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Shinkansen Eats

On the Shinkansen right now and this is the spread KYW and I got to share. While most people would get an ekiben, we decided that more is more, and bought a bit of everything to try.

Let me first start with the juices: fresh peach, fresh tomato and fig. I’ve never had fresh tomato juice and I have terribly limited vocab when it comes to describing juice but it literally felt like eating the respective fruit / vegetables but in liquid form. The taste of the fig was not distinctive BUT the tomato juice had a really nice sweet end to it, probably due to the fig. Super refreshing in this heat! The peach juice wasn’t too sweet as well.

Pardon my stubby fingers!! Having heard so much about Maisen (aka the best tonkatsu in Tokyo) we both decided we had to have these sandwiches. LOOK AT THAT MEAT. This box of 3 mini sandwiches is a perfect snack size. The ratio of bread to meat to sauce is also perfect. Not too greasy despite being made hours ahead, this is one helluva sandwich that makes all the previous tonkatsu sandwiches I’ve had a waste of calories.

I wish I had a better pictures of the croquettes but KYW and I got through them too quickly. It is difficult to say which is better because they are both satisfying: the crab croquette manages to satisfy a seafood craving without being overly fishy; the beef is just hearty and packs lots of flavour. Japanese croquettes are always good because they are never over fried or too oily.

Chirashi was a bit of a letdown because the rice was clumpy. Other than that, no complaints because the fish was fresh!! Food comaing right now so the reviews of the marron sandwiches will come later and I’m falling asleep..

All food was purchased at Shinagawa station.

Bangkok: Inter

I really liked Inter. If Thais had a cha chain teng equivalent, I think Inter would fit the bill. It seemed like a very local joint (well… as local as you can get – they have English menus) with people coming in to takeaway food. Well, I can understand – the pad thai is possibly the best rendition of the dish I’ve had! It just the right combination of sweet, sticky and charred flavours, with more ingredients than rice noodles. Kind of how I like it. The wok hei (charred bits, for the uninitiated) would give some of the best hawkers a run for their money. Best part: the delicate rice noodles were not overcooked and retained some bite.

Slightly more unphotogenic was the green curry with catfish, a rendition which I’ve never had. Would recommend this instead of the old boring chicken / beef green curry that most restaurants offer. The catfish was firm and did not flake easily. We also had stir fried morning glory (it really does taste better in Bangkok) and tom yum soup which hit the spot. Between Krau Apsorn and Inter, I preferred Inter although I think Krau Apsorn had the better tom yum soup.

 Make a visit to Mango Tango opposite the road when you’re done with lunch! This was the only mango sticky rice I had all trip… it was a cute dessert in a cup, and great to take on the go. The sticky rice was utterly addictive & the mango ice cream on top was really the icing on the cake. A great end to lunch (105 baht, ~S$4, ~£2).

Address: 432/1-2 Siam Square 9, 10330, Thailand (Inter), Siam Square Soi 5 (Mango Tango takeaway stand – look out for Som Tam, the restaurant opposite which is famous for… yup, som tam.)

Macau: the meal that made the trip

I’ve left this in my written drafts for so long I think it’s time to finally complete and publish it…

Well, Macau. Prior to this trip I had never been to Macau despite having been to Hong Kong a couple of times. This joint that Hysan brought us to was situated at the second storey of a local market and we had to walk through rows of butchers to turn into a canteen where this place was located. Even with its obscure location, this was incredibly popular and we had to wait a good 20 minutes before we were seated!!

How it works: you tell the bosslady what you feel like eating, she goes downstairs to the seafood stalls to shop for whatever’s fresh, comes back and shows you the goods (she literally shows you what’s in the bags, yes), and then magic happens.

This, my friends, is the greatest crab porridge in the history of mankind. I could totally do without the crab but man, the porridge!! How they managed to get the right mix of the taste of the crab & the sea & not overwhelm with fishiness is really remarkable. Hands down, best thing I ate of the trip (bake cheese tarts are second).


How lucky were we to get the last plate of 鱼饼 for the day! The closest phrase to describe it in English would be ‘fish pancakes’ but that makes it sound so unappetising. This was crack, and I suppose if deep fried beancurd skin and fish cake had a baby, this would be it. Sarah could not get enough of this!

img_3235Speaking of Sarah, she was craving sweet and sour fish (time away from home etc etc) that very day and had requested for the bosslady to make the dish. Bosslady was reluctant at first as she didn’t want to deep-fry stuff in her stall. HOWEVER, after finding out that we were from Singapore, but mostly due to Hysan being a total aunty-killer, bosslady was so excited and promptly made an exception for us!!! She was also very impressed by Singapore’s cleanliness. But I digress – this sweet and sour fish was not your typical neon orange sauce coated deep fried gunk. The sauce was sweet (not really sour), and I was really impressed by how bosslady and the bossman came up with this sauce from scratch. This was a surprise, unexpected favourite. The fish was soft (I think it was steamed as opposed to deep fried) and with the magic sauce, I think this was interesting, in a great way. I am just very impressed by how bosslady and bossman have no menu and customers can request roughly what they feel like having and bosslady and bossman both decide how to make the best out of the ingredients of the day.

img_3226img_3234 I suppose this is nothing special – steamed scallops with plenty of garlic and glass noodles but it’s been ages since I had it. I am a garlic fiend so I liked this too. Let’s just say I could have warded off an army of vampires after.

img_3232Between the 5 of us we paid about S$40 each per person, which is relatively pricey, objectively speaking – but I think the experience, interaction plus cost of ingredients was well worth the trip to Macau AND the price of the food (and I’ve yet to factor in the labour cost). Plus, I would go back just purely for that crab porridge.

Bosslady had told us that we should have called ahead to make reservations so that she could reserve the best seafood for us. Now we know. I would highly recommend this place – canteen-style seats, in the middle of a wet market, but so much heart poured into the food. It doesn’t get more local / authentic than this.

Thanks for the great day out, Onyee, Hysan & Sarah. Can’t wait to see everyone again!

中国名粥
Address:  1/F., Patane Temporary Market, Avenida Marginal do Patane, Macau

P.S. All these people on Openrice cannot be wrong.

Hong Kong: Mott 32

I had high expectations for this one – it had been on my to eat list for about a year already and I had read loads of reviews about its famous iberico char siew!

Mott 32 is located at the basement of the Standard Chartered Building, a quick ten minute walk through air conditioned buildings at the cluster of offices at Alexandra House. Mott 32 evokes a Great Gatsby / Roaring 20s feel. It is very cool.

When we got there, the front of house unhelpfully told us she couldn’t find Sarah’s reservation. After 10 minutes of going back and forth, we found that Mott had mistakenly reserved it for 27 April instead of May. Still, they didn’t offer us a seat until we asked to be given a free table. Not a good start…

..but nothing a bit of iberico char siew cannot make better. This slab of char siew was seriously glistening (I kid you not) and because I was in the company of Sarah’s colleagues I couldn’t snatch it all up for myself. I really wanted to. Because it’s iberico, it also happens to be super duper pricey at hkd 350.

I think my favourite was the snapper  spring roll with dill – it’s fried but not too oily, and surprisingly, it works. I’ve never had a fish based spring roll, the taste was v clean on the palate and I felt like I could scarf down 3 more.

The quail egg iberico siew mai was quite a fun surprise with a runny quail egg in the middle. I’ve been told that this is actually a vey traditional dim sum fish, but again, I’ve never tried it! Love quail eggs, love iberico, so I loved this.
Obviously as Mott 32 tries to distinguish itself from other ~modern~ counterparts, the cheung fan (rice roll) has to be unlike the rest. We shared a cod fish cheung fan and honestly I don’t see why dim sum places don’t use fish in their rice rolls. I suppose it also in part is due to cost.

IBecause we dined in a group of 4, and most of the dimsum were in 3s we had to specially request that they serve us in a portion of 4. Mott wasn’t super accommodating on that, and the attitude was pretty brusque. One Michelin or not, this is really quite off putting & in Hong Kong’s competitive dining scene, I might actually choose to spend my money elsewhere, even with that super sick iberico char siew.

Address: Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd Central, Central, Hong Kong

Sydney

TUTORIALS ARE OVER FOR THE WEEK. YES (but omg 3 next week the thought of it is just exhausting…). So I’m back to continue where I left off from Melbourne.

We went to Sydney for four days (but really had only a grand total of three days) and I kind of wish we spent more time there? Would have loved to visit Manly… and Bondi (er. Kind of forgot to go to Bondi because I was eating……. I know nobody is surprised by this.). And supposedly the Blue Mountains are gorgeous! AND I DIDN’T GET TO EAT MY WATERMELON CAKE 😦 Elaine’s food recommendations were completely spot on (thank you Elaine!!); if only I had the time and tummy space to conquer Sydney. Honestly though, while I preferred Melbourne as a city to Sydney, I think the culinary highs from the trip came from Sydney.

