Thursday, 26 April 2012

Red Skye Restaurant

On the third day of our Scottish holiday, my housemate and I embarked on a scenic route towards the beautiful Isle of Skye via Kyle of Lockhalsh.

Eilean Donan Castle

We passed by the famous Eilean Donan Castle in the Village of Dornie.

This place was exceptionally beautiful where the castle was set on still, clear- blue water with a magnificent backdrop of mountains and blue sky.

Luib, Isle of Skye

Then we continued on our journey cross the Skye Bridge into scenic Isle of Skye. It felt like we were in an entirely different world.

God's creation is just so magnificent and beautiful!

Elgol, Isle of Skye

With this beautiful backdrop, we chose to dine in a family-run restaurant located in Broadford  - one of the largest town in Isle of Skye.

Red Skye Restaurant - offering fresh and locally sourced Scottish produce.

Red Skye Restaurant

This restaurant is run by a very friendly couple. As soon as we parked our car, the lady owner pulled up behind us and gave us an enthusiastic wave.

When we got into the restaurant, the chef/owner gave us a very warm welcome from behind the pass of his kitchen.


As Scotland is well-known for its seafood, we went for the seafood dishes on the menu.

To start......

Crayfish Tail

My housemate went for the Succulent Crayfish Tails served on leaves and topped with marie rose sauce.

True to its name, the crayfish tails were indeed very succulent and fresh!

It has a very subtle sweetness and the lovely marie rose sauce (a bit like tartar sauce/mayonnaise) with a squeeze of lemon juice was just simply delicious!


I had the Local Langoustines with Salad Leaves and Garlic Mayo.

Believe me, it was the largest langoustines that I have ever seen, they were as big as a small lobster!

After cracking the langoustine shell, I extracted the lovely langoustine meat which was triple the size of my thumb!

It was so fresh, succulent and sweet; dipped into the garlic mayonnaise, it was just heavenly!

To follow......

Pan-seared Salmon

I went for the dish on the board - Pan-seared Salmon with a White Wine, Safron and Crayfish Cream Sauce.

The very fresh salmon was perfectly seared. Sweet, meaty fish filled with Omega-3 oil, it was absolutely delicious!

The white wine, saffron and crayfish cream sauce was out of this world! It was so nice that the plate was almost squeaky clean when I was done with my main course.

NB: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world for a very good reason. It added so much aroma to the sauce.

What looked like a very simple dish was made with much effort and attention to details as it had really well balanced flavours.


My housemate had the Fillet of Seabass Dressed with Japanese Breadcrumbs, Golden Fried and served on Garlic and Lemon Crushed Potatoes with a tomato salsa.

To me, this is a very posh plate of 'fish & chips' (in a good way).

Using Japanese breadcrumbs instead of the usual batter gave the fish a very delicate coating and reduced the risk of having thick floury coating.

The crunchy Japanese breadcrumbs also gave the soft Seabass a different layer of texture.

The salsa with acidic tomatoes and sweet/bitter capsicum nicely complimented the well-cooked Seabass.

Again, the acidic favour coming through the lemon crushed potatoes was just perfect for the fish dish.

10 out of 10 for flavours combination on this dish!

To follow......

Chocolate Fondant

I could not resist chocolate fondant for dessert, so I ordered the Chocolate Fondant with Isle of Skye Puff Candy Ice-cream.

The warm chocolate fondant with liquid chocolate flowing out as soon as I cut into it was very delicious.

The puff candy ice-cream was also very unique, not too sweet (which went well with the sweet fondant) and it has a very nice crunch from the crushed candies!

Creme Brulee

My housemate went for the Homemade Creme Brulee with Butter Shortbread and Strawberry.

What is so special about a Creme Brulee? Well, I must say that it is not easy to make a GOOD Creme Brulee.

This one was very nicely made. Silky smooth cream baked to perfection, even the top was nicely caramelised to give a thin layer of hard caramel.

It was so nice that we could have ordered another one!

Overall, a very nice dining experience. I could not fault the service provided and the excellent food offered in this place! Food made from fresh and good quality ingredients really does make a big difference!

I would definitely come again if I had the opportunity!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A Room In The Town

Right in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, lies a rustic little restaurant called A Room In The Town (part of the Teuchters group).

