Saturday, October 31, 2015

Ang Zao Mee Sua

The arresting aroma of ginger being gently fried in sesame oil, probably my favourite kitchen scent, is enough to make this cow float. Add in Ang Zao (red glutinous rice wine lees) and chicken pieces marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce and white pepper, to make an Ang Zao Chicken Mee Sua dish that can take me to the heavens. Yes, all cows go to heaven.
The moother whipped up this dish using Ang Zao and mee suah (flour vermicelli) we recently brought back from Taiwan. A Foochow specialty, this dish called for lots of ginger, sesame oil and Ang Zao. Don't be put off by its red hue. Can eat "scary" Halloween food yet can't take a red noodle dish. Moohaha. It's natural and said to be good for lowering cholesterol. The fermented goodness from the Ang Zao adds heaps of flavour and complexity to the simple noodle dish.
While it is a popular confinement food for mothers after giving birth, I am thankful I don't need to be pregnant to enjoy this yummy one pot dish! Moohehe.
Chew On This: It can be quite hard to find good Ang Zao especially in supermarkets here. Some of the best are said to be homemade using traditional recipes so do ask around your Foochow friends and relatives!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Double the Decadence with Pince & Pints' New Truffle Lobster Roll

Since their opening a year ago, Pince & Pints has been packing in the crowds hungry for their famed lobster rolls. With the lobster roll craze initiated and several other restaurants doling out their versions, Pince & Pints looks set to claw their way ahead with the launch of their new Truffle Lobster Roll!

The Truffle Lobster Roll ($68) packs a decadent punch with chunks of lobster flesh topped with slices of black truffle! The crustacean's meat tasted fresh and had a perfectly springy texture. The lobster flesh was obtained from a whole approximately 600g lobster, including the claws, and was first blanched then dunked into an ice bath. Before serving, the lobster meat was seared in butter and tossed with chives in a truffle sauce. So shiok, this can't be very good for health. Moohehe.

Pince & Pints has their own facility to hold live wild-caught lobsters imported from Boston, Maine and Canada twice weekly. Stringent care means that the lobsters are kept healthy and happy which also equals yummy crustaceans.

Their "regular" The Lobster Roll ($58) was also scrumptious though the lobster was intentionally served slightly chilled. Creamy, sweet yet all very balanced.

For those smokers who enjoy a little smokiness in their food, opt for the Grilled Lobster ($58), served with a herbed butter sauce.
Each of the above lobster dishes comes with a serving of fries and salad.

If you want mantou (fried bun) instead, order the Chilli Lobster ($58) which comes with a tomato and chilli gravy not unlike chilli crabs. But I still prefer the earlier lobster dishes.
Anyway, enjoy the lobster with a cold glass of Suntory beer on tap or one of the many bottled craft beers available. And cheers because Pince & Pints has expanded to the 2nd floor to add another 30 seats to their now 76-seater restaurant.  
I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the cooking of the lobsters throughout all the above mentioned dishes. It was consistently cooked perfectly, retaining a moist, firm bite. No lobster should be damned to a rubbery death! Moohehe.
Thank you Pince & Pints for the invitation.

Pince & Pints
32-33 Duxton Road
Tel: 6225 7558
Opens: Monday to Friday, 5pm to 11pm
            Saturday, 12pm to 11pm

Chew On This: Pince & Pints expands into Malaysia with its first outlet this month at Kuala Lumpur (Jalan Telawi 5, Bangsar Baru)! Other than their signature lobster dishes, diners there can also sink their teeth into Lobster Noodles cooked in a superior broth which already sounds like it'll be another hit.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sembawang White Bee Hoon

"White" is not a colour that inspires deliciousness when it comes to food so I was intrigued when some reservist mates waxed lyrical about this "white bee hoon" near camp.

Well, curiosity doesn't kill the cow so we headed there for lunch. Moohehe.

The famed White Bee Hoon ($12 for large) certainly looked its part with white strands of vermicelli with seafood, chye sim and beaten egg sitting in a white soupy gravy. The unassuming looking dish does not have the smoky wok hei touch nor sinfully shiok lard or the heady punch of Chinese cooking wine, but there was something comforting about its plain appeal which allowed the chicken stock, prawns and sotong to shine alongside the inherent flavour of the bee hoon.    

I won't queue for this but there are many fans who will.

The other cze char dishes we had like Sambal Kang Kong, Fried Homemade Beancurd, Prawn Omelette, Har Jeong Kai and Hae Chor were all wiped out at the table too. Tasty or were we hungry? It could have been both! Moohaha.
Sembawang White Bee Hoon
22 Jalan Tampang (other outlet at The Punggol Settlement)
Tel: 9843 4699
Opens: 11.30am to 10.30pm
Closed: Wednesdays

Chew On This: This place gets apparently pretty crowded during meal times especially during the weekends!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Celebrate Japanese Gastronomy at Oishii Japan

ASEAN's largest Japanese F&B showcase Oishii Japan returns this 22nd to 24th October for its fourth edition. Expect almoost 300 exhibitors representing 42 out of 47 prefectures in Japan and showcasing over 500 new food produce, specialties and machinery!

Visitors can attend demonstrations, workshops and also sample some of Japan's finest produce from fresh vegetables and fruits to premium meats and seafood. Look out for unique products such as the Sanuki olive-fed wagyu from Kagawa and the red snow crabs from Tottori.

I love the Amadai tile fish served at the Oishii Japan media preview at Lewin Terrace, with its full crispy-scales glory. Moohehe. By the way, Japanese-French fusion restaurant Lewin Terrace will be one of 50 Japanese restaurants in Singapore to offer special dining promotions from now until 24 October as a lead up to Oishii Japan 2015.

Besides food, there will be a special focus on shochu this year in a bid to promote the distilled spirit which is very popular in Japan but not as well known here. Shochu has a higher alcohol content compared to sake and can be made from sweet potato, rice or barley.

Visitors to Oishii Japan will be able to taste many varieties of shochu and pick up tips on enjoying this versatile beverage which can be consumed neat, on the rocks, with a mixer or incorporated into cocktails.

Thank you, Ninemer Public Relations for the invitation to the media preview.

Oishii Japan
Halls 405 & 406
Suntec City Convention & Exhibition Centre
22nd to 23rd October for trade, 10am to 5.30pm (free admission with online registration before 19 October or $20 for onsite registration)
24th October for the public, 11am to 4.30pm ($4 admission fee)

Chew On This: Fans of food technology and machinery should check out the world's smallest gyoza machine which makes 1500 gyozas in an hour, and the world's smallest nigiri sushi that rolls out 1200 pieces of sushi per hour, at Oishii Japan!

Friday, October 09, 2015

French Wine Scholar Batch Two Graduation Dinner

On the back of completing the Certified Specialist of Wine course last year comes this year's graduation from the French Wine Scholar programme! While the former provided a good base of wine knowledge from all major wine producing countries and regions, the FWS focuses on all (vino) things French, of course. Moohehe. 

Asdsag wekafn we ad sffefknasf. Adefqgf sds ege wegj.

Ffnewrn adfa gerwghg assaf wdw, asfkwehf asfkjh awrot n tfnaft a.

Loewr af ewtwerhakf asdsa. T aweajnsfqkerh asdjanskdaht askdjnasnv q gnafs af, rmewtbewtr ansdasf thwerewr.

Kernjkfa I erkjnfda as sadjmane r. Mowera sfasfhj ascnasf awejwkrh. Bbwaf nas, jkhfehqr ncmqwrma amsfmasto nasdsd threjb afnakt jkbwhra.

Ksafnafihtq askdaskhr asdksajr, ektnewtnba aksm t qwrjkhaf r eteerf. Amjfet afjn wramwrb arjakwrh arkajwrt nvmv adas  rkjrhak awr awrkjnatk. Mrbahe akfasf ajfknaksf akwnrka n rvacaksnr.

Camsfbat atmhqkrh afsajfnt Pwarkjahk amfsbstrjbqwjr. Marbkuhrt mabwfbqkrw, akkqhrt a qrtbawrb wqurqw nqemrtbar asmfnbr.

Icantypegibberish since apparently people only see photos nowsahdays. Moohaha.

