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A week in Hong Kong: Please help critique! Any Must Eats?

Thank you so much HK veterans for all the advice and wonderful photos! I have been busy making reservations and updating our itinerary accordingly. Would you recommend the Chairman for lunch or dinner? Would you recommend one hotpot meal and if so, where?

Day 1 Friday Mongkok:
Lunch: dim sum at Tim Ho Wan (Olympian City/Sham Sui Po)
Snacks: Honeymoon Dessert with friend
Dinner: Chee Kee noodles (or Good Hope Noodle)/ Lau Sam Kee

Day 2 Saturday:
Lunch: Spring Deer for peking duck (yes we are greedy and can finish a whole duck :) I tried to make a dinner reservation but there was no availability before 9pm, so I made a lunch reservation instead.
Snack: Australian Dairy Company
Dinner: Mak Man Kee

Day 3 Sunday:
Lunch: Ming Court reservation made

Day 4 Friday Causeway Bay:
Lunch: Xin Dau Ji
Dinner: Sister Wah or Joy Hing

Day 5 Saturday:
Lunch: Fu Sing reservation made (dim sum with friends)
Dinner: Tai Ping Koon (or Loyal Dining) - my fiance loves the beef chow fun with Swiss sauce but I will order one of the other recommended dishes

Day 6 Sunday:
Lunch: Tak Kee
Dinner: Kwan Kee Claypot

Day 7 Monday:
Breakfast: Sing Heung Yuen
Lunch: The Chairman. Making a reservation didn't seem too difficult but maybe it's because it's a weekday. My fiance is not too excited by the menu online since he's not into seafood, but I would like to give it a try. The fried house dried jumbo oysters sounds amazing but seems to be missing from the menu :( Would the dinner set menu for 2 at $578/person be a better choice since it seems to encompass most of the recommended dishes, as opposed to the lunch set for 4 courses at $218 or ordering lunch a la carte? is it too much to order the whole crispy chicken? http://www.thechairmangroup.com/index...
Dinner: Yat Lok/Kau Kee/Mak An Kee (we will try to make it to Yat Lok for roasted goose. My fiance prefers suckling pig but it will be good to try this Cantonese specialty.

)

Day 8 Tuesday:
Lunch: Fook Lam Moon for dim sum or the Manor/Seventh Son for suckling pig or hotpot at Tanyoto/Megan's Kitchen/San Xi Lou (any recs?)
Dinner: Tasty (airport)

Thank you again and we look forward to sharing our experiences!

Dec 02, 2013
arnage in China & Southeast Asia

A week in Hong Kong: Please help critique! Any Must Eats?

My fiancé and I booked a last minute trip to Hong Kong! We are arriving next Friday morning (from nyc) and will be in Mongkok (Langham Place) until Sunday afternoon (2.5 days). After a brief 4 day side trip, we will be back in Hong Kong the following Friday morning, and will stay in Causeway Bay (Pennington Hotel) until Tuesday afternoon (4.5 days).

I speak Mandarin and can read a little, while my fiancé speaks minimal Cantonese. We haven't been back to Hong Kong in 8 years (had two brief prior trips) and are very excited to experience good Cantonese (and other Asian) cuisine. We enjoy dim sum, noodles, roasted meats, peking duck, hotpot, desserts (tung yuan, egg tarts, pudding etc) My fiancé does not enjoy seafood unless it's raw or fried, and I will try anything. I love spicy food but he can't eat too spicy so we may try one Szechuan meal (San Xi Lou?).

Any good places for peking duck, all you can eat hotpot, milk tea (with tapioca), zhaliang with peanut butter sauce, 鹹水角, steamed egg custard bun, fried taro puff, fried rice ball with sesame filling?

We would like to keep most meals under 400HKD/person, but will splurge up to 800HKD/person for a few meals. We also need to bring friends out to eat a nice meal near Causeway Bay and want to keep that meal to around 400 HKD/person.

Please help critique my itinerary:
Day 1 Friday Mongkok:
Lunch: dim sum at Tim Ho Wan
Dinner: Mui Kee congee
Snacks: Tai Cheong

Day 2 Saturday:
Lunch: dim sum Ming Court
Dinner: Spring Deer/ Yan Toh Heen/Empire City (which for Peking Duck?)

Day 3 Sunday:
Lunch: Chee Kee noodles (or Good Hope Noodle)/Mos Burger
or should we splurge for Above & Beyond?
Snacks: Honeymoon Dessert

Day 4 Friday Causeway Bay:
Lunch: Xin Dau Ji
Dinner: Se Wong Yee

Day 5 Saturday:
Lunch: Fu Sing
Dinner: Tai Ping Koon (or should we try Loyal Dining?)

Day 6 Sunday:
Lunch: Sister Wah/Wing Wah
Dinner: Joy Hing/Chan Kan Kee

Day 7 Monday:
Breakfast: Sing Heung Yuen
Lunch: Mak An Kee/ Kau Kee Restaurant
Dinner: Peking Garden (tried on our last trip. are the places in TST better?)

Day 8 Tuesday:
Lunch: Din Tai Fung
Dinner: Tasty (airport)

Desserts/snacks Days 4-8: Cong Sao, Chung Kee, Danish Bakery, Ching Ching Dessert, Honolulu coffee shop, Kam Fung, Tai Cheong, Kung Lee, Lan Fong Yuen

We would consider venturing out for Hung's delicacies, Kwan Kee or Tak Kee one of the latter days. Wish we had more time! We need to make a trip to Repulse Bay to visit relatives. Any must eats while out there?

Are any of these other restaurants not to be missed: The Manor, Lei Garden, Fook Lam Moon, Yeung Kee, the Chairman, Luk Yu Teahouse? Should we bring our friends out to Fu Sing or some other place?

Thank you in advance! We will be sure to report back :)

Nov 30, 2013
arnage in China & Southeast Asia

Alternates to Torishiki

Hi,
I'd like to recommend Fuku, which we thought was a great yakitori place, perhaps our favorite meal while in Japan.

It's rather difficult to find, but once you get there, it shouldn't disappoint.

Prices were reasonable, and we ordered very liberally. The bill was only 8000yen for two. highlights include the chicken meatballs, chicken and leeks, and bacon wrapped mochi. we tried the chicken sashimi as we had never had this dish before, but didn't like it.

One issue is that the restaurant is a bit difficult to find. we followed one of the chowhounders' instructions which were precise but we circled the same street a few times and had to ask several people. the sand colored facade is very nondescript but the trek is well worth it!

I've attached a couple photos for your consideration..

Chicken + leek
Chicken neck (with onion on top)
Bacon wrapped mochi

Sep 15, 2013
arnage in Japan
1

Japan Review 10 days through Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo

As to the okonimyaki, we've always been fans of it, so we did not mind going out of our way (if it meant so) to try different variations. Osaka is known for okonomiyaki as well as takoyaki, so it's worth trying them if you're there. Hiroshima is also quite well known for okonomiyaki -- and their style tends to be larger, while incorporating a good amount of noodles.

we'd like to try "wasabi" next time -- an upscale skewer restaurant where they deep fry everything. it's in Osaka and requires a reservation (otherwise we would have tried eating there when we stumbled across it). it's been mentioned by others on chowhound. similarly, there's a michelin star rated yakitori place named "Ayamuya Yakitori," but of course it was all booked up when I tried to make a reservation. there's always next time.

I've attached a few photos okonomiyaki

The first is from Osaka (restaurant called Mizuno .. dotonbori)

The second and third pictures are from Hiroshima (restaurant called Hassei)

Sep 15, 2013
arnage in Japan

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Hi Foodie_Phil, I did post an extensive review of our trip immediately afterwards: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904189
Please check previous postings before making any assumptions next time.

Sep 13, 2013
arnage in Japan

Tokyo - 7 days of eating

I would definitely book Fuku!!! It was our favorite restaurant out of our 10 day trip to Japan. Maybe also try Narutomi soba in Ginza or Rokurinsha in Tokyo station or sky tree for ramen.

Jun 03, 2013
arnage in Japan

Japan Review 10 days through Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo

We had an amazing first trip to Japan! Thank you to everyone who helped us make our trip so memorable. We tried to fit in as many meals as possible. Below are our experiences:

Day 1 Osaka
Breakfast: we bought a bunch of snacks at the local convenience store like 7-11. the best treat was the corn dog! it was fresh and only 105yen. it's available at most of the convenience stores and we'd highly recommend it. we must have had the corn dog at least 5 more times during our trip.
Lunch: Kiji: this was our first meal in Japan and the okonomiyaki was
solid. the server was friendly and it wasn't too crowded when we arrived before noon. there is no english menu and the server spoke very limited english so we just shared one yakisoba and one pork okonomiyaki and they were both good. we saw someone next to us order some dish with some type of egg on top that looked good. i wouldn't go out of my way to eat here but since we wanted to check out the Umeda sky observatory, the location in the basement of the building was very convenient.
Early Dinner: Mizuno: this was our favorite restaurant in Osaka and we'd visit again. there was no wait when we went at 6pm but by the time we left, there were a few people waiting. we shared the 3 different okonomiyaki sets and all of them were so fresh and tasty!
Late Dinner: Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Yokocho: we read about this restaurant in the NY Times and wanted to try the Matsusaka beef. Since we already had dinner, we both ordered the 2500yen top quality beef set. The meat portion was tiny and would not be sufficient for hungry diners. It only came with 8 pieces of beef each plus a few veges. One of the beef cuts was incredible but we weren't sure of the cut.

Day 2 Nara
Lunch: Maguro Koya: Amazing tuna! My fiancé ordered a fatty tuna rice bowl with layers of tuna and rice, with some sweet soy sauce seasoning. This was delicious! I ordered fatty tuna sashimi which came with miso soup and a bowl of white rice. We also ordered tuna karage which tasted like the Japanese fried chicken. I didn't like the fried dish so much and it was just too much food for two people. We spent about 3500 yen for two.
Dinner: Udon-tei: great value. My fiancé ordered a udon set with fried pork cutlet/egg over rice, plus a bowl of udon with a tempura shrimp. His tempura shrimp was soggy bc it was soaked in the soup but everything else was good. I ordered a bowl of udon with 2-3 tempura shrimps and the shrimp was served separately so it kept its crunchiness. Dinner was only 2000yen.

Day 3 Kyoto
Lunch: Tosuiro Tofu: we made the last lunch seating at 2pm and ordered the two cheapest lunch sets. everything was delicious. they provide free refills of the cold tofu. we were glad we tried Kyoto tofu. Lunch was around 5500yen for two.
Dinner: Wabiya Korekido: we had yakitori here because it was relatively close to Kiyomizudera Temple. The restaurant was very nice and seemed more upscale than normal yakitori places. The location only allowed foreigners to choose between three different sets of menu and we picked the most expensive one at around 6500yen. Everything was delicious and it was one of our favorite meals. We think it's comparable to Yakitori Tori Shin in nyc. (However we enjoyed Fuku in Tokyo even more).

Day 4 Hiroshima/Miyajima
Lunch: Hassei: it was pretty empty when we went on a Saturday at 1:30pm. we had two half portions of different okonomiyakis. we had one with udon noodles and one with soba noodles. we prefer the one with the soba noodles. the half portions are huge and what other restaurants would consider a normal portion. would highly recommend as a place to visit for Hiroshima style okonomiyaki near peace park.
Dinner: Watanabe Ryokan in Miyajima. the kaiseki dinner that came with our stay was delicious. highlights included the duck and the steak. the male owner is a bit impatient though.

