Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Mid Autumn Festival

The Mid Autumn Festival is one major Chinese festival...also known as the Moon Cake Festival or Eighth Moon Festival.

Wishing friends, blog loyals and readers a Happy and Prosperous rest of the year.

Mooncake courtesy of Vacheron Constantin. Many thanks to David Heng for sending the gorgeous mooncakes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fei Kee Claypot Chicken Rice

Claypot is one of the traditional dishes in the Chinese culture...carried forward into modern Singapore. Chicken cooked over rice in an claypot on a hot stove...warms the heart.

This little store, tucked near the Jalan Sultan/Arab Street enclave is a gem. My friend, who frequents this place tells of a tale of a fastidious cook, who insists on making the dish from scratch...ensuring a waiting time of at least 15 minutes while the rice cooks.

You can call ahead, so the uncle starts cooking your dish...ready for consumption when you arrive...make sure you are not late. Note that he starts with uncooked rice in the foreground, and his poster states skinless, grade A chicken thigh is used.

When delivered, the rice and chicken with lots of chinese sausage (lup cheong) and covered by cabbage and sprinklings of dried shrimps. Smell was heavenly. The thick black sauce was pre-mixed, unlike the one at Le Chausseur where the waiter mixes the sauce at the table.

Fragrance important criteria in claypot chicken. On stirring, the hot rice cooks the cabbage, rendering it done, but still with a crunch. The rice was nicely done, still a bit moist, fluffy, but not a match for the superior basmati Andy uses in Le Chausseur. The chicken is boneless, and skinless. Nice tender chunks. The saussage portion is generous...and as Chinese sausages tend to do, lends a wonderful aroma. The rice was getting slightly burnt around the edges of the pot (compared to Le Chasseur's which by the end of the meal would have been a gorgeous, blackened, smokey crust), and makes a great smokey flavour.

Overall, excellent dish. The chilli was quite good too. But for me, I am spoilt by the gorgeous Le Chausseur claypot chicken with the power this has to take second place.

Fei Kee Claypot Chicken Rice
Luk Lu Eating House
341 Beach Road
8222 6360
Mon - Sat 11am to 730pm

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life is like a box of chocolates: Sweet Treats by Boxup

Innovation. So elusive. Yet so wonderful when it is full blown. I recently came across this very innovative way to enjoy your chocolate fix. A Singaporean startup by local entrepreneur David Tan, you subscribe to a box of chocolates every month...and they deliver their selection from a delectable range to your doorstep. Like a magazine...and like Forest never know what you get until you open the box.

What a concept! I love the idea of the surprise of what you will receive each month.

A pretty box, with a nice bow...

Slip the cover open...viola!

A new set is selected and delivered every you get to try out different chocolates

In this month's subscription:

From the top left...Cream Cheese which is a walnut and sultana in French cream cheese, Flame Blanc which is an Almond gianduja, Exquisite which is a dark bittersweet ganache. In the middle row from the left, Raspberry Truffle a white ganache with fresh raspberry, Good Night made of a dark sesame paste in milk ganache, another Cream Cheese. And the bottom row, another Exquisite, a Miele made of white ganache with honey, and a bittersweet ganache with basil spice called Basil.

Very interesting concept. The chocolates are imported and air flown with temperature protection.

Thanks to David for personal delivery of the chocolates, and for the chocolates themselves.

Sweet Treats Website

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Taste Paradise: Fine dining or just fancy restaurant?

The Paradise Group is a home grown wonder...from a small cze char stall to a rather large conglomerate of restaurants, spanning the range from fine dining to traditional favourites.

The post today is on Paradise's top end offering...their Taste Paradise in Ion offers a fine dining environment, where beautiful decor, impeccable service and excellent food using innovative cooking techniques and ultra premium ingredients are the order of the day.

We started with quite standard fare...a roast pork

Well presented. The meat was tender, tasty, and the skin was roasted to a perfect crisp. Very good sio bak.

Prawns in two styles were presented in a rather unusual way in a martini glass...a la cocktail

Impeccably presented. The prawns were succulent, and fresh. One done with a mango sauce, the other a wasabi sauce.

