Dinner @ Sushi Saito (Hong Kong)

October 28, 2018 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

My August 2018 trip to Hong Kong came about because of Sushi Saito. Yes, Sushi Saito! I read about chef-owner Takashi Saito of Sushi Saito opening an outlet in Hong Kong in March 2018. But imagine my surprise when my friend suddenly sent me a text in mid March saying “I am invited to HK Sushi Saito for priority reservation. Interested?” Of course! That goes without saying!!! And with that, my friend went ahead and made reservation for us.

For lunch, 14 nigiri sushi and soup were served for HKD1480. As for dinner, Sushi Saito served 6 kinds of appetisers and 10 nigiri sushi with soup at HKD3280. Our choice? My friend and I went with dinner. And between the 2 seatings (6pm and 8.30pm), we went with the first seating. But to secure our reservation, we had to make a deposit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it with credit card. But thankfully I had a friend working in Hong Kong who helped us with the bank transfer.


Needless to say, it was with much excitement that my friend and I arrived at the restaurant. With only 1 menu that was made known to us previously, we started our omakase dinner (HKD3280) with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Horsehair crab (kegani).

2) Dish #2 (above) – Abalone (awabi) and octopus (tako).


3) Dish #3 (above) – 3 types of sea urchin. Starting from the top and in clockwise direction was short spine (bafun) from Hokkaido, red (aka) from Kyushu and violet (murasaki) from Hokkaido. The red sea urchin was awesome. Our favourite of the 3. And I further read that the plate used was 九谷燒 made during the Meiji period. Wow.


  

4) Dish #4 (above) – Mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with crispy seaweed (nori).

5) Dish #5 (above) – Monkfish liver (ankimo).


6) Dish #6 (above) – Grilled tuna’s back cheek (kama-toro) with grated radish, served alongside eggplant.

  
  
  
  
  
  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Nigiri sushi assortment of big-eye snapper (kinmedai), striped jack (shima-aji) with chopped spring onion, gizzard shad (kohada), baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), 2 weeks aged tuna (akami), premium fatty tuna (otoro), squid (ika), horse mackerel (aji), short spine sea urchin (bafun uni), and clam (hamaguri).

8) Dish #8 (above) – Soup.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Thick sushi roll (futomaki) of kanpyō (pickled gourd), cucumber, sea urchin (uni), sea eel (anago), tiger prawn (kuruma-ebi) and egg omelette (tamago).

  

10) Dish #10 (above) – Egg omelette (tamago) which interestingly had 2 different textures.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Musk melon.

For someone like me who could only dream of eating at Sushi Saito Tokyo, dining at Sushi Saito Hong Kong was an equally beautiful dream come true. But of course my dining experience could not be compared to the authentic ‘Sushi Saito experience’ as we didn’t have chef Saito san himself since he had to be back at his flagship outlet. Instead, the Hong Kong outlet was led by chef Ikuya Kobayashi who came from the Tokyo team.

Nonetheless, I was thrilled to finally try Sushi Saito’s signature dishes which Koba san brought to the table as close as he possibly could to Tokyo’s. Was super stoked to taste the cooked octopus (dish #2) and egg omelette (dish #10). In addition to the food that excited us, my friend and I had a fun time interacting with smiley and friendly Koba san.

Would I recommend Sushi Saito Hong Kong? Honestly… It’s my most expensive meal to date. And if one wants to be really picky and compare the price between Sushi Saito Hong Kong and Sushi Saito Tokyo, one could easily say it’s a total rip off. But! I was happy to part with the money because I am a huge sushi-lover and this would be the closest I could ever get to try ‘anything Saito’ since one needs to be a regular or be accompanied by a regular to dine at Sushi Saito Tokyo.

That said, even if one wish to dine at Sushi Saito Hong Kong, I was told by my friend that reservation at Sushi Saito Hong Kong is very much exclusive too. But do refer to their website for updates on the reservation process.

SUSHI SAITO HONG KONG
8 Finance Street, Four Seasons Hong Kong, 45/F, Central, Hong Kong
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 22:15 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8

Lunch @ Caprice (Hong Kong)

October 22, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

While having dinner with the friend who made August 2018′s gastronomic trip to Hong Kong possible, I was chided for having not blogged about the restaurants we went (in Hong Kong). But honestly, my backlog is really long; I have 30 restaurants to write, just from my trips alone. Gasp. But since it’s mentioned, I felt I should quickly review my topmost favourite restaurant from our Hong Kong trip. And yes, that’s Caprice!

I meant to dine at Michelin-starred Caprice earlier when I was in Hong Kong with my colleagues in May 2018 but the restaurant was serving a special menu as it was the Mother Day’s weekend. Since I preferred regular menu, my colleague and I went to Belon instead. But once I knew (in April) that I was returning to Hong Kong again in August, I made my reservation for weekday lunch by dropping Caprice an email.

In the same email, I enquired about the menu and got to learn there’s also a surprise tasting menu in addition to the set lunch and a la carte menus. The surprise tasting menu, also known as ‘Menu Carte Blanche’, was a 8-courses surprise menu prepared by head chef Guillaume Galliot. It was also mentioned in the email that the surprise menu will not be sent prior to lunch. Hmm, okie… I had to fill a credit card authorisation form too to secure my reservation.

