Monday, July 31, 2017

Blue · Butcher & Meat Specialist [Hong Kong] - Steak & Butcher House, Hardcore Style

Blue Butcher changed its name slightly these days to reflect on its nature as both a dedicated Butcher Meat House and a Steakhouse,  especially when nowadays at downstairs they opened a new counter for customers to purchase their butchered Meats and Produce for take away.  Hong Kong has recently experienced a myriad of new steakhouse openings in town,  notably Beef Bar which instantly garnered 1 Michelin Star, as well as Wolfgang's Steakhouse arriving buttery hot from NYC.  There's also the other notable competitors in town from previously Michelin 1 Starred InterContinental's The Steak House and Sheraton's Morton Steakhouse,  Grand Hyatt Steakhouse, JW Marriott's Flint Grill & Bar, Atelier Vivanda, Ruth Chris, Butcher's Club, etc,  or La Vache if you just needed casual Steak Frites.  Blue Butcher still stands out amongst them,  since they have an in house Butcher Johnny Farrell from the UK, who cuts up the carcasses and then Dry Ages the meat inside a Himalayan Pink salt room,  and as my previous interview with Fergus Henderson also here ( ), Blue Butcher follows this concept through by doing responsible hardcore Head to Tail dining, the only one of its kind in HK..

The Neon Light setting is like a Night Club than a Butcher's Meat house -

The New Counter selling their In-house Butchered and Dry Aged Meats -
It's reasonable and at around wholesale retail prices

Burrata Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes, Croutons and Kale Pesto - HKD $180
A new variation of a dish I have tried here a few times, this time it comes with kale pesto instead of basil as in a Caprese..

Rubia Gallega Smoked Beef Fat Candle, Sea Salt & Bruschetta - $135
The dish to come here for these days, reminiscent of the version served at Restaurant Story in London.  It's actually quite cowy and strong in the taste,  so you end up dipping a lot of bread into it to finish the melting candle

Crispy Veal Sweetbreads,  Chimichurri Aioli, Burnt Lemon - $220
It was either the Bone Marrow again or this,  and obviously I opted for the latter since it is rare to find these served as fried nuggets in Hong Kong!  The portion was much larger than I expected,  usually other places only serve 2 pieces or 1 larger one.

Blue Mussels, Clams, 'Nduja Sausage, Bacon, Chive Oil with Fregola Pasta - $175
A favorite on the table,  this was almost like a full on pasta dish as a Primi course.  Full of mussels and clam jus sweetness.

Irish 'John Stone' Dry Aged Grass Fed T-Bone,  22oz HKD $650
This is actually quite a bargain for Hong Kong.  They also sell the delectable 45 Days Dry Aged Rubia Gallega Steaks,  as well as other options and Australian Wagyu steaks at different price points.  I think this beef is more on the grass fed leaner, meaty side, which in theory suits Europeans than local Hong Kong customers,  who usually prefer marbled grain fed beef and melts in the mouth sensation.   

Cooked Accurate to Rare Plus -
If you have been following my posts, in Hong Kong customers order Medium-Rare,  but expect them to be still relatively pink inside.  By International Standards,  I call this Rare Plus myself.

Blue Beef Ribs, Bourbon Barbecue Glaze, Watermelon Slaw - $490
This portion was large and the taste was really awesome.  With a charred, sugary crust,  it was almost like Char Siu but made with Beef ribs, and it was spicy on the marinade surface too.  A must order and one of the best I have tried recently.  We mentioned that some people also like sister restaurant Limewood's version,  which is similar but somehow I prefer this in it's layered, penetrating marinade and external rub flavors.

Duck Confit Mac n Cheese, Slow Cooked Egg - $110
This is a lovely recipe, and on my Instagram this got way over 1,100 Likes easily.  The taste was thick gooey, and cheesy, I was saying that since they call themselves a Meat house and is considered more hardcore than most, and since they alreadyserve Duck Fat Fries and Beef Fat Candles here,  they might as well throw in some Crispy Duck Skins from the leg confit on top to finish off the project..

