PEr FYI

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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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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April 7, 2019

Mangan, Manila…there is little to delight here

While there are many words I can use to describe Mangan, I’m going only to say this: Mangan is a bad restaurant. There is little to delight here.

The mediocre kare-kare buntot ng Baka tastes like something left over from the night before, which may just have had its moment 12 hours ago. I tried to eat it. I really did. It was as memorable as Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance.

An unappetizing and underwhelming dish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 10, 2019

White Restaurant, Singapore…I brave the queue to get in, but I’ll go elsewhere next time

The white beehoon (rice vermicelli) revolution is already well underway. The small, unshowy White Restaurant now has 5 outlets across Singapore.

Service is friendly, fast and informal. As for the food, I don’t have any negatives to speak of. In addition to the white beehoon, I had the sambal lala and the meat and seafood roll which will complement the dish excellently. There was satisfying freshness to all of the food I tried, an evenness of ­flavours, a happy contrast of ­textures and temperatures.

Was it a transcendent experience? Well, the ­answer is no. It was decent, yet not brilliant. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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