Sunday, 29 May 2016

Missy Ho's - Funky in Kennedy Town

It's interesting where the night takes you!

My original plan for Friday night was to hang with the girl and some mates at a Japanese restaurant in Wanchai, but a bout of food poisoning put paid to those plans (fortunately, not my food poisoning this time!)

The change in plans enabled me to join in with an after work drinks for a colleague who was moving back to the UK after many years in Hong Kong.  It was a sad and joyous occasion saying goodbye and I guess it's pretty normal in a transient town like Honkers.  People come and people go.

It also left me open for dinner, which ended up being a train ride away in a burgeoning dining hub, Kennedy Town.

I'd heard nothing about Missy Ho's, apart from the fact they did two sittings and we'd only been able to book in for the 9pm session - a bit late for this little foodie's dining tastes, but I'd been assured by the group that I was in for a treat.

A short walk from the Kennedy Town MTR, we came across a plain looking building that could have been anything at all but was striking due to it's outrageous poster of that dude from the Hangover movies.  It was first sign that we were about to enter the bizarre night, I mean, you can't take a place too seriously when there is an invitation to 'Have a sick night bitches' - right?

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse Wanchai - the steaks were a little bland

As an Aussie living in a foreign city, there is a natural propensity to gravitate to what you know, to what is familiar and what make you comfortable.  I'm sure that's true of most expats living in a place like Hong Kong, you only have to wander past a 'British Pub' to see plenty of pasty white guys spilling onto the sidewalk, beers in hand, taking about the latest premier league game (football for the uninitiated).

Anyway, this post isn't about pasty white guys in pubs, it's about an Aussie in Honkers finally getting around to visiting an Aussie steakhouse.

Wooloomooloo is one of Sydney's most iconic inner city suburbs, the home of the rich and famous and just happens to be the name of a chain of steakhouses here in Hong Kong.

With a number of outlets across HK, Wooloomooloo caters to a range of diners, from their very cheap and cheerful Chop House (see post here), all the way to their fine dining establishment Wooloomooloo Prime.  Our visit was to their mid range steakhouse, conveniently located just down the street from our new place in Wanchai.

Located on the 31st floor of the Hennessy, the Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at Wanchai has pretty much unrivalled views of Hong Kong.  Exiting the lift and making our way to our table reconfirmed our view that we were living in one of the most spectacular cities on earth and our table had a jaw dropping vista of the many skyscrapers that make up Wanchai and Causeway Bay.  Floor to ceiling windows helped provide a sense of space in the modern looking dining room that screamed Aussie Steakhouse.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Burger Joys - great burgers but a little too cheesy?

I'm always on the lookout for a new burger joint and moving to Wanchai has certainly opened up a few more options.

I'd been noticing posters all over the place advertising a place called Burger Joys, so set about tracking it down for a spot of lunch.

Wanchai is an interesting location, it's got a wide variety of dining options that range from three Michelin Starred fine dining restaurants, hip and happening 'now' spots, as well as down and dirty grungy bar cum restaurants.  

We'd moved away from the glamorous end of Wanchai to the much seedier side, where the nightlife runs from seedy bars to strip clubs.  Burger Joys finds itself right in the middle of the Wanchai red light district, which is pretty benign during the day and pretty darn racy in the evening.

I was pretty surprised by how small Burger Joys actually was, expecting something a little bigger than the 'almost' hole in the wall diner on Lockhart Road.  Small as it was, there was still room for a half dozen or so tables to be crammed around the serving area, which looked very much as if it doubled as a bar once the sun went down.  We'd arrived for a Saturday lunch and the place was pretty empty, so we had no trouble finding a table which surprisingly was managed by table service.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Zafran - Spanish Cooking Master Class

Those of you who know me would be familiar with my foodie adventures and be well aware that I'm not a great cook.  My Instagram feed is full of restaurant meals and the very, very rare photo of a home cooked meal.

So when I get the opportunity to participate in master classes and learn something new in a kitchen, I jump at the chance.  Chope Hong Kong had partnered with the Aqua Restaurant group and Zafran Spanish restaurant to have new Chef Pere run a small group of bloggers through his famous "Black Paella".  Interestingly, the last time I'd had a masterclass, it was at Mondo Organics in Brisbane and a Spanish feast fit for a king (see post here).  

Seemingly, I am destined to improve my Spanish cuisine repertoire, which is certainly ironic living in the heart of Hong Kong.

I'd always thought that Zafran was a nightclub in the few times I wandered down Wyndham Street, but was surprised to find a funky looking basement restaurant as I descended the stairs to the Masterclass.  We were met by Zafran's new chef, hot off the boat from his native Barcelona, who seemed a little nervous to be fronted by so many food bloggers and cameras.

Mak Mak - secret entrance to Thai heaven

I had no idea!  Seriously.

Every morning, I'd been walking through the Landmark on the way to work and had passed Mak Mak thinking that the funky looking little spot was a blend of Thai grocery store and a cafe doing 'take away' coffee in the morning.  On first appearances, Mak Mak is exactly that; a small kiosk like area that served take away drinks.

And it is that, and so much more.

My first experience that there could be so much more to the retro looking replica of a traditional Thai grocery shopfront was having a quick bite to eat with a work colleague.  We had a short window in between meetings, and she suggested a quick bite to eat in a great little Thai restaurant that she knew, right next to our workplace.  Everyone loves good Thai, right?  

As JP took me to the front of Mak Mak, I thought to myself, where the heck are we going to eat lunch?

All was revealed when a secret button was pressed and a wall slowly recessed into the wall and the true nature of Mak Mak was revealed!  Hidden behind the grocery facade was a sixty seat 'Thai residence-style' dining area and it literally blew my mind!

That first experience in the newest restaurant in the prodigious JAI group string of restaurants was enough to get me talking, and it wasn't long before I'd arranged for a visit with the girl.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Tosca - insanely good Italian

Amazing food and service that is so outstanding that you can't wait for your return visit should be the aim of every restaurant, but is delivered by so few.

I'd arranged for a working lunch with a colleague and after a last minute change, found myself sitting on the 101st floor at the Ritz-Carlton's Tosca.  Of course I'd heard about the Michelin Starred restaurant, but until that moment, it had been some way down my list of 'must-visit' dining spaces.

In hindsight, that had been a huge mistake on my behalf!

I was a little early for my reservation, but from the moment I stepped out of the lift at the Ritz-Carlton to the moment my dining companion arrived, I was treated like royalty.  My table was close enough to the floor to ceiling windows of Hong Kong's tallest building to truly appreciate the magnificence of the view.  It wasn't too shabby inside either, with the very modern dining room, centred around an open kitchen, drawing my eye away from the HK skyline!  

No easy feat considering the view.

While I was waiting, sipping on my still water from a cut crystal glass, I was able to watch the kitchen preparing for lunch, led by acclaimed Chef Pino Lavarra.  That Chef Pino has found himself leading the Michelin Starred Tosca in one of the most recognisable and distinctive restaurant brands in the world is no accident.  A prodigious talent, Chef Pino has been recognised as "One of the Best Chefs in the World" by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, as well as running Two Michelin Starred Rossellinis.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Fishsteria - hip and happening fish joint

The district of Wanchai has been abuzz lately with the opening of a restaurant that's been causing quite a bit of good vibes.

Fishsteria is the latest restaurant from Executive Chef Gianni Caprioli, a name you might recognise from critically-acclaimed and FoodMeUpScotty recommended restaurant, Giando (see post here), as well as GIA and

Opened in September 2015, Fishsteria quickly acquired a loyal fan base and became everyone's favourite fish restaurant.  Conveniently located on Queens Road East, I'd walked past Fishsteria dozens of times where I'd peered through the front door and looked at the menu board; pondering going in for a meal.

We finally stopped pondering and made a decision to go one Friday night after work, making our way into the hip and happening joint.  We'd not made a reservation and were really there on a speculative visit and thankfully we were't turned away and were advised a table would be free shortly.  It gave us a moment to sit and soak up the vibe of the downstairs bar area.  

Vibrant painting adorned the walls and I couldn't help thinking that some of the works would look fabulous on our apartment walls.  Interestingly, the seat that we were waiting on was a faithful cement replica of a comfy looking couch.  There was a moment where we didn't quite believe our eyes, but the couch was indeed rock hard while at the same time looking inviting and soft.  Funky music played through the sound system, and I immediately felt like Fishsteria was my kind of place.


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