63 degree egg, PB&J with Nutella and bacon @ Devon Cafe, Surry Hills

affogato

I’m eating the best breakfast I’ve ever had in my entire life with the Sakuma’s and drinking the most delicious affogato on a chilly autumn morning and I’m happier than a pig rolling in the proverbial stuff! smirk

devon cafe surry hills

Devon Cafe is a trendy breakfast spot located at Surry Hills. The shape of the cafe is slightly unusual due to the extensions, and they have parts in the middle where it’s almost al-fresco, except for the camouflage nets thrown over the ceiling in an effort to keep the heat in.

devon sydney

We were seated at the back, where lots of interesting graffiti graces the walls but unfortunately, a member of our party (her first time in Australia) couldn’t really tolerate the cold so we all shifted to a table beside an industrial heater.

chai latte

You can actually see into the courtyard beside the cafe since it’s practically al-fresco, with just netting and fences, which reminds me a lot of the inner-courtyard of Adolf Wagner in Frankfurt. Devon Cafe is listed under Modern Australian in The Good Food guide and they deliver a short and concise but immensely delectable selection of breakfast dishes.

BREAKFAST WITH THE SAKUMA’S (AUD 27)
miso grilled king salmon, smoked eel croquette, 63′ egg, radish petit salid & kewpi mayonaise

breakfast with the sakumas

I asked our very bubbly waitress for a recommendation and she suggested this. I was torn between ordering this or the Eggs Blini and I’m glad I followed her recommendation coz this is one divine dish, as expected from ex-Guillaume chefs.

The delicious 63′ egg shimmered on my plate and it was the perfect combination of runny and soft textures. A proper 63′ egg has the *same* consistency for both the yolk and white and takes at least an hour to prepare. I’ve seen a lot of local breakfast places attempt to do this with an off-the-shelf vacuum sealer and sous vide combo (about RM 2,000 from your friendly neighborhood appliances store) but they’ve all failed miserably compared to experience and skill with a bain-marie.

sous vide salmon

However, the most wonderful component of the dish was the miso grilled salmon. I have never thought it possible for salmon to taste this good. I don’t even like salmon (and won’t eat it unless it came from Devon’s). The salmon here is sweet and grilled to perfection, before being given the sous vide treatment and it practically falls apart when I gently applied pressure with my fork.

It’s salmon perfection on a plate! The miso gives the entire piece of king salmon a strong dose of umami as well, making you want to eat more. I have yet to find a better tasting salmon and our guide (who has a Norwegian boyfriend who cooks fish well) even said this tastes better than his and she’s not one to give compliments to fish lightly. It’s so tender, moist and flavorful it’s amazing!

The crispy smoked eel croquette was so good I could happily eat 3 plates in a single sitting.

LITTLE LOST BREAD (AUD 18.50)
PB&J brioche French toast, warm banana, nutella, jam, peanut butter ice cream with bacon

little lost bread

This is just awesome. There are no other adjectives to describe it – the PB&J is “de-constructed” e.g. the peanut butter is actually an ice cream, and there’s a dollop of jam as well as a very generous smear of Nutella on the plate and piles of bacon on top.

LAMB SANDWICH (AUD 20.50)
slow roasted lamb garlic confit, roasted capsicum, cheddar cheese, spinach with chips

lamb sandwich

This didn’t go down very well, but the chips are good and the aioli dipping sauce is wonderful.

KAYA TOAST (AUD 13.70)
coconut jam, butter, light soy 63′ eggs, brioche toast

kaya toast

It’s not 100% authentic since the coconut jam is actually mixed with butter but they made it even better and I love the sous vide egg.

devons affogato

I also had Devon’s Affogato (AUD 7) – a wonderful concoction where 3 perfect coffee beans are put on top of two scoops of artisan ice cream, a cup of melted chocolate with a shot of Five Senses single-origin espresso on the side. Devon’s Cafe has a barista on staff and they only use Alchemy beans and Five Senses single-origin coffee. It’s sinfully good.

devon cafe owner

We had a change to speak with the owner and it turns out that the husband-and-wife duo is Malaysian and Indonesian, respectively. However, their chefs are all poached from Guillaume Bistro and their barista used to train others at Toby’s Estate (still have an unopened tin of single origin Ghana drinking chocolate in my pantry by them).

devons magic muffin

Devon’s Cafe is also very famous for their muffins and we had one to share. It’s best eaten while hot – this is Devon’s Magic Muffin (AUD 4). Seriously, that’s what it’s called! There’s neither THC/CBD nor psilocybin inside (you should head to Amsterdam for those, I had a really good magic muffin while I was there) but it’s still magically delicious.

devon cafe

I would seriously recommend a trip to Surry Hills to check out trendy Devon’s Cafe if you’re in Sydney and into a modern twist on classic Australian dishes. It’s near the station and located right on Devonshire Street so it’s hard to miss. The breakfast here is to die for.

