Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Origin of Yeeshang & Lo Hei, 八月芳 Xi Yue - (Hong Kong)

 The Jasmine 八月 series of restaurants in Hong Kong are operated by the Maxim’s Group.   They focus on a slightly more upper-end of Cantonese cuisine but offered at a more reachable price point to the uber hotel and Michelin graded restaurants.   Having been to most of their outlets a number of times,  I think they aimed correctly at the niche market in-between thus far -  if you want decent HK and Cantonese food without breaking the bank,  come to the Jasmine series of restaurants definitely.   To me this Jasmine series hits all the right spots for what you would expect to eat even as a food snob.    An average dining meal will cost around $250 HKD or USD 30 including 8-10 courses,  what’s not to like about it and  it sets the perfect balance between quality vs money.   Classified under my Bang for Money category.


三文魚撈起 - Salmon 'Lo Hei'
Originating from 九江 in the Canton region of Fo Shan 佛山,  this dish was originally made from Fresh Water Carp fish.  Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese re-interpreted the dish by adopting raw Salmon instead from the Japanese and helped to put it onto the global map.  The version here is mixed with lime juice and many different julienned vegetables.   Quite a sight indeed as Fo Shan is much close to Hong Kong,  but we don’t eat that version here as I think customers are a bit weary of serving fresh water fish raw.    ~   8/10




醬燒琵琶金豬 - Roasted Suckling Pig with Sauce
This had a heavier sauce coating than usual. It was crispy but a little fatty though. ~6.9/10




油泡鮮蝦仁 - Sauteed Prawns and Green Vegetables
Fresh crunchy prawns.   Nothing to complain about. ~ 7/10



Goose Webs with Moss & Geoduck -
A typical Cantonese dish.   This was done correctly.  ~  8/10




蟹黃雞茸燕窩 - Crab Roe, Chicken Mince and Swallow Nest
A lovely soup with Crab Roe, this was very natural tasting and had the right consistency.  Not something you take for granted these days   ~ 8/10




清蒸沙巴龍躉 - Steamed Giant Grouper from Sabah Malaysia
Quite marbled inside, this was huge and the timing of the steaming was spot on.   I personally wouldn’t mind if the base soy sauce was more aromatic and sophisticated,  but the fish itself was definitely high quality ~ 8/10




Mushrooms and Pea Sprouts -
This seems to be a Maxim’s Group veggies dish across the board.  It’s ok.  ~  6.9/10




一品脆燒雞 - Fried Crispy Chicken
Not as great as the one I recently ate in their Sister restaurant 八月軒 Jasmine Garden, which over there was slightly more crystaline crispy. But over here the chicken taste was the same and quite moist. ~ 7/10




錦繡糯米飯 - Fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese Sausages and Eggs
The rice could have been more stickier... but the cured meats were decent. Overall, acceptable quality for a mid-range tier restaurant. ~ 7/10




湯圓南瓜露 - Tang Yuan Dumplings in Pumpkin Sweet Soup
This was super yummy as the pumpkin soup base was naturally sweet without added sugar, the Tang Yuan dumplings with sesame filling were cooked spot on and heavy in black sesame influence. ~ 9/10




Also Congratulations to Brian Cha for his 8K12H Campaign,
hitting 8,000 Golf Balls in his 12 Hours Charity Event -

We ate a cake made by Maxim's Cake Shop to celebrate this unique event,  which Brian hopes he can enter his World Record into the Guinness Book of Records this year.  Good luck and hitting so many golf balls onto the targeted space in a non-stop 12 hours requires a lot of attention,  congratulations once again !   Brian is also a mentor and personal trainer,  contact him directly if you want to get motivated to reach your next target !




Price:   Around $250 – $300 HKD
Ease of Access:  3/5 
Food:  ♕♕♕♕  (Meal was by Invitation for their New Years Dishes!)

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sunday 07:00am - 10:30am,  12:00pm-15:00pm, 18:00pm-23:00pm

Address:  鰂魚涌英皇道979號太古坊康橋大廈1樓
1/F, Taikoo Place Cambridge House, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay
Ph: (852) 2284 4868

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Tasting Room - (Macau)

Michelin 1 Stars

  We visited The Tasting Room upon my suggestion to my large group of non-blogging foodies before it had recently been awarded 1 star by the tyre guide.   Apologies if some friends felt this meal was decent rather than good.   On the positive side we found their Lunch Course here at MOP 228 for 3 Courses (USD 28.50)  to be very reasonable.   Suffice to say,  a bigger night budget will get you more exotic dishes but here we got a preview into their dishes and executional accuracy.  



Dining Hall -



Omuse -
French Mineral water.



For lunch,  Simple Amuse Bouches to start -
They won’t give u a lasting impression and I hope the dinner ones will be more sophisticated.   But then again at least they provided u something at all for lunch.  Dinner at 3-4 times the price will have you set different expectations! 




Bread and French Butter -
The butter tasted quite French Bordier-like.   The bread offerings were more on the softer side but baked well.   In HK/Macau context they were even good.  ~  7.5/10



Tuna Carpaccio with Capellini Pasta & Eggplant -
Couldn’t taste the tuna at all nearer the bottom.  Pasta were curled up more for looks than for taste I guess.  Don’t want to sound all critical,  this definitely looked better than it’s advertised  taste.  ~  6/10




Salmon Gravlax with Endive Confit and Vegetables -
This was pretty but simple.  Something you can make at home yourself and if you know how to 3 spoon quenelle.   Again, fits in with the pricing point?  What about dinner then?  ~ 7/10


Some Condiments and Toast -
To go with the Salmon gravlax..


Steamed Chicken Mousse,  Wrapped in Lettuce,  Sweet Corn Emulsion -
Sounded right but everything tasted just a tad weak,  it could benefit tremendously from more grilling and/or a better sauce.  The pop corn on the chicken were a little strange?  ~  6.9/10




Slow Cooked Sea Bass with Potatoes and Razor Clams,  Tomato Beurre Blanc -
The Sea Bass had an almost crisp skin but the potatoes beneath it were, oh really, they were actually boiled potatoes?    The Razor clam was sliced up nicely but wasn’t that flavourful again,  it needed some more sauce.   This would have been a great dish if they improved the overall taste as it’s becoming repetitive by now – that many dishes and sauces taste weak.    ~  7/10




Pasta Fregola, Lime, Seared Squid & Fava Beans,  Lobster Emulsion -
Anything with lobster emulsion or bisque won’t fail to please easily.  Yet this was still on the lighter side.  This crustacean based dish was easily the favourite of the day for obvious reasons,  because it can be detectable at least!  ~  8/10




Braised Pork Cheek with Smoked Vegetables, Garlic Foam -
Ok.  Not smoky at all and not really making enough of a statement in taste,  not very tender or enriched with gravy either.   This restaurant is very healthy it seems!!    ~ 6/10




Chocolate Torte,  Passion Fruit Curd with Cognac Milk Chocolate Ice Cream -
I can almost bet that the Kitchen will come up with excuses on how Macau and Hong Kong customers aren’t accustomed to Cognac and strong Chocolate taste in their ice creams and desserts.  Blah blah blah.  All defensive mode ON.
   It looked pretty,  but quite muted unfortunately again and the chocolate torte was too dry and crumpled apart and reminds me of a dry brownie.  Liked the chocolate truffle on top and the dish plating though!   ~  6/10



Yogurt Panna Cotta and Vanilla Sable,  with Lychee and Raspberry -
Turned out to be deconstructed in the sable biscuit part of equation.  It tasted ok and more like those bottled Japanese ‘Bikkle’ yogurt drinks than real fresh yogurt,  strange coming from a now Michelin Starred restaurant.    Again lunch budgets aside,  how will the dinner courses fare here?  It’s a question to be answered but so far a lot of dishes looked better than they actually make an impact on your palate,  so I am ambivalent about paying even more to try out their dinner.  ~  6.9/10




Tea with Macarons -
Both were within spec of what you will find in HK and Macau.  Slightly off European standards…




Chocolates near The Tasting Room entrance -
One of the special points about this restaurant,  is that it is also doubling as a Chocolate tasting space.   Well we didn’t get any chocolate petits fours and the above chocolate dessert was dry and weak,  so yeh..  May be I should just eat more Amedei chocolate from here myself!


A Bargain for Lunch -
It’s hard to write a review about here.  Lunch was good value for money,  it reminds me of the good old Aurora in Macau before their original chef left.   However execution and taste wise,  I think I will prefer them to be more lively and which you can actually taste the ingredients and the sauce.  Or the chocolate influence in the dessert.




Price:   MOP 228 + 10%
Ease of Access:  4/5
Food:  ♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sunday 07:00am - 10:30am,  12:00pm-15:00pm, 18:00pm-23:00pm

Address: 路氹城連貫公路新濠天地皇冠度假酒店3樓
Level 3, Crown Towers City of Dreams, Cotai, Macau.
Ph: (853) 8868 6681

Thursday, February 21, 2013

大良李禧記崩沙 Buffalo Milk Pudding - (Macau)

  After a rather full dinner in a nearby street,  this time our metabolism concentrated on digesting the many noodles bowls we just ate and since we were pacing ourselves,  we finally noticed that here they sell Shunde regional style Buffalo Milk dishes,  after walking right past it the nth time.   A lot of original Shunde milk dishes and desserts are made from real Buffalo milk but it cannot be found on Hong Kong side,  perhaps due to logistic problems.   The buffalo milk dessert we shared was definitely more gamier and reminds me of the mozzarella curds from Italy.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASteamed Buffalo Milk Custard 雙皮燉奶 - MOP 18
I really liked this,  slightly gamey but not overly so,  and it didn’t carry that over-boiled milk protein stink that you find at most Chinese Dessert shops,  when prolonged cooking over 72C turns the sweet protein into something stinky.   This felt like it was bain-marie steamed at low temp.  ~  8/10





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnassuming Shop Front and no English name. 
There are more Shunde (順得 大良)  Buffalo milk dishes served here including savoury dishes.   I would be very keen to come back to re-try them on a less full day.   In the meanwhile if you know of similar shops in Macau please feel free to leave me a message to explore too!! 





Price:   MOP 19
Ease of Access:  3/5
Food:  ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
TBA.  Open until quite late around 10pm.

Address: 新馬路十月初五街125號30
125 Rua de Cinco de Outubro, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Ph: (853) 2892 4279


Monday, February 18, 2013

好景飯店 Hou Keng Fan Tim - (Macau)

 Hou Keng Fan Tim doesn’t really get mentioned by friends either in Macau or Hong Kong,  but anyway walking past the signage board says their Char Siu is properly Charcoal Grilled.   Also opened for many decades,  there are surprisingly only 2 reviews on Openrice.com .



The Charcoal Grilled Char Siu looked appealing enough -
Let’s give it a try.  I mean if I don’t like it I am just not going to finish it...




Charsiu Rice (Small) -  MOP 27
The rice was only ok.  The Char Siu on the other end had a nice whiff of charcoal and upon biting in,  that strong charcoal glazed coating really jumped out and it was slightly crunchy.   I have found a couple of Macau shops make char siu in this style which reminds me of Asian 豬肉乾 (pork jerky). This meat was very good I was a bit surprised…  in a diff way.   ~  8/10




Well Marbled -
It comes with an additional piece of fat on the side, 
which reminds me of HK’s 新桂香 sometimes!





Price:   MOP 40
Ease of Access:  3/5 
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 - ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -  18:00pm to 05:00am night only

Address: 澳門新馬路吉慶巷30號
30 Travessa dos Becos, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Ph:  (853) 2851 3889

Saturday, February 16, 2013

老記麵家 Lou Kei - (Macau)

 The wonton noodles in Macau seem to be slightly different from Hong Kong and Canton’s versions.  They’re not as curly and are also slightly thicker in strands,  also less elastic in texture though remaining bitey.   It reminds me of Capelli d'angelo pasta.   This shop in Macau is quite well known for it’s bamboo stick beatened noodles and congees.   They have other outlets which are more expensive than the original shop but serves worst food – therefore it’s absolutely worth the taxi ride all the way to eat here at the original shop in a remote town of Macau. 



The Noodle Making Room -
Noodle cakes are beaten by the noodle master who rides on a bamboo stick to beat on the dough.



Inside -
It’s been renovated.



Seasonal Items written in Chinese -
Ask for the English Menu if required !



So Far The Best Macau ‘Watery’ Mangroves Crab Congee 生劏水蟹粥 – MOP 57
Having tried quite a few Crab Congees using the Mangroves crab when it swells up by absorbing more water before it moults,  I have to say the one here easily beats the competition with its depth of sweetness and no traces of MSG.   The rice congee consistency is also viscous but not artificially thickened up and with just a tad of crab roe to make it 3 dimensional.  Yum!    ~  10/10



Prawn Roes on Hand Made Noodles, 
with Wonton and Soup -  Around $50 for the combo
This looked amazing when it arrived.  I would love to fabricate a story and sensationalize to you how this was PERFECT but it was not quite there as yet.    The shrimp roes were tasty and not too overly toasty or fishy,  unlike some other shops that sprinkle on top aplenty of shrimp roes but taste like nothing much.  Tick 1!   Wontons were very good,  no complaints about them.  The noodles weren’t bad and cooked al dente,  but needed more sauce and lard oil to lubricate as they stuck together like Playboy pages :D   The only downfall but at least it carried a real noodles taste.   ~  7/10


Beautiful looking Wonton with a long Swallow Tail -
With both Pork and Prawn mince,  this was so traditionally Canton recipe,  something u won’t actually find in the famous Mak’s Noodles in Hong Kong  (those made using Flounder Floss & Prawns only,  citing reasons of pork and prawns taking diff times to cook properly).    The soup here however was not up to the best in HK’s standards and missing dried flounders or halibut taste. 




Chili Sauce -
Chiuchow style,  vs Canton style which is more like a red paste.   Each to their own. 
Very rarely do shops give both chili sauces,  such as at HK’s Ball Kee 波記.


