Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Thali from Raj Singapore

South Indian Thali with Curd

Breaking away from my usual chaat and dosai routine at Raj tonight, I grabbed a thali instead. Clearly it's been a very long time since I've had this stuff though, as I could barely stand how salty it was. Next time I also need to remember that the dried chili pepper is really just a huge wad of salt rather than anything spicy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

US Epilogue: Shredded Beef Jerky

Bridgford Beef Jerky

An co-worker and I were reminiscing a while back about junk food from our childhood, and chaw tin-packaged shredded beef jerky came up. I made sure to get some on this last run back home, randomly picking this Bridgford brand. Some might say that it looks like Singaporean "pork floss," but there is a huge difference: this stuff isn't sweet. This one was also very fine in texture, accidentally dusting my desk in the process of eating it. I probably shouldn't eat any more salt today though.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Porridge from Hong Kong Airport

Abalone and Chicken Congee Set

I wasn't expecting much from this random food court stop while transiting in HK. But that was a lot better than I thought it would be, with the rice just the way I like it: pulverized into a sludgy goop and yet still savory and refreshing with its shreds of ginger.

The shrimp in the cheong fun on the side were fresher than one might find at a lot of restaurants too. Unfortunately I did find a human hair in my food, but at least it wasn't of the short and curly variety.

On a sad note, the beer machine at United's lounge has disappeared, and is now only a normal refrigerator stocked with cans. I'm not sure why that happened.

Charlie Trotter's Beef Short Rib Dish on UA

Slowly braised beef short rib with red wine braised cabbage and roasted rosemary potatoes

The Charlie Trotter selection on United tonight was this braised beef short rib dish, which turned out to be surprisingly tender. But it was also disappointingly cold, as if it wasn't heated long enough in the galley or something. At least the cabbage wasn't sweet like its appearance suggested - it was just braised in red wine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mel's Drive-In, San Francisco

Ham and Eggs

We grabbed a quick breakfast this morning at Mel's Drive-In, a chain of diners across the city. Next time I have to remember to specifically ask for hash browns rather than those grilled potatoes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tadich Grill, San Francisco

Seafood Cioppino with Garlic Bread

A former boss of mine used to talk a lot about the Tadich Grill (240 California Street, 391-1849) whenever we went to San Francisco. I remembered him saying that it was a very old restaurant, but it was only tonight - sooo many years later - that I finally found out why he liked it so much. It turned out to be serving some of my beloved local seafood, all with sourdough bread and beer on tap.

I knew that we were in a good spot when a bowl of fresh lemon quarters was sitting there on the old wooden tables. I wanted to try so many things on the menu; in the end, I settled on a quintessential San Francisco seafood dish: cioppino. It was a touch salty (and much smaller than I was expecting), but the shellfish was fresh and the broth was aromatic with all of the wine that they used.

This is easily one of my favorite places now too - I just love its character and how down to earth it is. It doesn't matter that they don't take American Express nor reservations. In the worst case, I can always just do an early walk-in or plop myself down at the counter for some beer and seafood.

More from Showdogs, San Francisco

Pickled Louisiana Hot Link with Onion Rings

Yep - I liked this place so much that I went back again for a second day. I got a pickled hot link this time, which sounded rather odd at first. But the proprietor told me that the mildly sour flavor enhanced the taste of the sausage, and when I finally got it, he was right...the sour and spicy tastes were mouth-wateringly perfect. Yum.

I made the right move of switching to onion rings too. I barely even dented the fries yesterday, but I cleared the onion rings in seconds. Why? Most onion rings have too much bread on them in my opinion...but these were more onion than batter, and whatever batter was on them was so impressively light and crispy that they were a pleasure to eat.

To wash this all down, I got a small glass of Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, which was a brown ale whose hazelnut flavor was surprisingly welcome. But I didn't care that much for the Prohibition Ale as it was a bit hoppy. Either way, I found my magical combination of what to order here. This was easily one of the best meals that I've had in a very long time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Anchor & Hope, San Francisco

Fried Calamari

This trendy yet kickback place in an old warehouse (83 Minna Street, 501-9100) was completely packed tonight, but we lucked out by finding a couple of seats at the bar, which I prefer anyway. We grabbed a range of our usual favorites, from oysters on the half shell to clam chowder and even heirloom tomato salad. The fried calamari above was impressively light, although I preferred to steer clear of that sweet Thai chili dip.

