ChopstixFix

Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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If You Go Down To The Woods Today

And I’m back! After my Nood experience (let’s NOT relive that again), I had a few pig-out sessions and a night out on the town drinking cocktails to make up for losing several days’ worth of calories. Then I upped and left for London for a couple weeks, hence, you have been subjected to my juice cleanse post for a while- sorry!

I don’t think I have ever done a full-scale post on drinking, mostly because I have the dreaded Asian flush which strikes after 1 drink and therefore have a pathetic tolerance towards alcohol, but I make an exception for this post on The Woods. This relatively new bar in Central can be found off Hollywood Road, down a dainty, invitingly lit flight of steps. One sleek sliding door later, and into The Woods you step- all decked out in wood and marble. The whole interior is quite striking and one certainly gets the impression of nature and foliage. I have been back a few times now, and whenever I visit, I always feel like I’m holed up in a sophisticated, yet comforting wooden barn.

A peep through the woods

A peep through the woods

The bar display

The bar display

The Woods opened back in July and is the brainchild of the three Chow sisters, but the youngest, Victoria, is the lovely lady responsible for the food and drink. The cocktail bar is split into two distinct areas- the lounge and the Prix-Fixe Bar, which seats eight and needs prior booking. The interesting concept behind The Woods, is that the cocktails are themselves the culinary art, so if you’re in search of a pint of beer, don’t go here!

The photos that I have for this post were from back in August(!), so some of the seasonal cocktails may no longer be there, and the Prix-Fixe menu I would think is changing very very soon, but I’m sure that you will find a drink that tickles your fancy. The words market-fresh, seasonal and artisanal sum up the core principles of The Woods.

From the a la carte, I tried The Caprese ($120), which was basically a salad in a glass. As someone who can’t take the taste of strong booze, this was rather perfect- light on the Tito’s Vodka, and heavier on the fresh tomato water. I love sour and salty things, and the combination of aged balsamic vinegar with the vodka, tomato water, Himalayan pink salt and black lava salt rim was highly enjoyable to the point where I was half drunk by the end of it. In addition, the cocktail itself was pretty to look at, bursting with colour from the cherry tomatoes.

The Caprese

The Caprese

The Caprese The Caprese

I took a sip of someone’s Watermelon Cilantro, (that’s coriander for the Brits among us), and was pleasantly surprised my palate wasn’t assailed by the cilantro flavour, which I’m not normally a fan of.

Watermelon Cilantro

Watermelon Cilantro

The biggest surprise for me was their Oak Whiskey Sour, which was finely balanced and had a lovely hint of a smokey flavour. This was a surprising drink because I usually really dislike whiskey, (I can trace this dislike back to uni days of cheap whiskey shots and feeling very unwell afterwards), and not only did I think it was tasty, but I think I might have been converted! But only at The Woods will I drink this, I will proceed with caution at all other, as yet untested establishments.

Oak Whiskey Sour

Oak Whiskey Sour

So what about the Prix-Fixe menu? For hardcore drinkers who like arty drinks and enjoy 4 courses of alcohol with very small nibbles. People with Asian flush, will start to feel very drunk 1 course in- yep, yours truly was pretty merry at the end and needed to go to Tsui Wah for noodles; no judgement please.

The Prix-Fixe menu is creative, interesting and definitely unique in Hong Kong. For $688 per person for 4 courses, (essentially 4 drinks), this may be a little pricey, and I for one, prefer the a la carte, but that’s because I normally can’t take 4 drinks in a row anyway!

The menu we had started with the Basil Smash (Sipsmith Gin and Thai and Sweet Basils), which was fun as we got to small a hollowed ice spehre with a little hammer to release the cocktail. This was served with watermelon and feta cheese on the side. Next, we had the Bacon Bourbon Luge for mains. This was STRONG. I’m not a bourbon drinker, and I admit, I was way more interested in the accompanying roasted bone marrow (delicious by the way). However, this bacon infused bourbon was smooth and I like the savoury taste. I completely failed to use the bone marrow as a luge to pour the cocktail in my mouth as I was starting to feel tipsy at this point!

Basil Smash

Basil Smash

Bacon Bourbon Luge

Bacon Bourbon Luge

For dessert there was the Absinthe Floss. This was messy. Instead of the traditional absinthe served poured over a sugar cube, The Woods replaced the cube with candy floss. This was far too strong for me. To end, our Digestif was a Tanqueray Gin and Jasmine tea infusion with lemongrass, galangal and lemon peel. Like a hot toddy, this was warming but not aromatic enough for me and the gin was overpowering. Not sure if this combination really works in its favour.

Absinthe Floss

Absinthe Floss

Tea Infusion

Tea Infusion

Tea Infusion

Before I forget, we also tried their fries from the a la carte nibbles section. One word- addictive.

