052017Jan

Korean Italian at Moyo

That’s right, imagine your favorite Korean dishes with an Italian influence. At MOYO, they are bringing people together within SoHo to enjoy these creations in an intimate environment on the streets of Aberdeen. Unlike its neighbors around the corner, this place was less about just getting sloshed and more about the quality eats… while you’re getting sloshed.  What can I say, they do have a good range of drinks here.

Inside this easily overlooked restaurant front, you’ll walk into the dining area with tables suitable for groups of two to four. There’s an area toward the back for larger groups, but for the most part this caters to smaller groups. There’s a bar, but again it’s not made for your company happy hour hangout. Not like that’s the atmosphere we wanted. We only wanted to eat.

Our server was great, taking our order and being attentive and all. But the awesome part was that, we were a group of three and it happens that the menu was made for binary groups. That was, things came in two. However, they decided to bring out dishes like the corn and the bruschetta in servings of three. How nice was that. Of course, pricing was adjusted accordingly, but it meant we didn’t have to double up on orders. That’s paying attention to your customers, right then and there.

Overall, it lives up to its reputation. There are times they’re taking big chances with the flavors that it’ll make you wonder if you are in fact eating at a Korean restaurant.

MOYO

36 Aberdeen St
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2858 2777
www.facebook.com/moyohongkong

Verdict: Interesting place to expand your Korean taste buds. If you’re looking for a change, give this place a try.

042017Jan

Kwan Kee Claypot

Walking along the streets of Sai Ting Pun, your eyes will be drawn to all the new building popping up. Some occupied by fancy restaurants others by Western hotel chains. If you happen to come by the glitzy Best Western, you might just notice people eating on the side street between the hotel and the neon lit McDonald’s. When you see that, you are in the presence of Kwan Kee Claypot Rice. An institution that’s been around for ages serving the classic claypot rice bowls.

What makes this place different from the ones over on Kowloon side of Hong Kong is the atmosphere. The people working here have a sense of humor. It’s not all about getting people in and out the fastest by streamlining the food prep. No, this place was sit down, joke with the host, order and wait for your food as it’s being prepared to order.

There was a wait for our claypots, but I didn’t mind at all after tasting the food. It was good! You can read about it more below.

Service wise, it’s typical local Hong Kong. That was, you’ll need to flag people down if you need anything. And don’t worry, they can speak English and have an English menu. They do get a fair number of tourists, but we did notice a good amount of locals. They’re the ones who make up most of the wait. Surprisingly not the tourists. I think it’s because Sai Ying Pun isn’t a tourist hot spot. Mainly a place to stay for most visitors, while Mong Kok attracts all the foreigners looking for that “local” vibe. Awesome. Stay over there while us local foodie explorers find gems like this.

Kwan Kee Claypot Rice

263 Queen’s Road West (entrance off Kwai Heung Street)
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
+852 2803 7209

Verdict: Up for a little adventure into the local eating? This would be your introduction with its good food and foreigner friendly atmosphere.

022017Jan

Little Bao Lovin’

Thanks to Instagram I was drawn to Little Bao. At first it was for its desserts. These colorful bite sized ice cream sandwiches were all over my feed and people made them look so tempting. But once I looked further and did some reading, I had to check out their take on the gua bao, which looked more like a sandwich. But it still has that soft moist bun we all know and love. So this place warranted a visit.

You may get discouraged by the amount of people waiting to get in. Don’t be. It can move pretty fast. And if the wait is like an hour long, you can leave your number with the host and go get some drinks down the street. When seating comes available, they’ll call. In our case, they called us about thirty minutes earlier than they predicted. We still had more than half a beer left and needed to settle our bill before we could head over. I let them know it would be about five to ten minutes, and guess what, it was okay. They held our place until we arrived. Awesome!

Inside, it’s mainly counter seating. Don’t expect party sizes greater than four to be easy if at all possible. They don’t take reservations either. It’s first come first serve for seating and we got seated alongside the wall.

There are dishes for sharing which I do recommend doing. They explicitly state on the menu “no bao cutting” which is understandable. I’ll give you a bite, but no way am I sharing any more than that. =) You’ll know what I mean when you try them. And of course, you can always order more. Just make sure you leave room for dessert. We ordered a plate for sharing, a couple baos, and their lovely ice cream bao’s. The server timed everything well and made sure we were stuffed and done before handing us our bill. There was no rush, even with the hordes of people outside waiting to get a taste.

