Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hong Kong | The Woods

The Woods
L/G, 17-19 Hollywood Rd
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2522-0281

Price: $$
Recommendation: 5 Stars

My best mates all know that I am always on the hunt for the next best things. My obsession with the “new” is rather extreme, but it has also inspired me to find some of the most exciting bars and restaurants around town (and I will not stop!). With that said, there’s one bar in the drunken LKF and Soho neighbourhood that never stops to impress me. I can’t help but keep returning for more of the original yet delicious cocktails at The Woods!

The Woods is a gorgeous underground bar on Hollywood Road with an inconspicuous entrance on the street level that leads to stairs to where the actions are. As the name suggests, elements of the wood are seen throughout the stylish design of the lounge with brown leather chairs and bronze finishing on the furniture. Albeit having a modern and somewhat edgy decor, The Woods’ atmosphere is welcoming for both mature and younger drinkers whether for a chill night out or an upbeat pre-game before hitting the clubs.

Uniquely created by the mixologists, the menu features a range of sensational cocktails and shooters including classic offerings as well as innovative seasonal drinks that rotate 4 times a year. I must say all the (countless) cocktails I have tried at The Woods were amazing and will most definitely make you want to order one after another because they are just that awesome. A fun and playful night is pretty much guaranteed at this Hong Kong favourite, especially when you are surrounded with the always smart and handsome crowd at The Woods.

Chamomile Bee's Knees
Chamomile & vanilla infused Sipsmith gin, local honey, fresh lemon juice

The lovely cocktail was as fragrant as a diptyque candle with layers of the chamomile and vanilla scents.

Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub
Tito’s Vidka, homemade strawberry-rhubarb shrub with apple cider vinegar, soda, rhubarb bitters

Strawberry and ruhbarb are a known perfect match, but the apple cider vinegar added another flavour and intensity to the delightful cocktail. Love the balanced combination of sweet, sour, and bitterness.


Jeff Koons-inspired Balloon Olive Martini

Featured during the Hong Kong art week, it is part of the art inspired selections. A needle is given to pop the balloon in order to release the olive brine for the classic dirty martini!

Poddington Pea
Edinburgh Gin, fresh snow peas, green chartreuse, fresh green apple juice, tarragon, fresh lemon juice, pea sprouts, egg white

The lightly sweetened gin-based drink displays hints of the snow peas aroma – almost feels like it is healthy!

Tom Yum Shooters
Kaffir lime leaf infused vodka, lemongrass syrup, fresh lime juice, Thai chilli

After a workout one day, Emilio insisted Lauren and I try the signature Tom Yum shooters. My immediate reaction was "What?". Mixing tom yum and vodka has got to be the worst idea ever. But surprisingly, the Thai spices and herbs mix extremely well with the flavored vodka and secret mixers. I love the intense Thai herbal aroma, followed by a spicy kick from the chilis.

Four Pepper Margarita
Bell pepper & jalapeno-infused Ocho Blanco Tequila, fresh lime juice, agave nectar, lime zest salt rim

Another signature: the spiced up version of the popular margarita is mixed with a variety of peppers that bring out the fiery taste that makes the drink irresistible.

Watermelon cilantro
Kaffir lime infused vodka, lime juice, watermelon juice, cilantro, chilli, black pepper

Lavender Tom Collins
Basil Daiquiri
Peach Pear

Cookie skillet with vanilla ice cream

After a few drinks when the stomach starts screaming for food, the made-to-order cookie skillet is a must try!

…and many more cocktails I didn’t feature!

The Woods can be busy even during weekdays, so get there early and drink on!

*pardon the photo quality. all photos taken from a smartphone. @the_aftertaste on instagram

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Singapore | The Disgruntled Chef

The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road
Singapore 247693

Price: $$$
Recommendation: 4 Stars

Closely situated next to the Singapore Botanical Garden, the elegant and trendy Dempsey Hill gives urbanistas a place to enjoy fresh air and get away from the jam-packed city lifestyle. While only a short distance away from Orchard, this posh neighbourhood full of restaurants, art galleries, and fashion boutiques possesses a completely different scenery and atmosphere with a very relaxed country vibe. Because of its unique history as once the site of British army barrack and, more recently, Singapore’s national service training base, along the main passage are majestic trees and tropical plants that surround and seclude this suburban area.

