Archive for June, 2012

Italian Dinner after Golfing at Pebble Beach – TusCA Ristorante

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

When the FoodLover and friends went to Pebble Beach in May, they stayed at Hyatt Regency Monterey and had dinner at the famous TusCA Ristorante in the hotel.

That was two months ago, so I cannot recall the taste of every single dish. I only remember that it was a great dinner. We enjoyed the company, the food and the service.

I will definitely go back to this restaurant again the next time when I go golfing in Pebble Beach again – hopefully not too far in the future.

If you want to know more about this restaurant, take a look at this review on the Monterey County Weekly.

TusCA Ristorante
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Rd, Monterey, CA 93940
Tel: +1-831-372-1234

Italian Food in Cooked Food Market – ABC Ktichen (by Lincoln)

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I had dinner with my classmates at ABC Kitchen, an Italian Restaurant in Sai Ying Pun a few weeks ago, and the quality of the foods ware excellent while the price was very reasonable. We ordered 5 soups, 4 starters, 5 main dishes, 4 desserts and one bottle on white wine, and total cost was only HK$1600.

This place is very full and you need make advance booking one week in advance otherwise you could not find a table. There are a lot of foreigners who come to this place as well.

I would strong recommend we should have dinner at this place if you all too could find time to join me in the short future.

ABC Kitchen
C F 7, 1/F Queen Street Cooked Food Market, No. 38 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Tel: +852-9278-8227

東灣私房菜 – Tang’s Kitchen 鄧家小廚

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

After golfing and beer drinking at Moraga Country Club, Wallace (the “East Bay God of Cookery”) led us to his luxurious home where Mrs. Tang (the “Goddess”) had prepared dinner for the hungry golfers.

I had to drive and could not enjoy Champagne as others did; my drink for the evening was “Sparkling Lemon Beverage”. The Goddess first served us salad and appetizers. Instead of butter or olive oil, Mrs. Tang roasted some garlic to go with the bread; that was great. Lettuce in the salad was fresh and crispy. Fried meatballs were crunchy and sausages were yummy.

Then Wallace pulled out his electric carving knife and headed to the kitchen where he professionally cut the 9-lb. roasted prime rib into inch-thick pieces.

The prime rib was juicy, tender and tasty. With seasoning including the Goddess’ home grown rosemary, there was no need to add any sauce. The blood coming out of the steak would satisfy that natural instinct of any carnivore. On the side were mushrooms and mashed potatoes. With steak like this in the East Bay, why bother waiting in line at House of Prime Rib in San Francisco?

Here’s a video clip showing how the prime rib should be carved.

Moraga Country Club

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Wallace invited the FoodLover and Francis to have a round of golf at his home course – Moraga Country Club. Before teeing off, we had lunch at the club restaurant.

Wallace and Francis ordered the Signature Burger while I had the healthier looking Club Sandwich. To balance the intake of calories, they had fruit to go with the burgers and I had French Fries. They both enjoyed the thick juicy slab of  beef and I liked the turkey and wheat bread. Of course, I finished all the French Fries.

This is typical golf club food in the U.S. and what we had was very good. Service at this club was excellent too.

Moraga Countr Club
1600 St. Andrews Drive, Moraga, CA 94556
Tel: +1-925-376-2200

View of golf course and club facilities from restaurant.

Teeing off.

If your tee shot could not reach this Par-3 green, you might find yourself standing in front of a stone wall.

Good Morning, Toronto

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The FoodLover had breakfast at Hong Kong style cafes (港式茶餐廳) every morning during his stay in Toronto. In fact, there are so many Hong Kong style cafes in the Markham area that it is hard to miss them. It is not unusual to have three or four such cafes in any one shopping plaza in this area.

Quality of food is usually comparable to that in Hong Kong at much more reasonable prices.

Revisitng Spring Villa 渝園新閣

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

The FoodLover hosted a dinner at Spring Villa 渝園新閣 again, this time for his high-school friends who live in Toronto now.

Appetizer was Roast Suckling Pig (大紅乳豬). The pig was so young there was hardly any fat between the skin and meat. It was freshly roasted so the skin was crispy. Call ahead to order if this is what you like. I like it.

Then we had two crab dishes. You usually are more likely to see pumpkin soup in Shanghainese dishes than Cantonese ones. The crab meat in the Crab Meat Dumpling in Pumpkin Soup (生拆蟹粉石榴粿) was that of Vancouver crabs which were fresh 清甜. Of course I would not compare this with Shanghai Crabs with much stronger flavor of fat (膏). Sauteed Crab Claws (油泡鮮蟹鉗肉) was great in that we did not have to deal with crab shell while enjoying large chunks of meat.

Both Stir-fried Garoupa Filet with Mushroom (珍珠菌炒班球) and Braised Vegetables with Red Fermented Beancurd (南乳炆粗齋) were well prepared traditional Cantonese dishes.

Frankly speaking, the Eight Delicacies Stuffed in Gourd Shaped Duck (八寶葫蘆鴨) initially did not look very appetizing. However, it looked and smelt great once divided and served individually. Under the crispy deep-fried “skin”, the duck was tender and other ingredients went well with the sticky rice inside.

We were almost full when the Sichuan Style Dan Dan Noodle (川味擔擔麵) was served. It was a well prepared “Northern American” style Dan Dan Noodle in that it was strongly peanut flavored. The “numbing” sensation (麻) present in authentic Dan Dan Noodle was missing here. I remember having my best bowl of Dan Dan Noodle at Jin Jiang Hotel in Chengdu about twenty years ago. My old friend Mr. Zhao took me to dinner and his wife told me that the Dan Dan Noodle there was the best in Chengdu. It was truly “numbing and spicy” 麻辣. It was just slightly spicy and the numbing effect was perfect in that it gave me this tingling sensation without taking out the feel of my taste buds. Unfortunately, most westerner do not like this sensation so Northern American restaurants only provide “spiciness” without the “numbness” in Dan Dan noodles. This noodle should be appropriately renamed as 美味擔擔面.

Like two days ago, we had the Steamed Papaya as dessert – a perfect way to conclude this joyous dinner with old friends some of whom I had not seen for 40+ years.

All in all, Spring Villa is a well run restaurant with good food and excellent service. In order to get of best of your money, call ahead to discuss your preference with the manger who will arrange a six course meal according to your taste and budget. By the way, most people these days prefer six-course dinners over eight-course dinners as they become more health conscious.

Spring Villa Chinese Cuisine 渝園新閣
7301 Woodbine Ave., Markham, ON L3R 3V7, Canada
Tel: +1-905-940-2888

抵食小炒王 – Fantasy Eatery 銀星小廚

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

After another day of golf in Toronto, Tom and Gabriel were so kind to take the FoodLover to taste “Fried Dishes” (小炒) at a popular Cantonese restaurant in Scarborough. To beat the crowd at dinner time, we arrived Fantasy Eatery 銀星小廚 around 6pm. This restaurant looked like a warehouse from the parking lot but I was relieved to see a normal restaurant after walking in.

We ordered a few traditional Cantonese dishes and started with soup of the day (燉湯). The soup that merely cost 99 cents per bowl (盅) was so good that Tom and Gabriel both asked for a second one. The only reason I didn’t have a second bowl of soup was that I didn’t want to fill up my stomach before tasting other dishes.

Fried Beef with Bitter Melon (涼瓜炒牛肉) and Stir Fried Lotus Root (南乳炒藕片) were still sizzling when delivered to our table. They tasted the same as what I had when I was a kid and that was great achievement. These days, many chefs have forgotten, or never learned, how traditional dishes SHOULD BE prepared.

The vegetable dish and the Vancouver Crab were good in that this restaurant used fresh ingredients. For  vegetable and seafood, freshness is 90% of the game.

I highly recommend Fantasy Eatery for casual meals with family and good friends.

Fantasy Eatery 銀星小廚
3320 Midland Ave, Scarborough, ON M1V 1R4, Canada
Tel: +1-416-332-0288

First Choice in Toronto – Spring Villa 渝園新閣

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

On his second day in Toronto, the FoodLover had a round of golf at the beautiful RedCrest course at Cardinal Golf Club with some old friends whom he had not seen for 40+ years. In the evening, the same group met again for dinner with family members at Spring Villa Chinese Cuisine 渝園新閣 in Markham.

One reason for choosing this restaurant is that there is absolutely no presence of MSG for dishes there. As our digestive systems were not the same as that of 40 years ago, I specifically asked the owner to prepare something suitable for the elderly.

First appetizer was Boiled Fresh Shrimp (白灼游水蝦). These shrimp were flown in from Vancouver on the same day. Freshness was the only word needed to describe them. I didn’t even want to add any soy sauce to overshadow their natural flavor.

After finishing four or five of those big fat shrimp, we took a brief break by tasting crab meat in the Baked Stuffed Crab Shell (焗釀蟹蓋). Unlike traditional Water Melon Bowls (冬瓜盅), the skin of this one had been peeled so that the soup could go into the melon from both sides. The soup was fresh and “sweet” – 鮮甜. This is a perfect soup for the summer.

Meat of the Master Stock Duck (滷水鴨) was tender with flavor of the MSG-free stock. Sauteed Fresh Clam and Scallop (油泡鮮蚌帶子) is a dish that can be found in most seafood restaurants. This one was better than most with its fresh ingredients. Even the asparagus was crispy.

Fried Lobster with Maggi Sauce (美極雙龍蝦) was 惹味. The Rice in Lobster Soup (龍蝦頭爪泡飯) was the best I had ever had. Instead of wasting the head and legs of the lobsters, the chef used them to prepare this rice dish. Unlike fried rice, it was not oily at all and tasted great.

We had fruit for dessert – Steamed Papaya with Snow Fungus and Almonds (雪耳南北杏燉木瓜). It was good (潤肺養顏) and beat the usual red bean soup by miles.

Spring Villa Chinese Cuisine 渝園新閣
7301 Woodbine Ave., Markham, ON L3R 3V7, Canada
Tel: +1-905-940-2888

Evening Snack in Toronto – Richmond Court 南園

Monday, June 11th, 2012

The FoodLover’s flight arrived Toronto Pearson International Airport around 8pm and his old friend Tom was already waiting there when he walked out the gate. It took another hour to go to the hotel and settle down. As it was too late to have a big meal, Tom suggested evening snack at the nearby Richmond Court 南園, a Hong Kong style cafe (茶餐廳).

The congee tasted OK but a little too watery – I might be asking for too much by comparing it to what I used to have in Hong Kong and Macau. Water spinach was fresh and as good as I could have anywhere else. Noodle was good and the wontons were as big as ping-pong balls. Rice noodle roll was better than most of what I could have in the San Francisco Bay area.

All in all, this is a decent place to have Hong Kong style cafe type of food any time of the day. The price is also very reasonable even comparing to that in Hong Kong.

Richmond Court Restaurant 南園餐廳
328 Hwy 7 E, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3P7, Canada
Tel: +1-905-886-7066

Before boarding the flight at SFO, the FoodLover had a tuna salad sandwich which was enough to fill his stomach for the next 10 hours.

Traditional Cantonese – Imperial 美食軒(康柯德)

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

The FoodLover and friends had a wonderful round of golf at the beautiful Boundary Oak Golf Course in Walnut Creek. Wallace the East Bay God of Cookery recommended Imperial Seafood Restaurant 美食軒海鮮酒家 in nearby Concord.

We ordered a set dinner of traditional Cantonese dishes and added a fish and sauteed frog. Every dish was still sizzling when served; I was really impressed by the 鑊氣.

The dish I liked the most was the Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetable 隆都扣肉. This obviously unhealthy dish was about 60% fat and 40% lean. While the pork belly melted in one’s mouth, it didn’t feel greasy at all. This 隆都 style pork belly tastes slightly different than the 東江  variety which is usually cooked with 梅菜. They are both good. Your doctor would probably tell you never to have this dish in your life; I think once or twice a year will not kill you and it’s worth the risk.

This dinner including soup of the day and dessert cost the four of us a total of US$120. What a bargain! This restaurant is highly recommended. The only downside is that Concord is a little bit out of the way.

Imperial Seafood Restaurant 美食軒海鮮酒家
1680-G Willow Pass Road, Concord, CA 94520
Tel: +1-925-825-1318