Are You Cool Enough for Drinks at ZUMA?! Talk to The Hand!

Gee, this blogging thing really is a full-time job isn’t it?

I just realized I haven’t written anything in about 2 weeks! A week into this “honeymoon” period, I was already feeling a little guilty … subconsciously, I wanted to see how long I can go for without updating Siu Yeh. The threshold is 2 weeks people … TWO. WEEKS. I guess laziness got the better of me too … actually, I kept taking pictures whereever and whenever I ate, but I just haven’t gotten around to writing it. Now I have a backlog of about 1.5 month’s (45 entries) worth of stuff to write about … err, stay tuned.

Anyway. Yes. Zuma.

Known for its vast selection of rare drinks and innovative cocktails, Zuma “brings a sophisticated twist on the traditional Japanese Izayaka style of informal eating and drinking.” Yeeeahh, I can sort of see that. The place definitely fits the description of trendy and upscale but doesn’t quite hit me as pretentious (even though its “located at Hong Kong’s most pretigious address”) although they’re not far from the line. In fact, it was pretty chill just sitting at the lounge, mingling with friends … it wasn’t cozy per se, just … comfortable. Apparently they shuffle around their furnitures every now and then (or so I was told anyway) just to give people a different vibe when return customers visit.

And traditional Japanese with a sophisticated twist it was. The first thing that caught my eyes were “Sparkling Sake”. How often do you hear that? It was my first. I had to get it.

Sparkling Sake, Kotsuzumi, Sparkling (Yuzu Flavour)

Sparkling Sake, Kotsuzumi, Sparkling (Yuzu Flavour)

The quality of the photos taken with the my new *ahem* BlackBerry Curve 8900 is pretty darn good, huh? I was pretty amazed myself … and that flash (in that environment we were in) was blinding. I kid you not. Go RIM! Go Waterloo!

Here’s how the Kotsuzumi was served. In an equally Japanese-y Japanese wooden box and in it, the Yuzu sparkling sake with Japanese writing on the label that looked almost like it was written in Egytian hieroglyphs. This sophistication was too much for me to handle. I am a young, energetic, dare-I-say trendy (and good-looking) individual born, bred and lived in Hong Kong 75% of my life … but clearly, at Zuma, I felt like I came from the boonies just yesterday.

Yuzu Sparkling Sake at Zuma

Yuzu Sparkling Sake at Zuma

And to add salt to the wound, Yuzu (as the ultra-hip would know) has apparently been quite the cult ingredient lately. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that tastes like a mix of lemon and lime.

We took a whiff from the opened bottle and it smelled like the ginger aroma oil from Thai massage/spa! Seriously. Anyway, they serve the sake in double-shot glasses (tall ones) that are chilled, which was a nice touch … and nothing short of what I would expect from a place like that. Once you drink it though, the imaginary ginger smell goes away, but came the citrus taste (more citrus than lime I would say). It was also a little too sweet for my liking.

Zuma Signature Cocktails

Zuma Signature Cocktails

My second drink was the Rubabu, which is a “rhubarb infused sake shaken with 42 Below vodka and fresh passion fruit” … served as a martini. What the heck is a rhubarb anyway? Gotta Wiki …

(don’t you love how this is like real time?)

A Rhubarb.

Right, okay … I didn’t taste that at all. Not that I would know anyway. What I did taste (and liked) was the strong passion fruity scent and taste. Again, this was a little too sweet but there’s a bit of sourness to it too, which was a good touch … not by the bartender, but probably the passion fruit itself.

After I was done with the drink, I also felt my oestrogen level hit an all-time high.

Rubabu at Zuma

Rubabu at Zuma

In a nutshell, I was a man from the city going into Zuma. I left feeling like a woman from the countryside.

Siu Yeh Rating: 8/10

Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900

Zuma
The Landmark, Level 5 & 6
15 Queen’s Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3657 6388
Fax: +852 3657 6399
Website: www dot zumarestaurant dot com/zuma_hk.html

Vodka Hanoi

Vodka Hanoi.

Vodka Hanoi

Vodka Hanoi

Just thought this was a little odd. I mean, I understand where the French influence (i.e. baguette and coffee) came from – and to quote Wikipedia again, Vietnam was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Efforts to resist the French eventually led to their expulsion from the country in the mid-20th century, leaving a nation divided politically into two countries. But vodka? I don’t think the Soviet ever controlled the country right? The booze must’ve came with Soviet AK’s during the Vietnam War.

Anyway … didn’t mean to bring up bad memories … but let us not forget 🙂

Back to food.

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

Herbal Remedy – Canton Love-pes Vine Tea

Chinese herbal tea, commonly known as “Leung Cha” (涼茶) which literally translate to “chilled tea” is very common in Hong Kong. Unlike Mainland China, where such herbal remedy only comes in packets of dried concentrates (to be mixed with hot or cold water, depending on which type of tea) and sold in supermarkets, Hong Kong seems to have a “Leung Cha” shop in every other block!

