Diner’s Diary

Liquid chocolate heaven, and other Peninsula summer treats

Hotel's artisinal chocolate powder can make hot or cold drinks, while Father's Day cake is rich but with some crunch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 10:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 11:56am

The Peninsula Hong Kong has some tempting treats for chocoholics.

One is an artisanal chocolate drink that comes in a powder (HK$250). You can make either hot or cold chocolate drinks with it. The cold one is liquid chocolate heaven. 

Watch: group executive chef Florian Trento's step-by-step instructions

With Father’s Day coming up, the hotel has created a delectable coffee feuilletine with whisky chocolate mousse cake (HK$330). It’s shaped like a brown chocolate shirt with a tie and two gold buttons.

The cake is rich and creamy and has a bit of crunch too from the feuilletine.

We also liked the chocolate tablets (HK$280) - .white chocolate infused with matcha, passion fruit and raspberry and coloured  green, yellow and fuchsia respectively.

When you pop one into your mouth, the popping candy they contain add zing to the taste.

The Peninsula Boutique, The Peninsula Arcade, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2696 6969 www.peninsulaboutique.com



Petrus wine dinner features 15 Chateau Mouton Rothschild vintages 

This announcement caught our eye – it’s not for the faint-hearted.

The ultimate connoisseurs of Bordeaux wine will appreciate an upcoming event, described as an “Iconic Wine Dinner”, at Restaurant Petrus.

Yohann Jousselin, master sommelier at the restaurant in Admiralty, will lead guests through a five-course dinner featuring 15 “sought-after” vintages of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Vintages include those from 2009, 1986, 1982, 1945, and all the way back to 1928.

The 1945 Mouton Rothschild has been hailed by Robert Parker as "one of the immortal wines of the century". Parker says of the 1986, in tasting notes for a 2011 dinner hosted by New York Vintners: "The wine possesses incredible concentration, full body, fabulous length, and is – well – perfect." In his notes for the same dinner, Robert Millman, co-director of Executive Wine Seminars, calls the 1982 vintage "the best bottle of this justly famous wine I have ever tasted". 

The menu for the event in mid-September includes wild mushroom tart, stuffed and gratinated blue lobster, wagyu beef rib-eye and lamb with black garlic puree.

The price tag for the privilege? HK$24,888.

Apparently some guests from out of town have booked their tables already and will be flying in for the event.

Restaurant Petrus, Level 56, Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, tel: 2820 8590


First impressions of Jamie's Italian in Tsim Sha Tsui

Jamie’s Italian in Harbour City opened to less fanfare than its sister restaurant in Causeway Bay, but seems to have more to offer diners. 

First, it is bigger than the Hong Kong Island restaurant, with a large terrace space that’s filled with comfortable couches, perfect for drinks and nibbles outside. They are currently sorting out fans to make it cooler in the summer heat.

Then there are the mural paintings of Hong Kong that are wacky and fun, making this  less of a cookie-cutter chain restaurant, despite the hanging cured meats and wooden boxes of vegetables that are found in all Jamie’s Italians.

Another advantage of the Harbour City location is the pizzas. There are only six other Jamie's Italian restaurants in the world that have pizza ovens.

So how does it stack up? We were hosted on the first Monday evening after it opened, and interestingly, it wasn’t packed. Some 30 per cent of the tables can be booked in advance; the rest are walk-in, so you can take a chance, particularly during weekday evenings. The restaurant says at lunchtime and weekends it is difficult to score a table, although they have also been getting many cancellations, so it's worth trying your luck.

The starters come in small portions, perhaps to encourage diners to order more. The Italian nachos (HK$68) are crispy fried ravioli stuffed with three cheeses that were a bit flat, but livened up when dipped in the arrabbiata sauce. The crispy squid (HK$60) fared better, the batter very light, and the dipping sauce of garlic mayonnaise, lemon and chilli was delicious.

The restaurant takes pride in its bruschetta, and the one with ricotta (HK$68) topped with cherry tomatoes and basil had a touch of lemon that made it refreshing.

After a bit of a wait, the pizzas arrived - strangely sliced into uneven thirds as there were three of us, but awkward to eat. The fiorentina (HK$158) is a Hong Kong interpretation of a classic using gai lan with lemony ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, anchovies and two free-range runny eggs. Perhaps the Chinese vegetable could be chopped into small pieces, otherwise this pizza had to be eaten with a fork and knife.

The Hong Kong Hot (HK$178) was much better, with the right amount of spiciness (and even more if you wanted, with a whole jalapeno pepper and chillis on top). There was also tomato sauce, Cheddar cheese, fennel, salami, spicy meatballs and buffalo mozzarella. With that meat-and-cheese combination, no wonder it’s already popular.

There are daily specials; on Mondays there’s the 18-hour slow-cooked pork belly rolled with herbed breadcrumbs and served with slices of potato and tomato (HK$230). The pork was delicious, with hints of rosemary, though a bit more of the flavourful jus would be appreciated.

For desserts, a light and relatively healthy option is the tangy pineapple and frozen yoghurt (HK$68), while the chocolate, pear and honeycomb pavlova (HK$68) has too much going on, and is very sweet. However, the blood orange gelato of the day (HK$62) was the perfect palate cleanser.

Jamie’s Italian, Shop 412, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui. Tel: 3958 2222. www.jamiesitalian.hk

May 28: Jamie's Italian opens in Tsim Sha Tsui

Jamie’s Italian has opened in Tsim Sha Tsui, allowing us to find out what’s different from British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s first Hong Kong restaurant, Jamie’s Italian in Causeway Bay. The answer, in a word, is pizza.

Among the offerings from the Harbour City restaurant’s open pizza oven is the Hong Kong Hot, featuring spicy meatballs, jalapeno peppers, fennel salami, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and the Fiorentina, with a topping of ricotta cheese, spinach, two eggs, and gai lan.

“We are extremely excited to open our doors in Tsim Sha Tsui as the second Jamie’s Italian in Hong Kong,” says William Lyon, Chief Executive of Big Cat Group, Jamie Oliver’s partner in the restaurants. “Only a handful of Jamie’s Italian around the world serve pizzas.”

As we reported earlier, the restaurant features a graffiti mural designed by urban artist Barnaby Purdy and Hong Kong artist Peter Yuill, featuring a colourful homage to Hong Kong’s history from the 19th century to today. Elements include Lion Rock, the General Post Office, the old Kai Tak airport, and modern-day Canton Road.

Culinary journey of Your Life 

After three years at the helm of the two-Michelin-starred Tenku Ryugin at the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, chef de cuisine Hideaki Sato has branched out on his own with a restaurant called Ta Vie in The Pottinger Hotel in Central.

Ta Vie (“your life” in French) also sports the Chinese character for “travel”, and the fine-dining restaurant transports diners on an intriguing journey of the senses that cannot be classified as belonging to any one cuisine but focuses on using Asian ingredients.

Sato hosted us for an eight-course set dinner as part of Ta Vie’s soft opening. Some aspects seem familiar - ideas taken from Ryugin, such as the menu presented on a piece of paper placed in an envelope, staff wearing all black, and some of the cutlery.

The meal started with small hotaru squid, also known as firefly squid, that are seasonal at the moment, complemented with slightly bitter asparagus skin and thousand miles flowers and served with a mayonnaise sauce inspired by the anchovies used in Caesar salad. It was refreshing and light.

Our next dish looked like scrambled eggs, but in fact was a sweetcorn mousse -  so light and smooth silence fell over the table as we concentrated on the taste - which was combined with aburi botan shrimp in a shrimp broth jelly that had a bit of crunch for texture.

Another delicate course was flounder, pan-seared and cooked perfectly so that it practically melted in the mouth,  combined with green lily buds and wakame seaweed in a sweet clam broth.

Then we were served a Hokkaido oyster wrapped in a thin layer of lightly cooked shabu shabu wagyu beef, thoughtfully sliced in half and garnished with celeriac jelly and ponzu sauce. One would think the beef and oyster tastes would clash, but in fact they were a good match, the oyster actually dominating.

Next was chicken, charcoal-grilled so that the skin was very crispy and the meat tender and juicy, paired with sweet Japanese roasted bell peppers. The last main course was pan-seared abalone with risoni, or orzo, pasta shaped like rice, in a kind of carbonara sauce that was flavourful but a bit on the heavy side.

Two desserts completed the meal. One was a delightful almond tofu, again light and refreshing with Japanese peach that’s in season, lychees and oolong tea jelly. The other featured strawberries topped with a lemongrass sabayon. So good.

The eight-course set dinner will change periodically and is priced at HK$1,880 per person. Dinner is served from 6pm-9.30pm.

Ta Vie replaces Holytan Grill, which we’ve been told will relocate elsewhere at a future date.

Ta Vie, 2/F, The Pottinger, 74 Queen’s Road Central, Central, tel: 2668 6488

Stazione Novella in SoHo hopes to become neighbourhood pit stop

If you're feeling like drinks or a snack in SoHo before heading out for dinner, or chasing an after-dinner drink, there's a new place to try: Stazione Novella.

Named after a train station in Florence, Italy, it's a small bar diagonally opposite PMQ on the corner of Staunton Street and Aberdeen Street that manager Emanuele Gorla hopes will become the neighbourhood pit stop.

We went on the first day it opened and only cured meats and paninis were available. We tried the soppressata panini  (HK$88) with fontina cheese and arugula, which was slightly spicy. Grilling the sandwich made the arugula hard and stringy, but didn't detract from what was a delightful snack.

Stazione Novella will soon have a selection of Italian cheeses available, as well as bruschetta. Eventually, Gorla says, it will be open for breakfast so people can grab fresh coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and baked goods on their way to work.

Stazione Novella, 52-56 Staunton Street, tel: 2559 0559




Burger Circus now serving breakfast, including seriously healthy shakes

Burger Circus seems to be doing a brisk business at lunch and in the evenings, and recently started offering breakfast options.

The restaurant invited us to try “the puppet master” (HK$48), a burger with bacon, farm-fresh egg, a slice of tomato and Circus sauce. We liked the crispy bacon and the fried egg that had a yolk that was runny and delicious. A quick, satisfying breakfast burger that wasn’t from the Golden Arches.

It’s not all greasy stuff at Burger Circus. There’s “the strongman shake” (HK$68), that features baby spinach, apple, banana, celery, pineapple juice, mandarin juice and coconut milk and flaxseed. “The contortionist” (HK$78) has organic Greek yoghurt with granola, seasonal fruit and organic honey.

Burger Circus, 22 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2878 7787. Breakfast is available from 9am-11am Monday to Thursday, and from 6am to 11am Friday to Sunday.