PEr FYI

December 10, 2017

El Nacional, Barcelona…ambience and garlic prawns alone makes the visit worthwhile

Tapas is undoubtedly the best kind of food. You get to sample loads of dishes and share the experience with friends.

Once a car park, El Nacional is now an open-concept, gorgeous space ” restaurant emporium” that houses four restaurants and three bars. A unique atmosphere, the setting alone makes the visit worthwhile. Needless to say, we tried La Taperia, the tapas restaurant.

The small plates here are boldly flavored and actually portioned to share. Paletilla Iberica de Bellota (Acorn-fed Iberian shoulder ham) was top notch. Even better was Calamares a la Andaluza (Squids Andalusian-style). Navajas a la Donostiarra (razor clams, San Sebastian style) is another mouth-watering dish. Heuvos estrellados con jamon Iberico (fried eggs with Iberian ham) was executed with flair. An ordinary-sounding offering of Gambitas de Huelva fritas (Fried little shrimps from Huelva) was an unexpected success. Other great dishes to try are Pan de coca con tomate, aceite y sal (flat bread with tomato, oil and salt), Bomba de la Barceloneta (Barceloneta bomb), Croquetas de jamon Iberico (Iberian ham croquettes), The classic Spanish tapas dish – Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic prawns) was the dish of the meal. Pink, deliciously plump prawns covered in glossy garlic oil. We order a second plate immediately.

Those who live locally are lucky, others should be willing to travel. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 27, 2017

Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar, Boston…damn delicious lobster roll

In Singapore, people treat lobsters like celebrities, and Boston has no shortage of them.

Named after the Lewis Carroll poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter Oyster Bar in Quincy Market Food Colonnade at Fanueil Hall Marketplace specializes in oysters, lobsters and other delicious seafood dishes. So, yes, these very public eating places, I’m all for them. I love the public — and can spend up to two or three occasions a month in close proximity to them without panic, vomiting or assault

The heart and soul of the menu and the reason to come eat here (or take out) is the pure and simple and elegantly delicious lobster roll. Order a lobster roll with a cup of chowder and the split top bun will arrive stuffed with chunks of impeccably cooked lobster meat which is ample, firm, tender and sweet, spot-on seasoning, and a meat-to-bun ratio that works. The winning key here is that the sandwich taste like lobster and not mayo. The creamy and comforting clam chowder also shines.

The downside? This teeny lobster roll is just enough to make you wish you had more. Just don’t try to share it…in fact, perhaps order two just for yourself.

This is the kind of lobster roll dreams are made of. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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walrus & carpenter bos1

July 29, 2017

Minetta Tavern Restaurant and Bar, New York City…The black label burger renders other burgers meaningless

This place opened in the 30’s so it’s wonderful to see the vintage décor of the old saloon-era interior intact. Being a full house, I sat at the refinished oak bar in the front of the room, elbow to elbow with other diners. The vibe is buzzy, exclusive, and properly chaotic.

The food rocks as much as the scene. The US$33 Black Label Burger – selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pomme frites is without question a mind-blowing rivetingly intense experience. Named the best burger in America by CNBC, a continent full of burger connoisseurs, The Daily Meal,  calls it “the stuff of legend.”  The beef is a blend of four different cuts—short rib, skirt, brisket and rib-eye. It’s like eating a dry-aged steak in burger format. The bun was airy but not spongy. There is a chewiness and lushness in the same bite. Each bite of this burger was lingered over and savored. Even the fries were perfectly seasoned, and nicely crisped. It held to the quality of the burger.

This is now my must-go place in NYC, but frequent Minetta too often and I’ll be broke and really fat. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 17, 2017

No Idea Café Gastropub, Bangkok…. pub with something special on the menu

Pubs only used to care about serving up the perfect pint, but now a good number of them are creating gourmet menus that go above and beyond your basic pub grub.

No Idea Café presents modern and inventive takes on traditional European fare. There’s the tasting board – salami, parma ham, cheese, chorizo, caper berries, olives, baguette, roasted garlic aioli which is comforting and satisfying. The twice cooked pork belly – fennel apple slaw, braised red cabbage- worked surprisingly well. Although parts of the meat was a little tough and the dish would have benefited from a little balanced cooking. The atmosphere is casual and the beer flows fast. Naturally, as a gastropub, most of No Idea’s interesting drinks are alcoholic.

This is not a trendy spot. Rather, it’s inviting and unpretentious. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 21, 2017

Dragon-I, Hong Kong…cream of Hong Kong’s club scene

Whether you’re looking to meet someone new, dance to the biggest DJs in the world or just want to have the kind of legendary night you’ll keep secret until the day you die, you’ll find it all in Hong Kong.

