1分快三玩法

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Food & Drink


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Food & Drink


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Savour the Flavour


Discover the elusive “fifth taste” sensation, umami, through a special menu that’s been unveiled at Aqua and Armani/Aqua

Savour the Flavour


Discover the elusive “fifth taste” sensation, umami, through a special menu that’s been unveiled at Aqua and Armani/Aqua

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Savour the Flavour

September 30, 2016

 

For many years, most of the culinary world only recognised four basic tastes: salty, sweet, bitter and sour. Though scientists were aware of its existence, umami (which derives from the word for “delicious” in Japanese) wasn’t hailed as the fifth basic taste until 1985. Though difficult to describe, it’s effectively a savoury, meaty or brothy flavour brought about through glutamates.

To celebrate this unique “fifth taste” sensation, fine-dining restaurant group Aqua recently unveiled its Discover Umami menu at Aqua and Armani/Aqua, featuring several sensationally balanced dishes and cocktails that use rare and seasonal ingredients from Japan.

1分快三玩法Some of the creative offerings include Touch Mi, Taste Mi, Feel Mi (zucchini flower filled with scallop and prawn laced with dashi), A Matter of Taste (seared Hokkaido scallop and wild Hamamatsu eel kabayaki over sesame purée) and Capture Mi (A5 Miyazaki wagyu with truffle miso and almond butter soy glaze). What about umami in a cocktail? Enter the Umami Mi – Parmesan cheese-infused gin blended with pineapple, rhubarb, fresh lime and marmalade.

Aside from à la carte, there’s also the option of a taste-profiling experience, with a blind tasting to discover the essence of umami in the new dishes. This epicurean opportunity is available in the private dining room for up to 12 guests in both Aqua and Armani/Aqua.

Aqua

Hours: 12pm-2.30pm (Mon-Fri),
6-11pm (daily)

Address: 29-30/F, One Peking,
Tsim Sha Tsui

Tel: +852 3427 2288

(aqua.com.hk)

 

Armani/Aqua

Hours: 11.30am-11.30pm (daily)

Address: 2/F, Landmark Chater, Central

Tel: +852 3583 2828

(armani-aqua.com)

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Chef's Table


1分快三玩法Anita Lo, the owner of Annisa in New York City and the guest chef for the US state dinner honouring Chinese president Xi Jinping, talks about her multicultural-inspired cuisine, her experiences in France and the difficulties in the restaurant business today

Chef's Table


1分快三玩法Anita Lo, the owner of Annisa in New York City and the guest chef for the US state dinner honouring Chinese president Xi Jinping, talks about her multicultural-inspired cuisine, her experiences in France and the difficulties in the restaurant business today

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Chef's Table

September 30, 2016 / by Emily Zhang

 

You’re a Chinese-American chef who was trained in France and now creates American food with Asian influences. How would you describe the DNA of your cuisine?

1分快三玩法I call my cuisine “contemporary American”. I bring influences from all over the world. My food is very multicultural, which is who I am – I was brought up in a very multicultural household and I’m very interested in other cultures.

You studied French literature in university and completed your chef’s training in France. How have these elements influenced you today?

1分快三玩法It’s in the basic technique I use, for the most part. As far as the French thought, I think I look at food the way I look at culture. There’s a theory of cultural relativity and I really try to view food that way. 

You began your career a long time ago. What helped you decide you would become a professional chef?

I think French culture and the experience of living in Paris certainly did. My parents were involved in the food process, so they certainly influenced me, too.

Why didn’t you stay in France? 

New York City is my home. I loved France, especially back then. But it could be a little xenophobic as a society. There weren’t many kinds of cuisines in Paris at that time; they were difficult to find. I remember one day in the kitchen, someone brought in some sushi. They came to me and asked, “Can you tell me what this is?” I said, “I’m not Japanese, but, sushi…” I was thinking, “You really don’t know what that is? Oh my god!” I love France and I love Paris, but I love the diversity of New York City.

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Some head chefs in the kitchen tend to be very controlling. What about you?

1分快三玩法It depends. In my kitchen, it’s supposed to be my vision, so things need to be done in a certain way. Great food is all about detail. If you aren’t paying attention to detail, you’re lost – you have to be a little neurotic to be like that.

Do you shout at your crew?

1分快三玩法No, I’m not a yeller. As I get older, though, I have less patience for the day to day. I always think that to lead well, you need to teach people. You can’t just tell them to do things – you have to tell them why they have to do it in that way. I don’t think it’s helpful to make someone scared. So yelling’s never been my style.

What’s the most important skill for a good chef?

Of course you have to know how to cook. But if you can’t run a business, it doesn’t matter how well you can cook. If you can’t
make your restaurant profitable, you aren’t going to be a good cook, either. 

Do you eat McDonald’s or any other junk food?

I eat McDonald’s probably once a year. I eat a lot of junk food, but not all the time. Sometimes if I want to relax and there are Doritos, I’ll eat them. I grew up in the Midwest, which is like the home of junk food. But my parents brought me up eating very healthy food. When I grew up to be an adult, I thought I could eat all the candy I wanted, I could eat Kraft Mac & Cheese – we never had stuff like that. 

What are your eating habits in general?

I eat a lot of everything – I eat very well and I probably eat too much. But I love it. When I cook myself dinner, it’s usually very simple. I eat a wide range of foods. I try to eat out at least twice a week.

Have there been any catastrophes in your kitchen?

1分快三玩法Well, my restaurant burnt down in 2009. That was the biggest one, but there are always catastrophes in the restaurant – like the refrigeration goes out, then you come in the next morning and have to throw away everything.

How is the restaurant business today? 

It’s difficult now in New York City. There are a lot of changes going on right now that make it difficult to run a business. It’s hard to find good cooks. It’s a different business model now, compared to when I got into it. I’m trying to learn the new one right now.

What aspects do customers care about most when it comes to fine dining?

You have to have everything: taste, decor, plate presentation. You can’t just have service or delicious food.

If you had to make a “last dish” in your life, what would you prepare?

There’s no real answer to that. If I really had to say, I would make something that I caught, like a fish. I would catch it and cook it. There’s something very primal about catching your food and seeing your ingredients through from beginning to end.

Images: Annisa Restaurant

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So Cheesy


Tired of that standard egg-custard tart alongside your silk-stocking milk tea? There’s nothing wrong with the classics, but to wow your jaded palate, take a shot at the soft-centre, half-baked cheese tart. As the cult of cheese-tart fanatics grows into a veritable army, we’re seeing numerous speciality stores popping up across the city

So Cheesy


Tired of that standard egg-custard tart alongside your silk-stocking milk tea? There’s nothing wrong with the classics, but to wow your jaded palate, take a shot at the soft-centre, half-baked cheese tart. As the cult of cheese-tart fanatics grows into a veritable army, we’re seeing numerous speciality stores popping up across the city

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

So Cheesy

August 26, 2016 / by Jenny Wang


Hanjuku Kobo

Leading the mania for the cheese delicacy, the first bite at Hanjuku Kobo reveals a crumbly, buttery crust. As you crunch into the cookie-like tart, that buttery flavour gets stronger until it coats your mouth. Sink your teeth into the filling and an unmistakable cheese aroma quickly takes over, tinged with a slight sourness that in turn highlights the cheese flavour. The semi-liquid filling is wobbly with a gentle shake of your hand. The brown-glazed topping renders a pleasant scorched taste. In addition to the original flavour, the store also offers chocolate and mocha options.

Price: HK$22 each

Where to eat: 6A Cameron Road,Tsim Sha Tsui


Ryoyu Bakery

Originating from Tokyo’s Tsukishima area, Ryoyu’s tart is thinner and smaller in size, but also features a nuanced characteristic with a subtly savoury cheese filling. The mild saltiness brings out the cheese’s delicately funky smell. Its cookie-like crust is also flaky, but sometimes so flimsy that it falls apart easily – be careful or you’ll be holding crumbs. The original flavour is often snapped up before the mango option, but the latter is equally delectable and more refreshing – mango and dairy go hand in hand.

Price: HK$16 each; HK$80 for 6 pieces

Where to eat: Yata Department Store, 3/F, Moko, 193 Prince Edward Road West, Mong Kok


Lab Made

The popular liquid-nitrogen ice cream purveyor also jumps on the cheese-tart bandwagon, creating its original “cool” version. A slab of cheese-flavoured ice cream is crafted on site before being moved onto a freshly baked tart. The cheese is fairly heavy, but its exquisitely smooth texture coupled with the final touch – glazed syrup on top – is bound to amaze your palate. The dainty treat lends a cool, fresh air to the blistering summer. Note that it’s a seasonal offering, and thus not a permanent item on the menu.

Price: HK$22 each

Where to eat: 6 Brown Street, Tai Hang


Bake Cheese Tart

This one has its origins in Hokkaido, Japan. Among the highlights is its mousse-like cheese centre. The climax hits when the snowy mousse flows out from the centre, which is so silky that it soon melts on the tongue before the velvety texture forms a perfect contrast with the crispy tart dough. The company says they use three types of cheese: two from Hokkaido and one sourced from France. The technique they use is called “double-baked” – they first bake the tart alone, then bake the cheese filling and the tart together.

Price: HK$20 each; HK$110 for 6 pieces

Where to eat: B2-16, B2, Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay


Images: China Daily

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Mighty Malbec


Berry Bros & Rudd’s first female Master of Wine, Catriona Felstead, explores the growing popularity of malbec around the world

Mighty Malbec


Berry Bros & Rudd’s first female Master of Wine, Catriona Felstead, explores the growing popularity of malbec around the world

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

Mighty Malbec

above illustration: © Berry Bros.

June 24, 2016 / by Catriona Felstead / Illustration: Billy Wong

1分快三玩法Upon hosting my first malbec-based event recently, I was delighted to find that almost everyone already knew and loved this grape variety. Malbec – specifically, from Argentina – is taking the world by storm. Consumers often ask for an Australian red or a French white; now they are actively requesting Argentinian malbec. The only grape variety that has previously managed to achieve such a widely understood geographical identity is New Zealand sauvignon blanc – and we all know how successful that has been.

Malbec, or côt, finds its origins as the black wine of Cahors in southwestern France, with the first reference to Malbeck ou Cahors appearing around 1784 in Pauillac, Bordeaux. Malbec was prized as a blending component, adding colour and body to the region’s red wines.
However, severe frosts in 1956 all but wiped out the variety in Bordeaux and severely damaged plantings in Cahors, where it has often been associated with rustic, thin, tannic wines. It is fair to say that malbec rather disappeared off the radar until it found fame in Argentina in the late 20th century.

Why does Argentina make such a wonderful home for malbec? Just like a perfect storm, the answer lies in a number of factors all coming together at once. First, Argentina has a dry climate; the annual rainfall in the prime wine-producing region of Mendoza is only 200mm per year. Drought isn’t an issue there due to plentiful irrigation water from the Andes snowmelt. Then, there is the high level of sunshine; some regions bask in up to 320 sunny days per year. 

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But the undeniable factor for malbec’s success in Argentina is the influence of altitude. Vineyards perch on mountain slopes going up to 1,600m, with a large number of vines clustered around the 1,000m mark. At such altitudes, the difference between day and night temperatures is vast, with +40°C days dropping to -10°C nights. This slows down the growing season, allowing all the aromatic and flavour components to mature in harmony with the fruit sugars as the grapes ripen. At heights of 1,000m and up, the grapes develop thicker skins, resulting in the aromatic wines of intense colour and structure with which so many are familiar.

Is there any limit to the unstoppable charge of malbec? Premium sub-regions have already developed in Mendoza, with Alto Agrelo and Ugarteche in the Luján de Cuyo area along with La Consulta and Gualtallary in the Uco Valley all held in high repute. Not only that, but malbec is rapidly becoming popular over the mountains, with more and more promising Chilean malbecs found in export markets. Sales are growing in Asia, too, as more consumers are starting to appreciate the supple structure of these wines. It certainly feels appropriate to honour this variety with a grand title: the mighty malbec.

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The Bordeaux Buzz


Mark Pardoe, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s buying director, offers his insights and expertise on the 2015 Bordeaux en primeur vintage

The Bordeaux Buzz


1分快三玩法Mark Pardoe, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s buying director, offers his insights and expertise on the 2015 Bordeaux en primeur vintage

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


 

The Bordeaux Buzz

above illustration: © Berry Bros.

May 27, 2016 / by Mark Pardoe / Illustration: Billy Wong

1分快三玩法The news that Paul Pontallier, the effortlessly urbane managing director of Château Margaux, had been taken by cancer on the eve of the 2015 Bordeaux en primeur tastings undoubtedly cast a long shadow over the start of the campaign. Given the initial messages that this is the best Bordeaux vintage since 2010, it’s one that’s certainly full of expectation. This was Paul’s last harvest – and what a fitting tribute it is.

1分快三玩法Most notable about the year’s weather was the lack of rain from March to July, followed by a generous rainfall in August – nearly twice the usual amount and compensating almost exactly for the earlier shortfall. Such variation does not encourage homogenous development, as the vines swing between drought-stress and then acceleration with the rain. That, in turn, can influence the eventual development of tannins and acids, as well as the complexity and balance.

But Bordeaux has a maritime climate (albeit one that tends to have been warmer in recent years) so such variations aren’t unusual. Add to this a rather hot June and July to go with the drought, and a cool-but-dry end to the season after Storm Henry offloaded over the Northern Médoc in mid-September, and you have conditions that make generalisations difficult. However, the analyses are reassuring; this feels like a vintage of good quality, but assuredly with occasional outbursts of excellence.

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It looks to be particularly strong on the Right Bank, which received less of Storm Henry. The further north one ventures in the Médoc, the more its effect is detectable. The best properties, as they have done for a decade or more, will only use their very best fruit. But, in the measure, 2015 probably lacks a little intensity and precision of a very great year. I’d qualify that comment against the difficulty of judging wines of this stature so soon after the vintage. Apparent shortfalls can sometimes be made up during the élévage, which further tasting closer to bottling will reveal – but by then, the campaign will be over.

So, what of the prices? Writing this in April, I’m a hostage to fortune. It’s almost inconceivable that prices will not be higher than the 2014 opening levels. But how that translates to the market will depend on which currency you’re buying with. The strength of the US dollar
means that trans-Atlantic buyers are likely to be back in numbers. I would offer one observation, based on more than 30 years’ involvement with Bordeaux en primeur in one form or another: that interest in Bordeaux en primeur is cyclical, usually on a five-year loop. In-between, only the extremely canny, the devotee or the enthusiast buys. But when there is hype and general confirmation about the quality of a vintage across all channels, the occasional buyers then emerge, fuelling the market and, at the top end, prices. 2015 would seem to fit the brief.

Of course, a misguided pricing strategy at the châteaux could undermine that, but the portents are good for quality and collectors alike. Paul Pontallier would have revelled in the buzz that feeds years like 2015. And I’ll wager his last wine will be one of the finest of the vintage.

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Anju-bilation: Jinjuu


Korean hotspot Jinjuu bridges the divide between drinking and eating

Anju-bilation: Jinjuu


1分快三玩法Korean hotspot Jinjuu bridges the divide between drinking and eating

Lifestyle > Food & Drink



Anju-bilation

April 1, 2016

Whether it’s K-pop or trendy fashion, pretty much anything Korean has been all the rage in Hong Kong over the last few years. Now, with contemporary restaurant-bar Jinjuu, Korean-American celebrity chef Judy Joo (of the Cooking Channel show Korean Food Made Simple) aims to make her modern rendition of the country’s cuisine our next hot item – as well as introducing the culture of “good eating while drinking”.

Joo launched Jinjuu (meaning “pearl” in Korean) in London in early 2015. For the Hong Kong branch, which opened smack in the middle of Lan Kwai Fong in December, she raises the bar in a 120-seat space with a mix of traditional Korean motifs and industrial chic by renowned design firm Substance. 

Inspired by the Korean social norm that imbibing liquor should always be accompanied by quality eats, Jinjuu delivers street food favourites and more contemporary fare. The menu highlights a broad selection of anju (bar snacks) such as prawn crackers, bulgogi tacos and carnitas fries. Larger plates showcase sharing platters including succulent Iberico bossam1分快三玩法 (pork belly), braised short ribs, grilled sea bass and the famous Korean fried chicken.

