Thursday, December 22, 2011

La Brasserie

My favourite place to have a casual yet delicious meal in London.  Love the retro dining room as well.
Asparagus served warm with hollandaise sauce (£8.90).
Escagots with garlic and parsley sauce (£10.20).
Duck confit with potato gratin (£17.90).
Steak tartare with fries (£21.50).  Once again we left very happy with full tummies.  We are looking forward to our next visit already!
La Brasserie
272 Brompton Road, London, UK, SW3 2AW.  Tel: 0207 581-3089

Zizzi Restorante

A quick lunch stop at Zizzi, a UK chain Italian restaurant with some eighty branches across the country.  The branch we went to was at Finchley Road.  We didn't expect much but it didn't disappoint.  Our quattro stagioni pizza (£8.95) and carne piccante calzoni (£9.95) were reasonably tasty and service was good.  The place seemed spotlessly clean and bright - a good reliable choice for a quick stop!

Zizzi Restorante
Finchley Road O2 Centre, London,  NW3 6LU, UK.  Tel: 0207 4338259

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We tried the tasting menu at Chicha when it first opened its door.  We decided to try the 12-course tasting menu so we could try a bit of everything from the rather big and sometimes complicated menu, as we are not really familiar with Peruvian food .  To sum up our visit we were quite happy with the food in general but the thing I remember most about the meal is the fact that we had ceviche after ceviche as the dishes were served.  I heard that the tasting menu had since been improved and instead of ceviche there is more variety now.

Our first course was seabass ceviche. Loved the dressing and the freshness of the fish.
Our second ceviche.  There were thin slices of sea bass in a slightly different sauce with sweetcorn.
Another ceviche with octopus.  The dressing was quite similar to the second dish.  Surprisingly the octopus was not very rubbery and it was quite a refreshing dish.
Fried mushroom wonton.  A bit to the dry side and probably the dish we least enjoyed.
This was not part of the tasting menu.  One of our friend arrived really late and had to order separate from the a la carte menu.  She didn't think much of her salad, mostly due to that fact that it was drowning in dressing.
Back to our tasting menu again.  I'm not entirely sure what the dish was but it was a seafood dish for sure.  Crab meat perhaps?
Vegetarian risotto from a la carte menu.  It was very rich and filling.  We all had a taste and liked it.
Beef anticuchos from the tasting menu, they were basically skewer of beef with Peruvian flavours, served on potatoes and chimchurri.  I think it was the most delicious dish for the evening.
Pork chicharrones.  Twice-cooked pork with molasses glaze on sweet potatoes.  I don't remember much about the dish I have to say.
Rack of lamb.  Again I didn't get to try any but my friends loved it.
Grilled cod.  Fish was cooked to perfection and it was another welcoming dish for our non-raw-fish eating friend.
Fillet of beef.  I think it was much appreciated by our meat-lover friend and our pregnant friend.  By then I was too full after all the ceviche which many were not keen on (and they asked me to finish them off) and I didn't try the beef.
An assortment of desserts.  Cute but not really memorable.
Dessert from a la carte menu. 
Sinan Mansions, Block 33, 47 Fuxing Rd. West, nr. Sinan Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6418-0760

Sir Elly's

Set dinner (RMB580) at Sir Elly's again. Our amuse bouche with chestnut mousse, if I remember correctly.
Jasmine soup/foam.  I am not big with foam but I did like the faint but interesting jasmine flavour in the soup.  
Scallops with endives.  I actually like the slight bitterness of endives and the tangy sauce went really well with it.  Scallops were cooked to perfection.
My smoked lobster and gnocchi came in a smoke-filled glass container before it got tipped out on my plate.  You could definitely taste the smoke, which added another interesting element to the already interesting texture of the lobster.  I wonder if it was cooked sous-vide then smoked?  The texture felt super tender and soft, it was like nothing I had tasted before.  I loved the truffle-infused gnocchi as well.
Pork fillet cooked in 3 ways - barbecued, braised and grilled.  The BBQ version reminded us of Cantonese BBQ pork a lot.  All in all all were tender and nicely executed. 
A refreshing watermelon and grapefruit sorbet to clean the palate.
Chocolate souffle.  I could eat a light and fluffy souffle any day.
Our very pretty petite four.  A very satisfying meal indeed.
Sir Elly's
13/F, Peninsula Shanghai, The Bund, Shanghai.  Tel: 2327-6756

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pho Asia

I was on a quest to try out all the pho places in town.  I thought the search was over when we got to Pho Asia, as we were genuinely happy with everything we tried....until we saw 3 giant rats running across the false metal-grid ceiling!!!
 Vietnamese sausage salad.  The dressing was very tangy and refreshing.  The sausage was authentic and with the delicious dressing cucumber never tasted so good!
The curry beef dish got all the right spices and wet really well with the tender beef.
In the lunch set we got a small portion of spring rolls to start.  They were not the best spring roll but they were reasonable.
Beef pho.  The broth was rich and tasty and with a decent cut of beef, it was one of the better pho I had tried in Shanghai.  Too bad the place was infested with rats and that management was so down right rude about it!
Pho Asia
85 Fumin Rd. (nr Julu Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 5212-1257

Pho No. 1

Pho No. 1 is a fairly popular chain with 4 branches across town.  I heard good reviews but I have to say I was hugely disappointed after my first visit.  Are we talking about the same restaurant here?  The pho we ordered lacked flavours, it was salty beef broth with noodles and a few bits of beef products floating around at best. 
The pho in hot and sour soup was equally bad.  It looked fierce but it was not hot nor spicy and again it lacked flavour. 
Our beef curry was very average also.  The sauce tasted like curry paste with water and it lacked the complexity a good curry should have.  Don't think I will be back in a hurry.
Pho No. 1
781 Huangjin Cheng Dao (nr. Gubei Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6290-7669

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bravo 10

Bravo 10, a Spanish restaurant, apparently closed three months into its opening.  Why am I not surprised? Below-average food, bad service, and a somewhat off-the-beaten-track location - good luck.

We went for lunch and decided to go for the set lunch (RMB78/2 courses and RMB98/3 courses).  There were 3 soups or 3 salads to choose from but 2 of the soups were not available.  We settled for the vichyssoise, which was served hot.  It tasted like a blend version of cream of potato without much starchy potatoes.  On the Chinese menu the dish was labelled Spanish, perhaps just to trick the unsuspected and to make it sound more authentic, as nothing on that lunch menu was very Spanish.
We ordered a chorizo dish from the tapas menu.  It wasn't too bad.
Chicken breast in tomato and creamy sauce.  I could probably make a better tasting and looking dish and I am not much of a cook. 
Duck in orange.  Presentation was a bit better than the chicken dish but it was pretty dreadful in taste.  Duck was rubbery and overcooked and the sauce blah.
After our underwhelming courses we asked for our panna cotta and to our surprises we were told no.  The waitress said unless we indicated we wanted dessert when we placed our orders.  We spent 5 mins arguing that we were not eating at a fast food joint and reluctantly she agreed to change her till and added the dessert on.  Gee.  We didn't think we would ever go back again.  
Bravo 10
10 Baoqing Rd. (nr. Fuxing Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6437-5805

Pho Season

Lunch at Pho Season, another new pho place in town. The set lunch came with a salad and a couple of spring rolls as starter, then an elective main. 
Dry noodles with spring rolls and pork. 
Beef pho.  We thought the set lunches were pretty good value.  Even though nothing was outstanding everything was reasonable.   Nothing stood out but we were not unhappy, especially in a city where good Vietnamese food is lacking.  Will go back again if I'm in the area.
Pho Season
427 Dagu Rd. (nr. Shimen Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 6327-3778

Xiao Yang's Fried Dumpling 小杨生煎

I finally got a chance to try the legendary fried dumplings.  The perpetuate lines in the shop turned me away a few times.  It wasn't just the lines but rather the lack of system, as it's not very clear which line to go to.  Luckily on this fateful day my friend and I decided to have some dumplings after our extremely unsatisfying lunch at a sushi joint in the same food complex.

For RMB5 you get 4 dumplings.  First you need to line up at the cashier to pay.  Then you get a little receipt and you can line up to collect the dumplings.  The rest of the dishes are cooked and collected at the next window.   Then you grab a table.  A drag but there is some kind of order to it I guess.

The dumplings seemed quite greasy but I told myself not to worry as other patrons were eating them by the dozen!  The pastry was quite thin and almost crunchy, but sturdy enough to hold up the broth as well as the pork filling inside.  Everything tasted nice enough, and the broth came to a nice surprise as I didn't expect liquid inside.  The only issue was the broth, which tasted way too salty to me.   
Almost everybody ordered this beef noodle dish and of course I had to give it a try. I believe the menu suggested it's curry base, which got me very confused.  The broth had a very thin favour (read: salty coriander water) to begin with and there was no sign of curry taste.  Can skip it next time.
Xiao Yang's Fried Dumpling 小杨生煎
2/F, 269 Wujiang Rd. (nr. Maomig Rd.), Shanghai.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

伊秀 Classic Sushi

My friend saw the restaurant reviews on a local food network and decided we should give it a try.  By the time we arrived we walked straight in without checking out the menu and the venue first - big mistake.
The place was set up as a conveyor belt sushi place.  We set down and looked at what was on the belt.  Not good at all.  Everything looked dull and old - a big no no for sushi.  I would normally eat supermarket sushi (and they don't always look too good) but I was honestly frightened when I saw the stuff on the belt. 
We decided to order from the set lunch menu.  My friend's gyudon (beef bowl) looked and tasted like Chinese stir-fry.  As a stir-fry it was not bad but as far as gyudon is concerned it was a big disappointment.  And why were there green and red bell peppers?
The rest of the dishes in the set lunch.  For RMB39 it's probably good value for some.  Perhaps that's why there are good reviews written about this dreadful place.
My beef udon (RMB29).  It was average at best but at least there were no nasty surprises.  
We sampled our food quickly and briefly and left hungry.

伊秀 Classic Sushi
Shop 304-305, 269 WuJiang Rd. (nr. Maoming Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 3250-1872