Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hong Kong: The Market @ Hotel Icon

The Hotel Icon in Tsim Sha Tsui is a school; that's where future generations of hotelier learn their craft. We had heard good things about their buffet-restaurant, The Market. However, no way to get a reservation less than 2 months in advance. Seems to be getting like this in Hong Kong, which is strange because their doesn't seem to have been so many new restaurants opening lately. I guess that people may have more disposable income than what this never-ending financial crisis would lead us to believe?

Anyhow, this was well worth the wait; this is possibly the best buffet in Hong Kong currently (now, mind you, I haven't tried them all). A slight notch above the Conrad's. Maybe it also helped that we were there at 6:30pm, for the very first batch of all the food that was available. But I think it goes beyond that; amazing variety (with a bit of an emphasis on seafood), fresh, and as well prepared as if they were serving to-order.
The Thai section was great; some of the best "pork-neck" meat I've had. Beef was cooked perfectly, which is rare in a buffet setup. Great selections of desserts.

It's a bit on the Hong Kong island pricey side but if you don't eat for the 2 days prior, you can even things out! ;-)

Highly recommended.

Buffet for 2, with two glasses of wine and service charges, HKD $1355

The Market @ Hotel Icon
17 Science Meseum Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon,
Hong Kong
Tel: 3400 1308

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hong Kong: Only Buonasera

We went to Only Buonasera because the Groupon made it seem like a great deal and the OpenRice reviews were quite good (I should know better though as OpenRice really can't be relied on for reviews). Anyhow, the Groupon had was pitching the "8 course" meal as a HKD $1500 value.

Food was really uneven, while the main courses were ok, the appetizers were barely edible. May actually spat out an oyster that she just couldn't eat. Also, calling this an 8 course meal was borderline dishonest as they counted each of the appetizers as a course. Whatever it was, this was not a $1500 value in terms of quality.

Not horrible mind you (except for appetizers) but not worth a second visit.

Fish carpaccio and disgusting oysters

3 courses!

Seafood risotto. Rice was actually quite nice;y done and seafood was ok.

Grilled seafood platter. Just a bit overdone. Swordfish was a bit dry.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Tiramisu; fluffy, nice texture on the fork. Unfortunately, the coffee mixture they used was too watery, which made the taste a little bit off and spoiled the final product. Sad because they were close.

Only Buonasera
Shop 23-27 G/F Empire Centre,
68 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong

Hong Kong: ir1968

May told me about this restaurant that had to move from Causeway Bay because the landlord wanted to double the rent. That unfortunately happens increasingly often in the crazy Hong Kong real-estate market. Luckily for us I guess, the restaurant, ir1968, moved very close to where I work and we decided to pay a visit during my lunch break.

We went early to avoid the crowd but maybe a littler too early as the place was empty. It filled up just half an hour after we showed up, and for good reasons; the food was very good. I'd say exceptional. My Laksa was (May keeps making fun at the way I said it) "the best Laksa I ever had". The coconut broth was just the right amount of spiciness, prawns were cooked perfectly and the vermicelli was perfect. A simple dish masterfully rendered.
May's ginger rice with beef rendang and fried chicken was also quite good. I'm also told that the evening menu is also nice.

All-in-all, a nice discovery which we hope won't suffer further rent-hike induced move.

Laksa Udang; coconut sauce noodle with prawns. HKD $118

Nasi Kuning Campur; yellow ginger rice with beef Rendand and fried chicken. HKD $148

5/F, 139 Queen's
Central, Hong Kong

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hong Kong: Caprice

We had a great time celebrating May's birthday at Caprice.
Service was impeccable, actually the best we got anywhere in Hong Kong. Not only was the waiting staff aware of the proper etiquette but they were also very knowledgeable about the food they were serving.

And the food was superb. Definitely the best we've had in Hong Kong. We haven't been back to L'Atelier in a good 4 years but unless they dramatically improved (which they may have), Caprice is in my humble opinion the only restaurant worthy of 3 stars in Hong Kong.

Just one more restaurant to go, Lung King Heen (also at the Four Seasons) and we'll have completed our tour of Hong Kong's 3-Michelin starred restaurants.

Décor is inviting, bright and airy, not overly stuffy although formal.
Dress code is smart casual. 
Canapés stuffed with olives, anchovies and pine nuts.

Veal tartare cannelloni, marinated vegetables and caviar impérial de France.
Better without the bread as the flavours were too subtle and overpowered by anything mixed with it.

Brittany lobster, lemon taragon mousse, shellfish and tomato jelly.

