Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thai Basil, Pacific Place, Hong Kong

This restaurant is situated on the lower ground level of Pacific Place where the Met Cafe (Metropolitan Cafe), Peking House, Zen and other prestigeous restaurants are. There are indeed quite a number of nice restaurants in Pacific Place, especially the Cova restaurant on the top level.

1. Stir fried spinach with golden fried garlic HK$52 - quite a nice one and not that oily. I noted the Chef put some sugar in it to take out the "iron" taste( 浹味) of the spinach. 2. stir fried noodle with roast chicken. I don't think you would try this type of Cantonese noodle in Thailand and I can say it'd be a Cantonese dish than a Thai dish but taste-wise, it's pretty good; so I can say this is a foreign taste.

3. roti (HK$22): it's quite a nice one but it lacks the aromatic oil taste (油酥香). 4. hot and spicy rock lobster soup (HK$68): ok, this one is with rock lobster and not the cray fish I tried at Rice Paper. The soup is very salty, sour and spicy and indeed quite Thai taste.

5. Mixed grill platter (HK$138): the beef and squid are quite nice and the cucumber salad too. 6. the shop inside.

7. Pumpkin custard with pandan leave ice cream HK$38: it's a very nice pumpkin sweet. The pandan leave ice cream replied to my question why there is no pandan leave ice cream in Thailand (or I may haven't yet come accross) while the local Thais use a lot of pandan leave for cooking. Personally I don't like pandan leave but this one is quite nice. Highly recommended. 8. Blackberry sorbet, rum raisin and ginger ice cream (HK$39): waking up my taste buds! Must try too.

金源小館, Kam Yuen Restaurant, Wanchai, Hong Kong

Was once brought to this local restaurant in Wanchai a few years ago. I wasn't impressed at all at that time. So we re-visited this restaurant again and see if there is any improvement. So it turned out their service and food quality is quite constant. This restaurant is quite the talk of the town and with lots of people visiting.

1. Golden/silver egg soaked with veggie (金銀蛋浸莧菜) - HK$48: if you would notice from the photo, do you know what they miss? I think we can take this photo to the Consumer's Council for filing a complaint. If on the menu they said it's a "Golden egg" - the preserved salty duck egg, where is that golden egg york? Supposed this is the essence of the taste of golden egg and also the important ingredient of this dish. So out of this dish, we can simply tell they use the egg york for the Golden Shrimp which is cooked with lots of egg york. If this dish is just $20, I wouldn't say anything but it's at HK$48, a price similar to those Maxim's restaurants. By the way, the veggie wasn't rinsed enough and yet some root parts were not cut. I can say it's a lousy dish! 2. A disgrace to this renowned Cantonese dish - sweet and sour pork HK$48. First of all, it's too much sauce and what we called 瀉汁. This dish is with sauce to just cover all the ingredients but not drowning it. Then it's already made in a massive production.

3. Shang Tung Shred Chicken (HK$98 for half chicken) (山東手撕雞) - first, it's over-priced and second it's not that impressive. The American Peking Duck Restaurant (美利堅) on Lockhart Road (*the name American is just for easy memory - nothing to do with American food) charged for HK$88 but served a whole chicken and their sauce is much better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong has meant so much to me, especially their old coffee shop offering an awesome Lobster Bisque, back in the 80's and early 90's. I still recalled that friendly old uncle waiter who gave me a lot of bread to go with the lobster bisque. He often told me not to order main course as the portion of their lobster bisque is good enough for 2 persons. He was such a nice uncle and I sometimes thought what if he would be my grand father. A spoiled grown up kid (in the eyes of the older) just didn't listen to what he said and kept on asking for food food food... Their lobster/chicken salad with mango chutney is still in my loving memory. I also used to round up my meal with their New York Cheese cake and it is still the best. The new coffee shop doesn't have the same things I used to have. Really missed it a lot!

