Central, Hong Kong Restaurant

Souvla

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Honestly, we were expecting a small Greek restaurant with just a few tables covered in blue and white so we were pleasantly surprised when the stairs led us up to a 150-seater restaurant and bar. We were led to our sofa booth table, staffs were welcoming and the red in the decor brought warmth to this spacious spot. I was delighted to know that there’s an area on the side which can be cornered off as a private room for big parties.

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I love how playful the menu is, with cute illustration of famous Greek Mythology characters (J: Hercules looks like some Disney lead character, and he does! With that dashing grin). We ordered a few dishes with the help of the friendly staff

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The dolma was ok but i wish the vine leaf were a tad more tender. I literally dropped my half eaten dolma when the saganaki arrived coz it looked and smelled so good!! :p

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The saganaki (fried cheese served on frying pan) was a must try, the firm yet gooey dollop of golden goodness has intense cheese flavors that went very well with the sweet fig marmalade and a drizzle of lemon juice.

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Scallop was grilled to perfection with its soft raw centre while the creamy manouri cheese with tsoireki (sweet fragrant Greek Easter bread) crumbs brought out the simple subtle sweetness of fresh scallop. The almond skordalia served underneath the scallop was delicious! Almond skordalia is a popular Greek speciality which is thick almond and garlic dip it was tasty without overpowering the scallop.

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The souvas, mini pita wraps, had lamb, herbs, tomato, mustarad aioli, French fries and onions wrapped in pillowy bouncy pita bread arrived in the “bendover box” **geeky laughter** (bento- greek style). The lamb was very tasty though the dish was a tad too starchy between the pita and the fries.

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The slow cooked lamb was incredibly tender and was saturated with intense flavors of lamb without being too gamey, any heaviness was offset by a dash of lemon and a dab of yogurt.We also ordered the Cypriot salad on Viv’s recommendation (Viviano Romito, owner of the place.) He said this salad compliments the lamb really well and he was so right!! The salad was light and delicious with contrasting textures and flavors with pops of pomegranate seeds and crunchy nuts and seeds, sweet raisin, cumin, fresh herbs, dash of honey, and the all refreshing yogurt.

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Golden Greek time- What’s not to love about this dish? Initially I was a bit hesitant about it since I don’t eat anything deep fried but it wasn’t greasy at all. The vanilla mastiki ice cream with chocolate center was slightly chewy like Turkish ice cream and not overly sweet. The honeycomb on the side added crunch to the divine dish. And did I mention salted caramel? I almost drown my quarter in the rich and luscious salted caramel. Needless to say, I was very satisfied at this point

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The bill came up to be just under $250 per person, which was well worth it! Souvla was definitely something above our expectations in terms of quality of food, ambience and service! The dishes came out swiftly and even the hot dishes were pretty quick. We loved most of the dishes and I can’t wait to go back and try their baklava cigars! I LOVE baklava!!

Souvla,
1/F, Ho Lee Comm Building,
40 D’Aguilar Street,
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2522 1823

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Brunch spot, Central, Hong Kong Restaurant

Shelter Lounge

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I’ve always been on the lookout for new brunch places and Shelter Lounge came onto the radar. Despite being located in the quiet lane of New street (the street behind Heirloom and Queen Trattoria), this place was far from being a secret hideout. Most of the tables were filled on a lazy Sunday and walk-ins were turned away as the place was fully booked

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I love how open Shelter Lounge felt, the communal table on the first floor was the center piece and even though all seats were filled it did feel overly crowded or that I was sitting on the laps of the people next to us. The ceiling to floor windows let in ample sunlight and it felt so refreshing and bright just sitting around, chilling.
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We picked from the brunch menu; I was in the mood for burger (again) so I picked the portobello burger? I know… for some reason I kept imagining that the portobello burger would come with meat and of course it din (DUH!). We also wanted the beef burger which we were told the item was sold out for the day but mysteriously appeared on a couple of other tables after we were done with our food hmmm… Brunch was not impressive but I wanted to try the rest of the menu so I returned again for dinner a couple of days later

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Shelter Lounge was definitely quieter on a week night, the first floor was dotted with 2,3 tables of patrons while the second floor dining room was half filled. We got a little carried away and order almost half the items of the menu. Before we knew it, the table was just covered with dishes and we had to cancel the pork belly coz we were just too stuffed

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The seafood and fennel salad was ok, the yuzu soy dressing was tad on the salty side and most of the dish was left untouched

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The beetroot salad with orange, mache, feta & white balsamic on the other hand was very good. The cirusy orange, sweet beetroot, salty creamy feta and sweet nutty mache are blend together in this light and refreshing perfect summer salad

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Forest mushroom black truffle cream with natto egg with toast had deep aroma and flavors while natto egg added gooey texture to the mushroom

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Seared scallops with pancetta, pea, onion foam had the perfect texture, soft and still raw and soft in the inside and beautifully caramelized on the sides. The pancetta, pea and onion foam on the side was made well while the scallop itself was a bit bland. I added sprinkled a few grains of salt on top of it and it instantly brought out the natural sweetness of fresh scallops.

