PEr FYI

September 15, 2019

Yu Kee Bak Kut Teh, Kota Kinabalu…decent enough

Oohs and aahs went up as the waiter placed all the plates and bowls in rapid fire across the two tables we’d joined together. And so begins a classic game of everyone’s favourite bak kut the (pork rib soup) pastime: how much can you eat before it gets cold? You’ll attempt to pop some pork ribs into your mouth at the same time as some you tiao and your pork belly. It’s the constant pressure to eat faster that keeps things interesting, right?

The food rundown. Decent enough.

The best I’ve had in Malaysia? No. The second best I’ve had in Malaysia? Still no. 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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June 2, 2019

Wang Dae Bak, Singapore…at last, a Korean with real Seoul

It is an expression of Korean culture and Wang Dae Bak delivers that in spades. It has amazingly authentic K-ambience where the food arrives rapidly and the bill doesn’t faintly depress you. It feels like a rare, special place, offering familiar Korean flavours.

The menu covers a tight edit of all the things you’d expect to see. The marinated prime rib and marinated shoulder were incredible renderings. The spicy chicken is a little greasy, but satisfying for all that. The seafood pancake is bang on. The downside is that the very hard and tough pork rib didn’t reach the heights of everything else.

Over the speakers, K-pop boys sing on, but I only have ears for this shameless pork. A visit to Wang Dae Bak is dinner deep in Seoul where the smoke gets in your eyes, your hair and your memory. And I like it there.

If you are ever nearby, you know what to do. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 28, 2019

Tai Hing, Hong Kong…the most unpleasant thing I could have ever put in my mouth

Let me be clear: what is supposed to be highly rated Cantonese roast meat in Hong Kong, turned out to the most unpleasant thing I could have ever put in my mouth.

To comprehend the complex awfulness of this Tai Hing meal, think of the actor Rowan Atkinson, in his famous “Steak tartare” skit, contorts his face a thousand different ways while choking down a grayish patty of raw meat. The initial flavor was bland. It was dry and hard. I felt my eyes water up as I chewed. I tried to swallow. I felt my entire GI tract prepare to purge. And then I regained my composure and pulled an Atkinson, which is to say: I spat the nasty bits into a tissue paper and almost stuffed it into my laptop backpack.

Decidedly way below average. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 9, 2019

Pao Xiang Bah Kut Teh, Kuala Lumpur…tapas style bak kut teh

Chopsticks at the ready!

The String-Tied Bah Kut Teh is a method of tying up the meat with a cotton string to keep its shape and texture. The string keeps the meat from falling apart during the boiling process, making it firmer and easier to absorb the essence and flavour of the herbs.

Poh Xiang has gone upscale from a 30-seater stall in Klang to a self-consciously stylish restaurant in Pavilion, Kuala Lumpur. Served tapas style – small individual portions of food that allows a magpie approach and diners can zigzag to check out the mouth-watering choices of typical BKT dishes which are wide and varied.

You will be treated to some big and bod flavours with the pai kut, sum chan bah, ka wan, de tor, hun teng, Kim cham kor and braise egg. It’s hardly surprising that everything tastes so good.

Regardless of how otherworldly these dishes are, the bill is something you’re likely to choke on. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 6, 2019

Brotzeit, Singapore…excels at the classics

German food is heavy, starchy and often bland — yet people love it. Brotzeit is a haven for German food lovers year-round.

The most impressive entree was the crispy oven-roasted pork knuckle – oven-roasted hind shank of grain-fed pork, marinated for 24 hours with premium draught beer, massaged with proprietary spice mix to achieve a juicy meat and crispy crackling skin. Served with sauerkraut and potato salad. Another hit was the grilled pork sausages – a firm German favourite, and one of Brotzeit’s signature dishes, the sausages are hearty and packed with flavour. It came with mashed potato and sauerkraut. The standout dessert was the dessert medley – the perfect sweet ending to share, the dessert platter includes an Apple Strudel, Warm Chocolate Cake, Vanilla Crème Brule, and Lemon Crème. Comes with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and red seedless grapes.

Brotzeit is doing more for Germany’s public image in Singapore than even its footballers. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 8, 2018

3 Geori Butchers Blue, Seoul…meat mecca

Sleek without being imposing, this Korean barbecue restaurant is the real deal. When a Korean barbecue place wants to set itself apart from all the other Korean barbecue places, it has essentially three variables to play with: meat, heat and sides

The meat is luscious black iberico pork from Spain. The pork belly – a cut with the perfect balance of fat and protein is the true star. The other meat that really steals the spotlight is Korean beef sirloin – premium Korean beef sirloin that has nice marbling with natural flavor. They don’t try to be overly clever, or self-consciously modern, rather concentrate on getting the fundamentals right.

Oh, for a table-top barbeque place, 3 Geori Butchers Blue is not smoky at all. This way, your happy dining memories can live on in your social media, and not on your clothes.

If you’ve got that BBQ craving, then you’ve come to the right place. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 5, 2018

979 Nine Seven Nine Kopitiam, Penang…salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is unmissable.

Penang is replete with high quality dining options that won’t break the bank, it just takes a little local knowledge to sort the wheat from the chaff. NSN is a super cheap local eat where you can stay stuffed without emptying your wallet. It may be a simple, humble little joint, but it’s astoundingly satisfying.

The star of the show?

The real deal comfortingly basic  salted vegetable minced pork bihun soup is remarkably deep, savoury and a wonderful depth of flavour. It is a contender for “best food in Penang” and I was told it regularly attracts long queues of devotees. It succours the old school and the hungry. It is no beauty but a winner. Seriously incredible, now I can NEVER stop craving for it. The deep fried wanton from a nearby stall in the same eatery is equally unmissable. Both are perplexingly cheap and  insanely economical.

Take friends, and order big. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 15, 2018

Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen, Singapore…man, this pork cutlet is good

Ton Katsu or Pork Cutlet shares a semblance with schnitzels.

Here at Hajime, the premium pork loin is the star, a perfectly fried cutlet coated with crunchy Japanese bread crumbs. And what meat it is—luxurious, thick, juicy and packed with porky flavor. Dipped into the sauce, the meat is moist and delicious. his isn‘t a taste of what tonkatsu has been—it‘s a taste of what it‘s become. The stock at Hajime is very good. It is a deep, rich, intensely life-affirming thing (albeit not for the pigs that must die in its making). The ingredients are simmered long and slow in water. Think 12 hours.

Go to Hajime to experience the religious power of properly fried pork. It is the way to make a bad day good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 17, 2018

Druckwasserwerk, Frankfurt…hearty German cuisine that hits the spot

To the uninformed first-timers, Druckwasserwerk might be dismissed as a huge 19th-century machine hall. Indeed it once housed the steam engines needed to operate the elevators and cranes in the nearby port. Today, what makes it special is the industrial-scale ambience.

The beautifully fried wiener schnitzel – wiener veal schnitzel, potato, cucumber, wild cranberries – stands out. The Schnitzel is perfectly crisp on the outside and inside, filled with cut-with-a fork meat. It’s a monumental plateful, as in you could use it as a headstone when the time comes. There are always specials, and they are always worth considering. The kleine pastasackchen –  truffle filling, Roquefort cream was comfort-food heaven. The small cake of conched Swiss chocolate with liquid core, blueberry cream and chocolate fondant dessert was very good too.

Nothing sophisticated. Just good bourgeois food. And sometimes that is exactly what is needed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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