Nuffnang Ads

Showing posts with label Hong Kong holiday 3. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hong Kong holiday 3. Show all posts

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bites HK: Ippudo Ramen @ Tsim Sha Tsui

Ippudo Ramen is one of the mainstream franchises from Japan that is taking the world by storm.  With its first Australian shop running on a high in Westfield Sydney, there is no doubt that we will see a similar trend happening in Perth.  But before it comes, is Ippudo Ramen really all that good?  Well, I was in Hong Kong last Christmas and had the opportunity to try the franchise  a little closer to the home of ramen, Japan.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPork belly buns is an appetizer bun that seemed really popular,so I followed and decided to order one!  The pork was soft but to say “OH! It melts-in-your-mouth” would be an overstatement.  Steamed buns were soft and fluffy.  I found myself not understanding the hype.  Back in Malaysia, I would sometimes see a generous slice of pork belly sandwiched between fluffy buns that really hits you like BAM!  This was nowhere near that in comparison. The meat was just so little!  But for most people, it must have been enough.  If not Momofuku would not even be half as famous as it is now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe little darling ordered some Gyoza for us to share too.  It was perfectly cooked on the outside as the picture shows.  But what it does not show is the filling which were OK but it could have been juicier on the inside.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARamen is what we were here for and for their December special, Ippudo HK had a special Ramen on promotion.  The soup tasted great and noodles still had enough resistance when clipped out using chopsticks.  To make it easier maybe I should just call it Chinese Al Dente? haha.  The oozy center of the egg was very yummy but when I look at the ramen package as a whole, what is so special about Ippudo?  I struggled to find my answer. 

From this bowl of delicious noodles, I did not see how it differentiates itself enough to make an impact in town.  I would rather go to Nao or Dosukoi over this anytime.  However, if we had something more unique like Menya Musashi or Santouka Ramen in Australia, then we are talking!  Conclusion?  Ippudo is OK only.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

HK Bites: Mak’s Noodles @ Central, HK

If you look around the internet, there is no doubt that wantons are easily one of the most popular things to try in Hong Kong besides yum cha and roast meats.  So where do you find the best bowl of noodles?  Well, I have been to a few place but none gets more rave reviews than Mak’s Noodles.  Located just opposite Tsim Sai Kee (TSK)which also provide similar offerings, Mak’s Noodles and TSK are fierce competitors which are dividing the locals.  Ok maybe not all the locals as most prefer TSK for its good bang per buck ratio.  But how can I say that I have traveled to Hong Kong without eating the most raved about noodle shop?

The prawn wanton noodles $30 HKD.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANeedless to say, when the noodles came in a bowl no bigger than a small soup bowl I was shocked.  It was really tiny!  But where substance was concerned, the springy noodles cooked just right were an absolute joy to slurp.  The broth used was rich and tasty.  Chopped scallions too, gave the noodles a great fragrant!    My favourite part of the noodles were undoubtedly the wantons.  The prawns were fresh and bursty just the way it should be!  Perhaps that was why the place is always packed.  But if you had asked me whether I was mind blown by the overall dish, I would say not really.  Great eat but not a mind blowing one.


As the little darling do not like prawns, she ordered Mak’s dry noodles with pork chutney.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANoodles again were cooked spot on without question.  I had a little of the chutney and found it very flavorful.  It had a few spices which elevated its taste but what let me down was the meat itself.  I was expecting something a little more melt in your mouth but the meat was just lean right through.  The little darling enjoyed this!


The meal at Mak’s was no less impressive as the debate it causes among the online community.  It was cooked well, the noodles really nice with a really nice bounce as you clip it with your chopsticks and wave away the heat.  The prawn wantons were faultless and broth really tasty.  Conversely, would this little charm be many times better than its across-the-road rival TSK? I would say not.  How about the ones I have in the most random places in Hong Kong?  I reckon if I had given Mak’s a full 30/30, TSK runs in close at 28 and most that I have eaten would be a 24 easy.  So would I come back?  Definitely yes!  In a rush?  No.



Monday, February 4, 2013

Revisited: L’ Atelier de Joel Robuchon @ HK.

What makes a great restaurant I have asked myself over and over.  Ingredients?  Skill?  Creativity?  Sitting in a 2 starred restaurant just two days ago, I ate food that was of many sorts.  Delicious, normal and even boring.  Yet even the most boring of dishes did not feel lacking in ingredients, skill or creativity.  Nevertheless, time and time over, one restaurant have seemed to maintain their standards.  Starting with a two star reputation on my first visit and now the proud holder of its  final third star, L’ Atelier de Joel Robuchon has been a magnificent dining experience.  
The start is a clean entrance to the restaurant where you are greeted by your hostess, brought to your sit and offered bottled water. But do not fret, you have a choice of tap too. The waiter then takes over and explains the meal and various dining experiences for this night.
When you are finished with the orders, out comes the best bread basket I have eaten.  Ever.
This was the bread basket for 3.  Your are spoilt for choices.  Easily, most diners at L’ Atelier have been quoted saying that they feel a need to finish it, but are worried about the coming courses.  Indeed you should.  Easily there are over 5 types of bread.  Maybe 6 or even 7.   If you are a bread fan, you would be sold.  But more importantly, there is something for everyone.  My favorites of the lot were the twists, croissants and the fruity roll.   It was simply sublime for something no penny is paid for.
Amuse bouche was a little parmesan biscuit with tomato and ham accompanied by a shot glass filled with a cream of artichoke with ginger and carrot.  Something so small yet so much impact.  The light parmesan biscuit was really airy with a delicious slice of ham and some tomato.  Imagine a biscuit and ham from the cold platter but a 3 starred version with a lot of substance and ingredients :)!
The combination for me was spot on.  It was still that lovely creamy taste!  That slices of carrot did not do too much but the hint of ginger throughout the cream was a pleasant surprise for some like me who did not like ginger.   But something about the warm chestnut soup I had earlier in 2012 makes me crave for that more.
For the soup course:
Corn veloute, beef jelly and caviar.  This was a decadent little bugger.  To be honest, I hated corn soups until now.  In fact, I never understood how does one enjoy corn in any soup! Even in the Chinese ones as the corn tend to overpower everything.  But in this case, the corn flavor was really subtle.  Something typical in cold soups where the taste of the main ingredient tend to be less intense but slowly picks up in flavors over ones tongue.  The beef jelly was a great addition to the soup as it slowly melted to the heat in your mouth.  Caviar, pop corn and little croutons were textural wonders for this little soup! A great surprise! 
The little darling got a little more posh with her starter.
Chicken broth, black truffles, parmesan net served with a side of black truffle toastie. Seriously.  Who serves black truffle puree in toast.  This was really yummy.  I could not help myself but dig into the little darling’s soup.  It was yummy.  One can really get  a good feel of flavor and aroma of the black truffles in there.  Sort of makes an ordinary experience into a gourmet one.  Nice!

