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Asian

We have neglected this space for too long! One of our best friends asked us why we have not been updating the blog, and I replied to say that it was hard to beat the number of views we got for our last gastrographic post! Since then, we have had crossed some major milestones. For one, I (Gloria) moved to London last year and we also got married in January this year! In the last year we have been trying out new places to eat in London and will try to post more as we go along. For a (new) start, here’s a little gem of a place that our friend, Bel, brought us to.

Xi’an Impressions
117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW
+44 020 3441 0191
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11.30 am – 10.00 pm

Xi’an Impressions is a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant close to Highbury & Islington train station, directly across the road from the Emirates Stadium, which specialises in traditional Chinese street style cooking. It looks a little dodgy from the outside and you wouldn’t expect any difficulty getting a seat. We were so wrong! We have visited twice, and everything we ordered did not disappoint. I recommend going early because some of the most popular dishes get sold out really quickly. The hand pulled noodles, cold noodles, and Chinese burgers are the restaurant’s top selling dishes. Our two favourite dishes have got to be their Ginger Chicken and Xinjiang stir-fried chicken dish.

Boneless Chicken in Ginger SauceFullSizeRender-5

Please let us know what you think if you do ever have a chance to visit this place. See you all soon!

Thailand is a wonderful place. The people are mostly friendly, the food absolutely gorgeous and the country’s signature Iced Tea is one heckuva thirst quencher. We popped into Bangkok for a city trip from Singapore with not much of a plan and just a vague idea of what we wanted to accomplish. Glen wanted Thai food (principally mango glutinous rice), I wanted the Tom Yum Goong and shopping, and collectively we were in it for the foot massages. The shopping was a disappointment, but the foot massages and the food more than made up for it.

Most meals consisted of the same principal dishes – Tom Yum Goong (spicy and sour seafood soup), green curry and basil leaf minced meat. As and when they were available, we augmented them with egg omelette, papaya salad and fish cakes. In signature Thai fashion, most dishes start sweet and end with a spicy and savoury kick – a combination which is the darling of fusion cuisine the world over.  The food was all excellent, but Glen and I disagreed about which restaurant we liked the most. I liked the Tom Yum Goong at Ban Khun Mae, a thinner soup with a spicier end note, but the best Thai I’ve had so far still has to be Yhingthai Palace at Purvis Street in Singapore. Glen liked the offerings at Lemongrass, a thirty year old stalwart just off Sukhumvit Road which served up a meatier and less spicy seafood broth. Lemongrass also does a wicked egg omelette, slightly crispy on the outside with a generous packet of pork belly tucked within like a porcine love letter.

Lemongrass Restaurant
Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Toei
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
+66 2 258 8637
11:00 am – 2:00 pm, 6:00–11:30 pm

A meatier Tom Yum Goong – chockful of herbs and gritty prawn stock
Lemongrass_Tom Yum Goong

Egg omelette and pork bellyLemongrass_Fried Egg and Pork Omelette

I suppose you can’t go wrong with a bowl of Thai green curryLemongrass_Thai Green Curry

Basil leaves fried with minced meat – as classic as it getsLemongrass_Basil Fried Minced Pork

Thai fish cakesLemon Grass_Fish Cake

Baan Khun Mae
458/6-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Road,
Patumwan District, Bangkok 10330
Tel. (662)250-1952-3, (662)658-4112-3

Banana leaf fried chicken slicesBan Khun Mae_Banana Leaf ChickenTom Yum, again. Can’t get enough of that sweet and spicy elixir.Ban Khun Mae_Tom Yum GoongPapaya Salad: Som TumBan Khun Mae_Glass noodle saladGreen CurryBan Khun Mae_Green Curry

T&K Seafood Restaurant
49-51 Soi Phadung Dao
Chinatown, Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok Chinatown is special sort of place, with restaurants and shops open till late. We wouldn’t recommend T&K Restaurant solely on the food, but we found sitting around a floppy aluminium table along the side of the road a rather enjoyable experience. Chinatown’s well worth a walk around, if only just to peer into the sundry shops and browse the collection of weird, wonderful, and oft-unrecognisable things packed into ubiquitous plastic bottles sealed with red caps.

T&K restaurant, with green chairs, opposite the street from their rabid competitors, Lek & RutBangkok Yaowaraj_T&K Seafood Sit by the road and enjoy the hustle and bustle of Chinatown at nightBangkok Yaowaraj_T&K Seafood Can’t say the food blew us awayBangkok Yaowaraj_T&K Seafood Fried Glass Noodles with Basil and CrabBangkok Yaowaraj_T&K Seafood

Greyhound Cafe
Emporium Mall

For the faint-hearted and spice-intolerant, one can always retreat into the air-conditioned safety of central Bangkok’s many malls. The Greyhound chain is widely credited to be a pioneer of fusion cuisine, and serves up generally acceptable food. The Phad Thai was decent, but somehow lacked some of the punch and authenticity from more traditional outlets.

Greyhound Cafe_Phad ThaiThai Iced Tea slushie.Greyhound_Thai Iced Tea

134 Kingsland Rd
London E2 8DY
Open Weekdays12:00–3:00 pm, 5:30–11:00 pm
Open Saturday 12:00 – 11:00pm and Sundays to 10:30pm

… and it’s good to be back. We apologise to our readers for such a long lay-off from gastrographic. Life has been busy for us, and it has only been quite recently that we finally regained a measure of our time to get back into writing for fun!

Shoreditch Town Hall – walking up towards Kingsland Road from Old Street
Old Street_Shoreditch Town Hall

The first entry of gastrographic was of this little gem of a cafe we found on our trip to Thailand a year and a half ago. It seems only apt that we kick start this rebirth with an entry on food from around the South East Asian region again. Having lived along the edges of East London for the past 3 years, Song Que Cafe along Kingsland Road has always been my go-to place for Vietnamese comfort food when the flat larder runs low and I can’t be arsed to cook in the evening. It is a wonder that we’ve never properly reviewed this place earlier.

Old Street installation, just across from Cay Tre

In terms of taste, Song Que has a special place in my heart for its fresh and ping-pong-ball bouncy Vietnamese summer rolls, crispy deep fried spring rolls and for having a bad-ass barbecued meat selection – smelling like it was smoked over a ghetto charcoal pit and charred to perfection. If one is at a loss as to what to order (the menu has over a hundred items in it), a summer roll starter and a dry rice noodle main topped with spring rolls and barbecued pork should give you a sampler of the wonderful things coming out of the Song Que kitchen. The pho is decent, but we prefer the soup and meatballs at fellow Shoreditch rival Cay Tre.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls – with prawns so good they go boing in your mouthWhatever you do, just stay away from the chicken chow mein. It’s not even a Vietnamese dish!

Dry Rice Noodles with Spring Rolls and Barbecued Pork

Food portions at Song Que are plentiful and prices are affordable. For that reason queues outside the restaurant can be long on Friday and weekend evenings as revellers spill over from the Hoxton drinking holes to grab a bite to eat. Service can be rushed and brusque (as with most Asian restaurants), so we don’t recommend lingering over your drinks once your plates are cleared. Some establishments are brilliant for that, but Song Que is more a “please eat our lovely food and then leave as soon as you can” kind of place.

Hup Lee Cafeteria
#01-35
Arcade Shopping Centre
Raffles Place 

Sliced fish soup is the food of corporate champions in Singapore: It is tasty, high in nutrients, and easy to take away on a busy desk-bound day. The sliced fish soup stall at the back of the Arcade Shopping Centre is popular with the white-collar crowd working around Raffles Place. The fish is prepared just before they open shop at 10:30am and turnover is incredibly fast, so there is hardly any time for it to sit around and grow soggy.

I visited early on a Monday morning to catch the food at its freshest. The soup was extremely good, fortified with chunks of salted vegetables and a slice of tomato for added tartness.

The fried fish slices ($4.50 for a basic bowl) simply stole the show. Whereas other hawkers may use the batter to cover up the mediocrity of their fish or to act as a bulking agent, the meat here was firm and fresh and the flour well-seasoned and surprisingly crunchy. We’ve travelled far and wide for good fish soup, and Arcade’s is heads and shoulders above what we’ve had before.

The notion that special food can only be found in out-of-the-way places is misguided and is wont for changing. Food in the CBD tends to be overlooked because of the location’s sheer prosaicness, but if one cares to look, there are dozens of hawker stalls tucked into the numerous food centres in town that are so deserving of being catalogued and re-discovered.

14-16 Queensway
London W2 3RX

The word on the Chinese community grapevine in London was that Mandarin Kitchen’s head chef had departed to join Pearl Liang last year. The split was an acrimonious one, the whispers add. In spite of the setback, this stalwart of Bayswater has soldiered on admirably, and remains the best place in London for lobster noodles. The lobster is served with the Hong Kong variety of youmian noodles – thin, crunchy, and slighty springy – and wok-fried in ginger and soy sauce to produce a blessedly fragrant gravy, well balanced with a hint of ginger-zest.

Garnished with a generous turf of spring onion to complete the taste

A visit to Mandarin Kitchen for lobster noodles has become something of a pilgrimage for the Chinese diaspora visiting, working and studying in London. Don’t be put off by the restaurant’s external appearance. The low ceiling, dim lighting and squeezy dining floor isn’t going to win it a Michelin-star anytime soon. Go for the lobster noodles though, and you shan’t be disappointed.

As with most Chinese restaurants, service is brisk and generally smiley. Speaking Cantonese gets you additional brownie points (and occasional freebies) with the staff.

Iceland is a beautiful country, and we’d like to recommend anybody vacationing in Europe to make a detour here.

As with most tourists, we based ourselves in Reykjavik and made small day tours to nearby attractions by car. This entry will read a little bit like a food trail – we’ll focus on how to go about feeding yourselves without blowing too big a hole in your wallet .

There were sheep everywhere

Iceland is blessed with some of the best meat and fish produce in the world. The waters that surround this raw and beautiful island are rich in fish, and the interior of the country is essentially one big sheep farm. There were sheep everywhere we went. Reykjavik central is populated by a fair number of fine-dining restaurants where you can sample some of this wonderful local fare. Tripadvisor and the local tourist guidebook will have a catalogue of all the well-known names.

Seafood Grill
Skolavordustigur 14,
Reykjavik 101, Iceland
http://www.sjavargrillid.is/en/Welcome

Fish Company
Vesturgotu 2a
Grófartorg,
Reykjavik, Iceland
http://www.fiskfelagid.is/

Lobster and Monkfish at the Seafood Grill

We can tell you a little bit about the Seafood Grill and the Fish Company. Both restaurants are staffed with friendly waitresses who will mother you into blissful submission with warm bread, local skyr butter (Yum.) and tap water so fresh it puts Evian and San Pellegrino to crying, burbling shame. Food-wise, Icelandic fine-dining really tries its best, but our impression is that their methods are a little dated. All the dishes we ordered were smothered in one sort of seafood foam or the other. We also took issue with the Seafood Grill deep-frying one of their lobster medallions in a hard, salty batter. Mother Lim also found the salted cod to be way too salty. We thought it was a matter of personal intolerance at first, but afterwards even we were forced to concede that she was right. There was enough salt in the fish to preserve it for milennia. This was a pity. The Seafood Grill could have gotten more out of its ingredients by doing less.

Lamb at the Fish Company

The Fish Company was better. The lamb was served a smokey jus and complemented with a lovely beetroot ketchup. We thought the sweet-and-smokey mix quite pleasant, although Father Lim did grumble about a lack of mint jelly and tabasco sauce. Clearly he preferred his traditional lamb and mint pairing more. Su-Ching liked her plaice and scallops main a lot, and we had no complaints there.

Difficult to eat with gloves on

We recommend having one of your meals at one of Reykjavik’s fine-dining establishments, just to see what the dining scene is like. Starters are normally start from 1500 ISK (~15 SGD) and main courses are about 5000 ISK (~50 SGD). However, not all your meals in the country need to be fancy-schmansy lobster gobbling affairs. Fast food in Iceland is equally celebrated.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Tryggvagotu 1,
Reykjavik 101, Iceland

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, roughly translated: Best Hot Dogs in Town!

