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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Oldie but goody



The goon was still ranting. He was, thankfully, ranting rather diplomatically, speaking in rather hushed tones, not wanting to call obvious attention to himself. Unfortunately for me and my colleague, what he lacked in volume he was more than making up for in longevity. We had been sitting together for over an hour and for at least 45 minutes, he had been ranting.

In all honesty, I enjoyed knowing the goon. He was, in so many amusing ways, like a character from a bad book or movie come to life. He chain-smoked, wore long black leather coats, considered himself both charming and handsome, and liked reminding me and my colleagues as often as possible that he knew everyone and anyone worth knowing in his home town. More importantly, he wanted us to know that we wouldn't be able to operate in his backyard without his help.

But he was also a gourmand. Over the two years we worked together, he introduced me to the very best restaurants in Venice. We got along, I think, mostly because we shared a passion for great food and wine.

The last time I saw him, however, he was pissed off. My colleague and I had agreed to have dinner with him in hopes of maintaining good personal relations and also answering some of his questions. Big mistake. The dinner turned into a 90 minute long complaint session which turned from painful to tedious to almost farcical. Farcical because by the end of the night the goon was practically threatening our organization. The only saving grace of the evening was that, as usual, the goon had brought us to an amazing place for dinner. The shoebox-sized restaurant was on a small, narrow street near Saint Mark's Square. It specialized in steak, which in a city famous for seafood, made it a rare gem. The food was good, so good in fact that after awhile, I began to pay less and less attention to the ranting Italian sitting opposite me.

Still, it is kind of hard to ignore someone telling you that your company and your country is now his enemy, no matter how politely he was trying to say it. Dessert, however, did the trick. Once our main courses were cleared, the goon insisted I order Vini Da Arturo's tiramisu. He said it was the best in Venice. And then he went back to complaining. He was right though. It was easily the best tiramisu I had eaten in the city that had given birth to this popular dessert. In fact, it was the best I've ever eaten in my life. I dare say that it's the best tiramisu on the planet. It was also not your traditional tiramisu because it lacked the usual ladyfinger cookies. It was just cream... gloriously rich, sweet, delicious cream scooped on a plate and sprinkled with chocolate. But the cream was so good that despite everything else that was going on that night, I was in heaven.




Tiramisu has kind of a bad rep. It's mostly because the dessert is way too commonly served at bad Italian restaurants around the world. It's also one of the first desserts amateur cooks try their hands at making. I'm no different. I made my first tiramisu in college, using a recipe that came free with a bottle of Godiva liquor that I had just purchased. I can't remember if that tiramisu was any good, but I do remember enjoying every last drop of that chocolate-based booze.

Since tasting the tiramisu at Vini Da Arturo, I've been reminded that this Italian "pick me up" doesn't have to be boring. If done well, it can be as good, as amazing, and as satisfying as any magically complex confection concocted by Pierre Hermé. It can even distract you from threats made by chain-smoking half-drunk goons.

Vini Da Arturo
San Marco 3656, Calle degli Assassini
Tel: 041 528 69 74

Tiramisu
This recipe is from The Silver Spoon. I like it because it doesn't call for alcohol. I'm not a big fan of boozy desserts. Plus, I've discovered that the traditional recipe for this dessert didn't have the marsala wine that so many people think it requires.

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1.25 cups confectioner's sugar
1.75 cups mascarpone cheese
7 ounces ladyfingers
3/4 cup freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Stiffly whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar in another bowl until pale and fluffy. Gently fold in the mascarpone, then the egg whites. Make a layer of ladyfingers on the base of a deep, rectangular serving dish and then brush evenly with coffee. Cover with a layer of the mascarpone cream and sprinkle with a little of the grated chocolate. Continue making layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with a layer of the mascarpone cream. Dust with cocoa and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Stripping: cooking with dogs 101

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What the gals eat



Singapore is famous for many things, but the thing our country is most famous for is its food. And of all the wonderful local dishes that people love eating here, no one dish may be more beloved than "chicken rice". I have to admit that while I like chicken rice tremendously, it's not my favourite local food -- I'd rather have char kuay teow or fish head curry. But it has been the preferred local food of almost every local woman I've dated, including my beloved wife S. Sometimes, it even feels like the only thing Singaporean girls want to eat is chicken rice. The first girl I dated here didn't want to eat anything else when we went out. For another, chicken rice was comfort food, something to eat when she needed a pick-me-up or a taste of home. S loves chicken rice for its simple, delicate and delicious flavours. She also likes it because, compared to a lot of other local dishes (like the ones I love), it's relatively healthy. Well, at least the chicken is. After all, it's boiled.

