Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hong Kong Eat List

Where to eat the next time you are in Hong Kong

Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, July 2, 2015

In my iPhone notes I keep a catalog of my favorite restaurants in the cities I frequent. My Hong Kong list has remained the same over the last year (Mott 32, Ronin, Liberty Private Works, Lung King Heen, Tate, Carbone…) until the past weekend when I flew to the gastronomic capital of Asia for a quick trip with the parents. I happily added three new restaurants to the precious list.

You see, my folks are not huge fans of western food, especially those that look like miniature artworks on a plate. Their idea of a good meal consists of roasted meats (plenty of them and preferably served with innards), braised abalone, sea cucumber, shad fish, and a thick almond cream with egg white for dessert. So when I announced that we will be celebrating Father’s Day at Serge et le Phoque, disappointment was written all over their faces.

Serge et le Phoque

The French restaurant was located right beside the Wanchai Market. We walked past it a couple of times before we finally found the entrance (tip: look for the row of colorful chairs). Mom kind of freaked out when she was told the restroom was outside at the parking lot next door, but as soon as we were seated and served the first dish of crispy white bait with seaweed flakes, I knew I made the right decision. Chef Frédéric Peneau, formerly of Le Chateaubriand, and Chef Christophe Pelé, formerly of La Bigarrade in Paris, served a fun and unpretentious 7-course menu starting with a frozen ceviche of oyster with coconut milk and fresh raspberry, followed by tasty frog legs in tamarind sauce. It was my first time to have yellowtail sashimi with peanuts and fresh peach, and what a revelation! 

Yellowtail sashimi, peach, peanuts, sea grape, black garlic, squid ink

Grilled scallop was served on a velvety cauliflower puree and sprinkled with matcha powder, the almost-raw-the-way-I-like-it mackerel was complemented with smoked eggplant topped with seaweed and sesame seeds, and my favorite course, the pigeon, was cooked so masterfully with its skin all crisped up yet its meat remained red, moist and tender. The gamey bird was served with blackberries and in a pool of sauce made with its own liver. Killer. 

French pigeon, beetroot, blackberry, pigeon liver sauce

Serge et le Phoque surprised us dish after dish after dish, but nothing could have prepared me for the desserts. The unassuming pot of lemon cream blew me away. It was the lightest in texture, like clouds, but packed a punch of tangy, citrusy, milky flavors. The painfully plain-looking chocolate tart was the smoothest, deepest dark chocolate dessert, and it was playfully sprinkled with you’d never guess - kiamoy crumbles!!! It was a perfect meal from start to finish, and my only complaint was the kitchen forgot my request to write a Happy Father’s Day greeting on the dessert, although I could see from my dad’s face and bulging stomach that he had a fantastic one.

Dark chocolate tart 

The next day I brought the parents to have something they both love – Cantonese cuisine. Seventh Son Restaurant is the successful attempt by the seventh son (surprise, surprise!) of the famous Fook Lam Moon family to branch out on his own.

Seventh Son Restaurant

It was comforting to be back in a traditional chinese restaurant setting with tasteful, no-frills interiors and good old charsiu – no iberico pork or ultra chic bathrooms, which I both adore, by the way. We enjoyed barbecued pork and a plate of honey glazed chicken liver before we moved on to two of the most exquisite dimsum dishes I’ve had in a while - steamed fish tripe and steamed tofu skin roll stuffed with roast duck and vegetables.

Steamed tofu skin roll stuffed with roast duck and vegetables

The goose web was cooked expertly with Japanese tofu and crisp vegetables in a rich and tasty thick brown sauce. The signature stuffed crab was pregnant with generous chunks of crab meat sautéed with sweet onions. 

Stuffed crab

I drooled over other tables’ orders of whole suckling pigs and made a mental note to come back with a bigger group, there was only so much three people with huge appetites could eat. Our desserts of malay sponge cake, almond cream with egg white, and walnut soup were among the best we’ve had. Every dish at Seventh Son was carefully prepared, the ingredients fresh, and the service exemplary. The parents were delighted. So was I.

Suckling pig

Yat Lok’s roast goose proved to be the biggest surprise of the trip. I wasn’t expecting much from the tiny Hong Kong style eatery. We arrived before noon and were seated immediately.

Colorful chopsticks at Yat Lok and my HK style milk tea

Sexy roast geese hung from the open kitchen, and beside it were buckets of used plastic spoons and chopsticks ready for dishwashing. If you do not mind this view, hurried service, cramped and communal seating, a meal at Yat Lok is a must.

Sexy geese

 My roast goose and charsiu rice combo

I don’t care if you order it with rice or noodles, just order the drumstick, not the breast part, not the chasiu nor roast pork, just the roast goose leg with skin that glistens, and meat that is flavorful and succulent and almost falls off the bone. Go early to avoid the queue that was forming when we left with happy bellies at half past noon.

Yat Lok at 12:30pm

Serge et le Phoque is located at 3 Wanchai Road, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 5465 2000.

Seventh Son is at the 5th and 6th floors of Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wanchai. Tel: +852 2892 2888.

