Monday, April 30, 2012

l'atelier de joel robuchon

I checked out l'atelier de joel robuchon for a nice Saturday lunch with the family. I've been to robuchon a galera last year and thought the food was a little hit and miss, so was eager to try out the Hong Kong branch to see how it held up. 

They charge $200 per head extra if you sit at a table so it was a no-brainer that we opted for bar seating. Not to mention, this way you get full view of the open kitchen :) All of us ordered the 3-course menu at $420 - plenty of food for lunch.

bread basket

The complimentary bread basket came piping hot and was absolutely irresistible. I tried their flute baguette (my favourite), a soft walnut bun, and that bread at the back full of cheese and ham. All slathered in soft, spreadable butter. Mmm. 

amuse bouche

I really enjoyed this one, though I was quite surprised that they would offer an amuse bouche of zucchini cream and onion when zucchini was one of the choices for starters. Luckily I didn't order the zucchini so I happily lapped this one up. 

le chou-fleur

This was a cauliflower veloute with parma ham and hidden croutons. I remember really enjoying the soup at Robuchon a Galera so was super excited for my appetizer. Luckily, it was just as good with a delicious creamy texture and the perfect pairing of parma ham and cauliflower. Stunningly simple :)

les petits farcis

The zucchini appetizer came with (from left to right) tomato mozzarella, eggplant caviar, and egg in "mimosa" style (sort of like devilled eggs). I didn't try any of this but the presentation was beautiful. 

le maquereau

Mackerel looked amazing and I almost wished I had ordered it myself. Taste-wise, very nice. It was lightly seared and didn't taste overly fishy or salty.

le canard

My choice of main course in a French restaurant is almost always duck because the French definitely do it the best. This classic duck a l'orange did not disappoint. The roasted Challans duck breast was perfectly tender with a strong ducky flavour and just a hint of nuttiness. It paired most beautifully with the orange reduction. 

mashed potato

Mashed potato was served alongside my duck and arrived looking like butter, probably because they used so much of it to make this deliciously creamy mash - you can see how it glistens! I wanted to lick the bottom of my bowl it was so artery-cloggingly good.

les cuisses de grenouille

These frog legs my aunt ordered might actually have been even better than my duck. Simple roasted frog legs served with fava beans, they tasted quite mild but had an excellent crunchy exterior reminiscent of the Chicken Man's amazing chicken wings. 

le porc iberique

The iberico pork loin was my least favourite out of the mains, but only because the others were so good. The "teriyaki" sauce was just a little too strong for my liking and the pork was pretty standard.

le banane

A chocolate caramel tart served with caramelized bananas and vanilla ice cream. I didn't taste any of this dessert but judging by how quickly my dad wolfed it down, it must've been good. 

le tiramisu

Very inventive tiramisu! I didn't eat the crackle at the top but the rest was delicious with a very rich coffee taste.

petits fours

Madeleines, macarons, chocolate and jellies - what more does a girl need? :) The madeleines were delightful and probably the best one I've had in Hong Kong (with the only other contestant being Monsieur Chatte :P). I wonder if they sell them in the Robuchon cafe downstairs? I was too full to attempt the rest of the petits fours - the dishes came out with surprising speed so there was little time to sit and digest. I even had to pass on the coffee/tea, though I know Robuchon makes a killer cappuccino. 

Despite our satisfied bellies,  we continued our day with a trip to Beertopia for beer and hotdogs!

The event was hugely successful and I had a great time with my beer - I sampled fruity apple beers from Belgium, dark wheat beers from Germany, a delicious hazlenut nectar from the US and many pale ales from the UK. The best though was this wheat beer from Japan though I forget the name already :( Too bad the hot dog was far too salty! Not worth the $120 it cost!! 

