Tokio Joe and the Sony Cybershot RX100

Tokio Joe is  a LKF stalwart and part of the Lan Kwai Fong Entertainments Group, it has been there for yonks and is always packed for lunch, and I had never been there!  I needed to try this place out, and since it’s my mum’s birthday week, I decided to treat her to some raw fish.  Tokyo Joe has a great selection of lunch sets, both single dish sets and combination sets, and all are served with complimentary miso soup, daily appetiser, tea and dessert.

As a side note, I have started to use my new Sony RX100 camera to shoot my food porn (my photographer bro gave it to me for my birthday, thanks so much little bro!) – it has a Carl Zeiss lens and is said to be ‘the best pocket camera ever made’. I have to say, I am inclined to agree! It takes amazing shots with razor sharp image quality and professional-looking depth of field, as well as great low-light performance for when I’m out for dinner. I love the adjustable flip screen, which helps to take direct overhead shots of plates, and also the bendable flash (although I’m afraid that breakage risk is a bit higher) for bouncing the flash off the ceiling for more ambient lighting.  I must say, my focusing skills are a little out of whack in some of these photos, but I’m still learning how to use it’s many functions and settings.

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Complimentary Tomato Salad – the daily appetiser

We started off with a wonderfully refreshing appetiser – fresh tomatoes, in a soya sauce/olive oil dressing and topped with sweet and crunchy caremelised red onion. Really nice.

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Horen So Goma-Ae (Spinach Salad with Sesame Dressing) HK$ 75

This spinach salad was very nicely presented in a roll-shape – you peel off the crisp stalks of cold spinach and dip them (or rather, drench them, as I do) in the creamy sesame sauce.

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Spicy Toro Tartare HK$ 290

This toro tartare is one of Tokio Joe’s signature dishes, and for good reason. A generous mound of spicy, crunchy, creamy tuna tartare sits on lettuce for easy transfer from plate to mouth. I really want to try making this at home, so we made an effort to dissect the tuna tartare and put together a recipe – tuna, spring onion, fried spring roll wrapper, (maybe a touch of) some minced shallot,  La-Yu chili oil, Japanese mayonnaise.

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Deluxe Lunch Box HK$ 225

I love the choices available in the deluxe lunch box – it’s a great selection of everything one might want from a Japanese lunch, and I thought it was extremely well-priced for what you’re given.

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Sen Ryo: Fresh Sashimi, Unbeatable Prices

What do I do if I’m craving some sashimi but I don’t want to pay through the teeth? Why, go to Sen Ryo of course!

There are a few places here in Hong Kong that serve sashimi at unbelievable prices. When I was in high school, we would catch the bus down to Causeway Bay and grab a seat next to the conveyor belt at Genki Sushi, Sen Ryo’s cheaper sister restaurant. Sushi One is Causeway Bay was also a favorite for a short period of time after it first opened, but when the sashimi quality started getting noticeably worse, it spelled the end of my custom there.

Thank goodness my sushi spending is no longer limited to a pocket-money budget, and Genki Sushi is a thing of the past. Whilst Sushi Shin and Sushi Kuu are my favorites, if I’m in the mood for a sashimi super feast, Sen Ryo is it – with it’s fresh seafood, consistent quality and crazily unbeatable prices. For fresh fish that is imported from Japan, you’re not going to get better than this – eat to your hearts content, until you are close to bursting, and you will still only pay around $150-$200 per person.

A loaded conveyor belt

A loaded conveyor belt

During the main dining hours, the sushi belt is loaded with colourful plates of different choices from the menu. If you’re short on time, then this is the way to go, but I prefer to order fresh from the menu. The menu is extensive, featuring sushi, sashimi, hand rolls, salads, grilled and cooked items and desserts. Check out their full menu and prices here on their website.

Sen Ryo unfortunately doesn’t take bookings, so if you are going for lunch, unless you show up at 12pm or even 11.45am to be sure, you will wait 45 minutes to an hour for your table, especially if you have a party larger than 4.

If you become a Sen-Ryo Member, you can join the online queue for your restaurant of choice via their app to save time. Simply ask for a points card at one of their outlets and spend $1200 within two months (very easily done).

Here are some of my favorites …

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Ripples on Sydney Harbour

But calm and lucid as an English lake,
Beloved by beams and wooed by wind and wing,
Shut in from tempest-trampled wastes of wave,
And sheltered from white wraths of surge by walls—
Grand ramparts founded by the hand of God,
The lordly Harbour gleams. Yea, like a shield
Of marvellous gold dropped in his fiery flight
By some lost angel in the elder days,
When Satan faced and fought Omnipotence,
It shines amongst fair, flowering hills, and flows
By dells of glimmering greenness manifold.
And all day long, when soft-eyed Spring comes round
With gracious gifts of bird and leaf and grass—
And through the noon, when sumptuous Summer sleeps
By yellowing runnels under beetling cliffs,
This royal water blossoms far and wide
With ships from all the corners of the world.

