Friday, July 20, 2007

Hong Kong: Gough 40

Nestled in the middle of the small Gough street, not far from the loud Lan Kwai Fong, we found Gough 40. If the building did not happen to be owned by May's dad, we would likely never tried this place. Surprinsingly good and definitely unpretentious, Gough 40, for me, captures the entrepreneurial spirit of Hong Kong; the owners basically learned their craft (including food making) on the fly and adjusted to the need and wants of their clientele. The result is sometimes a bit weird (serving garlic bread before the meal), sometimes amateurish (table service doesn't quite follow protocol, presentation could use some work) but the food we had there was great (fresh, prepared with care, and so tasty). Actually, we prefered it to HK Joel Robuchon; it was less pretentious and,as far as I'm concerned, as good. This is, to me, the entreprenarial spirit of Hong Kong; anyone can hope to succeed if they are willing to try hard and see obstacles as just one more opportunity to distance yourself from your competitors.

Grilled Duck Breasts with Sun-Dried Cherry Sauce

Fresh Pasta

G/F 40 Gough StreetSheung WanHong KongTel. 2851 8498
HKD $1000 for us two (About CDN $140)

Hong Kong: L'atelier de Joel Robuchon

(July 19, 2007)

This is a second outing to L'Atelier; the first time it was in Las Vegas.

Well, this ain't the same L'Atelier... Vegas was exponentially better.

The amuse-bouche did not amuse our bouches at all; it was bland.

"Les Legumes" was one of the highlights for me; slow roasted veggies layered with Buffalone mozzerella and a basil couli. Very nice and fresh.

"Le Thon rouge". Red tuna tartare with red peppers and bergamot. We thought it was OK but that's it. No special attention to flavour layering (I did not taste the bergamot at all). May told me she prefers my salmon tartare. It also smelled like fish. Now, come-on, we're in Hong Kong! Having more than half day old fish is inexcusable here.

"Le pied de cochon", an overly salted concoction of pork meat on a french baguette with parmesan and sliced black truffles. So salty in fact that there was no other discernible tastes to this dish.

"Le cabillaud"; pan-seared cod with a lemongrass foam. Nicely cooked (some juiciness to it). The lemongrass foam was a nice complement which added some layers to an otherwise plain rendition.

"Le Boeuf"; steak tartare with fries. Way too spicy for May. Tolerable for me. However, I did not understand why the dish needed to be so spicy. Seemed like the chef did not sample the dish before serving it, or did not care. Also, I thought that tartare was supposed to be served with a raw-egg on top? Nowhere to be found here...

"Le Saumon fume"; potato waffle. Decent.

"L'entrecote"; Wagyu beef. Oooohhh, that was good! Japanese beef is possibly the best beef in the world (Canadian Alberta beef being a close second).

The souffle was a bit undercooked to my taste.

My Mont-Blanc was fine.

With water, a Kir Royal, 1/2 bottle of red, a cup of tea and 10% gratuities, our bill ended up at HKD $4,115.10 (about $550 CDN)

Overall, very disappointing. Not only was L'Atelier Hong Kong was not impressive from a food point of view but it was also more expensive than its Vegas counterpart.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Tokyo: Kaiseki dinner experience

From Wikipedia: Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner analogous to Western haute cuisine.
We were kind of in a crunch for time and heard that the hotel had a not too bad Kaiseki offering. Taste wise, we were not all that impressed when compared to everything else we ate in Tokyo. Presentation however, was very nice and it made me think that the French chef behind the nouvelle-cuisine movement might have been inspired by Japan's Kaiseki for their approach to plating. Worth further investigation.

Various sushi (not quite on par with the ones we had at the fish market... obviously)

Great view however.

Kobe beef. Ok.

Giant shrimp tempura. Now, we had much better tempura in France at Lucas-Carton, go figure!

This dish (above) tasted like dirt. I am adventurous, but this was not a pleasant experience!

Tokyo: Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Fish Market is a must for all who visit Tokyo. How can I put it? I don't like sushi... but I loved the sushi there. This is what sushi should taste like everywhere. No bland taste there; the fish is so fresh you'd think it'll whack you with its tail.

The restaurant opens at 7am and closes when there's no more fresh fish (10am is sometimes too late)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Toro (Fatty Tuna), just unbelievable!

Tokyo: Kobe Beef at Gyu-An

Melt in your mouth Kobé beef in Ginza. Incredible.
(Beware though; what makes it good is the marbling... You'll gain ten pounds just looking at it)

〒104-0061 東京都中央区銀座6-13-6
6-13-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0061

4 min. walk from Subway Ginza station Exit A3,
2 min. walk from Subway Higashi Ginza station Exit A1
Phone: 03-3542-0226