Mantao (Bao) + Pork Belly = Gua Bao

I’m not sure how the history started but we grew up with Mantao (Chinese Steamed Bread) paired with a pork belly dish with pickled vegetables (Khao Yok) This trip to Taiwan I was determined to try some – Many opened in Bangkok and i saw a few in the USA but i felt it seemed uniquely Taiwanese although i have read that it was inspired or brought by immigrants from Fujian Province. For those who haven’t heard a Gua Bao or Bao as it’s popularised from USA is the Bao (Mantao – Steamed Chinese Bread) + Pork belly cooked til soft and in 5 spice powder + sweetened roasted ground peanuts + pickled mustard greens + fresh coriander. In my next article i will explore how to make it on my own but this is what we had in Taiwan.

Hamburger Sized at this Tourist Market

I think this store had their own take on it which consists of the traditional 5 Spice Pork Belly + A thin Peppery Pork Chop Patty + a slice of Cheese and the traditional flavorings.

You can see the Peppery Patty & The Pork Belly Peaking Out

I thought it tasted alright but if they could melt the cheese somehow it would have been alot better.

Huge Steaming Buns Ready to Go
Condiments in big pails.

Will try to create a homemade version soon, anyone with recipes please share them ūüôā

A Taiwanese Breakfast Experience

You cannot just go to Taiwan and not experience the full on Taiwanese Breakfast Experience. We read through many blogs and wanted to try out what the fuss was about. We chose to go to Young He Soy Milk as there were so many reviews.

You can see the sign and the Ques from far away!
To Go Que

How to order? There are 2 lines. The lines on the outside are the to go orders. At the left side of the restaurant are the lines for eat in options. Get your friends to grab a table and you go inside to order.

The line snakes outside for the eat in options.
About 10 tables inside and more outside
Steaming Vats of Soy Milk on this side, the aromas make you hungry!

Now luckily there are menus in english however there are some decoding if you have never eaten this before. So tick on the paper given – We matched numbers on the english menu and when it’s your turn hand over your paper to the chefs/cooks behind the counter. (English Menu Pictures at the end of the blog.)

Tick the corresponding numbers on the English menu.
Crueller Station and the Crepes and Crispy Thicker Pancakes.

They will put your food on the trays and calculate the bill according to the food they placed on the trays. They calculate real fast! To the right of the counter there are spoons, sauce bowls etc. Grab that and tissue and start eating.

Making our order now! We ordered 4 Trays of food!
Working so fast but never splashing hot soy milk on themselves. Amazing!

At each table there are soy sauce, chilli oil, some salty bean paste and vinegar to mix your own sauce as well as salt and pepper. We made a blend of soy, chilli oil and vinegar for our table and we squished about 7 people so you can see there’s not much room for pretty picture taking.

Tiny Table for 7 people, and steaming bowls of various types of Soy Milk.

Lets talk about the real reason why i wanted to come here. In thailand we dont have salty soy milk but rather a more sweet version with some toppings like jobs tears, jelly balls, red bean etc. So i was curious about this savory salty soy milk that they call Dou Jiang here.

Condiment Tray for the Salty Soy Milk

As you can see at the counter the condiments are dried shrimp, scallions and i believe a bit of saly and sugar and vinegar to “curdle the soy milk”.

Looks like Tofu doesn’t it?

The result is a warm soft broken tofu in a savory “whey” soup? Honestly it’s like a soupy tofu soup with Yu Tiao or Crueller or Patongo as we call it in thailand – The long sticks of fried dough although i observed that in Taiwan they make it huge and long whereas In Thailand it’s more smallish in size.

You can see the huge cruelly and egg peaking our of the flat bread. Yummy.

Next order of business is the crispy flat bread wrapped around the Yu Tia (Fried Dough or Crueller) and a omelete with scallions. I think they call Shao Bing. Strangely if you put in some chilli sauce it actually tastes pretty good. The Flatbread is piping hot and crispy and with the chewy crispy Patongo and savory egg it’s kind of like a crispy burrito. The crepey one i think is called Jian Bing. Same Concept except this was more of a soft crepey version. I prefer the crispy one but other people in my crew were divided on this.

Thin crepey hotdog?
Sticky Rice Roll with Pork Floss and Egg

The element of surprise was that the most memorable dish which was completely unexpected and i must say hands down the best best most delicious dish was…

Xiao Long Bao
Juicy, soupy soft pork filling. The best i ever had.

Honestly everyone even said it was the best they ever had and sorry better than Din Tai Fung. The wrapper was not too thick and not doughy and lightly chewy. The pork was soft, oozing with juices very well seasoned and all around the best pillows of joy to eat.

The next dishes – Radish / Turnip Cake Lo Pa Ko was fine with the sauce – Now fine was quite good just the Xiao Long Bao just trumped everything. The Sweet Soy milk and unsweetened Soy milk here had a savory creaminess that we don’t really experience with bottled or boxed soy milk.

Still wondering why we ordered that lone fried egg….
Pork Bun was Soft and the filling was great as well…
He definitely prefers the crepey one….

So allocate about 100 – 150 Taiwan Dollar per person if you eat alot but definitely there’s so much more on the menu even though the english is a bit confusing…

Young He Soy Milk –

No. 102 Section 2 Fuxing South Road

Open 24 Hours a day – Monday to Sunday…

High Expectations at InkWell……

Making the trip to New Orleans for work and a quick stop over to LA just for Top Chef favorite M. Voltaggio’s new Inkwell restaurant proved to be a bit sad and disappointing.¬† Considering the miles flown for food it was a let down.¬† The hype and maybe the expectation was too high.¬† First we reserved way advance and the restaurant was quite empty.¬† Service was friendly but sometimes a bit snobby when we said the food was salty.¬† I don’t like people to tell me how the way the dish is supposed tot taste.¬† Salty is Salty.¬† Period.

Masculine Minimalistic look – Black Leather Sofas, White Walls Clean lines very sleek look.

The drinks we ordered were the blended whisky and sloe gin.  Prices were sort of reasonable i mean for the amount you expect to pay at a restaurant and from a Top Chef restaurant no less.

 

The blended scotch tasted ok not memorable however the sloe gin tasted like a chinese medicine brew with a coffee aftertaste.  Like not good. You can smell it and a lingering after taste in your mouth.  The menus seemed kind of reasonable for some dishes and pricey for others.  Again I ate at Craft many years ago and prices was higher although the food was impeccable.  (Skirt steak was still soft 5 hours later)

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The waitress suggested 5 dishes to share for the two of us but we went a bit over board as it was a loong way from Thailand.  The waitress also said the kitchen will determine the order of the courses according to taste.  Sounded smart to me.

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Heirloom Tomatoes, Watermelon, Pickled Rind, Sheeps Feta

All components was yummy.  Tomatoes fresh РLovely Taste РFeta strong and Delicious.  Yet the dish had no ooomph to it.  It was not something you remember forever.

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Frisee Salad with Crispy Pork Ear & egg yolk pudding…

Of the evening this was one of the dishes that i will remember.  Simply well dressed greens РCrispy delicious Pork Ears.  And underneath.. A supremely eggy pudding/custard that was so fine, delicate without being too eggy even if it was very egg yolk.  Together the combination was marvelous.  I admit. Savoury, Creamy, Sharp Vinaigrette, Crispy Pork, crunchy greens, soft smoothness on tongue from pudding.   10 / 10

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Eggy Pudding – Soft, Silky Yummy

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Streeet Corn – Foritos with Cotija Cheese

Cheese was delicious and the puffy Chip was delicious.¬† Stops there.¬† The creamy corn was saltier with every bite and we informed the waiter but he said that was how it is and that it’s not salty.¬† So we left it at that.

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Beef Tartare with Banh Mi Flavours

The tartare was yummy (but not memorable) we didn’t see any Vietnamese flavours aside from the asian herbs on top.¬† The mayo was the star of the dish – Airy, fluffy cloud of deliciousness.¬† I will remember this mayo forever.¬† 9/10

The interesting part of this was that the fish dishes came after the heartier savoury beef tartare. Even in the menu the meat dishes was listed after the seafood ones.

I thought this dish was rather well executed, i think the delicate tuna meshed well with the celery root.¬† However I didn’t really understand the tofu mustard.¬† Didn’t taste like tofu or mustard.

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Tuna Tartare with Tofu Mustard

The balance of fattiness and the crispy celery root was well done.¬† The green powder wasn’t really needed as there was so little of it and can’t taste the flavour but i thought it was quite fun and easy to eat.¬† 9/10

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Creamy, tangy and delicate Flavours.

