Friday, 22 May 2015

Via Tokyo,Hong Kong + Interview with owner, Kosei Kamatani!



Apologies everyone, Milktea has now disappeared off the face of the Earth. She has been away on some mini adventures in interstate and also has a severe case of writers' block. 

Have you missed the sarcasm and lame jokes? yes? fear not, she is back! with more lame and sarcasm than ever! Brace yourselves! 

Ready? 

Let's go! 

I make a return to blogging with a first, what first you ask? 
An interview of course! So who is this person that caught her attention? 

*drum roll please!*

Kosei Kamatani of the famed Via Tokyo in Hong Kong! 

Kosei is  a guy with guts IMO! Originally from a business background, he left his highly attractive and stable corporate job for F&B simply because he realised where his heart really was, with his family being in F&B for over 30 years. 

Kosei also heads up a few other food ventures ( highlighted below) but the other one you can't miss is definitely Ramen Jo. Delicious ramen I tell you! 

It was a shame I didn't get to meet him in person when I was in Hong Kong earlier this year, Kosei is super friendly and you can feel his passion for food even via email! now that's what I call for the love of food! 


Via Tokyo

Like The Peak, Via Tokyo is a must visit for any matcha lovers when in Hong Kong (Big call I know!). Over half their menu is dedicated to matcha items and they use 3.6 hokkaido milk, which is creamier and has a vanilla after taste (This stuff is so good that I drink this stuff straight even though I'm mildly lactose intolerant and almost never drink milk straight!) 

It is no surprise that visiting Via Tokyo on an average night means standing in queue for a good 20-30 minutes! But trust me, this place is worth the wait! 


shiratama azuki matcha soft cream 

"pour that syrup baby! " is what I said, probably a bit too loud because it garnered a few odd looks from my table neighbours. 

Wait till you try this azuki matcha soft cream though, because you may very well be saying the same thing. The matcha soft cream is creamy and intense in matcha flavour, the azuki beans and the mochi balls give it an refreshing change in texture. It may have be cold in Hong Kong at the time, but that did not stop me! 


royal milk tea parfait w/ housemade langue de chat 

asides matcha ( and hojicha, which i missed out on!) they also have a popular royal milk tea section of their menu. Essentially all the matcha items in royal milk tea flavour! The tea flavour is robust and is offset by the vanilla creaminess of the hokkaido milk. It complements the creamy soft serve really well. What surprised me was the house made langue de chat or cat's tongue biscuit. buttery and short, I could easily eat a dozen of these!

Now on to the interview with the highly successful man behind the operations of matcha heaven, Via Tokyo ( and a handful others including a shisha bar!)

1. What is your favourite creation from Via Tokyo?
At the moment, I really am happy with our milk tea parfait! I think the combination of ingredients has worked out pretty well.

2. You use to work in one of the big 4 companies, what made you leave the corporate world and delve into the world of food? And why HK?

I went school at the University of Southern California, at the Marshall Business School specifically. I always thought I was going to go the corporate route with steady and safe kind of career. But 3 years in, I realised it just wasn't what I wanted to do anymore; my family has been in F&B for 30 years, and where my heart always was. It was a natural decision for me. I was actually born in HK and my parents live here too - this is home for me!

3. From pizza to ramen to matcha heaven, you’ve got a fair few food ventures under your belt, can you tell us which one has been your favourite so far and why?How do you feel about all the accolades attached to your name?

When I first quit my corporate job, I actually started a Frozen Yogurt store called Yogo (which is the exact location where Via Tokyo is now). That was my favourite venture, the one that gets me nostalgic and leaves me with the most memories. It has since closed down, obviously, but it's where I got my start and learned the most about how tough the industry is.
The accolades (and there aren't all that much really!) are great, and provide good motivation for me. You always feel happy to be recognised for hard work. But my personal goal has always been to provide something which customers would find delicious and love to eat. There's nothing more wonderful than seeing a customer really enjoying one of your products!

4. So how did the super successful via Tokyo come by?

Via Tokyo was an idea me and my family had to offer quality Japanese desserts to the people of Hong Kong. I think previously there wasn't much in the way of a dedicated and authentic Japanese dessert store in Hong Kong, so we wanted to fill that gap. Before we opened, the concept was actually to offer a relaxing and quiet environment where people could have a coffee, read a book and have some dessert as well! I'd be lying if I said I knew it would get so busy.