Dragon-I is an amazing uber-chic club with a stunning setting. A dining area known as Red Room, a dance floor and bar space with New York-style booth seating called Playground. It doubles as a modern restaurant and the food is surprisingly good. The crowd is those that know and those that want to find out.

Dragon-I is the cream of Hong Kong’s club scene ensuring a great night out in style. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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dragon-1-hk

January 17, 2016

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Los Angeles…looks like it’s come out of a Gucci bag

LA is a city with what feels like an infinite amount of steakhouses. So what differentiates one steakhouse from the other?

First off, I really like the scene of this spot. Elegant ambience of rich, welcoming environment of wood, leather, and subdued lighting. It is so important for me for the wait staff to be pleasant so that I can enjoy my food and evening. EVERYONE was actually nice in this place. Definitely wins points from me.

So much exciting food… so little space to write about it. The certified Angus beef porterhouse for two was cooked to perfection and absolutely divine. If it ain’t obvious to you already, I like meat. I deal with it a lot. It’s tasty. I’m good at it. It was an amazing piece of steak but so damaging to the waistline!! Whatever, we only live once, right? Having steaks and don’t know what to order for the sides?  Asparagus is a no-brainer. The grilled high country asparagus taste as awesome as MacGyver was cool.

Fleming’s holds up against the top tier steak houses in LA, which says a lot. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 12, 2015

Jimmy’s American Grill & Bar, New York City…epically twisted dining experience

I’ve eaten in a lot of bad restaurants, but I can’t recall an experience as epically twisted dining in Jimmy’s American Grill & Bar. This place is a complete joke. The food is atrocious…lots of leftovers that would make me feel guilty even giving to my dogs. Service is just as bad!

This is what “good” American food tasted like 20-30 years ago, in the days of Sizzler’s and TGIF’s.The overcooked sirloin steak with mashed potato and vegetable was a travesty. We requested for medium rare and instead was  served a piece which was very strong, dry and hard to chew. The kitchen should show a little respect to the animal: don’t cook it so that it has the texture of shoe leather. The seafood pasta with salmon, grilled shrimp, mussel, clams and grilled calamari served with garlic sauce was bland, tasteless.

Mostly we were frustrated by the unbelievably atrocious service. A drinking straw was shockingly thrown to us. Request for a spoon went by forgotten the entire evening. Even several requests for the bill went unheeded. It was just very poor service.

I’m surprised this place is still open. I can’t imagine this gross place will be in business much longer. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 25, 2015

Bill’s Bar & Burger, New York City…it’s non monumental, lacks a wow-factor

Given the limited choices for food within a short walk on a cold, windy and rainy New York winter night, this place was okay. Not something I can rave about. It’s not bad, but it was pretty average.

I got the “famous” CNN-rated Fat-Cat burger (2013 CNN top 10 burger award) – caramelised onion, American cheese, English muffin, LTP. Thought it was tasty, it lacked a wow-factor. It definitely should not have made anyone’s top burger list. The buffalo chicken wrap – lettuce and tomato, blue cheese, spinach, tortilla – was an okay wrap. It was tasty and the ingredients were well seasoned and it was a decent sized portion. While their new England clam chowder has a nice stick-to-your-stomach creaminess about it, it was a tad thin when compared to your typical chowder.

Certainly did not surpass Smashburger or In-N-Out. It’s non monumental. It’s fine for what it is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 17, 2015

Sevva, Hong Kong…I rather get cheaper, better food down on the street

Rooftops on Hong Kong island are prime real-estate. To me, this place is not the best place for being scenic, but sit under the illuminated canopy at twilight and you can drink in unparalleled views across Hong Kong along with your cocktail, bourbon or bottled beer.

Generally, the wait staff were very friendly and attentive. I just wasn’t Wowed by the creativity or the taste of their dishes. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good but not great. I was expecting flavors I haven’t tried before but it was all the same to me.

Sevva  offers sanctuary away from the Hong Kong Street rush but I rather get cheaper, better food down on the street. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 12, 2015

Burger Bar, San Francisco…you need a pre-recession budget but don’t expect to be blown away

There seems to be no food more popular nowadays than the once-humble hamburger, practically every upscale restaurant has a burger these days. Burger Bar offers several different types of beef, in addition to lamb, turkey, seafood and veggie burgers, with a variety of toppings from garden, farm, ocean and more and a variety of breads, all of it to be mixed and matched in endless do-it-yourself variety. Among the beef types is American-style Kobe, or Wagyu beef.

I had the American Kobe beef burger. I don’t really care what you call the beef, as long as it tastes great.  Kobe, the steak-lovers Holy Grail becomes less relevant in a ground burger patty. While the pate is thick and tightly packed, juicy but not dripping and has a very good overall flavour, it has nothing on any other gourmet burgers. I guess the Kobe label is just a marketing tool employed to justify a high price.

Try it, if you have a pre-recession budget but don’t expect to be blown away . This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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