PEr FYI

February 23, 2020

Eneko Shop, Sansaku market, Otaru…serious about seafood?

No trip to Hokkaido would be complete without sampling Japan’s most prized resource – allergies permitting. A stone’s throw from Otaru stations, the Sansaku market  presents a terrifically seductive dance of fresh, gorgeously prepared seafood and shellfish, tucked in one of Hokkaido’s most beloved neighbourhoods – Otaru.

Eneko Shop offers the kind of food you have to work for. It’s virtually impossible to avoid a queue, and you’re likely to be elbow-to-elbow with strangers. Stunning seafood dishes like octopus are profound in their simplicity, bringing out clean, startlingly robust flavors. Make sure you have the more ambitious dishes like the Seafood rice bowl with Hokkaido specialty, ikura (salmon roe) for a total experience which is dizzying and unforgettable. Everything is exceptional. It’ll leave seafood enthusiasts bragging for weeks.

You’d be advised to come with an appetite. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 26, 2020

Osteria dell’Acquabella, Milan…the ossobuco definitely floats my boat

Ossobuco – or rather slow-braised veal which would sound more appetising – is a dish that should be left to the Milanese. So said the great 19th-century writer, Artus. So, when you’re in Milan, forget about pizza and pasta although both  can be downright heavenly.

There is no debate here: Ossobuco Milanese (served with saffron risotto) at Osteria dell’Acquabella is absolutely delicious and soul-satisfying it’ll knock more than just your socks off. It is creamy, rich, silky smooth and vivid in both color and flavour with veal which is fall-off-the-bone tender.

A good sign is that Osteria dell’Acquabella is full of locals (including families) who know their stuff when it comes to food. This intimate and comfortable place is one of my most exciting discoveries. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 30, 2019

Vino e Cucina, Milan…the Costoletta was fun and satisfying to cut into

What meal most typifies Milan? That has long been a subject of intense debate in Italy’s business and fashion capital. The simple cotoletta alla Milanese, or veal cutlet fried in butter is a dish you can find everywhere in the city

Here in the Vino e Cucina, the atmosphere is sterile but the thick, dense Costoletta alla Milanese – Milanese cutlet is crumbed and browned in a strangely uniform manner, and served with a simple and sympathetic shaved salad. Think of wiener schnitzel, but thicker, bone-in, and with a juicier interior. Have it with a side of Patate al Rosmarino – Potatoes with Rosemary.

Vino e Cucina is never going to be the hottest place in town. That’s fine as long as they keep serving costoletta like this. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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