry accented light pastry cream and fresh strawberry slices in the middle. It's actually not bad. Very light and airy. But was it as good as the Earl Grey flavor? Not quite. 

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 2096A, 2/F, IFC, 1 Harbour View Street, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2865-1099

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Nakamura Tokichi (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Friends who know me, know that I have never been much of a fan of matcha desserts. That pretty much explains why it took me so long to pay the ever-popular Nakamura Tokichi (中村藤吉) a visit. 

Nakamura Tokichi has been a highly successful story ever since the storied franchise arrived from Kyoto a few years ago. But this is a really weird time we picked for our first visit. With their salon at The One recently closed down and their new one still under renovation at the Mira Mall (opens in mid June), all we could afford was a visit to their temporary take-out counter across the street from the Mira Mall.

Finally, one for my Instagram.....

This comes with a mix of matcha and hojicha soft serve, a pair of Japanese dango, azuki bean paste and puffed rice. I like the hojicha flavor there to balance out the bitterness of the matcha and the bed of puff rice for the crunchy texture. Pretty nice stuff.

It was good to finally check this one off my to-do list. Now I look forward the opening of their new salon soon.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop G06, G/F, Mira Mall, 118 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852& 2426-6111

Friday, May 20, 2016

10 of The Best Tiramisu in Hong Kong

I can't think of another dessert in the world that I love more than a good old tiramisu. We are blessed with so many great Italian restaurants in the city so finding a delicious tiramisu has never been an issue around here. Out of all the wonderful selection, here's my top 10 tiramisu in Hong Kong and you'd be surprised how many of those are actually not from an Italian restaurant.

1) Tosca
Tosca has always got one of the best traditional tiramisu in town with the picture perfect texture. The fact that they've added limoncello, a lemon-flavoured Italian liqueur, has made this even more refreshing and irresistible.

A recent review of my meal at Tosca can be found here.

Address: 102/F The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, West Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2263-2263

2) Caprice
Everyone has been raving about Caprice's new pastry chef Nicolas Lambert since his arrival last year and I'm starting to see why. Never have I seen so many beautifully presented desserts at Caprice and they all happened to be modern and unconventional. This deconstructed tiramisu with mascarpone cream and coffee ice-cream is a classic example. Nothing that blew me away but just a breath of fresh air at a French restaurant known for its traditional French roots.

A recent review of my meal at Caprice can be found here.

Address: 6/F, 8 Finance Street, Four Seasons Hotel, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3196-8860

3) Gradini Ristorante E Bar Italiano
Tiramisu is best when it's light yet creamy. If you're looking for a light and creamy tiramisu, look no further than Gradini Ristorante E Bar Italiano in The Pottinger who is always a safe bet for an authentic Italian dining experience.

A recent review of my meal at Gradini can be found here.

Address: G/F The Pottinger, 74 Queen's Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2308-3088
Website: Link

4) Assaggio Trattoria Italiana
Assaggio is another Italian eatery I visit a lot for its casual Italian fare. Better known for its fresh homemade pasta and woodfire pizzab but the fact is they have also got a perfectly executed tiramisu. Soft but not too foamy. Rich but not too sweet and just the right touch of liqueur. That was awesome.

A recent review of my meal at Assaggio Trattoria Italiana can be found here.

Address: 6/F Hong Kong Arts Centre, 2 Harbour Road Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2877-3999

5) CIAK In the Kitchen
Some say Chef Umberto Bombana has the best tiramisu recipe in town and perhaps that explains for their highly popular tiramisu at CIAK In the Kitchen. Coffee and marsala soaked ladyfingers, layered with a light and airy filling made from mascarpone cream, were then showered with chocolate crumbles. Some versions have coffee jelly on the bottom too. If you're not drooling already, I am!!!

A recent review of my meal at CIAK In the Kitchen can be found here.

Address: Shop 327-333, 3/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2522-8869

6) Isono Eatery and Bar
Like CIAK In the Kitchen, Isono has a light but rich tiramisu that strikes the perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and creaminess. The subtle hint of sea salt is the difference maker here providing the whole thing a rather interesting twist.

A recent review of my meal at Isono can be found here.

Address: Shop H601-H608, 6/F, Hollywood, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2156-0688

7) Amaroni's Little Italy
Amaroni's Little Italy used to be one of my favorite places for tiramisu due to their generous portion and authentic recipe and although its quality has slipped a bit in recent years, it's still not a bad choice especially considering its take-away option (which I did a lot for my late-night snack.).

A recent review of my meal at Amaroni's Little Italy can be found here.

Address: Shop 32, LG1, Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2265-8818

I was a tiramisu purist until I ran into this delicious tiramisu at MOYO, across the street from the buzzing PMQ. They have put a serious Korean spin into this Italian classic by adding green tea and red beans into the mix and the result is one of the most creative and exciting tiramisu one could find in the city.

A recent review of my meal at MOYO can be found here.

Address: G/F, 36 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2858-2777

9) Ciao Chow
While Ciao Chow failed to impress me with their pasta and pizza, they managed to wake my sweet tooth up with a seriously good tiramisu which is an absolute gem. Smooth and creamy yet light and airy, and a bit more moist than usual too. It's definitely one of my newest favorites.

A recent review of my meal at Ciao Chow can be found here.

Address: G/F, California Tower, 30-32 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2344-0005

10) Pan de Pain Pancakes & Sweets
Technically not a tiramisu but that didn't stop Pan de Pain's three-layered tiramisu pancake from wowing dessert lovers since the pancake specialty café debuts in early 2016. Pan de Pain's pancakes are touted for their wonderful texture thanks to the premium ingredients of Japanese flour, Hokkaido milk and eggs they use and instead of ladyfingers, they have these tiramisu pancakes soaked in rum and coffee liquor before putting layers after layers of mascarpone cream in between. Yum!

