Sunday, July 31, 2016

CIAK All Day Italian (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

My furniture hunt finished a lot earlier than expected so we got a little ahead of our schedule. Since our previous brunch at Mr & Mrs Fox left a bit of stomach room unoccupied, we decided to go to Taikoo Shing in search for a quick afternoon snack. That was when I ran into CIAK All Day Italian.

Wow, I didn't know Michelin starred CIAK In the Kitchen has opened a branch here. This is a complete shocker for me; maybe I should go out more often!

In addition to their casual Italian restaurant (which wasn't open at this hour), they have this little cafertia style "canteen" right next to it serving coffee, cakes and pasta. Everything here is mostly self-served.

Like I said, I was a little hungry after my brunch so apart from an iced chocolate, I went for more.

Chestnut cake - This is pretty cool. A very small sponge sandwiched in between variations of chestnut including chestnut mousse, chestnut purée, caramelized chestnut and smalls chunks of candied chestnut. Even the meringue on top tasted a little like chestnut!

I thought it was a little too sweet for my liking but nevertheless not bad.

Tagliolini Arrabbiata - Probably one of the most expensive "food court" pasta in Hong Kong at $120. The eggy tagliolini had some seriously good bite which was quite nice but I didn't think it was working too well with the spicy tomato sauce.

If you're looking for some quality Italian food in Cityplaza and don't have a lot of time to spare, this could be the place to be but be ready for the heavy price tag.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 265, 2/F, Cityplaza, 18 Taikoo Shing Road, Tai Koo, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Taikoo
Tel: +852 2116-5128

Mr & Mrs Fox (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

I was in Quarry Bay this afternoon to check out some furniture for my new place. Looked like I finally got the chance to dine at Mr & Mrs Fox, a place which has been on my radar since its opening days.

But I couldn't pick a worse day of the week to come as the restaurant only offers their brunch set (starting at $160) as well as a limited a la carte menu (no fish, seafood and chicken; limited steak options) on Sundays. 

The 2-course brunch set ($160) includes a starter and main dish but no drinks what-so-ever. Didn't matter to us though as we only wanted something light in the quickest manner.

We didn't want to start things off with a chicken soup so due to the very limited choices for starter, both of us ended up going for their market fruit plate with seasonal fruit.

Like any typical Sunday brunch, the menu was full of dishes like egg benedict and sandwiches among other lighter options. But I was hoping for something a little more sophisticated so I went with their Black Angus BBQ cheddar burger.

This has to be one of the worst burger I had for a long time. The house smoked bacon, caramelized onion and pickled chilies were OK but the beef patty was badly under-seasoned and there was no sign of it coming from the grill. On the other hand, the handcut fries were way over-seasoned with salt and spices. That was awful.

The beef patty didn't have the usual smoky flavors one would expect coming from the grill (It's a bit like having a lightly cooked beef tartare with your buns).

Our second main dish, cornflake crusted French toast with sauteed foie gras, fared better and I liked the idea of having the blueberry purée, pistachio and syrup to go with the French toast. But then on the down side, I was expecting two pieces of toasts instead of one (for that price).

Both of us were shaking our heads after this. $200 per head for this "light" brunch felt a little pricey and now we have another problem to deal with - where to have our afternoon snack???

PS. This review is strictly based on what we've experienced from the brunch set. I expect the regular menus to be a lot better. But again we all know about expectations, which normally set us up for more disappointments.

Food Rating: 3.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 23 Tong Chong Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2697-8500

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Vive Cake Boutique (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

After spending the entire afternoon in Ap Lei Chau walking up and down the stairs of the Horizon Plaza, we were in desperate need of some sucrose the moment we got back to civilization. 

I recalled walking past Vive Cake Boutique here last week. 

Vive Cake Boutique is the latest venture by patissier Vivien Lau (thus the name) who opened her semi-namesake cake shop in Repulse Bay last year. She has since re-located it to Lee Tung Avenue in the basement level. 

They don't really have a lot to offer in terms of quantity. Only 5-6 different cakes to choose from on this afternoon but hey, all we care about is quality not quantity.

Honestly I was caught a little surprised to find that everything at this lovely cafe is strictly self-served. Well, unless you're ordering drinks, then they will bring it right up to your table.

One In A Melon ($45) - the sole reason for my trip here. I found myself addicted to all kinds of watermelon cakes ever since my last visit to Lifetastic so I was hoping this would be nearly as good. But sadly it wasn't.

I thought the watermelon and pistachio sponge were nice but the absence of rose water, rose scented cream and dried rose petals seemed to have taken something away from this (comparing to the version by Black Star Pastry). This is borderline okay for my spoiled taste buds.

Treasure Hunt ($48) - Well, I thought more successful was the salted caramel cake called "Treasure Hunt" featuring a smooth and delicate chocolate mousse. The salted caramel mousse in the middle was soft like a marshmallow. Very nice. 

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop B05-06, Lee Tung Avenue, 200 Queens Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 5111-4895

Triple O's (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I'm normally not a meat and potato guy so I don't really have a lot of steaks and fries on my diet but burgers are a little different story as I do eat my fair share of them from time to time. Triple O's is one of my favorite burger joints not only because it's from Canada, but also due to its consistently tasty burgers over the years.

I was in Admiralty this afternoon and decided to check out what's new on their menu. Looks like they have something up their sleeves for the summer.

Hawaiian teriyaki burger, with 100% Australian beef, signature teriyaki sauce, pineapple and lettuce. This is seriously good stuff. The beef patty was real juicy and it worked so well with the lightly grilled pineapple and lettuce. Too bad the teriyaki sauce (Tasted like medicine?) messed things up a bit; otherwise it would have been perfect.

They have rolled out a number of interesting milkshake flavors (limited time only) recently including a mint flavor which has gotten a lot of love from me. This time around, they're doing a coconut milkshake with coconut cream, shredded coconut and vanilla ice-cream. This is my first time having a coconut milkshake and I must admit, it was pretty refreshing. Why didn't other burger joints think of this one?

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Unit 009, Level LG1, Great Food Hall, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Admiralty
Tel: +852 2581-1887

Friday, July 22, 2016

Umai 鵜舞 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Ever since our beloved chef left Nishiki Yakitori late last year, I have yet to find myself a good replacement yakitori bar. I am hoping Umai (鵜舞) could be that place tonight. Located on the ground floor of D2 Place in Lai Chi Kok, this is one of those new wave of modern eateries surfacing in the area that is creating some buzz. Personally, I really like the traditional Japanese izakaya decor; let's hope the skewers are equally as good.

We were getting a little hungry right from the start so a couple of things from the sushi bar to get us going first. The hand rolls were not bad at all.

Slightly less successful were the sushi but hey, we were just buying time for our skewers anyways.

I forgot when I started falling in love with deep fried burdock but I can tell you these were seriously good, especially with the right touch of Japanese seven spice powder. Excellent start.

While Umai belongs to the same group as Yayakiya (another Japanese izakaya in TST), the food menu is entirely different. In particular, there're much fewer choices when it comes to skewers which was slightly discouraging.

Pork belly roll with asparagus - Very nice. The pork belly was very juicy and tender, meshing well with the green asparagus.

Grilled pork fillet - Initially I thought they were way too dry (and hard) for my liking but after a few bites, the lovely savory taste started to sink in. A bit like "pork jerk" if you ask me but a pretty tasty one.

Grilled chicken wings - Probably the best dish of the night (along with the deep fried burdock). I'm always a bit skeptic about ordering chicken wings at an izakaya because most often than not, there're way over-seasoned but not these ones. They did a great job seasoning these wings and the combination of crispy skins and juicy meat made this dish a clear winner.

Grilled Ox tongue - This is one dish I always order at an izakaya. Was expecting something a little more flavorful.

Believe it or not, this was what I came here for in the first place after catching a glimpse of it on Instagram. Yes, the ever-popular raindrop cake!

This was a lot of fun. Tasted very much like a flan jello (but without any flavors). I like the sesame powder and kuromitsu (brown sugar syrup) giving it a bit of texture and flavor.

Looks like I have finally found a replacement for Nishiki and this is much closer to where I hang out too!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 2, G/F, D2 Plaza, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Lai Chi Kok
Tel: +852 2743-8011

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nino's Cozinha (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Another big meeting is coming up this afternoon. As always, I tried to take some pressure off and what a better way to do so than getting myself stuffed with good food? And just when we were checking out Star Street and Moon Street one after another, we ran into Nino's Cozinha, a Portuguese restaurant that we've yet to try before and judging from the flower baskets in front, it's probably a new kid on the block.

The moment we started flipping through the lunch menu (OK, there's only one A4 page), we began questioning ourselves this. Is this truly a restaurant serving Portuguese food?

Both the soup of the day (tomato soup) and salad of the day (garden green) suggested that this is simply a Hong Kong style western restaurant. And the main dishes of char-grilled rib eye, pork sirloin, pan roasted salmon fillet and spaghetti with scallops confirmed that suspicion.

But we were not keen about Portuguese food anyways so we decided to give it a go.

I had the garden green to start my meal. This was pretty decent, at least for the price I was paying. The acidity from the vinegar dressing was spot on and not overpowering like most local western restaurants.


As much as I love to pepper myself with meat, I ended up picking seafood this afternoon. I guess having too much beef and chicken in Seoul played a huge part in that decision.

Quite honestly, I had very low expectation for this spaghetti with scallops ($118) which was served with a creamy asparagus sauce and parmesan cheese. How could I have high expectations for a pasta at a place touted itself as a Portuguese restaurant? But this turned out to be quite decent.

Both pieces of scallops, I thought, were probably from Hokkaido as they were really big in size and they were nicely seared and properly seasoned to go with the pasta. If they can improve a bit on the spaghetti and sauce, it's actually not a bad choice at all.

Hopefully there will be a bit more Portuguese dishes going into their food menu real soon coz I do like Portuguese cuisine.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$
Address: G/F, 2-12 Moon Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Admiralty
Tel: +852 3955-2286

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mak's Noodle 麥奀雲吞麵世家 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I was in a bit of a rush to meet my hair stylist tonight. All I could spare was about 15 to 20 minutes so it looks like I'll have to settle for a quick supper at Mak's Noodle (麥奀雲吞麵世家).  

It's been a while since I last had a wonton noodle soup here and I was really looking forward to having one this evening. But then again their beef brisket and tendon noodle soup (牛筋牛腩麵) is also an intriguing choice.

At the end, I decided to go for their beef brisket and tendon noodle soup. Like I said before, it's been a while since I was here so I had no idea how a tiny bowl of noodle looks like these days. But now I know! Trust me, it's pretty diminutive. For a grown man like myself, I think I need at least 3 of those to be reasonably full.

So I tried convincing myself that size does not matter and instead I should put more focus on the quality of the noodle soup. In all fairness, I thought it was a seriously good bowl of noodle soup. The noodles were springy thin and had very nice bite to it. The broth was perhaps a little too rich (and salty) for a health conscious person like myself but the brisket was very tender. Equally nice was the beef tendon with its slippery smooth texture.

It's nice to get reacquainted with the noodle soup that I grew up eating but unfortunately, I thought the portion was disappointingly tiny considering its relatively heavy price tag.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 19 Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2301-3233

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sang Kee Seafood Restaurant 生記海鮮飯店 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Something funny happened when I was in Seoul last week. One morning when I went out to get breakfast for my family, I ran into this friend from Vancouver whom I haven't seen in more than 10 years. Looks like everyone can't resist the idea of visiting Seoul these days! So afterwards, I wrote a little note on the social network saying something like it's easier to run into somebody you know on the streets of Seoul than back in Hong Kong these days. And we all had a little fun with this joke afterwards.

Well, as it turned out, my friend from Vancouver was stopping by Hong Kong for a week after his stay in Seoul so we wasted no time gathering a few old friends for a quick reunion dinner at Sang Kee Seafood Restaurant in Wanchai.

Located just across the street from Southorn Playground, Sang Kee is a traditional Cantonese restaurant that has been serving hearty local dishes for a long time. It's been listed as a Michelin recommended restaurant both in 2014 and 2015. 

Some of us arrived early and decided to grab some beer and a small plate of fried cashews to wash it down together.

Our good friend finally arrived at this point and it was nice to know that he's done well back home in Vancouver. Obviously, none of us has lost our sense of humor and it was a fun night catching up over some home style Cantonese dishes.

Sweet and sour pork (菠蘿生炒骨) - All of the dishes we ordered were no brainers as most of them are house specialties here. We started with their signature sweet and sour pork that was so good to go with my rice. The meat was lean and very tasty.

Scrambled eggs with bitter melon (苦瓜炒蛋) - The lone non signature dish selection tonight. The scramble eggs were alright but I like my bitter melon to be a little more bitter!

Home style Crispy lotus root patties (家鄉手磨煎蓮藕餅) - Wow I love this dish to death. I can easily tell all the ingredients in there, which included shredded lotus root, water chestnut, mushroom, green onion and of course pork. The patty was real succulent with lots of bite. Seriously good stuff! 

Signature salt baked chicken (招牌古法鹽焗雞) - Saving the best for last, the signature chicken certainly didn't disappoint. It's very tender and not "salty" though I still like the lotus root patties a little more.

After dinner, they offered us a little petite four which was essentially pieces of white sugar cake (白糖糕). 

We had a good time catching up and didn't realize that it's already their closing time. Afterwards, I told our friend there that he should come back more often so we don't have to do this every 10 years.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: 2-3/F, 107-115, Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Wanchai
Tel: +852 2575-2239

Passion by Gérard Dubois at Metroplaza (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

After a week of absence, I was eager to find out what's happening at some of my favorite cake shops in the city and I started my tour with Passion by Gérard Dubois in Kwan Fong.

Well, they have this new cake called Coconut Passion sitting there which I decided to take a flyer on.

I love the silky smooth coconut mousse. Very nice and refreshing; and that combined well with the mild acidity from the passion fruit cream in the middle. I like this one!

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 107-108, Level 1 Metroplaza, Kwai Fong, NT, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kwai Fong
Tel: +852 2453-9992