Inside Duck Confit Mac n Cheese ..

Triple Cooked Fries - Limited Servings Per Day $80
These were really great and fluffy, with a rough crispy edges, obviously taking lots of preparation for what are just fries and chips.  Probably one of the most memorable ones I tried in Hong Kong ever.  They were gone in no time on the table though!  A must order!

Roasted Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Lentils & Yogurt - $70
Some veggies to balance the meal.  Not your typical veggies either,  this was thoughtful

Red Velvet Cake -
It's decent enough, at least not dry.  Truth be told,  it's very hard for someone to judge a Red Velvet cake,  although Carrot Cakes are even harder,  if you know what I mean. 

Bruleed Sourdough Pain Perdu French Toast,
with White Chocolate Butter & Blueberry Jam - $110
This reminds me of a Tartine open sandwich with a custardy spread, then blow torched, not the typical doused in milk and egg version.  Very lovely and you almost want to order extra ice cream to eat with it.  Speaking of which,  they should bring back the Salted Caramel ice cream which was the best in Hong Kong all these years,  and this would therefore be the last sentence of this write up for me.. !

Price: HKD $450 to $600 for Dinner Per Person + 10%   (Meal was Dined with Maximal Concepts)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 上環蘇豪荷李活道108號108
Hollywood Road,  Sheung Wan,  Hong Kong
Ph:  2613 9286

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tenkuni 天くに [Hong Kong] - Live Eels Imported from Lake Hamanako 浜名湖, Japan

  Tenkuni 天くに is opened by a Japanese owner who frequently travels to Nagoya, one of the most famous areas for serving Fresh water Unagi Eel as a hitsumabushi dish.  In his Hong Kong based Restaurant,  they source live eels from the equally famed Lake Hamanako in Shizuoka. In Hong Kong this is also the only dedicated restaurant which serves live Japanese eels in a Kaiseki style,  along with their Tempura items.  I have previously covered this for Japanese Magazine "Concierge" to introduce this unique eel restaurant.

Live Eels from Japan, Shizuoka -
They are prepared fresh daily in the kitchen, and is the only restaurant to import these expensive and rare ingredients to sell in Hong Kong.  Per Japanese eel starts at only HKD $420, which is actually reasonable. 

Sashimi & Appetizer Course -
This is part of the Kaiseki style Set Lunch or Dinner meal, and they import jet set fresh Seafood from Japan for their Sashimi and Tempura courses.

Live Kuruma King Prawn Tempura -
These are actually prepared live from a tank too, and fried in a thin batter, in a Kansai style.

Tempura Abalone -
This was prepared quite well and tender.  There is also a bit of the abalone liver attached,  which is a preparation rarer to find.  (For Sushi or Tsumami Sashimi, the Abalone Liver is often made into a sauce..)

Double Sea Urchin & Shiso Tempura -
A Signature item here,  this uses top quality Hokkaido Bafun uni in two ways.  1 Urchin layer is sandwiched between the shiso herbs and fried,  and then it is topped with more tongues of raw urchins.  The Chef said he wanted customers to taste the urchin in both it's cooked and fresh sweet form.  Ingenious..

Live Kabayaki Grilled Eel, from Lake Hamanako, Shizuoka (Whole Eel HKD $420) -
The Eel is slaughtered and cleaned from belly up,  the only restaurant in Hong Kong to prepare this way properly in Western Japan Kansai style.  The eel itself is also not steamed in any of it's preparation,  meaning it's grilled directly over heat source until Crispy.  This style of true Kansai preparation is unique in Hong Kong,  and apparently some customers are used to the more softer steamed then grilled Kantou version.  So take note because only true Kansai style Unagi aficionado will truly enjoy this!

Kabayaki Kansai style Grilled Live Unagi...
The eel meat during early summer is not too fatty nor gelatinous yet, so it has some crisp edges.  To those used to eating Unagi the Kantou or Tokyo way, which is steamed at least once,  this could be more of the drier mouth feel side but for a reason. 

Eel Liver Kimosui Soup -
Each eel only has 1 liver,  and within the HKD $420 price this delicacy in soup is included.  If you prefer the Eel to be served on a bed of rice Unaju style,  the price increases to HKD $480 simply because both the Chef and Owner said they use the best quality Japanese rice without compromise.  Overall,  Tenkuni restaurant is one of a kind in Hong Kong.  I secretly wished that their Unagi eel can have an option of also being prepared Eastern Kantou style with a steaming process involved,  not because I prefer that, but the restaurant might need to be mindful of some customers not being used to this crispier unique version not popularly served outside of Kansai region!

Price: HKD $420 to $1200 for Full Kaiseki Dinner Meal + 10% Per Person
Food: ♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 尖沙咀加拿分道44號香檳大廈地舖
G/F, Champagne Court, 44 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph:  +852 23688842

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dong Lai Shun [Hong Kong] - Summer Eel Dishes & Regional Chinese Cuisine

  Dong Lai Shun from Beijing and Mongolia is famous for their Mutton Lamb dishes and Copper hotpots,  yet in Hong Kong this imported restaurant brand has also received a slight upgrade,  dishing up some some of the more fancier and authentic Chinese Regional dishes from up North in China. Many items on the menu are noticeably from both Beijing and Shanghai,  with occasional references to Hunan or Hangzhou cuisines as we also experienced this night as a big table.  A previous review of their more Hotpot dishes can also be found here:

椒油香烏筍 (萵筍) -
Shaved Chinese Lettuce Stems Salad with Chili Oil.  One of the special ways to make a Lettuce based Salad not based on the Leaves only, but also the stems.  Notice the delicate kniving work in the middle which are then twisted by hand.

Woodear Fungus with Vinegar -
This is a popular dish in Jiang Nan and Shanghai cuisine,  but I notice that nowadays it's sold in many regional Chinese restaurants.  A cool appetizer.

Sliced Mutton Lamb Belly with Mustard -
This was lovely.  The mutton meat were almost tender and moist,  none of the overly dry versions available in many Peking or Mongolian restaurants,  it's also neatly sliced.  The addition of a hot Mustard always baffled me as to it's origin, also it's usage in Chinese cuisine

Dragon Well Tea Smoked Duck Eggs -
One of the best in Hong Kong for many years, it's topped with some fried Conpoy shreds

Drunken Pigeon -
Another favourite here, that is sliced so elegantly.  I don't often say this but I hardly experience Poultry butchered up as neatly in many overseas cuisines,  with a few exceptions.  The Shaoxing wine fragrance was lovely here,  you almost wanted some cold rice noodles to slurp up the sauce

Duck Tongues in Braising Sauce -
An acquired taste and ingredient, obviously as someone from Hong Kong and often traveling up to China,  I was born eating this...  but it is more fanciful for some eaters than others.  I will eat it but I haven't developed a fetish love for French kissing ducks as a habit.  But if it was Ox Tongue,  different story : )

Smoked River Eel with Dragon Well Tea Leaves - 龍井煙燻河鰻
What a lovely dish, the Eel is meaty yet marbled & gelatinous, best possible Spring-Summer produce condition, external is Crispy. The marination was perfectly balanced to augment the eel's natural oil sweetness. HKD $398.  A must order when in Season,  which would be around Summer to Autumn.

Steamed Reeve Shad with Fermented Rice, Duck Ham, Mushrooms & Shaoxing Wine - 
A delicacy dish that is highly prized, here made with Duck Ham instead of Pork since this sometimes Michelin 1 Star Restaurant is Halal approved. HKD $1280.  Very good and not as bony as some other versions,  the fermented rice and wine flavour was simply exceptional and memorable.  In Japan they also use a similar method to cook, especially closer to Shiga Prefecture and Kyoto.

