Farewell Old Blog / Friend

You got me from A to B efficiently and you did so without ever showing an ounce of frustration even though we had our moments. You never disappointed me. You’ve served me well, but I’ve gone onto bigger and better things.

Say hello to the world of better plug-ins, more control and customized designs. You were like the Chery to my new GTR35.

R.I.P. https://siuyeh.wordpress.com.

You are a good sport.

From this post forward, please visit http://www.siuyeh.com. Thank you!

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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

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.

Marouche Grill on Elgin Street

So I had dinner at Marouche Grill, a new Lebanese restaurants on Elgin Street in Soho.

If you’re looking for a review on the food there, then I’m sorry to disappoint because I wasn’t really paying attention to the food so much as I was the company, which consisted of a small group of local foodies sharing experiences and stories about all things food. There was this one memorable dish that I would recommend though and it was the Mouhamara (its a little spicy .. just to give you a heads-up).

Anyway, the dinner was organized by Dorothy So from HK Magazine as she’s writing a piece on local food bloggers. Some stories will and should probably stay within the group (sorry!) but she’ll likely share some of the other more media-friendly stories with you in the August 28th (edit) late September publication. I’m not going to be the one to spoil the fun, so pick up a copy then.

If you’re looking for a write-up on Marouche Grill, you’ll probably find a better piece (not to mention better photos) written by much more experienced local food bloggers whom I had dined with. Check out Peter’s blog at 吃喝玩樂, Elvina’s blog here, or KC’s blog here.

(Note: At the time of writing this post, only Peter has written about Marouche Grill).

Thanks for organizing Dorothy and good luck with the article!

First Step to Becoming a Wine Sommelier!

In an attempt to become a wine sommelier, I’ve signed up for seminars at the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre, which is part of the Vocational Training Council (VTC).

Our instructor is Mr. Nelson Chow, the manager (F&B Operations & Training) of the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre, and he’s also the chairman of the Hong Kong Sommelier Association. He’s won numerous accredited awards related to wine and a track record to boast about, but only those “in the know” are aware of it … because he’s so darn humble.

Anyway, he’s a great instructor. VERY knowledgeable, funny and eloquent in his speech. Our class is from 7-9PM, but he usually goes on until late. Very late. On our first lesson last week, the class was from 7:30 to almost 11PM. He’s just really passionate about the subject and you can just stay after class and grill him on everything you want to know about wine.

Wine Tasting Facility at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre in Pokfulam 1

Wine Tasting Facility at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre in Pokfulam 1

Wine Tasting Facility at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre in Pokfulam 2

Wine Tasting Facility at the Hospitality Industry Training & Development Centre in Pokfulam 2

Apparently, this is the 1 and ONLY wine tasting facility for students in HK. Others wanted to copy and follow, but failed. Or so I was told anyway.

2007 Talus Collection Pinot Grigio

2007 Talus Collection Pinot Grigio

2007 Talus Collection Chardonnay

2007 Talus Collection Chardonnay

2005 Marques de Caceres, Rioja

2005 Marques de Caceres, Rioja

Great Lighting Equipments!

Great Lighting Equipments!

Oooo … so fancy 🙂

The Balance Wheel ... OooooOo

The Balance Wheel ... OooooOo

There’s only about 12 students in the class, so its quite cozy. Definitely check it out if you want to learn a thing or two about wine!

SML in Times Square (Part 2)

Here’s what we had at SML at the trial dinner:

There were just too many dishes and our table was a little cramped and busy, so I had forgotten to take photos of the grilled prawns / chilli / garlic, meatballs / spicy tomato sauce. Whoops.

My favorite dish? (MUST GET)

  • classic lasanga al forno
  • meatballs / spicy tomato sauce
  • crostini / anchovy mayonnaise
  • veal escalope / sage-caper butter

My favorite dessert? (MUST GET)

  • citrus panna cotta / pink grapefruit & orange slices
  • caramel profiteroles / butterscotch sauce

Note: Here, “MUST GET” = just get it, I’m not even going to bother explaining. Its that good 🙂

Needs just a little improvement

  • Risotto – the braised ox-tail was terrific, but the risotto was a little too raw (I know its supposed to be little bit hard), a little too liquid and a little lacking in flavour
  • Gnocchi – also lacking a bit in flavour, definitely didn’t taste 4 cheese

House red were Moulin de Gassac Cab and Syrah (2007) and the house white was also a Moulin de Gassac Sauvignon Blanc (2007). But like I said, once they’re officially opened (today actually), I’m sure they’ll have a much more extensive wine list.

We had a LOT of food and wine, so even though the meal was complimentary, we wanted to see what the damage was. It came up to about HK$1,350 for 2, but I reckon we’d be pretty full eating just half the stuff we ordered (i.e. don’t use us as a reference. It isn’t HK$ 700 per head … unless you go completely nuts like we did. I’d say HK$ 400 per head is reasonable?)

So is it worth going to? Definitely! I think there’s still half of the menu I haven’t tried.

Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900

Siu Yeh Rating: 8.5/10

SML Bar / Restaurant / Patio

11/F., Times Square
Causeway Bay
Tel: +852 2577 3444
Email: info (at) smlrestaurants.com