Saturday, April 30, 2011

泉昌美食 (Chuen Cheong Foods) - ♕♕♕♕

  Stinky Tofu these days are much more approachable compared to the past, I would say!  Although found in most parts of China, the Hong Kong Cantonese version is always fried.     I remember eating them years before and they literally smells like the biggest fart from a fat dude having too much refried beans, but nowadays stinky tofu is milder than even factory manufactured “boxed” Japanese Natto,  let alone the artisanal  Leaf Wrap Fermented Natto (苞納豆) more popular in the past.  


is one of the more famous shops for Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐) in Wanchai, but one of their more interesting specialty & which not many people know about, is their other rarer to find,  Fried Fish Balls (炸魚蛋)..


Front Counter selling manufactured Fish Balls, or Curry ‘rubbery’ Squid -
I think I’ll pass on these today, thx… they’re just gap fillers !!


Fried Stinky Fermented Tofu  (臭豆腐) -
This is pretty good, but surprisingly are cut up into 2 smaller pieces.  Not very stinky however, which some will think is not the real deal.  Well, people nowadays are eating boxed and manufactured, non-藁苞納豆, and think it is the real deal anyway…  Its hard to judge!  ~  8/10

Fried Fish Balls (炸魚蛋) & Fried Fish Paste in Capsicum  (釀青椒) -
You can find the latter in a lot of street stalls, and may be they’ll even be less oily and taste better than here!   But the Fried Fish Balls are what customers come for, together with the Stinky Tofu.   Its pretty ok  !  ~  7/10


You can get similar food in Mongkok,
but they’re much dirtier and there’s no room to sit and eat.  This Wanchai shop, makes for a good spot for a quick snack !  And it’s very traditionally Hong Kong!



Price: $16 Per Person
Food Score: ★★★★☆☆
Opening Hours:
Mon to Fri  -    13:00pm  -  21:00pm 
Sat             -    14:00pm  -  21:00pm

Address:  灣仔灣仔道150號D舖
Shop D, 150 Wanchai Road, Wan Chai
Ph: 2575 8278

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ristorante Pizzeria Tudini (Rome, Italy) - ♕♕

   The weather in Rome was absolutely flooding the city when I arrived, and I encountered trouble finding my hotel(s), let alone finding some gelaterie or restaurants I had on my to-do list.  It was getting late and instead of heading off to the outskirts or more popular night areas, I walked into one of the simpler Restaurant-Pizzeria near the Termini Station, and from memory there are 2 Tudini’s in the area.  This restaurant was completely packed and people were waiting in line from outside.    The strangest thing, was seeing how everybody around me seemed to be enjoying their meals here tremendously, including 2 Japanese ladies I walked into here with together (who both said the meal was fantastic).   Perhaps the food taste here is designed to cater for overseas tourists?  I would never have dined here, if I really got the chance to explore around the city…  it was absolutely horrible food.

They all attach the Pizzeria tag to the name,
I do wonder if this attracts more tourists in?

Some Olive Oil, Balsamic and Red Wine Vinegar -

Bread Basket -
Cold bread is the norm, and so are pre-packaged super-hard Grissini. 
We’re 身在福中不知福..!! Smile with tongue out   ~  5/10

Some Red Wine, by the Carafe -

Spaghetti alle Vongole  (€ 10) -
Personally, didn’t want to order the Carbonara/Amatriciana/Arrabbiata (or Cacio e Pepe) varieties, and seeing it was Tuesday, ordered this harder to cook right Clams pasta.  The spaghetti was cooked al-dente perfectly, but the clams quality for a Tuesday was suspect and there weren’t even the shells attached.  Without the shells, there’s little clam-juice flavour either, and this was super-hot in chili taste and garlic.  Told the waiter to come pick it off the table after 2 bites.  Horrible  ~  2/10

Bistecca di bue ai ferri  (€12) -
Wanted to order Trippa alla Romana and was told they’d run out.  Same with their Stracciatella soup.  Ended up ordering a steak so I can gauge the quality of Italian beef, since you can’t eat Italian beef outside of Italy easily and I can make a comparison to a later Steak meal at Nino Ristorante.   This was griddled cooked and pretty average.  Those living in Australia could be proud of their cheap local Italian steaks served at the family oriented La Porchetta chains.  ~  4/10


Really strange indeed, to see people highly enjoying their meals here… Sad smile



Price: €35 Per Person including VAT
Food Score: ★★

Address: Via Cavour, 49-51-52, Roma 00184, Italy
Ph: 06 4743905

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

亮亭 らーめん処 (Ryo Tei) - ♕♕♕ 1/2

  I was scanning thru Facebook one day and noticed Peech from “A Diary of a Growing Boy, saying that he has just been to 亮亭 (Ryo Tei Ramen).  At that very instant I became a bit confused as to where he had actually eaten this ramen bowl, since that is the name of one of best Ramen Shops in Sydney of Australia for quite a number of years and which I’ve been to a few times!   It turns out Ryo Tei in HK is really opened by a local investor in collaboration with their Japanese partners from Sydney in Crow’s Nest.   A strange sight to see in Hong Kong indeed, to have a ramen shop imported from Australia rather than from Japan directly!   From my experience of eating in Sydney, which might be already 2 years too outdated to those still living there, there are at least 3-4 Ramen Shops which come highly recommended.  Ryo-Tei was probably one of the earlier pioneers in terms of bringing pretty authentic ramen to the Sydney dining scene, but the late comers I’ve also eaten at which might include Menya or Ton-Ton (opened by the local, very famous and high quality Azuma restaurant group) were probably hitting on its territory or beyond.  So how good is this version served in Hong Kong you ask, when compared to the likes of locally well established Sapporo Ramen, an ever improving Butao, Michelin 1 Star Mist Ramen, or the equally new ramen star Hide-Chan plus its original store in Sydney? 




The Layout is ok, it does seem to remind me of Western Country Japanese decoration for some reason…  but that won’t be the core of my judgment of the end result!

豚骨醤油ラーメン (Tonkotsu Pork Bone and Soy Sauce Ramen) -
Although claiming to serve authentic 福岡 Fukuoka style Ramen, in reality those who’ve been to the original Sydney store will know it’s their Tonkotsu and Soy Sauce ramen which is the most famous.  And to be honest .. I didn’t find this to be overly authentically Kyushu (九州) in style, even when taking into consideration the numerous macro Kyushu style ramen’s available.  The Egg (煮たまご) was also grossly overcooked, and not likely to please the HK palates.  It’s something I don’t remember from my eating journeys in their Sydney main store.   ~   6.9/10

Feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken please but from my distant memory, using Naruto-maki fish cakes in a Kyushu Ramen bowl is so much of an overseas, Westernised thing?  I cannot acutely remember ever having the fish-cake in any ramen’s I’ve eaten in Kyushu, and I’ve been there quite a numerous times for personal reasons hmmm...  And this so-called Kyushu styled Tonkotsu-Shoyu ramen bowl also arrived without any Red Ginger (紅生姜) or Black Fungus (きくらげ), which is what most Kyushu style Tonkotsu ramens would do by default…


Noodles -
As mentioned earlier, this soup base is more Yokohama Tonkotsu style than Kyushu Tonkotsu style in my personal opinion, much like my better executed ramen bowl served at Beijing’s Muteki-ya.   The noodles here also supports this theory, as these were whitish yet too thick and too thick-bouncy in texture.  It’s definitely North-Eastern Japanese orientated.   The noodles are definitely not as good as the more curly and thinner Sydney’s version, not to mention it is not authentically Kyushu.  And what are those チンゲン菜 vegetables doing in that bowl anyway? 

Tables & Seating -
I thought the Char Siu and Soup were pretty ok indeed, but I just didn’t walk out of here feeling like I’ve had a truly Fukuoka styled ramen experience!   Despite being half-an-Australian, I’ll have to say that Ryo-Tei of Hong Kong really will need to boost up their recipe and their acts together in order to really compete with the best of their competition.  Its not bad mind you, but it certainly wasn’t very revelationary when compared side-by-side with other places in context.


