My knowledge of Szechuan Cuisine or Sichuan Food is actually limited to Ma La Hot Pot, the bubbling stock with hot oil, szechuan peppercorns, garlic, five spice ingredients and extreme amount of dried chillies. It is actually my favorite type of hot pot. Going to a szechuan restaurant was interested or so i thought. Would it actually be the same approach? All food just topped with the spicy oil / spices? I was in for a treat.
Organ meat is a very chinese thing, we eat everything. Most likely it’s a waste not mentality. If i’m not istaken this is the stomach from a cow. It’s got a chewy crispyish texture more than any taste actually but the spicy garlicy oil made it a nice appetizer to whet your appetite before the fire starts. I appreciated the green cirpsy and watery thin celery stalk to help add some coolness to my poor tongue.
This was not spicy at all, i think it was great over piping hot rice. I’m not entirely sure how they made that sauce but it was more sesame in taste, i’m sure there’s ginger in there somewhere. I understand it looks oily but it doesn’t feel too oily, it doesn’t coat your tongue like when you chew on a blob of butter or margarine. It seems to melt away leaving this comforting taste. Really good. Too salty to eat alone although i preferred it with some rice.
In Thailand food we usually stir fry cabage with fish sauce, over thre it’s oyster sauce i presume with a few dried chillies thrown in for good measure. Done correctly cabbage shouldn’t soggy but with a nice crisp texture and juicy freshness. This helped balace out all the rich meats so far.
My absolute favorite is the Ma La spices, this arrived smoking hot and you can actually feel the dried chillies sizzling in the hot oil. It’s probably palm oil, with dried chillies, garlic, szechuan peppercorns and other crazy goodness. There is a thick vermicelli noodle which is sticky and chewy in texture and sliced beef. It was a bomb of chillies, numbness and savory saltiness in every bite. The beef was tender and the soup underneath was quite delicious. However you do have to sort your way through the pool of oil. People may cringe at the amount of oil, but i’m actually ok, it’s not like we eat this every single day.
Now this is everyone’s favorite, the MAPO TOFU. You see in japanese restaurants but you dont really find it in every chinese restaurant. Chinese food is quite vast with different regions serving totally different food. This was like bolder MA LA crazy version, it was so spicy, a hint of sweet with a bit of minced prok thrown in for good measure. It was so delicious over piping hot rice. You can’t really eat it on it’s own, it starts to burn after the third bite.
This potato dish arrived and i though it was just short strands of spaghetti stir fried. To my amazement it was round strands of potato, stir fried. Its so hard to explain, it was mushy, but it was al dente but not under cooked. It was salty, savory, not too oily. It was very interesting. It was the highlight of the night, it seemed so normal but the taste and texture was just so interesting and delicious. I must find out how they cooked this dish.
Szechuan cuisine is really more than just the hot pot but i do believe it’s an acquired taste, it’s very different from my day to day chinese food but it’s a great lift to a cold gloomy day washed with some cold beer. Definitely for people who love spice, and dont mind a bit of oiliness. Only warning is for your stomach and it’s a scary addiction.
A short trip for work took me to Hamburg and looking around the internet i stumbled upon Haerlin a 2 star Michelin Restaurant which was widely applauded for the smart and creative use of local ingredients which are in season and the interesting fuse with other exotic ingredients. The price was 185 euros for a tasting menu which was roughly my allowance for this trip but eating alone & early got me a small table in the corner.
The restaurant had a nice ambiance, a quiet elegance and decor. It reeks of luxury but in an understated not in your face way. The staff was friendly and seemed to have a genuine attitude to want to serve. There is no snobbery here which ranks high in my book.
While perusing the tasting menu choices i ordered a pre drink as a refreshing drink to wake me up. The 14 hr flight left me quite jet lagged and sleepy.
I already decided to choose the 11 courses but i was surprised that the smaller tasting menu wasn’t like the usual same menus with some items missing. The dishes were completely different aside from the 3 amuse buche that is compliments of the chef and the complimentary “Forest Dessert” I was tempted but i held my ground i wanted to taste the most of this awesome chance!
