PEr FYI

April 5, 2020

Twin Anchors, Chicago…get a taste of what Chicago ribs are all about

According to its website, Twin Anchors has hosted Frank Sinatra and countless other celebrities and has been featured in both Return to Me and The Dark Knight.

The baby back ribs are Chicago-style, meaning it’s not even technically considered barbecue. The ribs are slow-cooked rather than smoked, so the sweet and sloppy meat droop lifelessly in the classic Chicago fall-off-the-bone fashion. And, oh yes, I love the “zesty” (really tangy) sauce which elevates these bone shiners to finger lickin’ good.

Charmingly dingy and as neighborhoodsy as can be, the space is small and it’s a no-booking restaurant, so you might have to queue. I am not sweet-natured. I’m getting old. I might be dead soon. The food really has to be worth it. Happily, at Twin Anchors, it is.

If I lived in Chicago, I’d have a hard time staying away for too long. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 22, 2020

Hakkasan, New York City…you’ll die poor but happy

New York’s Chinese food scene is a diverse beast. There’s pork ribs to sweet, stir-fried-whatever-you-can-think-of, Hong Kong Dim Sum, the classic Peking duck and of course the comforting staples including noodles and fried rice (and way, way more) at eateries both high end and super casual.

With its innovative Cantonese cooking, Hakkasan is still the benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Their stylish interior and moody lighting attracts all kinds of beautiful people.

We started with hakka steamed dim sum platter – scallop shumai, har gau, prawn and Chinese chive dumpling, black pepper duck dumpling. The pastry was perfect in give and texture, just elastic enough to encase generous bites of flavour-packed meat and seafood. The stir-fry black pepper beef ribeye with Merlot was equally good, the melting tenderness of top-quality meat turning the clichéd staple into a luxury – Chinese takeaways should weep with shame. We also enjoyed the hot and sour soup with chicken, shiitake and pomelo, spring onion and fried egg rice and the tofu, aubergine and Japanese mushroom claypot with chili and black bean sauce

You’ll die poor but happy. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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June 5, 2019

Mammy Pancakes, Hong Kong…good but not great

Egg waffle also known as eggettes or egg puffs or egg cakes or bubble waffle is a popular snack in Hong Kong. It’s like what macarons are to Paris or what biscotti is to Italy. Nobody loves egg waffles like Hongkongers do, so much so that there’s an egg waffle festival held in Causeway Bay.

Mammy creates ton loads of flavours like chocolate chip, pork floss, seaweed, white sesame, matcha, cheese and everyone’s most / least favourite salted egg yolk. They are airy and light, super crispy on the outside, and warm and fluffy inside. It is a Michelin recommended snack shop.

Decently nice but I wouldn’t waste 30 minutes of my life queueing for it. 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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November 25, 2017

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck, Singapore…A solid “C”

It continues to amaze me how upscale Changi Airport has become. The Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck is probably one of the most famous chef in world.  Wolfgang’s name carries a lot of weight so I went into The Kitchen in Terminal 3 with high expectations.

Nothing was really terrible about the food, but nothing too great. I would recommend the pizza!  But that’s about it. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 21, 2017

Les Amis, Singapore…Michelin-starred magic

The Michelin Guide is always highly regarded in the food nerd world.

Les Amis, the two Michelin-starred restaurant is one of the hotspots of Singapore. For memorable tastes matched with superb service, Les Amis offers French cuisine served in a hushed but enjoyable atmosphere. The flamboyance lies in the dishes

Book well in advance to have a chance at getting in. What more to say? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 20, 2017

Tsuta, Singapore…I’ll be honest: this is not worth the wait

Ramen is all the rage at the moment, and it’s easy to see why: there’s nothing finer for a light dinner than a bowl of noodles and delicious homemade broth.

The “world’s first and only Michelin-starred ramen joint” doesn’t sell ramen. It sells only soba…made primarily (but not exclusively) of buckwheat (soba), which gives it a different, stronger flavor.

A queue of ramen-lovers is normally snaking down the street waiting patiently for their noodle fix. The setting of Tsuta is low key. Ordering and payment is made at a touch-screen machine. The broth is enhanced by the richness of an infusion of truffle oil. The slice of roasted pork char sui on the surface is, although tender, not deeply tender enough. The noodles are firm and slurpable.

Time is precious. I’m getting old. I might be dead soon. The food is good but is not worth the wait. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 14, 2017

Yongsusan, Seoul…wholeheartedly traditional

CNN Travel’s 10 best Korean restaurants in Seoul, rated “Good standard” on MICHELIN Guide 2017.  Yongsusan is a restaurant which even Korean food traditionalists would struggle to call anything but authentic.

The wholeheartedly traditional sole set menu include dishes such as napa wraps with stir-fried pork, tofu cake, assorted pan-fried delicacies, casserole in a hot pot, meat and vegetable brochette and so on. The bulgogi too is reliably on the point and compelling.

This is the place to come for home-style Korean cooking. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 18, 2017

Candlenut, Singapore…a study in average

Last year, Candlenut was awarded one-Michelin-star status, an accolade that means its cuisine is “a very good restaurant in its category.”

So I went.

It being the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant, I was really looking forward to my dinner – expectations were high but realistic. My meal at Candlenut was a study in average, unevenly cooked fare, a tough sell in a city like Singapore. The kitchen seemed to try too hard to be “different” but the food was often too bland. None of the plates served barring the homemade kueh pie tie shell, crab meat, yeye curry, pickled shallot, laksa leaf – were, in any way, remarkable. When you are paying good money for a meal you expect at least a few dishes to be memorable.

Overpriced. A one-star disappointment. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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