Archive for July, 2010

Quick lunch at Tai Ping Koon

Quick post and back to the Hong Kong delights…..

This is your typical old-school HK-style western food. It is a must-visit for tourists visiting Hong Kong. I came here with a dear friend, J, whom I haven’t seen for a long long time now. She suggested this place, as I have never been and you can’t get food like this in Sydney.

We had the lunch special, which consisted of the daily soup which was chicken and corn soup. The soup was thick and creamy. It had real chicken and bacon bits in it and as much as it was ‘fusion’ it was tasty and a great starter.

The complimentary bread were sweet – a bit weird – as I prefer my bread unsweetened but it was a great compliment to the soup.

Both J and I had the swiss sauce beef ho fun. The swiss sauce was deliciously sweet, and the ho fun was chewy, sticky and cooked to perfection. The sweet swiss sauce was a nice compliment to the savoury beef. It was surprisingly delicious and incredibly filling! However, I couldn’t finish it, it was just too much!

Tai Ping Koon (“TPK”) was founded in 1860 in the Qing Dynasty. Its a combination of East meets West, the traditional and signature dishes includes roasted pigeon, smoked promfret, boiled corned ox-tongue, Portuguese style baked chicken, TPK style fried rice noodle with beef, and their famous TPK style baked soufflé, which is apparently as big as your head! Unfortunately we didn’t have time for this, so will definitely have to come back to give this soufflé ago.

It was great catching up with J, its definitely have been a while since we last caught up! Can’t wait to catch up again!

GA’s rating: 7 / 10

Tai Ping Koon

G/F, No. 60 Stanley Street

Central, Hong Kong

Ph: +852 2899 2780

Food we ate whilst at Sri Lanka…. Part 2

Promise this will be my last post on Sri Lanka! Tomorrow will be back to the Hong Kong delights.

Like I said, not all the food we had was fantastic. There were some mediocre ones but it was still worth trying to say the least.

Mama’s Galle Fort Roof Café and Guest House were recommended by the Lonely Planet and a couple of people at the Fort. Considering how much food we had the previous night we thought we would just get one serve of curry and share between the both of us. I have to say, I am glad we did, because not only do you get the curry of your choice, but you also get five other side dishes, making it SIX different types of dishes!

Hubby and I decided to go for the fish curry, however, it also came with (from top left to right), dried fish and peanuts, mixed vegetables with curry sauce, and fish curry, (from bottom left to right), mango curry, dahl curry and potato curry. Yes a LOT OF CURRIES!!!! The fish curry was incredibly spicy which was delicious and full of flavour, however, the fish itself was a little hard, which was a shame. My favourites were the potato and dahl curry. The dahl curry was simple but yet tasty, and the potato curry was fantastic – potatoes were soft and cooked to perfection. I didn’t like the mango curry though – it was too sweet for my liking.

The curries at Mama’s were ok, it was dirt cheap 700 rupees for all that (which is about AUD8). I do prefer the curry from the Galle Fort Hotel. The highlight would have to be eating under the sky with views of the spinning lighthouse.

We also ate at Anura’s Restaurant – tiny bright-orange hole-in-the-wall place that serves curries, various pastas and apparently the best pizza in Galle’s. I am not sure why we both ordered curry, probably because we were both skeptical about pizzas in Galle.

I ordered the prawn curry, which should really be shrimp curry – the prawns were so small it shouldn’t be called that. The prawn curry was seriously watery, too watery to be curry I think. It was ok, nothing to rave about.

Hubby ordered the potato curry, again this was seriously watery. The potato curry ‘soup’ tasted better, it had more flavours that the prawns curry.

I still can’t believe we didn’t order the pizza. Other diners did have pizza and it looked seriously good! Anura’s Restaurant is quite cheap also, each curry is about 250 – 300 rupees (about AUD3 – 4) but nothing to rave about.

We were seriously starved one day, we had a half day spa and didn’t have time to eat breakfast, so was really looking forward to lunch! We went to Royal Dutch Café, which was next door to the spa place. We probably should have left after looking at the menu – nothing on the menu grabbed our attention (this was def a sign!) but thought we would try it regardless.

After much perusing, I decided to go for the roti – cheese and coconut – yes I know, weird combo but they had a lot of sweet roti which I didn’t want. This was the only savoury roti they had. I have to say, I was seriously disappointed and unimpressed. It was such a disappointment, the roti itself was nice, it was paper thin but cheese and coconut was just weird. It wasn’t even proper cheese, it was cheese spread with desiccated coconut.

Hubby ordered the tuna sandwich – I didn’t take a photo of this, but just imagine, the cheapest bread possible, two pieces with canned tuna, tomato and chili sauce. THAT was it! No lettuce, tomato or cheese, it was simply a ‘tuna sandwich’. Hubby looked it, ate it and was seriously unimpressed. He’s not usually hungry often but he was still absolutely ravenous after this and sadly to say… we did go somewhere else for more food!

I wouldn’t recommend this place, unless you want sweet roti. The best thing about this café is the bong outside, it was very Moroccan like.

So after that pathetic so called lunch, Hubby and I went to Pedlar’s Inn café, where we probably should have gone in the first place! It’s a very cool and groovy place in an old colonial house. Not only is it a café, but also a jewellery shop.

I noticed they had ‘avocado juice’ – oh my! I haven’t had avocado juice in a long time, so had to order! Hubby, who is anti-avocado, looked at me and said “how is that a juice? There is no juice in avocado”. Dear Hubby – how would you know if you don’t even like avocado! How can you not like avocado? The avocado juice was thick and creamy, mixed with a bit of chocolate it was just absolutely delightful and exactly what I needed!

Weirdly, I have been craving toasted sandwich all week – tomato, cheese and chutney toastie. The cheese was real and was melted and gooey. The bread was a little thin for my liking but the chutney was sweet and a little spicy which was a good compliment. The fries were fantastic – thin, crispy and absolutely delicious! This was SO much better than my cheese and coconut roti!

Hubby who absolutely love turkey breast, had turkey breast with tomato, lettuce and cheese toastie. He demolished this, not sure if it’s because he was hungry or if it was actually good.

Pedlars’s Inn Café was definitely better than the Royal Dutch Café. Content and full, we decided to walk and explore.

We spent our last day in Colombo, sightseeing a little shopping. We went to the Pagoda Tea Room, their specialty is the inexpensive pastries. However, we wanted something more substantial. It was a casual and very local restaurant. Apparently Duran Duran filmed its classic 1980s video (Hungry like a Wolf) in that establishment.

I ordered a plate of Mongolian Chicken – which was a mix of fried rice and noodle cooked in garlic, onions and chili. The chicken was cut into bite size pieces which were full of flavour and extremely spicy. It had that wok-aroma which I absolutely love! I still can’t believe I demolished all of this! Hubby ordered the Mongolian Vegetarian, which was exactly the same without the bite size chicken.

I think I enjoyed the food in Sri Lanka more than in India. Mind you – we were sick for 2 days so didn’t really eat that well. Still, we had a great time eating, sightseeing and most importantly, we both relaxed!

Mama’s Galle Fort Roof Café

76 Leyn Baan Street

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 222 6415

Anura’s Restaurant

9 Lighthouse Street

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 222 4354

Royal Dutch Café

Leyn Baan Street

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Pedlar’s Inn Café

92 Pedlars Street

Galle Forte, Galle, Sri Lanka

Pagoda Tea Room

105 Chatham Street, Col 1

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 11 232 5252

Food we ate in Sri Lanka… Part 1

We ate so much that I am really not sure where to start. We consumed a LOT of curry, more than I would have liked and possibly could have ever eaten. However, it was good curry and I am glad to have tasted the different types. Thought I would say the top 3 meals we had whilst at Galle. Mind you, the top 3 were probably the most expensive we had on the trip!

In no particular order….

Our first meal in Galle, after not eating for a good 12 hours was at the Galle Fort Hotel. They have superb Sri Lankan, Asian fusion cuisine. The dinner menu which is a set dinner menu changes nightly, and if set dinners are not your cup of tea, then they do have a la carte menu, which we did try also.

That evening, they had the Sri Lankan Rice and Curry Tiffin set menu, which consisted of 4 curries and 4 vegetables (and papadams) served with Saffron and Red Rice, and a choice of espresso panna cotta, sago pudding or fresh fruit sorbet for dessert. Hubby and I were ravenous and looked forward to the feast.

We started off with some drinks, Hubby ordered the fresh coconut and lime juice – doesn’t the coconut resemble a pig? It wasn’t cold though, which was a shame but it was indeed fresh!

