On the shelf
1 Black truffle products rarely give more than a hint of the pungent, distinctive and expensive fungus. An exception is Tetsuya's truffle salt, created by Sydney-based chef Tetsuya Wakuda. Made with sea salt and Italian black truffle, it has a strong aroma and is delicious sprinkled as a finishing touch over steak and other meats. It can also be used to season scrambled eggs, risotto and pasta dishes. Use it quickly after opening, though, because the flavour fades. It's HK$115 from Waves Pacific (tel: 2995 1585; www.wavespacific.com).
2 Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise is weirdly delicious. David Chang, who was recently voted the best chef in New York by the James Beard Foundation, uses it at his award-winning Momofuku restaurants, saying it's the best mayonnaise 'because it has MSG'. It comes in a squeeze-bottle with a picture of a kewpie doll on it, and Japanese chefs serve it with salads, meats and seafood. At Apita (tel: 2885 0331), a 300ml bottle - made in China - is HK$18.80 while a 350ml bottle from Japan is HK$20.
3 There's mass-made balsamic vinegar and there's the real stuff: DOC (denominazione di origine controllata) balsamic vinegar. The first is inexpensive, thin and acidic while the second is as thick as syrup, rich, complex and pricey. DOC aceto balsamico is made in Italian towns and cities such as Modena and Reggio Emilia, where it's aged in wooden barrels for a minimum of 12 years. Twenty-five-year-old aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena is available for HK$1,495 (125ml) from Great, Pacific Place, Admiralty (tel: 2918 9986).
4 Professional pastry chefs use at least three types of flour: bread, plain and cake. The first two can be found at almost any supermarket in Hong Kong but the latter - used because its lower gluten content makes for lighter cakes - is difficult to find. The only one that seems to be available consistently is Softasilk cake flour (HK$31), which is sold at Oliver's in the Prince's Building, Central (tel: 2810 7710).