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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

Prawn Dumpling Galore

imageI had checked out of my apartment and my friend picked me up to have a quick bite before I left for Singapore. On the way to Central Station we passed a little underground branch of a popular restaurant chain recommended in one of the past Michelin Guides – ‘Tsim Chai Kee’.

They didn’t have many dishes to chose from but since we needed something after a rough night we ordered their signature ‘Wanton Noodles‘ with sliced beef and prawn dumplings. They also had shredded fishballs as add on but since I genuinely dislike those I totally didn’t care.

Not even five minutes after ordering our bowls already arrived and looked promising. I’m usually not a big fan of prawn dumplings but these ones were actually pretty decent. Fully stuffed with big chunks of prawn this was exactly what I needed. The beef on the other hand was as expected super tenderized and as wobbly meat grosses me out most of it stayed in the bowl. The noodles were lovely yellow and eggy with a firm bite to them and the broth was well seasoned and tasted like a strong concentrated chicken soup.

Definitely not many points on the interior design scale but a cheap and decent noodle fix after a long night, no question.

Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 沾仔記
Basement, 154 Queen’s Road Central
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2581 3369

Meat Heaven is Close

imageThe evening of the actual farewell party had arrived and to kick off the night we had a guys dinner before meeting up with the girls for some drinking games in Wan Chai. My mate chose the ‘Blue Butcher’ which was just a 2 minute walk away from the apartment that I had rented for the weekend.

For starters we had besides others the ‘Truffle Fries‘ that were actually made with real truffles rather than truffle oil and tasted great and crisp.

imageAnother one was the ‘Bone Marrow‘ that came together with delicious crusty toasted bread, some arugula with caper berries and sea salt. Putting all ingredients together this became a delicious combination of flavors.

imageThen we had the ‘Compressed Organic Tomato with Burrata‘ which consisted of green and red tomatos that were skinned and glazed with a light tasteless oil as well as a knot of burrata cheese. The cheese was light with only a very little creamy center which I liked but real burrata fanatics might feel let down by. The tomatoes on the other side were refreshingly cool and had a clean tomato-y taste with a nice texture. This was pretty okay but still kinda just tomatoes.

As mains we ordered the ‘Australian Wagyu Bone in Ribeye‘ 32 ounces rare and the ‘Free Range Charred French Chicken‘. The steak was absolutely amazing in quality and taste. It had a strong char on the outside so the fat had melted and the inside was wonderful red and moist with a lovely marbling and a good fatty flavor mixing with the beef aroma. Brilliant. The chicken came accompanied by some crunchy caramelized carrots and was wonderful moist and glazed with slightly sweetish sauce. Tasty stuff.

The ‘Blue Butcher’ is a stylish and modern place that sure comes with a price tag but therefore you’ll get a great ambience and some amazing food. Nothing for every day dining but definitely a place for a special night. Pretty good.

The Blue Butcher
108 Hollywood Road
Central
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2613 9286
http://www.bluebutcher.com/

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/

Very Very Little Medium Spicy

imageWithout fail this is the one place I always come back to since my first time I visited Hong Kong when I found this just around the corner of the hotel I stayed at in Tsim Sha Tsui. The noodles here literally burnt themselves into my memory as I firstly underestimated their spice level and paid the price for it big time. It was supposed to be breakfast but since I stayed in Sheung Wan this time around the trip to Kowloon pushed it all more into the lunch zone.

For the first time I didn’t challenge myself going up another spice level as I really wanted to taste all the ingredients for once, pure self-discipline. Because I couldn’t 100% figure it out I researched what ‘Yunnan‘ or ‘Crossing the Bridge Noodles‘ broth is usually made of and many sources suggested that it comes from boiling a fat chicken together with pork bones which totally made sense knowing it. I thought there was some beef stock in there as well though as the soup had this natural sour touch to it. The spicy minced pork I added gave it just the litte pep it needed without making me sweat and added extra meaty flavors to the dish. I went full on with the greens and loved the extra portion coriander, leek and green onions that enhanced the whole thing with freshness. All above the noodles were plenty – naturally I ordered large – and awesome. They were thin and surprisingly springy and chewy considering the steaming heat of the soup should have cooked them to mushy strings, I was happy it didn’t.

Now that I know how the original base tastes I can return to climbing up the nine spoke ladder picking up at level seven where I last left off. I will be coming back here every time again and again as it is still under my top favorite bowls of noodles in Asia and never gets old or boring. “Very spicy” here I come.

Sing Lum Khui Rice Noodle House 星林居雲南米線餐廳
Shop A, G/F, No. 23 Lock Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2416 2424

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/