Everyone who knows me knows I love food – but Xinjiang cuisine has a super special place in my heart. The food is SPICY, intense and packed with all kinds of indescribable flavours. And so I asked my trusty temporary housemate Fang if there’s a restaurant in Hong Kong that serves Xinjiang Cuisine… and… ding ding ding… she told me about Ba Yi. It’s one of those famous places where you have to book a time slot in advance. And yes – they will kick you out when your time is up. And no – they don’t care if you haven’t finished your meal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I was honestly astonished at how delicious, delectable and authentic the whole experience was. If it wasn’t for the strange decor and the hefty price tag, I would have felt like I was back in Singapore. And BTW – the super hot is actually super hot… Truth be told, it was a little too hot for my palate. I should have prudently chosen a less spicy soup – but hey.
I ordered the mixed set that came with two seasonings: salt and miso. I personally preferred the miso. Whilst the dish didn’t offend my tastebuds, I failed to see what the big deal was. The texture of the meat was chewy and tough-ish. Some pieces were delicious, but a lot of the pieces were simply not to my liking. I wouldn’t call it much to look at either…. Having said that, I loved the pickles and the soup. The pickles were packed with flavour. And the tail meat in the soup was incredibly tender.
After a week of admittedly very good pub grub, my palate was desperate for a change. And no, I didn’t want Indian food or Chinese food. I decided to save that for when I got back. Hey – I do not go to a far away country to feel like I’m back home. A quick Google search later, I found Damascus Gate: a Syrian and Lebanese Restaurant on Dublin’s Camden Street Upper. It was Friday night and we didn’t have a reservation, but we managed to get a table for two.
Two teetotallers cannot be trusted to attend a booze tour. We should know better. We don’t. So we decide to do two things that are a ‘must-do’ on the Dublin bucket list. We decide to go to the Jameson Whiskey Bow Street Tour and the Guinness Storehouse Brewery Tour. Hey – just cause we don’t drink doesn’t mean we should miss out on all the fun. But is it fun if you’re not drinking?
When I found out that I was coming back to the Kansai area for a business trip, I crinkled and raised my eyebrows at the same time. It wasn’t on my plans. But when life is ready to bring you full circle, it will do it with a big smile on its face.
I got a seat at the counter and boy was I tickled by the sight of all those okonomiyaki neatly assembled. One chef was cutting the cabbage. Another was preparing the okonomiyaki. Another was making the negiyaki: made with scallions instead of cabbage. And another was expertly tossing noodles to make yakisoba. If you love cooking like I do – open kitchens like this one are a HUGE treat.