Dinner at Oc Lac Quan, HCMC, Vietnam

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We only had one evening in Ho Chi Minh City and we arrived late, so our best bet to find a restaurant open late was to go down town and we basically took the first decent place we saw.

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A Western man who had just finished his meal recommended it to us as we walked past so we sat down on the small plastic chairs on the pavement. Apart from us and the Western man the other guests were all locals enjoying shellfish and snails, which seemed to be the restaurant’s speciality. The menu had a few interesting items on the menu but we settled for beef noodles and squid with lemongrass and chilli. Nothing fancy but I really enjoyed both dishes! vn26

This was the first place where we thought it was good to just order two dishes as we always ended up with too much food at previous restaurants due to over-ordering. The portions are a lot bigger here than what we’re used too!

Oc Lac Quan, 73 Rach Bung Binh, Phuong 9, Quan 3, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Lunch at Khmer Food Restaurant, Siem Reap, Cambodia

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Siem Reap, the town near Angkor Wat, is quite small and touristy so finding a nice place to eat is actually quite difficult. But Ro and I were pleasantly surprised by Khmer Food Restaurant near the market. First we shared a portion of summer rolls that were nice and fresh (although towards the end of the trip we had sampled both good and bad ones and I was a bit tired of them to be honest).

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I completely forgot to photograph Ro’s soup which was really nice and fresh with prawns, winter melon and other fruits. It was quite different to other soups we tried and very soothing!

My main course was water spinach (which I love!) with garlic and chilli and pork mince with oyster sauce. Really nice!

Traditional Khmer Food Restaurant, Old Market Area, Siemréab, Cambodia

Dinner at Marum, Siem Reap, Cambodia

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After we landed in Siem Reap we dropped the bags off at the hotel and then went straight to Angkor Wat for some serious temple sightseeing until sundown. It was great but one day (most people recommends three) was enough for me.

Afterwards we had dinner at Marum, a restaurant school for delinquent kids. The restaurant is very popular but we managed to get a table without having a reservation, but do book ahead if you’re going.

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The food was not very consistent; some dishes were nice and some just OK. The service was also shaky, which I don’t mind so much as it is a school, but I still think the food should be up to scratch considering it’s a proper gourmet restaurant – school or not. There are plenty for the cooking students to do that won’t impact the final dishes as much as it did.

The above salad with chicken and green mango and served with rice crackers was one of the nicer dishes. Really fresh flavours!

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The duck croquetas wuth hoisin dip were great – definitely the best dish of the evening.

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The grilled ribs with apple and radish salad had a nice flavour but the meat wasn’t tender enough.

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And the jasmine tea smoked chicken with honey and orange glaze and broccoli stems seemed amazing on the menu, but was a bit of a let down actually. The chicken was dry and the smoky flavour too dominant.

The restaurant is featured in Lonely Planet and although the charity behind it has a very worthy cause I must say the restaurant feels very touristy, but it’s still nice.

Marum restaurant, #8A, B Phum Slokram, Siemréab, Cambodia

Dinner at Posto Pubblico, Hong Kong

hk5 Due to overbooking of our flight (grr!) we had to spend an extra night in Hong Kong. So after having checked in at the airport hotel we took the train back to Central for some dinner and drinks, it was Saturday night after all. We wandered around Soho and liked the look of this Italian place called Posto Pubblico. hk7 After a small antipasti plate we chose a pasta dish each. Ro had the one with calamari and a bit of spice (top photo) and I had the linguine with clams. Both dishes were fresh and nice. hk6To add some vegetables we ordered a side of grilled vegetables. They were more or less covered in oil and parmesan – very nice but not all that healthy… Posto Pubblico is a nice little restaurant. The food is fresh and we had a nice meal here. With hindsight it was perfect to have seafood before going to Cambodia and Vietnam where we probably had pork every day. Posto Pubblico, G/F, 28 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong

Dinner at Din Tai Fung, Hong Kong

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I hadn’t actually planned to stop in Hong Kong on this trip, but since I needed to fly via either Singapore or Hong Kong I thought it would be fun to at least spend a day here. And you actually get to see a lot in 24 hours!

I travelled with my friend Rowena and as she’d been to Hong Kong before we took it quite easy sightseeing-wise but still managed to tick off taking the Star Ferry to Kowloon, seeing the light show, walking around the Causeway Bay area and the skyscrapers in Central.

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We also had dinner at Din Tai Fung in Kowloon, which both my blog colleague Elin and my friend Mattias had recommended. Located in a shopping centre and a first come first serve system I wouldn’t have found the restaurant without a recommendation. While we waited for a table, only ten minutes or so, we studied the menu and filled out the menu card with our order. Very efficient!

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We ordered a fairly eclectic selection from the menu, like the blanched Chinese cabbage to get our greens…

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… and these steamed shrimps. Both dishes were a little blander than we expected. It was more a heap of shrimp or veg than an actual put-together dish.

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But the dumplings were really good! Especially these with pork and black truffle were delicious! We also had some pork and prawn dumplings (that didn’t get caught on camera), and they were great too.

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After we had finished our meal we were surrounded by Chinese people at the tables near us and watching what they had, which looked a lot better than our selection bar the dumplings, we were a little jealous. But I still couldn’t help but think that we actually have some pretty amazing dim sum in London too, at Yauatcha for example. I think I had expected a bigger difference and wasn’t that blown away, sadly.

After dinner we took the Star Ferry back to Hong Kong Island and had drinks in Lan Kwai Fong, the bar district that make London’s Soho look well-behaved! It was lots of fun though and the next day we made our way to the airport only to find out our flight was overbooked, so we had to stay an extra night in the city before going to Cambodia the next day.

Din Tai Fung, Shop 306, 3/F, Silvercord, 30 Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Best of: spring recipes

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It’s been wonderful to come back to spring weather in the UK, I didn’t expect the weather would change as much as it did the ten days I was away but I am very grateful. Let’s hope spring is finally here to stay!

So before I continue with my travel posts from Asia I would like to show you a few of my favourite spring recipes that I return to again and again.

Salmon tartar with cream cheese top –  this tartar is amazing and has been the starter of many dinner parties. The cream cheese top just adds that final touch!

Crab linguine with cream and white – I eat shellfish all year round but it tastes the best in spring and summer.

Purple sprouting with poached egg and tarragon crème – a perfect brunch dish that just oozes spring!

Lemon tart – I associate spring with lemon as I love the fresh flavours and citrus is the freshest of them all!

Vanilla pannacotta with rhubarb – melted rhubarb is a childhood favourite I love to incorporate into more grown-up dishes.

You can also have a look at last year’s spring recipes from the archives for even more inspiration! Hurrah – spring is actually here!

Travel pics

Hi,

I’m back in a sunny London with less jetlag than anticipated (yay!) and so much to show you. But let’s start with a selection of pictures from my trip to Hong Kong, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Neon signs galore in Hong Kong.

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Caramelised pork in Hong Kong.

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Tram in HK.

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Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

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Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.

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Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

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The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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The Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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Local noodles (made with ash) in Hoi An, Vietnam.

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Snails and kumquats in Vietnam.

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The market in Hoi An, Vietnam.

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Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

IMG_1363Street view in Hanoi, Vietnam.