December 31, 2019

The best dishes I had in 2019

Pin It

It's been a busy year at work, thanks to me changing jobs at the start of the year.  I definitely did not take as many holidays as I had planned, and in fact I ended up eating out less altogether.  That being said, I still found plenty of opportunities to pig out all over the world.

As in previous years, I have put together a list of the dishes which I thought were "the best", in the sense that they elicited the most amount of positive emotions from me.  They are listed in chronological order here:

Deep-fried garoupa filet (吉列老虎班球), from The Sports Club (五陵會), Hong Kong - there's something about battered and deep-fried fish, and this was probably the best version I've ever had.  I was totally amazed that something like this could be executed at this level... with light and crispy batter enveloping very fluffy and soft fish.  And that starchy egg drop and corn sauce was beautiful.

Braised stuffed sea cucumber (海參鑲肉), from mom - OK, so I'll never grow tired of eating this dish from mom.  Soft and wobbly sea cucumber stuffed with minced pork.  I'm so lucky that mom is a wonderful cook.

Last stars of the decade

Pin It

I pinged Hairy Legs this morning.  I had something for Bilbaobab, and could I just drop it off with him at the restaurant during my lunch hour?  Being the kind friend that he is, Hairy Legs offered to make me a few dishes for lunch.  While I politely declined and told him that I was happy to eat something simple so that I could return to my desk, he insisted that I should not leave the restaurant hungry.

That's how I found myself sitting at the chef's table behind the open kitchen at Caprice, on the last day of the year - nay, of the decade.  I came delivering a small package of pop corn, and ended up staying for a multi-course lunch.

Victor came in with a magnum of bubbly. I guess it made sense to have some... with less than 12 hours to go.

Vouette et Sorbée Fidèle, en magnum, dégorgée le 16 Octobre 2018 - more pronounced mineral notes, caramelized on the edges.  The acidity on the palate was balanced by some ripeness.

December 28, 2019

The path continues

Pin It

I'm back home spending Christmas with the Parental Units, which I haven't done in a few years.  Much to my surprise, mom suggested that we go out for dinner one night.  I guess she felt that she's been keeping dad on a pretty tight leash over the last few months... and he deserved a little break.  Hello Kitty figured that sushi might be the best fit for mom's dietary requirements, so I booked us a few seats at the counter at Yu Dow Son (魚道生) - my old favorite during the year I moved back to Taipei.

The place was just as I remembered, and the four of us were seated at the corner of the L-shaped counter.  Chef Liu Ji An (劉技安) still mans the counter and makes almost all the pieces.  And the place still has flower arrangements, as one of the owners is apparently a florist.  In fact, the restaurant is named after a type of ikebana (生花) arrangement called gyodoike (魚道生).

Mom was treating us to this dinner, so we decided to forgo the regular set menus and took the basic level omakase.

Olive flounder (鮃) - presented as petals of a rose, and sprinkled with ground shrimp as if it were snow.

December 23, 2019

Pre-holiday FUK: late-night eats

Pin It

Maybe it's that late-night session last month... I don't know... but for someone who very rarely goes out for late-night supper after dinner, I inexplicably felt the need to binge while I was in Fukuoka.  I just felt that there were things I wanted to eat and places I wanted to hit during my slightly longer stay this time around.

On my first night, after a sake session, I was dead set on getting some motsunabe (もつ鍋).  It's something that originated from this part of Japan, and I didn't get around to having some during my short trip last month.  So I's gonna git some!

It was past 1:30 a.m. and many shops selling motsunabe were already closed or closing... and I was by myself.  I left the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka on foot and headed in the direction of Tenjin.  The sign outside the Haruyoshi (春吉) branch of Ryu no Su (龍の巣) advertised motsunabe, since they specialize in horumon (ホルモン), so I sat down and ordered one up.

First, a little appetizer...

Original kasu motsunabe (元祖かすもつ鍋) - I've never had a real authentic motsunabe, so this was all new to me.  We've got mostly cabbage and chives, along with raw cow intestines, and surprisingly deep-fried intestines and fat (かす)... all seasoned with some garlic and sesame.

Pre-holiday FUK: late-night drinks

Pin It

There's bound to be drinking when DaRC is involved, and on this trip I went out for drinks each night after dinner - to a variety of bars.

After our dinner on the first night, we rushed over to Shuho (酒峰) for some sake.  We arrived at an earlier hour compared to my last visit, and it suddenly hit me that people do come here for food as well as sake...