Anyway, it was a great night celebrating with fellow FWS peeps over disco-ball-and-KTV Teochew dinner at Swatow Seafood Restaurant and...

lots of French wines...which could explain why everyone was exceptionally happy. Moohaha.

Viva la France!

Thank you, Hwee Peng, my wine 师傅 from Wine Craft Marketing for all the guidance and for making wine learning accessible. I am also grateful to e2i for subsidizing part of the course fees and to my fellow FWS batch mates for the many fun memoories over the many bottles uncorked, poured and shared.

I would highly recommend F&B, hospitality, sales and marketing and other relevant trade professionals to take on the FWS programme as part of one's continued wine education and knowledge training.

The learning never stops so onwards with the vinous journey! I have much moore to learn and sip. Santé!

Chew On This: It is recommended to be equipped with a Certified Specialist of Wine or Wines & Spirits Education Trust Level 2 before attempting the FWS.     

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Citibank's $100Gourmet Dinner Featuring Chefs Luke Burgess & Rene Knudsen at Opus Bar & Grill

The local dining scene is again offering moore tentalising gourmet dining options, this time in the form of Citibank's $100Gourmet. On a monthly basis, the programme brings in an award-wining overseas chef who will partner two top restaurants in Singapore to deliver a collaborative 6-course dinner priced at $100++ per person.

Note that this price is only applicable for Citibank cardholders. Non-Citibank cardholders pay $180++ per person, so it's really a no-brainer! Moohehe.

I had the opportunity to experience the Citibank $100Gourmet dinner in August at Opus Bar & Grill at the Hilton Singapore. The visiting overseas chef was Australian Luke Burgess whose restaurant Garagistes was recognised by the World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy as one of the up-and-coming restaurants to shake up the dining scene. Chef Luke is known for his adventurous style of cooking, use of sustainable produce and Asian accents in his dishes.

Joining him in this collaborative dinner was Danish Chef Rene Knudsen of host venue Opus Bar & Grill who boasts over 14 years of culinary experience and has helmed several top restaurants in Denmark.

Dinner kicked off with two different breads, charcoal and sun-dried tomato. Accompanying them was a delicious knob of smoked butter which only ushered in another 2 servings of breads. Moohehe.

The first course of MSC Certified Toothfish (by Rene Knudsen) was a very refined plate with balanced flavours and textures. The scallop was nicely seared and paired with charred leek, crispy fennel, aerated Bouillabaisse and dill. Lovely!

Then came the Broth of Jihua Ham (by Luke Burgess) which was so intriguing I actually forgot to take a photo. LOL. It featured thin strips of Jinhua broth-braised wintermelon wrapped over hock tendon and crunchy "black tiger's paw" mushrooms, all topped with caviar. There was a sense of familiarity underlying the dish yet a rather novel taste combination. Pity the shaved ginger flower overpowered the dish in my opinion.

Third course took the form of Shaved Lily Bulb & Salted Green Radish (by Luke Burgess). Served slightly chilled, this was a refreshing salad that also incorporated Alaskan snow crab and a perky black pepper sauce inspired by Singapore's very own black pepper crabs dish. 

Next to arrive was the entrée of 36 Hours Slow Cooked Pork Belly (by Rene Knudsen) presented with celeriac, apple, sage salad and Chorizo. The pork belly was cooked to prefect softness and could have been eaten using a spoon. Again, it was a good balance of flavours and textures by the chef.

Presenting itself as the sixth course was the Darling Downs Wagyu Rump Cap (by Luke Burgess & Rene Knudsen). Yay, beef! Moohehe. The buttery, fatty wagyu rump cap was firm to the bite and had a sweet flavour complemented by black garlic, fermented Chinese mustard (think dehydrated kiam chye; a clever way to provide salt and savoury characteristics to the beef) and creamed lettuce hearts.

I only wished there were 5 slices of this Queensland beauty on the plate to satisfy my bovine lust! Moohaha.

The meal ended with a dessert of Raspberry Panna Cotta (by Luke Burgess & Rene Knudsen) which was plated with strawberry ice cream, mini macarons, raspberry kisses, berries and micro cress.

A wine pairing option is also available to complement the meal.

At $100++ per person (booked online using any Citibank card), it was pretty valued for money and a great way to savour the cuisine of two chefs at one dinner. Look out for upcoming Citibank $100Gourmet meals this October and November at restaurants such as Pollen, The Disgruntled Chef and Mitzo! I hear special 3-course lunches are also available at some venues.

Thank you Gastro-Sense for hosting moo.

Opus Bar & Grill
Lobby Level
Hilton Singapore
Tel: 6730 3390

Chew On This: See Citibank $100Gourmet for the list of upcoming and past chefs, venues and menus!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Makaning Continues in Ipoh!

After 3 days in Penang, we adjourned to Ipoh via a coach ride which took nearly 4 hours (because of a jam). But I have to say the coach ride reminded me of childhood bus trips to places like Genting and Cameron Highlands, only less spiral a journey.

It was my first time in Ipoh and I was excited. I've only heard that Ipoh water is very special resulting in the girls having fair, porcelain skin, and the kway teow being super smooth. Moohehe. I prepared a large 5-litre container to da bao some back.
Our first meal in Ipoh was a 9pm dinner of Ngah Choi Gei or Beansprouts Chicken recommended by our local contact there who is an Ipoh mei mei and a friend of my travelling mate. A seemingly simple dish of poached chicken and a plate of blanched beansprouts plus an order of innards later, I found myself in love with the dish. The chicken had a pleasant bite without being tough and had a good flavour complemented by the smoky, salty soy sauce. The beansprouts, doused in the same sauce, were a little shorter than the ones in Singapore and were delightfully plump and crunchy. A bowl of piping hot silky hor fun (think thin kway teow) in a light, tasty chicken broth anchors the meal perfectly. Ok, maybe two bowls of hor fun. Moohehe.

Restoran Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiao

Then we had a problem. This being our first taste of Ngah Choi Gei, we had no means of comparison.

So, Ipoh mei mei brought us to another stall, Lou Wong Restoran Ayam Tauge, selling the same iconic dish just about 7 minutes walk away. This version was similar in essence right down to the accompanying green chilli in soy sauce but had a broth that was sweeter (not really in a good sense) probably as a result of a wee bit too mooch rock sugar. The soy sauce for the chicken and beansprouts was also less smoky than the one at Restoran Cowan Street Ayam Tauge & Koitiao.

But the pork balls at Lou Wong were pretty scrumptious. Big, springy and I think flavoured with a bit of dried sole. 

Lou Wong Restoran Ayam Tauge

Speaking of chickens, it is interesting to note that if such an advertisement was made in Singapore, the chicken depicted might likely be bigger and moore plump to suit local taste preferences. Here, the wholesome kampong chicken feel appeals better.   

With two late meals of Ngah Choi Gei in a night, we were satisfied. But then we heard from Ipoh mei mei that there was a hor fun place not too far from where we were which was very popular with the locals. 

And the rest as they say, is a bowl of hor fun on the table. Moohehe. This Hor Fun was intriguing as the noodles were in small bits. Almoost disintegrated into the smooth, flavourful gravy. It made for convenient eating as no chopsticks were required! LOL.

Sorry for the haphazardly taken photo as I was pretty tired and almost ready for bed with all 3 servings of hor fun swimming in my head. Apparently this stall is known to the locals as "tang loi loi" (wait long long) in Cantonese, the main spoken Chinese dialect in Ipoh, because there is always a long wait for the food to arrive. And yet they wait, which should say something.

The next moorning, we met Ipoh mei mei for breakfast at a dim sum place near the Downtown Hotel where we were putting up at. This area has several dim sum eateries but she said Ming Court has better dim sum in her opinion. And it was good. Not super refined but homely and tasty. Particularly liked the fried yam balls stuffed with minced meat. 

I like the dim sum experience at Ming Court with its organised chaos of diners moving around waiting for tables, wait staff shouting and promoting dim sums on their trays and diners chatting away. Strangers share tables too. It is all very Hong Kong-ish. Moohehe.

27 plates later, we were belly happy.

Ming Court Hong Kong Tim Sum

Like Penang, Old Town Ipoh also has several wall murals which are popular with tourists, and are worth visiting while exploring the area and burning off some cow-lories.

