Friday, November 23, 2007

Sticky Situation

After the Tonkichi outing, Ryan and I wandered around and ended up at this rather interesting-looking cafe at Raffles City. The main area of the cafe where the cashier and cake/pie displays was really small. The majority of the seating capacity of a few tables was across the corridor. I like the dark wood panels with floral motifs that exuded a modern contemporary Asian touch to this cafe. With the sounds of water crashing onto concrete from the fountain below and the soft music piped over the speakers, I sank deeper into my seat comfortably. Exams seemed far, far away. An illusion, I know, but I appreciate that moment nonetheless.

For a drink, I decided to try the Lemongrass Iced Tea ($4.90). It was diluted and lacklustre. Maybe it was due to the ice cubes but I'll probably try something else next time.

Wanting to have a dessert, we ordered the Black Glory ($6.90) which was black glutinous rice with a scoop of gula melaka ice cream. It was interesting as the cold sensation of the ice cream contrasted with the warm black glutinous rice. The grains of glutinous rice were a tad too chewy and while nice at first, it gave a bit of a jaw ache towards the end. The gula melaka ice cream could also do with a stronger dose of the palm sugar.

It's a real shame that the drink and dessert I had on this visit were somewhat disappointing. I really like the place and think I would give them another shot some time in the future. Ok, back to reality exams for now.

Sticky Rice Tuckshop (also Sticky Rice Restaurants in Serangoon Gardens and erm...i forgot. Haha.)
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6337 8160

Chew On This: Less than a week left of the e-x-a-m-s. Woot!! Exams only occur once in about 1/2 a year as anything more frequent and there will be chronic detrimental effects phenotypically expressed and very much possibly also transient damage in the cellular machinery, impaired cognitive functions and the desensitizing of the adrenal glands. See what I mean?
Gotta drop by nice places to chill with a drink and relax with a bite.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Yes, it's the dreaded exam season!!! This is my exam 'ration'. Not exactly brain food I know but at least it keeps hunger away especially at ungodly hours. Haha. Posting may be more irregular and shorter but I'll bounce back to normality after these few weeks. Moooooooo!

Can't wait for December to come! Cook-outs, Grand Makankakis Dinner, Christmas, NYE, StandChart Run, IPPT...

In the meanwhile, happy thoughts! Happy thoughts!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fishy Business

No, I'm not even going to touch on the scandal that has plagued yet another charitable organisation. Fishy as that might be.

I've heard about the Swedes and their meatballs, vodka and herring but I've yet to try the fish. So after it stared hard at me from behind the chiller door on a recent visit to Ikea, my hand reached for it.

A plate of herring prepared in three different styles ($2.50) was arranged around the small dollop of sour cream in the middle. The one with the chopped spring onions on the left of the plate tasted really salty and fishy. The one in the background with chopped onions was a little sweet and fishy. As for the last one on the right of the plate, it was also a little sweet, had some kind of mustard-like tang and was fishy.

If I had to choose one, my pick will be on the mustard herring. The sweet mustard seemed to be better able to musk the fishiness than spring onions or onions. The sour cream tried in vain.

I'm not sure if that's how herring is supposed to taste like or if it's because the ones here are preserved. I'm not saying that Ikea's herrings were bad but unfortunately, they were too fishy for me. In addition, the texture and bite also needed some getting used to. It could be an acquired taste I reckon.

Ikea Cafe & Restaurant
2nd Floor
317 Alexandra Road

Chew On This: Among all the Ikea outlets in the world, its Singapore outlets raked in the most sales from the F&B side. Well done Singaporeans! Eating is truly a national pastime.

Friday, November 09, 2007

DAC's Trip to Tonkichi

I'm very happy to post on this collaborative visit between NTU's Deli Aprecio Club (DAC) and Pokka Food (Singapore), the parent company of Tonkichi.

The event, A Trip to Tonkichi, was organised by the DAC to introduce an aspect of Japanese food that is casual (i.e. without pretence), affordable and delicious. Through this event, we also aimed to give participants a general overview of Japanese dining culture and manners. Two separate trips were made, involving a total of 60 participants.

Before I start with the food that evening, I would like to thank Obayashi-san and Suzuki-san of Pokka Food (Singapore) for hosting us. Obayashi-san (above left), General Manager of Pokka Food (Singapore), thoughtfully planned out this special set dinner upon receiving my proposal.

Consisting of seven items (clockwise from bottom left- Rice, Tako Su, Pickles, Hire Katsu, Buta Kakuni, Shio Soup & Gindara Saikyo Yaki), the special set dinner was a good mix of Japanese dishes. The usual suspects of sashimi, sushi, tempura and chawanmushi which Singaporeans are all familiar with, were not included. This was after all supposed to showcase a different side of Japanese food.

All the dishes were cooked/prepared using different methods from steaming, marinating, pickling, deep-frying, braising, boiling and grilling respectively. In addition, with the exception of rice, all of the other dishes contained at least two colours if not more. The Japanese believe in eating food from a wide variety of colours. Science can back up the benefits of this.

When it comes to meticulous planning and details, nobody does it better than the Japanese. Even the bowls and plates were specifically chosen. In fact, the porcelain dish on which the pickles sat, came from Obayashi-san's hometown. Making the bottom of the rice bowl thicker so that one's hand would not feel the heat from the steamed rice was another example of thoughtfulness in their dining culture.

I'll start of with the Hire Katsu (Breaded Deep-fried Pork Fillet) since Tonkichi is well-loved for its Tonkatsu. Despite biting into this late into my dinner (I was taking photos and making sure everyone else was served), the Hire Katsu remained surprisingly un-soggy and retained its crisp breaded layer. The meat was juicy and when chewed together with the breaded layer, it exuded a lovely flavour. For a deep-fried dish, this didn't seem oily at all.

Grind some sesame seeds in the small bowl, sprinkle over the Hire Katsu and pour some Tonkatsu sauce to get more fragrance and a tangy lift from the sauce. The accompanying mound of cabbage with the yuzu vinaigrette helped to cleanse and prepare the palate for the next inviting mouthful.

I bet quite a few were digging beneath the cucumber slices and seaweed to search for the octopus. The Tako Su (Octopus Marinated with Vinegar) was a bit of an unfortunate misnomer. If it was called 'Octopus Shreds, Cucumber Slices & Seaweed Marinated with Vinegar' nobody would be digging.

Although the name might have suggested a more decent piece of octopus, honestly it would be unreasonable to expect so given the price. Taste wise, I like the acidic base of the vinegar which wasn't too sour but enough to give the octopus, cucumber and seaweed a nice perk-up. The octopus shreds by themselves didn't seem to have much taste, or maybe it's harder to taste shreds.

Moving on to more substantial stuff we have the Buta Kakuni (Simmered Pork Belly). Cubes of pork belly had been simmered in a shoyu (soy sauce) broth resulting in a soft texture that wasn't quite melt-in-your-mouth but still fully-flavoured by the braising liquid. It was savoury and salty from the shoyu. The bits of citrus rind on top helped to cut through the fat. Speaking of which, I still find this too fatty for my liking. But pork belly isn't exactly known to be lean yeah.

The Gindara Saikyo Yaki (Grilled Silver Cod Fish with Miso) was yummy with its delicate oily flesh enhanced by the miso. The miso didn't overpower the dish allowing some of the natural sweetness of the fish to come through. Interestingly, the pink stalk that was placed over the fish wasn't just garnish. It turned out to be ginger and one could take small nibbles at the flattened end.

Instead of the usual Miso soup, the set featured Shio which is a salt-based stock, flavoured with fish bones here. This style of soup was lighter in taste and deceptively bland-looking. But one sip and its tasty notes of salt (it actually had taste instead of being plain salty) and fish bones pleased my tastebuds. Umamified.

All in all, in was a success and I sure hope the participants enjoyed the educational and tummy-fulfilling trip.

Tonkichi Japanese Restaurant
Suntec City Shopping Centre
Opens: Weekdays/Eve Public Holidays- 11.30am to 3pm (Last order: 2.40 pm), 6pm to 10.30pm (Last order 10pm)

Weekends / Public Holidays - 12noon to 3pm (Last order: 2.40 pm),
5.30pm to 10.30pm (Last order 10pm)

Tel:6339 4231

*Photos with the DAC frame courtesy of Ryan, DAC's Publicity Officer.

Chew On This: The name Tonkichi translates to 'lucky pig'! I wonder if the pig that was sacrificed agrees.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Wine For Asia 2007

On top of the fantastic cooking class at Coriander Leaf last weekend, Wine For Asia 2007 was the perfect thing to sweeten the weekend. A happy wine and dine weekend!

This year marked my first Wine For Asia experience and it was fun being able to chat with wine makers, learning about and tasting all those wine. At the end, I tasted about 25 different wines and I swear that from the 20th wine onwards, they all tasted the same. Hic.

Thanks to Alex and NTU Wine Society for arranging the pass. I'll be back next year!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Cooking Class @ Coriander Leaf

Remember the voucher that I was blessed with at the Food Blogger's Dinner lucky draw? I'm glad I didn't.

Kindly sponsored by the people from and Samia Ahad of the Coriander Leaf, the voucher for two was for a cooking class during the recent Singapore Sun Festival.

For company, I had my lovely sister. Pearl is the only person whom I've cooked and baked together with for the longest time now. Her interest in cooking and baking makes it a no-brainer to convince her to come. Since our younger days, we would help out in the kitchen and learn the ropes from mum. But this would be our first cooking class. So you could just imagine the excitement!

Upon reaching Coriander Leaf, we sat in around the rectagular table and were watching what Samia and her two kitchen assistants were doing. Samia seemed to exude this cold, no-nonsense aura which sent shivers up my spine. I thought to myself that she was either a kitchen b*tch or had a very dry, wicked sense of humour. Fortunately, as I soon found out after the ice thawed, it was the latter.

Another thing that brought back that memorable Food Blogger's Dinner was the bottle of Fiji water provided to each participant on the table. And I noticed that they've started to appear on the shelves at cold storage too.

Back to the cooking class. Initially, I had thought that each participant would be provided with a small tasting sample of the food but I was W-R-O-N-G. A generous protion was distributed to each participant and it became my lunch that Saturday. And what a lunch it was!

The cooking class titled 'A Taste of the Mediterranean' featured Labne, Olive & Tomato Tapenade with Bruschetta, Shrimp & Onion Tortilla, Marinated & Roasted Red Pepper & Cherry Tomato Salad, Grilled Shrimps with Chermoula and Moorish Skewers- Grilled Lamb Kebab with Harissa, Moroccan Mint Tea Granita, Saffron Risotto and Chocolate & Almond Baclava. If that has not got you drooling yet, I think the tastebuds need a bit of a good shake up...with the Harissa.

The Olive & Tomato Tapenade with Bruschetta was a potent mix of flavours with capers, anchovies, olives and tomato on a crisp bruschetta. Unfortunately I found the salty anchovies a little too strong for my liking.

An ingredient in the tapenade above was semi-dried tomatoes. Samia scooped out some from the tub and offered us a taste before proceeding with the recipe. I really love the rich, fresh flavours that emerged upon chewing on these semi-dried tomatoes. Unlike some prepared tomatoes, these were not salty at all. Furthermore, the fragrant olive oil that they were emmersed in added more flavour too.

The Shrimp & Spring Onion Tortilla wasn't a flour wrap thingy but more like a fritter. I'm certainly not complaining when the small, sweet chunks of shrimps and bits of chopped spring onion provided a nice bite to the flour batter. This went well with the Labne. In fact, almost everything went well the Labne.

