PEr FYI

August 31, 2016

South Beauty, Beijing…Honestly, not bad!

Aside from the Cantonese style of Chinese food which has long been dominant, Sichuan has become by far the most popular region for Chinese restaurants. South Beauty, as you might have guessed, specialises in Sichuan dishes.

Go for the signature crisp chicken which is beautifully crispy, tender and delicious, or, if you can stomach it, the signature braised streaky pork with chili sauce – beautifully presented in a striking eartherware pot. It’s good – soft, wobbly, erotic and very fatty. Leave your arteries at the door.

Nice decor, not too fancy, not too touristy and divey.  The service was quick and efficient.

This place does a fine job of the Sichuan Province’s dishes and at prices that won’t empty your wallet, too. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 28, 2016

Hiang Ji Roasted Meat Noodle House, Singapore…a blatant rip-off

So what makes a bad restaurant? Obviously dreadful food is a hurdle, then there’s surly waiting staff, a dingy atmosphere, woeful decor and the crucial litmus–value for money. If there’s something that really niggles, it’s being ripped off.

To be fair, Hiang Ji in Toa Payoh, which I’ve taken a dislike to clearly isn’t the worst in Singapore. Rather, it’s the most disappointing.

I do believe in paying the proper price for food. So I’m not advocating dirt-cheap restaurants. Likewise, as I said, the very best restaurants are worth their huge bills, which is why I and many other people save up to go to them. But when places like Hiang Ji charge full whack for extreme portions, it really annoys me. A small sharing platter can be of different sizes and prices, depending on the kitchen’s whims and fancies. No amount of feedback nor complain will get them to change it for you.

A meal here could cost the price of rent in some cities. While that’s an exaggeration, it’s best to avoid this place and just go with the others if you’re going to spend the money and get the best roast meat possible. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

worst of the worst sin tpy

August 27, 2016

Jiu Fen Old Street, Taipei…winning combination of crazy good food vendors and a bustling stretch of shopping

Jiufen is a great mini-trip out of Taipei, less than an hour away. With gorgeous views of the ocean, quaint streets and beautiful tea houses, Jiufen thrives as a trousit spot for a taste of Taiwan culture and history. When it first formed, there were only nine families, so the city would always request “nine portions” when shipments came in, hence the name.

Jiu Fen Old Street is series of narrow alleys which feature stand after stand of local snacks and handmade souvenirs. Be prepared to shove past throngs of tourists crammed into the narrow alleys. The offer samples of ginger tea which brings with it a host of powerful health benefits. Another popular food item is the mochi – glutinous rice balls which are as soft as marshmallows.

Don’t worry, there alleys are all covered by awning should the heavens open. It’s worth planning an adventure to Jiufen as well as an obligatory stroll down Old Street. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 21, 2016

The Baboon House, Melaka…zen burger-eating mode

Yes, we’ve seen about every permutation of burgers by this point. The Baboon House is an unsung hero in a world of overstuffed and overpriced burgers.

Inside is a space that more closely resembles a dense garden than a restaurant. Beaten up wooden tables and chairs punctuate grubby shelves and art-strewn walls in a nice natural lush tropical environment.

The basic menu is short, to-the-point and has possibly the best burger readily available to most Malaccans. Baboon special aloha cheeseburger is a delightful assault on the senses. The homemade bun is perfectly soft. The juicy baboon beef patty is thin enough to not be a belly bomb and are accompanied by a profusion of cheddar cheese, grilled cheese, streaky pork bacon and fresh veggies. The Oriental chicken burger was also simple and spot on and the tropical lemongrass drink (lemongrass, lemon and honey) complements the food very well.

You will surely be in zen burger-eating mode. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

baboon house melaka

August 20, 2016

Forbidden Planet, London…A visually amazing giant store to satisfy your inner geek

Ah, nerd mecca. They have things ranging from Pokemon to Magic of the Gathering. There’s a little geek in all of us and there’s something for everyone here especially Marvel induced euphoria. Don’t judge me.

This is probably a great treasure trove when it comes to comic books, movie memorabilia and everything that’s geeky – from collectibles and action figures over toys and fashion to stickers. Upstairs you’ll find all the merchandise, including the glass wall of statues that I’ll always want, but never need or own. Dr Who seems to be the fat cash cow together with Marvel superheroes. Star Wars fans will find their heads spinning from the galaxy of merchandizes to choose from. Then downstairs are the comics, graphic novels, dvds and books and more books and comics.

A visually amazing giant store to satisfy your inner geek. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

forbidden planet lhr

August 14, 2016

Le Scossa, Paris…makes you go ooh la la

Set on the corner of the busy Victor Hugo Place, Le Scossa is in almost every way an unexpected find. A particularly cosy and beautiful restaurant full of French charm, good food, friendly service, it is also great for people watching.

For starters, I had escargot – they call it Snails XXL on the menu – which was the best I had in Paris on my most recent trip. That and “the real pepper steak, 200gr beef filet” are high points. Both were masterpieces of seething, aggressive flavor. The steak cut was tender, well-marbled and oozed blood-tinted jus. The finesses of the cooking here are shining examples of why the French have for so long led the world when it comes to gastronomy.

A dignified gem, Le Scossa couldn’t feel much more Parisian. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 13, 2016

Addiction Aquatic Development, Taipei…not pilgrimage-worthy

Is the experience is actually worth the money? It’s questionable. If you are looking for fresh and good quality rather than value for money, go for it.

The restaurant makes it a point to emphasize the freshness of the seafood. That’s the good news.

The bad news is I had a less-than-stellar experience at the bizzarely-named Addiciton Aquatic Development. Despite its very passionate reviews, the seafood tends to fall somewhere between bland and unremarkable.  None of this freshness matters much. The final bill was hefty and I was still hungry and highly disappointed. Frankly, I have trouble understanding what the fuss is all about.

Sometimes, the chorus of public opinion isn’t a good thing. I was unimpressed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 12, 2016

Coliseum Cafe, Kuala Lumpur…can anyone save Coliseum?

Coliseum Cafe has been withering for years, the decline reflected in any number of data points — from the emptiness of the place at peak lunchtime to the dull and bland food they dish out. Coliseum has long been one of the great institutions of KL society. Yet this decline is far from a recent phenomenon.

The real surprise is that anyone should be surprised. It’s no real mystery why the one-time dominance of hainanese chicken-chop and steakhouse has receded. The hainanese chicken chop was on the dry side with underwhelming sauce. It was a LESS THAN 1 STAR experience.

Now, I am not suggesting that there’s any kind of death knell for Coliseum forthcoming. But don’t be surprised if one day your former favourite steakhouse turns into a Taiwanese restaurant or a place that serves boat noodles. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

coliseum kl1

August 9, 2016

818 Durians & Pastries, Singapore…unpredictable quality at higher prices

Mao Shan Wang  aka musang kings have become a cult hit. The Mao Shan Wangs I know and love are usually a satisfying, glowing hue the color of turmeric. They are dense and utterly smooth and homogeneously creamy interior.

The ones here are not as they should be…though they are sold at premium prices.

People often assume that there’s a straightforward relationship between price and quality—a low price indicates something is of low quality; a high price indicates it’s high quality. If you find yourself considering 818 Durians & Pastries, be prepared for one thing: unpredictable quality at higher prices. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

818 sin

August 7, 2016

Duck & Waffle,London…lip-smackingly eye-rollingly, hand-claspingly yummy

First thing you notice up on the 40th floor is the charming bejewelled views over London like a shameless plunge of shiny moisturised cleavage. To my mind, duck doesn’t go with waffles in the same way that hot dogs don’t complement champagne but this is London and I am an open-minded bloke.

The menu is refreshingly affordable. The title dish is a hunk of crisp-skinned duck confit on a fluffy waffle topped with a fried duck egg and a pot of mustard maple syrup. Texturally – the runny egg yolk against the chewy meat against the squidge of the waffle – was an ace combo. The seared octopus was also very big on flavour.

Duck & Waffle opens 24 hours a day, though who eats there at 4am I don’t know. One thing I do know: I’ve made it a new addition to my little black book – I’m going back there again the next time I’m in London.  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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