Amber

I am currently down with an infection and a severe bout of allergies (I’ve been having a lot of those lately) and thinking about all the food I am missing made me reminisce about one of the best Michelin experiences I’ve had so far: the two Michelin star Amber at the Mandarin Oriental Hongkong.

Now this is a long overdue post, one year in the making but the experience is just too good not to share.

My friends and I got a private room for our lunch and since we were in Hongkong to gorge on delicious food, we decided to go with their lunch wine menu – one glass each with starter, middle  course, and main course.

Who says we can’t have wine during lunch?!?

image

When I first heard that we could potentially take four hours, I immediately thought, how can lunch take that much time? But when the first dish was served, I thought, oh now, I get it.

Duck colvert – A very rich foie gras, pâté en croûte, and sicilian pistacchio with spiced mango chutney.

I normally cannot tolerate too much pate, so having the starchiness of the crust  break that richness, and the sweetness of the mango to stave off the saltiness was a clever foil for it. It was an explosion of different flavors, all rich but perfectly complement each other. On a side note though, it was rather too heavy for me – I felt full midway through the pate en croute, but still finished it because it was too good to pass up. And the Chilean white wine was the perfect drink to wash it with.
image

Oh, and let’s not forget the bread? I am a big bread person after all. 😂 I love that they offered different kinds of bread to satisfy just about every preference.

image

For my middle course, I chose the cuttlefish – ala carbonara, served with quail egg yolk, charred pearl onions, and smoked alsatian bacon. And because we were feeling festive, it was Christmas season afterall, we got some table shaved alba white truffle to go with our meal. I love white fish, onions and bacon, and while the different textures and flavors worked well, after the richness of the pate, it was a tad too gentle on the taste buds for me, even with the truffle.

image

I was literally bursting at the seams by the time our main course was served but who can say to to this:

Aveyron lamb – ribs braised in pinot noir, boulangere potatoes with taggiasche olives, tomato olives, and mizuna leaves. I have no words but I hope I did it a bit of justice with the photo below:

image

The next plate was the chef’s selection of French unpasteurized cheeses. I love cheese but I often get disapponted with the spartan offering of most restos, so I had very little hope that this case would be different. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The cheese plate was obviously carefully curated, with the varieties that go well with each other served in small portions – big enough to more than just whet your appetite, but small enough to not make you gag.

image

And as if the cheese plate was not enough, we had a dessert of pineapple confit – with grilled millefeuille, grand cru madagascar vanilla cream, licorice, lime and yoghurt mousse, and exotic fruit sorbet. I’m not too fond of pineapple, licorice or lime (I don’t like sour/citrusy food in general, except as garnishing), but I enjoyed it enough to finish half and that is saying something.

image

The last itme on the menu is dulcey chocolate – the caramelized macadamia and peanut butter sorbet was just heavenly! Now this is the dessert I love!

image

We had tea and petit fours to round up our wonderful lunch!

image

image

HK Foodtrip: Boqueria

I am not too fond of walking too much nowadays – I used to, when I was younger, but now I just get tired too easily. Chalk it up to aging and leading a sedentary lifestyle. So when my friends and I trooped to find this quaint little resto for Brunch  in Central, Hong Kong, I remember thinking: the food had better be very good. You see, Central is quite a big place and it took us a lot of walking up and down winding side streets before we found Hotel LKF, where Boqueria was neatly tucked away on its second floor.

When we first entered the place, I was quite charmed by the way it looked so cozy, like where you would hang out with your friends after a long day (or week). It wasn’t the place to be seen out and about; it wasn’t intimidating. Exactly my kind of place.

image

To be honest though, we didn’t come for the food but for the unlimited do-it-yourself sangria, which you can easily do following three simple steps: get your ice and fruits, pick your juice (orange or grape) and wine (red or white), add sprite (if you want), and voila! Your very own sangria.

image

We started off our meal with glasses of sangria – we were very strategic with it: we got the table nearest the sangria station and just across the kitchen door. Our sangrias were perfectly paired with appetizers from their carritos (mobile carts),which fortunately always starts with our table. Hahaha!

image

image

I love their plate of Embutidos y Quesos (cold cuts and cheese) which we drizzled with olive oil (by request) and Ensaladas y Especialidades Espanolas (salads and specialties). I normally don’t like cherry tomatoes but that day, they were just oh so fresh and perfect with my meats and cheeses. I would of course, pick the cold cuts and cheese that are so abundant in France, but this would be a lovely substitute.

image

It was the Christmas season when we visited Boqueria and pretty soon, a big group of expats entered the place. In fact, their group was so big it was just them and us! They all ordered oysters and since we were the only other table, we were given free oysters as well! I need not tell you how much I love my fresh oysters!

image

The brunch package (which you can get with the unlimited DIY sangria) also includes their Paella del Dia (Paella of the Day) which was the perfect base for all the grilled goodness that was served shortly before it.

image

I was seriously full before we even got to taste their Verduras del Dia a la Piancha and Churrascos de Carne (grilled veggies and meats) but I can’t say no to grilled salmon, beef and pork, can I? Especially when they’re all hot-off the grill. I never tried pairing my grilled meats with mustard and tartar sauce but I was pleasantly surprised with how good everything tasted.

image

image

image

After serving us all those yummy grilled meat, guess what the finale was? We were so proud when we saw the Cochinillo Asado (suckling pig) being rolled out on the last cart – or none other than our very own lechon!

image

I was seriously full to the brim by then; one more bite and I would have thrown up and made a mess right there. But then, the next cart rolled in and it was laden with plates of delectable Postres – freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple pie, and churros drizzled with chocolate syrup! So decacent and oh so tempting for a chocolate lover like me. They were not fancy concoctions but it was their simlpe familiarity that made this dessert plate a winner in my books.

image

And to top off our Boqueria experience, we tried the Porron – similar to a beer bong, the bartender would pour an alcoholic beverage through a small tube straight to your mouth and would only stop when you give the word.

Two thumbs up!

Food Trippin’ The Michelin Star Way

I guess it’s a pretty known fact that HK is one of my favorite destinations abroad – it’s just a two-hour flight (shorter than going to Fairview from Makati on a weeknight), and it has theme parks (kid at heart here!), shopping (hello, outlet stores!), and perhaps the best reason of all: it is a paradise for foodies like me.

For my trip with my friends last holiday season, we wanted it to be as laid back as possible, and maybe sneak in a couple of tourist spots. But our main agenda was, yes, you guessed it: FOOD.

And we couldn’t even wait until we stepped out of the airport. First stop – the one Michelin star Ho Hung Kee. We were initially planning on going to their main outlet over at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay but as we where about to step out of the airport, we noticed that there is actually a Ho Hung Kee right there!

We weren’t really that hungry so we just got some shrimp siomai, noodles, and of course, their world famous congee.

image

To be honest, I am not a dimsum fan. In fact, I don’t even like Chinese food that much (or maybe, I grew up eating too much of it that I had grown too used to it). But their siomai was so good. Ever thought of how some siomais tend to rely on their main ingredient, like if it’s pork, it’s just the pork that carries the entire dish? Well, the meat of this one was equal parts sweet and salty, and the shrimp was fresh and tender and not gummy at all. Even the yellow wrap was very tasty – I wanted to cut the siomai into different parts so I could taste each. And the crab roe added a nice texture to the siomai. I didn’t even need my usual soy sauce/chili/calamansi mix!

image

We couldn’t decide on what noodle dish to get so we got the house specialty wonton noodles in soup. The wonton was good! Same with the siomai, the wrapper itself was tasty. And, the noodles were also a bit sweet! A welcome surprise as I had gotten used to salty noodles. Plus, the dish itself was very heavy – we split all our food into three parts but we still could not finish everything.

image

For our finale – we got their abalone, pork and chicken congee. I was expecting a lot from their congee since this was what got them on the Michelin list. But, I was quite taken aback that it was… Sweet. The porridge was a little too sweet for my taste, and the rice too fine that it felt like I was eating puree. I had to drizzle pepper and salt on mine before I could eat it. It was good and tasty, with the individual ingredients all accounted for in terms of taste and yet creating a whole that was greater than each part but, maybe for my Pinoy tastebuds, it wasn’t what I was expecting in a congee. I was expecting something along the lines of my beloved arroz caldo with all its ginger, chicken, salt, and atsuete seed coloring but got something like ginataan malagkit, minus the coconut and a tad less sweet.

All in all, I would still recommend Ho Hung Kee, if only to experience that authentic congee and dimsum. And, for a Michelin-rated restaurant, the price was pretty much hard to beat: our entire meal only costs us about HK$600, with drinks.

(Watch out for the next parts of my HK Food Trip!)

 

A Disney Christmas

The Christmas season found me in one of my favorite destinations – Hong Kong, which tops my list for a whole lot of reasons: it’s near (travel time is about two hours which is like a one-way commute from Makati to Fairview), it doesn’t require a visa (so yeah, you can practically show up at the airport, buy a ticket and go), and I can do a lot of things while there: hit up some theme parks, go shopping, and EAT!

I normally start all my HK trips with a visit to the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. I mean, how can you not? It’s just two stations away from the airport.

We were honestly tired when we arrived so we decided to catch some ‘zzzz first. It was late afternoon when got to the park – just in time for the afternoon parade!

Disney parades are always a sight to behold! I can just wander around the park all day watching the parades. Oh, and they normally change depending on the season. I remember that during summer, the characters would have spray guns!

image

And be sure to catch the parade at night! It’s even more spectacular with all the lights set against the darkness.

Disneyland is very pretty during the day – like all theme parks should. But for me, it’s at night wen the magic comes alive! There’s just something about all those shops on Main Street lit up that brings out the child in me. And you have got to watch the fireworks! It never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There was a special attraction during the holiday season: Anna and Elsa leading the crowd in the tree lighting ceremony. It was quite fun seeing the “snow” falling but I found it mildly annoying that all Anna and Elsa did were stand there making hand gestures while two Pinoys belted out Let It Go. I wish they just let the singers do the acting also, or, if they wanted the actors to be Caucasians, looked for actors who could also sing.

image

We wrapped up our visit with some dessert at the Corner Cafe, where I got a mug of hot cocolate to go with our molten chocolate cake and fresh fruits.

imageimage

image

It’s my nth time at HK Disneyland but my first time to try the Hollywood Hotel. I previously stayed the the Disneyland Hotel (the Victorian style hotel with sweeping views of the ocean). Well, price points aside (the latter was twice as pricey) and minues the seaview, they are both superb. The rooms are comfortable and spotless and the staff are very nice. Disney hotels will always be my favorite hotels in the whole world. Teehee. ☺️

image

The Hollywood Hotel has smaller grounds but when you’ve got acres and acres, dmall becomes a relative term, right? It has a wide garden and a pool, although at this time of te year, I guess swimming is hardly on anyone’s list of priorities in HK.

image

Okay, I must admit. I was quite giddy when my friends agreed to have breakfast at the hotel. I mean, it normally costs more to eat in hotels and the fare is restricted to what’s on the buffet table, so we usually eat outside but having breakfast at the hotel meant we could pose with Mickey at our leisure. How cool is that?

image

I was quite full will all the bacon I stuffed in, but I could not resist getting Mickey Mouse waffles. i mean, come on! Look at it!

image

Could you tell by my wide smile just how happy I was?

image

See you again, soon, Mickey!