Unfortunately things are going downhill.¬† The octopus was burnt and over cooked.¬† Like a dog’s chew toy.¬† Quite awful sadly.¬† The pasta was way undercooked – Not al dente.¬† You can see the raw pasta in the middle when you bit into it. The flavours seemed alright however i couldn’t get past the rubbery octopus and hard pasta.¬† It was very sad.

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Octopus, Ink shells and Pimento

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Lamb Belly and Pine nuts cassoulet and yogurt curds…

I was really looking forward to this dish.¬† I love bellys of every animal.¬† It’s fatty, rich and tender.¬† Strangely it was stringy, chewy and not a great texture of lamb belly.¬† The pine nuts felt like it’s past it’s prime.¬† When nuts aren’t creamy but has that stale taste it’s a bit of a huge let down.¬† The yogurt curds was delicious. Creamy, sourish and thick.¬† That was it.¬† Kind of heart breaking at 30 bucks for delicious yogurt.¬† Curds…..

Sadly it was a memorable evening but i remember more of the bad bits rather than the good.¬† I think it was the expectation and considering i was a huge fan.¬† I would rate the overall experience at 4/10.¬† More of an ink blot than ink.well……

Whale’s Belly – Best Unlimited Tasting Menu – Unpretentious Fine Dining

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Comfy and Beautifully Cosy

On our way to another restaurant we spotted the Poster of Whale’s Belly. ¬†All you can eat weekend brunch chosen from their Brunch menu. ¬†The pictures looked very well presented and in dainty portions. ¬†We detoured and set for the restaurant. ¬†The warm welcome that we received from the staff already signaled the level of service for this restaurant. ¬†Warm. Inviting. Sincere. Unpretentious. ¬†This was a 10/10 for me already.

The drinks menu ranged from cocktails, imported mineral waters, juices, beers, virgin cocktails and coffee all ranging from 150 onward. ¬†Let me say that the honey lime soda was exceptional and worth it’s price. ¬†It was fresh, and well balanced drink – To make it perfect i think is very hard which they executed perfectly.

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Starter Menu

 

They have a nice variety of choices that should satisfy everyone – Maybe some more non fish options would be nice but considering it’s called Whale’s Belly maybe the lean was on seafood. ¬†We ordered the Tuna, Salmon Tartare and Onsen Egg to Start with a Lobster Bisque and the Truffle Soup to start and nibbled on warm I think Charcoal and Sunflower seed bread with salted butter in a nice swirl pat. ¬†I appreciate the spreadable butter still cold but not rock hard. ¬†I believe that in fine dining restaurant this should be something that is cared about. ¬†10/10 again.

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Delicious, warm and crunchy with the Sunflower Seeds.

Our first three starters arrived in succession. ¬†The salmon tartare was a pretty sight, i appreciate the generous topping of ikura. Sometimes chefs think garnishes are really a garnish but i think if it’s on something it contribute to the taste at least. ¬†If you are going to add an ingredient make sure you can taste it. ¬†And yes the saltiness of the eggs counterbalanced the creamy wasabi dressing and the yuzu cut through your tongue plus the firmness of the salmon was very good. ¬†I liked the fluffy chip on top for some texture. ¬†It was a bit different from most Parmesan chips i had this one was definitely fluffy. It was a great start definitely.

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Delicious!

Now on to our Iron Chef winning dish.  It really peaked our interest that this dish won РIt came in a very pretty looking noodle spiral and the chunks of tuna on top.

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Iron Chef Winner!

I like how the layers work together – The Blue crab was not watery and tasted like fresh gulp of the sea. ¬†I admit i think there was a bit too much capellini but it was al dente and felt like those HK abalone noodles in texture. ¬†The lumpfish caviar helped with the saltiness and the tuna was fresh and dense with flavor. ¬†This time the yuzu is cut with a more intense peppery taste. ¬†I like the spice factor with this dish. ¬†But less noodles. ¬†Let’s say this portion is 2 bites – Perfect for sharing.

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Beautiful Beautiful Onsen Egg

Our third course was the warm onsen egg with beurre blanc and crispy bacon pieces. ¬†Even though i prefer a more sharper beurre blanc but this dish had a dimension of creaminess although not overpowering until it was too creamy. ¬†The crispy bacon bits gave that nice crunch with every bite. ¬†Only problem is it wasn’t a 62 degree egg. ¬†I think the yolk over cooked somehow. ¬†I think the problem with Bangkok is fresh eggs are a bit hard to find. ¬†To find a new egg to make that perfectly poached egg with complete whites will holding together if a bit difficult.

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I think maybe it waited a bit too long in the sou vide and the yolk set. ¬†All in all it’s still a beautiful dish and tasted how eggs should. ¬†Creamy, buttery and bacony. ¬†9/10

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Almond Slivers works so well with Mushroom Soup…. Heavenly!

I’m not a truffle oil fan. ¬†Usually it’s artificially flavored you can feel the fakeness of the oil. ¬†Mushrooms on the other hand i love. ¬†I think it’s the combination of mushrooms used to make a soup sometimes it feels grainy. ¬†This was a thick watery puree of well made mushroom pillowy goodness. ¬†The milk foam on top lent that pillowy feel. Then you crunch on an almond sliver. ¬†This is the best mushroom soup i ever had. ¬†Truffle oil… Not so much. ¬†But they should rename this the Best Mushroom Soup ever… Period. ¬†It didn’t even need the truffle oil.

 

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Hints of  Booze.  My favorite flavour.

Lobster bisque is a tricky thing. That delicate creaminess and lobster taste with the booze. ¬†There must be a balance. ¬†I’m not a fan of those heavy roux based soups. ¬†Sometimes the flour is too much and you can taste the uncooked roux or it’s just too thick and not in a good way. ¬†This bisque was made well – Balanced Boozy , creamy mouth feel with a sweetness i figure from the carrots. ¬†Slightly too sweet for my liking but as mentioned i like boozy bisques. ¬†Everyone mopped the bowl clean with the bread. ¬†Every foodie has a mean streak. ¬†Either they like to complicate menus just to see how the chef will perform or ask for crazy food combos. ¬†I do the opposite.

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Main Course & Desserts

I like to order the most basic thing on the menu and see how well they performed. ¬†Thus this is what i ordered to test the chef…. Can you guess?

 

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Spaghetti – Garlic – Chilli

Spaghetti Aglio – I never understood why it was so appealing until i went to Italy. ¬†Before it was an oil bland tasting dish. ¬†But Italy was another story. ¬†I must say Whale’s Belly impressed me. ¬†I would prefer a bit more garlic and a more firmer pasta but they had that nice balance of dried chillies, basil and the dried tomatoes for a bit of a kick. ¬†Although i wouldn’t call this traditional it was done well. ¬†I dare to say better than 90 percent of the ones i tasted in Bangkok. ¬†Good Job. ¬†Maybe a smaller portion with the same ingredients would have made this a 10. ¬†Let’s throw another curve ball to the chef with another annoying dish made so badly in many restaurants it’s a pity.

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Proudly created in Mexico

I doubt that alot of people know that it’s created in Mexico – Although the owner was Italian American but it’s not a traditional dish per se. A Caesar salad done well is a nother rarity. ¬†Usually it’s over dressed, or too little dressing – too sharp tasting – too watery. ¬†I think the perfect Caesar salad is right here. ¬†Salads need to be done right. ¬†Each leaf cleaned dried and coated with just the amount of dressing and served right away. ¬†Balance of saltiness – sharpness – creaminess i like a heavier hand of anchovies but this is a perfect salad.

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Fresh greens – Lightly dressed – Didn’t overpower the crab.

Lovely РTotally Ethereal feel.  The crab was light and tasted of the sea and not waterlogged which seems to be a big problem many times we had a crab salad.  Very well done. The rocket was fresh Рdressed and gave that not overpowering bitterness to compliment the crab. The dressing was a fruity lightness that really went well and made this dish a 10.

The raviolis came under a puffy cloud of milk foam. ¬†Well i presume it’s milk foam. ¬†The buttery taste felt like creamy savory warm milk shake. ¬†Fluffy and not dense and heavy. ¬†I like that there was a lot of stuffing and the spinach was well seasoned. ¬†Sometimes you get a spinach ravioli which is a watery yucky mess.

Finally on to the main course…..

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Best Sea Bass Ever!

