Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chinese New Year Eats at Yan Ting

Dong dong chiang! Dong dong chiang! It's the time of the year where suddenly auspicious words and blessings are abundant, bak kwa commands a queue, the price of seafood and even a vegetable like tang-o soars, people paint the (china)town and everywhere else red... it's a time of festivities, feasting and celebrating togetherness.

Chinese restaurants too get into action with a slew of Loh Hei menus and delicacies. And here's what Yan Ting offers this CNY courtesy of Executive Chef Mak Kip Fu.

The Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon ($48 for medium, $88 for large) was surprisingly measured. No fancy presentation or ingredients that were sourced from the highest mountains or deepest seas. Just good, well-made yu sheng. Sliced abalone, which is available for an extra fee, was thrown in for good measure.

This clean, peachy Gérard Bertrand Viognier 2012 was perfect with the yu sheng. Yum seng TTM! Moohehe.

Moove over shark's fin. It's bird's nest in this broth yo. The Braised Superior Bird’s Nest Broth with Crab Meat ($78 per portion) featured a generous serving of bird's nest and crab meat.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Braised Whole 5-Head African Abalone with Seasonal Greens ($52 per portion). Usually not really an abalone fan, this cow was won over with the rich flavour and tenderness of this baby. It turned out to be my favourite dish of the evening. :)

So that year year got fish, the Hong Kong-Style Steamed Coral Trout (part of a set menu) arrived. This was simple, delicate and delicious.

The Prosperity Oyster with Moss and Conpoy ($42 per portion) signified good happenings and prosperity. So better eat. LOL.

Baked Rack of Lamb with Chef’s Signature Coffee Glaze (part of a set menu) was for me, my least favourite dish. The super-tender texture and muted flavour of the meat hinted at the over-use of tenderiser- common in Chinese cooking. The sticky coffee glaze was sweet, bitter and savoury though I wasn't quite a fan of its whole package.

Then the Braised Ee-Fu Noodles with Seafood in XO Sauce (part of set menu) restored my smile with its punchy XO sauce and bountiful ingredients. 

Desserts took the form of Fragrant Home-Made Almond Tea with Hashima & Glutinous Rice Cake (part of set menu). The former was comforting while the latter satisfyingly chewy.

Here's to a Happy Lunar New Year!

Thanks to Jackson Sim of The St Regis for the invitation.

Yan Ting
Level 1U
The St Regis Singapore
Tel: 6506 6887

Chew On This: before 14 February!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Affordable Peranakan Makan @ Simpang

A new eatery has replaced a cze char place in Simpang Bedok, hence adding "Peranakan" to the cuisine options at this popular makan enclave in the east.

Rick's Casual Dining serves up affordable and homely Peranankan and Asian delights.

Take their $28 set meal (meant for 2 pax) as an example. One gets to pick a pork dish, a chicken dish, and a vegetable to complete the set meal which also comes with ngoh hiang, achar, 2 drinks, rice and dessert. Certainly good value.

We ordered an extra veg, Sambal Kangkong ($5), for good measure.

The Ayam Buah Keluak was a tad watery but had a nice depth of flavour from the spices used. The black nuts were fantastic- creamy, earthy and like dark unsweetened chocolate! I think the chicken is optional here. Moohehe.

The Chap Chye leaned on the sweet side with soft cabbage, springy woodear fungus and dried shrimps and tau cheong. The latter two ingredients added a nice savoury, umami touch.

The Ngoh Hiang tasted better than it looked. Fairly crisp skin with a tasty filling spiked with five spice powder. Nothing like those homemade ones but definitely better than many eating places. In the background, the Pork Rendang was creamy, sweet and aromatic. The gravy was very smooth and dangerous with rice.

Also very enjoyable was the small dish of sambal, freshly made in-house.

Dessert that day was a homely and rather comforting bowl of grean beans and sago soup. Gula Melaka gave it an extra taste dimension.