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Steamed clams in chorizo and baby cabbage with bruschetta sauce, the tangy, flavorful chorizo sauce went very well with the lightness of fresh and firm clams.

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Miso cod eggplant, turnip, pickled ginger shoot was gone so fast I knew it was the crowd pleaser of the night. The miso added just the right amount of sweetness to the silky smooth, soft, buttery cod.

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Slow cook duck breast with pickled red cabbage was alright, the duck breast was a little tough to my liking even though it was perfectly pink on the inside

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Grilled hanger steak was grilled to perfection; nicely pink on the inside and slightly charred on the sides. The deep flavor was brought out with just a bit of salt and a dot of mustard.

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They are currently not serving alcohol beverages yet so corkage is free =) Do call ahead and check if conditions still holds before bring cases of wine along with you. Also, there’s a private dining area for about 18-20 people if you have a big group!  

Shelter Lounge
Shop A, G/f & 1/F, Universal Building
5-13 New Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tuesday to Friday 12.00 – 23.00
Saturday to Sunday 10.00 – 23.00
Public Holidays 10.00 – 23.00
Tel: 2517 6211
http://www.shelterlounge.com.hk

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Central, Hong Kong Restaurant

Mano

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Since I’m chained to the desk all day at work, there’s really not a lot of choices when it comes to getting takeout for lunch around my area so when Mano opened its door to the Central working crowd, I was eager to get a taste of it!!

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Mano had been updating their facebook fan page with delicious looking dishes.

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First look at this new addition to the L place was that Mano resembled simply life or now called “Open kitchen”, where it serves fresh pastries, salad, soups and mains. While the decor  of the dining area reminded me of greyhound cafe with the black and white theme, exposed light bulbs etc

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I was greeted by friendly and helpful staff as soon as I walked in, you could choose to get salad in big or small bowl or a main + salad. I looked at the mains and the salmon caught my eyes so I picked the salmon steak with my choice of salad.

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That’s the big bowl I ordered

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The salmon was perfectly pink on the inside but perhaps it had gotten cold by the time I got back to my desk, it was a tad on the dry side (it was quite a walk from IFC to the L place). I picked a mix of barley + edamame, butternut squash and broccoli as salad. The bill came up to $118 which is pretty reasonable. On days that I feel like being bit healthy I would go to Liberty Exchange for their maple glazed salmon steak which at almost $200 and about the same size as the one in Mano has not much “salad” to offer except for a few leaves. The big Mano bowl was filled to the brim, after I finished the salmon and a few pieces of butternut squash and broccoli I had to save almost half of its content for afternoon tea! I like that the salad weren’t excessively dressed, the broccoli was simply grilled and the sweet and nutty butternut squash was just roasted. I particularly like the barley and edamame salad, the crunchiness of edamame and the slight chewiness of barley offer contrasting texture and the dish was light and tasted like it was just dressed lightly with a drizzle of lemon juice.

Am looking forward to trying the rest of their menu soon!

The L Place,

139 Queen’s Road Central

+852 23847339

http://www.manohk.com

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Central, Hong Kong Restaurant

Chôm Chôm

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Since I wasn’t too wowed by their private kitchen, I wasn’t exactly in a rush to check it out when they opened their new branch in soho. Yes, I’m typically skeptical about the floor to ceiling windowed pretty hangouts; there had been too many of those popping up in the past year and mostly with little substance. Not to mention the kinda crowd they typically draw. But Cel, Lisa and I just wanted a place that’s chill, fun and convenient so we decided to check Chôm Chôm out.

All the tables were taken by the time we got to the restaurant at 7pm; Cel was waiting for us at the bar and since I was really keen on sitting at the bar to enjoy the full view of the open kitchen we gladly took the bar table. One of the pros of sitting at the bar is that you get to see what comes out of the kitchen, and you can just point and order. The sous chef explained that the lights are designed in such a way that you can take pretty pictures of the food at the bar, as well as taking pictures of the food being prepared behind the bar! How thoughtful! =)
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Given a choice, I’d always stick to room temperature or hot drinks so when I saw that there were practically no hot drinks on the menu, I ordered an “Ice tea without Ice”. Cel couldn’t stop laughing but there IS a difference between “just tea” and “Ice tea without ice”!! Tea is just plain tea but Ice tea without ice is basically ice tea with all that mint leaf and whatever herb and sugar and spice that go in minus the ice served at room temperature!

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Chôm Chôm’s menu consisted of interpretation of classic dishes and street food as well as craft beer and Vietnamese inspired cocktails. Chef Peter Cuong Franklin, who’s also the owner of Chôm Chôm private kitchen, was born and raised in Vietnam. The love of food brought this Yale graduate to Cordon Bleu and he had trained and worked at top restaurants in Chicago, Bangkok and Hanoi since then. Wanting to introduce the Bia Hoi culture (sipping freshly brewed beer on street corners while munching on street food) to HK, he turned his private kitchen into this chic neighborhood hangout.

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Salmon Tartar served with fried prawn crackers. The salmon tartar mixed with lime, salmon roe, red onion was refreshing and packed with flavors. The salmon roe added bursts of salty deliciousness to the sour and spicy dish. I loved using the crackers to spoon out the salmon tartar, adding texture to the dish

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Shaking Beef -Beef Tenderloin, Watercress & Rocket Salad. I know this dish was supposed to be eaten with rice, but the tenderloin was a tad too salty and I would prefer it to be bit more tender

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Bun Cha Pork Skewers Pork Belly, Pork Shoulder, Vermicelli, Nuoc Cham. Pork was tender and juicy on the inside, slightly charred with subtle smokiness on the outside, I usually dread having pork belly just coz I hate the texture of chunky fats. This dish was actually pretty well balanced with the nuoc cham (fish sauce mixed with lime, garlic and sugar)

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Pho Rolls Grilled Beef, Fresh Rice Noodle, Pickles, Purple Basil
The pho rolls reminds me of the Chinese rice noodle rolls (usually with char siew or shrimps inside), I din quite like the texture of this pho roll, it felt a little too thick and the texture was bit flat. The flavor wasn’t very memorable either

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We saw the chef preparing this dish and we just couldn’t stop staring so we ended up getting one for ourselves too Cha Ca Hanoi White Sole Fillet, Turmeric, Dill, Vermicelli. BEST dish of the day! The sides of the fillet were slightly crispy and added an interestingly slight chewy, caramelized texture to the tenderness of the tofu-like softness inside. I could have another order on my own

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chef: this is on the house, would you gals like to try it?
us: since you insist, we’ll take it :p
Kaffir Lime Chicken Cabbage Salad Red Onion, Jicama, Rau Ram- The fried chicken was surprisingly light, I really don’t usually eat fried stuff but this had a good balance with the cabbage salad removing any hint of greasiness in the chicken

We REALLY, like really really really, wanted to have the Viet Coffee Affogato Saigon Cinnamon Ice Cream, Caramelized Condensed Milk, Rice Krispies! Just the sound of it made me drool! But the tragedy of life is that they aren’t serving that dish that night 😥
us: WHAT?! How can you tease us with this tempting dessert on your menu and not serve it?
chef: can I at least explain why we aren’t serving it us ** covering our ears** Lalalalalalalalala
us: NO! we demand to have it! really really!!!
Chef: (-_-“) the weather is too hot and our freezer isn’t ready so we can’t serve this dish… I can give you fruit platter on the house!
us: NO!**stamp feet** we want the other one!!!!

Cel almost had to drag L and I out of Chom Chom before we throw a tandrum.. ok fine… I was exaggerating, we were very well behaved and resigned to fate after we stamped our feet. But note to self, I’m coming back for drinks and this drool inducing dessert! I heard they have really good cocktails, L had a call after and Cel wasn’t feeling very well so we opted for non alcoholic drinks instead.

The bill came up to under $300 per person which is really very reasonable for the location and the quality of food served. Thou with TBLS‘s awesome Vietnamese menu still fresh in my mind, it is a tough one to compete with. I really liked the buzzing vibe at Chom Chom, it was everything we thought we wanted, fun, casual and not overly crowded. The chefs and crew were friendly, I would highly recommend the bar table if you have just a group of 2 or 3s. It really added to the whole dining experience here, the only downside was that we kinda smelled like food after the dinner.

G/F Block A
No. 58-60 Peel Street
Central, Hong Kong
Open Monday to Sunday
6PM till late
No reservations

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