Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong


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Gluttonous Food Porn at Doppio Zero

Oh what a night. Late June, back in ’14, what a very special night for me, as I remember, what a night. Doo-do-do-do-do… Ok, I’m not a wannabe lyricist trying to create my own version of December 1963 by The Four Seasons (classic song, by the way), but for some reason this song did pop into my head as I looked over my photos from a night of pure gorging at Doppio Zero for a Seasonal Menu Tasting. When I was invited, I thought back fondly to the first meal I had there, and wondered if some of my favourites would make an appearance, and yes sirree they did. But, this wasn’t just any ol’ gathering, we had a raucous night with some new and familiar faces and wine pairing to boot. And 16 dishes to get through, (14 if you don’t count the vegetables). I wish I had worn my stretchy pants.

I’m not going to really go into too much detail on this post, because frankly, I’ll get tired writing something about each dish, and you will get tired reading about them. Just take my word for it, the food is good. The execution of a lot of the dishes was spot on and I more than enjoyed every morsel. My favourites: Roasted Bone Marrow, Truffled Fried Oyster, Beetroot Ravioli, Lamb Short Ribs and the spectacular USDA Prime Ribeye. Feast for your eyes and your tum!

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

Heirloom Tomato Salad- all I can say is: great anchovies.

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Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Roasted Bone Marrow- this is a must-eat dish at Doppio Zero. Am also addicted to their balsamic onion jam. Rich, wobbly, soft and full of greasy goodness.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Truffle Fried Oyster- no words. Loved this. Black truffle aioli atop a freshly and delicately fried oyster? Genius.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prosciutto Ball- ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino with Honeydew melon sauce. The sauce was an interesting touch. Nice, crispy outside. A tasty morsel.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn't wow as much as the other dishes.

Prime beef carpaccio- the combination of beef with sea urchin was quite good , but didn’t wow as much as the other dishes.

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn't really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn't think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Sunny Side Up Duck Egg with crispy watercress, Thai asparagus, Bottarga and horseradish vinaigrette. This was a dream to look at and the egg was fabulous but I couldn’t really detect the bottarga. The dish was delicious overall but I didn’t think they needed to make the watercress crispy!

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter. Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Beetroot Ravioli made with Gorgonzola, Italian butter and poppy seeds and Shrimp Ravioli made with chives, lemon zest and green peppercorn butter.
Loved both of these but I absolutely fell in love with the Beetroot ravioli the first time I had it. Hard to describe quite how delicate the flavours are, yet how beautifully rich and sweet the beetroot is. 5 stars for that dish.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I've had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Sea Urchin Chitarra- I’ve had this dish before but the Chitarra was surprisingly thick this time, a detail we all pointed out. Apparently they have just changed their chitarra pasta cutter, think they need to make some adjustments otherwise this was almost like an udon. Great dish for sea urchin and crab roe fans.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

Ricotta Gnocchi with red wine braised beef cheeks. The gnocchi was filled with salted duck egg which is always a winner, but as with most gnocchis, this was quite a heavy dish with the rich beef.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too 'lamby' but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

New Zealand Lamb Short RIbs with grilled corn. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and this was cooked to perfection. Some found it a bit too ‘lamby’ but lamb lovers will think this is ace. The corn was mouthwateringly sweet.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Prime USDA Ribeye with Bone Marrow and Anchovy and Garlic Butter. This was just a ridiculous plate of ridiculous deliciousness. Too much umami for my brain to compute.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Olive Oil Gelato Float with salted caramel cookie bar and Lambrusco Sparkling Red wine sauce. This was a little overwhelming for my taste-buds, probably because I poured too much Lambrusco onto my gelato, but I found the sauce a bit strong. The cookie bar was scrumptious though.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato with Milk Tea gelato, Espresso shot and Peanut Butter cookie. Another DIY dessert here. This was a wonderful sweet ending to the meal. I would like a whole packet of those peanut butter cookies please.

Yin Yang Affogato

DIY dessert time!

So there it is, my entire meal in pictures, vegetable dishes excluded unfortunately (I can say that the Baked Brussel Sprouts and the Roasted Oyster Mushrooms were very good too, but when you are faced with Prime Ribeye, your attentions are more or less diverted).

If you haven’t yet been to Doppio Zero, I do recommend a visit one day soon. Atmosphere is suitable for low-key dates or bigger groups, and whilst it isn’t the cheapest meal (around $400-500 per person depending on how gluttonous you are!), I think the quality of the ingredients makes this place worth visiting. Especially for that Beetroot ravioli and Prime Ribeye.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

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Doppio Zero, G/F The Pemberton, 22 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851 0682

This was by kind invitation. Many thanks to Coco Alexandra PR & Events and Doppio Zero. 

