PEr FYI

September 25, 2016

Temple of heaven, Beijing…A haven for the lazy art of people watching

Located south of the Forbidden City, the original Altar of Heaven and Earth was completed together with the Forbidden City, which was later renamed the Temple of Heaven in the reign of Emperor Jiajing. It was here that the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifice to heaven and prayed for bumper harvests. Tiantan Park as it is otherwise known, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Unlike the Forbidden City with its majestic awe, if I had to name one thing I love about Temple of Heaven, it would be the unique Chinese park life. It is hard to think of better scenes to partake in people watching. Silver-haired citizens doing line dancing and tai chi or squaring off on chinese chess.There’s the impromptu performances of Chinese opera and jam sessions with traditional chinese instruments like the pipa and erhu. Then there’s my old childhood game “chapteh” ( Jianzi) played by senior folks. During this game, these silent generation players keep the shuttlecock (with a rubber sole/plastic disk) off the ground using their feet and other body parts, but not their hands. There was around 70 people patting their thighs 30 times, then their knees, shoulders, backs and heads to allow their Qi to flow freely. There were a few who were shouting, almost yodelling: “voice exercises”. Several people appear to be wrestling with trees, gripping trunks and pushing against them.

I love this lazy art of observing and admiring unique cultures and happenings of day-to-day park life in China. Next to no skills needed, other than some discreet positioning. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

temple-of-heaven-tpe

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September 24, 2016

Patty & Bun, London…it’s hard not to be seduced

A good burger is a thing of beauty, a satisfying, messy manifestation of all things umami.

The main event is the Ari Gold. From the first, slightly salty bite I was won over. Sloppy, sauce-dribbling-down-your-fingers-tasty, it’s the best burger I’ve ever had in London. The perfectly pink, almost blushing beef patty is unbelievably juicy, without being sloppy. The bun is soft enough not to put up a fight, but strong enough to the job of keeping it all together.The toppings of cheese, jammy caramelised onions, ketchup, just-crisp-enough smoky bacon and “P&B mayo” meld together happily.

The atmosphere couldn’t be more laid-back: tables are bare. And boy, those calories are worth it. This is the true truth as Isay it as it is…

pattybun-lhr3

patty-bun-lhr1

September 23, 2016

Harum Manis, Jakarta…overpriced-poor-pretentious food

Let us not beat about the bush: this is overpriced-poor-pretentious food.

Despite being a traditional Indonesian restaurant, their menu is in 3 languages – Indonesian, English and Japanese.

The food, like the restaurant’s patrons, looked good from a distance but on closer inspection turned out to be rather unappetising. The prawns were perfectly decent, but the bebek panggang spesial Harum Manis (braised & char-grilled baby duckling over multi-grains) was revolting. The soto betawi khas harum manis (hearty coconut cream soup, filled with beef shank, beef tripe, beef sweet meat, potatoes, tomatoes, green onion, sliced lime and small chili sauce) was not as good as its off-the-shelf equivalents in Hero or Ranch Market.

The food served up in Harum Manis is a disgrace. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

harum-manis-jkt1

September 12, 2016

Cafe de Hong Kong, Singapore…It can be good, but it’s not going to blow your mind or anything

Cafe de Hong Kong sounds like the name of a char chaan teng and it looks like one, too, with bare functional tables.This is, after all, a zi char place full of Cantonese staples.

From that menu we ordered bonito flavoured spare rib which arrived as something intense and deep and savoury and powerful and, to be more precise, thoroughly yum. As dish descriptions go, braised pan fried prawn and mushroom omelette is never going to win a literary prize. Mind you, it was accurate and tasted compelling. There was another thing to try: garlic flavoured roast chicken. And… oh, you get the idea.

The extensive menu at Cafe de Hong Kong remains unexplored. I’ll leave it for another day. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

de hk sin2

de hk sin1

September 11, 2016

Tsunami Village, Penang…Nothing on the menu would drag me in again

Dining out at a waterfront restaurant is all about simple pleasures. But not just any table will do — the food, after all, has to live up to the setting.

Here, the baked lobster with cheese, crab salted egg and prawn wine are more like upscale pub grub. It is good in the way seafood is good – but it lacks complexity, sophistication and the wow ­factor. The others are a mixed bag. The clam kam heong’s sambal was nice but the clams were so small, they might as well serve a couple of magnifying glass with the dish. The fried chai tak with garlic was so-so while the fried mix ho fun and mee hoon was the only well-executed dish.

Nothing on the menu at Tsunami Village would drag me in again to pay with my own money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

tsunami village pg4

tsunami villages pg3

September 4, 2016

Shilin Market, Taipei…bring an appetite

Taiwanese night markets are a not-to-be-missed experience. Flying the flag for night markets is Shilin – perhaps the most famous and biggest Taiwanese night market.

Crowded and squeezy, the maze of alleyways is filled with clusters of hundreds of small stalls and street vendors selling a variety of local delicacies. Try everything  from skewered cuttlefish to fresh fruit to Taiwanese sausages to two of the market’s most iconic dishes: pan-fried buns and slabs of fried chicken cutlets. To decide what to eat, wander around and let your eyes and nose make the selection for you. This vibrant and colourful market blends street food with local souvenirs, designers, textiles, homeware and jewellery for a well-rounded market experience.

If you’re food-obsessed but don’t have the disposable income for Taipei’s best restaurants, Shilin is your saviour. Entry is free. The food, of course, is not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

shilin taipei

September 3, 2016

Sea Shell of Lisson Grove, London…from legend to myth

London just wouldn’t be London without a helping of fish and chips.

Sadly, I never expect to have an order of cod and chips as sad as the one served to me at Sea Shell of Lisson Grove. Certainly not at this London restaurant dedicated to fish and chips. Many years ago, on my first visit here, the hunk of cod had an unbelievably crispy exterior. The flaky insides are just as moist as you could ever want and the fries were among the best you’ll find. On my recent visit, though, it’s now the overly greasy, chewy gut bombs you’ll find at a lot of beachside eateries. The fries are unspectacular, limp and without life.

Sea Shell of Lisson Grove has just gone from London legend to London myth. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

seashell lhr2

sea shells lhr1

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