Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Opa Souvla Style

Italian, French, Spanish- we have a shedload of these cuisines on what feels like every corner of Hong Kong, but Greek food? No. When I heard a Greek restaurant had sailed, landed and maybe conquered(?) our shores, (excuse the Trojan War reference) I rejoiced. Moussaka delights, lamb dishes; Greek salads, oooh. Finally, something different to sink my teeth into. I love the blend of Mediterranean with Middle Eastern influence in Greek cuisine and their copious use of grains, olive oil and various meats and vegetables. Not to mention nuts and honey in their desserts. My first encounter with Greek and Cypriot cuisine was as a child through a classmate of mine whose family created these huge, jolly feasts. I tasted Feta and was hooked. London has a few stellar Greek restaurants, so naturally when hearing about Souvla, I was hoping this would be up to par.

You have to have a party of fun friends to enjoy Greek food, and 7 of us tried (and failed, I might add), to resist the lure of biscuits and chocolate at work, to wait patiently till 8pm to feast on empty stomachs. The anticipation was so high that we were in serious danger of emotional devastation if the food even remotely disappointed us in any way. Thankfully, we were not let down.

I arrived first, came through one of two possible entrances-the back end of the restaurant near the loo and emerged in a confused state, much to the amusement of the manager. Souvla is large and has a polished look with a red honeycomb patterned wall, an open kitchen and marble table-tops and long tables for social dining.

Souvla

Souvla

Little details to note: the Greek sea- salt, Kalas on each table and the best illustrated menu I have seen in a while, with drawings of Greek Gods and figures from mythology.

Souvla's menu

Souvla’s menu

With the whole group assembled, we waited no time in ordering as much as we could muster from the menu. First was the Taramasalata, which praise be to Zeus, did not resemble the horrifically dyed pink stuff that you find in the supermarket. Incredibly moreish, served with warm, yielding pitta bread, this subtly-flavoured version was creamy and delicious.

Taramasalata and pitta bread

Taramasalata and pitta bread

One of our favourite dishes was the outstanding Saganaki: Kefalograviera Cheese that came bubbling on a hot plate and served with fig marmalade. Divinely salty and gooey, (I loved the texture aswell, it had a slightly bouncy give), it was not enough to stop at one serving so we immediately flagged down a passing waiter for seconds. The fig marmalade is a great accompaniment to offset the savoury. After the meal a couple of us mentioned that we have since dreamt of the cheese. I think we have problems.

Saganaki

Saganaki

We were eager to get to the meat and first up was the Slow Cooked Lamb served with Lemon Greek Yogurt which was good but nowhere near as spectacular as the Grilled Lamb Ribs. These were frankly, out of this world. I could quite easily become obsessed with these lamb ribs which were beautifully seasoned by garlic and alatopiperigano, a simple Greek potpourri of salt, pepper and oregano. Each of us took one bite and said, “Oohhhhhhhh” simultaneously. Rapturous plaudits all round and a prerequisite for a second plate. Call us cavemen, but we didn’t even bother with the accompanying yoghurt and lemon slices to cut through the strong meat flavour. The Spit Roasted Pork was also quite tasty, but not as tender. I’m afraid the lamb distracted us somewhat and two small pork pieces were abandoned woefully.

Grilled lamb ribs

Grilled lamb ribs

Slow Cooked Lamb

Slow Cooked Lamb

Spit roasted pork

Spit roasted pork

The Moussaka, made of lamb, pork and veal with eggplant and a smooth bechamel and potato topping, was almost a little too refined for my tastes and the bechamel and potato layer could have been a lot thicker, creamier and cheesier. However, the Grilled octopus surprised us. It was fantastically flavoursome and so tender that we couldn’t quite believe it was octopus- where was the need to chew? The herb medley  of thyme, rosemary, parsley and lemon was spot on.

Grilled octopus

Grilled octopus

Moussaka

Moussaka

Their Glacier 51 Toothfish (sourced from a sustainable Australian fishery in the Antarctic), was perfectly cooked. It is a meaty fish and slightly buttery in flavour which, together with their fabulous seasoning treatment, held our attention just enough to pry our fingers away from the lamb ribs. For $395 though, the size isn’t quite sharing friendly for any more than three non-greedy people, and neither were the two sad, wilted pieces of lettuce next to it.

Glacier 51 Toothfish

Glacier 51 Toothfish

But gosh, their Cypriot salad. What deliciousness. Grains, pulses, nuts, honey and cumin, who knew such a combination could be so divine. The nutty texture and the burst of fruit from the pomegranate seeds made this a healthy yet hearty and unusual salad. Which means that we were more than justified in getting a second plate of that as well. Hmm.

Cypriot salad

Cypriot salad

At this point, we thought it best to try their desserts. The Golden Greek Time- a large ball of vanilla ice-cream with a chocolate ice-cream centre, covered in cornflakes, then deep-fried and served with honeycomb and salted caramel, looks harmless enough in presentation but together was a sugar party. Their Baklava cigars were surprisingly not as sweet as those I’m used to eating and was lacking in texture. It needed added nuttiness and honey. I was neutral about this.

The Golden Greek Time

The Golden Greek Time

The Golden Greek Time

The Golden Greek Time

Baklava

Baklava

All in all we were very impressed with Souvla. Best line of the night was when one of our friends said the food was so good, he wanted to, “smash their plates and yell, “Opa!”” And despite our repeat orders of certain dishes, it came in at $400 per person. There’s no Trojan subterfuge needed at Souvla to win over my stomach.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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

Souvla, 1/F, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 40 D’Aguilar Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2522 1823

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Kyoto Joe Revisited

When you’re not clawing your way up Lan Kwai Fong in your heels to grab drinks in the evenings or weekends or if you’re a man, getting lairy with the lads(!), I do recommend occasionally taking your appetite before drinks to a couple of other establishments around that tiny area that tend to get overshadowed by the likes of Brickhouse down the road.

One is Kyoto Joe. The last time I visited this place was back in 2011 and after two years of making my way round all the other restaurants in HK, I finally found myself back there again by the kind invitation of LKF Entertainments which also owns Tokio Joe, Whiskey Priest and Lux Bar and Tapas. Being back in Kyoto Joe reminded me of actually how lovely it is. Considering its location, it is surprisingly quiet and the food, more importantly is good. When I previously reviewed it, it was just after the tsunami in Japan and everyone was wary of sushi and I mentioned that Kyoto Joe sources most of its produce from other countries, which is still the case. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal then and I had another fantastic lunch again, but this time I sampled some new dishes.

Kyoto Joe
Kyoto Joe

The simplistic decor interwoven with Japanese art and the restaurant’s tranquil ambience are two elements that make dining at Kyoto Joe particularly pleasant. On weekdays, the seats are occupied by the work crowd and businessmen, but I imagine it being a great spot on the weekends to take a breather over a good meal. Their menu has something for everyone, with sushi, sashimi, tempura, hot dishes, robatayaki, rolls and cones, salads, rice and noodles and now a vegetarian menu, which I think is brilliant, as Japanese establishments so rarely have enough on their menus to cater to vegetarians.

Tea service was exemplary as before, you’ll never go thirsty here! My first dish was a special- the Tuna Egg White, a softly steamed egg white and tofu topped with shredded tuna with a touch of spicy sauce. The bite of the shredded tuna and the fluffy, light egg white was lovely and the spicy sauce really jazzed up the dish.

Tuna Egg White
Tuna Egg White

The Ebi Nori roll with grilled king prawn was excellent. Plump, fresh prawn and well dressed in their homemade seaweed sauce.

Ebi Nori roll
Ebi Nori roll

Their Sweet and Spicy Vegetables of slightly fried cauliflower, asparagus and  mushrooms were served with sesame and sweet and spicy sauce. The vegetables were fried perfectly but I would have preferred the sauce to be served on the side rather than already coated on them as some may find the sauce a bit too sweet and piquant for their liking.

Sweet and Spicy Vegetables
Sweet and Spicy Vegetables

Their next dish is a very new edition to their now quite expansive menu and my favourite of the meal. The Angel Salmon Tartar, chopped salmon with spicy mayonnaise served on seaweed rice crackers was lip-smackingly delicious. I love mayonnaise anyway, but the spicy mayo with salmon was just addictive. Seaweed crackers may make you think, ‘so what?’, but somehow Kyoto Joe’s made their crackers sexy especially in that combo. I will have to hog all 4 pieces to myself on my next lunch.

Angel Salmon Tartar
Angel Salmon Tartar

For mains I revisited their Karubi grilled beef ribs with teriyaki sauce, which was perfectly prepared, sizzling on their hot stones. After 2 years, I can definitely say that consistency is Kyoto Joe’s strongest point, a bit of rarity in HK!

Karubi
Karubi

Dessert was the Trio of crème brulee (green tea, sesame and coffee) which I also had before, and again, nom nom nom. Yummy. They just needed a minute more of caramelisation on top to give that satisfying crack with your spoon.

Trio of crème brulee
Trio of crème brulee

So there it is, my second visit in a nutshell. I think Kyoto Joe is often overlooked outside of work hours and I think it needs to come out of its shadow more and showcase its dishes, because the food is really very good. The service is excellent, prices reasonable, the manager very knowledgeable and personable and that Angel Salmon Tartar..mmm, I’ll fight you for them.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5 (It keeps its 4 chopsticks!)

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

Kyoto Joe, 2/F-3/F, 1 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, HK. Tel: 2804 6800

This lunch was by invitation. Interior photo courtesy of Lan Kwai Fong Entertainments.


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The Allure of Azure

When I first moved to Hong Kong, Azure was my go to place for drinks. I enjoyed the views and the outdoor balcony, especially as the floor-to-ceiling windows gave party-goers a fabulous panorama of our city’s skyline. One memorable night in 2009, Rihanna’s Umbrella was blaring at full volume whilst torrential rain poured and rivulets of water cascaded down the windows. It was quite the hypnotizing sight. Therefore, it was a slight surprise to learn that Azure actually serves food and a rather sophisticated menu at that. So it was into a rather different atmosphere that I strolled up Azure’s staircase from the contemporary laid-back lounge and bar to the restaurant.

Azure Restaurant Slash Bar

Azure Restaurant Slash Bar- photo from http://www.womguide.com

Settling into our seats with the soft glow of the lights and the blue hues surrounding us, we were handed the set menu, which at $468 per person, (and sweetly named ‘Cosy Autumn’) is quite reasonable for three courses including a coffee or tea, plus petit fours.

We had a choice of starters: either the Beetroot cured Salmon with baby squid and black ink sago crisp, or the Beef Consummé made with slow cooked oxtail. As there were two of us, we ordered one of each so we could try. But before the meal had officially begun, we had made ourselves half full with the complimentary bread and their frankly addictive basil and tomato flavoured butter. Presentation is not the be all and end all of a dish as the taste is the proof of the pudding, but the Beetroot cured Salmon had a rather flat presentation and did not really do much to whet the appetite. The salmon had slight hints of beetroot but the sago crisp failed to hit the spot. The Beef Consummé was more successful, with pieces of flavoursome oxtail to be found in the clear broth.

Beetroot cured Salmon with baby squid and black ink sago crisp,

Beetroot cured Salmon with baby squid and black ink sago crisp,

Beef Consummé

Beef Consummé

For mains we were treated to Roasted Chicken Breast with onion puree, crispy wonton skins and Chanterelle mushrooms. This was beautifully prepared and the puree was delicious. I liked the addition of the wonton skins as they added a lovely textural contrast.

Roasted Chicken Breast

Roasted Chicken Breast

We still had a little room left for a savoury dish, and opted for the pan-fried Foie Gras with homemade brioche with a truffle and sherry soaked raisin veloute from the a la carte. Given its price ($298), I was expecting a rather more generous portion. However, despite its diminutive size, it was well executed and the foie gras was seared to perfection.

Pan fried foie gras

Pan fried foie gras

The dessert from the set menu was a Bitter Chocolate with mandarin cream, baked white chocolate and mandarin sorbet. The dark chocolate was quite powerful and I could not eat it on its own, but this was balanced out against the citrus tang of the sorbet.

Bitter Chocolate with mandarin cream

Bitter Chocolate with mandarin cream

The trio of petit fours was a sweet end to the meal, and we enjoyed the macaroons and the mini profiteroles.

Petit fours

Petit fours

As the dinner drew to a close, the dining room was slowly being transformed into the after-hours club venue that I once frequented, and unfortunately this transformation did impact the service towards the end. That being said, Azure is a good spot to have an elegant, quiet dinner and then late night drinks if you choose to stay on.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

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

Azure, 29 & 30/F, Hotel LKF by Rhombus, 33 Wyndham Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: +852 3518 9330

You can also read this review on Sassy.


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In case you were missing Spanish food already…

People in HK must be having some serious tapas withdrawal symptoms because the Spanish invasion just won’t stop. If BCN, 22 Ships and Vi Cool weren’t enough, Boqueria is now up and running in Lan Kwai Fong.

LKF Tower already draws quite the crowd due to Lily & Bloom and Gold by Harlan Goldstein, as well as favourite drinking holes Azure and Tazmanian Ballroom, so Boqueria is in a good location to offer Spanish nibbles before a night out.

I’ve not been to the original Boqueria in New York, so can’t comment on whether its standard is equal to that of the flagship, but I have travelled to Spain enough times and eaten enough Spanish food to know what I enjoy and to rack up probably 10 years’ worth of food- induced siestas. When I received a kind invitation to sample what Boqueria has to offer, I was interested, as the chef, David Izquierdo, hails from Valencia and promises to bring the traditional taste of Spain to our tables in HK.

Before you enter Boqueria, the entrance opposite the lifts has a pantry-style display which gave me the urge to raid it for its bottled pimiento and olives. Whether this set up is designed to catch the eye or whet the appetite, I don’t know, but it certainly worked! The interior is set up rather nicely with Moorish tiles, an open kitchen and a compact tapas bar with bar stool seating near the front of the restaurant, opening up into a larger dining space. I like that there are hanging legs of jamón for all to see, but this display became rather a tease as the hunger pangs grew.

I was running late and by the time I joined the fellow foodies, starters were being demolished, the first being a platter of slightly too thickly sliced Iberico ham, (aged for 36 months) and nutty Rosemary Manchego. 

As with most new restaurants within a month of opening, there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way and Boqueria was no exception. For me, the best dishes of the night were the Bombas de la Barceloneta, which I was quite obsessed with, the Carne a la Plancha and the Albondigas.

The Bombas de la Barceloneta (beef and potato croquettes with salsa brava and garlic allioli) were so deliciously moreish that I was pretty sad when I could only have one. I don’t know how this came to be as I thought I was mumbling under my breath, but after talking to the others about how lovely it would be to have another plate, all of a sudden, a fresh plate of croquettes appeared in front of me. It was a miracle! Many thanks to the mysterious waiter or perhaps it was the manager that overheard, but I was pleased as pie I got to stuff my face with another one. The beauty of these bombas was the golden crispy coat that wasn’t overly greasy and the creamy mincemeat and potato filling that made this more than just a mere potato croquette. The allioli was excellent and the dish was quite close to the ones I had in Madrid.

The Carne a la Plancha, or Hanger steak, was surprisingly well prepared; tender and flavoursome, the slices were decently charred around the edges and made tastier by dunking them generously in the mojo verde.

I was also quite taken by the Albondigas or lamb meatballs which were gratifyingly meaty and happily buried under a tangy tomato sauce. The small dollop of sheep’s milk cheese did not necessarily add to the taste but it made for good decoration.

Other dishes of the night were the Pintxos Morunos- seared Australian lamb skewers which were grilled competently but let down by the overwhelming amount of salsa verde and the Salteado de Setas- sauteed wild mushrooms and manchego cheese, which were nice but didn’t really wow my palate. In addition, they served Spanish tortilla, which I’m very fussy about, having had some incredible tortillas on my travels around Spain. I do rate Spanish restaurants on their tortilla, as despite its relative simplicity, isn’t the easiest to perfect. Boqueria’s was a bit of a disappointment as it was too dense and I felt it would also have been better served warm rather cold.

No Spanish restaurant is complete without a paella dish on their menu, and Boqueria has their own Paella de Mariscos with Bomba rice and half the ocean’s creatures in it- monkfish, squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, as well as saffron and salsa verde. The squid and shrimp were perfectly charred, scrumptious and plump and the rice was a good consistency and texture with the all important burnt bits at the bottom, but I couldn’t really detect any saffron. Consistency was a little off and we felt that our half of the table had the better paella versus the other half, whose paella was on the wetter side and tasted less well seasoned. It is of course the case that in Spain there are variations on the preparation of the classic paella; some are served drier and lighter in some regions, so it boils down to personal preference but with whichever preparation, Boqueria would need to be more consistent with this main dish. 

Two desserts brought our evening to a close with the first being the Pina Inopia: slices of pineapple with lime and molasses. Pineapple is a great way of refreshing the taste-buds and the molasses added a sticky sweet contrast to the sharpness of the lime.

Then there were the fat, short churros; gorgeous stumps of fried dough coated with cinnamon sugar and served with a melted thick, hot chocolate. I really enjoyed Boqueria’s version of the churros and overall it was a finger-licking, tasty end to the meal. 

Boqueria has some solid dishes on offer and I think in time, the inconsistencies will iron themselves out. It’s a fun spot and the atmosphere, coupled with their sangria and beer, will certainly help get one in the mood for a night on the town.

Chopstixfix rating: 3/5

$$$$$-$$$$$$$$$$ (Including drinks)

Boqueria, 7/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2321 8681 www.boqueria.com.hk


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Kyoto’s not your ordinary Joe

I think the situation has calmed down a fair bit since I wrote this for Sassy 🙂 If you love Kobe beef, this is something to check out.

In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in March, there has been a lot of concern and panic in Hong Kong and other neighbouring countries over eating Japanese food, especially sashimi and other specialty produce that is normally imported from Japan.

Instead of shying away and avoiding Japanese meals at all cost (which I know is the case for many), I feel it is important that we show our support and continue to visit Japanese establishments. Many restaurants now obtain their produce from other countries, so we can all safely enjoy this wonderful cuisine.

I had the chance to hop over to the newly relocated Kyoto Joe in Lan Kwai Fong recently, and it is one such eatery that has taken the pains to select its supplies from other countries. Their salmon is from Norway, their tuna from Indonesia and their beef from Australia.

Relocating to 1 Lan Kwai Fong in January this year, Kyoto Joe has reinvented itself as a more sophisticated and finer dining establishment to its sister restaurant, Tokio Joe, round the corner on 16 Lan Kwai Fong.

Sprawling over two floors, with a connecting internal staircase, its design is minimalistic and zen. There are five zones, each with its own distinct features, and all creating an intimate atmosphere, such that you feel that you are in one of five smaller restaurants, rather than in one. The staff are friendly and attentive, my tea refilled regularly and with great care, (I tried once on my own without waiting and managed to spill it everywhere! I blame my ineptness on the design of the teapot).Their menu is new and improved with an injection of a fair number of new dishes. One notable change is the appearance of a set of Australian kobe beef dishes. I was told that Kyoto Joe’s speciality has shifted to more cooked food, in particular beef, and very soon I was sampling three different and amazingly melt-in-your-mouth kobe creations.

I sat in a booth by the sushi bar and had a good view of Lan Kwai Fong below. Before launching straight into the meat, I was served the delicious Kyoto salad to start, with fresh scallops, tuna and salmon on mixed salad with a drizzle of their house sesame dressing. I loved how the salad was topped with crunchy crisp pieces of deep fried wonton skin to create a punchy contrasting texture to the smoothness of the seafood.

Next, I had the Gyu sashimi, impressively presented on a block of ice. This is Prime beef deltoid sashimi with red wine balsamic vinegar sauce. The beautiful marbled meat was impossibly smooth and melted in my mouth. It did have a very rich flavor but the vinegar sauce paired with it, helped to dampen the fattiness slightly.The Gyu maki was wonderful- more of the marbled beef rolled with asparagus and golden mushrooms accompanied by a lovely seaweed sauce. This is a clever creation as it is cold on outside as you take the first bite, which then diffuses to the warm centre and the crunchiness from the vegetables- extremely satisfying to munch on.

As a palate cleanser, I had the Dobin mushi superior seafood broth quaintly served from a teapot into the world’s smallest teacup. I was probably meant to sip delicately from my teacup, but as I adore soup and my teacup was miniscule, I ended up having what felt like a few hundred servings!

Up next, was the Rock Shrimp Gyoza- dumplings filled with rock shrimp, porkloin and chives and then pan-fried and served with spicy balsamic vinegar. I liked the vinegar immensely, the tinge of spice complimenting the fairly heavily filled dumplings which were nicely pan fried and succulent on inside.