Your first pit-stop in Iceland should be Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur along Tryggvagotu, Iceland’s world-famous hot dog stand. This humble purveyor of lamb hot dogs has the accolade of serving Bill Clinton when he was touring Iceland on behalf of UNICEF in 2004. Have your hot dog (250 ISK) with crispy fried onions, ketchup and a cup of coke. There aren’t many better ways to warm your stomach on a windy Reykjavik evening.

The Sea Baron
Geirsgata 8,
101 Reykjavik, Iceland

The interior of an archetypal seafood shack

Further down the road from the hotdog stand is Reykjavik’s Old Harbour, the home of yet another world-famous restaurant. Some 3-star Michelin restaurants may admittedly serve more complex lobster bisques, but the Sea Baron’s lobster soup (1250 ISK) offering stands out for its simplicity, honesty and generosity. The man behind the soup is a good-natured octogenarian ex-seaman. He may be found most days perched behind the counter of his restaurant. The broth is thin but full of that splendid, distinctive lobster flavour. Each soup cup also comes filled with substantial chunks of lobster meat.

Looking at this makes me hungryMonkfish Skewer (2200 ISK)The Salmon (2000 ISK) was fresh, but we liked the monkfish more

Also consider getting the monkfish skewers. Fresh monkfish has the same bouncy texture as lobster but goes for a third of the price. The monkfish at the Sea Baron is the freshest we’ve had. Ever. We honestly don’t think a stay in Reykjavik would be complete without a visit to this far-flung outpost.

The Burger Joint
Geirsgata 1  
101 Reykjavik, Iceland

If the lobster soup and skewers have not quite filled you up, the Burger Joint is your place of final resort. For 1250 ISK per burger value meal it is not the cheapest fast food around. But they do give you free refills on your coke, which is brilliant. The burger itself is very close to the soft-bunned American variant (think Shake Shack). The patty is moist and finely minced, although we do prefer our mince slightly coarser.

Noodle Station
Skolavordustigur 21a, 
Reykjavik, Iceland

If you tire of Scandinavian cooking altogether, the Noodle Station along Skolavordustigur represents great taste and value for money. It is located along the second busiest thoroughfare in Reykjavik and shouldn’t be too difficult to find. A bowl of ‘Thai-style’ kway teow noodles is 1000 ISK (SGD 10) for the chicken option, and 1200 ISK (SGD 12) for the stewed beef.

A saviour comes along to redeem our home-weary palate

The soup is a brown, sweet, thick broth. The beef must have been either topside or shin and the texture and taste compares really well with what one can get closer to home. Have it with a generous topping of ground peanuts, bean sprouts and chilli powder as well!

Right. So that concludes our brief guide to eating in Reykjavik. If we manage to save you a few dollars on your prospective trips to Iceland, then this guide has done its job. A word of advice though – whale meat has the texture of beef but tastes like fish. Eat at your own peril!

Other restaurants worth eating in Reykjavik (unreviewed): Kitchen Eldhus, for Nepalese and Indian food – for simple, not-too-expensive Indian cuisine along the Laugavegur shopping street. 

17 Bruton Street (Mayfair Branch)
London W1J 6QB
020 7907 1888

8 Hanway Place (Tottenham Court Road Branch)
London W1T 1HD
020 7927 7000

Welcome to the wonderful world of Hakkasan

When people think of dim sum in London, the places that immediately pop to mind are the restaurants along Gerrard Street in Chinatown; Shanghai Blues at High Holborn with their Sunday half-price offer; one-star Yauatcha at Soho; and (horror) Ping Pong on your neighbourhood high street. Admittedly, some of those places are decent for a budget-conscious diner, but pssst, we’ve got something better for you now.

Hakkasan is better known as the more expensive and up-scale cousin of its dim-sum dinky little brother Yauatcha. That’s true for its ala carte and dinner offerings, but with a little strategy you can get away with minimal damage on its very very tasty dim sum (from 11am – 3.30pm) menu. Hakkasan has a more limited selection compared to Yauatcha, but whatever they have, they do better. Their venison puffs are a case in point.

We were going to write you a list of all our favourite stuff that you had to order, but were a little sad to find out they overhauled their menu in August. Some dishes like the excellent King Crab Noodle Roll and the Fried Mango and Prawn Salad Roll had been taken off the menu, much to our dismay.

