Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sake Bar Ginn 地酒処 吟 (Hong Kong) - ♕♕♕♕♕

  The Sake concept in general is to me more about the refinement ratio of rice, known as seimai buai (精米歩合) and it is quite different from other drinks like fine Wines and Whiskies.  This new Sake Bar Ginn has a sake sommelier Ayuchi Momose who looks after your sake needs during the night visit,  and it is fun to explore different styles of sakes.  A good way to start off the night here is ordering a trio flight of sakes from the same sake brand but made up of various rice refinement ratios or fermentation techniques, etc.  



Food Menu -
Some of the food items here probably work better with Shochu than Sake,
but the staff here knows which sake might pair better with which food!



Shichida Flight Set -  HKD $126
You start with the more refined and delicate,  the most expensive glass first… then gradually work your way backwards to the Junmai.    I am a bit biased towards sakes in general so I think I shouldn’t comment too much on this subject,  but the experiment can be quite educational.




Narutodai Flight Set – $110
It is actually priced quite fairly,  although to drink better sakes,
it is advised to order those by the carafe.



Fried Mochi Cake with Cheese & Garlic $60
This was surprisingly lovely and light,  not the chewy type we are used to eating in town.  Addictive stuff and add a pinch of that garlic salt provided.   ~  10/10



Tengumai Yamahai Junmai  天狗舞 純米 – $118
This sake has an SMV of +3,  making it neutral between Dryness and Sweetness,  so it is quite balanced and carrying a slight fresh floral note,  but most importantly this was suggested by the staff to pair with the above fried mochi dish -  it worked!




Sake Stewed Pork Belly (豚の角煮) -  $45/pc
This was decent but not fantastic,  as we can’t taste much of the sake nor even mirin… I ended up pouring in some Junmai sake from my previous sake flight,  like I would eat Haggis with added whisky,  and this time it made the sauce more interesting.  The pork was ok tender but the fat wasn’t the transparent jelly type.   Could be better ~  6.9/10




photo (2)I like this Sakedokoro place,  and it is very reasonably priced yet very professional - 
Will definitely be back.  Although the seats are filling fast nowadays,  so book it in advance, even though they are not exactly the kind of seats that will be nice to your back!





Price: $150 – $250
Ease of Access:   4/5   Found in Lan Kwai Fong
Rating:  ♕♕♕♕♕ 

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thu 5pm - 12 am kitchen close, but open until late
Fri to Sat  5pm - 2am kitchen close

Address: 中環蘭桂坊德己立街38-44號好利商業大廈4C
4C, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central
Ph: 2536 4355

Friday, March 30, 2012

Macallan Whisky Bar (Macau, Galaxy Hotel) - ♕♕♕♕♕♕

  There are a few interesting Whisky Bars popping up around Hong Kong,  including some Japanese ones which reign supreme with their spherical shaped ice balls and an international selection of whiskies,  or an old favourite such as The Canny Man.    The more recent addition of Macallan Bar in Macau is probably the  most sophisticated of them all and carrying a most diversified range.   On top of the normal Scottish or Japanese whiskies are rarer to find French or Indian whiskies,   and some of the bottles here are very exclusive and include back vintages such as a 1963 Glemorangies which will put a $2000 a glass dent in your pocket.  The beautiful Macallan 57 Year Old Lalique is also found sitting on the shelf but not for sale. 



Inside the Bar,
A surprisingly very cozy setting for customers to sit back and enjoy..



There is even a real Fire place here !
It’s like having a whisky at someone’s home in Scotland..




Macallan 57 Year Old Lalique  -
A few very rare to find bottles here,  but none looks as pretty as this collaborated bottle with a French crystal maker.   Not for sale,  but there are other exclusive bottles available for drinking if you feel like splurging out..




Ardberg 10 Years Old  (MOP $130)
&  Macallan 21 year old fine oak ($250) -
The Ardberg 10 Y.O. has won Whisky of the year before but I’ve never understood why,  and a revisit this time showed peatiness and disinfectant with a liquorice sweetness but flat,  it simply isn’t the best Islay around.   The Macallan 21 Year Fine Oak was much better but less amber than usual,  probably because of the shorter stint in the Sherry oak compared to its time in American oak barrrels.  Slightly spicy and toffee like with just a hint of fruit, a buttery finish.  Not bad and very unusual for a Macallan..  




