Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Estates & Wines “Flavours Asia” Free iPad App and Coffee Table Book Giveaway

Since the creation of the blog, nothing has got me more excited and chuffed than to be invited to events and schmooze with fellow foodie and drink enthusiasts. A few of these events have not only made me a happy, satiated bunny, but also a more knowledgeable one. I love learning new facts and learning more about F&B is so much fun, which explains why the Travel and Living channel is constantly on at home. I am such a nerd.

Anyway, there is a point to this spiel! I was lucky to be invited by Moët Hennessy Asia Pacific to experience the new Estates & Wines iPad app at a launch event, which was a wine pairing dinner with Cantonese fare at Island Tang. Moët Hennessy Estates & Wines Collection has created a free iPad app called “Flavours Asia”, based on their coffee table book, A Heavenly Wine Match with The Flavours of Asia.I’ll be the first to admit that up till earlier this year, I knew nuts about wine. Nuts = nada, nothing. Wine generally causes me to speak gibberish and adopt the colour of a fire engine truck,  so I had taken to avoiding learning anything about wine as I couldn’t drink enough of it to appreciate it! However, after a session earlier this year with a sommelier that got me stonking sloshed as well, I’m a bit more clued up.This event was perfect to add to my growing wine knowledge base. But what does this swanky new iPad app do exactly? It helps clueless lemmings like myself, to pair different wines (from the Moët Hennessy range), with a variety of dishes from existing Asian restaurants in different countries. So, that means, if you decide to visit a particular restaurant and you’ve ordered, let’s say, a Thai red curry, you can simply navigate through the app and find the recommended wine. Wine pairing headache solved!It is notoriously difficult, so I’m told/hear/experienced myself, to pair wine successfully with Asian cuisine, simply because there are just too many different dishes and too many flavours.

This app is brilliant. It’s comprehensive, looks cool and it’s easy to navigate. On the front page, you can browse through articles on restaurants, wine trends, vineyards and there’s a spread on sommeliers. The sophisticated looking man featured on the Sommelier Spotlight, nosing a glass a wine, is none other than Arnaud Mirey, the brand ambassador, who was also at the event and excellently guided us through the wine pairings. You’ll find three categories- Pairings with Wine, Pairings with Food and Brand stories, which gives you background information on the vineyards.

The Pairings with Wine page is pretty as you get pictures of the wine bottles to click on! You can browse through them by taste, grapes, wine colour, country brand and awards. The Pairings of Food category is quite exciting. You can search via Cuisine (there are 12 countries that contribute: China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines), Flavours, (sour, salty, spicy, savoury, sweet), or Ingredients, (pork, noodles, shrimp etc).Pages on individual dishes tells you how the dish is prepared and gives you the recommended wine.If you’re looking at individual wines, the page gives you ratings and reviews, tasting notes and recommended dishes.

There’s a helpful map that shows you the location of the restaurants in a particular country and also where you can buy your wine from. A few things need to be tweaked and added to the app, such as linking the dishes to the restaurants, and adding more restaurants, but that is a work in progress!

Unfortunately, yours truly doesn’t have the iPad to even use this app, but if you have one, then click here, to download it for free! It’s only available for the iPad at the moment, but here’s hoping it will launched for Android and iPhone.

If you’re like me and are iPad-less, I am doing a fabulous giveaway of the BOOK VERSION- “The Flavours of Asia”. It’s a beautiful book with oodles of information and loads more detail on wine and food pairings recommendations. Obviously, if you can’t get your mitts on the wines recommended, you will still have the general gist of what would go well, so go forth and try out other wines.Many thanks to Moët Hennessy for inviting me to the event and for generously letting me have four copies of the book to give away!

I will be giving the books to HK residents ONLY.

All you need to do is:

1) Email me at chopstixfix AT gmail.com with the heading FLAVOURS ASIA, and tell me

a) Why you need the coffee table book (be imaginative please- for my amusement 😛 )

b) Which Asian dish you would most like to pair a wine with.

2) When you’ve done that, please go to my Facebook page and “Like” if you haven’t already, and write a post on my page saying “I LOVE WINE” 🙂

The first 15 people to successfully complete the above, will be entered into a random draw, and 4 names will be drawn out of a hat (literally!). I will notify the winners by email and sort out the collection.

If you would like to buy the book from Moët Hennessy, I think it’s around $250, and you can email me and I’ll get back to you with the relevant contact.

Details from the night of the event to come soon!

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Will you become a Loyal customer?

Hong Kong’s past is eclectic, its cuisine colourful and influenced by the different cultures and backgrounds of the people who’ve passed through over the years. Harking back to the 60s and 70s, when the place we now call ‘home’ was still under colonial influence, there was a noticeable improvement in the standard of living for the locals, and also a surge of expats. Imported Western food became hugely popular and sought after, and that was how the East-meets-West, Hong Kong-style Western cuisine was born.

