PEr FYI

August 19, 2017

Jia Jia Tang Bao, Shanghai…spurter of broth and burner of mouths

This steamed, soup-filled xioalongbao is, perhaps, the dumpling world’s favourite son.

Jia Jia Tang Bao is the place to go if you’re into this Shanghai speciality, otherwise known as a soup dumpling… a basket of steamed bite-size pouches of goodness usually filled with pork and broth. This is a true blue cramped hole-in-the-wall and you get a down-to-earth local experience. Sharing tables with strangers is the norm here, as chairs are precious.

Freshly made every day, what the they may lack in elegance, they more than make up for in flavor, the thinness of the skin and the quality of the soup inside. Expect a thinner-than-average skin and a pronounced porky filling boasting a hint of sweetness. Be careful — you need to put them in your mouth whole if you don’t want the soup to spill everywhere.

An insider’s tip? Just be careful to let them cool sufficiently before attempting to eat them, whole, or your next stop could be Shanghai International Hospital A & E. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 8, 2017

Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, Shanghai…an absolute gem

Across its many regions China encompasses so many different cuisines that lumping them all together under one banner is akin to talking about ‘European food’. Madam Zhu’s Kitchen specializes in Sichuan and Shanghainese cuisines.

Make sure you sample Specialty: No1. Madam Zhu’s Peking Duck. Immaculately carved at the table by gloved cooks, it is worth it. Both the meat and the skin were excellent. The pancakes were wonders—light, delicate, strong. If you’re looking for Sichuan Province’s famous ‘hot and numbing’ dishes, this is the place to come. The gritty fried shrimp balls with chilli and pepper really is lip-tinglingly good. True to Sichuanese form, red is present in this dish –  in lashings of sliced or whole chillies. It made my scalp sweat. Boom.

The food comes quickly, the food is excellent, and the food is not very expensive. It is a busy restaurant, yet it feels intimate. Right now Madam Zhu’s Kitchen is an absolute gem, a true collector’s piece. I just hope it stays that way. 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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May 21, 2017

Va Fung, Macau…it’s surprisingly affordable and lip-tinglingly good

Dim Sum is arguably one of Cantonese cuisine’s finest contributions to the world. It’s one of the few types of foods I can eat repeatedly without tiring of it, because of its endless variety.

Don’t be put off by the nondescript appearance of Va Fung, this Macau number prepares Cantonese- food fit for a banquet and it’s surprisingly affordable. If you have a big group, this is the place to come. All the classics are done very well here — prawn dumplings (ha gau), siew mai and Cheong Fun with shrimps and char siu – and quite a number of the items are really lip-tinglingly good.

What more could you need? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 25, 2017

Petit Jardin, Shanghai…check your expectations at the door

Petit Jardin is a younger version of the famous Jardin de Jade. Unlike the parent restaurant that serves authentic Shanghai -style cuisines, Petit Jardin offers modern Cantonese cuisine and it appears to be trying to walk a somewhat precarious tightrope.

They say the menu is, in fact, a window into a restaurant’s soul. Amusing enough, this must be the Mills and Boon of menus with ludicrously sounding dishes like “crouching cow and hidden hen jumping on the grill together”.

The trouble is we’re eating a spruced up, dumbed-down, nouvelle-cuisine version that tastes nothing like the original. The crispy black BBQ bun had nice filling but was practically hollow and a tad dry.

Petit Jardin’s not going to blow your mind or anything. Check your expectations at the door. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 15, 2017

Jin Yue Xuan, Zhuhai…For taste, wow… just wow!

This restaurant has palatial interiors. Fortunately, the same can’t be said for its prices, which are value for money. It’s surprisingly affordable. I cannot vouch for my soul but the time I visit this restaurant I cannot help but feel happy and satisfied. Everything, from the fresh ingredients to the presentation is spot-on.

Make sure you sample the barbeque pork in honey sauce. This is some of the barbecue pork I’ve had in a long time. Don’t miss the baked prawn in sea urchin sauce. The texture is very rich and buttery. It tastes like nothing I have ever eaten before in my life. The sweet and sour prawn with hawthorn sauce was also well executed.

If you are in Zhuhai and want somewhere to enjoy a cheerful meal with friends, look no further. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 31, 2016

Palm Spring Spa, Zhuhai….hands down the best massage of my life

I’ve always enjoyed going to a spa, sit back, relax and forget the world, for a few hours at least.

Today’s spa aficionados can choose from a bewildering array of treatments. The choice can be overwhelming, but here in Palm Spring Spa, the TCM massage is an exceptional, effective treatment which provide welcome comfort and rapid relief. The massuer is capable of intuitively picking up on what I need – a damn-good kneading – and she tailored the massage accordingly. Her knowledge of musculature is generally great, as she tackles each overlapping muscle within my lower back, shoulder blades, neck, and traps using different strokes in different directions. I’ve had countlessmassages in my life, and this one stands out.  The experience was defined by strong hands, focused pressure, precision, and a keen understanding of the human body.

If I was based in Zhuhai, I would make this a weekly or biweekly happening. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 26, 2016

Maxim’s Jade Garden, Hong Kong…desirable gastronomic option at HKIA

As the financial and now much-vaunted culinary capital of Asia, with one restaurant for every 600 people, Hong Kong has one of the highest per capita concentrations of restaurants in the world. Amongst all these restaurants, without a doubt, Cantonese food in Hong Kong rocks.

Maxim’s Jade Garden (located at the Departures Check-in Hall Mezzanine, Terminal 1 of Hong Kong International Airport) serves authentic Cantonese cuisine showcasing the best dim sum and local Guangdong dishes. Their shatteringly crisp baked barbeque pork pastry buns beats your everyday hamburger at its own game. It yields a super moist, fluffy interior and I would dare say, offers the ultimate bun experience.

With aeroplane food often a disappointment, Maxim’s Jade Garden is a desirable gastronomic option to spice up your journey. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 11, 2016

Yung Kee, Hong Kong…eye-wateringly expensive.

For every awesome restaurant in Hong Kong, there are also a good number of food establishments that make me want to roll my eyes. This temple to charcoal roasted goose is unashamedly, perhaps reassuringly, eye-wateringly expensive.

The quintessentially Cantonese goose comes full of flavor with glossy, lacquered crispy wafer-thin skin, a light chew, and a slightly citrussy mandarin-peel high note throughout the juicy, gamey meat. The char siew (roast pork) meat was so soft could almost feel it melting on my tongue but the sauce lacked flavor.

Honestly, there are many underrated, inexpensive places to grab a bite to eat in HK– just take my word for it. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 6, 2016

Shanghai Min, Shanghai…ordinary and unmemorable meal with a stunningly hefty bill

While it’s easy to find a cheap meal in Shanghai, there are also plenty of pricy restaurants. The prices at Shanghai Min are pretty steep, and even the mega-rich like to know that they’re getting value for their money.

Whether you’re willing to splash out or budget dining is more your style, here’s what the food is like at this overpriced place: Sauteed prawn ball (pan-fried/chili sauce/mustard & mayonnaise), braised pork in brown sauce of nostalgia, scallion noodles, steamed original recipe chicken sprinkled with minced ginger fries.

Can diners be sure that the food is worth the stunningly hefty bill?

The answer is no…it was an ordinary and unmemorable meal. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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