I should also add that I loved the vibe here. You can’t go wrong with old school hip hop setting the tone. And they were good smooth tracks that make me wonder if you can even call this a hipster hang out. I mean you got an old guy like me enjoying this place. Just sayin.

Little Bao

66 Staunton St
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2194 0202
little-bao.com

Verdict: This place is worth the wait. If not only for the food, but for its music.

312016Dec

Omakase at Yoinn

New Year’s Eve brought a great omakase experience in both the food and the atmosphere. With so much competition in the realm of high end Japanese restaurants in Taipei, what I find rare are those places that add in a bit of character to their restaurant. That’s exactly what we were given at Yoinn Japanese Cuisine.

There are three price points for their omakase $1880NTD, $2380NTD and $2880NTD. We went with the middle $2380 option thinking this would be a good sampling of the foods offered here. What I didn’t expect was the amount of food we got. It was pretty much a feast. And that was even before the chef decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve with us. With what he added to our meal, the price would have been well over what the top price had to offer. I mean, aged otoro, how’s that for an extra!

As for the service and décor, it was versatile and very attentive. Even with our ever changing courses, the servers kept our drinks filled and our area clear of used dishes. This while tending to other tables in this intimately lit restaurant. There are curtains for separators hanging from the ceiling. What’s really cool were the mobility of the curtains. They were made to be moved around according to the size of the party and table configuration. Pretty neat. Then there was the chef who was busy preparing dishes for everyone. However, he took the time to explain to me what fish we were being served. Though we had a language barrier, he was very patient.

After everyone left and only the people at the bar was left, Chef Isao opened up even more. We learned that he was the chef at several Japanese restaurants before opening up this one on his own. Those included a restaurant in Japan and one renowned one in Taipei – one of them acquiring a Michelin star. I forgot the names of them but after having his food, it was obvious we were dealing with an artist. One who doesn’t hold back sharing in his creation and gifts. We sat there through closing sampling his whiskies and scotches while having cured mullet roe “because it goes well with whiskey.” Yeah, this guy is a cool cat in my book. We will be coming back here.

Yoinn Japanese Cuisine (余韻日本料理)

Lane 366, Section 2, Bade Rd, 49號
Songshan District
Taipei City,, Taiwan
+886 2 2740 1088
www.facebook.com/yoinn168/

Verdict: Yes! For quality sushi and a full stomach I recommend coming here.

 

302016Dec

Wagyu Experts at Moe Yakiniku

We were able to get last minute Friday reservations at Moe Yakiniku 3. It’s the third expansion of the restaurant. Known for it’s selection of wagyu and it’s service, we were more than excited to check it out. It’s located in the Da’an district along a street of other restaurants. Inside, the eating area were divided into more intimate sections. Our area had four tables with seating for four. There’s ventilation suction valves at each table and the yakiniku grill was heated with charcoal. Already a lovely sign.

It was all about wagyu here, Australian to be exact. All of our cuts were A5 wagyu with a B.M.S. score of 9. If you want to know more about what that means, read wagyu.org/breed-info/meat-grading/.  I sure had to because I’m used to only hearing A5 until our server told me it was “A9”. So much more learning to do with this wonderful cattle. Anyways, as I mentioned, they are serious about the beef here. And even though I insisted on cooking it ourselves (cuz you know, that’s all the fun in yakiniku) they soon took over. I have to say, they did a much better job than I did. The server knew how to cook it just right, to get that small sear without overcooking, or in my case, undercooking the meat.

A serious place for high end yakiniku where they also focus on service. No wonder there are now three of these restaurants. I’m looking forward to trying this place again.

Moe Yakiniku 3

No. 24, Ln. 116, Guangfu S. Rd.
Daan Dist, Taipei, Taiwan
+886 2 2731 1750

Verdict: Yes, check this place out. It’s on the expensive side but for this grade of wagyu, it’s worth it.

292016Dec

12 Basket’s Evolving Hot Pot

Whenever I’m in Taipei I look forward to having hot pot. Even more so when it’s winter and temperatures drop. So we were off to a place that specializes in crab hot pot, 12 Basket. It’s notoriety stems from it’s use of fresh mud crabs in your soup along with it’s changing soup base which ends up as a congee by the end of your meal. You don’t have to go this route and do ala carte hot pot, but since this was our first time, we went for the popular course.

