Shirohige’s Cream Puff @ Shimokitazawa

Who didn’t love watching Hayao Miyazaki’s most famous, most kawaii masterpiece Tonari no Totoro? OK, for the heartless folk who don’t melt inside when they see Totoro or want to give it a big hug, you should at least enjoy this – eating it 😀

So after a nice afternoon stroll in Shimokitazawa (Tokyo’s hipster district), I found my way to Shirohige’s Cream Puff Shop, slightly isolated from the rest of the vintage stores being part of the more residential side of Shimokita. IMG_5795.JPG Cuteness Overload.IMG_5797.JPG Totoro decorations abound, this is 100% a destination for Miyazaki fans.IMG_5792.JPG I started off with a berry drink.IMG_5798.JPG As a savory > sweet person I had to get this Naporitan pasta (NOT to be mixed up with Neapolitan! the Naporitan is a Japanese specialty). I’m normally not a fan of Napolitan but this turned out to be a homey, hearty dish, without green peppers that overpower the flavours of tomato and cheese (my main reason of disliking Napolitan in many cases). IMG_5811.JPG Finally … my SHIROHIGE CREAM PUFF!! This darling was not only cute but very delicious too. IMG_5801.JPG The custard cream inside was only subtly sweet – just the way I liked it and the puff itself was incredibly light – a fabulous afternoon treat! : ) IMG_5808.JPG Address: Setagaya-ku, Daita 5-3-1 東京都世田谷区代田5-3-1 1F・2F Phone: 03-5787-6221 Website : http://www.shiro-hige.com/

Ristorante Honda

It has almost been 10 years since we moved into the Gaienmae area and I have always known about Ristorante HONDA. For no reason at all, we never gave it a visit despite the fact that it is literally 2 minutes walk away from home. You know how when a place is so close that you feel like because you can go there anytime, you end up putting it off until you suddenly realize that 10 years has gone by and that life is actually very short?

BAM! So while I was taking a pre-lunch stroll one day I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to walk in, strongly compelled to finally try Ristorante Honda for the first time. Upon contemplating the idea that I can theoretically die anytime, I realized that it would be a shame if I left the world without ever tasting the food at this Michelin starred restaurant just steps away from home. *Unfortunately it was completely full even on a random tuesday so without further delay I made a reservation for the next available date, which was 2 days later!

So finally I made it here and lunch began with grissini in different flavours + a nice blood orange cocktail 😀

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For appetizer, I had this beautiful carpaccio – chef Honda incorporates Japanese flavours into his Italian dishes; the sauce used in this dish for example had hints of ume (Japanese plum). A very refreshing way to whet the appetite 🙂 ! 20140608-130438-47078647.jpg

 

My mom had this duck dish which I tried a bit of. Intensely gamey and flavourful, I was hyped up for the other dishes to come!! 20140608-130439-47079420.jpg

Before our pastas arrived we were given this palate of homemade foccacia. Loved the rosemary, dried fruit and pine nuts combo!20140608-130439-47079833.jpg

I had the uni pasta that I’ve been seeing all over articles about Ristorante Honda. I think the photo explains itself – it was divine!! Choosing the uni pasta for part of the lunch course entails paying an extra 2500 yen but this was definitely worth it.

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My mom had the ika pasta which despite not incurring any extra charges, might have actually tasted even better than my uni pasta. I don’t know if it is just because the grass is always greener on the other side or whatever crap but I literally inhaled half her plate of pasta. I heard a girl from the next table try to order the same but by that time this pasta had already run out. She got a hotaru-ika pasta instead and … that looked EVEN BETTER! OMG. I decided that I will NEED to come back to get specifically that next time. lol.20140608-130440-47080692.jpg

For our secondo piatto mom had this juicy roast pork belly dish. This sauce was perfect for dipping some of the remaining bread I had.20140608-130441-47081564.jpg

And I had this panfried fish, juxtaposed to a giant clam 😀  Good stuff.

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By this time I was quite full but there’s always room for dessert right? Specially after some camomile tea that clears my stomach in my imagination.

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My mom had this brulee mango ice bar. Literally a creamy mango ice cream bar with a crispy burnt caramlized later at the top like a creme brulee. This was yummilicious, and although it was creamy it wasn’t too rich combined with a bit of the tangy passionfruit sauce.20140608-130443-47083367.jpg

Aaand finally this was my eclair. I think I preferred the other dessert.20140608-130442-47082926.jpg

Overall outstanding cost-performance and I would definitely come back. I hate to say this but I seriously regret that I did not start coming here years ago. Time to make up for this 😀

Ristorante Honda 

Address: 2-12-35 Kita-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo

107-0061 東京都港区北青山2-12-35 小島ビル1F

Tel: 03-5414-3723

Website: www.ristorantehonda.jp 

L’Altro

While back in Hong Kong I had a casual lunch at L’Altro, a one michelin star eatery by chef Philippe Leveille, whose restaurant Miramonti L’Altro in Brescia, Italy also boasts two michelin stars. Being born in France, chef Leveille’s cuisine exhibits some distinctively French twists, both in presentation and cooking methods. 20131029-230006.jpgIndeed, the grey, white & glassy interior at L’altro already told me that it was unlikely I’d be in for some rustic, homey Italian fare. My lunch began with the standard bread basket.
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At L’altro the set lunch menu changes regularly. On this day I opted for the foie gras poêlé mainly because nothing else in the starters list really appealed to me. (Note : just checked their new menu out though, it looks pretty awesome this time. anyone want to go this week?) Presentation-wise it was really nothing to scream about but considering the fact that this lunch course costed under 400 HKD, I’d say the quality was decent. (FYI at the moment it is 268 HKD for 2 courses, 298 for 3 courses, 398 for 4 courses, with additional charges for particular dishes such as foie gras) 20131029-230043.jpg

And here is a photo of a salad that I didn’t order but just stole a bit of. Like the foie gras, it was not spectacular but it was not bad enough to give me a poor impression. In fact it was probably quite pleasant to eat, only not impressionable, not that I expected it to be. 20131029-230106.jpg

Our mains then arrived. I ordered a sea bream fillet risotto ; this was buttery rich and cheesy, and the sea bream fillets were juicy with a crispy layer of skin which I liked.

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My favourite dish of the day turned out to be the lobster pasta -mixed with sweet and succulent meat, the lobster sauce soaked perfectly into the spaghetti. The cherry tomatoes also gave the dish a tangy, appetizing kick that made me crave for more. Unfortunately this was not my main dish and I had to stick with my risotto 😡 20131029-230231.jpg

We also tried the kurobuta pork which was probably the lightest of the main courses offered that day. This came with sweet potato chips and mash which were quite nice, but by this time I was ready for DESSERT.

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We ordered their signature Gelato Miramonti. I’ve seen many reviews raving about this very gelato so I was anticipating something pretty amazing. Well, it had a nice creamy texture but I am not sure if it lived up to its rumoured awesomeness. I am not even sure how to describe it … it’s simply mediocre? :/  Maybe it was a bad day for their gelato maker? This was actually nowhere near as good as the gelato I find in random gelato shops in Italy… given that this was a signature dessert I was slightly disappointed. Maybe I’ll try it once more :p 20131029-230344.jpg

Well thank God that was actually my MOM’s dessert which I took a bite of. I had this chocolate tart which was quite standard but enjoyable nonetheless. 20131029-230409.jpgSo I’ll probably return again since the new menu looks tempting.

Thank you for reading 😀

Website : http://laltro.hk

Address:  10/F, The L. Place, 139 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

No. 5 Italian

Been obsessed with discovering restaurants in TAI HANG lately so today I will write about this lovely little pizzeria tucked away in Brown Street. I meant to write about this place a few months ago when I first tried it with my good friend K but ever since I started my first proper job I forgot about blogging … now that I have stopped working full time HERE I AM AGAIN. 😀 20120909-202829.jpg

Always jam-packed past 7:30pm, it’s definitely better if you either arrive early or make a reservation beforehand. The young chefs and waitresses seemed cheerful and enthusiastic at work so I was hyped up and ready to scoff down the entire menu!! 20120909-202754.jpgInterestingly, prices are listed in EUROs (1 Euro = 10HKD) in effort to make you believe that you are actually in Italy. lol. 20120909-202726.jpgToday’s salad was this figs & parma ham salad with parmesan cheese. OK this wasn’t a particularly innovative combo but the figs were indeed juicy and sweet. I love figs. 20120909-195953.jpg