L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
Shop 315 & 401
The Landmark, Central 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Da Dong x Man Wah

This is the second year that Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental has hosted Da Dong and its famous Peking duck (their promotion period runs from 14 to 22 April). I didn't manage to get a table the first time round so happily accepted my friend's invite this year. Da Dong was one of my favourite restaurants while living in Beijing with its beautiful presentation, lovely ambiance, attentive service, and of course the very tasty duck. I couldn't wait to test it out in Hong Kong and was happy to see that the ducks (and the servers!) were brought in from Beijing.

We started with one of my favourite dishes from Da Dong:

beancurd with chinese toon ($148)

The mini ones were absolutely adorable and taste-wise, it was a very refreshing dish that made you feel healthier at once. It did have a slightly more fermented tofu taste than the Beijing version though, which I didn't particularly enjoy. 

sweet pork ribs at snowy river (HK$168)

This was beautifully plated and our Da Dong server told us a very poetic story while sprinkling the icing sugar "snow" (of which I understood maybe 1/4 of it...really need to brush up on the mandarin skills...) However, it looked a lot better than it tasted. Flavour-wise, the pork ribs were perfect but the texture was just soooo tough. I felt like I was eating a stale piece of jerky. Chew chew chew.

I was grateful to see the duck being rolled out as this was what I had been waiting for! 

carving away at our $658 duck... yeah, prices are way higher here than in BJ
glad to see all the condiments are the same :)
pancake wraps
toasted sesame buns
teaching us how to wrap (but I say just use your hands!)

Unfortunately, the duck was the big disappointment of the night. While I could overlook the appetizers being slightly sub-par, there is absolutely no excuse for Da Dong not to perfect their signature Peking duck before coming over. I get that Man Wah might not have the same cooking facilities to roast the duck as back home, but they've already been here one year and should've taken that into consideration. The flavour was lacking, the skin wasn't crisp, it was far oilier than in Beijing, the meat was tough and dry (especially the bottom layers) and not lean as they always advertise... Even the sweet sauce tasted slightly different. The only saving grace were the pancakes were which lovely and light. All in all, pretty unimpressive.


I can't remember how much this cost or what exactly was in it but it was basically Chinese cabbage and a bunch of beans. Pretty pathetic looking if you ask me, and it was far too salty and oily. You would think they'd tone down the salt for Hong Kong palettes without us having to tell them "少油, 少盐". 

abalone and chinese yam with rice in truffle sauce ($198)
I've never been a big fan of abalone so I can't really comment, but the rice was pretty fragrant and I enjoyed the truffle sauce, although again it would've benefited from less oil.

noodles with soy bean paste ($98)
These noodles were a breath of fresh air after the oiliness of the preceding dishes. Simple, old-style Beijing noodles aren't too difficult to master but I'm glad they didn't over embellish and the noodles were perfectly light and springy. 

red bean pancake with soya milk ice cream ($158)

I thought this was way overpriced for the size of the dish. The pancakes were very odd in texture and you had to stuff the whole strip in your mouth as it was impossible to cut. They also came looking like bacon... The chocolate hawthorne to the left wasn't all that fun to eat either. However, the soya milk ice-cream was pretty interesting - it really tasted like soy milk without any additional sweetness, and it was a light, refreshing way to end a meal.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with the whole meal for the quality of the food and the exorbitant prices considering the size of each dish and how much cheaper it is back in Beijing (though I know I really shouldn't compare...) I just wasn't blown away by anything I had that night. 

Da Dong at Man Wah
25/F, Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road Cental
Hong Kong

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I visited Shanghai over the Easter break and had some delicious food (which left me with too many ulcers though it was worth it!) I hope you enjoy the pictures - xiao long bao features a lot ;)

On our first day we decided to check out the famed xiao long bao at 南翔馒头店. Luckily, it was within walking distance from our hotel because I would not have been impressed if I actually made a trek out for these xiao long bao's. They were alright, but not the best I've had and not really worth the wait.

xiao long bao @ 南翔

fried shrimp balls and glutinous rice @ 南翔

giant xiaolongbao @ 南翔

We walked around the old town and then headed over to the former French Concession, which was close to our dinner destination. Along the way, some potarts for a snack :)

portugese egg tart from Lillian's

I'm sure the Macau version is even better but these were pretty damn delicious. Though I don't know if Lillian's cake shop really exists in Macau?

For dinner, we went to Le Shang, a modern Shanghainese restaurant on the outskirts of the French Concession area. It was actually opened by David Laris, a Greek from Australia who's now living in China and owns a number of restaurants in Shanghai. Also, the restaurant seemed to have some affiliation with Dragonfly, the best (at least for Westerners) massage retreat in China.


huge bowl of complimentary white rabbits!

spare ribs @ Le Sheng - delicious!

drunken chicken @ Le Sheng

chilled cucumber @ Le Sheng

old fashioned shanghainese smoked fish @ Le Sheng

stir fried rice cake with wild vegetables and shredded pork @ Le Sheng

xiao long bao @ Le Sheng

mango pancakes @ Le Sheng

more white rabbits to end the meal :)

I enjoyed every dish we had, aside from the mango pancake dessert (the pastry was really hard). The drunken chicken had a much more subtle flavour which worked to my benefit as I usually hate the dish with its overwhelming stench of alcohol! The spare ribs were amazing in their sweet sauce, and the Shanghainese smoked fish to die for. I also found myself addicted to the stir fried rice cake. All in all, a very enjoyable meal at decent prices (each dish was under 40RMB and most hovered around the 20RMB mark!)

On the second day, we had lunch at tian zi fang, a bustling area with lots of small boutiques, galleries, and arts and crafts. It kinda reminded me of nanluoguxiang in Beijing. We chose a pseudo-Italian restaurant to eat in as they had a lovely rooftop terrace.

pesto linguini with mixed vegetables

There was nothing special about this dish, and I remember it being really pricey - I think close to 120RMB! I guess you don't really come to this area for fine dining :P

froyo time!

Shanghai's froyo's just don't match up to HK standards! The yoghurt tasted a bit off and the consistency was way too thick and creamy.

Second day dinner involved more xiaolongbao's of course!

hard at work

making vegetarian ones


ready to be steamed and eaten by me :)

On our final day, we headed out to the Waterhouse at South Bund, a small boutique hotel which used to be a Japanese army headquarters during WWII. The architects kept the concrete facade and exposed brick but completely renovated the interior into nineteen beautifully modern and minimalist rooms. I loved it!

the waterhouse

We snagged a table at Table One for Easter brunch - three courses for 178 RMB.

apparently they have an affiliated restaurant in Singapore!

bread basket - the spreads were delicious (pesto, tuna fish & cheese, and butter)

appetizer - asparagus veloute with sea bass fritter

appetizer - BBQ mackerel with toast, salted cucumber, and horseradish

main - roast young lemon chicken with carrots, golden raisins, and almond salad

main - roast pork tenderloin with red onion tart and roasted beetroots

main - risotto of lettuce, spring onion and poached egg

dessert - lemon and lime pavlova

ice cream and sorbets (chocolate, grapefruit and vanilla)

complimentary hot cross buns for easter!

This was an amazing meal from start to finish. My asparagus veloute was soo creamy and smooth, but that sea bass fritter stole the show! The pork tenderloins rivaled the ones I've raved about at Bloom in HK, and I loved the red onion tart which was just the right amount of sweetness. Ice cream was nothing special, but I liked how they gave you chocolate and strawberry sauces for dipping!

today's snack of vitamin water after a satisfying lunch - only 5RMB in Shanghai???

Our last meal was in xin tian di. Not much to eat around there so we ducked into one of the few Chinese restaurants which didn't have a queue.

can't get enough of the Shanghainese smoked fish

creamy creamy prawns

pigeon - not as good as HK

some much needed veggies

All in all, I had some pretty fantastic food and can't wait to be back to try the twenty odd restaurants that we didn't manage to hit up this time!