hblnk's Profile

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Too Much Kaiseki (in Kyoto)?

Just my advice.
It is humanly impossible to eat two full kaiseki tasting menus in one day.
Make sure you check very very carefully the pricing policy of Kichisen. It is by far the most expensive of your options and has a not all that pleasant atmosphere, even if the food is phenomenal, or better than that.
Please understand that these set menus are based on seasonal products: you will basically eat the same dishes in every restaurant.

You left out my favourite - Nakahigashi.


Mar 30, 2014
hblnk in Japan

Izakaya recommendations among other things in Osaka~

In Osaka look for a place called Binbiya. Superb, but you will need language help. Let someone else make the reservation, telling you eat everything (if indeed so)

May is the wrong season for ankimo and shirako, I am afraid.
Reliable whale is never budget friendly.

Enjoy and report back

Mar 30, 2014
hblnk in Japan

Casual, local-feeling bars/pubs/restos in Munich, Prague, Copenhagen, Stockholm

For Prague your request leads straight to LOKAL in Dlouha.

Mar 30, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Antwerp this summer

Hi Ed,

Antwerp will not disappoint you, there is a wide choice and recently the offer in the middle price bracket expanded considerably. A lot will depend on your means of transport though.

Restaurants you must try are

Ardent ( my current favorite)
La Veranda (hard to book, keep trying)
Mojo Visbistrot
Lam en Yin (very hard to book)
HK New City Palace
Yamayu santatsu

Wonderful for a quick lunch

Strand van Oostende
Opera cafe

For splurge and special occasions go to Nuance (in nearby city of Duffel)


Kelly's - irish pub near central station with many screens, many tourists, a few good beers and noise

Old Trafford (yes, that is the name) - a bar near the former national bank building - just two screens, more insiders of the game, everybody knows the offside rule and no loud comments permitted, no noise, the very unpleasant owner can and must be ignored

If Belgium gets past the group stage, public viewing areas are bound to mushroom.


Mar 30, 2014
hblnk in Europe

BELGIUM: Simple, unpretentioius, inexpensive restaurant(s) sought in Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent

In Brussels

Resto Henri
Bistro Margaux (in Ternat, 15 minutes taxi trip well worth it)

In Antwerpen

Mojo Visbistro
Veranda (book now for April, seriously!)

In Ghent

Belfort brasserie
Vrijmoed (relatively cheap for now, but will soar)

If you did get an urge for a very fancy and innovative meal, you never know, these things happen, don't forget to look for Benoit Dewitte in Zingem, just 15 minutes south of Ghent.

And just to reassure you: people in the northern part of Belgium are Flemish, but their language is Dutch. And they are, much more than in Brussels, prone to speak English fluently.

Enjoy and report back.

Feb 07, 2014
hblnk in Europe

I need Bruges and Antwerp Recommendation.

Just to add a detail: Hertog Jan in Brugge has been voted top of the list by its colleagues. Its owner Geert de Mangeleer will be honored next Monday with a top award at Madrid Fusion.

Jan 22, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Vienna - Views on Local Eateries

From this list I eat occasionally but with pleasure at number 2 and 4, even if their pricing lately turned extortionist at times.

Restaurants that I know but recommend against because of rather dubious quality are numbers 5, 16, 18, 20, 22

Numbers 1, 8, 21 are in my opinion tourist traps undermining Vienna's reputation.

Numbers 19 and 26 are coffeehouses serving cake, overpriced or not.

Not on your list and in my opinion good value restaurants are Gaumenspiel, Meixners Gastwirtschaft and Grunauer

Jan 22, 2014
hblnk in Europe

I need Bruges and Antwerp Recommendation.

Honestly, Karmeliet's pricing is fair, I believe, for the value offered. The Bordeaux is expensive and Burgundy still more, but that is what local customers expect.
However, most customers will take the suggested flight of wines by the glass, which is excellent. You pay 150 euro for food and 50 extra for the wine pairing which will be five or six glasses.

On balance, the Michelin stars add to the bill.

Te Kook is a different concept, lower price bracket too, but very good and no stars. I never was at Kommilfoo.

If you had a car in that part of the world, other top tables would be Nuance in Duffel and Dewitte in Zingem.


Jan 18, 2014
hblnk in Europe

I need Bruges and Antwerp Recommendation.

Hi ilohilo,

Karmeliet is always good. The service has been adapted to what people commonly think a three star restaurant should be - deference and distance. Not all the staff will speak colloquial English, but why bother? The food is stunning, just keep away from occasionaly overpriced french wines.

In Antwerpen two new developments are worth your attention:
Te Kook, a circular bar seating thirty odd people for an inventive list of dishes, mostly to share. Service is rather uneven, obviously with quite some people new to the job, but food wise very good. www.tekook.be.

Value for money right now in Antwerp the best is ARDENT. A limited menu with three starters and mains, but everything done to perfection. Elegant yet generous. www.resto-ardent.be

Please report back

Jan 18, 2014
hblnk in Europe

How is Madrid if you don't eat meat?

Dear CHs, I survive on vegetables, fish, fruit and cheese - no meat, except for the occasional rabbit, pigeon or quail. Where shall I go in Madrid? I have one full week.

Just to help you understand: where is that sandwich with stewed squid, with juices running from your hands, ruining your shirt... I want that.

Jan 18, 2014
hblnk in Spain/Portugal

Budapest-Recommendations Please

If you won't drink wine, then Klassz is not your priority. All other three are, because the food is what you go for.

For goulash please note that Hungarians are more precise: the word goulash usually applies to a beef soup, with potatoes and some spices. If you were thinking of the rather dense paprika infused onion and meet stew, look for pörkölt.

Getting around on public transport is easy - trams 4 or 6 and metro 1 get you to all places of note, food wise, that is.

Jan 18, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Budapest-Recommendations Please

In the top price bracket BORKONYHA is consistent and deservedly famous.

BOCK BISTRO is very good if occasionally uneven. Big disadvantage is the noise level and the rather selective booking procedures.

Best traditional Hungarian cooking with local ingredients (think duck, game, goose liver, carp, cabbage) is ROSENSTEIN. This has value for money a short but good wine list.

If wine were your only criterium go to KLASSZ. The food is a notch up from adequate/fine but not a destination. The local wine selection though is very clever and cannot be beaten at this price level.

Avoid all restaurants near Liszt square and Vaci utca and all streets leading to Vörösmaty tér.

Jan 16, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Prague- recommendations

A must go address is SANSHO. The full blow-out tasting menu served in the evening, plus one bottle of wine will get you in food heaven for just about 120 euro for two. Must book though. (Also important is that right up front, you cut short the waiters in pushing too much drinks on you, the only regrettable aspect of this otherwise heavenly restaurant.)

At this time, the best traditional Czech cuisine is imho being served at KONIRNA.

One visit to LOKAL Ambiente is a must: traditional simple nourishing food to go with beer.

To get away from Central European heaviness try the best Indian restaurant in town - INDIAN BY NATURE. The other Asian restaurants are all best avoided.

DEGUSTATION is professionally and technically perfect but the same 200 euro per person buys much better food in the same 'molecules hidden in foam and smoke' style found in Spain or France.


Jan 16, 2014
hblnk in Europe

Vienna birthday celebration - calling Sturmi and others please

Hi myram,

Hollmann's is a good idea, though it can get rather noisy.

Given your quite generous budget, why not consider Konstantin Fillipou - http://www.konstantinfilippou.com

They have a separate room for parties. I recently entertained a group of similar size there and we were very very happy. They are open to negotiation on fixed price packages.
It is - value for money - the best place right now in Vienna.

No, it is not cellar like and not typical Viennese... But I am on record warning you about Griechenbeisl right?

Jan 10, 2014
hblnk in Europe

What's the size and cost of a loaf of white or wheat (brown) bread in parts of Europe?

The type of product you sent a picture of, would not be considered bread in cities like Rome or Vienna eg. There you woud buy a handmade, baked on site loaf, or half of it, and have it weighed. At my bakery here in Rome - Passi in Testacio - a full loaf might sell for 5 to 6 euro, and weigh up to 1,30 kilo. In Vienna bread freaks cue at Josephs for a full sour dough loaf at 6,20 euro for almost 2 kilo.
Different cultures really.

Dec 31, 2013
hblnk in Europe

One lunch in Kanazawa...

A rather useless answer I am afraid: there is a sushi-ya inside the Omicho market, near the southern entrance. They have ground seating right of the entrance, counter for about five people to the left. The main decoration is baseball memorabilia. No, I do not know the name but my wife and agree that it is the best lunch we ever had. As I said, useless but honestly, splendid lunch!

Dec 31, 2013
hblnk in Japan

Where to eat in Graz? Klosterneuburg? Vienna?

Graz is easy. First you visit Santa Clara, an understated top class version of an osteria, serving a very limited range of dishes. The one place in Graz where you will find good fish. Make sure to book in advance so you can avoid the smoking section.
Secondly you go to Der Steier, which does good local cuisine. Service can be robotic, but food is mostly great.
For Vienna, just scan this discussion board where you will find many up to date reports. Most recommendations on this board I do not agree with: they favor the cooked meat with starch and zero veg cooking Viennese like.

Dec 07, 2013
hblnk in Europe

two days in shibuya looking for sushi. ramen and yakatori

Dear sportcat,

you certainly picked the right hotel! It is my base when I am in town and there is plenty of incredibly good food just within walking distance. Just too much to mention, really, all sorts.

Two outlets of upmarket restaurant chains of very reputable and classy cooking are nearby - Shunju and Uoshin. One block south of the hotel is a place called Kotaro. The concierge can get you a reservation and give you a slip of paper with a magic formula.

As for bespoke sushi, I did not find one within walking distance from the tower, so please report back if you did.

Nov 24, 2013
hblnk in Japan

Best French Fries in Europe by City - and their sauces...

My reply relates to Belgium only and its sauces for frites.

Mayonnaise, real one, is based on an emulsion of raw egg yolks. When kept for a long time in open air - specially in low hygiene conditions - there is always a risk of contamination. Hence, most frites stands have long abandonned real mayo and use a sauce with a different emulgator, some chemical stuff, not organic. The sauce you mention is one of those surrogates. It can legally not even be called mayonnaise. You must promise to shoot me if you ever saw me eating it.

The real connaisseur sauce for Belgian frites is pickles or picalilly. That is a vinegar, sugar and curcuma base, with salted and cooked vegetables: cauliflower, gherkins, onions, apples etc. It is so good, I would eat it without the fries. Or have it with a really big pork roast.

Nov 18, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Rome - Nov. 25-Dec.1 - Single Traveler - Help Refine my Lists

Best of lists and must do recommendations usually come with problems. Every local foodie will have a different one.
My list of 'formal' meals would however always include a more traditional roman place like Da Felice in Testacio (where you are indeed more likely to find a table for one at lunch) and a more recent development like Hostaria Glass.
I frowned at your gelato list, as it did not include San Crispino.
All other replies are valid too, especially the one about eating near sites of interest - must go tourist sites tend to attract poor restaurants.

Nov 18, 2013
hblnk in Italy

Let's start a non-smoking restaurant list for Prague!

Vienna, non-smoking restaurants and pubs, honestly? I like your sense of humor.

Sep 19, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Ethnic restuarants in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague

I forgot Salzburg! How could I.

A recent development that has my full attention is Hibiskus, which is very good Korean.
Now you will probably not believe this, but they are located inside the Mozarteum Music University. For lunch they cater to students and tourists, in the evening it turns into Korean for advanced patrons.
This is all very logical - since Korean music students now routinely outnumber other violinist in orchestra's, they are studying in large numbers in Salzburg. So family and relatives of some students took over the cantina and then expanded.

The two Indians in Salzburg are best left unmentioned.

Sep 19, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Ethnic restuarants in Salzburg, Vienna and Prague

Dear Violet,

could it be that the Georgian you mean is Satrapezo. I went recently and it is good - www.satrapezo.at. Natives, Georgian natives, took me for a treat. Not fine dining, but tasty and generous, seriously good wine and indeed different from Viennese meat-and-starch.

Other ethnic dining in Vienna is not that great. Most indian, south east asian and japanese are disappointing. There is no tradition of fish. And worse: these regional ethnic cuisines are confined to the lower bottom price bracket of the market. If you had Manhattan, Toronto or SF as a benchmark for chinese or korean or thai, you should to think twice.

Prague is better: it has a large and very active Vietnamese community. Sansho, a fusion of Vietnamese, Indonesian and locally reared organic meats is top class.

Enjoy and report back.

Sep 19, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Brussels restaurants for dinner in October

Dump most of this list and go straight away to Resto Henri (restohenri.be). Make sure to book.
Or take a look at De La Vigne à l'assiète.
If you had a car or were willing to take a train to Antwerpen you could eat very serious Belgian classics at Invincible.
Enjoy and report back.

Aug 21, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Best indonesian restaurant for rijstaffel in Den Haag?

That's easy but difficult.
The competition polarized some time ago on these two: Soeboer or Bogor.
Neither is for fancy dining though and the rijsttafel cannot be enjoyed if you went with fewer than 4 people.
I prefer Soeboer, but occasionally guests are put off by its no frills interior.

Aug 06, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Prague tasting menus

Sansho on Petrska square.
The tasting menu is the only option for dinner. Some six tot seven small dishes and a very generous main course.
Be prepared to eat with your hands.
And make sure to book though.

Enjoy and please report back.

Aug 06, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Best places to eat at counter / bar

Please rephrase your question or explain in some more detail.
Eating at counters is a very common practice. Actually, not eating at the counter but in a room seated at a table very often is a paying extra, which as a solo diner you are not likely to get.

Jun 08, 2013
hblnk in Japan

Help me plan Budapest dinners!

All five are good. A lot depends on your preferences and criteria.

Klassz does not take reservations, but stands out for the extremely good value-for-money and insider knowledge wine list. More surprises in the glasses than on the plate.

Bock bistro can be very, very noisy and tends to charge heavily, but uses top quality produce.

Rosenstein is a classic, traditional hungarian, in some sense the opposite of Onyx.

Csalogany is quiet.

You cannot go wrong with this list.

Jun 08, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Spot on! Great choice and I would have written the same.

Jun 02, 2013
hblnk in Europe

Eating in Antwerp

Many options here.

Check the following names:

Invincible - for just plain and simple products done with no fuss, wonderful wine pairings
La Veranda - serves a fixed menu only, but sensational, hard to book
Nuance - probably among Belgium's best restaurants, but you need a car
Lam and Yin - chinese, but not as you know it
Het Gebaar - lunch only with improbably sensational deserts

and for drinks, before or after

SIPS - hard to explain, a must book cocktail bar

Enjoy and report back.

May 17, 2013
hblnk in Europe