Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kubrick Cafe

Yau Ma Tei is not an area I frequent but it is an area I am yet to explore and I am here on this day for a movie a movie. With over 30 mins to go before the movie starts, my friend and I were thinking of finding a place to chill. Being unfamiliar with this neighborhood, McDonald was our initial idea but within 10 steps out of the ticket booth, we found ourselves delightfully surprised. The Kubrick Cafe is not just a cafe but a bookstore with a cafe. This kind of establishment is not very common in Hong Kong and I was fairly surprised. The bookstore is not that of mainstream, mass-market commercial type but more focused in the categories of Film, History, Cultures, Humanities and Travel.

The cafe offers various types of coffee as well as all day breakfast. The cafe occupies only a small part of portion of the establishment leaving much room for books and its music section.

I ordered a cappuccino but it was too watery and the foam was rather plain in taste as well. I guess it was not the quality of the coffee that mattered most to me at that particular moment, it was the fact that when I close my eyes, all I can hear from the surroundings were not normal chit-chat about local entertainment headlines but about films, film directors and Hong Kong cultural landscape! That was something unexpected, at least to me; it was a nice change of atmosphere indeed. Although there is much room for improvement for their coffee (and the comfortableness of their seats), I might just come back someday to check out their selection of books and musics.

  • great location to chill before a movie
  • not so common bookstore + cafe establishment in Hong Kong (many others i know are either very far or they are upstairs establishment I think)
  • Much to improve coffee - too watery for mine
  • Can be quite noisy
Avg Spending: Below HKD 100 per person

kubrick cafe
H2 Chun Fat Garden, Yau Ma Tei
Tel: 852 2384 8929

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

yè shanghai 夜上海

Among the many Shanghianese restaurants in Hong Kong, yè shanghai is one of my top picks not necessarily because of its food quality but for its consistency in its service, food quality and its overall execution. The Pacific Place outlet of yè shanghai is similar in service and food quality but the whole environment seems so crowded and populated all the time with staff rushing all over the tables. I prefer this TST location for its atmosphere and ambiance. On this rainy weeknight, I was bringing my cousin from Toronto around town for something Chinese / Shanghainese and I can only think of two right on top of my head: (1) 鼎泰豐 Din Tai Fung or (2) yè shanghai. Since I am not a big fan out queuing, I picked yè shanghai.

(1) Thousand year eggs with bean curd
This is one of my regular items to be ordered in any Shanghainese restaurant and this habit has not changed. For some reasons, it looked somehow different from how I remembered it last time when I dined here. It just didn't look as nice somehow. Not only does it looked different, it tasted rather different too, the sauce was rather weak. The thousand year eggs were chopped too fine in my opinion to have the texture it required to go along with the tofu / bean curd. More of the thousand year eggs would be nice too.

(2) Smoked tea leaf egg
Another one of my favorite items. Although there were just two of us, we ordered 2 whole eggs because half would not be enough for me! Flavor was very good, rich and deep with the tea leaf flavor but it was a bit over smoked making the yolk too solid in my opinion. Also, whoever was cutting the eggs before they were served, please try not to "mush" / "press" the egg too hard because it really affected the presentation of it!

(3) Sour and spicy soup
I did not have the soup myself but based on my cousin's facial expression, it was good soup indeed.

(4) Steamed Pork Dumplings (xiao long bao)

One word: Thick! The dough layer was too thick for my liking. There were not much soup inside as well which I consider to be an important element for a good xiao long bao. Rather disappointing. Maybe my memories are against me but I still recall having very good xiao long bao at this place and they still hand out little clips or tongs for us to pick the dumplings from the tip because the skin was too thin for the chopsticks. Or was that just another place? humm ...

(5) Spring Onion Pancakes
It was way better than I expected. the layers of the pancakes were thin and crisp. Most importantly, the whole thing was not greasy at all. It was pretty filling but it was good. The usual spring onion pancakes you see out there are the greasy thin pancakes instead of this kind of pastry type which I personally prefer.

(6) Sauteed minced chicken with pine nuts served with sesame pastry pockets
I often order this dish as a after-dish from the Peking duck leftovers so the meat would not go to waste. Since no Peking duck was ordered, I opted for the minced chicken instead. The addition of the pine nuts gave the meat mixture a rather refreshing texture to it. Flavor wise it was alright, no surprises but, in my opinion, it would better with a bit of "ho sin" (seafood) sauce together with the crisp pastry pockets.

