Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yan Toh Heen ( III ) - Always One of the Most Pioneering Cantonese Restaurants


I honestly can’t recall how many times I have been to Yan Toh Heen but it’s been quite a few times for sure before my Instagram days,  and I tend to write about it only when I couldn’t cope with not sharing the food photos anymore bursting at the rim.    Same applies with equally Michelin 2* rated Sun Tung Lok,  which I have been a few times and counting back on the 50+ odd dishes,  really puts me off writing about it as yet not even for once,  especially when one time we had the $4000+ course with Abalone as an experiment.   Since almost decades ago beginning I still remember eating here at Yan Toh Heen and back when it was still named Regent,   with the  Japanese Ginza Restaurant being the talk of the town within the same hotel complex as mentioned before.   How things have really changed over the decades.   As per my previous review of Yan Toh Heen combined into one,   finally this Institution is a correct recipient of their well deserved 2* valuation:



The more recently Renovated Look -
I actually liked the previous look better,  but who cares about my opinion..




Toasted Honey Walnuts with Sesame -
This is the BEST version in Hong Kong.  A lot of places give you stale versions.   TST Hyatt’s The Chinese restaurant also makes a decent one too to be fair.

Many Types of Sauces and Condiments -
The yellow chili one really had an unexpected kick !  The Soy Sauce was also very complicated in taste.  Surprisingly tonight had no X.O. sauce present,  which I really like as it carries a lemon grass taste somewhat…

Canape – Beancurd Roll with Julienned Vegetables
This is surely inspired by a Shanghainese appetizer dish,  I liked it but somehow wished it was smoky on the outside.   ~ 7.5/10


Crab Carapace filled with Crab Meat with a Panko Crust -
The version here has always been one of the Top,  if not the best tasting version in Hong Kong.  Surprisingly many places muck this up by having too much thickly sliced raw onions,  too much mushrooms,  sauce  too creamy,  or just a lack of fresh crab meat taste or overly shredded.   Tonight’s version was still great but it had a more potent raw onion taste than before,  as pointed out by one of our dining friends with a very delicate, discernible palate.   Well she is definitely qualified to say so as a Perfectionist Chef and Teacher herself.    ~ 8/10




Australian Wagyu Beef with Seared Foie Gras,  served with a Fried Man Tou bread -
Beef and Gras were both diced very thickly at 2cm+ each side.   The Beef was cooked to medium-rare inside with a certain pinkness -  very appreciated because almost all Cantonese restaurants cook the wagyu until grey inside.  The wagyu had a good beefiness,  but the foie gras was the highlight because it had a lovely livery flavour and for Cantonese Cuisine,  this actually rivalled a French version for once.   The fried bread was a smart idea too.  ~ 9.5/10

Buddha’s Hat -  Beancurd Sheet covering a Myriad of Chinese Vegetables Underneath
This is one of my favourite dishes,  and the one here was delicately done with fine vegetables, moss,  vermicelli and a nicely tuned sauce.   Vegetarian dishes can’t get any more finer than this.   ~ 8/10

Crispy Skin Fresh Local Chicken,  with Breaded Yunnan Ham on Prawn Crackers (Half) -
I have had this here numerous times and I personally even think it’s one of their Signature Dishes.   WOW!!!  This time was the best I have ever had it!!   The skin was crystalline crispy and wafer thin,  the slight yellow oily layer below the skin contributed to the taste but not being offensive,  the chicken meat had a great chicken flavour which lingered in the mouth.   We were talking business all night and eating fairly slowly.  30 minutes later,  I took another piece and the skin was still as crispy as my 1st piece!  Totally sensational.  Add on top of that the fried Yunnan Ham,  which is obviously previously soaked in honey and equally elegant balanced but not too dense.   This was probably the Dish of The Year for me by the end of 2014.   ~ 15/10