Drinks we had as part of the set meal were Chin Chow and Barley.

The owner Rick, a Baba, is friendly and apparently runs another Peranakan stall somewhere else in Bedok. Go ask him for recommendations.

I am just happy that there is moore dining options available near home. :)

Rick's Casual Dining
288 Bedok Road
Bedok Shopping Centre aka Simpang Bedok
Tel: 9182 3054
Opens: Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am to 10pm
Closed: Monday

Chew On This: Check out their specials board for well, specials! :p

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Race Course Road Craving

Every now and then I tend to crave for Indian makan at Race Course Road. And moore often then not, I return to my favourite, The Banana Leaf Apolo.

One reason I love about Indian makan at this area is the free-flow rice, two vegetables and papadum. Can be considered as a vegetarian meal on its own! The briyani featured fluffy long grains of basmati rice that were light and gently spiced with cloves, star anise, cardamon etc.

Their most popular dish is probably the Curry Fish Head ($22 for small). The flesh was moist and the curry an aromatic blend of spices with a slight tang.

We also ordered the Black Squid ($9 for small) which was deliciously cooked in its own ink. Wonderful with plenty of rice. Moohehe.

While I usually go for the Marsala Chicken, it was the Tandoori Chicken ($12 for half) we had this time round. Lovely smoky aroma from the grilling. Best enjoyed while it's still hot!

And no. We didn't kena strip searched lah. LOL.

The Banana Leaf Apolo
54 Race Course Road
Tel: 6293 8682
Opens: Daily 10.30am to 10.30pm

Chew On This: They now have i-pads on some tables to take orders. Looks like this traditional Indian restaurant is going a bit high-tech!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nothing Beats Simple Cooking with Love at Home

My younger cousins came over to my place on Saturday evening to pick up some cooking from my moother. It was good to see the younger ones cook or even express some interest in cooking for that matter. Too many people now seem not to be able or willing to cook at home.

And it is a pity.

Home cooking can be simple, fun and fulfilling. Even ang moh food. On that evening, we tucked into a delicious dinner of roast chicken, steamed corn, salad, grilled asparagus and pumpkin, and cheese stuffed mushrooms.

Also present was my youngest aunt Xiao Yi and Uncle Gary. I think this cow might have picked up his taste for vino from her when he was a moolet. Moohehe. Shhhh!

We shared a bottle of Maison Bouachon Crozes Hermitage 2010 which was silky and fresh with berries, plum, white pepper and a touch of dried herbs, and a blackberry-licious, pure Domaine Bessa Valley Enira Cabernet 2011 which I brought back from Bulgaria. Yes, you didn't read wrongly. Bulgaria.

I really thoroughly enjoyed dinner. Nothing has to be perfect at home which was perfectly comforting.

Chew On This: And Sip On This. May home-cooking never die!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Grazing at Les Amis

Long before the celebrity chefs restaurants sprouted up at the two Integrated Resorts here, Les Amis was probably one of the stalwarts of fine dining in Singapore. Competition has sure benefited consumers as restaurants try to offer more interesting menus, concepts and value. 

Yes, value. Even at the upper echelons of fine dining, there is value to be had.

I found this to be the case while grazing at Les Amis a few months ago, where ex-Cépage Sebastien Lepinoy is now Executive Chef. Chef Sebastien used to work under legendary chef Joël Robuchon so you can guess there's a certain quality and pedigree to his craft.

The bread basket was so good that I could eat it on its own the PR girl made fun of this bread-chewing cow. :( LOL.

Moore seriously, the breads, all baked in-house by the way, were really good. Even better that they were served with French Bordier butter. Here they had 5 types for us to pick- salted, unsalted, seaweed, espelette chilli and smoked.  

The first dish of French Caviar from Sologne presented itself in two ways. The first was atop a neat bundle of chilled angel hair pasta with seaweed and chives. Delicious and refreshing though reminiscent of other variants out there. The second form was on maki of scallop sashimi. The "rice" was actually scallop sashimi. Pretty interesting.