River Shrimps with Peas -
A Hangzhou dish popular also in Shanghai restaurants,  they are either cooked with tea leaves or in this instance in spring summer,  hand peeled peas. 

Kung Pao Eel with Fried Corns and Cashew Nuts -
A variation to the above Smoked Eel dish, this time done in a Sichuan method.

剁椒河鰻 - Hunan style Chopped Chili, Garlic & Ginger sauce with River Eel HKD $398
A Hunan eel dish this time.  We were simply doing a few Summer Eel dishes using various Chinese Regional cuisine and techniques.  Truth be told they were all amazing in their own ways, it's really hard to pick one over another.  So might as well try a few of them in comparison as an Eel lover.

Sizzling Mutton Lamb with Onions, Leeks & Mandarin Crepes - 鐵板蔥爆羊肉 (麼麼皮)
The meat taste was quite strong gamey with hint of cumin, as expected from this shop selling Mongolian-Pekingnese cuisine. Not too sweet saucy either.

Trio Colored Beijing Lamb Dumplings -
I have had these quite a few times.  The Green ones made with seasonal vegetables, such as Chinese Chives or Spinach is usually my favorite.  I find that sometimes,  the dumplings can be juicier inside than other nights though.

Toffeed Strawberries & Fresh Pineapple - 拔絲士多啤梨及新鮮菠蘿
We were so full already and decided to finish off the meal with Toffeed Seasonal Fruits,  this time its Strawberries and Pineapple.  Both worked really well indeed, with the acidity in the fruits balancing with the sugary crunch.  The sculpture like pulled sugar in the middle is also made meticulously by the dessert chef,  more for presentation!   It capped off a wonderful night and dinner with Eel as the Theme, and a few Appetizers and Lamb dishes thrown in.  I have little idea why Dong Lai Shun lost their Michelin 1 Star,  but for me personally it is always trustworthy and accurately cooked,  hence why my family loves coming here for dinner too at both Tsim Sha Tsui or Causeway Bay newer branch!

Price: HKD $300 to $600 + 10% Per Person (Eel Tasting Menu Organized by Royal Garden Hotel)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 - ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: B2, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Ph: +852 27332020

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Epure [Hong Kong] - Classic Michelin 1 Star French Fine Dining, HKD $888 Tasting Menu

  EPURE French Dining in Hong Kong is run side by side with Dalloyau from Paris,  the inventor of the traditional Chocolate and Dacquoise layered Opera cakes.  Over here at the Fine Dining Restaurant,  they have received a Michelin 1 Star status in the 2017 Guide,  and although I have visited here for a previous Cheese x Wine Session and posted on Instagram,  it was actually my 1st time dining here as a guest of the Restaurant,  especially when they have some Signature and newer Seasonal dishes,  also introducing their new Head Sommelier Sebastien Allano who arrives in from Hotel Paris George V and Caprice HK.  Executive Chef Nicolas Boutin heads the kitchen here,  and there are tell tale signs from the upgrading of the menus and the recruitment of a talented and experienced Sommelier here that they might be aiming for their second star.

Wines prepared by Head Sommelier Sebastien Allano,
previously from Caprice Four Season Hotel,  and Hotel Paris George V

Canapes -
Petit Pois Peas & Avocado Tart,  Squid Ink Rice Crackers, and Cream Cheese & Radish Tartlets..

Bread Basket -
With Bordier Butters.  The Cheese Pastry was lovely,  so were the Baguettes and Bread in general. Check.

Amuse Bouche -
Charred Corn and Cold Corn Soup,  with Foie Gras Terrine & Coconut Lime Foam

Faisselle Cheese, House Smoked Salmon with Lemon & Vodka Jelly, and Lemon Bread -
The Signature Starter here,  and felt almost as Russian as French.  A cool starter that carried an acidic kick in the cream and jelly,  rather than cured within the quite smoky Salmon itself.   I like them flavors well layered this way..

