Shang Palace at Shenzhen Shangri-la Hotel

Not going to go into much detail here. Just wanted to let you all know (if you haven’t heard already) that there’s an all-you-can-eat dimsum lunch menu at Shang Palace at Shenzhen Shangri-la Hotel for only RMB 98! I think between my friend and I, for RMB 196 (Yes! RMB 98 per head and no extra service charge!) we bankrupted the restaurant.

This reminds me of the RMB 78 brunch at Lynn (琳怡中餐厅) across from Plaza 66 in Shanghai. I wonder if that deal is still around. It was fantastic.

Anyway, in particular, I want to point you to 3 dishes we thought were excellent:

  • Soup Dumplings (灌湯餃) – of course, don’t expect the same quality, size and appearance as ones you might find at Yixin Restaurant (益新), where all the soup is contained in the dumpling and you must poke it and let all the soup out … nothing like that.
  • X.O. Sauce Fried Rice Noodle Rolls (X.O. 醬炒腸粉) – I like this because I think most of the time, they fry this dish when you order them. They didn’t just pick them up from a pot full of it because its still a bit crunchy on the outside and really hot inside. The hotel-made X.O. sauce is also slightly spicy, but the dried shrimp and the conpoy help add a lot of flavour to it.
  • Steamed Beef Balls with Bean Curd Skin (山竹牛肉球) – Really soft beef balls and crunchy, although the “softness” might have something to do with soda powder, which makes this dish the one and only dish I am fine if the chef decides to use soda powder to make the beef less tender. And “crunchy” from the generous amount of chopped water chestnuts (馬蹄) and green onion adding into the beef balls.

Other dimsums were pretty decent too, but these 3 stood out from the rest.

All-you-can-eat at Shang Palace in SZ

All-you-can-eat at Shang Palace in SZ

Soup Dumplings (灌湯餃)

Soup Dumplings (灌湯餃)

Salt & Pepper Deep-fried Tofu (椒鹽豆腐)

Salt & Pepper Deep-fried Tofu (椒鹽豆腐)

X.O. Sauce Fried Rice Noodle Rolls (X.O. 醬炒腸粉)

X.O. Sauce Fried Rice Noodle Rolls (X.O. 醬炒腸粉)

Cabbage with Abalone Sauce (No Abalone)

Cabbage with Abalone Sauce (No Abalone)

Chive Dumplings (韭菜餃)

Chive Dumplings (韭菜餃)

Beef Tripe (牛柏葉)

Beef Tripe (牛柏葉)

Steamed Beef Balls with Bean Curd Skin (山竹牛肉球)

Steamed Beef Balls with Bean Curd Skin (山竹牛肉球)

Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)

Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)

(Happy) Egg Tarts

(Happy) Egg Tarts

Seriously, between the 2 of us, we had about RMB 380-400 worth of food, so the deal was definitely a great value. You’re very likely to hit the target anyway, so I recommend you stick with it.

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10

Note: Photos taken with a BlackBerry Curve 8900.

Shangri-La Hotel
2/F., Shangri-La Hotel Shenzhen
East Side, Railway Station
1002 Jianshe Road
Shenzhen 518001, China
T: (86 755) 8233 0888
F: (86 755) 8233 9878

Epoch Coffee Bar & Desserterie on Star Street

There are 2 Epoch Coffee Bar & Desserterie’s – 1 in Taikoo Shing and another on Star Street, next to Yomama. (Speaking of Yomama, Siuyeh heard there’ll be a new location in IFC2 soon. Woohoo!). The one I’m blogging about is the branch in Wanchai, which apparently is a popular location amongst local film directors & screenplay writers (famous and not-so-famous) looking for inspiration to their next project(s). I once saw Alfred Cheung Kin-Ting (張堅庭) there so I guess what people say is true. I wonder why it is so inspirational. Is it the quiet neighbourhood of the Star Street Precinct? Or is the the music area equipped with professional sound system with “hard-to-find Chill Out, Lounge and Nu Jazz CD’s hand-picked by DJ Preston”?

Anyway, Epoch brews some pretty decent coffee but something else Epoch is known for is Tracy Tsui Sim Kwok, who works in the Taikoo Shing branch. She was the winner of the Hong Kong Grand Barista Championship and represented our city as 1 of only 2 International GBC Finalists in the Danes Grand Barista Championship 2009 about 2 weeks ago.

Here’s an excerpt from the official website:

Although Tracy didn’t manage this year a top three placing, her latte art and table settings were scored very highly by judges and amongst the best.  Tracy had a great following in Sydney, all travelled from Hong Kong and they get my personal award ‘ best cheer squad ‘.  Sitting in the front row, Tracy’s cheer squad roared with support as Tracy entered the stage and finished her session.  ‘Tracy, you did a magnificent job, I am personally very proud of you as I believe are your colleagues and the rest of Hong Kong Barista fraternity!  You’re a different barista from the experience of the HK GBC and now Australasia GBC; you’re the HK Grand Barista and I believe a role model for other baristas to aspire to in the profession of a barista ‘.  Please everybody send Tracy a note of congrats; she’s done HK proud!

So congrats again on a great performance!

Anyway, I dropped by for lunch the other day, so I thought maybe I’d do a write-up. Unfortunately, I’m not much a coffee drinker but I do drink cappuccino so viola! Epoch’s illy cappuccino. Good size; neither too little or too much – perfect for taking a few small sips. It is slightly leaning towards a chocolately aroma (with a hint of nuttiness fragrance), which I suppose is what makes a cup of cappuccino – also the reason I like it.

Cappuccino at Epoch

Cappuccino at Epoch

Almond Brownie at Epoch on Star Street

Almond Brownie at Epoch on Star Street

We had an almond brownie to go with our coffee, but it tasted a little stale as if its been sitting inside the jar for a little longer than it should’ve. So after a small bite, I had move swiftly on to the “pizza”. Nothing beats Mrs. Field’s 3 Chocolate Brownies.

Deluxe Pizza (on Panini Bread) at Epoch on Star Street

Deluxe Pizza (on Panini Bread) at Epoch on Star Street

I was expecting a traditional (round) pizza so imagine my astonishment when this came. Then I look at the menu on the wall again, and they did in fact print very clearly and in parenthesis “Pizza (On Panini Bread)” or something along those lines. How did I miss it?! It wasn’t even fine print. But no matter, because I love Panini bread so this was a good experience to try a pizza on Panini bread … or Panini with melted cheese, pepperoni and pepper strips, depending on how you look at it.

The bread itself was still a little spongy, so in a way the texture felt like soft thick-crust pizza from Pizza Hut, only the crust wasn’t as crunchy. I guess I prefer the standard pizza better. And after this, I realized I only really like Panani bread if was oven toasted and squashed, like the Chicken Pesto Panini we had afterwards.

Chicken Pesto Panini at Epoch on Star Street

Chicken Pesto Panini at Epoch on Star Street

Here, the pesto sauce was tasty enough, but the chicken was a little tough and a little too dry. Too dry in fact that even the melted mozzarella (or was it provolone?) cheese couldn’t really help. The grill Panani bread was good though!

Will I go back? Yes, I’d go back for drinks and coffee. The atmosphere and environment is definitely superb for a nice Sunday coffee with your favorite novel.

Siu Yeh Rating: 6.5/10 for food, 8/10 for coffee

Note: Photos taken with a BlackBerry Curve 8900.

Epoch Coffee Bar & Desserterie
12-14 Wing Fung Street
Star Street Precinct, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3525 1570
Website: www dot epochcoffeebar dot com

Bo-Lo’Gne ボローニャ

Is it me or is baked dough getting more and more expensive? This is the first time I hear there’s a waiting list for a loaf of bread. Really. This is ridiculous, but true! Apparently if you put an order in today, your specially prepared loaf of bread will be ready in about 5-6 days. This phenomenon isn’t exactly news in Japan, where bread really is treated like a designer-slash-fashion item (as with most things in Japan). This is why it is also not surprising that this bakery I’m about to blog about is from – you guessed right – JAPAN! How boring.

But Japan really is making some quality dough, so much so that even a French graphic artist Jean Pierre Dardenne said: “Every time I go back to France, I’m surprised at how mediocre the bread tastes. Tokyo boulangeries have spoiled me.” Ouch. Japan: 5,185,714,371,483. France: 0.

Anyway, this pea-size of an exclusive bakery outlet is located on the slant of Aberdeen Street (between Caine Road and Stauton Street). Its been around for a month or 2 now?

Bo-Lo-Gne on Aberdeen Street

Bo-Lo-Gne on Aberdeen Street

Danish Pastry from Bo-Lo'Gne

Danish Pastry from Bo-Lo'Gne

MY GAWDNESS THIS DANISH BREAD IS SOOO DELICIOUSLY, FLAKELY, BUTTERY AND PASTRY-LY GOOD!!! I ❤ AND EMBRACE THIS BREAD LIKE NO OTHER!!! No. I refuse to describe this piece of bread like it was some culinary marvel and be all pretentious that there’s a big difference between pastry with 64 layers or 128 layers or whatever the magic number is. To me, its one more fold. And to me, its pastry … pastry from a bakery whose name I can’t even pronounce (if its Bologne, then yes, I can pronounce it. Not “Bo-Lo’Gne”. WTF. Kind of sounds like the music I make when I chunder.) Here are some more photos from OpenRice.

The truth is, this pastry is pretty good. Was it the best I’ve ever had? It’s definitely up there in the top 5 best pastry in my books. You can definitely tell they use quality ingredients and spent a lot of time folding (and “caring”, as pastry chef like to call it) the dough as they were preparing it. I do not doubt the passion and dedication they’ve put into making this a great pastry, but … I think there’s bad pastry and there’s good pastry. This is good pastry. End of story. I just don’t understand what the hype is about. Sorry.

Expensive? Yes! Worth it? Debatable. Will I go back, yes definitely. I think it’ll be a great breakfast to wake up to … also if you’re feeling dandily … Danish. HUR.

Here’s the intro to the bakery on their pamphlets and website homepage:

“A legend said that Bologne was the first person who caused the boom of Danish Bread in Japan. Being made in Kyoto, it became popular throughout the entire Japan country and is known as the magical bread. It is made by a unique skill so as to form a beautiful marble pattern, and to become crispy outside and soft inside. Its slightly moistened, sweet flavour is just like the taste of luxury cakes.”

Sugar: HK$18
Chocolate: HK$18
Blueberry: HK$20
Strawberry: HK$20
Marmalade: HK$20

August 26th Edit: I official retract some statements I made earlier. When I first blogged about this joint,  it was a typical case of “bashing it without trying it”-type of thing. So I finally tried the pastry loaf this morning, which took like 4 days from order to pickup. Its like a loaf of white bread, except its was a creamy pastry with hundreds of layers … creamy golden colored, not too buttery which I appreciate very much. I toasted it so that some of the buttery crust becomes slightly crunchy and then I added a fig jam spread. OMG, the best damn thing ever. So soft and chewy. I still think the Danish pastry isn’t much though 🙂 But the loaf is amazing. Must try.

Siu Yeh Rating: 9/10

Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900.

Bo-Lo’Gne ボローニャ
Shop 1, G/F., 41-49
Aberdeen Street, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2950 0600
Fax: +852 2950 0669
Website: www dot bolognehk dot com

Foodie Boardgames.

Vince puts all of us foodies to shame by taking his love of food and boardgames to the next level.

Foodie Fight - A Trivia Game for Serious Food Lovers

Foodie Fight - A Trivia Game for Serious Food Lovers

We tried playing Foodie Fight just now and it was pretty hard. Between an experienced chef, a diehard foodie and a self-proclaimed food blogger (that’ll be me), we got about 30-40% of the questions right. These are some of the simpler ones:

Q: Who was the host of America’s first TV cooking show, I LOVE TO EAT, which debuted in 1946?
A: James Beard (The equivalent of the Oscars for chefs is also aptly named “The James Beard Foundation Awards”)

Q: How many bubbles are there in a bottle of Champagne?
A: About 49 million (You learn something new everyday!)

Q: What food did Julius Caesar introduce to Rome in 40 B.C.?
A: Sausage

Celebrity Chef! The Game

Celebrity Chef! The Game

This one was much easier. We hit like 80-90% of these questions correctly. Its got more practical questions for those who are into wine, food preparation & cooking, etc.

I told you we’re serious losers foodies!

Something ELSE a Big Mac Tells You.

The Big Mac index* by the Economist is nothing new, but here’s something else the economics of a Big Mac derives. Preeeeetty interesting stuff.

Working Time Needed to Buy a Big Mac

Working Time Needed to Buy a Big Mac

*And I quote “The Economist’s Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity, under which exchange rates should adjust to equalise the cost of a basket of goods and services, wherever it is bought around the world. Our basket is the Big Mac. The cheapest burger in our chart is in China, where it costs $1.30, compared with an average American price of $3.15. This implies that the yuan is 59% undervalued.”

Foodie Fan: Training Table Trauma?

An excerpt from BW, which I find quite amusing. The amount of food consumed at an NFL team’s training camp can probably feed a family in rural China for years. Kinda reminded of the time when news broke out during the BJ Olympics that Phelps consumes some 12,000 calories a day or sth like that, single-handedly taking the phrase “get in my belly” to a whole new level.

**********

Last week, the Chargers’ Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 for using Twitter to complain about the food at training camp. But the cornerback didn’t go into detail about what on his plate was so “nasty.”

It wasn’t likely lasagna, as lunch reportedly came from the Brigantine (seafood) and Peohe’s (tropical seafood), two of San Diego’s more popular restaurants. So maybe Cromartie doesn’t like fish. Whatever his non-beef, there was plenty of it. The Atlanta Constitution claims that 4,800 pounds of chicken will be eaten during the Falcons’ training camp meals; the team is also expected to consume “600 pounds of bacon, 1,300 pounds of fish, and 500 gallons of milk.” In 2000 the Denver Broncos allegedly consumed 5,150 pounds of vegetables during training camp—and went on to win 11 games.

Athletes and food go hand to mouth. The Bills’ Terrell Owens’ new cereal, “TO’s,” was officially unveiled in late July; New York grocery store chain Tops Markets sold over 11,000 boxes in the first week. Ben Roethlisberger sells beef jerky in Pittsburgh, and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia markets his own salsa in Boston. IHOP just signed a short-term sponsorship deal with the NFL and has added “NFL Stuffed French Toast” and the “QB Scramble” to its menu. Even top chef Emeril Lagasse is jumping on the sports chuckwagon—he plans to open a sports-themed restaurant called Lagasse’s Stadium this fall at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.

Aside from Cromartie’s revelations, the gastronomic shocker of the week comes from the Dallas Cowboys, who are charging luxury suite patrons $60 for a plain cheese pizza. Let’s just hope it’s Texas-sized.

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Rick Horrow is a leading expert in the business of sports. As CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures, he has been the architect of 103 deals worth more than $13 billion in sports and other urban infrastructure projects. He is also the sports business analyst for CNN, Fox Sports, and the Fox Business Channel.

Tea is of the EssenSe!

