PEr FYI

May 11, 2019

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai…a coffee-lover’s Disneyland

Once upon a time, Starbucks prompted millions of consumers to do away with cheaper instant coffee for a more expensive specialty product. With this Reserve Roastery, it is third-wave coffee.

Upscale, and they feature cocktail bars, bakeries, snake-like tubes that transport beans across the store and unique elements, this roastery is completely unlike a typical Starbucks. There are tons of food and coffee options, plus plenty of places to sit and stay for a while with staffers navigating selections the way a sommelier might do with a wine list.

Indeed the food and drinks are, well, a few stars better than your standard Starbucks offerings. My personal favorite is the dark chocolate mocha, which is just sweet enough with a good bitter bite from the espresso. Milanese bakery Princi provides the food, notable ones are cheesecake lampone, carrot loaf cake and torta princi.

Looking around, I see coffee fiends pilgrimage here from all over. You’ll hear different languages, see a spectrum of generations, and many different styles of clothing. If you’re a coffee lover, you won’t want to miss this stop.

This massive, gleaming roastery is the Starbucks Mecca. Translation: Be prepared to be awed and overwhelmed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 15, 2018

Two Men Bagel, Singapore…are there really any other contenders in Singapore?

A true bagel is a beautiful thing: a glossy, crackly outer crust and squishy insides.

Two men Bagel is completely no-frills and their bagels combine a perfectly chewy, compact crust with a fluffy, moist interior which can be topped with the sandwich fixings of your choice. Whether you go for a bacon, scrambled egg & cheese, cream cheese, cold cuts, or some combination of all those things, it’s guaranteed to be piled so high that you’ll barely be able to fit the sandwich in your mouth. For me the Whammer: bacon, scrambled, cheese, smoked aioli is the bagel of dreams.

The spot often draws a long line, but it’s worth the wait for one of those soft-on-the-inside, lacquered-on-the-outside rounds. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 2, 2018

Katz Delicatessen, New York…nothing else like this in the world.

I have popped my Katz’s cherry. This is the home of the Meg Ryan “When Harry Met Sally” fake orgasm scene. Yes, ladies, feel free to give it your best shot.

It’s been around since 1888. It’s tacky, noisy, and rushed. The service gruff-but-kind, and the sandwiches way too big. The richly flavoured, freshly carved, emphatically smoky and tender pastrami sandwiches are worth the hype.

This is the king of New York delis. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 18, 2018

Dean & Deluca, Bangkok…worth visiting whether you’re in the mood to eat or not

Famed for its appearances in Hannibal and American Psycho, celebrity customers and fancy food, New York City’s gourmet grocer, the quintessential lifestyle brand, Dean & DeLuca is now a massive multi-channel retailer of gourmet foods, drinks and kitchenware.

The Lobster avocado poached egg toast – lobster salad, avocado, poached egg on toasted sourdough, rocket, balsamic – is as Instagrammable as it gets. It certainly takes poached eggs to a new level. Most importantly I am left thinking there are things here I want to come back for.

Any place with that sort of thing like the lobster avocado poached egg toast on the menu surely deserves my deep respect. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 28, 2018

Hertz, New York City…GPS stopped working

JFK. One of America’s busiest airports is well served by car hire companies catering for the huge numbers of visitors who pass through this major transport hub each year. Just take the complimentary AirTrain to Federal Circle station, where rental car offices are located.

Hertz may have a reputation for being expensive, but it was favourable in terms of affordability and choice of cars. Being a member of their Gold program, I got the “Carfirmation” service, which confirms reservations through text and emails and so I skipped the check-in counter.

There is just one criticism. The GPS stopped working when I was in on the expressway.  Whinge over. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 13, 2018

Legal Sea Foods Restaurant, Boston…seafood at a new level of deliciousness

Boston has a huge amount to offer when it comes to seafood. With a tagline that screams “If it isn’t fresh, it isn’t legal”, Legal specializes in one type of fare: seafood. The name of the game here is all things ocean.

