Tag Archives: hollywood road

Welcome to the Circus!

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Burger Circus is located at 22 Hollywood Rd.

If you’re a Central dweller or LKF crawler, you’re sure to have already walked past – and peeked into – Burger Circus.
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Isn’t it cute?!?! In the style of a classic American diner, Burger Circus serves exactly what you’d expect: burgers, milkshakes and fries.
3There’s fun details everywhere, from the menu holders to the staff’s old-school aprons and hats. Guests can choose between booth seating, or a spot at the bar.
4My friend and I ended up at the bar, and started with two shakes while waiting for our burgers.

The service is friendly and quick, so we didn’t wait for long. But long enough to both agree that the shakes were really good. There’s also some alcoholic milkshakes on the menu, but I’ll have to try that next time…

Topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries, they were scrumptious and creamy 🙂
5The burgers, as you can see, are served in little paper boxes. I would advise to eat the burger using the box as a holder, because they are dripping with fabulous grease. Also, the bread is very fluffy and the whole thing is huge and quite difficult to eat by biting into it (without displacing your jaw, I mean).6Of course, to get the right photos, I took mine out of the box. Conclusion? –> Burger Circus is probably not the best place for a first date, unless you’re prepared to get really messy and have bits of food dangling out of your mouth 😀

7The menu has quite a few options, including chicken, and tuna burgers. I went for the Whole Show burger: beef patty, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled beetroot and spicy mayonnaise.

It took a few bites to get into the spicy mayo in the middle, but boy was it worth the wait! A great combination in my opinion and, as a huge fan of beetroot, it was refreshing to see the underrated veggie make an appearance.

Overall the burger was really satisfying and hit the spot. Definitely a fan of the generous amounts of melted cheese oozing out of the bun. YUM.

Compared to a burger (similar price) I tried at Wan Chai’s Butcher Club a couple months ago, I felt like this one was better. And the awesome décor is just the cherry on the top!8On the other hand, while the sauce on the Circus Fries was very tasty (onion, cheese, and “circus sauce” reminiscent of “animal style” sauce from In-N-Out), I thought the fries weren’t thin or crispy enough to really blow us away.

After dinner, someone told me I should have tried the onion rings, which are great apparently – so now I’m living in regret.
9The whole experience was fun and fast – just like a simple burger joint should be. The convenience of the location, the irresistible design and feel-good burgers will have me back. Oh yeah, and it’s open till midnight EVERY DAY.

Bakker x

p.s. UPDATE (19/02/15) remember my post on the HK Beer Company? Well, Burger Circus stocks 4 of their drafts – so if you’re in Central and want to kill two birds with one stone, check them out! 🙂

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FU LU SHOU

1Living in Hong Kong is never short of surprises. Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a media preview for FU LU SHOU, a new bar-slash-resto perched on a hidden Hollywood Road balcony.2After locating 31 Hollywood Road (opposite the Soho escalator), and one old-school lift, we arrived to Fu Lu Shou – which despite being in soft-opening phase – got more than respectably busy during the evening.3Apart from its local-inspired drinks (like the rum-based Typhoon No.8 cocktail) and fairly traditional Cantonese fare, Fu Lu Shou‘s main pulls are its cosy balcony and fantastic street-art mural.4Canto touches are everywhere, and we dig it! So, get ready as we dig into my favourites of the evening…5JOH SUN: What better name for this spicy punch of a cocktail, than Joh Sun, which means ‘good morning’. With tropical notes of ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, lemon and chilli, this vodka-based concoction is the stuff of dreams.6Next was a series of entrees, all of which charmed us bloggers and writers. In particular, the giant siu mai – which is exactly what it sounds like. The texture and flavours were more intense and delicate than a regular sized dumpling, and we were glad – because this nuclear-looking monstrosity had the potential of falling flat. It didn’t 🙂

Next, we lept into their honey-covered deep fried shrimp. Great combination: simple, sweet and succulent. And a nice change from the stereotypical sweet-and-sour sauce combo.7We’ll skip over the main dishes that were sampled, because in our opinion they still need some fine-tuning with intensity of flavouring (fair enough, for a soft-opening phase!), but we will share the awesome deep fried tofu with you.

Every tofu-lover’s fantasy, this perfect bar snack combines the soft and bland, with crispy bursts of garlic, chili and herbs. Encased in a deep fried shell? Bring it on!!!!!!

Bakker x

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Dessert Wars: Three Monkeys

1Welcome to Volume 1 of Dessert Wars, where I face-off one dessert against another at hot spots around town.

Three Monkeys is my first stop.2The cosy Hollywood Road haunt primarily serves yakitori (grilled skewers), as well as spirits and chic cocktails – which makes this spot great not only for dinner but late night snacks as well.3After a slew of savoury skewers and a couple of cocktails, it was time to dig into dessert. And the obvious choice for this edition of Dessert Wars was the Warabi-Mochi and Affogato.4Both desserts have one thing in common: they are simple and well-known, making it very important to serve it well.

5The night’s first contender, the Affogato, was done just right. Made-to-order, it was served at an optimally hot temperature, gently melting the hazelnut-like scoop of gelato within. Any coffee lover’s ideal dessert but still a little creativity here could have spiced things up a great deal (e.g. some kind of added shavings or sprinkles?).6The winner for me was the Warabi-Mochi, although my friends both preferred the Affogato. Perhaps it was a matter of preference, or acquired taste, but trust me when I say: anyone who likes mochi will be delighted with this little bowl of heaven.

7Made with fern leaf flour (instead of regular mochi which is made with rice flour) warabimochi boasts an incredibly smooth and slippery texture. Biting through, however, the warabimochi retains a richness and elasticity that merges into the various condiments added on top.

These include kinako powder, and matcha powder (green tea) as well as a hearty dollop of sweet red beans in the centre. It’s a Japanese flavour combo that’s classic and well-loved.

Elegant, simple and delicious! A clear winner…8Bakker x

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HK’s Best Secret Drinks – Part 2: Blue Butcher

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WELCOME to part 2 of a special BBITES series :) where I’ll take you through three different bars in Hong Kong featuring secret drinks that are off-menu.

Part 1 was about the place you didn’t know yet: BARSMITH

 Part 2 is about a bar you do know: the bar of popular restaurant Blue Butcher

 AND

 Part 3 will be an EPIC SURPRISE

So without further ado, here comes Part 2…

2Over the past couple of years Blue Butcher has sunken its teeth into the Central dining scene, and many menu items (think Apple Pie Moonshine and the Bone Marrow) have  garnered a lot of fans – I know I’m one!4So when I asked what was off-menu when it came to drinks, a quick answer was at hand: the Basil Smash cocktail. I’m a sucker for herbs so I immediately thought: bring it on.5As its name suggests, basil is the superstar ingredient of this refreshing and chic cocktail. I mean, look how cool those basil leaves look, poking out from the glass?!6And the gorgeous green colour? Well that comes from… you guessed it… smashed basil leaves which are run through a titillating combination of vodka, gin, lemon juice, gomme syrup (sweet and smooth) and orange bitters.7Now I’m a bit biased because not only do I love herbs, I love citrus flavours too, so this drink was the perfect fit: hitting the palate with an almost spicy zing of basil freshness, and following with a discreet sweet and sour medley. All over a single large ice cube… classy.8So, the next time you swing by Blue Butcher, and you’re craving something that will cut through the heavy food with style, just remember this post and ask for a Basil Smash.

Yum.

Bakker x

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Keeping It Real at Quinary

The first time I tried to go to Quinary (located at 56-58 Hollywood Road), it was so packed that my friends and I moved on to another bar.

The Early Grey Caviar Martini (courtesy of on.cc)

Last Wednesday, I finally succeeded in joining all those cool people, who were happily sipping on cocktails that I had previously missed out on.

Of course, I was there with the strangest person in the room, who caught me off guard by blowing the foam of his Earl Grey Caviar Martini all over my unsuspecting face.

