Comfort Food at Chee Kei, Hongkong

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Tsimsha Sui is always one of my favorite spots in HK.  There’s lots of things to see and do, and of course Mong Kok.  There’s cheapo things among the more prestige labels, cheap eats mixed with the affordable and the luxury delicacies.  On our trip we went to Chee Kei which is quite well known franchise in HK with i think a few shops around Hong Kong and Kowloon side.

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Menu with English

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Hot strong tea is served while waiting for your mains to arrive.

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The funny thing is they are famous for crab congee and wontons but I always order plain congee and the pork leg.  Although we ordered the wonton this time.  In Hong Kong the norm here for veggies are boiled and served with a side of oyster sauce.  In Thailand, vegetables are always stir fried with some sort of sauce, the only naked veggies are salads.  And then Thais plop dressing on top.

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Enter a Kailan with oyster sauce.

The wontons came in a steaming piping hot claypot, it was shrimp wontons with pork broth or soup.  Not too salty and quite savory, a good porkiness.  The wonton wrapper was not over cooked like most shops so when they are sitting around for a long time.  This is a firm, chewy lovely consitency.  The Shrimp mixture was a good  mouthful with chunks of shrimp.  Good. It’s a nice professional homey feel to it.  I like mine witha spash of vinegar and chilli paste.

 

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Nice & Plump!
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Spicy, savory, yummy XO sauce.

For those in the know, XO sauce isn’t sauce with congnac, I’m not sure exactly where the real origins are but every seafood restaurant has their own recipe or like amazing traditonal housewives.  It’s made of according to recipie, the black ham, conpoy or the dried scallops, dried shrimps, oil, chillies and garlic.

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Hot, creamy and comforting!

Hong Kong Congee I think is the reigning King of all rice porridge dishes.  The rice is a silky, creamy thick delicate thick soup.  I can’t replicate the taste, i’m not sure why but it’s just not the same which is why every trip back to HK is a treat.  This time we ordered the fish which has raw slices of fish in our boiling congee, it’s cooked within seconds!

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5 spice poweder blend and turnip pork leg stew

Yummy and not at all oily. Usually the feet part isn’t fatty, if you go up the leg then it gets more fatty and less meaty kind of.  This is stwed until soft but has a firm texture, a soft delicate taste with the turnip.  I like the balance of flavours, sometimes the 5 spice blend is too harsh and it covers up everything else.  I think that is for people who like a dark sauce.

 

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Feast for 3!

For a normal lunch or dinner 200 HK bucks is quite steep, still affordable but a bit pricey since cha cha teng or side stalls are like 30 – 40 bucks a bowl but it’s nice to order from an english menu and eat in a nice surrounding.  So i recommend this for an affordable cheerful eats in HK.

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Luxury Crab at Wong Kun Sio Kung Macau!

It does help when you walk along the street and a friendly looking fellow beckons you into a simple looking side street cafe/restaurant with cheap and cheerful looking tables.  How much can it cost?

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Numerous celebs and articles!

You also feel good when you see the clean restaurant and the numerous clippings and celebs plastered on the wall and a sigh of relief when the menu is in english.  Now rewind, we were walking back from ST Pauls to our Royal hotel when we passed this place and decided to have dinner.

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Cheerful Menu Cover

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If i remember correctly they seem to make their own curry blend, their chilli sauce and their handmade egg noodles beaten or dried on bamboo mats like how people used to do it traditionally before.

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Listed in the Michelin Guide

When we got back, we found out the reason for the outrageous pricing is because apparently they were mentioned in the Michelin Guide book so that’s why their pricing went cray cray.

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Track Suit is the owner’s trademark!

The table setting was simple, but yet clean and has everything you need, plastic gloves, crab claw crusher?

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We ordered simple stir fried iceberg lettuce which must be cooked really quickly or else it’s too wilted and looses all crunchiness and will be just wilted lettuce leaves.  This was juicy, crunchy, delicious real skill!

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The pork bone soup was simple, with carrots.  It was porky, savoury with a hint of carrot sweetness.  I didn’t taste any other ingredients, maybe some peanuts but i feel that soup in HK, China & Macau seem to have this depth of flavor that i can’t copy in Bangkok.  No matter what type of bones i use.  I must find out!

