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Notes from Hong Kong (Jul ’14)

24 Jul

Places Covered This Trip (an [X] means they will have their own separate write-up)

  1. Sen-ryo Sushi in Tsim Sha Tsui, HK
  2. Ozone in Tsim Sha Tsui, HK
  3. [X] One Harbour Road (Pearl Chen 25th Anniversary Menu) in Wan Chai, HK
  4. Caffe Habitu in Wan Chai, HK
  5. [X] Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, HK
  6. Cupping Room in Central, HK
  7. Aberdeen Street Social in Central, HK
  8. Angel’s Share in Central, HK
  9. [X] Amber in Central, HK
  10. Full Cup Café in Mong Kok, HK
  11. Islam Food 清真牛肉館 in Kowloon City, HK
  12. Mrs Sweetie 口甜舌滑 in Kowloon City, HK
  13. Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon in Central, HK
  14. The Mandarin Cake Shop in Central, HK
  15. Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩 in Central, HK
  16. Quinary in Central, HK
  17. The Roundhouse in Central, HK

Sen-ryo Sushi in Tsim Sha Tsui, HK

Address: Shop 1086, 1/F, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2196 8209

Rating: 3.25/5

Sen-ryo is a popular sushi chain restaurant in HK. For a two-seater on a Tuesday night, we had to wait around 1.5-2 hours. A substantial number of their patrons are bankers working in the ICC tower above. For non-destination shopping mall sushi, the fish was quite fresh (serving a fairly sophisticated banker clientele might explain this), though the preparation of the sushi leaves something to be desired (I found a bone in my cut of tuna, and my miso soup with clams had gritty clams that hadn’t been purged properly). Rice compression was loose, and held with fingers or chopsticks, the sushi quickly disintegrated. A decent place to eat if near the ICC tower, but really their preparation of sushi should be less amateurish and more careful, given the fairly good ingredients they use. It would be rated higher if the preparation was better.

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Edamame

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Yellowtail (4/5) and Chutoro (4/5)

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Dragon Roll (3.5/5)

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Softshell Crab Roll (3.5/5)

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Uni, Ikura, Roe(?), Tofu (3.75/5)

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Botan Ebi (4.5/5)

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Tuna (2.5/5) and Amaebi (3.75/5)

Found a bone in my tuna, which lowers the score

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Miso Clam Soup (1.75/5)

Gritty clams had not been properly purged, which lowers the score.


Ozone in Tsim Sha Tsui, HK

Address: International Commerce Centre (icc)/the Ritz-carlton Hong Kong, 1 Austin Rd W, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2263 2263

Ozone, at the 118th floor of the ICC building, is called the highest bar in the world. The views of HK are breathtaking – and you pay for the view. They have a capable Gin and Tonic menu (that makes 3 specialist G&T bars in a month, Pesca Salada [Barcelona] and La Destileria de Urquijo [Bilbao] the other two). G&T is very hip now.

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“Ginning in the Sky: Tanqueray No. 10, Grapefruit Peel, Basil Q Tonic Water” (4/5)

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[X] One Harbour Road (Pearl Chen 25th Anniversary Menu) in Wan Chai, HK

Address: 7-8/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone: +852 2584 7722

One Harbour Road will have its own write-up.


Caffe Habitu in Wan Chai, HK

Address: 77-79 Gloucester Road, Wan Cha

Phone:+852 2111 2977

In the afternoon, Wan Chai in HK remains full of people. (Where do they all come from? They’re surely not office workers) Traipsing between the Grand Hyatt and Johnston Road for Bo Innovation, I had a free afternoon where I read David Pilling’s (FT’s Asia Editor) very interesting book on Japan, Bending Adversity. I generally find the genre of “books on Country X” to be best written by authors who have been journalists (Elizabeth Pisani’s book on Indonesia is another sparkling example), simply because they both travel widely around the country, and speak with all levels of society, from politicians to businessmen to civil society leaders to artists.

Their espresso is a bit sour from the grounds, but surprisingly for a cafe located on a main road, next to Starbucks and another chain cafe, it was surprisingly peaceful and I spent as idyllic an afternoon as I can imagine in crowded Wan Chai there.

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[X] Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, HK

Address: 60 Johnston Rd, Hong Kong
Phone:+852 2850 8371

Bo Innovation will have its own write-up.


Cupping Room in Central, HK

Address: Shop LG/F, 299 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Phone: +852 2799 3398

Located on the border between Central and Sheung Wan, the Cupping Room features a roomful of awards: Second Place at the World Barista Championships was one of them. Upon inquiry at the counter though, I found the prize winning beverage used special beans that they didn’t have at the moment. This can portend a bait-and-switch, using a generalised aura of magic to sell the entire repertoire of drinks. (This is how Michelin-starred chefs, having made their name, make their fortune – the majority of profits come from their casual brasseries and bistros, rather than their fine-dining establishments). I got a cold brew. It was prettily presented, and was pleasant, if standard for cold brew.

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Not related to the coffee shop, except in spirit.

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The plates I saw at Manresa 3 months ago in April. Strange to see them here in HK.

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A street where they filmed a famous movie.

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1600 pandas… still in the wild.


Aberdeen Street Social in Central, HK

Address: PMQ, G/F, JPC, 35 Aberdeen St, Central

Phone: +852 2866 0300

Rating: 14.5/20

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Aberdeen Street Social, the latest restaurant in the Jason Atherton empire, is located on the ground floor of one of the new arts spaces in Central HK, PMQ (the former Police Married Quarters – for the families of junior officers). It was opened by Mr Atherton in partnership with Yenn Wong. The downstairs bar has a nice retro feel to it, and the upstairs dining area has plusher seats, but pushes a casual tablecloth-less setting. The food was competently prepared, though there were little fireworks to be found. This restaurant struck me as a place where the food lubricates conversations, rather than sparking it, hence the “Social”. I did enjoy hanging out here with my friends.

Timeout HK report: http://www.timeout.com.hk/restaurants-bars/features/66721/aberdeen-street-social.html

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Roasted garlic thyme flatbread (3.75/5)

Fried chicken, apricot, chilli, ham (3.5/5)

Good coating, inwardly bland

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Ravioli of Suffolk Pork, Berkswell cheese, peppered heart and kidneys (3.5/5)

Competently done, though the pork was in hard mince lumps.

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Raw Hokkaido scallops, dashi jelly, apple, shiso, avocado and wasabi puree (4.25/5)

It was interesting to have the earthy and peppery contrast between the dashi jelly and the wasabi in the puree.

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Braised ox cheek, roasted bone marrow, sourdough crumb, carrot, horseradish mash

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Roasted bream, Bouillabaisse, saffron aioli, Provencal vegetables (3.5/5)

A bit dry, and a hint of fishiness in the bream. But the bouillabaisse sauce was thick, and of a pleasant one-dimensional savory note, though lacking in the complexity of the best fish stews. A competent rendition.

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Gin and lemon sorbet with cucumber jelly (palate cleanser)

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Grapefruit tonic with juniper syrup (palate cleanser)

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Strawberry, orchids, litchi, yoghurt, white chocolate (3.5/5)

While I appreciate the effort in digging out the individual vesicles of grapefruit, my dessert was undistinguished except for the little hint of the exotic in the lychee (exotic relative to the vaguely-pan-western, tapas-ish positioning of Aberdeen Street Social)

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JAAL 75%, chocolate, banana, calamansi, Madras curry

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Mignardises: Pistachio financier, chocolate, pineapple jelly 2014-07-17 19.41.41 2014-07-17 19.50.30


Angel’s Share in Central, HK

Address: 2/F, Amber Lodge, 23 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong

Phone: +852 28058388

Angel’s Share is a serious whisky bar in the centre of HK. With a bar replete with Hibiki bottles infusing myriad whiskies with floral flavors, how could it not be? They have a large selection of whiskies here, including many Japanese whiskies. As a single-malt aficionado, I enjoyed browsing the lists here, and ended up returning a couple of days later.

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Not related, but cool.

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[X] Amber in Central, HK

Address: 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2132 0066

Amber will have its own write-up.


Full Cup Café in Mong Kok, HK

Address: 36 Dundas St, Mong Kok, Hong Kong
Phone:+852 2771 7775

Located in a back alley in Mong Kok, and occupying the 4th-6th floors of Hanway Commercial Centre, Full Cup Cafe is an indie cafe, which makes a virtue of HK’s large amo

Rents in HK are high for ground floor, street facing storefronts. The Fullcupcafé, which may be called indie and sketchy in equal measure, is located on the 4th-6th floors of Hanway Commercial Centre, in a back alley of the uber-crowded Mong Kok district. This cuts down on the rents. It is a nice place to hang out, and they sometimes have indie performances there.

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And while we’re on the subject of Mong Kok, the Goldfish Market (Tung Choi Street North) has some very pretty aquatic and pet life.


