Friday, September 30, 2011

Summer Palace

Had a yummy and healthy dinner at Summer Palace in Island Shangri-La a day after I ate at Petrus. Noticed that the carpets in the lift are changed daily to tell you the day of the week :P Bit silly if you ask me...

It was mum's birthday so we again took advantage of the discount (though not as worth it if you're a party of 4 since you only get 25% off and I believe with HSBC platinum card you get the same discount at all Shangri-La restaurants anyways). Still, the restaurant's not expensive with pretty good quality. I think the total bill was $1200 for the 4 of us, granted dad did the ordering and we ended up with a mainly vegetarian meal, which made me feel almost like I was eating in a monastery! But it's probably a good thing, I've been eating far too much junk recently and this was almost like a detox.


marinated black fungus with vegetables

Both these appetisers were pretty good - especially the eggplant which soaked up all the delicious sauce. Also enjoyed the peanuts in the black fungus dish :)

barbequed suckling pig

This was good and I wish they had served more! The skin was nice and crispy and I liked the soft, doughy bun sandwiched between the skin and meat.

mushroom dumpling. Not good.

Luckily it's time for Peking duck!

good skin

roast duck

Was a bit disappointed that they only served the duck skin with no meat :( Not that it wasn't still yummy but I guess I was spoilt at Made in China where we got three different cuts to play with. Also, sad there was no sugar in the condiments though I suppose if I really wanted to I could've asked them for some. Nevertheless, the skin was really good and I still enjoyed the dish. It was surprisingly light so I managed to gobble down a handful without even realising it.

duck noodles

Enjoyed this but it put me over the top! And surprisingly, I wished there were more noodles and less meat.

Dad ordered a decadent cake from Island Gourmet. I think it's called the Frou Frou cake (which it definitely was :P) and consisted of dark chocolate mousse with a crispy praline base. Loved the base, the mousse was a bit much. Happy family photo:

Bizarrely, some guy sitting at the table next to us whipped out his bberry to take a photo of us while we were posing for the above picture... wonder what he was thinking??

Summer Palace
5/F, Island Shangri-La
88 Queensway, Admiralty
Hong Kong

Thursday, September 29, 2011


If you hadn't heard, Shangri-La is doing a Facebook promotion for its 40th Anniversary this year. So long as you're a fan of their page, you can enjoy big discounts in any of their restaurants on your birthday! If you dine with 2 people, it's 50% off; 3 diners is 33% off; 4 diners is 25% off; and 5 or more diners is 20% off.

I took full advantage of this last night when I tried out Restaurant Petrus in the Island Shangri-La. For some reason, I had never really considered eating here, thinking it was just going to be pretentious French food in a gaudy setting. However, I was delightfully surprised that (almost) everything I tried was spectacular and the service spot on!

The restaurant is a lot smaller than I expected with only 13 tables and two private rooms. It was quite full considering it was a weeknight and I think a few other tables were taking advantage of the promotion! The view is quite spectacular, being on the top floor of the Shangri-La with floor to ceiling windows, and there's a really good harpist that sets the ambiance :)

It took quite a while before we were served menus, but I suppose we were meant to relax with our apperitives (of which we ordered just water...) But it was worth the wait because alongside our menus came these amuse-bouches:

cheesy bread ball

Okay I can't remember what this was called or described as but to me it was just a cheesy bread ball. Can't really go wrong with this!

mushrooms in a cracker sandwich

This was lovely and light and fresh! I especially enjoyed the cracker which was just the right amount of flaky that it didn't crumble all over my plate when I bit into it. The only thing I'd say is that their amuse-bouches are rather big which I'm not used to. Then again, I shouldn't complain about getting too much of a good thing!

We both opted for their Autumn Seasonal Menu which comes in sets of 4 courses or 6. Priced at around $800 and $1100 respectively, they weren't as expensive as I expected. Naturally we both got the 6-courses :)

First up was bread and butter which I forgot to take photos of - the baguette I chose was as good as the ones I ate in Paris, and delicious with their unsalted butter which I was happy to note came at room temperature so was easily spreadable. You can also sprinkle the bread with an array of salt they offer, coming from as far-flung regions as Tasmania and Hawaii! One note though, they offer seaweed butter too which sounds interesting but just doesn't work.


terrine de foie gras de canard

This was the only course I wasn't looking forward to because (i) I don't like duck liver and (ii) I don't like terrines. Luckily, it came with delicious toast and juniper flavoured pumpkin butter (in the background). When that was added to the terrine, it was actually quite okay.

stuffed roast calamari and jabugo ham

One of my favourite dishes of the night! The calamari was stuffed with rice and was flavoured with XO sauce of all things! They also drizzled on lobster broth which was pretty spectacular, not to mention the dollop of squid ink on the side which I happily scraped up with my calamari. The ham was also outstanding.


roast atlantic cod

This fish was cooked really well and I loved how it flaked off my fork (didn't even need a knife!) It was actually delicious without the bean puree which I didn't like too much. Ironically though, I did really enjoy the beans that were sprinkled around the plate. There were also a few cockles which were meh but that's okay 'cause the fish was yum!

barbecued wagyu beef breast (?)

I wasn't too sure what beef breast was... But this was soooo good! As much as I liked the fish, this really stole the show :) It tasted almost like beef brisket which .. I guess might be what it was. The sauce was a little overpowering but the meat was so so tender and juicy! Loved the assorted vegetables as well, particularly the carrots :)

Cheese course:

cheese selection by bernard antony

Never tried bernard antony cheese so I was super excited!! I chose epoisses (my favourite) and then Katie, our wonderful server, selected two others for me. The epoisses was amazing and I'm so glad they put it on a spoon because I just ate off it - totally didn't need to be spread on anything haha. Worked particularly well with the quince and elderberry jam in the background!


coconut souffle with lime

I was surprised how amazing this was. The souffle was baked perfectly with the perfect balance of sour and sweet. The innards were so gooey and warm :) Very delicious! I scraped up every last bit in the bowl and really wished it came in a bigger size despite how full I was already feeling!

We ended this near perfect meal with some petits fours and deliciously soothing peppermint tea.

macarons and ... chocolate

The macarons were delicious and had a layer of cream on top which made them all the more decadent! Those rose petals on the top are also lovely, pretty much all sugar though so it's hard to go wrong :P Tried a tiny bit of that chocolate thing but it was far too chocolatey and I was running out of tea so couldn't finish it...


These truffles however were yum yum yum. They tasted like ferrero rochers on steroids :)

Such a perfect meal and with the discount, the total bill only came up to $1300 with service charge included! Amazing! I was particularly impressed with the service. Our server, Katie, was really knowledgeable and explained each of our dishes to us with obvious passion. She helped us take dozens of photos, always greeted us with a smile, and was just a delight to have around! I was also happy to note that once we finished one bottle of water, they didn't immediately open a new one without asking us. In fact, they brought us ice water instead and even got a new glass to put it in so as not to mix it with the other water! Now that's service.

A spectacular meal that I'd highly recommend, even if you don't get the 50% discount. But for all those who have their birthdays in the next few months, definitely sign up to be a Shangri-La fan and make the most of this amazing offer!

Restaurant Petrus
55/F, Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place, 88 Queensway

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Zig Zag

Came to this pizza joint on the recommendation of my hairdresser of all people. I've been wanting to try out more restaurants in Kennedy Town, especially Bistronomique right next door which unfortunately was booked for the Friday evening.

I arrived at around 8:30pm and there were still two empty tables in the very small restaurant. Next door there was a thriving take-out pizza stand which I must try next time.

I liked that Zig Zag gives you a little bag holder to hang your bag. So useful!

We ordered their wings with herbs and a maxi pizza to share between the two of us. You can order the pizzas half/half and in either mini or maxi size. I think the mini cost $101 while maxi is $208 and 3x bigger. Quite pricey though.

herby wings ($45)

The wings were really sad. They tasted like they had just been microwaved and they were tiny for the $45 we paid...

maxi half n half

The pizza fared a lot better. One of the best pizzas I've had in HK - definitely blows Paisano's away and probably is on par with La Gondola. We opted for half Hawaiian (I hate how Pizza Express doesn't stock pineapples...) and half pepperoni and added mushrooms to the whole thing.

The crust was really thin and crispy around the edges, and the pizza was oozing with cheese and tomato sauce. The hint of thyme made it all the yummier. I thought the Hawaiian was much better than the Pepperoni side and I happily inhaled my first few slices while the cheese was still piping hot. Delicious! The only gripe I'd have is that they cut the pizza into really small sizes which makes it kinda hard to eat (I like to fold my pizzas to eat sandwich-style). Other than that, superb!

Zig Zag
G/F 1 Davis Street
Kennedy Town

Thursday, September 22, 2011

La Marmite

While I'm not a fan of the Aqua group or the Soho area in general, I couldn't pass up trying La Marmite because I absolutely love marmite (definitely trumps vegemite) and French cuisine. Plus, the restaurant is done up in my favourite shade of green and makes me feel right at home, nothing like Aqua's typical restaurants.

