Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Co Do - Melbourne

Finding Vietnamese Goodness on Foot
Sometimes we just luck out.  We trammed our way over to Richmond, a suburb NE of Melbourne a few clicks, known for being the cross hairs of the Viet community.  We employed an old-fashioned analog technique called "footing it" which is simple and effective - walk down the main drag and peek in restaurant windows until you find a full one (in this case, full of Vietnamese.)  This is how we found ourselves in Co Do and Dodo in front of a plate of Cơm tấm, otherwise known as "broken rice."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fish and Chippers - Melbourne

Wasn't in the Cards
We set off from our hotel to Fish and Chippers expecting a short tram ride to a tasty fish and chips.  We should've known better.  We got on the wrong tram, then switched to a wronger one.  One of those typical couple arguments broke out where I, the man, was determined to go my way and Dodo, the woman, wanted to interrogate my thinking. When we got off the second tram we were standing next to a rental bike stand and decided to ride there.  A friendly Melbournian helped us figure out the system and we ignored the large signs warning that it was against the law to ride bikes without a helmet.  Dodo pedaled like a turtle, doubtful of the route or in protest, perhaps.  When we dead-ended at a busy street and had to push our bikes across, I thought she was going to kill me.  Save me, Fish and Chippers, save me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Queen Victoria Market - Melbourne

Breakfast of Champions
Queen Victoria Market is "the" market in Melbourne.  It's a combination flea market, butchers, bakers and food court that you're as likely to find boomerangs for sale as you are "Moreton Bay Bugs."  Those are the fellows in the middle to the right of the tiger prawns.  I don't think anyone consulted a reputable PR firm when they came up with the moniker "bay bug."  Not exactly appetizing.  Besides, we were there for something much more mainstream, though perhaps not "breakkie" mainstream.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Outpost - Melbourne

Hit and Miss
At a small cafe named The Outpost in the South Yarra suburb of Melbourne, Australia, I kicked off two weeks of anti-work, otherwise known as vacation.  This is the kind of place I wanted to love but couldn't completely - it is a mix of good and not-so-good.  My scrambled with black truffles should've been a deal-maker but they were suprisingly bland.  They looked so beautiful that I chewed and chewed, patiently waiting for something to happen.  Nothing did.  Dash of salt, bit of pepper, still nothing.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Freshness Burger - Singapore

Where's the Beef?
Back in the 80's there was a series of Wendys commercials in which an insistent senior kept yelling "Where's the beef?" as a way of tweaking McDonalds and Burger King for their small patties.  When the crew at Freshness Burger handed over my "classic" cheeseburger at lunch yesterday I felt like screaming the same thing.  To make matters worse, when I bit into it all I tasted was hype. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Toast@Work - Singapore

The Beginning of the End?
Nex is yet another new glittering mall in Singapore with restaurants throughout and a food court on the top floor.  You can eat in air-conditioned comfort, a welcomed respite from the unceasing heat and sun.  We navigated Nex to try out Toast@Work and while I have no specific complaints, I worry that these malls will slowly dilute the street food culture and doom the Singapore food scene.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Les Pâtes Vivantes II - Paris

It's Official, Happy Nouilles Takes em Out!
I'm a Zha Jiang fanatic.  If that doesn't mean something to you, it should.  We're talking hand-pulled noodles with ground pork and fermented soybean paste.  Maybe that doesn't sound enticing to you if you've never had it - think of it as a spicy, porky spaghetti.   Still doesn't sound good?  Seriously?  I cannot get enough of the stuff and in Paris, my favorite version is at Happy Nouilles, not Les Pâtes Vivantes.  I confirmed it with a visit to the latter's recently opened second outpost on Blvd St Germain.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Xi'an Famous Foods - Manhattan

Game, Set, Match!
You're unlikely to find a tastier, more satisfying batch of noodles than those served at Xi-an Famous Foods.  I was dumbstruck when I took my first bite of their "Savory Cumin Lamb Hand-Pulled Noodles."  I didn't think something could be this delicious.  These are giant, flat, ragged, hand torn noodles that you might not associate with Chinese cuisine, but alas, China is a big place.  Xi'an presents food from Shaanxi province in northwestern China.  Their noodles are spicier, heartier and more delicious than any I've ever had.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baohaus - Manhattan

