Lunch @ MO Bar

If you are looking for a smart and upscale place for lunch in Central without the (unreasonably) smart price tag, then MO Bar at the Landmark Mandarin Hotel is the place to go. I took my mother there for a pre-birthday lunch today, as she has been singing praises about their Hainan Chicken Rice for  ages (“the best in town!!!”, she says), and it’s only the best for my mother.

Tomato bread, and our usual hot water with lemon

I called in the morning and they were fully booked but they kindly said they would squeeze us in, and when we arrived we were shown to a very nice table. Our main waiter, in true Mandarin form, was gracious and informative. He was there when we needed him, and yet seemed to vanish when we didn’t. He expertly guided me through the menu, and demonstrated some remarkable NLP skills – so that even though I only planned to go for a starter and a main, I somehow managed to fold for a dessert and a glass of wine too.

They serve a nice sun-dried tomato bread, which was nice, soft and fresh, but nothing fabulous.

The venue is chic yet casual at the same time, and while the set lunch menu is more expensive than your average lunch in Central, it’s still not going to break the bank at $228 for 2 courses (including tea or coffee) – that extra bit is really worth it for the ambience and quality of ingredients they use.

Sweet corn, rocket and chorizo salad, and beef short rib cannelloni

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La Cabane a Vin – great French small plates and natural wines

After stuffing myself full of tacos for the past few weeks, I’m over South American food, and believe I’ve found my new go-to hangout for quick bites in Soho. Last Tuesday was the Grand Opening of La Cabane a Vin, a charming, rustic and well-situated bar/bistro on Hollywood Road.

Rustic you say, in the middle of Soho? Well, check it out…

The interior of La Cabane

The interior design, done by Elsa Jean de Dieu and Eunice Cheung from Effect, features exposed brick walls, wooden slats that resemble those used to make wine crates, swing chairs suspended from the ceiling, a small temperature-controlled cellar tucked away next to the bar, and all the small touches that make this place a really comfortable and unpretentious place to go for a drink and a (few) snack(s), a light dinner, or even a midnight snack.

Chilled Gazpacho – a rich tomato flavour, but a bit on the oily side for me $70

The local chefs, after some rigorous training, do a good job with the bistro dishes, and the rillettes and terrine are made in house.  The food is authentic, and everything is served in small plates so that one can choose to make a meal of it, or to just order a couple of dishes to accompany a bottle of wine. There are so many fake French bistros in Hong Kong (the worst of which has to be Brasserie de L’île), and it’s nice to see one that is doing it right! They are still tweaking the recipes a bit, and are tireless trying to source the freshesh and tastiest ingredients. La Cabane has tried to use organic produce from local HK farms as much as they can, but have mentioned that the quality is not always consistent; many of their ingredients are sourced from France.

You also have the opportunity to try all of their wines, it’s a huge selection, with some original names, and honestly priced. By that I mean well-priced, with bottles starting from the $200s.

“Les 3 Petits Farcis” – stuffed vegetables $90

MY FAVORITES: Beef Tartare – a wonderfully seasoned and prepared tartare, served with rustic French bread, and well worth the $110

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Dragon King Restaurant

When faced with the task of booking a dim sum restaurant for a group yum cha session on the weekends, Dragon King is always one of the first choices on my list of places to call. Trouble is, it is more often than not fully booked. And so as a preface to this blog post, if you like the look and sound of Dragon King, go ahead and call to make a booking now. It’s Friday, and you just might be able to get a table for this weekend.

Food quality aside, there are several simple logistical reasons why Dragon King is one of my favorites.

1. It’s conveniently located in the World Trade Center, and if you’re driving there’s always space to park. While Causeway Bay traffic might be a bit of a pain, I feel it’s worth it.

2. They have a huge selection of dim sum choices that appeal to both local and foreign tastes.

3. Their menu is very concise, even listing the number of pieces in each serving. When ordering for a large group of people, it’s very helpful.

4. Whilst I’ve read in other blogs that service is dire here, I have always found service to be very friendly and efficient.

5. Try to book a table by the window. It’s got a great view of the harbour and the yachts moored out front, great for if you are entertaining out of town guests.

Deep-fried bean cubes with sesame $38 – this is the dish they do best! ♥♥♥♥♥

Pan-fried rice rolls in XO Sesame $43 – while they could do with adding more XO sauce, the flavours are there, and they’re generous with the bean sprouts.

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Grassroots Pantry

If there was any restaurant that would encourage me to become vegetarian, it’s this one. Tucked away at the end of a small lane, among the maze of one way streets in Sai Ying Pun, is this unassuming gem that is Grassroots Pantry. Inside and out, it is decorated to look like a beautiful summertime garden – plants and pretty flowers are thoughtfully placed around the interior and on the tables, birds adorn the wallpaper, and everything is pretty, fresh, light and bright.

It’s run by Chef Peggy Chan, who is encouraging the slow food movement by offering healthy dishes jam-packed full of good things and made with seasonal and (whenever possible) local organic produce. For anyone who thought that to be vegetarian is to be limited and bored with food (like me), then you should come here and stand corrected.

The cutest handmade menus

Everything about this boutique cafe concept is as ‘green’ and socially responsible as can possibly be, from the individual (The menu changes according to seasonal produce so that everything that goes in your stomach is as fresh as possible) to the community (they hold workshops and cooking classes to educate the people), and even beyond (they are in partnership with Table for Two , and charity that provides meals to children in need).

And now to the food… Continue reading

The magic of Corsica

It’s September and summer is drawing to a close. Everyone has returned from their long holidays and are settling back into work and school, and you wonder how it is that the summer months have yet again passed so quickly! … Continue reading

Shanghai Part 3: Sunday Brunch and Afternoon Tea!

Sunday 1:30pm – Madison Restaurant

Originally, I had wanted to go to M on the Bund for Sunday brunch. I used to LOVE M at the Fringe, and was devastated when it closed, citing renovation works for the Fringe Club. Have you seen any renovating going on since then?? Because I haven’t…!

Childish complaints aside, JL said that this was one of the top spots for brunch in Shanghai, so we changed tack and went there instead. Madison Restaurant is described by City Weekend Shanghai as an “casual yet upscale American eatery” – I had to look that up because brunch is usually not a good indication of the main direction of a restaurant. Eggs, toast, bacon, bloody mary – that’s what we were looking for after a night on the town in Shanghai. Having also just finished reading Kitchen Confidential, I know that brunch is the bane of a chef’s existence, and never really allows for too much creative flair.

Madison changes it up a little bit with some hits, and some misses.


Baby tomato compote over crispy mozzarella ¥36

The sweet shallot and balsamic glaze on this dish was quite nice, and the tomatoes surprisingly tasty, however the mozzarella was a bit too firm, and not as lusciously goo-ey as you might hope for.

Home made pork sausage, arugula, mustard. ¥35

This home made sausage was a big hit! Tender, flavourful, not too fatty. It don’t look too pretty, but you might still want to order two. Continue reading