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My first Peruvian.

imageSince in Hong Kong we wanted to go back to ‘Brickhouse‘ in LKF but since they still had a 1.5 hour waiting list at 9:30 p.m. we continued further hunting on the hills. We wanted to have some sort of tacos though and apparently fate was in our favour tonight as some people didn’t show up for the booking at ‘Chicha’ a Peruvian restaurant on Peel Street and without further ado we snatched it away.

I never would’ve thought that I like hardshell tacos but these ‘Fish Tacos‘ were brilliant, a bit difficult to eat but super flavourful with the fried moist fish, the crunchy coleslaw and the fruity and sweet mango salsa, delicious. We had the fried ‘Chicken Tacos‘ as well but those unfortunately were a bit dry and not as much fun.

imageWe couldn’t decide which ‘Ceviche‘ to take so we ordered the tasting set with three smaller sized portions of all. My favourite was the one with seabass (‘Corvina‘) on the left, the fish was fantastic fresh and had a pleasantly firm texture. My second choice was the ‘Mixto‘ which had everything in it – shrimp, octopus, scallop, squid – mixed with some fruity passionfruit and honey, a nice mix of textures as well. The ‘Tuna‘ version was also good but a bit of a weird combination with the watermelon and the fish actually was a bit tough to chew.

imageThey also have some dishes which they call ‘Hot Ceviche‘ which of we had the scallops. This could’ve been outstanding with the extremely awesome humongous scallops and the mix of butter, lime, soy and honey if only the cook would have taken it easier on the salt (a german saying suggests he was in love). Still good but mouth-drying salty which unfortunately overpowered the other flavours too much.

imageNext up we ordered a selection of the ‘Anticuchos‘ (grilled skewers), the ‘Oh My Cod‘ would have been the shining star if they weren’t prepared by the same Romeo cook as the scallops; super tasty moist fish, miso glazed that took an extensive salt bath. Well the sweet potato with the quail egg was okay but still only sweet potato, however the beef hearts again were amazing, perfectly seasoned, not too gamey, just pure muscle with a strong beef taste.

imageAnother ‘Hot Ceviche‘ we tried was ‘Crab Claw‘ which was, as the name suggested, a huge plate of pre-cracked crab claws in an extremely sour sauce. The crabs were nicely fresh and no hazzle easily sucked off the shells but the sauce was just too acidy for me to enjoy it fully.

imageWe were already pretty full but had one more thing coming up, their suckling pig sliders which were super good, suckling meat indeed sitting on a thin slice of sweet potato and topped with some pickled onions and gooey cheese. Great buns too and the whole thing reminded me a bit of the pork buns you get in the old town of Duesseldorf even that this here was a way more delicate and less greasy version.

I totally loved ‘Chicha’, the staff was great and obviously had some romantics amongst them, the food, besides the extreme overdosing with salt of some dishes was delicious and really something special and all in all we had a lovely evening with a nice atmosphere. Oh, they also do some quite decent cocktails here as well.

Chicha
G/F 26 Peel Street 中環卑利街26號地下舖
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2561 3336
http://conceptcreations.hk/chicha/chicha-central/

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High Tea at City Hall.

imageFinally it was dim sum say and our host took us to City Hall to go to ‘Maxim’s’ as I turned out a great place for high tea. The queue was massive and we had to wait for a good hour before we could get a table. The place is elegant, a huge bright room with hundreds of people sitting and eating and running around in between.

We tried heaps and heaps of baskets of which the first was the above with the steamed ‘Prawn Dumplings‘ which were stuffed ’til bursting with big prawns. I always find their texture really odd but tastewise they were fantastic.

imageThe pork filled pockets were my and everybody’s favourite, the dough was super chewy and stuck to your teeth and the meat gravy filling was delicious too.

imageAnother bbq pork filled option were the pastry buns which were good but together with the glazed pork inside the sweetish pastry was just a little bit too much. I didn’t really like the ‘Shao Mai‘ but then I never actually do cause their awkward pork-prawn-mix that weirds me out.

imageThe vegetarian option for the day were the steamed mushroom dumplings that had some lovely crunchy texture and the above waterspinach version that was fresh, juicy and simply delicious.

This was a great place to get dim sum, the nice ladies with the trolley’s full of goodies hovering around and just really really good food. Recommended.

Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant 美心皇宮
3/F City Hall, 5-7 Edinburgh Place 中環愛丁堡廣場5-7號大會堂低座3樓
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2521 1303
http://www.maxims.com.hk

Amazeballs.

imageIt was our last day in Hong Kong and after another rather early night we left our apartment for the airport but before we desperately needed to get our grub on. The first option we headed for, a “Cantonese Hot Dog Shop” didn’t look too tempting in real life so we made it easy for ourselves and went into IFC mall to check out its’ long list of restaurants. Despite being in Hong Kong and knowing we should actually have Cantonese or at least Chinese we weren’t too picky and too lazy to start a big hunt and so ended up at ‘Ginza Bairin’ a Japanese Tonkotsu restaurant conveniently located just above the Airport Express station.

Because it is fried stuff I haven’t been to such a place for a long while and took this “once in a lifetime” opportunity for a good enough reason for going to town on that pork. I ordered the ‘Hire Katsu Set‘ which was put together from Japanese rice, a pork miso soup, pickles and big pieces of fried pork fillet. The soup was one of the better ones I had mainly as I really liked the pork miso combination. The fillet balls were amazing, the crumbs were extremely crispy and properly drained from most of the fat, no weird chunks anywhere to be found and fried simply on spot. Pork gets dry when to well done and disgusting when rare but these ones were juicy and soft. Dipped in the sweetish tonkatsu sauce and there you go, awesome pork amazeballs. One other thing that is not particularly difficult to make but which I found wicked anyway was the free flow of thinly sliced cabbage that drizzled with their wasabi dressing gave an ideal balance to the rather heavy other bits on my plate(s).

Even that I felt a bit bad not trying ‘Mr. Bing’ or other things from my long to-eat list for Hong Kong I was not sorry at all we had tried this and researching a bit being back home I figured there’s outlets of ‘Ginza Bairin’ here in Singapore as well which makes me kinda happy.

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin 銀座梅林
Shop 3031, Level 3
IFC Mall
8 Finance Street
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2295 1112
http://www.ginzabairin.com.hk/index_eng.html

Wanna eat? Gotta wait.

imageI was on a weekend trip to Hong Kong with three of my friends and as it happens, during our first night we visited a couple of establishments specializing in liquids. This caused us all a rather mediocre feeling the next “morning” but I had the perfect cure lined up for us which I wanted to try since I found out about it. ‘Kau Kee 九記牛腩’ in Central is specialized in ‘Brisket Noodle‘ and always had a fairly long queue waiting in front when I passed by before. Thankfully people don’t take too much time eating at such unpretentious (thanks for the word Andi) places and so it didn’t take us more than twenty minutes to get a table. A friend told me that the portions here were rather small so we ordered two bowls per man. I also tried to order the signature ‘Brisket only in Special Soup‘  for us to share but the waitress practically forbid us to get it because of its’ “lack of authenticity” which later just turned out to be its’ lack of availability.

The first bowl I had was their famous ‘Beef Brisket with E-Fu Noodles‘ which was awesome. The noodles were super all dente and gave it all a  bit of an extra special taste. The longer they sat in the bowl the more the soaked up the soup but didn’t really lose their bite. The soup was deliciously beefy which completely fitted the purpose for a late morning after an early night and the brisket itself tasted brilliant too, soft and with some not unpleasant fat pockets in between. My favorite.

imageFor the second round I ordered ‘Beef Slices with Rice Noodles‘ which was quite different and rather boring compared to the first bowl. Now obviously they used the same tasty broth but it was missing the extra bit from the e-fu noodles and the rice noodles were so soft that I got really jealous of my friend’s mee pok version. The beef itself was fatty, difficult to bite and therefore the size of the slices just made it odd to chew so I left most of it sitting in the bowl eating around it.

Nothing special about this place with its’, let’s call it rustic interior and the bossy waitress telling us what to eat, if it wasn’t for the super brisket and e-fu noodles which perfectly brought us back on track and left us content and well prepared for our second night in town. I’ll come back.

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Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩
G/F 21 Gough Street (中環歌賦街21號地下)
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2850 5967

These Wings are Swiss

imageOne of my good buddies never stopped raving about this place in Causeway Bay that’s famous for it’s ‘Roasted Pigeon‘ and ‘Swiss Chicken Wings‘ (瑞士鸡翼). Since I just came back from breakfast in TST and it was a more convenient location I met my friends at their branch in Central instead.

The meat of the signature ‘TPK Roasted Young Pigeon‘ was dark and tasted similar to goose but was quite tough and not as easy to nibble off the bones. The skin was lovely crispy and glazed with a sweetish soya sauce that was cooked and concentrated together with the pigeon’s innards for deeper taste. This was my first ever pigeon and I actually really liked it just a little smallish maybe.

image The ‘TPK Swiss Sauce Chicken Wings‘ apparently have their name from a misunderstanding between a Western customer and a Chinese waiter mixing up “sweet” and “swiss”. The special soya sauce  with sugar and rice wine indeed was sweet but tasted great and the chicken was juicy and tender. I would have preferred the wings to be more grilled cause the skin wasn’t crispy or anything and rather wobbly and fatty. Nevertheless the special swiss sauce was a nice twist to the usual chicken wings you get.

I liked this restaurant, super friendly and attentive waiters, tea house setting in the middle of Hong Kong with dishes that are not your everyday fair so when having some time during future visits I might pop by for some more miniature goose.

Tai Ping Koon Restaurant 太平館餐廳
60 Stanley Street
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2899 2780
http://www.taipingkoon.com/

Back to My Taco Roots

imageI was at ‘Brickhouse’ for the first time a few years back and this is where I had my first proper corn tortilla taco. As always when coming to Hong Kong my schedule – my food schedule in particular – was packed full so I requested for a second dinner here a few hours after the ‘Double Happiness Cafe‘ and  when it became more likely to get a seat.

After starting up with some of their delicious ‘Diablas‘ (vodka, rasberry and jalapeno) I ordered a slap of three ‘Tacos‘ – beef, fish and pork. Startup was the ‘Ribeye Taco‘. They obviously make the corn tortillas themselves as they first had a more rustic look than their assembly line manufactured cousins and were also much thicker. Latter made them also slightly dry and starchy but I didn’t mind due to the fact how much effort they had put into making them. This one was layered with a couple of thin slices of lean steak and gratinated with some sharp tasting cheese, simply sprinkled with some cilantro and a dash of lemon. Not bad at all but quite cheesy. The fish was a bit dry which was partially resolved by the avocado, the chipotle like sauce and the coleslaw but I couldn’t help but remembering this one to have tasted better at my last visit. Lastly I attended to the ‘Pork Taco‘ with it’s nicely moist slow cooked meat and which used the same sauce and avocado topping as the fishy version. Great taste still.

I still love this place for it’s great food, the amazing drink(s) and the bustling atmosphere so that we were lucky to get a table even at 11:00 p.m. at night. Maybe next time I’ll try to queue up with the crowd upon opening and finally get to taste some other dishes like the ‘Do-It-Yourself Bone Marrow Tacos‘ that unfortunately weren’t available til late. Muchas Gracias.

Brickhouse
G/F, 20A D’Aguilar Street (via Bricklane)
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
http://www.brickhouse.com.hk/

Shanghainese Soul Food

imageI went hiking on the “Dragon’s Back” with a friend from Australia who accidentally was in town at the same time and without breakfast and real lunch I was super hungry when it got to dinner time. We all met up at the ‘Double Happiness Cafe’ in Soho for some Shanghainese fair which was one of the places my other friend wanted to bring me the night before to try out their ‘Dan Dan Noodles‘.

And so this was one of the first dishes we ordered. The bowl arrived piping hot which unfortunately cooked the noodles a little too soft and caused me burning myself on several occasions. There was a very strong peanutty flavor to the broth emphasized by the whole peanuts swimming around in there which also added some crunchy texture. The soup was creamy but not unpleasantly thick or heavy. The meat was nice and juicy with quite a few fatty chunks that I left aside. Nevertheless a lovely dish.

imagePretending to be healthy we ordered the crunchy and refreshing ‘Spicy Garlic Cucumber‘ with vinegar and the ‘Sichuan Style Vegetables‘ that consisted of cabbage, onions, peppers and broccoli and had a nice numbing punch.

imageI hardly leave any Chinese restaurant without having some dumplings if they have some so we ordered their ‘Steamed & Panfried Shanghainese Jiao Zi‘. They had a tasty skin which was a bit thicker and instead of chives they used preserved vegetables that gave the dumplings a unique taste I never had before.

imageMy hiking friend said she had to have the ‘Stir Fried Glutinous Rice Cake‘ which I never even heard of before so I was more than up for it. When it arrived it reminded me of the haloumi from the night before. The slices of panfried rice cake had a nice charred flavor and were much harder than I anticipated, a bit similar to squid. With the sweet savory glaze and the veggies this really worked well together and creatively used something as basic and plain as rice and turned it into a tasty, tasty dish.

imageWe were slowly filling up but had the ‘Roasted Pork Shanks with Herbs‘ left to tackle. The meat was quite tough and stuck to the bone but the spice rub tasted interestingly great with a strong hint of cinnamon.

I liked this place already for it’s name but also for the Chinese interior, the free welcome walnuts and above all the great food. I’m a huge fan of ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ and this sure is one I wouldn’t mind having again. Double happiness for everyone.

Double Happiness Cafe
48 Stauton Street
Soho, Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2549 1862