Talking about the Labne, this yoghurt dip was absolutely delicious. Tangy with a slight savoury touch, it had a very creamy mouthfeel that was equally refreshing.

The Marinated & Roasted Red Pepper & Cherry Tomato Salad consisted of roasted red peppers, garlic and onions tossed with fresh cherry tomatoes, olive oil, sherry vinegar and cumin. The freshly-pounded cumin was uplifting and together with the sweet roasted veggetables and marinate, provided a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern touch.

I thought shrimps were supposed to be small but when I saw the ones here I was slightly taken a back. Very decently-sized prawns were briefly marinated with Chermoula, a Moroccan paste of coriander, Italian parsley, cumin powder, paprika and garlic. These were then skewered and grilled over a griddle.

The Grilled Shrimps with Chermoula were fresh, firm and sweet. One could actually taste the prawns shrimps. The Chermoula imparted a very light coriander flavour to the shrimps without being overpowering. I hate coriander and find its pungency repulsive but here I was surprised to take to its 'lighter', more refreshing taste. Makes me think if this was really coriander or what I've been exposed prior to this were inferior ones.

Moorish Skewers- Grilled Lamb Kebabs were a big turn-on. The normally lamb/mutton-adverse me found myself enjoying each tender cube of lamb. There was no strong lamby smell or foul taste. Instead, the lamb was juicy and flavourful. This is arguably one of the best lambs that I have tasted. Samia used a young Australian leg of lamb. She said the younger the better and advised to avoid local lamb as it has a strong smell.

The lamb kebab was paired with Harissa, a spicy and yummy chilli paste. The mix of chilli and spices gave the Harissa a really good kick. This could be kept in a jar for a long time and would also go well with seafood. Should one find the Harissa too spicy, the Labne would instantly cool things down.

As a palate cleanser, the Moroccan Mint Tea Granita effectively cooled and refreshed the tastebuds with its fresh minty-ness.

Feeling the need for a bit of starch, I was happy to see the Saffron Risotto. And even happier to see the humongous asparagus (Check out the picture at the top of this post). These spears of asparagus were the biggest I've seen. Compared to the normal types, these were like 'Spartan' variety- big, strong and burly. Crunchy and sweet, with a smokey aroma from the grill, these aspargus were simply good.

The risotto was flavoured with saffron, garlic, onions, red peppers, black olives and manchego cheese and oh how these flavours melded together wonderfully. Each grain (yes, the Indians and Pakistanis are very particular about their grains) was fluffy but yet had a nice bite. Do you know that having a bottle of wine (for the person cooking) while cooking risotto helps?

As a digestive, Samia prepared this simple and quick Moroccan Mint Tea which was based on the recipe for the Moroccan Mint Tea Granita. Hot and comforting, I couldn't help it but kept topping up my small cup with more of this soothing tea.

For desserts, Samia whipped up Chocolate Baclava Cigars and she'll have you know that there are no such things as a healthy dessert. For me, the baclava was too dry for my liking and my source of dessert joy came from the damn good vanilla ice cream that she generously scooped onto our plates.

And I also have to thank her for the two bottles of Sauvingon blanc that she treated all of us to. This lady is certainly very generous with her quality ingredients and warm hospitality.

This was a shot I took of the plated food which the Singapore Sun Festival photographer Henry had arranged. Really pretty eh.

And this my happy sister enjoying her granita and the cooking class. I told her candidly that she should be a poster girl for the event.

Finally, thehungrycow and Samia. This chef rocks! I really had a memorable (and delicious) time and here's a big thank you to and Samia who kindly sponsored the two tickets and to Joone for arranging the lucky draw and Food Blogger's Dinner 2007. It was this cow's humble pleasure.

Coriander Leaf
3A Merchant Court
#02-03 River Valley Road (Clarke Quay)
Tel: 6732 3354

Chew On This: Samia has just opened a cosy place called the Screening Room at 12 Ann Siang Road. She aims to evoke the same feelings, through food, that one gets after watching a particular movie screened there. Sounds cool already.