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IMG_7864The fried sardines or mackerel was not at all greasy of floury.  It was light, crispy, crunchy, garlicky and if you chew on the chilli pepper it gives it a kick of spicy hot hot hot!

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Star of the show!

This type of curry crab is vastly different from what you get in thailand, their curry sauce is more coconutty, delicate sweetness.  Thailand has a more eggy scrambled egg texture feeling with more spicy oil and let’s say a more rough tasting palate.  This was delicate, creamy a more tender feeling curry crab.  It’s like a ballet vs rock.  Nice to have a balance of both in curry crab once in a while.

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It’s huge!

Note the size of the mud crab, it filled that gigantic bowl.  Now in the menu it just said market price, which is why we didn’t expect all our allowance to be gone into one single dish.  There was another table next to us with 8 people and they ordered one to share which is enough to go around.  We had to force our party of 3 to finish it once we found out the price.  really.  Look at the bill.  We didn’t try to congee or the egg noodles which is supposedly the star of this restaurant however as a splurge come.  Really do not miss this restaurant.  It’s clean, it has english menu, and the people are nice and friendly.  Just dont order this dish if you come less than 5 people or unless you’re rich.  Or you really want to.

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Address:

Wong Kun Sio Kung

G/F, 310A R. do Campo, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Ph: (853) 2837 2248

Complex Tastes of Northern Thailand

During our work in Northern Thai province of Chiang Rai last month, we had some time to sample the local delicacies.  Now for those not familiar with Chiang Rai, it is the northen most part of Thailand if I’m not mistaken bordering Laos and Burma commonly known as the Golden Triangle before a high influence on the trade of opium.  Now it’s a great tourist attraction for those who like nature since Chiang Rai is still quite quiet and peaceful.  With being so close to many other countries I think the food is largely influenced as well.  There is quite an Muslim population here which is why many spices not normally seen in Traditional Thai Cooking plays a huge role here.

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The usual laarb or minced por, chicken or beef yam or thai salad is usually, fish sauce, lime, int, roasted rice, shallots, spring onions, thai basil and chillies.  It’s spicy and fresh and sour.  However the Northern Larb is more heavy on the non traditional spices, i think cumin, saltier not sour version.  I feel it’s a more dry and meatier version.  I’m not sure of all the spices but it feels more indianish than thai.

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The Sai Oua or northern thai sausage is not different, the meats and pork fats are chunkier and loosely packed not minced sasages like we are used too.  I’m sure there is cumin or tumeric present in here, chunks of lemongrass, thai basil, chillies and other herbs.  It’s hot, meaty and very very flavorful.  You can taste all the spices, saltiness, porkiness of the entire mouthful.  It’s fantastic served with sticky rice and some side veggies. Not to be missed when travelling there!

Homemade Egg Noodles & Fish Balls

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Very Humble Looking Store Front

Located near our new office on Pridi Road, Phrakanong is an old old shop selling clear broth noodles with either morning glory or mung bean spouts.  It doesn’t look appealing probably for caucasians but this shop has been making their own fish balls, wontons and egg noodles for many many years, kind of a fusion between chinese and thai tastes.  It costs about 50 baht for a bowl of noodles, not cheap but rather filling and delicious.

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Where they cook your noodle to order.

As you can see their cooking station, they have all the types of noodles on show in the glass showcase, from “sen lek” thinnish rice noodles, “sen mee” round super thin rice noodles, “sen yai” wide ride noodles and egg noodles or “bamee”.  You choose your noodles and your toppings which comes with a choice of fish balls, Ue Guay which is Fish Paste in a long tube with some spring onions and fried and then sliced, crispy wontons, fried taro sticks in a mound shape, spring rolls and little prawn wontons and shrimp balls.  I’m not a bean sprout fan so i always ask for other green vegetables instead.  In all those bowls of condiments that you see, there are salt, sugar, pepper, garlic oil, spring onions, preserved vegetables, msg (most likely) and the pinkish thing is called Yen Ta Fo which is a fermented bean paste which makes your soup pink and has a sweet beany tofuish taste.

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Shrimp balls, fried taro, spring rolls and shrimp wonton, a rarity nowadays.
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See the fish-balls?  Light chewy delicious no fishy smell!