Devon’s Cafe
76, Devonshire Street,
Surry Hills, New South Wales

Cielo Dolci Gelato with hot dishes, salad and other modernist dishes @ Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe, Solaris Dutamas

Whimsical Gelateria Caffe

Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe at Solaris Dutamas started out as a gelato place before expanding their menu to offer a very interesting combination of gelato with hot dishes. It all sounds very exciting, new and interesting and thus we dropped by over the weekend to check it out and have a late breakfast.

whimsical salad

I actually first heard about this place from Sean (who provides a very up-to-date listing of Klang Valley restaurants) and was intrigued at the unusual menu. It’s molecular gastronomy, in a sense, or rather modernist cuisine. I originally thought it’ll be somewhat gimmicky but I was proven wrong.

whimsical solaris dutamas

They don’t just put gelato into every single dish, they only do it if it makes sense and adds to the experience. I thought that shows remarkable restraint. The dishes with gelato are helpfully marked with an ice-cream symbol and we ordered ALL the unusual ones.

Tomato Basil Salad (RM 20.90)
Cielo Dolci Basil Gelato manifests as cooling dressing on a garden of large Japanese cucumber strips, Romaine lettuce, red + cherry tomatoes, chive & goat cheese, with the complete touch of balsamic reduction.

Tomato Basil Salad

This was the salad that we ordered to share and what dispelled my initial thoughts about gimmicky use of gelato. We had sharing plates and tasted everything and it was amazing! I don’t usually give rave reviews for salad but this one works very well.

The crunchy bits of baguette adds sweetness to the juiciness of the salad, and the balsamic vinegar works well for a touch of acidity but what made the dish magic is the basil gelato – it wasn’t sweet and it wasn’t savory, it just tastes strongly of basil and I was surprised at how well gelato goes with salad to provide a textural contrast and a delightful mouth-feel.

Rise & Shine! (RM 24.50)
Cielo Dolci Beef Bacon Gelato shining upon a bed of pancakes with beef sausage, scrambled eggs & strips of beef bacon. Rounded up with salad on the side.

Rise and Shine

This is pure genius! The classic hot full breakfast with eggs, sausages and (beef) bacon is given a touch of magic with a scoop of beef bacon gelato! I didn’t quite like the usage of beef bacon but that was the only beef I had with the dish. smirk

The beef bacon gelato goes very well with the hot breakfast, which I didn’t expect. I thought it’ll all become a messy gooey mess but it didn’t melt that fast, surprisingly. I ate this by cutting up the bacon, putting some eggs on it and scooping some beef bacon gelato into the eggs before popping it into my mouth. The pancakes soaks up the melted gelato well too!

Duck on the Run! (RM 23.90)
A stack of smoked duck, caramelized onion & poached eggs on waffle & finishes with house hollandaise sauce.

Duck on the Run

We couldn’t find any more hot dishes with gelato so my better half ordered this instead. It’s okay, albeit the pancakes were slightly too thick in comparison to the (admittedly) paltry amount of duck.

Maybe this didn’t come across as interesting with the other contenders with gelato thrown into the mix so I gave it an honest fair try but I simply can’t recommend this dish. My dear couldn’t finish it either so we’ll try the other fare on offer next time.

Cotton Candy Affogato (RM 13)

cotton candy affogato

This is a delightful concoction which rivals the best affogato I had in Sydney about a week ago. It consists of Cielo Dolci Coconut Gelato with gula melaka (palm sugar) which is topped with a nicely spun web of cotton candy!

cotton candy

You pour the shot of espresso into the mix and it’s puzzlingly categorized as a dessert over here (I was asked if I wanted it now or after my meal, at brunch) although it’s served as a standard coffee drink in Australia and Europe.

affogato cotton candy

Nevertheless, it was a great affogato, the second best I’ve had in my life, and that is high praise indeed considering we just came back from France earlier this month and I just came back from Australia a couple of days ago.

gelato flavors

We also had a scoop of Cielo Dolci Bailey’s & Chocolate Gelato (RM 10.90) for dessert.

Cielo Dolci Baileys Chocolate Gelato

I asked for a recommendation and the lady there suggested this flavor. There is a RM 3 surcharge for flavors with alcohol ingredients, which I thought was well worth it. I thought it was very good, as did my dear.

whimsical bill

The service is attentive and good, and there is a current promotion where you get 30% off your bill if you fill in a survey form (which we didn’t get, but we still got the discount). I also strangely got a complimentary Whimsical Lemonade (RM 13) which no one told me about, but which I had asked about since it was so good. The total came up to RM 71.75 for the two of us after the discount, which is quite significant, considering the original price is RM 93.20.

