Category Archive for Hong Kong + Macau
Hong Kong is a fusion foodie paradise! It was Yukiro’s first time in the city, so I wanted him to experience the sky-high harbor views, and local spins on sushi.
My Pirates and I were invited to try some of Hong Kong’s newest restaurants, which are raising the bar on an already top-class food scene. We indulged in sexy naked rolls, got high on “magic mushrooms”, and drank wine with Miffy the blow-up bunny… Intrigued? Ready to laugh? Read on, and don’t miss the hilarious final photo.
(My skull dress is by Gladnews; more pics soon.)
We began at the top: or rather, on the 29th floor, at Sushi To (Soundwill Plaza II, 1-29 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay). Celebrated local chef Harlan Goldstein opened this Japanese restaurant earlier this year.
Causeway Bay is one of my favorite shopping districts, and this is the ideal place to stop for lunch — the iconic view says it all. From our window seat, we lorded over Victoria Harbor, silver skyscrapers, and traditional red junk boats.
Harlan has an immense local following, and is a rock star among Hong Kong chefs. He opened several European restaurants in HK throughout the past decades, and this is this first foray into Japanese cuisine. (More about our meeting with him, below.)
Sushi Tō specializes in omakase, and Harlan honored us with a “La Carmina Tasting Menu!” The selection encompasses more than sushi: there are his unique takes on robatayaki, teppanyaki and more, with creative ingredients such as “magic mushrooms maki”.
(I know you’re staring at my Totoro nail art. It’s hand-painted, using bio sculpture gel, by Vancouver-based Glam Nail Studio.)
We were speechless over the starter: a salad with slow-cooked salmon, 68 degrees onsen egg, and sesame soy dressing. Yukiro marvels: “I didn’t expect sushi to taste this good outside Japan. Its probably the finest fish I ever had the pleasure of consuming, and the way they served it was subtle and yet artistic.”
And then: kampachi and salmon sashimi. Simple and ocean-fresh. We’re all still salivating over this photo.
John felt this was the perfect first introduction. “The fresh sashimi melted in our mouths as their simplicity prepared us for the fireworks of flavor in the sushi rolls that came later, including the dragon fire maki.”
We sipped on a number of cocktails; the old fashioned and pineapple-infused one were winners. John adds, “Be sure to try the “sake-tini,” a refreshing summer cocktail to round out an amazing meal.”
My friends show their enthusiasm for the burdock pickle and wasabi konbu beef roll. “The panko crusted Hiroshima oyster with black truffle miso sauce was devilishly good too,” adds John.
The non-sushi selections were just as delectable. This is Hokkaido scallop, crab meat clams, shrimp, rice and soup in a stone hot pot. Dessert was so enticing — white sesame tiramisu — that we ate it before we could take a photo.
Let’s leave the last word to Yukiro. “The way they personalized their menu just for us really showed how much they care about their customers. They should change their name to “Sushi To die for!”
For dinner, we went to the newly opened Mama San in Central. Chef Will Meyrick’s restaurant made waves in Bali, and now has a branch in Hong Kong’s hottest food district, Lan Kwai Fong.
The interior sets the mood: Indonesian tradition meets young nightlife.
The PR team gave us this picture-perfect seat, overlooking the partygoers of Lan Kwai Fong. (Address: 1/F, 46 Wyndham Street, Central). As you can see, I had a special date with me… Miffy!
Mr Skeleton describes Mama San’s menu as “an eclectic mix of items from countries ranging from China and India to Malaysia and Vietnam. Beef tartar and cassava chips helped us whet our palettes before shifting to heavier dishes like the “Dhania ghost” slow-cooked lamb shank.”
Miffy seems to be a fan of the appetizers…
… and the cocktail menu, consisting of classics with a twist. My go-to is the “Dark & Stormy”, and Mama San put a nice spin on it: rum, house ginger beer, orange bitters and lime in a paper bag.
After walking in the humid weather, we were relived to have salmon sashimi with pickled radish, edamame, organic flowers and yuzu dressing.
The southeast Asian spices stirred our senses: coconut, Thai basil, chilis, kaffir lime. Miffy dove head first into the salt-crusted barramundi fish, stuffed with lemongrass pandan and lemon basil, served with nahm jihm (Thai dipping sauce).
