May 26, 2013

Kafe Betawi, Jakarta…affordable soto betawi that is fairly good in every spoonful of soup

If you feel like having local food but don’t want to go to “warung” (or food stall), Kafe Betawi is a perfect alternative for you minus the ambience – watching the food street sellers prepare and cook the food directly in front of you on their carts.

Soto Betawi is native to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Unlike the other types of soto which normally have quite clear or transparent yellowish broth, Soto Betawi has a more curry-like flavour due to its use of coconut milk. Made with beef meat or beef offal and cooked in a cow’s milk or coconut milk broth, fried potato and tomato are then added for extra oomph. It is usually served with a plate of steaming hot, fragrant rice. The ones served here in Kafe betawi is rich, aromatic and fairly good in every spoonful of soup. Not life-changing stuff, though.

Prices are very affordable and the service is fast and friendly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


May 19, 2013

Brasserie Gavroche, Singapore…not so FAB

In my opinion the most reliable test of a french restaurant trained chef is the escargots, and it just lacked any real depth of flavour or sense of accomplishment, the rest of the meal followed suit. I’m not describing my escargots plate, let’s just say I’d rather to stay hungry than eat it again.

None of the food wowed me.  I made the mistake of bringing a business partner there and let me just say if it wasn’t for the company the experience would have been ruined. The Crepe Suzette was a disaster that tasted like a bottle of peroxide – too booze-y for my taste. Though the shrimp and avocado salad and pan roasted grouper and scallop were not bad, I expected a ton of flavour but didn’t get it.

Bottom line – not so FAB. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


May 12, 2013

Din Tai Fung, Taipei…service was very Disney-good and the xiaolongbao was like a party in my mouth.

This is one of the most well-known exports of Taiwan… the famous dumpling empire which serves delicious steamed dumplings aka xiaolongbao (literally translated to “little dragon buns”). During the past 20 years the restaurant has become so famous and they have a lot of branches in many countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, USA and Australia. The one I went to in Taipei was the Taipei 101 store where I got to rub shoulders with dumpling pilgrims from at least 10 countries. What’s not to like?

Despite the immense number of customers, Din Tai Fung’s service is fast and very Disney-good, and its food lives up to its fame. The xiaolongbao was special in that it tasted hot and aromatically fresh with the `juices’ inside flowing out to the tongue as we took a bite. It’s best to gently pick up so the very delicate skin of the dumpling is not broken causing  the `juices’ to drain out. The taste? It’s like a party in my mouth. It’s unbelievable!

Queues are sometimes part and parcel of a good dining experience. Here, they tell you roughly how long the wait is. Clearly the patient crowd doesn’t begrudge the wait. Not enough to walk away, anyway. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


May 4, 2013

San Want Hotel, Taipei…time for this hotel to join the 21st century

If you are looking for a modern, classy place this may not be the best place for you, but if you want clean rooms with a lot of space and a great price I would suggest you give them a try.

There is absolutely nothing modern about the rooms. Everything does have a very 70s hotel feel to it, from wallpaper to furniture to the box TV on a swivel. … you’re starting to get the picture here. There is free wifi but the signal and signal strength is not good at all areas. Other than that it’s a decent place. The rooms aren’t huge, but they are plenty spacious.

If there’s one thing I like about this hotel, location is key salient point. Just a few minutes walk, you will find lots of restaurants, shopping malls, and one of Taipei’s most famous night market (Rao He) is just a 15 minutes taxi-ride away. The mass transit station which connects to major tourist sites is a stone’s throw away such as the Sun Yat sen memorial. There’s even a 24-hour bookstore nearby. You will never feel lonely in this area.

 Having said all that, it’s time for this hotel to join the 21st century & update the product and improve it’s wifi. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


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