Archive

Tag Archives: pork

Happy New Year, readers and friends! I hope 2014 brings us all much food and happiness, and maybe quite a few more HK numb posts…  I am thoroughly excited about what this year holds, namely finally being settled in HK in Summer and all that that entails – mostly food and certain boy.

For those of you who were hungover on that chilly New Year’s Day, I’m sure you’d agree not much beats a warm bowl of ramen from Butao.  Lucky for the ‘dark siders’ of Hong Kong  (I know, I hate that term too), Butao and Din Tai Fung have recently opened branches in Sha Tin New Town Plaza.  I dont know about you, but my hungover afternoons will never be the same; xiao long bao and tonkotsu right next to eachother, and close to home?!  Aww yeah, watch my belly grow ho ho ho.

I have to admit: I was a Butao virgin before they opened in Sha Tin, so I’m not sure how this compares to the original shop in Lanks.  As it was my first time, I was – as I’m sure you can imagine – innocent and naive about what was in store.  Waiting for my ticket to be called gave me a little anticipatory anxiety, especially after hearing everyone else talking about it these last few years.  Before this, sometimes I’d think, “Why don’t you just do it already?  Just get it over with, everyone else has.” but I don’t know, I guess the romantic in me just wanted it to be special, that I should wait til I was ready… or til they opened a branch closer to home.

I guess you could say for my first-time I kept it vanilla – I went for the classic Butao ($83) with normal thin noodles. Nothing overdone or elaborate, of course – I’m not that kind of girl – but I did get a couple extra sides here and there.  Nothing wrong with a bit of fork play, after all.

IMG_2261

IMG_2263

IMG_2264So, was it worth the wait?  Well, yes.  I didn’t need to wait in a mile-long queue, and was never appealed by the thought of going to Central by 10am to be one of the first-served (I feel similarly about the Ichiran hype), so this branch was definitely worth the wait.  I loved the original broth, which I think is more flavourful and unctuous than the Ippudo brand.  However, I was quite disappointed with the pork belly, which seemed comparatively tasteless and lacking.  I also would’ve preferred harder noodles, so I amended this on my next visit.

IMG_2266Andrew ordered the Black King ($93) which I found far too heavy.  Perhaps for this and the Green King (which features cheese and olive oil), opting for a lighter strength would’ve made it easier to slurp down.  It was a nice alternative, but I’m glad I stuck to the original.

The next time we came though, I wanted it harder and hotter.

IMG_2329[1]I loved the Red King ($93).  I guess I’m not much of a purist when it comes to Butao cos I would definitely order this again and again over the original – but only just.  I opted for harder noodles (better) and Butao’s special spicy sauce on top of the already spicy broth.  The broth wasn’t outlandishly spicy, but its kick was addictive to the point I pretty much emptied the bowl of soup. The Japanese marinated egg’s ($17) runny yolk was the perfect neutraliser though whenever I needed a cool down. Like the other ‘Kings’, it has a little pork mince ball in the center, in addition to your selected meat.  Being disappointed with the pork belly on last visit, we tried the pork butt and found it to be much tastier and less fatty.

I do like how Butao lets you customise your ramen, but it is indeed somewhere that you need to go more than once to get your ideal bowl.  Which I don’t mind in the slightest.

Happy hangover, Hong Kong!  Keep eating, stay sexy.

Advertisements

Following from the crepe post, I give you more crepe.  Didn’t see that coming did you?  My friend Alison Cheng, who has written for Dear HK, has taken some lovely photos for bánh xèo that she’s let me use today.  Watch out for more of the Ms. Cheng’s contributions on the HK numb, or feel free to contact her on alisonc.cheng@gmail.com if you like what you see.

7

alisoneats

Heavily influenced by French cuisine, Vietnamese food is full of French-inspired gems like the increasingly popular banh mi, and bo kho (similar to a French beef stew, even served with a chunk off a baguette!).

Banh xeo is another a favourite of mine.  This Vietnamese version of a savoury crepe is too darn delicious, especially when the shrimp is freshly caught and the beansprouts are only just-cooked, still maintaining that delicate crunch with the rest of the sizzling cake.  I felt so high on life the first time I had a banh xeo in Vietnam – I think I was in Hue – that I ended up getting inked like an idiot straight after.  Might have had something to do with the red wine too…

Read More

18/F, The One, 100 Nathan Road, TST

Actress Carina Lau has recently opened three ventures on the 18th Floor of The One: Tapagria, Kyo-Shun and Zurrolia.  Andrew and I chose to check out Tapagria for a more casual Spanish dine in. Zurrolia, also on this floor, is the fine-dining alternative.

Unsure what to expect, but secretly aching for an authentic, masterfully concocted sangria, I crossed my fingers desperately.  One sip from their deep red jar of Wild Berry ($330; 1/2: $290), embellished with blackberries and all manners of sweetness in Cachaça, and my fingers weren’t the only things happily loosened.

I do remember looking at their food menu online as I was on my way  (read: trying to work out the frustrating puzzle of elevators and lifts leading up to this mysterious floor at The One), and wondered dismally if the illustrations were a half-assed Windows Accessories Paint job.  I suppose, in some ways, one shouldn’t judge the restaurant by its menu.

IMG_1846The stand-out was without a doubt the paella*!  Incredibly rich, perfectly-seasoned rice was jeweled with a few fresh treasures from the sea – mussels, clams, and prawns.  I loved the delicious depth of flavour, and might have to admit that it’s probably one of the better paellas I’ve tasted in Hong Kong.  Sadly, it’s tapas-sized, so you might have to be the better man and let your partner steal away the lone prawn.

Read More

Image

The boyfriend and I went to Bali for a long weekend holiday.  It was delicious.  We fell in love with a few Balinese and Padang dishes, and I definitely have a new-found respect for Indonesian cuisine – or specifically, Balinese cuisine.  I’m just waiting now for any old lovable prick on Hong Kong island to start up an overpriced ‘Indonesian tapas’ restaurant slash bar slash lounge slash club slash “Satay Saturdays but we’ll still charge way more than what’s moral ha ha” with, of course, a no-reservations policy.  I might actually have to line up for this one.  Seriously.  You say sambal, I say how high.

We were after 3 things in Bali, so I’ll subhead the posts as follows for easy reading: pig, seafood and catpoop. All with the occasional mojito.

pig

Bali, a Hindu province in a mostly-Muslim Indonesia, has become a foodie sanctuary for the most delicious suckling pig, better known in Bali as Babi Guling.  We knew our first stop had to be Ibu Oka – an institution for the revered pork – that was popularized by Anthony Bourdain in No Reservations.  The moment Andrew and I heard the ‘crack’ of that pork skin on the telly, it was nothing but belly on our minds.

Ibu Oka

Jalan Tegal Sari No. 2, Ubud, 80571

Image

Read More

1/F, 63 Wyndham Street, Central

IMG_1588[1]One step inside Restoration and you feel transported.  Scattering the space is the eclectic yet elegant touch of New Orleans decor, with rooms dimly lit yet still lovingly warm and inviting.  Bar stool diners had a better view of Chef Jack Carson and the team in the hot kitchen, but our table was cosy, humble and gave us enough privacy.  From the window-side, one could look down from the first floor to the seemingly distant Wyndham Street and grating pace of Hong Kong’s party district.

What looked like painted and restored vintage furniture pieces could be found in the corners of your eyes, in the small details but in a big way.  A few quaint gerber daisies at the center of our table was the clincher, bringing me somewhere I’ve surely never been.  But immediately, I felt at home, or at least somewhere familiar.  The service was similarly warm, as well as knowledgeable and attentive.

I was excited to taste what I already felt comforted by: The Big Easy.

Read More

It must be said, I was never a fan of Macau.  The last time I visited was almost five years ago, before the City of Dreams and Venetian and all that Vegas jazz.  As you might imagine, I was taken aback when we drove down the Cotai Strip (still undergoing some construction in parts) with the palm trees and main road leading up to something reminiscent of a mini-golf version of Vegas, with the sun blinding you through the small cab windows because no silhouette of skyscrapers decided to block its glare.  I managed to catch a glimpse of street corners with pebblestone pavement intermingling with both the glassy fronts and wooden shutters of uneven, period-clashing buildings, with similarly uneven, cobblestone steps gallivanting in the city scape next to modern, glossy escalators.  I’m not sure whether I liked this landscape; I wasn’t sure whether it was simply confused or capriciously eccentric.  But I wasn’t here for the view, unless that view was set upon some tableware, between a knife and fork, some chopsticks, a little white linen napkin… or maybe even just in between my thumb and forefinger.

And so, cue the pork buns (豬扒包).

IMG_1281[1]

Read More

Shop 210, Silvercord Tower, 30 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

I’ve been eating out quite a bit lately.  And there are quite a few notable foodie moments that I am excited to share with WordPress (foodbite: a sous-vide wagyu ribeye at Shore…), but my sister and her hubby’s  just left back to Boston, so I think I’m going to dedicate my next blog to our little trip to Tsim Sha Tsui.

There’s something quite classy about getting messy on sake.  Or maybe I’m just saying that to justify a lack of self-restraint.  But there is an art to drinking sake, I’m sure – an art to not scalding your tongue on the first lip lash and welcoming the warm rush down your throat, an art to maintaining your cool even after slugging hot liquid silk as if your number at Ippudo’s going to get called any minute (which it won’t, by the way; you just wait that goddamn hour like a trooper, dammit).

My sister and I have a history of excessive drinking (in b4 ‘you are an alcoholic’).  We only realised after we totaled one too  many cups of sake that we should never hang out with eachother when a drink is in the mix.  Although, our last tour-de-force was in Philippines in 2008, so perhaps it was a long time coming; we went through three bottles of Jose Cuervo that night, and only stopped because the bar didn’t have any more in stock – or so they said.  No chasers, no nothing, just a rampage of tequila and kareoke.  We still have no idea how we managed it, and I’m starting to think my present tolerance with such vices are somehow rooted to that night.  How the flying fuck?  Honestly.  One of life’s great mysteries.  Another, by the by, is how they make the pork in Ippudo so damn delicious:

Read More

466-472 Nathan Road, Yau Ma Tei
油麻地彌敦道466-472號地下

Yokozuna 橫綱 in Yau Ma Tei has been around since 1987.  That’s 24 years of culinary perseverance in a crammed Tokyo-style 24-seat restaurant, with a minimum 30-minute waiting line of people that realise the lengths one has to go to for some serious ramen in Hong Kong.  Rumour has it the Japanese head chef left a couple years ago (or maybe more recently than this, although I’ve yet to find any reliable sources) so it was handed over to some Chinese owners, and I suppose if we’re going to be particular about the broth, some were lacking in either the thickness or complexity that apparently Butao Ramen in Soho is now renowned for.

Read More

G/F, 1 Whampoa Street, Hung Hom
紅磡黃埔街1號地下

I’ve never really been a fan of Hung Hom, particularly the MTR station and its exits which never seem to lead anywhere in particular, surrounded by all sorts of public transportation that never seem to offer a way to the places I want to go!  Countless a time I’ve exited B1 or B2 and just walked around in circles before ending up at the same exit.  I don’t know whether it’s just me and my poor sense of direction but I’ve always had such a problem getting around there.  It also reminds me more of China than Hong Kong, so I just end up feeling more lost than ever.

Pair this with the fact my only real memories of Hung Hom have been of me and friends lugging our typical white kid sports equipment after school to some field hockey match at King’s Park, when all I really wanted to do after a shit day at school was to buy some McD’s, have a fag and pass out in the comfort of my much-loved but consistently neglected bed.  God, I don’t miss high school, and I never missed those trips to Hung Hom.

So imagine my excitement when a friend of mine said that we’d be meeting there for our next foodie mission.

I tried to swallow all my initial fears and prejudices towards the place when I was told that this was the place to go for some authentic, good Sichuan in Hong Kong – if we could find it.  Apparently, the place closes for a couple weeks every month so that the owner can go to Sichuan to get all the spices, so my friend had to check to make sure it was open before we legged it.  But how legit is that?  We’re talking all those crazy Sichuan peppercorns, the pickled chilis, pastes, fermented black beans.  To be fair, I’ve only ever passed through Sichuan province on a 36 hour train-ride so I’m not even sure what real Sichuan food is meant to taste like, other than ridiculously mouth-numbing; mind-numbing even, to the point that your brain can’t even deduce between pain and pleasure, and releases a confused brand of endorphins into your bloodstream so you feel this kind of tortured euphoria.  What a fucking high.

I was in Guangxi province once and I remember we had some backpackers from Chengdu who kept on complaining about how mild the food was there.  I thought they were just being cocky, but when you see the film of chili oil on every fucking Sichuanese dish, piled with even more roughly cut pickled chili, I suppose one’s entitled to that kind of food-bashing…

Read More