John says, “After all of the amazing foods we tried in Hong Kong, I would have to put Naked Gurume Gyarari (グルメ画廊) at the top. Chef Justin Chan took us on a gourmet tour of Japanese tapas-style fusion cuisine.” (28 Elgin Street, 1/F Central District, Hong Kong)
Yukiro jokes, “It was so hot outside that we wanted to go in there completely Naked. At least our stomachs were naked on the inside, but when we went out, they were more than completely dressed in the finest materials from the world of Japanese-inspired food.”
I agree with the praise! Justin and his team blew us away with dishes that look like art, and surprise the senses – yet, let the flavors do the talking. As John puts it, “The name of the establishment refers to stripping down ingredients to their bare essentials, but the creations that pleasantly assaulted our tastebuds were anything but minimalist.”
The scallops with crystalline ice leaves are a great example. I’ve never tried these glistening Okinawan leaves before, and they paired wonderfully with the seafood and sauces.
Many dishes are inspired by Chef Justin Chan’s childhood memories. He houses fried oysters in a traditional dim sum basket. Naked calls itself a “gourmet gallery” that mixes art and food; Yukiro describes the interior as “hip, with subtle inspirations from Japanese art.”
This Sexy Naked Roll left us speechless. John says: “The perfectly grilled “nigirizushi”, or seared tuna on butter-toasted rice, had us begging for more.” You must order this, when you visit.
He kept serving home runs, like a rich and satisfying lobster risotto bisque, and this succulent hamachi collar.
Yukiro says, “Again I was astonished by the taste of the sushi and we had to order some dishes twice even though we were more than filled.” John adds, “For jaded foodies who are looking for flavor combinations you’ve never tried before, Naked might just be an eye-opening (and mouthwatering) experience.”
Now we’re back in the hands of Harlan, this time at Penthouse. (Same location as Sushi To, but one floor higher.) “Entering the bright and spacious restaurant, you would be forgiven for imagining that you had stepped into a hip Manhattan studio, but the ceiling window view of Hong Kong would soon convince you otherwise,” describes John.
Harlan Goldstein opened Penthouse not long ago, and despite being a celeb chef, he’s as hands-on as it gets: we saw him working right in the kitchen, alongside his staff. Harlan took a break to sit with us, and we chatted over bourbon cocktails called “Wall St After 5pm.”
Originally from New York, Harlan’s a strong and passionate personality. He’s been in Hong Kong since the 1970s, and locals can’t get enough of his restaurants. John says, “Harlan described his vision for his restaurant as a cosmopolitan East meets West establishment.” Looking around, Penthouse was packed with “loyal local customers, in love with the no-fuss contemporary cuisine.”
We couldn’t wait to try the rustic dishes that draw upon Italian slow-cooking and handcrafted pastas. The meal begins with salad selections from the buffet. Someone couldn’t resist taking a bite…
On the right: Yukiro died over this heirloom tomato tartare with burrata cheese, and balsamic jelly. On the left: I scraped the bowl clean of black ink bomba rice, with scallops and crisp baby squid.
Penthouse has a Josper oven/grill that heats up to 500 degrees, retaining juice while adding sumptuous flavor. The Spanish Duroc Pork Ribs were tender slow-cooked for hours, and fell right off the bone. John reminds diners “not to forget the hanger steak and the well-stocked, unlimited dessert buffet.”
Yukiro says, “I am hooked on Goldstein’s creative and subtle ways of mixing ingredients. I now want to eat my way through all his other restaurants.”
For the grand finale, we had dinner on the 49th floor of our hotel, the Upper House (we’ll do a huge post about our stay soon). John sets the mood: “From the simple and elegant interior featuring natural tones and Asian touches, to the spectacular view of Victoria Harbor, the ambiance of Cafe Gray Deluxe is perfect for celebrating a special occasion.”
You know the meal is off to a good start… when you photograph the table bread! Baked with sesame seeds and served warm, with a yogurt and olive oil dish… One of the best I’ve ever been served at dinner. Yukiro speaks the truth: “We stuffed our faces with it and had four refills.”
Once again, the staff made us a special menu with a wine pairing for each dish. Cafe Gray’s cuisine is homey yet gourmet, with carefully culled ingredients. We started with lobster carpaccio, prepared with Thai chili watermelon vinagrette, and pickled green papaya. John says, “One memorable pairing was the plancha seared kingfish chimichurri with fennel and peppers, served up with a glass of 2012 Dry Riesling from Lakewood Vineyards in Finger Lakes, New York.”
The staff impressed us with their knowledge of wines, and the wines were so delicious that Yukiro says “they helped us forget all the misery in the world for a little while.” Here’s a bokeh-ful image of the French Chateau Bordeaux, a sturdy red fit for a royal. We finished with Greek yogurt mascarpone cheesecake…
… while taking in this epic sunset view of the harbor and Tsim Sha Tsui. Tip: time your dinner so that you can catch the 8pm “Symphony of Lights” show, when skyscrapers like the ICC glow with moving images. That’s your first taste of our Upper House adventures, with more soon.
The best part of fine food reviewing? Sharing meals with your friends. We always have fun — isn’t that the point? — and hope you’ll try these restaurants for yourselves.
But don’t bring Miffy along… she drinks all the wine! (“Oh Miff-ehhhh!”)
Do you consider yourself an adventurous eater? Are you as fond of Japanese food as we are?
There’s no other way to put it: the next month will be cray-cray. Here’s the huge travel news… I’m off to five countries in two continents, including Africa for the first time!
My filmmakers and I are thrilled to be shooting a travel episode in Cape Town, South Africa. And as the ambassador of a trip-planning startup, Odigo, I’ll be going all over Asia: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei and Seoul.
Want to know more, and meet me in Japan on June 25? Read on for the exciting details. (Above image by Jesse Winter Heading for our Vanity Magazine cover shoot.)
As you know, my filmmakers and I travel around the world, making shows for my series published in Business Insider. (Previous episodes are on my YouTube.) We’ve shot in the Maldives, Dubai, Budapest, Jordan and more.
This time, we’ve teamed up with Cape Town Tourism. They’re bringing us to South Africa to explore the local design, fashion, nightlife, restaurants…
… and animal safari, my very first one! Can’t wait to hang out with Basil Farrow’s lion cousins, in their natural environment. If you have any requests for Cape Town coverage, please let us know in the comments. (Pic by Meraj Chhaya)
But first, I’ll be in Tokyo, as the ambassador of Odigo! This new site introduces travelers to little-known local hotspots in Tokyo and other cities. In a nutshell, you can plan a Japan trip tailored to your interests (such as Goth culture, otaku, or temples), and Odigo will link everything up in the best possible schedule.
Exciting news: I’ll be speaking at Pecha Kucha Tokyo on the evening of Weds, June 25! I’m making a 7 min presentation (20 slides, for 20 seconds each) about my passion for Tokyo underground travel: how I got started, adventures in TV hosting, and funny stories involving mistresses and whips. It’s an honor and challenge to present at this worldwide speakers’ event. I hope you’ll stop by to watch me, it’s free.
And on Sun, June 22nd, I’ll be partying with the Harajuku kids at Heavy Pop. Join the party for visual fashion, alternative music, cake, and a drag queen performance by Yukiro’s dark persona, Die Schwarze Frau.
Then, I’ll be traveling around Asia with my photographers, capturing local spots and meeting with influencers. We’ll be in Seoul, Korea — I haven’t been here for over 10 years! Can’t wait to experience K-pop madness in the flesh.
And I’m excited to be in Taipei, Taiwan – home to some of the most bizarre theme restaurants, including cafes dedicated to Hello Kitty, Barbie and more. (Above two images via Wikicommons.)
I’ll also be hitting Hong Kong with Yukiro and John Skeleton. There are photoshoots in the works… and a lot of shopping and eating during our down-time!
(Image by Ken Yuen and Jacqueline Kwok, for Dark Beauty Magazine cover and spread).
I’m passionate about my Odigo partnership, and believe in their mission to encourage meaningful travel in Asia. I hope you’ll enjoy my upcoming adventures — to stay in the loop, you can sign up for updates on their site.
La Carmina is at your service! Do you have suggestions for places to visit in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Africa? Any must-see locations or topics to cover? Please leave a comment on my blog or Facebook letting me know, and I’ll do my best to fulfill your wishes.
I’ll do my best to update this blog during this crazy time, but for the most current coverage — including outfits and travel previews — please add my social networks below. Hugs and kisses!
Ready to ring in the New Year?