The set lunches are priced reasonably at $98 for 2 courses or $118 for 3.

complimentary bread

As always I wished carbs didn't tempt me so... when it's sitting in front of me I can never resist! This bread was quite good, but what made it really yummy was the pot of garlicky herby spread in the background.

prawn and citrus salad

This salad would've been much nicer if it weren't completely drenched in salad dressing and olive oil. There's enough flavour from both the grapefruit and the prawns that it doesn't need all the other stuff... couldn't finish it, it was too greasy!

fish & mussels

Can't remember what fish this was but it was cooked really nicely and I loved the bouillabaise broth. There were yummy potatoes underneath too :) If only the portions were larger...

cheese platter

They needed to give more bread and I thought the way it was plated wasn't too appealing with the clunk of wilted lettuce in the middle... Otherwise the brie was nice, blue cheese a bit too strong for me, and camembert can never go wrong :)

The meal was definitely good value and I quite liked the ambiance, particularly on a weekday lunch when the restaurant was relatively quiet. The service was fine, food was fine, but I suppose the whole experience was rather forgettable. Perhaps dinner would be a more exciting affair?

La Marmite
46 Staunton Street,
Soho, Central

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Safety Stop

I walk past Safety Stop on my way to HKU every day and have always wanted to try it (despite the bizarre name). The restaurant is one of the few places where you can get Kopi Luwak coffee - and at much better prices than I saw at Four Seasons. Apparently, this restaurant used to have an old location in Sheung Wan with quite a large fan base! Glad it moved so close to me :)

The set dinner menu has a wide variety of Western dishes including pastas, fish and meat courses:

We ordered two dinner sets to share - the tiger prawn and seafood risotto ($98) and the honey pummery roast french cut pork rack ($108). We also opted for an additional appetizer - smoked salmon, mozzarella and tomato salad ($88).

First, bread and soup!

The homemade bread was really good, nicely toasted in their oven before being served to us. Mmmm carbs.

They told us the soup of the day was vegetable soup which I wasn't too excited about. I thought it would turn out like those watery cabbage broths you get in Chinese-Western restaurants. Luckily, this soup was delicious. It was more like a pumpkin soup with quite a thick consistency. I happily lapped it up with my bread (of which we got double portions! yay gluttony).

vegetable soup

I was debating whether or not to get fresh live oysters from Australia. The menu has prices quoted for both a half dozen or a dozen, and the owner was kind enough to accommodate my request for just three. However, in the end I decided that the mozzarella salad would be plenty of food:

smoked salmon, mozzarella & tomato salad

I was a bit disappointed by how little salmon we got, but the mozzarella was pretty decent and they gave a lot of that! :) Also liked that they included capers! Made me really want a smoked salmon cream cheese bagel - which I happily got the following day during brunch at Oolaa.

Mains -

tiger prawn and seafood risotto

I was a bit nervous about ordering the risotto. I find that a lot of restaurants do a very poor job of it in Hong Kong - especially Basement on Gough Street. Luckily, this risotto was cooked well. The rice maintained a nice chewy al dente bite, and I loved the creamy texture. It was a tad on the salty side though, and I wished they had given an extra prawn! Though for the money we paid, I guess I shouldn't be too greedy!

pork rack

Wow. This was sooo juicy for such a thick chunk of meat! Was really impressed by this - the meat was cooked so well it didn't need any sauce. They do add a bit of mustard which gave the dish a nice kick. I liked the potatoes too, lightly seasoned with a hint of salt. Simple and delicious.

I was already pretty stuffed by that point but we couldn't not order their molten chocolate cake!

molten chocolate cake ($48)

Mmm, I absolutely demolished this before my partner got more than a forkful in haha. Chocolate cake and ice cream are always a winner combination! This dish made me feel like getting out the Betty Crocker mix and baking myself some fudge brownies ;)

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food here, especially given the price. The total bill came up to something like $370 for two, and we had a three-course meal! The service was really hospitable, and I'll definitely be back to try some of the other dishes (rib eye!) They even gave us coupons for our next visit! Do however make sure you always get your credit card back after paying the bill because despite how nice the waitstaff were, they did forget to return us this :\ Lucky I live so close!

Safety Stop
L/G, Wai On House
39 Water Street,
Sai Ying Pun

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Madam Sixty Ate

I had heard mixed reviews about Madam Sixty Ate but the whimsical decor and beautifully plated food made me really excited to check out this restaurant. Located in J Senses, the restaurant opened a few months ago with chef director Chris Woodyard and head chef Andrew Braham at the helm.

I couldn't help but take photos of the quirky paintings and sketches in the menu, which reminded me of Alice in Wonderland:

As well as the open kitchen where one of the chefs got scolded à la Hell's Kitchen :P (The restaurant was relatively empty when we arrived at 7:30 but was full and bustling by 9pm and we were even hurried out so that they could seat the next group at 10..)

There's a tasting menu which goes for $680pp but this time we decided to order à la carte. We started off with homemade bread which came fresh out the oven with a deliciously crispy crust and soft soft innards. I loved how the garlic butter (?) came wrapped.

After a relatively long wait (though I was actually expecting longer given HK Magazine said they waited 45 mins for their food to come out), our starters came:

roast scallops and pork rillette w/ cameralized shallots ($120)

The scallops were so-so. Quite small, rather boring, and I wasn't a fan of the anchovy puree they used. The saving grace was the amazing pork rillette, served on a lightly toasted brioche bun. I'm not a fan of pâté so I've never tried rillettes but from now on I'll definitely give them a go. The pork had a really rich texture and was buttery-smooth. Yum!

"paella" ($110)

This dish came highly recommended in Time Out's review (I've obviously done a lot of research on this restaurant) and while I agree that the dish was beautifully presented and each bite had a whole new flavour, I disagree that this could ever be called a paella. It was basically just mussels, squid, scampi, rabbit and some puffed rice served in an interesting manner. How one could ever associate it with paella is beyond me. While I do enjoy deconstructed food for its beautiful presentation and creativity, I find that the most exciting part about eating something deconstructed is that while it looks completely different to the dish you ordered, when each of the components are eaten together the flavour is all there. You should be able to close your eyes and think you're eating a paella and then open them and be completely shocked by what's in front of you. Unfortunately, I didn't associate anything about Madam Sixty Ate's "paella" with the real thing.

For mains:

halibut cooked sous vide ($290)

When this first came I was a bit shocked by the intense smell it gave off. While I enjoy my fish, I've never been partial to the fishier ones like sardines, blue fish, mackarel...I like my fish mild so thought halbiut would be perfect. However, it really smelt like I was in the middle of a fishmongers which initially put me off. Luckily it didn't taste too fishy at all and the flesh was lovely and flaky and perfectly cooked - guess that's the benefits of cooking sous vide! Funnily though, I actually enjoyed the ragout of cauliflower, smoked bacon and squid ink more than the main attraction :P

roasted duck breast & confit leg ($280)

I only tried the roasted duck portion of this dish which was cooked perfectly medium rare and had great flavour that was intensified by the poached plum that accompanied it. I loved it! However, the coffee crumbs below were a bit of a bizarre combination which I felt was out of place with the rest of the dish. Also, apparently the confit leg was a bit tough (how can confit be tough?!)

pig in sheep's clothing ($270)

Again this got rave reviews. I liked the fun presentation and the quirky name, but it wasn't as wow as I expected. I expected the pork belly to be more flavourful with a larger amount of fat (maybe I'm just being greedy) but I felt the texture just wasn't quite there - not tender enough.

classic Basque fish stew ($290)

This was really good - a huge portion of seared bonito fish, served alongside mussels and chorizo. The fish was perfect, skin lightly crisped, flesh soft and flaky, and the tomato consomme worked beautifully with it. I also really enjoyed the crispy ... thing... on top!

wagyu short rib steak with horseradish foam ($325)

Didn't try this dish but it seemed like the consensus was "meh".

Dessert time!

vanilla "mille feuille" ($80)

Again I was slightly disappointed by their take on the classic French pastry. It didn't taste like mille feuille at all, especially as they used rice pudding mousse instead of pastry cream and candied apples instead of, well, pastry. The milk sorbet with the vanilla mousse were good though!

honey parfait ($85)

This was sweet overdose but I actually kinda enjoyed it, though the honeycombs were too much for my cavity-ridden teeth. I loved the popcorn and the honey parfait components, and the chocolate mousse was rich and decadent. Perfect in small portions!

coffee and donuts ($70)

$70 for coffee and donuts sounds a bit extravagant but this one was perhaps my favourite. The "coffee portion" was comprised of gianduja mousse and kahlua cream, and topped with cardamon froth. It was simply delicious - not too sweet with just a hint of alochol. The spoon held an "espresso sugar" and the two wee donuts were cinnamon ones! Nomnom.

All in all there were some hits and misses, but I did enjoy the evening. The food was plated beautifully, the restaurant was quirky and totally my style (though again crappy acoustics make for very tiring dinner conversation), and the service was pretty attentive. It was fun and exciting for the most part, and I'd be happy to return!

Madam Sixty Ate
1/F The Podium, J Senses
60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai