Cococabana in Shek O – Sun, Sea and Rosé Wine

Whether you find yourself in Shek O for a bit of lazy suntanning and swimming, or you’ve worked up a sweat on the Dragon’s Back and have earned a decent meal, then you’ll be pleased to know that Cococabana has re-opened right on the beach where Paradiso used to be (remember that place?!). Taking other Hong Kong beaches into consideration, Shek O Beach is a relatively more happening place and whilst they’re not fantastic, there’s a pretty decent selection of restaurants with a nice laid-back beach vibe.

I’ve been to Cococabana a few times since its new opening, and enjoy the quirky and random items stuck on whitewashed walls, the plastic utensil chandelier, crisp table linens and the solitary disco ball – a nice nod to the previous occupant perhaps?

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One can never have too many Ikea paper lanterns …

Whilst the old Cococabana was more beach chic, the new one is paillote*-esk, a sophisticated beach bar of sorts.  The menu reflects this with light meals, largely seafood and salad based with some chicken and steak thrown in for good measure. They also have a beach bar menu (hamburgers, crêpes and a pretty awesome merguez sausage sandwich), so if you’re in the mood for something more casual and easier on the wallet, make sure to ask for it.

When ordering, you can either choose from the Set Lunch menu for sharing (minimum 2 people @ HK$328), or order from the à la carte menu. The Set Lunch menu for two is actually pretty generous so if you’re looking for a lighter meal, you can always order for two and share between three. Any of the set lunch items can also be ordered on an à la carte basis.

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Salade Niçoise de la Plage HK$158

The Salade Niçoise is top choice at Cococabana, thick and perfectly grilled cuts of tuna with a nice selection of greens and a tangy dressing.

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Set lunch Menu: Mediterranean appetisers

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Baked goats cheese on puff pastry with Bayonne ham HK$148

The baked goats cheese goes nicely with the Bayonne ham, but the limp puff pastry leaves you wanting and I feel it’s a bit overpriced for what you’re getting.

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Set Lunch Menu: Piri Piri Prawns on mint couscous

The piri piri prawns is a generous and tasty dish. The piri piri sauce packs some nice and flavourful heat – wash the sand off your hands and literally dig in!

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Set Lunch Menu: Whole grilled sea bream, flamed with pastis

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LoveBites Lunches – Cocotte

After visiting Cocotte for dinner when it first opened a few months back, I went back to this lovely French brasserie-style restaurant to try out their new lunch menu, which they introduced just a couple of weeks ago. The menu is a straightforward compilation of tasty seasonal dishes, beautifully presented with choice ingredients, and well portioned to fill you just enough but not leave you bursting at the seams.

You can either opt for the Express Lunch (starter and main) for HK$ 168, or the three course Executive Lunch at HK$ 198, both include tea, coffee or a soft drink. There is certainly a plethora of choice when it comes to lunch menus in the Central and Soho areas, but this one really stands out in terms of the quality of food and the high level at which it is executed.

Gazpacho - tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, extra virgin olive oil

Gazpacho – tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, extra virgin olive oil

 Frisée Salad - poached egg, lardons, Pommery mustard dressing

Frisee Salad – poached egg, lardons, Pommery mustard dressing

These two dishes are a light and refreshing way to start the meal. I’m not one to usually order a cold soup but this gazpacho is super refreshing, with a distinct bell pepper taste and I enjoyed the addition of whole cherry tomatoes for varying textures. The frisée salad is a simple dish with a perfectly poached egg and a grilled slice of baguette for extra crunch.

Confit of Salmon - Salt baked beet, tiny potatoes, horseradish cream, dill

Confit of Salmon – Salt baked beet, tiny potatoes, horseradish cream, dill

Steak Tartare -  truffle egg yolk, salad

Steak Tartare – truffle egg yolk, salad

For something a bit more filling, the steak tartare has got to be my favorite starter of them all. Add as much as you want of the tangy and ever so slightly spicy tartare sauce, with a dollop of the egg white and caper mixture after mixing in the fresh egg yolk (or not!) into that wonderfully tasty beef. The salmon was under-seasoned for my liking, although those baby potatoes and horseradish cream on the side were a nice accompaniment.

On to the mains, whilst hand on my heart I loved every one of them, the star of the show has got to be the filet mignon.  I’m not usually a fan of very lean cuts and usually opt for rib eye for an extra bit of taste, but this filet mignon was incredible – tender, tasty and perfectly cooked. I hope they never take it off the menu! Beware of those fries and béarnaise sauce, they’re dangerously addictive.

Beef Filet Mignon Frites - matchstick fries, Bearnaise Sauce

Beef Filet Mignon Frites – matchstick fries, Béarnaise Sauce

The codfish was also a fabulous dish, transporting you to the Mediterranean with perfectly cooked, large translucent flakes of codfish, moreish polenta disks (I have to try making those at home!!), and a really nice ratatouille.

Codfish Mediterranean Style - spiced ginger polenta, ratatouille, red beet reduction

Codfish Mediterranean Style – spiced ginger polenta, ratatouille, red beet reduction

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Cocotte – French Brasserie with a New York Vibe

One of the many fabulous things about the French language (the study of which eludes me daily, no matter how much I talk about picking it up again), is that there are so many words that have various different meanings, and some of the slang is just downright funny.  ‘Cocotte’ is one of those new ones that I just learned when I went to this fabulous new French brasserie earlier this week.

cocotte
kɒˈkɒt/
noun
         1. a small heatproof dish in which individual portions of food can be cooked and served.
         2. a fashionable prostitute.

Love it! I suppose the same thing exists in English where a word can be in one way defined as something to do with food, and yet have another completely different meaning (crumpet for example, or waffle), but it just sounds so much better in French!

Fabulous wallpapers

Fabulous wallpapers

The Bar

The Bar

Cocotte is a new chic French eatery that has opened on my favourite ladder street. It’s located just outside the periphery of the main crowds on Hollywood/Staunton, next to the Cabane a Vin wine cellar and just up from Kushiyaki Beco and On Lot 10.

Opened and run by the Moldovan brothers, who hail from Paris but have a love for all things New York, the decor oozes chic-ness. One of the owners is a friend, and it is so interesting to see his personality directly translated into the look and feel of the restaurant. I love the use of luxurious wallpaper, the moss green velvet banquette, the red white and blue mis-matched chairs, the retro lighting, even the dark purples walls in the bathroom.

And now to the food …

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Caprese Salad “Cocotte Style” – Burattina , heirloom tomato, basil, strawberry, aged balsamic HK$168

The burrata burst onto the plate upon the slightest touch, and the pairing with strawberries was unusual yet tasty.

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Steak Tartare – roquefort, “truffle egg yolk”, roquette salad HK$168 (or HK$228 as a main)

This dish is a thoughtful one – the beef tartare comes with roquefort, which you can choose to mix in or leave on the side (thankfully, for us blue cheese haters). The tartare sauce is served in a separate jar,  which I thought was very considerate to the diner – one can choose to add as much or as little of it as they’d like.

Foie

Foie Gras Royale – wood-smoked duck ham, rhubarb, raspberry, pistachio HK$168

The foie gras is served with smoked duck, raspberries and a sort of cookie crumb. It is not served with any toast or bread (perhaps you’re expected to eat it sans pain), but you can ask for it on the side.

Believe it or not, I forgot to take a picture of the ‘Langoustine, Barely Touched’. As the name suggests, the langoustine is just ever so slightly seared, very fresh and light. It is clearly one of their more popular dishes, and when we were told that the kitchen only had 3 servings left, we took them all.

Veal

Milk-fed Veal Flatiron – prepared like blanquette, chanterelle mushrooms, heirloom carrots, parsnip HK$ 328

The veal melted in the mouth; moist, with a very subtle taste, and it was perfectly cooked.

Fish

Royal Sea Bream – prawn, corn and brown butter bisque HK$ 328

The fish was very well executed, with a lovely creamy potato puree. Stacked on top were vegetables and crisp shrimp, resting on a rich lightly foamed bisque.

