Saturday, June 30, 2012

Breakfasts @ Charming 2 Hotel

It is no secret that every travel conquest eggs me on to try on different boutique hotels - quite like food, I get to experience the culture of the country first hand (especially when street food is too daunting to attempt) and in its most authentic form. Charming 2, ranked within the Top 5 of the country became the choice of accomodation because of its location and price. With a complimentary airport transfer thrown in, deal was sealed! Strangely or not, big names like Sofitel and Metropole barely made it to the tops...I reckon, in a developing country like Hanoi, paying big bucks unless it's for business is not that worth the while.

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Service is top notch, staff make the attempt to remember every of our names, provided spot on recommendations and we ended up exchanging facebook contacts!

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Clean and spacious room with a daily refill of fruits and flowers.

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Comfy beds!

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With compliments. Vietnamese Red is quite sharp to taste. 

The location of this is prime, located near Dong Xuan Market and in the ladder district - the only way I spotted my hotel from afar is through the ladders stacked against the wall!

Unlike the hotel I stayed in at Ho Chi Minh, their breakfasts are more skewed toward the tastes of foreigners than featuring their local delights. Breakfast is limited in range but filling and hearty.

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Salad and carb corner.

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Bed of greens and reds.

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Cereal

Only cornflakes and cocoa crips available, these were suffice for those needing a cereal boost.


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Yogurt

Their yogurt had a gelatinous texture, like a pudding infact. Vanilla flavoured yum!

There was a simple bread corner complete with a toaster.

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None of which really stood out, unfortunately.

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Toast, Baguette, Buns

Choice of jam, butter and cowhead cheese cubes to go with them. I usually had them toasted, lather on cheese and top off with either pate or ham for a DIY sandie. As much as Hanoi has French influence, I have long established the fact that their baguettes are nowhere near the French, more similar to our Curry Chicken Bread Bowl texture that we have or kopitiam bread at best, alot looser in bite and texture.

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Grilled sausage and cheese toasts

Judge these simpletons not, crazy delicious! The hardened toast gave it a nice crunch.

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French Toast

A tad oily but these tasted way better than their hard toasts. Their sliced bread tends to be hard to chew.

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Pancake with honey

Thick mini doughy pancakes which I was not too huge a fan of.

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Breaded chicken stuffed with carrot and spring onion

Mayo with this would have passed this off perfectly as a Japanese delight. Not oily at all and delicious, I lost count how many slices I took.

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Sausages and bacon

A daily staple, juicy sausage and fat strips of bacon. Their bacon is unlike those we have in Singapore though, could be the cut. 

Choice of Egg (Poached, Fried, Sunny Side Up, Boiled) 

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Overfried.



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The girls tried their best to understand our egg-lingo - props on that though not everytime it turned out right. My poached eggs turned out right once out of twice.

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Egg Omelette

Was all of a thick egg lacking in flavour.



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Fried Beef Noodles

Delicious one here! Indo mee stir fried with beef and vegetables with a dash of their famous fish sauce.

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A pho a day keeps the doctor at bay!

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Condiments for anything.

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Chicken.

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Beef.

Pho (Beef, Chicken, Tomato Pork)

These were made on demand daily and steaming bowls of this Vietnamese delight made their way to every table. Smooth rice noodles with a hearty broth and generous sprinkling of spring onions and sliced meat made this easy to love.

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Tomato Pork Bun (pronounced "boon") was slightly different from the usual pho, like meesua and the broth was heavier on the tomato flavouring than meat.

Garlic Yellow Rice

I spotted these on the street that were usually served with a pinch of garlic flakes, these rice grains were too hard and on the bland side.

Stir fried vegetables with Mushrooms

Very oriental this is, rice to go please?

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Fruit selection (Fruit cup, Mango, Watermelon, Apple, Dragonfruit)

I made a beeline for their sliced mangoes every morning. Sweet and ripe!

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Juices (Mango, Watermelon, Lemon, Orange)

Freshly squeezed without preservatives, mango juice took me by surprise with the sweet thick consistency.

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Vietnamese coffee

Fragrant caffeine fix! The vietnamese know how to do it so right.

Butter and Chocolate Cake

So dry and crumbly, I wonder if they made this using semolina flour rather than cake flour.

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Muffins

Too dry and we spotted these at a bakery two lanes away - outsourced I guess!

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Fried Doughstick

Their version of donuts dusted with sugar, these were a tad hard.

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The main grouse about this hotel is the lack of kitchen facilities at other hours apart from breakfast. A late night supper of Fried Rice with Chicken and Vegetables (VND 75,000). Too mushy and salty, ack!

Charming 2 Hotel

Friday, June 29, 2012

Icecream Chefs Revisited @ Ocean Apartments

icecream chefs

It has been quite a while since I patronized Icecream Chefs and that particular visit I had my sights and heart set on the usual of Kaya Lottee but it was not available! What a waste. Settled for the other flavours that I usually will not bat an eyelid at – always a hardcore yet mega diehard fan of that one flavour that nobody has come close to replicating as yet.

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Mango Peach Fruz

I thought this was pretty good for a fruit based icecream, creamy and absolutely fruity!

Oreos and Cream

Yet another that seemed creamier than the past, flavour was rich.

Creme Brulee

Haagan Dazs spoilt me on this one, ICC’s rendition is stuffed with graham crackers and nothing much like a crème brulee with caramelized sugared tops or creamy custard.

