The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Chef A-Yi's Big Teapot Tea Restaurant, Maokong (Taiwan)

When my friend and I travelled to Taipei, we were both too busy to make any planning ahead of time, and our itinerary was planned on our first night in Taipei. We had babies with us, so a trip to the Taipei Zoo went on our itinerary, and since the Maokong Gondola has a station at the zoo, we hopped on the gondola up the slopes of Maokong. We were also hungry for lunch, and picked a random tea restaurant from the free guide booklet we picked up from the information kiosk near the Maokong Station. The map in the booklet is not detailed at all, and when we asked for directions at a small coffee kiosk, the locals recommended another tea restaurant and sent us on our way. Chef A-Yi's Big Teapot Tea Restaurant is about a 15-minute stroll from the gondola station, and it was well worth the walk. We enjoyed the friendly and helpful service, and the menu features tea-infused dishes. There's also a lovely view, and I loved the complimentary tea so much that I bought a small cannister of it. The food was delicious, and it was overall a pleasant experience.

Wuyishan Rock Tea Smoked Chicken Leg (NT$380). I liked the subtle tea-smoked flavour:

Fried Shrimp with Jade Green Tea (NT$420). The lightly astringent flavour of the tea leaves went quite well with the juicy, sweet prawns:

Fried Rice with Green Tea and Egg (NT$100). Delicious! (But I can't believe we gave green tea to our babies!)

A cold dish of fern that was simply seasoned. It was refreshing and tasty:

Small Steamed Buns (NT$100) with six flavours - red yeast rice, green tea, black tea, sweet potato, charcoal and taro.
The flavours were very subtle, and the colourful buns were fun to eat

Highly recommended. Even the locals choose this place.

Chef A-Yi's Big Teapot Tea Restaurant
37-1, Ln. 38, Sec. 3, Zhinan Road
Wenshan District
Taipei, Taiwan
Tel. +886 2 29395615

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Sunday brunch @ TokyoLima, Hong Kong

It has been full-on for the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, the kids and I were in Phuket enjoying the sun, sea and sand, and less than a day after returning to Hong Kong, I had to rush to Perth on an urgent family matter. I had to literally drop everything, rushed to book the same day flight out to Perth (I got the last seat on a flight departing in 4 hours), repack for winter for my littlest one and I, and zoom to the airport. My poor 1-year-old was still tired from not sleeping well on the previous trip, but she's a little trooper. My dad is another trooper, and it was amazing to see him improve day by day. He's still in the hospital, but doing so much better. Hubby and our domestic helper did an amazing job looking after the older two kids, who are still on their summer school holidays. Our helper is only six months new so she was chucked in the deep end (as my ex-boss liked to say), but she did a fantastic job!

This post has been waiting for three weeks to be posted, and I'll going to do my best to recollect this meal we enjoyed to celebrate hubby's birthday. TokyoLima is a Peruvian-Japanese restaurant, located in a commercial building with an unmarked entrance. My aunt-in-law had warned me that she had trouble finding the restaurant, and her tips helped us locate the entrance easily. We thought Peruvian and Japanese was an unlikely fusion, but apparently there are many Japanese migrants in Peru, with the first 7000 migrants moving to the South American country in 1889 to help with farm work and build the Peruvian economy. Who would have thought a restaurant visit would result in a lesson in history? (This article gives a good background on Nikkei cuisine.) TokyoLima is windowless, which lends to the atmosphere of a basement izakaya. On the weekend, TokyoLima serves the Omacasa Brunch (HK$398 per person), which has a selection of small plates, raw fish, and a choice of one hot dish per person, all meant for sharing. There is also a Kid's Brunch Menu (HK$128 per child), which includes juice, two dishes and ice-cream. The flavours were bold and fresh, and we all enjoyed everything. Portion sizes were good, and we were full before dessert arrived.

Two dishes of the Kid's Brunch Menu - "Ki-mo-chi" Fried Chicken (chicken thighs prepared karaage-style), and Tuna Sushi Roll:

The "Ki-mo-chi" Fried Chicken with spicy soy tare, is also one the dishes on the main brunch menu:

Calamari Chicharron is available only on the Kid's Brunch Menu. The Nikkei-style crispy squid is paired well with the black olive mayo:

Nikkei-style soba salad with seaweed tempura, avocado, chili and sesame sauce. I really enjoyed this cold noodles, especially the spicy sesame sauce:

T-3, TokyoLima's 3-textures salad with pumpkin, mix leaf, poached quail egg, heirloom confit tomato, grilled fennel, crispy glass noodles, almonds and Nikkei dressing. This was a delicious way to eat a vegetarian salad:

H&M, one of the raw bar dishes, with hamachi (amberjack) and maguro (tuna) with shoyu (soy sauce) citrus:

Ceviche Classico - seabass, tiger's milk, sweet potato, choclo,
onion and coriander

Portobello & Nasu Sticks. The miso mayo, charred leek and pickled ginger were nice accompaniments to the grilled portobello mushrooms and eggplant:

Grilled Black Cod (extra HK$68) with citrus miso glaze. We love black cod, and always order it whenever we see it on the menu. This was moist and delicious:

Dessert included three types of sorbet (coconut, raspberry and mango)...

... and a fabulous banana split with hazelnut chocolate ice cream:

We had a lovely time at TokyoLima. Highly recommended for a different type of Japanese food in Hong Kong!

Ground Floor
Car Po Commercial Building
18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central, Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2811 1152

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Taipei Night Markets: Huahsi, Ningxia and Raohe

Earlier this year, a friend and I went on a girls-and-bubs trip to Taipei, and as much as we love our babies, the best part of the trip was leaving the sleeping babies behind at our accommodation with a nanny, and going out at night to check out the night markets! It was the one thing I wished we did more in Kaohsiung, where we only did one night market (battling the crowd with a 4-year-old is rather challenging). In Taipei, my friend and I visited three markets, and it left me wanting for more! I'll just have to plan another trip to Taipei!

A street cart on Zhonghua Road between Carrefour and Ximen MRT (either near the intersection with Guiyang St or Changsha St), peddling mochi (glutinous rice snack):

Mochi simply tossed with sweet peanut and sesame sauce:

Huaxi Night Market, aka Snake Alley

Huaxi night market is located near the Longshan Temple, and specialises in snake dishes, which we did not try because of time constraints. We did try many other street snacks, and here are some of the highlights.

My friend's favourite Chinese street snack is cong you bing, a savoury scallion pancake. This lady makes a delicious you bing at Huaxi market:

A shop specialising in choudofu (stinky tofu):

Our first taste of choudofu was a stewed version. I'll be frank here, we were not keen on it. But we persisted, and I found with each spoon that the taste sort of grew on me:

Fried taro balls are popular here, and this girl flicks the balls out of the deep-fryer onto the cooling tray with the speed and precision that can come only from doing this for a long time:

Ningxia Market

Ningxia is a traditional market that reminds its visitors of old Taiwan. There are plenty of food stalls to visit and also interesting stores to shop in. We enjoyed delicious oyster omelet and more fried taro balls. We also tried the deep-fried version of stinky tofu to find out if it's an improvement over the stewed version we had the previous night (it's not).

Popular shop selling oyster omelet:

This oyster omelet was worth the wait! Plump juicy salty oysters with crispy egg

Deep-fried choudofu. Definitely an acquired taste, and I wish I had longer time to give stinky tofu a chance (like I did with bitter gourd (as a young child, my mum told me eating it would make my blood bitter and repel mosquitoes - that's a lie because mozzies still find me tasty, but it got me acquiring a taste for the bitter gourd), Aussie Vegemite, and Japanese natto):

More crispy taro balls:

Raohe Street Night Market

On our final night in Taipei, my friend and I ventured to Raohe Street Night Market for more street snacks.

This hu jiao bing (black pepper pork bun) stall at the end of Raohe Street night market had a huge queue, though it was a weeknight:

There were about 8 or 9 staff on the production line to efficiently churn out delicious pork buns to satisfy the hungry crowd. Though the line was long, we didn't wait long to get to the front of the line:

Buns lined up waiting to be stuck on the wall of the clay oven, which is similar to the Indian tandoor:

Truly delicious! Definitely worth the short wait in the long queue:

We also tried some herbal pork rib soup, which I'm sure was very nourishing:

And I indulged in some thick sweet soup full of mixed beans and black taro and chewy tapioca balls:

Monday, 10 July 2017

Impeccable French @ L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon, Hong Kong

Hubby had his birthday recently, turning yet another year older and wiser. He celebrated all weekend long, with his friends on Friday night, with me on Saturday night and then with the kids on Sunday. His aunt and uncle also took us out for an amazing night out the following Saturday, so I could say that he celebrated his birthday for over one week! For our dinner date, he requested our favourite French restaurant, L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon. We've been here so many times, and the experience never fails to impress. It remains our favourite L'ATELIER out of the three we've been to (yes, even more than the Paris one!). Hubby went for the Menu Découverte (Discovery Menu, HK$2080) which contained no less than 8 courses. I ordered two dishes, and we shared everything.

First time sitting on this side of the bar in the five years we've dined at this restaurant:

The Orange Moon Cocktail (HK$150) was so delicious and so easy to drink:

Amuse Bouche of fried shrimp and gazpacho with an avocado cream:

First course of Menu Découverte: King crab and avocado cannelloni with Imperial caviar:

Burrata cheese with avocado slices and spicy tomato coulis (HK$290). Delicious!

Second course of Menu Découverte: White asparagus with sea urchin:

Third course of Menu Découverte: Pan-fried duck foie gras with cherry confit and crunchy almonds:

Spiced eggplant confit (HK$240) with curry flavored vegetable puree. This was tasty for a vegetarian dish, but not one of the best dishes that night:

Fourth course of Menu Découverte: Fine scampi bouillon with petit raviolis and green peas, just before the bouillon was poured on:

The scampi bouillon was my favourite dish out of the Menu Découverte. It was vibrant with the flavours of the sea, and the scampi was so fresh and juicy and tasty:

Fifth course of Menu Découverte: Crispy amadai fillet with carrot mousse and lemongrass emulsion. Beautifully presented,
and tasted great, but I felt this was the most ordinary dish out of the eight courses

Sixth course of Menu Découverte: Free-range quail with foie gras, served with mashed potato. This sounded ordinary, but it was amazing. The quail was juicy and tender, perfectly matched with the famous mashed potato that was generously topped with shavings of black truffle:

First dessert of Menu Découverte. At this stage I was a little distracted with the birthday singing that happened with the serving of dessert, and I can't remember exactly what this dessert was. Only that it was not too heavy, the perfect way to end an 8-course meal:

Second dessert of the Menu Découverte was a boozy one that hubby really enjoyed:

Not pictured are the fantastic bread basket served at the beginning and the delicious petit fours at the end. And the delicious complimentary cake that is always given to the ladies at the end of the meal to take home. L'ATELIER remains a good and reliable choice for special occasions.

[The prices above do not include the 10% service charge.]

L'ATELIER de Joël Robuchon
Shop 315 & 401
The Landmark
15 Queen's Road Central
Hong Kong
Tel. +85 2 2166 9000
Online reservations available at Robuchon's website

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Yum Malaysian @ PappaRich [Joondalup], Perth

It's no secret that I'm a fan of PappaRich. Obviously not the PappaRich restaurants in Malaysia itself, where the authentic food is so readily available on the streets for cheaper, but internationally. I think PappaRich is doing a great job introducing reliably tasty Malaysian dishes to many people outside of Malaysia. I've so far been to PappaRich restaurants in three different countries, and they were all sufficiently good representations of Malaysian cuisine. Of course, nothing compares to the real authentic experience of eating Malaysian food on the streets of Malaysia itself, but beggars can't be choosers! When we were in Perth a couple of months ago, we had the opportunity to try out PappaRich in Joondalup twice. It's located close by to my parents' and siblings' homes in the same suburb, which made it an easy and convenient choice of meeting point. The food was, as expected, delicious. Service was friendly and helpful, especially given that our family is really big with lots of kids and my elderly parents.


Laksa with seafood:

Chicken Rice, always a good one for kids:

Biryani with Rendang and Sambal Prawns:

Mixed Satay to share:

Ais Kacang:

Second trip with a friend, I ordered laksa again (because it's so good):

Congee with steamed chicken:

Shop T226, Level 1
Lakeside Joondalup
420 Joondalup Dr
Joondalup WA 6027
Tel. +61 8 9301 4516

PappaRich Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato