Hong Kong: Dim Sum at The Boss and the Social Place

The Boss Dim Sum

The Boss Dim Sum

I love dim sum and when my friend recommended The Boss (58-62 Queen’s Road, Central) for their truffle noodles, I knew that I had to try it for myself. Located in the basement in a building across the street from Topshop, The Boss is actually a 1-Michelin star restaurant. Based on the photos online and their website, dinner looks to be spectacular, albeit at bit expensive. Dim sum, which is only offered at lunch on the weekends, seems like a good compromise.

Not knowing what to expect, The Boss’s decor was fancier than I anticipated and also smaller. I definitely recommend making reservations because the entire place did end up filling up. The dim sum was quite good. I really liked the har gau (shrimp dumplings), the outside skin was delicate and thin, but the inside was bursting with fresh pieces of shrimp. The siu mai was also nicely executed and I like their crispy spring rolls. The real star was the truffle noodles. I know it may sound weird to have truffle in Asian food, but this dish was so simple and so tasty. It’s just noodles, bean sprouts and truffles that have been stir-fried, but there is so much flavor in each bite. The Boss’s liu sha bao (salted egg yolk custard bun) was also amazing. My only mistake was eating it last when it had cooled down and so the filling wasn’t runny like it should have been.

Hong Kong: The Social Place

Hong Kong: Social Place

Another restaurant that is more well-known for their contemporary dim sum is the Social Place (139 Queen’s Road Central, Central). The Social Place’s decor was quite modern and their big center table was actually a bright blue ping pong table. They served some really creative and pretty dim sum, including mushroom buns and rose buns. It’s amazing how realistic they make the mushroom buns look like a shitake mushroom and the filling has truffle oil inside.

The Social Place- Food

Social Place Chinese Fusion Dishes

Another signature dish is the quail, which has crispy skin on the inside and succulent meat on the inside. We ordered a few more dishes like the scallops with tea leaves and stir-fried Chinese broccoli, which was cut to look like beautiful vines. One dish that I didn’t like was the diced beef with wasabi peas and cucumbers. I didn’t really think wasabi and beef made a good combination and having uncooked cucumbers mixed in was just strange.

The Social Place is a good option if you want to take guests to have a non-traditional Chinese meal. I also like the fact that you can order dim sum at dinner too, not just lunch. Perhaps the best part is that the restaurant is in the same building at Ten Feet Tall, a great place to get foot or full body massage. So you can treat yourself to a massage and then head down a few floors to enjoy dim sum at the Social Place.

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!

Shanghai: Brunch at Hakkasan and Café Sambal

Hakkasan Brunch: Crispy Duck Salad and Assorted Dim Sum

Hakkasan Brunch: Crispy Duck Salad and Assorted Dim Sum

Normally, brunch for me is classic Western food: eggs, bacon, pancakes, fresh juice, all of the above. But Shanghai has some wonderful brunch options for Asian food too. I recently experienced two great brunches in Shanghai, one at Hakkasan (5/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu; 中山东一路18号5楼) and the other at Café Sambal (Block A, No 37, 259 Jiashan Lu; 嘉善路259弄37号A栋).

Straight from London, Hakkasan is a Cantonese-style restaurant on the Bund. If you want a nice meal on the Bund without having to pay an arm and a leg, dim sum brunch at Hakkasan is a great option. For 298 RMB (plus a service charge), you can get the crispy duck salad, soup, assorted dim sum, main dish, sautéed vegetables, rice, dessert, mocktail and tea. That is a healthy amount of food.

The crispy duck salad is Hakkasan’s signature salad and I can definitely see why. It is a light and refreshing mix of pomelo, pine nuts, duck, chopped shallots, lotus root and watercress. I could have eaten an entire bowl of that for brunch and been perfectly content. For dim sum, you can choose three steamed or three fried pieces. My girlfriend and I ordered one of each so we could see the assortment. There were some clever twists (deep-fried pumpkin dumpling with truffle oil) and also some classics (har gau). Truthfully speaking, it is not the best dim sum I’ve ever had in my entire life. I have really high standards though since dim sum is one of my all-time favorite past times and I used to live in Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop us from eating it all.

