Locals lining up at 8 in the morning for cifantuan Fried crullers, pork floss, tea eggs, pickles and stewed pork, ready to be rolled into a ball The lady moves like lightening, it was a task to get her to slow down enough to take a picture. A beautiful morning in the Jingan Villas Pork cutlets stewing Stall at 590 Weihai Road Dumplings and noodles down an alley

Shanghai Breakfast Street Food Tour

This summer has been one of the hottest on record in Shanghai. Taking a walk outside is akin to being skewered on a spit and basting in one’s own oil on slow rotation .

Luckily, I was in Ethiopia for most of July and missed the worst of it. While I did endure two days in the Dallol region of Northern Ethiopia- known as the hottest and most lifeless place on earth- my friends here are unimpressed, “Well you didn’t have to leave Shanghai for that”.

The only window of respite is in the wee hours before seven in the morning, when the streets are most peaceful. Before the sound of blaring horns fill the air and a thick blanket of humidity descends, the elderly are out on their morning walks, exercising in the park and picking up breakfast for loved ones still sleeping.

It used to be that at the entrance of every longtang, a small alley of traditional shikumen houses, there was at least one stall serving traditional Shanghai breakfast of…

Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory Champagne krug 8 1/2Otto e Mezzo • Jing Theory

Champagne Krug meets 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo for one night in Hong Kong

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What do you get when you mix the purity of Champagne’s terroir with the precision of German winemaking, and inject it with the sophistication of a French luxury group? You get the experience of Krug, one of the finest- and priciest bubblies on the market.

And what do you get when you put ten bloggers in a room and pour them copious amounts of said champagne? Well, you get a bunch of happy, drunken bloggers.

I was honoured to be part of that group invited by Krug for a tasting of some of their best bottles paired with a multi-course meal at 3 Michelin star 81/2 Otto e Mezzo in Hong Kong last week. As mentioned not least on Krug’s list of differentiators is its price tag, with some bottles upwards of $4000 usd. And I probably don’t need to tell you that a seat in 8 1/2 Hong Kong is a highly coveted commodity that can take …

Jing | 05.08.12 at 10:39 PM |
Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory Chengfu Courtyard • Jing Theory

Chengfu Courtyard

Just steps from Tiananmen Square and Zhongnanhai, the walled compound where China’s top party officials live, is the quiet, tree-lined Nanchangjie. Driving down this street, it is easy to miss the doorway of number 38, a small courtyard that houses one of Beijing’s most exclusive restaurants.

Chengfu Courtyard is named after its founder Cheng Ruming, official Zhongnanhai chef and one of 16 “Treasured Culinary Talents” in the country. In 1954 he became the personal chef to Mao Zedong, responsible for the daily meals of Mao’s entire family and whipping up elaborate banquets for visiting heads of state.

Today, his grandson Liu Jian runs the small restaurant of only four private rooms, and because of guanxi, is able to source all of the same ingredients that are delivered into Zhongnanhai. This may be the only place outside of the walled compound where you can rest assured your food is completely safe, organic and free of any artificial…

Noma Copenhagen • Jing Theory A bouquet of malt flatbread and juniper Moss and Cep Pickled and smoked quail’s egg Pickled and smoked quail’s egg Bread Pork skin and black currant

Noma | Copenhagen

Dining at the world’s best restaurant comes with its own set of anticipation and expectation.

I approached this meal the way that I have often approached meals in the past, my frame of reference limited (I am by no means as well-traveled and well-dined as some of my blogger-counterparts) and judgement criterion somewhat skewed by my dining experiences to date. What is a lunch at the world’s best restaurant supposed to deliver? Will every course delight, bursting with transcendental flavours? Will this be the most enjoyable meal of my life to date?

