Friday, January 29, 2016

Feast on Masterchef Ho Tien Tsai's Chinese New Year Delights at Tien Court

Moore Yu Sheng! Moohehe. #HuatnessIsInTheAir

Boasting a traditional feel, the Prosperity Salmon Yu Sheng ($48) had the usual julienned vegetables, pickled ginger, pok chui crackers, plum sauce and salmon. Add on an additional plate of swordfish ($12.80) so year year got moore fish! Moohehe. Overall, this Yu Sheng was more robust in terms of flavour and also a tad sweeter.

Indulge in a comforting bowl of Double-boiled Superior Shark's Fin in Shark's Cartilage Soup ($58). I like the slightly creamy richness of the soup though the shark's fin had a gumminess that didn't quite appeal to me. But I still fin-nished it lah. Moohehe.

Don't waste food and let the animal die in vain. Not that I am advocating the consumption of shark's fin. Personally, I don't order it at restaurants; also feel that it hardly has any inherent flavour worth shelling out mooney for. I rather eat steak but that's a different story for another time. :p

Next up, the Sautéed Lobster with Foie Gras ($18.80 per 100g) arrived. The crustacean tasted fresh and was cooked perfectly resulting in a succulent bite. I didn't detect any of the foie gras flavour in the sauce though.  

Tien Court's Pen Cai ($488 for large; available for takeaway) is a moost order! Boasting layers of flavours, this treasure pot contained the who's who of the Pen Cai VIP list. Moohehe. Expect delicacies like abalone, fish maw, duck's web, sea cucumber, black moss, roast pork, prawns, dried oysters, mushrooms, conpoy, Tianjin cabbage and yummy dace balls.     

Dive into a carbs bomb with the Steamed Glutinous Rice with Preserved Meat in Lotus Leaf ($60.80 for large; Chinese New Year takeaway menu). The rice had a lovely flavour from the preserved meats and lotus leaf.

The dessert of Chilled Snow Pear with Red Wine (available as part of some Chinese New Year set menus) was a fusion take of the classic western dessert but with the use of the Chinese snow pear. Coated with a glossy layer of red wine syrup, the chilled pear was quite refreshing.

In the background is the Nian Gao ($18.80 from the Chinese New Year takeaway menu). Eat already Step Step High Rise. Moohehe.

Eat, live long and prosper.

Thank you, Copthorne King's for hosting me.

Level 2
Copthorne King's
403 Havelock Road
Tel: 6318 3193

Chew On This: Those who watch TV would find Tien Court's Masterchef Ho Tien Tsai a familiar face as he has appeared on several cooking variety shows.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Xin Cuisine's Chinese New Year Specialties

Xin Cuisine at the Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium serves up festive specialties in celebration of the Lunar New Year of the Monkey. Usher in a prosperous new year with the Yusheng with Salmon, Bamboo Clam and Champagne Dressing ($148 for large) from the lunar new year a la carte menu. Bite into lots of thinly shredded veggies, springy bamboo clams and salmon doused with a well-balanced dressing which offered sweet and tangy notes. 

For lunch, specially made festive Dim Sum are also available. My favourite was the moreish Deep-fried Mussel Stuffed with Shrimp Paste. I also enjoyed the delicate and sweet Steamed Xiao Long Bao with Crab Meat though the Steamed Seafood Dumpling with Cordyceps seemed to be on the stodgy side without much discernible cordyceps flavour. Lastly, the Pan-fried Yam and Pumpkin Cake smeared with a smidgen of chilli sauce and topped with fried silver fish should please most palates. All the above are $12 for 3 pieces and only available during lunch except the latter which retails at $48 and is for takeaways.  

My personal star dish of the evening was this- Xin's Traditional Pen Cai ($368 for 10 persons) available for both a la carte dine-in orders and takeaways. Its bevy of seafood, like prawns, dried oysters and abalones, together with meats such as roast pork and roast duck braised in a delicious sauce sang a beautiful tune together. This indulgent pot makes for a wonderful meal with hopes of abundance for the new year. I am quite sure I dreamt of this Pen Cai later that night. Moohehe. 

Never mind that no one says "Year Year Got Crab". Moohaha. Do yourself a favour and order the Braised Vermicelli with Crab, Ginger and Onion (market price). The sweetness of the crab and the classic 姜葱 combination of ginger and spring onions made for a delectable dish. One-day advance order is required.

