It was an early Thursday eve and while I was still just getting over my Maui induced jet lag I enjoyed an energized skip in my step. I only had a few days in Toronto to write and ready myself for my next adventure which would have me jetting off to Vancouver and Hong Kong. Dreams of Kitsilano Beach strolls and HK’s famous BBQ pork and duck had me swooning on the solo.
With limited time to spare between trips I try my best to organize dinner dates to connect and catch up. And so it was that Dale and I whisked our way down Yonge Street in search of a sip and nibble. Off the beaten path of tourist town, hidden away from the calamity of Dundas Square we found refuge at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel. Plopping ourselves down on a comfy booth at T Bar we immediately slipped our fingers through a simple and sweet pre-dinner cocktail and bar bites menu.
Dale spent the evening conquering the mighty Canadian Caesar served in dainty mason chalice. T Bar playfully showcases several of these classic Canadian cocktails which are prepared with house made clamato. Dale’s duo included a classic tip of the hat to the original recipe and The Checkout prepared with bacon infused vodka and adorned with hard boiled egg, crispy bacon and pickle spear.
From the kitchen we worked our way through plump potstickers, smoky pulled pork sliders, new york steak with crispy frites and chicken + waffles covered in onion gravy. Our sweet finish included apple walnut cheesecake and thick slice of raspberry chocolate cake. We parted ways once returning to the hustle and bustle of Yonge, with cold hands shoved into my pockets I marched back home as a cool Autumnal breeze slipped through my hair forcing a whisper, “until next time.”
Special thanks to the team at Eaton Chelsea for hosting me as their guest.
The Classic Caesar
polar ice vodka, house made clamato, freshly grated horseradish, tabasco, worcestershire, celery salt rim, celery and lime
The Checkout Caesar
bacon infused alberta purk vodka, house made clamato, freshly grated horseradish, frank’s red hot sauce, worcestershire, barberian’s steak spice rim, cherry tomato, hard boiled egg, crispy bacon, pickle spear
asian slaw, pristine farms soy sauce
Pulled Pork Slider Trio
onion strings, corn relish
New York Steak
garlic herb butter, frites
Chicken and Waffles
Apple Walnut Cheesecake
Raspberry Chocolate Cake
#519 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.
A dobbernationLOVES sponsored post.
I was giddy with excitement to spend my final evening in Hong Kong on a date with Vancouver’s favourite food blogger Mijune Pak from Follow Me Foodie. We had the opportunity to get to know each other the past few days while on a press trip with Hong Kong Tourism which had us sipping and nibbling our way through the cities annual Wine and Dine Festival. It was refreshing to encounter such a passionate food writer with a penchant for eating endlessly. Who knew I’d finally find my doppelgänger: a pretty and playful Asian femme fatale?
After a quick hug in our hotel lobby we raced through Wanchai and spilled into the closest Metro Station, moments later jolting a few hundred feet under the cities harbour bound for the hustle and bustle of Kowloon. We exited at Tsim Sha Tsui and soon found ourselves climbing one of the many escalators that zig zag to the heavens through iSquare. Our elevator popped open with a friendly chime, we had arrived at Sorriso Italian.
I was on a mission as an Ambassador for Canadian Beef, looking to learn more about how quality Canadian Beef is showcased in the foreign marketplace. This would be my second beefy dinner outside of Canada, a follow-up to my feast with the Canadian Trade Commissioner in Dubai at Seafire Steakhouse at the Atlantis Resort.
Before arriving in Hong Kong I had an opportunity to connect with Stephanie Dai, Director of China at Canadian Beef who was able to shed light on the cities unique market conditions. She explained, “Diners in Hong Kong see Canadian Beef as a premium product. The grain fed advantage contributes to good marbling and offers a unique beefy flavour. Chefs are eager to use Canadian beef as we offer a consistent quality which is ensured by Canada’s strict grading system.”
After chatting with Stephanie I also discovered Hong Kong’s most popular beef cuts: Westernized restaurants serve up tenderloin, sirloin, rib eye and prime rib while local Cantonese establishments have a penchant for short rib, brisket and shank. The greatest potential for growth in the Chinese market is interestingly enough at Hot Pot restaurants such as Budaoweng where local families feast around large tables of boiling and bubbling broth, quickly cooking thinly shaved slices of beef to perfection.
I was also fortunate enough to connect with Kitty Ko the Canadian Trade Commissioner in Hong Kong who noted, “Hong Kong is an important agricultural market for Canada, with Canadian exports to Hong Kong valued at more than C$753 million in 2012, representing a 26% increase from 2011. The top five agricultural food products imported to Hong Kong in the first eight months of 2013 included raw fur-skins, beef, ginseng roots, lobster and geoduck clams.” She adds, “Hong Kong consumers demand high quality, safe and innovative products. Well-known Canadian products such as Icewine and beef are viewed by locals as luxury menu items.” She concluded with comments on the future, “In the first eight months of 2013 Hong Kong represented the second largest export destination for Canadian beef after the United States. The general acceptance of Canadian beef in Hong Kong is high, the challenge is how do we maintain a steady supply to fulfil the increasing demand.”
With these beefy facts jostling about in my head Mijune and I skipped through the Sorriso Italian dining room and plopped into our seats. The restaurant is best known for its jaw dropping views, ceiling to floor windows which allow guests to sit back and relax with a glass of Chianti while watching the cities daily razzle dazzle light show, The Symphony of Lights. The restaurants always smiling Chef Ken Kwok popped out of the kitchen to say hello shortly after we had arrived. I enjoyed a quick tour of his kitchen where I snapped a few photos of the Grilled Canadian Angus Export Rib which he would be grilling up for us that evening.
Mijune and I spent our final evening in Hong Kong sipping Italian vino and taking in a spectacular view of Hong Kong’s glowing skyscrapers. Our feast began with an antipasto trio featuring creamy burrata, sweet figs with jamon and crab spring rolls dipped in a spicy kimchi puree. Fresh tuna belly was paired with jalapeno salsa and yuzu dressing while fresh pappardelle twirled on the fork adorned with mushroom ragout, parmesan and shaved black truffle. Our well marbled Grilled Canadian Angus Export Rib was served with pommes frites and truffle jus, a juicy medium rare. While Sorriso markets itself for its Italian eats, one glance at the menu indicates that Chef Ken has a penchant for getting creative in the kitchen. He appreciates the Italian tradition but modernizes each dish with a flare for the local Hong Kong palate.
It was just as we were finishing the last of our savoury dishes when two men strapped to their guitars walked over to a neighbouring table to croon a sweet song. And so it was that we finished the evening with our own sweet duo: crispy profiteroles covered in chili chocolate sauce and a piping hot souffle made with valrhona chocolate. With one last sip of Pinot Grigio I stood smiling over the city, quickly turning to the door I softly whispered, “Hong Kong this is goodbye, but I hope to see you soon.”
Sorriso Seafood Soup
Pan Fried Barramundi
clam and champagne foam
Grilled Canadian Angus Export Rib
porcini, rocket, truffle jus
Fresh Tuna Belly
jalapeno salsa, yuzu dressing
italian mushroom ragout, parmesan, shaved black truffle
Valrhona P125 Coeur De Guanaja Chocolate Souffle
tangerine rambatan sorbet
vanilla ice cream, chili chocolate sauce
It was my final day in Hong Kong and with a skip in my step and an umbrella perched over my shoulder I swerved through drizzle which misted itself across Wanchai. The district is connected by a pedestrian walkway which winds through many of the cities largest office towers and hovers over chaotic highways. It was rather exhilarating to skip over HK’s early morning rush hour traffic and zoom myself through the cathedral like spaces of the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre.
I had planned a rather decadent last day in Hong Kong at the Grand Hyatt, a luxurious five star property which sits perched over Victoria Harbour. I started the morning with a coma inducing massage treatment at the hotels Plateau Spa and then slithered down to One Harbour Road for my final Cantonese feast.
I was excited to catch up with an old friend from my university days. I gave Winnie a big hug when she arrived at the table and spent the next two hours catching up on five years of lost time. Winnie acted as my HK spirit guide in 2008 when I first visited the city. She was the perfect local tour guide, twirling me through the cities most colourful markets, feasting on dim sum and late night beer sips at the calamitous bars in Kowloon.
One Harbour Road is one of Hong Kong’s most celebrated Cantonese fine dining concepts where the cities politicians and celebrities come to wine and dine. The restaurants two-story design features wrap around ceiling to floor glass windows which offer one of the most spectacular views in the city. I imagine thousands of men have fallen on one knee during dinner, hopelessly romantic.
I whisked my fingers through Chef Li Shu Tim’s lengthy menu while formulating a game plan for this final feast. The previous afternoon I had enjoyed a culinary walking tour of the city and learned that out of the many BBQ items available in HK the three most popular with locals were crispy suckling pig, roast goose and honey roasted bbq pork. I decided to centre the meal around this trilogy, a final bow of respect to the genius that is Cantonese BBQ.
We started off the meal with a glass of champagne, a wink for my “salut and so long.” Throughout lunch our server who wore a white dress jacket and black bow tie moved around the table like a silent wind, placing piping hot plates under our noses. Our BBQ trilogy forced a few vocal “omg’s,” heaven where crispy meets juicy meets fatty. Deep fried prawns tossed in sweet mayonnaise and sesame perched in a fried egg nest were followed by wok fried shredded beef so tender you really didn’t even have to bother with the labours of chewing.
It was here that I encountered my first tea smoked crispy chicken, its skin glistened from the centre of the table, a mirrors reflection. I’m a huge fan of poultry skin (hold me back from the turkey on Thanksgiving) so was delighted to encounter a smokey tea aroma before crunching into the skins cracker like consistency. Our journey at One Harbour Road would wind to a close with a carb loading duo of fried rice prepared in the yeung chow style alongside a steaming plate of spicy singapore noodles. A final chilled mango pudding provided the perfect cleanse to our palates before hobbling home in a gluttonous daze.
Special thanks to the Grand Hyatt for hosting me as their guest.
Cuvee des Chevaliers Blanc de Blancs Lancelot Royer
crispy suckling pig, roast goose, honey roasted bbq pork
Deep Fried Prawns
sesame seeds, fried egg, mayonnaise sauce
Wok Fried Shredded Beef with Chili
Tea Smoked Crispy Chicken
Fried Rice Yeung Chow Style
Chilled Mango Pudding
One really can overdose on Cantonese cuisine when visiting Hong Kong. While it may just be the best Chinese food you’ve ever tasted (just try and stop yourself from devouring suckling pig and roast goose for breakfast, lunch and dinner) HK offers a wild and wonderful variety of global cuisine. From Joël Robuchon to Nobu, the worlds creme de la creme culinary bravados have set up shop to rave reviews.
So it was a pleasant surprise after spending a long day touring around the city we found ourselves standing on the curb and staring up at one of the cities newest French restaurants. We had arrived in the “up and coming” food district of Kennedy Town and would spend that evening swapping Peking Duck for rillettes, crispy suckling pig for confit choucroute.
We skipped into Bistro du Vin, past the restaurants petite bar and into a quaint and cozy dining room featuring sky high walls covered in French-vintage-everything. The Chinese, especially those who call Hong Kong home have an unbridled penchant for anything French. J’adore fine fabrics, Chanel to Vuitton, vino sipping Bordeaux to Burgundy. So you can imagine it was no shocker to watch this cozy little Parisian bistro hustling and bustling throughout dinner service.
After plopping ourselves around a table we immediately began to lather bread generously with cold butter, delightfully salty crunch with cream. The feast started with pork terrine, duck pate and rillettes followed by spoon swoons a la french onion soup. Meat of the moment featured a crispy suckling pig leg confit, braised lamb shank in tomato sauce and braised beef cheeks with potatoes fourchette.
While we all started to grumble at the table about having almost eaten ourselves to death we magically found room to endure one more round. The most memorable of the dishes that evening would be a Grand Marnier Souffle. Each of us had a perfectly browned and crispy souffle placed under our noses. We eagerly cracked each bloom with a small spoon. A boozy plume, a twirl of sweet vanilla ice cream and “the feast was fini.”
Special thanks to Hong Kong Tourism for hosting me as their guest.
Pork Terrine, Duck Pate, Duck Rillettes
Cheesy Onion Soup
Crispy Suckling Pig Leg Confit, Choucroute
Braised Lamb Shank with Tomato Sauce
Braised Beef Cheeks with Potatoes Fourchette
Grand Marnier Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream
For those that love to travel, there tends to be one moment, one feast, one shared experience in each destination we visit that stands out as being unforgettable. A taste of place that resonates. On my recent trip to Hong Kong my leisurely lunch at the Michelin two-star Summer Palace at the Island Shangri-La would fill these shoes.
I spent thirty minutes coddling my camera as I explored the nooks and crannies of one of HK’s most luxurious hotels. First time visitors are swept away by the hotels razzle dazzle lobby featuring a dizzying collection of ornate chandeliers which hang in clusters like ripe summer fruit. The spacious open air lobby lounge features a 130 year old Banyan tree, which cost HKD 24 million to conserve – a unique gesture in this bustling metropolis that typically lets nothing stand in its way. In the atrium, the arresting Great Motherland of China, the largest Chinese landscape silk painting in the world, is grand and inspiring.
Decadence is defined at the hotel’s signature Summer Palace where Chef Ip Chi Cheung presents the best of Cantonese cuisine with award-winning culinary flair. He tips his hat by focusing on seasonal favourites in a setting that evokes the grandeur of a rich Chinese heritage. The twinkle of gold contrasts harmoniously with the a rich burgundy rouge and makes one feel as though they have arrived at a celebratory feasting table in a royal palace.
I will never forget loitering in luxury that afternoon as I swirled each glass of wine, perfectly paired by the restaurants sommelier to each of the chefs whimsical dishes. Highlights of my visit to Summer Palace include an explosive dim sum trio, soft as a marshmallow beef cheek and a peking duck which was carved tableside and served with wee pancakes and sweet hoisin. Baked fried rice with hairy crab roe and fresh mushroom redefined the concept of “the casserole” while a chilled sago cream with mango juice and pomelo proved that simple honest fruit deserves our attention.
Chardonnay, Saint Catherine, Napier, Paarl, South Africa
Santenay Rouge, Vieilles Vignes, Vincent Girardin, Burgundy, France
Clos l’Hermitage, Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Dim Sum Trio
steamed shanghainese pork dumpling with conpoy
steamed vegetarian dumpling with assorted fungus
deep fried mashed taro stuffed with shrimp
Stir-Fried Scallops with Asparagus and Fresh Lily Bulbs
Stewed Beef Cheek with Chef’s Special Sauce
Baked Fried Rice with Hairy Crab Roe and Fresh Mushroom
Sweet Corn Soup with Diced Chicken
Chilled Sago Cream with Mango Juice and Pomelo