Saturday, February 27, 2016

Osteria Felice [ Hong Kong ] - Affordable but Traditional Italian fare, this is Precisely what Hong Kong has been Missing all this Time..

 Those who know me closely will probably realize,  these days I am not that excited about food anymore.  Granted there are many upcoming promising places I have yet to try,  but I do feel like I needed to settle for a bit.  Gone are the days when I travel to Japan 10 times a year,  and traveling to Paris or Italy for weeks at a time.  However,  Osteria Felice was one of a kind in HK and thoughtful yet truly Italian,  meaningful especially when the Chef is from Melbourne and same as myself,  yet determined and trying to emulate the best of the authentic recipes in Italian spirit.  

Aperitivo Hour - 
The Prosciutto with Melon,  Beef Bresaola and Cheeses are available unlimited during Happy Hour.
I was thinking I didn't even need dinner afterwards,  since I am a small eater nowadays.  But Dinner Menu looked rather promising too..

Affetati Misti -
Not an ordinary but Tuscan Cinta Senese platter of Prosciutto,  Capocollo, Salami, Guanciale Pork Cheek and Belly Pancetta.  With some proper Grissini Sticks.  The guanciale was awesome and nicely salted on the external,  paired with some Mustard Fruits of seasonal Figs.  ~  10/10

Buffalo Mozzarella,  Fior di Latte,  Burrata Cheese Tasting Platter - 
Actually this presentation and concept was mind evocative,  they are very similar and all a mozzarella in overall definition,  but here they tried to make you taste their differences..

Bread Basket - 
Call me fussy but this was just okay and uninspiring under tanned too.  Most people don't care anyway,  actually same as me haha,  I will eat any bread presented to me when hungry...  But Artisanal Bread is going to be on another level but I also have to care about your Profit Margins... Blame average bread on high HK Rental instead!

Self Ordered Martini -  Gin,  Vermouth,  Vodka based as you choose, plus a myriad of infusions.  Comes even with Pickled Cucumbers or Watermelon,  etc...  Interesting.

Beef Tartare with Black Truffles - $158
This was well priced,  especially with the aromatic Truffles.   The Tartare itself was quite pickled-sour,  I have to say personally I prefer the Beef flavor to sing out more much like I am used to eating them in Italy and Australia.  Although Paris on average has been overly minced and sauced too,  so it depends on your preference I guess..   ~  8/10

Sardines with Burrata Cheese on Toasted Bruschette -
Amazing.  Huge and perfectly portioned in every aspect.  Even the toasts were sliced perfectly thin and toasted, warm.   I wish I could eat these for lunch.  ~  9/10

Beef Bone Marrows with Bruschette Bread -
This was okay.  I prefer them more burnt caramelized on top and melty... ~  6/10

Grilled Radicchio wrapped in Pistachio Mortadella Ham - 
The Radicchio cabbage was huge.  Didn't know why we ordered this Daily Special as I don't get this Concept,  but it turned out to be educational and indeed it worked!   ~  9/10

Gargenelli Pasta with a Pork & Beef Meat Ragu - $168
Really well cooked and flavorful in depth.   From my memory well priced too.   I should totally go back just for this as expertly executed homely food..  I want to order more Cheese though  ~  9/10

2 Sea Urchins on Squid Ink Pasta with Parsley - $268
This was okay.  The Pasta texture was perfect but the 2 different types of urchin flavors didn't really sing out.  It is expected due to Food and Rental costs in HK,  but yeah it needs more urchin umami for me.  ~ 7/10

Roasted Duckling,  Grappa Preserved Cherry Sauce - $388
Crispy Skin with a lot of meat.  By this time we were pretty full but this on its own was worthy of an encore.. That skin was so even roasted crispy,  meat under was still moist.  Acidic sauce helped balance the slight duck fattiness ~ 8/10

Hazelnut Tartufo - $88
With multiple layers of frozen hazelnutty chocolates and fruity jam.  I could eat this for lunch tomo!  And as the name suggests it looks like a truffle.  I think I have eaten this recipe for upwards of 3 Decades so I guess I can judge properly lol  ~  9/10

