Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Solitary Lunches

when I'm all alone, down and lonely.... oh heck I sound like a bloody crappy song!

I like being alone. Sometimes. I don't need to ask anyone where they want to eat. I don't need to defend my weird food choices.

So on rebellious days I eat lunch alone. When lunch at home is comprised of leftovers. When I feel like spending a bit on myself. When I want to try a resto and can't wait for company.

In Soho, weekday lunches are great value for money. You eat 2-3 courses for less than HKD 100. If you're lucky, less than HKD 60.

I tried V-best tea house one day. It's not easy to find. A small, quiet eatery on the "other" side of Elgin street, it boasts of a long tea menu. I am a tea drinker myslef, but that time I didn't bother reading the menu because I was famished. I sipped the house tea delicately enough, but wolfed down the Shanghai style dumplings with lettuce and broth. I like Shanghai-style dumplings because I enjoy biting into the slightly chewy but slippery outer dough encasing a mixture of pork, pork fat and cabbage. I like dipping the things into Chinese vinegar garnished with strips of ginger. After the dumpling I ate a bit of lettuce then drank the hot, tasty broth that warmed my insides like only Chinese-style clear soups can.

At Bistro Manchu, which serves Manchrian food, obviously, I was only able to try the set lunch composed of a spicy salad (mostly greens from the allium family which I do not like but I fished out and finished off the roasted peanuts) and, not surprisingly, dumplings in broth. I don't know if Manchurian and Shanghainese dumplings are supposed to be the same, but they tasted exactly alike. Hmmm, not exactly. V-best had better texture while Bistro M's was more flavorful.

Next time I want to try V-Best's smoked duck breast with rice or broth and Bistro M's Manchurian specialties.

I'm quite easy to please. I love Crystal Jade's (a Shanghainese franchise) dumplings and la mian noodles.

Yesterday I sat down, after hitting my head on an incongrously placed stepladder, on Life Cafe's al fresco top deck. I had a lavander iced tea with lime and what I assume to be organic, raw sugar syrup. Not bad, but there was a bitter tea aftertaste and the lime was too pronounced.

Their pumpkin tart platter was quite the artwork. On one side sat the salad composed of various shades of green, tossed with shredded orange carrots, deep red beets and white alfalfa sprouts and served with a lemon-herb house dressing that was pucker-up delightful. On the other, a burnt orange triangle posed with bits of dark green broccoli peeping out, topped with diced red, green and yellow capsicums, with melted cheese oozing from the middle. The medley of colors and vegetables was proudly held up by a honey-hued whole wheat crust. I like that the pumpkin and broccoli were in big chunks and not overbaked. The crust was a bit on the sweetish side. It was a filling, healthy meal but hubby would never eat there. Lentil burgers? He'd rather have the real thing. Or McDonald's. But i'd like to try that soon. it comes with caramelized onions and roasted potatoes on a whole wheat bun.

Before I left I bought a piece of "healthy, fat-free" brownie with whole wheat flour, organic chocolate, raw sugar, a lot of zucchini and banana. Hubby was not in the best of moods after one bite of the monstrosity. I enjoyed every bite and saved half for my dessert today. It actually doesn't taste much like brownies, but I like the sweetness and the chunks of everything in between. All in all, a pleasant lunch at a pleasant place. Not cheap, though. But then, healthy and organic never is.

I will take a real fudge brownie anytime, though. The fat-free stuff is okay, but not for everyday. Good gracious, I live to eat!

Caprice and the loser blog

Yahoo! Got to eat at the premier French resto of the Four Seasons HK - Caprice, recently.

Ordered high-falutin' dishes. Will do the links once I figure out how to work Blogger on Mac.

Like langoustine (Dublin Bay prawns or small lobsters) ravioli with sweetbreads.
Lobster carpaccio with yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit) foam and caviar served with crispbread. Decadent.
Warm foie gras with something something... can't remember dang it!
Chicken consomme with foie gras dumpling. Rich-tasting soup of a chicken.

The chef also gave, before the appetizers and soup came, tiny servings of appetite-inducing foamy and silky stuff. Can't remember too! Was deep in conversation the entire time and I didn't bring my cam or a ballpen or my notepad. So there. What a loser blog.

Ordered a glass of red wine. Was asked by sommelier to taste it for approval. Swirled the stuff, sniffed, inhaled, sipped, twirled on tongue then swallowed. Heck, I'm not a wine connosieur but it felt good to practice whet I learned in beverage management class. although i might have overdone it a bit. Good thing he wasn't snooty. I gotta start taking a wine appreciation class.

all of us ordered the wagyu. I should've had the scallop and rosemary appetizer, then the pigeon with Jerusalem artichokes and endive. anyhow, the beef was seared perfectly on all sides, leaving a clean cube of pinkish meat in the middle. I like my steak and I like them marbly and soft, but wagyu is waaaaay too fatty-tasting for me. after several bites I was hankering for seafood or fowl. next time I'll have myself a rib-eye or prime rib. No matter, the men liked their meat. And I'm probably the only steak eater in the world who complains of wagyu.

Dessert was nothing to go into raptures about. Even the plating was average. Not a very inspiring dinner, except for the appetizers which were different, sinful and exceptionally sensual on the taste buds. As always, the company was the highlight of the evening.

