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Archive for the ‘Michelin-starred’ Category

Well, Mr. Robuchon, you’re a genius.

P and I came to this conclusion last Tuesday. In honor of P’s birthday, we booked a table for lunch at Robuchon a Galera in the Hotel Lisboa of Macau. With its three Michelin stars and sterling reputation, it definitely seemed splurge-worthy. I downloaded the set lunch menu in advance, studied it well, and prepared to be dazzled.

Once P and I stepped into the restaurant, the decor transported us to a posh old-school French dining room. Navy and gold were the predominant colors, and everything was tastefully upholstered, draped, or covered in rich fabrics. After looking at the menu, P ordered a six-course lunch for $638 MOP with two glasses of wine for $220 MOP. I opted for a five-course lunch, which came to $498 MOP.

Our first “course” was not actually listed on the menu – it was the bread basket. These were gourmet breads; one of mine had cheese baked in (gruyere?), another had what seemed like prosciutto, and one was slightly sweet, with a peach jam inside. They came to our table hot, perfect for soaking up our hand-carved butter.

Our basket flow-eth over

My first course was fresh crabmeat on spiced avocado with pomelo jelly and green apples. The crab was almost souffle-like it was so tender, and the avocado was just a bit chunky, the perfect texture to pair. The tiny bits of diced green apples also added a nice crunch. P had the smoke foie gras on top of marinated mushrooms. It was the smoothest foie gras I’ve ever had.

The foie gras

The crabmeat with spiced avocado and pomelo

Our second course was soup, with P getting the sorrel bouillon under a sea-scented froth, topped with caviar. I ordered a shiitake mushroom broth with herbs and foie gras royale. For me the broth stole the show; I couldn’t believe such a small amount had so much mushroom-y taste, and when mixed with the herbs – shredded bits of basil, mint, and sage – it exploded with flavor.

Shiitake broth with herbs and foie gras royale

P’s fish course came next, a back of sea bass with crispy potato chips on top. The contrast between the soft fish and the crunchy potatoes was a clever touch.

I guess you could call them potato "scales"

For our meat course, P and I both chose the hanger steak, and what a great choice that was! It came out the perfect medium-rare, with a pink juicy center. The fried onion slice on the side was a fun garnish, but honestly, the meat was king. It was juicy, chewy yet manageable – just fantastic. It was served with a side of new potatoes covered in a sage butter sauce. As I told P, “Just give me a pot of these and I’ll be happy for life.”

Hanger steak with sauteed shallots

I've never met a potato I didn't like, and these were no exception

Dessert came by on a trolley with nine or ten choices. From assorted tarts to Napoleons to a floating island covered in a sugar-spun dome, everything was tantalizing. We got to pick three, so my choices were a mascarpone cream cheesecake, a slice of the rum baba, and the mille-feuille. Out of the three, the cheesecake was my favorite because it was smooth and creamy-beyond-creamy. The rum baba was a little too soaked in rum for my taste, but the raspberries that came with it were divine. And hey, if you can get drunk off dessert, that’s a pretty nice deal, right? The mille-feuille was flaky and the custard had true vanilla flavor with bits of crushed vanilla bean mixed in. P especially loved his lemon tart with cookie crust.

At this point we were stuffed, but who can turn down dessert?

At the end, when we were too full to think, we were served coffee and tea with candies. The latter was again offered on a beautiful trolley that looked like a cross section of Willie Wonka’s factory with chocolate sticks, lollipops, four kinds of chocolates, caramels… Suffice it to say, P and I just took a few, with the lemon macaroon being our favorite hands-down.

Combined with the excellent service (not to mention P’s great wine pairings),  it was a meal I won’t forget anytime soon.

Robuchon a Galera
3/F, Hotel Lisboa
Macau
(853) 8803 7878
Cost: Set lunches from $398 MOP to $638 MOP

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The greatest aspect of having a visitor is the excuse it gives you to play in your own city. I had that opportunity this past week: Mr. B, father of one of my high school classmates, came to HK for business. He wanted to tour the city and sample local food as well, so I’d decided a little yam cha was in order.

TIM HO WUN

Our first stop was celebrated dim sum restaurant Tim Ho Wun (thanks to C/G for the pronunciation!) in Mongkok, opened by the dim sum chef from the Four Seasons. Finding the place may seem a little tricky, since the storefront is only in Chinese (添好運點心專門店). Just look for the white sign with green characters (or, the window with all the newspaper and magazine clippings).

Fried cha siu bao = The meaning of life

Fried cha siu bao = The meaning of life

Last time I was here, the restaurant just opened and endless fans queued for hours (literally), even in the middle of the afternoon. This time, Mr. B and I arrived around 11:30; we must have been lucky because we were seated right away in an otherwise full dining room. I must confess I’m not a huge fan of dim sum, but I will heartily chow down at this place. The cha siu cheung fan is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, and the ha gao are nice and plump. And here’s a dim sum pop quiz for you: What’s better than cha siu bao? That’s right – FRIED cha siu bao. If you’re here, you’ve gotta order these. I would travel from HK island on a weekly basis to get these for takeaway if I wasn’t afraid of turning into a little bao myself.

I’d recommend coming here earlier in the day to avoid a long wait. Also, while there is now an English menu, sometimes the dishes get “lost in translation”. Therefore, I think it helps to have a Chinese speaker, or at least someone who knows what to order for dim sum (and how to communicate it to the waitstaff). Although, I’m pretty sure everything is good, and for the quality of food, this place is a steal!

LITTLE SHEEP

Another recession-friendly dim sum establishment is Little Sheep, a chain originally from Mainland China, known for its hotpot. However, on weekends from 2-4pm, there’s an all-you-can-eat dim sum special for $45 a person! Judging from the packed dining rooms, word is definitely out among the locals.

"A rose by any other name...": Chicken feet are called "phoenix claws" on most dim sum menus

"A rose by any other name...": Chicken feet are called "phoenix claws" on most dim sum menus

Upon being seated, you get an order slip where you can tick off as many dishes as you like. Mr. B and I came to this place with C/G, and he selected all the classics – cha siu bao, siu mai, ha gao, cheung fan, and chicken feet. In addition to the order sheet, there’s also a buffet table with more northern-style dim sum choices, which pleased my palate. I raided the spread at the first opportunity and came back with some Shanghai-style fried ricecakes, fried tofu cubes, and sesame balls filled with green bean paste.

A handful of bamboo steamers, soy-sauce-drenched plates, and teapots later, we were all in a major food coma. It’s worth mentioning that when the fluffy, steamed cha siu bao appeared, my salivatory glands automatically kicked into overdrive. And I know I deemed fried cha siu baos the best.thing.EVER., but the original version at Little Sheep reminded me there’s definitely space in the dim sum world for both.

Am I a total cheeseball if this made my day?

Am I a total cheeseball if this made my day?

PS: Little Sheep seems to only have a Chinese menu, so brush up on your food characters!

PPS: This restaurants gets major points for having little male and female sheep in Mongolian-wear on their bathroom signs.

Tim Ho Wun Dim Sum Juen Moon Dim (添好運點心專門店)
G/F, 2-20 Kwong Wah Street, Mongkok
2332 2896
Cost: ~ $70 HKD/person

Little Sheep
G/F, 1/F-4/F, Mongkok Commercial Centre, 16, 16A, and 16B Argyle Street, Mongkok
2396 8816
Cost: ~ $45 HKD/person


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