Thanks again BlueBalu for checking out HK numb!

bluebalu: Living in Hong Kong

HK Numb is one of the blogs that I’ve always kept my eyes on – lots of interesting restaurants that Irene reviewed, but then she stopped posting to concentrate on her studies and her life. I was hoping for her to return to the blogging world, and so she did – she’s back now and there are lots of interesting blog posts on her blog. I’m glad to have her back and her posts are one of the firsts one I check in my RSS reader!

Interview with HK Numb

Even if she claims it’s ‘just another food blog’ it is a very interesting one to read! She’s been to some of the well-known restaurants, such as Liberty Private Works or the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse, but also some less well-known ones such as Butao Ramen in Sha Tin and Lobintan in the Festival Walk. Plus there’s also a section with home cooked food

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Life is a combination of magic and pasta – Federico Fellini

DiVino is a great place to hang out and have a few drinks, especially since it’s located on Wazzzhappenin’ Wyndham.  The staff are so genial, and make sure it’s never a dull night in this wine bar and resto.

The first time I had dinner here we were blown away by the quality of their homemade pasta.  The home-made black pepper tagliatelle with venison ragout and garnished with Pecorino, for example, excites me every time I see it on the menu.  Luxurious slow-cooked wild venision hind generously covers the peppery thick ribbons with flair and unparalleled richness.

For those that prefer only a hint of chili and spice, humble spaghetti is given an Italian suit of white wine clams, found in their ‘Newcomers’ section.  The spaghetti is always cooked perfectly al dente, and at the same time, is cooked with the white wine sauce long enough so the flavours stick.  Like the Maine lobster linguine, which has a heavier bisque-like flavour, the dish is appreciatively generous with the seafood.

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The signature here is the 500 grams of Burrata DOP with Italian cherry tomatoes and a red onion salad, which I unfortunately have not tried (currently searching for a fellow cheese lover to share this with me).  The beef carpaccio, served with arugula salad, Parmesan cheese shavings, and artichoke hearts, is more than fair recompense.  You might also be able to change to a Bresaola if you’re not too keen on raw meat.  Slightly sweet but aged, lean yet melting, the Bresaola (below) is a fitting appetiser to that big pasta main.

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Andrew also has a soft spot for the French fries with black truffle mayonnaise.  They use hefty chunks of black truffle so this is not for the faint hearted.  I’m not crazy for the fries themselves, as I prefer sizes closer to shoestring – these are rather chunky.

At the moment, the DiVino group is taking part in white truffle season, with their ALBA truffles specially imported from Italy.


Website | Openrice | Yelp

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.” – Dostoyevsky

Throwback to the cutest little teapot, spotted in a quaint London cafe.  Hong Kong weather like this reminds me of when I was last in London.  London is an incredibly walkable city, with a good local cafe or pub to greet you on every corner, depending on the time of day.  Hong Kong, comparatively, isn’t a city for walking.  Partly because it feels like you can’t waste time here.

I’ve stopped drinking coffee regularly for almost a year now, and had green tea brewing in this pot if I remember correctly.  I love masala chai, and the chai latte at Starbucks makes me miss my espresso less.  A milky English breakfast tea just about hits the spot too.

And you, readers?  Coffee, tea?  How do you guys take it?

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Keep warm.

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After some of the busiest weeks, and Jackie and Alex’s wonderful wedding weekend, I am so ready to relax and pig-out.  Something in the neighbourhood suits me just fine: close and convenient, Buddy’s Kitchen is a copacetic choice for casual Western dining.  The menu is offered simply, but the plates that swing out of this neat open kitchen are but perfectly executed.

Our favourites can actually be found on the cheaper dinner set menus. The squid ink risotto doesn’t simply feed you; it’s smooth, rich, and refined in all the right places, with a delicious bite.  Tall, dark, and handsome, this babe waltzes you all the way home feeling like a million bucks and I can honestly say I’ve never had better.

The steaks are equally generous and served with some pretty fabulous fries and Bearnaise. And if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know desserts aren’t usually on my agenda, but this creme brulee made with pandan leaf is a homely take on a French classic.