Where to for my next gourmet dinner?

While in Manila, and the aftermath


- to have tried Dencio's Bangus Sisig. it was spicy, the fish had crisp edges, and although a bit too oily the seasoning was just right. i've tried it here in HK using bangus belly, with chopped garlic, onions, long finger chilies, Knorr seasoning, a dash of chipotle pepper sauce, lots of calamansi juice, some salt and pepper and olive oil. served it on a hot plate too for that "Dencio's" feel.

- that i got to bring home Blue kitchen's Crab Fat Paste and Gourmet Tuyo and Pampanga's Best fatless tocino.

- about my Antonio Pueo Tablea tsokolate into which i dunk my buttered hot bread roll. comfort food!

- that Pam remembered my obsession with LZM bangus and brought back lots from Manila to share with me.

- because i got to spend time with my family and hubby's family. we ate together at CYMA Greek Cafe in Shangri-La Mall and everything we ordered was delicious, although i was down with a stomach bug so i just ate a forkful of everything.

- that we travelled to Tagaytay to eat at Sonya's Garden. it's a quaint and refreshing place with relaxing cabanas scattered throughout, and i liked their salad dressing, olive tapenade, marinated anchovies, KESONG PUTI!, pomodoro sauce, crispy turon, soothing and fragrant tarragon tea, BUT (check out my sad post).

- with our anniversary dinner at Chateau 1771. nothing fancy, just good cooking, a tomato-cheese fondue, a fantastically fresh and creamy scallop appetizer, the best chorizo pasta i've ever had, soft music, candlelight and conversation with my hubby of 5 years.

- that my BORA trip with my best high school buddies sans one finally came true!!!!! ecstatic is the word. still on a high, in fact. the food isn't anything to blog about, (see sad post). the fresh buko i had while snorkeling though, that was the most fun i had eating and drinking in the Philippines! the light-colored, crispy dilis from Roxas City and fresh kakanins sold near the airport in Kalibo were memorable as well.

- to have eaten bangus belly adobo; tinapa noodles using pink, yellow and green noodles; Velocity (bagoong alamang with coconut milk and chili) with boiled eggplant, sigarillas, sitaw and okra; a famously tasty chicken relleno with the "can't-get-enough-of-it" giblet gravy; chicken igado and an equally famous and in-demand callos; yummy Caloy's lechon with the great-tasting crackly skin; tender baked ribs; sweetish longganisa from an old lady in Kamuning Market which i ate with fried egg and garlic rice; chicken ham; a bringhe/paella valenciana type of savoury dish with a crusted "tutong" top and sticky, "suman-like" consistency; one of the best pork bbq's ever grilled; a satisfying gambas pasta and four-cheese pizza; buko pie filled with thick slices of buko; JT's Manukan (a bit dry because we took it home and zapped it but the intrinsic flavor was all there); Cunanan's queso de bola-topped fluffy ensaymada.

- for myself and my 6 new cookbooks and 5 back issues of FOOD Magazine.


- for Bora's food. the famous Jonas Shakes was cold and fruity and wickedly large, but not earthshakingly good. the choriburger didn't fulfill my expectations either. i liked Bite Club's burgers though. funny how i stay near Katipunan but only got to taste these in Bora. too bad i didn't get to try Gastof's, Banza, True Food, Travesia, Real coffee (where they have to-die-for calamansi muffins).

- that i didn't get to eat my mom's Hot and Sour Soup, Fresh Chinese Lumpia and authentic lomi, as well as Fook Yuen's Pata Tim, Chili Crabs and Oyster Omelet, Nana Meng's tsokolate, Farah Ylagan's foie gras specialties, Ian Carandang's ice cream, MienSan's minced meat and mushroom noodle, and a host of other stuff i wanted to try from the food blogs dessertcomesfirst and Market Manila.

- that i almost, but did not get to, meet Lori of dessertcomesfirst. maybe next time.

- that i didn't get to eat at Antonios, Parallel 45, Kai, Gourdo's, Fleuer De Lys, the restos at Serendra and the Fort, Melo's, Galileo, Amici, Vieux Chalet in Antipolo which holds fond memories for hubby and me, and the Greek taverna on the way to Tagaytay.

- because we missed out on home accesories from Tiendesitas and looking around the artsy shops and art galleries at Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao (say that again?). for those who haven't been, yes, it is in Cubao.

- because i got irritable bowel symdrome that lasted Dec. 22-31, so i missed out on pigging out!

- for Sonya's Garden because they did not maintain their quality and cleanliness (except for the private huts). the washrooms were dark, stank and had no running water, the food was served cold --they should place them on warmers especially on cool, breezy -ber months, the pretty embroidered tablecloths and tissue box covers were stained and the seatcovers encrusted with dirt, and the servers seemed so harassed. palatable though the food was, and countrified the setting-- the food temperature and lack of order and cleanliness will turn out to be their downfall so hopefully Sonya the owner does something about it.

Looking forward to:

- more LZM bangus from Pam

- my panini press, thanks to Lori's post

- a yakiniku grill

- frozen buko pie

- FOOD Magazines