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Food heaven on the upper floor.

Crawfish tail.

Crawfish tail.

After that currywurst kick-off at Bahnhof Zoo we ventured further for some window shopping, following the crowded streets all the way down to KaDeWe, which stands short for ‘Kauhaus des Westens’ (Department Store of the West). It’s quite a big store indeed with enough goods for a daylong shopping spree. We didn’t know yet what we were looking for here but it was neither perfumes nor fashion.

We took the escalators all the way up to the top with the intention of working our way through every section back down to street level. Once we arrived on the upper floor though we found an endless ‘food court’ (the fancy way) and a deli section, which should grasp our entire attention for the next two hours or so.

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Guo tie.

Being overwhelmed at first – I mean there was a whole section jam packed just with those awesome colorful fleur-du-sel-eggs – we spotted a Chinese food bar kind of place (‘Silverpagoda’) and deemed it an appropriate place to reset our intentions and just continue with our foodie adventure weekend right here, right now.

We had a serving of the xiao long bao and the guo tie, accompanied by a refreshingly chilled beer. The xiao long bao weren’t as crafty, thinly skinned and pretty but from a taste perspective, I was very happy with them, juicy and yum. The same goes for the thinner skinned guo tie that had a lovely crust at their bottom side. I have been away from Asia quite a while now so those, while not being perfect by any means, instantly hit my sweet spot (yes, that’s my tummy) and if they have had some julienne ginger soaking in their Chinese vinegar, this would’ve been even multiplied. Funny how the small things still matter.

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Xiao long bao.

We spend the following hour taking just one single round on this level full of goodness almost buying everything, ending up buying nothing, but one of the best window shopping sessions I have ever had nevertheless.

Eventually passing through a section of seafood restaurants in the higher price ranges made a craving for crustaceans crawl up on me and thankfully in the next section, just outside, were a couple of fish butcher type food stalls selling similar fair at slightly lower prices. I grabbed me a straight langoustine tail, with cocktail sauce and bubbles to close this fine experience. It was good and I felt classy.

I wouldn’t say that this was the best food I’ve ever had or that you’ve got to go out of your way to see this but if I’m in the area again in the future and feel a light hunger for nothing in particular, I might just come back all the way up here to get inspired and fed.

Get Your Grub On!

KaDeWe – Kaufhaus des Westens
Tauentzienstraße 21-24
10789 Berlin
Germany
p: +49 30 21210
https://www.kadewe.de/

 

Sabei, sabei.

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Pad Thai

On our never-ending quest to find good value Asian food we followed the pointer of one of my food-loving colleague-friends to Chang’s on Grünwälderstraße. They had exactly two tiny round tables out front and we were lucky enough to catch one of them.

For starters, I had their satay gha, two chicken tender skewers with a dry rub spice mix and a nutty jelat peanut dip. Slightly dry but very tasty and good starting.

Next up were pad thai and fried duck in a savoury spicy sauce with chili, thai basil and vegetables. The duck was lovely crispy but still had a thin and jiggly fat layer sitting underneath that scrumptious skin. Sauce and vegetables were delicious with a good, yet not too unique taste to them. That pad thai though, it was, I’m not sure how to say it any other way but AWESOME! This was probably the best version of pad thai I had around here and since this is one of M.’s favorite noodle dishes we had quite a few. It had the right balance of tamarind, prawns were great and there was that certain tang. Loved it.

Get Your Grub On!

Chang Thaiküche
Grünwälderstraße 21
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 1379 684
http://chang-thaikueche.de/

Sawadee-khrup.

[1] Beef bowl with lean beef, meatball, veal tongue and liver.

[1] Beef bowl with lean beef, meatball, veal tongue and liver.

This week’s most anticipated event for me was the opening of Chada Thai’s new noodle shop at Rempartstraße. Even after a few years in Asia, I couldn’t really make out what Thai noodle soups would be like but yesterday was the day I should find out.

We were planning to go with a bigger group but one colleague and I were held up by a spontaneous hall meeting and so the two of us followed the rest with a few minutes delay. Arriving at the shop we spotted our group with no free seats anywhere close to them or anywhere period. No choice but parking our behinds on the comfy waiting benches and hope for some fast noodle slurpers.

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Seafood and beef bowl.

Not long though and we were sitting at our table, ordering food and making ourselves familiar with the multitude of condiments on the table – chilli in vinegar, chilli flakes, sugar (??) and nuts.

My colleague ordered the seafood bowl, which was a heaty tom yam broth, filled with all sorts of water goodies like mussels, prawns, squid, salmon and fishballs. One to remember for my next visit but I just had to go for the beef bowl with all available add-ons, which meant that it was stacked generously with soft pieces of lean meat, veal liver and tongue as well as a bouncy meatball, whose texture took me back to those yong tau foo stalls in Singapore. My favourite meaty ingredient was the liver but the tongue definitely won the contest for most intriguing consistency and bite. The soup itself was tasty strong with hints of that sweet and sourness, typical for beef broth, and the noodles were just right. All in all a delicious bowl, that I’m happy to have so close by.

 

 

So the food was great, that I didn’t even mind the ten bucks I had to leave at the counter here, and I hope that Freiburg will appreciate having such an authentic (oh gosh, I hate using that word) shop around with the friendliest of people serving up some truly great stuff.

Get Your Grub On!

Chada Thai Nudelsuppe
Rempartstraße 5
79098 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p:
http://www.chadathai.de/

 

‘Flotter Dreier’ in Elzach.

Duck breast with mash and broccoli.

Duck breast with mash, broccoli and jus.

I had friends raving to me about this place forever now and so when last week two of them asked M. and me to join them for a double date we instantly were game. The day of choice was Thursday, which by chance was also the day of their weekly ‘Flotter Dreier’ promotion. While in German this has a rather suggestive meaning, here it describes a triple course surprise dinner with a choice of meat, fish or a combination of both, paired with a selection of regional wines.

 

 

I chose meat for all my courses and my entrée turned out to be a brilliant trio of chunky deer tartar, carpaccio of the same and some field salad with candied walnuts and kracherle (badisch for croutons). The tartar wasn’t that gamey but had a distinct texture that wasn’t entirely pleasant but more of the intriguing kind. Paired with the more dominant fried caper fruit (not sure if that’s the actual word) and the crispy bread splinter this was just on spot. The carpaccio seemed more intense but still light and fresh as raw things should be and the playful combination with the sweetish coated nuts was simply lovely. Great kick-off to the evening. [Wine pairing: Grauburgunder (Salwey | Oberrottweil)]

 

 

My main was a beautiful duck breast, perfectly broiled to a deep rose, with crispy skin on the outside and all the important juices locked in. The mash and broccoli where solid supporting acts but the true star was definitely the duck. [Wine pairing: Cuvée (Landerer | Vogtsburg)]

I also got a little taste of the second main option of pan-fried pikeperch, a glossy scallop and the best cream cabbage that I’ve ever had. The latter was warm and cooked but still kept that typical crunch alive and kicking, almost on the edge of raw. I don’t know how they did this but I was genuinely amazed.

 

 

The finishing moves were performed by this extremely capable trio of sweetness. My favourite must have been the lardy caramel mousse, closely followed by the mixed fruit sherbet which showed some strong apricot tendencies. [Wine pairing: Scheurebe (Weishaar | Kaiserstuhl)]

I have been swept off my feet by tonight’s food and service. The ambience is comfortably classy, not detached or posh and also not as rustic as I had initially expected, very easy and convenient to settle in. Big kudos on the wine pairing too. All being great wines, every glass suited the corresponding dish optimally and the only regret I have is forgetting to note down the Riesling pairing of the fish main.

I’d love to come here every Thursday from now on, and if the use of great regional produce, skillfully orchestrated and prepared isn’t enough, it is the absolute steal at Eur33,00 all in that just makes this a major no-brainer. I’m bowing respectfully with many thanks to all involved.

Get Your Grub On!

