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

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Hokkaido Day 5: 小尊政壽司 Masazushi in Otaru

On our final day in Hokkaido, we only had time for one more meal … and had I known about Sushi Zen, I suppose we would’ve just stayed in Sapporo. Instead, we took at 30-minute JR train ride to Otaru (quite a bit of trouble for lunch don’t you think?), which is a sea-side town northwest of Sapporo.

The town was known for its port and at one point, the Otaru Canal (小樽運河), ran through the middle of the town, but now only a portion of it has been preserved.

Otaru Canal Warehouse (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal Warehouse (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal (小樽運河)

Otaru Canal (小樽運河)

So, having seen the canal (the only tourist attraction we had time for), we randomly found a sushi restaurant to fill us up, which turned out to be pretty decent. Here’s Masazuhi using Google Map.

The restaurant is on the second floor and has very clean design and decor. The staff team is very accommodating and very well-mannered (as you would usually expect in Japan).

Masazushi in Otaru

Masazushi in Otaru

The chefs do their thang after we made our order …

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 1

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 1

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 2

Chef Preparing Our Food at Masazushi 2

And while we wait for the chefs to prepare our sushi platters, we poured ourselves soy sauce for the sushi … AND for the sashimi.

Soy Sauce for Sushi ... and Sashimi?

Soy Sauce for Sushi ... and Sashimi?

Masazushi is one of only a few Japanese restaurants I’ve been to that serves both soy sauce for sushi and soy sauce for sashimi.

Japanese soy sauce brands such as Kikkoman develops sauces which ranges from light, sweet and mild to dark, less sweet and rich. As a general rule of thumb (and correct me if I am wrong), sashimi uses the lighter one while sushi would be better paired if it had been dipped into a slightly richer / darker sauce. The logical reason I guess is because sushi has a block of rice, which itself is … bland, I suppose. Its all about the balance! … Yeh .. yeh, I’m right.

“The balance of sweetness and saltiness, as well as a special blend of natural ingredients, pairs well with wasabi (Japanese horseradish paste) and heightens the flavor of sushi and sashimi” … an excerpt from the Kikkoman website.

Sushi Platter at Masazushi in Otaru

Sushi Platter at Masazushi in Otaru

They were all so good and fresh … but what stood out in particular was the roe on rice. The roe was slightly bigger than most of what I’ve tried before, but much juicier and much more complex (probably a bit sweeter as well).

Uni, Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hamachi (?) and Toro Nigirizushi

Uni, Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Hamachi (?) and Toro Nigirizushi

The marbling on the toro almost looks like marbling on an A5 Kobe!

Toro Sashimi - Cut 1

Toro Sashimi - Cut 1

Toro Sashimi - Cut 2

Toro Sashimi - Cut 2

Here, we were given 2 different cuts of toro sashimi to try. Both equally as good … but subconsciously, it feels like the second cut is better … probably because it was thicker. They should just give me 20 ounce of it to chew on …

Toro Sushi ... Again!

Toro Sushi ... Again!

Tako Sushi and Something Else (Sorry, I Forgot)

Tako Sushi and Something Else (Sorry, I Forgot)

We had tako sushi and something else as well, I can’t quite remember (I’m going to have to get back to you) … but its a really fatty fish, and is usually consumed half grilled, as you can see from the photo.

In the end, I almost want to say “this is as fresh as it gets” since we’re sitting in the north-most town in Hokkaido (even though the seafood might’ve still gone through a pretty elaborate supply chain), but I want to save that line for that day when I catch the fish from the sea 🙂

Masazushi (小尊政壽司)
Otaru, Hokkaido
Japan

Hokkaido Day 4: Ramen Alley in Sapporo

Again, using Google technology (and why not? Japan’s cities is one of Google’s most mapped-out places on earth!), you’ll find the Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁) if you right click the arrow (right arrow) 5 times.

You’ll see a nightclub called “Club Taliswomen” (lol, I like how they just turned “Talisman” into “Taliswoman” which makes no sense), and the famous Ramen Alley is on its immediate left. Yes, the area is known for its nightclubs … there are literally, hundreds of them around. By the way, gentlemen, I’m sure the “Ramen Alley” excuse has been used numerous times … you might want to use something a little more creative … “Honey, I’m going to grab some ramen with some buddies tonight, … sorry its an all guys thing … don’t wait up tonight” just ain’t going to work!

Anyway, the place where we had our ramen was located right in the center of the alley on the left (if you are entering from the Club Taliswomen side).

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

The Ramen Alley in Sapporo

I forgot which one it was …

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

¥800 Authentic Japanese Ramen? Deal!

I suppose 800円 isn’t exactly cheap for a bowl of ramen, but given the size and quality of the ramen, it was pretty good value. This meal also turned out to be one of the cheapest of the trip, but its definitely up there as one of the most memorable.

If you look closely at the menu, you’ll see something that says “四代目店主” … that means the ramen noodle joint has been operating for 4 generations now, and this chef (pictured below) is the latest bloke to run the family ramen business. Let’s all hope he has a child to continue the legacy.

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Yes, the 4th Generation Chef is Frying our Ramen Soup-base and Stuff

Here, the 4th gen chef is seen putting garlic, spring onion, onion and some secret ingredients into the wok and frying it before adding the soup base.

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The Best Damn Bowl of Ramen, I Have Ever Had ... So Far ...

The result? The best ramen I’ve had. The ramen noodle itself is also home-made. Its fresh, chewy and soft (but not too soft). It taste and feels as if it had absorbed a little bit of the soup on its outer layer. Yep … I’m that good with food now.

The soup-base which is pretty much just oil anyway … its really hot (also from the oil) and flavourful. Definitely garlicky, a bit soy-saucy (like I said, its thick!) and somewhere in there, I can almost taste sesame, corn and carrot.

Well, that’s the stuff that you can’t really see in the photo … but what you can see, the half-sliced egg, and the not-so-generous slice of pork was like a 3-point from the half-way line that sealed the game. The egg was boiled to a point where if you slice it in halves, the yolk is a little runny still … and that’s how you know its a good ramen egg 🙂 We used this egg-method to gauge the quality of the ramen joints in the alley.

The pork was also very well … porky. It wasn’t dry and it wasn’t cold … but that might be because it was sitting in a boiling bowl of noodle for so long. The only downside to the pork is, there’s too little meat (and too much fat!).

Gyoza

Gyoza

The gyoza was only so-so though … nothing to write home about.

Will I be back? No doubt. But then there are another 19 (assuming there are 20 ramen restaurants in the Alley) to try out … what to do?!

Ramen Alley in Sapporo
Somewhere in Sapporo (Check above Google Map)

Hokkaido Day 4: 二十四軒 Seafood Market (Part Two)

As mentioned, this restaurant is connected with the market next door, serving only the freshest of seafood “straight from the sea!”. The decor is pretty simple and while we were there at 3-4PM, there were surprisingly quite a few groups of people coming in to enjoy the seafood, and most of them are local! Somehow, that tells me we found the right spot.

Menu at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Menu at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Menu 2 at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Menu 2 at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Simple, but definitely a solid selection of cooked / raw food. Whatever you see in the market next door that you don’t see here on the menu, just tell me what you want and the staff will get it and prepare it for you 🙂

Sea Urchin at at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Sea Urchin at at 海鲜食堂 at Nijuyonken Seafood Market (二十四軒)

Uni taken straight from the spiky black echinoderms creature … thingy. A little watery though, I actually prefer the dry ones you find at most sushi restaurants. This is as fresh as it usually gets. But I’ve seen videos where people just pluck these things out from the sea, cracks it open and drinks it. Dayum.

I ❤ Uni with a friggin’ passion, you slimy little thing …

Toro!

Toro!

This toro was fresh, but definitely not the best I’ve had. If you look closely at the toro, notice there’s a spot in the middle that’s a little gray? Yeh … I thought that was a little weird, but it didn’t taste like its gone bad or anything … very awkward. BUT … still good.

Conch and Abalone

Conch and Abalone

Both crunchy and sweet in the Chinese sense (爽甜) … I actually prefer the conch a little more.