There was still a lot of other stuff that I wanted to try, including a deep fried snapper special as well as that famous uni appetizer. But my stomach was filling (and my wallet was emptying) quickly, so we left it at that. I might not come running back right away, but if I'm in the neighborhood again, then I'd consider stopping by again for a quick snack at the bar.

Showdogs, San Francisco

Wild Boar Sausage Lunch Combo

Now that was my kind of place (1020 Market Street, 558-9560). Presumably named because it was located next to venues like The Warfield, this shop specialized in local sausages and beer on tap...two of my favorite things in the world. It took a while for them to finish grilling my wild boar sausage today, but it was exactly the kind of edgy taste with a quality bite that I was looking for. Delicious.

Now, the fries were thinner and were cooked longer than I prefer (and the habanero hot sauce was sweeter and milder than I had hoped for), but that's just nitpicking. When I can't be in Chicago for Hot Doug's, I'm definitely coming to Showdogs, especially with that happy hour that they offer. It's too bad that they are only open until 8 PM though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Northern California's Pizza Antica

Pizza Antica #4: Spicy Fennel Sausage, Portobello Mushroom and Roasted Onion

An old friend of mine has been telling me for ages to come to this small chain of Northern California places to get their #4 pizza. It turned out that his praise was well-founded. What's not to like about spicy fennel sausage, portobello mushrooms, and roasted onions all held together by cheese on a sauceless but super thin and crispy crust? I didn't care that much about some of the other pizzas though...particularly #3 featuring sliced figs. Then again, that's just because I don't like sweet things.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fiesta Del Mar, Mountain View, California

Camarones a la Diabla

A restaurant setting like this isn't the type of place that I would normally think of getting Mexican food at (1005 North Shoreline Blvd, 650-965-9354). But I used to like their chicken soup, a light and thin broth that went great with avocado and a squeeze of lime.

We probably should have stuck to that instead of the heavier tomato-based tortilla soup that we got tonight, especially since they didn't provide the entire guajillo pepper like they used to. It was good to try their fresh jumbo shrimp tonight though, with our Diabla version providing enough heat to keep us happy.

The #11 Dặc Biệt Sandwich from Lee's

The #11 Dặc Biệt Sandwich

I told you that I'd be back. I grabbed #11 today, which was fairly similar to #1 but seemed to have some extra slices of some kind of white meat. Anyway, the bread was still crispy and airy, going nicely with the generous portions of spread of pâté, cilantro, and fresh jalapeno slices. Next time we'll do a picnic with this stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bánh Mì from Lee's Sandwiches

Number 1 Bánh Mì Thịt Nguội

This was completely unplanned. Not far from L&L Hawaiian Barbecue today was an outlet of Lee's Sandwiches, a San Jose-based chain of Vietnamese bánh mì shops that I'd been meaning to try for ages but hadn't had the chance to visit yet. I really didn't have any stomach space left, but I still went in to grab a sandwich, figuring that I could take a bite first and then save the rest for later.

I'm glad that I did. The crisp light bread and spicy yet refreshing garnish in this thing just reminded me of why I love bánh mì so much. The crunchy bits of headcheese in my "#1" order of cold cuts with ham and pâté weren't what I would have instinctively picked, but the taste of everything else was so good that I didn't really care. Yum.

The restaurant itself is kind of interesting though. Actually, one shouldn't even call it a restaurant. It was more of a neon-lit food court counter meets bakery meets plastic mini-mart, but complete with a seating area and Wi-Fi, of all things. I'm definitely coming back to try more, particularly the gỏi cuốn rice paper rolls and the #11 dặc biệt sandwich, the latter of which will be interesting to see what other funky cuts of meat they can add to that "special combo."

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

Spam Musubi and BBQ Short Ribs Mini Plate Lunch

I haven't been to Hawaii in ages. But one thing that I do miss is their "plate lunches," which are an odd combination of rice, macaroni salad, and some main, which in this case was short ribs...otherwise known as kalbi. Yep - plate lunches are an amalgamation of the various cultures in Hawaii thrown onto a single plate. The Americans contributed things like hamburger patties, the Japanese contributed things like pork cutlets, and the native Hawaiians contributed various roast pork dishes, among others.

As odd as it might seem, it really does work, and is something that I haven't had in a very long time. So when I passed by an outlet of this Hawaiian chain up here in Northern California, I made sure to stop by. It was only partially through the afternoon, I only got a "mini" portion of a plate lunch, but it was enough to give me a taste of those pork ribs, whose grilled aroma was mouth-watering. They were sweet, but that's what made it go so well with the rice and macaroni salad, the latter of which I wolfed up in seconds.

The other item on the left there is another classic Hawaiian staple that I had to get: Spam musubi. Yes, just as with above, this was another cultural marriage of Japanese musubi and American Spam. The thought of Spam might not be appealing, but I've known a few folks who have woken up to it after eating this grilled stuff. I definitely want to come back to try all of those other things that they have on their menu. I've just gotta come with a bigger stomach next time.

A Gyros Sandwich from a Food Court

Gyros Sandwich

Gyros are basically the Greek variant of a döner kebab. This one from an American food court was a bit salty and dry, and oddly didn't have any onions in it. But I just loaded it up with that tzatziki cucumber yogurt sauce and wolfed it down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Wedge Salad from Gordon Biersch

Wedge Salad

Here was a quick wedge salad from Gordon Biersch. I love the freshness and simplicity of these things. Then again I suppose that you could put blue cheese and bacon on anything and it would taste good, regardless if it were fresh iceberg lettuce or not.

The Flying Dutchman from In-N-Out Burger

Clockwise from bottom: Flying Dutchman, Cheeseburger, Double Double, and Cheeseburger

That patty at the bottom might look like somebody had made a mistake, but it was intentional. It was an off-menu item at In-N-Out called the Flying Dutchman, which was pretty much a Double Double in its purest form.

Yep - that meant double meat and double cheese, but nothing else...no bun, lettuce, sauce, onions, or anything. They just threw it onto a Double Double wrapper and gave you a plastic fork to eat it with (not even a knife). I'm not sure how it got its name.

Well, it was much richer than I thought it would be - perhaps because the cheese now came in direct contact with my tongue without any of that lettuce and bread getting in the way. I probably won't get this again - in fact, the freshness of the veggies is precisely why I like In-N-Out so much, and this kind of defeats the purpose. But it was good to try at least once.

Japanese Botan Rice Candy

Botan Rice Candy

Whoa - that was a blast from the past. One of my Japanese friends introduced these to me when we were kids...the novelty being the edible rice paper that wrapped the little pink candy. When we randomly encountered these at a shop today, I had to pick up a pack for old times' sake.

A Touristy Cup of Clam Chowder

Clam Chowder

It really couldn't get more touristy than this. Smack in the middle of Cannery Row in Monterey today, there were a bunch of water-facing restaurants giving out samples of clam chowder, and I couldn't resist. So I went into the Fish Hopper (700 Cannery Row, 831-372-8543) and grabbed a quick bowl to go eat out on the benches. It was a tad unnecessarily salty and rich, but I suppose that was needed to hook people when giving out little samples out on the street. I should have grabbed some of those oyster cracker things or something at least.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orlando's Caribbean BBQ at AT&T Park

Cha Cha Bowl

We went to a Giants game tonight, where I poked around at each of the concession stands to see to see if there were anything interesting beyond the usual hot dogs and nachos. I ended up at Orlando's Caribbean BBQ, which was serving this so-called Cha Cha Bowl. It didn't look like much, but I was still curious to see if it was going to be better than it looked.