Address: Shop B111, B/F, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2576-1968

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Empire City Roasted Duck (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

It's mom's Chinese birthday today and after quite a number of western meals the last few weeks, mom declared she would no longer tolerate any more western food so Chinese food it will be this afternoon! Since we will be visiting K11 after lunch anyways, I thought we should simply grab a quick one at Empire City Roasted Duck (大都烤鴨), a place where I haven't visited for a while now.

Roasted Peking Duck (烤北京填鴨) ($253)
They used to really emphasize the fact that they're using lychee wood in their roasting but for whatever reasons, it's not being mentioned anymore. Is it a change in philosophy?

Anyways, this is still pretty nice but definitely as good as it used to be. The duck skin was crispy but not with the same fruity and smoky flavors as before.

Turnips, scallions, melon and cucumber are the standard condiments to go with the roasted duck these days.

Stir Fried minced duck meat with pine nuts and conpoy in a lettuce wrap (二鬆炒鴨末) ($88)
They did a nice job with the minced duck meat, diced vegetables and pine nuts. The sauce, made out of reduction from bones, was very tasty. Perfect to go with the lettuce wrap. 

Duck Meat and Rice Wrapped with Lotus Leaf (荷香包鴨飯) ($88)
It used to be one of my favorite dishes here but not anymore. The interior was nice and moist, which was the good part but the sauce was way too overpowering.

Someone is trying to save stomach space for some Japanese pancakes in the same shopping mall so there will be no dessert ordered here this afternoon.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 221, Level 2, K11 Art Mall, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui / East Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2628-0662

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tin Lung Heen 天龍軒 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★★

After many sleepless nights filled with endless feedings and diaper changes, we finally managed to get through the toughest part of parenthood. Yes, my little nugget is finally 100 days old this week! I decided to throw him a small party inviting all our close friends and relatives along but first up, we needed to come up with a venue.  

There's obviously no such thing as a perfect venue but we wanted something closer to home so the nugget doesn't need to travel very far for the party. It ended up being a two-horse race between Tin Lung Heen (天龍軒) and Sing Yin (星宴).

After checking out this view on our site visit, I pretty much had my mind made up. WOW!

Thanks to the help of the team here at Tin Lung Heen, we had a wonderful time. The never-ending parade of delicious dim sum started with this baked crab meat tart with onion and cheese (洋蔥芝士蟹肉撻). The combination of crab meat, onion and cheese was sweet and flavorful, perfectly complementing the crisp, flaky pastry.

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

Pan-fried bean curd sheet with garoupa, shrimp and fine herbs (香草星斑蝦肉腐皮卷) was another beautiful bite-size dim sum with garoupa and shrimp harmonizing each other perfectly under that crispy sheet of bean curd.

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

And who can resist the house specialty - barbecued Iberian pork with honey (蜜燒西班牙黑豚肉叉燒)? I have always got a soft spot for fatty char siu (肥叉) in my heart and this is brilliantly executed. Tender and succulent. I certainly won't mind having an extra piece.

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

But the star of the afternoon belonged to this soup dumpling with conpoy and fish maw in supreme stock (龍軒瑤柱花膠灌湯餃).

We are all accustomed to seeing the dumpling(s) as the focal point of this famed Cantonese dish but not this afternoon though, as the supreme stock and fish maw have totally stolen the spotlight. The soup really blew me away with its richness, sweetness and volume. I thought the dumpling, working well in a supporting role this time, also delivered. Like I said, it's the best dish of the afternoon without a question.

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

At this point, we have switched back to dim sum and it's another trio which has come to impress us. I wasted no time checking out the steamed golden shrimp dumpling with bamboo shoot (龍軒筍尖蝦餃) in the middle and it was again perfect. Perfect in its bite size the way it should be.

But that was just the beginning. I thought the steamed pork and scallop dumpling with fragrant coriander (香茜帶子燒賣皇) was even better with the delicately sweet scallop leading the charge in this one. I tampered with the seasoning a bit by adding some XO chilli sauce on top and the result was heavenly!

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

Equally enjoyable was the baked barbecued pork bun with almond flake (西杏酥皮焗叉燒餐包), a dish that I thought Mott32 does a marvelous job with but this one managed to top it with the almond flake topping. Another masterpiece.

     (Photo credit: Fishie)

Finally, we are ready for our main dish and it's a pair of sautéed prawns skewed with chopped Jin Hua ham and vegetable (金腿碧玉簪蝦球) taking centerstage. The bouncy texture of the prawns was very nice and the savory flavors were wonderfully enhanced by the bits of finely diced Jin Hua ham.

The prawns were served with a bowl of fried rice with egg white, conpoy and diced ginger (瑤柱薑米蛋白炒飯).

If there's one area that needs a bit of reinforcement, it's probably the dessert department. This trio of sweetened red bean cream with vintage tangerine peel and lotus seed (陳皮蓮子紅豆沙), chilled hawthorn and preserved plum jelly (山楂話梅一品糕) and coconut red bean pudding were drawing mixed reviews from the crowd. Personally, I'm giving thumbs up to the coconut red bean pudding (left) and thumbs down to both the red bean soup and hawthorn plum jelly.

It was an afternoon to remember. The incredible view from 102nd floor, impressive parade of dim sum, impeccable service and of course, the company of our beloved ones. I hope to do this all over again for the nugget's first birthday.

Special Thanks to my foodie friend Fishie who is kind enough to lend me some of her food pictures. Most of mine looked awful but I do have the perfect excuse as I was too busy flying around the place entertaining our guests.

Food Rating: 8/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 102/F, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kowloon
Tel: +852 2263-2263