Monday, February 29, 2016

Wining & Dining at Verre Modern Bistro & Wine Bar

Verre, the French word for 'glass', is a former wine bar that has re-launched as Verre Modern Bistro & Wine Bar, boasting a full-fledged restaurant dining experience in a sleek 70-year-old warehouse space that incorporates the thematic use of glass in its design. Headed by Consultant Chef Masashi Horiuchi, a Japanese native with over 20 years of experience at Michelin restaurants across Europe, the kitchen dishes out refined plates of contemporary French cuisine crafted to match the establishment's impressive wine list.
To start the meal, opt for the creamy and rich Chicken Liver Parfait ($24) which comes with a thin layer of mandarin orange accented jelly. This was paired with a dry, citrusy Paringa Estate Riesling 2012 ($19.50/glass) which cleansed the palate nicely with its acidity.
An absolute moost-try here is my personal favourite Half Lobster Salad ($38) featuring succulent Maine lobster cooked in court-bouillon before being laid atop a bed of crisp mixed greens and luscious guacamole. This stunning appetiser begged for a Chardonnay. And got one! Moohehe. A sip of Sticks Chardonnay 2013 ($18/glass) from Australia's Yarra Valley offered peach and lemon notes with a good body of freshness which did not overpower the lobster.
And while waiting for the main course, why not keep any itchy mouths satisfied with the Tarte Flambe Forest ($22)? Moohehe. This pseudo-pizza creation had a nice savoury appeal with toppings like button mushrooms, gruyere cheese and caramelised onions. 
To hold its hand, the perfumed Marcel Deiss Gewurtraminer 2012 ($18/glass), a bio dynamic white from Alsace (same region where tarte flambé originates), offered exotic lychee and spice aromas and a pure, concentrated sip.
The next wine to appear in the glass was a fresh and moderately rich Italian Massalino Dolcetto D Alba 2013 ($18). Presented alongside it was the Black Garlic Soup ($19), a flavoursome concoction of black garlic, garlic and onions cooked in white wine and quality chicken stock. It was comfortingly bold with a slight tinge of sweetness from the black garlic which actually went nicely with the bit of bitterness in the wine. I felt the soup's robust structure matched that of the wine although personally I preferred it with the Gerwurztraminer which seemed to bring out a floral side from the pairing.
For a wonderful medley of gentle textures on one plate, try the Pan-Seared Scallop with Sweet Corn ($38). Imagine soft scallops with a seared crust topped with kombu with truffle oil and surrounded with a puree of Hokkaido corn (Chef Masashi does an excellent corn soup by the way!), parmesan tuille and foam. Take a sip of the Latour Giraud Meursault 1er cru Boucheres 2011 ($38/glass), a premiere cru Chardonnay from the sub-region of Burgundy's Cote de Beaune. This wine has a nice structure with a good clean finish to elevate the scallops.   
Mooving on to meatier stuff, the Suckling Pig ($42) comes not only with a piece of slow-roasted suckling pig but also tender pork confit. Double oink oink! Moohehe. Spices used in the cooking of the pork duo married nicely with the approachable Grand Village Bordeaux 2012 ($18/glass), which has decent fruit.
Fans of the cow or rather dead cow (moohehe), can indulge in the Fillet of Wagyu Beef ($62). A thick cut of Australian wagyu tenderloin gets adorned with crispy garlic bread crumbs, and accompanied by truffle-spiked fries and a scrumptious forest ketchup, which is made in-house. Stepping up to this rich meaty steak is the equally big Italian Massolino Barolo 2010 ($32/glass). Its tannins meld nicely with the steak's protein while its bouquet of red fruit, floral and spices matched the different components of the dish. Pretty classic!   
By the time desserts arrived, I was hoping the restaurant would have a special wheel burrow service to moove a cow bursting at its tripes. But alas. Moohehe. Anyway, thankfully desserts were a refreshing affair.
The Jasmine Tea Verrine ($16; foreground in the above photo) was a delightful assembly of jasmine tea granite, calamansi jelly, marmite crumble and milk sherbert. Accompanying it was the Carmes de Rieussec Sauternes 2011 ($22)- rich, honeyed notes with figs and nuts, offering a luscious mouthfeel. I thought that the Sauternes was a tad heavy for this dessert though.    
The next dessert of Apple Mille-Feuille ($16; middle in the above photo) should please Steve Jobs. There were batons of green apple, apple sorbet, apple compote and caramelised apple. Apple! Apple! Apple! Moohehe. The fresh and sweet Caprili Moscadello Di Montalcino DOC ($15/glass) would be ideal.
But if one prefers to end the meal with a small dessert (and that is not a bad idea after a big, full meal) perhaps with coffee or tea, the classic Canele ($4) works.  
Overall, I find the food here delectable with a refined touch and attention to details. Food and wine preferences are personal and subjective but Verre Modern Bistro & Wine Bar's offerings are a pretty good place to start discovering your own.    
Thank you Verre Modern Bistro & Wine Bar and Gastro-Sense for the invitation.
8 Rodyk Street
Tel: 6509 1917
Opens: Monday to Thursday, 4pm to 12 midnight
            Friday and Saturday, 4pm to 1am
            Sunday, 4pm to 11pm
Chew On This: Sip from 30 wines available by the glass! Using Coravin, which enables wines to be extracted from the bottle without removing the cork, wines are kept fresh longer.   

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tokyo's Number 1 Chicken Ramen Chain Menya Takeichi Hits Singapore

Ramen fans have yet moore options with Menya Takeichi's opening in Singapore. The brand has 40 ramen outlets in Japan! With a no pork, no lard policy, Menya Takeichi serves up ramen with 3 chicken toppings in a chicken soup made from boiling whole chickens and chook feet over 10 hours. The slices of chicken thigh spotted a slightly grilled skin and a meaty texture while the chicken breast was incredibly tender (like kena sous vide. moohehe). Not to be outshone were the small balls of chicken meat which were tasty and juicy.

The Special Ramen ($15.50) is essentially the "standard chicken soup" option without any added flavouring. Purists and those who prefer cleaner flavours might like this one. For something with moore depth, try the Special Rich Shoyu Ramen ($16.50).

But my personal favourite turned out to be the Spicy Tsukemen ($17.50). While the ingredients were the same, the noodles for this dry-style ramen was thicker, a little flat and had a lovely QQ bite. Dip them into the spicy chicken soup for a delicious slurp. The flavours in the spicy soup reminded me of an oddly appealing combination of mee siam, mee rebus and prawn noodles. Moohehe.

Besides chicken ramen, there are other chicken dishes here too. Pok pok pok.

I wasn't too impressed with the Fried Chicken with Tartar Sauce ($8). The crust was a tad thick and hard although the creamy tangy tartar sauce draped over it was tasty. 

The Chicken Ball Rice ($7) featured the same scrumptious chicken balls as the ramen and accompanied by a beautiful onsen egg, lettuce and spring onions, it made for a good eat.

In the background, nuggets of tender chicken pieces coated in tempura batter and a sticky savoury glaze made the Chicken Tempura Rice ($8) somewhat comforting though it was nothing to shout about. 

For an alternative form of chicken, specifically the pre-chicken stage (moohehe), try the Potato Salad with Nikumiso ($7) which comes topped with an onsen egg that breaks to create what I consider to be probably nature's best au natural sauce. For something moore refreshing, go for the Potato Salad with Mentaiko ($8). Served nicely chilled, the spuds were creamy and went well with the salty and slightly spicy mentaiko.   

Thank you Menya Takeichi and Brand Cellar for the invitation.

Menya Takeichi
#03-313 (part of the Eat at Seven cluster and located at the former Sky Garden)
Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6235 3386

Chew On This:
They apparently made the ramen soup similar to their version in Japan so a flask of clear soup is provided on the table for those who wish to tone down the intensity. Having said that, none of the diners at my table used this. In fact, I find the ramen soup here surprisingly less intense and oily as I had expected. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Recipe: Bee Hoon Soup

It might surprise many that this cow actually eats and enjoys cheng cheng dishes (lighter-flavoured food). In between that plate of char kway teow and that slab of ribeye steak, I try to eat lighter and cleaner because #mooderation. Moohehe.
Here's a simple recipe for Bee Hoon Soup, one of the cheng cheng dishes I like to eat at home. It's pretty versatile and great for using whatever is in the fridge.
I used 新竹米粉, which we bought from Taiwan, in the above photo. It has a very nice firm and substantial texture.  
- Handful of ikan billis
- Two cloves of garlic (gently smashed with the blade of a knife)
- One teaspoon of cooking oil
- Water (a large bowl depending on how much soup you want)
- Leafy vegetables
- Meat and/or seafood
- Tofu, eggs, mushrooms etc 
- Bee Hoon (rehydrate in water)
- Soy sauce, sesame oil, Hua Diao wine and ground white pepper 

- Heat up cooking oil in a pot
- Add in garlic and ikan billis and stir fry for a minute or two until fragrant
- Pour in water and boil for about 20-30 minutes after which strain the garlic and ikan billis if you like
- Add in meat and tofu, and once about 70% cooked, throw in the drained bee hoon, seafood and leafy vegetables and mushrooms which should cook in a few minutes
- Mix in soy sauce, sesame oil, Hua Diao wine and ground white pepper to taste just before serving

Chew On This: Try brown rice bee hoon for a healthier option! I find it quite similar to the usual bee hoon with a bit moore springy bite, and it's not hard or unpleasant to eat.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

RSM Usher CNY Team Lunch at Chin Huat Live Seafood

Huat ah! I'm thankful for yet another enjoyable CNY meal. This one was at Chin Huat Live Seafood with the usher team. Lunch started with a $13.9m early-bird draw followed by Yu Sheng. This Yu Sheng featured baby abalones instead of fish slices but I still prefer the latter because Year Year Got Fish. Moohehe. 
Please pardon the loosely named dishes and the omission of prices as the food was pre-ordered by the organisers. We just went and jiak ah! :D

The Steamed Prawns with Minced Garlic and Tung Hoon turned out to be my favourite dish of the meal. Steamed perfectly, the prawns were sweet and succulent. The minced garlic was fragrant and so tasty it made some of us order white rice. LOL.

The Roast Chicken accompanied by spiced salt and pepper was tasty enough for it to be wiped out. Everyone had their favourite part of the chicken. Even its behind!

Simple-looking, the Braised Tofu was scrumptious with a savoury brown sauce, crunchy blanched greens and slices of black mushrooms and carrots. Spoon over rice for best results.

Then next arrived the Braised Pork with its meaty, marbled chunks sitting in a pool of flavoursome gravy that was robust and redolent of the sweetness from fermented soy bean curd or rice lees. Also spoon over rice to make the moost of the yummy gravy. Moohehe.

Yes, so that Year Year Still Got Fish, we had the Fried Soon Hock. Love the crisp fish doused with light soy sauce. A classic dish that I think will appear on the tables of generations to come.

Fulfilling the obligatory carbs dish at the end of a Chinese banquet-style meal was the Lotus Leaf Rice which turned out studded with bits of mushrooms and lup cheong.

The Orh Nee, one of my favourite desserts, was missing lard and gingko nuts, and was also a tad too sweet for me but perhaps it was to mark a sweet year ahead. Moohehe.

Chin Huat Live Seafood
Blk 105 Clementi St 12 (Sunset Way)
Tel: 6775 7348

Chew On This: Remember those BBQ steamboat buffet days at Marina South? Chin Huat was one of the pioneers there. Relive those days today with their BBQ steamboat buffet boasting over 100 items at their Thomson road restaurant.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Antoinette Launches the Salted Egg Lava Croissant

Moove aside truffle (and truffle-flavoured food). It seems the next trendy thing now is salted egg yolk. Not too long ago, salted duck eggs were usually eaten with plain porridge and also during the Mid Autumn Festival when stuffed into mooncakes. Then it became a favourite at dim sum eateries with Liu Sha Bao, and a popular staple on any cza char menu with ingredients like prawns, sotong and chicken coated with salted egg yolk sauce. Today, a new wave of salted egg yolk madness breaks into the Singapore dining scene with cafes and bakeries churning out croissants filled with the golden liquid. 
I awoke pretty early one Monday moorning to break my salted egg yolk croissant virginity and try to understand the craze. Chef Pang, one of Singapore's top pastry chefs, had created his version at Antoinette. His Salted Egg Lava Croissant ($6.50) made with French butter was a flaky delight that hid a core of gently oozy salted egg lava. The experience was a rather novel one for me. I like the slightly gritty texture of the salted egg lava and its rich melange of savoury and sweet flavours.
This cow-leries bomb might be a bit heavy so share this with someone or have the whole thing to yourself like I did, accompanied with a big cup of hot tea. After that, it is best to have a nap. Moohehe.  

The Salted Egg Lava Croissant is available daily in limited quantities from 11am at Antoinette Penhas Road and from 1pm at its other two outlets, while stocks last.

Now let's see if McDonald's will do a Hum Dan Shaker Fries. LOL.

Thank you Antoinette and Gastro-Sense for the invitation.

30 Penhas Road  (other outlets at Mandarin Gallery & Sofitel SoSingapore)
Tel: 6293 3121

Chew On This: Chef Pang shares that he soaks the salted egg yolks in brandy to rid them of any fishy pong before making this golden lava with simply salted egg yolks, sugar and milk.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Hungry Cow Loves the Lunar New Year! Moohehe

In a twinkling of an eye, Santa Claus gives way to Cai Shen Ye while mandarin oranges become the fruit du jour. But it's still no less jolly a season and there's plenty of festive goodies and memoorable meals, such as the sumptuous steamboat reunion dinner, with friends and family. This year I made it a point to learn to make an "express" version of Mum's mala soup. Moohehe.  

Speaking of famooly, I bought 8 (huat ah!) jars of pineapple tarts from Yan Ting as gifts for my uncles and aunties in the spirit of sharing the cowleries love.

We received some yummy gifts too like this beautiful box of radish cake, XO sauce and vintage puer tea from the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong's Tin Lung Heen. 

An epic Lo Hei or Yu Sheng tossed at home saw flying shreds of ginger, carrot and abalone, and missing chopsticks. Moohehe.

I love my moother's homemade popiah but I guess a friend loved it even moore when he "walloped" 8 rolls! Plus we even had steamboat at the same time. LOL.

The 15 days of the lunar new year will soon pass but hack. Here's to a bright year of prosperity, happiness, good health and moore good eats!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Celebrate this Lunar New Year with Si Chuan Dou Hua's Reunion Imperial High Tea

Because the Lunar New Year is all about indulging and feasting with loved ones, why stop at just lunch and dinner? Squeeze in a prosperous oriental high tea too. Moohehe. I really enjoyed the Reunion Imperial High Tea over at Si Chuan Dou Hua's Tian Fu Tea Room. Priced at $38 per person, it features a selection of handcrafted Si Chuan and Cantonese dim sum creations paired with 3 premium Chinese teas such as the floral green tea-based Bi Tan Piao Xue and the elegant Tie Guan Yin.
No gathering during Chinese New Year is complete without a Yu Sheng. Thankfully, the Prosperity Yu Sheng with Crispy Fish Skin is included in the Reunion Imperial High Tea. And you know what? It is made to cater to the number of diners at the table. Yes, even if it is just 1 solo person. :D
The dim sum creations here are all served in small bite-sized portions, providing a handy nibble between conversations. The Sliced Duck Wrapped with Salted Egg Yolk offered a lovely meaty texture with the duck's flavour being teased out with each chew. Salted egg yolk gave it a richness. In the background, the Chilled Chong Qing Chicken with Spicy Bean Paste is a spicy, numbing (thanks to Si Chuan peppercorns) morsel that is sure to whet the appetite. In fact, I am salivating as I type this. Truly 口水鸡. Moohehe. 
Taking things a little lighter, the Steamed Sliced Prawn in Black Bean Sauce was a delectable, springy bite full of clean yet umami flavours. Also delicate, was the Steamed Fish Ball with Black Moss with a supple texture yielding to the bite.

Mooving on to the next tasty duo. Golden, flaky and hiding a moist core of soft radish, the Deep-fried Radish Puff with Dried Scallop was a delight to eat. The Pan-fried Glutinous Pancake with Minced Camphor Tea Smoked Duck boasted a nice chewy almost mochi-like texture with a pan-fried, sesame-sprinkled top and bottom surface that added another dimension. I felt the tea smoked duck filling was a little lacking in flavour and portion though.

Like at a typical Chinese banquet, the Reunion Imperial High Tea ends off with a carbs dish. This Fried Rice with Waxed Meats & Matsutake Mushrooms had an elegant, refined appeal. Moore fresh and subtle than in-your-face wok hei.  

Desserts arrived in the form of Deep-fried Crispy Custard Bun, which had a crisp and slightly chewy outer shell but was really oily inside, and the New Year Cake in Honey Glazed Pastry Puff. The latter, spotting a slice of pleasantly chewy nian gao encased in a puff pastry that is not unlike char siu soh, was a delight to eat.

Overall, I am pretty impressed with the use of textures across the dishes we sampled. This Reunion Imperial High Tea is a good option for a cosy festive afternoon catch up with friends and/or family.

The Reunion Imperial High Tea is available from 8 to 22 February, 2.30pm to 6pm at all Tian Fu Tea Room outlets across three Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurants in Singapore. Do note that the above mentioned dishes apply for Si Chuan Dou Hua at PARKROYAL on Beach Road; menus and dishes differ across the outlets. 

Thank you Si Chuan Dou Hua for the invitation.

Si Chuan Dou Hua
PARKROYAL on Beach Road (other outlets at PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road & UOB Plaza)
7500 Beach Road
Tel: 6505 5724

Chew On This: UOB card members enjoy a 4-dine-1-free privilege! Damn wu hua! Moohehe.