The bill came out to be around ¥20,000 … so I guess this isn’t as cheap as we had imagine. Then again, we did have some pretty expensive seafood … perhaps, we should’ve just stuck with cooked / grilled food.

二十四軒 (Nijuyonken) 西 28 丁目
Sapporo, Hokkaido
Japan

Hokkaido Day 4: 二十四軒 Seafood Market (Part One)

Not exactly Nijo Fish Market, but pretty similar. Nijuyonken Seafood Market is situated about 10 minutes (by foot) east from the Nijuyonken Station.

Hokkaido King Crabs ... and Lots of Them

Hokkaido King Crabs ... and Lots of Them

¥4980 for a Box of Uni? What? That Seems a Little Expensive ...

¥4980 for a Box of Uni? What? That Seems a Little Expensive ...

Scallops, Clams and Conch ... YUMS

Scallops, Clams and Conch ... YUMS

More Crabs ... But a Different Type ...

More Crabs ... But a Different Type ...

And More Crabs Still ...

And More Crabs Still ...

4 Types of Roe to Choose From ...

4 Types of Roe to Choose From ...

... I'm Getting Quite Sick of Crabs ...

... I'm Getting Quite Sick of Crabs ...

Fish! Finally ...

Fish! Finally ...

Its definitely not SiuYeh-style if I had only taken photos without reporting to you what the food was like … and not-so-coincidentally, there was a restaurant (which is part of the same store anyway) that serves seafood … yes, the seafood taken from the market next door. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Stay tuned for more … 🙂

二十四軒 (Nijuyonken) 西 28 丁目
Sapporo, Hokkaido
Japan

Hokkaido Day 4: Crab Feast

We had just taken a 3-hour bus ride from Niseko to Sapporo. Fatigue and hunger struck us like crazy … so we just walked into anything decent that was within a 50 meter radius from our hotel. And what do you think caught our attention?

A really really big King Crab!

Crab Restaurant in Sapporo 北三西三 District

Crab Restaurant in Sapporo 北三西三 District

Deciding Which Crab Feast to Have ...

Deciding Which Crab Feast to Have ...

Some Sort of King Crab ...

Some Sort of King Crab ...

Fried Crab Cake ... in the Shell

Fried Crab Cake ... in the Shell

Some Other Crabs ... I really have no clue

Some Other Crabs ... I really have no clue

Crab Hotpot ...

Crab Hotpot ...

Where those Crabs Resides ...

Where those Crabs Resides ...

The End.

Haha … not really. Gosh, I really don’t know what to say … I’m not crazy about crabs. The entire building belongs to this one restaurant and we dined on the 7th floor. It has some really really old (read: 1980’s) decor to it and the place smells like old moist wood with toilet-grade fresheners.

I have to be fair though … the food wasn’t bad at all … and they were probably really delicately prepared. But it felt like one of those restaurants where if you had taken a tour, they’d take you there and the tour guide would get some rebates, etc. Yeh … one of those places. If you like what you see in the photos, then this is probably the place for you.

The only thing I really like is the fried crab cake. Otherwise, all the rest just tasted like very fresh crabs with some very nice dipping sauce.

This is probably my worst entry. I have a back-log of 1 month’s worth of stuff to write! This should be my full-time job!

Some crab restaurant in the 北三西三 area
Sapporo, Hokkaido
Japan

Hokkaido Day 3: Pirka Teppanyaki (Part Two)

Next in line …

More Goodies from the OTHER World

More Goodies from the OTHER World

Kobe Beef Sirloin at 100g (for each person) … possibly one of the finest piece of raw beef I’ve ever seen …

Freshly Harvest Salad

Freshly Harvest Salad

Before the chef goes on his mission to grill those sacred Kobes, we were served this freshly harvest salad with Japanese Garlic / Onion dressing (I don’t remember). It was really fresh … but the lettuce just tasted like really fresh lettuce. The tomato tasted like really fresh tomatoes … the carrot tasted like really fresh carrot, you get my point. Although I don’t remember whether that was pumpkin or sweet potato … anyway …

Seal Both Sides to Contain the Juice!

