PEr FYI

October 21, 2017

Les Amis, Singapore…Michelin-starred magic

The Michelin Guide is always highly regarded in the food nerd world.

Les Amis, the two Michelin-starred restaurant is one of the hotspots of Singapore. For memorable tastes matched with superb service, Les Amis offers French cuisine served in a hushed but enjoyable atmosphere. The flamboyance lies in the dishes

Book well in advance to have a chance at getting in. What more to say? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 19, 2016

Bombay Dreams, Hong Kong…I devour everything, and all but lick the plate clean

Reviewing Indian food is particularly tricky: not only are there countless regional variations, but their styles also range widely from dishevelled curry houses to high-end Michelin-starred spots.

Housed on the 4th floor in a building on Wyndham Street, Hong Kong Michelin Gourmand 2017 Bombay Dreams makes an immediate impression. The food has no problem living up to it either; high quality ingredients and intricate spicing lead to elegantly presented dishes that boast pleasantly contrasting flavours and textures.

Among the best choices: sweet potato cheese roll, samosa, chicken with yogurt and cream. The tender melt-in-your-mouth galouti lamb is the greatest hit, so that I devour everything, and all but lick the plate clean.

Be prepared for large prices and less large portions, though. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 19, 2016

Jim Thompson Restaurant, Singapore…:(

If you love Thai food, it’s hard to suppress a chronic rumble of disappointment at finding that an iconic name like Jim Thompson can fare so poorly.

I was really looking forward to my lunch – expectations were high but realistic. Without trying to sound arrogant, I am familar with top end restaurants and not unfairly measuring my experience against unequally rated restaurants. What a disappointment. The food lacks balance and is poorly seasoned.

This place is pleasant enough as a family-friendly restaurant but I would expect better quality food for somewhere with Jim Thompson’s name attached to it. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

jim thompson sin

January 30, 2016

Jean-Georges, Shanghai…all the dishes fell just short of wowing me

Most foodies know about the lunch at Jean-Georges, which is often cited as the best value in fine dining.

One of the great things about 3-Michelin starred Jean Georges at the Trump Tower in New York is that the hospitality begins as you get out of the car, even before you enter the restaurant. Here in Shanghai, the service is professional and confident throughout.

This glorious restaurant at Three on the Bund has high ceilings and tall windows which were lovely, while the sweeping view of the Bund outside through the windows provided a nice contrast to the color scheme.

From the simplest dish of sea scallops with caramel used cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion to the roasted beef tenderloin potato blintz apple-jalapeno puree, all the dishes fell just short of wowing me. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good, but was it OMFG-I-will-sell-my-children-and-my-soul-to-eat-here-every-day good? Can’t say it. My lips don’t lie.

I’d take Jia Jia Tang Bao over Jean-Georges any day, star or no star. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

JG Shanghai

January 23, 2016

Pollen, Singapore…Ridiculously photogenic food

Pollen is the younger brother of Pollen Street Social in London, the Michelin-starred brainchild of culinary alchemist Jason Atherton. This is as impeccably elegant and sophisticated a restaurant as you will find. I was equally impressed with the feel of the place and the front-desk welcome.

The main action, however, is in the open-plan dining room, one whose design is confident, with natural light, huge mirrors on the wall of one side and greenery outside. It’s not every day you can give a restaurant five stars for design and atmosphere, but Pollen’s intimately romantic room is irresistible.

The dishes were sublime. There were no low points – only a competing series of highlights. The masterly BBQ Iberico pork presa, baby leek, chicory, apple, sage polenta was a beautiful sight. The delicious subtlety and artistry butternut and saffron risotto, sunflower seeds, honey croutons, aged parmesan and the Angus beef short rib, celeriac, truffle potato, caramelized onions, too, looked just as gorgeous.

Pollen is simply brilliant. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

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April 19, 2015

Sabai, Fine Thai on the Bay, Singapore…..easily forgettable

Chef Samlee is known for her skill and expertise in Thai Cuisine. After all for thirty years, she cooked for HRH Princess Srinagarindra while she travelled.

In my mind I couldn’t quite grasp the concept of Thai and fine dining together. I love them both separately so surely I’d love them just as much together? Unfortunately I must say that we were both pretty disappointed with the meal that I received at Sabai as I love Thai food very much.

Let’s start with the positives…The delicious Yam Mamuang (spicy green mango salad with prawns, chicken, roasted coconut, grounded peanuts and sweet sauce) is bursting with fresh flavours and exotic notes. The See-krong moo op nahmpeung (deep-fried smoked honey pork ribs) is unbelievably succulent.

From really good to really bad. The Gang gwio warn gai (authentic green curry with chicken, coconut cream, sweet basil leaves, eggplant and pea eggplant) has a rich, heady flavour that comes with well-seasoned curries but the overall effect is disappointing due to the crappy “Plastic chicken”meat texture which is so rubbery and tasteless. The Pls kao sam rod, ratt prik, tawd gratiem (deep-fried garoupa fillet with three flavoured sauce, spicy and sour sauce or garlic and peppercorns) was so dry…so bad tasting.

A Thai meal would not be complete without a bowl of Dtom yum gung, pla (spicy and sour prawns and fish soup with lemongrass, galangal, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and fresh lime juice). Beware though, this one is a tongue-numbing experience.

Sabai is somewhat more expensive than many other Thai restaurants in Singapore, but judging by my recent visit, easily forgettable compared to most Thai food I’ve had.This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 29, 2015

NUR, Hong Kong…the No-Choice Restaurant

NUR doesn’t give you any choices. It serves just one prix-fixe menu of nine courses including dessert, and they came in rapid succession. The food is innovative, sophisticated and artfully presented: tomato, Hokkaido scallop, maitake mushroom, squid in noodles, scrambled taiyouran egg, mackerel, beef tongue, aomori apple, doughnut with goji cream.

NUR, which opened in April 2014, is a new one-star entry in the 2015 Michelin guide.

Be warned though; the dining space is compact and includes an open kitchen which allows you to watch the chefs working like demons stroking the fires of hell. The bill makes you think you’ve arrived there. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 15, 2015

Salt Grill by Luke Mangan, Jakarta…not worth the hype, reputation and money

For those of you not on the brink of marriage or buying a house, picking a celebrity chef restaurant is probably the most expensive decision you’ll make this week — and the gastronomic equivalent of an inflated “A” can lead you astray by hundreds of dollars.

A high-speed lift whizz you in seconds to the 46th floor. Wall-to-ceiling windows look on to a, as you might expect, stunning view– if you’re pointed in the right direction and, preferably, sitting at a window table.

Sydney crab omelette, enoki mushroom and herb salad, miso mustard broth is the signature dish. The sweetness of the strips of crab meat shone through the mild miso broth but I wished they could be more generous with the crab meat. The beautifully crispy, tender and delicious crumbed chicken makes a great combination of flavours with garlic mushrooms, coleslaw salad. The crispy pork belly, pickled green papaya salad and tamarind dressing shouldn’t be called that. There are two simple things necessary for crackling: a nice dry rind, and a good thick layer of fat underneath it. I’m an out-and-proud fat-fancier. The tender, melting wobble of it, that satisfying oily crunch – how can mere meat hope to compete? Here the crispy pork belly lacked in visual appeal and failed the “crunch test.” The signature dessert – liquorice parfait 2013 – was certainly unique but I will absolutely not order it again. Luke Mangan’s revolutionary reboot of the lamington – lamington sandwich, coconut ice cream, strawberry sauce – would be a better choice for dessert.

High ratings are often deserved, of course, and I’ve found plenty of haunts that can justify their hype but Salt Grill by Luke Mangan doesn’t measure up at all. It’s a fine place, yes, just that it is not worth the hype, reputation and money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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salt grill jakarta

February 12, 2015

Pots ‘n Pans, Hanoi…don’t read this on an empty stomach, unless you’re into drooling uncontrollably

Let me just begin by saying that I love this place! Customer Service is great! This restaurant is the merging of traditional Vietnamese flavors and textures in innovative new ways  and beautifully presented in portion sizes that won’t leave you popping out for a late night bowl of pho. On my visit it never got packed, or too loud, or hectic. The pace was slowed down. Which is fine, because debating what you’ll order may take time.

To start, they serve you with crispiest turmeric bread you will ever taste… with the olive oil dip and three levels of spice to add, they are so yummy! The twice cooked pork belly with beetroot puree, apple compote, pickles and Vietnamese herbs ticks all the boxes for pork belly punters like me, with large chunks of meat that is all crispy skin on the top, soft and juicy everywhere else. This, right here, is what dreams are made of. The grilled king prawns with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushroom satay pudding and Vietnamese herbs were beyond succulent; insanely flavorful, awesomely rich. I nearly licked my plate! Well, to keep it classy, I scraped it clean with my fork. And if you have not had the crispy banana spring rolls with chocolate sauce and cinnamon ice cream, get off your computer, get your keys and go… Like right now.

As you may expect, Pots n Pans isn’t cheap but just by these 3 dishes I would recommend this place and come back again. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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pots n pans hanoi

January 11, 2015

Lei Garden, Hong Kong…for anyone after refined food and scrupulous service

Chopsticks at the ready! If you would like to have a fine Chinese or seafood meal at at a Michelin-starred restaurant, yet pay middle to low prices in Hong Kong, you can go to the Michelin-starred Lei Gardens restaurants. Offering superbly executed Cantonese dishes Lei Garden also stands out for warm service. As soon as you are escorted to your white-clothed table you will be doted over by the staff.

For the most part, though, the real pleasure at Lei Garden is in seeing familiar dishes done right. The pan fried steak and salad was unbelievably good. The king prawns were truly regal – big, flavoursome fellas. And then there’s Lei Garden’s not-so-secret weapon. Two pages of the menu are dedicated to seasonal double-boiled tonic soups along with their supposed health benefits. Pork shank soup with chinese grass was a rich, hearty, savory broth with lots of flavour but without a lot of heaviness. The pan fried crispy noodles with seafood was a cracking example of a classic dish – robust, fully rounded with just the right level of crispiness without being too oily.

This is the world’s epicentre for double-boiled soup. They are as comforting and delicious as they are exotic. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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lei garden hk

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