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Everything posted by eternal

  1. I have to apologize up front for this pictures. My wife and I carry around two different cameras - a Canon G10 (which we love) and a Sony DSCW-120 (a cheaper point and shoot). For whatever reason, exhaustion, laziness or whatever, I stopped carrying the G10, which is actually a pretty small camera and these pictures are almost all form the Sony. The color is off and some are fuzzy but hopefully you can get past that. We started off in Shanghai with a formal dinner with family in the French Concession Area... The starters I forget what this was, but it had the consistency of sweet potatoes.. Wrapped Greens Braised Pork Turtle! More Sweet and Sour Crispy Fish Sea Cucumber - a delicacy Our first Xao Long Bao of the trip - mediocre Food picked up during random walks... Squid Balls - I tried and I still don't like. The Japanese version Takayaki, I prefer. Making Squid Balls BBQ! Honestly, we were a bit burned out on Asian food at this point in the trip (4.5 weeks into China) and we went out a lot for Euro food - mostly pasta, pizza and salads and so there isn't a ton more here except dumplings/Xao Long Bao. We tried the famous Nanxiang and had the ones with a straw and crab innards.... Another overpriced place with mediocre food... But the best place BY FAR was Yang's fry dumpling. I saw two different locations and ate here three times. I never made it past the dumplings but the curry noodle soup seemed to be a favorite among the locals too...4 yuan (65 cents) for 4 dumplings. The best deal in town---and maybe the world...These dumplings are TO DIE FOR in my humble opinion. This location wasn't far from the Four Seasons Hotel. The Spot Unlike most things in China, preparing dumplings at Yang's is incredibly efficient - good thing too as they are eaten as fast as they are made A big pot of dumplings Dumplings on a plate with vinegar and scallions Look at this glorious, crispy on the bottom, soft on the top and filled with at least 3x the juice of anywhere else! Taking a Peak inside On our last night in Shanghai, we went out for another fancy meal at some place that could have been right out of Vegas. The food was very good but the place ws mostly about the "Grandness" of it all with high ceilings, only bottled water and big, gaudy furniture pieces that only work in Asia. The Shanghai love it because it screams $$$ and according to the other Chinese, the Shanghainese are all about the money... You tell me Shirmp and um, stuff... Highly marbled and very tender beef...and bone. It is OK in China to just pick up the bone and suck on it, which my auntie demonstrated later in the meal. Pork! Cereal Prawns Pork Tenderloin? The Whole Meal And that sums up our month in China. After Shanghai, we took a flight to Japan and spent a couple weeks between Hiroshima and Kyoto. I guess I'll have to do a food post from there as well...
  2. Onto Beijing... Beijing is great for food. You can access much of the regional food without walking very far from your hotel. We had memorable dinners at two different Peking Duck restaurants (one famous and one not), a spicy Hunan restaurant, a very formal dinner at the Telecom Hotel (written up in Beijing Dining), lunch at The Loft and many snack along the way... On the first night we arrived, we had dinner at a Peking Duck house that was recommended by the Hotel (we stayed at one of the Hating Hotels, which is a great, reasonably priced ($20-30 USD) hotel chain that is both modern and VERY clean - recommended for quasi-budget travelers) The duck was the best I've ever had - though I've only eaten it before in NY and Seattle..No. They don't carve it at the table. This isn't a super fancy restaurant, but it was a nice place (ie no bright white lights or food on the floor) Peking Duck - Yum! Behind is a plate of duck spring rolls A side of mushrooms and bok choy The Hunan Restaurant nearby was probably my favorite restaurant with 4 Yuan (65 cents) draft beers of Tsingtao and super spicy food. If only I had taken more pictures! I was too busy eating... Caramelized cauliflower The Loft was seen in No Reservations and has been written up on here before. It is trying to be a modern restaurant in a place (China) that is still new to the idea of clean, modern and "fancy western" style service. It was only me for lunch so I couldn't order that much. The standout was the lamb (thanks for the advice from egullet!) My Meal Totally dry and bland. The least favorite The delicious lamb Up close After a morning of walking the hutongs, where we stopped for this little snack... we stopped by for lunch at a BBQ restaurant and dived into this spicy fish dish... You can barely see the fish through all the chillies I have to say that I really like Asian heat - no. not the weather but the spice. It is hot but not overly lingeringly so like Mexican and American (and correct me if I missed a location) chillies. Here, the spiciness makes your mouth tingle and numbs your lips but accents the food nicely. And I did mention we stopped at the famous Peking duck restaurant on the equivalent of Universal Studios Walk Beijing, right? Here it is in all of its plastic plate glory. 5 times more expensive then the place we ate at the day before and not as good. The atmosphere is awful as well... Moving onto Shanghai...
  3. One picture that I had forgotten in Xian...Dumplings! I'm working on the rest now. Some more posts to come...
  4. eternal

    The Perfect Burger

    This hasn't been my experience, though I don't add anything but salt and pepper to the 1:1 chuck:sirloin gound beef. My experience is that the burgers dry out and become less juicy. Maybe something in your mixture (the egg?) is keeping that from happening.
  5. That last pizza looks awesome. WIll have to try that out.
  6. My Chinese is non-existent, but we were traveling with my father-in-law who in Chinese and speaks Mandarin and Shanghainese so language wasn't generally a problem. To get at what you're asking though, yes, it can be a problem. Most people in China do not speak English. Very, very few do and without him, we would have missed many things. Having said that, a lot of places do have pictures in their menus. Not everything is represented that way but a lot of our favorites were and for the most part, all staff were very happy to work with us and our language difficulties when it was the occasion that we were eating without the old man. Sometimes the pictures don't help a ton. I remember going to the mapo tofu place and having a Lost in Translation moment like when they ordered shabu shabu. On one page of the menu there appeared to be 8 pictures of the same mapo tofu. Of course they were different somehow but who knows how unless you know Chinese. Finally, many places (like the dumpling/noodle soup shop or the soup lady or the duck guy) really only do one or two dishes so you can just point to what you want. The hardest thing would have been figuring out what was going on at the places where you could see the veggies and meat and choose what you wanted...but even then if you knew what was going on, you could just point and they might ask you questions to which you might not understand, but in general you just nod and say yes You might get something a little unexpected but as long as you are OK with that, I think it would for the most part work out well... Don't let it stop you from going
  7. No. We never made it to Tibet. It all just became too expensive and we would have been rushing it, so we backtracked to Lijiang and jumped a cheap flight to Chengdu. Will have to do Tibet next time... Would like to spend a couple weeks making our way to Nepal. Maybe this is a trip for the guys though, and not for the lady....
  8. Funny coincidence. Annette was my instructor last year when I took the culinary techniques class. I had no idea she could cook Filipino....I did like her very much as an instructor... We had some friends in Seattle who were Filipino and they always said that the reason you don't see more Filipino restaurants is that most people outside of the country don't like it. They do lots of weird stuff with fruit and meats and combinations that we're not used to... Of course both of the chef blogs mentioned above are blocked by the Great Firewall of China. *sigh*
  9. Well, I wish I had more pictures for Chengdu, but I don't. I remembered taking a lot of pictures there but now realize they were all of pandas. If you ever go to Chengdu, do make it out to the Panda Breeding Center. They are the coolest little animals. They look just like people, with panda suits on. Maybe stoned people because they are pretty slow going. But a joy to just watch play. Good times. The other thing Chengdu has going for it, other than Sichuan cuisine, of course, is the whole lazy tea house culture. There were people all over just sitting aroundf during the middle of the day drinking tea, playing mahjong or cards or just chatting. It was great. We even met some old granmas and talked about when the communists took over. bad times for them as they were educated and the communists didn't like the educated. Interesting stuff So the one meal that really sticks out in Chengdu wasn't anything fancy, but it was a nice restaurant near the WengZu temple. The deep fried fish we had there, about 10 cm long and spiced up were delicious and not at all fishy, which chinese fish tends to be...especially this far inland. The thick pot of mushrooms was also good... Spicy Fried Fish Oh yea, those little balls of tofu and custard were delicious as well. Very creamy, soft and silky... We topped it all off with some crispy fried pancakes of green onions and pork We also tried out the local tea-smoked duck (this is where it comes from) and mapo tofu (ditto). There are places that just specialize in this stuff and it doesn't disappoint.. Notice the topping. It seemed to be a big of corriander, cumin and pepper. Very nice Tea-Smoked Duck - If you live in NY, you can find a good version of this at Spicy and Tasty in Flushing.. After Chengdu, we headed off the X'ian, known for a soup you crumble a really hard bread into. FIL and wifey didn't think it was that great, but I liked it. if you combine both big and small pieces into the soup, then it thickens up AND it tastes like soup crackers in a really good lamb broth. It's simple food, but good, though the real reason to come to X'ian is for the Terracotta Warriors and they do not disappoint, but that's for the non-food blog. Soup and Bread...
