Bo Innovation


UG/F, Ice House, 32-38 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong
(New Address: Shop No. 13, 2/F, J REsidence, No. 60 Johnson Rd., Wan Chai
Hong Kong)

Phone: 852-2850-8371

For someone who did not have any formal training, Alvin Leung really outdone himself and put a lot of other classically trained chefs to shame. In this “food crazy” city where traditional Cantonese cooking reign supreme, Bo Innovation was able to create a name and niche for itself and is becoming well known worldwide. It is not hard to see why: delicious, innovative food and good publicity (ie appearing on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation TV show).

Although the molecular gastronomy idea was borrowed from top restaurants such as El Bulli and The Fat Duck, it is still amazing to see what Alvin Leung had done, in terms of reconstructing traditional Chinese dishes into forms that are unfamiliar but somehow retained its essence. Of all the dishes we had, oxtail porcini "tong gau", lobster essence was my favorite. My least favorite dish would have to be “Caesar on a cone”. I really didn’t enjoy drinking my Caesar salad. Chef Alvin should really consider removing that dish from his menu altogether.

Of all the restaurants we tried while in Hong Kong, I think we like Bo Innovation the most. The chef tasting menu was good and the whole dining experience was memorable. If you enjoy watching your food being prepared and chatting with the kitchen staffs/chefs, I definitely recommend getting a table in the chef’s kitchen.

Chef Kitchen Dining area

starter - tofu and oyster

"Bo" Sashimi Platter

smoked quail egg, taro crust, oscietra caviar

oxtail porcini "tong gau", lobster essence

foie gras potsticker

slow cooked pork lasagna in chinese vinegar, pickled ginger in rose essence top with an eggyolk

Australian m-9 Plus Wagyu striploin, black truffle "cheung fun"

"Bo" Fried Rice - this is another dish that should be removed from the chef menu. I was not impressed at all as the rice was quite dry.

"Bo dessert" - the mini eggtart was actually made from passionfruit.

Sue-Ann, myself and Gan posing after the dinner.

*Check out Wall Street Journal's article on Bo Innovation, where one of the pictures I took of the restaurant was used.

Mas (Farmhouse)


39 Downing Street, New York

Phone: 212-255-1790

My first impression of Mas (Farmhouse) was that it is a "pretty little restaurant" located in Greenwich Village, and more than often, “pretty little restaurant” tend to overpromise but under deliver when it comes to service and food. But I was wrong. Mas (Farmhouse) was anything but.

Starting with the Chef – Galen Zamarra, who has an impressive culinary resume from the CIA to L’Arpege to Bouley to James Beard Award; this is obviously a very talented chef who has been trained at some of the best restaurants in the world. Now he has opened a lovely restaurant (actually the restaurant was opened in 2004) where commoners like us can afford to sample his cooking without breaking the bank.

Chef Galen crafted his menu daily around the freshest ingredients he can get from the local farmers and then skillfully creating wonderful dishes using French techniques with a touch of American flavors. It is not easy to maintain a harmonious balance between sophistication and simplicity when it comes to cooking, but Chef Galen is great in doing just that.

As it was a group dinner, my friends and I were able to sample quite a huge variety of dishes from the menu. Everyone was totally in love with the appetizers, entrees and wine we ordered, and I especially love the Long Island Duck Breast, Wild Pacific Halibut and Roasted Sea Scallop. The Butternut Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Sorbet and Goat Cheese Tart were exceptional. They were refreshing and “cheesy” at the same time, reminded me of the famous Goat Cheese parfait I had at Aquavit some time ago.

With its ever changing menu of delicious food, fine wine and excellent service, Mas (Farmhouse) has earned a place in my heart as one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Must-go back-again!

Complimentary starter

Yellowfin Tuna l'Occidental
Flashed with Beurre Noisette and Crispy Shallots

Steak Tartare with Capers, Shallots, Basil and Toasted Brioche
Gently Poached Egg with Parmesan Foam

Long Island Duck Breast with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Duck Confit
Organic Farro, Medjool Date and Lemon Compote

Roasted Bison Tenderloin
Roasted Buttercup Pumpkin, Glazed Salsify and Baby Beets

Roasted Sea Scallops with Wild Nettle Risotto
White Asparagus and Jerusalem Artichoke Sauce

Wild Pacific Halibut with an English Pea and Mint Sauce
Fava Beans, Haricots Verts and Hon Shimeji Mushrooms

Goat Cheese Tart with Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Dates and Prunes Poached in Port

Butternut Squash Cake with Cream Cheese "Sorbet"
Maple Cream and Lingonberry Compote

Cortland Apple Crisp with Toasted Almonds & Oats
Vanilla Ice Cream & Golden Raisin Puree

Valrhona Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Sablee
With a bittersweet Chocolate Ganache & Earl Grey Ice Cream

