PEr FYI

January 30, 2016

Jean-Georges, Shanghai…all the dishes fell just short of wowing me

Most foodies know about the lunch at Jean-Georges, which is often cited as the best value in fine dining.

One of the great things about 3-Michelin starred Jean Georges at the Trump Tower in New York is that the hospitality begins as you get out of the car, even before you enter the restaurant. Here in Shanghai, the service is professional and confident throughout.

This glorious restaurant at Three on the Bund has high ceilings and tall windows which were lovely, while the sweeping view of the Bund outside through the windows provided a nice contrast to the color scheme.

From the simplest dish of sea scallops with caramel used cauliflower, caper-raisin emulsion to the roasted beef tenderloin potato blintz apple-jalapeno puree, all the dishes fell just short of wowing me. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good, but was it OMFG-I-will-sell-my-children-and-my-soul-to-eat-here-every-day good? Can’t say it. My lips don’t lie.

I’d take Jia Jia Tang Bao over Jean-Georges any day, star or no star. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

JG Shanghai

January 23, 2016

Pollen, Singapore…Ridiculously photogenic food

Pollen is the younger brother of Pollen Street Social in London, the Michelin-starred brainchild of culinary alchemist Jason Atherton. This is as impeccably elegant and sophisticated a restaurant as you will find. I was equally impressed with the feel of the place and the front-desk welcome.

The main action, however, is in the open-plan dining room, one whose design is confident, with natural light, huge mirrors on the wall of one side and greenery outside. It’s not every day you can give a restaurant five stars for design and atmosphere, but Pollen’s intimately romantic room is irresistible.

The dishes were sublime. There were no low points – only a competing series of highlights. The masterly BBQ Iberico pork presa, baby leek, chicory, apple, sage polenta was a beautiful sight. The delicious subtlety and artistry butternut and saffron risotto, sunflower seeds, honey croutons, aged parmesan and the Angus beef short rib, celeriac, truffle potato, caramelized onions, too, looked just as gorgeous.

Pollen is simply brilliant. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

 

pollen

 

January 16, 2016

Bread street Kitchen, Singapore…Definitely not worth another visit

We were fans of Gordan Ramsay’s television shows (Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares etc) and were bent on dining at his restaurant in Singapore.

Our tastebuds were buzzing when we bit on the bread. Following that, the seared scallop starter had a textbook luxuriousness.

And then, as I thought about the main meal there – the blah baby chicken thing with the blah chimichurri sauce and the blah burnt lemon, the fish and chips with the, yawn, crushed peas – I would doze off only to awake a few days later, my face stuck to the desk.

The baby chicken looked like a science experiment gone wrong. One slice of the knife reveals the grossly undercooked bird. It looks malignant and was so disturbing. How was the fish? Who knows? All I could taste was glop.

Too many other things weren’t good enough. And the mark-up! The cheapest main on the menu is fish and chips for $26. The issue is less the exact numbers, but whether you end up looking at a dish and questioning the value. Here you do.

The compelling sense is that Ramsay, probably England’s most famous chef, draped in Michelin stars, has no feel for this end of the market; and that his name, tarnished or not, is not enough to rescue this sterile venture from sublime irrelevance. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

gordon ramsey sin1

gordon ramsey sin2

September 12, 2015

Sister Wah, Hong Kong…a Hong Kong heavyweight

If you have not eaten beef brisket noodles when in Hong Kong, you have never been to Hong Kong. It’s essentially beef brisket stewed for a helluva long time using Chinese seasonings and spices.

That unctuous broth, those incomparably bouncy, slurp-worthy fresh egg noodles and the rich, oh-so-tender, fall-apart-in-the-mouth beef briskets at Sister Wah is amazing. This bowl of noodle soup was the most easily, inarguably tasty thing I’d had in Hong Kong this recent visit. The Seaweed with three items in soup (squid ball and beef balls) was delightfully interesting too.

Sure, the dive isn’t much to look at but, complete with small round tables and stools for you to share with fellow diners, it’s the kind of joint that locals rave about and cabbies swear by. It’s just a heartbeat away from the Tin Hau MTR station Exit A.

We’re talking about the delicious, tender, slow-cooked-to-lip-smacking-perfection kind of beef brisket here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

sister wah hk

 

April 26, 2015

Antonió’s, Macau… If you can only try one Portuguese restaurant in Macau, make it this one

Macau is Hong Kong’s diminutive little brother. Over four hundred of Portuguese influence has added an extra flavour to everything from the architecture to the indigenous Macanese cuisine.

Portuguese Chef Antonio Coelho, owner and founder, is a Star Chef of Macau and his restaurant has been awarded by Michelin, The Louis Vuiton Guide, Chaine des Rotisseurs, among others. There are no gimmicks here, simply excellent, solid Macanese and Portuguese food. Antonio’s menu overflows with enticing-sounding items. One that shines is the roasted homemade Portuguese sausage which is especially good. The African chicken (imported chicken from Portugal) combines wonderfully with garlic, onions, ginger and desiccated coconut sauce, served with gratinated potatoes and mixed salad into a deliciously flavourful dish that surely impressed.

