Friday, May 29, 2009

Massive Food Blogging @ Gunther's

You know something's seriously happening when you see this... The sight of big guns laid on the dining table like menacing weapons of cowboys in an atas tavern, while fingers fuss about with fork, knife and bread.

Only that instead of cowboys, it was food bloggers. And the atas tavern was the very modern Guther's . It was the food bloggers' lunch.

The interior was dim but I was glad the large table accomodated all 24 of us, making it more fun.

For our lunch, Chef Gunther specially prepared a Carte Blanche menu using fresh ingredients that were available at hand.

Talking about fresh ingredients....A tray of fresh (and very much alive!) produce was displayed as an indication of the food to come. The live king crab seemed to be pals with the lobster with claws and legs inter-tangled. I'm happy for them crustaceans...who in turn often return the flavour favour.

Lunch started with this stick of bread. It later turned out that man does live on bread indeed as I went through four or five of these throughout the meal.

The starter of Japanese Tomato featured a wedge of Japanese tomato that was firm and full of acid and a certain sweetness. The vanilla seeds in the sauce amplified this perceived sweetness a notch further. The green bean on its left was a fava bean that came from those huge pods on the display tray.

Then came the Cold Angel-Hair Pasta, Caviar. It was chilled goodness that was a pleasure to slurp and chew on with its fullsome flavour of truffle oil and konbu. Initially, perhaps in a delirious stage of hunger, I had thought there was a gas leak! Fortunately, it was just the generous usage of truffle oil in the pasta! Heng ah.

When there's still left over chopped konbu and spring onions in truffle oil, who do you call? More bread please!! And it almost becomes a tasty bruschetta.

It's white asparagus season! And so here's a dish of Poached White Asparagus, Bouchot Mussels. The white asparagus was tender, though a little fibrous at the end, and went well with the Hollandaise sauce, lumps of crustacean (Hello my shelly friends!), mussels that tasted of the sea and sakura shrimps.

When it came to the main course, I joked that they apparently do not think that a cow should eat beef when the pork chops were brought before me. But a small misunderstanding was quickly cleared as the Grilled Cote de Boeuf, Japanese Sweet-corn, Sauce Bordelaise arrived. The grilled slice of beef was a beautiful pink and was lightly seasoned with course salt and black pepper. While it was decent, I had expected more flavour. The sweet-corn was sweet and lightly-roasted while the fried xxxxxx(potato? tapioca?) crisp was a joy to crunch!

Psss...the pork chops do look really yummy!

And it came to dessert with the Fine Apple Tart a la Dragees, Rum & Raisin Ice-Cream. This was sort of a crispy pancake coated with sugary, crunchy crushed almonds, and was delicious! The rum & raisin ice cream didn't quite do it for me unfortunately.

Moving along.

Each of us walked away with a bottle of Singapore Sling in a small red paper bag. Something sweet to take home after the meal.

Another gift was the Lazy Gourmet hamper that I had won in the lucky draw. Yay! Fuss-free gourmet food in the comfort of home coming right up.

Special thanks to Some Like it Haute and Ladyironchef for putting this gathering together, Chef Gunther and staff of Gunther's and the various contributing sponsors. It was fun to be in the midst fellow food bloggers, catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

A shame that I was hungry and tired, hence not in the best of moo-ds to go around the big table. *sheepish look* Oh wells, I'm sure there'll always be the next time!

The hungry moo signing off.

36 Purvis Street #01-03
Tel: 6338 8955
Opens: Mondays to Saturdays- Noon to 3pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm
: Sundays- 6.30 to 10.30pm

Chew On This:
Hey waiter, there's a cucumber peel in my neighbour's glass?! Maybe it was their take on liang zhui (cooling water). Hehe.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Final Dim Sum-mation

Just to round up the entire dim sum spree, I thought I would pen down some of my thoughts in bite-sized portions.

- Dim sum is something that most of us here have grown up with. Since young, the rounds of har gau, siew mai and chee cheong fun have been making their way into the tummies of kids via loving mothers. This I think has reserved a special place for dim sum in the hearts and minds (and stomachs) of people.

- Dim sum, like many Asian meals, is a communal eating experience. A tangible sense of kinship and relationship can be felt while enjoying dim sum with friends and family.

- Dim sum has evolved to include items that incorporate Western ingredients such as goose liver, truffle and even squid ink into paus and dumplings. While it does give a novel feel to dim sum, I personally feel that dim sum can hold its own without these fancy Western ingredients. Har gau and siew mai are dim sum favourites and will forever be.

- Dim sum- I have never eaten so much of it in this short space.

And perhaps anti-war messages should include "Spread the love. Share the dim sum." And for some, "Shut up and sit down...and eat your dim sum!"

I would like to especially thank Jackson and Danny of Cuisine & Wine Asia for having me in the dim sum feature and for their enjoyable company among the char siew paus and har gaus.

Chew On This: I think I will pluck off turfs of hair should I see another siew mai on my screen! Hahaha.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dim Sum-ing at Peony Jade

The final destination of this dim sum madness was at Peony Jade, located at the Keppel Club (restaurants open to the public). It may be nested a little deep in from the main road but I guess that helps to burn more calories clear the mind and whet the appetite in anticipation of the meal ahead. After all, the bendy road lined with trees on both sides does add a certain charm.

And so, here's one for the road!

*Takes more than a deep breath*

Deep Fried Goose Liver & Prawn Ball with Almond Flakes had a nice crunchy exterior with an evident taste of the goose liver but the mouthfeel of springy prawns. Mmm...

Crispy Prawn Dumplings with Mayonnaise Cream were plump deep-fried wantons. Juicy and a great snack, albeit a wee bit big.

Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Pork and Shrimps aka hum sui kok made an appearance to much of Aroma Cookery's delight. Alas. After the stunning one at Man Fu Yuan, the ones here paled in comparison. The filling wasn't as tasty and the skin was less chewy and a tad too thick.

Deep Fried Filo Crusted Seafood Roll was a joy to crunch into. The light layers of pastry wires hid the prawns within.

The Deep Fried Taro with Assorted Meat sounded dodgy (think assorted meat) but it really is a fried yam ball with a filling of bits of what I thought was pork. This one came across as a bit dry (for the yam) and a little overpowering (for the pork) for my liking.

"Black Crystal Pau" anyone? The Peony Jade Steamed Crystal Minced Pork Dumpling does look very intriguing doesn't it? Apparently squid ink was used in the skin. Very interesting for dim sum.

Steamed Scallop Rice Flour Roll was also decent with fresh scallops in smooth sheets of cheong fun.

I found the Steamed Phoenix Feet in Sichuan Chilli Black Bean Sauce to be average with the chicken feet not having fully benefited from the marinate.

The Steamed Peony Jade Crystal Prawn Dumpling wasn't impressive either. The skin was sticky and poorly made.

Steamed Meat Dumpling with Fish Roe fared slightly better with its moist filling and meaty bite. This siew mai would appeal to those who prefer a stronger dried mushroom flavour.

The addition of snow peas to siew mai gave rise to the Steamed Butterfly Prawns. I enjoyed the extra crunch and vegetal sweetness that the snow peas added to the otherwise meaty siew mai.

The next item was rather exquisite. It's not everyday that we see an abalone topping a dim sum. The Steamed Mini Abalone Dumpling was an interesting mix of flavours and I particularly liked its greenish translucent skin.

Sadly, Peony Jade Barbecued Pork Bun was a turn-off for me. There was this gooey almost gel-like substance together with the char siew filling, inside the pau.

The Steamed Custard and Salted Yolk Pau was a delight! The pau skin was a little kueh-like with an alluring pandan fragrance. Like a good molten chocolate cake, this pau oozed a hot lava of salted yolk that was savoury and just lightly sweet. *Baby bib not included.

Time for dessert!

Chilled Avocado Puree with Ice Cream Served in a Whole Coconut was a soothing blend of smooth pureed avocado and ice cream. The bonus was the flesh of the coconut that could be scraped off with a spoon. Perfect way to end the tasting session here.

I would like to thank Noelle and Peiru of Sixth Sense Communications for hosting us and Jackson of Cuisine & Wine Asia for arranging this dim sum feature.

Peony Jade
Keppel Club
Bukit Chermin Road
Opens: 11am to 11pm Daily
Tel: 6276 9138

Chew On This: UOB and Citibank card-holders get 15% off ala carte items! Wine-lovers would be happy with the 12 wines by-the-glass to choose from to accompany your dim sum or Szechuan/Cantonese meal at Peony Jade! Oh and freshly brewed microbrewery beers are also available. Surprisingly good for a Chinese restaurant.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dim Sum-ing at Man Fu(ll) Yuan

Dim sum take three was at Man Fu Yuan over at Hotel Intercontinental.

