Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Jasmine Place, Jardine House, Central

We manage to get a seat at Jasmine Place (Shop 5, LG/F Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Hong Kong Central, tel : +852 2524 5098) without prior reservations on the condition that we had to vacate the table when the people who made reservations arrived. Wasn't a problem. This restaurant as I found out is run by the Maxim Group. 

Their char siew is apparently one of the items to order. We did and it was good. I haven't been eating a lot of char siew in Hong Kong, this was definitely one of the better ones I've had so far. The savoury barbecued pork was latticed with fat that crumbled in the mouth.

These char siew sou are done with lemon. Juice maybe. There was definitely an accent of lemon in the pastry. While competently done, it doesn't quite come on par with the ones from Imperial Treasure which are still one of the best I've had.

We ordered stuffed chicken wings.

They were stuffed with glutinous rice. Pretty tasty. The flavours of the dried shrimp came through in from the rice.

These are one of the better siew mai with toppings that we've had. These here are topped with scallops. Which weren't overcooked and managed to preserve their rather delicate flavours. I thought they were quite nicely done.

Har gao was decently done as well. Definitely way ahead of those at Luk Yu Tea House.

The other item that we've never had before anywhere else were their crispy beef briskets. Beef briskets that were deep fried in a batter. This was really quite good. The portions were rather large for a single order as well, so it's definitely for sharing. Those briskets were moist and tender under their crisp batter. This stuff comes with some chilli oil and a sweet & sour sauce for dips, but it actually works quite well with just some salt.

This restaurant belongs to the 'refined' category, so be prepared to pay a little bit more. The non dim sum portions of the menu looks pretty good as well. Well, maybe next time in bigger numbers we come.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spasso Italian Bar & Restaurant, Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

From the DiVino Group to TripAdvisor to the South China Morning Post, I hear about the stunning view of the Victoria harbour at Spasso (Empire Centre, 68 Mody Rd, Hong Kong, tel : +852 2730 8027). It's a view I'm sure, but I really don't know about stunning. And it's far too close to the busy road that I'd be inhaling vehicle exhaust along with my olive oil. I know because we were almost as close as it can get to the outdoor terrace without actually being outdoors.

That aside, food was pretty good and service was rather good. But the latter is likely to be because of a particular wait staff that attended to our table. I could tell we would not be getting the same type of service from simply anyone else. The restaurant is helmed by a Michele Senigaglia, Venetian born but the menu isn't from that part. I can't pin point exactly where, but it's probably southern Italian. One detects Sicilian and Sardinian. But to the food...

This was the sequence of the food based on the recommendation of the wait staff due to what we ordered. The recommendation made sense and we agreed with doing the seafood stuff first before the lamb. For the first time in a very long time, we skipped starters/antipasto.

The first dish that was served was simply called Sardinian sea bass fillet. With potato scales and a very delicious orange-rosemary sauce. This was sophisticated yet simple at the same time. The individual components were nicely done and it was all presented with some effort. I am curious as to how those potato scales were done.

Then came the Sicilian red prawn and blood orange risotto. Carnaroli rice.They tool al dente really seriously and it was much more toothsome than we had expected out of the rice. A little more cooked would be nice. The flavours were a balance of some crustacean, I'm guessing stock off the prawns and blood oranges. The fruit left a light citrus element to the rice, but the dish was on the overall savoury. I was hoping that it would be a little fruity, but I guess that's not how it was meant to be.

This was simply New Zealand lamb chops on the menu. It came with a black truffle crust and a fresh thyme jus reduction. This was really nicely done as you can see from the beautiful shade of pink.

So good that I just needed to put up another picture of the other side.

The black truffle crust was the damp kind, superbly balanced by virtue of quantity to match the lamb-y flavors of the meat where neither overpowered the other. The meat was tender, fat laced and....just very delicious. It came to the point where we had to cast the utensils aside for a more primeval method of removing the meat off the bones. Followed by wiping the plate down with bread so that none of the jus went to waste.

And this was the clean bone tribute paid in testimony to how much we enjoyed the lamb.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fei ngau from the noodle shop at 209 Sai Yeung Choi South Street

I admit that I was suckered into this shop (209 Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok) by the signage that they had outside (middle row, fourth column). It looked like they were advertising for rare sliced beef on top of piping hot rice noodles, but the outcome was rather different. Granted, I never specifically asked for doneness of the meat so it might have been my fault. Still the bowl tasted pretty good.

The bright spot for this event was actually the discovery (I could be really slow to this but...) of beef that I could order from regular Chinese stall/shops that I would eat apart from briskets and offal. Yes, cow meat that's not been bicarbonated to death prior to any cooking. And the name is fei ngau. Which directly translates to fatty cow/beef. Those thinly sliced fat laced meat that are used for shabu shabu/hotpots.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Luk Yu Tea House (陸羽茶室), Stanley Street, Central

Luk Yu Tea House (G/F - 3/F 24-26 Stanley Street, Central, tel : +852 2523 5464) as I gather is an institution for traditional Chinese food in this parts. I've never really heard of them until the past couple of years and it seems that apart from what they are, the place is also famous because of the gun down of a businessman by a hitman from the triad. Maybe the spirit still lingers somewhere.

The food?  It was okay based on a sampling of dim sum. Wouldn't say that these are the tastiest that I've had. To be fair, I've to mentioned that I had been informed prior to the visit that they best items that they do requires pre-order and that one should visit in large groups to appreciate as in most Chinese restaurants.

These are baked char siew buns. The exterior is like bread, not the skin of the traditional steamed variety.

They tasted pretty much like how they looked. With their savoury and sweet blend of char siew bits.

This was some pastry, I don't remember what it's called. The fillings contain minced duck and bits of pineapple.

The pastry itself was okay. What didn't work for me was the fillings. In spite of what it's been named for, I could hardly taste the duck. The bits of pineapple were meagre and most of the flavour came from dried shrimps.

These are some sort of liver siew mai. Meat balls beneath butterflied pork liver. Those meat balls taste like what one gets in siew mai. The livers were just livers. Nothing exceptionally good or bad about them.

Their regular siew mai was pretty decent though.

Har gao here was pretty bad. These were quite small and on top of that, had thick skins. I'm not sure how traditional are those thick skins, but I guess that most people enjoy the more refined renditions with thinner skin and more generous fillings. To be honest, I could hardly identify the insides as shrimp.

Those above are almond rolls. They're texture like rice rolls, with more bite. Something like the Nonya kueh lapis. The flavours of almond are all over the rolls and I thought they were pretty good. The potions looked pretty large, but those rolls went down with relative easy and wasn't heavy at all.

I'm pretty sure that these weren't a representative of what Luk Yu can do, but it's what we had and I didn't feel that it was impressive enough that'll get me clamouring back. Institution or not.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Platypus Kitchen, Bugis Junction

This (200 Victoria Street, #03-29 Bugis Junction, tel : +65 6333 4434) is the same group that operates Platypus Lobster Shack down at China Square that does pastas and risottos. Apparently, they have brought over a few of their items down from the lobster shack into this restaurant, which makes it much more convenient than the latter location. Items like their allegedly limited crustacean bowl and some of their lobster rolls. What they do not have here, is the option for their lobster rolls to be ordered without the set. But the set here comes with fries and not chips.

This was actually a little disappointing. I was looking forward to their crustacean bowl which features a plethora of items including uni creme with the lobster. In execution, most of the flavours were lost except for the aburi-ed cheddar, the lobster and perhaps, those fish roe. The rest of the stuff were a jumble of flavours that didn't quite identify itself as anything. They could have taken out the uni cream and passed on the savings to us and no one would be wiser miss it. The portion was rather small for what they charged, but it tasted pretty good.

The lobsters from their roll here were a step down from the ones at the shack. The meat was literally shreds, not even small chunks. All that butter poaching didn't even leave behind much of the butter flavours. Oh yes, that urchin and lobster bisque is really just at best a cream of crustacean soup. It's not a bisque. I could buy frozen bisque from Fassler, microwave it and it would taste a lot more like a real lobster bisque. No uni flavours too. Which made us quite glad that we didn't shell out more for their uni roll. Their crab cakes are horrible. The meat was obviously frozen and minced to the point when it was close to being mushy. One could also see that a sizeable percentage of those cakes were the breaded crust.

One notices that a lot of their ingredients are obviously recycled into different dishes.

I wonder if their pastas would fare better.