PEr FYI

September 24, 2016

Patty & Bun, London…it’s hard not to be seduced

A good burger is a thing of beauty, a satisfying, messy manifestation of all things umami.

The main event is the Ari Gold. From the first, slightly salty bite I was won over. Sloppy, sauce-dribbling-down-your-fingers-tasty, it’s the best burger I’ve ever had in London. The perfectly pink, almost blushing beef patty is unbelievably juicy, without being sloppy. The bun is soft enough not to put up a fight, but strong enough to the job of keeping it all together.The toppings of cheese, jammy caramelised onions, ketchup, just-crisp-enough smoky bacon and “P&B mayo” meld together happily.

The atmosphere couldn’t be more laid-back: tables are bare. And boy, those calories are worth it. This is the true truth as Isay it as it is…

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September 23, 2016

Harum Manis, Jakarta…overpriced-poor-pretentious food

Let us not beat about the bush: this is overpriced-poor-pretentious food.

Despite being a traditional Indonesian restaurant, their menu is in 3 languages – Indonesian, English and Japanese.

The food, like the restaurant’s patrons, looked good from a distance but on closer inspection turned out to be rather unappetising. The prawns were perfectly decent, but the bebek panggang spesial Harum Manis (braised & char-grilled baby duckling over multi-grains) was revolting. The soto betawi khas harum manis (hearty coconut cream soup, filled with beef shank, beef tripe, beef sweet meat, potatoes, tomatoes, green onion, sliced lime and small chili sauce) was not as good as its off-the-shelf equivalents in Hero or Ranch Market.

The food served up in Harum Manis is a disgrace. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 12, 2016

Cafe de Hong Kong, Singapore…It can be good, but it’s not going to blow your mind or anything

Cafe de Hong Kong sounds like the name of a char chaan teng and it looks like one, too, with bare functional tables.This is, after all, a zi char place full of Cantonese staples.

From that menu we ordered bonito flavoured spare rib which arrived as something intense and deep and savoury and powerful and, to be more precise, thoroughly yum. As dish descriptions go, braised pan fried prawn and mushroom omelette is never going to win a literary prize. Mind you, it was accurate and tasted compelling. There was another thing to try: garlic flavoured roast chicken. And… oh, you get the idea.

The extensive menu at Cafe de Hong Kong remains unexplored. I’ll leave it for another day. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 11, 2016

Tsunami Village, Penang…Nothing on the menu would drag me in again

Dining out at a waterfront restaurant is all about simple pleasures. But not just any table will do — the food, after all, has to live up to the setting.

Here, the baked lobster with cheese, crab salted egg and prawn wine are more like upscale pub grub. It is good in the way seafood is good – but it lacks complexity, sophistication and the wow ­factor. The others are a mixed bag. The clam kam heong’s sambal was nice but the clams were so small, they might as well serve a couple of magnifying glass with the dish. The fried chai tak with garlic was so-so while the fried mix ho fun and mee hoon was the only well-executed dish.

Nothing on the menu at Tsunami Village would drag me in again to pay with my own money. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 3, 2016

Sea Shell of Lisson Grove, London…from legend to myth

London just wouldn’t be London without a helping of fish and chips.

Sadly, I never expect to have an order of cod and chips as sad as the one served to me at Sea Shell of Lisson Grove. Certainly not at this London restaurant dedicated to fish and chips. Many years ago, on my first visit here, the hunk of cod had an unbelievably crispy exterior. The flaky insides are just as moist as you could ever want and the fries were among the best you’ll find. On my recent visit, though, it’s now the overly greasy, chewy gut bombs you’ll find at a lot of beachside eateries. The fries are unspectacular, limp and without life.

Sea Shell of Lisson Grove has just gone from London legend to London myth. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 31, 2016

South Beauty, Beijing…Honestly, not bad!

Aside from the Cantonese style of Chinese food which has long been dominant, Sichuan has become by far the most popular region for Chinese restaurants. South Beauty, as you might have guessed, specialises in Sichuan dishes.

Go for the signature crisp chicken which is beautifully crispy, tender and delicious, or, if you can stomach it, the signature braised streaky pork with chili sauce – beautifully presented in a striking eartherware pot. It’s good – soft, wobbly, erotic and very fatty. Leave your arteries at the door.

Nice decor, not too fancy, not too touristy and divey.  The service was quick and efficient.

This place does a fine job of the Sichuan Province’s dishes and at prices that won’t empty your wallet, too. 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…

worst of the worst sin tpy

August 21, 2016

The Baboon House, Melaka…zen burger-eating mode

Yes, we’ve seen about every permutation of burgers by this point. The Baboon House is an unsung hero in a world of overstuffed and overpriced burgers.

Inside is a space that more closely resembles a dense garden than a restaurant. Beaten up wooden tables and chairs punctuate grubby shelves and art-strewn walls in a nice natural lush tropical environment.

The basic menu is short, to-the-point and has possibly the best burger readily available to most Malaccans. Baboon special aloha cheeseburger is a delightful assault on the senses. The homemade bun is perfectly soft. The juicy baboon beef patty is thin enough to not be a belly bomb and are accompanied by a profusion of cheddar cheese, grilled cheese, streaky pork bacon and fresh veggies. The Oriental chicken burger was also simple and spot on and the tropical lemongrass drink (lemongrass, lemon and honey) complements the food very well.

You will surely be in zen burger-eating mode. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

baboon house melaka

August 14, 2016

Le Scossa, Paris…makes you go ooh la la

Set on the corner of the busy Victor Hugo Place, Le Scossa is in almost every way an unexpected find. A particularly cosy and beautiful restaurant full of French charm, good food, friendly service, it is also great for people watching.

For starters, I had escargot – they call it Snails XXL on the menu – which was the best I had in Paris on my most recent trip. That and “the real pepper steak, 200gr beef filet” are high points. Both were masterpieces of seething, aggressive flavor. The steak cut was tender, well-marbled and oozed blood-tinted jus. The finesses of the cooking here are shining examples of why the French have for so long led the world when it comes to gastronomy.

A dignified gem, Le Scossa couldn’t feel much more Parisian. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 13, 2016

Addiction Aquatic Development, Taipei…not pilgrimage-worthy

Is the experience is actually worth the money? It’s questionable. If you are looking for fresh and good quality rather than value for money, go for it.

The restaurant makes it a point to emphasize the freshness of the seafood. That’s the good news.

The bad news is I had a less-than-stellar experience at the bizzarely-named Addiciton Aquatic Development. Despite its very passionate reviews, the seafood tends to fall somewhere between bland and unremarkable.  None of this freshness matters much. The final bill was hefty and I was still hungry and highly disappointed. Frankly, I have trouble understanding what the fuss is all about.

Sometimes, the chorus of public opinion isn’t a good thing. I was unimpressed. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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