Thursday, December 24, 2009

Omakase at Kaiho Sushi

This omakase dinner at Kaiho Sushi was quite a let down. Even when we were already expecting no prawns, salmon and beef, it just didn't feel up to scratch. Was unexpected considering that their lunch sets were decent and good value for their location and offerings. On retrospect, this felt much like a fish dinner since it was mostly that. And pretty regular fish offerings at that. If I remember correctly the bill turned up just a little less than the dinners I've had at Akashi but was noticeably less impressive. I guess the only new thing here was the sardine tempuras and an interesting house made strawberry sake that was the highlight of the meal. Even the toro and uni didn't seem as satisfying.

Kaiho Sushi, omakasesome simmered fish....probably tuna

Kaiho Sushi, omakasesashimi moriawase?

Kaiho Sushi, omakaseasari butter itame

Kaiho Sushi, omakaseikura, uni, maguro and hamachi

Kaiho Sushi, omakasetempura sardines

Kaiho Sushi, omakasefish head soup

Kaiho Sushi, strawberry sake-tinithe strawberry sake

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An end-try for Hong Kong....

Yes, I did have dim sum. In old school tea houses. Several times. Just didn't take photos of them mostly. One of the things that I've never tried before now was a steamed pau roll of sorts that had lup cheong in the middle. Man that was some good greasy fatty roll I wish I could find back home. And those amazing roast geese that I couldn't get enough of.....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Smelly tofu from a street stall in Mongkok

smelly tofu Mongkok

It was the smell wafting though the streets that made me realised that there was one of these stalls around. I recall only having had them once back home somewhere in Geylang and was told that I should try them in Hong Kong or Taiwan where they were suppose to be better. These things are likely to be an acquired smell more than taste since they tasted essentially much like deep fried tofu with a crispy skin and hot soft insides. It wasn't really much of a stench at all for me and these stuff were pretty enjoyable for the cold weather, especially when it gets slathered with the salty and spicy chilli sauce.

smelly tofu

Friday, December 18, 2009

Under Bridge Spicy Crab (橋底辣蟹), Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Under Bridge Spicy Crab (橋底辣蟹), Wan Chai

I was looking forward to try these crabs here and our friends over in Hong Kong had by coincidence planned a seafood dinner at the very same restaurant (Shop 1-2, G/F, Chinaweal Centre, 414-424 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, HK, tel : +852 2834 6268) famed for their typhoon shelter crab that was once featured in Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. Apparently the origins of this dish started in the typhoon shelters in Causeway Bay and have now been elevated, like many other popular dishes, into restaurants inland.

Expectations held high (which is often not a good thing), we tucked into the crab shortly after it was served. In truth, the crabs were just passable decent. I thought they had been a little overcooked. Flesh stuck to shell and it didn't taste all that juicy or sweet. Perhaps, that's the way it is for deep fried crabs. What was outstanding was the generous mound of garlic bits that had chilli, shallots and scallions. The spiciness took a little while to peak from the first mouthfuls of the fried garlic. Damn excellent stuff when mixed with the fried noodles that the restaurant serves. I wasn't paying much attention to much of the other dishes after that. Apart from the bamboo clams which were served also with more garlic -- and an interesting porridge that featured minced pork and loads of little oysters. The spicy crab was memorable to some extents but I doubt I'll be craving for them anytime soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

是誰 在敲打我窗, 是誰 在撩動琴弦......

The grimy facade in the midst of aged apartment blocks was an indication of interesting things to come. Amidst one of the dark alleys of Kowloon latticed with water pipes, half shaded by haphazard zinc shelters under dim fluorescent luminance, lies Hung Fook Restaurant (G/F, No. 86 Lok Shan Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, tel : +852 2365 0112). Hell, I'm not even sure that's the real English name for the location since there wasn't any I could find.

If anyone had the interested or could recall, this was the place where the triad bosses were seen having hotpot in various scenes from Infernal Affairs II. I was told that the business and prices of this old restaurant has risen from the media attractions that was garnered from the movie. Basically, this joint was today a fairly popular location for the locals for hot pots and charcoal grilled live seafood.

