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Trip Report: HK, Beijing, Shanghai

Nice story and totally agree about the sentimental (and very real) value of a memorable meal.

I'm surprised people were still wearing Mao suits only 13 years ago -- certainly by June 1989 on TV there weren't many to be seen.

tb

Nov 29, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Made in China / Grand Hyatt Beijing

Thanks for the review. I rather like MIC's roast duck, but it is rather fatty -- happens to be the way I like it I guess. Their 'pot stickers' are an absolute favourite for me on their menu. The tea prices however, are so off-puttingly expensive that I refuse to order tea.

tb

Nov 26, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

quick HK TR

Had 24hrs in HK proper (was in new territories with friends, and no eating out opportunities) with my family, and wanted a quick report back on our three meals:

Tasty at IFC: again, mind-blowingly good won ton noodle soup. Very good fried rice, and decent bbq pork with noodles (which gets you some extra broth!).

Mak man kee (parkes street, near Jordan MTR). We were in the area, so decided to give it a go. I was rather disappointed. The broth was rather bland, and not in the same league as Tasty. The won tons themselves were excellent, and perhaps superior to Tasty, and the noodles were pretty decent, but the broth really killed it for me. The braised beef was good.

Yan Toh Heen: had lunch here, again, and overall it was excellent. We opted for the cheapest dim sum set lunch (c. HK$350+ 10%) and one extra dish. Just three dim sum (each), but all superb. Also an outstanding scallop dish and a stir-fried beef dish, and excellent noodles. The only disappointment was the 'soup of the day' which was double boiled mushroom with chicken -- it was fairly bland, and the chicken was a little tough. The puddings were not to my taste, but I'm sure were done well, I'm just not a fan of red bean stuff. The manager really looked after us, and gave us a few freebies as well, and although I'm sure there are better restaurants in hong kong, the service and setting, as well as the excellent food make us want to come back.

tb

Oct 06, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

5 days in HK - food agenda planned!

The only feedback I would give is to skip DTF in HK. I really like DTF, but it's an international chain. Perhaps one of your meals in Beijing -- where the food scene -- although good, is not on a par with hong kong, might make better sense.

tb

Sep 28, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Hong Kong & China Comments (HK, GZ, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai)

Thanks for a great report back..I agree that there are too few china voices on this board. Although I now live in BJ, have yet to explore the rest of the mainland, so this will be useful for future travels.

tb

Sep 26, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

Report back from recent visit (rather rambling!):

Lunch at Le Grand Vefour.
Decided to proceed with LGV, and very much enjoyed the meal, overall. The Palais Royal is a wonderful setting, although one can't really see out of the restaurant due to the frosted windows. The room (I was in the larger one, in the corner, near the window by the garden) is absolutely wonderful, and quite possibly the very best thing about the restaurant. Service was friendly, and entirely in French. I know the waiters could speak English, since they did so to the several Japanese and Chinese diners, but given I made a small effort, with my halting attempts, they decided that my language was good enough -- it wasn't! However, this was part of the fun. Most of the clientele (as much as one can guess these things) appeared to be first-timers, such as myself, but a group of six more elderly diners (and incidentally the only ones not wearing jacket/tie) seemed to be regulars and their ALC choices looked wonderful.
The food: the single amuse bouches was not terribly tasty -- a cucumber and radish veloute or so, with a small cube of tofu on the side, both of which were fairly bland. Bread, a simple baguette was good. I was then generously given a complimentary small bowl of one of the starters that I had not chosen: cold pineapple soup. This was actually very refreshing, however, it was not quite to my palate, and I'm glad I had not chosen it as my starter. I did, instead, choose the duck foie gras, served with pickled vegetables. This was excellent and a generous portion. The one downer, from a service perspective, was that when my bread for the foie ran out, it was not replenished -- although I had some baguette, so it was fine. Main course I had chosen the roasted guinea-fowl. This was presented as a roll, along with some vegetables (and more tofu -- clearly the ingredient of the moment in the kitchen) and something I'd not seen before -- the entire drumstick skin was presented separately, roasted to perfection and completely flattened. I ate it by hand as a crisp. All very tasty. The cheese course was splendid: instead of a trolley there are a couple of trays. Only one was shown to me, although I did ask for a comte from the other tray. I was given 5 pieces: including a superb, very fresh goats cheese from Languedoc with an orange rind, and the tasiest roquefort I've ever tasted. Mignardaises followed included a non-bruleed creme rose, which was very light, adorable pate de fruits and several more less memorable items. Dessert was a chocolate and nut affair which was far too rich for me, and I couldn't actually finish it. I should have gone for something a bit lighter after all that had preceeded it. Overall, I felt the food was good, but not excellent, the service, similar. I was made to feel welcome, but not much more. The total damage was just over E100, with water, and I left a tip aswell (but it is service compris). However, I was very pleased to have had the chance to eat in one of the most charming dining rooms I've encountered.

