Saturday, October 30, 2010

BPO Wine Bar & Restaurant - Beecroft

Let's take a bit of a break from HK.

Back in Sydney, my partner decided to have dinner some place local ish (as it was after work and it was kinda quite late). After a quick flick through the Entertainment book, my partner got intrigued by the decription of the decor of one of the restaurants in Beecroft - a transformed Post Office from who knows when.

BPO Wine Bar & Restaurant

My partner said that this was a modern Australian restaurant, but I believe that it's more Italian in nature. We were served by an old friendly man. However, his English either wasn't perfect or was slightly slurred - we actually had some difficulties understanding what he was saying half the time LOL

Nonetheless, we managed to order after much deliberation. We ordered an Antipasto misto ($25) to share. This had a big selection of stuff - salami, eggplant, marinated veges, olives, proscuitto/ham, sundried tomatoes, artichoke, and smoked salmon. Served with some crummy looking bread (yes - I remember from my trip to Italy that Italians do crap bread), the platter was actually pretty good. My partner thought that the salami was pretty good - light yet brings along a quite a strong meaty slightly hot taste. I thought that the ham was awesome. Extremely tasty and well smoked - tender, not too salty, yet appetising and easy to just keep eating.

Antipasto misto - $25

As for mains, my partner ordered the Penne Prawns ($25),. Tomatoey chunks throughout, it was very very strongly aromatically tomatoey. It also had really fresh yummy tasting prawns throughout, garlicy in flavour, just a hint of chilli and basil on top. It wasn't bad. But it wasn't super super awesome (but I do have a cream-sauce pasta bias).

Penne Prawns - $26

I ordered the Quattro Stagioni Pizza ($22). The waiter said that this means "four seasons". With the pizza out - I couldn't figure out which topping was which season, so maybe te pizza's name just exemplifies four flavours? There's mushrooms, prawns, prosciutto and artichokes. Honestly, this pizza was pretty damn good. The pizza base was just the right thickness. Crunchiness throughout the base yet soft and fluffy at the same time. Wow! Pizza base definately suited my tastes. On top of it all, I have to say, the prosciutto topping was sooooooo awesome!!! Savoury, soft, tender and HEAPS. Pizzas I dislike are pizzas with little topping. This pizza (especially the prosciutto bit) had topping abundantly. It was really really yum. The other bits - mushies, artichokes and prawns were all OK too but just not as awesome as the proscuitto :P

Quattro Stagioni Pizza - $22

And dessert? We were both fully stuffed. There was no way we could fit in dessert. LOL

All up? This restaurant is not bad. Italian influenced food with Italian influenced waiters (of whom are difficult to understand ... but friendly). The ambiance is awesome! Stylish and arty ish... you can see they tried. Would I return? Well, there's quite a few restaurants we walked past in Beecroft with super yummy-tasting aroumas floating out... so maybe they're next on the agenda first?

Food - 7.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 29.5/40

BPO Wine Bar & Restaurant
95a Beecroft Rd,
NSW, 2119
Tel: (02) 9980 5011

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vietnamese in HK

I have to say, this trip is probably the first time I've eaten Vietnamese in Hong Kong. But, from recommendations from a foodie magazine, and from a honky friend, I visited Viet restaurants twice this trip.

The first one was recommended by a magazine - New Paris Vietnam Restaurant (新巴黎越南餐廳). Yes - weird name. When I think "new paris", I'm thinking French restaurant. Housed in a building full of restaurants in Island Beverly at Causeway Bay, it is a slightly dicey looking place - with lots of youngsters visiting because of the price and the quality (or perhaps, quantity).

My uncle rarely listens to me when I tell him that I'm not hungry, so as per usual, we had too much food on the table. We ordered the 2 person set menu (which was less than HK$200 ie. around AUD$25 ish), and this is what we got...

First - the house soup was watercrest and pork soup. Amazingly, this is not super oily like a lot of soups you get from other honky cafey places. It's quite clear and flavoursome and with lots of watercrest (which I love). So not too bad.

watercress and pork bone soup

Contrastingly, we had a plate of mixed greens with like, MAX oilage. It was soooooo oily that I think it made the veges unhealthy. I think my uncle saw past the oil and polished the plate off.

mixed veges

There was also the steamed rice paper rolls. Whilst rice paper rolls in Sydney tend to be served cold with salad, I think they modified this to suit honky taste. It's steamed - meaning it's warm. There's veges inside. And it's kind of like the steamed rice rolls that you normally get at yum cha (with the BBQ pork or the prawns or the beef) except with more filling and all this flavoursome stuff on top (e.g. the dried shrimpy things and deep-fried onion flakes).

steamed rice rolls

We also got housemade lobster balls. These were actually really really good. Tender and sweet on the inside, deep-fried slightly crispy/crunchiness on the outside. Mmm... The chicken wings were... chicken wings? My partner would have appreciated these I think. Deep-fried crunchy skin, again - tasty and flavoursome.

lobster balls and chicken wings

On top of all this, we also got a pho each! My one was with combination meat (like, porky artificial stuff but not quite spam) and my uncle got a chicken pho. To be honest, I think that the pho was actually pretty good but because I was so full by the time this came, I didn't get to eat much of this at all.

combination meat pho
chicken pho

The most disappointing thing must be the pineapple ice. I was expecting pineapple shaved ice but what I got was glucose water with pineapple bits, ice and red/orange food colouring... *sighz* I wanted like a slurpy style normal pineapple shaved ice!!! >.<
pineapple ice

The viet place that our honky friend took us to was Nha Trang (芽莊) at Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui. Pretty busy on a Saturday - and the waitress weren't the most friendly - but the food was actually pretty decent. My friend claimed that it had better pho than Sydney.

Whilst waiting for our friends to come, we ordered an ice coffee each. This was OMG strong. Like, super super super stong and super super sweet. Enough to put you on a buzz for quite some time.

iced coffee

We had the rice noodle with mixed shredded carrots and green stuff with big prawns. I didn't get to try this, but our friend who was a chef in a 5-star hotel didn't stop eating it with the restaurants home-made fish sauce cocktail - which must mean that it's pretty decent! :)

rice noodle salad with prawns

We had satay beef and satay chicken. The meat was yummy and tender but I don't think there was enough satay sauce. Skewered and pan-fried til slightly browned but not burnt.

satay beef
satay chicken

The pho with sliced beef was awesome pretty good. Quite a good pho - the soup was clear and subtly full of flavour. Not some cloudy soup which makes you wonder what they put in it to make it taste good - but rather, it's just clean tasting and delicious.

beef pho

We also had soft-shell crab rice paper rolls. These were refreshing and crunchy and nice too - but probably not the best rice paper rolls in the world.

soft shell crab rice paper roll

Sugarcane prawns were quite awesome! The sugarcane was emitted sweet juices when you bit and chewed into it, adding sweet tastes when combined with bashed up prawn meat. LOL. Mmm... yum.

sugarcane prawn

One of the really really good dishes for the day was the pork neck meat. Sooo unhealthy... it was a layer of super crispy thin skin, a huge layer of fat, and some super juicy tender meat. Melt-in-your-mouth moment - but probably unhealthy enough to clog many arteries :)

pork neck meat

So viet in HK? Not bad. Kind of different. Still value for money.

New Paris Vietnam Restaurant - 新巴黎越南餐廳 :

Nha Trang - 芽莊 :

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Desserts in HK

One of the 'not to be missed' food things in HK is the plentifulness of desserts. There's traditional traditional asian "sweet soup" dessert, contemporary asian desserts, as well as westernised desserts (including icecream!).

For contemporary hongky desserts, we went to Honeymoon Desserts ( 滿記甜品). These are seriously - ALL over HK. It used to be good but nowadays, better quality can be found elsewhere. But because of convenience (and the need for a place to sit and eat during the day), we visited this dessert place many times.

One of our favourite honky desserts is the Mango Pompelo and Sago sweet soup. At Honeymoon Desserts, this was just average, but refreshing nonetheless after being in 90% humidity and shopping all day and night. My partner decided to add grass jelly to his. Similarly average though, I think.

Mango pompelo and sago sweet soup

mango pompelo and sago sweet soup with grass

My parents like the more traditional type of sweet soups - such as the walnut sweet soup with tofu pudding and the black sesame sweet woup with thai black glutinous rice. As they don't frequent other dessert places quite as much as my partner and I, I believe that they found the desserts to be OK (possibly a bit on the sweet side though).
Tofu pudding and walnut sweet soup
sesame soup and thai black glutinous rice

Whilst Honeymoon Desserts have declined in quality over the years, many good quality new dessert places have sprung up all over town. One of these is called Five generations dessert (五代同糖). Famous desserts at this place includes "sawdust pudding" (木槺布甸) of different flavours. Sawdust pudding comprises of layers of whipped cream and condensed milk (I think) and biscuit crumbs - oreos, in my case. This tastes a bit like icecream... like, cookies and cream icecream, but a bit more creamy - OR it's kind of like an Oreo McFlurry with heaps and heaps of Oreo :). It's supposed to be best tasting when frozen well.

