Category: Dining

The Hut at the Kerry

Hi!!! It’s National Holiday here in China,  and I get the entire week off! Well, I still have test prep and some research stuff, but that’s no big deal. Anyways, my mom’s high school classmate living Australia is in China with her daughter for the holidays, so celebration was mandatory! She happened to be staying right by the Kerry and of course I knew just the restaurant to go to.

The Hut

The Hut is one of the newer and more successful restaurants in the Kerry. On a typical weekend, lunch usually requires at least a 30 minute wait and dinner requires a reservation. The restaurant was actually fully booked by the time my dad and I got there, but luckily, my mom arrived early and snagged a spot in a corner- the only unbooked table in the entire restaurant.

Food

What makes The Hut so good? The food of course! It features traditional Huaiyang cuisine with a modern twist and some seriously skilled plating. The food is very soup and seafood/fish focused, but for those who aren’t fans, the place makes some mean meat dishes. I got to order so here were the standout dishes

Smoked Yellow Croaker- This is their one of their signature dishes. Basically, they rub incredibly fresh small yellow croakers with a magic spice blend and smoke it in a magic oven. I used magic twice because magic is the only way to describe this dish. The skin has a slight texture and incredible flavor while the meat is equally flavorful and not only tender, but juicy! The smoking brings out the natural oils in the fish which added an extra, buttery, depth of flavor. Also, the dish comes in single servings, so each person gets their own. No need to share with hungry competitors  friends.

Braised Radish with abalone sauce- This is another signature dish. The Chinese name literally translates to “Beautiful person’s treasure chest”. I don’t know about the beautiful person’s part but it’s sure a treasure chest of flavor. The radish is braised tender, the covered in a thick, rich and extremely umami abalone sauce (also a house specialty). Honestly, I’ve had my share of abalone sauces, but this is by far the thickest and best. Also, the lightness of the radish makes it the perfect compliment to the sauce, leaving the palate clean.

 

Boiled lamb ribs- This is not a huaiyang dish, nor is it a specialty of the restaurant; however, a good restaurant excels in all dishes on the menu. I must say, I was pretty impressed. The lamb itself was tender, not too fatty and actually pretty flavorful, even without spices. The one disappointment was that the menu promised special sauce, but we only got a small thing of hot oil and cumin

Bean curd strips in Shark Fin soup- Bean curd strips in soup (煮干丝)is about as traditional as Zhejiang cuisine gets. Usually, the dish is cooked in chicken or pork stock and includes some crab roe and salted egg. However, The Hut managed to elevate it to a whole new level by using shark fin soup. It was umami through the roof and actually almost matched the radish in amazingness.

Also recommended but not ordered

Shrimp roe stuffed bean curd roll

Eel stuffed crispy pork intestine- don’t judge this one until you’ve tried it.

Orange spiced fire roasted duck

Fish head casserole

Atmosphere and Service

 

The atmosphere was lively but very elegant, which makes it perfect for a special event, receiving friends or even business dinner. It would also be a great place for a date night, but a having a party of only two people really limits the food experience. The service was also fast and great, but the wait staff are a bit slow with the water.

Overall Impression

Overall, The Hut is an AMAZING restaurant. Just be prepared to wait a bit.

So that’s it for this week! I hope everyone, whether on holiday or not, has a great week. See you soon!

 

 

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RAW eatery and Wood Grill

Hi! How’s your week been? If its been surprisingly chill, then we have something in common. Last week (I consider Sunday the 7th day of the week)  featured two tests, timed writings and a lab, so this week, we got a bit of a break. Well….. study break= little weekend homework= time to explore and eat!!!!!

Where to go? I was stuck too, until I flipped through a magazine and found a raving review on a restaurant called Raw eatery and Wood Grill. Raw food+ coal oven? Count me in!

RAW Eatery and Wood Grill

 

RAW is a small,chic, upscale bar-style “Spanish” (although far more south American) restaurant. As the name suggests, they’re proud of their raw dishes, which they believe “best preserves the natural beauty of the ingredients”. But, tartare and ceviche aren’t for everyone, so they included a “Wood Grill”- a super high powered Josper charcoal oven where they stick mostly steaks, but also everything from chicken to cauliflower into.