Price: $90 – $100 Per Person
Score: ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun 12:00pm - 15:00pm,  17:30pm – 20:30pm
Address: 上環禧利街15號地下
15 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong.
Ph: 2546 2828

Monday, April 25, 2011

Xiguan Congee & Noodle (西關粥麵) - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

  There’s been a few Wonton & Sui Gao Noodles and Congee shop openings, despite the concept being nearly beaten to death.  Not that it is necessarily a bad thing!  Two of these new shops even went to the trouble of replicating the historical traditional shop set up by making their noodle-cakes using Bamboo sticks via Manual Labour, which very few traditional shops still practice.   雲吞麵大王 was promising on paper but quite  disastrous in results.  Xiguan Congee and Noodles in the meanwhile hits closest to home (and IS close to home!), even though they source their noodles from a reputed manufacturer!  *This shop is unrelated to the same named shop in Yuen Long.


Xiguan Noodles and Congee -
History:  Xiguan (西關)
from Guangzhou of China is famous for both of these Cantonese items…  The story goes that back in the days, Xiguan noodle & congee stalls were bannered up with the words of 三楚, which literally translates into something related to the 湖南 hunan and 湖北 hubei provinces, where Northern style wontons (混沌) and sui gao (水餃) were invented before being transferred to the South, before then reinvented into a Cantonese version. 

Interior is pretty clean -

Jelly Fish -
Right amount of sesame oil.  Crunchy.  Very nice ~  8/10

Pickled Vegetables -
Apart from being quite appetizing,  the acidity in these pickles is used to cancel out the noodles alkalinity..  Not too sour nor too spicy, these weres made very well  ~ 8/10

Wonton and Sui Gau Dumplings in Noodles -
This was pretty good, even better than 麥兆記 just around the corner from here.  The noodles are made as per 西關 (Xiguan, Guangzhou) tradition which involves Lychee Wood based Alkaline, which infuses both aroma as well as a more bounciful texture!  These noodles were very surprising to me, as it was both eggy and also carried the right texture, easily better than most shops I’ve tried many times including the bluffing 雲吞麵大王 .  Definitely one of the better ones around town… Soup had a good enough balance between pork bones, prawn roes, prawn shells and dried flounder fish, but could do with more of the latter two! Noodles wise ~  9/10

Wontons -
There were made with a fluffy cloud-like pastry skin.  The prawns to me were crunchy but carried a slight but not overly obvious baking-soda influence and taste and also had pork.  This might be compromised in formula, but overall it was generally acceptable  ~  6.9/10

Sui Gao Dumpling -
HK and Canton Region
are famous for Wontons, but one shall never forget the equally important Cantonese Sui Gao.  For some reason the latter has become slightly neglected, but true Wonton lovers will always respect Sui Gao as well and that’s why I always order the combo’ed version whenever is possible!   These were better than the wontons in this shop, with an even distribution of fungus, prawn, pork and bamboo shoots.    ~   7.5/10

Deep Fried Beef Briskets $36 -
Multiple Michelin Starred Restaurants offer the same dish at 400% mark up and claim it as their Signature Dish.  The version here does not lose to them.  Although just a tad fatty as most briskets/flanks/plates can become, this was fried to the perfect non-oily state and was tender and full of beef flavours.   ~  9/10

Pork and Thousand Year Old Egg Congee -
Way too gluey in texture, but taste wise was quite good.
But overall texture unsatisfactory ~   3/10

Chinese Cruller -
Freshly fried, much better than the congee above,
the only weakness so far encountered ~  7/10



Price: $45 – $60 Per Cake
Score: ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun 11:30am - 23:00pm

Address: 天后威菲路道2-10號6B地下
Shop 6B, 2-10 Whitfield Road, Tin Hau
Ph: 2566 1820

Thomas Trillion Patisserie - ♕♕♕ 1/2

  We were just discussing about Desserts on Facebook, and inevitably the question came up of whether the cake and dessert’s aesthetics should over-shadow the expected right taste and texture.  Thomas Lui, probably the most awarded Hong Kong Pastry Chef with numerous medals and awards under his belt (read here) is one of the rare pastry chefs who believes in what’s considered the opposite to the basic rule of  ‘form shall follow function’.   To him, who is also a trained and award winning Chocolatier, the colours and design of the cakes and chocolate art pieces are what distinguishes him from his competition… Online reviews about him have seen mixed feedbacks.  While some rave about his beautiful creations, others prefer places like Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop, Tony Wong, even Chez Shibata.  To be fair, the latter have cakes which are probably easier to assemble than what Thomas does.  But for me, anything that is to be eaten must also possess edible qualities at least matching or transcending its external appearance.   So yes, I think Thomas could potentially become a very successful “Architect”…  At least you don’t need to eat the buildings!


