Charles Yu's Profile

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Weezies for sale

Another one of those average eateries that seems to fall onto the sideline! Last review was way back in 2009. No interest or mentioning since. Looks like it was popular once but got ignored due to being bested by other new openings?.
May be that's the real 'for sale' reason. Tough to be in the restaurant business in Toronto!

about 2 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

'Giando Italian Restaurant, HK' - Police called after food blogger refused to pay and threatens restaurant by writing them up!

A former chowhounder posted these interesting events!!

about 8 hours ago
Charles Yu in China & Southeast Asia

Latest Opinions on L'Arpege??

No! No! No! PLEASE keep the reservation! IMHO, still one of the top three Michelin 3* in town. You will be amazed with the food!!

If this is your first time, I would opt for their ' Classic with meat & seafood' menu. If you prefer vegetables then the 'Classic all vegetarian' is one of the best vegetarian tasting menu on earth. If you are repeating, then go for the 'Surprise' and see what 'special' Chef Alain Passard has to offer on that day?

about 11 hours ago
Charles Yu in France

This happened in Hong Kong - Food blogger refused to pay claiming he is famous and can cause business to fail!!

Yes! The blogger in question is the arrogant guy in the baseball cap surrounded by the police. He must think he is a clone of the New York Times Critic Ruth Riechel, to have such influence?! Ha!!

"Ocean Seafood Restaurant", Richmond Hill - Lunch vs Dinner = Jekyll vs Hyde

Shouldn't it be 'Toronto' and NOT Aurora?!

Tasty BBQ Seafood Restaurant 味皇港式海鮮燒臘
3555 Don Mills Rd., Unit 11, Toronto, ON M2H 3N3
(416) 756-7773

This happened in Hong Kong - Food blogger refused to pay claiming he is famous and can cause business to fail!!

What a disgrace to our genuine foodie/food blogger community!!

Hong Kong Multiple locales

IMO, This is one of the best reference article on Hong Kong Pastry shops. Not just chocolate, establishments mentioned are great on other types as well. For years, until the emergence of some 'foreign imports', my favorite has always been the Mandarin Oriental Cake Shop.

'Splendido' - 2014 Fall Chef's Tasting Menu featuring UNESCO Heritage French Classic,' Lievre a la Royale'!

Yes, the photos depict the courses in exact order. Tasting menu was $140. ( cf Shoto's $150 ). Opted for the $30 supplement Caviar and White Truffles. Hack! Its birthday and Ebola is coming!

'Splendido' - 2014 Fall Chef's Tasting Menu featuring UNESCO Heritage French Classic,' Lievre a la Royale'!

I opened a bottle of the Latour 3 years ago and IMO thought it was still young!

There's only the two of us. We knew there's going to be a lot of 'Japanese influenced' seafood offerings so we brought along the Weinbach. The Latour was a 'just in case' wine, by chance Weinbach was corked. If weather was fine, we might end up opening it. However, since it was raining bad, we reckoned we'll order the Red 'by the glass' instead. Apparently, according to the experts, best wine pairing for the Hare Royale is 'Champagne'!! May be the fizz to cut into the richness?! Interesting!
Well, as to drinking fine Bordeaux. Christmas is coming!!

Back to the meal, overall, all the seafood dishes were cooked perfectly! Taste and textural interplay was spot on. The meat dishes, however, were both on the salty side. However, I would prefer my dishes to be over salted than under-seasoned. Personal preference.
IMHO, dining out nowadays, especially meals involving multiple courses often faces the danger of 'inconsistency'. Even 3* like EMP slipped up once in a while. So now, I tried to lower my expectation and increase my tolerance level. Otherwise, we'll be disappointed every time!

'Splendido' - 2014 Fall Chef's Tasting Menu featuring UNESCO Heritage French Classic,' Lievre a la Royale'!

Birthday Wines we brought to restaurant:

2002 Domaine Weinbach Gewurtztraminer Ferstatum Grand Cru. Cuvee Laurence
1990 Chateau Latour

Since it was raining and I need to drive home, decided to drink Latour at home at a later date.

'Splendido' - 2014 Fall Chef's Tasting Menu featuring UNESCO Heritage French Classic,' Lievre a la Royale'!

Photos of rest of meal.

'Splendido' - 2014 Fall Chef's Tasting Menu featuring UNESCO Heritage French Classic,' Lievre a la Royale'!

For the past decade or more, my foodie brother-in-law and I have been holding an annual 'Men-Only' joint birthday celebration around this time. Our theme has been to select fine restaurants that feature tasting menu, preferably with wine pairing, as venue. For this one day splurge, driving distance and price were of no object. In the past, we have dined in some excellent but now defunct establishments like Perigee, The Square, Truffles, Senses, Colborne Lane to name a few. Recently, apart from choosing some in-town stalwarts like Scaramouche, George, Canoe, Kaji....etc, we have also traveled afar, to places like Langdon Hall, Peller Estates and Treadwell in search of different culinary experiences.

For this year's celebration, after learning that Chef Victor of Splendido will be making a California trip to meet with Michelin 3* chef Thomas Keller and eat at The French Laundry, we plan to have our low-key birthday party at Splendido. The opportunity to taste some newly inspired dishes from the chef's return plus the fact that his new Fall Tasting Menu will feature the UNESCO Heritage French Classic dish 'Lievre ( Hare ) a la Royale', easily combined to form a no-brainer!

With our bottles of birthday wine in hand and braving thunderstorm and lightning, we arrived early in the hope of chatting with Chef Victor about his recent trip. This, we did, prior to placing our meal order. We settled on the multiple course Chef's tasting menu with both caviar and truffles supplements.

The Tasting Menu comprised of the following dishes:


Flight One
Oysters, Bacon Popcorn, Caviar, Ikura Cornet
Flight Two
Salmon ( tea, O-Toro, Skin ),Ocean Trout, Octopus, Lobster & Uni


Smoked Oyster and Northern Divine Osetra Caviar

Matsutake Mushroom & Bruce Spruce

Potato & Mint

Bolero Carrot & Pumpkin Oil

Scrambled egg & Alba White Truffles
Hamachi Collar & Black Bean Miso

Bread, Foie & Cultured Butter

Hare Royale

Cumbrae 80 days dry age filet Mignon

Milk & Cereal

Pumpkin Pudding

Petite Four

A few remarks and observation about the meal:

1) My last sophisticated tasting menu experience was just a few weeks ago at Seatte's 'Canlis'. This 40/100 'Opinionated about dining' 100 Best US Restaurants candidate, manned by Jason Franey, the former Executive-Sous of EMP, is in the same rank as its other Michelin Multi-stars brethrens such as NYC's Le Bernadin, Marea, Bouley and Daniel. However, the meal I had at Splendido was IMHO, better than the Canlis offering! The Splendido menu was imaginative, creative and 'funky', preparation and execution borderline perfection, plating was exquisite and eye appealing and most of all, food was delicious. Smiling service was professional, attentive and friendly. The meal was definitely worthy of at least a Michelin star or two.

2) I first came across the French Classic dish 'Lievre a la Royale ' at Alain Ducasse 3* Restaurant, Louis XV whilst working in France. With the sweet tender meat smothered in a dark brown sauce made with the Hare's blood, Chocolate, Foie Gros and Truffle, it was indeed a worthy dish that every gourmand should eat once, before meeting his creator! Due to by-law restriction, Chef Victor's preparation has to settle for the more common pig's blood substitution. The end product was still rich and complex, though a touch on the salty side. However, it still brought back fond delightful memory.

3) With such an elaborate multi-course tasting menu involving nearly 20 courses. It would be too time consuming for me to give description for each and every individual dish. However, based on and quoting similar experiences from a foodie friend currently eating her way through Europe, I do like to rant a little bit about modern tasting menu these days.

Basically, I found eating at restaurants offering tasting menus almost like having food coming out from a copy machine: ingredients are all similar: Berkeshire Pork Belly ( sous vide or braised to fork tenderness then seared crisp ). gently poached or smoked oyster, Sweetbread, beetroot (!!!), cauliflower, aubergine for Europe, kale for North America, salsify, celeriac, different colors of carrots and potatoes, heirloom tomatoes and I will give you 3 textures: roasted, puree, and chips. You want more? I have foam, gel, powder, and they can burnt, smoked, fermented. Presentations are also so similar, with only all the food plated on one side in long stripes and slices of food layered diagonally, or covered with oxalis, nasturtium, or micro herbs or leaves. Just to make it look prettier, studded the oysters or food with some colorful edible flowers that add no flavors. There are times where I found myself having almost back to back menus with identical dish ingredients (oyster, cauliflower, sweet bread, duck, lamb, red fruits, beets…..). Now, despite all that there are still better restaurants in this category. Unfortunately, most of these are overseas! Japanese chefs were able to stand out in the crowds because they are able to incorporate Japanese cooking philosophy or ingredients 'correctly'. To me these days the difference is rarely originality (because it rarely happens) but rather execution.

I think Victor Barry of Splendido falls into this category. I wouldn't say the ingredient combination of each dish was too different from the "norm", but the execution for my meal was fantastic, with flavors vibrant and robust enough that it stood out among similar restaurants I have tried recently, here or abroad. We are indeed fortunate to have such a fine establishment in town!

ISO: Sweetango Apples in the GTA

@ Herne
Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Mackintosh. In fact love using them for pies. I was just using them as a 'reference'. No point using something sweet like Red Delicious or Fuji to compare degree of sourness?!

ISO: Sweetango Apples in the GTA

@ Prima. The Sweetango I picked and ate was nice and red all around!! The sticker on it definitely says 'Sweetango'! May be it's just my bad luck?!
Hard to say, 'cos even the self proclaimed 'sweetest plum on earth' - The California Black Velvet Apricots from Costco have slightly sour ones , once in a while?!

@ Herne. Doubt anyone on Earth has a 100% approval rating?! If a factual comment on a sour apple drove away some of my readers, then so be it! :(

ISO: Sweetango Apples in the GTA

I bought a couple from Hwy# 7 Longo's, at a $2.00/lb premium over other varietals, to try.
They have an interesting 'more hollow' crispy characteristics than others. However. 'SWEET'ango?!! Hell! Mine were soooo sour!! Even worse than Mackintosh!

Won't be returning to Per Se

Another good reason for not returning - their revised outrages $150 per bottle corkage!

Oct 14, 2014
Charles Yu in Manhattan

Adrak Indian Restaurant on Hwy 7

Thanks for the 'warning', ManAbout!
My go to Indian places in the area are still Bombay Bheel or Chauhan's on Woodbine and Denison. I've also been to 'Ambiyan' on Main Street, Unionville once. Food was above average acceptable. Was meaning to pay it a re-visit but a touch far for me.

Difference between Chowhound and Yelp?!

Guess why I never signed up for Yelp!

Oct 13, 2014
Charles Yu in Food Media & News

Hong Kong Multiple locales

With over 12.000 eateries in Hong Kong and at least half of them serving as authentic a Chinese fare as possible. It would almost be an impossibility for us to narrow down the choices to just one or two for you! Try picking only one or two 'French Restaurant' in Paris or 'Spanish Tapas' in Barcelona for someone and you'll know what I mean?
Hong Kong's forte is Dim Sum, the best Cantonese version in the world. As such, one would expect high standard almost every where. To pick just one is tougher than choosing Miss Universe! With so little time, I would just settle for one or two reputable ones from say, Lung King Heen, Ming Court, Above & Beyond, Fook Lam Moon, Forum, Yan Toh Heen, Hong Hong Cuisine or Tim Ho Won and cross Dim Sum off your list. If your goal is for the 'experience' rather than food, then for real nostalgic, traditional, old school feel, head to Luk Yue or Lin Heung in Central. They still retain the 1950's character!
Just like one cannot possibly expect to experience the best sushi in Tokyo in just a couple of meals. Don't raise your expectation and bar too high and you will have an enjoyable time.
Hong Kong is a Cantonese dominated place. For non-Cantonese food, it has to depend largely on 'out of province' cooks and experts to settle in town in order to provide authentic fare from their individual provinces. Sichuan food is a fine example! Currently, Chilli Fagara and Da Ping Huo are two local and chowhounder's favorites.
For over a decade, I travel and live in Hong Kong for a month or so every year. One of my project in the past was to try to identify the best 'Won-Ton Noodles' in town. To that end, I must have eaten in over a few dozen different places. As to 'the best'? So far, after all these time, I only manage to narrow down the list to a handful of candidates. And that's about it. Imagine doing that to Dim Sum?!
Irrespective, I'm sure no matter which chowhounders' 'Chinese' picks you end up with, end result will be better than anything you have in the continental USA ( assuming that's where you are from?! )
Good Luck!!

Where is the best Korean BBQ restaurant?

Heard 'Ha Roo' at Yonge/Cummer, with its award winning Korean chef of 35 yrs experience, to be one of the best in town?! Can anyone confirm whether food is indeed good enough for me to make a special trip down?

Hong Kong Multiple locales

At least now, they know they have to cater for Chinese palette. Preparation should be more authentic.

As to 'tourist trap'. Does this not apply to almost all 'seafood' places like Sai Kung, Lei Yue Mun....etc. If not alert, even locals can get rip-off!

Hong Kong Multiple locales

"What are your five hong kong favorites?"
Please expand and elaborate!

?? Comfort food? Fine dining? Hole in the wall? Lunch ( Dim Sum Cantonese or Dim Sum Shanghainese, dinner ( with view or without?).....

Also, which categories? Cantonese, Shanghainese, Sichuan, Pekingnese, Chiu Chow...??

As for seafood: All fine and chowhound worthy restaurants have elaborate 'seafood' section on their menu. Quite a lot of establishments offer 'spectacular' creations eg., 'Red Coral Crab steamed with Glutinous Rice' of Above & Beyond. 'Fried wild sea prawns with spiced peppered salt' of Fung Lum. 'Sauteed Filet of Red Garoupa with shrimp eggs and wild mushroom medley' of Ming Court. 'Poached filet of Turbot or Sole with Chinese rice wine and wood fungus' of the Shanghainese Liu Yuen Pavillion.....etc. Steamed whole fish is so common, almost all Chinese restaurants offer them in one form or another!

For an ALL seafood feast, one can always venture further afield to 'seaside' districts/locations like Sai Kung, Lai Yee Mun, Lau Fau Shan or HK Gold Coast. These are places where the 'locals' go, not just tourists! One can shop for one's seafood at retail fish/seafood stands and then take them to restaurants for preparation. To play safe, one can always head over to Aberdeen on Hong Kong side and visit the Jumbo Floating Restauarnts. Used to be a tourist trap, however, quality of food has improves a lot during the past few years due to social media and food blogging

"Ocean Seafood Restaurant", Richmond Hill - Lunch vs Dinner = Jekyll vs Hyde

Dinner wasn't that expensive either!! Those 4 dishes plus tax and tips came to a surprising $40 only!! Really great value for money!

"Ocean Seafood Restaurant", Richmond Hill - Lunch vs Dinner = Jekyll vs Hyde

Grade B vs Grade A ingredients for lunch as well?

"Ocean Seafood Restaurant", Richmond Hill - Lunch vs Dinner = Jekyll vs Hyde

Occupying the corner location of a busy strip plaza where Saigon Star is located, this Richmond Hill eatery offers a potpourri of Chinese fare ranging from Hong Kong style breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks, traditional Cantonese and Hong Kong style comfort food, Wok-Hay stirred fry and even Giant Lobsters and King Crabs done muliple ways....etc. With the name resembling a famous Hong Kong Seafood restaurant chain, I was hoping this place might become a potential future go-to place. Attracted by the name, Ex-chowhounder skylineR33 and I visited the place when it first opened over a year ago. Unfortunately, our luncheon experience was so mediocre and bad, none of us has returned since.

Yesterday evening, tagging along with my wife and her friends. I was surprised to find that they picked this place for our dining venue. My wife's friend actually commented that the food was very good and by Richmond Hill standard, excellent value for money. I was very skeptical in hearing that and deep inside, mutter to myself 'We'll see!!'.

Our party shared the following dishes:
- Complimentary Soup of the Day ( Banana flower, carrots and pork )
- Wok-fried Veal side ribs with onion in a Teriyaki style sauce
- Stirred fry free range chicken with Chinese preserved meat and sausages
- Stirred fry Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) with Shitake mushrooms and Sun Dried Tiled Fish.
- Spicy Ma-Po Tofu

To my utter surprise and amazement, the food was nicely prepared and served piping hot, the taste delicious and the portion extremely generous. A number of dishes like the veal ribs and stirred fry Gai-Lan were of such high standard and full of smoky wok-hay aroma, they can even rub shoulder with the former famed Fantasy Eatery version!

I was about to give my blessing to this place by posting a positive review, when, this lunch time, my wife and her friend revisited the place again. The result?! TOTAL DISASTER!! The stirred fry Singapore Vermicelli they ordered was soggy wet and totally lacking in Wok Hay. Beef used for the black bean sauce stirred fry crispy noodle tasted stale and un-fresh. The beef brisket noodle in soup was bland and one-dimennsional! Could this be the same restaurant we went to? my wife commented!

Once again, inconsistency has become a culprit and potential demise for another Chinese restaurant. This time, such a rarity, since the time span of receiving a huge thumbs up to a huge thumbs down happened all within the space of only a few short hours!!

Zen moving to J Town?


Day 5 (last day) in HK, Tsim Chai Kee, Mak An Kee, Man Wah, Motorino

Tsim Chai Kee's version of won-ton noodles is so gimmicky! Destroying a century long Cantonese tradition of providing ' dainty, light as cloud, single bite' morsels plus fine silky strands of noodles ( resembling the hair of a Chinese sonnet lady character ) presented in a small bowl. This delicacy was usually treated as a snack and served with three morsels. TCK's using scallions instead of yellowing chives is a cost costing approach which is a NO-No in my book!
By mutating the size of the bowl size and won ton size into uncharacteristic gigantic portion to satisfy some sector of the public who seeks 'quantity and value for money' over quality is a sad thing IMO. Even more so, this trend has caught on in North America. Not just won-ton but other form of Dim Sum as well Golf ball size Har Gow and Baseball size Steamed Beef Meatballs!
If people start converting Nigiri sushi size into the size of a hot dog to provide value, I wonder what real food aficionados will say? Old masters will even rise from their graves!!

Corkage and Chef's Table / Tasting Menu

OP inquire about 'Tasting Menu'. I don't think Luckee offers that?!

Corkage and Chef's Table / Tasting Menu

Auberge du Pommier, George or Scaramouche. All offer tasting menu and fine wine service.

Day 3 in HK, Luk Yu Tea House and Shun Kee Typhoon Shelter

Salivating looking at the photos!! Thanks for posting!!