A bit late to be writing up about this since the Tea Fair (and the Hong Kong Food Expo) has already ended. Although I wasn’t there to witness the Milk Tea Challenge live on Sunday, I was there on Friday and Saturday and every time I walked past the milk tea booth, I was quite tempted to try those thick, smooth and aromatic milk tea that has become as iconic a Hong Kong symbol as the Bauhinia blakeana … umm, perhaps even more so.

Milk Tea Challenge at the Tea Fair

Milk Tea Challenge at the Tea Fair

How’s this for the Hong Kong flag? The MTSAR.

The Special Administrative Region of Milk Tea

The Special Administrative Region of Milk Tea

Anyway, here’s the recipient of the respective awards for the Milk Tea Challenge:

Gold: 大發餐厅
Silver: 太興燒味餐廳
Bronze: 鄭記士多 (These lunatics here serve HK$68 glass of milk tea. Nutcase. I will try it though … once.)
Runner-ups: 魚菜消費合作社, 扒王之王, 锦城餐厅

So what happened to Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園)?! Some say they’ve already proved themselves and they see no need for this kind of promotion. Others say the folks at Lan Fong Yuen can’t handle the pressure of coming in second place or lower. Or maybe the whole things rigged, although I do stand by the decision with 太興燒味餐廳 – they really do serve some pretty damn smooth milk tea. Well, regardless of it all … I think its a great marketing gimmick and its good for the Hong Kong-Milk Tea image and business.

Anyway, moving swiftly on to real Chinese tea. Not far from where all the action was, gathered another pocket of traders, retailers and visitors curious to learn more about an up-and-coming tea brand: Essense Tea.

Essense Tea at the Tea Fair

Essense Tea at the Tea Fair

The booth did extremely well throughout the 3 days of the exhibition and generated A LOT of buzz, more so even than Ying Kee Tea House (英記茶莊) just opposite. Chua Lam (蔡瀾), famous local food critic and wine & tea connoisseur was amongst one of many such celebrities to drop to say hello.

So what’s so special about this Essense Tea? Think: the best bag of tea your grandparents saved for some grand occasion, placed inside a state-of-the-art tea bag (produced in Japan), sealed with nitrogen gas to preserve the freshness of the tea leaves (packaged in Hong Kong) … and all of this began with a passion, philosophy and principle that tea should be shared. This whole tea-drinking culture might just really pick up amongst young 20-40 year-olds.

As of right now, only 3 types of teas are offered. They are:

  • Baiyaqilan Oolong Tea
    Golden Tip Red Tea
    Hubei Steamed Green Tea
  • Baiyaqilan Oolong Tea
  • Golden Tip Red Tea
  • Hubei Steamed Green Tea

And Essense Tea is keeping a tight-lip as to what other exotic tea flavours they’ll be offering soon. It certainly won’t be the more common names you find in the Lipton collection. Stay tuned for more on their website.

Enjoying a Cup of Top Quality Baiyaqilan from Essense Tea

Enjoying a Cup of Top Quality Baiyaqilan from Essense Tea

About Essense

Essense was founded on the principle that tea is a gift to be shared, so we strive to offer fine teas to please every palette. We feel that a variety of savory teas should be accessible to everyone, not just the privileged few.

To that end we are always scouring the world for teas, both traditional and exotic, for all occasions; from weddings to Sunday afternoons, as presents or for personal enjoyment.

As we share the gift of tea with you, we hope you share Essense with your friends and family.

Their Philosophy

Our pleasure and passion are sharing the joy and serenity found in a good cup of tea.

We are committed to offering a variety of delectable teas from around the world, a blend of class and culture.

To achieve this goal, we have teamed up our tea connoisseurs with world-class suppliers to deliver a sensation to savor; each cup, every cup.

Note: Photos taken with a BlackBerry Curve 8900

Disclaimer: Essense Tea was founded and owned by a dear friend of the writer at Siuyeh.com.

Credit: Special thanks to Go Public for creating the flag for use in this article.