So what exactly is this “chilled tea” thing? Well, its not necessarily served cold, if that’s what you’re thinking. You can have a boiling hot bowl of “24 Herbs” (二十四味), which is still considered a “chilled tea”. You’ve heard of the whole Yin and Yang explanation right? All the stuff about balancing the “qi” (the energy within your body)? Long story short, “Yin” is cold and “Yang” is hot and if you’re getting stuff like canker sore, bloatedness from too much junk food, etc. you had better down some “Leung Cha”

According to WebMD, “canker sores occur when you are under stress or run down”, which fits perfectly into the whole Yin Yang stuff.

Because when your body has an abundance of “Yang” you need the “chilled tea” to cool your body down to the Yin side and thus, the balance. A whole load of bullsh*t?! Well, tell that to the 1.3 billion Chinese who’ve been practising this for over 5,000 years.

Anyway, there are plenty of places, traditional or not, that serves Chinese herbal tea or drinks in Hong Kong. I’m not a big fan of some of the more bitter drinks like “24 Herbs” but I do like most of the other ones. I particularly like one called 雞骨草 which I never quite knew the English name for … until today! It called the “Canton Love-pes Vine Tea”. Don’t ask why. Then again 雞骨草 loosely translate into “Chicken Bone Grass” – I’m indifferent between the two names. The ladder sounds kind of funny, but might deter non-Chinese from giving it a shot.

By the way, I’d like to draw similarities between Chinese herbal tea and wheatgrass shots.

ANYWAY, I digress. There’s a really good non-traditional herbal tea shop close to where I work and that’s where I get my Canton Love-pes Vine Tea. HKD 7 a cup and HKD 20 a bottle.

Cheers!

One of these days, I’ll blog about one of the older herbal tea shops called “Gong Wor Tong” (恭和堂) in Causeway Bay and their “Gui Ling Go” (龜苓膏 loosely translate into “Turtle & Some Chinese Herb Paste”, which has some 48(?) types of different herbs) HAHAHA … I have a feeling my readers are getting really put off by this.

Sam Yeung Ho (三樣好)
Wu Pak Street
Aberdeen, Hong Kong

Final Note on Shanghai Trip

Alas, the trip was far too short and due to circumstances, I wasn’t able to choose restaurants I would like to go to. I went to Bali Laguna for their Thai food and Element Fresh for their relatively healthy alternative – where I saw Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard (they were in town for some friendly matches before making their way to Beijing for the Games), but neither visits deserved a post. Actually, the service as Bali Laguna was horrible.

The list of restaurants I had wanted to try for the first time, or restaurants which I would like to go back remains long … very long.

Just off the top of my head, restaurant I would like to go back includes: South Beauty, Yu Xin Chuan Cai, Moon River, Laris, M on the Bund, Jean Georges, MoonSha, Jia Jia Tang Bao (the best xiao long bao in town), Jade on 36, Pingchuan, Fu 1039, 1221, Haiku, Karaku (TEMPURA!!!) and the list goes on and on …

Restaurant I would like to try? Well, don’t even get my started!

The point is Shanghai is becoming a city with an increasing number of world-class, quality restaurants that deserves some write-up. The restaurants are also developing at lightning speed; pace so fast it’s hard to play catch up. Lucky for us, Zagat even came up with a Shanghai Restaurants Guide. While it may not be as comprehensive as one for New York, Tokyo or Paris, don’t be surprised to find one of that calibre for Shanghai in the next couple of years.

Stay tuned for more about Shanghai here at Siu Yeh! If you’re making a visit to Shanghai and would like some recommendations on where to go for food or fun, drop me a message!

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

Vue at Hyatt on the Bund – A Breathtaking Vue Indeed

August 7 – Day 7
Drinks @ 10:00PM

Finished my week-long Shanghai visit at Vue at Hyatt on the Bund, which has only been in operation for about a year.

In terms of view, you get the best of both worlds – a breathtaking view of Lujiazui, arguable China’s main financial district and the Bund, a strip of buildings from the Colonial era. There are 2 floors to the bar and if you want THE VIEW, walk up the stairs and try the balcony where they have queen size beds for you to lie on.

If you would like to hold some sort of private gatherings, you’ll need to book the entire floor which will set you back RMB 75,000 for the night, which includes open bar (bottomless champagne maybe?) and finger food.

By the way, there’s a jacuzzi-style pool right in the center of the patio for those who want to skinny-dip during the party. And if you do, please invite me.

Vue – Restaurant, Private Dining, Bar
Hyatt on the Bund
199 Huangpu Road, Shanghai
China 200080
Tel: +86 21 6393 2288
Website: dubdubdub shanghai dot bund dot hyatt dot com