PEr FYI

June 15, 2019

Paste, Bangkok…tastebud-smashing Thai food

Talk about fusion: Michelin-starred Paste must be the only restaurant in Bangkok that mixes traditional tongue-blasting Thai recipes written centuries ago with an innovative and creative twist. It matters not. Paste has wowed me with ingenuity and authenticity.

The triumphant water melon, ground salmon with fresh shallots and roasted galangal powder (served at the inauguration of the temple of the Emerald Buddha in the year 1809 King Rama I) was light, delicate, intriguingly moreish and a mishmash of surprising flavours . What’s not to love about that? It was one of those dishes you eat in smaller and smaller mouthfuls to ward off that moment when there’s none left. The smoky southern yellow curry with premium Australian spanner crab, hummingbird flowers, Thai samphire and turmeric had levels of deep flavors that just kept revealing themselves spoonful by spoonful. Get the chiang rai jasmine rice perfumed with organic jasmine flower to go with the curry.

Paste’s dishes are a jumble of flavours, but nothing about this place is a mess. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 7, 2018

Maze, London…Gordon Ramsay needs to get back in the kitchen

In the heart of Mayfair, this was one of Gordon Ramsay’s most acclaimed London restaurants. It lost its Michelin star in 2015. He’s one of those celebrity TV personalities you’ll either love, or hate – I still haven’t made my mind up yet.

The gorgeous chili and garlic juicy prawns grilled sourdough was perfectly cooked. The first thing to say about the steak (dry aged 21 days) is that it is cut proper thick. It was a lovely piece of meat. It is elsewhere that Maze falters. The grilled loch Duart salmon had to be sent back  as it was overcooked to the point of charred.

Gordon Ramsay needs to get back in the kitchen of Maze and sort it out. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 3, 2018

Wagamama, London…Just not worth it.

While Wagamama is a semi-intriguing name, the interest can stop there. This is clearly Japanese food tailored to a Western palate. Everyone love Japanese food, but the Japanese food here is really mediocre as far as I’m concerned.

And the Shirodashi ramen?  (slow cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles on a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg) Well, that left much to be desired.

What to avoid: The poorly made Wagamama ramen (grilled chicken, seasoned pork, chikuwa, shell-on prawns and mussels on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with half a tea-stained egg, menma, spring onions, wakame and pea shoots) was objectively terrible. It was barely Japanese at all. And for a Japanese restaurant, what an achievement!

Why settle for middle of the road when there are other options? Just sayin’. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 26, 2017

Restoran Ming Huat, Melaka …mee kahwin is a mash-up you don’t want to miss

Mee kahwin, crudely translated is married noodles. It is – excuse me while I use the f-word – a fusion dish. The dish may sound frighteningly exotic and confused, but the marriage of mee rebus and Indian rojak has innate cohesion.

The mee kahwin here at one of the stalls at Restaurant Ming Huat is well executed, inventive Malay cooking served with sweet, sour, salty, spicy and peanuty flavour combinations. Yellow noodles are topped with taukua (fried beancurd), hard-boiled egg, potato cubes, fresh bean sprouts, crunchy cucur udang (prawn fritters), and cut green chillies, bathed in generous ladles the lip-smacking gravy.

It’s a mash-up you don’t want to miss. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 21, 2017

Dragon-I, Hong Kong…cream of Hong Kong’s club scene

Whether you’re looking to meet someone new, dance to the biggest DJs in the world or just want to have the kind of legendary night you’ll keep secret until the day you die, you’ll find it all in Hong Kong.

Dragon-I is an amazing uber-chic club with a stunning setting. A dining area known as Red Room, a dance floor and bar space with New York-style booth seating called Playground. It doubles as a modern restaurant and the food is surprisingly good. The crowd is those that know and those that want to find out.

Dragon-I is the cream of Hong Kong’s club scene ensuring a great night out in style. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 12, 2016

Greyhound Cafe, Bangkok…the complicated noodle is almost incomparable

“Simple with a creative twist.” The stylish chic design Greyhound Cafe is a delicious den of Thai classics with a contemporary twist, going all-out with a truly unique menu offering.

Greyhound famous fried chicken wings – deep fried marinated mini chicken wings in fish sauce were a tad too salty for me but the Complicated Noodle…..noodle sheet + fresh lettuce leaves +minced pork sauce + chilli sauce is the absolute must-try. You need to do a bit of work but every bite is well worth your effort. You’ll enjoy a taste sensation that is a party on your palate. No kidding.

A wonderfully innovative approach to authentic Thai cuisine. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 8, 2016

Watanabe Coffee, Singapore…bloody awful

Bad restaurants are, like colds and car breakdowns, things that just happen to me. I had a taste of that with Watanabe Coffee not too long ago.

Watanabe Coffee intends to evoke traditional Japanese and Western fusion cuisine. We tried so many items from the lunch menu but all bar none of the dishes went across the divide that separates average from awful. We couldn’t leave fast enough

Watanabe Coffee should consider closing down and reopen as the Museum of Unappetizing Lunch Servings. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 6, 2016

White Flower Factory, Bangkok…I walked away pleasantly surprised.

I wasn’t expecting much from this innocuously named Siam Square One outpost, but I walked away pleasantly surprised.

I opted for the Thai tea crepe was reasonably pleased with the layers of paper thin crepes, each separated with a brush of light thai tea flavour. A simple, effective conversation stopper unless conservation could be construed as a series of affirmative grunts. The chocolate fudge looks and tastes great. It’s a plate which calms the senses like the orderly simplicity of a Japanese garden.The lemongrass juice was sweet and refreshing with a clean aftertaste.

Taken on its own merit, this is a fun, casual cafe you’d definitely use if you were in the area. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 16, 2016

Lollipop Rotitiam, Penang…service can be a little shaky

One cannot fault the ambition. Attempting to be a local coffee-shop with a cafe feel this very unassuming place innovative delicious and comforting Malaysian food. The name is a play with words “roti” (bread) and “kopitiam” (coffee shop).

Well, occasionally inventors come up with something so right it transcends fashion: Land Rovers, iPhones, Angry Birds. Gong Ji Xia Dan is Lollipop Rotitiam’s attempt at this category. A slice of thick slice of bread topped with their homemade duck egg kaya spread and two half-boiled eggs, though delightful, could not be called cutting-edge.

The question is this: should we resent paying more and waiting insanely long for food you could – almost – prepare at home? 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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