Hong-Kong Western-style food is brilliant. I love it. When I first moved here, I was a bit dubious about the whole ‘baked-pork-chop-with-rice-thing’, but once I tried some of these Western-influenced dishes there was no turning back.

Named after the imported Western goods “Loi Lo”, (pronounced “Loyal” in English), which became popular in Hong Kong, Loyal Dining, the new ‘old-school’ kid on the block, has stationed itself on Wellington Street, opposite my favourite post-clubbing eatery Tsui Wah. Now, while I strongly believe that nowhere else does my spam and fried egg instant noodles in quite the same way, Loyal Dining is a welcome sight for an alternate venue for a 4am snack or three. Serving favourites from the 60s and 70s, such as beef wellington, baked lobster and seafood with fried rice, Loyal Dining also offers afternoon tea snacks and after hours dim sum between 10pm and 2am. I’m unsure whether this late-night offering is a novel idea or an attempt to set itself apart from other similar establishments like Tai Ping Koon, but at least I can go for emergency siu mai.The restaurant is sprawled over four floors and is all shiny, warm brown hues and retro decor. It’s quite nostalgic and you do feel that you’ve been flung back to the 1960s.I started off with ordering the baked pork chop with fried rice. There was a nice sunny side-up egg resting on top, which I smashed with glee. The runny egg yolk was scrumptious with the rice which was excellently prepared and came with a generous amount of half tangy, half sweet sauce. The pork chop itself was a little bland and lacked ‘meatiness’, but overall, it was a satisfying dish.My friend had the signature “66 Beef Wellington”. It arrived with flair on a sizzling hot plate, the waiter placing it in front of us with gusto, almost as if he walked in from the kitchen amidst a fanfare of trumpets. The beef wellington is prepared by taking a fillet of Angus beef, covering it with a thin layer of foie gras pate and then wrapping it with a light, buttery pastry, before being baked and presented on the hot plate with a vegetable medley and a jacket potato. It comes with a sauce of your choice, either gravy, black pepper sauce or garlic sauce. My friend commented that the pastry was good, but the texture of the beef was soft and more akin to burger meat, rather than the full meatiness that one would expect with a fillet.To end, out of greed and curiosity, I ordered the thick toast with condensed milk. One can’t really go wrong with this snack, and as delicious as the thick, perfectly toasted bread, smothered with condensed milk was, I still prefer Tsui Wah’s.

I didn’t get a chance to try a bigger selection of the dishes Loyal Dining offers, but, on perusing the menu, it’s clear that this establishment has something for everyone. The food still needs a bit of fine-tuning, but if you’re unfamiliar with Hong Kong western-style food, this is a fun place for first introductions to this quirky mishmash of cuisines.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5


Loyal Dining, 66 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 3125 3000

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

You can also read the review on Sassy Hong Kong

Thanks to GHCAsia for the professional pics!



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That Megan is hot!

No boys (and girls 😛 ), I’m not referring to Megan Fox. I haven’t suddenly started being a “GQ/ Esquire” mag writer,  I’m talking of Megan’s Kitchen. I wish I’d discovered this place sooner, not just because of the quality of the food but also because I emerged with very little hotpot stench lingering on my clothes. Prior knowledge would then have saved me the trouble of trying to “air” my coat and clothes after a stinky session immersed in hotpot fumes at all the other places!

I realise that as a Brit, I should, for all intents and purposes, not complain about the paltry 11 degrees Celsius that Hong Kong is at the moment, but, I’m cold. Yes, I’ve assimilated myself wholeheartedly into the Hong Kong way of life, and that includes freaking out about the temperature drop from the mid- 20s down to low double digits and heaven forbid, teetering dangerously close to single digits.

And what better way is there to get warm than trotting off to hotpot?

My friends, Chiaphuati (the hotpot craver that evening) and SJ had both been to Megan’s Kitchen a long time ago, so to refresh their memories and to educate my tastebuds, we decided to have a mammoth feast between the 3 of us.

Megan’s Kitchen is known for its quirky, non-traditional soup bases, including kimchi tofu, tom yum koong cappuccino, tomato and crab soup souffle and Malaysian satay. Being the carnivores we are, we all immediately opted for the oxtail, red wine and tomato soup base.I’m not going to harp on about the hotpot too much, as it really is a DIY meal, but the soup base was literally outstanding. I honestly have never had a soup base better than this one- perfect seasoning, the aroma was delectable and the oxtail taste was rich but not overwhelming.