The Woods' Fries

The Woods’ Fries

I’m happy to see a concept cocktail bar like The Woods spring up in Hong Kong, and it’s refreshing to have a place to go for consistently well-made drinks. I didn’t mention mocktails, but one of my favourites is the Virgin Galangal Mojito which is delicious. And now that I’m a whiskey sour convert and a few friends have also given it their nod of approval, I think The Woods will be a regular haunt (alongside The Envoy, which is another go-to), for my friends and I, who aren’t hardcore liquor-lovers but who definitely appreciate the delicate touch with cocktails.

Virgin Galangal Mojito

Virgin Galangal Mojito

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 for decor, ambience, good mocktails, their fries and that whiskey sour

The Woods, L/G, 17 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2522 0281 http://www.thewoods.hk

The Prixe-Fixe tasting was by invitiation. Many thanks to The Woods for a fun evening!


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A Nood Awakening

This post is for my friend VP because I promised her I would immortalise a couple of her terms in a post, and one term in particular has taken off in our circle of friends-explanation to come! (I think it is one of her steps to world domination).  First of all muchos (one of VP’s fav words) sorry for the absence of blog write-ups recently. Let’s just say my time has not been my own for the last month and as always, things like hobbies become sidelined for more important things like sleep and zoning out in front of the TV. Secondly, if I’m not writing, I am posting photos of my food grazing on Instagram (a girl still has to eat), so you can always have a look on there instead. But either way, thanks for being patient my friends

If you are a bit health conscious, you may have guessed what this write up is about from my title. Now, I was going to put something slightly less delicate like  ‘The Sh*tscapades’ but I thought that might alarm some people. So let me explain. Pure Yoga have launched their own food concept called Nood Food which offers raw, healthy and organic superfood-rich foods and cold-pressed juice cleanses.noodfood

Nood Food is one in a muchos long line of companies that have been appearing faster than a crop of radishes (apparently one of the faster growing vegetables, useless bit of information). I have, until now, been avoiding the likes of Be-juiced, Punch Detox, Genie Concept and Pure Swell, as a) our bodies already have a highly efficient system of filtering out harmful substances and cleansing itself- thank you liver, kidneys and intestines, b) being sensible and eating fairly cleanly throughout the week is already part of my routine, c) these cleanses are not exactly cheap and d) I’m not sure I can go very long without solid food. That isn’t to say that I think detoxing is not a good idea now and then and these juice cleanses do offer a way of detoxing fast and resetting your bodies after a thorough washing out, especially if you are too lazy to make your own juices. And it would be silly to assume that even with the healthiest of regimes, one is able to be completely toxin free, as we do live in a world far more polluted and rife with chemicals than our forebears.

So when my lovely friend F, F&B marketing manager babe at Pure invited me to try a 3-day Nood juice cleanse, I thought, why not. My background is rooted in Science, science geeks love experiments, I shall see what this is going to be like, won’t be that bad surely. HAH. Fool. Who knew that drinking juice could be so hazardous?!

Nood Food have three different programmes which I was told are ‘categorised by lifestyle rather than levels of difficulty’. These cleanses are: C01 Green Cleanse, CO2 Active Cleanse and CO3 Classic Cleanse. The juices in the cleanse programmes are created for varying levels of activity and general diet and the difficulty is dictated by how many days of starvation and torture you can manage. As a complete beginner, I was recommended to do either the Classic or Active cleanse depending on my level of activity. The Green Cleanse is for the more experienced cleanser or those who cannot tolerate much sugar in their diet. Programme prices are: 1 day $600/ 3 days $1700 / 6 days $3200. However, they will provide prices for a longer or shorter times upon request.

All the cleanses come with supplements to aid your detox and formulated with a combination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and superfoods. Vegetables are the main ingredients more than fruit in order to promote healing and all organic ingredients are marked with an (*) on the packaging. There is 100% juice, no added water or substitutes, so you are really getting a raw deal (pun fully intended). You get 6 organic cold-pressed juices and supplements (which you mix in) daily and you are meant to drink one every 2-3 hours.

Logistics- orders need two days to process, juices can be picked up from any Pure location or Nood Food SoHo and to to guarantee freshness, juices need to be collected each day and then stashed in the fridge ASAP as the juices are unpasteurized and expire the day after the intended consumption.

I chose to start my CO3 Classic Cleanse on a Sunday, shortly after returning from a week’s break in the Philippines, and the day after a full-on dinner at The Chairman (lots of seafood, meat, crab in wine) followed by drinks at The Envoy. Nood recommends preparing ahead of a detox by cutting down on sugar/salt/caffeine/meat. Obviously I failed spectacularly on this front, but after my experience, I highly recommend doing what they say!Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

Nood Cool Bag

I had arranged to pick up juices that were for next day consumption due to work schedule logistics, so I had already collected Day 1’s juices on Saturday afternoon. Nood Food lady supplied me with a nice cooler bag and an ice-pack- both of which need to be brought back each day when picking up the next day’s set. I wouldn’t say the juices looked that yummy. The 6 juices are an intimidating, intense array of green, orange and red and the supplements look mostly like coloured powdered chalk. But full marks for names that are meant to lull you into a false sense of security- Recharge/Spring Clean/Whole Food/Turn Me On/Miracle Milk/Royal Flush.

