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Preview: Travels with a gourmet

Travels with a Gourmet



A food lover's travels, memorable meals, culinary trials and gastronomic experiences.



Updated: 2017-11-15T20:29:50.328+08:00

 



Back at the Burj

2017-06-24T00:44:24.580+08:00

In the time my husband and I have been together, we have moved to eight countries in four continents and now, after almost four years in Singapore, we are moving once again.  This time, it's back to a place we lived for two years and a half in the early 2000s when our son was a few months old.Dubai was already a bustling desert city then with the Burj Al Arab as its' iconic super structure.  Today, numerous skyscrapers dot the skyline with the world's tallest building (the Burj Khalifa at 828 m), the world's tallest hotel (the JW Marriott Marquis at 355m) and the world's tallest residential building (the Princess Tower at 413m) all located in Dubai.  After several despedidas (farewell parties) and tearful goodbyes, we left Singapore yesterday and are now in our new home in Dubai.What better way to spend our first day back than to go back to the year-old Burj Al Arab Terrace - a 10,000 square meter structure painstakingly built in Finland and shipped to Dubai in its' entirety to create a stunning restaurant, pool, beach and cabaña space abutting the hotel with uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf.We began with lunch at Scape with it's seafood-centric California fusion menu - a perfect on this sunny 39C day.  From the Crudo bar, we ordered two raw dishes: the Hamachi crudo with Ponzu, pistachio, olives and capers and the Corvina carpaccio with scallion, nori, ginger and truffle yuzu which we had with some salads; arugula, quinoa, pumpkin seed, Feta salad and the endive, grape, Gorgonzola, pecan as our starters.  We then shared the wild mushroom pizza with goat's cheese and the Baja style tacos.  After our light and mostly cold lunch, we headed out to some sun loungers on the beach and enjoyed the cool saltwater infinity pool where I finally took the chance to take it easy and just relax after the hectic months of packing and moving.  It was warm but not unbearable and armed with 50 SPF Sun Bum,  my new Armani sunnies (which I got online from Smart Buy Glasses), and a stack of magazines, I happily spent the afternoon sitting in the shade catching up on my reading and just taking in the view. And what a view it was!  Happy to be home at last._________________________________The Terrace at the Burj Al ArabScape at the Burj Al Arab[...]



Flashback Friday: PUBLICUS

2017-03-24T09:00:03.742+08:00

Healthy and delicious food is sometimes contradictory.  So many places promote wellness and health and actually don't know how to make whole foods taste good.  Publicus in downtown Las Vegas is one of those places that gets healthy and delicious right.  Their daily changing specials and whatever they have on the counter (it could be a quinoa and roasted vegetable salad or an open faced toasted sourdough with cherry tomatoes cheese) is always fresh and flavorful.  It has become a regular weekend place for us in Vegas that when we do go, the manager already knows what the kids want to eat.  I've had a delicious spicy black rice and poached egg bowl with pickled ginger, a simple sourdough and avocado toast and filling brunch plates on the weekends.Coffee is fantastic (none of those cappuccinos being served in gigantic cups that then makes the ratio of espresso and milk all wrong).  Plus, Publicus is a really nice place to hang out and get a bite or a coffee during the day, be surrounded by mostly locals and feel so far away from the lights, bling and tourists of the Strip.  When you're done, head over to the newish Downtown Container Park - a complex of restaurants and shops made of colorfully painted shipping containers with a large playground deck in the middle for the kids to run around in.____________________________Publicus1126 Fremont Street, Las Vegas Nevada 89101Tel: +1 702 331 5500Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.[...]



Flashback Friday: WILDFLOUR CAFE + BAKERY

2017-02-17T09:00:15.686+08:00

On the rare occasions that I fly back home for a visit, I make sure to go to restaurants I haven't been.  It's so easy to go back to my favorites again and again but it's also fun to eat  at the new restaurants that have opened up in Manila recently.Wildflour actually isn't new, they opened their first cafe and bakery in Bonifacio Global City in 2012.  It's new to me though since I had heard so much about it but had never been.    I finally got my chance when my cool designer friend TC took me there for lunch.  I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed that I went there twice more in the short week that I was home.What's great about Wildflour is that aside from their massive selection of fresh-baked breads, pastries and cakes, they also have a full all-day dining menu serving breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, salads, pastas and a few main courses. (The menu might be different in each outlet, I have only bent the one in Legaspi Village) For lunch, I've had the moules frites and a chocolate tart.  The next time I went for breakfast and had the bagel and lox with a pot of filter coffee and another time, I stopped by for merienda (snack) of a sticky bun and a  latte.  I always think a place has made it when it becomes my go-to restaurant and Wildflour is just that - a cafe and bakery that is perfect for any time of the day.  You'll know what I mean when you go.____________________Wildflour Cafe + BakeryL.P. Leviste Street, Salcedo Village, MakatiPhone:+63 2 808 7072Hours: Monday to Saturday 7AM–10PMFrabelle Business Center 111 Rada St, Legaspi Village, MakatiPhone:+63 2 833 9799Hours: Monday to Saturday 7AM–10PM, Sunday 8AM–4PMOrtigas The Podium, 12 ADB Avenue Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong CityPhone:+63 2 571 8588Hours: Daily 7AM–10PMGround floor, Net Lima building, 26th St, Taguig (Bonifacio Global City)Phone:+63 2 856 7600Hours: Monday to Saturday 7AM–10PM, Sunday 8AM-4PM[...]



Flashback Friday: CAFE CONSTANT

2017-02-16T16:32:51.835+08:00

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It's been raining almost every day for a week here in Singapore and the dark, dreary weather reminds me of Paris in the winter, without the cold of course.  This type of weather makes me feel like having hearty simple food that feeds the hunger and warms the body.  Flashback then to a simple dinner we had in Paris at Cafe Constant - the casual neighborhood bistro on rue Saint Dominique, a mostly residential area in the 7th arrondissement.  One of the restaurants owned by ex-Crillon chef Christian Constant and the most casual of the five.
Cafe Constant has a zinc-topped bar, mosaic floor, rickety wooden chairs and tables set elbow to elbow which makes for a typical Parisian dinner.  There's a selection of wines by the glass, a blackboard prix-fixe and a separate la carte menu of bistro classics which are all reasonably-priced and served with a smile.  Convivial, cozy and delicious - the kind of place I wish we had here but seems to only work in Paris.
_____________________________
139 rue Saint Dominique, 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 1 47 53 73 54
No reservations.  Open daily for breakfast 7-11 a.m., non-stop service from 12h -23h



