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Showing posts from January, 2007

Village East, London

Bermondsey is between Tower Bridge and London Bridge on the south side of the river. It has always been an interesting area - the variety of restaurants, galleries and museums attest to that. A friend dragged me to an eatery on a Sunday evening - Village East - where we had a delightful dinner.

There is a homely unpretentious feel to the place. A bar fronts the restaurant (a trend that's returning to London after an absence of a decade or so), with dining tables sprawling the irregular space. The menu is Modern British - simple dishes well cooked. I had mackerels on a bed of mash and chopped choriso sausages - very nice.  My glass of prosecoe unexpectedly arrived in a wide-mouth champagne glass - the kind you used to see in B&W films!

What was enjoyable? The ambiance, the staff and the unpretentious food. It was a Sunday night and they had run out of a few ingredients - it's nice to know not everything was coming from the deep freezer.
What was not enjoyable? Nothing really.

La fille du regiment, Royal Opera

Donizetti's La fille du régiment really came to life with this fab cast - Natalie Dessay was a spritely and convincing Marie, Felicity Palmer was the fabulous Marquise, Juan Diego-Flórez was the young handsome and madly in love Tonio, topped with the fabulous Dawn French as the larger-than-life Duchesse de Crackentorp! Much effort went into the production - the opening scene was full of little touches like Marie synchronising the regiment's ironing with her coloratura. The choreography was also clever - often used to mark out the dramatic situation. All in all a good night's entertainment.

Edo de Waart conducts Debussy, Ravel and Gerswin, Hong Kong

After the pagan festivities of Christmas and New Year (can somebody stop shopping malls and lifts from playing bad interpretations of and out of tune Christmas favourites?), and just before the Hong Kong Arts Festival, it was a delight to attend a concert with a Franco-American early 20th century flavour.

The concert began with Debussy's La Mer. Edo de Waart and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra captured most of the nuances in this evocative work. The best was in the scherzo-like second movement "Jeux de vagues" - with the strings and winds rippling about. A young pianist Kirill Gerstein played the Ravel piano concerto in G with much eloquence and fluidity, accompanied by HKPO's warm sound - bringing the first half of the concert to a nice close. Gerswin's Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris formed the second half of the concert. For such a well known work, it was surprising to hear the more than occasional smudges from Gerstein and wayward tempo from t…

Nobu at InterContinental Hotel, Hong Kong

The latest Nobu restaurant is a surprisingly modest affair - not too big, dim lighting and contemporary music. It seems to follow the Nobu Berkeley formula in London where a decent size bar greets diners and no doubt will attract pre- and post- dinner drinkers.

The food? You get most of the Nobu classic dishes - Rock Shrimp Tempura with Ponzu (comparable to New York and London), scallop cerviche (refreshing as ever), and the usual Toban-Yaki and sushi menu. Fortunately there is a few dishes only available at the Hong Kong outfit - we tried the Eggplant Special (why have they not given it a more fancy name) which consists of a juicy roasted eggplant with a minced fish and prawn paste topped with a concoction of chili, garlic and roe (I think).

What was enjoyable? New dishes alongside the tried and tested classics. The eagerness of the staff - no doubt influenced by the newness of the restaurant (three week old)  and the presence of  the name sake proprietor.
What was not enjoyable? The h…

Nobu at InterContinental Hotel, Hong Kong

Hong Kong finally gets the treatment of the Nobu restaurant experience. It is quite disturbing to be told, even with the most feminine voice  "your table is booked for 6PM, there is a 15 minute grace period before it is surrendered, and the table shall be vacated by 8.15PM". That's this evening and I shall indeed find out what I can experience in 135 minutes.

Café Causette at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

A great deal of "nip and tuck" went on at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong. The significant work saw the relocation of the cafe from ground floor up to the 1st floor with good height windows all round. It also has a new name - Café Causette. It continues to serve respectable international fare - with a judicious selection of Eastern and Western classics - no doubt to the delight of well-heeled corporate diners in the vicinity.

What was enjoyable? The bright decor and fairly attentive service in a convenient location in Central.
What was not enjoyable? The loud and ostentatious diners at lunch time - I wonder whether the atmosphere improves in the afternoon when most people would return to their offices toiling way. I'd dread to think what breakfast would be like - barking bankers having their power breakfasts!

Pasar, Hong Kong

Lots of eateries in Hong Kong are tucked away above street level with signs so tiny you would know they ever existed. Pasar's newest joint on Wellington Street has a modern and simple decor serving up decent Singaporean dishes (well, that means a Singaporean interpretation of Malay, Indian, Indonesian and Chinese cooking). My bowl of Singapore Laksa and my friends' fried rice noodles were all tasty and authentic. The Pandan Cake (feather-light sponge cake perfumed with pandan leaves) rounded off a hearty meal.

What was enjoyable? The simplicity of the decor, the enthusiastic staff and lovely food.
What was not so enjoyable? Having to give instructions to friends on how to locate the restaurant which is rather complicated "up Wellington Street, pass the Japanese furniture store, go into the building and take the lift (not the stairs as they will lead you to the fire exit and kitchen of the restaurant)".