whimsical gelato

Overall, I’ll say this is a great place for brunch on the weekends. It can be a bit full at times though, and besides the one miss on our order, I thought all the hot and salad dishes with gelato was delightful. I’ll like to see them do something with their nasi lemak gelato in a dish someday. Do note that they take cash only so no credit card facilities are available at this place.

whimsical us

It can also be a bit tricky to find if you’re not very familiar with Solaris Dutamas, and there’s no signage up yet, so here’s the address:

Whimsical Lemonade

Whimsical Gelateria & Caffe
D2-G3-05, Solaris Dutamas,
No. 1, Jalan Dutamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-64190966

Seafood platter @ Vues on the Bay, Port Stephens

me seafood platter

This is the very first meal I had during my recent trip to New South Wales! We arrived at Sydney in the morning and drove 2 ½ hours to Port Stephens for lunch. I’ve had quite a few seafood platters in Australia and it always has a hot and cold component.

seafood platter cold

I thought I saw a Moreton Bay Bug at the bottom left of the cold platter and I asked about it. The waitress wasn’t sure so she went to ask the cook, who came back with the answer – it’s a Balmain Bug! It’s also another species of slipper lobster and looks a lot like the Moreton Bay Bug but the Eastern Balmain Bug (officially called butterfly fan lobster) is more common around NSW.

fresh oysters

The cold components of the dish are mud crabs, the Balmain bug, plenty of oysters and prawns with a side of salad and fresh fruits. I’ve eaten several seafood platters during my time in Australia and these ingredients are always the same, although sometimes you’ll get a regular lobster as well as the bug.

vues on the bay

The seafood items in this platter are all boiled and shocked in ice water so it’s eaten cold and I’ve always like the style of this execution. The oysters are a little small in this case, but they’re all local and not flown thousands of miles away coz oysters don’t taste good after a long journey. This was at Vues on the Bay, a very playfully named Australian cuisine restaurant right in the middle of town. Yup, this is the hub of Port Stephens with a wonderful view of the pier.

vues view

Interesting fact: Port Stephens only has one (1) traffic light in the entire township and it’s right in front of this restaurant. The residents petitioned very hard against it since they didn’t want any traffic lights in their town. :)

seafood platter hot

This being Australia, the hot component of the seafood platter has plates laden with thick cut chips, like the ones you’ll get at the local fish and chip shop, and calamari (battered and fried squid). I like how modern Australian cuisine don’t do it in ring shapes but either cigar shaped (very nice) or thick curly (like this one).

I love the calamari here, it’s so fresh that you don’t get the off-putting taste of squid and it’s soft and practically dissolves in your mouth the moment you bite into it.

Korean Burger Revolution @ Bulgogi Brothers (and how to get 10% off)

bulgogi brothers

I was fortunate enough to be invited for a tasting session of four (4) new authentic Korean burgers before their launch. I was a bit dubious at first, since the burgers are made by Bulgogi Brothers, who are more renowned for their Korean BBQ than their burgers but I went with an open mind and said mind was blown away!

I’ve been to Korea twice before, the first trip was to Busan for the Pusan International Film Festival and the second to Seoul.

bulgogi brothers burger

Bulgogi Brothers are the first restaurant in Malaysia to successfully reproduce the taste of Korean dishes in a burger. You’ll know you’re not eating a regular burger from the use of authentic Korean flavors. I sampled all four of them and I’ll be back with my better half in tow to make use of my own discount code (more on that later) today!

bulgogi brothers promo

The new Korean burgers are all made with premium Korean beef bulgogi and they’re wonderfully creative:

Bibimbap Burger (RM 25.90)

Bibimbap Burger

Bibimbap is a dish that uses rice and other ingredients mixed together in a stone pot with a raw egg to make a quick and tasty meal. It’s probably one of the most popular dishes in Korea. Eating this burger is like eating bibimbap, without the rice.

It’s made up of a huge home-made beef bulgogi patty (90% meat and 10% beef fat for a delicious and moist burger) topped with sprouts, carrots, zucchinis and a sunny side up egg to get all the flavors of bibimbap into a burger. It doesn’t quite look like bibimbap but it tastes spot on!

I really liked how everything meshes together, and the sunny side up egg is perfectly done to emulate just how the egg would turn out in a bibimbap. The charcoal buns are specially crafted for Bulgogi Brothers and biting into this stack was one of the greatest pleasures I had that night, with the runny yolk coating each mouthful richly.

Kimchi Burger (RM 22.90)

Kimchi Burger

I’ve never quite liked kimchi. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s just not something I’ll eat regularly. I don’t usually even touch the complimentary kimchi when I eat Korean. However, I ate some of the kimchi at Bulgogi Brothers and I can honestly say that it was the best kimchi I ever had. The balance of the kimchi was perfect – the spiciness, the acidity and the umami finish.

The Kimchi Burger comes with the hand-made beef patty with mushrooms and lightly sautéed kimchi. It was moderately spicy and despite my aversion to kimchi, I found that I liked it quite a bit and this turned out to be my second favorite burger.