Pair these with Jinjuu’s broad variety of Korean drinks, from traditional rice-based liquors including soju, baekseju and makgeolli to a variety of innovative soju-based cocktails, such as the Spiced Kimchi Mary and the Seosan Sazerac. Then, raise your glass and shout a hearty cheers: gun bae!

Hours:
Dining: 12pm–11pm
Anju (bar food): 11pm–1am (until 3am on Fri/Sat)
Address: UG/F, California Tower, 32 D’Aguilar Street, Central
Tel: +852 3755 4868

Images: Jinjuu

 

 

 

 

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A Glass or a Cuppa? Wine Versus Tea


Jasper Morris, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy Director, shares his love of tea and wine – and the vast similarities between the two

A Glass or a Cuppa? Wine Versus Tea


1分快三玩法Jasper Morris, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy Director, shares his love of tea and wine – and the vast similarities between the two

Lifestyle > Food & Drink



A Glass or a Cuppa?

above illustration: © Berry Bros.

April 1, 2016 / by Jasper Morris / Illustration: Billy Wong

 

If one day my doctor should tell me I must give up wine, I shall have to switch to my other favourite beverage: tea. The two have so much in common, even if many in the West have scantappreciation of the amazing flavours of fine tea, as has been the case until recently for wine in China.

Wine is made from vitis vinifera, tea from camellia sinensis. Both have many different cultivars, offering individual flavours, and suited to various climates and soil types. In both cases, the classic regions that produce the finest examples have developed a hierarchy of special sites – especially so in Burgundy, where 33 grands crus and more than 600 premiers crus have been classified.

Whether wine or tea, it matters where you grow the raw material, how you cultivate it, when you pick the grapes or leaves, how you process them and what happens when you bring your product to market. The best teas are picked at specific moments in the season (and during the day) by highly trained pickers. The greatest vignerons take equal care when choosing their picking dates. It’s not just a case of following the progression of the season, but of tasting the grapes repeatedly until the moment is right. These grapes will then be hand-picked and diligently sorted to exclude those not up to standard.

1分快三玩法Great wine and tea have also become attractive commodities for speculators. It seems sad that these glorious products, usually made with the intention of making as fine a drink as possible for the pleasure of whoever has the good fortune to consume it, should have drifted into the world of investment.

1分快三玩法The most expensive wines in the world are often from the miniscule Romanée-Conti vineyard, though in recent times Richebourg from Henri Jayer has topped the bidding. Production is tiny and now exceptionally rare, as the winemaker is no longer with us and ceased production of this wine in 1987. The 1985 vintage can fetch more than US$15,000 a bottle. Yet compare the tiny amounts of Da Hong Pao tea made from the last of the six original ancient trees, more than 500 years old – the 2006 made by Master Xu fetched US$30,000 for just 20 grams.

Leaving aside these exceptional rarities, there is a vast array of fine wine and tea that can charm without breaking the bank. To my palate, the subtle oolongs of Wuyishan bring a reminder of the lacy perfection of Chambolle-Musigny, while the more tannic style of Pu’er invites comparison with Pauillac in Bordeaux. 

The parallels cannot be pushed too far, however. That lovely smokey taste in a fine Lapsang Souchong tea is more likely to be a fault in wine – from unripe grapes or the effect of a badly toasted barrel. 

Moderation is key – even drinking too much tea can bring on hot flushes and dizziness. So if your doctor suggests you need to give up tea, perhaps that’s the signal to switch to a glass of wine instead!

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Beloved Brasserie: Cocotte


1分快三玩法Conjuring up a petite slice of Paris in the heart of Hong Kong, French dining takes a casual-chic approach at Cocotte

Beloved Brasserie: Cocotte


Conjuring up a petite slice of Paris in the heart of Hong Kong, French dining takes a casual-chic approach at Cocotte

Lifestyle > Food & Drink



Beloved Brasserie

Ferbruary 26, 2016

1分快三玩法It’s easy to get lost amid the mind-boggling number of restaurants in the Central area, especially as they come and go with such frequency. Standing out from the crowd is difficult in this intensely competitive environment for eateries, but the distinctive vibe at the 36-seat Cocotte whisks you away to Paris with such ease that you may forget where you are. 