Again it’s a rarity you can’t find these toppings anymore in Bangkok, I’m sure there are some left but i dont know where they are.  Fish balls are common but all these other toppings are special and must be tasted when you are in Bangkok!

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Egg Noodle Special with Broth on the Side YUM!

It’s easier to see the noodles without the soup or broth on top so we ordered it separately.  The fish balls was delicious, the spring rolls crispy and the moo daeng or red sauced roasted pork has a nice texture to it.  really Yummy, and all for 50 baht or less than 2 USD!

Pridi – Near Gas Station.  You can park at the gas station for 20 baht.

Khao Soi aka Chiang Rai Curry Noodles

Khao Soi is usually served with a side of lime for squeezing and vegetable relish, this rich coconut curry egg noodles is served with beef or chicken, bean sprouts and spring onions with  crispy fried egg noodles on top for that crunch.  It’s a savory meaty, creamy dish best served with lots of freshly squeezed limes and dried chillies.  It’s a rate Thai dish that combines all aspects of Thai ,Chinese and Islam heritage together.  No one knows exactly how the dish came about but it originated from Northern Thailand, supposedly from the border of Myanmar and Chiang Rai.  There are dominant Chinese and Islam heritage in this dish, I also heard from the locals it was a Burmese Chinese Muslim family who emigrated to Thailand and created a dish with all the local influences.  I’m sure this dish must be from Islamic creators since I’ve never seen this dish available in pork, only beef and chicken as well as usually they sellers are often Muslim.

It’s a must try if you venture into the the Northern part of Thailand,  (ranges from 40 – 60 baht depending on the amount of Chicken and Beef) and dont forget to add the spicy chilies and fresh limes and cool it down with a nice herbal lemongrass drink!

Aperativo Hour at Pasticceria Abrate

It’s a really nice Italian tradition to havae pre dinner snacks and drinks.  I think it’s the laid back attitude of people to relax after a tough day unwind before enjoying dinner.  I was walking aimlessly past Piazza Castello and on PO Street when i passed a few shops with people were sitting chilling with a drink and what appears to be like a sandwich tray in front of them. Some shops had more elaborate displays and some looked simpler so i plopped myself down and asked for an aperitivo.

The waiter very kind and friendly suggested a local vermouth which was delicious.  It was citrusy and had a nice aniseedy refreshing flavor, it wasn’t too heavy and it wasn’t sweet it was just right.  The mini bites was just the right mouthful with a variety of simple toppings, tomatoes, roasted veggies, hams, porchetta and roasted onion.  I think it was around 7 or 10 euros for the drink and mini bites.  It’s really good, the slow life in Italy.

Pasticceria Abrate

Via Po 10

Torino, Italy

 

 

 

 

Japanese Lollipop!

Look at all the fresh colors!
Look at all the fresh colors!

We went to one of the temples in Tokyo, and one of the interesting sweets or I call it a Japanese Lollipop is a multi colored sugar syrup coating a fresh strawberry or plum and placed on a huge ice sheet to harden.  It’s got s sticky chewy texture like a soft caramel or taffy.  Super Sugar Attack!

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Blue Strawberry!

Tippling Club – Best Modernist Cuisine in Singapore!!

Nice comfy modern looking restaurant yet not intimidating!
Nice comfy modern looking restaurant yet not intimidating!

Modern cuisine is something people imagine to be just like on tv.  Alot of smoke, and foams and nitrogen, and anti freeze, and weird kitchen concoctions that look like an abstract painting.  I think it all comes down to taste.  In Bangkok the best i’ve ever tasted and is still high in  my dictionary is none other than Chef Gaggan.  Until recently i came to Singapore and finally got to have the lunch at Tippling Club.  I would say there are some similarities in their cuisine, the beautiful fusion of different cultures and their genius touch.  Other than that the food is wildly different.  Chef Ryan should really be considered as the best Modernist cuisine in Singapore.

Really cute table setting!
Really cute table setting!

Starting off the experience was the first amuse bouche:

I can eat a million!
This is what a cloud tastes like!