(7) Crispy rice with seafood in light Chinese sauce
I should have ordered the sweet and sour sauce (or tomato sauce) instead of this because it was rather plain in taste and flavor. The crispy wise though was pretty good, dry and non-greasy. If you have no special preferences in terms of sauce, I would recommend a more favorable sauce, which would be the sweet and sour or tomato sauce.

  • Decor and atmosphere + great service as always.
  • Spring Onion Pancakes - puffy and pastry type, very thin layers and non-greasy
  • Smoked tea leaf egg - rich and deep in tea leaf flavor
  • Steamed Pork Dumplings (xiao long bao) - skin was too thick
  • Crispy rice with seafood in light Chinese sauce - this sauce was rather plain and flavor-less
Avg Spending: HKD 200 - 300 per person

yè shanghai 夜上海
6/F, Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel,
3 Canton Rd, TST
Tel: 2376 3322

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Ku-suya Rakuen 古酒家-樂宴

This little hideaway Izakaya in Causeway Bay is famous for its Awamori (泡盛) which is an alcoholic beverage originated from and unique to Okinawa, Japan. It also turns out that this place also specializes in Okinawa cuisines. When you first step into the restaurant, all you can see are shelves and rows after rows of various sake , shōchū and awamori. It was quite a scene to me. In addition to the normal bottles, they have some clay pot containing the Awamori (泡盛) which was something new to me indeed. The whole decor and atmosphere was perfect for a few drinks after a long day of work!

Unfortunately, it was not a night for drinking, it was a night of chit-chat, catch-up and deep-talk with a friend. It will be another night before I go try out the various Awamori (泡盛).

We were basically the first group to arrive and I got to take as many pictures as I wanted. My friend took the following picture of the chili clay container which I think is wonderful and I like to share with others. Also, I did a quick search on the Internet and apparently this restaurant is part of a chain / group, the En Group, which runs the Wa-En 和宴, Zempachi 禪八 and Chura (which serves Okinawa cuisine as well). I guess it is time to visit the rest of the franchise again especially Chura which I am yet to try.

(1) Home Made Peanut Flavored Tofu
After hours of thinking, I am still having difficulty coming up with the right words to describe this tofu but I am going to try my best. First of all, it was thumbs up and a must try indeed! The texture of this tofu was not more firm, more elastic and gluten-y. It was more like jello but way firmer. Flavor wise, it was not as strong or rich as I suspected but good enough. Do give it a try, a must try indeed.

(2) Sliced Frozen Squid
It was very rich in flavor, a bit too strong in my opinion. It would be better to eat together with the minced radish for a more balanced flavor. Texture wise it was very chewy and some parts were overly elastic that I thought I was chewing on rubber band.

(3) Deep Fried Bitter Gourd
It was very crisp and the immediate taste of the flakes were rather tasteless. It was the aftertaste that came 5 - 8 seconds later that contained the bitter gourd flavors. It was a great dish to go along with beer.

(4) Smoked Pork Knuckles
No surprises here but a positive note was that the skin remained crispy even after sitting at room temperature for a while. Also, it was not too salty as I would have expected from the look of it. This reminded me of another point to mention; do not order all dishes at once because they serve them pretty quickly, faster than you can complete them especially if you are there to chat over a few bottles of beer or glasses or Japanese wine.

(5) Shrimp & Cheese Croquette
It was a wonderful dish with beer of by itself. The outer layer remained crisp throughout every bite and the mashed potatoes inside carried traces of shrimps and cheese which I hoped there can be more, especially the cheese part! Overall, thumbs up !!

(6) Grilled Ox Tongue
It was time for my favorite grilled ox tongue. However, it was not as good as I expected. It was rather too thin. While the texture was chewy it would be better if it was thicker. The use of salt and seasoning was good, with just the right amount.

(7) Stuffed Chicken Wing with Cod Roe

Another thumbs up dish! It was unlike other I had before because this one was actually FILLED with Cod Roe. It was heavy weight stuffing as shown in the picture. It was slightly salty in my opinion, but the flavors of the cod roe together with the deep fried chicken made up for that. I have nothing to complain at all and it would be best to go with any kinds of alcoholic beverage.

  • Stuffed Chicken Wing with Cod Roe - heavy weight stuffing!
  • Shrimp & Cheese Croquette - wonderfully done, more cheese would be better
  • Home Made Peanut Flavored Tofu - still having difficulty describing it, so give it a try yourself.
  • Grilled Ox Tongue - the slices were too thin for grilling
  • items being served too quickly
Avg Spending: HKD 300 - 500 per person

Ku-suya Rakuen 古酒家-樂宴
12/F Circle Tower
28 Tang Lung Street, CWB, HK
Tel: 35800915

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enoteca on Elgin

Typhoon Signal No. 3 (T3) has been hoisted or more accurately, just been lowered from T8 a few hours ago. I was sitting right in front of the TV at home all morning, waiting for updates on the typhoon signal. I arrived back to work 45 mins after the signal was lowered. If you ask me, I think the lowering of Typhoon Signal from T8 during the working hours (especially in the morning) is worst than not have any typhoon at all! One basically had to wake up earlier than usual to check the news / radio and go back to sleep and wake up soon after again to check for updates again. The constant checks consume more energy than usual in my opinion. As a reward for the energy consuming exercise in the morning, lunch on this day must be something relaxing, refreshing and hopefully re-energizing.

Among the restaurants on this street, Enoteca on Elgin is one of the few that has a large open patio front and with the light breeze, it was a good choice to sit close to the street while enjoying a refreshing lunch. The atmosphere of this place is very causal and cozy, together with the Stucco wall finishes, it does give out a kind of Mediterranean feel to the it. Soon after we ordered, the basket of bread arrived. Both the grilled French bread and the bread sticks were heavy rosemary flavors which I like but they were too dry. The bread sticks were not just dry but overly crunchy that when you try to break it into two, it would end up being crushed into small pieces.

(1) Roasted Beetroot with Rocket & Goats Cheese
I love beetroot and the combination with Rocket and Goat Cheese was very nice indeed. However, the beetroot was not really roasted as shown in the menu and the goat cheese was not the strong flavor type but it was fine with me. The dressing was vinegar based and it was pretty refreshing.

(2) Caesar Salad of Romaine Hearts, Crisp Bacon & Anchovy
The salad was heavy on the anchovy but surprisingly not overly rich in flavor. It was salty in general but in a very delicious way. The disappointing part of the salad was the romaine which was not crisp enough, slightly soggy. O well, the crispiness of the bacon made up for it.

(3) Pan-fried Salmon Steak with Coriander Couscous
It was a pretty generous offering with such a large piece of salmon. However, it was a bit dry to my liking. It has been a long while since I last had couscous and I actually enjoyed it although it was rather tasteless.

(4) Thin Crust Salami Pizza with Oregano

First of all, more rockets would be nice! Served on a wooden stand, the pizza was a delight. The crust was thin and crisp as described and I really liked the fact that not too much tomato sauce was used, just the right amount so flavors of other ingredients can be tasted. Thumbs up!

(5) Mango Cheesecake & Creamy Chocolate Mousse
No surprises on the Mango Cheesecake but the creamy chocolate mousse was a wonderful surprise to end the meal. It was rich in flavor and the texture was very mushy and light which put a little smile on my face.

  • Wonderful services
  • Decor and atmosphere
  • Thin Crust Salami Pizza with Oregano - the sufficient use of tomato sauce made the taste very well-balanced.
  • (it has a pretty good website in my opinion -
  • Salmon a bit too dry
  • The grilled French bread and bread sticks were a bit too dry as well.

Avg Spending: HKD 100 - 200 per person

Enoteca on Elgin
G/F, 47 Elgin Street
Soho, Hong Kong
Tel: 852 25259944

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Louis' Steak House

Louis' Steak House is one the the few remaining traditional Hong Kong styled, upscale steak houses you can find. Due to its uniqueness, it is in my opinion that it cannot be compared with western steak house such as Ruth Chris or Morton's directly nor can it be compared with the so-called local Hong Kong steak houses like Garden Restaurant (花園餐廳) because many of such restaurants use baking soda as part of the process but definitely not here at Louis' Steak House. It deserves a category of its own with the closest match I can think of being Jimmy's Kitchen. Once I step inside the dining area, the feeling I got was a resemblance of Amigo with all the wooden furnishing and dim environment; but not as extravagant or sumptuous of course. Just the look of the chair is vastly different. I bet the environment and decor remained mostly unchanged for the past 30 years. The wait staff was very welcoming and let me took a few pictures before heading to our table.

