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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.


Entries in Favorites (14)


Le Bistrot d'Eygalières "Chez Bru"

Okay, something really weird happened. I swear I posted 2 updates here from Sydney in the past few days, but the site somehow seems to have rolled back and lost them. I really hope that doesn't happen again. Anyway, in case you don't know, I just moved to Sydney, Australia for the semester which is why I haven't been posting this past week. I'm ready to continue now though. :)


Next up on our trip was Le Bistrot d'Eygalières "Chez Bru" in the small village of Eygalèires. This was Thursday (about 1 month ago now), and we had a pretty interesting day lined up. For lunch, we had reservations at aforementioned Chez Bru, which is a tiny Michelin 2 star that just got promoted in the guide this year. For Thursday dinner, we had booked Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, which is also a Michelin 2 star, but was actually a 3 star that got demoted this year. We thought it would be quite interesting to try both on the same day. Anyway, Jardin des Sens is coming up later; for now I'll talk about Chez Bru.

Eygalières is pretty close to Maillane so our drive was pretty short. The village is also quite different from Bonnieux and Les Baux. It's much more quaint and simple, without the extravagant views of our previous 2 star meals. Chez Bru's setting is vastly different - it's in the village center on the side of the road, with a little sign and a small porch. From inside the little restaurant you just have a simple view of the sidewalk, with the occasional car passing by and person looking in through the window. It was far less awe-inspiring than Capelongue or Baumanière, but comfortable in a homey, simple way.


Chez Bru certainly took home the prize for coolest menu cover. It had this little metallic, raised (I think the word is embossed?) drawing on it, and just looked really cool. I had to take a picture. Compared to the modest outside of the restaurant, the design of the menus, the chosen silverware, and the all-black waitstaff were surprisingly modern in style. The words "chezbru" on the menu, unlike the old-style logo outside, were in a futuristic, lower-case, sans-serif font.

Anyway, this was the only lunch we had at a starred restaurant. The menu had 2 choices of tasting menus - a regular tasting that listed 6 courses for 75 euros, and a Chef's Surprise tasting with no details for 90 euros. They told us it was okay for people at the table to get both, so my dad and I quickly jumped on the surprise menu while the others went with the regular one. My aunt soon changed her mind and joined us.

cured ham While we were having the menu discussion, we were given a couple of trays of this cured ham. I didn't get the details of where it came from, but I should have. It was very smooth and tender - a bit leaner than prosciutto but with just as much flavor and a soft texture.

pied de cochon with balsamic vinegar, mustard, tomato, cucumber and asparagus This first dish (I guess it would count as the amuse) was an absolute all-star - easily one of my fondest memories from the trip. I haven't really tried much pied de cochon (pig's trotter) before, but from what I've had I really love this stuff. This had a deliciously soft, fatty texture, and the balsamic added a perfect balance of sweet and sour to the whole thing. The veggies on top were a nice refresher in between bites of the trotter.

marinated tuna with avocado cream and and ginger caramel This appetizer came from the regular menu, and like at Baumanière this tuna was the weakest part of the meal. The sweetness of the caramel was a bit overpowering, and the fish itself was just okay. After my two tuna experiences, I'm becoming convinced that the Japanese are just better at using it... :)

duo of langoustines - a croustillant of langoustine with soy vinaigrette and a tartare of vegetables, and a simple sauteed langoustine with a lemon/olive oil mousse This dish was another all-star. These were easily the two best langoustines I've ever had. The croustillant ("crusty" is the best translation, I guess) on the left came from the regular menu (and was on the regular tasting too). It was a langoustine wrapped in some kind of bready crust and deep-fried, and it was wonderful. The crust was extremely crisp without being greasy. The langoustine on the inside was searing hot but retained a beautiful, bouncy texture. I think my dad found the vinaigrette a tad too sweet but I thought it was perfect. The vegetable tartare was a delicate complement. The langoustine with lemon/olive oil mousse on the right wasn't listed, and it too was absolutely delicious. The mousse was light and fluffy, with a strong lemon flavor and aroma but little sourness. The langoustine was cooked perfectly. There's just no other way to put it. It was simultaneously tender and bouncy, without losing any substance. This is what all clawed shellfish should aspire to taste like.

lobster in a potato mousse with truffles, baby spinach and Marenne oysters This lobster was another winner. We thought at first it might be boring to have lobster right after langoustine, but that thought went away right after a whiff of this little bowl. An intense aroma of truffle tends to make you forget, I guess. I must say that while the lobster itself wasn't as good as the langoustines we'd just had, the potato mousse with truffle made up for it. The spinach and oyster are hidden beneath. I'm not a big oyster-lover and I thought it was a bit weird here; I probably would have liked the dish more without the oyster. The spinach served to cut the heaviness of the potato. Very good all around.

cream of foie gras with fig confit and saffron mousse No, you're not reading that wrong. It does say "cream of foie gras," as in a foie gras soup. This was a special part of the surprise menu, and you guys should have seen our collective jaws drop when the waiter explained what it was. And it was really good. Yeah, it was the richest soup I've ever had - so rich, in fact, that we were convinced they put the figs in just to cut the richness a little bit. But it had a very pure foie gras flavor. It was like an essence of foie gras. The bit of saffron and truffle evened things out a little. I sure am glad I had this; I mean who else can say they've had cream of foie gras soup?

croustillant of milk-fed pork with a rosemary milk mousse We were contemplating what main dish we'd get. My aunt doesn't eat lamb, so she was really crossing her fingers that it wouldn't be lamb. My dad and I were down for anything. We were happy when we got this pork dish, since we hadn't really seen any pork on the menus during our trip. The skin was crackly and caramelized, while the meat was tender and salty. At first it seems comparable to a Chinese style crispy pork, but it was actually quite different, with a sweet sauce and altogether different texture. The veggies on the side (those are girolle mushrooms under the foam) were all pretty good. This was the only pork main of the trip, I think.

camembert, pont l'Évêque, fresh goat cheese It felt a bit much to get cheese during lunch, but I guess the French can handle it. All three were quite nice; I still like Pont l'Évêque the best.

madeleines, nuts, chocolates Total party foul on my part: I forgot to take pictures of the dessert. This is really the only photo that I completely forgot about. We got a duo of red berry desserts - a red berry gazpacho and a red berry creme brulee. I remember the creme brulee being a bit on the sweet side and the gazpacho being light and refreshing. The plate had a cool hard sugar design on it. Also, these madeleines were great, but not quite as good as some of the ones we'd have in Paris later in the trip.

In the end, I'd say the food at Chez Bru is on the whole excellent. This meal contained some of the most memorable dishes of the whole trip for me - the pig's trotter, the langoustines, the foie gras soup - and the quality of the food can certainly run with the big boys. The service is admittedly not at the same level as places like Baumanière or the Paris restaurants. The waitstaff was very friendly and professional, but the service wasn't as thorough and complete. Still, I'd go back in a heartbeat. The food was superb.


Reef Cafe


So I'm finally back to posting about Boston. As some of you know I tend to eat a lot of the same stuff over and over again while I'm at school, so this post is as appropriate a start as any. I hereby continue to work through the menu at Reef Cafe, my food destination of choice around here in Allston. I eat at Reef Cafe usually at least every 3 days or so, often in the form of takeout or delivery (see a previous post here). It's a very small, family-run, styrofoam-plate Lebanese joint, and damn the food is good. The people there are as nice as anyone you'll ever meet (usually, younger brother Salam is at the counter when I walk in). I implore you to go if you get the chance!

meat pie - $1.5 The meat pie, which took me a while to discover, is a revelation. They're not too big, and I usually get one as a side for whatever other item I'm eating, but to be honest I'd be happy eating 3 or 4 of them and calling it a meal. I have no idea what exactly is in it - it's some kind of lamb mixture if I'm not mistaken - but it really is delicious. The crust is doughy and thin, and if you're lucky and the pies just came out, wonderfully crisp.

chicken shawarma rice plate - $7.95 Perhaps the most go-to thing I get at Reef is the chicken shawarma. Like many of the items, it comes in either as either a rice plate or a sandwich. I usually get the sandwich (actually, I like it better that way), but I for some reason don't have a good photograph of that, so I'll leave it for another time. When I'm a bit more hungry, I get the huge rice plate. Again, I have no idea what goes into the chicken shawarma - the color seems to indicate a tomato-based sauce, but I don't actually know. I just know it's delicious, and I have to have it at least once or twice a week or I go into withdrawal. That white stuff at the top of the plate next to the pink pickled radishes is a devilishly good lemon-garlic sauce/mixture. More posts about Reef Cafe will surely come in time. They just have so much more good stuff, including lamb-beef shawarma, chicken livers, soujouk... even their french fries. I've contemplated selling out and getting a Reef Cafe t-shirt.