And the Old Shall Be Made New Again
Back in '92 I was working for a mis-Fortune 500 in a slim glass skyscraper in midtown.  I spent a lot of time at the firm's library trying to convince the manager that I was cooler than all the nerdburgers working there.  She usually waved me off but one day Miss Lopez said "ok, you wanna take me out - meet me at the Mexican spot on the corner of Stanton and Ludlow."  The pre-gentrification lower east side (LES) was another world entirely in those days (click here)  but when you're young and horny a pretty girl can make you walk through a dicey hood. Fast forward a couple decades and I'm sitting a block away at Baohaus munching on Taiwanese bao.  The LES has changed a lot but not enough to stanch the flow of memories.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brats: Dogs & Wieners - Manhattan

Thirty?!?  Yes, Thirty!
A two dog lunch at Brats: Dogs & Wieners set me back thirty smackers!  Yep, you read that right - thirty beans!  I don't know doodlysquats about fancy-schwanks dogs but for that price they better leave me moist in the pants.  This is a high-end sausage spot that sports higher-end prices.  You have to ask yourself "do I want a high-end sausage?"  Suffice it to say that I left full, poorer and dry in the crotch.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Slavyanskiy Bazar - Brooklyn

Attenuating the Jetlag Recovery Formula
It's only a slight exaggeration to describe my life as being composed of two halves: jetlag and recovering from jetlag. I have different formulas depending upon the direction.  From Paris to Brooklyn: no sleep on the flight, stay up late, up early the next day, get out of the apartment and stay away until nightfall.  Today was that "next day" so I went deep into Brooklyn to a neighborhood called Gravesend and had some Ukranian food at Slavyanskiy Bazar.  It's a food that I want to like but it never cooperates.

Friday, November 5, 2010

DEPUR - Paris

Un Pause Gourmande
Depur stands for "drole endroit pour un recontre", which literally means "strange place for an encounter" but I prefer to translate it "funny running into you here."  Feels like they came up with "depur" and then found a sentence that fit it.  Nevertheless, I stopped in for a "pause gourmande" otherwise known as "snack."  Not any old American snack like a Snickers or a 1,000 calorie bucket of fries, no, something healthy.  A tomato with a cheese hat.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Frenchie - Paris

Frenchie, R.I.P
I have a Slingbox, which is a life-saver for a TV-addicted American living in Paris.  I can watch my NY television here in Paris and keep up with my favorite shows.  I was just watching a recent episode of Bourdain's "No Reservations", the one where he returns to Paris after a few years away.  Half-way through the show there was a shot of him walking up rue du Nil.  I recognized it right away and my heart sank.  I started screaming at my TV "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  Don't tell 'em about Frenchie!!!"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rice and Beans - Paris

Why'd She Do It?
The pretty girl with the big tits was tired of being popular.  Or maybe she was just bored when she grabbed the blade and carved up her face.  This was a makeover, but not the usual kind.  Not a change of hairstyle or new clothes, something else completely.  Something deep and disturbing.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dominique Saibron - Paris

The Drive By Methodology
My girlfriend amazes me.  On a recent taxi ride from Orly airport, as we sped down the street,she tapped me excitedly and said "remember Alesia."  Yep, got it, Alesia, I said, barely looking up.  This, folks, is the "drive by methodology" whereby Dodo sees something as we drive past and makes a mental note.  It's a proven methodology, yielding such gems as Les Pates Vivantes and Jean Millet.  So, this morning when she said "remember that place we saw last week near the Alesia Metro?" I didn't even hesitate.  I jumped up, got on the net and found the name: Dominique Saibron.  Within an hour we were there and folks, it's a keeper.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joël Robuchon - Monte Carlo

