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Tipping/Gratuities in Spain - What's the proper amount?

Dear fellow hounds,
Coming from a dining background in the US, tipping usually comes mandatory and probably in somewhat significant amount. So, what's the proper tipping percentage, procedure/manner, for Spanish restaurants, in both casual and fine dining setting?
If the city matters, I will be going to: Valencia, Madrid, and Barcelona.
Thanks in advance for your advice.

Sep 20, 2009
trymonlam in Spain/Portugal

Peking Duck for solo diner in Beijing

I don't know. The last time I had duck there, it was fantastic. I do agree that sometimes the kitchen may not be completely consistent, but overall they do quite well. This impression could have to do with the fact the staff there know me quite well.

any hounds in Guangzhou?

are there Any of our members currently stationed in Guangzhou? would be great if we can gather and do a tour of everyone's favorite spots.

Question about food in a bag

don't ever blow your money on any of these meat in a bag things. they taste almost always chemically preserved and stale. It's a tourist trap for Chinese nationals and foreigners alike. for the money you are paying you can get something much better. just look elsewhere if you are hungry.

Peking Duck for solo diner in Beijing

As far as Duck restaurant goes, Da Dong is actually decent. as others have said, if you call ahead, you can probably get half a duck.
another recommendation would be Tiandi Yijia. The place is right outside the walls of forbidden city, east side of the tiananmen. The places serves some fantastic food on a fine dining level. considering the environment and quality of production, I will be heart pressed to see anyone find a better place to eat.

Hound from Hong Kong visiting Spain. Recs needed for a man willing to eat anything that moves

Thank you, guys, for your recommendations. bodd sausage and lamb kidneys sounds fantastic. I will definitely get some. I've already made plans for la boqueria. so i will get the fried squid as well. as far as fine dining goes, any must trys?

Sep 18, 2009
trymonlam in Spain/Portugal

Hound from Hong Kong visiting Spain. Recs needed for a man willing to eat anything that moves

Hello guys,
A few friends and I will be in Spain in about 2 weeks time. The time spread for different cities will be as follows:
Valencia - 1 day - looking for recs for Tapas, street food and simple fare
Madrid - 2 days - looking for 1 place for fine dining, and multiple places for local fares
Barcelona - 5 days - friends live here, hence the longer stay. looking for 1 place(or 2) for fine dining, and all the local food I can possibly stomach.
All suggestions and reccommendations are welcome. I am a very adventurous eater and will eat practically anything that moves. sooo... don't be shy, Please. Please do not limit your advice on food only either, if you think there's something cool to be done in any of the above cities, I will be very happy to see what you have to say.
Thanks for the help in advance.

Sep 16, 2009
trymonlam in Spain/Portugal

Recs for Sydney's fine dining stops for CH from Hong Kong and Boston?

A fellow diner and i will be coming to sydney and canberra for a few days in late jan early feb. Any recs for restaurant stops? Both fine dining and cheap street food stands are welcome. Thanks guys.

Traveling Pig Roaster?

Head to Chinatown, and start sampling roasted pig from Chinese barbecue places up and down the street. pick the one u like the most, then order a whole pig from them. they take orders 1 day in advance for a whole roast. Personally, I like the barbecue place next to Hei La Moon restaurant, underneath the 2nd floor garage building. I don't know if they speak English though.

Jul 17, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Source for Chile de Arbol Powder and Cumin Seeds

exactly. just drop by your local Asian/Chinese market. Plentiful and cheap.

Jul 17, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Where can I find fresh cow diaphragm?

just to clear this, the reason that i used the word cow diaphragm in my original question is that, When I was told about this part of meat, the conversation was carried out in a language other than english. so a direct translation of the subject of the matter became: cow diaphragm.
So it's Skirt steak and then some. alright. Thanks, guys.

Jun 30, 2008
trymonlam in General Topics

Where can I find fresh cow diaphragm?

A friend told me about the crazy good taste of cow diaphragm. I suppose that would be a very difficult offal cut to find. anyone got any idea where i can find it? ordering online maybe? I live in MA, spent my weekend in southern CT and NYC. any place in these places might have it?

Jun 26, 2008
trymonlam in General Topics

3-4 days in Savannah and Charleston, Recomendations?

Me and my "eating brigade" had decided to fly to savannah and charleston for 3 days this weekend. So far we've come up short of destinations to eat. so... any recommendations? cheap eats, fine dining, street food, anything will do. since our only agenda is sample local flavors, all suggestions are welcome.

Essential Kitchen for a College Grad?

9 years ago i left home to study abroad here in the States. from then a boy who knew nothing about cooking and now capable of producing food that people would pay decent money for, i understand the anticipation to be able to crank out quality food.
to start to cook at home, what u need is really minimal:
this is my 2 cents:
-1 chef knife, 8 or 10 inch
-1 paring knife
-1 steel.
-1 utility knife / santoku, 6 - 8 inch (optional)
-1 serrated bread knife (optional)
- don't bother spending a lot on these. u can get good ones after you have learned how to use/care for knives. just go to your local kitchen supply place for dexter russels or check out your local marshalls.

-1 set of plates, bowls, silverware, etc
-1 8-10 quart stock pot
- a few sauce pans and fry pans
- linen n things used to have great deals for small sets. check out dealsites like

spatula, tong, and wooden spoons.
a steel bowl or two, 1-2 sheet pans
a peeler
- get it at your local kitchen supply store.

a decent amount of tupperware. u can use it for prep or for food storage.

u can pick up more stuff along the way when the need arises. do try to resist the urge of picking up unnecessary items though, or u will end up with the money gone in exchange for a roomful of junk in no time.

best of luck.

Apr 22, 2008
trymonlam in Cookware

Asian desserts...why don't I like them?

i grew up in guangzhou and hong kong. egg tart could have been a Portuguese thing in the start, but it seemed like a hong kong thing over the years. when we say "egg tart", we refer to the hong kong style that u can typically get in dim sum places here in the states. the richer ones with carmelization burn on top is called "portuguese style eggtart" or "macau style".

Apr 10, 2008
trymonlam in General Topics

Asian desserts...why don't I like them?

all of these are excellent examples of chinese deserts. though the egg tart is debatable because of it's hong kong origins with british occupancies. way to represent.

Apr 09, 2008
trymonlam in General Topics

Wow, I hate this rice

just cook it on stove in a regular pot and try to figure out the ratio. u got 10kgs anyway. give it a try. usually thai rice use more water than japanese rice. but then again, i am chinese and we like our rice slighty sticky and pillowy rather than american way like uncle ben's. my bag of thai rice takes a ratio between 1:1.75 - 1:2
good luck.

Apr 08, 2008
trymonlam in Home Cooking

Asian desserts...why don't I like them?

There are many styles of chinese cooking. afterall the country is huge and fast cooking method only applies to a handful of cooking techniques used. long cooking time is actually very prevalent in chinese food though not very often seen outside china.(think any kind of "old-fire" soup, abalone, offal or tough cuts of meat) Jennifer Lee probably refers to mostly cantonese cooking, which counts for about 1/8 of all major cooking styles in china. and even in cantonese cooking, food with long cooking time is equally common as high heat saute. ovens are indeed less used in common homes. historically they can be found in rich people's house or food establishments. all cantonese barbeque comes out of a oven. and dishes like this had been around for quite some time.
as far as the use of milk goes, in chinese culture, this is one food group that's almost non-existant(read McGee's On food and Cooking) because of the chinese agriculture. desert though, can be found in all cooking styles of china. however, most of the chinese deserts we see today is what is commonly refer to as peasant's desert back in the day. the rich households often host extravagant parties and deserts can be as beautifully done as savory dishes themselves.(read about desert recipes in Tiao Ding Lu, a collection of recipes by private cooks of the riches in the tsing and ming dynasties) the common man usually do not have luxury to play with sugar, and the idea of desert usually comes as a item for celebrations. with the communist party rule, most of these private cooks catering to the riches were considered wasteful and fascist and therefore either killed or sent through hard labor. the rich people were considered "enemies of the labor class", and usually killed. with the demand and supply gone. what's left of the chinese desert is what we see today. mostly somewhat crude construction of common ingridients, with little of the "extravagance" remain.

Apr 08, 2008
trymonlam in General Topics

Nervous Newcomer to Beijing

as far as original beijing food goes, there's very little there to entice a foreign palate. they are usually either crude or boring. the infamous "soy-juice" both tastes and smells like week-old vomit. most chinese man (including me) wouldn't dare comsuming it. stay away or u will regret it.
however, beijing being the capital of the country, all sorts of goodies are available from all over china. do go with your buddies to a skewers restaurant. they are all over the city and they serve various cuts of meat and offal roasted on coal. they go great with beer.i recommend pork kidney and flat tendon. if done currectly they are a true pleasure.
as far as english ordering goes, most of the common people spots have no english menu. so do rely on your local friends when it comes to this.

Sunday Dim Sum in Chinatown?

Hei La Moon. it's across the street from the chinatown gate. huge dinning room (2 floors), and good quality. just walk toward south station from the chinatown gate, it's the first restaurant on your left once u cross the street.

Apr 03, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Where do you go for quick lunches around downtown crossing?(assuming you work in the neighborhood)

hello guys,
i work in downtown crossing and i am looking for new lunch spots. been tired of the chain establishments around here. any recommendations from hounds working in my area?

a few places i used to eat at:
d'angelo's on franklin st (new chiken salad sandwich actually pretty good)
i track to chinatown for lunch every other day.

thanks for all suggestions/replies.

Mar 24, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Need advice on a snack walk around waterfront

hmm... the plan is as such: car in, park in chinatown, take T to SDLT, have lunch, then walk around for snacks and hang out until dinner time appointment in chinatown again.

Mar 19, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Need advice on a snack walk around waterfront

coming into town with my girlfriend for lunch at sel de la terre. wanted to explore around the area with plenty of fun snacks on the way. the thing is i only work in boston and live in worcester, i don't know the city that well. any suggestions? thanks to all.

Mar 18, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Porsche knives - any user reviews?

haven't used them. just googled it. it looks wicked.

Mar 18, 2008
trymonlam in Cookware

Balut in Boston?

1000 year old eggs can be gotten at any chinese grocery place, along with the pig parts and beef tendon.
duck webs and goose intestine can be found in chinese barbeque places, such as hong kong eatery in chinatown.

Mar 14, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Anywhere I can get fresh local oysters by the sack?

hmm... that is a very good point. i doubt that guy's ever done this before. sooo... is my best bet at P&J's to have them shucked? would there be any problem with doing this? how about tipping for the shucking work?

Mar 03, 2008
trymonlam in New Orleans

Anywhere I can get fresh local oysters by the sack?

some friends and I are coming to New Orleans next month. one of them is bringing his own oyster knife and we all wanted to get some local oysters in bulk form. Yes, I know restaurants probably do serve these but we do want to get them fresh provided that we are willing to do the work. anyone know a good source(shop, perveyor, fisherman, anything) to get some?
Thank you very very much.

Feb 28, 2008
trymonlam in New Orleans

Anyone with experience using a Dickie's Knife Bag?

in need of a knife bag to take my utensils and knives on the road with me. the dickies knife bag looks like it's got a logical design. anyone used these in the past? any good? any other bags that may be good? i need somthing with 12 pockets or so, preferrably with small hanging pockets inside that i can bring small utensils and a waterstone with me.


Feb 25, 2008
trymonlam in Cookware

good place to pick up some chopped liver?

been craving some good chopped liver with schmaltz like they do down at Barney Greengrass of NYC. any place around boston sells theses? thanks.

Feb 25, 2008
trymonlam in Greater Boston Area

Sharpening a santoku

I think the best solution here is to pick up a duo sided waterstone for sharpening. they can be fairly cheap($20~) and they yield fantastic results. santoku being the way they are, it's one of the easiest knives to sharpen on your own with a stone. chances are, you will have to learn to sharpen your knives on stone someday. why not now when what you have is fairly inexpensive and easy to work on?

Feb 12, 2008
trymonlam in Cookware