Most meals were either at my meeting, or with my family (the former not too good, the latter superb). However, I did have a couple more dinners. One was a conference dinner, so not a totally fair assessment, and the second, dinner at JCD with two family members.

La Coupole
This was a large conference dinner, with a no choice menu. The room is nice, and the service was pretty good considering the logistics of the event. Starter was a lobe of roasted duck foie gras -- pretty decent rendition, but not outstanding. Then filet steak -- suprising well cooked -- i.e. mine was probably only just a shade over medium rare (we weren't asked how we liked it), which was edible. I can't actually remember the pudding. I would not splurge on such a meal if going by myself, but for an 'event dinner' it was actually very good indeed.

Chez Dumonet
Made a relatively early 20:00 reservation for logistical reasons. I wanted to invite my family members to dinner to thank them for the many episodes of hospitality. The amuse was a cauliflower veloute which was fine, if nothing too special. Bread was good, although the butter was rather ordinary. My cousin ordered a half-portion of the prawn starter -- which was two prawns (although I had a bite, and it was tasty). I split the foie gras with my other DC -- as described previously many times by others, this was two huge slabs of simply perfect foie gras, and very reasonably priced too. For main courses, my cousin and I split a full portion of the beef bourguinon - this was simply superb comfort food. The other main was the duck confit which I tasted and was excellent also. Dessert was the creme brulee -- nothing too special -- and the napolean, which I felt was the best I've had -- superior (and a totally different beast) the one at Genin I had last year. Along with a bottle of wine, a water and two coffees, the total came to E230, which I felt was very good value. Since I don't drink, I noted the price of the food itself was very reasonable indeed, and one could eat there for less than E40/head. The wine was reported as very good, but it should be noted that there are a lot of extremely pricey options, and few in the sub-E50-60 range. I thought the quality of the food, and the cooking was excellent. One shouldn't come here looking for innovation or flair, but if seeking traditional, comfort food, it was among the best I've experienced.

Christian Constant:
Just to mention that I had some sorbet here -- I'm not usually a sorbet fan, but these were outstanding, especially the myrtlle. Also bought the v. expensive glace fruits for my wife. These were/are (haven't finished them yet) superb, but I have to say, they taste almost identical to the offering from Fortnum's (which are also made in france), in case a londoner has a hankering.

One last thing: DCM (on other threads) has often mentioned the unpasteurised mustard at Maille. I went to the shop, but they insisted that all of their mustards are pastuerised, but that the ones on tap are made fresh. I just had a taste, and it tasted very nice, but perhaps my palate was not refined enough to appreciate much of a difference.

Thanks for the tips, as always.

tb

Sep 18, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

vanilla with chocolate shavings sounds yummy.

tb

Sep 06, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

Good to know, thanks.

tb

Sep 06, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

I note you say only this flavour there: do you only eat liquorice ice-cream as a general rule, or is the liquorice here 'must have', and for other flavours you would go elsewhere? I like liquorice, have never had liquorice ice-cream, but am willing to try, but I can't imagine it becoming my favourite thing (but who knows...?).

tb

Sep 05, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

Thanks...although I may not make it to Montmartre on this trip: will save it for a future occasion.

I disagree(ish). In Boston we lived very close to a 'decent' ice-cream place: not blow your mind cross town for, but very good, and the strawberry and pistachio in particular were excellent. It was a weekly treat (in summer or winter) but no more frequently than that. I really miss being close to (any) good ice-cream.

tb

Sep 05, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

Thanks -- this happens to almost round the corner of where I'm staying, so will check it out.

tb

Sep 05, 2012
trueblu in France

Paris Snack Reviews - Pierre Herme, Patissier Boulanger, Hugo et Victor, Eric Kayser, Laduree, La Patisserie des Reves, Berthillon

Out of interest: where would you go for a 'destination' ice-cream. I very much enjoy Berthillon, but wouldn't mind sampling some other good ice-creams next week.

I know some restaurants make great ice-cream, but my meal 'freedom' is fairly limited this trip. However, snacking is more flexible!

tb

Sep 05, 2012
trueblu in France

Good, Non-Chain Places in the 7th/6th arr. w/ Toddler?

