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Wine/Liquor Costs in Bali Indonesia

Recently the costs of liquor and wine have greatly increased in Bali to such an extent that it might deter foodies who love to imbibe, but who are on a budget, and who are considering whether to visit this island. In my own case, I love wine with dinner and probably would either not have chosen this location for my vacation, or would have spent more time in Singapore than here, had I know the following.

Previously there was a tax on alcoholic beverages of 20 - 140%, depending on the beverage and its origin. Recently, the gov't removed that tax and imposed an excise tax of 150 - 600%. This has had a huge effect. For example, the least expensive wine on the menu at last night's dinner was one that I pay only $12 for at home. It was listed at $69 on the menu and the restaurant provided a written statement that most of the price of its wines are due to the new tax.

I don't know whether this boost in the tax is the result of those religiously opposed to others' imbibing or not. If so, I think the tactic is working (at least in my case). But if it is just that the gov't wants to increase the flow into its coffers, the act is likely to backfire.

Singapore Questions

Sorry, had to catch a flight. Anyway, as I was saying:
we'd booked a reservation at Palm Beach, but when we got there the menu looked too poor and the place seemed grubby. We decided to go back over and see if Guy Savoy had a spot for us, even tho it was Sat. Got there and saw the Santi menu and I was in the mood for tapas, so booked a table for an hour later. Went to Guy Savoy's for two regular-sized beers. Mistake there. Was S$45. Silly me.

When we went into Santi, we were seated in the restaurant portion of the place—a beautiful table with a view of the water beyond. I was disappointed that tapas weren't served except in the bar, but decided not to move. Then the menu came and I was shocked at the prices. We ordered and split everything because it seemed so high. Then came possibly the most delightful meal I have had this year. I could go into it in detail if anyone cares, but the highlights were many. There was a spectacular bread tasting throughout the meal featuring 6 different breads. And we had the most creative, beautiful and exquisite-tasting salad I think I have ever had. It had many fresh ingredients, including stuffed squash blossom and micro greens I couldn't id (and I am pretty good at it). There were other courses that were excellent, too, but the main course was a perfect 10. We had baby pig, cooked sous vide and then lacquered and roasted for 45 minutes to give it a crunchy, divine skin. Never have I tasted better. Seriously, this was a first-class meal from service, to ambiance, to, most importantly, really very, very fine food. Wish I could go back, but I doubt I'll be in SG again.

For those who might wonder, yes, we did hawker stalls for lunches and they're good. Wish we had such "fast food" in USA.

Again, thanks to those who guided us to such a grand experience.

Singapore Questions

I have been in Singapore for the last 4 days and am at the airport now, leaving for Bali. Dining in SG was a great experience and I am grateful for the advice given above and on other threads.

The 1st night we ate at Waku Ghin, which was very, very good. We sat in the middle room and had the most expensive meal we have ever had, S$1467 (mostly because we had a bottle of wine and 2 glasses of champagne). The signature dish—sea urchin, caviar, and shrimp—was the best sea urchin I have ever eaten. Unfortunately, the shrimp had to come from Canada because of the tsumani, and it wasn't too tasty. When the meal started, we were shown a gorgeous basket of seafood, which wasn't too fair because we were not to have the wonderful-looking abalone. Neither were we to have the beautiful scallops...until I lamented that fact and the chef agreed to put scallops on instead of something else. It turned out to be the best dish of the meal, served seared on top of a succulent flan. The Wagu was also the best I have ever had. The largest downside was the yellowfin tuna, which was too old and to sinewy.

Andre's was the least favorite. It was creative cuisine, beautifully plated. But there was only one dish that left a strong and positive memory: the foie gras "custard" under a black truffle sauce. The sommelier was great; he took our description of what we wanted and matched it perfectly to a wine we'd never heard of, so it was fun to have something so good and so totally new to us. The meal was a bit marred by the fact that the service was insufficient. Often our water or wine glasses sat empty for way too long, while the 3 wait staff scurried distractingly to fulfill their tasks.

