Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts
Showing posts with label michelin star. Show all posts

Yat Lok 一樂燒鵝 (Hong Kong)

Unlike my normal planned out itinerary, we went to Yat Lok simply because we happened to be in the area. I vaguely recalled the restaurant being notable for an achievement – awarded one Michelin star and a glowing recommendation from Anthony Boudain, as it turns out.

Everyone goes for the roast goose, so you’ll want to do a quarter or half order of it with a bowl of rice or noodles ordered separately. We made the mistake of simply ordering the roast goose with rice ($58) and it arrived with the undesirable upper quarter portion of the bird, the rib portion resulting in mostly skin and bones, since the meaty leg is left for the quarter orders.

Nevertheless, we could sample the glistening skin, as crispy as Peking duck, and taste the well marinated meat (from what little there was). It was good, I wanted more, and jealously eying the plump half orders everyone else had.

While the meat in the BBQ pork with rice ($58) could use more marbling, it was also thoroughly flavoured with a vibrant dark caramelized crust. Even the rice had enough of that lovely BBQ sweet soy sauce on it for interest.

The 1pm weekday visit meant we missed most of the lunch crowd, scoring one of the three empty tables. Regardless, the restaurant is packed with seats that are turned over quickly. Despite their accolades, you’ll get a cheap meal. Moreover, it’s one of the few Michelin starred places I could visit after hiking the Peak, slightly sweaty and with a patch of coffee spilt on my shirt, without feeling out of place.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Central, Hong Kong
 Address: 34-38 Stanley St. (Conwell House, ground floor)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Junoon (New York)

As soon as I entered Junoon’s swanky Patiala dining room, I knew this dinner would be different from past Indian meals. I couldn’t help but chuckle after settling into the plush velvet chair and taking in the ornate surroundings - Junoon describes the Patiala room as the area free of tablecloths providing relaxed service. Sure, the tables are free from linens, but the attentive service and swapping of cutlery between courses isn’t your run-of-the-mill relaxed family restaurant.

At first, the ‘ghost pepper’ description in the murgh tikka ($23) had us worried – should I order a mango lassi to have on hand, just in case? Luckily, the chili wasn’t too strong, although you could taste it in the background, even with the chicken’s skin removed. The bare meat was flavourful and juicy, great on its own or with a smear of the pistacho purée.

Junoon NYC chicken tikka

To combat the spiciness, I suggest ordering the eggplant chaat ($15): the heavy drizzles of raita and tamarind chutney really helps calm any heat. Moreover, chaat, traditionally a street food, is rather plain on its own. However, when the chicken and deep fried circles of battered eggplant are combined, they do come together rather nicely.

Junoon NYC eggplant chaat

The shahi lamb shank ($36) arrives standing in its full glory. The sous vide lamb is soft and succulent, while the black cumin yoghurt curry mixed with garam masala is flavourful without completely covering the meat … I had my fair share of the gravy spooned onto pulao rice ($6). What a deliciously hearty main.

Junoon NYC lamb shank

Junoon is great for those who want flavourful Indian dishes without spiciness. Although I enjoy heat, sometimes the sheer amount of chilies added into sauces become too much and leaves the tongue scorched and numb. Junoon applies more complex flavours - one visit to their basement and you’ll find an entire room filled with jars of spices combined for seasoning dishes.

Even a simple garlic naan ($7) is unlike any other – you can actually taste the herb, it’s like eating garlic bread in naan form.

Trust me, try the hara paneer kofta ($23) and dig in as soon as it arrives. The hot crispy paneer dumplings are something else: break into the soft crumbly centre and a fragrant cheese aroma is emitted. Meanwhile, the green chili spinach (?) purée is neutral enough against the mild soft paneer. If only there were more of the crispy mustard greens, wow do these add a pop of flavour!

Junoon NYC paneerAt first, I had doubts about Junoon’s authenticity. When first seated for our 7:45pm reservation, the dining room was only about 70% filled and it was a pretty diverse crowd. It wasn’t until later, towards the end of the meal (around 9:00), the room filled to capacity and my husband and I became the only non-Indian diners at the restaurant.

Still, it was the eavesdropping on a neighbouring table that truly confirmed Junoon’s legitimacy. As a son cautiously asks his parents if the food was okay, the mother looks up from her plate and enthusiastically nods while the father chimes it that it’s good. So, if my word isn’t enough, then trust these strangers.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: New York, USA
 Address: 27 W 24th Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Junoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eleven Madison Park (New York)

Securing a reservation at Eleven Madison Park isn’t impossible – you just need to be punctual and quick with technology.  A month prior (April 1 for the month of May), online reservations are loaded promptly at 9:00am. A quick refresh and a whole new month became available in the calendar!

‘Reserve’, I chose (the split second it opened) and the 7:00pm reservation is gone. Another click and 6:45 greys out as well. I frantically click away … finally, I land a 6:15 table on my chosen Saturday. The minute affair got my heart pounding, but at least was over quickly – unlike the boredom inducing, time wasting effort of securing a table at the French Laundry - who even uses telephones anymore?

As it turns out, May was a good time to visit as the restaurant offered an 11-course menu ($295 inclusive of gratuities but before taxes) of their most influential dishes from the past 11 years. This is before the restaurant temporarily closes on June 9th for renovations before reopening in the fall.

After settling into our table and freshening up with a hot towel, a bowl of warm gruyere gougeres, first served in 2006, was brought over as a welcoming. Bite-sized puffs emitting a light cheese aroma, the first bites were delicious.

To avoid sounding like a broken record, in general, I found all the dishes too salty. Almost every dish was topped with a sprinkle of sea salt, which would had been fine if the food and sauces weren’t already well seasoned. In reality, that extra flourish of salt wasn’t required – I started scraping off the seasoning from each dish before digging in – and even detracted from many of the seafood dishes.

For example, the sea urchin cappuccino’s warm creamy broth was so salty that I couldn’t taste the sweetness of the crab at the bottom … the crustacean merely became an element that adds to the texture of the soup, but not the flavour. This was a similar experience for the following clams.

Eleven Madison’s first communal dish, served in 2011, was presented with great fanfare: water is added to the dry ice and seaweed so smoke billows out releasing a seashore scent to augment the experience. In their version of a clam bake, we’re treated to a velvety velouté and a series of little neck clams: a saltier one topped with bacon, simply adorned with daikon, and the most neutral one incorporating a roasted garlic panade (my favourite of the clams).

Eleven Madison Park clams

The Parker House roll, a buttery milk bread, was a tad dry on its own, but perfect for dipping into the creamy velouté.

Despite looking rather simple, the prawn roulade’s flavour is rich and complex. The avocado, of course, gives it that creamy texture. Then, within the roulade is a mixture of chopped sweet prawns in a luscious yoghurt reminiscent of devil’s egg yolk. A delicious dish.

Eleven Madison Park roulade

Indeed, the foie gras torchon is gorgeous and I’m sure when it was first introduced in 2004, guests considered it an innovated dish as maple syrup oozes out when it’s cut – it still is, I haven’t had stuffed foie gras before. Everything also works so well together – a bit of the warm apple cinnamon bun, a generous piece of melt-in-your-mouth foie gras, then a dip into the sweet maple syrup. It’s like having buttered bread with olive oil to the next level.

Eleven Madison Park foie grasAlthough the dish was heavenly, it’s also very heavy. At first, it’s nice that the foie gras essence lightly lingers in the mouth. But, after having the entire torchon that lingering reminds you of how full you’re feeling. It seemed like a shame to waste any of the delicious torchon, but at the same time, its richness detracts from the dishes that follow. So, finish at your own peril.

Thankfully, the following carrot tartare was a well-timed dish. A grater is fastened to the table and a small bunch of Hudson Bay area carrots are grated tableside and served fresh. A wooden tray filled with ingredients (a pickled quail egg yolk, pea mustard, sunflower seeds, dried fish, horseradish, snap peas, chives, mustard seed, salt, mustard oil, and mustard vinaigrette) accompanies so you can customize to your own tastes.

Eleven Madison Park carrot salad

I added a bit of everything, except for sunflower seeds and salt. Surprisingly, when the various stronger mustard and horseradish flavours combine with the sweet juicy carrots, everything mellows out and works. An almost refreshing palette cleanser after the heavier foie gras.

If you’ve ever watch the movie Burnt, pay attention to the fish they serve to a London food reviewer, you’ll notice the dish looks identical to Eleven Madison’s poached turbot. Topping the perfectly cooked fish are thin slices of baby zucchini made to replicate the scales. Although the turbot is neutral, it can still hold up against the saffron sauce. On the side, an amazing zucchini blossom filled with a ratatouille with soft and crunchy bits that makes the dish sing.

Eleven Madison Park turbot

The white blobs may not look like much, but the dish is supposed to imitate a winter in Provence. This was first developed in 2009 as an extra dish the restaurant could send to friends or VIPs. Comprised of a silky potato purée, tangy goat cheese foam, and a sweet beany truffle paste, as you dig into the dish there’s a variety of flavours. Yet, it’s the puddle of olive oil and the diced black truffle and celery bits inside the makes the dish. If only there was more of that, as all the smoothness needs something of substance for interest.

Hands down, the suckling pig confit served at Eleven Madison is the best I’ve ever tasted. As expected, the skin is so thin and crispy it shatters to the touch and the meat is tender and has a strong pork flavour having been slowly poached in lard. Overall, there’s a soft chewiness to the dish that makes you want to hold it in your mouth and savour it repeatedly.

Eleven Madison Park suckling pig

The rhubarb compote, accompanying the suckling pig, had the perfect balance of sweetness and lightness against the rich meat and the braised leek and sweet cipollini onion were nice as well.

Transitioning from savoury to sweet, dessert starts with a milk and honey dish that has both elements. While the dehydrated milk foam sorbet is cool and sweet, the bit of gooey honey filled bee pollen in the centre has a salty element with a grassiness that makes it bitter (a taste I could have done without). All the while, there are sprinkles of other ingredients that provide a coconut and nutty finish to the dessert.

My husband’s description of the chocolate palette is rather fitting – like an amazing Wunderbar. There’s the shiny chocolate ganache coating and crispy bits of peanut butter candy inside. In addition, a delicious ice cream that tastes like buttery caramel popcorn. The dessert is rich and delicious, take small bites.

To end, our waiter presents a selection of petite fours and welcomes us to take as many as we want. Already stuffed, I decide to stick with three last bites: a fluffy alcohol-laced cream puff, a soft and chewy pistachio tart, and an olive oil gummy complete with sour sugar (the most interesting and tastiest of the three).

Before leaving, we’re presented with two shots (and a bottle) of St. George apple brandy, which is made especially for Eleven Madison Park.

All the sudden, a table we observed at the beginning of our meal started making sense. When first seated, we looked directly onto a table of four that were finished eating but still having drinks. One couple left and the two remaining guests were inebriated – we’re talking slurred conversations, staring into space, and wobbly walking. At one point, we were wondering if they’d keep their meal down … what a waste!

I had commented to my husband that it’s strange a table would order a bottle of apple brandy. It’s normal to get a bottle of wine to share, but apple brandy? That’s a first. As it turns out, every table gets a bottle, it’s just that they normally they don’t finish it.

Upon asking our waiter about the situation, he agreed that a finished bottle was the first for them. But, they want guests to enjoy the experience (within reason) and if a table wants a second, third, fourth, or fifth glass, they’re welcomed to help themselves.

Indeed, this comment sums up the hospitable environment at Eleven Madison Park. Despite earning 
three Michelin stars and topping the World’s Best Restaurants list in 2017, it’s not pretentious and stuffy. They don’t have a dress code (most men wore jeans and a blazer, while women donned pants or a simple dress), questions are answered frankly, and the bright and airy dining room makes the meal feel casual.

