Bonkers for Bivalves – Oyster Station (this branch is now closed)

Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco

I really love Oyster Station, and although many oyster lovers know it well, there are many who are oblivious to it’s location. It’s a tiny little hole in the wall on Bridges Street, just past Oolaa. With about 8 bar seats and perhaps 10 to 12 table seats, the open kitchen takes up much of the establishment.

It’s become a staple favorite of a French girlfriend and myself for a quiet tête-à-tête over a light meal. The first time we ventured in was because Yardbird was full and we didn’t want to wait the 45 minutes for a table. Next door we had spotted this little gem – the restaurant was full, so Manager Jesse sat us on a small, rickety table for two on the roadside pavement. There we were, with a gold-coloured bottle of prosecco and a dozen oysters, feasting like queens – it was such an unlikely situation and yet so typical of Hong Kong, where every now and then you discover amazing food and incredible ambiance in the least likely of places. Continue reading

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Seeing Stars: 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

I went to Otto e Mezzo Bombana for the 3rd time this month, the first was for a quick late dinner with PB. We strolled in at 9.45pm with no reservations, and the manager, Mr. A, kindly let us take a seat for the last order at 10.30pm. My mother then made a lunch booking in advance with no one in particular (seeing that reservations are increasingly difficult to get), anticipating that someone would go with her – that someone ended up (gladly) being me! Finally, we went again for Valentine’s Day lunch on Tuesday (with PB, not my mum). Each time was a well-rounded and tasty experience.

Otto e Mezzo opened in January 2010 and was awarded two Michelin stars within two months. Dare I say that this new rating was perhaps not 100% due to 8 1/2’s magnificence on the global Michelin stage, but also due to the relatively new presence of the Michelin Guide in Hong Kong. But The Guide can give, and The Guide can take – what is more notable is that 8 1/2 has not only kept it’s stars, but collected a third in December 2011, making it the only 3 star Italian restaurant outside of Italy. Continue reading

Valentine Aphrodisiacs

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those Hallmark Card-pushing, flower-needing, $2500 meal-eating kinda gals. I believe in love, and I also believe that Valentine’s Day is more of a treat for flower sellers and restaurants than it is for a couple.

In fact, Valentine’s Day has the potential to be a recipe for disaster. On the way home yesterday, I drove past a couple who were pacing on the street, obviously distressed and arguing. She didn’t have any flowers in her hands. I then happened to walk past the same spot 30 minutes later … they were still there, and he was saying in a pleading voice, “can we please just go and eat somewhere??”. Obviously, he had not made dinner plans either. That guy was in BIG trouble.

Should love be celebrated specially on one day? Sure, why not? A romantic (or someone who has forgotten to buy flowers) would say that love should be celebrated every day, and so it should – but why not have a day when you REALLY celebrate it WELL. Forget the cards, the flowers, the expensive Valentine’s Day set dinners where you sit elbow to elbow with other couples doing the couples thing – why not do nice things for each other all day just to show them that you care!

I was completely spoiled, and came home on Monday night to a beautiful bouquet of flowers that he chose personally! Naturally, my romantic gesture involved food. I made an aphrodisiac inspired dinner for my Valentine, chocabloc full of ingredients that make you go mmmmm…

Puree of Cauliflower Soup with saffron-buttered tiger prawn, leeks and caviar

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
salt and white pepper, to season
1 leek, green section removed, and sliced (1cm slices)
2 tiger prawns, washed, peeled and de-veined
a pinch of saffron
a small knob of butter
2 tsp lumpfish caviar
Chives

♥ Heat the olive oil in a pot and add the onion and garlic
♥ Cook over low heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Do not brown them.
♥ Add the cauliflower florets, chicken stock, cream and milk
 Bring to the boil then simmer over low heat until the cauliflower softens, about 18 minutes
 Remove from heat, blend the cauliflower mixture into a soup and return to pan.
 Season with salt and white pepper.
♥ For the leek, add a small knob of butter to the pan, add the leek and cook over low to medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
 For the prawn,  heat the butter and saffron in a pan. Pan-fry the prawn over low to medium heat until it is just cooked.
 To assemble the dish, place a couple of tablespoons of leek in the bottom of the bowl, pour over the soup.  Place the tiger prawn in the center and place a teaspoon of caviar on top of the prawn (not present in the picture because I forgot to add it until halfway through eating the soup! D’oh!). Sprinkle chives and serve 🙂

Pan-fried Rib-eye Steak with asparagus and truffled♥ mashed potatoes

Chocolate-smothered Strawberries

For the strawberries, just heat the chocolate (I used 70% for a bitter-sweet flavour) in a bain-marie until completely melted. Let cool for a bit then dip the strawberries until coated, rest them on baking parchment paper on a tray, and cool completely in the fridge before feeding each other 😉

In the words of Marvin Gaye – let’s get it on!

Seeing Stars: Tasty buns and tonic medlar @ Tim Ho Wan

To dim sum, or not to dim sum? If it is 1pm on a Saturday or Sunday and you have just woken up with a mean hangover and only a vague recollection of what time you got home the night before – then this question is moot. If there is a reaaally good dim sum restaurant in the vicinity, then the need or desire for a chippy, kebab shop, greasy spoon or hot dog stand simply ceases to exist. Dim sum is not only the perfect hangover cure, it is a great meal to share with family and friends: you can order slowly and gradually to savour the food as well as the company, and try a bit of everything. It’s a perfectly balanced meal (a bit of fried stuff + a bit steamed stuff + a plate of green stuff = a relatively guilt-free meal), AND you can drink copious amounts of tea! Have a cup of long jing(Dragon Well) tea  HT recommended it once as the best hangover tea and I have never looked back.

I digress. Dim sum in and of itself really deserves its own post. My point is that dim sum has always been a brunch or lunch time affair for me. When I ended my detox early, my friend JY was very excited. He had been raving about Tim Ho Wan(添好運點心專門店)- translated literally as ‘Add Good Luck’. It is Hong Kong’s cheapest 1 star Michelin restaurant – in fact, it’s most probably the cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. THE WORLD! “Let’s go TONIGHT!!!”, he says, in a pitch several octaves higher than his normal voice. Continue reading