Thursday, July 30, 2009


I finally got the chance to give this place a try. At the entrance of the restaurant there is a long dessert fridge displaying a large selection of various cakes, tarts and pies. According to my sources, this place is well known of its dessert, especially the traditional french desserts. French desserts in an Italian restaurant? hummm .... Anyhow, the atmosphere was bright and decor was clean and modern. One thing I noticed right away was the percentage of female diners at this place (at least during lunch hours), almost 95% were females! I guess the desserts are doing the trick. Alright, back to the food, set lunches were being offered with starters and desserts in buffet style. The less expensive set consisted of various pasta and pizza selections while the slightly more expensive set consisted of main dishes such steak and etc.

While my friends and I were going through the set lunch menu, the basket of breads were served along with the various sauces (but no butter). The breads were warm which was good and there were many varieties as well. I have been having problem sleeping these past few nights so I ordered a cup of Cappuccino hoping it would help me wake up a bit. Unfortunately, I did not think it had much effect because it was not strong enough and I remained sleepy throughout the rest of the day.

(1) Starters
There were a large selection of starter items, ranged from various cold cuts, parma ham, salad to cold pasta. The thinly sliced parma ham was pretty good and got restocked very frequently. The rest of the items were so-so, nothing surprising there.

(2) Gnocchi di patate al Cacao, taleggio e Verza
(hand made chocolate gnocchi in taleggio cheese sauce) When I ordered this pasta, I had no idea how it is going to look like or how it is going to taste like. I was looking for something new to try. According to wikipedia, "the word gnocchi means 'lumps'... [and] ... it has been a traditional Italian pasta type of probably Middle Eastern origin." There is no better word to describe it other than lumps! (or maybe little bread crumbs like pasta). Due to the color of the gnocchi being served (ie: Chocolate), my friend said it looked like "you know what" ... @_@ ... but I tried to ignore that comment because I still want give it a try and have a honest opinion about it. It was indeed interesting, texture wise it was literally like lumps of flour / pasta but taste wise, I did not taste any traces of chocolate at all. Maybe the reference to chocolate is simply the color of it. The taleggio cheese sauce was fair but slightly too creamy. The combination of gnocchi and creamy cheese sauce made it a very filling dish.

(3) Spaghetti neri Gamberi e Porri
(Prawn and leek spaghetti) First thing I asked myself when this dish was served was whether traditional spaghetti should be that thick. Maybe it was a special type or variation of common spaghetti. I checked Wikipedia / web once again and it seems there are no standard thickness for spaghetti as long as the basic nature if it being long and round remain. The long, round and very thick spaghetti being served was ... al dente? Nah ... I don't think so; maybe it was just overly chewy and a bit undercooked. I was not sure because the such thick spaghetti was something I never tired before. The sauce was light but rich in flavor but the prawns seemed to be frozen shrimps. According to my friend who had this dish, it was a rather filling due the thickness of the spaghetti.

(4) Spaghetto al promodoro Fresco ed Olive nere
(Spaghetti in black olive and fresh tomato sauce) The same type of spaghetti was used for this pasta. I did not get to try but according to my friend, it lacked some flavors to it and the pasta was a bit too chewy. Also, my friend tasted the flour in the pasta which is a definite sign of pasta being undercooked! Thumbs down !

(5) Dessert
The dessert was of buffet style as well and there was a wide selection of it. However, maybe due to the traditional French style desserts being offered here, most of the tarts and cakes offered were so sweet and so rich. I am a fan of sweet things but I still found most items to be very sweet. Good that there were fruits for me to balance the sweetness. I hate to let any food (or dessert in this case) to go to waste, but I just could not finish all of them or even one single mini tarts. Finishing the whole plate of desserts would definitely exceed my sugar quota for the rest of the WEEK ! (to quote from my friend, "if I finish the whole plate, I would've be sugar high for the rest of the afternoon!")

