PEr FYI

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 1, 2018

#87 Just Thai, Singapore…Believe me when I say it’s worth the hassle

The mouth-watering cooking at this no-nonsense Pasir Panjang Rd establishment offers some of the most authentic Thai food to be found in Singapore.

The menu can be surprisingly wallet-friendly and particularly good value. The handful of classic curries, noodle dishes and stir-fries are all well prepared with fragrant flavours. Dishes are staunchly traditional and served with little ceremony from the tiny kitchen. You’ll find many gems among the: fish cakes lifted by the clean taste of holy basil; fried omelette, Staples like pork belly and tom tum goong are fantastic, and I suggest taking a look at the chalked-up specials board. For selected dishes, there was enough spice to numb my lips – ask for it mild if you can’t handle the burn.

The thing is, secrets can be hard to keep. Appreciative crowds of locals, spanning every age group, are treated with congeniality.

#87 Just Thai is certainly a rough diamond. Yet look beyond that, and you get a taste of genuine Thai cookery. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 8, 2018

3 Geori Butchers Blue, Seoul…meat mecca

Sleek without being imposing, this Korean barbecue restaurant is the real deal. When a Korean barbecue place wants to set itself apart from all the other Korean barbecue places, it has essentially three variables to play with: meat, heat and sides

The meat is luscious black iberico pork from Spain. The pork belly – a cut with the perfect balance of fat and protein is the true star. The other meat that really steals the spotlight is Korean beef sirloin – premium Korean beef sirloin that has nice marbling with natural flavor. They don’t try to be overly clever, or self-consciously modern, rather concentrate on getting the fundamentals right.

Oh, for a table-top barbeque place, 3 Geori Butchers Blue is not smoky at all. This way, your happy dining memories can live on in your social media, and not on your clothes.

If you’ve got that BBQ craving, then you’ve come to the right place. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 6, 2017

Lee Noodle, Bangkok…cheap (and astonishing) duck noodle

Between cafés, street food stalls and lesser-known restaurant deals, Bangkok has a host of bargain bites that don’t cut back on flavour or finesse.

Lee Noodle, on Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thong Lor BTS station) is a budget-friendly hole in the wall guaranteed to whet your appetite without leaving a gaping hole in your wallet. Small and simple, this coffee-shop may be tiny but its purse-friendly homemade noodles which can be accompanied by moist succulent duck or crispy roasted pork belly or crab or charsiew or wanton (or all of it for 80 baht) is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Dangerously good, and it won’t cost you much more than 100 baht for the biggest, most delicious bowl of noodle you’ve ever tasted. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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June 17, 2017

No Idea Café Gastropub, Bangkok…. pub with something special on the menu

Pubs only used to care about serving up the perfect pint, but now a good number of them are creating gourmet menus that go above and beyond your basic pub grub.

No Idea Café presents modern and inventive takes on traditional European fare. There’s the tasting board – salami, parma ham, cheese, chorizo, caper berries, olives, baguette, roasted garlic aioli which is comforting and satisfying. The twice cooked pork belly – fennel apple slaw, braised red cabbage- worked surprisingly well. Although parts of the meat was a little tough and the dish would have benefited from a little balanced cooking. The atmosphere is casual and the beer flows fast. Naturally, as a gastropub, most of No Idea’s interesting drinks are alcoholic.

This is not a trendy spot. Rather, it’s inviting and unpretentious. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 30, 2017

6 Round, Pangyo, Seoul…the argument-ending KBBQ

KBBQ = a roll-your-shirtsleeves eating ritual in which diners grill different cuts of meat themselves over a tabletop grill, to be enjoyed with complimentary sides

In true Korean style, 6 Rounds offer their table top BBQ to allow you to cook your own meat, you can have everything from beef ribs to pork belly marinated in their house sauce, and scorched to your liking. The marinated beef, a Korean barbeque classic, marinated into an unmistakable tenderness, is much-lauded here.

Happy eating, people. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 20, 2016

Panorama at 85F, Taipei…Beautiful views but meh food

Food sometimes isn’t enough. The best meals are about more than the ingredients on a plate. That said, Panorama is a Taipei restaurant with the best views, but not necessarily Taipei’s best restaurant with a view.

With terrific view, there’s often a terrifying price tag. Although it is a reminder of how fabulous Taipei can really be, Panorama doesn’t offer tremendous value for money.

