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Seafood Village, Hyatt Regency Waikiki

7 Nov

Taken from “Ono O’ahu“:

… The rehearsal dinner took place in what is considered to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hawai’i.  That’s Seafood Village’s claim not mine.  Since I haven’t tried all the Chinese restaurants in O’ahu, I can’t confirm that, but the restaurant has a proof in the form of an ambiguous award.  Not the best proof. At any rate, the food is relatively better than other contemporary Chinese eateries we’ve eaten in.  Being Asian and having lived in New York, the Bay Area, and Seattle region, I’ve eaten at more Chinese restaurants than the average Joe.  Although, to be fair, it was a private party so maybe there was more care put into the food preparation. …

Seafood Village on Urbanspoon

Ono O’ahu

7 Nov

A month ago, on October 7, we left for Hawai’i where we stayed in the Big Island for four nights then left for O’ahu on the 11th. Now, here’s the finale of my ono Hawai’i two-part series. We had the fortune to stay with relatives while in the Big Island, but for our O’ahu trip, we stayed in Aqua Bamboo and Spa at Waikiki. We were in the heart of Waikiki action, only a couple of blocks from the beach and surrounded by tourist traps incognito as shops. We arrived in O’ahu around eight in the morning, and as most hotels go, check-in is not until early afternoon and in our case, 3:00 PM. There was no choice but to take our luggage with us as we went sight-seeing. We stopped by a Safeway for necessities such as water, another bottle of sunblock, bananas, and yakult. For those of you not in the know, yakult is a probiotic liquid yogurt. The drink is popular among Asians and it’s one that my sisters and I grew up with. Yakult is useful when traveling, especially with all the foods we’ve encountered, our gut flora could use some assistance. First in our itinerary is a drive around the island. By the time we were done sight-seeing on wheels, it was about time to check-in.

Because we didn’t stay with relatives, we found ourselves eating out daily, even though we did have dinner over at an aunt’s place, the packed left-overs we were given were only enough to tide us for about a day. But no mattter. O’ahu has plenty to offer in terms of sights and foods. Since it isn’t our first time visiting, we already had a few ideas of where to go and explore. Also, I have a secret weapon that won’t be a secret anymore after I reveal it. When we find ourselves drowning in all of the options of where to eat or feeling clueless, we check out Aku Eats. Aku is a local who has done his homework with the dining out and food scene of O’ahu. His site contains a wealth of information and definitely worth checking out than the egocentric chatter in Yelp. Now, now, don’t get me wrong, I like Yelp and I’ve used it many times, I just find Aku superior to Yelpers when it comes to discussing the food scene in O’ahu.

And so here goes a photographic journey of places that put a smile on our faces and/or made our tummies incredulously happy.
 
 
October 11, 2010
  
Grass Skirt Grill Restaurant: 66-214 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
Great place for lunch in North Shore! The restaurant known for its fish burgers can be found in Hale’iwa. Like many restaurants in Hawai’i, seafood is a serious business and the best places will boast that they only serve the freshest catch of the day, and Grass Skirt Grill serve fresh fish dishes. And they are true to their word. The Hubz ordered an ebi burger which we shared along with a beautiful salad called “Luau Salad” and two orders of fries. I don’t want to use this word to describe what I thought of the fries but I’m going to anyway… those fries are da bomb! That’s right! They are finger-lickin’-licious good. Just thinking about them is making my mouth water.

  

October 12, 2010

Mai Groceries: 1120 Maunakea St., #187, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
Chinatown Honolulu is fifteen blocks of grocery stores offering exotic and tropical produce, popular and mom-and-pop Asian restaurants, and stores selling knick-knacks from the usual to the bizarre. While driving around looking for parking, we spotted a couple of stores that caught our attention. That first store was Mai. At Mai’s we found bright and colorful tropical fruits and had the best bubble drink smoothie ever. Since the Hubz and I originally hail from California and quite familiar with the Bay Area, bubble drinks are a well-known warm (even cold) weather potion for us. So when I say it’s the best bubble drink smoothie ever it is. The bubble smoothie we ordered was a blend of fresh lychee and mango. No powdered stuff for the store. The result was not suffocatingly sweet like others I’ve had before (no particular San Jose and Seattle cafés will be named) and the fruit flavors are well-balanced. A refreshing drink, perfect for 80degF weather!

 

Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery: 1027 Maunakea Street Honolulu, HI 96817
And this is store number two. It was the moon cake promotion that made me cooed, “Oooh, moon cakes.” While we were at Mai’s, we met Darrell, a fellow Californian on a business trip in Hawaii and who has been using his downtime exploring the various eats. We got to chatting with him and discovered that he has kept tracked of the many eateries he has patronized. A friendly guy, he shared info on the best eateries for saimin, chili loco moco, and sweets. For sweets, he recommended Sing Cheong Yuan Bakery. After the recommendation, how could we pass up the bakery. Aside from moon cakes, they had baked and steamed manapuas, cookies, and tons of dried fruits. We were there for the moon cakes but we left with manapuas, moon cakes, and a bag of coconut macadamia brittle. Scrumptious!


Triple One Chinese, Singaporean, & Malaysian Food: Maunakea Marketplace, 1120 Maunakea St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96817
If it weren’t for the menacing looking statues manning the entrance of Maunakea Marketplace, we wouldn’t have explored it. And we’re glad we did. Inside the marketplace is a food court lined with stalls where vendors of various Asian descents promote their nation’s cuisine. I consider the food stalls gems in the rough. And one particular gem that we’re glad to have discovered is the Triple One Chinese food stall that offers humble but satisfying dishes. The Hubz and I both ordered a meat and vegetable noodle dish. Out-of-this-world tasty.

Kincaid’s Fish, Chop & Steak House: 1050 Ala Moana Blvd #2100, Honolulu, HI 96814
Arthur wanted a simple pub restaurant to dine in; instead he got a chic restaurant tucked in the corner of Ward Centers in Honolulu. The only complaint about the place was that it was not easy to find. Funny, really, since they used their GPS devices… In any case, we all eventually found it and we all were impressed by the fancy delivery of pupus and ordinary pub foods. Take a look at the ahi poke garnished with dill and sour cream, served with gherkins on the side. Great food but parsimonious serving sizes.

  
October 13, 2010

Zippy’s Restaurants: 666 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu 96817
Although the Hubz has been to the island before, he has never been to a Zippy’s. To fill that void in his previous aloha experience, I gave in and went to one. I was unfavorable at first because the Zippy’s I’ve been to in my previous visits were their fast-food venues and I remember the food being greasy. But the Zippy’s we went to at Nimitz felt like a Hawaiian Red Robin’s. Ryan got the chili loco moco and I got what I thought was the best marriage in soup heaven…wun tun min! It’s wonton soup and saimin with goodies galore. We also got a side of teri beef that was melt-in-your-mouth good. So for the first time, I look at Zippy’s with hungry eyes.  


Yard House: 226 Lewers St., Honolulu, HI 96815
Someone just can’t get enough of pub food. Second evening hanging out with Arthur & Co. and we found ourselves in a pub that is also popular in LA… where Arthur hails. We were told that the Yard House was chosen not so much for the food but for its “largest selection of draft beer”. Fine. But I was really hungry at the time and I needed some form of sugar in my bloodstream. It was a long wait. So what did I end up getting? A macadamia and lilikoi (passion fruit) cheese cake. Sweet? Yes, very. But good. The service was excellent. We were a party of eleven and I noticed similar large-sized groups. Thumbs up to the staff.
 

 

October 14, 2010

  

 L & L Hawaiian Barbecue: 55-510 Kamehameha Hwy., Laie, HI 96762
L & L has franchises in California, Washington State, and a few other mainland states, but for some reason I have not been to one. Well curious little me was a bit timid about trying but the Hubz easily persuaded me. So we did go to one and oh my goddess! After a couple of hours of ocean swimming, the lunch plates we got were devoured in minutes. There’s nothing like eating al fresco good fried food, just a few feet from the ocean.

Seafood Village, Hyatt Regency Waikiki: 2424 Kalakaua Avenue, Suite 103, Honolulu HI 96815
The rehearsal dinner took place in what is considered to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in Hawai’i. That’s Seafood Village’s claim not mine since I haven’t tried all the Chinese restaurants in O’ahu to be able to confirm that, but the restaurant has a proof in the form of an ambiguous award. Not the best proof. At any rate, the food is relatively better than other contemporary Chinese eateries we’ve eaten at. Being Asian and having lived in New York, the Bay Area, and Seattle region, I’ve eaten at more Chinese restaurants than the average joe’s. Although, to be fair, it was a private party so maybe there was more care put into the food preparation.

  

October 15, 2010

Ryoko and Arthur’s beautiful wedding at Ko’olina Resort. Great food, first-class scenery, and fabulous company. Simply said, it was a wonderful event. Congratulations to the newlyweds!

  

October 16, 2010

Sorabol Korean Restaurant: 805 Keeaumoku St, Honolulu, HI 96814
The young ones wanted to hang out and continue the festivities after the wedding so a troupe consisting of the bride and groom and their friends and family went to Sorabol. A restaurant discovered by the groom’s friends a couple of nights before when they hunted for a late-night venue. What they found is a 24-hour restaurant that serves unbelievably good Korean dishes. The restaurant has been awarded with Honolulu Magazine’s Hale Aina Gold Award three years in a row starting 2007. We arrived at our hotel about 4AM feeling stuffed but wanting more.

Ted’s Bakery: 59-024 Kamehameha Highway, Sunset Beach, Hawaii 96712
We wanted malasadas. An aunt who lives in Honolulu recommended Leonard’s but since we were going to be in North Shore, we wanted to try a bakery there. Thanks to the internets, the Hubz found Ted’s Bakery. We arrived there just after lunch time and their bread trays were practically empty. When I asked for malasadas, the lovely lady at the register apologized because they were out. I sniffed and a tear ran down my cheek. But they had pies and cakes so I smiled again. The Hubz can’t pass coconut so he got a chocolate haupia cream pie while I got a pineapple mac nut cheese cake. Yum, yum.

Macky’s Shrimp Truck: 66-632 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
I’ve heard of the shrimp truck “wars” going on in North Shore, but since we didn’t make the time to try both Giovanni’s and Macky’s, we went to Macky’s. The name was mentioned a lot, primarily by Arthur, so of course we went for that. I’ll describe the experience with this one made up word that I’ve used once before: finger-lickin’-‘licious.

Aoki’s Shave Ice: 66-117 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, HI. 96712
After our shrimp fest, Arthur & Ryoko, Ryohei & Stacy, and Ryan & I drove south to get shave ice. The newlyweds and I patronized Aoki’s while the other half of our company stood in line at Matsumoto’s. Verdict for the best shave ice in the North Shore… Aoki’s and Matsumoto. It’s a tie for me. What I like about Aoki’s is that the line is shorter. As for taste, there wasn’t any obvious difference with the syrups both shave ice houses used.


 
Matsumoto Shave Ice: 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii 96712
An old favorite. But this time around I went to Aoki’s instead while Hubz went to Matsumoto. We got similar flavors of shave ice so we can test and compare and as my verdict goes, they’re both equally good. So let’s put an end to these food wars. Make food not war!

  

October 17, 2010

The night before, we spent time with my O’ahu relatives at an aunt’s house in Waipahu. The aunties prepared a dinner of Filipino cuisines with a local touch. There were a lot of leftovers and so my great aunt packed us what she thought of enough food to last us for the rest of our stay, but given our appetite it was only enough to last us for two breakfasts and a lunch. By the by, we were thankful for the home-cooked meals and appreciated their warm hospitality and thought of putting a dinner together for us.

Leonard’s Bakery: 933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI
Another place that receives a lot of hype. Does Leonard live up to the hype? Yes. Fried greasy dough balls sweetened with sugar and filled with flavored cream. According to locals, Leonard’s is the place to go for malasadas. For me though, nothing beats the malasadas from Tex Drive In at Honokaa in the Big Island. Sorry Leonard’s but my heart has already been won over. But the Hubz’ is in love with their haupia-filled donuts. So much that we stopped by the bakery again before driving to the airport on our last day.

Sansei Seafood & Steak House: Waikiki Beach Marriot Resort and Spa, 2552 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Lesson 1: Choose where to eat in advance, that way, your stomach is not the one doing the thinking. Lesson 2: Avoid hotel restaurants. You can get the same dishes for less than the inflated price of what hotel restaurants offer. Lesson 3: Eat at Sansei Seafood & Steak House if you really must.

To sum up the experience, the service is friendly and fast, and the food is good, but it is your typical Japanese and local fare, which means that we could have had the same dishes we ordered in Sansei at other eateries in the island and find them priced lower.

 

October 18, 2010

Kona Brewing Co. and Brew Pub: 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy Bldg I, Honolulu, HI
After a day of surfing and snorkeling, Kona Brew Pub was the place to we chose to kick back and get grub. It also helped that I had a coupon for a free pupu platter with a purchase of a beer sampler. The restaurant serves typical pub fare but with an island twist. The Hubz ordered a shrimp and cheese sandwich while I chose a chicken bbq sandwich. The sandwiches hit the spot but the side dishes of fresh kettle chips and papaya slaw are excellent. I’m a big fan of potato chips (ever tried potato chips and champagne, that’s a story for another day…) and so we ended up getting another order of it.

Costco Hawai’i: 333 Keahole St Bldg A, Honolulu, HI
When we travel and discover that the state or country we’re in happen to have a Costco, we usually make a trip there for kicks. Since Costco carries local goods, it’s a good indicator of what is popular with the locals. Like when we were in England, that pang of “it’s greener on the other side” hit us. Check this out: mochi by the platter, kalua pork by the tub, and oysters by the dozens. And that’s not all, think macadamia nut chocolates, Portuguese sausages, and other local favorites. Harrrumph. Yes, I’m jealous.

  

October 19, 2010

And so we say aloha oe to the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, and as the song goes, “until we meet again…”

 

A Lovely Matrimony

10 May
On the 10th of April, 2010, in Pacific Grove, California, Ryan and I were joined in lovely matrimony.   As with any fête, provisions and libation are entailed.  With today being our first month anniversary,  to commemorate our memorable day, I’m showing off the scrumptious fare served during our celebration made possible by our caterer, Paradise Catering.  The photos, of course, were thanks to our energetic photographer, Alex, and various family members and friends.

Alas, my gown fitted so perfectly well that my appetite was suppressed.  I was so looking forward to the food but could not (as much as I wanted to!) completely consume my yummy dinner of roast chicken with ginger-apricot chutney accompanied by a medley of grilled vegetables.  Luckily, I did get to fully enjoy the hors d’oeuvres served during cocktails – the crabcakes and vegan rainbow rolls hit the spot!  In retrospect, I’m glad my gown prevented a potential pig-out fest.

As for the cake…we went with our favorite…carrot cake!  There were actually three different types, with the main cake being a carrot cake; the two smaller cakes were raspberry-lemon and the cupcakes were marble (chocolate and vanilla).  All were iced with buttercream icing, the best kind.  The cakes were made by Cloren, owner of Peninsula Pastries, whose pattiserie my family has been patronizing for nearly a decade – and for a good reason too as the pastries she and her staff create are simply divine. 

Our wedding was remarkable.  Many of our families and friends were such party animals that if we could do it all over again, we would make it a longer celebration.  Party on ’til the break of dawn!

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Note: Most of the photos were taken by our photographer, Alex Greenburg, the rest are from families and friends (first names are noted in the caption).

Beyond Fish and Chips – part II

29 Sep

England – September 11 to 17

Our food adventure in England continues…

London – Wimbledon – Café Renshaw – September 11


For those of you who’ve seen the Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany romantic-comedy, this might look familiar…


If you thought of “Wimbledon,” then you thought correctly. Tee-hee. It was rather exciting seeing and being in Wimbledon. Much of the park was closed off but the shop and café along with their surrounding areas (within distance from the courts) remained open.


My pre-dinner (not exactly afternoon tea) consisted of Pea soup with bread.


Ryan’s BLT

London – Wandsworth – The Brewers Inn – September 11


After our excursion to Wimbledon Park and doing our laundry, we were exhausted and famished. We walked around the town to examine our options. The first pub we entered only served drinks but the helpful bartender pointed us to the direction of the Young’s brewery restaurant. So off we went and came upon The Brewers Inn. We figured this restaurant must be it.


It wouldn’t be until much later of our trip that we’ll figure out that we got the wrong restaurant. While driving around town, we discovered the official Young’s brewery restaurant (meaning not just a pub/restaurant that serves the local brew), which was what the bartender recommended. If only we walked a couple of blocks more…


Ryan’s first drink of the night. Mine was sparkling water (I asked for tap water but apparently they don’t serve it).


The appetizer: garlic bread. Praise our intuition that we decided to order an appetizer.


It looks good doesn’t it? But in reality, it wasn’t. My eyes were fooled! My tastebuds overruled what my eyes communicated. The presentation really belied the fresh-from-the-freezer chips, fresh-from-the-freezer peas, and the disappointing fish. Why “disappointing”? The fish was tasteless and the batter was pasty. And to add insult, they were out of malt vinegar.


And Ryan’s burger order looks… looks…


Looks dry. Well, because it is dry. And there goes those bloody fresh-from-the-freezer chips again. What’s unacceptable is that we’ve had great meals in pubs at Central London that cost us the same amount. The meal at The Brewers Inn was sub-par compared to meals we’ve had in other pubs across the country.


You might question what this bowl of chips is doing. More chips? But why? Well, my friend, we were deceived. The menu wasn’t explicit with the descriptions for the dishes so Ryan assumed that the burger didn’t come with chips so he asked for a side-order of it. A £2.50, or roughly $5 side-order of a small bowl of fresh from the freezer chips… which we hardly touched.


My unsatisfactory meal was washed down with a satisfactory drink.


Another satisfactory drink. For us, the only good thing about The Brewers Inn were the drinks.

Reading – Thames Valley Park – Microsoft Campus – September 12


After last night’s meal, the cooks/chefs of Microsoft Reading’s cafeterias are the real heroes.


The Microsoft Reading campus is comprised of 5 attached buildings with each building housing a café and/or cafeteria. We were in building 4’s cafeteria (or so my memory leads me to believe).
Speaking of Microsoft food, a guy named Christian Buckley had a simple dream of visiting (and I presume eating in) all of Microsoft Redmond’s cafeteria, and that dream has taken him abroad as well, visiting and eating in various Microsoft cafeterias. And to borrow a page (and run with it) from Christian B., perhaps, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and the whole Brangelina crew will one day explore Microsoft’s many campus cafeterias also. Perhaps even Madonna, Paris Hilton (never thought I’d ever mention her in relation to food, I wonder if what she eats), Kiera Knightley, David Beckham, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Barack Obama, Al Gore, Prince Charles, the Clintons, the bright minds behind Rock Band and Rock Band 2, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Gates… oh all right, I’m done.
Ahem, ahem. As you can plainly see in the photo Ryan’s order consisted of hotdog and chips. The pie that you see on his tray is our shared dessert.


Mmmm, my lunch consisted of a very tender roasted curried chicken, roasted vegetables, and onion rings. A small but very satisfying meal.


Oooh, and here’s our dessert, a lovely piece of blackcurrant cream pie. I’m salivating just remembering how scrumptious it was.

Reading – Green Park – CostCo – September 12


A CostCo in the UK?! Why, yes indeed! Something I inadvertently stumbled upon while reading up on Reading in wikipedia.


Same look, different menu.


Why look who tried and demolished a CostCo UK fruit sundae! (Ryan’s pizza slice not pictured) We were informed that the ingredients used were all British-based food products.


One of the many things we found in CostCo UK that we probably we’ll never see in Costco US.


Duck! They’ve got duck in their meat section!!! I was quite green with envy when we saw this.


Sure, Costco US might have this but seeing that UK is just a hop, skip, and jump away from the Mediterranean… well, think about it.


My favorite Cadbury chocolate!


Why yes, it’s a giant bag of tea bags!


Here’s another. It’s the UK after all.


As their slogan goes, “You either love it or hate it,” so here’s a large tub of Marmite for those who love it.


I aim to try anything once, provided that I’m not convinced or have a deep-sated belief that it could harm me (I find that a necessary clause). I’ve never had a pickled egg but I’m interested in trying it. My first introduction to pickled egg was thanks to Homer Simpson. I don’t recall which episode it was when a depressed Homer gorged on pickled eggs while sharing his sorrow with Moe.


A selection of European cheeses (sigh)

Reading – Caversham – The Griffin – September 12


Refresing!


Our appetizing appetizer


A smashing Sausage and mash for Ryan


They were out of bacon-wrapped, Camembert-stuffed chicken breast so I had to settle for a roasted chicken and pasta dish. What I learned: when in a pub, be a traditionalist and order pub food. Though my dinner wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything to sing home about.


Surprisingly, we had no room for dessert, but Ryan ordered coffee to stave off a creeping sleepiness.

London – The Riverside – Strada – September 13


This busker is one of the many living statues who performed at the River Thames Festival.


View of outside the restaurant


Ryan had pizza rustica (first half) and I had pizza cotto (Charlotte’s, Dennis’, and their kids’ lunch, not pictured)

London – Islington – The Crown – September 13


Nice light trails


Ahhhh, a nice cold bottle of cider


Ryan can’t get enough of sausage and mash so he ordered it again.


I didn’t want anything too heavy so I ordered a duck liver pate with chutney. (Charlotte’s and Dennis’ dinner not pictured)

London – Wandsworth – M & S Simply Food – September 14


We missed breakfast so we went to a nearby Marks & Spencer for food. We didn’t want anything heavy since we had dinner plans with Shajeda, my friend from grad school and a fantastic cook.

London – Redbridge – chez Shajeda and family – September 14


Dates for our appetizer


A dinner of traditional Bangladeshi dishes prepared by Shajeda with help from her lovely daughters and cousin.


Mmm, rice. No Asian meal is complete without rice or noodles.


A cool cucumber, carrot, and tomato salad


I’m in love with Shajeda’s lentil soup.


Ooh, these fritters are incredibly tasty. Wrapped within the squash leaves is ground fish with spices, the parcel is then battered and fried. Oh it was sooo good!


According to Shajeda, she let the chicken simmer for about 5 hours. The result is a succulent and spicy chicken dish.

London – Wandsworth – Holiday Inn Express – September 15


Complimentary continental breakfast at our hotel

Cambridge -Cambridgeshire – Café Rouge – September 15


This joint is just lovely. It has a warm atmosphere and if I didn’t know I was in Cambridge, I’d have thought I was in Paris.


Oh I cleaned up this Moules Provencale. The mussels were succulent and the sauce was delectable. We got a side-order of bread just to get every last bit of the tomato and herb sauce.


Ryan’s tasty Terrine de poulet (chicken liver pate)


My plate of Filet de Colin au Ratatoulie


Ryan’s plate of Omelette aux champignons

Cambridge – Cambridgeshire – The Mitre – September 15


Food was decent (at least for us at the night we were there; it appears that there are bad reviews for The Mitre) but the service was slow which there wasn’t any excuse for since the place wasn’t packed.


Cider again for me (Ryan opted not to drink to be extra alert since he’s driving)


Ryan’s Steak ale pie


My Duck confit and vegetables

London – Wandsworth – Holiday Inn Express – September 16


Ryan has been eating the Coco Pops because of the surprisingly uncomplicated list of ingredients (examine next photo).


Buttered toasts, croissant, fruits, and cheeses to start my day.

London – Chingford – CostCo – September 16


We found out at CostCo-Reading that the system won’t allow them to retrieve US member information so without a card or member information, we weren’t allowed to make any purchases save for food. Ryan left his card at home but I had mine with me (though I left it in the hotel the first time) so we decided to check out a CostCo-London.


A jacket potato with tuna salad


A pizza slice (as if the photo doesn’t make that clear enough)

London – Wandsworth – Sainsbury’s – September 16


We weren’t totally hungry, just peckish, and we didn’t feel like doing a sit-down so we picked up snacks in Sainsbury’s, located at a shopping centre not far from our hotel.


Our last dinner of tikka chicken bites, satay chicken, sunflower crispbread, and canned sardines must seem anticlimactic, but in truth we were a bit tired of eating out, felt too lazy at the time to hunt for a place to eat in, weren’t all that hungry except for a homecooked meal. The dinner at Charlotte’s and Dennis’, and at Shajeda’s were delightful and welcomed breaks.
We left on September 17 with our last meal being our hotel’s complimentary breakfast, we had the camera but sans memory card. Ooops. Overall, it was a memorable trip and we definitely plan on crossing the pond again for more good British eats.

Beyond Fish and Chips

24 Sep

England – September 4 to 10

On 3rd September, Ryan and I crossed the pond for a 2-week visit in the Motherland (America’s Mum, that is; not the true Motherland where Homo sapiens originated). It was, I must say, a gastronomic experience.

“But oh ho, Michelle!” Says those who know me. “But you have a prob with British cuisine.”

Ah yes, that is was true.

During my academic stay in Central London a couple of years ago, my mass emails to family and friends were packed with criticisms of English food. But I should clarify that I stayed at a catered hall—dorm food, as many of us can attest to, is infamous for destroying appetites. Mine wasn’t spared. Poor imitations of international cuisine were served left and right! I mean, who uses spaghetti noodles for chow mein?! I was hungry for good food! Therefore, my complaints were inevitable and unavoidable. And well justified.

My hall food experience aside, England arguably offers a spectacular array of international food. London especially. Being a multicultural hub, when it comes to cuisine, the city has a plethora of restaurants featuring cuisines from around the globe. Want to go around the world in 3 meals? London is your answer.

London – Paddington – Pride of Paddington – September 4


Pub on the same block of my parents’ lodging and two blocks from Kat’s hall (Lillian Penson).


Kat’s and my drinks (the light ales flanking the water). They were nice and refreshing!


Window by our table


Mmmm, Bangers and Mash, which according to Kat is the pride of Pride of Paddington. (Not pictured: Kat’s, Mom’s, Dad’s, and Ryan’s dishes)

London – University College London – September 5


Oooh, glasses and glasses of Pimm’s Cup served during my college’s graduation luncheon along with champagne (not pictured). Also available were soft drinks (not pictured) for those who preferred a non-alcoholic drink. There were hors d’oeuvres galore but we got too engrossed with munching away so taking photos took a back seat.

London – Queensway – Little Persia – September 5


Ryan’s drink


What was left of my Chicken Kebab and Rice

London – Edgeware Road – Al Arez – September 6


One of Kat’s fave joints. She learned about the restaurant when she attended a friend’s birthday party that was held there.


My drink: a concoction of date, rose water, and other lovely ingredients that I can’t recall.


Mom’s Melon Shake. Mom makes a similar drink using cantaloupe.


Vegetable soup for Michelle’s soul. Soup is my comfort food.


The toppings (reminds me of pita chips) for Dad’s Chicken soup and my Vegetable soup.


Pickled goods! Olives and pepperoncini.


This sausage and tomato dish that I forgot what is called in Lebanese (but Kat knows for sure) is soooo tasty!


Ah, but this green beans dish was the dish I favored.


The spread


The spread again but with the grilled meats platter (far right) included.


It gets better… a complimentary dessert, Baklawa.

London – Russell Square – chez Carlotte, Dennis, and kids – September 6


Ryan’s drink. Mine, not pictured.


South African jerky. This is nothing like the jerky we know in the States. It wasn’t hard and dry. In fact, it was moist and succulent.


Charlotte’s baked mushroom. Cheesy and yummy!


Due to uncooperative weather, we had an indoor picnic. Check out these South African links. Being a former lacto-ovotarian (I couldn’t give up dairy and egg products), I must admit that when I’m vis-a-vis meaty eats like the ones in the photo, it makes me glad that I decided to convert back to an omnivorous existence.


Get up close and personal with the South African links (I forgot what they’re called).


The picnic spread prepared by our Hostess. Charlotte made the potato salad and caprese salad. Excellent side dishes!


The condiments that Ryan and I couldn’t get enough of.


Cornish ice cream and brownies- an unbeatable combination

London – Queensway – Bella Italia – September 7


Piatto rustico and Gamberi alio


Piatto rustico: prosciutto, salame, mozarella, olives, artichokes, toasted bread


Close up of piatto rustico


Close up of the prosciutto


Our dolce: mixed gelati


Ryan’s sambucca with coffee beans

London – Notting Hill – Leisure Inn – September 8


Complimentary breakfast in our hotel


It’s definitely a British egg. The UK stamp says it all.


Hello yummy sunshine!

London – Queensway – Waffle House – September 8


Free wi-fi here! With purchase of drinks and/or food. Don’t you just like conditionals.

London – Hyde Park (sandwiches from Waffle House)


Ryan’s sandwich: ciabatta, bacon, lettuce, tomato


Still Ryan’s sandwich


My sandwich: a BLT minus the L, so I suppose it’s just a BT sandwich then.

London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 8


There was a bit of confusion in the bar and kitchen on the night we dined at The Monkey Puzzle due to a new bartender and a relief cook. Service moved slow but the food was worth the wait. The Proprietor was rather apologetic for the slow service so all our drinks were on the house. Needless to say, we were nonplussed. Or puzzled at The Monkey Puzzle as it were. It’s such a rare experience to receive such gesture that we were thrown by the generosity. What the hey, drinks on the house is nothing to complain about.


Ryan’s drink


My drink. My first and hopefully my last pibwasser.


Fish and Chips with mushy peas for Ryan and Cheese sandwich and chips with homemade chutney for me.


Dessert was Belgian chocolate waffles topped with Cornish ice cream

London – Queensway – Hung Tao Noodle Restaurant – September 9


Notice that “air conditioned” sign on the awning. That’s because most establishments in London aren’t air conditioned.


Oh blessed soup. That was too salty for my taste so Ryan surreptitiously added tea to it. My Hero made it better.

London – Russell Square – Jacques Wine Bar – September 9


My friends from Ifor Evans Hall (Camden), Candy (from Hong Kong), Elena (from Greece), and Sree (who’s working in our alma mater, University College London but soon will be moving to Cambridge for his PhD, how exciting!) hung out at Jacques for coffee, etc, and to reminisce good times. Ryan joined our small company. Candy, Elena, and I returned to the city for our respective graduation ceremonies; each of the colleges had different dates. Unfortunately, not all our mates could make it for the graduation.


While my friends had coffee, I had an afternoon snack of tuna pate with baguette and salad.


Ryan had a pecan pie with a block of ice cream.

London – Queensway – Kiasu – September 9

Our dessert was chendol which is iced coconut milk with red beans, creamed corn, and grass jelly, and topped with palm sugar.


“Kiasu” means “afraid to lose” in Chinese Hokkien dialect.


Our first drink of the night. (Tsingtao Beer, not pictured)


Beef rendang for Ryan. It’s beef chunks in a spicy (made dark by the beef) coconut gravy. See the cilantro? I removed it from Ryan’s dish and placed it in mine because he isn’t fond of the herb.


Nonya laksa for me. It’s white rice noodles in spicy (and light) coconut gravy.

London – Paddington – Bonne Bouch – September 10


After Ryan’s visit (long story) at the E.R. of St. Mary’s Hospital (according to Kat is the hospital where Prince William was delivered), a treat was called for. Thankfully, on the same block where the hospital is located is a charming pattisserie.




Ryan’s Chocolate espresso cake


My Tutti-frutti cake

London – Paddington – The Monkey Puzzle – September 10


We couldn’t leave Central London (the next day, we left for Wandsworth which is at South End) without a second visit of our favorite London pub. I had to say goodbye to the little guy (see photo) who never tires of monkeying about.



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First round


Ryan’s Burger with chips


My Gammon and egg with chips


Second round


We just couldn’t leave without trying their Sausage and mash. And we’re glad we still had room for it.


After all the meat dishes, I needed some roughage.

Stay tuned for part II of “Beyond Fish and Chips”…