Monday, November 29, 2010

YES 93.3FM's 美食鉴定团 @ JooJoo!

Here's the season finale of YES 93.3FM's 美食鉴定团! Was busy and so didn't manage to get this out earlier but nonetheless, it was delicious memories.

A plate of vegetable crudites started the nomnomnom. The Korean soy bean dipping sauce was sweet and savoury. A little like chee cheong fun sauce.

Next came the JooJoo Miso Egg Soup ($3.90). Served either hot or chilled, I picked the former. This was an excellent starter- all the goodness of soft-boiled eggs in a little miso broth with seaweed, sesame seeds, spring onions and cracked black pepper.

Essentially a kushiyaki place, JooJoo did some very good grilled items.

The Chicken Thigh with Tare ($3.90) had succulent pieces of chicken thigh in a slightly sweet and smokey sauce. Polishing off the whole plate was no problem. But no, this cow is well-mannered.

The Pork Belly with Cherry Tomatoes with Sea Salt ($4.90) was equally scrumptious. Biting into the grilled cherry tomatoes resulted in their warm, sweet juices spurting out and coating the grilled pork belly with some love. The natural acidity of the tomatoes also balanced the fatty pork belly nicely.

As is the SOP in 美食鉴定团, we break-ed for a short bit so that the DJs can record everyone's comments. Must do work hor! Moohaha.

Ok, back to the grilled items.

Scallops with Garlic Butter Dressing ($5.90) were juicy and lightly flavoured with the garlic butter. Nothing too overpowering. The natural sweetness of the scallops still hold their own.

Like what most say about Japanese sausages, the ones ($5.90) here are also small and cute. Very tasty (garlic? paprika?) and with snappy skin, these made this cow beam.

Grilled Beef Tendon ($5.90) featured a gummy texture and was a little spicy. Oh I can imagine these with a big bowl of beef noodles or dry ramen!

JooJoo's Grilled Salmon Head ($10.90) was perhaps one of the best salmon heads I have eaten. There was quite a bit of flesh at the back and it was very smooth...almost silky. This head was grilled perfectly (not overly cooked) with just sea salt and tasted very fresh. Two hooves up!

For a bit of starch, try the Rice with Cha-Siu & Egg ($3.90). SSS- Sticky, sweet and savoury.

Dessert came in the form of Mooshi Cream Puff ($3.90). A nice, surprisingly light ending to our final makan stop of this season's YES 93.3FM's 美食鉴定团.

I like the food with their simple yet tasty flavours here at JooJoo though they would probably be better for lunch or a snack with a beer or two rather than a full dinner.

The bunch of us including selected YES 93.3FM listeners, DJs Jiafa & Weibin, and JooJoo's Lyn. Yeah! Another successful 美食鉴定团!

Thanks to 93.3FM DJs Jiafa and Weibin for having this cow as part of 美食鉴定团, and Lyn and staff of JooJoo for hosting us. It has been a pleasure and I can't wait for the next season!

131 East Coast Road (Junction of Joo Chiat Road)
Tel: 6346 7604
Opens: 12noon-3pm; 6pm-10pm

Chew On This: JooJoo is from the same people behind Awfully Chocolate! With Awfully Chocolate as its neighbour, feel free to pop over for a spot of ice cream, cake or chocolate truffle after JooJoo's very good grilled nosh.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Healthier Choice Food Trail with HPB

People who really know me are aware that this cow is rather health-conscious for a foodie. Yes, I do indulge in sinfully rich and unhealthy stuff but it is always in moderation and I "compensate" by having lighter and healthier meals before and after.

Some healthier choices I have developed over the years include ordering soy bean milk with less syrup, cooking brown rice at home, opting for the non-fried items at yong tau foo stalls and increasing intake of vegetables and fruits etc etc.

Healthier food can be easy when cooking at home. But how about when eating out? On a recent food trail with the Health Promotion Board, we look and taste some food that make healthier choices. Each meal featured in this tour is not over 600 calories.

First stop was Earle Swensens at Vivocity. The Grilled Cod Fish with Wild Rice Meal ($25.90) comes with a cup of coffee or tea. This dish was very delicate with the flaky fish, poached vegetables and a light broth. The wild rice interestingly tasted like pulut hitam. Slightly chewy and with a fantastic nutty taste!

As a bonus (read not within the 600 calories plan), we had the lower calorie ice cream. While a usual scoop would contain about 300 calories, these lower calorie ones had about 200. These were very palatable though not as creamy and dense as their original counterparts.

I was impressed....Healthier food options at Swensens!

Then the bubble burst when this log cake arrived. It wasn't part of the healthier choice thing but Christmas being round the corner....