I particularly liked how well the kimchi goes together with the burger, making it a lot more than the sum of its parts. All their burgers are served with a side of crispy home-made sweet potato chips, which goes very well with the spicy kimchi burger as a sweet component.

Spicy Gwangyang Burger (RM 25.90)

Spicy Gwangyang Burger

This is a fiery burger for all fans of spicy food! The Spicy Gwangyang Burger is made of tender sliced beef brisket drenched in the Bulgogi Brothers sweet-and-spicy barbecue-like Osam sauce. It’s garnished with button mushrooms and onions, along with slivers of melted American cheese and comes off tasting like a Korean version of a Sloppy Joe.

I highly recommend this burger if you can take the heat. It’s painfully delicious and yet the osam sauce provides a sweet component so it’s not all spice. I like the selection of the brisket for the burger too, as it’s a very flavorful cut. If you’re only going to eat one burger, I’ll suggest this – you’ll definitely want more once you’ve taken a bite!

I could eat this every day for a month and be a happy man! :)

Unyang Burger (RM 28.90)

Unyang Burger

The burger for meat-lovers (get your mind out of the gutter), it’s a heavyweight offering with a thick home-made beef patty layered with American cheese, beef brisket in savory sauce and crispy shredded potato sandwiched in a toasted charcoal bun. The beef patties at Bulgogi Brothers are surprisingly juicy and I asked the head chef about it.

It turns out that they’re made with 90% meat and 10% beef fat mixed inside so when the latter melts, the juices are all retained in the patty. The Unyang burger is a very “clean tasting” beef burger that’s perfect for those who’re not into spicy food.

I like the flavor combinations and I ate a whole Unyang Burger and it stuffed me to the point of a near food coma…and I can eat a lot! The burgers are good value for money due to their sheer size, while not compromising on quality.

burger revolution

The Burger Revolution menu is a rather clever idea since you don’t always have the time or the inclination for bulgogi at lunch. It’s a quick burger that stays true to its Korean heritage and I loved the ambiance of Bulgogi Brothers with the K-Pop music playing in the background – you get the authentic experience the moment you step foot inside.

eating burger

You’ll get a 10% discount when you order from the new Burger Revolution menu when you mention my blog too! Just say “SixthSeal” from 16th June – 30th June at any of the Bulgogi Brothers restaurants in Malaysia and you’ll get 10% off your order and get an awesome meal to boot. Let me know which one is your favorite!

I’ll be going with my dear in tow and use my own discount code too. Haha!

Bulgogi Brothers
Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya
Pavilion KL
eCurve, Mutiara Damansara
Mid Valley Megamall

Facebook: Bulgogi Brothers Malaysia
Website: http://www.bulgogibros.com.my

Dinner at Little Beach Boat House, Port Stephens

boathouse

Little Beach Boat House is a quaint little place just beside the bay at Port Stephens. You can hear the waves coming in at night and the wait staff is a duet of twins! The two Aussie girls look so much like each other that I just had to take a photo of them.

waitress aussie twins

The service is attentive and friendly and they had a special of the day, which I ordered. I actually recorded one of the twins reciting the dish in question so I can remember it, and she kindly obliged. Heh. This is one of the best restaurants in town according to Sharon, who dined with us last night.

popcorn

There was popcorn on the table – a growing trend that I’ve noticed in a lot of restaurants, who serve this in lieu of bread. I think it’s great! The dishes has a bit of a modernist twist in them too, with foams, purees and jelly sauce components on most of the dishes.

Entree

Seared Scallops ($19.00)
Cauliflower puree, chorizo, salsa verde, roasted corn

seared-scallops

This is really good! I like how the seared scallops and chorizo pairs up. Wei Zhi and I ordered different entrees and mains so we could try different things on the menu and this is her order.

Beef Cheek & Potato Croquette ($18.00)
W/ pee puree, binnorie feta & black garlic mayo

beef cheek croquette

I was more interested in beef cheek – a cut which is really flavorful if done right and they do it well here. It’s generously mixed into the crispy potato croquette and a nice touch is the black garlic mayo (the fermented garlic we use to make bak kut teh back home).

turkish bread

Toasted Turkish Bread ($10)
W/ balsamic & olive oil, garlic & herb butter, hommous and olive & feta tapenade

Mains

Miso Glazed Salmon ($33.00)
W/ soy roasted sweet potato, cashews, steamed greens and sesame & rice wine dressing

miso glazed salmon

I’m not a huge fan of salmon but according to Sharon (who also watches MasterChef Australia and offered me some) they did everything right in the “checklist” – crispy skin, no bones, juicy inside.

Seared Veal Medallions ($34.00)
W/ Jerusalem artichokes, baby spinach, green beans and parmesan & sage butter

veal medallions

I’ve cooked Jerusalem artichokes before, which is totally different from the globe artichoke. I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc which goes very well with my fish dish but makes the veal tastes rather bitter.

