Restaurant Review: Under the Bridge Spicy Crab (Hong Kong)

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For those of you who have been following my blog, you probably figured out that I am a huge fan of crabs. I grew up in Singapore and to this day, I would say we serve the best crabs in terms of quality, variety and cooking styles. The Black Pepper Crabs at Long Beach and Jumbo, White Pepper Crabs and Salted Egg Yolk Crabs from Long Beach, Salted Egg Yolk and Curry Crab from No.3 Crab Delicacy…just to name a few. And of    course the Black Pepper Crabs from Joo Chiat Road…Living in HK has been great except I really miss my Singaporean local delights (hawker food!) and my crabby indulgences. SO, needless to say, I have been on a hunt, looking for something close to satisfy my crab cravings. The one commonly recommended was Under the Bridge Spicy Crab – their specialty? Fried Crab with Crispy Garlic and Chilli which has varying levels of spice depending on your capacity.

I came with high hopes and left sorely disappointed. In fact, I gave it at least 3 chances, coming with 3 different Singaporeans and we all left dissatisfied. Perhaps it’s the Singaporean palate that has been spoilt with flavour and the availability of large Sri Langkan crabs with succulent meat, but this just didn’t cut it for me. Still, many flock here to try their famous spicy crabs and if you didn’t know better, I guess it suffices.

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Crabs in HK are generally more expensive than Singapore in my opinion, given the size and crab quality. A 1.2kg crab could cost you about 500HKD-600HKD (~90-100 SGD) yet of poorer quality than what you will get in SG. I know that in some places in SG, your would get 1.3kg for the same or less.

So the first problem for me, was the crab size. They were not big. You could request for a larger crab, but you would be paying through your nose for that.

Crab quality – the meat just wasn’t succulent and sometimes it didn’t taste entirely fresh. The meat would stick to the shells and often times the pincers were not full. The shells were also very difficult to crack unless the Sri Langkan ones in Singapore I was used to. I would wager that these are probably mud crabs for the price of Sri Langkan ones.

In terms of preparation, I do like this Garlic and Chilli preparation however the one at this particular restaurant is way too salty for my liking. And for those who know me, I like flavour and salt is my thing. However even by my standard this is a tad too salty.

I have found another place, a “da-pai-dang” as they call it here that serves decent quality crabs with good flavour in their cooking styles. They serve this preparation as well and they do it so much better. You can taste the garlic and spice, both of which infuse perfectly with the crab. Will write about this place soon. Watch this space…

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Under the Bridge Spicy Crab

G/F-3/F, Ascot Mansion, 421-425 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, HK Tel: 852) 2893 1289 / 2834 6818 (Exit C, Causeway Bay Station)

Restaurant Review: Aqua (Kowloon, Hong Kong)

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B, S and I had been meaning to organise a boozy brunch for some time. B had been to the Aqua brunch and she loved it, so we gathered the troops cross harbour to Kowloon!

I’ll admit, I am not at home in Kowloon. In fact, I think I have only been there a handful of times since moving to HK a year ago. My visits to Kowloon have been limited to ICC and Harbour City for client appointments and one time to a Korean Chicken Wings place. But I was game for an afternoon of gluttony with good company and lots and lots of wine!

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The Antipasto Platter

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The Sashimi Platter

The buffet works with an unlimited supply of appetizers, namely the Antipasto platter and the Sashimi platter. This was heaven for me as I love my sashimi. The salmon was very fresh but I have to say that the toro was a tad disappointing as it was a little “fishy” for me. Also, they could have been more generous with the portions but perhaps it was their way of making us keep ourselves in check for we kept asking for a refill!🙂

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Green Tea Soba Noodle with Poached Japanese egg

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Homemade potato Gnocchi gently tossed in a black truffle cream sauce with fine herbs

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Paccheri “Verrigni” in duck ragout flavoured with orange and rosemary

The restaurants serves one of each pasta and you are welcome to ask for more servings. I must say the pasta is pretty heavy and by the time I was done trying a bit of everything, I was stuffed that I didn’t have much room left for the mains. The pastas were average. Nothing stood out in particular, but I guess it’s good lining for the stomach especially if you were going to be boozing on free flow champs and wine.

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Slow cooked Marsala beef cheek with fresh herb potato puree

I am generally not a fan of beef cheeks so it’s probably unfair for me to review this. Not even sure why I chose the beef cheeks given my long standing dislike for the dish (what was I thinking). I will say it was done nicely, soft and tender. The gravy went really well with the potato puree and the boys loved it with one of them having my remaining half portion.

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Aqua Dessert Platter

The dessert platter was delightful and perfect way to end the meal. There was a good variety on that platter and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Would I return though? Probably not. The view is awesome however for what they offer and the price, I think I would pick the champs brunch at Zuma or Tiffin Lounge anytime simply because the variety is just better and the quality of food is also of good standard, making them a lot more value for money. The ambience at both places, though lacking the incredible Aqua view, still make for a good boozy Sunday afternoon.

Aqua

29 + 30F
One Peking
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Reservations : +852 3427 2288

Restaurant Review: Aberdeen Street Social (Hong Kong)

So when Aberdeen Street Social first opened at PMQ HK, it was all the hype. Reservations has to be made at least 2-4 weeks in advance and there were specific seatings. I was told they serve a gd brunch menu and was anxious to check it out. But as with any new restaurant, I always believed in letting them settle in before checking it out so I waited.

My first time to Aberdeen Street Social was for dinner with a group of friends on a weekday. I was really looking forward to it although by this time, I had already heard some negative reviews about how it was over priced and not meeting expectations but I wanted to judge for myself.

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We arrived on time for our reservation but as the table wasn’t ready we started off with cocktails at the bar. The bar was dimly lit but not so much cosy as it was simply dark. The cocktails were pretty decent and I liked how they served mine with a glow in the dark ice cube. Given our late dinner reservation, I must say the cocktails and good company didn’t distract me from our half hour wait. After what seemed like forever, we were finally seated.

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The glow in the dark ice cube which added that much coolness to my fancy cocktail :)

We ordered some appetizers to share and decided to have the steak as a main for it came highly recommended. Our starters came and I was thinking to myself “so far so good”. The portions were small but I guess it was like every other high end restaurant so no complaints there. The presentation was good and they the dishes had a good flavour. They certainly whet my appetite for what was to come.

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The steak came. A huge chunk of meat placed on a wooden board. My first thought was it looked thick and dry. Upon placing it in my mouth, I was proven right and sorely disappointed. I have had some great steak in Singapore Mortons, Wolfgang CUT, Chris Ruth’s Steakhouse and in Sydney at the Rockpool Steakhouse; and these are just some of the more memorable ones. Well, the steak at Aberdeen Street Social just didn’t cut it for me and I didn’t enjoy it. There were no morsels of fat like Rockpool and CUT, neither was it juicy like Mortons and CRS. It was actually bland and a tad difficult to go down. For the amount we were paying, I told myself I would not return.

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However I did. This time for brunch. I must say I like the ambience on a Sunday afternoon, with the french doors and sunlight coming in against the dark wooden decor. The menu was simple but interesting and it was pretty decent. I think it’s a good brunch venue but again, i wasn’t thoroughly impressed. It wasn’t particularly value for money, neither was it distinctively awesome tasting, and the ambience could be replicated and I prefer something more open to begin with.

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I would say however that the steak at brunch was better seasoned and more tasty. I like how they presented the dish and it was good for the money paid. 

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Perhaps Aberdeen Street Social will work for some, but unfortunately it’s not up my street. I wouldn’t be back.

Aberdeen Street Social

35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong
+852 2866 0300

FRESH OYSTERS AT HKD18 EVERY WED!

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SO for those of you who have been following my blog, you would know that I was never an oyster fan. I found it eeky and very sea-ish most times. One random Wed night in HK, I decided to check out the oysters at CVCHE along Wydnham as they looked really fresh and it would have been a cheap experiment at 18 bucks – It was amazing! So apparently these are Finn de Clairs (I learn later that even amongst Finn de Clairs there are many types) and I love them! Not too sea-ish but extremely palatable. Whilst some people have their oysters with just lemon or tabasco, I like mine with some onions and and vinegar.

I wouldn’t say oysters are my thing now, because my ultimate comfort foods are still crabs and escargots with garlic and herb butter; but I do feel that oysters with wine and good company make for a very relaxing night and is the perfect wind down for a mid week.

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For those living in HK, be sure to check out CVCHE along Wyndham on Wednesdays. Reservations required. Nowadays the default isn’t Finn de Clairs though but Coffin Bay which is good too. 20% off total bill if you dine between 6-8pm!

My First Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong

So this entry is months overdue but I figured it was still worth penning down.

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I have heard of the Rugby Sevens in HK for the longest time. It’s when party people from all over converge in HK and turn every inch of the streets into one massive party. There are of course those who fly in to watch the actual games but the highlight has to be the parties during the games as well. It’s almost festive and the entire week feels exciting with people not in the mood to work and just waiting to knock off. Some would even get off and start Happy Hour early. It’s pretty similar to the Grand Prix F1 weekend in Singapore.

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I managed to score some tickets to the game for both Friday and Saturday. The stadium is like one huge club with many rooms of different themes and music. These rooms are actually sponsored “boxes”, mostly by banks and they each usually have their own themes, fully stocked with free flow beers and some light bites. The best boxes this year have to be one of the HSBC boxes (there were 4 different ones I think) which was pretty much like a club, the UBS box which had face painting and cowboy hats. It was good fun and the atmosphere was incredible. People dress up in costumes, almost like Halloween. Put that with loads of beer, great music and sports, the stadium was rockin’.

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Plenty of party options all through the week, I thought this party in the park was really nice. The weather was perfect, cool and with a slight breeze every now and then. Against the back drop of HK’s beautiful city skyline, this was perfect for an outdoor concert. Whilst I liken this to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore where I attended the Jason Mraz concert, I think the edge HK has is the fact she has 4 seasons, allowing more conducive weather for such parties and concerts in the park.

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After the party in the park which I was kindly invited to by a fellow Singaporean client, I went for yet another party at the LKF Hard Rock Cafe. This was a private event, a company party for one of my clients who again was sweet to invite me. Live band, lots of booze and finger food along with high spirited people dancing away with huge colourful afro wigs and colourful blinker plastic glasses, it was good fun. Unfortunately this was during a time when I was consumed by work and wasn’t in the mood (my first 6 months in HK – refer to earlier entry) so whilst I tried to get in the groove, I was a wooden block, dull and boring in my sombre work clothes and rigid mind constantly reminding myself of work the next day and how exhausted I was – not happening next year. Rugby Sevens 2015, I’ll be ready for you!!!

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My First Bubble Soccer

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the youtube video that was floating round Facebook about bubble soccer – essentially soccer except you are inside something like an air filled ball; well not exactly in it per se, but holding it up like some sorta shield. Whilst the game goes on, players may bump each other like bumber cars in a bid to get the ball. Other than the usual out lines, there are essentially no rules.  A friend of mine decided to organise a bubble soccer match (the first to be played in HK) for her birthday. There is now an official Bubble Soccer HK facebook page where u could contact them should u wish to organise a game of your own. The referees and bubbles will be provided with venue suggestions to choose from. For my friend’s birthday party, we had the bubble soccer in an indoor basketball court – too small in my opinion but it was the first and very experimental -Thanks KL for inviting me!

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IMG_1133My friend T and I picking out purple costumes to wear in our bubble because YES, we were in the PURPLE team!

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GO PURPLE TEAM!!!! We finished 2nd!!! Woooohooooo!!!!

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It was great fun and definitely an experience. Will I do it again? Maybe but if I do, I’m gonna make sure I am better prepared with knee pads!!! Check out my awful bruising!

***Tip to the girls: Don’t bother trying to ram into a dude. The impact of your bubble against his will have u fall regardless. If you are lucky, he falls with u, if not; it’s just u babe. The boys somehow are always still standing! Have other guys ram them down😉

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Restaurant Review: Yardbird (Hong Kong)

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Yardbird is one of those must-go restaurants in HK. To be honest, the food ain’t michelin awesome but it’s really about the vibe, the service, and the promise of a chill night. As with most fashionable restaurants, Yardbird does not take reservations and the wait list could be from an hour to two. The trick is go really early or to go get your name on the list for a dinner an hour later. A sister to another of my favourite restaurants, Ronin (a speakeasy whiskey bar/restaurant), Yardbird is good fun and a great place for visitors looking for a NYC groove.

Serving mainly yakitori, they manage to cook almost all parts of a chicken it seems. The oyster sells out quickly so remember to reserve it if you are waitlisted. For those of you as clueless as I was, “oyster” in this instance does not refer to the afrodisiac we are all so familiar with but rather a part of the chicken just above the bum. It’s supposed to be one of the best parts. I don’t mind the oyster but I think for me, my favourites have to be the neck, the thighs and inner thighs as they are tender and juicy.

IMG_5074This is my favourite dish at Yardbird – the sweetcorn tempura. I love how they fried it with a very light batter and a dash of salt which makes the entire dish come together nicely. I will say it is one of those which is a hit or miss for some, though a hit more often than not.

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A signature dish at Yardbird, is the KFC cauliflower. It kinda feels a tad korean I must say, the spice and the strong flavour of the batter surrounding a simple cauliflower. I don’t care too much for the sesame seeds I will admit. The staff will always tell u that the lime makes a huge difference but personally, I prefer it without.

Speaking of the staff, the ones upstairs are very upbeat and extremely personable, attentive and with an excellent memory; it makes the Yardbird experience. I almost always get good service here except one time when I was seated downstairs and the staff barely caught my eye and got my orders wrong and forgot a thing or two. That night was a disappointment. Otherwise, Yardbird always scores when I bring visitors and is great for a random weekday night.

Yardbird

33 Bridges St, Hong Kong
+852 2547 9273