Thursday, October 23, 2014

Basel, Switzerland - Walliser Kanne

large basket of bread to go with the main course

the BEST fondue in Basel!

Restaurant Name : Walliser Kanne
Location : Gerbergasse 50, Basel, 4001, Switzerland

Rating : 5 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around CHF 90 / person (2 course dinner with alcohol)

Summary : If you're in Switzerland in the winter time, then the one dish you must try is the fondue, because this is one of the signature national dishes of Switzerland, and it is sooo yummy!  And in Basel, the best place to have this national dish is at the Walliser Kanne located in old town Basel.  Once you bite into the piece of bread that has been drenched with the boiling cheese cooked with a good serving of Kirsh, it is like tasting heaven on earth!  For someone who is on a strict low-carb diet, meaning no bread/noodle/rice, anything with starch, in the evening, I broke my own rule big time tonight because I had to have this amazing fondue!  And it was totally worth it!!!

Even after feeling completely stuffed, I was still tempted to dip one last piece of bread into the fondue pot just to have one more taste of the yummy cheese. ^_*

Overall, if you're in Switzerland in the winter, definitely have the fondue!  No questions asked!

trying to scoop up the last bit of cheese

street view of Walliser Kanne

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Basel, Switzerland - Johann

L'amuse bouche

chestnut soup with Kirsh, flambeed apples
and cinnamon croutons

filet of codfish with a crust of herbs, white wine sauce,
betroot puree and pumpkin

Restaurant Name : Johann
Location : St-Johanns Ring 34, Basel, 4056, Switzerland

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around CHF 70 / person (2 course dinner with glass of wine)

Summary : Another triumphant dining experience in Basel!  Restaurant Johann serves Swiss cuisine with a modern twist, in a relaxing and sort of modern chalet dining room with large wooden tables.  

The amuse bouche was literally a surprise for me, since I did not expect a Swiss restaurant to serve L'amuse bouche, but apparently "modern" Swiss restaurants have this practice...  It was actually a substantial serving of creamy risotto, cooked al dente, served with slightly tangy pomegranate seeds to contrast the creamy risotto.  It was a good balance.  For starter, I had the chestnut soup.  Apparently chestnut is in season during the Autumn.  I was VERY glad to have chosen the soup for my starter, because the taste was superb!  While it was a creamy soup, it was not heavy, and I was very pleasantly surprised when I scooped a slice of the flambeed apple at the bottom of the soup.  The slightly sour taste from the apple coupled with the creamy chestnut soup was such a delight to the taste buds!  Then for the main dish, I had the cod fish, which was actually a big serving!  I was already feeling quite full after the risotto and soup... but the cod fish looked so yummy so I had to eat it ^_*  And I'm glad I did!  While the fish itself was well seasoned and cooked well, the wow factor for me was the beetroot puree.  Again, the slightly citrusy beetroot puree contrasted well with the creamy sauce on the cod fish.  Even thought I was so full, I still persisted to finish the dish because it was so yummy...

Overall, I would also highly recommend this restaurant.  The one drawback, again, is that its location is about 15 minutes away from old town Basel, on the tram...  However, this is a good reason to take a nice stroll back to old town after a very generously portioned dinner ^_*   

View of the bar area

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Basel, Switzerland - Oliv

vitello tonnato served with fennel salad and cucumber

manzo brasato with market vegetable and mashed potatoes

praline chocolate mousse with poached pear and almond ice cream

Restaurant Name : Oliv
Location : Bachlettenstrasse 1, 4054, Basel, Switzerland

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around CHF 100 / person (3 course dinner with alcohol)

Summary : This is a Mediterranean restaurant that serves high quality food at a reasonable price, so it is good value for money, especially in a city like Basel. The service is also attentive and the wait staff have a very good command of English, therefore this place is definitely tourist friendly. 

The menu changes frequently, and for this particular night I ordered the vitello tonnato for the starter, which are very thinly sliced veal served with a creamy sauce that was just the right amount of cream and citrus taste, and a side fennel salad that has a light dressing.  It balances out the creamy sauce very well.  Then for the main dish, I ordered the manzo brasato, which was absolutely delicious!  The beef was so tender that it almost melted in the mouth and the sauce was not overwhelming (even though it looks dark and salty). The praline chocolate mousse dessert was also delicious.  The crunchy bits of the praline countered the smooth texture of the chocolate mousse.

Overall, this was a very delicious meal and I would highly recommend this restaurant for anyone visiting Basel, Switzerland.  The only drawback is that the location of the restaurant is not close to old town Basel, so you can't take a nice stroll around town after dinner.  However, the restaurant is located within 5-8 minute walk from the main train station, so it's still very easily accessible.

exterior view of Restaurant Oliv

From the street, this restaurant does look much, once you enter, it's a small hallway that leads to a large dining area to the right, and a more private dining section to the left.  Since this was a work dinner, we were seated in the private dining section.

