Tastebuds

A food blog from everywhere!

Guangzhou: Quasi dinner party chez moi

Tonight, I hosted my first dinner/birthday event at my house, ever! It was my friend Kanisorn’s birthday, so somehow we came to an agreement by designating my home as the place to congregate. I didn’t mind, except that I had to spend so much time scrubbing down the kitchen these past few days! Actually it was supposed to be more like a potluck but I ended up cooking most of the dishes. Not that I complained, of course, since I would naturally hop at any opportunity to cook anyways.

Our Asian smörgåsbord on a very Chinese lazy susan table

I was really excited beforehand, thinking of and writing out everything that I’d like to cook. I really like cooking for other people, even more than I like eating…I guess like any cook, I cherish the moments when someone compliments a dish that I’d made. But I think that tonight, I overstretched a bit and tried to do too many things, leading to some rather unspectacular results. I imagined the shrimp with salted yolk pumpkin sauce, for instance, much more stellar than it actually turned out. And the braised pork stew wasn’t too interesting either. Oh wells, learn from my mistakes I guess.

Here are the dishes that I made:

Prawns with salted egg yolk pumpkin sauce; the sauce had too much pumpkin inside, hiding the chalky yolk flavour. The pumpkin slices, sadly, I didn't roast them long enough! =(

3 Cups Chicken! This turned out really well; nice and crispy chicken with a sweet, smoky flavour.

Baked scallion rolls. These turned out really well as a typical Chinese bread; soft and buttery and slightly sweet.

I don’t have individual photos, but I also made a pork stew (which, as mentioned, wasn’t that popular and lacked a little something), bacon + cream cheese + apple canapes following this recipe (turned out all right, nothing super interesting), and just plain grilled shrimp (which I didn’t find special at all but everyone else seem to enjoy). But then again, with dinner gatherings like these it’s always more than just the food; it’s really the company that makes the night. After dinner I dragged everyone into playing taboo and I think we all had great laughs and an awesome time!

And lastly, here are some of the dishes that my friends made!

A roasted chicken dish that my friend Rena brought!

Stir-fried greens that Rena and Wing made; turned out pretty well!

Thanks everyone, for a wonderful evening!

OH! And on a completely differently note, I’ve decided on a name change for the blog. Instead of the previous mouthful of a name, I’m going to go with something shorter, Tastebuds. And it’s less embarrassing.

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July 25, 2011 Posted by | Guangzhou, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Back in Guangzhou!

Just a small note: after almost a year away, I’ve made it back to Guangzhou! It’s so nice to be home again, in the place where it all started, even though the stormy muggy weather and the pushy crowds did not welcome me all that warmly. Still, that’s all part of the experience, isn’t it?

Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to start filling up on good Chinese food again. A year of deprivation is simply too long. Today, at the Jusco near the train station, I got so excited coming across this:

A mountain of durians!!!

What a beautiful sight =D

Anyways, I’ll try and wrap up my Europe adventures in a few more posts and start feasting on GZ.

July 15, 2011 Posted by | Guangzhou, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Update + Starbucks

Update + Starbucks

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Sorry for not having updated for soooooooooooo long. I had two rather unfortunate events occur: (1) semester exams and (2) a crashed memory stick with all my photos. With regards to this blog, the former misfortune isn’t so bad but the latter is. I had all my food photos in that memory stick and now, they’re all gone! I had even had a Black Sesame Cake recipe post all ready to published but now that cannot happen because it’s got no accompanying photos! Sigh.

However, on a happier note, both of the above occurances have been resolved. Semester exams are over and the holidays have started. Yipppeeee. And yesterday, my dad and I went out and got a brand new awesome cool huge non-digital camera! Once I get my head wrapped around this technological savvyness I’ll hopefully be able to post better quality photos.

All right, now onto a short food flash: Starbucks’ muffins aren’t so bad. Especially when they nuke them beforehand. I am (right this second) eating this Black Forest Muffin which is quite decent. It is very moist inside seemingly with molten chocolate throughout.

However, towards the bottom of the muffin there’s a rather unexpected fruit object that took me by surprise, and not exactly in a good way either cause I couldn’t taste what fruit it was and it’s never a nice sensation to not know what’s going down your esophagus. But of course, since it’s a black forest muffin the random crunchy piece of fruit was probably cherry. Still, it seemed rather out of place w/ just ONE cherry in there…

Overall, I found the muffin a bit too sweet…and it can be more chocolatey. ANd they should just get rid of the cherry and rename the thing to chocolate muffin. Otherwise, it’s not so bad for 14RMB!

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Cafes, Guangzhou, Restaurants | Leave a comment

Pegro at the Westin

Pegro at the Westin
Address: 44th floor of the Westin Hotel
Website: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/dining/index.html?propertyID=1706

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Today we had lunch at a very unusual venue: 40 floors above the city! Well, we were grocery shopping at the mall underneath the train station and decided to head to the Westin for lunch. As soon as I saw that there’s a restaurant so high up, I demanded that we must check it out.

Pegro does have a pretty decent view of Tianhe, if you factor out the smog. Too bad today was so smoggy…well, most days in Guangzhou are smoggy, especially when the weather is warm. I bet the view is nicer at night, though, when TianHe turns into a panorama of lights.

The restaurant’s decor is pretty nice. Wow, I sure have really vague descriptions when it comes to anything non-food…You know what, since I don’t care much about decor, you should just judge for yourselves from the pic above.

Oh, and the waitresses had very casual uniforms…overly casual for this type of restaurant…

Anyways, enough said, onto the food!

Well, first of all, Pegro, even though it is listed as an Italian restaurant, serves an international buffet lunch for some reason. I was a little dismayed since buffets are usually known for their quantity over quality approach to food. Some high-end buffets in Guangzhou are exceptional, such as the one at White Swan Hotel, but they all have their hits and misses.

First I went for the cold appetizers. The grilled tuna was pretty decent. It had that nice, rare sheen. The jelly ladeled on top was interesting; it was slightly spicy. That, plus the juicy fish eggs, added a unique flavour and texture to the tuna.

The mango salad with sliced beef wasn’t that interesting. The beef was nice and thin but lacked flavour. The mango salad also lacked flavour. Yeah, uninteresting.

The bruschetta was pretty good. The tomato topping was flavourful but the bread underneath has definitely suffered from sitting under the lamp for too long; the olive oil and juices from the topping has made it a bit soggy.

Next to the bruschetta sits the green bean salad with quail eggs and dijon mustard. Not too interesting, though the dijon mustard did jazz up the otherwise mediocre mayo-based dressing.

Of course, and I also got sashimi! Pegro, unlike most other buffets, has a self-serve sashimi platter where you can take as much as you like. Awesome! However, the quality of the fish wasn’t that good. Too many tendons in everything but the salmon. ANd the octopus was too tough. Oh well.

Sorry, my cold appetizers are over yet. To sum up the first stage of the meal I got two freshly-opened oysters! They were fresh and tasted like how oysters should taste.

Ok, onto hot foods. The roasted pumpkin would have been good had it been warm, but alas, it was practically at room temperature. The Yorkshire pudding (I think that’s what that was…not sure…it was eggy and savoury) also suffered the same ailments. The roast beef was better, but too stringy in the well-cooked outter layer.

ABove is the random hot foods plate: clockwise from top right, we have a cheese and spinach baked oyster, rice ball, meat puff, and chicken tikka. The oyster was seriously lacking in flavour; one would expect anything with cheese to be pretty flavourful but NOO, this was not so. Don’t bother trying it out. The rice ball was all right, but it wasn’t as hot as fried foods should be. Take a look at the rice ball innards!!

Right. Back to the rest of the items on the random hot foods plate: the meat puff was pretty good. Well, actually, it didn’t have enough stuffing, and I couldn’t quite make out what the stuffing was (I think it was pork floss or something), but the pastry was very well executed. Very flaky with numberous identifiable layers…yum. Oh, but the chicken tikka, don’t even bother looking at it. It was the most bland, dry, and boring piece of chicken ever.

Wow, this has been a lot of food…I actually had a plate of vegetables that I forgot to take a picture of but they were nothing amazing. There was this mixed vegetable dish with egg yolks that was nice but the other stuff was just mediocre.

For my pre-dessert course I had cheese and bread. I love cheese, but one can not get good cheese conveniently in Guangzhou. The cheese selection here was pretty unique; instead of sticking to the boring cheddar, cream cheese, and brie combination found elsewhere, Prego had three strange cheeses that I did not know the names of! However, I only liked the soft cheese…the hard ones had really strong, sharp flavours that I’m not too fond of. Yeah, I guess I’m not much of a cheese connoisseur.

Oh, and you see a piece of salami there. I don’t like salami much so I shouldn’t comment.

Prego also has a nice selection of bread, but I only tried out the baguette and the grainy dinner roll. The baguette was too dry, probably as a result of sitting around for too long, and the dinner roll was too Chinese-bready (AKA sweet and soft and spongy). Alas, no good bread here…

All right, finally, after all that, came the most important part of the meal: dessert! I actually tried out almost every dessert that they had on offer cause I have no self-control. Haha.

The chocolate mousse was rather boring. Too monotonous in texture, and not chocolatey enough.

The chocolate mousse cake was nice though; pretty chocolatey. The cherry was unnecessary.

Walnut brownie with buttercream= The buttercream frosting was good: not too sweet and not over-powering. However, the brownie wasn’t good: overly dry.

Apricot tart: very nice. The apricot had a nice tartness that actually complimented the sweet crust quite well. And underneath there was this nice gooey layer of custard. Awesome textural contrast.

The creme brulee, on the onset, was highly disappointing, as you can see by its LACK of a caramelized crust.

Despite that great flaw, however, the custard underneath was awesome. Very creamy and not overly sweet.

I found that I liked the coffee cheesecake quite a lot since it wasn’t too strong. Yeah, I don’t like super pugnent foods.

However, although I don’t like the overly strong stuff, neither do I enjoy the overly weak stuff, and this mango cream thing fell into that category. I really don’t know the actual name of this concoction but it tasted like a dense whipped cream dome surrounded by mangoes. And the cream had absolutely no flavour.

All right, my last photo: walnut pie! It was awesome. Last time I tried to bake walnut pie all the nuts floated too the top of the pie, leaving the layer beneath a mass of corn syrup goo. Here somehow they managed to get the walnuts to disperse throughout the filling so that the layers weren’t so separated. Tasted awesome.

Wow, that was one long entry. Yeah, it was a long meal. Actually, I didn’t walk out TOOO full cause I did not finish all the stuff on my plates. I guess that’s the best way to enjoy buffets: take little bites of everything and only finish the stuff that I really enjoy. Pegro’s buffet was, well, average. There were hits and misses, as with most buffets out there. However, it’s not everyday that one gets to eat 40 stories up so if you’re ever in the area and are looking for a splurge, this may be the place to go!

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Guangzhou, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lu Gang Xiao Zhen (Bellagio)

Lu Gang Xiao Zhen (Bellagio)
Address: #77 Ti Yu Xi Lu (West of Teemall)
Tel: 8559-3009

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A looooooongggggg while ago (yeah, I’m really behind on restaurant posts), my dad and I visited Lu Gang Xiao Zhen, a well-known restaurant specializing in Taiwanese cuisine. This restaurant has been around for a while and I have received recommendations for it from friends, so we figured that it was time to give it a try.

The restaurant’s decor was sort of modern and bright. However, space was a little tight, but that didn’t matter cause the food was amazing.

Firstly we had the Oyster Pancake with Spicy Sauce. All right, I guess not ALL of the food was perfect cause this wasn’t that great. Maybe doughy, chewy, and fairly bland pancakes is an acquired taste. There weren’t a whole lot of oysters, and sauce wasn’t very spicy either.

The stir-fried lily petals with celery was very nicely done, though. The vegetables were crisp and crunchy and refreshing. If you’ve never had lily petals before, you don’t know what you’re missing. They are definitely one of my favourite vegetables and I’ll be posting another recipe up for it sometime soon, hopefully.

Then came the star of the meal: Three Cups Chicken. From what I gather, this is a Taiwanese specialty where the chicken is cooked with three cups of different sauces of some sort. Well, whatever the name entails, the dish was awesome. Each piece of chicken was nicely coated in the sweet, salty, savoury sauce. Even the garlic at the bottom of the pot tasted nice. Yep, this is the sort of dish that people dream about at night…

To end our meal, I ordered a peanut crushed ice. Though it took quite a while before it arrived, the wait was worth it. This concoction tasted basically like peanut butter ice cream: sweet with a salty tinge to it. So if you like peanut butter, this is definitely the dessert for you.


And we couldn’t finish it! Sob.

To sum up, we had an awesome meal. Usually I don’t walk out of restaurants filled to the brim but this time, I did have to hobble out precariously because the food was so good! I quite look forward to going back.

November 28, 2009 Posted by | Chinese, Guangzhou, Restaurants | Leave a comment

La Seine

La Seine
Address: G/F, Xinghai Concert Hall, 33 Qingbo Rd, Ersha Island
Tel: 8735 2222 ext 888, 8735 2531

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Last night we took a visit to La Seine, the French restaurant behind XingHai Concert Hall on Er Sha Island.