The greatest meal we ate was at Santi, which was a surprise. We'd booked....more later

Singapore Questions

Thanks M_Gomez and FourSeasons for the help. I should have asked about dress code for these places. Jacket required for men?

Singapore Questions

Having read several threads and explored a few other websites too, I have a few questions about some restaurant options and hope for help from someone who's been there recently.

1.) I am interested in a seafood restaurant that is upscale in terms of its food and preparation. I think Palm Beach fits the mark. Any views to confirm or counter?

2.) Shinji Kanesaka at Raffles gets good reviews for Japanese sushi. Does it have anything else, or is it just sushi? Is there a competitor that is much better?

3.) I was inclined to go to Gunther's, but read one review (not on chowhound) that said that tables are close together and that it is loud. Ambiance matters, so I want to know if this is true.

4.) Between Fifty-three and Andre's, which is preferable and why?

BTW, I am going to Waku Ghin and will got to the Hawker places too.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Honolulu: one great, one terrible

Just returned from a couple of days in the big city, where we ate at Alan Wong's and Padovani's Grill. The first was fabulous, the second, pitiful.

We have been to Wong's 3 times a year for the past 12 years and have always found it to be good value for the money. In the last year or so, it seemed that the menu changed little and I felt like I'd had everything on it multiple times. On March 9, however, we got a super surprise. The tasting menu totally changed and had some spectacular dishes. My favorite new item was ahi & shrimp poke, a title which does little to describe it. It was a soy milk panna cotta topped with ahi and shrimp, but also ikura, and tiny pieces of emerald long beans. It was a joy to look at and super delicious. My second favorite new listing was pan-steamed onaga in coconut kim chee curry broth. The fish, as usual at Wong's, was cooked to perfection and the spicy, complex broth was not too overpowering, but very zesty.

We also went to Padovani's, mostly because I had read a very positive review by John Heckathorn. The restaurant is very pleasant and the staff almost overly attentive, but the food was substandard for a supposedly fine-dining restaurant. I chose an interesting-sounding salad to start, which was supposed to have papaya, mango, hearts of palm, and macadamia nuts. What it was was a green salad heavily doused with oily dressing with no perceptible mango, papaya, or palm—just a couple of pieces of minced nuts. We had a risotto second, which was pretty good but nothing outstanding. We had just begun our risotto when the waiter arrived to say, "Sorry folks, your main course is here and we'll have to move the risotto to the side." This might—might—be forgiven if the restaurant were very busy and the kitchen got out of kilter. However, we were the first table seated and there were only two other tables taken by the time we got the main course. What was worse was how terrible it was. We'd ordered the veal chop. It was the toughest veal I think I have ever eaten.....I mean tasted (because I decided not to eat it and filled up with bread instead).

Alan Wong's Restaurant
1857 S King St Fl 3, Honolulu, HI 96826

Mar 14, 2011
ponocat in Hawaii

Eng Seng 永成餐室 – Great Black Pepper Crab and Chili Crab in Singapore

FourSeasons: I have enjoyed reading some of your posts and thought that I would read more about your 5 favorite restaurants in Singapore in preparation for my upcoming visit there. (It will be my first and probably only time in Singapore, so I won't have room for a lot of experimentation.) This mention of Palm Beach is the only one of the 5 on which I could find anything on chowhound. Do you have reviews or comments on Fifty Three, Waku Ghin, Yuan Wei, and Shinji Kanesaka on chowhound or somewhere?

Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle

rp1760, did you go? What was your evaluation. I am getting ready to go myself and hope to learn from you!

Nov 23, 2010
ponocat in Greater Seattle

Where do I eat in Lanai??

I can't comment on where to eat breakfast, as I save my dining for lunches and dinners. The best lunches are at the golf clubs (Koele up in the mountains and Manele down below). The fish and chips at Manele are the best you'll get anywhere. For dinner, don't waste your money and appetite on Grill at Hotel Lanai. I have eaten there a couple of times and the food just isn't worth the cost. The best dinners are at the Lodge, IMO. The setting is nice and the food, while expensive, is the best on the island. Second best is probably the Italian place at Manele.

Apr 20, 2010
ponocat in Hawaii

Best Dallas Mex-Mex?

Idascha, you didn't weigh in on El Fuego. Have you been there? If so, how do you rank San Miguel, Javiers, and El Fuego? Not just in terms of authenticity, but also in creativity and complexity.

El Fuego
1891 N Plano Rd, Richardson, TX 75081

Mar 21, 2010
ponocat in Dallas - Fort Worth

Best Dallas Mex-Mex?

air, thanks for the input. I followed the ulteriorepicure link and was wowed by the blogger's reviews. I read his/her review of York and found it to be very close to the experience that I had there a few years ago (i.e., good but not great). I definitely will check into this blog more, so I have you to thank for bringing it to my attention!

Mar 21, 2010
ponocat in Dallas - Fort Worth

Best Dallas Mex-Mex?

CocoaNut, my error. I haven't been to Mias and I must have misread a thread somewhere and thought that someone called it Mex-Mex. From the replies below, I can see it is not.

Mar 21, 2010
ponocat in Dallas - Fort Worth

Best Dallas Mex-Mex?

Once I at at San Angel Inn in Mexico City and found out what Mex-Mex is. It was a true eye-opener after spending my youth in Dallas eating Tex-Mex and thinking that I knew all about Mexican cuisine. Now, after living away from Texas for a few decades, I am returning for a visit and hope to find a restaurant that serves true gourmet Mexican food. I have read over several threads and have seen some Mex-Mex listed (Mias, Litos, Cafe San Miguel...). If you have had a really fine Mexican meal recently, could you share your experience? And, if you have a view on the three I have listed, could you provide any details? BTW, money is not an issue, nor do I think that high price necessarily correlates with good quality (tho' it often does!).

Mar 20, 2010
ponocat in Dallas - Fort Worth

Munich: Review of Dallmayr Restaurant

Dallmayr Restaurant (not the cafe by the same name) is nothing short of fantastic. My husband and I went there for lunch and were treated to some of the best food I have ever eaten in Europe. It was fresh, perfectly prepared, and beautifully presented. Let me tell you about my favorite course, the foie gras. It was served with a nectarine ravioli and lavender-scented foam. Not only was the foie gras perfectly seared, the ravioli was a stroke of genius. The faintly sweet dough was silken and when I bit into it, the burst of flavor from the ripe nectarine was a delight. It was a perfect compliment to the foie gras. Seriously, I have had foie gras many, many times and it has never been as imaginatively and competently prepared, nor presented so beautifully. I was so impressed that I came again for lunch the next day just to experience the dish again. I had to see if it was one of those time-and-moment happenings that can’t be replicated. I was not disappointed. Chef Diethard Urbansky was able to produce the magic two days in a row.

The meal for two was 309 Euros, including wine. It was well worth it. I recommend you try this restaurant. It outshines Schubeck's by far, and even Tantris, IMO.

Mar 14, 2010
ponocat in Europe

Sushi Sasabune: Won't Go Again

My husband and I. If you are hinting that somehow our attire gave the restaurant license to treat us poorly, it simply isn't so. We wore smart-casual, the way we always dress when we go out for dinner here in Hawaii. And we're not raucous youths. He is in his 70s and I in my 60s.

Mar 11, 2010
ponocat in Hawaii

Sushi Sasabune: Won't Go Again

Had to look it up. It was a Wednesday night. Anyway, thanks for the info about the chef. Guess I'll avoid Nozawa's too!

