Mash Burger: Best Burger/Worst Burger

Food: 2/5 Ambiance: 4.5/5 Service: 4.5/5 Cleanliness: 5/5 Bathrooms: 3/5

Good to Know:  A “medium” burger is really a “medium-rare”.

I procrastinated a bit because I am a bit sad to start with this one. I moved to Shenzhen 2 and half years ago and read that Mash Gastropub is the place to be for the best burgers in town. My first experience there did confirm this bold title, so I was excited to rally my friends to treat ourselves again. Still tucked away from the big streets of Futian, Mash hasn’t changed except for newer menus. Okay, I can deal with that. But when the burgers came out, the difference was day and night (night and day?)…

Food:

I’m trying to get better at being decisive so I quickly decided to try a new burger. The Chingonario burger description satisfied my curiosity for a spicy burger. The special red chimichurri sauce is comprised of a blend of smoked, sun-dried tomatoes and Mexican chilies, which actually did taste well with the creamy guacamole and sharp cheddar cheese. That was not the problem. Unfortunately, what broke the chain of good events was the beef patty! Yes, I know the chefs care deeply about the quality of the meat. It was apparent. But the issue was it was way undercooked (all 5 burgers were undercooked). I ordered a medium burger, but twice, it came out a medium rare. My husband ordered a medium-rare, but really, it was a rare (although he was too nice to send it back). What did I like? The bun. It held the patty and condiments and kept its integrity, and was toasted perfectly. What else? The fries. Seasoned-well, crispy but still mushy inside. Ask for the wasabi mayo dip. And the milkshake. Hand-crafted in front of you, loaded with toppings. Very American-diner like. There’s a fair selection of  craft beer, we didn’t see anything local at all.

Ambiance:

Mash Gastropub reminds me of a modern (hipster but not too hipster) restaurant tucked away in old hutongs in Beijing. It was a quiet and cozy place with people just serious about beer and burger. The lighting encouraged intimate conversations and there were plenty of room for indoor-outdoor dining. I would say this is a nice place for a 3rd date or so.

Cleanliness:

A solid approval of cleanliness. Seats, tables, and plates had no chips or dents. Tables were waited and cleaned appropriately. The bathroom was basic; all the necessities were there, and if you’re a woman, I hope you don’t mind staring into a urinal when you’re doing your business.

Final Thoughts:

I’d like to stay positive and think that we just had bad luck with our patties. Considering the burgers are on the pricy end (a basic Farm Boy was 85 rmb), I’d have to think twice before going. And if I do go, I would cross my fingers during the taxi ride.

Breakfast at the Westin: They Do Bacon Right

Food: 4/5 Ambiance: 4.5/5 Service: 4.5/5 Cleanliness: 4.5/5 Bathrooms: 5/5

Good to Know: Special order drinks like thai iced tea & iced coffee for free.

If you know someone who works in China most likely you will have seen endless beachy resort pictures posted on social media…for a whole. entire. week. This is the famous “Golden Week” in the beginning of October to celebrate China’s National Day. Many of us flock to Southeast Asia to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life–including me! I got to enjoy some solo recharge time in Phuket, Bangkok at The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa.

My goal was to eat, swim, read, sleep, and repeat. So naturally, I chose a place based on food reviews and comfort. This post will be about the breakfast buffet bar, the main highlight of the day.

Ambiance:

The breakfast area highlighted a lifestyle of indoor-outdoor living with seating options in both areas. The obvious benefit to sitting outside is unbeatable sea view. Outside is quieter and calmer because you escape the noise of dishes clashing and chairs scooting in and out. However, sit inside to escape the heat, especially when eating hot bowls of noodle soup. The hotel has two main dining areas to disperse the crowd. One area connects to a game room, which felt less grand but still comfortable. Ask to sit in the main dining area to get access to better variety of food.

Cleanliness:

This is a 5-star hotel, so do come with high expectations. Dishes and utensils were clean, spills were cleaned up immediately, and the seating chairs were not worn down. One thing that surprised me was the constant swatting to get rid of flies around your food. This is an unavoidable consequence of indoor-outdoor living. The public bathrooms always smelled of magnolia and soap and towels were abundant.

Food:

The first day I immediately gravitated towards the bacon. And they do bacon right. A tray full of crispy, slightly-burnt bacon was placed at the first of the buffet line. My English-style breakfast came with herb-roasted tomatoes and beans with a hint of spice and peppers to give it a kick. The potatoes alternated between roasted and crispy hash browns, both to my liking. Depending on the cook, you may receive an overdone omelette or a watery poached egg. For the Asian palette, you can try the noodle station. The broth is light, fresh, and well-seasoned. The fishballs were chewy and not fishy at all. I wouldn’t recommend their green egg noodle. It tasted bland and the texture came out too mushy. As always, take advantage of the juice bar where you will find refreshing mixes like, carrot & ginger, spinach, mango, banana & milk, passion fruit & orange juice. All equally tasty and consistently chilled.

Final thoughts:

The breakfast is what you would expect at a resort. It has a decent variety of western/asian food but some typical staples were missing like, smoked salmon and dim sum dumplings. Expect it to be noisy at times especially during Golden Week.

Guanhai Restaurant: Great Ambiance at a Fair Price

Food: 3.5/5 Ambiance: 4/5 Service: 4/5 Cleanliness: 5/5 Bathrooms: 5/5

Good to Know: English menu, service charge, 1 RMB for tissue and take-out boxes

Ambiance:

Guanhai Restaurant has three locations in Shenzhen but I chose the one on Gongye 2 Road in “Zhaoshang Plaza” right across from Seaworld, Shekou. As you step inside the lobby, you’re immediately greeted by the soothing water sounds and colorful koi swimming beneath your feet. It truly was a small escape to nature. If you cannot live without AC, choose to sit inside by the windows under grand chandeliers, or in sectioned-off corners separated by modern Chinese screens for a bit more privacy. Reserve a VIP room for important business dinners. I chose to sit outside on the balcony and the fall breeze felt perfect.

Cleanliness:

This restaurant has high standards. Don’t be confused with having two sets of chopsticks. The white one is called “gong kuai” or roughly translated, “public chopsticks” used for shared dishes or when you insist that your guest try a dumpling. If you’re with close friends or family, just use the black one. I often look at how clean the dim sum baskets are at restaurants as they are reused over an over again. At Guanhai, they do do a thorough cleaning before going to the steamers again.

The bathrooms do not disappoint. There is no pipe smell, toilet paper is full in each stall, toilet seats are covered with plastic (not sure how it gets changed, though), and individually hand towels are prepared on marble counters.

Food:

Now, here comes the disappointing part. My “investigation” for the first blogpost didn’t get off to a good start. At every dim sum place, I order the usual suspects to test the quality: siu mai, har gao, and chicken feet. The siu mai came out raw! The restaurant was apologetic (no, I didn’t get it comped) and came back with another one. Overall, it was okay but I did enjoy the texture of the shrimp and the size of the dumplings. The har gao was subpar as the skin was too thick and felt pasty inside. The Portuguese egg tart is a must try! The crust is flakey and the faint burnt taste from the caramelization is a nice twist from traditional egg tarts. I just wish it was hotter when it was served. The star dish was the chicken feet. In my opinion, it is one of the harder dishes to make. The sauce is what makes it or breaks it. And at Guanhai, the balance between savory and spicy was on point. The skin still maintained its texture (and thank goodness the fingernails were all chopped off!).

Final thoughts:

It’s a great place to bring your guests who are dim sum novices. Would I go there again? Yes. Perhaps I will venture away from dim sum and order Cantonese dishes off the dinner menu.

In search of good eats