Monday, December 31, 2012

Amico Italian Ristorante - ( Hong Kong )

 Thanks to blogger friend ChocolateMuiMui and of course our locally renowned Italian food, pasta and wine specialist Esther Au from Donna Dolce Kitchen studio ( who holds her own cooking classes in Kwun Tong,  for organizing this tasting dinner at this brand new Italian restaurant but only charging trattoria prices.   The Head Chef at Amico honed his cooking craft during a long tenure at Sabatini HK,  as well as Bella Vita and Nicholini’s,  all star Italian kitchens in town.   The menu here due to their bar location is priced to suit the TST clientele but there are no compromises taken -  you will still see Truffles and Sicilian red sea prawns on the menu.  If you still want a budget orientated spot for partying or for dating during the New Years period,  this is a really decently priced option.


The Credenza table -
Antipasti table is reminiscent of Sabatini or even the old Toscana at the old Ritz Carlton.


The Food Offering -
Presentation is one thing.  Food quality is another..  Hope it is all good
Winking smile


The Antipasti Table -  $158 with Unlimited Refills
One can spot from here fresh Salami,  Capocollo ham and marbled Prosciutto ham.  For some reason my 1st round of hams tasted sweetish and nutty just like Spanish Jamon and was all melty.  The 2nd and 3rd rounds were more Italian parma like in performance but still flavorful.


Also included in Antipasti buffet at $158 -
Brussels sprouts with ham.    There were more options like Caesar Salad with a proper anchovies based dressing and bacons.  Or a Caponata,  Sauteed Mushrooms, Smoked Salmon amongst other things.   Ooops,  I was too busy eating them & forgot to take photos.  A bargain.



Bread Basket -
Nicely done Ciabatta,  proper crispy Grissini indeed!  The Baguette like bread was a little dry when toasted in the bread warmer though.  May do better with more water steam?    ~ 7/10


Truffled Butter and Fagioli Borlotti with Chili & Seasonings Dip -
Some thought the truffled butter was too weak in buttery taste yet I guess I liked it for it’s subtlety and taking time to show it’s true character over time in the mouth... ?    The Borlotti beans spread fooled me initially for being chestnut in color but it was definitely beans derived in flavour and even slightly grittily good.  Rather appreciated for it’s balance.  ~  8/10



Beef Carpaccio prepared A La Minute on the table – $108
Pounded beef was hammered thin,  prepared by the table-side then drizzled with olive oil,  lemon juice,  topped with Parmesan and Rucola leaves.  The texture was just right and didn’t stick to the serving plate.  The beef taste wasn’t weak per se but I think usually customers want a more punch-in-your-face experience in beef flavour even when served raw.     ~  7/10

Extra Dry Prosecco -
Very balanced to my palate.  Minerality, stone fruits, lemon,  grapefruit &  lime stone.  Sparkling wines can cover a very wide range in taste but this was definitely more of an adult version and not just a 1 dimensional aperitivo.  Seems like they do respect their wines here..


Boston Lobster Bisque & Cappuccino Cream – $88
This was nicely sweet and again on the subtle side.  I enjoyed the balance of this as it wasn’t alcoholic bitter and wasn’t trying too hard to impress.  The only downside I can think of is their lack of lobster meat.  Not even a single bite and even at a lowly $88,  surely a few pieces will please the crowd much more  ~  6.5/10


Tagliolini Al Forno with Pancetta, Bechamel Sauce & Parmersan Cheese – $138
This reminds me of the Venetian dish Tagliolini Gratinati.   This dish hits your senses with the gratinated cheesy aroma and the heated pork oil from the fried pancetta,  with a white sauce which is so Wintery.   It’s like eating a Pasticcio or Baked Ziti but minus the ragu meat,  very yummy dish and priced so reasonably.  ~  9/10  


Tonnarelli Pasta with Sea Urchin in light Lobster Cream – $168
This is obviously a tasting portion size after our shared plating.   The in-house made pasta was quite eggy but surprisingly tasted like Tajarin pasta with that softer springy texture.  The Sea Urchin was fresh,  we thought the lobster cream could have been stronger.  In fact,  I suggest the shop to incorporate some urchin into the sauce to enhance it just like some other shops do to bring up the umami hit.  ~  6/10




Linguine with Sicilian Red Prawns & Datterino Tomatoes – $298
*Again, Tasting portion.   Using imported Italian ingredients this was cooked pretty decent and al dente.  The red prawns are packed with umami and tasting like prawn and lobster both at once.  The meat was good but the prawn head texture is expectedly slightly softer than when eating it inside Italy or Spain,  so no complaints here as Hong Kong can’t supply such powerful prawns and there will always be sacrifices.   We thought the pasta sauce could have handled more prawns taste but it’s getting there...   ~  7/10

Trying out some huge Grilled NZ Scampi,  Lamb Chop and Free-Range Baby Chicken -
Meat main courses start from around $188 to $298 range,  reasonable.   They were generally grilled pretty well.  The black pepper is quite powerful however especially on the chicken.  The best for me was definitely the Scampi,  which was really sweet and surprisingly firm – considering that even fresh Scampis can be mealy even when cooked from alive.  

Lemon Tartufo with Raspberry Sauce – $58
A lemon ice cream dessert,  this was the best sweet on the night and rather refreshing !  It also didn’t suffer the same problem as the other Tartufi in town which are always dense.  Will come back just for this and it’s only $58 Surprised smile ~  10/10




Amico Tiramisu – $58
A newer style of creamy tiramisu trifle in verrine glass without alcohol.  Surprisingly the bottom was soaked with good coffee flavour,  but overall this was lacking eggs or cheesy taste,  and the chocolate piece on top was like a rocher but too hard to break up and needed to be taken in one go,  I would rather revert back to the ubiquitous Choco powder.   I prefer the original Tiramisu versions with much more mascarpone cheese and eggs and no excuses for not having any marsala or rum.   Tiramisu means ‘pick me up’ and carries sexual connotations,  it is not designed for kids..   ~  3/10


Semifreddo with Crispy Chocolate & Mixed Berries – $58
This was more normal and tasted just ok.  Pastas here seem to be their strongest points for now,  although we did loved the Lemon Tartufo above.   If they could impress more in the Desserts department,  they will attract a lot more girl customers  ~  6.9/10



Restaurant Setting is very Cozy..
Ideal for a date and quiet conversation between partners and close friends.


Private Room caters for either 20 People or 40 in a Group -
*If you book for 20 people, you will get a whole Prime Ribs for FREE to share.
*If you book for 40 people, you will get a Prime Ribs and whole Parma Ham leg for FREE carving all night long.   Price per person is around $400,  which is a good bargain indeed and has many Courses included.  Please speak to the restaurant for more details.


Shopping Shelves near the Reception Area -
The Chef came from Sabatini and Bella Vita.   That huge Antipasti Credenza table and the retail section of the shop definitely carries shadows of both places!   The food here is aimed at the lower price end of the market but the food was aiming to perform at 1 notch above this pricing point.  It is definitely a good alternative spot for holding a party or a casual date.   I mean it is all about CP Value at the end of the day.   For me and judging here Horses for Courses,  at this price range it is definitely punching above it’s weight.  




Price: Approx HKD $200 – $300 Per Person.
Ease of Access:   4/5  (MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station, at Knutsford Terrace the famous Kowloon Bars Area.)
Food:  Meal was by Invitation

Opening Hours -
Mon – Sun  12:00pm - 15:00pm, 18:00pm - 02:00pm

Address:  尖沙咀諾士佛臺1號7樓
7/F, 1 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph:  2311 2368

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cloudland Chinese Cuisine 雲來軒 - ( Hong Kong)

  Thanks to MarshyFood for organizing this Bloggers Tasting Event with the boss of Cloudland Chinese restaurant - the Boss is himself professionally trained in Chinese Cuisine and Head Chef Bo is even more well known, for he has already appeared on a local TVB Cooking Competition Show (大廚出馬)and came home carrying multiple and quite heavy Gold & Silver Medals I must say, as we got a chance to hold them to know their actual weight!



Appetizer of Beans and Dried Shrimps -


蒜泥白肉 - Garlic & Chili Pork Slices
A modernized version, the pork was leaner than usual but quite tender.  There is no extra chili or cucumbers.  I liked this as it wasn't too powerful in garlic although purists will argue about it’s authenticity.    ~  7.5/10




胡麻鮮准山 - Chinese Yam in Sesame Sauce
Quite crunchy and refreshing, the chef actually added some acidity into the sesame sauce to ensure it's not too filling.  ~  8/10

丹山海蜇花 - Cold Jelly Fish Platter
Quite crunchy, with some bits of the Jelly Fish head attached  ~  8/10

大廚出馬水芺蓉生班球 - Steamed Egg White with Grouper Fish
An award winning dish. The egg white was super smooth and not watery, topped with a carrot juice. The fish was spot on cooked, but not too sweet. Could therefore be enhanced a bit by spring onions and ginger? ~  7/10


金沙龍皇伴太子 - Fried Minced Prawn and Hokkaido Scallop
This was the most anticipated yet disappointing dish. There wasn't much sauce or flavour of it's own. May be it could do with some Salt and Pepper or better still, a Salted Egg Yolk coating as that was what the name had me believe!   ~  5/10




日本花菇雞腳燉螺頭 - Soup of Japanese Shiitake, Conch and Chicken Feet
My soup was a bit-off as it was salty and only had chicken broth flavour. These are boiled individually for hours and since mine was off, I tried a few other people's ones and there's were much better  ~  6/10



椒蒜香煎安格斯牛肉 - Green Pepper & Garlic Stir Fried Angus Beef
Beef was a bit too 'tenderizer' affected for me, I can tell the beef quality wasn't bad so it didn't really need it. Beef flavour and the peppery/garlic sauce was spot on.




法邊豉椒蟶子皇 - Razor Clams in Black Bean Sauce and French Beans
Another totally addictive dish. The black bean sauce was perfectly tuned for balance, umami packed but not too salty. The French beans beneath it was a really nice touch. *The Muscle Foot is deliberately added by the Chef for texture, he said some customers think their crunch is 'sand', but it is actually part of his recipe.  ~ 8/10



亞保脆皮三黃雞 - Chef Bo's Crispy Skin Chicken
(Fresh Chicken, so must Pre-Book this. And You totally should!)

With the name of the Head Chef attached to a dish, it had better be good! It was actually really crispy with nice yellow chicken oil flavour. Totally what HK used to be famous for in the past - great tasting Yellow Skin Chicken for flavours.   ~  9/10



韮王上湯煎粉果配稻庭烏冬 - Fried Fan Gor in Chinese Chives Soup, Inaniwa Udon noodles
Due to the number of people eating, the noodles were slightly over-cooked and the Boss and Chef knew exactly what happened as he ate with us and will teach the staff re-heating them to improve their timing or change the way this novel dish is presented. I really liked this dish and creative idea, the Fan Gor dumplings were done so well and better than Fook Lam Moon's version, so was the dipping broth.   ~  7/10




萬壽椰香果 - Pawpaw Stuffed with Coconut Pudding
Someone said this looked good on the menu. It was quite interesting as a dessert. Not as strong as I anticipated but I would happily order this again as a light dinner!




Red Bean Soup with Aged Fruit Peels -
This had the ‘gritty’ sandy texture that everyone loves,  but surprisingly it has no individual red beans in it.  Some kitchens actually do this deliberately to prove that they managed to make it into the correct consistency – but most diners still preferred at least something to bite on. 




Price: Approx HKD $250 – $350 Per Person.
Ease of Access:   4/5  (MTR Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Upstairs opposite Butao Ramen.)
Food:  Meal was by Invitation

Opening Hours -
Mon – Sun:  11am to 11pm

Address:  尖沙咀棉登徑17-23號華楓大廈1樓全層
1/F, Wah Fung Building, 17-23 Minden Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph:  2722 0156

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ore no Tsukemen 俺のつけ麺 - ( Hong Kong )

  The sheer number of Ramen shop openings have not slowed down,  in fact it gathered a late upward momentum to the point when we saw 4-5 shops being opened within a week alone by the end of 2012.  The change of pace in Hong Kong is purely astonishing,,  I mean you could never have imagined that a sudden influx of Japanese based imported shops can all happen to open side-by-side by the next minute without planned synchronicity.  No one could possibly catch up with the pace but some of us foodies have really given up trying these out before they are really ready.    Over here it was promising enough on paper but way too oily,  it wasn’t all that satisfactory after a 2nd Visit but yet it was promising somewhat.  It was too oily and yet too thin in the soup.


