The issue most of us take when it comes to eating, is that you get only a handful of good meals out of the many you try out. Even though it's true that the more you eat the finer your scale it is going to become when it comes to know what is good and what isn't. We at WOM are thankful of the past week, when we got to sample some of the best of the early Autumn, from succulent scallops to flower dumplings and the city's latest pan-Asian delights.
We started our week visiting Kaetsu, where the seasonal scallops are flown-in direct from Hokkaido as Chef Yukio Takeda prepares them fresh in ways to accentuate their sweet taste. Guests can choose from a variety of preparation starting with the Scallop Sashimi. The prized shellfish are harvested from Hokkaido, in areas of the ocean untouched by pollution along the shorelines.
With low water temperature at sea, scallops inhabiting in this area grow bigger with more food available to them. Starting from October all the way through winter, Hokkaido scallops are succulent with meaty flesh that bears the sweet taste of the ocean. Aside from sashimi, we also enjoyed Nigiri-styled sushi with scallops as shown in the picture above. The round flesh of each scallop is sliced horizontally to create two meaty halves placed atop slightly vinegared rice.
While the mealy texture of the scallops are best showcased when served raw, "Grilled Scallop with Bonito Soy Sauce" is a dish we highly recommended at Kaetsu during the promotional period. Each guest will have a small stove on its own, where the fresh scallops are grilled on open fire while dressed and basted with a soy sauce flavoured with Japanese sake and Oyster-flavored soy sauce. Chef Takeda explained that the best way to prepare grilled scallops is to leave it ‘medium' rather than cooking it all the way through. The slightly opaque exterior of a cooked scallop will firm up while the glossy interior remains succulent and soft. The grilling will complete in mere minutes, but witnessing the scallop bubbling away intensifying its briny flavours is truly an amazing treat. The Hokkaido Scallop promotions runs until end of October.
A new cuisine has arrived the city. It's called "Thai Spa Cuisine". While it sounds rather vague on its own, we have come to a restaurant here serving exactly that. Enter "Sawasdelight " in Causeway Bay. Operated by the masterminds who also open Rasupermen at Hysan Place and formerly, the luxurious ramen joint "MIST", Sawasdelight now takes up the place where MIST used to inhabit. The owners discovered Thai Spa Cuisine on vacation at a Thai Spa hot spot, where healthy eating is encouraged with a strong focus on light flavours that focus on the ingredients' original flavours. Sauces, while important in Thai cuisine, are made in house with no preservatives.
With the shape of spring blossoms are "Flower Dumplings". The delicate blue colour of the dumpling comes from a natural colour of the Butterfly Pea, a traditional ingredient mostly used in tea infusions. These periwinkle-coloured dumplings are handmade with skillful hands to shape each into a blooming flower. The filling is made with ground almonds, chicken and a handful of preserved radish. The wrapper itself, made with Butterfly pea infusion mixed with Cassava Flour wraps the sweet and savory filling and steamed until the dumplings turn translucent. Served with coconut milk and shallots, these flower dumplings are mealy with just the right level of sweetness from the almonds.
"Green Curry with King Prawns" does not resemble anything remotely healthy at the table. Large prawns are served with germinated brown rice, known to contain more fibre and thus healthier than its whiter, more trimmed and refined white kin, the prawns are meaty and the green curry is made with a mélange of herbs and spices with just enough coconut milk to make a thin sauce.
The health component is further enhanced with the presence of "Vegetable spaghetti", or so the staff at Sawasdelight call it. These juliennes of carrots and zucchini are sweet with a crunch which match well with the light green curry sauce.
We never seem to link desserts with healthy eating, and even if we do it often leads to something rather horrendous, like baking with trans-fat-laden hydrogenated fat. Sawasdelight's owners steered clear from that, instead, recognized sometimes we need a little something sweet, and even only for the health on the mind. The "Water Chestnut' is just the delight we wanted. Served in a flower-shaped glass bowl, the dessert is composed of marbles of water chestnut coated with beet-flavoured cassava flour and cooked until gelatinous. The addition of coconut milk, coconut sorbet and palm seeds and shreds of jackfruit brings harmony of textures and a tinge of sweetness that reminds us that healthy eating need not to be repulsive to the palate.
Next we lunched under the sun at the newly opened Pan-Asian restaurant "Tamarind" at the Sun Hung Kai Centre in Wanchai. Inheriting a wonderful open-air terrace overlooking the city's landscape, it is as tempting to sit outside as it is settling down on comfortable sofas indoors. Menu is decidedly pan-Asian from Indian to Thai to Indonesian, we set our eyes on the signatures - the "Tamarind Fish' is as tempting as it looks on the menu. Black Cod is known for its fatty succulent meat, and to this the chefs add tamarind paste, fish sauce and a pinch of sugar in the marinade of the fish before it is grilled to perfection and served with a garlic rice. The cod bears a creamy texture, yet not nearly as heavy with the sharpness contributed by the sweet and tart marinade of tamarind, which lends a fruity element as well.
Another signature we sampled is the "Crispy Beef Brisket with Lemongrass Curry". Pieces of beef brisket are first braised with a handful of aromatics before being deep-fried until crispy. The lemongrass curry is thick and creamy with quite a strong punch of aroma from ginger and lemongrass. The best way enjoy this dish is to dip the pieces of brisket into the creamy curry and serve alongside crisp French bread on the side.