Archive | SE asia RSS feed for this section

Rabbithole Coffee, Hong Kong

8 Apr

I was tired of the bland-coffee-plus-lots-of-sweetened-condensed-milk I’d had in Asia so far, so I looked up a more interesting cafe when in Hong Kong. Via a google search to this thread, I heard about Rabbithole Coffee & Roasters… and what a successful morning that was.

It’s part coffee equipment showroom, part roastery, part place to drink a coffee (with just a few seats along a shared table and a few more on a back patio).

They had a few kinds of coffee beans and a few roasts of each, available as coffee made with any of their machines (as an espresso, filter drip, press coffee, syphon, cold/ice drip, or so on). I thought I’d just look around and have an espresso, but I ended up chatting with the friendly owner and he insisted I try the same beans made into coffee four different ways, on the house (thanks!), to compare– and they were quite different. Stimulating science!

I’m no coffee expert (and don’t care if I’m using the ‘wrong’ flavor adjectives), but here’s what I thought:

Their Yirgacheffe (full roast), as espresso, a bit sides-of-the-tongue tart and lemony (but not otherwise fruity, and still a bold toasty flavor).

Syphon while I watched (fainter lemon, stronger roasted and nutty flavor):

Cloth drip (not as strongly toasted, still lemony, and a taste that reminded me a bit more of wood and stayed in my mouth for a while):

Funnel / paper drip (somewhat similar to the previous drip, but still different– lighter, it’s just the lemon that stayed with me after sipping):

The aftermath…

I also had a cold drip coffee, the “Ethiopian Operation Red Cherry”, it was strong, dark, intensely like cocoa (but not chocolate) and, indeed, cherries. One of the most memorable coffees I’ve ever had!

I found Rabbithole a bit difficult to find from the address, and had almost given up, but am glad I didn’t. It’s on an upper floor of a building in a dense area, hard to see from street level and no obvious external sign I noticed, but the stairs were marked:

There was also a good and cheap Macau-style noodle shop catercorner from it.

Melon Popsicle

8 Apr

A simple and  excellent melon popsicle, in Hong Kong:

Waku Ghin tasting menu

2 Apr

For a shift of gears, I had an elaborate meal at Waku Ghin — a 10-course tasting menu heavy on seafood, with local and japanese themes, served at a small bar with just 4 other diners and 2 chefs. The head chef is Tetsuya Wakuda, best known for Tetsuya’s in Sydney, which I ate at years ago and loved. Not that I’m a celebrity chef horse– all that really matters is the food.

Meeting the seafood before the meal:

Uni, prawns, egg yolk, caviar (a completely different uni from what I’ve had before– more buttery and less briny):

The best clam I’ve ever had (bamboo clam, twice-cooked though I’m not sure in what two ways):

Teppenyaki-style wagyu steak cooked on a hot grill in front of me, with garlic crisps and wasabe. The beef was very, very good.

Tea service with gyokuro, an unusual, kelplike green tea I’d never had:

After a few other courses (some not as memorable or photogenic), petits fours served in a comfy chair in the separate “living room”, looking out over the skyline and water.

A really great meal.

Was it worth it? At this moment in time, for me, in a comfortable financial situation and after weeks away from home (almost exclusively eating delicious but simple $3 street food), yes, it was. I wouldn’t say it’s worth the price in the abstract, but it’s hard for me to ever overcome the cognitive dissonance of spending 10 (or in this case, 100) times as much on dinner as on a nice simple lunch I had earlier.  A ratio only surpassed in my life by eating a basic hot dog at Hot Doug’s the same day I ate at Alinea.

Roasted Chicken Rice, Bukit Batok 109

2 Apr

My favorite chicken rice of four variants tried this trip (this time, with roasted chicken and slices of raw but mild ginger), for a bit over $2 US, back at the Roasted Delights stall in the food court at Bukit Batok Block 109 (which is mainly the food court for the adjacent apartment building):


29 Mar

I had Rojak (lower right) for the first time, as part of a quick lunch:

Rojak is Malay for “mixture”, and I hear it varies vendor to vendor, but the one I had was a collection of fried (but still cool and crisp) fruit and crisp watery vegetables (including something that reminded me of jicama), friend dough, and an interesting spicy and sweet sauce that I think was peanuts, shrimp paste, chili, and a little sugar. I liked that it was a bit less in the sweet direction than many sweet and sour sauces. Refreshing, and a good side dish / appetizer.

Little Creatures Pale Ale

26 Mar

Singapore isn’t a place I get excited about drinking a beer, since it’s mostly mild lagers like Tiger (good with spicy food, but that’s about all I can say for it) and other similar beers. Plus, a single beer can easily cost $10-$15 US.

But holing up during a downpour over the weekend, I came across a bar with Little Creatures Pale Ale- excellent. Hops reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest, but leaning towards spruce or balsam instead of pine. My favorite Australian beer and up there in my favorite pale ales overall.

Yong Tau Fu

24 Mar

Another success: Yong Tau Fu (less than $3, in a food court at the end of a warehouse full of autobody repair shops and industrial supply stores, and in a stall with a ‘B’ health department rating, which some friends claim is the delicious sweet spot between authenticity and pathogen count):

You stock a bowl with whatever greens, fish cakes, tofu, or other ingredients you want:

Then you hand the bowl to the person behind the counter, tell them if you want soup or noodles, and they finish it for you. The person who recommended this particular stall said it were good because it’s not all pre-cooked ingredients– if you put tofu in your bowl they take it out and deep fry it for you right then, and certain vegetables they’ll also cook very briefly before tossing them in with the noodles/broth. You top it with chili sauce at the table, of course:

I didn’t recognize either of the greens I picked (something with a leaf that looked like bok choy, but without the bulb at the bottom, and some small round-leaved greens), and am not sure if the thin crispy rectangles were tofu, fish, or just dough, but this was great, and refreshing after several meals of curry-and-sauce-heavy food over the past few days.


23 Mar

I just had Laksa for the first time, for breakfast, and I think I’m in love (I do like a savory start to the day).

A spicy broth with coconut milk and chili paste, noodles, sliced fish cake, two hard-boiled eggs, fried tofu, shrimp, rice noodles, some other unidentified chewy bits that I think were seafood, and I’m sure other spices or broth ingredients I didn’t recognize:

Pepper Crab!

22 Mar

Delicious “Sri Lankan Black Pepper Crab” from Long Beach Seafood (their signature dish). No single bite was too spicy, but the peppery butter accumulated in a slow burn… I feel only a little guilty for devouring a 2lb crab myself.

Chicken Rice at Bukit Batok 109

20 Mar

(still good the second time)