Wednesday, March 30, 2011

D.I.Y. - Cara Cara Red Orange Creme Brulee

  Without access to my useful kitchen appliances, which are still sitting in my house in Australia gathering dust, what I can make in my HK home is kind of limited or compromised in formula. I don't even have an oven, mixer or food processors or blenders of any sort.  I don't even have a proper knife or utensils or better plates that are necessary to make a good interesting meal!   But once in a while the bug bites and you try to make whatever is possible from the limited equipment available.... 

杏加橙 法式焦糖燉蛋
Madagascar Vanilla and Cara Cara Red Orange Creme Brulee,
Almond Praline, Macerated Orange and Peel...

(Added in a bit of Wilson's Marmalade Jam,
and borrowed Paul Lafayet's dish but its all home made.) 

I like my vanilla seeds to float to infuse flavour more evenly, thanks -
 not sitting around at the bottom lying dormant and lining the bottom..

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sureno (Beijing) - ♕♕♕♕

  Sureno located in a basement within Beijing is being operated by the same dining group which runs Upper House in HK.  I came past here 1 day upon hearing that it's famous for its wood-fired oven pizzas, although in the end I forgo the chance to try this out as it would be a bit excessive to eat a whole pizza by yourself, especially after having eaten a few Chinese ducks and when quota is limited and reserved for my next Beijing adventure...!   I was rather impressed by the Sanlitun Village North architectural scheme and planning nevertheless,  which consists of a series of designer-squares aimed specifically at showcasing and representing the amount of progress Beijing City has since undertaken to prove itself worthy of the Olympics city status. 

Pretty amazing how they came up with such a communal space setting,
within a piece of land in the middle of China..

Sureno -
Serving Italian and Modern European dishes

Antinori Santa Cristina IGT (Tuscany) -
A 2008 Chianti Classico with IGT status, this was quite hot and fruit driven, a little sweet compared to a typical IGT Sangiovese based wine from Tuscany.  Easily approachable ~  7/10

Court Yard at the back -
Located at the basement, this is the ideal venue that is perfect for a weekend drinkers gathering.  The majority of the clientele here is still predominantly White or Japanese orientated, but come back in a few years and may be that will all change again!  Who can tell...

Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri -  12pm - 22:30pm
Sat           -    6am - 22:30pm
Sun          -   12pm - 22:30pm
Address: 北京市朝阳区三里屯路11号
The Village Building 1, 11 Sanlitun Beilu,
Ph:  010-64105240

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cafe Luvoello (Beijing) - ♕♕♕♕

  The cafe culture in Beijing is high, incalculably high even.  This isn't completely incomprehensible as Beijing is normally considered to be the Arts Capital of China, and artistic cities are normally correlated  with better cafe standards (and not only limited to coffee but cafes in general).  The cafes in Beijing are astonishingly high and right up there with world standards, so much so, it is probably more advanced than some established European cities living on their pass glory.   I initially wasn't planning to explore many cafes in Beijing but visiting them one after another, I discovered that they never ceased to continually surprise.   Cafe Luvoello is part of the American Cafe Paridiso's group, but the Chinese branches (found in both Shanghai and Beijing) have their beans roasted and packaged in Korea.  The normal blend consists of Peru, Indonesian and Hawaiian coffee beans and most of the baristas in this San Li Tun SOHO branch in China are well trained,  also very friendly at helping me navigate around the city as well! 

Caffe Latte -
A lot of cafes in Beijing use artificially tasting Chinese milk, which tastes more like sugared cream and spoils the milk coffee drinks.  But this one was quite acceptable for my liking ~  7/10

This Cafe sounds promising, and might just become a respectable chain in China 1 day..

Address: U/G, Sanlitun SOHO, Beijing, China
北京朝阳区三里屯 SOHO

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mutekiya 無敵家 (Beijing) - ♕♕♕♕

 The original 無敵家 in Tokyo is quite famous for its North-Eastern Japanese, Yokohama styled Tonkotsu Ramen.   It is slightly different from the various Kyushu Prefecture sub-regional styled Tonkotsu ramens, which had all originated from Kurume city (Kyushu)  before deviating into their own subtly different versions within Kyushu area itself. This includes versions from Kurume, Beppu, Hakata, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Fukuoka (yes Hakata is  indeed located within Fukuoka, but both versions are slightly different in their noodles formula and condiments used),  etc.    The differences between all of these lie mainly in the soup broth and noodles thickness, and Yokohama style is definitely unique as it is based on a mixture of both Soy Sauce broth and Tonkotsu broth, which would classify it  as a hybrid between Tokyo Soy Sauce based Ramen and what is generally recognised as a typical Kyushu styled Tonkotsu Ramen,.   The Yokohama version's noodle is more yellow and slightly curly, but not as curled as Tokyo ramen or Hokkaido ramen, so it lies somewhere between Kyushu's and Kansai style's white straightened noodles and the more upper North ramen.    

I do apologise if this comes off as slightly confusing, but having lived in the Kanagawa/Yokohama area before, I think it is fair to point out that the lighter Yokohama styled Soy-Tonkotsu ramen (家系ラーメン) is quite sophisticated in terms of both broth and noodles, but generally Kyushu people find it a little weak compared to the various Kyushu styles or the Miso-Tonkotsu style in Sapporo of Hokkaido!    Anyway Mutekiya Ramen in Beijing is  in fact not directly related to its famous name-sake in Tokyo, but it is half owned by a Japanese guy based in Beijing, and previously quite a few Japanese chefs were imported here to train the staff on how to make a proper bowl of Yokohama style Tonkotsu Ramen! 

Looks quite like the real deal in Japan..

Asahi Beer, made in China -
The hop flavour is quite very weird though, it seems very sour and light

Chinese staff on the majority cook & serve here, but they are very serious with the plating. The way they drain the noodles and filter out the scum in the broth is obvious to the naked eye, executed to the degree specified according to the Japanese boss's stringent standards..

Yokohama Styled, Hybrid Soy Sauce-Tonkotsu Ramen -
Their signature noodles dish, which is very good even by Japan mainland standards ~  8/10

Char Siu -
Made quite tender yet not so over-cooked that it falls apart ... quite good

Ramen Noodles -
I thought these weren't as Yokohama-like as I remember but geared more towards the Tokyo or Sapporo style ramen.  But these proved very tasty and were wheaty/eggy and chewy, surprising as these were made in Beijing and probably better than anything of similarly styled noodles in HK.  This is a Ramen shop which is close to matching Japan Yokohama's standards..

Kappa Maki -
Refreshing Cucumber maki sushi, for eating with beer.  Done very well and the seaweed was of high, thick and crunchy quality.  Some people might think the cucumber not being finely julienned is wrong, but you do see both this chunky or julienned versions in Japan anyway..
~   8/10

Address:  朝阳区东三环中路39号建外SOHO东区3号楼
Ph: 010-59001567

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quanjude 全聚德 (Beijing) - ♕♕♕♕

  Despite having been here before many years ago and not as impressed as I'd hoped, I decided to come back to revisit as Quanjude is the benchmark of all Peking Ducks in the world!  In hindsight, the original store of the 150 years old Peking Duck restaurant is not bad at all.  Compared to the rest of the duck trips I'd undertaken, I would say nothing really did stood out from one another amongst the Roasted Duck competitors, whether it be roasted using the Open Fire Oven as in most shops or the Enclosed Ovens used in another famous competitor.  Quanjude's duck however is easily the biggest and fattest/oiliest of them all, but the meat was also relatively moist and had good duck taste, the skin meanwhile was still crispy, though not as much as some of the others.

Inside the renovated, 150 years old Quanjude Restaurant...

Duck being carved expertly. There are 3 Options from which you can choose for the Duck to be carved up, a choice which is not automatically offered in most other Peking Duck restaurants:
  • (1) Cut into Thin Strips, a traditional way
  • (2) Skin and Meat to be sliced separately, which is how some like to eat it.
  • (3) *Cut into 3 Ways, as per most higher end Beijing Shops do it nowadays. Recommended.

Condiments -
loses out slightly to some other shops..

Duck Skin and the Duck Head -
And adding a 1 piece of meat on the plate seems like the ritual at most places?  This is quite crispy and fragrant..

Crepes -
Are the chewy type, not bad. Most shops serve similar quality.. 

Skin with Meat on top and Plain Meat beneath -

Fattiest Peking Duck I've tried, but still acceptable.  Quite moist and had duck meat flavour.
Not bad at all and easily the biggest serving of the once I've tried  (this is Half-a-Duck Portion.)

Duck Soup -
Not a single restaurant offered a soup which had that much duck or tofu taste,
this was no exception.  Strange indeed !  Bit disappointed..

Price:  RMB 150 
Score:  ★★

Address: 北京市前门大街32号

No. 32, Qianmen West Street, Beijing, P.R.China

Ph: 010 6701 1379

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Little Marionette (Sydney) - ♕♕♕♕♕

 This is easily one of my favourite Australian Cafes to be found in Sydney.  Workers are dressed in a sailors looking like uniform, somewhat appropriate as it is located very close to the Balmain ferry port.  The coffee blend is geared towards the milder and sweet, more approachable style of coffee which I think is preferred by Sydney-siders overall,  but the aroma from their house blend is drop dead gorgeous and works equally well as a short black or in a latte based drink.  They also offer a very good decaffe here, which is also roasted fresh and grinded to order..

Always a very crowded cafe, with very limited seats available…

Cappuccino -
My favourite spot to drink their coffee is sitting on the grass on the park opposite… and I am not the only customer doing that as you’ll find dozens of others doing the same and eating their sandwiches and muffins together with the coffee…  Can’t wait to revisit again!   ~ 9/10



Address: 1A Booth Street, Balmain, Sydney, Australia -
Ph: (02) 9810 9728

新園興記燒臘 (Sun Yuen Hing Kee) - ♕♕♕

  This Cantonese Roast Meat shop is located very close to my office, but on the opposite direction of 龍記 (Lung Kee), the roast shop which Anthony Bourdain had visited during his HK filming session.  This place doesn’t miss out on endorsement either as it has recently been included as a recommendation in the 2011 Michelin Guide.   Not that it is very good though ~ it’s roast meat quality is more or less just about average compared to any run of the mill shop.

Michelin Recommended ~  well, I might as well recommend you some alternatives..

Watercress and Dried Veggies Soup -
This was super salty for what is a common type of refreshing soup, with an influence of pork bones.  Completely incomprehensible as to why this was made this way ~  2/10

燒肉叉燒飯 -
The Roast Pork was not bad, but part of the skin no longer crunchy although the meat was moist.  The Char Siu was overly chopped up and dry in comparison.  Why this came with Ginger and Scallion sauce beats me, as I’d not ordered any chicken  ~  6/10


Roast Pork was acceptable, albeit some pieces had a chewy crackling skin.

I ordered Char Siu, out came Chopped Sui which was like little pieces of diced pork bits,
which had very little charred aroma or taste.  Way too dry.

Price: $30-40 per person
Score: ★★★☆☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -   08:00am - 19:45pm
G/F, 327-329 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan
Ph: 2541 2207

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Scotland’s Michelin 2 Star Gleneagles Hotel @ The Chinnery (Hong Kong)


  Scotland’s most famous hotel and the only Michelin 2 Star restaurant, Andrew Fairlie of Gleneagles Hotel recently participated in a Scottish food exchange event at the Hong Kong Mandarin Oriental Hotel for 2 weeks, during which Scottish Chef Alan Gibb was responsible for conjuring up a menu representative of the high qualities experienced at the original Scottish Hotel.  Together with their flown in Pastry Chef and David Sinclair the Bar Manager, a whole team arriving all the way from Perthshire, this was certainly a highly anticipated meal. 


gleneages_hotelGleneagles Hotel, Scotland

   As part of a Media Event and once again thanks to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for the invitation, it was my pleasure to finally meet again locally famous Food Columnists and online Writers alike such as Wilson from Hong Kong WOM Guide, E_ting from LUXE City Guides,  local food columnist Gourmet KC, Peech of A Diary of a Growing Boy and Michelle, another local food lover and blogger like myself.   The one thing which really intrigued me the most was learning about how sophisticated a Scottish meal can become under expert hands,  especially when the pairing of different Scottish Whisky’s as recommended by Bar Manager David with each course of the dinner, ended up like a pairing match in heaven.

P1040046bThe Chinnery Bar, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong

Guinness Stout served in Silver Tankard,
to keep the beer cold.  A Nice touch..