Crispy Skin Barramundi ($39.00)
Saltwater barramundi with roast pumpkin, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, bacon and a pee puree

barramundi

This is my order, the special of the day. I didn’t know it was fried though, since I don’t particularly like grilled fish (any other cooking method is better) but I kept an open mind. I wanted to eat barramundi since Australia is one of two countries where you can find it. I asked the waitress for a wine pairing and she suggested either Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling but “personally I’ll go for the former”.

sauvignon blanc

I took her advice and it tasted great with the barramundi! The Sauvignon Blanc is very sweet and pairs well with the fish. The skin of the barramundi is crisp and it’s a classic white fish which flakes well but has a stronger taste than other popular white fish like cod and John Dory. The barramundi is excellent when eaten with the sweet and smoky roast pumpkin though!

Boathouse ’3 Pigs’ ($36.00)
Crispy pork belly, pork schnitzel, prosciutto, parmesan, chorizo, corn cob, bacon mayo & apple jam

boathouse 3 pigs

This is probably the restaurant’s flagship dish. It came on a huge wooden platter and has 3 (three) different pork items on it, including a crispy pork belly the size of a small steak! It’s beautiful and the apple jam has been jellyfied, giving it a bit of a modernist twist.

little boat house

The dinner at Little Beach Boat House was great, and the company better – we talked late into the night about everything, and I learned a lot about the Port Stephens area too. Tourism New South Wales and Tourism Australia picked up the bill (thanks Duglass and Sharon) and we all had a bit of fun with the friendly twin waitresses who look so much alike! :)

twin waitresses

I’m still at Port Stephens, heading back to Sydney later! I’ll be here until next week and you can follow what I’m up to on my other social media channels coz I got an AUD 2 per day data plan!

http://instagram.com/sixthseal
https://twitter.com/sixthseal
https://www.facebook.com/SixthSealcom

Posted: 8:53 am Sydney time (GMT +2)

A meal by 28 Michelin star “Chef of the Century” Joel Robuchon at our Paris apartment!

joel robuchon tv dinner

The statement above is perfectly correct and true! smirk

joel robuchon

I present to you, a line of ready-to-eat meals by Joel Robuchon! This is his Le fameux Parmentier de Canard or “The famous Duck Parmentier”. There are several different meals, partnered with Fleury Michon. It’s sold in supermarkets and convenience stores like Monop’ (of the Monoprix chain – they have everything from stores to all sorts of food from cookies to milk!). There was a Monop’ just around the corner from our apartment and we were so tired the first evening we arrived in Paris that we just wanted to cook something easy.

monop

I was quite surprised to see Joel Robuchon lending his name to what seems like TV dinners but such an American term would be out of place in France for this is one quality meal for 5.13 Euros!

parmentier de canard

The serving bowl it comes in is not made of disposable and flimsy plastic but solid ceramic!

ceramic bowl

Duck Parmentier is a classic French dish that looks like a cottage pie. We saw some Cuisses du Poulet Roties (Roasted Chicken Thighs) on sale for 5.19 Euro (original price 13.95 Euros). These are the miniature chicken breeds (also called bantam chicken) which you can *fit in the palm of your hand*! They’re really quite cute (and tasty)!

french miniature chicken

I used that to plate up the dish so it looks like the serving suggestion (just 3 minutes 30 seconds in the microwave) and we ate it with some pasta for our first night in France. It was quite delicious, despite being a ready-to-eat dinner. They pride themselves for ingredients being 100% sourced from France too, as the labels clearly states.

joel robuchon dinner

We actually got to eat through all his collection – it is wide and varied indeed, and although it costs more than other ready-to-eat meals, I convinced my dear that we should get them. It’s not everyday you can have a 28 Michelin star chef “cook” for you at your apartment after all…even in France! ;)

Our 2 Michelin star lunch at Le Relais LOUIS XIII

relais louis xiii paris

I’ve always wanted to bring my better half to a Michelin star restaurant coz she’s never eaten at one before and decided it would make a great birthday present for her! I booked a table for two and set aside one day in our Paris vacation for this.

relais louis xiii

Le Relais LOUIS XIII fits the bill perfectly coz:

  • Chef Manuel Martinez got 2 Michelin stars in 2014
  • The restaurant serves classic authentic French cuisine
  • This is the very spot Louis XIII was proclaimed King of France in 1610 (thus the name)

michelin star

Oh, and did I mention that Picasso used to live across the street? smirk Relais Louis XIII is a very historical restaurant and they’re proud of it – the interior has the original old stones, wooden beams and valuable portraits of Louis XIII and Marie de Medicis as well as stained glass windows and antique Louis 13 chairs.

relais louis xiii menu

I had booked a spot at 12:15 pm when the restaurant opened and the waitress patiently explained and translated each of the menu items from French to English for us! There is no English menu, but the staff can speak English so there’s no worries there.

cream puff

We were served warm cheese puffs upon arriving and the table is perfectly set with butter, salt and pepper as well as a bread tray. The wait staff to table ratio is at least 1:1 – which meant we had our very own waitress and at least one other staff to help…and help they did!

relais louis 13

It was a little disconcerting, the level of service that was given – move your glass a little and they’ll come over with a smile to refill it and move it to just the right spot where it was before, facing the correct way.

amuse-bouche

More about Michelin star level service in another post, I want to talk about the food!

