Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Soup & Three Dishes

After a few days of Christmas parties and festive feasting, Sunday lunch was kept simple and light. After church, we met up with Ah Gong and headed to near-by Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant.

We decided on the more familiar and simple items over their Nan Bei specialties.

The Soup of the Day ($18) turned out to be one of my favourite soups- lotus roots and pork ribs soup. The soup was cooked over slow fire (hence the name 'old fire soup') and was sweet with the goodness of pork and dried octopus. I thought I did taste a bit of MSG but if anything, it was used appropriately to enhance the flavours.

The wait staff kindly ladled out the soup into individual bowls and then dug out the goodies on a plate. There you have the backbone of the soup- lotus roots, pork and dried octopus.

We opted for two vegetable dishes.

The Poached Spinach with Assorted Eggs ($12) was a bed of spinach cooked till slightly soft but retaining some bite. My favourite part of this dish was the tasty stock that surrounds the spinach. The mix of chicken egg, salted duck egg and century egg, together with garlic provided much flavour to this dish.

Veg #2 was Fried Hong Kong Kai Lan with Ginger & Wine ($12). This looks really simple but was really delicious! I loved how the gentle chewing of the crunchy stems brought out the aromatic flavours of ginger juice and Chinese cooking wine. A big bonus was the absence of tough vegetal fibres!

The "main" dish was the Braised Garouper Head & Belly with Beancurd($20). The grouper head chunks were meaty, fast-fried and coated with a thin layer of cornstarch to make it smooth. Rectangular pieces of fried beancurd and slices of mushrooms made up the rest of the dish. The supporting act of the whole cloves of garlic was good- akin to sweet, soft, roasted garlic.

Red Dates Paste Pan Cake ($6) was a different variation from the more common red bean pancake. I like that the red date filling was less sweet and had a slightly nice tart touch to it. Sticky and moist, it snug between the pan-fried sides of the pancake. Oddly though, sesame seeds are not part of this pancake. A generous amount of it was added at our request upon ordering.

A pretty good and virtuous-feeling lunch. :)

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant
Suntec City
Tel: 6339 3118

Chew On This: There's a 10% discount for UOB cards BUT only for 3 selected cards....seems rather strange seeing that this wasn't some high-end restaurant out to woo an exclusive group.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blessed Christmas!!

That's my cute, festive dog. Hehe.

Wishing all a Blessed Christmas filled with love, joy and peace! May your meals be plenty and rich with family and friends.

The Hungry Cow

Monday, December 21, 2009

Alcoholic's Ice Cream

Christmas is approaching and with no snow in Singapore, it's a good thing there's always ice cream.

After dinner at Cafe de Hong Kong, we headed to Udders for dessert.

It was packed with people and even the tables lined up outside the shop were occupied! Small shop. Big business. Every ice cream entrepreneur's dream.

The mind-boggling board of flavours is a good read while waiting in line. Chalk boards in Singapore are now so rare!

We tried two tea flavours- Green Tea-riffic and Earl Grey ($4.90 for 2 scoops under Classic Range). Both flavours were rather mild. I quite enjoyed the green tea which was creamy and tasted like matcha. There wasn't any powdery-ness as well! I found the Earl Grey floral and with a weak Bergamot scent.

But what blew me away was the Java Whiskey Choc! Under the Connoisseur Range, this as well as the Mao Shan Wang Durian flavour seen here were $8.40 for 2 scoops.

A simple equation:
alchohol + dark choc = a very happy cow

Indeed. The Java Whiskey Choc was potent, strong, rich and bittersweet with both the chocolate and alcohol flavours in good balance. Do watch teh acolhol. Fanstocstics. Awes\dfsome! Hic.

The Mao Shan Wang Durian was not bad but was made to seem mediocre in the presence of greatness.

So great that I think the relatively expensive price per scoop of Whiskey Java Choc is well worth shelling out for.

Go on. Eat and be merry! Java Whiskey Choc, I moo be back!

155 Thomson Road (various other branches)
Tel: 6254 6629
Opens: Sunday to Thursday- 12noon to 11pm
Friday, Saturday & PH eve: 12noon to 12 midnight

Chew On This: Udders does conduct an ice cream workshop cum buffet! Check out their website or call to enquire.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Seafoodie Dinner with Foodies

This place has got to be one of the best seafood dinners in my memory for this year. I was first introduced to Ming Kee Live Seafood when one of the Makankakis dinner was held here.

