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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June 17, 2018

Druckwasserwerk, Frankfurt…hearty German cuisine that hits the spot

To the uninformed first-timers, Druckwasserwerk might be dismissed as a huge 19th-century machine hall. Indeed it once housed the steam engines needed to operate the elevators and cranes in the nearby port. Today, what makes it special is the industrial-scale ambience.

The beautifully fried wiener schnitzel – wiener veal schnitzel, potato, cucumber, wild cranberries – stands out. The Schnitzel is perfectly crisp on the outside and inside, filled with cut-with-a fork meat. It’s a monumental plateful, as in you could use it as a headstone when the time comes. There are always specials, and they are always worth considering. The kleine pastasackchen –  truffle filling, Roquefort cream was comfort-food heaven. The small cake of conched Swiss chocolate with liquid core, blueberry cream and chocolate fondant dessert was very good too.

Nothing sophisticated. Just good bourgeois food. And sometimes that is exactly what is needed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 14, 2017

Gu Yi Wan, Shanghai…comforting, delicious and cheap

Shanghai’s Chinese food scene is a diverse beast. This tiny Gu Yi Wan does a lot of things well but I’m all over it just for its modest braise in soy sauce beef noodle. It is rich and restorative in texture and taste, a kind of mental health food. Apart of that, other worthy mentions are their wantons, shaomai and shaobing

The restaurant is both the simplest and most marvelous of discoveries in a city that is filled with gastronomic delights. Trust me: you need to try it. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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August 12, 2017

East and West Rendezvous, Melaka…overpriced, overhyped and over-rated

I’m often a little nervous when visiting ultrahyped eating places found online, and East and West Rendezvous proved why. It was a complete fiasco. The food looked good from a distance but turned out to be rather unappetising

Nyonya dumpling (Nyonya chang) is the only type of bak chang I eat, so I know a tasty one when I eat it. The ones you get here are pretty average. To rub salt in the wound, the staff here wear their rudeness on their sleeves.

Get this place off your list. 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 19, 2017

Myeongdong Kyoja, Seoul…a good cheap eat in Seoul

Myeongdong Kyoja is great for a fuss-free, on-the-go dinner in town. This is where to fill up without emptying your wallet.

The greatest part of this restaurant is that they only serve 4 items on their menu. This makes ordering an easy task. It is known for kalguksu, which literally means knife-cut noodles in Korean. Its other speciality is mandu, or steamed pork dumplings. And rest assured, those big, plump, juicy dumplings will fill you up

It’s a good cheap eat in Seoul. When to go? Only the seriously hungry need apply. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 13, 2017

Shang hai la mian Xiao long bao, Singapore…pan fried dumplings are like xiao long bao on steroids

If xiao long bao are the Rolls Royce of the dumpling world, the Toyota must be the pan fried dumplings here in Alexandra Village Food Centre. They’re usually the reason for massive queues.

Sporting a thicker, chewier wheat dough, these little vibrant bullets of pleasure with their generous filling of succulent pork, come with a healthy slick of grease from their crispy, irresistible bottoms. The filling LITERALLY explodes with pork juices, but the sturdier wrapper holds up to some serious pan-frying. Best appreciated with chilli and vinegar, they’re cheap and by default, cheerful.

Dig into these babies as soon as they arrive — it’ll be well worth the scorched tongue.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 29, 2016

Tanjong Rhu Pau, Singapore…unequivocally delicious siu mai and near perfect pork bao

Pau or bao are probably the friendliest-looking food on earth. They are like faces made out of marshmallow; little smiley Michelin Men of deliciousness. How could you not want to stuff these little guys into your face?

At Tanjong Rhu Pau, there are plenty of hit offerings such as the tua bao (big pork buns), siu mai (shaomai)  and lo mai kai which are all near perfect. Steamed to perfection, the tua bao’s (big pork buns) fluffy white cloud-like pillowy softness give way, in this case to the flavoursome braised pork. The siu mai are most definitely a standout. These carefully assembled beauties are exceptionally tasty. Heaven.

Pau? Bao? Wow. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 25, 2016

Gyoza-Ya, Singapore…Gyozas softer than your lover’s thighs

Gyozas are the best quintessential comfort food; they are packages of joy in each bite, and generally inexpensive. They are usually a sideshow at most Japanese eateries. But over at Gyoza -Ya, these doughy half-moons have been turned into the main event.

As you would expect from the restaurant’s name, there’s a decent list of gyoza – pork, vegetable, crab, prawn. The pan-fried beauties here are delightfully plump, succulent, and juicy. Their edges seared to crisp filigrees, their seasoned interiors dense and my fav, the pork ones are pork-heavy. Service is swift and super friendly and the menu un-intimidating. Bottom line? Gyoza-Ya doesn’t serve up haute cuisine, but it does make for a pleasant spot in which to indulge in a not so- light lunch or dinner, at wallet pleasing prices.

They are (to borrow a description) “softer than your lover’s thighs” and yet I won’t want to share them with my lover. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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