Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Best Crepes Ever at Breizh Cafe

As C boarded the homebound flight from CDG, I was looking for a casual place to eat solo and this creparie caught my attention. I remembered walking by a few Breizh Cafes while I was in Tokyo and didn't try, so I thought I might as well check it out when I am in Paris, especially realizing the cafe was actually only a short walk away from my AirBnB apartment. Little did I know they actually have more branches in Japan than they have in France these days.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last Dinner in Paris - Frenchie Bar à vins

Sometimes you just ended up with the most interesting situation when you are traveling solo. I was waiting outside Frenchie Bar a vins just before it opens, when the maitre d' asked whether I mind sharing the table with another solo traveler. "Well, sure", as I figured he would have shoved me there anyway even if I said no plus not that I got any other plan while I tried the food at this popular spot near to the trendy Rue Montorgueil in Paris' 2nd Arrondissement.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Another Evening in Milan; Another Pop-up Restaurant

It's already quite late when I finished the Italian Pavilion at the Milan Expo after an hour-long wait outside, so I thought it's time for dinner before heading back to town. Totally exhausted by all the walking and sweating under the sun, I was looking for somewhere comfortable that I could sit down and enjoy a quiet meal. Inside the Expo site, there are actually quite a number of restaurants offering something fancier than food hall-type of food, and I looked no further than Peck a Palazzo Italia located above the main exhibition of the Italian pavilion at the site known as Palazzo Italia.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lunch in a Paris Chateau

Saint James Paris didn't look like anything we would normally find in the middle of a city - a chateau in the secluded 16th Arrondissement, built in the late 19th Century by a wealthy widow in memory of her late husband, and at one time served as a student residence and even an airfield for hot-air balloon. Now it has become an exclusive members club, a Relais & Chateaux hotel and a Michelin-starred restaurant.  

During the day, the bar and restaurant are accessible only by club members and hotel guests for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, but we took advantage of the reciprocal benefit of our new club membership at home to make arrangement for lunch there on a Monday afternoon as guest members.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

More Kyoto Eats

With no fixed itinerary or specific places to go while we were in Kyoto, we found ourselves just stumbling across interesting places to eat even in between our regular meals. Here are the three of them.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

I thought part of the reason why our lunch at Dinner by Heston didn't fare as much as the hype was because it's overshadowed by our lunch at Ametsa the day before. Similar to Dinner which was backed by a chef who owned a Michelin 3-starred restaurant, behind Ametsa was Juan Mari and Elena Arzak, who owned the 3-starred Arzak in San Sebastian in the Basque Country (of Spain), which we had a chance to visit a few years back. This London outpost of theirs was rated as one-star in its own right in the latest Michelin guide.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Farm-to-table Dessert: Tarte Tatin

On my flight home from Milan, I carried with me a bunch of random food items - among them fruits and butter. I am not exactly sure whether I broke any law or regulations by this, but anyway they went home safely.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Meal in the City - Lunch at Club Gascon

With jetlag still lingering in our first couple of days in London, we decided to take it easy with our schedule and had lunch at Club Gascon, a small French restaurant close to where we stayed and after a morning when we split ways - me cycling by the river whilst C spent time at her London office (hey, c'est la vie)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Disappointment at Porte 12

For the 20 days I was away, I am blessed with many good meals in 2 continents, except a couple that I felt were a bit of a letdown. One of them was Porte 12, a relatively new restaurant in Paris' 10th arrondissement. I was a bit disappointed after having dinner there on the only night that we went for something fancier.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Going to Dinner for Lunch

We never had a chance to eat at a Heston Blumenthal restaurant before so this time in London, we made a reservation for lunch at Dinner by Heston, located at the Mandarin Oriental London just across the street from Harvey Nichols at Knightsbridge.

When the restaurant was first open a few years ago, it was quite an event, with everyone trying to score a table at this classy venue in London's prime district, the first branch by the talented Chef Heston outside of his Berkshire, Michelin-starred flagship restaurant Fat Duck. Nowadays it seems like the frenzy has subsided - we were able to get our lunch reservation a couple weeks in advance on the website, instead of the 6-month waitlist that was commonplace back then.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Kitchen Table London

When I first told people that we were heading to London in June, our foodie friend and long-time Londoner G suggested that we must try Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs owned by his friends, the husband-and-wife team of James Knappett and Sandia Chang. So despite the restaurant was completely booked up for the next 3 months when I checked online - certainly a good indication of how great the place is - I shot an email to Sandia, saying we would take any last-minute empty spots should they became available later on. After a few exchange of emails, luckily at the end someone made a cancellation a couple of weeks before we arrived and two seats became open, so without much hesitation, we took them and quickly re-adjust our schedule.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kaiseki Lunch at Gion Maruyama

We concluded our brief stay in Kyoto with lunch at a kaiseki restaurant called Gion Maruyama (祇園丸山), which came highly recommended by a few food loving friends of ours.

As we had a train to catch shortly after lunch, we did the unthinkable of dragging our suitcases cross the classy Hamamikoji-dori (花見小路通), a popular sightseeing street near Gion known for the common sight of geisha strolling past. There are actually two Maruyama restaurants, both owned by Chef Yoshio Maruyama and both awarded 2 Michelin stars, and the one we went was the honten, or the original branch, located just a couple blocks off Hamamikoji-dori inside an old traditional Japanese house.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Popular Choice for Tempura

We were caught into a bit of an awkward situation with the heavy rain pouring down as we got out of the taxi just outside Tempura Yasaka Endo (天ぷら八坂圓堂) in Kyoto on a Sunday evening. We slowly regained our composure as we were led through a narrow stone path into the tempura bar area housed in a traditional building, where two seats have already been reserved for us at the corner of the L-shaped counter.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Noryo-yuka Cuisine in Kyoto

Sitting on Noryo-yuka (納涼床) - the open-air riverside platform - is an unique way of dining in Kyoto available only in the summer season. As this is our first time coming to town during the hotter months, we were eager to experience this ourselves.

Though there are over 100 Noryo-yuka set up in Kyoto by restaurants and bars of all sort - from traditional Kyoto cuisine to western food to places to drink - they tend to get very popular among locals and tourists so we decided to make a reservation in advance at a restaurant near to where we were staying.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summertime Chicken Hotpot in Kyoto

With our flight schedule to touch down only in early morning at Osaka airport, we didn't make any specific plan for lunch in Kyoto on our first day, for fear of the possibility of a flight delay. Nonetheless, I did have a specific restaurant in mind - I just figure we would just try my luck walking in if all things went well.

Toriyasa (鳥彌三) is a 227-year-old Kyoto restaurant specialized in Tori no Mizudaki, or essentially chicken hotpot, now already in its 8th generation owner at the beautiful street of Kiyamachi by the Kamo river. We arrived at Kyoto right on schedule so after quickly settling in at our hotel near Sanjo, we made a leisurely stroll towards the riverside area where the restaurant is located.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Starstruck on July 4 - Massimo Bottura Dinner at Expo Milano

I was still a little bit over moon as I repeatedly reflect upon my dinner last week in Milan prepared by Chef Massimo Bottura and his team at the Expo Milano 2015, savoring every moment of what could be one of the most remarkable meals I have ever tasted.

My two and a half week journey across two continents came around at a rather unexpected circumstance with very hasty itinerary planning. I wasn't even planning to do any serious meals during my 4 days in my last stop of Milan, thinking I would just check out whatever they got at the Expo site and do a walk-in. Then a couple of weeks before the trip began, I learned about a special dinner being organized by the USA Pavilion featuring Chef Massimo in celebration of the Independence Day. Not only it coincidentally fell on the very Saturday that I was in town, ticket for the event was still available this late in the game, something highly unusual for such an occasion and publicity given the chef's fame. So all of a sudden, that dinner became the most anticipated activity on my itinerary.