Subsequently, a few blogger friends decided it was time to arrange a dinner here. And so by the powers vested in 陈先生, I made reservations.

The hungry bunch comprised AromaCookery, Camemberu, Hairy Berry, Keropokman & Momo, as well as some of their friends and family.

Once again, I can't stress how good Fried Fish Skin ($8) make as snacks. Maybe Pringles should take these, dust them with their range of flavours and call them Fringles!!

The Flower Clams ($38) were simply steamed in a salty, garlicky oil. Very fresh and absolutely delish.

The Steamed Soon Hock ($77 for 1.1kg) was tender and sweet. The timing spent in the steamer was perfect!

Non-seafood fans should head for the Guiness Pork & Smoked Duck Breast Combo ($40). The Guiness Pork was flavourful with a caramel-savoury touch while the Smoked Duck Breast had a deep flavour akin to ham. Eat both with copious amount of rice.

But really, one should eat the seafood here.

The piece de resistance had to be the huge-ass Crab Beehoon ($142.80 for 3.4kg). With the suggestive pose of the two crabs, the beehoon seemed to benefit most from the crab-imparted flavours- shell and roe. The custacean shell and crab roe flavours melded nicely and was well absorbed into the beehoon. The flesh of the MEATY crab was firm and sweet...and plentiful.

I also greatly enjoyed the Bamaboo Clams with Garlic ($91 for 9 pieces). The fragrance of melted butter, garlic and spring onions was alluring. The clam was (once again) steamed to perfection. Neither too chewy nor hard. The minced garlic might look like an over-kill but with its pungency reduced to'll see just empty plates (and shell!) at the end.

Like most families out there at a cze char place, we ordered a tofu dish for a healthy balance. The Homemade Tofu with Mushroom & Broccoli ($12) had tofu with a very soft texture. It was a good thing that the broccoli wasn't cooked to death as well. But this dish paled in comparison to the outstanding seafood dishes.

Another veg dish, Stir Fried Sambal French Beans ($15), suffered the same fate. Worse, I felt out-of-mood for chilli. All the delicate flavours in the seafood dishes seemed too sensitive for a robust sambal dish.

For desserts, we had the Coconut Jelly ($16). It tasted alright but at this price, I felt it was rather expensive. Can buy one and a half bamboo clam you know? Lol.

The other dessert of Orh Nee ($12) was pretty good. A glossy coat of syrup blanketted the mashed yam. Mix them well and a smooth paste forms. The only thing missing was a bit of lard.

But I guess after the almost euphoric seafood experience, I won't be needing lard.

The food here may not qualify as cheap but you certainly get quality. Worth every buck! Especially when one has fine company.

Ming Kee Live Seafood
556 MacPherson Road
Tel: 6747 4075

Chew On This: Do feel free to BYO wine. There is NO corkage and Ming Kee provides good Mikasa glasses!

We had a Brazilian Pinot Noir 2008 ($32 from thehungrycow!) for tonight. Very smooth, with aromas of red and dark berries.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Casual Place for Good Food

Another place from one of the many Makansutra dinners that I enjoy is Cafe de Hong Kong. So I was really happy it got featured on The New Paper a couple of weeks back. Though there are now the crowds to content with especially for dinner... but that's nothing a simple reservation phone call can't fix.

For a crackling starter, order the Fried Fish Skin ($10). Crispy deliciousness!

The Nan Yu Roasted Crispy Chicken ($17 for 1/2 bird) was tender and had a tasty skin. I felt that the meat itself had a very gentle flavour though most at the table found it too gentle and felt it could do with either a sauce or salt dip. A squeeze of lime too, perhaps?

If you think vegetable dishes are bland and boring, try the Stir Fried You Mak Cai with Dace Fish ($10). This dish combines the strong salty flavours of dace fish with the slight bitterness of the vegetable. Very good with rice!

Here's the Fragrant Fish Roe Fried Rice ($10). The portion is good for two people or could be shared among four with supplement of plain rice or another noodle dish. The fried rice is fragrant and "song" (meaning the rice grains are separated instead of clumpy). I also like the added texture and flavour that the tobikko adds.

The Braised Lamb Brisket in Claypot ($20) is a popular favourite here. And I can see why. The pieces of lamb braised with nam yu (fermented beancurd) are tender, flavourful and without any overbearing pungency.

A good tip I have learnt is to request for some lime leaves. Dip the lamb into the nam yu sauce and sprinkle a few thin strips of lime leaf. This adds another dimension to the dish and also helps to enhance it.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

Cafe de Hong Kong
586 Balestier Road
Tel: 6255 3865

Chew On This:
The many art pieces that line up against the walls are actually done by Francis' (the boss) son. Being able to do this at a tender age, he has talent no? My art work (if I can even call it that) during childhood would have been ideal to repel ghosts!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Hushie suggested a place for dinner after the Uniqlo shopping and it was for Japanese food. This rarely happens. I don't usually buy three pairs of jeans in a go and Hushie doesn't usually suggest a place to eat at.

The place turned out to be Ootoya. I have heard good things about this place.

We were seated in the middle square which was quite interesting. A big flower piece was the centre piece and people who are seated on the inner side of the table get tatami-like seats compared to the normal chairs for people seated on the outer side.

I had the Charbroiled Sea Bream with Grated Radish & Pickled Plum Sauce ($13; $17 for set). The fatty slice of fish had a good salty flavour from the salt that was sprinkled during grilling. Though it was a little burnt on the skin, oddly it didn't taste as bitter as I had expected.

The set came with pickles, a side dish of vegetables, miso soup and rice. Carbo monsters would be happy with the FREE-flow rice.

Speaking of which, Ootoya also serves a few other types of rice- Hijiki seaweed rice (pictured above), Jako fish rice and grated yam rice. These weren't free-flow and came at additional costs.

Here's a peak at the salmon ($17 for set) which I didn't try. I should return to try the Atka Mackerel that most are talking about.

This was the Pork Katsu simmered with egg and onions in a soy-terriyaki broth ($16 for set). I like the sweetness of the onions with the savoury sauce. The pork was a little too lean though.

The chicken variant ($16 for set) was less tasty and had a sharper-tasting sauce.

I am sorry I do not have the exact names of the salmon, pork and chicken dishes above. Too hungry and forgot to note down la. :P

On the whole, I like Ootoya's very homely food and feel. I would be back to try the other items, hopefully soon.

Orchard Central
Tel: 6884 8901

Chew On This: Something that was a first for me at a restaurant was seeing the number of calories of each dish stated on the menu. Even for plain rice! During this festive season of indulgence, perhaps this would come in handy for an 'off-peak' day. Hahaha.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Budget-Friendly Hairy Crabs

The last quarter of the year also marks the hairy crab season and fans of the delicacy get busy making bookings at various restaurants.

Yes, until now hairy crabs have only been available at restaurants, and at a fairly high price. But now Food Junction has made them more accessible to the masses. While these hairy crabs are not the individual barcode-tagged high-end ones found in restaurants, they come at a much more friendly price.

Each of these Jiangsu hairy crab ($18.80 for male, $23.80 for female) was steamed with a zi su ye (Perilla leaf) which had a leafy fragrance quite similar to lotus leaf.

I would say go for the roe-rich females. The female hairy crab contains the beautiful orangey roe that delights many a fan. There seemed to be two types of roe- the firmer almost like salted egg yolk version and the gooey version. While both are available in the female crab, I much prefer the latter with its creamy texture, rich flavour and sweetness of the sea.

To help one in extracting out the flesh, tools such these are provided. So snip, dig and pry away! Talking about the flesh, it was softer than most other crabs and subtly sweet though measely in portion. A dip into some black vinegar helped to further perk it up.

A cup of ginger tea is served with each order of hair crab. This spicy brew is sweetened and helps to cut through the richness of the roe. Think of it like a teh halia without milk.

These hairy crabs make a good snack on their own or a meal when paired with other dishes from neighbouring stalls. I would suggest fried rice, tempura udon or even naan!

Hurry as this seasonal promotion ends once stocks are out! Available only at The Food Place and Food Junction at Bugis Junction and Great World City.

Thanks to Pris, Racheal and Aaron, and Food Junction for the invitation and for hosting this cow.

The Food Place
Raffles City Shopping Centre

Chew On This:

As with all crabs that are served at good eateries, the hairy crabs are kept alive and only prepared and served upon each order.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

938LIVE Foodies Eat-Out @ Equinox!

After last year's eat-out at Goodwood Park Hotel, this year the 938LIVE deejays and foodies gathered at Equinox.

I've stumbled into the Equinox complex once while finding my way to breakfast (which by the way is on the 2nd floor). Silly me. Breakfast can't be possibly on the 70th floor.

But dinner was. And here it comes with a bonus- the stunning city view!