It wasn't. It was just a bowl of rice topped with tough and dry (almost jerky-like) cubes of chicken with beans and some zucchini salsa. I added some chipotle sauce, which was sweeter than it was spicy, making it a bit like bi bim bap. But I ended up stopping halfway through the bowl rather than trying to finish it. Paying a whopping $8 for a Red Stripe beer to go with it only made me question my choice further. Was this rice bowl thing really from the Caribbean?

Well, at least I got some salvation from Murphy's Irish Pub, where a Bass Ale and some Irish Nachos worked for me, even if the latter wasn't anything more than just chili cheese fries. Next time, I'll stick to the basics and save my stomach space for some of those delicious looking grilled sausages and Gordon Biersch garlic fries instead. Either that, or hit up the Acme Chophouse downstairs first before heading out to our seats.

A Vegetarian Sandwich on Sourdough

Vegetarian Sandwich

One thing I miss about the States is the ease of getting a simple and fresh sandwich. So when I saw (and smelled) some sandwiches for sale this morning at a random shop here in the Bay Area, I got excited. This one was nothing more than a bunch of veggies shoved in there, but the cheese, red onions, and pickle wedge formed a deliciously tasty yet light snack...all on local sourdough bread of course. Mmm...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Number 9" from Luu New Tung Kee Noodle

Combination Wonton Noodle (#9)

It might be odd for me to keep going all the way to the US to eat what should be commonplace in Singapore, but for some reason, the taste from these guys is just different. I can't place my finger on exactly what it is, but the noodles, broth, and pickled condiments all just come together so uniquely that I had to get this while I was here.

Anyway, this was the "Number 9" from Luu Noodle. I usually get the "Number 2" from the greater Tung Kee family of shops but wanted something a bit lighter today. OK, maybe it wasn't exactly light, as this bowl was gigantic, and I was craving those meatballs and the little bits of pork lard in there too. But it hit the spot either way.

The Return Flight on Virgin America

Hippie Chips and Tea

No, this wasn't meant to be a political statement or anything like that. Obama just happened to be giving a nationally televised speech right when the Virgin people delivered my chips, that's all.

Anyway, I kinda liked those Hippie Chips that I bought, even if for a whopping $3. The Haight-Ashbury Jalapeno flavor gave enough flavor while the baked potato chips kept it somewhat guilt-free.

And I still love Virgin America. Even though the flight was full, one could hardly be bothered by it, even in economy class. Time just flew right by in those leather seats. It looks like they did have a beverage cart though, contrary to what I mentioned last time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gordon Ramsay at the London, West Hollywood

Heirloom Lettuce Salad with Summer Truffles

As much as I enjoy watching Gordon Ramsay on TV, I've never really eaten his food. Well, OK...I've eaten a couple of his airplane meals, but that doesn't really count. So we got an idea this morning to try to get a table at his new place in LA (1020 North San Vicente Boulevard, 310-358-7788), and fortunately we got one. Located at a hip hotel off the Sunset Strip, this place was suitably posh, although interestingly without tablecloths. We were definitely looking at fine dining-type prices though.

Seeing how much he frequently screams out orders for both scallops and risotto on Hell's Kitchen, we definitely wanted to give those a try. Both of them fared well, including the single giant scallop (apparently known as a U12 in industry parlance) that had to be sliced into three pieces - and done perfectly in the pan at that. That truffle-topped salad in the photo of course came with all of the associated mesmerizing aroma, while a Berkshire pork belly from Snake River Farms delightfully melted in our mouths.

But there were a couple of items that we wouldn't really have missed, including a squash blossom whose spices just reminded us of Indian samosas, as well as a sweetbread and mushroom pithivier pastry thing whose sweet reduction on the side was something that I got a bit tired of. My first time experiencing sweetbreads was uneventful too; it didn't really taste like one might think thymus glands and pancreas would taste like, but I didn't really find anything too exciting about them either.

Well, my impression of his cooking style hasn't really changed. While I can definitely see why he is so well-respected, his food still came across as a bit "neutral," whereas I got more excited eating at places like Joël Robuchon. So just as with before, I'm probably more interested in Ramsay's TV personality than his cooking style. Then again, I'm not exactly one to know much about fine dining in the first place. It was good to come experience one of his proper meals either way.

Pollo Campero from Guatemala

Grilled Chicken, Fried Chicken, and Campero Beans

It might seem odd to hit up a fast food chain when there was so much else to eat here in LA. But I came here for a specific reason: this was a fried chicken chain from Guatemala that apparently was so strong that it kept KFC from being successful there. And it has since expanded to a number of overseas locations, including Southern California. I wanted to see what it was all about.

At first glance, there was some resemblance to El Pollo Loco, with the black plastic plates, salsa bar, and corn tortillas in a bag. But these guys did both fried and grilled versions of chicken, and they were both much saltier than I was expecting. Perhaps that is not surprising given how salt is sometimes even added to things like candy and beer in parts of Latin America.

Well, it was tasty and tender nonetheless. Interestingly, Pollo Campero has expanded to Indonesia and China as well, which I suppose makes sense considering Asia's affinity for fried chicken. I just wish that El Pollo Loco would come out to Asia, as I'm a bigger fan of theirs.

Philippe the Original, Los Angeles

Philippe French (Single) Dipped Sandwich

I've always known French Dip sandwiches to be served with a little cup of au jus on the side. But here at Philippe's (1001 North Alameda Street, 213-628-3781), where the French Dip was allegedly invented, the bread was pre-dipped. And that was all. It was slices of meat in between soaked bread. In that sense, it was a lot like the Debris Po'boy from Mother's in New Orleans...or perhaps an Italian Beef from Chicago, but less spicy.

Actually, Philippe's is known for having a spicy mustard to complement the sandwich. Its pungent nature combined with slices of beef surprisingly reminded me a bit of a roast beef sandwich and Horsey Sauce from Arby's instead...but soggier and not mass-market processed, of course. I don't think I'll be yearning for one of these again anytime soon, but it was good to come try the original. Besides, these old school places in LA have a bit of charm to them.

Holiday Inn Express Start Cinnamon Rolls

Holiday Inn Express Start Breakfast

Yeah, I know. This isn't something that I'd normally care much about, but I've been amused by how the Holiday Inn Express chain has been promoting its cinnamon rolls as a way to draw people to its hotels, using superlatives like "legendary," "perfect," and "world's best." It was much lighter than that gaudy Cinnabon stuff, and was good enough for me to surprisingly finish the entire thing, even though I'm usually not big on sweet things nor baked goods.

Will the "unbelievable" cinnamon roll alone draw me back to these hotels? No, but I have become a fan of Holiday Inn Express lately...at least, when I'm not on the road for business. If I'm on vacation, the last thing I want to do is spend time in a hotel, so the only thing I want to pay for is a clean place to sleep, shower, and leave my stuff. That is exactly what the Holiday Inn Express consistently delivers, even if I hate those shower curtains that they use. The free breakfast with these cinnamon rolls is - well - just icing on the cake.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Orris Restaurant, West Los Angeles

Asparagus Salad with Tomato Bruschetta

One place I used to frequent back in SoCal was Shiro in South Pasadena, whose whole deep fried catfish with ponzu sauce and cilantro was such a favorite of mine that I literally had dreams about it. I found out today that the chef has since opened up a casual place in West LA (2006 Sawtelle Boulevard, 310-268-2212) serving French-Japanese small plates. I'm normally not much for fusion, but given my historical affinity for his food (and the fact that I really needed something light after that brutally heavy Mexican meal earlier today), we came down here for dinner.

Fortunately there was no problem getting a walk-in on a Sunday night, especially since they had counter seating available. We picked up a number of items, such as the asparagus salad above, which turned out to be the most straightforward of the bunch. I got more excited about the grilled artichoke, whose smoky taste was delicious enough that I didn't even touch that cajun aioli on the side, lest it cover up the natural flavor. Other dishes that we had fun with included the foie gras and Japanese eggplant, as well as a chicken and endive salad that provided exactly the refreshment that this tummy was looking for.

Unfortunately, I've been spoiled by the likes of Cal Pep in Barcelona, whose small plate counter service is one of my favorite meals of all time, setting the bar so high for me that this place couldn't keep up. But at the end of the day, this place really was still very good. In fact, normally I hate beet root, but they provided enough Basque sheep milk cheese and dill weed in a beet dish tonight that it made the deep red root partially edible to me. I'd probably be a regular here if I lived nearby.