Seared Duck Foie Gras with Shaved & Marinated Pear, Caramel & Duck Jus -
A strongish gamey foie piece.  The Caramelized sauce was the highlight,  and quite fragrant and even rich.  But the pear countered this to make it less heavy in summer

Close up of Duck Foie Gras with Pear -

White Button Mushroom Soup,  Baby Spinach Gnocchi -
A creamy mushrooms starter soup,  it surprisingly uses button mushrooms rather than say exotic cepe porcini or truffles. 

Noisette Brown Butter Lobster, French Wild Asparagus,
Salad Leaves with Pomegranate, Ginger & Lime -The ginger & lime were quite French Summeresque,  and with the additional of the pomegranate seeds made this lobster dish more appetizing than the browned butter suggested.  It felt almost like a lobster salad!

Wild French Asparagus -
When in season.  The stems are a lot less thinner in girth than farmed asparagus,  and the tips are sweet without the often greenish bitterness.

ÉPURE Signature Vol au Vent 'Marie-Antoine Carême' style. With French Coast Fish, Lobster, Salicornia & Liquorice scented Coulis -
Another Signature item here.  I have been eating Vol au Vent for upwards of 35 years,  but this is probably the biggest and flakiest I have eaten before!  I think this pleased a lot of ladies who tried it, from what I heard..

Wagyu A3 'Persille', Ravigote Jus, Grenaille Potatoes & Swiss Chard - ($198 Supplement)
The Wagyu Marbled Cap looked evenly marbled,  and was served like a Roasted Beef with external searing.  I only tried a small piece of this from my friend's plate,  it reminded me Kyushu Japanese Wagyu with that balance of meatiness vs melting wagyu fat taste.

Freshly Baked Mille-Feuille with Lime Zest Chantilly Cream, Strawberries & Sorbet -The Dessert that is ordered by everyone here.  The tall flaky pastry differs slightly from the more flatter mille-feuille we see as pastry dessert in some pastry shops or restaurants.  Apparently this is their Signature style here,  and the styling reminds one of also the Vol au Vent dish.  Lately in Hong Kong,  this type of Mille-Feuille proves popular, with similar versions served at Belon,  Bueno Aires Polo Club!  Mille-Feuille Purists will always find their own preferred pastry versions..

Grand Marnier Souffle with Mango Sorbet -
Climbing up the ramekin beautifully.  The texture was perfect and there were even slightly crunchy sugary granules in some bites,  the orange grand marnier liquor input is subtler than I expected however.  The Mango Sorbet was tart.

Petits Fours of Earl Grey Macaron -
Salted Caramel Sponge & Chocolate Sphere Tartlets.  With Dalloyau being famous for their Afternoon Teas and Opera cakes,  also Chocolates or Grapefruit juices, this was expectedly good and tasted like they came out from a Pastry shop altogether!   Would not mind having these all the time as afternoon tea dessert bites..

Cheese Cellar -
I have tried the Cheese selections here before,  but this time around we were a little too full.  The Signature Tasting Menu we had starts from only HKD $888 for 4 Courses,  which is actually a great deal for a Michelin Star quality Dinner meal considering this gets you all the Amuse Bouche, Canapes,  Bread and Petits Fours with a Tea or Coffee included.  I also noticed that the Seasonal Tasting Menu carries further elaborated dishes by Chef Nicolas Boutin's, which are even more exploratory than the Signature Menu.  I believe they might be aiming to capture their two stars status, so it might be work in development.

Price: HKD $888 Per Person + Wines  (Dinner Tasting Menu Organized by Epure Restaurant)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: 尖沙咀廣東道5號海港城海洋中心4樓403號舖Shop 403, 4/F, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, 5 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 31858338


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