Paradise is rather famous for their XO carrot cake, so we ordered one

Again excellent. The wok hei was apparent. A tad too much egg, though it tasted heavenly. The XO sauce...a home made speciality from scallops, prawns, dried shrimps, pork, and other ingredients selected by the chef...each XO sauce is different because of the special ingredients used. The radish cake itself was a bit too soft and tender...I wish for a more firm bite on the cake. But the flavours meld well in the palate.

A simple bamboo clam which was well received

Bamboo clams are at once easy to prepare as well as difficult to execute. Easy, because it is usually simply stir fried, or steamed. Fresh clams have a wonderful sweetness that is just so intoxicating. But the cooking time needs to be judged right...just a tad overcooked, and the clams turn tough and spoils the dish. Needless to say, the chef tampered his work very well.

We had the crispy seafood noodles as well

The noodles were faintly aromatic...just nicely so. Very crisply done. The scallops, prawns and mushrooms complement the sauce and the noodles very well.

And a bit of the unusual, though a dish which can be found in some hawker offerings in Malaysia...deep fried ice cream

Ice cream, in this case, I suspect a rather generic type as it did not taste anything encased in a flour shell, which is quickly deep fried. The flour crisps up, and provides the ice cream with a heat barrier while in the deep fryer, and the ice cream remains cold and frozen. The sensation of hot and cold that one experience on the palate is what makes this special. A bit like a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

A rather well presented menu, great tasting, if a bit expensive. But definitely a great place to entertain clients or foreign guests to show off our culinary diversity and heritage. Recommended.

Taste Paradise
2 Orchard Turn, #04-07 ION Orchard
Mon–Fri: 11.30am–3pm, 6pm–11pm
Sat–Sun & PH: 11am–4.30pm, 6pm–11pm

Monday, September 17, 2012

Singapore's rural scene: Poison Ivy Bistro at Bollywood Veggies

Tucked in the almost rural Singapore...amongst the farms in Lim Chu Kang area, is Bollywood Veggies...well, a farm owned and operated by the colourful Ivy Singh-Lim.

I drop by for lunch once in a while on some of my rides to the north, and have eaten there several times. The air conditioning of the restaurant is a godsent after hours in the sun. But the food is not bad too.

Of course vegetables are the order of the day...but the restaurant is serves a full range of meats as well. The above is an organically grown onsite. Sweet potato leaves, kangkong and spinach form the 3 veg dish. Chopped finely, and stir fried in a hot wok quickly. The finely chopped vegetables are still crunchy, and have a fine flavour of only fresh, just harvested vegetables can have.

The otah omelette is quite special in taste, if not in execution or presentation. A thinly fried plain omelette is laid out on the plate, and the otah put on top with some condiments. The otak tasted like the freshly made ones you get in Muar, but when we asked Ivy where she got them from...she revealed a locally produced source.

I found the otah to be spectacularly good. And with some rice and chopped chillies...quite satisfying.

Interesting destination dining location. Away from the madding crowd...though sometimes in Bollywood Veggies, one does get assualted by hordes of school children visiting because of the farm's active education outreach program. But for cyclists plying the area...which for the uninitiated is a very popular route. The long straight stretch along Lim Chu Kang is a favourite to try out max speeds and max heart rates, and the rustic environment and modest slopes makes interest exploration. Recommended to try out at least once.

Poison Ivy Bistro
100 Neo Tiew Road,(Kranji)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Out of city eats: Sally Roast Meats

Roast meats are a perrenial favourite. Certainly one of mine...nothing like a sio bak, or char siew or roast duck to get the juices is one unusual candidate, tucked in Yio Chu Kang.

One of my cycling buddies, Alex told us about this wonderful duck wonderful, he had to eat there at least once a week to satisfy his cravings. So off we went.

When we arrived about noon, there was already a long queue. It will get longer during the peak lunch time hours of 12-2.

Of course we ordered a selection of everything...

First the unglam...the vegetables

But yum! they were tasty. Nicely done chap chye.

Free soup...kiam chye ark...but that a whole duck quarter in the free soup?

Indeed there was. Very tasty soup. And we had an entire drumstick and the back meaty part of a duck within. I guess the soup was made from leftover duck from yesterday...typical ingredients for kiam chye of my late father's favourites after the feasting over Chinese New Year.