In Tin Hau -
Thomas used to work for The Mira’s cake shop,
before opening his own.

Cake Display -
Sneaky pic as you cannot take photos here Smile with tongue out

Mini Lotti  $45 -
A new creation from Thomas, this has a chocolate sponge centre, a chocolate crisp, and a yuzu jam sponge, and decorated with some beautiful chocolate pieces and ganache glazing coating. This was unfortunately, very ‘hard’ in its texture even when out of the fridge for a while.  ~  6.5/10

Mini Rosenana  $45 -
This is one of Thomas’s first signature desserts created for his new shop.  With a spray-painted and drilled chocolate dome, inside you’ll find up to 6-7 different textures including strawberry yogurt, mango, chocolate mousse, sponge cake on top of a streusel.   But as soon as I tried to cut the cake, the dome fell right off and exposing an ordinary bottom-half.  This ate ok but was a bit too messy for my liking ~  7/10

Hilary  $60 -
Another new creation by Thomas, this looked amazing in real life. Green Tea and Mango cube filled with fruit jellies, sits on top a painted chocolate piece, on top of a super-hard sponge base which really distracted from what could have been a brilliant cake.  ~   6.5/10




Price: $45 – $60 Per Cake
Score: ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sunday  11:00am - 20:00pm
Address:      天后永興街17號凱旋樓地下
G/F Triumphant Court, 17 Wing Hing Street, Tin Hau
Ph: 2806 0332

Sunday, April 24, 2011

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Michelin 2 **

  Chef Umberto Bombana is synonymous with being coined the “Alba White Truffle King” in the Hong Kong dining circle, ever since his time heading the kitchen at the old Toscana.   His latest venture 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo  made one of the most impressive restaurant debuts locally as shortly after just months of opening, it already managed to gain itself a coveted 2 Michelin Stars status.  Impressive indeed.  But is this justifiable?    For me, after 1 visit ordering their Lunch Set Menu @ around $390 with Cheese Platter and another visit ordering their Alba White Truffle Degustation @ $980 (same course during lunch and dinner),  I must stress that one of the stronger points about here is that executions of each and every dish I’d eaten  so far have been immaculate and perfectly cooked.    Although one might expect this to be the case in most fancier restaurants around town, so far even counting in the likes of well seasoned Amber and Caprice, or the Robuchon’s and Petrus and alike, none of the other places managed to pull together this flawless feat.   


IMG_7304The downside?   Otto e Mezzo can be boring and disengaging sometimes to haute cuisine regulars, as despite the courses being cooked to an exemplary standard, the supporting garnitures and the overall presentation or even the recipes themselves can be rather averagely ho-hum in concept – never mind that they somehow ended up tasting great in the end!   Not really worthy of 2 Stars status in my personal opinion, but definitely worth at least 1 Star

HamCheeseRoombCheese and Deli Cool Room -


Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar -

Bread Basket -
The grissini is light and one of the best in town, the focaccia is subtly herbed.  Served warmish, this is one of the better Italian bread baskets in town..  ~  8/10


Citrus Marinated Lobsters,  with Ratte Potato and Autumn Truffle Salad -
Lobster was cooked perfectly, and seasoned well.  The Autumn Truffle was disappointing however as it wasn’t really fragrant nor had taste, it is even worst than Chinese Black Truffles.  If I was the chef here, I wouldn’t let them out of the kitchen.  Overall, a clean starter ~  7/10

Roast Duck Foie Gras, Pear and Eggplant Compote, Port Wine Sauce -
This was cooked to the perfect degree, and had the right gaminess in the liver.  The compote and pear were also done nicely, but to me this was too sweet, but my dining companion was fine with it.  This was probably one of the finest foie gras I’ve eaten except the sugary hit ~  8/10



Chef Bombana Shaving some Alba White Truffle for us - 
He never uses the Tuscany variety, which are slightly inferior as it is of a different DNA.


