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Archive for January, 2014

Tapas A’Peel, Soho, Hong Kong

There seems to be a lot of tapas around Hong Kong – the in thing for 2013 perhaps? Tapas a’Peel can be found in the hidden tiny lane in the heart of Soho – took me a while to find this restaurant, it is actually on Peel Street, overlooking Pak Sze Lane Park. The restaurant is tiny – probably fit about 20 diners and a private room is also available. Décor is quite rustic and warm, it was quite dark at night, making it hard to take photos!

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We started the garlic loaf with rosemary and sea salt which was freshly baked and wonderfully warm. It was incredibly aromatic and came with extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic  which I love. Dragon really enjoyed this bread and could not stop eating it.

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I couldn’t go past the avocado, Italian vine tomato and campana buffalo mozzarella with lemon dressing. It was incredibly light and refreshing and delicious!

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The grilled pork skewers with tzatziki was ok – the pork was a little on the tough side but I do love tzatziki.

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The sautéed chorizo and olives in olive oil, chili and garlic were a little on the salty side – even for ‘The Mother’ and he loves salty food!

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The grilled beef tenderloin skewers which were marinated in garlic, ginger and soy sauce was infinitely more tender than the pork skewers.

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Unfortunately we weren’t blown away by the choices of desserts hence decided to save our stomach and our calories. Meal was ok, there are definitely better options for tapas I think. Service was definitely friendly and polite.

GA’s ratings: 6 / 10

Tapas A’Peel

G/F., 61-63 Hollywood Road,

Soho, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2545 5988

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Upper Modern Bistro, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

There’s been a lot of talk about Upper Modern Bistro and trying to make a reservation at this restaurant has been painful! It’s always fully booked which i guess is a good sign. I have missed my eating partner in crime, thesuzchef, so when she was in Hong Kong, I made sure I utilised her time and ‘dragged’ her to all the new restaurants in Hong Kong that I have been dying to try! I made reservations for lunch on a weekday and was extremely grateful that they had a table for us!  Philippe Orrico is the chef behind Upper Modern Bistro – he’s worked in restaurants such as Pierre at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong as well as St George at Hullett House in Hong Kong. Food I have to say was great and service was efficient.

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For lunch, diners had the option of a set lunch or a la carte. Both S and I opt for the set lunch – soup or salad with main and dessert. We started with some foccaccia which Dragon demolished – she was extremely hungry and this girl does not wait for food!

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S opt for the salad which I have to say was a little disappointing – we weren’t expecting something fancy but this was quite dull to say the least.

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I opt for the daily soup which was pumpkin soup – poured on the table.

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The pumpkin soup was a little watery for my liking – I really like my soup a little thicker. The flavours were right, just it lacked a little thickness.

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For mains, S opt for the mushroom tagliatelle, 63 degrees eggs, parmesan cheese sauce. It looked absolutely fantastic – perfect egg, and mixed together with pasta and parmesan cheese, it was excellent. At first, S thought it was a tiny serving but it was definitely filling.

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I was originally going to go for the steak but milk fed veal head caught my attention. Cooked with white beans, mustard and truffle – I couldn’t say no. The veal head was incredible tender, the collagen and fatty bits were divine. It was very comforting and perfect for winter. The white beans were a wonderful addition. Even Dragon had a few mouthfuls of the veal head.

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The lychee sorbet was refreshing light and the perfect way to end the meal. Mind you – I didn’t have much of it as Dragon took over and ate all of it by herself!

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We were tempted to order another dessert, the upper chocolate from memory, however, it contained nuts and the revised version sans nuts weren’t that exciting so we decided not too. I am definitely keen to come back for dinner, the a la carte menu sounds exciting and the desserts sounds great also.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Upper Modern Bistro

6-14 Upper Station Street

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2517 0977

Gaijin Restaurant, Helsinki, Finland

I absolutely love the power of social media. Whilst in Helsinki, I saw a post that Chef Dan Hong posted – char siu at one of his restaurant Mr Wong, and claimed how I was craving it. The next thing I knew, one of his friends recommended that I go to Gaijin, which is located on the corner of Bulevardi and Yrjonkatu. Opened by Tomi Bjorck and Matti Wikberg, Gaijin offers diners ‘unique flavours by combining traditional Japanese and Korea dishes with dishes from the North of China in a modern way’. I was excited and knew I HAD to go!