Fried Rice,  Steamed in Lotus Leaf -
Again a dish I had here many times,  surprisingly this was the first time I noticed the rice had a really lovable bitey texture to it.  Not sure if they changed the mix of rice ratios?   This was good and filled with diced meats and seafood.   So correctly executed.   If I was being critical there wasn’t a lot of lotus leaf aroma,  but then again,  I can’t even recall even 1 other shop which can achieve that.  (Although I do remember experiencing that in the past somewhere).   ~ 8/10

Abalone and Mushrooms E Fu Noodles -
The 3 people on the table were polarized.  Some think it is nothing too special.  One commented on whether the noodles are even house made.  From my personal angle,   I think the Abalone could have more braising liquid taste.   The noodles were fine by itself but not really E Fu Noodles but thick noodles to me,  the sauce was utterly balanced.  May be because it was so balanced it needed more character -  like some Fried Flounder floss or Prawn Roes or some shaved Taiwanese Bottarga or something to that effect?   ~ 7/10

Seafood Fried Rice in a Dolsot Stone Pot -
Anything served in a Stone Pot here at Yan Toh Heen is always good,  just like the above Wagyu Beef dish and the other dishes I tried before!   This was actually a wetter version of fried rice today,  and it deferred from the same or similar rice dish I tried here before.   Opinions are always divided – I personally know that Fried Rice has a few forms,  either with Wok Chi ‘fire breath’ like in a Dai Pai Dong,  or an elegant Wok Chi when the flame lick can be barely registered like how most hotels serve it with subtleness.   This version seemed fried with eggs then somehow soaked back with a stock,  much like Fujian Fried Rice.   Not everyone liked this on the table but I absolutely adored this dish myself and especially with the pickles like condiments above.   ~ 10/10




Mango,  Pomelo and Sago Dessert Soup -
This is always theatrical when it arrives with the smoky Dry-Ice!   I have had this many many times too and it was one of the best versions in HK no doubt.  This time however,  the base soup was very mango pureed and unlike all the other times I experienced it.   It was still great mind you,  but I think it’s overly mango-y now and could do with more milkiness for balance.   ~ 7.5/10

Oolong Ice Cream,  Almond Pudding,  with Hungarian Tokaji Sorbet,  Fruits -
The Menu description didn’t really described this,  but when it arrived on the table we began scooping at first but started almost fighting for it at the end!   The oolong tea ice cream was so good,   but it was the fairly strong and alcoholic Tokaji sweet wine sorbet on top which surely elevated this dessert to another culinary level !   Absolutely adorable and it tasted more than what the menu says for once but still utterly balanced overall. ~ 10/10




Chinese Petits Fours -
They have always presented this prettily presented tray of Sweet Chinese Dim Sums at the end of the meal as a service,  it is ever so thoughtful and almost French-esque in concept,  but who’s to say it wasn’t the other way around?   Because in Chinese Emperial cuisine,  they also expect a nice finish to a grand meal.   They even had an Apple Crumble tart here within the Chinese pastries..    Michelin 2 Stars totally deserved and thanks to Yan Toh Heen for being one of the most original institutions in Hong Kong,  but always re-inventing itself and pioneering the HK Cantonese food scene.        





Price:   Lunch $600 + 10%
Ease of Access:   4/5  (Walk 7-8 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Station.)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕1/2 ~ ♕♕♕♕♕1/2

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun -  12:00pm - 14:30pm,  18:00pm - 23:00pm

Address: 尖沙咀梳士巴利道18號香港洲際酒店地下
G/F, InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Ph: 2313 2323 / 2721 1211

