PEr FYI

March 24, 2019

Café Mary Grace, Manila…it isn’t all that earth-quaking

What started out as delighting her children with personally decorated birthday cakes, Mary Grace is now a chain of cafes and kiosks all over Manila.

I had the fairly remarkable looking Mango bene – frozen layers of meringue with custard cream, and fresh mangoes in between. It was sweet-but-not-too-sweet in that dangerous way. There are moments when richness overwhelms but I was disappointed not to find what I came for.

For the record, everything they serve is gorgeous! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 16, 2019

Habitat by Honestbee, Singapore…the future of dining – for better or for worse

Singapore’s food and beverage scene has entered a new era of hitech gizmos and geekery that’s about to revolutionise dining out. Habitat is a beautiful sight to behold. Menu-wise it’s a moderately predictable but decently executed list of dependable pan-Asian and western dishes. Technology-wise, it’s remarkably unique.

Your entire journey in the restaurant is fully machine-automated. You place your orders through your mobile phones. You will be notified via the app once your food is ready. Then, just collect your food and enjoy!

You’ll find the char siew noodles at Char checks all the boxes (look at it in all its saucy glory). The Tiger Beer Battered Fish & Chips – Haddock is further reasons to be cheerful – delicate golden batter, succulent fish, breaking the surface was like piercing the lid on a perfect crème brûlée. The Little Neck Clams And Bacon Linguine is a very classic one, too. Bacon and pasta, I mean, do I really need to go into it? Let’s just say this little bowl of delicious can make you happy. Poofy Pancakes – a trio of large, fluffy soft, pillowy gluten-free pancakes is a thumbs up. I leave feeling giddy, as if I have spent the afternoon inhaling candyfloss.

In addition to dining, it is also the convenience store of the future. No lines, no cash registers, and no checking out. You just grab what you want, and you … go. It will not be long before the hypermarkets wake up one day and wonder what it in the hell it was that hit them.

It’s probably the future of retail and dining. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 2, 2018

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City…feast upon mouthfuls of incredible flavours

Banh Mi Huynh Hao is better known as Lesbian Sisters Banh Mi. The reason being that the store was opened by a lesbian couple and was originally staffed by an all-lesbian workforce.

Here, the banh mi (which translates simply as “bread” in Vietnamese) the once humble pork and pickled vegetable sandwich now elevated to heights of gastronomic chic. Banh Mi Huynh Hao is a street food stall that serves a baguette stuffed with a plethora of coldcuts, pate, spicy mayo, and fresh vegies. It is freshly made in front of your eyes and made to order. It is made to excite. The freshly baked baguettes which are kept warm in a charcoal-fuelled oven tend to be particularly airy and crumbly. The flavour was slightly sweet and extremely moreish.

This surely is Ho Chi Minh City’s finest Vietnamese cuisine. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 24, 2018

Bread in common, Perth…a food lover’s delight

Bread in Common in the quaint town of Fremantle is a restaurant and bakery that feels alive and it’s infectious. Much of that is to do with its relaxed vibe, from talkative servers who do their job with pride and skill. The eye-catching interior has dozens of vintage-style globes streaming from the warehouse ceiling or looping in red electrical cord over suspended beams. Long, wooden communal tables, all with views of the giant open kitchen.

The food is plain delicious. There are two you simply must not miss. The succulent lamb ribs, lime, mint, black garlic, sherry was a flavourful plate with melt in your mouth meat. I can eat 6 without blinking an eye. I brought home memories of the first unforgettable bites of the beef brisket, toast vinegar onions, chives, yogurt. It was such tender goodness.

I challenge you not to fall in love with this big-hearted restaurant Perth is lucky to have. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 10, 2018

Eataly Caffe, New York City…I died and went to Italian Heaven

Disneyland for Italian-food lovers, Eataly is an Italian-food marketplace which sells all things Italian. There’s a fishmonger and butcher (and vegetable butcher) and an espresso bar, a wine store, a cheese store, a cooking school, a kitchenware department and a great deal more. There is a restaurant at Eataly that serves fish. There is a restaurant called Le Verdure which serves only vegetables. It is bruschetta city there. There is a pasta area. And there is a first-come-first-served bar area, La Piazza, where you can stand at a marble-top table and drink wine or eat salamis and cheese as if in Venice.  From the bakery behind the pizza ovens: good breads. From the chocolate station up front: dessert.