  • Clean and modern Decor

  • Undercooked spaghetti (the thickest spaghetti I have ever seen so far)
  • Amazingly sweet desserts (especially tarts and pies) - if you are looking to get "sugar high", please forget about your Coke and give the desserts here a try
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person


Level 2, Shop 201-203, Nexxus Building,
41 Connaught Road Central,
Tel: 2147 3768

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Habibi Restaurant

For some odd reasons, I am having craving for Middle Eastern cuisine recently. This time the destination was Habibi Restaurant @ SoHo. (My camera lens got all fogged up so the front door picture was not so clear. I will try to go take another one later. ) The decor was very traditional while the ambiance was dim and soft with some Middle Eastern music was playing in the background. During the weekend, there are dance shows but i could not wait that long to have some middle eastern food. Usually at this point of the review, I would go on and talk about the food items and etc, but this time I can't control myself but to talk about the service. First of all, services was not bad or un-caring, it was the fact that during the 3 hours we were there, different staff came over and asked us "is this dish finished?" for more than 6 times. Basically whenever we put down our forks and knifes to talk or to wipe our mouths, someone would come over and ask that question even though there were plenty of food left in the dish and have already informed them repeatedly that we were still eating. If there were a long line up then I would understand the rush but that was not the case. I can only say that the staff were over-caring and over attentive to the point of being a little annoying and unprofessional.

(1) Hummos Harissa
(chickpeas!!) A must order for those into chickpeas. It was tasty and rich in flavor with various herbs flavors which I am still learning to identify. It came with three different kinds pita breads and I was so tempted to order extra pita bread to make sure none of the hummos would go to waste! Due to my love for hummos, my review on this would be biased for sure so I will leave it at that and let you try it for yourself. If you only want hummos, you can try getting that at Habibi Cafe next door which is more of a casual hangout joint.

(2) Wara Inab
(Vine leaves stuffed with an aromatic mix of rice) It looked very different from the pictures on the menu but isn't that true for many things as well? The tomato sauce was very good but the actual item was rather interesting. Somehow I felt that I was eating stuffed lotus leaves and not really knowing what was inside. It was very "herb-y" with strong herb flavors but I was not sure where were the aromatic mix of rice. I simply could not identify or feel with my tongue the texture of rice within the stuffed vine leaves. There were something slightly crisp inside but due to the dim environment, I really could not tell.

(3) Falafel
(Crispy fried cakes of broad beans and fresh herbs) This dish I liked very much. It was rich in herb flavors and the sauce that came with it was a terrific match. Apparently this is a very common and popular dish. It can be prepared in different shapes such as sphere like a ball or in a checker shape. I liked it and certainly a thumbs up in my opinion.

(4) Firahk Zaatar
(marinated whole chicken marinated and grilled) When it was served, I asked myself: where was the rest of the WHOLE chicken? The menu did not mention anything about the chicken being a baby chicken or another other words that translate to "small" or "tiny", but the serving does not look like a WHOLE chicken even when de-boned. Anyhow, it tasted just like any other roasted chicken you find at other places in my opinion, the only difference was that it came in with some extra herbs on the surface. It was a bit dry as well. A disappointing dish indeed. Got tricked by the little cute "Chef's Hat" printed beside the name of the dish on the menu.

(5) Samak Sayadiyi
(Fresh Sea bass with tomato, bell peppers and red onion) My friend insisted to order this seafood dish and I was glad that she did because it was very tasty indeed. The tomato sauce was again very good and the fish itself well prepared. I tasted even better when you eat the fish together with spoonful of tomato sauce.

(6) Kosa Mahshiya
(Zucchini stuffed with seasoned minced beef and pine nuts in yogurt sauce) One of the best dishes we ordered. The yogurt sauce was great and not only did I mixed them with the rice, I basically cleared all the sauce like drinking soup. The flavors of the minced beef and pine nuts went extremely well with the zucchini. The same applied to the texture as well because the ingredients were all stuffed inside and one can enjoy the combined textures in every single bite. Did I mention the yogurt sauce was great !? Thumbs up !

  • decor and ambiance
  • Kosa Mahshiya - Wonderful sauce and stuffed zucchini
  • Falafel
  • Slightly annoying service (frequent and repeated asking of whether we were done)
  • Firahk Zaatar - too dry and tasted just like any roasted chicken you can find everywhere.
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person

Habibi Restaurant
Shop B & D, G/F,
112-114 Wellington Street, Central
Tel: 2544 6198

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MISO @ Jardine House

When it comes to Japanese restaurants in the Central area, there are plenty of them especially the fancy types. However, if you are looking for a more down-to-earth and casual one, you might have trouble coming up with a suggestion. I can think of maybe just 3 or so within this category and MISO @ Jardine House is one of the few in my list. We arrived around 630pm for an early dinner and the place was pretty empty. However, with 100000000 free tables, the staff had to assign the two of us to a table in between two large crowds in the very corner of the restaurant. Of course we objected and we were assigned another table away from the large crowds in the other end of the restaurant. Now with 100000000 minus 1 tables left, the staff had to assign the next incoming customer(s) to a table beside us! What the ... !! And additional problem was that the seating arrangement was very closely packed, adding an extra sense of tightness to the seating comfort I was looking for.

(1) Sirloin Beef Rolls
Nothing surprising here. A fair dish that resembled "golden mushroom beef rolls". I personally think it would taste pretty much the same if normal beef were used instead of sirloin. The sauce was a little bit salty but it was acceptable and went well with the beef.

(2) OX tongue - Sweet Pepper + Cucumbers
Although it was under the teppanyaki section, it does not seem or taste like so. The Ox tongue seemed to be just a result of a simple pan-fried cooking process with the diced sweet pepper + cucumbers poured over the top. The sauce was slightly sweet and matched the Ox tongue pretty good.

(3) Grilled Cod fish with Miso Paste
I like fish, I like cod and I like grilled cod very much! A good source for my daily intake of Omega 3! It was well prepared and full of "fish oil." A simple but tasty dish to my liking. Also, the portion was more generous than expected. Thumbs up !

(4) Grilled Eel - Ginger Rice
A highly recommended dish by my friend and I was impressed too. The eel was good but I particularly liked the ginger rice. Only if more ginger can be used than it would have been even better. The ginger was minced very fine and mixed well together with the rice. The key was that the ginger flavor was just right, not overly strong.

(5) Hot Pot Udon
There were plenty of ingredients(ie: Beef slices and tempura) and the udon was very chewy which was good. Only after the meal was I told by my friend Lucy that the Inaniwa undon here is good as well. Maybe next time. One thing I noticed was that the egg on top of the udon was very "well done," I thought it should have been more or less raw for us to mix with the udon and soup.

  • Tasty ginger rice
  • Contemporary decor
  • Chewy / "al dente" Udon

  • Seating arrangement / assignment
  • Ox Tongue - not teppanyaki enough
  • "well done" fried egg on udon?
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300

Shop 15, Basement, Jardine House
Tel: 2845 8773

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cherry Garden 小白屋

Based on its decor and dishes being offered, I consider this place a neighborhood restaurant. When I arrived, it was almost full house and the first thing that triggered my sense of smell was the strong garlic taste all around. I said it was a neighborhood favorite because the staff address many of the customers by their first names. The atmosphere and decor is clean but their seats / benches are made entirely of wood, including the seating platform. Not the most comfortable seats you would expect. According to many, this place is well known for its pizza, pasta as well as pork ribs.

(1) Caesar Salad
The dish looked very simple with a few large lettuce leaves and large garlic bread over the top. Beacon bits were sprinkled all over with rich salad dressing. However, the dressing seemed to be all over the top few lettuce leaves only with very little left for the bottom few. In other words, dressing was not applied evenly. Aside from the dressing issue, I liked the fact that it used big un-chopped leaves instead of chopped lettuce because this is one of the ways to keep them fairly crisp. (the other way is to place them on / around ice before serving.)

(2) NZ Green Mussels in White Wine Garlic Sauce
The mussels were fresh but the sauce was the very disappointment part of this starter. Very disappointing indeed. It was utterly salty with very rich garlic taste. I might have exceeded my daily sodium quota with just a spoonful of the sauce. Although the mussels were fresh, they were slightly over cooked in my opinion. They became rather difficult to chew. Disappointing dish indeed.

