Thursday 30 January 2014

Yelp: The Time Traveller's Ball

The great time travelling discovery

On Thursday, 23rd of January, Yelp, an online urban guide hosted one of the most fun and eventful parties inside The Grand Ballroom in the Grosvenor Square Marriott. "The Time Traveller's Ball", basically, a giant party with plenty of food, drinks and entertainment with a time travelling theme, encouraged visitors to dress up in fancy dress outfits. We entered thought the ever elegant Luggage Room cocktail bar and were offered a glass of complimentary cocktails before entering the main hall to register ourselves into the ballroom. Already I could feel the atmosphere of time travelling with most people dressed in iconic historical outfits and some wacky costumes that I couldn't think of a word to describe it!

Harry Brompton's Ice Tea and Briska Cider

Harry Brompton's Ice Tea

I have always been a fan of ice tea, nothing beats a home made ice tea with a slice of lemon on a hot summers day. But when its comes into buying one on the high street, I just couldn't think of any decent brands at all, they all taste far too sugary with artificial flavouring which leaves me a bad taste in my mouth. So when I attended the Yelp's time travelling ball and discovered there is a new alcoholic Ice Tea in the market, I showed great enthusiasm to have a taste and oh boy what a great discovery.

Made in London in small batches, with black tea sourced from Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and hand crafted distilled spirit in the mix, it proved to be a winning formula. The ice tea had a rich essence and herbal aroma with layers of flavours while the grain spirit within added a nice depth and dryness. It was such a treat to consume it ice cold with a slice of lime, the gluten free profile is also a big plus. I can also see it works wonders in a long drink or in a cocktail, the possibilities are endless.

Briska Craft Cider

I am sure we are now all familiar with the term "craft beer", but craft cider is something I am yet to encounter. Hand crafted in small quantities to ensure the highest quality, Briska is a Swedish craft cider born in Ă–sterlen, south of Sweden. According to their website, the Kiviks Musteri family has been operating the cider production since 1888 and the technique has been passed down by generations.

I first tried out their pear cider, as I used to drink a good amount of Kopparbergs, I was kind of benchmarking it but it turned out to be a no contest. The nose of the pear was very natural and refreshing, the taste was very crisp, light and fruity, but at the same time not overly sweet and no bitter after taste like I would find from other cider brands! I then gave their pomegranate cider a taste and it was just as good. It had a great balance of sweetness and sourness, lovely fruity aroma and taste thanks to the all natural content. In Briska, I thinks I just got myself the official choice of summer cider.

Monday 27 January 2014

Le Coq

The great chicken feast

Brain child of ex management from the Salt Yard group and a relative newcomer to the trending rotisserie chicken scene in London, Le Coq is a neighbourhood restaurant located in Highbury and Islington. Rotisserie has become a bit of a smash hit lately, with a good number of chicken themed restaurants opening across London such as Chicken Shop and ClockJack Oven. Le Coq has been on my to do list for a while, and when I found out they had finally decided to take bookings, we booked in for a special group gathering.

Le Coq
private dining den

Sunday 26 January 2014

Le Grand Pokka Cafe

Style over substance

Pokka cafe is a well known restaurant chain in Hong kong and it has been around as long as I can remember it, the food is a mixture of Japanese and French cuisine with some specially sourced coffee from around the world. Le Grand Pokka Cafe is a new concept from Pokka Cafe, with a much upgraded decor and more luxurious items on the menu. We opted for a few set lunches and shared them between us, what really got me puzzled was we were offered some French croissants at the start, but instead of butter or salt, we were given olive oil and balsamic vinegar which was a bit of bizarre choice and I failed to understand the reason behind it.  

Le Grand Pokka Cafe

Friday 24 January 2014


Cocktails in the sky

Located on top of The Ritz Carlton Hotel inside the International Commerce Centre, Ozone is the tallest bar in the world as of writing with a stunning view of the Kowloon harbour and Hong Kong island. On my Christmas Eve visit, there was a fashion show running called "Be Glamour" as part of the hotel's Christmas Eve party, provided by designer/singer Brigitte Da Silva. It was a mixture of fashion and music showcasing her latest design with jazz songs performed by Brigitte Da Silva herself.

