PEr FYI

May 19, 2019

Teshikaga, Sapporo…cure your ramen cravings.

In the heart of Sapporo’s red light district, Ganso Ramen Yokocho, the “original alley”  – a long narrow alley which features 17 popular shops offering different flavours of miso ramen. There are mutterings about noodle strengths, and the mammarian wobble of one soft-boiled egg over another. The problem is that, as with so much in Japanese culture, once you get past a certain quality threshold it’s very hard to distinguish one thing from another.

The one I ordered – the all the shoes  miso ramen – snow crab, barbecued pork topped ramen with miso (bean paste based soup) is a vivid flash of colour. The broth is a lovely shade of rust with a kick. The barbecued pork meat is soft, the fat beginning to melt away into the broth and respectable noodles come with a lovely bite.

With the kitchen directly in front of you, you can watch your bowl get assembled from start to finish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 18, 2019

Tsui Wah, Singapore…covers all the bases

This iconic cha chaan teng (tea café) from Hong Kong that had humble beginnings as a bing sutt (ice cafe) at Mongkok in 1967 has landed in Singapore.

The taste combination of the signature sweet condensed milk and the fragrant crispy bun was fantastic, but the weak crispiness was a bit of a let down. King prawns with XO sauce in tossed noodles is the one to go for here. The noodles were springy and the prawns were super-fresh. Wantons with shrimp roe in fish soup is also a favourite. Within the simple delicious broth, the wantons – fat, plump, and bursting with shrimp – are a winner.

What to avoid: Seafood curry with steamed rice & stir-fried instant noodles with pork chop and assorted vegetables on sizzling plate. Unless you really need to satisfy the sudden urge for curry, there are much better places to go that won’t leave you full of regret. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 11, 2019

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai…a coffee-lover’s Disneyland

Once upon a time, Starbucks prompted millions of consumers to do away with cheaper instant coffee for a more expensive specialty product. With this Reserve Roastery, it is third-wave coffee.

Upscale, and they feature cocktail bars, bakeries, snake-like tubes that transport beans across the store and unique elements, this roastery is completely unlike a typical Starbucks. There are tons of food and coffee options, plus plenty of places to sit and stay for a while with staffers navigating selections the way a sommelier might do with a wine list.

Indeed the food and drinks are, well, a few stars better than your standard Starbucks offerings. My personal favorite is the dark chocolate mocha, which is just sweet enough with a good bitter bite from the espresso. Milanese bakery Princi provides the food, notable ones are cheesecake lampone, carrot loaf cake and torta princi.

Looking around, I see coffee fiends pilgrimage here from all over. You’ll hear different languages, see a spectrum of generations, and many different styles of clothing. If you’re a coffee lover, you won’t want to miss this stop.

This massive, gleaming roastery is the Starbucks Mecca. Translation: Be prepared to be awed and overwhelmed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 1, 2019

Restoran Kapal Layar, Langkawi…Not satisfying. Only satisfactory.

Restoran Kapal Layar does not set any new paradigms. It is satisfactory instead of satisfying.

The presentation of almost all the dishes was underwhelming and unremarkable. While it is not the epitome of any particular trend, most of the food coming out of its kitchen is quite ok. If I were to recommend one meal that captures some of the energy in the Langkawi dining scene right now, I might come up with reasons not to mention Restoran Kapal Layar. It is an outlier.

This is essentially an IKEA cafetaria. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 28, 2019

Tai Hing, Hong Kong…the most unpleasant thing I could have ever put in my mouth

Let me be clear: what is supposed to be highly rated Cantonese roast meat in Hong Kong, turned out to the most unpleasant thing I could have ever put in my mouth.

To comprehend the complex awfulness of this Tai Hing meal, think of the actor Rowan Atkinson, in his famous “Steak tartare” skit, contorts his face a thousand different ways while choking down a grayish patty of raw meat. The initial flavor was bland. It was dry and hard. I felt my eyes water up as I chewed. I tried to swallow. I felt my entire GI tract prepare to purge. And then I regained my composure and pulled an Atkinson, which is to say: I spat the nasty bits into a tissue paper and almost stuffed it into my laptop backpack.

Decidedly way below average. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 27, 2019

Suage+, Sapporo…soup curry: Japan’s most underrated dish

Soup Curry – heavy, saucy and comforting – is one of Japan’s most underrated dishes.

Start by choosing the type of curry base you want…here choose your kind of curry from Crispy “Shiretoko” Chicken & vegetables – chicken (boneless), potato, carrot, eggplant, pumpkin, boiled egg, maitake mushroom, green pepper or Braised “Furano” pork kakuni – braised pork belly, potato, carrot, eggplant, pumpkin, young corn boiled egg. The broth is soupier than traditional Japanese curry. Then, select your desired spice level. Chicken-me chose the mild version. Next, choose the amount of rice you want and request any additional toppings. Most locals scoop rice onto their spoon and dip it into the curry, but you won’t be kicked out if you ladle the soup curry over your rice instead…like us.

It’s a spectacle of color that tastes as good as it looks. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 21, 2019

Manam Comfort Filipino, Manila…If you haven’t been here yet, you need to

With the popularity of the many wonderful Chinese, Japanese and Thai eateries spreading throughout the world, I can’t help but feel that the food of the Philippines isn’t given the love it deserves. It’s time that changed.

The menu at Manam is expansive and affordable whether you’re in the mood for a warming bowl of Lomi or a plate of tender Chicken Adobo and everything is delicious, thanks to their excellent chefs  – so order lots and try a bit of everything – just the way it’s supposed to be. The House crispy sisig – pork jowls and cheek, chopped and served on a sizzling plate brings me to my knees as does the heart-palpitatingly good Sinigang na Baboy sa Sampaloc – pork shoulder simmered in house-made sour tamarind broth. Also insanely good are the Sinigang na Beef short ribs & Watermelon – Namnam favourite and an original family recipe and Gising gising – sigarilyas, kangkong, coconut cream, chilis, pork, bagoong saute. and Turon of mango & kesong puti with ice cream. (I think this is a good time to note that writing out this paragraph has made me incredibly hungry, and has also ruined this week’s efforts at the gym)

A few trips to Manam and you’ll be able to separate your sisig from your sinigang in next-to-no-time. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 20, 2019

Dragon-I, Johor Bahru…it’s Chinese food done properly

I could not have been more excited. I have enjoyed everything this group has offered whenever I’ve been to one of its KL outposts, and I was thrilled that I would no longer have to travel so far.

The food at Dragon-i is really nice and really distinctive. We ordered the Auspicious Treasure Pot (Poon Choi b/ pencai). What arrived was a sizable bowl of braised Chilean premium abalone, premium sea cucumber, Japanese dried scallops and oysters, premium mushrooms and fresh sea prawns, roast chicken, braised pork belly, pork balls, dried beancurd skin, yam, black moss, chinese cabbage, broccoli, deep fried beancurd skin, radish and pork bone stock. The seafood was fresh and well-seasoned; the pork juicy and tender; and the vegetables soaked up the richly flavoured broth very nicely. Service is extremely efficient in this large operation, but don’t expect it to be cuddly.

Drawbacks? The kitchen occasionally gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – the food is really nice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 14, 2019

Café Yoshimi, Sapporo…refreshingly, as simple as that

If I know one thing it’s this: Japan has its fair share of absolutely gorgeous Instagram-worthy cafes and restaurants. Tucked away in the first basement floor of the newly opened Akarenga Terrace, Cafe Yoshimi is perhaps the platonic ideal of a café. Relaxed, quietly confident service matches the food and beverage offering.

If you’re after something for straight-up deliciousness, the chocolate and banana pancake is on a par with anywhere in the country. The banana and chocolate are a classic combination and coupled with eh soft and fluffy pancakes, this is irrefutable proof that God exists and wants us to be happy. The thick-cut French Toast and ketchup sauce Omurice add to the all-round appeal of this popular spot.

Unhurried atmosphere, lovely service and great food, Café Yoshimi has it all. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 13, 2019

Tsui Wah, Shenzhen…failed to impress me

Tsui Wah is the Shenzhen outpost of a revered restaurant of the same name in Hong Kong. Let’s cut to the chase: this is the place if you want to visit a giant, super-sized neon version of Hong Kong’s humble coffee shop cafes (called a cha chaan teng, literally a tea food hall).

The dishes are pure Hong Kong comfort food, an eclectic and inexpensive assortment of Cantonese, Asian, and Western fare prepared for the Chinese palate. Start your meal with a local favorite—milk tea—followed, perhaps Lamb Chop Curry, King Prawns in XO Sauce with Tossed Noodles and wonton with fish roe in fish soup. And you’ll be missing out if you don’t try the famous crispy bun topped with sweet condensed milk.

Although there wasn’t much wrong, it failed to impress me. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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