Food from the Alameda Swap Meet in LA

Mexican Roast Corn

In Los Angeles, Mexican food is a given. But we went really deep today by heading to the Alameda Swap Meet, an indoor bazaar where we were the only ones that were not speaking Spanish. There were all sorts of things to eat in the open courtyard, including pupusas and a bunch of things that I was completely clueless about. But I spotted a lady selling corn that I was immediately drawn to. The corn was roasted first before being dressed with a barrage of condiments like cheese, mayo, limes, and chili powder. Yum.

Sopa Criminal

Another item we grabbed was this mixed seafood soup from a shop called Mariscos El Diablo (4501 South Alameda Street, 323-233-3015). I don't know why they called it sopa criminal, but it was filled with fish, shrimp, octopus, and other items. And in Mexican soup fashion, this light broth came with accoutrements like avocado slices, onions, and limes. It was tasty, but also in such a gigantic bowl that we felt bad that we couldn't finish it.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog

Then again, maybe that was because we grabbed so many other treats from the surrounding stalls, such as bacon-wrapped hot dogs, a local concoction that I haven't seen in ages. There were a number of condiments available, including some grilled whole green peppers that were surprisingly spicy. I just wish that I had the stomach space to try some other things that we saw, including some oysters on the half shell as well as a whole deep fried fish that I saw a guy rubbing lime all over. Well, that only means one thing: a return visit is in order.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mongol's BBQ, Westwood, California

Mongolian BBQ

Here's an updated photo from Mongol's in Westwood (1064 Gayley Avenue, 310-824-3377), which we stopped at out of convenience after a very long day today. It looks like they've modified a few things since we were last here, like the fact that they will put the noodles on for you instead of one amusingly trying to pile it up high himself. And clearly they've also wised up to serving these things on plates now rather than in those space-limited bowls. But otherwise it was still the same nastily crude yet tasty Mongolian BBQ that we were after.

My First Time on Virgin America

GoPicnic Galaxy Munch and Teance Tea

After noticing these guys operating out of SFO last time, we wanted to be sure to give them a try this time around, and I'm so glad that we did. This airline kicks a$$! Everything about the experience, from the overly simple self check-in process to the posh mood lighting and leather seats inside made me wonder why I even bothered with other airlines in the past. The economy class here was better than many first class cabins - space constraints aside of course. And this was considered a low cost carrier!

The cabin service was unique too, as the flight attendants didn't push any carts down the aisleway nor handled any cash. Instead, one places his food order using the touchscreen and credit card driven system at each seat, after which they bring out your order. I grabbed this simple snack box from GoPicnic, which I nibbled on while watching satellite TV and even discovering some snippets of Eddie Murphy's Delirious on the audio part of the system ("Goonie Goo Goo!"). With all of that at hand, I couldn't be bothered to think about plugging into the laptop power outlets and in-flight Wi-Fi.

One still had to put up with all of the frustrations upon arrival at LAX though, which I have to remember *not* to fly into next time. And that of course is the shortcoming of this otherwise great airline: it's so new that its destinations are very limited. So Star Alliance is still going to keep me going, even if the other Virgin airlines around the world provide a similar experience. But next time I need to head down to SoCal or Vegas, I'll try to fly Virgin if I can. Richard Branson really knows how to do it right.

San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Organic Produce for Sale

With a pretty long layover before catching our next flight, we popped out of SFO this morning to catch today's Farmers Market at the Ferry Building Marketplace. It seemed much more crowded today than last time, but nonetheless still had a lot of the same fun stuff, like plenty of produce and cheese, as well as sausages, bread, and pickles.