From the poem, Sydney Harbour, by Henry Kendall.

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Going under the bridge for the short ride across the harbour to Luna Park

There is little wonder why Sydney Harbour is known as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. As a Hong Konger, I’d like to proclaim the same about my harbour, but apples to apples, it doesn’t make the cut. Perhaps I am lucky to always visit in the autumn, when the sun shines brightly and the breezes are cool, but I have fallen in love with this city, so much so that I am reading poems about it!

On the final day of our visit, we boarded a ferry named Alexander (like my brother!)  for lunch at Ripples Milsons Point Luna Park, which is the first stop on the Darling Harbour service and a short 7 minute chug across the harbour.  We had been recommended to go there by a friend, who mentioned that there is a smarter restaurant above called Aqua, but that Ripples on the ground level was casual, well-priced and yet served great food.

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Circular Quay and a blue, blue sky as we leave the terminal

This is what we saw as we approached on the ferry – a huge smiling face with great big teeth between two Empire State Building-esk towers and a colourful ferris wheel! In this computer-reliant age, I am guilty of being one of those people that googles everything before I visit it. The experience is akin to film versus digital photography – sure, it’s nice to be able to check your screen to see if your photo turned out well.  But don’t you sometimes miss that excitement and anticipation of picking up the little envelope of photos after developing your roll of film, wondering how they look and even surprising yourself with photos that you didn’t recall taking?  Well, this time, I didn’t google anything before our lunch, so you can imagine the surprise and glee when I realised that Luna Park wasn’t of the garden variety, but a huge colourful theme park – I felt like a little girl again, for a few moments! My mother mentioned that she used to love coming here when she was younger, and the look of nostalgia that crossed over her face was heart-warming.

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Luna Park

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The entrance to Luna Park

North Sydney Olympic Pool

From sydneywebcam.blogspot.com – a wonderful blog site that used to publish a photo of Sydney every day, but for some reason stopped in 2006. I’m tempted to write to him and ask him to continue where he left off!

The restaurant is situated next to the North Sydney Olympic Pool, most likely the most scenic public pool in Sydney, perhaps the world! Ripples is located on the bottom left-hand corner of the pool, and used to be where the pool kiosk was located.It was transformed in to an alfresco restaurant in 2002,which serves casual Australian fare with seasonal ingredients, with a view to die for.

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Ripples Milsons Point

We ordered a bottle of Rosé and a selection of food to share between the three of us. Apart from pavlova, I can’t think of a particular dish that represents Australian cuisine, like France has coq au vin, Italy has pasta, or the Philippines has adobo. When I think of Australian cuisine, I think of BBQs, seafood, and I think of the most fresh ingredients that I have tasted, ingredients that taste of sunshine. So for me, that is what Australia has – sunshine, on a plate.

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Scallops – minted peas – pancetta – truffle cream AUD$21 (HK$170)

The scallops were served on a block of Himalayan pink salt – stunning! I need to get me some of those! The scallops were bouncy and full of delicate flavour. I have always loved this combination of scallops, mint and pancetta and this dish does not disappoint. In fact, we liked it so much that we immediately ordered another one!

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Sashimi – avocado – cucumber – ginger AUD 22 (HK$ 177)

I was a bit reluctant to order sashimi, particularly because we eat so much of it at home, but my mum insisted, and I’m glad that she did. First of all, the fish was served almost at room temperature, which was actually quite nice and different from your usual sashimi experience. The kingfish had a nice fresh flavour, and I loved that avo (avocado for us non-Australians) and ginger flavour. I’m definitely trying to replicate this at my next dinner party!

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Fish of the day?

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Aracini – tomato – basil – mozzarella AUD 18 (HK$ 145)

We had a thing with risotto balls during this trip, and these ones were certainly very different to the ones that we tried at Berta (post coming soon). I’m not usually a fan of risotto, or risotto balls by extension, but the rice was tender and the center of melted mozzarella was a really nice surprise –  I like dem Aussie risotto balls!

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Whitebait – lime mayo AUD 9.50 (HK$ 76)

From the ‘nibbles & sharing” section of the menu, the whitebait was crispy and quite meaty as far as the small fish goes, with a nice and very dip-able dip – with all that mayo, it probably wasn’t a good idea to dip at the frequency that we were dipping …

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Fish n Chips AUD 26 (HK$ 209)

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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

Sushi Shin – Omakase

 

After an almost month-long hiatus, I wanted to write something before y’all forget about me! Sitting here in my New York City hotel room, there is so much to write about – all of the restaurants I visited in London at the beginning for the month for one, and all the ones I will visit in the US of A after that. But I’m going to start with baby steps, and make a special mention of the superb Japanese restaurant that P and I went to in Hong Kong last weekend, at the recommendation of a friend who used to live in Tokyo – AL knows his sushi!

If you haven’t been to Sushi Shin, take a trip down foodie lane and check out this superb establishment in Tin Hau – I’ve been reading so much about all of the great restaurants popping up in the area, but this is the first (of many) that I’ve checked out.