Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Parlour @ Hullett House

I tried my best to carry a "no expectation" attitude walking into The Parlour of Hullett House at 1881 Heritage for afternoon tea because I don't want to be influenced by the negative comments I have been hearing from fellow foodies. My principle is to try it myself, judge it and justify it for myself. Oh man, how truly disappointing was the experience! Before I go on with my review (which is not going to be pretty), let's start with something fun! Let's play the game I named "Count the Newlyweds!" I took this picture outside The Parlour overlooking the main courtyard of 1881 Heritage, can you locate the number of newlyweds in the picture? Zoom in and you will find quite many! lol ... I spotted 6 I think ...

The restaurant was located at the main level of the Hullett House overlooking the whole courtyard with a few tables on the terrace. Sorry for the blur image thanks to the staff who blocked me from taking the picture because for some reason "No Picture Taking is allowed" ... huh?? I requested for an explanation repeated but all I got as an reply was "Sorry, no picture taking is allowed" while the lady at the far table was holding up her iPhone taking a few snaps??? (Or maybe the staff assumed the lady at the back was trying to get a better reception by holding her iPhone above her head??) Not much of a good first impression!

I think I can safety assume that its seasonal Festive Afternoon Tea set is one of the most expensive in town at HKD388 per person or HKD588 for two! I would be fine with the price if the servings / items were good but man, I was quite speechless in way too many perspectives! The tea set menu looked quite nice, the paper used for the menu was thick and expensive. I bet HKD30 worth of what I paid went into this menu! I should have taken the menu home just for the sake of it! Also the picture on the menu truly illustrated the meaning of the following disclaimer on food menu: "photos shown on menu are for reference only."

So what did we get for an Afternoon Tea Set for Two?? Yes, for 2 full grown adults who were willing to pay HKD588. Well, first came the plate of canapé. Where should I start? O yes, ONE mini burger and ONE finger sandwich with cucumbers for 2 to share. That took some skills to cut in half you know! And that finger of mine ... Oh I mean the finger sandwich with cucumber was easier to share and cut because the bread was semi-tough! The name Leek, Almond and Black Truffles Quiche sounded very attractive but the actual thing was very ordinary and cold! The smoked salmon blinis with Aquitaine Caviar tasted very smoked salmon, and it should!

Alright, next came the tower of pastries and scones. That was it? I was expecting more items to be very honestly! 4 Scones, 1 mince pie, 1 macron, 1 gingerbread cupcake, 1 black forest cake and 1 white chocolate lychee cake and ... 2 huge containers of cream and jam place on the top rack. I almost mistaken the cream and jam as some extra sweets!

Let me say it once again, aside from the coffee/tea, that was ALL the items with my Afternoon Tea Set for Two priced at HKD588 + 10% Service Charge. ONE black currant Macaron to share? ONE rock hard minced pie to share? ONE Gingerbread cupcake to share? ONE mini burger to share? Please give me ONE reason not to be unhappy or disappointed!

I could not help myself but to ask the staff what would we get if we ordered the tea set for one? Apparently for the Afternoon Tea Set for ONE, you get one canapé of each kind, 2 scones and 3 of the pastries only instead of the ever-so-generous 5 items placed before us.

The scones were starchy and a strong yeast smell once you cut it in half.

The color of the black currant looked kind of fake but it was the better item compared with the rest.

Quails Egg and Marmite Toast tasted yolk-y and that was it. Good that there were two of this toast because I really don't know how to cut this in half!

What about the rest of the precious items? Well, they were not surprising at all, the mince pie was rock solid, same as the mini gingerbread cupcake and the black forest cake was a bit too sweet.

All our stomachs and taste buds were not very satisfied (and I was pretty disappointed with my experience at The Parlour), we decided to head over to Ocean Terminal to get ourselves some New York Fries (new flavor - mushroom melt!).

Seriously, the Aqua Group which runs all the restaurants at the Hullett House, should put their act together! Maybe afterall I had too much expectation from this place or from the Aqua group? I don't know anything anymore, please share you views. I am now very hesitate in trying the other restaurants at the Hullett House. I just feel sad or maybe unfortunate that for such a prime location, my experience could have been a wonderful one!

I think after this visit, I just helped them recover their renovation cost, perhaps I contributed my share to the door knob??

  • Location / View
  • Please read my review above ...
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person

The Parlour
2A Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3988 0101

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Monday, December 28, 2009

XMAS House Party

It was time for a XMAS house party and I was looking forward to this date because of the turkey!! Thanks again to C who let us host the party at her place. Somehow I love carving the turkey as well as eating it. Most of the items below were ordered in expect for the garlic bread which I attempted but failed to a certain degree. How I failed? ... After cutting the bread I wanted to make the garlic bread by rubbing raw garlic onto the bread surface.

However, it was pretty darn hard to prepare this way. I wasn't sure if I were doing something wrong but I recall someone told me about making it this way and how it would taste much better. I tried one and placed it in the oven but the result was not very ... appetizing. FAILED!

Therefore I resorted back to the old method by mixing finely chopped garlic with some butter and then apply the garlic butter between the slices.

Placed the tray into the oven for 15 minutes at 200C. Apply some finely chopped parsley on top about a minute before it is ready. Pretty good looking right? yeah! It is always the touch of green that makes a world of differences!

As part of the appetizer, we ordered some Caesar Salad, Samosa and Crab Cakes.

The star of the show was of course the turkey!! I think it was a 10kg turkey, a very heavy bird indeed; I know because I carried it! (no cranberry sauce unfortunately, only the good old gravy)

We made some simple pasta as well but I forgot to snap a picture of it because I was busy carving the turkey! As for dessert, we had Mango Tart & Lemon Meringue Tart.

A house party / pot luck party once in a while would be nice!! No need to find a special occasion to host it, it can be a monthly thing! Woohoo!

Chez Moi

There were much buzz about this little private French kitchen hiding somewhere in CWB but why all the buzz? A few of us were here to find out on this lovely evening. There were no hanging signs near the building entrance so it took us a while to find this place. All you will find the little sign on the door, smaller than you would expect. There were nothing overly fancy in the dining area with tables spaciously arranged. The ceiling fan added a touch of colonial atmosphere to the whole decor.

The menu for this evening has several options and we picked one of each so we can try all of them among ourselves. Oh please note that they don;t serve wines here so bring your own bottles with zero corkage fee. Before our appetizer were served, we were given a basket of garlic bread fresh from the oven based on the crisp texture and the wonderful garlic aroma.

(1) Sauteed French Live Mussel with White wine garlic sauce
It was just too salty in general, too much garlic were used. The mussels were unevenly cooked as shown by the several shells which remained closed. There were several broken shells and there were sand in some of them. The sand part was a big No-No for me!

(2) Pan-seared Goose Liver and sliced Caramel Apple with Port white sauce

The size of the Goose Liver Foie Gras was huge! It was too thick in my opinion. There was a thin layer of crystals on the surface, likely a result of potato starch being used to prevent the overcooking of the piece. I personally don't like to crunchy surface. I really appreciate the effort they put into the cooking it (esp the addition of potato starch) but a thinner slice would do the trick right? Plus, the huge piece did not have much flavor to it anyhow. Bigger is not always better.

(Thanks for the smogsblog's clarification, it is indeed a common mistake to describe goose or duck liver as foie gras. I made the same mistake as well. The term foie gras should only be used for goose or duck liver that has been specially fattened typically through gavage (force-feeding) corn.)

(3) Fisherman's Seafood Soup
The flavor was very strong and rich, closer to a seafood bisque. There were plenty of seafood ingredients inside such as diced shrimps, fish and mussels (with sand!!). Good that the next item was the Sherbet so I can clean my palettes.

(4) Homemade Sherbet
Good timing to lighten up my palettes before the main dishes were served.

(5) Grilled Australian Wagyu Rib Eye Steak with Red Wine Sauce
The steak was very nicely done, med rare as we ordered. Flavor of the sauce was adequate not to overtake the beef flavor. The meat was quite tender indeed. Not bad at all.

(6) Grilled US Lamb T-Bone steak with Mashed Vegetables
No surprises here unfortunately. Meat was tender but a bit overcooked to my liking. I still prefer my rack of lamb over lamb T-bone steak.

(7) Pan-fried Cod with Macadamia Nuts Better Sauce
The cod was alright, not as "fishy oily" as I expected it. The sweet potato mash was a nice touch. I actually liked the sauce and it went quite well with lightly flavored fish in general.

(8) Bread Butter Pudding with Ice Cream
That was not a bread pudding at all in my opinion. It was so tough that it was more like a loaf cake instead. Very disappointing.

(9) Japanese Pumpkin Cheesecake
Another very ordinary serving in my opinion. It was the soft kind of cheesecake but the flavors was a bit weak.

To be honest, at this price range, the dishes being served were above average. The chef and his team put in a lot of effort in my humble opinion to provide the guests a wonderful dining experience at this private establishment. A simple use of the potato starch to prevent overcooking the goose liver Foie Gras was a nice touch indeed. It was more a personal thing regarding the dislikes below but I think they do have to work on the minor details such as broken mussels shells and sand within.

  • A very cozy and homely environment for a casual yet delicate dining experience
  • Pan-fried Cod
  • Sauteed French Live Mussel with White wine garlic sauce - too salty, unevenly cooked mussels, broken shells
  • Bread Butter Pudding with Ice Cream - too tough, more like loaf cake to me
Avg Spending: HKD 300 - 500 per person

Chez Moi
3/F, 17 Yun Ping Road, CWB
Tel: 2881 1929

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔記

I really don't know what took me so long to review this place which I frequent on a monthly basis. It wasn't really the food that attract me back over and over again but more because of the value for money I guess. Around HKD20 for a fairly large bowl of noodles is tough to beat. Don't expect a long and relaxing meal here because they will politely remind you to leave as soon as you finished by removing your bowl and clean your table off. Also, don't expect a huge selection of options, there are only a combination of 3 items on the menu.

