PEr FYI

July 21, 2019

Hakkasan, Shanghai…bill you’re likely to choke on

It’s going to be love or hate for would-be patrons, even those who can get past its many moments of joylessly expensive dining without rolling their eyes.

We eat some good things. This is remarkably pretty food. They were easy on the eyes to look at and quite nice to eat. The quality of the cooking itself is, at the moment, mixed. Regardless of how otherworldly this meal is, here is a bill you’re likely to choke on. I’m sure no one comes here looking for a bargain, but man, this place is expensive even by tourist-trap standards

And the most depressing thing? It’s full. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 14, 2019

Crab and claw, Bangkok…I tried the C&C lobster roll because you shouldn’t

Let me set the record straight: despite what the reviewers said, this roll is not worth your 950 baht.

The price of the lobster roll seemed a little pricey, even for Bangkok standards, and was pretty standard roll. The C&C Lobster roll’s limp bun was liberally mashed in with globs of chilled maine lobster pulled through drawn butter topped with lemon zest – but none of the succulence of the best of its kind. Overall unimpressive.

Love the lobster roll in burger and lobster, not impressed with this one here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 13, 2019

Pink Fish, Singapore…why bother?

Salmon burgers are one of those foods that always seem like they should taste better than they do. This leads to a feeling of disappointment like I had when watching the first few episodes of Netflix’s Iron Fist.

To be straightforward with you, my opinion on the burger is it was boring and it boils down to the salmon. Don’t get me wrong. I love salmon. But in a burger the meat feels so mashed and pressed together to the point that it tasted mushy. It lacks the tight, springy texture of beef patty. Once I got through that, on its own it just tasted boring.

There was nothing delicious or memorable about it, and that’s essential in any burger. 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 30, 2019

People & Places, Johor Bahru…There are things here I want to come back for

Let me tell you that, if you’d care to witness JB’s most mesmerising delivery of all-day breakfast, then this is absolutely the place to come. Two thoughts occur to me, very quickly. The first is that I like this place: I like the buzz. The other thought is: I like the food, very much.

We arrived without a booking, but squeaked on to a table with a  range of cactuses down the middle. ‘Why does it look like a botanical garden?’ I asked half-seriously upon entering.

The food upped the ante. The Signature hotcake – blueberry buttermilk hotcake, double cream, maple syrup, fresh strawberries, organic pea sprouts, mixed seeds and nuts was so good that I spent a long, long time slurping off my fork. Quesadilla Brekkie – fluffy tomyum scrambled eggs, chicken ham, sliced tomatoes, Alexa’s sriracha aioli, coriander, and Belgium cheddar cheese sandwiched between tortilla sheets. Topped with grated parmesan, pomegranate and a drizzle of pesto oil was far better. The Englishman’s breakfast was a generous pile of scrambled kampong eggs, streaky beef bacon, chicken bratwurst sausage, house-made baked beans, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, toasted brioche. The roasted peanut butter toasts – Alexa’s signature roasted peanut butter on muesli bread topped with sliced banana, cacao nibs, chia seeds & dessicated coconut is also very passable.

Some bucket-list places truly live up to the hype. Most importantly I am left thinking there are things here I want to come back for. This is the true truth and 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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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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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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May 18, 2019

Tsui Wah, Singapore…covers all the bases

This iconic cha chaan teng (tea café) from Hong Kong that had humble beginnings as a bing sutt (ice cafe) at Mongkok in 1967 has landed in Singapore.

The taste combination of the signature sweet condensed milk and the fragrant crispy bun was fantastic, but the weak crispiness was a bit of a let down. King prawns with XO sauce in tossed noodles is the one to go for here. The noodles were springy and the prawns were super-fresh. Wantons with shrimp roe in fish soup is also a favourite. Within the simple delicious broth, the wantons – fat, plump, and bursting with shrimp – are a winner.

What to avoid: Seafood curry with steamed rice & stir-fried instant noodles with pork chop and assorted vegetables on sizzling plate. Unless you really need to satisfy the sudden urge for curry, there are much better places to go that won’t leave you full of regret. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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