Thankfully, other stalwarts survived the cull. Before we give you a pictorial guide to our must-eat dimsum at Hakkasan, here’s a tip: visit as a trio/trinity/threesome, or in multiples thereof. Most of the items are served as such, so it’s easier to share that way. It should add up to around £20 a person for conservative eaters, and £25 for gluttons. Also consider ordering from their selection of fine teas. The Classical Beauty brew is our favourite.

The Scallop Shumai and Har Gau are excellent. The full-sized scallop topping the shumai is particularly indulgentChar Siu Cheung Fun is smooth, fragrant and the meat is tender. Also try the Three Mushrooms Cheung Fun if you have the chance (and stomach space for it)Chilean Sea Bass Mooli Roll – a triumph. The balance of flavour in its soya sauce base is near perfect, complementing the succulent seabass chunk and the mu-er’s crunch’s exceedingly well Venison Puffs – Sweet, salty, fluffy, lovely.Corn Fed Chicken Soup – Gloria’s favourite for good reason. Dense and fragrant. The result of many, many hours of boiling and distilling stock. We salute the many chickens that died to make this soup.

301 Old Street  
London EC1V 9LA
Tel: 020 7729 8662

42-43 Dean Street 
London W1D 4PZ
Tel: 020 7317 9118

Cay Tre received a makeover since we visited 3 months ago. Baby pink wallpaper now adorns the walls of this Vietnamese stalwart along Old Street, and the new menu looks less grubby than it did before. Service is smiley and friendly (if a bit frenetic), marshalled by a man who could have been a triad-bruiser in his past life, dressed for the part in his dockworker’s cap and orange tweed jacket. All very atmospheric, in our opinion.

Apart from the usual appetizer-main-dessert offerings, the restaurant also has a separate pho menu. £9 gets you a basic bowl of pho with sliced beef or chicken, with additions of sliced beef, fatty flank, tendon or meatball at 50p each. If you’d like a little variation in dining options, Cay Tre is a good place for pho in London.

102 Old Street
London EC1V 9AY
Tel: 020 7490 0200

If you’re in London and craving for some home cooked goodness, make a trip to Sedap, a little eating house situated close to Old Street station (Exit 6). It is owned by the Yeoh family who used to run the Princess Terrace Cafe at Copthorne Kings hotel in Singapore. Sedap serves up classic Peranakan Malaysian fare which includes Nasi Goreng, Blachan Chicken and Nonya Kuehs.

We paid Sedap a visit yesterday, and these were some of the dishes we enjoyed for lunch. Also consider trying the char kway teow and the SIngapore laksa. It’s about as authentic as you can get on this side of the world.

Seafood Kway Teow Soup

Malaysian Fried Rice

Blachan Chicken

31 Tan Quee Lan Street #01-01
Tel: 6334 4086

We were introduced to Xin Yuan Ji some time ago, and it is now our go-to place for sliced fish soup in Singapore. The restaurant itself is a full service tze-char restaurant, catering both to the one-hour luncher and the relaxed steamboater. It is particularly noted for its steamboat, fishhead curry and fish soup offerings.

The sliced fish soup with condensed milk ($5.80 – $7.00) is one of their specialities. You can have it with thick beehoon, porridge, or a separate serving of rice. The original purpose of adding milk was to mimic the appearance of fish-bone soup that has been boiled for hours, but it also has the effect of giving the soup a smoother texture and a pleasant sour-salty aftertaste. Fried fish slices are also available.

The sanlao fish hor fun ($7.00) comes hot out of the kitchen smelling of wokhei, the smokey, slight charred scent cherished by Cantonese chefs. There is a generous portion of fish and beansprouts, with plenty to share around.

We’ve not tried the rest of the dishes on the menu, but the shrimp prawn paste (belachan) chicken is a best seller and purportedly very good. Just don’t question how healthy it is.

北京市东城区
东四十条甲22号
南新仓国际大厦1-2楼(东四十条桥西南)
+861051690329

I don’t think any review of Chinese food in Beijing would be complete without a nod towards the Peking Duck. There is tough competition in the city of its creation amongst the lao zi hao restaurants, but relative newcomer Da Dong Roast Duck is disputably the best purveyor of the crispy skinned avian right now. The duck takes centre stage, but take a flip through the 100-plus page menu for an extensive selection of companion dishes.

Da Dong prides itself in serving ultra-skinny, ultra-crispy duck. Supposedly it’s healthier as well, but I’m not under any illusions…

What it was before.

If on a budget, skip the first 50 pages or so. Stand-out dishes that won’t break the bank are the tomatoes fried with egg, the stir-fried chicken with nuts, and the stir-fried eggplant. The free longans and iced persimmon dessert at the end of the meal was a nice touch, but if you’d like something with a distinctly local flavour, get the candied apple dessert to end it off.

西红柿炒鸡蛋,a popular Chinese dish. Tomatoes were surprisingly plump.

The Eggplant, a delightfully versatile vegetable that absorbs pretty much any flavour you give it.

Stir-fried Chicken with nuts. Simple, classic, decadent.

Happy, well-fed friends.

Da Dong has a reputation for being expensive, but with a little bit of prudence and a passing knowledge of classic Chinese cooking you could get away with minimal damage. We ordered two ducks and seven other dishes, excluding the bowl of nourishing duck-bone soup that comes with the duck. All that came up to 150 RMB per person. Pretty decent, for a dinner at one of the finest Chinese restaurants in the world.

B1/F, Tower C, Heqiao Mansion, A8 Guanghua Donglu
光华东路甲8号和乔大厦C座地下1

We’d like to tell you about a special place called Kagen. It’s the place where Gloria made her only exception to her general dislike for Hot Pot/Steamboat. At Kagen, they have taken this longstanding method of communal eating and updated it a little.

For starters, Kagen’s soup stocks are things of beauty. Each of the 6 soups is balanced to complement your dipping ingredients in their own special way. If you’re having a meat-dominated hotpot, go for the chicken and mushroom or the miso stock. Those are our favourites.
Diners also get a customizable dipping sauce. A sauce-mobile will be wheeled up for you to choose from a range of 4 sauces and 8 condiments. Once again, depending on what you’re having with your hotpot, the waitress will recommend different combinations for your meats or seafood. The regular sesame paste is your sauce for all occasions, and the aptly named seafood paste (a kind of XO-dipping sauce familiar to Singaporeans and Malaysians) goes well with (whatd’yaknow!) seafood. The sweet-and-sourish yuzu fruit vinegar was a surprise package, and also Gloria’s favourite. Best served with a healthy tablespoonful of coriander and fried garlic.

Lastly, Kagen’s really good for lazy eaters. Hotpot is a very hands-on, involved activity, and sometimes it’s nice to be able to enjoy the food without the toil. There was always a helper handy to put stuff into the pot for us, giving Gloria and I more time to talk and catch up on life.

The lighting was a little dim for us to take good pictures of the food we ordered. We also recommend the garlic egg fried rice, the saba shioyaki and the unagi to go with the meal. Especially tasty if you’re hungry and can’t wait for the soup to boil! The meal came up to about 200RMB per person.

S8-30, 3/F, Sanlitun Village South, 19 Sanlitun Road,
三里屯19号院, 南区三层S8-30
Beijing, China

Other outlet: 2\F, Heqiao Building, Bldg C, A8 Guanghua Donglu
光华东路甲8号和乔大厦C座2层

We strive to be as objective as we can about our food, so we really do mean it when we say that Hatsune in Beijing is possibly our favourite restaurant in the world right now. We first dined at Hatsune in 2010, when we visited Beijing enroute to the Shanghai Expo, and going back this time round was a bit like making a pilgrimage to Japanese-fusion Mecca.

Chopsticks to brighten up your meal

To describe it simply, Hatsune is a Japanese-fusion restaurant that serves new and gastronomically exciting rolls. They have the usual selection of Japanese-y food like sashimi, tempura, and donburi sets to give off the impression that you really are eating in a Japanese restaurant. When we talk about the rolls however, it behooves us to reject the traditional frame of reference of assessing Japanese food and move towards a new rubric. Japanese cuisine is conservative, perfectionist and traditional; Hatsune rolls are creative, decadent and use far too much mayonnaise for your dietician’s liking. They still taste pretty darn good, and have become our world-standard of how similar rolls should taste.