View of Edinburgh Castle from hotel room

The inside of the restaurant looks like a pub and has plenty of characters.

This place provides a relaxed ambience and serves high quality Scottish produce at an affordable price.

Restaurant Interior

Bread and Butter

Scotland is well known for it's plentiful seafood, so we naturally went for the seafood dishes offered on the menu!

To start......


We had the Crab Mayonnaise with Lemon and Coriander, Smokey Corn Tortilla Crisps.

The crab meat was very fresh and sweet.

The flavours of lemon and coriander were well-balanced to compliment the crab meat while not over-powering it, and I just loved the Tortilla crisps which added a different texture and flavour to the dish.

To follow......


We ordered the Isle of Gigha Halibut on Seared Shetland Scallops with Parma Ham Tuilles, Stornoway Black Pudding and Vermouth Cream.

Again, Scottish-sourced fish which was exceptionally fresh.

The halibut was perfectly cooked and well-seasoned, served with a wonderful Vermouth cream sauce. Loved the juicy and succulent fish meat. Absolutely delicious!

A classic pairing of pan-seared scallops and black pudding was also part of this dish. I would not normally try black-pudding but gave it a go anyway and surprisingly found that it did not have a very strong taste to it.

The scallops were perfectly seared with a nice, crispy brown surface while the middle was just a thin line between raw and cooked.

The subtle sweet richness of the very fresh scallops were just mouth-mouthwatering!


Excellent, high quality food in a beautiful city, what more can I ask for?

Many thanks to Pamella and Fraser for choosing this wonderful place and for the dinner.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Hibiscus is the name of a flower, in fact, the national flower of Malaysia. However, in this blog, I am referring to the name of a restaurant.

In celebration of my housemate's birthday, we reserved a table for lunch in this 2 Michelin Starred restaurant in London called Hibiscus.

By the sound of the restaurant name, we first thought that it serves Asian-inspired dishes. But we soon found that the chef had Classical French training hence the restaurant serves French/British cuisine with a twist of Asian influence (what we gathered from the menu).

Tucked in the middle of Maddox Street, London, it took us some effort to find but we finally found it with a quick phone-call to the restaurant.


Upon entering the restaurant, we felt drawn into a rather posh place with minimalistic design. It is quite a small restaurant with only 15 tables available, therefore booking well in advance is highly recommended.

As soon as we sat down, we were given the menus and plates of homemade pork scratchings.

Then we were served complimentary glass of white wine each - courtesy of booking through


Like any other fine dining or Michelin starred restaurants, the menu here offer few but exciting and delicious sounding dishes from start to finish!

After placing our orders, we were served with this wonderful complimentary Aperitif - Pineapple cream and Hibiscus juice.

Complimentary Aperitif 

The citrus-y and slightly sour pineapple cream cut through the very fragrant hibiscus juice which had a bit of fizz in it. A pretty nice Aperitif to start our meal.


I just could not resist taking photo of the very cute butter - sphere is unsalted and cube is salted.

To start......


My friend had the Royale of Amalfi Lemon, Toasted Pine Nuts New Season Wild Garlic Veloute.

The dish looked beautiful and I can imagine that it presents lots of different flavours and textures. I am sure my friend enjoyed the taste of it as much as the looks of it.

Cornish Crab

My housemate and I went for the Cornish Crab, Rhubarb, Cardamom and Cucumber.

The wonderful ingredients were beautifully arranged on the plate and looked very inviting.

Surprisingly, the cardamom did not over-power the delicate flavour of the crab whilst the cucumber added a freshness to the combination.

The ever increasingly popular rhubarb used in this dish was nicely treated and again, did not over-power the crab but instead added some sweet/acidic flavour to the dish.

A delicious starter with very well-balanced flavours and textures - definitely a Michelin star standard dish!

Hibiscus Knife

To follow......

Crispy Plantation Pork Belly

All three of us went for the Crispy Plantation Pork Belly Cooked in Hay. Peas 'a la Francaise', Smoked Bacon, Pink Grapefruit.

A wonderful aroma hit us as soon as our main course arrived.

A beautiful piece of pork belly resting on a bed of  brightly coloured sauce and peas.

As soon as I sliced through the pork belly with my knife, we could hear the wonderful 'crackling' sound from the crispy skin. The pork belly was very well-flavoured and cooked to perfection that the meat and the fat layer melted in our mouth.