Sockeye Salmon Lox Sandwich

One of the first things I grabbed was from Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoked Salmon, which went so far as to trademark the term "San Francisco Lox Sandwich." Using its own smoked salmon together with cream cheese and onions, this sounded very similar to a standard issue bagel and lox, except that it was on open-faced local sourdough bread and featured a sprinkle of gourmet salt. It was deliciously refreshing - and the seagulls knew it too, as I had to fend some of them off from stealing my treat.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

We went inside for some treats as well, where we found a salumi shop called Boccalone (1 Ferry Building #21, 433-6500) that conveniently offered a variety of their porky cuts in a convenient little paper cone. We also sat down at il Cane Rosso (#41, 391-7599), a shop that specialized in local ingredients. With so many stalls outside featuring heirloom tomatoes, it was only fitting to get this heirloom tomato salad dressed in olive oil, salt, and basil. Mmm...

Chicken Rice on United

Hainanese chicken and rice with chili sauce and Taiwanese sauteed cabbage

Whoa - United was serving chicken rice on this morning's flight out of Singapore. It wasn't the first time I'd seen chicken rice on an airplane, but it was the first time I'd seen it on United.

It definitely wasn't chicken rice from a hawker center though. The chicken was cut into huge chunks, and the rice was mushy. But it sure was a welcome break from the usual omelette routine.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Japan's R Burger in Singapore

R Burger Combo

This wasn't meant to be an ION Orchard streak. But we were in the area again, and went downstairs to see if there were somewhere we could get a quick bite at. Just a couple stalls down from Menya Kaiko was this outlet of a Japanese burger chain (#B4-56). Beef patties shoved into Chinese mantou-like steamed buns didn't look very enticing, but we figured that we'd give it a shot.

We grabbed the eponymous R Burger, which came dressed with shiso leaf and pickled daikon. As much as I love both of those items in Japanese food, I just couldn't get into this. The bun kept annoyingly sticking to the roof of my mouth, and there was just no "oomph" that made me want to eat it again. The avocado cheese burger didn't really get me excited either.

Oh well. As much as I love how wonderful Japanese localization can be, somehow I just can't get into Japanese hamburgers...at least, based upon this and Mos Burger. There are a few Japanese chains that I do want to try next time I'm up there, but in the meantime I'll stick to burgers from back home.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Menya Kaiko Hokkaido Ramen, Singapore

Kaiko Ramen with Aka Miso

This stall at the basement of the new ION Orchard mall (#B4-53) was memorable because it had a bowl of ramen that went for nearly S$30 (US$21) featuring a gigantic crab leg. We didn't get a chance to try it the first time we went to the mall, but we were in the neighborhood tonight and stopped by. I grabbed their namesake bowl, which was fortunately much cheaper at only S$12 (US$8.50).

It was a bit of a letdown, as it really didn't taste like much more than some of that boxed stuff that I had at home. Granted, it was much better than some of the other shops out there (like Aoba), but it was oily and frankly a bit boring, especially given the limited condiment selection. Well, they did provide a choice of miso at least, so if we eat this again then I'll have to try the white miso instead.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Lawry's Singapore Afternoon Indulgence

Prime Rib Yorkshire Pudding Roll Up at Lawry's Afternoon Indulgence

Here was the Prime Rib Yorkshire Pudding Roll Up from Lawry's afternoon tea deal again. For some reason, today's just didn't seem as tasty as last time, despite the added presence of that cup of au jus. Nor were these as easy to eat without those little cupcake liners. But they were a bit more generous with the food, especially since that same S$12 (US$8) price also got you a choice of sweet item along with it, such as an English trifle or scones. Maybe next time I'll go for the bruschetta instead of the Yorkshire Pudding Roll Up.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Cajun Food on Lufthansa

Crawfish Salad with Creole Remoulade

Cajun/Creole cuisine is probably the last thing that I would have expected on a flight out of Germany, but Lufthansa's Star Chefs program featured John Besh from New Orleans today. The sour pickling in this salad overpowered the taste of the crawfish itself, but hey - this was a lot better than that meal on the way in.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Königlicher Hirschgarten, Munich

Dunkel Weissbier und Kartoffelsuppe

Time for another beer garden run...this time to Hirschgarten (Hirschgarten 1, 17999-119), which apparently is the biggest beer garden in Europe (and, interestingly, with a bunch of deer roaming around in a caged area next to it). This time I grabbed a dunkles Weißbier, or a darker version of wheat beer...but it still was too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the local potato soup turned out to be way too salty. But it was tasty otherwise, especially with those little bits of bacon in it. (evil grin)

Schweinebraten from Hackerhaus, Munich

Schweinebraten mit Kartoffelknödel und Sauerkraut

Whoa that was unexpectedly good. Just as I was starting to get tired of all of the meat here in Germany, I found myself delighted with this plate of Schweinebraten, which I picked up for lunch here at Hackerhaus (Sendlinger Strasse 14, 260-5026). Rather than being as brash as a big chunk of pork knuckle, these thin slices were tender and tasty in the lean parts (reminding me a bit of Japanese chashu), all while having the added bonus of some crispy tasty skin to go with it. Occasionally finding whole peppercorns hiding in in the Sauerkraut was a nice touch, while the Kartoffelknödel filled the rest of the belly. The beer and 7-Up mixture known as Radler was way sweeter than I was expecting, but it did the job of washing it all down.

Augustiner Großgaststätten, Munich

2 Stück Augustiner Weißwurste mit original Weißwurstsenf

One of the very uniquely local things that I was told to do in Munich was to get a Bavarian breakfast of Weißwurst and Weißbier, and the Viktualienmarkt was supposed to be a good place to do that. So I got up early this morning and headed down there, only to realize that there was one very important word that was missing from that tip: *late* breakfast. Yep, I got there around 7-ish hoping for a good solid start to the day, only to find that nothing was open yet, and that most places didn't open until 10 AM. (Doh!) I thus stumbled around a bit to see what else I could get, hoping that my stomach could last for a few more hours.

Fortunately, in the process I came across the Augustiner Großgaststätten, a beer hall that was serving Weißwurst at 9 AM. I was a bit concerned that it was in a touristy shopping area (Neuhauser Strasse 27, 2318-3257), but there were a few locals inside, and my stomach couldn't wait any longer. Contrary to their drab white appearance, these little veal and onion sausages were full of flavor, and went surprisingly well with the mildly sweet brown mustard and wheat beer, neither of which I am normally a huge fan of. Interestingly, one was not supposed to eat the skin of the sausage. I couldn't quite get the technique down right at first, but after a couple of cuts, I started to get the hang of peeling them.

Apparently the reason why this was a breakfast item was because these sausages tend to be easily perishable, and hence have to be eaten quickly - generally before noon. Given that most shops aren't open until 10 AM, then this really is a tight two hour window for a mid-morning snack between breakfast and lunch. Well, next time I am routing through Munich I'm definitely going to plan a better breakfast run. Besides, what's not to like about beer, sausages, and pretzels for breakfast?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sonja's Biergarten im Schlossgarten

Fleischkase und Bier

I'm glad I got a minute to run back into town to hit up this Biergarten (Am Schlossgarten 18, 0711-2261274) before leaving Stuttgart today. I grabbed some Fleischkäse, which was kinda like a big loaf of homemade Spam, but it was less salty and greasy. It was baked to the point where the edges were crispy, and came with a light brown gravy-like sauce. It wasn't anything to go nuts over, but I'm never going to complain about going to a Biergarten, especially during a nice summer day.

Maultaschen and Pretzels Everywhere

Maultasche and Brezel

Man, those Maultasche dumplings are everywhere around here. In the past few days, we've been seeing it at almost every meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They were generally smaller than the giant one I got the other day though.

Actually, we saw a lot of the same Swabian items every day, be it Spätzle and Schupfnudeln or even that soup with the thin pancake slices (Flädlesuppe, is it?). And of course there were pretzels everywhere too. For some reason many of them had a tear down at the bottom...was that the Stuttgart way of doing them?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Haribo Gummi Bears from Germany

Haribo Gummi Bears

OK, this isn't something that I'd normally care much about, but hey - gummi bears are German after all, and it's been a very long time since I've had these things. Maybe it was because these were the proper German version or something, but I don't remember these having this much flavor nor being this firm (cue the bus scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off). It definitely brought back some memories though.