Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can Majo, Barcelona

I'm in Barcelona now, having just arrived from the wonderful city that is Donostia (or San Sebastián in Spanish) which is truly a foodie's heaven and I shall blog about those experiences in more detail.

the first thing we did upon arriving at Barcelona is to visit Can Majo which is a famous seafood restaurant well known for serving exquisite paella for a long time. My friend Tim recommended it and so I thought I'd give it a try.

Down by the port, Barceloneta, Can Majo's a lovely quaint restaurant. Quite touristy perhaps - we spotted some Japanese as well as many Americans all eating the same good seafood they serve.

Seafood's their specialty - we went with the seafood platter which was ample and delicious. Everything was really fresh and the highlights included a really sweet and fresh lobster; and equally delicate langoustine and prawns. 8.25/10

I eyed the bouillabaisse on the menu and gave that a try - which was a mistake. The soup wasn't even made out of proper seafood stock as it should be and it tasted as though it were thickened with flour. mediocre and does not deserve to be called such. 5/10

The paella was the star of the show - probably the best I have eaten to date. The rice had fabulous texture being al dente and retaining a certain chewiness and flavoured by the intense sweetness of the seafood. Delicious. 8.5/10

Overall dinner at Can Majo was not cheap considering we have had some really outstanding meals for much less. But as an experience and for the paella it's well worth a visit. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hedone, London

Hedone, opened by former blogger turned chef Michael Jonsson, was one of the most exciting new restaurants to open in London when it opened in 2011, and since then has won high praise for its brand of modern European cuisine that emphasizes the flavours of the ingredients. 

We took the 1 hour ride to Chiswick in west London to try the food and ended up suitably impressed. 

The breads were quite delicious - the sourdough being light while having some weight, if you know what I mean. Sprinkle some sea salt and slab on some butter and you're in for a treat.

The amuse bouche was a suitable appetite whetter though the exact nature of the same now eludes me.

Hedone offers a tasting menu for 65 quid so we all took that offer - wasn't that expensive for many courses.

The first course was a poached Cornish rock oyster with a foam made from Granny Smith and shallots. This was delicious - the oysters were lightly poached to give a succulent texture and then finished with the sweet foam. The whole dish was perfumed and delicate - the sweetness and slight tartness combining well with the sea flavours of the oyster. (8.5/10)

Next up - Mediterranean tomatoes, Orleans mustard, dill and yoghurt sorbet. Again a very flavoursome dish. Everything was fresh and light: the classic combination of tomatoes and dill and an inspired choice of pairing them with yoghurt. It was delicious - I'm partial since I am very fond of dill. (8.25/10)

Next up- hand dived scallops cooked in it's own shell on its juices, and seaweed powder. This was simply incredible - the scallop was huge and tender, tasting of the sea, sweet and intense- the pure essence of scallop subtly heightened with some seaweed powder providing umami. (8.75/10). Especially nice when it's eaten in its own juices.

Next up was a Parmesan ravioli with onion consommé. It was an okay dish certainly delicious too. 7.5/10

The main course then arrived - a roasted breast and leg of squab, with beetroot. Good depth of flavour in the squab, and complemented well by the beetroot. The fats and skin were a particular highlight. Compared to the pigeon from Ramsay some days ago it didn't have that intense a flavour but that's to be expected being a younger bird. (8.25/10)

The palate cleanser came in the form of rosemary sorbet with blueberries - refreshing and it's nice to have rosemary in a sorbet. 7.5/10

The main dessert was a warm chocolate, powdered raspberry and passion fruit jelly. Extremely rich and chocolatey and lifted by the passion fruit. (8/10)

The dining room had a really nice ambience with drawings on the ceilings and a grouse on the wall. 
Overall I enjoyed the meal at Hedone as much as any meal in London thus far, and definitely on par with the Ledbury and Gordon Ramsay. Some of the dishes were just as good as the two or three star michelin places. Michael Jonsson has really succeeded in sourcing the best ingredients and presenting it well to maximize flavour and to construct accompaniments that complement the flavours of the wonderful ingredients he sources. it's certainly worth the one hour ride to Chiswick- and certainly one of the best and most exciting restaurants in London. highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road

I'm a big fan of Gordon Ramsay and all his shows from Hell's Kitchen and kitchen nightmares. Hence I decided to book lunch at his eponymous restaurant located at 68 Royal hospital Road. It's one of a select few 3 michelin star restaurants located in London.

The dining space was really rather small , maybe just 10 tables - and there were so many waiters! I have to highlight the excellent service - it was truly par excellence from the maitre'd giving solid wine recommendations (the wine we ordered was delicious by the way) to the friendly and warm waiters who knew their stuff.

On to the food - we were first served some cheese balls which were delicious!

And the amuse bouche was very good too- this was a tomato consommé with dill oil and basil. Very refreshing, and interesting as well via the dill oil. 

We had a choice between the lunch menu or the ala carte, and I ordered the latter while while my friends had the lunch menu mainly because I wanted to try Ramsay's specialty - the langoustine, lobster and prawn ravioli with sorrel velouté. It was a good enough dish, no doubt - the langoustine lobster and prawns were done competently and the ravioli skin sufficiently thin, although I felt the meat being rather hard. The sorrel velouté was excellent though, coating the meat and giving a really rich mouthfeel to the entire dish. The velouté had excellent depth of flavour, it must be said. Still I had expected better to be honest, considering it is his signature dish. (7.75/10)

The next course was a roasted Bresse pigeon with pork belly, foie gras and date jus. The pigeon was par excellence - very flavorful and gamey - a rich, robust and powerful flavour that hits you and lingers on for a long time. The polenta was excellent as well and so was the accompanying foie gras and the pork belly. Overall this was a superb dish. (9/10)

We were presented with palate cleansers - while we awaited dessert. My dessert was a coconut soufflé that was very good as well, very light and fluffy and it really rose to the occasion (no pun intended).

