PEr FYI

October 13, 2019

Kinotoya Café, Sapporo…great place to have up your sleeve

When it comes to bakeries, Japan is a goldmine. The Japanese have embraced the art of French patisserie and become seriously good at it.

Kinotoya Café is neighbourhoody, mildly hip and completely welcoming, but still ever so slightly pretentious in places. I love the omelette parfait. It sounds sound so wrong, but it is so right. You can also indulge in the pretzel croissant and soft-boiled eggs.

For me, at least, Kinotoya Cafe is a great place to have up your sleeve. 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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October 5, 2019

La Favela, Bali…get there

Nightlife can take many forms, but for Balinese and visitors looking to let off a little steam, nothing quite does the job like a night at La Favela.

The setup: There are semi-indoor gardens, artificial waterfalls and ponds, alfresco tables and chairs. Indoors the interior design is really amazing, a real work of art where antique furniture lines its floors, plants seem to be (artfully) overgrown and even old bikes and a Volkswagen van rounds off the appearance. There are cosy, intimate spaces that will have everyone spilling secrets within the hour.

Will I fit in? This is a night out for anyone and everyone, so the crowd is a real mixed bag. Oh, and more beautiful people than at a Victoria Secret’s casting. A word of advice, though: you will probably feel most at home here if you aren’t too far past your early twenties.

La Favela does a fantastic job of setting itself apart from the rest of the spots in Bali. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 28, 2019

Kitaichi Glass, Otaru, Hokkaido…put glass on the art world map

I am fascinated by glass ever since my visit to Kitaichi Glass Museum in Otaru, Hokkaido.

Over the years since it opened in 1901, Kitaichi Glass has earned world renown, with a collection of unrivaled glass works Japanese style, country style, and western style where you can view all the ways that light can sparkle and shimmer. The popular tableware and ornamental animals in motifs representing Hokkaido’s nature seem to be screaming, “Look at me!”

Kotaichi Glass has certainly raise the profile of glass as an art form. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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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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September 1, 2019

LeTAO Pathos Cafe, Otaru, Hokkaido…cheesecake Holy Land

I have to confess, I am not a cheesecake fan. After LeTao had brainwashed thousands of Asians through the power of pure indulgence and wondering what the hype is all about, I decided to take a plunge into the world of cheesecakes. It’s time for the moment I’ve been waiting for: the cheesecake cult initiation process.

The cake itself looks unassuming, but the luscious indulgently rich double fromage was so easy to finish in one sitting although biting into the dense base on its own may get a little overpowering after a while. In taste, the crepe suzette travel that thin line between “oh god, this is good” and “oh god, this is a bit much”. They are sweet and sticky but the rind of the orange pull it back from the nadir.

I am a little fatter now, a little poorer, but much happier. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 31, 2019

Lek Seafood, Bangkok…don’t make the mistake of dying before you eat here

When dining out in Bangkok, the spectre of crippling indecision lurks around every corner. Once you get past the overwhelming question of where to eat, you’re still faced with the menu: what to order? Lek Seafood provides an easy answer to both of these questions.

First of all, you should eat there. Second, show up in a group of 3 or 4 and go for these: the grilled cockles is a simple satisfying dish. Also fantastic is the shrimp in hot and sour soup (tom yum kung) which is perfectly cooked and a firm bestseller here. My favourite was the stir fried soft crab in curry sauce. I will never tire of it. The stir fried cabbage with fish sauce is also much loved and the stir fried baby clam with sweet basil was a refreshing touch between the spicier dishes. By the time you get to dessert, the choice is especially easy: the mango sticky rice may not sound like anything special but this is one of the best in the city.

Fantastic, authentic food and great service, Lek Seafood deserves all its repeat visits from all Thai food lovers. 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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August 17, 2019

Maichibo, Chiba, Tokyo…the more is definitely the merrier.

Maichibo is a lovely spot in Chiba specializing in okonomiyaki, the Japanese savoury pancake cooked on a large steel hot-plate. I won’t hold it against you if you’ve never heard of okonomiyaki before. It’s the lesser known of Japan’s delectable dishes, but it’s certainly having a moment.

The Mai Course is made up of Caesar salad and baked romaine lettuce with half boiled egg followed by tonpei-yaki pork omelette. The sauce was not too overpowering, instead, it was a great combination of the pork. Then there were grilled chicken, chiba’s beef steak 50g and Hokkaido’s grilled scallops which was pleasant rather than exciting, cooked just a fraction longer than I would have preferred. Then the main event – the Mix okonomiyaki. Its flavors—sweet and savory, spicy smoky —were instantly recognizable (as they would be to anyone who has been eating casual Japanese food of late), while the texture, simultaneously crunchy and creamy, hit all of my comfort food sweet spots. No wonder they call this stuff Osaka soul food.

If you’ve been to Chiba only to go to Disneyland, this Japanese gem is the perfect reason to return. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 12, 2019

Airbnb, Condo Grand View 360, Johor Bahru…thumbs down for misrepresenting the listing

If you’re like me, you do not know much about Airbnb. But this much I do know…when I show up to my rental, I should find that it is what was advertised.

With my rental of Unit A05-02 at Condo Grand View 360 in Johor Bahru, the listing booked is misrepresented. There were no bath towels (the listing indicated towels are included) and when I reached out to my host, Daniel, he simply blamed it on the Airbnb system. Hence at 9+pm, I had to scramble to the mall to purchase towels before the shops closed. Daniel who had been very responsive prior to that suddenly went very quiet and ignored me twice when I asked if he was going to reimburse me. Mysteriously, the wifi signal disappeared soon after and never came back on for the duration of my stay. The beds were not as comfortable as you would get in a 1* hotel. We woke up with excruciating pain in our backs. The beds are so hard and uncomfortable, I need a chiropractor.

Genuinely the worst Airbnb experience I have ever had. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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