Eataly serves up delicious dishes while offering a bite of Italian authenticity. The Prosciutto croissant with tops which are golden and flaky is packed with plenty of pleasantries. The Italian prosciutto was delicate, sweet and adds flavor to every bite. The wonderfully airy apricot croissant was irresistible pleasure! This one is truly a breakfast in bed item.

A word of advice – if you’re waiting for a table to open up at the restaurant, browse around the store but don’t buy anything. Your stomach may protest, but your wallet will thank you

Eataly is an answered prayer. It represents a step forward for Italian food in New York. It is now my new “happiest place on Earth.” This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 28, 2018

Modern Pastry Shop, Boston…the local favourite

Want to get off the tourist trail and enjoy Boston like a local? Then do Boston like a real Bostonian.

What Modern Pastry Shop does, it does expertly. This fabulous, family-owned Italian bakery is filled with delicious sweets and treats. I was a bit overwhelmed with the choices. They have everything for everyone but the Italian pastries are the best. There was a sizable line was out the door but it does move relatively quickly so you can be in and out within 15 minutes if you head in knowing what you want. Service could be better, though.

Please note the word “Favourite”. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 7, 2017

Au Bon Pain, Boston…nothing to be impressed about. The end.

All the epicurean comforts we crave on frigid days: steaming soups, mac and cheese, hot paninis, and more.

2 eggs & cheddar on plain bagel, with hard-wood smoked bacon was adequate and decent. To go with that, I had the morning blend coffee, medium roast, smooth flavored blend of Costa Rican beans. 100% Arabica. The person who took my order looked really angry at the world. Dining area looks pretty clean and there’s also a nice patio.

Nothing to be impressed about. The end. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 27, 2017

Lord Stow’s Bakery, Macau…the best I’ve ever had, period

Portuguese egg tarts – small flaky tarts filled with creamy, lightly sweet egg custard – are one of my favorite desserts. But they’re not all created equal. Some are just plain bad, most are somewhere in the middle, and only a handful are memorably good.

The egg tart at Lord Stow’s has a wonderfully smooth, wiggly, creamy rich (but not too rich) filling with a slightly burned top  and a good crisp case. The crust is the main deal-breaker. Some egg tarts are simply so weak that they crumbled apart no matter how gently I hold them; some are so thick that they completely overpowered the flavor of the custard. The crust at Lord Stow’s crackles and shatters on first bite, then melts in your mouth. This is what makes them so incomparably good.

Egg tarts don’t get much better than this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 4, 2017

Tai Cheong Café, Singapore…the Marmite effect: some rave about it, some feel its meh

There are more exciting Chinese cuisines out there these days, but sometimes all you want is a good old-fashioned Hong Kong feed. That’s when you head to Tai Cheong Café. Tucked away in Holland Village, Tai Cheong Cafe is really a cha chaan teng.

Their three coloured silky egg rice are the ones to go for here, with plenty of egg to temper the rich flavours and their egg tarts also always hit the spot. I come here only for this. The others on the menu isn’t as good.

I can’t say Tai Cheong Cafe gets everything right, or that it’s a Hong Kong diner destination, but I’ll stand behind this humble—and quite cheap eatery. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 14, 2017

Tai Cheong Bakery, Singapore…very difficult to limit yourself to just one

This beautiful delicacy has no equal in the world. Only the Hong Kong or Portuguese egg tarts can inspire such passion.

Egg tarts are found on every street corner of Hong Kong and Macau. The ones at Tai Cheong Bakery is reputed to be the best in the country. In Singapore, this flavoursome egg-enriched shortcrust pastry provides textural contrast with the wonderfully smooth, creamy custard. It’s a very eggy treat.

The tarts are at their addictive best when they’ve cooled down slightly but are still warm. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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