Sunday, December 6, 2009

Takeya: Foodie Friends

Dinner with foodie friends always = good times. Nothing beats chatting about good food while eating good food… and it’s also nice to have someone who doesn’t think you’re a complete freak show when you whip out your digicam to document every detail of your dinner.

IL chose the place this time and with the directions he gave me, I found myself in some nondescript alley in Hung Hom, faced with a wooden Japanese slide door with the kanji characters for Takeya hanging over it. I walked into the restaurant and fell in love. Such a cute space – very very small, granted (probably seats 15 people at a time) but so wonderfully warm and cozy. It seemed more like a friend’s house than anything. I plunked myself down on a seat and, as always, let IL decide on our dinner choices. If there’s one person I trust with my food, it’d be him.

(Clockwise from top left: potato salad, daikon, chicken neck, cheese with guts)

(Chicken skin and chicken neck)

But before any of our orders, the super-friendly/mumsy waitress, Dodo (wife of one half of Takeya’s older brother-younger brother team) brought over the plate of complimentary purple taro to start. So winter-appropriate. Sighhhh…lovely. Following the taro, the first two dishes to came in the form of a small plate of pickled daikon and a giant mound o’ potato salad ($42). The salad was flecked with bits of bacon and sliced cucumber for a nice bit of crunch, it was a hearty starter and a very easy-eating dish that I kept going back to throughout the night.

And here, can I please mention how good Takeya’s yakitori items are? Please? Because it’s definitely worth mentioning. We went with the chicken skin ($23/skewer) – cooked to crispy perfection and absolutely delish when grilled with a few flecks of salt. The ($23/skewer) was another winner with its slight crunchy mouthfeel. And being an innards person, I absolutely loved the chicken neckgrilled pig intestine ($24/skewer). Fragrant, chewy without being rubbery and so deliciously flavored.

(Cooked pig's intestine)

And following the yakitori-ed version of the pig’s innards, we also ordered a cooked-in-broth version of pig’s intestine ($58). Again, chewy and full-flavored in all the right places. But while everything up to this point was good, it all had to give way when I tried the stellar dish of the night – cheese topped with fish intestine ($48). OMG SOOOO not appetizing-sounding, I know...but SO EFFIN' GOOD!!! This dish + beer = a very good time. The intense savory flavor of the intestine pairs so beautifully with the strong taste of the cheese – the flavor combination just begs to be washed down with an ice cold beer. D-e-l-i-cious.

(Tamago: just like comfort food)

(Grilled mochi)

This high was followed by the most comforting dishes of the night – the grilled tamago ($45). Thick and fluffily light… warm and actually just a tad still-runny on the inside. The tamago felt like a pillow of eggy goodness on the tongue. Both of us were so super impressed. We rounded off the meal with a few pieces of grilled mochi ($25), which were beautiful chewy and messy on the inside but crisp golden on the outside.

And after downing two big mugs of beer each with our meal, the two of us were feeling more than satisfied and more than well-fed. Like I said, dinner with foodie friends always = good times.

FOOD: 3.75/5

TAKEYA ($$$)
31C1 Tak Man Street
Whampoa Estate
Hung Hom

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nadaman: Prelude to a Meal - The Hotel Lobby Smell

I l-o-v-e the Shangri-La hotel lobby fragrance. Seriously, someone should bottle whatever scent that is and market it. I’d buy it. And I also love the fact that, whenever I smell that particular Shangri-La smell, it’s almost always a prelude to a wonderful meal at the hotel. Be it at Petrus on the Island or, in my most recent case, Nadaman at Kowloon Shang.

Not wanting to think about my order, I went straight for the mini kaiseki lunch option, which my lunch-company also went for. We started with a very artfully arranged set of seasonal eggplant and mushroom with sesame sauce, chestnut with miso paste, pumpkin cake roll and grilled crab meat with and beef rolled with asparagus. Too busy catching up and yammering away about which new movies were worth watching and which new restaurants worth going to, I stupidly forgot to take the lid off the eggplant and mushroom for my photo. Duh, me. Well, at least the pale purple pot it was served in was nice and pretty.

(eggplant and mushrooms in a pot, crab and gingko nuts, beef and asparagus, pumpkin cake, chestnut miso roll)

Next course was a very stomach-warming chicken soup with seasonal veggies. Very comforting – I felt like I was glowing after downing this broth and greens. I was kinda elated when the next dish to come up was sliced seasonal sea bream sashimi. I’ve recently realized just how much I love the sea bream with its delish firm flesh and lovely distinct flavor. I polished off the sashimi like nobody’s business. No joke.

(Hearty chicken soup)

(Sea bream sashimi)

The following course was probably the cutest – deep fried lotus root dumpling with shrimp, dried scallop, assorted veggies and grated radish sauce. A very interesting dish with an interlocking layering of flavors and textures. The deep fried lotus root was actually pulped to a creamy paste and was encased in the perfectly crispy “shell.” The shrimp and scallops provided most of the taste to the dish and rode well on the radish sauce. A dish that took a lot of heart to make, I can tell. This was followed by an Indian-inspired grilled silver cod and mushroom with special turmeric sauce. I love cod, I love mushrooms and I love turmeric so this was definitely a winner of a dish for me, though not exactly “Japanese-y.” The fish was soft and fluffy and the mushrooms were wonderfully fleshy. The turmeric could have been a little more prominent but I guess maybe they didn’t want to overdo it on the spices? Ah well, ‘twas good nonetheless.

(Silver cod with mushrooms and turmeric)

(Deep-fried lotus root "sphere" - cute.)

We finished the savory part of our meal with ochatsuke with grilled salmon rice ball. Again, an interesting dish with different textures and flavors. The perfectly-grilled rice ball was scoring massive brownie points with me (I love grilled carbs of any form). And after a short interlude of assorted pickles, we were brought the finishing course of homemade mango tiramisu. A light and sweet end to long and satisfying meal. And with that, and a mini bottle of sake the good folks at Nadaman let me have, I started planning in my mind, when the next time would be that I’d be back in the flower-scented Shangri-La hotel lobby.

(Grilled rice ball)

(Mango tiramisu)

FOOD: 3.75/5
SERVICE: 3.5/5

NADAMAN ($$$$)
Lower Level 2
Kowloon Shangri-la Hotel
64 Mody Road
Tsim Sha Tsui