Mar 10, 2010
ponocat in Hawaii

Sushi Sasabune: Won't Go Again

We adore sushi and went to Sushi Sasabune for the first time with high hopes and in good humor. We were hungry and out to have terrific sushi. We sat down and ordered beers and began to look at the wine menu. The beers were delivered quickly and the waiter asked to take our food order. We said we'd like to decide on sake first. Within the first few minutes, we were asked 4 times by 4 different waiters what we'd like to order for food.

We decided on a $120 bottle of junmai dai jinjo. We beckoned a waiter and asked if the omakase menu had anything on it that would clash with the great sake. He said "no", so that is what we ordered. The sake arrived and tasted wonderful, subtle and smooth. Then the first plate arrived. It was two thick, smelly slabs of ahi. The waiter proceeded to pour over them about 1/3 of a cup of citrusy sauce. Talk about clashing with the sake!

The next dish was a bit better in that the fish didn't smell fishy, but the slicing job on the fish was poor. It was again a slab, but with one end much thinner than the other. Before I had even put the second of the two into my mouth, the plate was whisked away and another plate of sushi was put before me.

We asked for the pace to be slowed down. Not to be! I was still eating the sushi on the third plate when the fourth plate arrived. Again, we asked to have the pace slowed. We had been in the restaurant only 20 minutes at this point.

I ate one of the two pieces of sushi on the fourth plate (ahi again) and was a bit shocked. The rice was extremely vinegary. However, the fish itself was excellent—totally different from the first serving of ahi. So, I at the ahi off of the top of the second piece and left the crumbling mess of vinegary sushi rice on the plate. The waiter came immediately over and said in a rude tone, "Shall we serve you less rice for the remainder of the meal? The chef doesn't like to waste rice." I told him the problem. No apologies were offered, but the problem didn't recur.

For the rest of the meal, we continued to receive the food too fast. At one point, four plates for each of us had lined up on the tiny table. The pressure was very unpleasant. More importantly, most of the fish didn't taste fresh (other than the ahi mentioned directly above) and it was poorly carved. Nothing was exceptional; almost everything was mediocre.

We won't go back to Sushi Sasabune and don't recommend it.

Sushi Sasabune
1419 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814

Mar 08, 2010
ponocat in Hawaii

Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle

rp1760, when will you be there? I go in November. If you go first, will you write your impressions?

Oct 04, 2009
ponocat in Greater Seattle

Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle

Thanks for everyone's help. After reading what you've said, plus the menus on the various restaurants' sites, I have my four nights in Seattle narrowed to Union and Lampreia for sure, but am still trying to decide which of the following to eliminate: Barolo, Champagne, or Harvest Vine. So my question is: Has anyone been to two or more of these RECENTLY and how do you judge them against one another?

Oct 03, 2009
ponocat in Greater Seattle

Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle

Summary so far:

Not High-end

Art of the Table 8
Barolo 6 7 7
Brasa 5 8 7
Cafe Flora 6
Canlis 9
Crush 7 10 9
Elemental 8
Elliotts 5 5
Etta's 5 8 6 5
Flying Fish 5 5 6
How to Cook a Wolf 7
La Spiga 7 7
Lark 9 8
Le Gourmand
Lola 6 7 7
Quinn 7 7
Rovers 9
Spring Hill 7 7
Spur 6 7
Waterfront 9


Cafe Juanita 10 5 7
Dahlia Lounge
Harvest Vine 8 8
Lampreia 9 9
Spinasse 8
The Corson Building
Union 9 9

If anyone else weighs in, please remember to rate the food, not the service or the drinks. Thanks to everyone who's helped so far!

Oct 03, 2009
ponocat in Greater Seattle

Help Rank High-End Restaurants in Seattle

I will be visiting Seattle for the first time in November and have been perusing the threads on Chowhound, as well as other Internet sites, for ideas on where to eat to find the best food, regardless of price. Although helpful, I am still having trouble sorting through the information, so I would like to ask for help from those interesting in "rating" restaurants.

Much of the discussion of restaurants in Seattle focuses on service. I know it is important, but I would like to set it aside and ask for your ratings on food, with specific attention to three variables: freshness of ingredients, innovation and quality of preparation, and plating (which, of course, includes whatever sauces or sides are on the plate).

