Shanghai: Wellington Wednesday at Coquille

Coquille: Beef Wellington

Coquille: Beef Wellington

I’ve blogged about dinner at Coquille (29-31 Mengzi Road; 蒙自路29–31号)before, but I have been dying to try their beef wellington for months. Every Wednesday, you can reserve a beef wellington, which is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Face as size reference for golden beef wellington

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Served with au jus, mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus

Coquille’s beef wellington is Australian tenderloin wrapped in foie gras, black truffle and mushroom spread, and proscuitto. All of this is wrapped in a golden pastry envelope. The wellington is served with au jus, roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes. It was nice to have a little bit of green on the plate to help cut the richness of the dish.

A sight so wonderful

A sight so wonderful

I was in awe of just how delicious this wellington was. The crust was so buttery and flaky and still slightly crispy. The beef was SO tender and one of the best pieces of red meat that I’ve had in Shanghai. I loved that it was cooked rare/medium rare. Seared foie gras is one of my favorite things in life and the combination with the beef was pure heaven. Having the mushroom and proscuitto helped add some more salt and complexity to the whole dish.

Wellington5

When you arrive at the restaurant, you still have to wait about 40 minutes before the wellington is served. Resist eating appetizers because it’ll be worth having that extra room in your stomach. It’s quite a lot of food for two people. My friend and I definitely rolled ourselves home afterward. I think it would be the perfect amount of food for 3 people.

Wellington3

Coquille’s beef wellington is about 650 RMB (including the sides) so it’s definitely a dish worth ordering for a special occasion. I would love to bring my parents sometime and it would be a great meal to celebrate Father’s Day. It was one of the best meals of my life and I can’t wait to have another “excuse” to eat it again.

Wellington6

 

Shanghai: YongFoo Elite and Han Mama

YongFoo Elite Garden

YongFoo Elite Garden

My mother was in town and she arranged a lunch with Chinese designer, Han Feng. Han Feng took us to the picturesque restaurant, YongFoo Elite (200 Yongfu Lu; 永福路200号), in the French Concession. YongFoo Elite is housed in an old historical manor, which over the years has served as the UK, Vietnam and Russia consulate. The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden that transports you to a different era.

Yong Foo Elite Food

Yong Foo Elite Food

Since Han Feng is a regular, she was in charge of the ordering. We had spring rolls filled with fish, fish filet pieces with bamboo, hong shao pork belly and stir-fried vegetables. My favorite dish was definitely the fish filet pieces with bamboo. The dish was so delicate with a simple fish sauce, but the fish was tender and practically melted in your mouth. Hong shao pork belly is a classic Shanghainese dish, but I really enjoyed this version. Sometimes hong shao pork belly can be overly sweet, but YongFoo Elite’s isn’t. The meat is braised perfectly and also very tender. While the spring rolls were very crisp and fresh, I wasn’t a fan of the fish-based filling. I prefer the pork/shrimp/vegetable variety instead. YongFoo Elite is a great Shanghainese restaurant to take out of town guests or someone you want to impress.

Han Mama

Han Mama

For a more casual bite, Han Mama (123 Nanyang Lu; 南阳路123号) offers affordable Taiwanese dishes in a modern and clean setting. When my friend and I went, we ordered the lu rou fan (braised pork over rice), dan dan mian (spicy sesame noodles), chili oil wontons and the beef noodles.

Han Mama Food

Han Mama Food

Lu rou fan is one of my favorite dishes and is total comfort food. There is something soul-warming about having soy-braised pork with ton of sauce over rice and reminds me of a dish my mother would make. Han Mama’s version of lu rou fan definitely did not disappoint. The dan dan mian didn’t leave much of an impression on me and I probably wouldn’t order them again. The chili oil wontons were definitely tasty and had that nice spicy and garlicky sauce to accompany it. For the spicy beef noodles, you can choose to have fat or skinny noodles. I recommend getting the fat noodles, which have a perfect consistency and a heartier texture. I personally thought that the soup base was a little weak and could have packed a little more of a punch. I was happy to see that the beef pieces actually had meat and weren’t just full of fat and tendons. Overall, it was a solid meal, the portion sizes were decent and the prices were good.

Shanghai: Brunch at Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton

Table No 1- Brunch

Table No 1- Brunch

I’m always on the hunt for a good brunch in Shanghai. A few months ago, Table No. 1 (1-3 Maojiayuan Lu; 毛家园路1-3号1楼) unveiled a new brunch menu that looked absolutely delectable.

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Raisin Scones

Salmon Eggs Benedict and Raisin Scones

True to their dinner menu, the brunch menu is also very limited. There was a small selection of egg dishes with different variations of eggs benedict or poached eggs on toast. Since I felt like I could make eggs on toast at home, I opted for the Eggs Royale, two eggs poached eggs on an English muffin with smoked salmon. The eggs were cooked perfectly and I liked that the hollandaise sauce was very light with a hint of lemon.

Table No 1- Scones

Table No 1- Scones

My mother really loves scones and I think that passion has been passed on to me. Whenever I see them on the menu, I always feel the need to order them. I was very pleased with the raisin scones at Table No. 1. Too often with scones, they are way too dense and disappointing. These were lighter and not too sweet. Proper British scones should be served with clotted cream (not butter) and these scones came with a lovely jar of clotted cream and jam. I was a happy camper.

Blueberry Pancakes with Poached Apricots

Blueberry Pancakes with Poached Apricots

I unintentionally ordered a lot of sweet dishes with the blueberry pancakes and homemade yogurt. The blueberry pancakes weren’t your classic American pancakes. It didn’t have that rich buttermilk taste. Instead of coming with maple syrup, these pancakes came with poached apricots and whipped cream. For an extra 30 kuai, you could top the pancakes with pan seared foie gras. I have had the foie gras at dinner before and I think it would have been the perfect complement to these pancakes. The foie would have added some nice extra fat to the pancakes and given it an interesting sweet and savory combination.

Table No 1- Yogurt

Table No 1- Yogurt

I really enjoy homemade yogurt and do like it sour. Table No. 1’s version was just a little too sour for me. While there’s some fruit topped on it, I felt like it needed just a bit more honey to help sweeten it up a bit.

Overall, brunch was pleasant, but it’s not my top recommendation in Shanghai. Table No. 1 is also a little far since it’s out by the Cool Docks. I don’t know if I would make a special trip to go there again. However, if you’re looking for a solid brunch and are in the neighborhood, Table No. 1 is a good option for you.

Shanghai: Lizzy’s All-Natural Juice Cleanse

Lizzy's All-Natural Juices Photo Credit: kateandkimi.com

Lizzy’s All-Natural Juices | Photo Credit: kateandkimi.com

I am anti-juice cleansing. This is not me passing judgement on those who juice. I am anti-juicing because I do not think I can survive that long without solid food. I’d rather cut off my left pinkie toe than juice for multiple days.

So why did I juice? Was it for weight loss? Glowing skin? An extra boost of energy? No, no, and no. Trust me, I would not give up solid food for any of those reasons. To spare you of any graphic details, I was having digestion and stomach issues. It actually got better before my juice cleanse, but I decided to move forward and commit to a 3-day cleanse anyways.

There are a few juicing options in Shanghai and I did my research. I chose Lizzy’s All-Natural for a few reasons. One was the price because each day is 188 kuai, which is cheaper than other competitors. The second reason was that it seemed like her juice cleanse had less fruit-based blends. I had heard feedback from others who tried juice cleanses from other companies and they told me that they felt like there was just too much sugar and didn’t make them feel good. Also, I compared Lizzy’s to other juicing cleanses and it seemed like there was less juice to drink per day (so also less sugar/day). You can also only order delivery through the online grocer, Kate & Kimi, which has much more flexible delivery times. Other places only delivered from 6-9 p.m. Finally, I chose Lizzy’s because she has a “cheat sheet” of food you can eat in case you feel like you really can’t survive. As a first time juice cleanser, I liked having this safety net and flexibility.

Day 1

8:30 a.m.
As advised, I drink a glass of hot water and lemon and then move on to my first drink of the day, “The Refresher.” This juice has coconut water, cucumber, watermelon, lime, mint, kale and chia seeds. Drinking green juice in the morning doesn’t seem like a huge sacrifice. I notice that it’s not very sweet, which is good and I mostly taste mint. I try and follow their advice of “chewing” as much as possible so I liked having the chia seeds to chew on.

11:15 a.m.
My second drink is the “Youth & Beauty” with avocado, kale, pineapple, banana, mint and coconut water. Having the avocado gives it a thicker texture, which also helps for chewing. I was expecting it to be creamier with the avocado. I taste mostly banana in this drink and it’s less sweet than I anticipated.

1:00 p.m.
I try the elixir shot, “Lemon Detoxifier.” and my mouth is on fire. Literally on fire. I take a much larger gulp than I realize that I’m suppose to and it was WAY spicier than I expected. Is this how you stave off hunger by burning off all the taste buds in my mouth? How can something so small be so spicy? Besides the taste of chili, this elixir tastes like fermented dried plums to me, kind of like Chinese-style dried plums (话梅). My co-workers have microwaved their lunches and are eating at their desks. Wafts of soy sauce and garlic fill the air. I take another gulp of my spicy elixir and my lips tingle slightly. Am I supposed to mix the elixir with water because I’m drinking it straight?*

1:30 p.m.
“The Skinny” is matcha green tea, cranberries, apple, pear, cucumber, raw  honey and lemon. Since this is the only fruit smoothie, I’m expecting it to be sweeter. Surprisingly, it’s not very sweet either and I taste mostly cucumber. There’s a sandy texture thanks to the pear and it also helps make the smoothie chewable.

3:30 p.m.
I start feeling hunger pangs and decide to try the “Coco Chia” elixir. I’m hoping the fiber and protein in the seeds will hold me over. It’s a refreshing shot that tastes of mint and a hint of lemon. It doesn’t burn my mouth with the heat of a thousand suns like the last spicy elixir. I chase my elixir with a cup of hot tea, secretly hoping it’ll help expand the chia seeds in my belly and make me feel more full.

5:00 p.m.
I’m feeling “hungry.” I don’t know if I’m actually hungry or my brain is psychologically tricking itself that it’s hungry because I haven’t had solid food all day. I’m drinking “Green Elixir” which has romaine, kale, celery, apple, pear, banana, spirulina, lemon and filtered water. My first reaction is: “Ew, this is salty.” I take a second sip and all I can taste is spirulina. It tastes mostly like celery and seaweed. Kind of wishing that the banana flavor would overpower everything, but it’s not. For some reason, the aftertaste in my mouth taste like Chinese-style dried plums again (话梅). I guess there are worse aftertastes in life.

This is my least favorite juice. This is probably the healthiest juice, which is probably why it’s my least favorite. Why do they make this juice number 4? It seems slightly tortuous to have this juice toward the later half of the day. I’ve noticed that all of these juices are thick and can now understand why Lizzy’s calls them “smoothies.” You get a straw for each smoothie and it’s needed.

6:30 p.m.
I take a quick shot of my last elixir, “Goji Tang.” Yes, it definitely has a tang and a more sour taste.

8:00 p.m.
I’m feeling tired and looking forward to my last juice of the day, “Sweet Vanilla Cashew Milk.” Based on the description of raw cashew milk, vanilla, Himalayan pink salt and medjool dates, I’m expecting this to be the most satisfying one. I’m expecting it to be sweet and thick like the other smoothies. I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed because this was the most thin and watery drink and it’s not very sweet at all. I guess I really shouldn’t complain because the reason why I picked Lizzy’s was for less sugar. Since it’s thinner, I drink it quickly and am left wanting more.

10:30 p.m.
I’m seriously hungry and my stomach is growling. I drink hot water with lemon juice and hope I can sleep.

*I emailed Kate & Kimi and their customer service recommended drinking the elixirs directly or mixing with warm water. However, “if you can handle drinking it alone, it is more efficient.”

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Hong Kong: Sublime Japanese Food at Hanabi

Hanabi's Angel Bomb: Three Kinds of Fatty Tuna and Sea Urchin over Rice

Hanabi’s Angel Bomb: Three Kinds of Fatty Tuna and Sea Urchin over Rice

Sushi is my all-time favorite food, but I don’t eat it often in China. When my mother suggested dinner at Hanabi (4/F, 6 Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui), I happily agreed. Hanabi serves fresh fish straight from Japan, which is flown in every morning, cut from the careful hands of executive chef, Michael Chan. Chef Chan used to work at Nobu in Hong Kong. Hanabi only offers omakase menus and you can’t order a la carte. However, they’ll always ask if you have any allergies or food aversions before serving you.

