Tag Archives: dinner

BBITES Mini-Post #11 x Rijsttafel

1Greetings from the Netherlands!

For today’s mini-post, I want to share a special Dutch tradition with you. A Dutch-Indonesian tradition, to be more precise: rijsttafel.

Rijsttafel is pronounced, “rice tafel” and means “rice table” in English. It’s a type of dinner presentation that developed in Indonesia during the time of the Dutch colony. A rijsttafel meal consists of lots of small dishes served in a buffet style, which you choose from to go with a plate of rice.

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After World War II, when Indonesia proclaimed its independence, many Dutch, Indonesian and mixed Dutch-Indonesian families “returned” to Holland and brought the style with them.

As a result, many Dutch people from my father’s generation onwards developed a taste for this incredibly tasty, spicy and delicious type of cuisine. There are many restaurants in Holland serving rijsttafel, and to celebrate mine and my father’s visit, our friends got takeaway from one of the Hague’s very best – and oldest – rijsttafel restaurants: Toko Toet.

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Hope you enjoyed the pics, thanks for reading!

Bakker x

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The Date Dilemma

COMICLIFE bbites DATE DILEMMA  copyDating. For some it’s a habit, a common occurrence. For others, dates come by so infrequently that they inspire more dread than excitement. Whether you’re a smooth player or an awkward penguin, it can be hard to figure out just what the other person is “trying to say” by inviting you on a certain type of date.

The most common date invites are to coffee, lunch, drinks or dinner, but they all have a different vibe. So, hopeless romantics step aside: it’s time to break it down.

Page_1The Coffee
PROS: Meeting up for coffee is casual and flexible. If your date is completely deranged, annoying, boring, rude (or any other undesirable adjective), a coffee date offers a quick escape – depending how fast you can gulp down your drink. But, if things go well, it’s easy to order another round, or suggest something to go do near the coffee shop before parting ways.

CONS: Sitting hunched on a squishy couch in a crowded coffee shop isn’t exactly what you’d call romantic… as my best friend Mary put it when we discussed the issue, “There’s no chemistry after a cappuccino”.

VERDICT: An invite to coffee is a good sign but not a great one. The other person is likely scoping you out and wants to keep things as casual as possible… for now. If you’re the one inviting, try avoid the most crowded branches of coffee chains. Or, for something more original and relaxed, try a cute, quirky place like Cafe Lavande in Central.

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The Lunch

PROS: It’s a chance to get some real conversation going, without the dinner-time pressures of candlelight and other romantic couples swarming around you. It’s still casual and can even be squeezed in between work hours or appointments – giving a safe time window so that conversation won’t run dry.

CONS: If things go well, it’s still a little bit awkward to continue a date after lunch: suggesting to look for cocktails at 2pm might leave the wrong impression…

VERDICT: Congratulations! If you’ve been invited to lunch, the other person isn’t having an allergic reaction to the idea of spending more than half an hour sitting near you. Anything in the daytime is safely non-Romantic, so it’s a casual, enjoyable way to get to know someone better. A boutique cafe like Agnes B. in IFC offers fairly priced set menus in an elegant, trendy setting: casual, but with just enough polish.

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The Drinks

PROS: Going out for evening drinks is (nearly) always fun!! It’s a chance to get dressed up, look hot and feel cosmopolitan. Perusing a cocktail menu together can offer some laughs, especially if raunchy drinks names like “Sex on the Beach” and “Slippery Nipple” are the kinds of things that make you giggle. Alcohol will wash away any nervousness within a drink or two, and once buzzed and passionately discussing each other’s star signs, or the meaning of life, dinner (or more) could be in the cards.

CONS: If you can’t hold your drink, or you go bright red after a glass of wine, a drinks date could spell disaster. And, it’s important to remember that most bars and clubs like to play the music really loud so that you’ll probably spend most of your time yelling in the other person’s ear.

VERDICT: If the venue is chosen wisely – good drinks and decent music at a decent volume – then a drinks date can be great. A bar like Lotus in Soho, or Wooloomooloo’s incredible Wan Chai rooftop bar are great places to break the ice. Enjoy the evening: lights are low and champagne bubbles are going to your head, so take this perfect opportunity to flirt a little and make amazing jokes all night long.

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The Dinner
PROS: A lot can happen over the course of starters, mains and dessert… and that’s before you throw in a bottle of wine to the mix! Even if you run out of things to talk about, at least you can discuss the food! New restaurants are always popping up in HK, so a dinner date is a great way to discover new places (and people) at the same time. Like the drinks example, a chance to dress up and converse with low lighting never did anyone harm.