Saving the Best for Last...
.....the best laugh, that is.  Ok, rewind a few days and picture me packing a bag for our trip to Nice that included a Frenchie outfit: collared shirt, zip up sweater, sport jacket and dress shoes.  Dodo was confused: "You never pack any nice clothes."  Well, we might go to Monaco, I explained, it's a nine outta ten on the worldwide schwank scale.  "How do you know" she said, more a statement than a question.  Fast-forward two days: I carefully donned my special outfit and said "Ok, let's got to Monaco."  She slipped into some raggedy jeans and sneakers.  Feigning exaggerated high-steps, she said "these are my loose jeans, the ones I can take big giant steps in, see?"  I tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn't budge.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chez Pipo - Nice

Trying Out Socca
I didn't know anything about Socca until I arrived in Nice.  It's a regional flatbread made from chickpeas and olive oil.  It's for sale all over the place but I got a recommendation to go to Pipo, which is supposed to have a good version.  We took a long, leisurely evening walk from our hotel on the Promenade des Anglais and arrived at the already packed Pipo at around 7pm.  We lucked into an outdoor table and scanned the menu.  It's pretty straightforward: you either get a single serving or a double serving.  They also serve tapenade, but we mistakenly passed on that.  We should have gotten some since it took quite a while to get our Socca.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fenocchio - Nice

Warm Enough for Gelato
Having a gelato from Fenocchio is a must in Nice - it's a local institution, churning out over a hundred different flavors.  We perused them all and steered clear of the stranger flavors and settled on a scoop of melon and passionfruit.  We enjoyed them a lot.  The melon was very subtle and did indeed taste exactly like its namesake, not a fake note struck.  The passionfruit was equally true and tangy to boot.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Le Local - Nice

When in Nice, Do What the Romans Do
The Italian border is only a blink away from Nice so there's plenty of Italian food to choose from.  Dodo saw this spot on a quiet alley tucked away from the tourists and started interviewing one of the waiters.  This is a signal for me to sit, which I did but I'd already scanned the daily specials and secretly chosen the pumpkin risotto with pork sausage.  When I didn't open the menu she became suspicious but I beat her to the punch "Dodo, you gonna get the risotto?"  "Nah" she responded with a wrinkled nose "it has pumpkin."  I knew I'd be later sharing half of it - and when it arrived she ooohed and ahhhed and plunged a fork in without asking permission.  After she chewed for a second she said  "Babe, are we gonna do a half and half share?"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fast & Fresh Burrito Deli - Brooklyn

Diamond in the Rough
I should have my food blogging license revoked since I've walked by this place for years and didn't once poke my head in.  In my defense, all outward appearances suggest it's your typical NYC deli/bodega - the kind that you find on almost every block.  Little did I know that Fast & Fresh Burrito slings some of the tastiest tacos outside of Sunset Park.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Baked and Mile End - Brooklyn

Revisiting Some Old Favorites
It's a struggle when I come back to NYC - do I hit all the new spots or mix in some old favorites?  In the end I do a bit of both.  I've already gone to Iris just about every morning - Tyra Banks keeps sitting next to me but I don't read anything into it (no, I didn't take a photo of her, this in NY not LA.)  Another of my favorites is Baked in Red Hook.  I measure all cupcakes against theirs and none has taken their crown and probably never will.  Some of you will mock me: "the cupcake craze is over!"  I know what you mean, but really, some things never completely go out of style.  It would be like saying "geez, I sure am tired of pussy."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kappa Sake House - Brooklyn

It Really is a Sake Bar...
....but we didn't realize, we saw the phrase "home-cooked Japanese" and thought Hibino.  We'd just spent an hour at Four and Twenty Blackbirds eating pie and now we wanted some lunch.  Yep, we tend to put dessert first, you never know when you'll absentmindedly step into traffic.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cafe Luluc - Brooklyn

Best Pancakes in Brooklyn?
No, I wouldn't go that far - but best pancakes on Smith Street, for sure.  The Puffin just arrived from a 20hr Singapore to NY flight and a pancake breakfast at Cafe Luluc was near the top of her list.  The conversation went like this: "Babe, I just flew half-way around the world, are you gonna make me pancakes?"  Me (eyes rolling): "Yeah, I have to go buy ingredients, if you don't mind waiting."  Her: "Never mind, we can go to Luluc."  She brought me a present - a new camera.  The kind that's not dummy-proof, so forgive me as I try to learn the right combination of aperture, focal length and ISO (and I'm not even sure those are the correct terms...)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Francois Payard Bakery ("FPB") - Manhattan

Missing Paris?  Nah, Couldn't Be....
I got the drop on this place from Dessertbuzz.  It's officially called FPB but that P stands for Payard, a big name in French pastry.  It made no sense - I'll be back in Paris in a week, but somehow there I was, ordering French pastries from his new shop on Houston.  Dodo's gonna mock and tease me for sure.  I can't explain it - I guess I was just curious to see how it stacks up against the Paris shops I frequent.  The apricot danish was bursting with flavor but could have been a bit lighter and flakier.  To be fair, I was there at 5pm, they're probably different in the morning, fresh from the oven.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pies 'n' Thighs - Brooklyn

The Good, the Bad and the Stupid
Back when I had a great life in Brooklyn, I lived close to my boys Geppie, Hatebean, Clinks and Froggy.  We hung out, played sports, joked each other and laughed non-stop.  One by one, they grew up and moved away and Brooklyn's never really been the same.  I'm still here and still immature, which can be a lonely feeling.  This weekend we had a rare "Brooklyn flashback" and everyone except Geppie made the trip.  As usual, they had no eating ideas so I talked them into a breakfast at Pies 'n' Thighs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Four and Twenty Blackbirds - Brooklyn

They'll Shut Your Pie-Hole
After reading about Four and Twenty Blackbirds over and over on Blondie and Brownie, I jumped the R train to check it out.  Just a few posts ago I wondered if anyone could make a pie in this city, now I have my answer.  I'm a sucker for any salty-sweet combo and their salted caramel apple pie hits all the right notes - flaky homemade crust, tender apples that aren't overly sweet and a salty aftertaste.  I knew this was my kind of place when they confirmed that they make their own whipped cream.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Karloff - Brooklyn

Swiss-Knife Cafe
Everyone who walked in did what I did - looked around, a bit confused, trying to figure out the newly opened cafe that took over the old Tea Lounge space.  They want to cover all the bases, serving a strange mix of Eastern European comfort food, ice cream, baked goods, coffee and even smoothies.  I didn't stay befuddled too long, I was coming off an eight-hour conference call and was starving.  I glanced at the menu and chose the first thing I saw - chicken meatloaf with mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hill Country Chicken - Manhattan

Newcomer Bird vs. Popeyes
Every new fried chicken spot gets compared to Popeyes - that's how it works on this silly blog.  Why? Because this is the Puff List.  She'll ask is "is it better than Popeye's, babe?"  I still can't get over it - the little Singaporean chick loves Popeyes.  Will Hill Country Chicken come out on top?  Will Popeyes keep the crown?  It's the pseudo South against faux New Orleans.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mother's Cupboard - Syracuse

Manly Burger Lunch
I wasn't comfortable cutting my burger in half at Mother's Cupboard - there are pickup trucks and Harley's parked outside in the lot, know what I mean?  It's like sitting ringside at a mixed martial arts fight wearing a pink bow tie.  I had to do it though - I wanted you to see the beautiful cross-section.  Just look at it - a juicy patty with bacon, cheese and an over-easy fried egg between a toasted, flaky bun that was up to the task.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stella's Diner - Syracuse

It's Simple, but Oh So Good!
I spend a lot of time on planes but don't eat the food. While in the air I usually plan my first meal (and sometimes the second through tenth.) On my way to Syracuse, I didn't have to think long - Stella's is near the airport and they serve diner food that's hard to beat. Since Dodo wasn't with me, it's a two-fer: I get a slamming meal and get to drive her into an jealous rage.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Naruto Ramen - Brooklyn

Memorable, for the Wrong Reason
I'm no food expert, and I definitely don't know much about ramen. But as it turns out, it wasn't necessary at Naruto. Four hours later I still have a stomach ache, just like I did at Minca in the East Village. It's as if the ramen got to my stomach and wove itself into a tight ball and refused to move any further.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Iris Cafe - Brooklyn

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Paris Posts...
...to go to the best place on Earth - Iris Cafe. I dreamt about their breakfast all night, about the sticky buns, the coffee and the bacon. This little place has captured my attention like no other. They make food that's the culinary version of a sharp head-butt to the face or a punch in the stomach that knocks the wind out of you. The flavors are strong and memorable - there is no "suggestion" of this or "hint" of that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lucca - Paris

Baby's All Grown Up
Straight off the plane from all the globe-trotting I'm not going to dive head first into my Paris life. Let me ease into it, slowly, by way of Italy. Dodo, you remember Lucca, right? The little Italian spot north of the apartment that serves nice focaccia? Well, he's expanded - both the menu and the space. Now he's selling pasta, has taken over some space across the street and even has a lounge/bar on the corner where he was pumping NWA, of all things.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Koon Kee - Singapore

Garage Farewell Dinner
As midnight approaches I realize how Cinderella must have felt. It's time to head back to Paris but I don't want to, I'd rather stay here with Dodo. We spent our last meal at Koon Kee where I was on the prowl for Beef Hor Fun, described to me as beef stew with flat noodles. Who coulda guessed that the prawn-paste fried chicken and the decor would steal the show.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Once Upon a Milkshake - Singapore

Fourth Time's a Charm
I'd been to Once Upon a Milkshake before and was forced to accept some lesser flavor like mocha. I've peeked in a few other times but they were always out of it. Just take it off the menu, already. Stop teasing me. The other day, one more peek. They have it!! I burst through the door so hard everyone momentarily stopped fondling their iBaubles.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Flor Patisserie - Singapore

It's a Matter of Taste
Imagine yourself in a dream, floating high above the earth. You're not scared, you feel safe and happy. The sun is warm and bright, causing you to squint. It's beauty like you've never seen, all the colors are glowing. Sugary white clouds billow around you, beckoning you, and in your dream state you know they're edible. You close your eyes, open your mouth and gently bite. How does it taste?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wah Lok - Singapore

Dim Sum Mea Culpa
I felt so bad I had to do something, but what? Send flowers? Chocolates? I was concerned about re-doubling the insult with an awkward apology. So, I consulted a Singaporean insider for advice. "Just take her for a nice meal, duh" said Puffin, disgusted by my stupidity. I left the choice to Puffin who set up a visit to Wah Lok, a Cantonese restaurant inside the Carlton Hotel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sin Ming Roti Prata - Singapore

The Bar Has Been Raised
For me, the perfect roti prata is a balance between flaky and fluffy. The skin should shatter a bit when forked and you shouldn't have to work to hard to tear off a chunk. Sin Ming Roti Prata gets it just right. I've been a handful of times now and they're consistently good. If they were closer to Puffin's and not a cab ride away I wouldn't go anywhere else for prata. I'll crown them, for now, as my favorite "travel prata."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mang Kiko's Lechon - Singapore

Fatty Pork to the Rescue
We were on a quest for Filipino burgers in Lau Pa Sat, a Victorian hawker built in the late 1890's. We searched and searched but the burgers didn't show themselves. Luckily, Dodo caught a whiff of the other Filipino meat: pork. This barbecued pork belly plate was sinfully good, wiping all thoughts of burgers from my mind.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wheat Baumkuchen - Singapore

Treecake from Germany via Japan
If you've not been to Germany or Japan you may not be familiar with baumkuchen, or "tree cake", so named due to its layered rings. Wheat Baumkuchen is a recently opened cafe in Toa Payoh that specializes in nothing but. I dropped in for one on my way to the nearby golf range hoping it might lengthen me a few yards.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spruce Taqueria - Singapore

Boondocko for Tacos
Some of us have rules. Some of us wouldn't try noodles in Paris or burgers in Seoul. That makes sense when you're visiting for a short time, I guess. I'm liable to try anything anywhere, not as a rule but for the lack thereof. So there we were, hailing a taxi to the boonies to test out some tacos. The taxi driver scrunched up his face more than they usually do when I gave the location. I figured he'd never heard of it until Pingles repeated exactly what I said with a Singlish lilt. "Ahhh", he confirmed: "Tangleeen Rote ah."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bill's - Sydney