The wontons here were by no means bad. They were huge with plenty of shrimps and shrimp paste mixed together. Adequate flavors with a consistence chewy texture due to the heavy use of baking soda! The same applies to the beef as well. The tenderness was a direct result of baking soda. For the noodles, there were no surprises

I reckon it is a hate it or love it scenario because some may think the wontons are not "traditional" enough with its huge size. The traditional wontons should be bite size, less shrimps with some pork and wrapped nicely with a long tail "pasta" tail. It is hard to describe but if you want to give the more traditional one a try, walk across from Tsim Chai Kee to Mak's Noodles.

  • Value for money in a sense
  • Excessive use of baking soda on everything!
  • Uncomfortable seating
Avg Spending: Below HKD 100 per person

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 沾仔記
Shop B, G/F Jade Centre,
98 Wellington Street, Central
Tel: 2850 6471

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas Everyone! Not until I started writing this food blog earlier this year did I realize how much I enjoyed writing and sharing my dining experiences with others, especially with all fellow foodies out there in the foodie blog-0-sphere! Your support encourages me to continue this adventure of which I am enjoying every second of it! I know it may be too soon to say it but my new year's resolution for this food blog is to add in more entries of my own home-cooking!!

Please say hello to my new HOT and SLEEK best friend who will accompany me on my home-cooking journey! Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BLT Burger

There is no other way but to eat burger with both your hands! Remember that! Ohhh, did I ever mention that a hearty burger should go with either a very cold pint of beer or even better, a thick & creamy milkshake! Strawberry Milkshake has won the battle this time!

For more pictures and details on my visit to BLT Burger, check out my review on CNNgo.

Avg Spending: HKD 100 - 200 per person

Shop 301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City,
17 Canton Road, TST
Tel: 2730 2338

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spasso Italian

There are exciting meals like my one thirtyone dinner, there are less exciting or rather boring meals and there are out right disappointing meals. My visit to Spasso Italian would fall under the last category! The meal took place back in early November during one of the coldest night but it was for a birthday celebration hence we opted to sit outside to enjoy the view.

Alright, the view was nice considering that there are very few alfresco dining options in Hong Kong and this is one of those places whereby you can get that experience. (in my case, it wasn't a pleasant experience for various reasons to follow)

Let me start with the first disappointment or rather shocking experience. 30 secs after we placed our orders, a female staff with a plate of salad arrived. 3o secs??? No way!

Jason: "Excuse Me, I think we just placed our orders 30 secs ago, are you sure this is ours?"

Staff: "Ohhh, I am just responsible for delivering the dishes ... I don't know the rest."
HUH!? Thanks for being so frank and direct or straight out rude!? Turns out that female staff was a temporary staff but that cannot be an excuse for such a reply!

(1) Beef Carpaccio served with wild arugula and shaved Parmesan Cheese
Beef Carpaccio without much beef taste and the Parmesan was not strong enough as well.

(2) Compositions of baby spinach leaves, walnuts, green apples and Gorgonzola cheese flakes
No surprises here, rather refreshing though with the green apples. The Gorgonzola cheese flakes were not strong enough.

(3) Imported black mussels with white wine and garlic sauce
Overly salty with some broken shells and shrinked mussels! A sign of overcooking it. I would normally dip bread into the sauce but not this pot of salt water!

(4) Homemade saffron scented ravioli filled with blue crab meat laid on light green pea fondue
The ravioli was hard and dry around the corners. And yes, it was a main course and not appetizer. There were only 5 pieces. Honestly, there were just traces of crab meat flavors inside the ravioli.

(5) Fusilli pasta tossed with fresh tuna dices, cherry tomato, sun-dried olives and Botargo roe flakes
Salty salty and salty. Pasta slightly undercooked as well. I understand Italian food tends to be salty in general but not to a point where I want a sip of water along with it.

(6) Sardinian wild catch seabass
I guess this dish somehow explained their obsession with salt at this place! The seabass was baked or cooked within the pile of sea salt. It was interesting watching the fish to surface out of the sea salt mountain.

It was rather ironic because one would assume the fish to be salty but it was not. It was alright.

(7) Parma ham pizza
Was it just me or fishes at this place seems to be so ... contracting / ironic? The parma ham was very light in flavors, lacked the saltiness it requires! The thin crust pizza was alright but the flavors really bugged me!

(8) Roasted Suckling Pig
I was surprised to find it to be rather pleasant. Skin was crispy, the meat was moist and tender.

(9) Warm liquid center chocolate flan
We need not buy a cake for our friend but instead opted to surprise her with this warm liquid center chocolate flan. Asked the stuff to clean the table and then bring out the cake as a surprise. Turned out I was surprised!!! Instead of bringing out the dessert first as a surprise after cleaning up, this smart staff returned with a pile of clean plates and set them up with forks as well. Helloooo, that wasn't the kind of surprise I have in mind!!! With the clean plates setup, EVERYONE knew something kind of cake was to arrive! Thanks for ruining the surprise!

  • Outdoors view / alfresco option
  • Roasted Suckling Pig - crispy skin and tender meat
  • Service!
  • black mussels - overly salty especially the sauce
  • The ravioli was hard and dry around the corners
Avg Spending: Above HKD 500 per person

Spasso Italian
Shop 403, Level 4, Ocean Center,
Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Tel. +852 2730 8027
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