Cold-pressed juices

Cold-pressed juices

The supplements are straight to the point and do the following:

Zeolite- a deeply detoxifying and alkalising earth clay supplement which bonds with toxins like heavy metals and environmental chemicals to aid in their removal; Camu Camu- sounds like a fluffy animal but actually contains a high concentration of Vitamin C; Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix- Suforaphane from broccoli aids liver detox and the carotenoids and flavonoids in kale are powerful antioxidants; Chia Seeds- these babies are good for for your gut as they are high in fibre as well as omega-3 and protein; Barley Grass Powder- a highly concentrated concoction of vitamins, insoluble fibre and chlorophyll and Vitamineral Earth- a herbal superfood complex for the promotion of healing.

Supplements!

Supplements!

Cue Sunday morning and I referred to my Classic Cleanse guide book which recommended that I start with the Zeolite supplement with warm water at 7am. It was 9am. Fail. Looking at their schedule, this meant that my whole juicing day wouldn’t end till 9pm if I was truly going to be regimental about things. Zeolite mixed in with water is supposedly meant to taste of ‘nothing’, but it tasted of something- a  strange, bland metallic substance with a sort of ash-like aftertaste. Mmmm.Classic Cleanse Schedule

2 hours later it was time for Recharge with Camu Camu. Recharge is by far the yummiest and least dangerous of the juices; a lovely citrusy mixture of carrot, orange, apple, lemon, ginger and lemon grass. Even at this early stage, my tummy was starting to gurgle a little, but I wasn’t sure if it was due to the previous night’s festivities, so at this point I popped out to fetch my next day’s batch of juices. On my return, it was Spring Clean with Broccoli and Kale Sprout Mix. I didn’t enjoy on two levels: 1) Carrot, celery, spinach and parsley juice did not want to absorb the sprout mix so it became quite clumpy even with me shaking it like a polaroid picture 2) This juice kick-started what was to become the Sh*tscapades.Nood Food

Juice no. 2 was palatable but may be quite ‘green’ tasting for those new to veggie shakes  so you should brace yourselves for juice no. 3 Whole Food. This bugger pretty much destroyed me that Sunday afternoon. 2 hours after my intestines got a light Spring Clean, Whole Food (no supplement with this one), came, conquered and annihilated the contents of my gut. Since this particular experience my friends and I have come up with some puns- Stoolicide/ crapisode/crapventure. It was quite literally a sh*tstorm. Whole Food is GREEN. An alarmingly dark algae green which just shouts I’M CLEANSING. The book does warn you of some of the dramatic effects a juice cleanse may have on you, as some are affected more than others, like yours truly. Coupled with the extreme crapisode, I also got bloating, serious sweats and some joint aches which are all apparently indicative of toxins leaving every pore of your body. At this point I was confined to either my bed with aircon on full blast or the bathroom, which was fast becoming my best friend. Whole Food was so potent that I was not even 10% of the way through before my body decided it needed to see its best friend. Undeterred, I pressed on 2 hours later with juice 4- Turn Me On. This was actually quite pleasant tasting except I was beyond caring at this point and slowly whimpering, “I have nothing left to give”. Carrot, apple, sweet potato, flaxseed oil and maca powder maketh quite a yummy combination, but the chia seeds would not go down no matter how much I mixed. Exorcism of the gut was still continuing and I was fast losing my resolve to stick with the juicing.

pocari-sweat

Stock one of these in your fridge for emergencies!

By 7pm, Skyping my parents, my mum told me I looked ‘thinner’ (this juice is FAST WORK my friends) and then asked me, “why are you still doing this? Just stop if you are feeling this uncomfortable!” Wise words. Miracle Milk, juice 5, was no miracle. First, celery, cucumber, hemp seeds and sesame with barley powder juice is not my cup of tea and second, this miracle did not stem the tide. After getting a quarter of the way through, I finally gave up and thought BAGMI. B*tch Ain’t Gonna Make It. (VP’s favourite term in the whole world). Lying defeated on my bed, I had to stop with juice 5 and admit to myself, that I was completely and utterly cleansed, inside and out and right to the depths of my soul. The sixth juice- Royal Flush would have ended me so I decided to swap that for a Pocari Sweat.