Krafuss Pinot Noir 2006, Alois Lageder -
Ordered a glass of an earthy red Pinot, to pair with the next White Truffle dish.
White Truffle usually CANNOT be paired with White Wines, don’t be fooled by the similar colour tones.  I’ve seen a lot of people committing this by assuming like-colours work together but in reality either the acidity or the sweetness in white wines completely kills the subtle White Truffle aroma and taste profile.   Only lighter bodied and earthier Reds will work..

Home Made Tagliolini with Alba White Truffle -
The white truffle was shaved generously, but it was OBVIOUS this batch wasn’t overly fragrant.  I’ve had meals in the past when every time the White Truffle was whipped out and shown to potential customers wanting a supplementary shaving, the whole 100+ Square Meter room suddenly becomes filled with a pungent white truffle fragrance, and that’s how powerful they should be compared to even Winter Perigord Truffle!  I could hardly smell this today, even when the truffle metal container was literally next to me, and even when eaten from the bowl of perfectly cooked tagliolini this was rather weak.  The al dente pasta was very eggy, but also had too much strongish cheese influence.  Very very disappointed in this rendition that day, especially with the truffle quality ~  6/10

Tajima Short Rib & Beef Tenderloin, Red Wine and Plum Sauce, Whipped Potato -
The composition of this dish was boring for a Michelin 2 Star restaurant, its like any other Western restaurant out there.  But the slow-cooked short ribs were excellent, even better than the tenderloin and everything was cooked perfectly albeit it seemed like we expected more from it somehow!   ~  8/10

Colorado Rack of Lamb, Artichoke Puree, Black Olive and Lamb Jus -
This was magnificent.  I cannot believe how good this lamb rack tasted, it was tender without being mushy, has just the right amount of gaminess and was evenly cooked.  The artichoke puree and black olives worked well with this.  I still think this dish was slightly boring for a 2 Star restaurant however, but there is no doubt this was one of the best lamb dishes I’ve had ~


Rum Baba -
This is mostly a French dessert but for some reason I keep eating the Italian rendition lately.  This is the ONLY Rum Baba I’ve had in HK which tastes like it should, with the right spongey texture and rum influence.  Paired with rum and raisin ice cream.  Serving it in a glass is not entirely old-school styled, but neglecting this and appreciating it for what it is, it was excellently executed.   ~  8/10

Petits Fours -
I was tempted to call these Pasticcini but they look like modernised petits fours/mignardises.  Average only ~  6.5/10

Espresso -
I complained about this last time and this time, it was finally made pretty well on their V.A. Adonis.  A good finish ~  8/10



***************Previous Lunch Dishes which were Executed Well ****************

Grilled Tuna on Eggplant Salad, Confit ‘Amalfi’ Lemon, Black Olive and Tomato Dressing -
This tasted way better than it looks… and was perfectly executed.  ~  9/10

Home Made Spaghetti “Alla Chitarra”, Guanciale Ham and Seafood Ragout -
Perfectly al dente, with a rich seafood sauce enhanced by the fatty pork cheek ham. One of the most perfect pasta’s I remember having ~  9/10


Aged Cheese Platter with Figs & Cherries by Umberto -
Bra Duro, Quartirolo Lombardo, Stracchino, Sottocenere al tartufo, Castelmagno ~  7/10



Price: $390 Lunch Per Person + 10%
           $980 Dinner Per Person + 10%, plus Wine
Lunch Score: ★★★★☆☆

Dinner Score: ★★★★☆☆

Opening Hours -
Mon to Sunday  12:00am - 22:00pm
Address:  中環德輔道中5-17號歷山大廈2樓202號舖
Shop 202, 2/F, Alexandra House, 5-17 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Ph: 2537 8859


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