I sat at the open terrace outside the main bar overlooking the lovely view while placing my orders, I wasn't so sure if the cocktails were going to be any good as all I read about Ozone is how great the design and the views are and never about the drinks itself. But I didn't need to worry, Champagne Mojito using vodka instead of rum and topping it off with rose champagne proved to be a real winner with its fresh and bitter dryness. The Basilic, a gin cocktail using fresh herbs was also solid, basil, apple, lemongrass and yuzu with a basil foam, lovely presentation and full of herbal aroma. I finished off the evening with the Vanilla Sky: Bourbon Whiskey, Talisker 10, vanilla and pear, a smoky old fashioned style cocktail, the bitter sweet taste was a perfect way to end the evening.

My visit to the Ozone turned out to be a fantastic experience, it is very different to your usual hotel bars that is for sure, with very modern and edgy decor with a feel almost like a night club in Mayfair. Cocktails here are also creative, along with a killer view, Ozone is definitely a destination if you ever visit Hong Kong.

118 International Commerce Centre / The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, 1 Austin Rd W, Hong Kong

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Cay Tre

Great "Tre"   

Once again I am back at one of the most iconic Vietnamese restaurants in Shoreditch, Cay Tre. I am a massive fan of Vietnamese cuisine, for me it is almost a cross between Thai and Chinese with a French influence in the mix, and Cay Tre is one of the few places in London that managed to pull it off without engineering it to suit the western palate. This time around we went as a large group and went for the less known dishes.  
Vietnamese feast!

Tim Ho Wan

Dim Sum specialist

Tim Ho Wan was probably the most debatable restaurant when one of its branches was awarded a Michelin star back in 2011. As the dim sum joint in more of a cafe/ fast food setting, with hardly any space between each table and where you're most likely to be rushed out as soon as you've finished your food, it is easy to understand why it caused a bit of a stir to foodies and media alike. I've eaten at one of its branches last year and returned to the Michelin rated one at Shan Shui Po as all the service madness aside, the dim sum at Tim Ho Wan is real value for money.

Tim Ho Wan

Monday 20 January 2014

Hong Zhou

Regional Chinese cuisine

Hong Zhou restaurant in Wan Chai, a Michelin rated restaurant is a little different to the usual Chinese restaurants you would encounter outside China, it offers regional cuisine in the style of Eastern China by the coast, from Hongzhou and Shanghai. While rice is hardly on the menu and well known for its very robust and rich flavours cooking. It is a popular place for dinner among the local politicians and governors in Hong Kong, so wondering what is the big deal about Hong Zhou, a group of us ended up there after a gathering for a late dinner. 

Saturday 18 January 2014

Din Tai Fung

From Shanghai to Taiwan

Din Tai Fung is a very successful restaurant chain from Taiwan, with restaurants spreading across the Far East, Australia and North America. The cooking style is a bit of a combination of Taiwanese and Shanghainese cuisine, due to the founder coming from Shanghai and who started to learn his trade in the restaurant business in Taiwan before setting up Din Tai Fung. Din Tai Fung these days is now a global restaurant chain with countless awards attached to its name with no less than a Michelin star in its Tsim Sha Tsui branch at Hong Kong.

Din Tai Fung's mascot

Thursday 16 January 2014

Pang's Kitchen

Comforting home cooking

Located near the world famous Hong Kong Jockey Club in Happy Valley, Pang's Kitchen is a single Michelin starred Chinese restaurant in the mood of simple comfort Cantonese cooking. It had become the talk of the city when it was awarded a star back in late 2012, the owner claimed that the star was actually damaging his business instead of helping it as the landlord saw that as an opportunity to increase the rent and the restaurant was struggling to the demand, with limited covers (only 30) and short of staff to cope with all the new customers flooding in after hearing the result. Whatever the outcome, nowadays it seem like it has becomes bit of a destination for tourists as I noticed on my arrival.

Pang's Kitchen

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Sun Tung Lok

Gourmet dim sum

Sun Tung Lok, a 2 star Michelin Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong specializing in shark fin dishes, it has been established for over 40 years and it has now relocated inside a shopping mall by the ever busy Nathan Road. Sun Tung Lok created a massive buzz when it was awarded 3 Michelin stars back in 2011, one of the only 2 Chinese restaurants to do so in the world at that time (Lung King Heen is the other one). The restaurant has adapted over the years in terms of cooking style, it has now a much broader range of offerings such as dried seafood. I heard it has some of the finest dim sum at lunch time so I booked in for a weekend visit to check it out.

Sun Tung Lok

The Time Traveller's Ball

Join in the fun on Thursday, 23, January

Yelp, an online urban guide is hosting "The Time Traveller's Ball" in the grand ballroom in the Grosvenor Square Marriott. The party will be for about 600 people in fancy dress and it will show off the best of local London in the past, present and future (hence the time travel theme). There will be free food, drinks, DJs, Twitter walls, casino games, ping pong, a photobooth in the back of a black London cab.... For the food and drinks lovers, expect some trendy street food from Big Apple Hot Dog and top notch craft beer from Brew Dog as well as classy cocktails from Jameson Irish Whiskey. (And many more!)

An award ceremony will also take place called "The Time Travellers' Awards", which are to celebrate the best of London's past in 2013 and looking forward to 2014. There are unique and different categories like "Best London Spot For A First Awkwardly-Adorable Online Date" Anyone can vote on those here if they have a favourite spot in London (and the winners will be announced at the Ball).

The event is free, to have a chance to attend please register on this link  RSVP on the official page to get on the waiting list.

For more information on the event, you can click here (Yelp Presents: The Time Travellers' Ball).

Sunday 12 January 2014

Hung's Delicacies

Marinated feast

Hung's Delicacies, a Chinese restaurant in North Point is all about traditional "Lou mei". Lou mei is a Chinese way of marinating/braising different types of meat and is usually made up of soy sauces, sugar, five spices, ginger and all kinds of local spices. It is a popular way to use leftover cuts or animals internal organs as the richness of the stock can cover off the overly bitterness and earthiness of the cheap cuts. Hung's Delicacies is famous for championing "Lou mei" but using fine quality meat which had created a buzz among the media and it has gained itself a Michelin star.
Hung's Delicacies

Friday 10 January 2014

Ming Court

Smart casual hotel lunch

Ming Court at the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok is regarded as one of the very best Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, popular to the locals as well as tourists, it has held 2 Michelin stars for 3 years but it was dropped to a 1 star rating in the 2014 edition. Not that I am bothered about it as I had a great dinner there last year and that was the reason I returned for lunch. I gathered that there was a new chef in charge who is the previous head chef's brother and ex executive chef at Fook Lam Moon, ranked as one of the Asia 50 best restaurants.
Ming court

Wednesday 8 January 2014

The Grill at The Dorchester

Christmas dinner with Zomato

Located in the The Dorchester Hotel, one of the most iconic hotels in London's Mayfair on Park Lane, The Grill offers British dishes with a touch of modern vibe. I was invited by the wonderful people from Zomato to join up for a foodies evening there. As you would expect from The Dorchester, the decor of The Grill was elegant and classy, plenty of height with traditional colours and patterns to represent the booming years of the Great British Empire.
mini lobster burgers

We were offered a special 3 course menu and started off with some canapes of mini lobster burgers followed by an amuse bounche of scallop. The lobster had a little too much mayo for my liking which covered the natural sweetness of the lobster meat. I also ordered some classic cocktails throughout the evening from the bar managed by the living cocktail legend Giuliano Morandin. My Sidecar had a perfect balance of Remy Martin, lemon juice and orange liqueur, as I would expect from the old school master.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Cafe Murano

Casual Italian joy

Cafe Murano by Angela Hartnett on St James Street is a new Italian restaurant on the former site of the original, much celebrated Petrus. Heavily focused on Northern Italian food with a regular changing menu depending on available fresh ingredients. The concept of Cafe Murano is pretty much Murano but in a much more casual and simpler manner, diners can have a quick lunch by the bar or just a single item off the menu instead of a full on meal which is ideal for people with little time but demanding high quality food at the same time.


Warm octopus was tender and moist, great flavour delivered by the well blended pesto with chickpeas in the mix. The sweet and sour mackerel was nicely seasoned, the raisins enhanced the rich flavour from the mackerel while the pinenuts added a nice crunchy texture, I just love how Italians handle seafood, simple ingredients but with bold and flavoursome outcomes.
truffle arancini
warm octopus, chickpeas, pesto
mackerel, raisins, pinenuts