I've been asking around for Hong Kong advice lately, as I'll be spending the next two weekends there (working during the week). One of the more interesting things I've found is the concept of Home Kitchens, or "speakeasy" restaurants.
...the intimate eating places that have sprung up in people's homes and have become, for locals and those in the know, some of the best places to eat on the island. The speakeasies started several years ago when some Hong Kongese, gastronomes and cooks with limited means, decided to set up one or two tables in their sitting rooms and offer a fixed-price, multicourse menu of distinctive home-style dishes.
This New York Times article describes and recommends, and has some great photos.
Mouth watering already...
Aimee and I are off to NYC this weekend to spend my birthday at my brother's apartment in Brooklyn with my parents. Since we've been taking thai cooking classes, we plan to shop for and cook one of the nights we're there. To prep, by brother Peter gathered some info about shopping for thai ingredients in NYC. Here's his info:
I just talked to this woman who knows everything about food everywhere, and this is the Thai grocery store advice she gave me.
The best place in the city is Bangkok Center Grocery, 104 Mosco Street, 349-1979. Nong is the owner, and she's nice. Mosco St. is a one-block street between Mott and Mulberry. South of Pell, North of Chatham Square. There's a curry paste there that gets flown into the country every Thursday that's amazing.
Also, the Bangkok Center Grocery web site linked to the Temple of Thai, templeofthai.com, which seems excellent.
Aimee and I started taking a Thai cooking class last week in Oakland. The class meets for 4 hours each monday for 4 weeks. The first week was two curries, a hot and sour stir-fry, and coconut/banana dessert. The teacher, Kasma Loha-unchit has a comfortable philosophy and approach. Previous students have reported that:
The classes provided a great foundation. I learned all the main ingredients, the basic ways to work with them, and came away with a base set of recipes that I knew worked. Perhaps most important, I was beginning to understand the concept of harmonizing primary flavors.
One great aspect of the class is all the tasting we get to do. While making the curry, we initially tasted the base paste, then took incremental tastes as the sugar, salt and other core flavors were added. This approach gives an understanding of how all the elements fit together, instead of just learning color-by-numbers recipes.
In addition to the incremental tastings during cooking, we are also learning how to shop at the market. We examinded Fish Sauces and Coconut Milk last week. Kasma has about eight varieties of canned coconut milk. We opened them all as tasted. It was amazing how much variety there was from one to the next. Some were very light, others were nearly solid. There are two or more brands that look almost identical. One is the worst of the bunch, the other is the best available product. The good one has A OK in the middle of it's name; the bad one ends with DOC. Remember, one is A-OK while the bad one will send you to the DOCtor. They are both pitured here: