Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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More to be found at Elephant Grounds

When Elephant Grounds popped onto the scene on Gough Street in Central at the Woaw Store, the name was synonymous with one thing only- ice-cream sandwiches. Forget the coffee that they were brewing, no no, people of Hong Kong were solely interested in this seemingly holy grail of desserts, the iPhone equivalent of ice-cream. A new flavour every weekend and a limited supply; their Instagram announcement of the fresh creation generating a wave of palpable excitement, such that friends were clamouring to get there early enough to get their hands on one. It took a while for this feverishness to die down and when it finally seemed a bit calmer, I casually swanned in one Sunday afternoon when in the area and got their Forbidden Crumble ice-cream sandwich which was a) beautiful to look at b) exciting, as apple crumble is one of my favourite desserts so I was already loving it without even tasting it c) bloody difficult to eat gracefully. Call it a sugar high, but I suddenly understood the craze. Cinnamon ice cream with green apple and a crumble cookie finished with caramelized apples and almonds tasted as delicious as it sounds and as I stood in the street between cars, gingerly biting into it, apple bits and almonds perilously sliding off rapidly melting ice-cream, I remember thinking it’d be grand to have another branch a little closer towards North Point. There is zero room inside the Woaw Store for a coffee and a natter and their other branch at Wong Chuk Hang is too out of the way.

And then, LO AND BEHOLD, the coffee gods heard our cries and Elephant Grounds materialised at Fashion Walk in Causeway Bay. (The other day I noticed that my beloved Xi Yan Sweets on Star Street has closed and has been taken over by another Elephant Grounds branch…WHAT ON EARTH?! Am not sure how I feel about this. Whilst I applaud EG’s ability to suddenly sprout another branch, I admit I am rather gutted by the disappearance of XYS to be honest, but luckily there’s still a branch in Tai Koo Shing.) 

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Elephant Grounds, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay (image courtesy of Fashionwalk.com.hk)

But, back to EG and the branch in Causeway Bay is quite lovely and is the older, mature, more sophisticated and obviously much larger version of the Gough Street counterpart, with its minimalistic wooden tables and chairs and a cool counter top to perch at. The menu is more than just ice-cream sandwiches and coffee too. There’s a rather tasty selection of dishes including hamburger, salmon donburi, ramen and kale quinoa salad.

I’d already frequented this branch for the odd coffee or two with friends and love sitting outside watching the world go by.  I hadn’t really paid attention to their coffee philosophy of, “The finest beans. Appropriate roast. Correct brewing method. Great presentation”, but suffice it to say I have no complaints about their coffee, aside from the price, which is tad steep at $45, once you compare it to the cost of some of their dishes, but nonetheless their French Vanilla coffee is done nicely and you can’t go wrong with their latte.

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French Vanilla Latte

On yet another horrendously rainy day, I was kindly invited to try out a couple of dishes from their brunch menu and sampled the Torched Salmon Donburi ($88) with an onsen egg, pickled cucumbers, mixed greens, roasted corn and sesame dressing and their EG burger ($106) which is 8oz of USDA prime beef patty wedged within a brioche bun served with a fried egg, cheddar cheese and fries.

The salmon donburi is a hearty size and prettily presented. I enjoyed the variety of ingredients going on in my bowl and of course, an onsen egg on top of anything will always make things that little bit tastier. The burger is also quite substantial- the beef patty meaty and juicy and topped with a good amount of melty cheese and another egg. Protein overload! The fries were good and I ended up munching on more than I intended despite needing to leave room for ice-cream!

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Torched Salmon Donburi

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EG Burger (this was bloody awkward to photograph!)

Ah yes, the ice-cream. Japanese Taro ice-cream, one of my favourite flavours. There’s a fairly extensive list of atypical flavours such as Thai iced tea and Rose water rhubarb, but the minute I heard Taro, I needed to try it. This was definitely the best part of the meal, and I love how the ice-cream includes candied taro chunks which really livens up the ice-cream to give it that extra texture. Absolutely delicious!

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Japanese Taro Ice-cream with a Taro chip

Now that Fashion Walk has undergone yet another face-lift with EG and Burger Room amongst others moving in, the ‘hood is looking quite a lot more interesting. Although EG is meant to be all about the coffee, somehow the ice-cream became the headliner, whether deliberately or not, I don’t know. In any case, I admire how they are striving to expand their repertoire, so let’s see if the coffee and the food become as memorable as their sweet offerings.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Shop C, G/F, 42-28 Paterson Street Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong / Mon – Fri: 11:00 am – Late/ Sat – Sun: 10:00 am – Late/ 852 2562 8688/ http://elephantgrounds.com/

This meal was by invitation- many thanks to the EG team for the kind hospitality.


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The Crêpe Escape

One of my first memories of a stonking good crêpe was back in uni days sinking my teeth into a glorious example of one from La Crêperie de Hampstead, which is London’s most typical Parisian Street Crêperie and rather legendary amongst North Londoners. Fast forward an X number of years (I cringe at the actual number) and a different part of the world, and I’m sitting down in La Crêperie in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. This Brittany restaurant chain is going from strength to strength, with branches in Sheung Wan and Wan Chai, as well as in Shanghai, Vietnam, Taipei and Phnom Penh. Their latest location in L Square in Lockhart Road is more spacious than the others but somehow still feels cosy, with little details that reflect the maritime culture of Brittany.

La Crêperie Causeway Bay

By kind invitation to their new Causeway Bay restaurant, I was able to take my temporary guy-tai friend along with me to nosh on some savoury and sweet pancakes. I was honestly rather excited, as for reasons that escape me, whenever I have tried to go to their Wan Chai branch randomly over the years, it’s always been shut! Though that is probably more my fault than theirs as I recall being struck by a hankering for pancakes at bizarre hours. Anyway, moving on….

So, they did try to tempt me with their Brittany cider (which I later had when I finally went to the Wan Chai branch for dinner with friends a fortnight later, which was delicious – tart with a sweet edge and very refreshing), but as it was a working day, we felt it safe to stick to their apple juice. Whilst this information is not of any import, what I’m trying to express is how much I loved their dinky little bowls that the cider and apple juice were served in. Très mignon! It reminded me of the bowls of hot chocolate my French exchange’s mum used to serve me for breakfast (the only highlight of that hideous exchange programme).Apple cider

La Crêperie’s menu is quite extensive, with most of the ingredients imported from France. The main feature of the menu is of course the famous dish for which Brittany is known for- the galette. Most people are familiar with the normal dessert pancakes, but galettes are the savoury counterparts made with buckwheat and loaded with a variety of tasty fillings.

To accompany the launch of the new branch, there are naturally, new dishes on the menu. Nothing quite whets the appetite, especially when in a ravenous state, than the tempting wafts of black truffle. The black truffle made an appearance on our first dish- two mini galettes ($98). These were cooked (a little on the crispy side) with a quail egg bouncing seductively in the middle, emmental cheese and slices of French cooked ham draped around the egg yolk, before being finished off with aromatic blobs of black truffle paste. These were actually delightful little bites and although the galettes were a tiny bit overcooked on the bottom, they definitely left guy-tai K and I in eager anticipation of the full-scale versions.Mini galettes

Our next starter was the pan-fried foie gras with caramelised apples, apple cider and salted butter caramel sauce. This particular dish was no different to many of the standard foie-gras dishes peppered about HK restaurants, but I was happy to see a generously sized piece and the foie-gras had a gorgeous, crispy, sweet glaze and I did enjoy the accompanying apples which gave the dish a bit of a lift.Pan fried Foie gras

For mains, we shared the new galette on the block- La Capitaine ($128). This seafood creation boasted pan-fried scallops (on point) nestled on a fondue of leek, bacon, cream and flamed with Jameson Irish Whisky. The flavours came together excellently and we wolfed the entire galette down in silence- such was our enjoyment. I love how simply the dish was presented, but don’t be fooled as it is quite filling.La Capitaine

To end, we had the “Sexy Suzette”, which is a celebration of the famous “Crêpe Suzette” and in this version, is served with Mövenpick passion fruit and mango sorbet, lime juice, grilled almonds and flamed with Cointreau (HK$88). The Crêpe was lovely, the sorbet delish (it’s Mövenpick, what’s not to love?), but the Cointreau was just a tad too strong for my taste, though it did jolt me awake just as I was skimming the surface of a food coma.DSC_1893 Sexy Suzette

K and I had a great meal at La Crêperie, and in fact, I returned, this time to their Wan Chai branch, a mere two weeks later (you don’t go in 4 years and then you go twice in a fortnight!). This time I had a more cheesy galette- Les Poulains, which had French raclette cheese, ham, smoked ham, potatoes and pickles lovingly wrapped in a crêpe. Omnomnomnom. Highly recommend this one if you like raclette, and what could be better than raclette in a galette?! And because I was extremely hungry, I followed that up with a sweet pancake. Le Sextant is a deliciously sexy concoction of Vanilla ice cream, caramelized apples and the all popular salted butter caramel. Pancake heaven. Unfortunately my friends, no photos of that particular outing as we were all too busy eating, or perhaps I should just blame it on poor lighting. In any case, if you are craving a serious crêpe escape, look no further than La Crêperie, which is probably coming to a neighbourhood near you, if their popularity is anything to go by!

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

La Crêperie Causeway Bay, 8/F, The L Square, 459-461 Lockhart Rd. Tel: +852 2898 7123 / La Crêperie
WanChai, 1/F, 100 Queen’s Road East. Tel: +852 25299280 / La Crêperie Sheung Wan,G/F, 69 Jervois Street. Tel: +852 26794666

Meal at Causeway Bay was by invitation- many thanks to the kind hospitality at La Crêperie and Jin Communications.


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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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Appealing to the Sens-es?

Private kitchens are so intriguing to us expats. When I first moved to HK and heard about them, I remember thinking that the label ‘private’ gives these places such an air of mystery and, for lack of a better word, coolness. The idea of knowing about a secret place to eat is appealing and fun, and more often than not, they make great venues for group dining. And for a while these mini restaurants, holed up in apartments or random, seemingly abandoned or dodgy-looking buildings held their appeal and garnered a strong following of patrons eager to have something different or perhaps better than what we can get at a regular restaurant.  From what I recall, many of the private kitchens used  to price their meals extremely reasonably as well, which made me feel that I had stumbled across not only an eatery that many did not know about, but also a place that served fantastic food at fantastic prices. What’s not to love? However, all good things must come to an end, and I feel that this is the case with some private kitchens beginning to lose sight of what used to make them so attractive, including high prices and serving food that strives too hard to set itself apart from everything else on offer. This was the case with newly opened private kitchen, Sens, which opened its apartment doors in February and specialises in ‘modern French Asian fusion’. Blending two or more cuisines together takes a certain amount of bravery, especially as not all flavours and ingredients necessarily work together. I sometimes think that the novelty of making a ‘collage’of cuisines becomes the element that a chef relies on, rather than the taste. With Sens set up in a residential apartment in Causeway Bay and sitting only six to eight people at a time and for one sitting only, it makes for a cosy environment.

Sens Private Dining

Sens Private Dining

A group of seven friends and I went along one Sunday evening last month, guaranteeing a night of good company. Corkage is 50HKD (private kitchens have started charging for corkage which I find irritating!) , but with everyone working the next day, it ended up being a fairly non-alcoholic night, with eight us sharing a very sensible one bottle- livers saved, hooray! Our friendly host, Joy, who opened Sens with her chef partner Michael Druont, welcomed us into her home, which had been cleared to make way for the prettily decorated dining table in the centre. Full respect to Chef Druont who we observed navigating a typically sized HK kitchen (i.e. TINY) with impressive skill, (I can barely cook bacon and eggs without making my kitchen a complete bomb-site, I have no idea how he churned out a 6-course meal replete with presentation).

I accidentally blew out the candle!

I accidentally blew out the candle!

Chef Druont, who had his own restaurant, Fleur de Sel, in France and subsequently worked in San Francisco and then for Starwood Hotels in New Caledonia, has a passion for French fusion and since his move to Asia, has been passionate about combining Eastern cuisine influences with French. At Sens, he has created a six-course degustation menu for $800 per person, a rather hefty price for a private kitchen, especially when I can have a veritable feast at that price at some fantastic restaurants in HK. So was the meal worth that pricing? Ingredients-wise, yes, I can see why they would want or need to charge that much as the menu was very seafood-heavy with uni, roe, scallops and jellyfish and also included duck and foie gras. However, we all were in agreement that there was not a particular dish out of the six that really wowed us.

To start there were Canapés- a fairly standard plate of tasty mini bites of prosciutto with sun-dried tomatoes, smoked salmon wound around cream cheese and smoked ham.

Canapés

Canapés

A pre-course taster was an Asparagus and mushroom consommé with pesto which was creamy and well-seasoned, whetting the appetite for the entrees and mains. Our first entree was the scallop with seared foie gras and quinoa. If I had to choose one dish that I enjoyed the most, this would be it. The scallop was quite perfectly prepared and I liked the contrasting nuttiness and texture of the qunioa against the bouncy scallop. The foie gras was a little over-seared but added a good, fatty flavour to the dish.

Asparagus and mushroom consommé with pesto

Asparagus and mushroom consommé with pesto

Scallop with seared foie gras and quinoa

Scallop with seared foie gras and quinoa

The prettiest dish of the night was the next entree- Poached Egg with Japanese Uni and Ikura with special chef consommé. The ikura (salmon roe) were fresh and the egg nicely poached. Presentation was lovely, but the addition of the jellyfish coupled with the roe AND the uni created an overpowering taste of the sea that drowned the petite egg and its glorious yolk. I would have much preferred the egg served with the jellyfish and the roe only, or just with the uni, to bring out the best in one of those ingredients.

Poached Egg with Japanese Uni and Ikura with special chef consommé

Poached Egg with Japanese Uni and Ikura with special chef consommé

Our first main was chicken ravioli with clams, Maitake mushrooms and an élixir of mushroom sauce. The ravioli filling was quite tasty but the pasta was a little dense. None of the flavours in that dish particularly stood out and the mushroom sauce tasted a lot like the asparagus and mushroom consommé that we had at the beginning. I think it would have been better if there was less sauce and the clams and the chicken did the talking.

Chicken ravioli with clams, Maitake mushrooms and an élixir of mushroom sauce

Chicken ravioli with clams, Maitake mushrooms and an élixir of mushroom sauce

Our penultimate main was a filet of Seabass on a bed of puy lentils and baby pak choi. The topping of roe gave this dish a wonderful burst of colour but the presentation was not enough to carry it through, as sadly the seabass was a tad overcooked. The lentils did not add anything to the dish and were lacklustre.

Seabass with puy lentils

Seabass with puy lentils

If the last two mains had made an impact or had been prepared perfectly, it would have saved the menu somewhat, but our final main- duck breast with raspberry sauce, was also overcooked for some of us (I was fortunate and had the slightly pinkier section of the duck). This for me was something that was fundamental, especially when you are charging your patrons $800 per head.

Duck breast with raspberry sauce

Duck breast with raspberry sauce

With the mains finished, we had our dessert to look forward to and we were told to expect their signature dish which arrived in the form of a Tomato and Mixed Berries Confit. The idea behind this dessert was clever. I liked the creativity of using tomatoes as a sweet, but the execution was poor. The tomato itself was not sweetened and the accompanying rosemary cream was savoury. When mixed with the berry confit, the concoction was fairly unpleasant. I commend Chef Druont’s attempt to fuse these flavours together, but unfortunately I ended up feeling like my palate was stuck awkwardly in no-man’s land of neither savoury nor sweet. The cream reminded me of roast lamb (I am sure this was not his intention) and the tomato was not only not sweet, it was bland.

Signature special Tomato and Mixed Berries Confit

Signature special Tomato and Mixed Berries Confit

Sens has a long way to go if it wants to establish itself. Chef Druont’s ability to present his dishes is good, but the ingredients and the flavours need some further thought. The menu was too seafood and too cream heavy and the sauce flavours too similar. The ambience was a little stiff and the lighting a little too fluorescent and harsh to make this a really intimate dining experience. I keep coming back to the pricing, but honestly, at $800 per person with corkage fee (I know that at $50 this may seem nominal but most private kitchens do not charge), I would expect much much more for my money. The dessert was extremely disappointing and I hope that they take the time to improve the execution as I believe Sens does have the potential and is worth keeping an eye on. But for now, they should experiment and perfect their menu.

Chopstixfix rating: 2/5

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Sens Private Dining and Catering, B3, Floor 25, Pearl City Mansion, 22-36 Patterson Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 6165 5483

{This was by invitation (only me though) but the rest of my party paid for theirs and I split the bill with the rest of them}


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Burgers and Milkshake Coma in Causeway Bay

Whilst burgers are nothing unique in this town, BLT Burger’s latest location in the basement of Time Square is an exciting addition to the area, not least because Causeway Bay folks now get to fully satisfy their burger and milkshake cravings with their hearty offerings. Both Chef Laurent Tourondel’s other restaurants in HK – the modern American steakhouse BLT Steak and its sister BLT Burger – are located in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City mall, so it’s good for the Island to get a bit of BLT action at last!blt-burger-causeway-bay-hk-dcg

The memory of what occupied its space in Times Square previously eludes me, but I can attest that BLT is the much better option. It’s a great spot for lunch and feels a tad more spacious than their Harbour City branch too – and who can resist their crowd-pleasing menu of Angus beef burgers, as well as other tasty alternatives such as the turkey breast, fried chicken and Atlantic salmon? There’s also a whole menu of wonderfully cheeky ‘spiked milkshakes’, which should be drunk strictly during their Happy Hour!Interior of BLT Burger

I was glad I skipped breakfast the day Rach and I went, because the aftermath was a big-time food coma. We began cautiously, each requesting a mini version of one of their (non-spiked!) milkshakes. I went for the Monkey Business – a lethally filling (even in its miniscule form) but gorgeously rich chocolate ice cream, peanut butter and banana concoction. I loved the blend of the peanut butter and the chocolate, which didn’t dilute the taste of the banana, but avoid the generous topping of cream if you want to walk and not roll out of BLT!

Monkey Business Milkshake is coma inducing!

Monkey Business Milkshake is coma inducing!

Next, I attacked my Roaring Forties Blue burger (a 7oz grilled CAB burger with blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions and mushrooms) whilst Rach had the blackboard offering of ‘HK Side’ Shrimp burger. If one’s eyes could have an appetite, they would be full just from the sight of this burger! The beef patty was thick and juicy but didn’t have enough meaty flavour to it, but the bacon evened out the score, coupled with the great taste of blue cheese and the sweetness of the onions and mushrooms.

Roaring Forties Blue burger

Roaring Forties Blue burger

Rach’s shrimp burger topped with watercress and fried wonton was an interesting and light twist on the seafood burger, with the Sriracha honey mayo giving the patty a much-needed lift in flavour.

Shrimp Burger

Shrimp Burger

Aside from burgers, BLT have a good selection of sides too; we decided to try their Vidalia onion rings and the bacon chilli cheese fries from the all-day blackboard specials menu. The onion rings had too thick a coating of batter and were slightly over deep-fried for my taste, which was a shame; I had to fight through the wall of batter to really taste and get to the onion itself. But the chilli cheese fries did not disappoint! A meal in itself, the cheese was gorgeously gooey and creamy with a hint of piquancy, and the fried onions and bacon on top added an extra good dose of crispiness too.

Vidalia onion rings

Vidalia onion rings

Bacon chilli cheese fries

By the time we’d heroically chomped our way through the fries and burgers, it was time to squeeze in a bit of dessert. Rach’s penchant for chocolate meant that the Valrhona chocoate praline cake couldn’t be missed. The layered cake was rich and moist (a little too rich perhaps), the chocolate nuttiness pairing nicely with the vanilla ice cream. This is definitely the dessert for chocolate lovers.

Valrhona chocoate praline cake

Valrhona chocoate praline cake

Service is efficient and their premises are casual, convenient and comfortable for laid-back Happy Hour drinks and leisurely grazing over your burger feast. I’ll be back there soon to check out their spiked milkshakes!

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

BLT Burger, Shop B224A, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 2506 1500; Shop 301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2730 2338

You can also see this review on Sassy.


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Art and food at The Drawing Room

Since its opening in 2009, The Drawing Room has unassumingly established itself as one of the top fine-dining restaurants in Causeway Bay, with a solid reputation, knowledgeable wait staff and a sleek menu.The Drawing Room

My first visit, over two years ago, saw it still finding its feet, with some room for improvement in service and a few tweaks needed for a couple of its dishes. But when I returned recently, it was to a smoothly run and confident establishment.

The Drawing Room was Tony Cheng’s first venture into the F&B business and the beginning of a successful partnership with Master Chef Roland Schuller, who recently opened AMMO together. Most will have soft spots for their original projects, and one can tell that they’ve not let their other undertakings get in the way of the attention to detail and quality of their dishes.

Rach and I headed to the restaurant in torrential rain, so it was a welcome comfort to step into the carpeted entrance and be greeted by friendly staff who helped me with my now useless umbrella and ushered me to my seat. We settled at the tables on the elevated platform at the front, getting a good view of the rest of the softly elegant space and the art work (provided by MobArt Gallery).

The Drawing Room is open only for dinner and provides four and five-course tasting menus, with each course having three choices to choose from. Our dinner was a signature dish affair, showcasing Chef Schuller’s finest creations. We started with the Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

Pan Fried Quail and Foie Gras with Hazelnut and Cherries.

The quail was cooked perfectly, the skin crisp, the meat tender. Unfortunately, the foie gras was tad overdone, the outside a bit too charred which slightly marred the silky, creamy taste within. The cherries were a lovely addition, helping to cut through the richness of the dish.

Schuller’s popular Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes was beautifully prepared. The prawn and its juices mixed in with the al dente linguine tasted sublime and the artichoke slices gave it a nice crunch.

Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes

Linguine with Canary Island Red Prawn and Crispy Artichokes

Our third course was the Trio of Wagyu Short Rib, Wagyu Beef Tenderloin and Ox Tongue. Consistency was a problem here with the ox tongue the clear winner of the three with its succulent and bouncy texture. The tenderloin was good and well flavoured but the short rib was overcooked and a little dry. The Dauphinoise potatoes and the pretty mound of vegetables on the side were pleasing to the eye and to the palate.

Trio of Waygu Beef

Trio of Waygu Beef

To end, we had the stunning Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream. I thoroughly enjoyed the flaky pastry and the pear slices delicately layered on top retained their juices and gave the dessert a wonderful fruity aroma. The ice-cream was scrumptious too, in all its vanilla pod glory.

Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream

Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice-cream

We were also treated to the divine Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream, which delighted Rach with its sinful velvet chocolate exterior and a rich, nutty interior.

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Praline cake with Vanilla Ice-cream

The service that night was impeccable. Our waitress was attentive and conversant in each dish and there were no prolonged waits between courses. Rach and I felt at ease to enjoy our meal without any rush and we ended our evening satiated and warm. Unfortunately for us, we soon had to leave the comforts of The Drawing Room and brave the deluge outside.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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The Drawing Room, J Plus Boutique Hotel 1/F, 1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong | Tel: +852 2915-6628

5-course meal: $930 + 10% per person

4-course meal: $760 +10% per person

You can also see this review on Sassy.


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Posh noodles anyone?

One of the more interesting and new recipients of a Michelin star this year is MIST, a swanky and elegant ramen restaurant in Causeway Bay. MIST first came onto the scene early last year, but I’ve only been hearing the buzz about it in the last couple of months when friends began talking of a ‘posh noodle place’.“What does that mean?!” I thought to myself, but now I understand that the concept is Japanese rahmen (as they spell it) Fine Dining. Many people, including myself, might be dubious about this- how fine can a bowl of noodles get?

The interior is simple, yet plush. A wall of glass facing the outside world gives the small establishment the much needed illusion of space and gives it a very modern feel. The bar area is contemporary and offsets the rather luxurious red leather bound chairs in the main dining section. Originally, my girlfriends and I were sitting by the window, but for some reason it was really breezy and cold, and when we mentioned this, the staff were attentive and extremely accommodating, allowing us to move to an inside table for warmth!One thing that us girls loved were the secret drawers hiding beneath the table containing eating utensils for each diner and a information sheet on the background and preparation of the MIST rahmen. It was very much like a cha chaan teng (but a more upscale version of course). A ridiculous but cool thing to point out is the smoothness of the chopsticks! The first comment we made when we took out our chopsticks was, “Oooh so smooth!” Not that this has anything to do with how one rates a restaurant, but it was rather impressive.Back to food, and the sheet of paper in the drawer told us that the noodles are made from a mixture of flours from Shinshu, Tohoku and Hokkaido and that the soup results from a ten hour cooking process, contains over 25 ingredients and is kept at a temperature between 78 and 82 degrees Celsius. Very informative, but also raises one’s expectations.

The menu offers only 5 different types of soup base to accompany the 1 type of rahmen. Each bowl comes with a slice of pork ($120) and you have to pay extra for any additional pieces of BBQ pork, an egg or seaweed. When we went, they had a seasonal soup base- Tonkatsu, which is what I went for. They had unfortunately run out of egg at the time (I was disappointed). 2 of my friends opted for the Karomiso (a spicy miso soup) and my other friend asked for the Ume shio plum soup with BBQ pork. We also ordered the Hokkaido scallop salad to start.

If you wish to, you can have the dinner set for $380 which includes a salad and another dish of their choice to start, a bowl of rahmen of your choice and a dessert. If you’re a beer drinker, they recommended the Nipponia Hitachino nest beer to us, which was yummy and smooth (though I’m no expert!).

The salad was good, nothing spectacular but the scallops were excellently prepared. There wasn’t nearly enough of it though, but it just about fed the 4 of us so that we all had a taste and 2 scallops each.The pièce de résistance was a lot less arresting to look at that I had imagined- just a regular bowl of noodles. But, the soup base was truly scrumptious, fantastic explosion of flavours and not too salty (something that most noodle soups fall victim to in other places). I slurped a bit of the Karomiso soup- delicious! Going for that one next time. The noodles themselves were decent, I’m not used to eating such finely prepared rahmen and my friends were not overly enthusiastic, preferring the normal thicker and chewy types elsewhere, but overall, the soup base more than made up for it.For dessert, we ended with two slices of banana chocolate cake, which is provided by Awfully Chocolate- sinfully indulgent.So, does it deserve its Michelin star? I’m not so sure; the soup base is wonderful, but at $120, is it enough or worthy of this accolade? I’ll leave it to you to decide.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

MIST Rahmen Fine Dining G/F, 4 Sun Wui Road, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2881 5006

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You can also see my review on Sassy Hong Kong.