Archives for category: my good book

Queen Victoria's toilet at Victoria and Albert Museum
This toilet was built for Queen Victoria to use when she visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum gained its current name in 1899, when she laid the foundation stone of a new building designed to give the Museum a grand façade and main entrance, in memory of the enthusiastic support Prince Albert had given to its foundation.

Unlike most museum pieces that can only be seen, you can actually walk in and use the (mixed) toilet! All this is hidden behind a modern door (see photo below). Ever since I worked my first toilet design package, I have a passion about toilets. I get excited about modern mirrored ones at Nopi and I feel lucky that I discovered an old one like this. I can share the ‘toilet experience’ with the Queen. Continue reading >>

4 stars
When going through my list of restaurants, I (Winkypedia’s Cheap Eat Expert, Gerald) realised that I’ve eaten in 3 starred and 1 starred Michelin restaurants, but never in a 2 star. This had to be rectified. So this trip was less to do with food, but more with an obsessive compulsive desire to experience the spectrum of reviews. After a little research on the net, I decided to go to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

Our view at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon- chef preparing lobster salad
Why that particular restaurant? Well it was the cheapest 2 starred Michelin restaurant I could find in London. Simple as that. I’d heard good and bad things about Robuchon’s restaurants. I have a relative who is boycotting them, due to them raising the prices in his Tokyo restaurant to reflect the weakness of the Japanese yen, but then failing to lower the price again once the yen appreciated.

They currently have a menu du jour offering, where you can have a 2 course meal for £22, or a 3 course meal for £27, or you could order from their regular menu. Given the current economic climate, naturally I plumped for the menu du jour.

I keep a running score in my head of how much my michelin starred meals cost. e.g. my meal at the Fat Duck, worked out at £180 for the meal, so about £60 per star, per person; Galvin @ Windows came in around £100 per star, and One Dim Sum (in Hong Kong) came in at a legendary £4 per star. So potentially I could have a meal, that would come in at just over £11 per star. This would have to be the best value meal in the UK!

Show kitchen at L'atelier de Joel Robuchon
We booked dinner for 12.30 on Sunday. On arrival we were warmly greeted, and taken to our seats at the bar. It is a curious concept, French dining but with Japanese style lay out and service. In the same way a sushi chef would pass things over to you as you sit at the counter, here the staff pass the dishes over to you as they are prepared infront of your eyes only a few feet away. Continue reading about the great value set meu at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon >>

**Last updated on 5 November, 2011**
Amoul
How well do you know you deli? You might know the food and drinks they serve. You might even have a favourite seat. But do you know the story behind it? As the first of the Behind the Scenes series, I talked to Amoul, chef and owner of a popular deli Amoul’s. Here is her story in her own words:

Amoul’s is….

Amoul’s is a different space to different people that frequent the place, some treat it as a coffee shop, some as a takeaway, others treat it as their home. There are some that think of it as their sanctuary and are very protective over it. For me I would like to think of the place as an extension of my home, in the sense that I cook exactly the same as I cook at home for my family and friends using only the best ingredients. Paying attention to every detail that goes on at the place from the hygiene to the quality and consistency of the food.

Amoul's
What made you decide to start a deli?

I started Amoul’s deli and catering in 2003, because I love good food and I enjoy cooking. I was disillusioned by most delis selling food with the label of home cooked, while it was prepared at industrial kitchens somewhere far away, and distributed by vans all over. Inspired by the slow food movement which is about preserving traditional ways of cooking I set out on my Journey. I wanted to offer a service where the customer would know the exact source of their food, everything locally sourced and seasonal. Continue reading about Amoul’s >>

Rick Stein's savoury oat biscuits with Davidstow cheddar cheese

How did Rick Stein managed to put his autograph on a biscuit?

I am pretty sure they are factory made. I know it is probably done by press but how could he get the line so sharp, crisp and deep into each biscuit? How could he stop the dough from getting stuck on the fine mould?

I must admit I only bought the biscuits because of Rick Stein’s smilely face on the box. It reminded me of his cookery programmes on TV about fresh and local produce and made me forget that I actually have been to his restaurant in Padstow and was disappointed by the over-priced but averagely tasted seafood. (I am so weak!)

How did the biscuit taste? I actually quite like it. I have to ration it to one piece at a time though as it contains 24% of fat.

If you have any idea what he might have done to put the autograph on the biscuits, please leave me a comment to let me know! Cheers! Continue reading >>

YauatchaKai and Hakkasan are the three Chinese restaurants which currently hold 1 Michelin star in London. They are in my good book, however, they are no way as charming (and cheap!) as One Dim Sum 一點心- a tiny little dim sum restaurant in Hong Kong, which recently received a Michelin star in Hong Kong & Macau’s Michelin guide.

shop front, Best Value Michelin Starred restaurant in the World
Photo above shows the shop front of One Dim Sum- The bright red Michelin sticker is dwarfed by laminated signs in Chinese stating the that the toilet is for the use of customers only and that they are recruiting waiters. (!) Possibly the only restaurant in the world where they draw more attention to toilet usage than the Michelin star award. Hmm, it shows an interesting sense of priority.

What truly is astonishing was the value. A meal for 3 people, that left us all more than comfortably full, for HK$160 (£12.60)! That was under £4.20 per head for a meal!!

Chinese rice cannelloni, Best Value Michelin Starred restaurant in the World
Proudly on display was also a laminated colour photocopy of an interview with a Japanese magazine about their signature dish- Chinese rice cannelloni 布拉腸, which was prepared the traditional way, ie. by hand pulling with plain cloth. Continue reading to see what food you can eat at this Michelin starred restasuruant >>

Heston Blumenthal's Lapsang Souchong tea smoked salmon
Heston Blumenthal, chef of Fat Duck ( the 3 Michelin starred restaurant and one of the top 3 in the world) and Dinner (his new restaurant which explores ancient British recipes) collaborated with high- end supermarket Waitrose to create a range of food products from condiments to pies. I have already reviewed his coriander and rose salt, Vanilla mayonnaise and steak, ale & kombu pie. Is his latest product Lapsang Souchong tea smoked salmon any good?

The Scottish salmon was actually smoked by both oak and Lapsang Souchong tea, is a black tea originally from the Wuyi region of the Chinese province of Fujian. Upon opening of the pack, there was a strong smoky aroma. Even though it did not smell like tea, it was very pleasant and appetising. According to Heston, the Lapsang Souchong tea leaves are ‘traditionally smoked over pinewood fire Continue reading >>

 

Nopi is the latest restaurant from the group behind the successful Ottolenghi chain of restaurants. Its cuisine is an exciting mix of Asian and Middle Eastern influences and they postively encourage diners to share dishes, making for a fun and informal way of eating a wide selection of dishes. Ideal for the diner who craves variety.

rose veal carpaccio
There were originally different menus for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. But apparently they have decided to keep it simple for now and just serve lunch and dinner. Dishes for lunch and dinner are arranged in 4 simple categories: meat, fish, vegetables and sweet.

All the dishes were beautifully presented, like the rose veal carpaccio, beetroot and kashk (photo above). They were in small portions, similar to that of Spanish tapas or Chinese dim sum, as they were designed to be shared.

Scallops at Nopi
We played our favourite game of ‘what tastes Chinese?’

The seared scallops, pickled daikon and green apple (photo above) were a delight, they were seared and served with what we assumed was a variation of XO sauce. Scallops served with a sauce made of dried shellfish and oil. Continue reading about Nopi >>

Yes, we eat snakes. Traditional Chinese medicine books noted that snake is good for us, especially during winter time. It helps you to be stronger against the cold.

Snake soup
There are many ways of eating snake. I remember seeing snakes being taken out from baskets and being butchered alive on the street in Hong Kong when I was little. Their gall bladder was taken out and dipped in a small glass of transparent alcohol. The killer seller then gave it to the onlooker (usually men) who offered the highest price for it. It is believed to be good for manhood. These days, open snake slaughtering is banned as it is considered to be cruel and unhygienic. We usually have snake in the form of soup.

Snake Soup in Hong Kong
A good snake soup should have lots of snake meat. A lot of restaurants offer snake soup during winter time but the soup tends to have more chicken meat than snake meat. It is kind of cheating as chicken is obviously cheaper! It is better to have it in snake specialist shops, among which Snake King Hip is the best. It is a broth made from 5 different types of snake Continue reading >>

Geoduck is not a duck. It is a salt water clam. In Chinese it is called 象拔蚌- ‘elephant trunk clam’ as it has a long and chunky siphon, which looks just like an elephant trunk. It looks a little ugly but it is yummy! I am surprised Heston Blumenthal, chef of Fat Duck ( 3 Michelin starred restaurant and one of the top 3 restaurants in the world) and Dinner (his new popular venture in Mandarin Oriental, London) have not used them for his quirky Fishy Feast already!

geoduck
The best way to cook geoducks is to have them steamed with garlic, spring onion and glass noodles. It is tender and the fresh garlic complements very well the natural sweetness of the geoducks. The glass noodles enhance the texture in the mouth. 

steamed geoduck with garlic, spring onion and glass noodles
Alternatively, geoducks can be enjoyed as  thinly sliced  sashimi. They are naturally sweet. The texture is a little similar to Continue reading about Geoducks >>


{Post last updated on 7th June, 2011}
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is Heston’s first London restaurant. We had our Chinese New Year Eve’s meal there, before any restaurant critics wrote their review. We decided to do so solely based on Heston‘s reputation (as the chef of Fat Duck, the 3 Michelin starred restaurant, one of the top 3 restaurants in the world), and that of the Mandarin Oriental. We then went back twice more to try out the menu and shared our experience with friends!

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Beef Royal at Dinner By Heston
Meat Fruit (c.13th to 15th century) was my favourite starter as it was fun and playful. We were happy to see the mandarin as in Chinese, it has the same pronunciation as ‘gold’ which is what we like having for Chinese New Year! What looked like a perfect mandarin was actually a chicken liver parfait enclosed in a thin layer of mandarin ‘gel’. The parfait was smooth and it was perfect with the subtle mandarin gel. What you see is not what you eat is also the signature of Fat Duck. Does that mean Dinner is a twin of Fat Duck?

Meat Fruit at Dinner by Heston
Not quite.
The dishes at Dinner have much stronger historical references than those of Fat Duck. They were so proud of their source of inspiration, that they actually told you at the back of their menu where they got the idea from for each dish and from what time period the dish is from. Continue reading about Dinner by Heston Blumenthal >>