PEr FYI

April 25, 2020

Siamese Boat Noodle, Bangkok…just go

There’s no beating around the bush. This Siam Paragon noodle joint serves, you guessed it, boat noodles.

The highlight was the Australian wagyu ribeye, beef ball, braised shank and tendon where the soup comes with a gorgeous beef flavour with a hint of spiciness and the beef itself is seriously tender and tasty to boot. While the much loved Australian wagyu ribeye is perfectly cooked and a firm bestseller here, another favourite is the suitably spice steamed wontons with Sichuan chilli. And I never tire of the grilled pork ball (3 skewers) with pleasingly flavoured sweet chilli dip. The crispy pork fat is also a crowd pleaser.

The place is regularly packed and it deserves to be busy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 22, 2020

Hakkasan, New York City…you’ll die poor but happy

New York’s Chinese food scene is a diverse beast. There’s pork ribs to sweet, stir-fried-whatever-you-can-think-of, Hong Kong Dim Sum, the classic Peking duck and of course the comforting staples including noodles and fried rice (and way, way more) at eateries both high end and super casual.

With its innovative Cantonese cooking, Hakkasan is still the benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Their stylish interior and moody lighting attracts all kinds of beautiful people.

We started with hakka steamed dim sum platter – scallop shumai, har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, black pepper duck dumpling. The pastry was perfect in give and texture, just elastic enough to encase generous bites of flavour-packed meat and seafood. The stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with Merlot was equally good, the melting tenderness of top-quality meat turning the clichéd staple into a luxury – Chinese takeaways should weep with shame. We also enjoyed the hot and sour soup with chicken, shiitake and pomelo, spring onion and fried egg rice and the tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushroom claypot with chili and black bean sauce

You’ll die poor but happy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 28, 2020

Tesate, Jakarta…satay with a difference

I had always thought of satay as basically covered in sweet peanut sauce.

Because I am a man, with a taste for blood, I ordered both of the meat satay. Sate sapi klopo – spiced tender beef coated in toasted grated coconut and Sate sapi Makasar – combination of aromatic beef tenderloin with tangy star fruit sauce. Both the beef had the densest, most satisfying texture. Both had a rich, mouth-coating savouriness, helped by their highly textured and sprightly star fruit sauce and the toasted grated coconut.

It was a satisfying one, and at an unemasculating price – and that’s what matters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 12, 2020

Blackbird, Manila…Hear me now: do not make the mistake of dying before you have eaten here

There are places, that, have great food, but more importantly will also guarantee you a good time. That mean dishes that go beyond excellent but make you smile, too. And all at the right price. Which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap but definitely means value for money.

To start, dive into the exceptionally decadent mushroom, fortina and truffle arancini. The salt and pepper squid and shrimps with sweet soy and ginger was as unusual as it was delicious. Then there’s tempura eggplant and prawn fritters with nuoc cham. These are all more tiny mouthfuls than actual dishes.

The main event comes in the form of impossibly thin slices of grilled short rib, green onion and ginger, kimchi, hot bean paste, lettuce and rice. It is utterly delicious and truly one of the undisputed stars of the show.

Then have a little rest – because you really should try a sundae. The dessert is worth saving space for. The burnt butter and vanilla seed ice creams, chocolate brownie, candied pop corn, salted caramel is an ice cream lover’s dream come true. I believe I have found the single best dessert available right now in the Philippines, or, for that matter, anywhere else.

This is an impressive date spot if you want to bring out the big guns. You’ll keep talking about this truly delicious meal long after leaving. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 11, 2020

Aburi-EN, Singapore…how evocative the flavours are

Aburi, literally translates as “flaming” is a style of cooking to create a smokey fragrance.

We started with the Hokkaido ika surume – grilled Hokkaido squid. For any lover of squid, the result is exquisite. You can really taste the charring. Equally impressive was the premium buta bara don – grilled chestnut pork belly on rice. Best of all was the Wagyu Karubi Don – a lip-smaking grilled miyazaki wagyu on rice.

So go in ones or twos or many. But go. Do. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 25, 2019

Cheung Fat Kitchen, Hong Kong…the food here is worth the guilt

I am well eaten (and equally well travelled) and still managed to come a cropper in a review of Cheng Fat Kitchen, a cheap, boisterous restaurant in Hong Kong’s North Point. The food is really nice, and really distinctive, reliably tasty — and cheap

Everything about the char-grilled beef short ribs (thick cut, house special pepper sauce) is great.  Meaty, juicy, lick-your-fingers clean amazing. Save room for some of the best steamed clam with wine & lotus leaf. Don’t leave without trying the sweet and sour pork (sauce served separately). There are thousands of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, but few have sweet and sour pork like this. Savoury and crunchy, sweet and tangy: it’s addictive stuff. Treat with caution.

Your best bet here is to come with a big group of friends and order as much as you can. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 17, 2019

Maichibo, Chiba, Tokyo…the more is definitely the merrier.

Maichibo is a lovely spot in Chiba specializing in okonomiyaki, the Japanese savoury pancake cooked on a large steel hot-plate. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of okonomiyaki before. It’s the lesser known of Japan’s delectable dishes, but it’s certainly having a moment.

The Mai Course is made up of Caesar salad and baked romaine lettuce with half boiled egg followed by tonpei-yaki pork omelette. The sauce was not too overpowering, instead, it was a great combination of the pork. Then there were grilled chicken, chiba’s beef steak 50g and Hokkaido’s grilled scallops which was pleasant rather than exciting, cooked just a fraction longer than I would have preferred. Then the main event – the Mix okonomiyaki. Its flavors—sweet and savory, spicy smoky —were instantly recognizable (as they would be to anyone who has been eating casual Japanese food of late), while the texture, simultaneously crunchy and creamy, hit all of my comfort food sweet spots. No wonder they call this stuff Osaka soul food.

If you’ve been to Chiba only to go to Disneyland, this Japanese gem is the perfect reason to return. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 5, 2019

Nuer Koo, Bangkok…has beef noodles like no one else in Bangkok

There are other beef noodle shops in Bangkok, but there is nothing quite like Nuer Koo (pronounce ‘Nua Kooh’).

I opted for medium sliced kobe beef quickly dipped in broth. The soul-stirring soup is deceptively mild at first, gaining carnality with each spoonful but never growing too forceful. It manages to be light and clean on the palate, with a straightforward beefiness that doesn’t linger too long. It comes with rough cuts of gorgeously marbled beef, putting up gentle resistance. The noodles have an integrity and chew you might associate with good Italian pasta.

I’m calling the beef noodle soup here a BUY. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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