Gasthaus Rössle
Hauptstraße 19
79215 Elzach
Germany
p: +49 7682 212
http://www.roessleelzach.de/

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 35.75, Da Bao

Peking Duck Bao

Peking Duck Bao

I had such big plans for my last meal in Düsseldorf but there were just a few too many gin tonics between me and my bed (my friend’s sofa) last night so I kinda overslept a bit. Rushing towards the train station I already saw myself wolfing down some greasy maccas burgers just when we passed an Asian convenience store that had a tiny food section out ifront. Swiftly scanning the menu I instantly knew that maccas could suck it.

I didn’t have enough time to really go overboard here so I ordered the one item I deemed the most delicious, the Peking Duck Bao. I did get it for takeout (da bao) so I was only able to enjoy it when I was already in my seat while the train started pulling out of the station. This thing was the bomb. The bao was perfectly made, fluffy but solid and the roasted duck, succulent and sweet from that plum sauce with fresh cilantro biting through with a pleasant menthol sharpness. The small greens aside were dressed in tasty sesame sauce and I made an absolute mess eating it cause I had missed grabbing some plastic cutlery at the shop. Thankfully I was all by myself in the little quite chamber at the end of the train, belly full of bao and duck and face and fingers full of sticky sesame and plum sauce. What a nice finish to an otherwise awesome short stay. See you soon Düsseldorf, I think I love you.

Get Your Grub On!

Tains – Mein-Asiamarkt
Immermannstraße 50-52
40210 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 9173 6415
http://www.mein-asiamarkt.de/

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 1, Tantan

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Tantanmen

I haven’t been out to Düsseldorf enough and always only heard what insane food paradise in regards to Japanese cuisine it’s supposed to be. Since being so close this week I decided to make a stopover and visit a very fun friend of mine, who just happens to live right in the midst of Little Tokyo, the area neighbouring the Düsseldorf main train station, which is home to many Asian (predominantly Japanese) shops, restaurants and people.

After dropping my stuff at the apartment and throwing in a quick cold one with my friend and his brother we headed around the corner to get some dinner at one of the ramen shops in the area. To my delight, there was a queue out front, which is always a good sign, and luckily it kept on moving quite fast too. Not long and we were sitting down and I started smiling just browsing through the menu.

We had a little selection of appetizers to go around before the mains and we were off to a good start. We had crispy and succulent tori karaage, some juicy gyoza and nutty gomaae with a thick sesame gravy. All washed down with a cool asahi from the tap and I, still smiling, was ready for my first ramen bowl since way too long.

My sin of choice was a spicy Tantanmen with extra f.o.c. tamago and veggies. Oh goodness, this mince infused broth was thick and rich like a gooey katong laksa with a mud-like sediment of the best kind. Strong sesame flavours my taste buds, instantly but gently numbed by the chilli oil and fibres. Loved the noodles, implied curly and the chewy bouncy kind I use to admire. Just the egg didn’t quite make the mark and was lacking that particular waxiness of your usual flavoured ramen tamago. Nevermind that, I’m head over heels crazy about this place and am already planning my next visit.

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Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

Sabai Sabai in Herdern!

IMG_20170712_182937-2We had kind of an Asian food streak this week so it just made sense to throw in a little Thai spree as well.  Luckily we made it here early as this outlet is always (always) booked out and so today they still had some terrace seats left for us walk-ins.

 

We began with a refreshing yet tooth-dissolvingly-sweet Thai ice tea and quickly moved onto the appetizer section. We didn’t go for that kohlrabi Som Tam this time again but instead tried out the crunchy vegetarian summer rolls (Po Pia Sod | EUR4.90) with sweet hoisin sauce and a tard peanut chili dip. Furthermore, the chicken satay (Sate Gai | EUR5.90) wasn’t too shabby either, lean chicken breast nicely spiced and fried with a Thai curry peanut dip and genius pickled spicy cucumber, chili, and onion.

 

 

My main was, what a friend so fittingly calls ‘Ente Kross’, which pretty much translates to ‘roasted duck’. The dish (Ped Pad Gaprau | EUR15.90) was quite different from the picture of my imagination since I had ordered a version with Thai basil and chili and expected something more similar to ‘Phat Kaphrao’. Despite the different look, this was a fine dish with a strong fragrance coming from the basil and enough chili to press a few sweat drops from my forehead. M. had Gung Schuschi (EUR15.90), prawns in a red coconut curry served in a whole coconut loaded with vegetables. The prawns were nicely cleaned and fresh and it all had a mild but quite present heat to it. Both went perfectly well with the fragrant rice and brought back some delicious memories.

Although Thai is not necessarily my most missed Asian cuisine, I’m glad to have a place around with people that know what they’re doing and who are dishing up pretty tasty and authentic stuff with a smile on their faces and a kind word for every guest coming in. Oh, and by the way, they have a second branch out in Malteringen. Khob-khun-krab.

Get Your Grub On!

Chada Thai (Freiburg Branch)
Richard-Wagner-Str. 24
79104 Freiburg im Breisgau
Germany
p: +49 761 8815 7905
http://www.chadathai.de/

Momofuku Tour – Part 2.

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Cold Beef Ramen (Seasonal Special)

After our delicious fried-chicken-sandwich-stopover at Fuku we went just a few doors down to Momofuku Noodle Bar to have some of those tasty sounding chashu buns, our friends had been raving about while eating their crispy chicken; I love these foodies. Unfortunately, they were just about to close for their afternoon break before dinner service so we checked, when they’ll be open again and went for a little bar in the area to bridge the waiting time with some happy hour drinks. We were back at the door like 20-30minutes after they had re-opened and the place was already full and bustling with people. I must say, I came here with high hopes but very low expectations. You never really know how these hyped places turn out to be. So let’s see.

We started with a couple of beers, a few glasses of sake and some dishes to share. The spicy cucumbers were nicely done and slightly different from how I know them. Someone smashed the hell out of them and they seemed a little bit fermented, covered in that red Japanese chili pepper mix (togarashi) and some crushed almonds. Pretty nice actually. The chashu buns, the actual reason we came here for, were great. Finally, someone got that meat to bun ratio right. Two thick slices of beautifully and soft pork belly with some crunchy lightly cured cucumbers and a sticky hoisin sauce. That’s the stuff and I still regret not having tried the brisket buns too. Then came the first real surprise of the evening. I was wondering why my friend had ordered the rice cakes here and reckoned it would just take up unnecessary space in my stomach, that was reserved for that big bowl of ramen we had coming but oh my gawd, I’ll be eternally thankful to him for doing that. I don’t know how they created this texture, fry or maybe pan fry them until literally rice-crispy-crisp on the outside and teeth-sticking chewy on the inside. Then they all lay around in an absolutely insane and hard-to-define cream sauce, that was wonderfully savoury with a sweetish touch, that reminded me a bit of okonimyaki sauce. I really have to work on my palette again to become better in identifying single flavours, but for now, it was good enough for me just eating and enjoying that amazing dish. The kitchen had added even more layers of texture and flavor by sprinkling scallions, bonito flakes and tobiko over it all. The only ingredient I was indifferent about was the chicken. Anyhow, best rice cakes ever.

After this, my low expectations rose into the sky and thankfully I had the best yet coming. For the bowl, I ordered one of their seasonal summer items, a cold beef ramen dish that sounded just right for a hot day like today. The looks instantly brought back memories of Matador, with its’ perfectly rose slices of roasted beef. The meat was delicious just a bit hard to bite off from, so I ended up eating it by slice and mouthfuls. Not that I cared. The chilled or rather cold broth was light with some citrusy flavors like yuzu or ponzu. This was so refreshing that I would have actually preferred to take it outside to the street and eat it in the warm summer sun. The noodles had proper bite and bounce that reminded me of Korean Naengmyeon not only because that’s a cold dish too. Just the egg, however perfectly made, somehow felt a bit out of place to me. I loved everything about this, the unique aromas and the innovative approach of taking something traditional and transforming it into something entirely new without losing the slightest bit of awesomeness. A dish definitely in my top 3 for the year and one that makes me want to live here and see what else they come up with next.