Some Nuts are included..
Unlike some Japanese bars,  they don’t charge extra money here.. 
This Whisky room has recreated a nostalgic feel of a Scottish home,
and has taken no shortcuts from decoration to the range of whiskies available.
A must visit when coming past Macau again..


Price: MOP or HKD $150 – $400
Ease of Access:   3/5  Take bus or taxi to Galaxy Casino Hotel from Ferry port
Rating:  ♕♕♕♕♕♕  (The whisky range and back vintages available is amazing, but too expensive for me to explore them all..)

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thurs 5:00pm - 1:00am
Fri to Sat 5:00pm – 2:00am
Sun  Closed

Address: 路氹城望德聖母灣大馬路澳門銀河, 銀河酒店2樓203 號
Ph:  (853) 8883 2221

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Enoteca Sileno Vino Bar & Cucina (Melbourne) – ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

  Enoteca Sileno came highly recommended by an Italian foodie clients of ours,  and for quite a number of years it was providing the local Italian immigrants a taste of authentic imported selections either for sale as take away,  or for dining in,  especially their rarer to find Italian cheeses, wines and candied fruits.  It is otherwise off the radar of many locals for some unknown reasons,  I suspect due to a lack of press coverage!?    Knowing Melbourne however and also in general Australia,   many food items can still become just a tad localised or reinterpreted when it comes to their kitchen’s cooked food items.   On the menu you will still find a Spaghetti al Ragú Bolognese,  which really isn’t exactly the most loyal replica of the famous Bologna dish.   Although I treasure taste and occasionally creativity over authenticity,  sometimes I adhere to my inner stubbornness too much and believe that some dishes should really ought to be named in a historically accurate fashion!! 




P1200117-1P1200115-1A Wine Bar with a Restaurant and Wine Bar side, 
and a dedicated Take-Away section.    Reminds me a bit of Richmond Hill Café & Larder 




Restaurant Side -




Pretty Decent Bread and EVO -




A Cauliflower Cappuccino to start with -




Mini Panzarotti filled with Pork Sausage, Broccoli, Tomato and Basil -  AUD $9
The external crust was a bit too hard,  which is a little bit disturbing for what is considered a mini Calzone.   The inside filling and a side of diced tomatoes and herbs was decent.  ~  6.9/10




Decent Filling -



Caramelised Ox Tongue, Blood Orange and Shallot Salad – AUD $10
Look back at the price,  this place is actually quite a bargain!    The ‘lingua’ tongue was cooked really well and worked quite well with the condiments.  Nicely presented too ~  9/10




Risotto of Vialone Nano rice, with New Season Asparagus – $26
The server divided our dish into 2 dishes for sharing by default.  Some photo bloggers would loathe about this arrangement but to be fair it means they are paying attention to the customers needs.   This was cooked quite well to the right degree and the new asparagus were quite flavourful.  Didn’t think this dish’s recipe is out of this world but the execution was good enough.  ~  7/10




Baladin Spuma Nera -
A slightly sparkling Italian drink that is fruity yet bitter,  like an Amaro but more approachable than a straight Campari with similar characters!   Quite unique ~  8/10





Daily Specials -
There are higher end Italian fine diners in town,  but Enoteca Sileno is more of a smart-casual type of Vino Bar.   At this price point it is doing quite well indeed and with decent food executions.  I like here,  but I am not so sure about you…   (We are all born different and appreciate different things!)




Price:  AUD $35 – $50
Ease of Access:   3.5/5 (Not far from Tram Stop but a bit remotely located)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours:
Tues-Sat 8am until late
Sun 8am – 3pm

Address: 920 Lygon St Carlton North
Ph:  (03) 9389 7070

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cruzao Arepa Bar (Melbourne) - ♕♕♕♕

   A pretty new Venezuelan restaurant popped up and was our 2nd destination after sharing yet another charcoal grilled Souvlaki nearby (Yes, real charcoal grilled. Rare to find these days but there are 2 shops on this street doing it and they smell fantastic with pyrolysed fat).   I love South American style food and although not overly familiar with it despite my work being involved with this continent,  there’s always an excuse to be exploratory..