For the uninitiated, chicken rice is boiled chicken, served at room temperature, paired with rice that's been cooked with chicken stock, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. The chicken and rice are eaten with 2 sauces, dark soy sauce and a chili sauce that's been flavoured with freshly minced ginger.



Our favourite chicken rice purveyor is what S calls, "the great undiscovered chicken rice stall". Because while it is popular, it is not one of the more well-known or famous ones. It has also not, as far as we know, been written up or included in any of the major guides to Singapore. It does, though, serve up what we feel is the best chicken rice in town. We've brought several major foodies, both amateur and professional, to try it and all have been impressed. Some have also become regulars. The chicken served at the unimaginatively-named Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice is tender and juicy. It's served with a bit of the chicken's natural juices (some say that this addition is very Cantonese), which keeps everything moist. In addition to the chicken meat, S always asks for an order of chicken livers. These are done beautifully here. Unlike most other places that overcook their livers, these are served deliciously tender, almost creamy. One food writer we shared these with likened it to a platter of low-cost foie gras. The rice here is also good, well-flavored and aromatic. Another local food writer liked it so much he ate two bowls on his very first visit. For those of you intending to drop by, we recommend having your chicken rice with an avocado shake. There are two stalls in the same lane that prepare this rich, creamy and yummy drink.

Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Alexandra Village, Blk 120
Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-15
Singapore 150120

For readers further afield, I recommend trying to make your own chicken rice. Below is the recipe S included in Lonely Planet's World Food Guide: Malaysia & Singapore. It's based on a recipe that a friend passed her and that she's been tweaking over the years. Enjoy!

Hainanese chicken rice
Serves 4

1 fresh whole chicken (about 1kg)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs light soya sauce
1 tsp Chinese rice wine
2 pieces of ginger, each 1-inch thick, lightly bruised with the back of a knife
1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly bruised
1 spring onion
1 tsp sesame oil

For the rice
2 cups long grain jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (obtained from cooking the chicken; see recipe)
chicken fat (from preparing the whole chicken; see recipe)
1 Tbs finely minced ginger
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 pandanus leaf, tied into a knot

Chilli and ginger sambal
10 fresh red chillies, seeds removed from half, chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs peeled and chopped ginger
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1Tbs chicken stock (obtained from cooking the chicken; see recipe)
salt, to taste
sugar, to taste
calamansi juice, to taste

To serve
1 cucumber, halved length-wise and thinly sliced
sprigs of coriander
dark soy sauce
salt
ground white pepper
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Remove the fat from the cavity of the chicken and set aside for use in flavouring the rice later. Vigorously rub the cavity and exterior with salt. Then rub the chicken cavity with 1/2 tablespoon of the soy sauce and all of the rice wine. Stuff the cavity with ginger, garlic and spring onion. Set aside for 1 hour (not in the fridge).

Bring a deep stockpot, filled with enough water to cover the chicken, to the boil. Lower the chicken into the pot—it should be completely immersed. Immediately turn off the heat, cover, and leave to stand for 1 hour. At 15-minute intervals, lift the chicken and drain the water from the cavity to ensure that the chicken cooks inside as well. At the 30-minute mark, reheat the water almost to boiling point, then turn the heat off. Never having been allowed to boil, the chicken should be cooked to succulent and juicy perfection.

At the end of the hour, remove the chicken from the pot, and plunge into a large bowl of iced water to arrest further cooking. Once cool (about 15 to 20 minutes), drain the chicken thoroughly. Rub it down with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce and sesame oil. Snip off the chicken wing tips, neck, and legs. Toss these into the liquid left in the stockpot. Set the chicken aside, covered, until ready to serve.

