PEr FYI

April 30, 2017

Chin Huat Live Seafood, Singapore…pumpkin crab is definitely something to savor.

There’s a lot to love about the not-so-humble crab. Singaporeans will travel to great lengths searching for the perfect plate.

You know the fish is fresh when you can spy it all glistening in the cases up front. At Chin Huat, bountiful seafood tanks packed with live produce tempts you on arrival. The menu extends to a full carte with lobster, elephant clam, bamboo clam, Dungeness crab, prawns, shell items. The pumpkin crab features the sweet and refined earthy flavor of pumpkin all umami thick, and orangey-yellow creamy, accented with tender crab meat. Second best is the stir fried crab with salted egg where the salted egg creates a lovely golden crust  – crisp and rich.

Whether you’re craving a simple clam  or an ornate plate of crabs, this is one of the better seafood restaurants in Singapore. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 21, 2015

Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi… so exceptional that there is a street in Hanoi dedicated to these grilled catfish

Cha Ca is an iconic, delicious dish which also happens to be the name of the restaurant in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. With an unassuming external appearance the shop would be easy to miss. There’s very little to appreciate in the dining area: it’s just a room with wooden tables and chairs, a large shrine on the wall and a cabinet full of dusty looking bottles of alcohol.

So what exactly is cha ca? It is a mixture of chunks of grilled, smoky catfish, turmeric, dill, shrimp paste, fish sauce, chillies, noodles and other herbs. Once the various components are assembled, the cooking is fast, and the payoff is worth the effort. I don’t think there are any set rules in terms of how you eat it. We dished a few noodles into our bowl, put a few pieces of fish and vegetables on top, poured on some fish sauce and scooped it up with chopsticks, interspersing a mouthful of herbs every now and again. Probably not the Vietnamese way, but it worked

So is it any good? It is so delicious and aromatic and the complexity of the resulting well-balanced flavors will surely leave you craving for more.

Hanoians consider cha ca to be so exceptional that there is a street in the capital dedicated to these fried morsels of fish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 10, 2014

Coastal Flats, Washington DC…the best seafood is no longer relegated to the coastline

Coastal Flats specializes in American seafood fare. The tropical decor at the entrance – a colorful metal fish hanging from the ceiling above the hostess stand – reminded me of theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood and Rainforest Cafe but I was pleasantly surprised. Our waitress was friendly, cheery, engaging and knew her facts about the menu. The restaurant is located in Tyson’s Corner – my absolute fav mall in Washington DC.

It didn’t start well. The classic crab and corn chowder turned out to be “big time salt lick.” They over-seasoned with salt and it buried the expected sweetness of the corn. It was a seriously salty soup. Just avoid the salt shaker for the rest of the day. Grouper fingers – an arsenal of crisply fried fillets (all meat, no filler) in coastal flats lager beer battered tartar sauce, accompanied with shoestring fries and extra chunky home made coleslaw – was very fresh and true to its word, crispy, perfectly fried and generously portioned. I sometimes run out of adjectives to replace words like ”really good” and this is one of those times. Jumbo lump crab cake sauteed with fries and coleslaw were also amazingly crispy and flavorful.  Lord, lord, it was heaven in my mouth!! It was the second place so far for me where I got to eat really good crab cakes, the first being at Old Ebbit’s Grill.

The best seafood is no longer relegated to the coastline. Coastal Flats is an interesting experience – and you’ll be amply rewarded for taking the plunge. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 13, 2013

Jakkajan Seafood, Phuket…I was impressed by the atmosphere and food as I was disappointed with the prices

This is a hidden gem in Phuket. Jakkajan Seafood is made up of a handful of open-air bamboo beach huts, right along beach of the Andaman sea. It’s  great little place to grab fresh seafood, just don’t go there expecting something fancy and you will not be disappointed. Yes you eat outside on pick-nick tables that’s part of the fun and you can dress in shorts, bathers, flip-flops, sarongs, pareos, etc and eat good seafood right on the sea.

Did I just say good seafood? It needs correction. It is GREAT seafood. The Fried sand crabs with salt and chilli, fried fish with fish sauce, seafood tomyum, fried rice with crab meat and shrimps rocked me to my core. The grilled shrimps are spectacular. However, the local vegetable with dried shrimp spicy and sour shrimp paste was average fare.

The downside is that, in addition to being mouth-watering, Jakkajan Seafood is also eye-watering, thanks to the cleverness of the owner in overpricing the food just because we are foreigners.  

It’s hard to beat this place for spectacular atmosphere and excellent food and I was as impressed by the view as I was disappointed by the prices. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 13, 2013

Restoran Ole Sayang Nyonya Food, Melaka…the worst nyonya food in Melaka

This restaurant serves the worst nyonya food in Melaka. The worst of the worst. I rather endure physical pain than come here again.

