The Year of the Monkey Arriveth!

Lunar New Year 2016 from February 8 – 22 2016

Hey Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Hope all’s well with you!

I’m just posting a few pictures of Landmark’s awesome public installation to welcome in the Year of the Monkey… To be honest, I was expecting an annual lunar floral arrangements of the new incoming Chinese zodiac, but anyway, the dolly monkey were quite amazing too!

Cheers!

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A Quickie @ Jamie’s Italian, Harbour City TST, Hong Kong

Date of Visit:  July 2015

Lunch today was at Jamie’s Italian in Harbour City.  Since it’s summer, the best thing to do is to hit the mall for free air-conditioning! The normally busy mall with trolley totting tourists is surprisingly quiet… I guess they are all queuing at LV and Channel at Champs-Élysées! 😜

I have been to Jamie’s Kitchen once when it first opened.  There was a huge queue so I was surprised that my mom had scored a table without a reservation.  As I was doing an errand, my mom and brother bombed me with texts urging me to drop everything as the wait time for guests is only 15mins and we can only have the table for 1.5hours max!

I’m no stranger to Jamie’s Italian as I’ve been to their Sydney branch many times – so it’s good to do a comparison between Sydney and Hong Kong…

My 1st experience with Jamie’s Italian in Hong Kong…was their Superfood Salad.  A mouth-wateringly tart plate of avocado, shaved fennel, candied beets, pulses, Italian sprouting broccoli, creamy cottage cheese, pomegranate, smashed nuts & seeds and served with a fennel blossom Sicilian harissa.  I had also added beetroot-cured salmon.  Lots of stuffs, but still not very filling.😁

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SUPERFOOD SALAD WITH BEET-ROOT CURED SALMON Instagram:https://instagram.com/outforalonglunch/

Today we ordered…

Burger Italiano:  Chargrilled beef burger with melted fontina cheese, sweet tomato salsa, schiacciata piccante, pickles, chilli, crispy fried onions & chips.  The burger was good, but the chips was a tiny bit disappointing as I don’t think it’s been double-fried, hence did not retain the crunch.

BURGER ITALIANO

Mom ordered the Sausage Pappardelle:  Braised fennel sausage ragù with incredible Chianti, Parmesan & crunchy, herby breadcrumbs.  The sausage ragu were akin to minced meats…so it might be ‘deconstructed’ sausage!

SAUSAGE PAPPARDELLE

…and the pappardelle looks like instant noodles!  Not the large, broad flat pasta noodles that we are accustomed to but ‘reengineered’ pappardelle! 😇

PAPPARDELLE = MAGGIE MEE 😶

I ordered the Fish in A Bag:  Fish of the day with clams, mussels, fennel, chilli, anchovies & cracked wheat, topped with fiery arrabbiata sauce.  It’s very simple dish that I can cook at home – all the seafood packed in butter-paper and foil! What I don’t like about my order is that it’s too tart?  I like fresh lemon juices over my food, but not slices of lemon cooked with my food – and I don’t like an overkill of tomato sauce!

FISH IN A BAG

I guess Jamie’s recipes must have been tweaked to the local Hong Kong taste, as I find them quite ‘powerful’.  Also, this is the first time that a customer is obligated to choose to tip their server 10%, 12.5% or 15% – pre-calculated on their docket!

Nevertheless as with any celebrity chef’s franchise it will surely be a tourist must-visit resto!

CX’s First Class Meal Inspired by Mandarin Oriental

Date: June – July 2015

I had just returned from my exhausting but extremely rewarding trip to Europe encompassing 6 cities – Milan, Venice, Zurich, Basel, London and Paris – courtesy of my brother! Surprisingly, I did not experience much jet lag at all while in Europe, it was only when I returned to Hong Kong that the lack of sleep and fatigue struck!  Let’s see how long I shall remain in European time! 😁

Everyone knows the perks of travelling First and Business Classes – the use of lounge service!  Needless to say, the lounge was jammed-packed with people.  After checking in and going through customs and immigration, I gladly headed left into the First Class Lounge.

Relaxing lounge not, this is akin to a cafeteria in peak hours!

… Whatever, I finally found a seat, settled down and relaxed with free-flow Billecart Salmon Brut Rose with some nuts. 😁

Some tidbits…

As our flight is taking off at 1am – I sampled some dessert from the buffet.  A sugar hit is the perfect way to counter any hangover.