Days before the meal, an email arrives re-confirming whether there’s food allergies, special events or anything they could do to make the dinner a pleasant one. I requested a table that had more lighting (to help with pictures) and sure enough, we were seated in one of the sunniest corners of the dining room. If anything, after all that, I was a surprised there wasn’t a follow-up email after the meal.    

In traditional fashion, guests don’t leave empty handed. We each received a canister of house-made granola, which made satisfying breakfasts following the dinner.

Looking back at the meal, I wouldn’t say it was the tastiest one I’ve ever experienced; nonetheless, the food is good. What makes the dinner memorable is the combination of food, service, and overall environment. After all, where else are you presented with a bottle of apple brandy and they don’t bat an eye when it’s finished?

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: New York, USA
 Address: 11 Madison Avenue

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Eleven Madison Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lasarte Restaurante (Barcelona)

Location: Barcelona, Spain
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 259 
Type of Meal: Dinner

Nestled in the Passaig de Garcia (Torontonians think of Yorkville but larger and more posh) the restaurant is decorated with a white, clean, modern interior. The chairs were uber comfortable; even though our dinner lasted almost 3 hours I didn't feel any stiffness.

Lasarte gifted me with one of the best meals of my life!  Reservations are required as they have very limited seating - I believe only 16 people. And their service is impeccable with purse stools, serves simultaneously clearing plates and a fresh napkin before desserts are served.    

Our course, the food is the most important. Their dishes are works of art. Every course is set upon different serving trays to accentuate its presentation and contrast colours as necessary. With an 11-course tasting menu there was much artwork to behold.

First, various pre-dinner courses compliments of the chef including a platter of five hors d'oeuvres:
  • Rich and flavourful coconut ice cream topped with crunchy salty kernels which complimented the sweetness
  • Melt in your mouth warm croquette of cheese that were heavenly after the cold ice cream
  • Large green olive stuffed with a grapefruit segment - surprisingly tasty for someone who doesn't like olives; I'd like to think of it as a combination similar to the Italian cantaloupe and prosciutto
  • Piece of local melon with a petal of a flower to add a floral note the melon's sweetness
  • Small pack of roasted nuts covered with curry and honey that went well with our crisp white wine
Next, a "lasagna" of smoked foie gras, green apple and eel with a delicate candied brulee green apple topping. When the waiter was breaking down the dish I had doubts note particularly a fan of foie gras and with eel? However, the combination of the velvety foie gras, sweet green apple and seared eel actually complimented quite well. It wasn't my favourite but I didn't dislike it.

Foie gras, green apple and eel lasagna (1)

Granular cubes of cucumbers with raspberry foam topped with a fresh small oyster. An outstanding dish, the raspberry foam was a great palette cleanser and the micro cubes of cucumbers added such an interesting texture.  The oyster was clean and tasted great with the foam mixture. Lasarte should add it to their menu and charge for it!

Oyster with raspberry foam and cucumbers (2)

Even the bread being offered was extraordinary.  We both opted for the brioche with American bacon.  Yes, it's as amazing as it sounds. A butter soft brioche bun with speckles of bacon throughout to add to its rich flavour.

After all those amuse bouche dishes we knew we were going to have a mind blowing meal. 

Red tuna tartare with curd cucumber - finely chopped tuna topped with a layer of cucumber gelee and another layer of salmon roe.  The smooth tuna tartare is full of flavour and toned down slightly by the cucumber gelee, but as you chew the briny salmon roe just pop in the mouth. As if this wasn't enough, the dish is accompanied with crisp crackers each topped with four dried mini prawns.  Definitely the best tuna tartare I've ever eaten.

Smoked oyster on the grill, steamed spinach with sesame and crispy tubers - brought out in a domed dish, the top is lifted in front of you so the smoke actually wafts into your face before eating.  The scent is intoxicatingly powerful so that patrons at other tables can even smell it.  Despite the impressive entrance it wasn't my favourite dish, but then I've never been a huge fan of oysters.

Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream and lobster - if food could be art, this dish would be a masterpiece.  When placed in front of me I was memorized by its many components and trying its combinations was even better.  All the ingredients are set upon a shallow tomato consommé gelee that compliments the many dollops of sauces and leaves of herbs, sprouts and petals.  There was a very small cube of lobster that was perfectly cooked, I just wished there was more!  One of the stand out dishes of the tasting menu in my opinion.

Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream & lobster (3)

Tempered beef steak slices on foie gras curd, iodized salad and mustard ice cream - the mustard ice cream went very well with the slices of beef, which was almost a carpaccio style.  A good dish but not as spectacular, in my opinion, as the rest.

Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond - I was expecting this to be one of my favourite dishes but surprisingly it was not.  The prawn was cooked perfectly but I found the accompanying items didn't add much to it.  Something about the dish, perhaps the goat's burned milk, made it overly smoky and slightly bitter.

Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond (4)

Farmhouse egg with beetroot and liquidised herb salad, Basque "cocido" carpaccio and smoked cheese - I overheard from another table that the egg was cooked for an hour to get it to achieve this dish's consistency.  This is certainly no normal egg!  Upon cutting into it the yolk runs out in a molten state - not liquid like a poached egg and not cooked through like a soft boiled.  A great flavourful dish, I only wish sticks of brioche could accompany the dish so I had something to dip into it!

Low-temperature cooked sea bass on a bed of bacon and parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous - in case you're wondering what are goose barnacles they have nothing to do with the fowl and actually grow in the ocean.  The fish was cooked well a tasty but not memorable dish.

Sea bass on bacon & parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous (5)

Roast pigeon rested on a creamy stew of durum wheat, touch of truffled potato and spicy sauce - the pigeon was cooked perfectly with its crisp skin and medium rare finish.  I was so glad there was finally a meaty rich dish to contrast everything else. Although by this time I was stuffed I wished there was more.  I couldn't get enough of the meaty pigeon, hearty durum wheat and silky potatoes!  My only wonder was where was the spicy sauce?  I actually found the sauce more sweet than spicy.

Roast pigeon with durum wheat, tuffled potato and spicy sauce (6)

Lemon peel ice cream, vanilla iced drink with citrus and mint tea - after such heavy dishes this was such a good dessert to start with.  The ice cream floats upon a dish of vanilla, citrus and mint liquid and was so refreshing and cleansing for the next dessert dish.

French toast with frozen coffee crème and plum compote - after eating this dessert you may have thought you went to heaven.  The French toast must have been sitting in a cream egg mixture for a lengthy time.  Imagine a piece of creamy bread pudding dipped in egg and then seared until there's a brulee crust on it.  The warm French toast was not sweet and instead the frozen coffee crème gave it a lovely contrasting cold, sweet taste.  I absolutely loved the dish!

French toast with frozen coffee crème and plum compote (7)

Petit fours - to finish the night a tower of petit fours were presented consisting of mango mouse on sponge cake, a square dark chocolate truffle topped with gold flakes, rich vanilla butter pound cake and a Catalan white chocolate gelatin with honey which tastes almost like an egg panna cotta with syrup. The latter was a treat to be introduced to and I'd love to have it again.

If you're ever in Barcelona and have 3 hours and 288€ to spare (includes tasting menu for 2 and bottle of wine) you have to try Lasarte. The experience is amazing and memorable.

Overall mark - 9.5 out of 10.  Why didn't this get perfect if I loved it so much? Since I'm not a huge fan of oysters, I wish there was more variety in the tasting menu (3 of the dishes showcased oysters).  That would have made it perfect for me.

Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
Photo Sources:
  1. Foie gras, green apple and eel. The Wandering Epicures (
  2. Oyster with raspberry foam and cucumbers. Trip Advisor (
  3. Vegetable leaves salad, herbs, sprouts and petals with lettuce cream & lobster.  Black Caviar (
  4. Prawn, royale of sea urchins, caviar of goat's burned milk and almond.  Trip Advisor (
  5. Sea bass on bacon & parmesan cream, goose barnacles and cauliflower couscous. Black Caviar (
  6. Roast pigeon with durum wheat, tuffled potato and spicy sauce. The Wandering Epicures (
  7. French toast with frozen coffee creme and plum compote. Black Caviar (