Cliff Jumping in Hong Kong

Its been a while since I last wrote about the “cultural” side of Hong Kong (in case you are wondering, this won’t be a food entry). Anyway, I went to a Sai Kung Luk Wu Stream Trek a couple weeks ago to do a bit of cliff jumping and thought I’d share some photos with my readers. (For more information on this event, it was mentioned here on FB). The host organizes events quite frequently, so keep an eye out.

Registration fee was HK$ 100 per person. About 80+ people signed up, but only about 60 turned up. We were split into 4 groups of ~15, and each team gets a leader (folks who are very familiar with the area and are usually instructors as such outdoor sports organizations such as Outward Bound, Young People’s Award and other outdoor training / team-bonding events companies). There was also a trained medic with each team to make sure everyone is safe and sound … overall, I thought this event was extremely well organized (thanks Jonn!).

All participants were to meet at 8:30AM on that Sunday at Pak Tam Chung in Sai Kung, where we would then take a minibus into the country park. If you ever decide to go during summer, please remember to insect repellents! Must bring! Anyway, here’s the area where you’ll be:

After about a 30 minute hike (mostly downhill) you’ll reach a point where the Luk Wu Stream and one of the beaches meet. From there, you are to walk upstream for another 10 until you reach a waterfall, then kick your shoes off, take of your shirt and do THIS!

Cliffjumping at Luk Wu Stream 1

Cliff jumping at Luk Wu Stream 1

Climb and jump!

Cliffjumping at Luk Wu Stream 2

Cliff jumping at Luk Wu Stream 2

The drop is about 10 (?) meters? Note of caution: It was raining the night before we went, and during our jump (after these photos were taken) it was also raining cats and dogs which means the water level is quite high and that the water was quite fresh. It might be different, perhaps a little more dangerous if you had gone and it hadn’t rain in a while. Just becareful!

Cliffjumping at Luk Wu Stream 3

Cliff jumping at Luk Wu Stream 3

Cliffjumping at Luk Wu Stream 4

Cliff jumping at Luk Wu Stream 4

After a couple hours of cliff jumping, rock climbing and abseiling, we continued walking towards Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣), which is probably one of the nicest beaches in Hong Kong and definitely my favorite camp site (from the Outward Bound / DEA / Young People’s Award days) in Sai Kung.

Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣) 1

Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣) 1

What a change from Repulse Bay beach, no?

Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣) 2

Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣) 2

Hoi Fung Store (海風士多) at Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣)

Hoi Fung Store (海風士多) at Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣)

Potato Wedges from Hoi Fung Store (海風士多)

Potato Wedges from Hoi Fung Store (海風士多)

Okay, I lied. So I do talk about food here 🙂 If you ever visit this Hoi Fung Store (which is more like a cafe) at Tai Long Sai Wan (大浪西灣), remember to get these wedges deep fried from real whole potatoes!

Edit: Also, if you’re looking for some places to jump on Hong Kong Island, when I was in highschool, we used to jump from this bridge in Tai Tam Reservoir (about 15 minutes walk into the country park from the South Bay side). Check it out!

Note: Photos taken with an iPhone.

On Lot 10

This is a place definitely worth blogging about 🙂

I’ve been to the old “Lot 10” in the same location on Gough Street before the Siuyeh days and didn’t think much of it (i.e. I never went back again) … until recently, when a friend suggested that we arrange yet another wine dinner and this time, the location would be “On Lot 10”.

Before I go on any further, it is probably worth mentioning that this restaurant changed owners recently, and hence the name has also changed … well, slightly. The bar and the tables were rearranged (here’s the website for Lot 10, again, not to be confused with “On Lot 10” so you can compare!) in what little but cozy space they have and the walls repainted. What goes unnoticed amid these subtle changes, is the seismic shift behind the scene. The new chef/owner is David Lai, who spent quite some time with The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco (and as I’ve found out here, he was also with Annexx and Zuma) prior to starting his own restaurant.

In a 30-second interview I had with Mr. Lai after my cover was blown (thanks guys!), he had mentioned that the concept behind this new restaurant is, to put it simply: Simplicity. Nothing too fancy, just simple, hearty dishes that hits home. And if I were to tag a style (of cuisine) to this restaurant, I’d say its a little leaning towards Spanish / French style.