Mas on Urbanspoon

Hakata Ippudo


65 4th Ave, New York

Phone: 212-388-0088

When Gan and I first moved to New York, there were hardly any decent ramen places in the city. Minca, Rai Rai Ken and Menkui-Tei were some of the places in the city where we can get pretty good but not excellent ramen, nothing like those we eat in Tokyo. So when Santoka Ramen first opened in Edgewater, NJ, we went totally crazy and drove there almost every weekend to savor their absolutely marvelous bowl of toroniku shio ramen. Now that Hakata Ippudo has opened a branch in NYC, you can bet that it is our new favorite ramen place. The self described “ramen brasserie” offers a variety of ramen such as shiomaru, akamaru, shoyu, miso and tsukemen, but their real specialty is the akamaru shinaji (new taste), diverged from the traditional ramen by adding a dab spicy miso paste and garlic oil. The noodles at Hakata Ippudo is also the best in town – thin but firm, it is totally satisfying! Since it is operating as a brasserie, the restaurant also offers some appetizers such as shabu-shabu salad, buta kakuni and desserts such as green tea crème brulee, but we weren’t very impressed by those dishes. Overall, we really like Hakata Ippudo - so much so that Gan and I went there for the second time in the same week and waited 2 hours to get a table.

Oi Yen: Yay! Many thanks to Sarah for letting me be a guest blogger on Yaokui!

Readers, this blog does not provide enough justice to Sarah+Gan's eating prowess. The mouthwatering pictures below actually represent our second dinner for the night. While waiting for a table at Hakata Ippudo, we had a pre-dinner dinner of fried calamari, condensed milk toast and fried chicken at a nearby Taiwanese eatery. You know, pre-game warm-ups!

Hakata Ippudo interior

Sleek, black and glossy restaurant interior with the customary yells of "Irrashaimasen!"

the ramen Menu

Shrimp in Mayo appetizer

Shabu-shabu salad

Buta Kakuni

Akamaru Shinaji ramen

My personal favorite-- Akamaru Shimaji. Watch how fast my hands are manuevering those chopsticks! That humble red bowl is apparently the best in town, boasting "triple reduction" pork-bone broth and fresh homemade ramen. My only gripe is that they had one slice of tonkutsu pork in it.

There's a reason why you have to wolf down the noodles fast. The noodles are incredibly delicate-- if you let them sit in the boiling hot soup any longer, you'll end up with a bowlful of ramen-y mush. Also, if you eat any slower, one of your yao-kui mates might just end up stealing your portion. Well, at least I know I will!

Shiomaru ramen
Hm. If Akamaru Shimaji is a woman dolled up for the night in stilettoes and smoky dark eyes, Shiomaru is her alter-ego in a light spring dress sans adornment. While the Akamaru Shimaji dish is spicy and intensely flavorful, the Shiomaru ramen is lighter and alows one to actually taste the flavor components that make up the famous ramen broth.

Green tea creme brulee

Sarah went crazy over this dessert, it must be the influence of her infamous Haagen-Dazs ice-cream. But mmmm, this dish can be summarized as hot, crispy creme brulee with hints of matcha bitterness, alternated with creamy ice cream and a slight berry tartness.

We probably polished the dessert off in less time than it took me to conjure up that sentence!

mascarpone dessert with honey

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Aburiya Kinnosuke


Address: 213 E 45th Street, New York

Phone: 212-867-5454

Robatayaki had evolved so much since we first tried it in Tokyo a couple of years ago. To me, a traditional robatayaki restaurant is one that mimics the original –a rustic farmhouse restaurant with dining tables/seats surrounding a square hearth with grilling areas and fresh food displays, where orders are made by shouting. One of the more original ones that we have tried was in Tokyo at Inakaya West which we have previously posted. In New York, there’s no true Robata restaurant, but restaurants such Aburiya Kinnosuke which provide menu options from the robata grill.

What makes Aburiya special to me is the fact everything in the restaurant made me feel like I’m back in Tokyo, having a wonderful dinner and drinks at one of the restaurants in Shibuya or Roppongi. The food was incredible. I particularly love the homemade tofu, tsukune (meat balls) and sea cucumber appetizer. The fried organic chicken and sea eel tempura was memorable as well. This is a restaurant where it is difficult as hell to get a table, but once you are seated, you would not be rushed, even though there is a mob of hungry crowd waiting outside.

Sea Eel Tempura

Japanese Style Fried Organic Chicken

Tofu in bamboo basket

sea cucumber sashimi appetizers - slightly spicy but very refreshing. It's more chewy than the sea cucumbers I am used to eating. Interesting.

Beef grilled on top of Shinjiri Grill - the Meat was marinated in some mixture of miso sauce and it was delicious! I am just amazed that it didn't produce much smoke!

Salmon Collar - we wanted to order yelllowtail collar but it was sold out. The Salmon collar was not too bad.

Robata Grilled Pork Cheek

Tsukune/Grilled Ground Chicken with plain or teriyaki sauce

Assorted veggies - from the left: Japanese Sticky Yam, Konyaku and Gomoku Kinpira.

Buta Kakuni - not the most tender Buta Kakuni we have eaten, but it was delicious.

Earthenware Rice with soup on the side

Mochi with red beans and Annin Tofu - one of the best mochi and annin tofu desserts we have eaten in NYC.

Aburiya Kinnosuke on Urbanspoon