PEr FYI

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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May 11, 2019

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Shanghai…a coffee-lover’s Disneyland

Once upon a time, Starbucks prompted millions of consumers to do away with cheaper instant coffee for a more expensive specialty product. With this Reserve Roastery, it is third-wave coffee.

Upscale, and they feature cocktail bars, bakeries, snake-like tubes that transport beans across the store and unique elements, this roastery is completely unlike a typical Starbucks. There are tons of food and coffee options, plus plenty of places to sit and stay for a while with staffers navigating selections the way a sommelier might do with a wine list.

Indeed the food and drinks are, well, a few stars better than your standard Starbucks offerings. My personal favorite is the dark chocolate mocha, which is just sweet enough with a good bitter bite from the espresso. Milanese bakery Princi provides the food, notable ones are cheesecake lampone, carrot loaf cake and torta princi.

Looking around, I see coffee fiends pilgrimage here from all over. You’ll hear different languages, see a spectrum of generations, and many different styles of clothing. If you’re a coffee lover, you won’t want to miss this stop.

This massive, gleaming roastery is the Starbucks Mecca. Translation: Be prepared to be awed and overwhelmed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 10, 2018

Eataly Caffe, New York City…I died and went to Italian Heaven

Disneyland for Italian-food lovers, Eataly is an Italian-food marketplace which sells all things Italian. There’s a fishmonger and butcher (and vegetable butcher) and an espresso bar, a wine store, a cheese store, a cooking school, a kitchenware department and a great deal more. There is a restaurant at Eataly that serves fish. There is a restaurant called Le Verdure which serves only vegetables. It is bruschetta city there. There is a pasta area. And there is a first-come-first-served bar area, La Piazza, where you can stand at a marble-top table and drink wine or eat salamis and cheese as if in Venice.  From the bakery behind the pizza ovens: good breads. From the chocolate station up front: dessert.

Eataly serves up delicious dishes while offering a bite of Italian authenticity. The Prosciutto croissant with tops which are golden and flaky is packed with plenty of pleasantries. The Italian prosciutto was delicate, sweet and adds flavor to every bite. The wonderfully airy apricot croissant was irresistible pleasure! This one is truly a breakfast in bed item.

A word of advice – if you’re waiting for a table to open up at the restaurant, browse around the store but don’t buy anything. Your stomach may protest, but your wallet will thank you

Eataly is an answered prayer. It represents a step forward for Italian food in New York. It is now my new “happiest place on Earth.” This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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