The Drawing Room Restaurant – Open April 13th

Remember a month or two ago, I kept referring to my friend as “TC”? I referred to him here, here and here. Well, I kept his name under wrap because we wanted to keep his identity and the name to his new restaurant hush-hush … until everything is in place. Now, its time to let the cat out the bag … his full name is Tony Cheng and I’m extremely proud to present to you, a restaurant he’s been working incredibly hard on for the last couple of months …

THE DRAWING ROOM (www.thedrawingroom.com.hk) – what you’ll see is a temporary landing page, until their full website is completed within the next week or so.

There’ll definitely be a full write-up on the restaurant soon, but for now … here’s a little more detail about the restaurant:

ABOUT:

There are moments in dining that you can immediately identify as one of the peak gastronomical experiences of your life. At The Drawing Room, we want you to experience that moment over and over.

Seeing ourselves as a modern interpretation of the classical drawing room—a place to receive and entertain guests in one’s house—The Drawing Room is the City’s new face and statement of casual fine dining. We serve contemporary Italian cuisine influenced by new techniques. At The Drawing Room, our goal is simply to become the finest Italian restaurant in Hong Kong, one that will make you feel excited to come but also personally connected to because we care about your experience here.

We are located on the first floor of JIA Boutique Hotel in Causeway Bay. In addition to the main dining room which can accommodate up to 36 guests, there are two private dining rooms and an adjoining bar and lounge area for cocktails.

OPENING HOURS

Monday to Saturday: 6.00pm – 12.00pm
Closed Sunday.

PEOPLE:

Bombana Umberto – Culinary director and Owner

Previously the Executive Chef of Tuscana Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton HK, Bombana is arguably one of Hong Kong’s finest Italian chefs. He looks to bring his legendary status as “the truffle guy” to The Drawing Room and satisfy his hungry customers who have been craving his cuisine since the close of Tuscana in 2008.

Roland Schuller – Exective chef and Owner

Formerly the Head Chef of Don Alfonso 1890, a restaurant which is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Italy, Roland is excited to be opening his own restaurant in Hong Kong. Before The Drawing Room, Roland was also the executive chef at Chez Roland, Roland’s Terrance and Aspasia.

Tony Cheng – Chef de Cuisine and Managing Director

Tony’s passion for cooking began at the age of 14 when he roasted his first chicken at home. His desire to become a professional chef led him to leave the financial field to join the kitchen of Michelin star chef, Riccardo di Giacinto, of All’Oro Ristorante in Rome. Upon returning to Hong Kong, Tony teamed up with Chef Roland Schuller, his mentor and friend, at the kitchen of Aspasia.

Tony’s philosophy towards cooking is simple – happiness. “There is no better moment for a chef than to know his food has sparked the table with ‘wows’ upon the first bite of his food. That is where my motivation and strive for perfection comes from. I work so hard in the kitchen to ensure I can create that moment again and again.”

Tony graduated from the University of College London and also attended Le Cordon Bleu in London.

Jeffrey Mui – Executive Director and Owner

Jeffrey graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. In pursuit of his degree, Jeffrey focused on culinary science and restaurant management. Jeffrey further refined his hospitality skillset by working for Grand Hyatt Hong Kong and Allan Zeman’s Lan Kwai Fong Group, where he learned about the intricate working dynamics of prestigious F&B establishments in the city.

Jeffrey also took advantage of the world-class restaurant scene in New York City over the several years he had spent abroad. Jeffrey’s favorite restaurant there is Mario Batali’s Babbo, where he is most impressed by reinvented classics such as the Warm Tripe “alla Parmigiana” and Gnocchi with Braised Oxtail.

Drawing inspiration from the Big Apple, a true culinary melting pot, Jeffrey is eager to share his vision of fine dining with his hometown.

Kenneth King – Exective Director and Owner

Having spent seven years in the U.S., Kenneth knows all about the buzzing culinary scenes around the Bay Area where he studied and worked. Kenneth’s most unforgettable dining experience was at The French Laundry in Yountville, where his favorite dish was the Snake River Farm “calotte de bœuf grillée”. Kenneth also enjoys queuing up for a casual dinner at cozy street-side restaurants in downtown San Francisco like Delfina and Bar Tartine. Returning to Hong Kong in 2008, Kenneth’s ambition is to reinvigorate and innovate the local dining culture, and to bring about new culinary experiences to the region.

Kenneth went to St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire and attended Stanford University in California where he earned a B.A. in Economics and a M.S. in Management Science.