The buttery and creamy sauce with the nicely cooked peas and crispy bacon not only added different flavours to the dish, they also added different textures.

The pink grapefruit was just the 'icing on the cake' as the acidity and slight bitterness of the fruit nicely cut through the richness of the pork.

To finish......

Asparagus, Olive & Sorbet

To finish my lunch, I went for the  Asparagus Cream, Candied Black Olives, Whey and Coconut Sorbet as it sounded really unusual with a unique combination of ingredients for a dessert.

Again, a beautifully presented dish.

The asparagus cream was slightly salty and the candied black olives were slightly towards the sweet side. The whey and coconut sorbet was really refreshing and had a sweetness which complimented the asparagus cream and olives really well.

The coconut meringue (with a sprinkle of black olives powder) added a layer of texture to the entire dish.

Personally, I think this is a pretty special dessert more inclined towards a savoury rather than a sweet dish.

Blood Orange and Marjoram Givre

My friends had the Blood Orange and Marjoram Givre.

They looked pretty cute with nicely piped orange cream stuffed inside the blood orange shell and served with some toffee-look-alike sponge cake.

The cream was pretty nice but the blood orange flesh and the skin (recommended to try by the waitress) was so bitter that my friends weren't impressed at all.

A rather disappointing dessert with a restaurant of this stature (not to mention the price).

Overall, a very good lunch experience in the very first Michelin starred restaurant I ever visited.

I could see great efforts being put into the flavour combinations, textures and presentations, combined with attention to details is what make this a Michelin starred restaurant!

PS: Where other restaurants give chocolates/sweets with the bill. Hibiscus gave freshly made Madeleines (peanut, coconut and almond flavours) - still piping hot and very delicious!


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Waterloo Gardens Teahouse

In the UK, when you mention afternoon tea, scones and clotted cream usually comes into mind. Teas, cakes and sandwiches also come into the picture.

The last time I had proper afternoon tea was at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge and the Grosvenor House Hotel, Mayfair.

So, I was pretty excited when friends and colleagues told me about this cafe in Cardiff that serves afternoon tea on a 3-tier stand!

This little cafe or teahouse - The Waterloo Gardens Teahouse, is not located at the 'famous' Waterloo in London, but is aptly named after the street where it's located, called Waterloo Gardens in Penylan, Cardiff.

According to the teahouse's website, one can only reserve a table by pre-booking afternoon teas, and we soon found out the reason why when we arrived at the place.

Signboard Outside Cafe

View from our table

The place was filled with people enjoying their teas and cakes, people standing by the counter and people queueing up to wait for free tables!

Busy afternoon

As you can see on the wall behind the bar, the shelves are filled with pots of teas for sale to the public. You can buy "fine artisan tea from award winning estates around the world from this tiny little teahouse!

Tea Menu

Faced with a very extensive list of different teas that I can choose from the rather thick tea menu, I chose the award-winning Lychee Oolong. For me, fruity teas never fail to impress with their subtle sweetness complimenting the fragrant Oolong.


I was wondering why every table had this colourful hourglass and soon found out that it was to time how long different teas should brew in the teapots!

3-Tier Stand and Tea Set

3- Tier Stand

Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam

Top tier consists of the clotted cream and raspberry jam for the miniature scones found in middle tier.

Scone and Coffee & Tia Maria Cake

Middle tier carries the miniature scones and slices of Coffe & Tia Maria cakes.

Finger Sandwiches

The bottom tier then holds the finger sandwiches including Mixed Vegetable Sandwich, Cheddar Cheese and Tomato Chutney Sandwich and Salmon with Soft Cheese Sandwich.

Normally, we start with the savoury food, hence the sandwiches. I thought the sandwiches were nice and normal, a far cry from being exceptionally impressive.

After finishing the savoury foods, we proceeded to the scones. I thought the scones were tiny and baked a bit too long as they have gone rather hard and dry. However, a big dollop of my favourite clotted cream just about saved the day. I must say that the cream tea (scones and cream) I had in Dartmouth was way better although it is unfair to compare scones here vs. those served in a Michelin starred restaurant. But even the cream tea in a normal cafe @ Cotswolds was nicer.