We started with a round of something DaRC and I both like a lot:

Azumaichi Junmai Daiginjo Tobintori Show Selection (東一 純米大吟醸 斗瓶取り 選抜酒), BY28 - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 39%.  Initially served too cold, showing banana notes but kinda oxidized.  Very smooth on the palate.  Sweet at first but gets a little drier.

I've been dying to open a particular bottle ever since my last visit...

Pre-holiday FUK day 4: take it easy

Pin It

It's our last full day in Fukuoka, and DaRC hadn't planned anything so we thought we'd just take it easy.  I missed out on visiting Goh-san at his restaurant when I was in town last month, and since I only confirmed our visit two weeks ago, La Maison de la Nature Goh had already been booked up.  Thankfully Goh-san was still kind enough to make time for us, and took us to Iihi Tonkatsu (いい日とん勝) - his favorite tonkatsu (とんかつ) shop near his home.

Unfortunately for us, the restaurant didn't have any of their Bimiton loin cutlet (美味豚ロースカツ) from Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県), but Goh-san did manage to get a little something special for us.

Pork loin cutlet set (ロースカツ膳) - just look at the gorgeous pieces of pork, covered in panko (パン粉)!

December 22, 2019

Pre-holiday FUK day 3: Chinese Island

Pin It

Our only meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant on this trip was dinner tonight.  Sushi Karashima (鮨 唐島) has been open for a little more than a year and a half, and already grabbed a coveted Michelin star shortly after opening.   This was all the more impressive because, while Karashima-san has been cooking for a few years, his experience with a sushiya started relatively recently.

Tilefish dashi chawanmushi (甘鯛出汁茶碗蒸し) - made with dashi (出汁) from tilefish (甘鯛) and a specific type of egg from Ukiha City (うちは市), which has a more white-ish yolk.  Served with some shaved yuzu (柚子) zest for fragrance.

Karashima-san started prepping the shari (シャリ), and I could really smell the vinegar in the rice... and it was very similar to the black Chinkiang vinegar (鎮江醋) I grew up with.

Pre-holiday FUK day 3: American ro ro

Pin It

After two days of having no meat, Ro Ro was dying for some ro ro.  Thankfully DaRC had arranged lunch at Authentic Living Butcher NYC - a place where they serve dry-aged beef.

Being a fan of Japanese Hamburg steak, I chose the Aging Humberg and Hanging Tender Steak Course.  It's been a while since I had Hamburg steak in Japan...

We started with a few amuses bouches:
Spiced popcorn

Pork liver gougères

Chiffon cake with Marscapone

December 21, 2019

Pre-holiday FUK day 2: hidden on the side

Pin It

We had real trouble finding Daidokoro (大所).  The address points to an apartment building, but there didn't seem to be a door leading to any restaurant on the ground level... or was there?  We did see an innocuous wooden door on the side of the building's main entrance, but we forgot to check the pictures on Tabelog.  In the end I had to call DaRC, who walked out of the same wooden door we had ignored...

Napa cabbage and conpoy soup (白菜と貝柱のすり流し) - very nice with a little bit of yuzu (柚子) added, and a few black sesame seeds.  Interesting texture, too.

Next came a series of appetizers, starting with cream cheese flavored with dried persimmon (あんぽ柿), topped with a piece of kumquat (金柑) from Miyazaki (宮崎).  This was kinda interesting.

Pre-holiday FUK day 2: ramen and shopping

Pin It

Hello Kitty and I desperately needed to catch up on sleep, so we decided to sleep in today.  After eventually dragging our butts out of bed, we made our way to the original shop (本店) of Hakata Ramen ShinShin (博多らーめん ShinShin) in Tenjin (天神).

I first learned about this place at the GohGanDen pop-up in Macau last year.  The crab curry finale featured noodles from ShinShin, and I was really impressed with the texture of those thin strands.  It seemed natural that we should check this place out while we were in town.

There was already a fairly long line across the street when we arrived, and for two people who normally refuse to line up for food beyond, say, 15 minutes or so, we ended up enduring a nearly 40-minute wait.

Ramen with cooked egg (煮玉子入りらーめん) - the most popular choice.  With an egg, some char siu (チャーシュー), spring onions, and wood ear.  The fatty pork belly was really delicious, as there were some smoky and charred flavors.  The soup was tasty yet light.

December 20, 2019

Pre-holiday FUK day 1: hidden upstairs

Pin It

We're off to Fukuoka for a few days before the Christmas holidays, and thanks to the need to transit through Taipei, we landed just one hour before dinner was to start.  Thankfully the immigration and baggage claim at Fukuoka airport was really efficient, and we managed to get to the restaurant right on time in spite of a little Friday night traffic.

But Sensui (千翠) doesn't have any obvious signage... which isn't uncommon for restaurants in Japan.  We saw a well-lit staircase leading upstairs, but there didn't seem to be anything indicating that it was the restaurant we were looking for - until Hello Kitty poked her head inside and saw the name of the restaurant in very small font on a small piece of wood on the side after checking for pictures of the restaurant exterior on Tabelog.

Once upstairs, we sat ourselves at the short end of the L-shaped counter with a mere 8 seats, which our group of 6 basically took over while ignoring the Japanese couple who had arrived earlier.

I didn't do any homework for this trip, and just let DaRC book all the restaurants.  I just follow lah... So I really didn't have much of an idea of what to expect for this meal.

We started with a trio of root vegetables tempura (天ぷら) - Jerusalem artichokes (菊芋), potatoes (馬鈴薯), and propagule (零余子).

December 18, 2019

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Pin It

My friend V wanted to catch up before the holidays, and figured we could do with a casual meal.  There are only a couple of people I would normally call on for an occasion like this, and this time I decided to call on RAW Spam Bro again.  As it turned out, our friends at Ginsberg + Chan were doing their staff Christmas dinner at Nikushou tonight, so we had a chance to catch up and try some wines together.

We kicked off with female snow crab (香箱蟹), a seasonal specialty.  In addition to meat from the smaller female, there's also tomalley (蟹味噌), ovaries (内子), and I think some eggs (外子).  Not as decadent as the ones I had in Japan last December, but this will do.  Served with the packaged sushi rice from Sukiyabashi Jiro (すきやばし次郎).

December 13, 2019

Collared in the Hood

Pin It

My Birdbrain Favorite Cousin pinged me a few weeks ago, asking me to take her back to Neighborhood for the so-called "Peter menu".  Knowing that Mr. and Mrs. Birdiegolf also enjoy taking in the "Peter menu" at certain places in town, I figured I should rope them in for this dinner.  After all, I haven't been to my favorite restaurant in a couple of months, and certainly not since the white truffle season started...

Veal tartare / Burrata / hazelnut - Mr. Birdiegolf would have preferred beef over veal, but this was what we got.  And those shaved slices of white truffle certainly didn't hurt...  Very nice.

December 5, 2019

Days of numbing tongue: Sichuan feast

Pin It

Our day started at Kuanzhai Xiangzi Alleys (宽窄巷子), yet another historic touristy area of Chengdu.  After strolling around, exploring and learning a little something about the history of the area - including yet another Starbucks located in an old building - we went in search of something very local to eat...

Wumei Zhuji Intestine Noodles (五妹朱记肥肠粉) sells, you guessed it... bowls of noodles with pig intestines.  The main draw is this huge bowl of pig offal, with a separate bowl of pig intestines which have already been chopped up.

December 4, 2019

Days of numbing tongue: hot pot experience

Pin It

I'm in Chengdu for a couple of days for a work trip, and I'm getting to see the city for the first time.  While it's interesting for me to experience some authentic Chengdu-style Sichuan cuisine, I am a little bummed that I won't get the chance to hit a couple of restaurants that come highly recommended by foodie friends.

To show us - more specifically, me - some local sights, we went to a branch of Da Miao Hot Pot (大妙 火锅) located inside the historic and touristy area of Jinli (锦里).  I guess hot pot is a must when one is in Chengdu...

Knowing a few of us can't handle the heat, we did the traditional double-flavored pot (鸳鸯锅). I mostly stuck to the non-spicy soup base, although I did enjoy dipping some of the ingredients into the mala (麻辣) side.

December 1, 2019

A classic Bordelais evening

Pin It

About two hours after landing in Hong Kong, I found myself back at the Grill Room of the Hong Kong Country Club... ready for another blind tasting with the MNSC boys.  After a weekend of dining in Singapore, I really couldn't care less about the food tonight.  Hell, I came for the wines!

The amuse bouche was crab meat and celeriac.

The sweetbreads were very milky, while the pickled fungus was crunchy and acidic.  There were some blue cheese flavors there somewhere...


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map