Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Schmidt Vinothek - (Hong Kong)

 Schmidt Vinothek is essentially Germanistic in nature,  as their affiliated companies in Hong Kong are originally importers of German electronic goods into the Asia-Pacific region.   The fairly newly opened Schmidt Vinothek shop focuses predominantly on the better wines from Germany and also those from surrounding Austria and Switzerland regions.   To me personally the Hong Kong wine market has be overly saturated with similar styles of wines day-in and day-out,  that are almost too customer driven by demand.   The difference between those shops and here is that Schmidt Vinothek is importing a more comprehensive range and much rarer wines from this specific wine region.   You could call it a niche market.   To me it’s like ending a long drought,  as wine lovers shall all rejoice as we will be on the better receiving end of more and more regional wine offerings that previously just didn’t really catch on locally. 



German and Austrian Wine tasting tonight -
At their Quarry Bay shop.   They also have a good selection of Switzerland wines on the shelves but we didn’t get to try those tonight.



Some Breads and Cheeses -
I didn’t touch the cheese initially as it does taint your senses,  although I was so starving by that point like a mouse deprived!    The bread,  I only started eating with the bolder Red Wines in case the yeastiness also wreaks havoc on the senses.


Vinothek – similar to Enoteca in Italian meaning
It means a quality Wine Shop.   Here it certainly gave off the same vibe and environmental design..


2009 Schloss Proschwitz,  Riesling Sekt Brut,  Sachsen,  Germany  -  HKD $385
A dry Riesling sparkling wine,  initially this was crispy Green apple and also Grapey,  with a distinct Grapefruit rind in the background.   A balanced limestone minerality surfaced later..   Finished off just like a Champagne undergoing 2nd Fermentation and with 18 months yeast exposure.   Apparently this had a bready-brioche note but I couldn’t detect it,  though it was quite refreshing. 


2009 Stigler,  Riesling Trocken F36,  Ihringen Winklerberg, 
“Grosses Gewachs”,   VDP Baden,  Germany – $510

The GG status means this is a grand wine by definition and all hand-picked,  under the German Government VDP system.   It was said that this was picked by the Royal Princess to be her favourite wine of the year.   Initially dry and lemon rind dominated and with new oak,  when this opened up at the right temperature,  it had a sweet green melon aroma and a hint of banana and stewed pineapple and a stony volcanic minerality.  This was a very interesting wine because it was quite ripe Melon on the nose,   had the mildest petroleum note with liquid paper which disappears before it’s manifested,   but once in the mouth  it was quite lemon acidic again.   Talk about a big contrast.  Very lovely wine and quite a few people’s PICK OF THE NIGHT.  




2010 Skoff Original,  Sauvignon Blanc “Royal”,  Sudsteiermark, Austria – $500
Initially on the nose  this was totally Chestnut-paste like and although some agreed with my detection,  but guess what WSET doesn’t really have this term as a description especially for a Sauvignon,
  which is why I like the Coffee World better as it’s also systematic but less restrictive with descriptive terms,  as long as it is true.   There was also a presence of slightly toasty French oak and what I called fake woody American-Vanilla (unlike true Vanilla beans),  and mild tropical fruits.   This was quite balanced and enjoyable but the above ‘Princess-selected’ wine stole the show with it’s complexity as it opened up.. 


2011 Meyer-Nakel,  Spatburgunder “S” Trocken,  VDP Ahr,  Germany – $650
Burgunder almost sounds like Burgundy and yes it is a Pinot Noir grape but made in Germany in Ahr,  a South facing-slope in the North.   This to me was more fruit driven with black berries,  cherry and black currant,  but with a lovable Foresty note with some Black ashy slate and Spice.   Red Pepper arrived later and somehow it developed into pickled umeboshi.   Quite likable..

2009 J.Heinrich,  Terra O. Trocken,  Mittelburgenland,  Austria – $580
Local Blaufrankisch grapes blended with Cab Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah,  this was decanted for 2 hours prior to serving.  Black fruits and Violet,  hint of Truffle and slightly Minty-Peppery,  this tasted like it was grown in warmer climate and also Super-Tuscany like in style with the blending.   An interesting offering from Austria and a crowd pleaser!    Good value for money too..

1989 Domdechant Werner,  Riesling “Trockenbeerenauslese“,  Hochheimer, 
VDP Rheingau,  Germany – $3,900
Hand-picked Botrytis-rot Riesling grapes,  the TBAs are highly sought after in the Wine Auction world.   The amount of acidity within makes them age very well and this 1989 vintage was still so fresh,  but the residual sugar is also high and it’s rich and minerally,  with an initial whiff of Chrysanthemum tea,  followed by a mouth feel of Marmalade and dried Sultanas flavour.  Very amazing wine and the trocken term is kind of confusing as it usually means drier wines,  but in this case it means dried berries.


They also offer Ice-Wine made from Merlot here -
This is very limited as Merlot aren’t too resistant to cold frosts,  but at the same time an Ice-Wine requires it to be suddenly frozen up in the middle of the morning to be picked -  it really depends on the call of nature really?   Hence this isn’t made every year.  For the last decades,  the average harvest is only around 2-3 vintages for every single decade.   This isn’t normally exported but the wine buyers from Schmidt Vinothek convinced the Wine Maker to give them some of these rarer to find items.  



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVery Interesting Wine Shop and Cellar -
One can gain a wealth of knowledge just coming past here and tasting some wines, and buying some bottles home to know that German wines aren’t always about Sweet Wines…  Particularly when some of the best Grand Cru wines coming from the region are of the Drier Style these days.  Not to mention also the other Austrian and Swiss local regional wines being offered here.   Welcome to Hong Kong,  Schmidt Vinothek!   Show us some real International wines finally…




Price:   As Mentioned Above by bottles.  Call up for their Wine Tasting sessions before your purchase.
Ease of Access:  4/5

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sat -  11:00am to 20:00pm
Sun - 11:00am - 18:00pm

Address:  鰂魚涌海灣街濱海大廈地下A1號舖
Shop A1, Ground Floor, Riviera Mansion
2A Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
Ph: (852) 2327 9818

Sunday, October 27, 2013

MASU 枡 - (Hong Kong)

 MASU is one of the most unique Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong,  since it is owned by the PRIVE Group – which owns some of the best night clubs in town including PRIVE and LEVELS.   Not only that but MASU is located right beneath the building where many Lan Kwai Fong regulars will consider as the hottest Night clubs building in HK.    On this revisit,   they invited us over to have a preview tasting of their  $680 for 6 Sakes x 9 Courses Pairing  dinner course.   This was meant to be a once-off event on the 24th of October but given such short notice,  the restaurant will try to extend this offer until November 2013 sometime.   Apparently the reason they couldn’t offer this Sake deal continuously in the long term is purely because some of the Sakes being served this week were quite limited in availability.  Watch out for their updated news on the Prive Group Facebook page if you are to catch this deal again soon:



Currently,  they have an All-You-Can-Eat US Beef and Japanese Crabs Shabu Shabu for $530 -
I would so love to try this too,  but tonight was more about sakes and meal pairing. 
Reason to come back during Winter soon!



Chefs and Counter Seki -
Hard to fathom that this is found under the hottest Night clubs in town in Lan Kwai Fong,  Central.   The above night clubs at PLAY and LEVELS are exceptional venues and my top picks in town.




Course 1:   Raw Masumi Nama-Sake with 3 Appetizers.
The sake is unpasteurized and served freshly-chilled.  
It comes with Jelly fish,  Crab meat with salmon roes,  also some Burdock and takuan pickles.    ~  7/10



Crab meat and Salmon Ikura roes -




Course No. 2 -  a Hiya-Oroshi Junmaiginjo sake,
with Sashimi of Hamachi,   Scallops & Ikura,  and Red Tuna
The pairing was interesting as the sake was quite fruity and slightly spicy,  and this Cold sake hiyaoroshi is an Autumn’s only drink,  which probably worked well with the wasabi we judiciously placed onto each individual sashimi piece!    ~  7.5/10




I liked the very sweet Hokkaido Scallops the best -
The tuna was also good but the scallops had no funny tastes and hence why I like them so much.
Pure fresh sweetness today.   On the other hand,  I think the Tuna can be sliced thicker to be closer to tradition.





Course No. 3  -  Yoshidai Junmai Daiginjo
with Sushi of Toro,  Seared Salmon and Hamachi,  & Signature MASU Roll
  The sake was sweet but had a strong rice flavour,  I can so see why this was used as a pairing with the sushi.   The Tuna toro quality was pretty decent and had a good tuna meat taste & oily balanced point.   The seared salmon meanwhile was fatty but could be more seared to release more oil and aroma  ~  7/10



The Masu Roll has Minced Toro,  Ikura and Sea Urchin -
This combination is naturally adorable and traditional.   I was told that the Chef is adept at making slightly modernized Japanese food and sometimes with a Western twist if it’s needed.   This was only the beginning..  We will see if that promised bit eventuates one day.





Course No. 4 – Hamaguri Clams Soup
With a good amount of clams and mushrooms and subtly herbed. 
This was sweet and actually I think it needed more salt as it was too clam-juice sweet and may be it could do with some yuzu zest as encountered elsewhere?  A bit of Mitsuba herb will also help elevate this into another level I believe   ~  6.9/10



Course No. 5 - Tedorigawa Yamahai Daiginjo sake,
with Sukiyaki Beef and Tofu
Not an expert on sake but the Yamahai process definitely resulted in a more robust pronounced flavour and a drier style
which worked well with the mirin and soy based sauce and beef.   I liked how this dish came with some grilled tofu and spinach parcels.  I don’t mind more beef though either and I did say the same on the spot..    ~  7/10


Course No. 6 – Rihaku Taruzake
with Grilled Kagoshima Pork belly & Minced Chicken and Asparagus
Back to more familiar territory,  1st of all the cedar-aged Sake was slightly smoky yet more on the sweetish side.   When served in the wooden masu box which this restaurant is named after,  the woodiness went through the roof.   It definitely is a no-brainer pairing with chargrilled items.   The Kagoshima pork was the highlight as it had that strong Kurobuta pork taste.  The minced chicken balls in the meanwhile were a bit too soft and under-caramelized to me.      ~   9/10  &  5/10




Course No. 7 – Assorted Tempura with Dassai Sparkling Junmai Daiginjo sake -
The tempura items had a crisp light batter,  the highlight was the kisu whiting tempura for me.  If you look carefully,  they chose to also fried some green vegetables and some purple eggplants for contrast of colors and taste,  this is the correct Japanese spirit.   The sparkling sake was sweetish to me but it worked almost like pairing Fish and Chips with an Ale rather than a Lager,  just because it could.  ~  7/10



Course No. 8 – Cold Udons
This was done pretty accurately and actually it’s quite traditional.
I heard that MASU will be changing from this traditional approach and evolving into something more experimental,  let’s hope it all works in the end..  I reserve my final judgment of that   ~  8/10




Ending Course No.9 -  Peach Sorbet
A little bit icy and although very peachy fragrant at the beginning,  was a little sweet in the finish.    But nicely refreshing.   ~  6.9/10    Note that this full Sake Tasting Menu has been extended but is subject to the restaurant’s availability.  Also I just discovered that during Fri-Sat,  MASU is open until early 3am  for supper.    Good new for the regular Clubbers yay!





Price:   $680 + 10%  (Meal was by Invitation as preview Tasting)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2
Ease of Access:  4/5

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thurs -  11:00am to 15:00pm,  18:00pm to 23:00pm
Fri to Sat - 11:00am to 15:00pm,  18:00pm to 03:00am

Address:  中環安慶臺1號安慶大廈地下A舖
UG/F On Hing Building, 1 On Hing Terrace, Central
Ph:  2537 7787

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mekiki no Ginji 目利きの銀次 - (Hong Kong)

  Another new Japanese import from Okinawa,  in Hong Kong this outlet is run by the JC Group which already operates Inakaya 田舍家 and Kaika かいか,  both of which also have original shops in Japan  much like here and somehow I once again never got to reviewing them due to falling behind...    Initially expecting this to be Okinawan styled food,  such as the like of trusty Rakuen 楽宴 shops from Okinawa,  it turned out Mekiki no Ginji does modern Izakaya style food with only a small emphasis on the Okinawa regional part and no sea grapes or spam dishes here either.   This is a summary of my two self-paid visits to here and I can so see their potential. 



They use real Charcoal here for Grilling -
This is fairly rare in Hong Kong due to strict Fire Regulations..
The room can get very smoky at times though..  wear appropriate clothes and on my 1st visit I ended up having teary eyes.   But this is SO Japanese if you have been to Izakayas in Osaka..  




Iced Tea -
Compared to my iPhone 4S,  this tea was rather humongous.



500ml Okinawa ORION Draught Beer – $78
Not cheap but it is one of the rare shops to offer the draught beer version of this in HK.




Fresh Daily Fish Counter -
Mekiki no Ginji is not a sushi bar,  but one appreciates that they have set up such a pretty Daily Seafood counter.   On my 2nd visit,  it had more Shellfishes on display but during this 1st visit it was more about seasonal fishes.




