Sunday, 31 January 2016

Grissini hosted by Gaetano Trovato - 2 Michelin Stars

I always get just a little bit excited when I discover that international chefs are coming to Hong Kong for guest stints, especially when they are as renowned as Chef Gaetano Trovato, owner of Two Michelin Starred restaurant Italian restaurant Arnolfo.

Chef Trovato was coming to visit his former protege Alessandro Cozzolino who currently holds the position of Chef de Cuisine at the Grand Hyatt's Grissini.  Spending a few short days in the kitchen of the Italian fine dining restaurant, there was a limited opportunity to sample the maestro's take on classic Italian cooking.  

Of course, we had to take advantage of the narrow window of opportunity and make a reservation.

We'd picked the coldest day on record to visit Grissini, it had barely risen beyond 2 degrees celsius in Hong Kong, so when we arrived at the Grand Hyatt, we were dressed in clothes more appropriate for skiing in the Italian alps.  When we made our way through the grand hallway of the Hyatt and up to the entrance to Grissini, we'd only just managed to get the feeling back in our fingers.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Ocean and Pure Berlin Collaboration: The 4 Hands Dinner

Service and luxury begin long before you enter the front door of The Ocean restaurant over in beachside Repulse Bay.  It's a little known secret that I'm about to expose, but there is a limousine service available from the newly opened restaurant by fine dining restaurant group Le Comptior.  With a fleet of Tesla electric motor vehicles, the group combines luxury and an environmentally friendly approach that is reflected in the group's food philosophy.

Since my first visit to The Ocean, which was a little bit of a mixed bag (see post here), we've been over to Chef Agustin Balbi's fine dining seafood restaurant a couple of times.  It's fair to say that we've come to love the inventive styling of Chef Balbi and his dedication to creating delectable and creative plates of food, centering on seafood.  

So it was great excitement that we travelled from our apartment courtesy of the limousine service to the special collaboration event planned by Chef Balbi and the way-out-crazy-dudes from Pure Berlin.

If you've never heard of Pure Berlin, then your probably not alone, but the avant garde concept group  out of the German capital are looking to establish Germany as the next international culinary trend destination.  Chief idea maker of Pure Berlin and food designer Miles Watson (actually a Kiwi) had decided to take their ideas on the road and the collaborative meal at The Ocean was a stop on the tour.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Le Dome de Cristal - opulent decedent and oh-so-French

It might be said that heading to the first global collaboration between renowned French Champagne house Cristal by Louis Roederer and a restaurant might be a waste for a tea-totaler like myself.  I mean, I've never been a connoisseur or consumer of champagne.  But I am a fan of exquisite French cuisine and found that the prospect of the promised unparalleled dining experience by the luxury group appealing.

It was exactly that promise and the lure of the very experienced Chef Charles-Benoit Lacour and his pursuit of perfection that finally convinced me to check out Le Dome de Cristal.  After working with legendary French Chef Guy Savoy in Paris before becoming the Chef de Cuisine at Guy Savoy in Singapore, Chef Lacour continued his journey into Asia by becoming the culinary director and head chef of Le Dome de Cristal.

I'd walked past the innocuous entrance to Le Dome de Cristal, which is located in The Galleria in Central, many, many times on my way to work, never realising how close I was to the completely opulent and luxurious restaurant that took up almost ten thousand square feet.  It wasn't until we ascended the steps to the main dining room that I was able to truly understand how spectacular Le Dome de Cristal actually was.  Award winning interior designer Steve Leung was responsible for blending the contemporary and classic design which fully utilised the massive dome ceiling that was the highlight and centrepiece of the restaurant.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

ISONO Eatery and Bar - the more casual Spanish spot

One of my top rated restaurants from 2015 was Vasco, Spanish fine dining.  You can read all about it here in my Top 10 of 2015. While Vasco is the ultimate in fine dining, there is a much more relaxed and casual feel about ISONO, the Spanish style tapas restaurant run by Drawing Room Concepts, the team behind Vasco and numerous other restaurants around Hong Kong.

Located on the sixth floor of Soho's very own arts precent, PMQ, ISONO eatery and bar shares many of the same traits as its more distinguished older brother.  The menu was created by Executive Chef Paolo Casagrande, drawn from his memories and experiences as a child in the Mediterranean.  If you're not familiar with Paolo Casagrande, his main game is at the Two Michelin starred Lasarte in Barcelona, but he lends his expertise and name to both Vasco and ISONO.

We'd been eyeing off checking out ISONO for a while, but it took one of those serendipitous moments to eventually get us in for dinner.  We were at a genuine loss one night walking home from work....  We simply had no idea about what we felt like for dinner and were getting a little frustrated trying to pin down one restaurant to visit.  It just so happened that we were walking along Hollywood Road and only a few steps away from the PMQ.  With no reservation, we hedged our bets that we'd be able to score a table as a walk in.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Akrame - the beginning of a global empire?

While there is little dispute that Hong Kong is one of the world's great food cities, for a westerner in an Asian city there are a couple of locations that seem to capture my attention most.  It's no surprise that Wan Chai and Soho/Central are the locals where I dine out most often, after all those two hot spots have the highest concentration of French restaurants in all of the land.

Renowned French chef Akrame Benalla, who'd secured his second Michelin star in only his second year of operating Akrame in Paris, picked Wan Chai as his location for Akrame Hong Kong.  That Chef Akrame had earned two stars at such a young age was not so surprising, after all, he learned his trade from culinary legends Ferran Adria and Pierre Gagnaire.  What was surprising was that the young chef decided that Hong Kong would be the location of his second French fine diner.

So well regarded is Akreme Benalla, he was recently voted as one of the top 100 chefs globally by Le Magazine Le Chef in 2016.

Located in trendy Ship Street, the facade of Akrame is unobtrusive and understated and, unlike many of the flashier dining establishments along Ship Street, would be quite easy to walk by if you weren't specifically looking for it.  We'd made our booking quite late on a Saturday morning, more just hoping that we'd score a seat than actually thinking we'd get in.  As it turned out, we secured the last two seats in what turned out to be a busy Saturday night.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

The FoodMeUpScotty Top 10 of 2015 - Best Restaurants

Food Me Up Scotty 2015 Top Ten

It's hard to believe that my first year in Hong Kong is at an end.  It was exactly twelve months ago today that I hoped off the Qantas flight and stepped into my new life in Asia's most dynamic culinary city.  There are only a handful of cities around the world that truely have a reputation as being an epicentre for the culinary pursuits and Hong Kong just happens to be one of those few.  As a food blogger, that has meant that I've been like a kid in a candy store.

I've had time to reflect on my first twelve months and the amazing restaurant and dining experiences in which I've managed to partake.  While there have been well over a hundred restaurants I've checked out in my first year, there have only been a handful that I've repetitively revisited throughout the year, one of which has made my list.  

As you'd expect from a food capital, Hong Kong is home to many restaurant guides that have helped identify the standout dining establishments.  The Michelin Guide, the SCMP Top 100 Tables, the Hong Kong Tatler are all well known guides that mostly get it right but sometimes get it very wrong, with one of my favourite restaurants of all time losing it's Michelin Star.  I have to say that I'm excited to be living in a city that is part of the Michelin family, but I've also come to understand that the guide is fallible.


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