This was a November dinner - we couldn't decide on where to go for dinner (ahem... doesn't this seem like a recurring theme?!), and ended up going to one of Y's favourite Japanese restaurant - Sushi Hiro, for a pre-movie dinner. Sushi Hiro has established itself as one of the premier Japanese restaurants in HK where the emphasis is on the sushi. In fact, think it was probably one of the few that started the trend to open restaurants in office buildings hidden away from the general public. It is situated in Henry House (next to the BMW dealer), and became so popular that the owner opened another restaurant a floor below Sushi Hiro that specialised in tempura dishes. Back then, the two restaurants operated separately and were extremely specialised - it was difficult to get sushi when eating at the tempura restaurant and vice versa. These days it is much more relaxed and one can actually enjoy set meals that offer the best of the two restaurants combined.



Most people going to Sushi Hiro choose to order from the many sets. Being a regular, Y decided to go a la carte and asked the manager to order for us. This suited me well, as I was so knackered that any activity requiring the use of my brain would be considered excessive.

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The WTO Ministerial Conference was held in HK a couple of weeks ago, traffic was choatic over the period, as a lot of the roads in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay were blocked. What's more, many were worried about riot potential, given the many protestors that had flown in from various countries. We were initially hopeful that the companies would tell their staff to stay at home the conference period, but were disappointed to only be given a "stay alert" warning. Anyway, promised to catchup with J on the first day of the conference, and she was adamant to stay close to home, ie Tai Koo Shing area, no matter how many times I reassured her that the Causeway Bay area would be more than safe with all the policemen and the lack of people (which turned out to be true). Exasperated after much failed persuasion, I caved in and hailed a taxi for Quarry Bay. I made J promise that the food had better be good.

Our destination was Sodeyama - in Chinese, it meant "Sleeve Mountain" - a Japanese diner hidden amongst the tall office buildings near the Taikoo Place business complex. We walked into a very tiny restaurant that had only six tables and a sushi bar, all the tables (bar ours) were occupied and the majority were Japanese - normally a good sign. On her recommendation, we ordered a deluxe sushi set and a crab congee set. Thinking that this might not be enough, I also got a tomato salad side order.

The first to arrive was the appetizer for the set - chawan-mushi - steamed egg served in a bowl. Not a dish that I particularly fancy normally, and I offered mine to J as well, who insisted that I tried some first. As it turns out, this was a very nice dish, with the egg silky smooth and lots of tasty ingredients added. Needless to say, we finished every last spoonful.

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Everyone seems eager to visit Mandarin for one last time, ahead of its closing the doors to the public for eight months by end of this year for renovation. We made our way to the grand dame of grills - Mandarin Grill - to relive its old school charm.



I normally prefer the lighter modern European cuisine, rather than the generally more stuffy, traditional British or French cuisine served at places like Mandarin Grill or Hugo's. Somehow I feel out of place in the huge leather sofa seating amongst the impeccably dressed waiters, with the hush hush atmosphere. But M was raving non stop about the Grill's steak, and so decided to give it one last try.

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B is in town overnight for transit, and S and I arranged to meet her up for lunch in the IFC complex - as expected, all the restaurants were fully booked - Lei Garden actually suggested the alternative time slot of 2:30pm to me! Approaching desperation, I recalled someone mentioning that the hip bar at the new Four Seasons Hotel serves a semi-buffet lunch - so to Blue Bar we go.



The Blue bar was modern and airy, stylishly decked out - unsurprisingly - in blue with a view of the harbour. Only two other lounge tables were occupied, and we were promptly shown to a corner table next to the window. For lunch, only one set menu was served. At HK$195 per head, the appetizers and mains were served buffet style, whle the dessert was brought to your table, plus you also get a coffee or tea. Appetizers included an onion soup, a bread basket, and an assortment of vegetable salad. For mains, the selection included goa fish curry with rice, and at the carving table, roast turkey and sirloin beef roast. 

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Thanks to HKFoodie, we managed to secure some tickets to Pavarotti's farewell concert in HK on Dec 2. Not an opera fan (am tone deaf), was enticed by the "farewell" element, although he has been saying that for years. Anyway, we decided to head to Habibi Cafe in Wan Chai for a quick bite before the concert, as it was conveniently located close to the Exhibition Center. 



I assume the original Habibi restaurant on Wellington Street must be doing well, as it branches its second koshary cafe out to Wan Chai. Having never been to Egypt, not sure what authentic Egyptian cuisine is, to me, the orignial Habibi is very similar to the Morrocan & Lebanese cuisine, with the kebabs and tangiers. We entered a simple and cheerful small cafe, and found it almost empty with only one table occupied on a Friday evening. I assume Habibi Cafe caters more to the lunch crowd that works in the neighbouring offices. We each had a refreshing mint tea to quench our thirst while deliberating on the menu.

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Been urged many times by HKFoodie to write about my late-Oct celebrations at Caprice but have been resisting to start, as I liked it so much that I keep thinking that I wouldn't be able to do it justice. This is probably my favourite fine dining restaurant right now, ahead of Petrus, Scala, Toscana, and the rest (not to mention Amber, which is stil getting horrible reviews from all of my friends). I adore Caprice for its decor, food, and service, almost faultless on the night of our visit.



Caprice's blemish is the notorious difficulty in securing a booking. We were actually on the waitlist that day and already made a separate booking for Toscana, but luckily at around noon, J got a call from Caprice saying that a seaview table was available. Thanks J for accomodating my obsession with trying out the latest and newest restaurants! We walked into the most elegantly designed restaurant, with the tall ceilings and sparkling chandeliers everywhere, accompanied by the gorgeous habourview backdrop. Opulent luxury sprang to my mind. 

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Congee is one of my fave Chinese-style comfort food, and whenever I crave for some, I will head to King Lee Congee in Wanchai for some TLC.

Their speciality is salted chicken congee, although King Lee does offer a wide variety of savoury congee. So what's the difference between salted chicken congee and normal chicken congee? Fresh chicken pieces are marinated in salt, ginger, and galangal overnight, and then steamed to nearly cooked the next day before added to the congee to simmer. 



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Czarina first opened its doors in 1964, being one of the first Western style restaurants in HK, specialising in the more esoteric Russian cuisine. Stepping into Czarina is like entering a time warp into the sixties - little has changed in the decor, menu, or ambience. The red checkered table cloth, the plastic decorative placemats, the wooden blinds and assortment of paraphernalia all added to the old fashioned charm. My friends that studied at nearby HKU always have fond memories of the place.



We did not make a booking in advance as Czarina to us, is such a neighbourhood restaurant. So imagine our surprise to find the place totally packed the early Saturday evening of our visit, comprising mainly of the locals living within the neighbourhood. Luckily, the friendly waiters managed to squeeze us a table for two. A and I both quickly ordered a set, which includes Czarina's "World's Number One" Borscht.

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November 12

Am off to Nepal this weekend.

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In spite of its spectacular view and delightfully Moorish decor, I never really took to Isola, and was glad when Via Quadronno, another Italian restaurant, opened its doors at IFC. Have been there a few times and thought it was pretty good, recently went back with B for lunch. I like the simple elegant design of the restaurant, with a small cafe area at the front, and wooden doors opening up into the more spacious dining area.


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Since T and I were both exhausted from stress, we decided to spoil ourselves to pieces by indulging in a 5-star hotel for our relaxation weekend to Paris. After much rummaging through the web, she came up with two choices - the MO and the Park Hyatt. We decided on the Park Hyatt in the end, as I have stayed at the MO under its previous Royal Monceau name and did not take to the eery grand gold-panelled rooms. I absolutely adored the Park Hyatt Vendome on our visit - for its understated opulence.



Park Hyatt pitches itself as the small cosy boutique hotel within an international context. One good distinctive feature of the Park Hyatt hotels is that they all have first-class location. For this particular one, it has one of the most exclusive and prestigious addresses within Paris - on the Rue de la Paix, which is right next to the Place Vendome and Place de la Concorde, where all the famous jewellery shops are discreetly located. It is also within walkable distance to The Louvre, the Opera, Place de la Tuillieries, and the shopping street of Rue du Faubourg St Honore.

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Used to visit Brasserie on the 8th rather frequently a couple of years back, appreciated its traditional French food and the high quality service. Haven’t been back for some time now, so was pleased when Y suggested going there.



We walked into the familiar comfy dining room, with the half open-air kitchen and the salad bar and oysters on display and were seated at a nice quiet corner table. I like the fact that the tables are spread out and each table has some degree of privacy here without people eavesdropping. This is a luxury that few restaurants can afford these days, remember the tables at Angelini were so cramped that I felt like I was eating with 6 instead of 2! The warm French bread was tasty with the meat pate and I probably ate more than I should have.

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People in the office have been absolutely raving about Craft for some time. I liked Bizou, its sister restaurant, when I last went with HKFoodie, so been eager to try Craft out. I arrived to see a jam packed restaurant this particular Friday evening, luckily V got there in time to save us our seats. A has had a bad experience where they gave her table away even though she was only 5 minutes late (official waiting time was 15 minutes). I could see the chefs hard at work at the open-air kitchen at the far corner, where its signature open fire charcoal grill is located. Craft specializes in all types of chargrilled food – sirloin, fillet, ribeye, lamb chops, duck confit, pork loin and spring chicken. So avoid if you are not a carnivore, as the selection otherwise is rather limited.



My biggest disappointment with this restaurant is its service – not only were the waiters few and disappearing, their attitude was rude. I could understand that the restaurant was operating at full capacity and they were a bit overwhelmed, but believed that this night is no different to any other night, and they should be a bit more pleasant to the customers. We waved in vain to get someone’s attention, and once we ordered, we had to wait in infinitely for the order to arrive, be it a glass of wine or the bread basket. There were four of us and they only gave us three loaves of bread. Every time we tried pointing out what was missing (like only the shiraz of our order of warm water and shiraz arrived), they were unapologetic and just moved on to the next table without sincerely trying to follow up. We were not isolated in our poor experience, as we could see everyone was frustrated with the lack of service. Even though the warm bread itself was very good, must admit I discounted it given the pathetic service. Anyway, back to the food.




V and I were starving and decided to order a few appetizers to share amongst the four of us. Someone mentioned that the soup is quite average here, so we ordered a Steak Tartar, Prawn Cocktail, and Grilled Caesar. These arrived looking extremely appetizing, and they were. Raw beef is one of my favorite dishes, and this was seasoned reasonably well, a touch too spicy in my view but overall still one of the better ones that I have tried here in HK (Le Tire Bouchon nearby does a mean beef tartar, each waiter there mixes a slightly different sauce so it’s always a surprise there). Instead of serving the prawn cocktail in a glass already mixed with salad dressing, here, huge fresh lightly poached prawns were served with romaine hearts and remoulade sauce on the side. Am normally not a fan of prawn cocktails but this was exceptionally good – simplistic but of good quality. Remember to dip the prawn in the sauce though, which makes all the difference. Instead of the normal Caesar salad that we are all used to, the one here is quite special – an entire romaine heart is charcoal grilled and served whole, with shaved parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing dribbled on top. We enjoyed all three dishes very much.


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After the last hairy crab outing, been eagerly planning for the next one. With such mouthwatering memories of my yellow crab extravaganza last time, I decided to try Fu Shing’s hairy crab set this time round. We walked into a rather quiet restaurant on a Wednesday evening, - there were fewer than four tables seated but saw that all the function rooms were in use. Seeing how empty the place was, K began to worry about the freshness of their hairy crab. When asked, the waitress immediately brought the live crabs out for us to examine, and we were comforted to see that the crabs were live and kickin'.



There were two sets available, one for HK$328, and the other one for HK$638, the courses were pretty similar, apart from the hairy crab itself. For the cheaper set, one gets two small crabs each weighing 4 taels. For the more expensive set, these are replaced by heavier ones weighing 8 taels. Seeing that there are so many dishes in the set, we opted for the cheaper set. 

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Totally knackered after our late afternoon leisurely hike this past Sunday, J suddenly had a craving for the wontons in soup at Mei Mei Chu (Delicious Kitchen 美味廚) - so off we went to this long forgotten Shanghai family-style restaurant in Causeway Bay. This restaurant is probably one of the longest standing restaurants in this environ, which used to be called affectionately as the "Eat Street (街)". These days, many of the old faves have been replaced by western restaurants as the developers try to make the area more upmarket. There was a quiet buzz when we entered the restaurant and luckily for us, no queues at the door. We were seated promptly by the efficient waiters.



Thirsty from the strenous afternoon (or rather the hangover from partying for J & V), we immediately ordered a glass of cold soymilk to cool ourselves down. This was good as it tasted of soybeans and had the right balance of sweetness without appearing too watered down. The complimentary pickles were less appetizingly flavourless.

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