Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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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.

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A rollicking bowl of Ramen

Food grazing in Quarry Bay is fairly unexplored or rather does not register at all on the radar of my circle of friends. So, when I happened upon this place I was quite excited.

It would seem that Hakodate Japanese Restaurant is well known amongst the locals as the place to go to for authentic Japanese Ramen. Apparently the chef who set Hakodate up was serving us when my friend and I went, so he must have passed his ramen knowledge onto his apprentices 😛

The restaurant is small with eight, 4-seater tables crammed into a bright, clean, and airy area. It is usually rammed with people at peak times, but when I went it was quiet, the atmosphere relaxed, and I could tell that the food was lovingly prepared that night!

Their menu is simple and they specialise in sets. I ordered the ramen in miso soup with the deep fried chicken on the side (5 pieces) and my friend ordered the pork katsu curry set.

They pride themselves on serving soup bases with no MSG, which is fantastic. My soup was delicious, the ramen al-dente (as they are classically meant to be) and my deep fried chicken pieces were crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.

I pinched a bit of the katsu curry and although ramen is their signature dish, I thought the curry was good too, the chicken was tender and the sauce was full of flavour. It didn’t taste artificial, unlike in some places where I’ve been bitterly disappointed by the sauce that was clearly made from a packet of instant katsu sauce that you can find in the supermarket.

Portions are hearty and at around $85 a set, makes lunch or dinner pretty gratifying.

Chopstixfix rating: 3.5/5

Hakodate, 11B Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong. Tel: 2562 8706

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