With its eclectic wallpaper, mid-century lines and art deco curves, Cocotte arrived in Hong Kong in the capable hands of Franco-Romanian brothers Jonathan, Brice and Petrous Moldovan. After their success in the Big Apple with restaurants such as New York Burger Co, the trio expanded into Hong Kong with this outlet,
1分快三玩法which conjures the spirit of a Montmartre brasserie. Designed by Candace Campos as an intimate, vibrant space, Cocotte focuses on seasonal ingredients and a less-is-more approach to modern French cuisine.

1分快三玩法“No one is obsessed with love and food as much as the French, so French cuisine is the perfect choice for a romantic dinner for two,” says chef Petrous – and following hot on the heels of the restaurant’s romantic six-course Valentine’s Day meal, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for spring at Cocotte.

“No one is obsessed with love and food as much as the French, so French cuisine is the perfect choice for a romantic dinner for two,” says chef Petrous – and following hot on the heels of the restaurant’s romantic six-course Valentine’s Day meal, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for spring at Cocotte.

Hours:
Dinner: 6pm–11pm (happy hour from 4pm)
Brunch: 11am–4pm (Sat/Sun only)
Address: 9 Shin Hing Street, Central
Tel: +852 2568 8857

 

 

 

 

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Lasting Impressions: 2014 Burgundy


1分快三玩法Jasper Morris, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy director, shares his thoughts on the 2014 Burgundy vintage – and reveals what lies ahead for oenophiles

Lasting Impressions: 2014 Burgundy


1分快三玩法Jasper Morris, a Master of Wine and Berry Bros & Rudd’s Burgundy director, shares his thoughts on the 2014 Burgundy vintage – and reveals what lies ahead for oenophiles

Lifestyle > Food & Drink



Lasting Impressions

above illustration: © Berry Bros.

February 26, 2016 / by Jasper Morris / Illustration: Billy Wong

 

“Vintages follow each other, but don’t resemble each other.” So goes the vigneron’s saying
1分快三玩法and the campaigns to sell the wines. Burgundy is full of importers, journalists and other experts (real or self-appointed) from the last days of October through to the Hospices de Beaune auction on the third Sunday in November. We’re there to taste every possible barrel sample of the by-now one-year-old vintage. This is followed by a frenzy of note-taking in preparation for the first offer of the new wines to the market – in this case, the 2014 vintage.

Our job during these autumn weeks is to taste the wines with a view to determining their likely future. Actually,
we don’t care that much if the fruit resembles raspberries, strawberries or cherries – or indeed more exotic descriptors, such as hibiscus flowers on a bed of rice biscuits. The fruit profile is only really relevant when you come to drink the wine later on. At this time, what matters is the structure of the wine – how the fruit combines with its tannins, acidity and alcohol. We employ the databank of past vintages, assessed at the same stage, to tease out the future profile of the wine. We want to know: when will it be ready to drink and what style should we expect?

My assessment for the 2014 red Burgundy is that we’ll have delicious fruit-forward wines that will have the
1分快三玩法capacity to age through the medium-term (so, safe for a good ten years) and the best will last longer still. It’s all about the fruit – usually raspberry, if you must know – but the main point is that there’s just a touch of acidity and very rarely any noticeable tannins, so harmony is the key note. For those thinking of investing, the Côte de Nuits probably enjoyed better results because it escaped the hail that once again plagued certain villages of the Côte de Beaune. However, the old adage of “follow the producer” remains true here.

The real treats will be the white wines. I’d decline to say that this is the greatest vintage of the last 30 years – “greatest” suggests wines of enormous richness and power. But I’m tempted to suggest that it’s the finest and certainly the most consistent. The wines impress from south to north (Pouilly-Fuissé to Chablis), and from basic Bourgogne blanc up to the grands crus. 

In what ways are they so good? The wines have fruit and flesh; they have precision, minerality and good acidity. The classic character is of fresh white fruit rather than super-ripe yellow fruit. They taste in perfect balance, they will be accessible early and they will keep well. And why are they so good? It’s partly due to the relatively cool summer, which maintained freshness in the fruit, as well as the sound September weather, which meant that producers had the time to choose their picking dates. In short, this is one vintage you don’t want to miss.

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On a Culinary Mission:
David Yeo of Aqua


1分快三玩法On the eve of the Aqua Restaurant Group’s 15th anniversary, the outspoken restaurateur is looking ahead to further global expansion

On a Culinary Mission:
David Yeo of Aqua


1分快三玩法On the eve of the Aqua Restaurant Group’s 15th anniversary, the outspoken restaurateur is looking ahead to further global expansion

Lifestyle > Food & Drink


On a Culinary Mission

December 22, 2015 / by Constance Shen

On the eve of the Aqua Restaurant Group’s 15th anniversary, the outspoken restaurateur David Yeo is looking ahead to further global expansion.

We know you’re Singapore-born and that you got your start as a lawyer in London. But it seems that Hong Kong is Aqua’s home.

1分快三玩法Well, I’ve lived in Hong Kong longer than anywhere else – it’s also my home.  

As the founder and creative director of Aqua, what has changed over the past 15 years?

I’m very lucky; it’s a creative job. What I do is no different than Giorgio Armani, who has a whole team of designers. I’m sure he doesn’t design every outfit. But he would say, “This design is within Armani’s guidelines” – the look and feel of an Armani creation. We are trying to do the same. My big passion now – I think everybody is catching on to it – is Spanish cuisine. It actually started with a glass of white in a bleak part of Spain. I was no longer limited to French and Italian grapes. I felt like a child that’d been given a box of pencils in colours he’d never seen before. 

How have your customers evolved over time?

1分快三玩法It wasn’t so long ago that people were drinking Château Lafite with Coke. Now they’re moving away from Bordeaux. They’re more knowledgeable and are asking intelligent questions, such as “What’s the mix of grapes in this?” This is the level of sophistication of our Chinese customers today. 

Does that bring you greater challenges?

We’re always ahead of them. I never let my customers lead me. I show them what may be interesting to try. I think I would be in big trouble if they were telling me what I should be doing next. You don’t want to ring the doorbell and tell Mr Armani what he should be designing next season.

Is the idea of casual dining the diametrical opposite of fine dining?

In my humble opinion, fine dining has never had mass appeal, maybe because in the old days, it was highly formalised and you had to dress up for it. The cost is so high and you don’t want to dine like that every month. It was more of a celebration. These days, people take the concept of excellent food and they want to see it packaged in different ways. We do two things: first, casual dining, which is Shiro and Tivo, and then lifestyle dining, which is Armani Aqua – these go together. 

Could you share Aqua’s formula for success?

1分快三玩法I don’t know whether I have a formula, but above all I don’t believe I could do it without my team. The other thing is to listen to your customers because you cannot dictate with every creative job. For example, in London, we tried to tone down the level of spiciness – but if it gets to a ridiculous point, we’d rather not serve the dish, because it would no longer be our food.

With the criticism you faced at the London launch of Aqua Kyoto and Aqua Nueva, how did you bring the business back on track?

I would say if you really know what you’re doing, you won’t be writing for a living – you’ll be starting a restaurant. They really pronounced their judgement on us straight away; before they’d even stepped inside, they had decided they wouldn’t like us. It was difficult for our staff when critics commented that if it was such a good restaurant, it wouldn’t need to hire such attractive girls – that almost brought our girls to the point of tears. I found it difficult to forgive. But within nine months, guests were queuing down the road to get in.

It has been said it’s the unconventional decor, rather than the food or drink, that gives Aqua’s restaurants their buzz.
I don’t do unconventional design. I do completely conventional stuff – but it’s how you do it that matters, though. I won two national awards last year – one for lighting and another, in the UK, for bar design. 

As an example, Tivo in Kennedy Town looks like a New York warehouse. 

Also, in the London building where we opened Hutong, there was a sort of suction device in the structure directly above the restaurant. This design issue meant that many businesses weren’t interested in leasing the space, but I actually made it my bar. 

What’s next for you and for Aqua?

The 15th anniversary marks something of a watershed. It will see us expand considerably on a global scale. And it will be slightly different as we push forward – the reason being that we have a hub-and-spoke approach. The hub is like an incubator, where we start nurturing our next generation of managers and chiefs. We don’t only hire locally, so all the managers leading the expansion will have been with us for some time.

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