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

Continue reading

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!

Continue reading