Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ramen in Taipei

Everyone has certain dishes that always bring them immediate comfort and satisfaction. For me, that's in a great bowl of ramen. But, when the bowl is below average or even average, I don't get those same feelings. I need that ramen to be above average - creamy tonkotsu broth or a rich miso broth with noodles that are cooked to the perfect chew. Instant comfort and happiness with every bite, drink, or slurp.

Taipei is a city filled with Japanese influence, especially in the restaurant scene. So when I walked by a ramen restaurant with pictures of tempting chasu shoyu tonkotsu ramen (soy sauce-pork bone broth ramen with pork belly), I had to try this place out.

Ramen Sanji at the new ATT4Fun mall in Taipei's Xin Yi district attracts long lines of hungry ramen fans. So this had to be a good place, right?

It was just slightly above average for me. Better than places I've so far tried here in Manila, but not as good as my favorite ramen joints in the states.

The broth was on the oily side and didn't pack the creaminess I was expecting from a tonkotsu broth. The chasu was decent but not as melt in your mouth. The noodles, however, were a standout. They had that nice chewy, al dente bite.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Ramen ATT4fun

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Local Taiwanese in Taipei

Travel global, eat local. Aside from traveling to see architecture, history, and culture, I travel to eat. Wherever you go, the best food you can taste is the local food. Authenticity at its core.

It wasn't until the past 2 years of Asian traveling that I really discovered the true tastes of these Asian cuisines. There are numerous restaurants and talents around the world that make these cuisines authentic. But, to savor the dishes in its homeland is the true experience.

Taipei quickly became and remains one of my favorite food cities. Local eats, Japanese, bakeries... it's too easy to gain weight in a single day.

Whenever you visit Taipei, you must fulfill 2 requirements: local food and Din Tai Fung.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Local Taiwanese

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Delayed in Hong Kong. Thank goodness for Cathay Pacific's lounge!

Flight delays are a real pain. I just want to get to my destination city or settle in at home.

But, if I had to be delayed anywhere, Hong Kong International Airport is not at all a bad place to spend idle time waiting, and waiting.

And, it helps (a lot) that I chill out at the Cathay Pacific Lounges. All are renovated - meaning, clean bathrooms and showers.

The food and drinks (yes, even alcohol) are free flowing. So getting delayed during dinner time was not a bad thing at all, especially since Cathay airplane food isn't as good as it used to be..

Of all the lounges, I love The Wing because of its many area. The Bar, The Coffee Bar, and my favorite, The Noodle Bar.

Champagne, a couple of local Tsing Taos, a couple of comforting noodle soups, and a fresh sweet custard bun. All that with free Wi-Fi and charging stations - I'm happy to be delayed a little while.

If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: CX Lounge

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brunch at Stormies in Hong Kong

Planning for a weekend lunch in Hong Kong almost naturally implies dim sum or brunch. When I'm meeting up with my best friend who is native to Hong Kong, that always means brunch.

Because my flight back home to Manila was in a few hours, I opted not to go to SoHo and stay closer to my hotel. 100+ floors below the Ritz is Elements Mall with many excellent restaurant choices.

Since the rains had yet to descend, we preferred to dine al fresco at Stormies. Of the 8 restaurants on that outdoor section, they had the most appealing brunch/lunch special - 2 courses & coffee/tea for 98 HKD (just over 12 USD).

Along with a couple of spicy Bloody Marys, this was a most delightful setting and meal for a quiet brunch with a longtime friend.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: Stormies HK

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Top 10 Caesar Salads in Manila, as featured on

The day has arrived - I've been published!

Over the course of 2-3 weeks I ate my way around Manila searching for the Top 10 Caesar Salads this city has to offer. And here it is published on

Thank you, for this opportunity!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hong Kong Favorites

Back in Hong Kong and back to my favorite eats!

There are so many fantastic restaurants in Hong Kong, and yet I love repeating some of these favorites every time I go back. We spread out our Hong Kong trips so that we start to crave for these memorables bites. Paper-thin Peking duck, dim sum, local dessert, noodles, Japanese cuisine...All this talking about it has me craving for it now. I have to go back to Hong Kong soon!

Ye Shanghai
Xiao Long Bao - Not as thin as Din Tai Fung in Taipei and Shanghai, but a true contender. Great pork filling, flavorful soup, and a thin-enough wrapper.
Peking Duck - Literally paper thin. It's like biting into a thin waker cracker that's actually duck skin. Amazing.
Dong Po - Personal-size, perhaps bite-size. Pork belly braised in sweet soy sauce and wine and topped with a fluffy little steamed bun.

Hip Katsu
Pork Katsu - Flaky, crusty, crispy pork katsu. The pork itself is tender and succulent. A great option for katsu in Hong Kong.
Oyster Katsu - I love oysters. I love katsu when it's done well. Oyster Katsu here is a must order. Flaky, crusty, crispiness around a plump, juicy oyster. That's memorable eating.

Honeymoon Desserts
Perfect anytime of the year. Hot dessert soups warm you up and comfort your stomach. Cold dessert soups cool you down and refresh your palate after a hearty meal. There are so many choices for any mood.

If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: HK Repeats

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Low Floor or High Floor at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

At the time the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong opened in March of 2011, the hotel was the tallest and the highest in the world. The lobby starts at the 102nd floor. The rooms make their way up through to the spa and bar on the 118th floor.

And with all that, you are asked if you want a low floor or high floor at the time of booking. 103 stories up must be the highest low floor request.

If you're looking to enjoy the view, do not stay here during winter. Every day we opened our curtains and it was like looking out the airplane window. At night, we caught brief seconds of light below as the clouds blew by.

Aside from the disappointing view, my only other critique is that the hotel needs to provide better Airport Express service. A highlight in traveling to Hong Kong is the convenience of their public transportation. The Airport Express is the best way to get to IFC or ICC hotels.

Everything else was as expected from a brand new Ritz. Clean, comfortable, great service, and a perk - a suite upgrade!

If you can't see the slide show, check out my Flickr album: Ritz Carlton HK

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Better Steaks at Mamou

I really do love a great steak. I've been disappointed with the restaurants with "best steaks" according to bloggers and steak fans in Manila. Despite the disappointment, I had to try it again. I followed the hype. This time it wouldn't be about the fancy atmosphere. Let's just have a great steak, please?

Mamou - reputedly emulates the Peter Luger steak experience with the charred Porterhouse or T-Bone topped with melted butter and on a hot, hot plate. I've eaten at Peter Luger and its significant other, Wolfgang, in New York. Wolfgang is my standard for a great steakhouse all about the steak.

Does Mamou resemble these legendary New York establishments? It does a decent job.

The sides could use some work, but if you just focus on the steaks, I was happy. Medium, nicely charred, pretty well-marbled. I'd recommend this place to steak fans looking to eat out in Manila. The place is casual and gets crowded. Bring a good bottle of Cab, and that's going to be a pretty good night of eating.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Mamou

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Steaks at Cru

I love eating healthy. I love eating all my daily requirement of fruits and vegetables.

But every now and then, I NEED a good cut of grilled steak. High quality, marbled beef grilled to that perfect bright medium.

When it comes to steak, I'm a tough critic. My dad makes it every steak night memorable. So when I eat that well at home, I expect a high quality restaurant to make it just as good or even better. As a result, great steakhouses are hard to find.

But, it's always worth the effort trying to find out if and where these great steakhouses exist.

After disagreeing with fans of The Fireplace at the Hyatt Manila, I tried the next big craze, Cru at the Marriott Manila.

Disappointed again! For a place posing as a five-star steakhouse, the service does not match. The steaks are good, but not for what you pay for and for all that hype. However, if the service improved to the level of fine dining quality, I would have come out with a better experience and probably would recommend this place. Sadly, that is not the case now.

Fine dining, special occasion restaurants, or destination dining (however you choose to call it) is about that whole experience: food, atmosphere, AND service. If one lacks, it all falls apart.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Cru

Friday, March 02, 2012

Hainanese Chicken Rice in Manila

When I write, "Singaporean cuisine," what dish comes to mind? One common answer is sure to be Hainanese Chicken Rice. If the chicken is cooked right, it is the most succulent poultry you can ever savor.

Wee Nam Kee brings flocks of their succulent birds over to Manila. The selections range from deliciously repeatable to a bit disappointing in taste and execution.

The disappointing selections tend to be everything but the Hainanese Chickens. I found the foods to be a bit too overcooked, dull, and oily.

But it is the chicken that keeps bringing me back. The chicken comes with chicken soup, and make sure to order the chicken rice. A complete, satisfying meal. This may not be the highest quality, but it's far better than other Hainanese Chickens you can find around Manila.

The Roasted Hainanese Chicken holds a great roasted taste, while retaining the tenderness. And the star, the Hainanese Chicken, is consistently tender, succulent, and juicy. I could eat a chicken prepared like this everyday.

Place your cursor above "Notes" below to read the captions for each photo.
If you can't see the slide show here, check out my Flickr album: Wee Nam Kee