Month: September 2009

Great Teochew porridge

I have at least a half dozen friends that will kill me for writing this post. But I figured that it was high time that I shared with local readers a place that I’ve been enjoying eating at for the last year and a half. Not that this little eatery is only a year and a half old, just that I only discovered it some eighteen months ago. From what I can tell, it has actually been around for many, many years.

You’ll also have to forgive me because I don’t really know if this little slice of food heaven has any other name than two simple words… Teochew Porridge. Which should immediately tell you what kind of place it is. For the uninitiated, Teochew porridge describes a full meal made up of many cooked items served with a Teochew style rice porridge–which is more watery as well as less smooth than the Cantonese version. Typical dishes will include braised duck, steamed pomfret, hard-boiled salted duck eggs and belly pork braised in soya sauce. Diners will usually have several small plates of different delectable dishes with their porridge.

Kyoto Guide 2009

mint jelly at kikunoi

While I do have a few more posts to come from my recent trip to Western Australia, I thought I’d switch continents and post about an even more recent trip to Kyoto, Japan. Over the past few years, Japan has become S’s and my favourite holiday destination. We love the obsessiveness and passion that pervades the country’s food culture. We love the devotion to seasonal produce, hand-crafted ingredients, and the rituals that surround eating well. We also love the beautiful products that the Japanese love to serve food and drinks in. These range from imperfect pieces of mismatched ceramics to vintage Baccarat glasses. We love the whole aesthetic that surrounds the ever (slowly) evolving culinary scene there.

I’ve been to Kyoto before. Once as a backpacker the summer before my freshman year in unviversity, and last year on a work trip. The first time I spent a few days visiting primarily temples and cultural sites. Neither my palate nor my pocketbook was developed enough to really explore the city’s gustatory offerings. Last year, I visited for an overnighter. And while I ate well, checked out a few shops and discovered an awesome cake shop, I was in town for less than 24 hours–which meant that I really didn’t see the place. Before this trip, S had never been to Kyoto, which was fabulous. Fabulous because I love watching her discover great things, be they wonderful cities we can get lost in together, books that I love, seminal music by great bands, or movies that have changed the world. Suffice it to say, we had a wonderful time. I had put quite a bit of thought into where we should eat and what shops/places we would visit. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a lot of great travel literature on Kyoto in English–at least the kind of stuff that I was looking for. There are pages upon pages about the temples and castles in and around Kyoto, but almost nothing (in English) on the city’s best restaurants, coolest shops, and other noteworthy culinary artisans. Fortunately, the concierge at the surprisingly sexy Hyatt Regency was very helpful. In addition, S and I picked up a few “souvenir” books and some city magazines. And while these were all in Japanese, they had great pictures and good maps, so I was able to work out a pretty good itinerary of what looked like some great places to visit. The below list is of the places we especially liked. (As always, cultural highlights are left out–simply because, well, there are many better sources for these, and that’s not what you or my other readers come here for.) For all the restaurants, you should ask your concierge to book for you and to print out maps and directions.

The Wine & Truffle Company

The highlight of our recent trip down under was a visit to The Wine & Truffle Company in Manjimup. Manjimup is approximately 4 hours (by car) south of Perth. And while that’s a bit further than most visitors would usually venture, a trip to this part of WA is well worth it.

Over the past few years, S and I have been really impressed with the quality of the truffles coming from this young but successful Australian truffery (and winery). Top chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda and Thomas Keller order truffles from them, so you know the quality is top-notch. And since the Australian seasons are the opposite of those in the Northern hemisphere, this means chefs working in America and Europe can now offer their guests what would normally be a Fall and Winter delicacy during their Spring and Summer.

Crab Fat Linguine (guest post)

I know I’ve been really delinquent with posting. I still have my truffle hunt to write about, plus some other recommendations from my recent trip to Perth. And I’ve just come back from Kyoto, so expect a Kyoto Guide in the coming month. But, to keep you entertained for now, I have begged a friend to step in with a guest post. Amazingly, this awesome hottie who usually charges quite a bit for her words has generously agreed to lend a hand. Originally from New York, Amy Ma is a trained chef and food writer based in Hong Kong (and a fellow college alumn–go baby blue!). She is a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and Wall Street Journal (Weekend Asia). If you’re looking for a little less food and a little more Amy, check out her weekly HK Magzine column, where she muses on the underbelly of HK’s culinary world: Oh, and if you ever meet her, ask her about the “thong story”. Made me laugh until it hurt.

An Ode to Crab Fat
by Amy Ma

A lot of things don’t make it onto the official Chubby Hubby blog. Like the fact that he was kind enough to offer me a bottle of crab fat he picked up on his recent Manila trip. And that I was rude enough to accept, and make him send a care package all the way to Hong Kong.

Called aligue or taba ng talangka (in Tagalog), crab “fat” is really crab roe, or the coral-colored blubbery goodness you scoop out from underneath the shell and in between the body cavity of your crustacean friend. The Shanghainese have a similar product rendered out of the hairy crab, but it’s not to be confused with the Japanese kani miso or crab “brain” – really just crab guts – a grayish, liver-tasting paste from the Hokkaido crab. Not my favorite.