Friday, January 23, 2009

Dragon Air

From Hong Kong to Shanghai.  I didn't touch the salad actually as I'm always a bit wary of seafood on planes.  

Some kind of signature chicken dish from the Chinese restaurant at Marriott.  Has anybody from the restaurant actually tasted this dish?  I can't imagine they serve anything close to this salty and chewy chicken coated with glop.  Actually the chicken was so tough I would have guessed it was cardboard if I hadn't seen the description on the menu. 

Bistro La Fourchette

It was almost 2:30 when we sat down at La Fourchette's "al fresco" table - over looking the mall.  I suspect we had just missed the lunch crowd as lunch can get so crowded in Pacific Place and I thought they say the economy is bad?

To be honest I wasn't really expecting much.  I knew the food would probably be OK as the place had always been churning out reliable dishes but hey isn't it what a bistro is all about.  

We both picked from the set-lunch menu.  My dad's onion soup seemed (and smelled) nice.

My beef consomme was very flavourful.  It's something that I would not even dream of making at home as there's so much work involved!

Burger with fries.  My dad totally OD'ed on white pepper here but he said the burger was fine.  I stole some of his fries and they were the usual frozen variety and nothing special.

Spaghetti with meat sauce.  Again very average but then I don't know what they could have possibly done for a dish as simple as this to make it nicer.  It's just meat sauce after all.
La Fourchette
L/G Pacicfic Place, Admiralty. Hong Kong. Tel: 2522-8830


Penne puttanesca (HK$100).  A simple but very delicious pasta dish with anchovies, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes.  Surprisingly I was not thirsty after the meal.  A bit pricey but acceptable when White Spot in the same mall wants over HK$60 for a burger combo.  
Grappa's Ristorante
Shop 132 Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong.  Tel: 2868-0086

Dragon Air

Dragon Air's food has deteriorated so much over the last 3 years I don't expect much at all these days.  I pretty much just count on filling my tummy with Haagan Dazs  - I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the ice cream stays.

Our very uninspiring starter.  We got fruits because it was supposed to be breakfast, even though it was noon by the time we got food.  Why?  It was just one of those delays, which happens 8 out of 10 flights.  Oh no, I'm not bitter.

The heavily nuked pastries.  We almost got second-degree burns by handling them.  The croissant was easily the greasiest piece of pastry in the world.

Breakfast choices were some very plastic-looking eggs or dim sum.  I went for the dim sum and it was a mistake.   The piece of turnip cake was floury with virtually no turnip and I didn't near go near the siu mai looking thing with spinach on top.  The filling in the green dumpling tasted the same as the white one, and I couldn't tell what it was.  Whatever it was it's very persistent as it repeated on me over and over all day.  Yikes.


I read so much about Nova when the girls suggested it as our lunch venue I was more than happy to give it a try. 

The regular menu has all the usual suspects you would expect in a French restaurant in Asia: think mushroom soup, foie gras, escorgots, and lots of steaks for some reason.  There is also a lunch menu: with 3 choices for each course.  For RMB88 you get 2 courses and RMB108 for 3.  We thought it's too good of a deal to pass and so we all ordered from the lunch menu.

The health-conscious ladies naturally went for starters instead of desserts.  Here's the salad with bacon slices with mustard vinaigrette sauce.  It looked pretty well prepared and nothing negative was said about it.

Pan-fried sirloin steak, green beans and mushroom.  This is where things began to go downhill.  While I am not into fancy plate decorations this is just taking the pi$$.  Everything was just thrown together and I have to say it looked pretty sad.  And what they called sirloin would probably be better described as minute steak.  Considering how thin the slice of meat was, it's pretty talented to have it as chewy as it was.  At least my friend J was being nice about it:  It's chewy but it's just like what you get in France, she said.  

Ocean perch fillet with black olive sauce, vegetable tagliatelle with sesame.  My first thought was where's the back olive sauce?  Then I thought OK it shouldn't matter if the ingredients were fresh as the sauce could be overpowering.  Unfortunately the last time my ocean perch saw the ocean was probably years ago.  It didn't taste of anything at all I thought to myself I might as well be eating a piece of cardboard.  And while the idea of vegetables tagliatelle is enticing they were disappointing to say the least.  The carrot strips were cooked to death and again didn't have any taste.  Same story with the beans.  As hungry as I was I couldn't make myself to finish it and I don't usually leave food on my plate.  

Caramel creme with coconut and raisins.  By that point I wasn't expecting much but surprisingly J said it wasn't bad.

Apple tart with vanilla ice cream.  It was slightly dry but it wasn't bad.  The apples were tart and not too sweet and I liked the pie crust.