Yat Lok is at 34-36 Stanley Street, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2524 3882.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Smith Butcher and Grill Room ♥ ♥

I don't know how this steak place escaped me. The staff said Smith Butcher and Grill Room
 has been open since March. Hidden behind the parking lot and with no signage at all, 
it certainly does not want to be found. I must admit I love it for that.

The Bar

Wine nook


Steak Room

Everything at Smith screams steak, including the couches!

More seating

Semi-open kitchen

What a pleasant surprise to see Chef Steven Scudder, formerly of Bistro Mondo, at its helm

It was a bit chilly at our table and the kind staff at Smith handed us shawls to keep us warm

And this bottle of Layer Cake kept us even warmer. 
I really enjoyed the chocolate and black currant flavors of this California wine.

Complimentary snack of oyster rockefeller

Big Eye Tuna Poke

Big chunks of local tuna tossed in a mixture of wasabi, calamansi and avocado, and topped 
with caviar. A nice way to start our meat-laden dinner.

A Little "Cheeky" - a cheeky name for my favorite non-steak dish of the night. 
Braised veal cheeks open ravioli stewed in shiraz with mushrooms and wild spinach.

The meat was exceptionally tender and oh so flavorful! 

And then, the main event. A platter of steaks from different countries.

Charolais filet mignon, chilled and air flown from France

Matsuzaka beef, chilled and flown in direct from Japan

Grass-fed, 45-day dry aged sirloin from Ireland

The steaks come with your choice of sauces. I like mine as it is,
or sometimes with a dab of mustard or horseradish

Choose your weapon

This reminds me of The Steak House at The Intercontinental Hong Kong, where diners are
asked to choose from the handsome selection of knives, pretty-colored sea salts, and the 
biggest collection of mustards I have ever seen. Check out my post here.

The French steak was the leanest and most tender, the kind that I don't really care for. 

The Matsuzaka needs no introduction. You know how much I loooooove fatty Japanese beef.
Can't have too much of it, but I'll have it every chance I get. Lol. I just wish the kitchen grilled
the steak over higher heat to bring out more of that precious flavor.

The Irish steak was the biggest surprise. I'd never had it before Smith and it tasted beefy
and macho, the kind of steak I imagine Channing Tatum would love. Of course, like me, 
Channing would have wanted it a little more bloody. 

Our healthy friend Marco had the chargrilled Norwegian king salmon and was quite happy with it.

However hungry you still are, I advise against ordering the plateau de fruits de mer

It had (previously frozen) lobster, tuna sashimi, a teaspoon of oscietra caviar and a lot of ice

Oysters, mussels, tiger prawns

At P2,800, you are better off ordering another steak

Or four of the Smith Burger
"Toasted British bap, with gooey melted mature cheddar, sharp and English just like my nature, caramelized maui onions, sweet, tart and sticky, and of course premium selected hand cut aged 
beef ground with just the amount of fat for full flavor, sun ripened tomato from local farms, 
and our secret sauce." - SMITH

It was good burger. If it came with blue cheese, I would be back for it often. 

We had two desserts which you can skip.

Belgian white chocolate macadamia cheesecake

White, milk and dark chocolate mousse with wild strawberries

Both forgettable.

Smith is still on its soft opening stage and I see a lot of potential. 
I love the concept and ambiance, the meats are good quality and the service thoughtful, 
but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Most importantly, it needs better desserts. 

I will be back and next time I'll come with a group and reserve this space. I get some sort 
of cheap thrill knowing the cows are watching while I eat my beef.  

Smith Butcher and Grill Room: ACI Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City
Tel: +63927-3759467, +63915-4295167

Smith Butcher and Grill Room Website
Smith Butcher and Grill Room Facebook Page
Smith Butcher and Grill Room Instagram

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ming Kee, A Third Time ♥ ♥ ♥

Back at Ming Kee and this time with my family for our Sunday dinner.

I spy more live seafood this time (they ran out last visit!)

Oysters and clams

Sea mantis, lobster, garoupa

Complimentary pickles

Your eyes are probably bleeding after seeing repeat dishes from my Ming Kee posts, but I ordered the same stuff again this time because I was with MK virgins and wanted them to try my favorites.

Crispy Fish Skin

Ming Kee Homemade Tofu

Oyster Omelette

Sambal Clams

Tip: Dip crispy fish skin in sambal sauce

Crab Beehoon. Always a must!

Sometimes they give you a bowl of tea for cleaning your fingers. Sometimes they don't. Ask for it!

Tried a couple new dishes, too.

Guiness Beer Pork Ribs

Seafood Hofan - texture of the noodles was different this time. The management said they
changed suppliers but will work to get the old one back. Anyway, go for the beef!

Poached apple - zzzzzzz

Lychee pudding - quite delightful if you can get past the deformity. Lol.

I am so glad Mom insisted we order the Yam Paste dessert. They serve it differently now, 
mashing the taro over fire until smooth and creamy.

Not like the very first time I had it. Bleck!!!

Next time I will ask them to replace the pumpkin with more taro. All taro lovers should do the same. ;)

My Sunday Crew ♥

See my previous Ming Kee posts:

Ming Kee: 7852 Makati Avenue, Poblacion, Makati (Across Berjaya Hotel)
Tel: +632 893 4533

Ming Kee Website

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