It was chendol log cake ($49)! A rich chendol ice cream with bits of the green jelly and frozen red beans. Pretty shiok. Calorie count for this would be deliciously obscene.

Next we headed down to the Kopitiam Foodcourt at the basement. Here we sampled the Special Laksa ($4.20) at Laksania Express. This laksa featured brown rice bee hoon and did not use coconut milk. The results were a pleasantly chewier bee hoon in a lighter laksa broth that I could slurp and slurp. I really like this laksa and I think most will not be able to tell it is a healthier version, if the coconut milk original is not present.

So we did a side-by-side comparison....was there a discernible difference? Definitely! The coconut milk original (over 900 calories!) was creamier and had a nice coconut milk fragrance. But as it was so rich, I could not stomach more than 2-3 spoonfuls of the gravy without feeling jerlak. The healthier one with UHT milk (600 calories) was lighter and a whole lot more pleasant to slurp!

Next up was a Fresh Vegetables with Sauteed Mushrooms in Wholemeal Panini ($12.80)- it comes with a wholemeal orange olive oil cake and coffee/tea. I enjoyed the thin, crisp panini and the fresh-tasting veggies and mushroom filling. While I personally do not like celery, Michael from HPB does! Thanks for eating my share of the celery, Michael. Yes, that is a good healthier choice strategy....Feed your friends veggies! Moohahaha.

Oh and the wholemeal orange olive oil cake (more egg whites, 100% organic wholewheat flour, 100% olive oil, low sugar, unsweetened orange juice) was yummy! Light and fluffy in texture, the cake boasted a natural orange flavour and was sweetened just right.

This was the most complete meal- panini sandwich, orange cake and coffee/tea all within 600 calories!

We then headed to O'Briens at SGH. LOL. Anyway, the Turkey Cranberry Wholemeal Sandwich ($10.90) was a hearty portion with the sweetness and tartness of the cranberry and lean turkey meat. This is one lunch I would take if I do not want to feel sleepy after makan.

Another alternative was the Wholemeal Pasta Salad ($11.90). This was a lagi heartier portion! Lots and lots of good fibre in this bowl. Tastewise, it could be perked up with a more fragrant olive oil, crushed toasted sesame, almonds or cashew and dried cranberries.

Both the Turkey Cranberry Wholemeal Sandwich and Wholemeal Pasta Salad includes a Fruit Bowl! Assorted fruits. Nothing can be more pure a dessert.

Last stop (at least officially) was at Ananda Bhavan where I previously learnt about the Putu Bola. Here we tasted Stir-Fried Brown Rice Bee Hoon with Veggies ($5.90). I guess it was stir-fried with lesser oil too as there wasn't any major oily smears or worse, leaks. Very peppery. But I prefer my brown rice bee hoon in laksa! :D

We also tried the Wholemeal Chapatti with Stir-Fried Vegetables and Chutney ($6.45). Very wholesome and healthy.

So I said all of that to tell you...

Being a foodie, I enjoy food and while I am not into calorie counting, I believe in sensible eating! No need to chew cardboard and eat bird food either. Just take small, simple steps in making right decisions when eating. Trust me, while it might seem like a compromise on taste initially, your taste buds will soon adapt and you'll actually enjoy healthier food options.

Eat well, feel well!

Thanks to HPB and Waggener Edstrom for the invitation and for hosting this cow. It was a very fun and insightful outing! :)

Chew On This:
Shhh. This was an unofficial bonus stop that was not part of the trail! Moohaha. Now chew on this: the pearls in bubble tea are equivalent to a bowl of rice!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Home-Cooked Sunday Dinner!

I love Sunday dinners at home with the family. It's good old home-cooked food once a week. :)

Here's what were on the table for dinner one recent Sunday:

Poached Sakura chicken on a bed of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, drizzled with oyster sauce and sesame oil. The shreds on the chicken were dried scallop from the bottled oyster sauce. I heartttttt this dish- tasty, simple and healthy.

Winter melon soup with pork and Chinese herbs. We initially wanted the soup to be contained within the melon but as it wasn't a huge melon, we decided to flood it to obtain more soup to drink! How practical. Moohahaha.

Tomato and eggs made friends in this scrambled egg dish. Slightly runny, it was pure comfort with steaming hot rice.

Lastly, we had stir-fried broccoli with roast pork. The latter was a surprise as Dad bought this from Sheng Shiong "just for fun" at the very last minute. Then again, seeing his love for roast pork, it wasn't any surprise that he fell for the temptation.

Meals at home are made with love for loved ones by loved ones. Mooingly satisfying!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Heaven must have meat carvers....

This photo is titled "Life is Good Great."

There's just something about grilled meats....think satay, barbecues, kebabs, hotplate beef etc. The smell, taste and even pure thought of grilled meats make me salivate...almost a primal instinct.

The meal started off with mini cheese bread. Pop and they're gone.

A salad bar offered cold salads, pasta and grilled vegetables. I like the potato salad that provided a creamy carbo counterpoint to the never-ending flow of meats. Yes, balanced diet. Moohahaha.

There were also hot items like stews and rice. See? More yummy carbs.

Then suddenly, all of heaven opened and meats floated around from table to table. Seriously, the Brazilian beef hump and butterfish were seriously seriously good. The beef hump was succulent, juicy with streaks of fat and slightly gelatinous flesh, and fragrant with lightly roasted exterior. The butterfish was tender, firm and fresh with flesh that flaked at a gentle prod of the fork.

There were also beef rump cap, sirloin, tenderloin, turkey ham, chicken heart, chicken, leg of lamb etc but the beef hump and butterfish rocks.

We ended with an icy chocolate dessert...

...and a tart one.

But seriously, the Lime Caipirinha is as good a dessert if not better.

Check out the colourful ceiling. Senor Santos' ambience is casual, intimate and energetic. Perfect for meat ups! Seriously. But babitarians would miss pork as it is not featured here.

Note: Churrasco buffet is only available for dinner. $39.80 for adults, $18 for children up to 12 years old. Salad bar buffet without churrasco is at $25.

Thanks to Sara Kuek and Senor Santos for the invitation and for hosting this hungry cow.

Senor Santos
Block 3B
#01-12 The Foundry
Clarke Quay
Tel: 6336 7741
Opens: Monday-Thursday: 12noon-2.30pm; 4pm-12midnight
Friday-Sunday & Public Holiday: 12noon-3pm; 4pm-2am
Note: Churrasco is only available till 10.30pm

Chew On This:

Got grass!! But this grass area is used for bands and performances. It would be quite interesting if the entire floor is covered with grass....even pseudo grass. Moohehehe.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Gathering of Old Schoolmates & Teachers that Were Not Mine

I did not attend MacPherson Secondary School but I attended a recent gathering of old boys, girls and teachers from the school. Well I wasn't really gatecrashing but helped Mum, who attended MacPherson Secondary School, to liaise with Astons Prime, arrange the menu and bring the wines. Sort of a mini F&B manager for a night. Moohehehe.

It is said that Men can't quite multi-task. Apparently this Cow too. I realise I struggle with photograpy if I am also tasked with other things (chewing not included!). So yea, pardon the quick, haphazard shots.

As with most ang moh dinners, the evening started with a soup....ok, there was actually bread before this but too hungry lah. The Beef Soup was a light beef broth with the sweetness of onions and celery. This was alright but certainly could have been better with a beefier taste and deeper flavour but then again Aston is not known for soups.

Next came the Baby Spinach Salad with sun-dried tomatoes and grilled bacon. My plate seemed to have a tad too much oil (from the sun-dried tomatoes) but the people around me had salads that were ok. Draining off the oil that comes with the sun-dried tomato and using a fragrant olive oil for the salad would have elevated this a notch. Nonetheless, a delicious salad with the tangy sun-dried tomatoes and smokey bacon!

The main course was either a choice of Roast Beef or Salmon.

Here's a look at the Salmon. Generous portion that was cooked just right- moist and not cooked through.

No prize for guessing my choice of main course... The Roast Beef was a hunk of a roast beef. Thick and tender, it had a gentle flavour. A few added dashes of salt coaxed out better flavour. A better thing would be to use good sea salt flakes.

I realised that generally the beef used in the steaks and roast beef at Aston Prime tends have a more subtle flavour compared to the robust, beefier-tasting ones at Aston Specialties.

Together with the roast beef and salmon, there was an assorted variety of side dishes. The Thai asparagus was sweet, young and tender. I enjoyed the baked potato with sour cream and bacon bits. The mushrooms were also tasty without being over-cooked and soggy. What I thought was a round hashbrown turned out to be rosti, according to Aston. Some commented that it 'cheapened' the look of the entire dish. While I personally agree, there's no denying that it was yummy.

Dessert was a Mudpie with chocolate ice cream and an awesome frozen oreo base that had a pleasant hardness.

Here were the happy former boys, girls and teachers that night! Some of them have not met in 37 years!! Conversations flowed freely and the chatter was unbelievable. Though I did not understand or relate to their old school days' topics/jokes, I basked in their infectious joy and satisfaction of a happy school reunion decades after having completed school.

This dinner was a special arrangement with Astons Prime and yes, we paid for our dinner. :)

Big thanks to Aston for hosting us and to all the staff of Astons Prime for their service and efforts that evening.

Astons Prime
Opens: 11.30am-10pm
Tel: 6235 0556

Chew On This: I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend one of these old schoolmates gathering when I'm 50 years old!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Finally Understood Putien

Putien for me has been one of those places that people rave about but I fail to understand why....until this recent opportunity to re-experience Putien as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. 10 years?! Wow. Didn't realise it has been around for 10 years. Certainly a milestone worth celebrating in the challenging Singapore F&B scene!

We had a mixture of old Putien favourites and new dishes:

A hot cup of Tie Guan Yin ($4.90) is always nice with a meal. Putien uses whole tea leaves in a cute steeping cup that many customers have apparently asked if they can buy!

Mini Shrimp with Seaweed ($9.90) was a simple and light starter. Slightly vinegar-y, the shreds of seaweed packed a nice salinity from the sea.

Drunken chicken I like. Drunken cockles ($9.90) I must be drunk first then maybe I'll like. Being a cow that doesn't eat cockles, I passed on this dish....but I did nibble the toppings and pwah! Garlic kao kao!

The Braised Bamboo Shoot with Beancurd ($9.90) featured tender bamboo slices with soft and almost velvety beancurd sheets. The latter was awesome!

A signature dish of Putien, the Stir-Fried Yam ($16.90 for medium portion) spotted a crisp exterior with a warm, puffy core of mashed yam. The natural sweetness of the yam was enhanced with just a bit of sugar/honey. Moreish and very good indeed.

A unique dish here that is not quite typical Pu Tian was the Steamed Seabass with Chilli ($35.90). People in Pu Tian (the city) do not feature much chilli in their food. This dish was tweaked to suit the Singaporean palate which often cannot do without sambal. The seabass was firm and the chilli-garlic-fermented-soybeans added much flavour though a pity that the natural sweetness of the fish was overwhelmed.

Shredded Meat with Bun ($3.90/piece) was another tasty dish. Strips of pork were stir-fried with onion and imbued with beautiful wok hei, before being fed into the cavity of the deep-fried bun.

Here's one after self-assembly. The classic Chinese burger. :p

And for those squirmish to use their bare hands to assemble this item, Putien provides gloves!

My personal favourite dish that afternoon turned to be the Braised Bitter Gourd ($16.90 for medium portion). It was simple- thick rings of bitter gourd quickly stir-fried and then braised till tender. The balance between the pleasantly bitter-tangy (Hokkien call it "kum kum") gourd and savoury sauce was perfectly inviting and appetising. Very dangerous with lots of rice. And interestingly, the seeds and reddish-whitish inner flesh were not removed. Chef said they added flavour.

On to some carbs!

The Fried "Hing Wa" Bee Hoon ($23.90 for large portion) was very refined both in terms of texture and taste. The thin bee hoon was made in-house and was delightfully soft with a good bite. Bits of veggie, peanuts, clams and prawns made up the main ingredients of this dish. The result was a simple and delicious medley of these light flavours.

For something with sauce, try the Putien Lor Mee ($15.90 for medium portion). Unlike the darkish gravy and loads of chopped garlic and vinegar in the local-style lor mee, the Putien version was lighter in colour and flavours but was no less tasty. The gravy was lightly starched and was sweet with flavours of seafood and, I suspect, pork bones.

The last dish before dessert was the Braised Beancurd & Chinese Cabbage Soup ($39.90 for large portion). I felt it was a tad pricey for a simple soup. Nonetheless, the soup was homely and had more of that delicious Putien-made beancurd.

As a sweet and relatively healthy ending to the tasting, we had the Japanese Sweet Potato with Ginger Tea ($3.90). Simply steamed, the sweet potato was naturally sweet and paired well with the spicy ginger tea. Definitely a dessert to have on a chilly, rainy day! Just remember to keep some stomach space or share this with friends as it can be quite filling...especially if you don't have four stomachs!

Overall, the appeal of Putien's food is in the freshness of the humble ingredients. The flavours here are relatively lighter and seafood-based due to Pu Tian's coastal influence. And there is no beef on the menu as many people in Pu Tian worship Ma Zhu.

Thanks to Putien and linea Communications for having me over and once again, congrats on Putien's 10th anniversary!

127 Kitchener Road (various other branches)
Tel: 6295 6358
Opens Daily: 11.30am-3pm (last order 2.30pm); 5.30pm-10pm (last order 9.30pm)

Chew On This:
If you like their potent chilli sauce, you can opt to buy a bottle back home for your own enjoyment! Salty, slightly fermented flavour with a sharp vinegar backbone and ends spicy with a chilli padi kick!