IMPORTANT: Seal Both Sides to Contain the Juice!

Just place the meet on the teppanyaki at high heat and let the marbling on the beef do its job. Here, the chef is sealing the juice from both sides of the beef to contain the juice within.

Meanwhile ... in an open space in front of us ...

Meanwhile ... in an open space in front of us ...

Meanwhile, we didn’t think we ordered enough food so we ordered some more sushi to fill us up 🙂

Our Steak Turned into Strips ... and then into Cubes

Our Steak Turned into Strips ... and then into Cubes

And the next thing we noticed, the chef’s already dicing the Kobe steak into cubes …

Kobe Beef Sirloin 100g

Kobe Beef Sirloin 100g

And here you have it: Kobe Beef Sirloin …

3 Different Types of Dipping Sauce for Your Kobes

3 Different Types of Dipping Sauce for Your Kobes

There were 3 types of dipping sauce for your steak. From left to right (if memory serves me correctly): Japanese gravy, spicy paste (but not that spicy), and sour vinegar / soy sauce?

3 Different Types of Salt for the Steak ...

3 Different Types of Salt for the Steak ...

And 3 More Different Salt Still ...

And 3 More Different Salt Still ...

Followed by 6 different kinds of salt to choose from. I don’t remember all the different kinds of salt but there was “normal” sea salt, sesame sea salt (the one in black), garlic sea salt (the one on the far left in the second photo) and then there’s a pepper sea salt (the one in the far right in the second photo) …

Its all About the Finishing!

Its all About the Finishing!

Here’s a little something about salt / sea salt in general and I was told this by an extremely talented, self-taught and soon-to-be-restaurant-owner chef, whom shall remain unnamed, until he opens his restaurant in late March.

He once told me that all salt taste the same if you dissolve them in water. So whether you use the cheapest salt that you find in a convenience store near you or use the most expensive of sea salt from the Mediterranean, if you put it in water, its all the same. The difference lies in the finishing.

And why does the difference lie in the finishing? Apparently, its how big the grain of salt is and how it interact (read: melts) in your mouth as you eat it. In other words, its the surface area that comes in different size and shape. That is what gives you a different texture and taste … of course, the sesame, pepper and garlic flavours help also … Anyway, you can probably see from the photo above, that the salt is actually small pieces of shaved salt from a bigger piece …

Ingredient for the Teppanyaki Fried Rice

Ingredient for the Teppanyaki Fried Rice

Final dish of the night …

Add Fried Egg, Diced Beef, Diced Mushrooms, Diced Onions and Mix with Rice

Add Fried Egg, Diced Beef, Diced Mushrooms, Diced Onions and Mix with Rice

Teppanyaki Fried Rice to fill us up even more!

Add Some Soy Sauce and Mix Some More ...

Add Some Soy Sauce and Mix Some More ...

Flatten?!

Flatten?!

We didn’t think there was anything special about the fried rice, except that the chef flattened it and make sure both sides are crunchy before serving, which I thought was a good touch … the result?

Teppanyaki Fried Rice

Teppanyaki Fried Rice

A really good bowl of teppanyaki fried rice! A little bit oily, but overall, incredibly satisfying!

Hilton Special Dessert

Hilton Special Dessert

Alas, we were too full to fully appreciate the dessert. In any other night, we would’ve found the dessert to be extremely well done … but tonight, the quality (and quantity) of what we had just 10 minutes prior was so satisfying, this was one of the rare nights where I didn’t have a second stomach for dessert.

This has got to be one of my most memorable teppanyaki experiences ever.

Siu Yeh Rating: A rare 10/10!

I’m tempted to give it a little lower given the price. At ¥75,000+, this was not cheap … this was even more expensive than Dakota Prime! But we were on travel … and it was well worth it.

Pirka at Japanese Dining REN
Hilton Niseko Village
Higashiyama-onsen, Niseko-cho, Abuta-gun
Hokkaido, 048-1592, Japan
Tel: +81 (0) 136 44 1111
Fax: +81 (0) 136 44 3224
Email: chefjapanese.niseko@hilton.com
Website: www dot hilton dot com/worldwideresorts