The Disgruntled Chef is a hidden gem among the cluster of shops and diners in Dempsey Hill. With its inconspicuous and subtle sign, Howard and I almost missed the restaurant which occupies an one-story colonial house. The contemporary restaurant employs a simple and industrial interior design with gray-scale furnishings that create a clean and stylish atmosphere. Famous for its strong tapas influence with modern twist, The Disgruntled Chef splits its menu into 3 sections: nibbles, small plates, and big plates. Our waitress recommended us to order a few small plates along with one big plate as they are made for sharing.

Thai White Sangria
Citrus Vodka, Lime, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaf, Honey & Riesling

I’m usually very hesitant when it comes to white sangrias because of its potentially bland and uninteresting taste, but the bar’s own version of Thai White Sangria completely blew my mind. With a refreshing hint of lemongrass and lime leaves, the Riesling-based alcoholic goodness was pleasantly fragrant and fruity. The light pink and green elements of the sangria also make it the perfect sweet spring cocktail.

Black Truffle Bikini Sandwiches
With Brie

With a sexy name like this appetizer, I was definitely expecting more than just three pieces of bite-size, truffle-scented grilled cheese. Nothing out of the ordinary…

Curried Mussels
With Lemongrass & Deep Fried Buns

Seasoned with exotic spices, the aromatic curry sauce was strong and heavy, which complements the Singaporean favourite - mini fried man tous!

Steak Tartare
With Soft Quail Egg & Truffle Hash Browns

Sadly, the steak tartare did not live up to my expectations as the dish lacks strong flavouring and seasoning to sublime the excellent texture but otherwise bland taste of raw meat. Nonetheless, the mini truffle hash somewhat made up for the disappointing dish. And the runny quail egg yolk, hidden inside the tartare, was a nice surprise.

Papillote of Prawns
Tiger Prawns, Chorizo & Garlic Butter baked in Parchment

The Papillote of Prawns may easily be my favourite dish of the night (besides the Thai white sangria, of course). The tiger prawns and chorizos were placed in alternating orders and baked in parchment, allowing the fresh prawns to soak up the sweet and spicy juice from the Spanish sausages. Served with slices of warm and toasted sour dough, the shrimps were packed with incredible flavours that will keep you going for more.

Pan Roasted Barramundi
With Tapenade Crust & Sauce Vierge

Chocolate Fondant
With Peanut Butter, Banana Brulee & Vanilla Ice Cream

Instead of the typical chocolate filling in lava cakes, the pastry chef mixed a smooth and delicious banana brulee with peanut butter for the Chocolate Fondant. I may be exaggerating a little, but a bite of the fondant cake is a true indulgence for the palate as the holy trinity of chocolate, peanut butter and banana do wonders.

Vodka Berry Bramble
Vodka, Frambroise, Crème de Fraise, Lime Juice, Soda & Fresh Berries

The cocktail was very yummy with lots of summer berries. Great for me who likes to munch on the garnishes in drinks!


The dinner was terrific at The Disgruntled Chef, especially when I had such great company (shout out to Howard!!). Along with the fantastic presentation of food and incredible use of different ingredients, the chef’s personal interpretation of modern cooking was spot on!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Boston | No. 9 Park

No. 9 Park
9 Park Street
Boston, MA 02108

Price: $$$$
Recommendation: 5 Stars

The elegant and sophisticated No. 9 Park represents the pinnacle of fine dining in Boston. Created by celebrity chef Barbara Lynch, No. 9 Park is the flagship shop of her dining empire in Boston; I believe it is one of the only few Michelin star worthy restaurants in the city. Overlooking the iconic Boston Commons, the restaurant attracts a very smart and classy crowd in its exquisite dining room and bar.