Now the different curries: starting from the top left to right – bringal moju (eggplant curry), dhall curry, mukunuwenna mallum (which is like a salad of fresh onions and tomatoes). Bottom left to right – pumpkin curry, sautéed beetroot, and cucumber and tomato sambal. My favourite was definitely the pumpkin and dhall curry. The pumpkin curry was rich in flavour with a hint of spiciness, the dhall curry offset the richness of the pumpkin curry, and mixed together, the flavours were just amazing. The eggplant curry was sweet and not what I expected at all, however, I wasn’t a huge fan of the mukunewenna mallum.

The white fish curry (bottom right) had great flavours but the fish itself was a little hard and dry for my liking. The chicken curry (top left) was tender and succulent, they gave us a generous amount of chicken! I have never had saffron rice before and I have to say, I am a huge fan! Eaten with a mix of dhall and pumpkin curry, it was incredibly delicious.

The papadams were light and crunchy and a great compliment with the curries.

For dessert, we ordered one of the sago pudding and espresso panna cotta. I have to say, the espresso panna cotta was amazingly good! I am usually not a fan of panna cotta but this one… oh my, it was soft like crème caramel, had a hint of coffee and was not too sweet, it was just perfect. It would have to be one of the best panna cotta I have eaten thus far. Hubby certainly enjoyed it – we were both fighting over it. My only gripe would be that it was served in a small Chinese tea cup – WAY TOO SMALL! The sago pudding was so so, I prefer the Asian, mango and sago dessert!

Stuffed and deliciously happy, we waddled back to our room and slept….

We had lunch one day at Amangalla hotel, this is also a 17th century town hose which has been converted into hotels – only 5 rooms apparently and it is one of the best hotels in Asia. It is also one of the most expensive hotels in the Fort, they have private cottages which start at around US$1500 a night! Hubby tried to get a reservation for one night (not the private cottage but a room) however they were fully booked!

So lunch… we started off with fresh bread and it was indeed fresh. Crunchy on the outside and fluffy / soft on the inside. With a slitter of butter, my my, how I missed fresh bread!

I wanted something non curry, so opted for the homemade pumpkin ravioli with burnt butter and sage – it had me at ‘burnt butter’. Half a dozen of medium size pumpkin ravioli were absolutely delightful.

I could have probably eaten another dozen, and as you can see, completely cleaned the plate off! It was THAT good!

Hubby wanted something light – so had the seared tuna with gotukola salad. The tuna I thought was a little dry, and I was not a fan of the gotukola salad, similar to tabouli but thought tabouli was so much better! I think my pumpkin ravioli was a winner!

Our last meal in Galle, we ate at the Fort Printers Hotel, an 18th century mansion turned printing facility – also only has five suites – antiques filled suites. By this stage, I was seriously over curry, so wanted something western for dinner.

Started off with new style sashimi – which was red snapper, ginger and sesame oil. The sashimi was fresh and the ginger and sesame oil were a great compliment.

I think Hubby was also sick of curry, so he ordered the tuna tataki which was served with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin oil. The tuna was fresh and refreshing. We both endeavored this.

We were given complimentary bread with hummus. The bread was warm and the hummus was fantastic! Such a simple but yet delightful starter.

For main, we thought we would share the chili prawns with basil and fried rice. It was very thai-like dish but absolutely delicious. The chili prawns were seriously spicy and full of flavour. The fried rice was good, it had that wok-aroma smell which I can’t seem to make but it was relatively simple.

It was a great meal to end the trip.

For breakfast, we mainly ate at the hotel – we didn’t have breakfast every day, Hubby is not your typical breakfast eater! The breakfast menu at Galle Fort Hotel, freshly cut seasonal fruit salad, tea or coffee, toast with home-made jam and a choice of eggs with grilled bacon and tomato; toasted tropical muesli with milk or yogurt; buffalo curd hot cakes with kittal honey; home-made toasted banana bread or French toast.

The first morning, we had the eggs with grilled bacon and tomato. We started off with the freshly cut seasonal fruit salad with consists of banana, mango, paw paw and pineapple. All were fresh and absolutely refreshing.

I had the poached eggs with grilled bacon and tomato – 2 poached eggs cooked to perfection with crispy bacon and grilled tomato. It was a great way to start the day!

Hubby had the scrambled eggs – I thought the scrambled eggs were a little dry but it was still pretty good.

The buffalo curd hotcakes with kittal honey was to die for! The hotcakes were similar to that of crepes, very thin and very VERY tasty! We shared this – one each and that definitely was not enough!

The banana bread was good! Thick slab of bread with real banana pieces was just tasty. Slathered with butter, it was just scrumptiously good!

We also had some mediocre meals, which I will post next. It wasn’t bad but the above were definitely the highlights!

Galle Fort Hotel

No 28, Church Street,

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 223 2870

Amangalla Resort

10 Church Street

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 223 3388

The Fort Printers

39 Pedlar Street

Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Ph: +94 91 224 7977

A little bit about Galle, Sri Lanka and what we did….

It took a while to get to Galle, after the delayed flight, the 2 hours at the car park and the 4 hour drive; we finally made it to Galle Fort. Galle is located at the southwest corner of the island. The Fort is built on a small peninsula belonging to the sea as much as to the land. It was built by the Dutch in 1663, 36-hectare Fort which is the oldest part of Galle and has an amazing collection of structures and culture. Just wandering the streets was amazing, one architectural surprise one after the other.

Below is a photo of one of the streets in Galle Fort…

We stayed at this amazing hotel, Galle Fort Hotel, 17th century Dutch merchant’s house turned into a boutique hotel. It has 14 rooms, all of which are different, some have two levels, and others stretch across an entire floor. We were fortunate enough to have one with a two levels – split level, living and dining area downstairs, and bedroom upstairs.

And here is a photo of the pool where we spent many hours during the day swimming and relaxing.

Hubby and I spent most of the 2nd day around the Fort, shopping, walking and soaking up all the culture and heat! It was monsoon season but like in India, we were very fortunate with the weather. Most of the buildings inside the Fort date from the Dutch era, and many street names still bear their Dutch names.

A few photos to show you inside the Fort: The lighthouse is Sri Lanka’s oldest light station dating back to 1848, but the original lighthouse was destroyed by fire in 1934.

Ambalama, a public resting place at the old town center.

The Maritime Archaeology Museum – it was interesting to say the least.

The famous clock tower

On top of the main gate Fort

On top of the southern end of the Fort

Apparently, every day, there are jumpers who entertain people by running and jumping off the Fort. I was ‘tempted’ but it looked kind of dangerous!

Here is one of the more modern shops / café.

The Fort was just amazing, it was a pleasant to stroll around the town at dusk. You can walk almost the complete circuit of the Fort along the top of the wall in about one or two hours.

On one of the days, we hired a car and roamed outside of Galle. Started by going to the Peace Pagoda, which was a gift from a Japanese Buddhist monk in 2005. It is situated on the headland between Unawatuna and Galle.

The view from the Peace Pagoda was simply breathtaking.

We then went to a turtle hatchery. Look how tiny they are – 3 days old apparently!

This turtle is about 5 years old – pretty big for a 5 year old!

Also went to the white tea plantation – it wasn’t the most stunning or impressive tea plantation I have seen, but they had all the components, tea plants, small factory, tasting and shop. Check out the different types of teas they had. They had teas ranging from black tea, white tea, coffee flavoured tea (weird!), spicy tea to your green and flavoured tea. It was impressive!

We also went to temple and a herbal plantation. However, the best bit of all, Unawatuna, the beach where we spent countless hours swimming and sitting / relaxing under the sun.

It was quite a relaxing holiday, as you know we spent a day at the cricket, we did a half day spa (yes Hubby actually suggested it!) and spent a lot of time reading and relaxing. Oh how I wish I was there right now….

A little bit about Mumbai, India… Part 2

We took the next couple of days easy, as we really both needed to get better for Sri Lanka. I was slowly getting over my cold, and Hubby was still trying to recover from this ‘Delhi Belly’. Our hotel in Mumbai was near Juhu beach, which is located in the central suburb of Mumbai, so we hung out a fair bit there.

On one of the days, we started by going to Prithvi Theater, which organizes annual drama festival that features the best plays from India. It also has numerous theater workshops and outside the theater, there is a garden café which serves delicious food on lamp lit tables. It is famous for its North Indian food and Irish coffee. Hubby ordered the Irish coffee, and I ordered some vegetables samosa. The vegetable samosa were so so but the Irish coffee was just to die for!