SYDNEY MUST-EATS:

1) Breakfast with the Sakuma’s, Devon Cafe

5452Miso grilled king salmon, 63 degree egg, smoked eel croquette, petit radish salad, kewpie mayo and a sprinkle of furikake – this is probably the most well thought out and put together dish I’ve had this year. It goes down in history as one of the most memorable dishes I’ve had & I want to fly back to Sydney just to have this. Asian fusion to me has always seemed a bit dodgy but I think this dish really took what I loved from Japanese cuisine and one of my favourite meals of the day and made it work – it is truly light on the palate but enough to wake your senses up with the umami bombs. AMA-FRKN-ZING. Whoever thought of adding furikake deserves a huge huge prize.

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I also think Devon’s rendition of Eggs Royale was spectacular!!! Instead of English muffin/bagel/rye/insert bread here, Devon uses blinis for its Eggs Blini. It didn’t look huge, but the portion was just right. The best part? The Eggs Royale was topped with ikura (salmon roe). So incredibly special. (PLUS THEY USE BROCCOLINI. I LOVE BROCCOLINI.)

I didn’t particularly enjoy my Little Lost Bread – pb&j brioche french toast, grilled banana, nutella, jam and pb icecream! I wish the banana taste were stronger because I felt like it was like separate components being slapped onto a plate, even though I have to say, the pb&j went well like… pb&j. It was like pb&j had a party and the grilled banana crashed it. Man!!! (Also, it was too sweet.)

I think Devon’s menu had other interesting things that I would have loved to try – the Korean Fried Chicken burger with gochujang & kimchi slaw sounded amazing on paper as well; except by then I had burger fatigue so, it was a no go. Their takeaway chicken salad also looked pretty yummy on display! Devon is a must go if you’re in Sydney.

2) Bourke Street Bakery

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The problem with Bourke Street Bakery is that everything looks too yummy. Um, limited stomach space here? I thought I had my eye on the chocolate tart in front of the store (and I’m not even that big a chocolate fan!!!) but once I entered and saw lemon curd and ginger creme brulee.. sorry chocolate. The lemon curd tart was my favourite, and edges ginger creme brulee out by 0.1 – purely because it is very very difficult to find lemon curd that is tart enough. I feel like lemon curd is one of those things where everyone has a different standard on – some like it sweet and others like it tart. This lemon tart is second only to Jacques Genin’s lemon tart!! And at A$5, it is such a bargain!! BUY MORE. The ginger creme brulee, however wins points for originality – cos I mean, a creme brulee tart????? LIKE WAAAOOOOOW RIGHT. I’ve never had one, and who would’ve though it would work?! Biting into a burnt sugar top is truly one of the littlest (??? little? small?) joys in life. I wish I brought back a dozen of each.

3) The Grounds of Alexandria

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The Grounds is a really genius idea. Take a huge lot in an industrial area and transform it into a grounds of sorts – a cafe on one end, and a miniature farm, a flower shop (SUPER GORGEOUS) and plenty of space for people to sit around and order take out from push carts. It really sounds like a kind of place I’d want to spend my weekends at, minus the screaming kids; but yes, it is a great place for a family to spend time together on weekends. We waited an hour for a table at the cafe – and while waiting, we…. started eating. Had a grilled corn on the cob and a green juice of kale, apple and mint to start off with! I wanted to take a picture with Kevin Bacon (the resident pig) EXCEPT I felt like the poor pig was already having its privacy invaded by the hordes of humans ): Poor pig.

I suppose the highlight of the Grounds would be its dessert table??????? The problem as always is just choosing ONE. I was torn between the passionfruit cheesecake (how unique really, PASSIONFRUIT!!!!) and the pear tart but was recommended it so I went for the pear. I mean, it was a good pear tart, but it didn’t make me go ‘!!!!!’. I had forest mushroom salad that came with a gooey egg encased in a panko batter. HOLY GUACAMOLE, THIS IS EGGYOLK PORN AT ITS FINEST!!!!!!!!! And it really did taste as good as it looked. As silly as it sounds, the house chips at the Grounds was really great – NO SOGGY FRIES AT ALL (I cannot stand soggy fries) and a beautiful chilli aioli that had a great garlic punch without being overwhelming. Since my description and vocabulary is limited: the grounds is simply Pinterest in REAL LIFE.