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Openrice: http://www.openrice.com/restaurant/sr2.htm?shopid=150490

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Overpriced fishballs usually make me really angry.  But these peppered pork tripe beef balls at The Lobintan remind me of those “explosive pissing beef balls” in the Hong Kong classic, “God of Cookery”.  I really don’t think I can express it better than Stephen Chow’s comedy brilliance, so let me just leave you with this:

The balls are $34 for 7 pieces.  7 pieces of bouncy heaven.

You can find this little food truck near one of the entrances at Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong.

Ever since my shitty main course at Bread Street Kitchen (to be fair: it was soft opening), I have been slowly shifting my home-chef loyalties from Ramsay to Jamie.  The way I’m starting to see it:  Jamie teaches you how to use leftover meat, and is a sweetheart to chickens, whilst Ramsay tells you that your gourmet meat is raw and throws it in the bin.  Now that’s just wasteful.

So I came across a recipe for panzanella by Jamie here:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/panzanella-tuscan-tomato-bread-salad

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad that uses tomatoes and leftover bread.  Not much, you say, but the dressing of vinegar, anchovies, and good extra virgin olive oil, gives this loaf something to get soaked about.  Wikipedia references the 16th-century artist and poet Bronzino, who actually calls the salad “another pleasure of this life” (“altro piacer di questa vita”) and I’m not one to disagree.

The red onions Jamie recommends in his recipe, are macerated till heavenly sweet and soft by the red wine vinegar.  This, combined with the strong saltiness of the anchovies, is something the poor Caprese would cry home to his mama about, basil leaves tucked between his mozzarella balls.

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I served this salad with a whole roasted chicken – crispy, but still moist because of a whole forked lemon that I stuff inside its cavity like no tomorrow.  You might’ve noticed the Aquarius in the corner of that photo – my go-to drink when I’m hungover.  If I can make a dinner like this when I’m hungover, there is no way anyone could screw this up.  Stale bread, tomatoes, and dressing – get it done!

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God love vinegar soaked carbs.

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Photo by Pauline Mak (Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0)

Why read me?  One whiff of the last few months of dead air at the HK numb and apologetically, you might have asked yourself that question more than once.

Unless, perhaps, you’ve been rifling through the archives and actually don’t mind being out of the loop with Hong Kong’s dining trends, instead finding eateries that don’t expect you to be waiting gratefully outside on a hot humid Saturday night.  If you’re like me, that’s probably why you’re still reading the HK numb, and I thank you for that.

Ultimately, the HK numb is around because not everyone is a fan of the pretension and, dammit – sometimes all a girl just wants to do is eat.

Now, I like a good fine dine as much as the next gluttonous fuck (and I have often posted my trips here), but I’m going to try and take a new approach with the Numb now that I’m back here for good.

First, I hope that my adventures in Hong Kong will permit me to be unconstrained by the often clichéd and colourless expat’s binary of “Hong Kong Island” and “Oh God No- Everywhere Else”.   I’ve spent most of my twenty-four years in Hong Kong living and working outside the island – New Territories, Kowloon, and the outlying Islands – and can attest to the amazing food choices in these areas that hardly see the light of day in many English-writing blogs.  For shame!

Secondly, I love cooking, so there’s definitely going to be more of that. Cooking in Hong Kong kind of sucks because there are so many food choices outside your tiny kitchen, so you really need to make sure whatever you’re cooking at home doesn’t make you regretful over an un-dialed KFC number.

So that’s that.  Let’s get started, shall we?

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve updated the site.  My dissertation was finished in good time, don’t worry; and yes, I graduated, finally; and yes, I am still ravenous, some things never change.

Since the start of Summer, I’ve been engaged in a number of freelance/part-time projects, including scouting for Yelp HK.  Yelp Hong Kong has officially gone live today, and I’m sure it’s going to have a lot of traction with the Hong Kong public.  I wanted to post the official Yelp badge here but the HTML isn’t working, so instead, please check out my full reviews on the Yelp page here.  And be my friend!  – I have no friends.  (I assume the best way to make friends is by using the imperative tense, no?)

Level 5, JW Marriott Hotel Hong Kong, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty

As you might be aware, I was back in HK for Christmas. One of the first meals I had was at the new Flint Bar & Grill on the 5th floor of the JW Marriot Hotel.  A and I were looking for something casual yet refined – the perfect setting for a “first” date after being in London so long.  We were definitely attracted to Flint because of the ambiance – it sold us on being spacious, bold and impressive in its decor.  The service was also pretty memorable; our server was hospitable and very knowledgeable about the menu.

