Monday, October 23, 2017

The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒 [Hong Kong] - Award Winning Chef from Grand Hyatt Shenzhen, with Signature Cantonese Dishes

  Award Winning and considered one of the Top 4 Chefs in Guangdong region,  Guest Chef Scott Xu 主廚徐廣強先生 from Grand Hyatt Shenzhen is here at Hong Kong's Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui,  to present his Signature Cantonese dishes for the month of October 2017.  There is still another week to try out his dishes here at The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒,  itself looked after by permanent Head Chef Lo,  known for his Double boiled Papaya Soup,  Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken, Char Siu and also to me his Fried Silken Tofu.  To explain briefly as an introduction,  Hong Kong & Macau are all considered part of Canton region - however to the dedicated connoisseurs  of Cantonese food,  there are quite a few sub-regional styles.  The Shenzhen and Guangzhou inspired Cantonese dishes cooked by Chef Xu, who is himself from Foshan also within Canton region,  are truly unique compared to the dishes we normally have on offer in Hong Kong,  and during his 「主席盛宴」 banquet dinner we certainly learned about the micro deviations in how regional Chefs interpret Cantonese cuisine within greater Southern China. 

The Chinese Restaurant 凱悅軒 -
Guest Chef Xu now cooking up Guangdong and Shenzhen Cantonese Cuisine here in October.  Normally,  Chef Lo also cooks some of the best dishes of their genre in Hong Kong,  including Jasmine Tea Smoked Chicken,  BBQ Charsiu,  Double Boiled Papaya Soup,  Salt & Pepper Fried Tofu, etc

The Promotional Grand Hyatt Shenzhen and Chef Xu's Menu for October 2017 -
All reasonably priced.

Deep Fried Honeyed Anchovies - 鳳尾魚 香酥蜜汁烤子魚  HKD $108
A popular appetizer dish around the Jiangsu Province and Shanghai region, nowadays these are rarer to find in Hong Kong's Shanghainese restaurants.

Salted Dried Plums with Cherry Tomatoes - 話梅櫻桃小番茄 $108
A refreshing cold appetizer,  not too sweet or sour,  perfect to my personal liking

Yellow Wine & Sake Marinated Sea Snails - 黃酒及清酒醃製 上海醉花螺 $138
A popular Shanghainese appetizer,  but with shells removed cleanly for presentation and ease of eating...  This is definitely refined Banquet dining in presentation.

Preserved Spicy Marinated Duck Tongues - 風味辣鴨舌 $108
Interestingly I had a similar Sichuan recipe dish during the same October period.  The other version is super spicy, whereas this one is milder and sweet..  Overall,  the appetizer dishes were more based on the Shanghai or Jiangsu regional recipes as starters.

主廚功夫湯 - 海馬, 新鮮鮑魚、明目魚 枸杞,紫砂茶壺  $198
Boiled for 4 hours in the Tea Pots, the male customer's soup version comes with Sea Horse and Abalone, whereas the ladies version receive a Fish maw for its collagen.

Roasted Spare Pork Ribs - 拆骨過橋風沙肋排 $308
A Signature Dish of Guess Chef Xu,  the Pork Ribs are marinated then roasted, then served with Chinese Celery, Green Chili and Garlic.  The meat between the bones are then deboned and served as a 2nd dish afterwards.  This was amazingly done as the marination was sweet and savory, spicy at the same time,  without being overly fatty but still melts in the mouth.  This is in contention for one of the best Dishes I have eaten in 2017. 

Steamed Green Female Crab with Pork Belly Patty, 10 y.o Shaoxing Wine -
天香蒸原隻膏蟹 $528
Another Signature dish from Chef Xu,  this was another mesmerizing dish which is unique and not found in Hong Kong side even as a Cantonese inspired dish.  The hand chopped Pork patty has bits of Water Chestnuts inside,  and is topped with a smear of peanut butter.  The Crab is steamed on top with the Crab Roe spread evenly on the chopped pieces.  Obviously this went down well with many bowls of rice and we all cleared it off..

Conpoy and Chicken Stock Steamed Grouper Fish - 瑤柱雞汁蒸深海星斑球 $488
A clean tasting seafood dish,  this was more a dish we are finally familiar with as a combination,  and served with Luffa Melon and Wood Ear Fungus.  This was decent per se,  but with the above two amazing dishes,  I personally would probably encore another one of them instead,  as the recipes are not found in Hong Kong side.

Prawn Stock with Crab Meat & Crispy Rice - 貴妃湯鮮蟹肉響米泡飯  $128
This is a dish that we love in Hong Kong too,  and the rice comes as both crispy fried puffs and also as normal white rice inside the clear prawn broth,  which is intense and the way we love it.  One of the best versions we tried in town when its available.  There were also diced Scallops, Prawns together with the Crab meat inside.

Scallion Oil & Lobster Mixed Noodles - 蔥油龍蝦球撈麵  $168
There were a bit more carb dishes than normal this night, owing to us wanting to try out a few of Chef Xu's dishes all at once within October month before he leaves.  Again this was well executed and we are happy to report back this had a good Crustacean taste in the mixing broth too,  even though the recipe description denoted it as a dry noodles version.  At this point we were super full,  as even all the filling carb dishes were cleaned off their plates and bowls.  We as regular Cantonese foodies, all somehow understood that the next possible chance of eating these rarer recipes done so well too, might be months or years away!  That's how impressive this meal has been so far..

Chinese Dessert 'Mignardises' Platter -  $180 per Person, Pictured is Two Pax Portion
There's a variety of Signature desserts from Hyatt Regency TST,  including the 3-in-1 Sesame Glutinous Rice Ball in Tart Pastry and Baked Pineapple Bun top.  Also some Oolong Tea Ice Cream Chocolate Bonbons inspire from next door Institution Hugo's !   It's like an Afternoon Tea served during end of Dinner instead,  worth a trip on its own!  Overall,  The Chinese Restaurant at Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui, serves one of the best Cantonese meals in town for us consistently and it is also relatively affordable.  Both the Menu's by guest Chef Xu,  and also in-house Head Chef Lo's menus are impressive as always, and currently they also have a Tasting Menu which is only HKD $600 per person with many selectable Signature Dishes,  but with HSBC Card promotions it's $480 only.  Definitely worth checking out and feel free to ask me for Dishes to recommend as we have tried most of them over the years already.. 

Price:  Around HKD $450 to $600 + 10%  (Media Preview for Grand Hyatt Shenzhen's Guest Chef Menu October 2017)
Food: ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Address3/F, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui, 18 Hanoi Road, Tsim Sha Tsui尖沙咀河內道18號香港尖沙咀凱悅酒店3樓
Phone: +852 37217788

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mott32 卅二公館 [Hong Kong] - Chef Lee from Michelin 1 Star Mandarin Oriental now Helming the Kitchen

  At Mott32 Hong Kong & Vancouver,  Head Chef Lee Man Sing now cooks and overlooks the kitchen duties,  when he was previously poached from the admirable kitchen at Michelin 1 Starred Man Wah Restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Hotel HK.  In fact Chef Lee has been running the kitchen at Mott 32 for over a year already,  although with his persona as such a low profile Chef who is more into actions than words,  we noticed that we have hardly felt his presence in the social media limelight these days since his latest career move.   I do owe him an overall write up and introduction too,  since I have been here a few times but never had the time to officially put him onto my website for reference.  One thing that triggered and motivates me to do a write up about the updated Mott32 - is that we notice most customers arrive in for their famous wood fire oven Peking Duck,  BBQ Iberico Charsiu Pork with Yellow Mountain Honey,  and also the Truffled Siu Mai dim sum, and that's where it ended for them as a culinary destination.   However,  this is not what Chef Lee was originally famous for when he ran the kitchen at Mandarin Oriental Man Wah,  and he certainly created some labour intensive and creative dishes for the Mott32 Menus,  to which I can hopefully showcase to you some of his best dishes..

The Peking Duck Oven -
We had this a few times previously,  it is admirable, but this overall review is not about this aspect of Mott32,  which is well proven as a formula !

Sichuan 'Lantern' Air Dried Beef  燈影牛肉 - HKD $105
A beautiful rendition of this tedious dish to make, which actually requires steaming, air drying and frying,  to give it the thin translucent look,  but with a crispy crackle rather than a jerky-like texture.  Here, it is quite Ma La numbing as well as Spicy, definitely one of the best versions in town and a must order after Chef Lee has arrived into Mott32 from Mandarin Oriental. ~

Seasonal Yunnan Mushrooms Sang Choi Bao Lettuce Cups -
Neatly done.  In Hong Kong nowadays,  Sang Choi Bao does not make as much an appearance on menus,  but usually as a supplementary dish to say a Peking Duck's carcasse meat being used up as a 2nd dish.  Or perhaps wrapping a Spring Roll.  Here,  it definitely appeals to foreigners and expats who love to eat exotic Chinese food..

椒鹽鮑魚仔併金菇 Salt & Pepper Fried Abalone with Enoki Mushrooms -
Another Signature starter here,  this time around it appeals more to local Hong Kong customers,  especially when in the recent decade or so,  it has become popular again in the ex Fishing Village area restaurants in town,  especially near Saikung.  Here it is paired with addictive enoki mushrooms.  I was joking that this dish would pair exceptionally well with Whisky or X.O. based Cocktails..

Iberico Pork Charsiu with Wild Yellow Honey -
This was originally one of the Signature items here since the inception of Mott32 opening,  even before Chef Lee's time.  However,  these days it has evolved into two versions - here is the cut which uses the Iberico Presa instead of the Pluma,  which gives it slightly more texture and melty connective tissues,  and closer to what Hong Kong-Cantonese style Charsiu is expected to taste like.  Customers can still choose between the both cuts on the menu these days.

Iberico 'Presa' Cut Charsiu -
Despite looking almost the same,  this is actually an alternative muscle cut used...

Quail Egg Truffled Siumai Dumpling -
A part of the trio of Signature items here, apart from the Peking Duck & Charsiu,  again these were already here and preceded Chef Lee's arrival,  the latter is more contributing towards the labour intensive and chef dependent dishes here.  We order this every time during Lunch or Dinner,  but I am glad to say this time has been the best version we have tried,  with the pork bouncy and not too solid,  the quail eggs still runny and wrapped inside rather than placed on top,  the traditional way.

Seasonal Autumn Yunnan Mushrooms Soup with Fish & Pork -
Double boiled and sweet tasting, aromatic. 

Shanghai Smoked Fish 熏魚 - HKD $260
A dish that Chef Lee does very well of,  the traditional Shanghainese version is actually not smoked but only called so for its similar flavors after braising and frying,  but here it goes the extra step to fulfil it's potential.  Again a dish that we have to order every time nowadays in the revamped Mott32 menu,  and definitely one of the best authentic tasting versions in town.  The other is at Michelin 1 Star Zhejian Heen in Wanchai.

Yunnan Morel Mushrooms with Scallops -
A stir fried dish that is quite typical Cantonese,  but here the thickish scallops had a more caramelized surface from wok frying,  which seems to be a food trend nowadays.  Previously the Cantonese version of this dish had softer, wetter versions of the scallops which were more thinly sliced, and remember that previously in Hong Kong we actually ate more of the Pen Shells varieties,  than the Hokkaido or European style scallops.

Scallion Stir-Fried Angus Beef -
This is a newer addition to the menu here.  The Beef are thickly sliced,  which differs slightly from the thinly shaven Beef or Mutton version which is predominantly eaten in Beijing or Mongolia for this recipe.  To me,  I think it could handle more wok searing aroma of the scallions and spring onions,  or leeks,  which was the essence of eating this dish.

鹽焗野菇法國春雞 Salt Baked Mixed Mushrooms & French Spring Chicken - 
A seasonal recipe using fragrant Mushrooms as stuffing, in a Chinese style with shadows of French cuisine.  The Lotus Leaf was of the fresher variety which imparted a greener aroma.  Inside were stuffings of mushrooms and pearl barley.  Someone said online that this resembles a bit of a Beggars Chicken,  which in hindsight is probably quite true,  just without the pickled vegetables lying the bottom of the poultry,  but using mushrooms instead.

Fried Beancurd Skins with Gingko Nuts, Red Dates, and Broccoli -
A Vegetarian dish that has some crispy elements,  and definitely appeals to locals and foreigners alike.  In fact I have hardly seen this typical Chinese medicinal vegetables dish done in this fashion.  Bravo.

Lobster Rice -
This is a relatively newer Crustacean rice dish,  and it was also served recently at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix circuit by the Mott32 team.  It has a decent amount of lobster bisque for cooking the rice,  and there is actually a history to this dish too...  Initially Chef Lee wanted to cook his Crispy Rice in Lobster Bisque dish,  which he exceled in at Man Wah at Mandarin Oriental.  In the end he created this drier version just for Mott32,  to distinguish itself from the previous version.  Having said that,  I have actually eaten that wetter version here too on a previous visit luckily..