Day 2 rolled round. Did I continue the cleanse? OF COURSE NOT!! I’m not crazy. My intestines were delicate, so delicate. I had work. It was going to be a long day. My gut still had unfinished business (I have no idea how this is possible given the previous day), so I sipped a bit of the Recharge as that’s tasty and tried some Royal Flush (a bright red and very beetrooty), which I instantly regretted as that set me off for a couple of hours. So I passed the baton to my friend R who collected Day 3’s juices and tried them the next day. She got no such dramatic effect, lucky thing. All she got were aches and pains.

So there you have it! My first and most probably last experience of juice cleansing. There is no denying its cleansing effects. I lost 1.5kg in water weight alone but I must caution that you need to be aware of your limits and your body because other friends who have done it have told me that the first 2-3 days are a hard slog. I’m certainly not the only one who gets such a dramatic effect but with work, you may find yourself having to think about when it is logistically a good time to do a cleanse. Would I recommend it? I think it is fine to do one, once in a blue moon if you need to reset your body or you have been maltreating it. But I think exercise and eating in moderation is key and maybe introducing a Whole Food or one of the other juices in your diet on a regular basis will be better for you instead of doing a cleanse. Have a go, but be safe and position yourself near a loo. And remember- there is no shame in admitting BAGMI.

All information including nutritional content can be found at www.allnood.com


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Gluttonous Food Porn at Doppio Zero

Oh what a night. Late June, back in ’14, what a very special night for me, as I remember, what a night. Doo-do-do-do-do… Ok, I’m not a wannabe lyricist trying to create my own version of December 1963 by The Four Seasons (classic song, by the way), but for some reason this song did pop into my head as I looked over my photos from a night of pure gorging at Doppio Zero for a Seasonal Menu Tasting. When I was invited, I thought back fondly to the first meal I had there, and wondered if some of my favourites would make an appearance, and yes sirree they did. But, this wasn’t just any ol’ gathering, we had a raucous night with some new and familiar faces and wine pairing to boot. And 16 dishes to get through, (14 if you don’t count the vegetables). I wish I had worn my stretchy pants.

I’m not going to really go into too much detail on this post, because frankly, I’ll get tired writing something about each dish, and you will get tired reading about them. Just take my word for it, the food is good. The execution of a lot of the dishes was spot on and I more than enjoyed every morsel. My favourites: Roasted Bone Marrow, Truffled Fried Oyster, Beetroot Ravioli, Lamb Short Ribs and the spectacular USDA Prime Ribeye. Feast for your eyes and your tum!

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

IMG_9839a

Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn't wow as much as the other dishes.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn’t wow as much as the other dishes.

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn't really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn't think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn’t really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn’t think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter. Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter.
Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I've had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I’ve had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too 'lamby' but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too ‘lamby’ but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato

DIY dessert time!

So there it is, my entire meal in pictures, vegetable dishes excluded unfortunately (I can say that the Baked Brussel Sprouts and the Roasted Oyster Mushrooms were very good too, but when you are faced with Prime Ribeye, your attentions are more or less diverted).

If you haven’t yet been to Doppio Zero, I do recommend a visit one day soon. Atmosphere is suitable for low-key dates or bigger groups, and whilst it isn’t the cheapest meal (around $400-500 per person depending on how gluttonous you are!), I think the quality of the ingredients makes this place worth visiting. Especially for that Beetroot ravioli and Prime Ribeye.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Doppio Zero, G/F The Pemberton, 22 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851 0682

This was by kind invitation. Many thanks to Coco Alexandra PR & Events and Doppio Zero. 

 


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Meat Sweats at Butchers Club Deli

I have been in some pretty epic meat comas in my life, but one particular meal gave me proper meat sweats. The Butchers Club Deli in Aberdeen is the second product of The Butchers Club which first landed on our shores in April 2013 in Tin Wan, Aberdeen as HK’s only dry-ageing specialist and a multi-purpose venue- butcher’s, private dining room and cooking class space. The Butchers Club Deli along with the newly established Butchers Club Burgers, serves the growing number of hungry carnivores in HK who are now a little more savvy about their beef.

Butchers Club Deli

Butchers Club Deli

There’s nothing I love more than loft spaces in industrial buildings, and the Deli’s location on Wong Chuk Hang Road is ab fab. It is actually in partnership with ED1TUS, a men’s luxury fashion and lifestyle showroom and together they take up the entire 16th and top floor of the dodgy looking Shui Ki Industrial building, reminiscent of the kind of space Sarah Michelle Gellar and her crew got their knickers in a twist in, in IKWYDLS (that’s I Know What You Did Last Summer- yes I’m old). That being said, once you’ve got over the uneasiness of riding in an old lift that has seen better days, the behemoth 7,0oo sq ft space, of which the Deli takes up 3,000, greets you. A large dining area, private dining room for maximum 14 diners, big kitchen, dry-ageing room, deli counter, wine cellar AND an enormous rooftop which gives you a lovely view of Aberdeen does make one feel like hauling ass and moving over to get in on this space action. There’s also a Harley Davidson motorbike randomly parked inside. Manly stuff. Owner Jonathan Glover must be grinning like mad about this venue, especially as the 7,000 sq ft rooftop will eventually become a herb garden with BBQ and can accommodate up to 500 people on top of the 300 person capacity downstairs.Butchers Club Deli Butchers Club Deli

View from the rooftop

View from the rooftop

If a bus ride and a change of scenery is up your alley, then the Deli can offer you a great lunch from 12-5.30pm daily. By night however, the place becomes an extension of the private dining room of The Butchers Club in Tin Wan where it’s all about the dry-aged beef. If you are a keen cook and want to entertain in the comfort of your home, you can select a 7-10kg piece of rib eye or sirloin Black Angus beef and wait for it to be dry-aged by the Butchers Club folks for 30-45 days and hey presto, you have your own dry-aged steak.

The night of epic meat sweats was by kind invitation and the tasting preparations had begun early with me sensibly deciding to have a bigger breakfast and a light snack for lunch. I should have worn my stretchy pants that day, rookie error. We were able to try most of the items on the lunch menu plus the steak which is only offered in the evenings as part of a set menu, as is seen at Tin Wan branch.  (For your information, the steaks at dinner are usually sold by the primal- the whole piece, not by the steak, so the price will depend on the weight of the primal.)

We eased in with a Caesar’s Salad. “Salad?!” I hear you cry. Ahh, but this came with lovely thick-cuts of grilled bacon, the kind of bacon which I wish came with my All Day Breakfasts in HK as opposed to the measly, shrivelled rashers. The rye croutons, bacon and anchovies is a delicious, salty medley of textures and a carnivore’s idea  of a veggie dish.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

The Butchers Board – a stupendous, glorious looking selection of artisanal cured meats, cheese, pickles and breads is apparently for two to share, but I’m pretty sure I could pack this baby away on my own. That night we had corned beef, ham hock terrine (this was terrific), homemade sausages (less of an impact on my palate) and salami which miraculously kept appearing on my fork- I have no control over my hand, it’s like a nervous tick. Could do with more pickles though, but that’s just a gherkin/pickle fiend talking.

The Butchers Board

The Butchers Board

The next item, well, can only be described as SOUL DESTROYINGLY GOOD. The Deli Poutine with duck fat fries, homestyle gravy, pastrami and aged cheddar just destroyed us. Destroyed our stomachs that is. We all loved it so much that we nearly forgot we had several dishes to plow through after. I blame the poutine for the mega food coma that ensued. The duck fat fries were omnomnomnom- no words. Thick-cut, crisp outside, fluffy potato on the inside, thick gravy, cheesy goodness and of course, pastrami to make this a Butchers twist. This may not be a legit poutine, but ahhh who cares. We bantered a bit with Exec Chef Aarik where he said that the poutine was practically a salad dish because of the sprinkling of parsley. I’m not about to argue with a chef.

The Deli Poutine

The Deli Poutine

Bellies swelling, we welcomed the NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich on rye bread, served with crisps. This sandwich was positively ginormous. The corned beef was of a similar quality to the salt beef I know and love so well from the UK. I also liked the quirky way of serving the sandwich with Burts British Potato Chips.

NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich

NY Style Corned Beef Deli Sandwich

Their Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie, served with duck fat chips was excellent and hearty. The beef was chunky, succulent and the stew flavour robust and rich. Possibly one of the best pies I have had in HK to date.

Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie

Dry-aged Steak, Ale and Wild Mushroom Pie

The only dish that I can say was a tad disappointing was the Fish and Chips with mushy peas and tartar sauce. Whilst I could easily say this is due to it being the only non-meat dish, I do think the batter is what let this down that evening. The barramundi was cooked perfectly but the batter was sadly soggy in places and detracted from the overall taste. Those duck fries made another appearance though, so not all was lost!

Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

The pièce de résistance  was the 90-day dry-aged Australian steak, cooked to medium-rare perfection and served with an array of condiments, with the most popular being the chimichurri, though I was quite partial to the Béarnaise and gravy. The beef had an intense flavour and was just sublimely tender. We were all stuffed to the rafters so two of us got to spirit away steak leftovers (I had a steak salad with my leftovers the day after, which was incredible).

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

90-day dry-aged Australian steak

Condiment selection

Condiment selection

At this point, the meat sweats were starting and my regret at not wearing stretchy pants was building. But, we had two desserts left- the Chocolate brownie cake and the Homestyle apple crumble pie with cheddar cheese. The chocolate brownie cake was rich but not dense and a delightful sweet end to our meat fest. The apple crumble pie was unusual as it had surprise chunks of cheddar cheese, which, frankly speaking, did very little for the dessert except confuse my taste-buds, though I concede the savoury/sweet contrast was interesting. But the crumble itself was good.