Oreo sawdust pudding

Another famous type of dessert at this place is the shaved ice (Taiwanese style - 雪花冰), which again, can be ordered in many flavours (e.g. chocolate, taro, mango, green tea). Our choice for the day was mango with pompelo. Shaved ice is OMG awesomeness!!! It's sooooooo good!!! Indescribable really. The shaved ice is like an icey icecream, super mangoey (in my case) and the shavedness brings about a really light texture. Healthy icecream accompanied by lots of mango and pompelo shavings and mango juice. Definately need this in Australia!!! *drools*

mango pompelo shaved ice

We also ordered a dessert tasting plate to share between the three of us. From the left, there is the creme caramel, the strawberry crumble, chocolate fondant, and green tea icecream. I'm not a fan of creme caramels, but my friend and my partner absolutely loved it! I tried a bit... it was super creamy and sweet. The strawberry crumble was also okay, but not my cup of tea. What WAS my cup of tea was the chocolate fondant. Perfectly soft centered with the chocolate molten just ooozzzinnnggg out when you crack it open. Very chocolately and very satisfying. YUM. The green-tea iceacream was just normal LOL

Dessert tasting plate

My partner's relatives also took us to a famous authentic traditional dessert place in Sheung Wan called Yuen Kee Dessert (源记甜品). It's supposed to have been a family owned business for 100 odd years (and possibly the oldest dessert place in HK). Being fully traditional, there are some popular contemporary favourites which aren't available here - not even mango with sago. As such, my partner ordered sweet steamed egg (炖蛋). This is eggy, lighter than custard, but super super sweet. Stuff that my partner can eat bowls and bowls of, but I can only like a spoonful.

Steamed egg dessert

I opted for an almond sweet soup. This was not your powered stuff. I could tell that this was super super almondy, hopefully grinded by the shop themselves. It was smooth, just the right thickness, maybe just a touch too sweet - but definately left you feeling warm and good inside. The shop was packed out on the night we were there - so they must still be standing after 100 years for a reason!

Almond sweet soup

Another must visit dessert outlet for us is Hui Lau San (許留山). We met up with one of our friends who currently lives in Taiwan, and he absolutely loves this place! Must be because of the mangoness. My partner ordered the mango with sago overload. I thought that the sago bits were sitcking together a bit too much - not as nice as it is in other dessert places.

Mango with lots of sago

On another occasion, we ordered a trio of mango desserts. There's the glutinous rice balls with mango in mango juice, mango sorbet with mango bits and birds-nesty type stuff, as well as a mango lo mai chi. Again, this was all very mangoey but average ish.

Trio of mango desserts

What I think Hui Lau San is experted on are their drinks. No-one can beat how awesome their drinks are. I LOVE their aloe, mango and coconut sago drink. It's simply THE BEST! It's awesomely refreshing, just the right sweetness, with aloe jelly and the sago and the mango bits being really really amazingness. I could drink this everyday! (but then I'll be like 100kgs) LOL

aloe mango coconut sago drink

One of the dessert places that my partner and I used to love and go to repeatedly is Lucky Dessert (發記甜品). This used to be in Causeway Bay behind Sogo, but has since moved. There's a few stores now, one still in Causeway, and one in Mong Kok and a few other's elsewhere. As it was soooo hot that night, and I felt like shaved ice (healthy icecream :P), so I ordered a mango shaved ice. Maybe it was the lack of mango juice everywhere, but this was less yummy compared to the one at Five Generations Dessert, but it was still nice. Served with chunks of fresh mango? Mmmm.

Mango shaved ice

My partner ordered a mango puff. This was ... umm... interesting? I'm quite undecided about this. Yes, the pastry smelt amazing~! and there was soooo much mango in this. BUT... the mango was warm because the whole thing was baked fresh! They need someway of making the pastry fresh whilst keeping the mango cold. That would be perfect. But as it is now, the mango is warm and mushy and not quite how I like it.

Mango puff

So enough of asian desserts, onto icecreams! :) Everytime I go to HK, I simply HAVE to have Häagen-Dazs. Possibly the yummiest icecream place ever! kekeke. On one occasion, I ordered a scoop of chocolate cookie fudge. It was sooo decadent. Chocolatey, with chocolate cookies and super smooth and rich and just deliciousness!!! :)

Chocolate cookie puff

Another time when we ate in at a Häagen-Dazs shop, my partner ordered the "Tiramisu Charm". This comprised of a small Tiramisu cake with blobs of coffee ice cream on top and served with 2 icecream balls (baileys and tiramisu). This was very yum apart from the twig looking thing which decorated the tiramisu. According to the waiter, "it's edible, everything on the plate is edible". However, this twiggy-looking thing is a spaghetti which has been ovened and deep fried and tastes like... yummm... plastic? No - don't eat it. LOL. However, the tiramisu itself as well as the ice-cream blobs were simply awesome!

Tiramisu charm

I ordered the "Halloween surprise!". I couldn't not order it. It was in the shape of a burger! Admitedly, it looked more "burger-like" in the photo. The top, middle and bottom layers were sponge cake. Mint leaves scattered throughout with peach bits EVERYWHERE, a layer of chocolate icecream - all sitting on a HUGE bed of strawberries. To be completely honest - I didn't think there was enough icecream in this. Wayyyy too many peaces (which I don't eat) and waaaayyy too many mint leaves. It met the "surprise" element as it doesn't have a description - but as to the "halloween" bit... how is a burger halloween?!?!

Halloween Surprise

Another chocolate icecream place we HAD to try (as recommended by a friend) was Awfully Chocolate. This is a relatively new icecream/chocolate cake place in Hong Kong but it's a franchise which is in several Asian countries (e.g. Singapore, Jakarta, Taipei). At the particular branch we visited, they didn't even have the chocolate cake - they ONLY had the icecream. So I guess the menu was - one scoop or two? LOL Surprisingly, for serving just one tub of icecream, there were FOUR (yes FOUR!!!) people behind the counter. So one person to scoop my icecream and one person to collect my money and one person to give me change and one person to... chat to me?

Awfully chocolate

Weird service aside, the chocolate "Hei" icecream was simply heavenly! OMG sooooooo chocolatey rich. Dark ish so not too sweet. It was extremely decadent and extremely filling. It's that type of icecream that you can't eat too much of at one time but you'd just keep coming back for more and more. Pretty awfully chocolatey.

double scoop of "Hei" icecream

Last but not least - not really a dessert - was a high tea with several friends. We had this at Spasso, an Italian restaurant and bar on the terrace at Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui.

High tea

Traditionally three tiered, the first had carrot cake, cheese cake and scone with Devonshire cream and jam. My partner was the only one of us who had the carrot cake (we weren't fans) and he said that it was really really awesome carrot cake. He also really liked the cheese cake. This was really quite dense and rich and really really cheesey. Not too bad. The scones were light and OK too.

carrot cake, cheese cake, scones

The second tier was actually my favourite. Homemade pastries (sausage puff pastry), sandwiches (cucumber, smoked salmon) and prosciutto with bread roll. So it wasn't the best sandwiches I've ever had, but a bit of savouriness satisfied me quite well. Especially the sausage puff pastry - YUM (almost as good as the cheesey sausages you get on the street :P).

sandwiches and pastries

Last tier had truffles, choc-dipped strawberries, and chocolate tubs with rasperry and blueberry. The strawberries were not as nice as those you get in Australia. The truffles were super super soft and really really chocolatey and cocoay coated. Mmm... And the fruit choc cups? Well, I actually didn't eat them. I don't do raspberry or blueberry haha. However, my friends said that it was pretty good.


High tea was served with tea or coffee. I chose an iced mocha. This was..... um........ average?

iced mocha

All up, there's desserts of all kind available in HK - and you can eat them til super late at night. I'm definately missing my mango desserts and Häagen-Dazs and Awfully Chocolate. Why is Sydney so boring sometimes? *sighz*

五代同堂 (Five Generations Dessert):
Shop G11, G/F Elizabeth House
No. 250-254 Gloucester Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3486 8528

25-31 Carnarvon Rd.,
Tsim Sha Tsui,
Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2723 3383

源记甜品 (Yuen Kee)
G/F, 32 Centre
Street, Sai Ying Pun
Tel: +852 2548 8687

Honeymoon Dessert:

許留山 Hui Lau San :

發記甜品 Lucky Desserts :

Häagen-Dazs :

Awfully Chocolate :

Spasso :

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tim Ho Won - Hong Kong

"You want to WHATTT???" was my first reaction when my partner (who normally does not wake before midday in HK) told me that he wishes to line up at 8am for this dim sim place. I was flabergasted. First, lining up at 8am for a shop which opens at 10am? Second, you want to wake up how early?!?!?!?!

