Cook Off @ Miramar Pizza Express – 23 March, 2017

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Pizza Express staged the first of it’s Cook Off Challenges at it’s Mirimar branch on the 23 March when Sushi Kuu‘s Mukogawa Satoru took on PE’s Dan Segall. The resulting pizza’s Yamaimo & Chicken’ and ‘Yuzukosho and Clam’ respectively were sampled and voted on by an appreciative audience and will be available for a limited time.
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Frites Tasty Lunchtime Salad Buffet

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There’s a massive range of lunch options in Causeway Bay, new to that choice this month is Frites all you can eat salad buffet for $98. There’s a choice of 15 different salads, with a little something for everyone’s taste from the traditional coleslaw, Caesar and Greek salads right the way through to a modern Super Protein Salad. There’s beetroot, chick peas and pumpkin, tuna quinoise, grilled sweetcorn and for those who need a bit of starch with their salad there’s roasted potato wedges.

For those looking for something a bit more substantial than just salads there’s a choice of the main dish add-ons: Sole Meuniere with brown butter caper sauce and steamed vegetables (add $58), Chicken Piccata with butter, olive oil, lemon, wine and capers served with steam vegetables (add $78) and a USDA 1855 8oz Steak and Frites (add $98).

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The portion sizes for the main supplements are full meals in themselves and the salads were fresh, tasty and regularly refilled to ensure nothing ran out. A sticky date pudding dessert and coffee or tea are an additional $20 each.

Frites healthy and varied salad buffet is only available in the Causeway Bay outlet, Monday to Friday 12-3pm and if you finish before 12:45pm you qualify for the 20% early bird lunch discount. What’s also nice is that for those who need to know the salad buffet menu lists the allergies and intolerances for each salad.

Frites Causeway Bay: Shop 1, G/F, Park Haven, 38 Haven Street, Causeway Bay. Tel: 2142 5233 www.frites.hk

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Taste of Hong Kong @ Central Harbourfront – 16 March, 2017

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Four days of delicious food on the Central Harbourfront, Taste 2017 is a vast improvement on 2016. The restaurants are more prepared, have a better understanding of the event, have prepped more portions (3-500 portions per regular dish/session seemed the average) so it’s unlikely they’ll run out… Purchasing food is quicker and easier. There’s more seating – if a lack of bins.

It’s expensive, dining at these 16 restaurants is anyway, but the food dishes we tasted were good. The portion sizes of some dishes are a little small for the price, the paper plates environmentally friendly but not the best given the quality of the food. And there’s lots of samples from the various shops and market to try.

While all 16 featured outlets are worth taking a look at, Richard Ekkebus Culinary Director at Amber has done something more than a little special – and raised the bar for all participants for next year – he’s set up a special seated dining area and each session the producers and suppliers of the ingredients of each of his dishes are introducing and talking about what you are eating. Fascinating!
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Treating Your Tastebuds

The Taste of Hong Kong festival returns for it’s second year to the Central Harbourfront. This year there are 16 restaurants participating and all will offer four taster portion sized plates: three standard items at prices $50-$200 and one iconic dish that could cost up to $420.

Payment this year is only by credit card, if you don’t have a credit card then you can buy a prepaid ($200, $300, $800) one at the festival or from any bank. The remaining balance can used after the festival at other shops around town.

So the big question is how to enjoy and get the most from Taste and sample all the dishes you want to… There are two main approaches to Taste, the casual wander where you sample and join the queues that take your interest. But really this relaxed approach while enjoyable does not bring the best out of the festival.

To get the most from Taste, you need a little advance planning and it’s best to go with three or more friends. Firstly download and peruse the menu, chose which dishes you want to try and then ‘rank’ them in a rough order. This gives you the restaurants you want to visit, and with around 3,000 people per session, you’ll be queuing, which realistically limits one person to 4-6 restaurants.

But this is where your friends come in. Choose a meeting/eating point and then each of you joins a different restaurant queue and buys 4 (or more depending on your friends orders/preferences) of each dish. Meet-up, eat-up, enjoy and repeat… Remember to bring a tray, or something similar, with you to help you carry all the dishes!

To whet your tastebuds here’s a list of some of the dishes that are available:

Amber: Fukuoka line caught Spanish mackerel cured & torched, Miyazaki Hyuganatsu.
Arcane: Rangers Valley wagyu short rib served with green beans, confit garlic and pepper sauce.
Café Gray Deluxe: Brittany Diver scallop, XO emulsion and Amalfi lemon.
Chino: Uni/ truffle/ spicy lobster tostada.
Duddell’s: Pan fried M9 Australian wagyu wasabi soy sauce.
Kaum: Ikan Belut – Sambal Hijau, pan-fried eel fillet served with char-grilled chilli, shallots, tomatoes and coconut oil relish.
Mercato: Black truffle lobster carbonara
Okra: Sea urchin a la mode – Murasaki uni with smoked jelly and sea water.
Rhoda: slow cooked Hawke’s Bay lamb shoulder, spiced cauliflower and cumin.
Tin Lung Heen: Barbecued Iberian pork with honey.
Tosca: Prime beef in pizzaiola sauce.
Yardbird: Yuzu chilli hot wings with fermented yuzu chilli sauce.
Zuma: Grilled Hakkinton pork skewer with miso and pickled daikon.

As well as these tasty dishes there’s several food shops, importers and a market offering a wide range of products to take home and enjoy. There are also food demonstrations and talks.

A little planning will treat you and your palate to a fine, if teasing, meal.

Taste of Hong Kong
Date: 16-19 March, 2017
Venue: Central Harbourfront
Tickets: $678, $198, $168 from Ticketflap

Edited: The menu card only list 15 restaurants, there are 16 participating. We have updated the article to reflect that.

