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Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!

Holy cow, what a deal! Saves the $ for Beach House (Red Salt isn't exactly cheap either but you can definitely tell there is a chef putting good care into the menu, even if the menu never changes).

Apr 08, 2015
pats38sox in Hawaii

Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!

Unfortunately just got back 2 days ago! The dreaded "re-entry"...but had a wonderful trip. I have been to Hukilau Lanai but that was probably 8 years ago? I remember it as quite good and that they had corned beef & cabbage on St. Patrick's Day.

New places this year were Mark's Place and La Spezia. Loved MP (get some spam musubi with the plate lunch!) except the ahi special was cooked medium, so a little dry. La Spezia is fun but missed on a few dishes and the no reservations policy is a major bummer (that's a Mainland trend I hope Kauai doesn't pick up). Strangely they literally had no fish dishes period (but they do have clams!). It's a notch above the typical Italian spot, good for wine, but for many diners will not be memorable.

Loved the new Jo2...almost everything was a hit and it's a much smoother, intimate experience than Josselin's Kukuiula (get the grilled leeks and the butterfish!). Eating House 1849 had mostly great dishes, especially anything like the ahi and baby back ribs that Roy brought over from the old spot. Frankly, I'm mixed in how they're trying to be everything for everyone (ramen, burger, reuben, Portuguese?). They've got to figure out a real personality and go for it. That being said, very good food and everyone was having a good time.

Beach House...I still just don't know what to say. You have to go but it is also the most overpriced restaurant in the United States for the quality of the food (which is good but entrees deserve to be in the low $20s, not mid $40s). I know the view is amazing and it will always be. But they've got to improve the food. They've got to. And the wine list is literally the worst I've ever seen when it comes to mark ups and big, boring producers. It is what it is.

Speaking of Beach House & Eating House, both had cooked versions of poke for can this be? I insist poke must be raw (and both would've been better raw).

Puka Dog still is not loved by me but loved by my family. We all adore the Taro Ko chips and the "Ultimate Mai Tai" that is now off-menu only at Honu Bar at the Waiohai. Enjoyed lunch at The Feral Pig ( the special pork belly-beef burger just tastes of the bacon on top). Great dinner at Red Salt, especially the hard to find perfectly cooked ono and those massive chocolate cookies with the root beer float you can order a la carte.

And on the Mai Tai hunt, found a pretty good version at Oasis at Waipouli near Kapa'a. Kukuiula's version at the club's bar is also far better than average (we had a friend invite us!). But still...why can't bars get better ice! Mai tais are on a clock before being watered down.

Finally, a shout out to Cortado, a new coffee hut by Outfitters Kauai in Poipu. The cortado is indeed great especially when enjoyed there in a ceramic cup. Fun place and baristas who know what they're doing. Beans from Kauai Roastery.

Ugh, now I only have about 360 days left until the next flight to Lihue...

Apr 07, 2015
pats38sox in Hawaii

Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!

Aloha again, everyone! Time flies...Back to Kauai next weekend for the usual 9 days. I've heard about Roy's out and Eating House 1849 in. And the new JO2.

Most likely 6 dinners out (staying in Poipu)

Musts-- Beach House (it's a ritual and seems to be slightly on the upswing after years of falling downhill), Eating House, JO2

Others-- maybe La Spezia, Red Salt (went there 2 years ago and it was ok). Brennecke's just for fun (never had a good meal there but never not had a good time...)?

I enjoyed Kauai Ono but don't have a need to go back this year. Plantation Gardens and Merriman's have been put on out banned list after recurring poor showings (especially the latter when factoring in price).

I've never been to Mark's Place either...anything I'm missing? Pardon the long thread but it's kind of a cool piece of history, isn't it?!

Mar 21, 2015
pats38sox in Hawaii

Mendocino area report

Just got back from first trip to Mendocino as a longtime Bay Area native (!) and have to report that many prior reports are very true. When comparing to Sonoma/Napa to Mendocino...well it's disappointing.

Absolutely in agreement on Circa '62 for breakfast. Holy cow! I don't normally eat breakfast but I would every day at that place. Highlight was the eggs benedict with sweet corn cakes and avocado hollandaise.

Unfortunately, less of a fan of MacCallum House, 955 Ukiah, and Trillium Cafe. For Trillium, terribly small portions. I never complain about that but it was too noticeable...

Both MacCallum and 955 seem stuck in the time warp many report on Cafe Beaujolais. They're very 1985-- rustic California before Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, et al did their thing to liven things up. The food is "gourmet" but not "interesting" if you will. Case in point, take 2 entrees. Duck at MacCallum is nicely medium rare but not tender, then served with a routine Syrah reduction, fine and not spectacular spaetzle. Then on the other side of a plate is a totally unrelated, harmless bed of arugula with grilled peach, prosciutto and a huge wedge of Humboldt Fog, for $37. At 955, moist chicken thighs are fine but drizzled with ho-hum soy mustard sauce that was fusion before fusion was a cuisine and about a pound of matchstick cut carrots. This is why people nationwide grew tired of expensive large plates and want 3 vibrant small plates for the same price. Service at 955 is particularly sluggish but Macallum wasn't far beyond but at least the room has much charm.

Not complaining...just could be better, especially for such a beautiful location with lots of tourists. Wish I tried Wild Fish. Was staying in town and wanted to walk to dinners ;)

Great pastries at Good Life, MacCallum has some excellent wines to enjoy. And can't skip tasting the brews at North Coast...not all are perfect but the great ones like Old Rasputin compete with CA's best.

And 2 thumbs up to Stone & Embers and Table 128 (wish both could be in Mendocino too)...and Boonville General Store for lunch.

Sep 03, 2014
pats38sox in California

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Now the last part of the trip-- to Singapore from HK. Before landing at Changi, I must say the food & service lived up to the hype even in economy for Singapore Airlines. You get a choice of an "American" or "Asian" meal. I chose the latter and very much enjoyed a terrific vegetarian rice plate with sweet soy milk to drink (hey, this was good by airplane standards, so let's keep things in perspective).

Singapore Airlines offers free Singapore Slings...I didn't sample it but somebody needs to do a taste-off between that and quickly sprint to Raffles for comparison. I bet the Airlines win.

After an airplane lunch, it was off to Restaurant André for dinner.

I'd put André right smack dab in the middle of the classical to modernist spectrum, central between say, The French Laundry and Paul Bocuse on the right and Alinea/Noma on the left.

Many, many very special dishes. Very personal restaurant and you can tell Chef André cares a great deal about each diners' experience (none of this it's all about global press, World's Top 50, being a celebrity chef stuff). No, he's in the present.

This clearly is a team that knows how to work with each other. After all, there's only 4-5 servers period doing everything, including wine service. It's really more a theatre troupe than a typical wait staff. These are pros who are absolutely in sync with each other.

On the subject of wine-- definitely try the pairings. The opening Champagne was hands down the best I've ever had, a Brut Blanc de Blancs from Michel Turgy. Ken Hasegawa's wine "book" (it's literally within a novel) presents on biodynamic wines from small producers and growers in France. Very few Bordeaux and Burgundy. Big time creativity and flavor with even some very good values to be found.

I'm not the biggest fan of the all cream white parlor look but it is charming to me (some would find it a bit stuffy I bet). The black sheep guarding each table help add levity, as does the enormous human sculpture outside.

Ok, I'll just recite the night's menu, then highlight my top, top favorites.

Snacks: Green Chicken Curry; Scallop/vitelotte/chard chips; Pineapple olive martini; patatas bravas; fish and chips; onion/onion/onion

Pure: Stone crab raviolis/ pear snow/ leek water
Salt: Gillardeau oyster/ sea corals/ granny smith apple mousse/ seawater emulsion
Artisan: Braised aubergine/ needlefish/ sea urchin/ caviar
South: Homard bleu/ orange yellow rutabaga marmalade
Texture: charcoaled squid/ fennel/ smoked piquillo dip
Unique: Grilled topinambour (Jerusalem artichoke)/ black truffle dirt/ wild mushroom/ malt vinegar ice cram
Memory: the classic Warm foie gras jelly/ Perigord truffle coulis
Terroir: Tri Tip/ black garlic tapenade/ mixed heirloom beets & berries

Musk melon/ Muscat Grape

Camambert with hay ice cream


Kaya toast/ popcorn/ raspberry sangria chupa chip/ French earl gray crustalline/ chestnut madeleine/ churros/ nutella/ pain d'epices

Highlights: green chicken curry bite on chicken skin, "Pure" (beautiful flavors, clear with no seasoning), "Artisan" (come on, perfect aubergine, uni, and caviar...), "Terroir" (perfect steak, I mean as good as I've had anywhere, anytime), "Camambert" (brilliant how André re-engineers the cheese and adds the hay ice cream), kaya toast macaron (is there a better Singapore-French hybrid than this?), and Churros with nutella (this is cheating, how can this not be good?).