Before I go for the food review, I wanted to mention a few things about its services. Its services were great; all waiters were efficient, very attentive to details and very responsive as well. However, in my opinion, they were overly efficient, overly attentive and overly responsive! They gave us a feeling that we were being rushed to order, to eat and to finish. When we were only 3 mins or so into the menu, one of the captain came over all set to take our orders. Even after I told him we needed a few more minutes with the menu, he just stood there and kept on suggesting different items to us. That was great but I wanted to at least read through the menu first, I AM ON PAGE 2 of 8 of the menu my friend !!! At the end of ordering, he asked us, "you two are not in a rush right?" ... I wanted to tell him that "no we are not, but it seems that you are !!!" It was not like the place was full house but they acted like it was busy lunch hour. Even during the meal, dishes were cleaned up as soon as I placed my fork and knife on the plate. Very responsive indeed! One more thing, I do hope they can change or add more variety of music to their list background musics because it was Kenny G all night long, over and over again! (and repeating tracks too, which means from the same CD!)

A basket of bread was served before the first time were served. It consisted of two types, a regular sliced French bread and thin toast. They were warm with very crisp crust, not bad! Plus the bread will come in handy later in the meal.

(1) OX Tail Soup
The soup was thick and rich in flavors, especially beef flavor which I loved. Very good but no surprises. Bigger chunk of beef would be nice too.

(2) Caesar Salad
The Caesar salad was served by spinning it at the table-side. We got to pick out own ingredients form the tray. It was tasty but the romaine was not as crisp as we expected.

(3) Rib Eye (Medium Rare)
Very well prepared! It was medium rare as we ordered! It was very tender and beef-y, not too much fat was attached and no extra seasoning was needed, it was great the way it was. I one I noticed was that the texture of the steak was slightly softer than other rib eye I tried before and the only reasoning I can come up with was the thickness of the steak being served: the cute was thinner and wider than the usual (at least based on my personal experiences). Anyhow, we enjoyed it, the quality of the steak was better than I expected.

(4) Fish Maw (aka fish's gas bladder) [花膠]
One of its famous dish. When ordering, the waiter (who repeatedly suggested this item) said that the Fish Maw is one of their top-sellers and it is a fusion dish. Fusion? humm ... I think it was more a Chinese dish served in a Western restaurant. Fusion is more like combining different cooking styles like Japanese and French together, not when you are serving an individual sweet and sour pork dish in a French restaurant. Putting aside this point, the fish maw was GREAT, thick, chewy and sticky (gluten-y?). The sauce was rich and deep; and we did not waste any of it; we ordered an extra basket of bread to soak up all the sauce! One of the waiters suggested that instead of using the French bread, try the small toast to soak the sauce. It was a great suggestion / recommendation, better than using the French bread. Make sure you place the toast in the sauce for a while before eating it to ensure enough sauce have been absorbed. The dish was very clean afterward! The 30 or chickens (as informed by one of the waiters) that contributed to the making of the sauce was not wasted at all! However, there was a disappointment with this dish, it was the little mushroom. It was canned! It tasted canned, texture wise it was canned and yes it was canned mushroom!

(5) Baked Alaska
It was nice to watch our dessert to go into flames and that was the only interesting part I guess. The egg white was overly sweet with more than enough sugar added. My daily intake of sugar just skyrocketed and I better cut down sugar intake for the next two or three days! Also, the flame did not last long enough on the surface, the result was heavy whiskey residue which in general is not a bad thing but you must get a very strong whiskey-flavored piece (with the alcohol content still there!)

(6) Irish Coffee
It was strong! Not the coffee but the Irish whiskey! Ever for me who loves whiskey considered it very strong but I almost wanted to order another one because I enjoyed very much! It certainly warmed up my whole body, a perfect drink for winter!

By the time we finished our meal, it was around 9:20pm (we arrived around 7:30pm). Pretty quick right? Considering the quick and overly efficient working pace of the waiters, we were surprised we lasted this long! (If I recall correctly, we were the second last table to leave on this Saturday evening at 9:30pm.)