Bad, Badder, Baddest?
Perhaps a blind man whose sense of smell and taste has sharpened? Or a man born with five tongues? Surely no ordinary person could coax any taste from this monotonously bland fare. I looked around, confused, at the elbow-to-elbow crowd within Bill's but never arrived at an explanation. This was the worst meal I've had in a very long time. When I bit into the flatbread it wouldn't comply, I had to twist it between my teeth until a piece eventually tore off. It was stale and lifeless - probably bland when it was fresh a few days earlier but now it had mutated into cardboard.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Janet's Pies - Sydney

Had to Do It
Akin to getting a bagel in NY or a croissant in Paris you have to get a meat pie in Australia, right? I didn't seek out the best one or get any advice, I stumbled into Janet's Pies while exploring King St in Newtown. It certainly looked the part - the chicken-mushroom combo sat majestically on the plate next to a tower of mash and a spill of peas.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hungry Jack's - Sydney

The King is Dead, Long Live the King
When Burger King tried to expand into Australia they found that the name had already been trademarked in by another restaurant. They offered their franchisee his pick of some of their other trademarked names and he chose Hungry Jack's. Rest assured, tastewise, if not namewise, this is a delicious Whopper Jr.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bambini Trust Cafe - Sydney

Hit by a Truck
Changing time zones is hard enough but going from summer to winter adds insult to injury. I hadn't anticipated this on the 7 hr flight from Singapore to Sydney, I was busy with thoughts of murder. A few rows back, a two year-old Chinese boy screeched and tugged wildly at grandma's hair without reproach - the one child policy gone awry. By the time I cleared customs and wandered into the 40 degree chill, I felt like I'd been in a car accident. Perfect time for what they in Oz call "brekkie."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amelie Cafe - Penang, Malaysia

Cute, but not the Swiftest
It took me a while but I finally got the recycling theme at Amelie. They use recycled everything - from the jars in which they serve their lattes to the furniture and menus. We were parched from wandering around nearby Khoo Kongsi and this was a perfect place to sit back, relax and sip some cool drinks. Just don't be in a rush - if you cannot make the tenuous connection, let me help you: Amelie is a French name and France ain't synonymous with speedy service. There is one chef for fifteen people, about the maximum this tiny cafe can accomodate.

New Lane Street Vendors - Penang, Malaysia

Two for Two Heaven
Rarely does it go so perfectly. Pick out two things you love, get two perfectly lovely things delivered. So it was at the New Lane market, where we feasted on this plate of char siew pork and roasted duck. Every single bite was a fatty, smoky step towards the grave. But hey, you can't live forever.

Apom Chooi - Penang, Malaysia

Banana Pancakes - Nonya Style
I was so full but Puffin talked me into one more thing! The word apom means pancake in Malay, Chooi is the name of the vendor himself. His brother Guan works another stall only 30 feet away but apparently they're not on talking terms. Gotta love the internet - don't know if any of that is true but it makes for a good story - check out the source for this post here.

Transfer Rd Roti Canai - Penang, Malaysia

The Revered Roti Canai in this Town
I really wanted to try out Roti Canai in Penang and asked around for a good one. Every taxi driver, hotel worker and random person told me to go to Transfer Street. We went by in the evening once but it was closed and I began to worry that it wouldn't reopen until after Ramadan. I'd all but given up. Luckily, as we were flagging a cabbie this morning we happened to be standing half a block from it and it was open. As she pointed down the block, Puffin asked the cabbie "is this Transfer Street? Roti Canai?" He smiled widely. "Yes, yes, yes, the best. Take your time, I'll wait for you."

Beng Chin Garden - Penang, Malaysia

A Surprisingly Near-Perfect Coffee Shop
After touring the nearby Kek Lok Si temple we were ready to chow. We picked this coffee shop at the bottom of the hill almost at random. In these parts a "coffee shop" is a collection of street vendors selling various foodstuffs as well as coffee. We weren't expecting too much but were pleasantly surprised, especially with the Char Kway Teow, literally "wok-fried rice-cake strips." It's so-called for the flat rice noodles that are fried at a high heat with lard, soy sauce, chili, shrimp paste, tamarind juice, prawns, cockles, bean sprouts and chives. It was smoky and slightly spicy and absolutely delicious. Best meal of the day, hands down.