Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yasuhan Japanese Restaurant, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

This dinner at Yasuhan (2/F, Radiant Centre, No.7 Cannon Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, tel : +857 9222 8843) which was a tiny restaurant without menu was an omakase arranged by a friend (thanks Alice!).

From the facade of streets just outside the building, one would little suspect that it housed the tiny 18 seater (I approximated) that whipped out exquisite Japanese cuisine at a price point that would put shame to similarly typed establishments back home.

And there was a pretty textured paper place mat that denoted the season.

I liked the food. I was pretty sure that the pan fried A5 wagyu and fat laced toro slices, both of which were sweet and buttery swerved me towards a generally favorable disposition. I would have been remiss if I had not mentioned, that the largest hunk of floral uni which was the length from the tip of my thumb to the base helped to that as well. I am sometimes, that easily made happy.

The rest of the items were so so, but the flavors were clean and precise. The fruit served at the end were surprisingly aromatic slices of apple of a balanced sweetness. Best damn apple I've ever had.

Dragon Garden, Mongkok, Hong Kong

No, Dragon Garden (G/F, 230 Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Hong Kong, tel : +857 2381 8511) or Chiu Long Yuen as I am able to translate wasn't the name of any Chinese restaurant. It was just in fact an one of numerous ubiquitous frills free eatery along Watercress Street, located just a few units away from the Yee Shun Milk Company in the vicinity. After having had a breakfast and a supper, we decided that this place was definitely worth a mention

The fare served in this particular eatery is probably not unique, but it was conveniently located at the hotel we were staying that it was possible for us to revisit for a not so late night supper (they close at around midnight) of their tender and fatty beef brisket and mixed beef innards with rice that included tripe, liver and braised beef lungs!

It had also seemed that the brisket and the tendon option for either soup or rice comes with a different gravy and each of their generously portioned rice sets are accompanied by a tasty and savory seaweed soup. Certainly what defines for me as hearty meals without the frills. I wasn't able to find out anything about this eatery so I think these guys may be fairly new?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fung Lam Restaurant, Shatin, Hong Kong

This restaurant is located just across the road from Tai Wai MTR station and from what I've been told, is considered an institution around these parts. Apparently, they are known for their deep fried pigeons and they were pretty much the reason why we picked lunch here.

The first of the orders that arrived were deep fried salted prawn. The shells were salty in a good way that it made me suck them of as much flavors as I could before shelling them to reveal firm crunchy flesh of the crustacean. With little to de-track from the original flavors, these were as good as one could get with fresh deep fried prawns.

There was deep fried tofu stuffed with a strip of shrimp on the top. The hot and silky textured tofu tasted pretty much like how they looked.

Hairy gourd with chopped garlic.

I remember having had roasted pigeons a couple of years back in Macau. These deep fried version from Fung Lam were a little less succulent, less tender but I guess they were tasty the same. I was expecting the birds to be smaller, but the pigeons were pretty large here.

The second bird dish that made lunch today came in the form of chicken stir fried in a black bean sauce. The sauce, to my standards was excellent, possessing of much more body in the flavors and aroma than what can be commonly found back at home. I had no idea what else when into them and I only wished that I had space for more rice to go with it.

Fung Lam serves a pretty passable fried rice with conpoy. I couldn't remember much of it apart from the fact that it lacked the "wok hei" that many people are fond of, but it left the impression of being quite respectable if a little damp and bland.

The restaurant serves a complimentary dessert of a diluted walnut paste of sorts. I didn't think it was really interesting in any way.

Linguini Fini, The L Place, Central, Hong Kong

I read about this place (G/F, The L Place, 139 Queen’s Rd, Central, Hong Kong, tel : +852 2857 1333 ) which appeared in Hong Kong's 2012 Michelin guide for their home made pasta, house baked bread, locally sourced ingredients and their own house cured meat somewhere before, so we decided to give it a try to see what the place was all about. In my mind, I was thinking that the theme ought to be rustic, but I was pretty surprised to see the first floor dominated by a bar with a DJ spinning music.

We managed a slot for dinner without making reservations. I think we just got lucky and managed to land ourselves a table. If only I had known....

There was a starter, I ♥ Milanese which sounded great on menu, but fell totally flat on the face with the execution. This dish was basically breaded and deep fried pig heart. Unfortunately, the slices of the heart were so thin, there was little identifiable flavor to the organ and whatever measly residual texture that might have been in there were lost in the avalanche of crisp from the breaded exterior.

