April 16, 2009 Lolo Dad's President Quirino Avenue Malate, Manila
Much has been raved about by food critics and bloggers about Lolo Dad's. Finally after years of hearing about it, we were given a chance by fate to actually dine at probably one of the most highly suggested restaurants for food lovers.
Totaling not more than 10 tables, the place was quite small. A converted house perhaps? The kitchen was visible from the dining area and the reason behind this was to showcase the chef's and their talent with food prep and plating. This was nice, a sort of entertainment and something to pass the time as you wait. Don't get me wrong, waiting time was really quick. The dishes came in their proper order. From bread to entrée, everything arrived in time and in their natural progression:
Bread - The bread was kept toasty with warmers before serving which made it really nice and soft upon reaching your table. It was served with whipped herbed butter which was fluffy and sweet. The butter melted right away over the warm bread and buried itself into the air pockets creating a moist and creamy combination.
Soup - Must have the Onion Soup! Lolo Dad's version was different because they used red onions instead. It's harder to make red onions sweeter compared to the white ones so in my opinion, they did a pretty good job. The cheese used was Gruyère instead of the normal Mozzarella which would explain the different aroma it had. This was a different version of a classic which didn't quite blow my mind. Don't get me wrong, it was really good! Maybe it was just because I expected better.
Appetizer - The Seared Duck Foie Gras And Goose Liver Terrine was what we decided to try for our appetizer. This was absolutely a perfect choice! The seared foie gras was to die for. Imagine a crisp exterior glistening with the black vinegar reduction that when sliced, releases a buttery interior. Upon reaching the mouth, the opposite textures of the seared exterior and the delicate interior drives your mind crazy. It is like biting into a soft wafer and then air. It's that good! The buttery texture also was flavorful in itself and doesn't require that much seasoning. Kudos to the chef for the perfectly cooked foie gras. The salad of arugula and liver terrine were also nice accompaniments to the foie gras but I think this dish had us mesmerized by the foie gras alone. They could have served it alone and the dish would still be amazing...
Sorbet - Who ever thought about palette cleansing is a hero in my book! I just love how some restaurants serve sorbet as palette cleansers to get your taste buds ready for the main course. The presentation of the Raspberry And Basil Sorbet served to us was cute. As you can see in the photo, it was served on the inverted cover of a small teapot. Inside the teapot was water and a piece of dry ice which didn't actually keep the sorbet cold but instead added a dimension to the plating. A bit of drama, effective, but drama nonetheless. The sorbet itself was really nice and perfectly flavored - not so sweet and not so tangy.
Main Course - Since we were torn between a course of red meat and/or fish, we decided to get both. Beef Tenderloin and Sea Bass. The tenderloin was nice but it would have been better if they used ribeye instead of the tenderloin. It could have been much more worth it if that was the case. Then again, the fatty ribeye would have overpowered the whole dish and would not leave space for the other accompaniments to be noticed. NAH! Ribeye alone would have been better! :)
The next main course we tried was the Sea Bass Topped With Dungeness Crab Meat. The meal was great and the fish was perfectly cooked. The texture was maintained as buttery and creamy. The crab and mashed potatoes didn't actually complement it though. In my opinion, the lowly crisp was the one who actually gave texture to the dish. The sea bass is moist and creamy, partnering it with another creamy side dish like mashed potatoes would make the whole dish too over-the-top. You can easily get fed up with it and eventually not finish it. The crab added dimension and texture to the dish but it also added a bit of a fishy aftertaste. Good sea bass should NOT taste fishy and trying to complement it with crab or shrimps would destroy the essence of the sea bass in itself. It would have been better if they had paired it with something tangy instead.
Highly overpriced but Lolo Dad's definitely backs-it-up! I tell you, my only regret for this whole experience was not the hole it left in my pocket but the fact that I didn't bring my good camera to take better photos...
Traveling via MTR towards the last station Tung Chung for a good hour, a 2-hour taxi cab ride to the Tuen Mun, a hefty transportation bill, and one hungry stomach was all worth it for the best seafood dinner I've ever had. I literally thought it was my last meal and I was about to die. It was that good. Plate by plate, every dish that arrived was perfect.
Tuen Mun is a town near the river and boasts a seaside market where you buy fresh seafood and have it cooked by the surrounding restaurants. Much like our very own dampas here in the Philippines but a bit bigger. Like how my brother aptly described it, it was indeed dampa on steroids.
We purchased a variety of seafood. Cooked, they looked like this:
Geoduck (Elephant Clam) Sashimi
Tausi Razor Clams
Oysters In Hot Pot (FYI: That's a TABLESPOON scooping the HUGE oyster!)
At the end of the meal, We could not fathom the satisfaction we got from all the excellent dishes. A perfect end to our Hong Kong Food Trip and a dinner that would truly echo in my memory forever.
April 11, 2009 Din Tai Fung Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
These little food gems originated from Shanghai and people say they have the best. I've never really tried it there yet but I definitely will (hopefully soon). For now, I have to settle with Din Tai Fung as having the best I've ever tasted. We also have Xiao Long Bao in the Philippines but none have reached Din Tai Fung's status. Shu Zhou maybe, but it's still a long way from the "real deal".
April 11, 2009 Eat Garden Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
We've all heard of Chicken and Waffles in the morning but to the Chinese, it's Chicken And Wanton. The best, and I'm not exaggerating, damn Chicken Soup I've ever tasted in my entire life. It's so good that I think it can actually cure not just the common cold, but plagues.
Words cannot describe this dish and you should go try it out for yourselves. I don't usually give out complete addresses because I believe that the best part of the whole dining experience is still the hunt but I will make an exception for this one. It's so good that I want you to experience it and not base everything on my redundant adjectives and inadequate descriptions.
You can find Eat Garden at Unit 46 UG China Hong Kong City Mall, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon Hong Kong.
April 10, 2009 Steak Expert Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
A stab at a steak dinner in Hong Kong was not a bad idea. We did, in fact, needed a little break from all that MSG-laden Cantonese cooking. My dad found us a nice steak place in causeway bay which hosted a lot of families and dating couples. My initial thoughts on the restaurant was a mix of anticipation and hesitation. I never really thought Hong Kong chefs had steak in their repertoire.
Rib-eye With Foie Gras - Steak was subpar. Foie Gras was nice but a bit overcooked. On the plus side, the dish was seasoned pretty well.
Seabass Over Pasta - The fish was milky and creamy as it should be. This meal surprised me the most because the meat was perfectly seasoned and cooked. I was not expecting it at all. Compared to the quite average steak, this was very notably twice better.
I was right. The meal was good and all but frankly, I've tasted better. Good thing the service was very very good. Well, being "very good" is an understatement with the service that we received.
April 10, 2009 Chee Kee Wonton Noodle Shop Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Presumably the best wonton noodles shop in Hong Kong but I liked the Wonton Noodle better in the side street cafes. I blogged about the best Wonton Noodle Soup back then. Chee Kee had also good, hearty wontons but when it comes to the noodles, it was a bit too soft for me. It was not as chewy as I had hoped. Too bad, the wonton and broth were perfect enough but they failed in the noodles part.
We also tried the Beef Noodles and I love how the beef was so tender and so soft to the bite. Now this is what I'm going to order next time! OR maybe a serving of beef AND wanton while I'm at it?
The Crispy Fried Wonton was a different story. The sound of biting through it alone made us order 2 servings of this delicacy. The stuffing also was very different and incomparable to the ones we have in the Philippines. Never have I tasted wontons this good.
A staple side dish for the noodle soup was the Gai Lan with Oyster Sauce. Yummy! But blanching it in a little less time could've been better to preserve its crunchy texture.
April 9, 2009 Super Star Seafood Restaurant (Times Square) Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Again one of the many famous restaurant chains in Hong Kong, Super Star Seafood Restaurant has been a staple in most of my trips to Hong Kong. They also have a lot of branches over the country and I believe they are also awarded for their food and service.
After a busy day of shopping in the massive Times Square at Causeway Bay, one can easily stumble upon this famous restaurant. Our visit, on the other hand, was planned:
Roasted Pork and Tofu Skin Roll - One of my favorites! Probably the best pork I've tasted during the recent Hong Kong Series (2009). Still in search of the best which, if I remember correctly, I tried from only a lowly sidestreet Hong Kong cafe. With disregard for location and/or sanitation (for that matter), it was heaven on a plate.
Stonefish Soup - Soup was very flavorful. It was the first time I ate Stonefish soup. I was scared at first because we all know that this is one of the most poisonous fish there is but nonetheless, I had to try it. Too bad though that in the bottom of the bowl we saw little morsels of shark's fin which me and my sister vowed never to eat again. I'm sorry but we didn't know the soup had it as a texture additive.
Mustard Greens (Mustasa) - Not as bitter as the ones we have cooked at home and together with the sauce of dried scallops, it was a very nice dish.
Giant Scallops - The scallop meat was HUGE and the flavor was superb. The meat was a bit overcooked in my opinion but so filling nonetheless.
Roasted Pigeon - I first tried this in Hong Kong and we had the best near our pad in North Point. My dad said it closed down because the owner dove into the stock market and drowned (pun intended). The roasted pigeons there were LARGE and very succulent. The best! Super Star's version however, failed in comparison. The pigeons were tiny and tasted really differently. Probably a different marinade was used. On a positive note: at least they were perfectly cooked given its small size.
Roasted Duck - After trying the Roasted Goose during our previous brunch, my dad told us to try the roasted duck to see if it was better than the goose. It wasn't. It was good in its own way and cooked very tenderly but I still prefered the goose. The duck meat was a bit too grainy compared to the goose and the meat was much leaner.
Fried Rice - Simply awesome! Now put some of that Roasted Duck drippings over it and it would be more than perfect.
