Shanghai: Liquid Laundry

Rotisserie Chicken at Liquid Laundry with Mac and Cheese and Creamed Corn

Rotisserie Chicken at Liquid Laundry with Mac and Cheese and Creamed Corn

I actually went to Liquid Laundry (KWah Centre, 2/F, 1028 Huaihai Zhong Lu; 淮海中路1028号, 嘉华房2/F) when they first opened a few months ago. While the space was cool, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the food. I told myself that I would go again but wouldn’t order anything from my first visit. I’m certainly glad I gave it a second chance because I found some really delectable dishes.

Liquid Laundry is by Kelley Lee, the same person who brought you Boxing Cat Brewery, Cantina Agave and Sproutworks. The space is huge, including dining area, lounge area, bar area and an actual brewery making the beer that is served in-house. It’s a very hip place and on the weekends, it’s absolutely packed. Be sure to make a reservation if you want to dine there for dinner.

Inside Liquid Laundry and the Beer Flight

Inside Liquid Laundry and the Beer Flight

On my first visit, I ordered the eggplant dip with flatbread, burrata cheese with duck proscuitto and salad and the Hannibal Lecter sandwich. I was so underwhelmed and disappointed. The eggplant dip had zero flavor (though the actual flatbread was good). While the cheese was delicious, the portion felt really small (about 50 g) and I didn’t really think it went that well with the duck and salad. The Hannibal Lecter sandwich was the best thing of the night– two mini pastrami sandwiches served with mustard and slaw. I did enjoy my drink though, a saffron gin and tonic.

For my second visit, I went with a much larger group of people with lent itself to trying and ordering more dishes. My friend and I split the rotisserie chicken. A whole chicken comes with all four sauces: Asian Persuasion, BBQ, hot and original (a half chicken comes with two sauces). I thought the rotisserie chicken was tasty, cooked well and the meat was tender. Out of the four sauces, I liked the Asian Persuasion sauce best and we even ordered a refill. For sides, my friend and I ordered mac and cheese and the creamed corn. Mac and cheese was solid, but I was in love with the creamed corn. The creamed corn had a hint of truffle oil in it (yum) and really nice corn kernels mixed in. I was so happy to see this because often times creamed corn looks like baby food. The kernels had a perfect crunch to them, which provided a great textural contrast to the dish.

Top Left: Seared yellowtail; Top Right: Fried chicken and biscuit; Bottom left: Porcetta; Bottom right: Hannibal Lecter sandwich

Top Left: Seared yellowtail; Top Right: Fried chicken and biscuit; Bottom left: Porcetta; Bottom right: Hannibal Lecter sandwich

Among the whole group, we ordered the seared yellowtail, fried chicken and biscuit, porcetta, pavlova and chocolate tart. I really loved the seared yellowtail appetizer. It’s quite small, but the fish is so delicate and fresh. They dress the fish with small pumpkin cubes, puffed black rice, pear, pine nuts, avocado and sliced jalapeño. It is seriously a flavor explosion in your mouth. There’s so much happening- spicy, sweet, crunchy, creamy, savory- all in one bite. It’s probably one of my favorite dishes they offer.

The porcetta was also stunning. The pork has that crispy skin and then this wonderful marbling of fat with the meat. My only concern is that it’s just too much to eat by yourself and it comes with absolutely no sides (probably forcing you to order sides). It’s a lot of meat on a plate and so I’d recommend sharing it.

Dessert! Pavlova on the top and Chocolate tart on the bottom

Dessert! Pavlova on the top and Chocolate tart on the bottom

Desserts were a smash. The chocolate tart was rich, creamy and smooth. I was really digging the pavlova. Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert, which normally has whipped cream or custard inside and is topped with fresh fruit. The outside needs to be crisp and airy but the inside needs to be softer and more marshmallow-like. I really like Liquid Laundry’s pavlova. It wasn’t too sweet and there was this custard/cream in the middle that I couldn’t get enough of. With the fresh fruits on top, I felt like it was summer on a plate. While the chocolate dessert was good, it was more ordinary. The pavlova is a dessert that you probably won’t find on many menus.

I would recommend Liquid Laundry as a cool place to take friends for a drink or gastro-pub meal. The place definitely gets loud so it’s not the best spot for a quiet, romantic night. However, could be a good place for a first date if you want to avoid awkward conversation!

Delicious Eats in Taipei

Taipei 101's food court is home to the best fried chicken

Taipei 101’s food court is home to the best fried chicken

My best friend from back home, Anne, came to visit me and we decided to go on a mini-vacay to Taipei. I’d been to Taipei before, but only for the weekend, and was looking forward to spending a few days relaxing and eating our hearts out.

From my last trip to Taipei, I remembered having the best fried chicken of life in the basement food court of Taipei 101. The bestie wanted to go to Din Tai Fung for our first meal and it seemed to be kismet that the closest one was in the basement of Taipei 101. The line for Din Tai Fung was going to be a 45-minute to one hour wait so it was the perfect opportunity to get fried chicken!

I was so happy to be reunited with my Ji Guang Xiang Xiang Ji 继光香香鸡. The fried pieces of chicken are a mix of dark and white meat and slightly larger than KFC’s popcorn chicken. The batter isn’t super thick and I still don’t know how they fry the chicken without it being super oily. When you order, you can choose the level of spiciness (we got mild). We also decided to try the deep-fried squid, which was disappointing. While the squid was cooked well and had a nice consistency, the batter was different from the fried chicken. This caused the squid to be extremely oily and I didn’t think the batter stuck on as well. I wouldn’t recommend getting the fried squid and just stay with the chicken goodness.

Taipei: Fried Chicken at Ji Guang Xiang Xiang Ji 继光香香鸡

Taipei: Fried Chicken at Ji Guang Xiang Xiang Ji 继光香香鸡

Do you know how sometimes you remember food being super good, but when you eat it again, it disappoints? THIS WAS NOT THE CASE. The chicken was served piping hot with a slight crunch and just wonderful flavor. I was still marveling at how they got the chicken so tender too. If you are ever in Taipei, I would highly recommend it!

Taipei: Din Tai Fung

Taipei: Din Tai Fung

After our “snack” of fried chicken and squid, Anne and I were ready for steamed xiao long bao (小笼包). I’ve already discussed Din Tai Fung’s dumplings in great detail in one of my Shanghai blog posts so I will not repeat myself. I will say the the dumplings in Taipei don’t differ too much from Shanghai, but the meat does taste slightly different. It was my first time ordering the wontons with spicy sauce and I was totally digging the blend of garlic and chili oil. I wanted to slather it on everything I was eating.

SHAVED SNOW at Ice Monster!!!

SHAVED SNOW at Ice Monster!!!

Taiwan is famous for their shaved ice. The first time I had shaved ice in Tapei was a life-changing experience. If you get shaved ice in the U.S. or in China, they take a big block of ice and grind it into a icy pile with condensed milk and fruit/red bean/various toppings. The ice mountain doesn’t really have a lot of flavor because the condensed milk can’t really penetrate the entire ice concoction.

Taiwan Shaved Ice in Action

Taiwan Shaved Ice in Action

In Taipei, the blocks of ice are pre-flavored! You can order a variety of flavors like mango, milk tea, strawberry and so much more. They have a special machine that shaves the ice in a quick circular motion, making the ice soft like snow. That’s actually why they call it shaved snow instead of shaved ice. The bestie’s godmother recommended that we go to Ice Monster and we made a special trip hours before our flight back to Shanghai. The long line had already started to form, but I was so happy we braved the lines and heat for mango shaved snow.

Our mango shaved snow was served on a top of a bed of fresh mango chunks and mango syrup with a scoop of mango ice cream and pudding. It was the absolute perfect treat on such a hot day and I will be going back any time I go to Taipei in the future.

This is just a sneak peak of the deliciousness in Taipei and can’t wait to update you all on the rest of our trip!

Shanghai: Brunch at Madison

Madison Shanghai

Madison Shanghai

Madison (3 Fenyang Rd.) has been on my radar for a few years now and they always win awards for the best brunch in Shanghai. So when the wonderful and talented designer Han Feng invited me to brunch and let me pick the place, I knew exactly where to go.

Madison opens at 11am and I am so glad I made reservations. Walk-ins were promptly told that the entire restaurant was booked and only bar seating was available! Chef Austin Hu (who previously worked at Gramercy Taven in NY) has perfected the menu with his more refined take on American comfort brunch foods.

Madison Blueberry Lemon Muffin

Madison: Blueberry Lemon Muffin

Thank goodness Han Feng loves food as much as I do! We ordered a slew of dishes to be shared among three people. We got the cinnamon roll, blueberry lemon muffin, skillet cornbread, homemade pork sausage, chicken waffle sandwich and corned beef hash. I wish we could have ordered the entire menu. Everything sounded so good like banana-stuffed French toast, duck fat fries, scones with clotted cream, chili biscuits… the lists goes on forever.

Madison Chicken Waffle Sandwich

Madison: Chicken Waffle Sandwich

Madison’s brunch was one of the best brunches of my life. I really liked that the blueberry muffin came out piping hot. The skillet cornbread had corn, bacon, cheese in it and also was topped with Tabasco butter! The chicken waffle sandwich was two waffles as the bread, fried chicken, cheese, tomatoes, pickled onion and maple bacon aioli. I am involuntarily drooling on my keyboard right now.

Madison: Corned Beef Hash

Madison: Corned Beef Hash (look at that perfectly cooked egg)

My absolute favorite was the corned beef hash, which was served in a skillet with housemade ketchup, a fried egg and a side of bread. Corned beef hash is one of my all-time favorite dishes and I have very high standards for it. It was a perfect mixture of shredded corned beef and potatoes; the ketchup and egg really brought everything together. It was so tasty!

Madison: Cinnamon Roll, Pork Sausage and Skillet Cornbread

Madison: Cinnamon Roll, Pork Sausage and Skillet Cornbread

I thought the cornbread was also amazing, but it is key to eat it while it is hot. Otherwise, it gets kind of greasy and not as appetizing when it’s cold. While I liked the chicken waffle sandwich, I wish the waffles were slightly more crispy and also wish they had more of a buttermilk taste. Madison also has plenty of fresh juice and good coffee too!

The restaurant is in a wonderful space full of big windows and lots of light. At night, they have two restaurants side-by-side where one serves more casual food. The only downside is that this place is so popular so service is not the absolute best. I had to chase the waiter twice for our corned beef hash and cinnamon roll. But, I’m willing to deal with less-than-stellar service if I’m reunited with that corned beef hash again. I would highly recommend Madison, but it is imperative you make a reservation! This is my new “go-to place” to take out-of-town friends.

Delectable Eats in Paris: Brunch at LaDurée, Korean Food at Dawa and Verjus Bar à Vins

LaDurée Brunch

LaDurée Brunch

While I have been busy with school, I have escaped to Paris to enjoy some delicious meals. My classmate planned a really sweet all-girls brunch at the LaDurée on Champs-Élysées. There was a fire last year at this location and they just reopened in October. We were lucky to sit upstairs and see LaDurée in all its remodeled splendid glory.

Brunch at LaDuree

I call the picture on the right: “The leaning tower of treats.”

For 36.50 euro, you get orange juice or grapefruit juice; fruit salad; hot chocolate, tea or coffee; three pastries; bread rolls; three macarons; yogurt; two mini sandwiches AND scrambled eggs. Talk about a ton of food! Everything was so incredibly good and I especially loved the pastries. I had a moment at the table with my almond croissant. The only thing that was lackluster (besides the not-so-great service from our waitress) were the mini sandwiches. They were dry and pre-made. But, I definitely wasn’t running short on food. I think we all rolled ourselves home after that brunch. I know LaDurée is so touristy, but I would say it’s worth going at least once and getting the brunch. It’s a real Parisian experience sitting in this gorgeous room and drinking your tea out of delicate, pastel-colored china.

Korean Food at Paris's Dawa

Korean Food at Paris’s Dawa. Are you salivating just looking at that bibimbap?

I’ve been craving Korean food and my blogger friend, My Red Kitchen, was kind enough to introduce me to Dawa, located at 5 Rue Humblot in the 15th arrondissement. I had high hopes and Dawa met expectations. It’s a small restaurant owned by Koreans and it’s got that hole-in-the-wall feel to it. MRK and I shared hot kimchi stir-fried with thin slices of pork (also served with a cold side of tofu), japchae (stir-fried noodles with beef and vegetables) and we each ordered our own beef bibimbap (stone pot rice). I am literally obsessed with japchae and bibimbap and both dishes totally satisfied my craving. I had zero complaints about the kimchi too. We demolished our food and ate every last grain of rice and leaf of kimchi.

Bar Food at Verjus. From top to bottom: broccoli with Korean rice cakes, fried chicken, wine and shoestring fries and chicharrónes.

Bar Food at Verjus

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24-Hour Layover in San Francisco

So you have 24 hours in San Francisco and your mission is to eat. This is the exact predicament I faced last week when one of my closest and dearest friends, Tricia, came to visit me in San Francisco. I usually see Tricia once a year (maybe twice a year if I’m really lucky) because she’s getting her PhD at Johns Hopkins. It’s difficult when one of your best friends is located on the other coast of the country (Geez, Tricia. Selfish much?). Even though her family is based in the South Bay, she rarely comes up to San Francisco. On this trip home, I convinced her to take Caltrain and spend a whole day with me.

Since Caltrain is in SoMA, I wanted to explore lunch options that I had never had the opportunity to even fantasize about (SoMA is a little too far from the Financial District for a 1-hour lunch break). As soon as Tricia arrived in SF at 11:40 am, I asked, “What are your thoughts about getting fried chicken first and then getting grilled cheese sandwiches afterward?” She gleefully agreed (I consider this to be the true definition of friendship) and I whisked her away to Little Skillet. I had been DYING to try the fried chicken and waffles at Little Skillet ever since they were listed on 7×7’s “100 Things to Try Before You Die” in 2010, but they were only open for lunch and the lines were too long to be conducive for a lunch excursion.

Tricia and Little Skillet

Tricia and Little Skillet

For $6, we got 1 piece of fried chicken and 2 waffles. The fried chicken was DELICIOUS! The skin was so crispy and piping hot, but the breading wasn’t too thick. The chicken actually had taste and you could tell that it had been at least marinated in salt. I’ve eaten Tyler Florence’s fried chicken at Wayfare Tavern for $22 and it was a total letdown (I’m sorry, Tyler. Your chicken doesn’t hold a candle to Little Skillet’s chicken). I’m not a huge waffle fan and those didn’t impress me terribly. I actually thought they could have been cooked a little bit longer and been a little more crispy. I did find it interesting that the waffles actually weren’t too sweet, which I liked.

The next stop was The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. In the eloquent and poetic words of Drew Hoolhurst from Rocket Shoes, San Francisco is home to a “f*cking artisan grilled cheese store.” I know. The man can say so much in so few words.

A view into the kitchen

A view into the kitchen

Mushroom Gruyère (Left) , Smoky Tomato Soup (Middle), Mousetrap (Right)

Our Food Finally Came!

Our Food Finally Came!

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