Food

I admit, I was initially disappointed when I saw the small size of the menu

However, that disappointment vanished. Everything sounded so good! I wanted tartare, ceviche, steak, chicken….. but our stomachs and pocketbook has limits. Here’s what we ate:

Bread basket- Each table gets a complimentary bread basket and two flavored butters. For 28RMB, you get 3 more flavors. People online raved about the flavored butters, but since both my dad and I aren’t really bread and butter people, we stuck with the free stuff. The bread was beautifully grilled, but to be honest, nothing special

63 degree Egg- Sous Vide is all the rage now, and the 63 degree egg gets it perfect. The yolk was perfectly soft and the whites were pillowy, not raw. OF course a sous vide egg on its own is hardly a dish. The egg came on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and AMAZINGLY fresh and juicy mushrooms.

Roasted Cauliflower- This dish is simple and self explanatory- cauliflower roasted in the Josper oven and finished with olive oil and truffle; however, it completely changed how I view cauliflower. The cook was perfect with a bit of char at the ends and had quite a strong truffle taste. I must say though, the seasoning could have been more even. Other than that, it was a perfect appetizer

Anchovy crusted Buratta- If you know me, you’ll know I’m a HUGE sucker for grilled/baked fish. Last night was no exception and I have NO regrets. The filet was 1) HUGE 2) fresh and 3) AMAZINGLY seasoned. The anchovy crust brought an unparalleled depth of flavor that penetrated the entire filet. The dish also came with charred fennel, beautiful baby carrots and roasted heirloom tomatoes. Honestly, the steak lovers have NO CLUE on what their missing out on.


Roasted Argentinean Chicken- Even though fish is my thing, I was really craving something charred and with crispy skin. Half a chicken stuck in a high powered oven should do the trick right? Well…. sort of. The skin was nice and charred but it was soaked in a slightly too salty, although very flavorful au jus like liquid. The chicken itself was incredibly juicy. Unfortunately, the flavoring and spices, for the most part, failed to penetrate into the meat, so it was quite bland. Honestly, even if you’re trying to save money, get a steak instead.

What I wish we tried:

  1.      Tartare with Smoked Egg yolk
  2. Buratta
  3. Icelandic codfish ceviche
  4. STEAK!!!!

Service/ Atmosphere

 

Both were good to say the least. We arrived quite early, so apart from a small group of 4 at the table in front of us, we were alone. Despite this, the place didn’t feel empty or depressed, like some sub-par restaurants do. I absolutely LOVED the simple, chic decor. The wait staff were very attentive and food arrived a lot faster than expected.

Overall Experience

Overall, I highly recommend this restaurant, but to get the most out of dinner, bring some friends over to wine and dine!

That’s it for this week, See everyone soon!

 

 

Dimsum at May Love

Hi!!! Sorry for missing a post last week. Nothing tasty came my way, so I took the week off. Anyways, I knew I had to make this up, and luckily, we just happened to be around Times Square (the one in Shanghai)- opportunity much?

As usual, I wanted Japanese, but before we could find a good quality one, my dad and I stumbled into an alleyway and discovered a Mr.Pancake, Asjen Ramen and:

Suddenly, Dimsum sounded really great.

Food

The great thing about dim sum is that all flavors and textures are represented in small packages, so even with only two people, I had the luxury of ordering some pretty varied items.

Unfortunately, however, the restaurant was out of roasts, as well as many stir fried dishes 😦 I was really craving some crackling. The good news: all the steamed items were available. Here’s what I ordered:

Har Gao- I literally order har gao at every dim sum restaurant I go to, so how did these compare? Well, they were average. They had an intense flavor and nice skin, but the shrimp could have been more fresh and they needed a fresh element- like bamboo shoots or water chestnut- to balance the seafood taste.

