Thursday, November 26, 2009

Birthday treats

Stay tuned for the line-up of birthday feasts here!  I've just been too busy eating to blog!  Promises to start this weekend - from home dining, to Omakase at Sushi Imamura to the grand finale at Pierre!  With visitors in town over the next 2 weeks, hopefully more exciting and yummy finds to share.  Don't touch that mouse!  

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I became an aunt this week, Nov 10 to be exact.  Exciting!  Zachary was born in Washington DC and I look forward to meeting the little guy soon.  Congratulations Eugene and Claire.  Here's to many sleepless nights..  ;)

Hong Kong - Le Soleil

As far as hotel food and beverage standards go, most would agree that Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui embodies high standards.  While unlikely in the eyes of many given its 4-star rating on rooms, the food and beverage outlets which include Inagiku and Sabatini are well in excess of 5 stars.  On the back of the benchmark, we decided to try Le Soleil, Royal Garden's foray into Vietnamese in bringing in the name from San Francisco where it has its roots.  Not new by any means, but it was our first time.

Set on the highest terrace within the hotel, it is a comfortable setting with spacious seating, much like dining under the stars but sheltered from the elements.  The decor is casual, and even with having to wait close to an hour for my guests, time passes you by easily.  The service is decent enough although we notice the system breaking down with the drinks - all of us having been asked twice whether we would like something to drink.  Attentive but spotty - but a small snag in the grand scheme of things.

The food experience was overall decent but loses out in wow factor to the other outlets.  Perhaps I am just that more a fan of Japanese and Italian cuisine, than I am of Viet.  By for those who love Viet, Le Soleil should not disappoint.

Our starter of the seafood and pomelo salad beats the Thai version hands down.  Fresher in taste with hints of fish sauce and lime cutting through, the absence of desiccated cocunut as with its Thai counterpart was a welcome change.  The seafood used was also crunchy and fresh.

The crispy Royal spring rolls were well fried and not greasy and was fresh to the bite when wrapped in crisp lettuce and dipped in the accompanying fish sauce.  Well executed although not spectacular.

The crab steamed in Vietnamese beer was a nice take on preparing steamed crab and the beer brought out the freshness and natural sea-sweetness of the crab.  Served on a bed of beer-laced egg white, it was easy to polish off the whole crab without feeling stuffed.

Of course, the greatness of every Vietnamese restaurant must be measured by its beef pho.  In this instance, we decided to do the upscale version which comes served with  Miyazaki beef.  Of course, the well marbled, melt in your mouth piece of meat, added to the decadence of the usually simple dish served at all times of the day, in still largely impoverished Vietnam.  No complaints though.  The staple of the stock was still well brewed, with enough of the beefy taste still there, made up with various parts of the cow, and served up, including tripe, brisket slices and a bouncy beef ball.

Vietnamese cuisine, being light and non-greasy, ensured we left room for dessert.  Their chocolate and banana pudding served up with a soursop sherbet, extended the theme.  Light and fresh, it was a nice finish to the meal.

3/F, The Royal Garden, 
69 Mody Road 
Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: +852-2733 2033

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Marrying the best of both worlds..

Kudos to the brilliant photographer commissioned by Lindt to take this photo.  For me, it captures the marrying of both of my passions, tennis and quality cuisine.  The appointment of Roger Federer as Lindt's first ambassador in its 160-year tradition speaks to the respect the Company has for his amazing accomplishments, in particular his 15 grand slams at aged 28.  The most that any male tennis player has ever accumulated in his career, and that's just the obvious.  His other accolades both on and off the court speak to his quest for perfection.  Just look all the chefs' adoring eyes focused on him...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Moments we work for..

At the end of a long week, it's always nice to welcome the weekend with a decadent meal.. enjoying seasonal goodies like monk fish liver, cod sperm sacs...  ok for the uninitiated, that didn't sound right.  But the point is if you never try, you never know.   See   Also, the Botan prawn was so fresh that it hadn't even gotten rigor mortise yet.  The head started moving a little when I was still chewing the very bouncy flesh of the body and ok, initial reaction was freaky but then think about how fresh that is! 

Of course, decadence is when you have everything you like served up all at once.  How? See for yourself..

Aburi minced Toro with scallop embedded, topped with Uni and Salmon roe, and naturally seasoned with spring onions (2 varieties) and seaweed...  who could ask for anything more?


And Teppanyaki Hida beef...  laced with garlic and spring onions served with a slice of thick bread to soak up the goodness..  need I say more.  Makes the work week worthwhile... 

All delicious creations are courtesy of Hana Sakazuki.

2/F Ming An Plaza Phase II
8 Sunning Road,
Causeway Bay,
Hong Kong

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lok Yuen Dai Pai Dong 樂園大排檔

I know of Dai Pai Dongs - the quintessential place to enjoy a hearty dinner/supper in old Hong Kong.  The real ones which are open air and not placed in a market or food centre are disappearing fast as Hong Kong develops its land all over the island.  This was my first time at a semi-real Dai Pai Dong.  It is open air but has a fixed shelter and was a little more comfortable than I thought it would be.  Of course, the crowds are there but that gives you comfort that there is quick turnover, ensuring food is fresh. 

Lok Yuen was a good initiator.  With some really tasty items, the range we tried was pretty competent.  Putting my MSG attack thereafter aside (to be expected at these old style places I suppose - they only had Pepsi and not Coke - which explains it), I did have an enjoyable experience especially in a large and hungry group!

Winners of the late evening:

Roast Chicken

Oyster Omelette

Stir-fried clams in black bean sauce

Other pretty decent and worth trying items:

Sweet sour spare ribs;    
                                                                                        Steamed pork patty with salted egg yolk

Grilled eel with a honey based sauce

My only disappointment was the garouper fillet pieces in a sweet corn sauce.  Typically my one of my favourite homestyle dishes, this was a little too bland for me here.  Kinda blah unfortunately... 
All in all, a fun experience and for those who've never been or for those who want to want to relive their childhoods, not bad at all.  If you the reader, have other suggestions about similar places worth trying, please ping me!

No.1, Dai Pai Dong,
Wo Che Est Market
Sha Tin, New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: +852-2691 3933