December 29, 2014

Hong Kong - Thanksgiving at Cafe Causette

Ooey gooey cheesy bread

San Daniele Ham, Burrata, Beetroot Crisps, Peach, Rye Croutons, Candied Walnuts

Warm Ricotta, Lavender, Honeycombs, Walnut, Wood Sorrel, Figs

Cured Beetroot Salmon, Salmon Caviar, Potato Crisp

Pumpkin Soup

 Classic Roasted Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce

Honey Glazed Ham, Roasted, Pumpkin, Potato

Slow Braised Pork Cheek, Mashed Pumpkin, Red Wine, Gravy

Roasted Potato, Creamed Brussels Sprout, Glazed Carrots
Salted Caramel Layer Chocolate Cake

Classic Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu

Apple Pie, Ice Cream

Review: A non-traditional Thanksgiving meal with my girls - thanks Yuls for picking the restaurant! Thanksgiving isn't huge here in Hong Kong, but a lot of restaurants do have Thanksgiving-themed dinners during that week. Cafe Causette offered a buffet style multi-course meal, served tableside. You can order refills for any dish, which they will bring to your table. We started with warm cheesy bread with pesto dipping sauce. The appetizers arrived promptly. The classic combo of San Daniele ham and creamy burrata was elevated by the warm caramelised peaches and the crunch from the candied walnuts. The beetroot-cured salmon was beautifully presented alongside the ricotta, lavender, olive oil caviar and fresh figs - such pretty colours! All the flavours worked well together. We also had traditional Thanksgiving turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce, honey glazed ham and sweet potato mash. The turkey and ham arrived at our table pre-carved. The turkey was surprisingly moist, and the honey ham was tender and had well-balanced flavours of sweet and savoury. As for the desserts, I liked the pecan pie with its perfect buttery crust the most. Each serving was very generous and we were too stuffed to order any refills. The leftover turkey and ham (being el cheapo of course I took everything home) made a great breakfast sandwich the next morning. I am thankful for great friends and great meals, as always.

Cafe Causette
Address: M/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: 2825-4005
Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30am-11:45pm

December 2, 2014

Hong Kong - Neighborhood

Wagyu Tartare

Buttered Tagliolini

Food photos are a must!

Bone Marrow Risotto

Potato Gnocchi with Iberico Ham and Parmesan

Cheese Selection

Chocolate Palette

Vanilla Ice Cream

Complimentary canelés to end the night

Review: For our first taste of Alba white truffles this year, Big and Small picked Neighborhood, a newly opened joint by Chef David Lai from Bistronomique and On Lot 10. The quaint and modern restaurant is situated next to a little park and quite hard to find at first. Once we were seated, we were presented with a bowl of "white diamonds" nestled on uncooked rice. We were like little kids at the candy store, so excited to pick our own truffle! Their truffles were HKD 26 a gram and weighed on a digital scale at the table. Our truffle was more than enough to go between the three of us. We were given a truffle shaver set to the thinnest setting and we shaved the truffle on everything except the cheese and chocolate dessert! I was recently told that white truffles are in fact very 熱氣 - you can actually get nose bleeds after consuming heavy white truffle meals! But I guess once a year won't do too much damage.

We liked the al-dente Buttered Tagliolini for its subtle flavours that let the white truffle shine. The Wagyu Tartare didn’t have an overly acidic dressing and the raw yolk brought a great texture to the dish. The Homemade Gnocchi with Iberico and Parmesan was light and fluffy but could’ve had more potato taste. The Bone Marrow Risotto had large chunks of delicious fatty marrow throughout and the herbs cut through the fattiness, but the rich flavours sadly overpowered the truffles. For desserts, we liked the intense and creamy dark Chocolate Pallete and we used the last bits of our truffle on Vanilla Ice Cream, so decadent! They also served a great Fourme d'Ambert.

Overall I think the addition of white truffles elevated the food, but without the icing on the cake these dishes would still be delicious. The portions are small but reasonably priced, great for trying many dishes at once. The vibe is perfect for dates and there’s also a full bar. Their menu changes every week, so I'm looking forward to see what they have in store after the truffle season ends.

I recommend: Buttered Tagliolini, Bone Marrow Risotto, Chocolate Palette

Address: 61-63 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong
Phone: 2617-0891
Hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-1030pm

November 19, 2014

Hong Kong - Kaya Korean Restaurant

Double-size Marinated Beef Short Ribs

 Spring Onion Salad (came with the short ribs)

Ox Tongue

Marinated Chicken

Cucumber Soju

Seafood and Spring Onion Pancake

Sliced Pork with Lettuce Wrap

Pan-fried Rice Cake in Spicy Sauce

Beef and Homemade Noodles Hot Pot

Review: Kaya’s new location is in Midtown Plaza II, half a block away from its original location. The decor remains similar – bright lights, wooden furniture and sizzling grills. The new location is undoubtedly more spacious and comfortable though. The marinated short ribs were delicious. The sweet soy marinade was spot on and the meat was juicy and tender. I loved the short ribs wrapped in lettuce leaves and smothered with gojuchang spicy bean paste and raw garlic. I had to brush my teeth extra hard and use a lot of mouthwash that night, but it was worth it! I usually stick to beef at Korean BBQ, but my brother ordered the marinated chicken and it turned out to be delicious and flavourful. Definitely a great alternative to beef. I also enjoyed the beef and noodle hot pot. The bowl of warm peppery broth with chewy noodles and sliced beef was the perfect ending to the meal. For drinks, I liked their cucumber soju. It was light and refreshing yet strong enough to give you a buzz. The service was spotty at times. We ordered lettuce for our beef and had to remind them three times before it finally arrived. That aside, Kaya serves decent Korean BBQ in a comfortable setting, and I look forward to my next visit.

I recommend: Marinated Beef Short Ribs, Marinated Chicken, Beef and Homemade Noodles Hot Pot

Kaya Korean Restaurant
Address: 9/F Midtown Soundwill Plaza II, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: 2838-9550
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-11:30pm

November 12, 2014

Hong Kong - RyuGin

Updated February 20th 2015

 Monkfish liver from Hokkaido and Aka clam with spring onion in mustard miso sauce

 Simmered abalone with winter vegetables served with grated radish sauce

 Shiitake mushroom egg custard topped with Matsubagani crab

 Poached Gillardeau oyster and mashed turnip soup in winter style

 Assortment of sashimi

 Charcoal grilled Alfonsino served with crispy scales

 Wagyu ribeye sukiyaki with onsen tamago

  Premium sea urchin on steamed rice with simmered fresh seaweed

 Bottarga grey mullet roe on steamed rice with simmered fresh seaweed (for Bf who can't eat sea urchin)

 RyuGin Specialty -196C pear candy and +99C pear jam

 Deep fried spring roll, sweet red beans, strawberry, shiratama mochi

Date of visit: January 16th 2015


Watari crab salad under chrysanthemum flowers

Enter the Autumn Forest - Simmered abalone, mushrooms, pine nuts on hot egg custard

Poached Gillardeau oyster wrapped with shabu-shabu Wagyu beef and grated celeriac jelly

Flavor of autumn - Charcoal grilled Matsutake mushroom in Ichibandashi soup

Assortment of sashimi

Slow cooked blue lobster and selection of vegetables with Manganji pepper flavoured sauce

Large eel grilled over Binchotan charcoal

Ikura salmon caviar and Kobashira on steamed rice

Tea before the dessert courses

RyuGin specialty -196C apple candy and +99C apple jam

Kyoho grapes and Nashi calpis jelly with sense of sudachi and shiso flower

Matcha to end the meal

RyuGin Hong Kong is the first overseas branch of RyuGin Japan. It offers only one menu, a kaiseki of ten courses that highlights fresh seasonal ingredients flown in from Japan daily. I enjoyed each delicious and unique dish, but I had a few favourites. One was the Gillardeau oyster wrapped in Wagyu beef (or Boyster, according to Bf). The “Boyster” was presented in its original shell and thoughtfully cut into two bite-sized pieces. The flavour of the sweet and tender beef was more pronounced in the beginning, while the brininess from the creamy oyster came after. The tangy celeriac added brightness, bringing the dish together. It was definitely a well-executed dish. I would’ve never thought beef and oyster could be eaten together, let alone be this delicious!

Another notable dish was the grilled eel. The skin was super crisp while the meat was kept soft and sweet, with a hint of smokiness. The glaze was not too sweet, which I liked. Hands down one of the best eel dishes I have ever had. I also loved the molecular gastronomy dessert, which was a candy “apple” filled with powdered liquid nitrogen apple ice cream and topped with piping hot apple jam. Hot, cold, crunchy and fluffy all at the same time!

A lot of fine-dining restaurants serve expensive ingredients, slap a hefty price tag on them, and leave it at that. At RyuGin, you are paying for the skill and technique, heart and soul the chef pours into executing each dish. He condenses and amplifies the flavours of the ingredients without overpowering your palate. The chef is able to create a symphony of flavours and textures that work so well together. This is the epitome of Japanese kaiseki.

Aside from the food, you get a stunning view of the harbour from 101/F while enjoying impeccable service. The dark decor and wooden panels that separate each table create an intimate dining experience. The staff was attentive and very knowledgeable about each dish, from the source of ingredients to cooking techniques. Portioning and timing were perfect. The dishes arrived at an appropriate speed and I didn't feel rushed or that they took too long. After the dessert courses I was perfectly satiated.

Note that the menu changes every few months, so some items pictured above may not be available. My visit was on October 3.

Address: 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: 2302-0222
Hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-930pm, Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-930pm