Thursday, April 14, 2011

Liberty in a Non-voting Partial Democracy

So I've been missing a particular kind of food. Just basic restaurant food. I suppose it's American but they have places like it all over the world. Someplace not too expensive, not fast food where I can get a big salad, or a burger and a beer. I love New York for this reason. The quality of the food there is so high that these basic beer and fries joints often make me emotional. Anyway in Hong Kong it is not the same. Simple western food restaurants seem to be WAY over-priced, or suck, or (often) both.

So, I was juiced to try out Liberty Exchange Kitchen and Bar. This place has been around a while (I really have no idea because I haven't been) but they just recently got a new chef Vicky Cheng who used to work at Daniel in NYC which is definitely a good sign for my needs. I interviewed Vicky as my first assignment for my magazine and he made a really good impression. He really sold me when he talked about his burger. We both shared the same disappointment with burgers in Hong Kong, and coming from Daniel I knew he at least knew what a burger should taste like.

Anyway, an opportunity arose this week and I went with a co-worker and her friends to check it out.

Oh! and before I forget, thanks to Jocelyn my gracious co-worker for the lovely pictures, even though they were taken on a blackberry they are WAY better than mine would have been.

Jocelyn ordered the french onion soup and was nice enough to share it with everyone. It was fine I suppose, just way under seasoned. Under seasoned to the point where she had to ask for salt and pepper and really DIY it. Also not very cheesy, but I suppose that's a personal preference thing.

Next up was the calamari. We weren't going to order this but then we saw that they were miso-marinated and served with a shiso mayonnaise. That sounded more interesting and we decided to go for it. They were fine. Typical basic fried calamari, which in itself was kind of nice in a way because it really reminded me of what I would order in a bar at home. That said, I couldn't taste the miso at all. Not at all. Although Jocelyn said she could detect a hint of it. Also I love shiso; I think its such a cool flavor, but the shiso mayo didn't really do it for me. Not enough of the shiso came through and I ended up dipping my little guys in the truffle mayo but more on that later...

Now we're talking. This burger was really nice. Not fancy, not crazy just nice. Really nice. One of my biggest problems (aside from all of the others) with Hong Kong burgers is the fat content. Even eating some of the better burgers out here is like eating a text-book. This burger had a perfect blend of meat and fat. It was juicy. Really really juicy and the butcher board it was served on proved its functionality by gathering all of my leavings in the blood groove. Nice touch. It was also cooked perfectly medium rare and lovely. Vicky mentioned in our interview that he was going to serve his burger with basil mayonnaise and that kind of freaked me out. Basil is just such an over-powering flavor. But, I have to say it worked really well and perfectly matched with the fattiness of the beef and the tomato confit (confit, people love that word these days).

Also, the fries are bangin. Straight up. Hot, crisp in the right places, soft in the right places and lightly dusted in salt and Parmesan. With the burger, the fries are served with ketchup but if you order them as a side they are served with truffle mayo. Of course we asked for some truffle mayo and here is where Liberty gets a lot of points from me, they brought out three tubs of truffle mayo, more than enough for everyone at the table even if they hadn't ordered any fries. And then they didn't charge us a penny for it! This is after I got the fries with truffle mayonnaise at Classified and was given a shallow thimble of the stuff. Good looks Liberty Exchange!

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