Dinner @ Belon (Hong Kong)

July 5, 2018 in French by thywhaleliciousfay

My colleague and I happened to travel to Hong Kong during Mother’s Day weekend. So it’s no surprise that most restaurants offered special menu instead. However I, on the other hand, wanted a regular menu since I blog about my dining experiences. And just as I was struggling to find a place, I saw pictures of Belon’s signature dish pigeon pithivier on instagram.

An email was sent and they confirmed that Belon would still be offering their regular menu. With that, reservation was made for 2 for a Sunday evening. Was really glad they were opened on Sundays too.

Opened in March 2016, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants by S. Pellegrino has already ranked the restaurant 40 on its 2018 list. As taken from Belon’s website… Belon, a neo-Parisian bistro reminiscing the food scene found in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, is led by head chef Daniel Calvert who has 10 years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), my colleague and I ordered:-


1) Appetiser, Complimentary (above) – Cream-mustard filled gougère. This was really good. Just look at the melted cheese. My colleague and I contemplated if we should ask for seconds, but we decided not to. Don’t want to throw our faces by seeming like gluttons lah.

2) Handmade natural leavened bread, Complimentary (above)

3) Crispy asparagus with “sauce gribiche”, HKD78 (above) – My colleague and I casually mentioned we would be sharing the dishes when our orders were taken, and it was nice that the waiting staff took (serious) note of it. When our dish was served, the kitchen portioned the asparagus into 2 for our ease of eating.

4) Foie gras “au torchon” with preserved blackberries, HKD328 (above)

5) Shima aji “salade nicoise”, HKD228 (above)


6) Merguez sausage sandwich with salsa verde, HKD158 (above) – This was really good. I especially liked that the texture of the homemade sausage (made with chicken and lamb) reminded me much of luncheon meat. Compressed luncheon meet. Keke.


7) Pigeon pithivier with fig and amaretto, HKD678 (above) – What no one mentioned was that it’s a dish for 2. So it was sad because I arrived at Belon with a colleague wanting to try as many dishes as possible. But, but… We could only try just 1 main. Sob. But thankfully this didn’t disappoint. A little on the heavy side, but we were 2 happy patrons.

8) Tarte au chocolate “bernard pacaud”, HKD158 (above) – We actually expected the chocolate to be hard, but were surprised when our forks sliced through very easily. Not too bad.

I definitely recommend Belon. My colleague and I had a good time dining at the restaurant. It’s a pity there was only 2 of us because I wanted to try other dishes; Roasted chicken and millefeuille.

And it’s another pity Belon was only open for lunch service on Sundays. When we arrived at 8.30pm, I noticed the space was dimly lit. And I felt that did the interior decor little justice because I could imagine how gorgeous the space would be to dine in during the day with sun rays entering through the window and lighting up the place. But I guess with the dim lights, the restaurant transited from ‘elegant yet relaxed’ in the day to ‘romantic and seductive’ in the night.

BELON
41 Elgin Street, SoHo, Hong Kong
+852 2152 2872, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tue – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Sun : 12:00 – 22:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ RŌNIN (Hong Kong)

June 30, 2018 in European, Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

In all my past trips to Hong Kong, I didn’t manage to check out RŌNIN simply because I reckoned it would be too difficult to secure a reservation. But for my May 2018 trip, I decided to give it a shot. Must be the confidence boast from dining successfully at RAW. Haha.

Thanks to my colleague’s reminder 2 weeks prior to our Hong Kong trip that I need to settle my accommodation (I am quite a procrastinator, sometimes), I remembered I was just in time to make reservation for RŌNIN; RŌNIN only accepts reservation 2 weeks in advanced. And I managed to get us a slot for Saturday evening. And between the 2 seatings (6.30pm and 8.45pm), we went with 6.30pm.

Currently ranked 41 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 by S. Pellegrino, my colleague and I arrived at the street (where RŌNIN is located) at 6.30pm sharp. However, we couldn’t locate the entrance because there was no shopfront signage. It was only when a group arrived a few minutes after us and entered a blue door against a blue wall that we figured out that had to be RŌNIN.

Seats were allocated based on first come first serve basis. And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Pre-appetiser, Complimentary (above)

2) Kurosoi black rockfish sashimi, HKD70 (above) – With daikon, ponzu, yuzu kosho.

3) Bonito tuna sashimi, HKD180 (above) – With daikoku, ice lettuce, yuzu kosho.

4) KFC sawagani crab, HKD130 (above) – With yuzu, sesame.


5) Flower crab, uni, HKD490 (above) – With mitsuba, sudachi.

6) Grilled kanpachi, HKD160 (above) – With kama, sake, ginger, sudachi.


7) Quail, HKD270 (above) – With orange, sansho.

8) Unagi chirashi, HKD270 (above) – With Kinome, pickled cucumber, sesame.

Will I recommend RŌNIN? Well… Izakaya is not a new concept in Singapore. RŌNIN somewhat reminded me of IZY in terms of ambience vibe and food (both served Japanese-influenced dishes). Food were generally good but one must order the correct dishes. My colleague and I were lucky that most of our orders were hits. Keke.

Seats were allocated on first-come-first-serve basis. Don’t be late because RŌNIN gives up one’s reservation after 15 minutes, and people do walk in and try their luck in taking over seats from latecomers. Gasp. My colleague and I were apparently the last group to reach. Thus, we were allocated seats that’s just right at the entrance. Noting there’s limited counter seats at the bar, I recommend one to reach earlier if one doesn’t want to sit facing the wall. Yeah, most of the seats are facing the wall.

RŌNIN
8 On Wo Lane, G/F, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
+852 2547 5263, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 00:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Takayama

June 27, 2018 in Japanese by thywhaleliciousfay

When I got to learn about Takayama through my IGGF (InstaGram GirlFriend), I was really interested in their dinner menu. And it was exciting that my IGGF was keen to join me in trying their dinner menu because she had been lunching at Takayama and she enjoyed the food so far.

However, I was undecided between the $280 and $380 menus. Both were 11-courses with the latter requiring at least 2-days advanced notice. In the end, I decided to go with the $380 menu because I figured I would be getting the real deal. I mean… Since head chef Taro Takayama knew my IGGF and she was contacting him directly to make our reservation, I figured he wouldn’t shortchange me. So with that, reservation was made with at least 1 week advanced notice.

Located at the ground level of OUE Downtown, it’s a 15 minutes walk from Raffles Place MRT station to Takayama. My IGGF went with the 8-course ($190) from the menu while I went ahead with the 11-course menu ($380) as pre-ordered. And with that, we started our dinner with:-

1) Takayama menu, $380 comprised of:-

(A) Dish #1 (above) – Young onion, sea urchin from Hokkaido and dashi jelly.


(B) Dish #2 (above) – Tofu souffle with hairy crab and summer truffle.


(C) Dish #3 (above) – Asparagus, somen and corn ice cream.


  

(D1) Dish #4 (above) – Otsukuri platter of baby white shrimp (shiro-ebi), pike eel with plum sauce, big-eye snapper (kinmedai) with vinegar jelly, Spanish mackerel with homemade plum sauce and radish, tuna tartare with frozen yolk within, blue fin tuna and mackerel stick sushi (saba bozushi) with kelp. The tartare was pretty interesting as chef Taro san shared that the yolk within was marinated in soya sauce to achieve its cheese-like texture.


(E) Dish #5 (above) – Sandwiched between the wafer biscuit (monaka) were foie gras (marinated with sake and mirin) and pickled watermelon skin (marinated in sake lees).

(F) Dish #6 (above) – Spotted prawn (botan-ebi) and raw egg plant in grape dressing.

(G) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone with two sauces; Sea urchin and abalone liver.


(H) Dish #8 (above) – Wild-caught eel with salt flakes, served with fermented barley and various vegetables.

(I) Dish #9 (above) – Rice with sea-caught salmon and pickles.

(J) Dish #10 (above) – Musk melon and mango.

(K) Dish #11 (above) – Pumpkin and green pea (usui-endo) jellies.

2) Alcohol pairing, $98 (6 types) (above)

It was an enjoyable meal because I had the company of my IGGF. It’s no secret that I am really shy with new faces. But with my IGGF, I was about to converse freely with friendly chef Taro san. However food wise, I didn’t think it was worth the $380 price tag.

Compared to my IGGF’s $190 8-course menu, the additional dishes that I got for my 11-course menu was somen (dish #3) and abalone (dish #7). The other differences were i) eel was used instead of hairy crab for her souffle (dish #2), ii) she got snapper with soya foam instead of blue fin tuna (dish #4), iii) huge sweetfish (ayu) instead of eel (dish #8), and iv) wine-marinated peach instead of mango (dish #10). Which honestly, I felt the dishes only justified a $280 instead of $380 menu. Even the plating between the $190 and $380 were the same. I guess I was disappointed because I was expecting more. At least 1 really special ingredient since advanced notice was even given.

Will I recommend Takayama? Well, for a traditional kaiseki experience, I would recommend elsewhere. But I would not give Takayama a total miss. If one is in the CBD area, one could still check out Takayama but stick to the $190 or $280 menu. Don’t go beyond $280.

TAKAYAMA
6A Shenton Way, OUE Downtown, #01-09/10, Singapore
6224 0864, Website
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 5
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun