One of the more improbable thing I heard about Hanoi (or Vietnam in general) while doing research about the place prior to visiting was this “free food tour” thingy, cos you know, in my mind, how can anything truly be free?
HanoiKids free food tour at Hanoi
Well, as it turns out, there is such thing. The many different “clubs” that offers free food tour operates under a similar motto – in exchange for their service, the tour guides, usually university students, get to practice their conversational English, and all we needed to do is to pay for the meals.
Our experience at Hanoi was provided by HanoiKids, we booked the service online through their website, and sure enough on the evening of our appointment date, our guides – Mint & Mok, showed up at the hotel lobby as promised.
Both these girls are students from Foreign Trade University located just a few kilometers away from here. In fact, they didn’t even know each other prior to this engagement, which I thought was a pretty interesting arrangement.
first meal – herbal chicken noodle
Our first destination was herbal chicken noodle, or My Ga Tan. This is not entirely too different from our version of herbal chicken mee suah, but with darker broth that’s almost half way to bak kut teh taste, and “instant” noodle instead of mee suah. The chicken was rather tasty and really soft, there’s also a side of salt & chili padi should you want to kick it up a notch.
Address: Mỳ Gà Tần 24 Hàng Bồ, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
dry pho with steamed chicken
Next up was none other than the most famous dish in Vietnam – pho. In Hanoi this is usually served with chicken instead of beef, and the place we were brought to – Pho Ga Khanh Beo, has the more unique dry version.
The chicken was again very soft, with the overall flavor here more subtle than the beef version in Ho Chi Minh City, but does make for a good comfort meal as well. This isn’t entirely unlike dry version of kuih teow soup in Penang, but with more vege and nuts.
Address: Phở Gà Khánh Béo 22 Hàng Hòm, Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam Hours: 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm
Grilled quail eggs at Nguyen Quang Bich Street
Moving on from those noodle dishes, we had this traditional street food that’s made of 3-4 quail eggs cooked with cheese, meat floss, fried shallots, green onion, sausage etc and served with tamarind sauce. It does take quite a bit for the lady to “grill” those tiny plates up but what you get at the end was quite a unique taste and experience unlike any other, now if they can just serve this at hotel breakfast egg station, my life would be complete.
Of course, no meal is complete without dessert, and for this purpose we were brought to this place by the name of Hoa Beo for a spot of dessert. We ended up having yogurt, fruit jelly, and even mixed fruits with condensed milk. While they aren’t exactly very sophisticated, it was a good sweet note to this rather awesome free food tour.
Thank you Mint & Moc for the wonderful hospitality. Do check out HanoiKids if your’e heading to Hanoi.
Address: Hoa Béo 17 Tố Tịch Hàng Gai, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội, Vietnam
A couple weeks ago I was invited to a pretty sweet offering – a food tasting session at My Honeymoon desserts at Kota Damansara.
Now desserts is often favored by female more than guys, and I think there’s a very good reason to it. DESSERTS is spelled exactly backwards of STRESSED,and are usually chilled, hence the XX portion of humankind are often the more chillax of the two.
We shall learn.
Update 27/8/2019: this place is closed
My Honeymoon Desserts
The story is, the owners of My Honeymoon went to Hong Kong for their, well, honeymoon and fell in love with the desserts during their the visit. The cravings started to mount when they’re back home, and hence the restaurant was born. Long version of the story here.
Mix Fruits Lo, Mango Special Lo
There were 11 of us at this review session, and 10 of them happened to be female, just like I mentioned earlier right?
We had quite a lot of different desserts over the night, in fact, it was the most desserts I had in one seating, and here I shall attempt to categorize them slightly:
The Lo down:
Mix Fruit Lo – honeydew, mango, watermelon, and more in this mixture of goodness, best of those who can’t decide
Mango Special Lo – the mango at My Honeymoon desserts is imported from Philippines, you can be sure of the quality. I’ve always love the mango from Philippines, even the dried version, but this one’s just superb!
Mango Cream with Sago & Pamelo, Durian & Mango Pancakes
Durian pancake – this is one of the must-haves at My Honeymoon Desserts if you’re a durian lover, but a must-avoid if you can’t stand durian for this is the real deal, plenty of King of fruits with all it’s glory… and smell.
Mango pancake – yep, it’s the mango again, mango and cream doesn’t work that well for me, but some swear by it.
Mango cream with sago & pamelo – the sweetness of mango & sago in contrast with the explosion of citrus when you bite into pamelo sacks, very interesting
Sweet Memory – Durian and beans, the name is perfect for durian lovers!
Shaved ice, new age ice kacang?:
Assorted Summer Special – almost like a shaved ice version of mix fruit lo, best for those who can’t decide
Tofu magic snow ice – the healthy choice, I like the big red beans and the tofu was a bit unexpected but in a good way
Mango snow ice – mango, shaved ice, pearl, do I need to say more?
special baked rice cake, Rachel presenting the mellow fellow pastry
Special baked rice cake – I felt that this one could be a little sweeter, essentially a baked “nian gao” (chinese sticky rice cake), not oily like the fried type
Mellow Fellow Pastry – topped with a scoop of chocolate ice cream, the crispy pastry with it’s filling were truly awesome, a perfect blend of sweet,s lightly salty and the right amount of savory tastes.
hello, chocolate sweet ball with crushed peanuts, sweet ball coated with crushed peanuts, mango special maruko
Hello – a mixture of tofu, pearl, cincau, and mango base. The pearls are big and juicy, I like them. Could probably use a better name though
Mango Special Maruko – more pearls and mango, if you love them equally, this is a good choice
We’ve got balls too:
Chocolate sweet balls with crushed peanuts – half a dozen ping pong ball sized tong yuen with black sesame fillings served with crushed nuts and chocolate sauce, addictive
Sweet balls coated with crushed peanuts – same as above for those who doesn’t like chocolate sauce
7 up mint syrup with sago-blue, mango magic snow ice, mango glutinous roll, mango pudding
Other desserts I couldn’t categorize:
Colorful granulated rice – I think this is a two in one type of deal where you get to have fruits and glutinous rice at the same time, main meal and dessert in one go, pretty good!
Mango pudding – yet another mango dessert, this one without any ice, done rather well, and the paler color shows that there’s no artificial coloring involved
Mango glutinous roll – the shredded coconut in this dish brings out the sweetness of mango even more
Scarily, the desserts you see here is but 1/4 to 1/3 of what is available at this outlet, so there’s plenty of choices to fit every type of taste. Most desserts here are priced below RM 10 and come in pretty good size portion, better deal than having just a cup of coffee at many places, and a cheaper too.
Ultimately, the desserts were made even better with the company I was with, the lovely girls from Nuffnang made this possible and it was a blast!
Address: My Honeymoon Desserts No. 22, PJU 5/10,. Kota Damansara, 47810. Petaling Jaya, Selangor GPS: 3.151556, 101.593044 Tel: 03-6150 3325
By the way, first FIVE commenter who state Karen’s last name correctly gets free RM 20 voucher! (you’re not qualified if u work for nuffnang hehehe)
Early last month boo of masak-masak called me up for a year end dinner with a few other food bloggers at Favola. As it turned out, it was a food review session at the new Italian outlet of Le Meridien KL. Thank goodness I had my newly acquired S90 handy with me.
the capable chef Antoine at Favola
The restaurant has a very cheerful mood with its spacious tables, comfortable chairs, and light music further compounded by a very jolly chef Antoine who loves to mingle with diners. Meena, Ciki, and Fatboybakes were among the bloggers who were there.
Like most proper Italian restaurants, we started off with some lovely breads. Other than the standard olive oil with balsamic vinegar, there were guacamole and the very flavorful potato truffle dips. I had to stop myself from eating more of these to save some stomach space, but if you’re on a shoe string budget…
cold (freddo) antipasti, bread with potato truffle dip, and crispy pizza dough
There’s a pretty good selection of antipasti available at Fivola. We had the sampler of five antipasti (RM 35) which had the following:
bresaola – shaved dried beef with rocket salad, figs, lemon and olive oil
bruschetta – cured salmon, portobello mushrooms
seafood salad – garlic, chili-olive oil, lemon juice and italian parsley
Of course, the descriptions and names were copied from the menu as there was no way I could remember all of them. I particularly like the beef as well as the octopus, they were tasty and had a nice texture to it too. This was sorta parellel to the old Chinese cold dish, I think.
warm (caldo) antipasti, Conchiglioni Marinara al Cartoccio
Warm antipasti came next, and we had these little curry puff look alike items that were made with pizza dough calledpanzerotti. They were filled with marinated mushroom, mozzarella and grilled bell pepper and makes perfect beer snacks.
We also had cod fritters, but my favorite has got to be the sardines. Unlike the canned version we’re familiar with, the sardine’s sauteed with onions, raisins, pine nuts, and bell pepper to a crispy texture. They were absolutely delicious.
For pasta, we had the conchiglioni marinara al cartoccio (RM 40), in laymen’s term – shell shaped pasta with seafood, extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and tomato sauce. I’m not a huge fan of conchiglioni, but this tasted pretty good.
They were quite a few main dishes to share among us. For a taste of luxury, we had the risotto con argosta (lobster risotto, RM 45) and lasagna al forno (wagyu cheek lasagna, RM 40) and both dishes didn’t disappoint the ingredients used. The lasagna was especially the yums, Garfield would have approved.
The two veal dishes – veal escalope (one pan seared, one coated with bread crumbs, RM 60) and veal osso bucco (RM 70). They were decent, but to be frank I’m not a huge fan of veal and would probably opt for something else (the lasagna for example) if I had to choose. I prefer the pan seared veal and could give a pass to the bread crumb preparation method though.
veal osso bucco, scallop with cauliflower, mussels with chicken, veal escalope “due modi”
Another two antipasti dishes we had (in full serving instead of sampler) were roasted scallops (RM 20) and fresh mussels (RM 20). The scallops came on a bed of cauliflower and truffles and were absolutely delightful. The mussels had minced chicken stuffing, garlic and tomato sauce. I am quite sure suan would have loved to have this, they were quire good too.
The roasted lamb shoulder (RM 50) was the other meat dish we had. I remember it to be quite rich but couldn’t really recall much otherwise. I think my stomach was already over stuffed at this point.
panna cotta, fruitti di miso, illy coffee inspired tiramisu
Then of course, there were desserts. Illy coffee inspired tiramisu (RM 20) was nice, and the fruitti di miso (ricotta cream and mixed red berries RM 20) gives a jolt to the senses after the heavy meal. However, the panna cotta (RM 20) had to be the recommended choice – almond custard cream, minestrone of fruit sugar veil and orange wafer might not mean anything to me, but it was very delightful. The contrasting tastes of custard with the berries and sugar was just perfect.
Meena, KY, and ciki; potent Grappa
To finish off the dinner, we ordered some grappa, basically grape based pomace brandy (or distilled wine) with alcohol content as high as 60%. These drinks cost anything from RM 20 (Grappa Limonico) to RM 50 (Alexandar Red Rose Grappa). The red rose grappa was quite good, but I can’t say I’d be able to justify the price for it though.
The Grappa Platinum (RM 40) was especially nasty and left a grimace to anyone who’d tasted it. Perhaps it was an acquired taste, I don’t know, and probably wouldn’t ever order this particular type of drinks anytime soon.
By the time we wrapped up, it was already 11pm. I think I still felt full when I woke up the next morning. It was definitely a nice session and Fivola would make a pretty good place if you’re looking for some authentic Italian food. The ambiance is good, the food did not disappoint, and the price is fair too.
Restaurant Chef Loong (龙师傅) is probably the second successful dessert place at the PJ food hotspot that is SS2. If memory serves me correct, this particular restaurant has been in operation for more than two years, and usually packed with customers at supper hours since day one.
their famous xiao long bao (小龙包)
As with most dessert places that caters for those “yum char” customers, this restaurant is separated into the indoor and outdoor sections. Smoking or air conditioning, take your pick. The interior decoration is simple yet tasteful, with some random Chinese calligraphies on the wall, and pretty comfortable seats.
Their pictorial menu is very simple to read, and you don’t even have to know mandarin, just point to what you would like to have to the servers will do. We ordered their claim of fame, the xiao long bao (小龙包, soup dumpling), lotus root pancake, and salad prawn just to satisfy the itching tongues at the wee hours.
salad prawn and lotus pancake, yummm
The xiao long bao here is still one of the bests I’ve tried, really juicy and packed with tasty meaty fillings. The skin is not too thick either. The lotus roots pancake is pretty crispy and sweet, just like how it should be. As for the salad prawn, you’ll love the crunchy skin and the big savory prawns. To make it more sinful, make use of the mayonnaises dippings. Don’t ask me if this combination is any good for your health though.
Chef Loong is situated at the same row with the Police Station
Together with 2 drinks (ginseng herbal tea and winter melon drinks), the bill came to RM 21.90 including a 5% service charge and 5% government tax. Not exactly the cheapest yum char session, but definitely worth the money.