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Wandering around Causeway Bay without a dinner destination, we found ourselves on Sunning Road on a Saturday evening , and I thought of agnes b le pain grille – the notoriously difficult to book little bistro nestling on the corner of Leighton and Sunning Road. We decided to try our luck anyway and were pleasantly surprised that a table was available. In celebration we ordered a carafe of house red. 




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According to the SCMP, the first Krispy Kreme in HK will open its doors on August 8 at Lee Garden Road in Causeway Bay.

They will be making 2,000 glazed donuts a day. Everyday.

Sickly sweet and greasy, there's 200 calories packed in every one of these little devils.

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I *heart* hairy crab - my fave type of crustacean. But after the memorable yellow-oil crab extravaganza we enjoyed last year, I now look forward to the short window of time (now!) when yellow-oil crab is in season. We recently headed back to Fu Sing (富聲) to savour this year's catch...

 

Unfortunately I forgot my camera (absolute horror), so the above pic is re-pasted from the original entry last year. 

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When brainstorming for dinner venues, M randomly suggested Chesa. Good memories from my last visit there immediately came to mind so I was totally fixated on the idea. Unfortunately, we failed in our repeated attempts to get a table, be it weekday or weekend, two days in advance or last minute cancellation. Finally, just when I was about to give up hope of ever revisiting Chesa and began contemplating the idea of Cafe de Coral's version of cheese fondue, we finally managed a booking - so Chesa we went.



We arrived at the cosy little wooden hut like restaurant and noticed that a few tables were well into their mains. The place was exactly how I remembered it - inviting, warm, and friendly. We settled comfortably into one of the side tables and were sitting next to one another facing the center of the restaurant. This is considered an odd arrangement in HK but was rather common in London, even at the very high end restaurants. Actually I think this is a rather good idea, as it's easier to chat with one another rather than across the table. 

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On New Year's Day, we gathered round for some dim sum fanfare. K, our dear organiser, chose Cheena in Causeway Bay as our lunch venue. Cheena was initially located on the ground floor in a much smaller space, but when it became popular and couldn't handle the crowds, the owners decided to open a much bigger venue on the first floor of the hotel. The ground floor Cheena closed down to make way for a Japanese restaurant. This is a pretty unique restaurant with two distinct features that I'd elaborate later.



One good thing about Cheena is that everyone gets his or her little teapot, so each person can order his or her fave tea inside of having to conform to the norm of pu er or jasmine. The issue with this little pot is that firstly, the cup is very small so it is like two sips at a time, similar irritant to the one at Zen. I guess it is slightly better with your own tea pot right next to you. But because the pot is also rather minature like, one would need hot water refill every fifteen minutes - they probably need one waiter just bringing the hot water flask around doing this. I do like the decor and how elegant everything looks though.

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For our little NY gathering we decided against Chinese or Western food, and opted to revisit Chitose in the Lee Gardens shopping mall for its Japanese cuisine. The original Chitose was situated in the Sogo complex and specialised in very high-end teppanyaki cuisine for the Japanese. Was probably one of the most expensive Japanese restuarants within the Causeway Bay area, and was popular for corporate entertainment. This one is a bit more affordably priced.





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Have you noticed that the food scene is constantly evolving with structural shifts? A long while back Jap-style conveyor belt sushi was all the rave and such shops started popping up all over the place. Then came the Koraen influx with the introduction of the many kalbi restaurants. More recently have noticed an increasing number of Malay/Sing places in town, and HKF has been a diligent visitor to many of these shops. Recently I tried out another new one called Old Bazar in Tin Hau. In Chinese, the name actually translates to Lau Pat Sa, identical to the famous hawker center in Singapore. This is a relatively new restaurant that replaces One One Nam, another SE Asian restaurant located in the same spot previously. Not sure if they are connected though.



We came here for a quick lunch, and were handed a reduced lunch menu containing a large number of sets, which included a mains and a tea or coffee. Prices are extremely reasonable at only HK$35-45, and students would get a further discount. I opted for the seafood Laksa, and chose the "Cham Cham" combination, a mix of vermicelli and egg noodle. A opted for the fried noodles with pork's neck in Belacan sauce. We also ordered the vegetable fried in belacan sauce which was very reasonably priced at HK$10 only.

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Have always liked the concept of hotpot, where a group of people gather round a steaming centerpiece and share in the food and conversation. Yes there's the hygiene issue but these days most hotpot places already supply two pairs of chopsticks for everyone, one pair for public and one pair for personal use. For our recent office gathering, we headed to Chong Long Ting in Sai Wan (further away from Central than Sheung Wan) for its hotpot offering.



Of those that joined in the fun, half could not take spicy food in any kind while the other half totally dig the Sichuan-style "ma la" spicy hotpot (麻辣火鍋 ). As you can see from the hotpot picture above, this  "ma la" hotpot is already hot and fiery by appearance. Originating from Chongqing in Sichuan, "ma la" spicy hotpot uses a spcial spice known as huajiao (花椒), also known as flower pepper. This is the ingredient that dulls your sense of taste and gives you that added numb sensation in your tongue in addition to the spicy hot flavour. It is rather unique and is best explained by trying it in person. Because some of our friends did not like this, we opted for the mixed pot variety.

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Before our day trip to Disneyland, I did lots of research and asked around for lunch venue recommendations. The general consensus was that the fast food was only so-so, and for the better restaurants one had to queue for a very long time. Almost everyone's immeidate suggestion was Plaza Inn - the only dim sum restaurant within the park and run by Maxim's - so we decided to give it a try. Some also recommended going to the two Disney hotels for lunch, but it would take 15 min to get there from the park and we decided to save the hassle.



We got to the park at around 10 in the morning, and in addition to hurrying to get fast passes, we also made our way to Plaza Inn to make a booking for lunch, as everyone told us that the queues would be long. It seemed that it was our lucky day. You see, Disneyland Hong Kong experienced its first ever full house only two days before our visit (because of the WTO Ministerial Conference a lot of the schools were on holiday that day), and this was widely reported by the media. I guess people decided to avoid the park that whole week, which meant that we only had to queue for a very short time for most of the rides. When we arrived at Plaza Inn at 12:30 there were still a large number of empty tables for walk-ins too. While the outside of Plaza Inn, located at the corner between Main Street and Fantasyland, looked very Western and fairytale like, the inside was totally Chinese inspired. There were no Disney memorabilia at all.

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My aunt visited us from Taiwan in December, and wanted to try some good Cantonese food. We headed for Zen in Pacific Place for our little dinner gathering. Zen was picked because it was conveniently located in the shopping mall, allowing the ladies plenty of time to shop before the meal.



Haven't visited Zen for a while, as I do not go to PP that often, and there are plenty of Cantonese restaurants that I haven't tried out on the island. Immediately catching my eye when walking into the restaurant is the signature lighpiece that spreads across almost half the restaurant. The place has thoughtfully incorporated some Christmas decoration to the decoration, bringing some festivity and warmth to the place.

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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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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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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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