Papi Chulo, Manly, Australia

Sorry for the lack of post! Am finally in Sydney and enjoying the somewhat cooler weather! It’s so good to be back, catching up with family and friends – oh I have missed you all! The cool change is definitely welcoming, not to mention the space and fresh air!

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Papi Chulo is the ‘newish’ establishment by the Merivale empire. It is located in Manly, just over looking the Manly wharf .The space is bright and spacious, and there are both booth seating with high bench tables and stools. I have wanted to try this new place ever since it opened, and rightly so, as soon as we got to Sydney, I had to try. I wanted to try everything on the menu, snacks, smoked bbq, you name it, everything!

We started with the pea guacamole with tortilla chips (AUD14) – the pea guacamole was deliciously smooth, and Dragon couldn’t help but lick her spoon every time I give it to her. The tortilla chips we also adored and it was a wonderful complement.

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We opt for the Papi Chulo BBQ Plater – half rack of lamb ribs, 150gm each of wagyu brisket, pulled pork and pork belly platter served with pickles and soft bread (AUD86). This was definitely a winner for every one!

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My favourite was definitely the wagyu brisket, it was incredibly tender and succulent that I wanted more.

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The pork belly and the pulled pork were also fantastic. Melt in your mouth and I love the flavour of the pulled pork.

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My least favourite was probably the lamb ribs, it had quite a strong lamb taste in my opinion but my fellow dining companion enjoyed it.

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Lastly, we ordered the curly fries, oh my my… crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was fantastic and i couldn’t help but polished the plate, including Dragon.

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We also had a side of Vietnamese Coleslaw (AUD8) which was refreshing and perfect with the meat fest we were having for lunch.

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Unfortunately, that’s all we had as there were only 3 of us. I really wanted to try the burger and the bone marrow. I guess I just have to go back for more! Service was polite and friendly and food came relatively quickly. If only we lived closer to Manly – I could get my wagyu brisket fix every single week!

GA’s ratings: 7.5 / 10

Papi Chulo

22-23 Manly Wharf

Manly, 2095

Australia

Ph: +61 2 9240 3000

Papi Chulo on Urbanspoon

The Dining Room, Causeway Bay

There’s really not a shortage of restaurant in Hysan Place. It has taken me a while to try this restaurant, Dragon and I were shopping one Friday night and we decided to give this place a go, ‘The Mother’ joined us afterwards as he too wanted to try this restaurant. Thankfully we were there early and was seated immediately, the queues at this place is ridiculously long! It’s good but not sure if I would wait 30 40 mins to be seated – but then again that’s me, I just don’t like to queue.

The menu is very similar to Din Tai Fung I thought, Shanghainese food – xiao long bao, pan fried dumplings and noodles – and that is exactly what we ordered. We started with a very refreshing drink – for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s called, apple soda with apple vinegar jelly. The most unsettling thing is the ice cube that flashes when in glass!

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We had to order 2 servings of the xiao long bao. Dragon absolutely loved them! Not so much the pork but the skin, she ate 4 of them on her own. The skin I thought was a little thick, I still prefer Din Tai Fung’s which is much thinner.

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The noodles Dragon loved, she pretty much ate half of it. It was cooked just the way she liked it and with it was the fried chicken fillet. Unfortunately the chicken fillet was a little dry and tough.

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The pan fried dumplings we all loved! The outside of the bun was crispy and inside was bursting with juice. Definitely one of my favourites

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We didn’t have any dessert at The Dining Room, I have been craving the Uji Matcha Smoothie from via tokyo and believe me it did not disappoint! Perfect for a hot day, the slushy matcha was just perfect, not too sweet and not too creamy. It certainly went down nicely.

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Service and food at The Dining Room was pretty decent, I quite like the layout and the communal dining table. Food was very similar to Din Tai Fung but ‘The Mother’ and I agreed that we both still prefer Din Tai Fung.

GA’s ratings: 6.5 / 10

The Dining Room

Shop 1201, 12/F, Hysan Place,

500 Hennessy Road,

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2648 2299

School Food, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

School Food has been around for a while, there’s always a long queue outside the restaurant and I have always been intrigued. So finally, one lunch time, we decided to give it ago. School Food is a modern Korean restaurant chain that is very popular in Korea (or so I have read but why did I not try it when I was there?!). It takes your traditional Korean food and is re-invented into something more ‘modern’, like Carbonara Tteobokki, fried chicken curry ramen, beef bulgogi mari and many many more.

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The menu is definitely interesting! We started with this lovely and refreshing drink – cotton strawberry athie – deliciously sweet smoothie blended with fruits and soda. You could definitely taste the strawberry and on a hot summer day, this was perfect.

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We started with the special – three different types of fried chicken served with fries. The chicken wings were my favourite out of the three – wings, thighs and chicken strips. The chicken strips were probably the driest, and the thighs which were slightly spicy were pretty tender and succulent.

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The carbonara tteobokki was definitely interesting – in a good way that is. The rice cakes were a little chewier than norm and it was smothered in a rich, creamy carbonara sauce – yum! This would be perfect for winter – winter comfort food!

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We couldn’t go past the bbq beef ribs with rice and fried potatoes. The beef ribs were cooked to perfection, incredibly tender and incredibly succulent. It had a nice gravy sauce and full of flavour. The fried potatoes were more like wedges which was a wonderful complement.

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I thought the bulgogi quesadilla was a little disappointing. There wasn’t enough beef bulgogi in it! Too much dough and not enough beef, and it needed some guacamole I thought.

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Now the mari – which is which is originated from the combined word of Gimbap and roll. We started with the spam II  mari which was had a lovely egg layer outside the seaweed and chili and roe. This was surprisingly tasty but I am a sucker for spam!

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We also ordered the squid ink mari – this is their signature mari. I have to admit, I wasn’t blown away by it, thought there wasn’t enough squid ink flavour and the squid was a little tough.

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Overall I thought the food was interesting, warrants another visit to try their other dishes but not sure if I would wait more than 20 minutes though. Service was pleasant and food came out relatively quickly. Wouldn’t mind trying the fried chicken ramen next time.

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

School Food

Shop 1302, 13/F, Times Square

1 Matheson Street

Causeway Bay

Ph: +852 2480 3666

Ho Lee Fook, Central, Hong Kong

I have been waiting impatiently for Ho Lee Fook to open, one because the chef whom I have a lot of respect for is Chef Jowett Yu. As some of you may know, he worked along side Dan Hong (another chef whom I have absolute respect for) in Ms G’s and Mr Wong in Sydney both are my favourite restaurants. I can’t count the number of times I have been to Ms G’s and I have a feeling that Ho Lee Fook will be one of the restaurants I keep coming back too!

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Ho Lee Fook (aka ‘good fortune for your mouth’) serves diners Jowett’s signature ‘east meets west’ dishes. I know Jowett’s going to hate me for saying this, but I can see a little bit of Ms G’s style and I am not complaining as I LOVED Ms G’s but it does have Jowett’s own twist and one of my dining companion actually said that it was BETTER than Ms G’s! The menu is split into 6 sections – to start, raw, vegetables, roast meats, not a small plate and desserts.

Started with the Mum’s ‘mostly cabbage, a little bit of pork’ dumplings, sacha soy dressing. Delicious, moreish pork dumplings with a hint of chili. Even Dragon managed to demolish a couple of these babies.

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The wagyu steak tartare, Yunnan style, hot and sour, herbs had a wonderful flavour and crunch to it. It was fresh and the flavours were outstanding.

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Dragon really enjoyed the fried chicken mid wings with shrimp sambal (without the sambal of course) – the skin was crispy and the meat itself was tender and succulent.

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There were so many wonderful choices that we wanted to try everything. We opt for the grilled pork belly, red cabbage salad, roasted chili and almond salsa – beautifully cooked pork belly, it had the right amount of fat and meat ratio and was incredibly succulent that it melted in your mouth. The red cabbage salsa had a lovely sour tang to it which was a wonderful addition.

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My favourite of the evening, the roast Wagyu short ribs, jalapeño puree, green shallot kimchi, soy glaze – OH MY GOODNESS! AMAZING!!! The short ribs were cooked to perfection, so tender, and the jalapeño puree was just to die for. This was definitely the highlight dish for me. If they were opened for lunch, I would come in on my own and have this – just for me.