We opted for the $1480NTD seafood set for 2 people. In addition to the base offering, we upgraded our crab as well as added beef to our meal. That may have been overkill for us since we weren’t able to finish the congee at the end or take advantage of any of the ice cream dessert. No regrets though.

As for the atmosphere, it’s a bit homestyle and local. No posh fixed seating, just tables and chairs that could be moved around to accommodate varying party sizes. There’s a downstairs as well. Most items except for the hot pot ingredients are self served, even the beer! I figure this frees up the wait staff to work at your table to help you cook your items. This was helpful for the seafood which I tend to leave in the pot and overcook. However, I did like my beef a little more rare than how they prepared it. Can’t win them all. Overall, it’s a cozy atmosphere with service and food being what you’d expect from a local restaurant. Though their seafood was a step up from normal. This was a great start to my stay here in Taipei.

12 Basket

Lane 50 Yixian Road
Xinyi District, Taipei City
+886 02-2345-5330
www.12basket.tw

Verdict: Actually just an okay place for seafood hot pot that you won’t leave hungry.

232016Dec

Opening Week at Senia

We were fortunate enough to land reservations Friday night during the opening week of Senia. A restaurant that specializes in farm to table cuisine leveraging the culinary skills of Chris Kajioka and Anthony Rush, former chefs at Per Se, a restaurant by Thomas Keller. I should also add that Anthony had worked at the French Laundry before Per Se. So once I found this out I was eagerly awaiting a wonderful feast. And I have to say, they did not disappoint.

The menu was a little confusing having a section on snacks, plates, and sharing. Thankfully, the staff was super helpful describing what to order and how much we should order for a party of six. The snacks were just that, small portions for tasting. The plates were meant to be shared though one person could easily finish it off for a light meal. We wanted to taste more of the menu and only had a couple of orders where we ordered two for the table. Those were the bone marrow and the lasagna. A move we weren’t going to regret after tasting the lasagna. The share menu items were portioned for three to five people. Again, allowing a group like ours to sample more than one item.

Once we ordered, the courses came out at a steady pace with the staff being very responsive. And it wasn’t like only our server was helping out. It felt like everyone on the floor was helping each other clear tables and refill glasses. That’s a great way to run things.

Overall I was very impressed. Even more so that it was opening week where most restaurants take several months to get things in order for both food and wait staff. This place had it down. I’m looking forward to revisiting Senia  in the future!

Note: I had to use my camera phone. So the images won’t be up to bar with my other photos. Sorry.

Senia

75 N King Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
+1 (808) 200-5412
restaurantsenia.com

Verdict: A must go for finer dining and creative takes with locally sourced ingredients.

222016Dec

Past Closing at Sushi Izakaya Gaku

A quick drive out of Waikiki, you can find Sushi Izakaya Gaku. A place that has been serving up creative dishes for izakaya while also providing some elaborate sushi. We happen to come here primarily for the izakaya. Not to say we didn’t sample some of that wonderful fish. But mainly we wanted a festive night of drinking as we feasted.

We arrived at the restaurant around 8pm and put our name on the list. The wait time was about an hour for our group, a party of seven.

While this place takes reservations, they do not take them after 7pm. Why? My only guess is that it’s a true izakaya where there’s no such thing as a time limit. With that in mind, it’s really difficult to keep any reservations in order when people have a good time and continue ordering more. And going into the evening hours, that becomes more and more difficult. I mean, take us for example. By the time we left, we were the only party there. And looking around the restaurant, they had already started cleaning up.

Thanks for letting us stay to finish our drinks… I mean food.

Our table was in the back where they had sunken seating in a semi private enclosure. The server helped us order the right items explaining each of the dishes. The only thing they ran out of was the duck. No problem. We had over fifteen dishes to go through. Several of them being spectacular so I’m okay with missing one of the dishes. Having a party our size let us try out about half of the menu if you don’t include the sushi. As for the service, it was very attentive. Our drink glasses remained full and every dish came out in good time. We couldn’t have asked for more than that. Well, except maybe to try that duck. Anyways, it was still a memorable meal.

Sushi Izakaya Gaku

1329 S King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
+1 (808) 589-1329

Verdict: Get yourself out of Waikiki and get dinner here. You won’t regret it.

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