 

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Sensational Sushi Shikon

Some gastronomy experiences are so fantastic that it would be rather futile to try and put into words exactly what made them sublime. This is the case for my meal at Sushi Shin, where frankly, I don’t know enough adjectives that would fully capture and describe each morsel.

Formerly Sushi Yoshitake, Sushi Shikon has now been awarded three Michelin stars, just like the original Sushi Yoshitake in Tokyo. However, there is a sticking point to this sushi experience- the price. My eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets to see only two prices- $2,000 per person for the Lunch Menu and $3,500 for the Omakase Dinner Menu. No choices in what you order, you get what you are given, and at that price tag, you hope you get given something good. And it is more than good. A superb offering of 12 nigiri sushi pieces, followed by soup and dessert in the most intimate of settings. Sushi Shin has only 8 seats at their sushi counter and a 6 seat private room at its home in the unassuming Mercer Hotel in Sheung Wan, so the entire experience feels as though you could be in Japan, shut away from the outside world, with nothing but the rhythmic sound of fresh wasabi being grated on a sharkskin grater in front of you.

Sushi Shikon counter

Sushi Shikon counter

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I sat down and perused the Sushi Etiquette page I’d been given, and after two minutes of etiquette cramming, had a bit of a worry over how to take photos swiftly and look elegant whilst eating, when I read that the sushi should ideally be eaten within 30 seconds of being served and not in little bites if the portion is too large for one’s mouth, (you ask the chef if this is the case and he will cut them up for you). We were also told by Chef Yoshiharu Kakinuma that we should use our hands to eat the sushi as we would have a greater sensory experience and he could also serve the “Shari” sushi rice at a softer consistency. Some of us already knew not to mix the wasabi in with the soy sauce (I imagined us being death-stared by the staff if we did this), and I was interested to see they had mentioned that soft drinks are not served as they “overwhelm the delicate flavours of sushi and disturb the ambience”.

Lunch menu

Lunch menu

Fresh wasabi

Fresh wasabi

All that aside, once everyone had settled in at the sushi counter, Chef Kakinuma began to weave his magic. We started with the outstanding steamed abalone, which was nothing like abalone I had had before. Smooth and tender, and almost steak-like, the succulence of the abalone went so well with its accompanying velvety liver sauce that I felt I needed to chew extra slowly to prevent the inevitable end of this mouthful. I can only describe this as a complete umami taste. Chef Kakinuma then brought a smile to my face by giving us a blob of their signature red vinegar sushi rice to mop up the remaining sauce.

Preparing the steamed abalone

Preparing the steamed abalone

Abalone

Abalone liver sauce

Abalone liver sauce

Steamed abalone

Steamed abalone

The ‘tender octopus’ should have been renamed ‘exquisitely tender’. My brain grappled with something to compare the taste to, and came up with pork belly. Who knew that octopus massaged and braised in sea salt could be this incredible?

Tender octopus

Tender octopus

As each sushi piece arrived, we each of us became more excited. The Marinated Medium Tuna was wonderful, but trumped by the outstanding Fatty Tuna, which by just one glance, I knew was going to be sublimely melty. The Seasonal Sushi Roll of mackerel, ginger, shiso and  braised Japanese squash skin was delightful and I loved the burst of shiso and contrasting texture of the pickled ginger. Sea Urchin is one item I am not overly keen on usually, but this was so ridiculously fresh and chilled that it was almost like cool, fresh water with a delicate nutty flavour and no overpowering smell. By far the best I have ever had.Chef Kakinuma

Medium Tuna

Medium Tuna

Fatty Tuna

Fatty Tuna

Seasonal Sushi Roll

Seasonal Sushi Roll

Sea urchin

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

The salmon roe with Chef Kakinuma’s secret special sauce marinade and yuzu zest was a balance of subtle flavours and I thoroughly enjoyed the sensory experience of eating the Tiger Prawn with my fingers and being attuned to its bouncy texture. The Golden Eye snapper was beautiful and the Conger eel exuded its wonderful charcoal, smoky flavour, a testament to its stint on the bamboo leaf grill.

Conger Eel

Conger Eel

Tiger Prawn

Tiger Prawn

Salmon Roe

Salmon Roe

Golden Eye Snapper

Golden Eye Snapper

The meal ended sweetly with a sponge-cake textured Tokyo traditional Castella egg, soup and a light, fruity dessert.