The New England clam chowder is rich and creamy and shockingly delicious, with just the right amount of potatoes. There’s a lot of joy to be had in the lobster roll warm butter poached or traditional with mayo. The lobster meat, served chilled, has a firm bite and a tender follow through. It puts many of its competitors to shame in terms of pure taste and texture so it deserves a place in your belly. Legal’s signature crab cake – simply put – jumbo lump crab, mustard sauce, seasonal salad is one of the great classics of Legal Seafoods Restaurant. There is a simple genius about it, the crispness and creaminess and intrinsic sweetness of the moist and intensely crab-flavoured cakes.

There’s one thing you’re sure to find at Legal Sea Foods Restaurant- an excellent meal. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 23, 2018

Pappas Crabcakes, Washington DC…Well, this was a letdown

Oprah Winfrey named Pappas Crabcakes as one of her #FavoriteThings2015.

Pappas built its reputation on chunky with lump crab, filler-light, and only lightly spiced with crab seasoning, allowing for the full expression of crabby flavor. I ordered the snack plate – 2 fried blue crab balls, old bay seasoning French fries, coleslaw, tomato, lemon, choice of sauce. Sadly the jumbo lumps here at the MGM National Harbor tasted as if they’d spent more time in a freezer than in the Chesapeake Bay.

Obviously Oprah didn’t eat at the Pappas outpost here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 24, 2018

The Halal Guys, New York…great street meat

A food cart under umbrellas in can’t-miss yellow and red serving platters of halal lamb and chicken on 53rd and 6th in the Big Apple with never-ending lines that reeled down the block.

Your options are “chicken,” “lamb,” or “combo”. Lamb, roasted on a rotating spit and chopped to bits before a final crisping on a flat-top grill; chicken, simply grilled; falafel. The juicy lamb is the draw, sharply seasoned, with just enough melting fat. You want that as a sandwich or over rice? I chose sandwich. The secret “white” sauce is a must.

But take that white sauce away, and I don’t really get what the big deal is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 4, 2018

Fuku+, New York…home of the $8 spicy-fried-chicken sandwich

This little fast-casual restaurant has some unexpected extras, like waiter service and Bob Dylan and  on the playlist to ramp up the energy.

The spicy chicken sandwich is chicken thighs that have been marinated in habanero purée, coated in buttermilk, dredged in a spice blend, and deep-fried into formidably crustiness, then tucked inside a—what else?—potato roll with pickles and butter. The first thing you notice is the lopsided ratio of meat to bread. The chicken spills out of the bun like an oversized bao. The sandwich has been described as “spicy,” but to chilliheads it will seem just barely so. Fuku serves KFC-style steak fries, the world’s worst type of fries, which seem to have been par-baked before being fried, thus giving them an interior texture of instant mashed potatoes. All eyes should be on the sandwich.

And for those who care about prices, that $8 is a bit more than a Shake Shack burger.

So there you go. It’s damn good! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 14, 2018

5 Napkin Burger, Boston…I’m not in love

All I’ve been hearing are great things about 5 Napkin. The hype was that the burger is so succulent and loaded with luscious accessories that it requires five napkins to deal with the juicy runoff. It’s an irresistible notion that demands taking up the challenge and discovering what all the fuss is about. How could I not? So when I was in Boston I decided to go to one so I can say I went. The problem is I didn’t know if it’s any good or not, I just think it’s supposed to be great.

Here’s what I know: 5 Napkin makes a good burger, but not a great one. The namesake 5 Napkin Burger – all natural beef, imported gruyere, caramelized onions, rosemary – garlic aioli was OK—not great. If you’re looking for the juiciest, most flavorful hamburger around, this isn’t it. The signature hand cut fries were like the burger. OK

I didn’t dislike it but wouldn’t go out of my way to eat one again. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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