Brunch spot, Hong Kong Restaurant

Caféine

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Located on the quieter end of Queen’s Road Central is this cozy cafe- Cafeine reminded me of Café O with its red and white deco. The ambience is cheerful and easygoing and staffs are very friendly. Chef and owner Dean moved from Brisbane to Hong Kong and brought with him delicious dishes he’d been serving for years back in the original Cafeine in Brisbane.

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It was hard to decide what to eat as Cafeine offers a good selection of brunch dishes as well as pastas and desserts

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We started with the trio soup –Tomato with pesto, pumpkin, mushroom with truffle oil. The pumpkin soup was my favorite out of the three, it was rich and complex in flavor. The subtle sweetness and richness from the pumpkin, the saltiness and melt in your mouth lightness from feta cheese and heat from ginger and a secret paste added complexity to the seemingly simple looking soup

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The sandwiches were all very good, I love the texture of Turkish bread, how it’s chewy and crispy all at once on the outside and airy and soft on the inside. Grilled sandwich with feta, spinach, sundried tomato and pesto was my favorite. The flavors went very well with each other.
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Porcini mushroom and feta omelette with toast– while the omelette looked like soufflé, the texture was more like Spanish omelette or a crustless quiche, I liked how the mushrooms were like sponges, releasing moisture and flavors with each bite. The tomato almost stole the show, the homemade pesto on top of the grilled tomato brought out the sweetness of the tomato while balancing the tanginess in the tomato =)

The other dishes tried around our table:

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Poached eggs, truffled mushrooms, roast tomato and hollandaise was a simple dish done well.

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Banana and walnut bread was served hot, it was crunchy on the outside from the baking and the salted butter and maple syrup caramelized the outside while the inside is moist and soft. The generous portion of walnut added texture and nuttiness to the banana bread

Cafeine

Friendly service, probably one of the best, understated brunch food in the area. I would go back (again, haha even though I’ve been twice already) for their trio of soup, the poached eggs truffled mushrooms, roast tomato and hollandaise and the porcini mushroom and feta omelete w toast

Caféine
Shop A, G/F,
The Putman,
202 Queens Road Central,
Sheung Wan
T: 2544 1988

 

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Travel

Jordan -> Mount Sinai -> Israel

I just got back from a 12-day trip to Israel/ Jordan, it was easily one of the most fulfilling trips I’d been on. It was physically tiring especially with a packed schedule, waking up at mostly 6:30 am every morning (1am on the morning we went to Mount Sinai) but the breathtaking views we had seen were worth every inch of muscle pain.

Piggy catching a glimpse of the promised land on Mount Nebo

Piggy catching a glimpse of the promised land on Mount Nebo

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Seeing the milky way with our naked eyes on the way up to Mount Sinai at 2am in the morning was enough to distract me from the chill (it’s really cold up there before sunrise) and the discomfort from the 1.5 hours camel ride up the hill. The 45 minute mad rush/ climb up to the peak just in time to catch the sunrise and then walking down Steps of Repentance (consists of some 3,750 steps) was stretching my body to the limit (especially for the ridiculous lazy me, who never even own a gym membership in my life!). Thankfully we got to dip in the dead sea that very night and floating in the dead sea while watching stars above us was definitely something we don’t get to do everyday.

The bible came to live as we walked the footsteps of Moses, King Solomon, King David and later Jesus himself and the highlight of the trip was our amazing Israeli guide, David, who is a walking bible/ history book/ Ultimate Weapons (discovery channel weapon show). He added so much depth to our understanding of the bible, political situations, wars fought, history etc. It was truly a blessed trip beyond our wildest dreams! Our trip ended the best way possible (well staying another few days or weeks wasn’t an option) his mom invited us over to her house for a home cooked Jewish Friday night dinner where she was hosting a big dinner for local youth, we got to interact while enjoying mom’s cooking 😉 With tears in our eyes (true story) we said goodbye to our awesome guide and to Israel, which we grew to love. And we’d decided that it won’t be long before we return again 😉

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Of course, I can’t go anywhere without consuming ridiculous amount of food :p I might have had more hummus, falafel and kebab on this trip than I’ve ever consumed in my life :p More detailed update to follow as I’m still going through my pictures.

Have a great Monday guys! 🙂

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Travel

SF Eats III

cologna

Cotogna‘s Ravioli Di Ricotta with Farm Egg, aka, heart attack in a bite, was an insanely sinful dish with a giant ravioli swimming in a pool of molten brown butter. As the knife cut into the ravioli, the egg yolk that was sitting on top of the pillowy soft creamy riotta cheese oozed out. I thought of sharing that dish initially but… nah.. not this one =)

Add: 490 PACIFIC AVENUE, SAN FRANCISCO

T: 415.775.8508

SR1SRsushi ran

Sushi Ran serves one of the best sushi in SF (i’m gonna blog about THE best on my next post), the blue fin fatty tuna roll was so good, the tuna literally melted in my mouth =)

ADD: 107 Caledonia St.  Sausalito

T: (415) 332-3620.

Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner nightly.  

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Travel

SF Eats II

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Tartine is famous for its pastry, I’d read all about their famous morning bun and all the lip smacking pastries that are churned out from their ovens. I planned to get there at 7:30 am in the morning just to avoid the crowd. I’d drawn out routes to take from my hotel at Union Square by train (I think?) to Mission Distrinct where Tartine is at and I overslept =’( I hoped into a cab in a panic (food related panic) and arriving at 9:15 am on a Tuesday morning! there was already a long line around the block outside Tartine **cry**

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As much as I hate lining up, the tempting smell of fresh pastry (= the smell of happiness) saturated the air and hovered around the block, there’s no turning back now. Since it was packed to the brim, I decided to get takeout as and eat as I stroll along the Mission District. Once I got into the store, I was like a kid in Candyland (not just candystore) **eyes widened and sparkled with joy and excitement** I was careful NOT to embarrass myself by sticking my face onto the glass and drool as I checked out all the pastries on display. I’m seriously not good at making decision when presented with choices, especially SO MANY OF THEM!!! So I got the simplest pastries – the croissant and the double au pain chocolate. Both of them were decadent, rich, flaky with all the buttery goodness, pure scrumptious, the double au pain uses dark chocolate which oozes out on every bite **drool**

I would love to go back and try EVERYTHING on their menu!!

Tartine Bakery & Cafe
600 Guerrero Street or
561 Valencia St
(415) 487-2600

Bi – Rite Creamery is just around the corner from Tartine, check out the flavors on their website!! # # trifecta a scoop of each: salted caramel, brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, and malted vanilla with peanut brittle and chocolate. BEST ICE CREAM EVER!

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St
‎(415) 626-5600
biritecreamery.com‎

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Travel

SF Eats I

Hope you guys enjoyed the 3 blog posts on Istanbul Eats as much as I enjoyed writing them, I thought I could do some posts on my other food recommendations outside of HK. The first city I thought of was SF, it has some of my favorite restaurants/food on earth.

A friend who loves to travel and eat recommended Boulette ‘s Larder as the perfect brunch place with outdoor seating and apparently the best egg dishes. Even though I missed their brunch the first time I went since they don’t serve brunch on days where the farmer’s market is on, I was happy to have stumbled upon the farmer’s market which offers a great variety of delectable food. And I went back the next day to try BL’s egg dishes and it was definitely worth going back for!

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boulette larder

Boulette ‘s Larder serves the fluffiest egg dishes, not only were the eggs creamy, tender but they were also so light and fluffy! BL only have tables to serve brunch on days where the farmer’s market isn’t on, farmer’s market is on Tue, Thur and Sat

Boulette’s Larder
1 Ferry Bldg # 48
(415) 399-1155

bouletteslarder.com

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Get the cheeseburger from 4505 Meats, there’s a line typically but it’s definitely worth the wait. The patty was juicy, not overly seasoned but so full of beef flavor from the freshly made patty. The homemade scallion bun, moisturized by the patty juice, the mezzo seco cheese and the home made secret sauce was not soggy but had this buttery crunch that was just indescribable =)

Farmer’s market at Ferry building
Tuesday: 10am–2pm
Thursday: 10 am – 2pm
Saturday: 8am-2pm

http://www.4505meats.com/

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Hong Kong Restaurant

TBLS- Vietnamese Menu ;)

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TBLS is my favorite private kitchen, more than just a feast to the eyes, Chef Que’s creation keeps the whole table going wow.. nom… yum… throughout the 6- course dinner! The anticipation starts long before the actual dinner, (what’s gonna be in the burger? What’s gonna be the flavor of the ice cream in the macaroon?) Even though the menu changes every month according to the theme of the month, there’s typically a burger and a soup, a palette cleanser, an ice- cream macaroon. When I heard that Vietnamese cuisine was going to be the theme for the month of May, I couldn’t wait to try it! Maybe we get to try some secret recipes that have been passed down in Chef Que’s family? **viv rubs hands together in anticipation**

Finally this glorious day has come! I had to stop myself from drooling just from looking at the menu!!

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Amuse bouche was a jelly that tasted like broth and a tiny chunk of meat that was so packed with flavor I named it the dynamite. Mmmm… this is gonna be good **all smiles**

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Beef Phở Two Ways-
Phở Broth with Tapioca
Braised Oxtail Banh Mi with Pickled Daikon and Carrots

The braised oxtail banh mi was hearty and saturated (in the best way possible) with flavor while the sourness and lightness of pickled daikon and carrots balances any heaviness in the oxtail. The pho broth was rich and light all at one, it was rich in flavor, savory and almost slightly sweet and yet it doesn’t feel heavy. The surprise was in the tapioca in the bottom of the bowl, I knew it’s not pho but it felt like I was biting on pho while drinking the broth.

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Lobster Bánh Bèo
Steamed Rice Cake with Lobster, Crab and Cilantro

The Banh Beo was a small thin steamed rice cake with a chewy, slightly sticky texture. The lobster and crab meat were firm with a good bite, the sauce was heavenly, sour-ish and sweet fish sauces with a little hot red chilli, crushed peanuts and fried shallot flakes enhances flavors. The dish was sweet, sour, spicy all at once!

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Lemongrass Hamachi Tartar
Green Mango, Cherry Tomato and Mint Salad, Squid Ink Nước Mắm

A symphony of great flavors and textures with the sour- sweetness of green mango, the freshness and crunchiness of the cherry tomato, the mini pops of flavors of the sea from the sea grapes, the refreshing mint with the lemongrass Hamachi tartar, and the squid ink Nước Mắm which finishes off the dish with a spicy note =)

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Grilled Iberico Pork
Rice Gnocchi Sauteed with Crispy Minced Pork, Wood Ear Mushrooms and Long Beans

Rice Gnocchi looked like mini banh hoi (steamed rice vermicelli cake) and has the texture of that resembles a cross between banh hoi and grilled mochi (it’s light like banh hoi yet chewy gooey like grilled mochi). The grilled iberio pork tasted like lemongrass pork chop except that it’s so much more succulent, the melt in your mouth richness and the deep flavor of iberico pork.. mmmm… **wipe drool**

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The palette cleanser was a lime, sugarcane and mint sorbet, it was literally a mojito melting in my mouth. It’s so refreshing and prepped me for the sweet treats that were coming my way!

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Roasted Pineapple Sticky Rice Balls, Soursop and Yogurt Sorbet

The sticky rice balls looked like a ball of tadpole dyed green, the layer wrapping all the tadpole was very thin, it’s kinda like popping roe, except that it’s not salty. The soursop and yogurt sorbet had just the right balance of sour and sweetness, when eaten with the roasted pineapple, brought about this sour, sweet tanginess in the tongue

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Vietnamese Coffee Macaroon Sandwich
Coffee and Cardamon Ice Cream, Condense Milk Jelly

The signature dish that I’d been looking forward to – the macaroon! I knew it! when I saw Chef Que I was like I knew it I knew it!! Z and I were talking about this Vietnamese menu before the menu came out and I was hoping that the macaroon would be inspired by Vietnamese drip coffee! ** Dreams come true moment**

The condense milk jelly gave the macaroon the appearance of a cheese burger  ;p I love the intense aroma of cardamom, the strong coffee flavor, the light yet chewy macaroons. While I like the texture of condensed milk jelly, I thouoght the flavor of condense milk was overpowered by the Vietnamese coffee ice-cream

I shamelessly asked for a third dessert course, coz there’s always space for more dessert right? Right? *silence all around*

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So there it was… tada! Meringue atop mango sago, lemongrass creme anglaise chili and lime with tapioca- where do I even start? It looks like Mango pomelo sago/楊枝甘露 but the flavors were more complex, first off the subtle heat from the tiny slices of red chili that made the dish interesting; the meringue was fluffy, light with a soft chewy center =) the citrusy fragrance of the lemon grass, the sweetness from the mango, and the creaminess of the crème anglaise =)

“Satisfied” was an understatement, I can’t wait for the new menu next month!!! Thanks Chef Que!!

Add: 7th Floor, 31 Hollywood Road

Central, Hong Kong
T: +852-2544-3433 reservation is absolutely necessary
Hours: Monday to Saturday 7:00pm to Midnight (Dinner Only)


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Hong Kong Restaurant

Catalunya

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When the mastermind behind the Michelin 3 starred El Bulli, Ferran Adrià, came to Hong Kong for the Sotheby’s wine auction, he dropped by Catalunya’s opening and that, to me, put the “must try” stamp on the restaurant. Although the restaurant boast a solid El Bulli alumni, both the executive chef Alain Devahive Tolosa and restaurant manager Pol Perelló had more than 10 year of experience working at El Bulli, molecular wonders aren’t the focus. Instead, it is about doing authentic, traditional dishes from Catalonia which is diverse and complex, with heavy influence from Spain and France.

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We started with the Pa amb tomaquet, which is an iconic Catalan dish that’s basically, “bread with tomato, olive oil and salt”. And Catalunya nailed this simple sounding dish, we gave thumbs up all around as we loved how crispy, fluffy and airy the toast were

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I liked the chewy texture of the Cod Fish Esquixada, this traditional dish of shredded cod served with olive dressing, tomato, vinegar and spring onion was every bit appetizing and refreshing.

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Tomato tartar came with thin crispy wafer, I liked the intense tomato flavor in this beef tartar look-alike dish.

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The Bombas were our favorite; they were kinda like croquette, crispy on the outside and soft and melty in the inner layer; the center was stuffed with minced beef and pork which was slightly spicy, leaving slight tingle at the back of your tongue

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The bikini, which was highly recommended, was thin crispy toast with black truffle, a slice of ham and mozzarella cheese. While we were allured by the heavy, intense black truffle aroma, the mozzarella cheese were less “gooey” than we hoped for. In fact, we agreed around the table that we prefer the grilled cheese sandwich from 001.

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The lobster rice was very tasty; short grain rice was cooked al dente in lobster juice and fish stock releasing intense lobster flavor. The lobster meat on top was plump and juicy while small bits of squid and tomato puree were added the rice to give a different texture.

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The melt in your mouth thinly slicked Jamon Iberico was packed with flavor

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The suckling pig with lemon puree was served whole on wooden cutting board; I was feeling really bad about it as the baby pig looks soundly and peacefully asleep. To show how tender the piglet was, the waiter sliced it into pieces with a ceramic plate, when he cut off the poor piglet’s head, it felt like a “豬頭鍘侍候~~ “/guillotine moment =( at the end of the “slicing” the waiter breaks the plate as a sign a good luck. I felt less uneasy once the chunks of the piglet were served on our individual plate and it no longer resemble piggy. The piglet was indeed very tender and juicy with a strong aroma or rosemary.

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Even though we were quite stuffed at this point, no proper meal can end without a few dessert courses! We ordered the cheese flan, the rice and milk pudding, the chocolate cake, and the creamy almond sponge.

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For those who know me, I’m a huge chocolate fan so I was excited to try the Chocolate in different texture, which consist of dark chocolate brownie, dark chocolate ganache, passion fruit milk chocolate ice cream, white chocolate ganache, chocolate sauce and chocolate biscuit. Maybe coz I’ve had something similar at 22ships before, I wasn’t “wow”ed by Catalunya’s version.

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All in all, I think their savory dishes were mostly decent, I especially liked the bombas and the Pa amb tomaquet. Hopefully on my next visit, they would have better, more memorable desserts. I typically won’t even share my dessert but we din finish any of the four desserts we ordered =( They seem to have quite a bit of work to do to live up to all that hype. We went more than two weeks ago, and I’ve heard good reviews from friends who have gone recently, so perhaps they have already improved! =)

Ambience wise, I like how spacious the restaurant is, the tables were well spaced out to give you room to breathe in this city where the rarest commodity is probably space. I would prefer it to be a bit less dim, I’ve seen pictures of their food in daylight and I’m sure that would have enhanced the experience too.

Address: G/F Guardian House,

32 Oi Kwan Road, Wan Chai

 www.catalunya.hk

T: 2866 7900

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Hong Kong Restaurant

Mayta Peruvian Kitchen & Pisco Bar

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El Bulli’s Ferran Adriá predicted that Peruvian cuisine will take over the world and rightly so, Peruvian cuisine is exciting, complex and multi-layered, from the usage of vast variety of native ingredients like the hundreds/ thousands different types of potatoes, corn and peppers to being under the widest range of global influence from Africa, Spain and Italy and from migrants. My first encounter with Peruvian cuisine was at Chicha, and even though they are pretty overpriced and some dishes are really below average, I LOVE the “Oh My Cod” (grilled skewer of black cod) and the scallop ceviche. When I heard that a new Peruvian restaurant was opening, I was excited to check it out.

Mayta transformed the space formerly occupied by blue smoke into a colorful Peruvian spot. Mayta’s menu was designed by the renowned Peruvian chef Jaime Pesaque whose rapidly growing global restaurant empire includes two restaurants in Peru, one in Uruguay, Miami and New York. His restaurant Mayta in Lima was highlighted as a recommendation for its region by 50bestrestaurant.com. Once we picked up the menu, we were busy checking out the many choices (reading the explanation of each dish) on the menu and with a bit of help from the friendly staff we picked a handful of savory dishes to start with.

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The Solterito Salad was refreshing, appetizing and sumptuous; I loved the chewy, fluffy- lightness of quinoa and the chewy Peruvian white corn contrasting the crispy taro chips while the cherry tomato complimented the tangy and sweet miso dressing. The salmon chunks, the fava beans with their buttery texture and lovely nutty flavor and the stroke of creamy dreamy avocado mouse added richness to the salad.

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Pan Con Chicharron was literally a party in a bun with layers of textures and flavors – the white bun reminds me of the bun used in Kong Bak Pau (pork belly bun) – the puffy, bouncy yet pillowy soft bun contrast the crispy taro chips and the fried fatty pork which was also crispy, tender and flavorful at the same time. The pickled onions and spicy, tangy and rich aji rocoto aioli sauce took away any hint of greasiness.

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The Arroz Con Pato, aka the duck rice, served in a skillet. Fall-off-the-bone confit duck leg and moist pink sliced duck meat atop rice infused with Peruvian beer, dotted with peas and bell pepper. Rice was flavorful and cooked al dente while the duck meat was succulent and tender.

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The Lomo Saltado Completo is a classic Peruvian dish stir-frying Peruvian meat and French fries, onions and tomato served with rice on the side. Mayta’s version was served in a wok featuring sunny side up and fat French fries on top of stripes of juicy steak which was first slow cooked in vacuum (sous- vide) and then stir fried with soy sauce, rice vinegar and tomato. Underneath the steak was Tacu tacu with a piece of starchy plantain in the middle; Tacu tacu is essentially Peruvian yellow pepper paste rice and bean fried cake.

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When the Causas arrived, there were “wow”s all around, we were delighted with the beautiful presentation, triplets of different colored seasoned mashed potato balls topped with seafood. While they were a feast to the eyes, the flavors were not as impressive. The octopus with the Peruvian sweet potato was really bad, the octopus was fishy and mushy. I couldn’t spit it out fast enough =( The salmon tartare on top of the purple mashed potato was much better. The sweet, subtle nutty flavor and creamy texture of the mash offered a good contrast to the refreshing salmon tartare.

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Suspiro de limeña, literal translation: the sigh of a lima woman, is a luscious traditional Peruvian dessert consist of silky manjar blanco (local version of dulce de leche or toffee) custard topped with meringue. While the manjar blanco was creamy and silky it was lacking intensity, in fact, I thought it was really bland. The pieces of grilled pineapple were supposed to bring sweet tanginess to contrast the creamy mixture underneath it but fell flat unfortunately. The olive oil ice cream was pretty weak, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was olive oil had I not read the menu. The only saving grace of the dish was the cookie, it was surprisingly and delightfully crunchy/ crispy even though it was buried in ice cream and manjar blanco =)

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Leaves of Chocolate Caramel layered with pistachio cream with banana Ice cream on the side. The pistachio cream was velvety smooth and decadently rich with prominent pistachio flavor. The banana ice cream was quite bland too, it had nothing much to contribute except for the sharp coldness.

When the bill came we were quite surprised that it came up to be less than $500 per person where each of us had a drink (I had the pisco sour which was pretty strong). Given that most of the food was decent and that I liked the lively yet not annoyingly busy or loud vibe. I would go back to try more dishes especially their ceviche and anticuchos which we got too sidetracked by the other choices on the menu and forgot to order. Portions are generally good for sharing, except for dishes like the Pan Con Chicarron and the Causas which came in threes which made sharing amongst the four of us a bit messy.

Add: 3/F, Grand Progress Building,

15 Lan Kwai Fong, Central

T: 2790-0928

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