Whisky Mojito Frappe -
A very enjoyable aperitif cocktail


Caol Ila the Manager’s Choice -
Caol Ila in Scottish according to David, means the Voice of the Sea, named after the sea channel which separates the Islay Island where this whisky is made at, from mainland Scotland.  At Cask Strength, it is quite spicy and high in alcohol, but adding water opens up its complexity – with a malty sweetness from ex-bodega sherry cask and just a hint of peatiness, way less smoky than other Islay’s. Very very long finish in the mouth…


Batard Bread -
Served nice and warm with butter


Cullen Skink -
Creamy Smoked Haddock broth is paired with poached quail eggs, parsley and finely brunoised vegetables and potato.  Very creamy and the smoked haddock influence was definitely detectable, and the still runny quail egg added a another dimension to it  ~ 9/10

Loch Ryan – native, from Dumfries and Galloway from Scotland -
Quite metallic and salty, enough to give the tongue a tingling sensation on its own without the vinegary sauce,  this was interestingly paired with a 10 Years Old Talisker whisky from Isle of Skye.  This provided it with a very warm and slight spiciness with just a hint of smokiness, meant to spike up things a bit like a Tabasco sauce  ~  9/10

Findony Haggis, Pars ‘neep’ Mash Fondant and Mousseline Potatoes -
A Scottish national dish and the chosen dish eaten on Robert Burns Day each 25th of January to celebrate the Poet’s birthday, this was cooked in a sheep’s stomach by the kitchen, but in order to preserve a nicer presentation is given to the customer as a haggis quenelled.  How thoughtful!  It is not overly offal-like but coming from a refined Michelin 2 Star kitchen, this was very appropriate.  Paired with a Tullibadine Pedro Ximenez, which is quite sweet and amber looking from the P.X. Cask influence, I poured a bit of this into the Haggis dish directly seeing how the sauce wasn’t already spiked with whisky and it’s the traditional way to eat this dish.  Excellent pairing ~ 9/10


Loch Duart Salmon, Lightly Smoked with Sherry Pickled Vegetable -
This was highly enjoyable with just the right amount of smokiness, very fatty although slightly over-done in the centre.  Surprisingly topped with a Chinese vegetable and fried rice noodles lookalike, with some pickled vegetables beneath.   Paired with a 12 Years Old Highland Park from up the Northern tip of Scotland, this was quite smoky for a Highland/Speyside whisky although its nowhere near the intensity of Islay offerings.  This was florally fragrant  ~  7.5/10


Seaweed fed Lamb Shoulder, Thyme and Honey Roasted Roots -
Hebridean black lambs are partially fed on a seaweed diet, which should give it a special umami taste.  The lamb shoulder is marinated as a whole, then sliced thin and quickly braised during each customer’s order.  Roasted Parsnip and carrots with a herbed potato mash made this a hearty wintery meal, topped with a Talisker Whisky jelly by the chef, as it is meant to marry well with the saltiness of the seaweed fed lamb ~ 8/10


Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee -
This came with some brandy snaps and raspberry, the vanilla creme was smooth and eggy, with a lot of vanilla influence.  I thought the brulee top was slightly too crunchy but this was quite good overall.  The pairing with a pre-frozen Dalwhinnie 15 years old whisky from the Lowlands but near enough Speyside was interesting with its higher viscosity, something normally associated with sweet wines  ~ 7.5/10

Butterscotch Tart, Ginger and Vanilla Custard, Grapefruit with Passionfruit Coulis,
Whisky Jelly and Icing Sugar Lime Peels with Double Cream Ice-Cream -
The tart was excellent with a lovely pastry crust and brulee top, the vanilla and ginger custard worked seemingly in harmony.  Pastry chef smartly included a few other acidic components to cancel out the richness of the dessert.  Amazing stuff ~ 10/10

Tablet -
Scottish fudge with a crumbly texture, very good. Paired with another Cask Strength Dailuaine the Manager's Choice, this was very spicy for a Speyside but simultaneously very florally fragrant, more so than the above Caol Ila which was more mellow and malty in comparison.  Adding a bit of water toned the spiciness down, but it holds its appeal next to the tablets as a contrasting pairing ~ 9/10

P1040351bScottish Ginger Cake -
Topped with a fondant, this was surprisingly not very sweet nor too spiced, very refined compared to say a Marzipan Stollen, its next of kin.  Loved it.  ~ 9/10

Espresso -
A little thin and ashy for my liking, but the smokiness kind of works with the rest of tonight’s whisky theme, doesn’t it?   (This was actually spread over 2 nights for me, as I’d revisited on the final day before the team leaves as I really enjoyed their food.  Hope to visit their Hotel 1 day too!)

The Chinnery’s Whisky Shelf

Designed just like a Scottish bar, except during normal times hours,
it serves more as a British bar!




Address: Mandarin Oriental Hotel,
5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong.  1st Floor The Chinnery.
Ph: 2522 0111


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