The 8 Hour tripe sounded like the previous dish, rather promising on menu. In fact, I couldn't have known how correct I was about an element of déjà vu going to happen here.

The reality was that the texture was mostly lost in the ragged scraps of tripe. The redemption factor of the dish was that it packed some nice heat and the toasted pancetta added some dimensions to the otherwise, unimpressive tomato flavors which I felt had lacked cheese in the first place. It was definitely nowhere in the leagues of La Braceria and Pietrasanta for comparisons.

The first of their pasta was a salt egg cured Genovese capellini. The server had explained that there was salted egg in the dough that was used for their pasta and the same salted egg was also shaven on top of the noodles upon serving. Maybe it was a beer that I had earlier that numbed my tongue. I could only get as much as a salted egg after taste. The coarse and what I think might have been hand chopped/blended pesto was well done and the noodles was perfectly al dente. The dish needed a bit more salt and because of the mention of salted egg, had flavors that was underwhelming.

By this time, things were starting to feel a little forlorn. The salvation of the dinner appeared in the form of their chittara done in a meaty sauce of pancetta, pork liver, brown butter and 30 yr old balsamic vinegar. The hearty sauce packed a daring punch of flavors which was sadly lacking in all the previous dishes. This has both richness from the livers and pork belly, tamed by the zest of the vinegar that prevented the said richness from being overwhelming.

As much as I would like to tell myself that I'm never coming back again, I probably would do so just for this!

We opted for a lemon olive oil cake with poppyseed gelato. No lemon flavors in there.

It was actually quite a disappointing visit in comparison to what I had imagined the place to be for all their marketing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Classified, Exchange Square Podium, Central, Hong Kong

Wow, this place (Shop 313, 3/F Exchange Square Podium, 8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong, tel : +852-2147 3454) wasn't too bad at all. I think I've found myself a new joint for casual ang moh food to like when in Hong Kong.

What was this place? From what I could make out of it, a cafe that also does artisanal cheeses with what felt to me was great sandwiches. Both of the latter right up my alley.

We started off with their baked Camembert with truffle which was really also gently perfumed with roasted garlic and rosemary. To my surprise, they actually managed to pull off a balance in the aromatics that they had applied to the baked cheese that all of the flavors somehow worked without contention. If I could have my way about this, I personally could have done without the rosemary since the truffle was really the draw over here. The runny cheese was definitely a great spread with their poppy seed and sesame laced sourdough slices.

The grilled steak sandwich pulled me in with descriptives like Rocquefort butter. Well, the butter did arrive late, but lived up to its namesake which made an excellent spread.

I was initially wondering how I could have eaten this thick ribeye (medium doneness, no less!) sandwich with my hands, no spillage (yes, the onion chutney there!) and unhinging of my jaws, but I gave up after a modicum of token effort and stuck with it open faced with fork and knife. Thanks to my less barbaric method of eating, I was left with the top cover of the sandwich to indulge the Rocquefort butter with.

Their burger was simply known as the Classifed burger and was probably hands down, one of the best burgers I've had for that price point. For HKD 96, it was an excellent grilled patty of hand chopped beef topped with Swiss cheese, English back bacon between sourdough crusted with black and white sesame and poppy seed.

The meat (of specifiable medium doneness) was needless to say, sufficiently juicy and flavorful (of both the meat and the char grill) and for what it cost, there is nothing, I mean absolutely nothing in back home that can match it at this point of writing.

And a cappucino - which was decent if unexceptional, with competently done foam - to wash down the brunch.

Think I might make it a point to come back again the next time I visit.

Fong Wing Kee Hot Pot Restaurant, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

This place was pretty good there. It almost felt like I had to do an obligatory hot pot dinner just like the previous time round. Along with it this time round, the novelty of having a steamboat dinner without breaking sweat. Cool beans!

Fong Wing Kee basically does hot pot meals and apparently one of the specials that they have is a satay based broth which was really quite tasty without packing in too much heat. There was probably much too much food for me to really describe them here, so it's basically broad strokes with what I could remember.

The vegetables were fresh and the seafood was great. The special surprise for me were their gigantic, fat and succulent oysters which were creamy in texture exceptional in fresh flavors. There was a great deep fried fish skin that made excellent dipping platform for their satay broth.

Amazing oysters here!