Icecream Chefs
Ocean Apartments

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Finding a laoban replacement

Replicas are the greatest form of flattery or one's way of celebrating the success of another - from accessories to apparel to even food. And for food, usually it is hard to even trace down to the origin or even the one who found fame over time. Who ever remembers the first bubble tea brand that caused all the insane following? Or the now defunct Rotiboy that once enjoyed its five seconds of fame. Now, it is soyabean pudding which Laoban made famous and has had several spinoffs.

Most would have known by now that soybean pudding does leave a slight waxy aftertaste and a tingling sensation on the tongue when consumed. I reckon it’s the chemicals at work that make it more addictive than normal tau huay. Some have identified it as calcined gypsum powder used in plastering walls. So this post has been risky, I ate at my own risk and lived to tell the tale (hopefully stay alive long enough!).

Competition heats up at Old Airport Road with numerous competitors wanting the same share of the same tub of pudding, likewise beyond Old Airport Road even. I wonder when this bubble will pop.

mr bean

Soyabean Pudding, $1.80
Mr Bean, Raffles Place MRT

A stickier form of beancurd, this sticks to the spoon, sticks to the rest of the pudding...consistency is queer. Dissolve it does into a thicker than usual soyabean semi-solid form. Stiffer than chawanmushi, heavier than laoban...there was a certain sweet aftertaste that I
Loads of tiny bubbles inside but strangely did not affect the texture of the pudding.

Far from a laoban but a different take on tau huay. This has since been discontinued and replaced with another version.

69 Beancurd
51 Old Airport Rd

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The least deserving of the lot in the category of soybean pudding despite being the cheapest and promising that no calcined gypsum powder is used. Massively watered down and light, this did not taste like soyabean pudding even with flavours like mango and almond. The texture was closer to almond jelly than pudding.

51
51 Old Airport Rd

51

Has to be the closest to Lao Ban’s together with Bean. Lao ban has taken the liberty to leaving the beancurd to ferment for the hardened layer whereas 51 is what Lao Ban used to be. Silken and soft, a tough fight here.

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Bean
Maxwell Market

bean

Sharing the second spot with 51, Bean is close. So close. Right down to the price match - $1.50 for original.

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Happy Boy Bean
51 Old Airport Rd #01-109

Texture was queer - thick, almost paint-like. The milk powder was too strong here, like a soyabean curd dessert over fermented and gone so wrong. Possibly the furthest from Laoban. Even with the current promotion of 1-for-1 ($2 each), bringing it to a dollar per tub, does not entice me further for seconds.

soyabean craze

Food Lingo
Albert Center Food Market

lingo story

Instead of going fruity, they have included Black sesame and Green Tea in their repertoire of flavours. Always play it safe with original ($1.50).

yet another

Seemed watered down with a powder milk aftertaste. Not the worst, neither the best. This mediocrity continues.

Tons have been opened and the trail continues!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Db Bistro Moderne Revisted @ Marina Bay Sands

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Revisit made to Db Bistro partly because the companion has yet to try their famous burgers and I was interested to check out their ala carte items which are apparently better than their burgers. Major irony here!

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The restaurant that started out three quarts filled and proceeded straight to fulhouse.

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Breadbasket to kick start the night. Blown away by the selection. Crusty baguette, amazing pretzel and rye bread. Personal favourite goes to the unassuming pretzel, smells remarkable and peeling open the pretzel was absolutely a surprise. Watching butter melt into the bread was therapeutic, savouring the buttered pieces was heaven on earth. Loved the texture and right amount of salt used. Doubles and triples I think!

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The mains took quite a while to arrive and I engaged in people and/or food watching. Their seafood platters and burgers are the most ordered items off the menu. As much as I would have loved to indulge in one with delicious looking crustaceans balanced delicately, at almost $150 for a platter on ice, I just did not make that call ultimately.

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The Original db Burger ($38)
Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs & Foie Gras Served on a Parmesan

A tad dry as expected though grilled to the specific doneness. Sent it back to the kitchen and true enough, it returned better greased and not so dry – a tradeoff for a more sinful meal. I am still not sold on the burger, regardless what the rest say. Perhaps it is really the price tag hovering with every bite. Maybe their cheaper burgers would not invite that much dissonance. That being said – bland parmesan bun with greasy beef-short rib-foiegras chunk and relish still does not make the cut for a $45 burger, taxes included.

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Once a disappointment, twice still a disappointment.


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New Orléans Casserole ($38)
Mussels, Clams, Pork Sausage, Bluefoot Mushrooms, White Wine, Garlic Fries

An iron pan filled with shell fish, deconstructed sausages and kayle, I was pleased as punch. Flavours well executed and nailed. The broth was too tasty to miss and not try to mop up with bread. Fresh mussels too, I am so sold on their seafood. Seafood platter does not seem such a distant dream afterall!

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Garlic fries that left me not much to shout about.

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Complimentary madeleines were kindly served up. I did not quite believe the reviews on the portion of this – twenty bite-sized madeleines fresh off the oven and sprinkled with icing sugar. Unbeatable buttery fragrance! Loved the zesty finish with every bite. Perfect dinner after eights. 

Service oscillates between attentive and laxed depending on server whose attention I caught. Blown away by seafood but floored by the burger, I need to choose my mains more wisely next time.

Yes, it is hilarious even that they do everything else but their burgers  better when all the attention has been placed on the burgers to date.

dB Bistro
Marina Bay Sands