Saturday, 25 June 2016

Jinjuu - Contemporary Korean and oh-so-tasty

I have to say, I was pretty dubious when the girl suggested that we visit Jinjuu for our monthly lunch date.

After all, our last couple of 'long lunches' had been at Michelin starred restaurants.

I had no real reason to be suspect about the Korean fusion joint, the girl had recently been with workmates and was really keen to get my thoughts about the food.  Now, I'm not saying that I don't trust the girl's judgement when it comes to food, it's just that I couldn't see a place called Jinjuu floating my boat.

Then there was the fact that it was in LKF.

A fact that had me completely confused when I initially tried to find Jinjuu in it's listed address of the California Tower - a spot that I know well.  Jinjuu is 'technically' in the California Tower, but in reality is on street level, just around the corner from the tower's main entrance.

As I walked into the Judy Joo owned restaurant, I was very much reminded of the fact that LKF is Hong Kong's party district.  On one side of the entrance was your typical counter gracing restaurant entrances worldwide, and on the other was a DJ booth, with electronic decks at the ready for the setting of the sun and presumably the transformation of Jinjuu from restaurant to hip bar.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Beefbar - tasty food but small portions for lunch

Worth the wait?  

A good question!

I'd been trying to get into the Beefbar in Central for a while.  I'd ring up to try to make a booking, only to be told that they were completely booked up.  The few times I'd taken the chance of a walk in resulted in an almost comical response from the Beefier 'gate keepers'.

And that's how I'd started to think about the phone booking team, as well as the door staff; gate keepers.  Getting in became insurmountable and I eventually gave up and forgot about trying to get in.

It wasn't until my regular lunch date with a colleague and friend that the prospect of visiting the Beefbar arose again.  When JP suggested visiting, I gave a whimsical 'why not', thinking that it would still be nearly impossible to get into (even six months after opening).  You can imagine my surprise when the reservation was confirmed.

I guess a Monday at lunch might be the perfect time to hit a new(ish) restaurant in this city!

Our lunch date/meeting was at 12 and I'd arrived on time but heard from JP that she'd be a few minutes late after finishing a meeting in head office.  I was cool with that, it gave me the opportunity to 'sticky-beak' around the place once I'd arrived at the eerily familiar front desk (yeah, I'd tried to get in a few times!)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Mercato - Jean-Georges in Hong Kong

I had to make some serious decisions during my visit to New York, admittedly not life or death decisions, but important to me.

So many restaurants and so little time meant that I had to carefully choose where I would spend my hard earned money.  One of the very last nights left in Manhattan came down to a choice between three star restaurants, Daniel and Jean-Georges.

Daniel won out on the day, but I'd always felt as if I'd missed out on something special.

A couple of years down the track I learned that Jean-Georges was opening an outlet of his slightly more casual Mercato in Hong Kong and I was excited.  I was finally getting to check out the fare of one of the United States' top chefs.  So cool.

Located in California Tower, one of  LKF's funkiest buildings, I'd managed to sneak into Mercato at the right time.  Not yet formally open and running through a soft opening month, I happened to dine on a day where Jean-Georges himself was hosting with some of his crew responsible for designing the restaurant and lighting.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Arcane - not so hidden or mysterious after all

I'm probably biased, but Australian chefs are taking over the world!

It seems that every day, a new Aussie chef is hitting Honkers to open a new restaurant or join part of an established team.

This invasion, of a sort, arguably started when Perth born chef Shane Osborne, moved from the UK to Hong Kong to establish his own take on a simple yet delicious fare.  Having achieved two Michelin Stars at well known London restaurant Pied-a-Terre, Osborne threw it all in to travel for a while, before ending up at HK restaurant St Betties.  Turning the fortunes of the under performing restaurant around, Osborne eventually developed his own restaurant in Central.


"Understood by few" and "mysterious and secret"

An interesting name for a restaurant from a Chef that had run one of the world's top restaurants, perhaps hoping for anonymity in Hong Kong?

We arrived for our 7pm reservation and unsurprisingly, we were the first to arrive, seemingly the only couple in Hong Kong that think dining at this hour is normal.  Located near LKF, we had no trouble finding the restaurant and were so early, LKF was actually really, really quiet!  

The Drawing Room - was replacing Vasco a good idea?

Vasco Fine dining was one of my very favourite restaurants in Hong Kong (see post here and here).

When I found out that it was closing, I was devastated. Why hadn't I gone and supported it more!  I still remember so fondly the olive oil sommelier and the incredibly inventive and tasty Spanish cuisine.  

Sigh, that's Hong Kong for you!

Then, I found out that the space that Vasco occupied at historic PMQ was to be taken over by by The Drawing Room, a restaurant that held the hearts of Hong Kongers so well before closing down a few years back.  Not to mention having held a Michelin Star for many years also.

My excitement grew, when I found that, Drawing Room Concepts, the team behind Vasco were driving the new iteration of the Drawing Room.  In fact, the chef that had provided the taste sensations that delighted me at Vasco, Chef Gabriele Milani, would continue to be the driving force in the kitchen.

My acceptance was complete.  Spanish would make way for Italian.  Bring on The Drawing Room.

Like many new (or reborn) restaurants in Hong Kong, it was difficult to make a booking for TDR, so much so that Saturday nights were booked out more than a month in advance, so I had to make do with a Friday night spot - after work.

There was a very familiar feeling as we made our way from pre drinks at Aberdeen Street Social (see post here), up through PMQ to the very top floor.  It was almost a case of deja vu as we were met at the level six reception and were escorted upstairs.  As we were given our seats, it would be easy to forget that Vasco had demised and a new restaurant had taken it's place. In fact, the only real difference that I could see was the change of name; everything else remained the same.

It would be so easy for me to reflect and comment about the differences between Vasco and The Drawing Room, so I will try to refrain!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Burger Joint - The Burger Room Causeway Bay

I have to say, I really like Causeway Bay.  It's one of the most densely populated spots in Hong Kong, which makes it one of the most densely populated places on the planet.  It's crazy to hang out and watch people rushing about....  Come to think of it, it might be one of the only locations in Hong Kong where I've seen anything remotely frantic in it's pace.

But, it can wear thin pretty quickly and you increasingly get a sense that you need a quiet moment away from the masses and hysteria.

Surprisingly, there is a place in Causeway Bay that has a much less frantic pace, and even better, has a heap of restaurants and funky shops to stroll through.  All at a much more leisurely pace.

Fashion Walk is a little bit removed from the hustle and bustle of Times Square, but it's increasingly becoming my go to spot when in the area, just for me to catch my breath.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

AnOther Place by David Myers - great food but shame about the pacing

In a world filled with celebrity and Michelin awarded chefs, unsurprisingly I'd never come across US based chef, David Myers.  

That was until I'd arranged to catch up with my Singaporean based food buddy James, who'd booked us in for a dinner at Adrift at Marina Bay Sands.  James had come across David Myers on his travels and assured me that I'd have a fantastic meal at Adrift.

You can't find a more glamorous spot in all of Singapore than Marina Bay Sands, and the flashy looking and well kitted out Adrift ended up being a superb meal.  Our dinner was served to us as we sat in chairs suspended by wires from the ceiling and the ultra modern dining room felt like it would be at home in swanky parts of Los Angeles.

I really enjoyed the meal, but was pretty lazy and didn't write up the visit.

But I did remember the meal fondly and when I saw that David Myers, also known as the Gypsy Chef, was opening a restaurant in Hong Kong - knew that I'd get along and check out his interestingly named AnOther Place.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Amber - The 4Hands with Andre Chiang

I love the concept of 4 Hands dinners.  Two chefs working out of the same kitchen, producing a meal that highlights their best work.

I've been to a few.

But never one with the caliber of chefs from the recent dinner showcasing the skills of two of the world's top chefs.

Richard Ekkebus from Amber and Andre Chiang from Restaurant Andre, are two of the best chefs in Aisa, with their restaurants featuring in both San Pellegrino's Asia and Worlds best restaurants. It's fair to say that attending the special, two-nights only event, was high on my list of priorities.

I'd eaten at Amber before and rated the experience as one of my favourite meals of 2015 (see post here), and while I'd never dined at Restaurant Andre in Singapore, I had travelled to Taipei to visit Andre's Taiwanese outlet RAW.  Unsurprisingly, it was also one of my top meals of 2015.

Andre's visit to Amber formed part of his global tour to promote his publication of 'Octaphilosophy: The Eight Elements of Restaurant ANDRÉ' - a book that all diners would be given at the end of the 4 Hands dinner.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Gin Sai - tempura does not get better

What's with the obsession with Japanese food in Hong Kong?

With a plethora of amazing Japanese restaurants opening across Hong Kong, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was the predominant Asian cuisine.

One of my all time favourite meals in Hong Kong comes from Wagyu Takumi (see post here), the two Michelin Starred restaurant located on the fringes of Wan Chai.  So when the girl suggested we do a double date with some mates at Gin Sai, it was easy to say yes.  After all Gin Sai is the sister restaurant to Wagyu Takumi and is located right next door.

A late bout of food poisoning (not related) to one of our dining companions meant that instead of a double date, it was just the two of us for our Gin Sai experience.  Which was amusing since we'd been booked into a private dining room by the girl's mate, whom just happened to be cousins with one of the head chefs, Chef Eric!

So we arrived for our dinner and were taken to an amazing looking private dining area that could easily have taken twelve.  It was one of the more spacious table settings we'd had!


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