Tuesday, December 27, 2011

After too much turkey and ham...

After the past few days of Christmas home parties, I was soooo happpppy to return back to the comforts of warm steamed rice and spices!

Initially we wanted to check out J Pot but it was fully booked and the waiting list was until 9pm. Zzzzz. So we did the next best thing- see if the neighbouring restaurant, Nyonya and Baba Peranakan Restaurant, had space. Moohahaha.

Thankfully they did and so we did not faint from hunger!

The Steam Fish with Nyonya Sauce ($35 for small) featured red snapper- good for those who like their fish firmer. The sauce was pretty appetising with its sweet notes, sourish tang and spicy hints. Pieces of ladies fingers, brinjal and pineapple complete the dish.

White rice and Otak-otak ($6) are good friends. I found the version here a tad dry around the edges but overall nice with a spicy, aromatic paste streaked with mackerel. The slivers of fish gave it a nice bite.

The Nyonya Chap Chye ($10 for small) was savoury (think tau cheo aka fermented soy beans) and sweet. But oh how I wished the cabbage was stewed a little longer. :p

If you've had enough of salads for now, the familiar sight and crunch of Sambal Kang Kong ($10 for small) would be a big welcome. The one here wasn't oily nor saucy. Drier style with sambal and (I'm guessing) ginger.

Ayam Buah Keluah ($12 for small) is probably one of the most popular Peranakan dishes in Singapore. Though I found the one here to be more sour (think assam) than most others, it was indeed appetising. Dig into the black nuts for the buah keluah paste- earthy, almost like a chocolate paste with pleasant slight bitter taste. I love this with rice!

The food is not the best around but after all the festive makaning, this feels good.

Nyonya and Baba Peranakan Restaurant
#01-54/56 Vivo City
Tel: 6376 9138

Chew On This:
They have got very nice sambal. Squeeze a lime in and lagi shiok!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Moo-ry Christmas!

Ahh. I just love the end of the year feeling. With the festive moo-d and a sense of joy in the air, everything looks good. Everything feels good.

And everyone enjoys Christmas. Celebrate the true reason of the season- Jesus Christ! He came for he so loved us and in him we have hope, an abundant life and salvation.

Christmas is usually celebrated at home with the family.

And the maternal extended family. Moohehehe. We also had a Christmas dinner with the paternal side a week earlier this year.

The 5 cousins. We grew up playing together and now everyone is so...erm.. less young. LOL.

Me and couz, Howie Dweeb, with Xiao Yi who brought Kim Chi from her recent trip to Korea. Kim Chi Turkey anyone? Moohehe. I think it might have been this aunt of mine that influenced my fondness for food and wine. All her fault! :p

Speaking of turkey...here's a sexy bird. Our first time getting it from Four Seasons Gourmet Market. Pretty good! And the leftovers became a quick turkey stir-fry the next day and turkey congee a week later.

All photos credited to Mum and Melyi.

Moo-ry Christmas everyone and Happy Birthday, Jesus! Moohohoho.

Chew On This: Cos I can't wait for Christmas to come again! :D

Monday, December 19, 2011

Secret Sensations with Haagen Dazs

Thanks to Jansen and Sarah from Word of Mouth Communications, I was invited to the launch of Haagen Dazs's latest weapon of pleasure- Secret Sensations.

Available in two flavours- Chocolat Fondant and Creme Brulee ($5.95 each; twin pack at $10.95). With the small tubs of ice cream in our hands, we were told to wait for 10 minutes before digging in. If that 10 minutes were not torturous, I don't know what will be. Moohehe.

Here's the Chocolat Fondant and after what I would like to think was 10 minutes, I discovered the inner molten chocolate sauce. Oooo... Think rich chocolate ice cream, bits of brownies and that molten sauce. :)))

The Creme Brulee had a caramel sauce within and crunchy bits of caramelized sugar- to mirror the burnt sugar crust of creme brulee. I'm biased towards chocolate so I preferred the Chocolat Fondant! :p

Oh and yes, for posing for the very challenging word- Sensational, I won some Haagen Dazs vouchers! Here's Class 95's Yasminne Cheng, who hosted the event, very gamely posing with me. Moohahha. Photo thanks to SuperAdrianMe!

Check out their festive creations like Christmas Cassata, Royal Fondue and more! Only available until 2 Jan.

Haagen Dazs

Chew On This: Since I can't eat so much ice cream on my own this is the season of giving again, I'll be giving away $20 Haagen Dazs vouchers each to 3 winners! All you have to do is to comment here and include your name and email address by 26 Dec. I will pick 3 winners using the online random number generator. The vouchers expire end of this month but that should still allow you the next weekend to go grab some fab ice cream....otherwise...it'll all be donated to moo four stomachs! Moohahhaha.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Traits of a Popular Buffet Among Singaporeans

There's no doubt that Singaporeans love buffets. You hear about it. See it on TV programmes. And even participate heartily of course.

But what makes a buffet popular?

While this cow was grazing at the well-received PARKROYAL on Beach Road's Cafe Brasserie, I've noticed a few traits that seem to appeal to the palate of Singaporeans.

#1. The buffet should ideally be in a hotel. Most people tend to associate hotel buffets with better than average quality.

#2. Feature local favourites. The laksa here was pretty yummy with a rich, lemak broth.

Many people here like their Chicken Rice too. Decent stuff.

#3. Must! Have! Sashimi!

#4. Live stations. It's more interesting to watch and food is usually served hot. An Indian chef whipping up prata adds perceived authenticity to the dish.

There was also a Fried Oyster Omelette station.

#5. Variety. It's not only the spice of life but hey, everyone loves to be spoilt for choices at a buffet, no?

Pay one price, try more, eat all! Moohahaha.

#6. Have chefs around. Their presence alone assures quite a few. :p

#7. Feature seafood items. Diners see them as more expensive and hence are drawn to them to "get one's money's worth". Plaza Brasserie's Drunken Prawns were fresh, and I like the fortifying herbal soup- perfect for the recent chilly weather.

#8. Do a meat station. Unless it's a vegetarian buffet, meats are prized and alluring! Brings out the inner caveman in most.

#9. Be seasonal! With Christmas just round the corner, the above meat station became...

This! Awesome Roasted Honey Glazed Ham. The Roasted Turkey was also pretty good and moist.

And it has 12 types of sauces! I particularly liked the Tong Gui Herbal Sauce for its pleasantly bitter notes, Thai Mango Sauce for its perky, fruity flavours and the Sichuan Sauce for its savoury-tangy, mildly spicy taste (though it could have been cranked up a few notches for Singaporean's spicy-loving tongues).

#10. Have a board with some cheeses and condiments. Despite a good proportion of the population being lactose-intolerant, there seems to be a growing number of diners who love their cheese. Also for the ang mohs lah. Afterall, they came up with Who Moved My Cheese. This cow would have just named it Oei! Where My Cheese Go? Moohahaha.

#11. D for desserts! While some people have an extra stomach for sweet stuff, this is the main course area for the even more hardcore ones. The above shows just part of the dessert spread. I've seen bread and butter pudding, green bean soup, chocolate fountain, fresh fruits, ondeh ondeh, cheesecake etc. This festive season expect log cakes, ginger bread, Christmas fruit cake and puddings.

#12. Have signatures to bring people back. Plaza Brasserie's Chocolate Cake had a creamy mousse and sponge with a nice chocolate flavour. Studded with rum-soaked raisins too. Hic.

#Don'tKnowWhatNumberAlreadyLah LOL. Have a big bunch of food-loving people with you! The joys of eating with good company can't be over emphasized. (Group photo courtesy of GourmetEstorie.)

Thanks to Karen Chang of PARKROYAL on Beach Road for the invite and for hosting this cow.

Click here for the festive buffet pricing.

Plaza Brasserie
PARKROYAL on Beach Road
7500 Beach Road
Tel: 6505 5710

Chew On This: Heads up kiddos! Santa Claus will be making an appearance on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to give out goodies to children and the forever young.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homely Bak Kut Teh

The recent rainy weather has driven my desire for a pipping hot bowl of soup. Bak Kut Teh easily came to mind one afternoon....after lunch part one (the wanton mee in the previous post). Moohehe.

What's not so funny is that Bak Kut Teh seems to be getting pricier. It's now tough finding a bowl at $3.50 and at popular BKT destinations like along Balestier road, it comes to $7 or $8.

How was the one at Song Huat?

Well, I was pretty happy to pay $5 for this bowl- 3-4 long pieces of pork ribs that one can hold and nibble. The meat was tender and had just a nice amount to fat. The soup brought to mind a scene of a happy pig in lush green fields with garlic and pepper. Gentle, clean and flavourful. It had a homely touch which reminded me of bak kut teh at home during my childhood years.

The Pork Trotters ($5) however were so-so. The light sauce reminded me a bit of Teochew braised duck/goose but the meat was unfortunately dry.

Turkey season may be upon us but bak kut teh is definitely here to stay!

Song Huat Bak Kut Teh
1 Rochor Road
Rochor Centre
Opens: 8am-10pm
Closes: Every Monday (except if it's a public holiday)

Chew On This:
Not sure what rice they use but it's surprisingly good! Fluffy and the individual grains held their own. Often, it's the simple things done right that makes a difference. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

One Ton Mee

Seriously. That's what the signboard says! Moohehe.

Anyway, this stall has been apparently serving up wanton mee for over 30 years! Wow. While I find the char siew disappointingly without any caramelised charred bits, the noodles were nicely done- firm, springy bite with a balanced flavour of egg and alkaline water. Tossed in a bit of oil and chilli, the noodles here would appeal to those who do not like sweet (read ketchup) notes in their noodles.

The one tons wantons were yummy too. Good flavours of minced pork and crunchy bits of water chestnut. Maybe on my next visit I'll do an all-wanton noodles!

Oh and if you prefer mee kia's flatter brother, you can opt for mee pok too! Lol.

One Ton Mee
Kwang Hui Kopitiam
Rochor Centre
1 Rochor Road

Chew On This: Before it's too late. Rochor Centre is slated for redevelopment in 2-3 years time and who knows what might happen to this stall. :(

Monday, November 28, 2011

Really No Name Hokkien Mee

Ever wondered why a restaurant with the name "no signboard" still has a signboard? Anyway, this stall has a signboard but with no name to it!

The Hokkien Mee ($5 for medium) here is pretty nice- moist and a little saucy, relatively fresh seafood with its flavours infused into the noodles. The chilli and a squeeze of lime added a good depth to the dish.

You know what's the amoo-sing thing? No name but still got queue! Moohahaha.

Inside TP 802 Food House
Blk 802 Tampines Ave 4

Chew On This: This stall serves up fried carrot cake and oyster omelette too. I saw them steaming the carrot cake! That should be a good start. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fried Fish & Milky Soup Comfort

There are some days when one dish would give so much comfort that we call it, well, comfort dish. Moohahaha.

This bowl of Fried Fish Bee Hoon from Jin Hua at Maxwell Market is one such dish to me. Somehow fried food is always comforting (even if just psychological). The fried chunks of fish meat here were tasty and being dunked in the soup, had absorbed more flavours. The soup here had evaporated milk added which gave it a sweet, milkiness. Heat from the ginger and fragrance from the fried shallots and Chinese cooking wine balanced out this soup nicely.

Instead of just the usual red chilies in soy sauce as a side condiment, they mix green chilies here too. Great for those who like the tangy-spicy touch of the green chilies.

These days when the weather has gone wonky, this bowl is pure comfort- come rain or shine.

Jin Hua
Stall 77
Maxwell Food Centre

Chew On This: The bee hoon here is a medium thickness variety! In between the thin ones used in fried bee hoon and the thick version used in laksa. I think it gives a good balance between mouthfeel and the ability to absorb flavours.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Tribute to the Late Lee Kwee Cheng- My Superman Ah Kong

For those who are here after reading December's CLEO issue, sorry you had to see this non-food blog post. But I guess that's the beauty of blogs. It is something personal and I use mine as a platform of expression.

Foodie posts will resume after this tribute entry.

Last Friday (11/11/11) at about 4.10am, my Ah Kong passed on. I had mixed emotions- part of me was happy that he no longer felt pain or suffering, another part of me grieved.

My earliest memories of Ah Kong was at Nam Hong, a family provision shop at the junction of Serangoon Road and St Micheal's. Then I was perhaps only in primary school. Ah Kong loved when me, sis and my cousins came over. He would give us sticks of rainbow paddle pop ice cream. I can't recall that much during that time except oddly of the old school toilet (metal door, concrete squad type, single light bulb hanging from the top) and pulley system of 2 Milo tins used as a cashier's storage for money.

Every Sunday, the entire family (Ah Kong had 8 children) would gather at his 3-room Ang Mo Kio flat for dinner cooked by Ah Ma. Her ngoh hiang, chili fish, mee hoon kueh, hae bee hiam and pig's stomach soup were awesome by the way. With so many people crammed into the flat, dinners were usually a sweaty, sticky affair. I remember the times we spent watching variety shows like Gao Xiao Xing Dong sitting on the floor. No air con, no PSP, no iPhone. Despite the seemingly lack of modern comforts, dinners at Ah Ma's house were always noisy and happy.

I grew closer to Ah Kong only in my Secondary school days when he and I both manned the bar counter at our family's steamboat restaurant at Prinsep Place. Ah Kong made his popular Suan Mei Tang (Sour Plum Drink) alongside soursop drink and the occasional pineapple drink. His preferred mode of transport was always his bicycle and he often cycled to Poon Huat to buy ingredients for his drinks. Bottles of citric acid, flavourings and colourings filled his cupboard. It's amazing how he even knew what to use and buy without attending any formal training and especially with the labels in English!

Because Ah Kong and Ah Ma both spoke mainly Hokkien, I picked up the dialect to be able to communicate with them. As a tribute, I gave a short eulogy in Hokkien.

If you are wondering about the "Superman" in the title. Well, Ah Kong accepted Jesus later in his life and his friends at New Creation Church's Hokkien service gave him the nickname after he, at the age of 70, made it to the top of the hill in Israel beating people less than half his age. Power lah!

Foodwise, I will always remember Ah Kong as a fan of sashimi and beef. Salmon, tuna, swordfish, octopus, squid...he ate them all. He liked beef soup, shabu shabu and steak. I think I just realised where I got my cow-loving genes from. ;)

One big family misses him. Finding strength through faith and family togetherness.

Though Ah Kong is no longer physically with us, I know that this separation is but temporal. And that we will all reunite again one day in heaven.

To my dear Ah Kong, I bet you are enjoying yourself in a glorified body with Jesus. Can't image the awesome sashimi and beef in heaven. :)

Just in case you miss your favourite bird, here he/she is. Granduncle will take good care of it.

A big thank you to all family and friends who have lent their support and sent heartfelt condolences via FB, Twitter, SMS and visits.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Catching Up Over Ramen

Having missed the first 2 days of Wine for Asia this year ($#@%!), I was only able to visit on the last day which was opened to the public. This sucked as quite a few wine merchants had packed and left their booths empty. Also equally annoying, people now had to pay a fee to taste this year's winners of the Wine Style Asia awards.

Any that's for another story. I was happy to meet a few friends at Wine For Asia- RecentRunes, Qisheng, Tommy, Alice, Lawrence etc. After the exhibition, Qisheng and I headed for dinner. It was a simple and satisfying ramen dinner.

At Keisuke Tokyo, one can choose the level of taste/saltiness of the soup, ramen texture, onion and chicken oil etc. Pretty customisable to suit personal preferences. For mine, I opted for "normal" for everything.

I had the Tokyo Style Pork Broth Ramen with Flavoured Egg ($13). The soup was milky and tasty. A little salty but perfect with the firm, straight egg noodles. A slice of charshu, spring onions, seaweed and a yummy egg with a semi-solid yolk completed the dish. Oh and btw, there was chicken oil in this bowl of ramen. It provided a smooth coat to the ramen and had a light perfumed.

For added omph (which is always a good thing. Moohehe), I suggest adding heaps of the beansprouts. Served slightly chilled, it was a bit spicy and fragrant with sesame oil. It also gave the noodle dish a refreshing crunch.

Add some onions in too for more depth. On its own, it was astringent and unpleasant but when a small amount was added to the soup, it became sweet and balanced.

I forgot to take a shot of the bonito flakes that was another optional topping but DO add it! Moo-re umami flavours. Mmmm.

If you're hungry or have four stomachs too, order another serving of ramen at $2.50. Just indicate to the wait staff after finishing the original portion of ramen and they will bring you your additional serving. Remember to keep some soup though!

We decided to try the Yaki Gyoza ($5 for 5 pieces). But I was disappointed with these. The skin had a nice chewy bite but the filling had no feeling- smallish and a bit bland. :(

But anyway, it was good catching up with Qisheng!

Keisuke Tokyo
#03-02 Millenia Walk
Tel: 6337 7919
Opens: Mondays-Fridays 11.30am-3.30pm; 5.30pm-10.30pm
Saturdays & Sundays 11am-10pm

Chew On This: No fear of splashes and messy eaters for dining companions here! :p