Day 5 Miyajima/Kyoto
Lunch: Anago Meshi at Watanabe Ryokan restaurant. I wanted to go to Ueno but since it was pouring rain, our relative from Hiroshima wanted to eat anago meshi at our ryokan as he said it's famous in Miyajima. It was very good. I still want to try Ueno next time.
Dinner: Shiraume ryokan: the kaiseki dinner that came with our stay was even more delicious than the previous night. highlights included kobe steak (and i don't even like steak) and sesame ice cream. service was impeccable.

Day 6 Kyoto
Lunch: Yoshikawa: our only tempura meal and it was excellent. there was only one other diner at the counter seating when we went at 2pm. we both ordered the most expensive lunch set at 4000yen each. the batter is light and crispy. it was fun to watch the chef. however my fiancé does not really understand the idea of high end tempura and probably wouldn't pay for it again.
Snack: Gion Kinana Honten: the ice cream palor is hidden in an alley and at first i thought it was the restaurant next door that was closed (as it had some of the same kanji characters) but then after asking some locals, we finally found it. the fresh soy ice cream was by far the best ice cream by far. the Japanese parfait was good except for the odd vegetable/herb flavored ice cream. my fiancé ordered the berry parfait and liked it. we spent about 3000 yen, which is quite expensive for ice cream.
Dinner: Izuju: we arrived at 7pm which was the restaurant's closing time (not 8pm as I had noted). however they kindly allowed us to order takeout which was perfect as we were taking the train to tokyo. they said everything was sold out except for the inari and mackerel sushi, so we ordered two sets of inari and one set of mackerel (we are not big fans of mackerel). it was only around 3500yen. my fiancé really liked the inari and i liked the mackerel a bit more. the kyoto style sushi has a lot of rice though so it's very filling.

Day 7 Tokyo
Lunch: Tonkatsu Maisen: terrific black pork tonkatsu. My fiancé ordered the black pork tonkatsu rice bowl with egg and I ordered the tonkatsu fillet. They were both tasty. It was around 4000yen. He then bought an edamame croquette in the Maisen stand outside the restaurant.
Snack#1: Angel crepes at Harajuku: this was huge and filling. we ordered the strawberry, cream, vanilla ice cream and cheesecake flavor. it was good to try but i wouldn't order it often as it's pretty sweet.
Snack#2: Calbee chips at Harajuku: it was really fun to watch them fry the chips. we ordered the original herb and salt flavor? it was really good and only 220yen for a small tub. we want to try another flavor such as cheese or hot n spicy.
Snack#3: Pierre Herme: we were looking for our favorite vanilla tarte from paris but sadly they discontinued it. we ordered an ispaphan, which is a large rose macaroni sandwich with fresh raspberries and cream. it was even better than i remembered. we also ordered another tarte that the server said is similar to the vanilla tarte but it wasn't as good.
Dinner: Fuunji ramen: this is a tiny hole in the wall. we started panicking because none of the patrons near us spoke English and we couldn't read the vending machine but one of the chefs came out and tried to help us. he basically told us the most popular dishes which is what we ordered. we wish we could have added an egg when we saw other people eating them. my fiancé ordered the most popular dipping ramen and i ordered the ramen with the soup in the bowl already. the broth is very thick and tasty but slightly fishy. it was really good but i think we still prefer ippudo, where the soup base doesn't have a fishy taste to it.

Day 8 Tokyo
Lunch: Sushi Iwa: Sushi Iwa didn't serve us as we forgot to request it but the friendly chef next to him served us. the chef spent his childhood in san francisco and spoke fluent English which was helpful. we both ordered the 8000yen omakase which came with 13 pieces of nigiri, a tuna roll, a vegetable roll and miso soup. the sushi was incredible and Chef Iwa served us our last nigiri which was the best piece of eel we had on our trip. it was a great experience.
Snack: Hidemi Sugino: we got there too late around 4pm and there was barely anything left. We ordered a cheese/mango mouse cake which was good, and a raspberry mousse cake which was too sweet. we saw them bring out a plate of cakes (that we didn't see in the display case) to another patron but maybe he ordered it ahead of time.
Dinner#1: Nodaiwa at Nihonbashi Takashimaya: we both ordered the unagi sets and I ordered 310grams and he ordered the layered rice/eel one with 300grams of eel. They were too many bones in the eel and one bone scratched my throat for awhile. I really liked Nodaiwa though and would go back. My fiancé thought it was overpriced for eel and doesn't understand the concept of michelin star eel.
Dinner#2: Rokurinsha in Tokyo Station. We only waited about 20 minutes at 9pm and the server helped us with an English menu so it was much easier to use the vending machine here. My fiancé preferred this place to Fuunji ramen. he said it may also be attributed to the nicer environment. we would visit Rokurinsha again. too bad i was too full to enjoy it. i only ate half my bowl.

Day 9 Nikko/Tokyo
Lunch: green tea donut from crispy creme. it was good but not worth going out of your way for. we bought the donuts because we were in a rush to catch the train to Nikko.
Dinner: Fuku: this was probably our favorite meal of our entire trip! we ordered crazy amounts of food as it was our last night and the bill was only 8000yen for two. highlights include the chicken meatballs, chicken and leeks and bacon wrapped mochi. we tried the chicken sashimi since we had never had this dish before but didn't like it. the restaurant is a bit hard to find. we followed one of the chowhounders instructions which was precise but we circled the same street a few times and had to ask several people. the sand colored facade is very nondescript but the trek is well worth it!

Day 10 Tokyo
Lunch: Katsukura in Takashimaya Shinjuku: we ordered the two most expensive tonkatsu sets here since it was our last meal and thoroughly enjoyed it. they were the tonkatsu with the Japanese pork (rather than Canadian pork) and were very tasty. It was really fun to grind our own sesame seeds to make our sauce for the tonkatsu. we preferred the food here slightly over Tonkastsu Maisen but maybe it's an unfair comparison because we ordered more expensive dishes. the bill was around 6500yen.

As a sidenote, it was very hard to find some of the restaurants and we had to rely on google maps, studying directions prior, and writing down the Japanese name and address in Japanese (so we can ask people on the road). The most helpful Japanese phrase I learned was "Where is _____?" ( _______ wa doko desuka?).

Some restaurants we wish we had tried so we will have to plan another trip: Sushi Dai, Sushi Taichi, Narutomi Soba, Takoyaki Wanaka, Omen Noodles, Yamamoto Menzo, Ueno, Sumibi Torito. Thank you again to all the chowhounders who contributed to our plan and I hope our reviews help out future travelers :)

Jun 03, 2013
arnage in Japan
1

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Thank you so much everyone!

Silverjay, thanks so much for the in depth descriptions of the Ramen places. We had mentioned to some friends from Japan that we love Ippudo and have waited two hours to eat there. They looked at us like we were crazy. We definitely want to try Rokurinsha and Fu'unji, and hope to make it one more ramen place.

Killersmile, we can't wait to try the anago.

Ninisix, we will try Sushi Iwa. Concierge tried to reserve Kandagawa but they wouldn't accept a reservation from a party without a Japanese patron :(

We will report back :)

May 12, 2013
arnage in Japan

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Thank you so much for all the helpful advice!

biwakobarry, concierge tried to book Ayamuya for any lunch or dinner next week but was told they are completely full for May. we should have done our homework sooner :(

We booked Sumibi Torito but was told there is no upstairs. Do we have the wrong restaurant 075 752 4144 ?

In Hiroshima, we have decided to try Hassei for a quick lunch since it's near peace park.

E Eto, thank you for all the tips! Unagi and mochi are two of my favorite things. I am definitely going to try to eat at Ueno and will look for nama-momiji.

We may now replace the Nodaiwa dinner with unagi Kandagawa.

Ninisix, this cleared up the confusion about Sushi Iwa. I went again and re-read your threads on Sushi Iwa. Would you recommend Sushi Taichi or Sushi Iwa if we are only having one sushi meal in Japan? Thanks again.

It seems all the ramen places I have on my radar are tsukemen which we have never tried before so that should be fun. However one of our favorite ramen places in nyc is Ippudo (which I know is not well regarded in Japan) as we love ramens with a rich pork broth. Are there are good ramen places that have the same style? We don't want to visit Ippudo since we can do that in nyc or other parts of Asia.

Thank you everyone! We can't believe we'll be in Japan next week :)

May 10, 2013
arnage in Japan

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Thank you for your kind replies!

biwakobarry: what do you think of Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Yokocho or should I choose Ayamuya Yakitori for dinner? Are there any good, quick eats around my hotel Hankyu International (Umeda)?

Ninisix, thank you for your helpful tips! I just read that Chef Iwa has left Sushi Iwa and the restaurant is now named Sushiya. I'm quite sad as I was looking forward to lunch there. Do you have another suggestion for a nice sushi lunch (around $100/person)? Would Sushi Tachi fill that spot?

If I really want to try a nice (less than $100/person) tempura restaurant, which do you recommend? Is Tempura Tsunahachi at 3-31-8 Shinjuku a good choice? I read your posts recommending Tenmatsu. Or should we splurge for Yokota? Or skip tempura completely (we are having a tempura meal in Kyoto).

Would you recommend Ramen Jiro or Fuunji in Shinjuku? Should we trek for Warito or Suzuran ramen?

Are there any good places to grab a bite before 10am (prior to our flight)in Shinjuku?

Thank you so much!

May 08, 2013
arnage in Japan

10 days to eat our way through Japan: Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Tokyo...Please help!

Hi Chowhounders, my fiancé and I are really excited about our first trip to Japan in two weeks. We are unusually late on the planning and would appreciate any input. Japanese cuisine is our favorite so we are not looking to explore Western cuisines during our trip. Also, we are not looking for Kaiseki meals as we are booked at two Ryokans. We love all types of Japanese food including tempura, yakitori, tonkatsu, eel, sushi, ramen, soba, udon etc. We would like to keep our meals under $100 USD (10,000 yen) per person and have tried to keep our pricier meals at lunch but may splurge if it's incredible. My fiancé does not drink any type of alcohol but I will drink some wine occasionally. We also enjoy Japanese sweets/pastries and I especially love mochi/pudding/ice cream!

Please help critique our food itinerary! Thank you in advance :)

Osaka:
Tuesday May 14
arrive at Kansai at 6:30pm, aim to arrive at Hotel Hankyu International (Umeda) by 9pm
Quick dinner at: Kiji (Okonomiyaki) if we are not too tired. any other suggestions for closer quick eats?

Wednesday May 15: Nara (stay overnight in Osaka)
Lunch: Hiraso or Sanshu-tei or Shizuka
Dinner: Udon-tei or Maguro Koya
Snack: Yomogimochi

Thursday May 16: Osaka
Lunch: Kiji (if haven't tried) otherwise maybe quick breakfast at Painduce
Snack: Mizuno/ Takoyaki Doraku Wanaka or Takoyaki-kun
Dinner: Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M Houzenji Yokocho or Koyoshi Sushi or Kamatake Udon or Daruma (they're all so different but wasn't sure which is a must try and we don't want to eat at Kanidoraku Honten)
Sweets: Boulangerie Takeuchi (does anyone know the new address?) / boulangerie takagi

Friday May 17: Kyoto (stay overnight in Osaka)
Lunch: Tenyu or Yoshikawa (or skip tempura in Kyoto and try Isshin)
Dinner: Izuju or Wabiya Korekido (Yakitori) or Sumibi Torito
Snacks: Heianden

Saturday May 18: Hiroshima/Miyajima (overnight at Miyajima at Watanabe Ryokan)
Lunch: (still researching)
Dinner: ryokan

Sunday May 19: Kyoto (overnight at Shiraume ryokan)
Lunch: Omen Noodles or Yamamoto Menzo
dinner: ryokan
Snacks: Tsurujuan/ Gion Kinana Honten

Monday May 20 (take late train to Tokyo, staying at Southern Century Tower hotel in Shinjuku)
lunch: Tosuiro or Okutan Kiyomizu (or Yaoya no Nikai)
dinner: Katsukura Sanjohonten
Snacks: Honda Miso Honten (sweets/gifts) / Nikiniki

Tuesday May 21 Tokyo
Breakfast: Sushi Dai
Lunch: Narutomi
Dinner: Fuku (or Torishiki if I can get a reservation which I doubt?)

Wednesday May 22 (day trip to Nikko)
Breakfast/Lunch: Rokurinsha
Dinner: Tonkatsu Maisen (or Tonki?)

Thursday May 24 Tokyo
Lunch: Sushi Iwa (good choice for one more expensive sushi meal?)
Dinner: Nodaiwa or Obana? (or will our budget be blown for dinner?)

Friday May 25 Tokyo
Lunch: Ten Ichi or tsunahachi or tentei
(afternoon flight from Narita)

We will report back :)

May 01, 2013
arnage in Japan

Advice for lunch near Rome's main tourist sights

You only need a reservation at Romeo if you want to sit at the restaurant in the back that serves pasta etc. If you just want a late lunch such as pizza/sandwiches, you can buy those at the counter in the front. There are tables where you can sit down for the pizza/sandwiches.

Taverna dei Fori Imperiali was half empty when we went for weekday lunch. Make sure to order the pappardelle!

Roscioli bakery and il Forno Campo di Fiori are 10-20min walk from Pantheon area and are good for a light meal/snacks. We didn't have time to try il Forno Campo di Fiori but heard the pizza is good there as well. At Roscioli bakery, you buy your pizzas/sweet treats at the counter, then you can sit down at bar benches in the back to eat. It's not a formal seating place.

Jan 17, 2013
arnage in Italy

Advice for lunch near Rome's main tourist sights

I had a great lunch at Taverna dei Fori Imperiali before walking 5minutes to the Roman Forum/Palatine Hills/Colosseum. (Tip: buy your combo tickets at the Roman Forum first to skip the long line at the Colosseum and be aware all three attractions close at 3:30. We found out the hard way and had to return the next day to go inside the Colosseum).

I would recommend Romeo after the Vatican. It's easy to find, the food is delicious and you can sit down. Also, check out Grom for hot chocolate and Roscioli bakery for pizza with sauce/cheese! Perilli is also good for hearty pastas. Read my trip report for more details.

Jan 16, 2013
arnage in Italy

Trip Report: Taormina, Sorrento, Rome and Florence!

Thank you to all the wonderful Chowhounders who helped us extensively! We had an amazing time in Italy and would love to visit again. I hope you enjoy reading our trip report below:

Taormina: to our disappointment most of the restaurants we researched were closed when we visited in December, due to the low season (including Ristorante Pizzeria Villa Zuccaro and Laboratorio Pasticceria Roberto). We wasted more than an hour looking for closed restaurants. Locals also recommended the restaurant Granduca for pizza which happened to be closed on Tuesday (the day we were there). We finally bought pizza at a random restaurant and it was terrible. However, locals also recommend D'Amore for cannolis and we really enjoyed the freshly filled cannolis at this pretty bakery. The cannoli filling is a little lighter and sweeter than the US (in places such as Veniero's in nyc), but still excellent. We also went to Bam Bar for granita and found the strawberry too sweet, but we ordered the dark chocolate, and the lovely owners made us fresh whipped cream on top. It was a nice treat but we much prefer a true gelato/ice cream.

Sorrento:

Bar Rita is a really cute bakery with lots of yummy savory and sweet treats. It was packed when we went around 2pm on a weekday. We tried various items including the arranchini (fried rice ball) which was interesting but we probably wouldn't order it again. The croquette and cannoli were mediocre. The sfogliatella was quite good.

Pizza Da Franco: cute small pizzeria with long wooden benches. You can see the real brick pizza oven which is neat. The restaurant was about 1/5 full when we went on a weekday around 3pm. We had excellent margheurita pizza with thin crust. We also ordered a pizza with a lot of toppings and that was good too!

Rome:

Taverna dei Fori Imperiali: due to our limited time, we skipped the L'Asino d'Oro daily menu in favor of eating here. I was a little nervous due to the mixed reviews but the restaurant did not disappoint. My fiance ordered a papperdelle with bacon, egg, and pecorino cheese and I ordered a ravioli with duck ragu and both were excellent (though slightly salty)! We would have come back here again for another meal if our stay was longer.

Roscioli Bakery: the white pizza was horrible, stale and tasteless. I think we bought an old piece. The pizza with sauce/cheese was one of the best (if not the best) pizza we had on our trip. It was so delicious! Make sure you wait for fresh pizza to be brought out before ordering. We later ordered pizza with sauce, but no cheese and that was good, but not as memorable. I wanted to try an apple crostada but they didn't have it.

Grom: amazing hot chocolate! I wish we had this in nyc. thanks for the rec gmcguireinrome:)

Giolitti: mediocre ice cream. The coconut was too sweet - do not order. Also, they yelled at us for not paying first. The lady at the teller was really rude to tourists but was really friendly to a local Italian.

San Crispino: really friendly server but the ice cream was mediocre as well. We ordered pear, orange/mandarin orange, and concord grape. The mandarin orange was the best.

Trattoria Perilli: we came for dinner after a tiring day of sightseeing. The nice waiter seemed to be used to tourists and ordered a carbonara rigatoni and amatriciana rigatoni for us. He ordered so fast and authoritatively that we didn't realize he ordered both rigatoni dishes. I'm not a fan of rigatoni and we should have ordered a different noodle like spaghetti. Many other patrons ordered a giant artichoke heart to share. The pasta was good/hearty but just too much rigatoni altogether (our fault!). Then he recommended a meat dish, veal or pork, which was mediocre. We ordered the tiramisu which was excellent but different from the cake variety in the US. Their tiramisu comes in a tin bowl and has a marshmallow consistency on top. I would recommend Perilli but next time we would order different types of pastas.

Romeo: thank you minchilli for this rec! It was only a few blocks from the Vatican and very easy to find (much easier than the directions to Pizzarium looked to be). We ordered some pizza and a panini at the first counter on the right which were really tasty, and it was nice to be able to sit. We also ordered a spaghetti with red sauce from the actual restaurant and it had the sweetest sundried tomatoes. There was no seating available at the restaurant inside but the nice waiter ordered it for us and bought it over to the communal tables where you eat your takeout food.

Florence

All'Antico Vinaio: best sandwich ever! This is one of our favorite things we ate on our trip. The server was so nice and helped us make the most yummy concoctions on foccacia bread. We had half a porchetta sandiwch with truffle spread and half a prosciutto sandwich with amazing eggplant. A MUST visit after the Uffizzi museum!

Gelateria dei Neri: much better gelato than what we had in Rome. The Fig&Cheese flavor was AMAZING! It sounds odd but is really good. I wish we had some right now. The chocolate with chili was spicy and interesting but I wish they made it with dark chocolate instead of milk. My fiance ordered the mixed berry sorbet but he really wish he ordered my fig&cheese flavor.

Gelateria Santa Trinita: really good gelato again! There seems to be a really good gelato shop on every block in Florence. We ordered the mascarpone gelato which was fantastic! The pistachio was good, but not memorable. I ordered the hot chocolate on a whim but it was mediocre, not like Grom's in Rome (and it got all over my coat/bag).

Vini e Vecchi Sapori: a tiny, cute restaurant! Do not go unless you make a reservation. They turned many people away. We had an amazing experience here, mostly due to the Italian patrons next to us and the service. We ordered the fresh pappardelle with duck ragu (papperdelle con ragu di anatra) for 9e and it was good but I think we slightly prefer the pappardelle we had in Rome. The patrons next to us recommended a beef stew they were all ordering and it was good, but not amazing. We couldn't decide on a dessert so our new Italian friends asked the server to make us a mixed plate of three desserts which was really nice! One was a tiramisu and one was an ice cream pastry (I forgot the last one). Then they had the servers give us a shot of a strong liquor, which we couldn't finish. They also played a magic trick on us with a coffee cup. It was a really fun time and we were stuffed!

Jan 16, 2013
arnage in Italy

3 Meals in Rome, did I select well?

Thanks for all the tips! We will definitely have to check out a bakery such as Roscioli, and perhaps the granita di caffe con crema if it's not too cold.

Dec 07, 2012
arnage in Italy

3 Meals in Rome, did I select well?

Thank you so much everyone for weighing in. That's so interesting that Grom has hot chocolate! They only serve gelato in nyc so hopefully we'll be able to check out the hot chocolate.

we are now thinking of this schedule:
Lunch Thursday: L'Asino D'Oro (check first to see what the 12e lunch is if it's not appealing will cancel reservation and go to Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali

Dinner Thursday: Flavio al Velavevodetto, Trattoria Monti or Perilli

Lunch Friday: Pizzarium (will be sightseeing at Vatican City)]

We tried calling so many times for reservations but many restaurants never answer the phone, including Trattoria Monti and Vini e Vecchi Sapori. Perilli told me to call back closer to the day even though we're only calling 2 weeks in advance :(

Are Giolitti, San Crispino, Gelato del Teatro still musts for gelato?

Thanks everyone and we will definitely report back.

Dec 04, 2012
arnage in Italy

Italy Report - Rome, Florence, Piemonte, Venice back to Rome. (LONG) PART I

thank you so much for your detailed report! we're excited about Pizzarium and Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori. We're sad to hear the negative report of Perilli though and are now wondering if we should still visit. thanks again and looking forward to Part II

Dec 04, 2012
arnage in Italy

3 Meals in Rome, did I select well?

Thanks so much for all the advice!

Revised schedule:

Lunch Thursday: L'Asino d'Oro (depending on what's on the 12euro menu) or Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali

Dinner Thurs night: Trattoria Monti, Taverna dei Fori Imperiali or Perilli

Breakfast Fri: Pizzarium (are they open in the morning?)

Lunch Fri: Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali if we didn't go the previous day

minchilli, may I ask if you think Perilli is much better than Trattoria Monti? Perilli has some not so great reviews on trip advisor so my fiancé is hesitant to commit our one dinner in Rome to it. However our friend did post amazing photos from Perilli recently. It's such a tough decision!

Nov 29, 2012
arnage in Italy

Suggestion needed, replacement for Gelonch?

Did you check on the Tickets website for reservations? They're still booking for January!

In terms of Gelonch, maybe you should try Hisop, Alkemia or Cinc Sentits instead.

Sun night, you could also consider Paco Meralgo.

We're going in two weeks and our research indicates you may enjoy the above restaurants :)

Nov 29, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

3 Meals in Rome, did I select well?

My fiancé and I will be in Italy for the first time mid December! We are taking a cruise and will have one and a half days in Rome. We are arriving in Rome by train around 10am on Thursday and staying overnight at Artemide Hotel on Via Nazionale 22. My fiancé is a big meat eater and not a fan of seafood unless fried/raw (such as sashimi). I enjoy everything. We would like to try pizza, pastas (my fiancé is interested in papardelle with sausage), classic Roman Food, and desserts such as tiramisu/panna cotta.

Please help me select our precious three meals.

Lunch Thursday: L'Asino D'Oro, Armando al Pantheon or Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali (will be visiting Colossem, Palatine Hills, Roman Forum in the morning/early afternoon, then Pantheon/Spanish steps/Trevi Fountain/Piazza Navona in the late afternoon/early evening)

Dinner Thursday:
Classic Roman Food: Flavio al Velavevodetto, Trattoria Monti, Perilli, Da Felice or Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali (read conflicting reviews on all of restaurants)
Or pizza: PIzzeria de Remo

Lunch Friday: Pizzarium (will be sightseeing at Vatican City)

Also, we love gelato. Which of the following are a musts for ice cream lovers?
Gelateria La Dolce Vita, Gelateria Valentino, La Gelateria Frigidarium, Gelateria del Teatro

Is it worth the trek to Fraschetta Romana on Via del Pigneto 68 for a porchetta sandwich? We both LOVE pork but it's not near any places we're visiting.

Any other suggestions welcome! Thank you :)

Nov 27, 2012
arnage in Italy

Barcelona - La Boqueria - a bunch of photos

thanks for the post! can't wait to visit :)

Nov 17, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona - Tickets Bar - never had more fun or such good food!

wow thanks for the detailed report and photos! everything looks amazing!! wish we secured reservations for our trip :(

Nov 17, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona - Paco Meralgo - a great lunch and over the top customer service

thanks for the detailed report! we look forward to our lunch there and will have to order the tomato bread and foie :)

Nov 14, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

my honeymoon in paris/lyon/barcelona - restaurant advice please :)

We were disappointed when we couldn't book Frenchie in January so book early. If you like Asian food, one of our favorite meals of our trip was at Lao-Lane Xang. You must order the crispy duck. It is divine and was worth the trek to the outskirts!

Don't forget at falafel wrap at L'As du Falafel, crepes at Breizh Cafe. And get the Vanille tart at Pierre Hermes...so delicious :)

In Barcelona, we're planning our vacation in a month and the only reservation we can't get is for Tickets restaurant which books 60days out on their website at midnight barcelona time so I'd recommend you set your calendar for the booking.

Nov 11, 2012
arnage in France

Barcelona Foodies Trip, What did I miss?

thanks everyone! We're planning to have the prefix lunch menu at Alkimia so hopefully we'll still be able to handle a tasting at Cinc Sentits for dinner.

Any thoughts on Cerveceria Catalana vs Ciudad Condal for lunch on friday before we board the cruise? They seem pretty similar.

We will report back!

Nov 11, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Foodies Trip, What did I miss?

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful advice!

PBSF, I think I was overly ambitious in trying to eat at every single famed modern Catalan restaurant and will probably forego Gresca lunch, and stick with Alkimia lunch, Cinc Sentits dinner, Hisop dinner and Gelonch dinner. We will forego an Abac meal due to its location and so we can spend our budget on two meals instead :)

For lunch thursday, I am now debating between Cafe L'academia for traditional Catalan cuisine (and to take advantage of their menu del dia), or Can Mano (due to your recommendation).

When we first arrive on Tuesday morning, we wanted to grab a flauta de jamon iberico and was wondering if we should go to Cafe Viena for this or Escriba (read good reviews on both places)?

And for some yummy ice cream/gelato, should we check out Gelaaati Di Marco/Arcobaleno/Vioko?

Thanks again!

Nov 09, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Foodies Trip, What did I miss?

Thank you Haarison for your extensive reply even though your reply has disappeared from the site for some reason. I can't read SnackHappy's reply either :( Regardless, I did read Haarison's post before it was removed. Your tips are extremely helpful.

I should have clarified La Granja I'm referring to is on Carrer Banys Nous. I apologize for the confusion.

I have a few more questions:
Do I need to buy advance tickets for Palace of Catalan Music or can I buy tickets for the tour at the door? I don't plan to buy advance tickets for any of the sights as I'm assuming in December the lines will be short but it seems that at the Palace of Catalan Music, it may be required?

I can't seem to decide on a lunch place for Thursday before taking the cable car from Barceloneta/San Sebastia tower to Montjuic. Here are the ones I'm consider due to location (between hotel & Barceloneta):
Cafe L'Academia
Kaiku (for the paella but there have been some scathing reviews on trip advisor)
Can Mano/Can Majo
Dos Palillos
Koy Shunka (since we may need a break from tapas)
Any thoughts? We're planning to have a late dinner at Hisop (after a show at El Tablo del Carmen, where I think we'll just opt for the drinks option instead of tapas?)

After El Tablo del Carmen show, is it worth the detour to stop by Tickets around 8:45pm (thurs night) to see if there is an opening?

We will be at the Magic Fountain on Thursday Dec. 13th so I'm guessing there won't be a show then :( But I copied all your suggestions about the sights to see during our walk down from Montjuic.

We are also planning to attend Mass at Santa Maria del Mar (thanks for the tip). Should we pay to visit the roof on a prior day?

And any thoughts subbing in Comer24 (so many mixed reviews) for Gelonch/Hisop/Cinc Sentits?

Also, should we opt to eat lunch at Gresca on Xmas Eve instead of Paco Meralgo (which our friend mentioned she thinks is overrated)?

Thank you all so much for your input? We're so excited about visiting Barcelona!

Nov 09, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Foodies Trip, What did I miss?

My fiancé and I are spending 3 nights in Barcelona prior to a 10 night cruise (to Palma de Mallorca, Malta, Sicily, Naples, Rome and Florence!), and one night (Monday Xmas Eve) after the cruise in Barcelona before we fly out the morning of Christmas Day. I put together the following itinerary for Barcelona after reading every chowhound thread on this city, dating to a year back. We haven't booked a hotel yet but are looking at Casa Camper or Hotel 1898 for the first 3 nights as their locations are centralized. We may book Europark on Xmas Eve due to its Eixample location. I am looking forward to all the seafood/tapas culture, but my fiancé is not big on seafood unless it's fried or raw (such as sashimi) as he is a big meat eater. We would appreciate any input and any must not miss dishes at the places we are visiting :)

Day 1 Tuesday (taking it easy after red eye flight from nyc):
Breakfast: La Pallaresa Chocolate Restauant for hot chocolate/churros
Lunch: El Quim de la Boqueria and/or Pinotxo
Stop by Escriba chocolate shop for treats including the chocolate croissant
Snack: If we're not sick of hot chocolate churros, stop by La Granja for hot chocolate and buy churros a few doors down.
Dinner: Cal Pep (we plan to be there at 7:30 when they open), otherwise if the wait is long, we'll go to Bar Celta or Euskal Etxea?

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Las Ramblas/Gothic Quarter
Palace of Catalan Music (is the tour worth it? unfortunately there isn't a performance happening that appeals to us)
Picasso Museum
Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar (is it worth it to pay to visit the roof?)
El Born
Guell Palace (if we're not exhausted by this point, or we will visit this on Thurs instead)

Day 2 Wednesday:
Lunch: Alkimia
Dinner: Cinc Sentits

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Placa Sagrada Familia (before lunch)
Guell Park (after lunch)
Casa Batllo
La Pedrera - Mila House (if we have time)

Day 3 Thursday
Breakfast: If we didn't go on Tues, stop by La Granja for hot chocolate/churros
Lunch: Pinotxo at the market (if didn't visit on Tues), otherwise if we need a break from Tapas, we may eat at Koy Shunka (or Comerc24?)
Snack: Quimet & Quimet (if time permits)
Dinner: Reservation at Hisop, however may go to Tickets at 7 to see if there are any cancellations (are my odds of getting a table worth the trek?)

Attractions we're planning to visit:
Guell Palace (if we didn't visit on Tues)
Mirador de Colon
take cable car to Montjuïc (have to figure out how to do this, online descriptions sound confusing to a non native)
walk down to Magic fountain (sad there won't be a show)

Day 4 Friday
Lunch: Cerveceria Catalana
Boarding cruiseship in the afternoon

Day after Cruise Monday Xmas Eve
Lunch: Paco Meralgo
Dinner: Gelonch

Planning to visit:
Passeig de Gracia for some relaxing shopping
perhaps La Pedrera - Mila House

Some general questions:
1) On the short list of restaurants we're considering eating at instead of one of the options above (should we sub in any of the below?):
Kaiku
Comerc24
Tapas 24
Euskal Etxea
Bar Celta
Abac (should we sub in for Cinc Sentits/Hisop/Gelonch)?
Gresca
Dos Palillos
Vioko (is this gelato/chocolate shop worth a visit? It's not near anything we're visiting)

2) We are planning to walk a lot and thus are considering a centralized hotel. However to get to Sagrada Familia/Guell Park/Montjuic, I'm assuming the metro is the fastest/cheapest method to travel? Are there 3 day metro passes to buy or it won't be worth it if we're walking a ton?

3) We looked at Barcelona Card, Museum Card etc but they don't seem worth it for the attractions we're visiting. Are there any other discounts available? (the Paris Museum pass was so handy)

4) We're considering a day trip to Montserrat, perhaps on Xmas Eve but we're not sure if it'll be too stressful. Should we just stay in Barcelona to enjoy the city more leisurely?

5) Is the beach worth a visit or it'll be too cold in December?

Thank you in advance for your input and reading my long post!

Nov 08, 2012
arnage in Spain/Portugal

Need help with markets & restaurants close to Place des Vosges

L'As du Fallafel and Breizh Cafe. Our proposal was at the beautiful Place des Vosges. Enjoy your stay!

Nov 08, 2012
arnage in France

Proposal Trip! Restaurant Lineup help needed for 4 days in Paris

I'm so sorry for the late report back on the trip. She said yes! The day after I proposed, my fiancé's wallet got stolen in the metro (good thing it wasn't the ring!) so we spent most of the day handling that. Then a day later, she got the stomach flu (or food poisoning) and we spent the entire day in the hotel. Sadly we had to cancel our much anticipated reservation for lunch at Spring due to her stomach ailment. Despite these hiccups, we loved Paris and would visit again. Here are the highlights of our trip in no particular order:

Lao-Lane Xang: one of the best meals of the trip. the crispy duck was amazing!!! the pleasant server spoke Mandarin (but not English) so my fiancée could communicate with her. (the entire menu was in french)

L'As du Fallafel: our culinary highlight. the falafel wrap was the best (better than the shawarma) we went back again the following day!

Breizh Cafe: great place to try out crepes. we split a savory buckwheat crepe and a dessert crepe.

Pierre Herme: after visiting 5 bakeries in Paris and eating too many macarons (including Jacque Genin, Gerard Mulot, Sadaharu Aoki, and Lauduree), our absolute favorite pastry is the Vanille Tart at Pierre Herme. We wish we had them in nyc. a must try, imo

Le Severo: we came here because I wanted to try steak frites and it was very good. my fiancée doesn't like steak so she ordered the pate. She was disappointed since it came as a more tendon filled, harder texture and she was expecting the creamy type. we ordered creme brûlée (or flan?) for dessert and it was good.

Chez L'Ami Jean: this was the disappointment of our trip. the Cote de boeuf was tough. my fiancée is not a fan of steak in general but even I was disappointed. (we went to Minetta Tavern in nyc a few months after and the cote de boeuf here was much better). she really wanted to try the foie gras but you can only order it for 2. however the restaurant brought her a generous slice to sample. that was a very nice touch. the highlight of the meal was the rice pudding (very, very good). as a side note, the restaurant billed us for one extra appetizer. (the billing mistake happened at another restaurant too maybe Le Severo, so remember to check your bill)

we went to a Japanese restaurant that was decent (forgot the name but it's on the popular street with all the Japanese restaurants), because my fiancee was homesick for Asian food. it was good comfort food but not extraordinary.

the paris museum pass was terrific and we were able to hit all the major attractions on it. our favorite place was the versailles palace. the gardens are breathtaking.

we are looking forward to returning to Paris in the future. next time, we'll have to try the other recommended places including le comptoir du relays, Le Chateaubriand and Spring. thank you again to everyone for making our trip so special.

Nov 08, 2012
arnage in France