It’s a tiny space -
Opened by Ramen Expert Meter Chen,
who has written books on ramen in Japan.

Add Ons for your Tsukemen -


Order Form -
There’s only 1 ramen soup base here,  Bonito Fish x Pork Tonkotsu.
You can however choose a variety of options,  and thickness of noodles.

Coke Zero -



Fish x Tonkotsu Tsukemen - $85

Super Thick noodles - 極太麵
The 1st shop to serve this super thick noodles in Hong Kong,
and the noodles have improved from last time as it has more taste and is smoother.   Notice the Seaweed in the background – which has the shop’s name printed on it!! 
Hot smile

Dipping broth -
My 1st visit was more pleasant. The 2nd visit had the soup being super oily but quite thin, although the overall flavour was pleasant. If they could improve the ‘oily’ aspect, it would be much better..  This smells quite badly of pork smell and adding in the Wari soup was worse!


Chasyu -
This was quite decent.


Eggs -
Could do with more marination but it’s one of the better ones around.  My last egg was more runny than 2nd visit.


The Tsukemen sells out very quickly here,
Get it either at 12pm or 6pm to avoid disappointment.  
I liked the presentation of the Ramen here and the super thick noodles,  but the broth really has a big issue to be fixed for now..




Price: HKD $85 – $105 per Person.
Ease of Access:   3/5  (Between MTR Tin Hau & MTR Fortress Hill Station.)
Food: ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours -
Mon – Sat:  12pm til Sold Out,  6pm til Sold Out
Sun:  Closed

Address: 北角蜆殼街6-16號地下
Shop D1, G/F, Po Wing Building, 6-16 Shell Street, North Point

Sunday, December 23, 2012

波記燒臘粉麵店 Ball Kee - ( Hong Kong )

  When the annual HK Michelin Guide comes out at the end of each year,  it usually creates quite a stir and the ensuing debates are always interesting amongst the locals.  The 2013 guide was definitely controversial and rather random.   Of course,  what another Foodie praises or dislikes might not always coincide with my taste preference as well,  except what I write is not as influential as THE GUIDE.   It needs to be responsible but luckily amongst ourselves,  we already have a few favourites of our own.



Ball Kee -
It’s not the most original store that used to be 1 street away,
but the food is still good!  The roast items are actually better than what some of shops in the Michelin recommends.   The locals love here and for a reason.

Both Cantonese and Chiu Chow Style Chili Sauces available -
This is actually a rare sight in HK!   Shop owners of Chiu Chow origin insist on their own preferences for making beef briskets,  fish balls or even milk teas!   Their hot chili oils need to be fried first,  like the darker one in the middle.  Cantonese owners prefer the orangey type on the right which is perhaps more like Thai Sriracha!   Totally different chili sauces.

Menu – It’s Cheap too by 2012 standards

Roast Duck Leg -
They are famous for duck here and it’s cheap.  Skin is decent but not overly crispy,  the meat is tender and gamey flavourful but very fatty.   If you don’t mind paying double the price,  get the Goose Leg instead!   ~  7/10

Roast Duck & Char Siu on Lai Fun Noodles -
The Char Siu is not bad here,  I reached the same Verdict with their Roast Duck.  But are edible but not exceptional.   But it’s their noodle’s broth here which is rich in duck & duck oil flavour and their transparent noodles are also excellent & actually have taste.   Typing this blog,  I feel like going back tomo already..   More for the noodles and soup,  than the ok-decent meat  ~  7.5/10




Price: HKD $25 – $50 per Person.
Ease of Access:   2/5  (Take the Tram and use a GPS to get off.)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 西環皇后大道西425號P舖地下
Shop P, G/F, 425 Queen's Road West, Western District


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