Articles on this Page
- 08/29/13--08:45: _My 3,000-calorie di...
- 08/30/13--08:51: _Starry, starry night
- 09/01/13--01:00: _A Mexican Feeding
- 09/02/13--20:55: _Shrinking Boy, afte...
- 09/06/13--07:58: _Lobster heaven
- 09/09/13--07:41: _Wanted: toilet trai...
- 09/14/13--08:16: _The chef who smiles...
- 09/16/13--08:04: _All's well that end...
- 09/18/13--00:52: _No photo no service...
- 09/23/13--08:29: _Lobster with Bird
- 09/26/13--08:56: _Dinner with prince ...
- 09/28/13--01:54: _Watchmaking for idiots
- 09/28/13--08:19: _Private dining, almost
- 10/01/13--06:14: _Party with blackfoot
- 10/03/13--08:42: _Seventh on Sixth
- 10/03/13--08:58: _Shrinking Boy, two ...
- 10/07/13--08:02: _Back to the usual
- 10/09/13--08:46: _The first of autumn
- 10/12/13--06:32: _Tim ho haam
- 10/13/13--08:45: _A taste of national...
- 08/29/13--08:45: My 3,000-calorie dinner
- 08/30/13--08:51: Starry, starry night
- 09/01/13--01:00: A Mexican Feeding
- 09/02/13--20:55: Shrinking Boy, after 30 days
- 09/06/13--07:58: Lobster heaven
- 09/09/13--07:41: Wanted: toilet trainers in Hong Kong
- 09/14/13--08:16: The chef who smiles not
- 09/16/13--08:04: All's well that ends well
- 09/18/13--00:52: No photo no service, no go
- 09/23/13--08:29: Lobster with Bird
- 09/26/13--08:56: Dinner with prince charming
- 09/28/13--01:54: Watchmaking for idiots
- slide the balance wheel underneath the center wheel (and the third wheel?)
- one end of the assembly has to line up with the jewel at one end of the pallet bridge
- the other end of the assembly has to fit between the two prongs of the fork at one end of the pallet
- the hole in the balance bridge must line up with the hole in the pallet bridge
- 09/28/13--08:19: Private dining, almost
- 10/01/13--06:14: Party with blackfoot
- 10/03/13--08:42: Seventh on Sixth
- 10/03/13--08:58: Shrinking Boy, two months later
- Cholesterol - my last blood test was more than 3 years ago, and at the time I wasn't at all surprised that my cholesterol level was over the line, by about 20%. This time my total cholesterol was about 10% below the threshold of 200 mg/dL, so clearly this diet has done wonders just after a month.
- Triglycerides - I don't remember this coming up in my last blood test, but here I'm also pleasantly surprised. My measurement of 85 mg/dL is pretty far from the 150 mg/dL threshold, so I'm pretty happy about that.
- Glucose - the first unpleasant surprise here. I'm just over the line here, and I've never had any issue with this. I'm wondering if it has something to do with the fact that I drew blood in the morning after two consecutive nights of having rich food and plenty of wine.
- Uric Acid - another unpleasant surprise where I never expected trouble, and I'm also a little bit over the line here. After a few seconds, though, a little light bulb went on inside my head. Since starting this program, I'd been drinking a big glass of unsweetened soy bean milk everyday for breakfast, as my 1 portion of protein. That would certainly push up my uric acid level. My new fondness of having wholemeal bread apparently is also bad for my uric acid level. So I decided to cut them out of my diet.
- 10/07/13--08:02: Back to the usual
- 10/09/13--08:46: The first of autumn
- 10/12/13--06:32: Tim ho haam
- 10/13/13--08:45: A taste of national fortune
Less than a week after my last dinner here, I'm back at Tenku RyuGin (天空龍吟) for another 10 courses. A friend is in town from Taipei and our host insisted on coming back for this dinner. Not wanting to have the same dishes twice in less than a week, I pleaded with Takano-san - the restaurant's assistant manager - to have the chef arrange a different menu for us. Fortunately the chef was agreeable, and only 4 out of the 10 courses tonight were identical to what I had last time.
Assortment of sashimi (本日のお造り盛合せ) - there were 3 types tonight but I gave up my fatty tuna (中トロ) to the boys.
Finally, a cup of matcha (抹茶) to send us on our way.
As our host insisted on treating us for dinner, I naturally volunteered to bring the alcohol. I had actually brought 3 bottles but, upon learning anything that is not red wine or white wine would be charged HKD 1,000 for corkage, decided not to open my lowly bottle of Egly-Ouriet Champagne...
1990 Nicolas Potel Meursault 1er Cru Perrières - initially too cold so the nose was somewhat muted. Some toast and good, round fruit in the nose. Medium acidity but the finish was rather short and disappointing... other than the obvious alcohol. Later on as the wine opened up the sweetness became more apparent in the nose. I had slightly higher expectations but this was a more elegant expression.
1997 Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Catherine - sweet, a little sharp alcohol, black cherries in the nose. After 17 years this has finally softened somewhat, and has become drinkable, but you can still feel the tannins there. After a while there was a little bit of forest and sous bois. An enjoyable wine, but like the Potel I had expected slightly more.
OK, so we were sitting indoors on a cloudy night in Hong Kong, and Don McLean was nowhere in sight… but the evening was nevertheless filled with "stars". On this night, a small group of us gathered in one corner of the crystal chandelier-filled dining room of Caprice, our beloved Michelin 3-star restaurant, to celebrate one of the stars of the Hong Kong dining scene - Chef Vincent Thierry.
After 8 years in Hong Kong - and having helped set up Caprice from scratch and elevating it to 3-star status after Michelin's arrival in Hong Kong - Vincent has decided to move on to newer challenges. A few of us came to the restaurant last month but failed to catch him, so we were very happy to be here tonight as tomorrow would be his last day here.