Anyway, here’s what we had:

Mash potato with thin crispy bread

Mash potato with thin crispy bread

Garlicky-buttery mash potatoe with crispy bread slices to go with. Nothing extraordinary, but definitely a good way to starty the night.

Razor clam in white wine sauce

Razor clam in white wine sauce

I’ve had lots of clam dishes with white wine sauce + garlic + onion before, but not with razor clams (蟶子). And guess what? It tastes the same! But what I really do appreciate about this dish is the dab of spice added to the dish. When you drink the white wine sauce, its got a bit of a tingly feeling on your throat. I quite like that. Besides, I sometimes prefer razor clam because its got a bit more to chew on. The only problem with this dish was one of the clams I had, had a mouthful of sand in it … bleh … but this was probably more to do with my luck (or lack of) rather than the quality of the restaurant’s food.

Fresh baby tuna strip in hot oil

Fresh baby tuna strip in hot oil

This was a lot like how sardines are usually cooked – sliced into strips and I imagine the chef poured boiling hot oil (garlic flavoured?) onto the raw fish, and in this particular case, it was tuna (or TORO!!!) which made it even better. The fish was extremely fresh and especially after always having toro as sashimi or sushi, this was definitely a good switch.

La Doriane Condrieu

La Doriane Condrieu

All the while, we were washing down – more like savouring – our appetizers with this little gem, an aromatic and floral white from Rhone (Thank you Albert), which also has a 97 from RP. Unlike whites from say, New Zealand, this white has got a lot more layers and depth to its body. With a Cloudy Bay, you get that initial fruity “bang” and that’s it. With the Condrieu, you get a hit of flower … and after about 3-5 minutes, when you take another sip, you’d get a hit of fruits. It was evolving like a red.

It would’ve gone very well with truffle and foie gras and I’m starting to think maybe we should’ve saved this for the last dish. Nonetheless, this was an extremely good choice.

Edit: If you ask Nick to describe the wine to you, he would say “春天雨后的桃花香”. Yep. Go figure.

Carruades de Lafite 1995 & Chateau Lafleur 1996

Carruades de Lafite 1995 & Chateau Lafleur 1996

Meanwhile also, we played a game of iniminimanimo to see which of these grape juice gets to pair with the main dishes.

Soupe des Poissons

Soupe des Poissons

Then came, as the name suggests … the fish soup. It was (if I can decipher what was in it) tomato soup / paste / base, fish stock, and fish fillet that was all blended together, topped with a thin piece of crispy bread, spice and salty cream foam. Even after letting it cool for a while, the soup was still pretty hot – a sign that the oil content in the soup is quite high? That also means, perhaps, the fish was seared on a pan on high heat with olive oil and tomato paste, and after it was done, fish stock was poured into the pan and was simmered for a while … before everything was thrown into a blender, blended and served. I should write a book.

Skate fish fin

Skate fish fin

The host (Albert & Christine) had specifically asked for something out of the ordinary to pair with the wines in advance. So David handpicked this monster of a skate fish fin to be served as 1 of 2 of our main courses. To be quite honest, it didn’t look like much and maybe the word “fin” was a little misleading, but once we started cutting into the fin we can see it was actually like a big fish fillet … but some fin got in the way 🙂

The meat was very juicy and texture was smooth, save for bits of the outer layer that was oven-cooked until crunchy. I also like how the fish was able to retain so much of its own flavour without being marinated like crazy. If I remember correctly, only the outer layer was slightly salted … don’t quite remember if I’ve tasted any parsley and garlic … but if there was, it was very subtle.

It was the Carruades de Lafite that we opened, which is a second wine from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. It is definitely not as intense, and initially, I thought it was a little too light to be a Bordeaux wine. But after it opened up a little, the aroma was begging to come out, but you really had to work hard wondering what you taste.

Skate fish fin ... disected!

Skate fish fin ... disected!