Autumn Pacific Saury - さんまの刺身 $220
We were saying that this was decently priced initially,  but when this arrived it was more on the smallish size compared to the norm.   *I personally think this year’s Autumn Sanma’s to be smaller than usual for this time of the year,  may be due to global warming.   To me at least,  this was very fresh though not big or fatty.   ~  7/10



Mentaiko Pollock Roe in Egg Roll with Daikon Oroshi  明太子厚焼き玉子 – $58
I was very happy with this version,  because most Mentaiko or Tarago versions in HK taste like a placebo effect and not really present.  Not here,  where the Mentaiko roes were big,  crunchy, tasty,  spicy,  fishy all at once.  The eggs taste is not amazing but it’s runniness was maintained.  Best version in HK by a large margin.  Feel free to quote me for this !!   ~  9/10





Four Fried Oysters with Torched Sea Urchin Sauce -  牡蠣とほうれん草ウニソース焼き $68
Easily the highlight of the meal.  The execution and taste was sublime,  and even the wilted spinach under it helped to balance the whole dish.  Super addictive and one of the best new dishes I have encountered in HK recently.   ~  12/10




6 Pieces Charcoal Grilled Kushiyaki - 炭火焼串六点盛り合わ $98
Such good value and all smoky!  Unfortunately it was all a bit too moist and doused in a wet sauce to our liking,  as this is not very traditional in style.    Minced Chicken Tsukune,  Bacon Wrapped Tomato,  Chicken Wings,  Chicken Nankotsu soft-bones,  Pork and Chicken.   I liked the side cabbage salad actually,  but there is no denying that this is great value for money.  ~  6.9/10




Grilled Beef Tongue – $58
Tender,  Oily,  good beefy taste.  Except this was once again a little wet.  I liked it more than the above grilled platter and this was again good proportions for the $58!   Elsewhere it will be like 50% more.   ~  7.5/10



Mentaiko Roe Onigiri - 明太子炭火バター焼きおにぎり $68
The rice ball was crisp on the outside and moist inside,  but wished there’s more rice taste such as that serve at Gomitori 五味鳥. This made up with the spicily strong Mentaiko roes taste again and some butter.   Very addictive but on the same night,  trumped by the above Mentaiko egg-roll’s performance.   ~  8/10



Wild Duck with Inaniwa Udon and Dipping Soup  -  鴨のつけうどん $78
Inaniwa noodles here were in fact cooked more spot-on than the also newly opened Inaniwa dedicated shop Inaniwa Yoske 稲庭養助.  The duck broth was most concentrated too but to me needed more Japanese burnt leek to be correct.   Came with some pickled Takana which is more South-West Japanese accent.  The charcoal-y duck breast pieces looked good but were a bit tough personally.  Eggs were another highlight.   Decent.  ~  7/10



Dipping Broth & Charcoal grilled Duck -
Really in need of some burnt Japanese leeks for extra dimension..


Grilled Pork Soft Bones with Wasabi Ko powder - 豚ソーキの炭火山葵焼き $48
This was much softer than anticipated.  I liked the sauce but it was quite moist again and there wasn’t much wasabi input.   I liked it on it’s own,  but looking back at the recipe it could be even better.   ~  6.9/10


Orion Beer by the bottler 500ml – $78
They serve this as both draught beer and as a bottle.  I just wanted to order both to test out the difference.   This time around,  the draught version wins slightly definitely..



Tuna Maki Fishermen’s Style - 毫快ごばれ鉄火巻き $78
The menu said $78 but when I received the check,  it said $98 for some reason when going over my bill again.  The tuna was not the best quality of it’s kind but for an Izakaya,  this was ok acceptable though sterile.   At least the wasabi was properly grated stuff and not the canned powdery version.   Still baffled in the meanwhile as to why I got over-charged with this dish but at the end of the day -  most of the dishes here were price decently and cooked better than most shops..   ~  6.5/10





Price:   $300 Per Person Self Paid
Food:   ♕♕♕♕  to  ♕♕♕♕♕
Ease of Access:  4/5

Opening Hours:
Sun to Thurs -  12:00pm to 14:30pm,  18:30pm to 22:30pm
Fri to Sat - 12:00pm to 14:30pm,  18:00pm to 23:00pm

Address:  P502, World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Ph:  +852 2895 0885

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wagyu Pure 純和牛燒肉 - (Hong Kong)

 Wagyu Pure is an overseas franchise of  JA 全農 Group’s  ピュア 焼肉 in Japan  -  which the Japanese name translates into the same English meaning.    The Hong Kong shop is operated by a  Japanese Credit Card Company group,  and although having been opened for less than a year,   has already lined itself up to become the hottest destination for Yakiniku lovers alike.    Currently Wagyu Pure seems predominantly restricted to non-English foodies,   since this shop is fairly Japanese-Chinese orientated in communication and not many English media has covered it in fine details.     Such is the disparity in Hong Kong when it comes to food and when Yardbird and Ronin seem to be the hottest Japanese places in the English circle lol,  may be throw in Sushi Kuu.    Back to topic,  many of our previously highly-regarded Yakiniku houses in Hong Kong were kind of over-priced vs quality especially in relation to Japan’s yakiniku houses   -  it’s not good to pick on places like Iroha 伊呂波 or Wa-En 和宴,  and late comers such as 燒肉の牛太・本陣 Honjin either, which are all Japanese run as well.   Yet out came this little Japanese import in HK to rattle their cages,   out shining them by serving better quality wagyu beef,   more authentic tasting sauces and the price remains roughly the same.   For the family members or the dining partner who holds the purse strings,   Wagyu Pure instantly became a no-brainer option as it performs better at no extra cost!



Pure - 純 -  ピュア
All 3 means the same thing.




Stewed Beef Tongue -  Entrée
Part of the appetizers. 
Pretty decent.



Salad -
Thinly shaved onion with a garlicky-onion sauce,  and some greens, peppers and cabbage. 
A typical run of the mill side salad but the minor details are so Japanese orientated.



Lunch Platter for 2 - 純特上ランチ会席 2人様  $350
Premium Japanese Wagyu Karubi Beef from Kagoshima,  Prawns,  Scallops,  Squid,  Japanese Pork Belly,  Veggies.   And all the appetizers,  rice and soups included.   This is fantastic value for lunch and feeds 2 people for only $350.   The quality of the ingredients were pretty good and no short cuts were taken.   ~  8.5/10




Wagyu Beef Hamburg Set - 和牛ハンバーグ定食 $125
With a cheesy topping and tomato sauce,  this was actually very good in flavour and fluffy texture.  Also includes the rice and salads and soup,  again pretty good value for lunch.   ~  8.5/10





Karubi Set - カルビ定食  $130
Pretty marbled.  I was surprised that most people on the table liked the similar karubi meat from above platter more than this,  I guess this version carried more fatty ratio and less meatiness concentration  (Karubi usually means Short-ribs meat as per Korean Galbi tradition,  but in Japan yakiniku terms,  karubi often includes sub-prime grade marbled cuts from belly to chuck, etc).   I personally liked this enough and at $130 was fantastic value again.   ~  7.5/10



Harami Set - ハラミ定食 $110
A cut more known for their bloody red color and vitamins,  this was yet another bargain.   Harami in English definition explains it to be just meat around the diaphragm,  although in Japanese it could meant both Skirt Steak or the more livery さがり Hanging tender.   This was pretty meaty and everyone enjoyed it,  although Harami in Japan can be even more rougher and gamier in taste.   ~  7.5/10





Japanese Grill Chicken Set – $95
This was also decently priced.   Hong Kong locals I can predict will think this is not as great value vs the Japanese beef sets above,  but in fact we all really liked the marination of this.   It had a sweetish miso type of balanced marination and the chicken had a good chicken taste.   If you don’t eat beef then this is your best option,  otherwise it is still great as a side add-on to share.  So yummy.    ~  8/10




Japanese Pork Bowl Set – $95
This was made very well and the pork had good sweetness taste.   On the other hand this worked out to be slightly too pricy,  when compared to the above options.  $95 is perhaps not much,  but I can’t help but think of what I could have gotten above as an alternative…   ~  8/10




Tofu Ice Cream -
This was very strong in tofu taste,  it shocked me initially with it’s potency but I began to really like it,  at least they took the effort to make it so hardcore soy-bean like.   Encore.  ~  9/10





Price:   $95  to $175 Per Person for Lunch  (Meal was via Media Invitation)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ 1/2  to  ♕♕♕♕♕
Ease of Access:  4/5

Opening Hours: 
Mon to Sun  12:00pm to 15:00pm,   18:00pm to 22:30pm

Address:  銅鑼灣恩平道42號亨利中心15樓
15th Floor Henry House, 42 Yun Ping Road, Causeway Bay,  Kong Kong
Ph:  28070103


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...