I have to agree with this assessment. Other than the very formal 'grand restaurants', I think mostly everywhere is going to be fine. The only caveats would be if there is only the option of degustation menu which is going to last 3-4 hrs, (which any sensible parent should know won't work) and if the service is so slow that one really can't get out under 3 hrs.

However, I do think that part of the reason for the anxiety of posters (myself included, 18 months ago) is perhaps the impression to an outsider of the board is that parisian restaurants are a law unto themselves. And certainly the thread I started (linked in a post above) was initially met with responses of 'you need to get a sitter to dine in Paris'. Only some way into the thread did more positive attitudes emerge. And indeed, it was very easy to eat well with a child in paris, and feel very welcomed.

tb

Aug 31, 2012
trueblu in France

August Honeymoon in Provence - Avignon, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Lex Baux de Provence

Nicely summed up.

tb

Aug 29, 2012
trueblu in France

Good, Non-Chain Places in the 7th/6th arr. w/ Toddler?

My pleasure. Hope you and your family have a great time, and look forward to reading a report back. I currently have the opposite dilemma: of eating _without_ my family in Paris in a couple of weeks.

tb

Aug 29, 2012
trueblu in France

Hong Kong Question

I'm no expert, but I think 'Tasty' in IFC mall would fit the bill. I absolutely loved my won-ton soup there, and the menu has other good things on it too. Menu in english, and no problem with lack of chinese.

tb

Aug 28, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

OK, LGV sounds to have pipped it. I love cheese. My only concern is that being relatively deprived due to my current environs, may not be able to handle too much in one sitting!

tb

Aug 28, 2012
trueblu in France

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

Thanks for a thoughtful response as always PBSF. I too am drawn by the history of the place. I don't mind a 'good enough' meal (which at E100 should be pretty good one hopes!). I am not looking for something completely new and innovative. Just wonderful tastes and quality ingredients, as would befit the setting.

tb

Aug 27, 2012
trueblu in France

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

Thanks Dcm. That's very reassuring. A particular favourite among the three?

tb

Aug 27, 2012
trueblu in France

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

Thanks Dcm. I had previously read that thread, and was a little concerned about your observation that the food at Le Grand Vefour had dropped off a bit, although I know elsewhere you have raved about their cheese course (not mutually exclusive).

However, that thread, nor others that I've seen recently have addressed the issue of a solo diner, and would appreciate any thoughts/ input on that front. I am happy to take sublime- food if the overall experience will be significantly better than somewhere with sl. better food but not so appropriate/friendly to someone dining alone. If somewhere can be firing on all cylinders on that front, then so much the better.

Also, I note that you have had good success is substituting the cheese at Le Cinq for dessert (which is what I would prefer, if I were to dine there). But I'm a little on the shy side (in these sorts of matters) when I might think I'm asking for a special favour. Would a simple request from a non-regular suffice in your opinion?

tb

Aug 27, 2012
trueblu in France

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

Thanks John. Les Ambassadeurs was actually the third place I had considered. It's somewhat less expensive than the other two, and as grand a setting, I think. Would you actually recommend it above the other two, or merely suggesting it as another possibility?

tb

Aug 26, 2012
trueblu in France

solo lunch at le Grand Vefour vs. Le Cinq vs....

I'm going to be in Paris for just under a week in mid-September for work. That will tie me up much of the time, and I am resigned to eating not great food for many meals. I will also meet up with relatives in Paris (with pleasure), and will even try to induce them to meal out with me (they much prefer to cook at home, and the food is amazing, admittedly).

However, I have one free afternoon, and am thinking of indulging myself for a memorable meal. I used to often dine alone some years ago, but have done so much less often since getting married 6+ years ago. I wish cost was not an issue, but I am willing to stretch the budget to a meal at the E100 range. I don't drink, so wine costs will not be an issue. I love grand settings, but feel equally comfortable in simple ones. However, since I'm going to be by myself, I guess staff that 'look after' single diners would be a plus. My french is very limited, but I can read a menu. My short-list, as it were, was Le Grand Vefour: truly historic place. Sounds like an amazing cheese cart included in the price (good cheese is v. hard to get in beijing!), and pretty decent food. Le Cinq: the service sounds like it might have the upper hand, as well as the food possibly, although having cheese as extra might push the budget. Other suggestions would be greatly welcomed: am not dead set on either of these possibilies (assuming I can get a table).

In terms of other meals, I may have one or two dinners free. After a fantastic meal at Chez l'Ami Jean last year, I feel I really want to go back there. If for nothing else, because having been a rice pudding 'hater' (the only food I really couldn't abide) almost all of my life, the version there was a revelation to me. This would be just before the transition to the tasting menu concept. Also wouldn't mind going to Josephine CD, since it sounds like a pretty great place: how do they treat solo diners (for dinner)?

The feedback for our family trip to Paris last year was welcome. Hope to elicit more pointers for this year.

tb

Aug 26, 2012
trueblu in France

Beijing... the best Roast duck.

I think that the advice of 'how many Chinese people are eating there' is possibly the most useless advice in Beijing (no offence intended). Chinese people make up 99.5% of the population in Beijing, so _everywhere_ has Chinese people eating there. This has no discriminatory power at all. Furthermore, as you would know, having lived and studied in Beijing, local Chinese can and do vary by several orders of magnitude in the quality of food they find acceptable. In fact, finding a lot of foreigners eating at a place may be a mark of quality (not necessarily, I grant you), since local expats are reasonably discriminating.

It's true, roast duck is available everwhere, but the quality does vary. One of the restaurants at my work does a 'top quality roast duck' for about 65RMB, a third to quarter of the price of the famous places. It's tasty, but not even closely comparable to the better places.

tb

Aug 23, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Beijing... the best Roast duck.

when will you be coming to china?

tb

Aug 22, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Beijing... the best Roast duck.

there are several threads on this issue and a search would be worthwhile.

However, it depends on what you mean by 'not necessary expensive'. My favourite roast ducks are quanjude and made in china. V. different duck preparations, but both delicious. Quanjude's other food, however, is not great. The other food at Made in China is v. good, but more pricey. Da Dong does a decent duck, and other dishes are v. good, but service is rather snooty. Some dishes are extremely pricey here, but judicious ordering can provide for decent value.

tb

Aug 20, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Restaurants in the 19th in Paris?

there is a short thread lower down regarding eating near parc de la villette, which has some good suggestions.

tb

Aug 15, 2012
trueblu in France

A newbie to France/Paris with no French skills

I think that your budget is more than decent for a short 3 day trip. It depends on what you want to do, but you could easily have an absolutely stunning meal for ~E80-E100 (lunch) in a world-famous restaurant, and have sandwiches/ crepes/ roast chicken the rest of the time, and still be well within budget. Or 2-3 great bistrot meals, again, by not splashing out on every meal. Since you will want to do the touristy things, the path of least resistance will be to eat at restaurants catering just for tourists. And you must resist that path. It is easy enough, with a tiny bit of research and a same day reservation, to eat much better and more memorably for less money. There are hundreds of threads on this board, all quite excellent, so don't limit yourself or rule somewhere out because of the 'budget' issue. If your budget was E50 for the three days, well, that would be another issue, you would need to choose far more carefully, but could still eat fantastic (simple) food.

Re: Iran, if you can get a VPN, that will solve your website issues.

And re: the whole english thing. On my last trip to Paris, I could hardly try out my broken french -- everyone replied to me in excellent English. As others have stated, learning to say hello, please and thank you is not rocket science, and if a tourist from XXX came to the US/UK and couldn't say those three things in English, we would rightly think of them quite poorly. To be honest, I doubt you will need more than those three words, since they show willing, and some respect.

Have a great trip, report back, and then evangelise to your friends that foreign travel need not be daunting.

tb

Aug 15, 2012
trueblu in France

Good, Non-Chain Places in the 7th/6th arr. w/ Toddler?

We went to Paris with our almost 2 year old last year http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777183 and had a fabulous time. We found most places to be welcoming to children, but of course didn't attempt the ultra-formal restaurants.

The discussion/link is not location specific but there was a fair amount of general discussion (and views) from regulars which you may find informative.

tb

Aug 15, 2012
trueblu in France

Cheap eats in Chaoyang District (Beijing)

Welcome to BJ. I should say that the beijing residents are not really active on CH, except perhaps when travelling elsewhere. I live in Haidian, so can't really comment on the ultra-local scene -- I won't cross town just for a snack, say. Are you looking for chinese or western recommendations?

tb

Aug 09, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia

Trip Report: HK, Beijing, Shanghai

Thanks for the TR Porthos. I agree that BJ is not comparable to HK in terms of the food scene, although there are excellent meals to be had, but the average place is well below par. I disagree that you shouldn't have had the roast duck in beijing: it's the quintissential beijng dish, and it would be silly not to have it at least once. There are more delicious foods, but it's like going to chicago and not having a decent hot dog...must be done.

I actually like roast duck -- although as untrendy as it may seem, really do prefer quanjude -- it's a shame their other dishes are so disappointing.

tb

May 28, 2012
trueblu in China & Southeast Asia