To prepare the rice, rinse it in a sieve under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly. Bring the pot with the chicken stock to the boil, simmering until the liquid is reduced to about 5 cups, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Strain the stock. Measure out 2 1/2 cups for cooking the rice. Set the rest aside. Place the chicken fat set aside earlier in a medium saucepan. Cook on a low heat to render the fat (there should be about 3 tablespoons worth). Add the ginger and garlic, and fry gently until aromatic without browning. Add the drained rice and sesame oil, stirring well to coat each grain with fat. Add the 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock to the rice, and bring to the boil. Add the pandanus leaf and salt. Simmer briskly until there is no water left on the surface of the rice. Clamp the lid of the saucepan on tightly, and immediately reduce the heat to the lowest. Leave for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, and allow the rice to stand for another 10 minutes before uncovering. Alternatively, after frying the rice, place it in a rice cooker with the pandanus leaf and salt. Substitute chicken stock for the amount of water you would ordinarily add to cook the same amount of rice.

For the chilli and ginger sambal, process or blend the chillies, garlic and ginger to a fine paste, adding the oil and chicken stock (from what was reserved earlier) to facilitate the process. Scrape into a bowl. Stir in salt, sugar and lime juice to taste. Dish some into 4 individual saucers.

When ready to serve, chop the chicken Chinese-style into bite-sized pieces with skin and bone intact. Place on a serving platter over the sliced cucumber. Garnish with sprigs of coriander. Dish some dark soy sauce into 4 individual saucers. Bring the remaining chicken stock back to the boil. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Ladle into 4 small soup bowls and garnish with the sliced spring onions. For each serving, pack a small bowl with rice, then invert rice onto a plate. Each person gets a plate of aromatic rice, a bowl of shimmering chicken broth, and 2 small dishes of dipping sauces—the chilli and ginger sambal, and the dark soy sauce. Everyone helps himself or herself to the platter of Hainanese chicken placed in the centre of the table.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Le Papillon



I first met chef Anderson Ho in 1998. He and another young chef named Jimmy Chok were at the helm of a fantastic little restaurant called Fig Leaf. I loved eating there. These two young chefs prepared lovely European and fusion dishes. The food was good. It wasn't too refined or sophisticated, but it was delicious.

After his stint at Fig Leaf, Anderson (unlike his partner Jimmy, who went on to run and work in a number of well-reviewed restaurants) disappeared from Singapore's restaurant scene. Instead of moving to another restaurant, Anderson accepted a position with SATS, the in-flight catering company responsible for the meals served on Singapore Airlines, as well as many other airlines. I remember my disappointment when I heard about his decision to work at SATS. I liked Anderson's cooking and I couldn't believe that the only way I'd get to eat something prepared by him was by buying a ticket on SQ. Fortunately for us Anderson fans, in 2003, he and his award-winning photographer brother Edmond, produced a deliciously beautiful cookbook. Menu Degustation is a treasure trove of innovative fusion recipes. My wife S and I have enjoyed cooking many of the dishes found within its pages. And, through this book, we've become even bigger fans of Anderson's. So, you can only imagine our glee when we found out earlier this year that Anderson was finally returning to a restaurant kitchen. He and his brother have opened a small, bright and peaceful Modern French place called Le Papillon, located in the new Red Dot Traffic Building.




