Monday, December 12, 2011

Cafe Graham

This post is dedicated to my lovely friend Herbs who has been raving about the place since I met him :P He finally brought me and two girlfriends here for lunch (and noticeably tamed down the hard sell on the day we decided to visit, perhaps to temper our expectations haha) It's located on Graham Street (the name is a bit of a giveaway) but I was surprised I had never noticed it before since I love eating at delicieux bistro, berry good, and sift, not to mention puttering around the graham street market. However, when we arrived I could see how easy it is to overlook this tiny, non-descript cafe with its tattered signboard and minimal decor - exactly my kinda place!

We arrived at 11:50 and were greeted by the very friendly owner who ushered us in despite still having 10 minutes to go before lunch hours. The interior is very cozy (some might say cramped...) with posters adorning the walls - it reminded me a bit of O Green Cafe (my favourite healthy eating joint). Lunch menu was quite extensive with a number of pastas, omelets and the stray salad. For the pastas you can choose between linguini, angel hair, spaghetti and penne. I was quite impressed by the variety of their menu given the tiny cafe.

angel hair with duck breast

I opted for the angel hair with duck breast. I really enjoy angel hair and this one hit the spot with its perfect al dente'ness. The duck was also very tender, and I loved the big bottle of Kraft's Parmesan Cheese left on each table - reminded me of my childhood days eating spaghetti on Saturday's with Kraft's cheese mmmm. However, I wished that the dish was slightly less saucy, or that the sauce was more tomatoey, because it was too sweet for my liking (very typical Asian-style Western food :P)

I can't really comment on any of the other dishes my friends ordered but here are the photos:

angel hair with pork?

cheese omelet... i'm sure there were other things in this

sea bass with angel hair

While the mains were decent and well-priced, they didn't really blow us away. However, we'll all be back because Cafe Graham has the best tiramisu in Hong Kong!!

tiramisu <3

It was a huge bowl that we split between four but after taking a few bites, I really thought I'd be able to eat it all by myself! Soooo delicious, creamy and smooth. Just looking at this picture makes me want to go back. December desserts are always the best :)

Cafe Graham
51D, Graham Street
(opposite Sift)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mandarin Grill

I've been to Mandarin Grill a few times now and have always been blown away by the service, presentation, and most importantly the food. While this latest visit was enjoyable as always, I do feel that the food has gotten a tad salty and I had to drink copious amounts of warm water to finish the meal. At least the servers were quick to refill my cup, and finally decided to leave the whole pot on our table :)

I love the ambiance here with the plush carpets, chairs that you just sink in, and flowers everywhere, not to mention the open kitchen where you can see Executive Chef Uwe running around doing his thing. We visited on a Monday night and all the tables were full of business execs, making me feel slightly out of place!

bread basket - que oui!

We demolished this basket as it came piping hot and was completely irresistible. I tried a German pretzel, a small roll stuffed with olive paste, something sweet and flaky, rye bread... Everything was delicious, especially with their olive oil! A server rolled out a trolley with five different olive oils to choose from - a French (with hints of hazelnut), two Italian (one stronger one milder), one Moroccan and one other I can't remember that contained walnuts. I chose the extra virgin Moroccan and it was divine, very smooth and tasted almost buttery? They brought over another bread basket after we powered through the first one and I had to exercise utmost self-restraint to not reach over and grab some more...

amuse bouche

There was a trio of three amuses bouches for us to try this evening, presented very creatively with a big plant which we were warned we could not eat :P We were told to start with the cheese puffs (in the silver trey), then move onto the cheese biscuits (kind of hidden behind the big plant), and finally the spoon of olive something or other as a palate cleanser. The cheese puff was really yummy and burst in my mouth. The cheese biscuit was pretty good too, very buttery and crumbly. They reminded me of these cheese biscuits I used to love from Muji that sadly I can never find anymore. The olive "thing" (sorry not very technical I know) was interesting but not really to my tastes.

lobster bisque

Not much a fan of lobster but apparently this was very salty and we weren't too sure what to do with the foam in the center. We eventually tried to mix it with the soup but it ended up looking like a big clump of mess that wasn't all too appetizing :\

cauliflower and cheese

A classic pairing. This was one of their new dishes so I definitely wanted to try it. The dish consisted of cauliflower (I believe they were sourced from California and came in all colours! So exciting!), melted cheese at the bottom, and a warm bechamel sauce drizzled over the top. I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed this, although it was a tad salty - I can't imagine finishing the entire dish by myself. However, in small doses it was great. The cauliflowers had a beautiful crunch and I was surprised that the different coloured ones had slightly different tastes. Doused in cheese + bechamel = perfection!


My main was placed in front of me looking like this... The waiter told me, with a very serious face, that unfortunately this was all the chicken they had left. I think my grandma was noticeably shocked and commented that I would be eating dog food tonight :P Figured it'd be a good diet though haha.

real chicken :)

I was very relieved when my server subsequently came back with a big pot of chicken! It smelt sooo good, all this smoky aroma of chicken fat and broth! Only the breast was served and I was very pleased that it tasted as tender as chicken thighs. The carrots and mixed vegetables which were soaked in the broth were delicious too. Unfortunately, I got so carried up in the rest of my meal that I didn't end up eating the three bones on my plate :p

sirloin steak

Last time I was at Mandarin Grill I ordered the ribeye which to this day is still the best ribeye I've had in Hong Kong. My dad decided to try the sirloin instead which as the photo shows, came a perfect medium rare. Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as tender as my ribeye... for $50 extra I would definitely upgrade :P The pot of butter corn on the side was most sinful though and I wished I had ordered another pot on the side!

mallard duck

For some reason, when I saw "mallard duck" I was slightly put off because it always reminds me of the children's book "Make Way for Ducklings" which is about a pair of extremely cute mallard ducks and their little ducklings who make their home in Boston Commons. I can't imagine eating them! However, I did try a small bite of this and it was a little too gamey for my liking.

strawberry fields forever <3

This was beautiful and I can definitely see where Chef Caith Chow (of one-thirtyone) draws his inspiration from. Very earthy! I'm sure you can tell from the picture that there's only one real strawberry here. The others were made out of fresh strawberry ice cream with a dollop of strawberry jam in the center...All sitting atop a bed of "soil" (chocolate crunchy yumminess) and served with cream cheese flavoured ice cream. The ice cream was pretty interesting - it really tasted like cream cheese but for some reason, I was quite addicted to it! There were also mint leaves that provided the perfect complement to the chocolate.

strawberry innards

Sorry for the dirty plate, but here are my strawberry innards! It really tasted like ice cream cake (which I love). Great dessert and so beautiful too!!

bread and butter pudding

Not your typical bread and butter pudding, the bread was a raisin brioche with apricot jam. It was light and fluffy, and the ice cream (in the background looking like butter) was actually butter flavoured ice cream! Quite strange but definitely top marks for innovation! Did miss traditional bread and butter pudding though...

"petits fours"

Hardly petits fours, I was blown away by the presentation! They made the chocolate truffles look like actual truffles (yay truffle season) and even the truffle shaver was all chocolate and edible. These were delicious and I really wanted to eat them all but they were so so rich. Wished I had milk to wash it down :) Or a tupperware to slowly savour them at home! Such a perfect ending to the meal. It was pretty interesting that the chocolate truffles also had a hint of truffle taste to them too!

A further point on the excellent service here - our waiter was very attentive, taking time to explain to us all the components of each dish, but wasn't overly intrusive. Really makes the dining experience soo much better.

Mandarin Grill + Bar
Mandarin Oriental
5 Connaught Road, Central

Monday, December 5, 2011


As I've already visited Petrus and Summer Palace to make use of the 2-for-1 Shangri-la birthday deal, I thought it only fitting to go to Nadaman for my own birthday. I've gone from never eating at Island Shang to eating at three of their restaurants within the span of three months!

I was surprised by how large the restaurant was, with a number of separate rooms including the main dining room. I really liked the interior which was done up tastefully and much more low-key than the other Island Shang restaurants. It felt so peaceful in there, especially with the very soothing green tea. Too bad we weren't seated by the windows which offered a pretty good view of PP amidst the trees.

I opted for the Winter Kaiseki menu which was priced at roughly $750 and included 7 dishes plus a complimentary starter:

I think this was just snowpea shoots that was a great start to the meal - very light and refreshing, I particularly enjoyed the leaves soaked in the sweet sauce at the bottom :)


From top clockwise, homemade anglerfish beancurd with salmon roe (in the bowl at the back), mini abalone and gingko nuts, salmon with cheese, mackerel sushi, and deep fried prawn. I enjoyed the mackerel sushi and really really liked the fried prawn which was light and crispy and melted in my mouth! The beancurd was also silky smooth and paired surprisingly well with the salmon roe. Unfortunately, I don't eat abalone and the salmon with the cheese was a bit of a turn-off for me - I can never understand why people like to pair sushi with cheese, especially when the cheese tastes like Kraft singles.


Sashimi of ark shell, chu-toro, and red snapper. I didn't try the ark shell but the red snapper was a little bit tough for my liking. Luckily, the chu-toro was the saving grace and I was quite impressed that they gave three decently thick slices of it! Chu-toro is my favourite grade of tuna, coming from the back part of the belly and thus slightly less fatty than otoro but still far more melt-in-your mouth than regular tuna. And this one really melted in my mouth, super tender and fresh.

simmered dish

This was described as simmered milt of cod (shirako in Japanese). I didn't know what "milt" was and taking a look at what was in the dish, it really looked like scrambled brains or intestines. I asked the waitress, who couldn't explain it to me, so I dug out my iPhone to search myself, discovering that it's actually cod sperm. (The waitress later came back with her own iPhone and a webpage that had the words "testacles" on it haha). We asked her if she liked to eat it and she shook her head vigorously with a resounding no. I tried a small piece and found out cod sperm is very very creamy and custard-like. Hm. Not too appealing. Apparently it's a huge delicacy in Japan and quite pricey. I saw a table of Japanese all happily chowing down on their sperm but I couldn't do it... Felt a bit guilty leaving essentially the whole bowl untouched but if my waitress won't even eat it, it's quite a telling sign :P

vinegared dish

Scallop with citrus fruit, cucumbers, and some fried bean curd on top, all soaked in vinegar. The scallops were lovely and plump and really quite delicious but I found them to be completely overpowered by the citrus fruits (in particular the pomelo). I could hardly taste the scallops with all the ingredients going on.

grilled dish

This was beautiful. It was grilled belly of yellowtail and adorned quite simply with some grated radish. I don't think I've ever actually had yellowtail grilled before - I love hamachi sushi though so was pretty excited to try this. The fish was so flavourful though and it was great that it was seasoned lightly as the flavours didn't overwhelm the freshness of the fish. Probably the highlight of the meal :)

rice dish

I believe the menu called this a rice casserole, which included mushrooms and vegetables. It was really comforting and hearty, perfect for a cold winter's night. I was surprised how healthy it made me feel too! I could picture myself out in a cabin in Hokkaido watching the snow fall, eating my bowl of rice, and reading a Murakami novel :) (FYI - for any Murakami fans, 1Q84 surpassed my expectations!) The rice had a great texture too - slightly moist and soft, yet not as sticky as a risotto...Just very plump, if that makes sense? It also came with a nice bowl of soya bean soup on the side though I would've preferred miso.


The dessert was meant to be a coconut purple taro soup with red beans but I'm not a big fan of red beans or coconut and so asked if they could change my dessert to ice cream. They were happy to comply :) They had a selection of normal ice cream flavours (green tea, sesame, vanilla) but I decided to opt for their korean citrus sorbet and it was the perfect way to end the meal. It really tasted like those Korean citron teas with clumps of citrus peel inside. Delicious! Apparently this was flown in from Japan.

My partner ordered one of the dinner sets that was priced slightly cheaper in the range of $600?

complimentary starter

This was just spinach and maitake mushrooms but was again a delicious and light way to start the meal.


This was the crab roe salad which as you can see was served with a very generous amount of crab roe. I usually don't like Japanese salads too much because of the crazy amounts of mayo used but this one was actually quite alright and I had wished I had taken more before it was polished off!


Tuna, snapper, and scallop. Didn't try any of these but I'm sure my chu-toro was far yummier hehe. My friend did say that the scallops tasted really fresh though.

pretty bowl housing my ultimate favourite Japanese appetizer:


I really want to learn how to make this, I assume it can't be too hard! This was one of the best I've had. The eggs were super tender, sweet and silky smooth, and I had a lot of fun digging through the custard to find what treasures were inside! Too bad no chicken, but there were matsutake mushrooms and shrimp :)

grilled beef

It was funny that they asked us how we would like our beef cooked when the slices were so thin! Felt like beef for sukiyaki but I'm not complaining because I love that stuff! The beef was pretty succulent and despite how it looks, wasn't all that oily. Really enjoyed the sides as well - in particular the broccoli when doused in the sweet sauce.


Inaniwa udon is my favourite type. It's thinner and generally remains al dente after cooking. This one was very very nice, with a soothing broth and deliciously sweet mushrooms. Too bad it was so yummy that when I got back from the washroom it was all but gone :(

All in all, this was a pretty satisfying meal that left me pleasantly full. The service was great, ambiance relaxing, and the food was definitely above par. It was such good value too with the 50% discount - I think our whole meal came up to a total of $770 plus service charge! Will definitely be back for their Ladies Sushi Set lunches!

7/F, Island Shangri-La
Pacific Place