Chocolate Brownie Cake and Apple Crumble with Cheddar

Chocolate Brownie Cake and Apple Crumble with Cheddar

And there it is,epic meat sweats chronicled. I literally had to hold my belly on my way home and sat on my sofa at home for 3 hours, stock still, watching crap TV to digest.

My thoughts on the Butchers Club Deli? Bloody brilliant. I loved it. Loved the meat, loved the fries, loved the space. Prices are reasonable at lunch with starters between $70-80 and mains $120-140. Yes, it may be on Wong Chuk Hang Road, but I think the meat is well-worth the trek. If you can’t be bothered to go that far and burgers are your thing, then it’s just lucky their latest venue is in Wan Chai. I’ll be visiting very soon, watch this space.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (Lunch prices) 

The Butchers Club Deli, 16/F, Shui Ki Industrial Building, 18 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, 2884 0768

www.butchersclub.com.hk

This was by kind invitation- many thanks to The Butchers Club.


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Huzzah for Chor Bazare!

Everyone loves a good curry and one gem of a find is Chor Bazare in Tai Hang, which is named after a Mumbai flea market. I would never have found it if it wasn’t for a friend organising a curry night out one day, as it is hidden in the maze of little streets in this area. Inside is teeny tiny, so teeny tiny that it takes some serious manoeuvring skills to slip oneself into the seats. The small space squeezes a maximum of fourteen people and the restaurant is decorated in a charming manner, with all matters of colourful, ethnic Indian artefacts and the wooden tables covered with embellished, gold threaded cloth.

Chor Bazare- colourful and bright

Chor Bazare- colourful and bright

Meals start with a complimentary serving of these cone-shaped poppadoms which have a fiery bite and a selection of chutneys and mint sauce. While you peruse their extensive menu, order a mango lassi which is smooth, tangy yet sweet and served in a gorgeous golden goblet.

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

Poppadoms

Poppadoms

Their samosas were sizeable and quite heavy, but have a lovely, light crust, whilst the potato stuffing had a good balance of spice to whet the appetite. Just don’t eat them too quickly at the beginning of your meal or you will be full! The onion bhajis were pleasing as well and thankfully not too greasy.

Samosas and onion bhajis

Samosas and onion bhajis

We enjoyed the Palek paneer which was rich but not too creamy and had a generous amount of paneer. Their biryani was quite authentic, having had biryani in Hyderabad, I had something to compare it too, and it hit the spot with its aromatic spices and fluffy rice. Their chicken korma may surprise those who are used to the more British style- extremely creamy and yellow or red in colouring- but Chor Bazare’s version is more faithful to the Mughal recipe using cashew nut cream paste, yoghurt and coconut, resulting in a green curry that has a mild spiciness and slightly sweeter taste with some astringency. I felt their vegetable dishes excel at Chor Bazare and their Brinjal (aubergine) curry was wonderful, with the aubergine not over-cooked and still holding their shape. Other hits were the lamb shank curry which was falling-off-the-bone tender and their naan bread- garlic, cheese, plain, they were all piping hot, (yes we ate all three types), soft, fluffy and appealingly fragrant.IMG_9178

Brinjal curry

Brinjal curry

Lamb shank curry

Lamb shank curry

With the bill coming to no more than $200-250 per head for a hearty feasting, Chor Bazare is well worth a visit. Budget-friendly, authentic Indian dishes and charming surroundings. What’s not to love at this Thieves’ Market?

Chor Bazare

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Chor Bazare, 14 Sun Chun Street, Tai Hang, tel: 3689 4400. Open: 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm


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Rockin’ Ramen at Kanada-ya

I keep meaning to write up my thoughts on a few ramen joints about town, but these places have been springing up like some sort of noodle infestation and I just kind of gave up. In short, Ramen Jo in Causeway Bay is my usual go-to, I loooove that place and I am also partial to a bowl of Ippudo ramen.

So when I was invited with a group of ramen-chasers to the opening of Kanada-ya in Causeway Bay for a Foodie Club event, my first thought was, ‘Another one?!’ This was swiftly replaced by,’Ooohhh ramen!’ (So easily distracted)

Kanaday-ya was first opened in Yukuhashi in Fukuoka, Japan, by renowned Chef Kanada Kazuhiro and now we get to taste his award-winning tonkotsu ramen in Hong Kong. Like most ramen places, the space is small and cosy and the focus is all on that steaming bowl of delicious pork broth and swirling noodles.Kanada-ya

As much as I enjoy lots of options on a menu, it is a relief to only be given three choices here: classic, lite and supreme. The pork broth takes 15 hours of boiling and toiling to make it into the smooth, creamy consistency that it is and they use a funky piece of equipment that is calibrated so they can achieve a concentration of 10 out of something. I have no clue. All I know is that the broth was thick but not dense and so full of flavour that really you could add any old noodle and all sorts of ingredients to it and it would still be delicious. The classic bowl ($78) is topped with three slices of pork belly, the lite ($85) gets the pork belly but is finished off with tonnes of beansprouts (cos you know, these veggies make this ramen very light and healthy) and the supreme ($98) is topped with slices of pork shoulder instead.

