Monday, March 30, 2009

Hong Kong - Yee Shun Milk Company

The girl friend needed dessert even after all the sashimi and sushi. She was particularly hinting for steamed milk. Now, I haven't the slightest idea what steamed milk was, nor was I really in the mood for dessert when my stomach was longing for a break from an overdose of food. But I went along and we walked just a few blocks away to this Yee Shun Milk Company, apparently famous for their steamed milk desserts.

We each ordered something different - original for the girl, original topped with red beans for the growing boy and ginger flavour (?HK$21) for me. And oh, you can also choose between the hot or cold version.

Now, the appearance of the steamed milk was not unlike soy bean curd. But it was less dense and not as smooth. There was a distinct milk flavour and it was not further sweetened with syrup. I loved my dessert because there was just a slight hint of ginger so it was really refreshing, plus the dessert was very light when I thought it would be custardy and heavy. So, despite being so full, I slurped up every bit of it.

I strongly recommend for milk lovers to give this dessert a try when you are in Hong Kong.

Yee Shun Milk Company
G/F 506 Lockhart Road
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2591-1837
(several locations throughout HK)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hong Kong - Sushi Imamura

Josh, the owner of the famous HK food blog, Chaxiubao, readily agreed to meet up for dinner shortly after I contacted him.

"You are a fish person right? How about sushi?"

You can never go wrong with sushi.

With that, we were led to Sushi Imamura, located at this tall and non-descript building that amazingly houses nothing but levels and levels of restaurants and bars. As we stepped in to join Josh at the counter, I felt reassured to see a Japanese chef already hard at work serving a pair of Japanese ladies. I would later find out, he was none other than Take-chan, the chef/owner. Anyway, needless to say, I was excited about what the rest of the evening would bring.

We decided to save brainwork and go omakase. We started with some appetizers and then fresh sashimi, each kind served ala minute and piece by piece.

It must be the season for bivalves of all sort, because we got an enslaught of them. But because I am not a big fan of most of them, I could only remember the x-large oyster, which had just arrived earlier that day, and was huge that it could be cut into three sections. Served with a bit of lime and ponzu sauce, it was sublime and tasting every bit like the sea.

An interesting take on the geoduck sashimi was this version wrapped with crunchy cucumber and then with nori and sesame seeds. The latter ingredients lent their umami flavours to the otherwise tasteless geoduck and turned this "maki" into a tasty treat.

The most interesting item was definitely the shirouo. In fact, it is by far the most interesting thing I had ever eaten. These are very small transparent fish to be eaten alive. We were instructed to let them "dance" in the mouth first before finishing them off. They were surprisingly not very metallic in taste and the texture was a little bit similar to eating konnyaku.

We could not resist fresh uni when we found out they were available. Unfortunately, these ones were not as full of roe and not as creamy and rich as we had hoped for. I don't mean to imply they were bad, because they were good, just not as satisfying.

The other highlight for me was the kuruma ebi. This black shrimp is not commonly available. The body was plump and slightly chewy with a bit of bite. Its big head was later deep fried to be enjoyed as "prawn crackers".After our sashimi course, Take-san took over and made us our sushi. His sushi was beautifully made at just the right size. The rice tasted a little bit off balance, with the sour note a notch beyond my personal preference. Otherwise, they would have been perfect.

A couple of pieces were particularly memorable because of their appearance. One was this kohada sushi. I took a picture of Take-san plaiting the fish into this beautiful creation. He sauced it with his special house sauce before requesting for us to eat it as it was.

The other one was this shima aji sushi topped with a pickled sakura flower. The sourish flower contrasted with the fish, inevitably highlighting the sweetness from the fish.
The whole meal cost about HKD 1,200 per person, without sake or other drinks. Not cheap but certainly oishii deshita!

Sushi Imamura
523-527 Hennessy Road
16/F Continental Diamond Plaza
Causeway Bay

Tel: (+852) 28360035

Counting Blessings

Private Kitchen, originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.

When life lets me down, I never fail to lift myself back up by going back to basics, such as taking the time to appreciate things that people do for me. A good case in point: being invited to a private dinner and especially for me at that.

That meal was prepared by my friend KC and he had to work around my pescetarian diet. But he did a great job managing that, and in addition to the challenges of having to use someone else's kitchen.

The yummies in the tummies were:
Fresh langoustine sashimi 'yu sheng' - loved this!
Fresh raw oyster
Prawn coated with salted egg yolk - my next favourite if not for the shrimp being slightly overcooked.
Prawn with a bread crumb coating
Crispy noodles with red garoupa - an unique interpretation of the HK-style 'sang meen'. interesting.
Char Kway Teow with seared scallops - upmarket take on a local hawker food. very spicy though.
Lime sherbet with fresh berries - totally refreshing after the intense heat earlier.

Food was only part of the great evening but I had really good company as well. So thank you all for making me feel really lucky and special.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Oriole Cafe & Bar - Excellent Fish and Chips!

The Whitebait and Kale at Camden has closed its shutters for good earlier this week. I was a great fan of their beer-battered fish and chips and lamented the loss, until I tried the version at Oriole Cafe & Bar, a new concept by the same folks at WB&K.

The restaurant is tucked within an upclass looking service apartment in downtown Orchard. Convenient, yet not in your face. The setting is quite stylish, dazzling brass chandeliers, orangey lights, booth seatings, centre-island bar top complete with bar seats. I found it rather bistro-like /classic European. The whole feel was casual, but chic.

Being a bar, there is alcohol served of course and you can get yourself a beer, or something from the small selections of cocktails and wines. I have to mention that there is happy hour from 5pm to 8pm, one for one on beer and housepours . Thought that is a good deal.

If alcohol is not what your cup of tea, try the coffee. The trained baristas are award winning and so, you are guaranteed pretty foam art :)

When you are at Oriole, try the fish and chips. For $15++, it is definitely another great find. There were three very decent portions of very fresh snapper fillets, coated with the thinnest casing of crust, almost obligatory if you ask me. The most important thing was that the fish was fresh and not overdone at all, the latter point which I find is the biggest challenge cooking with seafood.

The chips were fried with, and served together with whole garlic cloves that caramelised and softened under high temperature. The chunky-cut fries were a tad overdone and hence, dry. Good thing they had a delicious toss in salt and dried herbs (I think it was parsley).

The dish was topped with some parmesan shavings peppered around the fries, lending an additional granular texture and salty /smokey flavour. Pairing the garlic and cheese with the fish and chips seemed strange but it worked.

The only gripe was that the basket that it was served in made it rather inconvenient to eat with a fork and knife. Maybe next time I'd go natural and use my fingers.

The service was professional but not over the top or in your face. I think I found a new hangout in town.

Oriole Cafe & Bar
96 Somerset Road #01-01
Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
Tel: 65 6238 8348