Wednesday, April 26, 2017

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★★

I have been a little under the weather the last couple of days but with my good friend Agent-I treating dinner tonight, I won't miss it for the world.

Last night around the same time, we were still debating on exactly where to go for dinner. We finally narrowed it down to four restaurants, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, Bo Innovation and Épure. As the birthday boy from the month of April, of course I had the final say and I decided to go with Uncle Joël whom I haven't visited for almost a year now.

Both of us wanted smaller portions for different reasons (me due to my poor health and Agent-I for staying in shape) so we danced around the degustation menu and promptly asked for the one labeled "Small tasting portions" instead.

Talk about knowing how to make an entrance. Uncle Joël sure knows a thing or two about setting the tone and that was on full display when our servers brought out tonight's amuse bouche.

When the smoke finally clears, we have a gorgeous bowl of white asparagus emulsion right in front of our eyes.

What better way to start the meal than some "in-season" white asparagus served as a purée with chorizo and peppers. That was a dreamy start.

Le Caviar Impérial ($390) - I didn't realize how much I missed this dish until it sat right there in front of me. It was a wonderfully designed dish and the execution was just perfect. The cannelloni of king crab meat and avocado was topped with the imperial caviar while the condiments of celery (green dot), grapefruit (orange dot) and pepper (yellow dot, well some sort of pepper I think) on the side added the perfect finishing touch.

L'Oursin ($270) - Talk about a dish that never gets old. Robuchon's sea urchin in a lobster jelly topped with cauliflower cream.

A very elegant dish that ranks right up there with the best of it including Amber's signature sea urchin dish which is no longer available these days. I don't know if there's a better match with sea urchin than lobster jelly and cauliflower cream. If there is, I haven't seen (or tasted) it yet.

Le Black Cod ($240) - Finishing things off for me was black cod fish with Malabar black pepper sauce, Chinese cabbage and coconut emulsion. This tasted a little like the always-popular Japanese dish, cod fish with miso glaze. The only difference was replacing the miso with a bit of spicy kick thanks to the black pepper sauce. I like the coconut emulsion there to balance the spiciness of the black pepper. This was simple yet very delicious.

Le Pomme Verte ($170) - I thought I was done after the black cod but that was before I was handed with tonight's dessert menu. Perhaps I could squeeze one in.

It was another beautiful dish with the delicate sugar pearl ball as the centre piece. Inside the sphere was cinnamon panna cotta, caramelized green apple and sorbet.

Even the crumbs underneath had green apple and cinnamon flavors. Very nice.

Petite four was the usual macaron, jelly candy and chocolate. They have printed the words "JR~10~HK" on the chocolate for the celebration of their 10th anniversary in the city.

It feels good to be back at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon again and be reminded of what French haute cuisine is all about. Consistency has always been the prelude of success for all the Robuchon establishments and once again they delivered.

Food Rating: 8.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 315 & 401, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Central
Tel: +852 2166-9000
S. Pellegrino Asia's 50 Best Restaurants: 41st (2017)

Friday, April 21, 2017

El Cerdo (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

In preparation of a very busy end of April, I decided to lay low for much of this week but that was before I woke up to this gorgeous picture posted by chef Simon Lynch, head chef of El Cerdo. I guess I can always use some delicious shellfish to brighten up a gloomy Friday.

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I have been here a few times already and each time I came out a very satisfied customer.

There it is, scallops, pork belly and sweetcorn in the a al carte menu.....

As usual, I went with their set menu which normally includes two tapas of my choice and a bowl of soup. Today it was cauliflower soup with a bit of olive oil. Solid start.

I love their chorizo tortilla and that's how I was starting off my lunch this afternoon. This was just perfect for a potato freak like me, with lots of potatoes in there. In between the egg and potato cubes, were savory chorizos and crab meat. Very very tasty and definitely one of my favorite tortilla in the city.

The second tapas was crispy pork belly served with a special honey aioli. It was done pretty nicely with the pork belly sporting a crispy crust on the outside while still a little moist inside. Not bad.

I promised myself to get my hands dirty with these seared scallops. The scallops, I thought, were a little smaller than I expected but they were pretty good. The sweet corn purée and Pedro Ximendez reduction did its part to complement the sweetness of the scallops making me a real happy camper.

