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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Hong Kong Restaurant

Fatty Crab

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It took me a long time to finally say yes to trying fatty crab; I’ve read lots of buzz before its opening but somehow invasion of NY names hasn’t lived up to the hype. Motorino, Boqueria, Lupa just to name a few, it seems like they don’t even try, and people think they sound uber cool just saying “ Oh you know I was just at this new restaurant, it’s really famous in NY! OMG, it’s so awesome!” SERIOUSLY?! (-_-“)

Anyways, it doesn’t help that it’s serving Malaysian cuisine. I grew up in Singapore, spoiled by the authentic no fuss Malaysian cuisine so readily available so I was very skeptical trying a New Yorker take on chili crab.

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It feels like most of the newly opened restaurants look very similar; Fatty Crab felt like a cross between Chomp Chomp, Three Monkeys and Chachawan, with the old Hong Kong style plates and mugs and raw cement walls and the black framed windows. I felt like I was slowly merging all those restaurants in my head :p I’m not so sure about the loud music, nor the virtually ZERO privacy between tables. I get that heart pumping music gives energy and adds a somewhat trendy vibe to a restaurant. But the music was almost as loud if not louder than Yardbird! We had to shout across to carry on a conversation. And the tables were so close to each other, multiple times I had stuff (I suspect it’s crab shells or sauce) landing on my arms from the tables next to me. The good news is, you don’t have to worry about the next table eavesdropping since it’s almost impossible to hear what ur friend sitting across from you is saying half the time!

At least the service was good, we tried consoling ourselves; the chap who showed us to our table was friendly and welcoming and the waitress who served us was bubbling and enthusiastic. She explained that they usually recommend two skinny (lighter dishes) and two fatty (heavier dishes) and a dessert.

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My eyes went straight to the fatty slider since I’m on my burger crave, the spiced beef burgers, sambal aioli, pickled cucumber sounded delightful, the patty was juicy but it was a definite letdown on the “sambal” department, nothing really spicy about this dish really. The burger left me so unsatisfied I ordered the burger from Chinnery at the Mandarin Hotel the very next day

Burger from Chinnery, Mandarin. hands down a much better choice
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The sea scallop was overcooked, and the acute flavor of the papaya salad totally overwhelmed the delicate subtle sweetness of scallop (if they even cooked it right). The salad itself was pretty good, spicy yet light at the same time but they are probably better off sticking to using prawns for this salad

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The watermelon pickle and crispy pork was a much better dish(might have just been by comparison to the first two dishes) the watermelon was refreshing and the crispy pork was nicely charred with the right amount of fats to meat ratio that made it tender and succulent. I was unlucky to have gotten one odd piece that had no fats in it and that felt like just chewing cardboard…

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Finally their signature dish had arrive, Chili Crab with dungeness crab, chili sauce, pullman toast. Remember to give it a good stir before starting on the dish, the fried Dungeness crab sits on the chili sauce. Chili crab or black pepper crab in Singapore is typically first fried and then stir fried in the sauce so the crab is encased in its glorious sauce so you get a taste of it with each bite of crab. Fatty Crab’s version on the other hand, leaves you in a bit of a dilemma, if you dip the chuck of crab meat into the sauce, the sauce would overshadow the crabmeat, do it without, and it becomes bit too bland. The sauce was also more salty then chili and it felt tad heavy.

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The peanut butter sundae our waitress so passionately recommended was the BEST thing we had all dinner. The peanut butter sauce, the heavenly caramel sauce and the toasted almond cookies all went very well with the ice cream. I pulled the jar towards my side slowly as J and I were talking and ended up having most of it to myself =) **Score**

The final bill came up to be about $700 per person, the un-memorable, barely average food, the overly loud music, the sardine packed table arrangement just doesn’t justify what we paid for. We did tip the waitress as her service was possibly the best part of the dinner at Fatty Crab..

Fatty Crab
Address: 11-13 Old Bailey Street
Tel:  +852 2521 2033
http://fattycrew.com

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Hong Kong Restaurant

22 Ships ~ Jason Atherton in da house

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22Ships had been on everyone’s lips even before it was opened, the no- reservation policy hasn’t stop eager patrons from checking the restaurant out. Reviews have been highly positive for his playful, modern, creative style of cooking. Someone mentioned that Jason Atherton is in town again for just two days and I thought I should take that chance to revisit 22 ships.

Jason Atherton certainly has an impressive resume to boost; the British celebrity chef began his career working under great chefs such as Pierre Koffmann, Nico Ladenis, Marco Pierre White and Ferran Adrià before being the executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin starred Maze in London in 2010. After Jason left the Gordon Ramsay holdings, he opened his flagship restaurant, Pollen Street Social, which was awarded a Michelin star within 6 months of opening. Since then, he had opened highly praised restaurants in Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong

We arrived just before 6 to secure a seat, I specifically asked for the bar seats as it’s more fun to interact with the chefs and see what goes behind the scene as they prepare the dishes. Like the previous times, it never knows how to disappoint its audience! One of the staff recognized me and greeted me with the warm “Welcome back!” and got us a round of sangria on the house. Definitely a nice start to the night already.

