Saturday, August 29, 2015

Staying and Dining in a Milan Farmhouse

With my 3-day itinerary in Milan focusing solely on the Expo, and that the Expo's theme is on food and culture, I just thought it's appropriate that I stayed in a place which was somewhat related along that line. Un Posto a Milano, which literally means "a place in Milan", was housed in a 17th Century farmhouse which has now been converted into a combination of hostel, bar and restaurant, community space and urban farm, which sounded just perfect for me as a weekend accommodation choice. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Newest Thai Restaurant in Town

We normally would wait at least a couple of months before trying any new restaurants, because just like cars, we believe restaurants do need some time to run in to perform at the right level - menu is to be revised and refined, front staff to be trained, and kitchen team to bond and get on the same page with one another. But this time we decided to take a chance with this new restaurant that's not even officially opened because I am curious enough to defy our "unwritten rule" for this one time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Food Crawl in Omotesando

Over the past few months a number of new restaurants have opened up near the shopping district of Omotesando, which justified my spending one afternoon just to do some serious food crawling in the area.

Monday, August 24, 2015

In Search of an Antique Gallery

Four years ago we stumbled across an interesting antique shop in Kyoto by chance. The storefront looked unassuming from outside, with a few ceramic items on display from the window, but once we stepped inside, it's like we found a land of treasure, with a fine collection of vintage kitchenware and drinkware all in excellent condition and reasonably priced.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Yakitori at a Sake Brewery

The neighborhood of Fushimi (伏見), about 15 minutes away by local train from Kyoto, was known as one of the oldest sake-brewing region in the country, partly because of the proximity to the former capital and also because of the great quality of water that flow through the area, providing the perfect key ingredient for brewing. And I was here one evening not only for some sake tasting, and for a serious chicken feast at an izakaya which was actually part of the brewery.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Early Morning at Tsukiji Fish Market

A couple months ago just as I was planning my itinerary for the multiple trips to multiple destination, I suddenly realized it's been a long while since I went to Tsukiji Fish Market and that this might be the last chance to go before the market's moved further away from the city some time next year. So I tweaked my itinerary a little bit by adding an additional stop in Tokyo at the end of my second Japan journey.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For the Slightly Adventurous Minds

We were looking for a casual place to meet up with some friends, and St John Bread and Wine came to mind, for it's only a short hop away on the tube for all of us.

The restaurant - an offshoot of Fergus Henderson's Michelin-starred St John - is right across the street from the hip and trendy Spitalfields Market. The bright and minimally-decorated dining room was already filled with people eating and drinking when we arrived in the early evening and staff inside the open kitchen at the far end was in full action cooking and plating.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sushi Lunch on My Splurge Day

I decided to splurge a bit on food on my last day in Tokyo, starting with lunch at Sushi-ya, a secluded, 8-seater restaurant in Ginza. I was eager to give this a try since a few of my friends went and liked the food there.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Very Best Dinner at Tempura Fukamachi

I was surprised when I realized how long it has been since I last visited Tempura Fukamachi. Over the years I had the opportunity to check out a few tempura outlets around Tokyo, and so far Fukamachi was the one I love most. And therefore I felt obligated to come back this time when I was in Tokyo, even if that meant I need to change my schedule to fit the dinner in.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quick Thought on Expo Milano

Recently at his daily column on Apple Daily, a local Chinese newspaper, a lifestyle writer lamented the time "wasted" at the Expo Milano, questioning the purpose of the fair when all the knowledge can now be found online these days, saying that the Expo is "boring" and just like another "agricultural exhibition". Poor him, and I wonder whether he has given up on traveling altogether since the world can also be seen with a few clicks on Google Map as well. I couldn't help but rolling my eyes when I read the column.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back to Basics at Benoit Paris

One weekday afternoon when I was in Paris I decided to have lunch at Benoit, a classic bistro in La Rive Droite, just a quick 20 minute walk down rue St Martin, on the same street where I was staying. From outside it looked just like any other restaurant in this area popular with tourists (with Notre Dame and Centre Pompidou only a few steps away); well, except this 100-year-old restaurant has a Michelin star, with branches now in New York and Tokyo as part of Alain Ducasse's restaurant empire.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Flying Dragon's Head

The other day a friend of ours passed us a giant wax gourd grown from her garden. Wax gourd, aka Togan in Japanese, is a common ingredient for dishes in the summer in both Chinese and Japanese cuisine (despite in Chinese it's literally known as Winter Melon, or 冬瓜). According to Chinese tradition, it's known for its cooling and detoxifying effect, and to counter the summer humidity.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Exploring Local Markets (Part 2: Paris and Milan)

(Continued from the previous post)

Shopping in Paris. Okay, I know what you are thinking. Yes we did spent some quality time at Galleries Lafayette and Printemps, fighting shoulder to shoulder with fellow Asian shoppers parading through the department stores with their bags and luggage during the sale season, but what I wanted to say was another kind of shopping - buying cookware and food.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Homecoming Dim Sum at Lung King Heen

I thought the timing was just perfect for an invitation for lunch at Lung King Heen at The Four Seasons, for my first proper meal after returning home from a week-long Japan trip. I know I always crave for good old Chinese food after being away, plus it really has been a while since I last ate here, so this is just great.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Exploring Local Markets (Part 1: Kyoto and London)

For us, part of the fun when traveling was to check out the local markets and explore the different ingredients available in different countries. Through that you learned so much more about their cuisine and culture and had a glimpse of the lives of the locals, so much more than going through museums or eating at the finest restaurants.

This time we didn't spend enough time in each place to really settle and cook, still we had a good time walking through aisles, going around stalls by stalls, admiring the fresh produce offered, and in some case, buying some and carrying them home whichever possible.

Let's start with our first two stops, with 2 iconic markets which serve locals for their daily grocery shopping needs, and tourists for their sightseeing experience.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Pretty Average Kaiseki Dinner

I succumbed to my Japanese food craving to squeeze in a meal at Nadaman, in between my two trips to Japan in quick succession. It's not my first visit to the restaurant, located on the second floor of the Island Shangri-la Hotel, but if I remembered correctly, only the first time I was here for dinner. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

At a Closing Restaurant

I caught the opportunity to eat at Bones before the restaurant closes for good in August because I heard good things about the restaurant and Chef James Henry's food. Plus I thought it would be the kind of casual place it won't feel awkward dining alone.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Feast in a Rustic Bistro

Chez L'Ami Jean was often quoted as a prime example of one can dine well in a restaurant in Paris without the bestowment of a Michelin star and without breaking the bank. And we went there for lunch on another sunny, super hot afternoon.