Well, it never happened. Instead, we got to Tim Ho Won at 11am. We took a ticket and although we were warned by relatives that we might not be able to get a spot before 3pm, the lovely ticket lady said that just a half-hour wait was on the agenda.

So what's all the hype about Tim Ho Won that is making my sleepihead partner wanting to wake up early? Tim Ho Won is one of HK's one Michelin Star restaurants. In fact, it is the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. They don't allow takeaway (as they are scared that once you take it away, the quality is less good and will reflect less well on their dim sims), and there's only about 20 odd seats inside.

Tim Ho Wan

Waiting outside, you see two different lots of people. You have the young people and the foreigners who are showing up because it's a world-recognised place to eat, and you have the older generation who eat there because that's what they have always done. Despite recent fame, they have not hyped up the prices, making it just as affordable as it always has been. The decor and the service probably hasn't been improved either though LOL.

At the end of the day, it's all about the food. Yum-cha places are seriously, ALL OVER HK. To beat the rest of the pack and to stand out above all other yum-cha places, you'd probably have to be pretty spectacular. To my amazement, there was just one "special" type of dim sim. The ...cha siu bao... the rest of the dishes were just you're average joe that you can get at all other places except like BETTER. Everything made fresh to order.

The baked BBQ pork bun was something quite special. Like a pineapple bun (Po Lo Bao) coating but uber flaky and fresh. The whole bun was like... "OMG what am I eating? I don't know but it's delicious!" The bbq pork inside was tasty and complemented the flaky softness of the bread perfectly. It was truely something! But I can see how this is one of those dishes that probably taste better when eaten right away (and not taken away).

baked BBQ pork bun - HK$12

The chicken glutinous rice was HUGEness. It looked normal, but inside, it tasted much more yummy than the normal ones. The rice was sticker and chewier and tasted super delicious. Inside, it was stuffed with heaps and heaps of chicken and chinese sausage filling. Mmm.

Chicken glutinous rice - HK$20

A pretty spectacular dumpling was the steamed catfish, celery and turnip dumpling. I love dumplings and I love turnip so the combination of both was excellent. It was subtly sweet, the outside skin was super thin yet held it's shape. Lots of filling and flavours exploding from inside - it was pretty amazing.

steamed catfish, celery and turnip dumpling - HK$12

The deep fried yuba shrimp roll was something my partner was pretty flabaghasted about. The tofu sheet was really deep fried crispiness. Although it was the same stuff as normal yum cha, it was definately on a different level altogether.

deep fried yuba shrimp roll - HK$16

That was the same story for most of the dim sims. Same stuff but on an entirely different calibre. Everything was fresh, ingredients were awesome and everything was steamed to order. Especially the steamed beefball with bean curd skin - it was sooooooooooooo nice. Tender and soft and whilst normal looking, it tasted anything but normal. I think I'm salivating just thinking about how awesomely yummy everything was.

steamed rice roll sutffed with BBQ pork - HK$15

steamed fresh shrimp dumplings - HK$18

steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce - HK$12

pan-fired turnip cake - HK$10

steamed pork and shrimp dumpling - HK$18

steamed spareribs with black bean sauce - HK$12

steamed beefball with bean curd skin - HK$12

In all, this place is amazing. Seemingly a simple, small, packed and cramped yum-cha place but with superbly fresh and delicious dim sims. I strongly recommend lining up early - or taking a ticket early. If you take a ticket and go for a walk and you miss your number when you get back, it's actually OK - you get put on a separate shorter list so as long as you come back before 3pm. Don't expect superb service, but just awesomely cheap and delicious food. All up for the 5 of us, it was around HK$200 (ie. less than AUD$30!!!)

Food - 9.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 6.5/10
Value for money - 9/10
Overall - 32/40

Tim Ho Wan
Shop 8, 2-20 Kwong Wa Street
Mong Kok, Kowloon
Tel: +852 2332 2896
open daily 10am - 10pm