Sunday, 5 July 2015

On Dining - On top of the world in Central

When you plan a move to another country, one of the things that's hardest to do is to say goodbye to friends and family.  Sure, everyone says all the right things, like 'of course we'll keep in touch' and 'it won't be long before we come and visit', but you alway have that nagging fear in the back of your mind that it might be a long, long time before you catch up again.

I guess the thing about moving to a county like Hong Kong is that it's pretty much the centre of the world, you can stop off here when travelling practically everywhere.  So, I've been pretty stoked that I've been able to host a few friends already in our short six months in country.  What's better is that as I've gotten to know HK, we can act as guides, both for touristy stuff and the important culinary stuff.  When a buddy was recently back in Hong Kong for the second time in as many months, I wanted to take her out somewhere special for dinner, and that spot was On Dining Kitchen and Lounge.

On Dining is the second restaurant from Philippe Orrico, the first being Michelin Starred Upper Modern Bistro, which is ironically a restaurant I'd dined with another of our visiting friends (see post here).  Philippe is joined by a trio of long-time friends in the venture, who between them have some experience at many of Hong Kong's finest restaurants.  While Philippe's first restaurant is in the back streets Sheung Wan, On Dining is right in the thick of HK's busy dining precinct in Central, and with little room for error in such a dining hot spot, we were expecting a meal every bit as good as it's Michelin Starred sister restaurant.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Cecconi's - their meatballs are amazing!

If you've been living in Hong Kong for any length of time, chances are, you've been to one of the restaurants that makes up the DiningConcepts stable.  In what has to be one of the most diverse portfolios of restaurants in HK, DiningConcepts has so many dining spots that they run a frequent diners club loyalty program.  With over over twenty different concepts, the team run such favourites as Gordon Ramsay's Bread Street Kitchen (see post here) and Mario Batali's Lupa (see post here).

We've rather enjoyed most of our visits to the DiningConcepts restaurants, so have recently been keeping an eye out for one of their restaurants when looking for dinner.  Over the last few months, we'd had some pretty ordinary Italian cuisine, which is always disappointing given our love of Italian food.  So, when we spotted a little restaurant in Expat territory (Elgin Street), we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw it on the list managed by the group.

The front of Cecconi's is quite deceiving, it's hard to see into the restaurant, so it would be easy to miss the casual elegance of the white linen tables and the classy, yet understated dining room. Walking through the front door located under the slightly garish neon sign and into the quiet tranquility of the completely empty restaurant, completely removed us from bustling Soho and the heat of a typical Hong Kong evening.  We were taken directly to our table, which was located in a very comfy booth at the back of the restaurant, which gave me fantastic views of the pass.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Casual Dining - The Chop House

After living in Hong Kong for around six months, I'm starting to get a bit of a feel for the food scene in this monolith of a foodie city.  Now, I'm not going to pretend that I've got it nailed, it's likely that will never happen, no matter how many restaurants I visit, but I am getting attuned to the vibe.  Most of the time, I find it pretty easy to track down a restaurant that feels right, a restaurant that I'd happily go back to again and again.  However, every now and then, I find a spot that doesn't really resonate, a spot that's pretty forgettable and sometimes a restaurant that is just plain terrible.

It's not as if you can pick the quality of a restaurant by an area in Hong Kong, there are gems in just about every part of the city.  Causeway Bay has some very fond memories for me, largely due to our regular haunt, Din Tai Fung (see post here), but also such gems as Penthouse By Harlan Goldstein (see post here) and Paradise Dynasty (see post here).  Wanting to expand our Causeway Bay dining experience, we made our way to Soundwill Plaza (the home of the aforementioned Penthouse) for an evening at the Wooloomooloo Group's The Chop House.

The Wooloomooloo Group is responsible for a swag of premium steakhouses in Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as being named after one of Sydney's most famous inner city suburbs (Russell Crow's old stomping grounds - yes, I know it's spelt slightly different too!).  With Wooloomooloo Prime and Steakhouse the premium brands, the group have established a slightly more relaxed, casual dining experience called the Chop House.  

Sunday, 21 June 2015

NOM - Not Only Meatballs, sure, but totally delicious

When writing a food blog, I usually like to tell a little bit of a story that leads into the meal, sometimes it's pretty easy and other times, well, it can be more challenging.  Very rarely do I have a few tales to tell, but it just so happened that with NOM, I had a couple.  So, instead of wracking my head to cut it down to one, I'll tell both!

NOM stands for Not Only Meatballs, which is ostensibly a specialist meatball restaurant that does serve considerably more than delicious little balls of meat.  I'd developed a little bit of a fetish in 2013, when I spent a month in Manhattan and went on a meatball finding odyssey (see post here).  New York is often considered one of the central spots globally (Italians would have something to say about that) when looking for meatballs and I have to say, I found some spectacular little spots, often in unusual circumstances.  

So, when the girl suggested we check out NOM, I was pretty darn excited, I wanted to see what the Hong Kong version of meatballs would be like.  Look, I know that HK is a global city and there is an amazing array of western style restaurants, but I can tell you now that there is a gulf between the good and the bad.  


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