I arrived to find our menu for the evening on the table. I had sent a message to the chef asking him to put together something special to remember him by, and was curious to see which dishes would be chosen to represent "classic Caprice"…
For the first time ever, I took my bread at Caprice without my beloved Bordier butter. Everyone was shocked, but I am on a nutritional dietary program after all! Bordier will still be there in a few months' time…
her cookbook A Celebration of Food, to which Vincent contributed the recipe for this dish. We were only too happy to taste a dish that Vincent must have felt could speak for him. The savory crab meat worked well with the blend of mango, papaya and piquillo peppers, as well as the layer of marscapone on top.
Vee and I both brought wines for dinner, and I was ever so grateful that he decided to bring a backup bottle as we needed it tonight...
This was a near-perfect evening… Timothy had taken very good of us in Jeremy's absence. While I often enjoy the more modern and creative side of cuisine, I would happily return time and again to Caprice for Vincent's updated classics. There have been many cherished memories here, and time and again Vincent, Jeremy, Sebastien and team have brought smiles to our faces and joy to our lives. Caprice without its founding chef de cuisine would surely be losing a part of its soul, its DNA. We were all sad to have Vincent leave us, but happy for him to embark on a new adventure.
I'm not in the habit of collecting chefs' autographs, but tonight was truly special and the end of an era for us. Definitely something to remember…
P.S. I have refused to step foot in Thailand ever since news broke about the government's treatment of the Rohingya refugees a few years ago. At this point, the only thing that would get me to break my boycott just might be the thought of visiting one of Vincent's new ventures...
Even though I've already had my two cheat meals this week - and they were big meals, too - I left home today for a third, semi-cheat meal. I'm pretty determined to keep to my program, and the only reason for me to stray and take on more calories than I wanted was for a good cause. Feeding Hong Kong was holding their first Secret Supper Club event, and it was held at Brickhouse. The proceeds go to Feeding Hong Kong, and there would be a raffle drawing so that they could raise a little more money for the charity.
I would have supported Feeding Hong Kong no matter where they were doing this venue, but the fact they were doing it at a place I hadn't been to was certainly a plus. So I reserved two seats, called up my Favorite Birdbrain Cousin and told her she was coming with me, and that was that.
The restaurant is hidden in the same alley way through which one accesses Fa Zu Jie, and I had a little trouble finding it at first. Thankfully I ran into Mrs. Tigger who pointed me to the alley. Within moments we found our seats and settled in.
Being a Secret Supper Club event meant that one does not find out about the menu until arrival, and it certainly looked like a lot of food to me…
Scallop tostada: roasted corn salsa, chimichurri, pikcled onion - also pretty good.
Finally, we were told that each of us could choose 3 tacos, even though I was reasonably full. So Birdbrain and I shared 3 of them between us.
There was free-flowing alcohol, and Birdbrain was ordering one margarita after another. Me? I drank tap water the whole time… The things you do when you're on a diet…
Mrs. Tigger was joking that having Bear do the drawing was the fairest arrangement of all, because he simply couldn't read the number printed on the ticket stubs… Of course, he had no idea what happened when he ended up drawing a winning ticket for himself…
This was a pretty fun time… it gave me a chance to celebrate all the good work at Feeding Hong Kong had been doing over the last couple of years, and also gave me a taste of the Mexican fare at Brickhouse. I'm really looking forward to attending more of these supper club events!
So it's been 30 days since I went on my nutritional diet / weight-loss program, and I thought I'd do an update with my experiences and thoughts. Let's start with the headline number...
Weight lost to date: 2.3kg.
Actually my lowest weight during the 30 days was a week ago, when I was down 3.1kg from my starting weight. Unfortunately my 2½ cheat meals since then - including that 3,000-calorie dinner - have pushed me back up.
Some people have been surprised at how little weight I had lost, as there are plenty of other "diets" around where one loses a lot more weight very quickly. My thoughts on this is that I prefer to do things gradually, without putting my body through shocks, and this would enable me to sustain and continue to trend. This isn't just a short-term thing to drop my weight down quickly - it's more of a lifestyle change. The key is to be able to maintain it and keep the weight off.
You don't have to starve to lose weight
The question most often asked is "Do you feel hungry?" The answer is NO. Believe it or not, I'm eating A LOT of food. It's just that the food has very little fat. My 5 portions of grain for lunch amounts to 3 large slices of toast, 1 2/3 bowls of rice, 5 short cobs of corn or 2½ large cans of corn. Add a little protein and the vegetables that I would normally eat - and keeping in mind that you're asked to drink 8 glasses of water a day - and you can see how there is very little time during the day when I actually feel the hunger pangs.
I started with just regular wheat toast and soon switched to wholemeal bread, which has a lot more dietary fiber. The fiber keeps me full, especially when it soaks up the water, but gets passed through the system without being absorbed.
Cutting intake is the key
With one exception, my weight went up every time after a cheat meal. My weight went up even after I went out for a 45-minute jog, because the calorie intake of one of my outings is just staggering. While I have no way of accurately measuring the exact calories, and not every meal is going to be the same, it's not inconceivable that I'd be taking in 2-3,000 calories for these dinners once wine is included. Given that I would have already consumed a total of around 1,000 calories for breakfast and lunch - and that's by following my current program and not dining out at regular restaurants - my total intake for the day could be 3-4,000 calories. That's 1-2,000 calories more than what I am probably burning on an average day.
To be able to burn off the extra calories from a single meal like this, I would need to jog at a slow pace for 1½ to 3 hours. Just to get back even. If I wanna lose weight and actually burn off the fat that's already in my body, I would have to exercise even more. How many of us have 2-3 hours a day to spend on exercise? Better off to have fewer of these big dinners...
When I lost 5kg in the space of 7 months after moving back to Taipei, it wasn't because I exercised more. In fact I exercised less because I gave up my gym membership. The simple reason is that I stopped eating out so much - I had very few big meals out with friends, and for the first 5 months I mostly ate mom's cooking at home. I was taking in a lot fewer calories, and certainly a lot less fat.
Exercise is still important
Having said all that, I realized that I'm not going to be able to get my weight down without upping my exercise schedule. My weekly session with the personal trainer wasn't having a visible impact, although I'm sure it helps over the long run by firming up my muscles. I've now started to jog twice a week for 45 minutes at a time. That may not be enough to burn off my excess fat stored in my body, so I may need to work out even more. Time will tell how much I really need to do.
So what exactly have I been eating?
Canned tuna - on many days this has been my source of protein. It's not exactly delicious, but it doesn't need any preparation.
Lots of vegetables - typically I take in half a pack or about 150g of fresh veggies per meal, and just steam or blanch them with no seasoning. The natural sweetness of kailan (芥藍) or choy sum (菜心), for example, is good enough for me.
Fruit - I have a daily fruit ration, so I'm eating fruit everyday - and most of it has been an apple a day.
No fat / low fat dairy products - no fat yogurt and low fat processed cheese… not quite the same.
Almonds - I need to take some fat with each meal, and 6 almonds provides me with 1 portion of fat.
Other than my cheat meals, I've really not eaten out very much, since it can be a real pain trying to figure out how to stay within the boundaries at restaurants. There's simply too much salt and oil when dining out, and tough to order dishes while keeping the ratio of different food groups in check.
Something I've managed to figure out is that doing the set lunch at Linguini Fini works well, particularly on days when I'm cheating at dinner. I start with a simple green salad with no dressing, and then get the pomodori pasta. The pasta is made in-house, cooked al dente, and served with a delicious tomato and basil sauce. I'm sure there's a good amount of olive oil in there somewhere, but I don't mind going over the limit a little with this. I hit my grain, vegetable and fat quotas with this, and leave the protein count at zero. As my cheat meals will surely have a lot of protein, I simply reallocate my quota from lunch to dinner.
Well, I've got 2 more months to go in my weight-loss phase, so I'll do another update in another month or so.
The Twisted Sisters are in town from Shanghai, and it's been over a year since I last saw either of them, and even longer since I saw the two of them together. I got the call last week about their visit, and was asked to pick a place for our get together. Since the preferred cuisine was "Western", I didn't even hesitate before picking up to phone to book a table at On Lot 10.
This would be my lone cheat meal this week, as I really needed to get back on track after last week. After checking with my visitors and asking them to choose the one dish they would want to pre-order, I sent the request over to David. I also reminded him that, as I'm still on my diet program and I was only coming with two visitors who couldn't pack leftovers home, that we would likely not need too much food.
We became a party of four earlier today, and I was thinking that we could take on a liiiiittle more food but still didn't wanna go crazy. After picking a couple of starters, I was informed that there would be a couple of other things that David had arranged, so we already had enough food…
On Lot 10 paella - I asked David to prepare this for us, not knowing exactly what kind of seafood would be in the pan when it showed up. The last time I had it there were two big flower crabs along with sea urchin, and I've seen other friends get crabs on top of theirs recently.
David gave us a chance to compare the two lobsters side by side, and asked me to think about which one I liked better. Well… there was never gonna be any doubt which one I'd prefer… It has nothing to do with the fact that homard bleu comes at a higher price, and I believe the gap has recently widened thanks to a big increase in catch numbers for Maine lobsters. Homard bleu simply delivers flavors that are much more intense, and while the Maine lobster is meaty and delicious in its own right, it just pales in comparison. There were also nice chunks of lobster tomalley, which I happily gobbled up.
We were of course unable to finish the darned thing, so the leftovers were packed up and given to the Sister's friend living in Hong Kong.
We were a bunch of lightweights tonight, and only managed to finish 1 bottle of bubbly. I guess that helps me keep the calorie count down…
Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru - savory minerals, a little like hard cheese, with caramelized and cane sugar.
What a treat! I dunno when I'll get a chance to get soft-shell lobsters again like I did tonight. If only it had been an ordinary night without my diet program… Slurp...
For years now people in Hong Kong have complained about the sanitary habits of their northern brethren. Starting from the first wave of Mainland tourists who arrived in tour buses heading straight for Disneyland, there were numerous photos and reports about how they used drinking fountains to wash their feet, how the parents just pulled down the pants of their kids in public whenever nature called…etc.
Things seemed to have gotten worse as time went on, with kids peeing (or worse) in the middle of restaurants, on the subway (I sat next to a mother who whipped out a plastic bag and let her son pee into the bag, within arm's reach of me), and doing a lot worse. Incensed Hongkies have taken to posting pictures on the internet to name and shame the uncouth and uneducated masses from up north.
Bashing the Big Sixers or Strong Countrymen for their "disgusting behavior" is an activity that some Hongkies do gleefully. However, are the sanitary standards of locals really that much better and beyond reproach?
I THINK NOT.
I'm a finance geek, and have spent the better part of the last two decades working in Central and Admiralty - the traditional financial heart of Hong Kong. Most of my time here have been spent in Grade A offices that command some of the highest rents in the city. Having worked almost exclusively for foreign investment banks, commercial banks and private banks means that most people around me are highly educated, with tertiary and post-graduate degrees from some of the best institutions of higher learning around the world. Investment bankers are criticized as an overpaid bunch. Just about everyone on the floor earns 6 figures and you've got your fair share of people raking in 7 figures. In Dollars. And I'm not talking about Hongkie Dollars, either.
So why do I keep finding myself in some really disgusting toilets?!
I do not think for one minute that there has ever been one single person on any floor that I have ever worked on who was an uncouth farmer. So why do I keep finding toilets which were not flushed properly, with tons of toilet paper still stuck inside, and sometimes with the wet and dirty toilet paper hanging out of toilet bowls?! What kind of a person goes to do their business in the toilet, makes a disgusting mess, and then refuses to clean up after themselves?? Were they not taught by their parents or their teachers?!
Before you go acting judgmental and blame certain segments of the population, I will come out and say that I don't think the problem is necessarily attributable to only Mainland Chinese, or Hong Kong Chinese, or whoever. The floors I work on have traditionally had a hodgepodge of Asians, Europeans, Americans, Latinos… basically from every corner of the world. And I do believe the problem is wide spread. I've had colleagues tell me that they refuse to shake hands with the Caucasian boss because the guy never washes his hands after relieving himself.
For the last few months I've had countless experiences where, upon pushing open the door to a stall, I find myself facing a disgusting situation. I've wanted to scream expletives not just on the spot, but shout it out on Facebook or social media for everyone to hear. I just can't believe that, in the 21st Century, in a Grade A office building at the heart of one of the major financial hubs in the world, with all these supposedly highly-educated people working around you, that people can't even flush the fucking toilet properly!!!
For the people guilty of perpetrating this disgusting behavior, yinz gotta be ashamed of yourselves.
It's been a while since Fergie and I last met up for a meal, and I thought it'd be a good idea to meet up tonight - just hours before he's due to start a diet and exercise program for a second time. The last time he did the program he lost a chunk of weight, so I'm hopeful that he'll be able to do the same this time around. Since he's not planning on cheating like me, I guess it will be at least 3 months till our next meal together…
This being a "last supper" of sorts, I deferred to him to choose the venue. I M Teppanyaki isn't something that would normally pop up on my radar, but I'm more than happy to go along and see what they can do. There were two different set menus, and we decided to pair up so that we can mix and match, trying everything available.
Appetizer (先付) came as a trio:
The food here was well-executed, although it's difficult for teppanyaki to be exciting for me. The last time I had an enlightening experience was years ago in Tokyo. Service was OK, and while the restaurant now has a liquor license, they very kindly decided not to charge us corkage because our reservation was made before their license came through.
Earlier today I was watching a TV program when I caught a glimpse of Rafa, the proprietor behind Rafa's in Roses, Spain. When I went to Rafa's for lunch all those years ago after dinner at elBulli, my friends and I noticed that he didn't smile the whole time we were there… He was focused on cooking the fresh seafood a la plancha, and didn't interact with any of us or showed any emotion. On this particular program, he had pretty much the same expression while cooking…
Tonight's experience was more or less the same. It's interesting to see that the front of the menu devoted some space to highlight the chef's philosophy, stating that "I also deeply treasure my interactions with diners…" Say what?! Like Rafa, I didn't see a smile on Chef Mok's face the whole time I was there, and there was certainly no interaction with us. Maybe he was just too busy, continuously cooking for the 14 covers seated around his station. Maybe he thought we were loud and annoying and hoped that we would just behave like the old fogeys at the other end. Maybe "circumcision" wasn't exactly a kosher topic for dinner. In any case, smiles were off the menu tonight.
As I look back on this evening, I realized that I couldn't have hoped for a better ending. Some things just aren't meant to be, and life sometimes just has a way of working itself out. OK, I should stop babbling…
I was meant to check out Chachawan with Mo' Unni. The place had created a certain amount of buzz over the last few months, although I paid it little attention. I don't go out of my way to try out new places, but I figured I'd go along when Mo' Unni brought it up. By last night, though, I was having some reservations about this place.
First of all, they serve Issan cuisine from northeastern Thailand, which is meant to be more spicy than the "regular" Thai cuisine that the average farang is familiar with. I can handle some heat, but have serious doubts that I would enjoy dishes so hot that they warrant the placement of warning highlighted in all caps on the menu. Another issue came about after reading a couple of people's reviews online, I realized that the best dish on the menu might be their salt baked sea bass. My dining companion is also known as No Fish, so what exactly would be order?
All that became academic when, upon arrival at the unmarked 206 Hollywood Road, I found the gates pulled shut. Upon inquiry with staff at neighboring 208 Duocento Otto, I was informed that Chachawan doesn't open on Mondays. Since the place doesn't take reservations, neither of us have bothered to do much research on it… Oops…
Stranded without a backup plan, I suggested we check out Café Malacca. This is one of my cheat nights, and I wanted to make sure the extra calories I took in were worthwhile. While I'd never been to Café Malacca, my Malaysian and Singaporean friends universally recommended this place. I figured the risk of disappointment would be low.
The place is casual, and the menu compact, but all the essential favorites are there. We had no trouble picking out what we were both hungry for.
I washed down the dishes with a glass of calamansi drink. I could have been just as happy with some barley drink or chin chow, but it's pretty difficult to find a nice glass of calamansi in town… and this certainly did not disappoint!
Mo' Unni and I were pretty happy campers at the end of the evening. No, she didn't get her Thai food fix, but we had a relaxing dinner over some pretty yummy food. Absolutely nothing to complain about here… and now I know where I can go for some comfort food!
I'm back in Taipei to spend time with family during Mid-Autumn Festival, and decided to take the opportunity to catch up with old friends. I missed the opportunity to catch up with Big Mac on his last trip to Hong Kong, so I figured I should deliver some moon cakes to them during the festive season. Lunch reservation was made at Shoraku (匠楽), and I was kinda looking forward to checking the place out, having heard a few friends sing their praises.
I had requested for a Japanese venue because I wanted the ability to order sushi à la carte, and I figured Big Mac would also appreciate the ability to do portion control… given that he's recently lost a ton of weight and is on track to slim down further. Unfortunately I was told that we'd have to follow the lunch set… which inevitably leads to too much food…
I really don't get restaurants that forbid customers from taking pictures. Are they that insecure about their dishes? I understand why it is generally frowned upon in Japan, but I just don't get it elsewhere. The last place that didn't let me take pictures in Taipei just had mediocre food and was vastly over-rated. You won't find me going back there since there are too many better alternatives in Taipei.
So I was a little annoyed that the menu here states that photography is forbidden. I was even more annoyed when I was reminded by the staff multiple times about this as I handled my iPhone while taking notes and what not. As I'm taking pictures of every single meal (even snacks) during my 3-month diet program, this means I had to leave this meal blank. That's just annoying. So I decided to post a black background in place of what should have been a nice picture of their food.
Anyway… lemme save half the rant for later and talk about what we had…
The amuse bouche was block of sesame tofu (胡麻豆腐) topped with some sea urchin (雲丹), and paired with chayote shoots (龍鬚菜) and some shrooms.
Slices of olive flower (平目) from Rishiri Island (利尻島) came with some spicy grated radish (おろし) and ponzu (ポン酢).
A trio of seafood came on a platter, consisting of:
White whelk (白海螺貝) from Yamaguchi Prefecture (山口県)
Hokkaido horsehair crab (毛蟹) with vinegar jelly and perilla flowers - a nice balance between the sweet, tender crab meet and the acidity of the jelly.
Raw prawn (車海老) from the Pescatores (澎湖) served with tofu skin (湯葉).
Sashimi platter came next with quite a few selections, although I gave away both pieces of fatty tuna (トロ) as I don't eat bluefin tuna. The remaining pieces were all excellent, including striped beakfish (石鯛), torched red sea bream (真鯛炙り), greater amberjack (間八), squid (烏賊), sweet shrimp (甘エビ), ark shell (赤貝).
The simmered bowl (煮物) came next, with half an Ezo abalone (蝦夷鮑), a slice of fish cake with bits of octopus encased inside, julienned matsutake mushroom (松茸), a deep-fried taro ball, some salmon roe (いくら) and a piece of sansho leaf (木の芽) on top.
The grilled fish was rosy sea bass (赤鯥) from Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県), topped with some mentaiko (明太子) sauce. The fish was very juicy while the texture was a little chewy and springy. Very nice.
Then came 4 pieces of nigiri sushi (握り寿司):
Crimson seabream (小鯛)
Rosy seabass (赤鯥) - torched to melt the fat.
Chicken grunt (伊佐木)
Golden alfonsino (金目鯛) from Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島) - torched and tasty.
There was also a tiny bowl of rice, with some minced fatty tuna and spring onions (ネギトロ) that I gave away, sea urchin and salmon roe.
I normally don't touch the miso soup (味噌汁) because of the salt content, but today there was an oyster in the bowl so I took that in.
For fruit we had a slice of very ripe melon (マスクメロン), a half slice of pear, and a little cherry tomato.
Finally there was a soy milk pudding (豆乳プリン) topped with some green tea jelly (抹茶ゼリー), azuki bean jelly (小豆ゼリー), green tea sauce and a sprinkle of brown rice crispies (玄米). Not bad.
Well, the food itself was pretty good. High quality ingredients, pretty good execution. Unfortunately, I won't be returning to this place because they just piss me off. The no photo policy already put me in a bad mood before the meal even started. Then we got shoddy service. No, they don't know us here, but that doesn't give them the right to ignore us and cater only to other customers they know well. Our server dropped off a particular dish at our table, then proceeded to chat with the regulars at the next table without announcing what he's given us. WTF?!
And it didn't help that there was a group of model/celebrity yummy mummies sitting at the counter, who were clearly the focus of attention for the chefs and staff. The result? I had to ask several times for someone to explain what we were having. Service like that means you don't get repeat business from me, no matter how good the food is.
I wasn't supposed to have another cheat meal so soon, but the little bunny typhoon messed up my dinner plans last night. I was meant to have met up with My Favorite Birdbrain Cousin and her parents, and would have chosen some place Chinese so I could be a good boy and stay within the boundaries of my diet. No such luck.
While I would have preferred Chinese and ordered a big bowl of rice with some blanched veggies, Birdbrain insisted on going to On Lot 10. I was hoping that there wouldn't be a table available, but the girl got lucky and actually got a table for us. That meant I would definitely make this a cheat night, since there's no way I could ever keep to my diet with David's food… Damn!
I let Bird do the ordering, but warned her about having "eyes that are bigger than her stomach" - 眼睛比胃口大. I don't think my warning had any effect… and thankfully I insisted that one main course would be enough for us. I had asked David to decide whether we should have the daily fresh seafood or the paella, and David had chosen to serve us his very special paella… which never ceases to blow me away each time I have it.
I was full and passed on dessert, but Bird being Bird… she couldn't exactly pass up the chocolate and hazelnut cake, could she?!
Unfortunately for us, my wine of choice for the evening failed us miserably...
I'm not a celebrity gawker, nor am I easily impressed by the titles carried by aristocrats and royals, but I was most happy to accept an invitation to dine in the presence of a prince tonight. My gracious hosts were Sotheby's and Domaine Clarence Dillon, and the dinner was meant to be a warm-up in advance of next week's auction featuring a parcel of wines shipped directly from the Domaine. While there were undoubtedly some guests who were most excited about meeting a prince, for me the real stars tonight - with all due respect to Prince Robert of Luxembourg - were the wines.
It was certainly a privilege and honor to be able to taste ex-château stock of Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, especially from some of the best vintages from the last century. I had been looking forward to attending this dinner ever since I found out from the Specialist that an invitation was forthcoming. It would, in fact, be the high point of my social calendar this month.
I had a wonderful time tonight. To be honest, I didn't have much expectations for the food tonight, but could find little fault with the catering from the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The wines, of course, were in perfect condition and simply stunning. I must thank my gracious hosts for the privilege of attending the dinner.
P.S. Although I did not have to opportunity to meet them, it was heartwarming to see two representatives from Médecins Sans Frontières among the guests tonight. Prince Robert has teamed up with Linley of London to design 15 beautifully-crated limited edition cabinets capable of housing 8 bottles of wine along with silverware. These cabinets are being auctioned off over the years to benefit MSF, and the one slated for the upcoming auction will contain the 1935, 1945, 1959, 1961, 1975, 1989, 1990, 2009 vintages of Haut-Brion, and the auction lot will also contain 6 bottles each of 2010 Haut-Brion and 2010 Haut-Brion Blanc. In fact, all of the 8 remaining bottles of 1945 Haut-Brion that have never left the château will be auctioned off as part of these cabinets. That is quite amazing, and I salute Prince Robert for supporting such a worthy charity.
A few days ago I got a call from Tigger telling me to block out my schedule for this morning. Through his connections to Richemont, he had arranged for a group of us to attend a "watchmaking class". Given my interest in watches (well, I was pretty interested until recently…) he very kindly invited me to be part of his group. So it was that I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday morning, dispensed with my planned morning jog and hauled my somewhat-tired behind to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Richemont had taken down an entire floor of the new wing and put on this massive "Watches and Wonders" exhibit, showcasing all of their brands. As part of this big show, there are a couple of these watchmaking classes. Initially I thought this would involved the group of us watching some watchmaker putting a movement together, but I couldn't have been more wrong…
A few rules of thumb:
- pick up the movement by the stem, or maybe by the sides if absolutely necessary
- never touch any moving parts with your fingers. Pick them up with tweezers only
- secure the movement with the clamp while you work
- sit with both arms firmly resting on the table for steady hands
- use the dome or the plastic stick when working with parts that may accidentally fly away
Gianfranco decided to give us a little coffee break so that we could relax a little, and then it was time to move on to the tougher part of the workshop - assembly.
For those with sharp eyes, the fingerprints on the dial ain't mine. They were there before I got here.
We are now left with one more step before assembly is complete - adding back the balance wheel assembly. Given our friend's experience earlier on, we were all very apprehensive about this final step, which actually required making sure the following four things were done correctly:
Sounds like it requires a certain level of dexterity, no? Definitely a tall order for someone like me…
Gianfranco gave us a demonstration of this last and crucial step, advising us to anchor our right arm to the table and keep it still while grabbing the bridge with tweezers. Instead we should use our left arm to change the position of the movement, while we try to carefully lower the balance spring with the right arm via vertical movements only, then wiggle the spring into place by adjusting with our left arm.
Well, I went back to my station and promptly forgot everything Gianfranco said. I didn't immobilize my right arm and introduced horizontal in addition to vertical movements. But as luck would have it, I think I got it after a minute or so. Miraculously, the second I dropped the assembly into place the balance wheel started turning, as energy stored in the barrel was released. In our little unspoken competition, I finished only shortly after Mrs. Tigger.
After Francisco confirmed that everything was correct, I lifted the final screw with my tweezers and set about securing the balance bridge - the final task before declaring victory. It was then that I nearly suffered a heart attack. The tiny screw wasn't firmly secured between the prongs of the tweezers, and went flying off somewhere. Expletives started to fly in my mind - and perhaps audibly, too. How the hell would I look for a tiny screw on the dark, carpeted floor?! Gianfranco had just finished telling us earlier that no real watchmaker's workshop would ever have a carpeted floor, and now I'm totally screwed… or actually, not screwed…
Seconds later, the second miracle of the day (for me) happened. I found my missing screw on the lower level of my station. How it could have gotten there after flying off was beyond me, but I wasn't about to question this miracle. I happily picked it up with my tweezers and, with a few turns of the screwdriver, finished my assembly.
Like obedient school children, we each got up to accept our certificate of attendance for the workshop. It doesn't mean that we're now ready to be watchmakers, but at least each of us - with a little help from our instructors, and some more than others - has successfully completed the disassembly and re-assembly of a relatively simple mechanical watch movement.
We adjourned for a lovely lunch courtesy of Richemont, and I actually think I managed to stay pretty true within the boundaries of my diet.
We moved over to Vacheron Constantin, where Nicolas Brindjonc had arranged for us to view some of their bespoke pieces as well as their grand complications in their Atelier Cabinotiers. We were introduced to their latest and greatest achievement - a watch with 18 complications that has yet to be manufactured. We also got to handle the Tour d'Ile, a watch with 15 complications introduced in 2005.
But I'm pretty sure that the watch that everyone wanted to take home was the Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 - the thinnest minute-repeater any of us had ever seen. Simple and understated, I think it's the ultimate statement of class. Having just gone through working with the ETA 6497-1 hours ago, the thought (and sight) of a minute repeater whose movement is only 3.90 mm thick is pretty mind-blowing… much like the Jaeger LeCoultre Calibre 101.
This had been a pretty awesome day. Many thanks to Carson, Tigger and of course Nicolas from Richemont. I'm still a novice when it comes to watchmaking, but I can say that I'm no longer an idiot… I think...
I did something terrible that I haven't done for a long, long time… In fact, I don't even remember the last time I did something like this. I double-booked myself.
Two weeks ago I had arranged to meet some friends for dinner tonight. As I had been busy traveling to Taipei for Mid-Autumn Festival, and then gotten busy preparing for my board meeting with the boss, somehow it slipped my mind. And it didn't help that I wasn't responsible for booking the restaurant for our gathering, so the event failed to register and I never put it in my calendar.
A few days ago, I discussed dinner plans with another couple. I wasn't very eager to go out for another meal, as I had already reached my weekly quota of cheat meals with the Sotheby's dinner. My extremely kind and considerate friends decided that they would entertain me at home and cook up some simple vegetables and rice, so that I could stay within the boundaries of my diet.
