目前日期文章:200512 (7)

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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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