  10. After a couple days of touring around Dali, which is a beautiful town btw. I highly recommend that you stay there for 3 or 4 days if you are heading to Yunnan. Just grab a bike and get out of town. Lots to see as farmers work all the local fields and life moves slow. But we couldn't be slow because we needed to get to Lijiang. We didn't yet know that our plans to go to Tibet were not going to happen. Lijiang, in my opinion, is like Ancient China Disneyland. I don't really like it as it is mobbed with Chinese tourists and is now really catering to this crowd. But some people love it so maybe you shouldn't trust me. We did see whole suckling pig on the spit and other good things, but the prices were sort of out of touch with China and nothing looked like it was being prepared with too much skill or care. My favorite dish was probably what can only be described as a Chinese Breakfast Burrito. We picked them up from a cart one early morning. It was rice paper wrapped around a Chinese doughnut, bean sprouts and hot sauce/chili oil and it was really good. We did have some nice meals in Shangrilia. In particular at a Korean place (we were really craving bibimbap) and at a dumpling and noodle soup spot run by Manchurians. The best dumplings we've had so far, not including the Shao Long Bao from Yang's here in Shanghai Onto the pictures... At the market in Shangrilia. This was one of the dirtiest markets I've been to and with deformed dogs walking around, it did NOT make for a good atmosphere. I seem to remember even getting a little queasy at the end because of it - though I've yet to get sick from eating in Asia Chopping up a duck for us. Total price: 10 yuan ($1.50) Duck in the bag, rice and veg Ugh. Sorry for the poor photo. This was hot and spicy dumpling soup made by a nearby soup lady - there were several. She also threw in some pig rinds. Pretty good, cheap and contained about 20 dumplings! The soup lady. She would keep a pot of the meaty, red chili sauce going to the side and then dump some of it towards the end into the pot containing the water and the noodles. I was worried that it would be too watered down but it wasn't. The dumplings for my soup. I couldn't believe how many she put in. That's a little better... Ever wonder how they make Yak Butter Tea? Well from Yak Cheese, of course. It isn't too far off from an extra sour goat cheese, but Yak Butter Tea is really thick and tastes a lot like, well, butter. My limit is one cup.... I wish SAFEWAY sold cuts like this... This being a market, there was of course lots and lots of veg... So one night in Shangrilia, after a particularly frustrating day of watching our plans for Tibet go down in a big flaming pile of shite, we went out to watch the old people dance in the town square...and then picked up some blood sausage and mushroom skewers in hot sauce and followed it all up with a visit to a small dumpling restaurant where the family was just finishing up for the night. I'm glad they let us in because the homemade noodle soup (they used a pasta machine to flatten and cut the noodles) with its chewy noodles and super spicy sauce along with the steamed and fried dumplings were a meal I won't forget for awhile. Simple, but oh so good....and served with a smile that awaited your approval... Fresh Noodle Soup Blood Sausage Skewer Making Dumplings and other Dishes Up Next: Chengdu, Capital of Sichuan
  11. After Hong Kong, we took a quick 2 hour Hong Kong express flight to Kunming, Yunnan Province where we would spend the next couple weeks traveling to Dali, Lijiang and Shangrilia. The food was excellent in Kunming and Dali, mediocre in Lijiang and pretty good in Shangrilia, including a few favs. Here we go.... We stayed at the Mingdu Hotel (200 yuan) in Kunming and breakfast was included. I still don't go head on into Asian breakfasts. I tried but finally gave up in Laos. My belly prefers yogurt and fruit to steamed veggies, fatty pork and noodles. But we wouldn't see an American or Euro style breakfast for awhile so I had to give in a bit. I'm glad I did because the hotel had some of the best noodles I've had in China. Really surprising, good stuff made to order with lots of heat and my belly handled it well. Wish I would've taken more pictures there. Breakfast at Mingdu We were only in Kunming for a couple of days and we just walked around by the old pagodas and market. We picked up some just made peanut butter that we would eat for the rest of the trip for i think 2 or 3 yuan (50 cents) Making Peanut Butter The last night we had a wonderful meal at a 4 table restaurant 2 min away from the hotel that the FIL had spotted the night before. The restaurant had about 20 or 30 containers of fresh produce and protein and you could just walk up, point to what you wanted and they would make it for you. I thought this was a really novel concept and was pretty excited y the whole thing. Turned out this restaurant was not unique and for the next two weeks we'd see tons of restaurants just like this. But nothing to complain about. The food was good. Everything had a nice amount of heat and acid in it, something I miss being in Shanghai now. We picked out some stuffed peppers, dried fava beans, a whole fish and some cold DALI beer (no cooking required Dinner for 3 came out to 45 or 50 yuan (6-7 USD). Stuffed Peppers Crispy Fish in Chili Oil - Amazingly not greasy for so much oil around it. Fried Tofu in chili Oil - Fried, dried favas with chili - this would be a good beer snack but not what I was expecting - I hadn't realized the favas were dried when I selected them - guess I should look closer next time...or drink less DALI beer - With chili oil, but luckily only on the outside After Kunming, we took the long and uncomfortable minibus to Dali. I won't tell you about that, let's just get to more food. FIL talked to the hotel staff of the hostel we were staying in and they pointed us to a hole-in-the-wall place down the street. Didn't even look like a restaurant from outside but the bins of food inside, just like our Kunming restaurant (though twice as many here) gave it away. We sat inside a little compound and had a nice big lunch... Here are the choices for your lunch... Pork with green onions (used in all Yunnan food it seems) and eggplant? It isn't eggplant, but check out the little yellowish veggie at the top of the pile of food. It adds a bitter/sour element to the dish. It doesn't taste so good on its own, but does complement the dish well. I forget the name but can get it later.. The wife was craving fresh tofu so we got this dish that came with black fungus (one of my favorites) and a citrusy sauce. This is what I had meant to get the day before. Fresh favas! I love em. Didn't even bother to unwrap them, just ate them whole shell and all... The FIL loves soup and so he ordered this eel looking fish soup to end the meal. Pretty good though I still have to get used to eating 20 of these eel looking things in a serving... The next day we went back to this restaurant and ordered some different dishes. I had spotted some razor clams and wasn't going to miss out on those.... Followed by some mushrooms (they must have had 7 different types around) and tofu Good stuff. next up, Lijiang and Shangrilia
  12. The wife and I just completed one month in China, including a few days in Hong Kong. Since mlb.tv isn't working too well right now and I just opened a nice cold SNOW beer, I figured I could at least write some of this up. We started in Hong Kong, arriving from New Zealand via Singapore where we had a 14 hour layover, but at SIN you can waste the time on free internet, LAN games, etc. The 14 hours literally flew by. Of course, you could go into Singapore too but I had been to Singapore 3 times in the last 2 months so we didn't feel the need. Hong Kong is like China 101 or Intro to China. You get some of the best parts of China, cleanliness and lots of English speakers. Also, many Hong Kong buyers don't trust the Chinese distributors anymore after the milk problems, orange scandal and just the generally poor or mislabeled stuff that comes out of China so they are more likely to go with goods from other places - in other words, the quality tends to be higher. My father-in-law even claims that the Peking Duck is better in Hong Kong because they use American ducks. In Hong Kong, we were ready to dive back into Asian food after a month away. We woke up the first morning and walked through a few markets, including places to pick out your own chicken before it is slaughtered... And you can't go to Hong Kong without getting Dim Sum, which we had at Laung Haung or something like that. It was a recommendation of a "low-class" place to get good dim sum. It was a total mess, the service was awful and well, we thought it was great! From the Market Veg Fresh Frogs Butcher Dried Goods and assorted Name that Fish! Looks wonderful. I have no idea what it is Some Meals Chicken and Potato Curry (near Soho, on the street) Beef Dumpling and Noodle Soup - i think it was mostly beef innards Dim Sum Madness! On the left, dried shrimp burritos ( didn't like) and on the right, fish on rice This seemed to be a favorite so we mobbed the cart like everyone else when it came. Some sort of fish paste wrapped in cabbage leaf and steamed - very tasty Look at this wonderful pork! It was damn good. My favorite And that was all I have for Hong Kong.
  13. eternal

    Beijing dining

    With a little help from a moderator, I got some pictures uploaded. Here they are: From our formal Beijing Meal at Telecom Hotel: Jellyfish Deboned and reconstructed duck with sticky rice Served duck Scallops and Strawberries Sweet and Sour Fish - If anybody knows how to do this, I'd love to hear! Whole pigeon - picked over (this might not be a pigeon, but that is what they told me. If you know, again I'd love to know) My favorite - crispy rice and Chinese sausage Turnip Cakes and Almond jellies The pictures are only mediocre because I was using the wife's camera. More images from other meals to come!
  14. eternal


    Thanks for this! Headed to Japan on Friday and have a few days in Kyoto and was already planning to break the budget there (hard not to in Japan).
  15. eternal

    Beijing dining

    I checked out the loft. I was solo and while I ordered way too much food, it still wasn't enough to sample 1/100th of the menu. The lamb was definitely the standout. I had a fried egg ad noodle dish that was totally bland and dry. The noodles cut with single chopstick in pork and soy sauce were tasty as well. I'd go back for more but honestly didn't think it was all that special. I went to a Hunanese restaurant across the street from the hotel we were staying up by Huixinxijie Beikou station and had a wonderful meal of hot and spicy caramelized cauliflower (chosen after reading egullet), whole deep fried fish (about 5 inches long - eat bones and all)), a spicy and chicken peppers dish and cold draft beer (all of 4 yuan a piece!) that i drank way too much of. I would put it up there with the best places we have eaten at over the last month in China Now in Shanghai, we stumbled across some really great shao long bao after three other mediocre versions in just as many days. The place, which I think might be famous based on the queue and the English menu is Yang's Stir fried dumplings and there are two of them right next to each other. We happened to walk by and then bought 4 for 4.5 yuan. They were awesome. Tons of juice inside and a good thick and crispy bottom with thin wrapper on top. They look more like Snowballs then the Shao Long Bao I'm used to and the flavors were rich and tasty. This is near Shimen No. 1 Road, close to the 4 Seasons (though we are staying at the Hanting Hotel).
  16. eternal

    Beijing dining

    The best duck we had was at TianTian, I believe is the name. It is up north, between the 3rd and 4th ring. I can get the actual directions if anybody is interested. After my father-in-law talked to some family, they all mentioned it was a place that a lot of locals go to. IT wasn't particularly busy when we were there but I guess it does get busy on the weekends. Speaking of family, my father's cousin who runs The Telecom Hotel had us over for a special lunch. It was a ridiculously formal affair where the manager of the restaurant stayed in our private room for the whole meal, watching his staff of three, who in turn watched all of us. Not many people spoke and I spoke even less, not speaking Mandarin or its gurgling sounding Beijing version. And despite several years of home cooked meals y my mother-in-law, living in Seattle and NY and the last 6 months of Asian adventure travel, a lot of the stuff was a first for me and the wife. It was all the stuff that you drag out for your family once a year, if that. The cold dishes were duck's tongue in a brown sauce (very good if you can get past the eating the meat off the boney inside), smoked tofu, sliced jellyfish (sashimi-style), shrimp with vinegar side, deep fried small fish, an asparagus spear like vegetable that was stacked neatly like a set of linkin logs, duck, whole steamed pigeon. While that was being served, waitresses came around with single serving sized tea kettles of a delicious and fully-bodied chicken soup/broth. We sat with little cups of Chinese wine and the thimble sized glasses of maotai, which we drank during the toasts (which of course I couldn't understand though they were generally directed at me - the foreigner.) After the apps, the staff would bring out one main dish at a time, spin it around the lazy susan slowly for everyone to see and then bring it back to another table to cut and serve for us. The first dish was the duck. Roasted and stuffed with sticky rice, it was completely de-boned and reconstructed back into the shape of a duck. The duck was moist and the sticky rice inside, delicious. Next up was scallops with celery and strawberries, not unlike strawberry shrimp I've had before. No thick sauce here, just a light added sweetness from the berries. My guess is that they berries were added at the very end as there were still in good shape. We continued with deep fried crab claws and stuffed squid balls, the stuffing I think was the liquified innards of the crab, but I could be mistaken. The outside was made of 1cmx1cm breadcrumbs that reminded me of my techniques class back at FCI, heavily buttered and uniformly cut. After that we were presented with a whole fried fish in sweet and sour sauce, which no, did not taste like Panda Express. The sauce was just slightly sweet without the heaviness I generally think of back home and therefore never order. The fish was so light it its cut, which seemed to be crosshatched so that the fish looks like a porcupine, floured and deep fried. I've seen this again in Shanghai and if anybody knows how this is done, I'd love to know. After the fish, the servers came around with big, earthenware bowl (*maybe 4 gallon or so) filled with rice and topped with lots of chinese sausage. The vessel was still very hot and the rice was crisping on the sides of the bowl. The servers came it the spin and then mixed it all up and served it to us. My favorite part of the meal. The second to last course was the Turnip cakes and almond jelly and papaya dessert followed by a giant ice cream sundae - which at this point we were so full that we couldn't eat much more, but managed to get down into the dragon fruit, mango and papaya. I have pictures by I can't upload them here. If you're interested, I can point you to my flickr account.
  17. eternal

    Beijing dining

    We went to Universal Studios Walk, Beijing err I mean Qiamen Rd today and had the duck at Quandobe. Wow. What a racket that is. We missed the last seating for the main restaurant and ended up eating at the "casual" place in front. They are really leveraging their brand and in my mind, completely devaluing it though here in China, people just go places because they are famous so maybe it won't hurt them... We got the set menu, which came with a few cold sides, none of them very good and then the duck. A service for 3 was plenty for four, but the price was 436 Yuan so hardly a bargain and the beers are 25 Yuan each! The crown of ridiculousness is that everything is served on plastic plates and the plum sauce comes from a packet that the waitress opens and pours into your little plastic bowl. The good news is the duck is pretty good, though not as good as the local place we went last night and the skin gets greasy because it lays in a puddle of fat on the plate. The ambiance is horrible. Just absolutely bad. it feels like you are in a cafeteria. I would never go back. I'll try Da Dong in the next few days. Hopefully it is better.
  18. eternal

    Beijing dining

    Am here in Beijing for another 5 days before heading to Shanghai for about a week. I'm just wrapping up a 5 week tour of China but spent most of my time in Yunnan, with short trips to Chengdu and Xi'an. We had some great duck today down the street from our hotel, on the 4th ring not far from the Bird's Nest. Best I've ever had, but I've only had Peking duck in Seattle and NY. Sounds like we need to hit Da Dong (though my wife has vivid memories of Quandobe or however it is spelled so we might end up there too. From this thread it appears we also need to stop by The Loft Noodle shop and the Hunan Government Restaurant, but the address isn't clear to me and a quick google search doesn't yield much. Can anybody verify the address? Any other options/advice would be recommended. For the last 3 weeks my father-in-law, who is from Shanghai, has just asked locals where to eat and had our success rate has been very high...'cept for a couple meals in Lijiang and one in X'ian.... Thanks
  19. You don't have to spend the night, but the 3 hour drive to Ha Long bay from Hanoi is a bit tiring to try twice in one day - though I suppose you could stay in one of the resorts nearby. I dunno though - we had a great time in Ha Long Bay. One of the highlights of our 3 months on the road for sure. If you are by yourself, maybe a different story but hanging out on the deck with a bottle of wine, watching the karsts go by, swimming off the beach by the cave and well the cave itself was might impressive. We stayed up late playing cards and drinking bottles of beer. Good times. I don't have time to make a egullet specific set here right now, but here's the one from our flickr site. You can ignore all the cheesy posed shots http://www.flickr.com/photos/14628299@N00/...eted=3348572995
  20. We did an overnight on Ha Long Bay about 3 weeks ago. The company we took was Bai Tho. We thought the cabins were pretty nice. I mean, they aren't cruise ship quality but they are clean and work fine. There is basically no room in them - they are just there for sleeping. While the scenery is the main attraction, the food on our boat was definitely one of the highlights! There wasn't anything fancy in the prep but it was all incredibly fresh seafood. For the lunch the first day, everything was pretty much steamed - big crabs (cracked at the table for us) and shrimp along with a few other dishes. There was no menu but everything was plated and sent to us as it was finished to each table got their food at slightly different times. For dinner, the method was changed to frying/baking and we had stuffed crab, stir-fried giant prawns in sweet/spicy tomato based sauce, deep fried fish, and fried rice and some fried pork in a mustard sauce. Again, everything came out hot and fresh and tender. Lunch the next day was less seafood and more western with french fries and whatnot and honestly I can't remember what it was (maybe some stir-fried pork and noodles?) - nothing memorable but a nice change from the copious amounts of seafood we had already eaten. We all really liked the food and had a great time on the trip. Bai Tho is highly recommended (the tour guide said the food is pretty much the same on all their boats).
  21. Enjoy! Last time I had a layover in BKK, I followed in your footsteps and hit the Four Seasons buffet (just two weeks ago). It was indeed amazing and I can't thank you enough for that tidbit of info. Looking forward to the info on Seoul.
  22. Yesterday, I attended day 1 of the 2009 Penang International Food Fest along with the 12th Annual Battle of the Chefs. This was just luck as we happened to be in Penang and saw signs for it. After some research online, we got all the details and went over the next day on the local bus (the buses in Penang are very nice). The fest was OK - mostly big commercial vendors pitching fried fish or rice paste makers or something - but the Battle of the Chefs was good food, if a little exhausting. There were many battles that day but I paid most attention to the "Western Pacific Seafood" competition. I saw 2 battles from front to finish. Each "battle" was an hour long, chefs could bring whatever fish they wanted. They had to provide everything themselves. They all made their own creation. Some were pretty boring - I got stuck with a newbie on one match who didn't do anything particularly interesting - and others went all out with foie and truffles, etc. The battles went on all day for this one competition and I *think* the best would battle again on Sunday. I also met one of the judges who was from Arizona. He runs the culinary program at AI and was very friendly. He came up to speak to me probably because I was clearly the only white person in the audience. He said he had 43 courses of fish that day...and then the organizers were taking them out for seafood later... ha! Anyway, I made a slideshow. You can view it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/14628299@N00/...242495348/show/. I wish I could tell you what was in everything but none of them (save one dish) came with a menu. After a chef was done with his 4 dishes, one was placed on the table for public viewing and the others were taken in for judging. Now in KL and won't be able to go to Sunday's finale but if you are there, I would recommend it. It only costs 3 ringgas!
  23. Thanks for the info! We are in Chinatown, right on Paitang Street. Had some great curry laksa for lunch. Still have tonight and tomorrow here to find good food. If anybody wants some company for dinner or lunch, let me know! Also, the Battle of the Chefs in Penang was good fun. I took a lot of good pictures and will post a slideshow once I get them all on flickr.
  24. When staying in KL, where should we base ourselves? Will only be there a day and half and would just enjoy walking through hawker courts and food stalls for malay, chinese or indian food (though eating some great indian food in penang right now! Also, is anybody attending the 2009 Penang International Food Festival? Will be therewith the wife tomorrow (Friday) if anybody wants to meet up. Sorry for the late notice but I just noticed it myself.
  25. I read this too late. I did go to Chote Chitr and was very good. I think the lady is pretty familiar and gives everybody pretty much the same thing. She is nice though and the food was good, though I could do without the crispy noodles. Out of Bangkok now and heading north. Will probably be back in Bangkok in a few weeks and will try some other places mentioned.
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