Hakkasan's Sea Bass and Sirloin

Hakkasan’s Sea Bass and Sirloin

For our main dishes, I ordered the stir-fried black pepper Angus striploin cubes and my friend got the grilled Chilean seabass in Chinese honey. The beef was so incredibly tender and tasty. It had this wonderful caramelization on the outside while still being slightly spicy with the black pepper. It was some of the best beef dishes I’ve had in Shanghai. I was pleasantly surprised when the seabass arrived “char siu” way. I love BBQ honey pork and this seabass was served in the same style. I liked that the seabass wasn’t too sweet and had a nice crispy exterior.

Hakkasan Dessert

Hakkasan Dessert

Macaron Display

Macaron Display

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Celebrating my Name Day in Paris

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

I love this whole European concept of a “name day” and I wish I had known about it earlier. Basically, every single day of the year is associated with a specific name of a saint. The church would then have festivals for certain saints on certain days. In today’s world, it’s basically a 2nd birthday and a great excuse to treat yo self!

Technically, I had a belated name day celebration because Saint Jacqueline’s day was February 8 and my workload was too heavy to partake in any festivities. Fear not, I made up for it this weekend!

I first stopped by the Pinacothèque de Paris to check out the latest Hiroshige and Vincent Van Gogh rêves de Japon exhibit. There was two different exhibits: one focused on Hiroshige and the other focused on how Japan’s artwork influenced Van Gogh’s work. I enjoyed both a lot, but if you only have time to visit one, I’d recommend the Van Gogh exhibit. They had banners up showing Hiroshige’s art and you could directly compare it to Van Gogh’s; it was really fascinating to see the direct influence. If you don’t read French, be sure to ask for an English translation at the information desk. The two exhibits are in town until March 17, 2013.

Galerie Vivienne in Paris

Adorable Alleyway, Galerie Vivienne and a Poster from the Pinacothèque

Afterward, I decided that I was going to walk the 3+ kilometers from Madeleine to the Marais and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air in Paris. I loved stumbling upon Galerie Vivienne, an alleyway full of restaurants, cute boutique stores and even a vintage bookstore. I came really close to buying that print of a girl holding a heart. It was a still a fruitful day of shopping at Comptoir Des Cotonniers and at FrenchTrotters. FrenchTrotters is this hip store in the Marais that totally reminded me of a French Anthropologie. The store features local French designers and they also produce their own line of clothing. At FrenchTrotters, I couldn’t resist a retro, multi-colored weekend bag and I have a feeling I will be stopping by the store every time I go to the Marais.

Breizh Cafe

Cider, savory crêpe, salted caramel, banana and Chantilly cream crêpe.

I had a specific destination in the Marais– Breizh Café. Originally from Japan, Breizh Café serves the most delectable crêpes in savory and sweet forms. I already knew that the actual restaurant would be crazy and full (you have to make a reservation) so I headed next door to the L’Epicerie Breizh Café, which is a small gourmet food store. They have one communal table with six seats, but they serve the exact same crêpes! I ordered the savory crêpe with cheese, egg, ham and artichoke hearts and also a salted caramel crêpe with pears and Chantilly whipped cream (not pictured). I’ve eaten savory crêpes at many establishments and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like sweet ones much better. Don’t get me wrong, my salty crêpe was good, but I just think the dessert ones are SO much better. Straight from Brittany, the salted caramel  has that perfect smokey, acidic taste to complement the sweetness from the fruit. I like how the salted caramel wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t overwhelming. It was definitely the best crêpe I’ve had in Paris. 

Parc de Belleville

Gorgeous View from Parc de Belleville

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