Then we continued on to the sweet cakes - Coffee & Tia Maria Cake. I liked this cake as it was very moist. The cake has a nice coffee flavoured buttercream, a very subtle Tia Maria flavour infused in the coffee flavoured sponge.

A rather rich cake but a sip of my Lychee Oolong tea just nicely cut through the richness of it.

Although this afternoon tea has not achieved the elegance and attention to details of those offered in Berkeley and Grosvenor House but this was very well compensated with a considerably lower price of GBP11.50 (compared to GBP35-40 at the other two establishments).

In conclusion, I would picture afternoon tea at this place as "like having sandwiches, cakes and tea in any other cafe" but served on a 3-tier stand and a tea set. But I do like the friendly atmosphere of this place as long as I don't have to wait in an amazingly long queue for a free table!

On a note, I found it rather difficult to enjoy my afternoon tea when the chairs are higher than the table! 

Saturday, 7 April 2012


If you are wondering what .CN is, it is the name of a fairly new restaurant in Cardiff.

Opened about 2 years ago in City Road, this restaurant boast Authentic Chinese Food. They serve food in their restaurant and they also do takeaways. I heard that they even have Karaoke rooms upstairs if you like singing in private!

But this time, we were only interested in the food.

Now, China is a huge country with so many different provinces that the food they eat can be so different from each other from North to South and from East to West. According to the restaurant website, they offer food from the Northern Provinces of China, in particular the Szechuan Province. It is known that, whenever people hear Szechuan food, it means super hot and spicy! That is also one of the reasons why I waited so long before visiting this place (I can't take food which is tooooo spicy!).

They also offer the traditional Chinese Hot Pot in the restaurant but we went for the a la carte this time.

There were so much to offer on the menu that we decided on these five dishes including vegetables, meat, fish and squid.

Pan Fried Dumplings

First up, we had the Pan Fried Dumplings. I was surprised to see the presentation of it, Chinese Dumplings looking like a pancake is new stuff for me!

I thought Chinese dumplings usually look different as shown here.

Nevertheless, dumplings are still dumplings when they are made of minced pork enveloped in flour 'skin', dipped into Chinese black vinegar.

Nicely pan-fried to give a crispy skin, coupled with well-marinated mince, I am happy.

Steamed Seabass 红烧鲈鱼

Then the Steamed Seabass arrived, basked in dark, sticky sauce and garnished with some spring onions.

This dish is actually a common dish within Chinese households where the fish is normally steamed or braised in a nice spicy sauce filled with ginger, chillies and spring onions.

The fish was nicely fried, giving a crunchy texture and the sauce was tasty although not as spicy as I thought it would be.

My housemate cooked this dish before - Spicy Seabream, and personally, I thought it was much better tasting, and better looking.

Northeast China Salad 五彩大拉皮

As for the vegetable dish, we ordered the Northeast China Salad.

I thought it looked beautiful with many different colours.

This salad dish is made of julienne carrots, cucumbers, shredded pork, flat rice noodles (made of rice flour), shredded omelette and some parsley. The dressing for this salad is a type of peanut sauce. Everything on the plate was mixed together before being served.

I love the different textures and flavours of this salad with the sweet shredded pork and delicious peanut dressing - wonderful!

Salt and Pepper Squid 椒盐鲜鱿鱼

The Salt and Pepper Squid (deep fried) was amazing!

I love the crunch with each bite, well seasoned with salt and pepper, and the perfectly cooked squid which was not too chewy and not too hard.

I must say that this was my favourite dish that evening.

Braised Chinese Meatballs 红烧狮子头

The next dish was the Braised Chinese Meatballs. Because it was new on the menu, we decided to give it a go.

However, I thought this dish was rather disappointing.

The meatballs were a tad too soft and mushy for my liking, maybe that is how Szechuan makes it but I have to say that it is an acquired taste.

I thought it had too much tofu content compared to meat and the meat tasted like luncheon meat out of a can!

The sauce was exactly the same as that of the fish dish.

I was not impressed by this dish.

Again, my housemate made similar Chinese Meat Balls before and it was way nicer than this!

Steamed Twisted Bun 花卷

Last but not least, was the very simple Steamed Twisted Bun to accompany all the flavours of the many dishes.

