Posts tagged: restaurant

HK2: The French Window in Hong Kong is Absolutely Sublime!

By , April 15, 2011 3:50 pm

The long entry corridors feature high ceilings, soft lighting and weathered blue-gray wooden slats
Let me continue with my Hong Kong posts, which got derailed a bit (my apologies). I might as well jump straight to the best meal of the trip. Dinner at The French Window! We remember it fondly til today. Even hubby with his jaded palate was totally blown away. This might be our best meal of 2011 too, even though it’s still early in the year.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) hooked me up with The Miramar Group which has extensive F&B operations in Hong Kong. Little did I know we would be swept off our feet with this new gem on the haute cuisine scene. It’s been around slightly less than a year, but press reviews have been glowing.

Firstly, there’s the award-winning decor (The French Window beat 361 contenders to win New York’s Hospitality Design Magazine’s “2010 Hospitality Design Awards – Fine Dining Category”). The entrance is deceptively simple. You enter a large, long and winding corridor clad with weatherbeaten blue-gray boards and shuttered louvres reminiscent of a rustic French chateau. The way is studded with beautifully curated plant displays. The wine fridges you pass offer you a glimpse of the collection they house.

The restaurant is located at the ifc mega-mall, but these walkways will transport you to another world. You will soon forget you are even in a bustling shopping complex.

The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs
The main dining area is an elegant setting of glass, metal and art deco motifs. There are black and white chairs, as well as plush sofa seating along the wall. The whole place is quietly imposing and yet warmly welcoming at the same time. At night, it is breath-takingly romantic (but that also means very challenging lighting for photography!).

The staff here are very well-trained, and not only see to your needs swiftly but also sometimes anticipate them before you even ask for it.

Chef Stéphane Haissant joined The French Window as their Master Chef in the beginning of 2011. Haissant has had stints at La Tour d’Argent and worked under Michel Guérard at Les Prés d’Eugénie and with Alain Senderens at Lucas Carton. Here, his brand of nouvelle cuisine celebrates natural flavours in bold and playful ways.

The magnificent glass jar of artisan breads!
We chose the six course degustation menu (about HK$800). The welcome bread basket is this luxurious glass jar of artisan breads – some of the best I’ve had in a long time. And they happily replenished this too!

Amuse bouche of Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar, Carrot and ginger soup, Foie gras toast

Amuse bouche – not one, but three items!

Curried salmon sphere and harenga caviar (foreground, and right): I really loved this. It’s like a quail’s egg made of salmon, with just a hint of curry. The caviar brought it all together.

Carrot and ginger soup (middle): very light and just gently savoury.

Foie gras toast (back): oh what a decadent morsel that made us want more. And yes, there would be more foie gras coming up!

Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux - Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote
Ballotine de foie gras de landes, compoteé de champignons aigre doux
Foie gras ballotine, sweet and sour mushroom compote

The foie gras here is positively divine! Hubby who normally hates foie gras actually enjoyed this and polished every bit. Trust me, that is some serious endorsement, folks! The veil of gel (maybe it’s collagen jelly) almost makes it look like a bride. The sour mushroom compote helped to balance flavours and cleanse the palate.

Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé - Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke
Saint-jacques pochées en escabèche, topinambour fumé
Poached scallops, smoked jerusalem artichoke

This was one large scallop, and it was still firm and cooked just right. The smoked artichoke was very gentle, flavourwise, and so did not overpower the scallop.

Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette - Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto
Filet de rouget saisi, risotto à la courgette
Seared red mullet, zucchini risotto

This was our unanimous favourite. The fish was grilled to perfection. It was so delicious. But the real eye-opening surprise lay in the zucchini risotto. As I played with it in my mouth, I wondered if there was actually any rice in it. It felt like there were rice-sized grains, but each of these had a turgid crunch and sweetness that rice could never yield. True enough, the maitre’d told us they used purely zucchini to simulate rice. It’s all cut into rice-like grains, and cooked in a gorgeous savoury puree. Phenomenal!

Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l'américaine, champignons boutons en sangria - Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria
Pigeon contisé au foie gras grillé à l’américaine, champignons boutons en sangria
Grilled pigeon stuffed with foie gras, buttom mushroom sangria

The chef is quite famous for his grilled pigeon. He combines traditional and new methods to bring about a fresh take on this French dish. The tender, smoky pigeon absorbs the fatty rich flavours of foie gras, and the meaty aroma of mushrooms. And he does not stint on portions. This was very filling!

Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym - Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly
Crème légère à la vanille, coulis de fraise et gelée au thym
Light vanilla cream, strawberry coulis and thyme jelly

Now, thyme jelly. If you were as unsure as I was about a herb-flavoured jelly in a dessert, you’ll be as pleasantly thrilled and amazed at how well it works! In fact, it was the element that heightened the otherwise standard combination of vanilla and strawberry to a different class. Thyme jelly! Who would have thought!

Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé - Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel
Palet sablé au citron jaune, caramel au beurre salé
Yellow lemon sablé, sea salt caramel

More dessert? A wet one and a dry one, why not. I love the crackling thin slices of candied lemon. Dip the sable biscuit onto the sea salt caramel piping on either side, and enjoy.

Fabulous coffee
The perfect way to round off such an amazing meal is with fabulous coffee that’s truly robust and aromatic. This felt great in the winter month.

Petits Fours
Coffee was served with petits fours, which included some stellar chocolate, but we were really struggling at this point in time. I never thought I could be so full at a French fine-dining restaurant.

Fantastic view of the harbour from ifc
The harbour view from ifc forms a spectacular backdrop to your meal (this view is taken from a balcony, as the floor-to-ceiling glass window was a bit too reflective for photography). The French Window also looks beautiful in the daytime in a different way (you can check out the website for photos).

We hit upon the idea of taking the ferry (instead of the MTR) back to Tsimshatsui where we were staying. It was a gorgeous way to end the evening.

We really enjoyed our three-hour meal here, and we can’t wait to come back. Our most heartfelt thanks to the Miramar Group (a great pleasure meeting Connie) for hosting us, and to Vivien of HKTB for making this happen.

THE FRENCH WINDOW
Podium level 3, IFC Mall
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2393 3812
Open daily
Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm;
Sun/public holidays 11.30am-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm.

Margaret Xu’s Private Kitchen Yin Yang in Wanchai

By , September 1, 2010 4:00 pm

Margaret looks pleased with her assistant du jour. Darren is plucking the stems off the chillies.
I have a new food hero. She’s Margaret Xu Yuan who is possibly Hong Kong’s foremost female celebrity chef, and a champion for delicious healthy eating.

Margaret used to run an ad agency before becoming a self-taught cook. Her excursions to the villages in New Territories inspired her to rejuvenate Hong Kong cuisine. She fell in love with the stone rice grinder, as well as wood and charcoal-based cooking. Then came Cuisine X, the one-table experiment there in 2003, using produce from her own organic farm in Yuen Long. Her roast chicken and stone-ground rice cakes became so popular, people soon needed to make reservations months ahead.

Her food is very much like Hong Kong condensed in a nutshell. She combines olden techniques she learned from the various Chinese dialect/cultural groups (Hakka, Chiu Chow, Cantonese, and boat people) with touches of British colonial influence, and presents it all with contemporary flair.

I admit I had not heard of her until getting the itinerary for our trip to Hong Kong by the SBA2010 and HKTB. But I soon found out her interesting story, and how sought after she is.

The scale model of the three-storey heritage building that Yin Yang occupies
She now has a private kitchen (at 18 Ship Street, tel: +852 2866 0868) called Yin Yang – named after the coffee-tea drink that is so symbolic of Hong Kong. It occupies a refurbished preservation shophouse in Wanchai, and is kept deliberately small. There are only three tables, and it’s all reservations-only (at least one day in advance).

(I couldn’t get a photo of the entire building from the narrow street outside, so here’s what it looks like, from a scale model replica)

The restaurant setting is cosy, old school and homely
Here you feel more like a privileged guest invited into someone’s home, rather than a customer. The ambiance is old school casual but very warm and nostalgic.

Love the '70s style frosted glass windows
I love the diffused light coming in from the tall frosted glass windows.

Little decorations on the narrow window sills
There are cute little decorations on the narrow window sills. Some baskets of limes here, a dim sum steamer basket of name cards, semi-precious stones and little plants.

An old school thermos flask
A vintage thermos flask stands at the side of the room, a symbol of homestyle hospitality.