Tiramisu -
The thing I like about Australian Chefs is that they don't hold back on the Alcohol,  this one was quite Rum infused,  to the point almost everyone on the table think this was too alcoholic strong. To me this goes the other extreme as many in town aren't even spiked with anything noticeable.  ~  8/10

Molten Chocolate Fondant -
If I post one more of this recipe...  Everyone makes one in HK and Europe,  and although this was good,  the original Mi-Cuit or Coulant ideal was long lost for its half-baked concept,  rather than concentrating on the must be lava flowing version in HK!   This one though had a good Dark Choco taste.   They also have great Gelati here but I forgot to take some pics   ~  8/10

Price: Around $400 to 500 + 10% Per Person
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Shop 16-21, G/F, Hutchison House, 10 Harcourt Road, Central
Ph:  +852 25166166

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

MGM Aux Beaux Arts [ Macau ] - Brittany Lobster Dishes Promotion for February

 Aux Beaux Arts inside MGM Hotel in Macau is currently hosting a 'Homard Bleu' French Blue Lobster dishes promotion until the end of February, and some of us were invited over to Macau for a review. Although I am posting this slightly latter as my laptop was in Warranty fix, they normally also carry the similar Homard Americanus Maine Lobsters. So don't fret if you might miss out, I am sure they are equally impressive! 

Come to think about it, this is my 3rd Time to here..
Aux Beaux Arts is basically about a French Bistro concept. However the recipes are far from simple, applying some Ferran Adria style molecular science based formulas to enhance each Classic dish..

Pain de Campagne 'Country Loaf' -
This is baked in-house and has a great sourdough aroma. Its crispy outside and soft inside, slightly less heavy dense than the traditional recipes but I think most of us in Asia prefer this lighter style.. So good!

Sea Urchin Cream with Fried Fish Skin & Sea Samphire - 
Amuse bouche done very thoughtful, this had an intense urchin umami and the fish skin initially I thought was a Fried Chicken Skin! Interesting starter and even the Samphire or Sea Asparagus was very representational of the overall seafood theme. ~ 10/10

A Sample Portion of 3 Different Appetizer Courses:

Blue Lobster & Quinoa Citrus Salad, Mandarin Gel & Celery Sorbet (Left)
This seemed everyone's favorite for the quinoa and refreshing balance..

Rosemary Poached Lobster with Red Berry Jelly, Chioggia Beetroot Salad, Creme Fraiche (Right) 
Another even lighter healthier dish. This could be my daily meal.

Warm Lobster on Fennel Confit, Lemon Sable, Yellow Curry sauce & Tempura Lobster Claw (Top)
Personally I liked this the best. French recipes actually use a lot of curry too to pair with lobsters, pumpkins, even fruits or Moroccan inspired French dishes. The taste of this particular curry sauce however was quite local Macanese-Portuguese instead! 

Blue Lobster Consomme with Lobster Carpaccio, 3 Types of Japanese Seaweed, Julienned Cucumber and Furikake with Sesame - 
This was interesting as a concept to me, because Brittany also eats seaweed too and that is where the blue lobster itself is from... yet the French Chef here decided to do a Japanese ingredients take on it! Very intense aromatic dish. However I think the furikake sprinkle could be slightly less, as it can be quite powerful tasting! ~ 7.5/10

Baked Blue Lobster Thermidor with Cheese, Mustard and Cognac - 
Presented on a bed of seaweed. This was actually my favorite dish and even this surprised myself! The gratinated top was slightly crispy, the lobster and cheesy sauce was perfectly sweet tasting yet smooth. The Cognac aroma was also quite present. I also was surprised the serving plate itself has printed a Blue Lobster on it just for this month! ~ 10/10

Butter Poached Blue Lobster, Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras, Bisque Reduction, 
Celeriac and Culantro -
This was interesting because when this arrived, my eyes were wide open because there is a well trimmed saw tooth Culantro leave on top, which is usually more Vietnamese or Mexican. However as one PR said since France had so much connections with Indochine area, this is sort of expected! The bisque sauce reduction was quite intense. ~ 8/10

Cocotte of Lobster & Chicken Oysters "sot-l'y-laiss", with Dry Morel Mushrooms, Rigatoni Pasta in Lobster Cream Sauce -This was outright the most versatile dish.  I loved all the ingredients inside it and I was so surprised there's so much strong lobster bisque inside the cocotte when it arrived.  After eating the Rigatoni we dipped the bread into it.  We even mentioned we can now make a kaedama lobster ramen after.  In the end we didn't finished all the soupy-sauce as we were ready for our desserts.  But in hindsight,  we should have definitely!!   ~  10/10

Our French Maitre d' litting up the room with a Fiery Warmth with a 'Flambeed' - 
It was the same week as celebrating La Chandeleur Crepe Day,  so you probably already can guess what is coming next and exciting...

Crepe Suzette with Caramelized Orange Juice,  Butter & Grand Marnier, Vanilla Ice Cream -
A French Classic dessert and surprisingly the sauce was quite viscous reduced and coated the soft supple crepes so well.  I think within Hong Kong and Macau context,  this one really will be hard to beat.  ~  10/10

Chocolate Fondant with Pop Corn Ice Cream,  Toffeed Pop Corns, Chocolate Fudge,  Kumquat Raviolo,  Sponge - You can tell the Chef is well trained and playful,  this dessert alone used many different methods to make and some are even molecular.  The whole concept and plating was so thoughtful.   Thumbs Up!  ~  9/10

Some Chocolate Truffles,  Matcha Chocolate,  Rice Crisps and Lemon Tarts to finish as Petits Fours - 
The Coconut shell dish is familar,  as this was introduced when they did a Peruvian x Japanese Nikkei cuisine here as 'AJI',  before they open later this year.   Interesting as these are quite heartful for a Bistro setting.  Me thinks over the whole meal course,  this is definitely treading into Fine Dining Category already as the recipes used above are European Michelin star grade in attention to each small details..

Seafood Bar -
They even carry French Sea Almonds,  plenty of in season French Oysters,  Spanish Red Prawns and Langoustines,  Lobsters,  Japanese Hokkaido Urchins, etc.  All upper end seafood..  Actually come to think about it,  this concept is quite unique to the HK & Macau context!   Hope to be back soon if I am in town again... which will be next week : )

Price: Around $600 to 1200 + 10% Per Person  (This meal was by Invitation by MGM Hotel)
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 宋玉生廣場外港填海區, 孫逸仙大馬路, 美高梅金殿天幕廣場

Grande Praca, MGM Grand, Avenida Marginal da Baia Nove, Alameda Dutor Carlos d'Assumpção, Macau
Ph: +853 88022319

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lai Bun Fu 禮賓傅 [ Hong Kong ] - Chinese New Years Celebratory Dishes

 Lai Bun Fu was so kind to host a Chinese New Years dinner gathering for us, and Chef Chung Kin Leung not only used to cook for the HK Government, he has also served the likes of US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Actually this was my first time here as previously there were rumors that this restaurant can be pricey. In fact after checking the Menu Prices, it is quite the opposite. Most dishes here are priced at only around Lei Garden or similar restaurants price, but the attention to details was top notch.

太史五蛇羹 - $238 Per Portion
Traditional Snake Potage

This was julienned nicely and unlike some places, the snake and chicken meat were well lubricated and not dry. The medicinal herbal taste was also very apparent in the background, something which I love but not many restaurants are so bold. Topped with Red Beancurd Crisps and Chrysanthemum flower petals. Very well done job and I would say even better than some so called Michelin 1-2 Star places in town. Although as someone pointed out, this would fare better with Kaffir Lime leaves, which they served with the lamb pot below. ~ 9.5/10

金華火腿伴脆蠔卷 - $238 Per Portion, Shown is a larger portion for the whole Table 
Deep-fried Jinhua Ham and Dried Oyster Rolls

This was interesting as hardly do one see this traditional Chinese New Year oyster dish wrapped with Chinese Ham! Very smart idea and it worked a treat. Topped with some bling bling silver foil. Full of dried oyster taste but still moist, not needing any spiced salt either as the ham provides that saltiness. ~ 10/10

禮賓傅經典盤菜 - $1880 for 1 Portion. Picture shown is again sized up to around 1.5 Portioning
Lai Bun Fu’s Classic Big Bowl Feast

This classic Cantonese New Years Feast Bowl is filled with goodies like Abalone, Goose Webs, Fresh Chicken, Prawn Balls, Semi-Dried Oysters, King Prawns, Turnips, Fish Maw, etc. The chicken was the highlight as it was soft yet full of chicken taste, one can tell from the bite of the bouncy chicken skin its fresh. The sauce underneath asked for a bowl of white rice. ~ 8/10

豉汁蒸脆鱔 - $238
Steamed Eel with Soya Sauce 

My favourite dish tonight. The eel was full of crunchy meatiness and without any muddy taste. Another thing I noticed was how much meat there is vs the bone. The sauce was just right and not over powered by the soy or black beans. One of the most impressive Eel dishes I have ever had in my life time... ~ 12/10

子母福袋糯米釀雞 - $588
Lai Bun Fu Whole Chicken Fortune Bag, filled with Glutinous Rice. Paired with Vegetable Pouches

Just like the above Feast Bowl, the chicken meat here was also very aromatic - imagine smelling roast chicken off a French rotisserie shop, but in a Chinese way. The fortune bag is made from soy bean sheets. The glutinous filled chicken is a novelty idea actually, most of the versions in town have a fried chicken casing. For once however I expected more sauce in this dish, just coz I could taste more of the chicken essence in the rice too. ~ 7/10

香桃紅酒燴牛腩 - $238
Braised Beef Brisket with Assorted Peaches

The beef briskets were really thickly diced and we mentioned the Chef has to be very confident of himself!! I like it this way yet most people on the table were onto the way of becoming full and everyone tried to find a smaller piece! The Red Wine taste was very apparent here - I don't remember any other version in town which was so 'wine' orientated, I suspect more was added on a 2nd latter stage. The 2 types peaches balances the sweetness and acidity. Personally I think it could handle just a tad more dried spices too. ~ 7.5/10

古法黑草羊腩煲 - $380
Stewed Mutton and Beancurd Sheets

The mutton was served skin on. Meat was tender and not too gamey, just right for most people I think. The dried Beancurd Sheets expectedly absorbed the liquid well, and both dipped into a traditional fermented beancurd paste with kaffir lime leaf dip. We ordered extra Chinese Lettuce to be cooked into this soup. I think I ate a lot of this, as I love lamb and mutton when done very right like here. The other really great version I had recently was at ( 海景軒 Hoi King Heen ) just for comparison. ~ 9/10

伴塘五秀 - $128
Stir-fried Lotus Roots with Young Ginger, Water Chestnuts, Lily Bulbs, Goji Berries and Mountain Yam

Interesting this was served closer to the end of the Snake and New Years Course. The young pickled ginger was quite fragrant and not bitter chewy. I liked this but I think it would be even greater as a starting dish as it opens up your appetite. ~ 8/10

黃金海膽蜆肉炒飯 - $268
Golden Sea Uni Fried Rice with Clams

This had a lot of Japanese Urchin and small clams. The rice was fried to a golden hue with some vegetables and small dried prawns! I was saying on Instagram, for some reason I thought this dish's texture will benefit with some diced King Prawns too. Just my 2 Cents of thought! Obviously with the sea urchin, it is never enough but at this pricing point it is good value! ~ 8/10

天山雪蓮燉雪耳 - $68
Double-boiled Snow Fungus and Snow Lotus Seeds

Snow Lotus Seeds have a traditional Medicinal use for people living high up in the mountains beyond 4-5000m above Sea Altitude. These days it is rare to find in large quantities. Here it is only at $68, unbelievable. 

Price: $1299 + 10% Per Person
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: 中環安蘭街18號5樓
5th Floor, On Lan Lane, Central, HK

Ph: +852 2564 3868


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