Thursday, March 29, 2012

duck confit with orange sauce

Seems like there are difference ways of curing the duck legs and after a couple of trials we came to the conclusion that 24 to 36 hours of salting is sufficient. Any more the meat would get way too salty. Basically you lay duck legs out flat on tray and sprinkle salt and garlic on top.  We added some optional herbs and spices but it;s not really necessary.  Leave to refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.  When it's time to cook them wipe off all the salt and spices and submerge legs into melted duck (or goose) fat in heavy casserole pot.  Cook in 90C to 100C oven or until skin is receded from the bone.  We decided that it's not necessary to have a sauce on top as the meat is really tender and flavourful to begin with.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Xmas leftover

I never thought I'd want to eat ham or turkey again after the feast we had over Christmas but I have to say I feel hungry again now that I am looking at this picture.  I would kill for that homemade sausage roll and cranberry sauce.  And by the way Christmas ham from Fortnum and Mason was excellent!

The Turf

A hidden pub nestled on the bank of Exe Estuary.  With huge gardens and the fact that it can only be reached by foot or boat makes it a very special pub to visit.  On the day of our visit the usually good hot kitchen was closed so we were having sandwiches, cheese platter and of course pasty. 
The Turf
Exe Estuary, near Powderham, Devon, UK.  Tel: 01392 832545

Michael Caine @ Gidleigh Park

It's been exactly a year since our last visit to Gidleigh Park.  We kept trying to come back but the place was always fully booked.  This time we were actually organised enough to plan it ahead of time. 

At the lounge we were greeted with a fabulous amuse-bouche while we browsed the menu.  All four of us agreed that it would be a sin to not go for the 8-course dinner.
Our first course was tartar of marinated tuna, scallops and lime, Oscietra caviar, soused turnip and beetroot, wasabi cream, honey and soy vinaigrette.  Simple yet the chef incorporated a number of interesting flavours together.
Terrine of foie gras, Madeira jelly, truffled green bean salad.  Great quality foie gras and jelly, but the real gem was the truffled green bean salad.  I am not a big truffled fan but the salad was delicious!  I'd eat green beans everyday if I could make it taste so good.
Cornish sea bass, roasted with anise spice, lobster and bouillabaisse sauce.  Just like our last visit the fish dish was the strongest dish for the night.  Fish and lobster were cooked to perfection.  It was so good I found myself eating extra slow just to savor the taste.
Partridge, quince puree, braised chicory, marinated raisins and a Gewürztraminer wine sauce.  I was a little surprise to see that the same dish was on offer again.   Not that I mind as it was an excellent dish nonetheless.  A perfect winter dish.
West Country beef fillet, wild mushrooms, shallot and horseradish confit smoked bone marrow and a red wine sauce.  I had to have my beef well-done and sadly it was ruined as a result.  The meat was so tough I did not enjoy it at all.  The rest of the table told me theirs were tender and juicy though.
A selection of South West cheeses, Sharpham Elmhirst, Quickes Mature Cheddar, Slow Tavy and Harbourne Blue.  Same selection as our last visit. 
Exotic fruit salad, passion fruit sorbet and crystalline of pineapple.  Again the same as the last menu.  We did enjoy the pineapple crystalline again.
Caramel and cardamom parfait, milk chocolate mousse, nougatine and a cardamom foam.  An excellent dessert to round up the meal. 
Tea and petits fours.  Another very impressive and satisfying meal at Gidleigh.  We will be back again!
Michael Caine @ Gidleigh Park
Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon, TQ13 8HH, UK.  Tel: 01647 432367

Frankie's Place

Another satisfying lunch at Frankie's. Nyonya Belachan fried rice (RMB28).  Loved the Naonya Belachan sauce but some might find it a little too fishy.
Fish balls and pork with rice noodle (RMB25).  A Singaporean staple. 
Sambal fish cakes (RMB20).  Loved the slightly spicy sambal sauce.  It was a perfect match with the fish cakes.
Last but not least my friend P's faourite Cao Hor Fan (RMB32), completed with pickled chili.
Frankie's Place
546 Huang Hua Rd. (nr. Hong Jing Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 5476-1068

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Cook

Lunch at the Cook and once again I was trying Malaysian dishes. They didn't disappoint!  The BBQ pork and minced pork noodle was cooked to perfection, and it was one of the better BBQ pork I had in Shanghai.  And we liked our tender and juicy satays very much too.

The Cook
G/F, Kerry Hotel, 1388 Hua Mu Rd. (nr. Fang Dang Rd.), Pudong, Shanghai.   Tel: 6169-8888

Baker & Spice

Laksa in Baker and Spice was surprisingly flavourful and spicy.  Even though it was no competition to the version at The Cook, it was a refreshing choice at Baker and Spice.  Thumbs up for not taming the taste down to fit in with the rest of the continental menu.
Baker & Spice
G/F, Kerry Parkside, 1378 Hua Mu Rd. (nr. Fang Dang Rd.), Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 6289-9975

Isola Shanghai

Another set lunch at Isola. I didn't take pictures of the antipasto and dessert spreads but let's say my friend C and I were both really happy with the choices.

For C's main she got a seafood risotto but it was a little too fishy for her taste.
I had cravings for cheese that day and therefore tried the gnocchi with gorgonzola.  If you are a blue cheese fan you would love it, otherwise it would probably be too strong for some.
Isola Shanghai
4/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5012-1277 

Takumi Robata & Sakebar 炉匠

I was back to Takumi again, despite almost suffered from hearing loss last time.   What was I thinking?  We enjoyed the food but the waiters' continuous yelling was too much to handle. We found ourselves clenching every time someone decided to scream welcome in Japanese at the top of his/her lungs.  Perhaps next time (if there is a next time) we will book a table upstairs to be in peace.

Sushi lunch set (~RMB150).
Beef sukiyaki (~RMB130).

Takumi Robata & Sakebar 炉匠  
4/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5011-1677 

Pho No. 1

It wasn't until I sat down and ordered before I realised that I had actually tried Pho No. 1 before and I did not like it one bit. Doh! I was hoping for better food as it was a different branch after all but no luck for me. My beef pho was very average but at least it was edible.  I can't say the same about the Vietnamese sausage.  The texture and taste were so dodgy I ate half a piece and left the rest.  It felt like it was disintegrating and I wasn't going to risk food poisoning.  Will not go back ever!

Pho No. 1
633 Bi Yun Rd. (nr. Yun Shan Rd.), Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5030-7571

Napa Wine Bar and Kitchen

Nestled in an old converted garden mansion right next to the JW Marriott on Naning Road Napa Wine Bar and Kitchen looks very cute yet spacious and special.  The wine lists seemed extensive, especially when compared to the relatively short dinner menu.  I guess the focus is understandably on wine.

Salmon sashimi as amuse-bouche. Not sure if it really stirred up our appetites. 
Pasta with pesto and tomato (RMB78).  A solid pasta dish in starter size.  Loved the pesto sauce.
Seared duck breast on salad (~RMB90). Duck was tender but it didn't save this dish from being average.
Beef carpaccio with merlot dressing, creme fraiche, parmesan (RMB88).  It was probably the best starter for the evening.  Loved the merlot dressing.  
King prawn bisque (~RMB80).  The feedback was good.
Seared Australian beef (RMB268).  We noticed all the main courses were at least RMB260 and some were over RMB350.  A bit pricey for what was on offer.  Side dishes were extra.
Vegetarian risotto (RMB138).  It was actually a good alternative if you want to avoid the pricey meat dishes.
Apple pie.  We all liked it a lot.  We didn't think we would go back in a hurry though for the food.  For the pries they are charging there are plenty of choices.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


We finally got to try the legendary海底捞 hotpot! The nation-wide chain is famous for its impeccable services, which include manicures for lady customers waiting in line.  We have yet to experience it as we tried its catering service this time. 
Two waiters showed up with out food and set everything up 30 mins prior to our meal time.  They brought everything.  And when I said everything I meant EVERYTHING!  Apart from all the pots and pans and eating utensils they even had hair scrunchies for the ladies! 
I have to say the food was average but everything looked fresh and clean.  We felt very looked after as the waiters did everything for us.  He was really knowledgeable when it came to which dipping sauce to have and his attention to details was remarkable.  He remembered when food had gone in the pot and was able to tell us whether a certain item was cooked.  He was even a noodle pulling expert! 
Given the reasonable prices (we ordered way too much food with lots of seafood items) and it came to less than RMB200 a head we will definitely do it again. 
Check website for branches and catering info.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Isola Shanghai

Weekend brunch (RMB218/person) at Isola.  From what I could see the antipasti and dessert spreads looked pretty much the same as the weekday lunches yet they charged extra for weekends.

On that day I had cravings for beef carpaccio (RMB128) so decided to skip the set brunch.  The beef was great and the good-quality vinegar put the cherry on the icing.
Pizza with tomato and basil from the brunch menu.
Pizza piccante (RMB138).  The crust was nice but the toppings were nothing special.
Isola Shanghai
4/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5012-1277

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tasty Congee & Noodle 正斗粥面专家

Tasty Congee & Noodle is a Hong Kong institution for wonton and congee with a number of branches.  The Shanghai branch is serving extra dishes like BBQ meats and we were excited to try some.  Our BBQ pork came out looking and tasting authentic, a good fix if for our Canto food cravings.
The famous wonton.  I am not a wonton expert and I don't usually care about wonton but these tasted pleasant with fresh prawns.  I like that they were bite size as well and they had the perfect filling/ pastry ratio. 
Beef brisket noodles.  A popular Hong Kong street-food dish but hard to come by in Shanghai.  This version was one of the better ones with tender and flavourful beef.  The noodles hit the right notes too.  Our Canto cravings fix did not come cheap, lunch for two came close to RMB150.
Tasty Congee & Noodle 正斗粥面专家
3/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 5012-3998

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shinmachi 新町

We found ourselves back to Shinmachi again despite the average food on our last visit.  Chopped toro set (RMB150).  The tuna looked fresh and my friend L seemed to enjoy it.
Minced toro roll with spring onions (RMB72).  Surprisingly it was delicious with crunchy and fresh seaweed stealing the limelight.
Sadly I couldn't say the same about my katsudon set(RMB65).  The pork was really fatty and gristly I kept spitting it out.  Disappointing.
Shinmachi 新町
159 Ma Dang Rd. (nr. Xing Ye Rd.), Shanghai.  Tel: 3366-1281

Morton's Steakhouse

I was told that set lunch at Morton's is a really good deal as you get to sample a number of signature dishes at a much affordable price (RMB188 for 2 courses). 

We were really impressed by the size and the taste of this tomato bread.
Green salad topped with blue cheese.  Very uninspiring and probably came straight out of a packet.
Baked five onion soup.  The soup looked a lot more promising.  It was very rich and cheesy, just the way I like it.
Grilled prawns and scallops.  A very healthy choice and C loved it. 
Morton's burger.  This burger was business.  Great cut of beef and very-well seasoned, it was perfect with the mushroom and bacon.  A real treat for lunch.
Morton's Steakhouse
4/F, IFC Mall, 8 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai.  Tel: 6075-8888