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Posts Tagged ‘Travel

Phở

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It had been a while since visiting one of the local Vietnamese places in town, the Rau Ram Café, down a side street, a few meters from the Marapara Golf and Country Club in Bacolod City. Ever since the first visit, always ordered a big bowl of phở, a traditional beef noodle soup.

Arriving at the table, the steaming bowl comes with a plate full of fresh herbs, including basil, cilantro, and sawtooth coriander; along with hot sauce and hoisin sauce, in order to customize each individual bowl.

With ever bowl prepared, tore up various herbs and threw them in before adding in the soup. Once the hot broth makes contact with the leaves, the aromatics consume the table and before taking one bite of the soup, the impression the smells leave is already remarkable.

Even though this place does not serve it with the traditional thin slices of beef that cook quickly in the hot soup, instead its small cubes of beef, the dish is still delicious.

A pleasant surprise after a big disappointment

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On the previous visit to Hong Kong, enjoyed dim sum at Maxim’s Palace, an amazing restaurant with those traditional food trolleys rolling around loaded with delicious small plates; on the most recent visit, received a tip on a dim sum place in the Sheung Wan district.

Upon arriving, it was a bit daunting, located on the second floor, it was crowded and was sharing a table with a couple other parties. With no employees making eye contact and unsure of what even to say if one was called over, backed out and scoured the neighborhood for a new spot.

After walking for a couple blocks, even wandering into a food center without anything terribly inviting, found a small restaurant tucked away along a side street. The menu had a variety of choices and, by that time, was very hungry.

Among the selections, ordered some fried noodles, rice, a large beer, and fried shrimp.

Ordering fried shrimp on a menu, had an image of the typical, western-style, shrimp with breading – maybe even something along the lines of popcorn shrimp (living in a place where cutting corners in the food industry is the norm, it has unfortunately now shaped one’s instincts).

As a pleasant surprise, a plate arrived with these large, beautifully-fried shrimp, atop some steamed broccoli (have been told, anything broccoli is not authentic Chinese, but it was a nice presentation). Grabbed one immediately and upon separating the head from the body, the juices that ran out was incredible, lesson learned for the next one. The breading was wonderfully light, the juices were marvelous, and the shrimp was delicious and meaty.

Dad says, finding Crowd Restaurant was probably meant to be, considering the original destination was a bust.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Arrived at the restaurant, unaware they were about to close lunch service, but they didn’t seem bothered too much. They may have turned off the lights in the unoccupied portion of the restaurant, but in no way was there pressure to eat faster and get out – professionals.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 5, 2016 at 10:50 PM

Encountering a sweet monster in Hong Kong

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Wandering Mong Kok, meandering through the market stands just opening up for business, walking in and out of the endless shoe stores, and perusing menus of all the restaurants lining the shopping avenues in the area, attention was grabbed immediately while passing a shop covered in cartoon monsters. Took a closer look and it was a soft-serve stand.

Amongst the bright colors and caricatures, there were a variety of toppings offered for, what appears to be, the standard delicious soft-serve ice cream.

Of course, with a soft spot for peanut butter, it was the first choice – did spend time going back and forth, but it is always good to stick with instincts.

Watched the attendant gather a healthy portion of ice cream into the cone, decorated with the shop’s monsters, followed by sprinkling on powdered peanut butter and garnishing with a pretzel, it looked exactly like the picture on the wall. There was no doubting how amazing it would be and it was exactly what was needed after hours of window-shopping.

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Peanut butter soft serve in the middle of Mong Kok, Kowloon.

Visiting Hong Kong for the nachos

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On a previous visit to Hong Kong, stayed at a hotel in the Wan Chai district and, in doing so, became very acquainted with the neighborhood from the regular jaunts looking for a breakfast spot or an afternoon pub to take a breather. While walking around, found a Mexican-themed bar called Coyote. Before, it was just stopping in for a beer or two before heading to the next spot. However, there was always a sighting of this mysterious meat dish served on a wooden block – it looked amazing.

Determined to visit the place again when in town last month, was reunited with the bar one afternoon. Immediately asked for a menu but couldn’t find anything that sounded like the lovely sight from last time. Was feeling a bit hungry and still had some time before dinner and decided on a plate of nachos.

It has been a while since enjoying quality nachos and when this mammoth plate arrived at the bar, there was no doubt the chili nachos were a fantastic choice.

The toppings were piled high, chili, pulled pork, jalapeños, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Clearly, topped off with a few seconds in the salamander, everything was beautifully melted and chips were still deliciously crunchy.

Enjoyed a lot of food in Hong Kong, but did not expect nachos would also be one of the memorable meals.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Coyote Bar is located along Lockhart Road in the Wan Chai district, Hong Kong.

Written by Paulo Loreto

October 10, 2016 at 3:38 PM

Portuguese egg tarts in Macau

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On the third trip to Macau, it became a mission to enjoy at least one Portuguese egg tart, also known as pastel de nata or 葡式蛋挞. Similar to the common egg tart found all over Hong Kong, the Portuguese version comes with a slightly charred top, much like a crème brûlée.

Started at the Lardo do Senado, or Senado Square, meandered through the narrow, yet packed, side streets checking out everything the tourist center had to offer. Lined with a variety of shops, in particular those selling all forms of beef jerky, the streets force tourist eyes to dart all over the place between souvenirs, jewelry, and all types of food.

At the end of one particular street are the Ruínas de São Paulo, built in the 16th century, it was originally St. Paul’s College and the Church of St. Paul. Today, it is listed as part of the Historic Centre of Macau and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the foot of the landmark is a shop selling all types of cookies and crackers, but directly in front is an oven filled with fresh Portuguese egg tarts. Each treat costs HK$8, about US$1 (the Hong Kong dollar is just about equivalent to the Macau pataca).

Crispy, creamy, and delicious, there is nothing that could make a visit to the Ruínas de São Paulo any more of a memorable experience.

Given the choice between the two, not sure it would be easy to select a winner, they’re both so delicious. However, to be completely honest, the edge might have to go to the Portuguese variety.

Nothing makes a Portuguese egg tart more lovely than having the Ruínas de São Paulo in the background.

Nothing makes a Portuguese egg tart more lovely than having the Ruínas de São Paulo in the background.

One of the greatest dishes in the history of food

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Have been to Hong Kong and Macau on two prior occasions, and visited Shanghai and Taipei previously, yet never in any of those instances was there the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the glory that is Peking Duck. On this most recent occasion, it was a priority to sit down and enjoy the ever-revered dish. And, contrary to popular belief, this is a much different entrée than the typical roasted ducks everybody sees hanging in the windows of many Chinese restaurants – still delicious, but Peking Duck is an entirely different beast.

It was on the day of arrival in Hong Kong that the dinner was already planned. Flew into Hong Kong International Airport aboard Cathay Pacific around 3:00 p.m. and made a beeline for the train heading downtown.

Staying in the Tin Hau district, it was a quick ride on the Hong Kong MTR to Central Station and, even before heading above ground, there it was – Peking Garden in Alexandra House, a one-Michelin star establishment.

Even though reservations are required, arrived a bit before the dinner crowd and was asked if it was possible to finish the meal before 6:30 p.m., it was around 5:15 p.m. – said it can be done and was seated right away.

Immediately, was served tea from a very ornate tea set and snacks of pickled vegetables and bean curd; opened the menu and dug around for the Peking Duck.

Putting in the order, the duck came out very quickly – assuming the place expects nearly every table to order at least one – and it was marvelous. The first server came and asked if there were a preference to separate the skin or not, went with keeping skin and meat together, he then left to carve the duck on the other side of the room. Another server arrived with plates of vegetables, sweet sauce, and steamed rice pancakes.

The duck spread across two gorgeous plates.

Before anything, had to try one piece on its own, to savor the dish that everybody and their mother raves about, and it was magnificent. Juicy and flavorful meat and crispy skin, a travel show on Korean network TVN called the taste unforgettable, it’s also indescribable. Started putting together little rolls of the duck and all the add-ons wrapped in the rice pancakes and it was nothing short of heavenly.

Doubt there will ever be another trip to Hong Kong without at least one night sitting down to a plate of sumptuous Peking Duck.

Peking Garden has several restaurants across Hong Kong, the Central location is in the basement of Alexandra House, at exit H of the Central MTR station.

Peking Garden has several restaurants across Hong Kong, the Central location is in the basement of Alexandra House, at exit H of the Central MTR station.

Could get used to this breakfast

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Having lived in New Jersey, while working in New York City, had the first encounter with a Paris Baguette at their Edison, NJ location. An incredible array of pastries and goodies, a fusion between French and Korean flavors, that ended up in something delicious no matter what was selected. Found another location soon after in Koreatown, in midtown Manhattan, and it made the day – and living, in general – all the better.

Vacationing in Seoul, found out there were three Paris Baguette locations within walking distance of the hotel; a veritable heaven. Upon finding all the locations, it was, just about, a daily pilgrimage to find something to snack on or bring back to the hotel. After finding the first one, had to have breakfast there and it was something that could be enjoyed every day is possible.

Picked up a bulgogi sandwich and ordered an iced green tea latte – their green tea lattes were also a huge favorite in NYC.

Had a view of a new city to explore, a warm and delicious sandwich, and, still, some of the greatest takeaway cups known to man. There was nothing that could bring down the day – even confusion on the subway was relieved after thinking back to the amazing start.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

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