(in order of consumption)
1. Thai style mini pancakes @ top floor of Central World, Bangkok
This stand immediately caught my eye as I strolled around the food hall in Central World.
It sells custard, ube, and pandan flavored bite-sized pancakes with a mochi-like texture, filled with coconut flakes, and served warm & freshly off the grill. These are like a hybrid between a mochi & pancake, and have the perfect chewiness without being too sticky. I actually bought a box of 10 and almost finished it by myself right away #noshame. The second day I came back again and got 3 more boxes to share with my family and everything was gone in day!
2. Taro pastry & mochi // 芋头酥&芋头糯米滋 @ Fay Da Bakery, New York City
For serious taro lovers only- these are hands down the best of best I have tried! The taro pastry has a flaky exterior & is best eaten warm, while the mochi is covered with coconut flakes & is amazing when chilled in the fridge for a while. Both are stuffed to the brims with fresh, milky, silky, and not-overly-sweet taro paste. Every time I go to NYC now, I make sure to bring back a box of these pastries & mochi (which always ends up only lasting like one day lol).
3. Wagyu sando // 和牛サンド @ Sakamai, New York City
You probably saw too many wagyu sandwich videos on your facebook feed, and this is probably one of them. In my opinion, it's 1000% worth the hype (and $, rip my wallet). Think melt-in-your-mouth wagyu, deep fried in panko, sandwiched between toasted milky Hokkaido bread with a special tonkatsu-like sauce. Every single bite was took me to heaven. I would have it every meal if I had an infinite amount of $.
4. La Barracuda @ Tulum, Mexico
I actually found this restaurant randomly on google maps haha. I was trying to find another burrito place but saw this nearby with 1000+ reviews & 4+ stars! The seafood combo, or feast in my words, comes with assorted grilled squid/octupus/etc, veggies, and seasoned rice. Everything is full of mexican spices & flavors, unlike many of the grilled seafood dishes I have tried that tasted rather plain. It was definitely my most memorable meal in Mexico, sorry to all the taco stands!
5. Meat Dining Rakugaki @ Shibuya, Tokyo
An insta-famous izakaya in the alleys of Shibuya, specializing in meat as the name implies! Using my broken Japanese, I was somehow able to successfully reserve a spot on the same day. They are most famous for their thick cut beef tongue- which turned out to be one of the best meats I had on this trip! Stuffed with scallions and garlic, it was chewy without being tough while bursting with flavors. The wagyu sushi and wagyu don were also to die for, with the perfect combination of melt-in-your-mouth meat, fragrant rice, and a delicious sauce idk how to describe!
6. Hiroshimayaki @ Okonomimura, Hiroshima
Hiroshimayaki, or Hiroshima style okonomoyaki, is different from traditional Osaka style okonomoyaki in that all ingredients are layered instead of mixed together. As a first time visitor to hiroshima, Okonomimura, a hiroshimayaki "theme park" with 24 stalls each selling slightly different variations of hiroshimayaki, is the best place to tryout this special dish. I randomly picked a stall and ordered a "various things" hiroshimayaki (that's what it actually says on the menu haha!). It had a base of the must-have cabbage & soba, then topped with rice cakes, pork, crispy fish chips, and of course an egg. Lastly, it was drizzled with a house-made special sauce and topped with nori. The whole combination (although it pretty much tasted like an Osaka-style okonomiyaki) was so rich & filled with unami! The experience itself was also super enjoyable, with everyone gathered around a grill, watching the owner magically put everything together.
7. Ume @ Brooklyn
One of the most memorable omakase restaurants I've been to! With Japanese garden inspired interiors and art-like presentations, the restaurant immediately put me in zen mode. Since everything came at once, I can eat the fish in whatever order I want #rebellious. The actual food was extremely fresh as well, and I felt like I was at a DIY sushi bar!
Of course, as someone who can live off uni, I had to be extra and get the uni don & special oyster as well. The uni don was super fresh and rich, with the addition of an extra but necessary egg yolk. The uni & toro & caviar also added an extra dimension to the oyster and was perfect for someone like me who loves adding toppings on everything. Even better, for an omakase, the price was unbeatable.
8. Crêpes @ Cafe Breizh, Paris
Of course, I had to try a true Parisian style crêpe when I went to Paris. Recommended by many food bloggers on Instagram, this cafe definitely lived up to the hype. The truffle gyuère ham crêpe had the most perfect crispy & cheesy exterior and fragrant cheesy filling & perfectly running egg without being too heavy. On the other hand, the traditional butter sugar crêpe was silky, light, and sugary without being too sweet. A perfect way to start the day!
9. Dorayaki & hot chocolate @ TOMO Patisserie, Paris
One windy & cold day in Paris, I was craving for something sweet but didn’t want to go too far (as always). I opened google maps, typed in "desserts near me", and found this Japanese patisserie serving various dorayaki, wagashi, and light dishes. I went with the “le Paris-kyoto” dorayaki and “chocolat chaud soba” hot chocolate, which turned out to be one of the best decisions during this trip!!! The dorayaki was super unique with French touches- think hazelnut creme & pecan praline sandwiched between two mini fluffy pancakes. Moreover, the hot chocolate was probably the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, having a rich decadent chocolate flavour combined with fragrant and nutty notes of mixed-grains.
(checkout #sweetsaltysally on instagram for all my cooking creations)
This year, I made it a top priority to cook more when I moved out of my dorm & now have access to a proper kitchen. I got pretty sick of takeouts and craved for lighter & more nutritious food. By taking my favourite Asian recipes and subbing healthier proteins + more veggies, I was able to to make healthier but also delicious meals (of course some of them ended up tasting not that good hahaha). I also experimented with baking healthy (ish) desserts with my favourite ingredients- oatmeal, pumpkin, nuts, bananas, etc! Next up for 2020, my main goal is to improve my plating!
Cheers to a more delicious 2020 :)