Found on the famous Brunswisk Street around 15 mins by Tram from the City -
You can also find  Eat Drink Man Woman,  Naked for SatanDe Clieu Café etc plus a few other shops I have visited but not covered so far…   But this street is one of the major attractions of Melbourne and is definitely a must visit in town.   And the 1-2 streets running perpendicular or horizontal to here also hold many surprises! 




Caipirinha made with Cachaca, Lime and Sugar - 
A fairly typical Brazil based drink..




Guarapita Andina made with Aguardiente, Sugar Cane, Lemon, etc -
More of a Venezuela drink this time,
matching the restaurant’s theme..


Palmito Salad -
With Palm Hearts and Artichokes,  Tomatoes, etc.  Pretty decent and appetizing.




(Pork Leg)  Pernil Cachapas -
Maize pancakes are a typical Venezuelan cuisine and it is just lovely,  I could eat these all day.. Comes with queso guayanesa cheese.




Some Salsa Verde/Picante for scooping and mixing with the food -




A Platito of Arepa buns,  Pelua shredded beef,  Dominó Black beans and White Feta,   Queso Quayanesa Cheese,  Guasacaca Avocado spread, etc.  -
A popular staple food in Venezuela and surrounding countries which speaks Spanish dialects, the buns are filled with the meat and beans and cheeses. 




My Arepa -
Love it !




There’s even a guy singing on the night!

Price:  AUD $20 - 35
Ease of Access:   3/5 (Not far from Tram Stop)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon - Thurs 11am-3pm & 6pm-11pm
Fri 11am-3pm & 6pm-1am
Sat 11am-1am
Sun 9am-4pm

Address:  365 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Victoria 3065
Ph:  (03)9417 7871

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hobba Coffee & Kitchen (Melbourne) - ♕♕♕ 1/2

  Hobba is a Melbourne café that was initially very enjoyable but probably couldn’t maintain the standards across the board over several visits.   The chef used to work under the regime of highly regarded,  3 Hatted Vue du Monde,  and you certainly see shadows of very similar cooking techniques and recipes inherited from the VdM or Café Vue camp.   The group also owns other notable cafes in town and they have a group of loyal followers!    Coffee is/was supplied by Five Senses,  who naturally also provides support for their expensive 2011 spec Synesso Hydra machine,  which from my drinking adventures around town is very capable of making world beating perfect shots!    Hobba’s biggest problem is that it promises on paper way more than it really delivers in the result,  especially reading that extraordinary and thoughtful menu.   They could really do with employing someone to QC their food and coffee and do some taste tests..  



Hobba Café -
Not exactly so out of the way, but not that easy to find for a non-local without a car either.  In fact not that far away from Dukes Coffee Roaster around the corner only 7-8 minutes walk.  


Daily Specialty Coffees roasted and supplied by 5 Senses -
The Single Origin estate coffees seemed decent and unique from most cafes in town.
The house blend was more geared towards the milk coffee crowd and sometimes changes..




Cappuccino without Chocolate Powder ‘Dark Horse Blend’ -
This coffee was really great and came with a 8-9 leaf symmetrical tulip latte art.  I distinctly remembered  this cup’s flavour as being dark sugary,  animal fur, and blackberries and date like.  Quite likable.  Made by the Barista in the above 2nd pic…   ~ 10/10





Espresso,  of the same Dark Horse  (House Blend) -
Similarly very balanced yet jumping out in your face stuff.  More suitable for milk coffees but still balanced enough as an espresso.  Bring it on anytime!   8/10





Piccolo Latte -
On another day,  with the same espresso base blend. 
This was ok,  but the espresso base was a little too sterile weak...