Honourable Mention: The Paramount Coffee Project.

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This was the first place we ate at when we touched down in Sydney. It is a gorgeous open space, with ceiling to floor windows (ALWAYS AWESOME!) and beside it is a proper mini cinema! The cafe is in front and at the back, all decked out in industrial grunge is a bicycle (and handmade goods??) store. Yep. This takes hpstr to a whole new level, except the food is anything but pretentious.

We had the crab po’boy and a cola braised pork with waffle. I preferred this to Hammer & Tong’s personally but Nick felt that there was no difference cos they were both AWESOME. This is a lot messier because there’re more sauces but I love it when a burger is messy because that is how it’s supposed to be! Don’t bother paying extra for the onion rings. The waffle meanwhile… was an acquired taste for me. It was creative and unique, but while I didn’t agree with the taste, Nick loved it. I do believe that this flavour combination is worth a try though!!

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I think I’ve been spoilt by the brunch options available in Melbourne and Sydney that brunch in Singapore will never (ok maybe not a long while) live up to anything I’ve had. I suppose with brunch being very ‘in’ and fashionable, the challenge is coming up with an excitable brunch menu. Nearly every place we went to in Melbourne and Sydney had their own flair. Though they may be serving an eggs benedict/royale/florentine, most cafes/places always have their own interpretations of these brunch classics. That really differentiates each place and gives them their individuality. & I think this is what keeps people coming back! The fact that menus change according to what is in season is also something I really respect.

I feel like I wasn’t in Sydney long enough to actually see half of it. Totally regret not going to Bondi/Manly – I mean which losers go to Sydney and then don’t visit one of the most popular attractions?!?? BUT AT LEAST WE MADE IT TO THE OPERA HOUSE AND HARBOUR BRIDGE. The greatest thing I’m taking away from my trip to Australia is probably just the niceness of Australians. PEOPLE ARE JUST SO FRKN NICE. We met the nicest airbnb hosts (Martina & Gavin!) and people on the streets were friendly and always keen to help with directions (I can’t read maps..). I really can’t wait to go back.

Till next time, super travellers!

ALMOST FAMOUS

Hello again. It has been a really, really long time! I don’t know if I am back for good, but I like having this space here to write about the food that I have eaten & when I graduate, at least I’d have something to look back on and remember my wonderful 3 years in the UK – obviously, mostly food related of course.

On Saturday, zx came up from London to visit me and being the burger fiends we both are.. (and Raerae too of course, but that one was too busy playing basketball) we had to HAVE a burger. I’ve been dying to try Almost Famous since… Almost Famous became famous. So yeah, like the rest of the London establishments (ahem, Lucky Chip, Meat Liquor, Patty & Bun) AF started out as a popup and became permanent since.. a really long time ago. Frankly one of the reasons why I was put off by it was their website – it is incredibly rude and gives me a headache. In other words, it’s is super act 一个 and I’m honestly… not a fan of its over the top pretentiousness at trying to be bada$$. It’s like they’re trying to be the rebellious, younger version of meatliquor, which is incredibly unoriginal.

That said, I still feel like kicking myself FOR ONLY TRYING IT LAST WEEKEND. I mean, I have been missing out on the most amazing burger in Manchester for years – yeah at this juncture I am gna call myself a loser. And……… for all that marketing hype that was a massive turn off, AF is INCREDIBLY CHILL. zx and I went on a Sunday afternoon at 1255h (it opens at 1) and there was already a queue snaking around the street that Luck, Lust, Liquor & Burn was at. And. It was snowing. Frankly, it’s so smart, not opening the shutters until 1305h, keeping the hungry people even hungrier and hence more excited…. and you know, even cynics like me were anticipating something really awesome.

AF is situated at the top floor of a building in the Northern Quarter, and it really looks kinda dodgy if you’re there at an odd hour/there’s no one around and the entrance to AF is a wooden door… no kidding. Anything indie they could do to make it indie-er, they have already done it. I was half expecting wait staff with nose piercings and tattoos… but no, they are incredibly nice and POLITE. (unlike the website. and twitter.) The guy who took my order at the counter was also good at math – he tallied my order in his head as I ordered, WITHOUT A CALCULATOR. I never thought I’d be treated to a display of mental arithmetic at AF, ever. So far, so good.

