PEr FYI

March 2, 2019

Max’s restaurant, Manila…a zero-star rating

The restaurant’s shtick is the fried chicken, with a unique blend of secret spices, talagang sarap to the bones! It is meant to be the golden fried to perfection.

Mr Max, have you eaten at your restaurant? Did you eat the half spring chicken? Did it live up to your expectations? Hey, did you try that Adobo ribs, the one that looks like nuclear waste? How did it, one of the hardest dishes in the Philippines to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable? When you wrote on your website saying, “household name in the Philippines, an institution, and a proud Filipino tradition”, were you just messing with our heads?

Wonder no more. It is not good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 26, 2018

Eat., London…budget-saving food

London is not a cheap city, but it does boast a thriving foodie scene with plenty of reasonably priced dining options. Eat. is one of them, serving delicately done British fare in friendly surroundings.

Their very simplest dishes, like the pies, mash & gravy with crispy onions, really are decent. Brie & Truffle mac & Cheese with cranberry sauce and crispy onions is the ultimate comfort food. I must warn you, you might not be able to fit into your pants after eating this, your heart may have some trouble beating from all the cream and cheese, but I promise, it will be worth it. Pigs in blanket hot roll with wholegrain mustard mayo & onion & ale chutney was traditionally made with buttery rolls and warm toasty, savory hot dogs bundled inside.

Eat. is a reasonable and Instagram-worthy “cheap eat” which will give you change for a tenner. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 4, 2016

Shilin Market, Taipei…bring an appetite

Taiwanese night markets are a not-to-be-missed experience. Flying the flag for night markets is Shilin – perhaps the most famous and biggest Taiwanese night market.

Crowded and squeezy, the maze of alleyways is filled with clusters of hundreds of small stalls and street vendors selling a variety of local delicacies. Try everything  from skewered cuttlefish to fresh fruit to Taiwanese sausages to two of the market’s most iconic dishes: pan-fried buns and slabs of fried chicken cutlets. To decide what to eat, wander around and let your eyes and nose make the selection for you. This vibrant and colourful market blends street food with local souvenirs, designers, textiles, homeware and jewellery for a well-rounded market experience.

If you’re food-obsessed but don’t have the disposable income for Taipei’s best restaurants, Shilin is your saviour. Entry is free. The food, of course, is not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 21, 2016

Pizza Express, Hong Kong…I’ve never had anything quite like this Peking duck pizza

I love pizza. It can do no wrong. So imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this Chinese-owned former British restaurant chain in the Hong Kong airport. Pizza Express is the sort of smart-casual pizzeria without breaking the bank. I told them I need to have a quick lunch as I have a flight to catch and I did not have to wait long for my pizza. I was very pleasantly surprised.

Most pizzas are big enough to share; you’d need a huge appetite to get all that food down solo. I had the innovative and exotic Peking duck pizza – Spiced duck, hoisin sauce, chilli, spring onions, cucumber (no tomato) – did taste like a duck pancake, flavoursome – sweet and spicy – which enhances the taste of the soft roasted duck meat. Gourmet pizza it is not but it’s not supposed to be.

This is truly an outstanding Asian twist to pizza.I’ve had a few pizzas in my time, and I’ve never had anything quite like this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 31, 2015

Chipotle, Orlando…a blast of spice

I usually avoid places like Chipotle, but seeing how this fast-casual Mexican restaurant has torn like wildfire across the United States and beyond with over 1,800 locations and beyond, while McDonald’s – which sold off Chipotle – is battling declining sales and traffic, I decided to find out for myself, what the buzz is all about.

Perhaps Mexican food just isn’t one of the world’s great cuisines. I am not actually partial to burritos. The huge portion and the number of ingredients slapped together, too often irrationally, make most burritos hard slogging. This place is a mecca for those want to eat healthy because the food is cooked fresh and there are a whole bunch of vegetables! About the only thing wrong with the burrito was the firm, rubbery flour tortilla, which posed a sturdy shield. One thing I learned here is that if I ever needed to test myself to prove my masculinity, I’ll take up boxing. Definitely no obliterating hot sauces packed with naga and habaneros for me in the future.

Well, now I can say I’ve tried the fad for Mexican, but on this evidence I won’t be revising my opinion of it. Thankfully, I was spared the dreaded “Chipotle stomach.” This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 11, 2015

Universal Citywalk, Orlando…super touristy but I love the atmosphere

Universal Citywalk is a shopping and entertainment area that is free for anyone to enter. You don’t have to go to the parks. You can hang out here. Located at the entrance of their main theme parks, there is a lot to see & do; plenty of dining options, drinking holes, souvenir shops and cinemas. All or almost all of them are chains so you aren’t getting any local flair here.

The largest Hard Rock Café in the world, The Bubba Gump Shrimp & Co and many more…no matter what your taste, you can find something you love here! For what they do, Hot Dog Hall of Fame is great. The place itself was pretty teeny tiny but they offer a line up of 9 hot dogs all served with French fries. The Detroit: Koegel dog, Abbott’s coney chili and diced onions was simply outstanding. I wish I had ordered two.

CityWalk’s Rising Star, Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom, Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville, AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX and many others provide entertainment that comes alive when the sun goes down. More than 10 million people worldwide have experienced the unique style of Blue Man Group. Three mysterious, talented, and energetic bold and blue characters takes the audience ona goofy, kiddish, colorful, big ole party…which would be fun for kids. It’s definitely so overloaded with skits/acts that you almost forget there’s legitimately no substance to them. I’m not sure why the audience was laughing so hard; either they were into the silly acts or they were all high.

Super tourist-y or not, I love the atmosphere and hustle & bustle of CityWalk. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

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August 2, 2015

Smashburger, Los Angeles…By far one of the Best Burgers I’ve ever had. Soooo juicyyy!!!

Smashburger is a thoroughly modern fast-casual restaurant (where you order at a counter just as you would in a fast food joint but the food is delivered to your table by servers), offering healthy and fresh better-burger chain, using certified Angus beef. Instead of just one bun, it lets customers select from four artisan bun offerings: egg, multigrain, spicy chipotle and even brioche. As the name suggests, the Smashburger kitchen uses the much-talked-about “smashing, seared and seasoned” technique.

I happily gobbled a highly laudable Classic smash – American cheese, Smash sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion on an “artisan”egg bun. The egg bun has a texture and robustness that compliment the seared patty. The crust on the patty is truly impressive, adding a significant amount of crunch and snap to each bite. Besides conventional fries, there’s smashfries – shoestring fries tossed in Italian olive oil, rosemary and garlic.

As a gourmet burger and at $10 to $12, a meal at Smashburger will typically set folks back $2 to $4 more than a meal at McDonald’s. Moreover, with the TV overhead, you can watch sport channel while eating.

The verdict? It is not only good; it’s in the same big-time league as Shake Shack’s. This is the true truth as I still say it as it is…

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June 19, 2015

Harry Ramsden, London…..the most disappointing legendary

Fish & chips. Britain’s comfort food. These are not two separate food items that happen to share a plate — they are intrinsically linked in a dance of lusty oil and crunchy desires, while a bottle of malt vinegar flirts around the edges.

It states choice of Cod or Haddock. I asked for Cod. It looked as though it had melanoma. It did not taste of Cod it tasted like they need to change the oil! The real star of the fish and chips show is the batter. One’s heart sinks a little. I wasn’t a huge fan of the batter and the chips were limp and pallid.

Harry Ramsden was the uncrowned king, his Fish & Chips were unbeatable, and since then the name has gone on to become a worldwide franchise. Oh! How the mighty has fallen. I think I’m still on the lookout for that perfectly amazing Fish & Chips in the UK. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 26, 2014

Potato Head Folk, Singapore….the bill’s a whopper

Pricey, overly complicated burgers aren’t usually my thing, and normally, I wouldn’t bother reviewing a hamburger with such a steep price tag. But this needs to be written so yáll can be warned. The humble hamburger has certainly come a long way from its fast food origins.

With all of that said, did the cheeseburger live up to the high expectations? I had the smoking B-Boy and yes, it did. It was as good as I had hoped but it didn’t surpass my expectations. The Naughty Fries – Spiced béarnaise, hot beef chilli, crisp shallots, parmesan & sesame seeds – were awful. Instead of being thinly sliced and crisp it was massively soggy. It was so bad that I couldn’t get past four measly fries, despite being hungry enough to finish the entire serving, and then some

The main problem with offering a hamburger for between $20 – $28 is living up to inflated expectations. Every time I eat a burger that’s more than $15, I can’t help but do the “burger math”, using a cheaper alternative. Potato Head’s burgers costs more than Fat Boys and 10 times as much as ‘McDonald’s, and sadly, wasn’t any better than either. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 7, 2014

Shake Shack, Washington DC…A burger is just a burger, right? NOT Shake Shack…

Shake Shack was rated in the local newspapers here in Singapore as the BEST burgers and fries in the USA. I could not understand what the hype was about until I tried the food. Then it made more sense. There was an inner struggle going on where I was trying to compare the food at Shake Shack to In-N-Out. It’s hard to say whether one is better than the other. The taste is just different. They use different sauces, and I like them both.

The burgers are smaller than I had anticipated. I had the Shackburger…cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and shacksauce and it was truly fresh, juicy, tender, delicious – an explosion of flavours. They even have root beer on taps!

Shake Shack is not just about the food, it’s about the whole experience of standing in line with friends, trying to round up tables and chairs while waiting for the food. The outlet I went to at 10.30 at night has more hot, sweaty people packed into it than a train headed for Mumbai.

Do not go for a quick bite, there is no “quick”. That line is serious and another 15 mins. to get my food but  it’s completely worth a try. What a huge tease….This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

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