Dinner at Bloop Shisha Lounge – Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong

Hello all! It’s been SO long since I’ve posted – yes I’ve been busy but that’s no excuse.  Today, I’ll be reviewing Bloop, one of my favorite pre-game and chill out bars in Hong Kong.  But what you probably didn’t know about this place is that it has food!  Bloop is known for its unique hookah pipes and 8 meter long shark tank, but they also cook up a pretty good meal.

I arrived there on a Thursday evening after my spin class at around 8:30pm.  It’s not usually so packed during this hour, but in  most cases, if you don’t have a reservation, it’s probably fully booked/you won’t get in.  I sat in the VIP room this time and patiently waited for my friends to arrive.  The staff is super friendly and they always give good suggestions for what to drink/smoke.

I started with a chocolate martini and a melon shisha.  (BTW, Bloop has really creative hookah bowls this summer like melon, orange, apple and watermelon!!!!)  The chocolate martini is creamy and sweet, sort of like an alcoholic hot (in this case cold) chocolate.  Who could say no to a martini made of Godiva chocolate?

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Of course the first appetizer I ordered (and always will order) was the Truffle Cheese Fries.  If you’re a french fry enthusiast like myself, you MUST order this.  Bloop incorporates melted cheese over their not so salty fries, and the best part is the truffle sauce.  It’s basically mayonnaise and truffle blended to perfection, and it brings me to food heaven every time.  MUST ORDER.

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After my work-out, what better to get but protein?  Sausage platter with a side of ketchup and mustard.  Nothing too special about this other than they give you five types of sausages (cheese, regular, chicken, beef and pork) and it is cut into bite-sized pieces for you.  It’s also nice and hot. One word. Devoured.

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Up next is drinks! Who can say no to alcohol at a bar?  My personal favorite is Alwin’s Kiss.  Why do I like it so much?

  1. It’s a delicious drink
  2. You can’t taste the alcohol
  3. You’ll feel a head change after the first round

The original Alwin’s Kiss was developed at Likuid (now closed).  I’ve personally nicknamed this “the silent killer.”

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Now, the next drink is the exact same drink, but tweaked.  Alwin’s Kiss 2.0, made with Gustav.  They’re both delicious but I personally like 2.0.  It’s stronger but more subtle and isn’t as sweet as the original Alwin’s Kiss.

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Alright, back to food.  I ordered a Caviar Platter next.  Bloop is known for its luxury and class, so I thought it was fitting to order this.  The platter came with diced egg yolk, diced egg white, scallions, thick pancakes/crackers, and of course, caviar.  The way the platter was presented is incredible.

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Next –  “ham and cheese” open faced sandwiches (aka, salad wrapped in prosciutto on top of cheese and toasted baguette).  This was okay – I personally did not like the salad wrapped inside the prosciutto, but I was just greedy for more meat.

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Main dish time!!  Angus beef burgers with french fries.  You can ask them for an open-face burger which I did, but I wish I left that top bun on.  The burger was pretty standard – not too fancy like Harlan’s burger but still pretty standard.  This is the dish I would order for my main course at Bloop.

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Finally, let me tell you what Bloop is doing with their summer fruits.

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YES, ALCOHOLIC FRUITS! If you buy any bottle of hard liquor, you can request puree’d fruit juice for you and your friends to share.  I had tried all of them – the honeydew (which we used in our hookah as well), pineapple, and watermelon.

Bloop is a pretty pricey place so be prepared to spend! It’s definitely worth the money.  Also, there is a minimum charge of $250 a person, and $1000 a person if you want to sit in the VIP room & balcony.