Caffe Latte  (Dark Horse blend again)  -
Too weak and like the above Piccolo Latte lacked layering,  especially when compared to my first visit here.   If I haven’t had the really great coffees above using the same blend.  I would have CONCLUDED that this blend simply wasn’t great…   but after having 2 really high quality coffees I expected some sort of continuity, despite a diff barista on duty or likelihood of beans batch inconsistency!   ~  5/10




P1220338-1Cappuccino -
Too weak in flavours again.  Yet way more earthier and unbalanced than before… like an unbalanced commercial style coffee  ~  6/10




Nicaraguan Santa Martha coffee (Aeropress) -
I remembered this to be average.  I can never pinpoint if it is a beans, roaster or barista issue or a combination nowadays,  as it takes many experiments to eliminate the variables.   But this was a bit muted and merely showing any interesting characters  ~   6/10




Smashed Avocado, Persian Feta Cheese, Grain Sourdough with Slow Poached Egg -
The egg is sous vide cooked,  borrowing from Café Vue’s technique.  It sounded promising but somehow there wasn’t much egg whites and the yoll result was way too runny.  The egg was small and there was only one,  unlike the press photos.  Don’t fix what’s not broken, especially when it fares worse in performance,  and just bring back the good old poached eggs anytime!   The Persian feta blended avocado was gamily  refreshing,  but it was mainly that very tiny, coldish and too runny an egg which really let this dish down  ~  6/10



Warilda Belted Galloway Beef Burger,  with Pickles, Cheddar, Iceberg Lettuce & Chips – $16
This expectedly was a smallish elegant type of burger,  also borrowed from Café Vue..   The chips were commercial ones unlike their hand-cut counterparts but decent.   The burger sounded promising but there wasn’t much beef taste and the bun was under toasted,  compared to Café Vue or the equally miniature burger at Trunk.   If you intend to replicate your ex-exployer’s burger and make it so small in the process,  at least make the equivalent quality of one.   ~   6.5/10



Not bad,
But beef had little taste and the buns became a bit soggy…  


Canele -
Quite a few cafes get their caneles from the same supplier in Melbourne, which is largely inconsistent as I found out…  Generally they lack that vanilla and rum taste,  and only when you receive the darker coloured ones will you get that authentic caramel crunch.  This one here today was soft,  not reheated and tasted weak.   The ones from Dench Bakery or Innocent Bystander were a notch above here,  and this particular one is not remotely close to the French ones in taste and texture  (but sometimes they make better ones).   ~   3/10



Bali Kintamani Espresso -
May be I was expecting miracles from an Indonesian coffee that wasn’t from Sumatra,  and I’ve had some great single estate coffees from Indonesia.  But recommended by the barista on duty, out came an Indonesian single origin which tasted exactly like a Sumatran and not really suitable as an espresso,  but more suitable for base blending…   ~   6/10




Another Piccolo Latte,  on a 3rd Visit -
Even weaker than before…  and equally too earthy with a steep sourness drop off despite the milkiness.    ~   4/10


After several visits,
I was flabbergasted that my first visit was actually the best experience,  as that coffee was very excellent..   but other visits yielded average or below average beverages.   What is eerie is that this is reminiscent of my numerous re-visits to Auction Rooms.   But at least the food there was great everytime despite the many weakish coffees.     The menu sounded VERY promising with ingenious recipes,  but perhaps we ordered 2 of the weaker dishes.   The slow cooked egg, singular, simply didn’t work and for that matter my similar egg in Café Vue was actually better.  And my burger was also much better at the latter…   And visiting here you also naturally draw comparison with Dukes Coffee Roasters’ unbeatable egg dishes just 5 mins away.


Breakfast Tea -
We actually ordered tea instead 1 day, 
we just wanted to stay away from the coffee for once.  We caught glimpses of hope for a perfect coffee before,  but don’t know what had happened ever since…





Price:  AUD $4 to $25
Ease of Access:   2/5 (10 mins walk from tram or train station,  easier via car)
Food:  ♕♕♕ 1/2
Coffee:  ♕♕ -  ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Open 7 days - 7am – 5pm  (Kitchen closes around 4pm) 

Address:  428 Malvern Rd, Prahran
Ph:  9510 8336


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