LOCATION (Please refer to website above for Map and exact address)
Our front entrance is at Irving Street (伊榮街) opposite the Regal Hotel.

By Car – I would suggest parking at the Regal Hotel parking lot on Irving street (on the right hand side of the street). Once you exit, you will be able to see the huge “The Drawing Room” light box.

By Taxi – Tell the driver to drop you at Regal Hotel, Irving Street, Causeway Bay. Once you get there you can’t miss the huge light box. If you do you need glasses.

By MTR – Take exit F at Causeway Bay station and once you are out look straight for Jardine’s Bazaar. Walk along Jardine’s Bazaar for two minutes and you will see our lightbox straight ahead.

Hokkaido Day 2: Dinner at Abucha

Abucha Located at the Bottom of the Hirafu Hill in Niseko

Abucha Located at the Bottom of the Hirafu Hill in Niseko

Abucha was recommended to us by a friend (Thanks Nick!) who visited Niseko last year. It turns out the restaurant is quite a popular go-to place when you’re in Niseko / Hirafu at night. Abucha (the original restaurant) seats about 30 people with an adjacent bar that holds another 20-30 people max. All in all, its a small place but its definitely quite cozy, especially during the winter season.

The Young Team Working Around an Open Kitchen at Abucha

The Young Team Working Around an Open Kitchen at Abucha

The entire staff team is a young (early 20’s to early 30’s?), yippee,  snowboarding bunch (see Abucha’s website), bringing a very vibrant environment to the restaurant and bar. The food is also very impressive considering the team is so young … but if you’re looking for gourmet sushi and/or sashimi, then this is not the place for you. Here, you’ll find very good cooked [authentic] Japanese food such as sukiyaki, yakitoris, grilled fish, grilled chicken, fried chicken wings, cooked scallops, a mixture of sausages, clam cooked with white wine sake, among other dishes on its menu.

We started off with a Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka first, just to see what its like:

Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

This was either a Pale or a Pilsener – I’m no expert, but I’m leaning more towards a Pale. Its dry, refreshing, light, slightly bitter with a fluffy / dense head, which reminds me a little bit like that of Guinness and one that faded quickly into think white collar with every sip (See photo below).

The White Collars from Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

The White Collars from Hokkaido Beer Pirkawakka

Here’s a description from the beer’s poster (word for word):

)

Pirkawakka means Beautiful Waters 🙂

“‘Pirkawakka means ‘Beautiful Water’ in Ainu and this word has a beautiful sound that images of Lake Shikotsu’s underground water ‘Naibetsu River’ that was chosen by the Environmental Agency as being one of the top 100 rivers of Japan.”

And here’s what we had, which I’ve just listed out:

Raw Scallops Cooked in Broth and Butter at Abucha

Raw Scallops Cooked in Broth and Butter at Abucha

This was nothing special. It was sliced scallops cooked in broth with a dab of soy sauce and block of butter. The thing is, butter only works well with scallops if it was grilled (not with soup) on a teppanyaki grill … or other grill for that matter. Once the butter melted into the soup, I couldn’t taste it … it had no caramelized butter to it which is what makes a grill scallop so good 🙂 IMHO

Edamame (枝豆) at Abucha

Edamame (枝豆) at Abucha

Edamame at Abucha. Cooked just right … you know how sometimes you get edamame thats turned a little yellowy green? That’s cooked too long … and with the sea salt sprinkled on top of these beans, its one of my favorite simple foods.

Grilled Hokkaido Chicken with Salt at Abucha

Grilled Hokkaido Chicken with Salt at Abucha

Add “Hokkaido” in front of anything food, and you’ll get the best quality and freshest food. This Grilled Hokkaido Chicken was extremely 鲜甜 (fresh and “sweet” in the Chinese sense), the skin was crispy and when dabbed into a bit of salt, this was one of the best grilled chickens I’ve ever had.

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha (Picture 2)

Fried Chicken Wings with Dumplings Inside at Abucha (Picture 2)

Dumpling inside a chicken wing? This is the first for me 🙂

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 1)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 1)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 2)

Sukiyaki at Abucha (Picture 2)

Fresh Eggs at Abucha for the Sukiyaki

Fresh Eggs at Abucha for the Sukiyaki

The Sukiyaki was very tasty and came with a generous amount of beef, tofu and cabbage. The soup base itself was also very flavourful, but as we found out that same night during our sleep, we were really thirsty and it might have something to do with the MSG in the soup base (I think).

Clam Cooked in Sake at Abucha

Clam Cooked in Sake at Abucha

You have a choice of having clams cooked in white wine or sake. Since we were in Japan, we went for the sake version of course … but I thought it tasted similar to the white wine version. As with all broth cooked with clam (fresh clams!), the soup was the best part!

