January 6, 2018

Nathan’s Famous, New Jersey…no better, no worse

Deep down, I just want to be eating the real Nathan’s dogs at the original Coney Island stand, but I guess, this Nathan’s stall at Jersey Garden food court is what I have to settle for.

A mild, juicy meat and crispy exterior that “melds in a nice way” with bun and condiments. They have the pop when you bite through the skin, releasing all those yummy juices into your mouth. The low points are that it feels processed.

Nathan’s is no better, no worse than any hot dogs in America. Is this as good as it gets, or do I really need to go to the original location? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

nathan nj2

nathan nj1


December 6, 2014

Umami Burger, New York City…Underwhelming Umami

The chain that forever “changed the burger game”. The “finest burger in all the land.” The owner Alan Richman himself described the burger as “half beef, half beyond belief.”

I ordered a Truffle Burger ad truffle fries. They were the saddest fries I’ve seen. Lukewarm and almost limp, they were glued together by a congealed, paste-like substance that might have once been gooey, melted truffle cheese. The burger arrives, stamped with a thick capital U in purplish vegetable ink. The Truffle Burger was grilled to a perfect medium rare with a crisp, caramelized crust, the texture of the meat nostalgically reminiscent of meatloaf.  ‘Umami’ is the word for savory in Japanese. The  focus is on ramping up the umami flavor (the hard-to-pinpoint fifth taste, after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, best exemplified by MSG) in almost every component of the burger. It was a really good burger, but for all the umami bluster isn’t notably different from other good burgers around town. Game-changing? no.

After all the hype, Umami Burger truly underwhelms. It just doesn’t hold up against similar burgers in its price range  or even the far superior, and slightly cheaper Five Guys and Shake Shack. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…



October 18, 2014

Warong Pak Sapari, Singapore…utterly delicious mee soto

Adam Road Food Centre. Andrew Zimmern came here. The Vice President of America Joe Biden was here. Ventilation is poor and it does get stuffy. Parking is a problem. Despite all this, I would still make my way down to Adam Rd just for the Mee Soto. Mee Soto Ayam is a classic Spicy Chicken Soup, commonly found in Malaysia,Singapore and Indonesia (”Soto” means “soup” and “Ayam” means “chicken”) and comes with cubed rice, chicken and bean sprouts .

At Warong Pak Sapari, the aromatic and richly flavoured chicken broth of the soto which has just the right amount of spices, turmeric, ginger, fried shallots and the coriander (Ketumbar) hits your sweet spot for sure. They give you a generous helping of tender shredded chicken pieces, lontong and crunchy bean sprouts but don’t forget to order the giant bergedil.

Comfort and atmosphere may leave a lot to be desired at this food centre, but this unassuming, modest stall offers one of the finest mee soto ayam in the country. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


March 2, 2013

The Outlet Collection, Jersey Gardens, New Jersey…Massive Tax Free Outlet Mall

It’s under an hour-long drive from New York City to Jersey Gardens Outlet Mall, which is situated near the newark airport. Though not that high end, there’s something for everyone in particularly the younger crowd with heaps of shops selling street fashion and a large entertainment complex for watching movies and playing video games.

First things first, the shops in thisoutlet mall are indoors – so it doesn’t matter what the weather or temperature is like outside. Because Jersey Gardens is an Urban Enterprise Zone, sales tax on non-clothing items is only 3.5% and there is zero sales tax on clothing items – you’ll save money even before you benefit from the low outlet mall prices! There were over200 shops in the mall but quite a few were disappointing with very little selection and/or sizes. Big name shops like Last Call by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nike, Abercrombie Outlet and Calvin klein were massive letdowns.

There are no real “good” restaurants in the mall. With the exception of Johnny Rockets, the rest are clustered in the food court…Sbarro, Nathan’s Famous, Great Steak & Potato Co, to name a few.

This is a very touristy place – everywhere you look you will see an Asian, Hispanic or European. The only reason I will return to this mall is because of its proximity to New York City and that Woodbury is a long drive away. This is the true truth as i say it as it is…

January 26, 2013

Lot 10 Hutong, Kuala Lumpur…some of the best hawkers in KL under one roof

Lot 10 is a shopping mall in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur which has seen better times.

Lot 10 Hutong is a great dining concept. Located at the basement of Lot 10 Shopping Centre, Lot 10 Hutong is a food court with an important difference – the tenants comprise loh chiu pai (heritage brands) with second or third generation operators who inherited their skills from their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents. This is the best and most convenient place to get a fix of KL top and famous old time hawker foods.

The variety is quite mind boggling and you need multiple visits to try everything. The Soong Kee beef noodles, a Hakka speciality of the Soong Kee restaurant in Jalan
Silang, which has been in existence since World War 2 in 1945. I love the springy, smooth hand-made beef balls in a steaming hot peppery soup, served with noodles topped with minced  beef sauce. In the Penang char kway teow there’s the pretty good size prawns, cockles, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), chives, bean sprouts, and even pork lard. The kway teow too is properly oiled, and with that fire going, you get that slightly charred taste to it too. Notable stalls are: Mo Sang Kor Bak Kut Teh from Klang, Ho Weng Kee Wantan Noodles from Petaling Jaya, Campbell Mini Popiah from Lorong Tiong Nam, Hon Kee Porridge from Jalan Hang Lekir. 

But be discerning, though because not everything’s THAT good. Avoid the chicken rice unless you want to pay through your nose for a smallteenie weenie portion of chicken.

If you haven’t been to Lot 10 Hutong yet, you should. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


lot 10 hutong

January 29, 2012

Soon Kee Lor Duck Rice, Singapore…deliciously sublime. My go-to place for braised duck rice

I’ve been to this stall in Thomson Longhouse more times than I can count and no that’s really not an exaggeration. I’m a fan. I love this place. I overeat every time I visit but it’s totally worth it. This is my go-to place for Lor (Gravy) duck rice.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but I think it is something to do with the ‘Lor’(gravy) and it blends so well with the yam rice. The deliciously tender and juicy boneless duck meat has something that what I would call a ’smooth consistency’ and it’s very pleasing to the palate. Maybe the texture of the rice has a role to play too as I do remember the yam rice I had there were always soft and puffy.

This is my undisputed Braised Duck Rice champion of the world! I can have this for lunch everyday. This is the true truth as i say it as it is…

April 23, 2011

Restoran Ka Hoe, Johor Baru…”kway teow kia”. A MUST HAVE piggy orgy

If you have never eaten kway teow kia before, it is similar to the kuey chap in singapore…piggy organs and spareparts.  The difference is instead of the squarish “kway teow” that is used in kuey chap, kway teow kia uses ultra thin, ultra smooth, ultra satiny flat kuey teow (flat noodle). It is served in a bowl of delicious herbal-like soy-base soup. Personally, I prefer this kway teow kia to the kway chap – it feels like silk in the mouth. The accompanying mixed plate of braised goodies – portions of hard boiled egg, pig intestines, stomach and innards, tau pok and pig skin were delicious. It’s an omnivore’s delight.

They are closed on alternate Tuesdays. Opening hours are 7am till 12.30pm. This is my favourite joint for piggy orgy. Still, I reckon they should serve 2 Crestor or Lipitors (cholesterol-lowering statins) with every bowl. This is still  the true truth because I still say it as it is…

February 13, 2011

Restaurant Win Heng Seng, Kuala Lumpur…Oh. My. God. These freshly baked mini egg tarts are just heavenly.

The mini egg tarts here are as good as the portuguease ones I had in Macau. In the 20 minutes I sat in this coffeeshop, I observed trays after trays of over fresh egg tarts with wobbly egg custard being snapped up the moment it’s brought out of the oven.  The egg tarts here appeared dainty and small. These little devils are just heavenly – Oh. My. God. – sugary sweet plus the aroma of feshly baked pie crust. They were baked until just firm on top (not dried out nor scorched). The custard was silky smooth with the perfect balance of sweetness. The tart’s puff pastry crust was amazingly flaky, and crumbled easily to our bite.

Oh yes, when you are in this coffeeshop and you are tempted to try the chee cheong fun, don’t. It’s a waste of time and money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

January 8, 2011

Restoran Ahwa, PJ, Malaysia…sumptuous no nonsense hokkien mee

The Hokkien Mee (noodles coated in thick dark soya sauce, topped with fried lard) is served with a generous helping of prawns and pork. The texture and taste of the noodles – the balance of saltiness and sweetness – is just right. The bright red sambal aka chilli sauce that accompanies the fragrant, piping hot noodles is a must-have.

There are other good eats at Resoran Ahwa: The lala were juicy and spicy and the loh bak was pretty satisfactory.

Definitely a most satisfying meal. This is the true truth and I say it as it is…

December 19, 2010

Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, Barcelona…a must!

The place is so gorgeous and coloured and lively I could see it again and again and enjoy it every time as the first time. Do keep in mind that this is not only a market to come and buy, but also to enjoy the pleasure of wandering around. Everything is just so colorful and delicious looking.

I always buy freshly squeezed and concocted fruit juices which are amazing and so cheap! Breakfast every morning here (the bread feels like it’s out of the oven straight into our mouths) is a must.  La Boqueria’s best feature may be its huge fresh Seafood Section. However, other food items are also available. For example: many kiosks sell typical Catalan and Spanish foods, including famous Iberian hams.

This is one of my favourite places in Barcelona. If you go to Barcelona and want to feel and taste the local culture, you have to go here. This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

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