5. So you call yourself a junk foodie, what do you get up to food-wise when you're not managing your ventures?

I love to eat, and it is my greatest passion (besides running my restaurants, of course). When I'm not working a lot of the time I'm eating! Fine dining at posh places is great but not always my thing, as I can't always justify paying for that kind of meal. Which is why I love to eat junk food! Quicker, cheaper, easier to enjoy. My ideal meal is a dirty burger or quick bowl of ramen, and of course desserts as well.

6. Who is one of your biggest inspirations when it comes to your creations and food related adventures? 

My mother. She's done this for 30 years by herself mostly, and it's inspirational to me that she could come to HK so many years ago and start from nothing. I would be nothing without her and she taught me to love food since I was young.

7. As a child, what did you like to eat? What about now?

My favourites haven't changed much! I had a terrible sweet tooth as a kid and I still do now.

8. Are there foods that you won’t touch with a 10-ft pole?

I guess insects? That totally revolts me! Can't imagine eating an insect. Durian as well, can't handle it!

9. You do a fair bit of travelling, do you have a favourite city for eating?

It would have to be Tokyo. The quality, variety, and price of food (with the low yen now) is quite unbeatable. They also do most other foreign cuisines quite well too!

10. Your most memorable meal so far?

Ahh sorry to cheat a bit, but can't say there's a clear-cut most memorable meal! If anything, I absolutely love the experiences during my annual ramen crawl in Tokyo/rest of Japan. The ramen is just too good.

11. And let’s hope you won’t be needing this anytime soon, what would be your Death Row meal?

Wow haha! Yes wouldn't want that, but for the sake of clarity, probably a steaming hot bowl of shoyu ramen. Would drink every last drop of soup.

12. What should we expect from you next? Any amazing food ventures in the planning?

I have too many ideas! Can't execute them all of course, but for the short term, would love to expand on Via Tokyo.

13. And last but not least, butter or margarine?

Butter any day. Cholesterol be damned.


I hope you all enjoyed the interview with Kosei! I definitely can't wait to meet him in person, he is such an inspiring guy! 
want to know more? you can find him on instagram here and here!

So guys, what is your favourite dessert? are you a matcha fan like me? let me know in the comments below! 


Till next time, 
Milkteaxx 

Via Tokyo
Shop nos. 1A-1B, G/F., Leishun Court,
106-126 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay
銅鑼灣禮頓道106-126號禮信大廈地下1A-1B號舖
PH: +852 
2895 1116Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/viatokyocafe




                                             Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

ATUM Desserant, HK

It's been well over 2 months since my trip to Hong Kong and I have yet to blog about it, talk about a backlog! 

So what mischief did I get up to in Hong Kong? 

Asides eating to my stomach's maximum capacity every 2 hours, I did a few heritage walks, shopped to my heart's (not so much my purse's) content and enjoyed some long overdue quality time with family and friends. I also tried out a few dining experiences that weren’t yet available in Sydney.

After the dining inthe dark experience, an ex-Sydney-sider foodie (Come back! Sydney is where you belong!) and I decided to checked out the much hyped Atum Desserant, an institution that specialises in molecular gastronomy influenced innovative and modern desserts with flavours paying homage to the Asian palate.

Hidden in the depths in one of the many commercial sky rise buildings in Causeway Bay, Atum is known for their fun and artistic approach to molecular gastronomy desserts. 

Once you hop off the lift, you will be greeted by an airy and bright open plan design, the furnishing is predominantly white and minimalistic, reflective of their room for creativity in dessert flavours and presentation. 


To get the creative going, an amuse bouche is served in test tubes upon settling down at the wrap around. The flavours change seasonally, the one we received was the strawberry guava, sweet and tangy, whetting the appetite perfectly for the amount of sugar to come.




The staffs here are really friendly and even deal with our indecisiveness of choosing a silicon mat (you can choose from white, black and grey).

Once you are ready, a dessert specialist will begin by introducing you to the array of ingredients and sweets that will be used and asking us for inspirations. Being the completely artistically challenged, I left that in the role of the dessert specialist.

 

A squiggle of this, a sprinkle of that and soon our mat was covered in an artistic mess of sugary goodness. Improvisation indeed!


On our visit, there was an array of the usual suspects such as dark chocolate mousse, freeze dried fruits and meringues  but also the more oriental themed matcha mochi, taro marshmallows, charcoal honeycomb and much much more.  The components evolve based on seasonality.

improvisation ($388 HKD + 10% service) 





IT is torturous watching our dessert specialist ïmprovise” for almost an hour, but he  probably noticed we were getting a bit agitated so started offering us a bit of each component to try as he continued his work of art.



To top off the Improvisation, 2 flavours of liquid nitrogen ice cream are made in front of you and placed in the centre of the mat. I believe our one was a mandarin sorbet and a black charcoal dark chocolate one. 2 highly contrasting flavours tantalising our palates.


There is no real rules as to how you eat this, just nibble at those appeasing pieces. I found myself picking at a different piece to try things out




Once you are in a sugar coma, your choice of drink ordered earlier arrives. They have a range of loose leaf teas on offer but I am drawn to their house made sodas. I opt for the grapefruit soda whilst my sugar partner in crime opts for a more sensible tea. (#what diabetes?)


Make sure you make a reservation as there are limited seats at the bar! (essential if you want to order the Improvisation).

All in all, a really fun and interactive experience, perfect for catching up with a group or for a quiet weekend out. I would love to come back and try out all the other desserts on offer, especially the brownie “steak”!


Till next time,

Milkteaxx

16/F, the L. Square, No. 459-461 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay 
銅鑼灣駱克道459-461The L. Square 16 
Tel: +852 2956 1411

Hours: Mon: 18:00-00:00; Tue-Sun: 13:00-00:00 

                                                 Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+

Monday, 20 April 2015

ACME - Rushcutters Bay.




ACME, synonymous to the summit, the best of something. 



eggplant parmigana



baloney sandwich

Rarely do I ever rave about a sandwich, wait scratch that, I rarely ever order sandwiches to begin with. But a little birdy had told me that the baloney sandwich is a must order here, so of course we had to order it! 

The verdict? 
Insanely delicious! 
The soft buttery brioche bun encasing the ribbons of silky baloney, nothing I can fault here!


linguine, black garlic, burnt chilli

The pasta here are simple in both use of ingredients and flavours, allowing the freshness of the ingredients to shine through. The pasta here is also served al dente and serving sizes are on the small side. 

The first pasta we have is the linguine with black garlic and burnt chilli. This is jam packed with flavour from the black garlic (with an extra kick from the burnt chilli), it however does get a bit dry towards the end, but the heady mix had us picking at the remnants on the plate. 


macaroni, pigs head, egg yolk

ACME's signature dish is their pig's head macaroni. The dish arrives in a small bowl with the yolk huddled amongst a pile of slippery macaroni. Go on, give the components a good mix!
The pig's had meat is delicious and all things salty and meaty, going really well with the pasta.


malteaser ice cream with candied bacon ice cream 

How can one pass up candied bacon? well, at least I can't. The ice cream is predominantly vanilla in flavour but the crispy and smokey bacon is a flavour bomb and gives it an amazing contrasting texture. Big thumbs up from me!


peach iced tea ice cream 

The peach iced tea is there but alas a bit light on flavour. This was quite refreshing and light on the palate, definitely something to have when you've had a heavy meal but looking for something mildly sweet to cut through it.

ACME is definitely a great place for a relaxing evening, to catch up with friends, this not so traditional Italian restaurant is definitely worth the hype and trek!

So how do you like your pasta? al dente? Let me know in the comments below!


Till next time,

Milkteaxx



ACME on Urbanspoon




                                             Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tim Ho Wan, Chatswood.

I'm the queen of impatience (and dad jokes), you will rarely spot me queueing for things, unless it comes in the form of a pork bun. yep, that's Tim Ho Wan (and Momofuku's too). 


Them famous (pork) buns

If you still haven't heard of Tim Ho Wan by now then you may be living under a rock.
This 100-seater eatery is Dim Sim star Mak Kwai Pui's first in Sydney, a branch off the cheapest ever michelin star restaurant in Hong Kong.

I don't think any yum cha place is Sydney has ever received so much noise and hype before it opened, it has been said that keen yum cha goers were enquiring about table bookings 3 months out of the opening date (say what?)

is Queuing not your thing? fear not then, if you have 9 other hungry stomachs and $300 amongst you, go ahead and book the private room, that gives you 2 hours of peaceful eating time. The only downside of it is the yum cha vibe is no longer present and the sliding auto door (for privacy) seems to be a bit over-sensitive. 

All those epic queues and hype aside (Thanks Alfred and Michael for booking/queuing) did THW live up to the hype? 

well yum some cha (ha!) and read on, as this is going to be one helluva of a food post. 



did we over order?  NEVER!

As THW is a hive of activity, the ordering of food occurs outside while lining up. You are presented with the dim sim paper, where you simply tick all the items you are after. A quick count shows there are 25 items on the menu, it sure sounds like a lot, but when you've queued for so long and have the stomach capacity, I would highly recommend trying everything. Yes, even the steamed pig liver rice rolls.


Like most Chinese restaurants, you aren't here for the service, you are here for the food. Sure the vibe is equally important and THW sure has the buzz of a sunday yum cha session going, but instead of trolleys of food, you've got some old school canto-pop blaring out of speakers.

Nostalgic, I tell you.

The food here arrives in sporadic order and there is no concept of pacing either. Which means we receive our teas almost 45 minutes into our meal.



glutinous rice in lotus leaf 

First up is glutinous rice in lotus leaf. The THW version is a bit bigger in portion than your regular ones, the rice is sticky and saucy and jam packed with fillings, even the non rice person (me) gave it a thumbs up. Beware though, this fills you up a fair bit!



wasabi salad prawn dumpling 

There is also an assortment of fried dim sims, this one is the wasabi salad prawn dumpling, crispy and wasabi laden hiding spring bits of prawn. The unnatural shade of green got to me a bit though.


round 1: KO-ed

God forbid that we go away without sampling everything, I'm still hungry lives true to his name and orders 3+ of everything, you go Shen!


sui mai (pork dumpling with shrimp) 

One can not go yum cha without ordering the essentials. These don't disappoint, filled with an abundance of pork and bouncy prawn.


Har gow ( prawn dumpling) 

Another classic is the Har Gow, or prawn dumpling. Again these morsels don't disappoint, the skin is a bit thicker than normal. The prawn is fresh and flavoursome but The rice flour skin turns translucent when steamed. I remember as a kid i would eat just the skin and not the filling, how silly was I?!?


steamed pork ribs in black bean sauce 

I am a big fan of steamed pork ribs, the yum cha versions are always really tender and soft, you really can't go wrong. I grew up eating these tender morsels coated in a heavenly black bean sauce. I still think no one beats my mum's steamed pork ribs!


bean curd skin with pork and shrimp

slippery bean curd skin doesn't float everyone's boats, but these parcels of goodness are a favourite within our family. saucy bits of prawn and bamboo shoots is hard to fault, best eaten hot though or the sauce gets congealed and gelatinous.


 panfried carrot cake 

I love panfried carrot (radish) cake, the crispy charred edges and the shredded radishes brings back great childhood memories. Although the ones at THW don't have shreds of radish through them, they were still quite delicious. I would've liked a bit more char on them though. 


rice with beef and fried egg

There is also a couple of rice selections available.
The steamed beef and fried egg is quite delicious, with the rice soaking up all the flavour. The only thing i could fault was the fried egg, if there was a oozy yolk then I would definitely give it a 20/20!


rice with chicken, sausage and mushroom

The other rice choice is the more traditional chicken, sausage and mushroom. The flavours in this is pretty good but the beef version is still the winner.


spring roll with egg white

We also sample the spring rolls with egg white and prawn paste. We all agreed that they were on a bland and oily side.

 ok just one more

Finally we are onto the star of the show. We order 3 serves of these famous pork buns.


last one I promise!

The sugary thin crust covers a saucy pork filling. The bun is smaller than the normal baked pork buns you get a yum cha, it is also on the sweeter side. Call me weak but I can probably only polish 1-1.5 max due to the sweetness.


beancurd skin roll with shrimp 

Told you there was no specific order to the dishes arriving, after the oohs and ahhs of the pork bun, we receive these deep fried bean curd skin rolls. I much preferred these to the spring rolls as there was more flavours and textures to them despite being rather oily.


seasonal vegetables 

Ah yes, we endeavoured to cover the entire menu so we ordered the seasonal vegetables too.
not 1, but 2 serves. proud of us?
I'm still hungry is sure proud!


He really is still hungry. 

FYI, we finished all our greens like good little kids.


fish maw with prawn paste

I was struggling by this point, a bite of this and a bite of that sure fills you up real quick, but for blogging purposes (yes, yes...) I had to soldier on. 
The next dish we sampled were the fish maw with prawn paste. The prawn paste is bouncy and delicious but the piece of fish maw didn't really resemble the gelatinous and slippery braised piece I was use to. 



beef ball with bean curd skin 

Beef is rarely served at home so I pick a beef dish whenever I eat out. 
These beef balls are moreish and the water chestnut pieces add another dimension to it. This is definitely a hard dish to perfect as some restaurants add in too much flour and the resulting product can be on the mushy side. 



braised chicken feet with abalone sauce 

I love chicken feet, the saucy gelatinous goodness is toe-suckingly good (cringeworthy I know) If i had to pick a dish that disappointed me at THW, then it would be this one. The chicken feet here are rather boney and are on the firm side, not so gelatinous and soft as expected. 



 tonic medlar and osmanthus cake 

This dessert is misleading called a cake, it is more a firm jelly made of sugared osmanthus, goji berries and rock sugar. I personally prefer mine more wobbly and less sweet.


mango sago pomelo  

We bring an epic meal to a sweet end with this amazing mango sago pomelo dessert soup. It is intense in mango flavour and the sago gives it a nice contrasting texture. I however couldn't pick out the presence of pomelo.


