15 Course Tasting Menu – HKK, Liverpool Street

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The Boom decided to splash out and took me to HKK for their 15 course tasting menu yesterday night. The location of HKK is rather obscure, on the edge of Shoreditch and the City. Also, the facade is unassuming, no name of the restaurant, just frosted glass and cool blue lights.

Finally something worth blogging about. Won’t write much since there are so many pictures!

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See! 15 course tasting menu at £95! You can check out their menu online.
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Cripsy taro puff with Canadian scallop. This is the upmarket version of your typical dim sum taro puff. Instead of minced pork, it’s filled with diced scallop. I could happily have a few more puffs. The Boom liked this as well though he thought the mushy taro “dirtied” the fresh taste of the scallop.

wpid-wp-1391865598542.jpeg Cold jumbo crab. Chunky piece of crab meat on a leaf of chicory with a Shao Xing rice wine sauce. We thought the bitterness of the chicory leaf will overpower the delicate taste of the crab but luckily, the inner tender leaf of chicory was used so our fear was moot! Apart from Shao Xing wine, we both think some wasabi was used. Nice and refreshing with a tad of bite.

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Cherry wood roasted Peking duck. This was the highlight of the night! A slice of duck skin, a thick slice of duck breast with skin and a wrap with duck meat, skin and slivers of cucumber and spring onion.

We were instructed (yes, instructed!) to dip the skin in the sugar and hoi sin sauce and eat that first, followed by the breast meat with skin and lastly the wrap. Boy! This was some good stuff. Simply the best Peking duck I have ever tasted. The skin is crispy with a bit of duck fat that just melts in your mouth. The slice of duck breast was juicy and moist, simply delightful! The Boom wanted more and was waxing lyrical about how his life will be complete if he can have a whole duck with a bottle of nice red wine. The Boom and his duck craze, don’t blame him, this duck is top quack!

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The yummy duck roasting away in the kitchen.

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Truffled seafood soup with Osmanthus flower. We were once again instructed to lower the spoon filled with sea bass and scallop into the soup to warm the seafood up slightly before drinking the soup. We were expecting a light bodied soup and thus was surprised this was more like a chowder. Rich and totally umami.

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Dim sum trilogy. We both loved the deep fried dumpling that is wrapped in vermicelli and topped with caviar. The skin of the white dumpling is far too thick and the mouth feel was gummy and not pleasant. The red spicy dumpling fared slightly better, thinner skin but still too thick but have an interesting filling. Ginger, five spice and Szechuan peppercorn. Disappointing overall.

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Braised organic Duke of Berkshire pork with Mantou. I was expecting a white fluffy bun stuffed with the braised pork and so was very surprised by the 50p size bun. Taste wise, the bun was just bad! Slightly crispy on the outside with texture of wholemeal bread on the inside. Totally out of character. The moist and tender braised pork saved this dish to be let down once again by the overly sweet sauce. Even the Boom thought the sauce to be too sweet.

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Sugar snap, lotus root and water chestnut in XO sauce. This dish showcase the different texture of the vegetables. Nice, but nothing spectacular.

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Hawberry red bean cake and glutinous sesame ball served with white peony tea. Junk has done it again! I ate my portion of this dish without taking a pic so had to hijack the same dish from the neighboring table for a snap.

We both thought the the proportion of the hawberry jelly could be more to better balance the coconut red bean cake.

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Wok fried lobster in garlic sesame sauce. The Boom thought the lobster was slightly on the tough side. The sauce was just meh.

wpid-wp-1391865909137.jpeg Char grilled Chilean sea bass. This dish we both love. The smoky char taste contrasted wonderfully with the naturally sweet taste of the sea bass.
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Seared Wagyu beef in VSOP sauce. The Boom say this is like pulled pork which I can understand. There is a slight moo to the beef but could not discern the fatty marbling I would expect from a Wagyu. Perhaps because the cut has been braised?

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Seared Rhug Farm organic lamb with pan mee. This was average. I was expecting handmade pan mee noodles. Instead, the noodles tasted more like pad thai. The lamb pieces was way too salty I thought.

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Lemon cream, citrus sable and yogurt sorbet. Most of the other reviews I’ve read of HKK all said the dessert was a let down. I thought otherwise which is rare as I’m not a big dessert fan. We both loved this dish. The tart of the lemon cream and sorbet balanced the rich butter biscuit base. Only thing I would say is though well executed, this is not a typical Chinese dessert.

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Chocolate velvet, roast banana and five spice crouton. Another non Chinese dessert but utterly delicious! After the tartness of the last dish, this was rich and warming. The roast banana goes so well with the rich chocolate mousse. Slightly let down by the crouton. Way too hard and tough.
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Selection of petits fours. This reminds me of Pick and Mix from Woolworths… meh!
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The final verdict! Not cheap, won’t be repeating it again soon but a worthwhile experience.

HKK
Broadgate West
88 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BE
020 3535 1888

Chicken Katsu Curry – Asta, Liverpool St

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Decided to venture further a field today and recall there are a couple of small takeaway shops in the The Arcade (formerly Metropolitan Railway entrance) on Liverpool Street. Apart from Asta where I bought my lunch, there is another Chinese takeaway, M&S Food, a cafe and some shops.

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I think I might have been subconsciously influenced by Mr CSS and his addiction for Katsu Curry Rice. He has been eating the Katsu Curry Rice from Japanika for the past few days for lunch even though he kept complaining that it’s expensive. As a tease, I told him how easy it is to make the Japanese curry sauce at home, even went as far as buy him some to try it out! Mr CSS – You promised you will try to cook it next week, don’t let me down now! So when I walked into Asta, the only item I was interested in was the Katsu Curry Rice, sad but true

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More about Asta. The shop occupy 2 units in The Arcade. On the left, you have a refrigerated area with sushi, salad and bento boxes. In the middle section, there is a steamer table with hot food of the day and the left most section is a deli with more westernised items like sandwich and more salad. The menu on Asta’s website shows a good rotation of dishes, might be good to check out the special of the day before going there.

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Back to the Chicken Katsu Curry Rice. Strictly speaking, the offer from Asta is not Chicken Katsu Curry Rice. To be fastidious, it should be Chicken Karaage Curry Rice. Why am I throwing a big fuss you might wonder? It’s just crispy chicken. Well, the difference is that a Katsu is usually a breaded cutlet, depending on where you get it, the meat might be reconstituted while a Chicken Karaage is more often than not made from pieces of deboned chicken thigh. Thus more tender and succulent.I like the fact that Asta serves the curry sauce on the side, the chicken does not get soaked in the sauce and lose it’s crunch. Also, you get a choice of white or brown rice. I went with brown, small attempt at trying to be healthy. Apart from that it is a pretty standard curry rice, nothing I can’t replicate at home. But at £6.80 (£0.10 more for brown rice), same price as Japanika, it’s not value for money. I would go to Wasabi anytime, I think you will save over a pound at Wasabi.

Asta
4 – 6 The Arcade
Liverpool Street
London EC2M 7PN
0207 626 5660