For the darling, she did not deviate from what she had during her trip here before.
Black cod fillet with smooth daikon cream and olive oil.  The fish for starters were  cooked to perfection.  Flake by flake it fell apart.  However, the daikon cream albeit being smooth was a bit of a turn off for me.  It had a bitter aftertaste which the waiter say is typical.   For me, that is the difference of whether it was cooked well or not.  I have eaten daikon and every time it turns out bitter, it is sad when one insist that it is the natural way it should be.  Maybe a pre boil? This could have been an awesome eat!
My main presented before me again, looked very artsy.  Pork flap with greens and other edible leaves.  My expectation was something rather tough.  Perhaps somewhere around the ear haha.  Ear flap lols. I have never eaten flap meat before.  But this was just spectacularly moist.  And its accompaniment the mash (bottom pic) was legendary.  Obviously butter was a big player in this delicious mash but hey! Once in a while!
Who says mash cannot be brought to a whole new level!?  One of L’ Atelier’s bragging rights.
The little darling’s final course was something I recommended to her based on my liking.  She happily went with it. 
Kagoshima beef and foie gras burger with lightly caramelized bell peppers.  If you thought the wagyu sliders at Merrywell was good.  This was even better.  It was reach creamy and woah!  The perfect fast food meal.  Really a once in a life time thing considering how rich this was.  In fact, if you read one of my post about how I have eaten various foie gras which went from dry to creamy to rich.  On a scale of 0-100. This was 101.  See the post on Sage here.  In fact, when the little darling tried to press in down, the foie gras literally smashed into a puree.  It was a class act.  Shoe string chips were crisp but it was no killer side.  But hey?  Burger and chips are probably the marriage in the world! Nom nom nom nom!
My final course was the lobster risotto!  Lobster flesh was succulent being cooked just right.  Risotto sauce carried a decently strong flavor like a bisque.  But thicker.  As an avid fan of most shell fish, this was slurps!  The risotto was silky, each piece still separated not like some really bad ones that turned out gluggy.   Another thumbs up! Picture will come up once the little darling sends it over :)!
Last bit of the night were the desserts which I will let the pictures do the talking :)!!
The Chestnut which was part of my dinner set menu.
The Pear which was darling’s choice for the night.
The Apple which was my dining companion’s choice.
The final complementary course of the night besides the amuse bouche and bread were the  Petit Fours.  Small oven creations from the Robuchon kitchen are another magical part of the evening.  Faultless.
At the end of the night, I cannot thank L’ Atelier enough for being a great host once again.  Plate by plate each put together so meticulously with the emphasis on perfection.  I could barely fault with anything except the daikon cream that darling had with the black cod.  Otherwise, this meal was great.  However though, my dining companions who were not the keenest of fine dining found a few dishes to strong for their palate.  One such instance was the sea urchin with lobster jelly which was way too strong in seafood flavor.  I had a taste of it myself and found that it was a little heavy on the heavy side.
A meal at Robuchon like mine cost approximately $HKD780 while if you picked 4 individual dishes including a dessert, that would set you back approximately $HKD1000.  This really is no small sum of money.  On the streets, great feed start as low as $HKD30.  Not everyone likes fine dining and would compare it to being able to eat tones of street food.  Some like it, some hate it.  With a hate mentality like that, it is hard for one to appreciate the finesse revolving around effort of one putting together a plate of art with the hands of many.  Nevertheless, the few decadent meals every year does not revolve around the need for luxury, but rather a treat.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bites: Ming Court (2 Michelin Stars) @ Langham Place, Hong Kong

One very simple rule about traveling.  If you are really on a food journey, then you really have to try the best local food.  And so I did.  With so many restaurants in the country, one would literally be lost in translation.  Where do I go to?  This?  That? Where? Whatttttttttt?  But with Michelin guides, you do not have too many to choose from.  Just a simple list.  For my Christmas Eve dinner, I thought to myself, instead of leaving Mongkok and crowd with everyone heading to Tsim Sha Shui or Central, we would just eat in the hotel itself.  But Langham Place is no lousy hotel and that includes having quality restaurants too.  This includes the 2 Michelin Star Chinese Restaurant, Ming Court.  Coming at 8pm we  were promptly attended to and was brought to a table which was already awaiting our arrival.  I have to say even without a picture, that the restaurant looked fantastic.  Its long and warmly lit walkway made me feel like I was in Rockpool for a bit!



Dipping sauces of XO Sauce and Spicy Bean Paste.


Then comes the food we ordered.  While most have praised Yung Kee in Central for their divine roast goose, I have to insist that the one in Ming Court was pretty damn good too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has probably one of the best roast goose skin I have ever eaten.  It was really crisp!  But one thing I found rather weird was that the goose itself was not extremely tasty.  It was the sauce the goose was sitting on that tasted really delicious.  The meat was nothing to rave about but it was still fairly juicy for a roast!  However, goose being what it is felt a bit sickening after awhile as these had a good amount of fat in it.  5 ladies and 1 guy had problems finishing this meager first course.  I lol’ed.


Second coarse was the Bean Curd Sheet, Dried Shrimp Roe, White Button Mushroom, Chinese Black Mushrooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite the bean curd and mushrooms looking extremely heavy in flavor, it was not.  The flavor felt subtle, no Chinese Oyster Sauce overdose whatsoever.  It was just very light and gentle where you can really taste each individual flavors. In fact, it was the broccoli that complemented the dish with a salty braising sauce drizzled over it.  The shrimp roe here appeared to me as a textural element along with a little fragrant more than anything else.  Sandy little bugger.


Fish Maw, Vegetable, Bean curd, Mushrooms.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn my life, I have never eaten such weird looking fish maw ever ever before.  I guess this was one of the higher grade ones.  Then again, I have always though fish maw to be puffy little tubes.  But that does not matter much.  This was great as the broth was awesome.  Could have been better but good thing it was light because most of the dishes I have ordered were quite heavy on the palate.


Third Course was the 2009 HK Silver Culinary Award Winner the Giant Groper Enrobed in Minced Shrimp, Pepper Shrimp.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really liked this one.  The minced shrimp on the fillet provided a nice chewiness to the fish.  And oh, the still crispy skin of the fish made this really moorish! Definitely could have more of that!  While I did not touch the prawn head, Nigga’s mom happily ate a few.  And while the vegetables look like decorative items, they were meant to tone the dish giving a healthier feel.  Not that it mattered to me.  I was on holiday! hohohoho!


Fourth Course was an in-house signature dish of Silky Egg White, Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Perilla Leaf.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile this was a feast to the eyes, we slow eaters left it out for too long making these fluffy layers of egg white pillows oily.  The food really came out quite quickly @@!  I guarantee it could have been very pleasant when ate warm but I guess we were a little too slow!  The prawns that was hidden inside though was still delicious with a hint of pepper.  More importantly, it was cooked spot on! :)!


The fifth course was a course of Pan-Seared Chicken, Water Chestnuts,Black Truffle, Buttery Pumpkin.  It was something all us agreed tasted like a Michelin Starred Creation!  More importantly for Ming Court, this dish was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2010 HK Culinary Awards.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe idea was simple a chicken cake mixed with finely diced chestnuts for that little bits of sweet crunchy feeling.  Buttery pumpkin did its job of bring subtle sweetness along with  buttery sensation.  The whole idea for me went really really well.  It was tasty, yet light on the palate despite looking like something drenched in black pepper sauce.  The truffle was used sparingly and provided no more than a modest coating.  Delicious!  It for me was the star of the night!


Our final course to fill the already filled tummies were diced black chicken fried rice.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis although fried to perfection, it did not entice me.  The “wok-hei” as the Chinese calls it or flavor of a hot wok was really alluring but somehow, the flair of an old school yong chow fried rice would have sufficed.  No need for fancy black chicken or additional ingredients.  Nonetheless, this was not a bad fried rice at all. 


Our meal at Ming Court was really enjoyable but in terms of pricing, one would definitely not call Ming Court cheap.  The meal for 6 including tea added up to 2000HKD or $40 a head which is pretty on par with most upper market places in Australia.  However, the quality and ingredients used today were no simple thing one can easily order outside.  But was this really a 2 Michelin Star restaurant?  I really found that a difficult question to answer.  The roast goose felt somewhat lackluster for something so highly rated.  The bean curd dish was special but not quite that 2 stars along with the fried rice and fish maw dish.  But when it came to the shrimp enrobe giant groper or the chicken with truffles, I decided to put the petty issues aside and enjoy the food for what it was worth.  Such special dishes in my opinion might not be super new because fusing two meat together has been done quite frequently, but the way Ming Court does it, I was sold.   So there you have it.  Will I return?   Yes.  Next time around, I know what I would order :)!