November 19, 2014

Hong Kong - Kaya Korean Restaurant

Double-size Marinated Beef Short Ribs

 Spring Onion Salad (came with the short ribs)

Ox Tongue

Marinated Chicken

Cucumber Soju

Seafood and Spring Onion Pancake

Sliced Pork with Lettuce Wrap

Pan-fried Rice Cake in Spicy Sauce

Beef and Homemade Noodles Hot Pot

Review: Kaya’s new location is in Midtown Plaza II, half a block away from its original location. The decor remains similar – bright lights, wooden furniture and sizzling grills. The new location is undoubtedly more spacious and comfortable though. The marinated short ribs were delicious. The sweet soy marinade was spot on and the meat was juicy and tender. I loved the short ribs wrapped in lettuce leaves and smothered with gojuchang spicy bean paste and raw garlic. I had to brush my teeth extra hard and use a lot of mouthwash that night, but it was worth it! I usually stick to beef at Korean BBQ, but my brother ordered the marinated chicken and it turned out to be delicious and flavourful. Definitely a great alternative to beef. I also enjoyed the beef and noodle hot pot. The bowl of warm peppery broth with chewy noodles and sliced beef was the perfect ending to the meal. For drinks, I liked their cucumber soju. It was light and refreshing yet strong enough to give you a buzz. The service was spotty at times. We ordered lettuce for our beef and had to remind them three times before it finally arrived. That aside, Kaya serves decent Korean BBQ in a comfortable setting, and I look forward to my next visit.

I recommend: Marinated Beef Short Ribs, Marinated Chicken, Beef and Homemade Noodles Hot Pot

Kaya Korean Restaurant
Address: 9/F Midtown Soundwill Plaza II, 1 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone: 2838-9550
Hours: Mon-Sun 11:30am-3pm, 5:30pm-11:30pm

November 12, 2014

Hong Kong - RyuGin

Updated February 20th 2015

 Monkfish liver from Hokkaido and Aka clam with spring onion in mustard miso sauce

 Simmered abalone with winter vegetables served with grated radish sauce

 Shiitake mushroom egg custard topped with Matsubagani crab

 Poached Gillardeau oyster and mashed turnip soup in winter style

 Assortment of sashimi

 Charcoal grilled Alfonsino served with crispy scales

 Wagyu ribeye sukiyaki with onsen tamago

  Premium sea urchin on steamed rice with simmered fresh seaweed

 Bottarga grey mullet roe on steamed rice with simmered fresh seaweed (for Bf who can't eat sea urchin)

 RyuGin Specialty -196C pear candy and +99C pear jam

 Deep fried spring roll, sweet red beans, strawberry, shiratama mochi

Date of visit: January 16th 2015


Watari crab salad under chrysanthemum flowers

Enter the Autumn Forest - Simmered abalone, mushrooms, pine nuts on hot egg custard

Poached Gillardeau oyster wrapped with shabu-shabu Wagyu beef and grated celeriac jelly

Flavor of autumn - Charcoal grilled Matsutake mushroom in Ichibandashi soup

Assortment of sashimi

Slow cooked blue lobster and selection of vegetables with Manganji pepper flavoured sauce

Large eel grilled over Binchotan charcoal

Ikura salmon caviar and Kobashira on steamed rice

Tea before the dessert courses

RyuGin specialty -196C apple candy and +99C apple jam

Kyoho grapes and Nashi calpis jelly with sense of sudachi and shiso flower

Matcha to end the meal

RyuGin Hong Kong is the first overseas branch of RyuGin Japan. It offers only one menu, a kaiseki of ten courses that highlights fresh seasonal ingredients flown in from Japan daily. I enjoyed each delicious and unique dish, but I had a few favourites. One was the Gillardeau oyster wrapped in Wagyu beef (or Boyster, according to Bf). The “Boyster” was presented in its original shell and thoughtfully cut into two bite-sized pieces. The flavour of the sweet and tender beef was more pronounced in the beginning, while the brininess from the creamy oyster came after. The tangy celeriac added brightness, bringing the dish together. It was definitely a well-executed dish. I would’ve never thought beef and oyster could be eaten together, let alone be this delicious!

