Thursday, June 30, 2016

AQUA [ Hong Kong ] - Sunset Dinner from 6:00 to 6:30pm, $498 for 3 Courses. Great Bargain!

 Aqua at 1 Peking Road has always carried one of the best view you can discover in Hong Kong. I remember back in its infantry Days, the food concept was slightly different to now, and in recent years they serve both Japanese and Italian food without fusionizing the dishes.  Hearing from the restaurant group that they are currently doing a Sun Set Meal promotion, which is only HKD $498 for 3 Courses if you are seated by 6:00 to 6:30pm, I thought this was a pretty good deal.  Last time I came it was for Brunch on the weekend and that was equally fantastic value, but when it comes to night time the vibe setting is different yet again:

That View of Hong Kong's Harbour -
I took some Sunset photos of here too.  To me personally, Aqua can be a touristy spot for diners, but during recent years I actually found the food here to have majorly improved. They serve some of the best Lobster or even Vegetarian pastas in town. 

It's called Aqua.
So I am drinking Water to fit with the scheme.. : )

Bread Basket:  White Loaf, Rye, Figs & Olive Bread -
With a Mayonnaise dip with Garlic & Lemon. The Fig Bread was easily my favorite, it had a nice crust and aroma. 

Cristal Blue Prawns Tartare, with Burrata Cheese, Dry Smoked Cherry Tomatoes, Caviar -
(+HKD $88)
The smokiness was actually quite strong, the burrata cheese runny. The prawns were thickly diced and the portion was bigger than I envisaged. Lovely Course with a good balance ~ 8/10

Cross Section to see the Blue Prawns Tartare underneath -

Vegetables Tempura, Seaweed, with a Black Truffled Miso Cream Dip -
Looking cute with the Basket Presentation. I was surprised there were no prawns or seafood in the tempura dish, but ultimately I enjoyed the veggies and mushrooms, shishito,  lotus root, and that truffled miso paste was very likable, to the point we dipped bread into it to mop it up ~ 8/10

Lobster & Grilled Scallops on Sicilian Fregola Pasta. Cauliflower Mousse and Pickled Shallots -  (+ HKD $128)
The Portion was bigger than I thought,  you can see quite a number of well caramelized scallops and the lobster meat weren't stringy at all like at many places.  Interesting they paired this with Fregola pasta too,  it is the right call indeed traditionally with seafood,  as many other restaurants pair it with risotto rice or Orzo pasta instead.   ~ 7.5/10

Stewed Beef Cheek with Truffle Raviolo & Pumpkin -
The Cheek was tenderly cooked, and once breaking up the raviolo pasta released some creamy cheese which lubricated the beef even more. Truth be told a lot of places do Beef Cheeks nowadays but many of them are too stringy dry, but the version here tonight was done well. ~ 8.5/10

Dessert Platter for 2 People - with Customizable Written Message
I was dining with a Friend so it wouldn't have been 'I Love You', 'You Are Gorgeous', 'May the Force be With You', etc.  I chose for them to just write 'Happy Sunset' lol, which was the theme behind this Dinner Course!  With a Creme Brulee, Chocolate Lava Cake, Chocolate Eclair, Italian Lemon Sorbet, a quite alcoholic Tiramisu, and some Fruits on the side... I have had this combination before and knew that it was dependable, especially that Sorbet and the Tiramisu. ~ 8/10

Chocolate Lava Fondant Cake - 
I thought this was a little too floury in taste for me. But generally acceptable.

We were actually Surprised it was more than Full House here - 
Sometimes I come for drinks and it is not always packed, but this night I saw people still arriving in to eat dinner or for drinks way after 10:30pm. Although there are many new restaurant openings in Hong Kong right now, I actually have always appreciated the Food Quality provided here vs pricing point. It is presentable, tasty, reasonable, with a killer view of Hong Kong side.  Most of all it isn't fussy and pretentious, and as mentioned above their Pasta dishes here are actually very spot on and smell amazing. For only $498 for 3 Courses before the supplementary add-ons, this to me was great value for money...  Don't call me a cheap date though,  one certainly doesn't want to marry someone who won't calculate the base costs before the Rule of Diminishing Returns kick in.. !

Price - HKD $498 Per Person + 10% plus Supplements
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Beijing Road No.1, Floor 29, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Ph: +852 34272288

Monday, June 27, 2016

China Tang 唐人館 海港城 [ Hong Kong ] - Sister Restaurant to China Tang Central HK & London, opens in Harbour City

 China Tang 唐人館 in Harbour City opened recently and surprisingly we received an invitation to try out their latest venture's Menu.  To explain the Concept and History probably needs a flow chart,  so let's shorten it as this way:   David Tang of Shanghai Tang 上海滩 (Luxury Clothing with a Shanghai Design Emphasis),  opened restaurants of Members Only China Clubs in HK,  Singapore & Beijing.  China Tang was opened 1stly in London and subsequently re-introduced back into Hong Kong with now 2 outlets,  being sister restaurants to some Michelin Starred Island Tang, Kowloon Tang & Chiu Tang.  Collaborated with Lai Sun Group,  another HK Listed F&B Restaurant,  Entertainment & Property Developer Giant in HK,  which itself owns other Multiple Michelin Starred Restaurants like 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo,  CIAK series, & Japanese restaurants like Wagyu Takumi and Wagyu Kaiseki Den,  Rozan,  Ginsai, etc.   It's called doing real food business I think ! ..

The Tang's Restaurants all have slightly different Designs,
but most of them go down the eccentric theme of Retro Shanghainese-Hong Kong details.  In design speech similar to Shanghai Tang's apparels..

Yakitori of Shiitake Mushroom, Chicken Wing & River Eel - $48, $48, $68
I was initially surprised when this came out from a Chinese Restaurant.  Japanese food is part of the Bar Area's menu... In another interpretation, you could say this is historical as in the past Shanghai, the Night Clubs would have served Japanese dishes to please their Japanese clienteles.  Also don't forget Lai Sun Group also owns some of the best Japanese Restaurants in Hong Kong, so they are in good hands for this cuisine.

醬香一口脆 Pickled Turnip Pagoda - $68
A cold appetizer item that's picking up in Michelin grade restaurants in recent years, remembering 2 sister Tang shops to here already have Michelin Stars too

紅酒鵝肝凍 Red Wine Flavored Jelly Goose Liver Terrine - $98 per Portion, this is 3 Portions
This is quite a French concept but presented in a Chinese way, which suits the Tang's image too with the mysterious quasi Western Shanghainesque-Hong Kong theme. 

陳年花雕話梅蝦 Marinated Shrimps with “Hao Diao” Wine and Salted Plum - $128
This was good as the wine didn't overpowered it but was balanced fragrant. A lot of places make them too alcoholic for my liking sometimes.

泡菜海鮮餃 Steamed Seafood and Kimchi Dumplings - $48 for 4 Pieces
Kimchi in translucent thin skins. The seafood to me could be diced thicker for more texture, overall this is like a Cantonese interpretation of a Korean Kimchi Mandoo..

南翔小籠包 Steamed Shanghai Pork Dumplings ‘Xiao Long Bao’ - $48 for 4 Pieces
Out of all the Tang restaurants in HK, here did the best version, comparable to Shanghai and Hangzhou, etc.  It's sweet inside with the pork and soup. Priced reasonably too.

西施蟹肉餃 Steamed Crab Meat and Egg white Dumplings - $60 for 4 Pieces
This is almost like an 賽螃蟹 dumpling, except it uses real Crab Meat. The skin could be a little thinner this time, but the ingredients inside were fresh chunky and not overly cooked..

金錢雞 Gold Coin Chicken - 
BBQ Chicken Liver Skewer with Honeyed Lean Pork, Pork Fat Layer - $168 for 6 Pieces
The Rose Wine & Sugar soaked Pork Fat 冰肉, is always the first part to study when judging a Gold Coin Chicken. It should be translucent, most fat rendered off during the roasting to lubricate the lean Char Siu pork. This version was smaller than some, but overall done very well, even the Chicken Liver is smooth and not too crumbly dry (in the past, they use Pork Liver in the recipe). Highly recommendable!

Another Look at the Gold Coin Chicken - which has No Chicken Meat
Historically Chicken was expensive and only the wasted parts of a Pig were used to make this into a poor men's Char Siu recipe... Labor intensive but no wastages.  Some versions have a piece of Ginger on top to cut down the grease, whilst some have thin Lotus Bread to sandwich it..

Brought along his rare to purchase Glenmorangie Milsean, aged in Portuguese Red Wine barrels and carrying a warm spiced honey and mandarin like note. Thank you..

杏汁菜膽燉白肺 Double-boiled Pig’s Lung Soup with Almond and Heart of Greens - $98 Each 
Possibly the most famous soup in Cantonese Cuisine, in which the Pig's lung need to be flushed for 3 hours+ to rid of any innards taste. It then uses two types of almonds to boil again for hours, before extracting the milky color and sweetness. I have had the pleasure to drank almost all famous versions in town and most are just mediocre compared with the benchmark at Luk Yu Tea House's Dinner version.  Here it was creamily right up there but slightly more savory.

百花炸釀蟹拑 Fried Shrimp Mousse & Crab Claw, into a Sweet & Sour Sauce - $138 Each
This dish is popular in Hong Kong, and I think like Sweet & Sour Pork,  this recipe also made it onto the much craved dishes list Overseas too, along with Prawn Toasts (All fried wink wink).    The one here was done decent. TBH they all taste more of the same to me.  If say they put chunky prawn pieces inside the prawn mousse paste,  or Steam it then served on Dehydrated Deep Fried Lettuce Cups topped with Jin Jiang Vinegar Foam instead, then that might make it 21 Century Modernized Cantonese... Just saying for fun : )

Chef from Beijing, who used to work in Kitchens affiliated to the Hyatt Group -
Which as we all know, their Peking Ducks are considered one of the best in the world from 'Made in China' 长安壹号 fame..

老北京傳統 片皮鴨 - $638 1 Eat Per Duck. $688 2 Eats Per Duck, such as Duck Sang Choi Bao
The Belly Skin is dipped into caster sugar, the Back Meat with Skin can be put into the Crepes with Garlic, julilenned Condiments & Tian Mian Jiang sauce. The Plain Meat itself are mostly put into the thin crepes too.  Hong Kong and Macau nowadays have some authentic Peking Ducks right up there with Beijing - here China Tang Harbour City, also Kowloon Tang, Hyatt Shatin 18, Macau Grand Hyatt Beijing Kitchen,  Mott 32, 大都烤鴨 Empire City Roasted Duck, 大都淮揚 Empire City Huaiyang.  Been to all of them mostly a few times but not all were covered on this website.  I would rate Beijing Kitchen Macau, Shatin 18 & Mott 32 the top in the region,  followed closely by here China Tang but which is slightly cheaper too. But in general all of them are satisfactory except 大都烤鴨 which is too soft on the skin...  There are also others serving a more HK style Pekinese Duck I enjoy,  but I won't explain on the technical details here..

Traditional Beijing style Peking Duck -
The Beijing Chef doesn't even speak Cantonese if you want to know how authentic...  He is concentrating on roasting the ducks and slicing them into 3 ways.

水煮魚塊 Simmered Fish Fillets with Sichuan Chili, Peppercorns in Chili Oil - $238
More healthier and slightly less spicy and numb than the Sichuan counterparts, this is made using a Chinese Perch 桂花魚 or 桂魚, also known as Mandarin Fish (actually the names all belong to the same family but carry small differences).  Silkily soft, not too oily.  It came with some Sweet Potato noodles at the bottom.  A little adjusted to the HK Market but I am sure you can order a full palate impact version as a crescendo build-up.

雲腿扒津白 Braised Chinese Cabbages with Yunnan Ham - $188
The Chinese Ham was not too salty or hard at all.  A staple dish with a creamy sauce done right,  a childhood favorite of mine.

黃金炒飯 Fried Rice with Shrimp Coral and Crab Meat - $238
Most higher end fried rice especially in Hotels are slightly moist, to be elegant. Not this one - which they chose to make it with Wok Hei and fluffy dry, long individual grains.  I have my own take on this,  but I will keep it to myself.

芋蓉燉鮮奶 Double-boiled Milk Pudding with Taro Puree - $42
We were saying this dish tasted familiar, and then we realized we ate this at another famous Chiu Chow restaurant before.  A must order here,  I even suspected the milk was made from Buffalo Milk as it had that distinct fragrance which is super rare to find in HK.

蜂蜜黑糖糕 Steamed Dark Sugar Cane Sponge Cakes with Honey - $39 for 3 Pieces
This fermented sponge cake is similar to the White or Yellow Sugar version. From the 1 day raising and fermentation it is meant to be just slightly sour, but modern consumers can't usually grasp this sourish concept. This sourness here was offset with the addition of Honey, smart. 

香芒綠茶糯米糍 Glutinous Rice Dumplings in Green Tea Flavor with Mango - $39 for 3 Pieces
I was kicking myself at this stage because this was really amazingly executed, but I was so full and took only 1/8th of a bite! The sticky rice coating was thin and did carried green tea taste, not just color. The inside was filled with fresh mangos with a creamy coating.  A few places do this but none were executed like this one.  Encore next time..   Overall I thought China Tang Harbour City was the best one I have tried so far and they had the best dim sums and duck,  with sophistication - at the same time I actually found here slightly more affordable.  Obviously because this was of Invitational Event as a trial,  we will have to come back and re-judge it by ourselves as true indication.

Price: Estimate around HKD $350-500 Per Person Dinner + 10% (This meal by Invitation by China Tang)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Shop 4101, Level 4, Gateway Arcade, Harbour City, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Ph: 2157 3148

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Grand Cafe 君悅咖啡廳 [ Hong Kong ] - The Renovated Buffet Restaurant is Amazing Value for their Refined Food

 Grand Cafe 君悅咖啡廳 at Grand Hyatt Hotel HK after the recent renovation - takes on a rejuvenated approach for their buffet food.   The famous Hainanese Chicken Rice is now available unlimited during the buffet, and surprisingly Weekdays or Weekends are priced the same at $638 + 10%.  It is more systematic and easier to be understood by the customers. 

A Selection of Salads, with Smoked Salmon and Condiments - 
Looking very neat and we got a few of these to our table for sharing

Tuna Salad Nicoise -
One of my favorite salads in the world,  it carried all the right ingredients and executions, sauces as one would find too in Nice, France

Asparagus with Black Truffle -
I almost missed this,  but someone else brought this on the table Yay !

German White Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce -

Some Grilled Salmons with Roasted Garlic & Charred Fennels -
Smelling good and micuit cooked..

Beef Bourguignon -
Chunkily diced and looking well layered.  The sauce was very lovely,  although I wished the beef was cooked to more tender..

Hainanese Chicken Rice - Unlimited in the Buffet now
One of the more sought after famous Chicken Rice dishes in HK. The Chicken quality has also been amazing, with the Chicken Skin fresh and soft, absorbing in the poaching liquid taste after 3 bath dips, the Chicken meat tasty tender, a layer of Chicken Jello in-between which only forms consistently if you ice poach them somewhere along the tedious cooking process.  The rice was lovely fragrant.   I thought the Chili sauce could have more of a kick in hotness and citrusy

Chicken Soup -
Boiled with the Hainanese Chicken, it has some Turnips Sweetness, rather than Winter Melon or Lettuce taste in some other recipes.

Wok Fried Lobsters with Garlic and Spring Onions in Bouillon Broth - 
Apparently this was fried perfectly, with the meat still softish. I ended up not trying this with regret, as I was too full already..

Pan Seared Goose Foie Gras with Caramelized Apple Slice - 
Unlimited of course and nicely plated

Lobster, Flower Crab, Fish, Lobster Roe & Crab Roe Congee with Chinese Crullers -
I love this combination and this was actually the 1st dish I prioritized to eat.  On other days,  they make a soupy rice version on rotation.

Steak Tartare -
Diced thickly into chunks and not overly sauced

Chopped Bara Chirashi Zushi Rice -
This was a surprise find to me, as I was actually hoping to eat this dish on this particular day elsewhere but didn't make it during lunch.  Suddenly I found this again during dinner. With White fish, Salmon and Ikura Roes, Ginger, Cucumber, Crab Meat, etc. 

Parma Ham and Liver Pate Spread -
The Liver Pate is also famous at the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse side since their incorporation..  Nom Nom

The Bone-in USDA Prime Rib Eye Roast with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Potato Wedges, Veggies - This was unexpectedly good and got the standing ovation from other friends.  The meat was tender to the bite and carried a good beef flavor.  Even the Mashed Potatoes were nicely done.  The Potato Wedges however could be crispier to me!

Parma Ham with Mozzarella Cheese, EVOO, Basil, and Heirloom Tomatoes -
I love Heirloom tomatoes, and they are quite expensive.  Very surprised to find them using these to pair with the Mozzarella in a buffet

Honmaguro Tuna Red Akami, Sweet Prawns, Hamachi Yellowtail, Salmon and Tako Octopus -
The tuna quality here was amazing.... the last few times I had really good Sushi-Sashimi in HK Buffets were easy to remember.  The Top 4-5 I remember are at here Grand Hyatt's Grand Cafe, Mandarin Oriental Clipper Lounge ,  The Promenade Harbour Grand,  Ozone at Ritz Carlton HK, also The Greenery at Royal Garden Hotel, etc.

Grilled Oysters, with Thai Style Stuffed Squids -
Grilled with Charcoal..

Scallop Ceviche with Lime and Chili, also a Prawns Salad -
Interesting cold dishes with Latin-American and Peruvian influence,  perfect for the Summery Weather

Grilled Prawns and Scallops -
Hey I remember taking some Photos of these, but I forgot to eat them haha

Seafood Counter - With Crab, Clams and Lobsters 
Someone did asked me online if they had fresh oysters, to be honest I didn't pay attention because personally I hardly eat raw oysters in Summer in HK, not even Australian imported ones unless I was 100% certain they were shipped and kept cool safely in Summer!  I did enjoy my Lobsters here!

Boston Maine Lobsters - 
This seems to be a prerequisite in all buffet restaurants in HK. The ones here are nice, and I also wonder where do they serve the best versions in town ! 

Apart from the Above Sashimi - 
Sushi is done with Attention here too

Steamed Grouper Fish -
A Huge fish. I took a bite of this and thought this particular fish was slightly over steamed, although the sauce and flavors were spot on 

Steamed Prawns -

Some Dumplings you can put into the Noodles -
Wished I was hungrier as I love these

Table of Sauces... 

Tempura Station - with Prawns, Asparagus, Pumpkin -
Dipped into Oroshi Tempura sauce,  quite authentic

Wok Fried Beef Slices -

Some Classic Cantonese Dishes -

Draught Beer - 
It changes on rotation, interesting to find this in a Buffet's menu

Lychee and Rose Tea -
Almost Pierre Herme and Laduree Ispahan like..

The Cheese Counter - 
The Cheeses available are mostly French, and also quite unique to find in HK. There's a Le Pont Blanc cheese, also one with Coffee infused into it!

Soaked Cherries and Chocolate Sauce -

Desserts in Verrine Glass -
Pretty Cute

Crepe with Grand Marnier, HK Milk Tea and Rum & Raisin Ice Cream, Candied Citrus, Grapefruit and Orange -
 I added on top some Blanc Cheese 

Dessert Cakes -
I was jokingly saying online that Girls really do have a spare stomach for desserts. For me, I will need to revisit again to conquer them all !

Choux Pastries -
It was meant to be a Choux Creme.  But I sandwiched some Ice Cream into mine coz it was quite hot on the day ~ !

House Made Ice Cream and Sorbet -
Tried 5 flavors. HK Milk Tea, Rum & Raisin, Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry sorbet.  I personally loved the Raspberry and Vanilla the most!

Apparently, after the Renovation and with the Appeal of the Hainanese Chicken Rice -
 Grand Cafe is pretty full everyday and requires some Booking ahead... It certainly is one of the best buffets if not the best in HK right now. Next time I come, I will probably need to starve myself for a few days 1st as I really wanted to eat more desserts : )   For HKD $638,  this really was amazing value and I can't wait to come back !

Price: HKD $638 Per Person + 10%
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕ to ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: 灣仔港灣道1號君悅酒店大堂
Lobby, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai
 Ph: +852 25847722


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