So imagine my absolute horror when, while checking out some amazing pieces from Vacheron Constantin at Watches and Wonders this afternoon, I received a message reminding me that dinner had been booked at Kazuo Okada per my suggestion. I realized right then and there that no matter what happens, I was going to have to look like a jerk and cancel on someone.
I decided to stick with my friends who made the reservation at Kazuo Okada, as I had booked them first. I apologized profusely to the friends who were entertaining at home, and stopped by to deliver some contraband I smuggled in for them.
Having delivered the package along with the mea culpa, I joined the other set of friends and headed across the harbor. It's been a few years since I was last in Hung Hom, and I was utterly amazed by Winnie the Chew's ability to navigate the streets…
It was past 8pm when we stepped inside the restaurant, and found ourselves to be the only customers of the evening. Another couple arrived a little later, but didn't seem to be having dinner and left shortly. Wow! The last time I had the restaurant all to myself was during my 6-month move to Singapore nearly a decade ago, when so many decent and upscale Western restaurants seemed to be devoid of customers.
Given that this was an "extra" cheat meal, I figured I'd better be good and order the cheaper of the two kaiseki sets, having read that the chef's kaiseki set was the "extensive" set. Well, it turns out that both sets have the same number of courses, and differs simply in the quality of ingredients used. Oh well…
Unfortunately, the duck had been way overcooked by now, and was dry and tough inside the batter which had turned mushy thanks to the scallion sauce that was poured into the bowl. The one saving grace was the radish, which had been cut in one long ribbon and rolled up in the middle of the pot. The eggplant cubes and cherry tomatoes didn't seem to add to the dish.
We decided not to open the bottle of Champagne my friends brought, since I wasn't in the mood to drink a lot. So we ended up order a small bottle of sake, and as it turned out the restaurant chose not to charge us for it.
I had heard some good things about this place, and in the end I was not disappointed. The food was very solid, and the chef certain showed a good amount of creativity. I am definitely looking forward to coming back here, and I'm also looking to try out sister restaurants Messina and Yu Lei (玉蕾). Now if only this place wasn't such a pain to get to...
I'd been looking forward to this day for a while. After months of hard work (and lots of mullah being spent in the process), I Love Lubutin's new pad is finally ready. Given that it's also around the time of her birthday, this housewarming and birthday party got me pretty excited. An extensive menu was planned and circulated, and I looked forward to a fantastic home-cooked cheat meal.
Jamón ibérico is best paired with Sherry, and Kung Fu Panda very kindly supplied us with two bottles.
Given that there would be around 10 of us, I brought a magnum of red to lunch... but didn't expect that there would be NO drinkers today! I think we only finished 1/3 of the magnum, and most of that was drunk by myself... Boo hoo... I hope I Love Lubutin saved the rest for cooking. Cooking with some France red wine made by La-Fite would be SO GRAND!
Even though I wasn't stuffed - and probably could have taken in more food if someone twisted my arm - I was pretty satisfied and happy. Many thanks to all the chefs/elves/slaves who helped put this meal together, and I'm glad I did my morning jog before lunch to burn off some of the calories!
Tonight's dinner was a highly anticipated event, as the venue chosen by the birthday boy was on the top of my list of new restaurants to try - Seventh Son (家全七福). As long-time fans of Fook Lam Moon (福臨門), it was naturally sad for us to see the brothers split with each other, but the result is that we now have a third outlet in the Wanchai area serving cuisine that is comparable to FLM. Nominally it was BM's birthday dinner, but in fact we were kinda celebrating 3 birthdays together. I'm glad BM ended up booking us a room here.
Upon my exit from the elevator on the sixth floor, I was led through a maze of corridors, passing trolleys loaded with supplies, dishes…etc. Not exactly classy or grand for a high-end restaurant targeted at the city's elite, and tonight our neighbors in the next door included one of the city's most recognizable tycoons. The decor here was a little bare, I thought…
I was just around 15 minutes late, and two starters were already on the table:
the version from Tim's Kitchen (桃花源), but I supposed the bigger pieces here are more "homestyle"… The tripe was reasonably crunchy, and the peppers were actually a little spicy.
This being a birthday celebration and all, I thought I'd bring a few bottles along to get the evening going…
Sooo… the food was pretty good, but didn't quite measure up to FLM, yet. Of course it's still early days, and hiring good restaurant staff appears to be mission impossible in Hong Kong these days. I'd say Brother Seven's new venture is delivering about 80% of the quality of Brother Five's Fook Lam Moon, but time will tell whether he could catch up.
Now that I've gone through two months of my nutritional program, it's time to do another update!
Weight lost to date: 5.0kg.
I'm a little annoyed, because just two days ago I had lost 5.8kg. Unfortunately, since my morning weigh-in that day I decided to gorge myself on tons of yummy food at a housewarming party, and my body ended up retaining some extra water. I'll be taking in some food rich in potassium to help me drain out that extra water weight…
So my weight loss seems pretty steady - about 2½ to 3kg a month. If I can keep this up for a couple of more months, I'd have no trouble hitting my short-term target of losing 10kg. I'll figure out what to do next once that target is reached.
My health has improved
A few days before my last update, I went for a simple blood test to figure out some simple statistics. The results were a little surprising to me:
My new toy: Basis B1
Since I started jogging, I wanted to have something to track my heart rate and running distance/paces. I came across the Basis B1 band, and after doing some research decided that it would be my choice of fitness monitor. I've worn it for about 10 days now, and I'll put up a separate post about it later. So far it's been kinda fun.
Today was a pretty busy day for me, both work-wise and cheating-wise. My friendly neighborhood prime broker hosted an investor conference for us, and I spent the day playing the role of a broken record, telling different groups of prospective clients throughout the day why my boss is Da Man. I think it got to the point where even the boss was tired of hearing me sing his praises…
But it wasn't all bad today. There was plenty of good food around, and boy, do our prime brokers eat well! We spent our lunch hour in their staff cafeteria, and I saw people going for seconds (and thirds) of baked Alaskan king crab legs, deep-fried mantis prawns and other delicacies. They even managed to bring in a small team of elves from that world-famous export from my hometown - Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) - who made xiaolongbao (小籠包) to order right in front of us! That was pretty impressive, coz I don't think Din Tai Fung makes house calls for just anybody…
The rest of my lunch consisted of food that stayed within the boundaries of my diet - udon (うどん), corn, celery, cucumber and green peppers. Boring stuff, but I needed to save some quota for dinner…
After the last meeting was done, we were shipped back from the Dark Side for dinner at Cipriani. It's been a couple of years since my last visit, and I was kinda missing the food. As it turns out, our set menu included some of my favorite dishes at this place! Hoooray!
Well, that was a pretty good way to wrap up the day, and I even got to spend some time hobnobbing with prospective clients. Must thank my friendly neighborhood prime brokers for treating me so well...
Remember that 3,000-calorie dinner (actually two within the space of a week) I had not so long ago? Methinks tonight's dinner definitely blew that away… by a very wide margin…
The last time we met, my friend the Krug Lover and I discussed the possibility of booking the Krug Room so he could try it out. He was pretty excited at the prospect, so I checked with Uwe on the next available date and - after ruling out an earlier date because of a pre-existing conflict - settled on tonight. I figured we needed a reasonably big crowd, so I asked Krug Lover to invite a few of his friends while grabbing a couple of mine.
I arrived at the Mandarin Oriental, got upstairs and walked through the Chinnery as I normally would. I wasn't expecting to be stopped by a bouncer, who informed us that the room wasn't ready. They were preparing a surprise for us, and we would only be allowed to enter the room once everyone has arrived, as we needed to be surprised simultaneously.
So I was dutifully led back outside, where we were seated in the bar section of Mandarin Grill + Bar, and served our first glass of Krug while waiting for the whole gang to get here. Unfortunately, that was gonna take a while because My Favorite Cousin was running pretty late. So I sat down and took a few sips of Krug Grande Cuvée…
When transpired next was nothing short of surreal. Krug Lover and his wife greeted the couple they had invited, and it turned out the husband is the very client whose dramatic weight loss had inspired me to embark on my current diet! What a small world! Tonight would be the third time we met up within the last week. So… there would be two of us cheating tonight…
Finally, with the arrival of My Favorite Cousin, we were finally ready to enter the room. The door was pushed open, and this was the scene that greeted us:
I immediately regretted my decision - out of sheer laziness - not to bring my wide-angle lens tonight. I would have loved to take some real artistic shots of this setup.
Uwe came in and told us that we have found ourselves in the middle of a forest in autumn. Earlier in the day he mentioned that we would be getting a preview of his new menu, and it turned out tonight was the first evening it was be served. What a privilege!
my last visit. Malt and pumpernickel bread sticks made to look like branches, and actually very delicious on their own. Even better with that killer herb butter on the side…
The savory part of the meal was finally over… and we can now start on the first of our three desserts!
a few months ago. We all squeezed together at the far side of the room while the chefs painted on the silicone canvas…
This time it was cep and caramelized milk pudding that was solidifying in front of us, and Uwe had to check to make sure that enough time had elapsed. Pretty cool.
The "moon rocks" of old are still really yummy, and My Favorite Cousin - who is a chocolate fiend - kept digging her spoon into it. If it would have survived the trip back home, I'm sure she would have packed it in a doggie bag.
With this crowd, there's always plenty of wine. Krug Lover had complained in the past about me not bringing enough wine, so I made sure there was no chance of that tonight. I am grateful to Uwe for making an exception and allowing us to BYO. I made sure we brought magnums so there was plenty to go around...
Krug Grande Cuvée - we started with two glasses of this. Toasty, oaky, a little yeasty. Nice and mature on the palate.
Grandma and Grandpa Bear are back in town after a long trip abroad, and I haven't seen them in a while. Given their complaint about the lack of decent food on their trip, it's no surprise that they wanted to go for some good local Canto fare. So off to Tim's Kitchen (桃花源小廚) we went, and ordered up a few favorites.
I was pretty full, and certainly exceeded my allowance for the evening. Most of our favorite dishes were still pretty good, but I do have to say I found things a little over-seasoned tonight. My tongue had a slight tingling sensation that normally comes from having food with MSG, so from that angle I wasn't very happy. Oh well...
I arrived a few minutes early and found myself alone with Dayliao. About a minute later I realized Pineapple was in the next room, as I started hearing his voice coming through the partition. Apparently he got a little worried that our host wasn't serving enough wines tonight, and decide to send over a bottle of Le Pauillac de Château Latour - the third wine of the château. Such generosity…
the other night, I allowed myself a little piece of meat today… Very tender with a layer of glistening oil…
Some time during the middle of dinner, the door opened and three little girls showed up in the doorway, chiding us for using foul language. Turns out the cuties were Pineapple's nieces, so naturally we all pointed the finger at Pineapple as the offender… Yes, there usually are a lot of expletives flying around when the boys get together, which is the reason why we always get a private room...
So what exactly was the line up that our generous host had in mind for us, such that we needed reinforcements in the form of the third wine of a Bordeaux château?
Flight 1: opened one hour prior to serving
Flight 2: opened for 2½ hours prior to serving
Flight 3: opened and decanted for 3½ hours prior to serving
Wow… this was such an enjoyable evening! The food was excellent, and of course the wines were very special and tasty. Many thanks to our generous host, and I'm glad I finally had occasion to check out Guo Fu Lou. Now looking forward to the next gathering!