Flashback Friday: MINI PALAIS

2017-02-16T16:31:20.304+08:00

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For all the bistros and scuffed tiles in the numerous bistros and cafes in Paris, therehas been a proliferation of non-hotel restaurants still serving bistro classics but in much more sophisticated setting yet still offering prix-fixe menus.  One of these is the beautiful high-ceiling dining room of the Mini Palais, located in the back corner of the Grand Palais right smack in the middle of the famed triangle d'or (golden triangle) of the 8th arrondissement.  Helmed by chef Eric Frechon (from the 3-star Michelin Hotel Bristol), the food is faultless, the atmosphere refined, the service unobtrusive and the crowd more bourgeois than bohemian.
_______________________________
Grand Palais,  Avenue Winston Churchill  75008 Paris
Tel : +33 1 42 56 42 42



Flashback Friday: CLOVER

2016-10-28T11:04:50.690+08:00

On a cold rainy autumn evening in late November, we met up with friends for a drink at La Societe, St. Germain's sleek Liaigre-designed Costes-managed bar, while we waited out our reservation at Jean Francois Piege's year-old farm to table restaurant Clover.  Located in a back alley off boulevard St. Germain, where the Parisian brunch institution Coffee Parisien used to be, Clover is filled with several rustic wooden tables set with just a crisp white linen napkin and a knife.  The elongated space seats about 40 diners elbow-to-elbow making it feel like one large communal table.  The previous bar area has been transformed into a sleek modern open kitchen with a glass-fronted fridge filled with local produce.  At the time we went, there was a beautiful display of large succulent-like green savoy cabbages and tiny dark brussels sprouts.Clover has a daily prix-fixe menu, for lunch ( three-course €35 or five-course €43) and a more elaborate one for dinner (five-course €60 or six-course  €73) with a supplement charge of €8 for a plate of cheese served before dessert.  The restaurant showcases produce from the all over France like special quail  from Dombes in the southeast or ratte potatoes from Touquet in the north.  Most ingredients indicate their origins and the cooking is simple but sophisticated.  The food is served family-style so dishes areplaced in the middle of the table and shared between two keeping it all very casual.That evening, we started out with some St. Jean de Luz tuna, smoked butternut squash, crispy crackers and horseradish - an interesting mix of cold tuna tataki-style offset by the spicy horseradish and warm creamy squash.  Next up was the chef's signature dish of Saint-Jacques cuite sur le pavé parisien - literally one large scallop in a half-shell placed on top of a sizzling hot Parisian cobblestone - a playful Parisian take on hot-stone cooking and gave the super sweet scallop just a tiny sear.  This was followed by cabbage, smoked herring foam, preserved lemon and chestnut chips which were the flavors of autumn on a plate - warm melted cabbage leaves with tangy bits of lemon rind and crispy chestnut chips for texture.  Main courses came next - the ladies had the fish which was a sautéed lieu jaune (pollock), topped with salsifis wildflower (goatsbeard), radicchio leaves and covered with an emulsion of bay leaves - the delicate white fleshed fish complemented by the bitter chicory and herb-infused foam while the gentlemen ordered the heartier roasted Dombes quail, trompettes de la mort (horn of plenty mushrooms), caramelized onions and mango vinegar.We skipped the cheese course and went straight for dessert - chunks of dark chocolate fudge cake, milk chocolate ice cream, tiny sweet raspberries, cranberries and grilled pecans.  Espressos were ordered and the coffee shots were accompanied by a large gooey chocolate chip cookie which we all broke into and finished.  Dining at Clover is fine dining without the formality, like a fun meal with friends at their kitchen table sharing good food and wine.  In other words, Clover feels like home, except there's a Michelin-starred chef who's in charge of the kitchen._______________________________CLOVER5, rue Perronet, 75007 ParisTelephone: +33 1 7550 0005Email:contact@clover-paris.comOpen Tuesday to SaturdayLunch from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., Dinner from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.[...]



Flashback Friday: PUNTA DEL ESTE

2016-09-30T09:00:15.373+08:00

Panoramic view of Playa Mansa from the terrace.Punta del Este is known for being the South America's summer playground and aside from sun, sand and sea, there isn't much to keep one occupied which is why it's worth a visit to the Museo Taller Carlos Páez VilaróCarlos Páez Vilaró was an Uruguayan autodidact who grew up in Buenos Aires where his works of  graphic art began. He was later influenced by his many travels to Brazil and all over the African continent.  His numerous works include paintings, sculpture, mural art, ceramics, books and even music and he has left his mark in many works from Buenos Aires to Beijing, Cairo to Washington DC.He returned often to Uruguay and in 1969, he built his summer home by the sea in Punta del Este.  Casapueblo is found in Punta Ballena at the end of a winding road with expansive views of the sea.  This home was conceptualized with his own architectural design audit was here that he works to fill this all-white curvy stone house on a cliff with his final works of art, from the graphic tiles inlaid into the walls to the murals he painted on the terraces.  His sculptures are also scattered around the home along with his many ceramic creations.  He continued to live abroad - in Argentina, the United States and Brazil but eventually moved back to Punta del Este.  It was in this home that he spent rest of his days, painting and working until he died in February 2014 with Casapubelo becoming his final work of art.Museo – Taller de CasapuebloPunta Ballena, UruguayC.P. 20003Tel/Fax: +(598) 4257 8041Tel/Fax: +(598) 4257 9121Open to the public daily from 10 a.m. till sunset.  Entry fee for 12 years old and above Uruguayan $240[...]



Flashback Friday: PARADOR LA HUELLA

2016-09-29T15:25:07.424+08:00

It's the last quarter of the year so I think I'd better write about my best meal in 2015.  Parador La Huella sits on windswept Brava beach of the little town of Jose Ignacio in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  Punta del Este is the Saint Tropez of South America.  It's where the bronzed and the beautiful get together during the southern hemisphere's December summer.  Jose Ignacio is thankfully a bit further from the action than Punta's main party beaches.  Here it's mostly families hanging out and people just relaxing on the sand.La Huella (currently number 15 on the 2015 Latin Americas 50 Best Restaurants) is a shabby chic bleached wood shack with a large deck that sits right on Brava beaching Jose Ignacio with a view of the lighthouse.  During the peak summer season, from mid-December to mid-January, the place is packed from noon till late.  The food is deceptively simple but unbelievably good.  Meat and seafood cooked on the large wood-fired grill, some sushi and sashimi, a few salads and pastas, a decent wine list, cool cocktails, great music and a super friendly crew who look like they're having fun while they work.In the five days we were in Punta, we spent two at La Huella and established a routine.  We would drive to Jose Ignacio right after breakfast, book our table for lunch, lug our stuff to the beach and lie on the sand until around 1:00 then go to La Huella and have a leisurely lunch on the wooden deck before heading back home.   As you can see from the photos - we had grilled seafood, salads, a seafood pasta, fried calamari, baked mussels, flaky empanadas and the infamous volcan de dulce de leche - a molten dulce de leche cake that is a hit with the caramel-loving South Americans.Why was it my best meal of 2015?  Because the food was simple, delicious and not overpriced. Because the place was unpretentious and the service was speedy yet friendly.  Because sitting by the sea and eating al fresco is one of life's pleasures.  But most of all, because those lazy days were spent with my husband and children, sitting around a table, having a meal together and just enjoying life.  I'm counting the days till our December holiday in Punta.______________________________Parador La HuellaBrava Beach José Ignacio - UruguayTelephone: +598 4486 2279Email: info@paradorlahuella.com[...]



Flashback Friday: LES DELICES

2016-09-29T15:29:32.393+08:00

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Can it already be August?  Here's a flashback Friday post from our Christmas holiday in Punta del Este.
Breakfasts usually involve coffee and the medialunas con dulce de leche (the local version of croissants, slightly sweet and served with a caramel spread) and Les Delices in the town center of Punta del Este (or Punta, as everyone calls it), has been the go to spot for years especially for Argentines on holiday looking for their medialuna fix.
We did the same and had breakfast there bright and early before heading to the beach.  We did the works - fresh orange juice, coffee, toast, scrambled eggs and a bunch of medialunas.  While we ever there, there was a steady stream of patrons buying their breakfast pastries and a few locals quietly enjoying their coffee.
Aside from their large selection of pastries and cakes, they also serve a full lunch and dinner menu and do a good business in takeaway boxes of assorted mini pastries and cookies for afternoon tea.
___________________________
29 Las Gaviotas, 20100 Punta del Este, Uruguay
Phone: +598 4244 3640



YAKINIKU JUMBO

2016-05-12T09:00:10.424+08:00

On our last evening in Tokyo, we ventured out to Shirokane in the southern end of Minato for an early dinner at Yakiniku Jumbo.  This yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant only serves A5 Black Wagyu which is the highest quality of Japanese beef.  The place is simply decorated with wooden booths and tables with a built-in grill in the center.  Reservations are recommended as the place fills up quickly as soon as they open at 5:00 p.m. and tables are allocated every two hours so we were gently ushered out at 6:30 so they could reset for the next batch of diners.Different cuts are available on the menu from traditional cuts like short-plate kalbi and the loin to higher-priced prime cuts like shoulder and rib-eye plus sirloin which is only served in extra thin sukiyaki slices and served with a raw egg dip.  There's also a large selection of offal: beef tongue, intestine and stomach as well as pork womb (not really sure what that is) along with the more usual pork cheek and pork loin.  Specialties include Korean-style beef tartare and raw beef heart sashimi.  A few salads, kimchi and some vegetables (pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, mushroom, onion, carrot and shishito pepper) to be cooked on the grill is all there is for vegetarians.  Aside from steamed rice in small (individual), to medium or large (family-size) portions, they have two special rice dishes cooked in hot stone bowl: the traditional bibimbap topped with vegetables and a raw egg or the unusual Wagyu garlic rice version which is topped with a mound hand-chopped raw Wagyu beef and raw garlic which is mixed into the hot rice and continues to cook in the super hot stone bowl sort of like an instant extra-delicious premium fried rice.  Desserts are limited to Hokkaido soft-serve milk flavored ice cream or sherbet.We  ordered both beef and pork, a green salad of lettuce in a sesame soy dressing, assorted vegetables and both the bibimbap and the Wagyu garlic rice.  The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender with the marbled fat making every mouthful a pleasure.  The kids enjoyed it as well as we did and we ended up ordering more meat as the first plates went by way quicker than we expected.  Our server was a friendly California-raised Japanese surfer dude, making it the only meal we had in Tokyo where we could communicate easily with the person assigned to our table.  After a fantastic meal, we skipped dessert and instead took a short walk along the pedestrian street of the quiet residential area of Shirokane before heading back to the hotel.  Out of all our meals in Japan, yakiniku was the one that appealed to the whole family even if they only served one type of food: meat on the grill.  My Argentine husband got his meat fix and the kids and I all enjoyed the simple dinner of quality grilled meat and rice.  Looks like they have a partner restaurant in Singapore Yakiniku Yazawa which we are now eager to try for our Sunday family dinner out._____________________________Yakiniku JumboDai-ichi Azabu Bldg. 1F, 3-1-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, TokyoTel. 03-5795-4129Open daily 5:00 p.m. to midnight (Closed 31 December to 2 January)[...]



GINZA BAIRIN

2016-05-09T16:34:36.896+08:00

Ginza Bairin is one of Japan's most well-known tonkatsu specialty restaurants with five branches in Japan and almost a dozen overseas locations in Shanghai, Seoul, Singapore, Manila and even in Hawaii.  When we showed the taxi driver the address for the Ginza branch, he smiled and said "Oh, you'll be having good tonkatsu tonight.".Ginza Bairin does one thing only and that is tonkatsu -  Kurobuta (Berkshire pig) plus prawn cutlets and extra-large prawns coated in panko and deep-fried to perfection.  The menus consist of tonkatsu sets that come with unlimited steamed rice, cabbage salad, pickled vegetables and miso soup.  The place is like a Japanese diner with a long wooden counter running the length of the restaurant plus a few small tables at the back.  Tables are set with just chopsticks, the laminated menu and a small tray of homemade tonkatsu sauce in sweet and spicy versions, extra spicy Japanese mustard and chili flakes. Ginza Bairin opens all-day every day (except for new year's day) from 11:30 a.m. till just 8:45 p.m. so you need to get there early for dinner.  The restaurant facade is unobtrusive with no English sign and is located just off Ginza's main drag.  If not for the ubiquitous window display of plastic tonkatsu food variations right by the entrance, we would have missed it.  It showcases tonkatsu sandwiches (crispy deep-fried pork cutlet sandwiched on soft white crustless bread) to curry katsu (tonkatsu covered in a gravy like Japanese curry sauce) along with the other versions of tonkatsu meals. We all chose the tonkatsu set -crisp and not oily panko-coated kurobuta pork loin plus a side order of prawn katsu to share. The only thing we didn't realize was that the restaurant only takes cash so after dinner, my husband and son rushed  off to a nearby ATM while my daughter and I waited for them to get back.  (My daughter didn't mind the wait as she had her first encounter with a pink dialing pay phone and I had to explain to her how it worked).  Dinner was a hit as the kids love tonkatsu and even if that was the only thing Ginza Bairin served, they do such  good job that we enjoyed it thoroughly.  Our taxi driver was absolutely right.___________________________Ginza Bairin7-8-1, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061Daily 11:30 am till 8:45 pm (except January 1st)Cash payment onlyContact: t.ohyabu@ginzabairin.co.jp[...]



BAREBURGER

2016-05-06T09:00:04.834+08:00

I know, I know - we're in Tokyo so why are we eating hamburgers?  Well, like I mentioned in the previous post, Japanese restaurants have a tendency to serve one thing and one thing only and after several days where everyone had to agree to one-dish meals, I started googling burgers in Tokyo and found Bareburger Ginza which had just opened the day before (31 March 2016) at the brand-spanking new Tokyo Plaza Ginza department store which was conveniently located a few minutes walk from our hotel in Shiodome.Bareburger Organic opened its first outlet in 2009 in Astoria, Queens and now has 28 locations mostly in New York but with a few scattered in Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Ohio, Washington DC.  Its' first overseas franchise was in Tokyo with Dubai and Frankfurt opening soon.   Voted by Zagat as New York's best burger and Michelin-recommended for four years in a row (2011-2014), Bareburger has a lot to live up for since they use only free-range, pasture-grazed, humanely raised and antibiotic, gluten and hormone-free beef and chicken.  Even the beverages are organic and the french fries are cooked in non-GMO Canola oil.The menu has Bare "burgers and wiches", from¥1380/US$13 for the Buttermilk Buffalo Chicken Sandwich to ¥2980/US$28 for the Tomorrow Burger - a limited Tokyo special of Ozaki (Wagyu) beef tenderloin burger .  For vegetarians, there's The Shroom, a wild mushroom patty with alfalfa and balsamic mayo wrapped in kale.  There are also Greens (salads) and Bare shares which have side or share portions of french fries, sweet fries (sweet potato), onion rings and buttermilk chicken bites plus a couple of sliders.  They have a kid's menu called Cubby Fare (¥880/ US$8.50) - a choice of Panda (buttermilk chicken bites and buttermilk ranch dip) or a Grizzly (burger with Egmont cheese on a brioche) served with fries, dessert and organic juices (orange and apple) or organic milk.  They also have house-made natural soda, lemonade, iced tea and creamy milkshakes and a large selection on organic wines and spirits, organic craft beers and cocktails.  Desserts are ice cream sundaes: either the banana foster or the choco-peanut butter. On both visits, once for dinner and another to indulge the C's Grizzly craving, we enjoyed the food and the atmosphere plus the super friendly service and English-speaking (a challenge in Japan) staff.  We enjoyed the Buck Wild - burger with pimento, fried egg, crispy onions, dill pickles on a brioche bun) and the Supreme - burger with Egmont cheese, country bacon, green-leaf, chopped fried, special sauce on a birch bun topped with house-made onion rings.  We shared the fries and rings combo and the buttermilk chicken bites with classic lemonades and a creamy chocolate milkshake served in tall ice-cold aluminum cup.  The experience was all-American and guilt-free because of the organic and non-GMO ingredients they use making it one of our best meals in Tokyo.  Wonder when they'll open one in Singapore?  Soon, I hope.____________________________BareburgerTokyo Plaza Ginza 10-B (10th floor), 5-2-1 Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo 104-0061Telephone: +81 3 3572 5315Open daily, 11:00AM to 11:00PM (Last Order 10:00PM)[...]



SHABUSEN

2016-05-05T15:33:22.149+08:00

One of the best things about dining in Japan is that restaurants are so specialized that they serve only one type of food which is done perfectly.  One of the worst things about dining in Japan is that restaurants are so specialized that they serve only one type of food and so everyone has to agree to eat the same thing.  On one of our first evenings in Tokyo, we decided to do just that at a traditional shabu-shabu restaurant.  It took a while to convince our youngest, C, to commit to just shabu-shabu and not have tempura or tonkatsu (her favorite Japanese food).There are two Shabusen restaurants at the Ginza Core building - one on B2 and another on the 2nd floor.  Both serve the same shabu-shabu except that upstairs, there are operate tables where diners can sit together and share the shbau-shabu per table, while the basement outlet has three u-shaped counters where each seat has it's own shabu-shabu pot so it's good for those dining alone or those who'd rather not share their dinner.We went to the one in the basement and sat alongside each other in the middle counter.  Each place setting had a pot right in front of the seat.  The menu is limited with sets including beef, pork, a combination of beef and pork, Wagyu beef, or special pork from Hokkaido.  They also serve sukiyaki which is similar to shabu-shabu except that the meat, vegetables and noodles are already cooked in a sweeter and saltier broth which then takes the fun out of the full-on shabu-shabu cooking experience. Two servers are in-charge of around 20 diners per counter.  They do everything from pouring tea and serving drinks to setting the plates of thinly-sliced meat with a side portion of vegetables (Chinese cabbage, mushrooms,  tofu and some bean thread noodles) and two sauces: goma and ponzu.  They also check that the broth isn't bubbling over or that the sauce bottles are still full of ponzu or goma.  We started out with a cold egg custard topped with mayonnaise, cucumber and asparagus.  Soon after, the meat was served and it's D.I.Y. cooking from there.  The very thin slices of meat are dipped quickly in the light kombu-based broth then fished it out and dipped again in either the citrusy soy-sauce ponzu or  the creamier sesame-mayonnaise goma alternating between slices of meat and vegetable and mouthfuls of steamed rice.  You can personalize your dipping sauces by adding what you like from the trays set on the counter: spring onions, garlic and chili oil.    They say that the name shabu-shabu comes from the swishing sound of the meat stirred into the bubbling broth. Once you've finished the meat and vegetables, the servers come around and add noodles to the now flavorful bubbling broth and serve you a small bowl of ramen to finish of your meal.  Simple, satisfying and light.  Just remember that if you have big appetite, you might have to order an extra portion of meat (like my son did)._____________________________Shabusen Ginza〒104-0061 Tokyo, Chuo, Ginza, 5 Chome−8−20 (Ginza Core Building)Phone:+81 3 3571 1717 (B2) or  +81 3 3572 3806 (2F)Open daily,  11:30AM–2:30PM and 5:30–10PM[...]



TOKYO

2016-05-04T09:00:00.178+08:00

Tokyo is my second favorite city after Paris and it's because the Japanese are the most similar to the French in their love of gastronomy and beauty, from the beautifully presented food in individual dishes or lacquered bento boxes to the intricately-wrapped packages in the boutiques and food shops.  When I was at Le Cordon Bleu, it was always my Japanese classmates who perfected the pastry pratique as they were naturals at recreating the glazing and decoration on the gateaux et patisserie.  Their attention to detail is present in their day-to-day lives and this is seen everywhere in Japan.I had been to Tokyo for the first time in 2014 and explored the city on foot with my friend Rumi.  This time around, we chose to spend a week over the easter holidays with the kids to experience Tokyo during Sakura season (cherry blossom time).  Spring in Tokyo is usually rainy but mild and it was a nice change of weather from tropical Singapore.We walked all over the city from  Ginza for shopping and eating to admiring the architecture and window displays in Omotesando Hills.  We went to Midtown and walked around the beautiful green oasis of Hinokicho park where we saw our first cherry blossoms then headed over to nearby bustling Roppongi.  We also visited the peaceful Shinto shrine  Meiji Jingu located in the middle of a 100,000 tree forest near Harajuku and Omotesando.We also explored the basement food halls of department stores Matsuya and Mitsukoshi in Ginza which had an amazing selection of both local and imported food for takeaway.  Despite having spent a week in Tokyo, I still felt that we had only scratched the surface on what the city had to offer in gastronomic treats which just means that I'll be gong back sooner rather than later.__________________________Meiji Jingu1-1 Yoyogi-Kamizono-cho,Shibuya-ku,Tokyo 151-8857*Open daily from sunrise to sunset (opening and closing times change depending on the season)GinzaHarajuku & OmotesandoRoppongi[...]