Some petit fours and we were on our way - chocolate, Turkish delight. 

Overall RGR was technically very sound - I can see why it's managed to maintain it's 3 stars. Service was excellent it has to be said. Still the food wasn't that exciting - it was rather safe and classic. Technically very good though. in some ways then it reminded me of my meal at NYC's Per Se - technically superb, great ingredients, flawless dishes - but rather classic as compared to creative. Make no mistake though, RGR is still one of the best restaurants in London and certain dishes particularly the pigeon really stood out.

Monday, August 19, 2013

HK Diner, London

Popped by HK diner for a late night bite - I used urbanspoon to find the nice Chinese restaurants and this place popped up. Service was extremely brusque - it has to be said. The noodles were of a good texture - wiry and thin - and the accompanying wanton very fresh and delicious. The duck was pretty tasty as well - well flavoured and quite delicious. The letdown was the soup, however - it had the artificial MSG taste. Altogether - an okay bowl of noodles. 7/10 overall.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Social Eating House, London

Dear readers of my food blog, I'm in London right now trying out the very best this glorious city has to offer. Rather than blogging only when I return, as I used to do, I have decided to blog on the go from London so that the memory of the meal I am reviewing remains fresh and alive in my consciousness and in order that I will be better able to gauge the wow factor of the meal instead of drawing from memory.

first up, I would like to introduce you to one of the best set lunches I have has in recent memory, at Social Eating House which is a four month old restaurant owned by Jason Atherton of Pollen Street Social fame (and who also set up Pollen in Singapore). We were looking for some cheap bargain set lunches and as I read thecriticalcouple's review of this place (a glowing review, mind), I decided that I had to come. Three courses for 21 quid represents extremely good value for money at this level, especially for London.

We were ushered into a dimly lit dining room - and the service was excellent - warm and friendly. 

We both started with the same starter - saddleback (pork) with honey mustard. This was a great dish - the pork had a very intense robust "porky" flavor with a long aftertaste, while there were pieces of pork crackling which were equally enjoyable, and also mustard  cutting through the richness. not particularly inventive but very well executed. (8/10)

My friend had the beef while I ordered a wild bream with pasta and saffron, and artichoke (thanks ice). The bream was excellent - very well salted on the skin, and with quite a strong flavor especially for fish. Very flavourful and delicious. Lovely and again spot on in the execution. (8.5/10)

And for dessert both of us had a hazelnut mousse which again boasted great flavour. A salted caramel eclair accompanied it - delicious too. (7.5/10)
I ordered a slice of Livarot as well - since I am partial to smelly cheese.

Overall this place comes very highly recommended. It's delicious, it's cheap, it represents good value. Would definitely return. 

Social Eating House
58 Poland Street 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A noodle story, Amoy Street

A noodle story's been blogged about by many bloggers including ieat - so this is nothing new really. I was in the area (Amoy street) and I figured that it might be a good time to try this noodle place. And so off I went. As you can see, from the photo, there's a Japanese-styled half-cooked egg; there's a sous-vide pork belly; some shrimp dumplings, as well as a potato-crusted prawn. And all the noodles' at the bottom. 

The noodles are really pretty nice, I must say - very robust and tasty and doused in a pretty savoury sauce and topped with fried shallots. It's got a very savoury taste, and the noodles are of a really nice texture - very bouncy and qq. 

The pork's not too flavourful though, and there was a bit of the tendon in it which wasn't that nice to bite into. The egg was good though - good texture, although perhaps it should be soaked in mirin and shoyu more - it didn't have the rich depth of flavour that you expect from the best eggs.

Overall - a commendable effort: 7.5/10. It's an interesting mix of varied ingredients that normally won't go together. It's like wantan mee combined with ramen, sans soup of course. Interesting. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Tuck Kee (Ipoh) Hor Fun, Hong Lim

Met a friend, who is/was interning at the AGC, for lunch - and we went to Hong Lim which is really a treasure trove of good food. There's just so much good food here that one becomes really spoilt for choice - ranging from the Ah Heng Duck Rice, to Outram Park CKT, to prawn noodles, to Heng Kee curry mee, to Ah Kow Bak Chor Mee, to a branch of Tai Hwa, to a famous wonton noodle, and hey even Lee Kheong Roasted Delicacy has moved to Hong Lim! There were just so many options that it was frankly too much!

In the end, we went with Tuck Kee Ipoh Hor Fun which is widely renowned as one of the best in the business. And it's not hard to tell why - the gravy is rich with umami and seafood flavours and very "light" and still flavourful; all the ingredients were fresh. The ipoh hor fun was soft and rather slivery with a good smooth texture. Crayfish was fresh - tick. Prawns were also fresh. The addition of the fried shallots really livens up the entire plate. And the chilli was also very agreeable and blended well with the rich seafood gravy. Overall, still one of the best plates of Ipoh Hor Fun ever. (8.75/10)