Watercress velouté, frog's legs and onion confit bruschetta.
Nice smokeness. Veloute was rich and satisfying.

Wild sea bream, trmput zucchini, nicoise black olives and sea urchin.

Challans duck fillet, parmentier, jardiniere vegetables and apple chutney.
Duck melted in our mouths.

Stuffed lamb rack with fennel, sweebread and chanterelle mushrooms.
Beautifully completed by the mushrooms.

Mango mousse parfait and elderflower sorbet.

Jivara chocolate, apricot and aromatic thyme.


May's birthday cake. Oh so smooth!
Taste of Caprice menu (2): HKD $3320
Bottle of Evian: $95
Bottle of red (Chateau L'Evangile '04): $1700
With 10% service charge.

Four Seasons Hotel
Hong Kong

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hong Kong: Tapaz

(Sorry again for the terrible pictures, didn't have the S95, had to use the Berry. The Blackberry's low light performance are really atrocious)
One work weekday's night. May finishes at 7pm, some stuff keep me at work until 7 as well, so no plans to to a big outing. May was wondering if there was anything non-Asian good to eat at Langham Place. We therefore went to Tapaz on the 13th floor.
The experience is a bit more of a american middle-of-the-road food chain than one of a restaurant (think East-Side Mario's, Olive's Garden, etc...). The food itself goes from decent to inedible.
My recommendation is, if you go, stick on the sure fire items; the tapas. Chorizo, cheese, escalivada, while not great, were decent and the portions large. If you stick to those, you'll be ok. The Paella on the other end, was a disaster.
In short, caveat emptor on that one...

Tabla de Quesos. Can't really go wrong with cheese. That was fine. HKD $128

Escalivada. Fine by that ain't a salad sir... $68

Chorizo. $54

Seafood Paella . Truly disgusting. The mussels were dry, then upon biting into them, they would fall apart in unpleasant little crumbles. The prawns were chewy due to the fact that they were grossly overcooked. Not good at all. Avoid at all cost.

13/F Langham Place, 8, Argyle St
Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hong Kong: Brick House

We've read good things about Brickhouse on the Web and decided to try it out. First night, it was packed. Second night, we learned that they don't take reservations and waited for an hour at the Starbucks around the corner. Luckily, Brickhouse will call you when your table becomes available.
As we got in, I almost immediately disliked the ambiance; extremely loud, with tables closely packed together (which means that one constantly gets elbowed). No matter how good the food was going to be, I just couldn't get over how disagreeable the setting was. Actually, the problem was not the place as much as me having the wrong expectations; I wanted a quiet evening at a nice restaurant, and Brickhouse is a bar also serving Mexican food.
After having browsed the menu for a while, we lay down the order for our waiter who tells us they do not have entrees tonight, which was disappointing, but consistent with my bar-with-food perception. 
We got all of our food and ate, under the attentive eye of who I think was the boss there. Actually, the taco man was very friendly and fried a few more tacos when we ran out, making sure we were cared for, etc
Certainly top score for service. Food-wise, I thought everything was fine but not great. Portions are small and price is investment-banker adjusted (which seemed to constitute a large portion of the loud crowd at the bar). 
Don't get me wrong, this is probably some of the best Mexican food I had in Hong Kong (miles above Aye Caramba and Taco Loco) but this doesn't transcend any Mexican food canon. For value for money though, and the overall experience (waaay too loud), we won't go back.

The Margarita we had was the highlight of the night actually. The salt on the rim was just  enough to highlight the beverage which was well balanced, with just a hint of fruit at the end. I can understand why so many people were there to drink.

Tuna Tostada; yellow fin tuna sashimi, pickled cucumber, chipotle, habanero mustard and shallots
Taco Platter; Chicken, Ribeye, Lengua, Fish. Nothing earth shattering but tasty enough... however... $240 for 4 tiny tacos? Really? We're talking about tacos here right?
Pueruvian ceviche; yellowtail, apple, radish, orange, avocado,  lime dressing.
Baked Mexican cheese Queso Fundito; black beans, avocado, salsa, pico de cauliflower, chilli oil, crema Mexicana. Was ok. 

Mexican molten lava cake. One can definitely taste the spiciness of the chili  which comes to highlight the chocolate flavor in a very delicate fashion. My problem was that the cake could have been cooked a bit more so as for the chocolate to be a little bit less liquid. Overall, a good rendition but I have had better.

For 2, with a single drink, with 10% tips added, HKD $715 (yep, for my North-American friends, that's about USD $45 per person for Mexican food... aye caramba!)
G/F 20A D'Arguilar Street
Central, Hong Kong
Phone: 2810 0560