Monday, July 20

Rose Garden, Bangkok

Rose Garden Riverside
Km 32 Pet Kasem Road, Sampran, Nakorn Pathom
T. +66 34 322 544

Rose Garden is to me the equivalent of Thai food heaven. Located just 45 minutes outside of Bangkok, its f&b outlets (so far, I have only gone to 4 out 6 of them) serves some of the most exquisite Thai dishes I have ever tasted. What stands out about the resort are its dishes made from recipes handed down over generations and its super fresh ingredients and herbs, culled from its very own gardens.

One of my favourite starters is this DIY dish comprising nuts, dried shrimp, cut lime, chilli, pork skin and a sweet spicy shrimp paste. Pack the different ingredients into a little parcel made of kailan (Chinese broccoli) leaves and you have a power snack bursting with flavour. My other favourite is the prik set – it’s a selection of four spicy dips served alongside a variety of fresh cut vegetables (cucumber, beans, baby eggplants, star shaped bean, etc). The best part about Indo China dishes is the proliferation of greens in just about anything. I usually order the local vegetables – either the sayadi (with leaves shaped like the money plant) or the pakachet (forget me not greens) stir fried in garlic and the little red chillis. This Rose Garden version is stir fried with mince, garlic and little chillis.
I also enjoy the more unusual salads they serve here – this is one made from a bean that has the cross section of the star, and the other with banana blossoms. Both equally delish.

Wong Chee Kei Noodle and Congee, Hong Kong

Wong Chee Kei Noodle and Congee
Wellington Street, Central (across from Wong Kee)

We came here specifically to try the won ton noodles with shrimp roe. Can't quite make up my mind about this dish – its basically noodles, topped with the slightly spicy roe mix that you toss with the noodles.

Golden Valley, Hong Kong

Golden Valley
The Emperor Hotel, Happy Valley

This is one of the better hot pot places in Hong Kong in my opinion. The meal starts with crushing up the sesame seeds before loading it with your favourite sauce mix.

We had the yin-yang pot, with part spicy and part clear broth. I also tried the most interesting of ingredients – this ball like looking thing that shrinks when cooked in the soup. As I found out later, this is actually made of soy and is quite a sponge, which works brilliantly in any hot pot.

Cova, Hong Kong

Branches islandwide

I made room also try these mango desserts – a mango tart and a mango cake. Yummy and just right for a “small bite”.

Breakfast, Hong Kong

Lan Fong Yuen
G/F Gage Street, Central (near the escalator)
T. 2545 3895

One breakfast dish I adore in Hong Kong, is the instant noodle with anything, at this hole in the wall joint in Central. This visit, I had it with the chicken chop. It was a tad heavy for me, first thing in the morning, but incredibly tasty nevertheless.

Sunday, July 19

Mimosa, Ho Chi Minh

153 Xo Viet Hghe Tinh, P17, D8

We took a drive outside of the city to come try this local favourite. Good thing too since we had a really nice bamboo shoot salad and tried this really unusual hot pot where the broth was a tad fruity and it came with ladies fingers and some kind of local squash in the soup.

Quan An Ngon, Ho Chi Minh

Quan An Ngon
138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghai

We tried broken rice, a local favourite at this tourist haunt. I can't quite decide if I like the dish, but I do enjoy the multitude of dips that came with everything else! From the pho bo (beef noodle soup), other noodle dishes and more wraps!

Ngoc Suong Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh

Ngoc Suong Restaurant
19C Le Quy Don, F6, Q3

This place served loads of “clean” food – simple dishes with the freshest of ingredients and a side of flavour enhancing dip.

We had the sweetest of prawns – eaten with a choice of a fish sauce, chilli or sesame dip. We also had a very simple grilled calamari, clams cooked in a lemongrass broth, crab in a tamarind sauce and more warps, this time, with seafood.

Home Cooking, Ho Chi Minh

I had the good fortune to be invited to lunch at a friend’s place. The star that afternoon was the kangkong (an Asian vegetable) salad. The stalks are thinly sliced, served raw, with spicy stir-fry beef. The taste is simply incredible I was told that this is readily found at home and less so at the restaurants.

And of course we had to complement the home cooking with loads more bought at the shop!

Dessert was this ever so tiny banana which had a very fragrant bite when eaten.

Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh

Ben Thanh Market

My favourite thing to do when in Saigon is to grab a meal at the Ben Thanh market. I particularly enjoy the multitude of d-i-y wraps. All you have to do is to pick the filling – roast pork, chicken, prawns, meatballs; the accompanying ingredients are generally the same – herbs, rice noodles, green veges, rice paper and the piquant spicy fish sauce dip. Delish.

Tan Nam Vietnamese Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh

Tan Nam Vietnamese Restaurant
60 Dong Du, D1

The concierge suggested we try this local haunt which was around the corner from the Caravelle. The single outstanding dish here was the lotus root salad. This is not the usual lotus root but some part of the plant that was soft yet crunchy and had the most interesting texture. It came accompanied with prawn crackers. Quite an interesting mix.

We also tried a local soup - what was evident was that most of the soups had a sour base, fairly similar to Thai soups, only much milder and not spicy.

Brodard Delicatessen, Ho Chi Minh

Brodard Delicatessen
Throughout the city

Ah… the French influence is evident here with the pastries and breads that are readily available at most bakeries.

Lien Hua, Ho Chi Minh

Lien Hua
381 Vo Van Tan, P5, Q3

This kicked off my feasting in Saigon – kueh teow (thin flat rice noodles) soup for brunch. It was served with a nice clear broth and a generous serving of the usual sides of beansprouts, lime, a variety of greens.

To further add to the selection, the owners had left little plates of snacks that you can pick on while waiting for your order. We tried the “tennis ball look alike” pastry which was a tad like our version of the ham jin peng (a fried dough pastry).

Sunday, July 6

Penang Street Eats


I spent four days and most of the waking hours during this visit, eating my way though this island, famed for its chilled out lifestyle and the most incredible street eats.

What is hidden beneath all that fresh lettuce is a very tasty pot of ba kut teh, a pork rib dish cooked in a fabulous herbal soup. Unlike the versions served in Singapore which are clear and peppery, the Malaysian style uses a dark soup base and is chocked full of herbs. Yums!

There is no such thing as "bad food" in Penang. Even the most ubiquitous looking stalls serve the most amazing meals. We stopped by this food centre on Ferringhi Beach and found the most amazing prawn noodle soup, fishball noodles and Penang style fried kway teow (flat rice noodles stir fried with sprouts and seafood).

I am not a fan of lor mee - noodles served with a dark sticky sauce and eaten with a dash of vinegar, fresh garlic and chilli paste, but a taste of this dish at a roadside stall (where else?!) made me a convert.

We had what the locals called Hokkien char - thick noodles stir fried with a sweet dark sauce with veggies and seafood. It was pretty fragrant, and tastes even better with sambal blachan (a spicy chilli dip).

We stopped by this roadside stall that serves fresh coconut - of the drink variety - the coconut is just cut up with a very deft hand and parang; and sea coconut - which you carve out with your fingers!

A drink that I was just introduced to - a pickled nutmeg juice. Part sour, part sweet, but altogether great for that hot afternoon. Aha! The Penang version of chee cheong fun (steamed rice sheets) is served with a prawn paste sauce unlike the sweet sauce in Singapore. It's somewhat of an acquired taste. The savoury flavours work pretty well with the silky soft rice rolls.
A fresh skin popiah (roll stuffed with stewed turnip and flavoured with sweet sauce, chilli and garlic), only the Penang version is eaten quite damp, with a little soup at the bottom of the dish.
The most refreshing ice kachang - shaved ice coloured by a variety of syrups (including sarsi!) and the freshest of corn, with many other hidden delights under the ice. Delish!
As you can tell, this is an extremely late post since I had lo hei (Chinese salad tossed with raw fish), which is typically served over Chinese New Year. And in true Singaporean fashion, I had to combine it with nothing less than a chilli crab dish, of course!
Nasi Lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) often served with fried ikan billis (anchovies), a fried egg and sambal blacan (a chilli dip). Fab meal for breakfast or lunch (and some say dinner!)