It was immediately evident that the normal dining paradigms are not applicable here. If you come to Noma seeking comfort in taste and contented familiarity, you will likely leave feeling unfulfilled. Each dish in isolation wasn’t always exceptionally tasty, not being imbued with heavy-handed seasoning that has become conventional in North American or Asian cooking, and by which we tend to judge…

Jing | 12.03.12 at 12:00 PM |
Noma Interior Paris Sushi printanier ail frais- sushi rice draped with a thin slice of red beetroot, with garlic oil and shredded horseradish Passard's famous millefeuille with flavour du jour- a light combo of pear and mint hiding between the exceptionally fine layers of pastry. Drizzled with caramel and a dust of powdered sugar, this came as close to heaven as I could imagine. Streets of Copenhagen at night A dish of perfectly done Norwegian scallops came served on a 'rockbed' of chamomile flower buds with little mounds of lemon puree and a sprig of thyme. The dish evoked images of the sea, and our instruction to eat it with our hands was a nice play on foraging our own fresh catch. Bisque of Chamomile Flower. A hollowed-out bowl arrived emitting a cloud of liquid nitrogen smoke.

Eurobinge ’11: Paris & Copenhagen

This, along with many other posts, are dearly overdue. Since around October last year, my life has been a nonstop roller coaster ride of passport stamps, time zones and calories. Excuses aside, here’s what I’ve been up to.

In October I made a pilgrimage to Zhenjiang with my mother to trace half my roots in the pastoral countryside bordering the Jiangsu capital. I met family I never knew I had, tasted true farm to table cooking, the fruits of their labour.

Soon after I flew to Paris and was enchanted by the city’s joie de vivre all over again, was tempted, very tempted to drop everything and enroll in the Ecole Ritz Escoffier.

The real excuse for the Eurotrip was a lunch date with fellow foodies at resto-mecca Noma in Copenhagen, where I discovered I dislike Scandinavian winters but very much like Nordic food- especially what they’re serving at Herman.

I then stopped by Milan to visit my parents and we took a memorable drive to nearby…

Sketch by the Zen monk Sengai Osho (1750-1837), to illustrate the journey to bring meaning out of something that seems to have none

Kajitsu – Shojin cuisine

I can’t think of a more thoughtful culinary practice, more grounded in principles and devoted to harmony, than that of the Japanese.

I have long held deep respect for Japanese food culture, even etching a Confucius-influenced Okinawan food philosophy permanently on my forearm. Not that I follow it, ever. But it feels virtuous to look at.

On a recent trip to NYC, I was intrigued when ChuckEats put Kajitsu on my radar. Not only because it features “Shojin Cuisine”, which I knew little of, but also that it is a multi-course vegetarian meal, one of just two restaurants I know of that are Michelin rated and completely vegetarian. Kajitsu received two stars last year.

Shojin cuisine is an ancient culinary practice developed in Zen Buddhist monasteries, and following the Buddhist principle of preserving life, no meat or fish are used. Instead the focus is on fresh, in season vegetables, herbs and grains.

Executive chef Masat Nishihara worked for…

Can Jubany  • Jing Theory Restaurant entryway tasting menu The first amuse that arrived was a plate of hot macademia nuts coated in a crispy golden batter, followed by a second plate of crisp puff pastry topped with a glorious slice of jamon iberico, golden caviar and flecks of sea salt. A waitress then arrived with a loaded cart of what appeared to be scientific kitchen tools, and whipped up a batch of 'solid limoncello' by our table. What ended up looking like white, fluffy popcorn was refreshingly icy and concentrated with flavour. Our third amuse was a light consome poured over a thin parmesan crisp Then came the first course, puffy bread cake with sweetened fig and foie. Probably my favourite dish of the day, the combination of silky foie and sweetness of the fig sauce was an unbeatable combination.

Can Jubany – New Catalan cuisine in Barcelona

“In the centre of the Plain of Vic, on a slight rise near Calldetenes village, there is a welcoming traditional Catalan farmhouse, now a space for discovering a new concept in taste…”

This is all I allowed myself to read before arriving at Can Jubany’s quaint yet modern farmhouse restaurant an hour outside Barcelona. I previously had little interaction with Catalan cuisine and left both and mind and palate blank slates for the brief, food focused trip I took with four friends. Our party was as diverse as it comes with myself, Adlyn – Malay, Mayumi – Japanese, Adrien – French and Salome – Swiss, a truly global ensemble of serious gourmands.

We weren’t going to score reservations at El Bulli, so turned to other heavyweights during our short stay in Barcelona. After much deliberation, we settled upon El Cellar de Can Roca and Can Jubany for our two day trips out of the city. My friend Larissa turned me onto the latter after…

Jing | 10.07.11 at 01:12 AM |
Hong Kong Man Wah • Jing Theory Hong Kong Man Wah • Jing Theory

Hong Kong: Dim Sum at Man Wah

On the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, Man Wah’s panoramic views take your breath away. Even on a smoggy day as this, Victoria Harbour looks as grand as ever. The interior has a sort of understated opulence, fine bone china and crystal ware adorn pink satin tablecloths, but in lieu of the usual chandelier light fixtures, the ceiling is dotted with humble red lanterns.

I was invited by MO to sample some of Chef Man-Sing Lee’s masterful dim sum creations. Formerly from Hoi Yat Heen at Harbour Grand Kowloon, Chef Lee has cooked for government officials and heads of state, and collected numerous awards along the way. I hadn’t experienced high-end dim sum in Hong Kong yet, with Tim Ho Wan being the FMOT, and looked forward to a refined, contemporary take on dim sum staples.

Almost immediately after we sat down, the food started arriving. I deferred to the chef and didn’t glance at the menu. All 14 dishes came out from the kitchen in perfect…

Jing | 11.05.11 at 01:00 AM |
Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen • Jing Theory

Yu Bo’s Family Kitchen: Inside one of China’s greatest restaurants

I walked down Kuanzhai Lane in Chengdu, looking for number 43. The area is highly stylized, as China’s “heritage sites” tend to be, but somehow devoid of any trace of soul. Wading one’s way through German breweries, Starbucks, and new age tea houses, its hard not to get distracted by the gimmicks along the way or the attractive hostesses at the doorways.

But I was on a quest. The most holiest of culinary grails awaited me, and it had been a long journey. I approached two large wooden doors, calligraphy flanking each side, informing visitors they have arrived at Yu’s Family Kitchen. Understated and humble from the facade, it was a good indication of what was inside. Only six tables are available for just one seating per night, and despite tremendous success over the years, the restaurant has never expanded.

I was met by Chef Yu Bo and his wife. The duo have operated Yu’s Family Kitchen since 2006, back when they were the first restaurant on the…

Jing | 23.04.11 at 01:00 AM |
Howard’s Kitchen • Jing Theory Howard’s Kitchen Shanghai Binge • Jing Theory Goga • Jing Theory Goga • Jing Theory Goga • Jing Theory

The Shanghai Binge: Howard’s Kitchen, Goga, The cook

I squeezed in a Shanghai weekend on my most recent trip to Beijing, and lived out the 36 Hour Food Marathon that I preached in an earlier post. Joining me in the shenanigans was my friend Tracey, who was happy to oblige when I asked her to come along for FREE. You see, I entered a contest a while back on CNNGo, asking readers to submit an overlooked restaurant in their Best Eats rankings in different cities. My entry for Gogawon for Shanghai, and the prize was a two night stay at the HoJo Plaza by the nice folks over at CNNGo. Of course, the stay wouldn’t have been complete without another visit to Goga to celebrate, so that’s what we planned. A weekend of leisure and repose, mixed in with some good food and wine.

What ended up transpiring was something I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest, most excessive dreams.

We did it big. Everything was over the top. Largess was the word, and we stopped short of nothing. There was free flow champagne and cigarettes. …

Jing | 30.03.11 at 11:00 AM |


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