Entrées

Ravioli de homard Breton, foie gras et creme de cepes

ravioli de homard breton

This is their signature appetizer which got them the Michelin stars. It’s what my dear ordered and it’s absolutely fabulous! I can eat this every day and not get sick! The beautiful ravioli is half lobster and half foie gras.

ravioli foie gras

It’s topped with a porcini mushroom foam that’s so intense I’ve never had anything like it before. A beautiful start to the meal.

Toast de tete de veau / sauce gribiche / encornets

calf brains

I ordered this solely on the waitress’s recommendation. She said it’s a classic French dish – the kind the restaurant does best. This restaurant serves classic French haute cuisine with minimal modernist touches and I thought this would go well.

tete de veau

It’s toast topped with the brain of a calf and comes with nicely seared pieces of squid that makes an interesting texture combination, especially with the toast it’s served on. However, their flagship ravioli dish is slightly better I have to admit I secretly coveted my better half’s appetizer. Haha!

Main Course

Lieu jaune de ligne / fricassee de legumes / tomato confite / emulsion aux herbes

john dory

This is what my dear had! It’s a John Dory fish with tomato confit and a herb emulsion.

We’ve always wondered what John Dory tastes like and when the waitress explained what this was, she ordered it immediately. It tasted great – the fish was cooked perfectly (moist and tender) but it’s the kind of white fish that is popular in the West – bland by itself but absorbs flavors well, which is where the herb emulsion comes in, as a bit of a modernist touch.

Quasi de veau de lait “Hugo Desnoyer”

hugo desnoyer

My order is sweetbread! I’ve always wanted to eat sweetbread cooked by a classic French chef and here was my chance. I wasn’t disappointed!

sweetbread

There’s an option to add macaroni with morilles (morel mushrooms) for an additional 14 Euros but I opted out as I wanted to taste it by itself and we ordered a lot of desserts. Sweetbread is the thymus gland of the veal and it’s a very rich and creamy dish. There’s also a bed of perfectly caramelized asparagus at the bottom which cuts down on the heaviness of the dish. I loved it!

Cheese

Assortiment de nos fromages

fromage

There’s nothing more French than a cheese course before the desserts and we both opted for it. This is one dish divided into two, instead of sharing from our own plates, French restaurants can actually portion one dish into two upon request!

The selection of their cheeses also came with a delicious apricot chutney on the side!

Desserts

MilleFeuille, crème legere a la vanille Bourbon

millefeuille

This is their famous millefeuille with Bourbon vanilla light cream! It’s probably their most famous dish and dessert and we opted for a shared dish (one dessert portioned into two plates).

mille feuille

The awesome thing about Relais Louis XIII’s mille-feuille is that it’s deep fried! Words cannot do it justice, the crunchy texture of the dessert and the vanilla bean speckled custard made me nearly lick the plate to finish everything up!

There’s a reason why it’s the restaurant’s most popular dish, you can’t get a better mille-feuille elsewhere!

La Pomme – Gelee au Gin et sorbet Citron basilic

molecular gastronomy apple

This is my adorable dessert, the mysteriously named “La Pomme” (The Apple). It’s one of their rare molecular gastronomy forays. It’s a piece of art – there’s a cream filling inside the small “green apple” (complete with a fake chocolate branch and candied basil leaf).

relais louis apple

I was pleasantly surprised by the intense basil flavor of the crunchy “apple leaf” made of sugar infused with basil and the chocolate stick goes into the faux green apple (which consists of just a very thin layer of real apple tasting jelly) which in turn bursts with the filling. It’s a very intelligent dish that plays with your mind and mouth.

There’s a sorbet on the side to cleanse your palate too!

(along with crunchy bits of juniper tasting sweets)

Tarte minute au chocolat “Grand cru”

grand cru tart

This is my dear’s dessert! It’s a chocolate tart that oozes with rich and creamy molten chocolate. Not just any chocolate – Valrhona Grand Cru! It’s on their daily special and the wonderful spin they put on the dish is with the two ice cream you see – there’s a vanilla quenelle and a chocolate rocher.