Another notable dish was the grilled eel. The skin was super crisp while the meat was kept soft and sweet, with a hint of smokiness. The glaze was not too sweet, which I liked. Hands down one of the best eel dishes I have ever had. I also loved the molecular gastronomy dessert, which was a candy “apple” filled with powdered liquid nitrogen apple ice cream and topped with piping hot apple jam. Hot, cold, crunchy and fluffy all at the same time!

A lot of fine-dining restaurants serve expensive ingredients, slap a hefty price tag on them, and leave it at that. At RyuGin, you are paying for the skill and technique, heart and soul the chef pours into executing each dish. He condenses and amplifies the flavours of the ingredients without overpowering your palate. The chef is able to create a symphony of flavours and textures that work so well together. This is the epitome of Japanese kaiseki.

Aside from the food, you get a stunning view of the harbour from 101/F while enjoying impeccable service. The dark decor and wooden panels that separate each table create an intimate dining experience. The staff was attentive and very knowledgeable about each dish, from the source of ingredients to cooking techniques. Portioning and timing were perfect. The dishes arrived at an appropriate speed and I didn't feel rushed or that they took too long. After the dessert courses I was perfectly satiated.

Note that the menu changes every few months, so some items pictured above may not be available. My visit was on October 3.

Address: 101/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Phone: 2302-0222
Hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-930pm, Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-930pm

November 5, 2014

Hong Kong - Liu Yuan Pavilion

It’s hairy crab season again, and Liu Yuan might just be the best place to get your crab fix. Yuls, V and I had a craving for hairy crab but we didn’t want to trek all the way to Tsim Sha Tsui for Tin Heung Lau. We were also tired from work and didn’t want to spend time and effort dissecting the actual crabs. V suggested Liu Yuan Pavilion because they offer a large variety of hairy crab dishes apart from steamed whole crabs.

Steamed Hairy Crab Cream Dumpling 蟹粉小籠包: The dumpling came in its own bamboo steamer, which was a nice touch. It was stuffed full with fragrant crab cream, a mixture of roe and meat. The skin could've been slightly thinner though.

Hairy Crab Roe with Bean Jelly 蟹膏粉皮: I have been waiting a year to have this! Last year I had the crab cream with bean jelly 蟹粉粉皮, but it was nothing compared to this. Just look at that obscene amount of artery-clogging crab roe on top of the bean jelly. Sooo sinfully delicious. No crab meat in this, just pure unaltered crab roe in all its glory. I added a splash of vinegar to cut down on the richness.

Stir-fried Hairy Crab Legs 抄蟹腳: The crab roe dish came with a side of hairy crab leg meat. All the legs were de-shelled perfectly and plucked free of that horrible translucent “bone”. The crab legs were plump and sweet, contrasting well with the crunchy vegetables and ginger vinegar. I love how the most laborious part of having hairy crabs has been done for me.

Braised Noodles with Hairy Crab Cream 蟹粉拌麵: Lo mien at its finest. Crab cream again, this time over a bed of drained Shanghainese noodles. This was just an excuse to gorge ourselves on more hairy crab. The orange bits are the roe of the female crabs, which are hard and generally less desirable than male crab roe.

Shredded Chicken and Bean Jelly in Spicy Sesame Sauce 棒棒雞: Our only non-crab dish. This is a hard dish to get wrong. The shredded chicken was tender, and the bean jelly was cooked just right, not sticky or starchy. The peanut sauce had the right consistency and balance between sweet and savoury. My only complaint is that it wasn’t spicy enough.

Verdict: It’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it for a scrumptious hassle-free hairy crab experience. Hurry and pre-order the crab roe bean jelly before the season ends! Also, service is friendly and helpful. We changed our booking a few times but they were very accommodating. I will be back to try their dim sum next time.

I recommend: Hairy Crab Roe with Bean Jelly 蟹膏粉皮, Stir-fried Hairy Crab Legs 抄蟹腳

Liu Yuan Pavilion 留園雅敘
Address: 3/F, The Broadway, 54-62 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong KongPhone: 2804-2000
Hours: Mon-Sun 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm