PEr FYI

October 6, 2019

Raymond’s, New Jersey…it doesn’t get more old school that this

You may not be able to tell from the outside, but stepping into this nondescript diner is like  going back in time, gotta love that 1930s style décor.

On the food front, not to miss is Raymond’s French Toast – with fresh fruit and pure Berkshires maple syrup which is heavenly – amped up with a side of smoked bacon – some of the best smoked bacons I have ever had. The food is prepared and served significantly better than most diners in tourist areas or business districts, but it’s still affordable. For a weekday breakfast, you will feel right at home.

Raymond’s reminds us that some things should never change. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 31, 2019

Lek Seafood, Bangkok…don’t make the mistake of dying before you eat here

When dining out in Bangkok, the spectre of crippling indecision lurks around every corner. Once you get past the overwhelming question of where to eat, you’re still faced with the menu: what to order? Lek Seafood provides an easy answer to both of these questions.

First of all, you should eat there. Second, show up in a group of 3 or 4 and go for these: the grilled cockles is a simple satisfying dish. Also fantastic is the shrimp in hot and sour soup (tom yum kung) which is perfectly cooked and a firm bestseller here. My favourite was the stir fried soft crab in curry sauce. I will never tire of it. The stir fried cabbage with fish sauce is also much loved and the stir fried baby clam with sweet basil was a refreshing touch between the spicier dishes. By the time you get to dessert, the choice is especially easy: the mango sticky rice may not sound like anything special but this is one of the best in the city.

Fantastic, authentic food and great service, Lek Seafood deserves all its repeat visits from all Thai food lovers. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 25, 2019

Cheung Fat Kitchen, Hong Kong…the food here is worth the guilt

I am well eaten (and equally well travelled) and still managed to come a cropper in a review of Cheng Fat Kitchen, a cheap, boisterous restaurant in Hong Kong’s North Point. The food is really nice, and really distinctive, reliably tasty — and cheap

Everything about the char-grilled beef short ribs (thick cut, house special pepper sauce) is great.  Meaty, juicy, lick-your-fingers clean amazing. Save room for some of the best steamed clam with wine & lotus leaf. Don’t leave without trying the sweet and sour pork (sauce served separately). There are thousands of Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong, but few have sweet and sour pork like this. Savoury and crunchy, sweet and tangy: it’s addictive stuff. Treat with caution.

Your best bet here is to come with a big group of friends and order as much as you can. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 17, 2019

Maichibo, Chiba, Tokyo…the more is definitely the merrier.

Maichibo is a lovely spot in Chiba specializing in okonomiyaki, the Japanese savoury pancake cooked on a large steel hot-plate. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of okonomiyaki before. It’s the lesser known of Japan’s delectable dishes, but it’s certainly having a moment.

The Mai Course is made up of Caesar salad and baked romaine lettuce with half boiled egg followed by tonpei-yaki pork omelette. The sauce was not too overpowering, instead, it was a great combination of the pork. Then there were grilled chicken, chiba’s beef steak 50g and Hokkaido’s grilled scallops which was pleasant rather than exciting, cooked just a fraction longer than I would have preferred. Then the main event – the Mix okonomiyaki. Its flavors—sweet and savory, spicy smoky —were instantly recognizable (as they would be to anyone who has been eating casual Japanese food of late), while the texture, simultaneously crunchy and creamy, hit all of my comfort food sweet spots. No wonder they call this stuff Osaka soul food.

If you’ve been to Chiba only to go to Disneyland, this Japanese gem is the perfect reason to return. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 6, 2019

Lynn, Shanghai…its glory days are long past

In fairness to Lynn, it was a Sunday night, and when I last visited in March it practically was a ghost town. We had nearly the  entire restaurant to ourselves. It can’t be a good sign.

Indeed, it has an air of style with contemporary dark wooden walls with highceilinged room. The menu, like the restaurant itself, has a solid, timeless quality with a mixture of Shanghainese and Cantonese.

It is only fine. And that’s the thing. It could be a place in which to utter the words: “What the hell; hang the expense. It’s good.” Instead, they’re filling it with the words, “Will this do?”

For me, its glory days were a decade ago. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 29, 2019

Kub Kao Kub Pla, Bangkok…For the sake of doubt this is a positive review

First of all, you should eat here.

Take the pad thai with prawns: springy but pliable, and soft but not mushy. Then, the sauce that coats them: Salty, sour and sweet. The combination is hard to top. Or take the stir fried crab meat in yellow curry: it’s mild, it has decent flavor and it’s smooth. Or the cowslip creeper omelette. I had heard mutterings about this particular dish online for a while. It’s one of those that you just have to try, because if you don’t try it you are missing out. You are less than a complete person. I hate being less than complete.

The menu can be surprisingly wallet-friendly. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 16, 2019

Baikohken, Asahikawa Ramen Village, Hokkaido…oodles of noodles

Not all ramen are created equal. There are salty, brown-coloured, broths and milky-coloured ones. But which restaurants really strike the perfect balance of flavoursome soup base to soft, silky noodles to extra ingredients? What is the secret that sets one ramen join apart from another? Who is top of the broths?

My mission to find the best ramen took me to Asahikawa Ramen Village in Hokkaido. The broth is pretty rich here. For the full-on indulgence, go for the charsiew ramen miso. Make sure to add in the butter, just because you can. The gyoza is a worthwhile side.

Overall, the food was good but not memorable but I can think of 50 other places I can get the same or better quality ramen. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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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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