Brunch spot, Hong Kong Restaurant, Travel

28 days

😦 So sorry for being MIA! I haven’t posted anything in almost a month.. 28 days to be exact!! It’s just been such a crazy month with traveling, preparation for mission trip/ voluntary work, the actual mission trip and not to mention, I’m just about to move after having viewed a gazillion apartments (Thank God I’ve got the best deal EVER!!!!) I promise I’ll be more consistent once I’ve moved and am settled into the new apartment!!

Before the actual post of each event, here’s some of the highlights of the past 28 days

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I used to LOVE going to taipei for the weekend but I hadn’t gone in a long long time, this trip really made me realize how much I miss Taipei!!

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Girly dinner at Quemo, I know I know, it’s almost been 2 weeks now! the review will be up very soon!! =)

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Piggy and I in Phnom Penh

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Cupcake overload at Bloom Cafe .. droolz…

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My beautiful niece was in HK for a couple of days, she’s grown so much and is such a jolly kid!!!! 😉

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Jenn’s birthday brunch at Catalunya, Happy birthday babe!!!! =)

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La Petite Globetrotter

I was going through some old albums and realised Piggy had never gotten a blog entry of his own, so here it is 😉 a blog post dedicated to some of Piggy’s greatest adventures!!!


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How Piggy funds his trips

How Piggy funds his trips

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Where shall I go next? 😉

Have a great weekened!! 😉

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SF Eats IV

Zushi Puzzle– BEST. Sushi. Experience. Ever.

~the end~

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Head chef and owner, Roger

I can’t rave enough about Zushi Puzzle, my foodie friend C highly recommended it and was so kind to secure two seats for me at the chef’s table when I was in SF (yes, reservation is definitely necessary, and yes, you have to sit at the chefs table!) C gave me some advice before I embarked on this culinary adventure 1. Whatever Chef Roger serves, just eat it! 2. Don’t judge a book by its cover, Zushi Puzzle might looks a bit “hole in the wall”-ish but the fact that it’s fully booked all the time just goes to show how good their food has to be!

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The Chef’s table has only 8 seats; Rox and I ordered the omakase (which means chef’s choice) and Roger asked us about our preferences. On hindsight I should have just said I’ll eat anything but I think I told him that I’m not a big fan of oysters. I like that he really enhanced our dining experience by tailoring his menu to our preference instead of like some other places where they just make whatever they want to serve.

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We started with the best handroll which was spicy tuna, cucumber, rice, and tempura soft shell crab wrapped in a type of seaweed I’d never seen before. I typically don’t eat deep fried stuff but this handroll was delicious!  The soft shell crab was crispy and crunchy without being heavy or greasy. The spicy tuna brought a kick to the roll

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The thinly sliced raw scallop was tender, moist and soft; its freshness was marked by its subtle sweetness.. mmmm.. and the Salmon roe!! I was going to skip it since I thought it would be overly fishy but the sake that it was soaked in not only removed the fishiness but also added sake- sweetness to it =) Each pop was delightful!

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The strong aroma of truffle oil drizzled on the thinly sliced halibut was ever so alluring

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Not only was the live uni splendid in its presentation, its creamy sweetness so heavenly, so buttery, so decadent …

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When Rox and I were presented with the sashimi platter we were like OMG… the platter was not only impressive, it was also A LOT of food :p Roger serves the freshest and the widest selection of sashimi, even within the common fishes we know he serves different variety of the same type of fish, he has 7 different types of salmon, 5 different types of tuna etc. Each generous cut of fish was fresh and had a firm texture. I had to get off the chair, take a walk around the restaurant (I was even contemplating walking around the block before tackling this massive dish).

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Just when I though I couldn’t have anymore food, Chef Roger served us the salmon and toro remix- “remix” means seared with a blow torch

Rox: did u hear that?

V: hear what? **viv looks around, confused**

Rox: I hear angels singing

True story. Soft, smokey, melt-in- your- mouth goodness.

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I knew I had said “I’m so stuffed I can’t eat anymore” several times by then but everyone has extra space for dessert right? The watermelon sorbet with tiny sprinkle of pepper was so refreshing and the wasabi cheesecake was creamy with added heat from the wasabi. I was surprised at how delicious it was

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Seeing the satisfaction on our faces, Chef Roger decided to give us more surprise. He asked if we wanted lamb pop. Lamb pop? I don’t even eat lamb.. ever! For as long as I lived, I had HATED, yes, HATED lamb. “That’s coz you haven’t tried the lamb pop prepared by Chef Roger!” all the other friendly chef table’s patrons said. And there, under a bit of peer pressure and perhaps not wanting to miss out, I said yes to THE life changing lamb pop. OMG, succulent, fall- off- the bone tenderness and OH-SO- FLAVOURFUL. I’ve ordered lamb at every chance I have ever since this life changing dish but every lamb dish had fallen short when compared to Zushi Puzzle’s lamb pop.

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I wanna hop on the next flight and go to SF NOW **cry**

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Zushi Puzzle

1910 Lombard Street

San Francisco

+1 415-931-9319

Opened every evening except Sunday

http://www.zushipuzzle.com/

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Jordan -> Mount Sinai -> Israel

I just got back from a 12-day trip to Israel/ Jordan, it was easily one of the most fulfilling trips I’d been on. It was physically tiring especially with a packed schedule, waking up at mostly 6:30 am every morning (1am on the morning we went to Mount Sinai) but the breathtaking views we had seen were worth every inch of muscle pain.

Piggy catching a glimpse of the promised land on Mount Nebo

Piggy catching a glimpse of the promised land on Mount Nebo

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Seeing the milky way with our naked eyes on the way up to Mount Sinai at 2am in the morning was enough to distract me from the chill (it’s really cold up there before sunrise) and the discomfort from the 1.5 hours camel ride up the hill. The 45 minute mad rush/ climb up to the peak just in time to catch the sunrise and then walking down Steps of Repentance (consists of some 3,750 steps) was stretching my body to the limit (especially for the ridiculous lazy me, who never even own a gym membership in my life!). Thankfully we got to dip in the dead sea that very night and floating in the dead sea while watching stars above us was definitely something we don’t get to do everyday.

The bible came to live as we walked the footsteps of Moses, King Solomon, King David and later Jesus himself and the highlight of the trip was our amazing Israeli guide, David, who is a walking bible/ history book/ Ultimate Weapons (discovery channel weapon show). He added so much depth to our understanding of the bible, political situations, wars fought, history etc. It was truly a blessed trip beyond our wildest dreams! Our trip ended the best way possible (well staying another few days or weeks wasn’t an option) his mom invited us over to her house for a home cooked Jewish Friday night dinner where she was hosting a big dinner for local youth, we got to interact while enjoying mom’s cooking 😉 With tears in our eyes (true story) we said goodbye to our awesome guide and to Israel, which we grew to love. And we’d decided that it won’t be long before we return again 😉

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Of course, I can’t go anywhere without consuming ridiculous amount of food :p I might have had more hummus, falafel and kebab on this trip than I’ve ever consumed in my life :p More detailed update to follow as I’m still going through my pictures.

Have a great Monday guys! 🙂

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SF Eats III

cologna

Cotogna‘s Ravioli Di Ricotta with Farm Egg, aka, heart attack in a bite, was an insanely sinful dish with a giant ravioli swimming in a pool of molten brown butter. As the knife cut into the ravioli, the egg yolk that was sitting on top of the pillowy soft creamy riotta cheese oozed out. I thought of sharing that dish initially but… nah.. not this one =)

Add: 490 PACIFIC AVENUE, SAN FRANCISCO

T: 415.775.8508

SR1SRsushi ran

Sushi Ran serves one of the best sushi in SF (i’m gonna blog about THE best on my next post), the blue fin fatty tuna roll was so good, the tuna literally melted in my mouth =)

ADD: 107 Caledonia St.  Sausalito

T: (415) 332-3620.

Lunch Monday-Friday, dinner nightly.  

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SF Eats II

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Tartine is famous for its pastry, I’d read all about their famous morning bun and all the lip smacking pastries that are churned out from their ovens. I planned to get there at 7:30 am in the morning just to avoid the crowd. I’d drawn out routes to take from my hotel at Union Square by train (I think?) to Mission Distrinct where Tartine is at and I overslept =’( I hoped into a cab in a panic (food related panic) and arriving at 9:15 am on a Tuesday morning! there was already a long line around the block outside Tartine **cry**

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As much as I hate lining up, the tempting smell of fresh pastry (= the smell of happiness) saturated the air and hovered around the block, there’s no turning back now. Since it was packed to the brim, I decided to get takeout as and eat as I stroll along the Mission District. Once I got into the store, I was like a kid in Candyland (not just candystore) **eyes widened and sparkled with joy and excitement** I was careful NOT to embarrass myself by sticking my face onto the glass and drool as I checked out all the pastries on display. I’m seriously not good at making decision when presented with choices, especially SO MANY OF THEM!!! So I got the simplest pastries – the croissant and the double au pain chocolate. Both of them were decadent, rich, flaky with all the buttery goodness, pure scrumptious, the double au pain uses dark chocolate which oozes out on every bite **drool**

I would love to go back and try EVERYTHING on their menu!!

Tartine Bakery & Cafe
600 Guerrero Street or
561 Valencia St
(415) 487-2600

Bi – Rite Creamery is just around the corner from Tartine, check out the flavors on their website!! # # trifecta a scoop of each: salted caramel, brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, and malted vanilla with peanut brittle and chocolate. BEST ICE CREAM EVER!

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th St
‎(415) 626-5600
biritecreamery.com‎

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SF Eats I

Hope you guys enjoyed the 3 blog posts on Istanbul Eats as much as I enjoyed writing them, I thought I could do some posts on my other food recommendations outside of HK. The first city I thought of was SF, it has some of my favorite restaurants/food on earth.

A friend who loves to travel and eat recommended Boulette ‘s Larder as the perfect brunch place with outdoor seating and apparently the best egg dishes. Even though I missed their brunch the first time I went since they don’t serve brunch on days where the farmer’s market is on, I was happy to have stumbled upon the farmer’s market which offers a great variety of delectable food. And I went back the next day to try BL’s egg dishes and it was definitely worth going back for!

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Boulette ‘s Larder serves the fluffiest egg dishes, not only were the eggs creamy, tender but they were also so light and fluffy! BL only have tables to serve brunch on days where the farmer’s market isn’t on, farmer’s market is on Tue, Thur and Sat

Boulette’s Larder
1 Ferry Bldg # 48
(415) 399-1155

bouletteslarder.com

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Get the cheeseburger from 4505 Meats, there’s a line typically but it’s definitely worth the wait. The patty was juicy, not overly seasoned but so full of beef flavor from the freshly made patty. The homemade scallion bun, moisturized by the patty juice, the mezzo seco cheese and the home made secret sauce was not soggy but had this buttery crunch that was just indescribable =)

Farmer’s market at Ferry building
Tuesday: 10am–2pm
Thursday: 10 am – 2pm
Saturday: 8am-2pm

http://www.4505meats.com/

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Istanbul Eats Part III

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Best Kaymak (Turkish clotted cream) breakfast – Besiktas Kaymakci (AKA Kaymakci Pando)

Since I read about Kaymak here. I just had’t been able to get the image of pillow soft looking clotted cream out of my mind. Just typing this makes me drool now..

Besiktas Kaymakci (aka Pando) has been around since 1895 and had made a name for itself by doing simple breakfast well. We stayed at the beautiful Kempinski, which is just 15 minutes walk from Pando. When we asked the concierge for direction, they were initially surprised (how did you hear about this?) and then looked really concerned. They explained that this is a very simple local breakfast place and we assured them that we knew what we were getting into. Even though it wasn’t the easiest task to get to Pando (even with maps in hands) because of the confusing address, people were just soooo helpful, we were incredibly grateful for everyone who stopped and helped us, either by pointing us to the right direction, or by helping us ask around, one even stopped and looked up the map on his phone!

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Even though Pando and his lovely wife do not speak English, nor were there any menu to point at, I showed them the picture in the article, we exchanged nods and smiles and Pando went on to prepare our long awaited meal (at this point I was seriously grinning from ear to ear). When the breakfast was set before us, it looked identical to the one in the picture! And there it is! Cloud of white clotted cream soaked in honey, light and fluffy but dense and creamy at the same time, so decadent and divine. I could fly to Istanbul just for this pure indulgence 🙂

Add: Koyici MeydanI Sk,Besiktas, Istanbul, Turkey

Go early to avoid the long line

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Islak Burger (Wet burgers)- Taksim Square

I know it sounds nasty, I first heard of it on Anthony Bourdain’s show and he seemed to have enjoyed it immensely. Lisa and I were just strolling along the trendy Taksim neighborhood and there it was, just like the one I’ve seen in the show, burgers staked in a glass “incubator” where they are kept warm/hot/wet.. sounds like a hot mess already.. Lisa and I looked at each other and decided to share one. OMG, you won’t believe it, soft, fluffy, chewy bun coated in bright orange garlic infused tomato sauce with juicy patty in between. The surface of it was kinda like the Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts with sticky glaze surface but instead of being sweet, it’s savory and slightly spicy. It’s been voted as one of the best street foods in Istanbul, even though it’s been described as drunk’s best friend, it tasted every bit delicious sober!

Kizilkayalar Hamburger

Add: Siraselviler Caddesi 6, Taksim Square (Open 24-7)

I’m missing Turkey dearly at this point … *cry*

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Istanbul Eats Part II

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Confectionary stores in Turkey (selling lokum and baklava etc) are like 7-11s in Asia, you can’t walk a few steps without running into one, although they all look temptingly delicious, only a handful of them do it well. I was obsessive about doing my research, reading all about the best baklava and lokum in Turkey before our trip and had my fair share of tasting when I was there. The first day we landed in Istanbul, Lisa had to drag me away from baklava and lokum, I wanted to try all the ones listed on the top 10 list; Karakoy Gulluoglu, Haci Bekir, Hafiz Mustafa 1864 just to name a few. While the famous/ popular names offer a wide variety (one might ask how many variation can baklava or lokum come in, the answer is A LOT), they were not particularly outstanding. Thanks to the local blogs and friends who are seasoned travelers- these recommendations made my heart sing 😉

 

Best baklava-Cigdem pastanesi

Layers of paper thin phyllo pastry sheets stuffed with chopped nuts drenched in rich honey sounds every bit alluring. I dragged Lisa over to the Galata Bridge just to try Karakoy Gulluoglu but their baklava were overly heavy. Cigdem Pastanesi’s baklava was by far the best I’d tried, it was rich, decadent, moist and sweet without being cloying the pistachio fresh and crunchy… mmmmm… the amount of honey/ syrup/ butter lavished in this “small” dose of sinful pleasure has gotta be bad for you but it tasted sooooo good!

V: *about to step into yet another confectionery after devouring 3 pieces of baklava thru the day and had more lokum than any human could possibly have*

Lisa: stop!! *pulled viv away* learn to say no!!

V: *with tears in her eyes* no…  *stuff another lokum from the sampling plate in her mouth*

Address: Divanyolu Cad. 62,  Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey

T: +902125268859

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Best Lokum (Turkish delight)- Egyptian Bazaar Pinar (No.14)

I read about store no. 14 at the Egyptian Bazaar which apparently has exceptionally good lokum and was determined to hunt it down. There are two sets of store numbers, one set runs outside the Egyptian (open air) and the other set numbers the stores that are actually inside the bazaar. Pinar is inside the bazaar, I bought the double pistachio lokum after sampling the first plate they handed me. Its texture was perfect! It was chewy without being tough, it was bouncy with a good bite to it. The flavor was excellent too, it was sweet without overly sugary and the pistachio flavor was very prominent. They were so good, I probably din stop eating since the minute I stepped in, and even after they wrapped up my purchase and was waiting for me to leave I was still hanging around and stuffing my face, they had to move that sampling plate away from me *blush* at which point Lisa peeled me away from the store

Egyptian Bazaar stall no 14

Open 8am-7pm Mon-Sat

Stayed at the beautiful Ciragan Palace Kempinski

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Istanbul Eats Part I

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Lisa, Xing and I went on this amazing trip in Turkey last fall, we visited 6 towns/cities in 12 days; experienced different landscapes, architecture and cuisine, we were greeted with the warmest smiles, seen the most beautiful sunset, had the best laughs =) Lisa’s post on Turkey inspired me to blog about the food we ate, a lot of the pictures are from her too since our official photographer takes such gorgeous pictures

Turkey’s unique heritage of having been under Roman, Christian, Ottoman empire and its strategic location straddling Asia and Europe; being the melting pot of different culture and religion gave rise to the diversity in architecture and cuisines. When people think about Turkish food, they think of kebab, yes there are kebab everywhere but there’s also a lot more to Turkish cuisine than kebab. The cities/ towns along the coast serves up some of the most incredibly fresh seafood and the use of olive, spice, herbs varies depending on the region you are in.

I’ve sent this list out about a thousand times after my trip so its good to have it documented finally:

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Best Dining Experience- Matbah Ottoman Palace Cuisine

As its name suggests, Matbah serves delectable dishes from Matbah Beray (Kitchen of Sultan’s Palace); a feast fit for royalty. Food was delicate and well thought out, I would recommend the sailor cheese, honeydew melon with chopped beef, white and black pepper,raisins,almonds and rice and the lamb shank! If weather allows, I would ask for a table on the rooftop garden, excellent service and the environment inviting and comfortable; we had a great time that night.

Add: Caferiye Sokak No. 6/1, Sultanahmet 34400 Istanbul

T: +90 212 514 6151

W: www.matbahrestaurant.com

Best View-  Hamdi Restaurant. It’s not the best kebab I must admit but food is decent and this is the view you get

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You can watch the sky changes from azure to orange, red and pink to purple to dark blue as you take in all the delightful mezes and kebab. The restaurant is right at the harbor front overlooking the Galata Bridge, with the Spice market being just 5 minutes away. We went there twice that trip as Lisa’s camera ran out of battery the first time we were there. Make sure you book a table on the top floor by the window as the restaurant is very popular. I had the pistachio kebab, the pistachio bits added a rich, nutty flavor to the already flavorful lamb kebabs, they brought us a few mezes to choose from while we were waiting for our mains and those were very tasty as well. We wanted to try the little lahmacun which is the Turkish version of thin crust pizza but it was unavailable =( all in all I think it was a good dining experience as service was great, food was decent, it’s in a great location and the view was fantastic

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Add: Tahmis Cad KalcIn Sok No.17 Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey (on the open square to the right of the Spice Bazaar)

T: (212) 528-0390
Web: www.hamdi.com.tr

More on the next post 😉

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