Locofama – tasty organic bites

Jumping on the organic bandwagon is Locofama, a relatively new organic restaurant that opened last year opposite Grassroots Pantry in 2013, creating a lovely healthy cul-de-sac in the laid-back Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood.

After a couple of nights of drinking and eating rather unhealthily, Locofama was just perfect to put me back on the straight and narrow. It’s a small, unpretentious and down-to-earth restaurant that is great for a quiet dinner with friends, or a relaxing and healthy weekend brunch. Order a vitamin-enriched fresh juice – I had the ABC Immune Booster with apple, beetroot and carrot. Or if drinking green is your thing, the Kale Detoxifier is mixed with apple, carrot, celery, ginger and parsley to make it taste and look slightly less grass-like.

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Here, the all of the food is just as they advertise it, “healthy, affordable, and delicious”.  The menu is packed with great tasting options, most of which are so tempting that you’ll want to order a bunch of stuff and share it all. The girls and I were in the mood for a light meal, and so we didn’t order the 48 Hours Short Rib that was recommended by the waiter, but it’s on the list for my next visit.  We really enjoyed everything we ordered, especially the Scallop & Quinoa Ceviche, and Spicy Spinach Quesadilla.

If you want to take a little bit of Locofama home with you, the Locofama Market Place next door sells all sorts of organic goodies, great for stocking up the healthy section of your pantry.

The menu does a good job of listing everything that is involved in the making of each dish, so you don’t get any surprises, and for those who are relatively new to eating healthy, it helps you to identify some of the items you may not recognise (chia seeds, nutritional yeast).

 

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Diver Scallops, mixed quinoa, shallots, garlic, lime, cilantro, Anaheim chili pepper, corn tortilla chips HK$118

Spinach, Mozzarella, Anaheim chili pepper, garlic sesame cream, flour tortilla HK$88

Spinach, mozzarella, Anaheim chili pepper, garlic sesame cream, flour tortilla HK$88

Black Truffle Crab Dip: wild caught crab, black truffle, garlic cream, crostini HK$128

Black Truffle Crab Dip: wild caught crab, black truffle, garlic cream, crostini HK$128

Superfood Duo salad: Tricolour quinoa, chia seeds, arugula, avocado, shallot, sundried tomato, basil, chive oil, cucumber, feta, lemon, cherry tomatoes HK$118

Superfood Duo salad: Tricolour quinoa, chia seeds, arugula, avocado, shallot, sundried tomato, basil, chive oil, cucumber, feta, lemon, cherry tomatoes HK$118

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Upper Modern Bistro

Having effectively been out of Hong Kong for the last month and a half, I feel like I’ve come back and ten different new restaurants have opened. Not only are they new, but they are impressive restaurants that have been causing a buzz and sending my Facebook news feed into a visual frenzy of food photography.

We were out for a nice dinner with our friends, the elegantly gorgeous KW and her ever-amusing beau BB – with company such as theirs, a meal is always off to a good start!  Fish & Meat was fully booked, and we were lucky that Upper Modern Bistro has just had a cancellation.

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The whimsical ceiling feature @ Upper Modern Bistro

Mirrors and a full glass panel façade makes the restaurant feel very roomy, whilst the soft colour scheme makes the space comfortable and welcoming.  Your eyes are immediately drawn to the fabulous ceiling feature, the design apparently is attributed to chef Philippe Orrico’s love of eggs. The kitchen is set slightly higher than the dining room, and is visible from the street so that you are greeted by the sight of chefs busying away.

At the time of our visit, it felt like the façade was not yet completed, and I had to squint and search to confirm that this was indeed Upper Modern Bistro.  But once I entered the restaurant, I was truly excited to start my meal. Our friends had been raving about how amazing the food was at St. George, the restaurant where Orrico was head chef previously to opening his own place. I had never had the chance to go, and anticipated a great meal at Upper Modern Bistro.

There’s a snack menu, a tasting menu, and the main a la carte menu to choose from. As enticing as the snack menu looked, we decided to go straight to choosing our main meal. With the 4 of us dining, I have lots of lovely food pics for you here!

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Oyster w/ Ponzu Sauce @ HK$ 58 each

I started off with 2 Brittany oysters, they were crisp and not too big with a fabulous ponzu sauce.

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Steak Tartare HK$ 168

As my first choice of moules marinière was sold out, I went for a bistro staple – the steak tartare.  It was unconventional, served on a base of avocado, mixed with pecans instead of capers, and topped with a parmesan cheese foam. If you are a tartare traditionalist, you will be disappointed, as it hasn’t the tartness or the heavier flavours of a traditional tartare. This one is light, with no discerning meaty taste as the favours of the avocado and parmesan overpowered it a bit. Still, the flavours went well together, and I enjoyed the lightness of it.

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63° egg, sauteed crab meat and Bellota ham HK$ 148

63° eggs are one of UMB’s signature components, and Chef Orrico uses them in his main dish of Mushroom Tagliatelle also.

