Monday, May 29, 2006
I admit it. I went because of the coupon.
I had a coupon for $50 off a minimum spend of $200 AND a free dish of chorizo rolls. I couldn’t resist it and since the boy, my mom and I hadn’t eaten a big lunch, we thought we’d have a snack.
The place was nicely decorated in the ‘modern Vietnamese’ style that they were going for. As there were only three other tables occupied, we were sat at a comfy booth style seat right smack next to the window with a sea view.
Our first dish to come was the free chorizo rolls. They were tiny but free so could not complain (although I would feel slightly ripped off if I had to pay the normal price of $39 for the three tiny rolls). They tasted good despite my doubt that the chorizo would taste good in a very Asian style dish with traditional accents of peanut dipping sauce. The rolls were filled with pickled radish, green papaya, and a slice of chorizo. They were surprisingly refreshing as a starter. I apologize for the lack of pictures. What can I say? We were hungry.
The second dish was the Rice Paper Soft Shell Crab. These were fun and a full hands-on experience.
You take a sheet of the rice paper, put it shiny side down, lightly moisten the surface with nuoc nam (slightly sour/sweet fish sauce, widely used in Vietnamese dishes), put half a piece of lettuce, a piece of basil, mint and another herb I didn’t know the name of, together with a piece of soft shell crab, green banana, pineapple and starfruit, bits of crispy fried vermicelli for crunch factor, wrap it all up best you can and stuff into mouth.
Well, my mom ate daintily but the boy and I stuffed it into our mouths before the whole thing fell apart. Too much nuoc nam sauce made the rice paper break.
The third dish was curry with duck and lychees. My mom and I love fruit in cooking as it always seems to add a different dimension to the food. The boy doesn’t but since he couldn’t really taste it, it was ok by him. This was served with a French baguette (also quite traditional in Vietnamese cooking due to the French influence).
The curry was creamy with the addition of coconut milk but complaints around the table included non using fresh duck (Mom), not unique (the Boy) and not hot enough in both senses of the word (Me). It was ok, just not spectacular.
We finished off with a grand finale. The sticky banana pudding with homemade honeycomb ice cream. Sound good? It was divine. One of my favorite desserts at their sister restaurant, Thai Basil, it was just as good as I remembered. A nice piece of sticky, banana pudding topped with honeycomb ice cream complete with hunks of honeycomb, swimming in a pool of custard.
My mom and I devoured the pudding and ice cream and the boy, true to his English roots, finished the custard.
Total damage with tip and 10% service charge came to $200 after the discount and free rolls.
P413-418, Podium 4
World Trade Centre
Phone: 852-2890 3975
15% off with American Express on dinner a-la-carte menu (Mon – Fri) until June 17th 2006
Friday, May 26, 2006
The buffet was split into about 4 categories. On the right side of the buffet was all the raw food designed for the grill in the middle of our table. The left side of the buffet contained all the cooked food. On top of the sneeze guard (useless in this instance), was all the sushi (which went regrettably unnoticed by one of our group until the very end) and the right and left of the main buffet was flanked with the extras, such as desserts, including a freezer full of ice cream, and soup.
The night began innocently enough as it was only me and an old friend with a small platter of bites including some florescent green marinated Japanese style seaweed with sesame seeds, some stir fried Korean vermicelli with vegetables, marinated radish and cukes.
Then, as more people joined us, the oinkfest really got underway. Platters of marinated meat was brought over to the grill, including marinated spicy pork, pork neck meat (incredibly fatty but tender), fish, salmon head, beef,
baby whole squid, cheese sausages (?!?), fake crab sticks (which I learnt is called seafood extenders!), curry chicken wings, pork ribs, a variety of fish balls,
“Dor Chun Yu” (literally many roe fish)
and many others.
Until we could eat no more.
Except for ice cream........ Huge bowls of ice cream rounded off the meal nicely.
Hugs all around as I rolled my belly home.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
As previously menioned, my Dad is a fab cook. Yes, he oversalts things slightly and horror of horrors, he does use MSG sometimes in his cooking but there is no denying it. He uses it damn well!
The other night, out of the blue, he called to say he was going to cook dinner. My Mom was going out so it was just him and me eating and what I wanted to eat...his famously juicy stewed pork or chicken wine. Without a doubt, I chose the latter.
This is a deceptively simple dish comprising of no more than 3 ingredients and a lick of salt. A huge knob or two of ginger is peeled and sliced generously and put into a pan with hot oil in it. This is stir-fried until golden, fragrant and just starting to look transparent around the edgest. A whole chopped chicken is put in and given a stir to flavor the meat. Then, once the meat is slightly browned, a cup of rice wine is poured in. This is left to sizzle around and is swirled around until there is only a tablespoon or so left, then about another cup and half of wine is poured in along with a little chicken stock and the lid left on to simmer until done.
The secret is in the wine. My Dad, knowing my obsessiveness with this very Hakka dish (it is prepared a little differently by different people) carries two huge earthenware jugs of it home each time he finds it and begs/pleads with his friends to bring him a jug or two when he knows they'll be visiting the region. I have yet to find the brand of wine but will do so.
The chicken, as always is lovely with rice and steamed baby bok choi.
I had the remainder for lunch today at work. Unfortunately it's noticeable by my incredibly red face. As you can tell, no, the alcohol doesn't all cook off.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Anyhow, while she was here, my Mom and Aunt took her out ... a lot.
So obviously they ate .... a lot.
My grandmother has mild diabetes r(is that possible? Mild? That's what she tells me and who am I to argue with the family matriarch?). However, she likes sweets (can anyone see a pattern here?).
*sigh* stubbornness runs in the family.
She and my Mom came back raving about this wonton place they went to for dinner. The boy was a bit pouty that he wasn't asked to go as he is very fond of wonton. After a bit of pouting and guilt-tripping, my Grandmother and Mom agreed to go back (not 2 hours after they left) with us. Provided, of course, that we all go to the Hong Kong dessert place afterwards. The boy happily agreed.
The wonton noodles were good but I couldn't really say since I can't eat shrimp but the boy liked them. The fact that they were only HK$14 may have also been a factor.
One thing I ordered that my Mom had raved about was "Ngow Bat Eeep" literally translated to Beef Hundred Leaves. Now, after intense discussion, no one really knew exactly what part of the Cow this was but it is believed to be part of the stomach. It was lightly boiled, topped with coils of green onions and served with a spicy savory soy sauce based dip. It looked absolutely revolting to the Western eye but I noticed every single table had a plate. I had to order one.
Usually it is boiled with other things to remove it's unappetizing black color but here it did not seem to deter anyone enjoying a big plate.
It was somewhat chewy, making a satisfactory crunching sound in the mouth, what we call "song". I don't know that I would order a whole plate again, I didn't enjoy the texture that much but it was ok.
Onto my grandmother's favorite bit, dessert!
The boy had egg custard, which was nice but not as rich as next door's. It had the right look but the texture was more like tofu-fa, the tofu based dessert with its wobbly, slightly watery texture.
The three generations of women all had the same thing. Which was gelatinous rice dumplings with sesame paste in ginger and rock sugar syrup. We each received 5 generous dumplings and my Mom and I each shared one with the boy. My Grandma? She had all five to herself. Her excuse when admonished?
Only in Hong Kong.
These gelatinous dumplings or "tong yuen" were perfect. Just enough chewiness with not too thick a wrapping with molten, black sesame and sugar inside. They tasted just right with the light syrup slightly sweetened and flavored with ginger.
The mood was slightly ruined though, when the boy nudged me, pointing to a stacked box behind the cook. It was a box labeled "Black Sesame Rice Balls". They weren't homemade after all!
My Mom was in a lot of trouble that evening when my Aunt heard the news. Number one for not taking HER to the dessert place and number two for letting my Grandmother stuff her face. My Mom's excuse?
Only in Hong Kong.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Yesterday was Mother's Day here and I took my Mom, Grandmother, Aunt and various other members of my family to Cova. I won't talk about the HUGE amounts of food we ingested in this particular post, however, I did feel obliged to show you that I found the buddy to the highly impressive salmon the boy's parents made.
I am sad to say that somebody got to it before I did. So no, I was not the one who poked its belly.
In anycase, after work on Saturday (pity me), I was ravenous and went to Amy's Kitchen. Amy's Kitchen is about 3 or 4 doors down from Tai Ping Koon and, as I read somewhere, opened by the former chef of Tai Ping Koon.
Amy's Kitchen, like Tai Ping Koon, serves Hong Kong style Western Cuisine. My Mom used to think that all Western food was like this and was sorely disappointed when she immigrated to Canada and found out that it was far from the Western menus she had as a child.
As it was getting on in the afternoon, I got lucky and was able to chose the tea set menu with the swiss sauce stir-fried beef with thick rice noodles and a coffee or tea for HK$25. Got to love afternoon specials.
So I had a lovely plate of incredibly tender beef slices and green vegetables which were cooked with the swiss sauce, which was poured over pan-fried rice noodle ribbons which had been pan fried so that they had a bit of a chewiness that is often lacking.
The swiss sauce was nice and salty but not overly, with a bit more sweetness and flavor than the traditional soy sauce. It was also a little more thick, I guess from being cooked down slightly.
With a bit of chili sauce on the side for dipping the slices of beef, it was pure comfort and yumminess. Cheap and cheerful indeed.
PS. I also had the baked Alaska here on a previous visit. Truly impressive impressive looking thing. I order it for the looks alone.
G/F 16 Pak Sha Road
Tel 2838 4122
Fax 2572 6226
Saturday, May 13, 2006
"Not to worry" my aunt said, "Let's go to the chicken place!"
So after a short wait of about 20 minutes together with what looked like about 15 other families jostling each other for seats, we were led to our table.
I immediately demanded the "Dong Gwa Jong" or Winter Melon Soup. "Dong Gwa" is the winter Melon but "jong" usually referres to one of the traditionally lidded soup bowls which is usually placed whole and steamed to make the soup. It is thought that in this way, all of the health properties of the soup ingredients wouldn't be steamed away. For this particular soup, it is traditionally made with a whole Winter Melon hollowed partially, then the soup incredients put in and the whole Melon steamed until the soup is done and the flesh is tender. The health properties of this soup is that it is low in fat and is supposed to even help with digestion and ridding your body of toxins. It is a bit troublesome to make and not often seen on menus unless you have a banquet in which this is pre-ordered.
The Dong Gwa Jong came to the table, decorated on the outside with fresh lotus flower seeds, bits of browned garlic and chicken meat. The soup inside is flavored with mature lotus seeds, pork, winter melon, chinese mushrooms, dried scallops and other things I probably don't know about. The soup is light, without any floating oil but to the chagrin of my elders, it was lukewarm and sent back to the kitchen to be steamed some more.
It was, to me, delicious. To my family, forgettable. But then again, they are Taiwanese and I am half Hong Kong-nese and thereby pre-destined to love soup.
However, unbeknownst to myself until it was served, I had unknowingly ordered one of the few things my gran, whom I haven't seen in 2+ years, won't eat...winter melon. The poor old dear had a few spoonfuls so I wouldn't feel bad.
To make up for the blunder, I had triumped quite by chance on my way home to green lychees! I wouldn't have noticed them had the fruit seller not been so charming at complimenting me on my way past. I am rarely compliemented by strangers so turned around to see who exactly he was complimenting when he stood there smiling at me offering a green lychee to try. I admit, I was flattered and curious as I hadn't seen these before and suspected that a) it was too early in the season and b) they were not sweet.
However, happily I was wrong. This new (at least to me) breed of lychees had both sweet lucious flesh as well as a small pit. Well, I really couldn't go wrong and bought two pounds home to the delight of my family.
Friday, May 12, 2006
As you might know, I was sad to have missed my lunch yesterday but I more than made up for it today by behaving incredibly panda-esque and eating my bamboo, corn and peas.... with my paws.
There's something much more satisfying about eating fresh veggies dipped in Kewpie mayo with your fingers.
Of course I couldn't forget my main dish of grilled marinated peppers with pasta on salad.
Man I'm healthy.
Not to despair.....I'll make up for it tonight with enough chocolate to make you proud!
Dark chocolate cup, shavings of white and milk chocolate on top (I can live with that), three distinct layers of chocolate, a harder milk chocolate at the top, middle bit that is quite rich and bitter with the truffly creamy bit at the bottom.
Yep, it was yum. So far it ties with the toffee one as my favorites in the box..... this means the boy doesn't get any of these two flavors. Hehehe...
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I have been pudging out a bit in the, erm, tummy area (*shakes fist at self greeed*) so decided to make nice, light, healthy meals to bring to lunch.
So, I bought and roasted some beetroot and dressed with a bit of lemon juice, coarse nummy mustards and balsamic, then I grilled yellow, red and green peppers and marinated them in a bit of balsamic, olive oil and cracked fresh peppers.
But my crowning glory were the bamboos. I chanced upon them at the market and bought two fresh bamboo tips (sorry, I forgot the photos) and procured them at tremendous (ok, fine. moderate) cost and brought them home with pride to my visiting grandmother.
At first she shook her head saying in HK, the bamboo tips are tough. She then had a quick pierce at the heart with her fingernail and pronounced them edible. I quickly peeled the tough outer layers and split them lengthwise to boil. After boiling, you cut them into large chunks to be dipped in Kewpie mayo (it MUST be Japanese kewpie mayo according to my grandmother).
As I had dinner with the family, I managed to restrain my self from eating it right away. Instead, I packed a box of lightly steamed baby corn, sweet peas, bamboo and the marinated peppers on some salad.
Except for the fact that I..............................forgot my lunch.
Instead, I had Vietnamese style pork balls with rice noodles
They weren't bad. They just weren't what I had anticipated for lunch.
Yes, I know you're supposed to eat it in one bite to get all the flavors... But I can't help it. If the description describes the little bits and pieces that goes into it, I have to "dissect" my chocolate into little bits so I taste them individually.
I think I have a mistrust of chocolate makers. I constantly think, "huh. well, I didn't takest any shortcake, did YOU?" Then of course is my unease at having been cheated the little bits of shortbread that was supposed to be in my piece of chocolate.
I need help.
Hmmm. I always wondered about the name "Creme Brulee". I love how it sounds so posh rolling off the tongue but at the same time, I can't help but think of how much it smacks of the 80's. Just like Tiramisu is very much the 90's and Black Forest Cake the 70's.
However, as a dutiful Wai Sik Mui, I attach an inside view...and show off my magnificent teeth bite marks...
Monday, May 08, 2006
Having had great success with the toffee mousse and learning my lesson from last time (fresh chocolate, amazing, stale chocolate, very much less amazing), I decided to, for your sakes, of course, to plow on through another "dessert".
I chose one of my other favorite flavors of the world, lemon.
This was a very "cute" chocolate and was actually very nice, also with very visible and tasty layers.
(description might be a bit daft but what do you expect?)
The bottom contained a healthy dollop of lemon curd that was surprisingly tangy and worked shockingly well. The bright yellow bit was a bit odd, can't really tell what that is and the "meringue" on top was like little bits of chocolate covered rice crispies. I'm sure it was more sophisticated than that but I don't have a sophistimacated palate unfortunately.
In any case it was good but too sweet for my tastes.
Apparently English chocolates are made very sweet, so the boy tells me. I couldn't have had another one....even for you.
PS. Incidentally, while writing this post, I am making my way through a Villar's Chocolate A L'Ancienne....which is not, what you may be led to believe, ancient chocolate but chocolate "elaborated" from an ancient and authentic recipe from the Swiss Chocolate Masters of Villars. I don't know about all that ancient stuff but it tastes good!
First up was the Toffee Mousse. I wasn't expecting a whole lot to be honest...
I don't like mouse very often and filled chocolates ain't really my thing.
However, biting into it was phenomenal!
I couldn't believe it but the description was right on the ball!! I never believe descriptions but I could taste each of the layers as described.
Caramelly, a touch bitter and very, very sweet, it was definitely a "dessert" chocolate.
Here, I have an "innard" photo for you to enjoy....
See the ooziness?
Can you believe the boy refused a bite?
The mad English.
How well you all know me.
A present from my overseas visitors.... Thornton's Dessert Gallery.
Little bite sized desserts in a chocolate cup. OHHHHH yeah.........
One guess as to what I'll be blogging next.
By the way, I failed miserably trying to eat veggie with my veg head friends..... I had a steak at the last meal......
they said I could!!!
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The boy's sister and her fiance came to HK to experience the culture and landscape of the city.
Of course, to me, that means food. And lots of it.
However, I was in a bit of a worry for the last few weeks because, you see, they are vegetarians.
I am, of course, not a vegetarian. I flirted with it a bit in my yoof but at the end of a few months and some vicious headaches later, I succumbed to a damned good bloody steak. *sigh* I have no willpower.
Sadly in HK, there is much meat. Much delicious meat. So I was quite concerned and had to do a bit of research in order to satisfy my veg-head friends.
Luckily, we've been quite lucky and they have been quite indulgent with me trying to push their boundaries of what constitutes meat.
I highly suspect I am turning into my father...
"Maybe they are vegetarians because they haven't had a really good properly cooked bit of meat! I bet I can convert them!"
"No Dad, being vegetarian isn't a challenge to your cooking skills."
Anyhow, we ended up at the Peak on Sunday and had lunch at the Lookout.
The boy and I started with the seafood platter. A delicious cherrystone clam, oysters, mussels, other clams and prawns.
Tasted nice and salty, with tang from the red wine vinaigrette that it was served with.
The prawns were HUGE, pink and succulent looking things...
Look at them....mocking my allergies, daring me to eat them, with their beady little eyes taunting me.
Damn prawn allergy!!!
Our more compassionate companions had some deliciousness as well with the spinach, gorgonzola and pear salad with poppy seed dressing.
(You see that bit of pear there in the middle? With the big splodge of cheese? That bit was mine! I love my friends)
They also had some lovely looking risotto balls in fresh tomato sauce. They were enormous and I heard they were yummy as well.
Being the kind souls they were, they asked me if I wanted a taste but I declined (*gasp* yes, I do understand the meaning of restraint but I don't often practice it)
Their last dish was, some glorious Thai eggplant with rice. I heard that the sauce was nice and savory and they did rave over the flavor.
I, of course, was a bit more naughty and ordered the Thai beef salad. It was delicious. Tangy from the lime, spicy from the chilies and both sweet and salty. Definitely one of the best I've ever had.
On reflection, (i.e. just now the thought occurred to me) I think I should have refrained from ordering such a meat heavy meal out of consideration but truth be told, I simply forgot!!
You see, they are much more of the "live and let live" variety and I made a much bigger deal of them being vegetarian than they did. Some veg-heads beat you over the head with the issue and look uncomfortable when you inhale some innocent cow but not my friends. It was so much of a non-issue that I didn't think twice about how insensitive I might have been....
Well, from now on, I will make a bigger effort.
In fact, I am going to make a bold decision.
I will, for all upcoming meals with my greens-loving friends, refrain from meat....with the exception of seafood. A quick calculation means up to 6 meals in the coming few days.
Good thing I had veggie Indian on Sat night and veggie Shanghainese last night to get me started!
I will, obviously, be chronicling my food and my success (or failures) so that you may all drool along. Or poke fun. Much the same in my mind.
121 Peak Road, The Peak