Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hong Kong - Shirokiya No.1 Japanese Casual Restaurant 白木屋居樂屋

One of the best things after a long afternoon/evening of tennis is the group that adjourns for dinner.  The Kowloon side is relatively unexplored for me and it's always nice to get to new places.  There are hits and misses of course but I thought that with the right expectations and knowing what to order, Shirokiya can be a hit. 

The key to success:  stick with the fun stuff and avoid the classics.  Classic sashimi and sushi are not the highlights here so you can give them a miss unless you really must.  It's an Izakaya for heaven's sakes.

What we had fun with and enjoyed:

The Japanese omelette stuffed with eel

The carpaccio of salmon, yellowtail with a light dressing. 

The dressing on this dish made the difference - with a Japanese twist, the tang was nicely balanced with the soya and dusted wtih crushed pepper, it was quite an appetiser.  Only complaint - the octupus was too chewy.  If you order this, see if they can substitute with more fish and give Octopussy a miss.  Other complaint: this was forgotten and came after we ate most of our other food. 

Hamburger Steak Sushi

An interesting combination of 2 classics.  Wasn't spectacular but few can complain about Japanese style hamburg steak. 

Crab meat pizza

The pizzas were surprisingly very good - thin crust and generous toppings.  The crab meat pizza was our favourite, followed by the teriyaki chicken.  Given the salmon a miss since we thought it was less than mediocre.

Korean style Kimchi fried rice. 

Surprisingly tasty and made even better with the bacon and eggs.  It was actually the first dish to arrive (did I say service is a little weird here) and the hungry wolves polished this off in about 45 seconds flat.

Curry hotpot

This took a long time coming and we were hoping to cancel since we were quite stuffed but they charged us for it and insisted that they were already preparing it.  It wasn't bad at all especially if you like your Japanese curry but we would have enjoyed it a lot more if it came in the thick of dinner.  Generous chucks of prawns, scallops, clams, chicken and accompanied by lots of cabbage, potatoes and carrots made the soup very sweet and drinkable. 

Lest I forget, the drinks list is pretty incredible- both alcoholic and non.  I enjoyed my white peach calpico a lot!  Very thirst-quenching!

While I won't go out of my way to eat at Shirokiya, it is a worthwhile option if you want  to check out the humongous MegaBox mall in Kowloon Bay.  Make sure you're in a good mood since the service can be a little trying too.

Unit 34, Level 2,
Entreprise Square 5,
38 Wang Chiu Road
Kowloon Bay
Tel: +852-2817 5788

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Singapore - Tung Lok Classics

It's been crazy busy with the the Public Affairs Institute and Roundtable all week and trying to catch up on work in the evenings.. what a life. And obviously, nothing food blog worthy all week. Just as well, since I haven't kept up. So this post is a little late, since I ate there 2 weeks ago, but still recent enough to recall the experience.

By Tung Lok standards, it was pretty decent. Not spectacular but worth a visit. Its clean take on Chinese classics and customised for local palates without taking away too much of the real thing, is commendable.

Some hits:

My favourite Shanghainese soup - Yan Du Xian - with twisted bean curd sheets, bamboo and flavoured with Yunnan ham and salted pork belly pieces, makes for a heartwarming way to start the meal, especially as the weather cools. Ok, Singapore doesn't really get cool, so maybe with a lot of rain, and a full blast of air-conditioning will get you there.

The steamed soon hock with chillies (朵椒) - a favourite from Chairman Mao's hometown of Hunan was very good. The fish was steamed just right - and the flesh was still juicy and fall off the bone fresh and the chillies added a freshness to the dish, since it wasn't too spicy at all.

The seafood fried rice in lotus leaf, gratin-ed on the top with melted cheese was very well done. Fluffy and tasty, with generous bits of shrimp, scallops and other seafood bits. The bacon adds a dimension and brought out the flavours of the different ingredients. Simple but well executed.

The biggest miss was the Eight treasures served in sesame pockets. The pockets, which are usually baked, was a tad oily so I think they might have been deep fried. The eight treasures were a little heavy handed - as they are usually, but did nothing for me. Won't order it again..

A pleasant experience and worth a second visit. With Tung Lok restaurants, best to hit it after 12 months and see if the good chefs are still around. Seems to be a problem with their other outlets but I'm hoping it's different this time.

Chinese Swimming Club
21 Amber Road, #03-00
Singapore 439870
Tel: +65 6345 0111

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Singapore - Quan Fa Organic Farm

I'm not a huge fan of organic, although if I can get access to it, I would not mind paying for it.  There are too many reports out there about what's good for your body and while some would even take on a raw diet, I like food too much to give up the cooked part of it!  But a farm visit could be enlightening and besides, you don't have to go RAW to eat vegetables.  So off I went to Quan Fa over the weekend. 

Of course when you get there, it is ironic (and a tad sad) that you do see the huge chicken coops owned by Chew's and flocks of them sitting inside, doing their thing, laying eggs, chatting... and waiting for the inevitable.

Max the heir apparent at Quan Fa does the tours and can be entertaining - ask him about the fireball he witnessed as a teenager - since the farm is situated not far from the many cemeteries in the area.  He says there are about 40 varieties, not of fireballs, but vegetables at his farm.  We looked in awe as he led us through his seeding area - sprouts were very sweet and fragrant...
The uncovered (hardy vegetable) area boasted old cucumbers (great for Chinese soups), eggplant.
The winner of the covered area was the Kai Lan - and the stem particularly.  Extremely crunchy, juicy and sweet, and yes this was raw, fresh off the soil.
And because this is an organic farm, there is no animal waste and of course, no chemcals, in the compost - so less stinky. 
The tour ends with a little sampling of the vegetables in the retail area (open only on weekends and on cash terms only).  All good but the corn is worthy of special mention.  Almost as good as those you eat in fine Japanese restaurants and imported.  Cooking this is a waste so just eat like you would a fruit. 
I'm still not inspired enough to go raw but there are options with smoothies and ingenious salads which you can have to supplement your diet.  After all, EVERYTHING in moderation, right?  And eating healthy never hurt anyone.
Quan Fa Organic Farm
35 Murai Farmway
Singapore 709145
+65-6793 7693

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Singapore - Rocks Urban Grill & Bar

The views are great, once you find it.  Or, the views will be great, when you find it, when the Marina area construction is completed.  We had trouble finding it, we overheard fellow diners attempting to give directions to their friends who were late or to taxi drivers.  Well folks, it is new but it has potential. 

The food was decent for a bistro but there wasn't a wow item - the sourdough bread from other FLOGs seems to be pretty popular though.  And why not.  Served warm on a wooden bread board, it is chewy yet soft. 

The Caesar salad was fairly good although the dressing was disappointingly garlicky without much else.  Could have used a couple more egg yolks and anchovies.  But produce was fresh, not just the crisp leaves but cheese too.

Oysters were fresh and succulent but way too briney for me, and the added salt did not help.  The vinegar dressing and lemons did not do enough to neutralise the salt content. 

Our main of the cheeseburger was tasty enough although the beef was packed a little too tightly for my liking.  But it was very decent beef though. 

Only snag - fries are a separate order so don't forget them if you like your fries - tasty enough and served in a air-tight jar for aesthetics.

Overall, a nice corner of the CBD to dine in, and I can imagine a bustling place for lunch given its location.  The food is decent, but the views will be better.
2 Marina Boulevard
The Sail #02–01/02
Tel: +65-64384404

Hong Kong - Jean Paul Hevin

Seriously, despite the perennial need for a woman to watch her waistline faithfully, no woman complains about receiving chocolates.  Well, especially if they are made by renowed chocolatiers using the freshest ingredients.  French but with stores outside of Paris also, in Tokyo and Hong Kong, his chocolates are aromatic and appropriately sweet.  And of course, very smooth. 
I do love his traditional chocolate-based macarons for that reason.  And so thank you E, for sharing your birthday treats.  I hope you savoured the rest slowly...  Happy Belated Birthday!

Harbour City
Shop 212, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Tel : +852-2735 3268

Times Square
Shop 309, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel : +852-2111 9967