No. 9 Park is one of the most popular restaurants over the Boston Restaurant Week. I had to make a reservation a month in advance to ensure a spot at this exclusive diner. While the heavenly food is absolutely delicious, what impressed me the most was the top-notch and impeccable service from our waitress and busboys. Our waitress was very attentive and knowledgeable about the food as well as the wines. More importantly, other waiting staffs and busboys were incredibly polite and made sure our water glasses were always filled. On top of that, whenever I finished my bread, another freshly baked goodie would appear on my bread plate immediately. The service was just spot on! It definitely added to our already great dining experience.

In addition to the restaurant week menu, we ordered additional wine pairings with our set. Each dish was accompanied by a specially-selected and unique wine. The choices were excellent, but I wished they poured a little more. It was certainly not enough for alcoholics like me!

Seared Labelle Farms Foie Gras (with $$$ supplement)
lentils du Puy, duck rillettes, hedgehog mushrooms

Perfecto. The seared duck foie gras was truly made to perfection. The creamy foie gras and spongy texture of the hedgehog mushrooms went extremely well together. And the delicious smell of duck fat would linger in my mouth until I had another bite of this delicate dish.

Fluke Crudo
Marcona almond, preserved lemon, harissa

Roasted Scottish Salmon
fennel, great northern beans, broccoli rabe

The roasted Scottish salmon was incredibly prepared at the right cooking temperature and time. The fish was warm through the middle with a hint of red - just the way I like it.

Daube de Boeuf
Macomber turnip, bacon, petite vegetables

Devil's Food Cake
malted cream, coffee, honey

The cake was a bit on the dry side, but it seems to be how devil's cake are supposed to taste like (?)

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
coconut, almond, mango

The aromatic blend of tropical fruits and nuts mesmerized my taste buds, along with the amazing smooth taste of panna cotta, I practically stole this dessert away from Chantal.

Marshmallow and Chocolate Cookie

With our check, the waitress presented us four petit dessert bites. The bitter dark chocolate cookies coupled with fluffy white marshmallows ended our night with a very sweet note!

Chantal <3

My absolutely beautiful and amazing food buddy and partner in crime in Boston. Miss her lots!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Boston | Restaurant Week - Winter 2012

Boston Restaurant Week | Winter 2012

It's that time of the year again - Boston Restaurant Week! I can't even tell you how excited I am for this food- and fun-filled festival in the city. Of all the restaurant weeks in the states, I absolutely think Boston offers one of the most fascinating and best valued flairs, starting at $15.12 for 2-course light lunch, $20.12 for 3-course lunch, and $30.12 for 3-course dinner. That is an awesome deal considering entrees at high-end restaurants could cost almost twice as much as the 3-course dinner price (for example, the No. 9 Park).

Unfortunately, this is probably my last restaurant week in Boston, as I will graduate from M.I.T. in June. Therefore, I went to as many restaurant as I could in 4 days damaging my weight as well as my wallet...

3/18 Lunch at Asana

Food: 3.5/5
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5

Pink Strawberry Lime Truffle
Mascarpone and Strawberry Cream, Almond Cake, Lime and Basil Jelly

3/19 Dinner at the No. 9 Park
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 6/5
Ambiance: 4/5

Seared Labelle Farms Foie Gras
Lentils du Puy, Duck Rillettes, Hedgehog Mushrooms

3/20 Lunch at Mooo...
Food: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5

Bar at Mooo...

3/20 Dinner at Mistral

Food: 5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Ambiance: 4.5/5

Classic Profiteroles
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Sauce, Pistachio Croquant

3/21 Dinner at Sorellina

Food: 5/5
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 5/5

Gorgonzola Baked Potato, Red Wine Braised Cipollini

full reviews of the restaurant coming soon!

Tips for next year:
Since the Boston Restaurant Week is sponsored by American Express, AMEX card holders get premium access with an early reservation period as well as a $20 statement credit when you spend $100 at 3 or more restaurants. I definitely took advantage of those two perks!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Taipei | Oriental Cuisine 東方饌 黔天下

Oriental Cuisine 東方饌 黔天下
No. 27, Lane 46, Dazhi Street, Zhongshan District, Taipei, Taiwan
(02) 8509-2310

Price: $$
Recommendation: 4 Stars

Under the great Chinese food categories, there lie eight different major cuisines, including the slightly sweet Shanghainese and notoriously spicy Szechwanese. Most of us are familiar with those; however, little is known (at least for me) about Guizhou food 貴州菜, which emphasizes the mixed taste of sour and spicy and prides itself as the 9th category of Chinese food. Since Vickie and I were craving for some serious spicy food, we decided to be adventurous and went to the highly acclaimed Guizhou restaurant, Oriental Cuisine 東方饌 黔天下.

Before opening Oriental Cuisine 東方饌, Chef Yeh was the executive chef of a celebrated Italian restaurant for more than 15 years. In the spring of 2008, his entrepreneurial dream prompted him to journey to China's Guizhou Province to master and bring back the mysterious Guizhou cuisine to Taiwan. Chef Yeh was both a great cook and an awesome server. For every dish he brought out, he carefully explained the origin and ingredients. While it was nice to learn about the food, it was really painful listening to him because the food looked incredibly delicious and I was literally drooling all over the place and hoping he would finish soon!

Oriental Cuisine 東方饌 黔天下

Though Oriental Cuisine is often featured in big name magazines and media, there were still quite a few empty tables in the restaurant.

traditional Guizhou decorations

Red Oil Green Bean Liangfen 紅油綠豆涼粉
Green Bean Jello with Chili Oil

To begin our meal, we ordered two small traditional dishes. I especially enjoyed the Rice Noodle with Hot and Sour Chili Oil 紅油酸辣米線. The perfect balance between hot and sour as well as the manyfold flavors of ethnic spices made it a delightful appetizer.

Don't be fooled by the amount of hot peppers. They weren't that spicy at all!

Rice Noodle with Hot and Sour Chili Oil 紅油酸辣米線

While I savored the tasty and tender beef briskets, the eggplants in the casserole were simply amazing. The thick and heavy sauce justly complemented the soft textured eggplant. I devoured the pot in no time and left almost none for my friend...

Hot Pepper & Eggplant Beef Casserole 泡椒香茄筋肉煲

Miao Pan Fried Chicken 苗寨干鍋雞

A traditional delicacy, Miao Pan Fried Chicken 苗寨干鍋雞 is typically only served when the Miao people worship deities or celebrate weddings. The juicy and tender chicken absorbed the complex flavors of different chilies and spices and was surrounded by slices of potatoes. The slightly fried potatoes tasted like thick baked chips. It was a very interesting dish and also a Chef Yeh's signature!

Miao Pan Fried Chicken 苗寨干鍋雞

Each of the colorful Guizhou Wu Xing ("Five Elements") Dumpling has a different meaning and represents the "five elements" 五行: gold, wood, water, fire, and earth! Not only were the dumplings incredibly delicious, they were also fun and playful because every piece was made with different ingredients.

Gold 金: The yellow dumpling wrappers were dyed with the bright color of carrots and folded with corn and other vegetable fillings.

Wood 木: Using fresh Taiwanese spinach and seaweed, the green dumplings were glowing like a beautiful jade. Chef Yeh mixed the fillings with pickled cabbages, which were naturally fermented following traditional Guizhou techniques.

Water 水: The white dumplings were pretty standard and tasted like regular jiaozi. The chef should probably dye the wrappers blue, but what natural ingredients are blue?!

Fire 火: The red skin of the fire dumplings were created with hungqu 紅麴 (red fermentation starter), and the filling contained a red shrimp. It was my favorite of all!

Earth 土: The dark brown earth dumplings, with many precious Chinese herbs, were the most special of all. Chef Yeh created the wrappers with Eucommia 杜仲 and fillings including goji berries 枸杞, pork kidney 豬腰, and more. A piece of this healthy dumpling will bring you enormous energy and nutrition!

Guizhou "Wu Xing" Dumplings 貴州養生行運餃

5 dishes for two (with unlimited rice) - we definitely ordered way more than our stomachs could handle...

Oriental Cuisine 東方饌 黔天下
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