Its the Chefs interpretation of the local curry.  A cute small jar with what looks like a custardy colored foam with some puffed rice arrives with a small spoon.  My dad, the Honkie very suspicious of “Gweilo” foods, especially weird foods with foams poked it with his spoon and said “What food are we having again?” (He’s the double boiled black chicken type of dad) I was inspecting my “foam” when i heard him scraping his own jar.  The “foam” had the delicate touch of a great tasting curry, more yellow curry with a hint of the coconut cream.  The savory, sweet, creamy was perfectly balanced and then you get the crunch of the puffed rice.  Seriously.  It set the bar intensely high.

And then this arrivied:

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Looks like some sci fi experiment!

Exactly my thoughts, what is that burnt thing?  Apparently it’s a chilli in some kind of a coating which is yes according to our eye is burnt, tar, charcoal etc.  The blob is a soy sauce wasabi mayo if i’m not mistaken.  The tree of us exchanged looks and gingerly used the tongs to have a taste.  Thought flash…. It should taste burnt, bitter, yucky.  But it wasnt!  I dont know why, it’s all dark all the way through.  Really, all black and inside was like a chilli pepper, roasty and savory and soft, the mayo was a tad too salty for me so we used really little of the dip.  My dad kept saying, but it’s burnt but it’s burnt!!!  I really really want to know how the (*^&%^*$)%$) did chef ryan manage it!!!  A stroke of genius and skill!!!

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Looks like a lava lamp in those tv shows! Soo cute!

Our palate cleanser was a tomato water and basil and olive oil.  Tastes like tomato, basil and olive oil, it was refreshing and cute.  I think this one was more of a beauty for the eyes.  I think the oils were in the double layered shot glass already i jsut recall them pouring it infront of us and the green and yellow droplets were floating around everywhere.  Very lovely presentation.

Now on to the first course!  Yabbies, cucumber gazpacho and pan cristal.

Super delicious!
Super delicious!

I actually forgot that gazpacho was a cold soup.  Well i didn’t really forget i was more concentrating on the yabbie part which is like a large shrimp.  I figured my dad thought it was more like a salad, with big shrimp and green goo as a sauce.  The yabbies were fresh, and nicely flavored, i think the cucumber gazpacho must have had some bell pepper in helping with the body.  It didn’t have that nasty cucumber greeny smell you sometimes get with cucumber.  It was refreshing with a hint of sour and a nice smooth texture. Dad didn’t complain. At all.

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Mum’s was the steak tartare. The presentation was exquisite, really nice, i can’t taste the truffles tho (truffled egg yolk) but to me the really tough part of making a tartare is getting the condiments and seasonings right.  It’s hard.  So far there has been only 2 steak tartare where me and my mom didn’t adjust the seasonings, one is Chez Pape in Bangkok and one is Paris.  Here is the third.  It was so perfectly balanced, spicy, sweet and meaty goodness with the mustardy tasting crispy baguette.  Seriously one of the best tartare ever!!!

Hot & Cold Vintello Tonnato
Hot & Cold Vintello Tonnato

Now this dish looks like a work of art. The veal shavings was frozen, the hot potato balls were piping hot and cheesy and crunchy, with a salty savory squid ink underneath.  It was a interesting mouth feel with the hot and cold, savory and floury cheesy hotness.  Yum.  The salty and soury capers added a nice touch to the dish and the carrots and nice sweet freshness.  Beautiful dish.

Roast Lamb Rump
Roast Lamb Rump with petit pois, rosemary & mint jus

I like my lamb medium rare and soft now tough and chewy.  IT was juice, bloody with a delicious velvety mash to go with it.  The rosemary and mint jus was not overpowering and helped elevate the taste.  The mini peas were a nice popping texture in the mouth. I like how the food arrived hot, some places with the wait and the thin slices, it arrives cold and i hate that.  Can’t find a problem with this place. Seriously.

Upon reading the menu and we are from Thailand what would you think? Salt water Barramuni, green curry puree, aubergine caviar, compressed celery and tom kha veloute.  Like green curry and tom kha together?? Are you sick in the head? In thailand there are two very different dishes, the green curry is made from a green curry paste and fried with a coconut cream then you add your thai eggplants etc etc.  It’s a sweet, spicy heavy curry to be eaten with rice or rice noodles.  Tom Kha is like a delicate coconut cream soup with hints of galangal and sour and spice but delicate.  It’s kinda like bryan adams vs kiss.

