Thursday, October 19, 2017

10 of The Best Milkshakes in Seoul

My obsession for old-fashioned milkshakes goes way back when I was still a kid living in Canada. Fortunately, Seoul is blessed with a lot of nice resto American diners so finding a rich and frosty milkshake in the city isn't exactly a daunting task. Here's my top 10 list to save you time and energy. 

(1) Brooklyn The Burger JointWith close to 50 different flavors to choose from, you can always find one that satisfy your sweet tooth on any given day. Opens 24 hours a day.

(2) O'Shake - One of the first to introduce freakshakes in Seoul. Still my favorite place for a funky milkshake in the city.

(3) Shake Shack Doota - A rising star in Seoul featuring some of the naughtiest shakes in town including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, salted caramel, peanut butter, coffee, black & white and of course, my personal favorite - red bean shake with vanilla custard.

(4) Johnny Rockets - The direct import from California never fails to impress with their original chocolate, vanilla and strawberry shakes American style.

(5) Max Brenner Chocolate Bar - They are more than just a one-trick pony. Say goodbye to their hot chocolate and hello to 80's Milkshake, chocolate expresso milkshake and my favorite, cookie shake.

(6) Gilbert's Burger & Fries - I used to visit them a lot for their Oreo and Vanilla coconut milkshakes instead of their burgers.

(7) Left Coast Artisan Burgers - Check out their nutella smore milkshake if you're looking for something seriously rich and flavorful.

(8) Burger B - What they lack in selection (vanilla caramel, expresso, peanut butter, chocolate), they more than make up for it with one of the thickest shake in the business.

(9) Once Upon a Milkshake - A milkshake specialist with more than 30 flavors to offer but interestingly, also allows you to choose the "thickness" based on your preference.

(10) I'm C Cafe - Forget about their vitamin tea, bingsoo and waffles. Time to check out their frosty cookie & cream shake for a change!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Le Pain Quotidien Bakery (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Another tropical cyclone was running wild in Hong Kong this weekend so we were stuck with indoor activities once again. The good thing was that, we were directly connected to the MTR station from where we live so we had the comfort of traveling without the troubles from the storm.

We ended up spending the entire afternoon at Elements. Following a pretty relaxing lunch at Cafe Deco, we went on to check out Le Pain Quotidien Bakery. This is their third opening in the city.

I started things off with a glass of iced Belgian chocolate which could have been a little richer in flavor. Don't think anybody could come close to beating Angelina's signature hot and iced chocolate. It's a shame that their business wasn't sustainable in Hong Kong. (Luckily, I'm heading to Paris this Christmas!)

But the tiramisu was so good. Little and airy in the middle with just the right mix of aromatic liqueur.  

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 1089C, 1/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kowloon Station
Tel: +852 2521-1377

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Paper Moon (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

If I haven't made the trip down to Harbour City a few weeks ago, I probably won't believe the kind of transformation that the iconic shopping mall has quietly been undergoing all this time. A new extension to the Ocean Terminal next to LCX has recently been unveiled with no less than 10 new restaurants getting set for their debuts in Q4 2017. After checking out Ana Ten (天穴) last time, it was Paper Moon's turn to get our call.

Paper Moon is Milan's iconic fashion district restaurant that rose to fame when it first opened doors back in 1977. Since then, the franchise has expanded out of Europe into Istanbul, Beirut, Manila, Doha and most recently Hong Kong. 

But this is the brand's first restaurant with a sea view boasting a terrace area that overlooks Victoria Harbour. 

It looks like the perfect spot to watch fireworks over the harbour.

The dining room is sleek and well-lit with an abundance of natural light.

There's a small private dining room but unfortunately no harbour view (or window) there.

Spicy melon ($68) - After ordering a few items from the food menu, I took some time to explore the drink menu which has a pretty wide selection of beverages including wine, cocktails and mocktails. That's where I found this interesting mocktail called Spicy melon. It was primarily cantaloupe, pineapple pulp and ginger. Not bad but not really thirst quenching enough on this hot and humid day.

Homemade pappardelle with smoked pancetta in pink sauce ($168) - I thought I better got this signature dish out of the way first. Before I had the chance to pop the question on what exactly was a pink sauce, our server already started her introduction of their signature pasta creation which was also referred to as "Pappardelle Papermoon". In a nutshell, the pink sauce is a mix of sour cream and tomato sauce cooked at medium heat. I thought the sauce was really nice and tangy but the homemade pappardelle could have a little firmer bite to it.  

Pizza Valtellina ($198) - I have seen a few pictures of their pizza showcased on different magazines so I have made this part of our agenda this afternoon. Out of the various pizza (which span over 2 A4 pages), I decided to go with their Valtellina. 

This was seriously good. I thought the beef bresaola was the key here while the mozzarella, rocket leaves and parmigiano reggiano played their supporting roles nicely.

Breaded Milanese veal chop ($298) - Who could resist this iconic dish from the Milanese cuisine especially when it's the size of someone's face!?

I thought this was really tasty. The crispy batter was perfectly done holding the thin layer of veal chop firmly in the middle. At first, I thought the price tag was a little heavy but once I saw the gigantic portion, I knew I was getting good bang for my buck.

It was a very relaxing lunch and the vibe was perfect. Of course, I had to bring my little nugget outdoor to admire the picturesque view from the patio.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop OTE301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2156-2256

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Restaurant Uwe (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Things are finally picking up in an otherwise uneventful (okay, boring) year for the local dining scene this month. Chef Uwe Opocensky, the former executive chef of Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (Krug Room and Mandarin Grill, two excellent restaurants under his watch), has recently launched his first ever solo venture in Hong Kong. His eponymous Restaurant Uwe was finally ready for its debut in the last week of September following months of intense preparation.

Chef Uwe's 24-seater which has taken over the space formerly occupied by Mediterranean restaurant Bayta, will focus on the best seasonal ingredients most of which are sourced locally right here in Hong Kong. Like some of the top restaurants in the world (Alinea for example), Restaurant Uwe requires diners to purchase their tickets in advance ($1088 per head). This can be easily done online with just a few clicks of a button.

It doesn't take a genius to realize what tonight's theme was. First of all, the autumn leaves on the floor and then the birch tree in the middle of the restaurant. It must have something to do with autumn.

**A sad note to pass along before I start talking about the 6-course tasting menu here. To put it in short, it's been a tough month for my cameras. Both my Sony and Canon cameras went down unexpectedly so I was down to my third (and last) option - my iPhone 6. And we all know how iPhone 6's works in low light situations. 

Autumn landscape - We were first greeted with a number of canapés to start off the meal. First, there were the pumpkin leaves, parsnip leaves and malt bread sticks nicely presented on top of some wooden logs and stones.

Those were accompanied by some pickled Japanese radish with pretty strong acidity.

The duck and chicken liver parfait atop with figs was silky smooth.

I really like the vension tartare with porcini mushrooms. Really well-seasoned with very nice texture.

Last but not least, Chef Uwe's signature smoked salmon with caviar and cream cheese rounded out the impressive array of amuse bouche. Solid start!

At the same time, we were served with some sour dough bread and a bone marrow candle on the side. We were supposed to have our bread go through the candle in order to catch the bone marrow butter. Very interesting.

Mushroom and egg espuma - Pretty foamy with rich mushroom flavors coming from the bottom. Pretty nice.

Cep mushroom tartlet with duck egg scramble - The tart itself was made with mushroom with scrambled duck egg and sauteed girolles sitting on top. A little bit oily and overseasoned but not bad.

King crab spring roll - The thin batter was really really nice. Inside the crispy spring roll was loads of Norwegian king crab meat. Very impressive to go with the yuzu flavored mayo.

Celeriac pasta - Continuing with the theme of mushroom, here we have a "pasta" made with celeriac and served with assorted mushrooms. This was covered in a tangy mushroom sauce which was both creamy and rich.

Grouse pithiviers - Autumn is also game season so not surprisingly, we were presented with a dish of grouse pithivier. The puff pastry was stuffed with minced grouse and cabbage and there was a nice hint of rosemary.

A very comforting dish.

Slow-cooked US prime rib-eye - This was the flat cap, which was the most tender part of the rib-eye.

It was very delicious with very nice marbling.

I had to touch on the mashed potatoes which was served alongside the rib-eye because it was probably one of the best I have had for a long time. It was very smooth yet not too buttery like the one from Uncle Joel.

Pineapple - Dessert was a simple dish of charred pineapple from Hokkaido, served with reduced pineapple juice.

Homemade ice-cream - Finally, some homemade ice-cream with double cream and a bit of honey. This was done the traditional way using an old bucket as a hand cranking ice-cream device. 
Very tasty and I thought I could easily take on another bowl or two.

I have asked for one without rum raisins.

Petite four was some locally sourced gooseberries. Very sweet with a fair amount of juice.

I have to admit, when I first stepped through those doors, I was expecting a fine dining meal with lots of expensive ingredients but they proved me wrong. Completely wrong.

Like Chef Uwe has described himself, this was all about honest cooking with some of the best in-season ingredients (mushroom, grouse etc.). And we all know honest cooking can go a long long way with Chef Uwe's talent which explains why the restaurant is already fully booked through November (Price already adjusted to $1,288 per head).

Food Rating: 7/10
Price: $$$$
Address: 252 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 2546-8665