Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Lobster and Mussels by Paul's Kitchen - the best lobster rolls outside of New York

I'm forever being surprised by the sights and sounds of Hong Kong, around every corner is something new or different, even areas you think you know well.  It's amazing how many times we'd walked down Aberdeen Street to visit Sheung Wan, never detouring down the many side streets to see what other exciting adventures we might enjoy.  Little did we realise that perhaps one of the coolest streets in Hong Kong was right at our finger tips, all we had to do was veer left.

Gough Street is right at the end of Aberdeen Street and walking past in a hurry, you'd never guess that the street was home to a veritable hive of little shops full of knickknacks and funky dining spots.  It was only leading up to Christmas and some promised Christmas markets that ensured we did veer left, a direction that opened up a world of funky shops and would ultimately lead us to Lobster and Mussels by Paul's Kitchen.  

Formerly just plain old Paul's Kitchen, the tiny 'hole in the wall' dining spot would be easy to miss if you were not paying attention.  Paul's Kitchen had been around for eight years before a move necessitated opening up a few doors down from it's original location.  The move also led to a change of concept and name, hence Lobster and Mussels by Paul's Kitchen was born.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Giando - simple ingredients for classic Italian

I'd been certain that I'd picked poorly when deciding to check out Giando Italian Restaurant and Bar, absolutely certain.  We'd felt like Italian and while there are some great Italian restaurants in Hong Kong, there are as many pretty ordinary ones too.  It was a case of picking a restaurant that looked OK from their web site, then spending an hour reading mixed reviews about Giando, leading me to contemplate cancelling and looking elsewhere.

Originally located at Fenwick Pier at Wan Chai, Giando had recently moved to the ever popular Star Street, which was familiar territory to me and was the final deciding factor to keep my reservation.  My scepticism about my decision came back though once we walked into the dining room, which was so new, it still smelled of paint and construction.  It was also the weirdest looking space I'd seen in a restaurant for a while, with lots of pokey spaces set up with tables around a larger central area that held a huge central table.  What seemed so weird about the interior was that it looked like a throwback from the 70's with loads of exposed light brown brick.

By the time we were seated and perusing the menu's, I'd reached the conclusion that I'd made a terrible mistake and there was no way I'd enjoy the meal.  There was nothing that really jumped out at me on the menu and I really struggled to find many options that appealed.  A small positive seemed to be the white truffle specials on offer, which seemed to be the only shining light in an otherwise uninspiring menu.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Frites Central - Authentic Belgian frites

Not every meal can be had in a Michelin Starred restaurant (unfortunately) and sometimes it's just basic pub food you're looking for.  I'd just met the girl after work and we had to decide on a dinner location close to Sheung Wan, somewhere nice and casual.  I'd not had a heap of luck when deciding on casual dining spots in HK, with more than a few being quite the let down.

It just so happened that we were walking close to The Wellington, right on the border of Central and Sheung Wan and I remembered that there was a Belgium Beer House on the 1st floor. Frites sounded pretty interesting and the Belgium people are pretty well known for their frites (fries), so it seemed like an easy place to stop by on the way home.  We didn't have a booking and didn't really expect that it would be too hard to score a table.  Boy, were we wrong!  As we stepped out of the lift, the place was rocking with suits enjoying an after work beer.  Luckily, we were given a table on the promise that we'd be out of the place by 7:30pm - it was 6:15pm and an easy request to fulfil for a couple of speed eaters!

We were shown to one of the many bench style seats in the main dining room, which reminded me of an old style European bar; bench seats at one end and a traditional bar at the other.  It was quite comforting and warming inside, especially since it was a very rare cold winter's day outside. Placemat style menus were already at our table and showed off a wide range of typical pub fare, including a whole section dedicated to Mussel Pots, which were available in half or full kilo options.  A big pot of mussels sounded a tempting way to start a meal, but given we'd promised to vacate our seats in record time, we decided to forego starters and jump straight into mains.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Taipei: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

There have been a number of cool new restaurants opening up in Taipei over the last twelve months, highlighting the growing popularity of fine dining in Taiwan.  Andre Chiang is perhaps the most well known of the new breed with the opening of his future #AsiaTop50 Restaurant RAW (See post here), but he is not the first, or best know chef to do so.  

Joel Robuchon is arguably one of the most well regarded chef of the last fifty years, with restaurants spanning the globe combining a total of 25 Michelin Stars across his global gastronomic empire.  Chef Robuchon had obviously seen the potential in Taiwan, opening an outlet of his famed L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon restaurants in 2009.  I'd been lucky enough to have dined at the Singapore  (see post here) and Hong Kong (see post here) L'Atelier restaurants, and wanted to add a third to my ever-growing list of top Asian restaurants I'd visited.

It took my third visit to Taipei to finally convince my buddy to come along and check out L'Atelier in his adoptive land.  The Big Boy had been living in Taipei for quite a few years and it had been a source of contention that he'd continually avoided committing to taking me to L'Atelier.  It was only with the promise of the fromages that I was finally able to convince the Big Boy that a classic French fine dining meal was just the ticket leading into Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Nobu Hong Kong - Japanese doesn't get much better

I'll start off by saying I wish that I'd visited the original Nobu when we'd been in New York a few years back, it was my silly decision not to.  Instead, I'd made a visit to the Melbourne Nobu and had a  pretty mixed experience.  It's why I'd put off going to Nobu in Hong Kong for so long, that lingering doubt in my mind that renowned Japanese chef Nobuyuki (Nobu) Matsuhisa's vision didn't translate so well when the master was not overseeing the kitchen.

Known globally as the master of Japanese cuisine, Chef Nobu has a chain of restaurants that spans the globe, with accolades that include Michelin Stars and James Beard Awards.  So well recognised is Chef Nobu, he was noted as one of the eleven most influential chefs of the decade by Madrid Fusion in 2009.  Chef Nobuyuki started his dining empire with an interesting story: a collaboration with Hollywood legend Robert De Niro with whom he partnered in opening the original Nobu in New York City (1994).  I guess having a celebrity A lister as a business partner is a good way to start an empire!

Nobu Hong Kong one of the restaurants in the InterContinental, and while it doesn't have a Michelin Star it is rated as one of the 100 Top Tables in Hong Kong, usually a reliable indicator of a quality restaurant.  Continuing our recent trend of checking out lunch time menus, we'd decided to make our way over to the InterContinental on a Saturday afternoon and check out the Nobu Signature tasting lunch.  The facade of the InterContinental was quite dated, but as we walked through the lobby of the Hotel, we noted that the inside was had been completely remodelled at some point and looked pretty plush.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Mercedes Me - Luxury showroom and fine dining restaurant?