It would be helpful if you would use numerical ranking (1-10, with 10 being highest) to summarize your opinion on each of the following restaurants. (I know that rankings will be subjective and therefore some people's 5 would be like another person's 7, but it is still useful.) Feel free to add any high-quality restaurant not on this list, or to suggest removal of any herewith.

Flying Fish
Etta's (arbitrarily chosen over Dahlia & others in Douglas empire)
Cafe Juanita

Oct 01, 2009
ponocat in Greater Seattle

Seattle October 22 – 26

Mary, the replies to your post have been excellent guidance for me as well. I am taking my first trip to Seattle this fall too and I hope to follow in your footsteps. I hope that you will write up your experiences so that I can tailor my dining based on what you have to say!

Sep 08, 2009
ponocat in Pacific Northwest

where to eat in oahu?

I ate at Chef Mavro's last week and found it to be as disappointing as when I ate there 5 years ago. The ambiance of the place is great, but the food is not worth the cost. The worst course of the 6-course meal was the soggy lobster tail in weak broth. The best was the goat cheese mousse. Too bad that Alan Wong doesn't have a nice restaurant (physically) like Mavro. It would be great to dine in a nice place where you can have a conversation, and also have wonderful food.

Aug 15, 2009
ponocat in Hawaii

Michel Bras / Kai Knives

I also was in the market for some new knives, albeit three years after you. I looked on the Internet, but needed to actually feel the knife. I had never even heard of the Michel Bras knives, but when I lifted one, it was like magic in my hand. I tried several other knives in the store, but none had, IMO, the perfect balance and feel that the MB had. I'd intended to buy only a couple of knives, but decided to splurge on the whole set. My love for them has only increased over the four months I've had them. I consider them worth every penny of the hard-earned money I paid for them. They're close to perfect.

Aug 14, 2009
ponocat in Cookware

Cooking with dried Galangal?

Anyone have experience cooking with dried galangal? It won't shred like the fresh, and I am sure that it won't be as good as fresh, but it is what I have. Any advice on using it correctly would be appreciated.

May 17, 2009
ponocat in Home Cooking

Excellent Dining Experience at Nage (Dupont Cir.)

I hate to have to report that my next experience at Nage, in March 2009, was just awful. I again had the steak frites—tough steak overcooked and frites that were cold. Sent it back and got cold fries again. The appetizer included a garlic spread on toast. The garlic spread was refrigerator-cold and therefore absolutely unpleasant. The frogs legs were served in about 2 cups of canned chopped tomatoes. This is cooking??? What a disappointment.

Outside Tokyo/Kyoto Recommendations??

Thanks for the info, deraumai.

Local specialties or food in general? Definitely specialties. I enjoy not only the flavor, but also the art of Japanese food, so I have become a fan of kaiseki.

Is that miso that's darker called "hatcho" (sp?)?

Apr 10, 2009
ponocat in Japan

Outside Tokyo/Kyoto Recommendations??

Robb S, thanks for the reply and the links. They are very, very helpful. I will put Kanazawa on my itineray. Also, am now researching Fukuoka.

One of the links contains a reply that says Kagoshima and Hokkaido are excellent food destinations? Have you been to either? If so, what did you think?

Apr 08, 2009
ponocat in Japan

Outside Tokyo/Kyoto Recommendations??

I am going to Japan to experience food and dining outside of Tokyo and Kyoto and would like help planning where to go and what to eat. Any help fellow chowhounders could give would be appreciated.

Apr 06, 2009
ponocat in Japan

Best burger in N. Dallas: Keller's or Jake's

I just visited Dallas and had fabulous burgers at both Keller's drive in and Jake's eat in. They reminded me somewhat of In-N-Out's in the west. What do others of you out there think? Which is best and why?

Feb 24, 2009
ponocat in Dallas - Fort Worth