It is unfortunate that sometimes all it takes is for one small thing to ruin a good dish. There was an unpleasant taste of rancid oil that lingered after I took a few bites of the Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Preserved Meat ($48 for large). Needless to say, it was disappointing. :(

End off dinner with Xin's Traditional Nian Gao ($10 for 3 pieces) which spotted a crisp batter and delightfully chewy interior. Those who enjoy double-boiled snow pear can also opt for the Double-boiled Snow Pear with Osmanthus and Snow Fungus ($15 per person).
Lunar New Year specialties are available at Xin Cuisine from 7 to 22 February 2015. More details here.
Thank you Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium for the invitation.

Xin Cuisine
Level 4
Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium
Tel: 6731 7173

Chew On This: Feast with family, friends or even colleagues and business associates at Xin Cuisine's cosy private rooms or ballroom which can host up to 440 guests!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Usher in the Lunar New Year with Fine Cantonese Delights at Yan Ting

Yan Ting's Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon ($68 for medium; $98 for large) offers a classy traditional feel without fancy ice/food carvings nor gimmicky ingredients. Instead, small mounds of fruits such as pomelo, snow pear, papaya, peach and honeydew are presented alongside the usual ginger and carrot components. I think this Yu Sheng is all about texture as the different ingredients, some perfectly sliced into batons while others are shredded or julienned, come together in a textural fruity medley. 

In a twist to a Cantonese classic, Executive Chef Tony Wun Shun Kong's Buddha Jumps Over the Wall ($128 per person) presents itself as a braised dish instead of as a soup. I found it pretty similar to Poon Choy in appeal with a rich glossy gravy blanketing delicacies like dried oyster, sea cucumber, fish maw and abalone. 

The next dish of Braised Pig's Trotters with Fermented Beancurd ($32) brought a hush to the table. Surely a sign of a delicious-until-can't-talk dish. Moohehe. The pig's trotters was flavoursome and invitingly soft.    

The Fried Prawns with Golden Garlic ($38) featured springy crystal prawns coated with fragrant fried garlic bits. Prawns are a mooch feted addition to any Chinese New Year dining table because of their joyous-sounding Cantonese name- har (sounds like laughter). So feast on some prawns for a happy year ahead! Mooharhar.     

Spotting a glistening skin over juicy flesh, the Crispy Roasted Chicken ($36 for 1/2 chicken; $68 for whole chicken) nearly unleashed my inner caveman who wanted to simply grab each piece of chicken and eat using bare hands. Even at the address of joyous reunions. But thankfully table manners and dainty chopstick skills prevailed. Moohehe.

Probably my biggest disappointment was the Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Wind-dried Sausages ($26). While it sounded promising on paper, the dish was rather muted in flavour.

The Fragrant Homemade Almond Tea served with Crispy Glutinous Rice Cake brought a soothing end to the meal with a certain homemade quality about them.  
Yan Ting's Lunar New Year specials are available from 11 January to 22 February. Indulge in a la carte options, set menus (including a vegetarian one) and gourmet takeaways, including the Prosperity Yu Sheng with Norwegian Salmon and Chinese New Year Pun Choy.
Thank you, The St. Regis Singapore for the invitation. 
Level 1U
The St. Regis Singapore
Tel: 6506 6887
Opens: Daily 12pm to 3pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Chew On This: Lunar New Year gift hampers containing goodies like Yan Ting's Signature XO Sauce, Deep Fried Cashew Nuts and top-grade Pu Er Tea are also available!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Old School Chicken Rice & Steamboat at Yet Con

My old dear friend Hushie is leaving on yet another exciting long trip. But before she satisfies her wanderlust, we sorted out the chicken rice lust. Moohehe. We returned to Yet Con for some old school chicken rice and steamboat in a place filled with character and old Singapore soul.
The Chicken Rice featured a chicken that had a good bite and flavour without the heavy lashings of soy sauce and sesame oil, a piquant chilli sauce with minced ginger, super thick dark soy sauce and a chicken-and-fried-shallot-oil perfumed rice. It was pretty satisfying.
For the steamboat, we requested for no beef as a friend really likes cows and does not eat them. Moohehe. An assorted platter of prawns, sotong, pork, pig's liver, fishballs, vegetables and an egg provided variety and the ingredients which went into the rather bland steamboat broth (I suspect MSG).    
The disappointment on the table was the Roast Pork. We settled for it as the Hainanese Pork Chop was sold out. The pieces of roast pork turned out dry and tough. The perky bits of preserved vegetables and dark soy sauce that accompanied it could not resuscitate the dish. 

I hope Yet Con survives and thrives, and never changes its look or food. Love its old school feel of a different bygone era of Singapore.

Have a good trip, Hushie and Jon! And see you guys when you get back. Moojong time! :D

Yet Con
25 Purvis Street
Opens: 10am to 10pm

Chew On This: The barley drink served here is made from a cordial. Not home-brewed. Have to give this heads up here after friends at the table said why I no tell them earlier. LOL.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Taste of Hawaii at Aloha Poke

Say aloha or hello to poke (pronounced poh-kay)! This Hawaiian staple comprising of raw fish and greens offers the healthy lushness of a salad and the refreshing taste of raw marinated fish.

Aloha Poke, Singapore's first poke bar, opened about three months ago along Amoy Street. Helming its kitchen is Chef Michael Yonathan who was formerly Chef de Cuisine at the Capella Singapore and one of the top 5 finalists of the first season of Hell's Kitchen Indonesia. Chef Michael also happens to be my fellow RSM server at New Creation Church! Moohehe.

Over at Aloha Poke, pick from three sizes- Lil' Swell ($11.90 for 75g of poke), Standard Nalu ($15.90 for 150g of poke) and Big Kahuna ($19.90 for 225g of poke), depending on how much raw fish one wants. Speaking of raw fish, tuna and salmon are both available and come marinated in a nutty, savoury Original Sauce. For moore kick, there is also the Spicy Sauce and Wasabi Mayo. Finally, choose add-ons such as almonds, flying fish roe, chia seeds, edamame, pomegranate etc.

From what I tasted, both raw fish were pretty fresh with the tuna having a meatier texture while the salmon offered a slightly silkier, creamy experience. The sauces, specially concocted by Chef Michael, were tasty, perky and complemented the raw fish plus veggies nicely. 

Oh and before I forget, there is also a choice of white or brown rice to line the bottom of the poke bowl... and the stomach. That's good news for carbs monsters like me. Moohehe!

Those who enjoy liquid carbs can opt for Hawaiian craft beers like this Kona Castaway Indian Pale Ale. Have a poke bowl with a bottle of this for lunch and happy hour just seem that mooch closer. Moohehe. 

Thanks to Aloha Poke for the invitation.

92 Amoy Street
Tel: 6221 6565
Open: Monday to Saturday 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5pm till late  
Closed: Sunday
Chew On This: Thirsty folks! Aloha Poke has just opened a Tiki bar on its premise offering Hawaiian inspired dramatic Tiki cocktails (priced at $18 each) featuring tropical liqueurs, alongside Tiki bites.     

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Indulge in a Luxurious Chinese New Year Feast at Man Fu Yuan

Probably the best Chinese New Year meal I have had in recent times was at Man Fu Yuan, the InterContinental Singapore's Chinese restaurant, where an epic line up of delectable delicacies by Executive Chinese Chef Kwan Yiu Kan ushers in the lunar new year with decadent aplomb. The meal started off with the traditional tossing of the quintessential raw fish salad, Yu Sheng.  
Being the lunar year of the monkey, their new Yu Sheng this year is the Yellowtail Yusheng with Crispy Monkey Head Mushrooms, Prosperity Flakes and Peach Dressing ($118). Think of the usual Yu Sheng components with the addition of monkey head mushrooms, which provided some crunch, and a refreshing peach coulis dressing that was frozen using liquid nitrogen before being poured onto the Yu Sheng. Finally, honey gold cornflakes were scattered atop the dish adding an auspicious golden touch.     
As an appetiser, a duo of sashimi was served- Australian Lobster and Geoduck Sashimi with Freshly Grated Wasabi and Bonito Shoyu. I loved the sweet, springy flesh of the lobster. On the other hand, the geoduck was a little fishy for my personal liking. 

Mooving on, the new dish of Double-boiled Sakura Chicken Soup with Bird's Nest, Fish Maw, Abalone and Black Truffles ($408, serves 5) rocked. In the capable hands of a Cantonese soup master, the rich flavours of the ingredients are gently coaxed out. And this 1.5-hour-double-boiled soup is a very good example. Clean tasting with layers of flavours, this won my heart (and stomachs).  
Moore abalone! The Braised Australian Green Lip Abalone and Chinese Mushrooms with Spiky Sea Cucumber and Seasonal Vegetables ($128 per person) was a familiar dish from last year. Boasting a lovely braised flavour, the tender abalone and spiky sea cucumber (think Darth Maul only less evil and more delicious. Moohehe) came doused in a slightly sticky sauce that provided a rich mouthfeel.     

A one-pot dish brimming with abundance, the Man Fu Yuan Deluxe Treasures Pot ($388) contained over 18 prized ingredients including whole baby abalones, spiky sea cucumber, Canadian lobster, fish maw, roasted duck, quail, flower mushrooms, pig's trotter, prawns, scallops. goose web and dried oyster! Braised for over 12 hours, this dish offered warmth and soul with its lovely amalgamation of flavours. Spoon the ingredients and that gravy over piping hot rice for an indulgently comforting meal. 
Bring home this collectible claypot with your order of Poon Choy. Boasting a different design each year, this year's edition features blossoms of Spring and the agile monkey alongside Man Fu Yuan's signature butterfly motifs. 

