Jun 21, 2012|
On my first trip to Amsterdam two months ago, I was positively salivating when we came by a Henri Willig cheese shop that was filled top to bottom with thick, circular bricks of smelly, orangey goodness. There were cheeses that looked like sausages, cheeses that were smoked, cheeses wrapped in paraffin—and they all looked so darn delectable, so nice and friendly; they were just asking to be eaten. It was love at first sight, and I’ve been an ardent fan of Dutch Edam and Gouda ever since (which isn’t that long, I admit). The great news is I don’t have to wait till my next trip to get my hands on more of the stuff, because there will be a new shop opening right around the corner from our office, which will finally have that the Dutch-sized gap in the HK cheese market filled. The Dutch Cheese and More (232 Queen’s Rd. Central, 3543-0081, www.thedutch.hk) will have officially opened by the time you read this—and it’s supported by the consul general of the Netherlands, no less. I don’t know what the “more” part means just yet, but the cheese is all I really care about at this point!
I made a brief mention of View 62 (62/F, Hopewell Centre, 183 Queen’s Rd. East, Wan Chai, 2574-6262), Spanish chef Paco Roncero’s first project in Hong Kong, just before it opened. At the time, it was a bit of a mystery what the whole concept was going to be like, since nobody seemed to know—or wanted to give—the details. But now that I’ve actually been to the media tasting, I can assure our readers that the resto is exactly as you would expect it to be, which is posh fine dining in the style of the restaurant world’s latest craze: nouvelle cuisine (think deconstruction, foams, liquid nitrogen). This revolving restaurant atop Hopewell Centre is a bit difficult to get to; you have to take a minimum of two elevators to get up, and if you want the scenic route (i.e. via the glass-walled observatory elevator), it’ll be even more (up to four). But the resto is worth checking out at least once—if not for its novelty, then at least for its impressive selection of teas (more on that in a sec). Jaded journo that I am, stuff in toothpaste tubes and smoky liquid nitrogen escaping out of bottles have long since ceased to impress me—but truly yummy foods like the 21st-century omelet in a martini glass and the savory and aromatic truffle “dentelle” actually delivered beyond their new-age presentations. I’m on the fence about the mains, and think the starters actually outshone the heftier but subtler Chilean sea bass and beef shank. In the resto’s defense, most of the starters were pretty darn good. The drinks selection at the end was a genuine surprise to all—we did not expect to see a full menu of white, herbal and even crème brulee-flavored teas on top of the usual coffees and Earl Greys. My crème brulee tea smelled and tasted irresistibly of caramel and toffee, which made for a very happy end to the meal indeed.
There’s now a very sophisticated restaurant in Ngau Tau Kok, thanks to the newly opened L’Hotel Elan. Forte (2/F, L’Hotel Elan, 38 Chong Yip St., Kwun Tong, 3968-8222), with its high ceilings, rocky walls (that pay homage to the Geo Park that’s sorta, kinda nearby) and metallic touches, is something that, quite frankly, you wouldn’t expect at all in a local ‘burb like Ngau Tau Kok. The food here is a mix of everything; there’s a salad and appetizer bar to get you filled up on your greens and cold cuts, then you can order a la carte or go with one of their affordably priced lunch or dinner sets (starting from $148). At our media tasting, we sampled everything from fresh sushi with homemade wasabi to lamb shank to Angus rib-eye, finishing off with a refreshing dessert of grapefruit sorbet and apple pastry. If it weren’t so darn far, I’d make Forte a regular go-to: it’s rare to get such decent quality at such reasonable prices on Hong Kong island, that’s for sure.