I arrived at the restaurant 5 minutes prior to 12pm. And since I was early, I waited at the lounge before the staff led me to my table. And the waiting staff attending to me was informed of my interest in the surprise tasting menu as indicated in my reservation email. Upon seated, she said I could refer to their menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) before deciding if I wanted the lunch set or continue with my surprise tasting menu. It’s to note the latter was not shown in the presented menus.

No surprises that I stuck to my original choice. And with that, I started my Menu Carte Blanche (HKD2080) lunch with:-


1) Bread platter, Complimentary (above) – The staff came up with a basket of chilli challah, sesame brioche, mini baguette and chestnut rye bread. I really wanted to try one of everything, but I went with the sesame brioche only because I knew I had to save my stomach space for what’s to come. Appetite has shrunk much. Sob. And I was given salted and unsalted butter to pair with my bread.


  

2) Dish #1 (above) – Comprised of king crab, oyster and caviar, this was so good! The tangy potato foam worked well with the caviar in bringing out the sweetness of the king crab. And I liked the addition of cubed pickled celery as it introduced another texture into the dish. Brilliantly executed.


3) Dish #2 (above) – When I was presented with a vegetable dish for my 2nd course, my heart took a dip. How do I say this… I need some meat in my dishes. But! This was amazing. I called this the ‘everything tomato’ dish because it was literally so; Tomato bisque with a layer of tomato jelly (and tomato seed), various types of tomato which include pineapple tomato (the yellow one) and sea tomato (the green one), and a scoop of burrata cheese sprinkled with (even more) tomato powder. Really amazing. I shall not judge a vegetarian dish anymore. Kekeke.


4) Dish #3 (above) – Blue lobster was served within a glass dome so as to allow customers to get a sniff of the truffle & coriander within when the lid was opened.

5) Dish #4 (above) – Turbot, caviar on potato, and saffron sauce made with cream and herbs.


  

6) Dish #5 (above) – Before being plated, the waiting staff brought the whole racan pigeon to the table and explained it’s roasted and smoked inside a cocoa pod. And for the final product, the pigeon was served alongside foie gras, fig marmalade and white celery.


7) Dish #6 (above) – Roasted pork loin with pork juice, artichoke, French bean, black olive and artichoke purée.

8) Dish #7 (above) – At this point, I was presented with a large variety of freshly imported French cheese placed on an oak slab. There were more than 10 to choose from. Unfortunately, I am not too well-versed with my cheeses. So I said I had no preference. To which the staff said he will include Caprice’s signature in my cheese platter. 5 minutes later, he placed the plate in front of me and recommended me to start from my 6 o’clock and go clockwise. And the third would be Caprice’s signature. Can’t remember if he said it was aged 3.5 months or 3.5 years. Sorry. And to go with the cheeses, the staff also presented me with a bread platter. Again, I asked for recommendation and he mentioned the French would traditionally have their cheese with baguette although there’s also the second group who would prefer cracker. He personally preferred the former and I decided to go with that. And honestly, bread is always a (good) choice. Keke!

9) Palate cleanser, Complimentary (above) – Coconut biscuit with blueberry sorbet.


10) Dish #8 (above) – Blueberry panna cotta with figs that’s in season. This was really good!

11) Petit fours, Complimentary (above) – Chocolate puff, pineapple tart with mint, and chocolate with hazelnut and almond within. And I checked… The drawer was empty. Sob.

12) Coffee or tea, Complimentary (above) – And I went with coffee.

The interior of Caprice was nothing like any of the other fine dining restaurants I visited. Gigantic chandeliers hanged from the ceiling, thick lush carpet was used for the flooring, and gold back-painted frosted tiles were used for the elevated walkway which stretched the entire length of the dining hall. Everything screamed “luxurious” to me. And I felt like a VIP as I strutted down the ‘runway’, with staff greeting me as I walked past. And because my assigned table was at the furthest end from the entrance, I walked past the open-concept kitchen which was positioned in the middle of the space.

It should most likely be the fact that I was the earliest customer to start my lunch that I was given the most corner seat. But I somehow felt that it’s actually because they gave much consideration that I was a solo diner; Corner seat so that I wouldn’t be scrutinised by curious eyes of the lunch crowd which mainly came in groups. And it was a nice gesture to be given magazines just in case I needed something to kept myself occupied. Lovely! And yes, I dined at Caprice alone because my friend wanted to check out Bo Innovation which I had already tried in 2017.

I don’t have the habit of going to the toilet in the midst of my meal, but I was glad I did at Caprice. Enroute to the restaurant’s toilet, one could get a glimpse of the chefs plating before the food was sent out to customers. And as I walked back to my table, the staff caught sight of me and strode before me to pull the heavy leather-cushioned chair out for me. Nice. I also noticed I was given a new napkin which was placed on a plate instead of directly onto the table. Wow.

Everything was top-notch. Food, service and ambience. I absolutely enjoyed myself. And to top it, I had a clear view of the Victoria Harbour! It was a flawless lunch experience. I highly recommend 2 Michelin stars Caprice. And including tax, I paid HKD2288 for lunch. But do note that one will need to be at the restaurant by 1pm if one wishes to order the surprise tasting menu during lunch!

CAPRICE
8 Finance Street Central, Four Seasons Hotel, 6/F, Central, Hong Kong
+852 3196 8860, Website
Overall: 9
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 9
Mon – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 9
Mon – Sun : 18:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 9

Dinner @ Magic Square [Revisit]

October 18, 2018 in Asian by thywhaleliciousfay

After trying June, July and August menus by the 3 chefs at Magic Square, I thought that was the end of my visits to Magic Square since I tend not to revisit the same restaurant too soon. But my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend) really wanted to check out the place. And thus, I agreed to head back again. Ha. However, what I didn’t expect was for the reservation process to be so painful (The previous 3 visits with my siao-on instagram foodie friends were reserved by @abbey_thebolobao).

Following the instruction on Magic Square’s website, I sent our reservation request in mid August via whatsapp for Saturday in late September. However, I was told it’s fully booked. As such, I requested for any Friday (2nd seating) in September but didn’t receive any reply. Slightly frustrated, I resent another text 8 days later with a list of Fridays and Saturdays for October. But I received a text only 3 days later. And in it, I was informed that only the 1st seating was available for October’s Fridays and Saturdays. By now, I was frustrated at the slow and inefficient reservation process. But thankfully, another friend was heading down to Magic Square and helped to make my reservation at the restaurant itself. So yes… With my friend’s help, my IGGF and I managed to snagged a reservation for mid October. But no, we didn’t get our preferred Friday slot. We got a Thursday. 2nd seating of course!

While one should be punctual, one need not reach too early if one is in the 2nd seating because there isn’t any (proper) waiting area. One have to stand around until patrons of the 1st seating clears out. Which is usually around 8.05pm. And once everyone reached, Ken Loon or Gabriel Chan would start off with an opening speech before chef-of-the-month takes over. And it was a great coincidence that chef Abel Su was responsible for October’s menu because of the 3 that I tried, his was my favourite. But for the record, all 3 chefs are great.

Chef Abel started the dinner by sharing October’s menu was a sequel to his July’s menu. “I’m using philosophy of Chinese ingredient through a more contemporary mind set,” he explained. And after the presentation, we started our 9-course menu ($78) with:-


1) Dish #1 (above) – Chef Abel explained the standard recommendation from the fish mongers was to make fish ball when they bought the cougar pike. As such, he decided to play along with it and created this dish which was fish ball cougar-pike-ball wrapped with milk curd that’s done in the style of tofu. Further topped with cougar pike floss and vinaigrette made with fish bone. Really good.


2) Dish #2 (above) – A cold dish of chicken which was poached, cooked in sake and then shredded. Served with fish maw and goji berry sauce. The chicken was so tender and flavourful. I enjoyed it on its own. Didn’t really like the sauce.

3) Dish #3 (above) – Seared langoustine (tail) on sesame leaf tempura, topped with fresh sesame leaf and aged tangerine peel vinegar.


4) Dish #4 (above) – Boiled cabbage stuffed with chicken breast and its liver, angelica and onions. We were told it was also grilled for its smokiness. Accompanying paste was made with onion. Lots of it. If I didn’t hear wrongly, 15kg worth of onions were used.


5) Dish #5 (above) – Japanese turnip. Sous vide before grilled like a steak. Served with sauce made from roasted chicken skin, and crispy bits of chicken skin.


  

6) Dish #6 (above) – Chicken wings were deboned and stuffed with chestnut, shiitake mushroom and mochi before they are double fried, and glazed with caramel. We were encouraged to use our hands, and it was a delicious messy affair.


7) Dish #7 (above) – Chef Abel mentioned the other parts of the langoustine (head and shell) were used for this dish. Served with pickled radish, mustard green, crumbs and light emulsion. Really good. The langoustine risotto was so rich!


  

8) Dish #8 (above) – Peach gum (cooked in coconut water) layered over with osmanthus-flavoured shaved ice. I didn’t really like this though.


9) Dish #9 (above) – Black sesame tartlette and black sugar ice cream.

Having dined here 4 times now, I could confidently say Magic Square never fail to surprise and deliver. This (October) meal was outstanding. My IGGF and I were gushing over most of the dishes. My favourites were the langoustine dishes and chicken wing. And noting that the 3 chefs rotate and that Magic Square is a year-long project, it’s inevitable (for me) to make comparison; I compared chef Abel’s July and October menus and I could definitely see he is progressing and getting better! I am already looking forward to what he will bring to the table in January 2019. Yes, going to make reservation!

And I am also glad to say Magic Square has improved their reservation system. During our dinner, we were told we could make our reservation online through their instagram page.

I highly recommend one to check out Magic Square.

MAGIC SQUARE 田
5B Portsdown Road, Singapore
8181 0102, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 12:00 – 13:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:15 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon, Sun