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14 November 2010

Hua Seng Hong Restaurant, Chinatown, Bangkok


When I think of Thailand, I think of food. When I arrive in Thailand, my eyes invariably grow bigger than my stomach. And so the feast begins.

Where to start? Pretty much as soon as you walk out of the hotel lobby. Food is everywhere and it’s available at all times. Thai street food is a marvel to the senses.

I am constantly amazed by the quality of food that’s whipped up on a small trolley cart on the side of the road, or in a tiny wooden boat floating down the Chao Phraya – the river that snakes through the South East Asian metropolis.

When faced with a multitude of feasting options, I can get a little overwhelmed and out comes the little piggy in me trying to cram as much eating into one hour as physically possible. To control these gluttonous inclinations, I scribbled out somewhat of an eating game-plan.

First stop: Chinatown. While the principles of Thai cuisine are quite unique, the Chinese have had a profound influence on aspects of it including cooking methods like stir-frying and the use of certain ingredients like noodles, roast pork and roast duck.

Continue reading "Hua Seng Hong Restaurant, Chinatown, Bangkok" »

18 September 2008

Manhattan Eats: 'ino Cafe and Wine Bar


Our breakfast place of choice in New York was Italian panini bar 'ino. Located in the West Village, 'ino occupies a tiny, charming space on Bedford St.

The menu consists solely of panini, tramezzini, bruschette and an excellent selection of Italian wines. Some may shrug and say: "So what, a toasted sandwich." But 'ino is more than that. The flavours are bold, fresh and if you close your eyes, you're transported to Italy.

Another important factor is 'ino's bread -- it's very special. Baked fresh daily in legendary neighbouring restaurant Blue Ribbon's 140-year-old brick oven, the bread is carefully crafted from scratch using only the best ingredients.


One of the many stars on 'ino's menu is the truffled egg toast. It consists of an egg grilled on ciabatta with fontina cheese and truffle oil. The serving plate is scattered with blanched asparagus.

All in all, 'ino is a charming little cafe with a simple menu and friendly service: our favourite way to start the day in New York.


'ino cafe/wine bar

21 Bedford Street
between 6th Ave & Downing
New York, NY 1002

10 September 2008

Manhattan Eats: Momofuku Ssam Bar


The power of the Momofuku Ssam's pork bun -- addictive indeed and New York is showing no signs of tiring of these tasty morsels.

Momofuku Ssam Bar is a revelation. I can only describe the food paradoxically. It's exciting, yet simple. It's confusing, yet comforting. It's of the highest quality, yet inexpensive. The one thing that is certain is that the food will captivate and make you want more.

The Momofuku empire is led by chef and co-owner David Cheng, famous not only for his culinary genius but also his colourful language. Only a few years ago Cheng was a little-known chef at a noodle bar. Now he's touted as one of the most "innovative and exciting chefs America has seen in decades".

In a city where restaurants will sparkle one day and fade into obscurity the next, Momofuku's Korean-inspired food has a firm place in the heart and mouths of New Yorkers.

The steamed bun (pictured above), has been replicated in restaurants all over the city yet none compare to Momofuku's. Pasture-raised heirloom pork belly, hoisin, cucumber and scallions are enclosed in a soft steamed bun. Each mouthful is sublime.


We went twice to Momofuku Ssam. Once at night and once at lunchtime. The difference is really night and day. If you want your meal charged with a frenetic energy, go at night. For something more subdued, lunchtime's your best bet.

For dinner we had the sliced Long Island Fluke (summer flounder) with yuzu koshu and puréed peaches, pork belly steamed buns, marinated hanger steak ssam and the divine spicy pork sausage and rice cakes.

For a light lunch, try out the Bi Bim Bap of braised tofu with bean sprouts, white kimchi, fresh edamame, whipped tofu and a delicately slow-poached egg.


Momofuku Ssam
207 2nd ave. nyc 10003 | corner of 13th and 2nd 
East Village

29 August 2008

New York


Just back from a whirlwind trip of New York. It was everything I had expected it to be and more. It was overwhelming, dazzling, exhausting and scrumptious. The trip could best be summed up as a total food fest. To try and explain it visually, just imagine two little yellow packmen chomping their way around the city - that was us.

Armed with a list of restaurants to try out and our voracious appetites, our culinary travels took us around the streets of Manhattan, to Brooklyn, to Long Island and New England.  We had both good and bad experiences but on the whole, they were pretty impressive.

Thank you to everyone who recommended places for us to try. We certainly have some favourites. And, in the coming weeks, we'll share with you some of our photos and experiences.

Even though I've only been back a day, I can't wait to relive my holiday through Taste Buddies. I think you'll enjoy it too.

11 August 2008

The Big Apple


We're heading to New York for the next two weeks. It has long been a desire of mine to tread the city's famed streets and now that the time has come, I'm filled with a mixture of excitement and apprehension of the impending sensory overload.

With New York, you get the impression that it's not just hype. Anytime you mention that you're going to New York, you're greeted with genuine excitement - especially if that person has been there themselves.

"You have to see MOMA... Rockefeller... Ellis Island... the Statue, etc, etc, etc"

So, along with our luggage and anticipation, we leave with a thousand tips from friends and also have our own large list of things to see and do... and eat of course.

We're not setting ourselves an itinerary, though. We're going to miss thousands of galleries, festivals and tourist attractions -- simply because the city is just too damn big to pack into a couple of weeks. Instead, we'll just wander the streets and let ourselves be pulled in whatever direction New York's gravity is flowing.

We're bringing the camera, of course, and hopefully will have some culinary adventures to share upon our return.

04 April 2008

Oaxaqueñan Chocolate


We are just back from our trip to Mexico with a bag full of goodies to talk about. Most of our time was spent exploring the fascinating markets in Oaxaca city, with a final stint for some sun in Puerto Angel. 

The Oaxaca region is rightly considered the food bowl of Mexico with its fertile valleys producing an abundance of tropical fruit and vegetables. It is also famous for its moles, a type of sauce, its string cheese (quesillo), its toasted grasshoppers (chapulines) and its chocolate.   

Chocolate has played an important part in the Mexican diet for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Once considered the 'food of the gods', chocolate was made from roasting cocoa beans, grinding them and then mixing them with sugar, spices and walnuts or almonds.

This traditional method of making chocolate can still be found in Mexico however it's getting harder to find with the rise of commercial chocolatiers like Mayordomo. The signature Mayordomo shop is located in the 'chocolate quarter' of Oaxaca on 20 de Novembre Street and Hildago Aveue. The smell is intoxicating and lures young and old in to sample its wares. The lines went out the door.

I bought several chunks of chocolate from a smaller chocolatier in the 20 de Novembre Mercado (market). The fragrant chocolate is infused with cinnamon, raw sugar and just a hint of cloves. It's not the kind of treat that you'd just snack on as it's quite gritty but it's perfect for hot chocolates or in sauces.


Chocolate drinks are made using a Molinillo (moh-lin-nyee-oh); a traditional wooden implement used to whisk the hot chocolate until it froths. The Molinillo is held between the palms of the hand and then spun back and forth to break down the chocolate and aerate the hot milk or water.


The whisking makes a very distinct and comforting sound. This, paired with the rich aroma of the hot chocolate, greeted us almost every morning during our trip. We've got at least 20 cups of chocolate left in our precious chunks. Drinking the last one will be bittersweet.

13 March 2008

Mexico Bound


Tomorrow we head off to the 'land of seven moles'. And no, we won't be burrowing with little blind mammals, we are actually making our way to Oaxaca in Mexico. For those, like me, who are new to a 'mole' (pronouced Moh-lay) it is a rich, complex sauce with up to thirty different ingredients. The Oaxaca region is famous for its moles.

Before the veritable Oaxacan feast, we will spend a couple of days kayaking around the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico. I'm sorry; I don't mean to rub it in, but after surviving another rainy winter in Vancouver my Australian blood needs some serious warming.

So 'hasta pronto' and see you in two weeks! 

13 January 2008

See you at Wilenskys


With Christmas and New Years behind us, I can finally start blogging again. I apologise for the lapse of time between posts. It has been a hectic, all-consuming time with food, family and friends.   

For my first post of 2008, I have decided to revisit some of the Montréal travel highlights that I have been meaning to get to. In particular, there is one place that has remained with me since our trip in September: Wilensky Light Lunch.

Wilensky's is a Montréal institution that mustn't be missed. The historical Jewish diner is most famous for its 'Wilensky Special';  a toasted salami and bolonge sandwich served with mustard and a homemade pickle (also known as a 'half-sour') on the side. The food by itself isn't outstanding (it's a toasted sandwich), but it is the whole 'Wilensky experience' that makes it so special.


Wilensky's time-worn wood-top counters and "hospital-scrub-green" walls take you back into the early 1930s when it first threw open its doors. The place is fascinating and it's hard not to feel like you're part of something special when you step through its doors. A cabinet on the left side of the room, wallpapered with dozens of articles in which generations of Wilenskys pose with their famous sandwiches, bears testament to a diner steeped in history.

For over 75 years Wilensky's has been serving all sorts of clientele from politicians, celebrities to Montréal locals. There are only nine bar stools available so you have to wait your turn and there is a strict policy on no chit-chat or loitering. You are in and out!

We arrived at Wilensky at 3.45pm and their doors close at 4pm on the dot (we didn't know this at the time). I could feel that they were anxious for us to leave but when we started taking so many photos, I think they thought what the heck, we'll let them sit down and enjoy the special. We washed it down with the best chocolate milkshake I have EVER had and then were promptly escorted to the door.


Wilensky Light Lunch
34 Fairmount Street, West
Montréal, QC

28 November 2007

The Tastes & Textures of Thailand


I've been meaning to post this piece for a while so I could share some insights into the tastes and textures of Thailand. On my recent trip there, which wasn't for pleasure mind you, I was lucky enough to eat some really fabulous food.

It is hard not to eat well in Thailand especially when buying from the street vendors where there is always something new and exciting to be discovered. Mind you, I did have one particularly ghastly food experience which I will share at the end. Maybe. But for now, here are some of the delightful things I got to eat.

Thai Khanom, otherwise known as Thai sweets, are very special. Coconut and Bai Toey, or pandanus leaf, are often key ingredients in the little jellies featured below. Pandanus leaves are long and slender and have a wonderful aroma that is used for anything from flavouring sweets, wrapping and barbecuing chicken in, flavouring drinking water and even deodorizing taxi cabs! It's true. I took of photo in the back of a cab that had a whole bunch of leaves just sitting on the dash board. The cab smelled wonderful.


Kao Niew Mamuang, or sticky rice and mango is my favourite Thai dessert. I crave it often. I can actually make it now that I have a sticky rice steamer but it is not the same as it is in Thailand. I am not sure what it is, maybe just the extra Thai touch. Towards the end of my trip, I made a point of eating it every day just to get my fix. The Kao Niew is steamed and then mixed with coconut cream that has been boiled with sugar and little bit of salt and then served with ripe mango.


Continue reading "The Tastes & Textures of Thailand" »

23 October 2007

Montréal Markets: Marché Jean-Talon


Ok, well it's been a month since we returned from Quebec. I had meant to start posting about the trip sooner, but then... what with my trip to Thailand and... well, in the circumstances, the delay is forgivable.

The intervening month also made it more fun to re-live the trip as we went through our 500-or-so photos. I've decided to start with what, I think it's fair to say, was our favourite part of Montréal: Marché Jean-Talon.


We really liked Montréal. It had a great pulse to it. There was always life on the streets. Colour, noise and people spilled out of shops, dining rooms and parks. And nowhere demonstrated this joie de vivre like Jean-Talon markets.

Located in the Little Italy district, Marché Jean Talon is Montréal's and perhaps even North America's, largest open air market with over 300 stalls in the summer months. It is open year-round despite the blistering winters however there are of course fewer stalls and they are located indoors.


The Market is spread over several blocks and contains acres of farm-fresh produce and specialty stores that drew us in and dazzled with the beautiful colours, the sounds of hawkers and the lure of smells that wafted from every direction.

The place is mecca for food and foodies.

Continue reading "Montréal Markets: Marché Jean-Talon" »

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