Sea Bass is so plentiful in Thailand it became a boring fish. ¬†It’s everywhere. ¬†So again, let’s see how the chefs here made it amazing. ¬†Firstly Sea Bass is quite a delicate fish – You over cook it and it’s tough. ¬†At Whale’s Belly they made the skin so crispy like you can hear it popping between you teeth. ¬†Like you were eating a very thin pork belly in HK. ¬†Fluffy Ethereal crunch of dry crispiness deliciousness. ¬†The meat was not overcooked at all. ¬†The thin fillet was a yin yang of crispy and soft flakiness. ¬†I see the base creamy sauce here in alot of the dishes with a few tweaks to make the taste not boring so I think it’s not a crime that isn’t unforgiving. ¬†This is the best Sea Bass i had in a not Asian Way. ¬†it’s a 20/10 dish. ¬†I think the next time we come we’d have 10 of this.

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Intense Sweet Peppery Sauce combined with the smoothest potato puree…

Lamb Chops are everybody’s favorite dish. ¬†My mom in particular. ¬†She wont eat lamb any other way. ¬†It’s because stewed lamb has a tendency to become stringy and dry. ¬†I stopped making lamb stew at home cause she wont eat it. ¬†Period. ¬†To my surprise. ¬†This lamb shoulder was dense and moist enough not to be dry and stringy. ¬†IT was tender and delicate. ¬†Then the peppery, sweet rich sauce kicks in to flavour the dish. ¬†The black pepper has that bitter spiciness which can stand up to the strong flavour of the lamb. ¬†I’m not sure if the Chef learned the insane Potato Puree from Joel Robouchon – It was such a smooth light buttery heaven that just mixes with everything and takes it to another level. ¬†Maybe a danger to your heart but it would sure mend a broken one.

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Rolled Pickled Daikon – Wish there was more of it on the plate!

The Wagyu Cheek was alright – I think it was the superbness of all the dishes that made this poor Wagyu last. ¬†We actually ate in order – Fish, Beef and Lamb as to not overpower our palate. ¬†Poor Wagyu – The delicate pickled roll up daikon which cut so sweetly with a balanced sourness through the red wine sauce and the pull apart cheek shed a poor tear when he heard us discussing we like the other two dishes more. ¬†It wasn’t his fault poor thing – sometimes getting a 9.5/10 just isn’t enough.

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Complimentary Fresh Oysters – Check in and get 2! VERY GOOD!

With barely enough room for dessert the 3 of us managed 1 Brownie and 1 Affrogato. ¬†I like crusty brownies. ¬†I’m not a fan of oily rich brownie mixes that half of what you are eating is vegetable oil. ¬†I like dark rich crusty brownies which puts up a fight with the cold ice cream.

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Perfect Brownie Dessert

With sucha heavy meal i was hoping the espresso will wake me up.

It came in a cute little up with chocolately crumbs on top. ¬†The espresso was so rich rich rich. ¬†The ice cream did it’s best to soften the blow and you chomp your way through delicious balls of crunchy cookie / chocolately bits. ¬†It’s a dessert. ¬†Not a drink.

I would say for this price range it was one of the best tasting menus made to order meals i’d ever had. ¬†You can spend the same somewhere else and get a crappy pizza and half hearted pasta with rushed service. ¬†Are we coming again? ¬†Definitely. ¬†Will i spread the word around? I promise. ¬†Thank You Whale’s Belly for reminding me and Bangkok what 5 star service and a fine dining experience for a reasonable price looks like.

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*** Review is entirely from my point of view and we paid for our own food.

Whale’s Belly Restaurant & Bar

39 Boulevard Tower, 2nd floor, Sukhumvit Soi 39,

Sukhumvit Road | Boulevard Tower A, 

Bangkok 10110, Thailand

Hot Pot for the Soul…..Megan’s Kitchen

Megan’s Kitchen caught my eye many years ago when i stumbled across an article about a hot pot restaurant actually being in the Michelin Guide. Of course I asked my cousins in HK about it and all i got was posh posh and very expensive. ¬†I checked out their website and indeed it was very very expensive – it can run almost 80 – 200 HK dollars just for the soup base. ¬†Very expensive indeed even for HK pricing. ¬†6 years later working alone and no one to have lunch with i gave it a go. ¬†I went to the website to reserve a seat – and there was a special promotion – Lunch set for 148 dollars. ¬†Off i went….

