Musings of a bon vivant in Hong Kong

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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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Part 2: Relishing the Robatayaki

The best part of my interview with Chef Patrick was, of course, the eating! Here’s what we had:

To start, we had the sashimi served on ice.

“The freshness comes out and is much cleaner when served on ice. You get the wow factor and it’s visually more attractive.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating sashimi and sushi incorrectly…. I just dump all my wasabi into the soya-sauce and dunk the sashimi in!

You should put the amount of wasabi you want, on top of the sashimi or sushi and then put it in the soya-sauce. You mix the flavours in your mouth rather than in the soya-sauce”.

Hmmmm…whoops. What’s this?

“This is the butterfish. It is very difficult for us to attain, but it’s beautiful. Here, the butterfish has a citrus dressing- yuzu (Japanese lemon) with ginger and garlic, served with white asparagus on top of a pesto type dressing (shiso leaf paste mixed with rapeseed oil). The acidic taste brings out the delicate texture of the fish.”

Do you have a favourite fish?

“ I don’t have a favourite fish. And even if I do, I will convince mnyself that I don’t have one. I like to be fair and open-minded and to keep things neutral. If you believe one fish is better than the other, then you will never want to try the other fish, even if it is prepared in a different way!”

After that divine first ‘course’, next up were the Foie gras in plum wine and King Crab Tempura. Both were exquisite!

“The foie gras is marinated in plum wine and poached in its own liquor. Then it is served with seaweed and a squid ink bread. The Red king crab is harder to find than normal crab but has a sweeter texture. Here we serve the tempura with tensu sauce and green tea salt which is the traditional way of serving tempura.”At this point, Chef Patrick orders the house sake and explained how they are working on developing the Shoju they make in-house and how they want to create a bigger and more fun variety of shoju for the customers. At the moment, he says, shoju is not as popular as sake, but he is working on that!

Third course; and he’s ordered the Roka signature Black cod and prawn dumplings and the grilled Hokkaido scallops. There are 3 types of dumplings on the menu, pork and scallop, beef and kimchi and black cod and prawn. The black cod and prawn is more popular in Hong Kong and is therefore not available at their London branches.Last up, before dessert, we had the spicy lamb chops marinated in coriander pepper and served with a cucumber and red onion cleanser. The lamb is from Australia and therefore “milder” to cater for those who aren’t big fans of lamb. Amazingly tender meat, and just the right amount of ‘zing’ for the palate.The classic miso eggplant was delicious but what was utterly incredible was the Black cod in sweet miso sauce. Chef Patrick told me it takes 3 days to prepare this dish, which involves soaking the cod in salt water for 12 hours, drying it out then marinating it for 24 hours. All that work clearly pays off!To end, a sumptuous dessert platter on shaved ice was produced in which was nestled sesame and green tea sorbets and two desserts- the valrhona chocolate cake and the jasmine sundae with yuzu-granite. The jasmine sundae was my favourite, gorgeously refreshing. The whipped jelly cream with layers of orange jelly, strawberry and orange coulis topped with yuzu shaved ice and jasmine icecream (made from jasmine flowers) was a perfect balance of fruitiness, acidic bite and crunchiness.

As you can imagine, I was completely and utterly stuffed after that sumptuous feast, and so very grateful for the opportunity to dine and learn, not just about Roka itself but also about Japanese cuisine, from such a passionate and innovative chef.

Chopstixfix rating: 4/5

Roka, Pacific Place, Level LG1, Shop 002, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong. Tel: 3960 5988,