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A bird’s eye view

KW’s starter of Chestnut Soup (no photo!) was dreamy, a rich, sweet cream of chestnut with complimentary shavings of white Alba truffle. Delicious. In fact, if you like creamy soups as I do, I would say that soup is definitely one of Upper Modern Bistro’s strong points!

For the main courses, BB ordered a delectable Quail and Foie Gras Pie. It is limited on the menu and yet it was still available for us to order. I suppose it may sound too heavy and rich for many, but I liked its traditionalism.  One bite brought me back to a meal that I had at Au Petit Riche, an old-school Parisian restaurant, where traditional recipes such as meat pies and tête de veau are predominant on the menu.  And hey, it comes with a salad!  With truffles shavings again, no less.

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Quail and Foie Gras Pie with Lentil Sauce, HK$ 328

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Accompanying salad with truffles!

My main course was the most mainstream of them all, but just as well executed. The pasta was wonderfully fresh and cooked perfectly al dente, and the 63° egg oozed its bright yellow yolk to create a smooth, creamy sauce.

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Mushroom Tagliatelle, 63° egg, cheese sauce and parma ham HK$ 168

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Oozing egg…

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Sole a la meuniere, butternut sauce and sauteed mushrooms HK$ 248

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La Rotisserie comes to Wan Chai!

I had heard stories about La Rotisserie in Sheung Wan, when it first opened.

“The line goes around the block!”

“Whenever I go they are always sold out 😦 “

“Their chocolate cake is like crack – seriously addictive.”

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I wasn’t about to go all the way to Sheung Wan from my office in Wan Chai, only to be disappointed and cheated out of my chicken. So imagine my glee and excitement when I found out that La Rotisserie has opened in Wan Chai, and that at long last, I finally had the opportunity to try it! For the first few days of opening, they were having a promotion of HK$50 (instead of $68) for a lunch set – 1/4 chicken, a portion of sides, and house-made iced lemon tea or soup of the day (cauliflower and coconut milk = yum) – well, that’s over now folks, sorry! But really, the regular price of HK$68 is very affordable, and what you get for it is worth ever dollar.

I have very fond smell-memories of walking down the street in Paris and seeing a huge oven cabinet full of crispy brown-skinned chickens spinning slowly on a spit, around and around and around they went. I could smell them from all the way down the street, far sooner than before I actually saw them. La Rotisserie has brought this beautiful method of chook-cooking to Hong Kong. The do it simply, efficiently, and effectively. The focus is on the ingredients, corn-fed free range chicken from France. They even go so far as to advertise the French producer, Picalou, on their menu (although try to find anything about them online and you’ll be at a loss). Their chocolate and their cream is also imported from France, and these ingredients go into that wicked chocolate cake (laced with sel de guerande) and their quiches.

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There are a few stools to sit on in-house, but really these chooks are meant to be taken away – a smart response to rising shop rents in HK, and the need for good food, fast. And since these meals are meant to be taken away, attractive packaging was also well thought out!

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The chicken is succulent, juicy and so very tasty. Make sure you specify (when you are ordering) whether you would like breast or thigh meat. I’m a thigh girl, and whilst this free-range chicken leg didn’t have as much meat on it as I would have liked, I was comforted in the fact that this chicken was happy, and therefore healthy.

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The herby potatoes, cooked underneath the spit in chicken juices and fat, and seasoned with herbs, were incredible. As I was sitting on my stool eating, I glanced into the kitchen as they were chopping and preparing the biggest carrots I have ever seen grown in Hong Kong – all of their sides are made on-site.

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I couldn’t resist getting a slice of their chocolate cake (and another slice to take home for PB so he wouldn’t get jealous) – it’s more of a tarte than a cake. Made with Valrhona chocolate and the secret recipe of the chef, I took it home and followed their instructions – put it in the microwave for 10 seconds and ate it slightly warm. The sel de guerande really cut through the sweetness – I always love a little bit of salt with chocolate.

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Boulangerie Bistronomique

Since I started dating a Frenchman, my appreciation and knowledge of certain foods has expanded  – there were just so many things that I never knew about eating or thought about buying! This knowledge has unfortunately not yet spread to wine, but food! Ooooh yeah, with food I got it down! Baked goods (and related products) are one thing I find myself eating a lot more of – baguettes (bye bye sliced bread!), Dalloyau’s opera cake, canelés, all things Eric Kayser, financiers, french salted butter (regular butter is such a waste of calories!), with a short shot of espresso…

This post is a while in the making because I have been buying baked goodies from Boulangerie Bistronomique since it first opened. Young pâtissier Alex heads up the kitchen, and together with the rest of a talented team bakes up French pastries, baguettes, loaves, tea cakes and eclairs. It’s another great addition to the Hong Kong food scene by David Lai, and despite having Robuchon and the newly opened Eric Kayser (so excited about that!) bakeries available to us, it’s nice to support local when possible. It’s easy to support Boulangerie Bistronomique, because their baked goods are just that good.

Brioches/ extra large Chouquettes @ $15 & Pain au Chocolat @ $19

Croissants @ $18

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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