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Wagyu Takumi The Oakhill, 16 Wood Road, Wanchai 2574 1299 What is it? A member of the Japanese restaurant group that includes Gin Sai and Rozan, Wagyu Takumi – newly crowned with two Michelin stars – is the most exclusive dining experience of the bunch. Akin to a private kitchen, up to 14 diners each night can partake in Chef Mitsuru Konishi’s seasonally changing tasting menu (definitely eyewatering at $1,880 per person for nine courses), which is a blend of Japanese and French ingredients and culinary techniques. The shiny jewel-box of a room, all bronze and copper tones, is centred around an open kitchen surrounded by counter seating so that diners can get up close and personal with Konishi-san. The chef and his brigade exude a sense of calm and precision that’s contagious: the focus is solely on immersing yourself in the dining experience as a whole. The new tasting menu: Having honed his craft at two-Michelin-starred L’ATELIER de Joël Robuchon in Tokyo and Paris restaurants Michel Rostang and Taillevent, Chef Konishi has recently introduced a new simplified – but far from simple – tasting menu. Nine courses may seem like a gut-busting lot, but the portion sizing is just right. We left feeling completely satisfied, but with our buttons 16

still firmly intact. The first accolade goes to Chef Konishi’s flawless presentation and attention to detail, starting with the teeny-tiny gold leaf atop the first course of gorgeous tuna and avocado tartare served with a generous heap of caviar. The chef is a fan of playing with texture and mouthfeel, with “crunch” being a particular favourite; this was best showcased in the subtly sweet chestnut soup, where some delightful surprises where hidden at the bottom of our teacup: crunchy diced celery and chestnut and velvety steamed egg and foie gras. There’s no tactful way of putting this without giggling, but we also enjoyed the codfish milt, which is (get ready) another way to say fish sperm. Brain-like in appearance, it’s also super creamy, rich and delicate in flavour. The fatty – in the best possible sense of the world – and impossibly tender charcoal-grilled Hida Wagyu tenderloin and teppanyaki flank steak were other high points. Both were accompanied by three sauces that worked a treat counterbalancing all that richness: wasabi and salt; an assertive Béarnaise, heavy on the vinegar, and a thin and peppery number. The predessert course of wee spoonfuls of lychee and yuzu jellies provided pops of flavour, the most intense of the meal. Latest lunch news: Four- and six-course lunch menus, priced at $880 and $1,380 respectively, are now available. They sound like the perfect options for those with smaller tummy space (and wallets).

Zafran B/F, 43-55 Wyndham Sttreet, Central

2116 8855

What is it? Riding the Spanish wave that has recently washed over Hong Kong’s culinary shores is this haute-cuisine offering of stylish tapas. The hidden depths of this chic new eatery contain a DJ lounge, front bar, open kitchen with long chef’s table and a second intimate eating area, all decked out with cool lighting and comfy seating. The food of España: Zafran’s Executive Chef, Marc Lores Panades, cooks and entertains from his show kitchen with typical Latin gusto, producing appetising masterpieces while answering his curious diners’ questions from their counter dining perches. His chorizo ($88) and black pudding are both made in-house and are a triumph of simplicity, while his scallop dish with Barcelona artichokes and salt cod cauliflower cake ($118) are highly decorated dishes with more styling than a US Marine. Not usually impressed by overly fussed food, the taste of both these dishes was a triumph that overwhelmed both the eyes and the palate. Spain’s version of surf and turf – the sea cucumber and Ibérico ham – was a chewy and fibrous endeavour, while the suckling pig ($170) was just the right amount of crispy and fatty. All the typical tapas fare you would expect are also on the menu, from patatas bravas ($78) to ham croquettes ($88). 18

Say what? Just as our stomachs threatened to burst, dessert was served. A fried breakfast sat in the skillet in front of us looking like the last thing in the world we wanted to eat at that moment. But a brave first spoonful unearthed that the French fries were in fact pineapple sticks doused with raspberry coulis rather than ketchup, and the apparent black pudding was a chocolate brownie in disguise. The fried egg revealed itself to be a delicious sorbet. This creative and pleasurable dessert both messed with our minds and delighted our taste buds.

food war

food WAR Clash of the Coconuts

Although coconut water has long been a popular drink in the tropics, it has gained popularity in the Western world quite recently, where it has mainly been marketed as a natural energy-boost drink because of its high potassium and mineral levels. Some marketers have gone so far as to call it “Mother Nature’s sports drink”. Thailand, Vietnam or the Philippines – which country’s coconuts produce the tastiest water?

Too sweet for us!

Beautiful and tasty

Coco Fresco – $13/250ml

Jax Coco – $20/250ml

city’super, Shop 1041–49, Level 1, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central 2234 7128

city’super, Shop 1041–49, Level 1, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central 2234 7128

Whoa! Pop the lid off this bottle and it’s like a pina colada has assaulted the senses. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s certainly not what we had expected. This Vietnamese offering would appeal to those with a sweet tooth, but for us, it was akin to drinking sugar water. The flavour was like actually drinking the flesh of a coconut and was a bit sickly for our taste.

Jax boasts fantastic packaging, with a beautifully simple glass bottle that you could easily reuse elsewhere in your kitchen. Completely absent of scent, with a cloudier, yellowish appearance, this version from the Philippines is a good-looking contender. It felt a bit thicker going down the throat, with a stronger flavour than the others, but somehow also managed to taste more like actual water as well.




chewin' the fat

Chewin’ the Fat with...

Alain Ducasse A man with 22 restaurants across the globe and 17 Michelin stars to his name, Alain Ducasse is undoubtedly one of the most acknowledged and revered international chefs. Foodie had the privilege to sit down and dine with this culinary icon whilst celebrating the 10th anniversary of SPOON by Alain Ducasse at InterContinental Hong Kong


SPOON by Alain Ducasse

In 1999, he established Ducasse Education, a global organisation of professional culinary training centres, including research and consulting. He has since founded cooking institutions throughout France (Argenteuil, Paris and Yssingeaux) and in the Philippines. There is one more institute set to open this year in Moscow, with additional academic partners in the US and Brazil.

Having worked in kitchens since he was 16 years old, Ducasse has over four decades of experience in the industry. He spent several years working under the tutelage of renowned French chefs such as Michel Guérard, Gaston Lenôtre and Roger Vergé before moving on to lead his own kitchen team at La Terrasse (Hôtel Juana in Juan-Le-Pils, France) and being awarded his first two Michelin stars in 1984 at the age of just 28.

Ducasse was one of the first Michelin-starred chefs to found a restaurant here in Hong Kong and says that in the ten years since establishing SPOON, he has noticed a food revolution of sorts here, not only in the quality of the food but also in the variety of cuisines that are now available. In celebration of SPOON’s 10th anniversary, a competition was held amongst the top Hong Kong culinary schools, with students submitting a complete dish presented solely on a spoon, as well as their personal reasons for wanting to meet Ducasse. The top 10 winners spent a day in the kitchen with Ducasse, before preparing a feast for a select group of food journalists.

Having been trained by such acclaimed chefs, Ducasse is a firm believer that passing on knowledge is the key to developing talented chefs, explaining, “Transmission is a fundamental value. I have the duty to share my knowledge with the future generations of chefs. I must transmit flavours, techniques, motivation.”

His main advice to these ten young chefs was that in order to succeed in this industry, one “needs to learn and master the necessary [culinary] skills”, and when it comes to maintaining high standards in his numerous kitchens across the globe, it is essential for the kitchen management to have rigorous discipline and high expectations.


Eat FRESH This green-hearted company’s mission is simple: to deliver fresh, high-quality local and organic vegetables to homes around the 852

Launched two years ago by a duo with a passion for local farm-to-table produce, Eat FRESH’s directors – certified plant-based chef and health coach Mia Moore and Martina Bin, whose love for the land was fostered by her Italian farming family – have partnered up with ten certified local organic farms in order to provide customers with the highest-quality organic seasonal veggies delivered direct to their doors. All of the e-greengrocer’s produce is hand-picked and delivered soon after harvest, with seasonal vegetable, juicing and even detox boxes (regular and large sizes) available for purchase via Eat FRESH’s brand-new interactive website. Both subscription plans and à la carte options are up for grabs. The website also features a user-friendly Recipe Finder, where web surfers can discover simple, tasty and – most importantly – tried and tested recipes with Chef Mia’s seal of approval. Users can search by vegetable or meal course, with facts and storing tips offered. 24

In celebration of its website expansion, EAT Fresh is sharing the love by showcasing a revolving line-up of fabulous organic pantry items from a select range of local companies, including Carazuc organic coconut flower sugar, 73 Deep Pink Himalayan salt and volcanic pili nuts from Stephen James Organics (; superfoods drinks by Pure Swell (; gluten-free breads baked by Choice Cooperative ( choicecooperative) and essential oils courtesy of Native Essentials (

Upcoming Foodie Event To highlight their new organic veggie detox boxes (which include a manual chock-full of juicing and detox recipes), Eat FRESH will host an organic raw vegan sushi-making workshop on Wednesday, 8 January 2014 at creative and social space Plantation (Shop B, 1–4 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan). For more information and to register, email

To start shopping for the finest organic veggies around, go to

all about the honey, honey, honey


From HK to NZ

A Rooftop Beehive

Michael Leung of HK Honey says, “Bees are an essential and valuable part of our food system. As per the USDA, one-third of the food in our diet relies to some extent on bee pollination. In the past few years, the population of bees globally has been reduced. This is due in large part to the use of pesticides.” Peter Bray is Managing Director of Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand and a family company that has been in business for more than 100 years. Bray says the great bee decline is all a bit overhyped. “This is a case where some events have been reported beyond their significance. Worldwide, the profitability of beekeeping plays the largest role in beehive numbers. If it is not profitable, beekeepers will reduce their hive numbers. Since labour is the single largest input (beekeeping is labour-intensive), countries with high labour costs have higher total costs to operate a beehive. Favourable beekeeping conditions and low labour costs are one of the reasons China is one of the largest honey-producing countries. New Zealand is lucky to have favourable conditions, wonderful honey sources with unique flavours and a clean, pollution-free environment.”

Since its inception in 2010, Hong Kong’s own local honey initiative, HK Honey, has been doing its part to grow the bee population here. It has now spread its honeybee wings further to collaborate with InterContinental Hong Kong, and by helping them to house their own hives on the hotel’s rooftop, the hotel can now produce their own honey. Bryan Chiu, InterContinental’s Executive Assistant Manager, tells us how he’s been busy as a bee: “We needed professional guidance to determine the viability of setting up

piggy provenance

Piggy Provenance Get to know your pork sausage before it ends up in your belly

Isn’t it nice to know where your meat comes from? A new company in Hong Kong are leading the way into trustworthy local pork products with their range of classic sausages. The Sausage Co. uses meat from animals that have been bred from original European breeds and lead a happy, well-cared-for life on familyrun Wah Kee Farm in the New Territories. No chemicals or hormones are used to stimulate artificial growth, and the pigs are fed from grains imported from the UK. What’s more, in the production of their premium-quality sausages, there are no preservatives, emulsifiers, browning agents or other nasty chemicals added. They are a pricey lot ($118 for four on hk), but with The Sausage Co., you get what you pay for. Andrew Cawte tells us about how the company got started here in HK: “Growing up in 30

England, my parents always steered clear of the mass-produced, highly processed sausages that were common in supermarkets, and instead bought them from our local butcher, who made the most delicious sausages by hand. Over the years, I’ve discovered more and more great sausages, and a kind of passion has developed. As I’ve embarked on this journey, more and more people have been coming out of the woodwork with the same passion. What it taught me is that in Hong Kong,

piggy provenance

If you’re interested not only in the provenance of the meat inside your sausage but also in putting that meat in there yourself, you can learn to make your own through The Butchers Club’s sausage-making classes. We spoke to owner Jonny Glover to find out all about what inspired him to teach Hong Kongers to build their own bangers. He says, “We started these classes because we thought it would be fun, and there are also not many places in Hong Kong that have classes as such. The response has been very good so far. We have been booked solid every Tuesday since we started, with many requests for large-scale corporate team-building classes. This was an experiment – we had no idea it would be so popular – but the food movement is rapidly growing here.”


Jonny describes the classes, explaining, “The Butchers Club’s sausage-making class is held every Tuesday night at our butcher shop in Aberdeen, and we can accommodate up to 10 individuals per class. We also offer private bookings at other times, both evenings and lunchtimes, for groups of 10 to 16. Tuesday classes are priced at $1,300 per person, and for private bookings of 10 people or more, we offer a discounted price of $1,150 per person.” In the workshop, you’ll learn how to butcher legs of pork and lamb and select and combine the ingredients for the sausage recipe – or get creative and design your own recipe. Then you’ll learn to grind the meat and combine it with your ingredients, stuff the sausage meat into natural casings using a sausage-stuffing machine and link the sausages. The class also includes a dinner of sausage and mash with complimentary drinks, as well as a prize for the best sausage of the evening. You get one kilogram of sausages to take home, and they even run kid’s classes, so you can get your tiny tots making up their own supper. Sounds like the missing link to us! Check it out at

food for thought

In December 2013, Mirror Restaurant regained its one-Michelin-starred status, but unfortunately the damage was already done. The restaurant served its last meal on 31 December 2013. All Jeremy had to say was, “I would rather they had waited until they were sure.”

own well-earned reputation as being the best restaurant guide in the world by contradicting one of the core principles it demands: consistency. Until this is properly established, the Michelin Guide Hong Kong Macau will not be truly appreciated and respected around the world.

Michelin stars have always been something that certain chefs strive for as an acknowledgement that they are among the best of the best. Diners are also continually on the lookout for internationally renowned restaurants that have been awarded for culinary excellence. This is all perfectly fine… until it starts to compromise the financial stability of an establishment and the health of the chef and his or her team – either through the pressure of maintaining or the fear of losing those coveted stars. And when this happens, the perspective is lost.

During the writing of this article, a friend of mine made a great comparison that I would like to share, as I think it gives a bit of an insight as to what the Michelin Guide is going through here in Hong Kong: “You have to treat the Michelin Guide in Hong Kong as if the publication itself were a new restaurant; it’s newly opened, it’s not perfect, it’s having a couple of bumpy services and it’s finding its feet and perfecting its procedures. Given time, I’m sure it will settle down. How many stars would you give the Michelin Guide?” I think that sums it up really well.

The Michelin Guide and its standards here in Hong Kong are in danger of devaluing the brand’s

The Michelin Red Guide is the oldest and most popular European hotel and restaurant guide, established over a hundred years ago by the Michelin tyre manufacturer with the intention of boosting the demand for cars in France. The first editions contained information for motorists that included maps, repair and tyre change instructions and a listing of hotels and petrol stations.

Michelin Star Criteria According to the Michelin Guide itself, restaurants are judged regarding what’s on the plate, meaning the quality of products, the mastery of flavours, execution, personality of the cuisine, value for money and the restaurant’s consistency in serving its menu throughout the year.


One star: A very good restaurant in its category, offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard. A good place to stop on your journey.

Two stars: Excellent cuisine, skilfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality. Worth a detour.

Three stars: Exceptional cuisine where diners eat extremely well, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients. Worth a special journey.


Spiced Pumpkin Curd, Cider Winter Fruits For 3–4 people Prep time: 30 minutes, plus curd freezing time Cooking time: 45 minutes Ingredients: + 160g pumpkin purée + 160g cream (35% fat) + 30g white sugar + 30g brown sugar + 1 egg + a pinch of salt + 1 tsp ground cinnamon + ½ tsp ground ginger + ½ tsp ground cloves Cider winter fruits: + 2tbsp white sugar + 200g pumpkin, sliced + 180g figs, quartered + a splash of cider + 5g sprigs thyme Method: 1 Preheat oven to 170°C. 2 Line the bottom of desired cake moulds with cling film. 3 Mix together the pumpkin purée, cream, white and brown sugar, egg, a pinch of salt and the ground spices. Pour the batter (up to 1–2cm thickness) into the moulds. 4 Bake for 25–35 minutes, or until the curd is set but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Freeze until the curd is completely solid. 5 To make the cider winter fruits, caramelise the sugar and then add the pumpkin slices and quartered figs. Once they have softened, deglaze with a splash of cider. 6 Garnish the curd with the caramelised pumpkin and figs, finishing with the fresh thyme sprinkled on top.


Candied Ginger Pandoro, Vanilla Cream Makes 50 Prep time: 1 hour, plus additional 15 hours for proofing the dough Cooking time: 2 hours Ingredients: + 280g pastry flour (type 45) + 60ml milk + 90g white sugar, plus a bit more for sprinkling + 110g unsalted butter, at room temperature + 180g eggs + 12g dry yeast + 5g salt + 65g candied ginger, diced + icing sugar, for dusting + 140g vanilla pastry cream Method: 1 Mix together the pastry flour, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, dry yeast and salt. 2 Knead the dough until the texture is smooth and elastic. 3 Add in the candied ginger. 4 Leave the dough to rest overnight.


Method: 1 Preheat oven to 190°C. 2 Mix 15ml of the cream with the chestnut purée. Evenly spread out the chestnut mixture on the bottom of a baking dish. 3 Slice the brioche and layer the slices over the chestnut mixture. 4 Crumble the roasted chestnuts over the brioche slices. 5 Mix together the remaining cream, milk, pinch of salt, vanilla bean seeds, whole egg, egg yolk and sugar. 6 Pour the mixture over the brioche slices. 7 Bake for 14–16 minutes, or until the curd has just set. 8 Brush with the apricot jam and serve warm with the confit kumquats.

Roasted Chestnut Brioche Pudding, Confit Kumquats For 2 people Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes Ingredients: + 100g sweetened chestnut purée + 65ml cream (35% fat) + 120g brioche, sliced + 3 roasted chestnuts + 50ml milk + pinch of salt + 1 vanilla bean, seeds only + 1 egg (whole) + 1 egg yolk + 25g coconut flower raw sugar (a natural sugar from the coconut tree) + 2 tbsp apricot jam, warmed slightly + 2–3 confit kumquats


Foodie Issue 54: January 2014  
Foodie Issue 54: January 2014  

Hong Kong's guide to good taste