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We also ordered the Taiwanese style Lu Rou Fan, 5 grain rice, pickled daikon and it was excellent. I don’t usually like grainy rice because of its texture but this was surprisingly tasty! We also ordered a serving of stir-fried asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap peas, garlic, shoaxing sauce – simple right? All the ingredients were fresh and it was delicious.

For dessert, we thought we would share a couple of things, first the matcha sponge cake, chocolate ganache, hazelnut praline and strawberries. The matcha sponge cake was light and the chocolate ganache was gooey and oh so chocolatey!

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The granny smith apple granita, calpis sorbet, mochi and kohi jelly was my favourite out of the two. It was light and refreshing, the mochi was out of this world yummy and the calpis sorbet really gave it that extra flavouring.

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Service was excellent, food was fantastic. I am so glad that this has finally opened in Hong Kong. I am no food critique but Ho Le Fook is definitely a wonderful addition to the Hong Kong restaurant scenes. I have a lot of respect for Jowett, and I can’t wait to go back and try their other dishes!

Unfortunately, there is a no reservation policy, we we were there at 6.30 pm and had no trouble getting a table. Mind you it was Sunday evening and it was the first week of opening. If you are wondering if its child friendly? There were 3 tables with kids, it is a little dark and the music can be a bit loud but Dragon definitely enjoyed the food and didn’t mind the music at all!

GA’s ratings: 8.5 / 10

Ho Lee Fook

G/F, 1 Elgin Street

Central District

Hong Kong

Raya House, Phuket

As you may have recalled, ‘The Mother’, Dragon and I went for a quick getaway to meet the extended family in Phuket. It was one of those holidays where we didn’t leave the resort and just ate around there. Didn’t see much to be honest, just hung by the pool, slept, ate and took Dragon to the mall where she spent a few hours in this kids area – will post about that soon. I have been to Phuket many times now and have stayed at different places, however, this time, we stayed at the most tourist-y place – Patong, which was ok, I prefer to stay in a much quieter area and the resort we stayed was definitely NOT 5 star, it was a little old, room was ok and pretty noisy at night as there are markets near the mall.

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Anyhow, it was an ok holiday, unfortunately we didn’t eat as well as I had hoped, however, a good friend recommended that I go to Raya House and I am SO glad that we did! It was potentially the BEST meal we had in Phuket! HA! Raya House can be found in Phuket Town, a century year old house which has been converted into a restaurant – there’s a lot of character – rusting ceiling fans, vintage posters, very old photographs (which are cool) and the vibe is very down to earth and ‘rustic’.

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The menu is quite extensive, however, it is famous for its crabmeat coconut curry which is a MUST order and potentially one of the nicest curry we have had. Real chunks of crab meat pieces which are plump and generous, the curry is served with coconut milk and rice vermicelli. This was a hit amongst the diners.

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The salt and pepper squid was excellent, the batter was thin and not oily and the squid was tender.

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My favourite dish would have to be the pork belly – extremely tender, extremely succulent – it was phenomenal. It had the right amount of fat to meat ratio and one of the best dish I’ve had in Phuket! Even Dragon had a couple of pieces!

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The most disappointing would have to be the fried chicken which was topped with a mountain of fried garlic. The chicken pieces were small, and tough. I had meant to order this dish for Dragon but the chicken meat wGas so tough, Dragon couldn’t really chew it.

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The vegetables were also fantastic – a little on the spicy side for Dragon though.

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There weren’t a lot of options for dessert, however, we did manage to share grass jelly with longan topped with palm sugar – oh my my.. it was refreshing light and delicious. I probably should have ordered a serving for myself!

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Meal was excellent, shame about the chicken, but the pork belly and the crab curry was definitely a hit. Definitely worth visiting when you are in Phuket!

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

48 New Debuk Cross Road,

Amphur Muang Phuket

Phuket, Thailand

Ph: +66 76 218 155

The Butchers Club Burgers, Wan Chai

I am always on the hunt for good burgers. The Butchers Club Burgers is the new addition of burger joints in Wan Chai – there’s Beef and Liberty, CaliBurger, Burger King, and Ted’s Lookout – a lot of options if you are in the area. The Butchers Club Burgers can be found on Landale Street, it is not a big place, but turnover is quite quick

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The Butchers Cub’s uses dry-aged black ague beef from New South Wales, Australia, however, patties are minced fresh to order in front of the customer before being thrown back to the kitchen and grilled to the customer’s requested ‘doneness’. We were here on Sunday afternoon, just a little after midday and the place was pumping already – you order at the counter, find a table and food will be served to your table.

The menu simple – burgers and fries. On the menu it only says BURGER (HKD100) which are served on a freshly baked floured scotch bap and topped with mature cheddar cheese, glazed bacon, tomatoes, pickles and onion spread. It isn’t the sexiest looking burger but it was pretty tasty. The pattie was saltier than expected but it was cooked well. I especially loved the spicy mayo and cheese and the Damper bun was pretty decent.

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Now the duck fat fries (HKD20) – yum! Thought the fries could be a little bit more crispier but it was pretty tasty. Dragon definitely enjoyed it – pretty sure she had more than either of us!

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Service was quick and efficient, it was hard eating with Dragon though as there high stools and trying to juggle her and camera was too difficult hence photos with the iPhone! I definitely want to come back and try the Double Happiness – double dry-aged Australian beef patties, with double cheese, and 2 grilled cheese sandwiches holding it together… yum!! We did see someone order one and ‘The Mother’ almost had a heart attack! hehehehe

GA’s ratings: 8 / 10

The Butchers Club Burgers

Rialton Building, 2 Landale Street

Wanchai, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2528 2083

Mama San, Central, Hong Kong

Mama San is the newish venture by Dining Concept which is headed by Will Meyrick who has a Scottich heritage, Australian accent and an Indonesian home. Like its older sister restaurant in Bali, MaMa San offers diners Southeast Asian dishes and a whole list of delicious cocktails. The restaurant is located in on Wyndham Street – I can’t remember what was here before, however, I love the lay out, the relaxed vibe, the wooden tables and the bold and striking mural of the ‘mama san’ looking at everyone!

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We were her for lunch and the set lunch was quite interesting. I had originally thought that you pick one dish from the set, however, that wasn’t the case. There are 3 different set menus and we opt to try all of them.

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Makanan Siang set is the smallest set and perfect for one which includes vietnamese duck salad with carrot, green mango, coriander and dressing, green curry of clams or chicken with baby corn, long beans, coconut and thai basil served with rice (HKD118). I was rather surprised when everything came out in a bucket! It was definitely an interesting way of eating lunch. The duck salad was a little spicy but the duck was tender and the mango was a wonderful complement. We opt for the chicken green curry and the curry had a wonderful aroma and it wasn’t as thick as I had anticipated.

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Next the Khao Gang Set (HKD138) – the crispy salmon with green mango and sweet fish sauce was a little disappointing. The salmon was a little dry and there was only ONE tiny piece? The salad itself was a little on the spicy side but gave it a nice kick. The cambodian duck curry with lemon grass, ginger, turmeric and yellow dahl was good. Generous pieces of shredded duck and the curry was excellent. The stir-fried baby choi sum was good but nothing special I thought.

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The Mam San Treat Set (HKD158) – the biggest of the lot. The slow cooked crispy pork belly with green papaya and green mango salad was good. The pork belly was tender and I loved the crispy skin – but again, only one pieces?!?!?!?

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The chili harbour prawns with deep fried garlic, iceberg lettuce and lemon was a hit amongst the diners. So was the southern Goan snapper with okra, fenugreek, curry leaves, yogurt and coconut.

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For dessert, we thought we would share the Vietnamese creme caramel with coffee granite, tapioca, herbal jelly and palm sugar. This was refreshingly good and a perfect way to end the meal. The creme caramel was soft and wobbly – it was perfect and the palm sugar was a wonderful addition!

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Majority of the dishes for the set lunch, including the salads were spicy. Thought there were some good dishes, some misses, overall it was ok. I am keen to try their dinner, however it was good to try a bit of everything for lunch

GA’s ratings: 7 / 10

Mama San by Will Meryrick

1/F, 46 Wyndham Street

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2881 8901

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