Breakfast @ Doughnut Vault – Chicago, USA

Doughnut Vault

USA 098

401 1/2 N. Franklin Street
Chicago IL 60654

The Review

Unfortunately I did not heed the reviews and showed up at the Doughnut Vault an hour after the opening time. I should have arrived half an hour before they opened! This place cooks their donuts before opening and once they are gone, they are gone. 

Of course, this meant that by the time I arrived I was given the last item available, the Gingerbread Stack. Accordingly I was not able to properly review the full range of donuts available. While the Gingerbread Stack was pleasant enough, it lacked the freshness and flavour punch of the donuts I had on previous visits to Do-Rite Donuts (This might be because my order had been sitting on the counter for too long, as opposed to Do-Rite Donuts’ offerings which are freshly baked every hour or so). Nonetheless, I would certainly given it a try should I end up in Chicago again, although next time I will definately arrive earlier.

The Meal

USA 097

Gingerbread Stack

The Doughnut Vault on Urbanspoon

Lunch @ Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Chicago, USA

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

439 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60654

The Review

A very nice, pizza with a buttery crust and ample cheese and tomato sauce. However, it did not adequately represent the Chicago Deep Dish I was seeking. I would have no problems ordering it again if I was in town and looking for an easy pizza fix but I would not go out of my way for it.

The Meal

USA 099

The Malnati Chicago Classic
Deep Dish Pizza with lean sausage, some extra cheese and vine-ripened tomato on Buttercrust.

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Breakfast @ Do-Rite Donuts – Chicago, USA

Do-Rite Donuts

50 W. Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

The Review

Best. Donuts. Ever.

Or at least in my experience. Every donut was fresh, fluffy and perfect. The Cinnamon Crunch donut may have been the plainest of the three options but it still packed a punch when it comes to flavour. The bacon on the Candied Maple Bacon donut was perfectly crisp and full of enough flavour to provide an amazing contrast to the dough to which it was affixed. The star of the show, however, was the Banoffee Pie, featuring a donut filled with delicious banana and toffee filling. 

So good I might travel to Chicago again just to visit this place.

The Meal

USA 059

Cinnamon Crunch

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Banoffee Pie

USA 061

Candied Maple Bacon

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Dinner @ Alinea – Chicago, USA


1723 N Halsted
Chicago, IL 60614

Notable accolades

Three Michelin Stars, Michelin Guide 2012

Number 7, S. Pellegrino’s The World’s Best Restaurants 2012

The Meal

(not shown)
A glass of Lemonade
wind chime

USA 028A Napkin

USA 029Serving Spoons

USA 030Steelhead Roe
coconut, curry, yuzu

accompanied by a glass of Gimonnet Brut with St. Germain and Esterhazy Beerenausiese

USA 032

Oyster Leaf

King Crab
passionfruit, heart of palm, allspice

carrot, chamomile

Razor Claim
shiso, soy, daikon

accompanied by a glass of Georg Breuer ‘Terra Montosa’ Riesling, Rheingau 2009

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Miso prepared in a coffee siphon

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Woolly Pig
fennel, orange squid

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acting like agedashi tofu (featuring miso from the coffee siphon)

accompanied by a glass of Bodegas Godeval ‘Vina Godeval” Valdorras 2010

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A glass of miso from the coffee siphon

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thai banana, sea salt, kaffir lime

accompanied by a glass of Chehalem ‘3 Vineyards’ Pinot Gris, Willamette 2011

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Burnt Morels
ramps, asparagus, smocked date

accompanied by a glass of Descendientes de J. Palacios ‘Petalos’ Bierzo, Spain 2009

USA 001 (1)

Hot Potato
cold potato, black truffle, butter

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A close-up of the 60 or so accompaniments to the lamb

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Black Truffle
explosion, romaine, parmesan

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inspired by Miro

accompanied by a glass of Valpolicella Classico, Superiore ‘TB’ Bussolo 2006

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Anjou Pear
onion, brie, smoking cinnamon

accompanied by The Rare Wine Co. ‘Boston Bual – Special Reserve’ Madeira

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five other flavours

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buttermilk, sorrel, macadamia

accompanied by a glass of Paolo Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2011

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helium, green apple

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A video

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White Chocolate
strawberry, english pea, lemon

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The insides

USA 058

The aftermath

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Lunch @ Johnny Rockets – Los Angeles, USA

Johnny Rockets

6801 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA


Describing itself as an “All-American” hamburger joint, lunch at this chain was a quick fix after our flight from Sydney was delayed as we did not want to eat lunch any later and risk being too full for our dinner reservation.

The food was promptly served and generally passable even if forgettable. I would only recommend eating here if you were in Hollywood & Highland and did not want to go to the effort of travelling somewhere better for lunch.

The Meal

P7293039Chili Cheese Fries


The #12
Cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, white onion, pickles, mayonnaise & their supposed signature “red red sauce®”

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Dinner @ Red Medicine – Los Angeles, USA

Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211


Established by chef Jordan Kahn, a veteran of notable restaurants such as Alinea, Michael Mina and Per Se, Red Medicine seeks to provide a modern, western take on Vietnamese food. 

This restaurant is infamous less so for its food but more for Chef Kahn’s decision to kick out and publicly out a LA Times critic who visited the restaurant in its early days. Neverthless, treated as a restaurant serving western food with Vietnamese flourishes, as opposed to a restaurant serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine, it certainly delivers an excellent meal. The food was mostly excellent with only two dishes falling into the “good” category. Services was professional and attentive if not overly friendly, although this could be due to the crowding of the restaurant when we visited.

The major drawback with the restaurant is the darkness of the dining room, most likely designed to create a hip environment, and the poor acoustics making it almost impossible to hold a conversation unless you wish to shout the entire time. Provided you do not need to talk at length with your dining companions, you should be fine.

The Meal

P7293047#73 Novo Fogo Silver Cachata, Lime, Sugar
served in a Mason Jar

The novelty of this cocktail, being served in a mason jar, was half of the attraction. The cocktail certainly contained ample alcohol for $10 but was too strong for my liking.


#70 Johnny Drum Bourbon, sapling maple liqueur, maraschino liqueur, shaken with an orange slice and served over crushed ice with seasonal berries and mint

Again a strongly alcoholic drink only slightly sweetened by the myriad of berries sitting on top of the ice. Again, a decent drop of alcohol for $10 but I personally prefer my spirits served neat or diluted by more refreshing flavours than this middling contrast.


Chinese Lion Peppers
almond skins, honey, soy, violet basil, dates

This course was our attempt to add some vegetables to a meat-centric meal and it was an excellent addition. The Chinese Lion Peppers contained excellent flavour and the breadcrumbs added a nice texture to the dish. Fantastic.


Crispy Spring Rolls
dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbs, chili

Unfortunately the photo for this dish does not do it justice. The spring rolls were perfectly cooked, with a crisp outer shell and decent amounts of crab on the inside. While there was no strong flavour aside from the crab meat, it still provided a tasty twist on the traditional spring roll


Chicken Dumplings
caramelised sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures

This dish provides a do-it-yourself takes on san choy bao. A dish containing nine compartments featured four crisp meatballs of chicken mince that could each be placed in provided lettuce cups and to which a range of accompaniments could be added, including pickles, scallions and various sauces. While not traditional dumplings as described in the menu, this dish provided quality ingredients that could be molded together to form quite the fun and tasty snack.


Pork Rillette
crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs

An extremely generous portion of rillette served in a cocotte covered by salad that had to be removed to reveal the feast that lay underneath. The rillette was warm and all of the ingredients worked well together even if by combining so many together there was no true standout flavour.


Accompanying croutons for the pork rillette


caramelised black vinegar, goji berry, spring onion, dried almond

Don’t let the picture fool you; this dish contained two very large pieces of caramelised pork shoulder that fell apart at the first touch of a fork and which melted in your mouth. Not dissimilar from Momofuku Seiobo’s caramelised pork shoulder, the version at Red Medicine acted as a true main course, as opposed to Seiobo’s play on petit fours, with stronger, heavier flavours. This dish was divine.


Heirloom Rice Porridge
Santa Barbara uni, egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter

Probably Red Medicine’s most famous dish, it appears at first instance to be your standard rice porridge eaten at dessert. However, the savoury nature of the dish quickly becomes apparent courtesy of what appears to be three sticks of butter mixed into the porridge.  The savoury flavour is then further enhanced once the egg yolk and uni is mixed in to the porridge to transform an attractive dish into an unattractive but absolutely delicious bowel of glop. A truly memorable dish.


Birch Ice
almond praline, red current, orange blossom, jasmine

Initially mistaking this dish, ordered by the table next to us, for something else on the dessert menu, we accidentally ordered the right dish and I am glad we did. Served in a clear bowl so that you can see the bubbles forming underneath a crunchy crust, once the crust and contents underneath were mixed together every spoonful conveyed something cold and refreshing while extremely sweet to the point that I was worried my teeth would fall out. A visually stunning and delicious dessert. 

Red Medicine on Urbanspoon