I have pretty fond memories of this place…it’s sort of like the place where I grew up. Ah, just being on Er Sha brings back so many memories…=)

Anyways, back to the restaurant. La Seine is really one of those high-class Western cuisine places in Guangzhou. The ambience is sort of darkish, as one would find in many higher-class Western restaurants, and their food is definitely pretty decent and authentic. I even heard that some time back they had a French pastry chef working there, though last night I only saw Chinese cooks in the open kitchen.

After we placed our orders they brought us the bread basket. There was a nice variety inside, including baguette (THANK GOODNESS the crust wasn’t soft!), walnut bread (crispy crust and a decent amount of walnuts; my favourite of the night), a wheat roll (super dry, not good), and sesame flatbreads.

The bread was served warm with butter. However, we took it a step further by ordering the cheese platter and slattering the cheeses on the rolls! La Seine has a very decent selection of cheeses. Unfortunately I was too lazy to ask for the names of each of them but from what I can glean there was brie (AWESOMELY creamy), blue cheese (all right, though I’ve never been a great fan of the strong taste), some log-shaped cheese that was nice and gooey and had a peppery kick to it, and then four other types of cheese that I have no clue about. This platter costed 126RMB, and I think it was worth every jiao!

Oh yeah, and they have this neat looking cheese cart in the middle of the room.

Next, my Lyonnaise Onion Soup came along. Now, I know that French onion soup is supposed to be served with a slice of baguette and melted cheese on top, but is the bread supposed to be completely soaked and soggy??? I’d always thought that the bread should be so stale so as to be able to hold its shape even in the liquid…Anyways, I guess I have an adversion to eating soggy bread so this item didn’t really add up for me. The flavour of the soup was pretty good (you can tell that it’s been boiled for a long time) but the soggy bread was just sort of weird…

For my main I had actually ordered a Tuna Tartare but apparently they made a mistake and instead gave me a Tuna Steak. Gr…I guess not many people order Tuna Tartare around here. Oh wells, I guess I have to come back another time to try the tartare.

Oh, but on a side note, when we brought the mistake to the attention of a waitress, we asked her to bring us a menu and show us which dish was served to us. So she walked off but then instead went off to attend another table and totally forgot about us! Tsk tsk.

The Tuna Steak was nonetheless pretty good. Apart from being severely over-cooked (50%??! Goodness!), it was nicely seasoned and the cream sauce added a subtle richness to it. The tuna came with a small side of rice and beans but I didn’t really touch those as I was too focused on cheese and bread =P

So overall, it was a wonderful meal at La Seine. The portions may be somewhat small but they’re tasty and totally worth the cost.

OH! ANd on another side note, I’m now pre-editing all my photos before I post them up so their quality should be better now!

October 29, 2009 Posted by | French, Guangzhou, Restaurants | Leave a comment

Bakery Post#2: Matcha, Red Bean, Custard Pudding

Bakery Post #2: Matcha, Red Bean, Custard Pudding
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Through a friend’s suggestion I discovered a new, intriguing bakery near the train station today. Unfortunately I have AGAIN failed to record the name of the
establishment but it is located in the office building to the northwest of the GZ East Train Station. It’s in the same building where the 7-11 and Starbucks and
McDonalds are, so not too hard to find.

At first sight one can see that this place is classy; it isn’t just any old Chinese bakery. In fact, they sold a lot of Western-style goods like biscotti and
madeleines, treats that are almost impossible to find in a typical bakery in Guangzhou. AND they had artisan breads! I’ll definitely go back to try those sometime.

But anyways, today, I decided to get the most unusual-looking item that I could find: the Matcah, Red Bean, and Custard Pudding.

I have to say this roll was definitely very unusual. It consisted of a matcha-flavoured soft bread ring riddled with red bean pieces and topped with custard.
My opinions on each of these components individually aren’t very high. I found the matcha bread to be highly lacking in the green-tea flavour even though one can
smell the green-tea scent very clearly. ANd the bread base wasn’t very sweet either…it seemed like they skimped out on the sugar and made it up with the pieces of
red bean, which were unevenly dispersed throughout the dough and thus resulted in random chunks of sweetness amidst the surrounding…non-sweetness.

Now, the custard, on the other hand, was quite good. It had just the right amount of sweetness. Clearly its role is, like the red bean’s, to impart the necessary
sugar to the bread base. Unfortunately, again the amount of custard did not match with the amount of bread so there were again areas of “non-sweetness.”

Biting into all those components as a whole, there was a subtle contrast between the gooey custard (which wasn’t sticky, so it isn’t a messy eat) and the soft
bread, but I think it would have been better if the custard had been caramelized at the top. Ah, creme brulee on matcha bread! Now that sounds interesting.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Guangzhou | | Leave a comment

Bakery Post #1: Red Bean Pastry

Bakery Post #1: Red Bean Pastry
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So because I like breads and pastries so much and I’m always looking for an excuse to visit bakeries, I have decided to start a bakery series! At least once a week I will blog about an intriguing bakery item that I find around town. I’ll try my best to post unusual items that aren’t usually found in typical Chinese bakeries in North America but actually, once you come to China that really isn’t difficult at all. Over the years I have seen many of the typical Chinese bakery items disappear from local bakeries and replaced by stranger and stranger offerings…

Anyways, so the item of this week is a red bean pastry

that I found at breadTalk.

breadTalk is a fairly new franchise here in Guangzhou and isn’t as ubiquitous as, let’s say, Maxims. Thus their breads are quite unique. Take the red bean pastry, for instance. I haven’t seen this anywhere else. Hmmm, how to describe it…

Firstly, it is very sticky. The wrinkly pastry appears to be glazed with some sort of syrupy glaze…thus it isn’t the sort of thing that you can eat neatly. Past the outer layer of sweet puff pastry is a mixture of custard and red beans. The filling wasn’t too sweet and blended into the outer layer quite well. Biting into the bun, one can taste the lightly caramelized outer pastry, which is slightly chewey, and then the lightly sweetened inner filling, which is smooth and soft. A really nice treat overall.

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Bakery, Guangzhou | , | 1 Comment

Hot Pot at Grandview

Hot Pot at Grandview Mall
Address: 8th floor, Grandview Mall (above the arcade)

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A few days ago we had lunch at a hot pot restaurant in Grandview Mall (sorry, forgot the name again…). When we got there at noon the place was pretty empty, but it did fill up somewhat during our meal. The restaurant is pretty dark and has a rather…cryptic design. Definitely not your typical hot pot restaurant.

First they served us complimentary drinks: water (lol) and a small glass of plum juice. The juice was pretty fresh and pulpy. It tasted sweet and sour and was somewhat catchy; a you sip some and then you want more sort of idea.

Unlike traditional hotpot, here diners are provided their own individual pots. For my soup base I had mushroom broth.

For my sauce, I had the sesame sauce. It came at first with a LOT of oil that I scatted off before taking the photo…

We ordered a moderate amount of food but godly, their portions were quite small for the prices that they were charging! True, the ingredients do seem more fresh and the choices are more upscale than typical hot pot places but honestly, it was quite pricey…


Clockwise from top-left: fish (really boney), fried bean curd, lamb, mushroom combo, beef, and wood ear.


Clockwise from top-left: venison, fish, bean curd, wood ear, beef, mountain yam, meat ball combination (handmade and pretty good), and beef marrow (somewhat slimy).


Vegetable combination (18 RMB!)

In the end, it was a decent meal. They had some pretty unusual offerings such as venison and beef marrow, which were interesting experiences. The leftover broth at the end was excellent. However, I think that really, for the same general hot pot experience I would go somewhere cheaper next time…

October 8, 2009 Posted by | Chinese, Guangzhou, Restaurants | | Leave a comment

Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza

Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza
Address: 3rd floor, Citic Plaza

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One night we were in the mood for Shanghainese food, so we headed to the Shanghainese restaurant on the third floor of Citic Plaza. Sorry, for again I have forgotten to grab and business card and as a result have totally forgotten the name of the establishment…But Citic Plaza…it’s not that hard to find.

The restaurant was fairly small in Chinese standards and on that weekday evening it wasn’t very crowded either. The atmosphere was quite all right but I was a little peeved that the table next to us was producing an unpleasant amount of cigarette smoke; I hate smoke.

Anyways, on to the food. First, tea was served. Their tea cups here are quite unique, as can be seen by the photos. However, I think it only had an aesthetic appeal, as the taste of the tea wasn’t enhanced in any way.

Then came two appetizers (which we didn’t order but weren’t free either), salted peanuts and marinated vegetables, suan cai. The peanuts were somewhat unique; instead of simply roasted peanuts crusted with salt these ones had a layer of some other spice added. I can’t remember how they tasted anymore, but there was something different about them…and the suan cai was just suan cai, nothing special.

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October 4, 2009 Posted by | Chinese, Guangzhou, Restaurants | , | Comments Off on Shanghainese Restaurant at Citic Plaza