Monday, 19 October 2009

Food Journey #29 - Spanish Fiesta Lunch at TAPEO

Wandering around Wyndham Street can always turn out to be quite a fun activity during lunch hours as there are restaurants in each & every single block with busy executives munching & drinking their way at speed of lightning to make their way back to office by 2pm. Typical lunch, I was doing my usual patrol around the hood and I decided to pay a visit to this little spot TAPEO which is not the easiest place to notice.
What appealed me was that first of all, something about Open Kitchens that really excites me as I love the smell of fresh food being grilled, cooked, deep fried, sauteed etc and a team of chefs preparing all the food for the diners. Tapeo is a very interesting. Look at the wonderful photos below and especially the very smokey photo of the mackerals being grilled, for me, that is the best part of culinary adventures is to see professional chefs doing their magic! At Tapeo, whatever you order, the chefs will prepare all your orders in front of you (aside from the desserts) and the only downside is that the ventilation system must be improved as I left the restaurant with a very strong smell of grilled food which is not the best!
First of all, I want to share with you all the best part of the meal which was the Jamon Serrano - a dry cured Spanish ham served raw in slices also known as Mountain Ham. Traditionally, the hams are trimmed & thinly sliced, best served in room temperature. Do not be mistaken with the Jamon Serrano with the Jamon Iberico as it is an entirely different breed and Jamon Iberico is also much more expensive. Originally, the Jamon Serrano was meant to be for "tasting" but somehow, we ended up finishing the whole platter as the taste was purely savoury & divine. For $98 per platter at Tapeo, this is not a bad deal at all
Now, on the rest of the meal, want to share with you the best part of the meal:
  • Pulpo a La Gallega - Gently Confit Octopus with Capers & Paprika - This is one of the 10 dishes to try when you are travelling in Spain and is Galicia's signature dish. The octopus was slowly braised for 3-4 hours and cooked & reheated in virgin olive oil with a mixture of Spanish sea-salt, paprika & capers. This was my favourite dish of the day as the it is very difficult that the texture of the octopus is so tender & chewy and it was a special dish at Tapeo. (See recipe -

  • Lamb with Tomato & Spices - Grilled Lamb with Cayenne Pepper, Paprika & Chilli - The lamb is slowly grilled and is served in skewers along with halved cherry tomatoes. The flavour of the spices was extremely fragrant and the flavour of the lamb is alsy very strong. The combination of cayenne pepper, paprika & chilli gave this dish an extra kick for sure and this is a perfect snack to pair with an ice-cold beer after-work. Despite the positive side of this dish, priced at $68 for 2 skewers, perhaps 2 more skewers shall justify.
  • Crispy Pork Belly with Quince Alioli - Slowly roasted pork with a Quince Garlic Mayonnaise - This was also a typical Spanish Tapas served and watching the fat slab of the pork belly being slowly roasted was a good source of entertainment. The flavours & the smell coming from the open kitchen is something that every foodie should be drooling over. Never have been a big fan of Pork ever in my life but since it was highly recommended by the chef, I gave this dish a shot and to my surprise, I enjoyed very bite of it asit wasnt extremely oily & fatty that I thought it would be. The pork belly was extremely crispy which was the best part of it. The Quince Alioli - in simple terms - an apple garlic mayonnaise which to my palate was a good pairing with the pork belly but for a garlic lover like myself, my advice for Tapeo is, please more garlic as the garlic mayo isnt very garlic flavoured.

  • Other dishes which we also tried out was the Gazpacho - cold Spanish Tomato based raw vegetable soup which as originated from the southern region of Andalucia. a very refreshing cold "soup" to start off your meal for sure especially in the heat of Hong Kong. The bread basket was also very fresh & warm and the mix of warm bread & ice-cold Gazpacho provided an interesting chemistry.

  • Chorizo & Tomato - Sauteed in sherry vinegar, parsley & spring onions. I have never been a fan of Spanish Chorizo as the texture is far too similar to the Chinese Dried Sausauges (Lap Chuen 臘腸) therefore I am definitely not too keen on this dish. The sauce of the dish was tasty and best for your bread dipping and my recommendation is more parsley should be chopped & used in this dish for a stronger intensive flavour
  • Manchego Cheese & Honey - This should have been a starter in the traditional Spanish cuisine but however, I decided to eat this as a dessert. Manchego Cheese is a sheep's milk cheese, produced in the La Mancha region of Spain. Normally aged for 3 months or longer, this cheese has a very sharp taste, slightly salty but not too strong, similar to a feta cheese. Traditional method in consuming Manchego Cheese is to serve on toasted bread with drizzled olive oil - AHHHH -- these Spanish people do know how to eat like a king! Cheese & Honey pairing is a interesting pairing but again, I normally prefer my cheese with some form of carbs therefore this dish can be improved if some sort of bread or crackers are served together.