Handy little info sheet

Handy little info sheet

Care is clearly taken over all the ingredients, with the flour flown in from Japan before the noodles are made in HK and the pork is cooked for 2-4 hours after an 8-10 hour marination process. We were all given a bowl of the classic, with the option to add an extra soft boiled egg- yes please, or spring onions. You are also asked to choose your noodle texture from soft to hard.

Serious ramen magic

Serious ramen magic

Kanada-ya

I loved my bowl of ramen, positively salivated at the sight of it and breathed in the gorgeous broth fumes. The pork belly was tender but it was the egg that we were really wowed by. I have no idea how they did it, but the egg was perfection. The yolk was beautiful and the egg had a lovely sweetness to it. Top marks. As extra, we were able to try some of their pork shoulder slices which normally belongs to the supreme bowl. This was very rich and fatty and frankly too much for my tastes, but when soaked in the broth it was rather heavenly. But I think I will stick to the classic.

Classic ramen

Classic ramen

Amazing egg

Amazing egg

Pork shoulder hand model- thanks D! :)

Pork shoulder hand model- thanks D! :)

If it seems there aren’t enough noodles to fill you up, don’t worry, you can always order more. We were told at the event that soggy noodles are a big no no, so the bowls aren’t filled to the brim with noodles. Just leave behind enough broth for extra carbs if you so need.

So Kanada-ya was quite the hit the night we went and I definitely see myself going back there on a regular basis. For a satisfying meal under $100, it joins the ranks of Ramen Jo and Ippudo for my quick, lip-smacking ramen fix.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

 

$$$$$$$$$$

Kanada-ya, G/F, 34 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 2889 3355

This was by kind invite- thank you Foodie!


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Checking Out Check-In Taipei

Hollywood Road is getting a bit of a face-lift with all these new establishments and latest on the radar is contemporary Taiwanese joint Check-In Taipei, which opened a little over two months ago. When I think of Taiwanese cuisine I immediately think of you tiao (Chinese dough stick) , soya bean milk, fan tuan (sticky rice roll), sesame noodles and NIGHT MARKET FOOD- basically all the food I usually scoff my face with when I go to Taipei. But Check-In Taipei’s menu is a tad more sophisticated than that, with some of Taiwan’s classic dishes undergoing an inventive spin.

Photo courtesy of BD girl!

Photo courtesy of BD girl!

Inside Check-In Taipei’s narrow space, the decoration is relatively minimalist with clean lines, dark furniture and a long bar where you can sip on their signature cocktails and share plates with friends. There is also a takeaway window for those on the go, a great idea to retain some of the Taiwanese street food charm and makes this establishment appear more accessible to the masses.  Leung Nga Fong, whose CV boasts working at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Amber and Taiwanese ‘drink architect’ Shin Chiu, have successfully created an attractive menu and there are a few dishes which definitely capture the eye.

But, there are some buts to this tale.

When four of us paid a visit one evening, it was to celebrate a birthday, a fact that was subtly relayed when the booking was made. Not that we expected anything but possibly a little candle wedged on top on of our desserts (which actually happened, hooray!), but what I did expect, as one should from any restaurant really, is decent service, and there isn’t anything much worse than a birthday celebration marred by wearily making the same simple request over and over and over again, seeing your dessert get dropped, (more on that later) or the credit card transaction getting mixed up. Luckily the birthday girl, whose sweet nature is rarely riled up, didn’t mind too much.

Before I get caught up in my grumblings, I must say that the food itself was quite enjoyable. The menu is split into a few sections- some interesting bite-sized appetisers, vegetables, classic dishes with a twist and desserts.

Chicken and Waffles, one of their signature dishes, immediately caught our attention. The night market favourite of salty, crispy chicken that the Taiwanese do so very well, has been transformed into a fancy little thing at CIT. Mounted atop mini waffles with accompanying pineapple chutney and balsamic maple syrup, it looked delightful. The chicken was succulent, the skin crisp, but the waffle was unfortunately slightly sodden from the syrup and I didn’t detect the pineapple chutney.

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and Waffles

Next, we had the Oyster Duet- homemade oyster soup served with a crispy oyster croquette (the oysters were fried with oyster sauce, Chinese chives and onion then mixed with mashed potatoes). This again, was a unique take on the oyster pancake and I have to say I liked this dish the most. The soup was a wonderfully warm and comforting oyster version of a clam chowder, and the croquettes were fluffy and light. I also loved the presentation- the soup being served from a teapot with tea cup. How very Asian chic!Oyster Duet

Oyster Duet

Oyster Duet

We followed this up with their Gua Bao with two different fillings- braised pork belly with spicy sweet bean sauce and crunchy spiced eggplant with spicy bean paste and sweet chili mayo. The pork belly was good but to my surprise, I preferred the eggplant. It was spot on with its aromatic condiments and still firm texture.

Gua Bao- spicy eggplant

Gua Bao- spicy eggplant

Gua Bao- braised pork belly

Gua Bao- braised pork belly

It was around this point of the meal that we had begun to notice a couple of service failings, namely, a complete failure to collect any finished plates and dishes without us calling their attention, failure to then pick up the empty dishes even when pointed at, (the waitress in fact smiled sweetly several times with a little giggle and then promptly walked off!) and a bizarre aversion to filling up our glasses with water. At one point I was tempted to walk over to the bar where I could see the water jugs, and just help myself. The aversion to topping up water continued for the rest of the night; I counted that between my friend and I we had asked the manager at least 5 times and waited a good 20 minutes before any water finally arrived. The place is tiny, “I CAN SEE WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND IT ISN’T TOWARDS THE WATER!!”, I yelled in my head at the staff. Exasperation.

Anyway, our savouries continued with the Seven Layered Rice, a prettier, compact version of the Taiwanese braised pork pork rice (滷肉飯, Lu Rou Fan) which is one of my all time favourites. Whilst the flavours were all there and the egg was nice and soft, I would have liked more sauce. It was also served in a bloody difficult receptacle- a glass cup. It was a mess. Rice bits falling everywhere on the table trying to dig down through all the layers and in order to spoon a serving on our own plates. As I had then come to expect, the rice mess was not cleaned up either when the plates were eventually cleared. (I sound like a right moaner here!)Seven-Layered Rice

Seven-Layered Rice

Seven-Layered Rice

We were most intrigued by their Ping Pong dish- four balls of purple yam with a mochi and parmesan cheese filling which are deep fried at low heat to attain a crispy outside and a chewy inside. This recreation of the traditional sweet potato balls is a great concept, and we especially liked their presentation on a ping pong bat but something was missing. The mochi was nicely chewy and the filling itself was tasty, but somehow this combination fell flat and certainly raised a few quizzical brows in the group.

Ping Pong

Ping Pong

The Fish’N’Squid Sticks with flying fish roe served with chili mayo and sweet plum sauce was strange. The consistency can only be described as squidgy and whatever the batter was sprinkled with, was too sweet to make this dish work. I also couldn’t detect the fish roe anywhere. Great chili mayo though.

Fish'N'Squid Sticks

Fish’N’Squid Sticks

Our last savoury was the Mushroom Forest and this was excellent. Four types of mushrooms, shiitake, white, portobello and reishi are sautéed in truffle cream and then for an added touch, fried mushrooms, lightly battered in potato starch are in the mix to create a nice textural contract. Best bit is the gorgeous onsen egg which bound all the flavours together wonderfully once smashed in.

Mushroom Forest

Mushroom Forest

To end, we ordered both the desserts on offer- the Taro cheesecake and the Yin Yang- marshmallow honey toast with black sesame paste. So this is a funny story…actually not that funny when it happened; the waiter, as he was just about to serve the Yin Yang toast to us, tilted the plate at such an angle to put it down that it was quite easy for all to see that this was going to be a disaster. CIT seems to choose the oddest plates to serve their food on, and toast on a flat plate, is BOUND TO SLIP OFF, especially if waiters are dashing in and out balancing stuff. And so, we see our toast promptly slide off and land face down with a loud PLOP on the dirty, rice strewn table. Mouths agape and sharp intakes of breath later, the waiter, for a nanosecond, looked like he was prepared to flip it over and serve it anyway. We sharply looked at him with a Don’t you dare! glare and thankfully he turned around and got us a fresh piece of toast. By the way, the toast was very satisfying, just be prepared to catch it in mid-air if you order it. The table, incidentally, got a perfunctory wipe later.

Yin Yang Toast

Yin Yang Toast

The taro cheesecake was dense, dense, dense. But we didn’t care as it came with a candle and our birthday girl was happy!

Birthday Taro cheesecake!

Birthday Taro cheesecake!

Taro cheesecake

Taro cheesecake

There was also a bill fiasco, but I have no strength to go into that. Suffice to say, the food just about saves this review from being a total whiny account  and whilst there are a couple of misses, I do think that the food is enjoyable and the prices reasonable. I do recommend that if you go you keep your service expectations on the low side. Let’s just hope they improve ASAP.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

$$$-$$$$$$$$$$

Check-In Taipei, 27 Hollywood Rd, Central, Tel: 2351 2622 facebook.com/ctaipei

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