“One Bowl of Noodle” by Olala

一碗麵 (or literally “one bowl of noodle”) has been the subject of many blogs since it opened 3 to 4 years ago, so I suppose it is nothing special that I write about the place. Rather, I want to use 一碗麵 as a platform to talk about the surrounding neighborhood (Star Street) and some of the private kitchens you might be able to find in that area. I’ll save that for another time though.

After having visited the place for what seems like my 3rd time now, I am surprised to find the restaurant still doing well at the price they charge for their noodles!

At HKD 160+ per bowl of noodle, its probably the most expensive bowl of noodle(s) I’ve had, but also one of the finest. The soup for both noodles were thick and flavorful. I’m quite sensitive to MSG, but having drank the last drop of soup and gone home to vegetate, I wasn’t as thirsty (for water) as I would’ve been if it was full of MSG. The minced beef in the “Dam Dam Noodle” soaked up the soup, so it wasn’t dry, but rather full of the peanuty / sesame / spicy oil flavors. The beef in the “Roast Beef Noodle” is soft and fatty, which also makes it juicy. I would’ve like to see a little more beef though, at that price!

Dam Dam Noodle (擔擔面) at Olala

Dam Dam Noodle (擔擔面) at Olala

Roast Beef Noodle (紅燒牛肉面)

Roast Beef Noodle (紅燒牛肉面)

Siu Yeh Rating: 8.5/10

一碗麵 by Olala
G/F., 1 Electric Street (intersecting Star Street)
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2294 0450

Freshness Burger

I got the Classic Cheese Burger at Freshness Burger (at Windsor House) the other day + 1 side + 1 cold drink totaling HKD 61. The environment was tidy and my meal arrived in less than 10 minutes, which I thought was a little longer than expected given there were only 6-8 other customers in the restaurant at the time, which wasn’t even a quarter of the restaurant’s capacity.

Menu at Freshness Burger

Menu at Freshness Burger

Interior at Freshness Burger in Windsor House

Interior at Freshness Burger in Windsor House

The Classic Cheese Burger I had was pretty good. The buns were soft and toasted on the insides. The condiments were well balanced (it included ketchup and mayo) and the lettuce and tomatoes were fresh and well cut. The patty was also very juicy, but it wasn’t cooked on a mean grill as you can probably see from the light color and soft texture of the patty (pictured below). That’s because it was cooked on a teppanyaki-like grill, rather than an open flame, which I prefer. My only problem is that the cheese could’ve been slightly more melted before serving … actually, both the patty and the cheese could’ve probably rested on the grill for a little longer, but I suppose this is healthier, which I believe is what Freshness Burger is trying to promote.

Classic Cheese Burger at Freshness Burger

Classic Cheese Burger at Freshness Burger

Here’s what is printed on their tray paper, word-for-word, typos and grammar mistakes included.

Where it all began …

Freshness Burger as a neightbordhood cafe in 1992 in Japan serving Home Made Quality Burger a variety of home styled beverages and desserts. Due to its immense popularity it grew rapidly over the last 15 years and has established itself as a Premium Burger Cafe in Japan with more than 250 shops. Encouraged by its success, Freshness Burger has since expanded into Korea and has now open its 6th shop in Hong Kong.

Freshness Burger … A Cafe With a Difference

As suggested by our Motto ” Be Fresh”, our philosophy is to provide a brand new experience to all our customers. We take pride in remvcnring the traditional burger experience by offering freshly made to order burgers that are healthy yet fullfilling as well as a range of food and beverages made from organic ingredients in relaxed environment. We welcome you to Freshness Burger to experience “A home away from home” and meet our friendly staff at our tastefully decorated and trendy stores.

Remvcnring their neightbordhood Freshness Burgers

Remvcnring their neightbordhood Freshness Burgers

I took me a while to guess what “remvcnring” meant … I think they meant “reminiscing”. Then there’s “neightbordhood”. This is no Japan or China … get the English right!

By the way, I would say the price at Freshness Burger is about half of what Shake’em Buns and probably about a quarter what Duke’s Burger charges. If you were to just get a Classic Cheese Burger (HKD 55) + a soft drink (+HKD 5), that’ll be HKD 60. For the same set-up at Shake’em Buns, it’ll be around HKD 110 easy.

Siu Yeh Rating: 6/10

Freshness Burger
Shop No. 110, Windsor House
311 Gloucester Rd.
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3486 2833

Vote Your Favorite Burger Joint in Hong Kong!

OOohhh … my first time using the poll function. Check it out on the left! Vote your patties.

Edit: I’ll disclose the results about a month from now, say January 15th? Stay tuned on where most people stuff themselves silly with a healthy burger diet.

Jagabee by Calbee

Have you ever tried these “fries”? I love eating them, but they also freak me out every time I eat them … because if they were hot and had a slightly softer center, it would taste and feel just like McDonald’s fries!

Jagabee by Calbee

Jagabee by Calbee

*Harvest the Power of Nature* ... theyre damn right!!!

*Harvest the Power of Nature* ... theyre damn right!!!

Suddenly, Jagabee turns into McDonalds french fries!

Suddenly, Jagabee turns into McDonalds french fries!

They’re so goooood … but probably also really bad for you. They’re also HKD 10 for just a couple sticks of potato.

Talk about playing with texture! Who says you need to pay HKD 1,600+ to “experiment with texture” at Bo Innovation when you can do that at home for 1/160th of the price!

How does Calbee do it?! Not coincidentally, Calbee’s original BBQ potato chips are also my favorite 🙂 Yes, even better than Ruffle’s Sour Cream & Cheddar Cheese flavour.

Jagabee is available at a convenience store near you (if you’re in Hong Kong) 🙂

Jagabee by Calbee
www dot calbee dot com dot hk/jaga

Burger Room

Tried Burger Room the other night and I went for a Bacon Cheese Burger; didn’t want to try anything too fancy. The patties were were a little burnt for my liking and definitely too dry. The fries and the mozzarella cheese sticks were also average. Its not bad, just … average.

Note: Photos taken with iPhone (apologies on the bad quality)

Burger Room

Burger Room

Lobster Burger! Worth a try? HKD 188 please ...

Lobster Burger! Worth a try? HKD 188 please ...

Bacon Cheese Burger

Bacon Cheese Burger

Mushroom Cheese Burger

Mushroom Cheese Burger

Mozzarella Sticks

Mozzarella Sticks

What I do like about Burger Room is their drinks selection (any place offering Hoegaarden automatically gets a star on my list!) and the drinks might just be a little cheaper than Shake’em Buns. And to be fair, I haven’t tried their foie gras beef burger ($128) and lobster burger ($188), which I’ve heard good things about.

But, I kind of prefer Shake’em Buns because the kitchen is much larger and is much cleaner. Here at Burger Room, the chef had a little tray to prepare his burgers on and the kitchen is large enough for 3 people … with difficulties walking about. The orders also took a little longer than I’d hope (maybe it just felt like a long time because I was hungry!).

Shake’em Buns and Triple O’s (surprisingly) still remains at the top of my list. Duke’s Burger is also up there too if I’m feeling a little pretentious and feel like splurging a bit on gourmet burgers at over HKD 200! But I think burgers are (to a larger extent relative to most other comfort food) more subjective; some like their patties dry, some like them juicy.

Anyway …

Siu Yeh Rating: 5.5/10

Burger Room
7 Caroline Hill Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2890 9130

Dakota Prime

THE. BEST. STEAK. EVER. PERIOD.

Yes, it was better than Morton’s Steakhouse.

Yes, it was better than the Steak House at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

Yes, it trumped all my other experiences involving steak.

And yes, the bill also topped the list.

Dakota Prime is not your average Steak and Seafood restaurant. I went there tonight with high expectations (I haven’t had a chance to come back since its grand opening) and the experience had probably exceeded my expectations.

Let’s get right down to business.

We started off with 1.5 dozens of “White Pearl” oysters (I arrived late, so I didn’t make that order and hence, I don’t know where these oysters originated from). They were really fresh … but most importantly, they was paired with a very fruity sauvignon blanc, which the waiter had recommended. I later asked for the bottle (so I can take a picture) and found out it is called Highfield from Marlborough, New Zealand! You can’t go wrong with white wine coming from that region … it almost tastes the same as Cloudy Bay.

Oysters from Dakota Prime

Oysters from Dakota Prime

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc

Then came the Dakota Green Salad, which was dressed with the right amount of vinigrette and it also came with fried cheese around it (pictured). Dad had a lobster bisque (pictured). I can’t tell you how that was, but from what he told me, it was damn good.

Dakota Green Salad

Dakota Green Salad

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Lobster Bisque at Dakota Prime

Dad was on a roll tonight and went for a grilled lobster (pictured) before his steak even arrived. We all dug in and it was really juicy … again, grilled to perfection.

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

Grilled Lobster at Dakota Prime

And finally came the reason why I was there tonight: 21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at 14 oz or 380 g. Apparently, they’re also branded as “Meyer’s 100% Natural Angus USDA Nebraska Beef”, which is “Fully Traceable From Farm to Table, No Hormones and No Antibiotics” (pictured)

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

21-day Dry Aged New York Strip at Dakota Prime

My brother had the “Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef ‘Gold Label'” with Bms of 8-12 at 14 oz or 380 g (pictured).

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

Snake River Farms American Kobe Beef "Gold Label"

The steaks were paired with Cabernet Sauvignon called Unity from Napa’s Fisher Vineyard. Very smoky / oaky, dry and quite smooth (easy to down) and doesn’t leave much of an after taste, which I like.

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

Wine List (Wine by the Glass) at Dakota Prime

We ordered 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce (pictured) as side dishes for our steaks, but we later found out that these “side dishes” are meant to be shared. They came in a pan and the 1 portion is enough for 2 … (at HK$60 for a side dish, they better be!). We thought they’d be a small scope of Mac & Cheese next to your steak. If you are going to visit the restaurant, here’s an advice: Don’t order 2 of the same sides dishes!

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Sauce

After all that, we couldn’t handle dessert so we called it a night.

It was definitely not cheap, but it was very satisfying. For:

  • 18 “White Pearl” oysters
  • 3 glasses of New Zealand Marlborough Highfield Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 bottles of Voss still water (800ml / bottle)
  • 3 glasses of Napa Valley Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 Lobster Bisque
  • 1 Dakota Green Salad
  • 2 Meyer 14 oz NY Strip
  • 1 Snake River 14 oz Rib Eye
  • 2 Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle sauce
  • + 10% service charge

The damage came to HK$ 5,600. Ouch. But it was so good.

Siu Yeh Rating: 10/10

Dakota Prime
7/F., LKF Tower
33 Wyndham Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2526 2366
Fax: +852 2526 3626
Website: www dot dakotaprime dot hk
Email: info@dakotaprime.hk

Discussing the HK Michelin Guide Controversy with Backchat

I was invited to speak on a panel discussion this morning at a RTHK 3 programme called Backchat, which is “a current affairs programme with expert views and comment from listeners” and the topic was: Can foreign food critics truly appreciate local food? (Click here for the Podcast)

(HAHA … I’m an “expert”! What a joke!)

This was obviously my first time speaking on the radio and the experience was just incredible. I was a little nervous at first, but the hosts were basically in control of the whole discussion from the start and its pretty obvious when they give you the cue to speak …

But let me backtrack a little and give you a little background information on the hosts and panelists / guests:

  • Host: Hugh Chiverton; he’s been hosting Backchat since 2004 and he’s also the head of Radio 3 (or RTHK 3)
  • Cohost: Andrew Work; Executive Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
  • Guest 1: Sandi Butchkiss; Long-time food writer, now contributing to Culture Magazine
  • Guest 2: Simon Vuo; Deputy Assignment Editor for Ming Pao
  • Guest 3: Walter Keh; Hong Kong-based food critic
  • Guest 4: Me

So Hugh and Andrew were over by the Kowloon Tong studio (the main studio on Broadcast Drive), Walter was calling in from China, and Sandi, Simon and I were at the Admiralty studio (Since Kowloon Tong is a bit out-of-way for most people, RTHK has a satelite studio in the heart of the city so that the location is a little more convenient for guests).

We talked about a number of issues related, but not limited to:

  • Can foreign food critics truly appreciate local food? (Yes if you understand and respect the culture and cuisine for who and what they are)
  • Michelin Guide, perhaps not taken so seriously outside of France
  • Good food = comfort food (Andrew mentioned the experience the star critic had in the movie Ratatouille, I think that’s spot on!)

If you are interested in the subject matter, I suggest you stream the podcast and listen to it (its about 15 minutes long).

In the end, I don’t think there was a conclusion. Well, the controversy started because the topic was so subjective in the first place. But having been there and having also spoken with fellow panelists face-to-face, I do believe the general consensus between the guests were that no one (at least no one outside of France) should take Michelin Guide seriously. Yes, it is recognized globally and why should it not apply to Hong Kong? The heart of the problem is, if these so called Michelin “inspectors” want us to take their guide book seriously, then maybe they ought to think about taking our cultural perspectives seriously too.

They can’t apply an out-dated rating system that’s been developed for French culture and cuisine and expect that format to be used as a cookie-cutter for the rest of the world … I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. Until they make that change, I’m afraid this guide book will remain in the hands of those who are wealthy, but are so unsure about what they like to eat, that they have to refer to a guide book to tell them what to eat.

By the way, I have a newfound respect for radio hosts. They have such a sexy voice and they speak so eloquently … they’re so good with words!!!

Oh, also, an estimated 50,000 people tunes in for the programme every morning! Unfortunately, I have yet to see a spike in visitors 😦 lol …