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We have been traveling in Europe for almost 2 weeks and I had not had Chinese food and was craving it badly! Every time we travel out of Asia we always crave for Chinese food, me in particular. Gaijin offers two sitting, one at 6pm and the other at 8.30pm. I was extremely grateful that I got a table at 6pm on a Friday night, the night before we flew out to go home.

I wanted one of everything on the menu, however, it was only Dragon and I eating that evening. ‘The Mother’ had some complications with his flight and couldn’t join us which was a shame as he missed out on a wonderful meal!

I started with the pork bun – pork belly, kimchi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and soft bread. The bread was indeed very soft and the pork belly was melt-in-your mouth tender. The pickled cucumber and kimchi mayonnaise a wonderful addition. I could potentially eat 2 or 3 of these babies on my own!

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The Beijing style chicken was similar to that of Peking duck. The crispy fried chicken which was braised in master stock was tender, even Dragon enjoyed it.

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I couldn’t go past the char siew pork and bok choy which came with pickled cucumber. It wasn’t your typical char siew – not the one I was used to in Hong Kong but this definitely satisfied the cravings and it was delicious. Yes – I am ashamed to say that I ATE IT ALL!

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Unfortunately I didn’t have time for dessert – had to go back to the hotel to pack my last minute things but I would have definitely ordered either the green tea and white xoco or beetroot geisha. Damn, really wished ‘The Mother’ was there so we could have ordered more food as it was good! Service was friendly and they were very helpful at the fact that I was dining with my 20 month old!

Definitely worth visiting if you are ever in Helsinki. Definitely a great find – thanks Chef Dan Hong and social media.

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

Gaijin Restaurant

Bulevardi 6

00120 Helsinki

Ph: +358 10 322 9381

Fofo by El Willy, Central, Hong Kong

Fofo by El Willy has been around since 2010 following the popularity and success of ‘el Willy’ restaurant in Shanghai. It’s been a while since my last visit, maybe 3 years ago? Fofo offers both traditional and contemporary Spanish tapas and rice. I was here with a friend for lunch, and opt for their lunch menu which consists of tapas (two choices) and mains (one choice) which includes tea or coffee for HKD218 – not cheap for lunch but it is good!

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V started with the foie gras mi-cuit with tomato chili jam which she enjoyed. She could have definitely used more bread.

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We both couldn’t go past the slow cooked egg, pumpkin cream and pancetta. OMG! This dish was a definite winner. I loved the combination of the yolk and pumpkin – it was creamy and oh so delicious. I wanted more!

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My second tapas were ‘coca de recapte’ catalan style flat bread with roast peppers and boquerones. After eating the slow cooked egg with pumpkin, this was disappointing. Had I eaten this first, I may have enjoyed it more. I do love roast peppers but that egg and pumpkin… oh my…

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V couldn’t go past the grilled squid with sauté vegetables and potato cream. The grilled squid were tender, and the potato creamy and a wonderful complement.

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I was craving steak – it definitely has been a while since I had beef and opt for the Argentinean beef sirloin with grilled vegetables and potatoes (additional HKD30). The beef was tender and cooked to perfection and the curly potato fries were excellent.

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We thought about dessert – perused the dessert menu a couple of times but were just too full. Will definitely have to come back for dinner and try their other dishes. It was definitely an enjoyable meal, I am dreaming yet again about the slow cooked egg and pumpkin cream… delicious!

Ga’s ratings: 8 / 10

Fofo by El Willy

20/F M88 2-8 Wellington Street

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2900 2009

Juttutupa, Helsinki, Finland

Juttutupa is a laid back restaurant which can be found behind Scandic Paasi Hotel which we stayed on the 2nd leg of our trip in Helsinki. It was quite a funky hotel but a bit out of the city centre. We ate here on our second last night in Helsinki, and Juttutupa serves good hearty food, a wide range of beers and other drinks.

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There is no table service, you pay at the bar, and then food will be delivered to your table. ‘The Mother’ couldn’t go past the Juttutupa’s classic hamburger served with domestic quality beef (18,90€) – 200g beef patty of domestic quality beef, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, salt-pickled cucumber, chili mayonnaise, marinated red onion between house bun. Not to mention also served with French fries. It was quite a big burger, and it looked absolutely sensational and yes it did taste as good as it looked!

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I couldn’t go past the grandma’s meatballs (16,90€) – creamy brandy sauce, beetroot, salt-pickled cucumber, mashed potatoes. I was craving beef, and the meatballs were surprisingly tender. The sauce I wasn’t a fan off but the mashed potatoes were creamy and I loved the salt-pickled cucumber.

