Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at the Royal Opera

This production of Die Meistersinger was certainly showing its age. A friend remarked that the MDF was looking tired and the tree seemed to have diminished in stature (was that the right tree from the original production?) Then again Sir Antonio Pappano delivered the overture with his typical Wagnerian grandeur.
John Tomlinson was a weighty Pogner. Wolfgang Koch was a light weight Hans Sachs. Toby Spence (clearly recovered from his cold since Eugene Onegin at the ENO) was on superb form as David. Eva, oh dear Eva. Emma Bell lost her voice (cold presumably), her understudy also lost hers that morning so the Royal Opera had to wing someone from Vienna (nobody caught her name, so if you did please let me know) - who sang the role superbly - even in the Act 3 quintet. The chorus was also fantastic - that big fat Wagnerian sound lifted the roof towards the end.
Time for a new production within this decade I think.

Delaunay in Covent Garden

It is ridiculous to say "The Wolseley is too far away." But it's true if your abode is east of Leicester Square. So could Delaunay plug that "continental European brasserie" gap in Covent Garden?


Delaunay opened its doors just before Christmas and I was able to try it out within the first week. However, as it was "opening week" I thought I'd return when it is settled down. So I went there for Sunday Lunch with a friend (before Die Meistersinger at the Royal opera).


My warm salad of mushrooms was seasonal and wonderfully cooked and beautifully presented. There was no fuss - just well cooked high quality ingredients.

Wiener Schnitzel was not bad either - not quite as good as Landtmann in Vienna, but certainly crisp on the outside and tasty on the inside.

Well, it was all in all a positive experience and perhaps this could become my regular.

Inakaya on 101st Floor in Hong Kong

So could Inakaya on Sky 101 be the highest Japanese restaurant on earth right now? The express lift didn't take long but my ears popped a few times. I was taken there for a lunch. My host, as usual, left the executive decision to the chef. So we had an omakase at the sushi counter. The fish was great, very fresh, the seaweed salad was particularly delicious with very interesting textures. Everything was very good. Must go back to try their robatayaki next time.




Sunday, 8 January 2012

A couple of days in London

A friend recently asked me about where to go and eat in London for a long weekend. There is so much one can do in London - so it's very hard to be prescriptive. Still, here is a suggested on-foot itinerary if one had a couple of days in London:


Day 1: Covent Garden / Soho

Morning: For a real change, eat breakfast at Dishoom where everything has an Indian twist. Also a fairly quiet place to start the day. Afterwards, explore the boutiques on Neal Street. Walk down to Covent Garden to enjoy the buzz all around. Remember to visit the Apple Store - nicely slotted into a period building.

Lunch: A light Thai lunch at Busaba on Floral Street. Their Phad Thai is not half bad.

Afternoon: Walk up to Soho (but avoid Leicester Sq as it's still a building site as of Jan 2012), and explore the unusual shops around Old Compton St and Berwick St. Here are a few suggestions for afternoon tea and coffee: Flat White on Berwick St for a gritty feel. Princi has good Italian coffee and pastry, but could be crowded. The Hidden Tea Room in Soho serves up traditional scones, cakes and tea - but it's hidden!

Evening: How about an early evening cocktail at the Covent Garden Hotel?


Day 2: Mayfair / St James's

Morning: Get up and head over to Nopi for breakfast where one is treated to delightful bakeries (of Ottolenghi fame) and other Middle-Eastern inspired delicacies. Cross Regent Street and meander through the streets of Mayfair and window shop along Bond Street, New Bond Street and numerous Victorian arcades. Don't miss Asprey - even if you can't afford their diamonds.

Lunch: Try the delightful Cecconi's behind the Royal Academy of Art, or Wild Honey on St George Street.

Afternoon: Perhaps a post-lunch stroll around Berkeley Square. Pop by Dover Street Market to check out some well-curated fashion goodies. Or peep at the numerous art galleries dotted around Mayfair. For a Continental Kaffee und Kuchen, go to Wolseley on Piccadilly. You don't need a reservation in the anterooms. If Fortnum & Mason is still open, pick up some Royal Blend tea leaves and champagne marmalade.

Evening: How about a drink at the National Portrait Gallery Portrait Restaurant where one can get an unexpected view of London?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Revisiting Lung King Heen in Hong Kong

Yes, a Chinese restaurant that has three Michelin stars. Yes, I booked the table 2 months in advance. Yes, I had to confirm the table TWICE. The service was pretty good all the way through. The maitre d' was helpful yet not intrusive (hate being over-serviced). The Imperial Lobster Dumpling (below) was exquisite as ever - a beautiful prawn on top, crab meat wrapped around a filet of lobster.
The roast suckling pig was very good - comparable to Summer Palace at the Island Shangri-La. That melt-in-the-mouth feeling was unmistakable.
And for a real change, deepfried frog legs in a salt and pepper batter. Beautifully crunchy outside, very succulent inside.
My only quibble was that the tea service was a bit slow. We drank tea by the gallon and we had to remind the waiters to keep pouring several times. Apart from that, it was nice to return to this superb restaurant.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year Dinner at Nadaman in Hong Kong

Japanese New Year falls in January and most Japanese restaurants will offer a celebratory menu to mark the occasion. I went to Nadaman to try their New Year kaiseki dinner. As usual, the presentation was exquisite - colours, textures and crockery all worked in harmony.