 So you may notice that we missed out on a few dishes and as food bloggers we will go far to ensure we sample as much of the menu as possible, but alas the steamed malay cake wasn't available on the day and the rice paper roll machine was out of order. I guess that is a sign that our stomachs could take no more food. 

the queue at 1130am. 

so the low down of THW in Sydney you ask? 

I haven't tried the original one in HK yet so I have nothing to compare to, but if comparing it to the other yum cha offerings in Sydney, the menu is definitely more interesting and has more variety. The queues and the location however are a major turn off for me personally. Price wise, our mass of food came to $45/pp which is definitely pricey for a yum cha session. 

Will I return? Yes, but only when the queues aren't so insane and when they open the city/ Burwood branch. (The other side of the bridge is a rather foreign place to me)



Till next time, 

Milkteaxx 



Tim Ho Wan on Urbanspoon




                Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Work In Progress, Sydney CBD


I get asked what my favourite food is all the time.

 It is a very hard question to answer, most of the time i'll just say depends on my mood, but if I had to choose 1 food only? fried chicken would rank pretty high on the list. Not any kind of fried chicken, but the crispy crunchy Korean fried chicken. The one where shards of batter go everywhere upon your first bite to reveal the juicy tender innards. admit it guys, you know what I am talking about!


Patrick sure has a great sense of humour!

so I guess Patrick Friesen got a bit bored of the stunning view manly had to offer and decided to branch out to one of his favourite after work snacks. This is how we got to sample his not so work in progress fried chook and noodles.


the bar 

WIP is quipped with a liquor license, so feel free to grab a drink or 2 to go with your fried chook! 


wonton- pork and prawn wonton, strange flavour, sichuan pepper

The menu at WIP is quite brief, a couple of choices under each of the sections. First up is the pork and prawn wontons. I was really curious as to what the strange flavour was but I couldn't really pick it asides the chilli oil, it may be due to the fact that us Asians eat a lot of "unusual" things. 

We have all been long spoilt by cheap and cheerful bowls of wonton from the chinatown food courts, so the price tag of these morsels may be a shock for most. Yes these wontons are on the pricier side, but damn these babies were delicious! A translucent skin encasing a flavoursome filling of pork and prawn. 


The crab noodles- snow crab, tobiko, shellfish oil lo mein

There was only 1 noodle dish that I had my eyes on at WIP. The crab noodles. I was promised an abundance of snow crab, mixed with plenty of tobiko and Patrick doesn't disappoint, he delivers. The only thing I could really fault about this dish was not enough shellfish oil so the noodles got a bit dry towards the end. 


fly high- pnomh penh wings, lime & white pepper 

 I recently read an article on why we crave certain comfort foods, in a nutshell, comfort food is subjective and is defined as foods we have a positive experience with and/or prepared by someone of utter importance to us. 

You want a way to my heart? asides bribing me with food (that normally works!) chicken wings are will score you extra brownie points.

Back to the star dish of the meal, the pnomh penh wings. lightly coated in a batter and fried till perfection, I don't think I've had many wings better than this dish (with exception to my mother's secret wings recipe of course!) The wing came with a tangy dipping sauce, but I thought the dipping sauce twas unnecessary. Each to their own. 


combo- half & half ginger fried chicken & chilli fried chicken    

Last but not least, we couldn't come to WIP and not sample their signature fried chook. To solve our decision-phobia issues we ordered their combo, giving us a sample of both the ginger and the chilli fried chicken. 
The chicken ticks all the boxes for amazing fried chicken, i personally preferred the chilli fried chicken, but i could do with more spice and chilli kick. 

 

complimentary pickles and kimchi 

I have issues with stalky kimchi so I skipped these. My dining buddies thought the pickles and kimchi were pretty good though.


more seating 

WIP started up as part of March into Merivale's annual celebrations, but due to popular demand, this pop-up has been extended till further notice. So hurry up and get over there to get a taste of Patrick's chicks ;) 


Till next time,

Milkteaxx

Work in Progress on Urbanspoon


                                             Say hi on social media, I only bite food! I can be found on Instagramfacebook, twitter and Google+