Next came the Steamed Blue Crab on Hokkaido Sea Urchin on Lobster Custard & Fennel Foam. Loved the visually pleasing look of this dish. There was some Japanese influence in this delicate yet flavourful item. Very well done!  

The Crispy Cornouaille Langoustine featured a perfectly fried dumpling of langoustine that was light and crispy. However, moo thinks its flavour was rather bland. The accompanying ‘folichonne’ salad aka "crazy salad" on the other hand was delish with strips of seaweed and fried white bait tossed with the greens. 

Can't quite do French without foie gras, no? One can either debate and argue against or for this delicacy until my fellow cows come home but when served this, I prefer to simply eat. Moohehe. The Pan Seared Foie Gras and French River Eel accompanied by Citrus Fruits was a medley of textures and flavours from both the sea and the land. 

Perhaps to end on a high note before desserts, the Grilled Dry Aged Beef with Bitter Herbs, Mushrooms and a Rich Jus made its appearance. A5 Japanese Kagoshima wagyu. I ate in blissful silence. :p

Then I discovered there was moore bread. Damn! Moohahaha.

Ok, time for desserts. Pastry Chef Cheryl Koh holds the fort on the baked and the sweet here.

Les Amis’ Dark Valrhona Chocolate P125 Souffle oozed understated charm. Served with Tahiti vanilla ice cream, the airy chocolate souffle played on the classic chocolate-vanilla pairing. Rich, luxurious and balanced. 

As a bonus, Chef Cheryl brought out these Paris-Brest which were sweet, flaky, creamy and I bet (deliciously) calorie laden. Moohehe.   

We also got to try 2 wines that evening. The fresh, citrusy Austrian Huber Grüner Veltliner 2012 ($90) was a very food-friendly wine with a nice length while the 100%-Merlot Chateau Clarisse Vieilles Vignes 2010 ($120) boasted dark fruits and some herbs with a rounded finish. Lovely with the Kagoshima wagyu.

Actually, I am a very simple eater. This will do. Moohehe.

Les Amis' modern European cuisine is very refined and sophisticated. 

And the best part? It has gotten moore affordable! 

The above are highlights selected across the different meal segments menus. Lunch sets are priced at $45++ while dinner starts from $150++ per person. 

Thanks to Nicole of GHC Asia, and Merissa and Chevonne of Les Amis for the invitation.

Shaw Centre
Tel: 6733 2225

Chew On This: Enjoy a tour of their walk-in wine cellar (wish I would have this at home!) and ask the friendly sommeliers for wine recommendations to complement the meal.  

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Bak Chor Mee Love

Love can take many forms....including a bowl of bak chor mee. 

I first chanced upon this stall when I was around the Bras Basah area scouting for a kopitiam for some supper. One bowl of noodles later, I told mooself I had to return.

This time for lunch, the bowl of Bak Chor Mee ($4.30) was equally comforting. Springy noodles tossed in a tasty mix of chilli paste, garlic oil, lard and black vinegar made for good eating. I like that they used a little garlic oil which added a savoury depth to the noodles. For added oomph, add in the sliced red chilli and roughly chopped raw garlic.

Ingredients-wise, expect minced pork, supple slices of fish cake, blanched beans sprouts, lettuce, a small but relatively fresh fishball, two pork balls and a Teochew dumpling which would put most wanton mee stalls to shame. The dumpling was plump and flavourful with a soft, silky skin. Very nice!

With this stall run by two Teochew uncles dressed in their typical thin white t-shirts who can joke about adding 1kg of tau geh to a regular who apparently always asks for moore of the stuff, it is assuring that there are hawkers who are still passionate about their food and pleasing customers...24/7.

Parklane Noodle House
Blk 231 Bain Street, Bras Basah Complex #01-79
(inside Coffee Express 2000)
Opens: 24 hours

Chew On This:

Help yourself to moore lard if you want!