The offerings were the usual that one could expect from steamboat or hot pot shops. Apart from the sliced beef, some tau pok balls which were really good for soaking up the spicy hot pot broth, obligatory greens and deep fried fish skin, it was mostly the seafood on grill for us. Since it was what this restaurant was known for. We would have wanted to order more from the tank but the laws of physics refused to compromise for our bellies. Due to the tight quarters and that my hands were stained perpetually with seafood juices, I was only able to get some shots of some of the shellfish and their crustacean buddies squirming in their death throes.......

.......and a blurry view of the mess on the table from all that beer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A post clubbing snack from Beyrouth Cafe

This was a lamb kebab from a Lebanese place (G/F., Lyndhurst Building, 37A Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong, tel: +852 2854 1872) which seemed to operate 24 hours down at the Central. I decided to take away in the wee hours of the morning as we were heading back home to catch up with some sleep. There was the regular stack of lettuce and sliced tomatoes along with what sealed the deal for me - onions and a spicy garlic yoghurt with the grilled slices of lamb. My mouth waters thinking of them now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yuen Kee Restaurant (源記燒味粉麵茶餐廳), Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Yuen Kee Restaurant, Tsim Sha Tsui

We were led into this place (18 Granville Road, Shop B, G/F Kiu Yip Building, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel : +852 2721 7881) by our new friend Sheng, who is a urologist in Dublin and had spent his childhood between Hong Kong and Singapore. Him having spent years in Ireland as a doctor and myself being the food tourist, we've come into an agreement that we wouldn't be eating anywhere else that doesn't serve what is generally accepted as local food. Which, while was something that is not entirely unfamiliar, was yet different enough in quite a few ways which we really enjoyed. 

This was one of the numerous tradition char chan teng locations that's scattered around. The point to this particular one were the roast meats, souped beef briskets and wontons. Roast meats in Hong Kong are similar yet different from home. Portions often are more generous, char siew have a really nice soft layer of fat as compared with leaner varieties at home and the roast pork belly in general have a good crispy layer of crackling. Almost everywhere I guess. This lunch pig out also included delectable bowls of tender mixed beef tendons with briskets huddled in a rich broth and fat tasty wontons that had a flavour of dried shrimps in the stuffings.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Gourmet Burger Union, Cochrane Street, Hong Kong

GBU (45-47 Cochrane St., 1st Floor, Cheung Fai Bldg, Central, tel : [852] 2523-9011) was an impromptu decision while wandering around looking for lunch. A quick decision actually made from too much drinks the night before and an empty stomach looking for the first meal of the day. This was also the point where the decision was made that we would not be eating any more of western food for the stay in Hong Kong. 

It wasn't that the burgers were bad. In fact, this place was pretty decent if one could just overlook the fact that eating in there leaves the residual scent of the burger grease on you. Not to mention the fact that the air conditioning was switched off in winter and air circulation was quite bad. Especially for a place doing char grill.

The word Stilton was caught by my peripheral vision and registered. Hence I got their GBU Big Boy even though I was really staring at the menu for a while. What I thought strange was that it came with bbq sauce (which I had opted out) which would create more contention amongst the flavours that was already there.

So what was in? A juicy New Zealand Angus patty that was dome somewhere between medium well to well done topped with a generous wad of melted Stilton blue. A flame grilled portobello mushroom cap and a couple of strips of bacon resting on some wild rockets. The fries were forgettable, but I liked the burger. Reminded me a little of The Handburger.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kau Kee Restaurant (九記牛腩), Gough Street, Hong Kong

Kau Kee Restaurant (九記牛腩), Gough Street, Hong Kong

The premium of real estate must have really driven old time stall owners with limited physical business space to resort to a semi regimental seat allocation system where the owners dictate where one seats and if they may be seated if not all of the group has arrived. 

