Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Amber - Central, Hong Kong

Being a 2 star michelin restaurant, Amber certainly did not disappoint. Amber is located inside The Landmark. Central can be a quite complicated area as all the malls are somehow connected and at times we are not sure which mall we are actually in. Amber is inside Mandarin Oriental hotel and the entrance to the hotel from the mall isn't in a very obvious spot so we gave ourselves some time to find the restaurant. 

We visited Hong Kong last Christmas and we decided to try a Michelin restaurant. During Christmas time, malls in Hong Kong always have festive decoration and this was the decoration inside Landmark. 

We made reservation for 3 course lunch for $548HKD/ per person. We got seated quick quickly and I have to say the service was impeccable. The menu changes every season. 

After we got our drinks, the waiter took our orders very quickly. We were then served by another waiter with various bread options. 

Soon after, the waiter brought over several amuse bouche for starter. The first is what looks like a lollipop but it's actually a cherry coated foie gras with a slice of beets. This is their signature amuse bouche.  Both of us are not fans of foie gras. It would not be something we would order. To my surprise, the two components actually went very well together. The foie gras inside is mousse like texture and melts in your mouth. The cherry flavour was quite strong which overpowered the foie gras flavour sightly. I still enjoyed it because the foie gras flavour wasn't that strong. I don't like the gaminess of foie gras.  

Amuse-Bouche: foie gras lollipop coated with cherry 

Then we had this bite size lemongrass crab roll. I really enjoyed this. The crab flavour was strong and the roll was quite crunchy. The lemongrass added another texture to the crab and brought it to another level. It was fried perfectly, not burnt but just right that you can bite into it and there would not be flakes falling out from the shell. 

Amuse-Bouche: Lemongrass crab roll 

This was a pork croquette. We were warned by the waiter to eat this in one bite as there would be juices coming out. The juices in there were still slightly hot so be careful when you eat this. The breaded shell was really delicious as the shell was not too thick and the shell was fried perfectly. This was a very interesting dish, though I have to say I like the other two amuse bouches better.

Amuse-Bouche: Pork Croquette

For appetizer, I ordered the oysters with green apples, pickled cucumber, greens and yoghurt. First, I have to say the presentation is awesome, there are so many elements in each dish that whenever it is served, Calvin and I took a while to admire the presentation and the elements of each dish. 

Vancouver is known for fresh oysters. So coming to HK, I wanted to see what the oysters in HK would taste like in a 2 star michelin restaurant. I have to say I still like the oysters in Vancouver better because it is fresher but the combination of flavours added freshness to the dish with the apples, cucumbers and yoghurt. It was definitely a very refreshing dish to start the meal. 

Appetizer: Royal Cabanon Oysters - served over pickled kyuri cucumber jell-O, greek 'hung' yogurt, fresh green apple sorbet 

Calvin had the chicken terrine. I am not a fan of terrine so I didn't really like it. I ate it with the bread and it was really good. Right balance of flavours and the chicken jus is just so clarified as you can tell with the picture. The parsley jel didn't have much flavour to it.

Appetizer: Challan corn-fed chicken - galantine over poultry jell-O with italian parsley gel, country bread 'tartine' with chicken jus & virgin hazelnut oil

As I mentioned above, I am not a fan of foie gras because of its gaminess. When I was deciding on which dish to get for my main, I asked the waiter as I wasn't sure what to get. The waiter said he really liked the pigeon, so even though it has foie gras in it, I decided to give it a try. The presentation may not look as fancy as the other dishes, but there is still lots of detail. There are 3 pigeon legs on the apple and the legs were so juicy. The legs were smaller than the ones Chinese people would normally eat. 

So this was basically pigeon breast crusted with foie gras and this dish was so good. I never thought I would say this, but this dish made me love foie gras. Because the foie gras was pan seared, it basically melted in my mouth and took away the gaminess I was already afraid of. The breast was obviously very juicy but to me, the foie gras definitely stole the show here. I was savouring the foie gras with every bite. 

Main: Mieral bresse piegeon - breast with foie gras farce on toast, the cripsy pigeon leg over roasted salsify with raw & cooked granny smith apple

Sorry for the disgusting picture, but wanted to show what the inside looked like. You can see the breast underneath the foie gras crust. As you can see, I couldn't stop eating and was pretty much devouring the whole dish. I didn't mention the apples in the dish because I didn't care for them after I started eating the breast. I have to mention the jus was really good though, has very strong pigeon flavour and rendered to very clear. 

Calvin had the fish. He was debating between the seabass and pollack. Since both of us never tried pollack before, that was what he chose. We both agreed that that was the best fish we've ever had. The fish was cooked to perfection; it was super flaky. The meat just falls off. The skin was super crispy. The four cylinders around the fish were potatoes with leek and parsley. The potatoes added another texture to the dish. They also cooked that to perfection. They were not too hard nor too soft. 

Main: line caught pollack - oasted on crispy sour dough bread, organic lemon peel 
new potatoes, cockles, leek & italian parsley

After main, we were given this palette cleanser which reminded me of Haagen Daz ice cream bar. It was definitely very refreshing to our palette although the coconut flavour wasn't very strong. 

Palette cleanser: Chocolate dipped coconut ice cream bar

For Dessert, I chose the william pear. The other options were seasonal berries and chocolate cremeux with ice cream and glaze.

Again, great presentation. What caught my attention was the extra virgin olive oil caviar. I never thought to include olive oil in a dessert. I tried the olive oil with the dessert but I couldn't really taste it as olive oil though it was an interesting taste. The pear was poached nicely with the wine and the sorbet complimented the pear very well.

Dessert: William Pear -  poached in fragrant spiced shiraz red wine, black current sorbet & extra virgin olive oil caviar

Calvin had the chestnut. The pastry was really flaky and crispy to a point where it was quite difficult to cut through and have a bite. The ice cream was really smooth. Comparing the two dessert, I actually liked the pear better though. I don't think I would order this again though because I didn't find it to be that spectacular. 

Dessert:  chestnut -  ice-cream with a brown rum ‘diplomat’ cream served as a ‘faux 
mille-feuille’ with black currant coulis 

Lastly, our meal ended with petite four and all of them looked so delicate. They had cream puffs, macaron, marshmallow, etc. It was a great way to end the meal.

Overall, I was very pleased with the quality of food and service at Amber. I will definitely come back if I have the chance. I would recommend this place anyone and this is definitely a restaurant worthy of 2 michelin stars.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Kao's Family Restaurant

Came across this small joint from Urban Spoon. This restaurant is quite hidden and it's through the power of Google Map Street View that helped us find it. If you are familiar with the restaurants on Alexandra Road in Richmond, it is located in the same mall as Deer Garden and Haroo. It is in the lower level. You should see the signs on the lower level to guide you. 

When we got there, there were only one other table. The place isn't very big and can only fit a few tables. The restauant is family owned so the husband helps with the front while the wife is in the kitchen cooking. We wanted to try one of their homemade appetizers, but they were sold out. So we ordered the seasoned seaweed instead. We also ordered the beef brisket noodles and the dumplings.  Because there is only one person in the kitchen, the food took some time to get to the table. 

First came the seaweed. I really wanted to like it and I normally like anything seaweek but this dish was quite bland. It was boiled / steamed seaweek with some oyster sauce seasoning on top. The dish itsel was small too and it was $5 I think. It was definitely on the pricey side considering the quantity that we get. 

I was really craving beef brisket noodles because we recently had a family friend who made her taiwanese beef brisket noodle and it was so good. So we were craving it. Unfortunately, this noodle was not as good as the one our family friend made. The soup itself wasn't too flavourful. It seemed like the broth still needs some time. The noodle was alright, nothing spectcular. 

Lastly, we had the dumplings. We enjoyed the filling of the dumplings and would prefer more meat. The dumpling skin was too thick though. We can definitely feel that it was homemade with the filling as the filling was quite fresh. The greens in the dumplings were still quite crunchy. 

Overall, I am not sure if I would come back again. I feel bad for the couple because we should definitely support local business but the most of the food wasn't worth me coming back again. 

I hope the couple would step up their game and make better food so I can go back and visit again. 

Kao's Family Restaurant 台灣高家小館 on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Minami - Vancouver, BC (Dine Out Lunch 2014)

Minami's dine out menu was really good. I enjoyed my brunch at Minami a lot, especially the sushi. We went on a Saturday. We made a reservation thinking that it was going to be packed but to our surprise, it wasn't. We got seated right away and I like that the decor is very clean and simple. 

We had a choice of the regular brunch menu or the Dine out Lunch menu. Because their Dine Out Lunch was so popular, they decided to extend it. Looking at the Dine out Lunch Menu, I decided to try that and Calvin decided to order the Hatcho Miso Pork Belly. The Dine Out Lunch Menu definitely is a great choice for those who want to try their dishes and I do think that it's well worth the price. Here's the $28 Menu:
Miso Soup 

Zen Sampler
aburi bincho
wasabi masatake sauce

chicken tofu salad
baby greens, sous-vide chicken breast, miso marinated tofu, umami soy vinaigrette

ebi fritter
asian slaw, sweet chili mayo, soy-balsamic reduction

sterling silver karubi pork rib
apple-ginger haccho miso sauce, spiced apple-raisin chutney

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi

pressed BC wild salmon, jalapeño, miku sauce

Aburi Ebi Oshi

pressed shrimp, lime zest, ume sauce

Minami Roll

aburi short rib, spicy prawn, cucumber, wasabi masatake sauce

Aburi Saba Oshi Sushi

pressed house cured mackerel, miso sauce

Miso-Salted-Caramel Ice Cream

Started off with the miso soup. Unlike other miso soups, this did not taste like soup made from powder. I believe the miso soup was made from miso paste.

Starting from the left, pork rib, ebi fritter, tofu salad, and aburi bincho. Minami definitely shines in their aburi compares to their cooked food.  

Tofu salad and aburi bonchi. The aburi is tuna with a very complimenting sauce. The salad wasn't that special but it was quite refreshing and they added a crunch into it which was a plus. 

Pork ribs and ebi fritter

The pork rib was quite ordinary. The ebi fritter on the hand is different than what I had before. The batter was quite thin and I believe they used jumbo prawn. The prawn tasted quite fresh.

These sushi were my favourite. Each sushi is very unique and all the flavours of each sushi go very well together. I would go back again just for the aburi sushi. No wonder they are famous for their aburi sushi because they are really good.

These two sushi weren't as spectacular as the ones below though they are still great tasting sushi. The fish was super fresh and they flamed them just right. 

From Left, minami roll, salmon aburi, ebi aburi
My favourite is the one in the middle, which is the salmon aburi. The fact that only part of the sushi was flamed creates a very complex texture and brings out the salmon flavour. The beef roll on the left was also very spectacular. The beef was also flamed partly but it didn't make the beef too meaty. The meat melted in your mouth and blends in with the flavours in the sushi. I really liked the sauce that went with the ebi aburi. The sourness of the sauce complimented the sweetness of the prawn. 

I was really looking forward to the miso-salted-caramel ice cream. I have heard good things about it. All their ice cream are made in-house. The flavours were good but they weren't as smooth as the ice cream at Ernest. The salted caramel I had at Ernest ice cream gets quite sweet as I had more but I think the miso flavour of this ice cream balances the sweetness and I was able to finish the whole thing without drinking water. 

Calvin had the Miso Pork Belly Bennys. You can see how big the pork belly was. His dish had a lot and he was so full from it. The eggs were cooked perfectly. The most interesting thing was the miso mayonnaise. The miso flavour wasn't very prominent but at the same time we found the mayonnaise was not sour enough, missing a bit of acidity. The pork belly was decent though we liked the one from Red Wagon more. 

Also came with potatoes and crispy brussels sprouts. The potatoes were lightly seasoned with salt and I didn't feel that they were very greasy. The brussels sprouts had slight burnt taste to it which gave it a different taste.

Our server was really friendly the whole time so we really enjoyed their as service as well. All the food came at a reasonable time.

Overall, I recommend everyone to try Minami's sushi. Their aburi sushi is very very good. I would not recommend their cooked food though because I believe there are better choices for that.

Minami 炙 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Miura Waffle Milk Bar - Vancouver, BC

I stumbled on this place after seeing them on a show on Food Network. Their selling point is the waffle sandwiches. Instead of using bread, they use waffles. They are located in a quiet street. My boyfriend and I went on a saturday and then there were not a lot of people on the street. They have seating outside and inside.

We were very intrigued by the idea because you would associate waffle with dessert. Their waffles do taste different than others we had in the past. Their waffles do not taste that sweet. It provides a good texture and goes well with the savoury ingredients. The waffle actually reminds me of a mcgriddle.

We ordered garlic chicken (top) and bulgogi (bottom).  The waffles are such a great match with the meats in the middle. Although the sandwiches look small, they are actually quite filling. The meats were tender and juicy and the sauce was very balanced. I really enjoyed the way they made their waffles. You can't really compare it to the Belgian waffle but it's still light and soft. Although it looked small, we were actually full from it. Bravo to them for coming up with such an innovative idea.

It's nice to be able to enjoy this lovely waffle sandwich on a beautiful sunny day. Looking forward to when they open at the new location.

Miura Waffle Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Hawksworth - Vancouver, B.C.

Maybe because we had high expectation from Hawsworth, we didn't think it was as good as people raved. Hawsworth is considered one of the best restaurants in Vancouver so we had to give it a try. We came here on a Saturaday for lunch. They are actually pretty packed and I doubt you would be able to get a table without reservation.  

We got seated pretty much right away. The ambient is very nice and it's quite spacious.
We started out with prosciutto di parma  ($18) for appetizer. Normally, I am not a fan of prosciutto ham because I always find that they are too salty. It might be the type of ham I am eating or what I am eating it with. I was attracted to this appetizer because of the combination of pear and walnut. I was definitely surprised. Everything went so well together. The pear balanced out the saltiness of the ham. Everything was so well balanced and it tasted really fresh and just kept you wanting more. The walnuts added a nice crunch to the dish. The olive oil marshmallow was very interesting. I couldn't really taste the olive oil taste though. Overall, I really enjoyed this dish.

Boyfriend ordered the steak and burger so they brought us mayonnaise and ketchup. These were made in-house as the ketchup tasted different than other ketchup. It's not as sour as the ketchup I normall taste. 

Being Chinese, I had to order tea and this time, I ordered the Earl Grey tea.

I ordered the pacific sablefish brandade ($19) with poached eggs, tomato, chorizo, watercress, and grilled bread. 

I cut into the egg and it was poached quite nicely. I didn't know that sablefish was in the mash. When I first tasted the mash, it was so good. The fish and the mash went to well together and added this earthiness taste to the mash. I just couldn't stop eating the mash. However, when I got to the bottom of the mash, it started tasting quite salty and then it got to a point where it was quite inedible. I had to drink a sip of water everytime I took a bite. 

The sauce at the bottom was very good though. The sausage and tomato went really well together. The sauce was seasoned well and wasn't too salty. I really enjoyed the chick peas in the sauce.

Boyfriend ordered the famous Hawksworth burger with fries. The burger looked sooo AMAZING!!! It's definitely too high to eat in one bite. Boyfriend had difficulty putting the whole burger in his mouth. 

To date, boyfriend has yet had a burger where the patty is the way he wanted. He always ask for medium rare, but it's usually more cooked than that. This time, it was medium rare. Take a look at the patty. He did say the patty was a bit dry though. I think before coming to Hawksworth, we've heard a lot of people raved about it. So we were actually not too impressed with the food. The food was good but it wasn't as good as everyone raved about it.

We were really impressed with the dessert though. I ordered the chevre cheesecake with green apple and walnut. The combination sound very interesting so I wanted to try. First of all, the presentation was amazing. I didn't expect cheesecake would look like that. The cheesecake was super light, the cheese was not too strong which I enjoyed. The green apple slice was super thin. I was really amazed at how they can cut it like that. The apple slice was not just green apple thinly sliced but it was a green apple jelly. The sorbet was really good as well. The walnut and the caramel went quite well with the whole dish. I really really enjoyed this dessert and this was definitely an art piece.

Overall, Hawksworth was very creative in the food they present and the presentation is pretty good but we were super amazed at the food we were eating. Maybe the dinner menu will be better. 

Hawksworth Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Red wagon - Vancouver, B.C.

My mouth is watering while typing this post. Red wagon has become really famous after Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives visited. They are famous for their pulled pork. We went there on Friday morning thinking that there wouldn't be a lineup but we were wrong. We waited probably for 20 mins before we were seated. We were watching people from the outside looking at their yummy food. 

They have all day breakfast as well as other breakfast options. It was just so hard to choose. Since it was lunch time, we could also choose from their lunch menus which include burgers. I decided to get the Trucker because I didn't want to have so much but also wanted to try their buttermilk pancakes. Boyfriend ordered Super Trucker because it came with their famous pulled pork pancake and pork belly. 

I have to say that their food didn't arrive fast. We sat for quite some time before our dishes came but we were so excited when they did.

This is the Trucker with sausage. I have to say I really liked their buttermilk pancakes. They were really fluffy, not dense at all. They were totally different than the ones we made at home. I also really enjoyed their roasted potatoes. They weren't salty at all and we could tell that they were pan fried instead of fried. The seasoning for those were really good with the green onion added. Of course, I didn't expect that much food and had to pack some home.  

We were super excited when boyfriend's dish came. The crispy pork belly looked amazing and it did taste amazing. Who would've thought something salty like pulled pork would go so well with buttermilk pancakes. It was like the perfect combo. I kinda regret not getting that because the pulled pork and pancakes just blended and melted in your mouth. The pork belly had a good distribution of fat and meat and although there was some dryness to it, it made the pork belly more rustic. It was quite delicious.

I would definitely go back again to have the pulled pork, buttermilk pancakes and roasted potatoes. We were so satisfied when we left and it was definitely worth the recognition on Triple Ds. 

The Red Wagon on Urbanspoon