Friday, May 28, 2010

Eating Hong Kong - Part 2

Day 2
Breakfast:  Mido Café

We headed to Yau Ma Tei district for breakfast to try Mido Café's Pineapple Bun, which they make themselves.  Being inside Mido Café gave me a provincial feel;  it was like stepping into a time capsule: square micro-tiled floor and pillars, retro furniture, uncushioned wooden booths with hard plastic lining.
The bun was crispy on top; soft and fluffy underneath.  Dunking it in yun yong milk tea was enough to make me want to order a dozen more buns.  Another breakfast treat in Mido is the French Toast.  It didn't taste like it was fried, and the sweetness of the syrup was just right - it didn't make the tiny hairs on my face stand up.  

One of the highlights on the menu is the Fried Noodles with Sliced Pork.  Noodles are fried until golden brown and slices of pork, together with a savory sauce, are poured over the crispy noodles.  Imagine the variety of textures in one bite.
     Their signature dish is the Spare Ribs Baked Rice.  It's fried rice with egg at the bottom, followed by sweet and sour pork spare ribs topped with homemade sauce using fresh milk as one of the main ingredients.  It is then oven-baked until a crispy crust forms on top.  The result?  Crispy spare ribs with creamy sauce on top, and savory rice at the bottom. 

Pineapple Bun and Yun Yong Milk Tea - although it's called pineapple bun, you won't find any of it inside.  Sugary and crunchy on top with a soft, sweet dough underneath.  Milk tea is the perfect partner for this bread.

French Toast - another Mido Café breakfast treat.

Fried Noodles with Sliced Pork - crunchy noodles topped with tender pork slices. One dish with myriad textures.

Spare Ribs Baked Rice - Mido's savory signature dish.

Coke Zero in a bottle - this completes the retro mood that the cafe exudes.

Mido Café
63 Temple Street
Yau Ma Tei

Day 2
Lunch:  Watami Japanese Restaurant

There are loads of Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong but only a few are really good.  Unfortunately, Watami isn't one of them.  Food is average at best, and probably the reason why the restaurant gets full during meal times is because of its affordability.  A hundred HK dollars can go a long way in Watami.  If you get a craving for Japanese food in Hong Kong, you know where not to go.

Grilled Scallops Sushi - most sushis in Hong Kong are too raw to my liking.  Don't get me wrong, I love sushi but if what's inside a roll is too raw I'd rather eat at McDonald's.  Anyway, the grilled scallops sushi was nothing great.

Crispy Chicken Wings - I liked this one, it was good.  It was tasty and the skin was actually crispy, not just the breading.

Deep-fried Camembert with Raspberry Sauce - I eat this cheese only when it's fried.  They surprisingly did it right; the cheese wasn't cooked to oblivion so it didn't burn my tongue when I bit into it.

Gyoza on Hot Pan - and they call this gyoza.  There was hardly any meat inside.  It didn't say fried vegetable rice roll on the menu now, did it?

B09-B10 Sun Arcade,
Canton Road
Tsim Sha Tsui

Day 2
Dinner:  Modern Toilet

We were only on our second day and I was beginning to get tired from all the eating.  Already?  Perhaps walking and commuting from Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui to Mong Kok and back, then Mong Kok once again can wear anyone out.  Unless you're from Hong Kong where everybody walks a mile a minute from point A to neverwhere.  Oh well, we made it back by 9 pm to where this concept restaurant is located.  It wasn't hard to find - Modern Toilet is right in front of Langham Place Mall.  From the escalator we could already see people queued up, waiting for their number to be called.  After 20 minutes of waiting (not bad, actually), we were ushered to our table.  Taking photos was an instinct.  I suppose this is true with anyone who has been to Modern Toilet.  I looked around and almost everyone was taking photos.  Do people come here to eat?  Seems to me that eating is secondary in this place.  Toilet bowls for seats, bathroom sinks for tables, giant toilet plungers protruding from the ceiling - very whimsical.  It was like being in a cartoon.  And the plates: well they weren't actually plates as we know them but mini ceramic toilet bowls, urinals, soap dishes.  Just about anything you can find in a toilet. 
Looking at other people's food kept me from ordering.  I was actually enjoying the spectacle.  Besides, I still wasn't hungry enough and nothing on the menu seemed to jump start my appetite.  After what seemed like an eternity, we started ordering:  Dragon Eggs, Sweet Corn & Bacon Jacket Potato.  Japanese Milky Hot Pot.  Hmmm.  Until now, I still don't know what to make of it.  Different perhaps?  It wasn't bad but it wasn't that good either.  Bah, I am at a deadlock.  
Dragon Eggs - breaded pork sausages with corn served on a soap dish.  Salty-sweet flavor combination.  Nice.

Sweet Corn & Bacon Jacket Potato - it was bland at first but when I got to the middle, it got better.  Generous amount of white onions inside, yum.

Japanese Milky Hot Pot - the star dish of the night but I still don't know what to make of it.  My mind is still accustomed to the salty taste of hot pot broth.  This one however, was sweet-ish so it put me off in a way.   But after a while, I got used to it so I guess it was all right in the end.

Strawberry Smoothie - this one was a hit.  What a way to cool off on a warm night.  They probably had too much milk anyway so instead of chucking it out the back door, why not use some on the hot pot, right?

           Over all, the food is nothing much to rave about.  I would, however, recommend this restaurant for the novelty and experience of dining in unconventional style.
                                                               A mural of toilet seat covers.

                                                                Wall lined with urinals.

Modern Toilet

3/F, 240-244 Portland Street
Mong Kok

Eating Hong Kong - Part 1 (continued)

Day 1
Dinner: L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

After our afternoon shopping in Causeway Bay, we barely had two hours to get back to our hotel for a rest before getting ready for dinner.

Fast forward to two hours later. Although the restaurant's address says The Landmark, we had to step outside the mall onto Queen's Road to get to the atelier's main entrance. Opening the door, we enter into a foyer lined with black walls. The lift was on the right, leading to the restaurant on the fourth floor. The ambience is dark; with its minimal lighting , I had to focus a bit on navigating myself to my seat which is pulled up to a bar-style countertop that surrounds an open-to-view kitchen.

There are two sets of menus: the Small Tasting Portions menu (very much self-explanatory) and La Carte, which consists of appetizers and full-sized entrées. Most of the dishes come in small tapas-like portions, but they still show a high degree of innovation and finesse. We decided to go for items on the Small Tasting Portions menu so we could have a variety of food to eat - yay! The maitre d' tirelessly explained each and every item on the menu and once we made our choices, he expertly arranged the order in which the dishes would be served for us to enjoy. For starters, we were served a complimentary White Asparagus Jelly with Tomato Purée. It was refershing and cool to the palate. I liked the asparagus bits on top as they were crunchy.

The food was beyond perfect. From the home-made bread basket to the salad with the freshest ingredients, the scallops, poached baby oysters, langoustine ravioli with foie gras sauce, and veal paillard, I could only say "oh my God" after every bite. Fresh, high quality ingredients made this a magnificent gastronomical experience.

King Crab and Avocado Salad with Buffalo Mozarella and Extra Virgin Olive Oil - You can taste the freshness of everything in this salad. The buffalo mozarella was so soft, it just melted in my mouth.

Scallops cooked in the shell with Seaweed Butter - oh my oh my, the scallops were cooked beyond perfection, and the seaweed butter was divine.

Poached Baby Kumamoto Oysters with Echiré Butter - These cute oysters were only 2 inches in (shell) size. I don't have a clue what Echiré butter is, but it sure tastes great, and I would like more on my poached oysters, s'il vous plait.

Corn Soup with Foie Gras - I love foie gras; I could eat it anytime. The soup was rich and creamy and although foie gras was already rich in itself, it didn't overpower the flavor of the soup.