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Akrame – Trying to make the fleeting, unforgettable

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Putting trust in the kitchen

Firstly, before I start, I shall issue a spoiler alert! Akrame is like a good movie that loses a bit of it’s charm if the movie trailer is just a bit too informative, or if there is too much expectation riding on it. I know the whole idea of a restaurant review is to give you an idea of what you’re going to be eating, and help you decide whether or not it’s worth shelling out some money for, but let me just stop you there and assure you – Akrame is worth it. Secondly, whilst all of the photos really do showcase the creative thought and attention to detail in each Akrame dish, the menu changes every two weeks, thus it may be that the dishes you see here will not be served when you visit.

Menu Planning, by Akrame

Menu Planning, by Akrame

As we sat down at our table, PB told me a little story about the chef Akrame Benallal, which I shall now tell to you. He had a very modest childhood and growing up without his father, he learned quickly to take care of himself. When Benallal was doing his restaurant apprenticeship at the tender age of 14, which was 25km away from his home, he used to hitch hike every day without other means to get there.  In 2004, he wrote to Ferran Adrià explaining that he had a lot to learn, and he wanted to work under him at El Bulli. After a stint there and also working with Pierre Gagnaire (who Benallal calls “Beethoven in the kitchen”), at the age of 25 he opened a restaurant in Tours, but his food was so molecular, too complicated. One day, some of his regular customers walked in, and Benallal decided that instead of making his deconstructed molecular tomato dish, he plated a black Krim tomato with salt, pepper and some olive oil … and the customers said it was magnificent. Sadly it was too late as his restaurant went bankrupt, but so the story goes from there …

To read more about the inner workings of this dynamic young chef, this SCMP article is a good one.

There is no menu at Akrame, you are simply offered a choice of a four-course (HK$788) or six-course(HK$998) menu, with optional wine pairing for both (HK$368 and HK$528 respectively), making this the simplest ordering experience you will every have (even simpler than at The Principle).

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Amuse bouche – Olive crisp and greek yoghurt

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The amuse bouches – squid ink ‘paper’ with smoked eel, parmesan cookie with fish roe, turnip with anchovy and brown butter

After being served a yummy walnut and raisin bread with a tonka bean and lemon butter, we are given a selection of amuse bouches. The eel, served on the thinnest of thin wafers, and the turnip disks with anchovy sandwiched in between, were particularly memorable.

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In waiting for the soup course …

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Pumpkin soup with mandarin orange and rye bread crumbs – Paired with Delamotte NV champagne

The serving of the soup always seems to follow the same protocol – the soup dish is brought to the table with flavour components on display – in this case, mandarin orange slices and those wonderful rye breadcrumbs. They really added a nice texture. The soup was served HOT, smooth and silken. The dish was really a sum of its parts, and would have fallen short had it not been for all of its ingredients.

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Braised razor clams with spinach and spinach mayonnaise – paired with Domaine Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru

The razor clams were tender and tasted of the sea on a sunny day! The spinach was so very fresh and the riesling was very well paired.

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Raw oysters with passion fruit foam and oyster jelly – paired with Christian Moreau Chablis

We felt like the passion fruit foam over-powered the taste of the oysters, and both agreed that this was our least favorite dish of the night. The chablis was very mineral-y and complemented the tartness of the passion fruit perfectly however.

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The lobster is served raw, in a mason jar, then poached in a lobster and tarragon broth

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Poached lobster with celery root puree, chopped green apple and celery root, and a green apple compote – paired with La Moussiere Sancerre

At this point, the meal just kept getting better and better! Raw lobster tail poached at the table and served on a lightly-flavoured celery root purée, which really let the lobster shine. What a fantastic dish.

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A birthday dinner @ On Lot 10

It was a Sunday, and our mission was to find a restaurant to celebrate my dear friend DL’s birthday three days later.  At first we booked Tango, but when they asked us for a deposit (which is understandable, considering it was a booking for 14 people), AND a minimum spend of HK$750 per person (which I thought was utterly preposterous), I decided to find another option. Regardless of the fact that we most likely would have spent that much anyway,  Tango is not fine dining. It is not a private kitchen, nor were we booking a private room, and it was a rather hoity-toity of them to ask this of us!