With the next dish of Braised South African Abalone and Chicken in Casserole ($198) appearing on the table, it almoost seemed like it's the year of the abalone. Moohehe. This comforting dish was also beckoned for a nice big bowl of rice.
The Steamed Alaskan King Crab in Chinese Rice Wine with Chicken Oil and Crispy Pork Lard is a swoon-worthy twist of a Cantonese classic. It featured the sweet flesh of Alaskan king crabs complemented with silky steamed eggs and a deadly combination of chicken oil and pork lard for that richness in flavour and texture that only fat can give. Overall, the dish was very light, fresh and balanced with a luxurious feel. Me love this deep deep! Moohehe.

Just when I had confessed my undying love for the king crab, this stunning Barbecued Whole Suckling Pig with Wok-fried Glutinous Rice and Goose Liver Sausage ($388) appeared and tested that love. With its charcoal-roasted bronzed tan, crisp skin and tender meat, it was one hell heaven of a suckling pig. But wait. There's moore! Underneath the piggy was the moost delicious glutinous rice, imbued with wok hei and the precious fragrant oils of goose liver sausages. The later added wonderfully sweet, floral and earthy notes. Two hooves up! Moohehe.

To round off the meal on a luxurious note, opt for the Double-boiled Superior Bird’s Nest with Julienned Young Coconut ($68). Warm, rich and flavourful, redolent of the natural fragrance of coconut, this dessert will cast the table in silent bliss.  

Like an oriental petit fours, we had a sampling of several sweet treats- a moreish Golden Egg Custard Pastry ($38 per takeaway bottle), the Scented Osmanthus Nian Gao with Shandong Premium Red Dates ($38; love the red dates notes!) and the Cream of Almond with Glutinous Rice Dumpling ($8 per person).
Chinese New Year specialties are available from 18 January to 22 February.
Thank you InterContinental Singapore for the invitation.

Man Fu Yuan
Level 2
InterContinental Singapore
Tel: 6820 8519/20

Chew On This: Enjoy 20% off festive takeaways when purchases are made online or with your Citibank credit or debit card at Tea Hut (located at the hotel entrance from Bugis Junction until 5 February, 11am to 8pm).

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Volunteering at Willing Hearts

During my current sabbatical, one of the things I think about is how I can contribute to society in a meaningful way. There are many around us who could do with some help and while there is perfectly nothing wrong with dreamy ideas of social entrepreneurship and flashy fund-raising galas, I think volunteering goes a long way. Being present to help with whatever immediate needs is awfully meaningful.
I decided on volunteering at Willing Hearts, a secular, non-profit charity organisation that provides meals for the less privileged in Singapore. Doing good through food, my personal interest, and playing a role in providing a basic necessity are particularly satisfying. 
Willing Hearts accepts volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. They operate their Eunos soup kitchen daily and encourage volunteers to help out any time especially during their peak hours from 4am to 10am. Duties could include washing of vegetables, cutting and preparing ingredients, opening canned food products, cleaning the area, packing food, delivering food etc.
On my first visit, I had anticipated kitchen duties given my rudimentary masak-masak ability but was tasked to help with lining plastic bags with newspapers, and delivering food to 4 locations. This reminded me that it was about the charity organisation and its needs, not mine and what I wanted to do for them. Driving is not my forte but using that skill, petrol, time and 4G data (for GPS) to successfully deliver lunch to 182 people that morning felt very good inside.      

I would highly recommend volunteering at Willing Hearts and making a tangible difference in the lives of those who might not even be able to put food on the table. Hours are flexible and you can come and go off at any time. Oh and there is also no rigid weekly/monthly schedule to keep to so it really allows you to volunteer when you can. All one needs, is a willing heart.

Sign up here and do something meaningful with your time! The frequency tab on the registration page is not cast in stone. :)

Willing Hearts
11 Jalan Ubi Blk 6, #01-51
Kembangan – Chai Chee Community Hub

Chew On This: They also do need private and corporate donations, volunteers to help with IT stuff, and promoting their cause and services. Read the FAQs for moore infomation.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

New Year's Eve Countdown with The League

The League marked NYE together as per our yearly tradition and though several members were unable to make it, it was still a fun night. Our potluck dinner featured an eclectic line up of baked prawns, sambal kang kong, satay, 1kg of Korean-style bugolgi pork, grilled salmon with French beans, bacon and anchovies pasta, and a longan and dragon fruit dessert.
A yearly thing we do at NYE party is a gift exchange played snatch Santa style. The catch is each gift cannot be moore than $2! Moohehe.   

