PEr FYI

January 27, 2020

Karma Sutra Bar & Kitchen, Koh Samui…isn’t a place worth traveling out of the way for

When dining out in Koh Samui, the spectre of crippling indecision lurks around every corner.

When evaluating local Thai spots, I like to run restaurants through my Thai Restaurant Test, which features just one question – “Would you eat anything other than pad thai here?” Karma Sutra gets a C+ on that test. King prawn Thai style and Deep fried garlic and pepper squid are worth ordering.

Having said that, Karma Sutra isn’t a place worth traveling out of the way for. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 26, 2020

Osteria dell’Acquabella, Milan…the ossobuco definitely floats my boat

Ossobuco – or rather slow-braised veal which would sound more appetising – is a dish that should be left to the Milanese. So said the great 19th-century writer, Artus. So, when you’re in Milan, forget about pizza and pasta although both  can be downright heavenly.

There is no debate here: Ossobuco Milanese (served with saffron risotto) at Osteria dell’Acquabella is absolutely delicious and soul-satisfying it’ll knock more than just your socks off. It is creamy, rich, silky smooth and vivid in both color and flavour with veal which is fall-off-the-bone tender.

A good sign is that Osteria dell’Acquabella is full of locals (including families) who know their stuff when it comes to food. This intimate and comfortable place is one of my most exciting discoveries. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 19, 2020

Pez Vela, Barcelona… irrefutable proof that God exists and wants us to be happy

Paella, Spain’s most famous dish — mountains of yellow rice cooked with seafood, chorizo, and/or chicken in big lidded pots called calderos, enough to feed two or three hungry diners. Where can you get the best paella in Barcelona? This is a really common question for visitors coming over to visit this beautiful city.

Luckily for you, I’ve already covered that question!

Upon entering the warm, welcoming Pez Vela, the surroundings are immediately evocative of the Mediterranean. When the mouth-watering and hearty brothy rice with lobster landed on the table, it was belt-bustingly big so that the red crustacean seems to be crawling out of the caldero. Unlike paella, the rice here remains immersed in boldly flavoured broth and actually portioned to share.

Perfect paella. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 12, 2020

Blackbird, Manila…Hear me now: do not make the mistake of dying before you have eaten here

There are places, that, have great food, but more importantly will also guarantee you a good time. That mean dishes that go beyond excellent but make you smile, too. And all at the right price. Which doesn’t necessarily mean cheap but definitely means value for money.

To start, dive into the exceptionally decadent mushroom, fortina and truffle arancini. The salt and pepper squid and shrimps with sweet soy and ginger was as unusual as it was delicious. Then there’s tempura eggplant and prawn fritters with nuoc cham. These are all more tiny mouthfuls than actual dishes.

The main event comes in the form of impossibly thin slices of grilled short rib, green onion and ginger, kimchi, hot bean paste, lettuce and rice. It is utterly delicious and truly one of the undisputed stars of the show.

Then have a little rest – because you really should try a sundae. The dessert is worth saving space for. The burnt butter and vanilla seed ice creams, chocolate brownie, candied pop corn, salted caramel is an ice cream lover’s dream come true. I believe I have found the single best dessert available right now in the Philippines, or, for that matter, anywhere else.

This is an impressive date spot if you want to bring out the big guns. You’ll keep talking about this truly delicious meal long after leaving. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 11, 2020

Aburi-EN, Singapore…how evocative the flavours are

Aburi, literally translates as “flaming” is a style of cooking to create a smokey fragrance.

We started with the Hokkaido ika surume – grilled Hokkaido squid. For any lover of squid, the result is exquisite. You can really taste the charring. Equally impressive was the premium buta bara don – grilled chestnut pork belly on rice. Best of all was the Wagyu Karubi Don – a lip-smaking grilled miyazaki wagyu on rice.

So go in ones or twos or many. But go. Do. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 5, 2020

Calbee Plus, Sapporo…honestly you just need to try it.

Although it doubles as shop for snacks and confectionaries and suchlike, Calbee Plus really scores with its line-up of Poterico and soft ice cream.

With the Poterico Salad, there’s no reinvented wheel here, but everything’s exactly as it should be: the chips have an exceptional, almost Kettle-like crunch, which gives way to a fluffy dream of an interior. They are to me, what porridge was to Baby Bear: not too thick, not too thin, snappably crisp and rustling invitingly.

Hokkaido Soft Ice Cream is seriously good ice cream. Looks-wise, it has nothing on the new generation of gourmet ice cream but it’s smooth, creamy and flavourful – it’s totally worth it.

Life’s too short to eat bad ice cream. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 4, 2020

Los Caracoles, Barcelona…lots to like here, and lots more that could be better

I bloody love a snail. Dig in with the tiny fork. Probe the crevices of the now empty shell with your tongue. Then get to work with torn-off pieces of bread, dredging and dredging again at the garlic butter. Being such a fan of escargots, I made a beeline to Los Caracoles for the Spanish version of special snails.

The Special snails – Caracoles especiales are served on small plates from a big dish where they are kept hot in their sauce. The spicy touch they have makes them different from other snail recipes. I wouldn’t call this dish a triumph. Less satisfactory was the garlic shrimps – gambas al ajillo but the Catalan roasted 1/2 chicken – 1/2 pollo a l’ast was a return to form. The Paella “Los Caracoles” was pretty average

There’s lots to like here, and lots more that could be a little better. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 30, 2019

Vino e Cucina, Milan…the Costoletta was fun and satisfying to cut into

What meal most typifies Milan? That has long been a subject of intense debate in Italy’s business and fashion capital. The simple cotoletta alla Milanese, or veal cutlet fried in butter is a dish you can find everywhere in the city

Here in the Vino e Cucina, the atmosphere is sterile but the thick, dense Costoletta alla Milanese – Milanese cutlet is crumbed and browned in a strangely uniform manner, and served with a simple and sympathetic shaved salad. Think of wiener schnitzel, but thicker, bone-in, and with a juicier interior. Have it with a side of Patate al Rosmarino – Potatoes with Rosemary.

Vino e Cucina is never going to be the hottest place in town. That’s fine as long as they keep serving costoletta like this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 29, 2019

Fatt Kee Seafood Restaurant, Kota Kinabalu…go fish

Good seafood is hard to come by – but when it’s done well, it’s probably the most delicious thing you can put in your mouth.

Down here at Fatt Kee Seafood, the menu is fiercely unpretentious, with bold flavours and tried-and-tested classics winning out over fiddly presentation. Happily, both somebodies and nobodies get an equally warm welcome here, and the unfussy but spot-on fish is spectacular – in tom yum soup.

Fresh fish slice? fresh fish head? fish ball? fish paste? fish maw? All here, and all good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 7, 2019

Sushi House, Johor Bahru…Strictly no dieters

Here me now: This modest, casual, wallet-friendly spot serves up quality sushi at serious value.

On our dinnertime visit it was buzzy, relaxed and the service was lovely. Just the right amount of bustle: no one rushing you through your meal. A favourite was the stunning, “get-your-phone-out-and-get-snapping” large sushi boat – minimum 20 servings of sushi or more. Next up, captain crunch – 8 delicious pieces of fried prawns with crabstick & cucumber sushi roll topped with shrimp roe, spicy mayonnaise, sweet sauce and crunch. The ebi tempura mayo – fried prawn with mayonnaise was amazingly light. Also great: the addictive chicken katsu don – fried chicken cutlet on rice. The soft shell crab temaki – fried soft shell crab with cucumber & lettuce can be risky – but here it’s perfection.

Sushi House fulfils most of the criteria for my ideal sushi restaurant. Strictly no dieters. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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