My last dish was the Karubi roasted prime beef spare rib with home-made teriyaki sauce. The presentation was fantastic, with the slices of the spare rib lying on top of hot stones to keep them sizzling hot, which in turn were lying on a bed of mashed potato. After heaving the stones to the side, (they are pretty heavy!), I was able to nosh on the gorgeous tender beef and the buttery mash. Definitely my favourite dish of the night.To end my evening of meat, I had the trio of crème brulee-  three small pots of green tea, coffee and sesame flavoured versions of this popular pudding. I loved the green tea which was moreish and gently infused with green tea. The sesame was heavier and more like a mousse with a very strong sesame flavour, in stark contrast to the green tea.

I hope that my review will encourage those of you who have been fearful of going back to Japanese restaurants, to think again and help in supporting them, and in so doing, carry on supporting the Japanese while they and their culture recover.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Kyoto Joe, 2/F-3/F, 1 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, HK. Tel: 2804 6800

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


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Zawazawa shows some Zest

Ahhh I’m back, it’s been a long couple of months since I last blogged anything or updated the blog, and I know I’m terribly behind, so please bear with me while I update the blog over the next week or so with my reviews for Sassy! If you have been reading the same stuff over and over, massive apologies, and if you’ve been visiting the blog hoping to see something new, again, apologies (SORRY!) and many thanks for the support  🙂 If you’ve not read this review I did on Robata Zawazawa, I hope you enjoy. You can also read it here.

At the time of writing, Japan was dealing with the aftermath of the tsunami with immense courage, so it was fitting that I was reviewing a new Japanese Robatayaki Grill in Lan Kwai Fong, whose chef and staff showed me such wonderful hospitality and demonstrated that same indomitable spirit, which was and is helping them through this time.

Robata grills are relatively new on the Hong Kong scene, but joining Zuma and Roka is Robata Zawazawa, a funky, compact, 10-seat bar and restaurant. Opening just last month and currently offering dinner only, this Edo style establishment has successfully recreated the intimacy of many Japanese eateries which can seat barely a dozen people at a time. With an almost hidden entrance (I nearly walked straight past it and thought I had gone into someone’s house when I first went in), the venue overlooks Lan Kwai Fong and has a little terrace on which customers can sip cocktails.

I was told that the decor was created by Shigeru Sato, a well respected interior designer who was responsible for the design of the Tokyo restaurant, Gonpachi Nishi Azabu, that motivated Quentin Tarantino to reproduce it on the Kill Bill set. Very cool stuff. Beautiful red Washi paper lamps adorn the entrance, and the open-fire Robata grill surrounded by a natural wood bar-top acts as centre-piece, as diners are enclosed by walls by grey stone and paneling.Chef Daisuke Nakano, hailing from the Fukuoka region, whips up a storm in the kitchen and at the grill, producing some truly delightful traditional Japanese fare.

To start, I had the delightful Hasu-imo green salad with Tosa vinegar dressing. Hasu imo is a seasonal (March to June) vegetable similar to cucumber that is native to Japan. It was so refreshing and light, and cleansed the palate before the rest of the dishes.I’ve rarely come across swordfish skewers, so when I spied this on the menu, I knew I had to try. The best swordfish I ever had was in Seville, Spain, in this grubby, middle-of-nowhere café 15 years ago, so I was keen to have this distant memory of a dish long ago digested, replaced by a more recent taste. The swordfish was marinated with sansyo spice, sake and soya-sauce and was sublime. Juicy, tender and rich, the flavours harmonized together wonderfully and the buttery creaminess of the swordfish was not suppressed.Another dish I was excited about was the Seared Foie Gras and Dashi fish stock with stewed Daikon Radish. The foie gras was excellent, delicate yet full-bodied, the radish and fish stock balancing out the heaviness of the liver.I was also treated to beef tongue- grilled to perfection and amazingly succulent and tender and Syu-Ichi beef (a “Royal breed” of beef) skewers, which had a more subtle, refined taste than normal Wagyu and were delicious.

A signature dish at Zawazawa is the Buta-ume Shiso pork, plum paste and shiso basil skewers. The taste can only be described as an aromatherapy in my mouth, the basil and plum paste were so fragrant; an unusual yet fantastic medley of ingredients.Chef Nakano’s signature udon noodles (limited availability daily) are handmade and flown in from Fukuoka. I had the Tanuki Udon Hot soup which was sublime. I could have bowls of this udon soup- the noodles were thick and just al dente with a wonderful chewy texture and the soup base was  bursting with flavour.During my feast, the director Kenji Sato, who also happens to be a dab hand at cocktails, was getting me merrily sloshed on 3 of their signature cocktails. I had the Japa-Jan, made from sake and yuzu- tart but sweet, the Haku- bai cocktail, made from their home-made plum paste, which was delectable and had a very natural plum flavour and the Shiso basil mojito, made from sake instead of rum. I couldn’t decide which one I loved more, it’s a close call between the Haku-bai and the Japa-Jan, but will definitely be going back for more!To end off a really fun afternoon of chatting to Kenji, scoffing my face and watching Chef Nakano lovingly prepare each dish, I had the Houji-cha pudding with Kuro mitsu honey and PON rice pop. Houji cha is a roasted green tea, and the pudding is made by infusing the tea with milk and waiting for it to set. The pudding is gorgeous and if you have a really sweet tooth, you may choose to add the honey, but not too much or you’ll get cavities! The rice pops were a delightful accompaniment, and I happily poured the rice pops into my pudding bowl and scraped off every last bit.If you want a relaxed evening with a friend and want to watch the world go by on the streets of LKF below, then Robata Zawazawa is the perfect place.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Robata Zawazawa, LG/F, 41 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 2536 9898 www.zawazawa.com.hk

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


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Meat Meat Meat…

I’ve always been quite an observant person but to have let Westwood Carvery pass me by for the last 7 months is slightly ridiculous, seeing as I do saunter through LKF and past Wo On Lane on a regular basis. I finally found out about it through Facebook (ah the wonders of social networking), when a friend of mine started posting photos of his extra large prime rib sandwich from there and complaining about meat sweats.It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a carnivore, so I was determined to get myself down to this place as quickly as possible and show off my eating prowess (I like to challenge myself). My friend and I went for lunch and the first thing we noted was the cool and chic interior. It’s small but they have made good use of the space with their minimalistic decoration- grey slate tables and a clever looking wooden wine-rack wall acting as a centre piece. The menu is limited, but their set lunch starting from $98 to $148, comprises of a soup of the day to start, followed by a choice of either their signature prime rib sandwich with fries, pasta or fish. Coffee and tea is served at the end and for an extra $20, you can have a dessert- good value!

On the a la carte, they have salads, pastas, their prime rib sandwiches, pork ribs and a few side dishes on offer. But it is their roasted prime rib sandwich that is the star of the Westwood Carvery and the whole point of their name.

It comes in two sizes: regular ($78) or Westwood size ($98). For comparison’s sake, this would be akin to a regular sized box of Kleenex tissues versus Kleenex tissue for men! The sandwiches are served au jus with fries, a ramekin of horseradish sauce and an apple on the side to trick you into thinking you’re being healthy. The regular size is for sensible people, the Westwood for the greedy, gluttonous, brave and bold types like myself, who enjoy self-competition. I did check with the friendly manager first if I could manage, and she said she eats a lot and can cope, so I took that as a sign that I could too!

My friend was being dainty and lady-like so opted for the regular with an extra helping of fried onions while I rubbed my hands in anticipation for my Westwood sandwich.

It did not disappoint. My sandwich was huge and I was a happy bunny. The men at the table next to me looked on in disgust as I merrily dunked my sandwich in the jus, smothered each mouthful with horseradish sauce and tomato ketchup and crammed it into my mouth. Tender slices of beef on soft yet crusty bread drenched in gravy- what’s not to love? In 20 minutes, it was all gone, including the apple. A clean plate and I still had room for a coffee. Piece of cake. Bliss for the foodie.

Chopstixfix rating: Can’t comment on the rest of the menu but the sandwich-  4/5

Westwood Carvery, G/F, 2 Wo On Lane, Lan Kwai Fong, Central. Tel: 2869 8111

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You can also see my review on Sassy Hong Kong