We then had a late lunch at Mahesh lunch home, Hubby ordered the baked pomfret gassi, which is baked fish which was a little dry but extremely tasty  and I ordered the chicken tikka, which was absolutely delicious, and a side of garlic naan. Both the baked fish and chicken tikka had similar flavours. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a photo of each dish, as the waiter splits the dish in half and serves it to you.

The garlic naan were huge, it was thin and absolutely garlicky and delicious. I needed some curry to dip the garlic naan, however, we didn’t order any! Damn!

In the afternoon, we went for a drink at Vie Lounge and Deck. It apparently has the best location and view in Mumbai, right on Juhu beach. We spent the afternoon drinking and people watching.

Unfortunately there were a horrendous amount of rubbish on the beach, it’s not exactly the ‘beach’ you go sun baking , but it was indeed gorgeous, sitting there, watching the sun set.

Despite all the rubbish, there were people playing volleyball, football and cricket. There were even people running on the beach.

As the sun goes down, Juhu Beach turns into a fun-fair, where local food stalls and ferry riders horde the area. Like Chowpatty Beach (which is a relatively cleaner than Juhu Beach), it is a popular place to spend time in the evenings and enjoy the appetizing local snacks of Mumbai.

Here is a man who made our dinner that evening. We wanted to try the Pav Bhaji.

Pav means bread, Bhaji is a term for a curry and vegetable dish. Pav Bhaji consists of the bhaji (a potato-based curry) and the pav, garnished with coriander and chopped onions. This was absolutely divine! The curry was full of flavour with a hint of chili and the bread which was garlicky was a great compliment.

Hubby ordered a side of Bhel Puri, which is a puffed rice dish with potatoes and a tangy tamarind sauce. It was good but the Pav Bhaji was a winner!

We probably shouldn’t have ordered another icy dessert drink, but Hubby and I couldn’t resist. Check out all the different colours, I suggested any colour except for blue!

So Hubby ordered the green icy dessert, which consisted of coconut, nougat and cendol – oh my my.. it was divine! It was deliciously sweet! We pretended not to see the shaved ice that the man put into it, it was just too good to pass!

The Pav Bhaji was so good that we actually had it again the next night. Hubby really loved it, however, it really didn’t help with the ‘Delhi Belly’ which is a shame. We were meeting one of Hubby’s friends, S, for dinner one evening. S wanted to take us somewhere at Colaba, but Hubby was afraid of going too far, so we went back to Mahesh lunch home and I have to say, S, ordered extremely well! My my – what we had that night were amazingly good.

We started with the baked fish stuffed with shrimps and this was scrumptiously good. The fish was tender and cooked to perfection, the prawns were curry base with a hint of chili. It was SO scrumptious that I ate Hubby’s share. In my defense, Hubby was not really feeling too well and this didn’t sit well in his stomach! MORE for me!!! My my my…..

S and I then shared the crab, cooked in butter, pepper and garlic and again… this was so delicious, there were times where I just had to stop and pause! The crab was cooked to perfection, it was meaty and full of flavour! I came out of there smelling of garlic but I was deliciously happy!

I felt sorry for Hubby as he couldn’t eat anything. Everything he tried was either too heavy or too sickening. We ordered a light naan and a curry, which I didn’t take a photo off as I was too engrossed in my crab, however, Hubby could not even eat that!

I can’t remember the name of this, but S ordered one for me to try. It was different to say the least, it was mixed of spices and herbs wrapped in a leaf and you eat the whole thing together. It was ‘interesting’.

It was a great meal with S, and it was definitely great catching up with him. We will definitely come and visit you in Delhi next year or the year after!

Thought I would share just some of the highlights from our India trip. We had some pretty mediocre meal also, we had lunch at the Leopold Café and that was so so. Unfortunately we didn’t get to eat as much as I have liked due to our illness, but I am glad to say that we (well, I certainly did) recovered a lot quicker than Hubby.

Prithvi Theatre

20 Janki Kutir , Juhu Church Road

Mumbai 400049, India

Ph : +91 22 2614 9546

Mahesh lunch home

Kings Apartment, Juhu Tara Road,

Next to Juhu Centaur,

Mumbai 400049, India.

Ph: +91 22 5695554

Vie Deck and Lounge

102 Juhu Tara Road

Santa Cruz, Mumbai, 40054, India

Ph: +91 22 2660 3003