Quirky table decorations like this egg basket
This is a cute quirky egg basket used as table decoration (and menu holder if not mistaken).

We were very fortunate that Margaret agreed to host us at short notice. Normally you’d have to make reservations months ahead. She specially opened her restaurant for lunch that weekday and prepared an eight-course meal for us.

Margaret's signature "Yellow Earth Roast Chicken" with ultra crispy skin
Margaret’s signature “Yellow Earth Roast Chicken” with ultra crispy skin. I had been waiting for this, and it was the opening number! It certainly lived up to its repute. Everyone wanted seconds/thirds/more…

Oh I found her recipe online. I really must try this at home someday, even if I don’t have a terracotta oven!

Margaret presiding over the shredding of the chicken
Margaret presiding over the shredding of the chicken. She believes doing it by hand is better than using a knife to carve the chicken. Yes, I do prefer rustic hand-torn pieces myself.

Flower clams in delicious broth with thick tanghoon
Flower clams in delicious broth with thick tanghoon. I wanted this all to myself! Gorgeous aroma and stunning flavours. The clams were very fresh indeed.

Who can resist this?
This would inspire the caveman in anyone! This is the Red Hot Baby Pig. Roast hunk of pork with bone-in!

The roast pork chopped up, served with lychee dip
The roast pork is chopped up, and served with an unusual lychee jam. Juicy, tender chunks of meat capped by crispy skin…it was all very rich! The best, however, was yet to come…

Mud crabs in a green-curry-like sauce
When this dish appeared, it drew gasps of delight and wonder. Fleshy mud crabs in a complex yet beautiful sauce with spices and coconut – a bit like green curry but much more refined. We were moaning “oh my god” as we ate. It was so, so good!

What a beautiful soup! Okra pentagonal slices add a touch of whimsy, almost!
Interestingly, the soup came in halfway through the courses. Seaweed eggdrop soup with okra or ladies fingers. I never thought about slicing okra this way. It looks like pretty little pentagonal flowers dotting the soup.

Olive rice in cast iron wok
There is always a carb dish in Chinese multi-course meals. To make sure you are really well-fed! The olive rice with vegetables was beautiful to look at. Like something cooked with love.

Platter of vegetables
Yes, your greens are important. But by the time this came along, I was too full to eat anymore.

Banana ice cream
But there is always room for dessert – in our case, a scoop of banana ice cream! You can taste that it’s made from real bananas, but not the overly sweet variety.

We were going for Tsingtao, but many changed over to the the Blue Girl instead, because it sounded more...risque
We washed it all down with some refreshing beer and soft drinks. Most of us were going for Tsingtao, but some changed over to the the Blue Girl instead when they saw it, because it sounded more…risque.

Eclectic kitchen with modern and retro, east and west all co-existing in harmonious warmth
Her eclectic ground floor show kitchen has many eclectic pieces – modern and retro, East and West – all co-existing in style. I love the SMEG fridge!

Many strange things abound in the kitchen
Many strange things abound in this kitchen. Margaret likes to make everything herself, so you will see foods (and wines) of all sorts in various stages of preparation.

The terracotta oven that Margaret built herself
This is the terracotta oven that Margaret built herself, from two flower pots (one upturned). Terracotta helps distribute high heat very evenly, so the chicken she roasts in this gets crispy skin but stays juicy within.

A bottle of Green Dream - dip made from green chili, ginger and scallions
After our meal, some of the bloggers were treated to a workshop on sauce-making. Margaret would demonstrate an absurdly delicious yet simple green chili dip. There are only five ingredients:
– a large mixing bowl of green chillies (stems plucked; see Darren doing that in the first photo)
– a hand-sized portion of ginger (sliced)
– two bunches of scallions or spring onions (chopped into 3-4 parts)
salt (to taste – quite a bit; maybe a level tablespoon, depending on your quantity)
oil for frying (I think she used more than a litre, but she made a big batch)

Sorry the quantities are all approximate, but the recipe is quite forgiving. I have since then made two batches (500g of chillies yield about 500ml) at home – and I can certify it’s idiot-proof!

Margaret stir-frying the ingredients in hot oil
The method is easy. Get the oil moderately hot and fry the ingredients.The chillies go in first, followed by the ginger and scallions at the very last few seconds.