Rainbow Roll

We went to Hatsune twice last week, just so we could try as many rolls as we could before leaving. Try the AMA, Crunch-a-Bunch and Alex-foie rolls. The Alex foie rolls (Glen’s runaway favourite) combines sweet unagi sauce, tempura prawn and a generous slathering of foie-gras in an explosion of creamy, buttery, gout-inducing flavour. The Crunch-a-Bunch (Gloria’s favourite) was subtler with its generous sprinkling of scallions, a crunchier texture and a less over-the-top mayonnaise dressing.

The appropriately named Pimp-my-Roll – with everything in it!

Crunch a Bunch – with a generous sprinkling of crunch scallions

AMA Rollnot sure why it is thusly named… spicy and creamy

Alex Foie Roll – Tempura Prawns and Foie Gras pate make good bedfellows

To wash it down, try the seafood and mushroom tea-soup.

Welcome to Beijing!

Hi there! Sorry for the lack of updates over the last few days. I’m currently in Beijing for summer school and the Great Firewall has made it difficult to access facebook and wordpress.

Suffocating censorship laws aside, the good news is that we’ve been working (read: eating) hard to bring you good food reports from the Northern Capital. Contrary to the popular belief that Shanghai is the best place in China for food, Beijing is a fantastic and affordable place to eat in as well, if you know where to look. Traditional north Chinese cuisine has a reputation for being oily, but thanks to a growing expatriate and student community, food enclaves catering to less oil-resistant palates have sprung up around the city.  Gloria came up for a week to visit and we’ve done some of the legwork for you.

We’ll start with Haidian district in the north-western part of Beijing. Haidian is where a majority of Beijing’s universities are located, and consequently there is also a very large student community living and studying in the area. Food-wise, it is also known for really good (and cheap) Korean food centred on the Wudaokou subway station.

Sarangbang Korean Seafood Restaurant
35 Chengfu Road

Dong Yuan Building, Floor 3
Wudaokou,

Haidian District, Beijing

+86 (10) 82618201

Possibly the best Korean food outside of Korea

Look out for Sarangbang Korean Seafood Restaurant. It is on the third floor of the same building in which the Tous Les Jours bakery is. The regular Korean fare (kimchi pork, bulgogi, bimbimbap) are all good, but also try the cold noodles, a chewy buckwheat noodle dish soaked in a sweet-vinegary soup and topped with a slices of cold pork, fragrant pear and watermelon. Nothing like it on a sweltering summer day, to be honest.

Hot day, cold noodles.

Shin Yeh
No. 2401, 4F
Xinzhongguan Shopping Center
19, Zhongguancun Main Street
Haidian District, Beijing

Classic Kung Pow Chicken

If one is in the vicinity touring the Yuanmingyuan and Summer Palace gardens, take the Subway Line 4 down to Haidian Huangzhuang station. Shinyeh restaurant in the Gate Mall serves classic and instantly recognisable Chinese dishes for good value.

Before I conclude, I’d just like to add that both these meals came up to around 60RMB (£6). The equivalent anywhere else would have cost four times as much. We’ve got a whole bunch of other places to tell you about in Beijing, so please continue to visit!

Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Tel: +65 6877 8188

Chinese restaurants in Singapore have always suffered a deficit in public image. It used to be that you couldn’t get a young person to step into one outside of a family wedding or their grandparents’ birthday dinner. Thankfully, the scene has received a boost with trendier debutants like Paradise Dynasty and Jing entering the market.

Add Jade to the list. Fullerton’s Chinese banner-bearer serves up attractive Oriental food in the spacious confines of the hotel’s high-ceilinged ground floor annexes. We wouldn’t go so far as to call the menu ‘fusion’, but might venture to say that it is classic Hong Kong and Shanghai cuisine updated to suit a younger palate.

If uninitiated in the complexities of the Chinese a la carte menu, or so as to avoid an inexplicable seafood bomb in your final bill, there is an extensive selection of prix-fixe sets available, from $58++ to $288++. Increments on the lower end are very considerate to diners on a budget ($58, $68, $78, $88++), so one can hardly complain of a lack of options to choose from.

As a Chinese restaurant, Jade really is the whole package. A spacious dining room, no lack of elbow space and confidently prepared food all made for a lovely night out.

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