Friday, February 27, 2015

Xia Fei Society 霞飛會館 - Trying out Dishes by one of Top 10 Chefs from China

 Xia Fei Society is a more upper end version of Xia Fei Shanghainese Restaurant 霞飛點心拉麵.   Looked after by Chef Chow 周元昌,  who is mostly based in China but periodically visits this Hong Kong store and ensuring the dishes are cooked to his intentions.  He is noted as being one of the Top 10 Chefs in China.   We came for a New Years meal since their Dining Group wanted to celebrate CNY with us foodies.   It coincided with Chef Chow also being in town and bringing in his specialty dishes for the festive season.  A special mention must also be given to the female Dim Sum Master here,  who is highly regarded in the restaurants circle but hardly gets a mention by default,  in fact Dim Sum Chefs in general should be given more recognition I find.



Four Treasures Tea 四寶茶 -
It’s made with a variety of flowers and fruits such as Logan and Rose Petals,  Goji,  Date, etc.




Chili and Crunchy Chinese Cabbage 泡椒爽口娃娃菜 - $68
Actually a small Chinese Cabbage has always been part of Imperial style cuisine in China and is highly regarded,  and often winning many awards.  White Baek Kimchi in Korea is based on a similar concept but since white kimchi is hard to come by outside of Korea,  not many see this relation and transitional borrowing off each others techniques.   ~  8/10




Sichuan Pepper and Cooked Akagai Ark Shells,  with Eringi Mushrooms 椒麻北寄貝杏鮑菇 - $78
This dish to me personally is a little Japanese.  The crunchy textures within were appreciated,  although I thought this wasn’t too Chinese or Shanghainese in concept somehow.  ~ 6/10




Shandong Wild Wood Ear Fungus in Vinegar Sauce 醋椒野生木耳 - $58
This special type of wood ear is curvy and round,  and only available from the colder regions in China.  Very unique,  despite a resemblance to the more wavy variety we eat.   Very crunchy and refreshing,  I think one appreciates this more from the ingredients rather than recipe’s side.  ~ 8/10




Fried Zucchini Strips and Prawn Dumplings 香炸翠瓜蝦球 - $88
Surprisingly good.  I said instantly online this reminded me of Italian Gnudi.  There is more zucchini than prawns taste though,  so if only this is your thing…   I wanted more prawns but I love zucchini so hard to rate ~ N/A




Two types of Bamboo Shoots with Cooked Mud Crab 砂窩膏蟹煮雙笋 - $468
This was rather refreshing than heavy.   The crabs are nicely cooked.  The soup was sweet but more from the veggies than the crab input.  Still nice.  ~ 7/10




Cognac Braised Oxtail with Seasonal Kumquat 香邑金桔燜牛尾 - $188
This was really lovely and I heard it also had red wine poured in.  The oxtail is partially attached with the skin on certain pieces,  a good balance.  The highlight was certainly the festive New Years Kumquats,  which added the perfect tangeriness touch.   Very appetizing as a result and needed white rice.   ~ 9/10




Wild Rice and Sticky Rice with Black Truffle Steamed Pork Ribs 黑松露野米蒸排骨 - $168
This was actually my favourite dish,  because the concept fascinates me.  You see, usually pork ribs are steamed and accompanied by a big bowl of rice to eat.   In this reverse and what I call a ‘misnomer’ recipe,  there is substantially more meat than rice.  Meaning that the flavour absorbed by the rice grains afterwards is multiplied and maxed out.  And this wasn’t the only dish I had recently which practices the same methodology.   ~ 12/10




Abalone,  Prawns,  Mushrooms,  Dried Conpoy,  Fish Maw 砂窩和味全家福 - $688
Yawn.  Look I understand this is a standard dish throughout China during Chinese New Years,  but at the end of the day…   It’s the Chinese Cabbage underneath which benefits and absorbs in all the flavours.   ~ 7/10




