Friday, March 29, 2013

Lunch at ManWah

I’ve been to Man Wah for lunch twice since I’ve started living here and it is one of the best dim sum places that I've been to. Fook Lam Moon is a very close second for me, and what makes these two places that I have had really good dim sum at is simply really good execution of food.

My first lunch here was just a small sampling of their dim sum and to my surprise everything that we had was really good. I expected it to be good and for some dishes to fall short but I’m glad to report that everything that we had was GOOD. One of the best things that we had was their signature Black pepper beef puff pastry and this was probably the best thing that we had that lunch. The beef is pepper with a bite and pastry is paper crisp and not greasy, and well layered to for enough textural bite but light and airy, really amazing.

 My second lunch here was during the hairy crab season where they featured a hairy crab menu. The menu featured some of their signature dim sum – black pepper beef puff pastry and hairy crab dishes. Whilst the roe is the most prized of the crab and was featured against a bowl of white rice – I felt that there wasn’t enough of it to enjoy it because much of my hairy crab fest experiences are more like "death by hairy crab until the next season", the other dishes used the overlooked parts such as the crab legs that were sautéed with Shanghainese rice cakes. In addition to the menu, we ordered a serving of crab meat and roe tart and this was the highlight for me. A little over the top tiny tart, flaky pastry cup packed with probably the amount of roe and crab that almost equated to a crab. Concentrated hairy crab flavor, now this is what I’m more used to with hairy crab – excess, over the top and now I had my fill to the next hairy crab season. Man Wah didn’t disappoint.

The food is excellent and the XO sauce condiment is something that I could pile on to most things. In addition to that, it is a room with a view and with fabulous service. All in all this is a very good restaurant.

Man Wah
(at Mandarin Oriental HK)
5 Connaught Road West
Tel: +852 2825 4003

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Giro Giro

The space at Giro Giro looks cool. The food here is a modern take on kaiseki (same structure less fuss), and much like its space – an old building that kept most of its old structure but now has a buzzing kitchen in the centre of it – it has a bit of old, a bit of new and together it has funk. All in all, it is delicious keiseki food that is chic and accessible to most people without breaking the bank.

Dinner Menu from 23 Nov 2011

Platter of amuse bouche, tofu, abalone with miso, potato with squid guts, egg custard with burdock, prawns with goma, pumpkin with brown tea, seaweed with miso and ume

cod roe and seaweed tempura in a red radish soup

smoked salmon and oyster sashimi

smoked a la minute at the table, there is just enough smoke for flavor but not over power the raw ingredients.

grilled hamachi in white miso, with daikon and ginger, onion and yuzu and pickled apple

crab tofu, crab soup and mushroom

Tonjiro of pork and clam soup

Kimedai with tea

Pumpkin with bitter tea sauce, chestnut ice cream, black sesame mochi filled with sweet red bean, yasahashi with cinnamon and filled with pickled apple and blue cheese

Giro Giro
420-7 Nanba-cho, Nishi Kiya-machi-dori
Higashigawa, Matsubarashita, Shimogyo-ku
Kyoto, Japan
Tel: +81-(75)343-7070

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Takazawa - Eating ART

Takazawa is known for his innovative and imaginative ways with food. Just google “Takazawa” and you’ll get multiple links to pictures and descriptions of his signature 15 vegetable ratatouille that is an exquisitely crafted vegetable terrine that represents his Japanese influenced take on a classically French dish. Other than the stylish plates of food that he presented through the night, what I learnt and really respect about Takazawa and his wife is the passion that they have for what they do and the incredible humility in the way that they perform their craft.

Takazawa’s food celebrates life. His menu is all about imagining and celebrating nature, the seasons and Japanese culture. From his amuse of roasted soy beans which was part of the celebration of Spring Setsubun where it is customary to eat your age equating number of roasted soya beans to sake lee based sauce in his MONOTONE dish. The stories that he plates are simple
and they keep pointing back to the seasons and nature through the selected seasonal ingredients and the inspired imaginative plating.The meal had a good progression, the first courses were light and more vegetable centric and it then progressed to the heavier tasting dishes –goat, foie gras, lamb. All in all it was a magnificent meal where I appreciated the high level of culinary technique that was required to execute the dishes, the clean and interesting flavor combinations and the whimsical plating.

roasted soya beans and baby sardines
In celebration of Setsubun (bean throwing festival). And according to tradition, you are also supposed the same number f soya beans that corresponds to your age.
curry and milk
Liquid Japanese curry in milk film. A good show of technique and it tasted as described - japanese curry and milk, but just as a personal preference I like my curries hot and spicy.

seasonal vegetables - tempura of sansai (mountain vegetables) and "snow" carrot
This was a fun amuse. We were instructed to first eat the tempura of wild vegetables (seasonal vegetable), then to forage through the ice for a hidden treasure. The foraged treasure under the ice was a piece of raw japanese seasonal winter carrot - the carrot is cultivated in a particular way where it matures under the snow during winter that enhances the natural flavour and sweetness of the carrot.