Pralines, Pear Tart and a modern-take on the Chinese mango pudding. The egg yolk look (mango puree on mango pudding) and in a boat-shaped bowl topped with pistachio bits was the reason I chose this dessert. 😋

On-board the flight before take-off, I was served a chilled scallop. It’s nice to have something tangy and zesty to chew.  I was nearly asleep but wanted to stay up for the dinner menu especially created for First Class passengers on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Milan, aptly called “Inspired by Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong“.

Chilled scallop ceviche with pomelo, lime and lavash

Here’s the dishes created by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky.

First Class Meal from Hong Kong to Milan

Starter:  A very fresh summer salad of prociutto ham and vegetable salad served in olive oil and lemon juice.

Vegetable a la Grecque

Soup: The lumpy soup was very heavy and extremely filling

Courgette Soup with Ricotta Tortellini

Main:  A REALLY lovely piece of fish, perfectly cooked and rival that in restaurants on-land! 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻

Line-caught Seabass, crushed potato, summer vegetable, caviar

Dessert:  Would be a Chocolate Dome, mousse, rapsberry, sauce… but I skipped that as I was too tired and stuffed…

The next morning, I had…

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Coffee with biscotti – very Italian! 👅

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Chocolates that I missed last night!

Breakfast…

Fruits and muffins

After the highlights to Milan, on my return leg from Paris to Hong Kong, the inflight meal was very anti-climax. 😓  (Aside: I noticed that most of the lady passengers have in their arms, new Channel bags! 😍)

Business Class Meal from Paris to Hong Kong

Starter:

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Foie Gras, Brioche, Peach and Peach Chutney

The accompanying toasted brioche for foie gras was soggy so I got a piece of bread which was the highlight of the meal!

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Warm Damper

Salad:  Wilted Salad leaves did not fare well either…

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Salad

Main:  I wanted to have beef but seeing unappetizing gravy drenched on top of the beef on the lunch trolley, I opted for lamb instead.  There are 2 pieces of lambs, edible with side of soggy onions and potatoes.

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Lamb

Dessert: Cheese

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Cheese Plate with glass of Penfold’s Port

So the ‘moral’ of the story is, if there’s any, First Class meals rocks!😄

Best Wishes for the Year Of Sheep 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR DUDES AND DUDETTES!!  

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New Year Fireworks @Sydney Harbour Bridge (swiped off the internet ‘cos I liked it so much!)

It’s 2015.  And this is my first blog post for 2015… I have more drafts in my folder than actual blog posts, needless to say,  I need to speed up!! 😵 

I have been busy with my art investment courses since the last half of 2014 (and my vigour in bodybuilding towards a competition means that I am exhausted most evenings!😜).  AnywaZ, if you have already broken your new year’s resolution, there’s another new year coming up – the Lunar New Year, coming up on February 19 – celebrated by 1.35B Chinese in the world (omitting people of Chinese origins living outside of China) and no doubt mine will be to write and post more often!  

As to whether my Chinese New Year Predictions 2014 (here), came true… I shall reveal in due course after Chinese New Year, since talking about it before the conclusion of 2014 might change my smooth-sailing now. 😇

SO!!

Without further ado, lets’s take a walk around the malls I frequent often in Hong Kong.

A  flock of sheeps spun from yarn under a woollen-balls tree and clouds…at Landmark.  Bright colors really liven up the atrium of the mall! 😎

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Sheeps under the a fuchsia tree @ Landmark, HK

 

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Sheeps under the a fuchsia tree @ Landmark, HK

 

Meanwhile at IFC…a mini garden of 12 Chinese zodiacs constructed from artificial flowers and tiny lights.

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Chinese Zodiacs @ IFC, HK

Welcoming the Sheep…

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Star for this year – The Sheep or Goat!

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Sheep

The Dragon…

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The Heavenly Dragon

This is my favourite, the Rat on top of an Ox!

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Rat on top of an Ox

 

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Happy Monkey…

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Monkey

 

And Piggie smelling the daisies.

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Pink Piggie

 

Lastly, as the Lunar New Year looms, may your celebrations with family and friends be filled with joy, laughter and good fortune.

🎊 HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!! 🎊

Xmas 2014: Landmark

Date of Visit: November 27 2014

I always look forward to festive decorations in the atrium of Landmark, Central. This year is no exception. Giant hot air balloons ascending and descending mechanically in tandem with each other, in the centre a block of Parisian boulevard decorated in the high spirits of Christmas filled with dolls going about their activities. This – is the ultimate dollhouse!

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Week 3 + Week 4 ✔️

Week 3:  September 12 2014

I didn’t lose much weight this week,instead I gained 1kg of lean muscle! 😱

So, now under 20% body fat, having lost 1.3% body fat, currently  standing at 19.4% in week 3.

In body-building, that’s a good thing – ‘cos for each kg of lean muscle built, one burns an extra 444 calories a day.  But I’m still living in ‘normal’ people’s worlds – entrenched in what the scales say and obsessing over lower numbers each time I on the scales! Duh!  I’m disappointed, anyway…

My training is going well – pushing hard, training 5 times a week.  Lots of squats – an exercise I’ve stopped doing for the past 4 years since I fractured my hip bone.  I’m slowly warming to squats after learning the breathing techniques, and I must say, I’m starting to enjoy it!  Good news for my booties!

Gameplan for the week ahead:  Tightening up my diet by reducing sugar free lollies, sauces to pep up my meals, diet cokes…. basically reducing eating empty hidden calories..

I’m also test-driving my new dessert treat – coconut oil mixed with nut butter (raw nuts blitzed in a high-power blender). I’m going to eat 2 tablespoons of it after dinner as a treat.

Until next week… xx

Week 4:  September 22 2014

The past week, I got a new nutritional plan so am consuming 6 meals a day!  Wowsers!  I’m constantly cooking and stuffing myself silly.  Being a glutton is NOT pleasurable at all, it’s a painful chore!!  Up to date, I’ve lost a grand total of 6.1% body fat, standing at 18.5% body fat.  Still a long way to go – like, 8%-9% body fat to cut!  My goal is 57kg at 10% body fat!

Gameplan for the week ahead:  Ditch all sugar-free fizzy drinks (am drinking 3 diet cokes per day…)

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My cheat treat on Saturday: A man-sized bag of crisp, a bottle of Pinto Gris (yes!) and some Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream

PS:  In case you are wondering if I’m doing some cheesy poolside bikini comp, here’s the epitome of the bikini athletes.  Watch the distraction here:

Spring Is Coming!💃Time to Learn Photography! 📷

Date of Visit: August 31 2014

“This August has been the wettest and coldest month on record since 1998.  The average temperature is 9C (where historically it has been 17C)…” ,rattled this off the news I watched last night. 😎

Today being the last day of winter and the first time in a long while I see the sun poking out from behind the clouds, I went to Royal Botanical Gardens to do my photography assignment.  Yes, I’ve finally decided to learn photography!  3 hours per Saturday for 5 weeks.   I’ve been editing too many crappy pictures from my summer trip – extremely disappointing –  that I reckon I should learn the technical aspects of handling a camera – pronto!

Being a sunny Sunday, there were a lot people armed with huge cameras blasting away.  Weighing in with my share… tulips, tulips and more tulips…

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Grr… is it my camera or my photography skills?  I’m trying to capture the birds, by the way.

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One of our assignment was to bracket the pictures to see the different exposures… Still playing around with my camera and discovering the many hidden functions it has!  Thrills!

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EV+0.3

Well, let’s see if my photography skills improves!  Meanwhile a toppled tree which I find very artistic -which also reminds me of the upside-down tree in our old architecture faculty building in uni…  Meanwhile, my instagrams ain’t look too shabby – check me out here!

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Dracaena from Canary Islands. It produces resin for violin varnish. This tree is over 100 year old!

Elephant Parade, Pacific Mall, Admiralty

After the 1,600 Pandas departed, the Elephants stampeded into Hong Kong.   Elephant Parade is the world’s largest art exhibition of decorated elephant statues created by artists and celebrities.  After the exhibition, the statues will be auctioned.  The idea is to use the power of art to bring forth a meanful message of animal conservation and protection.  Individuals can also buy miniature replicas of the elephants whereby 20% of the net profit are donated to The Asian Elephant Foundation.

Since it was Amber Rainstorm today, I was at Pacific Place Mall today to watch a movie.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the elephants dotted around the mall and had a fun time taking pictures.

Hah!  A map of HK, no doubt dedicated to Hiker Dude 😜

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

Pearl of the Orient by Diana Francis

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‘Maclehose Trail’, the gruesome 100km Oxfam Trail Walk where some teams managed to finish in 13 hours!

Money makes the world go round, and so the auspicious lucky coin Elephants to reign in good fortune for the Mall

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Lucky Coins by Santi Takaew

And with the mooncake season or mid-autumn festival coming up, an Elephant Mooncake sounds like a good festive creation

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

Mooncake by Kitipong Tamnonsri

A statue designed by my favourite designer.

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DVF, Love is Life by Diane von Furstenberg

Hong Kong is a tourist destinations and of course a couple of Elephants decorated with local flavours are a must!  Themes included food and tourist landmarks.

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Yum-Ephant by Diana Francis

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

We Love Hong Kong by Carsac Limited

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Commandments of God by Prajjwal Choudhury

One of the crowd’s favourite as judged by the number of people taking pictures.  The cutest of ’em all, I reckon!  This is by celebrated local designer Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

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The Hiding Men and The Elephant by Carrie Chau

The exhibition started on August 1 and will continue to September 9 2014.  Do pay the Elephant Parade a visit – other locations includes CityPlaza in Taikoo Shing and CityGate in Tung Chung.

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Tree of Life exclusively designed for Pacific Place by Diana Francis

Barking Up The Wrong Tree?? @Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls, Hong Kong

So, I am back in Hong Kong from my hols.  The first thing I did was going on a hike with Hiker Dude – against the advise of my girl friends.  “Why would you want to go hiking with someone who’s giving you confusing signals?”.   Anyway, I followed my heart, took the advise of my guy friends who (3 out of 3) all encouraged me to give the relationship a chance – so I went.  My BFF, a guy, even gave me the comparison of ‘instant noodles and a steak’.  Huh?  I guess the premise is that:  Steak tastes better but takes longer time to cook – a weird analogy, but hey, Chinese people loves to eat and given the opportunity will eulogise about food anytime, hands-down!

On my personal front, if a guy initiate chats with you first thing in the morning, that means he is interested, right? Plus, me being me, I’ve grilled him… I have a kick-ass, Devil-may-care-attitude and whatever conflicting signals he’s giving me, it only means he’s confused… or whatever… Father Time will tell...or whatever… LOL  😉

Here are the summary pictures of our hike today which I took with my iPhone 5s.  Heard that iPhone 6 is on the way – so, yippee – better photos to come! *High Fives Guys and Gals*

For the unfit, the hike is rather tiring since it’s mostly ascent.  I LOVE ascent, walking Up and Up which  really work your booties.  Best to walk upright, lift knees high and stomp up, this puts less pressure on knees but really works the glutes.

All in all, there are 3 falls in Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls…

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Bottom Fall

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Middle Fall

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Scatter Fall

Because we are fit people, we took a longer detour to Kadoorie Farm – to see the fat pigs…

Some wild flowers on route.

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White Zephra Lilies

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No idea what these flowers are

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Views… there were other more spectacular views but I couldn’t be bothered with taking my iPhone out from my backpack… so next time, Peeps! 🙂

The fat pigs…there are 6 altogether. A breed called ‘Da Hua Bai’, formally appointed the Kadoorie Education Ambassadors on August 1 2013 to encourage  visitors to ‘eat less meat’.   (Er… really? ‘Fraid, I can’t do that, I need protein for bodybuilding! :-()

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A Fat Pig Called ‘Andrew’

Lunch at Kadoorie Farm Cafe.

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Picturesque, outdoor and relaxing garden setting

My healthy organic lunch

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Garden Salad + Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk HK$52

A hiking buddy’s lunch, I ‘stole’ the snaps while she went to the Ladies to change…

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Vegetarian Omelette HK$32

Family Lunch @ Sepia Restaurant, Sydney

Date of Visit: March 15 2014

If you have been following my Instagram @OutForALongLunch, you can correctly assume that I’m back in Sydney – which I am – and I shall remain for a month for some business and R&R…

4 months away from Sydney, I am looking forward to a Saturday lunch with my family.  So here we are at Sepia (again!)

To kick-off we ordered a bottle of bordeaux (pinot noir) from Le Clementine du Pape Clement 2009,Pessac-Léognan.  We always order lighter styles of reds to compliment our meals so as not to over-power the cuisine.  We are really here to enjoy the food and the wine is only meant as accompaniment!

We ordered Oysters for palate starters (optional choice for $60).  The oysters with ponzu lime juice seriously openned up the tastebuds with the sweet acidic juice to ‘cut’ the very succulent and creamy oysters.

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Oysters

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Oysters

AMUSE BOUCHE:

This is a solid one bite wonder. A very dense piece of meat, was thinking perhaps it was cured meat?  I didn’t take note of what the waiter was saying as I knew from my previous experience (post here) that I shall be getting the menu later.  In any regards, it was swordfish rolled in the furikake of flavoursome umami of miso and peppers.

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Swordfish belly cured in barley miso, shichimi togarashi pepper, candied ginger

TWO

Sheep yoghurt rolled in a sashimi of yellow-fin tuna and sprinkled with green crackling.  The thick yoghurt and avocado are offset by the acidity of ponzu juice.