Blood Orange & Guava Mousse Cake with Oatmeal & Jasmine Ice Cream - $105
A new dessert creation here.  Pictured above is the updated version of the Soy Sauce Ice Cream with Strawberries and White Chocolate Panna Cotta, which is a perennial favorite here. 

The Latest Food at Mott32 -
It is not my first visit after Chef Lee arrived into the kitchen, but it has stabilized and found a footing.  Of our multiple visits to Mott32,  we can tell instantly that there are two crowds which patron here - those who are more dining here for the Peking Duck, Truffled Siu Mai and BBQ Iberico Charsiu who might be lured into the space as these dishes appeal to foreigners from Asian to ABC,  Expats alike.  And then there are some of us who followed Chef Lee from his Mandarin Oriental days and come here for his Signature dishes,  some of which are unique and deserving merit, and which he helped to re-create for the Mott32 kitchen.  Which camp do you belong to when you arrive here to dine next time!! 

Price:  Around HKD $350 to $550 + 10%  (Media Invitation Meal for Autumn Yunnan Mushroom Dishes + Multiple Self Visits combined)
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: Basement, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Phone: +852 28858688

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Frank's Library [Hong Kong] - A New Bar inside a Bar, Through a Hidden Doorway in Foxglove

  After Dinner,  we were headed to Foxglove, a British Bar in Central that has garnered some followers for their fine selection of Whiskies and Cocktails.  About 45 minutes after we were sat down,  one of the owners said let's come this way and we should take a look inside...  Without any prior knowledge of its existence, we were led to a Doorway which required pressing some right keys to get into Frank's Library..

Inside Foxglove and the Performance Stage -
Where we were initially seated,  and sipping on a Woodland Breeze cocktail made of Aperol, Apple & Lemon Juice, Kaffir Lime Leaf Syrup & Egg whites - HKD $110

We were then led into Frank's Library...
A bar inside a bar, inside Foxglove.  Of which I did not take a lot of pictures in the dark.  Now if you knew about the ownership behind Foxglove,  it is owned and run by the guys behind Dr Fern's Gin Parlour,  which was instantly well received and got recognized as a Top 50 Asia Best Bars in the 2017 list...   The naming of the businesses behind Dr Fern's,  Foxglove,  Mrs Pounds and now also Frank's Library,  are all related characters from a conjured story plotline.  And Frank's Library is Frank Minza's most secluded private space..  which is here

Drinks inside Frank's Library -
Consisting mostly of rarity Whiskies and Cocktail Drinks,  which are naturally more exclusive and priced higher than outside at Foxglove

Silk Road Sour $230 -
Made with Hibiki 17 Years Old & Plum Wine

Sultan's Spice Bazaar $220 -
Cocktail with Date Sweetened Milk

America's Manhattan - $220
Leather infused Rye Whisky, etc

An Amazing Bar inside a Bar Experience -
I was totally unprepared and only tagging along for the Journey into Frank's Library, so did not ask too many questions about how to access this private bar area which has recently just opened.  Yet I think next time upon discovering the way to return back to here,  it will be a whole experience in itself again,  and there seem to be some Secret codes involved that you need to press right ~ !  Now that the Bar scene is heating up in Hong Kong and Macau,  here is another space worth exploring and is shrouded in mystery and enveloping a bit of privacy

Price:  HKD $110 to $230 + 10% Service Charge
Drinks: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕ 1/2

Address: Inside Foxglove,  6 Duddell Street, Central
Phone: 21168949

Sunday, October 1, 2017

El Cerdo [Hong Kong] - Great Tapas & Pricing, Spanish Tapas Bar from Tsuen Wan Now Open in Wan Chai

  My 1st visit to El Cerdo in Tsuen Wan was purely by luck whilst strolling past,  and the outside menu board carried authentic Spanish items at an affordable pricing point,  which sprang a surprise considering Tsuen Wan is out in the New Territories area.  Fast forward to mid-late 2017 and El Cerdo, which means 'pork' in Spanish,  has expanded to Wanchai Lockhart Road side.  UK Chef Simon Lynch used to help during the latter stage of the popular Tapeo Tapas bar and nowadays the El Cerdo recipes seem to carry even more personal characters of the Chef's intentions. 

Menus for Lunch & Dinner - I have visited 4 Times in recent 2 months Myself
Spanish Tapas bars are flexible for diners like me,  as I could come grab a quick bite or a full on Lunch and Dinner meal,  and at flexible hours.  The prices on the Menus are highly reasonable too..

Jamon Croquetas - HKD $34
The prices in Wanchai are slightly higher than in Tsuen Wan shop, but still affordable.  But that's not the point - I have ordered these every time I visited El Cerdo at both outlets,  and they are consistently the best croquetas in town,  with a loose bechamel gooey texture inside,  and plenty of diced Jamon hams.  ~  9/10

Egg Tortilla Omelette with Chorizo - $68
The A La Carte menu carries only one plain Tortilla option,  but they actually have a Chorizo,  Mushroom or a Crab meat tortilla version.  In my personal opinion, the best runniest Spanish Tortilla in Hong Kong is found at Catalunya  (soon to be moved to Central and renamed),  and also at Cassio in LKF.  The El Cerdo version meanwhile tastes the best overall,  simply because it has the right combination of potato and egginess taste, a runny texture, and in this version bitey chorizo's with the sausage oil and smoky paprika seeping into the omelette.  Got to order this every time too  ~ 9/10

Cold Gazpacho Soup -
Refreshing and accurate tasting.  Truth be told at first, I didn't know what magic Chef Simon is pulling sometimes,  considering he is actually British,  but his cooking tastes more accurate Spanish than most Spanish restaurants in town.  I have a feeling it's because in London and the UK,  expectations from a Spanish place have set a very high bar..

2 Pieces Crispy Pork Belly with Quince Aioli, Peppers - $72
*Currently With Estrella Damm Lager Beer as Promotion - Only $88
Another item that was famous from the Tapeo era,  but now carried to El Cerdo and a must order every time.  The skin is crackly and the meat is not dry,  perfectly cooked,  and I think it actually over performs over the ex-Tapeo's version somehow too.  ~ 8.5/10

The Signature 'Cerdo' Pork Belly, a Must order here Every Time -
I have eaten this 4 times in the recent 1.5 to 2 months already myself,  it is that addictive

Gambas al Pil Pil - $88
The Prawns are sizzling in the garlic and olive oil,  with some chili.  It is served bubbly hot and the prawns are crunchy and bitey.  This ajillo dish in Hong Kong context is not always nailed right,  but over here at El Cerdo and also at Ole Spanish Restaurant,  they are both serving my favorite versions in town!  ~ 9/10

Pincho Cordero Lamb Skewers with Mojo Verde sauce - $88
On the other hand, this was my first time ordering this after a Magazine Staff recommended it to me,  and it was gorgeous with the right seasoning,  and a crust outside the tender lamb.  ~ 8.5/10

Talo con Txistorra - Basque Style Corn Tortillas with Chorizo Sausage $88
With Red Pepper chutney.  A Traditional Basque dish that seems to somehow relate to the Mexican tortillas and taco's,  this is a unique dish in Hong Kong context.  The tortillas were hand rolled here and carried a strong corn taste - which you can't say a lot of corn tortillas at Mexican Taquerias in town have actually been able to achieve...  ~ 8/10

Spanish Churros with Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut sauce - $48 for 4 Pieces  
I think most customers who have been to El Cerdo,  agree that these are the best Churros in Hong Kong consistently.  I don't normally make the 'Best' claim but I have had most of them to compare with by now.  Here they are never fried too hard,  nor too greasy when eating with your hands.  Personally I prefer to have a Dark Hot Chocolate Drink to go with my churros or porras,  but a Nutella variation works well in this situation too.  ~ 9.5/10

El Cerdo Wanchai -
It is packed during Lunch hours already,  and Dinner depends at this outlet.  Over at Tsuen Wan side you will need to make a Reservation on almost any given night time.   I have also eaten other dishes here,  and will try to add back onto here when I find or tune my photos.  A typical Lunch here is only around the $108-148 mark and Dinner with a Drink,  probably around HKD $250-300.  Food Quality is high and consistent and for an Islander like myself,  this is one of my best Picks and a to go place right now in 2017,  I have been frequenting here almost once a week whenever I am in town !

Price:  HKD $108 to $250 + No Service Charge,  Please Tip
Food: ♕♕♕♕ 1/2 to ♕♕♕♕♕

El Cerdo Wanchai Address: G/F, 114 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai
Phone: +852 28329222

El Cerdo Tsuen Wan Address: G/F, 77 Tai Pa Street, Tsuen Wan
Phone: +852 28823811


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