Goût de France 2017

Goût de France / Good France returns on the 21 March to tease and tantalise tastebuds globally. Orchestrated by chef Alain Ducasse and the French government with the intent to showcase the French way of life, regional produce, and France as a tourist destination. Goût de France is inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched a Dîners d’Épicure (Epicurean Dinners) initiative in 1912: the same menu, on the same day, in several world cities, for as many guests as possible.

This year over 2,000 chefs on 5 continents are creating a special menu to celebrate French gastronomy and joie de vivre. Locally 15 restaurants are participating at a wide range of price points, with some menu offerings only available on the 21 March, while others are on offer all week.

The Good France menu should include an aperitif with finger food, a starter, one or two main course(s), a cheese platter and a dessert, accompanied by French wines and champagnes. The outlets taking part locally this year are:

Akrame (Wanchai)
AOC Eat & Drink
(Wanchai)
B.A.M le garde manger (Sheung Wan)
Brasserie on the Eighth (Admiralty)
Chez Raymond de Paris (Sai Kung)
Epure (Tsim Sha Tsui)
Fleur de Sel (Causeway Bay)
La Cabane Wine Bistro (Central)
La Table de Patrick (Central)
Le Bistro Winebeast (Wanchai)
Otto Restaurant & Bar (Causeway Bay)
Petrus (Admiralty)
Privé (Ponte 16, Macau)
Rech by Alain Ducasse (Tsim Sha Tsui)
Stan Café (Stanley)

For more details on the individual menus see each restaurants website and for more on Goût de France see www.goodfrance.com

The Pond @ Elements Civic Square

It’s difficult to know what to make of The Pond, Maxim Group‘s new outlet at Element‘s Civic Square. It’s marketed as a Chinese Gastro Bar, which is an interesting concept – but the result is a venue yet to find its identity.

The decor at the two floor outlet is sparse. A large downstairs area is the drinking/ dining area and features a bar, an open kitchen – which you can’t really look into because of a service counter positioned infront of the window – and a large outdoor seating area for when the weather is accommodating. The smaller upstairs is more dining centric, with large floor to ceiling windows offering a semi-green view.

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The menu features a broad range of nicely presented Chinese dishes served for want of a better description ‘western style’. There’s a lack of oil, salt, msg but also sadly a lack of flavour. The dishes are nice, but there’s sadly nothing here that you must come back for or recommend to your friends to go eat. Portion sizes are not particularly large for the price.

Among the signature dishes is Sichuan Translucent Beef Slices ($98), the beef served on ‘lighted’ plate is sliced so thin as to be translucent and it becomes nicely crispy served this way, The mixed dumplings are meaty but somewhat bland. The Sichuan Spicy Crispy Chicken ($88) is good, but the dish is more chilli than chicken. There’s also fresh seafood, with daily catch options.

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The drinks menu is extensive and features a wide range of beers and wines with a few crafted cocktails served in amusing glasses and interesting ingredients including wolf berries, snow white fungus and fenugreek.

The Pond looks to bring a bit of ‘gastro’ style to a range of regular Chinese cuisines and it’s done ok. The food is nice, the venue is nice, although the location a little out of the way unless you live or work in Elements… It’s nice, but just lacks that bit extra that has you smacking your lips to return.

The Pond
Shop R002-003, Rooftop Garden, Civic Square, Elements, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 2258 2278
Opening Hours: 11:30am-10:30pm (Weekends 11:30pm)

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Taste of Hong Kong 2017

The Taste of Hong Kong returns for a second year to Central Harbourfront from 16 to 19 March. This year’s festival features an increased number of Hong Kong’s top restaurants, confirmed so far are Amber, Arcane (Sunday only), Cafe Grey Deluxe, Chino, Duddell’s, Kaum at Potato Head (Thursday & Friday only), Mercato, Okra (Saturday only), Rhoda, Tin Lung Heen, Tosca, Yardbird and Zuma with perhaps three more to come. Each restaurant will serve four taster portion sized plates: three standard items at prices $50-$200 and one iconic dish that could cost anything…

So what is Taste? The concept is that you can sample taster size portions of dishes from restaurants that you might never visit and create a meal from a range of cuisines. It is a interesting idea, sort of like changing restaurants between each course of a meal – and organisers IMG have turned it into a very profitable global concept.

bc was underwhelmed by last year’s event, not by the concept but by the execution – read the report here. We do love food though, so we spoke to IMG about how they’re looking to ‘improve the experience’ this year.

As HongKongers we’re accustomed to queuing but IMG have said they’ll be working with the participating chefs and restaurants to improve the service efficiency. Increase the information about which dishes are still available, including having far more of the icon dishes per session. As well as having drinks carts serving people in the queues.

There is to be more seating, covered and uncovered. A wider range of entertainment and more artisan shops to purchase food and drink from. Plus an expanded range of talks about food and wine.

The invited chefs look to have a better understanding of the concept and several of the icon dishes show they’re looking to offer something unique at Taste.

IMG appear to have addressed a lot of the frustrations that dampened enjoyment last year with some more improvements yet to announced but it all sounds promising for a tasty event in March.

Taste of Hong Kong
Date: 16-19 March, 2017
Venue: Central Harbourfront
Tickets: $678, $198, $168 from Ticketflap

Checkmate Pizza Grand Opening @ Hung Hom – 2 February, 2017

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Checkmate Pizza celebrated the opening of it’s second restaurant in Hung Hom with free pizza and beer! Size matters in pizza parlours and Checkmate offers 30 inches of tasty delight.
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