We thought the Steamed Twisted Bun would go well with the sauces of the different dishes so we ordered one to share.

I had quite an interesting experience in this restaurant where I found out what dishes to order and what not to for the next time.

Most importantly, I enjoyed the fellowship with my friends!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Pork Chops with Sage and Apple

I have done more cooking from recipes this week as I am in 'cooking-from-recipe-mood' now!

This pork chop recipe was found in the January 2012 issue of deliciousmagazine.

It sounds like a dish for the cold winter season (as it was appropriately published in a winter issue), I thought it was perfect for the rather unusual wintry weather we are having now in April!


This dish was an easy one to cook with minimal ingredients which obviously include pork chops and apples. I used dried sage instead of fresh ones because I could not find any in the supermarket.

Cider and Crème Fraiche used in this recipe created a dish more exciting than the classic Pork chops with apple.

The recipe called for dry cider, but I chose this cider made from apples as I thought it would match the dish pretty well.

Sauté Pork Chops

Butter and olive oil was first heated in a large pan over high heat. When the butter started to foam, pork chops were added in the pan and seasoned with salt and pepper. Both sides of the chops were cooked until they turned golden.

Then apple slices were added into the pan and tossed until they were golden and softened and the chops were cooked through.

Apple slices added

The cider was then poured in and the crème fraiche and sage stirred in, then brought to a simmer and allowed to bubble for a couple of minutes until the sauce was slightly thickened.

The dish was seasoned with some salt and pepper before being served.

Pork Chops with sage and apple

The pork chops were really nice with the thick and creamy sauce, although I would have loved the chops to be seasoned a little bit more with salt.

The cider nicely cut through the thick creamy flavour of the sauce and the meaty flavour of the pork.

The wonderfully sweet and soft apples accompanied by the rich and domineering sage gave a lovely cold-weather combination to the meaty pork chops!

A delicious dish served with a perfect dollop of mashed sweet potatoes.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Braised Chicken Legs with Shallots, Lettuce and Peas

As the title suggests, I have made Braised Chicken with some shallots, little gem lettuce hearts and frozen peas.

Lots of greens and protein served with a little carbohydrate from the creamy mashed potatoes - a very balanced meal indeed!

I have not attempted any recipes from the magazine that I subscribe to for quite a while, but I could not resist it when I came across this wonderful looking dish.

The recipe was taken from the May 2012 issue of deliciousmagazine.


The herbs used in this recipe was Thyme and Tarragon, each a perfect match to the chicken and greens in this dish!

The chicken legs were washed then the knuckle end chopped off then seasoned all over with sea salt and pepper.

Olive oil was heated in a large deep frying pan then the chicken legs were added skin side down to sauté until nicely golden.

Shimmering in Chicken stock

Then Thyme, garlic and chicken stock were added and brought to boil, then partially covered and simmered for 45-50 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the chicken legs were ready, butter was melted in a pan then shallots were added to cook gently until tender and lightly brown.

At this time, the kitchen was filled with the lovely aroma from the caramelising shallots and herby fragrance of the thyme and garlic simmering with the chicken in stock.

Shallots, Lettuce and Peas added

When the chicken legs were ready, they were transferred unto a plate and kept warm with aluminium foil.

Excess fat was skimmed from the surface of the remaining liquid then peas, sugar, tarragon and some more butter were stirred in. The mixture was seasoned with more salt and pepper then simmered for another 5 minutes.

Then the lettuce wedges, shallots and chicken legs were added to the pan and simmered for another 3 minutes until the lettuce and peas were tender and the chicken had heated through.

Braised Chicken with shallots, lettuce and peas

The bitter-sweet, aromatic flavour of thyme flourished in the braised chicken dish. The 'green and grassy' character of anise-flavoured tarragon is not only a classic partner for chicken dishes, its sweet anise flavour with a bitter edge also suits pea, which is sweet enough itself. (The flavour Thesaurus)

Not forgetting the wonderful garlic that heightened the flavour of this savoury dish and the sweet caramelised shallots that bought even more flavours to this dish.

Served with creamy mashed potatoes

A delightful evening meal packed with many wonderful flavours of the greens and herbs bringing out the flavour of the savoury chicken. Served with a nice and hearty creamy mashed potatoes.

I love following a recipe that brings many wonderful flavours together in one dish!