The interesting bit is that the “chocolate ice cream” is *hot* and the vanilla bean ice cream is *cold*! The former is actually a ganache, plated like ice cream. It really plays wonders with your palate – it’s genius, how they pull off these things!

crumbing table

We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 Michelin star lunch at Relais Louis XIII. The restaurant has a few mixed reviews on the net about bad service but we received excellent service throughout, it’s the exact opposite of the snobbish French waiter stereotype.

relais louis us

Our waitress was warm, patient and translated each menu item for us, and one of the younger waiters took this photo of us. It’s an excellent place to go for classic French cuisine in Paris! Relais Louis XIII has consistently been one of the best value 2 Michelin star restaurants in Paris, France – delivering fresh, classic French cuisine you won’t be able to sample anywhere else! :)

Ladurée macarons at Champs-Élysées, Paris

Ladurée Champs Élysées box

Ladurée is widely credited as inventing the macaron as we know it today! The double decker macaron with a ganache filling was first made by Louis-Ernest Ladurée (which the shop is named after). We actually tracked down their biggest tea room and bakery in Champs-Élysées and took the Metro right to the place before even visiting the Arc de Triomphe. :)

Ladurée Champs Élysées

Champs-Élysées is a very prestigious address in Paris, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York (although it was Parisian culture which started the latter). It’s very expensive to maintain a presence here coz the real estate is incredibly desirable. Ladurée actually calls their branches as “houses” or “boutiques” even though they’re technically a tea room – that’s how seriously they take their heritage!

Ladurée Bakery Paris

Their restaurant, tea room and bakery at 75, Avenue des Champs-Élysées flies their famous green-and-gold Ladurée, Paris sign and is a huge old and stately building that has al-fresco seating during spring. This is the place that we’ve been looking for and we made a bee-line right into their bakery…

Ladurée queue

…to run into a long, slow-moving line of people.

Ladurée Paris

It was more than a queue, it was like watching the human equivalent of rabbits breeding! There are tourists, locals glaring at the camera toting tourists, and bemused passer-bys who got dragged in by the sheer force of the crowd swarming for Ladurée macarons. It was chaos, but organized chaos.

Ladurée menu

We were each passed a brochure listing their macarons, including the seasonal specials. My better half wanted to get ½ a dozen so I asked the patient and professional Ladurée wait staff for their recommendations. I only changed one and here’s our list:

Laduree macarons

  • Vanille (Vanilla)
  • Reglisse (Liquorice)
  • Fruits Rouges (Red Fruits)
  • Pistache (Pistachio)
  • Marie-Antoinette
  • Caramel Fleur de Sel (Salted Caramel)

Ladurée France

The blue Marie-Antoinette and the Red Fruits macarons are seasonal specials for Spring 2014!

fruit rouges macaron

The six (6) macarons are all awesome and there’s one thing I noticed about vanilla in France – no one uses vanilla flavoring, it’s like it’s a culinary sin! Every place we’ve been, from Michelin star restaurants to cafes uses real dried vanilla fruits (which is the second most expensive spice after saffron!) and it makes a lot of difference!

Ladurée macaron box

I quite liked some of the Ladurée macarons – the Marie-Antoinette, Salted Caramel and Vanilla are awesome but the best one is the one I switched to – Liquorice (swapped this for the recommended Lemon). The Liquorice macaron is black and when you bite into it, you get a mouthful of dry ash and acrid bitterness…and then the mild sweetness of the licorice filling hits you, for just a short while before it disappears and leaves a pleasant aniseed aftertaste in your mouth.

marie antoinette

It’s ephemeral and epitomizes the macaron perfectly. I’m not just trying to alliterate my words, but that’s how I felt about the Liquorice macaron. However, as for the others, I felt that Pierre Hermé macarons tastes better.

Champs Élysées

I’ll do a review of Pierre Hermé macarons soon – we tried both of the great French maracons and both were good! I know that both has branches here or close to us but they taste totally different. Macarons are supposed to be temperature controlled and eaten within 3 days and it doesn’t take well to importation or local ingredient substitution.

ladurée seasonal macarons

You can never get macarons here that’s as good as the ones in France and I’m glad we managed to eat these delicate French creations during our Europe trip! Oh yeah, our 2 Michelin star meal at Relais Louis XIII is coming up next! :)

Ebbelwoi (apple wine) in Frankfurt

applewine murals

There’s one thing that Frankfurt is *really* famous for. No, it’s not the wurst (sausages) that derives from its name, it’s apple wine! Called Apfelwein (or Ebbelwoi) in German, the brewing of apple wine has been a source of pride for many Frankfurters.

schweizer strasse

It’s the (un?)official drink of the city!

sachsenhausen nord

There’s even an entire street in Sachsenhausen-Nord near the city of Frankfurt am Main that dedicates itself to apple wine! It’s informally called the Applewine Quarter and the street name is Schweizer Strasse. There are several establishments serving apple wine in Frankfurt (you can get it in most restaurants) but for the authentic experience, I highly recommend you go to a specialty shop!