The decoration is plain, simple and clean, except for the many movie star pictures up on the wall in the private dining section.  When we asked about the pictures, we found out that these stars haven't visited the restaurant... so it was quite odd...  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Basel, Switzerland - Filini

steak tartar with slow cooked date tomatoes

sea bass with crust of 24-month old Parmesan,
served with spring peas and young carrots

Restaurant Name : Filini
Location : Steinentorstrasse 25, 4001 Basel, Switzerland

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around CHF 70 / person (2 course dinner with glass of wine)

Summary : For a restaurant located in a hotel, Filini actually serves high quality and delicious food that can rival many independent restaurants in Basel.  The steak tartar was perfectly seasoned and the meat was tender with no annoying chewy bits in any bite.  There was no need to add any seasoning to the steak tartar, not even mustard!  Even the tomatoes were greatly seasoned and really juicy.  As for the sea bass, it was also perfectly prepared, not overcooked and the layer of crispy parmesan cheese added an extra complexity of flavour to the dish.  An extra surprise came in the young carrots.  On the surface, the carrot looks like any other, however, when I bit into the carrot, there was a burst of honey flavour that contrasted harmoniously with the salty parmesan.  

Overall, this was a perfectly delicious meal in a casual and relaxing setting.  The draw backs of the meal were that the service was slightly inconsistent and slow at times, also the location of the hotel (Radisson Blu) is slightly away from old town Basel, where the view is much more pleasant than the street view outside of Filini.  Regardless, the food quality is outstanding at Filini and definitely worth a visit.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hong Kong - Bibo

L'Amuse Bouche

A perfectly cooked egg

Sweet bread

Perfectly grilled scallops

Tender and flavourful steak with foie gras and truffle

Succulent and deliciously tasty pork belly

Fluffy and airy chocolate souffle

Restaurant Name : Bibo
Location : 163 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $2,000 / person (3-course dinner with bottles of wine and tequila shots)

Summary : The food at Bibo was fantastic from L'Amuse Bouche to the Souffle.  While the plating and presentation was simple, the flavour was definitely not lacking.  Even though I enjoyed every dish we ordered, my favorites were the grilled scallops and the wagyu steak.  While I ordered the steak at "medium," the meat was still tender, and combining the meat with foie gras and truffle was just simply divine!    

The one "bad" thing that needed mentioning about the dining experience was the service - we felt we were being rushed by the staff because they have a 2nd seating at 9:30PM and didn't want us to wait too long to get our food.  They actually mentioned this to us more than once... which was a bit annoying... 

Apart from that, I would definitely recommend Bibo.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hong Kong - Isono @ PMQ

Steamed mussel with white wine sauce

Steak tartare

Roasted spring chicken

Panna cotta with wild berries

Restaurant Name : Isono @ PMQ
Location : 6/F Block B @ PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central, Hong Kong

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $250 / person (3-course set lunch with non-alcoholic drinks)

Summary :  For the October 1st holiday, Kalena and I decided to meet up for lunch, and thought we would try Isono @ PMQ.  To our pleasant surprise, Isono was not crowded (at first we wondered if that was a bad thing...)  After we were served the starters, both Kalena and I were very happy we decided on Isono for lunch, as the food was delicious.  Then, after we tasted our first bite of the roasted spring chicken, we were convinced that we would definitely revisit Isono again!  The chicken was so juicy and flavourful and every bite was a delight!  We ended the lunch with the panna cotta and again, it was delicious!  The panna cotta was creamy, but not too sweet, and the fresh wild berries gave a good balance to the creaming texture.  Even though the panna cotta was yummy, it was such a big portion that Kalena and I weren't able to finish it...

I would definitely recommend Isono @ PMQ, and would go back there to try other dishes.

Chic industrial interior design

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hong Kong - Sepa

Salted codfish on crispy polenta 

Ravioli filled with veal cheeks and parmigiano cheese,
with butter and thyme 

Beef with green pepper sauce with 'summer' eggplant

Mortadella ricotta cheese with black truffle 'Bomba'

Restaurant Name : Sepa
Location : 61 Caine Road, Soho, Central, Hong Kong

Rating : 1 Marylicious Star
Price Range : Around HK $400 / person (with non-alcoholic drink)

Summary : Since I've heard about this restaurant for a couple of months, and have had some difficulty getting a reservation, I was looking forward to finally getting a chance to try the food here while cousin Lily was visiting.  However, to my utmost disappointment, all the dishes we ordered were basically not worth eating...

