Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cake - Juchheim Baumkuchen バウムクーヘン in Hong Kong

We mentioned in one of our earlier entries, dessert in Kyushu, about Juchheim Baumkuchen. So when we saw the news about a branch opening in Hong Kong (in Concierge Magazine, the monthly Japanese free publication), mum was excited and couldn't wait to try. The shop opened its door inside Sogo department store, on 22 Mar and mum finally bought one to try yesterday. The painstaking effort from the Japanese chef didn't disappoint. The freshly cut layered-roll-cake still retained a whiff of fresh eggs and the thin layer of sugar coating brought a sweet touch while didn't overwhelm. Normally mum buys food with the furthest date to expiry on the packing, but these have short shelf-life of 1 day!!

Note - Baumkuchen is a German word which is a combo of "tree" (Baum) and "cake" (kuchen). It's not pronounced as Baum-ku-chen, but more like Baum-kuc-hen. While traveling in Germany, it wasn't widely available instead it was sold inside a tourist shop catering for Japanese below Schloss Neuschwanstein. But shops selling one version or another of this seem to be springing up everywhere in Japan.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Restaurant - Shanghai Lo 上海佬 in Wan Chai Hong Kong

It's an illusion. You can see this dragon so clearly because the picture was taken using long exposure and post-processing was applied to the photo. So you need a small tripod to take photos in this restaurant.

Perhaps one of the funniest thing eating at Shanghai Lo was that everyone at the table, there were 11 of them, were having a hard time reading the menu. They only realized upon exiting the restaurant that a tiny LED book-lamp should have been offered. So you know how dark it was inside the restaurant. Perhaps understandable given that this restaurant is located in the building where the most famous nightclub this side of Hong Kong Island used to be. Even going to the washrooms you need to be ushered pass dark velvet curtains!! Once you get accustomed to the lighting, or the lack thereof, the Shanghainese food waiting for you were mainly traditional, some with a modern twist and high quality. Portions are small but not overly expensive.

We dare say this is shoo-in Michelin star candidate!! Make sure you reserve a table and come enjoy one of the better Chinese restaurant in town.

Address - 5 Tonnochy Road, Wanchai. Tel: 3125 3888
熏蛋 (smoke duck's egg) - wonderful texture cooked to perfection, just look at the runny egg yolk on the right

川味鴨舌 (spicy duck's tongue), 清炒河蝦仁 (wok-fried shrimps)

上海佬鍋巴 (Shanghai Lo's rice crisps) - one of the signature dishes, the raw quail's egg yolk gets mixed into the small bowl of minced meat sauce and then eaten together with the rice crisps. A great combo

花雕酒醉雞 (Huadiao drunken chicken) - one of the starter highlights, you can smell the fragrance of the Huadiao when the dish arrives.

油淋雞 (literally chicken drizzled with oil) - not the most appetizing name, but great crispy skin and tender meat!!

無錫脆鱔 (sweet & sour fried eel)

脆皮素鵝 (fried yuba)

Ramen - Tamashii Ramen Hong Kong 魂

Mum and dad are eating out a lot these days because JieJie J is on her 3-week home leave. So we get to write a lot more. So lets take a look at Tamashii 魂.

Mum and dad love their noodles and would even dare to boast they have tried more noodles in more corners of the world than most. One of the highlights for their many trips to Japan was to try out ramen and udon in those places. Tamashii's bowl of ramen must rank amongst the top of anything they have had. The shop's ambience is perhaps the most nostalgically Japanese in Hong Kong. If one is forced to pick between Butao 豚王 and Tamashii, the latter is their current top pick. Before we carry on with their praises for the place, you should know what Tamashii is NOT about:

Big portion - smaller than Butao and probably small than Ippudo

Super rich broth - lighter than Butao, similar to Ippudo. But the soup broth imparts a subtler flavor then either.

Queue at 11:30am, half-hour before opening.
A place to chat over a bowl of ramen - while nobody drives you away, but you feel bad occupying the seat while all the poor souls queueing outside breathing exhaust fumes from the constantly passing traffic going up Canal Street Flyover. Go to Ippudo for a more hospitable place to wait in line.

Feeling healthy - even though all the ramen come with small bits of veg like, sugar snaps, bamboo shoots  and the pork broth is lighter; the one piece of char siu will send your cholesterol reading through the roof. The worst thing is after the first piece melted in your mouth, you will be itching for a second helping to put even more load onto your pumping heart. Not sure if this is the feeling that the name of the shop is referring to.

Tai Keku 太極 - with black squid sauce

Tamashii 魂 
Hidama 火魂

Address - 18C Sharp Street West, Causeway Bay (side street behind South Pacific Hotel)

Feel free to check out where else we have written about eating noodles and ramen in Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world. tag - noodles

You might like to read this "Lifestyle" article in the Standard with more background. You get greeted by the broad bright smile from Lily Chen, the owner, when you enter the venue.

Check this out to see what "tamashii 魂" mean in Japanese.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Coffee Shop - Coffee Appreciation Class with KC Coffee in Hong Kong

Barista waited for the water inside the round-bottom flask to boil
Mum and dad went for a coffee appreciation class ran by KC Coffee in Kowloon Bay last week and they enjoyed their evening trying the different coffee brewed and Daniel, one of the shop owners, discussed his own experience with coffee appreciation.

During the session, Daniel went through a lot of different concepts and the distinctions amongst different coffee brewing methods, different beans and different grinds. Also what you can expect in terms of taste and smell from a quality cup of freshly brewed coffee. It was wide ranging and a short blog entry wouldn't do justice to what's been said. However, the gist of the session was perhaps captured by the very first question that Daniel asked. "how many of you drink black coffee, i.e. no milk, foam or sugar?" To fully capture the essence and enjoy the aroma of perhaps berries or citrus, you want to avoid polluting your cup of coffee with other stuff. A quality cup of coffee should deliver something similar to the Whiskey tasting we mentioned here before.

French Press and the importance of precise timing!
A cup of mellow and soothing black coffee
Despite all the persuasion, mum still likes her cappuccino with lots of milk and froth. Similar to the one seen in an earlier blog entry here. KC Coffee's brews were best described as mild and aromatic. Their coffees endeavor to bring out the fruitiness and nuttiness of the drink. More Japanese than continental European style and they get their beans from a Japanese roaster in Fukuoka, Kyushu.

The coffee appreciation class was a lot of fun and well worth joining if you want to know more about what you drink. You can tell Daniel is passionate about it and he has no qualms in telling you where else you can find quality coffee in Hong Kong. So we might write about some of these other places in time.

KC Coffee - Exchange Tower, 33 Wang Chiu Road, Kowloon Bay, HK
Tel: 852 - 3106 0363

You may also like this audio podcast by "Stuff You Should Know" about coffee.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Just Baked! - Pierre Herme Cake au Citron & 加藤千恵 Chie Kato Cocoa Almond Icebox Cookie

Pierre Herme - Cake Au Citron
加藤千恵 - ココア&アーモンドのアイスボックスクッキー
Chie Kato - Cocoa & Almond Icebox Cookies

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Special Treats - Lily's Kitchen Proper Dog Treats

If there's anything which guarantees our attention, it's the word "Treat!!". And we are getting something special tonight.

Thanks auntie R for the lovely gift. Tasting report to follow.

Update -
First night tasting - we ate the Blissful Bedtime Biscuits and went straight into a coma until the next morning.  Mum thought it was some secret ingredients in the biscuits, chamomile perhaps, which put us to slumber. But then we had a whiff of 18 year Macallan Whiskey before we ate the biscuits, so not sure which was more powerful.
Second night tasting - we were clamoring for the biscuits and we had two each. Scottie couldn't get to sleep after, still too hungry from the long walk in the afternoon. No whiskey no sleep. But they were delicious nonetheless.

Hong Kong Flower Show 2012 香港花卉展覽

Hyacinth is the theme flower this year.

Their natural fragrance attracted a lot of bees.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beef - different parts in English, Japanese and Chinese

After having the Chinese hotpot dinner last week in Him Kee Hot Pot 謙記 and getting stumped on what all the different choices you get in selecting beef, the number one ingredient of Chinese hotpot; dad decided  to do a bit of research on the subject.

It all started with 牛頸脊, which broadly translates to chuck and neck. And the confusion starts straightaway. Basically, where exactly these cuts are depends on who you talk to and where you are, that is even if you speak only English, because the primal cuts, the basic sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut, vary from the US to the UK and they are different again in Australia. ref wikipedia entry on beef

On the whole when you order 牛頸脊 (or 手切肥牛) in a hotpot restaurant in Hong Kong, you will get a plate of thinly-sliced-across-grain chuck, unless you go to one of the shops where you get them in further subdivided cuts of three (ref weekend hongkong)
牛頸 - neck
牛邊 - blade (word of warning, 牛鞭 which is pronounced the same way and a much better known term is cow's penis)
牛翼 - chuck

In Him Kee, the second beef dish on offer is 牛肋肉, equally pricey as 牛頸脊. This one is much less confusing, it's just rib loin.

So which one is better for hotpot? It really depends on how long you want to leave it in the broth. As a general rule, the further you move away from the horn towards the mid section of the cow, the more tender the texture gets and the shorter the cooking time. So the rib loin is more tender and require less cooking time than chuck, hence the rib loin should be cooked shabu-shabu style (fast), whereas the chuck slices should be cooked sukiyaki style (slower).

What should you order if you are with a big group of people who couldn't care less about how long they leave the beef to cook? Then you should order beef brisket, 牛腩. Basically, brisket comes from the same shoulder part of the forequarter of a slaughtered cow as chuck, chuck being the "top" cut and brisket being the "bottom" cut. Referring to the Chinese wiki entry, the three main edible subdivisions of the beef brisket are:
坑腩 - the "bottom" cut of the first 8 ribs of the cow, tough and full flavor since it supports a large part of the cow's weight.
爽腩 - the "bottom" cut of the 9th to 12th ribs of the cow, softer in texture with plenty of collagen, smaller in quantity makes this the pricier cut of the brisket. Arguably the most famous beef brisket restaurant in Hong Kong, Kau Kee 九記, is famous for offering 爽腩 in a rich broth.
腩角 - the tiny portion between 8th and 9th, only seen those sold in local butchers, surrounded by collagen.

The equivalent English distinction between such cuts are the point-cut {腩角 where the point is 角 and 爽腩} which is the superficial pectoral muscle of the shoulder responsible for pulling and leaner, flat-cut {坑腩} which is the deep pectoral muscle of the shoulder responsible for pushing. ref wikipedia entry on brisket The flat cut brisket is traditionally more widely available in the western butchers mainly for cooking corned beef (known in the UK as salt beef) and pastrami. The point-cut was often discarded. But this might no longer be true as Chinese cuisine becomes more prevalent. The equivalent phenomenon is chicken feet, where the sale of chicken feet is the margin which is keeping the US chicken industry afloat. ref

The following picture is from a Japanese website but somehow we have lost its origin. Please let us know if you know where it's from.

1. 肩ロース肉 - chuck roll, blade {牛邊}
すじっぽい(筋っぽい)sinewy therefore cut thin to use.
Best for yakiniku, sukiyaki, stir-fry
Steak = flat iron steak

2. 肩肉 – shoulder / chuck tender / clod {牛翼, 黃瓜條, taiwan 腱胛里肌}
the part that exercise a lot, so it is tougher but full flavor
Best for curry, stew or thin cut for yakiniku
Steak = teres major steak

3.  すね肉 – shank / shin {腱子}
sinewy but full flavor
Best for pot au feu, traditional French beef stew

4. リブロース肉 – spencer roll / rib loin {牛肋肉, taiwan 里肌}
tender, the uppermost part of the cow
Best for roast beef, shabu shabu
Steak = rib eye steak, entrecôte
カルビ - Galbi, Korean bbq short ribs

5. サーロイン – Sirloin {西冷牛排,牛外脊, taiwan 沙郎牛排}
Good texture + marbling
Best for steak, sukiyaki
Steak = Sirloin, New York Strip

6.ランプ肉 – Rump {外條}
Not fatty, fine texture
Best for steak, roast
Steak = round steak, rump steak

7. 外もも - Silverside, bottom round
Exercise makes it sinewy and a bit tough
Cut into cubes for stewing, thin cut for anything

8. 内もも - Topside, top round
Tender with great taste
Best for sukiyaki, tataki

9. ヒレ肉 – Fillet / Tenderloin {taiwan 小里肌}
Next to the back bone with no exercise, tender but not fatty. The Best!!
Best for steak and tataki
Steak = T-bone steak (front part less tenderloin), porterhouse (rear part more tenderloin) [Bistecca alla Fiorentina]

10. バラ肉 – Flank {巴掌肉}
Layer of fat separated by layer of red meat. Tough
Best for curry, stew. Thin cut Korean bbq
Steak = Hanger steak, skirt steak (the meat of the diaphragm)

11. シンタマ肉 – Thick flank
Non fatty
Best for steak, sukiyaki

ネック – neck {牛頸}
red meat with elongated strip of fat

肩バラ – brisket {牛腩}

ホルモン - offal, it's always good to know what you order and what you about to eat. This Japanese word, pronounced as ho-ru-mo-n, sounds exactly like hormone (in fact the Japanese for hormone is exactly the same). So it's easy, if someone is offering you hormone to eat, your reaction might be similar to being offered offal. In Gyukaku 牛角,  the Japanese BBQ chain, there's a menu item called, ホルモン三種盛り which is simply translated as assorted 3 kinds. If you think assorted 3 kinds are just 3 different types of meat without checking the picture, you might be in for a shocker. The 3 kinds are:
コロホル - pork intestines
レバ - beef liver
センマイ - beef tripe

If you like this entry, you might also like the most popular entry on our blog, all about beef offal.
As we gather more information, we shall do more updates on this entry. Let us know if you see anything incorrect.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

謙記火鍋 Him Kee Hot Pot

配料架 Condiments tray
油麵筋 is a much more precise and correct term for the yellow puff balls but not a lot of the hot pot places in Hong Kong will know what you are trying to order if you ask for that instead of 生根.

牛頸脊 - different cuts of meat is a huge subject and often a reflection of differences in cultures. Take a look at the wikipedia entry for beef if you are in doubt. There were 13 different menu selections for beef slices in Him Kee. The most expensive being 牛頸脊 which can be translated as beef chuck eye.

Update - Please check out the latest entry on beef in our blog for more details.

牛頸脊 beef chuck eye,生根 (油麵筋) fried gluten balls,手打牛丸 hand made beef balls

Kau Sai Chau Golf Hong Kong - 滘西洲

Kau Sai Chau on a cold drizzly day