Mexican [Hong Kong]
First, see PhilD's write-up on Brick House (I've not been yet): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852102
Sai Ying Pun (short walk up from Sheung Wan MTR) has a small american/mexican taqueria of sorts called Taco Chaca. I love when people do this sort of thing -- small space with straight-up-and-down menu of on-the-run food, with cold beer in the fridge.
I'll work my way through the menu over time but first visit (last Sat afternoon) tried three taco styles: pork, chicken and fish (skipped the beef). I was really wanting to love this place, and their food was light/tasty, but the (soft) tacos were so wet ... dripping with so much watery liquid. I would have thought the one enemy of this food was liquid so the mastery was drain the salsa to keep dry, layer tasty fillings that generally hold together while you eat it. Server said fish was their most popular and, not surprisingly, it was by far the least liquid.
An American friend has eaten there a couple of times and said she didn't notice it gushing in liquid. Perhaps it was a bad batch I had so will reserve judgement until I return.
Obviously the victim of any food fad (Mexican in HK!), I headed to Four Seasons for set menu lunch today with visiting chef from same hotel in Mexico. Given the venue, was not particularly overpriced (HK$390+), and I thought it was great. The food was surprisingly NOT over-thought, it was simple, interesting and tasty.
(below is my guess on ingredients)
Ceviche scallops, outer shell of tomato, red onion, cucumber tossed in dressing of avocado, lime, cilantro, spring onion, green chilli, served in butter lettuce cups and sprinkled with smoked red chilli threads
Grouper gently grilled served red skin side up on cooked soupy salsa (what do you call this?) with capers, red/yellow peppers, soft sweet onion, garnished with corn shoots, grilled baby corn, grilled shisito pepper and lime wedge.
Vanilla sponge cake soaked in light/runny condensed milk with light vanilla-icecream-like frosting. Discs of raspberry gel (agar agar) with purple basil leaf, fresh raspberries with gold leaf, freeze dried raspberries.
TEQUILA TASTING (costs extra)
Three tequila styles served with two non-alco refreshers (light sweet-ish virgin mary, guava/basil/lime).
Salad could make at home but was highly refined in the way it was assembled (all in the execution, and sorry my pic doesn't do it justice -- was soooo nice). Main course was tasty, well balanced and perfectly executed - mopped the plate with my bread. I generally hate dessert, only tasted it because it was included, but ended up eating it all!! I had a late and large breakfast so it wasn't that I was hungry for lunch, it was just nice food.
Last visiting chef I experienced was El Quim de la Boqueria at 1/5 on Thursday night and it sucked. I was so excited but that cannot be the food he serves in Barcelona. A complete disaster (all 10 people I went with agreed, apart from a couple of dishes which were good). So today's lunch was a redemption for the visiting chef (and at Four Seasons, of all places).
OK here is the report of our dinner at the Four Season Mexican pop-up. Jorge Gonzalez is over from the FS in Mexico City and was offering a changing set lunch or ALC dinner. We started in the bar with a couple special cocktails, I had a Tequila based old fashioned and my wife tried a chilli infused concoction - all very good.
The menu had three sappertiser plates each with three dishes. We chose:
Guacamole - came free
Antojito Azteca: Yellow Fin Tuna Cerviche (radishes, pea tendrils, shallots, and serrano chilli), Braised Oxtail & Plantain Sopes (Avocado, Spicy Pickled Red Onions), and Pork Confit Tacos (avocado sauce, onion, cilantro) - $195 for all three
Antojito Huichol: Lobster Cerviche (Cucumber, Red Onion, Tomato Cilantro, Huichol Sauce), Pickled Pork Feet Tostados (Salsa Roja, Cabbage Salad), Beef Tongue Tacos (Onion-Cilantro-Tomatillo Salsa, Coma Salt) - $215
Caribbean Grouper Veracruz - Chili Güero, Fried Zucchini Flowers, Green Asparagus ($325).
Beef Arrachera - Oaxaca Black Mole Sause, Toasted Sesame, and Grilled Zucchini ($320). Jorge told us he got the mole recipe from an old lady at one of the Mexico City markets.
I washed this down with an organic tequila tasting tray with Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and Sangrita. Three interesting tequilas with a nice salsa to complement them. But to be honest I am still not a convert.
Overall it was a very good meal, great tasting food, but not to chili hot. Now that got us thinking: was this toned down for the local tastes; or is it toned down for the refined four seasons crowd; or is mexican food spiced up for the tex-mex tastes. Good to meet the chef at the end of the meal, he was really friendly and was genuinely happy people were enjoying the food. A great guest chef, hope to try more like this.
Next week Chicha, the new Peruvian that opens today. Chatted to the guys setting it up yesterday and they have been doing lots of research. It took them a long time to set up the supply chain in order to get the right ingredients. Hopefully the promise is fulfilled. The team opening it are also behind Tapeo which I find to be a reasonable Tapas place so fingers crossed.
Interesting!! Every time Oaxacan Black Mole is mentioned, there's always a story or tale that linked to it!!
The one that super chef Rick Bayless served in his restaurants and the 'White House'' involves 20 ingredients and took him '17' years of talking to 'old ladies' and traveling to Mexico to perfect!! But man!! Was it gooood! ( @ Frontera Chicago)
There seems to be a bit of a fad with Mexican in Hong Kong, doesn't it? Actually went to Mr. Taco Truck in the alley behind Wellington Street, in Central. Don't be put off by the name and the decor. It is some fine Mexican street fare. I know what I'm talking about. I spent the first 16 years of my life in Mexico.
Or could do (sorry, it is Friday afternoon) a Japanese taco with:
- Hijiki (instead of lettuce)
- Natto (instead of refried beans)
- Tuna sashimi (instead of pork)
- Pickled shisito peppers (instead of Jalapeño)
- Mitsuba (instead of cilantro)
- Wasabi dressing (instead of hot sauce)
Ugh, my stomach just flipped...
re: Uncle Yabai
On UY's rec above, at lunchtime I headed over to Mr. Taco Truck in Central. Googled the address which hit Openrice. Some people saying it's the worst, some people saying it's the best, some people saying it's small serves and such a rip off. Anyway, this is why CH is so much more reliable than OR as UY is right on the money.
Had fish taco, beef taco, quesa taco (my fav), chicken quesadilla, enchilada combo (w/ rice & beans), side of guac, side of jalapenos, side of refried beans and two beers, all for under HK$300 (two people)....in Central, that's pretty good. Without the beers it would have been ~$200 (but that's a lot of food).
This is the clean/simple and well assembled food I was looking for. No watery liquid spilling everywhere, nothing drowned in over-the-top sauce. Relies on the basic ingredients and does so with confidence.
My friend's enchilada wasn't great -- tasted floury to me and overall not very inspiring. This was in stark contrast to all the tacos and quesadilla I ordered -- not one of those was disappointing. And if you're looking for American-sized portions, fuggedaboutit. A taco serve is one beautiful taco, rather that than a stack of bad food - just order lots of things as it doesn't add up to that much.
One down note: it was hot & muggy outside and their aircon was barely taking the edge off. Perhaps a tactic to either stop you lingering or make you drink more beer. No major drama though.
Went Mr. Taco Truck in Central again this week. It's really simple, really good food.
Tried the iced Horchata, slightly sweetened rice milk with hint of cinnamon. Nice!
Previously wasn't impressed with the enchilada combo so stuck to the tacos and quesadilla this time - soooo good!! Thought the beef was a little beefy so my favourites still pork, chicken, fish.
Total bill for two (inc. horchata): HK$139
Next time I'll venture into the buritto section.
Went there last night as Brick House was rammed (must have the license). One question: do you need to specify "spicy" when you order? Most of our food was pretty bland and wasn't especially memorable. So is there a technique to order. The seves are miniscule, yes each is wiuite cheap but you need to order a fair selection to fill up. On the basis of this visit my vote still goes to Brick House, more expensive but far more substance to the food (I din't really care about its derivation).