PEr FYI

October 6, 2019

Raymond’s, New Jersey…it doesn’t get more old school that this

You may not be able to tell from the outside, but stepping into this nondescript diner is like  going back in time, gotta love that 1930s style décor.

On the food front, not to miss is Raymond’s French Toast – with fresh fruit and pure Berkshires maple syrup which is heavenly – amped up with a side of smoked bacon – some of the best smoked bacons I have ever had. The food is prepared and served significantly better than most diners in tourist areas or business districts, but it’s still affordable. For a weekday breakfast, you will feel right at home.

Raymond’s reminds us that some things should never change. 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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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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March 16, 2019

Low Yong Moh Restaurant, Melaka…a reliable choice

In Hong Kong, dim sum is almost like a religion. If you’re already a devotee, you are likely to have burned your tongue on many a pork bun and dumpling.

Hidden near antique and vintage Jonker street, spot, opened since 1947, knows a thing or two about dim sum. It’s a very traditional coffeeshop and unsurprisingly the menu consists of resolutely traditional Dim Sum. The fried turnip cakes were competently done, if not especially exciting – and free of excess oil. The skins of the siu mai were a little fragile and there was precious little prawn, but the chunky whole pieces of meaty pork made up for it. The lo mai gai (Chinese Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf) was far more impressive.

Most of the basics are done well and  – some of which are surprisingly good. But despite this Low Yong Moh is still one of the better places to have morning dim sum in Melaka. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 10, 2019

Abe, Manila…a bit meh

It’s fair to say Filipino cuisine is not on the map internationally. The food is a medley between Malay, Chinese, South American and Spanish. In short it’s a mixture of cuisines from any country who has invaded or attempted to colonise the islands.

For everything under one roof, Abe serves up a hearty (sometimes hefty) array of traditional Pinoy fare from biringhe to knockout knuckles – Ang Hang take on the traditional fried crispy pata to sugpo sa gata – prawn simmered in coconut milk and spices. I ate these things on your behalf. I know. I am selfless.

But I’ve had more inspiring food – character, taste – from a bag of nuts. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 29, 2018

Conditorei Schober Tea Room, Zurich…you can’t miss this if you are looking for true Swiss delights.

This place is the spot you can’t miss if you are looking for true Swiss delights. A quaint and very Zurich patisserie/cafe in the middle of old town, this mid-19th century café is beautifully decorated with Baroque interiors and completely unique levels.

This is THE place to go for hot chocolate in Switzerland. The super rich cup of hot chocolate, a Schober classic, is made with real slabs of chocolate, and is incredibly tasty. The flavour doesn’t just disappear after you swallow, but lingers.

They take their chocolate very seriously here. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 2, 2018

Banh Mi Huynh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City…feast upon mouthfuls of incredible flavours

Banh Mi Huynh Hao is better known as Lesbian Sisters Banh Mi. The reason being that the store was opened by a lesbian couple and was originally staffed by an all-lesbian workforce.

Here, the banh mi (which translates simply as “bread” in Vietnamese) the once humble pork and pickled vegetable sandwich now elevated to heights of gastronomic chic. Banh Mi Huynh Hao is a street food stall that serves a baguette stuffed with a plethora of coldcuts, pate, spicy mayo, and fresh vegies. It is freshly made in front of your eyes and made to order. It is made to excite. The freshly baked baguettes which are kept warm in a charcoal-fuelled oven tend to be particularly airy and crumbly. The flavour was slightly sweet and extremely moreish.

This surely is Ho Chi Minh City’s finest Vietnamese cuisine. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 26, 2018

Eat., London…budget-saving food

London is not a cheap city, but it does boast a thriving foodie scene with plenty of reasonably priced dining options. Eat. is one of them, serving delicately done British fare in friendly surroundings.

Their very simplest dishes, like the pies, mash & gravy with crispy onions, really are decent. Brie & Truffle mac & Cheese with cranberry sauce and crispy onions is the ultimate comfort food. I must warn you, you might not be able to fit into your pants after eating this, your heart may have some trouble beating from all the cream and cheese, but I promise, it will be worth it. Pigs in blanket hot roll with wholegrain mustard mayo & onion & ale chutney was traditionally made with buttery rolls and warm toasty, savory hot dogs bundled inside.

Eat. is a reasonable and Instagram-worthy “cheap eat” which will give you change for a tenner. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 19, 2018

37th Street, Ho Chi Minh City…satisfy my cravings for authenticity

Walking into 37th Street feels like wandering onto a stage set where lowered wooden tables and benches, the stone pavement, the dessert cart and even the cutlery allude to the street food which influences the menu.

The vast majority of those on the menu we try burst with excitingly vibrant flavours. I had the Pho dak biet pho – pho with rare sliced beef & well done plank and beef meat balls. It was a big bowl. Nevertheless, the bowl was soon empty. It’s deceptively crystalline, belying its lushness. The steaming, perfectly balanced broth is remarkably light and carefully flavoured.

This pho is the drug of choice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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