zum gemalten haus

I was recommended two such apple wine houses by a knowledgeable local (our concierge haha) – both are located at Sachsenhausen-Nord. The first is called Zum Gemalten Haus and unfortunately, it’s closed on Mondays. The second is called Adolf Wagner (also known as Apfelwein Wagner) and I remember hearing about this place before – that’s how famous the apple wine bar is!

adolf wagner

Adolf Wagner has been around since 1931 – that means they’ve been brewing Frankfurt’s most famous drink for several centuries. There are actual long tables and chairs located both in front and inside the establishment. I recommend doing inside coz there’s a huge apple wine jug where they pour your drink from at the bar.

applewine quarter

The apple wine is brewed on the premises of Adolf Wagner itself! You can see it if you’re seated inside. There are also colorful murals depicting the good ol’ days of apple wine imbibing and scenes of general cheer.

apfelwein

You’ll expect a place like this to be expensive but it’s surprisingly affordable and all the locals come here. One glass of apple wine costs 1.90 Euro. That’s less than RM 10! It’s cheap even *when* you convert the currency. I had a 300 ml glass of their famous apple wine while my better half ordered the non-alcoholic apple wine.

apfelwein wagner prices

Surprisingly, the non-alcoholic apple wine costs slightly more than the regular apple wine. I’m not sure if that’s coz like decaf coffee, it goes through an extra step, but I very much doubt it. The non-alcoholic apple wine that my dear ordered (2 Euro for 300 ml glass) is clear and tastes like apple juice, albeit slightly rotten apple juice.

nonalcoholic ebbelwoi
A 300 ml glass of non-alcoholic apple wine

My apple wine is slightly cloudy from the unfiltered sediments and tastes like nothing I’ve ever come across. Apple wine doesn’t taste like apple cider – it doesn’t have that acidic bite to it. It’s smooth and delicious – but be careful, the alcohol content of these things can hit the two digit mark.

ebbelwoi
A 300 ml glass of regular apple wine

I’ve seen it quoted as 10.4% alcohol although every batch differs. Adolf Wagner also sells 1 litre bottles of their apple wine to go for just 2 Euros while the 5 litre souvenir jugs are just 13 Euros. Or you can just get their matchbooks (free) if you’re a cheapskate. ;)

matchbook

Protip: If you want to get apple wine from Frankfurt to bring home, avoid buying them at the touristy Romel square where every other shop (including the official tourist information center) offers nicely bottled and packaged apple wine for sale at a price premium. It’s not as authentic as grabbing a bottle (or jug) from Adolf Wagner, where the locals drink, so get it from a reputable apple wine bar instead of a souvenir shop!

wagner applewine

I highly recommend walking to Apfelwein Wagner and sitting down for a glass of apple wine when you’re in Frankfurt. It’s one of the few things which is unique to the city itself and even if you don’t consume alcohol, there’s a non-alcoholic apple wine to conform to your dietary/religious beliefs. It’s way better than grabbing a Frankfurter (and you can do the latter after some nice local apple wine in your tummy).

applewine prices

Apple wine is called the official drink of Frankfurt for a reason! :D

apfelwein wagner

Posted: 9:39 am Frankfurt time (GMT +2) – we just took the overnight Paris-Frankfurt am Main bus! :D

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Raw Pork Noodles a.k.a. Sheng Rou Mee

raw pork noodles

I first heard my uncle singing praises about this new place in Sibu. It was the coffee shop that we wanted to go to after my mom’s 3rd day funeral services but it was closed. My dad and I went hunting for it with my aunts the day before I was supposed to fly back to KL.

sheng rou mee

The place serves sheng rou mee which is roughly translated as “raw pork noodles”. The meat is not raw per se but it’s very rare. The meat is pounded into small, thin slices and then served in a broth and it cooks with ambient heat much like shabu shabu.

oily noodles

There are four (4) types of noodles on offer – the most popular is kampua mee, followed by oily noodles e.g. “you mien”. The latter is different from the ones in KL – the Sibu version is much thinner and absorbs the lard well. The noodles are tossed in lard oil, much like kampua mee.

wan li sheng rou mee

There you have it – Wan Li Sheng Rou Mee is basically kampua mee with a side dish of clear broth with rare pork slices inside…

raw pork soup

…and it’s delicious!

wan li pork noodles

The place was *packed* when we were there and new customers streamed in as soon as the others left. It’s RM 5 per dish, irrespective of the noodle type you choose but I’ll opt for the kampua as it goes with it well.

pork slices

It’s the latest fad to hit the town and I have to say that my uncle was spot on, it’s a nice place. Considering that a plate of kampua with radioactive red char siew goes for RM 2.50 in most stalls, paying a little extra for a nice bowl of clear broth with generous amounts of pork slices inside is apparently, a very solid business model!

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