H1N1, seems to be far, but yet so close

When in Taiwan from 30th April to 4th May, the Taiwanese media massively reported Hong Kong is collapsed when one H1N1 case with a Mexican patient was affirmed. Then this hotel Metropark Wanchai was closed for complete isolation but then claimed the HK Gov't was too over-reacted by the Western countries. So for the past week, the no. of H1N1 has been on a double growth in the States and even spreading in Japan and Thailand from travellers from the States. It seemed quite a number of people in the West didn't care about this new flu virus. I recalled when I brought my colleague to Cannes 2 years ago, we got on a flight from Paris to Nice. A very sick lady sitting next to my colleague, seriously coughing and sneezing. So my colleague put on a face mask. A crew member came to her and asked her not to wear face mask as it would upset the other passengers. I immediately complained "I didn't mean to be rude to that lady who coughed and sneezed heavily but my friend's putting on the mask is to protect her from getting some unnecessary infection. It should be actually that coughing lady upsetting the others, not my friend. So for the patient found in Sze Chuan, her parents once sent her some face masks, but she just didn't put on it. Now that she got infected and came back home with H1N1. The virus is not that scary but the people's mind-set is.

1/2. Metro Park Wanchai - my colleagues and I used to go there often for lunch buffet. It used to be called Singapore Hotel back in the 70's to 90's, but then renovated and became Metro Park chain.

Simply Thai, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

This one is another MAX Concept restaurant and it's quite a good one. Besides, I seldom try Thai food in Hong Kong as I would leave it for my visits in Bangkok.

1. Green Curry Chicken HK$72 - personally I don't like curry much but this one is quite nice but the restaurant shouldn't use the frozen chicken thigh those those thighs have a better meat texture, considering it's HK$72. 2. stir fried asparagus/mixed mushroom with salty fish HK$62. Quite a good one and the portion is quite big.

3. Fried rice with seafood and pineapple HK$78. This is what we called seafood - shrimp, scallop, fish, cuttle fish. At least it should have 3-4 varieties, unlike the coffee shop of Sofitel Wanda Beijing - only one shrimp means seafood. 4. Tom Yam Krung - it's not very Thai taste but the prawn is very fresh. It should have had more lemon grass, Kaffir leave and Galangal.

5. Pomelo salad with grilled prawn HK$62. Quite a nice mix and taste but a bit spicy to me. 6. The shop has its own made ice cream; so I tried this rum raisin and ginger ice cream. Very nice! Rum rasin is one of my top 5 favourite ice cream but it's quite difficult to get a good one. This shop did impress me. Ginger ice cream is also very nice as it has a strong aroma of ginger.

7. Banana pudding with crispy honey ice cream. When I noticed this "crispy honey" in ice cream, how could it be? It turned out the whole dessert is so good, except it's not a banana pudding. It'd be a banana muffin. The muffin was warm. In order not to have the ice cream on the top melted, the Chef put a biscuit in between. The vanilla sauce is also very nice to go with the banana muffin. Must try! 8. the shop outside.

9/10. the shop inside.

Rice Paper, Vietnamese restaurant, World Trade Centre, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Last time after I tried the EXP Pizza/pasta fusion restaurant and got to know MAX Concept restaurant chain (a Maxim's trendy restaurant chain) has quite a variety of western and international cuisine. So why not for more explorations. This restaurant name Rice Paper does catch my attention. Rice paper can mean something simple but simple food is not that easy to cook at all. Just like steamed rice, I often take it as an index for a good Chinese restaurant.

1. Stir fried morning glory with shrimp paste HK$58. A bit too salty but it somehow didn't have the shrimp aroma. I could tell the Chef didn't burn the shrimp paste enough. In stir-frying food with shrimp paste, it should be burnt a bit first in the wok so as to get the nice aroma. Yet, it should have had some chili to bring out the taste of shrimp paste. 2. Stir fried egg noodle with lobster HK$98 - when I looked at the price, I already wondered it was another mistakenly named dish. I don't know why most of the restaurants often misled people with crayfish for lobster! There are so many so-called "lobster" buffet in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. I often told my friends and families they are not lobster. They are just crayfish. So I called the captain of this restaurant and simply told him the menu shouldn't name it as lobster. The captain expressed it's because most people don't know much about small lobster (he even didn't get my meaning of crayfish, or he might not even have any idea about crayfish. What's more, I told him they shouldn't put the egg noodle in the fridge if it had to be stored overnight. Putting fresh-made noodle in the fridge would make the noodle broken when stir-frying.

3. Grilled Chicken HK$98 (half) - actually it should be called deep fried chicken but I don't know why most Vietnamese restaurant often name it as grilled chicken. Anyway, this one is quite nice but a bit close to Cantonese style chicken. 4. You may wonder why this one is so solitary. I don't know either when the waiter delivered it separately.

5. Seafood soup HK$128 - quite nice but originally for Viet taste, it should have been sweeter. 6. Spring roll HK$52.

7. Tangerine/grapefruit juice - quite a nice mix and it's not sour at all. 8. Steamed flat roll with scallop HK$58. I think this is the best dish in the meal.

New Business class, Dragon Air A330, KaoHsuing to Hong Kong

Got upgraded again on my flight back from Kao Hsuing and could try the new business class seat of Dragon Air. It actually resembles the previous CX business class but adapted it with some new features.

1. the Business class cabin. 2. I often wondered why most of the conventional business class seat is not wide enough for those who have a wider shoulder. Dragon Air is quite thoughtful to have the side arm-rest pushed down for a wider seat pitch. The seat also has various relax seating positions and with a massage function. Imagine you have an Osim seat on the flight.
3. Dragon Air has a guava/rum cocktail. Quite nice for a pre-flight refreshment. 4. My favourite warm wheat bread.

5. Though the flight time is just one hour, Dragon Air still has full meal service. Not easy for the crew when the flight is full. 6. Dragon Air had this main course Kung Po prawn (宮保蝦球)prepared by Fu Yuen Taiwanese Restaurant. When I checked on the background of this Fu Yuen, I finally got a bit missing Grand Hi Lai. This restaurant is just one of the 13 restaurant outlets of Grand Hi Lai. Yes, Grand Hi Lai has 13 restaurant outlets! Indeed I already told my friends that there should be some reason for 13 restaurants getting together at this Grand Hi Lai. Should have tried some of those 13 restaurants!

御爐香豆花, Yu Lu Xiang Bean Curd, KaoHsuing, Taiwan

This shop is just opposite to the Hotel Grand Hi-Lai. Though the shop highlighted its sweet been curd, it offers some other desserts which I haven't come accross.

1. 葉綠素 - yes, the menu does have this term and it's also on the 1st one on the menu. So we asked the shop lady what that exactly is. Her answer is green algae (or kind of seaweed) 綠藻. So out of our adveturous behaviour, we of course had a try. It's really interesting, and personally I like it a lot as it is quite similar to the tiger herbal (崩大碗) aroma. 2. Herbal Jelly (仙草凍) - it's not as good as those I found in Bangkok or Hong Kong. Supposed it should have been a bit tangy.

3. sweet bean curd topped with red/green bean, barley, sweet yam and tangy sago. A pretty good one and good for health too as it has quite a variety of beans and barley. 4. plain sweet bean curd - quite good as it has the burnt aroma and the texture is quite balanced.

5. the shop.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lon Pao soup dumpling, KaoHsuing, S. Taiwan 龍袍湯包, 高雄, 南台灣

Just like the way I discovered Madam Dragon's noodle shop, I found out there are quite many locals visiting this shop just next to Grand Hi Lai hotel. So it turned out our exploration wasn't in vain.

1. Almost 9 out of 10 customers ordered this deep fried pork chop with noodle. The pork chop is nicely marinated and then covered with battered egg and flour and deep fried in nice hot oil. The noodle is quite nice too with lots of veggie but I don't know why the chef used morning glory as it's not common for Taiwanese noodle. 2. spare ribs noodle soup - also quite nice.

3. double boiled beef soup - a bit oily to me but the taste is good. 4. double boiled ginseng chicken soup and double boiled chicken soup. Both are very oily and I noticed it's quite typical for Taiwanese soup being a big oily. The taste is quite good, but I don't recommend it as it's indeed a bit too oily.

5. mini dumpling with black sesame filling - very nice one! 6. mini dumpling with meaty hot soup inside. I can darely say it's even better than Crystal Jade and Din Tai Feng though I still don't like mini dumpling. The chef made the dumpling skin very thin but chewy enough to hold the soup inside. This is a very special skill and the meaty soup inside is very nice. Perfect dumpling!

7. the pickled cucumber, the pickled white fungas and the dried bean curb with dried mini fish. Average taste but if you want some snacks together with your dumpling, I would recomend you try the pickled white fungas as it's not commonly found in Taiwan.