PEr FYI

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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February 1, 2020

Dadong, New York City…nobody should pay this much money and be sad

If one wants terrible food delivered quickly, accompanied by several other unappetising dishes you hadn’t ordered but other diners are currently waiting for, Dadong in midtown New York is for you. While I didn’t get ill after eating at Dadong, I did feel sick about how much I’d spent on a substandard meal.

I’m a massive Dadong, Beijing fan, and can wolf down a peking duck faster than you can say “Times Square”, so I awaited my Dadong “Su bu ni” roast duck – served with sugar, pancakes, crispy sesame buns and special sauce with some level of excitement. The duck was bland, dry and actively repellent. I like to think the staff made it up as a prank, and were watching to see if I would be an obedient foodie and play ball. Let us never speak again of the prime chili diced short ribs

Dadong in New York, well, just don’t serve very good food. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 28, 2018

Four Seasons Chinese Restaurant, London…the most overrated restaurant in London.

It just makes my day when I spend a ton of money on something that I didn’t even enjoy eating. (insert sarcasm here) Okay, I’m totally kidding. I actually hate that feeling and that’s why I am writing this. It’s the worst feeling in the world when you spend a ton of money on food that isn’t even that great.

The food looked good from a distance but on closer inspection turned out to be rather unappetizing. The duck in the three combination barbecued meat was the only acceptable bit. The grilled eel in honey sauce was revolting and the house special “pei-pa” beancurd was not as good as the off-the-shelf beancurd equivalents in Sainsbury’s.

Seriously though, it really is awful. I’m struggling to think of a reason why anyone would actually want to eat here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 8, 2018

Bebek Bengil, Jakarta…check your expectations at the door

Although this is an established name in Indonesia, with a heavy heart, I regret to inform that the restaurant’s most popular dishes – The original crispy duck – half duck steamed in Indonesian spices and deep fried for a crispy finish. Served with steamed rice, Balinese vegetables, or sautéed potatoes and side salad wasn’t particularly delightful. The skin though crispy is dry.

The Sate lilit – Balinese satay with goodness mix of chicken, fish and duck was a bit of hit or miss. The Sup bebek kari  is pretty lackluster.

Well, everything’s a bit middle of the road. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 18, 2018

La Petite, Singapore…a laid-back neighborhood gem

La Petite is Singapore’s affordable, approachable, laid-back French restaurant.

The sauce in the escargots (6 pcs) with croissant and salad is almost as delicious as the escargots themselves.

In this age of Intagram, it might come as a surprise, then, that the most brilliant dish at La Petite is also the downright ugliest. To roll out a cliché: Looks aren’t everything. I had the Confit de canard w/gratin potato. Damn, it’s a good dish, both thrillingly new and comfortingly traditional.

La Petite doesn’t blow you away in in the same way that other spots like Les Amis do, nor does it intend to. It’s an assured, steady-handed restaurant. Tres bon, La Petite, tres, tres bon. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 9, 2017

Bebek Tepi Sawah, Bali…Anything to avoid? walking in to start with.

I probably won’t make any friends saying so but I’m struggling to think of a reason why anyone would want to eat here.

Bebek Tepi Sawah is decent enough if you’re high or 12 years old. The whole menu here is almost entirely centred around the humble duck. The duck which was supposed to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside was anything but. The soup was as plain as plain water can be. Just not worth it.

Psst…tourists: You can get better dish in Bali elsewhere. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 6, 2017

Lee Noodle, Bangkok…cheap (and astonishing) duck noodle

Between cafés, street food stalls and lesser-known restaurant deals, Bangkok has a host of bargain bites that don’t cut back on flavour or finesse.

Lee Noodle, on Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lor BTS station) is a budget-friendly hole in the wall guaranteed to whet your appetite without leaving a gaping hole in your wallet. Small and simple, this coffee-shop may be tiny but its purse-friendly homemade noodles which can be accompanied by moist succulent duck or crispy roasted pork belly or crab or charsiew or wanton (or all of it for 80 baht) is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Dangerously good, and it won’t cost you much more than 100 baht for the biggest, most delicious bowl of noodle you’ve ever tasted. 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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August 7, 2016

Duck & Waffle,London…lip-smackingly eye-rollingly, hand-claspingly yummy

First thing you notice up on the 40th floor is the charming bejewelled views over London like a shameless plunge of shiny moisturised cleavage. To my mind, duck doesn’t go with waffles in the same way that hot dogs don’t complement champagne but this is London and I am an open-minded bloke.

The menu is refreshingly affordable. The title dish is a hunk of crisp-skinned duck confit on a fluffy waffle topped with a fried duck egg and a pot of mustard maple syrup. Texturally – the runny egg yolk against the chewy meat against the squidge of the waffle – was an ace combo. The seared octopus was also very big on flavour.

Duck & Waffle opens 24 hours a day, though who eats there at 4am I don’t know. One thing I do know: I’ve made it a new addition to my little black book – I’m going back there again the next time I’m in London.  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 3, 2016

Au Petit Sud-Ouest, Paris…The duck confit is fall off the bone excellent

Oh. My. God. I can say so many great things about this restaurant. Food was absolutely amazing. Service was great. The atmosphere and decor very soothing.

The flavor of the fresh duck foie gras sprinkled with a little sea salt is stronger than the goose foie gras which is more delicate. Whatever else you want to say about it, at least acknowledge this: Foie gras is truly, indisputably, delicious. The confit duck leg with wild mushrooms is so good it’ll roll your eyes back. Confit — pronounced con-FEE — is an old-school a cooking method of baking salted and seasoned meat in fat, low and slow. The result is a sinful combination of crackling skin and meltingly tender, moist, and extremely flavorful meat. I’ve fallen in love and have been taken into culinary heaven!!!

The best duck confit I had so far in Paris. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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