I've had quite a few meals at Le Papillon since it opened on 8 May 2006. All of them have been good, with some better than others. S and I went back again for lunch this past Monday. We had a small but lovely meal. S started with one of her favorite dishes here, marinated goat cheese with pesto on watermelon and Pedro Ximenez reduction (pictured top left above). This is something she's had every time we've visited Le Papillon. She tried it on our very first visit and she's ordered it ever since. The combination, while unexpected, is very good. It's sweet, tart, juicy, crisp and cool. I started with sautéed Hokkaido scallops served with an herb risotto, asparagus and morel mushrooms (pictured top right above). This is a nice, hearty and tasty dish. For her main, S had another of our favorites, Anderson's confit of crispy pork belly and sautéed tiger prawns on green tea mousse, served with a rocket and spinach salad (pictured at the very beginning of this post). For my main, I had a roasted king fish with slow-cooked oxtail, truffle cream and herbed mashed potato (pictured bottom left above). Both these dishes are very good. The pork is succulent; the meat is soft and skin crispy. The prawns are cooked perfectly and the mousse full of flavor. The fish is nice and light. And paired with the oxtail and mashed potato the dish takes on a rich sensuality. Another favorite main course is Anderson's beef tenderloin served with what he calls an oxtail parcel -- braised oxtail wrapped in Filo pastry. As you might already surmise, all of these dishes are duos of sorts. i.e. dishes composed of two equally delicious propositions. And this is something that I like very much about the food at Le Papillon. Anderson pairs ingredients expertly, creating the kind of food that I'd love to be able to cook for friends. Over the years, Anderson's food has become more mature. It is cleaner and more refined than it used to be. And somehow both simpler and more sophisticated. I envy his technical skills tremendously. And, because almost every dish on his menu sounds great to me, I am very inspired by his palette.

Anderson and his restaurant show great promise. If he and his team can iron out a few understandable opening kinks (and upgrade the desserts, which while good are not as good as the rest of the food), it could quickly become one of Singapore's top tables.

Le Papillon
28 Maxwell Road, #01-02, Red Dot Traffic Building.
Tel: 6327-4177.
www.le-papillon.com.sg

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Quick prawns and rice



After a really long day at work, the last thing that either S, my lovely wife, or I want to do is spend more than a couple hours slaving away in the kitchen making dinner. While we often enjoy spending our weekends prepping ingredients and putting together elaborate meals for friends, most weekdays we simply can't muster the energy or enthusiasm for anything too difficult. That said, as self-described greedy gourmets, we also want to eat really good, well-made food. Over the years, we've enjoyed scouring hundreds of cookbooks for yummy recipes that take no less than 30-40 minutes to prepare. Some books, like Thomas Keller's French Laundry, have close to none. Some have a few and others, like Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food, are filled with them. Gary Rhodes' Keeping It Simple is another such book. S picked up this gorgeous hardback a couple of months ago. It's a great book for beginner cooks as well as more advanced ones. The former group will love how easy the recipes are to follow. They're neither too elaborate nor do they call for too many ingredients. They don't take too long to make and the steps are very clearly explained. The latter group will like this book because the dishes in it are photographed beautifully and sound yummy. Many of these advanced cooks probably won't need to follow the recipes item by item or step by step. But they will find them inspiring.

S and I were similarly inspired by Rhodes' "tiger prawns with a leek and mozzarella risotto". The combination of freshly grilled prawns and rich, cheesy risotto really appealed to us. After a quick read through his recipe, we started working on fashioning our own version. Instead of grilling the prawns with olive oil, as Rhodes recommends, we pan-fried ours with garlic. Similarly, we tweaked his risotto, substituting white wine with vermouth, replacing the onion with extra leeks, and increasing the amount of mozzarella in it. The dish was a breeze to make. From start to finish, it took no more than 40 minutes. Perfect for an after-work meal.

prawns with a leek and mozzarella risotto
feeds 2 as a main course or 4 as starters

12-16 prawns, peeled
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 leeks, cleaned and julienned
100g arborio rice
2 tablespoons vermouth
350ml chicken stock, heated
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 small round of mozzarella, grated or chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan, grated
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium-sized pot. When bubbling, add the julienned leeks and cook over medium heat until soft. Then add the rice and stir, toasting the rice slowly. Then add the vermouth and let the alcohol bubble for a bit, until the alcohol smells burn off. Then lower the heat and add about one to two ladles of chicken stock. Let the stock reduce and then add another ladle or two. Repeat until all the stock has been added to the rice and is reduced. All the stock should be absorbed by the rice. Then add 1 more tablespoon of butter, the mozzarella and the parmesan. Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and let cook for a little less than minute. Don't let the garlic burn. Then add the prawns, a pinch or two of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until just cooked.

When serving, add the parsley to the risotto and spoon into a shallow bowl or plate. Place the garlic prawns over the risotto and enjoy.

Friday, June 09, 2006

South China Morning Post



It's always flattering to be interviewed by a member of the press. But it's also potentially embarrassing and always just a little terrifying. Because no matter how articulate you think you are, there's always a chance that you're going to come across as a total idiot when the article finally comes out. Fortunately, The South China Morning Post's Susan Jung did a good job of making me seem smarter than I actually am. Susan wrote a rather long feature which ran on Thursday, 8 June 2006, on Restaurant Magazine's survey of the world's best restaurants and the lack of Asian restaurants in it, something which I've also written about in the past. She interviewed me for this piece and also very kindly talked about (and promoted) my little attempt to rally readers together and vote on Asia-Pacific's best restaurants. Susan also interviewed John Krich from the Asian Wall Street Journal and Grant Thatcher, founder of the uber-cool Luxe guides, two guys I really respect, for this story.

Please click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

stripping

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The best way to cook tuna



Don't. Don't cook it. Because tuna, I believe, should be eaten raw. Cooked tuna, for the most part, to me at least, isn't appetizing. A grilled tuna steak, while popular in many places, turns me off. Cooking tuna usually turns this succulent, soft, and delicious fish into a hard, tough and tasteless thing. Searing tuna is a trendy attempt by chefs to reach a compromise between serving the fish raw, as it should be, and cooked, which is how far too many of their guests expect their fish to be served. I'm not one for seared tuna. For one, it's far too chi-chi. And more importantly, unless you're searing an incredibly fatty piece of toro, I don't really think the process adds any additional or necessary flavor to the fish.

The best way to eat a great, fresh and fatty piece of tuna is raw, with some wasabi and soy sauce -- sashimi-style. Another good way, albeit also very trendy these days, is to have it in a tartare. The method of preparing tartares dates back to the Mongols, who brought the dish to Russia during the 13th century (when they invaded). Later, the German port of Hamburg received ships that visited Russia. The sailors brought back with them what they began to call "tartare steak". Even later, ships from Hamburg brought a cooked version to New York. This, as you can guess, is where hamburgers came from.

A tartare is essentially a mixture of a finely chopped raw meat and a number of other ingredients. Sort of like really yummy baby food.

Ever since my wife S and I got a copy of Nancy Oakes' cookbook Boulevard, I've wanted to make her Trio of Tuna Tartares. They sounded and looked delicious. The first one is a jalapeno and ginger tartare (pictured at bottom left in the photo). The second is what Ms Oakes calls a spicy red chili tartare (top left). The third is a shiitake and white soy tartare (the one on the right). While relatively easy to make, I discovered a small problem with Ms Oakes' recipes. Basically, the quantity of other ingredients she calls for is far too much for the amount of tuna she requires for each tartare. I found myself tweaking each recipe substantially, cutting back on some ingredients while substituting a few others.

The end results, fortunately, were very good. We used a combination of toro (fatty tuna) and normal tuna. S enjoyed the shiitake and white soy tartare best. I liked them all. If asked to choose a favorite, I'd probably say the jalapeno and ginger tartare. I liked the combination of jalapeno peppers, ginger, sweet chili sauce, lime and avocado. We served the tartares with deep-fried wonton skins. These tartares are excellent as starters or canapés. The leftovers are also fantastic served over a bowl of piping hot rice.

Trio of Tuna Tartares
Serves 8

Jalapeno and ginger tartare
170g sashimi-grade tuna, diced finely
3 small jalapeno peppers, seeded, deribbed and diced
1/2 tablespoon grated young ginger
4 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
1.5 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 ripe avocado
juice of half a lime

Combine the tuna, jalapeno, ginger, oil, chili sauce, soy and vinegar in a bowl. Mash the avocado in another small bowl and add the lime juice. Stir this into the tuna mixture.

Spicy red chili tartare
170g sashimi-grade tuna, diced finely
2/3 cup Japanese mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Chinese garlic chili paste (we used a chicken rice chili sauce)
1 sac of mentaiko
1 teaspoon spicy cucumber oil (optional)

Cut the mentaiko sac open and scrape all the roe into a bowl. Combine all the other ingredients in the bowl and mix well.