The interior is dim with an orange glow while large clear glass windows cleverly show off the city as a backdrop.

Dinner was set in a private area with drapping curtains for privacy from the surrounding tables. The thing that caught my attention at the table layout was the wine glass. To be more correct, wine glasses. The small white wine glass, round Burgundy glass and tall Bordeaux glass could just as well hint that wine would accompany dinner. While certainly not a must, I find dinners with wines to be more enjoyable and fun. A bit of alcohol does wonders.

More on the wines later. It's a foodies eat-out. Not wine-rs! Let's move on to the food then.

Nothing like a bit of carbs to start those jaws moving. But the star was definitely the butter olive oil whipped cheese dip! Creamy, light and savoury, it was quite THE spread.

Nova Scotia Lobster Tartar with Salt Cured Tasmanian Salmon, Smokey Ancho Chili Gazpacho with Avocado Ice Cream. Quite a long-ish name for the starter. This was a medley of different flavours and textures- soft acidity from the gazpacho, creamy smoothness from the avocado ice cream and saltiness from the cured salmon. I didn't taste much from the lobster though. Overall, a rather interesting and gentle dish.

Light Soup from sweet Buttered Corn on the Cob, Pepper Popped Black Rice and Basil Cream. This was my favourite dish of the night! Warm, creamy corn soup. A slightly foamed basil cream lent its greenish-herbal touch to the natural sweetness of the corn. And for texture, the popped black rice was nice to bite into.

Pan-fried Foie Gras de Canard with Vanilla Sweet Potato Puree, Caramelized Baby Bananas with La Mauny Plantation Rum. The accompanying sweetish sides, especially the caramelized bananas, worked well to balance out the rich foie gras. But a pity the foie gras didn't have that crisp crust. Alas.

Palate cleanser.

Smoked Full-blooded Black Angus Tenderloin, Braised Five Spices Wagyu Beef Cheeks and Shemeji Mushrooms. For a Western dinner, I thought five spices were a little edgy. I like it more in ngoh hiang and roasted duck than braised beef cheeks. Me thinks beef cheeks work best in a red wine reduction ala French.

The tenderloin had a cottony texture which is often associated with this cut of meat. Tastewise was subtle. I think a tastier cut like hanger steak, ribeye or sirloin would work better. But that's just me.

Lastly, dessert was Manjari Chocolate Coconut Etnao with Malibu Sabayon, Pink Guava and Lilikoi Sorbet. This was very RICH. The chocolate was robust and full-bodied. In fact, a little too full. It needed something equally strong to balance it.

But I am happy ending any meal with chocolate. :)

Oops. I nearly forgot about the wines.

We had a white, rose and red to accompany dinner.

My favourite was the white- a Pouilly Fume 2005. This Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France was minerally, a bit smokey and well-structured.

The rose was also from France (I forgot to take a picture of its label). Its aroma was mainly of strawberries with a bit of raspberries. It was dry and lean. Perfect for a slab of pan-fried salmon! I drool think about it.

The red was Cloudy Bay's Pinot Noir 2008. Very fresh, young and fruity.

The Equinox is helmed by Chef Hugh Styles, who has worked in Michelin-starred establishments in Germany. His inspiration seems to be drawn from local flavours. One example is the use of five-spice powder in braised beef cheeks.

Judging from the camera's affection for him, he could probably consider a modeling job should he decide to hang up his apron and don on Armani or Gucci.

But for now, he'll be on the 70th floor of the Swissotel The Stamford dishing up food that seeks to please.

Thanks to Eugene Loh, Melanie Oliveiro and Janice Teo of 938LIVE, and Belladonnah Lim, Melissa Choo and Elissa Ong of Swissotel The Stamford for putting this dinner together and for hosting us.

As always, it was a pleasure to meet (and eat) with fellow 938LIVE Foodie Lunch Pick folks:

Irene Jansen, Culinary Adventures
Hoong An, HungryGoWhere
Julia Khoo, Aroma Cookery
Leslie Tay, ieatishootipost

Till the next time!

Equinox Restaurant
70th Floor
Swissotel The Stamford
Tel: 6837 3322

Chew On This: The Equinox complex is an all-in-one dining and entertainment complex which also includes Jaan, New Asia, Introbar, Equinox Restaurant, City Space and the Private Dining Rooms. This takes one seamlessly from cocktails to dinner to drinks at the bar before ending off with a bit of clubbing....all at one sky-high location!