Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Chômming at the bit

This is probably one of my new favourite places. Although not strictly traditional Vietnamese (there are some contemporary flairs here and there), Chef Peter does a kick-ass pho broth and he really needs to set up his own ice-cream parlour because the man doesn’t half do the most amazeballs home-made ice-cream. I went back earlier this week and had his new flavours- durian, mint basil and Saigon cinnamon, all too delectable for words. Service, especially at dinner is a little slow because Peter is the only one cooking and lovingly preparing everything (by no means a bad thing), but if you’re patient, the food is worth the wait. New on the lunch menu recently are Banh Mi (Viet/French Baguette Sandwich) and Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup).

You can also read this review on Sassy.

When I heard that my favourite dessert kitchen, Riquiqui, in Wellington Street, was closing and its chef abandoning us for greener pastures, I was quite depressed and wasn’t sure that anything that took over the space could be as good or as fun. However, I had the privilege of being introduced to Peter Franklin, Chef and Owner of new eatery Chôm Chôm pho bar, before its opening.

Chef Peter was born and raised in Vietnam and from my two visits so far, (lunch and dinner) he certainly seems to know what he’s doing. The cuisine is modern Vietnamese, but you’ll recognise most of the usual suspects on the menu, which is small but showcases Chef Peter’s flair in the kitchen and his knowledge of traditional dishes and their ingredients. The contemporary aspect is more in the presentation and the slight twist in certain dishes, and that is more noticeable in the newly launched set dinner menu. At the moment the set dinner menu is available Friday and Saturday evenings for $480 (+10% service charge) per person, but from Sundays to Thursdays, you can book dinner in advance if you have a party of ten minimum.

The inside of Chôm Chôm is fresh and minimalistic, leaving the eyes to focus on the work going on in the open kitchen. Peter and his staff are friendly, attentive and show a lot of love to the dishes being prepared.To start, Rachel and I quenched our thirst with a delicious Virgin Parisian Mojito while we waited for the Appetizer Sampler- Vietnamese rolls 3 ways (fried, steamed and fresh): – Crispy spring rolls with pork, vegetable and cilantro, steamed rice paper rolls with mixed mushroom, pork, shallots and spring onion, fresh rice paper rolls with mango, shrimps and herbs. All were excellent, but the fresh rice paper roll had the edge, with the mango really giving the roll a refreshing burst of sweet citrus, which nicely complimented the shrimps and herbs. For me, it’s all about the Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce), which I have a tendency to drench everything with, and this was homemade to saucy perfection.I was looking forward to the  (Pho Bien) as I’d already sampled their Beef Pho at a previous lunch and thought the broth divine. The pho was so aromatic when it arrived, that I took a moment to breathe in the lovely lemongrass bouquet before gazing at the shrimps, crab, clams and the quail egg bobbing up and down in my bowl. This may seem an odd thing to comment on, but the bowl was a good size. I say this because sometimes, the bowls of pho I’ve had in some restaurants are so humungous that my noodles bloat before I can finish, and I don’t enjoy bloated noodles. So it’s great that Chôm Chôm has worked out that one doesn’t need to fill the bowl to the brim with noodles and instead, let’s the broth do the talking.The palate cleanser, albeit a small and one might say, insignificant in the grand scheme of the things, has to be mentioned, as this cucumber lime sorbet was so refreshing and zesty. I loved the crunch of the sea salt that was sprinkled on top, and the cleanser was a demonstration of Chef Peter’s strength in sorbets and ice-creams, which I will come to later!The next two main dishes were the razor clam with spring onion oil and peanuts and the Shaking beef (Bo Luc Lac) with crunchy egg noodles and watercress salad. I liked the spring onion oil and peanut combination with the razor clam, but I felt there was a tad too much oil, and the clam unfortunately ended up being on the greasy side and the taste overwhelmed. The Shaking Beef was an interesting dish, a slight twist to the traditional dish, where the beef is normally cubed and served with rice, at Chôm Chôm, Chef Peter sliced the beef into thin strips and served it over crunchy egg noodles. The beef was tender and the sauce was meaty and of a nice consistency, enough to soften the noodles, which, I have to confess, I had a hard time eating in an elegant fashion. I ended up giving up on the noodles as I ran out of gravy, but Rachel soldiered on and did us proud! Overall, a great dish, I loved the beef and the watercress salad, but personally, a difficult one to tackle when the noodles aren’t cooperating!To end, we had their home-made ice-cream. And boy, oh boy, how I wish Chef Peter would open an ice-cream parlour. The coconut ice-cream was to die for; full of fresh coconut flavour, creamy and rich, I could have eaten a whole tub full. The mango sorbet was a fantastic sharp and fruity contrast, but its coconut counterpart was definitely the cool winner and we loved that the ice cream was presented in coconut shells.Chôm Chôm is an exciting addition to the Central scene, and I feel that Chef Peter has ensured its longevity with his attention to detail and evident passion for the Vietnamese cuisine, as well as the culture. Watch this space.

Chôm Chôm, 2/F, 12 Wellington Street, Central Hong Kong.
Open: Monday – Saturday: 11.00am – 2.00pm. Tel: 2868-3302 or email chomchomhk@gmail.com

Lunch- $-$$$$$$$$$

Dinner- $$$$$$$$$$


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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!