Next came this 8 inch “spicy pepperoni pate” pizza which was supposedly one of their new ones. The waitress told us that since we were ordering other things it would be better to have an 8 inch instead of 12 inch one but SERIOUSLY THIS WAS TINY and the whole thing was devoured within seconds so never get the 8 inch one unless you want to pretend you’re on a diet. 20120909-200115.jpg

Then it was Soup time! – some of you may find this a bit salty but as my tastebuds have a relatively high threshold for sodium (uhh sodium chloride for you chem freaks) I thoroughly enjoyed this clear lobster soup. 20120909-200139.jpg

Then came this Burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes starter that I have ordered every single time since my first visit. 20120909-200155.jpg

I did not like burrata cheese before but after a while I realized that it started to grow on me when I found myself missing it at random hours of the day. And look how cute it is! Round and white. Everything round and white are cute. Round and black too before anyone calls me racist 20120909-200750.jpg

Anyway I love this creamy burrata that oozes out of its equally yummy rubbery skin, so so good with the balsamic vinegar balanced with sweet tomatoes, also given an edge with basil leaves. 20120909-200851.jpg

**Sadly though, if you check this pic of the same dish that I took on my previous visit, you’ll see that they used to use different cherry tomatoes (some red some yellow) which were a LOT sweeter and worked to made this dish phenomenal. Today’s “red tomatoes only” version was not quite as good, but still good enough to warrant an order next time, I suppose?

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So NEXT !! Shared this onion soup with my mom. This did not disappoint. The onions were cooked to perfect consistency – soft whilst retaining enough shape for a bite.The cheesy crouton added a zing that matched very nicely with the subtle sweet-smokey flavour imparted by the wine in the soup. Nommms. I wanted a portion to myself but only held back in order to reserve more tummy space for the rest of the meal.20120909-201035.jpg

Then came our second pizza (this time a 12 inch one). This was the “Johnny’s style” pizza with white truffle, parma ham, and rucola leaves. Am happy to say that although (as expected) there were no actual, visible pieces of white truffle on this pizza, the earthy, sensual aroma of truffle oil was clearly present. Crust was crisp and thin and the parma ham was fresh, too 🙂 20120909-201053.jpg

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Then we ordered the FISH STEW which consisted of a king prawn, giant scallop, cod fish, squid rings and baby clams all cooked in a tomato-based sauce topped with italian parsley. This was definitely one of tonight’s highlights. I wanted to scrape out all the sauce and drink it like an intense, extra-rich seafood soup. 20120909-202539.jpg

Next was the Uni Linguine in white truffle cream sauce. They make their own pasta here so you get that hearty homemade texture. Tonight was the second time I had this and I think I remember the uni being sweeter with more umami last time but I guess with uni there is always an element of luck as to whether or not you are getting a good batch. This is a comparatively heavy dish – not to the degree that it is sickening but I would suggest sharing it! 20120909-202551.jpg

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And I personally have a thing for vongole pasta (I don’t feel like I have tried enough at an Italian restaurant unless I have had their linguine vongole) so I had to get this. Yum!20120909-202614.jpg

The next 2 are pastas I’ve had in previous visits – this one below is the pappardelle with stewed wagyu cheek. Flavourwise it was not my favourite but the wagyu cheek was very, very tender. I think it also tasted better as I went through the dish, as much of the sauce (which in retrospect was actually pretty good) sank to the bottom. 20120909-202934.jpg

And this was the Spaghetti with tiger prawn in lobster sauce 😀 20120909-203427.jpg

Finally for dessert tonight I opted for the white chocolate fondant (not really a fondant, but it was somewhat meltier inside) with rasberry sauce and caramel ice cream. The roasted pine nuts were a pleasant touch – this made a simple yet satisfying end to my lovely meal tonight – I’ll be back for sure 😀 20120909-205125.jpgAddress: G/F, 21 Brown Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong 大坑布朗街21號地下

Tel: 2504 2111