ChopstixFix

Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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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

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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

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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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A Night Celebrating Ms. Pearl Kong Chen’s Recipes at Kin’s Kitchen

With my customary slowness with uploading, as I am prone to being when work and play get in the way, I have finally gotten round to posting about a fun evening last month with fellow foodies at Kin’s Kitchen in Wan Chai. This evening was particularly interesting and special because the menu was dedicated to the recipes created by the legendary HK food authority Ms. Pearl Kong Chen (江獻珠), whose cookbooks and instruction have long captured the hearts and stomachs of many the Cantonese food aficionado. Having never heard of her until the dinner was arranged by the lovely Little Meg and Janice of e-ting, I was quite fascinated to learn about her history and how her dishes showcase the evolution of Cantonese cooking and the techniques, some quite laborious, needed to master some of these dishes.

Our menu had 9 courses which presented classic Chinese banquet and homey dishes following Ms. Kong’s recipes and techniques. These traditional recipes, long abandoned over the years, were just amazing and I’m not going to even attempt to explain her background, except to say that Ms. Pearl Kong is the granddaughter of a Qing dynasty archivist and the legacy of her grandfather’s recipes was passed down to her. Instead I am going to directly quote Janice, which I stole off FB from when she posted on another friend’s pic of the night haha- thanks love!

 “Kong (Jiang in Mandarin pinyin) Kong-dian was Mrs. Chen’s grandfather’s full name, although he was known by his position in the court (Taishi, ie. official court archivist/historian). He had cooks in his (supposedly grand) household and was fond of working out new dishes with them, and hosting other bigwigs at his house. As the Qing Dynasty crumbled, the family gradually had to supplement their income and it is said he ran his house as a bit of a private kitchen. He’s the one who invented snake soup as we know of today (often called Taishi snake soup as a result). Another random bit I read – he loved food so much he bought his own orchard and kept bees and stuff. And another random bit – the reason why Tim’s Kitchen is so well known is because chef Tim was trained by one of Kong Taishi’s chefs, and learned these crazy techniques and recipes.”

All in all, it was a beautiful evening with beautiful people, remembering and honouring the past and emphasizing how important it is to preserve tradition. For it is remembering our history that we can learn and move into the future. Enjoy the photos! :)

Ms. Pearl Kong Menu

Stir-fry imitated shark-fin with eggs

Stir-fry imitated shark-fin with eggs

Soup of Fish Head- expertly done. An impeccable dish.

Soup of Fish Head- expertly done. An impeccable dish.

Deep fried custard of chicken broth- this was pretty sensational, having never seen anything like this before. Firm chicken broth in a light batter, pretty addictive.

Deep fried custard of chicken broth- this was pretty sensational, having never seen anything like this before. Firm chicken broth in a light batter, pretty addictive.

Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste- a dish of hot discussion! How on earth do they do it? I loved this. Silky, rich chicken skin and chicken meat replaced with a smooth shrimp paste.

Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste- a dish of hot discussion! How on earth do they do it? I loved this. Silky, rich chicken skin and chicken meat replaced with a smooth shrimp paste.

Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste Steamed Chicken Stuffed with Shrimp Paste

Stir-fried finely sliced pigeon

Stir-fried finely sliced pigeon

Stir-fried finely sliced pigeon

Braised Mustard Green with Ham sauce

Braised Mustard Green with Ham sauce

Stir-fried noodles with assorted mushrooms

Stir-fried noodles with assorted mushrooms

Smoked Chicken with rose stems and sugar cane- a Kin's Kitchen signature. We ordered a plate as an extra! Fantastic and aromatic.

Smoked Chicken with rose stems and sugar cane- a Kin’s Kitchen signature. We ordered a plate as an extra! Fantastic and aromatic.

Steamed grouper fillet with fermented soy bean

Steamed grouper fillet with fermented soy bean

Sweet pumpkin and almond soup with glutinous rice

Sweet pumpkin and almond soup with glutinous rice

Kin’s Kitchen, 5/F, W Square, 314-324 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, HK. Tel: (852) 2571 0913


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Putting on a Funky Shou

Fu Lu Shou- Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity- has been open a little over a month and I have already been three times, something of a record for me when it comes to new establishments. And all because the place is just so darn funky. Two things to mention that make this my new go-to spot for laid-back cool- a fab rooftop terrace and rather yummy cocktails. Ping Lam, the brainchild behind the Nail Library, has successfully turned her attention from beautifying hands and feet to feeding people, and its all about bringing in old skool Western Chinese from her childhood in Australia.  Their motto is “Eat. Drink. And Be Prosperous”; I can do the first two, just hoping that one day Fu Lu Shou magically makes it rain when I next visit. I wish.