First up was the Deep-Fried Yam Croquette with Minced Duck. Shaped like an alien's head, the croquette had a mashed yam coat with frilly crispy bits on the outside and minced duck inside. I am a sucker for mashed tubers.

This was the Deep-Fried Scallops with Sugar Cane. The breaded scallop flesh tasted sweet and the golden crust paired well with the Thai-styled chilli sauce. Biting into the sugar cane stick was an added pleasure! Somehow brings back dining memories of my childhood.

The Pan-Fried Radish Cake had tasty bits of preserved meat but the radish cake was too soft for my liking. The exterior surface could have been more evenly fried too.

Deep-Fried Filo Dough was a bundle of crispiness. I can't recall what's inside it so hopefully Camemberu or Ladyironchef does. Hehe.

The next item was a stunner for me. Double-Boiled Dumpling with Shark’s Fin had a thin filmsy dumpling coat which tore away to reveal the shark's fin. The best part of this dish that I had really enjoyed was the soup. It had a gentle milky sweetness that combined with the heady flavours of dried seafood. Double-boiled from shark cartilage, the soup was rich and felt like it was full of collagen.

Long after this bowl of soup, the gastronomic memories of it still continue to echo aloud. Such is its power... and my weakness.

Moving along after that soul-transforming bowl of soup, the Baked Fluffy Skin Pie with Chicken & Mango spotted a buttery pastry crust but its filling was a tad weak to stand up to the pastry.

Deep-Fried Water Chestnut Cake featured a translucent water chestnut cake that was soft and jelly-like, with a battered crust. I like the fact that it was just slightly sweetened.

The following item brought whoops to the table as Aroma Cookery has been hoping for these deep-fried snacks at previous dim sum places. Alas. As fate would have had it, she could not make it to this session.

The Deep-Fried Traditional Chicken Dumpling aka hum sui kok was a real delight! The skin was of a good texture being nicely chewy, soft and yielding to each bite. Inside, the filling of chopped raddish, spring onions, mushrooms and chicken was a fragrant savoury mix of flavours. One word for this- Yum.

Wait a minute. Where's the usual dim sum favourites? Coming right up! The tasting was arranged such that the fried items came before the steamed ones.

But before we bade farewell to the fried items, I have to mention something about the tea. Or more specifically, the cooling tea (liang cha). With a balance of sweet and pleasantly bitter notes, this was perfect to soothe the throat and prepare the palate for more food. i could imagine luo han guo, ginseng, liquorice, red dates and chrysathenum.

There were quite a few cheong fun each with a different filling but I thought the Special Cheong Fun was more unique. Instead of wrapping the filling with steamed rice flours, ingredients for the filling was incorporated into the rice flour sheets and then steamed. It gave a different mouthfeel and texture. Rather unique eh?

The Har Gao here was also decent with very fresh-tasting prawns within.

On the other hand, I found the Siew Mai a little porky with a tad stronger hint of kee smell.

The Mini Pot Rice with Chicken was chockfull with ingredients like dried mushrooms, lup cheong etc but tasted rather bland without the sauce that was served separately.

Unfortunately, the Phoenix Eye Dumpling wasn't outstanding enough to catch my attention among the slew of dim sum that kept coming. I did try it but don't seem to have much of an impression.

Xiao Long Bao took its form as the Juicy Dumpling with Foie Gras. Wow. Foie Gras in dim sum? But the flavour of the western delicacy was rather muted.

This Vegetarian Dumpling held the veggie goodness that mum forced asked kids to eat. Mums, FYA please.

Scallop Dumpling with Pea Shoot looked interesting and tasted interesting too. The vegetal taste of the pea shoots seemed a bit strong for the scallop though.

Final dish of the afternoon was the Beef ball with Bamboo Pith. This was a classic and reminded me of a similar dish that I had in Hong Kong. The beef ball was juicy and the taste of Chinese parsley was evident. Good for those who like the herb. Too bad for me.

My main highlights for this session has got to be the Double-Boiled Dumpling with Shark’s Fin and the Deep-Fried Traditional Chicken Dumpling. Those two are really worth going back for...with a pot of the cooling tea too.

Thanks to Sharon and Patrick of Hotel Intercontinental for hosting us and Jackson of Cuisine & Wine Asia for this dim sum feature.

Man Fu Yuan
2nd Floor
Hotel Intercontinental
Tel: 6825 1962

Chew On This: There are two seating areas in Man Fu Yuan- one which is more communal with a bunch of other tables and the other more private with partitions and rooms for privacy. Perfect options for any occasion.