This and the following dish was cooked just right (and I don’t use this term loosely … or do I?). It was as if both dishes needed to be cooked for a good 20 minutes on high heat and there was a 10 second window where the chef has to take it out, otherwise the dish becomes over-cooked? The chef manages to do it here with the skate fish and with the following roasted locally farmed chicken with black truffle, sweet peas “a le Francaise”.

Roasted locally farmed chicken with black truffle, sweet peas "a le Francaise"

Roasted locally farmed chicken with black truffle, sweet peas "a le Francaise"

I’m a HUGE fan of foie gras so I had requested that a couple be seared and thrown onto this dish. In retrospect, I could’ve done without because 1) I’ve had better foie gras and 2) the chicken, truffle and sweet peas combo was borderline orgasmic.

I should also mentioned that I rarely ever order chicken dish as a main course because 9 out of 10 times, the chicken usually turns out to be too dry. It happened to me at the Press Room. It happened at a few restaurants in Soho and some big name hotel restaurants. I didn’t do the ordering … so when I heard we got a chicken dish as a main course, I thought maybe I’d drink my sorrows away (yes, with HK$ 2,000 bottle of wines … I’m pimp like that) … but I have to say, this dish was definitely the underdog.

Everything about this dish was good

Everything about this dish was good

The chicken was juicy insides, crispy outside (just like that fish!) … and everything in the pan (i.e. chicken, carrot, radish, red radish and especially the peas) had absorbed what is now a very thick and potent chicken / truffle sauce.

A week since, I’m still reminincing that very dish. I’m going to write a poem now.

We killed it.

We killed it.

What you see in this last photo? That’s not how it ended. We killed every last pea on the pan, licked every last drop of chicken-truffle oil and then I used it as a mirror to pick teeth with toothpicks.

Siu Yeh Rating: 9.5/10!
Point were deducted for the sand in the razor clam and the foie gras, sorry!

On Lot 10
34 Gough Street
Noho, Central
Tel: +852 2155 9210
Mon-Sat 12.15pm-3pm & 6.45pm-midnight (last orders 10.30pm).

Wine Overload at One Harbour Road

How it all began … I lost a bet to a buddy of mine in badminton and the stake was: loser has to treat the winner to a fairly decent bottle of wine valued at no more than HK$ 1,500 to be savored with a group of friends. Ouch! Luckily for me, the event somehow turned out to be “everyone just bring a nice bottle of wine to dinner and we’ll all have it together”. Nice! No complaints there 🙂

The only problem was, we needed to find a restaurant where they won’t charge us corkage. We had 4 bottles (1 champagne and 3 reds) so corkage fee would’ve easily set us back HK$ 1,000+! Fortunately, my buddy Nick – the same guy I lost to in the bet (here’s your shout out btw) – knows the manager at One Harbour Road very well and the extra fees were waived. And that’s how it all started; great wine paired with great Chinese cuisine at One Harbour Road.

It was my first time there but the decor and ambiance reminds me a little bit like The Square (翠玉軒). Both are dimly-lit Cantonese restaurants (in fact, almost too dim for a Cantonese restaurant. I like them bright, loud and vibrant!), but One Harbour Road has an extraordinary view of Central and TST to brag about (See really bad photos below).

View of Central ... sort of

View of Central ... sort of

Well, if it wasn’t for the fogged up floor-to-ceiling windows … it would’ve been a pretty spectacular view of Central.

View from our Table at One Harbour Road

View from our Table at One Harbour Road

And here’s a view of TST.

In terms of food, I also find the 2 restaurants to be very similar as well. Maybe The Square is a little more creative with their dishes. I remember having a Spare Ribs with Strawberry Sauce and Strawberry Pocky (?!) the last time I was there. And then there’s the Fried Tiger Prawn with Orange Sauce. Maybe that’s why it was recently awarded a Michelin star? And they claim not to use any MSG in their food, which I think is true.

Anyway, I digress. So we started the night with a bottle of Krug … and normally, I would at least describe the champagne a little … but the champagne (as good as it was) was only to get us started while the other 3 bottles (the main attractions!) were being poured into decanters for breathing. They were, in the order we had them:

1990 Dominus Estate (USA, California, Napa Valley)
1995 Château La Mission Haut-Brion (France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan)
1986 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron (France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac)

3 of the best wines I've had ... so far

3 of the best wines I've had ... so far

BREATH BABY BREATH!!!

BREATH BABY BREATH!!!

It definitely helped that we had Albert from Sparkz school us about the different make, history and characteristics of each wine. Just from taking a sniff from each empty bottle, he was able to tell which wine we can drink first and which needed a little more time breathing. Amazing.

Over in the food department, we started the night with some extremely juicy and flavourful cha siu that was fresh off the oven. The sweetness from the honey and caramelized fat balanced out the saltiness from the soy sauce, not to mention how tender the meat was. This was definitely one of the best cha siu’s I’ve had in a while (the other really good cha siu experience I’ve had was at Tao Yuan 陶源 Seafood Restaurant in Wanchai). In retrospect, I wish I had saved a few pieces to go with Dominus we were about to have. But I was too hungry and couldn’t wait until the wine is ready.

The already-half-full plate of CHA SIU!!!

The already-half-full plate of CHA SIU!!!

And here enters the first star of the night: Dominus from Napa. We gave it about 30-45 minutes before we started drinking the first sip. By then it was still slightly premature, but all of us were anticipating the uphill hike to the moment when the wine would fully open up. And when it did, I was totally loving it. The color was a deep red, incredibly complex for a Napa wine, (almost Chateau-like, but no surprise there since the owner Christian Moueix also owns Petrus, which you’ve probably heard of) very fine and smooth with berry, black currant and earthy flavours. It probably took about another 30 minutes before it was completely ready. Part of the joy in drinking wine is the process of anticipating the opening-up of wine. You keep asking yourself “When is it going to reach its peak?”

Meanwhile, we had a Chicken, Pear and Snow Fungus (雪耳) Soup, which was a really smooth and hearty soup. It was pretty thick from the snow fungus and it lined the throat with a layer of all the nutrients from the pear and snow fungus, which has a soothing effect (润). HIGHLY recommended for those of you who has a sore throat from fried food or from a long night of karaoke. If it wasn’t for all the wine that we’ll be drinking, I think I would’ve had another bowl.

Chicken, Pear and Snow Fungus (雪耳) Soup

Chicken, Pear and Snow Fungus (雪耳) Soup

Anyway, while we were still waiting for the Dominus to continue breathing, the server had already poured our second red for the night, which was the 1995 Château La Mission Haut-Brion from Pessac-Léognan. Again, I took a sip just to see whether it was ready or not and it was still far from opening up. So all of us were swirling the glass like mad, hoping that the catalyst (air) would speed up the process.

The Haut-Brion thats also taking its time breathing ...

The Haut-Brion thats also taking its time breathing ...

But the mystery surrounding wine is, you never quite know when the time comes when it is ready or not. When you think its ready, the wine can get even better or it can go south pretty quickly, so what would you do?

Well, you can’t do much about it … so we ate some more and took little sips just to make sure our wine was still on the right track.

Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡)

Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡)

This is the Crispy Chicken (炸子鸡) which was almost identical to the one served at The Square. The layer of fried chicken skin was past-golden yellow, very crispy and very thin (very important) while the meat inside wasn’t dry as all and still retained its juiciness, but it was fully cooked … a sign that the dish was cooked just right.

Choi Sum (or was it Asparagus?) with Beef

Choi Sum (or was it Asparagus?) with Beef

Then there’s the beef and tofu dish.

All the while, everyone on the table kept swirling and swirling …

Braised Tofu with Bak Choy

Braised Tofu with Bak Choy

Braised eggplant and minced beef pot. Its the ultimate dish to go with steamed rice!

Braised Eggplant with Minced Beef in Pot

Braised Eggplant with Minced Beef in Pot

None of the food we ordered were really “heavy” per se, but each dish has very intense flavours (especially the eggplant pot) that, I think, really complements the wines we were having.

