Friday, 29 April 2011

The Daily Grind, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Daily Grind has a great menu of gourmet burgers all served with crispy fries, salad and made on multi-grain buns.  Hubby prefers the more traditional style burger but I loved their chicken burger with caramelized onions, figs, brie, toasted walnuts and rocket.  Their homemade chili and tomato sauces are a nice touch too.  Prices range from 23RM for a classic to 55RM for a gourmet foi gras burger.  We've also tried breakfast here.  It's not a bad place for some weekend pancakes or French toast.  Just be sure to ask for the butter to be served on the side or you end up with half a tub directly on top of your meal.  (see pics above).  The stack of three buttermilk pancakes were light and fluffy served with bananas and syrup.  The French toast was also good, made with thick slices of multi-grain bread.  I'm not sure what they were attempting though as the toast was cinnamony but served with turkey ham on the side - for me an uncomfortable pair up of sweet and savoury.  Brunch on the weekends range from 18 - 28RM including a juice, tea or coffee.  Their coffee is strong and drinkable but not my preferred blend.  I'd skip the coffee and go across the road to Buffalo Kitchens for a creative brew.   

The Daily Grind
Bangsar Village 1
Jalan Telawi 1
59100 Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur

Friday, 22 April 2011

Mandarin Grill, Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Mandarin Oriental's Grill & Bar offers an exquisite dining experience.  From the moment you walk in you know the food and service are going to be amazing.  This place looks, sounds and smells divine.  Floor to ceiling windows looking out onto a green garden, soft ambience music in the background and the faint smell of aromatherapy oils put you in the mood for a peaceful and enjoyable afternoon.  The best deal is their two or three course set lunch served Monday to Saturday for 88++ or 108++ RM respectively.  Sounds a bit pricey but if you have the Mandarin's Elite card you get 50% off when dining for two.  You start the set with a selection of freshly baked crusty breads - pretzel, cranberry walnut and multi grain - served with olive and salted butters.  Follow up with a starter of your choice.  We tried the creamy pumpkin veloute (sweet & creamy) and a melt-in-your mouth soft mozzarella and tomato salad with a perfect pesto and aged balsamic vinegar dressing on a base of tomato jelly.  For the main I highly recommend the seared red snapper served on a delicate vegetable tian with star anise cream sauce and a braised fennel wafer.  The grilled chicken breast with wild mushrooms, potatoes and rosemary jus was flavoursome but a little dry.  For dessert you can't go wrong with the farm house cheeses.  The French brie they serve is one of the creamiest I've tried.  I would even venture to say it's as good as Tasmanian double cream brie from Australia.  Finish off with great coffee or tea and you'll be a very satisfied customer.

Mandarin Grill & Bar
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre,
50088 Kuala Lumpur,
+60 (3) 2380 888

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Joma Bakery Cafe, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

Yummy bagels in Vietnam! Joma Bakery Cafe is a modern, cool and clean place, ideal for passing some time avoiding bad weather or checking the internet. Organic coffee, salads, soups, freshly baked goodies and delicious bagels!

Joma Bakery Cafe
22 Ly Quoc Su
Hoan Kiem
Old Quarter
Hanoi, Vietnam

Pho 24, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

I tried a lot of the national dish, pho bo - beef noodle soup, in Vietnam. While I loved the freshness and simpleness of the dish, I often found it lacking taste. Pho 24 was a very pleasant surprise. This chain of noodle soup restaurants makes a delicious pho bo. I think the key is the plate full of fresh herbs and lime you can add to your soup that come on the side. There are a number of outlets around the city but this one in Thi Sach street is particularly worth a visit as you can sit at the window and enjoy the lake view. Soup is between 38 000 and 45 000 Dong per serving.

Pho 24
3B Thi Sach ST.
Hai Ba Trung Dis
Tel(84-4) 3976 4725

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Le Pub, Old Quarter, Hanoi

Le Pub is a good place for reasonably priced drinks in the Old Quarter of Hanoi with specials changing nightly. Friendly and quirky service.

Le Pub
25 Hang Be,
Old Quarter
Hoan Kiem District
Hanoi, Vietnam
(+84) 4 3926 2104

Friday, 15 April 2011

Tamarind Cafe, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

Creative vegetarian food. Love the shakes and imaginative vege combos. Definitely worth a visit.

Tamarind Cafe
80 Ma May
Old Quarter
Tel: 3 926 0580

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Green Mango, Old Quarter, Hanoi, Vietnam

Elude the bedlam of the Old Quarter in Hanoi and make your way to the elegant setting of Green Mango. Watch the crowd go by in the front room with floor to ceiling glass windows, take a seat at the bar or find some peace in the garden out back. This restaurant goes above and beyond what you would expect of any establishment. Convicted to live with the unruliness of Hanoi and still do their best, they served us happily through three hours of blackout by lighting candles and keeping their menu running with what could be made on the gas stove top. Despite having to overcome a seemingly unending disruption of power they still managed to serve up some delicious western dishes and perfectly chilled wine. Happy hours are from 4 - 6pm where you can get a reasonable wine served at the right temperature in a two for one deal. Both Italian and local cuisine are on the menu. Risotto, gnocchi and salads were all delectable. Worth a special mention though is the scrumptious passionfruit dressing on their garden salad. I'll be back.

Green Mango
18 Hang Quat Street
Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Dist.
(84-4)3 928 9916/17/18

Baguettes et Chocolate, Sapa, Vietnam

Again I note that it was difficult finding memorable food in Sapa. Baguettes et Chocolate has a reasonable menu and makes The Yum List as I think it's worth supporting their noble cause of training disadvantaged children to provide them with the skills to set themselves up for a decent future. This cafe is another cosy and bright haven from the damp muddiness of the Sapa streets and a welcome find to pass a few hours reading or chatting while waiting for the cloud to lift.

Baguettes et Chocolat
Thac Bac Road,
Sapa, Lao Cai,
T: (020) 387 1766
Open 7am - 10pm

Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel, Sapa, Vietnam

Finding great food in Sapa was difficult. I found most places we tried at best bland. Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel however does have a reasonable menu. Not everything on it is extremely tasty but there are a few staples that are worth coming for. Homemade yoghurt with fresh fruit, Lavazza coffee (a welcome break) and flavourful salads (pumpkin and banana flower - two popular choices) deserve your Dong. I highly recommend skipping the below average breakfast offered at most hotels and head to Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel for some thick French toast served with caramelized bananas, sapa honey and fresh passionfruit or the lemon souffle cakes - light citrus pancakes with fresh fruit. Food served has no MSG, makes use of many local ingredients and there are some organic options too. Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel is also involved in lots of community projects and seems to have a general motto of "do good." It is a welcoming place to pass the afternoon happily escaping the endless parade of vendors and dampness of the outdoors. Cosy, clean and well put together, Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel's restaurant is a pleasing retreat.

Sapa Rooms Boutique Hotel
18 Phan Xi Pang Street
Sapa, Lao Cai
(+84 20) 6505 228