London’s Food Extravaganza

On our trip to London this year, we didn’t spend much time in the city. Half the time was spent travelling to the outer regions of England, and though I enjoyed that immensely, I really missed being in London too. It’s such a captivating city, with so many things to do, places to see, and of course, it’s a melting pot of cultures and cuisines that it’s a heaven for any foodie like me.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetWalking past any Ottolenghi bakery is a feast for the eyes, and I’m so glad that there was an outlet just walking distance from our Airbnb. It was a tiny outlet, with barely any seating space, but it was so convenient for us that we dropped by at least 3 times for breakfast throughout our trip. Asking me to choose from the plethora of pastries and treats on display was as if I had to choose a favourite child – it’s impossible!

img_7629_zps734djj4yWhile we were shopping on one of the days, it began pouring and we were so lucky that SAID was along the street, so we ducked in for some rich, velvety Italian hot chocolate. Ah, perfetto! I’ve really missed Italian hot chocolate, which always reminds me of melted 70% dark chocolate. It’s unparalleled around the world. The chocolate drizzle requires an additional top-up, and I’d say you can do without it, though it does look pretty, doesn’t it?

Address: 41 Broadwick Street, London, W1F 9QL
Open 10am-11pm (Mon-Sat), 11am-10pm (Sun & Holidays)

img_8003_zps1gwu7mocGuess what, though? Soon after we tried SAID, Dark Sugars stole my heart with their amazing version of hot chocolate. Walk into the store and you’ll be greeted by a massive variety of chocolates in all shapes and flavours. Sample some chocolate truffles, you might get an interesting one! But don’t forget to order their hot chocolate which comes with freshly shaved white, milk and dark chocolate on top. The chocolate is deliciously smooth and thick, with a deep cocoa flavour, characteristic of this store’s roots. The chocolate shavings melt into the drink, enhancing the flavour even further.

Address: 141 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB / 124-126 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU
Open daily 10am-10pm

img_7630_zpsa7so1vmoI’ve heard rave reviews about Patty & Bun, how it has one of the best burgers in London, and I couldn’t wait to try it! Their burgers are saucy, messy and you should be prepared to get your hands dirty, because that’s the best way to enjoy a burger. Definitely go for the ‘Smokey Robinson’ Burger (£8.75), which was a beef patty topped with mounds of caramelised onions, bacon and smokey P&B mayo. To be honest, I wasn’t wowed by the burger, perhaps because my expectations were raised too high. But those chips. Man, they were GOOD. I usually don’t quite like thick cut chips (I prefer the skinny shoestring kind because they’re crispier), but these chips (£2.95), just sprinkled with rosemary salt and served as it is, were so addictive! The flavour of the potato was brought out by the salt perhaps, and they were so crisp on the outside, yet fluffy on the inside. Yum!!!

Address: 22/23 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7PD
Open 11.30am-10pm (Mon-Tue), 11.30am-11.30pm (Wed-Fri), 11.30pm-9pm (Sat & Sun)
Other outlets

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAnother place in London that I was dying to try was Hawksmoor. It’s such a London thing to have Sunday Roast, and it has been something that I’ve been really curious about. Finally managed to have a taste of it, at one of the best places for Sunday Roast too! Hawksmoor has the most incredible steaks. Served on a hot sizzling plate, the steak was thick and juicy, with a lovely red medium-rare interior. The vibe of Hawksmoor is part of what makes the experience such an enjoyable one too! Definitely a place that I would want to return to in future. They have several outlets to choose from, take your pick.

img_8012_zpsi4wour33It might seem ironic to visit a Chinese restaurant (of all cuisines!) while we are in London. But when Pearl Liang whips up Chinese dishes with such flair, that is unrivalled even in most places in Asia, we definitely had to give it some credit. It’s a fine dining establishment with an Asian touch, and thankfully without any arrogance. Their specialty is the Lobster noodles which is served with a generously portioned crustacean.

Address: 8 Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, London W2 6EZ
Open daily 12pm-11pm

img_8264_zpssefvjrfdOkay, this one is kind of a tease amongst the rest. We stumbled upon Wahaca while shopping at Westfield. We were hungry and searching for a dinner spot, and while walking along the row of eateries, Wahaca was giving out tacos with a dollop of guacamole. Took a sample, and we were immediately sold. Their guacamole was so delicious!!!! It was unbelievable. I seriously don’t know how they could make a normal avocado taste so good, but we fell in love with it. Their Mexican street food is executed with aplomb and it was a random find which we relished. They have outlets all over UK, so you know where to get an easy Mexican fix.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetFor cocktails with a view, and a better way to enjoy the cityscape of London, grab a drink at Hutong / Aqua Bar at The Shard. To go up to the viewing gallery at The Shard, entrance tickets start from £25.95. A better way to spend that money is to head up to one of the bars and order a drink instead. Isn’t that a better way to take in those spectacular views, while sipping on a cocktail?

Address: The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Open 9am-1am (Sun-Thu), 9am-2am (Fri-Sat)

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetLondon has so many amazing fine-dining establishments, but you don’t always have to break the bank to visit one of them. There are many restaurants offering set meals from £20/pax, and Avenue was one of them. We chanced upon this restaurant while searching online for a place to eat, and decided to check it out. It was one of the BEST meals we had in London. A three-course meal with a glass of sparkling wine set us back a very reasonable £25/pax, and it was money well spent with the perfect, all-rounded experience. From the moment we were welcomed at the doors, to the service at our table and the exquisite quality of each dish, we revelled in the meal and it was the best ending to our 2 week trip. Thank you, London, for the memories.

Address: 7-9 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1EE
Open 10am-10.30pm (Mon-Sat), 11am-4pm (Sun)

img_8299_zpsz7wvir44Cheers! <3

Cafehopping in Bangkok

It’s my third consecutive year heading to Bangkok, and it seems to be coming a ritual for me. It isn’t often that I revisit a country/city in succession because there are just too many on my bucket list to repeat one of them. Though there are places that I’d love to go back to, like Bali, but nope, I haven’t been back. Bangkok though, seems to be a different story. I don’t love it, ironically. But there just seems to be so much to do there, that it gives me a reason to return. Eat, shop, massage repeat. Doesn’t sound like much, but somehow each 4 day trip that I take to this city doesn’t seem to give me enough time to cover all ground.

This trip, we had a pretty strong focus on food, which was really fun! Going there in a group of 10 meant that we had all sorts of preferences and tastes to accommodate. Not easy at all, but we did it! Bangkok’s cafe scene has exploded in the last couple of years, and this trip, we stayed at the Sukhumvit area which was right smack in the hipster area of Bangkok and gave us easy access to new places to check out.

We stayed at Salil Hotel Soi Thonglor 1, which is walking distance from Thong Lo BTS. It was a cosy boutique hotel that was comfortably furnished, and we enjoyed our stay there. If you’re going to spend most of your time around the Pratunam area, this would be a little out-of-the-way. But if you’re looking to check out a different area of Bangkok and want to soak in some hipster vibes, Sukhumvit/Ekkamai is the place to be.

So, when in Bangkok, these are 6 cafes to check out:

1. Roast

img_0580_zpsmdx8bp4oTheCOMMONS is the place to be if you’re cafehopping in Bangkok. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the options available, and as you make your way up to the top deck for Roast, you can be sure that you will be tempted with the other food places calling out to you. The spacious cafe exudes chill vibes, and we soaked in the ambience as we devoured our first meal in the city. One thing to note is that cafehopping in Bangkok is not cheap, but it’s worth checking out this place for brunch with a twist. We loved the Crab Cake Benedict (360 THB) in particular, for the incredibly fluffy, and generously portioned crab cake which went so well with the potato rosti and sweet, caramelised onion jam that was to-die-for. For drinks, I’d highly recommend the Acai Berry Smoothie (220 THB) for a refreshing thirst quencher in Bangkok’s scorching weather. Also, you may be happy to know that the brunch menu was still being served even when we reached the restaurant around 4pm! #alldaybrunchftw.

Unit #T1 (Roast), The COMMONS, 335 Thonglor Soi 17, Sukhumvit 55
Open Mon-Thu (10am-11pm), Fri-Sat (9am-11pm), Sun (9am-10pm)

2. Karmakamet Diner

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img_0702_zpsndqfwcy8This cafe oozes beauty from its dark, seductive interiors to the aromatic scents in the air (the washroom smells uh-mazing, I’m not being sarcastic) and the Strawberry in the Clouds (390 THB) rainbow candy floss dessert. So much effort is put into the decor of this place, which originated from an essential oils shop. It is an experience dining in this cafe, which features rustic furniture and vintage menus/placemats (in the form of the Karmakamet newspaper)/coasters (handwritten letters), and you can also buy essential oils from their shop.

30/1 Sukhumvit Soi 24 Bangkok
Open daily 10am-11.30pm

3. On Lok Yun

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img_0600_zps8hrdl6lnOkay, so this technically isn’t a cafe, but it seems like the most happening people are flocking here, that its hipster status has been elevated. For a local brunch that isn’t too far from Singapore’s breakfast, but at super duper affordable prices, this is the place to go. They manage to make a simple bread with butter and sugar taste so incredibly good! Plus points for the thick toast of course, and the delicious butter spread on top. Their “big breakfast”(50 THB)  is probably one of the cheapest you can ever find. Though the portion is small, but for the price, and those scrambled eggs, no complaints at all. Don’t forget a glass of Thai Milk Tea (25 THB) to go with your breakfast!

The location of this cafe seems really difficult for taxi drivers to grasp, for some reason. But tell them to head to Old Siam Square and you should be able to navigate from there pretty easily.

72 Charoen Krung Road, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong
Open daily 5.30am-4pm

4. TrueLove @ Neverland

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img_0636_zps1vbrddybIf you’re a pooch-lover, and you like big dogs especially, you have to check out this cafe. Not too far from On Lok Yun, you can head over for post-breakfast desserts and some doggie fun just like what we did. For 350 THB, you get a choice of a drink and cake, and most importantly, 1 hour playtime with the huskies! Imagine being surrounded by 20+ huskies, plus a little shih tzu called Momo whom you can play with to your hearts’ content. Okay, to be honest, they tend to squirm away quite a bit, but once they get tired and start lying/sitting down, that’s when you can jump in and take as many selfies as you like! The service hours are at 12.30pm & 3.30pm on Tue-Thu (closed on Mon), with an additional slot at 6pm on Fri-Sat. Do try to visit at these timings to get the full 1 hour experience with the doggies! Food-wise, we really enjoyed the ice cream cakes that were perfect for the hot weather! You can leave your drinks in the cafe while you play with the dogs in the playground, and the staff will remind you to stay on till the end to take a video of the dogs running back to their enclosures, and capture it on slo-mo.

153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai

5. After You

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img_0758_zpszmsbmgqsThe popularity of this cafe is evident in the number of outlets that have mushroomed all over the city. It’s a cafe I would ALWAYS go back to, whenever I’m in Bangkok, if only for their original Shibuya Honey Toast (185 THB) which is the most amazing creation ever. The thick toast topped with two huge scoops of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream on the side looks simple, but dig into it to reveal an interior slathered with butter and a drizzle of honey on top, it’s mind-blowingly good! They have many other flavours of the toast, but the original is still the best, with it’s well-balanced flavour without being overly sweet. Surprisingly, we enjoyed the seasonal Thai Milk Tea toast as well!

For the full list of locations, click here.

6. PABLO Cheese Tart

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img_0756_zpsf73vlwioThe hunt for cheese tarts continues in Bangkok. When I saw an Instagram post of PABLO in Bangkok, I got so excited because it looked so amazingly yummy!! It seems pretty new too, judging by the snaking queue in front of the cafe. Thankfully it wasn’t as crazy as Singapore’s queues for BAKE, and I had to wait for less than 30mins before it was my turn. PABLO’s freshly baked signature cheese tart (415 THB) was a rather big sized one! It came with a delightfully smooth and creamy interior, with a fruity glaze on top and flaky pastry crust. It seemed a little lighter than BAKE cheese tarts, but I probably should compare it with the mini (75 THB) version for a more accurate assessment. What really stole our hearts was the mini matcha cheese tart (90 THB). The fragrant matcha flavour was just so good!! I’d go back for the large version the next time round ^^

Siam Paragon Basement
Open daily 10am-10pm

If there are any other must-try cafes in Bangkok, do drop me a comment! I might just return again next year.

Food Hunting in Macau

Ask me to choose between Hong Kong-style egg tarts and Portuguese egg tarts and I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer to that. They’re similar, yet different, and both are irreplaceable to me. I’d make a trip to Macau just for those Portuguese egg tarts. Okay, I’m just kidding. But they’re really, really GOOD.

img_4493_zpszxow7pgtSay hello to these babies!!! Macau has many places that sell Portuguese egg tarts, but by far, Lord Stow’s are the BEST. They’re also more convenient to get to, being situated in the famous The Venetian Macau hotel/casino/shopping centre. The egg tarts are in the shopping centre portion of the huge compound, and it might take some time hunting it down, but it’s totally worth it. The egg tarts are piping hot, and the interior is milky and eggy and all-things-yummy, paired with a flaky crust that just shatters once you bite into it. One is not enough.

Address: 870, Mask Street, Level 3, Shoppes at Venetian
Open 10am-11pm (Sun-Thu). 10am-12mn (Fri-Sat)

img_9262_zpsgzf48dkhAnother place that is popular for their Portuguese egg tarts is Margaret’s Cafe e Nata. This is located nearer to the Ruins of St Paul’s and is harder to get to (you’d probably have to take a taxi). It was pretty good too, but considering the amount of effort to get there in comparison to Lord Stows, I’d recommend you go for the latter.

Address: G/F, 17A Rua Alm Costa Cabral R/, Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro
Open daily except Wed 6.30am-8pm

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetSomething else that you have to try in Macau is the pork chop bun from Tai Lei Loi Kei. It didn’t sound like anything special to me, and I’ve never been crazy about pork chop. But gosh, I was surprised! The thick slice of pork chop was so succulent and juicy, and I’d recommend that you go for the bo lo bun version because it completes the flavour of this dish perfectly. There are a few outlets scattered around Macau, but I would suggest going to the one in Taipa Village because that’s where the original outlet is. I tried the stall in the food court in The Venetian, and it was awful! So do yourself a favour and visit the authentic one. There is also an imitation stall called “Macau Famous Pork Chop Bun”, but that isn’t it! Also note that the original classic toasted pork chop bun is only available after 2pm, hence we did not get to try it because we reached too early. Nevertheless, the pork is the highlight, and the bo lo/soft bun version was good enough for us!

Address: 35 Rua Correia da Silva, Taipa Village, Macau
Open daily 8am-6pm

I’ve finally reached the end of my HK posts!! Hope you found it useful. Check back next week for posts on my UK trip!

One Dim Sum

So I’ve talked about Cha Chaan Tengs, roast goose, noodles and desserts. But ultimately, the one thing that defines Hong Kong is that it’s the land of dim sum! Tim Ho Wan has gotten tonnes of publicity with its Michelin-star award, and famous char siew bun. I absolutely love that char siew bun, but since THW can be found in Singapore now, we decided to check out someplace different instead.

One Dim Sum was a Michelin-star awardee previously as well, and the long queues are evident of its popularity. The outlet is pretty small and very cramped, which explains the long queue. But they have got their efficiency down pat – you get to browse through the menu and place your orders while waiting, and they toggled between seating customers and fulfilling take-outs so fluidly that it was quite mesmerising to watch.

img_9238_zpsteb12qx0The menu offers a decent, though concise selection. And their focus is really on the quality of all their ingredients. Every item we ordered was so well executed, it was simply amazing! From the fresh and juicy prawns in the har gow (prawn dumpling), generously-filled chee cheong fun, and sweet, saucy barbecue meat in the char siew bun, all of them were crafted with pride. Our favourite item had to be the dan san, which is a typical Hong Kong dim sum item that for some reason has not made its way to Singapore. It’s somewhat like a fried egg pastry that is drizzled with honey and topped with a pile of desiccated coconut. It’s mind-blowingly yummy!!!

One Dim Sum is a must-try for any dim sum lover for its affordable and quality offerings. I’m always on the look out for dim sum in Hong Kong, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

Address: Shop 1 & 2, G/F, Kenwood Mansion, 15 Playing Field Road, 
Nearest MTR: Prince Edward
Open 11am-12.30mn (Mon-Fri), 10am-12.30mn (Sat-Sun)

Noodles Oodles in Hong Kong

I was surprised to discover that other than the ubiquitous instant noodles that can be found in almost any cha chaan teng in Hong Kong, they actually do have a variety of other options to choose from! Here are three that I tried, and you could consider checking them out on your next visit to HK:

1. Mak’s Noodles

img_4328_zpsutio0hyf Hong Kong is well-known for its wanton noodles as well, and Mak’s Noodles is the most famous of them all. You squeeze into your seats in the restaurant and are greeted with a plethora of choices on the diverse menu. Most people would tend to zoom in on the wanton noodles, which is served in a tiny bowl which does not justify its price in my opinion. HK’s wanton noodles is springy, and Mak’s does this well. I’m not quite a fan of this kind of noodles, so what stood out for me was the wantons, which had a delicate skin encasing a fat, juicy prawn. Would I pay for this again? Nope. But there are many people who love is as much as I don’t, so give it a try and decide for yourself!

Address: G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
MTR: Central
Open daily 11am-9pm

2. Sister Wah Beef Brisket 

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetThis place requires a bit of travelling as it is all the way at a corner of the MTR line at Tin Hau station. They’re famous for their beef brisket noodles among a selection of others as well! The beef brisket lived up to its reputation of being perfectly tender – the soft bones were stewed for so long that they were of a jelly-like texture and absolutely delicious! I loved the dan dan noodles as well, which had a delicious, piquant broth. And to add some variety, you can order a serving of the chilled drunken chicken, which had been generously steeped in rice wine and was very flavourful.

Address: G/F, 13A Electric Road
MTR: Tin Hau
Open daily 11am-11pm

3. Sun Kee Cheese Noodles

12383291_932992556777694_1303848481_n_zps5o3hc8z5Does the amount of cheese look scary to you? It did to me, but trust me on this – it’s 100% delicious, and so addictive that you’ll forget the creaminess, or rather, grow to embrace it. It’s instant noodles, sure. But only Sun Kee can make it taste SO GOOD. That cheese, egg and braised pork cheek all together in a bowl is comfort food that hits all the right spots. The pork cheek is beautifully soft and nearly melts in the mouth. And the savoury flavour of the cheese really makes it super palatable. You have to try it to know it!

Address: Champagne Court, Kimberley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong
Nearest MTR: Tsim Sha Tsui
Open daily 7.30am-3pm

Address: 3 Burrows Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Nearest MTR: Wan Chai
Open daily 7.30am-11pm 

There’s also Kau Kee Beef Noodles and Sheng Heung Yuen tomato noodles which I haven’t had the chance to try on my trips. Let me know if I should, or what else you would recommend!