Monday, November 29, 2010


I've been wanting to check out Amber for a while now, especially after it was awarded Best Restaurant of the Year in Time Out's 2010 Dining Awards. The descriptions I've read about it - "the best dining experience in the city", "a heaveanly explosion of flavours", "orgasmic" - pretty much sealed the deal.

I was lucky enough to visit last Saturday, a perfect reward after my Equity & Trusts exam. We ordered the degustation menu (8 courses). Unfortunately, the photos I took were on my phone so they don't quite capture how beautiful the presentation was. But hopefully you'll get the general picture :)

We started off with a selection from their bread basket - sampled the mini baguette and the sourdough crisps. I tend to judge a restaurant by the bread it serves and Amber kind of disappointed me. The sourdough crisps were good but the baguette was served cold and I had to douse it in olive oil before it was chewable. (Luckily the olive oil was amazing - I googled it and apparently it's Chateau d'Estoublon. If I had a bottle of this, I wouldn't mind eating salads so much!)

Next up was a selection of amuses-bouche:

foie gras lollipop with raspberry coating

I actually don't like foie gras much so I refrained from trying this, though my friend wasn't a fan.

pumpkin soup

This soup was really good! It smelt a bit overpowering when it came but after mixing, the taste was actually milder than I expected and very creamy :) Made me miss thanksgiving and pumpkin pie.

There was also an Iberian Pork Croquette which was my favourite of the three. It was a perfect burst-in-your-mouth experience! Unfortunately, the picture I took with my phone came out far too dark :(

Appetizers -

hokkaido sea urchin in lobster jello - served with crispy seaweed

One small complaint about the service, though otherwise excellent, was that I did have trouble understanding their explanations of the food. I had to ask the waiters a number of times to repeat what they had said, until I finally gave up and just enjoyed the meal!

I didn't think I liked sea urchin, having only ever eaten it in random Japanese restaurants where the uni was sub-par. However, this dish completely changed my perception. It was creamy, super fresh, and topped with a generous amount of caviar and a gold leaf. The epitome of decadence! Loved the presentation. The seaweed waffles were overly salty though.

tasmanian salmon confit, then smoked

Surprisingly one of the highlights! I loved how you could see the smoke rise when it was brought to the table. Rather theatrical ;) The crust was great - I think it was something like seaweed breadcrumbs? Salmon was perfectly smoked and sooo tender.

normandy diver scallops

Unfortunately, I didn't like this dish. The sauce was a bit too sweet and overpowering - tasted almost like cha siu sauce! And I've eaten better scallops.

Mains -

langoustine & foie gras - steamed with mushrooms

Yummy! I think this might actually be the first time I've tried langoustine. Definitely my favourite of the two mains.

kagoshima wagyu beef

Hm... this was okay. Cooked to the medium rare I requested but nothing blew me away. Definitely would not pay $1388 for the dish alone.

Dessert :)

blood orange segments, preserved skin & rosemary, prepared with greek yoghurt as a vacherin 'coque'

I had to poach that description from Amber's menu because I couldn't for the life of me catch what my waiter was trying to say. This was my favourite dish!!! We were encouraged to smash it so we could scoop up all the flavours in one go. I personally think the smashed version looks better:

Absolutely delicious! The minute I tasted it, it felt like Christmas. Maybe it was something about the colours, the slight undertones of peppermint, the fact that it kinda sparkles in your mouth! Put a huge smile on my face. I've never had anything quite like it.

85% chocolate souffle with cacao sorbet

This didn't blow me away to be honest. It was quite ordinary, though I liked the addition of the rum anglaise poured in. Also disliked the sorbet, though my friend happily polished it off for me. Maybe I was too excited by the previous dessert that this one was a bit of a let down.

All in all, I did enjoy my meal at Amber. The ambiance was great and I loved the interior design. It wasn't over-the-top extravagant but instead elegant, spacious, and perfect for intimate meals. The service was excellent (despite the earlier comment), and they were always on hand to replace my hot water pot when it turned lukewarm :) Some of the dishes were outstanding - extremely creative both in terms of the taste and composition. I left feeling happy and well taken care of. And I'm still dreaming about my Christmas dessert.

7/F, The Landmark Mandarin
15 Queen's Road Central
Tel: +852 2132-0066

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pizzeria La Gondola

I noticed this tiny pizzeria one afternoon while out strolling after a lazy Sunday brunch at the Press Room. It looked quaint, authentic, and made me almost feel like I was in Europe with the alfresco dining. The pizzas coming out were gorgeous and it quickly moved up to the top of my must-try restaurants.

Last night I finally had the opportunity to check out La Gondola on Mee Lun St, Central. There are only three tables (though there are a few counter seats too) and we were lucky enough to take the last one. The owner was really friendly and helpful with his recommendations. We got to chatting and he told us he's worked all over Europe - Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain.. as well as in the most far-flung regions like Africa! La Gondola is his first sole venture, which opened only 6 weeks ago. Business seems to be picking up though and judging by the taste of his food, he'll definitely need to be expanding soon!

store front - completely unassuming. i loved the atmosphere! though Stroll Bar was seriously pumping next door :P

the menu - reasonable prices, especially for the portion size! they also have a selection of gelato and homemade tiramisu for dessert.

we were going to order 2 pizzas but realising that was a bit over-ambitious for two people, settled on a salad and pizza. turned out to be the perfect choice because this mozzarella salad was heavenly! super fresh and I love the olive oil they use.

it came with a huge dome of focaccia which we probably shouldn't have polished off because this was in store:

proscuitto pizza - tomato sauce, mozzarella, proscuitto, rocket, olives, parmagano and oregano.