The restaurant has splendid Portuguese ambience with traditional vibes and the stroller and his guitar singing English and Portuguese songs makes this place perfect for special occasions.

If you can only try one Portuguese restaurant in Macau, make it this one. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

antonio's macau

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…

nur hk5

March 19, 2015

Congee King, Hong Kong….Yummy!!! One word sums it up.

Congee, also known as jook, is nothing more than Chinese hot cereal, a milky rice porridge. More than two dozen versions of MSG-free congee are served here in Congee King, some with additions as exotic as rabbit fish and boiled fish skin, each served steaming.

Fish ain’t my dish. The rich seafood tasting and uniquely textured baby oyster congee is especially good.  The rest of the menu offers excellent Cantonese and Hong Kong dishes, like the delicious, silky smooth and feather-like textured rice roll (chee cheong fun) with simple savoury mixed sauce.

Yummy!!! One word sums it up. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

conggee king 2 hk

congee king hk

January 11, 2015

Lei Garden, Hong Kong…for anyone after refined food and scrupulous service

Chopsticks at the ready! If you would like to have a fine Chinese or seafood meal at at a Michelin-starred restaurant, yet pay middle to low prices in Hong Kong, you can go to the Michelin-starred Lei Gardens restaurants. Offering superbly executed Cantonese dishes Lei Garden also stands out for warm service. As soon as you are escorted to your white-clothed table you will be doted over by the staff.

For the most part, though, the real pleasure at Lei Garden is in seeing familiar dishes done right. The pan fried steak and salad was unbelievably good. The king prawns were truly regal – big, flavoursome fellas. And then there’s Lei Garden’s not-so-secret weapon. Two pages of the menu are dedicated to seasonal double-boiled tonic soups along with their supposed health benefits. Pork shank soup with chinese grass was a rich, hearty, savory broth with lots of flavour but without a lot of heaviness. The pan fried crispy noodles with seafood was a cracking example of a classic dish – robust, fully rounded with just the right level of crispiness without being too oily.

This is the world’s epicentre for double-boiled soup. They are as comforting and delicious as they are exotic. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

lwi garden 2 hk

lei garden hk

December 7, 2014

Nougatine at Jean Georges, New York City…Fabulous, fantastic, formidable – any and all would describe Nougatine

It was quite an experience to dine at Nougatine at Jean-Georges and one of the best meals I’ve had in NYC.   It is the less formal of the Jean Georges restaurants and this classy casual restaurant shares the same kitchen and even a few of the same dishes (such as the classic Jean-Georges warm chocolate cake), as the 3 star Michelin JG.

I can’t say enough about how great the service was. Service is incredible from start to finish – extremely polite and gracious hosting staff, knowledgeable waiters and an awesome, phenomenal manager – Julian Bruell.  I mentioned that we have to leave by 6.30pm as we were watching a musical at 8. The service was very accommodating and friendly. They sat us at 5.20pm even before the restaurant’s official opening time of 5.30. Glasses were frequently being refilled, our waiter was very polite and attentive, and the timing of the food was spot on. At every course, our dishes were placed in front of us at the same time. I wish I had service like this everywhere.

The fried calamari with basil salt was flavoured perfectly and the citrus-chili dip was so delicious I wanted to dip everything in it! The slowly cooked salmon with sautéed potatoes, black olive and passion fruit was tender like butter and just the perfect visual spectacle. However, towards the middle of the fish, the sauce was way to sour and overpowering. With Jean Georges signature warm chocolate cake with the iced, cold vanilla bean ice-cream, I was reminded how I would get a molten chocolate cake as part of my last meal on earth. It was like a match made in heaven! No one can do chocolate cake like Mr. Jean-Georges.

This will be my “go-to” restaurant everytime I am in NYC. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

jean georges1 ny

jean georges 3 ny

jean georges 2 NY

September 13, 2014

Ho Hung Kee, Hong Kong…one slurp of this wanton noodle and you’re hooked

Affordable Michelin star restaurants, which started with Tim Ho Wan, seems to be unique to Hong Kong’s culinary landscape. Ho Hung Kee was even able to hold it 5 years in a row and that must surely speak something about this place.

The menu seems to go on forever. The house specialty wonton and shrimp dumpling soup was four shrimp wonton with chewy noodles in a clear broth with a twinge of white pepper – the restaurant’s signature dish is everything you could ask from a bowl of wonton noodles. The wok fried beef hor fun noodles was done exceptionally well. Too good. This is the place to discover the delights of congee. This is Chinese porridge, made with rice instead of oats. The salted lean pork and preserved egg congee is really good. The rice noodle rolls filled with twister cruller is also very tasty. The deluxe glutinous rice dumpling with preserved meat is super duper yummy. The char wanton with sweet sour dip is awesomely tasty and nom! Yeah, they’re all as good as it sounds.

But as all good things come to an end, the rice noodle rolls filled with barbeque pork was the only dampener. The skin of those rice noodles are too thick.

Many things on their menu appeal to me.  If I lived in Hong Kong, I would certainly be here much more often…As best of a bang for your buck as it can get! This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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