This was kinda what happened down at Kau Kee (21 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong) which was one of the numerous noodle restaurants that dot the neighbourhood I was staying at in Central. One should not expect genteel service and should order quickly and shortly depart the premise after eating to avoid scowls. As I've been educated, Kau Kee is known for their ngau lam mee. The soup wasn't a beef broth as I had expected. Just the same soup base for wonton noodles. It took a helping of their home made shrimp paste chilli sauce to get to the point where it was really drinkable. The accompanying beef briskets were decent. I was expecting exceptional by any me. In the end, it was a passable bowl of piping hot beef noodles which was made enjoyable by the cool weather.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle (沾仔記), Wellington Street, Hong Kong

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle, wanton noodles

I was recommended this noodle shop (98 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong) by a friend who was trying to convince us that their wantons were much larger over here in Hong Kong. It turned out to be a place that sold only noodles with a modest options of toppings. Their king prawn wanton noodle which looked to be sitting on almost everyone else's table had dumplings the size of a plum. This steaming bowl of noodles was satisfyingly impressive. Three of those shrimp filled dumplings with pork in a bowl laden with hearty portion of thin chewy noodles that that was coupled with excellent texture and bite. My type of noodles. So good in the cool evening of winter. The side of vegetables in oyster sauce was commendably tender yet crunchy without being the least fibrous. 

I was so taken in by this place that I headed back out here the following evening for dinner. Which wasn't so remarkable. Had their three topping noodle which included sliced beef (unidentifiable protein mass) and a fishball that was textured like a meatloaf of sorts. Shall stick to the wonton noodles.
  Tsim Chai Kee Noodle, Wellington Street

Friday, December 11, 2009

First meal in Hong Kong

This was during lunch hour on the day after I had arrived, so literally was the first meal that I have had out. The shop was looked like a really old school char chan teng and was teeming with people that looked like they were residents from nearby. There was also a queue forming for takeaways. It was all good indicators of a very decent spot for local eats. I hadn't any idea what this was called but ordered it by pointing at another table which had order of the same rice dish. Basically it was the sodium, protein, fat and carbohydrates meal formed with two fried eggs, a hot dog and some luncheon meat over rice. Drizzled with dark soy sauce and.....liquid yolks. Wasn't anything new or unusual, but it did an excellent job of filling up. Couldn't argue with all the savouriness with an empty stomach. All to be washed down with some hot milk tea. I like how eggs here are done. So much better than the excuse for fried eggs in most of the economic rice stores back home.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sweet potato dumplings from Maxwell Food Centre

I got these from a stall that sells nothing but sweet potato dumplings down at Maxwell Food Centre (Maxwell Road, #01-76 Maxwell Food Centre, tel : +65 9621 4343) and I thought they were pretty good. These dumpings are made, I'm guessing with sweet potato based flour and was both a greasy and chewy snack. It was so greasy that the paper bags that held them were really soaked with all that oil. After trying a couple of variety, I had to pick these ones with pandan coconut fillings as my favourite.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Famous Bedok Kuey Chap, Whampoa Food Centre

Famous Bedok Kuey Chap, Whampoa Food Centre

This stall (Blk 91, Whampoa Drive, #01-26 Whampoa Food Centre) at the corner of Whampoa Food Centre was not bad. Memorable like the stall which I've had down in AMK 232 for the inclusion of pig stomach - amongst the other commonly available other pig parts. What I found different here was that the tender strips of pork belly that contained a larger meat to fat ratio. The refills for the broth was much more flavourful than the ones that come with the bowls of kuey, so that's something to look out for.

Famous Bedok Kuey Chap, Whampoa Food Centre

Sunday, December 06, 2009

China Street Fritters, Maxwell Food Centre

I guess being local doesn't mean that you are aware of all the good spots for chow. This Chinese stall (Maxwell Road, #01-64 Maxwell Food Centre, tel : +65 9239 6464) that sells fried mixed fritters of chinese sausage like things wrapped in bean curd skin has been operating for a long time and I can't say that I recall having eaten from their place even though Maxwell Food Centre has been a fairly regular eat out haunt since I was young.

What sets this stall apart from the other wu xiang stalls is that the variety of fritters are quite limited in selection. I'm not sure exactly how many different ones there are, but I hear that they pride themselves in being good at what they do have, which is something I really can't disagree with. We have the usual tofu, fish balls, meat rolls (a.k.a. ngoh hiong), liver rolls with scallions and an unhealthily tasty slice egg and lard fritter which was really good. These stuff were crispy clad on the outside without being overfried and those reddish pork sausage things did taste quite different from other stalls that I recall having had. Excellent with a plate or two of their stir fried bee hoon.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Grandma's Restaurant, Orchard Paragon

Grandma's Restaurant, nasi lemak
A couple of weeks back, I had stepped in Grandma's Restaurant (290 Orchard Road, #B1-42/43 The Paragon, tel : +65 6737 7931) for some chendol and decided that I'll return for the food after seeing the spread on other people's tables. This time round, the realization struck me that I've actually visited this place before at the original outlet down in Orchard Parade Hotel. And that the chef that ran the place had been from Madam Kwan's which had left me pretty good impressions.

In retrospect, what made this place a winner for me was the soft and fragrant nasi lemak rice which I've realized, seemed to be a rarity these days. Granted that I am not often looking out for great nasi lemak, I've been having them now and then, noticing that there is always something that I didn't like about the rice. It was either the degree which the grains were cooked, or the lack of coconut fragrance of the rice or that it was simply tasted bland. This place did strike a really good balance. All of it with that coconut rich curry that threatened to make my arteries clog in protest.

Grandma's Restaurant, steak
Normally, steak is not an option I would even consider for a restaurant like this since the expertise of the kitchen point toward another direction. I wouldn't have had it here if not for the fact that I spied a really nice looking one at a neighbour's table which gave me give pause for reconsideration. This might not have been top quality meat. To be fair, the tenderloin in a light pepper sauce was quite enjoyable and the kitchen got medium rare spot on. A decent char grill on the surface for aroma and non crinkle cut fries, I could say that this would give Aston's a run for their money considering that steaks are not a forte here.

Grandma's Restaurant, otah
I would have preferred a heavier touch of heat to the otah otah but I have no complains. This was the stuff that's filled with chunks of fish, not just bits of them. I feel drawn back to the restaurant. For the nice coconut laden bubor cha cha with hot steaming pieces of yam that I enjoyed and also for the other things that I would like to try on menu. Perhaps too, for the pints of Erdinger at a steal at $5.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

La Braceria Pizza and Grill, Greendale Avenue

La Braceria (5 Greendale Avenue, tel : +65 6465 5918), formerly located at the time capsule of Ban Guan Park near 6th Avenue is now literally around the corner from Greenwood Avenue. I hadn't realised that this current location was actually so close to the cluster of restaurants at Greenwood. And that someone I used to be acquainted with lives just above the restaurant.

Dinner started with a serving of an aromatically smoked scamoza cheese with parma ham and their trippa alla Fiorentina which is essentially a beef tripe stew in a tomato based broth with herbs. The latter dish appeared very different from what I had previously where it appeared more like a soup with pieces of tripe swimming in the broth. This time round, there wasn't much in the way of broth and it was actually more of a sauce in a bowl laden with very generous portions of the soft stewed tripe. I hadn't expected the portions to be so huge, making me regret asking for extra portions of bread while waiting for the food to arrive. But, I am definitely not complaining.

Both the house pasta, which was orecchlette with sausages and broccoli and the porcini risotto came in hearty portions as well. The decision of stuffing more bread earlier sunk heavier as they arrived. The former pasta which was done in a light but robust flavored sauce of what tasted to be meat and cheese was decent, albeit a little undercooked to be even al dente. The bits of meat tasted exactly like the sausages with fennel seeds that I had previously. Hearty, but the fennel wasn't something that I normally enjoy much.

This risotto was definitely well done as it struck an excellent balance between the taste of the poricini mushrooms and the truffle oil that perfumed the creamy reduction on the rice. Must make a mental note of this being one of the enjoyable risottos that I've had around.

The location was a little remote, but in the evening, had exuded a kind of charm which I found appealing in the quiet little corner relatively unrustled, mostly, by the noise of traffic. And with pizza bianca options on the menu, I'll definitely be looking forward to coming back.