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know it’s time for my annual Year in Review. This gives me a chance to reflect on the past 12 months, and share some bonus photos with you. So let’s head straight (or gaily forward, as my friends would say) to the first half.
My site’s focus and projects grew significantly in 2013. At this point, I’m traveling at least once a month to a far-off place, usually with my film team or a TV show. It’s my passion to report first-hand on alternative cultures around the world.
Last January, I escaped the cold at Miami Art Deco Weekend. I caught up with friends and did this retro 1920s photoshoot with Mayleen G. Enjoy the Florida posts, including a Bettie Page runway show, in this category.
I’ll never tire of going to Tokyo. I continue to be in Japan several times a year for television hosting and arranging jobs. Each time, there’s something new to experience, like the David Bowie cafe, Alphonse Mucha exhibit…
… and King of the Pirates theme restaurant. Best of all, I get to have fun with my friends. (Interested in hiring us? Learn about our TV production and consulting services.)
Next, my filmmakers and I were invited to a very special place: the Maldives. We fell in love with eco-luxury resort Gili Lankanfushi, and I got to live out my Treasure Island fantasies. Here’s our Maldives video and all the sunny photos.
We also landed in the Middle East for the first time. Dubai was a sci-fi wonderland, and I loved walking through the egg-like Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi. Discover the Arabian peninsula’s grandeur in these blog posts.
There’s no need to jet to far-off places to have an adventure. I featured my home country – Canada – in a series about Montreal’s Goth culture and Kinetik Festival. One of the highlights was bagel-tasting with Aesthetic Perfection’s Daniel Graves.
It appears a lot of people read my site for the Hong Kong travel guides, which makes me happy. This city is full of energy and pop culture oddities, like cute food and giant floating ducks. (Intrigued? Then see my Hong Kong tips.)
I leave you with an image from Shinjuku’s Hanazono Shrine. Shinto worshipers write wishes on these little wood plaques (called ema), and leave them for the kami to hopefully deliver.
On that note, do you have any New Years resolutions? What do you hope to achieve or improve in 2014?
I think we can all resolve to take care of ourselves, do meaningful work, and treat our furry companions like the kings they are! I’m shooting everything with DSLR now, so you can expect more images like the one above.
Coming up next: part II of my annual reflections.
How is your week going? I’m getting ready for my upcoming trip to Asia… I’ll announce it in the next post!
When I was in Hong Kong this summer, I did a photoshoot with the same talented team that created my Dark Beauty cover look. These are published today in M.Bellish magazine, along with an interview and front page feature.
Finally, I can reveal these images to you. The concept is inspired by fairies of Chinese mythology — but with my signature kawaii twist.
My long, romantic dress is by the Japanese label “Comme l’un.” The crown and shawl are handmade.
Let me tell you — this shot took some time to achieve. Photographer Ken threw the gauzy scarves in the air, and then ran back to fire away with the camera. In some shots, you could still see his body in the frame!
We did the photoshoot with a studio setup. After, Ken added the full moon effects in the background.
Photographer and post-production: Ken Yuen
Assistant photographer: Jacqueline Kwok (noircorner)
Even my nail art matched the lavender color scheme. This is one of my favorites to date — Sanrio’s Kuromi and skulls — by Glam Nail Studio.
Jacqueline Kwok (noircorner) took behind-the-scenes images throughout the day. Close-up on the back of my dress, and purple-red curls.
Funny enough, we set up the equipment in… a dog-grooming and training studio. Hence the funny posters of pups in top hats and monocles.
What do you think of our Chinese fairy photoshoot? Thanks to M.Bellish for interviewing me about my career and style; you can read the feature and see more photos on their site.
More professional shoots to be revealed soon; can’t believe I’ll be on two magazine covers in December-January. One of these is focused on Asia travel, and the other is about alternative fashion.
If you enjoyed these images, also check out my Hong Kong street style shoot with Ken and Jacky.
For more travel and fashion articles about Hong Kong, take a look around this category. Topics include cute Causeway Bay boutiques (like Izzue Hyoma above), molecular cocktails, Alice in Wonderland bars and more. I love this city.
There is more Hong Kong coverage on the way… including a video and report from a HK cat cafe that houses several Scottish Folds.
Have you added me and Basil Farrow on Facebook yet? We promise to post more cute photos like the one above!