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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Kushiyaki Beco, and the first time I tasted yuzukosho

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The Chefs Recommendation board

I recently asked a friend, who lived for several years in Tokyo, what her favorite Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong is – and Beco was her answer. Never one to ignore a good recommendation, I booked a table there as soon an an opportunity arose. She then very sweetly sent me a list of things to eat, “in order of importance” 🙂

Butter-yaki scallops
Short rib yakitori
Tofu steak
Croquette
Goya Chanpuru
Beco Pork Miso Soup
Liver yakitori (for the liver lovers)

Opened in 2011, a collaboration between Sushi Kuu chef Satoru Mukogawa and On Lot 10’s David Lai, Kushiyaki Beco is located along one of the stairway streets off Hollywood Road, where La Cabane Cellar is. It’s a small, cozy eaterie reminiscent of the tiny yakitori restaurants in Shinjuku. With just 20 seats on the ground level and around the same upstairs, it’s casual and quite unassuming, as some of my favorite restaurants tend to be. I saw Quail Egg Skewers on the Specials board, and I knew we were onto a good start.

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Ground level dining

I was wondering what the name meant, and found out that kushiyaki means ‘grilled skewer”. I asked myself, doesn’t yakitori mean then same thing? Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Yakitori (焼き鳥, やきとり, ヤキトリ?), grilled chicken, is commonly a Japanese type of skewered chicken. The term “yakitori” can also refer to skewered food in general. Kushiyaki (skewer grilled), is a formal term that encompasses both poultry and non-poultry items, skewered and grilled. Both yakitori and kushiyaki mean the same, so the terms are used interchangeably in Japanese society.

You learn something new every day!

IMG_4336Another new discovery that evening was that of yuzukosho (yuzu paste), simply the most bad-ass crazy-awesome sauce out there. It’s a fermented paste made out of yuzu orange peel, chilis and salt. The type of yusukosho depends on the the colour of the chili used – bright green for green chilies, and orange-y red with red chilies.

The taste and mouth-feel of this paste is quite extraordinary. At first taste it is salty, but then your tongue is tricked into thinking it’s more bitter than salty, due to the yuzu peel. Then the chili kicks in, not a kill-your-palate burn, but a warm, subtle numbing heat.  Forget wasabi, I am now going to be using yuzukosho with everything! Want to know more? Check it out here.

At Beco, yuzukosho was served with the short-rib skewers and ox tongue skewers. The short-rib is beautifully tender and incredibly tasty, and whilst the ox tongue had a nice texture, it wasn’t as flavourful as I would have hoped.

Short rib and tongue

Short rib (HK$60 per skewer) and  ox tongue (HK$65 per skewer)

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Tofu steak  – HK$45 for 3 pieces

The grilled tofu ‘steaks’ were smeared with a yuzu jam and topped with pine nuts and red pepper threads, served atop a piece of lettuce for easier transfer from plate to mouth. Again, I was a big fan of the yuzu jam, but the tofu wasn’t seasoned enough for me, and it was a bit bland.

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Grilled Hokkaido Scallop “butter-yaki” HK$100 each

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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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