(3) Carbonara with Angel hair
Pasta is supposedly another famous serving at this place it did not disappoint. The Angel hair was al dente and the sauce was not overly creamy while rich in flavor. There were plenty of diced mushroom and bacon bits as well. Not the traditional type that uses raw eggs but it was well prepared in my opinion. I really enjoyed it. There are many mix and match options to make your own pasta and I think I will come again to try the different combination when I am in the neighborhood.

(4) Hawaiian Pizza
I like my pizza thin, meaning thin crust. Here they prepared it semi-thin? Well, it was not terrible thick or "bread-y" / "dough-y"; it was actually very puffy. A very interesting texture indeed. The staff politely advised us to eat the pizza as soon as possible in order to get the best out of it. We followed the suggestion but I wonder why. Would it be soaky or overly chewy very soon after due to the puffy nature of the dough? Maybe next time I will try to leave it cold and see for myself. Anyhow, back to the pizza. In addition to the dough, the pineapples were sweet (canned of course) but the ham was again a bit too salty in my opinion. The cheese was not cheesy enough to create the web of cheese string when taking out the slices. Overall a fair homemade pizza worth trying if you like semi-thick pizza crust.

(5) Pan-Fried Rib Eye w/ Mustard Seed Sauce
When the steak was served, I was surprised because it was all covered with the sauce. The steak was pan-fried and not grilled so one has to use a different judging criteria in order to be fair. We ordered medium rare and to our surprised it was indeed medium rare. The steak was of high quality, quite tender and soft. Humm ... but rib eye should be chewy right? I wonder if baking soda was used to soften the texture of the steak. I wonder indeed. I did not realized it was a mustard sauce at first because my tongue did not taste such flavor at all. The sauce was cream based and there were plenty of it; but I am not too used to having so much sauce over a piece of steak. I like my steak the simple way.

(6) BBQ Back Back Ribs
It was a full rack of baby back ribs with fries on the side. The sauce was very good exactly, very tasty that I just licked them off for a few ribs. The meat was tender and very strong pork taste which likely means fresh pork ribs being used. Thumbs up on the back ribs but thumbs down on the fries. One more thing, I wish the back ribs have more meat than bones. There were only a few bites of tender pork on each rib.

(7) White Wine & Vinegar Jelly w/ Mix Fruits
The presentation was interesting and so was the taste. It was sour due to the vinegar but thankfully the fruits helped counter-balance the sourness. I tasted a bit of white wine flavor in the jelly but mostly of vinegar (likely apple cider vinegar in my opinion).

  • BBQ Baby Back Ribs
  • Pasta
  • Interesting puffy pizza crust (it is interesting but I still prefer my thin and crispy pizza crust!)
  • Super salty white wine garlic sauce (mussels dish)
  • Overly sour jelly
  • uncomfortable seats
Avg Spending: HKD 100 - 200 per person

Cherry Garden 小白屋
7 Wun Sha Street, Tai Han
Tel: 3528 0852

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Indonesia Restaurant 印尼餐廳

After watching the movie Public Enemies, my friend and I walked around the TST area in search for some new places to try. We ended up coming here for our first time. The main dinning area is on the second floor and my first impression was that the place must look identical 20 years ago. Then again, it is the retro look that add an interesting ambiance to the dinning experience. There seemed to be a large selection of dishes on the menu and we were somewhat undecided for a long while before we placed our orders.

(1) Satay Beef / Pork Skewers
Either the lighting was too dim or it was over grilled, it was pretty hard to distinguish the skewers from beef or pork until you bite on it. Both the pork and beef tends to be overly stiff or chewy and the Satay sauce was rather weak as well. Overall a fair dish with no surprises at all. (It somehow reminded me of the pork skewers from Golden Bull Restaurant which was very tender and the texture seems more like chicken than pork.)

(2) Laksa Udang (Shrimp)
The soup base was very good, spicy but tasty too. It was thick enough to have the creamy texture to it. The main ingredients for the laksa was the shrimps but it tasted frozen and seemed to be been cooked twice! What do I mean by that? It was so stiff / hard and dry that it must have been cooked twice over to have such a texture !!

(3) Sweet and Spicy Seafood Soup
As the name suggested, the soup was spicy but contained a touch of sweetness as well. A very good soup indeed. The spiciness was not of the type that would last the whole meal in your mouth, it was those similar to what I once tried in Thailand that would stay in your mouth only for a short while only. What remained in your mouth was the somewhat sweet and chili-flavored sensation of wanting more right away. While the soup was good, the shrimp, the shrimp with the shell still intact seemed to have cooked more than twice over; it was stiffer and harder than the one from the Laksa dish !

(4) Kang-Kong Goreng (Fried Water Spinash)
It did not taste like the usual one you would find at other places. It was good. I liked the touch of spiciness in the sauce. The vegetable was fresh and crisp as well. Nothing surprising. At this point I like to point out that our small table was already packed with food dishes but the staff continued to shove them in wherever there were spaces. The skewers were now on the right side of me and the satay sauce was way over at the friend's place across the table. I actually called out loud that "there isn't enough space on the table," but the server did not seem to hear or care what I said and continued his way back to the kitchen. Am I asking too much? or am I not suppose to expect good services at this place? I wonder ...

(5) Spicy Roasted Chicken (with bean paste sauce)
Very dry chicken and the sauce was so rich that it took over the taste of the chicken. Aside from the taste, the presentation was not very pleasant as well. There was a thin layer of chili oil on top of the sauce but somehow it wasn't spicy at all but it was very salty for sure.

(6) Kolak - 'mor mor jar jar'
I am not sure how I should describe my experience on this dessert soup. A picture is worth a thousand words. The picture below on the left is BEFORE and on the right is AFTER. I literally had two sips and that was it. Enough was enough. It was so watery and I tasted something "salty," which made me feel I was having a soup rather than a dessert soup. Not only was it watery, it contained very little of other items as well. Very disappointing indeed. I rarely leave food or dessert unfinished but I think I had to let this one go for sure.

  • Laksa was good (the soup especially)
  • Sweet and Spicy Seafood soup - very good soup as well
  • All shrimps (and chicken for that matter) were so dry and stiff, must have been cooked twice !
  • Uncaring service
  • Kolak, Kolak and Kolak (watery and slightly salty ... )
Indonesia Restaurant
1/F-2/F, 66 Granville Rd, TST
Tel: 2367 3287

Friday, July 24, 2009

Salon de Ning @ The Peninsula

Salon de Ning is one of my favorite places to chill and to listen to some great jazz / music. Their band is very good compared with other hotel's lounges and the environment is perfect for music enjoyment. The Peninsula in a sense represent high quality and I guess that applies to everything from service, location, food and the band that they employ. The band used to have song requests when they first opened; but due to hotel's directive, this song request service is no longer available. Very unfortunate indeed. One thing I like to point out is that the music tends to be a bit loud, most likely due to the limited space of the venue. I guess it also depends on where you sit, right in front of the stage or in one of their theme rooms.

Talking about its theme, the decor is very contemporary with a heavy touch of 1920's style. It is hard to explain but when you go in, the overall environment and the staff's uniform make you want to sing ! Maybe I exaggerated a bit, but the point is that this is a place to enjoy music by the band and not for social chit chat in my opinion.

I was a bit disappointed that they no longer offer the platter of snacks, only s smaller selection of various chips and Ning's chocolate. As long as they have the Ning's chocolates I am good !! (The Ning's Chocolate comes in either purple or brown color, a must try.) Ask them for the chocolate if they bring you just chips! Also, service was great of course and professional as well.

  • Great Band, Great Music
  • Great Decor and ambiance
  • Great Service
  • Music can be a bit loud
  • Possible lack of seats during peak period like Friday nights and etc.
  • Limited selection of default wines on the Ning's own menu, if you want more wine selection, make sure you ask for a full Peninsula wine list which can be rather taunting because of the HUGE selection.
Avg Spending: HKD 300 - 500 per person

Salon de Ning
UG, The Peninsula Hong Kong,
19-21 Salisbury Road, TST
Tel: 2315 3355

Cafe Iguana @ Elements

I have passed by this new Mexican restaurant many times over the past two weeks and finally I got the chance to give it a try. Apparently it belongs to the Igor's Group. Anyways, the first thing you would notice when you arrive is its limited amount of 'proper' seating for dinners. Only a few bench seats arrangement but many bar tables. Don't get me wrong, I am fine with both arrangements but I doubt many people in Hong Kong would prefer the bar tables located outdoors. Oh yes, another thing is that because of the layout of the restaurant with a huge opening area facing the podium, there tends to be a lack of air conditioning for most seats. However, think about it, isn't this perfect for Mexican food? I am perfectly happy with it. :)

(1) Strawberries and Cranberries Sangria
We started off with a Strawberry and Cranberry Sangria which was a perfect choice under this climate. However, the jar of Sangria seemed smaller than we expected. It was very refreshing but I personally prefer the so-called tradition style with various kinds of fruits. In addition to the Strawberries and Cranberries Sangria, it also offers Sangria with Rose and one with White wine. Interesting indeed and maybe worth a try next time. One thing I like to mention is their great services. Staff were very friendly and tentative and would come by once in a while to check to see how we are doing. They would also chit chat with us and explain in details the various drinks and dishes on their menu. As a result of the lovely chit chat, we order the following shots.

(2) Chili Infused Tequila (with Chaser)
Wow ! The chili infused tequila was lovely but it was the chaser, the so-called bloody Mary chili flavored chaser that elevated the sense of spiciness to the next level. It woke up instantly! We asked them to show us the bottle of the infused tequila and o my, look at the number of chili in that bottle ! By the way, the chaser was only of mild spiciness according to the staff, just imagine it with normal spiciness. Thumbs Up and definitely worth a try !!

(3) Tostada de Salpicon
Basically this dish consisted of shredded beef salad on crispy corn tortilla. A very refreshing dish indeed. Not only does it look nice, it tasted very good as well. The slightly marinated beef went well with the tomato and avocado. The dressing was very light but strong enough to give a touch of citrus flavor which made it a prefect dish to start with. Thumbs Up !

(4) Gorditas
Corn masa boats filled with pawns in citrus-chipotle adobo. I loved the presentation of this dish. The sauce was slightly sweet but with a nice chili taste to it. (or was it from the chili infused tequila? ... hum) Again, the diced tomatoes and onion gave the dish a very refreshing sensation. Each "boat" has two large prawns but I think they can have a new dish without the prawns.

(5) Fajitas (steak)
How can we not order fajitas in a Mexican restaurant! Just look at the presentation of the dish, the all-on-one set with a little drawer to hold the tortillas. The whole set was very impressive. Apparently it was tailored made to their specifications. Thumbs up on the design! As for the food, another Thumbs Up! The steak was medium cooked and with the various condiments like baked beans, sour cream, diced tomatoes and avocado paste. Very good! My friend and I really missed Mexican food and so far we were very satisfied with the food, service and atmosphere here.

(6) Alambres AL Pastor
Everything was great until this dish. Not that it was bad or anything, but relatively disappointing compared with the dishes we had before. The presentation was great again but the chicken, while still tender and juicy in the inside, the outer layer seemed a bit over-cooked / over-grilled; same with the potato wedges. I would definitely order it again next time looking for improvement since I already reflected my opinion on this dish to the staff.

  • Great Services and atmosphere
  • Chili Infused Tequila (with the Chaser) - a must try !
  • Fajitas (steak) - wonderful !
  • Alambres AL Pastor (grilled Chicken Skews, a bit over cooked)
  • Lack of air conditioning

Cafe Iguana
Shop R004, Civic Square, Elements,
1 Austin Road West, TST
Tel: 2196 8733
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