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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wild Grass

I've heard rumblings about Wild Grass lately, a new restaurant the focuses on sustainable ingredients and simple cookery. Z and I decided to try it out last night, and I have to say it certainly didn't disappoint! It's a quaint and rustic restaurant, with wood furniture (that is apparently reclaimed) and has a homey feel to it. It wasn't very busy on the wednesday night, but it seemed like some of the restaurants "friends" were there, drinking and carrying on at the bar quite loudly, which detracted a little bit from the homely feel of the place, but that was soon forgotten as we perused the menu. Quite reasonably priced at just below 400$ for a 3 course meal! (300 for a 2 course) We will definitely be returning.

After we placed our order, a bread tray came with herbed goats cheese and radishes. It was quite nice, obviously house made, and a great way to start the meal.

I ordered the amberjack carpaccio, with passionfruit dressing. It was quite delicious, very fresh fish, and the sweet and sour combo of the passionfruit dressing was delicious. The crouton that came with it was buttery, but nothing to brag about. This was a really great, and light starter that had me hungry for more.

Z had the house smoked salmon. This was also really good, although we both felt it wasn't quite smokey enough. Again, very fresh and light flavours, although I don't think I would order this one again.

For the main course I got the 5 hour stewed beef shin. This was really great, and something I miss (I make a great beouf bourgenion but since Z doesn't eat meat, I don't really cook it anymore). The meat was fork tender, and the jus was rich and complex. Everything about this screamed comfort food, and it was delicious! I would definitely order this again on a rainy/cold day.

Z ordered a fish stew, I believe the star was halibut, but I'm not 100% sure on my recollection of that. (Did I mention they have a pretty good wine selection too?). Her broth was light and subtle, but very delicious. It came with a large sea scallop, prawn and a good portion of fish. She really enjoyed it, and as you can see, who can blame her!

We also ordered a couple of sides to go along with it. Up top is a ratatouille, which was quite good (although I've never had a ratatouille with cheese on it before), but nothing that special, just honest cookery. The Cauliflower Gratin however was amazing. I could eat bowl after bowl of this, and never tire of it. We had a little bit left over from both sides, and asked to take them home with us, but the takeaway boxes never showed up and we kind of forgot after the desert.

We both ordered the lemon miringue tarts. One of my favorites, and this didn't disappoint. The crust wasn't the best I've had (could be a lot shorter), but the curd was tart, and the miringue's were delicate, with a crunchy lemon slice on top. The ice cream was quite nice and vanilla'y but nothing as good as the ice cream at Hugo's I posted about before.

All in all this was a really great dining experience, and I think it will become a regular for us. It offers nice, comforting honest cooking, and the fact that all the ingredients are sustainable, and most are organic, it feels nice eating there as well. I believe that the menu is ever changing and evolving, so it will give us excuses to go back every month and try again, I just hope that the cauliflower stays on the menu!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Feast (Food By East)

This is just a quick post, as we didn't have get any usable photos while we were hear, but I wanted to mention it for everyone.

We came here for the Sunday tea buffet. 199hkd for a modest array of items. You have Caesar salad, green salad. An assortment of canapé sized sandwiches and wraps, wonton soup, a few dim sum options; haar gaou, siu mai, and char siu. A couple different thin crust pizzas, and there are waffles with a few different sauces, and freshly made crepes that you can choose the filings for. Lastly there is a bunch of dessert; cheese cake, tarts, bread pudding, marsh mallows, other cake, fruit salad (90 percent melon).

It's not very expensive, nor is it particularly great. You get a coffee or tea with it. If you're in the neighborhood, and really hungry, it's probably worth it for cost effectiveness, but I don't think I'll be returning. Also if you pay with HSBC credit card you get an additional 20% discount.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

La Rotisserie - Sai Ying Pun

Working from home affords some great conveniences. No need for pants, casual work environment, ability to come and go as you please, so long as the work gets done, no need for pants. One thing that isn't always awesome is having to cook lunch every day, or not having people to go for a quick lunch with (or bring back take-out for you). This is why I'm really happy I stumbled across this great little chicken spot a few blocks from my flat while wandering around one night.

La Rotisserie is a small, but tidy rotisserie chicken joint. Just walking past this place and smelling the aromas wafting out of there tells you it's going to be a delicious meal. They have 2 large rotisserie machines spinning plump birds (imported from France no less) coated with a delicious seasoning that really makes one salivate. They offer 2 flavours of chicken, a traditional french one, and currently a mustard rubbed chicken. I have only tried the traditional one, and keep coming back for more of it! I tend to get a whole chicken (which they happily quarter for you and give you the back bones to make stock out of if you so desire), which is a reasonable 150hkd. They offer a set lunch which is a quarter chicken, a side dish, and a soup or iced tea. Most people I see get a mixture of the 3 sides (which on this day was lentils, mixed vegetables and chicken fat roast potatoes). The soup was a blended vegetable soup (I didn't remember to ask if it was vegetarian or not).

The chicken is always moist, succulent and juicy, and they always give you a little container of pan jus if you so want. There are 3 little bar seats, and a small table at this location so you could dine there if you wanted, but I'm not sure how comfortable it would be. The shop opens at noon, and there is generally a line shortly after, so if you were seated there, you might get bumped around a little bit.

In addition to these foods, they also do some sandwiches which are on baguettes that are partially cooked in France, frozen and shipped out here. I haven't tried them, but I'm sure they're quite good if they go to the trouble of importing bread. They also do quiches and a delicious looking chocolate tart. They offer some french treats likes madelines, calf terrine, fois gras pate, mustards and a few reasonably priced, but quite good wines.

This place serves up a delicious roast chicken, that keeps me returning every week, it's definitely on your must try list if you miss a sunday roast chicken!

La Rotisserie
G/F 71 3rd Street
Sai Ying Pun

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Took Z for date night to Hugo's (at the Hyatt in Tsim Sha Tsui) as it had been a long time since I had a steak. We got there, and were greeted, and taken to our seat quite quickly. The space is quite nice, luxurious feel, with a bit of 19th century flaire. Swords and armor and 19th century pistols adorn the walls, a big open kitchen (that we were kind of rushed by) and quite comfortable seating in the banquettes. 

As we were seated they took an order for sparkling water, and dropped off the menus. The sommellier came around and asked us if we had any questions. I told him that I really didn't think I wanted a whole bottle of wine, but would like some by the glass, and told him what I was going to order. He recommended a bordeaux that was a special, so I ordered that, and it certainly didn't disappoint. 

To start, I ordered the steak tartare and Z ordered the prawn cocktail. The steak tartare was prepared tableside, and I was given a sample to taste, it was OK, but needed more seasoning, so she added a bit more salt and served it up. She forgot the bread with it, which the head chef brought to me a few minutes later with an apology. The steak tartare was still underseasoned, and lacked the bite of mustard and didn't have enough cornichon in it. The steak was quite nice though, and had good texture and flavour, but all in all a little to bland for my tastes.
Steak Tartare - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
Steak Tartare - A little bland, but good quality beef.
Z's prawn cocktail came with a side dish of cocktail sauce. I didn't taste this myself, but she said that it was nothing to write home about, and that she wouldn't order it again, for what that's worth.
Prawn Cocktail - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
Prawn Cocktail - This should have stayed in the 70's where it was born!
For mains, as I hadn't had a steak in a long time, especially not a high quality Japanese one, I decided to splash out on the A5 Saga tenderloin. 825HKD for 150g of steak, it better be damn good! I ordered it rare, with a side of peppercorn sauch. The also brought me a red wine sauce and a grainy mustard. The steak was cooked perfectly, and had all the markings of a really good Japanese steak, but it lacked a bit of seasoning. The sauces were quite delicious, but I didn't really use it, as it would mask the flavour and quality of the beef. This was really good, but quite expensive for what you got. There are better value steaks in HK that are 90% as good for 30-40% the cost.
A5 Saga Tenderloin - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
A5 Saga Tenderloin - Yum
Z had a whole US Lobster from the grill. This was cooked as good as a grilled lobster possibly could be, moist, succulent, lovely flavour. It came with a lemon wedge, but could have used some butter to dip it into.
Whole US Lobster Grilled - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
Whole US Lobster Grilled
Both of the main dishes came with a whole head of perfectly roasted garlic. This was a delicious break from the richness of the steak, and just yummy in general. A really nice touch.

For the sides, I thought that they would be standard steak house sized sides, so we only ordered 2 sides, the mushrooms and the asparagus. Since my steak was so small, I could have easily finished 2 sides to myself, and Z probably could have done the same. So if you're usually timid about ordering too much, you might want to order an extra side than you think you'll need. The mushrooms and asparagus were cooked well, but nothing to write home about. 
Asparagus and Mushrooms. - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
Asparagus and Mushrooms.
For desert Z had the Cherries Jubilee, which were flambed tableside. This was about as classic as you could get, nothing too interesting about it, but it was good. The real star of the dish was the house made vanilla ice cream. It was so smooth, and packed with vanilla seeds, it was utterly delicious. As I had kept drinking the bordeaux, I had the somellier pick me out some cheese for a cheese plate. I had the most delicious camembert I've ever tasted, a nice blue, a mediocre goats cheese, and something that resembled a manchago but I can't remember exactly what it was. The cheese was great, but maybe 4 was a little too much, as the richness overwhelmed me by the end. The good thing was the richness also filled me up from a pretty small meal.
Cherries Jubilee - Hugo's in Tsim Sha Tsui )
Cherries Jubilee

After that the infamous bon bon's came, which were quite nice. The same vanilla ice cream inside a chocolate shell. Quite a good end to the meal for me (since I didn't have a sweet dessert).

All in all the service was quite good, although I was left waiting with an empty glass on a few occassions. The tableside service is a throw back to an era long gone, and while the food is decent, I don't think it justifies the high costs. When you're spending this kind of money on a meal, you expect to be blown away, and to be honest I was left wanting more. Something different. Perhaps coming for the sunday roast carved tableside would be good, or perhaps I ordered the wrong things, but I don't think I will be returning, there are far better, less expensive steak experiences to be had in HK.