Ratatouille (2005)

Sesame and charcoal bread with pork pate
Seriously yummy!

The crackle of a Snow-hidden ice-skin (NEW)

Raw pieces of himemasu (hokkaido river trout) in ice cold water and a liquid nitrogen created ice covering. To eat, you have to go ice fishing with your spoon - crack the ice and enjoy the trout with the garnishes and salt, much like what you need to do when fishing for this trout in the Hokkaido river. A very mild tasting fish with firm flesh.
Vegetable Parfait (2011)

A cornucopia of ingredients and textures - tomato jelly, tomato water, cucumber jelly, paprika, basil, parmesan foam, crispy black cabbage, caviar, edible flowers and sprouts - that came together for a very refreshing gazpacho-like dish.
[GREEN] tea (NEW)

A two part dish.
Part one - green vegetable consomme made from steeping cabbage, fava beans, asparagas, garden peas, snow peas, edamame, mizuna and radish to form a very fresh, green vegetable taste.
Part two - the green vegetables that still retained their structural interity and taste that we enjoyed with a squirt of sudachi and matcha salt. 
Carpaccio (NEW)
Smoked young hokkaido goat carpaccio with rabe, pistachio, pistachio oil. I've never had smoked goat. It was smoky and salty and it wasn't too gamey and tasted close to beef.
Candleholder (2007)

Foie gras creme brulee, mango and kamquat jam with raisin and walnut bread. The foie gras that was buttery and the sweetness from mango and kamquat jam helped to cut through the richness to give the dish a good balance. One of our favourite dishes of the night.
Potato and Butter (2012)
A fluffy mashed potato ball (very gourmet pomme noisettes) that the chef hand split at the table and then topped it with shaved truffles on a "soil" made from miso, gorgonzola and walnut. Cute and tasty.
Shiro amadai (white tile fish) from Nagasaki with turnip on sake sediment and truffle sauce. The fish had a smoky tasting skin and sake sediment sauce was very good. It has a complexity that was probably developed during the sake fermentation process and when used in the sauce, the sauce had many dimensions - sweetish, efferversant and zing. Another one of our favourite dishes of the night.

Roasted duck breast and gobo (burdock) with hazelnut oil and pink peppercorns. Instructions to eat - the duck is hiding, we have to look through the forrest and to shake off the 'snow' (hazelnut oil) off the leaves to seek out the duck. Very well cooked duck with the bite of peppercorns. The gobo however stole the show from the duck on this one.
Grated Cheese ? (2009)
Shaved frozen apple with cinnamon and vanilla. Too airy to get some solid apple taste for me.
Chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream with sugar glass shards. The main play on the dish was the sugar shards that look like ice needles during the Japan winter. I've haven't had that many winters and sugar isn't my thing, so this dessert was a little lost on me.
Petit fours
chilli chocolate, miso cookie, matcha cake and meringue.
After the multi-course tasting menu, I emerged with a smile having being a part of the theatre for that day. 
Sanyo Akasaka Bldg. 2
3-5-2 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81 (03) 3505-5052

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Thanks to Kyoto Foodie who had published a post on Mamezen, I don’t think a lot of us foreign travellers to Kyoto would have ever heard of this place. (Thank you!!) We had a slight issue finding the place – even with google maps and the GPS on our phones, we walked past the restaurant several times before noticing the signage that indicated that we were at the right place. Mamezen is a private kitchen - it is located in a cozy house, and judging by the way it was set up, where I believe Chef Yonegawa resides.

It is a ramen like none other. I am used to the salt lick from the shoyu based ramen or the full on tastes of a tonkatsu broth but this was something really different and something really special. The best way I can describe broth is that it has savoury roundness - umami from the dashi base but a balanced richness from soy milk that gives it that smoothness without the heaviness of a cream or a thickener.

There was a good serene quality to the entire meal. We got there on the late side of lunch so the restaurant was quiet. We sat at the counter and enjoyed being at the “chef’s table”: watching Chef Yonegawa prepare out meal and then us slurping down the noodles. It was a really nice lunch retreat.

Kyoto-shi, Sakyo-ku
Shimogamo, Higashi Takagi-cho 13-4

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Corner Cool: Po's & Deadend

Bready artisan morsels can be found in a corner at Po’s, a corner bakery along Po Hing Fong. At my last visit, instead of the chocolate Danish which I usually have that has a dark rich chocolate and crisp pastry, I had the “Today’s Special” Pain au Chocolate which was a hit and a miss as a whole. The pastry was airy and crisp but I didn’t enjoy the chocolate that was in the croissant pastry – it was too sweet and I couldn’t quite make out what type of chocolate or was it a caramel mix? Moving away from chocolates, one other item that I love and recommend is the Yunnan ham fougasse, that will (unfortunately) cost a large amount of your daily lunch pocket allowance at HKD 50 a pop, is a seriously delicious crusty breadstick with a good chewy texture that is flavoured with cubes of Yunnan ham.

If you want a cuppa just walk a few more steps to the neighbouring Café Deadend. In terms of coffee, my favourite thing to drink here is a dirty. Actually, no make that a dirty double – hot double espresso in a chilled cup and served with cold milk. It is a tricky one. It isn’t neither a piping hot drink that some are very finicky about and the milk isn’t foamed so the milk isn’t aerated to be creamier nor is it cold enough to be an iced coffee. The temperature that you have it is warmer than lukewarm and the idea behind it is that at that temperature, you get to taste more of the coffee, which you really do. This is me having a little whinge - since it’s opening late last year the café has gained a sizable following, which means more people and limited seats. A few months ago, Café Deadend didn’t even have a food menu and only served coffee and it had a more zen vibe about it. That’s all changed; now if you sit indoors (with the roof over your head) you get service and coffee in proper cups and food from their menu. If you sit outdoors, your coffee comes in a plastic cup, you can take out from Po’s and there is no service charge on your bill. In my ideal world, I would like a proper cup, no crowds and no restrictions on takeout from Po’s regardless of where I sit. The choice is yours.

Po’s Atelier
G/F 62 Po Hing Fong
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Café Deadend
G/F 72 Po Hing Fong
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hidemi Sugino

Cakes were never my thing and i never understood the appeal of a mousse cake. Chocolate cakes I don’t mind but I really don’t get frosting and icing. The thing is I really don’t have a sweet tooth, so with food cravings, I would crave savoury, salt, crunchy but almost never sweet. That being said that has never stopped me from watching Top Chef Desserts where I’ve learnt (in theory) about entremets – a multilayered mousse based cake that should consist of a different but complementary flavours and textural elements. The cakes always look pretty on TV or on display but do they always taste that good?

We were in Tokyo and since Hidemi Sugino is so highly regarded mousse cake realm of the dessert hemisphere that I ought to consider giving it 2-3 bites. We found the store just before it opened and joined the line of 10-15 women that were already in line. When the clock struck the opening hour, the shop staff flipped the sign, then stepped out and apologised for the wait and to welcome us into the store (I’m guessing here and imagining my own subtitles because I don’t speak Japanese). We waited our turn and shuffled into the store and picked out a few items. There are strict rules around the consumption of some of these items – only dine in, no take outs because the will compromise the integrity of the cake.

The Ambroisie, Hidemi’s most famous cake, is one of those cakes that fall in eat in category only. When the cake arrived, it looked precious and the chocolate glaze had a really glossy shine. Next I had my wannabe Top Chef judge Dessert moment, where I split the cake down the middle to inspect the layers - dark chocolate glaze, chocolate mousse, pistachio sponge, pistachio mousse, raspberry jam, chocolate sponge. The mousse, which Hidemi is well known for, is velvet smooth, rich tasting and light. The most distinct flavour for me was the chocolate mousse. It was clean and clear with the sweet tartness of the raspberry jam. The texture was also amazingly smooth that just melted away in my. What I loved most about his cake was the balance of flavour and sweetness. It was a beautiful cake, I’m glad I had it because it changed my mind about mousse cakes, however, it was pretty rich stuff, I only managed half the cake and that was enough for me.

Hidemi Sugino
Kyobashi-Daiei Bldg 1F
3-6-17 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Tel: +81 (03)-3538-6780

Labels: , , , , ,