As far as luxury brands go, Mercedes is one of the most enduring and well known brands on the planet, especially if you're a car nut.  I've always been more of a Beemer guy and BMW is my luxury car of choice.  But the world of luxury car brands is a competitive beast, and many of the well known brands are looking to expand their base with more accessible entry level cars.  It seems that Mercedes is taking another approach to help their luxury brand become a little more accessible with the introduction of the Mercedes Me concept.

Partnering up with Maximal Concepts in Hong Kong, the crew that run Mott 32 (see post here) and Blue Butcher (see post here), Mercedes Me is one of the first concepts stores that blends a Mercedes showroom with a full restaurant.   Located very conveniently in the Entertainment Building in Central (underneath HMV), the restaurant slash showroom is noticeable with a stylised logo that is both serious and whimsical at the same time...  Oh, and don't forget the flashy Mercedes vehicle that on the night of our visit was the safety car from Formula 1 Grand Prix.

I'd been keen to get into the restaurant for a while, and had been stymied by trying to book in on a Friday and Saturday night, it seemed that Mercedes Me was doing well enough that you couldn't book a decent time on a popular night.  As it turned out, we were able to secure a table as a 'walk in' early on a Sunday night, which suited me just fine.  Not knowing what to expect from a restaurant in a car showroom, I was impressed with the fit out.  I shouldn't have been surprised by the lux fit out that combined a very modern restaurant with a homage to one of the most recognisable car manufacturers on the planet.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Ocean Repulse Bay - A tale of two lunches

I should have known something was up.  We'd just placed our orders and one of Hong Kong's hottest new dining spots and I wasn't feeling the love from our waiter.  There had been a level of enthusiasm from our waiter as he'd taken down SC's entree and main choices, in fact, he'd enthused that they were exactly the choices he would have made.  I'd received no such assurances when I'd placed my order.  As I said, I should have known something was up.

But I get a head of myself.

We'd picked probably the worst day imaginable to check out the new fine dining seafood restaurant over at Repulse Bay.  The sky was angry that day my friends, stormy clouds abounding and precipitation falling from the sky.  By the time our taxi dropped us off behind the Pulse Shopping centre, it was definitely anything but a great day for the beach.

Arriving for our 1pm lunch sitting at The Ocean restaurant, we were walked to our table in the middle of the restaurant.  I noticed a couple of things, there was an immense feeling of space in the dining room, with huge comfortable seats, arranged facing floor to ceiling windows, that in summer would provide spectacular views of the beach and islands further out.  There was a decent amount of space between the seats too, giving the feeling that we were alone in our own little paradise.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Zurriola - a game menu that fell short

You know those times when you have no idea what you want to eat?  If you're like me, you can spend hours and hours just looking over restaurant menus to see if anything 'grabs' your attention and gets you out of your lethargy to make a booking.  There's no rhyme nor reason for me selecting a dining spot sometimes, it could be a particularly appetising photo on a web site, or an interesting and different menu, or even just a cool name.  Our visit to Zurriola was based simply on the fact they had a winter 'game' menu with venison on offer.

Winter in Hong Kong brings a couple of very appealing options, it's obviously truffle season, and I don't really need to explain what's so great about that!  But it's also 'game' season, which means pheasant, wild boar and most importantly venison.  If you've not had venison before, it's a very strong flavoured red meat that is quite simply delicious.  Venison is usually deer, but throughout history, it's been a general term used for game and at one time or another has referred to hares, wild pigs and goats.  It also happens to be one of SC's favourite things to eat (after bacon, truffle and duck fat).

Zurriola is a Modern European style restaurant, which means that it takes a bit of a contemporary view of traditional dishes.  I'd been quite excited about visiting, after reading some local HK blogs about how amazing the place was and in particular, one blogger thought the tasting menu was amongst the best in Kong Kong.  Located at TST, we were again struck speechless by the skyline that was recently rated as the best in the world.  We were seated at a table that afforded us the most incredible views of the island and our only regret was that it was raining outside, otherwise the balcony windows would have been open.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Taipei - Mume an Aussie in Taipei

I keep hearing about how the Taiwan food scene is changing and rapidly evolving, and glossy articles like this one (Taiwan: The world's next foodie travel destination), would certainly have you believing the hype.  You might ask why a Hong Kong blogger is paying attention to the food scene across the South China Sea, but with a best mate trying to break into the food scene, and regular visits to the tiny island, there's not much to wonder.

My first visit was a bit of a bust to Taipei, I really thought the food scene was over inflated and the restaurants I visited average at best.  Not so on my most recent trip, where I managed to get into hotshot restaurant RAW (see post here) and it's closest rival Mume.  Mume is part of the new style of restaurant globally that has taken it's inspiration from restaurants like Noma, looking to capitalise on fresh local produce and cutting edge culinary art.

Mume is run by a trio of young gun chefs from around the world, including Aussie chef Kai Ward who had worked at arguably Australia's best restaurant Quay in Sydney.  Kai, along with Richie Lin and Long Xiong have taken their combined experience operating around the world to bring a slice of European style and combined it with local produce to try to create something unique in Taipei.

Seasons by Oliver E - a lunch to remember

I've been really stupid.  Hong Kong is rightfully known as one of the foodie meccas globally, with more restaurants than any person could ever visit in a lifetime.  A place with many Michelin Starred establishments, Top 100 tables and Tatler Top 20 restaurants, so many in fact that you could eat yourself poor by trying to visit them all!  And I've been doing just that, trying to visit and write about as many of the best restaurants in this giant of a city as possible and grumbling about the cost.  As I said, I've been really stupid.

There's another way.  Lunches!

Hong Kong's finest restaurants have been serving set menu lunches for a long time, a fact that I've recently clued into (yeah, I know, stupid) and taken advantage of.  

We booked in to Seasons by Oliver Ezra for a Saturday lunch recently.  It felt a little strange getting dressed up to hit a fancy Michelin Starred restaurant for lunch, but as we made our way to Causeway Bay's swanky Lee Gardens 2 shopping centre, it all started to make perfect sense.  

Seasons is culinary wiz Oliver Ezra's first foray into his own restaurant.  French born Ezra is better know as the former head chef of Three Star L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon's Hong Kong restaurant.  Tutored by legends of the culinary world Joel Robuchon and Pierre Gagnaire, Chef Ezra has food in his blood.  With a grandfather who was a chef to the last Tzar of Russia, there was never any doubt that Ezra would follow in his grandfather's footsteps and was one named in the best 22 young chefs in France by Gault Millau in 2007.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

London - Smiths of Smithfield by John Torode

One of my foodie observations is how the zeitgeist has changed over the last decade, with the super star chef front and centre in people's consciousness.  This has almost certainly been driven by the transition of the chef moving out from the kitchen and into the television studio.  One cooking show in particular has taken the world by storm, and that show is Masterchef.  The original Masterchef kicked off in the UK before the concept was picked up by other markets and at last count, there were fifty countries that run a version of Masterchef!

While the concept started in the UK, the Australian version is credited with helping to transform the show, providing a more glamorous approach that, for me, was a little too heavy on the drama and was less about the food.  One of the great ironies of Masterchef is that the Australian version is hosted by an ex British chef living in Australia (Gary Mehigan) and the UK version has an ex Aussie hosting (John Torode) - go figure!

I was recently in the UK for work and looking for a place to check out, and my boss recommended a little place called Smiths of Smithfield, one of his favourite steak restaurants run by Jonty Rhodes.  I thought is strange that an ex South African cricket star would run a steak restaurant in London, but hey, the South Africans are well known meat lovers.  It wasn't until I made the reservation and had a look at the web site, that I realised that I'd heard wrong and that Smiths of Smithfield was actually run by none other than John Torode!  I felt like an idiot :)

While I'd done my fair share of solo dining in London (The Square, Marcus, Maze Grill), I was actually able to convince one of my colleagues to come along and check out Smiths with me. Hailing from the US and an avid meat lover, bringing KH along to visit a steak restaurant seemed like the right thing to do.  However, trying to find the place, especially for a couple of tourists, turned out to be a little harder than expected and there was a lot of walking involved to find the funky restaurant in Charterhouse Street.  Not an issue for me, but a huge one for KH, who'd been recovering for ankle surgery, who took a little extra time to find the joint.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Twenty Six by Liberty - worth the wait

What makes a restaurant desirable?  It's a question that many a restauranteur and chef has probably asked themselves a million times!  Long wait times to secure a table is often a measure of desirability, but is that all? Perhaps, but perhaps not!  I've entered waiting lists for many restaurants that have ended up being a let down, simply because of the elevated expectations by having to wait.  Equally, I've secured a table in restaurants with only a few hours notice, which have been incredibly desirable (luck plays a part!).

I've been lusting over Twenty Six by Liberty for a little while, ever since I came across some photos of Executive Chef Bjoern Alexander's take on modern cuisine.  The German born chef has an eye for the dramatic and his food presentation is nothing short of gastronomic visual porn. Having started his career in legendary American Chef Thomas Keller's French Laundry, before continuing onto countless two and three Michelin-starred restaurants, Chef Bjoern had created level of desirability that I'd not felt for a little while.

I will admit that my desire to check out Twenty Six by Liberty was fuelled by the fact that the place is nearly impossible to get into!  I'd tried without success to make a reservation on a Friday or Saturday night, and it wasn't until I tried to book on a Tuesday night that I managed to secure a seat.  I wasn't really sure if I felt like the ten course tasting menu mid week, but figured I could just about manage it :)

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Caprice - A generous and delicious tasting menu

When I rang to make my reservation at Caprice, I was reminded twice through the call that dress standards applied.  As if I needed reminding!  Caprice is one of the finest restaurants in Hong Kong and located in the exclusive Four Seasons Hotel, so I didn't really need to be told that dinner would be an occasion to dress up!

There was a touch of controversy in 2014, when Caprice lost both it's third star and acclaimed head chef Vincent Thierry, which meant that new face of Caprice, chef Fabrice Vulin had stepped into the lion's den.  Was Caprice on the way down, of was the loss of a star just a hiccup in the history of the great restaurant?  French born Vulin was certainly an inspired replacement, having run many two and three Michelin-starred restaurants across France and the rest of Europe.

We knew we were stepping into the heart of Hong Kong's elite when we crossed the threshold of the Four Seasons Hotel.  Not only is the building quite intimidating, the plethora of Ferraris and Bentleys parked out front reminded us that there was plenty of money in HK.  We'd not been to the HK Four Seasons before, but it's a beautiful building with immaculately presented staff that were only too happy to help us find Caprice.

We arrived right on opening time, and spent a few moment inspecting the immaculate entrance to Caprice, before our Maitre 'd noticed us and quickly came over to give us a hearty welcome. When we'd booked, we were told that we'd be unlikely to secure a window seat, so were pleasantly surprised when shown to our table that was right by the window and afforded us spectacular views of Hong Kong harbour.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Taipei - RAW; the new breed of restaurant

For more than a few years, my best mate the Big Boy has been living and establishing a business in Taipei.  It's a long way to visit from Australia, but just a short flight from Hong Kong, so I've been able to get across to visit a few times.  As usual, when visiting any country, I try hit up the better restaurants, so I can check out the local dining scene. During my first visit, earlier in the year, we tried to get into Taipei's hottest restaurant RAW; but to no avail.  That place was hard to get into!

I decided there had to be another way, so for my most recent visit to Taipei, I did a little more research and realised that their might be another way.  RAW is Andre Chiang's first foray into his native homeland after establishing himself as one of Asia's top restaurant, Andre in Singapore (ranked #5 in Asia's top 50).  As luck would have it, I became mates with a guy who was a little bit connected in the Singaporean food scene and was well acquainted with Chef Andre.  Before too long, I'd secured a table on a Saturday night!  (Thanks EB!)

I was pretty excited to be honest, Taipei has a burgeoning food scene, largely being driven by the likes of Andre Chiang, and RAW was said to be the pick of the new breed of Taiwanese cuisine.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Porterhouse by Laris - a brilliant lunch set menu

In my short time in Hong Kong, I've had some of the most amazing, and most expensive meals of my life.  I mean, seriously expensive meals where I've walked out of a restaurant in shock and with 'buyers remorse'.  This is a symptom of a lot of great restaurants, but largely the fact that practically all food has to be imported to Hong Kong.

It's why I am completely amazed by the fact that you can go to some of those same amazing restaurants for lunch and get a similar feed for a fraction of the price.  I'm not really sure why, but there is a thriving lunchtime food scene in Hong Kong and it's really, really cheap.  I was again reminded of this phenomenon recently when we went out for a team lunch and hit up new spot Porterhouse by Laris.

Located in the newly renovated, and might I say now impressive looking California Tower in Lan Kwai Fong, and established by Aussie Chef David Laris, Porterhouse is a contemporary and upscale steak house more akin to the Australian version of a steak restaurant than the currently stylish 'Steak Frites' places dotted around Hong Kong.  No stranger to working overseas, Chef Laris had spent time refining his trade in London's Mezzo before moving to Shanghai and establishing his own award winning restaurants.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The First Floor - the best of surprises

We were walking home from work one evening, taking a new route for some strange reason, and happened along a pretty fancy restaurant launch.  It looked pretty inviting, with red carpet and lots of floral arrangements, but we were on a mission to get somewhere (can't even remember where now!) and made a mental note to get along and check it out.  There was one problem though, we didn't bother to find out the name of the restaurant!

It wasn't a huge problem though, we knew it was in Duddell Street and easy enough to find.  It was a Tuesday night and we felt adventurous, so wandered along Duddell Street, up the steep stairs to find our mystery restaurant.  Called 'the First Floor', we banked on the place not being too busy on a Tuesday night and rocked up without a reservation.  As luck would have it, we were welcomed with open arms and shown to a table and, not for the first time in Hong Kong, were the only people in the restaurant!

Only the First Floor is not really a restaurant, but a private club thats been set up by media group 'Lifestyle Federation'.  Part dining room, part open demonstration kitchen and 'part lounge for hire', the First Floor also has a humador for those that like a cigar after dinner.  It's plush too, really plush!  Our very comfortable seats were red velvet like seats and were placed around tables that were set for silver service.

London - MazeGrill, the more casual Gordon Ramsay

London is the home base for Gordon Ramsay, so I made it my mission to visit one of the great chef's restaurants during my recent visit.  It turned out to be easier said than done!  First on my list was the three Michelin starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsey, a must for any foodie visiting London.  Nope, no chance of getting in!  Next on my list was one of Gordon's first great restaurants, Petrus, and while I could secure a seat at around 9:30pm, it was a bit too late for a reservation.

And so I worked down the list of Gordon Ramsay restaurants until I was able to secure a seat.  I ended up getting a table at Maze, not the Michelin starred Maze, but the more casual MazeGrill located in Mayfair.  You know the old saying, beggars can't be choosers!  I was just happy to be getting along to a Ramsay restaurant at all, and thankfully, I ended up having one of my best nights in London!

I'd had some time to kill and found myself wandering around Mayfair for about an hour before my allotted reservation time.  Wow, you can certainly get a feel for the wealth of the area, it's quite a spectacular little patch of Planet Earth.  After getting my fill of seeing the wealthy side of London, I made my way to the beautiful old building that housed MazeGrill to get my fill of some delicious food.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

EPURE - superb French fine dining, but wheres the Michelin Star?

This was the week the Hong Kong & Macau Michelin Guide was updated.  Now, this post is not about the guide itself, but did stem from some of the articles I'd read, most of which really questioned the relevance of the guide after some shock omissions and demotions.  One of the best meals I'd had in Hong Kong was from NUR (see post here), which was one of the unlucky restaurants to be demoted.  I'd also read that a little French fine diner called EPURE was widely regarded as extremely unlucky to have missed out.  

I didn't really need more of a reason to check it out.  I wanted to see for myself if EPURE was indeed Michelin Star worthy.

EPURE is located in Tsim Sha Tsui, or TST, and is one of the many restaurants in the very popular Ocean Centre at Harbour City.  This is where the massive ocean liners dock while in Hong Kong and is probably the biggest indoor shopping centre I've ever seen, you can get lost there for hours!  We had a pretty good idea of how to find EPURE, but we arrived early anyway, so we could have a wander around the shops and have a pre-dinner drink.

Without doubt, my favourite style of cuisine is French fine dining, so I was super keen to learn that Executive Chef Nicolas Boutin was at the helm of EPURE.  Having worked at Michelin three-starred Troisgros as well as a handful of two-starred restaurants around Europe, I was expecting French cuisine of the highest order.  With a philosophy of delivering a glamorous and chic dining experience  and inspired by French royalty, the layout of the EPURE dining room was certainly very plush and luxurious.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Tartine - very fancy toasted sandwiches

There are so many new restaurants opening in Hong Kong that it's hard to keep up.  Sure, I have my regular sources of information to keep abreast of the changes, but it's nearly impossible to track them all.  I didn't have any such problems with recently opened Tartine, I'd been keeping a close eye on it's development each night on my walk home.  I love watching restaurants go from empty spaces to fully fledged establishments, mainly because I know that soon enough I'll be trying them out for myself!

That I was going to check out Tartine was a foregone conclusion, not just because it looked quite different from everything else around SoHo, but because of the involvement of Michelin-starrred Philippe Orrico, the man behind On Dining (see post here) and Upper Modern Bistro (see post here). Orrico is noted as consulting chef, which I assume is just helping with the menu and attributing his name to help the restaurant along, never the less, it got my attention.

Just in case you didn't know, a tartine is a fancy French toasted sandwich and Tartine has combined the humble toasty and spruced them up with high quality ingredients and a farm-to-table philosophy.

We'd planned to hit up Tartine on the way home from work one night and figured that as a brand new restaurant, we'd not need to make a booking.  It was a solid plan, especially since we'd walked by a few times since opening and not seen a soul inside so far.  It was also flawed, unbeknownst to our morning plans, Tartine had gone on an advertising blitz with an article in just about every food publication available in Hong Kong!

New Zealand - Fergburger: legendary burgers?

While we were skiing the wonderful mountains in Wanaka, New Zealand, we'd been hearing of a near mythical place to eat up the road in Queenstown.  I'd pretty much had every day planned for food, but after hearing about a little place called Fergburger, I had to satisfy my burger craving and get along to check it out.

I was told to expect long queue wait times.  I was told that the place was open for twenty two hours a day, just to cater to all the ski freaks and ski bunnies.  I was told all sorts of stuff, but mainly, I was told that Fergburger pumped out the best hamburgers that most people had ever eaten!  I love burgers and I like to think I know a little bit about them too, so I was keen to see if I shared that popular opinion.

Fergburger stared as a little hole in the wall burger joint around 2001 in well known Cow Lane, where there were not too many casual food options after a hard day on the ski fields.  As it's popularity grew, Fergburger outgrew its little spot, but it wasn't until the threat of its original home being torn down that a move was initiated.  

