[Seoul] Ilhochic 일호식

Having read about this new restaurant that serves healthy and hearty meals, I definitely had to check it out so made a reservation for dinner one evening with friends (I recommend to make a reservation beforehand especially during dinner time).

Ilhochic is located in tucked behind a main street in Hannam-dong and the nearest metro station is Hannam Station. The restaurant is on the ground floor of a four storey building and the entrance is very simplistic with just its sign on a square wood block.

We were ushered to our table which was facing the bar table so you could see the kitchen area. The atmosphere was relaxing and all the tables by the windows were already taken up by mature men and women. This is definitely not a place for the young and hip but rather for those who are into their healthy food from time to time (me!).

The menu was simple and consisted of single dishes and the Prix Fixe – the fixed price set meals which is inclusive of the side dishes. The five of us went for a set meal each and our choices included brown rice with beef and soft boiled egg, grilled mackerel with brown rice and a Korean style omelette to share.

The food was fresh and hearty and I thoroughly enjoyed every dish laid out in front of me! The price is probably a bit overpriced compared to similar restaurants but it was comfortable and cosy. Next time I would come back here and try the dinner menu and other delicacies on the menu such as the braised kimchi with pork belly and the fish cake stew. If you are looking for something healthy and hearty and tasty then give Ilhochic a try.

For those of you who don’t know, Ilhochic actually means 一好食 in Chinese. This loosely translates to Number One Tasty and the way its pronounced in Cantonese is very similar to the Korean pronunciation. Coincidence? I think not.

[Paris] Hopping around in ‘le gay paree’

We hopped on the Eurostar for a few days of sun in Paris back in August this year. I feel like having been to Paris for so many times, I know the city pretty well that I know where to go and what to do during my days out here.

My go to place for crepes is definitely Crêperie Suzette which is in the hustle of Le Marais where you have your quirky coffee shops and non stop shopping. My favourite is the galette Barbette which is a savoury pancake made from buckwheat with cheese, potatoes and bacon inside topped with crème fraîche and a drizzle of basil dressing. It’s amazing – just get it!

Nothing is complete without an early lunch at the famed Carette in Place des Vosges. We opted for the French onion soup, a sandwich platter (Parisien ‘Duo’) and a lemon crêpe for afters.

We were on our way to the Eiffel Tower when a small Popellini caught our eye. Must go to get my pistachio fix! Deliciousness every time, small but filling and one is certainly enough.

We lazed around on the grass with a view of the tower in sight. It was a lovely afternoon before saying ‘Au revoir Paris’ and then ‘Hello London again!’

[Hong Kong] Butao Ramen

As many people may know already, a few years ago, the ramen wave started in Hong Kong. These ramen places have popped up all over the place in Hong Kong with Ichiran becoming one of the most popular ramen places with constant queues. I was not a big ramen fan before but I was intrigued as to what makes people go crazy over these bowls of noodles in pork broth.

I have passed Butao Ramen on Wellington Street in Central for countless times and have only made my first ever visit last Friday. We got there just before 6:30pm and there were still seats available as I did expect there to be some queuing since it was reaching peak dinner time. We were seated at the bar table just in front of the open kitchen and could hear the chefs tending to the orders left and right.

We were given a glass of water and the menus with two order forms. As I flicked through the menu, I was immediately taken with the ‘Black King’. It contains black sauce made primarily from black garlic and squid ink are immersed together with their original pork soup stock to create a black soup base. Well why not try something new and black, right? Once you choose your soup base out of the four options, you can add / adjust the level of spiciness, garnish, etc to your liking before choosing the texture of your noodles. I picked ‘hard’ noodles as I prefer to chew the noodles.

When our order arrived within 5 minutes, I was really excited to try the ‘Black King’. As I added some spicy beansprouts from the table which is self service and sprinkled some sesame seeds over my bowl, I was ready to begin. I picked up a part of the black ball in the middle of the bowl and tried it without hesitation. It was minced pork but coated with black sauce. The taste was not strong but very unique and in the end you can taste that it is indeed pork. I then started to dig into my noodles swimming in my bowl of black soup. The texture was perfect and the soup base was amazing. You can taste the pork broth but also a hint of squid which gives it a bit of a seafood kick. The slices of pork were cooked to perfection and I was left feeling very satisfied with the meal.

I would definitely recommend the ‘Black King’ because it really is so tasty and everything about it is spot on. The next time I come back here, I would like to try their ‘Red King’ which are their spicy noodles. Butao Ramen currently has four locations in Hong Kong and we went to the one in Central. Staff are friendly and the restaurant, although not big, has a nice atmosphere but not one to stay long in, so just eat your noodles and go.

[London] Crosstown Doughnuts

So I finally made my way to Crosstown Doughnuts last week to try one of their doughnuts. I really didn’t think I could have eaten two considering how large each one was! So which flavour did I pick? Well it was a tough choice since they had ten different flavours laid out at the counter in front of me. So what happens next? Of course I ask the staff what’s your best selling doughnut here? She smiles and says the Creme Brûlée Doughnut and the Sea Salt Caramel and Banana Cream Doughnut are their bestsellers. I think not being able to see the Creme Brûlée Doughnut on site made me want to try it even more. She said that the Creme Brûlée Doughnuts are just sitting and will be ready to eat in 30 minutes or so. So I ordered one Creme Brûlée Doughnut and a latte to go. Within a few minutes, I had my doggy bag and coffee with me.

The Creme Brûlée Doughnut was divine. You could actually see the vanilla seeds from the vanilla cream once you bite into the doughnut. The creme brûlée glaze on top was not sweet and just right for those of you who prefer sweet things to just have the right amount of sweetness without being too OTT. I shared the doughnut as I think having one to myself would have really filled me up. I will be going back there to try the others but will just have to take it one at a time.

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