Eat, Drink And Be Prosperous

Eat, Drink And Be Prosperous

Fu Lu Shou is ensconced in a rather dodgy looking old building on Hollywood Road by the escalators and takes over the space formerly occupied by TBLS. The only way to get inside is to know the door code which changes every Tuesday. The code, the well-hidden location, plus the jittery old lift, add to the Fu Lu Shou atmosphere and make you feel like you’re in on a little secret. I loved it. Once you emerge on the top floor, you are greeted by a lovely rooftop bar and small, casual indoor dining area and an open kitchen. The bar is made up entirely of mahjong tiles which I was quite fascinated by, and inside, the look is completed by their motto emblazoned on the wall.  The real beauty is the outdoor terrace which is bedecked with inviting, comfy sofas, cushioned swing seats and a huge mural of a couple of happy, old Chinese scholars and one holding a cocktail!

Merry scholars

Merry scholars

Mahjong tiled bar

Mahjong tiled bar

The first time I went it was at the kind invitation of the awesome Rach from Through the Looking Glass and a merry group of us got stuck into the inventive cocktails and mocktails which are all worth trying and utterly delish. Firm cocktail favourites from my three visits are the Joh Sun, “Good Morning Hong Kong”- a feisty concoction of lemon-flavoured vodka, lemongrass syrup, lemon juice, ginger juice, lime and chilli- it certainly woke me up after one tiring day and their Haam Ling Chut “Salty Lemon”  which is a mix of Angostura Reserva 3 Yr Old White Rum, Salted Lemon, Salted Lemon Juice, Preserved Mandarin, Mint, Fever-Tree Lemonade & Fever-Tree Tonic. As someone who really loves the classic haam ling chut from cha chaan tengs, theirs was a lively, alcoholic version that went down a little too nicely! I enjoyed their mocktails too; all refreshing and fruity, especially their Yum Cha made with Chinese tea, homemade red date tea, lemon juice, passionfruit and elderflower syrup which is served in those gorgeous classic Chinese mugs with lids.

Yum Cha

Yum Cha

Joh Sun!

Joh Sun!

But what about the food? It’s NOT authentic first of all, but that’s the point and half the charm. It’s a cheeky and fun medley of Australian, UK and North American westernised Chinese food that owner Ping, wanted to capture and remember from her native Oz.  Ping was very quick to state that Fu Lu Shou is ‘not food-centric’ nor meant to be Michelin-star, the dishes are simply there to be enjoyed with the drinks and not to be taken seriously. In other words, chill out, pig out and smile. Ping clearly has a fab eye for detail as all the dishes came on those amazing melamine retro Chinese plates which I fondly remember eating off from as a child. The plates were shipped all the way from Paris no less- dedication!

Any food item termed ‘Big Arse’ has got to be good. By Big Arse, they are referring to the Ozzie extreme version of the siu mai and this momma was massive when it came as part of the mixed sampler plate. This tasted great, but we especially liked their prawn toast which was deliciously thick and crisp.

Mixed appetizer sample and Big Arse siu mai

Mixed appetizer sample and Big Arse siu mai

The Chicken and Sweet Corn ‘Egg Drop’ soup was soothing for the soul and was just the right consistency.

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

We sampled a variety of mains starting with the Beef in Black Bean Sauce. The sauce was slightly too heavy and intense on the salty black bean for me and should be accompanied by some rice. The Boss’ Honey Prawns’ light, sweet batter was nicely done and the prawns plump to bite into and the Sweet and Sour Pork was also a solid dish. The real crowd pleasers were the Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt which were so addictive- I couldn’t stop piling the chili salt and pepper onto my rice, and the Kung Pao Chicken which was full of flavour and kick as well. For carbs you can go for anyone of the chow meins, though we were served the vegetable version to end the savouries.

Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt

Deep Fried Tofu in Spicy Salt

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

Vegetable Chow Mein

Vegetable Chow Mein

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

Beef in Black Bean Sauce

Boss' Honey Prawns

Boss’ Honey Prawns

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

For dessert we tucked into a properly old-skool banana split with ice-cream AND an umbrella- yummy! We also enjoyed the banana fritters and the sticky toffee apples which we dunked into ice water with glee to solidify the toffee.

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

Sticky Toffee Apple

Sticky Toffee Apple

Dunking Time

Dunking Time

Banana Split

Banana Split

If you want a fun night out with delicious drinks and a great rooftop to enjoy the HK ambience, make Fu Lu Shou a regular hang-out. It doesn’t serve authentic Chinese food, but it sure does do a brilliant take on ‘non-authentic’ Chinese grub to make bananas like me nostalgic. I do recommend booking in advance and remember to check the door code or you’ll be stuck outside on Hollywood Road.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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

Fu Lu Shou, 7/F, 31 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2336 8812

 https://www.facebook.com/FuLuShouHK

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