Monday, January 26, 2015

Fu Ho Restaurant 富豪酒家 - Very Well Executed Cantonese Cuisine

Michelin 1 Stars_thumb

 Each of us foodies have our own preferred favourite Cantonese restaurants,  and this happens to be one of mine.  I would rather eat here than at the Fook Lam Moon or brother series that split from there onwards,  because I personally find the dishes here to be cooked more precise.   Precision or neatness doesn’t affect the taste much,  but when I see a dish presented neatly on the table or a chicken butchered up evenly,  I appreciate the thoughtfulness behind and know that the Chef and Kitchen Team took their food with immaculate seriousness.  It’s also like baking – home baking is nice and homely and I love making wonky looking banana loaves or muffins with asymmetrical muffin tops,  but not everyone of us will become a Professional Pastry Chef with perfect presentation nor can most of us even divide up a tray cake with perfect straight lines.    Originally well known for his Abalone dishes due to Executive Chef 阿翁's tutelage under Ar Yat the Grand Master,  he has two restaurants in Hong Kong and this Tsim Sha Tsui side has consistently been awarded Michelin 1 Star over the years.   2ndly as mentioned in a previous review of here and in fact I skipped a couple of meals in between as usual,  they have a Free 1 Bottle Corkage policy here !    I came a bit late for the New Years dinner so not everything is covered below and thanks for friends for bringing some lovely Burgundian Vosne Romanee and Echezeaux.



Pumpkin Puree with Birds Nest -
I missed some appetizer dishes but some responsible friend saved some for me,   and when my next real course arrived,  I was like oh mine,  this is going to be an expensive meal…   This was done really well here,  not much huge surprises but naturally you drink it all before asking what’s going on with the Menu planning.   ~ 8/10

Braised Japanese Yoshihama Dried Abalone with Polish Goose Web -
Didn’t expect any Abalone tonight but we all got some and this was done fantastically,  and considering the end bill was only in the mid $1500 range per person.   No expert on rehydrating and braising webs and abalone but I think this was very likeable with the penetration of flavours,  texture and braising liquid’s deep but not salty taste itself.  ~ 9/10


Fried Taro and Prawns -
Due to modern eating preferences and the richer guys wanting healthier food,  most taro cases nowadays are more denser than before as they don’t fold in any pork lard anymore.  This remained the case here and even after frying it was not greasy either and reminded me of a similarly high standard dim sum I had here before.  One wonders if they secretly air-fry these things in the kitchen nowadays!  For some reason I thought the prawn can carry a little more crustacean taste.   But overall likeable.   ~ 7/10



Lemon Chicken using Fresh Chicken -
Interesting to eat this in a different restaurant inside Mira Mall because Tsui Hang Village’s version was my all time favourite all these decades,  back then Tsui Hang Village was still opposite on the Mira Hotel side.   Modern Lemon Chickens definitely won’t taste as good as the older Pan-Fried versions which takes too long to prepare.  The modernized version in Tsui Hang Village these days still has a sauce made of 2 types of lemons and tastes the same as the past, slightly more sophisticated in layering than the version here.  Yet Fu Ho is famous for their poultries and especially fresh chicken as I encountered during my previous visits.   This lemon chicken actually carried real chicken taste within!    If only the sauce could be more sophisticated,  this could well be the best lemon chicken in modern day Hong Kong !   ~ 8/10

Fried Silver Oysters with Grilled Semi-Dried Golden Oysters -
The 2nd item is very prized in Cantonese cuisine,  and interesting enough often sourced from Japan these days.  This duo presentation of oysters in two forms was well received,  and provides a nice contrast,  especially when it’s getting close to the festive Chinese New Years.  ~ 9/10

Thin Noodles Cooked with Abalone Sauce and 4 Kinds of Mushrooms -
The original menu said E Fu noodles but this was changed at the last minute,  pretty decently flavored but not too spectacularly special.   I much prefer their Claypot Rices here,  which previously came highly recommended by another Foodie who comes here regularly and she was totally right.   ~ 7/10



Red Date,  Lily Bulbs,  Dried Longans and Snow Fungus Dessert Soup -
Soothing and old-school.  Classic.

Traditional Slow Fermented Ma Lai Go – Sponge Cake
Modern versions cheat a bit and use different rising agents to mass produce these,  but traditionally these need to be fermented overnight and to develop it’s intense dark sugary aroma and almost chocolaty flavour,  just like here.   Off the top of my head I can at maximum point out 3 restaurants which does this properly in HK and this is one of them.   Not even Fook Lam Moon’s version compares.  Surprisingly Tim Ho Wan still does a really good one too, despite other dim sums falling backward in standards.. ~ 8.5/10


Fried Triangles filled with Red Bean Paste -
These were fried with precision and not too sweet,  the inside red beans paste is the moister modern version too.   In the past desserts like these had a drier red bean paste filling and less lubricated,  almost gritty.   I kind of miss that version too!  




We opened some really Nice Burgundies and Ardbeg to go with the meal,
thanks to the Wine and Whisky Lovers on the table.    Great way to celebrate New Years !    I have had numerous other dishes from this restaurant before and their Poultry dishes are sensational here !



Price:  $1400 + 10%
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Shop 4C, L4, FoodLoft, Miramar Shopping Centre, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

Ph: 2736 2228

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Edo Japanese Restaurant 江戶日本料理 - An Upper End Version of Edo from Macau

 It was interesting because whilst I was trying out the Teppanyaki section of this newly opened Edo Japanese Restaurant,  which hails from Macau, we saw a few recognizable faces of foodies eating outside and trying out their Kaiseki courses separately.   So we sort of walked back and forth checking out each others food in-between dishes!   The Hong Kong outlet has a Japanese Executive Chef on board to look after the food quality,  and it’s definitely a bit higher grade than the Macanese quality just from reading the menu alone already. 



Our Teppanyaki Chef,  a Hong Kong Female Chef with many years experience cooking Teppanyaki –
Previously at 水車屋 Sui Sha Ya,  one of the oldest Japanese Institutions in HK which has undergone many transformations, going from selling high end food decades ago to all-you-can-eat teppanyaki before they closed down finally.  It used to be as famous as Ginza Japanese Restaurant and Arima 有馬日本料理,  the latter pretty famous for always smuggling in real Kobe-Beef into Hong Kong.  How the Japanese food scene has changed these years..


The Seafood Course today – $780 Per Person
With African Abalone,  Hokkaido Scallops and Salmon



Starter Appetizers -
Sweet potato, Cabbage Pickles,  and Cucumber with Wasabi mixed Rice, Beans and Wheat lees,  similar in concept to Kinsanji Miso.  Lovely.   Also Kamaboko fish cakes with Wasabi and Rice lees,  and Mentaiko cod roe.    7.5/10

The New Years Osechi -  Additional $150
This is served during New Years in Japanese cuisine,  each component symbolizing a positive meaning.   *A friend’s order,  didn’t get to try this.


Grilled Scallop with Butter and Pesto Sauce -
This was cooked well enough and not over,  the sauce was not too over powering,  it is a slightly westernized formula.  The other day I had this interesting conversation with another experienced foodie and he said it seems like,  in both Japanese and even French or Spanish restaurants nowadays,  everyone is doing a seared & caramelized Hokkaido scallop.  It’s true in Hong Kong for sure.   ~ 7.5/10


Frying some Rosemary to Infuse with the Olive Oil,
for cooking the 1st Prawn dish ..


Teppanyaki King Prawn with Grilled Head,  served with Himalayan Pink Salt and Calamansi -
Truth be told I think this is an easy dish to cook.  As long as you have a griddle (basically same as a teppan),  you can do these well so long as the temperature control is accurate,  unlike for home cooking.   However I liked the accuracy of both cooking and the sauce in this dish.  I also can’t help but noticed that this didn’t use the normal combination of Butter and Soy Sauce and Mirin or Sake to cook the prawn,  which is the norm.  Instead they used Rosemary Olive Oil,  which is actually a smart move,  as it retains the prawn flavour more.  ~ 8/10

Grilled Salmon in a Mushroom Ankake Sauce -
This is a Chuka style Chinese-Japanese sauce, slightly  starchy and you see a lot of it in Western Japan.  The Salmon was seared to crispy on 1 side.   Probably no big surprises here but it was again cooked accurately.   ~ 7/10 



African Abalone served in its Own Cooked Shell,
served with it’s own Livers -
This is how you usually eat Shellfishes properly in Japan,  especially for say Tsubugai and this.  The raw abalone is usually dipped into its own livery sauce.  Here both were teppan grilled.  In fact this combination might be expected in Japan but for HK it is quite unique,  so kudos to the chef for retaining the extra organ bits.   ~ 8/10

Tofu with Sesame Dressing Salad -
Technically it cannot be faulted,  although somehow I don’t mind something more complicated or unique for a salad.  May be if it had some chirimen white baits or sakura prawns in it to keep the momentum going and interesting.  ~ 6/10



Signature Drunken Prawn created by our Lady Iron Chef -
The above prawn dish was an imported King Prawn.  This one here is local live 9 Sections Prawn which were made drunken in Hua Diao Jiu wine for around 30 minutes.   Served with Crispy Prawn Legs,  Prawn Meat with Shiso Flower,  and Prawn Head 3 ways.   This actually surprised me in 3 Different ways and not all of which are positive  – the use of local Live Prawns and Hua Diao wine is kind of Chinese based.  If someone who believes in traceability in food history cooked this dish,  I would prefer the prawns to get drunken in some Ume Shu or Rice Sake or Aomori-Hokkaido Apple Wine instead to keep with the spirit.   2ndly and the positive news,  I liked how the legs were fried separately as that’s where a lot of the crustacean flavours actually lie.  3rdly I was actually surprised at how much of the aromatic wine entered into the prawns body already as this bit really sang out….  Reason enough to experiment this technique for myself !   ~ 8/10 

Salmon,  Scallop and Egg Fried Rice -
I know this is a Seafood Teppanyaki Course,  and ultimately although this was fried well enough I just wished there was some red meat snuggled in-between the courses?  Or both Salmon and Scallops have already made an appearance above previously,  and so did the Prawns twice.   If I was cooking this for the customer I will probably throw in some diced Ankimo Monkfish Liver or Sakura Prawns to be exploratory,  or even Japanese Dried Golden Oysters.  Or even shave in some Karasumi dried mullet roe.   But that is just me.  I mean FINDS impressed me when they sprinkled some Dehydrated Scallop Roes back onto the scallop flesh itself to bring out the umami.  The world’s possibilities are only at your own imagination..   ~ 7/10

Miso Soup and Pickles -
The Miso soup was definitely decent and flavourful.  The Takuan yellow pickles were cut slightly unevenly though and by default it should be sliced thicker.  The Goubo Burdock pickle is good and not over powering in comparison.   From a Food Traditionalist’s point of view,  the pickled dish also should have at least a 3rd component which is redder or purple,  like Shibazuke or similar.   Japanese cuisine is always balanced ranging from colours to taste.

Japanese Strawberries and Pear to round off the Teppanyaki Meal -
So ripe sweet as a finish indeed.    Overall I found that some dishes here to be very thoughtful,   I definitely think the Execution of the dishes here and the seasoning were spot-on.   Some dishes had a bit of repetitive ingredients though but with the base cooking precision covered,  that could be easily fixed ! 






Price:  $780 + 10%
Food:   ♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 1/F, J Plus Hotel by Yoo,1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay
銅鑼灣伊榮街1-5號 J Plus Hotel by Yoo 1樓
Ph: 2643 3033

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sushi Ta-ke 竹壽司 - Very Good Seafood Neta for Once

 Sushi Ta-Ke first started operating in Hong Kong under the management by a Michelin Starred sushi restaurant from Tokyo.   A few years after my last visit,  they now have on board Chef Sato Taisuke,  who has worked in many Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong and Japan and is now a veteran here,  who can now speak fluent Cantonese!   We or I took my Japanese Chef friend here for dinner because he wanted to eat the best quality seafood and having already taken him to places like Sushi Sase,  Kosyu and numerous other places,  I decided to come here because from our previous encounters I know Chef Sato loves fishing and distinguishing between various types of seafood,  so it will always be educational for me too!