Black Truffle and Pickles on Fried Prawns 黑松露焗明蝦 -
This was quite likeable,  I ate it with all the shells on as it was crunchy enough.  Although black truffle is not such a Chinese thing,  it is becoming a local delicacy as it is grown in Yunnan region nowadays.  The coating on the prawn reminded me of a Duxelle!   I liked this a lot initially,  but surprising this was trumped by another prawn dish below…  Interesting.   ~ 8/10





Wild Fermented Black Garlic with Fried River Delta Shrimps  野生黑蒜爆基圍蝦 - $148
An uncanny dish in 2 ways.  First of all the wild grown black fermented garlic is prevalent in Anhui region,  although also spotted these days in Korea,  Japan,  or even Switzerland or other parts of Europe.   I find that Black Garlic from all places taste slightly different however,  some are just sweet whereas others are more pronounced in character.   The prawns here were super crunchy and mixed with fried shallots and other herbs, complex enough especially on top of the black garlic.  Easily the dish of the night and we were saying this could pair so well with some plain Chinese La Mian noodles as well.  Amazing dish !   ~ 15/10



Pork in Grilled Buns 灌湯生煎包 - $45 for 4
One of my favourite dishes.  The inside wasn’t as juicy as I had hoped.   Other than that it was only passable.  ~ 6.5/10




8 Treasures Rice with Wine Soaked Date, 
and Sweet Dim Sums  五福臨門 -
The Female Dim Sum Chef was here to shine..  The intricately made sweet dim sums looked spot-on at least.  Looks can be deceiving but let me assure you they tasted equally decent and the Peanut piece was balanced.  Our favourite was the 順風葉 which is made of a mixture of spinach stock,  some carbs and coconutty sugar and peanuts.  Very intricate  ~ 9/10  





Price:  (New Years Meal via Invitation)   Approximately $500 + 10% per head for this Menu
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕♕

Address:  中環德己立街1-13號世紀廣場4樓
1-13 D’Aguilar Street,  4/F Grand Century Plaza, Central,  Hong Kong
Ph: 2522 7611

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bishouku Club Yoshida 美食俱樂部吉田 - A Club for Eating, not Playing

 This new addition to the Central Dining Scene has a name which might suggest it’s a Japanese Club of sort,  however it’s actually the downstairs space of Michelin 1* Sushi Ginza Iwa.   The owner wanted to separate the two levels of dining restaurants,  in order not for this more affordable dining space to affect their Michelin status of the Sushi Restaurant.



Currently on offer is the Aichi-Nagoya Menu for $880 -
Aperif of sparkling Mikawa Plum Wine with Finger Lime, included in the Set Menu.



Ishikawa-Kobo Silk Tofu,  with 7 Herbs Congee -
A very Japanese New Years dish,  although we also eat this in China side.  

Simmered Sardine marinated in Olive Oil and with Japanese Mustard Spinach,
Smoked Kinuhime Trout,
Black Moss Seaweed in Ginger Vinegar -
All imported from Aichi Prefecture and then cooked or smoked here.  Would love to try their other Prefecture items soon,  and Gonpachi in Hong Kong also does a similar rotating concept ~ 8/10



Iwate Hakkin Pork Shabu Salad – *$98
Not included in the set but for extra $98.
  This was quite nice with the amount of different colorful veggies and someone commented on my Instagram,  the shiso flowers look a bit like ants.  A poor man’s NOMA meal haha!    ~ 7.5/10

Sashimi Set – Additional $280
Two cuts of Tai Sea Bream, Chu-toro Tuna,   Botan Ebi,  Kan-buri Yellowtail,  Ikura and Sea Urchin.  Actually this is a good price totally worth upgrading the meal.   I liked the prawns and ikura the best.   The Tai’s two parts do taste vastly different.    Actually we ordered only 1 sashimi plate to share between a few of us but surprisingly most people don’t eat raw fish so I got a fair bit!   ~ 7.5/10



Cup of Sea Urchin included -
Some one on the table made a mini Chirashi Don from this!


Kichimen Flat noodles with Kyoto Kujyo-leek -
One of my favourite noodles.  They eat them in Aichi/Nagoya/Gifu area with different recipes,  this one was in a clearer dashi and with the aromatic and less pungent leek from Kyoto  ~ 8/10



Charcoal Grilled Chicken Wings – *Additional $68 from memory
Pretty Crispy and aromatic from the grilling,  although I seldom see Chicken Wings go really wrong anywhere.  Compared to say Beef Tongue or Tsukune at least..  ~ 8/10



Fried Mehikari Greeneyes,   Angel Prawn coated in Rice Cracker,  Arrowroot Chips -
The cheapest way to eat an Angel Prawn is always via Japanese restaurants,  because in Japan it couldn’t get hyped up at all,  but if you eat it in Michelin Starred restaurants globally it’s sold under the ‘Obsiblue’ label and the price instantly goes up by 15 times,  when they are both the same thing from New Caledonia Smile with tongue out     The Arrowroot Chips are eaten in Japan for New Years too,  same as us Chinese do during CNY.    ~ 8.5/10

Charcoal Grilled Kani-miso and Meat in Carapace,  lined with some Tofu at the bottom – *$98
Saw this and it’s surprisingly cheap here.   The restaurant is also thoughtful enough to give out a tiny bowl of rice to eat with it.   Got to come back for this !   ~ 9/10

Sushi Platter – Additional $680
For some reason we ordered this.  I personally prefer the Sashimi Platter above as that only costs $280 more and I liked those seafood a little better.  Although this is a good price by itself in Central context for dinner as it has 16 pieces,  versus the usual 9 pieces which would cost more elsewhere.   ~ 6.9/10

Another Charcoal Grilled Iwate Pork Dish we Ordered – Additional $180
Actually I also like the Pork salad above more.  Although this has a good flavour,  it was a little dry for me and the ones I tried in Gonpachi and Sho-En were actually grilled much better.   ~ 6/10

Charcoal Grilled Kobe Beef Wagyu Platter – with A5 Sirloin,  Zabuton and Momo Leg $680
My favourite is always the Zabuton as it has really great meat and melty fat flavour yet it is also soft,  hence the name of the cut called ‘Zabuton’ aka pillow.   The Rump was a thin cut and I would have preferred it cooked then sliced the other way around.  The Sirloin after re-grilling is eaten with red wine salt which works a treat.   Fun way to eat some good Wagyu.  ~ 7.5/10


Nagoya Style Oden with Napa Cabbage,  Chicken Wing,  Octopus,  Yuba, etc -
Back to the Aichi-Nagoya tasting menu,  this is dipped into a famous red miso paste for eating.   The highlight of this dish?   The broth underneath mostly as it was sweet!    ~ 7/10

Unagi Hitsumabushi -
The Aichi way of eating Unagi on rice using 2-3 ways.   Originally on rice and then poured in with green tea broth,  wasabi and seaweed.   The version here remember was Charcoal Grilled so it has a more crispy skin and aroma.  Not sure how big the normal portion is,  but this tasting portion was good by this stage of the meal as not everyone ordered this Tasting Menu.   ~ 7.5/10



Fruits Tomato Jelly ‘Amae-gimi’,  with Yellow Fruits Tomato Compote and Sorbet -
The finishing dessert course was very refreshing… It was actually quite green to me but surprisingly the people who don’t normally eat tomatoes tried it and liked it.  For me I like the concept but it’s pretty intensely tomato !   ~ 9/10

By the End of the Aichi Tasting Meal, all Customers who ordered the Course are given a gift from that prefecture.   The key-ring is a little Fireman who is famous in that region.  Overall I found many dishes here surprisingly affordable,  just like their other sister restaurants Sushi Shoukun.  In fact the prices of many dishes here are below OOTOYA and Shirokiya Hong Kong level,  although one minor complaint is that there isn’t a large selection in the general menu, so perhaps concentrating on the Tasting Menu’s will get you more fun.




Price:  From $300 - $880 + 10% Per Person
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  29/F, Asia Pacific Centre, 8 Wyndham Street, Central  (Opposite Magnum Night Club)
Ph: 2619 0229

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cafe Causette, Mandarin Oriental Hotel - New Set Dinner Menus from $248

 We were invited over by the Hotel to sample the latest Dinner Set Menu,  which are priced at 2 Courses for $248 and 3 Courses for $348 + 10%.    I am starting to feel that in the past Cafe Causette was more casual in concept,  yet  these days they are being more exploratory and doing a lot of either modern dishes or traditional European dishes too,  which is elevating it to upper class bistro or even fine dining quality with certain dishes.  A previous combined review of 3 separate visits can be found here  (     We dined as 3 people and since each Course Category had 3 options,  we naturally just pick all of them to share !  


Cheese Bread -
With Pesto dip.   The permanent item here although the dip changes occasionally.

Nourishing Juices – $98
I ordered Green Apple,  Cucumber,  Stevia Powder, Celery & Mint Leaves. 



Beetroot Marinated Salmon,  Roasted Beetroots and Puree with Herbs and Edible Soil -
Also has some creme fraiche and salmon roes on top,  this was a lovely starter and the salmon is chunkily diced,  which is a novel idea and I loved it.  Note that this is a little salty but I like salty food so it doesn’t affect me!    ~ 8/10




Salad of Baby Gem with Blue Cheese Sauce,  Grapes,  Pears and Walnuts -
This sounded too healthy initially but surprising this was very likeable with the blue cheese dressing,  which worked surprisingly well with the fruits and there was another type of shaved cheese on top.   ~ 8.5/10




Egg Yolk Ravioli with Dehydrated Cauliflower,  Cauliflower Veloute, Parmesan and Truffle -
A must order here and so artisanally hand made,  and hence I find Cafe Causette to be upgrading itself these days.  The pasta skin is baked too so it carries a crispy edge to it,  noticeably different compared to the other egg yolk ravioli versions in town.   I had the urge to pop all of them morsels into my mouth for myself,  but I am a gentlemen so I shared and divided!  ~ 9/10




Pan-fried Seabream,  Boulangere Potatoes, Salsa Verde sauce -
This fish had a really crispy skin and there’s a lot of sliced potatoes underneath. 
For a fish dish this is actually a bit heavy but during winter,  I like them this way.   ~ 8/10




Spicy Lemon Chicken with Sesame and Rice -
It’s not that spicy.  Whilst the chicken was fried well,  the sauce which is made from both Lime and Lemon wasn’t sour enough personally speaking.   It’s going down the safe route quite a bit and I think it needed just a tad more character?   ~ 6.5/10




Home Made Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni,  with Tomato and Pecorino -
Surprisingly this was my favourite Main Course!  The lovely thing about this dish is that it has a lot of flavourful spinach inside,  rather than the other way around and too cheesy.   The gratinated Pecorino on top was fragrant and the tomato sugo actually had a great acidity which made this more the appetizing.  Can’t believe this is Vegetarian in hindsight as it had a lot of packed flavours!  ~ 9/10




Crispy Chocolate Devil Cake with White Rum Ice Cream -
It has a crispy base and was rich and lovely,  but I had to stop after 1 bite as it was a ladies world after the mains for me.   I think the rum ice cream can have more rum taste though.  ~ 8/10




Tiramisu -
Seems to have evolved again.   A safe version without alcohol spike.


Pavlova with Seasonal Fruits -
Interesting presentation.   The meringue shell reminds me of the ones you see in Europe a lot,  and this is filled with some fruits – quite artistic looking and daring actually.  I loved this the best as it’s lighter and not too sweet for me !     So for only $248 starting with 2 Courses,  this is actually quite decent value for money especially for this Hotel Setting.  For an additional $220 you even get 2 glassed of wines !  ~ 8.5/10




Price:  $348 + 10% Per Person  (This Meal was via Invitation as a Preview)
Food:  ♕♕♕♕ - ♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address:  中環干諾道中5號香港文華東方酒店 Level M
Level M, Mandarin Oriental Hotel,  5 Connaught Road, Central,  Hong Kong
Ph:  2825 4005


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