From the set, I had a choice between dessert (churros) and tea (or coffee) and I wasted no time picking these freshly made churros. It was served with a chocolate dip.

Pretty yummy.....just wish they offered me a few more of these.....

And some good news about El Cerdo coming to Wanchai soon. That's great news for all the Spanish food lovers! Looks like in a few months, I don't have to venture all the way to Tsuen Wan West for my favorite tortilla...

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Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$
Address: G/F 77 Tai Pa Street, Tsuen Wan, NT, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsuen Wan West
Tel: +852 2882-3811

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Peninsula Boutique (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

Call me old-fashioned but I always prefer to get my pastries over-the-counter so this is probably one of the few times that I'm doing this online. It was pretty convenient though. After placing my order a couple of days ago, here I am at Peninsula Boutique picking up some of my favorite pastries.

Sakura ($60) - I had this last time I was here too. This was an inspiration from the Japanese cherry blossom. A light and airy mousse cake which came with a mix of cherry blossom mousse, juicy cherry confit, pistachio dacquoise and tart sable. I thought the cherry flavors (from the mousse and confit) would be pretty overpowering but that's not the case at all. In fact, it was the exact opposite. The cherry blossom was light and subtle working well with the pistachio dacquoise and tart sable. Pretty nice.

Of course, I didn't go thru all the trouble for just a piece of cake so here comes the rest of my sweet treat.

Pandan ($60) - I saw this on a number of occasions but didn't quite pull the trigger coz I'm not a real fan of pandan. However, the combination of pandan and mango does look fairly intriguing.

This actually tasted a little better than I thought, with the acidity from the mango compote complementing the aromatic flavors of pandan very nicely. Definitely won't mind having it again.

Le Peninsula ($60) - The cake shop's signature pastry in its pageboy hat shape again didn't disappoint.

There's a very pleasant mix of contrasting flavors and textures coming from the yoghurt mousse, madeleine and pink grapefruit compote, all of which harmonized each other perfectly. Love the fact that they infused the pink grapefruit with jasmine tea to give a bit more fragrance. Without a question, the best of the three.

Food Rating: 6.5/10
Price: $$$$
Address: Shop 7-9, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 2920-2888

Monday, April 17, 2017

L'Eclair de Génie (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

We still got another half an hour to go before our movie starts so I guess dessert was not totally out of the question.

It's been a while since I last visited L'Eclair de Génie at PP and it's nice to see they finally got a "permanent" home after its pop-up location expired a few months ago.

I didn't know that they have started selling homemade ice-cream too! Something unexpected to add to our sweet treats today.....

Choux pastry with Lemon yuzu sorbet ($58) - They're currently offering 6 flavors of homemade ice-cream (lemon yuzu, salted caramel, chocolate, passion fruit, vanilla and pistachio) to go with their choux pastry but disappointingly only the lemon yuzu flavor was available this afternoon as the rest of them were already sold out (at 3PM!?).

I must admit I was never a big fan of strong acidity so I would biasedly tell you that the sorbet wasn't all that good. And more surprisingly was the fact that the choux pastry wasn't particularly good neither. I guess I expected a little more from an eclair specialist.

But the eclairs, well they're still very good.....

(N°05) - Caramel Beurre Sale ($38) - Their best seller by a country mile. Thought salted caramel always goes well with the choux pastry. 

(N°144) - Matcha Bambou ($38) - I don't remember this being so good last time I had it but the matcha icing was perfect and ovely sweet. 

(N°136) - Praline Chocolate ($55) - My personal favorite here. The combination of nutty flavors (hazelnut, praline....etc) never disappoints.

I thought all three of those were really excellent this afternoon (maybe due to the fact that I haven't had one of these for a long time). Now time to get my popcorn and catch my movie...

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 113, Level 1 Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Admiralty
Tel: +852 2555-3980

Bizou American Brasserie (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

The parade of new restaurants never seem to end at Pacific Place, with Dim Sum Library and Hon 10 recently joining the party but first, we have Bizou to check off our list this afternoon.

Bizou is an American brasserie brought to us by Dining Concepts. You can think of it as the American interpretation of a traditional French brasserie. The food menu has been designed by consultant chef Magnus Hansson, a master baker and well traveled chef who is known for his focus on healthy, organic and vegetarian dishes (who happens to be a vegan himself). He's been recently doing a lot of work as partner of Jean Georges and with Bizou, he will re-visit the restaurant a couple of times per year and review the menu periodically. But for the time being, the kitchen is actually led by Head Chef Todd Williams, who's been with DC for a couple of years already. He's just been back after a stint as the opening executive chef for Porterhouse by David Laris.

Bizou have big shoes to fill taking over the space previously occupied by Grappa's Ristorante, a legend which has been around for 26 years but it looks like they are ready for the challenge. One of the nicest thing about Bizou is its intimate and cozy dining space highlighted by all the wooden panels and black leather. It makes us feel right at home.

We asked for a bit more space where we could park our little one's pram next to our table and the staff was kind enough to offer us their private room. That was the kind of service which we didn't expect from a Dining Concepts restaurant (sorry!).

But is the food as comforting as the service? Let's find out.....

Classic Caesar Salad ($108) - The same timeless combination of chopped romaine, parmesan and garlic croutons. That was just OK. Comparing to the same thing we had at ALTO Bar & Grill, another Dining Concept restaurant a couple of months ago, I thought it was a little disappointing especially the chopped romaine lettuce which wasn't particularly crisp. Not so-good start.

Boston Style Crab Cake, Breaded and Pan fried ($188) - Things got back on the right track with this nice piece of pan-fried crab cake.

It was stuffed full with fresh crab meat and almost nothing else (some places used an excessive amount of potato to make it look BIG but not right here) which was nice. The roasted pepper sauce was a nice touch too.

Swedish dill cured gravlax ($138) - This looked really small even for a starter. Underneath the thin slices of salmon gravlax was a toasted brioche and they had mustard dill sauce sprinkled all over them. Average at best.

Organic herb roasted chicken (Half - $184) - Apart from steaks, the selection of main dish was very limited (comparing to starters).

The roasted chicken was generously portioned and the meat was surprisingly tender. I like the intensity of the sauce too giving the chicken very good depth of flavors.

Oven Roasted Norwegian Salmon ($218) - Supposed to be one of the signature dishes here I was told but it was drawing mixed reviews from the four of us.

Personally, I thought the warm cucumber nage was a little bland. The roasted salmon itself was fine but there wasn't enough support from the rest of the ingredients.

Linguini and clams with chili, garlic and white wine butter sauce ($198) - Have I been eating too much salt and pepper lately coz this tasted very bland again. The sauce was a bit buttery as we all expected and it failed to bring out the best from the linguini.

This turns out to be an up-and-down affair with more downs (linguini and a few others) than ups (crab cake, roast chicken). I'm not entirely sure if I'd be back for another visit.

Food Rating: 4/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 132, 1/F, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Admiralty
Tel: +852 2871-0775

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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

I always found it tough to come up with ideas on where to eat on our long weekends. Since lately there weren't that many newbies in town, I thought I should visit some of my old favorites especially those I haven't been to for a long time. HeSheEat ticked all boxes as it used to be a place I visited on a regular basis due to its nice selection of drinks (mainly milkshakes for me), comfort food and dessert; and that's where we're heading this afternoon.

I admitted I was a big mistake on my part not to have my favorite Oreo milkshake here. I went with this toffee banana shake which was okay but would I trade it for an Oreo shake. Absolutely.

I was quite happy with my wild mushroom risotto last time I was here so I decided to get it again. This was served with black truffle and a generous portion of spring chicken. Not bad.

I've never been a huge fan of molten lava cake to be brutally honest and there's only a handful of places where I would attempt to order it, HeSheEat being one of them (and of course, Kasa 家香). Instead of my favorite matcha molten lava cake, I went with the toffee and nuts version. This was a pretty clever idea on paper with flavors from toffee, hazelnut and pistachio working well together but I didn't like its partnership with the rum raisin ice-cream. Thought the acidity from the rum raisin kind of ruin the sweet and nutty theme a bit.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 201, 2/F Causeway Bay Place, 2-10 Great George Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2868-2277