AF in the afternoon has loads of families actually – and I love, love, love the open space concept it has. Couches for big groups, with tall ceilings & huge windows that let the midday light in. LOVE IT. Yeah ok rambling too much, on to the food.


Zx had the original famous burger, and I had the DD burger – I mean, there’s SLUT SAUCE in it. We had a beef chili fries to share.

Personally, I think they forgot about my onions which is why they were at the side. Otherwise, this is a FLAWLESS BURGER!!!!!! Except I would like to have seen some greens in it – I knew I exercised 4x that week for a reason – but IT’S A BURGER PLACE SO. Anyway the PATTIES WERE THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE BURGERS!!!! I love it I love it so so so much. Usually it’s really difficult to achieve pinkness with thin patties, but AF does it well and the patty is flavourful and holds its own against the condiments. It is an incredible patty. I also have never seen so much mustard in a burger before, but I love mustard so it wasn’t a problem for me. I love eating messy burgers! And AF gave me that experience of dirtying my fingers. Really a happy child after that burger experience. The fries were a bit of a disappointment because they weren’t hot enough for my liking – Meatliquor has better beef chili fries but I loved how AF mixes sweet potato fries with normal fries!! And again, there’s loads of mustard. Um would have preferred it if the cheese was melted rather than the kind you get in theatres with nachos.. but it was not that big a deal. I DIDN’T TRY THE WINGS which means I have to go back again!!!

I know I keep comparing AF with other burger establishments that I have dined at, but frankly I’ve come to realise that burgers are something that are intensely personal.. nonetheless objectively speaking, I think AF is a wonderful place for burgers/afternoon hangout – I can see why people flock to it time and time again. Next on my burger to-do list: Honest burgers for their FAMOUS CHIPS. And maybe Lucky Chip Round II when the Bill Murray gets back on the menu again.

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Almost Famous
100 High Street
Northern Quarter, Manchester

June 2012: SQ 327, MUC-SIN

Back in hot, humid and stuffy Singapore, but I’m loving the weather very much. Think I’ve become pretty English since all I can do nowadays is appreciate the heat and the sun.. being weather-obsessed is so English. Anyway, as always on the flight home I completely stuffed myself with food – okay I didn’t exactly, I just ordered everything so I could try a bit of everything!!! (I know I am a greedy bum). No pictures of food from MAN-MUC (that’s Manchester to Munich) because I um, was sleeping and I didn’t get good food, got a prepackaged egg/ham/chz sandwich in Economy!


poached lobster with confit of eggplant and capsicum, balsamic vinaigrette

THANK YOU SQ FOR ALWAYS HAVING LOBSTER AS A STARTER. I know I can always count on you. This as always, is a brilliant start to the meal. Oh wait, that’s if you don’t count the satay which I had before the lobster. Crap, I really ate a lot!!! But the satay was good (no pictures sorry cos everyone was already judging me for taking pictures of food – my excuse is that I am Singaporean) as usual. Anyway this!!!! The lobster was fresh, and it was juicy but there was just some oomph lacking, definitely didn’t beat the lobster served here and here. The grilled vegetables were chockful of flavour and saved this dish.


Fennel cream soup with mint, seared scallop & pasta
I liked the tinge of mint in this soup! And I know it looks very unappetising but this wasn’t as bad as it looked. The scallops didn’t really add any sort of flavour to the fennel soup, but was there for chewiness I suppose. The pasta shape was different & this soup is pretty unique. I wanted the tom yam soup but they ran out 😦


salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Cos everyone needs to eat their greens!


Seared tournedos of beef in green peppercorn jus, sauteed morels, baby carrot and gratin potatoes
I thought the beef would be extremely tough, but it was actually done quite well and was chewy with the right amount of bite! I think they microwave the entire dish at one go, which is probably why it resulted in the potatoes not being cooked through completely and was a bit crunchy? But how can I complain really, eating such good food on the plane! I have no idea what morels are, except they taste like crunchy mushrooms and biting into them feels like eating black fungus. It is salty and oh so yummy. The baby carrots were not too soft, the way I like them! I only wished the peppercorn jus was a bit more peppery but this is as good as main courses get!

Red wine jelly with berries
They ran out of the chocolate cake that I wanted so I settled for this. This was a light end to the meal. The jelly came in some mango soup which I suppose, didn’t make the entire dessert so tart. I really liked it. Other than the fact that I was a glutton and ate every single course before this, I would have polished this off!

Can’t wait for the next meal! Till next time super travellers!