I am not sure if they are sacrificing quality to make their lunch menu prices a bit more attractive, as prices on the regular menu are quite a bit more, with starters starting at RMB60 and mains at RMB150 on average.  Either way I will think twice about coming to this joint again.

418 Dagu Rd.(nr. Shimen Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6340-1889


My visit to the always reliable Bellagio was long overdue. It had been at least 8 months!

Our black pepper beef on hot plate had so much more beef this time (see previous meal here). Coated with a rich and thick black pepper sauce, the beef was juicy and tender as usual.

Braised beef noodles. The soup base was very robust and beefy to begin with the slices of beef were just incidental. It made noodles so much more interesting!

Crispy chicken. The skin looked and sounded crispy but we didn't try it. The meat was succulent like a spring chicken. Loved it!

Stir-fried beans with lotus bulbs and rice cruellers. We liked the combination of texture with the cruellers being crispy and the lotus bulbs almost spongy.

Sichuan beef in chili oil. It was pleasantly more numbing than spicy.
The bill came to just over RMB300. Somehow they must have sneaked their prices up like most places in Shanghai!

68 Tai Cang Rd. (nr. Hubin Rd.), Shanghai. Tel: 6386-5701


Having tried the brunch menu at Azul, which is a lot more interesting than its regular lunch, I decided that I will never need to go back  during the week.  Why eat hamburger when you can have steak?

To start off our meal we were given some muffins and scones.  While the muffins were more like sponge cakes the scones were rich and firm with that nice buttery smell.  Hmmm.

Azul's version of bruschetta.  The twists were tapenade, parma ham and the Parmesan.  It was lovely!  I am not usually a big fan of bruschetta as I find chopped onions and garlic way too strong and it leaves an after taste in my mouth for a long time.  With this version I guess my palate was pleasantly distracted and I didn't mind it so much as a result.  An excellent start indeed!

Smoked salmon crepes.  I was taken by surprised when I bit into one as there were chopped eggs inside.  A very nice touch!

My husband's steak and eggs.  He didn't have any problem polishing it off the plate.  

Risotto with duck.  Creamy and delicious.
The 2-course brunch with a drink was under a RMB100 per person.  I forgot how much it was exactly but it's excellent in value for sure.   I'd love to go back again.

There's one disturbing question though: is it me or does the place smell of urinal fresh?  Perhaps I've mistaken the scent but the place always smells like bathroom air freshener to me.

18 Dong Ping Rd. (nr. Heng Shan Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6433-1172

Coffee Tree

This was our first time ever eating at Coffee Tree.   The variety of dishes on offer was a lot more than I expected and prices were reasonable.  

My pasta with meat sauce(~RMB40).  It was not too bad at all!  The pasta was a little over-cooked but the sauce was zingy with chucks of vegetables.  Most importantly it was not sweet and it was better than I expected.

Chicken panini (~RMB35).  My husband thought the portion was too small.  Its taste didn't leave an impression neither.
Coffee Tree - many locations in town.

Citizen Cafe

Our plan for lunch was to try out the new Eduardo Vargas creation Osteria but to our disappointment it "ran out of food" for that particular day.  How strange.  We settled in the very busy Citizen Cafe at the end.   

Bread was soft and warm.  I suspect the fact that we were starving at that point anything would have tasted good.

Nasty nachos(RMB39).  My husband said it wasn't nasty enough, or it was very nasty, depending on how you look at it.   The chips were Doritos chips which was odd if you ask me.

Spring chicken with Lyonnaise potatoes(RMB85).  Somehow we got fries instead.  It's one of those strange chicken with no breast/body but just wings and legs.  For someone like my husband who hates skin and bones he was not very satisfied to say the least.

Grilled New Zealand rack of lamb with char grilled vegetables(MB132).  The lamb was tender and nicely grilled but I felt like I was grossly overpaying for what I got.  Besides, the pesto sauce was way too salty and overpowering.

Basically they are charging restaurant prices (expensive too by SH standards) but they are offering cafe settings and standards.  Think smokey and noisy coffee shop with people jabbering away while you are trying to have your mediocre meal.  Not a good experience.

222 Jin Xian Rd. (nr. Shan Xi Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6258-1620

Thursday, January 22, 2009

M on the Bund

We thought we would treat ourselves to a nice lunch to celebrate the start of 2009, since going out for dinner seems virtually impossible these days with a 6-month old at home.  Lunch at M on the Bund is actually pretty good value.  And it's always less crowded, which is a nice bonus.  

From the monthly set lunch menu we had roasted winter vegetables.  It was very nicely presented and my husband said it was as interesting as vegetables could ever get.  I take it as a compliment.

I went for the smoked salmon with beetroot chips.  Everything tasted delicate.

Duck risotto in pastry on yam.  It looked so impressive but surprisingly my husband said it wasn't that exciting in taste.   Let's say his taste buds were not stimulated.  

My pan-fried mullet fillets.  It was very simple but it tasted good.  Fresh fish makes all the difference.

We couldn't resist the M's very famous pavlova.  It was huge!  I am cutting out dairy but when I saw it I though what the heck.  It was to die for!!!  Under the fruits we had mango ice cream on top of crunchy egg white.  I loved the passion fruit sauce as well.  Too bad I couldn't eat too much of it or I'd upset my Little One's stomach.  Someday I will go and pig out on the pavlova again!
M on the Bund
7/F, 5 on the Bund, Shanghai.  Tel: 6350-9988

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ajisen Noodles

Ajisen Noodles has quite a bad reputation in Hong Kong.  To be fair you can't really expect too much when it's obvious the chain is not exactly advertising on quality or authenticity.  It's a fast food joint which serves Japanese-inspired food.  Once you get your mindset right then it's not really that bad.  I like the price tags anyway.

Japanese dumplings(RMB9).  They were edible and tasted just like the microwavable stuff you buy in convenient stores.

Hot and spicy noodles with some kind of pork(RMB22).  There are quite a few choices for noodles on the menu but they all seemed pretty similar to me.  Despite my low expectations the dish was still pretty unsatisfying.  The noodles were not bad but there was so little of it.  I was still pretty hungry afterwards.  I am somewhat glad that I didn't eat more than I did because I got so thirty afterwards it must have been MSG.

Ajisen Noodles - many branches across town.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Peter's Tex Mex

I find Peter's Tex Mex highly addictive.  I guess I constantly have a junk-food fix.

We started with some yummy quesadilla with chicken.  I like the fact that it stayed firm even with the melted cheese.  I hate soggy quesadilla! 

Chicken burrito.  My husband has it every time.

Chili dog.  It was marginal.  The chili on top was not nothing special - it reminded me of the sloppy joe directly from a tin.  The hot dog itself was disappointing too: the wiener was so small I almost missed it.

At least my chicken burger was as good as usual.  I should find out what's in the batter.  If I could do this at home I will be having chicken burger everyday!

Peter's Tex Mex
Unit 7, Lane 3911 Hong Mei Rd.(nr. Yan An Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6261-2505

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Raspberry tart from Paul.  It was so good I was almost in tears.
Paul (many locations in town)
Dong Ping Rd, Shanghai. Tel: 5465-9130

Simply Thai

Simply Thai is normally pretty good but the meal we had in its Hongmei Road branch was average at best.  This is the problem with chain restaurants even though the menu is identical you never know what you would get.  

We started with some spring rolls.  They didn't taste particularly fresh and the fillings were too wet.

At least the BBQ chicken was delicious as it had always been.  It was so good we actually ordered another one. 

Green curry chicken.  The sauce was nice but there were something like 5 pieces of chicken in total.  Why so stingy?

Thai fried noodles with beef.  It was very greasy but plain tasting.  The ratio for beef, noodles and veg was all wrong too.  Next time we will stick to the branches downtown.
28 Hong Mei Road Food Street, Shanghai.  Tel: 6465-8955

Christmas lunch

Our first Christmas in Shanghai turned out to be quite successful.  We cheated by ordering a cooked turkey this year but it saved us a lot of hassle.  We figured the frozen variety they sell in the supermarket wouldn't be too nice anyway so why bother?  

Here is our bird.  We could smell it all the way home in the car and we couldn't wait to dig in.  It was as delicious as turkey can get!  The meat was moist and tender.

Vegetables were optional but we thought we would be lazy all the way.  We don't normally have yam and it was a very nice surprise.

The meal even came with a pecan pie and it was definitely the star.  As full as we were we managed to wolf down half of it.  The pie crust was to die for.

We were pretty happy with the meal but there were a couple of hang ups.  First of all there was not enough gravy.  There was just enough for the two of us and we could imagine the frustration if you have a family of 4 to feed.   The stuffing (while plenty) was not the best we had.  I suppose we are more used to the bready type stuffing and this almost gelatin creation with with bits of chestnuts was a little odd to us.  I wish there were more chestnuts too!

Prices for this year:
Turkey 5kg RMB 998, RMB1288 with vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and pecan pie
Turkey 7kg RMB1288, extra for trimmings

500 Wei Hai Rd., Shanghai.  Tel: 6256-8888