This was definitely my kind of pizza - better than 208 and Paisano's (and I loved both of those). It was thin-crust, not too heavy on the sauce, the parmagano and rocket were lovely and fresh... and the happiest part? I could easily fold it up to take big mouthfuls of deliciousness! :D

We ended our meal with scoops of gelato - he got vanilla, I had lemon. It was nice and refreshing, though I'll definitely be back to try their tiramisu. And the Siciliana pizza which was highly recommended by the owner for anyone who likes a bit of a kick!

This pizzeria is an amazing find, so get there quick before it becomes too busy! They also do free delivery within the area.

Pizzeria La Gondola
4, Mee Lun St., Central
Tel: +852 2581-9555

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I know this blog is meant to be about eating in Hong Kong ... but I had such amazing food on my trip to Australia that HK restaurants will have to take the backseat. Next post will be local, promise :)

I visited both Sydney and Melbourne, armed with a number of recommendations from numerous foodbloggers. These were my favourites (note the lack of anything remotely resembling fine dining :P they were all basically hole-in-the-wall restaurants):

harry's cafe de wheels

chicken & mushroom pie, doused in gravy!

This was perhaps the best pie I've ever had - though I guess Hong Kong pies aren't much of a competition. There were huge chunks of chicken and they even used fresh mushrooms! Not bad for a meal from a cart!

The following night, we trekked to Chinatown to check out Mamak. There was already a queue forming at 5:30pm! It's been a while since I've visited Singapore so I was craving this food. I was particularly excited to see how good it fared in Australia considering the sizeable Malaysian population there.

queuing up...

nasi goreng - love the fried shallots on top

teh tarik, as good as any in S'pore! had to order seconds!

roti canai in metal plates! crispy on the outside, super fluffy inside

chicken & beef satay. actually the highlight of my meal, particularly the amazing homemade peanut sauce!

dessert - sweet roti with a dollop of vanilla ice cream

I had heard a lot about Becasse, an award-winning, up-scale restaurant in Sydney. However, I was more attracted to the casual cafe they opened (plan b by becasse) next door.

wagyu beef burger

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the burger itself but this is plan b's famous 600-day grass fed wagyu beef burger! At only $10 AUD, it was great value and simply delicious - the fillings included caramelised onions, beetroots and vintage cheddar cheese. But the meat was definitely the highlight! Juicy, succulent, thick thick patty :)

Finally, this was brunch in a small cafe in Melbourne. Forget what it's called (that's how unassuming it was) but everything was organic and super fresh.

eggs florentine. simply divine.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Beijing Redux

Yesterday I started off my morning with freshly made 粢饭 and piping hot 豆浆. It brought me back to memories of breakfasts in Beijing, where I spent a good five months attempting to improve my Mandarin and instead came back with just a very full belly. I miss my life there - early morning bike rides to school, cramming for exams at ten years cafe, ridiculously cheep beer gardens and Wednesday ladies nights! But what I miss most are these three things:

1. 烤鸭!! Especially 大董's version where the ducks are leaner but still meltingly succulent. Far better than the famed 全聚德 which always left me feeling slightly sick.

love the duck chopsticks holders :)


forget what this was but it was yummy!

...not a great photo of the kaoya but too eager to eat!

2. 包子饺子 from this unassuming shop in wudaokou.

old school

bao zi! :)

jiao zi! :)

shao mai!

enjoying all 3!

3. Hatsune! Okay, it's strange that a Japanese restaurant is one of the things I miss most about Beijing but where can you find such creative rolls in Hong Kong?? They should open a branch here!

the interior of the Sanlitun branch. pretty eh?

sashimi platter was so-so...but the rolls...

er... tuna... topped with unagi... i suppose? yummy!

"butterfly roll" - tempura shrimp, snow crab, avocado, and unagi

didn't get a chance to take a photo before everyone dug in... but this was the ultimate indulgence "pimp-my-roll" (avocado, soft shell crab, topped with salmon and albacore and unagi sauce)

my favourite the "south beach roll" - fresh scallops, spicy tuna and cucumber topped with torched maguro, unagi sauce and sesame)

very satisfied :D

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'll Have What She's Having

After years of testing the patience of friends, making them standby while I take at least five shots of the same dish, I've finally managed to start this blog. I guess moving back to Hong Kong and being constantly bombarded by bakeries, cha chaan tengs, street food, and of course those requisite hotel restaurants flaunting their Michelin stars, has renewed my enthusiasm for eating out and my apathy towards cooking. Perhaps it isn't the healthiest of lifestyles but I figure, I'm young. Might as well indulge while I still can!

I don't know if I'm just excessively greedy but whenever I eat out, I always covet what my friend is having. Or whatever food is on the adjacent table. Or even in the adjacent restaurant. While revisiting the Mandarin Grill last week, I ordered the rib eye - the Mandarin's version is one of my favourites in Hong Kong. However, when a waiter came out and delivered this:

to the table next to mine, I decided I had to have it too. I believe my sister ordered it once and it looked delicious then too. A quick conversation revealed it to be their pork shoulder, something I would generally avoid. However, I loved the presentation and the girl seemed so pleased with it that I amended my order and eagerly awaited the arrival of the dish.

When it came, it was just as beautiful and in retrospect, thoroughly enjoyable, yet I couldn't help eying my friends rib eye. Luckily, having the great friends that I do, I was able to steal a piece. It was delicious, succulent, and cooked a perfect medium rare. I wished it were all mine..

I'm not quite sure what the moral of this story is... whether it means the grass really is greener on the other side or if it's the converse?