  • Irish Coffee, strong but well made!
  • Rib Eye - very well prepared, softer in texture than other rib eye i tried before (but I personally prefer the slight chewy and firmer rib eye)
  • Fish Maw - very sticky and thick, nicely done. The flavors were rich and deep.
  • Overly efficient and overly attentive services, made us feel being rush!
  • Canned Mushroom in the Fish Maw dish !?
  • Baked Alaska - too sweet and not flamed long enough.
Avg Spending: Above HKD 500 per person

Louis' Steak House
1/F, Malaysia Bldg.,
50 Gloucester Rd.,Wan Chai
Tel: 852 2529 8933

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Irori 酒處

Finally, after several failed attempts to visit this Japanese Izakaya, tonight was my lucky day! I have herd many good things about this place from various food blogs as well as my friends. Ever since I starting my food blog, my memory can no longer contain the long list of want-to-try restaurants. With my friend's suggestion, I now write down all my want-to-try restaurants in my little black notebook and carry it around. My list is getting longer and longer on a daily basis but good that my visit to Irori this evening and save me a line in the notebook for a new one to be added very soon!

(1) Flamed Broiled Beef
It was a very nice dish to start off with because the sauce was slightly vinegary and together with the med-rare broiler beef slices which were rich in beef taste, it was a rather refreshing dish. The deep fried minced garlic was a good match with the beef. Well prepared! Thumbs up!

(2) Deep-fried beef roll
We were into beef tonight for some reasons so this second dish was beef as well. The roll was not oily or greasy after being deep-fried. (Maybe the sliced lettuce at the bottom absorbed the oil?) In either case, it was crispy and non-greasy, plus the taste of the dough (ie: flour) did not overtake the flavors of the beef inside. Very nice! The sauce was another delightful surprise. From the look of it, we though it was some salad dressing or sauce that contained peanuts, but it turned out both of us were wrong, it was a sour-based sauce. It was actually a good combination with the fried roll. Even for a deep-fried item like this, it carried a refreshing flavor from the sauce. Another well prepared dish.

(3) Broiled Amberjack with Salt
It was between Amberjack and Cod, we picked this because it would be more meaty. It was served very soon after we ordered, maybe it was a very popular item that a few were on the grill just in case diners order it. Anyways, it was served hot throughout the whole piece so I was happy with it. It was tender and more meaty as expected but a little bit more salt would be nice. Not bad at all!

(4) Japanese Rice Cake Pizza
It tasted just like a pizza but with a more chewy texture to it. Instead of using tomato paste or sauce, a tomato slices were used instead which gave each piece the right among of tomato flavors, not too sour and not to sweet (since it is freshly sliced tomato, no sugar should have been added I assumed). A very interesting combination of ingredients especially with the use of traditional Japanese rice cake which is a common item during the new year period. I recalled during my last visit to Japan, it was during the New Year period and I tried a simple Rice Cake wrapped with seaweed sheet (or Nori Sheet) from those street vendors. It was so good and so was the Japanese Rice Cake Pizza here. Well done!

(5) Whale Meat
It took me a long while before I finally decided to order this. I was kind of reluctant to order it because it was whale meat! The staff highly recommended it because it was a seasonal item and as a foodie / food lover, I kept on telling myself that I should give it a try. It was cooked according to the staff and it has the texture similar to ham but slightly firmer. The red part I assumed was the meat part while the white part was be fat. It came with a small amount of mustard because the flavor of whale meat was ... humm ... tasteless. The red part was slightly salty but I think it was due to the adding of salt during the cooking process. Honestly, I can't find anything special about whale meat, especially the fact that it was rather tasteless; therefore, I don't think I will order whale meat at this place again or at any other places even if it were seasonal item ... so SAVE THE WHALE!

(6) Hot Plate Bean curd steak
Nothing special about this dish. The sauce was alright and the tofu has a stronger and rich enough soy bean flavors to it but it would be better if the hot plate was actually hot or sizzling because the item turn cold very fast especially when all items seemed to come all at once. Maybe that was why the tofu itself seemed a bit too firm in my opinion.

(7) Egg Roll with Leek
The friend's first reaction on this dish was that she can cook this at home and maybe even better. I have to agree with her because it was rather ... humm ... plain and homemade styled omelet with very little leek inside. It was very much like an omelet I would cook at home. The egg has a strong flavor than the leek as well (which means not enough leek!)

  • Flamed Broiled Beef - a refreshing dish to start off the meal with
  • Deep-fried beef roll - although deep-fried, not too heavy or greasy, it was rather refreshing together with the slightly vinegar-y sauce.
  • Japanese Rice Cake Pizza - a chewy version of pizza, not bad at all
  • Items were being served too quickly, almost all at once.
  • Egg Roll with Leek - not enough leek, a very ordinary item
Avg. Spending: HKD 300 - 500 per person

Irori 酒處
2/F, Bartlock Centre,
3 Yiu Wa Street, CWB
Tel: 2838 5939

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