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Archive for the ‘Causeway Bay’ Category

Last week, P was craving udon and a quick search brought us to the Causeway Bay Branch of Butagumi Tonkatsu. It’s actually a restaurant which specializes in pork cutlets deep-fried in Japanese breading, panko, and that was fine with us. Udon and katsu? Yummy. A little research after our visit revealed there is a Butagumi in Tokyo which serves haute tonkatsu, including Spanish Iberico ham tonkatsu (ohhhhhhh) but I haven’t figured out if they’re related (for more information on that restaurant and tonkatsu, check out this excellent write-up from food blogger Tomostyle). My guess is perhaps not, since the photos of that place look very different from the restaurant we went to.

In any case, our experience at Butagumi Tonkatsu was very positive, starting from when we first walked in and were seated in one of their many semi-private dining areas.

The menu was as informative as it was functional, as the first two pages were devoted to the ingredients essential to tonkatsu. It was all in Chinese, so I definitely missed out on the full explanations, but it definitely made me feel like this was a restaurant that took its food seriously. A good sign. And actually, hearty kudos go to our waiter, who seemed like a student in his mid-twenties, who had great English and patiently explained each portion of our meal, and all the acoutrements.

P ordered a A + B set, in which you choose a tonkatsu selection and a deep-fried seafood dish, along with a side of udon and salad. I got the stewed pork udon, which came highly recommended, as the adorable tonkatsu men on the menu indicated.

Our waiter first brought out a bowl of toasted sesame seeds and a pestle. He explained that once the tonkatsu comes out, we simply had to crush the seeds to release the flavors and pour in some of the thick, brown tonkatsu sauce for a dipping sauce.

Then our orders came out. Mine was first, a giant, piping-hot stone pot of udon. There were bits of seaweed, corn, bamboo shoots, and gorgeous marbled pork. The broth was a bit fishy, but overwhelmingly porky, having soaked up all the flavors of the slowly stewed pork. Lip-smackingly good. The udon was a bit softer than I’d like, so that’d be a point for improvement. The pork was the highlight: It fairly dissolved in my mouth, alternate chews of lean meat and the slippery sensation of fatty pork belly. Mmmm. We also got the gyoza, which were surprisingly crunchy on the outside. I’d definitely order those again.

P’s set was served with the requisite shredded lettuce, which was a wonderful antidote to the fried cutlet. The lettuce came with bottomless refills. I loved the citrus dressing (the bottle with the red top) that had a hint of orange and lemon. The pork cutlet itself was moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Panko is great for keeping the texture, and they must have had a high-quality fryer (the machine or a technically skilled person) to achieve this consistency. I didn’t have any of the shrimp, but P assured me they were delicious as well.

All in all, we had a great experience at Butagumi Tonkatsu. The service was friendly, the cutlet was crisp, and the pork belly was delightful. I would highly recommend this place for anyone looking for tonkatsu in Hong Kong. There were also katsu sandos on display outside the restaurant, so I’ll definitely have to come back for lunch and get one as well…

Butagumi Tonkatsu
7/F, The Goldmark, 502 Hennessy Road
3428 2862
Cost: ~ $100-120/person 

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Hello everyone, I just got back from London earlier this week! There are so many yummy places to write about, but before I get into all that, I just wanted to update a post I had from 2009 when I raved about SML, which was then newly opened in Times Square. Don’t bother reading that post, as things have gone completely downhill since then! P took me there for dinner as a “welcome home” meal and it was disappointing in both food and value.

For one, the portion sizes seemed to have shrunk while the prices ballooned. We ordered a spicy lamb kebab that was one sad chunk of meat on a skewer which had as much spice as malt-o-meal. What’s worse, it cost $64 for that, a small plate of yogurt dipping sauce and some sauteed onions. My cranberry juice was the worst – at $35, I got a third of a short tumbler, which lasted about five sips. Afterwards we visited CitySuper where I saw a whole carton of Ocean Spray for $22. Definitely a rip-off.

Our bill came to around $400 for two drinks, and about five or six bland small plates, after which we were not actually full. As they say in Hong Kong, “Never again!”

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One symptom, I think, of being a “foodie” is an almost obsessive-compulsive need to research every eatery you will ever visit. And while I haven’t yet figured out if being called a “foodie” is a good label or a bad one (or whether I fit into that category, no less), I will concede that I spend a fair amount of time googling restaurants and their subsequent reviews.

Last Sunday, P challenged me again to lay off the internet searches and simply find a restaurant the old-fashioned way: walking around. That’s how we found ANA Sushi in Causeway Bay. We were looking for something Japanese (and CWB is definitely a great place to do it!), looked up at a tall building on Lockhart Road, and realized there were tons of options inside. I don’t know what prompted P to pick 5th floor, but I’m glad he did because we found one of my favorite reasonably-priced sushi places to date.

I didn’t know it at the time, but ANA Sushi is just one branch of the ANA group, which also has an oyster bar (on a different floor of the same building), and the recently opened ANA Gura in Central (with a chef who previously worked at Inagiku). We loved ANA Sushi so much we visited a second time, just a week later.

After exiting the elevator, we stepped over large black square stones scattered around smooth dark pebbles into a dimly lit dining room. There were tables of various sizes on the left and the right sides, with a long sushi bar at the front. On our second visit, we also noticed a private tatami room.

Place setting at ANA Sushi

The service was fairly good, with wait staff functional in Putonghua and English in addition to their native Cantonese. (I will emphasize the “functional” part – don’t expect fluent English by any means.) Both times we were at ANA Sushi, we decided to create our own “tasting menu” of sorts by ordering an assortment of both their raw and cooked foods.

I think their sushi rolls are of some the best in HK at this price. The vinegared rice is actually flavorful by itself, as is the nori. The first time we got the California (standard, right?) and the second time, we got the spicy scallop and fried shrimp salad rolls.

The spicy scallop rolls

P actually considered the spicy scallop rolls his favorite out of all the dishes we ordered. I didn’t notice much “spice” in it, but then again, I’m used to eating four-alarm pho. My favorite parts of the dish, incidentally, were the toasted sesame seeds which added texture and taste.

Fried shrimp salad roll (I couldn't taste much "salad' in here, but oh well)

I really liked these shrimp salad rolls because the breading was awesome! Light and crispy, just perfect.

Then came the edamame, nicely steamed and salted. Afterwards we had the sirloin teppanyaki. Originally we ordered the teppanyaki beef with mushrooms, but it turns out they were out of beef slices. After a lengthy discussion in pidgin English with our waitress, we discovered that the beef with mushrooms actually involved beef slices wrapped around enoki mushrooms, which is why she was confused by our request to get the mushrooms with sirloin steak, as she was envisioning mushrooms sandwiched between diced beef. Once we worked out that we just wanted mushrooms on the side, she was happy to put in the order (again, I must emphasize the functional English at ANA Sushi, but hey – it gets the job done. The waitress was really sweet about it, at least!).

Teppanyaki sirloin with enoki mushrooms

The enoki mushrooms were nice, and while the sirloin was tasty, it was a bit overcooked for my taste. Last time we were here, we ordered the mixed mushroom teppanyaki, which I would definitely recommend. The shiitake mushrooms were especially bursting with umami flavor, and it was great value for money. The other hot dish we ordered the first time was the beef fried rice, which I would also suggest. The rice is plump but a little bit crispy, which was delicious. I’d get that again.

The other two dishes we ordered the second time we visited were the handmade udon noodles with pork and the grilled chicken with miso paste. They were both all right, though nothing to write home about, IMHO. The noodles were interesting, a bit thinner than I normally see them, but the broth was yummy. Every now and then little bits of green onions would float onto my spoon and the crunch was fresh and exquisite.

The grilled chicken was a bit greasy for my taste, but the miso-paste added a sweet/savory flavor that P loved. He picked those bones like a hound dog beggin’ for scraps under the table (I hope he doesn’t read this).

Handmade udon noodles with pork

Grilled chicken with miso paste

So in conclusion, while there were some dishes the second time that I wouldn’t order again, I wouldn’t classify anything as an actual “miss.” I do believe ANA Sushi is a great place for sushi and sashimi, as well as fried rice and teppanyaki dishes (next time I hope to try the beef with mushrooms dish the way it’s meant to be made!). I’ll definitely be coming back, hopefully with enough friends in tow (and enough advance notice) to get that cool tatami room.

ANA Sushi
5/F, Kyoto Plaza, 491-499 Lockhart Road
2511 1110
Cost: ~$200+/person

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P and I recently booked a trip to Japan for National Day (yeah!). It’ll be my first time there and after doing tons of research on Tokyo and hearing everyone describe the amazing food culture, I’ve totally been on a sushi kick. My cravings were compounded when P and I watched a dubbed Iron Chef Japan episode where an Edo-mae sushi master took on Morimoto. In the morning we woke up jonesin’ for Japanese, so we headed to Mi-Ne Sushi in Causeway Bay.

The place is located just off Lee Garden Road; it’s a side street that I actually never wandered down before. We arrived right at 11:30 when they opened. You can sit at the sushi bar or at tables. Both options allow you to directly order sushi, sashimi, etc. We opted for the bar and trained our eyes on the colorful plates circling in front of us. My favorites of the day were the tomago sushi and the shrimp tempura roll. I loved how the tomago was a little bit sweet as usual, but more savory than others I’ve tried (kind of the way I’d expect an omelette to be). The shrimp tempura roll was substantial; when you bit into the tempura, the flavors of fried goodness and toasted sesame seeds filled your mouth. Yum.

Shrimp tempura rolls

I also enjoyed the salmon rolls we ordered. Ironically, though, I was most impressed by the nori and not the salmon. The nori was still a little bit crispy with a nice pull to it; there was none of the limp, slightly soaked textures I’ve experienced before. A definite winner in my book.

Salmon rolls

I liked Mi-Ne for the items I listed above, but IMHO, I think Genki actually has a better selection of sushi on the conveyor belts. I also wished Mi-Ne had more side dishes, like edamame and soba (P razzed me all day for finding the only sushi restaurant in HK that doesn’t have soba…apparently he was craving it). Perhaps the one in Mongkok has these things? I haven’t investigated. But, I’d definitely go back to Mi-Ne someday for more sushi. There can never be too much sushi in your life, right?

Mi-Ne Sushi
G/F, 12 Pak Sha Road
3188 2440
Cost: ~ $80/person

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After getting fro yo at Yo Go, G, W, and I stumbled across a humble-looking storefront with empty counters on the left and a frying station to the right. A middle-aged man and woman were working hard to dunk every kind of battered meat thinkable into vats of hot oil. There was a modest line of hungry Hong Kongers outside, so we made like lemmings and joined the queue.

Not what you imagined when you saw "Danish Bakery"? Us either.

We ordered a fried pork chop sandwich, though selections ranged from chicken to other parts of pork, etc. The signplate is all in Chinese so W had to translate for us, but if something getting dunked into the vat looks like your cup of fried meat, just point to it – that ought to do as well.

The ordering scheme is simple, but efficient. Tell the woman to the left what you want, pay her, and she gives you a slip. Give the slip to the fry woman on the right who’s toasting the buns. She tells the fry man. And voila, within 5 minutes, your very own, just-fried sandwich appears in a brown paper bag.

You so fry

We bit into it eagerly. The meat was great – crispy and juicy, but not overly greasy. The thing that really stood out to me was the bun – it was like a soft, buttery bakery bun.