To the Noodle Bar itself, it’s a rather simplistic and minimalist setup, with light colored wood and mainly long sharing tables, like a bar exactly. On our table getting in and out of my seat was a bit of a hassle though, climbing over other people’s bags and stuff and I also found it a bit too cold inside (having a coolish dish as well). This places is crowded and the air is bustling of chatter from a cool mixed crowd hanging around before heading out to town. Thankfully there are many more Momofuku shops and concepts for me to try out during my next trip to New York but this one’s a definite keeper. Thanks, your food made me smile today.

Get Your Grub On!

Momofuku Noodles Bar (open ever day)
171 First Avenue
New York
NY 10003
United States of America
http://momofuku.com/new-york/noodle-bar/

Get my spice on – Chapter 1

imageUsually when I’m on the People’s Park side of Chinatown I tend to get me some of that delicious intestine burning Mala Dry Pot, but this time I finally chose to try the little unconspicious Chinese stall outside the food center, which offers an interesting variety of spicy noodles.

I have no clue what this bowl was actually called but they used the thick round glass noodles and some minced pork in it. The fat noodles were super long and awesome slippery with a good chew and the the chili oil, meat and spices clinged perfectly onto them, which made every slurp crazy flavorful. The mince, coriander, peanuts and Sichuan peppers made this a brilliant and enjoyable dish that was at the same time pretty fun as well as fairly unpleasant to eat from the moment the first chili hit a sensitive spot.

I’m glad I finally tried it out and am happy they have a good handful of other similar dishes, deviating mainly by the type of noodles used and I’m sure that all of them are capable of giving me a similar kind of stomach growl as this one. Can’t wait for lip numbing round two.

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Chong Qing Xiao Chi 重庆小吃 (Chong Qing Snacks)
Concourse Area (People’s Park)
100 Upper Cross Street

Quick fix Cantonese.

imageI had organized a training in Bangkok and had to stay behind at the office a little longer one night after the session had finished. When I was back at the hotel I just wanted to grab something quick before catching up with everyone for a few drinks next door. I ventured for the Kowloon restaurant in the basement, that I had recognized before, thinking some noodles and dumplings would just do fine.

As foreseen I ordered some Xiao Long Bao, the Beef Noodle Soup and the Fried Tofu not knowing that it would be quite a challenge finishing all of it by myself. The soup was first and the broth tasted pretty good and interesting due to some pinches of cinnamon, which I only knew from Vietnamese pho. The noodles though were nothing too mentionable and mushy but the beef, if I found a piece between the masses of fat and tendon, was actually nicely braised and soft.

imageTo my surprise the Xiao Long Bao were quite great. Looking unpretentiously ugly and with very little, yet tasty soup within, the best part about them was the deliciously fine and juicy mince. Some proper feel good food.

imageI was already pretty stuffed from the noodles and the big buns when finally the fried tofu arrived, not a too shabby portion by itself. The blocks of silky tofu had a light crisp coating without any apparent flavor but thankfully that gooey sauce managed to add some lightly intriguing sweetness to it all. I would have preferred this in between my slurps of soup or after a dumpling here and there but all six beancurd bricks in a row was a rather boring occasion.

Nothing I would be craving for but I was glad I finally tried it. I might even be coming back another night when wandering off too far seems troublesome. Beer time now.

Kowloon 九龍 (เกาลูน)
981 Silom Rd. (at Holiday Inn Silom)
Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500
Thailand
Tel: +66 2 238 0370
http://www.kowloon-chinese-restaurant.com/

Mango & Amazeballs.

imageAfter a very questionable fish head steamboat dinner my friends took me down Liang Seah Street for some Asian dessert. At first I wasn’t too excited but boy was I up for a surprise. This place was awesome and had a pretty similar menu to Lui Hau Shan which I learned to love so much during my last trip to Hong Kong. I was already ecstatic but the absolute kicker was that here one could order as many of those off the hook squishy glutinous rice balls as wanted. Oh yeah.