Hot in the wok - the green chili, ginger and scallions
It doesn’t take too long. How beautifully green and glistening everything is. The aroma of chillies, ginger and scallions warmed our lungs. Needless to say, all these came from her organic farm up north. The Hong Kong chillies don’t carry as much heat (although Margaret says you can never tell when you’ll get a rogue pod that’s superhot).

Margaret blending the mixture
Margaret then gave it all a good whizz – oil included – in her industrial strength blender. It came out looking interestingly light green! She poured some out for us to have a taste.

We were lapping this all up!
Oh my, how could so few ingredients taste so good together? Just heat oil, fry and blend! Voila!

We were lapping this sample bowl all up! Could not stop spooning the creamy stuff into our mouths! This would be great as a dip for chicken or seafood. I even think it’s perfect with our chicken rice, or simply with bread or prata or nachos.

Fortunately, we each got a bottle to take home too! Hurray! We happily christened this the “Green Dream” – nice, right?

The Green Dream Team! Photo by Alvin
Photo by Alvin Lim
This was our last meal in Hong Kong, and one of our most memorable. I count myself very lucky to have had the chance to dine at Yin Yang, and to learn from Margaret (I really do hope she gets an English cookbook out soon, she has one in Cantonese).

I’m pleased to make this fabulous stop my final post of the Hong Kong series (sixteen posts in total). I hope you guys have enjoyed trotting around with me vicariously.

I’d really like to thank OMY and HKTB for making this four-day trip possible, and for showing us incredible experiences and gastronomical delights in Hong Kong. You can still view posts (more coming!) on the OMY joint travel blog – catch the different perspectives from the ten bloggers who went on the trip.

Hong Kong Old Restaurant – Flavours of Shanghai, Yangzhou and Sichuan

By , August 19, 2010 11:36 am

Hong Kong Old Restaurant has a vibrant, welcoming vibe
After the Dragonboat Carnival, we regrouped for dinner at Hong Kong Old Restaurant at Miramar Shopping Centre, just across our hotel. Another wonderful recommendation by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. I liked it the minute I stepped in. It had such a warm, convivial and cheery vibe. There’s gotta be some good food here to generate that kind of positive energy!

The “Old” in it refers to old money, according to our HK guide Rosanna. This very traditional restaurant was started by wealthy Shanghainese who migrated to Hong Kong. Not only would it provide them with hometown food, but also a place to discuss business.

I love the pickled vegetables
I always love these pickled vegetables – sweet, tangy and crunchy!

Our set menu for twelve
The HKTB arranged for us this dinner set menu for 12 pax. I can’t read half the things here but I’m excited!

Chicken with peanuts
A very savoury chicken dish with peanuts. Very appetising starter. Don’t worry, it’s not as spicy as it looks!

Cold Pig's Hock and Foot in Wine Sauce
Cold Pig’s Hock and Foot in Wine Sauce. I was a little hesitant to try this, even though I love pork trotters when braised. But wow, a tiny nibble led to more. This is delicious, especially the almost crunchy skin. The vinegar, soy and wine made an addictive combination.

Beancurd rolls stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms
Beancurd rolls stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms. Gorgeous savoury flavours with meaty mushrooms. So umami! I wonder if this is the vegetarian goose on the menu.

Smoked egg with walnut
Smoked egg with walnut. Those who love runny yolks will adore this.

Honeyed ham with crispy beancurd sheet wrapped in bread
Honeyed ham with crispy beancurd sheet wrapped in bread. Salty and sweet, chewy and crunchy. Strong pork flavour in the ham.

Stir-fried prawns in chili sauce
Stir-fried prawns in chili sauce. Yes, it’s a bit like chili crab sauce and equally enjoyable. Best part is – no need to peel anything! The prawns were large and fresh.

Giant fried scallion pancake
Giant fried scallion pancake! It was soft and fluffy inside but gently crisp on the outside. Our carb dish! These were really huge slices, but I finished it. Oh, perfect with the prawns’ chili sauce earlier too.

Nai bai (a type of chinese cabbage) with straw mushrooms in fish broth
Nai bai (a type of chinese cabbage) with straw mushrooms in fish broth. I only ate the mushrooms, but the broth is light and clean-tasting.

Fried yellow jack with sweet and sour sauce
Fried yellow jack with sweet and sour sauce. By the time this came, I was already quite full. The fish was fresh, but the batter proved a bit too floury for me. But it does absorb well the sweet and sour sauce.

Oodles of Deep-fried Ice Cream!
We had a short break thankfully, before dessert arrived. We were ready for this! Deep-fried ice cream like you’ve never seen it before!

So creamy on the inside! The exterior is made of flour and egg white, so I hear
Pillowy soft batter encasing a firm dollop of rich vanilla ice cream. The batter is made with egg white for the colour, it seems. We were all going ooh and ahh eating this.

It was a great dinner with Tsingtao making us all very happy
We all enjoyed ourselves immensely. The multiple rounds of Tsingtao beer also helped enliven our spirits. When the fruit platter came, we also found out that Aussie Pete is allergic to ….*drumroll*…. WATERMELON! He could not eat any of the fruit. That is so bizarre! Now I really believe you can be allergic to anything.

So ended our third day in Hong Kong (well, after some late-night shopping at Granville). The next day we would meet Margaret Xu Yuan, Hong Kong’s only female celebrity chef, at her private kitchen Yin Yang.

Thanks, HKTB, for the dinner and for introducing this place to us.

HONG KONG OLD RESTAURANT
1 Kimberley Rd
4/F Miramar Shopping Centre
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2722 1812
Open daily 11:00am to 3:00pm (lunch), 5:30pm to 11:00pm (dinner)

There is another branch on Hong Kong island at 218 Electric Road, North Point Newton Hotel, Basement
Tel: +852 2508 1081

The ‘Big Splash’ Conspiracy – Truths Unveiled

By , August 9, 2010 3:51 am

* Secret Cache of ‘undoctored photographs’ discovered
* Conspiracy goes ‘All The Way to the Top’

_____________________________________________________
BREAKING NEWS: On 8th August, 2010, a secret cache of previously unpublished photographs were found at Singapore’s Changi Airport in an unmarked briefcase. To date, no person or persons have come forward to claim ownership of what appears to be damning evidence of a conspiracy that goes all ‘the way to the top’.

For the first time, I am making these images available to the public.

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

Secret cache of previously unpublished photographs found

When ten bloggers travelled to Hong Kong and had the absolute ‘time of their lives’ (all thanks to OMY and the Hong Kong Tourism Board), four of the team were offered the chance of a lifetime when we were asked to pariticipate in the International Media Bathtub Race as a part of the fun-filled and action-packed Dragon Boat Carnival.

As has been reported by more than one blogger on this very website, it is no secret that around the halfway mark of this now world-famous event, one of the OMY teams (featuring myself, 2010 Singapore WTH Blog Award Winner, Aussie Pete and 2010 Singapore Modelling Blog Award Winner, Ang Geck Geck) completely stole the limelight by capsizing their bathtub in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour (the ‘Fragrant Harbour’).

What has not yet been brought to light are the actual circumstances surrounding this capsize. Many accusations have been made along with certain assertions of this event perhaps being staged, or that we tipped the tub over intentionally -let me state for the record that not only are these accusations untrue and completely unfounded, it is now my belief that such commentary has been published with the complete intention of diverting the truth and covering-up the real story behind the event – for the first time, the ‘Big Splash’ conspiracy is about to be uncovered… let me say, friends, that this goes all the way to the top, and for fear of repurcussions, I will not be mentioning any co-conspirators by name while further investigations continue – JFK’s ‘magic bullet’ has nothing on this!!

CONSPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.01 – THE DIVERSION
As has previously been published, accusations of ‘delusions of grandeur’ from myself, Aussie Pete. As thousands of fans lined the riverfront to cheer on our bathtub team, I could not help but be taken aback by the number of youngsters screaming my name and holding signs with my picture. This was a clear attempt (which worked) to divert my attention away from other now quite obvious techniques employed to ensure that Geck Geck and I could not only win the race, but would most likely fall out of our bathtub and into the harbour. Accompanied by enhanced and even doctored images, statements have been made that the screaming fans were actually there for U-KISS and the ‘Dream team’.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibit 1.01 – the original photograph of the diversion.

The following image shows one of the fans on the day and was previously published on this website and Facebook. Let me just call the ‘suspect’ in this part of the cover-up, “MR J”.

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

The 'published' and well-edited photo of one of Aussie Pete's fans

Here is the almost same image as discovered in the secret cache – before alteration… notice the difference?

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

The newly discovered 'real' picture showing the well-planned diversion

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.02 and 1.03 – THE FAULTY EQUIPMENT
Due to the diversion, the clear sabotage that is evident in the following photographs went unnoticed by both myself and my fellow bathub blogger… a clear hole in my oar, thereby rendering it useless in the efforts to disperse water and move our bathtub forward.

I hereby submit into evidence, Exhibits 1.02 and 1.03 – photographs of the faulty equipment.

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The sabotaged oar is clearly visible in this newly discovered picture

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

The hole in the oar went unnoticed due to the very clever diversion tactics

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBITS 1.04 and 1.05 – CO-CONSPIRATORS
Let’s just call the (previously unpublished) following people in these photographs, “THE D TEAM” and “MR A”. Upon the capsizing of the bathtub, photographers all along the waterfront were ‘picture happy’ as they took part in the humour associated with the moment. How the high level people involved in the cover up managed to ‘photoshop’ absolutely everybody’s images, I will never know, but the following images show the real story…

The photographs as published online:

The moment it happened - as previously published

The moment it happened - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The rescue boats arrive - as previously published

The photographs found in the secret cache – notice the ‘extra bodies’ in the water? In one, two people clearly assisting the tub on it’s lateral movement into an overturned position… in the second, one unidentified man in the water clearly revelling in the fun of it all:

Discovered Photo - The "D Team" clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - The 'D Team' clearly pushing the bathtub

Discovered Photo - "Mr A" seems very happy indeed about the "Big Splash"

Discovered Photo - 'Mr A' seems very happy indeed about the 'Big Splash'

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.06 – MORE SABOTAGED EQUIPMENT?
I hereby resubmit Exhibit 1.05 as Exhibit 1.06 – notice also, the extra weights attached to the underbelly of one side of the bathtub? These items seem to resemble the 2010 blog award trophies. It is important to note at this juncture, that only a handful of people are in possession of these items – ten to be exact… if I take myself and Geck Geck out of the equation, that leaves just eight people having access to these ‘weights’ – this means that (at least) three of our fellow bloggers were in on this overall conspiracy (3/8):

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

Only ten of these 'weights' are in existence - eight are unaccounted for

FURTHER HINTS:

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Absence of the 'missing footage' only further supports the Conspiracy Theory

Another blogger, let’s call her “Ms E” filmed what was depicted as ‘clear footage’ of the actual capsize as it happend in real-time. “Ms E” briefly showed us this footage on her video camera shortly after the race. The comment she made at the time, was that she ‘knew’ we were going to flip over, so she zoomed into our ‘Big Splash’. Suspecting at the time, that something was awry, I requested a copy of this video on a number of occassions. At first, “Ms E” used the excuse that she needed to ‘edit’ it – what for, I still do not know. Then the following day, she suggested that her computer or the video or something ‘crashed’ so she still could not provide a copy. On the airflight home, I provided “Ms E” with a memory card to download the raw footage to share with me – this time I was told that it was too inconvenient to perform this task on the plane. I have on numerous occassions asked “Ms E” for a copy, but to date it has not been forthcoming – I suspect that the original footage is now long gone 🙁

The night before the ‘big race’, one very senior member of the touring party invited me out with two other people in his gang. They suggested that we should go and savour some of the local HK food as a ‘light supper’. Let me state clearly here, that this was actually wonderful – the local roadside food was sensational – crab roe balls, prawn balls and fish balls on a stick… very nice, but very filling and more than just a ‘light’ snack. The gang (let’s call them “MR A”, “MRS R” and “THE CAMERAMAN”) then took me into one of the many late-night restaurants for dessert!! I was actually dubious at the time as to why they were trying to fill me up with so much wonderful food after an already enormous dinner – in hindsight and after suggestion of the same, I now understand that it was a clear ploy to increase my weight to further destabilise the bathtub on the following day.

I should have realized this the next morning, when the same gang (including one more member, otherwise known as “MS SK”) invited me for a 9:00am ‘heavy’ breakfast… no sooner had my stomach been once again filled to capacity, I returned to the hotel to change for the race and was then accompanied by the entire remainder of the touring party for a ‘late breakfast’ at 11:00am… wait a minute – I usually eat three meals a day… in the hours leading up to the bathtub race, I was pretty much tricked into eating two dinners with dessert and two full breakfasts. I must’ve weighed at least 5kg heavier than my normal (already overweight) body mass. Clear intention by the conspirators to ensure that it would be difficult to keep the bathtub upright – further evidenced by the aforementioned “MR J” who practically forced an extra fried egg and sandwich down my throat at the 11:00am (second) breakfast.

CONPIRACY – EVIDENCE EXHIBIT 1.07 – SOME CO-CONSPIRATORS SPYING ON THE AMOUNT OF FOOD CONSUMED

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

Previously published as 'papparazzi' - now identified as potential 'Spies'

SUMMARY
Further evidence is still being collected, but the above ‘truths unveiled’ are already enough to warrant a full and detailed investigation into the ‘BIG SPLASH‘ Conspiracy!!

HK: Dim sum at Sun Tung Lok 新同樂

By , August 2, 2010 7:31 pm

Steaming hot bun
It was Day 2 of our Hong Kong trip, and I was determined to get my dim sum. Today’s two pockets of free-and-easy time were precious, as they were our last chance to explore on our own. Today…today would be an eating marathon for me, as you will soon see in upcoming posts.

Sun Tung Lok is at The Miramar Shopping Centre
And with sooo many dim sum joints in Hong Kong, which one to go to? I found something right under my nose – Sun Tung Lok 新同樂 at Miramar Shopping Centre. Scroll down to the bottom of this “Best dim sum in HK” thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/318331) to see the latest replies singing its praises. OK, it’s not inside The Mira hotel per se, but just a hop across the road.

There was one slight dilemma though. The restaurant opens at 11:30am, and I had to regroup with the other bloggers back at the hotel at noon as the Hong Kong Tourism Board was going to bring us across to HK island for lunch. But the Sun Tung Lok manager was very accommodating – they did their best to very quickly prepare and steam up their famous dim sum treats.

The interior is of understated elegance
Sun Tung Lok is actually a long-standing name in high-end Cantonese cuisine. It’s been around since 1969, some forty years now. This restaurant used to be in Happy Valley but relocated to Tsim Sha Tsui not too long ago. I like their cool brown sombre decor with plush seating. The air is of understated elegance, with a touch of whimsical baroque in the wallpaper and lighting fixtures. The spotlight, of course, is on the food.

Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham - 4pcs for HK$40
Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham – 4pcs for HK$40.
This looks so perfectly molded, I only needed to take one shot. One bite into it and I was surprised to find a high ratio of lean meat (and not too much shrimp thankfully). So it’s quite firm and not mushy. The siew mai skin is also very well made.

Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) - 4pcs for HK$42
Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) – 4pcs for HK$42.
What a succulent morsel. I read that they keep to their standard of 11 pleats or folds for the har gau! Most impressive.

Steamed shrimp dumpling (har gow) - such translucent skin!
Let me show you the other side of the har gau. Such translucent skin. The texture is gently chewy, and while the skin is delicate, it’s also strong enough to hold the prawns within. The contents are not heavily seasoned either, possibly to allow the natural taste of the fresh prawns to come through.

Crispy bacon spring roll - 3pcs for HK$36
How do you resist something called Crispy Bacon Spring Roll? 3pcs for HK$36
However, note that it is the spring roll that’s crispy, not the bacon within (which is more like blanched). This roll is quite appetising with a smoky flavour, from the bacon and the mushrooms. I think it comes with a sauce too.

Steamed minced beef ball - 2pcs for HK$36
This is one of their specialties here too. Steamed minced beef ball, very large ones too – 2pcs for HK$36. You can really taste the dried orange peel and chunks of chopped vegetables in the mince.

Steamed scallop and kale dumpling - 3pcs for HK$40
Steamed scallop and kale dumpling – 3pcs for HK$40.
The skin is again excellent, very similar to that of the har gau. It holds a lot of shrimp inside. For some reason, I didn’t see any kale though. This is normally nicknamed the jade scallop dumpling, due to the green addition.

Sweet sesame and salty egg yolk bun - 3pcs for HK$30
Sweet sesame and salty egg yolk bun – 3pcs for HK$30.
This was more sesame than salted egg yolk. My curiosity about this was misplaced, as I was dreaming of the salted egg custard buns we have back home. Still, something new for me. The sesame is thick and dense.

Steamed rice roll (cheong fun) with shredded turnip, enoki and Yunnan ham (HK$40)
Here’s the Steamed rice roll (cheong fun) with shredded turnip, enoki and Yunnan ham (HK$40). It comes with a small jar of soy-based seasoning for you to pour as you like. The cheong fun skin is very thin, encasing crunchy fried batter. Thick, generous chunks of turnip made this very juicy. Soft, hard, crunchy, juicy – lots of contrasting textures.

I have to say Sun Tung Lok does well-made dim sum, but I do notice that most of the food is not heavily salted or overly seasoned. For some, it may come across as a tad bland, but for others, it can be a welcome change. In our short stay in HK, we encountered food that’s a bit too salty at quite a few places.

I wish I got to try some other stuff (like the durian “sou” or puff) but time was running short. Probably a good thing too, as I had five other meals ahead of me!

Sun Tung Lok has been around for 40 years, since 1969
Service here is very good. They also served me a pot of vintage pu-erh tea that complemented the dim sum perfectly. I am very grateful for the restaurant’s flexibility in meeting my needs – they not only worked fast, but also allowed me to order just one item of each, so I would not be overwhelmed as a single diner. There I was thinking I probably have to “tar-pow” or pack some takeaways!

For more dim sum photos, check out Peech’s review!

SUN TUNG LOK
Shop 4D (on fourth floor, which is full of restaurants)
Miramar Shopping Centre
1 Kimberly Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Hong Kong

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Fabulous Feasting in Hong Kong!

By , July 21, 2010 2:21 am

Photo from Discoverhongkong.com
Photo from Discoverhongkong.com

As a food blogger, I love to plan my holidays and trips around food. I did that for Japan in 2007 and now I have a chance to do that for Hong Kong!

However, I am not that familiar with Hong Kong eateries as my last trip was like ten years ago, or so it feels! I do know I want to try the legendary Mak’s Noodles and Kau Kee’s beef brisket noodles. Would love to squeeze in some good old dim sum – should I brave the queues at Tim Ho Wan (awarded one Michelin star!), Lin Heung or Fu Sing? Or should I head for luxury dim sum at Lung King Heen (Four Seasons Hotel) or Golden Leaf (Conrad Hotel)? What about that Bo Innovation – molecular gastronomy, Asian style?

But I don’t know very much beyond that. And with only 3-4 days, there isn’t much time for experimentation.

So given my lack of knowledge, I’m secretly glad we are hosted by the Hong Kong Tourism Board because they know Hong Kong best. We just got our itinerary and I was very impressed with some of the dining places they have chosen for us. Certainly not run of the mill choices. Here’s a quick sneak peek at the places we’ll be eating at:

1. Busy Suzie – a Japanese rotabayaki joint serving exquisite grilled fare in chic designer interiors. The chefs are from Japan, and fresh ingredients are flown in daily.

2. Gingko House – a western (French and Italian) restaurant that’s run like a social enterprise, giving the elderly meaningful employment and allowing their rich life experience to enhance service and customer relationships.

3. The Bounty – dinner cruise on a 42m replica of the HMS Bounty! It doesn’t get more dramatic than this!

4. Hong Kong Old Restaurant – serves really good Shanghainese and Sichuan cuisine. It’s also one of celebrity chef Hugo Leung’s favourite eateries.

5. Yin Yang – Hong Kong’s first female celebrity chef Margaret Xu Yuan runs her own organic farm in Yuen Long, and has concocted some unusual healthy dishes with incredible self-taught flair. Yin Yang is her private kitchen in Wan Chai. I’m looking forward to that crispy chicken roasted in a terracotta clay oven.

That’s not all. We even have a special workshop with Margaret who will impart secrets on making her extremely popular Chinese sauces.

It looks like we have a really wonderful program lined up for us. I can’t wait to show you photos! Later, ok?

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