The Guinea Fowl green ball was a sharp and sour hit of a tangy and sweetness that came from the cranberry cream. It was a very great mouthful and a extraordinary delicate balance of savory, spicy herby feel with a contrasting sweet sour. The “cracker” was actually a thin extremely light, flaky if I can describe it like that was actually the skin. It was a great combination of textures which will follow consistently throughout the meal.
One of the cuter looking waiters wheeled over a chest of drawers which revealed rows and rows of delicious looking bread. I can’t remember all of them but i chose the cumin and the bacon. It came with 2 spreads a creamy greeny herby butter and a sourkraut cream cheese sort of dip. Both were rich, creamy, salty and the cream cheese one was a bit sour. Nice contrast.
This smoked eel pannacotta was a creamy cold and smokey taste it was a soft smooth soft tofu mouthfeel. Delicious. The watercress vinaigrette was a greeny veggie sour contrast. My second spoon was the jerusalem artichoke ice cream with a woody earthy tasting jerusalem artichoke chips which was a cold creamy with a crunchy texture. A strong kick of the capers came through a sharp salty lighty sour cut through the creamy woody earthy flavours. The smoked eel was a firm texture not the usual mushy ones we eat on a sushi. The red thing on top was crispy yet sour and sweet at the same time like an unripe raw cherry. It was such an interesting play on flavours. Really. Heaven!
My third compliments of the chef amuse bouche was seemingly a lightly grilled hamachi with seaweed and mini mushrooms scattered around the dish. A note: Hamachi is a fish from the family of the sting mackerel and usually eaten raw in Sashimi or as Sushi. With the first bite the bergamot hits you with with light refreshing fragrance with a creamy ricy crispy texture. The dashi broth was quite strong with a mushroom flavour, not salty but you feel this intense unami feeling. The hamachi was very fresh, seared on thebottom and still raw on top, it was a sweet and clean tasting. I think the pickled cabbage didn’t belong because the dish was already so strong in taste and I thought the spring onion was quite strong. But it was still a 9.5 over 10 kind of dish. Thoughtful and carefully prepared. I’m loving this Chef already!
I love Goose liver. It’s one of my favorite things. Foie Gras. Fat. Heart Attack in a mouthful. At first glance i was overjoyed with so may components on the dish. More Goose Liver for me! It was like some adorable abstract painting with a variety of shapes and colors and textures to the naked eye. I went first for the lolly like one and swirled it around in the ground hazelnuts and in one slow mouthful i savored the gamey rich flavour. The crunch of the hazelnuts and the apple jamy taste help bring out the flavour in each other. The terrine gave me a surprise. I expected the same tasting liver served 3 – 4 ways but it tasted different. The terrine was a softer delicate tasting liver with this time a sharp apple and nutty combination. Apple cabbage apparently is a regional product here. Yum. Yum. Yum. Died and Gone to Liver heaven! The thing was it all tasted different. I really was. A M A Z I N G!
The meringue like foam just melted in my mouth and there was an apple balsamic in the center like a surprise when you chewed on the tartlet it felt like this rich soft alcoholic goodness in one bite. . The Cox orange was a cold sharp refreshment to all the richness which cleansed the palate with it’s smokey flavor and i scooped up the hazelnut cream with the rolled up apple slice. It was great showcase of techniques, texture and flavours. Soooo Good.
Right now the jet lag was hitting me quite hard and i was sleepy sleepy but it was so good i couldn’t stop and i willed myself to stay awake and record all the beautiful yummy goodness. The bread was so good and I had to stop or I would have been too full! I dove instantly into the tartare which was fresh and firm chunks of meat which came with the crispy veggies for crunch and texture. The onion cream and pickled onion was the sourness which is a good change from usual lime or lemon in a tartare. The foamy thing was a concentrated lobster bisque in a bubbly airy mouthful. The lobster tail was fresh and a great texture firm chunks of meat not at all salty and water logged. The weird tamarind blobs helped give an asian feel to the dish i’m not a fan and the veggies were good but the lobster already stole the show. I’m a fan of those dried chippy things if you see in the picture this one was a green horseradish chip. I once read that some people made a puree and dehydrated them in sheets. Too much trouble for me but it was crispy thin and really biting in a mouthful.
The cheese cart looked really decadent with such an array of interesting and wide variety of different cheeses. I think it makes a cheese lover like a kid in a candy store, it didn’t look like your usual boring normal cheeses i liked the many types of mold i see on the cheese etc. Sounds eeky doesn’t it?
In a room rightnext to the dining room was a nice sitting room which doubled as a private smoking lounge probably for cigars and after dinner brandies. So luxurious!
They take their drinks seriously! Cognacs and other strange drinks i’m not very aware off.
This lovely looking dish is Skrei with chestnut cream, celery and peppered quince compote. According to the description is skrei roasted in brown butter, chestnut cream seasoned with hazelnut oil. A celery foam with green celery vegetable with a quince compote with Tasmanian pepper. Garnished with a small chestnut salad and chives oil with black winter truffle strips. OMG. I was full just reading the description.
The fish was firm with a crispy sear on top, the chestnut cream was very rich almost smokey taste. It’s a nice balalnce with the crunchy fish, smokey chestnut and the fresh sour and sweet from the quince and celery. The foamy extra was just an extra interesting component which rounded out the dish. Perfect. Really.
The crispy pork belly was so delicious and perfectly cooked, the light and thin crispy belly paired very well with the burnt pear and after the initial top you can squich the pork belly with your tong, that was how soft it was. My absolute favorite was the ridge part, i think it’s a thicker part of the skin which made it soo soo hard and crispy and with the gridlines scoring made it very delicious. You can hear it smash between your teeth. I liked the wine sauce which wasn’t so evident but it provided a background for all the flavours to mesh together, the button mushroom foam and chip was just som eof the playful elements i see in the dish. I was actually too full and sleepy to finish my lentils which had a good taste and texture.
A very pretty dish to look at, perfectly cooked lamb ridge with a crispy fat strip. Soft not chewy or any lamby gamey smell at all. The red shallots and wime compote added a sharp flavour to the dish. The braised lamb belly was so so soft which the light cumin background with the indian cous cous helped with both the texture and flavours. It was a perfect balalnce of europe and indian flavours. The argan oil buttery hollandaise had a soft flowery depth to it with strangely meshed well with everything in the dish.
Finally to reach dessert was almost a relief. Although this is one of the best meals of my life i was too sleepy now to want to stay much longer. And when the dessert was called Forest I had strange pictures in my mind.
Honestly the description sounded gross to me, buckwheat cream with carmelised buckwheat and apple jelly. Douglas fir cream and spruces oil forest caramel chip and yarrow with apple granite. First it looked like a mini terrarium which was very impresive but should taste good from any angle. It smelt green like a swamp or forest or fresh rain on grass but somehow the buckwheat cream has a light chocolatey flavour meshed with a nutty taste. The apple granita was shape and sour and cold but it went so well together. It’s so so strange. The root like thing on top was crispy and chewy at the same time. There were little crispy pearls of something not sure what it was, and again perfectly demonstrated was the balance of cold, creamy, nutty, sour soft and light.
Again weird weird combination, the candied shiso leaves which was a licoricey taste and white chocolate worked extremely well. It somehow complemented each other, the weird rocks or stones elements which is a sesame nutty flavour and the rich creamy sweet white chocolate was a beautiful balance of textures and flavours.It was just so surprising that all the elements balanced each other so perfectly and so well. Not to mention it’s such a beautiful dish.
This two small piping hot churro lookalike arrived before my bill. It’s got like a lime rind and sugar coating. It was light, fluffy delicate hot and crispy. It was the best churro if you can call it that in my life!!!
I’m not surprised Executive Chef Christoph Rüffe got his stars plus a whole bunch of other awards and one of the best chefs and best restaurants in Hamburg. He combined ingredients that other people did not do, executed a balance of texture and mouthfeel made you gasp with wonder with the mix of flavours perfectly.
He really is one of the best chefs of this generation. PERIOD. A total of 230 Euros including tip is the best money i spent on a meal. Seriously.
Tsimsha Sui is always one of my favorite spots in HK. There’s lots of things to see and do, and of course Mong Kok. There’s cheapo things among the more prestige labels, cheap eats mixed with the affordable and the luxury delicacies. On our trip we went to Chee Kei which is quite well known franchise in HK with i think a few shops around Hong Kong and Kowloon side.
Hot strong tea is served while waiting for your mains to arrive.
The funny thing is they are famous for crab congee and wontons but I always order plain congee and the pork leg. Although we ordered the wonton this time. In Hong Kong the norm here for veggies are boiled and served with a side of oyster sauce. In Thailand, vegetables are always stir fried with some sort of sauce, the only naked veggies are salads. And then Thais plop dressing on top.
The wontons came in a steaming piping hot claypot, it was shrimp wontons with pork broth or soup. Not too salty and quite savory, a good porkiness. The wonton wrapper was not over cooked like most shops so when they are sitting around for a long time. This is a firm, chewy lovely consitency. The Shrimp mixture was a good mouthful with chunks of shrimp. Good. It’s a nice professional homey feel to it. I like mine witha spash of vinegar and chilli paste.
For those in the know, XO sauce isn’t sauce with congnac, I’m not sure exactly where the real origins are but every seafood restaurant has their own recipe or like amazing traditonal housewives. It’s made of according to recipie, the black ham, conpoy or the dried scallops, dried shrimps, oil, chillies and garlic.
Hong Kong Congee I think is the reigning King of all rice porridge dishes. The rice is a silky, creamy thick delicate thick soup. I can’t replicate the taste, i’m not sure why but it’s just not the same which is why every trip back to HK is a treat. This time we ordered the fish which has raw slices of fish in our boiling congee, it’s cooked within seconds!
Yummy and not at all oily. Usually the feet part isn’t fatty, if you go up the leg then it gets more fatty and less meaty kind of. This is stwed until soft but has a firm texture, a soft delicate taste with the turnip. I like the balance of flavours, sometimes the 5 spice blend is too harsh and it covers up everything else. I think that is for people who like a dark sauce.
For a normal lunch or dinner 200 HK bucks is quite steep, still affordable but a bit pricey since cha cha teng or side stalls are like 30 – 40 bucks a bowl but it’s nice to order from an english menu and eat in a nice surrounding. So i recommend this for an affordable cheerful eats in HK.
It does help when you walk along the street and a friendly looking fellow beckons you into a simple looking side street cafe/restaurant with cheap and cheerful looking tables. How much can it cost?
You also feel good when you see the clean restaurant and the numerous clippings and celebs plastered on the wall and a sigh of relief when the menu is in english. Now rewind, we were walking back from ST Pauls to our Royal hotel when we passed this place and decided to have dinner.
If i remember correctly they seem to make their own curry blend, their chilli sauce and their handmade egg noodles beaten or dried on bamboo mats like how people used to do it traditionally before.
When we got back, we found out the reason for the outrageous pricing is because apparently they were mentioned in the Michelin Guide book so that’s why their pricing went cray cray.
The table setting was simple, but yet clean and has everything you need, plastic gloves, crab claw crusher?
We ordered simple stir fried iceberg lettuce which must be cooked really quickly or else it’s too wilted and looses all crunchiness and will be just wilted lettuce leaves. This was juicy, crunchy, delicious real skill!
The pork bone soup was simple, with carrots. It was porky, savoury with a hint of carrot sweetness. I didn’t taste any other ingredients, maybe some peanuts but i feel that soup in HK, China & Macau seem to have this depth of flavor that i can’t copy in Bangkok. No matter what type of bones i use. I must find out!
The fried sardines or mackerel was not at all greasy of floury. It was light, crispy, crunchy, garlicky and if you chew on the chilli pepper it gives it a kick of spicy hot hot hot!
This type of curry crab is vastly different from what you get in thailand, their curry sauce is more coconutty, delicate sweetness. Thailand has a more eggy scrambled egg texture feeling with more spicy oil and let’s say a more rough tasting palate. This was delicate, creamy a more tender feeling curry crab. It’s like a ballet vs rock. Nice to have a balance of both in curry crab once in a while.
Note the size of the mud crab, it filled that gigantic bowl. Now in the menu it just said market price, which is why we didn’t expect all our allowance to be gone into one single dish. There was another table next to us with 8 people and they ordered one to share which is enough to go around. We had to force our party of 3 to finish it once we found out the price. really. Look at the bill. We didn’t try to congee or the egg noodles which is supposedly the star of this restaurant however as a splurge come. Really do not miss this restaurant. It’s clean, it has english menu, and the people are nice and friendly. Just dont order this dish if you come less than 5 people or unless you’re rich. Or you really want to.
Wong Kun Sio Kung
G/F, 310A R. do Campo, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Ph: (853) 2837 2248
During our work in Northern Thai province of Chiang Rai last month, we had some time to sample the local delicacies. Now for those not familiar with Chiang Rai, it is the northen most part of Thailand if I’m not mistaken bordering Laos and Burma commonly known as the Golden Triangle before a high influence on the trade of opium. Now it’s a great tourist attraction for those who like nature since Chiang Rai is still quite quiet and peaceful. With being so close to many other countries I think the food is largely influenced as well. There is quite an Muslim population here which is why many spices not normally seen in Traditional Thai Cooking plays a huge role here.
The usual laarb or minced por, chicken or beef yam or thai salad is usually, fish sauce, lime, int, roasted rice, shallots, spring onions, thai basil and chillies. It’s spicy and fresh and sour. However the Northern Larb is more heavy on the non traditional spices, i think cumin, saltier not sour version. I feel it’s a more dry and meatier version. I’m not sure of all the spices but it feels more indianish than thai.
The Sai Oua or northern thai sausage is not different, the meats and pork fats are chunkier and loosely packed not minced sasages like we are used too. I’m sure there is cumin or tumeric present in here, chunks of lemongrass, thai basil, chillies and other herbs. It’s hot, meaty and very very flavorful. You can taste all the spices, saltiness, porkiness of the entire mouthful. It’s fantastic served with sticky rice and some side veggies. Not to be missed when travelling there!
Located near our new office on Pridi Road, Phrakanong is an old old shop selling clear broth noodles with either morning glory or mung bean spouts. It doesn’t look appealing probably for caucasians but this shop has been making their own fish balls, wontons and egg noodles for many many years, kind of a fusion between chinese and thai tastes. It costs about 50 baht for a bowl of noodles, not cheap but rather filling and delicious.
As you can see their cooking station, they have all the types of noodles on show in the glass showcase, from “sen lek” thinnish rice noodles, “sen mee” round super thin rice noodles, “sen yai” wide ride noodles and egg noodles or “bamee”. You choose your noodles and your toppings which comes with a choice of fish balls, Ue Guay which is Fish Paste in a long tube with some spring onions and fried and then sliced, crispy wontons, fried taro sticks in a mound shape, spring rolls and little prawn wontons and shrimp balls. I’m not a bean sprout fan so i always ask for other green vegetables instead. In all those bowls of condiments that you see, there are salt, sugar, pepper, garlic oil, spring onions, preserved vegetables, msg (most likely) and the pinkish thing is called Yen Ta Fo which is a fermented bean paste which makes your soup pink and has a sweet beany tofuish taste.
Again it’s a rarity you can’t find these toppings anymore in Bangkok, I’m sure there are some left but i dont know where they are. Fish balls are common but all these other toppings are special and must be tasted when you are in Bangkok!
It’s easier to see the noodles without the soup or broth on top so we ordered it separately. The fish balls was delicious, the spring rolls crispy and the moo daeng or red sauced roasted pork has a nice texture to it. really Yummy, and all for 50 baht or less than 2 USD!
Pridi – Near Gas Station. You can park at the gas station for 20 baht.
During our last quick trip to Hong Kong for a passport renewal, we had a quick dinner with relatives and being in Hong Kong it’s a must to have a family get together hotpot meal. For those not in the know, Hot Pot is a pot of bubbling stock, where you dip your raw meats and veggies into cook and then eat. Before we only had plain vegetable broth or pork broth, nowadays there’s curry, satay, ox tail soup, herbs, traditional Ma La or the sezhuan peppercorns super spicy broth, you name it they have it.
This particular hot pot i think it’s either called the Little Fat Cow or smiling Cow i’m not so sure but it’s near the Wan Chai Fire Station on the 3rd floor. My absolute favorite thing is the octopus meatballs, it comes in a large scoop with fish roe on top you spoon a bit of the mixture and when it starts to float it’s done. It really is an acquired taste, it’s a chewy rubbery squidy meatball. It’s not available in Thailand so it’s a treat every time we go back to HK.
Doesn’t the pork belly look nice? It comes rolled up and looks like a mini flower peaking out of the bowl, and another of my favorites is the fried tofu sheets. It’s fluffy, light and crispy. A quick quick dip in the hot bubbling broth and you chew it quick before it gets soggy.
Normal soft soybean tofu but still good.
I must say given their quite medium high pricing, the shrimp came beautifully cleaned and separated into heads and bodies. Good for me cause i love shrimp heads.
Fresh veggies and pork wontons, sometimes wonton comes in a yellow noodle wrap but these ones are more leaning to those gyoza type wrapping like the Japanese kind.
The highlight of this meal was the splurge on a plate of Angus beef. It was probably 200 HK dollars but it was melt in the mouth, a real beefy flavor and a great soft chew. It was delicious!
We also ordered fried chicken joints, nice piping hot, crispy salty and garlicky. Maybe the savoury taste came from the MSG. – -”
And again as with all hotpots, we enjoy the meats and veggies and either we pour in rice or a type of noodles to soak up all the yummy broth. This time we had this really delicious chewy udon.
So if anyone who can read chinese please let me know what is the shops name.
1st Floor, 141-145 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai Heng Center
Khao Soi is usually served with a side of lime for squeezing and vegetable relish, this rich coconut curry egg noodles is served with beef or chicken, bean sprouts and spring onions with crispy fried egg noodles on top for that crunch. It’s a savory meaty, creamy dish best served with lots of freshly squeezed limes and dried chillies. It’s a rate Thai dish that combines all aspects of Thai ,Chinese and Islam heritage together. No one knows exactly how the dish came about but it originated from Northern Thailand, supposedly from the border of Myanmar and Chiang Rai. There are dominant Chinese and Islam heritage in this dish, I also heard from the locals it was a Burmese Chinese Muslim family who emigrated to Thailand and created a dish with all the local influences. I’m sure this dish must be from Islamic creators since I’ve never seen this dish available in pork, only beef and chicken as well as usually they sellers are often Muslim.
It’s a must try if you venture into the the Northern part of Thailand, (ranges from 40 – 60 baht depending on the amount of Chicken and Beef) and dont forget to add the spicy chilies and fresh limes and cool it down with a nice herbal lemongrass drink!
It’s a really nice Italian tradition to havae pre dinner snacks and drinks. I think it’s the laid back attitude of people to relax after a tough day unwind before enjoying dinner. I was walking aimlessly past Piazza Castello and on PO Street when i passed a few shops with people were sitting chilling with a drink and what appears to be like a sandwich tray in front of them. Some shops had more elaborate displays and some looked simpler so i plopped myself down and asked for an aperitivo.
The waiter very kind and friendly suggested a local vermouth which was delicious. It was citrusy and had a nice aniseedy refreshing flavor, it wasn’t too heavy and it wasn’t sweet it was just right. The mini bites was just the right mouthful with a variety of simple toppings, tomatoes, roasted veggies, hams, porchetta and roasted onion. I think it was around 7 or 10 euros for the drink and mini bites. It’s really good, the slow life in Italy.
2 Months ago at the Milan Expo, it was rather hot and i walked past a curious looking stall. Upon a closer look it was a display of various toppings and there was quite a que.
So what you do is you pay at the counter if my memory serves me right it was 5 Euros, and we can choose between white, milk or dark chocolate and they dip your choice of magnum flavor into the bubbling chocolate. Then you choose from the dozens of toppings. Nuts, marshmallows, sprinkles, cookies, brownies, you name it they got it! I think it’s a very good concept, but people will probably try it once since 5 Euros for an icream bar is a bit pricey though its a great experience!