PEr FYI

February 28, 2016

Naughty Nuri’s, Singapore…pigs needn’t die for this dish

One of the most anticipated openings this year in Singapore, Naughty Nuri crashed and burned right out of the gate.

Naughty Nuri’s signature ribs were a whole of impressive-looking but dull tasting, not-even-warm and indistinct ribs. For me, pork ribs should have an exterior that’s caramelised and a little firm, giving way to a smoky, tender and moderately moist interior. The indistinguishable ribs served here should have been saved for someone’s pet dog. Pigs needn’t die for this dish. The saving grace is that the subtly spiced beef rending – slowed cooked short ribs in coconut milk – is really delightful.The falling-apart-tender meat and the thick, rich sauce was a heady combination.

Naughty Nuri’s calling card is, after all, the half rack and full rack sticky ribs. I don’t care for that and neither should you. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 27, 2016

Loke Thye Kee Restaurant, Penang…disappointingly bad

Believe it or not, but apparently, Loke Thye Kee, or love boat as it was affectionately known, was once the choice venue of family gathering. To eat here, I was told is that you are in the presence of greatness, while the evidence of my senses tells me that I am in the presence of, at best, okayness. Let’s face it: times have changed drastically. Today, it’s so sub “standard”. Soooo over rated it’s unbelievable.

The people who work in Loke Thye Kee were warm and gracious but the food was another story. The hainanese set – kaya & butter toast, soft boiled eggs and kopi was very ordinary. The spread were woefully lacking richness and savouriness. The nasi lemak and chicken curry was as exciting as hotel buffet fare. For all its past glories, the restaurant is terribly, terribly sad.

Is Loke Thye Kee worth the time and money? In and of itself, no. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 21, 2016

Pizza Express, Hong Kong…I’ve never had anything quite like this Peking duck pizza

I love pizza. It can do no wrong. So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this Chinese-owned former British restaurant chain in the Hong Kong airport. Pizza Express is the sort of smart-casual pizzeria without breaking the bank. I told them I need to have a quick lunch as I have a flight to catch and I did not have to wait long for my pizza. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Most pizzas are big enough to share; you’d need a huge appetite to get all that food down solo. I had the innovative and exotic Peking duck pizza – Spiced duck, hoisin sauce, chilli, spring onions, cucumber (no tomato) – did taste like a duck pancake, flavoursome – sweet and spicy – which enhances the taste of the soft roasted duck meat. Gourmet pizza it is not but it’s not supposed to be.

This is truly an outstanding Asian twist to pizza.I’ve had a few pizzas in my time, and I’ve never had anything quite like this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 20, 2016

Nasi Lemak Tanglin, Kuala Lumpur…Number one? Surely not in my books!

Allow me to use a metaphor.  Nasi Lemak Tanglin is like Manchester United…the team looks good on paper, but it does not deliver during the regular season.  I was disappointed to say the least.

Everyone is talking about it and everyone is recommending it…I was expecting something big. Having been voted Food Wars Asia Nasi Lemak Champion, everyone seem to be raving that its one of the best nasi lemaks in town.

The sambal sotong and beef rendang were a real let down. These are the two basic staple accompanying dishes to nasi lemak, and they can’t get basics right. Definite skip.

So what’s the big fuss behind it? Number one? Surely not in my books! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 14, 2016

Lido di Manhattan Ristorante & Bar, Los Angeles…vodka pasta at a Kitchen Nightmares restaurant

Whether you’re craving a simple plate of spaghetti and meatballs, or an osso buco that melts in your mouth, there’s an abundance of Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. Wanting to go beyond specialty pizzerias and ho-hum red sauce joints, I landed in Lido di Manhattan Ristorante & Bar at Manhattan Beach.

The restaurant itself is beautiful, with a modern, spacious layout. The menu itself is pretty extensive and looks very enticing. Stepping out of my comfort zone, I ordered Lido’s famous vodka pasta – prosciutt0, basil, shallots, garlic, Lido’s famous spicy vodka sauce, tossed with penne. It was good but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Overall I would rate it as so-so. The food was okay. The service was fair

After dining here, I’d found out that this restaurant was featured on Kitchen Nightmares Season 3 Episode 5. Who would have thought?! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 9, 2016

Him Heang, Penang…TASTY! I want a lifetime supply!

Apart from assam laksa and char kway teow, Penang is famous for its tau sar pheah. Although Ghee Hiang was the pioneer, Him Heang is now the standard bearer. Traditional Chinese biscuits are of course a very personal matter. For what is ostensibly a simple concept—you know, biscuits—Him Heang has built a tyranny of choice.

Tambun biscuits or Tau sar pheah is by far the strongest part of the menu: there is nothing I sampled here that I wouldn’t recommend. Rather compact and dense but still flaky, they taste like a mung bean and butter party in my mouth; each ball full of loveliness and crave-starting. I NEED MORE!

It’s good value for money. I’d buy these for my grandma, if she was still around. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 8, 2016

Toast Box, Singapore…WARNING IF YOU LIKE YOUR FOOD ROACH-FREE DO NOT EAT HERE!!!!!!!!!!!

What’s for breakfast? A cockroach, if you’re eating at Toast Box. No one ever expects to find anything unsavoury in places where they eat, do they? Well go to one of these Toast Box joints and you may have some extra company…

It doesn’t seem like the staff at a single branch is at fault, but rather there is something acutely wrong with Toast Box, the organization, that results in their outlets harbouring one of the most loathsome insects in our habitat: cockroaches. Once the bugs were spotted at the City Square Mall outlet and thrice they were seen at the Shaw Centre eatery.

Here’s the scoop. At Toast Box, City Square Mall, two roaches were seen running around the area where the unwashed cutleries, utensils and plates and bowls were stacked. I wish I could have told the couple who was enjoying their breakfast what happened, but I had to rush out to puke in a nearby toilet. The critters were sighted on three different breakfast occasions at the Shaw Centre branch. The first time, one was scurrying around on a packet of nasi lemak, another time near the cash register. Not too long ago a colleague alerted me that she saw a roach crawling ON a bun in the display shelf.

I don’t like seeing roaches but if I see one creature, I’m usually not put off. I consider it part of living in a city. In an urban setting, keeping roaches in check is a constant battle. You can run a restaurant as clean as an operating room. But if the situation constantly occurs in the same chain but different outlets, it’s clearly an issue.

My taste buds were assaulted by the grim discoveries – in a very, very bad way. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 6, 2016

Restoran Yut Kee, Kuala Lumpur…borderline Discovery Channel good. Indulge.

A kopitiam is a traditional “coffee shop” in Malaysia and Singapore. The hainanese community is well-known to run or own kopitiams. There’s the Starbucks and Coffee Beans of this world but kopitiam is the kind of place where you find yourself a cheap honest-to-goodness cuppa joe.

Yut Kee has been serving local-style brew and traditional Hainanese fare since 1928. Roti Babi (literally translated: pork bread) could be considered a savory french toast stuffed with pulled pork. It is crazy good. That’s why you’re here. Indulge. As for the kaya toast, the “kaya” (coconut jam) here was one of the best I’d ever had. The taste is one you won’t soon forget: luscious, even creamy, delivering seriously potent flavour….enough to make my mouth water. I could have finished the jar straight up spoon-to-mouth.

Short story shorter, the roti babi and kaya toast are borderline Discovery Channel good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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