Langoustine Ravioli with Foie Gras Sauce - this was the highlight of my dégustation. A generous chunk of langoustine inside each ravioli, topped with foie gras sauce. What more could I ask for?

L'Atelier's Signature Mashed Potato - the best mashed potato I have ever had.  The consistency is almost runny; the velvety texture and flavor are amazing.

Veal Paillard topped with rocket salad and truffles - by the time this dish was served, I was getting full so I didn't quite enjoy it as much as the previous dishes. I could have done without this dish, but I must say the truffles made me put a few forkfuls in my mouth.

For dessert we had Les Glaces, a trio of raspberry, lemon, and mango sorbets; and Le Chocolat Sensation. The sorbets were refreshing and super smooth - no lumps of ice crystals. Le Chocolat Sensation was in a league of its own. It left me speechless, so I just closed my eyes and indulged in this wonderful dessert.

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Shop 401, 4/F The Landmark
Queen's Road, Central

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eating Hong Kong - Part 1

I've been to Hong Kong at least 10 times in the last two years but never have I really ventured out to search for and eat local food, until recently. Not just local food but good, local food. Armed with a big appetite and a strong stomach, I embarked on a four-day food trip (or should I say odyssey) with an old friend who equally enjoys good eats. This four-part blog series covers our food adventure around Hong Kong as we ate in posh restaurants, working-class restaurants, yum cha houses, roasteries, and even concept restaurants.

Day 1
Lunch: Wing Hop Shing Restaurant

Claypot Rice with Beef and EggClaypot Rice with Pork  SpareribsThis restaurant allegedly serves the best clay pot rice in Hong Kong since they bake the rice instead of cooking and just serving it in a clay pot. We ordered Clay Pot Rice with Beef and Egg, and Clay Pot Rice with Pork Spareribs. I must say we were expecting a bit more from the beef rice, having been featured in food articles, blogs, and all. It was bland so we had to put soy sauce which, in a way, did its magic. The texture is a different story, though. The rice was perfectly cooked, not sticky. The Pork Spareribs Clay pot was tastier, owing to the salty black beans. Over all, the food was just average. They have loads of other dishes on their menu, but alas, everything is in Cantonese.

Wing Hop Shing 
113-115 Jervois Street 
Sheung Wan 
Open until 4 pm only. Closed on Sundays.

Day 1
Post-lunch (7 minutes later): Dim Sum Square

Right after lunch, we decided to walk around Sheung Wan to explore potential food dives. We haven't walked 100 meters and we see this dim sum place right away. They had an enticing picture menu so like moths to a flame, we went inside albeit a bit full from our clay pot rice lunch. Boy, were we glad we went inside to eat (again). The Chicken and Sliced Abalone in Bean Curd Wrapping was delicious. The meat and abalone were oh so tender, and the sauce had a nice hint of ginger. The Pan-Fried Pork Buns were equally good - imagine gyoza filling in soft white buns.

Finally, just for the sake of trying it, we had Glutinous Rice with Assorted Meat in Lotus Leaves. That was just heavenly - it made me forget that bit of a disappointment at Wing Hop Shing. And the rice, you might ask? Perfectly cooked, of course.

Dim Sum Square 
88 Jervois Street 
Sheung Wan.

Day 1
Afternoon Snack: Mochi Sweets

     We headed on to Causeway Bay for some shopping (and calorie burning......riiiight.). As we were heading out the exit at Windsor House, we came across this kiosk selling beautiful mochi. Okay, we had to stop and ogle, which eventually led to buying a couple: Cream Chocolate and Mango Mousse. Do you sometimes have that feeling that something will taste good just because it looks pretty? Well this one fit the bill easily. I didn't mind waiting 20 minutes for the balls to thaw out before sinking my teeth into them. It was so creamy inside and the mochi skin was so smooth, it didn't even stick to my front teeth after biting into it.

Japanese Luxury Deli
G/F Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Rd.
Causeway Bay