Yam rice was nice...with huge chunks of yam embedded

But for the mains...the duck

Beautifully roasted. Glistening. The skin was crisp, but not as super crisp as the best I have those served by Canton-I. But the meat was gorgeous! Very tender, soft, a bit powdery texture as one is likely to get with nicely done duck. Very nice.

But for me the piece de resistance is the roast meat.

The sio bak was absolutely fantastic. It was still warm when we ate it. The requisite sliver of fat hidding behind a super crispy skin, and tender meat within. Very very good. One of the best I have eaten...and at such humble surroundings. The char siew was also very good...KL style, with lots of sticky, sweet sauce, charred by the roasting...and fat, juicy pork.

When I visited, Sally Roast Meats was at Yio Chu Kang Road, by Cactus Road...but from Sept 15 2012, they will move to Northstar, by the junction of Yio Chu Kang Rd and Ang Mo Kio Ave 5.

Sally Roast Meats
Northstar AMK Food Court
7030 Ang Mo Kio Ave 5

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cheap Eats in CBD: Sungei Road Laksa

Value...its perceived. But one can hardly argue when one can get a nice meal sized portion of delicious noodles for S$2.

Yes, I said a bowl of Laksa for $2. And this is after the price increased 100%. It used to be $1 a bowl, when the father of the current owner used to run the stall. It was admittedly smaller, but he was insistent on offering $1 laksa...his philosophy was if you need more to fill your tummy, order two!

Today's portion, while still small, is rather a bit bigger...enough to satisfy those with a smaller appetite. I added a piece of cost of the meal as shown is $3. Still a bargain, especially in the city.

So how does it taste. The broth was magnificently fragrant. Even from the vantage point where I sat and took the picture below, I could smell the aroma of the broth when the cook opened the boiling cauldron to dish out the broth onto the bowl.

On the palate, it was rich without being coy. Less rich (lemak) than the Katong varietals, but still full on the palate. A taste of ground dried prawns (hae bee) is apparent and lends to the savoury sensation. The laksa leaves, finely sliced adds another dimension, as the chilli. Adorned with slices of fish cake, the laksa is a winner. The otak too was excellent.

But my lunch companion who has been patronising this stall for years, remarked that the after taste of the broth is what makes this laksa special. We intentionally did not drink our teas immediately after slurping the bowl. And waited 5 mins or so...all the while, still tasting the laksa as it fades into the darkness of our gullet. Beautiful. Highly recommended for the laksa enthusiast.

Sungei Road Laksa (Kelantan Lane)
31 Kelantan Lane, #01-12 Seng Chuan Eating House
9690 8184
8.30am – 9pm
(Closed on 1st Wed of the month)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lunch spot: Culina Bistro

Culina is one of the interesting gourmet grocers which sprung up in Singapore recently. But Culina is different...for oen its much older. And for another it also offers a very nice kitchen/bistro.

I began being a customer not long after its founding in 1994, back then it was one of the few sources of extra virgin olive oil sold in 4 liter containers, that I used for most of our home cooking. But this article is about their bistro...tucked in the beautiful and lazy hills of Dempsey, along my usual cycling route to the city, it is a haven for many.

For this post, I feature their steak sandwich...

Part of their all day dining menu, it is known as the Grilled 1824 Tenderloin Steak Sandwich. Served with beautiful caramelised onion, tomato, gratinated comte cheese and a mixed salad, it is a rather wholesome meal on itself.

The star of course was the steak. Tender, done perfectly...with a touch of pink perhaps 75% inside, the outer 25% cooked grey with a tinge of charcoal on the outermost. Delicious. Truly a very good steak sandwich. At $26 a pop, not a bad price either.

My lunch companion had the Castaing duck leg confit with parsnip puree, pear, endive, walnut and veal jus.

I did not sample it, but the serving was generous...this was the leg of a rather fat duck...the skin looked crispy, and the insides, when he cut it open looked moist. As he ate, he mumbled words of appreciation which made me want to return soon to sample it.

Nice lunch location, though weekends can get rather crowded. But on a weekday lunch, it was relaxed, cool with good food.

Culina Bistro
Blk 8, Dempsey Road
#01-13 Dempsey Hill

6474 7338

Daily 11am to 1030pm