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It is Bloop’s 2nd anniversary! Stop by for a chance to win up to $30,000!!! I”m super excited and hope I win 😉

Location: 21/F, Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street, Central

http://www.facebook.com/bloopshishalounge

Taste: 8.5 out of 10
Environment: 9.5 out of 10
Value for money: 6 out of 10
Service: 8 out of 10

Total: 8 out of 10

– Den

By Denise Kimberley

Dinner at Harlan Goldstein’s Comfort – Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong

food for friends

Harlan Goldstein has been making a huge impact on the luxury food industry in Hong Kong.  After being introduced to Gold, I was really excited to hear about his new restaurant, Comfort.  This restaurant is a more down-to-earth version of Gold.  It is very young, hip, and the decor is just awesome.  My favorite part of the restaurant is hands-down the neon sign that reads “food for friends.” (sorry about the horrible quality/bad photography skills, I used my iPhone)

Bar

So I walk out of the elevator and I get super confused as to where the main door was because I didn’t have enough strength to open the main door (which I thought was locked, but was actually heavy).  The boyf and I entered through the other door on the left, which is actually the staff door (oops).  Just this once, I’ll give you permission to laugh at my stupidity and my inability to open doors.

We sat down and the staff was super friendly! We were greeted at the door and was given our menus right away.  These menus were pretty awesome – the typography reminds me of old diners in the States.

Comfort Menu 1

Comfort Menu 2

Well, enough about menus and decor; it’s FOOD TIME!  The four of us ordered three appetizers, one soup, three mains, and one Bao Bao.

First dish we ordered was their mac & cheese.  Really rich and creamy, with a lovely truffle surprise.  The truffle wasn’t as overwhelming as I expected it to be and the portion was really tiny so we finished it very fast.  This dish is good to share for three or more people – any less and it’ll be too rich to handle.

Comfort's Mac&Cheese

This is what it looks like after being mixed & scooped onto my plate.

Comfort's Mac&Cheese 2

The dish below is the Patatas Bravas; this Spanish dish was made very similar to Indian masala.  The sauce is tangy and spiced, much like Indian curry.  The patatas/potatoes were crispy, bite sized pieces of potato heaven!!

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This was the Lemon Herbed Halloumi Cheese on Indian Spinach.  Comfort’s inverted version of Palak Paneer.  The cheese was a little tough – almost the same consistency as Chinese fish cake.  But the Indian spinach curry sauce was heavenly!

Lemon herbed halloumi cheese with indian spinach

Onto the main dishes. I ordered The Harlan Burger, a fat burger that I finished every single bite of.  I asked for a medium-rare but the kind waiter suggested I order medium because the patty is made with a bit of pork.  First of all, packaging gets an A+.  Harlan branded his burger to the MAX and it was freakin’ awesome.  Look at that packaging!!

packaging

I opened it and my jaw just dropped.  I didn’t eat it for at least five minutes because it was just so great to look at…#foodporn.  By the way, follow my Instagram account for awesome food pics and other awesomeness (yes, I’m self promoting hehe) @denisekimberley.

comfort burger

Bacon. That is all.

inside the burger

The boyf ordered slow-cooked beef cheek, mashed potatoes drizzled with home-style gravy.  The beef cheek was super tender and peels right off.  I’m a huge fan of velvety smooth mashed potatoes, so I was quite disappointed in the not-so smooth mash.  There were bits of potatoes in it, but some people like it like that so to each their own.

beef cheek & mashed potatoes

Roasted Salmon Steak with Thai Yellow Egg Crab Curry & Garlic Bread; our friend’s main.  The curry had bits of crab in it which was an added plus to the dish.  They actually gave a sizable salmon steak which is very rare in most restaurants.

salmon yellow curry

We also ordered the “Melt in your mouth” Pork Belly, Hoi-Sin Glazed Bao Bao and the Uncle Antoine Fisherman’s Soup.  Didn’t take pictures – was eaten too fast SORRY!

Cons: Waiters/waitresses did not fill up our water without us asking.

Pros: Did you even read the post?!

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Location: 5/F Grand Progress Building, 15-16 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong

http://www.facebook.com/comfortbyharlang

Bill Amount: $1,368 for 4 people

Taste: 9 out of 10
Environment: 9.5 out of 10
Value for money: 7.5 out of 10
Service: 7.5 out of 10

Total: 8.5 out of 10

-Den

By Denise Kimberley

Dinner at Wang Jia Sha (王家沙) – Tai Koo, Hong Kong

Happy Tuesday! It’s been a while since I’ve written a post. I’ve been super busy but the hard work has paid off; I’m officially a university graduate 😀

Today, I’ll be reviewing Wang Jia Sha (王家沙), a Shanghainese restaurant in Tai Koo.  I’ve been going there since I moved to Hong Kong (almost 9 years ago), and they have always been one of my family’s go-to places for Shanghainese food.  Just to let you know, they closed down their Lee Garden branch so the only one on Hong Kong Island is in Tai Koo.  Try to book beforehand or else by 6:30pm they get really packed! We went at 5:45pm this time around and since it was Mother’s Day it was full by 6pm.

Decor

We started off with pork gelatin.  I picked up the jelly and it fell apart completely…this doesn’t usually happen but when I put it in my mouth…heaven! Tender meat with smooth jelly, and nice and cold.  Just the way cold dishes should be.  Hong Kong’s restaurants are notorious for serving food quickly so sometimes certain dishes that are supposed to be chilled come out room temperature. Than god Wang Jia Sha isn’t one of those places 🙂

Cold dish - pork gelatin

Glutinous rice rolls…one of my favorite breakfast dishes whenever I go to Shanghai.  They roll their rice rolls really thin.  Inside, there’s deep-fried Chinese donut, salty preserved vegetables, and pork floss.  It’s a pretty standard rice roll.  It tastes really good but the portions are so small you want to savor every last bite of it.

Glutinous rice wrap

Glutinous rice wrap

Scallion pancake. Deep-fried wonder.  Crispy, delicious. Eaten in 1 minute.

Scallion Pancake

Steamed vegetable dumpling.  Meh, I’ve had better.  It’s a pretty standard dumpling.  Probably wouldn’t be the first thing on my mind to order.  They give you four, not two by the way.  I just totally forgot to take a photo hehe 🙂

Steamed dumplings

Steamed vegetable dumpling

Can we please just take a moment to look at this beautiful dish?………………………..*wipes up drool off keyboard* Okay. I’m done.  This was THE BOMB.  There’s no other way to describe it.  Dong Pu Rou is one of Shanghai’s signature dishes and they made it perfectly the way I remember it as a child, as a teen, and as an adult.  The meat falls right off the fat and the fat…don’t even get me started; creamy, smooth, perfect with the sweet soy sauce they cook it in.  Also amazing with the bun it comes with (not too sure what it’s called by Wen & I call it “butterfly bread”).

Braised pork belly

Butterfly Buns

Braised pork belly

Finally, we had Cao Nian Gao.  Stir-fried rice cake with spare ribs in brown sauce. I say brown sauce because it was a hybrid of soy sauce and something else. This was darn good.  If you’re a big fan of carbs, you’ll probably devour this dish in a second.  They did overcook the noodles a bit so it felt a little bit slimy, but the flavor was absolutely perfect!

We ordered a couple more dishes but my hunger overtook my need to blog about this…hehe sorry! Wang Jia Sha, I will always come back to you for amazing Shanghainese food.

Bill Amount: approx $480 for 4 people

Taste: 7.5 out of 10
Environment: 8 out of 10
Value for money: 9 out of 10
Service: 6.5 out of 10

Total: 8 out of 10

-Den

By Denise Kimberley

Dinner at Beijing Home (北京老家) – Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Northern Chinese cuisine; one of the best types of Chinese food in all of China.  I take that back – all Chinese food is delicious. The four of us went to Beijing Home (北京老家) in Causeway Bay.  It is located in Island Beverly but not up the escalators; up the elevators.  We booked it for 8pm and arrived there 10 minutes late.  They still held the table for us, but we realized it was because they weren’t all that crowded.

Before you walk in, you can see the red and gold letters saying “北京老家” as well as beautiful bird cages (with fake birds in it) and traditional Chinese lanterns.  When you walk in, you see beautiful traditional paintings and decor.  Something that stuck out to me was their fish tank infused table.  When you look through the tabletop, you can see the fish living inside of it – cute colorful Asian fish.

We sat down to order and I absolutely fell in LOVE with their plates.  These plates are beautifully designed and look contemporary but traditional at the same time.  Here are some photos:

We ordered 6 dishes and 1 soup.

Numbing spicy beef slices – one of my favorite dishes.  If you don’t like the feeling of numbing spicy (麻辣) foods, I guarantee that you might actually enjoy this dish.  It’s not too numbing like most other Sichuan spicy dishes, and the chili oil really gives the beef a good kick.

Peking sauce pork with thin pancake – a classic.  Instead of Peking duck (which they have!) we ordered pork.


Eggwhites with fish – smooth texture, really good with rice.  A simple, delectable dish.

Deep-fried pancake stirfried with veggies and meat shreds – this is by far my favorite dish here.  For all the carb lovers out there, you MUST order this dish.  The crunchy texture of the deep-fried pancake along with the smooth veggies and meat are incredible.  This dish is almost a 10/10.

Kung pao chicken – another classic.  This reminds me of Northern Chinese cuisine from the States.  Delicious as usual and slightly spicy.  A little bit on the salty side, but nothing a dollop of rice can’t fix!

Mixed vegetables in soup – we needed something green on our table so we ordered this.  This isn’t your typical 上湯菜 (Soupy vegetable? Is that how you translate it…? Lol).  They use a thicker soup base so it’s not super liquidy.  A little bit on the oily side so I had to rinse it with water.  Not bad, but I wouldn’t order it again.

Hot and sour soup – this was not good at all.  The soup was really oily, and it tasted really acidic.  They went overboard on the vinegar. I would not recommend ordering it unless you like drinking vinegar.

We ordered way too much for 4 people.  I’d probably go with 5 dishes instead of 7 if you have a party of 4 🙂

Bill amount: $757 for four people

Taste: 7.5 out of 10
Environment: 8 out of 10
Value for money: 6 out of 10
Service: 7 out of 10

Total: 7 out of 10

Location: Shop R3, 7/F, Island Beverley, 1 George Street, Causeway Bay

-Den

by Denise Kimberley

The Lent Detox

no-alcohol

I’m not religious. But this year, I decided to practice Catholicism…sort of.  The concept of lent really appeals to me.  Some of you might be wondering – what is Lent?  Well, I’m not really sure myself.  But what I do know is that it is a time for people to repent their sins and “self-deny” before Easter Sunday.  My sin was binge drinking.

Now before you think “wow Den, you’re such an alcoholic…” THINK AGAIN.

I don’t completely mean alcohol.  I mean the consumption of soft drinks, juices, and smoothies (drinking calories, not good).  This year, I quit two things: alcohol and sweet drinks.  Alcohol meaning beverages containing alcohol; sweet drinks meaning beverages containing sugar (even natural sugars).  So basically:

  1. Alcoholic beverages
  2. Teas that have been sweetened
  3. All kinds of juice (including freshly squeezed/juiced)
  4. Smoothies
  5. Soda (including diet sodas with 0 calories, but club soda/soda water/sparkling water was ok)

I did this partly because my intake of sugar was waaaaay higher than it should have been.  The other part was because before the start of Lent, I drank my way into March.  I needed a detox.

It was not as hard as it seemed.  Living in Hong Kong means lots of social drinking, because sometimes there isn’t anything else to do after work hours.  But during this detox, all I did after my dinners with friends was go home.  I know it sounds pretty lame but I didn’t want to be tempted by the colorful drinks that would have been coaxing me to take a sip.  Honestly, it saved me a lot of money.  I used to take cabs home which would cost me around $75…but leaving after dinner means I get to take the subway home which is only $3.20 (hehe student discount)! I also didn’t have to spend $300+ a night on drinks which was amazing.  I saved a lot of money.

So how did I feel after lent was over?

I want all the alcohol

But on a serious note, I did start drinking sweet drinks again.  I craved ginger ale really badly so I’ve probably drank 4 cans or more since it ended. I KNOW it’s so bad for me, but I love it.  I do feel a little bit sick now after consuming any sweetened beverages (except for healthy smoothies/juices).  The detox has definitely made me resent sweetened drinks more than I used to, and I actually find myself looking for water when I’m parched more than anything else.

You guys should try it! Or try quitting something you know is harmful to your body for 40+ days.  It will definitely make you feel great by the end of it.  Let me know how it goes.

-Den

By Denise Kimberley

Lunch at Kila – Irish pub in Central, Hong Kong

Kila's Bar

On a random weekday of exploring restaurants in Central, my boyfriend and I came across Kila, a cute Irish pub at the top of Pottinger Street, aka, “石板街”.  I’ve always seen it to be really crowded during happy hour and the later part of evenings, so I never even bothered to find out if they were open during the day.  But on this particular day, we walked all the way up to Wyndham Street  and came across this pub.  We immediately fell in love with the open space, the friendly staff, and mainly, the delicious food.  Something you must know about me – when I fall in love with food at a certain restaurant, you will see me there for weeks and weeks until I get absolutely sick of it.

Their lunch sets are $98 +10%, which is a steal, especially it being located in Central.  Their menu is different everyday, but they mainly follow this equation: a salad or soup, followed by a main course, and finally a dessert.

Iced Water

To start, an iced water because I was really parched from my workout before coming here (irrelevant, I know haha).  You can picture the condensation slowly dripping down the glass…One thing I love about this place is that their food is relatively healthy compared to most others.  Less carbs, more veggies & protein! 😀

Smoked Salmon Salad

I started with a smoked salmon salad with vinaigrette dressing.  It was nice and cold, just the way salads should be.  They were a little bit too heavy handed with their salad dressing though.

Steak with vegetables and roasted potatoes

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I’ve ordered the steak 3 out of the 4 times I’ve been there.  Truly amazing!  I had to wait a lot longer than I usually waited for it though.  They were pretty busy that day and they have limited kitchen helpers.  I wanted my steak medium, but they gave it to me as medium rare.  I usually like my meat a bit more cooked (from medium to medium well), but I had no complaints about the taste.  Minus points for it not being what I asked for.

Tilapia with mashed potatoes and vegetables

The boy had a pan fried tilapia with mashed potatoes and vegetables (this order was +$20).  For someone who doesn’t like fish, I definitely liked this.  The lemon juice drizzled on top accentuated the flavor of the fish, rather than having it cover the fishiness of it (like what most restaurants do).  The mashed potatoes were really well made – not grainy at all.  Perfectly smooth and velvety.

Chocolate cake with melted chocolate

Last but never least, dessert. I’m a big lover of sweets, but this chocolate cake/brownie was so-so. I can’t really consider it cake because it wasn’t cakey, but it wasn’t fudgey either… It was nice and warm, and of course really good after a whole meal of savory foods, but the texture of the cake wasn’t right.

Bill Amount: $237.6 for two people

Taste: 8 out of 10
Environment: 7 out of 10
Value for money: 9 out of 10
Service: 7.5 out of 10
Overall: 8 out of 10

Location: Upper Basement, 79 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong

-Den

By Denise

What every beginner baker needs in their kitchen

Two years ago, I had a sudden urge to start baking again.  Before that, I failed so miserably when I visited the States that I didn’t want to ever touch an oven again.  I used to complain about not having a proper oven in Hong Kong, so when my family visited in 2008, I decided to bake a lemon cake.