Castella Egg

Castella Egg

Miso soup

Miso soup

Fruity Dessert

Fruity Dessert

This was absolutely the finest Japanese meal I have had in Hong Kong, but I’m not sure if I can bring myself to repeat the experience at such a price, even though it can be explained by daily deliveries of the freshest fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market. I’m sure you can think of better uses for $2,000, but maybe the lure of world-class sushi without getting on a plane to Japan is too attractive to pass up. In any case, if you decide to bite the bullet, you won’t leave Sushi Shikon feeling cheated.

Chopstixfix rating: 4.5/5

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Sushi Shikon, Ground Floor, The Mercer Hotel, 29 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. http://www.sushi-shikon.com Tel: 2643 6800

This was by kind invite. The review can also be seen on Sassy Hong Kong.


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In It To Wynn It- a day in Macau Part 2- Mizumi

After a short tour of the Wynn’s gorgeous suites and spa, a quick drink at Cinnebar, a peek at the Tree of Prosperity and Dragon of Fortune ‘show’ in the atrium and finally watching the Performance Lake, it was time for dinner at the Japanese restaurant Mizumi.

The fact that Mizumi is right in the middle of one of the gambling halls, (incidentally, it took me ages to find because all the gambling areas and machines look the same and it’s a bit of a maze in there!), didn’t exactly fill me with a lot of enthusiasm as I was expecting it to be some kind of pit-stop for the weary gambler. I am however, pleased to report that this establishment is nothing of the sort and comes with a masterful chef with a wealth of experience. Chef Hiroshi Kagata hails from Yonago and enchants diners with creative presentations of classical Japanese dishes.

There are seasonal appetisers every month and my appetiser for the evening was a fascinating arrangement of small dishes in these beautiful bowls. I sampled simmered sweet fish with roe, boiled edible chrysanthemum flower, deep fried minced prawn topped with roasted ginkgo nuts which was fabulous, duck with matsutake mushroom, also excellent, and ark shell with mustard vinegar miso. It’s clear that Chef Hiroshi is a man who prides himself on blending cuisine with art and his careful execution of dishes is a testament to his Kaiseki cooking skills.

The Sashimi course was a sight to behold with the uni sashimi lovingly placed on top of its shell in a martini glass and the toro and geoduck nestled in a daikon flower. I appreciated the little detail of the sprigs of shiso flowers and shiso leaf in the arrangement which made this dish so visually appealing. I confess I’m not a huge fan of uni sashimi as I struggle slightly with the texture and the intense ocean tang but this was amazingly fresh and rich. The toro was wonderfully fresh and marbly too (I’m told Mizumi’s finest ingredients are flown in from Japan twice a week).

The sushi dish with tuna roll, red snapper, shrimp and abalone was accomplished and I particularly enjoyed the red snapper.

The grilled lobster with sea urchin was the standout dish of the night, and not just because of the vivid blue dish it came in. The deliciously meaty lobster piece  was grilled to perfection and was topped with a good amount of sea urchin to intensify the lobster’s flavour. Towards the end of mouthfuls of lobster, it took on the creaminess of salty egg yolk- delectable.

The wagyu beef shabu-shabu was such a fun course. I love hot pots, no matter the size, and I gain an immense amount of satisfaction from doing a bit of DIY cooking at the table. Taking care to cook it only slightly, the  gorgeous marbled wagyu beef positively melted in my mouth.

I loved the dessert. The tofu cheescake was just divine. The calmness of the tofu was very nicely offset by the sweetness of the peeled Kyoho grape. I left the pieces of melon till last to end on a refreshing note.

Mizumi’s service was, like Wing Lei, very smooth and I was drawn to the design of the interior- a nice combination of contemporary with traditional styles with interwoven bamboo slats and clean lines. If you enjoy watching the chefs at work, there is a well-situated sushi bar in the centre of the restaurant, as well as three teppanyaki sections and a robatayaki station. Mizumi is not lacking in features!

I thoroughly enjoyed my day trip to the Wynn and I was definitely impressed by the quality of the food at Wing Lei and Mizumi. These restaurants would hold their own in Hong Kong, so if you ever pop over to Macau, do make time to visit these restaurants as they are both fantastic value for money for such high standards.

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Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Mizumi, G/F, Wynn Macau, Rua Cidade de Sintra, NAPE, Macau. Tel: +853 8986 3668

Many thanks to Wynn Macau and Weber Shandwick for the generous invite and for organising the day.