LoveBites Lunches: Aberdeen Street Social

It is considerably harder to get a reservation for dinner than it is for lunch, so the lunch menu is a great way to enjoy Aberdeen Street Social. The third establishment in Hong Kong to be spearheaded by Jason Atherton in collaboration with the JIA Group after 22 Ships and Ham and Sherry, Aberdeen Street Social is a nod to Atherton’s flagship restaurant in London, Pollen Street Social, which opened in April 2011. My my, has he come a long way since then!  After three years and with multiple restaurants in London, Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong, it’s a wonder this guy gets any sleep!

The lunch menu is very enjoyable, with a good range of choice in the starters and the main courses, for a reasonable HK$238 for two courses, and HK$ 288 for three courses. I say it is reasonable because the food is beautifully prepared, eaten in a sophisticated setting, and tastes fabulous. The menu changes every two weeks, so if it becomes one of your regular treat lunch spots (as it will with me), you shouldn’t worry about getting bored.

You can also choose from the à la carte menu as well, which is not dissimilar to his Pollen Street Social menu of ‘modern British cuisine’.  Both feature a yummy-sounding egg starter, scallops, a fowl such as quail or pigeon, a beef sharing dish and … crispy pig ears. His mains are a nice balance of fish and meat, but with no vegetarian options. Having said that, if you give them some notice I think the kitchen could whip you up something fabulous in a snap.

Amuse bouches of garlic, cheddar and rosemary flatbread, with fried chicken topped with a lovely (tomato?) jam

Amuse bouches of garlic, cheddar and rosemary flatbread, with fried chicken topped with a lovely (tomato?) jam

The amuse bouches were wonderfully moreish comfort foods, that fried chicken was served piping hot (be careful when you take that first bite!), and so very good. The flatbread is available on their bar menu if you want more, but alas not the chicken. They are in no way light and healthy things to eat, but just those small morsels of guilt-ridden pleasure are just enough to get your comfort food fix.

A nice and light starter with a sort of aubergine purée that was full of flavour.

Aubergine Caviar, Garden Vegetables

Aubergine Caviar, Garden Vegetables

Iberico Ham, Egg and Peas

Iberico Ham, Egg and Peas

They don’t give much away with the description of the dish, so my starter of soft-boiled, crumbed then fried egg, together with crispy pancetta and smashed peas was a wonderful surprise! It’s not on the a la carte menu, and am a bit sad that I might not have the opportunity to eat it again …

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LoveBites Lunches: Hatsu Japanese Restaurant

It seems as if all I’m writing about these days is Japanese food, but can you blame me? It’s tasty, light, and comforting food. If you stick to the good stuff, you don’t have to feel guilty about eating lots ‘n lots! More than anything, I enjoy being able to enjoy several things in small portions. The first fresh, cold bite of a piece of salmon sashimi, the smoothness of chawanmushi as it slides off your tongue and down your throat, the comforting warmth of miso soup and the crunch of tempura – all those pleasures, served on cute little colourful dishes on one platter, really turn me on.  Hatsu just recently opened in Bank of America Tower last year, and I’m sure for the office-folk it’s a welcomed replacement of the Burger King that used to be in it’s place. I was a bit sad to find out though. I have a secret love affair with The King – I sneak out sometimes when no one’s looking for some tasty buns ‘n fries …

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A table by the window…

Anyway, back to the point! I requested a table by the window, and with the sun shining outside I sipped on the green tea in my very cute little teacup, and surveyed the menu. There is a HUGE selection of lunch sets – 6 whole pages to be exact, plus another Special menu featuring hotpot. Bento boxes, sushi and sashimi sets, fatty tuna over rice, steak, tonkatsu, katsudon, eel rice, salt-grilled mackerel, sukiyaki, tempura … they’ve got it all! Each one is served with an appetiser, chawanmushi, miso soup and dessert, and you can also help yourself to the salad bar. The lunch sets range from HK$160-$280, and it’s a really great value set lunch if you ask me!

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The self-service salad bar

TN and I both opted for the hotpot options, tempura hotpot for me, and the beef hotpot for her.

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Tempura hotpot lunch set HK$180

The set came with a generous selection of nigiri and maki rolls, all the favorites which were fresh and do well to satisfy a raw fish craving.

Fresh Nagiri, and all my favorites!

Fresh nigiri, and all my favorites!

By the time we had gotten around to the hotpots, if my tempura had been crispy to start, it definitely was not at this point. That was a real shame – perhaps next time I’ll ask them to serve it on the side. Soggy batter definitely subtracted from the full enjoyment of this dish, however everything else was very satisfactory. Hey, we’re not expecting haute cuisine here, and it was really enjoyable for what it was. I will most definitely revisit, it’s a great spot for lunch.

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Tempura Hotpot

Additional note made on 25th March 2013: I went to Hatsu for the second time for lunch today and was disappointed. The udon noodles were terribly soggy, and the sushi wasn’t as fresh. Perhaps it was because we visited towards the end of serving at 1-2pm, but it certainly wasn’t consistent with the first time I was there.

 

Hatsu

Address: Shop G4, G/F, Bank of America Tower, 12 Harcourt Road
Tel: 2971 0002

Carnevino

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If there was ever a time to be impressed with a steak restaurant, then this would be it, my meat-eating friends. The 2nd Hong Kong restaurant-child of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, in conjunction with the ever-expanding Dining Concepts Group (who seem to be aiming for a monopoly on steak in Hong Kong), attention to detail is definitely the motto for this restaurant.

Photo courtesy of sassyhongkong.com

The Interior – photo from sassyhongkong.com

Crisp white linens, leather paneled chairs, beautiful wooden flooring, brass lighting. Everything is quite masculine, yet the decor is welcoming and appealing to all. What impressed me – the Christofle cutlery and engraved Laguiole knives! It really seems as if no expense was spared, and not only was the food rich, but so was the eating experience.

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amuse bouche – butternut squash purée with home-made marshmallows

Before out starters arrived, we were served an amuse bouche of butternut squash soup. It was comforting albeit slightly unsophisticated, and a touch on the sweet side. I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, but one of those in our party didn’t finish it. It wasn’t a good indicator of the meal to come, certainly.

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Scallop Agrumato: Live Scallops with house-made Mandarin Oil HK$178

We started with live scallops with a wonderful citrusy oil, a sophisticated dish that was beautifully presented. I could always do with more scallop though!

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Calamari with Spicy Tomato HK$168

Our waiter that evening was extremely knowledgeable about the menu, and although there was a big discrepancy between some of the staff, many of them looked as if they had been very well trained on the menu, the ingredients and service to a higher level in general. Hats off to Batali/Bastianich for making service a priority, it’s hard to come by in Hong Kong.

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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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Seeing Stars: 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana

I went to Otto e Mezzo Bombana for the 3rd time this month, the first was for a quick late dinner with PB. We strolled in at 9.45pm with no reservations, and the manager, Mr. A, kindly let us take a seat for the last order at 10.30pm. My mother then made a lunch booking in advance with no one in particular (seeing that reservations are increasingly difficult to get), anticipating that someone would go with her – that someone ended up (gladly) being me! Finally, we went again for Valentine’s Day lunch on Tuesday (with PB, not my mum). Each time was a well-rounded and tasty experience.

Otto e Mezzo opened in January 2010 and was awarded two Michelin stars within two months. Dare I say that this new rating was perhaps not 100% due to 8 1/2’s magnificence on the global Michelin stage, but also due to the relatively new presence of the Michelin Guide in Hong Kong. But The Guide can give, and The Guide can take – what is more notable is that 8 1/2 has not only kept it’s stars, but collected a third in December 2011, making it the only 3 star Italian restaurant outside of Italy. Continue reading