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YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

One of the things I love about the Paris dining scene is the diversity of diners. A happening room (say Clown Bar at the moment) usually seems to have young, old, groomed, style-free, suits, beards, track suits, locals, visitors.

Whereas similar places elsewhere are usually that much more 'tribal', hipsters maybe, or bankers, little crossover.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Tokyo - stumped - what to bring onboard for plane food back to States

Onigiri are an easy picnic food and can be as plain or as special as you like (a depachika will have the fancier ones though I find I often board a plane with some from the previous night's dinner since so many washoku places cook rice-pots per table/ small group).

And I carry somewhat pasty items quite often (wagashi with red bean and other fillings), no issues with security.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

Mea culpa folks ! I wasn't familiar with the blogger or her business and thought I was just adding another data-point to the discussion.

But certainly the suggestion that diners tip to make up the deficit in servers' wages is an attempt to export bad practice from the US.

Nov 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

YIKES-Another thread on tipping in france

Someone sent me this when I directed her to this thread in response to the perpetual bewilderment about tipping, so to close the loop :

http://www.thepariskitchen.com/servic...

Nov 23, 2014
shakti2 in France

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

You may also enjoy the work of Su Dongpo, another Tang poet and hedonist, who gives his name to a particularly unctuous fatty braised-pork preparation.

Nov 23, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Hi Steve, I think you've got all the points. On the subject of mountains (or rather geography), if we look at the 8 cuisines traditionally regarded as China's greats, 5 are in coastal regions (Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shandong) with important urban centres and long histories for internal trade and migration (some external too - there's good reason why these areas include the cuisines best known outside China), and 3 indeed defined by their mountains and relative isolation (Szechuan, Hunan, Anhui).

The 3 land-locked cuisines do feature more techniques associated with preserving or mitigating absence of freshness (use of chillies) although they were clearly important agricultural producers in the right season. The 5 coastal cuisines on the other hand are characterized by an abundance of raw material brought in from local market gardens, the agricultural hinterland along the Yangtze and Pearl rivers, lake- and canal-side fresh-water fisheries and the coastal fishing villages, by sophisticated transport networks serving affluent urban hubs, where there were plenty of hands for haute-cuisine dishes with multi-stage frying/ braising/ steaming and so on, and also plenty of hungry mouths in need of quick and tasty street food like dumplings and noodles. These were not peasant cuisines constrained by undeveloped feudal economies.

In both cases though, raw vegetables aren't really a feature of the cuisine ie. geography explains regional variations but doesn't shed that much light on the raw-vegetable question for the entirety of Chinese cuisine.

The other explanations seem reasonable to me. Certainly the cultural one involving the thought-system about 'qi' and its ramifications about avoiding an excess of heaty and cooling foods underpins how at least some of us eat, some of the time.

Nov 22, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics
1

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

A pity you didn't make the connection between lots of great quality leafy greens and salad then. There's plenty in HK's veggie stalls which are excellent as salad - watercress, cabbage types if shredded, virtually anything described as a 'sprout' of a vegetable normally eaten mature. The range is 'narrow' only if your reference point is western or some other non-indigenous cuisine - but then that's your issue, rather than anything to do with the state of HK's produce.

Do you see any connection between the historical ability to deliver these vast quantities of highly perishable greens from market gardens upriver to the daily city markets of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou etc, and the subsequent evolution of their traditional cuisine ? Does the hypothesis of poor-quality produce, under-developed logistics, geographical isolation etc seem consistent with traditional cuisines abundant with fresh greens, fresh- and sea-water fish, chickens preferably slaughtered on the day of consumption and so on ?

Nov 22, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Please help finalize Bangkok destinations (researched!!)

Some thoughts since no one else has stepped up :

- Pa'or has an odd mid-week off day (Friday maybe ? It's in kind of a Muslim area). Best to call before going.

- Lan Luam Tai is near Wang Lung market, the best route to which is the river express boat (Siriraj stop, right next to the market). The resto is perhaps a 15-min walk away from the pier, past the big Siriraj hospital complex, kind of a dusty featureless walk but just keep going. There is no menu - you just point at the dishes on the counter. Kua Kling moo I don't usually get - yes, it's a signature dish of the cuisine, but it usually just seems like over-cooked overly-spicy pork bits to me. On the other hand, I've had a terrific pork with sator here before, maybe get that if they have it.

- Yaowarat's eating scene is liveliest on a Sunday night, closed on Monday, with activity picking up through the week. Nai Mong opens at maybe 5 pm and closes when they sell out, which could be as early as 8 pm. I like the oyster omelette over the mussel one, and by all means get the wet (or suan) and the crunchy (or lua) variants for a side-by-side comparison, they are not very big portions. The best route into Chinatown during the week is again the river express (Ratchawong stop, 10-min walk to the busy part of Yaowarat, a little quiet and dark but not to my knowledge, dangerous). Otherwise traffic can be really very bad. Weekends and after dinner should be fine.

- Or Tor Kor is probably the most tourist-friendly of the places you want to go to, so yes definitely check this out. The other places - well, bring along some wet wipes and be prepared for a bit of time, heat and discomfort tracking to and fro.

Taman Negara (Malaysia)

These look fine. You were probably taking more of a risk at some of the KL spots eg. Visalatchi, Masjid India area :)

Kuala Tembeling (Malaysia)

Really glad you got a chance to eat some Malay food - it's great stuff and a bit over-looked on the web/ in the guide books, and you certainly waded right in (I love durian but the smell of tempoyak makes me gag ...). On id-ing your meal :

Could your crunchy veggie be breadfruit, cored and sliced through the middle ? I suggest this because the bit lying atop the boiled greens looks like the core and resembles breadfruit - was it a somewhat starchy crunch ?

The beef is more likely to be gulai lemak daging (3 ringgit on the pic of the handwritten menu). Rendang would be less red in colour.

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Phil, you mention buying inferior carrots, broccoli, potatoes, items of no great relevance in Canto cuisine. You mention good-quality greens (not clear if you were consuming these) but state that you were buying herbs and salad imported from Australia.

I can understand if you prefer to eat only familiar veggies even though they are not the best of what's available in HK (although see my comment upthread about the alternative approach of buying what's plentiful and indigenous to the local table and adapting it to other cooking methods). But your statement about poor-quality local produce simply isn't correct, let alone your speculation that Chinese cuisine has few raw veggie preparations because its practitioners lacked access to fresh produce.

Nov 21, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

'Chinese are more root vegetables - driven by climate etc'

No one who is familiar with the general geography of coastal China from Jiangsu and points south would make this statement. These regions account for 5 of China's canonical 8 great cuisines, which rely on the abundant produce of traditionally fertile river valleys along with long coast lines in some cases.

Astonishing that someone who seems to have spent 5 years in HK ignoring local produce and language opines so much on the subject of Chinese cuisine, actually.

Nov 21, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Why Chinese cuisines/dishes do not include raw vegetables...

Phil, it sounds like your problem is that you were trying to buy products in HK which are alien to the indigenous table (strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli and the like) instead of adapting to the best of what was actually available.

I actually find HK's wet markets entirely fine at the veggies used in Cantonese cooking, huge variety of leafy greens especially, in entirely acceptable condition in terms of freshness and flavour, and at least some of it from more local small-scale producers in the New Territories. For sure these can be stir-fried or par-boiled and dressed Canto-style, but they are also terrifc in a salad if young and snappy enough, or cooked in an Italian recipe for bitter greens.

Also disagree with your thesis about poor quality produce - some China's great cuisines originate in affluent urban hubs located downstream of agriculturally-important river valleys. These cuisines traditionally rely on excellent fresh produce delivered daily to the city's markets and kitchens, the cooking of which serves to enhance, not to disguise.

Nov 20, 2014
shakti2 in General Topics

Long report: a Franco-African week in Paris

Hugely fun read and your Rome post too.

Nov 06, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris -- staying in the 9th for two weeks November

Parigi's the expert in her 'hood but just wanted to put in a word for Caillebotte where I've had a couple of good inexpensive lunches, imaginative combinations, nicely-cooked, including a particularly tasty chorizo-stuffed quail. The only thing that's turned me off attempting dinner is the double seatings (more effort than I'd want to make) but maybe that's changed since the buzz has come off the boil.

Oct 24, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

SF hound to KL, Penang, then Singapore

A couple of comments :

Lunch is probably a much better bet than dinner at Visalatchi. Many restaurants of its type don't do a good dinner business (leftover curries supplemented by a fresh round of rice and/ or breads) and given the general level of hygiene at Visalatchi, I'd avoid anything not clearly freshly-cooked myself. Actually I'd avoid it altogether but don't let that stop you :)

A good nearby alternative would be Annalakshmi, the veggie house restaurant of the Indian cultural complex Temple of Fine Arts. Less nearby but if your interest is in regional indian cuisine would be May and Mike's off Jalan Gasing (Malayalee home cooking). Either of these would be more interesting than the international chain Saravana Bhavan.

You are missing Malay food, a bit odd when visiting Malaysia. Some suggestions in KL : Pinang Masak in Bukit Tunku (closed Sun), Anis Putri in Pantai Dalam (lunch only, closed Fridays), Ikan Bakar Gerai 3 in Jalan Bellamy (lunch only, avoid Fridays).

You can google for specifics on their cuisine but at Anis, I especially recommend the gulai itik (duck stew), the ulam (salad herbs) and the fried chicken if they have the free-range ones that day, and at Jln Bellamy, the grilled ray, the grilled squid, the grilled terubok if you can handle fine fish bones (an increasingly uncommon oily fatty fish) and the salads. You'll need a taxi out of downtown to reach them but they are in less challenging neighbourhoods than Chow Kit (Anis Putri should also be reach-able on the commuter train).

It's rainy season at the moment - heavy downpours pretty much every afternoon. Try to avoid being stranded in heavy rain within Taman Negara and be prepared for leaches and much mud on the trails.

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

Your palate is as precise as your writing, Carole !

I last had Bones' fixed-menu in 2013 when it was a hot new opening and had fairly similar experiences as you (except that on one occasion my companions skipped the bread basket and filled up on extra orders of roast-pork sandwiches from the bar instead).

But I was getting very tempted to give it another go, on the back of a couple of recent glowing comments from others on this board, plus good experiences at the bar (excellent small plates at a late hour when it can be hard to find real food). Thanks for taking yet another for the team ...

Oct 22, 2014
shakti2 in France

Budget dining in Paris?

This thread is an excellent resource for thinking outside the box for eating well in Paris : http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8711...

Some of the suggestions are very centrally-located for sight-seeing : Song Heng in the 3rd, Hamadi in the 5th, Nioumre in Chateau Rouge (not too big a detour if you're already at the Sacre Coeur).

You already say you're deferring some stuff for a future trip - dining in more conventionally 'French' places could be one of those deferrals, but good food need not be.

Oct 21, 2014
shakti2 in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

+1 for Parn's rec le Meurice although not - gulp - a fashionista.

But it may be worth knowing that your splurge euros will go a lot further in San Seb than in Paris. My last meal at Meurice ran to 300-ish euros at lunch and while my recollection of our spend at Etxebarri is fuzzy, I'm pretty sure it was south of 150.

Oct 14, 2014
shakti2 in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

'Raw mandolin-sliced root vegetables'

Must confess I do rather love these, especially if lightly-pickled. But I can imagine their presence in place of actual chunks of the same veg must do wonders for the resto's bottom line.

Oct 14, 2014
shakti2 in France

our list/your opinion-- we've done our homework (i think!)

Different view to Phil : the only tough reservations mentioned so far seem to be Spring, Toutain, Clown Bar, and Bones if you want to go for the fixed-menu dinner (my own experience has been better with its more-casual no-reservation bar menu). I'd suggest sorting yourself out for the weekend where good places do get hectic, have a couple of no-resa back-ups in your pocket (Pierre Sang Boyer in Oberkampf is likely to be a good add for you) and then post again if you're in town and in need of ideas.

Better to be in the moment wherever you're currently honeymooning rather than having kittens over next week's dinner plans. Paris isn't like Rome - the bench of desirable restaurants is very deep and wide, there WILL be alternatives for whatever XYZ unavailable resto.

Oct 13, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

I've had that Bones lamb shoulder, shredded and sandwiched, good stuff. They've done suckling pig too, also terrific. Looking forward to Carole's review, am assuming it'll be for the main floor.

Oct 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

PARIS IN OCTOBER -- MUST EATS

+1 for Jia Jia where I have a weakness for the crab-only buns, not really trad and extortionately-priced, but irresistible anyway.

On Nanxiang Mantou (guessing that's where Pti ate in the Yuyuan), the Shanghainese part of my family would say those are Nanjing soup buns, not xiaolongbao.

Oct 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

PARIS IN OCTOBER -- MUST EATS

My god. I've gotten hired and hitched with the respective counterparties having significantly less info than this ...

Oct 10, 2014
shakti2 in France

Mirazur in Menton

Happily noting your views too and Parigi's too. I've not generally been a fan of the posher options on the coast but M. Colagreco's cuisine looks like a very different thing.

Oct 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

Mirazur in Menton

Thanks for the lovely review and pics Laidback. What glorious views (the marine one and the edible ones).

I'm finalising plans to go with friends and family later this year, on the strength of some very trusted recommendations, and am still wondering if it's the right call for a party whose attendees are on the record with their varying levels of dislike for 'molecular' and 'stars'. Your endorsement is reassuring, to say the least.

Oct 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

Not bad at all for a wet Monday !

Oct 07, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Best Bistros in Paris (Chez Denise, L'ami Louis or Aux Lyonnais)

Ah I see. Was mostly baffled by what the addition of tablecloths could do for a room whose main decorative element seems to be cartoon pigs :)

Is Camdeborde's really a model to aspire to ? Heaven knows when a local last ate dinner there given the need to buy a room-night to get a spot in the dining room. Whereas having a spot where he can be hands-on in the kitchen and generous with friends, family and fans seems important to Jego, who presumably could have monetised his following a long while back.

Oct 07, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Eric Briffard leaving Le Cinq

Parn is probably right. I know the Geneva property and its dining options don't stretch to the same aspirations as a Parisien 3-star palace, just an ok-ish modern Italian place and a somewhat less-than-ok Japanese fusion one.

Oct 07, 2014
shakti2 in France

Unagi LUNCH set in Tokyo with atmosphere/history

Sorry but I didn't at all say that Nodaiwa is indistinguishable from Hatsuogawa and Tamai. It is a very much more upscale restaurant, suitable for business entertaining, at which the multi-course kaiseki options are at least as popular as the single-box eel orders ie. starters, sashimi, nimono, eel/ rice, dessert.

Whereas the other 2 really only serve eel and rice plus related sides (fried bones, miso soup with the eel's liver etc) and are much more suitable if you are looking to drop in, eat and be on your way.

Oct 07, 2014
shakti2 in Japan