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They even had a kids menu and Dragon had the chicken breast with salad. Unfortunately, it was uber dry and Dragon did not eat much of it. She ate more of my meatballs and ‘The Mother’s’ chips than her own dish!

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We were stuffed so did not have any dessert. Service was minimal but food came relatively quickly and we all did enjoy the meal. Definitely great having this restaurant behind the hotel, there aren’t a lot of restaurants near the hotel which is a shame.

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Juttutupa

Säästöpankinranta 6, 00530 Helsinki

Ph: +358 20 7424 240

Heichinrou, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

I have been to this restaurant a couple of times now, once for dim sum and another for dinner. I have to say, both times, food was really good. Heichinrou can be found in Times Square in Causeway Bay on the 11th Floor. Can you believe that I don’t go to dim sum very often in Hong Kong? Maybe once every quarter, not even that! I used to go once a month in Sydney but got very sick of it very quickly. Having dim sum with just ‘The Mother’ sometimes is hard, as you can’t eat as much… well he can’t anyways.

We started with some soy chicken which believe it or not, was eaten by Dragon herself! My friend, M, only had like 2 pieces – Sorry! It was deliciously tender and the skin silky smooth!

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I absolutely love yu tau wrapped in Cheung fun.

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The hundred thousand year old egg was also delicious – a favourite of mine.

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Chicken feet which was delicious.

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M ordered the shrimp dumpling – it was huge and she absolutely enjoyed it.

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Dragon was still hungry and insisted that we order more chicken wings (she was doing the chicken wings movement!) We ordered these wings which were slightly sweet.

For dessert, I couldn’t go past the custard with yolk – OH MY! This was deliciously sinful – love the oozy egg yolk! NICE!

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For dinner, there were 3.5 of us – two of my high school friends and Dragon of course! She wouldn’t want to miss out on char siu and soy chicken! We started with char siu and this was good. Had the right amount of fat and meat ratio. Yum!

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Dinner with M is never complete if there are no vegetables – beans with minced pork – one of my favourites, but a tad on the oily side.

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Soy chicken – this was as good as lunch!

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M and S wanted the claypot rice which came with blood sausage, Chinese sausage, some pig trotters and chicken. I love blood and Chinese sausage which were delicious.

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Service I thought was good and efficient. Will definitely go back to try their other dishes!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Heichinrou

Shop 1102, 11/F, Food Forum

Times Square, 1 Matheson Street

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2506 2333

Cafe Ekberg, Helsinki, Finland

Café Ekberg has been around since 1852. They serve buffet breakfasts and daily lunch specials, however, we were here for a quick stop during our shopping expedition as Dragon was asleep and I needed to sit down (she was sleeping on the hip seat and I have been walking with her ‘attached’ to me like a koala for at least 4 hours!)

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Café Ekberg is a very popular café and not only does it serve breakfast and lunch, it also serves great pastries and cakes. It is famous for the napoleon which we ordered and I have to say, I can understand why. Pastry flaky and the cream filling were not super rich. Perfect with a cup of tea!

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I also couldn’t go past the ginger bread – it wasn’t too sweet and didn’t have a strong ginger taste which Dragon also loved!

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Service was friendly and polite. The place was busy no matter what time it was but the pastries are definitely worth going for.

Next door to the café is a patisserie in which you can buy more cakes and bread to take home. We bought a couple of bread for Dragon to eat and no doubt she demolished them!

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On the first few nights we were in Helsinki, Dragon and I were still very jet lag. ‘The Mother’ has been in Europe a week earlier so he was ok and has adjusted. Unfortunately for him, Dragon and I ended up sleeping rather early, mid-afternoon early, 4.30pm on the first day and then 5.30pm on the second day. He was so looking forward to going out for dinner with us, however, we were so tired that an earth quake couldn’t wake us up!

On one of the nights, he went to get Hesburger – Finland’s version of McDonalds – he bought me a chicken burger and chicken nuggets for Dragon. I have to say, it was pretty decent and I preferred this over Mc Donalds.

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Jet lag is never fun, she got up at 2am the first day we were there. It took her about 4 – 5 days to go back to normal. Rule of thumb I hear, one day for each hour, which is about right.

So unfortunately we didn’t go out for dinner very often in Helsinki as we ate a lot of Pizza, and left over pasta! HA!

GA’s rating Café Ekberg: 7.5 / 10

Address: Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki

Tel: +358 9 6811 860