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Choice of Japanese Miso, Malaysian Satay and Coriander & Salted Egg and I chose Winter Melon Soup

It was interesting that hotpot is a communal activity – Even if you had individual pots you almost never see people eat hotpot alone. ¬†I’m not surprised when the waiter asked me “How many Miss?” ¬†“For one?” ¬†Nothing bothered me as I settled for the Beef Hotpot Set with the Winter Melon and Yunan Ham broth. ¬†With the lunch set i suppose as it’s the bare minimum you wont¬†get much of the usual things you might get with the normal price – but i think it was good enough as it is. ¬†The condiment set came with Chillies, Spring Onion, Garlic, Shallots and their soy sauce. ¬†I asked for some vinegar – Chou which they gave me at no extra charge.

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Condiment Overload – Chillies-Garlic-Shallots-Sesame Seeds-YUM…

¬†I peeked at the other tables though and some people paid another 25 HKD for the big sauce condiment – I thought i saw OX sauce, fried shallots etc. ¬†I honestly believe you don’t need anything else as the broth was so good already. ¬†Eating for one gets you the luxury of being able to do as you please – I ordered the Shrimp Paste (Which was almost 70 HK Dollars – GASP) this is something you don’t get in thailand. ¬†Fresh beaten and flavored shrimp is pounded until it’s a sticky paste, when you drop in boiling broth it becomes sort of a misshapen meatball with non of the fake floury taste. ¬†It transforms into a soft, sticky chewy deliciousness.

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A giant Scoop gets you around 8 mouthfuls

In the set there was 2 meatballs and 2 wontons. ¬†I”m not really a boiled wonton person, i feel sometimes the wrapping is too thick and the filling is sad. ¬†I also have a mistrust with meatballs – Either you get rubbery icky borax filled bits of minced mystery meat or you hit the jackpot with something very good. ¬†The meatballs here is a delight – you can feel how fresh the beef is with a carrot filling. ¬†Usually meatballs come precooked which you jsut sort of reheat, these ones were fresh beef which were a bit bouncy and very juicy and with the carrot in the middle it was a surprise. ¬†However the wonton actually won the show. ¬†It was pieces of chopped beef with cheese. ¬†The wrapping was a perfect ratio to the meat. ¬†IT wasnt smushy but chewey and nicely dense. ¬†It was amazing!

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Lovely Chunks of meat in Cheese Sauce

The set itself was quite plentiful – The beef is nice marbled and not too thickly or thinly cut. ¬†It was amazing. ¬†I think it’s very important and I judge alot of these hot pot places by the thickness of the beef – It’s crutial to have extremely good thickness – Too thin and the beef has freezer burn, too thick and it’s too tough and chewy. ¬†You really can’t find problems with Megans Kitchen except for the fact that it’s expensive.

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Good Quality Beef РPerfect ration of fat to meat 

The set came with 3 different kinds of lettuces, 2¬†giant shitake mushrooms, 3 tomatoes, some Eringi Mushrooms, Rice noodles, the 6 slices of beef (Quite big sized slices) and 2 meatballs and 2 wontons. ¬†The soup is great it’s bubbly and always topped up by the nice staff. ¬†It’s really delicious and great for spending that lunch hour alone. ¬†It’s a treat noone should miss…. ¬†(Theres a 12 HKD for the tea and a 10 percent service charge.

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Megans Kitchen

5th Floor Lucky Centre –

Wan Chai Road

Hongkong

MALA Hotpot – A plethora combination of addictive deathly ingredients…

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A duo of soups – Spicy and Calm…

What is a Mala hotpot you may ask.  It is a deathly delicious combination of bubbling stock, oil fried with Szechuan Peppercorns, dried chilies, garlic, Chinese bean paste, dried jujubes, and a mix of other herbs and spices.  Each restaurant blends their own special recipe or they just use a ready mix.  This is my favorite style of hotpot, usually you would get a half and half which you can numb and burn yourself on the spicy mala side and cool down with the normal stock.  I believe that in the olden days this was used to help mask not so appetizing smells from using the cheaper cuts of meat.

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Hand cut shank is tender and melting

This restaurant is a gem hidden in on of the off sois located in Silom called Boon restaurant. ¬†We ordered just enough for two and it was a great way to cure a hangover…. Amazingly the fishballs had a soft chewy texture, not too fishy and went well with this spicy oil.

