PEr FYI

December 31, 2014

Restoran Lee, Melaka…Obscenely Expensive

If you are feeling indulgent and just want to splurge (and sometimes, you’re on an unlimited expense account) or just want to dream about the places you’d eat if you won the lottery, Restoran Lee aka “Fei Li”(Fat Lee) is a great place to start. When budget is of no concern — and tolerance for rudeness and low ethics is high — then, only then, consider going to Restoran Lee. Let’s set the scene…

…….First turn off was that they told us the wait time for our food is an hour. But what they didn’t tell us was that they were still waiting for delivery of their crab supply for the night. The 4 customers on the table next to mine left at 7.30pm without having their crab after sitting there since 5.30pm…..

….Second turn off is the mediocre food. The rest of the food was “meh.”  The claypot tofu, lettuce, drunken prawns and sweet sour pork were nothing special really……

…..Third turn off was the unethical standards. You think that if they ran out of thick noodles for hokkien mee, they’ll inform you. HELL NO! They cook the hokkien mee with thin noodles (ee-mee) and expect you to eat it…..

…..Fourth turn off was the crabby/cranky wait staff and lady boss.  Seriously, did you realize you are in the service industry? After waiting for 1.5 hours, they served us black pepper crab and when told we ordered Carnation Crab (aka Milk crab), we waited for another 20 minutes and were served salted egg crab, which we rejected. The Carnation crab – when it finally landed – is not bad BUT not worth the RM250 price tag……

This place sucks… It REALLY sucks… I mean REALLY REALLY REALLY sucks. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 28, 2014

Corner Bakery Cafe, Washington DC…..Great morning food

The Corner Bakery Cafe is one of my favorite things about DC. This location is very large, with nice interiors and moves through the busy lines quickly.

It also has tons of different options including the soup and salad or sandwich combos. Their huge and delicious muffins, and pastries never disappoint. The name says it all! The bread and butter of Corner Bakery are their pastries. They make THE softest and moistest muffins you’ll EVER bite into. The Anaheim scrambler in all its mouth-watering glory comprised of – scrambled eggs, sauteed bacon, tomatoes, green onion, cheddar cheese, avocado. Nothing beats good quality ingredients and simplicity. Bacon and cheddar panini – scrambled eggs, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese on sourdough –  is just that. And fear not… there’s zero dryness. Prices are cheaper than Panera as well.

The staff here are SO nice. Dedicated to making sure you have a great experience, they continuously wow me and win me over with their smiles, niceness and even bringing the food to our table very quickly.

I am 100% absolute that Corner Bakery Cafe will corner the market pretty soon. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 21, 2014

T.G.I Friday’s, New York City…far from the pinnacle of American cuisine, but they are decent

First I should say, I have never been all that crazy about this chain restaurant in the first place. Let me be clear on that. They’re far from the pinnacle of American cuisine, but they’re not terrible – they are decent.

Waking away from watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after 3.5 hours of standing by the roadside on 6th Avenue in the blistering wind and light snow, we tried to get into a couple of restaurants in Times Square but was told that waiting time is at least 30 minutes. We took a chance and jumped into the next restaurant with vacant tables, TGI Friday’s. Like all the TGI’s I’ve been to, the walls at this TGI Friday’s at Times Square are covered with everything but the kitchen sink.

We had the slow-cooked, fall-off-the-bone (or should I say peel-off-the-bone) tender and juicy baby back pork ribs basted in Tennessee BBQ sauce, then fire-grilled and served with seasoned fries and ginger-lime slaw; and the Philly Stacked Burger (Braised shredded beef, mozzarella, Asiago & Parmesan, roasted cremini mushrooms, spicy giardiniera and green onion between two fresh burgers with Swiss cheese, horseradish spread, onion bacon jam and peppered bacon). The food was pretty damn good – definitely not the horrific, inedible trash-heap I was expecting – but the staff and general lack of care for customers negated all that. But…the ribs…I will return just for the ribs.

The prices were steep — most of the entrees are between $20-$30, with the sandwiches in the upper teens — but what else could you expect from a restaurant in Times Square? You’ll get the same at the Hard Rock or Bubba Gump nearby. This is the true truth, as I say it as it is…

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December 20, 2014

Panera Bread, Washington DC…reliable, tasty, somewhat healthy

I have a love hate relationship with the Panera Bread. Love the food. Panera is officially my go to spot for bread and soup…they have a large variety of bread, pastries, and sandwiches. Hate the lacklustre service staff. Panera is also the first in its industry to post calorie information voluntarily at all company-owned cafes.

I always go for the “Pick 2” option which allows you to combine 2 of the following: Half Pasta · Cup of Soup · Half Sandwich · Half Salad.  It comes to around $9-10 but more than anything else, it is the perfect portion size for me! Their soups especially when served in the soup bread bowl, are so DELISH and good enough to pop up in my dreams!!! The bread had a nice crunch to and it was fresh.

I am not saying Panera Bread is the best place ever.  But then again, there are times when you are not looking to be fancy and you need a reliable, tasty, somewhat healthy (oh, the sodium!) meal and Panera is just the spot. This is the true truth as I say it as it is….

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December 14, 2014

Lombardi’s, New York City…put it on your pizza bucket list

This pizza “shrine” is recognized as the first pizzeria in the United States, opened by Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi in 1897 and eventually received a license for his restaurant by the city of New York in 1905. Zagat rated it “the best pizza on the planet.

Brick walls, red-and-white checkered tablecloths, the nostalgic atmosphere exudes a feeling of old New York.   Service is efficient, quick, and friendly.

Their menu isn’t very extensive at all.

First, pizza or calzone?

If pizza, White Pizza or Margherita Pizza?

Size, Small or Large?

Any Extra toppings? $3 each for premium ones and $2 for regular ones.

Our masterpiece was a small 14 inch pizzas, sliced into 6 pieces. Half original margherita (the sauce was deeply flavoured, a rich and concentrated tomato sensation) with large chunks of fresh mozzarella, fresh crushed tomato sauce, topped with Romano and fresh basil, and half white pizza (no sauce), fresh mozza, ricotta, romano, fresh garlic, oregano, black pepper and fresh basil. The mozzarella were certainly fresh resulting in an almost greaseless slice. The premium toppings – pepperoni, sweet Italian sausage – were also top quality. We also had a couple of regular toppings – fresh wild mushrooms and sliced tomatoes. Put those cutleries away, this is NYC pizza, duh, you pick this sucker up, fold it and get busy. The crust was perfect from the oven, blackened bottom, slightly crunchy but just chewy enough.

One thing you should know about Lombardi’s is that it’s cash only.

The first pizzeria in America, and from my experience Lombardi’s isn’t technically the best slice on the planet, but good enough to make gluttony the order of the night. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 13, 2014

Museum Café/Kabila Filipino Bistro, Manila…One of the most relaxed and enjoyable places to eat casually in Makati

Museum Café, aka M is a restaurant with a Pinoy fusion menu opposite the entrance to the Ayala Museum that looks on to the Greenbelt complex’s lush gardens. An alternate Modern Asian menu is also available to make your deciding what to eat a notch more challenging. You can choose to be seated on either the right (Museum Café) or the left side of the room (Kabila). You can also cross-order from either menu. The  Kabila Filipino cuisine here is high up there for me – head and shoulders above Fely J’s in terms of flair and selection.

But what sets this place apart is the quality of the dishes.  The presentation of the food is captivating.  The aroma, inviting.  The taste, fresh and innovative…. What else can you ask for? From the comments of everyone on the table, everything was delicious!!!

One of the most relaxed and enjoyable places to eat casually in Makati, the traditional dishes are tastefully reinterpreted into a variety of intriguing new dishes, albeit with familiar flavor combinations. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 10, 2014

Coastal Flats, Washington DC…the best seafood is no longer relegated to the coastline

Coastal Flats specializes in American seafood fare. The tropical decor at the entrance – a colorful metal fish hanging from the ceiling above the hostess stand – reminded me of theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe but I was pleasantly surprised. Our waitress was friendly, cheery, engaging and knew her facts about the menu. The restaurant is located in Tyson’s Corner – my absolute fav mall in Washington DC.

It didn’t start well. The classic crab and corn chowder turned out to be “big time salt lick.” They over-seasoned with salt and it buried the expected sweetness of the corn. It was a seriously salty soup. Just avoid the salt shaker for the rest of the day. Grouper fingers – an arsenal of crisply fried fillets (all meat, no filler) in coastal flats lager beer battered tartar sauce, accompanied with shoestring fries and extra chunky home made coleslaw – was very fresh and true to its word, crispy, perfectly fried and generously portioned. I sometimes run out of adjectives to replace words like ”really good” and this is one of those times. Jumbo lump crab cake sauteed with fries and coleslaw were also amazingly crispy and flavorful.  Lord, lord, it was heaven in my mouth!! It was the second place so far for me where I got to eat really good crab cakes, the first being at Old Ebbit’s Grill.

The best seafood is no longer relegated to the coastline. Coastal Flats is an interesting experience – and you’ll be amply rewarded for taking the plunge. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 7, 2014

Nougatine at Jean Georges, New York City…Fabulous, fantastic, formidable – any and all would describe Nougatine

It was quite an experience to dine at Nougatine at Jean-Georges and one of the best meals I’ve had in NYC.   It is the less formal of the Jean Georges restaurants and this classy casual restaurant shares the same kitchen and even a few of the same dishes (such as the classic Jean-Georges warm chocolate cake), as the 3 star Michelin JG.

I can’t say enough about how great the service was. Service is incredible from start to finish – extremely polite and gracious hosting staff, knowledgeable waiters and an awesome, phenomenal manager – Julian Bruell.  I mentioned that we have to leave by 6.30pm as we were watching a musical at 8. The service was very accommodating and friendly. They sat us at 5.20pm even before the restaurant’s official opening time of 5.30. Glasses were frequently being refilled, our waiter was very polite and attentive, and the timing of the food was spot on. At every course, our dishes were placed in front of us at the same time. I wish I had service like this everywhere.

The fried calamari with basil salt was flavoured perfectly and the citrus-chili dip was so delicious I wanted to dip everything in it! The slowly cooked salmon with sautéed potatoes, black olive and passion fruit was tender like butter and just the perfect visual spectacle. However, towards the middle of the fish, the sauce was way to sour and overpowering. With Jean Georges signature warm chocolate cake with the iced, cold vanilla bean ice-cream, I was reminded how I would get a molten chocolate cake as part of my last meal on earth. It was like a match made in heaven! No one can do chocolate cake like Mr. Jean-Georges.

This will be my “go-to” restaurant everytime I am in NYC. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 6, 2014

Umami Burger, New York City…Underwhelming Umami

The chain that forever “changed the burger game”. The “finest burger in all the land.” The owner Alan Richman himself described the burger as “half beef, half beyond belief.”

I ordered a Truffle Burger ad truffle fries. They were the saddest fries I’ve seen. Lukewarm and almost limp, they were glued together by a congealed, paste-like substance that might have once been gooey, melted truffle cheese. The burger arrives, stamped with a thick capital U in purplish vegetable ink. The Truffle Burger was grilled to a perfect medium rare with a crisp, caramelized crust, the texture of the meat nostalgically reminiscent of meatloaf.  ‘Umami’ is the word for savory in Japanese. The  focus is on ramping up the umami flavor (the hard-to-pinpoint fifth taste, after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, best exemplified by MSG) in almost every component of the burger. It was a really good burger, but for all the umami bluster isn’t notably different from other good burgers around town. Game-changing? no.

After all the hype, Umami Burger truly underwhelms. It just doesn’t hold up against similar burgers in its price range  or even the far superior, and slightly cheaper Five Guys and Shake Shack. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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