Pork Chop Sandwiches! (Did anyone else think of the GI Joe spoof?)

Perhaps the bun was made in the Danish Bakery itself? I can only conjecture that every morning, the bakery has goods for sale on the empty left side of the store, and I think the sandwich buns are among those. In any case, wherever it came from, the sandwich was delish. If you’re in the area, get in line – as G said, “You can’t really go wrong with fried meat on a bun”. So wise.

The Danish Bakery
106 Leighton Road
Cost: $7-11 HKD/sandwich

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Does everyone already know about Yo Go in Causeway Bay? Very well, then, perhaps they do. But for what it’s worth, I also wanted to rave about this new, exceptionally-wallet-friendly fro yo newbie. The quick-and-dirty verdict? It’s great.

W, G, and I visited on a weekend afternoon. The place was decently crowded, and one of the (few) drawbacks was apparent: lack of seating. Anyways, once we arrived, the friendly sales clerk gave us the lowdown: First, pick a frozen yogurt (or mix and match). Yo Go seems to have at least three or four permanent flavors, including original and strawberry, and one featured flavor on rotation. That weekend, the special was lychee.

Toppings galore at Yo Go

The second part is the most fun: toppings. The store is dominated by a long counter with scores of tempting toppings, from assorted fruits (like kiwi and pineapple) to sweets (chocolate chips, oreos, etc). Since everything is charged by the gram, you don’t have to restrict yourself to one or two toppings. It’s your chance to go crazy! I personally got one serving of original and one of lychee yogurt, along with mango and white chocolate chips on top. The yogurt here was awesome – at least as tasty as Berrygood’s. In fact, I’d venture to say Yo Go is better, because there are more options to choose from on a daily basis. The original is a nice balance of sweet and tart, and it’s not too watery, the main sin of some other places I’ve tried. I think what really makes Yo Go a winner for me, though, are the toppings. The option to have unlimited toppings is a dream come true for indecisive types. And the best part is, since you’re charged by weight (have I mentioned this before?), it’s definitely the best value-for-money in town.

Now if only they could squeeze in a few more chairs…

Yo Go
106-126 Leighton Road
2895 1116
Cost: $15 HKD/100 grams

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In Hong Kong, coffee chains like Starbucks and Pacific Coffee are an espresso a dozen. So when P and I were thinking of a local cafe to visit last weekend, we were kind of stuck. That is, until I remembered that one of my friends used to work at a delightful place called Cafe Zambra, located in Wan Chai. I read on openrice that their baristas made some of the best latte art in town, so after a short consult with P, we were on our way.

You're the cutest harbinger of death I've ever seen!

Zambra is in (what I consider) the tucked-away part of Wan Chai. That is, it’s not crammed between two girlie bars selling more than just beer; it’s not particularly close to the Star Ferry Pier, and it’s not close to Southorn Playground and the Tai Yuen street market. It’s on Jaffe, in between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, and walking there you pass several quiet(er) streets until you happen upon the two-storied glass building that houses Zambra. Immediately, the open space put me at ease; there’s something about light and room to breathe that always makes me feel good. The interior is larger than it seems, as a small staircase towards the back leads to an upstairs seating area. And of course, like any good coffee shop, they’ve got free wi-fi.

The coffee itself is quite good (they’re known for their specialty beans, collected from all over the world), and it’s even better decked out with latte art. When the waitress brought our drinks up, P had an awesome skull design that defied our previous understandings of latte foam. Zambra also has a tempting selection of light snacks (sandwiches, salads, and couscous!) and desserts. The standout is the banofee pie, which I did not have on this visit, but on a previous occasion. The sticky, sweet, crunchy, gooey pie is truly addictive. Hurry to this gem-of-a-cafe next time you feel an indie (and I-wanna-pig-out-on-pie) vibe coming on.

Cafe Zambra
239 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai
2598 1322
Cost: ~ $30-40HKD per coffee drink

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