Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Touring Middle East 13: Italian in Jerusalem

We were out again for dinner in Jerusalem - this time with a bigger group of six fellow travelers in our group. As the evening fell under a special Sabbath day after sundown (as part of the Sukkot festival) and many restaurants closed early (it's Jewish tradition to fast during Sabbath), the hotel concierge recommended this non-Kosher Italian restaurant called Adom to us

Monday, November 20, 2017

Touring Middle East 12: The Walled Off Bethlehem

Of course, almost EVERY tourists who come to Jerusalem will spend at least half a day in Bethlehem, just a quick drive away from city center by distance. After all, this is the "little town" we sang about every Christmas (in whatever tunes you are familiar) with the video footage of the annual Christmas eve midnight mass at Basilica of Nativity being broadcast worldwide as the key event of Christmas celebration. This all traced back to Jesus Christ was born in this Judean town in a meager manger some 2000 years ago (Gospel of Luke 2:1-7), the event now known as "The Nativity of Jesus".

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Touring Middle East 11: Discovery by Accident

Machneyuda restaurant in Jerusalem checked every boxes of the type of place I would be dying to try - one specializes in local cuisine, with open kitchen, a creative team and menu which changes daily based on seasonal ingredients sourced from the market next door, not to mention it came highly recommended by just about every travel guide/website/reviews I managed to read before the trip.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Touring Middle East 10: Dinner at Chakra

We were curious to check out the Jerusalem dining scene the moment we arrived, despite this legendary town is probably better known for its political and religious significance than being a culinary destination. Once we checked in to our hotel after a long bus ride from the north and dropped our luggage in our room, we hopped on the tram to Jerusalem's city center, where it was packed like Causeway Bay with Orthodox Jews celebrating the festival of Sukkot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sweet Wine and Cheese

A few weeks ago I was at a luncheon at On Dining in Central hosted by Sweet Bordeaux, the marketing consortium of 10 Bordeaux appellations.with production of sweet and semi-sweet wines. I am not a particular fan of the Wine and Dine Festival held this year at the Central Harbourfront (too crowded, too consumer-oriented) but this annual event did bring a number of overseas people in F&B industry with a string of special events on and off the venue including this one, with the theme of sweet Bordeaux wine and cheese pairing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Reminiscent of Yester-year

I felt like going back to the college days when I walked into Morty's Deli in Wanchai with the familiar American diner décor and 90's and 00's music playing in the background. I walked by the restaurant a few times before but this is only my first visit - this time at the invitation of the restaurant and their PR team.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Crabs at Restaurant Petrus

I admit I don't come to Restaurant Petrus often - my last visit was more than a year ago - but I remembered my meal last time was pretty decent and since then I have been hearing good things about its chef Ricardo Chaneton’s cooking too. So I was pretty excited to come with some friends for a dinner earlier this week to try their special “Crabalicious” menu featuring a few crab dishes.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Light Sushi Lunch

I felt I needed a proper sushi lunch to satisfy my crave for Japanese food, so I made a booking at Sushi Wadatsumi in Sheung Wan for a Saturday afternoon. I have been to its predecessor, Sushi Iwa, in its old location before and thought it’s right in the middle of the pack, so I am curious how the restaurant fared, now that they have changed the name and moved to its current location in Sheung Wan, and managed to keep its Michelin star.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Touring Middle East 9: Walking Around the Local Market

It's unfortunate that we didn't spend quite enough time to explore the modern side of Jerusalem, as one can never see the full picture of this town so steep in history just by looking at century-old buildings and artifacts in the Old City and other religious sites in the proximity. We tried to spend as much free time as we could exploring on our own, but we probably hardly scratched the surface in such a short period of time.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Touring Middle East 8: The Old City Jerusalem

Obviously, we spent most of our time in Jerusalem in the Old City (and its surroundings), just like every tourists who come over to visit. There’s no other places with a longer, more colorful history (believed to be more than 3000 years old) yet relatively well preserved, despite being fought over again and again for the past 2000 years. First and foremost, this small walled enclave of slightly less than 1 square kilometer (just to give you some reference – Hong Kong Island is 80 times bigger) is the heart of much religious significance, whether you are Christian, Jewish or Muslim, and that’s our major reason why we were here – to visit some of those Holy Sites key to Jesus’ life, especially in the last days before He’s betrayed, arrested, crucified, buried and rose again.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Touring Middle East 7: Runaway Dinner in Tiberias

I (not so) secretly kept a list of places (well, mainly restaurants as you can imagine) I would like to visit on our own in case our group tour itinerary allowed any free time. So on one evening we (with our partner in crime T) made a side trip to a restaurant called Magdalena, which happened to be just 10 minutes away by car from where we were staying in Tiberias.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Touring Middle East 6: Following the Footsteps

For any "Christian pilgrim" itinerary, Galilee in the northern part of Israel is just as important a stop as Jerusalem. This is the place where Jesus grew up (in His hometown of Nazareth), where most His apostles were from, and many of His ministry works and miracles took place.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Touring Middle East 5: Crossing Jordan and Full Moon by the "Sea"

After spending 2 nights at Petra, we crossed the Jordanian border into the Palestinian-administered West Bank via Allenby Bridge (or King Hussein Bridge as the Jordanians call it) without much fanfare. This is no longer the most hostile border to cross (after the peace treaty signed between Jordan and Israel a couple decades ago) but traces of hostility remained with both sides still heavily armed and the no-man's land between the 2 countries stretching a couple kilometers with only a narrow road for authorized vehicles to cross with signs warning against mines along the way.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Beer Pairing Dinner

Recently I was at a dinner at Lobster Bar of Island Shangri-La featuring a beer-pairing menu with a few specialty bottles by the folks at Young Master Brewery. I have been a fan of this fast-expanding local craft brewery and think event like this benefits both the restaurant in offering something new to its customers and for the brewery to introduce its great products to a wider audience.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Three-Course Celebration

Still recovering from the long trip which ended just a couple of days before, I was not in particular mood for a lengthy meal to celebrate my own birthday. So I suggested to check out Arcane, a place that I thought it's good enough as a venue for special occasion yet not those 10-course degustation menu kind of place. And most importantly, it's a place that I have never been before (at least for a proper sit-down meal) I honestly don't know why as I have always been a fan of Chef Shane Osborn's cooking.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Four-Hands Preview

I was not able to make it to either nights of the special Vicky Cheng x Margarita Fores dinner at Chef Vicky's restaurant VEA in late October, but was glad to get a sneak preview of the menu a couple of days before it was launched. I have never tried Chef Margarita's (of Grace Park Restaurant in Manila) cooking before but I always wanted to, ever since she received her Best Female Chef award by the Asia's 50 Best Restaurant last year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Touring Middle East 4: Dining Under Starlight

We wanted to reward ourselves after an exhausting day at the Petra, so for dinner, we ditched the buffet at the restaurant downstairs at our hotel and opted to eat at the lush Al Ghadeer on the rooftop. With the temperature dropping significantly in the evening and on a clear night, we just thought that’s a good idea to chill and relax, and try something different.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Touring Middle East 3: Petra by Day

The thought of having to walk twice the distance during the day as we did in the previous night didn’t sit too comfortably with me, but I guess I just had to forget the pain and sweat and made the hike up to the magnificent sights in Petra again. We began our journey at 8am in order to avoid the heat on mid-day as much as possible.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Touring Middle East 2: Petra By Night

We arrived at the town of Petra in the southern part of Jordan right before sunset after a 3-hour bus ride through the King’s Highway (an ancient road even mentioned in Numbers 21:22). While our official itinerary of Petra wouldn’t start until the next day, some of us decided to join the Petra By Night show after dinner at our hotel. Well, we have seen Petra in numerous photos and documentaries before (plus of course, the Indiana Jones movie which was shot there) but this is one of those places you just have to visit by yourselves to experience. If you haven't put this in your bucket list, you should.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Touring Middle East 1: Madaba and Our First Lunch

In just slightly less than 12 hours, our uneventful Royal Jordanian flight (a new Boeing 787-Dreamliner by the way) landed at Amman Airport at day-break. We try to do at least one long trip every year and this year our destination is Jordan and Israel. It’s only our first time setting foot in the Middle East.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sukiyaki at the Counter

It’s my fault that I had to rush across the harbor to make my 6:30pm reservation at Sukiyaki Mori, but I was glad I made it right on time (okay, I was more like 15 minutes late) at the doorstep of this new restaurant at the junction of Elgin and Hollywood. I couldn’t recall any other restaurant specializes in sukiyaki in town, and being meat lovers as ourselves, we were eager to check it out.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Beer Crossover

I think it's a brilliant idea for Beef & Liberty to join hands with Brooklyn Brewery for this interesting project to deliver an unique drink-pairing dining experience which normally reserved for wine people. One corner of the restaurant was converted into a private dining area (think Krug Room but for beers) completed with wooden insignia on the wall and the collection of Brooklyn Brewery beers on display, and a special menu designed by Chef Uwe was served matching with several beers, some not commonly found in Hong Kong market.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Proper Kaiseki

I came to know this Japanese place through a rather unusual source - sponsored ad on Facebook how about that? (just to show it does occasionally work you marketing people!) I was intrigued by the fact that the restaurant, called Tenkuni, is specialized in Tempura and Unagi, or freshwater eel, as they advertised. You know, there's only a handful place in town that serves even half-decent Unagi dishes that can be somewhat close to any random ones in Japan, so that got me curious enough to give it a shot on one weeknight.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Loading up on Canto

I was back at Cuisine Cuisine at The Mira in TST just a few days before we embarked on our long trip to the Middle East in October. I was lucky to have a series of fine Chinese meals around town lately and this one was definitely ranked right up there. I was here only a couple months ago attending a wine tasting followed by a sumptuous feast and I loved the food prepared by Chef Edwin Tang then, so I was interested in checking out more of his creative dishes, this time over dinner with the hotel's PR team.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Not The Usual Lounge

It's just unfair to put The Lounge at Four Seasons Hong Kong on the list among other hotel cafes. True they all serve the somewhat predictable menu trying to cater to a wide spectrum of customers, from proper breakfasts to sandwiches to salad and pasta, and of course the must-have "Asian Delights" section (whatever it's called in individual places) with dishes like wonton noodle soup and chicken rice. Plus the afternoon tea completed with the silver-plated tower with all the sweet and savory goodies. That's what this kind of restaurants are designed for in the first place.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Wine Dinner Avant Premiere

Late last week I attended the preview dinner of the new collaboration project between Conrad Hong Kong and Burgundy wine powerhouse Maison Albert Bichot. One of the private rooms of the hotel's Chinese restaurant Golden Leaf was transformed into a wine-themed dining area, completed with tableware and stemware with engraved Golden Leaf and Albert Bichot logos. Special menu designed by Chef Wan will be served with wine pairing selected from Albert Bichot’s wide repertoire, from some harder-to-find village wines to ones from the premier cru and grand cru climats owned by the winery.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Serious Kappo Dinner

Maybe it’s what I heard from others who have been, or I am just curious about this interesting combination of the chef and the concept and the venue, but Haku is one restaurant I have been wanting to visit for some time, and we worked out of the way to arrange this dinner date there in September before our long trip out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Flavorsome Dialogue

Sichuan cuisine is perhaps one of the most well-known yet least understood style of cooking in our culture. As representative Sichuanese dishes like Kung Pao chicken, Mapo Tofu, Hot and Sour Soup or Dan Dan Noodles are now enjoyed by people all over the world from college kids sitting in their dorm rooms holding the Chinese takeaway box to workers squatting by the curb in the province capital of Chengdu with food from a street-side stall, to a certain extent and to many, Sichuan cuisine is their entry point of knowledge about what constituted "Chinese food" in their minds. But the popularity of those dishes all with intense flavor also causes a general misconception that Sichuan food is all about being hot and spicy, which is far from truth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Celebration at Man Ho

I keep hearing great things about the food at Man Ho of JW Marriott at Pacific Place so we decided to check it out one evening to celebrate papa's birthday. And I solicited help from Chef Jayson Tang to set up the menu for us as I was interested in trying some of the signature and seasonal dishes by his team.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Late Summer at Caprice

Four months on since Chef Guillaume settled at the kitchen of Caprice of Four Seasons Hong Kong we saw another change of menu with even more new dishes being introduced by the team, just as we were about to say goodbye to the long summer season in the beginning of September. Like last time when we were here a couple months ago, we left it entirely to him to decide on the menu for us and we had a blast with a series of delightful dishes.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Korean Brunch

With the latest typhoon just brushed by us, we managed to come to Jinjuu to check out their new Sunday brunch menu as scheduled. I did enjoy having a leisurely stroll up to Lan Kwai Fong during weekend day time, with the street cleared of the crowds, the curb properly cleaned up and most of the places just generally quieter and more comfortable, for someone who just wanna chillax.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Standing Strong

The team of Posto Pubblico must be doing at least something right - while every restaurants on the block came and went like a merry-go-round in this challenging environment of Hong Kong dining scene, they are still standing strong at its original location on Elgin after eight long years, just as popular night-in, night-out as they have always been.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Gin + Sushi

I count Kishoku in Causeway Bay as one of those few local sushi restaurants I go every now and then to satisfy my sushi crave. Recently they have been trying to do a few new things on their menu offering, including the one that I recently went which combined the omakase dinner menu with gin pairing – specifically the house-made infused gin with various flavors designed by mixologist Antonio Lai to serve with a different seafood dishes.

Friday, September 8, 2017

It Never Rains...

Let’s get the rant out of the way first for one of our recent dinners at 11 Westside of Kennedy Town. Problem #1: we had a reservation for 6 persons at 7pm and confirmed in writing by the restaurant team 3 days before, but when I walked in at 6:45pm I was told they only had my booking for 4 persons at 7:30pm (and the maître d’ even tried to correct me til I showed her own email in her face suggesting otherwise). Problem #2: to make up for their mistake they tried to offer me a square table for 4 with 2 additional chairs pulled up instead and asked whether that would be okay – are you f*cking kidding me?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pizza Pizza!

It may sound a bit gimmicky to run a special menu promotion branded as a "Bake Off" between professional chefs and professional food writers (who wouldn't want some rivalry talk?), but then I couldn't care less as long as it was a good enough excuse to have more pizzas at Lan Kwai Fong’s Mercato, one of my favorite joints in town for casual dining. This "Great Pizza Bake Off" campaign was running for 10 straight weeks starting late August, with each fortnight featuring two different pizzas, one by someone who cooks for a living, and one by someone who writes about cooking for a living.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Fancy Pub Grub

There were definitely other sports bars in town that I felt more like at home either for practical or sentimental reasons, but I must admit as far as food and location go, none of them beat Dicken's Bar in Causeway Bay. Recently I was there on Friday evening to check out some dishes from their new a la carte menu after not being here for God-knows-how-long.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Another New Sushi Place

Seems like there's a constant stream of sushi restaurants coming and going in the rather crowded field of Causeway Bay and Sushi Tsuboni represented one of the latest entries joining the frenzy. Located up inside the new V-Point Building on the buzzling Yiu Wa Street, the restaurant features a contemporary design with a well-lit and spacious dining area with a gorgeous harbor view, unlike many other sushi restaurants which has a cozier ambiance.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Family Dimsum Lunch

Shang Palace at Kowloon Shangri-La was filled to the capacity already when we went for an early dimsum brunch one Sunday morning last month - much to my surprise given we arrived well before normal lunch hours. We rarely dined in TST East area but thought we should give it a try, thanks to some expiring cash coupons I got as benefits for being a certain credit card holder.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Unfinished Mission

Coming back from a weekend trip from Thailand only recently doesn’t mean we couldn’t have more Thai food. A few weekends ago we went to check out the weekend brunch at Mak Mak and felt we have uncovered the best hidden gem in this part of town. Took both of us a while to find the restaurant, located at a corner of the luxurious Landmark shopping mall in Central. The façade looks just like a glorified Pret A Manger takeout stall, with ready-to-eat lunch boxes and drinks in the refrigerator shelf and a long open bar, but through the tucked-away entrance on the side, we were led to the dining area at the back.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Nothing More Than Ordinary

We thought we should give Celebrity Cuisine a try after seeing their 10th Anniversary menu offered at a special price with a few of their signature dishes. Despite the Michelin stars (they only dropped from two-star to one last year), somehow the restaurant was never on my list as somewhere I was too eager to check out, perhaps due to my (mis)conception that the place is more about expensive ingredients than solid cooking and execution. Anyway, we were about to find out over the dinner here one night a few weeks back.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Champagne Food Crawl

We had an interesting evening a few weeks ago following the Krug team to a few restaurants trying out new dishes specifically designed to pair with their champagne. Every year they ran a campaign with participating restaurants and chefs creating special Krug pairing menus using a theme ingredient. Last year it was eggs, and this year, it came to the time of mushrooms.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Impromptu Date Night

I felt Hong Kong has been cursed with a long streak of terrible weather lately (either unbearable heat or non-stop rain and thunderstorm), but when the sky briefly cleared up this week, we managed to enjoy the breath-taking view from our table at The French Window one weeknight for an impromptu date of sort, courtesy of the restaurant PR who invited us over for a tasting of their new menu by their new chef Simon Kealy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Ever Elusive Khao Soi

The Khao Soi has always been the elusive item at Samsen, even for many who came to this popular Thai noodles joint at Stone Nullah Lane in Wanchai regularly. This northern Thai-style chicken noodles never appeared on its menu and only showed up occasionally and unannounced as an off-menu special whanever Chef Adam felt like and they were in limited supply on first come first served basis. But a few friends who tried that before swore by this is the best bowl of Thai noodles in all of Hong Kong.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sichuan Omakase

Many of us were fans of Chef Kaitak Chan's innovative take on Sichuan dishes combining traditional and modern techniques, so with the pending (temporary) closure of his restaurant Yun Yan at its current Causeway Bay location, we decided to go one last time to say goodbye. And to make it more interesting, this time we asked Chef Chan to prepare a special menu for us, Sichuan omakase style.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

French Omakase

We had an epic dinner at Neighborhood a few weeks ago. I forgot what we were talking about over another dinner when the name of the restaurant came up, so we picked a date and I called to make the booking. We were just planning to pick whatever available on the seasonal menu on the night, but then Chef David messaged me that morning offered to sort the dishes out for us. “Just a bit of everything I think people should try” he said; “Sure, as long as we have enough chocolate palette cakes and caneles to share among us at the end” was my response. So just like that, a random dinner became a French-style Omakase meal of sort.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Refined Thai

We squeezed in one more proper sit-down meal in Bangkok before heading off to the airport for the late afternoon flight home on Monday. Before Gaggan stealing the spotlight, it's Nahm at COMO Metropolitan Bangkok that was voted Asia's Best, with its Australian chef David Thompson being considered the pioneer of bringing Thai cuisine to the fine-dining radar first with his restaurant in London (now closed and replaced by Ametsa which we adored) then this Bangkok branch (opened in 2010, one time winner of Asia's Best restaurant in 2014)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Marquee Meal

By all accounts dining at Gaggan is the marquee event of our Bangkok weekend trip – to the extent the rest of our itinerary was planned around it. Barring a few Michelin stars (which was widely tipped to be forthcoming when the first Michelin Guide Bangkok releases later this year), Chef Gaggan Anand's namesake restaurant has all the accolades that other restauranteurs can only dream of - Asia's Best for 3 years in a row (2015-2017 and counting), number 7 on this year's World's Best Restaurant list, and being featured in the famous Chef's Table series by Netflix, just to name a few. So we were super excited to score a table at Gaggan with rather short notice and came to the restaurant with very high expectation.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Essentially Thai

There's a long list of restaurants we would like to check out in Bangkok but with such a short stay this time we could only pick and choose a few. But I did specifically want to drop by bo.lan, one restaurant I kept hearing good things about from my foodie friends (well, most of them, though one called it boring). And we had a glimpse of the cooking of Dylan and Bo, the couple who owns the restaurant, at a pop-up dinner in Hong Kong last year already and loved what we have tried. So I emailed the restaurant well in advance to make sure we had a table for the only time-slot we were available - that is Sunday afternoon for lunch.

Friday, August 11, 2017

German Dinner in Bangkok

"Huh?" was the most typical response we got when we told (most of) our friends that we were going to have German food while in Bangkok. It may sound like a strange choice but as the restaurant was highly ranked in the Asia's Top 50 Restaurant list (making its debut at Number 13 this year), we wanted to give it a shot.