I didn’t have any proper supplies and accidentally microwaved butter with the aluminum foil still on it (epic fail).  Fast forward 4 years to 2012, I wanted to create everything and anything sweet – cakes, muffins, pastries, etc.  My dad has a special place in his heart for carrot cake, so I decided to pursue this craft.

During that time, I tried to look online for a list of supplies or things every baker should have. Most of the websites I have found are good resources, but living in Hong Kong means having very little space.  A lot of the food bloggers and recipe websites consisted of racks and racks of supplies.  As a broke college student, seeing their colossal supply made my wallet shrivel up and start crying before I even left the house.

From my two years of baking, here are some tips I wish someone had given me before I started:

  1. Start simple.  I wanted to create so many different things at once, I started bookmarking everything.  My suggestion is to find simple muffin recipes first (like this banana muffin recipe).  Once you’ve found one you like, cut the recipe in half.  This is so that if you mess up, or it doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would, you won’t waste that much.
  2. Don’t buy expensive supplies at first.  Not knowing how to use any of it will result in stress.  Buying cheaper supplies will give you a foundation of how to use certain items.  Plus, it’s more rewarding to buy higher quality, more expensive supplies once you’ve honed your skills.
  3. You will mess up.  Not every cake you make will be phenomenal like the ones at Patisserie Tony Wong.  Practice makes perfect!
  4. Watch videos.  I love watching videos from Laura Vitale or Stephanie Jaworski.  They both have mad skills, and watching their technique has helped me understand why certain batters are the way they are.
  5. Practice, practice, practice!  This cannot be stressed more.  It takes from 20 hours to 10,000 hours to master a skill.  The longest part about baking is the wait time, and I believe it doesn’t count as practice time.  In this day and age, when we wait for something to bake or cook, we don’t watch it.  We take out our phones and play Candy Crush or text our friends back until the timer rings.
  6. Be prepared.  Many recipes require room temperature ingredients , so prepare a few hours ahead. If you want to bake in the morning, leave everything out the night before.  Also, having all the ingredients measured and ready to go before baking saves lives.  All you need to do after measuring is dump it into the bowl and voilà!
  7. Have fun! Or not. I’m not your mother, I can’t tell you how to live your life.

Honestly, I’m just one step above a beginner baker – I’m an advanced beginner. Now for the fun part – supplies! It took me ages to find everything I needed for every type of recipe.  But for beginners, I believe these few items will save your life:

  1. Measuring cups
    measuring cups
  2. Wire whisk
  3. Measuring Spoons
  4. Plastic or rubber spatula
    wire whisk, measuring spoons, rubber spatula
  5. 6 cup muffin tin & paper cupcake liners
  6. Non-stick paper/parchment paper
    non-stick paper, muffin tin, cupcake liners
  7. Rectangular baking tin
  8. Mini sieve
  9. Regular sieve
    loaf tin, sieve, mini sieve

I don’t believe that using an electric mixer or a stand mixer is crucial for beginners, although it has its advantages.  I strongly advise beginners to try everything by hand first (since that’s how our mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s baked…), and once you understand how ingredients fit together, purchase an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.  I recently got a stand mixer for my birthday (thank you Dad) but sometimes using a spatula to fold or a whisk to stir can be beneficial to understanding the anatomy of your batter.

Now here is a list of basic ingredients:

  1. Baking powder
  2. Baking soda
  3. Vanilla extract (extremely important)
  4. Natural unsweetened cocoa powder (can also be used for hot chocolate *drools*)
    vanilla extract, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder
  5. Eggs (can’t have 蛋糕 without 蛋)
  6. Milk
  7. Unsalted butter (usually needed at room temperature)
    milk, butter, eggs
  8. All-purpose flour
  9. Corn starch (for making your own cake flour)
    flour, cornstarch
  10. Vegetable oil (sometimes used to replaced butter)
  11. White granulated sugar
  12. Icing sugar (for frostings/icings/fondants)
  13. Salt (enhances sweetness of desserts, go figure)

Hope I didn’t miss anything! Happy baking 🙂

-Den