Hanabi Appetizers, Sliced White Fish and Sake

Hanabi Appetizers, Sliced White Fish and Sake

My mother and I decide to go all out and order the Mankai omakase menu (1,200 HKD). It starts with delicate dish of five cold appetizers and then is followed by thinly sliced white fish sashimi. The white fish is smooth and so crisp and clean tasting.

Hanabi Creative Sushi

Hanabi Creative Sushi

Next course was Hanabi’s creative sushi. The top layer was a beautiful Hokkaido oyster that is so meaty and creamy. I could have eaten a dozen of them. The chef carefully smokes the bottom layer of seared fatty tuna topped with caviar. The top dish with the oyster keeps the smoke trapped inside so when you open it, the smoke clears aways to reveal the fatty tuna jewel.

Hanabi Sushi

Hanabi Sushi

What followed next was three varieties of daily sashimi, which included the largest amaebi that I’ve ever seen, and eight pieces of nigiri sushi. Watching Chef Michael at work is almost like dinner and a show. I was completely enamored but his ritual of cutting the sushi, rolling the sushi rice and shaving salt rocks hailing from the Himalayas and Iran. I really loved the tempura, which was unique. One piece was deep-fried king crab and the other piece was deep-fried uni wrapped in shiso leaf. I had never had uni deep-fried before and it was a heartier texture, while still maintaining its creaminess. The real highlight of the meal was the angel bomb sushi, a magnificent tower of three kinds of fatty tuna and uni. It felt like one of the most decadent bites of my life. We finished the meal with a soothing bowl of miso soup and a scoop of yuzu ice cream.

Hong Kong: Lab Made Ice Cream

Hong Kong: Lab Made Ice Cream

Obviously, Hanabi is a restaurant reserved for special occasions. The restaurant only holds 12 counter seats and two small tables so reservations are a must. If you happen to be hungry afterward, you can always top by Lab Made (Shop 42, 132 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui), Asia’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream laboratory. My mother and I tried to mango ice cream topped with mango sauce, mango pieces and sago. The consistency of the ice cream was really smooth and it also tasted creamier. It was my first time trying liquid nitrogen ice cream and I liked it!

Hong Kong: Burgeroom and Farm House

Hong Kong: Foie Gras Burger at the Burgeroom

Foie Gras Burger at the Burgeroom

I love a good burger and when my co-workers recommended going to Burgeroom (50-56 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay) in Hong Kong, I only happily agreed. I became giddy when I saw photos of a nice big piece of foie gras on top of a juicy patty. Talk about combining two of my favorite foods!

Burgers, onion rings, melted cheese twister fries and fried mozzarella cheese balls

Burgers, onion rings, melted cheese twister fries and fried mozzarella cheese balls

This popular burger joint doesn’t take any reservations so expect a slight wait at peak dinner time. What I loved most about ordering my foie gras burger was that the guy asked if I wanted a double or a single! It took a lot of self-restraint not to get a double. These burgers are HUGE and messy. The patties are so thick and juicy that it is literally impossible to take an entire bite of the whole burger. The foie on top of the burger was absolutely incredible, just adding to the overall richness of the meat patty. I also really liked the twister fries and the fried mozzarella cheese balls. I would happily go back the next time I’m in Hong Kong.

Dim Sum at Farm House

Dim Sum at Farm House

A trip to Hong Kong wouldn’t be complete without getting dim sum! My mother took me to Farm House (1/F, Phase1, China Taiping Tower, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay), a Chinese restaurant that actually specializes in seafood. Farm House’s dim sum menu is limited, but there are definitely some solid dishes. The har gau (shrimp dumplings) were filled with huge, crisp shrimps and a paper thin wrapper. I was even more pleased with the siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), which were also juicy and tasty. One of the Farm House’s signature dishes are the chicken wings stuffed with glutinous rice. That bad boy was delicious. The skin was super crispy and lightly fried and the sticky glutinous rice was flavorful. I’d definitely recommend ordering it.

Farm House Shi Dan 是但

Farm House Shi Dan 是但

One dish that I also really enjoyed was the shi dan 是但. It’s a steamed savory egg custard topped with seafood, duck, mushrooms, vegetables and salty egg yolk. While this is a simple dish, it’s almost like having an “egg custard soup,” which is perfect with white rice. It was also the perfect dish for my grandmother because it was soft and easy to eat.

If you travel to Hong Kong, I hope you have a chance to stop by Burgeroom or Farm House. It’ll definitely help satisfy any cravings!