The platters of meat we ordered were very fresh- lamb, black pork, marbled beef and we had to try the ‘Kraft cheese balls wrapped in juicy minced beef’. Those cheese balls were extremely addictive, and, I might add, PIPING hot. Chiaphuati and I were over-gluttonous and nearly took off half of our palates biting into the cheeseballs without waiting for them to cool down. But hey, it’s all in the name of enjoyment, so I soldiered on through the pain, by downing copious amounts of cold chrysanthemum tea and carried on eating (sucker for punishment!).We also ordered a shedload of veg, fried fish skin (my fav) and instant noodles to finish off and these yummy ‘Fu Chow fish balls’. I’m afraid I have no idea what was inside, but it was delicious.What I appreciated the most in Megan’s Kitchen, was the service, the excellent room temperature control (I kid you not, this is the 1st hotpot place I’ve been to where I’ve NOT been blasted by Arctic air con), the cleanliness and all round pleasant atmosphere. The 3 of us really enjoyed ourselves. Best of all, we hardly smelt at the end of dinner!

Whoever Megan is… she’s ace.

Happy New Year everyone and see you 2011!!!!

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Megan’s Kitchen, 5/F, Lucky Centre, 164 – 171 Wanchai Road, Wanchai . Tel: 2866 8305 Opening times: Lunch- 12noon- 3pm, Dinner- 6pm-11.30pm

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


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Hotcakes & Pea Soup- what a combo set

Facebook is pretty useful. It helps you to track and “poke” unsuspecting friends, post your musings of the day, upload photos of your drunken nights so you can piece together the shenanigans of the evening and more importantly, helps you track down your next meal!

My friend Krispy K (an eager BB photographer who uploads her photos onto FB faster than you can say “cheese!”) very helpfully uploaded photos of her midnight feasting at an extremely quaint and cool looking cha chaa teng in Causeway Bay called Cafe Matchbox. Continuing the “retro” theme, Cafe Matchbox has decked out its interiors in a Hong Kong ’60s style, with funky green and white tiling on the walls, tacky plastic lights, green blinds and the strains of Canto music of years gone by, playing in the background. I LOVE it.
Nothing makes me happier than going somewhere cheap and cheerful and Matchbox hits the spot. The menu is jam packed with local comfort food, from your baked rice dishes to your soup noodles/ macaroni combo with good ol’ spam or ham with a fried egg. They also churn out some cracking traditional desserts such as egg tarts, mango pudding and cream cakes.
But..when I went, my eye was on the prize. There was one particular set meal I was desperate to get my chops on and that was the chicken pie in green pea soup followed by banana hotcakes. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Tastes even AWESOMER (not a real word, made it up, but I like it). The other set offers scrambled egg and ham with a thick piece of buttered toast to start, followed by BBQ pork and peas in a noodle soup. Not as exciting but definitely just as comforting. So….we got both sets! And, we also added a bowl of pork liver and instant noodle soup plus a beef consumme for SJ and 2 hot ovaltines for R and myself. Faint with hunger, us 3 girls waited in anticipation, practically drooling over the menu and gazing with food envy at our neighbouring tables’ food. 
SJ was like a girl possessed when her pork liver instant noodle soup arrived. Chopsticks dove into the big bowl and she eagerly dumped the noodles into her own little receptacle, and soon she was in raptures over the liver and the gingery soup. When R and I eventually got to the bowl of noodles, SJ was in a dream-like state and in a happy place (ok, I exaggerate, SJ is a very lovely, elegant girl but she was pretty darn hungry, never seen her attack food like that before- you go girl!) If you are a fan of offal like us, you will love the liver which was cooked to perfection. Some places over cook the liver until it reaches that rather tough and rubbery stage but Matchbox delivered very tender slices and the soup base was YUM.
 Then it was my turn to get all excited. The green pea soup is an arresting sight- VERY green. It’s steaming hot and extremely tasty. The chicken pie pastry is exactly like the pastry used to make the egg tarts- sweet, light and just the right kind of flaky and the sweetness makes an interesting but moreish contrast against the savoriness of the soup.Words can’t express how happy us girls were when we bulldozed our way through this dish.
The scrambled egg and ham? All I can say is, I wish I could make scrambled eggs taste like that. How do cha chaan tengs do it?! And the thick cut toast slathered in butter was deeply satisfying.
The BBQ pork soup noodles were decent, nothing amazing compared to the chicken pie but the BBQ pork was well prepared; the soup was just lacking a bit of flavour.The best part of the meal was definitely the banana hotcakes. 2 gorgeous soft and fluffy hotcakes drenched in syrup and a drizzle of cream, topped with slices of banana and walnuts. What more could you ask for to end a truly scrumptious, cheap as chips dining experience? Drool-worthy.And, before I forget, the ovaltine was amazing too- just like your Grandma would’ve made for you.
 
Chopstixfix rating: for fab food and fantastic value for money 4/5
Cafe Matchbox, 8 Cleveland Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2868 0363
$$$$$$$$$$ ($60 each for a feast!)