Lightly Salted Grilled Mackerel

Lightly Salted Grilled Mackerel

This was only so-so … perhaps it was sitting a little too long on the grill, but the other side of this was a little too burnt for my liking …

Mixed Sausages at Abucha

Mixed Sausages at Abucha

The sausages came in different sizes and type. Some were chicken sausages and some were pork I believe, and came mixed with herbs, pepper, chili, etc. It reminded me of Taiwanese sausage actually … and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re eating sausages on its own (i.e. not hotdogs), then German and Taiwanese franks are the best.

It wasn’t cheap though, at around ¥17,000, it was about HKD 500 per head. But if you’re in Niseko, I do believe its worth a visit, if not for the food, then the alcohol at the bar and the crowd definitely makes the experience that much better 🙂

Apparently, they also have Abucha 2 (across the street, or soon-to-be anyway) and an Abucha Bakery. If you’ve tried the latter or will try Abucha 2, I’d be interested to hear what its like!

Abucha
Izakaya & Bar A-Bu-Cha
190-13 Aza-Yamada
Kutchan-cho, Hokkaido 044-0081
Tel: 0136 (22) 5620 (18:00~2:00)
Fax: 0136 (23) 0245 (24hr)

What’s Cooking in Hanoi?

4 days in Hanoi is a long time, so we spent a day in Halong Bay and on the last full day in Hanoi, we took a cooking class at Old Hanoi Restaurant & Bar. We wanted to go with Exotissimo’s cooking classes, but I believe they are USD 50, and then when we called up the cooking classes that’s offered at the Metropole Hotel, they were USD 100! Here, at Old Hanoi Restaurant, the cooking class is USD 24 / person 🙂

Old Hanoi Restaurant & Bar

Old Hanoi Restaurant & Bar

We got there half an hour late so we weren’t able to go to the wet market to buy the food ourselves. Rather, the staff there had already prepared all the stuff and raw food for us to start cooking. The first was fish fillet mixed with turmeric, not unlike the Cha Ca dish we had the other night (in fact, I think it was a Cha Ca).

Fish Fillet for Making Cha Ca

Fish Fillet for Making Cha Ca

Ingredients for Making Nuoc Mam Sauce

Ingredients for Making Nuoc Mam Sauce

We started off making the Nuoc Mam sauce, which can pretty much be used for anything related to Vietnamese cuisine. You need to mix together the following:

  • 2 spoons of sugar
  • 6 spoons of warm water
  • 1 spoon of fish sauce
  • 1 spoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 spoon of fresh lime juice
  • 1 spoon of chipped garlic and chili

And there you have it … although, I’d go easy on the sugar … I don’t like mine that sweet.

Nuoc Mam Sauce on the Right

Nuoc Mam Sauce on the Right

I had forgotten to take photos of the making (and marinating) of the Cha Cha. In any case, the staff had taken our fillets into the kitchen to cook (no, we didn’t actually get to cook that one) … and then we were on to our next dish – the “Old Quarter Spring Rolls”

Ingredients for the Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Ingredients for the Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Chop and dice all of the ingredients: Carrot, Bean Sprout, Spring Onion, Onion and Auricularia (or “Wooden Ear” in Chinese / Jew’s Ear / basically, its [Botany] tree mushroom or edible tree fungus), crack the egg and get rid of all the egg white, throw the yolk and mince pork into the diced ingredients and mix. Add salt and pepper in the process and you should get something like this:

Ready to Mix!

Ready to Mix!

Split content into 3 chunks and get your spring roll paper ready:

Ready to ROLL!

Ready to ROLL!

And roll.

Too Much Water on the First Spring Roll

Too Much Water on the First Spring Roll

Remember not to put too much water on the Spring Roll paper! Otherwise, it’ll look like the roll on the far left.

Heat Cooking Oil Until Ready

Heat Cooking Oil Until Ready

Remember what they say? Put a wooden chopstick (or spatula) into the cooking oil, if its bubbling, then the oil is hot enough to fry stuff with.

Fry Until the Rolls Turn Golden Color

Fry Until the Rolls Turn Golden Color

Place rolls on napkin to get rid of excess oil … leave until its a little cooler, dip in nuoc mam sauce and consume!

Oily Spring Rolls

Oily Spring Rolls

Right after we devoured the rolls, came the Cha Ca fish fillet we were making earlier and it looks something like this:

Self-made Cha Ca!

Self-made Cha Ca!

