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Showing posts from February, 2007

Arbutus, London

Frith Street plays host to many eateries - from the institutional Bar Italia and Alastair Little to many other modest establishments. Arbutus is one of the more recent successes on this strip. It's decor is contemporary and clean, with only a handful of tables arranged cleverly within this challenging site.

It's recently earned Michelin star is well deserved. The menu is adventurous - offering lamb neck, pork belly, smoked eel with beetroot, and a "squid and mackerel burger" (see below). The dishes that we have sampled were all carefully presented and delicious. Even the pudding menu demonstrated much innovation - hot and cold blood oranges was very pleasing dessert to cleanse the palate.

What was enjoyable: an exciting array of dishes that were delicious without being boring.
What was not enjoyable: No bread plate (OK it's a small restaurant) and not a well amalgamated team - the French waiters were enthusiastic, professional and fun, but the English speaking one…

Il trovatore, Royal Opera

The Fat Lady strikes back! Azucena (sung by Stephanie Blythe) out sang and out sized everyone at this production of Verdi Il Trovatore. She definitely filled the Victorian theatre with her penetrative voice. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast fell into the trap of trying to out do each other - by singing louder and louder - there were unpleasant moments when I could not quite distinguish whether it was singing or shouting.
Manrico was sung by Marcelo Alverez who has gone podgy though he still possesses his dramatic tenorial ring - time to go on a diet. Leonora was sung by Catherine Naglestad who seemed to have a plum stuck in her buccal cavity - text text text! Anthony Michales-Moore was the Count di Luna - whose acting was good but intonation was wayward. And mama mia the Italian diction was awful - could hardly hear the words.
All in all, it was an unremarkable and forgettable performance.

Nadaman and Kenjo for Kaiseki and Chirashi, Hong Kong

In a feature article in this weekend's FT, Gwen Robinson discussed the ins out outs of Kaiseki (懐石料理) - a branch of Japanese cuisine - and its lack of visibility in London and continental Europe. Well, while I was in Hong Kong in January, I revisited Nadaman and had a delightful Kaiseki dinner with my family. 

The modern and stylish decoration accurately portrays its locale (Hong Kong, though it could equally be Tokyo or Osaka). Their Kaiseki dinner consisted of dishes that were varied, seasonal and delightful - all expertly executed. Some of the dishes are arranged as if for a still life painting. And it did take more than two hours to complete the courses.

However, if one was pressed for time yet wanting to have one's eyes and palate tickled, then a classic chirashi dish will also do the trick. One of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Hong Kong is Kenjo 見城 (which is on the Kowloon side). It 's  a tiny restaurant with just four tables plus a sushi bar. Every ingredien…