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Watercress, Taro and Fishballs

Taro is usually flash fried to help keep it’s shape in the bubbling broth. ¬†Personally i like to mash the taro in my soup. ¬†It gives it a creamy texture to the soup. A creamy spicy, hot and numbing mouthful of soup.

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Pig’s small intestines – Gross but delicious

It may look gross but it’s got a chewy, porky flavor that is either a favorite or you can’t stand the look of it at all.

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Lightly Battered Squid – Garlicky, Spicy – Very delicious!

Hard to understand why this battered squid works so well.  Its lightly crispy, spicy when chewed with the Chilies, extremely garlicky and just so soft and perfectly chewy.  No calamari can beat this dish.

This restaurant doesn’t rank high is nice atmosphere, clean bathrooms and smiling service. ¬†It’s a no frills, inexpensive family styled restaurant – the menu has pictures!!!!! ¬†Drop by for a good time.

Boon Pochana, 152/8-9, Silom Rd.,

Bangkok, 10500 Thailand

Best Seafood in Moscow – Arbat Street

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Interior of restaurant

Walking along Arbat Street we stumbled across a little sign that showed a cute crab – After 15 days in Russia we were quite sick of meat and the three of us trotted down the stairs to the second level to have a “crab” seafood dinner. ¬†This little restaurant had about 15 tables – seats maybe 50 – 70 people comfortably – clean bathrooms and very friendly service with English Menus. ¬†They specialize in Seafood – Prawns – Oysters – Crabs.

 

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Oysters – Fresh – Briny – Delicious

Pricing isn’t bad at all – The seafood is served in a cold platter but depends on which platter you pick – The prawns arrive hot – get the Russian ones they are big with plump Roe! – The whelk with potatoes is delicious and arrives hot, the scallops are a bit small but hot and tasty – well seasoned – the mussles are excellent and arrive piping hot and a generous amount. ¬†We went there 2 times – First time ¬†we got the platter to share for three people maybe it’s because we are asian or we just eat little and we couldn’t finish it.

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Piping Hot & Delicious Russian Prawns

Second time we ordered ala carte which turned out to be more expensive with less food so get the platter!  Giant Crabs are very expensive in Thailand which can go for over 1000 roubles for 1 piece in the supermarket and here it was about 1800 roubles for a whole plate.

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In many high end restaurants they serve these giant crab legs but are salty – over here its very meaty and not salty at all. ¬†I’m most impressed however with the prawns – the roe is bright and very plump and very delicious – you can taste the sea with every bite.

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Plump Roe

The have a few choices for soup, on the first visit we have the bisque which was ok but not something to order again.  However on our second trip we ordered the milk crab soup and it was absolutely delicious.  Milky, creamy crabby with a hint of spice.  It was very very good.

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Very very good!

We also ordered the little prawns that arrived in a small metal bucket.  It was the same as those you get in the platter so i definitely recommend getting the platter as it is alot cheaper.

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Refreshing and delicious in a strange way.

They recommended us a drink / lemonade – cucumber, mint concoction was just refreshing and actually really nice. ¬†We had 3 jugs as it wasn’t overly sweet and somehow the got the balance right with the cucumber lemonade and basil. ¬†Great way to balance the meal.

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Get a nice 5 percent discout!

Upload pictures on instragram and you get a 5 percent discount. ¬†Which you can go with their free wifi. ¬†Their servers are very friendly and very nice even with limited english. ¬†It’s rare to fins such nice servers in Russia in my opinion and they really went the extra mile to help out. ¬†Definitely one of the best places to come. ¬†It’s located around the middle of Arbat street, next to a Kid’s restaurant. ¬†There’s only 1 seafood restaurant that i saw in Arbat street so not hard to find.

 

Simple Eats – Luang Prabang

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Known in Thai as Khao Jii

Working in Luang Prabang a few weeks ago gave me ample time to taste and try the local laotian food native to Luang Prabang. ¬†I felt that it was a melting pot of Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese and French Cuisines. ¬†I think the Mekhong River helped spread the tradition around this area. ¬†My friends told me that Vientiane cuisine is different to that of Luang Prabang, i guess we will have to wait and see. ¬†Khao Jii or grilled sticky rice patty with brushed beaten egg and fish sauce is one of my absolute favorites. ¬†It’s soft gooey insides with a savory salty crunchy bite coating. ¬†The best part is that it’s offered slathered in a chilli paste, now many chilli pastes in Thailand is a sweet concoction which i’m not in favor off. ¬†This is torpedo spicy. ¬†Served on a banana leaf for 10 baht it was delicious.

At the walking street a cheerful food stall opened for business around 5 pm. ¬†It’s the biggest stall at the beginning of the market (You cannot miss it) ¬†selling Pho, Khao Soy and Noodles etc. ¬†In Thailand Khao Soi is a Thick, creamy curry more islamic influenced with egg noodles and crispy egg noodles on top. ¬†In Luang Prabang Khao Soi is a bean paste / tomatoeish / pork rib soup with noodles which is similiar to that of Chiang Mai’s Naam Ngeo which is similiar except we use fresh rice round noodles or flat wide noodles. ¬†Usually served with fresh veggies, lime and spicy chilli paste it is one of my absolute favorites. ¬†In Thailand we see it boiling in pots, but at this stall as they are serving so many varieties of noodles it seems like they only have 2 pots – one for boiling noodles and veggies and one for the stock. ¬†So they have containers of pork ribs with the bean paste / tomato mixture and they mix with the stock.

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The hanging crispy things are not pork rind but buffalo rinds.  Light airy and delish!

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Fresh Veggie Basket.  Yum.

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Khao Soi – Luang Prabang Style

You choose your noodles, tear your garden herbs and veggies, squeeze some limes and dump crazy amounts of chillis and dig in.  It was around 80 baht which i thought was quite expensive for street food, but again this is Luang Prabang.

My fondness for Khao Soi is great as i had 4 bowls of if at different places. ¬†This place seemed like a local restaurant – although there is no such thing because locals eat at home. They have Shrimp paste on the table complimentary eaten with fresh vegetables. ¬†Thai use it to make a dip but the locals here eat it straight with fresh vegetables. ¬†Quite lovely as i’m used to th epungent smell.

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Khao Soi at a local restaurant

Note that they all serve this noodle soup with fresh mint, limes and lettuce.  Really hearty and savory from the bean paste which is total different from miso which has a different feeling of saltiness to it.  The contrast with the tomatoish broth makes it a fresh sourness to it.

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This place serves their Khao Soi with Pork Rinds inside.  Broth was very savory.

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Plump Rice Grains – Soft and Hot

I have always preferred sticky rice over steamed rice i think its got a good texture and just feels more right.  The sticky rice at this roadside restaurant (only 4 tables) is nicely steamed.  Not tough when cooled.  Still soft and chewy.

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Sai Oua – Pork Sausage

The pork sausage is much blander than the ones in Northern Thailand but quite crispy casing, and juicy insides.  I feel that Laotian cuisine really relies on the tastes of the ingredients and not too much flavoring.  It will be considered bland for Thai tastes who which are so used to so much flavoring.

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Laotian Papaya Salad

Som Tam or papaya salad is one of my childhood favorites. ¬†In Thailand the papaya is shaved in to small strands, in Luang Prabang it’s sliced and wide. ¬†I like it because it had a nice texture and mouthfeel to it although the taste of the pradaek – fermented anchovies is not as strong as the ones in Thailand i feel. ¬†They also have the addition of kapi – shrimp paste in their papaya salad. ¬†I think it’s a taste that everyone can enjoy, a balance of sweet, savory, sour and spicy. ¬†A well rounded dish, although i prefer extreme spicy and sour som tam.

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Naem – Fermented Pork Sausage

This is seriously to die for. ¬†My whole team is still drooling for the grilled fermented pork sausage. ¬†Hands down. ¬†I have never had this good of a Naem before. ¬†I usually dislike cooked Naem I prefer it still raw. ¬†But this. ¬†It’s juicy, slightly sour, very savory and the right balance of the pork rind to provide that teeth resistance when you bite into it. ¬†Chew it¬†together¬†with a chilli and pop a hot sticky rice ball in your mouth. ¬†It’s worth swiping your card, getting on air asia just for this Naem. ¬†It’s been 3 weeks and everyone in the office is still dreaming¬†and talking about this fresh fermented Porky Heaven.