HateBites – Loong Toh Yuen @ Hullett House

One sunny weekend, we decided that we fancied some dim sum and that we would check out Loong Toh Yuen at Hullett House. It had already been a weekend of Hong Kong adventure, such as us lazy HK Islanders call it.  We had already once travelled over to the dark side that weekend in search of what my Korean girlfriend calls “the top place for Koreans to eat Korean BBQ in Hong Kong”. After a short MTR journey to Tsim Sha Tsui (easy enough) we proceeded to get lost on the streets of Kowloon, finally finding Won Pungwon after half an hour of walking around, only to get ordered around and given death stares by our halmeoni server. The reviews on Openrice are quite hilarious – I also had a similar experience with the service, although the food was pretty awesome.

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Loong Toh Yuen has a main dining room and a couple of separate side dining rooms, set around a beautiful courtyard

Hoping for an enjoyable Sunday dim sum experience, we sailed over on the Star Ferry and then walked to the beautiful heritage building that is Hullett House. Having heard wonderful things about St. George at the same location (although now Chef Philippe Orrico has moved on to open Upper Modern Bistro), I suppose it was wishful thinking that Loong Toh Yuen would be of a similar standard – how painfully wrong we were.

Literally – painfully … we left with a bit of a stomach ache. I don’t post too many hatebites and yet sometimes it is a social necessity. Yes, it is all you can eat dim sum, so you understand if the standard is not as high as other places. But when only three of the dishes are of a passable standard, there is something wrong.

Loong Toh Yuen

Clockwise from top left: Char Siu Rice Flour Rolls, Pan Fried Rice Flour Rolls, Baked Turnip Puff, Baked BBQ Pork Puff, Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Flour Dumpling with Pork and Dried Shrimp, Salmon Spring Rolls, Steamed BBQ Pork Bun, Shrimp Dumpling Flavoured w/ Rose Champagne, E Fu Noodles with Mushroom and Chive.

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Desserts – the lau sa bao are the best option in this restaurant

The only decent things on the menu were the steamed varieties, I imagine because they are the only things that have to be made freshly – the char siu rice flour rolls (cheung fun), the baked BBQ pork bun (char siu bao) were alright, and in the dessert section the custard steamed buns were the best thing on the menu. Literally translating to “flowing filling bun”, this bun spilled beautifully yellow, cholesterol-laden custardy goodness when pulled apart. Unfortunately, a lunch of only custard filled buns does not a balanced meal make.

All of the fried options tasted like they had been re-fried before serving. Biting into them, you are treated to the taste of oil before anything else. The e-fu noodles were a joke – they had been pre-prepared in bowls and so stuck together in one huge lump, and was completely devoid of chives or mushrooms.

This is all very unfortunate, as Hullett House is such a beautiful venue that attracts a large number of tourists. It would be a shame if someone who only had dim sum once in Hong Kong took away an oily, greasy memory when Hong Kong has such a plethora of amazing dim sum options.

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8 Neat Tips for Making the Perfect Burger and Fries at Home

We have a couple of friends who are always inviting us to splendid dinner parties at their place – amazing wines, complicated cuisine (think sous vide, foams, emulsions etc.), and so on. Naturally, we wanted to return the hospitality, but as you can imagine it was a bit daunting! So we decided that if we weren’t going to go all Heston in the kitchen, we would go back to basics – burgers and fries. Who doesn’t love a good burger? And if we were going to go down this road, then PB and I were going to make the best bloody burger that we could possibly make at home (without a barbecue)!

We set about doing research on meat cuts, fat to lean meat ratios, the American burger vs. the Aussie burger and all that jazz, plus we consulted our Belgian friend PYB on his tips for the perfect fries. After a couple of trials, we believe that we’ve pretty much got it down. All of these tips are compiled from several foodie websites, online recipes and youtube videos – to save you readers the trouble, here the all the best tips for you in one easy list!

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It’s not the best photo, but I will post another once I make my next burger 🙂

Tips for the perfect burger at home:

1. Different people advocate different cuts of beef for the perfect burger, but they generally advocate beef chuck, and that it should be 80% lean and 20% fat. I use Australian grass-fed rib eye, which is the next cut along from chuck, and yields a great taste result.

2. Do not buy pre-minced meat! First of all, you don’t know what’s in it, and secondly, once meat has been minced it has more surface area to attract more bacteria. 180g of beef mince per person will do – ask the butcher to grind it in front of you on the day that you make your burgers. We buy rib eye steaks from Pacific Gourmet and they will grind it for you.

3. When shaping the patties, try to handle the meat as little as possible. Shape it loosely and don’t pack it too much, as this results in stodgy patties.

4. Meat usually should be cooked at room temperature, but burger patties should be as cold as possible. After shaping them, put them back in the fridge to cool again completely. This ensures that the fat melts evenly when they are cooking.

5. Before cooking your patties, use your thumb to create an indent in the centre of the patty – this will stop the patty from shrinking into a ball, and keep it flat when cooking.

7. Only season your patties right before cooking. Seasoning too early with salt will draw all the moisture out.

6. Use a brush or pour some oil on a wad of kitchen towel to oil the frying pan so it is evenly covered. When the patties are cooking, resist the temptation to keep flipping them and pushing down on them. Cook on one side for 3 minutes and then flip for a further 3 minutes, for medium rare. Rest the patties (covered loosely in foil on a plate) for a few minutes before serving so all the juices don’t go into the bun and make it soggy.

7. If you are making cheeseburgers, once you have flipped the patties once, add the cheese and cover the pan so that the cheese is melted when served. We used a French cheese (Cantal, but Compte or Tomme de Savoie would be fabulous too I reckon).

8. Whilst cooking the burgers, heat another pan (preferably a griddle pan to create some nice char lines) and toast your buttered burger buns – there’s nothing worse than soft buns!

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4 loosely shaped patties, 100% Australian rib eye

Tips for the perfect fries at home:

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Griddle Pan Harissa Chicken – A Must Try Recipe

We cook a lot at home obviously, and I love a beautifully stocked kitchen. I am the sort of person that could get lost in the home-ware black hole of department stores, for hours. Our drawers are full of useful (and some not so useful) kitchen gadgets, and there is hardly any room on our kitchen counter for all the toys that we have purchased over the years. Hello, my name is Jenny, and I am a kitchenware addict.

Pots and pans are something that I can be obsessive about without guilt, however! More and more I am hearing of the dangers of using old non-stick cookware that has been heated one to many times, and perhaps some of that non-stick layer has chipped off because I used a metal spatula in a rush one day. So I have been slowly replacing all those cheap pans that I used to buy with good quality Le Creuset cookware. I’m increasingly loving cast iron because it heats evenly, and it’s easy to transfer from stovetop to oven. Ok and fine, yes, IT’S SO PRETTY!

CreusetI bought a 32cm rectangular grill the other day in Caribbean Blue, and I am in love! Since then I have been searching for griddle pan recipes to try out, and I was inspired by a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good. The recipe calls for harissa, and I had a untouched jar of homemade harissa that I bought at a market when I was in South Africa earlier this year. If I may so myself, this is one of the best recipes I have made recently, you must try it! It’s simple and requires few ingredients (read – easy and inexpensive to make).

If you don’t have a cast-iron griddle pan, Le Creuset HK is doing a promotion for them (and other cast iron goodies) for the month of August.

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Griddle Pan Harissa Chicken

You’ll Need:

1 x 1.5kg whole chicken, spatchcocked
2-4 tbsp harissa (depending on how hot you like it!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt, and freshly ground pepper

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