Another abstract art painting

Fish was perfectly cooked, piping hot and juice with a crispy skin.  You can taste the sweet tangy green curry somewhere and the foamy Tom Kha i presume was soury which is probably like a lemon with your fish.  Even my dad said it was delicious.  Really, Green Curry and Tom Kha in the same dish.  Perfection!

Now for the showcase, well all of the were showcases but i would give it to the dish where it would seem so simple, yet card to cook perfectly but to leave such a footprint in your memory.

Poulet Tallyrand
Poulet Tallyrand – poached bresse chicken, truffle and foi gras mousse, & trompette puree….

The chicken was like a soft delicate tofu with a bite, the foie gras added such richness and decadence to the dish, making this ordinary chicken worthy a place alongside a tomahawk steak.  The richness of the mushroom and the weird chocalate looking and taste feel like sauce really hit a home run.  My dad said it was the best tasting chicken he’s ever tasted. It really was.

And it’s not even over!!!!!!!!!!!!  Now on to dessert!

Soooo beautiful!!!!
Soooo beautiful!!!!

Confit Mandarin and Olive oil Cheese Cake with carmelised yogurt and thyme. It’s soo weird, but in a good way, it was like eating a frozen cheese cake, the sour, sweet creamy was a great balance. I didn’t get to taste the white sheet thingy but i’m sure it was lovely.  It’s like a healthy beautiful deconstructed cheesecake of some sort.  Sooo goood.

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Chocolate & Pistachio Souffle

Personally, i’m not a fan of pistachio, sometimes i feel like it tastes like amaretto, but it came with a mini magnum, and the souffle was piping hot and beautifully risen, it didn’t collapse too.  Nice combo again, hot and cold.  My dad loved it, he loves the amaretto taste.

The only part i didn’t like or it wasnt bad, cute playful presentation on Chef’s part.  The cornflake box was personally printed with the shop and his name on it.  So funny!

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Too much granola….

See the big T instead of a K?  hahahaha funny!!!  Maybe because it was called strawberries and cream, i expected like a cheesecake or strawberries with cream. It was more like a breakfast cereal, i liked the hint of goats cheese which was a nice touch in contradiction with the freeze dried strawberries which was ohhh soo sour!!  So aybe that’s why i felt that it was a bit weird….

We were all full and stuffed by the end of the meal and we had come petit fours with our coffee… Again beautifully presented, and rich chocolate and ganaches…

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I could only eat one…

The bill came to 270 sg dollars – roughly 6750 baht, which is really pricey for Thai standards even for a dinner, but really it was worth every every penny.  I loved that he had the same concept as Chef Gaggan – Avant Garde cuisine and affordable pricing.  I mean you could save up and come enjoy without missing your home mortgage even if you were still a first jobber.  Both my parents were happy and laughing and saying we need to bring our sister here.  That’s high praise for a conservative daddy who’s actually eaten more haute cuisine than i ever had.  Seriously if you had one meal in Singapore, hightail it to Tippling Club!!

We can see the chefs at work! Looked clean and super efficient!
We can see the chefs at work! Looked clean and super efficient!

Thai Omelet…. With siracha sauce

Delish and comfort food!
Delish and comfort food!

Traveling during work always makes me homesick on the 4th or 5th day.  At nice hotels they always have egg stations which offer a choice of poached, fried, scrambled or the stuffed omelet.  Now the usual omelet if you’re not from thailand would be in a long wormy shape, nice and yellow and undercooked in the middle with a plethora of stuffings.  In thailand we have our own omelet which is everyones favorite dish, be it at home or in a restaurant this dish is emptied out first.  How to make your own?  You need a hot pan and hot oil, because you want your egg to brown and have crispy spots.  Do not put in too much stuffing because your egg would break andn it would resemble a brown scrambled egg.  Trust me i’ve fallen prey to this one too many times.  I used 3 eggs, half a tomato, 6 minced shrimps and some kale.  Beat it all up together until foamy, you want lots of air inside so it becomes nice and fluffy.  I used a table spoon of soy sauce and a sprinkle of white pepper.  Drop a few drops of egg into the oil, if it bubbles up then the oil if hot enough.  Pour everything in and let it bubble for a 2 minutes, when the bottom is firm enough quickly flip it over and cook until golden brown.  Serve with siracha sauce with congee, or hot rice.  Easy dinner.  Done… PS:  Every kid loves this… really….