Fish and water chestnut dumplings- I love fish dumplings, so I had high very high expectations for this one. For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed. The fish was fresh and had an amazing springy texture. The water chestnut was bright and sweet, which perfectly complemented the fish. However, the wait staff must have left it out a bit too long because they were a bit cold and sticky

 (sry for the bad pic, I was so excited to dig in)

Truffle-spiced mushroom dumplings- This was definitely my favorite item. The skin was thin and springy, but the filling is the bomb! First, I could actually taste the truffle. I’m no expert, but those dumplings were sooo aromatic. Second, the mushrooms were bathed in an amazing, thick soup, which prevented the filling from being dry/ rubbery. ORDER THIS

Beef balls with tofu skin- I must say, this dish was the lowlight if the dinner. The meat itself was quite good and not too fatty and had a nice texture, but the balls were flavorless. Not worth it.

 

The restaurant offers a promotion where for ever 100RMB spent on stir-fried dishes, there is a 20RMB discount. It’s a pretty good deal to take advantage of if you’re with a group. Unfortunately, my dad fell for it and ordered an extra dish no one touched

Overall, the food was very good, but the flavors all melted together. I would probably suggest varying the types of dishes to prevent the law of diminishing marginal returns from kicking in too soon.

Service

The service was fairly quick and good. The wait staff were attentive and obliging. My biggest complain would be that some of the menu items- ie all the roasts and poultry dishes- were unavailable. Honestly, going at an earlier time should resolve that issue

Atmosphere

 

The restaurant had a nice and casual, cafe-like atmosphere. I especially liked the couches and giant screen playing an old concert rerun from Hong Kong singer 邓子琪. However, it was a bit disorganized and dirty plates were often stacked next to the water jugs before being bussed away.

Overall Experience

Overall, I enjoyed the food, atmosphere and service. There could be some improvements, but I would recommend this place as a brunch or causal hangout dinner with friends.

So, that’s it for this week. I’ll have another dining experience to share next week, so see you then!

 

 

Summer Pt.2: Best eats

Hi!!! As promised, I’m back. My first week as a junior is over and it is definitely WAYYYY busier than freshman and sophomore year. Anyways, it’s the weekend now, and I want to finish my summer recap before fall sets in, so let’s get started! Part 2: Food

Honestly, I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the amazing food scenes of some of the cities I visited, but I still hit three standout spots.

1. Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack (Iowa City)

At camp, I mentioned to one of the counselors that I liked smoked meats/bbq, and this was the first place he recommended. The next day, I walked over for lunch, and discovered just how lucky these college kids were. I wanted the 3 meat platter, but there was no way I could finish everything 😦  I ordered a pulled pork sandwich instead.

 It was AMAZING. The meat was tender and incredibly smoky. So, the next week, I came back and got a half rack of ribs

 No disappointment here. The ribs were not fall of the bone, but they had such flavor I actually appreciated the extra chew. They were also not too fatty, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable, despite the nearly pound of meat.

Other notes: The service is amazingly fast and the people are courteous. They also have a complementary toppings bar with housemade pickles and over 15 types of sauce!. However, as a trade-off, it’s not exactly college- budget friendly. Still, I highly recommend it

2. EMC Raw Bar

We go to Irvine every summer, but since we stay in an apartment complex thing, we don’t really go out to eat. When we do, it’s usually to the Chinese places down the street or some sushi place we happen to drive by. One day, after doing some shopping in Heritage Plaza, I noticed a new building

Seafood and raw bar? Now that’s my type of restaurant. It was already noon, so why not try it out?

The menu was small but extensive with a large variety of quite creative dishes like uni(sea urchin) avocado toast  as well as more traditional soups and pastas. Before any of that, oysters to start!

These were the Chesapeake bay oysters, which were very tasty and fresh, but small. I would recommend some of the larger (but more expensive) varieties.

For mains, I got charbroiled whitefish filet and my mom got the spicy seafood soup

(I was too excited and started eating before remembering to take a pic)

I’ll start with the soup. My mom didn’t think it would be enough to fill her up for lunch, but she could not have been more wrong. It was loaded with clams, muscles, shrimp……and just to satisfy those who just need carbs, the soup came with some garlic bread.

Mom thought she hit the jackpot, until my dish arrived. The whitefish was not only fresh, it was JUICY. yes, a juicy fish. Even better, I could still taste the char.

Other notes: For sides, I highly recommend the grilled corn or one of the toasts. This is definitely more of a fancy dinner place (perfect for date night!)The food also took a while to arrive.

3. Pinefish

While in Philly visiting UPENN,  I was really craving seafood, so I did a quick search on Yelp and found that this place called Pinefish had $1 oysters during happy hour. Yep, $1. We were going.

It took a while to navigate all the one ways, but we eventually arrived to this:

 

Turns out, the happy hour oysters actually existed! Even better, cocktail shrimp and clams were also included in the deal!.  So, we did the logical thing and ordered a dozen of each.

 (our first batch)

I must say, the oysters were a bit disappointing, but GET THE CLAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oysters, clams and shrimp are great, but not enough for dinner. The waitress brought us the menus. My dad and brother aren’t seafood people so they got overpriced meat dishes (not worth discussing). My mom and I took advantage of the place. Strangely enough, we ordered almost the same things we did at EMC.

 (grilled fish of the day- I don’t recall what fish)

 (Spanish spicy seafood soup)

This place was like EMC, but 5x better. I swear the fish I ate was still swimming this morning. Basically if you’re ever in Philly, find this place.

Other notes: They bring seafood in fresh everyday and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Come early. The service was actually pretty fast, but the highlight was the great attitude of the staff.

Well, I hope you get a chance to check out the AMAZING restaurants. I’ll be back soon with the final installment. See you then!

 

Dim Sum Brunch at the Pullman

Hi!!!! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’m back!!! Yesterday, one of my mom’s college friends came over from Nanjing to visit. Usually, I’m usually not interested in these meetings, but she’s been working in Sweeden for a while. I was interested so I asked to tag along. Of course, lunch was a must. She happened to arrive by rail at the Shanghai Railway Station, so we knew just where to go.

The Century

 (I know, not the best picture)

The Century is an upscale dim sum restaurant at the Pullman Shanghai Jin’An. It’s literally less than a block from the south plaza of the railway station. Alternatively, take metro line 4 to the railway station and any exit will get you within 400m.

Unlike many other dim sum places, it follows more of a traditional, western, breakfast-lunch-dinner schedule. We arrived around 11, and it was pretty clear lunch hadn’t started yet. We had the staff and fish as company.

Of course, that wasn’t a problem. Less people means less waiting right?

Food

My mom and I have been here a couple of time before, so our expectations were through the roof. It was only the three of us, so we couldn’t order everything I wanted. We did get some of my favorites:

Steamed Items

Har Gao- Most, if not all, dim sum places have har gao. This place, however, takes it to another level. The skin is delicate and thin, but the star is the filling. It’s literally whole pieces of incredibly fresh shrimp with bits of bamboo shoots mixed in for another layer of texture and flavour.

Abalone Siu Mai- Siu mai is another must order dim sum dish. To me, it’s actually the true test of a dim sum place. I’ve only ever remember going to one or two places with truly good siu mai. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. The flavor was definitely there, but the filling was overcooked and the skin was soggy and sticky.

Truffle and mushroom dumpling- While siu mai and har gao are traditional, this dish is definitely not. This was actually the best dim sum item I had there, every time. When having one, the gel-like skin melts away to reveal an incredibly aromatic and light, yet surprisingly meaty, filling. The textures were also on point. This is a must!

Char Siu Pastry- I’m not a fan of pastries, but my mom’s practically an expert. According to her, the Char siu pastry is the bomb. We ordered it, and sure enough, they didn’t disappoint. The pastry was crispy on the out side while flaky, buttery, but not overly rich inside. Definitely a good choice

Durian Pastry- Durian isn’t for everyone, but this place has got it down. The rich, slightly savoury pastry and incredible quality of ingredients really tones down the unpleasantness of durian. Again, highly suggested.

Roasts

No dim sum meal would be complete without some roasts.

Crispy skin roast pork- This dish was literally the best thing we ordered. The meat was perfectly tender, juicy and seasoned as well as not too fatty. The skin could not have been crispier. No reheating here! Of the 12 pieces, 10 were gone within 2 minutes

Mixed roasts platter (three item, half order)- I was just missing my pork, when this dish arrived. The three item platter consists of char siu, roast goose and, of course, more pork. The pork was still the star. The char siu had great flavor, but lacked much texture- too soft. The goose was cooked perfectly, but WAY too fatty. Honestly, this dish is overpriced (118rmb/ half order). I suggest ordering the pork and char siu separately.

Other items I highly recommend

Tofu casserole

Enoki mushroom in soup

Pickled Turnips

Roast squab (pigeon)

any of the steamed seafood

Service

Overall, the service was amazing. The food came out very fast and the staff were extremely polite and attentive. However, compared to the last few times, service quality has dipped, but that’s probably because we came at a very awkward time

Overall, this restaurant is AMAZING for any occassion, but come with a group for the best experience!

That’s it for this week… and the rest of summer. Until August, Bye!

Fun with Friends at the Oriental Pearl Tower

Hi!!! Long time no post. It’s been pretty busy with review and exams these past two weeks, but almost done! (Bio tomorrow) Yesterday, I finally got my SATIIs out of the way and I was going to suggest going out for dinner. As it turns out, I didn’t need to. My dad’s college classmate in Munich, the same ones we visited, came to Shanghai on Thursday with her two kids. We had such a great time at her place last summer in Munich(actually, I pretty much cleaned off the berries) so I really looked forward to seeing her again. Dinner was a must and so was visiting LuJiaZui, so why not kill two birds with one stone: Eat at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.

 (The restaurant is in the second ball)

About the Tower

The Oriental Pearl Tower is among Pudong’s first attractions. It’s 486 meters high with the restaurant at 267m, pretty high up there! There are also observation decks, including one at 263m with a cool glass walkway:

As well as an arcade/amusement park at 98m

Not a fan of heights? At the ground floor, there’s a Shanghai city museum, an aquarium nearby and some pretty decent restaurants.

The Restaurant

The Revolving Restaurant is one of the coolest eateries EVER!!! For 328RMB/ person (a bit overpriced), you get to eat dinner while enjoying a full 360 view of the Bund and LuJiaZui over the course of 2 hours.

 

Another perk, there’s no epic queueing to get up there. Those going to the restaurant have a “Special entryway” up the tower. They expect you to go straight to the restaurant, but there’s nothing to stop you from heading down a couple of stairs to the observation deck. As long as 1/2 of the group is in the restaurant 30 minutes before the reserved time, everything’s fine. It was 5:30 and everyone was pretty hungry, so we headed directly for the food.

Food

Speaking of food, it was mediocre at best. There was a large selection, but it was more quantity over quality.

Most of the food was slow to be replaced or over/under seasoned. The Japanese/Seafood section, usually my favorite, lacked quantity or quality. We had to wait almost an hour before they stopped “running out of sashimi”. The rolls were also horrendous. The worst part was that nearly everything was cold and had obviously been sitting out for a while. This was especially obvious in the soft skins and pooled fat of the Cantonese roasts.

Not everything was bad though. The sausage was better than most places in China and the grill was pretty great, but had pretty epic queueing. The highlight was definitely the mini hot pot. There was a pretty wide variety of items ranging from tofu to pork belly to seaweed to more exotic items such as quail egg and intestine.

Fortunately, our guests were far more impressed with the food.

Visiting tips:

  1.  Unless epic queues and cheesy arcade games are your thing, don’t buy tickets for anything other than DINNER at the revolving restaurant. Avoid going between 4-6, since that’s the awkward time between peak meal times with the worst food.
  2. Remember, queues are unavoidable. A direct ticket up does not mean a direct ticket down. It took us a good 40 min to actually get down.
  3. Definitely go slightly before sunset on a clear day, especially in the warmer months. It is BEAUTIFUL.

 

Well, that’s it for this post. Have a great week and see you soon!

 

 

YuZu at HSBC Tower

Hi!!! Usually on Sundays, we go out for dinner at some mediocre restaurant because we’re too lazy to cook. Yesterday, however, we had not 1 but special occasions to celebrate: my birthday, my parent’s anniversary and the 120th birthday of my parent’s alma mater- Zhejiang University

 Some classmates paid to have the empire state building blue!

With that in mind, a mediocre restaurant wasn’t going to cut it. I really liked Japanese, so my dad scouted out Yuzu at the HSBC.

YuZu

YuZu is a fairly high end restaurant on the 46th floor of the HSBC building in LuJiaZui. Although it’s pretty big, it’s still hard to get reservations. Fortunately, my dad called in early so we did get a table with a pretty sick view

Food

The menu has a fairly wide selection of traditional Japanese dishes and some other additions. Ordering a la carte is okay, but if you’re hungry and like Japanese food, pay 300rmb/ person and you can order unlimited items from the menu! Of course that’s what we did. In fact, we got at least 15 dishes. Here are the highlights

 Monkfish Liver in Vinegar

Fun fact! Monkfish is actually not a fish but a type of shark. Biology aside it’s liver is very tasty. The classic “liver taste” is definitely there but much milder and the salty vinegar helps remove the fishiness. It was also very fresh, unlike the frozen, half-thawed version I had before.

 Sashimi Platter (octupus, uni and surf clam)

You have to order each sashimi separately and it is quite expensive. Unlimited ordering for the win! The sashimi was very fresh and both the surf clam and octopus were pleasantly tender. The uni was sweet and rich, but it’s best to eat it fast, or else the ice melts and you end up eating water logged sea urchin 😦

 Horse Meat Sashimi

Yes, horse meat, as in the 4 legged equestrian animal. I always like trying strange new foods, so I was very excited to try this. I must say, I was quite disappointed. The meat was extremely fresh and tender, but it tasted like beef, but milder.

 Smoked Ray fish Fin

This is another of the “try new” dishes. It was really good and tastes a lot like Chinese dried fish snack but thicker and chewier. I suggest this and would make a snack.

 Fermented Soy beans

Apparently, this is great for digestion, so we ordered it. To put it frankly, it’s just moldy soybeans used as the base for miso. It wasn’t bad, but slimy and tasteless. I wouldn’t suggest this.

 Grilled Tuna Neck

This was literally the highlight of the night. The fish was perfectly charred and seasoned. The meat was tender and VERY fresh. The neck is dense but not too fatty, perfect!

We also ordered some very good but ordinary dishes, for example, yakatori chicken, grilled salmon fin and various sushis. Honestly, anything on the menu would probably taste at least decent.

Service

The service overall was great, but there were some glaring inconsistencies. The staff attitude was on point; however, some of the dishes were unusually slow to come out. For example, our pickle platter was one of the first things we ordered but one of the last to arrive. My mom joked that they had to grow the vegetables and pickle them before serving. Other dishes, like the grilled tuna neck came out pleasantly fast and surprisingly so.

Overall Impression

Overall, YuZu is a great choice for any occasion with great food, atmosphere and service. I will definitely find “excuses” for going back.

I hope everyone has a good week and see you next week!

 

 

Il Bambino at the The Cool Docks

Today is May 1st, China’s labour day so no school :). Since there’s no school, we decided to go out for dinner in PuXi at The Cool Docks. There were quite a few restaurants. I wanted Japanese and Korean Barbecue, but my brother wanted Italian. Thus, we ended up at Il Bambino

The Cool Docks

The Cool Docks are one of Shanghai’s newer attractions. It’s a little alcove of restaurants and bars about 500m from the ferry stop. Due to an ongoing project to expand the bund, most of the area around was under construction. That kind of ruined the scenery, but once its done, there’ll be a fully connected riverside path. So Pretty!!!!

 

When we got there, it was quite late and we were pretty hungry. We took a little loop to scout out a restaurant. My brother wanted Italian; he got Italian.

Il Bambino

Il Bambino is the only Italian Restaurant in the Cool Docks. I personally don’t like Italian food and I was fully prepared to argue; however, I noticed 2 things: 1) The restaurant looked nice 2) Steak was 40% off! We followed a VERY courteous waiter in.

Food

The menu is not very large. It had a couple of appetizers, pastas, risotto, seafood and of course steak. Despite the steak promotion, the menu was definitely seafood heavy. So, onto the food.

I had every intention of ordering steak, but the Mixed Seafood Platter caught my eye before I made it to the steak selection. The description promised calamari, crab, prawns, cod, salmon and lobster on a bed of spring vegetables and with lemon parsley juice. I expected a pile of grilled seafood coated in rich butter. When it arrived, I got a beautifully plated, but disappointingly small, portion of the promised seafood. It was well oiled, but the lemon cut through very well. On the other hand, the calimari and prawns were a bit overcooked 😦 More vegetables would also have been nice. Overall, a fresh and delicious dish.

 ( not a great pic…. but it’s the taste that matters)

My brother went straight for the steak menu. He order a beef tenderloin with foie gras, mushroom sauce and mash potatoes. It was, in his words, amazingly delicious. It was so good, in fact, that he ordered a second one. The steak was perfectly medium- rare and incredibly tender as well as well seasoned. The mash looked smooth and paired perfectly with the sauce and foie gras. Not into fattened goose liver? No problem, just tell the server. On a side note, this dish does take quite a while to make. Be prepared to wait.

My mom ordered a cut of veal with red wine sauce and potato puree. It too, was beautifully plated and extremely tender despite being ordered medium; however, it was very under-seasoned. Luckily, there was plenty of salt in the shaker.

My dad ordered lobster linguine. Honestly, he would have been better off getting steak, but his choice. I’m not into pasta, especially when it’s drenched in an oily sauce, but I must say, the lobster was very tender.

Apparently, as part of the steak deal, ordering the veal gets you a choice between tiramisu and durian cake as a free dessert. My brother hates durian and tried to get the tiramisu, but my mom ordered the veal. It was her choice; she picked the durian cake. It was pretty, but apparently the durian wasn’t fresh 😦 It was a pretty disappointing end to her dinner.

Service and Atmosphere

Il Bambino is quite new. That is both good and bad for the service and atmosphere:

Good

  •  wait staff is exceedingly courteous
  • the restaurant was pretty much empty so we got a private booth with full view of the river
  • The interior looked new and sharp

Bad

  •  Lack of customers => slow service
  • The restaurant felt very empty and lonely

Overall Impression

Overall, Il Bambino is a great restaurant, but it could pay more attention to some little details. I think more time will bring more customers and the kinks should work themselves out.

Anyways, that was the perfect way to spend what would have been a lazy Sunday evening. Hope you week is/was great! Bye!

 

The Cook buffet at the Kerry

Hi!!! I know this post is late but I’ve been busy. On Sunday, I participated in the International History Bee and Bowl China regionals. I didn’t really prepare, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I actually made it into the finals seeded second. Unfortunately, the Final was filled with US and ancient history questions, so I finished in an unspectacular 4th. Nevertheless, My mom decided it was occasion to celebrate and let me go the The Cook buffet.

The Cook

The Cook is one of the three restaurants owned by the Kerry. (There’s the Meat- a crazy expensive steakhouse/event space, and the Brew- exactly what it sounds like). The Cook has an al la carte menu, but it’s limited, expensive and terrible. The buffet, although far from cheap, is a much better choice. Just be sure to come VERY hungry.

Food

The Cook has a fairly large selection of Asian and Western dishes. There’s roasts, stir fries, salad, noodle bar, meats, seafood/sushi etc.

 

 

Although the selection is not the biggest, the diversity can get quite overwhelming. I stuck to my favorites:

The char-grilled fish (The ones on skewers) were amazing. The guy actually grills it in front of you and he uses real coals. Some came out a bit too  burnt, but most of them were perfectly charred. The fish grill also does salmon, but the meat was dry. I was surprised that the offered the head. Salmon head irritates my stomach, but it’s irresistible.

   

I had been to The Cook a few times before, but they added a few , VERY DELICIOUS, items. They added a small Tai section. It had curry, roti, which I don’t like. Among those dishes was chicken tika- amazingly charred, perfectly spiced and tender chicken pieces. Next to the tai section, was a small corner with 3 dishes. There, I discovered stewed cow skin. Sounds gross? It’s not. It has the gelatinous, collagen texture of pork trotters, but far thicker and WAY less fatty. The dish was rich, slightly spicy and sweet. AMAZING.

 (My most disappointing plate)

Unfortunately, not everything was so rosy. The western section was quite lacking. I got what I thought was a perfectly cooked steak. While perfectly cooked, it was cold and bland. The roasts, with exception of the chicken, were also soft and greasy. I think the problem wasn’t so much the quality, but the fact that it had been left out- one of the downsides of buffets.

Service/ Atmosphere

Buffets don’t really have service per say, but the servers were quick about removing used plates. I would suggest going a bit earlier. That way, you can avoid cold, sub par food. The restaurant usually pretty empty, but the bright lights and music keep it lively

On a side note, the buffet is expensive, a bit excessively so. It’s 298RMB/ person plus a 50RMB service charge.

Overall Impression

Overall, the food, atmosphere, and service make The Cook a great place for a celebration or special event. I’ll definitely come back again and see if they have anything new next time.

 

 

Review: Pure and Whole

It’s the week after Spring Break and everyone’s about back into “study mode”. Actually teachers are kicking into high gear in preparation for AP exams. However, that didn’t stop us from going out to eat.

Normally, we’d go to Thumb Plaza, but my mom agreed to take me to the Kerry. There’s a chic vegetarian restaurant I’ve always wanted to go to. Yesterday was the perfect chance. Pure and Whole for the win!!!

 ( the lighting was a bit off)

We arrived at around 6:20, but the restaurant was pretty empty. I was pretty worried until I saw the pile of orders on the counter. Apparently, they have a pretty booming delivery service.

Food

The menu was small but extremely varied. There were appetizers, soups, seasonal salads, pasta, curry, burgers and dessert- all vegan for the most part. Unlike most restaurants in China, Pure and Whole published it’s menu on it’s website (click here). As much as we would like to have sampled the fresh and beautifully plated appetizers and salads, it was only the two of us, so we stuck to entrees.

My eyes immediately fell on the mushroom burger

( sorry, took picture after I took a few bites)

I must say I was a bit disappointed. The bun was disproportionally thick;  the “patty” was a bit bland and small. There was also a strange creamy spread that I didn’t like. However, I must say  that everything was amazingly fresh and well cooked. The actual star of the show was the little cup of pickled vegetables- perfectly vinegary and crunchy.

My mom was smarter, she got the quinoa bowl

 (sorry, terrible photo)

This dish is honestly one of the healthiest, but still delicious dinners ever. It’s basically a mix of a bit of quinoa, pumpkin, broccoli, carrots, beans and avocado. It came with a sauce on the side, but that was way too salty. The portion was also quite generous, almost enough for 2 people.

Side note: The food was quite expensive, 68rmb for my burger and 72rmb for the quinoa bowl.

Service

The food was good, but the service was a bit lacking. Our food came slowly and I felt ignored by the servers. On several occasions, I noticed dishes ready and servers free, but a delay in bringing the dishes out. On a positive note, their attitude was very good and they gave me a free serving of that amazing pickled cabbage.

Overall Impression

Overall, Pure & Whole is a great place for fresh, healthy, vegetarian food- a jewel in China’s often  pork and oil obsessed dining scene. I would love to try some  other items, especially the vegetable masala, spring rolls and black bean burger.

Anyways, have a great week!