Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sampling New Sardinian Specialties at Sopra Cucina & Bar

Italian cuisine is ever popular on this island nation but while I find that many Italian restaurants seem to do generic Italian cuisine, there are others like Sopra Cucina & Bar which specialise in a specific region, in this case, Sardinia.
Sopra Cucina & Bar recently launched a new menu and I was happy to trot down and graze my way through. Moohehe.

For starters, the Polpo Alla Carlofortina ($20) is a winner with its tender pieces of slow-cooked octopus tossed in a textural medley of olives, capers, basil, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, arugula and celery. They were all lightly coated with a slightly tangy (I'm guessing olive oil-based) dressing, making it wonderfully appetising. 

The Biscotto di Pecorino ($22) is a traditional Sardinian dish made of durum wheat flatbread stuffed with Pecorino cheese and drizzled with honey. The contrasting textures of crisp flatbread and melt-y cheese were a delight against the savouriness of the sheep's cheese and the sweetness from the honey. This dish showcases durum wheat and sheep both of which Sardinia produces a lot of.

Another Sardinian delight is the Malloredus Alla Campidanese ($25). I love that the small semolina dumplings shaped into conch shells with ridges caught mooch of the rich pork and rosemary sauce. It's a rustic, hearty dish after my own heart. Moohehe.    

Speaking of hearty, sink your teeth into 400g of suckling pig with the Porcheddu Sardo ($48). The first thing to hit me was the fragrant aroma of garlic. The meat is liberally sprinkled with sea salt but was unfortunately way too salty and intense for my liking.

From the pizza section, we tried the Pizza Sopra ($28 for 9"). I like the slightly chewy crust which gave a better bite. The tasty toppings of Parma ham, tomatoes, arugula and Parmesan shavings were classic. Apparently, chef uses a top of the line pizza oven brought in from Italy.
Then it was time for desserts which took the form of a Cannoli ($10) and Tiramisu ($10). The former was a delightful crisp pastry shell, deep fried and filled with sweetened ricotta cheese while the latter was a cup of moist sponge fingers and mascarpone with a nice espresso boost. Though I don't think neither Cannoli nor Tiramisu is specific to Sardinia but hey, they seem popular all over Italy, no?

I do like the food at Sopra Cucina & Bar. Rustic, homely and rich, the Sardinian specialities are somewhat comforting. The restaurant is also pretty comfortable, exuding an old-world Hollywood charm with understated polish. It can accommodate up to 250 diners and welcomes bookings for private bookings and events too.

Then it was off to a stroll in the Singapore Botanic Gardens to digest all these food, plus graze on moore F&B offerings there. Moohehe.

Thank you Food News PR for hosting me.
10 Claymore Road
Tel: 6737 3253
Opens: Monday 5pm to midnight, Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am to midnight

Chew On This: Ladies can enjoy free-flow Prosecco every Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm at just $25! I might just be tempted enough to go find a skirt. Moohaha.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mooncakes- Celebrating Chang Er's Sweet Tooth

It's the time of the year again when moon goddess Chang Er and her celestial bunnies are bouncing off jade pagodas and icy lakes from all that sugar high. Ah the mid-autumn festival. Seeing the lit lanterns and tasting a dozen boxes of mooncakes is a sure sign to the red fat man and his little helpers to prepare for that upcoming moost wonderful time of the year.

Over at the St Regis Singapore's Yan Ting, masterchefs dole out an exquisite selection of mini snowskin mooncakes presented in an elegant ivory tower. These handcrafted treats come in new flavours such as the White Lotus Paste with Lemon Truffle ($73 for a box of 8), which is imbued with a delightfully bright citrus touch, the interesting sweet-savoury combination of Cranberry Paste with Salted Egg Yolk ($73 for a box of 8) and the White Lotus Paste with Lychee Martini Truffle ($75 for a box of 8), which I suspect is just Chang Er craving for a cocktail. Moohehe.

Add a dash of colour to the dining table with Xin Cuisine's snowskin favourites. These mini beauties encased in a pastel blue and fuchsia pink box bearing dainty motifs of the Vanda Miss Joaquim, seduce the eyes as much as they tease the palate. Enjoy flavours like the rich and creamy Peranakan Durian, intriguing Soursop and Chocolate Crunch, alongside new ones such as the wholesome Purple Sweet Potato with Macadamia Nuts and the perky Coffee White Lotus Seed Paste with Rum & Raisin Chocolate. Each flavour is priced at $52 per box of 6.

Tea is the beverage of choice when enjoying mooncakes and what's even better is when tea is incorporated directly into the mooncakes for a clever winning combination. The InterContinental Singapore's Man Fu Yuan unveils its new Snowskin Tea Collection ($66 for a box of 4 pieces) with tea-infused flavours like the heady Early Grey & Baileys Truffle with White Lotus Paste, fragrant Oolong & Black Sesame Paste, floral Rose & Pistachio with White Lotus Paste, and my favourite Japanese Matcha. Love the latter's prominent green tea flavour with a pleasant slight hint of bitterness!

Also worth a shout out is the InterContinental Singapore's mooncake box for this year. Designed by local illustrator Jacqueline Goh, the beautiful tin box reflects the rich heritage and architectural facades of the Bugis area where the hotel is located at. After polishing off the mooncakes inside, it can be reused to keep jewellery, stationary and other small items.

All the above mooncakes are available at the respective hotels until 27 September.

Happy Mid Autumn Festival!

Chew On This: Mooncakes are pretty high in cow-lories so do share them around with friends and loved ones to even out the damage! Moohehe.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Enbu Opens at the Multi-Concept Eat At Seven

Japanese-food-crazy people here now have another exciting dining destination to go to- Eat At Seven. Recently launched, Eat At Seven at Suntec City is a joint venture by Japanese airline ANA, local restaurateur Andrew Tan from Tomo F&B and Komars Group.

A multi-concept enclave, Eat At Seven offers 7 popular eatery brands from Japan in a sprawling 600-seater space. The first concept to open is Enbu, which translates to "dance of flame", Singapore's first Warayaki and charcoal grill izakaya.

With its speciality of using straw and charcoal for grilling, Enbu's Chicken Warayaki with Special Spring Onion Sauce ($12) was a winner. I really like that the skewered chicken pieces were remain moist and had an alluring smoky fragrance. Japanese-style tandoori chicken perhaps? Moohehe.

For starters, try the Smoked Salmon with Homemade Cheese Tofu ($12) and Amaebi Yukke (sweet prawn with homemade sesame flavour sauce; $14). The former was richly flavoured and comforting while the latter presented a delightful medley of textures.   

Oyster fans can wallop these Oysters and Spinach Teppanyaki with Uni Sauce and Cream Cheese Dressing ($20). Coated in a light batter and deep fried, these morsels were blanketed with a creamy uni and cream cheese sauce though I felt the flavour of uni was lost here.

For a stronger uni flavour, have the Deep Fried Tofu with Uni Sauce ($12) instead. The thick umami-laden sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the deep fried tofu which had crisp exteriors and soft insides. Order rice. Thank you.

The Taco Salad ($15) was quite tasty but I'm not sure how it fits into Enbu's theme.

Ah happiness is seeing my relatives....on a platter. Moohaha. The subtly smoked Roasted Tenderloin Warayaki ($22) was served a little chilled and rare so do let the service staff know if you prefer it moore cooked. Gentle flavours were teased out with some chewing.

For dessert, the Mochi Ice Cream ($8) beckoned with its chewy exterior and ice cream core.

Enbu's food is pretty well-priced and I think it will be popular with the office crowd there plus those who want another taste of Japan.

Thank you, Enbu and Brand Cellar for hosting me.

Enbu at Eat At Seven
Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6268 8043
Opens: 11am to 11pm

Chew On This:
This is so my type of ladies. Moohehe. These Coedo tap handles made me reach for a beer. Ya all their fault. Moohaha. Speaking of beers, both the Coedo White and Ruri craft beers are available on tap at Enbu!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Celebrating the Completion of FWS Exam at Cafe de Hong Kong

After the past few months of self-study (drinking), classes (drinking) and group discussions (drinking), we were all relieved to have completed the French Wine Scholar exam paper. Moohehe.

So off we went to celebrate the end of exam with a dinner and wines (of course) at Café de Hong Kong. I suggested this place as I've been a fan of its food, BYO-friendliness and in support of its boss, Francis, who is a friend.

I was in a very erm...happy mood so pardon the hasty iPhone snapshots. This blog hasn't been about stunning photos anyway. Moohehe.

We started with the Crispy Fried Fish Skins, which I feel is a great way to combat traffic woes as waiting for friends stuck in jams became moore bearable. LOL.

A staple of many dinners I have enjoyed here at Café de Hong Kong is the trusty Nam Yu Roast Chicken. Good flavour of the meat with crisp skin always works.

The Smoked Duck is delicious with its meaty, savoury flavours and that sliver of fat. Really nice dish with a table of red wines. Moohaha.

Another robust dish is Stewed Mutton with its rich, comforting flavours. I only wished there was a chiffonade of kaffir lime leaf and nam yu dip to enhance it.

Not the healthiest of vegetable dishes but the Yau Mak Choy was one which beckoned rice. Punchy bits of canned dace fish and black beans added a nice depth of flavour.

Fried Rice with Fish Roe is da bomb here. I have this. Every. Single. Time.

Hong Kong Style Claypot Rice or Lap Mei Fan is a moost for fans of waxed meats. The pieces of liver sausage in particular were sweet and flavoursome.

Charcoal Beancurd with Broccoli featured soft rectangular slabs of tofu slathered in a tasty sauce flecked with dried scallops. Yums!

So far all the above dishes were tried and tested ones which I enjoy here. I'm a boring eating I know. Moohehe.

But at Francis' recommendation, we ordered up the Steamed La La. These flower clams were finger-licking good! Sweet, tender and perfectly steamed with the minced garlic and Chinese wine.

I knew I was in trouble when it was still white wine in my glass at 9pm. Moohaha.

Desserts are not Café de Hong Kong's strength but definitely have the Hong Kong French Toast. This towering toast is moist but not overly oily. Fragrant and sinful with a thick slab of butter and a drizzle of honey. Pair this with a cup of hot Milk Tea for the prefect ending.  

Café de Hong Kong
586 Balestier Road
Tel: 6255 3865

Chew On This: Café de Hong Kong allows diners to bring their own wines and will provide glasses, ice buckets and even a decanter if needed. For those who find themselves there but without a bottle, fret not as the restaurant retails a small selection with some pretty affordable options. Best part is the party can continue imbibing at an al fresco table even after the restaurant is closed! :p   

Friday, September 04, 2015

York Hotel's Popular Penang Hawkers' Fare

A dining promotion which has been running for nearly 30 years in Singapore is no joke. As seen by the queues of hungry diners who were waiting for a table even at 8.30pm one evening, York Hotel's Penang Hawkers' Fare is really popular!
Available three times a year, the current instalment runs from 4 to 20 September for both lunch and dinner. 11 stalls serve up Penang favouites like Penang Laksa, Nasi Lemak, Char Kway Teow, Oyster Omelette, Cuttlefish Kang Kong and Lor Bak among others. Yes, it's a buffet ($25.80++/adult for Monday to Friday; $28.80++/adult for Weekends) so have as mooch as you like. Moohehe.
I really liked the Penang Char Kway Teow with its smoky, savoury notes. But it's hard to beat a comfortingly warm bowl of Kway Teow Soup especially after indulging too mooch. The stock, made with pork ribs and chicken bones, was very tasty.      
The Oyster Omelette could have been a little crispier but paired with a tangy chilli sauce, the gooey starch bits are quite a delight. I'm not a huge oyster fan but I still whacked two plates of this. Moohehe.  
For dessert, there was Ice Kacang (even saw an Ice Ball for a diner who requested for it) and Chendol but my favourite was the crisp Ban Chang Kueh, a thin pancake shell filled with crushed peanuts and sugar.
Overall, though not all dishes seem to be identical to the ones I have had in Penang, it is still reasonably priced with decent variety. Not crazily extensive so it is possible to makan your way through every dish. 
No table reservations are entertained so go early!  
Thank you, York Hotel for hosting me.
White Rose Café
Level 1, York Hotel
Tel: 6830 1156
Chew On This: Stand to win accommodation and meal vouchers when you dine here for the Penang Hawkers' Fare. Top prize is a weekend stay at York Hotel's Premier Room for a family of up to 4 persons plus dining vouchers!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Recipe: Homecooked Mee Soto!

Among the myriad of noodle dishes in Singapore, my favourite has got to be Mee Soto! Essentially a chicken broth based Malay noodle dish, Mee Soul-to is pure comfort with its rich flavours from spices and poultry accompanied with a punchy chilli kicap manis. Chicken (noodle) soup for the soul indeed! Moohehe. 

The issue for me with many Mee Soto sold at hawker stalls is that the soup tends to be heavily salted and MSG and/or chicken powder-laden. Since learning to cook this dish at home using a recipe tweaked from My Hidden Kitchen, I have discovered the joys of homecooked Mee Soto. :)

Here's sharing the recipe below. As with all my cooking, it can be quite intuitive and flexible so use the recipe as a guide and have fun!

Mee Soto

- 5-6 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 star anise
- 5 cardamom pods
- 3 stalks of lemon grass, bruised to release aromatics
- 1 whole chicken, chopped into large parts
- Beansprouts
- Egg noodles or bee hoon
- 40g coriander seeds, toasted in a pan and grounded into a rough powder
- 10g white peppercorns, toasted in a pan and grounded into a rough powder
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 6 candlenuts
- 30g galangal
- 40g ginger
- 1 red onion
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2-3 teaspoons turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Soy sauce to taste
- Fish sauce to taste
- Fried shallots (garnish)
- Coriander leaves (garnish)

1) Heat cooking oil in a large pot.

2) Fry cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom over low heat for a few minutes until fragrant.
3) Blend garlic, ginger, galangal, onion and candlenuts into a paste with a little bit of water in a blender. Add this paste into the pot.
4) Add turmeric powder, ground coriander seeds and a big pinch of salt into the pot. Cook the spice mixture for a few minutes until it is dry, oil is absorbed and it turns a shade darker. Stir often to avoid it being burnt.
5) Add in lemongrass and chicken pieces. Stir fry for a few minutes, adding a little oil if it gets too dry.

6) Turn up the heat and add in about 2 litres of water to cover the chicken pieces. I find it better to add a little less water to make a moore concentrated stock which can be diluted out, if need be, later.
7) Once it starts to boil, lower the heat and shred the chicken before placing the bones back into the pot. Simmer the bones for another 1-2 hours for better flavour extraction.
8) Add in ground white pepper, salt, soy sauce and fish sauce to taste.
9) Blanch noodles and/or bee hoon and beansprouts in a separate pot.
10) Ladle hot chicken broth over the blanched noodles, beansprouts and shredded chicken.
11) Garnish with fried shallots and coriander leaves.

For the chilli kicap manis, simply blend 2 of each red chillies, green chillies and chilli padi plus 1 clove of garlic then add in kicap manis (dark sweet soy sauce), salt, sugar and a squeeze of lime to taste. A generous dollop of this into the Mee Soto adds oomph!

But wait. What's Mee Soto without its delicious spud sidekick Begedil? Moohehe.


- 4-5 medium to large potatoes
- Fried shallot
- Beaten egg
- Chopped coriander leaves (Chinese parsley also can lah)
- White pepper
- Cumin
- Coriander seeds, toasted in a pan and grounded
- Salt

1) Boil peeled potatoes until soft and cooked through.
2) Place boiled spuds into a large bowl or plate and roughly mash them with a fork. I like a bit of texture compared to a super smooth mash.
3) Add fried shallot, chopped coriander leaves, white pepper, cumin and ground coriander seeds. Taste and adjust various spice ingredients according to your preference.
4) Add in 2-3 tablespoons of beaten egg and mix into mashed potato mixture.   
5) Shape into small round discs of mashed potato mixture and dip patties into beaten egg to coat before deep/shallow frying them in a pan until golden brown.

Lay everything out for a DIY Mee Soto party! Egg (onsen/soft-boiled/hard-boiled) makes for a nice addition to the dish too.

I love how flavourful and natural-tasting homecooked Mee Soto is. Every drop of the soup can be slurped up with absolute piece of mind.

Chew On This:

Rehash leftovers and create a dry-style Mee Soto with blanched noodles and sprouts tossed in sesame oil, oyster sauce and fried shallots served with a bowl of chicken broth with chye sim thrown in for good (and healthy) measure. Same same but different. Moohaha.