At Restoran Thean Chun, it is as if time stood still. The kopitiam's interior has a charmingly old soul kept alive by the constant buzz of hungry diners.

What's not to be missed at Restoran Thean Chun is the Chee Cheong Fun. Opt for the version with a mixture of all three sauces (regular sweet chee cheong fun sauce, curry sauce and mushroom sauce) for a moost intriguing experience. The combination offers a complex mix of sweet, spicy and savoury flavours with a discernible tangy note from Worcestershire sauce. Sesame seeds, fried shallots and bits of minced pork contrasted nicely against the smooth, springy strips of chee cheong fun.

The popiah on the other hand had a punchy chilli paste but like Penang's, I didn't take to its overly soft texture. 

The Beef Soup Hor Fun was nothing to shout about though it is quite comforting. The Caramel Custard (in the background) is a sweet treat to try here. Soft, creamy but a little too sweet for my preference, I can see why it's so popular with diners here. Aku just tak sweet gigi lah. Moohehe.

But for dessert, I mooch rather have a bowl of that Tau Huay from the funnily-named Funny Mountain. The Tau Huay was no joke! I can still remember its warm, beany embrace with the lovely fragrance of soy beans. It was supple and soft but held its shape just barely enough with mild resistance before breaking away tenderly. #tauhuayorgasm. Moohaha. 

We also tried Ipoh Bak Kut Teh. Ipoh mei mei brought us to Tung Lok Hin Restaurant. The soup version was dark and leaned towards the herbal side while the dry version packed a savoury, spicy punch which called for rice.

A highlight of the trip was when Ipoh mei mei casually mentioned that our return Firefly flight will be exciting because the plane is a propeller-operated one. And we didn't even know lah! Firefly, why you no state so on your website? Moohehe. So yes, it was my first experience flying on board such an aircraft.

Firefly is pretty good actually with a 20kg check-in limit and complimentary refreshments likes Oreo, juices and soy bean milk on board. The plane is rather small (its body is smaller than the engine of a 747!) with no middle aisle seats. Just two sections of window seats. Leg room is a bit tight for this tall cow but thankfully the flight was just an hour long.  

Ipoh, your small sleepy town appeal is quite a refreshing break from the big city. Love the many quaint, weathered places and of course, your Ngah Choi Gei. Moohehe.

Chew On This: It seems that people here can't walk! Ok I mean they don't like walking and anywhere more than 10 minutes of walking is crazy to them. LOL.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Penang Makan Trip


Since the corporate trip to Penang last year, I have been wanting to return to this Malaysian city for its good eats. Thankfully, the stars aligned, tickets were booked and soon we found ourselves on board the plane.

Our first meal upon reaching the Penang airport was...KFC. Moohaha! For all of Penang's famed street food, we succumbed to Colonel Sanders' fried chicken, cheesy fries, coleslaw and wrap. We blame it on the low hanging fruit economics principle, and the believe that whatever local delights the airport might have would likely be expensive and adulterated.

So 3 fried chicken parts later, I checked into the room at the modern chic Hotel NEO+ in Georgetown. You can tell my roomie couldn't wait for this photo to be taken. LOL.

A short walk away from the hotel were many eateries and cafes. We settled down for a bowl of Duck Kway Chap from Restoran Kimberly which dished out its nosh from a roadside stall. The bowl had duck meat plus pig's offal and for those vampires who like their blood, duck blood cubes. It was all very hearty, rich and earthy.

We also ordered Char Koay Teow from a neighbouring stall but unfortunately it turned out forgettable- bitter and charred. :(

To remove the bitterness, we ordered up desserts in the familiar form of Cheng Tng and Gingko Nuts.

Probably the star of the entire trip for me was stumbling upon this solid plate of Hor Fun and Bee Hoon. There was so much smoke in one of the lanes that we circumvented it, thinking it was haze or fogging. Moohehe. But thankfully we returned and found this stall which we initially thought to be selling Char Koay Teow. It turned out to be selling mainly Hor Fun and what an incredible one it dished up. Imbued with wok hei and not too starchy, it was a tasty plate which made up sit right up. The expertly cooked slightly thick slices of pig's liver had a nice bite and was not a single bit grainy. Sedap lah!

