What has Ken been eating?
Sharing food and restaurants experiences!
Sakagura – London
Last week I discovered a new wonderful Japanese restaurant in central London near Regent street called Sakagura. I would describe it as a relax Japanese bistro with an array of choices and a sake list to die for. I especially like the offering of flights of sake so that you taste several and learn about the merits of this great drink. The Japanese Wagyu from Kyushu Island was intensely flavourful and the Chicken Karaage had the deep taste of the garlic and ginger marinade and its crispy texture contrasts very well with the mayo and shichimi spice — a real winner. The Asian King Prawn tempura could not have been better as well the tasty Dragon roll filled with delicious kabayaki eel with rich avocado and prawn. This restaurant will definitely be on the top of my list when I return to London!
For a couple of years now, I have been hearing good comments about the food at Paste in Bangkok, so for my last night on this trip, I decided to see for myself. Although it is at the Gaysorn shopping mall, the restaurant has a stunning view (ask for the banquette seating.) But is the food that is the star here. We began with a tasty shredded duck on rice crackers, a langoustine salad was perfect with just the right balance of acid and spices, an eggplant (aubergine) salad provided a soft textural context to the meal, the black cod was magical in tenderness and cooked just right. The tender beef cheek curry was bursting with flavours. Finally, the Kao Soi, a northern noodle dish put the finishing touches in one of the best meal I have had in years in Bangkok!
Xinn Tien Di – Bangkok
I have always been sceptical of Chinese food in Thailand. I often found it either too sweet, greasy and oily, over sauced or with the flavours off balanced.
Xinn Tien Di, located on the third floor of a deluxe shopping mall, however is very good. Savoury ribs, a Sichuan inspired chicken dish, crispy squid and a simple stir-fried pea tendrils was some of the highlights of a recent visit. I love the steamed pork with salted fish showered with shredded ginger which brought back memories of my mum’s home cooking at its best.
However, the pièce de résistance is their Peking Duck which is wondrous and a real bargain. The skin is extremely crispy without a trace of fat and served with pancakes which is worth the visit alone if you just have that!
Kom-Ba-Wa – Bangkok
Bangkok is a treasure trove of culinary discoveries and the other night I hit gold at Kom-Ba-Wa, a Japanese restaurant that has been opened for about a year. A true gem with some of the freshest fish and seafood flown in fresh daily from the Tokyo fish market. A plate of uni (sea urchin) almost made me delirious with its nature sweet briny flavour. A platter of fresh sashimi looked like it just jumped out of the sea. We drank a magnificent bottle of sake that was milled down to 7% which meant most of the rice was gone and just the pure fragrance came through. A salad of salmon and avocado hit the spot. Gyoza filled with miso cod was rather amazing as well. Sushi was delicate and light. The chef sent a bizarre looking blue dessert that tasted better that it looked and was surprising quite delicious. Kow-Ba-Wa is a must on any list of Japanese food lover who comes to Bangkok!
Gianni – Bangkok
As much as I love Asian food, I do get a craving sometimes for Italian. I simply go to Gianni, a popular institution in Bangkok which by all consensus is the best and most reliable in town. Just ten minutes away, this comfortable, relaxed restaurant has a huge and excellent Italian wine list. Gianni is passionate about his cooking, with a unique blending of traditional and modern. Hokkaido scallops with barley and sweet peas was a perfect starter. He send out a tasty pottarga that he had brought back from Italy made from tuna combined with Italian cheese which was a revelation. You can see Gianni’s Adriatic influence in his wonderful dishes made with local Thai fish and seafood. His papillotte: a sublime grilled combination of grilled fish fillets with scallop, and prawns is not to be missed. All ingredients are cooked in a way to bring out their natural sweetness without losing any of their delicate flavours and are never dry. Gianni’s delicious cooking transported me to the Adriatic in the middle of Bangkok.
Rech – Hong Kong
When I am in Hong Kong, I want eat Chinese food, especially Cantonese. So it is rare, indeed when I decided to spend my last evening in Hong Kong at Rech. It is the first outpost of Alain Ducasse’s famous fish restaurant Rech and was worth not only the visit but the food and service as well. But add one of the most incredible views of the Hong Kong harbour and you have a sure winner. I was not the only one who thought so, as the restaurant was packed on a Sunday night. I could not resist the belons oyster as a simple starter. Flown fresh from France, I almost could taste the French coast. For the main course, I decided on fresh French scallops that was simply grilled and served with artichoke and herbs, such a perfect dish after a five day marathon of eating. Dessert include Alain’s signature baba au rhum with vanilla ice cream followed by a chocolate madeleine and ice cream. Such a fantastic send off! A must if you are going to Hong Kong!
Sunday Brunch at the Intercontinental Kowloon
Everyone in Asia love buffets and I have never seen any better than in Hong Kong. The Sunday brunch at the Intercontinental Kowloon is one of the best in Hong Kong. There is literally some cuisine or dish to please even the most difficult eater. But what I found what was stunning was the quality. Each station has top restaurant cooking which was constantly replenish instead of sitting on warming plates. The cuisines varied from French to Italian to Spanish to Chinese to Japanese to Thai —- a virtual eating trip around the world. And all of this with unlimited champagne or wine! You can’t get a better delicious deal anywhere in the world.
Dynasty – Hong Kong
One of my final meals in Hong Kong was at my friends’ favourite Cantonese restaurant: Dynasty located at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel. The meal began with a sensational delicious Chinese barbecue pork that was so tender you could easily cut it with chopsticks and served with a pile of taro shreds which provided a lovely contrast in taste and texture. A lovely light refreshing soup of egg white with spinach followed. Then came a whole whelk stuffed that was so delectable that I could have easily had another. But lucky I still have room for the whole langoustine in a tangy curry sauce. We finished with a wok stir-fried rice noodle dish and a simple egg tart with a crispy pastry. No wonder, Hong Kong is such a food destination!
Little Kitchen – Bangkok
A very unlikely popular restaurant located in the passage way of Central Chitlom Department store feels like a café, with the passing patrons walking by. This strange setting offers a quick and simple menu of surprising delicious food that is extremely affordable. It was recommended by a close Bangkok friend, Nong, who used to eat there with his school friends. A great favourite is the Charcoal Stir-fried Rice Noodles with egg and a choice of chicken or salted fish. Choose the fish version. Here, soft fresh rice noodles are stir-fried to perfection in a hot wok with preserved salted fish and comes with crispy crunchy fried dough and a simple salad for a totally satisfying comfort dish.
Ippoh – Hong Kong
Hong Kong has always had a reputation as an open port and so it has been with food. All types of cuisines are welcome here and Japanese is especially popular. My good friends, Grace & Kendall wanted to introduce me to Chef Toyoichiro SEKI san from a top tempura restaurant, Ippoh in Osaka. Tempura cooking takes great skills: the oil must be changed constantly to keep it clean and fresh; the batter is mixed just so at the minute of cooking and finally good judgement tells the chef when to remove the food from the hot oil so that it is not oily or greasy. At Ippoh that is what you will find. We began with a steamed egg custard with uni (sea urchin) that was divine. A simple green salad refreshen our palate for the tempura to come with instructions from the chef to dip it into the sauce with grated dikon radish or simple salt or just lemon: prawn heads, whole prawns, a varies different types of fish, sweet potato, mushrooms, a prawn toast sandwich and a seaweed filled with sea urchin. We finished with a light rice soup and a sweet biscuit with fruit. Another prefect fantastic Hong Kong meal!
Liu Yuan Pavilion – Hong Kong
Hong Kong is not in danger of losing it’s crown as one of the food capitals of the world!
A banquet given by my dear foodie friends, Grace & Kendall at Liu Yuan Pavilion proved how delicious Shanghai food can be interpreted using the best ingredients. This is the perfect time to indulge in the seasonal speciality of hairy crabs from that region. We began with salted duck that was tender and very tasty. Fried eels, another speciality was crunchy and crisp. Crackling beancurd skins was stuffed with mushrooms while jelly fish provided a nice sesame taste and texture.
Another diced tofu dish with seasonal vegetable was also very good and a surprising pea dish mixed with black truffles peaked our palates. A classic crisp chicken dish followed a superb plate of smoked duck eggs. A bowl of silken tofu with crab roe came and then one of the best dish of the evening: Crab cooked with sticky rice which none of us could stop eating despite being so full. Then a dish made of fish head in a most delicious stew was something I have never eaten amazed everyone at the table. A final rice filled with preserved fruits finished our magical evening. Hong Kong is certainly worth a voyage!
Open House – Water Library
I must admit that I have an addiction to fish & chips and when I am in Bangkok I get my fix at the Water Library at Central Embassy. Afterwards, I hang out at the hottest place in central Bangkok now – Open House. A happening in a vast place filled with books and delectable restaurants filled with many locals as well as tourists. My publisher, Shane who is translating and will be publishing my Stir-fried Life in Thai next year is the genius behind the concept. He is a great book lover and foodie and Open House is his ultimate dream and we are the beneficiaries. So make sure Open House is on your must visit list to Bangkok!
As a chef, I cook for a living. So I am not above ordering takeaway, especially when I am in Bangkok. On a busman holiday, I ordered from Hong Bao, a great Chinese restaurant and I was not disappointed. The salt & pepper prawns……..was almost as good as mines. The Sichuan tofu was spot on and the stir-fried fresh rice noodles was almost perfect only marred by too much meat. Otherwise, quite perfect and I did not have to cook!
Have a Zeed in Bangkok – a revisit
Have a Zeed, a rather odd name for a restaurant has become one of my favourite Thai restaurants, not because it is literally minutes away from my home. I haven’t been in six months and was pleased to discover it was as good as ever. Tender, succulent, tasty slices of grilled pork neck paired a delicious papaya salad was a match made in heaven. A simple Thai style omelet was comfort food at its best…..the omelet was fluffy and moist served with a spicy sweet sauce. Soft shell crab served on a bed of vegetables was hearty as well as spicy. I especially love the soft tender stir-fried fresh rice noodles with chicken and egg which reminded me of my childhood in Chinatown. It was cooked perfectly in a hot wok!
I am so proud to be working with my team at MEE in Rio de Janeiro. Chef Kazuo is wonderfully skilled as not only a great sushi master but in charge of our kitchen with our very motivated team. Out front with Chef Kazuo, our Max, our extraordinary barista par excellence makes amazing cocktails incorporating Asian flavours. An experience not to be missed!
Le Cochon Blanc
Whenever I am in Bangkok, I love to indulge in my passion for Thai, as well as Japanese and Chinese. However, I do sometime want a slight change and then I go to Le Cochon Blanc. I went with a group of friends (better so you can order more courses) and we feasted on crab cakes, a wonderful Wagyu prime ribs and I got the best piece — the rib! Wild Brittany cod from France was perfectly cooked and moist as was the short ribs full of smoky flavours. The smoked organic baby chicken was magical as were the house smoked salmon. Even the side orders were fantastic — from the grilled cooked salad to the corn with coriander and house slaw. If you are in Bangkok and fancy a change, you will not be disappointed, I assure you in Le Cochon Blanc! No wonder it is so popular!
Sui Kin – Bangkok
Sui Kin is perhaps one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in Bangkok. A rather modest place but serving fantastic Japanese food. I love it because it is literally a 10 minute walk from where I live. The other evening, I enjoyed simple salmon roe sushi; a salad of avocado, tuna and tofu with a zesty dressing; grilled eel with rice; magnificent sandwich of daikon slices stuffed with poutargue (dried mullet roe) and simple salted grilled fish………which I ate so quickly that there was only one left when I took the photo!
Baan Glom Gig – Bangkok
Returning to Bangkok is also a great joy for me as a lover of Thai food. I was invited to some friends for dinner but instead of them cooking, they order Thai food delivery from their local favourite restaurant, Baan Glom Gig and what a feast is was! Rich intense green beef curry as well as perfectly cooked prawns with fried garlic, a Thai omelet was a nice contrast to all the hot spicy flavours, a crispy fermented fish was paired with fresh bean and cucumber, the Thai spring rolls were equally delicious as was the minced pork with prawns. I could barely managed any rice……what a wonderful welcome home!
Cipriani at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro
I recently had a wonderful Italian gastronomic experience with Chef Aniello Cassese who just won the Most Revealing Chef award. He has revitalise the famous Cipriani with cooking that takes from his Neapolitan heritage as his years cooking with Gordon Ramsey. We began with a amuse bouche that combined textures and flavours then moved to a lovely carpaccio of scallops, squid ink coral crispy, chilli and vegetables, it was light and tasty. A dish of stuffed pasta paired with prawns that was delicious followed. A main dish that was the catch of the day came with Italian bruschetta flavours and Sicilian Pepperonata which was cooked perfectly and amazingly good. A light lemon granita cleared our palates for the brilliant chocolate dessert. Nello as he is known is one fantastic chef!
There is nothing more pleasurable that to cook for good friends who love to eat!
Recently, for friends from Cahors, I made Salt & Pepper Prawns: they are easy to make and are always a great hit. I then made Chinese Roast Pork Belly which I did years ago on Saturday Kitchen with James Martin. I served it a bit like Peking duck with pancakes, Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce, spring onions and cucumbers. The evening concluded with traditional moon cakes and Japanese whiskey!
Jacques & Linette
Nothing in the world beats great home cooking especially if the cook is a retired successful chef. When Jacques & Linette invited me for lunch, I accepted without hesitation even though they are more than 45 minutes away from Paris. We began with a wonderful goat cheese simply wrapped in crispy filo and served with a salad. Then came a perfectly cooked rack of lamb with beans in a garlic puree sauce. Our mutual friend, Lilli from Bangkok made the dessert, a peach gratin that made a magical ending to the four hour lunch. The meal was worth the journey!
I often feel nostalgic especially about food. At a Chinese shop recently, I found freshly made rice noodles that my mum used to often make and so when I invited my good friend, Mike over for dinner I thought it would be a perfect dish, stir-fried in a hot wok with prawns. As dessert I served moon cake which is now in season with yogurt dusted with raspberry powder!
I have always been convinced that champagne goes perfectly with the complicated and varied flavours of Asian food. A recent pairing of several vintages of Dom Perignon hosted by Raphael Vidigal at MEE restaurant in Rio de Janeiro proved my case.
Everyone who sampled our tasting menu matched with champagne totally agreed!
I travel whenever I can on British Airways and the main reason is the friendly and professional crew. I have just flown to Rio de Janeiro on BA and the crew, very international but full of British warmth made me feel as I was back in the UK. I invited them to have drinks and to sample some of our dishes at MEE restaurant. We sampled some beautiful sake and they sampled our tuna tartar as well as one of our best selling dishes – Crispy Vietnamese spring rolls and of course, our famous Crispy duck.
RMHC Gala Benefit Dinner – 5 Sept 2017
My good friend, Grace Fung got me involved with her RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charity) in Hong Kong but I wanted to do something for the RMHC in the UK. So at the last auction, we sold a gala prize…..dinner at my small flat in Paris. Ron, Gayle, Eddie and Maria were the lucky winners! We began with Salt & Pepper Prawns but the highlight was Peking Duck in three courses: The first course was the crispy skin dipped in sugar with crackling wonton crackers, the second course was the breast meat shredded – served with pancakes, spring onions and cucumber and sauce, the last course was all the leg and thigh meat chopped up and stir-fried with mushrooms and shallots, alas, I forgot to put in the diced pear apples. Too much good wine and a great and unforgettable evening on behalf of RMHC charity!
A good friend, Michiel took me to dine at one of the hottest new restaurants in Amsterdam located on the top floor of the W Hotel. It not only had a view to die for but great cooking as well. Although, it is in large part a steak house, the yellow tail sashimi was fresh, delicious and spicy. Michiel order the aged beef with foie gras which was tasty napped with a rich sauce. I had the sea bass spicy tomato casserole which was perfectly cooked with whole spicy fresh chilli. Beware the portions are large but the cooking is top notched.
One of my best memories of summer was the abundance of fresh vegetables, organically grown in home gardens. Each time friends would come to dinner laden with arm full of super delicious vegetables. I would like to share with you a favourite……stuffed marrow! The filling is 3 types of minced meat: pork, veal and beef with lots of onions, garlic and chopped core hollowed out from the marrow. Of course with salt and freshly ground black pepper. And the bonus is that it also freezes very well!
Wishing everyone a good end of summer! From my kitchen to yours!
Nothing in the world taste better than home made pizza with a luscious organic tomato sauce and young whole garlic! It was among the best lunch I have had all summer!
The best part of summer is the wonderful crop of fresh organic tomatoes. Nothing beats a good Pain bagnat which is summer in a sandwich. You need great bread, anchovies in olive oil, boiled eggs, of course — fresh tomatoes and finally, lots and lots of fresh basil! Heaven earth. Hope your summer is just as tasty as mines!
I am cooking away for family and friends……….and how can I resist? Here is a basket of the most wonderful cepes (porcini) that a local friend brought me!
Cooking for friends
Perhaps cooking for friends is one of my greatest joys. The other night, I invited Dr. Thanh Hoang-Xuan, one of the world’s top eye doctor and his son, Minh for dinner. We began with a favourite of mines, Salt & Pepper Prawns, easy to make and delicious and then we had fresh cod fillets which I actually steamed in the microwave. Minh, working with a start-up in Paris was amazed by the fish!
Whenever I am in Hong Kong (I tried to go at least twice a year), I always make it a point to eat at Yung Kee, famous for their roast goose. If you doubt their deliciousness, just view this video sent to me (to share) by my great and foodie friend, Grace Fung. Your mouth will be watering like mines. Worth a trip to Hong Kong!
We had our neighbour fete here in Paris. Everyone from plumbers to musicians to photographers to business men to artists and it the best thing — it was a multi-cultural mix of people from around the world. We celebrated life with each other’s cooking, one the best was a Mexican mole with chicken! I made Salt & Pepper Prawns and Ribs which I cooked for 3 hours! I am here with my plate of ribs! Of course, we drank lots of wine! Love & Peace Forever! It began at 1 pm and ended around 9 pm!
Whenever I am in the UK or London, one dish I must have is fish and chips. I love all versions of it and the Alain Ducasse version at the Dorchester Grill is a favourite. It comes out quickly and is light and delicious with a Gallic touch. A salmon and chickpea puree arrived instantly as soon as I order and then the wonderful fish & chips. A perfect quick lunch to satisfy my fish & chip addiction!
It has been a while since I have dined at Nobu and recently I did and it is among the most magical dining experience in London. From his classic yellow tail sashimi with fresh chilli to the crispy prawns served with three sauce, the ethereal uni sushi and the amazing crackling salmon skin, his famous black cod in miso and a new dish of dover sole fillets and a surprising grilled sea bass……a truly fish and seafood lover feast!
My favourite Chinese vegetarian dish is the Crispy Salt & Pepper Tofu at China Tang! It is a delicious perfectly cooked dish that even non-vegetarians love it. Crispy on the outside and toss with salt, chilli, pepper and custardy soft on the inside. I had it twice last week and I could not have made it better myself!
I was pleasingly surprised by small, down to earth restaurant name Da Pino in Transylvania. I went with the great British chef, Jeremy Lee and the head of the Oxford Cultural Collective. The service was impeccable but the food was absolutely delicious and simple……which is for me the best. We began with an array of Italian cured meats that was top notch. We had a lovely perfect cooked mushroom risotto and grilled vegetables with polenta. I am not a great fan of dessert but the tiramisu could have come from Jeremy’s kitchen!
I cooked dinner for my friend’s mum visiting from Switzerland. I made my classic Roast Pork Belly that was so popular when I cooked it on Saturday Kitchen. I served it with steamed sticky rice and stir-fried vegetables! Not a single piece of food was left over…….a good sign, perhaps?
The Good Earth
I think some of the best Chinese food in Europe can be found in the UK, especially London where the cuisine continues to evolve and modernise in a delicious way. Recently, I was invited with friends by Holland and Andrew Kwok to a wonderful banquet at The Good Earth at Wandsworth Common which illustrates my point so well. We ate course after course of innovative dishes such as Wagyu beef in a spicy sauce, a crispy prawn in a surprising wasabi coating, traditional crispy duck, green beans in black bean sauce and just simple stir-fried Chinese broccoli. The restaurant was packed out and I could easily see why!
A. Wong – my favourite Chinese London restaurant
I am often asked about my favourite Chinese London restaurant and I always answer that without a doubt it would be A. Wong in Victoria. My recent visit last week simply reinforces my judgement. We began with dim sum starters that were classic and spot on. I love Chef Andrew Wong’s take on the prawn cracker. Of course, his crispy duck was magical and his stir-fried fresh rice noodle dish reminded me of my childhood. His combination of Thai flavours with fish was something I could eat every day. A rich smoky spicy braised aubergine could have come straight out of a Chengdu kitchen. Andrew’s constant innovation was evident in his new addictive abalone dish which I could not stop eating even though I was full. No wonder this is my favourite Chinese restaurant in London!
Chinese Cricket Club at the Crowne Plaza London – The City
I think that London has some of the best Chinese food in Europe and I was thrilled to discover the Chinese Cricket Club at the Crowne Plaza London – The City under the wings of Chef Ken Wang who specialises in great Chinese cuisine with influences from Huaiyang, Sichuan, Shanghai and Canton with a dash of Pan-Asian and sometimes a modern Western twist. His dim sum was spot on. A crystal prawn was crackling with flavour. His fish seafood fried rice was topped with caviar while a simple stir-fried Chinese cabbage with mushrooms was impeccably cooked. The stir-fried spicy beef would make any Chinese chef proud. The sea bass steamed perfectly had a Thai spicy touch and the final masterpiece was his amazingly delicious pork belly stuffed with sticky rice. Chef Wang won me over as a new fan!
I am simply amazed how cooking has changed in the UK in the last 46 years. A few days ago, I had a most delicious lunch at the Harbar Bistro inside the Harbour Heights hotel at Sandbanks, Poole with a drop dead view of the sea. Chef Loic from France served a fresh sardine salad that was light but full of flavour and beautifully presented. For the main course, I chose grilled skate which I have not had in a long time. Perfectly cooked, it came easily off the bone and was tender and moist. I decided not to have dessert as I was quite full but the petit fours that came with coffee could not have been better. It is so refreshing to find great cuisine everywhere in the UK!
My birthday bash
I was lucky to be invited by my good friend, Alan de Paulo from São Paulo who made for me the perfectly most delicious birthday meal. I love it because it was simple, very tasty, light and made with the best ingredients. We began with an appetiser of farm eggs with home-made mayonnaise, a wink to a typical home cooked French dish with fresh spring asparagus. All washed down with plenty of Italian white wine. The main course was a baked fresh cod with a amazing crumble of aromatic spices with rice and green beans…..all very healthy as well. Of course, the dessert was my favourite cake, fraisier, a French type of strawberry shortcake. I must admit it was a meal that I could not have made better myself!
Dinner for friends at home
Often people ask me how I put together a fun, delicious dinner party at home especially in my small flat in Paris where I have a really tiny but efficient kitchen. On Sunday, for French friends from southwest France, Catus: I served a quick salt & pepper prawns which literally took minutes, they loved it. Followed by a simple fried rice and a lovely steam salmon with shreds of fresh ginger (in the microwave), splashed on with shredded of spring onions, soy sauce and a touch of hot groundnut/sesame oil at the last minute. Sichuan miso aubergine, cooked in advance and simple grilled. A simple but really delicious meal, of course with lots of good wines from Cahors!
I love stepping into a British Airways aircraft, I immediately feel at home and in Britain with the smiling faces and friendly manner of the crew. Last week, flying back to London from Rio de Janeiro, I was impressed by the menu offerings, as it was a night flight, so one should eat lightly. I choose the salmon gravlax with honey and mustard sauce, a perfect match. For the main course, I again chose Grilled marinated salmon with lemon and chive sauce with vegetable couscous and roasted pumpkin , exactly because I knew I could digest this easily. The salmon was moist and flavourful. Finishing off with the cheese platter, I feel into deep sleep and woke up ten hours later, refreshed in London!
I am often asked where do I go for dim sum in London. A great and convenient favourite has always been China Tang at the Dorchester. My great friend, David Tang, the inspiration behind the restaurant is also a real foodie. I recently tried his recommended Crispy chicken parcels which were delicious. A classic of steamed prawn dumplings could have easily come from any good kitchen in Hong Kong as well as the stuffed beancurd rolls. The crispy thin noodles with chicken was so good that it was finished before I forgot to take the photo! Sorry!
I was in London for the Ideal Home Exhibition in April and I had this longing for my favourite British dish: Fish & Chips So I popped into one of my regular haunts in London – Scott’s. I started with a plate of fresh English oysters that was briny and delicious. Then I had Scott’s simple version of fish and chips that was perfectly spot on. I left so happy and satisfied!
One of my favourite airlines to fly is British Airways. I always find the crew welcoming, smiling and willing to assist. Last week, I flew from London to Rio de Janeiro where I am working with my restaurant team at MEE. It was a memorable flight because of the meal. I love the idea of British Airways serving the best of British cuisine instead of trying to do international cuisine. My Loch Fyne Kinglas smoked salmon was delicately and subtly smoked and delicious. The Ploughman’s salad with warm Scotch egg, Wilshire ham, pork pie, picked onion, apple and red onion chutney reminded me of the best of pub food and was very comforting on the long haul flight. Instead of dessert, I could not resist the cheese plate which included a fantastic Shropshire Blue. All which made me homesick for the British Isles!
MEE visit 1
It has been sheer pleasure for me to visit my team at MEE at the Copacabana Palace here in Rio de Janeiro. Our fantastic chef, Kazuo and our amazing manager, Junior are working hard to maintain our Michelin star standards. Chef Kazuo made a fresh tuna tartar, followed by a raw scallop with wasabi sauce and bits of Wagyu beef. Our kitchen continues to cook with consistency. The Hong Kong prawns with glazed honey walnuts was spot on as the succulent grilled salmon with a Japanese sauce. The Pad Thai, a classic Thai noodle dish could have easily come from a Bangkok kitchen. The Wagyu ribs was cooked perfectly as was the Stir-fried spinach with garlic. More to come as I work my way through our Michelin star menu!
MEE visit 2
I am so proud of my team at MEE as I continue sampling the tuna carpaccio in citrus sauce as well as assorted fresh sashimi or simple sushi and seared salmon sashimi with spicy miso sauce and quail egg yolk. Under the eye of our talented chef de cuisine, Kazuo, even the comforting udon noodles with prawn tempura was as good as anything I had even eaten in Japan. Our Sichuan miso eggplant is a huge hit with not just vegetarians but all our customers as the aubergine melts with the rich miso.
Our Thai green chicken curry is spicy and packs a punch as does our special fried rice. And our barista makes spectacular exotic cocktails as well!
The Punter – Oxford
One of the great traditions I love in the UK is the Sunday late lunch at the local pub.
Last Sunday, I went with friends to their local pub, The Punter in Oxford after my talk at the Oxford Literary Festival. The food was delicious, tasty and unpretentious. From the Free range Scotch eggs, to the crispy Edamame bean with vanilla salt. I could not resist….Panko crumbed fish & chips with peas and tartar sauce, a lovely modern version of my favourite English dish. It was a magical day that was topped off by every one bringing their dogs…..I loved every moment!
FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival 2017
I had the most extraordinary experience when I was invited to the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival 2017 closing dinner held at The Great Hall, Keble College. The guest speaker for the beautiful amazing actress and writer, Maureen Lipman and we were lucky to eat the most delicious dinner designed and supervised by my great friend and chef, Jeremiah Tower. We had a delicate white truffle and celery root timbale with Cornish crab meat with artichoke, lobster and mussel essence balanced by a lemon parsley salad. This was followed by a hearty, and very tasty BBQ duck leg with a spring vegetable risotto with an ancho chili mint broth and we finished with a spectacular rose and rhubarb fool, meringues and crème carême dessert. An extremely fitting close to the festival’s 21 st anniversary!
Open House at the Central Embassy in Bangkok
I went to the opening of Open House at the Central Embassy in Bangkok. It is the creation of my good friend, Shane who is also the publisher of my Truffle book. Open House is a beautiful space with restaurants such as Peppina serving Italian pizzas, a wine bar, an oyster bar, ice cream bar, Thai restaurant, a grill restaurant……all surround by books, including mines! It is a must to visit when you come to Bangkok!
Tonkin-Annam – Bangkok
I am a great fan of Vietnamese cuisine. I find it flavourful, aromatic and light. I love their use of herbs and rice paper wrappers. Just before departing Bangkok, I was told to try Tonkin-Annam and how happy I was to sample their delicious cooking. It is a small unpretentious place near the grounds of the Royal Palace and certainly worth going. There is a wonderful rice paper stuffed with poached egg, crispy banana salad was tasty, the mung bean crepe was one of the best I ever had, as was the sugar cane with ground prawns. A stewed pork belly dish was another hit and the fresh spring rolls stuffed with prawns was quite amazing. We finished off with a sweet rice dumpling soup. Don’t miss this restaurant if you go to Bangkok!
Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen – Bangkok
I have known Francesco Lenzi from his fantastic cooking at the Muse Hotel in Bangkok and I was thrilled to learn that he opened his own place serving great Italian family food.
Lenzi Tuscan kitchen has the warmth of a welcoming comforting home with a open kitchen that is a hive of activity. Francesco is serving some of the best Italian cooking in Bangkok, I felt I had stepped back into Tuscany. A platter of sensational ham, sausage and cheeses from his family farm kicked off the evening. A refreshing salad of rocket with cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and Italian artichoke followed. A sea bass fillet with tomato, anchovy sauce with grilled polenta was perfect in its simplicity and packed with flavours. A final dish of stewed Tuscan sausage, again from the Lenzi farm in tomato sauce with cannellini beans and olives and herbs finished us off but left us so satisfied that we skipped dessert and just had coffee. The packed restaurant was testimony that only the best restaurants can survive the highly competitive Bangkok market. Lenzi Tuscan is certainly among them!
Le Cochon Blanc – Bangkok
My dining experience at the latest hot restaurant in Bangkok, Le Cochon Blanc was so good, I returned last week to try all the remaining items on the menu that I had missed previously. Lucky, I had booked because the restaurant was packed as the word of mouth seemed to have spread all over town. Ordering some of previously tried dishes confirmed our opinion about the high quality of cooking. Chef Chandler, presided over the hot open pit and cooking away with a happy smile.
The home smoked salmon was delicious but the Pate de Papy was as good as any I have had in France. The duck jambalaya was sensational and packed with flavours and spice, just the way I like it. I could eat the creamed spinach every night. And the baby carrots with Moroccan spices was magical. The chicken Piri Piri perfectly grilled, moist and flavourful with a sensational spicy piri piri sauce. The Tomahawk steak sold the show……a massive cut of wagyu beef slowly grilled on the bone was seasoned so well that it actually highlighted the great flavour of the beef. The Profitterole with homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce and the wonderful Apple tart with slow cooked apple with vanilla whipped cream finished us off. We all agreed that it was another amazing evening at Le Cochon Blanc. It will be on the top of my list when I return to Bangkok in the autumn.
Orihara sake bar – Bangkok
Japanese food mania seems to have gripped the Bangkok dining scene. Sometimes I feel I am in Tokyo…….so when I went to the Orihara sake bar, a branch of the Tokyo sake bar, I was not surprised to find a fantastic array of sake to choose from but delicious yakatori, Japanese street food on a skewer. Especially chicken from the liver to wings to the skin….in other words every part of the chicken. The seaweed and tofu salad was a good counter point. Do try the pork belly as well. Great food and amazing sake……..all in the heart of Bangkok!
Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar – Bangkok
Bangkok continues to surprise me by its quality of food and cooking. It is a city that not only has great Asian food but does European food just as well. Recently, I was invited to a dinner hosted by The Oxford Cultural Collective for a informal dinner at the Riedel Wine Bar & Cellar located at the Gaysorn shopping. We began with a delicious selection of artisanal charcuterie that was as good as any I have had in France with perfect sourdough toasted bread. A magical green pea soup with pancetta, smoked rainbow trout and crunchy walnuts. A wonderful combination of taste and texture. Grilled lamb chops with anchovies, rosemary mayonnaise and confit garlic was brilliant as well. A simple dessert of refreshing creme brulee was exactly the right finish to the meal.
Water Library Brasserie at Central Embassy, Bangkok
I am a great lover of Thai food but sometimes when I am in Bangkok, I do long for a good fish and chips. So where do I go? To the Water Library Brasserie at Central Embassy. The decor is out of 19th century Paris but the food is top notched. The delicious corn bread with truffle butter always a good way to open my appetite for my fish and chips!
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom here in a sunny spring like Tokyo!
However, the real treat for me has been the food. Truly amazing, worth the journey. I shall be sharing all the wonders of some of the most delicious food I have had in a long time in the coming days!
Tenichi Honten – Tokyo (Tempura house)
I don’t think it is possible to leave Tokyo without trying one of the glories of Japanese cuisine: tempura. I am always amazed how the Japanese was able to refine batter and deep-fried food without any hint of grease or fat. So I went to the best in Tokyo: Tenichi Honten. You are given a set called Otoshi that includes a salad and fern heads with a nutty sesame dressing to open your appetite. You can sit at the counter while the chef individually deep-fry each piece of food and serve you as it comes hot from the oil. We began with prawn, then a single piece of a small whole fish, followed by gingko nut, squid, conger sea eel, crab, uni (sea urchin) wrapped in nori (seaweed), sashimi. The meal is finished with miso soup, rice and Japanese pickles.
But I was shocked at the most simple dessert: Japanese melon that was the sweetest, juiciness and most delicious I had ever eaten in my life! A perfect farewell to one of the food capital of the world: Tokyo
Seiyoryori Shima – Tokyo steakhouse
When my good friend, Ron Batori raved about one of the best meals he had in Toyko, I knew I had to go check it out. I was not prepared for what was a simple steakhouse located in an obscure nondescript office building basement that was difficult to find even though I was with a Japanese friend. The restaurant seats about 25 and looks ordinary except for the food. Chef Oshima Manabu serves a mixture of Japanese/Western dishes such as delicious large briny Japanese oysters and Japanese beef that was out of this world. Get a seat on the counter so that you can see all the action from the open kitchen.
I had the most wonderful all black truffle menu, every dish was truly wonderful but we all agree the highlight was the sauteed foie gras with artichokes and piles of fresh black truffle slices. All this was enjoyed at the magical Alain Ducasse restaurant at The Dorchester in London!
Azabu Juban Ozaki – Tokyo
This restaurant certainly deserve its reputation for one of best sushi in Tokyo. Raves from close friends sent me there. The meal began with a mixture of tender octopus, special clams and sea cucumber in a light sauce. Then came a wonderful tuna belly sushi followed by hairy crab. A selection of sashimi tasted as if it came directly from the sea: uni (sea urchin), abalone, flounder and sweet shrimp. A delicious tile fish was so good that I devoured it and forgot to take a photo! Sorry! Equally good was a red sea bream on a stunning blue plate. I also loved the oyster steamed with seaweed. More sushi. Then we finished with a refreshing almond pudding with grapefruit and orange jelly. Another unforgettable evening!
Shirosaka – Tokyo
Just went I thought food could not get better here in Tokyo than I ate another spectacular meal. This time at Shirosake where the chef, Hideki II was the former chef of my good friend, Tetsuya from Sydney. Each dish was an exquisite masterwork, we began with a sensational quail eggs with tuna, followed by a rich
flavourful oxtail soup, then fried sea bass with nori, pork belly with dikon could not have been better as was the amazing tiny seasonal shrimp with somei noodles. A wagyu beef was so tender, you almost didn’t need to chew, finally rice followed and the dessert was a Japanese sandwich of rice crackers filled with mochi and strawberries. I thought: what an amazing city!
Sweet Po-Zu – Tokyo
About twenty years ago, I was introduced by Yuichi Yoshii, an expert in Japanese cuisine to this modest gyoza shop that serves some of the best dumplings I have ever had. They serve them pan-fried, poached in a light broth or steamed as buns and are the only items on the menu (except for rice & miso soup.) The restaurant seats only 16 and it situated in a district that is filled with bookshops and second hand book sellers. But is worth going just for these fantastic and most delicious gyozas! A must for any food lovers who is visiting to Tokyo!
Kikunoi – Tokyo
Considered one of the best restaurants in the world with three star Michelin, Kikunoi specialises in Kyoto Kaiseki cuisine the reflects the four seasons. We began with a poached red-pickled apricot bathed in a sea bream soft roe sauce. This was followed by an assortment of appetisers: bamboo shoot, squid, an unusual stalk, icefish sushi, rapini, fern heads, octopus with roe, lily bud petals with salmon roe and a mustard sesame seed dressed carrot. A sashimi of seasonal fish followed, then another sashimi of young blue fin tun with a magical mustard soy marinated egg yolk sauce, then we had a clam dumpling but what followed was one of the highlights of the evening: an whole abalone covered steamed in a cover of salt & seaweed which you push aside revealing the abalone with its liver sauce and sea urchin! Wow, what I could say! We then refreshen our palates with an assortment of salads. Followed by a hot pot with lobster, clam, sea bream, scallop and tofu. Steamed rice with sea bream and a cauliflower soup with Yuzu (Japanese lemon) fished our meal. We then had a choice of desserts: Toasted barley ice cream with rice cake and azuki bean paste or passion fruit sorbet in mango soup…….I tried both!
A truly memorable gastronomic voyage!
Just had another great meal at MEE with friends from Sao Paulo! Here are some of the highlights.
A must foodie experience for me when I am in Rio de Janeiro is a visit to Da Roberta food truck. Her addictive potato fries and delicious sandwiches are a must, all washed down with artisan beer!
When I hunger for great Italian food when I am in Rio de Janeiro, the place I go to is Cipriani where the new Italian Chef Nello from Naples is making innovative Italian dishes. I recently has the tastiest pork belly with a simple spicy salad. The venue is quite beautiful as well!
Feijoada A slave dish that has become a national dish. Traditionally served with great festivity at the midday meal. This simple meal was prepared by slaves from leftovers they were given. Well-seasoned black beans and a side dish of various savoury pieces of smoked and sun-dried pork and beef. A Saturday tradition in Rio == heavy meal follow by a long nap. Cariocas (the people from Rio) congregate here to the best feijoada can be found at the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel. It is fitting that Brazil’s most famous hotel would be serving the national dish. Be prepared to be very hungry and you must reserved the Saturday afternoon feijoada is extremely popular with the locals. The buffet is filled with of course, black beans, smoked and fried meats but also sausages of several types, salted meats, rice, oranges, salads complement this feast. Well worth the experience!
Issaya Siamese Club. The Issaya Siamese Club Restaurant is set in a beautifully restored colonial-style house built around 1920. It sits as an oasis amid the Blade Runner stacks of tall buildings of Bangkok and is surrounded by a lush tropical garden. A rare charming treat, indeed. But after several meals there with many serious food friends, we all agree that it is the food that wins our hearts and stomachs. Delicious, full flavour Thai food with a modern touch.
I had my annual Christmas party luncheon again this year at one of my favourite Thai restaurant, here in Bangkok: Baa/Ga/Din. The chefs: the Thai culinary star, Chef Ton and his fantastic sous-chef, Chandler. One of the guest of honour was the British cook/author and foodie : Sabrina Ghayour and her lovely mum, Shohreh Ghayour. Here is some of the amazing dishes over 30 guests enjoyed!
Merry Christmas to all of you and wishing you great health and good delicious food in the New Year!
In September, I went to the World Curry Festival and met the lovely Zulfi Karim, the Founder and Festival Director. He opened up a new world of culinary delights by taking me for dinner at the famed Tharavadu, home of Kerla cuisine in Leeds. It was a feast made in heaven!
I am often asked what is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. That is probably the most difficult answer. Hong Kong has some of the BEST Chinese restaurants in the world but still by far my favourite is Yan Toh Heen in Kowloon. Why? For me, it is Chinese cooking at its top, Michelin star quality but with simplicity… Perfection!!!
Whenever I am in Hong Kong and I am in the mood for something other than Chinese as well as looking for a quick lunch, I head for Nobu in Kowloon. The service is impeccable and fast and the food is top notched.
I usually order a great favourite of mines: Unagi Donburi, it comes with a salad and miso soup and if I am really famished, I would also order O-Toro Sashimi. You won’t be ever disappointed in Nobu’s classic dishes such as the Miso cod or the prawn popcorn or his wonderful seasonal salads.
Sometimes I think I am the luckiest person in the world. I get to eat some of the best food in the world. Hong Kong is certainly on the top of the list. My best friends, Grace & Kendall, serious foodies invited me to Dynasty restaurant in Hong Kong for a fantastic feast with friends. Here are some of the amazing dishes we enjoyed: A starter platter of chilled aubergine with mushrooms, crispy Chaozhou beancurd with the most tender BBQ pork, salted ox tongue and fish with five spice and chili; A perfect prawn dish with clams and asparagus, sautéed fillet of fish in black bean sauce, great seasonal vegetables, followed by a chicken baked with salt and then lobster with truffle essence and noodles and we finally finished with a mango cream with Chinese grapefruit. Lucky me!
It is quite an impossible task when dining in Hong Kong, every restaurant compete on a level which is one of the toughest in the world, especially for Chinese food. So I was not surprised when dining at Chinese Restaurant, Hyatt Regency Tsimshatsui to discover how delicious and good it was..magical is all I can say!
I don’t often get to Pattaya, about 2 hours from Bangkok, but when I do I always make my way first to Gian’s Italian Restaurant, it is great Italian food and the BEST pizza! It is real Italian!
Here is the pizza I just had a couple of weeks ago. I thought I was in Naples! It was so good and perfect!