Only decent: Very few but I wasn't moved by pineapple olive martini (nothing stuck out to me), patatas bravas, and the chestnut madeleine (a perfectly fine madeleine, no chestnut detected). The "unique" was enjoyable to me but others might be turned off from so much mushroom-truffle going on. Not me.

Other quibble-- too many dishes with "soil." I counted three. I think one is enough and I'm sure André is aware of this and will make a change. Soil is fun briefly. But not with bites, "unique," and "Snickers."

At the end of the day, André is a beautiful experience, very unique, and one I will cherish as long as I eat.

Nightcap-- at long last, the 27 Singapore Dollars Singapore Sling at Raffles' Long Bar. Worth it? Once. Way too much grenadine and pineapple juice, not enough cherry heering. And is it me or is the long bar not actually that long like at the Waldorf in Shanghai?

Ok, to the 2 full days.

Day 1: met my friend for a lunch of tastes around Old Airport Road. He and his friends just kept bringing foods to the table and quickly explaining what they were. I could never remember everything. 2 types of oyster omelettes (best was Xing Li Cooked Food). A pork noodle soup. A shrimp and pork soup with just broth. "dark" carrot cake (love it). A dish of like 6 pig offal parts, cabbage, and hard boiled egg. A bland flat, thick noodle brown broth soup. Tan Beng Otah Delights' fish curry mousse in banana leaf. Kah Ping Ri Ye Xiang's excellent rojak was a joy. Lao Bay soya beancurd (tried cold and warm, both are great).

Then best espresso of Singapore at Assembly by the botanical gardens.

I realized Tian Tian wouldn't be open my only other da (Monday) so I tried for an early dinner there at Maxwell Center. Well, I got there at 7 and despite saying it closes at 8, it was closed. I wasn't the only one bummed there. Alas, we all went next door to Ah Tai. IMO, it's excellent. Not a salty broth. Beautifully moist, slightly cold chicken with fragrant gravy. A winner. Maybe the rice could be a bit fluffier and have a bit more perk to it.

Then a little bar crawl of the Million Dollar Cocktail at Raffles Long Bar-- good, not great, way better than the Sling. Apparently they have a craft cocktail program upstairs now on the 3rd floor someone should try. Then to Waku Ghin's bar in Marina Bay Sands (excellent Jamaica Martini of darm and rum and PX sherry, shows how great ingredients can bet together, very smooth), and Lantern on Fullerton Bay Hotel's rooftop. What a view. What a scene.

Last day: started with kopi and orange ciabatta kaya toast at Good Morning Nanyang Cafe. Great rec!!!

Espresso at Nylon Roasters- terrific. Then taxi and lunch at 328 Katong Laksa at 216 East Coast Rd. Again, excellent. My first laksa...a high standard. Very friendly server/ cook.

Excellent espresso at Toby's Estate (ok, tied for best with Academy) and my first "Piccolo" nearby at Common Man Roasters. Is it me or do Singapore cafés all expect you to eat? It's always strange with table service and just getting a tiny drink.

Met friends for a big Chinatown Food Center dinner...highlight was hands down the fish intestines with gourd and the fish head in spicy sauce from An Ji. Also the decent beer selections from Good Beer Co., I had the chance to try Jungle's Siloso Beach steam lager.

Some mediocre chicken wings and cockles from 188 BBQ. A fish tartare plate. I didn't get pictures of much else but there were a few noodle soups amongst others.

I thought about a second dinner at Burnt Ends for kicks but instead got snacks with a drink at Tippling Club. The "Transatlanticism" was the best cocktail of the trip and definitely get the "chocolate-orange" dessert. A masterpiece. Very fun and talented bartenders. One day I'll do the full tasting experience in the dining room.

Great cocktails also at 28 Hong Kong St and Cufflink Club, and a Tiger beer at on the waterfront because I had to try it to say that I've tried it. I prefer the Sling...(hey, I had to leave at 3 am for my flight back home from Changi, so I chose to stay awake!).

By the way for future reference, the Cufflink Club and Tippling Club bartenders made a list of under the radar cocktail bars to try one day: Manor Bar, The Study, Manhattan Bar at Regents Hotel, Spiffy Dapper on Boat Quay, and Ah Sam.