Hanoi-style Grilled Fish

Hanoi-style Grilled Fish

Roll fish together with shredded veggies, dip into the nuoc mam sauce (again) and consume.

Finally, we were on to our 3rd dish of the morning: Royal Rice with Shrimp. Basically, chop all of the ingredients below into dices and fry them together, like so:

Ingredients for the Rice Royale

Ingredients for the Rice Royale

Fry the Mix!

Fry the Mix!

Once ready, then this is what you’ll have to do:

  1. Place a whole shrimp in the bottom of the center of a standard rice bowl
  2. Put a thin layer of rice on top of the shrimp and apply pressure
  3. Put a layer of the stuff you just fried on the parameter inside the bowl
  4. Add another layer of rice, apply pressure
  5. Repeat Step 3
  6. Repeat Step 4
  7. Using a handle of a knife, knock on the outside of the bowl
  8. Slide knife in between the rice and the bowl
  9. Flip over on plate and you should get something like this
Royal Rice with Shrimp

Royal Rice with Shrimp

By the time we’re done with this, we were already full. I actually didn’t find this particularly good, partially (I think) because I was stuffed from the rolls and fish, and partially because there were so much rice packed in there …

And finally, to end our cooking lesson, our instructor decided she was going take things into her own hands and just deal with it for us. It was Diced Sweet Potato with Ginger …

Diced Sweet Potato and Shredded Ginger in Tapioca Mix

Diced Sweet Potato and Shredded Ginger in Tapioca Mix

Pouring the tapioca mix in …

Tapioca Mix

Tapioca Mix

This, unfortunately, also wasn’t very good … it was a little too thick!

Vietnamese Dessert

Vietnamese Dessert

And there you have it … cooking class in Hanoi … in a nutshell.

Old Hanoi Restaurant
106 Ma May, Old Quarter
Tel: +84 824525
Mobile: +84 913559096
Email: hanoicooking@yahoo.com.vn
Web: www dot hanoi-cooking dot com

Le Club at Metropole Hotel

The Metropole Hotel in Hanoi has been around since 1901 and is arguably one of the finest (and oldest) buildings in Hanoi. It houses designer brands such as Bally, Cartier, Chopard, Louis Vuitton, Mont Blanc, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi and Hermes. I might be wrong, but the hotel might just be the ONLY shopping mall in the whole of Hanoi. Anyway, I digress …

After an entire day’s trek around the city, we decided to stop by the Metropole for some drinks and we blindly ended up at Le Club, which is a bar / lounge / restaurant with seats indoor and poolside to choose from. Needless to say, we choose the latter (pictured)

Hanoi Metropole Hotel - View from Le Club 1

Hanoi Metropole Hotel - View from Le Club 1

Hanoi Metropole Hotel - View from Le Club 2

Hanoi Metropole Hotel - View from Le Club 2

I was there last week (Jan 5th to 9th) and so the weather was relatively chilly (I would say around 12-15 degree celsius, a bit like California weather), but they had outdoor (patio) heaters so that kept us warm. The environment was also really serene; the hotel literally separated us from all the honking and bustling-by of the motorcycles in the city.

Anyway, here are pictures of 2 of the drinks we had:

Black Martini at Le Club, Metropole Hotel, Hanoi

Black Martini at Le Club, Metropole Hotel, Hanoi

This had Grey Goose Vodka, Raspberry & Blue Curacao … this was quite strong …

Lychee Mojito at Le Club, Metropole Hotel, Hanoi

Lychee Mojito at Le Club, Metropole Hotel, Hanoi

This is what my “Friend #1” had 🙂 (If you’re reading this, Anx)

Hotel Sofitel Metropole Hanoi
15 Ngo Quyen Street
10000 Hanoi,  Vietnam
Tel: +84 4/38266919
Email: sofitelhanoi@hn.vnn.vn

Enoteca on Anfu Road

August 8 – Day 8
Lunch @ 1:00PM

Here’s an excerpt from That’s Shanghai magazine of the wine bar:

“With many affordable options and an accessible menu, Enoteca is the perfect pre-dinner destination for both novice and expert aficionados”.

That may be so, but they’ve forgotten to mention the most interesting aspect of the bar. After sipping a particular wine you like, you can walk into their wine boutique and purchase the wine (the one you just drank) at retail prices – what an interesting concept.

However reasonable it may be, the wine is still cheaper in Hong Kong, thanks to its non-existent wine tax. But if you’re a resident of Shanghai, perhaps that is a good option for you.

Enoteca
53-57 Anfu Road (near Wulumuqi Road)
Tel: +86 21 5404 0050