Saturday, November 28, 2015

Market Grill: Lobster Rolls and more

The fad of lobster rolls are all but almost over. But there are still great tasting, and there are still a few places who serve a value for money roll. One is Pince and Pints and the other The Market Grill.

I dropped by after not visiting for a while, and found the place to be just as cozy as my last visit.

The grill still offers great steaks...we saw the grillmaster hammering out several during our visit there, and they all looked great...and one of the advantages (disadvantages?) of sitting next to the display grill is the smells and sizzles can be experience in close quarters...mouth watering.

We sampled the Lobster Roll...

Served with fries, and a small salad. The brioche bun is buttered, and toasted on the grill, and a (we understand) 500g of lobster, boiled, deshelled, coated with some lovely herbed mayo pommery sauce. The lobster is cold in the hot bun, and the contrast creates a wonderful sensation in the mouth.

We found the lobster tail to be very chunky but a bit on the tough side. And the pincer meat to be extremely soft and tender. $45 for a serving is quite good value for money, we think.

We also tried the burger

The Chef's original recipe chargrilled burger is with 200g of chuck patty and served with creamed Portobello mushroom, bacon, romaine lettuce. The bun is the typical sesame seed bun. Very juicy, thick patty, with strong beefy flavours. The bacon was crisp and full flavoured. Very nice burger. The 200g patty version we had was $34, and they offer a smaller 150g patty version for $25.

Overall a nice grill. They also have steaks, as we mentioned, lamb and fish. 

The Market Grill
208 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068642
Monday - Saturday
Lunch 1130am - 230pm
Dinner 6pm - 10pm
Closed on Sunday
No reservations policy

Saturday, November 14, 2015

18 Grams Roastery Lab – Wan Chai, Hong Kong

There used to be a few places I usually go to for espresso in Hong Kong. When they are good, they are exceptional, and way better than those in Singapore. We found one near where we were staying for Watches & Wonders, and thought it worthy of a writeup.

Curious name, a friend who is not an espresso geek asked. Not at all, 18 refers to the amount of beans in grams one usually measures for a standard pull of double espresso. Of course, this differs from machine to machine, from bean and roast to the other. For eg, on my Elektra Leva a Casa, on my home roasts, I typically pack 20g of powder into its portafilter. But 18g remains a text book standard for a doppio.

Roastery Lab also is interesting. They do have traditional classical espresso and coffee, including slow cold drip, but also some experimental ones. Like Nitro Espresso.

Yes, this is not so novel anymore...Chye Seng Huat Papa Palheta makes one. But it is still pretty avant garde. Looks like a dark beer, served from a tap. But smells like coffee, and taste like coffee. Nitro coffee is slightly efferverscent. The coffee is treated with high pressure nitrogen, chilled in a keg and served on a draught with a foamy head like a Guiness. The mouth feel is rich, creamy, and seem a touch sweet and less acidic than cold brew. 

And a bit more experimental, perhaps, but a very simple sparkling espresso..

Cream soda in a glass with ice, and over it, pour a double shot of espresso. I found this a much nicer drink than the Nitro. All the espresso elements are still there, and the bubblies from the cream soda make a nice mouth feel. Smooth, with the full taste of the espresso showing. First time I have come across a drink like this, but one which has a low barrier to entry as this can even be attempted at home. 

We also had the traditional espresso...a doppio ristretto

Quite excellent. Note the beautiful mottling on the crema. The crema was thick and rich. The ristretto was very viscous, powerful on the nose as it is on the palate. Beautiful long finish. Excellent cup.

I also tried the picolo latte, actually I had this as my first cup, as I always try to avoid disappointment with a new place. As milk often is a good mask for the sins of the barista.

Superb cup. Just the right amount of foamed milk adding the requisite richness and body to the espresso. This gave me the confidence that the barista knows what she is doing to order the ristretto above.

I also tried a machiatto.

Perfectly executed. The touch of milky foam on the espresso was just right. Nice.

I also had breakfast there, and found the Eggs Benedict with ham to be quite superb.

Hollandaise sauce was good, and the eggs poached to perfection. Probably poached sous vide. Comes with a nice side of fruits. 

Upstairs the very small cafe, it sits perhaps 8 pax max downstairs, is the roaster and a small dining area.

Very nice espresso place. Worth a visit every time in Hong Kong. Centrally located just a few minutes walk from either Admiralty or Wanchai MTR station.

18 Grams Roastery Lab
10 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Tel: +852 2520 5100
Fax: +852 2345 7367
Sunday-Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Friday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Day Before Public Holiday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Old School Tim Sum: Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong

A visit to an old school tim sum (dimsum) place in Hong Kong is quite an unusual experience for the uninitiated. Service in the traditional Western or Japanese construct is almost non-existant, and what there is is efficient rather than polite. With a touch of tension all built in.

First when one arrives at the restaurant, in this case Lin Heung Tea House in Central Hong Kong.

One makes one's way into the restaurant...not as easy as it sounds, as it is likely to be very crowded. The restaurant seats 300 per sitting in about 50 tables. And it is often very crowded. The first task at hand is to find a table. The wait staff will not help you on this other than the cursory "there's a place there". Most of the waiters are old men, who are as grumpy and curt in their responses as can be.

Once one finds a table, and it is mandatory to share a table. Regulars already know this, as well as those who have read their guide books, and they will make way for one to sit...small gestures like a small shift of the chair to allow one to slide over. A nod of acknowledgement.

Once a table/seat is obtained, one needs to capture the attention of one of the waiters. The waiter will then take one's order for tea, and disappear. When he re-appears, he will hand over two cups (if one is alone) or the one cup one per pax, a basin for rinsing cutlery and a tally card. If one is solo, the larger of the two cups is used for tea making, and the smaller one for drinking. One steeps tea in the larger cup and pour it into to the smaller one to drink. If one's party is more than self, then a pot is served instead of the larger cup. The rinsing bowl is filled with hot water, and one is expected to rinse the cups, chopsticks and spoon in it to cleanse them.

The food is served on traditional food trolleys. The idea is for the trolleys to make its way around the tables and the diners choose when the trolley arrives. However, the place is usually so crowded that the trolley almost never makes its round. Diners rush to the trolleys as they exit the kitchen and wave the tally card to the trolley lady. She will take the card, puts her stamp on it and serve one the dish ordered.

And the food?

It is rather good. Portion size is quite large. The style of dim sum is more robust and basic rather than Michelin starred (like Tim Ho Wan). This is not fine cuisine. This is basic, hearty food. Well done. And quite delicious.

The experience of eating is part of the fun. It is rather hectic, but should be experienced at least once. For me, I try to get a chance every visit to Hong Kong.

Lin Heung Tea House
60-164 Wellington Street
corner of Aberdeen Street, in Central, Hong Kong.
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