Spring Moon - 嘉麟楼

Here is some dim sum at 嘉麟楼 (Spring Moon), the Chinese restaurant inside the Peninsula Hong Kong, with me, Geoff, and my dad. The place is famous for inventing XO sauce, which I admit was very good. I technically wasn't supposed to take pictures of stuff in here, so consider these deep cover arthur hungry SPY PICS. That's right, I put my life on the line for you guys.

deep-fried stuffed taro ball deep-fried stuffed taro ball
jellyfish, roast pork, steamed chicken jellyfish, roast pork, steamed chicken
baked roast pork pastry baked roast pork pastry
steamed shrimp dumplings steamed shrimp dumplings
duck with couscous wrapped in some big leaf duck with couscous wrapped in some big leaf This meal was great. The taro ball is one of my favorite dim sum items, and they made it great here... crisp and flaky. The roast pork was, I believe, the best roast pork I've ever had. Deliciously fat and tasty. Odd to say that about an item as common as roast pork, but I really think so. Roast pork pastry is another of my favorites and as you can guess thanks to the roast pork was really good here. Shrimp dumplings were standard (which means really good in HK). The duck dish was very interesting... dunno how to describe the stuff other than couscous. A little salty but the mix of textures was good.

mango pudding mango pudding
fried milk yellow bun fried milk yellow bun
steamed milk yellow bun steamed milk yellow bun People that know me have heard me hype this up forever: there is a good chance that this place has the best mango pudding in the world. No exaggeration. You can also get the mango pudding in the lobby lounge, or get it room service if you're staying at the hotel. I remember the first time I tried it, I was staying there, and we got mango pudding like every day. It's just so damn good, I can't even describe it. The texture is moist, not too rubbery, perfect mango flavor... it's just awesome. If you're EVER in Hong Kong, you must at least go to the Peninsula lobby and try this out. You won't be dissappointed.

The buns were also very good. Apparently, this place also invented these buns which are now a fairly known/common item. Translated literally they are "milk yellow buns" which doesn't describe them too well. They're just buns that have a sweet egg-yolky center. These are the best ones I've had. Texture of the buns was great, and the filling is absolutely delicious. Really, if you get a chance, you should go eat a meal at this place so you can try the roast pork, mango pudding, and the buns.

But at the very least TRY THE MANGO PUDDING.


Crystal Jade - 翡翠拉麵小籠包

This is gonna be another Monster Post... this time from 翡翠拉麵小籠包 (Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao) in the Harbour City mall. Surprising how many good places there are to eat inside Harbour City. I also went to this place twice during my stay in Hong Kong. It was just so good Geoff and I had to go back. "La mian" means pulled noodles, and "xiao long bao" is a steamed pork dumpling, also known to some as a soup dumpling. As you might guess, this place specializes in these two items.

ginger and scallion noodles ginger and scallion noodles

soup noodles with fried short ribs soup noodles with fried short ribs

za zeung noodles - noodles with a chinese meat sauce za zeung noodles - noodles with a chinese meat sauce

noodles with beef in chili oil noodles with beef in chili oil I guess I'll talk about the noodles first. Noodles are a serious business in China. My dad's side of the family originates from Shandong province, an area in northeastern China. You may recognize it as the cause of the May 4th movement in 1919, when Chinese students demanded the Chinese government reject the treaty of Versailles because it left Shandong under Japanese control despite Woodrow Wilson's proclamation of national self-determination for everyone. It was also the home of Yuan Shikai, a Qing dynasty military man who switched sides and became the first president of the Republic of China after the fall of the last emperor. Historians often blame him for slowing down China's need for development at the time. See Mom, Dad, I actually do learn stuff at school. History aside now. It also happens that Shandong people know their noodles. Legend has it that my grandfather would reject noodles that were mere hours old, demanding freshly pulled ones instead. Apparently he could really tell the difference. Anyway, it was comforting to be able to see inside the Crystal Jade kitchen where there was a noodle guy pulling fresh noodles full-time. The noodles are simply awesome. I'd have to say the best was the ginger-scallion - simple and delicious. But each one was great (and there were many other variations). The chili one had just a kick of heat. The ribs were crisp and tasty. The freshly pulled noodles are just incredible. Perfect texture and taste... Don't know how else to describe it. Anyway, on to the rest.

xiao long bao - steamed pork dumplings xiao long bao - steamed pork dumplings

baked turnip bun baked turnip bun

scallion scallion "big" pancake

red oil wontons red oil wontons

pan fried pork buns pan fried pork buns

fried red bean cake fried red bean cake The xiao long bao were EXCELLENT. Probably the best I've ever had. Soupy and delicious on the inside, perfectly textured thing wrapping on the outside. I could eat these all day. The turnip bun was also great - flaky and starchy. The scallion pancake was literally called "big" so we had to try it. It was damn filling, but a good twist on the average scallion pancake - much more bready and little grease. The wontons were in the same chili oil as the beef; again, the wontons were excellent just like every form of bun at this place. The pan fried pork buns were crispy on the bottom... they could seriously challenge the ones I had in Beijing. As for the dessert, I'm normally not a big fan of red bean but this thing is one of the better Chinese desserts. Gooey, crispy, delicious. If you're in Hong Kong, go to this place. Harbour City mall.

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