Saturday, July 13, 2019

Duo Patisserie (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

I'm spending some quality time with my family this weekend including some father-and-son bonding activities this afternoon (indoor cycling in Kwun Tong!). As soon as we finished up our cycling lesson, I decided to take an hour's break to catch some me time.

Located in the little-known Aegean Place between Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok, Duo Patisserie is a French-style pastry shop caught in a wrong neighborhood but it's been getting some attention on the social media network. So, I thought it's worth checking out while I was in the area. 

But sadly, only three choices available (chocolate truffle cake, caramel coffee cake and cheese baileys cake). I know, it's a Saturday.

Cheese and Baileys ($47) - I remembered seeing this on the social media so I am guessing it's a signature dessert or at least a popular item around here. The now-a-little-outdated mirror glaze was fun but I was more interested in what's inside.

I thought the texture was interesting. It was soft like marshmallow but there's no contrasting texture (nor flavor) in between the different layers so that was disappointing. When it comes to flavor, cream cheese and Baileys do look like an interesting match on paper but it ended up tasting more like a tiramisu (mascarpone and espresso).

Another thing I found odd was the venue. It was my first visit to Aegean Place and what I didn't know was that it's a fancy name for a food court. Most of the cafes here like Duo Patisserie share the same dining hall (as pictured below) and although I had no trouble sitting there enjoying my cake, it wasn't a pleasant enough place where I could sit all afternoon and chill out.

Food Rating: 4.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 5F4, G/F Hung To Centre, 94-96 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kwun Tong
Tel: +852 9381-2885

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Louise by Julien Royer at PMQ (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★★☆

If Ecriture was the most anticipated restaurant opening in Hong Kong last year, then this year's title has got to belong to recently opened Louise at PMQ. Taking over the space previously occupied by one of my favorite restaurant Aberdeen Street Social, Louise is a brainchild between JIA Group and Chef Julien Royer of Odette Singapore which has just been freshly crowned Asia's Best Restaurant earlier this year.

Renowned designer Andre Fu (who's behind the design of the new St Regis Hotel in Wanchai) has turned the space into a more intimate and cozy place highlighted by its colonial chic decor.

Unlike Odette, Louise is more of a casual bistro serving hearty traditional French fare with a modern twist.

The weekday set menu is not available on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead, they offer a short and sharp brunch menu with a section dedicated to eggs.

Homemade brioche ($28) - Starting things off for us was a basket of buttery homemade brioche, served with butter and raspberry jam. Perfect start for my little one who's a huge bread lover.

Ôra King salmon gravlax, warm potato, dill cream ($238) - I love fuller, thicker slices of smoked salmon and salmon gravlax so these are right up my alley.

What impress me the most about these gravlax is the fact that they weren't overly cured so the texture was still nice and moist. A terrific starter with the slightly lemony dill cream marrying well with the distinct salmon flavors.

Polmard beef tartare, French fries, salad ($258) - Made with prized beef from renowned French butcher Polmard, our tartare dish was presented the traditional way with a raw egg yolk atop. 

There were great depth of flavors coming from the aged Polmard beef, combining well with the garden green and pearl onion for a perfect, palate-pleasing finish.

Confit cod, white beans, chorizo, piquillos, mint ($348) - A beautifully plated dish with slices of confit cod fish sitting on a bed of diced chorizo, white beans, piquillos and mint, finished off with a trio of crispy chorizo wafer on top. Not an overly complicated dish but the interpretation was simply flawless.

Louise "Croaffle", whipped cream, maple syrup ($128) - A happy marriage between a flaky croissant and crispy waffle. This was served like a typical waffle with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup. Not a bad way to wrap up this meal at all.

“Mama Royer” yogurt cake and ice-cream, confit lemon ($118) - Less successful was Mama Royer's yogurt cake with yogurt ice-cream and confit lemon. This really tasted like a typical French pound cake with a zesty glaze. A dish I could probably do without.

It's a truly impressive meal. Nothing really fancy, just some simple, hearty French dishes done right.

If there's a blemish from this meal, it's probably the fact that dishes like glazed Challans duck, pan-seared French veal sweetbread and Brittany dover sole “Meunière” were not on the brunch menu. I guess a return trip is a must.

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

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Pâtisserie Tony Wong (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

Life has been pretty boring of late so after leaving work a little early this afternoon, I decided to swing by Patisserie Tony Wong in Kwai Fong for some sweet treats to spice things up.

As always, there are some new seasonal items in place of old ones including the very eye-catching durian-shaped chiffon cake.

Ivory White ($50) - I have been sampling different cheesecakes around the city for my research on some of the best cheesecakes in town so this immediately caught my eyes.

The Ivory White composed of a sweet almond crust, white cheese mousse, strawberry confit and vanilla sponge, finished with a circular peach jelly on top. It looks adorable and the flavors very light and refreshing too.

It's the entire opposite to an American cheesecake. The texture was soft and very airy. I like the contrasting flavors from the different layers too, with a nice mix of sweetness (white peach, sweet almond crust) and acidity (strawberry).

Musang King Durian Chiffon Cake ($65) - I got this for Jelloman because she's such a durian addict.

Unlike the previous cheesecake, this durian themed chiffon cake was a very simple one with silky durian mousse and a durian flesh centre made with Musang King durian, sitting on top of a crispy Breton tart. You can really smell the aroma from the durian from miles away.

Food Rating: 6/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 329, 3/F, Metroplaza, 223 Hing Fong Road, Kwai Fong, NT, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Kwai Fong
Tel: +852 2410-8118

Monday, July 1, 2019

Wong Lo Kat Herbal Tea at Star Ferry Terminal 王老吉涼茶 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

You could never miss their eye-catching red aluminum packaging. Wong Lo Kat herbal tea (王老吉涼茶) which was rumored to have originated from the Qing Dynasty, was a hugely popular healthy drink when I was little. But it has vanished from the Hong Kong market in the last few years until I recently ran into their stall at Star Ferry Terminal (尖沙咀天星碼頭) in Tsim Sha Tsui.

I didn't really have a flu or anything but on a hot summer day, a thirst-quenching, ice-cold herbal tea should cool me off instantly, right?

It's been a while since I last spent time strolling around this part of Tsim Sha Tsui. Suddenly I'm feeling a bit nostalgic.....

Back in the days when we were kids, we didn't have luxury of visiting Disneyland (or playing with smartphones). So, it's places like the Star Ferry, Clock Tower and Tsim Sha Tsui harbour front that really got us through our childhood.

We spent some time checking out Hong Kong's iconic harbourfront while we were on our way to the park.

It's so nice to see the Avenue of Stars revamped into a this stylish and modern space where people can actually admire the view from different angles. Surprisingly, it's not that crowded on the 1st July public holiday. Where did everybody go?

Price: $$$
Address: Star Ferry Pier, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Kyoto Ichinoden 京都一の傳 (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★☆☆☆

Right from the get go, I knew this meal wasn't going to be an enjoyable one for me.

I heard about century-old Kyoto Ichinoden (京都一の傳) opening at Harbour City from a foodie friend of mine and since we were going to be shopping here this weekend, I decided to bring my family along. After patiently waiting at the reception area to be served, it was finally my turn. Honestly, I was a little annoyed by the couple standing in line just in front of me. They had all kinds of questions for the hostess (who's not very good with serving her customers to begin with). It took 10 minutes to sort out all their queries so they were ready to head into the restaurant. But wait, they didn't know the restaurant only serves set menu. So they needed more time to discuss among themselves to come up with a decision. There, 15 minutes of my time wasted for nothing.

So, it was my turn to step up to the plate. I told the hostess who wasn't very good with serving her customers that we have a party of four (my kid wasn't eating though). She said they're pretty full so the wait would likely be about an hour. I told her that's fine and we're okay with waiting but she was determined to get rid of us and started telling me that, "I'm afraid we can't accommodate you today. Perhaps some other time...". I didn't expect such words coming out of her mouth and was obviously upset. I began telling her that firstly, I have never heard of a restaurant that didn't allow customers to wait (unless it's a fine-dining restaurant who's been fully booked) especially that there's no one waiting in line. Secondly, I spotted at least 3 to 4 tables of four just finishing up their meals right about now. I didn't think the wait would be an hour I told her (unless she tells me those tables are already booked which she didn't). And just when we were still engaged in our heated discussion, a colleague of hers came out of the restaurant and told us there's already a table ready for us. An hour's wait, you said? As I slowly entered the restaurant, I looked at her one last time with a grim on my face. Not a good way to greet your customers!

Anyways, enough for my rant.

Hailed from Kyoto Japan, Kyoto Ichinoden is a traditional Japanese restaurant serving kaiseki cuisine. They are best known for their Saikyozuke, a traditional cooking method started in Kyoto where seasonal meat and fish are marinated in Saikyo miso. This is their first overseas branch outside Japan.

The restaurant offers three set menus at lunch, with virtually the same set of appetizers and a small list of main courses to choose from (Kiyomizu $158, Fushimi $198 and Gion $288).

The first to arrive was the Fushimi set. Apparently, it's the same appetizer platter for every set starting with a steamed egg custard topped by salmon roes, sesame pudding, stewed Japanese duck breast, pickled cucumber and so on and so forth. We were told to start from our left to right.

This set came with Ichinoden's signature ochazuke (お茶漬け) which is a simple rice dish that combines tea, steamed rice and an assortment of savory ingredients together. There were two seasonal toppings today, firstly Ichinoden's special marinated silver-warehou which has been placed on top of the steamed rice with some seaweed. 

For a restaurant known for its Saikyozuke, we had high expectation for this small piece of fish fillet and it certainly didn't disappoint. The miso flavor was very nice and comforting, meshing well with the sweetness of the fish.

The other topping was chicken.

Now, time to pour the hot tea into the rice. This was very soothing. I love this set.

Next up was the Kiyomizu set. Like I said the same appetizer platter, just a different grilled item which was Ichinoden style marinated salmon. This wasn't bad but I actually found the marinated silver-warehou a bit more tasty.

Something I started noticing at this point about the restaurant's service. It was very mechanic and most servers here looked very green and inexperienced. When our Kiyomizu set arrived, the server repeated the same line from the first server, that was to remind us to enjoy our appetizers from left to right. But what she didn't realize was the fact that she had the platter placed the other way around. Like I said, very mechanic like repeating something from a recorded message!

Our third set which was the Gion Set came with more or less the same cast, just a couple more snacks. For the grilled item, we opted for the grilled pork loin which was tender and juicy. Most importantly, the pork loin doesn't require a supplemental charge like salmon ($28), black cod ($88) or beef ($128) so I was quite happy with that.

Dessert was some Japanese sweets, which was followed by a bowl of green tea just like a traditional kaiseki meal.

I thought the food wasn't bad and the prices were reasonable considering it's housed under one of the premier shopping complex in town. The only thing that would have me thinking twice about coming back is service. And it's something I value very much from a dining experience.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: $$$
Address: Shop 402,4/F, Ocean Centre, 5 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852 3101-4981

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Igloo Dessert Bar (Hong Kong, CHINA) ★★★☆☆

After my three-Michelin starred lunch at Caprice, I took a slow and deliberate walk towards the Star Ferry Terminal in Central. It's nice to take a rare day off during the week. The crowd is noticeably smaller in the middle of the week so I can truly enjoy enjoy my walk without the trouble of being pushed around by the weekend crowd.

It's been a while since I last came here. I remember as a kid, my dad used to bring me here a lot taking ferries between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui (the terminal used to be in a different location). That's how I spent my summer days. How time flies. Now, it's my turn to bring my little one here to experience this small part of history left from the Old Hong Kong.

Of course, I have another mission at Central Ferry Pier 7 (Star Ferry) this afternoon - to check out the legendary White Rabbit Candy ice-cream at Igloo Dessert Bar.

For those who knows nothing about "White Rabbit Candy" (大白兔奶糖), it's a milk toffee candy wrapped with edible rice paper that used to be highly popular around the 1970's. Originated from the ABC Candy Factory of Shanghai in 1943, the brand has become an iconic sweets for children in Asian countries including Hong Kong thanks to its creamy and milky flavor.

When I first heard about Igloo Dessert Bar's White Rabbit Candy flavored ice-cream, I wasn't all that interested but since I'm in a nostalgic mood, I decided to drop by and give it a try.

Igloo Dessert Bar's artisanal ice-cream comes in all kinds of interesting flavors and some are inspired by local flavors such as White Rabbit Candy and Horlick. Despite a number of intriguing flavors, there's no chance I'm leaving the ice-cream shop without a scoop of their White Rabbit Candy flavored ice-cream.

It does taste a lot like White Rabbit Candy right from my first lick. I agree with some food bloggers that the flavors are a little too mild but it's definitely worth a try for old time's sake.

Food Rating: 5/10
Price: $$
Address: Shop C, Lower Deck, Pier 7 Star Ferry, Central, Hong Kong
Closest Metro Station: Hong Kong Station
Tel: +852 2656-3318