Dazzled by this surprising find, we didn't take note of the name of the stall or street. Well I guess part of travelling is the delight of discovering things!

Penang is also famous for its wall murals and a handy map depicting the locations of the popular ones makes a great guide for exploring that area of town. Walking around also prepares the stomachs for moore food! Moohehe.

The next morning, we headed just across the hotel for a breakfast of Char Koay Teow and a huggable Big Pau at a very old-looking kopitiam. These run down coffee shops have heaps of character and are a rarity in Singapore. I can totally see my grandparents growing up there. 

One can't come to Penang and not have Penang Laksa. At this popular stall at Joo Hooi Café, the Penang Assam Laksa boasted a rich, flavoursome bowl of tangy, spicy, sweet and savoury flavours. Thin slices of red onions, wedges of pineapple, mint leaves, assam, sardines (or mackerel) and that glorious spoonful of prawn paste added a variety of textures and tastes. The noodles seem a little softer that my previous visit though they were still very slurp-able with the gravy.

Joo Hooi Café is small and cramped but always bustling and crowded. With time-tested furniture and paint peeling off its walls, one can only imagine the many happy meals and memoories had in its premise through the decades.

Besides the laksa, we practically tried every other stall in this kopitiam. Lor Bak! Hae Mee! Popiah! Kueh Pie Tee! Moohehe.

The Char Koay Teow (by now, we realised we actually did 3 of this dish in a day! Moohehe) with duck egg was pretty good but takes a while to arrive due to the queue.

To cap off the epic lunch, we each had a bowl of Chendol from the famoos stall just outside Joo Hooi Café along Lebuh Keng Kwee. It was quite shiok given the heat and humidity. Coconut milk had a touch of saltiness which gave an added dimension to the sweetness. Love that the worm-like Chendol strands were of a more natural-looking green unlike the many Stabilo-worthy versions in Singapore. Moohehe.

Hipster cafes are sprouting up like mad in Penang. This SG hipster was spotted taking a photo of her cuppa against the now all too familiar bare brick walls that seem to be a feature of every hipster café. Moohaha.

From one hipster café, we explored its backyard which led to yet another hipster café with art installations, wall murals and swinging little hipsters. LOL.

Also in the area was an exhibition titled "Believe in What You Feel" by Taiwanese artist Wang Te-Yu. We walked into a white billowy sheet and probably experienced what it moost have been for Sun Wukong and the celestial beings walking on clouds every day, and felt our way into large onion-shaped structures only to exit macchiam being born. Moohaha. And like every kid there, we left our own little piece of art inspired by our whole experience at the exhibition.

Oh back to the topic of cafes, it seems like coffee addiction is strong in this town. :p

The next stop was at this kopitiam recommended by Xiao Pei Pei. Toh Soon Café is a hole in the wall place with a back alley feel. Its toasted bread with peanut butter and kaya provide warm fluffy comfort. Pair them with an iced coffee which was strong enough to send moo to caffeine heaven. Or was it sugar heaven. Aiyah, it was a happy place lah. Not sure if my travelling mates were happy at my sudden burst of extreme lameness and energy though!

One random Gui Ling Gao stop (because it was raining) and don't know how many other countless stops later, we arrived at Tai Tong Restaurant for dim sum. It was all very rustic, old school appeal.

Being just around the Mid Autumn Festival, the ceiling was lined with many lanterns. These lanterns which require a candle to be placed inside them reminded me of my childhood when lanterns>mooncakes. Moohehe. 

We visited the Clans Jetty and enjoyed the sea breeze, and Gurney for some shopping and makan (lots of options at the open-air food street but nothing really stood out from what we tried. Ok, maybe except the wanton mee). Oh and foot massages were pretty well-priced so we had daily foot massages! With this kind of eating and daily massages, I need to only drink and listen to Mozart to become fine-marbled wagyu. Moohehe.

Penang, till we meet again!

Chew On This: Penang is huge and we only managed to explore Georgetown and a little bit of Gurney Drive. There are also fruit farms, beaches and many more places in Penang to explore!