Islam Food 清真牛肉館 in Kowloon City, HK

Address: 1 Lung Kong Rd, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2382 2822

Rating: 4.5/5

Islamic Chinese food is something I had no experience of before stepping into Islam Food. Festooned with Openrice plaque awards for best food in Kowloon City, this main shop (another branch exists on 33-35 Tak Ku Ling Road a couple of streets away) serves a bevy of interesting dishes. A definite place to return to.

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Veal Goulash (Biscuits) (4.75/5)

The inner part comprised of a meaty liquid surrounding a mince patty of veal, like a xiaolongbao. First time I’ve seen it on a buscuit.

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Sesame Oil Chicken (4.5/5)

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Lamb Curry (4/5)

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Chicken, Noodles, Peanut Sauce (4/5)

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Vegetables

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Mrs Sweetie 口甜舌滑 in Kowloon City, HK

Address: 7A Nga Tsin Wai Rd,, Kowloon City, Hong Kong

Phone: +852 2718 2328

A traditional dessert store in Kowloon City. Many of these, I had not seen in Singapore.

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Durian Paste with Sago

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公司涼粉 (3.75/5)

Distinguished mainly for the taste and texture of nata-de-coco-strips, and the various textures of bean (mung beans and red beans) within.


Le Salon de Thé de Joël Robuchon in Central, HK

Address: Shop 315, The Landmark, Central, Hong Kong

Phone: (852) 2166 9000.

To my knowledge, this is the one Joel Robuchon outlet in the world serving afternoon tea. This Salon outlet was located within spitting distance from the McDonald’s of haute-cuisine, L’Atelier Robuchon. (Even Robuchon confesses himself perplexed as to why his HK outlet is rated a 3-Michelin-starred restaurant: https://chefgeeta.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/joel-robuchon-worlds-50-best/)

Before going to HK, I did not know that afternoon tea was a big tradition there. Having the afternoon tea set, I liked the prawn sandwich best. (Afternoon tea sometimes strikes me more as class signifier than aesthetic experience)

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The Mandarin Cake Shop in Central, HK

Address: 2nd floor of the Mandarin Oriental HK

While walking through the Landmark complex of 4 shopping centres, I was struck by the pretty cakes on display at the Mandarin Cake Shop. So we had a second round of afternoon tea at the patisserie section of the Mandarin.

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Mille-feuille (3.5/5)

A bit soggy. And basically impossible to cut without squishing the cream all out, if you didn’t have a knife.

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Chocolate Caramel (4/5)

Salty and sticky, under the chocolate overtones

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Green Tea Cake (3.75/5)


Kau Kee Restaurant 九記牛腩 in Central, HK

Address: 21 Gough St, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2850 5967

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On our way from the Mandarin Oriental we walked by these two interesting characters. One was mimicking the picture of “His Master’s Voice” outside the HMV store, and the other was simply resting in the middle of a busy luxury shopping-street.

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Impressive enough to warrant its own Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kau_Kee_Restaurant), the hideously inexpensive Kau Kee features a queue of 20-30 minutes to get your beef brisket noodle fix. Tables of 2 are waved in faster than tables of 3 or 4. The gelatinous cuts of brisket go well with the QQ/al dente noodles, which have a springiness that brings to mind instant ramen. The noodle dough is clean-tasting with clear egg tastes.

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Beef brisket noodles (3.75/5)

Curry beef brisket noodles (4.25/5)


Quinary in Central, HK

Address: Ground Floor 56-58 Hollywood Road Central, Hong Kong.

An ambitious cocktail bar, considered one of the best in HK. Also, they serve the sour-cream tasting tapioca chips, which are combustible. Angel’s Share also serves it.

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Barbados Heritage: “Extra Old” Mount Gay Rum, Grand Marnier, Drambuie, Pernod Absinthe mist, chocolate bitters

The burnt cinnamon stick – aromatic. Strong tangerine flavors.

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Mugunghwa Fizz: homemade yuzu-gin syrup, gin, cream, lemon juice, lime juice, shaken. Topped with Korean rice wine with dashes of orange blossom water and grapefruit peel. (4.5/5)

Interesting, texture like an egg-cream without custard taste-notes, and instead tasting like sake.

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The Roundhouse in Central, HK

Address: 62 Peel St, Hong Kong

Phone:+852 2366 4880

And finally to round off, a new Texas-style BBQ joint cum pub in Central. The brisket is good, though the pulled pork in keeping with Texan stereotype, is a step behind.

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