IMG_2251However, unfortunately the food itself didn’t leave much of a first impression.  To be fair, we had set out for a surf & turf kind of night, and when we sat down to hear that the signature 64-day aged Nebraskan rib eye and sirloin was unavailable (at 8pm), we didn’t know what to order and what to do.  We were headless chickens in a steakless abyss, clucking for the cow that never came.

I do believe Flint is deserving of a second chance because of this, but I’m afraid my Christmas quota isn’t for second chances.  The Openrice reviews on their veal cheek signature have made a second go in the near future more optimistic… So long as they don’t run out of that item too.

IMG_2254Our server directed us around the cocktail menu and Specials while we stewed in the winter of our beef-less discontent and poked at the warm bread rolls.

IMG_2244Flint does not provide a drinks menu on the site and I, being an amateur blogger after so long away from the scene, apologetically forgot to note the prices and names down for these cocktails.  Shame because these were probably the highlights of the night.  The above was their Mai Tai signature, strong and sweet.  I particularly enjoyed chewing on their addictive pineapple crisp.  The dried lime wedge, comparatively, is not to be chewed on – I learned that the bitterly hard way.  The other cocktails below were also delicious and carefully constructed.

IMG_2253 This was a warm Gold Label whisky cocktail with orange peel and cinnamon.  Recommended.

IMG_2252I loved the detail of putting the straw in the lemongrass stick.  I can’t remember the details of this but I did ask for something fresh and sweet and it did not disappoint.

IMG_2250We opted for the baked oysters ($160), but unfortunately the fresh oyster meat either lacked taste or couldn’t come close to the overwhelming cheesiness that drowned all in that half-shell.  I refer to the pancetta bits and spinach that have hopefully gone to a better place now, their names but writ in melted cheese.

IMG_2249If I didn’t see that little brown ball hidden beneath the foliage, I might’ve forgotten what this dish was.  The duck foie gras and wagyu croquettes ($160) were soft and rich but unfortunately underseasoned.  However, it paired well with the tartness of the fig reduction.  The dill was also a nice addition, as it delivered something clean and fresh to an otherwise heavy dish.  The parsley and the rest just seemed a little slapdash and unnecessary for me.

IMG_2247The seafood grill ($380) is often ordered in reviews I’ve seen, and I suppose it was one of the happier moments in the meal.  This was generally well-executed seafood: the mussels were fresh; a sweet, fat, juicy scallop was tempting me in sizzles on the hot stone plate; the lobster thermidor came with a substantial amount of roe and juiciness still in tact; and the prawn was sizable and nicely seasoned.  The only qualm I had was with the ‘catch of the day’ – I’m not even sure what fish this was.  The skin was soggy, and the flesh was only remedied after being dunked in the little pot of that rich, heavenly lobster bisque.

IMG_2246We then ordered one of the ‘specials’ – a lamb rump (spelled ‘rumb’ on the chalkboard and Specials card, but I assume they meant rump?) with a black truffle polenta and grilled baby courgettes.  Out of the entire dish, I think I was mostly a fan of the decadent polenta with gravy – also very rich and flavourful.  The lamb was in parts was inedible – if you look at the picture, you can see how it’s mostly fat.  It was rather disappointing that they’d serve us a cut like that.  Definitely not what I was expecting.

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For sides, we were set on some sauteed mushrooms ($80) in garlic butter and parsley.  It wasn’t too garlicky, which I appreciated because it let the lovely mushroomy flavours come out on the plate.  I also liked how varied the assortment was, as it gave us a lot of different textures.  All in all, this side was simple and well executed, and definitely hit the spot when everything else seemed to fall short.

I read somewhere that one of the (few) perks of being in a long-distance relationship is that every date when you’re together feels like a first date.  Not sure if this is entirely true as I like to think on our actual first date I didn’t eat myself into the form of a fat, sleepy panda…  But more importantly, we’re also a little more blunt about what we want to eat and what dishes we liked.  Flint has a wonderful space, great service, delicious drinks, and solid-sounding menu (although I can’t really understand how charging $50 for a fried free-range egg is justified), but A and I both agreed that the execution of our dishes that night left us yearning for just a little more.

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