PEr FYI

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 23, 2019

Char Casual Dining, Singapore…moved to speechlessness by their char siew

Char is renowned for its roast meats. The char siew and crispy roast pork belly are pure meaty succulence and flavourful intensity. And what flavours! The meats are as good as anything you’ll get in Guangdong and need to be eaten with just some steamed rice to make you feel that life – and food – really doesn’t get much better than this.

The Signature char siew – melt-in-your-mouth tender, with a sublime sauce that is the ultimate blend of salty, sweet and deliciously sticky. The crispy roast pork belly – the crackling that comes from the meat is the main character of a good roast. The meat has been marinated in a blend of Chinese and Western herbs and roasted on high heat. By all means try some salted egg pork – tender pieces of boneless rib meat deep fried for a crispy outside but a tender inside and stir fried in a creamy sauce of salted egg, chilli and curry leaves and, to balance the simplicity of the meats, add in Char’s homemade charcoal beancurd with spinach and wild fungi – homemade silky charcoal beancurd that’s steamed and then deep fried, laid on a bed of poached spinach and topped with wild fungi and a delicious sauce.

The prices border on a blow-out, so order carefully. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 11, 2016

Yung Kee, Hong Kong…eye-wateringly expensive.

For every awesome restaurant in Hong Kong, there are also a good number of food establishments that make me want to roll my eyes. This temple to charcoal roasted goose is unashamedly, perhaps reassuringly, eye-wateringly expensive.

The quintessentially Cantonese goose comes full of flavor with glossy, lacquered crispy wafer-thin skin, a light chew, and a slightly citrussy mandarin-peel high note throughout the juicy, gamey meat. The char siew (roast pork) meat was so soft could almost feel it melting on my tongue but the sauce lacked flavor.

Honestly, there are many underrated, inexpensive places to grab a bite to eat in HK– just take my word for it. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 28, 2016

Hiang Ji Roasted Meat Noodle House, Singapore…a blatant rip-off

So what makes a bad restaurant? Obviously dreadful food is a hurdle, then there’s surly waiting staff, a dingy atmosphere, woeful decor and the crucial litmus–value for money. If there’s something that really niggles, it’s being ripped off.

To be fair, Hiang Ji in Toa Payoh, which I’ve taken a dislike to clearly isn’t the worst in Singapore. Rather, it’s the most disappointing.

I do believe in paying the proper price for food. So I’m not advocating dirt-cheap restaurants. Likewise, as I said, the very best restaurants are worth their huge bills, which is why I and many other people save up to go to them. But when places like Hiang Ji charge full whack for extreme portions, it really annoys me. A small sharing platter can be of different sizes and prices, depending on the kitchen’s whims and fancies. No amount of feedback nor complain will get them to change it for you.

A meal here could cost the price of rent in some cities. While that’s an exaggeration, it’s best to avoid this place and just go with the others if you’re going to spend the money and get the best roast meat possible. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 21, 2016

Restoran Eastern Dragon, Johor Bahru…tragic fall from grace

Here are some words to describe the food: “rubbery,” “flavorless,” “mushy,” “gluey,” “swampy,” “limp,” and “dispiriting.” I hate everything. Everything, including the service, got two thumbs down and luckily for the restaruarant, I ran out of thumbs at that point.

This is not any old restaurant. This is Eastern Dragon, where, since the 1990s, has been hailed by several publications as one of the finest restaurants in Johor Bahru. Their famous roast duck and char siew were the talk of the town.

Has there ever been a more drastic fall from grace than that? The answer is no. There has not. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 21, 2015

Restoran Famous Seremban Favourites, Petaling Jaya…..drool-inducing char siu

To many Chinese, the mere mention of char siu (BBQ pork) would conjure up a mental picture of juicy, tender, savory, fatty BBQ pork belly dripping in a savory, sticky, and uber delicious sauce, sliced into thin pieces and served with steaming white rice. Here in Restoran Famous Seremban Favourites the drool-inducing half lean and half fat meat (pun fei sao) caramelised meat is slightly charred around the edges. In the mouth, the square chunk of fat releases bursts of flavour with every bite. I have been liberated!

The awesome hakka noodles comes with a bit of shredded pork and it goes hand-in-hand with the Char Siu. The noodles was good; being springy and coated with just the right amount of sauces; most evidently the drizzle of lard oil coating/lubricating the strands. The toppings of minced and savoury pork was the crowning glory.

For the uninitiated, this restaurant is not located in Seremban. As its name suggests, this restaurant specializes in hawker foods that are popular in Seremban but this restaurant is located in PJ. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 4, 2011

Causeway Bay West Villa Restaurant, Hong Kong…the char siew pau gets FOUR exclamation marks!!!!

Like many other dim sum places, West Villa serves dim sum at lunch. It’s known fot its “Tai Ko char siew” (translated: “Big Brother Char Siew”)- apparently they named their specialty BBQ pork after Jackie Chan because he likes it so much. And true to form, the irresistible BBQ pork bun (Cha Xiu bao) has superb fillings, the slightly sweetened flavour was balanced perfectly and the bun’s texture was great. Best of all, the pork is crispy on the outside whilst moist and juicy on the inside.

The restaurant is large by Hong Kong standards. The décor is bright and the tables spacious. For a late lunch (it was past 1pm when I got there) it was still pretty busy, mainly with locals – always a good sign.

Char siu bao at lots of other places are slushy textured BBQ pork on the inside, but the BBQ pork buns here is all meat.  No slushy fat.  The bread was nice and soft.  I have tasted lots of good ones, but the ones here seals the deal. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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