Shiitake and soy tartare
170g sashimi grade tuna, diced finely
150g fresh shiitake mushroom, stems removed and diced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon mixed black and white sesame seeds, toasted

Put the grape seed oil in frying pan and heat. Mix the diced shiitake with the soy and sesame oil. Pour the shiitake, soy and sesame oil into the grape seed oil and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and tender. Set aside and let cool. Stir this together with the tuna, scallions and sesame seeds.

I found that prepping the tartares ahead of time and letting them sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two before serving really helps the flavors come together.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Asia Pacific Best Restaurants List - My nominations



Well, it's time for bloggers to nominate what they feel are the best and their personal favorite restaurants in Asia-Pacific. Non-bloggers still have until 12 June 2006 to email me (aun@chubbyhubby.net) their own nominations. For more info on the Asia Pacific Best Restaurants List and how to take part, please click here. While I've been totally thrilled at the response so far, a good survey requires as many entries as possible. So, please take a few minutes to read about this survey and vote.

It's time for my own nominations, which I am going to qualify by admitting, rather sheepishly, that I don't know some countries, like Japan and India, as well as I should. Which is why I don't have any restaurants from these countries on my list.

2 best in Singapore

Iggy's. What more can be said about this amazing over-the-counter restaurant. Exquisite, tiny plates of gustatory heaven; perfect service; fine wines poured by the glass; and the nicest restaurateur husband and wife team in town.

Hua Ting. This Cantonese restaurant in the Orchard Hotel serves fantastic Chinese food. While there are flashier Chinese restaurants in town, none are as consistently good as this always packed crowd-pleaser.

Favorite in Singapore

Hu Cui. I love this sleek Shanghainese restaurant owned by the Crystal Jade group. With its cool decor and gorgeous food, Hu Cui never disappoints me. This is where I retreat to when I need a pick-me-up, want to celebrate a special occasion or simply want a delicious meal. S and I especially like the small tables for 2, with leather armchairs in the back of the restaurant, near the bar.

3 best in Asia-Pacific (excluding Singapore)

Tetsuya's. I can't not put Tetsuya Wakuda's eponymous, Sydney-based restaurant on this list. I really admire Tetsuya. He's not only a creative genius, he's a creative genius whose cookbook is remarkably accessible and easy to use. Dinner in his restaurant is a once in a lifetime experience that every foodie must have. Course after course of amazingly inventive and mouth-watering dishes are served in what must be one of the most serene restaurants in the world.

La Petite Cuisine. It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Justin Quek. Justin has really taken his cooking to the next level since moving from Singapore to Taipei. What really delights me is his dedication to sussing out the very best and freshest local Taiwanese produce. Using his very refined skills, he's able to transform these ingredients into gorgeously simple, light and elegant Modern French fare.

Gaddi's. I was really blown away by Chef David Goodridge when I dined in this old and famous French restaurant in the Peninsula Hong Kong. Goodridge, formerly of Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, Pierre Gagniare and Maison Troisgros, has given life to this grande old dame. His cooking is refined. It's clean. It's highly competent. And it's beautiful. The dishes he creates are works of art, to be admired and then consumed hungrily. I wish I could afford to eat here more often.

2 favorite in Asia-Pacific (excluding Singapore)

Yu'u. I love this over-the-counter Japanese hole in the wall in Melbourne. I was so enchanted with it on my first trip that I went back just 2 days later. The food here is very reasonably priced. It's also cooked perfectly. I was so enamored with many of the dishes here that I tried replicating them as soon as I got home.

Buon Ricordo. If anyone were to ask me what would be the last dish I would want to eat before I die, my answer would be the truffled egg pasta from this fabulous Italian restaurant in Sydney. I try to make a pilgrimage to Buon Ricordo as often as possible. Of course, the truffled egg pasta isn't the only thing divine here. Everything is fantastic.

Well, those are my nominations. I'm totally excited to read those of my fellow bloggers. I'll be trying to compile a list of which bloggers did take part and post a round-up /list as soon as possible. And of course, I still need your vote. So, quick, stop whatever it is you're doing. Spend the next 10 minutes thinking about the best meals you've had in Asia-Pacific and then email me.