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Anything new in Hanoi

Not sure about anything new, but as there doesn't seem to be a great deal on Hanoi on the boards, here's a quick list of where we ate last weekend (13th April 2012)

Spices Garden, Metropole - this was a last minute, fairly late, where do we eat that the in-laws will be impressed by the surroundings kind of a choice. Absolutely stinking meal. The worst food I've ever had in Vietnam. The beef was tough as boots, everything that was fried was oily, and it was generally very disappointing. The service was crap and the prices rapacious. Avoid at all costs.

Ngon (Quan An Ngon) - fun. It's loud, it's packed, but at least it's packed with tourists and Hanoians alike. Service was very good and helpful - I don't think anyone has ever offered to peel my prawns at the table in Asia, and I've lived here over a decade! Food was good and I had no quibbles with the cost. A good safe bet.

Green Tangerine - I'm a bit sentimental about the Green Tangerine. I've gone there every time I go to Hanoi for a number of years now. It's quirky french/vietnamese fusion works pretty well, the presentation is interesting and everyone really enjoyed their food. A great little oasis, especially at lunch time.

Thanh Chuong palace - we had lunch in the restaurant after looking round the palace. It's a quirky, oddity of a place, but the restaurant serves good quality, if foreigner friendly food. We enjoyed our lunch out on the terrace overlooking one of the many ponds, framed by lovely trees and landscaping. Highly recommend it as a trip out of town, we teamed it with a visit to the Giong Temple which was also beautiful.

I was only there for a couple of days and we were erring to the safe side of things as we were with guests who were not really ready to get down on the pavements and hit the street stalls.

If anyone has other restaurants they love here in Hanoi, please share!
Caustic Candy

first visit to Hong Kong with family (including toddler)

Well, the beaches aren't a must do. If you aren't in a rush and want to play in the sand then it's a great way to spend an afternoon. If you get off the bus at Upper Cheung Sha and walk down to lower Cheung Sha then it's about a 1.5km walk down the beach, otherwise you can rent watersports equipment etc.
Fast ferry from Central is 30mins, and bus is another 45-50mins. MTR to Tung Chung from Central is about 40mins and bus is again another 45-50mins.

Ferry timetable:
Bus timetables: 11 from Tung Chung, 1 from Mui Wo

Anything new in Hanoi

Hey Lloyd G - have you been yet? Anything to report? I'm off to Hanoi at the weekend, and will also be dropping in for lunch at Green Tangerine as usual. However, I want to go somewhere new/different for dinner and it has to be restaurant not food-stall based unfortunately as I have to be sensitive to to some newbies' fear of street food.

Would be great to know if you've found any new gems.

Sushi in Hong Kong

I'm still a fan of Kiyotaki in NoHo on Gough Street. Simple styling and I've always had great fish there. The chef/owner is a lot of fun and loves his food. Just ask him to feed you and he'll serve you the best of what he has. He also sometimes has this awesome grey/blue tofu that tastes more pungent than the normal stuff. He uses it for a great Agedashi tofu.

Like every sushi restaurant in HK make sure you go for dinner - the fish is flown in from Japan after the morning markets in Tokyo so you will be eating the fish the same day. If you go for lunch you will always be eating yesterday's fish.

first visit to Hong Kong with family (including toddler)

Hi trueblu,

If you are coming to Lantau on a Saturday then I'd suggest going down to Lower Cheung Sha or Pui O beach after Tai O if it's not too late for lunch.

If you can manage to get to Tai O early (i.e before midday) then you will avoid the crowds. There is a new hotel in Tai O which is in the former Police Station. They have a restaurant and it seems to have a mix of classic Canto or international food. I haven't been up there myself, but my in-laws have and said the food was fine, and the place itself was fascinating for people who haven't been to HK before. You would need to book well in advance though as it's pretty tiny:

Beach-wise in Lantau, Pui O is great for smaller children as it's very gently shelving. Ooh La La is a little beach restaurant down there and it's a very popular spot for families with international food. It's about 10 mins further on than Cheung Sha towards Mui Wo where the ferries go from (ferry at least one direction to and from Lantau as it's a far more pleasant experience than the MTR).

If you end up at Lower Cheung Sha beach which is more popular (maybe because it's slightly easier to get to as it's actually on the main bus route) then I recommend High Tide, the Thai restaurant over The Stoep, which is a South African BBQ place - the latter trades off a reputation established by the previous owners and the service and quality of the food has slumped since then. You can sit on the beach under the shady trees or on the terraces at both these places. Cheung Sha is more steeply shelving, so you have to be a bit more careful with little kids.

Bear in mind that none of the beaches in HK have really clean water until you get to the more tricky to reach places out in Sai Kung.

From Tai O to Cheung Sha by bus takes about 35mins and to Pui O it takes about 45mins.

In Tai O, there is also a little tea spot (they only had bar snacks the last time I was there) called The Balcony. It looks out onto the river on the over-the-bridge side of town and is pretty easy to spot as you will no doubt walk parallel to the river when exploring Tai O.

Completely agree about Ocean Park - don't bother with Disney, OP is pretty cool - the cable car ride and the aquarium are awesome, although with a 3 year old you will miss the best ride - the Abyss, which drops you free-fall about 150ft from the top of a column on top of a cliff overlooking the South China Sea some 300 odd ft below. It also has one of the most inappropriate slogans in Hong Kong - "Ride it. Feel the depth"

All kids love Dan Ryans in Pacific Place which is underneath the Conrad. It's an American restaurant with colouring pens and paper and a model train that scoots round the ceiling.

Another chain of various international restaurants that's always packed with yummy mummies and pushchairs is Castello Concepts. You can choose from Jaspas and Oolaa in which are both in SoHo, Central.

Patara or Mahanaga for Private Dining - Bangkok

Hey Cingor,

I ended up taking a private room at Patara as there were seven of us - and I didn't really see the actual restaurant. It's in a villa so has quite a homely feel. The food is well executed and very tasty with good ingredients, but it's pretty trad. You aren't going to introduced to anything you haven't eaten before, so it's a safe choice rather than an exciting choice. Service were good, we had a great time and the costs were reasonable.

Since then I've eaten at Nahm and absolutely loved the food - it was punchy stuff. Massive flavours, unusual ingredients and some beautifully crafted dishes. The service staff aren't very organised though so you have to keep on top of them to make sure you get your drinks, menus etc etc when you sit down. Once you've ordered the food, this seems to sort itself out though and the dinner flowed very smoothly. I think David Thompson is doing the Thai's proud.

I haven't been yet, but next time I'm in BKK I'm going to eat at Bolan as that is meant to be more on the modern/interesting end of the scale again and the chefs have worked with David Thompson before.

Another restaurant that I send everyone to is Rosabieng in Sukhumvit Soi 11 - it's much more informal, has a huge menu with a lot of Isaan food too and is in a lovely garden setting with live jazz (you can sit inside or out). It opens late (kitchen still serving at 11pm usually), and is cheap as chips. It's certainly not fine dinning, but everyone I send there has loved it, whether it's been with clients or friends.

Sous vide at home

This obviously needs a little more investigation on my part! Thanks very much for your help, much appreciated. Maybe the simplest thing for me to do is to go out and find a bigger rice cooker!

Mar 11, 2012
causticcandy in Home Cooking

Sous vide at home

Can someone answer the following question - after I've cooked my steaks/prawns/fish etc sous vide, how long can I leave them before I finish them off and serve them?

I'm thinking of a situation where I need to cook say 8 steaks for a dinner party but I can only sous vide two at a time. Can I sous vide the day before and just sear them on the day? I can't see why not, but just wanted to make sure.

Mar 10, 2012
causticcandy in Home Cooking

Knife shopping in Hong Kong

Hi there,

In Kowloon in Shanghai St south of where it crosses Waterloo Road is where there are a lot of kitchen shops that also sell knives. A range of brands including some Japanese steel (definitely saw Kasumi) and German brands etc, but also bog standard stuff as well. It's where a lot of restaurants buy their necessities. It's actually a very cool part of Hong Kong, with Reclamation Street running parallel which still has one of the oldest markets in HK - where all the wholesale fruit comes in. Fascinating stuff.
I've yet to find a big range of Japanese knives, maybe eat in a Japanese restaurant and find out where they buy theirs - one of my favourites is Kiyotaki in Noho, tiny, and the chef there is super friendly.

Patara or Mahanaga for Private Dining - Bangkok

I have a party and I need to choose between Patara or Mahanaga - any insight would be much appreciated. I don't live in BKK so I can't check it out before I get there.

This is my thinking so far:

1) Seems that food and service gets better reviews at Patara, wine more expensive than Mahanaga.
2) Mahanaga is more of a design destination, and food reviews as good to so-so, but service isn't very good. Cheaper booze!

On the face of it I would choose Patara but there's a wedding party going on that night as well and I'm not sure how much impact that is going to have on our party.

Is Mahanaga as bad as it seems?

Can we talk about Lyon?

Thanks Mangeur, rooms look very sweet, and super cheap x

Sep 15, 2009
causticcandy in France

Restaurant in Lyon to try French delicacies

mm, Mr Gimlet suggests Spendid which is a good idea. It's a restaurant owned by George Blanc who is a 3* chef although his main restaurant is out in Vonnas near Bresse.

I ate in one of JP Lacombe's little bouchon in Lyon, and had the most delectable Pot au Feu - so simple, so light. Wonderful.

To be honest, the things that you mention above are not particularly Lyonnais and if you were looking for them you would miss out on the really fabulous local specialities that you are highly unlikely to find outside France - St Marcellin cheese, Lyonnais sausage (slightly fermented flavour), pike quenelles etc.

Lyon is a fabulous place to eat, and I'd suggest putting yourself at the mercy of some of these great chefs rather than going with a fixed idea of what you want to eat. They know their local ingredients best!

You can check out my blog post about Lyon for some pointers that may be useful.

Sep 14, 2009
causticcandy in France

Can we talk about Lyon?

I have to agree that I find it strange that there isn't more about Lyon and it's restaurants/culinary history on the web in English. I went earlier this year for a couple of days after skiing, and loved it.
Definitely need to book a couple of days ahead if you want to eat anywhere half decent at the weekend. As we went there on a complete whim we found getting into restaurants absurdly difficult.
Lyon lacks boutique hotels. The two in Vieux Lyon are really not worth the price. If I was staying in the city again I'd go for the Sofitel Bellecour.
Well worth pootling down to Rue Merciere as there are a number of good bouchons there. You won't find it difficult to stay away from offal in any of these establisments.
We enjoyed our meal at Auberge Rabelais, Rue Saint-Jean. I wouldn't go to Brasserie Georges unless there are a lot of you as it's a bit overwhelming and raucous.
There is a market along the river at Quai St-Antoine Tues through Sun which is perfect for picking up breakfast.
Check out my blog for a rundown of Lyon for 48 hours

Sep 14, 2009
causticcandy in France

What is your favourite Hong Kong hole in the wall? Any good spicy food restaurants in Kowloon?

Hmm, I'd go for a drink at Top Deck on the Jumbo Floating restaurant in Aberdeen, but wouldn't bother eating anywhere round there.

If you want simple seafood then you could think about taking a slow ferry to Cheung Chau (get a deluxe ticket on the 3 storey ferries and sit outside soaking up the view) and eating somewhere along the waterfront.

We tend to eat in the last but one restaurant. It's totally informal, super cheap (much cheaper than Lamma, Lei Yu Mun etc) and the journey is great.

Hole in the wall? My fave is Thai Hut in Wanchai but that's not very Chinese!!

simple good food with great wine in Verona?

Wish I'd known about chowhound when I went to Verona... We went to Il Desco and it was a big disappointment. Take a look at my full review! We were only in Verona for 48 hours, but the other meal we had was at our hotel Villa Amista, and we had the most fantastic meal at their restaurant Atelier. No idea why it doesn't have any michelin stars. The food was excellent, the sommelier was a complete gem (he introduced us to Ripasso, which I now buy religiously when I can find it in HK), the decor completely bonkers (in a good way), and the general service and atmosphere were really good.

Sep 06, 2009
causticcandy in Italy

Honeymoon in Italy in Sept: need recs & feedback, please!

Just in case you haven't already left for Italy!

In Florence my favourite restaurant is La Giostra. It's small and family run "(by some local nobles) they have a good wine list and it's very local food.

I also had an awesome day out wine tasting and lunching with a guy called Todd Bolton an american guy training for his wine masters or something. His website is

We were specifically interested in the Brunellos and he took us to some beautiful wineries and we had a fantastic slow lunch up on a hill in a tiny village. If you're going wine-tasting it's better to have someone else driving and introducing the wines! He was knowledgeable, and really easy going and we had a fantastic day. He was a gem as we kept bothering him after that for restaurant recommendations wherever we went and he and his Italian partner came up trumps every time.

A lovely place for lunch (if you aren't staying there, which is highly recommended) is Villa San Michele in the hills overlooking florence

Have an an amazing time x

Sep 06, 2009
causticcandy in Italy

Best Chinese food in Hong Kong???

UE - Da Ping Huo doesn't have a website. I'd recommend there but also San Xi Lou in Coda Plaza, Central. Take a look at both reviews from this link: Enjoy.

Hong Kong: Best mid-range priced restaurants on HK Island?

Wah BAK - there are so many places on the island for this price range!

Korean - I really like Korea Garden, 247 Des Voeux Road, on the first floor
Peking Garden, Alexandra House - if you are in a group you can definitely get away with under $300 a head.
San Xi Lou - Sichuan, on 7th floor Coda Plaza
Habibi Cafe (not restaurant) Egyptian on Wellington Street
Double Happiness - Homestyle, mainland food on Staunton Street - great value for money in Soho
Khana Khazana - on Jaffe Road in Wanchai, great, veggie Indian

That's all I can think of quickly off the top of my head...

Central (Hong Kong) foodie trip for a group of 6-10 people

Are you only looking for HK food? If you want to stick to your Central plan you could carry on down Wellington Street after Yung Kee to pick up some Vietnamese snacks at Nha Trang then some Beijing noodles and dumplings at Wang Fu.

You can then divert up Aberdeen Street to Gough Street and go to Kau Kee for beef soup noodles (if you hit it outside lunchtime you should have room to all sit), then walk back up to Tai Cheong via the wet market in Gage Street. That way there's lots of things to look at along the way!

Tantanmen/ dandanmian in Hong Kong

That's sounds like a great recommend KK and BAK. I'll have to go find that one too.

Thailand vacation tips????

You can't really go wrong in Thailand, although I'd avoid Hua Hin, Pattaya and Phuket (the latter unless you are flush and can stay in top end resorts and villas, it's a hole otherwise). I love staying up around the River Kwai as it's quiet, jungly and the food is good. Northern Thai food is more interesting than southern Thai as you get the Laos/Cambodian influences and it's super, super hot. Bangkok as well is always rocking for 24-48 hours. There's a bunch of recommends and avoids on my blog I usually get to BKK, see what the weather is doing for the coming week and then head where it looks best. I've had some awesome holidays that have been planned as little as that, taking trains, planes or hiring cars. Lots of fun, lovely people, cheap and fantastic food. You can really eat anything off the street and it will be great, no matter how rustic the setting.

Thailand Food Reccomendations - From Street Food to Resorts?

A really nice, quiet part of Thailand with good food is up around Sai Yok and the River Kwai. Resotel Resort on the river is a really lovely place to stay, is not expensive and has awesome food. You can go cycling around, hire cars etc, and all the food stalls around the place will serve you great food. Check out my blog as it has a review of this hotel and also the whole area.
Chiang Mai also has great food. I prefer northern Thai food to southern as it's hotter and has more influence from Laos/Cambodia etc. Have a lovely time.

Best Chinese food in Hong Kong???

Definitely go to Bo, and sit at the Chef's table to have their tasting menu. Just a really interesting experience, super tasty, and incredibly good value for money if you haven't had a deconstructed meal before - it only has elements of molecular gastronomy, most courses aren't, (HK$1080+10%)
San Xi Lou and Da Ping Huo are my two favourite Sichuans in HK. The former is robust and unpretentious, the latter is more elegant and sophisticated (the former also serves shark's fin, but no great emphasis).
Every dim sum place and certainly every Cantonese restaurant will serve sharks fin.
Go to Aqua for a drink, but don't eat there or downstairs in Hutong. Tourist trap, style over substance (like Nobu in fact...)
I don't rate Fuk Lam Moon, I'd go to Yung Kee 4th fl over that any day of the week.
If you like Peking duck then try Peking Garden
If you like sushi try Sushi Hiro, Kyotaki or June
Lei Garden always gets good reviews
If you fancy Korean bbq then try Korea Garden
If you want something super chilled then go to HK Island south side to Cococabana (French food, Riviera feel)
If you are gong to visit the Big Buddha on Lantau, take the cable car up, but the bus back and stop for supper at the Gallery in Tong Fuk for really good pizzas or steaks - very chilled and rural.
If you want seafood by the sea then go to Cheung Chau over Lamma or Lei Yu Mun and eat for much cheapness along the waterfront.
Check out my blog which is mostly reviews of HK restaurants at Most of all enjoy HK and get out of the city and roam the countryside. The weather is perfect in December for al fresco dining and mooching about.

Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong. What are the essentials?

Hong Kong - for dim sum I'd suggest two - for posh go to Dynasty in the Renaissance Harbour View in Wanchai, for more casual go to Tim Ho Wun in Mongkok (the owner here was the dim sum chef at 4 Seasons' Lung King Heen when they were awarded 3 Michelin stars). It is pretty close to Temple Street night market - which in all honesty is an horrific place. Full of tatt and hot as hell in the middle of August. I'd go to fish street (Tung Choi Street in Prince Edward, down the road from Mongkok) over here any day of the week, much more interesting and open til about 10pm too.
In HK though I think the best restaurant to get excited about is Bo Innovation in Wanchai. I don't go a bundle on Cantonese cuisine, it's a bit too subtle for me. I prefer mainland food - for that I would definitely give Peking Garden in Central a go. For seafood I'd take a ferry to Cheng Chau and eat at any of the restaurants along the waterfront. Much better value than Lamma island, Lei Yu Mun etc. There are some great Japanese restaurants in HK too - my favourite is Kiyotaki in NoHo, Central, or June in Tin Hau. Take a look at my blog for some further ideas.

Going to Bangkok in 2 weeks. Where to even start?

Hey big apple Ken. If you are in town for 5 days, why not group a river trip on to a lunch outing? Suan Thip is 45 mins up river from cenral BKK and is a great restaurant. Go for a klong tour, then a cruise up the river then lunch in this restaurant which is set in beautiful gardens. Really worth it and good fun for all the family. Check out my review on, and have a great time in BKK, difficult to go wrong in that city. (