s

shakti2's Profile

Title Last Reply

Hong Kong - What area to stay in that is close to best restaurants?

Yes, please stay away from Sheung Wan, Tim's Kitchen, the Chairman, On Lot 10, the civic centre wet market and its food stalls, the old-school Teochew places, please please not worth your attention :)

More seriously for OP, HK is well-connected by its metro and bus lines, and served by (relatively) affordable taxis. I would decide on where to stay based on the non-food agenda, regardless of how low in priority it may be in relation to the eats.

For hanging out in shopping malls : TST, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay are the busy modern shopping and commercial hubs. Particularly interesting if you are keen on designer brands or gold jewelry. Sadly not so interesting if you are interested in street food - high rents make it increasingly difficult for even the most popular places to retain their old locations.

For street life : other than Sheung Wan, I like Tai Hang (a gentrifying neighbourhood of former car work-shops with a nice mix of local and imported cuisines) and have a soft spot for Mongkok (insanely hectic, street markets, lots of street food of varying quality).

Central : only if in town for work and then probably only if you work for the customer-facing part of a bank, with an entertainment budget to match (the low- and mid-priced options are increasingly dominated by chains and franchises).

Tapas Molecular Bar

Thanks for this Uncle Yabai, will probably contribute my 2 cents' worth of business the next time I'm in town.

It seldom occurs to me to try these Tokyo spin-offs since I travel to Europe often in any case, but location and price look right for a biz lunch, and your recs have always worked out pretty well for me ('first' or 'second' hand, whatever that means ...)

Sep 13, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Pot au Feu in Paris

Chaumette near Radio France in the 16th always has it on their menu and I think it'd be pretty good given the high standard of the other bistro classics we had. Caveat that I've only been once and it's a couple of years back now, but I've just had a look at their website and it looks like the chef and the pot au feu maison are still there.

Sep 12, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris In Early October

Yes, it's reliably available and generous, at least in my experience. You may want to confirm that your other dishes do not include additional foie as a garnish - many of their preparations for game birds do and it can be too much of a good thing if you already have a separate order.

Sep 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris from mid-September to mid-October!

Sounds like a superb plan.

For nearby croissants, I've had pretty good ones from an unpromising side street near Chatelet metro. The premises were festooned with awards including for their croissants, and I think I've just identified it on google as boulangerie Yhuel on rue Jean Lantier.

For what to add, perhaps check out Pages, a new Franco-Nipponais place in the 16th getting a lot of enthusiastic write-ups as 'the sensation of the rentree'. Looks like similar style of fixed-menu and price-point as AT and Sola (or at least when the latter first started out). Please post back !

Sep 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

Eating in Paris during an in-between hour and questions about Le Comptoir du Relais, A Noste, etc.

Greedy is good. Jealous of your mum, she sounds set for a lovely trip.

For a flexible off-hours meal, I'd just go to a cafe. Most will do salads, tartines/ sandwiches, grilled cheese and so on, along with a low-stress setting with nice people-watching. On the left bank, I like le Rostand for a big trad corner cafe (you can stroll through the Luxembourg gardens before or after) and cafe Trama for a more modern take in the heart of the left bank shopping area.

You should also check out Butte aux Cailles, a village-y bit of the 13th with its own resto/ bar/ boutique scene.

Sep 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

My Paris Restaurant Itinerary & Shopping List - Please review

Actually aged comte or other hard cheese (beaufort, older brebis etc) is good stuff to plan on bringing home, since it survives quite happily in a vacuum-sealed bag.

Don't get a huge chunk - get moderate-sized pieces say 250 g in separate vacuum-sealed baggies which can be opened and consumed quickly.

Sep 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris Eateries: Alain Ducasse's Favourites

More slummin' with Ducasse :

http://www.gillespudlowski.com/66935/...

Sep 11, 2014
shakti2 in France

barcelona/basque this week

I'd happily take Elkano in Getaria on the coast between SS and Bilbao over Ibai, given a choice. They seem to do a finer job at the dishes both restaurants serve in common (kokotxas, lobster) and then there's the great good cheer and enthusiasm of Elkano's host, his excellent english and their pretty little terrace on warmer days.

Whereas I've only been to Ibai once, years ago, in the company of Spanish-speaking friends known to the house, and the experience was so glum that I've not cared to repeat it, despite great enjoyment of its cuisine.

Getaria seems like a sweet place in its own right. Elkano is clearly the fanciest restaurant in town but there's a bunch of more casual places within sight of the fishing boats, a low-key pre-meal pintxo scene and a neighbourhoodly cafe on the 'main street' headed down to the big church. Also seems like a good place to buy canned fish for home, including the prized Cantabrian anchovies. I see you're basing yourself here ? Do please post more from your stay.