CONS: Dinner is the most formal date scenario out of all four, so unless you have a reasonable interest in the other person, it might not be the best fit. And, if you’re paying, it’s also the most expensive out of all four… oops! Worse, if the date is bad – then you’re looking at a minimum of about one hour before you’d be able to make a run for the hills.

VERDICT: Very few people would invite you to a one-on-one date if they weren’t interested in you (ok, excluding business dinners). Try choose a place that’s fun and interactive: sharing food is a great way to bond and show your dominance and prowess in who can snatch the good bits fastest. Try a tapas joint like Tapeo Tapas, or Mexican haunt Brick House, with taco platters and more to share.

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111111I hope you enjoyed my attempt at demystifying some of the dating dilemmas that face urbanites in the modern city. I’m definitely in the ‘awkward penguin’ category of daters, and happily live a double-life of tragic spinster and femme fatale as I stumble from one awkward encounter to the next. 🙂

If all fails, don’t be afraid to take yourself out on a date… there’s enough great food and drink in Hong Kong to keep your calendar full all year long.

Bakker x
p.s. all drawings by me! 🙂

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Click on the little pic here <—– to check out a recent event I went to in Causeway Bay: Taste of Malaysia @ Wellcome Supermarket.

BE… CURIOSO

Last night marked the grand opening of Lan Kwai Fong’s latest entry into the restaurant scene: Sal Curioso. With a sultry, dimly-lit entrance on Glenealy street, guests must climb stairs inside to reach the bar and dining area.

And so, on Tuesday night, for six Hong Kong bloggers (including myself), the mystery and curiosity began for our pre-launch dinner and tasting.

Thinking I had arrived fashionably late (10 minutes late!), I was only the second blogger to arrive. I took this opportunity to try a cocktail at the colourful mosaic bar… my choice? A Curious Paloma: made with tequila, grapefruit, lime and ginger served with basil and a cinnamon salt rim.The drinks menu is exotic to say the least. With such bizarre and intriguing names as Purple Smoke and Blood and Sand, I was a bit at loss for what to choose. In the end I scanned ingredients until I found a delicious-sounding combination of tequila, citrus fruits, ginger, cinnamon (yum!) and basil (I love herbs in drinks).

I really enjoyed this cocktail; chewing on the basil while sipping and delighting in its unique cinnamon salt rim (made in-house by crushing cinnamon sticks and unrefined salt). The tequila was rendered smooth and subtle with the drink’s ginger/citrus blend, resulting in a refreshing and flavour-packed winner.

As I try to convey in my blog’s design and content, I appreciate attention to design (from fonts, to imagery and so on…). Therefore, I must mention briefly how cool Sal Curioso‘s typography is.

Their menus are large A3 fold-outs, printed on ribbed paper. This small detail makes holding and perusing the menu a sensuous experience, as most people’s fingers will consciously or subconsciously stroke the ribs.

On the back of the drinks and food menus are black and white drawings of odd, fantastical mechanical devices. This blue-print feeling is extended to the menu text on its inner side, reminiscent of the Courier font with its monospaced lettering (each letter takes up the same area). So there you have it, some eye-candy for those design lovers out there. 🙂

Time to talk food! Above are the appetisers we got to try, both from the ‘TAPAS inspired’ section of the menu. The numbers next to menu items are a quirky, although unexplained, aspect to the menu: each item belonging to a different N/Series (e.g. N/Series 7000). Still not sure what that means… but as I’ll explain soon, part of the mystery and culture-mixing is what makes Sal Curioso so enjoyable.

7128: Albondigas
Part of the Tapas line-up, this lamb meatball dish is bursting with Moroccan flavours. The juicy, tender meatballs (cooked medium-rare; perfect) sit on “walnut braised” chickpeas. I wrote a note that the chickpeas were al dente (a term used to describe slightly firm pasta). In this case I mean that they’re on the line between soft and crunchy, adding a nice contrast (with the walnut bits) to the tender, fall-apart quality of the meat. According to the menu, this dish has “shaved foie gras”, which wasn’t particularly evident in terms of quantity, but did explain the rich, buttery flavour that made the meat (and its jus) as scrumptious as it was. I joked with the other bloggers that if I was home alone, I would lift the plate to drink the remaining jus/sauce because it was so tasty.

7004: Corn Crackers
A nice little snack with artistic dollops of green (avocado), red (tomato relish) and white (goats cheese). Slightly awkward to eat since each deep fried corn cracker twists and turns, making scooping up the sauces a bit of a challenge. Small bowls containing the sauces would make this easier… but then it probably wouldn’t look as good.

3001: Jumbalaya – Sal’s Style
Knowing this dish is “Sal’s Style” is nice… that is, if you know what Jumbalaya is to begin with! I didn’t, so relied on the menu’s description in the choice of this seafood-dominated dish. According to Wikipedia, jambalaya (not sure if the ‘u’ in the menu is a misprint?) is a Spanish/French/Creole dish: “traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice”. Here in Sal Curioso, the dish is given an (attractive) update with puffed rice crackers, celery gel (the green dollop) and popcorn amongst chorizo and seafood (squid, prawn and mussels).
5688: Sherry Marinated Tomatoes
At a glance, this looks like another (boring) caprese salad. But take a bite and be surprsied by the soft and fluffily “cheese whip” which deceptively resembles a blob of mozzarella. The added herbs and Middle Eastern-spiced tomato relish bring an interesting dimension to this would-be standard.

8023: Molasses Suckling Pig
With a sweet crispy skin, tender meat and a nice sampling of fruit and veg to stop it from getting too heavy and rich. A very nice take on a classic pork and citrus marriage .

2020: Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Although my expectations of fried, crispy chicken goodness were shattered (didn’t seem fried at all), the flavours and guilty pleasure of this chicken + corn + cream + bacon combination were more than enough to make up for it. This dish was particularly popular amongst us bloggers, with a few “have you tried the chicken yet?”‘s resounding across the table after it had been served.


2056: Biscay Marmitako
With another foreign name requiring Wikipedia research, a Biscay Marmitako basically means a fish stew from the Basque region of Spain, an area renowned for great seafood. This multicoloured plate featured mussels (very fresh), squid, seared tuna and swordfish in addition to chorizo and peppers for that distinctive Spanish touch. While the tuna was briefly seared and matched the dish perfectly, the swordfish seemed overcooked and not particularly distinctive… I believe the Marmitako would be just as successful without its addition – this would also make the dish more eco-friendly due to swordfish’s dwinndling populations.

8008: Keep Smoking
Excellent ribs. Sweet and slightly spicy, with hints of Anise… Tastes as good as it looks! One of my favourite moments of the night.

How gorgeous is the photo above? It’s a dessert freak out! With so much to try and so little room left in my stomach, it was our last stretch in the marathon of food we’d been presented with. The numbers represent my top 3 favourite from our selection…

N.1 – 6750: Peanut Butter is the Pate of my Childhood
Although Chef Chris Woodyard rightly joked with us that it’s a shame the presentation is so limited with this dish’s ingredients, its nostalgic and quirky name adds some of the glam right back. An all-round favourite dessert of the night, we learned that this pate is made painstakingly by layering layer upon layer of thin meringue and peanut butter over each other. So smooth and rich, it feels like eating a meringue/peanut icing that’s somewhere between cream and toffee-sticky. Irresistible! Rum banana compote, icecream and crunchy coffee cookie bits add variety to the peanut butter pate, although it could very easily stand on its own.

N.2 – 6700: Truffled Vanilla Rice Pudding
From the first bite, truffle aroma overwhelms your palette with this delicious rice pudding. Various textures come in to play, including ice cream, chocolate shavings, caramel, popcorn and diced apples. The more you eat, the strange and wonderful truffle+vanilla duo might become too overpowering for some: this dish can only really be shared between 2+ people despite its relatively small size… or perhaps the kitchen could cut down on the degree of truffle infusion to make the dish more sustainable after a few dozen bites?

N.3 – 6211: Potted Key Lime Pie
Served in a cute cocktail-type glass, a sweet crunchy cookie conceals a layer of ultra-smooth and authentically eggy keylime custard. It’s paired with a delicate house-made coconut sorbet and fun, pretty coconut and keylime peel shavings.

Like many of LKF’s latest concept restaurants (this being Woolly Pig Concept’s second restaurant, after Wan Chai’s Madame Sixty Ate), Sal Curioso is sleek, urban and on-trend in their design aesthetic. The decor and menu reflect the restaurant’s eclectic and multi-cultural inspirations, drawing from European, South American and Middle Eastern influences.

In a similar vein, dishes are intended to be shared between guests, just as the cooking itself borrows from cultures and shares them with the Hong Kong diner. If you’re not really into sharing food, then this probably won’t be the right fit for you. But, if you like a casual yet chic atmosphere; a cultural melting pot attitude towards food; and an imaginatively confusing whirlwind of a menu, then Sal Curioso is for you.

Bakker x