It was a very plesant experience to have a relaxing lunch in the middle of Central. Friendly & courteous service and it definitely has that home-feeling especially staff tries to strike a conversation every now & then. Food is hearty & very well presented with good flavours especially the open kitchen is a joy whilst you are waiting your food. However, the ventilation system must be improved and should also consider about enlarging some of the portion sizes as the Hong Kongers may find the portion size a little too small even though it is meant to be a Tapas. Aside from two minor issues, I do recommend this venue to my readers and I shall also revisit this place duly!
Happy Eating!
UPCOMING REVIEW: Shanghainese Buffet at The Clipper Lounge at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Address: 19 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong (中環荷李活道19號)
Tel: 31711989
Food Quality (5* the highest): 3/1/2/*
Price for Lunch (5$ = very expensive): **
Text Colour

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Food Journey #28 - One Night in Happy Valley

Ever since my mother has relocated to Happy Valley, I have done my part to regularly visit many different restaurants in the neighbourhood to find interesting restaurants or venues for Geoff's Twitchen. Curiously asked my colleagues at work in which whether there are any interesting venues in Happy Valley which does a good curry as I was craving for curry throughout the morning & afternoon. Colleague responded that The Chapel Bar located Yik Yum Street apparently does the "Best Curry in Hong Kong" and is a must try. With such response, I visited The Chapel Bar to check out -- noted in inverted commans "best curry in Hong Kong" and my lord, I have never had anything as bad as this. No disrespect to my colleague or anything, but it was just purely utter sh*t!

Recommended Dishes

There were simply no recommended dishes from we ordered on the evening therefore enough said!

NOT Recommended Dishes

The food was so bad which I do not even know where to start. We ordered a traditional Chicken Tikka, Lamb Vindaloo (with 5 chilli signs on the menu), 1 portion of Garlic Naan Bread, 1 portion of Balsmati Rice & 1 bottle of Singha Beer. We waited for the take-away for around 15 - 20 mins which I was fairly impatient about and when it arrived, I thought - "this better be good". Opened up the boxes when arrived at flat, see below photos and all it is is just a big aluminium tin with lots of curry sauce and a few cutlets of lamb & chicken.

What was Wrong?
Everything was wrong about the curry! It tasted sour and far too much tomatoes were used in the cooking process. The curry sauce was far too "watery"!

*Portions were far too small for the price of $80 per portion

Both Chicken & Lamb was a disaster, both had no taste & was flavourless. I wonder where did The Chapel sourced such rubbish products.
Never knew that the Balsmati Rice was that expensive at $28 per bowl which was so small that I probably needed an extra 3 bowls for my usual meals

Garlic Naan Bread tasted more like a regular Naan Bread. It was only when I diced up so garlic from the kitchen made it tasted more like a Garlic Naan Bread

The good old Vindaloo gave me a a runny stomach all night and I dont want to go into much details on the aftermath

To sum up, the whole meal was so so bad that even at such small portion sizes, I could not finish the meal. I dont think I have ever had bad experiences with every single dish which I ordered and the Chapel Bar must be the first to achieve such standings. I have had much better experiences with Indian food in Hong Kong at venues such as Gunga Dins, Bombay Dreams, Gaylord, Curry Houses in Chung King Mansion and to have recieved such "best curry in Hong Kong" comment from a colleague of mine is a fellow foodie who recommended this visit was an embarrasement.

The Chapel Bar in Happy Valley may be a good chilled out place to have a few beers, I vow never to return there again for food

Address: 27 Yik Yum Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong (

Tel: 2834-6565

Food Quality (5* the highest): 0*

Price for Dinner (5$ = very expensive): **

Wasakuraya 和櫻屋

No disrespect to The Chapel Bar, the meal above wasn't enough for me so I wandered out with my partner for some dessert to fill us up whereby we got attracted by the bright lights at Wasakuraya ( , a small Japanese dessert house which serves up traditional Japanese style puddings. Just like my previous journey to Tai Hang area in earlier posts on Geoff's Twitchen, my evening was rescued by this visit to Wasakuraya.

Had a good chat with the staff and found out that all of the ingredients are all freshly imported from Japan such as eggs & milk from Hokkaido to ensure the best quality puddings are produced.

Highly Recommended Puddings:

*Sesame Flavoured Custard Pudding -- Not too sweet and very strongly sesame flavoured!

*Green Tea Flavoured Custard Pudding -- This was my personal favourite and for me, this is a better & slightly healthier substitute to a green-tea flavoured ice-cream. The green tea flavours was so pungent and the custard was smooth as silk. PERFECT!

*Classic flavoured Custard Pudding with Chestnut syrup -- This was my partner's favourite and her comment was similar to mine above. The custard pudding was smooth & creamy.

After finishing the Greentea flavoured custard pudding by myself, I also tried out my other 2 highly recommended custard puddings. My firm conclusion is that the usage of the eggs & milk from Hokkaido makes a huge difference in the taste. Such a simple dessert but yet with such intense flavours, this has become one of my recent favourite dessert places around the neighbourhood and I shall return very shortly.

Point to Note::
Hokkaido has become almost synonymous and is ranked the #1 region in Japan with gourmet food given the rich variety of dairy products and fresh seafood to be found on the island located in Japan's northern most regions. High quality & production of dairy products such as butter, cheese, ice-cream, yoghurt whereby most of the products are now exported to many countries around the world. If
you are travelling to Hokkaido, please do check out, purchase & EAT their dairy products, it is heavenly! Hokkaido is also extremely infamous for its seafood such as Matsuba crabs, Uni (Sea Urchin), Botan Shrimp etc & its glorious weather!

Address: 1, Fung Fai Terrace, Happy Valley, Hong Kong (跑馬地鳳輝臺1號地下A舖

Tel: 2575 3328

Food Quality (5* the highest): ****

Price for Dessert (5$ = very expensive): ****

UPCOMING REVIEW -- Fancy some Spanish Tapas at TAPEO on Wyndham Street?

Happy Eating!