Assorted Cakes and Pastries - I'm not fond of sweet stuff especially cakes and pastries from Cantonese, Japanese, or oriental cuisine. I believe the best can be found in European cuisines instead. In this light, I was surprised to taste good desserts at Super Star. It still has a long way to go compared to its counterpart but it was a nice end to a great meal.
Having been energized with dinner, anyone up for some more shopping? :)
Went to another branch of Tao Heung for our brunch but this time to the specific area where I've eaten so many times. I think this was the most crowded among all their restaurants. I've experienced them still having long queues at 9 pm. A bit expensive but one of the most popular restaurant chain in Hong Kong.
Roasted Goose - One word: Love! The meat was so tender and juicy. The drippings PERFECT over rice!
Steamed Shrimps - A little bit overcooked but still succulent and sweet. The dipping sauce was also nice but I prefer the ones we have here in the Philippines.
Roasted Pork - Great with the mustard dipping sauce and one of my favorite Cantonese style of cooking. But this one was a bit different from what I was expecting. It was good but not as good as the ones I've tried before. And unfortunately, I've already forgotten where I've eaten the perfect one. :(
Sweet and Sour Pork - Didn't really like this that much because the meat was too tough and the flavor was more burnt than anything. The rice, on the other hand, was very good!
Chicken Feet - Soft and tender. The flavor was very distinctly Hong Kong.
Siomai - I think I had way too much of this in my time. Possibly, I am now so used to the flavor that siomai doesn't surprise me anymore. It is still a staple in dimsum meals though.
Steamed Spareribs - This was as usual amazing. The only downside perhaps would be the appearance of so many taros. I really am not fond of taros.
Wonton Soup - A perfect way to end the meal, a light Wonton Soup that was surprisingly refreshing given the fact that we all know how much vetsin was in the soup. The flavors were exceptional but then again, maybe it was the MSG.
Some people hate brunches but how can you hate it in Hong Kong with these kinds of dishes presented to you?
April 8, 2009 Wong Chun Chun Thai Restaurant Jordan, Hong Kong
I'm not usually fond of eating cuisines from a different country when I'm in Hong Kong. I'm more into eating the indigenous rather than a try-hard replica. I was a bit skeptical with Wong Chun Chun for that matter:
The appetizer of Chicken Feet boiled in vinegar didn't help in comforting me from my fear. It failed to alleviate the pessimism from me. I mean, the Chicken Feet was cooked great, but it didn't blend well with the vinegar dressing. It reminded me of those weird appetizers in China I used to hate. I still prefer it in tausi and steamed like dimsum. But that isn't Thai anymore right?
I liked the Tom Yum though... it had a good blend of tang and spiciness. I think that this was one of my favorite dishes in the Thai spread that we had. The soup was made with herbs and spices that were very authentic. The shrimps used were also fresh and perfectly cooked. They were sweet, succulent, and a perfect protein for the splendid soup base.
Another one of my favorite dishes was the Steamed Fish in Tom Yum. The fish was perfectly cooked. The meat was moist and flaked beautifully. The Tom Yum stock was very very flavorful and had a more lemongrass taste. It was perfect for basting the fish by pouring the sweet, tangy liquid over the meat. The broth was also amazing over the bowl of steaming rice I ordered. Best dish of the night! :)
The Pineapple Rice surprisingly tasted much better than I had expected. Coming from that Pineapple Rice (or if I may rename it, Chicken Powder Rice) experience from Krua Thai I had just a couple of days before, I liked this version very much. It had (again) surprisingly (in Hong Kong nonetheless) less of the powder/MSG taste. It was generously flavored but not to the point of being too intense.
Crispy Chicken in Wong Chun Chun was not that great when compared to the one from Fung Shing. The chicken skin wasn't crispy at all but on the bright side, the chicken meat was very tender.
The Pad Thai was nowhere near the actual thing. The taste was much closer to Hofan than Pad Thai. The noodles were quite overcooked making it more sticky than solid. It was an utter disappointment and a destruction of a classic.
We ordered two kinds of Satay: Beef and Chicken. Both were really good and cooked perfectly. Some satays tend to be overcooked but this one was cooked through and through and yet it was very tender.
The last dish was the Sweet and Sour Fish. This was not as good as the Steamed Fish in Tom Yum but was very nice nonetheless. It had a very balanced sauce and coated the fried fish really well. The pineapples were also sweet and added another dimension to the flavors. If it were only Sweet and Sour Pork, I would be all over this dish! :)
For dessert, we decided on Tapioca Balls with Various Custard Toppings. The toppings were made from mango, sesame seeds, chocolate, or coconut. It was a nice dish to cut through the saltiness and spiciness of the entire dinner.
I enjoyed Wong Chun Chun because of some good dishes but it wasn't the best Thai food I've tasted. I'd still prefer eating Thai cuisine here in the Philippines. Or better yet, someday taste the real thing in Thailand.