And then we kept swirling some more until finally … the Haut-Brion is ready! By now, I was pretty much done with the Dominus, which I thought was the best wine I’ve ever had. But that was until I tried the La Mission Haut-Brion again and that sent my senses off the charts. What was a very acidic / tannicky (?) wine 10-15 minutes ago is now an incredibly intense and smooth wine. Very fragrant dark berries scent. It just goes down really easy and the after taste that lingers was equally as elegant.

Then came the last of the 3 – a 1986 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, which after around 3 hours of decanting, is finally opening up too. Now it was a race to to savour both the Haut-Brion and Pichon Baron at the same time! The latter was opening up really quickly, almost like a spike … the fruit was still there in abundance, but the acidity is gone which is great. Like the Haut-Brion, it has a really long finish …

Just as I remembered there was still a quarter glass of Haut-Brion left, I took a sip and it was dead 😦 I almost felt like crying because thats probably like a couple hundred bucks there. My first time juggling so many different types of wine at once but it turned out to be a pretty fun experience.

In the end, I thought the dishes where nothing fancy (i.e. simple dishes), but they were really well cooked and goes very well with the wine. Until I try an ’82 Lafite-Rothschild, I think I’m pretty damn satisfied with what we had here!

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10 for the restaurant, 10/10 for the wines!

One Harbour Road
7/F. & 8/F., Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
1 Habour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong

People of HK Soho Unite: BOYCOTT The Spot Bar

So last night, after a good workout at Pure (Kinwick), some friends and I decided to drop by a sports bar and watch the Federer-Monfils match of the French Opens. Unfortunately, only sports bar that offer Cable Television (not Now, since the former has the rights to broadcast the French Opens in Hong Kong) show the games.

But we stumbled across a packed crowd inside The Spot Bar in Soho on Staunton Street that was showing the match. A very well-dressed gentleman greeted us by the door and asked how many was in our little group. I said “3” and so he said without hesitation, “There are seats inside near the bar” … “GREAT!” I thought. So we made our way through the crowd and to our dismay, when we reached the bar, a very polite female server regrettably said to us “there aren’t any seats left”. I looked around the tables, sure enough most of the patrons had already been working half-way through their drinks, so they must’ve been sitting there for a while. Maybe the gentleman by the door (whom I’m assuming is the owner of The Spot Bar … great name by the way, and yes I’m being sarcastic) thought there were seats left.

“Oh its okay, we’ll stand”, I replied to the lady.

After tending to her tasks, the lady came back and said “Sir, are you sure you want to be standing here? You’re standing right next to the bathrooms” … She’s right. No I don’t want to be standing next to toilets.

So as we’re making our way out the bar, the same gentleman said to us “We also have a bar down the slope, also showing French Opens and there are seats”. I’m sold. What a good salesman. He said the 3 things I want to hear most in one line:

  1. Bar (close by)
  2. French Opens
  3. Seats available

He even offered to walk us down! What incredible service! So we followed him around the corner and he showed us into this bar called the “Hidden Vine” (next to Archie B’s and Taco Laco) and as we walked inside … it looked nothing like a sports bar! What worse is there isn’t even a TV in there!

I asked the manager at the Hidden Vine whether they’re showing the French Opens and she sounded very confused. We stormed off and the same guy who showed us the place had brought 3 more victims (Caucasian kids … I’ll bet they’re also there for the match).

Then I said some not-very-nice things to his face (he pouted and shrugged and gave me that “Hey, you fell for the trick … its not my fault you’re retarded” kind of message), I warned the kids about this scam artist, made a scene and I left.

Seriously, I understand business owners trying to make a buck or sth, but is this guy stupid? (Well, he’s not, he’s very smart). But still … prick.

Boycott THE SPOT BAR.

Unfortunately for him, he just messed with a *ahem* famous local food blogger.

Okay, in all seriousness … how can you trust anything (from food to booze) and even the bill you pay from a guy like this? Is he going to use food that has already expired? Is he going to use fake Shenzhen alcohol and serve it as the real deal? Is he going to charge you slightly more on the bill and hope that you won’t notice? I’ll leave that for you to decide.

Siu Yeh Rating: -100. First negative rating ever on this blog and likely to be the only one.

Fool me once … and SHAME ON YOU!!!