The table setting

The table setting

I called around and amazingly, On Lot 10 was able to seat us! I’ve been there once before and I had good memories of it, but I must say, this visit really secured it a top place position in terms of favourite restaurants in my mind.

Spread over two floors decorated in clean whites and chocolate brown, On Lot 10 is an unassuming and understated gem serving French cuisine in large portions made to share. I am a fan of David Lai’s restaurants, and whilst Bistronomique in Kennedy Town is a bit far away for me, I always have to pop by Boulangerie Bistronomique whenever I am in the area, and I’m a regular at Kushiyaki Beco, one of my favourite places to go for a fun dinner with friends.

The menu is seasonal, and consists mainly of classic French dishes with a focus on what is in season and freshly available on the day. As a result, there are always daily fish and meat specials which are not on the menu, and other daily specials that can only be pre-ordered because of the longer cooking times.

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Beef Sirloin Tartare “Batutta” – foie gras, mushroom, celery, anchovy, parmesan HK$165

Hold the celery and this is one of the best versions of beef tartare that I’ve seen (the one at Upper Modern Bistro is pretty original also). I love the mandolin-sliced champignon de Paris, and the fresh foie gras adds an element of irresistible over-the-topness that is just so deliciously tempting!

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Boudin Basque “Christian Parra”, pimente d’Espelette HK$140

A little birdy told me that On Lot 10 uses the same boudin noir as La Cabane a Vin. Some interesting facts were gleaned from my further research – I found that Christian Parra is a 2 Michelin-starred French chef of restaurant Auberge de la Galupe in Urt who is famed for his boudin recipe, which is sold commercially and … it’s canned! I can’t wait to get my hands on some the next time I go to Paris.

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Bone Marrow Risotto – shallot, beef jus, aged “Acquerello” rice HK$170

This was just bursting with so much rich flavour and a perfect combination of textures that I could have ordered it for a main and been perfectly content for the rest of the evening. It was a favourite of the table – big chunks of marrow, creamy Acquerello risotto topped with a wonderful beefy sauce and crispy shallots.

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Scallops Crudo, preserved lemon, horseradish, watercress HK$165

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Whole Steamed Breton Artichoke, truffle anchovy dressing HK$150

Next came the main courses. The menu states that the large dishes are for two to share, but really by two they actually mean three (and for the whole roast chicken, even four).

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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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What’s cookin’ in Shek O

Thank the heavens, we finally had a day of good weather in Hong Kong, and during the weekend as a bonus! The sorely missed sunshine had everyone heading out to get a tan, and enjoy the great outdoors without being rained on, myself included. PB and I hopped on the Monster and rode over to Shek O Beach for the first time this summer. The car parks were all full, and I have never seen so many umbrellas on the beach and people in the water.

To our (well, more my) absolute delight, there are a couple of new places open, serving food and drinks to the thronging masses. There are few good options in Shek O Village, and it really needs an injection of life into the restaurant/café scene. Whilst I didn’t eat any of the food at Coco Café or Ming’s Café, from what I saw it’s definitely worth a trip back for the food.

Coco Café by Cococabana (Shek O Beach – further details TBC)

COCOCABANA IS BACK! Located right next to the shower stalls and public changing rooms on Shek O Beach (location-wise, not much has changed from it’s time in Deep Water Bay!), here you’ll find juices, smoothies and les milkshakes. We stopped by for an ice cold Corona, and sat on one of the high tables on the terrace. Food choice is limited but it looks decent – they had sample dishes on display at the bar to tempt people. The sweet crêpe selection looks good, but the choice of savory crêpes is not as tempting.  I won’t knock it ’til I try it – chili con carne crêpe anyone?

Coco Café opened its doors barely a month ago and is still under construction but they plan to be finished by next weekend. At the moment, they are only open on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Drinks at the bar and food order counter – their old Cococabana flyer displayed

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Public terrace overlooking Shek O Beach

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Bacon Cheeseburger with fries HK$75

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Piri-Piri Chicken

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Dessert Crepe

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Food menu

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Drinks menu

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Non-alcoholic drinks

Ming’s Café (Shek O Road, Shek O – next to the roundabout)

Ming’s cafe used to be a 士多 store selling water, beers and cigarettes, and they very wisely converted the space into a small café serving a basic menu of pizzas, pasta, sandwiches and an all day breakfast, as well as refreshing beverages. It’s completely open facade calls you in, with promises of pineapple and coconut smoothies. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the pineapple, but the coconut smoothie was out of this world, in fact I’m craving one right now. Someone was eating a burger on the next table, and it looks pretty decent.

Service is very friendly and efficient. Try your luck to arrive and grab a table; they don’t take reservations – because they don’t have a phone!

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The open and breezy Ming’s Cafe

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A super refreshing coconut smoothie!

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Food Menu

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Food Menu

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Dinner at Wild Grass

Calling Wild Grass for a reservation is hands down the most amusing telephone reservation experience I have ever had. Stephane, the manager is so wonderfully French!  Imagine a super French accent, then add a slow, sexed up tone to it – you just have to hear it. “Hellooooooo, zis is Stephaaaane. Ooooooh yessss, when would you like to booook ze table?” Don’t take me the wrong way, I am not making fun, I am simply trying to relay to you how enjoyable it was to make that reservation. I was giggling inside while I did it. And I really looked forward to meeting him in person – he is the face of the front-of-house, and the guy to ask if you have any questions about the menu or the restaurant.

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Wild Grass does a good job letting you know what they’re all about …

Wild grass do a very good job of promoting their mission statement and restaurant concept, and I liked how they make it a point to make sure you know exactly what is so special about this restaurant, right there on the front of their menu – sustainable ingredients, OBE beef, bread made in-house, and they can host your parties too! I’m a little skeptical about just how much of their menu uses sustainable ingredients … it’s a term that is easily kicked around, a trendy term.  Also, for a nose-to-tail restaurant, there is not much nose or tail. But one thing I can say for sure – for a well-priced, casual Hong Kong restaurant, it has a truly interesting and enticing menu.

There’s not just smoked salmon, it’s smoked salmon topped with radishes and wild salmon eggs! Baked fennel with creamed onions and gratinated with goat cheese (they like goat cheese on this menu). Roasted bone marrow with anchovy and herb salad. Seafood stewed with saffron and fennel. Roasted wild Iceland halibut.  Banana and marmalade trifle! Lemon curd syllabub – what they heck is that, anyway??!!

I was inspired to order at least 80% of it, which made choosing very difficult.

Although we were there in the evening, I could imagine sunlight streaming through those glass paneled window, shining down on the farm chic rustic home-style decor, and attractively mismatched chairs. At night, the restaurant looks like it could be a great place for a long meal followed (or preceded) by drinks at the bar – but when we went on a Thursday, we were one of 4-5 tables, and in such a big space, we felt a bit lonely.

And now to the food! While we waited, we were served some of that house-made bread (soft and fluffy like a pillow!) with a goats cheese butter spread (dangerously moreish). I really loved how we were given a few radishes (which went great with the goats cheese) and pickled onions to snack on – they made the bread platter look beautiful too.

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A very nice French bread board, with goats cheese spread, radishes and pickled onions

The carpaccio of amberjack was a very generous portion, but it was surprisingly lacking in any flavour other than the strong flavour of the passion fruit.

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Amberjack Carpaccio marinated with passion fruit and green onions HK$138

Goats cheese oozing over crispy puff pastry and that beetroot jelly went down a treat!

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Baked goat’s cheese feuillete with bayonne ham, pearl onions, beetroot jelly, rocket and walnuts HK$ 118

My starter of poached egg, asparagus, clams and crispy toasted brioche was a marvelously constructed dish – bravo to the chef!

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Poached organic hen egg with creamed shelled clams, green asparagus and toasted brioche HK$130

The steak was order medium-rare but was served rare. I am always a bit scared to send under-cooked steak back to the kitchen, as it usually comes back over-cooked, but the kitchen did a good job of rectifying it. While it was a very tasty piece of beef, it was a too thinly cut to be enjoyed as a juicy steak.

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Grilled wild organic rib eye steak with Merlot sauce, avocado and beetroot salad HK$ 380 (or HK$40 supplement for the set dinner)

The pork chop was simply amazing – perfectly cooked, juicy, really flavourful and well seasoned. I really loved that chive pesto too – this is a dish I would order again and again.

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Savory breaded pork chop, cider cream, chives pesto, cucumbers, courgettes and snow peas HK$ 278

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LoveBites Lunches: Chez Patrick Restaurant

It’s Restaurant Week in Hong Kong and for the first time, I went online and checked the list of participating restaurants. DW and I went to check out Chez Patrick restaurant in Wan Chai, which moved here from it’s previous location in Soho, where Chicha now stands. I’ve been meaning to check it out, and a 3-course set lunch at HK$ 248 was a good motivation to do so!

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This event is a good way for some restaurants to gain some extra coverage, perhaps attract some clientele that would have not considered dining there before. Chez Patrick is not one of those restaurants, as chef Patrick Goubier has built a very solid reputation for quality ingredients and excellent French fare, as seen by the success of his restaurant and Chez Patrick Delis. It does give diners a chance to sample some of his cooking at a reasonable price (the 3-course dinner is HK$438) – if this sounds enticing to you, then go and book your table now, as restaurant week ends this Sunday 3rd March!

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His Wan Chai restaurant is tastefully decorated, ash grey wood paneled walls, golden lighting fixtures and a little splash of colour (love that bright yellow banquette!) It’s warm, inviting, and cozy. The Restaurant Week menu covers some French favourites (escargot, quail) a little of the norm (crab ‘cakes’, salmon fillet), and something a bit different (fresh goats cheese nougat). It was easy to make our choices, and while we were waiting for our starters, we were served an amuse bouche.

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As we were about to start, Chef Patrick himself personally came to our table to greet us. He said hello, took our hands and kissed them (!), thanked us for visiting his restaurant, and then proceeded to explain the reasoning behind his amuse bouche. For the chilled gazpacho, he described how he soaks cherries in kirsch overnight as part of his base stock, and adds a touch of lavender. “The goal is to refresh your palate” he says – and refreshing it was, and particularly welcomed on another uncharacteristically warm February day. The salmon rillette is chilled and mixed with shallots, capers and lemon juice – a really wonderful combination that can never go wrong.

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For our starters, we both chose there Crabmeat Cold ‘Cake’, with Fresh Tomato, Basil and Pine Nuts. It was a very generous portion of crab, and although we enjoyed the dish I felt that they might have gone a little easier on the basil. The pine nuts gave a nice bit of crunch.

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For the main course, the Pan-seared boned Quail, Confit Onions and Smoked Bacon Tartlet with Red Wine Sauce was wonderful. The quail was nicely cooked, and I really enjoyed the deconstructed tartlet underneath. I couldn’t remember the dish from the menu, so I asked the waiter what it was, and he told me it was choucroute – I think he’s got his French terms mixed up! A small round of crispy pastry was topped with confit onions and little pieces of smoked bacon, and finally with the quail resting on top.

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Chef Patrick approached us and we asked him lots of questions about the food. He is a wonderfully sweet man, passionate about his restaurant, so friendly and happy to answer any questions that we had – I felt like we could have talked to him for much longer. He speaks with a soft French accent, and punctuates his sentences with a lot of “ya’s”. Where does he source his ingredients? All of the poultry at Chez Patrick is imported from France, and his beef, seafood and other such items are sourced from wherever he finds nice products. Beef from Australia, lamb from New Zealand, lobster from Maine … he mentioned that he is more and more sourcing his seasonal organic vegetables from Hong Kong, and that they ‘are getting much, much better at that, ya.” We are much less affected by seasonality here, and are in a central location for produce. “Not like in France, ya. When there is no asparagus, there is no asparagus!”

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DW ordered the Salmon Fillet, with Red and Yellow Bell Pepper Sauce. It was the most beautifully presented dish, salmon surrounded by a yin-yang of sauce, nestled on a bed of wild red rice. Where is the rice from? It’s imported from France, from the Camarague region at the end of the Rhone River, where there is more wetland, and where the rice is grown. It takes longer to cook than Asian rices, with a nutty taste and is a little more chewy in texture. It was a nice addition to the dish, and almost nicer once we knew exactly where it had been harvested!

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