Archives for posts with tag: review


With an influx of people from mainland China, Chinatown has become more interesting recently. The variety of food has expanded from just mainly Cantonese to cooking styles from other parts of China. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a new restaurant called Beijing Dumpling.

Like Dumplings Legend, Beijing Dumpling has a show kitchen. They were so determined to sell the idea of freshly made dumplings (Xiao Long Bao 小籠包) that they even used it as its shopfront. With that in mind, I ordered the classic dumpling with crab meat (蟹粉小籠包). How was it?

It was one of the ugliest dumplings I have ever seen served in a restaurant. The skin was not smooth but rough. Unlike the amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I could not taste any crab meat inside. There was not much soup inside each dumpling neither. For a restaurant which put so much emphasis on dumplings in its naming and marketing, I expected higher quality dumplings than these. They did not even give us any vinegar with ginger as dipping sauce, which is the standard condiment for dumplings! (We had to ask for it ourselves)

How was the other food? Sadly, the menu mainly consisted of Cantonese dishes, a handful of Asian ones and even fewer choices from Beijing. With nothing new to try, we opted for the ‘All you can eat hot pot’, which was one of its speciality. For £20 a head, you are supposed to be able to eat as much as you want. You can order any of ingredients from the menu which is a selection of meat and vegetables- Well, that is the theory anyway!

For those unfamiliar with hot pot, it’s Chinese dish normally served in winter. Each table gets a large pot of simmering broth, and a selection of meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the broth. It’s a bit like fondue.

We made it clear to the waiter that right at the time of order that out of the 22 ingredients we could choose from, there were some ingredients we did not want and there were some we would like in a larger portion. We were told that we did not have a choice in the first round as EVERYTHING would come on one plate in default portion.

Little did we know that they meant all the raw ingredients would be ‘dumped’ onto the plate in one go. This was how it looked:

Hot pot for Beijing Dumpling
There was virtually no presentation! It looked like they just scooped everything out from a skip, with prawns flying around, raw lamb and raw beef all mixed up in a mountain of pink. I have had Chinese hot-pot many times in my life, and this is NOT how it usually looks like! And, just in case you think there is a lot of meat, think again! They used the classic trick of putting lots of vegetables underneath to create the illusion of volume! Continue reading >>


The Dock Kitchen is weird. Is it a good weird or a bad weird? I don’t know. It started as a pop-up restaurant but it is not a pop-up anymore. It does not seem to know what it is- is it a restaurant in a lighting showroom (you know, a bit like the restaurant inside IKEA)? Is it a brassiere? a canteen? a restaurant? After eating there twice, I still have no idea, and this bugs me.

The Dock Kitchen
The Dock Kitchen shares the same building as Tom Dixon, the lighting designer who sometimes also designs furniture and interiors. There is a staircase that leads you directly to the toilet and the lighting shop. Everywhere in the dining area, you can see Tom Dixon’s lights- A LOT of them. They are put in clusters in zones and the furniture (some also designed by Dixon) varies accordingly. The chairs on our table were not that comfy. The back was low and I had no idea where to put my long coat. (p.s no cloak room facilities) Some of the lights look tacky and it was hung so low that 2 of us hit our head by accident when we stood up to leave the table.

The service was borderline between amateur and bad. (I blame Michel Roux’s Service TV series for making me pay more attention to this) Continue reading >>

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 >>


It is a treat to go to the Company Shed, both for the value for money seafood and for the enjoyable journey. It is situated on Mersea Island, which is not far from London but it has a completely different pace. It is calm and relaxing.  It is a perfect place for weekend lunch!

It is run by Heather Haward, whose husband and son are the producers of the some of the finest farmed flat oysters in Britain. The Haward family deals directly with local fishermen who land their catches daily. It started off as a fishmonger but its eaterie is as popular.

The Seafood platter at the Company Shed

For £11.95, we got a seafood platter which could cost easily double in other restaruants. I think I had better smoked salmon and mackeral elsewhere. The shrimps, crevettes, cockles and crab were lovely though.

Green- lipped mussels with parmesan and herb crust at the Company Shed 
My favourite dish was green- lipped mussels with parmesan and herb crust. The mussels were big, meaty and succulent. The crust was fragrant and tasty. It act as a little ‘lid’ Continue reading >>