Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ipoh Lou Yau Bean Sprouts Chicken

Does the chicken in your chicken rice carry a passport? Apparently, those served at Ipoh Lou Yau Bean Sprouts Chicken do. They are certified Malaysian Kampung Chicken. And the bean sprouts which accompany are fat, crunchy and gorgeous. The horfun which one can order as part of the meal is white, oh so smooth.

Introducing the Ipoh food phenemona. According to legend, the water surrounding the town of Ipoh in Malaysia has special properties, and food made from this water is especially delicious. Like the bean sprouts grown in the water. Or the hor fun made from the water. They are truly and indeed different from those from elsewhere.

Nowhere else, do I find the horfun or kway teow which is so smooth, totally soft and luxurious. Ipoh Lou Yau features these wonderful noodles. The only other place in Singapore I have eaten such wonderful horfun was at a restaurant called Hong Kee, but alas it is no more. Those served at the Ipoh White Coffee is close, but no cigars. The Lou Yau one is indeed the real McCoy.

The chicken is true bred, real kampung chicken. Free range chicken, reared for a bit longer than commercial battery chicken, are imported from Malaysia. The chicken are first boiled in broth with herbs and spices. Then just before serving, it is boiled in a gentle heat which keeps the meat tender, then submerged in an ice bath, to stop further cooking after the desired doneness is achieved and also to seal the juices and give the skin a glossy sheen. The skin colour is also a tell tale intense yellow, compared the the paler complexion of the battery chicken.

Taste wise, it is a bit more intense as well, more flavour, a bit more gamey. Not my favourite, as I prefer a milder chicken, but I can see the attraction. In some Malaysian shops offering similar fare, like the famous Ipoh Chicken at Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya, the shop also offers commercial chicken as well as roast and soy sauce varieties.

The bean sprouts were as advertised. The standout is the thick plump strands, albeit shorter than regular ones. The sprouts are blanched and bathed in a savoury sauce. The bean sprouts are sweet, and very crunchy. Nice.

But I cannot fail to mention one of their side dishes...which to me was the star of the day. The braised platter.

Braised egg, tofu and pork. The tofu and egg were great, but not very special. But the braised pork belly was superb. I found the meat tender, full of flavour, the fat bursting on the palate giving a wonderful mouthfeel. One of the better braised pork I have eaten.

For dessert, I had what they call Hometown Osmanthus Tea...nice ingredients...served cold, very refreshing.

Nice little stall...the setting is like a food court, but unlike regular food courts where there is shared seating, this is more like a bistro, with each stall having their own seating.

This is an invited review, thanks to Ying Ying at Ninemer for the invitation, and to Select Group for hosting. I leave you with a picture of the Chef, who was also happily shooting away at his food with his own DSLR as we started the photo session.

Ipoh Lou Yau Bean Sprouts Chicken
B1-52 Chinatown Point.
Many other locations in IMM, Centrepoint, Chervon House, VivoCity, White Sands, and Junction 8 (Mar 2013), Bugis Village (Q2 2013)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Yummy Sarawak Kolo Mee at Tampines Round Market

Kolo mee...when I first saw it, I thought, its just wanton mee...what's the big fuss? Maybe its wanton mee done in certain style...but I later was told, its different.

How different? I am still not quite sure...maybe an enlightened reader can help me. I understand the noodles are done with just egg whites and no alkali. And the accompanying sides include wanton and char siew, but not necessarily.

Anyway, one of my friends recommend this Sarawak Kolo mee at the Tampines Round we went to try.

Apparently, Yummy Sarawak Kolo Mee is one of the more famous ones in town.

The ingredients which accompany are nicely done...wanton with pork and crunchy chestnuts, deep fried crispy wanton, char siew, and braised pork ribs. This is the deluxe version, $5.

The noodles were curly, slighter lighter in tone than the regular Singapore wanton mee. Tasted very good. The ingredients were also very good.

Worth a journey to Tampines to eat? Some people think so. The queues are very long throughout the day. For me, I may seek this out to eat if I am nearby, but certainly not worth a trip almost half way across the island for a bowl.

Yummy Sarawak Kolo Mee
137 Tampines Street 11,
#01-45 Tampines Round Market & Food Centre
9885 5513
5am – 3pm daily

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Revisiting La Bourse ou la Vie

Another revisit post...La Bourse ou la Vie...your money or your life.

I had a great experience last time I visited...the steaks were good, and the fries here for earlier review.

We visited on a quiet Friday other table was occupied when we arrived, so the place was very quiet.

Edward was adventurous and decided to try the steak tatare...

I took a taste, certain not the best steak tatare I have eaten. The meat was nicely minced...light tasting, but the spices were a bit lacking, in my view. Having said this, steak tatare is not my favourite dish, and I am certainly no expert in judging. Edward didn't quite like it as well, but Kin was ok with the dish.

I oredered a glass of red wine, and the waiter opened a whole bottle and left it on the table...later when I checked the bill, he did charge me for one glass. Nice of him to trust me to just pour a glass. The wine was good, but not exceptional. Went very well with the steaks.

We ordered the steaks "a point", which is French...

As I remarked the last review, the beef in France is a bit leaner than those offered by American or Japanese steakhouses. A bit more chewy. But tasty, and with very intense flavour.

I glowed about the fries the last visit. This time round, perhaps it was a quiet evening, but certainly no excuse...the fries were not as wonderful as the last time. I think they are still fried in tallow (beef fat), and have some of the robust, wonderful flavour, but somehow they were not crisp. Nevertheless, they were still good fries, just not as fantastic as in my last experience.

A bit duller than the last visit, where the steak was very good, and the fries spectacular. This time round, still deserves a recommendation, but not as glowing.

La Bourse ou la Vie
12 rue Viviene
Paris 75002
Open noon-10pm Mon-Fri.
Closed 1wk Aug & 1wk Dec

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Revisit Le Roy du Pot au Feu

Another revisit is the Le Roy du Pot au Feu. Literally translated the Royal pot of fire, this is a typical French stew or pot of beef.

I wrote a review the last time I here for earlier review.

As I told in the earlier review, I stumbled on this place some 10 years ago with Kin and evening, after shopping at the Grand Magazins (Big Dept Stores) this was in a small street just a stone's throw away from Galayeries Lafayete. Comfort food, if such may exist. So we went again to seek this out. My subsequent experiences were pleasant, and discovered the awesome pear sorbet.

The restaurant looked unchanged. Small, cramped. More like a village bistro than a restaurant. The boiled beef is still the same.

The beef tender, the vegetables tasty...having soaked up the goodness from the beef and bones. The bone marrow...quite delicious...hearty, robust food. Wonderful with a carafe of gamay.

Edward decided to try a steak

Quite good...the beef cut was rather lean, but nicely cooked. The taste was very good, no complaints.

For us, this is a place to return to again and again...but I say this that as a family, we think of this as comfort food.

Le Roi du Pot au Feu
34, rue Vignon, Havre Caumartin,
Paris, France
01 47 42 37 10‎

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Le Grande Cafe Capucines

Sometimes a favourite restaurant has nothing to do with the restaurant boasting of Gault Millau, or Michelin Star. Sometimes, it is just the right combination of service, ambience, and food which suits one's taste. The Grande Cafe Capucines is one such restaurant for me. Undecorated, but a firm favourite.

Right next to the Paris Opera, on Boulevard Capucines, is the Grande Cafe. I discovered this some 20 years ago, on a business trip...we were hungry, tired, and it was drizzling in Paris. My colleague and I saw this magnificent cafe, looking regal and like it stepped right out of the 1920s belle epoch. We immediately went in.

This is a typical art deco style Parisian restaurant. The tables are set very close to each is impossible not to hear what the table beside is discussing...of course, if its French, their discussion remains private to us.

I love this restaurant. The service is always efficient, which is more than what can be said of many Parisian restaurants...though truth be told, they have improved over the years. These days, they attempt to speak English...and often quite good English when in the old days, even if the waiters do speak English, they pretend not to, and spoke only French. And more nowadays, they do not turn a nose if you just order carafe eau, instead of sparkling or still water.

And they were serving divine French oysters. One of the few in the 1se Arr which have a oyster booth outside the restaurant.

These were fine de Claire no 3 I think, or perhaps no 5. They were delicious. Succulent, fresh, smooth and rather fat. Wonderful with just a touch of lemon or a dash of tabasco. Marvellous.

For starters we also had some foie gras

I rather usually prefer pan fried foie gras, but they didn't have that. So we had the pate. This was a rather large serving. Quite nice foie usual, fat, satisfying...slight greasy, but immensely aromatic as only foie gras can be, and tasted very nice.

For our mains, Edward had the baby chicken in a pot

Nicely done. The chicken, though described as a baby chicken was rather large...perhaps the size of our regular kampung chicken. The meat was nicely done, very succulent, tasty. The skin is almost crisp, though not quite. A little braising liquid sat in the pot. Very tasty.

Kin had the veal chop

This was divine. Beautiful cut of veal. Nice, decent serving size. Perfectly grilled...slightly crisp on the outside with beautiful maillard. And very tender within. The accompanying jus was also savoury and very tasty, as were the morelle mushrooms. This was a winner dish. One to come back for more. Excellent.

I had the lamb shank

It was roasted perfectly. Very tender, very moist within. But the sauce, in my view was a tad too sweet...perhaps the reduction was allowed to caramalize a bit too much for my taste. The carrots and radish supporting the lamb was very nicely done. This is still a very good dish, but I did find the sauce a bit too sweet.

The portions were rather large, so for dessert, we only ordered one...a combination of sorbet and ice cream

The pear and lemon sorbet was right up my alley. The ice crystals were very small, almost undetectable...well, actually not detectable on the palate, and the fruit confit used to make the ice sorbet superb. Powerful flavours of pear and lemon. The sole scoop of chocolate ice cream was good too, but de rigeur. The scoops were mixed with very rich full cream and drops of French pastry which tasted very good...super sweet to be sure, but had a hard texture, which gave way to a slightly sticky and overpowering sweet melange. Nice.

I almost always eat at this restaurant everytime I am in Paris. We loved the package so much, we ate there twice on this 7 day trip. So for me, my conclusion is absolutely recommended.

Le Grand Cafe Capucines
4 Boulevard des Capucines
75009 Paris, France
+33 1 43 12 19 00

Monday, February 11, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: revisit Chez Dumonet for killer Duck Confit

I took the opportunity to revisit some of my favourites in Paris...Chez Dumonet is one of my absolute favourites. In my books, best confit du canard in the world..

I wrote a glowing review the last time I here for earlier review.

Time time round, we arrived for lunch, sans reservation. It was a rainy day in Paris...and we sauntered over after some light shopping at Au Bon Marche, which is a short walk away.

So is the confit du canard still good?

Absolutely. The duck skin still earth shatteringly crisp. The meat within, still moist, delicious. Maybe my diet is a little different this time, so I am used to leaner food...but although I found the confit to be magnificently satisfying, I felt that it was a bit surprise, as the method of making a confit is to immerse the entire duck leg in a pot of duck fat, cook it over low heat, seal the pot, and leave till needed. This was one method of food preservation before the days of prevalent refrigeration. When needed, the duck is removed from the fat, and fried till the skin is crisp.

And so was the soufle...still the best Grand Marnier soufle I have eaten.

Light elastic skin. Smooth, moist, delicious inside. Magnificent.

Service was a bit spotty, but the waiters were cheerful and spoke English. Which in Paris, well lets just say having waiters who are not grumpy certainly makes a nice day. And the food, divine. Certainly worthy a trip over to Chez Dumonet if you are in Paris.

Josephine aka Chez Dumonet
117, rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th (Metro : Duroc)
T :
Closed Sundays and Mondays

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Aux Lyonaisse

We decided to keep to Bistro and Brasserie food this Paris trip...forgoing the high priced restaurants and Michelin starred meals. But we did take a particular look at secondary restaurants owned as part of the same chain of Michelin starred ones. Today's feature is Aux Lyonnaise, a restaurant owned by Alain Ducase.

Jumping straight into conclusion...was it good? Of course it was. It was fantastic. Did it meet all expectations...well, I am a bit ambivalent on this one...I loved most of the dishes, but was disappointed with one. So read on!

I read about Aux Lyonnaise from web reports and reviews...many glowing. I had arrived in Paris on a Thursday for a week, and decided to just send them an email asking for possibility of a table...half expecting not getting any reply. But I was pleasantly surprised they offered me a Tuesday lunch. We got there bright and great anticipation. Was empty when we arrived...the dining room was soon to be filled with diverse business people from Allianz just across the street and the stock brokers from the Paris Bourse a short walk away.

Service was very attentive...English spoken fluently, and while the Formula Dejeneur (French for set lunch) is in French only, the waiter translated very well. Kin and I had the Formula (€32), and Edward opted to try the vegetarian cookpot.

Our sets came complete with appetizer, main, and dessert. But first, a shared amuse bouche

This was a sour concoction, perhaps with eggs. I didn't really like the dip, though the bread was excellent with some butter. It grew on Kin and Edward...but we did not finish the bowl. By that time the restaurant was filling up, and we saw most of the other patrons wiped their bowl clean...must be a French thing.

Kin's appetizer was their Green lentils salad, ham and soft boiled egg

Very good. The egg was perfectly cooked. Slightly runny inside, but firm enough on the outside to hold the near liquid contents. The lentils were superb...cooked almost till, but not quite to the level where the individual lentils disintegrate like some Indian lentil dishes. In this case, the lentils were slightly crunchy, beautiful aroma. The taste of the braising liquid was very nice.

I had the charcuterie...interesting French institution, this charcuterie...

Came as sliced salami/ham...very fat as evidenced by the white marbling. A jar of pickled cucumbers standby to help cut the fat. The ham was very nice...but I found the flavour of the pork to be very strong...a tad overpowering. The accompanying pot of baked potato with mustard was very nice.

As we were in France, we also opted for a carafe of red table pours...inexpensive to drink, especially in France. We had a carafe of Vintage 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Moulin de Tacussel. 46cl at €42.

We also usually order the carafe eau...or tap water instead of mineral water.

On to the mains...first Edward's Cookpot of potato and black truffle

Quite an interesting dish...and even more interesting Edward chose it. The truffles were rather generous for a €27 dish. And the potato is done like a gratin. Beautifully cooked...potatos firm, yet yielding and a bit flaky. Very aromatic truffles. The pot was so large, he did not manage to finish it, even after sharing with us.

Kin had the boiled free range chicken and winter vegetables

Interesting pot. I found the chicken to be a bit strongly flavoured. I was lucky I didn't order this dish...not my taste. The soup which came with was a bit mild, and light. Kin was ok with her choice. She enjoyed it, nevertheless. The chicken was lean, tender. I guess this is where the saying a chicken must taste like chicken comes in...and for me it was a bit heavy chicken flavour...for others this may be perfect.

I am extremely pleased with my order...Roasted pork belly, stewed potato and carrots.

For me superb. The best pork belly I have eaten. The porky taste was present, but subtle, perhaps it was well seasoned. The pork was roasted till a crisp outer skin is developed, and I imagined braised...but I don't know how they retain the crisp skin. Perhaps it was braised and finished on a griddle to produce the crisp. Truly magnificent. My only wish was that it was a bit leaner, though that would rob the flavour, and um...if I had 2 slices...

Needless to say, the vegetables were perfectly cooked, and were very fresh.

Dessert time next...Kin had the dried plums and Rasteau wine with fresh cream

The prunes (plums are generic...prunes are made by drying a specific plum) are wonderful. The wine sauce a perfect foil and accompaniment. And the fresh cream provided mouth feel and body. Love this dessert...simple but very effective.

My dessert was even simpler...fresh cottage cheese...

Sprinkled generously with caster sugar, it was truly very good. On its own, it was a bit bland...the cheese flavour was very mild and light. But the sugar picked and complimented the fat in the cheese, elevating it to something worthy. Very nice.

Having jumped the conclusion, you now already know what my thoughts are. I would still heartily recommend this restaurant for all those who are visiting Paris. It was one of the most enjoyable meals I had in this trip. And was remarkable for the quality of ingredients, the level of cooking, and the great service. Highly recommended.

Aux Lyonnaise
32 rue Saint-Marc
75002 Paris, France

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gastronomy in Paris: Bistro Viviene

Paris. The city of lights. Beautiful, romantic. The seat of cuisine...well, Paris and least for French cuisine. I am visiting after the SIHH, so with this post, I begin a few posts of new restaurants, and revist some favourites. We start with Bistro Viviene.

I spied this restaurant on my way to La Bourse au la Vie, sitting nearby rue Viviene and rue Petit Champs, right in the center of the 2nd Arrondisment - Paris' central business district. A quick check online, nice reviews, and I popped in after the La Bourse dinner and booked a table.

The restaurant was gorgeous...beautiful, typicaly traditional bistro in Paris...we got to sit upstairs...what is known by regulars as the library. Magnificent decor. It was like dining in someone's drawing room. Nice. We started with some oysters...

Cancale sea oysters no3 with farmhouse bread and churned butter. Succulent, fresh oysters. The breath of the sea was still very much present, the oysters were offered raw, slightly chilled...or perhaps outdoor temperatures during the months when oysters are best...months in French ending with r...which were September, October, November, December, January (Javier), February (Fevrier). I was in town late January, so outside temperature is approximately 0C. No3 means they are approximately medium sized...Oysters are calibrated from 000 to 6 (equivalent to 120 to 20 grams), with the smaller number indicating the larger-sized oyster.

Superb. And tasty, fat. fresh...I said that, but it is worth saying again. Very nice.

Edward had the Pike perch stewed with red wine : mushrooms, pickled onions, steamed potatoes.

Again superbly fresh fish, cooked perfectly. Nice, juicy and moist in the flesh, and the skin is beautifully crisp. Vegetables cooked perfectly. And like most vegetables eaten outside Singapore, where they acutally have fresh produce, it tasted very good.

Kin had the Griddled pluma (tender part of Iberian pork) : mashed potatoes

The pork was very good. Very good. Tender, slightly crisp and charred on the outside, tasty, tender within. The mashed potato was wonderful. Kin declared it one of the best she has eaten...equal to one we raved about by the now defunct Big D some time ago. Smooth, creamy. Beautiful.

I had Roasted rack of lamb, vegetable stew

Another excellent dish. The lamb was superb...if a little fat. I wished it was a leaner cut. But the meat was tender, and wonderful. Very nice. Even the stewed vegetables were excellent. Radish, potatoes, carrots, squash.

Very enjoyable bistro. Excellent food. Great service. We had a carafe of cote du rhone...very inexpensive French wine, but really nice. Recommended if you visit Paris and especially so are near either 1Arr or 2Arr.

Bistro Viviene
4 Rue des Petits Champs
75002 Paris, France