I had the works; mango mousse, mango ice cream, sago, pomelo and a batch of seven awesome squishy balls. It tasted great, maybe not as great as its’ prettier Hongkongese twin but surely great enough to make me just a little happier. Cooling, fruity, not too sweet with some bitter pomelo popsicles and heapz of textures going on as well – moussy, creamy and chewy. I reckon they could’ve dropped the crushed iceberg floating in the middle, which was always in the way but I guess when you’re in the tropics you have to keep stuff cool, so no hard feelings.

It was ridiculous and I was so happy to have finally found a place like this in Singapore. And obviously I wasn’t alone as it was bustling down here with a constant crowd waiting on the street for a slot to open up. It was so busy that a while after we had finished our desserts, chatting away, the staff kindly asked us to give up our seats so the next round of customers could get their sweets on. Absolutely loved it.

Ji De Chi Dessert 记得吃
No. 8 Liang Seah Street
#01-03
Singapore 189022
Tel: +65 6339 9928
http://www.jidechi.com.sg/

It’s grey at the bottom of the rainbow.

imageLunchtime again and we still didn’t feel like a salad or anything else remotely light and so went back to Paradise Dynasty which I like so much nowadays. We continued sampling new Xiao Long Bao flavors from their rainbow palette and today’s choice fell on the garlic type. It didn’t look very pretty to be honest, all grey, somehow nearly metallic and also the taste wasn’t my favourite of all times. I’m generally a garlic lover and at first it even tasted interesting enough to catch my curiosity but at the second bao I was already over it. It was just too overwhelming with too many raw-ish garlic chunks in the meat mix.

imageAs I had their awesome Spicy Dumpling Noodles already a couple of times I finally brought myself to ordering the Dan Dan Mian, that caught my attention during an earlier visit. At first it seemed a little thin and soupy but when I gave it a proper mix it got nicely thick. Noodles were, as often, too soft for my preference but the other flavors worked fairly nice together, all sesame and creamy. Overall the aroma of this thing was rather light and lacked a bit of depth but probably some fresh leafs of coriander and a couple of drops of fiery chili oil could change that for the better. Well, not an eye opener this time but still on my list of very solid lunch options.

Paradise Dynasty 乐天皇朝
3 Gateway Drive
#02-13/14 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9271
http://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/

It’s been a very lao time.

imageIt felt like a hundred years that I had been to ‘Lao Beijing’ but tonight I wanted to refresh my memory big time and went berserk on their menu. I spotted ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (小笼汤包) so it came naturally to start with those favourite little steamers. Not being the prettiest of its’ kind, they were quite nice, had thin skin and a generous slurp of soup in ’em but neither the meat nor the broth had a too distinguished flavour.

imageDumpling time wasn’t over just yet so we had a round of awesome ‘Pork & Cabbage Jiao Zi‘ (boiled). The cool thing here was the cabbage, not very common and tasted great together with the fine meat mass. Aside another regular on my orders, some crunchy and slightly spicy, delicious garlic cucumbers.

imageOver to the noodles some ‘Beijing Style Zhang Jian Mian‘ (老北京炸酱面) came our way. The noodles were soft and and thin and the whole thing tasted nice refreshing with all those chopped scallions but wasn’t really like a bean sauce but more like a lightish bolognese, nonetheless good.

imageAlso the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ was more an interpretation of the bowl I like so much. Nearly a clear broth with some minced meat and chives taking a swim in it. No sesame, no peanuts, no gooey creaminess made this not really extra special but still tasty enough to give it a like.

