Sunday, 25 September 2016

Tosca at the Ritz Carlton - where everybody knows your name

Just about everyone of a certain age brackets should remember the TV show 'Cheers'.  It was a half hour sitcom about a bar in Boston and the catchy theme song for the show was called 'Where everybody knows your name'.  If you're not familiar with it, rekindle your memories or experience for the first time here.

Anyway, there's a memorable line in the song that goes something like 'Wouldn't you like to get away?  to a place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came'.

That about sums up my experiences when I visit Tosca in Hong Kong's Ritz Carlton.  Granted, the Ritz Carlton's about as far away from a dive bar in Boston, but you get the drift.

I've been to Tosca many, many times now and there are a couple of things that keep drawing me back, the amazing setting, the incredible food but most of all, the impeccable service that only comes from a team that genuinely believe in what they're doing and love to provide the best service imaginable. 

Our last visit was an opportunity for the girl and I to share one last special dinner before I went traveling to the UK for work, a trip that would take me away for a couple of weeks (and lead to a series of food adventures!).  

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ippoh - tempura perfection from a 5th generation chef

You really do need to stop and look  at what's behind the curtain.

For over twelve months I walked down Aberdeen Street in SoHo, wandering by a little yellow restaurant that had it's door partially obscured by a heavy curtain.  Sure, I knew that it was a Japanese restaurant, the name gave it away.  A little research may have piqued my interest much sooner, but the name of that little restaurant really meant nothing to me.

Boy has that changed!

It wasn't until a workmate, lets call her Zoe, wanted to help me celebrate my recent birthday with a special lunch time treat.  She'd been telling me for a long time that her favourite Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong was Ippoh, and wanted to see if I agreed; so we made our way through Central to SoHo and our midday booking.

It was a lightbulb moment for me.

Finally the curtain was pulled back and we entered the tiny little tempura style restaurant, and seated at one of the eight spots available at the bar style dining room.  All eight seats put diners right in the action where the Ippoh head chef (I never did get his name!) was busy preparing the tasty morsels that would be lightly tempura and fried right before out eyes.

There were a couple of options for lunch, the YUKI course which consisted of eight pieces of tempura or the OMAKASE lunch, which was a much more comprehensive journey.  No prizes for guessing which we chose.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Carbone - A taste of American Italian in Honkers

I have to say, I'm not a fan of the huge portion sizes renowned by US style restaurants.  I remember tooling around New York hoping that we wouldn't get massive sized meals that we'd feel guilty about not eating.  Thankfully, restaurants in Manhattan seem to be immune from the oversized meals, with the exception of one restaurant (that we visited).  

That restaurant was Carbone and we simply could not eat all the food that was placed in front of us.

It's possibly one of the reasons why we'd not been to Carbone in Hong Kong, even though it had a reputation for first rate American Italian cookery.  

But, as these things go, we had a real hankering for some Italian and after trying to book at a couple of other HK hotspots, managed to secure a last minute booking.  

The Honkers outlet of Carbone is a collaboration of New York's Michael Carbone and the ubiquitous food group, Black Sheep.  I'd heard and read that the experience at Carbone was over the top and very 'New York' and it only took a few minutes at our table to realise that the stories were true.

Ce La Vi - more than a restaurant; an entertainment hub

A month ago, my best mate was across from Taiwan for a quick visit. We were feeling a little bored and thought that a trip to LKF to check out the night life would be a great way to kill a bit of time.  A quick bus ride later and we found ourselves in Hong Kong's party district on a Sunday night with no real idea about what we'd do!  Looking through a list of clubs to visit, Ce La Vi was the one that stood out, but alas it wasn't open.

So instead of looking for somewhere else to go, we just wandered around then made our way back home.  Yeah, sad!

Fast forward a month and I was looking for a restaurant to hit up on a Saturday night and it was again Ce La Vi that caught my attention.

Looking into the joint, it became clear that Ce La Vi was a lot of things, bar, club and restaurant, making it more of a destination hub than either of its sum parts.  In fact, as I delved deeper, it became apparent that the team behind the entertainment hub were responsible for a host of other night time locations spanning the globe.

I was intrigued, so made the reservation; interestingly late on a Saturday afternoon, I had no problems making a booking for dinner the same night.


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