The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Taipei Night Markets: Huahsi, Ningxia and Raohe

Earlier this year, a friend and I went on a girls-and-bubs trip to Taipei, and as much as we love our babies, the best part of the trip was leaving the sleeping babies behind at our accommodation with a nanny, and going out at night to check out the night markets! It was the one thing I wished we did more in Kaohsiung, where we only did one night market (battling the crowd with a 4-year-old is rather challenging). In Taipei, my friend and I visited three markets, and it left me wanting for more! I'll just have to plan another trip to Taipei!

A street cart on Zhonghua Road between Carrefour and Ximen MRT (either near the intersection with Guiyang St or Changsha St), peddling mochi (glutinous rice snack):

Mochi simply tossed with sweet peanut and sesame sauce:

Huaxi Night Market, aka Snake Alley

Huaxi night market is located near the Longshan Temple, and specialises in snake dishes, which we did not try because of time constraints. We did try many other street snacks, and here are some of the highlights.

My friend's favourite Chinese street snack is cong you bing, a savoury scallion pancake. This lady makes a delicious you bing at Huaxi market:

A shop specialising in choudofu (stinky tofu):

Our first taste of choudofu was a stewed version. I'll be frank here, we were not keen on it. But we persisted, and I found with each spoon that the taste sort of grew on me:

Fried taro balls are popular here, and this girl flicks the balls out of the deep-fryer onto the cooling tray with the speed and precision that can come only from doing this for a long time:

Ningxia Market

Ningxia is a traditional market that reminds its visitors of old Taiwan. There are plenty of food stalls to visit and also interesting stores to shop in. We enjoyed delicious oyster omelet and more fried taro balls. We also tried the deep-fried version of stinky tofu to find out if it's an improvement over the stewed version we had the previous night (it's not).

Popular shop selling oyster omelet:

This oyster omelet was worth the wait! Plump juicy salty oysters with crispy egg

Deep-fried choudofu. Definitely an acquired taste, and I wish I had longer time to give stinky tofu a chance (like I did with bitter gourd (as a young child, my mum told me eating it would make my blood bitter and repel mosquitoes - that's a lie because mozzies still find me tasty, but it got me acquiring a taste for the bitter gourd), Aussie Vegemite, and Japanese natto):

More crispy taro balls:

Raohe Street Night Market

On our final night in Taipei, my friend and I ventured to Raohe Street Night Market for more street snacks.

This hu jiao bing (black pepper pork bun) stall at the end of Raohe Street night market had a huge queue, though it was a weeknight:

There were about 8 or 9 staff on the production line to efficiently churn out delicious pork buns to satisfy the hungry crowd. Though the line was long, we didn't wait long to get to the front of the line:

Buns lined up waiting to be stuck on the wall of the clay oven, which is similar to the Indian tandoor:

Truly delicious! Definitely worth the short wait in the long queue:

We also tried some herbal pork rib soup, which I'm sure was very nourishing:

And I indulged in some thick sweet soup full of mixed beans and black taro and chewy tapioca balls:

Monday, 10 July 2017

Impeccable French @ L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong

Hubby had his birthday recently, turning yet another year older and wiser. He celebrated all weekend long, with his friends on Friday night, with me on Saturday night and then with the kids on Sunday. His aunt and uncle also took us out for an amazing night out the following Saturday, so I could say that he celebrated his birthday for over one week! For our dinner date, he requested our favourite French restaurant, L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon. We've been here so many times, and the experience never fails to impress. It remains our favourite L'ATELIER out of the three we've been to (yes, even more than the Paris one!). Hubby went for the Menu Découverte (Discovery Menu, HK$2080) which contained no less than 8 courses. I ordered two dishes, and we shared everything.

First time sitting on this side of the bar in the five years we've dined at this restaurant:

The Orange Moon Cocktail (HK$150) was so delicious and so easy to drink:

Amuse Bouche of fried shrimp and gazpacho with an avocado cream:

First course of Menu Découverte: King crab and avocado cannelloni with Imperial caviar:

Burrata cheese with avocado slices and spicy tomato coulis (HK$290). Delicious!

Second course of Menu Découverte: White asparagus with sea urchin:

Third course of Menu Découverte: Pan-fried duck foie gras with cherry confit and crunchy almonds:

Spiced eggplant confit (HK$240) with curry flavored vegetable puree. This was tasty for a vegetarian dish, but not one of the best dishes that night:

Fourth course of Menu Découverte: Fine scampi bouillon with petit raviolis and green peas, just before the bouillon was poured on:

The scampi bouillon was my favourite dish out of the Menu Découverte. It was vibrant with the flavours of the sea, and the scampi was so fresh and juicy and tasty:

Fifth course of Menu Découverte: Crispy amadai fillet with carrot mousse and lemongrass emulsion. Beautifully presented,
and tasted great, but I felt this was the most ordinary dish out of the eight courses

Sixth course of Menu Découverte: Free-range quail with foie gras, served with mashed potato. This sounded ordinary, but it was amazing. The quail was juicy and tender, perfectly matched with the famous mashed potato that was generously topped with shavings of black truffle:

First dessert of Menu Découverte. At this stage I was a little distracted with the birthday singing that happened with the serving of dessert, and I can't remember exactly what this dessert was. Only that it was not too heavy, the perfect way to end an 8-course meal:

Second dessert of the Menu Découverte was a boozy one that hubby really enjoyed:

Not pictured are the fantastic bread basket served at the beginning and the delicious petit fours at the end. And the delicious complimentary cake that is always given to the ladies at the end of the meal to take home. L'ATELIER remains a good and reliable choice for special occasions.

[The prices above do not include the 10% service charge.]

L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon
Shop 315 & 401
The Landmark
15 Queen's Road Central
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2166 9000
Online reservations available at Robuchon's website

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Yum Malaysian @ PappaRich [Joondalup], Perth

It's no secret that I'm a fan of PappaRich. Obviously not the PappaRich restaurants in Malaysia itself, where the authentic food is so readily available on the streets for cheaper, but internationally. I think PappaRich is doing a great job introducing reliably tasty Malaysian dishes to many people outside of Malaysia. I've so far been to PappaRich restaurants in three different countries, and they were all sufficiently good representations of Malaysian cuisine. Of course, nothing compares to the real authentic experience of eating Malaysian food on the streets of Malaysia itself, but beggars can't be choosers! When we were in Perth a couple of months ago, we had the opportunity to try out PappaRich in Joondalup twice. It's located close by to my parents' and siblings' homes in the same suburb, which made it an easy and convenient choice of meeting point. The food was, as expected, delicious. Service was friendly and helpful, especially given that our family is really big with lots of kids and my elderly parents.


Laksa with seafood:

Chicken Rice, always a good one for kids:

Biryani with Rendang and Sambal Prawns:

Mixed Satay to share:

Ais Kacang:

Second trip with a friend, I ordered laksa again (because it's so good):

Congee with steamed chicken:

Shop T226, Level 1
Lakeside Joondalup
420 Joondalup Dr
Joondalup WA 6027
Tel. +61 8 9301 4516

PappaRich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Ukrainian brunch (and flavoured vodka!) @ Dacha, Hong Kong

Not long ago, HK DiningCity held a brunch special involving a selection of participating restaurants during which time we could buy one meal, get the second meal for 50% off. Ever the bargain-hunter, I couldn't resist having a look for a family brunch out on a Sunday. There were some really good well-known and reputable restaurants on the list! Unfortunately the popular ones were the first ones to be fully booked out on Sunday brunch. Out of the remaining available restaurants, Dacha caught my eye because East European cuisine is not very common here. Dacha is a Russian term for a holiday home, and the food here has a rustic, homely style. There was one poor young guy managing the whole dining floor, and though he was apologetic, I thought he did a brilliant job. He was very friendly, and even gave me a generous taste of one of the flavoured vodka that was on the counter (a great marketing strategy on his part, because we ended up getting two shots to try the two flavours on the counter!). He told us that the owner's father distills his own vodka at a distillery somewhere, and there were many flavours for us to try out on a night out without kids. And we did make our way back there for our date night out the following Saturday, and had the Vodka Set of 12 different flavoured vodka. We were perhaps a tad ambitious sharing 12 shots between the two of us over a 1.5 hour period (we didn't want to keep the nanny up too late), but we managed to walk and take the MTR home without any incident! That was such a fun night out!

Cheery and homely interior at Dacha:

Siberian Pelmeni (HK$95) - delicious Russian meat dumplings, and the baby ate almost all of it:

Hubby got the Dacha Breakfast (HK$128), featuring bacon, eggs and pierogi. It was delicious and filling:

The Ukrainian Breakfast (HK$125), ordered for the boy who loves sausages. Scrambled was his choice of eggs, and though he did not touch the tomato or the arugula leaves, he polished off the rest of the plate:

My Avocado Burger (HK$128) surpassed my expectations. I thought it would be a burger with bread buns with a slice of avocado, but instead I got a full avocado! Smoked salmon, avocado and sour cream is always a winning combo, and the tomato salsa with the corn chips gave the dish a Mexican flair:

The Broken Flowerpot (HK$125), a delicious chocolate dessert that was fun to look at and eat:

Hubby and I enjoyed the Very Berry (HK$98) dessert on our date night out, which had a sweet pierogi with berry filling:

The Vodka Set (HK$825) of 12 flavoured vodkas. Just don't ask me to remember all the flavours! The sweet ones were delicious:

[The above prices do not include the 10% service charge.]

Dacha Restaurant & Bar
Ground Floor, Wing On Building
38-40 Hollywood Rd
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2420 3555

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The best pineapple cakes in Taipei @ SunnyHills, Taipei

The most popular edible souvenir in Taiwan is the pineapple cake. There are so many shops selling pineapple cake, and truly one can make a free (albeit unhealthy) meal out of sampling pineapple cakes. We visited two of most popular bakeries in Taipei: Chia Te (where I discovered their delicious egg tarts, and SunnyHills. I'd also bought pineapple cakes from a few other shops for comparison's sake. I'm only reviewing SunnyHills here because their pineapple cake was unanimously voted by my household to be better than Chia Te's pineapple cakes. That's not to say that Chia Te's pineapple cakes are inferior - the quality and range of products and the variety of pineapple cakes offered by Chia Te is incomparable. SunnyHills specialises only in pineapple cakes, hence it should follow that theirs would trump over others. SunnyHills was a bit of a trek from the nearest MRT station, but we were welcomed with a cup of tea and a small pineapple cake. I certainly wasn't expecting that, so it was a pleasant surprise. They even gave a cake and a cup of water each for our little ones. This is a brilliant marketing idea, as I was able to sample a full piece of cake, and not just a tiny morsel of mostly crust or filling, which ensured that I bought something before leaving the store.

The simple entrance:

Our complimentary cakes and tea waiting for us while we sorted out our babies and strollers:

The products offered by SunnyHills - two different boxed quantities of pineapple cakes (10 or 15), oolong tea and 100%
pineapple juice

A cup of tea and cake for me, and water and cake for baby:

Delicious. I love the crust, and the not-too-sweet not-too-tart filling that actually resembles pineapple fruit:

Sunny Hills
No. 1, Alley 4, Lane 36, Section 5
Minsheng East Road
Songshan District, Taipei City
Taiwan 105
Tel. +886 2 2760 0508