Thursday, 26 May 2016

Long Weekend : Korea


A photo posted by Stephanie Silv. Lui (@stephlui88) on

 Excited to be back in Korea, not only is it because I get to travel but for various reasons. It's the first time in 4 years since all my operations and hospital runs to travel alone. The best is that my friend is getting married!! I've been excited to see her walking down the aisle since she's told me the great engagement news. 

Looking forward to the food already. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Xi Yan


Most restaurants in Hong Kong are now up in old buildings you least expect it to be. Just shy off the Wan Chai Market, locates this Private Dining called Xi Yan. Because of limited seating, booking your table is essential as they DO NOT take walk-ins. 


If you're Chinese, you might recognize these preserved fruit and wine. There's apple, lychee, plum, strawberry and the usual salted citrus. 



It's normal to have some nuts or preserved vegetables already served on the table, just as you get a small bowl of nuts when you're at a pub drinking. Here, we have marinated peanuts with plum. It was interestingly sweet which makes you feel more peckish for food. 

Menu for Tonight
Prices per head can change depending on the menu you choose. 
It ranges from HKD$388/ $528/ $688. 
As for this menu it's priced at HKD$528.

There's a 10% Service Charge, HKD$18/ Person for Cover Charge (Tea) 
If you do decide on bringing your own wine, Corkage is HKD$100/ Bottle 

Menu changes biweekly, so make sure you check with the restaurant what the menu choices are within a week or two of your booking.

Egg White with Hokkaido Milk, Cordyceps Flowers and Prawn
Slow Cooked Australian Wagyu Beef with Red Wine
This Australian Wagyu Beef with Red Wine Sauce served with rice was really one of the best out of all the dishes we've had.

Longnan and Jujube Sorbet with Aloe 
A quick cleans with the Longnan and Jujube Sorbet, it really was a freshen up to the palette after the heavy red wine sauce and beef.

Steamed Grouper Fillets in Renren, Pickled Olive and Black Bean Paste 
White Fungus, Peach Resin, Pork's Lung and Walnut Almond Soup
Poached Tianjin Cabbage with Soup
I was very impressed by how it was presented however, I think a little more soup would have been nice. However, by this course, we were all very full and satisfied.

Homemade Black Garlic Ice Cream 
This Black Garlic Ice Cream did give me a bit of a scare when I saw the menu... 
One, I know a few people who actually do make black garlic at their own home in a rice cooker and even I say vampires wouldn't go near it. Would have been rude not to try and when I did, surprisingly, it didn't have that garlicky taste but instead it was sweet and didn't leave that garlic 
taste lingering for too long. 

Overall, there wasn't anything that really wowed apart form the Wagyu Beef in Red Wine sauce, however, personally, I have had better homemade ones whether it was Mom's or a friend's recipe. There was definitely enough food for everyone considering each dish was served individually after being presented in one at first. Black Garlic Ice Cream went down surprisingly well. 

At the moment, I don't think I will return to the restaurant until the menu sparks an interest. 

Xi Yan 
3/F, 83 Wan Chai Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Friday, 20 May 2016

Last of San Francisco


Our final evening in San Francisco was with some friends here at Dobbs Ferry of San Francisco. We took a cab here to Gough Street (at Hays). Our cab driver was the kindest person ever, he started to question where we were from and he then shared his story of the move from Hong Kong to San Francisco.



Each week's menu is slightly different, there's nothing better to know that chef's use what's fresh at the market. I love it even more when there's less to choose from the menu, makes life easier and when in America, long list of choices can be quite over whelming. 

Beet Salad 
Roasted red beets, strawberries, red onions, shaved fennel, arugula and sherry vinaigrette.

Goat Cheese Fondue 
Creamy goat cheese fondue, cornmeal crusted okra, pickled ramps and bulls blood micro greens. 

Duck Confit 
Crispy duck leg, braised green lentils, pearl onions, fennel and arugula salad. 


I can't remember what we had for dessert, that looks like s'mores brownies with strawberries and chocolate sauce (photo above). Something peachy, something crumbly, there's always dessert to round things up. 

Overall, I really had no complaints when there's great company and food.



Sweet Dreams San Francisco, see you again. 


Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Wine in Napa Valley


Got a big breakfast down since we're going to be having some wine in the early hours of the day. Some carbs is needed and this pancake definitely left me full enough and  ready to taste some Cali wine. 

We went for GreyLines' Deluxe Sonoma and Napa Valley Wine Country Tour, three tickets, onto the bus and off we went to drink ourselves out. Today's Forecast: 99% Chance of Wine.

From the cold breeze of San Francisco, to the hot and sunny land of Napa Valley. Interesting how the weather seemed to have changed in just a bus ride. 



I have never heard of any of the three wineries we went to, and it was my first wine tour too so wasn't sure what to expect. First thing our bus driver told us was, just remember to come back to the bus on time, or he will leave any drunkies behind. There were many laughs and a newly wedded couple from England sat in front of me had that nervous laugh instead. Needless to say, they were a lovely couple. 

Nicholson Ranch was the first destination for our first taste of Chardonnay, personally, I was not a fan of this Chardonnay, or at least I know I'm picky with white wine. When it contains high in sulphite, all I get from it is a massive headache, which was what I got from this. 





After seeing a few tourists on the same bus purchasing their share of wine in cases, we headed to the next stop, Madonna Estates. A slightly different take to the tour, instead of just looking at the vineyard, we go to have a glimpse of barrels of wine row after another.  Didn't get to see much apart from that... slightly disappointed we weren't able to see the true process of the wine making in California. 




  The three bottles above from left to right are :
Barbera | California 2012
Dolcetto | Carneros 2012 
Merlot | Carneros 2009

They are not bad as a table wine however, personally, I'm not a fan of the taste of high alcohol content. Spirits and hard liqueur are different. 



After tasting the wine from Madonna Estate, we stopped by in Yountville for a spot of lunch. Our bus driver recommended this place, Pacific Blues Cafe which most of us ended up going to. With a glorious day out, there's no questioning when it came to sitting outdoors under the shade too. 


Spicy Chicken Wings | Tri-Coloured Black Bean Nachos | Baby Spinach Salad | Chef's Cobb Salad

Some ice teas to cool down from the heat too. When I checked back on the menus, there weren't any prices on it... weird. The food was great though! The portion sizes were slightly bigger than the ones we've seen in San Francisco too. 

After lunch, and a little bit of time left before hoping back onto the bus, we went around the shops to see what there were to offer. Apart from wine related products, I managed to get myself an ice cream to cool down and hit that sweet tooth of mine. 




One of my favorites which I saw at the shop. It's the wine eye test after you've had the few glasses. After finishing the ice-cream and back on the bus again, the last vineyard we went to was Sutter Home. 

At our arrival, we were greeted by the one of the Trinchero family members who still owns and runs the winery. 



White Zinfandel, it's called white but this wine is a rose. 
Hate to say that I was pretty annoyed with the glass that wasn't polished properly...
I'm honestly haunted by by old job... but my friends say this can be a good and bad thing.
I'll just have to take their word for it.



The Family House still lived by the Trinchero Family

Heading back to San Francisco was a long journey back. 
Time to pack and leave soon. 


Friday, 13 May 2016

The Franciscan


The Franciscan is just right across from Red and White Fleet where we took the Bridge 2 Bridge Cruise. Not really knowing where we should have food after having been on a cruise and feeling slightly relieve having two feet back on the ground, we stopped in front of any restaurants we normally do, had a look at the menu and it was either a yes or no to head in or not. 

Well! Seeming that its been here for a while and they specialize in crab and seafood. Why not right? 

I love the setting there, the place is filled with classic photos of the famous and the typical american diner feel to it. We sat at the sofa seats facing the glass windows and what a view we had of the ocean. 



Nemo seems to appear alot 
As much as a drink sounded delightful, don't think it was the best idea for me after that cruise tour... Neither the three of us were that hungry to start off with, however, we need to be fed and decided to order some to share. This meal was definitely the least we've had to share or let alone eat! 

Tureens - Garlic Steamed Clams (Medium : $39.95)

Cheers with the CLAMS! 
 Fresh clams are always great to share for a starter! The garlic was just slightly heavy to our liking however, at least we weren't drinking cream. 


Iron Skillet Roast
Double Mussels and Crab ($19.95)
I can just imagine if we were travelling with a massive group of people, the sight of a few Iron Skillet Roasts would have been immaculate!  We ordered a salad too to fill our greens for our (trying to be healthy) meal. I like how simple each dish was, nothing more than the good old garlic and butter. Don't need anything else when you have very fresh seafood.

Definitely check this place out for seafood if you're around the area. 


With an incredible view, we took our time to have our food and while watching the sun set. 
We didn't even have dessert and went straight back to the hotel. 




With full belly of seafood and a good night sleep, already getting excited for Napa Valley wine tour the next day. 

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