Even though the food was not sweeping me off my feet, it was still tasteful and delicious maybe with a slight setback caused by their  modifications on my old time favourites. It’s quite a busy and bustling place at peak hours in a bit of a warmer setting than the usual dim sum restaurants and surely has some decent dishes to offer. I might come back to try their high tea buffet as even though I’m not a big fan of such, ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ free flow doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Lao Beijing 老北京食堂
238 Thomson Road
#02-11/12 Velocity@Novena Square
Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
http://www.laobeijing.com.sg/

Breaking News: Zhong Guo opens 2nd outlet!

imagePeople living around Bukit Merah can consider themselves lucky as ‘Zhong Guo‘ just opened a new outlet at Bukit Merah Food Center. The menu is the same as the one at the Chinatown Complex Food Center outlet so it’s still all about noodles and dumplings. Enjoy, enjoy!

Ballsy Xiao Long Bao in Da’an.

imageMy food fanatic friend A. recommended this place to me that he found during his last Taiwan trip and tonight a colleague helped me hunt it down just across the street from the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall in Da’an. ‘Hang Zhou’s’ is quite a rustic place with low tables and tiny chairs and still had many customers enjoying their dinner here, despite the late hour we arrived.

We started up with the signature dish, the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (小籠湯包). These  were gigantic huge dumplings but tasted quite nice; the dough was a bit thick though and I had better soups as well but overall pretty good and dirt cheap too and I especially liked the big help-yourself-bucket of finely chopped ginger which I loaded up on heavily. The second basket were the ‘Shrimp Shiaomai‘ (蝦仁燒賣) and these were even bigger, maybe even too big and again this fusion of soupy xiao long bao topped with a shrimp which suits me much better than the  shao mai dim sum versions I had before.

imageAs little contrast to all those enormous dumplings we ordered the ‘Marinated Beef Rolls‘ (大餅卷牛肉) which reminded me of a creative adaption of peking duck. They were delicious, slightly dry tenderloin rolled in crispy pancakes, together with some crunchy cucumbers and onions and glazed with a sweetish plum sauce. Actually it was exactly like peking duck, just with beef, ‘Peking Beef‘ so to speak?

Even though I found it quite ballsy of these guys to call the website of their shop “thebestxiaolongbao.com“, I still kinda liked the place – unpretentious, a bit dirty and service along the bare minimum but none in an overly bothering way and most importantly the food was tasty and cheap as well. Thanks for the recommendation dude.

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Hang Zhou Xiao Long Bao 杭州小籠湯包
No.17, Section 2, Hángzhōu South Road
Da’an District
Taipei 106
Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 2393 1757
http://www.thebestxiaolongbao.com

Nothing beats the original.

imageI wasn’t too excited when my colleagues planned on taking me out to ‘Din Tai Fung’ as I did have it quite often before and rather wanted to try things I couldn’t get in Singapore instead. But the table was booked and of course I didn’t want to complain being treated for dinner and so lovely colleagues brought me to SOGO to enjoy some dumplings and noodles.

I was stunned and surprised as the food here was just so much better than in the outlets in Singapore. The ‘Spicy Wonton‘ were amazing, the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ simply perfect in taste and appearance and the ‘Shiao Mai‘ were much more like xiao long bao themselves, soupy goodness topped with a shrimp and actually the first version that I truly enjoyed. As dessert we ordered the steamed ‘Tapioca Dumplings‘ which I wasn’t really looking forward to but another surprise, they were pretty darn delicious, heavy and stuffing but delicious and not too sweet either. Thanks for a great evening and maybe I’ll suggest a refresher training for the Singapore branches once I’m back.

Din  Tai Fung 鼎泰豐
B2 Fuxing SOGO Department Store
No. 300, Sec. 3 Zhongxiao East Road
Da’an District
Taipei 10654
Taiwan
Tel: +886 2 8772 0528
http://www.dintaifung.com.tw/

Everyone deserves a second chance.

imageI was at a ‘Paradise Dynasty’ restaurant before and remembered that I wasn’t too impressed with it but my hungry colleagues simply overruled all my suggestions and was I glad they did.

The ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ had super thin skin, pumped up with soupy porkness, not too strong, very delicate actually. We also had a red colored sichuan version that kicked in nicely and was in fact quite blazing and tongue numbing.

imageMy very own personal dish was an awesome bowl of ‘Spicy Dumpling Noodles‘ which was stuffed with springy mian and delicious soft jiao zi, sprinkled with fresh cilantro and spring onions, all drenched in a super nice soya-chili-oil-mix together with some more of that bad ass sichuan pepper. Not overdone and still highly enjoyable, really a great dish.

I was glad we ended up here and in the future I will not give up on a place so fast just because of one disappointing meal. I’ll have this again.

Paradise Dynasty 乐天皇朝
3 Gateway Drive
#02-13/14 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9271
http://www.paradisegroup.com.sg/

There’s still hope.

imageI was back home for hardly one week and even though it was just for a couple of days I already craved some Asian food. Doing a bit of research online brought us to ‘coa’ (cuisine of asia) in central Stuttgart. At first I was pretty sceptical about this place as it offered a big mix of dishes from Vietnam, Thailand, India, China etc. and I would have felt better if they were specialized in just one type of cuisine but now we were here already, so what?

We had some Vietnamese ‘Summer Rolls‘ which were quite tasty actually but I didn’t really get the fact that they just served the ingredients and we had to assemble them ourselves, one of those weird “food experiences” I suppose. We also had the ‘Shao Mai‘ which I didn’t like but then, I never really do. As main we both ordered their ‘Pho‘ and I had ankle-height-low expectations that this was going to be any good. What a nice surprise it was then when it turned out being pretty delicious. The broth was super good, full of that cinnamon I miss so often and there were many herbs like coriander floating around in it too. The noodles weren’t anything too fancy but the meat was softly tender and super lean.

They messed up our orders a couple of times so we had to wait quite a while for our food but the staff handled the situation fairly clever by throwing in some free espressi at the end of our meal. Generally I must say though that eating here actually made me pretty happy. It was probably not the best pho I have ever had but it can easily keep up and even outdo some of the bowls I tried in Singapore and it’s always fantastic to find some decent Asian grub in good old Germany. I’ll remember this one.

coa – cuisine of asia
Lautenschlagerstr. 23
70173 Stuttgart
Germany
Tel: +49 (0)711 2184 2566
http://www.coa.as/

What’s up with all the ‘Expresses’?

imageWalking around the foot outlet cramped basement arcade connecting Mid Valley and the Gardens Mall seeking for some dinner inspiration gave us a severe case of sensory overload. We were tired and couldn’t really make up our mind and since my friend just wanted something light and healthy we ended up at ‘Zun Express’ a Chinese herbal soup place. The ‘Ginseng Herbal Chicken Soup‘ I had was actually pretty good, I mean it was just boring chicken soup but seemed to be perfect when you’re down with the flu or something; strengthening I guess and the little chicken meat that was in there was tender and tasted ok. All in all this wasn’t a very filling experience and I skipped the rest of the non soupy dishes on the menu because despite them all being called healthy, 99% also had the word “fried” in their description. Let’s just say I was happy there was a ‘Hui Lau Shan‘ just around the corner to fill up the leftover space with awesome moussy mango.

The Zun Express 尊厨
Lingkaran Syed Putra
The Gardens Mall
Lot LG-231, Lower Ground Floor
59200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia

Refuelling awesomeness.

imageOh man I missed this place and finally I made it back here on a day they were actually making their beautiful noodles. I was psyched and first up I had to have the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ or ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodles‘ how it says on the board. The noodles were freshly handmade and nice and soft, maybe a bit too soft. The gravy was insane, just mildly spicy but enough to squeeze some drops of sweat out the back of my head, thick and rich and full of peanut sesame flavour. The savoury pork mince on top together with some crushed peanuts, fresh chives and cilantro finished the job just nicely.

imageI was already pretty filled up but not finished just yet as I also wanted to finally try their ‘Zha Jiang Mian‘. The bowl was loaded with freshly thin shredded spring onion and cucumbers sitting on beautifully thick and gooey minced meat soya bean sauce that was lukewarm and made this a great dish for the tropical heat today. I know this all sounds like raving and exaggerating but I really think it’s that darn good, M. this one’s for you.

image

Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包
335 Smith Street
#02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center
Singapore 050335