GIN KHAO BISTRO

2016-05-03T14:01:18.594+08:00

Sunday evenings are when we have our family dinner out and since Sentosa Cove's Quayside Isle  is much more pleasant than the overcrowded Resorts World complex, we end up heading there for an early dinner al fresco overlooking the marina.  Since Quayside Isle opened in December 2012, there have been several changes in the restaurant offerings - the space right beside the popular Blue Lotus used to be a Japanese restaurant, then an oyster bar and now is the space where the Thai restaurant Gin Khao is located.Gin Khao Bistro serves simple Thai dishes at very reasonable prices. I might be mistaken but it seems like they have the cheapest food in the strip of restaurants of the usually overpriced Quayside Isle (not counting the Panini at the newly opened Joe & the Juice).   We usually order the same dishes from their menu which features Thai street food:  Po Pia Tod - prawn spring rolls, green mango and prawn relish with rice crackers and Tom Yum chicken wings plus by their larb moo - warm minced pork and mint salad or the spicy green papaya salad to start.  They do a decent seafood pad thai and have a good selection of grilled seafood (mackerel or squid) or meat (chicken or pork belly) served with the addicting nah jim (green chili and lime dip). There are several types of fried rice on the menu from the spicy green curry to the salty black olive rice to the sweet pineapple and the unusual watermelon rice.  Service is always courteous and efficient and best of all, the food is hot, spicy and inexpensive, the way Thai street food should be.__________________Gin Khao Bistro31 Ocean Way #01-12 Quayside Isle, Singapore 098375Tel: (65) 6570 2208Email: feedback@ginkhao.com.sgMon to Thurs: 12:00pm to 3:00pm, 5:30pm to 10:00pmFri: 12:00pm to 12:00amSat/Eve: 11:00am - 12:00amSun/PH: 11:00am - 10:00pmLast Order: 30 mins before closing*10% off for Sentosa Cove Residents*Takeaway available[...]



THE POPULUS COFFEE & FOOD CO.

2016-04-18T18:31:44.339+08:00

The Populus Coffee & Food Co (the name's a mouthful) opened around six months ago in a shophouse along Neil road.   The long narrow space has been carefully redesigned using a lot of wood, from the ceiling and wall tiles to the counter, complemented by modern metal accents like the industrial lighting and iron shelving.  The tables look like textured grey fabric, a nice design touch that makes it seem as if there's a table cloth.  Their tableware (plates, bowls, cups, sugar containers) have also been carefully chosen with a minimalistic touch making the space a beautifully-designed spot to hang out and have a coffee.As soon as you step inside the Populus, you know what they specialize in from the wonderful aroma of roasted coffee beans which come from 2 Degrees North Coffee Co.  Several types of coffee are available - from the usual espresso, cappuccino, latte with both full cream, low fat or soy milk and flavoring, plus bottles of single origin cold drip and a white brew using their three in-house blends: Monolith (comforting & reassuring), Caldera (uplifting & refreshing) and the Duxton Vice (cheeky & adventurous).  Filter coffee is also served with six types to choose from.  For those not so much into coffee, they serve a rich Valrhona chocolate, iced or hot, and a selection of smoothies, fresh juices and botanical soft drinks from Fentiman's.For a small cafe, the menu is quite large.  I prefer the weekday menu which has a selection of breakfast specials along with healthy grain bowls and donburi plus a few pastas and sandwiches.  There are three ice cream sundaes and a buttermilk waffle for dessert.  The weekend menu has more egg dishes and less of the main courses and since they're usually packed from early morning, some dishes are sold out by early evening.On my first mid-morning visit, I had their fluffy scrambled eggs with a perfect piccolo latte and a large fresh orange juice.  For lunch recently, I had the teriyaki salmon donburi, a petite portion of teriyaki-glazed salmon served on seasoned Japanese rice, furikake, nanban vegetables and an onsen egg. On another weekend evening, my husband & I shared their avocado superfood green platter (kale, broccoli, avocado and spinach with feta and cottage cheese) and the Portobello mushroom grain bowl with furikake baby corn, red cabbage & apple slaw, roasted zucchini, roasted butternut squash, sautéed cherry tomatoes, L&P mixed mushrooms.   It's a good place for healthy eaters since there's quite a few dishes that are just vegetables and/or grains.  I'm looking forward to my next meal at the Populus since there's still a lot on the menu I haven't tried plus a few several coffee concoctions I'd like to sample.________________________________The Populus Coffee & Food Co.146 Neil Road, SingaporeTelephone: +65 6635 8420email: hello@thepopuluscafe.comMon & Wed 09:00 - 19:00Thu & Fri     09:00 - 22:30Sat                 09:30 - 22:30Sun                09:30 - 19:00[...]



BIRD BIRD

2016-03-30T15:05:42.983+08:00

Bird Bird is the newest restaurant of Singapore's bad boy chef, Bjorn Shen.  Fans of his popular Middle Eastern restaurant Artichoke, are in for another cheeky surprise with this casual Thai street food restaurant just like those found in the back streets of Bangkok.  The place is simply but thoughtfully designed with mismatched plastic stools, simple wooden tables, multi-colored soft drinks crates stacked up by the bar and colorfully decorated walls with their cheeky slogan "Bird Bird Satisfy You Long Time" to the stenciled red rooster painted with the line "This is the S#*t".I went with a group of friends recently and we all had the set lunch menu ($13) which comes with your choice of a main course and a drink: soft drink, Thai soda water or soy milk. If you top up a few dollars more, you can have one of their signature slushies (we had the Thai iced milk tea or Thai milk coffee blended with lots of ice to make a refreshing drink which was sweet enough to combat the spice).We had the Khao Soi (spicy chicken curry soup topped with fried noodles) and the chili basil minced duck Gra Pow which came with steamed rice and the usual fried egg.  We added a few other dishes to share - the som tum (spicy green papaya salad) and a big plate of their famous Gai Tod (southern-style fried chicken wings with chili jam), the bird-bird from which the restaurant got its' name.  For dessert, six of us shared their homemade ice cream Neh-Neh pops (another of Chef Shen's creations) - we had sneekers (just like a chocolate covered ice cream dipped in crushed pretzels and marshmallows), a cherry cheesecake (cherry flavored ice cream dipped in graham cracker crumbs) and the Thai flavored Mango sticky rice (mango ice cream dipped in white chocolate and rolled in crispy rice).  The food was good, the place was fun, the service was friendly and the price was right - what more can one ask for?  We'll be back for sure.__________________________Bird Bird18 Ann Siang Road, #01-01, Singapore 069698LUNCHTuesday - Saturday | 1130am - 230pmDINNERTuesday - Thursday | 630pm - 10pmFriday & Saturday | 630pm - 11pmCLOSED ON SUNDAY & MONDAYWalk-ins only for groups of 5 or less.Email hello@birdbirdsg.com for reservations for groups of 6 and more. A minimum spend of S$45++/pax is required for all reservations. Your reservation is only confirmed after we've sent you a confirmation reply.[...]



THE LOKAL

2016-03-15T14:28:58.326+08:00

After two years and a half of living in Singapore, I'm starting to play favorites and have become a regular at a few places.  The Lokal, which opened in 2014 has literally become "my local" since Chinatown is the closest restaurant row off Sentosa island and they're open early for really good breakfasts and strong coffee.  Service is also friendly, although it can be chaotic when it's packed on the weekends, and it's not fancy so it's easy to just drop in for a quick bite.  Although the menu is limited (only about a dozen dishes), they do have a large selection of mix and match items which they cheekily call "pimp your breakfast", so you can pimp your plate by adding poached, scrambled or fried eggs, baked beans toast, bacon, smoked mackerel or mackerel and several other side vegetables.  The other great thing about this little place is that the Australian chef prepares a lot of ingredients in-house (one of the few that do this in Singapore).  They house-cure their bacon, they smoke their salmon and mackerel over cherry and apple wood chips, they make their own butter, ricotta, and yoghurt and they even make their own jams and peanut butter.  Coffee is from Common Man Coffee Roasters and they surprisingly have decaf and cold brew coffee plus skim, soy and almond milk.  Daily specials are on the board: usually a toastie (sort of a grilled sandwich filled with different fillings per day) and a multi-fruit fresh juice and sometimes a muffin or cookie.  I've been countless times in the last year and a half and it's a firm favorite for a quiet solo (or not) breakfast or for an afternoon treat.  There's a completely different menu for dinner (I've never been) with cocktails and wines and a weekend brunch menu which includes a Sunday roast and a pork sausage burger which isn't available during the week. ______________________________The Lokal136 Neil RoadSingapore 088865Tel: (65) 6423 9918Email: hello@thelokalsingapore.comMonday 8am to 5pmTuesday to Friday 8am to 10pmSaturday 9am to 10pmSunday 9am to 4pm[...]



Flashback Friday: RONIN

2016-05-05T15:32:18.324+08:00

"Walk down the alley to a row of nondescript buildings and watch out for the unmarked grey one with a wooden door".  Those were the instructions a friend gave me when she told me about Ronin a few months after they opened in 2013.  Finding Ronin is part of the fun, and the start of what would be an adventurous evening of fine (sea)food and drink. Opened by the same young restaurateurs that manage the always packed yakitori temple Yardbird and the more casual fried chicken and sandwich place Sunday's Grocery, Ronin is a sleek dining bar that focuses on modern Japanese cuisine served with a large selection of Japanese scotch, sake (rice wine), shochu (sake-based liqueur), umeshu (ume fruit based liqueur) and Japanese craft beers.Ronin features a daily changing menu on a single sheet of paper where seafood is the star. T and I opted for the 12-course tasting menu to get a feel of their food.  The first half of the menu features raw seafood which we had with some cold sake.  We started off with a cold raw Shigoku oyster lightly seasoned with red shiso vinegar followed by the sashimi selection: shima aji, kintokidai red bigeye snapper, hotate scallop and ojisan goatfish, all simply served on a bowl of crushed ice.  The third course was delicious flower crabmeat chunks tossed with uni slivers and put back in the  shell.  The last of the raw seafood courses was a yuzu baby yellowtail sashimi sliced so thinly that you could see the black plate through the fish. The fifth raw course was skinless wedges of extra-sweet fruit tomato with just salt and pepper.The second part of the menu were the cooked dishes starting off with grilled tilefish, daikon, white ponzu and crispy fish scales - crunchy, hot, creamy and salty in one bite.  The seventh was their signature KFC a.k.a. korean fried crab deep-fried soft shell crablets with chili sauce - just like crab popcorn and a fine dining version of their other uber-popular Yardbird KFC (Korean fried cauliflower).  Next up was the white ale battered hirame, yuzu mayo along with a small glass of very cold white ale.  The most interesting flavor combination of the evening was the ninth course of fried triggerfish in honey, Kyoto shichimi sauce and crispy chestnut slivers (which looked just like garlic) that they suggested we have with a Japanese Hakushu single malt scotch and soda water.  Not being a usual Scotch drinker, I was surprised at how the hot-crispy-sweet-salty fish paired so well with the refreshing highball.  The next two courses: wild tiger prawns, bamboo fennel, tomato confit served in a stone pot like a seafood stew and the deep fried quail, orange zest, sansho pepper were a blur and we just tasted  bit of each.  The final course:unagi, kinome, chirashi was another stunner and this one, we finished up to the last grain of rice.  We were pleasantly stuffed at this point, and all we had space for was a couple of sips each of the dessert-like digestifs cocoa nib shochu and coffee shochu.Two and a half hours later as we stumbled up the stairs onto the street, [...]



NATIONAL KITCHEN by Violet Oon

2016-03-03T16:43:33.876+08:00

One of the landmark events of 2015 to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday was the November opening of the National Gallery of Singapore, an architectural restoration that joined two national monuments, the former Supreme Court and City Hall, to display the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia.  In the same building, several restaurants have opened.  There's the high-end modern French Odette, classic Italian Aura spread out on three floors, sophisticated Cantonese Yan, rooftop bar with a view Smoke and Mirrors, innovative Indian Saha, casual cafe and retail shop Gallery & Co and heritage cuisine by celebrated local chef Violet Oon at the National Kitchen by Violet Oon.  National Kitchen was designed none other than the chef's daughter, and she has created a cozy yet elegant space with dramatic chandeliers, black leather booths, mirrors throughout and assorted antique tiles to showcase Singapore's Peranakan heritage.The lunch and dinner menu is extensive and lists a few Singaporean specialties which may not necessarily be Peranakan like the iconic Singapore Chili Crab and Hainanese Chicken Rice.  There is also a light bites menu served at the Veranda which is open in the evenings.I enjoyed two lunches there recently and had some decent Peranakan dishes: ngoh hiang -  deep fried beancurd skin filled with prawn, crab and chicken, grilled chicken satay with grated pineapple topped chunky peanut sauce and served with cucumbers and rice cakes, Kuay Pie Tee -bamboo shoot and turnip filled crispy cups and the sambal kimchiam dang -a spicy salad of lily buds with starfruit and prawns, the mixed vegetables and tempeh Sayur Lodeh and the deep-fried sambal eggplant.  The beef rendang and butter floss prawns were exceptionally good but it was the modern versions of traditional Peranakan fare that really impressed me -the refined  cod in creamy laksa sauce and the spicy dry laksa noodles are both dishes that you should not miss at the National Kitchen.Dessert selections were limited to five classics, of which we've had four: the crepe-like roti jala with gala melaka was lacking in filling, the delicious rice cake kueh being ka, the warm black glutinous rice pulot hitam with coconut ice cream was too soupy, and the yummy pineapple upside-down cake.  Last on the list to try is the kueh dah dah a pandan-infused crepe filled with grated coconut which looked much more interesting than the roti jala we ordered.  I'm looking forward to see what dinner is like and maybe even drinks and snacks at the Veranda.  When you do decide to go, make sure to reserve as the place is usually packed both at lunch and dinner.______________________________National Kitchen by Violet Oon1 St. Andrew’s Road#02–01, National Gallery Singapore(City Hall Wing)Singapore 178957Email: eat@violetoon.comCall: +65 9834 9935Private room dining is available by reservation only.Enter via Coleman Street entranceOpen daily for Lunch from noon to 3 pm, Dinner from 6-11 pm, last order at 9:30 pmVeranda is open from 5:30 to 11 p.m - last order at 10 pm[...]



Flashback Friday: HONG KONG

2016-03-04T12:43:27.237+08:00

When we were growing up, Hong Kong was our weekend getaway.  At just an hour and a half flight, I can't recall how many times we visited with my parents and grandparents over the years. When I moved to Paris in the early nineties, Hong Kong was too far away to visit but when I went back home in 1997, I visited again and even stayed there for longer periods while A was posted there in 1999. Since then, I hadn't been back, and I had heard that the Hong Kong of my childhood had changed - it was bigger, brighter, more crowded - the New York of Southeast Asia.  Finally, in 2014 I went for a few days with my friend T.  We lucked out on a promotion at the newish Mira Moon designed by Marcel Wanders and you Studio.  In a slim modern tower, on the edge of Wan Chai (which used to be the infamous red light district of Hong Kong), it's near the convention center and to several hip restaurants.  With just 91 rooms, this boutique hotel was perfect for our girl's mini-break.  On each floor, there are only a few rooms.  Our Full Moon Premier Room was much bigger than we expected and the bathroom was huge, with a separate rain shower and a large bathtub with a sliver view of the harbor.  There was a pretty wooden Grey Goose box filled with everything for martinis, intricately-carved cabinet doors, and rabbits everywhere from the ceilings to the glass etchings and the lamp bases.  Even the signs scattered around had rabbits including one that said "Good rabbits don't smoke".  We enjoyed breakfast al fresco at their tiny but well-designed terrace and on one of the evenings, we also managed to have a few after-dinner cocktails.On our first evening, we explored the little street and had dinner at the more casual and better-priced Hee Kee for their fried crab rather than at the fancier Under Bridge Spicy Crab which was two steps away.  The fried crab was sweet and overloaded with crunchy garlic.  We had it with their salt and pepper squid and a plate of stir-fried greens which was a tasty start for our Hong Kong holiday.The next day, we wandered around Wan Chai and explored the area near Wing Fung street and had an early lunch at Classified before we crossed over to Pacific Place and some retail therapy.   On another day, we explored the IFC mall and had lunch at Open Kitchen which had long queues at their large deli counter of salads, sandwiches, cakes and pastries.  We continued our shopping at the Landmark were we stopped for a much-needed afternoon espresso at Fuel. Our last lunch was at the traditional Maxim's Palace City Hall - an old school classic dining room with large windows all along one side.  We shared an assortment of dim sum -  prawn filled cheong fun (rice paper rolls), flaky char-siu puffs, the usual siew mai and her gao, steamed pork ribs, custard buns, buchi (red bean paste-filled glutinous rice balls) and the standard dan tarts.  As always, the dim sum in Hong Kong didn't disappoint.  I never made it to my childhood haunts - Spring Deer and Yung Kee but now that Hong Kong is just a few hours flight from Singapore, there's no excuse not to visit more often._____________________________Mira Moon Hotel388 Jaffe[...]



PS CAFE PETIT AT MARTIN ROAD

2016-02-25T15:01:38.734+08:00

No surprise that we, along with everyone else, have been to PS Cafe countless times.  It's the standard go-to for most locals and expats especially for weekend brunch.  Everyone has their preferred PS Cafe, families love the garden setting at the PS Cafe at Harding Road while others swear by the adults-only PS Cafe at Ann Siang Hill Park, Orchard regulars always end up either at PS Cafe at Paragon  or at PS Cafe at Palais Renaissance (which used to be my favorite). The newest version is the PS Cafe Petit which opened first in Tiong Bahru - a smaller self-service spot that has pizzas, sandwiches and takeaway and limited seating and it's this concept that they expanded on for  PS Cafe Petit at Martin road - our new favorite because it's got an all-day dining menu that serves brunch all day, everyday plus a large lunch and dinner menu which includes pizzas and Asian specialties taken from the adjacent Chopsuey Cafe.  There's also a deli counter with breads, cakes, salads and sandwiches to-go plus a large selection of wines.  Like the other PS Cafes, this one is bright and beautiful with the usual modern interiors and ginormous flower arrangements.On a recent Saturday morning, we stopped by for breakfast while our daughter was at a party at Amped trampoline park just around the corner.   We enjoyed the quiet time with our coffees and delicious breakfast.  I had the egg and bacon bunwich - a fried egg and crisp bacon on a soft bun while A had the poached eggs on sourdough with sautéed spinach and a roasted tomato.  We also shared the homemade toasted muesli  with homemade honey toasted muesli with nuts and seeds over greek yoghurt and berry compote.  We've also been and early for pizza dinner with the kids as well as several lunches.  Service is always courteous and efficient especially when the manager is around (something that seems to be lacking in the other outlets) and more importantly, the food is always good. _____________________________PS Cafe Petit at Martin Road38 Martin Road, 239072Reservations and takeaway: +65 8188 6191Open daily: Brunch  9:30 to 4, Lunch and Dinner 11 to midnight, Last food order 10:30 pm[...]



EL TARDEO

2016-02-18T15:12:58.268+08:00

El Tardeo, is the newish tapas bar owned and managed by next-door  Binomio, our favorite Spanish restaurant in Singapore.  Open from the late afternoon  for the Spanish tapas-bar-hopping habit called "tapeo" (the name is a mix  of "tarde" meaning afternoon and "tapeo"), El Tardeo's interiors are simple with a large bar on one end and several bar tables scattered throughout the concrete-floored space.  El Tardeo's menu is a mix of cold and hot pintxos and tapas, cold cuts and a few salads and main courses with an extensive cocktail and drinks list highlighting the trendy Spanish pre-dinner drink, the gin tonic while sangria, beers,  Cava and Spanish wines.On a recent mid-week visit, we stuck to sharing several small plates with a few glasses of a crisp Radio Boca verdejo from Valencia. We started out with the cold pintxo tortilla patata - layers of thinly sliced potatoes, covered in fluffy egg and topped with a tiny dollop of aioli (strangely served hot instead of cold),  a couple of hot pintxos - the zapatilla, thin slices of melt-in-the-mouth jamon on toasted bread rubbed with tomato and the cojonudo - grilled chorizo fried egg and a piquillo pepper.  This was followed by a few modern tapas: croquetas de calamares filled with squid ink flavored béchamel, the grilled secreto Iberico (surprisingly bland for a usually flavorful cut) and the outstanding bikini de rabo toro - tender oxtail sandwiched between a  crispy pancake-like covering.  We were still a bit hungry after that so we shared some pan con tomate and finished off our meal with an espresso.  El Tardeo is perfect for big groups at happy hour who want to sample tasty tapas with drinks, but if it's dinner you're after, book a table at next-door Binomio instead._____________________________El Tardeo20 Craig Road, Craig Place #01-01Singapore 089692Telephone: +65 6221 6288SMS: +65 8181 1829Email: reservation@eltardeo.sg*Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm to midnight, Sunday from 11 to 6 pm, Closed Mondays[...]



LONG CHIM

2016-02-16T19:20:40.723+08:00

January 2016 just whizzed by and the lunar new year has begun and my blog has been neglected for the last few months.  Today, a  friend asked when I would get back to blogging so I guess the answer is now.Long Chim, owned by chef David Thompson of Bangkok's Nahm (#22 on World's 50 Best and #7 on Asia's 50 Best), opened with considerable fanfare almost a year ago.  The chef timed the opening not long after the 2015 Asia's 50 Best evening in Singapore, and did a couple of  invitation-only dinners while the region's chefs and food journalists were in town for the event.The restaurant is a temple to Thai street food and much more fun and much less formal than Nahm.  A lot of thought was put into the interiors to make the place feel like a stylized version of the street food stalls in Bangkok, from the chairs covered in mismatched fabrics and the jumbled up tiles at the entrance to the Thai tin cans filled with cutlery and the hand-papered walls.  A lot of money was spent to make the restaurant look not too perfect and it works.I've been several times for both lunch and dinner and it's their a la carte dinner menu that I enjoyed more.  Fresh herbs and fiery chilis are in most dishes and they don't have a less spicy version so order carefully.  I made the mistake once of ordering the green papaya salad and couldn't even finish half of it - guess my chili tolerance isn't Thai-high (yet).  Some memorable dishes were the Chiang Mai curry noodles (khao soi), stir-fried Chinese broccoli with crispy pork and oyster sauce, the banana leaf cone filled with crispy mini fish cakes, the charred rice noodles with pork and yellow beans and the lamb rib curry.  To be honest, I'd go more often if it wasn't in the middle of the mall.  Walking past all those designer boutiques doesn't help make the way to Long Chim feel like a busy Bangkok street, but it is worth it once you get there.________________________LONG CHIM#02-02, Atrium 2 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018955Reservations: +65 6688 7299 or reservations@longchim.sgOpen daily for lunch and dinner[...]



Flashback Friday: Thoumieux

2015-09-04T09:00:04.372+08:00

The Thoumieux is a 15-room boutique hotel, owned by the BeauMarly group of Thierry Costes (son of one of those Costes brothers) and operators of over a dozen hip and happening restaurants and hotels in Paris.  It was a novelty for us since we always stay at Le Saint-Gregoire in the neighboring 6th, our favorite left bank arrondissement and we were pleasantly surprised with the vie du quartier of the 7th arrondissement fun as well.  We arrived at dawn on a cold November morning and were lucky enough to have the room ready for a our very early check-in.  Our room was on the top floor overlooking the street which we preferred, despite the noise, as it gave us a nice place to sit and watch the bustling rue Saint-Dominique.  Interiors are a riot of pattern on pattern created by India Mahdavi (which can be overwhelming for some), although we thought it was a fun take on the usual flower prints or toile de jouy traditionally used in these type of hotels.  It also helped convince us to choose Thoumieux for their Aesop products (love them!), the in-room illy FrancisFrancis  (same one we have at home), complimentary mini bar, iPad loaded with information and music and the full-service brasserie on the ground floor - a definite plus, especially in the winter, where we could nip down to have a quick drink or dinner without having to brave the cold.We enjoyed breakfast at the hotel a few times, it was pricey at €30 in the dining room or €40 for breakfast in bed, but worth it - coffee, tea or hot chocolate, fresh fruit salad, vanilla yoghurt, a basket of vienoisseries and toast with honey and homemade jams, a soft-boiled egg, ham and in-house smoked salmon served on pretty plates with starched linen napkins in a cozy dining room just off the tiny reception area.We also had lunch (weekday prix-fixe €22/two-course or €29/three course), dinner and even dessert and coffee at the busy Brasserie Thoumieux which was always packed with locals especially on Sunday when so many Paris restaurants are closed.  The food was well-executed, from the tartare de boeuf (steak tartar) to the entrecôte sauce poivre (rib-eye with pepper sauce) - cuisses de grenouilles (frog's legs) to the supreme de volatile (roast chicken breast) - all quite good but not a gourmet meal, which is what brasserie fare is all about.Luckily, we also had the chance to sample one of the Gateaux Thoumieux creations, a sugar-frosted lemon raspberry butter cake - our in-room welcome amenity - and one that we picked at constantly when we had our afternoon espresso.  The jewel-box sized all-white marble cake shop is just across the street from the hotel with a beautiful window display of cakes and pastries.All in all a wonderful stay and one we're keen to repeat on our next Paris trip - hopefully, sooner rather than later.Nota Bene: Like other small hotels in Paris, keep in mind that there are certain quirks: No lift and sometimes no one to help you carry your luggage upstairs,  No breakfast a la carte menu but you can always request changes and they try to accommodate you, a very simple room service menu.  Keep in mind that this i[...]