This Noodles Shop is so interesting -
The design is meant to evoke memories of a traditional Cantonese noodles shop,  it’s all a little too theatrical.   It doesn’t receive much reviews or visits by foodies except for Macanese locals either,  I suspect because it is found in the middle of nowhere like the Nevada desert.   Not surprisingly it finally got a mention in the Michelin Guide,  as any taxi driver will tell you this is one of the best noodle & congee places on this rather remote side of town,  which ironically,  is well known for their Watery Mangroves Crabs congees but no one bothers to come and eat because we all don’t want to be the guinea pigs ! 




Price:   MOP 95
Ease of Access:  1/5  (I take Taxis to this area for Eating.  I am sure there are Buses but even if I can read Chinese I can’t navigate to here confidently,  and this is hidden on a side street!)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 - ♕♕♕♕♕

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -  18:00pm to 05:00am night only

Address: 澳門筷子基和樂大馬路12號H座
Block H, 12 Av. da Concordia, Fai Chi Kei
Ph:  (853) 2856 9494

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

好記麵食 @ Seafood Market - (Macau)

 There are occasionally treasures waiting to be discovered in Wet Markets or Cooked Food Centres,  although the majority of the ones in HK have been covered by foodies for a number of years as the news leaked out.   The situation in Macau is different because only around 2-3 years ago,  the Macanese Government decided to shift some of the more prominent street stalls to inside their renovated hygienic Cooked Food Centres,  not dissimilar to Singapore’s strategy and which the HK Government can really learn from if they have any future vision.   For this shop a floor above a Fishermen’s wet market,  which I have been trying to open an account for half a year on Openrice with no success  – it’s advantage is clearly geographical.   The Macau delta region has access to the best crabs available especially the Watery Mangroves Crabs (水蟹) when they swell up during their 13th shell moulting stage by absorbing more water.   They lose out on meat and crab roe flavours,  but makes up for it in subtle sweetness.    Soft-Shell Mangroves Crab Congee 水蟹粥 is a signature dish in Macanese region. 



I Headed to this Wet Market 水上街市 -
Unfortunately not because I am smart,  but because I accidentally stumbled across a magazine article which mentioned a particular shop here,  which sources their fresh daily crabs from the fishermen beneath them.   A search online reviewed absolutely no review whatsoever, and it took me 2 goes to finally find and eat here as the shop closes by around 1pm. 



Looking like a normal Wet Market Dai Pai Dong -
I was skeptical at one stage. 
Confused smile



The Menu is definitely Wet Market range -
They’re on the cheaper side for 2013.



My Watery ‘Soft Shell’ Mangroves Crab Congee -  $40
The daily caught crabs were still alive & kicking about,  when the lady boss cleavered them up.   It’s not exactly Soft-Shell crab as we know it but it’s at one of those stages in it’s life when it has more water content and the head caraspace swells up.    This sweet crab juice is suppose to melt into the congee and make it sweeter,  but without much input from crab roes and tomalleys.   Another game altogether..




OK Yum and Fresh !
The crab flesh is less meatier than usual but may be it’s my placebo effect as it seemingly tasted more sweet.   I have eaten these Watery Crab Congees quite a few times in Macau now with some repetitive revisits to the same shops!   What did I really think about here comparatively speaking?    The crab was very fresh,  and there was no MSG whatsoever and appeared oh so natural.   The base rice congee taste and consistency was deemed decent but could be ricier,  although many shops pass off a worst attempt.    Just in case I never get around to covering other shops and not including ones I haven’t already tried as yet -  so far this was next best to the impeccable one served at 老記麵家 本店 and Red 8 inside Wynn Hotel (though slightly MSG influenced and don’t order their Apple Wood Peking Duck unless they fix the limpy skin problem).   六記麵家 my absolute favourite noodles place found a street away from here also makes it decent but I would have to re-try 1st and reserve my judgment.    This one was definitely better than other famous places like MSG laden 誠昌粥店 or the not bad 牛記咖哩.     After all the consideration I would put this into my 2013 running Top 3 finish.  And at only $40 a bowl,  this easily worked out to be the cheapest bowl and for the wet market setting alone definitely worth a shot!   ~  7/10




They Have Pocari here !




At Seafood Market,  沙梨頭街市 Mercado Municipal do Patane -
Macau is confusing because it’s written in either Chinese or Portuguese. 
I guess showing this picture to the taxi driver might get u to here quicker!   It’s 7-8 minutes from Central Macau so it’s not so pricy,  may be USD 3-5 max.  Arrive before 12 - 1pm as they close quite early,  I think they open at around 7:00am onwards. 



Price:   MOP 40 - 50
Ease of Access:  3/5  (Near Bus Stop but better to take Taxi for only a few USD)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sat -  around 7:30am to 12:30pm

Address:  澳門爹美刁施拿大馬路, 沙梨頭水上街市1樓
Mercado Municipal do Patane
Ph:  +853 28258066


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