After a casual chat with Antonio Lai, resident “mixologist” (more on this later), I hungrily stored away his business card in order to arrange an interview for later in the week.

During the course of our interview, I learned that Quinary’s concoctions aim to be multisensory, giving a whole new meaning to my foamy experience.

Quinary’s got that clean old-school vibe that has become popular in Hong Kong’s bar and restaurant scene. But, unlike some others, it’s more than just appearances, because Quinary has some seriously cool, legitimate equipment to back up their concept. To find out what that is, and more, keep reading!

Bakker’s Bites (BBITES): What is the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?

Antonio Lai (A.L.): Honestly for me, more or less, it’s the same. It’s only a term designed to give the reader, or the customer a better impression. Mixologist sounds more professional but at the end of the day, what they have to do – to ensure that the guest enjoys the cocktail – it’s the same. This is the most basic requirement. Bartender… mixologist? It’s just only a name. If the guest doesn’t like the cocktail or my service, I’m nothing.

BBITES: How much responsibility do you feel to come up with new creations? Or are you more interested in perfecting classic cocktails?

A.L.: I think I’m in the middle. The classics are knowledge and the key of success; if you don’t understand the classics, you won’t be able to create or recreate a good cocktail. By understanding how the classics work, you’ll be able to achieve something new and interesting.

Of course, new techniques are always good; they are my passion, as you can see with our equipment in the bar. But you have to learn how to walk before you learn how to run: knowledge is most important.

BBITES: Can you tell me more about the concept behind Quinary?

A.L.: The name is related to the five senses. The books I have published use the term “multisensory mixology”. A cocktail is no longer a cocktail anymore… I can make a cocktail where you get pleasure from just listening.

It’s about sound, smell, taste, texture and the visual… sometimes I can bring back old memories through the drink. For example, a bubblegum vodka; it’s like eating the bubble gum but you’re drinking it. It’s a classic taste that many people may have forgotten: old pink bubble gum.

That’s the reason I prefer “multisensory” instead of “molecular”. If I give you a glass of water, H2O, it’s molecular too, so it can sound stupid. But then again, if I tell a guest I’m doing molecular cocktails, they will understand what I’m doing because the term is more widespread, due to the impressions of molecular gastronomy.

BBITES: When did you start your career in Mixology?

A.L.: It was around four years ago, when I was in Italy. I bought a book called “Barchef & Molecular Mixologist”. After I bought that book I started looking into it and I found it quite interesting. Nobody was doing that in Hong Kong at the time, so I thought “why not me?”.

It was difficult to find information about those techniques at the time. I started researching for methods and products in order to make multisensory cocktails. I imported from places like London and Spain. It took me a while through trial and error, but that’s the only way because everything starts from scratch.

BBITES: How do you get inspired to make a new cocktail?

A.L.: Sometimes, I like to remix something in a fun way. For example, my Panda Colada. It’s a way to make a classic more interesting, and the guest will have a memorable experience: this is the idea.

BBITES: What are your long-term aspirations in Multisensory Mixology?

A.L.: I believe in sharing. The idea behind my books is to include everything: by reading and studying the methods, bartenders can understand the techniques and apply them to their own work.

Both books are bilingual in Chinese and English. I understand that a lot of people in Asia might not speak really good English, so by publishing it in both languages, more people can use it. And of course, English is the common language outside of Asia. I want to ensure that everyone is able to understand.

(cont.) I’m not saying I’m the best in Hong Kong, but I’m always trying to think of ways to share my knowledge in Hong Kong so others can raise up their level. This is important because Hong Kong is a very famous city, but we’re still not that strong in cocktail culture.

I’m lucky because I travelled a lot and have seen many things; I pull everything I think is good and put it together. If I want, I can switch Quinary into a school in the daytime: I have a white board, black board and a projector but haven’t done any classes here yet.

So far, I’ve done a few seminars. Those seminars are without charge for bartenders… if you asked me to attend something for a few hundred dollars, I’d think “maybe not,” but if it’s free, that’s another story. Everybody wants to make money, but education is more important than money. I always hope the future of bartending in Hong Kong will be better. Someone has to do it, so I’d like to be the one.

If I open the bar school here, the bartenders will be able to get hands-on experience and use the machinery we have here at Quinary. The layout of Quinary took the idea of this future school into its design.

I want to be one of the top mixologists in the world; being the top in Hong Kong is not enough for me.

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It was a pleasure to chat with Antonio (thanks Antonio!!), and I hope you enjoyed reading our interview 🙂 . Above all, I was inspired by his attitude towards his trade. Giving credit where it’s due and openly sharing his knowledge with fellow bartenders in Hong Kong, Antonio remains a humble, dedicated and hardworking individual.

Before signing out of this post, please check out this quick video (below) of Antonio giving me a rundown of some of the snazzy equipment found behind the bar at Quinary, including such exciting devices as a centrifuge and evaporator.

Bakker x

New Place Alert: Eivissa

Sami and I pictured here with a glass of Ivy Gimlet Royale and Old Cuban respectively. Not for the faint-hearted 🙂

On Wednesday night I had a preview of what new Wyndham Street bar, Eivissa, has to offer!  I went with a group of friends and spent the evening in a flurry of very agreeable drink and food…

The interior design is reminiscent of the sci-fi movie TRON or high-end gaming AlienWare laptop compputers, with sleek black lacquered contours and soft lights emanating from underneath.  Not a totally new look, but definitely stylish enough to fit in on one of Lan Kwai Fong’s most visited bar streets.

A sleek aesthetic...

My favourite cocktail for the night was their Passionfruit Martini, served with a gooseberry.  I was surprised to see how many of my friends didn’t eat their gooseberry and simply left it on the glass without trying.But, I suppose if you’re not familiar with the fruit that it might look like a sour trap in disguise… Since I did take the opportunity to eat mine (and the other ones left behind) I can happily confirm that they were sweet and fresh, and perfectly completing the passionfruit’s sour notes.

Other drinks that were a delight was their very decent Bloody Mary, a sweet and refreshing Raspberry Caipirinha (served with hundreds of blended bits of raspberry), as well as their Tiramisu dessert-imitation cocktail.  Be careful not to inhale as you drink or you might choke a bit from the cocoa powder dusted on the top!  😛  I wasn’t as taken with their Kiwi cocktail because it was simply too sugary and didn’t carry an authentic fruit taste like the other fruit cocktails did.

However, the journey didnt’ stop there!  During our drinks-tasting frenzy, our group also sampled a selection of small appetizers from Eivissa’s in-house kitchen:

Smoked Salmon and Crab Meat with Sour Cream and Capers
[top left] A nice bite-sized sphere of crab meat wrapped in salmon.  Topped with a tiny amount of caviar.  A must for seafood fans!  Love the addition of capers, they are so underrated!

Wild Mushroom Croquettes with Truffle Aioli
I’m a sucker for deep fried croquettes (a Dutch specialty), but this dish was nice without being extraordinary.  Still worth it to share if your stomach needs effective hangover prevention… fried foods always do the trick!

House Chips with Truffle Salt and Aged Manchego
This was an absolute treat.  My first encounter with chips and truffles together was in Singapore at Tanjong Beach Club where they served french-fries garnished with truffles and parmesan cheese.  At Eivissa, however, they have perfected it: the chips are thin crisps infused with oil, truffle salt, seasoning and topped with copious amounts of crumbled Manchego cheese.  Sometimes you are lucky enough, as I was, to find a huge chunk of gold waiting under the canopy of crisps.  Totally delicious.

The following night two models (including Sami) and I helped welcome guests for their Grand Opening.  I will post some of the official photographs from the event if I can find them, but I did take a snap of the dresses we were given to wear. 🙂

With a friendly bar staff and good food and drink to be had, I will certainly be back as soon as I return from my upcoming Christmas holidays…

Bakker x