The salted codfish on crispy polenta was bland and the polenta was very dry... The ravioli was also lacking taste and was actually a bit lukewarm... The beef, while tender, did not have any "wow" factor that was memorable...  Sarmidulu had ordered a "special" duck ragu pasta that we actually ended up sending back, because the duck was soooo dry, the temperature was very lukewarm and the taste was basically nonexistent...

So, if this is the level of standard at this new restaurant, unfortunately it will not last long in the competitive neighbourhood of Soho/Central...  

Interior of main dining area

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hong Kong - Hoi On Coffee Shop (海安冰室)

Dry noodle with spring onion flavour topped with cha siu

Thick toast with spring onion scrambled egg

Thick toast with egg topped with butter and served with honey

Restaurant Name : Hoi On Coffee Shop (海安冰室)
Location : 17 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Rating : 4 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $50 / person (with non-alcoholic drinks)

Summary : A fantastic Hong Kong style cha-chaan-teng that is family-owned and been around for more than 70 years.  The signature dry noodle and thick toast were super delicious and bursting with flavour.  The service is very friendly, which is very unusual for a cha-chaan-teng, or any restaurant in Hong Kong for that matter!  Additionally, the environment was clean and not extremely cramped!  I would highly recommend this cha-chaan-teng for any visitors to Hong Kong who want to try authentic Hong Kong style cha-chaan-teng food!!!

Unassuming entrance of the restaurant

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hong Kong - Eat Right

Grilled salmon fillet with Cajun vegetables

Grilled baby lamb fillet with tzatziki sauce

Restaurant Name : Eat Right
Location : 23 Staunton Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong

Rating : 3 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $200 / person (without drinks)

Summary : The concept behind Eat Right is to provide delicious food that is also healthy and full of nutrition.  And they have kept to their promise.  I usually order the grilled salmon fillet with Cajun vegetables and the taste is consistently delicious.  While it does not "wow" my taste buds with amazing flavours, the quality and taste is consistent and I would come back to this place when I feel like something tasty and healthy.  Juliette ordered the lamb fillet and also thought it was yummy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hong Kong - Oolaa (Soho)

Grilled NZ sirloin with hand cut fries and rocket salad

panna cotta

Restaurant Name : Oolaa (Soho)
Location : G/F Bridges Street, Soho, Central, Hong Kong

Rating : 2 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $150 / set lunch (with non-alcoholic drink)

Summary : Since I was having lunch alone, I sat at the cafe section of Oolaa.  The atmosphere is pleasant, with floor to ceiling windows that brought in plenty of sunlight into the dining area, and sufficient space between the tables.  While the surrounding is very inviting, the dishes I had from the lunch set menu left lots of room for improvement...

The grilled sirloin, while quite a good serving size, lacked flavour that makes the steak memorable.  I prefer steaks that are naturally flavourful, without needing external sauces to make it palatable...  As for the panna cotta dessert, while the presentation was very enticing, it tasted like a store bought dessert that came out of a plastic serving cup...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hong Kong - noodlemi

Steamed chicken salad with crunchy cabbage and herbs

Crispy chicken spring roll

Restaurant Name : noodlemi
Location : G/F, 2 Bonham Strand East, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Rating : 3 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $150 / person (with non-alcoholic drink)

Summary : For a healthy and delicious dinner, I sometimes visit the cute, little noodlemi shop conveniently located near the corner of Bonham Strand and Queen's Road Central.  While the little shop could get quite cramped during peak hours, the food is consistently fresh and flavourful, so I would definitely come back here if I am craving for a lighter dinner option. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Taipei - 7 Tea House (七三茶室)

Cafe entrance

Rose Osmanthus Roselle Herbal Tea

Bacon quiche 

Grilled taro paste with cheese

Lemon tart

Restaurant Name七三茶室 (7 Tea House)
Location : 台北市忠孝東路四段553巷46弄16號

Rating : 3 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around US $10 / person (with tea drinks)

Summary : In an ever-so-busy city such as Taipei, finding a tranquil spot to take a break and rest those tiring legs is a necessity.  7 Tea House provides a spacious and peaceful sanctuary, that serves up tasteful snacks and a wide selection of organically grown teas.  This is a good place for either a short pit-stop, or a long chatty afternoon with friends.  

Spacious interior

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hong Kong - Doppio Zero

Heirloom tomato salad

Prime beef cappaccio

Pan roasted heritage farm chicken

Grilled USDA prime ribeye (10 oz)

Restaurant Name : Doppio Zero
Location : G/F The Pemberton, 22 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Rating : 2 Marylicious Stars
Price Range : Around HK $450 / person (with alcoholic drink)

Summary : The dishes were all quite oily and did not have any outstanding flavour.  Even the aperol spritz we ordered lacked the usual refreshing taste I expected in this typical Italian summer time aperitif... The only reason this place is not rated 1 Marylicious Stars is that the food is not horrible... ^_*  But I don't think I'll come back here again anytime soon...