I started with the wonderful truffle and wild mushroom cream soup. I almost feel guilty about eating such beautiful sounding food! But it was all downhill after that. The carpaccio of scallop in pomelo dressing didn’t taste as good as it sounds and the pork belly slowly braised with aged port wine and mashed potato was disapppinting and not cooked correctly. Anyone who knows me knows my love of the belly. You see, this badly cooked piece of pork belly is very similar to eating Phua Chu Kang boots, or so I can imagine… I haven’t actually eaten a boot before though.

Beautiful views but meh food, as if the chefs are convinced that with the eyes distracted, the mouth won’t notice. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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April 4, 2015

Dave’s Bistro Bar & Grill, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia…The world’s best sandwich?

Eating bread filled with stuff is as universal as loving Taylor Swift.  When it comes to global gastronomy, the sandwich reigns supreme. If a sandwich is doing its job, every bite should be a voyage of discovery. A world of delicious ingredients hidden by slices of bread.

The Vietnamese-French Inspired Banh Mi Sandwich – Winner of the 9th Delifrance Sandwich World Cup 2012 held in Paris is a unique blend of crispy pork belly marinated with local herbs, garnished with daikon radish, carrot, cucumber and topped with bird’s eye chili and signature Tonka vinaigrette. Served between a freshly baked baguette.

Did I like the World’s best sandwich?

This banh mi was radically different, true. Something that combines so much pork with fresh herbs all stuffed into a crispy baguette is, I have to say, a pretty magical sandwich. The crunch of bread was followed by an interplay of porky goodness. It is one heck of a mega sandwich. Eating it tired me out as if I had just completed an Olympic event.

But is this truly the best sandwich in the world?

It may be a notch below great, compared to the humble Roti John. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 12, 2015

Pots ‘n Pans, Hanoi…don’t read this on an empty stomach, unless you’re into drooling uncontrollably

Let me just begin by saying that I love this place! Customer Service is great! This restaurant is the merging of traditional Vietnamese flavors and textures in innovative new ways  and beautifully presented in portion sizes that won’t leave you popping out for a late night bowl of pho. On my visit it never got packed, or too loud, or hectic. The pace was slowed down. Which is fine, because debating what you’ll order may take time.

To start, they serve you with crispiest turmeric bread you will ever taste… with the olive oil dip and three levels of spice to add, they are so yummy! The twice cooked pork belly with beetroot puree, apple compote, pickles and Vietnamese herbs ticks all the boxes for pork belly punters like me, with large chunks of meat that is all crispy skin on the top, soft and juicy everywhere else. This, right here, is what dreams are made of. The grilled king prawns with lemongrass, lime leaf, mushroom satay pudding and Vietnamese herbs were beyond succulent; insanely flavorful, awesomely rich. I nearly licked my plate! Well, to keep it classy, I scraped it clean with my fork. And if you have not had the crispy banana spring rolls with chocolate sauce and cinnamon ice cream, get off your computer, get your keys and go… Like right now.

As you may expect, Pots n Pans isn’t cheap but just by these 3 dishes I would recommend this place and come back again. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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March 4, 2013

Graffiato, Washington DC…Italian food in tapas style and portion.

Italian food in tapas style and portion. The ambience is stylish yet simple which is reflective of the food.

One of the best dishes I had at Graffiato was the crispy brussel sprouts with maple, pancetta and egg (and that’s a HUGE surprise as brussels sprouts has never been my thing). The brussel sprouts were soft on the inside, but had nicely carmelized , sweet and smoky outer edges which tasted charred and slightly burnt. The pizza we ordered (what else) the Jersey Shore was visually AND tastefully appealing. Perfectly fried and crisped calamari with a wonderful cherry pepper aoli. This was a mean pizza, and I’d order it again in a heartbeat and oh, by the way, the pizza was the only regular sized dish. The roasted potato gnocchi is a solid gnocchi dish. Not the greatest, but check out the truffles. Not all were hits, though, there were some misses too. The glazed pork belly wasnt bad, but it  didn’t quite live up to expectations and the risotto was average at best.

The wait staff was very friendly, knowledgeable and completely competent.

While I don’t think Graffiato is the best of the best, I think it’s still pretty darn good and I am compelled to return. This is still the true truth as I still say it as it is…

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