Shima Aji nigiri-zushi -
Lovely piece of fish and sliced beautifully to be shaped in a sexy shape  (waiting for my hate mails for describing a nigiri sushi this way haha so many haters in this world).   This shiny skinned fish is always crunchy yet oily during winter,  one of my favourite fishes. 


Hokkaido Scallop Sushi -
Although normal looking,  the slight grated input of yellow Yuzu zest on top really enhanced the flavour.   We noticed that the rice here is not too sticky either…



Aka Botan Ebi Prawn (Hokkaido) -
This has a bigger head than the normal Botan Ebi,  it was super sweet and not mealy at all.  Good start.




Aburi Kinmedai -
Oh my goodness this was good and so oily,  to be honest I love Kinmedai but this piece really impressed me,  but in fact this wasn’t even the best piece tonight..


Tsuri Kinki -
I usually love kinki,  but surprisingly the above Kinmedai was so amazing it actually over-shadowed this piece on this visit.   Especially when Kinmedai is much cheaper than Tsuri Kinki in cost…



Aburi Akamutsu (Nodoguro) -
I often think Akamutsu is over-rated for it’s fame.  But far out this piece was so flavourful…  if you ask my opinion and knowing all three successive pieces of fishes above do look slightly similar,  I would have blind guessed this was the Kinki.  But in fact,  this was better than the above Kinmedai and Kinki in taste,  and probably the only time I have been impressed by a Akamutsu all these years.



Wild Black Maguro Tuna -  Akami cut
This was decent only.  Somehow it was slightly missing that bold ‘akami’ slightly bloody flavour which I love.



Wild Black Maguro Otoro -
This was very good,  with a good balance between meat and oiliness taste.  Modern day fatty toro’s to me don’t always have a lot of taste,  especially the ones you eat in HK.  May be because they are semi-farmed with big trawlers in the sea?   This was a really good piece.  *I know Bluefin Tuna is endangered,  so it always feels a bit guilty to eat it… although in a way I think it’s a supply and demand thing economically.  One day,  I think Bluefin Tuna and Eel will become so expensive no one will pay for it?  



Aka Bafun Urchin from Hokkaido -
This is fished near the Russian waters.   The name is slightly ambiguous,  since this is not an Aka Uni,  a different DNA strand.   This is one of the top Urchins unique to the Hokkaido and Russian seas,  super fresh and sweet.   My Sushi Chef dining friend also pointed out that the seaweed they use here is of superb quality,  it doesn’t have that usual green-fishiness but a much more sophisticated umami taste.   


Negitoro Temaki hand-roll -
Here they do it the Edo-mae style which is cylindrical.   This was very fatty but tasteful,  and quite fresh.   Good Negitoro is so hard to find in HK,  because the best are scraped off bones and the skin,  but in Hong Kong context they are usually just diced up as it is expensive to ship over the skin and bones.  (Much like how lamb cuts in HK have their bones shortened to save shipping costs)


Tamago Yaki -
Unfortunately we came a bit late and they ran out of their more Castella style version with shrimps and whitebaits.   This was still enjoyable nevertheless,  but personally,  slightly too sweet for me.  Overall this Sushi Ya was pretty good with it’s seafood neta ingredients.   I often become disappointed with high end sushi in HK because it is just so obviously missing the flavours in many places.   I was actually thoroughly impressed by Sushi Ta-Ke once again,  because I could actually taste each fish.   The other place I recommend is Sushi Mori,  which gives me the same feeling.   My last visit to 1* Sushi Iwa had an half-half performance but that was for lunch,  so that is not a foregone conclusion as yet!   Sushi Sase is also lovely but my few times eating there,  I seem to be getting the same fishes whether it was summer or winter.



Price:  $880 + 10%
Food:   ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: 12/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
銅鑼灣開平道一號Cubus 12樓
Ph:  25770611


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