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Sashimi Yellow fin tuna, sheep yoghurt and wasabi, avocado, turnips, ponzu, crackling

THREE

A richly coloured powdered of dehydrated rhubarb, beetroot and rye on top of of jelly of rhubarb hiding a mould of cheese under.  Looking ornate like a pile of ruby dust, however as one digs into the pile, the liquidy rhubarb starts to ooze  out.  I took some cross-sectional pics with my iPhone, but iPhone being iPhone, the pics came blurry even though I held my phone very still…

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

A third into lunch, we were asked whether we would like to take a break by munching on some bread?  Being carb-phobics, we think not, let the flow continues!

FOUR

This course reminded me that I have to buy some krill oil to take back to Hong Kong… yet also harkens back to the salmon roe rice at Kikunoi in Japan (post yet to be done!) – so stayed tuned! 😊  Basically a very rich risotto rice dish with ‘curdy’ egg yolk, topped with the fishy salmon roe.  I believe a high skill and superior technique is warranted so not to overcook the egg yolk.

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Egg yolk and miso rice, smoked salmon roe, wasabi

Finito! A clean bowl to show how I had appreciated this course!

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FIVE

While the others had Spanner Crab

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Spanner crab, pine mushrooms silken tofu, yuzu, wakame, freid garlic

 

…me, being allergic to shellfish – or rather, crustaceans – had Snapper with Salmon Roe.  I love the lovely ensemble of colours, but the fish was a bit over-cooked (a little tough) but the tiny dots of jelly sauces are very flavoursome and mouthwatering!

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Snapper, Salmon Roe, Jelly, Baby Radishes.

SIX

The wagyu beef were actually thinly shaved slices of beef with a shiso leaf sandwiched in-between.  Despite all the prep, the beef tasted ordinary.😁  The star of this course however, I believe is the tiny potatoes,  mukago potatoes which are a new species.  “Unlike typical potatoes they grow on a vine rather than underground. For this reason some people refer to them as ‘air-potatoes’. Mukago potatoes fall off the vine very easily when they are ripe”. (See more here.)

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David Blackmore wagyu beef, oba, daikon radish and citrus dashi, mukago potato

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Shiso leaf sandwiched between the slices of wagyu beef

SEVEN

This course exudes ‘Australiana’.   I like the sourish wonderfully tart lemon taste with a hint of grapefruit.  I also loved the red hue of the venison which was very tender. The additional of myoga (Japanese ginger) binds the different elements of the dish well.

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Seared Mandagery Creek Venison, pickled myoga, lemon cream, lemon aspen , liquorice

Optional:  Pyengana cheddar, plum wine and apple pectin, sheep yoghurt and apple cream – we didn’t take uo the offer as we were rather stuffed.

EIGHT: Pre-dessert

Well, well, well… this is the first of the 3 desserts.  Mmm… presentation looks kind of similar to course #3.   Frozen ice over jelly, pretty good.

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Peach Cream, Raspberry, Yukari

NINE

This is a light dessert.  Pumpkin ice-cream with miso is unusual, but the combination went well – sweet and savoury – and a bit herby from the sorrel.  Yuba which is tofu skin seems to be very fashionable as you will see in my Tetsuya’s post later… stay tuned! 😋

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Pumpkin and Miso Caramel Ice-cream, Popcorn, Yuba, Sorrel

Licked another plate clean!

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Clean plate

TEN

The finale:  “Autumn chocolate forest” consisting of soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, lavender and honey cream, sour cherry sorbet, rose and violet jellies, green tea, liquorice, chocolate twigs.  This is Sepia’s signature – and one that I had in my first visit (here).

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

Unfortunately, at this stage, I am totally stuffed.  I cannot finish the final dessert.  On a personal note,  although I’m pursuing bodybuilding at the moment, I don’t think degustation is totally unhealthy (but don’t tell my trainer about it as he gets very annoyed – “Char-siu is NOT proper protein!  It’s coated with maltose!”)  Nevertheless, I find the meal to be well-balanced using fresh ingredients which I presume to be healthy – c’mon at  A$175pp, I’d say so! 😏

PETIT FOURS:

Complimentary dark chocolate with minty cream centers.  Perfect with a glass of cold-drip coffee from El Salvador ($10)

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After-Eights Mints

Overall a very Japanoise-skewed meal with literal uses of supplementary Japanese ingredients.  From my first visit last year, Sepia has transgressed from foam and sashimi to mushy curd and cream which is rather fashionable now (see my post on Sixpenny here).