Sep 08, 2014
shakti2 in Spain/Portugal

What do dirt-poor French people eat?

Ouch. You on the other hand, are not toothless.

Sep 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

French Kids Don't Get Fat: Why?

'happy horseshit that's all sweeping generalization'

Well yes, there are a lot of personal anecdotes on this thread (yours included) but many people have posted links to data as well.

Sep 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

Our 1st time in Paris!! Want to do it right!!

Not a silly question but the unhelpful answer is 'depends'. If a place is small-ish, centrally-located and keenly-priced eg. Pirouette, then yes.

My own experience is that les Tablettes and others at that price-point or higher are generally pretty easy to walk into, or ring the morning of, if there are just the 2 of you.

Sep 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

Shokuyoku no Aki -- Delicious Autumn

A nice fat one, grilled. A perfect lunch with rice and pickles. Looking forward to having it later this month at Yanmo in Aoyama, a long-ago rec from this board (Uncle Yabai I think) which I go back to a lot.

Sep 08, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

My Paris Restaurant Itinerary & Shopping List - Please review

Such sensible advice, mangeur. My own sad lesson is throwing out the world's best (... fill in the blank - lime pickles, dashi flakes, sugar biscuits ...) because the said object turns out to have no place in my regular cooking or eating after having been triumphantly acquired and carried back from somewhere exotic. At least these days I give away as soon as I realize I am hoarding, not consuming.

For tastebud, sorry to keep piling on, but rillettes, country pates and confit are a big favourite in my household as drink-time nibbles, late-night snacks, and very successful gifts for greedy friends and family. Highly portable in cans, just heavy if you've been over-enthusiastic.

Get a couple for your train rides and figure whether you want more for home after. Oteiza carries a huge line but even the supermarket stuff can be fine.

Sep 06, 2014
shakti2 in France

Angéla is alive and hopping at 81 rue de Turbigo

Pork liver pate is a pretty standard addition to banh mi in Hanoi and HCMC. The stuff is very flavourful, grey-ish and often seems to come from a block with some cottage-industry type packaging around it. It's spread on like you would do with butter before all the other ingredients go on. It really made the sandwich for me but after a monumentally bad stomach upset a few years ago which carried over through all of the next day's flight out, I now ask for it to be left out.

I've read (on this board I think) that the pate spread is omitted in France because it would be considered too weird in combination with the meat.

Aug 31, 2014
shakti2 in France

Please help plan food centric vacation to Paris and possibly Lyon

On differences between lunch and dinner at a Paris 3-star, the biggest one is probably the availability of a fixed or limited-choice menu at lunch along with a carte and a tasting menu, and the carte and tasting menu only at dinner, with maybe a second or third choice of tasting menu. Otherwise the cuisine and format seldom deviates from the establishment's overall level of ambition - you'd have to be a pretty regular customer to register many differences (and even then these may be a function of seasonal menu-planning or the chef's whim). This is unlike Japan where a kaiseki or kappo restaurant might serve a 2,000 yen bento box in a casual way at lunch and a 30,000 yen menu with a much larger staff at dinner.

I'd also offer a nudge to re-think an overly-ambitious star-based dining plan (similar to Parigi's above 'where food is not everything'). A meal in a Paris 3-star palace is a peak dining experience in the same way that an evening at the opera is a peak musical experience, in that both are an extremely mannered performance requiring careful cultivation of some very specialised talents to produce, and an acquired taste requiring education and the right circumstances to appreciate, let alone enjoy.

The long duration and ornate cuisine and service of such a meal makes it an excellent setting for some occasions (conducting a delicate negotiation, plotting a conspiracy, renewing ties with old friends, turning an acquaintance into a new friendship or perhaps an intriguing stranger into a romance), but a pretty lousy one for others (a greedy good time with like-minded company such as Parigi describes, or an intimate meal with a loved one, or even the happy immediate pleasure of eating nothing more or less than just the right thing at just the right time).

There are so many ways to enjoy the latter in France, at lower cost and with lower effort !

Aug 30, 2014
shakti2 in France

A Europe Virgin needing help

Looks like a good fit with what you set out to do. My 2 cents -

- Add more casual/ modern meals to punctuate the 3 stars/ tasting menus. 5 large long meals over 10 days isn't unreasonable if you know that's what you like, but varying the routine will allow you to approach each meal with anticipation, rather than feeling like a forced march to the next production. You can combine meal time with exploring a neighbourhood - rue de Bretagne in the 3rd, rue des Martyrs in the 9th, the market area around place Aligre in the 12th, Batignolles in the 17th, Canal St. Martin in the 10th all have a nice mix of boutiques, food shops, restaurants, wine bars, cafes. Or handier to sight-seeing in central Paris, perhaps the area around the Palais Royale or the one in between the Luxembourg gardens and St. Germain.

In the 3rd I like Clown Bar and Aux Deux Amis, in the 9th, Caillebotte and Braisenville, but if you do a search, Parnassien has produced many love poems to these neighbourhoods in the past, with detailed recommendations. Just bear in mind that small popular restaurants in these areas do get slammed at peak meal-times and weekends - reservations are required.

- Go for lunch at Meurice and le Cinq rather than get too pained over your credit card. If you are prepared to eat a fixed menu at David Toutain, you should do fine with the fixed/ limited-choice lunch menus at the other restaurants - the difference between the lunch vs. dinner experience isn't perceptible except to a person who lives for 3-star restos.

Aug 28, 2014
shakti2 in France

Please help plan food centric vacation to Paris and possibly Lyon

Lyon is a good second destination from Paris, very easy trip by train, plenty to enjoy without further travel once you're there. You may also want to think about your level of interest in Lyonnaise cuisine - it is distinctive (rich and fatty) and not-so-traditional options will require a bit more investigation and planning, especially if you're there over a weekend.

If you are really interested in wine, I wouldn't rule out Dijon, Avignon or Bordeaux, which are well worth at least a couple of days in their own right, and from which you can join a half- or full-day tour for a flavour of their nearby wine-growing regions without getting a car of your own. Bordeaux, the furthest, is only 3.5 hours by train from Paris. Nice is lots of fun and very well-connected for exploring the Cote d'Azur but it's also a 5.5 hour train ride, somewhat long for a return trip in 4 days.

On eating-out costs, I actually think they are pretty similar between Paris and Tokyo. For someone who eats 'everything' and doesn't need a big range of à la carte options, Paris has lots of terrific options ranging from trad to modern at around 20 - 30 euros at lunch and 35 - 50 euros at dinner. For a 3-star kitchen, count on 150 euros at lunch and 350 euros at dinner.
In-between, it can be a bit of a mixed-bag - hard to tell when you are paying for the neighbourhood, the service aspirations or the cuisine. Similar to what Parigi is saying, I guess !

The gap between Paris and Tokyo is 'non fancy and super delicious'. Where Tokyo has lots of options for a thoughtfully-prepared sit-down lunch in an attractive location below 15 euros, you may be limited to a sandwich, a crowded counter or non-French in central Paris.

All prices before drinks but inclusive of service btw.

Aug 28, 2014
shakti2 in France

Paris to St. Sebastian through the Basque

Best to consult a specialist guide for the many many hikes in the area (trail heads are typically located off tiny hamlets and quite a few are graded for experienced hikers only).

A good one accessible from just before St. Etienne de Baigorry is the Iparla ridge circular route, which takes perhaps 5 hours, parts of it steep, but the largest section quite easy- going, on a spectacular ridge with superb views of Spain and France on either side.

Also accessible from St. Etienne is the road up and down col d'Espeguy, full of hairpin turns and great views, emerging on the Spanish side, from which you can return to Ainhoa on the French side, perhaps an hour's drive in all.

Also near St. Etienne, is an excellent spot for Sunday lunch, Ferme Landaburia, great product, somewhat modern cooking and in nice weather, a shaded terrace with bucolic views.

Aug 18, 2014
shakti2 in France

Beaunne/Paris (with kids) Trip report

A very fun read, too bad about all the hiccups but your kids sound like real troopers. Thanks for posting so candidly and enjoyably.

It also occurs to me that you had an inverse relationship between enjoyment vs. cost and/ or over-anticipation .... something to think about next time perhaps.

Aug 15, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Table etiquettes in France - anything to watch out for those from New Zealand?

Not really table etiquette but some random stuff which a lot of visitors I know have problems with :

- Finding a conventional hot meal outside regular lunch/ dinner hours can be difficult. I'd say just head straight to a cafe where you can get a salad, a burger or a grilled cheese sandwich to tide you over, without banging your head on other (closed) doors. Sunday night is also tricky in terms of finding a meal - your Chinese meal may be a good option then, or perhaps a casual couscous place.

- Allow at least 90 minutes each time you sit down for a conventional 2- or 3-course meal. Enjoying your meal and your dining companions is a big part of dining in France, and is how most eating establishments are set up, with perhaps 1 or 2 waiters looking after a small bistro. Again, no point banging your head against it, just go with the flow.

- Paris's very potable tap water is required by law to be available at eating establishments without charge : 'a carafe d'eau, s'il vous plait' will do it.

Enjoy your trip !

Aug 15, 2014
shakti2 in France

Question re. November Reservations - Restaurants I'm waiting to book and likelihood of availability/issues

This thread has been a fascinating read, but is it really a phenomenon or just the coincidence of 2 extreme tourists being very prominent posters on this board at the same time ?

IRL I send first-timer friends, family and co-workers to my regular sushi/ kappo places reasonably often and the ones clutching their copy of the Michelin list invariably report back happy and grateful to have eaten well at alternative destinations without encountering the insanity over reservations which they've heard or read about.

Aug 12, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Olivier Laflaive, Pugliny Montrachet tasting dinner

For drinking/ tasting rather than eating, there are a couple of excellent bars in the area - Bar du Square in Beaune and Chez Bruno in Dijon. Bruno has a blackboard of options by the glass (not exclusively burg) plus a formidable burg-based cellar, Bar du Square didn't have its selection so clearly marked, but had many open bottles from which they were pouring tastes for interested drinkers and also a great cellar. Great hospitality and knowledge at both places (Bar du Square's proprietor is Romain Escoffier, whose parents are behind Ma Cuisine) and a great vibe overall - these are the sort of places where you find yourself swapping glasses or splitting bottles with strangers at the counter, although it helps to be French-speaking, few tourists when I've been there. Only ham, cheese and the like by way of food though.

Aug 08, 2014
shakti2 in France

7 nights in Paris with adult sons

Actually, be aware that Yam'tcha, Septime and Saturne are fixed-menu only at dinner, along w. Chateaubriand, if you *must* have choices. Le Tagine in the 11th is a good option for not-French near the Marais, with stew-y comfort food on the menu, a thoughtful wine-list and very warm hosts.

Aug 04, 2014
shakti2 in France
1

Sushisho Masa vs. Sushi Yoshitake?

At the fish market, I would either get a don-buri or noodles, or else walk a couple of blocks to have a proper lunch in Ginza, having had some entirely forgettable sushi at one of the less-busy places before. As to where in Ginza, here are some of Ninisix's recs with a focus on nigiri-based options (but re-check the address info to make sure it's current) :

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/891857

Wrt to Iwa, just a heads-up that the chef also alternates with his HK location.

Aug 03, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Sushisho Masa vs. Sushi Yoshitake?

Can't comment on Yoshitake but the 'sho' style is nice to experience while in Japan, since it doesn't really get reproduced elsewhere. Why not spend up at dinner for 'sho' and then have a more classic nigiri-based lunch which need not be too terribly expensive to be better than what you've had outside Japan (Ninisix has provided many many recommendations on this board) ?

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Dining Suggestions Near the Tokyo Westin

Yes, plenty to eat in Ebisu.

I like Kappo R, a grill place with modern izakaya items including some stylish salads, plus a full grilled-chicken menu, not particularly expensive (1-13-3 Ebisu) and Kyo-shizuku, Kyoto cuisine, set menus in the evening, a bit more expensive (1-12-25 Meguro). Near Kappo R, you also have the original Afuri ramen and an ice-cream place Ouca which has an interesting range of local flavours.

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in Japan

Good coffee in Paris?

Acidity in coffee is in inverse proportion to the degree of roasting. The same bean will taste more 'acidic' when lightly-roasted, acquire a more 'mellow' 'full-bodied' character as you roast it darker, until it is burnt and then tastes charred and 'thin'. 'Over-roasted and acidic' seems improbable to me.

More explanation : http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee...

Espresso needs the darker roast whereas a good high-country lightly-roasted arabica bean does best with a filter - why subject all the distinctive flavour you're paying for to excessive heat and pressure? I can certainly see how a light roast can produce a sour espresso, which is a double waste - a nasty drink and a waste of beans which may well have brewed into a good cup otherwise (and this sounds like Pti's issue with fashionable coffee).

I've last had a really terrific espresso at Cafeotheque in the 4th, unfortunately alongside chaotic and cranky service on a crowded weekend. Am afraid I'm in the camp that finds San Jose's coffee burnt-tasting.

Aug 02, 2014
shakti2 in France
2

Roseval

What sad news. I went a couple of months ago on both your recs, had a really excellent experience (beautifully-cooked well-thought-through fixed menu, kind waiter, low-key neighbourhoodly vibe with a friendly lab at the next table), as have a couple of friends plus a visiting sibling who subsequently gave it a go.

Everyone particularly liked the ability to reserve/ drop in at short notice, not usually a given at trendy eastern Paris places with small rooms and limited telephone-answering capacity.

Aug 01, 2014
shakti2 in France

August Beaune/Paris draft at last!

From memory, Meursault has the liveliest town centre around those parts short of heading back into Beaune. There are a couple of inexpensive cafe/ bistro type places around the main square, and a more ambitious place 'Le Chevreuil' which should be google-able.

But why not just ask your hotel for suggestions and leave it to them to ring around in search of a dinner table, while you head out to enjoy the day ?

Aug 01, 2014
shakti2 in France