It was to this remodelled burger joint that we rocked up for a sampling of the Fergburger burger. Looking very much at home in a ski village, Fergburger stood out with its exposed wood and slate floors.  We didn't see the expected queues, but we'd timed our run to perfection, hitting the joint at 3pm, too late for lunch and too early for dinner.  Even though there were no long queues, it was still really busy, with most of the seats taken and about 6 people in the line before us.  SC grabbed one of the only seats left while I jumped in line to wait.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

G7 Private Dining - Singapore sling Italian style

After recently finding a taste for Hong Kong's private dining scene, I decided it was again time to sample the uniquely HK approach to dining.

This time, it was to well known Hong Kong Chef Eddy Leung, who's plied his trade at some of the city's most famous 5 Star restaurants, including those at the Swire Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton and the Peninsula Hotel.  More recently, Chef Eddy has been working the private dining scene, with his Aberdeen kitchen called Chef Studio by Eddy.  

But who really wants to head to Aberdeen for dinner?  So, Chef Eddy created a more accessible Private Dining experience in the heart of Central, G7 Private Dining.  Well, much more accessible for this little foodie!  Located on the edge of the Botanic Gardens in Glenealy Street, G7 is a little hard to find at first, and when we did stumble across the front door, we couldn't figure out how to gain entry.  It got to a point where I had to call the restaurant and say we were out front, before the door magically slid open!

London - Byron Hamburgers

What do you do when you are catching up with a mate you haven't seen in ten years?  Well, you head for a burger of course!

I was in London for work and caught up with one of my favourite bosses from days gone by, Johnzo. Apart from being awesome catching up, Johnzo took me along to that time honoured tradition in London of afterwork drinks down at the local pub.  That we were at Canary Wharf meant that we had to tackle a pub in shiny new building, but strangely once through the front door, it was largely still an old style pub.

Anyway, I'm not gonna talk about the pub, this is after all a food blog first and foremost.  While we were at the pub, Johnzo had been banging on about this burger place around the corner that we had to visit.  Not for the burgers, but for a side that he rated as the best in town.  Me?  I was happy to get along for a burger, as after visiting a slew of two Michelin starred restaurants (The Square, Hibiscus, Marcus), I was looking for something much more casual.

It was a short walk from the pub to our destination, a burger chain called Byron.  I'd initially thought it might have been named after Byron Bay in Australia, but no, owner Tom Byng had been inspired after a four year stint in America, where he 'ate enough burgers to sink the Titanic'. Wanting to bring back that authentic US of A style burger to the 'old country', Tom had the craving for the classic and simple stylings from his favourite spot in the US, Silver Top in Providence, Rhode Island.  

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

London - Hibiscus

It's extraordinary the lengths I'll go to sometimes to have dinner with a mate.  

I found myself travelling to the UK at the same time as a buddy from Brisbane, so of course we arranged to meet up for dinner. The last time we caught up for a meal was the very special Fish House on the Gold Coast (see post here) and while that was a bit of a trek, by meeting up in London, we'd outdone ourselves.

I'd already hit up a couple of two Michelin Star restaurants for my short trip to London (The Square and Marcus), so thought what the heck, another couldn't hurt, right?  The very highly rated Hibiscus was the target of my attention and I was excited to check out the very passionate offering from Claude Bosi.

Originally opened in 2000, Claude purchased a site in the market town of Ludlow, which quickly earned a reputation as destination dining spot, earning a coveted Michelin Star in its first year of operation.  The second star was not far behind in 2003, which Claude has kept to this date.  Not even a move from Ludlow to central London could put a dent in the fine diner's popularity.  If anything, the move significantly enhanced the Hibiscus brand.

I'd arranged to meet Kev at Hibiscus, which was a lot harder to find than I thought possible. Google Maps had me all over the area and while I was able to find Jason Atherton's Pollen Street Social, Hibiscus eluded me.  I literally had to to a 'house by house' inspection before I found the little brass nameplate.  Talk about a discreet entrance!  I waited outside for Kev, who regaled me with his own tale of trying to find the restaurant.

8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana - The Italian King

When you visit a three Michelin Starred restaurant, you have a certain level of expectation.  I had very high expectations going in to my reservation for 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, not just because it was three Michelin Stars, but because it was the first Italian three star restaurant located outside of Italy.  There was added pressure though, the purpose of my visit was for our 18th wedding anniversary, so  it was a special occasion too.

It had required careful planning to get into 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo for our anniversary dinner.  The restaurant is one of the most popular and consistently packed restaurants in Hong Kong and long range reservations are a requirement.  The fact that Umberto Bombana's fine diner has been open since January 2010 and it's popularity has not diminished at all in Hong Kong's ultra competitive dining scene is a testament to his genius.

That 8 1/2 Ottoe e Mezzo received two Michelin Stars within month's of it's opening signified that something special was going down, but in December 2011, Chef Umberto's legend was secured with his third star.

Yeah, expectations were high!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

London - Marcus ten years on

The very first Michelin Starred restaurant I went to was the two star Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley in Central London.  It was also my first trip to Europe, and to say that I was excited was an understatement.  At the time, London was the epicentre of global cuisine and Marcus Wareing was in the top 100 restaurants in the world.  It was a lock - I was going to have the best meal of my life!

But I didn't...

Now, I'm not saying that the meal was bad, far from it, it just wasn't the mind blowing and life changing experience that I'd built it up to be.  Sure, the service we received was outstanding, in fact, up until that point, I don't think we'd ever really experienced service at such a professional level.  It's just that the food was good, and I was expecting great.

Fast forward a bit, quite a bit in fact.  I was travelling back to London, this time solo for work and had a free day to hit a few restaurants, one of which was lunch the Square (see post here), followed by dinner on the same day, at Marcus.  Now, Marcus was the new name for Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley and while still located inside the Berkeley Hotel, the restaurant had taken on a slightly more casual approach to dining.  Oh, it was still rated as a two Michelin starred restaurant.

I was keen for redemption, would I find it?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Blue Butcher - Superb Steaks in Funky Soho

I'm forever surprised by the hidden gem restaurants dotted around Hong Kong, more so when I walk by a spot, not realising that an absolute cracker of a restaurant is nearby.  But then, to be fair, sometimes I walk around with my head in the clouds!

The girl has mentioned the name Blue Butcher to me a couple of times as we've walked down Hollywood Road in the Mid Levels, but it never connected with me that the dark little bar front was actually hiding something more my style!  It wasn't until a mate from work said his favourite steak place in HK was the Blue Butcher that I had the light bulb moment - we booked a table immediately.

I'd arranged to meet the girl at the restaurant and when I rocked up out the front, SC was finishing up with a beer at the downstairs bar.  It was still a mystery to me that there was a steak restaurant around, especially looking at the facade, but after we walked up the stairs, it all became clear.  A huge space opened up that was equal measures dark pub and funky industrial style kitchen.  

We were initially booked in for a seat at the bar, which we were very comfortable with, but as we were being seated, our waitress indicated that a table had opened up, as long as we were out by 8pm - easily done!  We were seated by the window, which overlooked Hollywood Road and gave me a great view of the kitchen.  

Sunday, 11 October 2015

La Vache - steak frites Parisian style

There has been a long standing battle for the ownership of a national cuisine!  No, I'm not talking about the stoush between Australia and New Zealand over the beloved pavlova, I'm talking about something much more serious.

Steak-frites is a very common and popular dish served in brasseries throughout Europe, most notably in Belgium and France, where both lay claim as its birthplace.  Simply translated, it is a combination of steak and fries and in reality, many countries could probably lay claim to the dish.  Typically using entrecôte, French for the premium cut or rib eye, the fatty steak is usually cooked medium rare and served with golden fries and topped with a béarnaise sauce.

It's somewhat surprising to learn that Hong Kong has adopted the steak-frites revolution, with a serious number of players in the space.  In fact, SoHo in the Midlevels has more steak-frites restaurant than you can count, with Peel Street housing three within sight of each other!  I'd been eyeing off many of these brasseries and decided it was high time to check on out! 

With so many to choose from, I simply picked one that had the coolest name and best looking web site.  Conveniently located in Peel Street, stepping into La Vache was like being transported to Paris, the staff and the fit-out screamed chic Parisian charm.  We didn't have a reservation, but were informed that there was a table available, as long as we were out by 8pm - not a problem we assured our maitre 'd.

Private Dining - The Popsy Room

There is a saying, I know you've heard it before; 'Art is in the eye of the beholder'.

But what is Art?  Contemporary wisdom tells us that it's a painting on a wall, a sculpture in a park or an exhibit in a gallery.  But is that all?  Over the last few years, artists have been using a new canvas for their pursuits - the plate.  The advent of the blogger, the food photographer and Instagram have helped transform gastronomy to arguably the most popular of all art!

This was never so evident than when I recently visited a private dining room that is an art gallery by day and gastronomic gallery by night.  The Popsy Room is an art gallery in Sheung Wan, an area that is rapidly transforming into the hippest of Hong Kong areas.  So it's fitting that such a juxtaposition of contemporary art and dining art start to bleed into each other.

Rotating exhibitions through the Popsy Room every two months keeps things fresh, but it is their approach to marrying the visual arts together that's so interesting.  The dining room takes direct inspiration from each exhibition, creating a menu that's in perfect harmony to tell a compelling story.  At the time of our visit, the gallery had a tribute to Madame Helena Rubinstein's legendary life, outlining her audacity and passion for creating a beauty empire.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

New Zealand Series - Bistro Gentil

I was looking forward to heading back to New Zealand for a holiday, it had been an exciting year to date, which included changing jobs and moving to HK.  As exciting as the year had been, I really needed a break and what better way to do so than a short ski holiday. Of course when I travel anywhere nowadays, I'm always considering the food angle and looking for the very best local dining.  I was a little bit dubious that I would find something amazing while travelling to Wanaka, a town in the South Island of NZ with the total population of 5,037.  Boy was I wrong!

Checking into our cute little bed and breakfast, Wanaka Haven, we immediately asked our host, Steve, for some local recommendations and without missing a beat, Bistro Gentil was mentioned.  Never one to delay, we asked if Steve could get us in for dinner the night of our arrival.  A quick call revealed he couldn't, the place was full, which was quite a promising sign.  Asking for the next available sitting, we were able to secure a reservation a few days in.  No matter, some skiing would have us anticipating the meal even more.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

London - The Square

I almost don't know where to begin, honestly.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks working out of London, which was exciting enough on its own, but even more so given my love of fine dining.  With a veritable smorgasbord of incredible restaurants on offer, how would I ever be able to narrow the choice down to just a few special dining establishments?

Let me start off by saying, I couldn't get into my first, second or third choice restaurants, even though I had plenty of time to book.  Let's just say that some restaurants are almost impossible to get into, and leave it at that.  As I worked my way down my list of restaurants I'd dreamed about dining in, I finally found a lunchtime spot available at Mayfair stalwart The Square by Phil Howard.

With two Michelin Stars held since 1998, The Square is an institution in London and chef and co-owner Phil Howard regarded as arguably one of the best chefs in Europe.  In fact, in an Instagram conversation with a former alumni of the Square, a guy that runs one of the best restaurants in Brisbane, it was put to me that the Square and Phil Howard were responsible for producing and inspiring thousands of top chefs globally.  The reverence in which both are held were clear and I knew I would be in for a treat.

Cheap Eats - Miss Kays Brisbane

My recent vacation to Brisbane held many surprises, in particular the number of openings and closings of restaurants.  When I lived in Brisbane, I knew there were lots of changes afoot, but like the proverbial 'frog in hot water' you don't really notice the change in temperature until it's too late.  Coming back after eight months away was like being dropped into a vat of boiling water, the changed foodie landscape was plain to see.

Knowing about my love of burgers, I'd been told by a number of friends and followers that there was a great new burger joint in the CBD and that I 'had to check it out'.  It was a huge coincidence that I'd noticed Miss Kays at around the same time, ironically, located at the site of the Villager (see post here), which had closed during my time away.

SC was off with her cousin, who she'd bumped into while we were walking up the Queen Street Mall, so I took the opportunity to leave the girls to catch up and made my way around the corner to Miss Kays.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

NUR - nourishment, love and science come together

Every once in a while, you experience something so unexpected that it instantly forms a lasting memory.  The tasting menu at NUR has left an indelible impression, one that has me comparing the meal to one of my top five ever....  Big call for sure, but there it is.

Let me tell you a little bit about NUR.  

The chef and founder of NUR has an interesting background: inspired and tutored by culinary legend Raymond Blanc, Nurdin Topham's life changed when Blanc prepared him a tomato dish which was a revelation, tasting like nothing Chef Topham had tasted before.  So much flavour, yet so light and balanced, the dish inspired a life changing decision, one that led to ten years in Blanc's two Michelin Starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, as well as a qualification as a natural therapist. 

The inspiration for NUR came once Nurdin was able to eat at Rene Redzepi's world famous NOMA in Copenhagen, which led to an internship at Redzepi's Nordic Food Lab, where he immersed himself in artisanal food production, science and fermentation.  Wanting to open his own restaurant, but never thinking that Hong Kong would become home, it was a chance meeting with a HK chef that led to the  opening of NUR.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

LONgTIME - definitely a funky spot

Not long before I moved away from Brisbane, a cool sounding little restaurant opened up in the Valley called LONgTIME.  I'd walked past a couple of times and made the rookie mistake of looking at the bar area outside, assuming it was the dining area and thinking 'Meh.

I'd never really given the modern Thai restaurant much of a thought until we came back to Brisbane for a short visit and arranged to go along with good mates.  You can imagine my surprise when I arrived for our dinner and found a huge and contemporary looking dining room, wrapped around an open kitchen, hidden from street view.  I was gob smacked!

It didn't surprise me that it was one of the hottest dining spots in Brisbane and a favourite of our Brisbane buds Thommo and Druce.  It was just the sort of hip and out of the way place that would appeal to our friends, who regaled us with stories of former visits and amazing food.  I literally couldn't wait to get cracking...

But, wait I did.  I'd arrived a little early and Thommo and Druce, who'd been entertaining SC, were quite late.  So, I had the opportunity to sit in the dining room and watch it slowly, then quickly fill up as I waited for my dining companions.  At least I was comfortable and it did give me the opportunity to admire the fit-out, which was solid looking wood tables and chairs and green leaf covered chandeliers, bringing the outside in.

Ta Vie - Japanese fusion with Chinese Influences

What would make a chef at the top of his game, a chef who is incredibly well regarded, make the decision to a leave a very successful two Michelin Star restaurant?  Earlier this year, acclaimed chef Hideaki Sato moved on from one of Hong Kong's best Japanese restaurants, Tenku Ryugin to set up Ta Vie in the historic Pottinger Hotel.  Bold move...

The Pottinger Hotel is located in busy Central, but is like an oasis in a chaotic desert and stepping through the front doors of the hotel was like stepping into a bygone era.  Classy and chic, it was a mix between colonial Britain and renaissance Paris.  Helpful staff went the extra step of escorting us to the charming old lifts that took us to the second floor and entrance to Ta Vie.  It was a stark contrast, while the lobby was light and airy, the restaurant was all greys and blacks, and while it retained a hint of the Parisian theme downstairs, it was much more attuned for romance (perfect for a date or special occasion).

Like many special occasion restaurants, we were warmly greeted by an incredibly friendly maître d' and shown to our tables.   With a warm glow from our special treatment, we quickly noticed a couple of glass bottles containing our menus for the evening, displayed just like I'd always imagined how a message in a bottle would appear walking down a beach.  Instead of a message of help, we were presented with chef Sato's customary tasting menu.  Sato is well known for degustation only menus, blending traditional Asian stylings with contemporary Japanese techniques.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Gauge - breakfast on steroids

One of the things I miss most about my home town of Brisbane is the breakfast culture.  Don't get me wrong, there is an amazing food scene in Hong Kong, one of the best in the world, but no one seems to have nailed the breakfast gig.

It's why, when I recently flew back to Brisbane for a week, I decided I'd get out and have as many great breakfasts as possible.  One I'd been particularly keen to check out was Ollie Hansford's Gauge in South Brisbane.  Formerly of two hatted restaurant the Stokehouse Brisbane and winner of Young Chef of the Year, I was super excited to see what Ollie was up to.  

When I set off from my Hotel to find Gauge, I was surprised to find that it was right next to Julius Pizza, in a spot that had significantly changed in the nine months since I left Brisbane.  With a couple of new high-rise buildings finally open, there was a different vibe from a few years ago, where there was not much at all to do at the Museum end of Grey Street.  Looking quite dark and brooding from the facade, I loved the juxtaposition of the light and airy interior that had a post industrial feel.  Quite stark and simple, with lots of share tables arranged around the kitchen area.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Fofo by el Willy: Not just a funny name

For a restaurant with a funny name, FoFo by el Willy takes itself pretty seriously.  Taking on the moniker of it's namesake in Shanghai, Fofo Hong Kong is the latest in a burgeoning chain of restaurants from chef Willy Trullas Moreno.  Originally from Barcelona Spain, Willy started with the original Fofo in Shanghai but has taken his concept of authentic Spanish cuisine and made as accessible to as many people as possible.

I first visited Fofo by el Willy a few months ago, thinking that the name sounded cool, but mostly because of a rad looking tasting menu that was available for a short time.  I'm not going to say much about that initial experience, except to say that the service was poor and left me unimpressed.  What did impress me was the way the team at Fofo reacted to my issues and had me back for a second visit.

The head chef of Fofo by el Willy in Hong Kong is talented chef Alex Martinez Fargas, also from Barcelona, a man that takes his food very seriously indeed.  With a slew of awards, which includes a recommendation from the Michelin Guide and a Best Restaurant 2105 award from the HK Tatler, Alex had done a top job of bringing the fun concept of Fofo and turning it into a serious contemporary Spanish diner.

Assembly - gastropub in TST

As big as Hong Kong is, it's still amazing how small it can feel at times!  I talk of coincidences mainly, as in how likely is it that you will find yourself in a situation that has a sense of deja vu or serendipity.  I'm slowly getting to know my new city by the only way you can, getting out and exploring and just wandering the streets.  A little while ago, wandering around with the girl, we randomly walked around the streets of Kowloon and came across a little street, actually, more of a laneway called Knutsford Terrace.  Now, Knutsford Terrace is like a little party strip with restaurants and bars for as far as the eye can see and looked a little like a mini Lan Kwai Fong.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I found myself at the very same Knutsford Terrace for a little blogger get together.  We were there to check out the latest menu and offering from Assembly, part of the Prive Group's stable of restaurants, that included Michelin Starred NUR (a restaurant on my must visit list).

I was the first of our little group to arrive (surprise, surprise), but it wasn't too long before I was joined by our host for the evening JC and fellow Hong Kong food bloggers SupertasterMel and Silverthoughts.  It was the first time I'd met either blogger, so I was a little nervous to begin with, but it wasn't long before we were chatting like old friends!  Ahh, the beauty of food is that it's so inclusive and a great way to share passions.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Mrs Pound - Secret entrance was the highlight

What happens when you come across a place that promises so much, but delivers so little? Somewhere that should be memorable but is almost instantly forgettable?  Well, I for one get pretty disappointed and tell a few of my friends.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. There has been a movement in many cities around the world to the speakeasy style of restaurant and bar.  I've written about a few before and usually they are pretty cool and mysterious.  The concept of the speakeasy was spawned in the early 1920's as a reaction to the completely ridiculous prohibition on alcohol, which to be honest also created the modern concept of organised crime - bootleggers anyone?  Anyway, before I get too political, the speakeasy also went when prohibition ended, but they are back, and in a big way.

A speakeasy is essentially a secret bar, now often a secret restaurant but the irony is that they are often the most popular of places and hardly secret!

One speakeasy that's been garnering a lot of attention, both here and overseas is a little spot called Mrs Pound.  Located in Sheung Wan, Mrs Pound has an interesting back story (found here in full), which includes a sordid but illustrious career of a burlesque dancer who was rumoured to have many lovers but eventually ran away with a conservative and reserved Hong Kong gentleman called Mr Ming.  So enamoured with Mrs Pound was Mr Ming that he gave her his favourite stamp shop, which she promptly turned in to her personal playground, resplendent with secret entrance!

Catalunya - a slice of El Bulli in HK?

There are restaurants that are so famous that they transcend the industry and fundamentally change it.  Current paradigm changer is Copenhagen's Noma but Heston Blumenthal's the Fat Duck is probably better known for changing things up.  The grandaddy of them all though has to be El Bulli, Ferron Adria's Spanish game changer, a restaurant that has closed but its legend lives on.  I was never lucky enough to visit El Bulli, but then, very few were.

It was with great excitement that I realised that some of the team behind El Bulli had established a restaurant right here in Hong Kong, and that I'd be able to experience some of the brilliance of the famed restaurant, albeit a tenuous link.  Catalunya is located in a quiet side street in Morrison Hill (the back of WanChai), hardly the setting for one of Hong Kong's hottest restaurants, but in a way it's oddly poetic that a such a Spanish beauty can be hidden so well.  My excitement remained at insane levels for a few days while I maintained a fantasy that I'd be dining at a spot helmed by Alain Devahive Tolosa and Pol Perello, the El Bulli trained chefs that ran the kitchen......  at one time!

My bubble was burst by a well known and connected chef out of Singapore, who sent me a quiet FB message to inform me that the dynamic duo had moved on from Catalunya.  C'est la vie I guess, but it did help settle my expectations for our meal, with were rapidly reaching unrealistic proportions!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Serge et le Phoque - relaxed French fine dining

Do you need a five star location to serve five star food?  It's a question worth asking.  I'd recently dined at perennial fine diner Amber (see post here), located in the oh-so-swanky Landmark Oriental and blessed with two Michelin Stars as well as a rating in the top 50 restaurants in the world.  It was lovely, if not a little sterile.  I mean it's nice walking through Central's million dollar shops to get to a meal, but it doesn't feel like old school Hong Kong.

I'd heard about a fancy little French fine diner that felt like it didn't need the fancy location to produce amazing food, so I set about checking it out.  Serge et le phoque is located in the back streets of Wan Chai and to get there you need to get out your map (well, SatNav) and then traverse the back streets, past the open fish markets and fruit vendors before finding the unassuming little restaurant.  The sights and smells of a more traditional Hong Kong assaulted my senses as we traipsed through the streets and when we finally walked through the black velvet curtain at the front door of Serge et le phoque, I was ready for just about anything.

What I found was an interesting little set up that was part post industrialist warehouse and part fancy dining room.  The area was split between a private dining room, sectioned of by more black velvet along with a series of circular tables surrounded by comfy booth style seating and along the front of the dining area (where we were sitting), tiny little two person tables facing the restaurant.  While I found the tables tiny, they were at least serviceable, but I think I'd have preferred to have the seats facing the huge plate glass window at the front of Serge, which provided a TV style view of the comings and going in busy Wan Chai.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Craftsteak - Open fire cooking

One of the most famous names in steak restaurants is Tom Colicchio, who is better known in his role as head jude go Top Chef (one of my favourite cooking shows).  I was pretty excited when I was wandering around Soho in Hong Kong one day and saw that there was a Craftsteak in Hong Kong. Upon further investigation though, I was disappointed to find out that it was in no way associated with it's more famous namesake.

I wasn't surprised though to find out that Craftsteak HK was actually part of Dining Concepts, arguably the most prolific restaurant group in this part of the world.  While I was mildly disappointed that I wouldn't get the quality and styings of a global celebrity chef, I knew that at least Craftsteak HK would be the real deal (or at least I hoped).

We'd not made a reservation but managed to easily score a table for a mid week on-the-way-home-from-work dinner.  Securing a table down near the open plan kitchen, I was able to get a view of the open fire custom made charcoal fired grill.  We were given a couple of menus to look over and it became clear quite quickly that Craftsteak was the king of meats, with a good selection of cuts of beef and lamb from the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Sky Bar - seafood-oyster-dessert, two out of three ain't bad?

So far in Hong Kong, I've not had the best of runs when it comes to seafood.  More often than not, I've ended up a little sick after chomping down on a seafood meal.  I wanted to put an end to that trend, so we decided to check out the Sky Bar, a little spot in Causeway Bay that is known for it's seafood.  Part of the Mr Steak Concept group that runs a heap of steak restaurants around Hong Kong (and one that I would later visit), The Sky Bar takes a bit of a different track and is a bar restaurant that dabbles in a little bit of every style but is mostly about the seafood. 

Getting to The Sky Bar meant traversing the city to get to Causeway Bay, which is probably one of the busiest and most densely populated parts of Hong Kong.  It's always a bit of a challenge, especially since the usual pace of people walking about is slow and very slow!  Not only is Causeway Bay one of the more densely populated spots on the planet, it's also the most expensive commercial real estate on the planet and I wondered if the Sky Bar location would factor into the pricing of the meal.

After surviving the crush, we arrived at the Sky Bar at was apparently staff change over time.  We were shown to our seats and given menus, then promptly ignored for about 15 minutes while the staff settled in for a team meeting and pep up session.  It was kind of amusing to see but also a little frustrating as we wanted to eat!


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