What a wonderful trip start to finish from Beijing to Singapore. Thank you again every so much for your help. I hope my journeys help others find excellent food and drink. Not that this is a surprise but Singapore is a gem when it comes to eating. Now I need to find laksa and Hainan chicken rice in SF.

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Ok, here we go! My belated Hong Kong and Singapore report from late May 2014, picking up after a week and a half in Beijing and Shanghai. Everything went well for the most part...can't control all the rain in HK (why is the pavement like black ice in HK? Made for a nasty spill running in Kowloon Park...)

Day 1: arrived from Shanghai in the afternoon. Great cocktail experience at Wyndham the 4th. The one knock is my drink came on too large a rock in too small a glass (I'm all for the oversized rocks you see everywhere these days...but this one literally blocked most access to the drink. It was a battle with the rock for a half hour).

Then per Chowhound suggestion, solo dinner at Man Wah with their pre-arranged tasting menu. Overall: so-so. There were some real highs and no lows except skip-able dessert. It was just a very lethargic feeling the whole time there. Not a "destination." Terrific braised beef cheek and also the stir fried prawns.

Finished next door with a great view and an overly sweet cocktail when it wasn't supposed to be at MO Bar.

One note-- I did try about 4 days in advance to arrange lunch at Lung Keen Heen. Well, they were booked for about a month out, even for a solo diner. I should've followed Charles' advice and gone to Ming's Court.

Day 2-- excellent lunch at the original Tim Ho Wan. As a party of wait! Yes, you share a table, but who cares? Tim Ho Wan lived up to the hype. Certainly one of the best $15 USD meals I remember. Best dish? of course the pork buns. The pigs liver vermicelli roll, the glutinous rice dumpling, and shrimp dumplings all close seconds. Skip the steamed egg cake--- just tastes like neutral fluffy vanilla cake.

Then a big coffee crawl. Started at Alchemy in Quarry Bay for good, not great espresso. Excellent flat white next at the first 18 Grams in Causeway Bay. Finally, very much enjoyed the Coffee Academics. Good espresso at those last 2 for sure.

Lots of sightseeing before the evening stage. Definitely grab a beer at the Globe in Central. Yardbird was a great choice for dinner. Like Tim Ho Wan, the hype didn't drag it down. The Korean fried cauliflower, maitake mushrooms, tsukune, chicken neck, and chicken tail were stand-outs. Pair with sake, not cocktails.

Finished with drinks at Lily (you want the aged Sazerac), Butler (excellent Japanese style cocktails in Kowloon, a worthwhile splurge with $30 HKD cover), and a nightcap at Ned Kelly's Last Stand because a close friend at home frequented there when he lived in HK in the 70's.

Day 3: Pouring rain. Bad injury from running but we move on to lunch at Mak An Kee for won ton soup. Verdict: Great experience and choice but...the soup itself just isn't a real flavor heavy hitter. Maybe I expected more to the broth? Very friendly place, great rec none the less. Won tons just didn't move me nor did the soup...too plain.

Then great espresso tasting at The Cupping Room. Terrific baristas and experience.

Brings up the point-- with espresso routinely over $3 USD, is espresso just really expensive overall in HK?

Then a rapid trip to Macau. As in arrive in Macau by ferry at 4:15 pm, return at 5:45 pm. Yes, 90 mins. That means no eating. When I asked about a nearby Lord Stow's, the tourist desk thought I was crazy. At least I saw the MGM and Wynn to return me to when I lived in Vegas (I'm not a gambler!). But neither had any pasteis de nata despite many French pastries on display.

Dinner: arranged tasting at The Chairman...was on par with Man Wah. Meh, ok. Loved certain dishes like pickled cherry tomatoes, razor clams, and superb fried crab and mushroom dumplings. But I was rarely bowled over. And bland porridge for dessert...Plus, really, they have one wine by the glass and it's a sweet Riesling? I understand that but a restaurant of that caliber should have more...

Finished with drinks at Quinary, Barsmith (recommended by owner of Butler whose wife runs Barsmith, great pick), and Honi Honi. All are highly recommended. Get the Zombie at Honi Honi and prepare for a wait.

Left the next morning for Singapore. Sadly because of the early Hong Kong subway closing time, taxis to Kowloon made the return late and I chose a little sleep over breakfast before the flight at Mui Kee Congee. :( Will report on Singapore tomorrow.

Overall, missed out on congee (outside of the un-impressive one at the Chairman). Great cocktails and coffee. Loved Yardbird and tim Ho Wan. Man Wah and The Chairman...I think you can do much better.

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Absolutely...if only Jia-Jia were the size of Yang's and you wouldn't have to wait at either!

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Day 5: After seeing the terra cotta warriors, arrived late in Shanghai for dinner at Jesse. It really is great. Yes, the service is brusque and they forgot out wine and took forever to take our order and didn't remember our reservation from the concierge and didn't remember we pre- ordered 2 dishes...but they weren't mean. Just...a not perfect.

Loved the red pork, scallion fish head, tofu wrapped herbs, and glutinous stuffed dates. All terrific Chowhound recs (and thanks to the English speaking couple next to us for saving the day with the ordering procedure).

Day 6: Lots and lots of walking. Great duo lunch of Yang's Fry dumplings, then across the street to Jia Jia Tang Bao. They were out of pork xlb so had pork-crab. Everything was terrific...and boy is Jia Jia quite the atmosphere. Both are essential visits and deserve the hype. Yang's had no wait while Jia Jia was about 30 mins.

Various exploring around town finished with drinks at the Ritz in Pudong's Bar Flair (what a view! Cocktails are decent) then Bar Rouge (gives the expected attitude, good wine list).

Dinner at Mr. and Mrs. Bund. Hmm, what to say? It's a fun, good restaurant. Not to be harsh but for it to be on the World's Top 100 list is simply unfair to hundreds of other restaurants worldwide. It's simply incorrect and must be changed. It's slightly creative French food in a Las Vegas over the top sensory service style. With less expectations, it's a great experience. It's not Robuchon or probably even Ultraviolet.

Decent dishes-- cod in a bag, arugula salad with truffles, cold picnic chicken.

Top notch dishes: lemon tart (definitely lives up to the hype) and truffle bread.

And having a meal suddenly stop as the lights dim and music blares for a proposal was kind of fun the first time. Then just annoying the second time.

Day 7: The casual day. Lunch at Farine, a bakery in the French Concession where the coffee surprisingly surpassed the mediocre but beautiful looking pastries. Salami sandwich on a thin baguette...I was misled since the real baguettes looked so good but this was like stale crostini. The recommended pain aux raisins barely had any crème Chantilly or raisins like I was assured. But a fun, fun atmosphere and great patio.

Great espresso at Café del Volcan...put this on the list with Farine (and Sumerian later in the trip).

In the evening, enjoyed a dinner of pork and vegetable won ton in clear soup that a friend from home now living in Shanghai took me to. Anybody know this? It's right by IAPM.

Some great cocktails or cocktail attempts (give El Coctel a chance but the avocado Margarita had way too much Cayenne pepper on the rim, coating actually half the tumbler and the avocado was barely detectable). Best cocktail of maybe the whole trip was the "Jerico" (Rye, green Chartreuse, St. Germain, PX Sherry) at Senator Saloon. And of course the Jazz Bar at the Fairmount Peace Hotel...the Manhattan was properly stiff and out of balance. I didn't dig the drinks at Salon de Né in the Peninsula either (that was the first night).

Day 8: Din Tai Fung for lunch. As great as I've had in LA and Taipei. Really, the shrimp and pork "shao mai" are even more the highlight than the xlb. Seaweed and bean curd salad is the perfect partner for the xlb I found.

Visited Sumerian for coffee. Indeed, great espresso. I thought "Kyoto Iced Coffee" didn't already have sugar and milk mixed in (it doesn't in SF). Well, it did here. So I just had a few sips and discarded the rest.

Since there was a big Asian Leaders Conference this day, literally every museum was closed, so I ambled to Boxing Cat Brewery for a surprisingly good tasting (not as great as Great Leap in Beijing). Right Hook Helles and Sucker Punch Pale Ale were highlights. Lowlights were Ringside Red Lager and Contender Extra Pale Ale.

I can't say how great the Waldorf Astoria's Long Bar is. It actually is long and not a tourist relic (the one in Singapore is all for tourists, bad drinks, and the bar isn't even long). Get the "Waldorf Cocktail" Rye, Absinthe, sweet Vermouth, bitters.

For some reason, why did I think Commune Social was on the Bund? I kept asking and asking where is it since I thought it was right by the Waldorf. By phone wouldn't work at all for internet in I finally gave up and went to Mercato.

Mercato was very reliable California-Italian (loved the capellini with a Chez Panisse level asparagus pesto). Great gelato too. Tuna tartare and octopus were reliable if unspectacular. Most importantly, the pizzas look great and I got to try China wine! Both the Grace Vineyards Chardonnay and Cab Sauvignon are actually very good and balanced.

The half way point of the Hong Kong next!

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

O.k., after 2 weeks of fighting jet lag and catching up on work, here's the recap from the trip! I'll give a post on Beijing & Xi'an and then one on Shanghai. Then Singapore and Hong Kong in my other thread.

First of all, thank you, thank you to all of the Chowhound who sent their advice! It's hard to say the dining matched sights like the Great Wall and Terra Cotta Warriors...but it came close!

Jet-lagged opening dinner at Three Guizhou Men near our hotel. Warning, warning. The one I went to in the "SoHo" is exceedingly hard to find. Like, literally, a 20 minute scavenger hunt for us. It was decently worth the sour fish soup. "Beef on fire" was even more of a treat. Service though is very amateur and be warned they don't take American credit cards (a recurring theme in Beijing but not elsewhere). Also loved the "cold jelly noodle."

Day 1: great lunch of carrot-cilantro-tofu dumplings and cumin beef dumplings at Xi'an Lao Dumplings. Yes, it's on the radar of tourists but not really. Superb dumplings and great if you're visiting hutongs/ Lama Temple.

Drinks at Kerry Hotel Bar and on top of China World Summit Wing (the latter you'll see...smog/fog and a little city). Both are just fine and very civilized.

Dinner at Da Dong's original on Dongsishitao. No, we didn't get any sea cucumber dishes though if you didn't know better, from the menu you'd think this is a sea cucumber restaurant. The lean duck is indeed very lean but the razor thin skin is downright candy when dipped in the sugar. Superb! But...
Why? Because that's what I told them in my anger over not finding a taxi after 30 minutes. I'll never recommend it despite the superb duck. Seriously, I don't care what excuse they have, a restaurant of this caliber with at least 5 valets out front and a 300 diner plus capacity should at the very least be able to call a taxi, or at least have a taxi stand. No. None. Not willing to call. We waited at the main road then. Still nobody pulled over. Restaurant didn't care. Da Dong is like Joe's in Miami and House of Prime Rib in SF...huge sized classic establishments with huge numbers of tourists. Except Da Dong doesn't care for hospitality like the others.

Day 2: On that sour note, I will say the Sofitel Beijing makes tremendous coffee...for the equivalent of $7 USD. Seriously. It's outstanding coffee but wow. And we thought Intelligentsia/Blue Bottle are expensive.

Went to Mutianyu and driver took us to a regular spot near a parking lot. It was fine...I think the something "Family" restaurant if that rings a bell for anyone.

Then dinner at Temple...the service was top tier, maybe even better than we'd get in SF. The opposite of Da Dong. And yes, they had taxis waiting for us.

The wine program, the gravlax, and the chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflés were highlights, along with the gorgeous space. They gave out several freebies and a glass of Champagne which helps explain why prices might be a tick higher than they should be (an entrée could be $30 USD when really it should be $25...). Skip the highly recommended suckling pig-- a meager serving and banal preparation.

Day 3: Went to Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven. This was our only day with the guide. I had requested for her to take us to Noodle Loft but alas, Beijing has traffic and sightseeing takes time ;) So my one concession was to eat lunch at a dumpling shop of her choosing near Temple of Heaven. It was quite good, especially the cuttlefish dumplings stained black. She said literally the name is "Dumpling Restaurant."

Very much enjoyed drinks at Mai Bar (serious craft cocktails in a hutong...someone will copy this in the U.S. for sure) and the brews at Great Leap Brewing Co. The latter is of terrific quality, a great surprise.

Dinner at Dali Courtyard...meh. Maybe since we were seated inside. But really, most dishes were just decent. The pace was very rapid. One chicken dish could've been generic kung pao chicken. Did really enjoy the lemongrass shrimp, chilled tofu with mint, tomato, and Szechuan peppers, and the whole tilapia Yunnan style. Still, the vibe felt sold out to tourists. Nice to go once but I think I wish I chose Noodle Loft instead.

Day 4: High speed train to Xi'an
Dinner was recommended by the concierge but may have been the wrong place possibly? It was called tongsheng Xiang...superb pao mau, chilled Shaanxi noodles with sesame sauce, and Szechuan cucumbers. But the concierge made it seem like his rec was for a sit down spot. This was the opposite. Self serve, very confusing ordering system. That being said, delicious food in far from formal setting which is fine by me.

Then to Shanghai.

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

The trip is complete...17 days, 4 countries (really 3 since I didn't have time to eat in Macau), at least 30 excellent meals of the highest end to some very exciting street food. Sadly no durian or fish head curry (but I did get fish head in sauce at Chinatown Hawker Center).

I'll report back at the end of the week after I combat this jet lag. But I'm curious, thoughts on Tian Tian vs Ah Tai @ Maxwell when it comes to Hainan chicken rice?

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Haha...I didn't make it to Yan Toh Heen in the end but after trying Long Bar's super grenadine driven rendition, I don't think I'll be ordering a Sling again anywhere.

With how sweet my drink at MO Bar was, I wouldn't dare to ask them for one!

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Greetings everyone from Shanghai!

Heading to Hong Kong now...almost all set on my plan but still curious about choosing between Man Wah and Seventh Son for one dinner and a dim sum lunch at Tim's Kitchen or Tim Ho Wan. Any tie-breakers?

Re: Man Wah, they're willing to do a tasting menu and sent a copy of it to me (looked far better than Yan Toh Heen's offer) but I'll still go to the latter at least for that glass of Pinot Noir Domenexx.

Other 2 lunch: Mak An Kee and Mui Kee Congee. Other 2 dinners: Yardbird and Chairman (menu arranged already).

How about desserts and any cafes/ morning pastries for my half day visit to Macau?

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Thanks Domenexx-- terrific advice. The coin flip will be Man Wah and 7th Son to go with dinners at Chairman and Yardbird.

Then the question for lunch dim sum-- Tim's Kitchen, Tom Ho Wan or one of the other major dim sum spots?

For the board-- for time, I'm going to stick to coffee/pastries in Macau. Any favorites for something light but excellent and local. Maybe Lord Stow's?

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Alrighty, it's off to Beijing in the morning. Here's how the line-up looks like. Feel free to help me update it upon arrival. Speak now or...I don't eat as well :(
2 lunches: Noodle Loft (is it ok to go to the one by CBD instead of the original way out in the NE corner of the city? and Bao Yuan Dumplings
4 Dinners: Three Guizhou Men, Temple, Da Dong (original location), and either Dali Courtyard or Middle 8th for Yunnan (any recs on that choice?)
Looking for: Coffee, Bakeries, Bar favorites

Xi'an: still very undecided but badly want pao ma.

3 lunches: Din Tai Fung, Yang's/Jia Jia, Yun Se or Jian Guo 328
4 dinners: Jesse, Mr Mrs Bund, combined grazing Mercadito & either Table No. 1 or Commune Social, last will be either M on the Bund or Fu 1088.

Looking for again bakeries, coffee, and if my bar choices look good in the original post.

Thanks and talk to you from China!

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Oh no, hate to hear about the service at Jesse. Did you have the scallion fish head or red pork at Jesse? Any favorite dishes from Yun Se and Mercato (both I'm seriously considering)?

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Definitely now have Noodle Loft on the to do list. I had been meaning to ask about a good place to try Zha Jiang Mian. Is there a dumpling spot considered a must-hit like Bao Yuan or Xian Lao Man?The latter I'm guessing is a lot like De Fa Cheng in Xi'an.

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Haha, good points. Will definitely pre-order the red pork and fish head. If they're finished, they're finished. If's not exactly the $ of French Laundry.

Now I'm hoping Jesse isn't losing quality despite all of us English speakers going there nowadays...

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Oh my! That's worth a try for the novelty.

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Ah, need to try a Million Dollar Cocktail too...maybe a little Raffles crawl of Million Dollar at Writers Bar and Sling at Long Bar...not worrying much about quality but soaking up classic atmospheres.

Of "not touristy" Singapore cocktail bars, Tippling Club seems like the biggest must-hit...any other favorites anyone from the my initial list or ones I don't know about?

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Excellent, thanks Bruce! I'll certainly be there. Any experience with Coffee Academics, Accro, Knockbox, or The Cupping Room?

Just saw this after looking up more on 18 Grams:

Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!

No worries Bellachefa and Beach Chick...I don't think anyone wants Kauai to become Maui (the day will never come when Poipu looks like Kaanapali. I also don't think anyone wants Kauai's dining to become about celebrity chefs like Maui is starting to (well, other than Roy).

I would love to see the equivalent of what Bev Gannon and Sheldon Simeon are doing for Maui though...I feel like Josselin's has always had the potential to be like that but just doesn't feel the urge to leave the status quo Roy's, Beach House level.

May 05, 2014
pats38sox in Hawaii

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Haha...then that brings up the question, who in Singapore serves a great Sling for comparison to the Long Bar?

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Should add to Beijing I just saw that Ippudo opened there in Kerry Centre...getting ramen doesn't really seem right (though it is from China originally, right?) but I've always wanted to try an Ippudo and have no idea when I'd get a chance in NY or Tokyo.

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

Definitely will try Three Guizhou Men and just one duck (leaning to Da Dong). Now you've got me researching all those other cuisines!

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

The dumpling tasting looks pretty epic there...definitely will consider it. But my hope with just one real meal in town is to try the Shaanxi knife cut chilled noodles and pao ma. Lao Sun Jia is known for the pao ma...but I'm guessing there's a great option I don't know about somewhere.

Part II: First Time to Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an, Visiting From SF!

There will just be 2 of can't make too much of a dent in the menu. Definitely have to do the fish head w/ scallions (pre-ordered), the dates stuffed w/ glutinous rice, and tofu wrapped wild herbs. Red braised pork might be overkill though unless it's obligatory...or a small serving available?

Definitely will try Yang's and Jia Jia, along with Din Tai Fung. Anybody been to Jian Guo 328?

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

You know, now that I do the math with plane arrival/departure times, it really seems like it can just be the 3 dinners, 1 lunch, 1 early lunch/late breakfast (does Singapore Airlines serve food in economy HKG to SIN?), and then either 1 more lunch or lunch in Macau on my daytrip day to Macau.

The early lunch should probably be for congee? Or, should I scratch that and do a really early Mak An Kee, dim sum for the other HK lunch, and then a lunch in Macau? If I eat in Macau, I'd certainly consider Robuchon au Dome (strangely I just lived for 3 months in Vegas for an assignment about 3 mins walk from his L'Atelier and never went there) or local Macaunese.

For Macaunese, it looks like from previous threads Fernando's, Litorai, and A Lorcha are good choices, or at least they were.

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Klyeoh, that would be great! I won't be arriving until May 24th though...not sure if that works. On that subject, are lots of the street food/hawker centres closed on Sundays?

Funny you mention Buena Vista—though I've lived here almost all my life, only been there once. BUT, I actually thought the Irish Coffee was pretty good. As in, it wasn't bad and sure you have to go once.

Thank you so much for the list—I'm especially interested in the Ocean @ Teluk Ayer St fish head curry. They seem to ebb and flow with opening hours...

Has anybody been to Burnt Ends? Menu looks terrific and it sure is getting the global magazine press (which can be a good sign or...not so much).

Aloha Hawaii! Please Critique SF Chowhounds' Visit to Kauai and Maui for Next Week!

Agreed—in a way, it seems the highlights of Kauai's food & drink are in the artisans (whether it's jam makers, bakeries, farmers, mead & beer) and less in regards to the middle and upscale restaurants. I'm guessing though there will be spots opening soon on par food & service-wise with Alan Wong's, Chef Mavro's, Salt Kitchen...Kauai Ono is a very good sign of things to come.

May 02, 2014
pats38sox in Hawaii

First Time Visit From SF to Hong Kong & Singapore

Haha, you know I just read like a CNN or Travel & Leisure thing from 2011 on Liberty Private Works yesterday. It sounded great. Then looked up the website and it looked the same as described a few years ago. So, I thought, hey why not see what Chowhound thinks? But you're right, no reason for me to try it when we have speakeasy type dinners everywhere.

Charles, what would you recommend on doing with The Chairman as a solo diner? Should I go for the 3 course lunch or maybe try to arrange with them beforehand a one person dinner banquet? So many dishes there worth trying...same dilemma I'm having with Seventh Son.

Mak An Kee it is! I knew not to even ask about Wing Wah. I'll skip Bo Innovation. Thoughts on what to order at Mui Kee Congee/are they open at lunch or just mornings?

Forgot to ask about a lunch in Macau too...