Scallop ceviche with yuzu dressing, soy, cucumber and apple

We started with the Scallop ceviche with yuzu dressing, soy, cucumber and apple; I love the combination of flavors in this dish. The sweetness of the apple, sour-bitterness of yuzu, freshness of the cucumber and finally balanced with a hint of soy

Salt baked beetroot, cheese mousse and almond powder

The Salt baked beetroot, cheese mousse and almond powder is just as impressive. The fluffy melt in your mouth cheese and the thinly sliced crispy beetroot was a surprisingly pleasant combination. The almond powder gives an almost-peanut butter flavor to the salad.

Chargrilled Iberico pork & foie gras burgers

Chargrilled Iberico pork & foie gras burgers  Oh, the burgers!!! They are sooooo good! The juicy Iberico pork and foie gras patty is cooked to perfection and the pickle has become the new cherry on the top. There’s no elegant way of eating this heavenly burger. Juice from the patty oozing out from all directions with each bite. We love them so much; we had to go for round 2.

Strawberry roses & vanilla

Dessert time!! Strawberry roses & vanilla was the daily special dessert. The staff sprayed rose mist onto the dessert at the table and within seconds, the aroma drifted off into our nose-  *the smell of being in love*. Jessica, the pastry chef explained that she got the inspiration from Valentine’s Day where roses are like the essence of love. I love how she plays with different texture and adds dimensions to the dish: the crispy raspberry “chips”, the fresh raspberries, the strawberries, the granola, and the vanilla ice cream all complimented each other while keeping their own edge. LOVE LOVE LOVE the crispy raspberry chips. It’s kind of like dried strawberries (I LOVE DRIED STRAWBERRIES) but crispy.

Texturas de Chocolate

Texturas de Chocolate~ where do I begin? When we attempted to ask the staff which dessert he’d recommend, before I could finish asking my question “Which one would you…”, at lightning speed, he pointed to the Texturas de Chocolate.  Okay, we will have a go at that then. His enthusiasm has to be a sign of good food to come and it WAS yet another masterpiece! Not only is the presentation cute and playful, every bite of it was satisfying.  It’s like chocolate in different forms and textures.  There’s the melt-in-your-mouth rich ganache, the crunchy chocolate-coated puff, crushed oreo biscuit crumbs, the crispy meringue and the ice cream to balance off the otherwise chocolate overdose. At this point, I was reminded of The Vow: “I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms.” Only that I was about to profess my love to um.. chocolate *sad*

Frozen black sesame with pineapple carrot sorbet and coconut tapioca

And because there’s never too much dessert, we ordered the third: Frozen black sesame with pineapple carrot sorbet and coconut tapioca. Jessica said it’s one of her favorite; the frozen black sesame was EPIC! The thin strand of frozen black sesame blooms its distinct fragrance that hovers over the dish even before we dug into it.  A small touch of it on your tongue gave the intense black sesame flavor.  With its grounded granular texture it said much more than just plain old smooth.

To make the night even more memorable, Jessica gave us frozen popcorn as complimentary treats!! The night couldn’t have been better!!

Frozen caramelised popcorn

Dishes that I liked from the previous visits

Marinated hamachi with gazpacho dressing

Marinated hamachi with gazpacho dressing; the gazpacho (tomato based cold soup) dressing was poured onto the Hamachi as it’s served. The dish was refreshing and light

Baked Smoked Bone Marrow, onion jam, & sourdough, gentleman’s relish butter

Baked Smoked Bone Marrow, onion jam, & sourdough, gentleman’s relish butter

Rich aromatic bone marrow breadcrumbed and mixed with meat presented on the bone and spread over the sourdough, the flavor lingers in the mouth. Sweet caramelized onion jam helped balance the richness of the bone marrow

Olive oil brioche with chocolate ganache and sea salt pistachio

Olive oil brioche with chocolate ganache and sea salt pistachio– refreshing and interesting combination

The olive oil brioche, the whole pistachio and chocolate crumble add texture to the creaminess of the ice cream and the richness of chocolate ganache.

“PJB” peanut parfait, blueberry sorbet, salted peanut crunch

“PJB” peanut parfait, blueberry sorbet, salted peanut crunch

I wonder why my favorite dishes happens to be dessert hmm..

Refreshing blueberry sorbet, frozen raspberry bits, velvety peanut parfait, salted peanut crunch, fresh blackberry, blueberries all living in harmony with each other in this well thought out masterpiece. The fruitiness of blueberry sorbet contrast sharply with the round nuttiness of peanut parfait, this dish is a perfect balance in flavor and texture!

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