We paused our game of poker to pop this bottle of Prosecco, ringing in 2016 with a cheers. The De Stefani Prosecco 2014 Extra Dry offered plenty of fresh apples and pears with a balanced touch of sweetness. 2015 has been a challenging year for me but it also brought about rest, growth and mooch to contemplate about. I am grateful for many things and in 2016, I am continuing to trust Jesus for direction, favour and wisdom. :)

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2016 be an awesome one ahead.

Wefie & photo of presents thanks to Hushie.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Uma Uma Opens New Izakaya-Ramenya Concept at Millenia Walk

Fans of Uma Uma Ramen at The Forum now have a new destination in town with the opening of Uma Uma at Millenia Walk. Besides its signature Hakata-styled ramen, the new eatery also offers Yakitori, Kushikatsu, and drinks and cocktails by sister company, Horse's Mouth. 

From the Yakitori section, I found the Butabara ($2), grilled pieces of pork belly, unfortunately tough and lacking in flavour. Thankfully the Chicken Skin ($2) was crispy and moreish. Sin on a stick. Moohehe. 
The Chicken Thigh ($2) were succulent nuggets of chicken thigh but it was anaemic and bland. I wished there was moore of that grilled, smoky flavour and the benefit of having been in a tasty marinate or perhaps sprinkled with moore salt. 
Mooving on to the Kushikatsu segment, there was a small variety of meat, seafood and vegetables dipped into a batter before being coated with panko and deep fried. We tried the Pork Loin ($4), Prawn ($2), Scallops ($5). While the meat and seafood were tender, I didn't quite enjoy their stodgy fried outer coat.    

There are also some small bites to ease hunger pangs and accompany a drink or two. The Eihire ($10), a dish of stingray fins, was delightfully chewy with a savoury-sweet, smoky allure. No sambal here lah but dab a little Kewpie mayo dusted with shichimi togarashi for a creamy, mildly spicy touch.

Not many vegetable dishes require them to be fried. So other than Ampang Yong Tau Foo and Tempura, check out these Mecabbage ($10). Mini globes of Brussels sprouts deep fried and doused with a tasty sesame sauce. The frying made some of the leaves crisp while other parts remained crunchy, giving this dish texture. Someone should serve these alongside roast turkey for Christmas! Moohehe. 

Onto ramen! The Uma Uma Ramen ($14) is a Hataka-style one with thin egg noodles in a pork bone broth. The chasiu would please those who like them a little on the fatty (and tasty) side.

For moore punch, I recommend going for the Bushi Tonkotsu Ramen ($16). This soup has the umami blast from bonito and a good soy sauce, and was thicker and moore intense. Pickled ginger and a slice of lime helped to cut through the richness nicely. 

For something different, try the Mazesoba ($14; additional $2 for chasiu bits). This dry-style ramen comes doused with a creamy sesame sauce, runny egg yolk, bamboo shoots, spring onions and leek. Each mouthful was a refreshing combination of flavours and textures. The additional chasiu bits added a nice smoky dimension. This Mazesoba was specially created for Uma Uma Singapore but was so well received that it is also made available at Uma Uma Japan!

I like the idea of this small-ish bowl of Chasiu Don ($5) as an anchor after a bowl of ramen as erm... I need my rice lah. Moohehe. The runny golden hues of the egg yolk combined with the smoky, savoury charsiu bits for the perfect topping over rice. 

Perfect with the nibble-friendly Yakitori and Kushikatsu sticks or after a satisfying bowl of ramen are drinks! With the folks from the Horse's Mouth behind the cocktails here, this eatery is no plain ramen joint. Order up the Negroni ($18; $14 during Happy Hour), a classic concoction of gin, vermouth and Campari, that offers complex flavours and nuances which both stimulate the appetite and work as a digestif. Or for something lighter, go for the Ume no Yado Yuzu ($16; $14 during Happy Hour). This tall cocktail made with yuzu-infused sake is refreshing, aromatic and mildly sweet.   
Do note that Yakitori, Kushikatsu and cocktails are only available from 5.30pm. Cocktails are unavailable on Sundays.
Thank you, Uma Uma and Zairyo PR for hosting moo.

Millenia Walk
Tel: 6837 0827
Opens: Monday to Saturday (11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to midnight)
            Sunday (11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm) 
Chew On This: Happy Hour runs daily from 5.30pm to 8pm. Enjoy $8 Asahi pint and $14 cocktails!