The sambal prawns and chicken rendang were disappointing. Just spicy and lack of flavour. Very small portions and not worth the price too. The barley drink has definitely seen better days. There was a hair in it. The chendol is tasteless and flat with no hint of any gula melaka. Don’t waste your money. Despite the taste and smell of the assam, it was still distinctively clear that the fish was not fresh. Not fresh would have been an understatement coz it’s like hours away from getting rotten.

If this ain’t the worse nyonya restaurant, I don’t know what is. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 29, 2012

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong, Ho Chi Minh City…Don’t bother to eat here

Cha ca la vong – a very popular Northern Vietmanese dish – is catfish fillet marinated in tumeric plus sauteed onions, garlic, roasted peanuts with tons of dill.  This fish is served on a sizzling silver platter with a plate of fresh lettuce, herbs, and rice vermicelli. The sauces served with this dish are the shrimpy fish sauce and the regular mixed light fish sauce. There is also crispy fried sesame rice paper served with this dish.

After having sampled this authentic Vietnamese dish in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, I’m finally starting to be able to distinguish great cha ca from the so-so stuff, and honestly the stuff here is a little below so-so.  It’s kind of too light here. The turmeric marinade isn’t as pungent (in a positive way) or strong as it usually is. The shrimpy sauce and light fish sauce are also a bit too light. They also use a different sesame rice paper than is usually served.

Nha Hang Cha Ca La Vong sounded good as a local place that has been going for 5 generations serving only one dish. The only positive – they do have a nice interior design.

 

The search for good cha ca in HCMC continues…..

This is the true truth as I say it as it is…..

January 2, 2012

Harmonique, Bangkok…woooooooonderfully characterful, quaint setting (and the food is terrific too.)

 

This characterful, quaint, reasonably priced Thai eatery is kind like an open restaurant with some tables inside and some courtyard tables in the patio full of plants, bamboo sticks, water cascades and fountains; creating a feeling of tranquility.

The food here is terrific too – great traditional Thai food with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Try the crab curry…it’s just fantastic. The grilled prawns on hot plate was ultra delicious. We also had the steamed fish with lime sauce and asparagus stir fried with chinese mushroom – yum.

Prices are moderate but this place isn’t cheap, however it is excellent value for money.

There are lots of places in Thailand to get great thai food but Harmonique is one of the nicest restaurants I’ve been to in Bangkok. It’s that little bit more special. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

June 11, 2011

Restaurante Botafumeiro, Barcelona…food and service were good but not value for money.

Good restaurant but too expensive. Good quality and delicious seafood. The staff were friendlyand helpful.

It didn’t come cheap. It was pricey, in fact, it’s overpriced. Probably won’t go back there. There are a lot of other great restaurants in Barcelona which offers equal or better ambience, service and food at better value and price, so you should probably give this one a miss. This is still the true truth because I am still saying it as it is…

June 5, 2011

Restoran Woo Lan, Kuala Lumpur…pretty decent food.

Milleniums ago, I used to enjoy the food at an old wooden zinc-roofed shed in Brickfields. One day they moved and was gone. Last week, a relative brought me to Restoran Woo Lan – a nice air-conditioned and brightly lit eatery hidden nicely in a quiet corner of Brickfields – and what’d ya know? Once lost. Now found.

The food is pretty decent. A dish a with a diff is the ginger steamed fish head aka song yee tau.  It is silver carp fish head steamed with lots of ginger. The full-of-flavour seafood curry in claypot is a definite must-have, a bit  high on the cholestrol bit but ok once in awhile (I justified to myself). Another favourite is their braised tiger skin pork. The oyster omelette is pretty cool too. Lastly, the glass noodles with fresh water prawns was good but nothing extraordinary.

This is my personal “re-discovery”of the year! This is the true truth as I still say it as it is…

May 16, 2011

Restaurant MariscCo, Barcelona…my best fish and seafood meal in Barcelona. Ever.

Restaurant MarisCo is a delicious and good value-for-money seafood restaurant in Barcelona – most unique due to its seafood’s freshness and informal “fish market” atmosphere.

Just walk up to the fish & seafood counter upon entering the restaurant and choose your fish and seafood amidst its explosion of colours enhanced by the pure white of the ice that surrounds all kinds of fish, lobsters, crabs, squids, shrimps, prawns and seashells. Once you’ve decided what you’d like to eat (it’s not easy with so much choice!), you go sit down and enjoy your wine or sangria de cava at your table while your delicacies are being cooked (once again, you have a choice as to how you want your food cooked – Andalusia style or grilled). In summary, you decide what and how you would like  – and you only pay for what is selected and weighed. Try their very delicious version of lobster paella.

This is Barcelona’s seafood at its best. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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