Thursday, June 27, 2013

Onion Restaurant and Bar

Once every quarter or so, our watch collecting group gets together for some serious merry making, good food, great fellowship and to gawk at watches. This quarter, we held it at eatery just by Bukit Timah...

Nicely appointed, and very pleasant interior...we had the private loft upstairs...two tables of 10. Nice space...

We started with a sparkling wine...from France, no less, but not from the region of Champagne

A little bland, one dimensional. A nice refreshing aperetif, but not real nose to speak of, no complexity, no development in the palate.

The starter was a seafood soup

Rather nice. A bit laid back on taste...I can see some of my friends not liking this subtle tasting food...indeed, the rest of the dishes were served in a similarly subtle taste style...some may say its bland, though not me. I liked the way the meal presented itself with fresh ingredients being allowed to shine, and not be overpowered by salt, spices or other accoutrements.

The soup was loaded with seafood...the prawns were plump and fresh, but sadly a bit lacking in characteristic sweetness and crunchiness which usually accompany. The soup was nice.

Some of the group ordered the salmon...I did have a small slice as a sample

Beautifully marinated...again, in the subtle character which allowed the fish to shine. But for me, the salmon was a tad overcooked...I prefer to see a bit of pink within...but the fish was cooked through...a bit flaky, though it tasted very nice. The bed of whipped potato it sat on was wonderfully creamy. Very nice.

I had the Iberico pork

Beautiful piece of meat. Very tender, no porky smell. Nicely done. Though there was some inconsistency amongst the diners. One of my friends sitting across the table from me, cut open the pork, and blood splattered was undercooked.

My piece was nicely done...cooked through, and again, like the fish, I would have preferred to see a slight pink within.

Accompaning the meal was a vin pays...not top notch, but rather pleasant.

Very mellow tannins, especially for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Eminently drinkable.

For desserts, an ice cream cake

I found the pastry on top of the ice cream to be very sweet, as did many of my friends. The ice cream was de rigeur. I had a decaf espresso, which tasted like burnt coal...not good.

Service was excellent throughout the meal. Very attentive.

And to cap the evening, some whisky...Taiwan's single malt whisky...Ka Va first taste of this interesting stuff...

Floral notes on the nose. A lite bite from the alcohol, but very smooth and pleasant. Taiwan's single malts are made from Irish malt, but the entire process is done in Taiwan using their own beautiful spring water. The bottle bears no designation of age, unlike their Scottish counterparts. Interesting drink.

Overall, Onion was quite a reasonable place to dine. Nice environment, good service, Reasonably good food.

Onion Restaurant & Bar
#01-01, 791 Bukit Timah Road
Mon - Thu: 17:30 - 22:30
Fri: 17:30 - 23:00
Sat - Sun: 10:30 - 15:00, 17:30 - 23:00
Sun: 17:30 - 22:30

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Eat healthy: Fish soup at Sembawang Hills Food Centre

The haze is killing Singapore...we got some respite on Saturday, and has lasted till today...Tuesday...hopefully it will continue for longer. To help fight the ill effects, here is a recommendation for a clear, healthy fish soup.

The stall is inconspicuous...though the long queue almost all day long lets the cat out of the bag.

Very clear soup, almost no oil...very fresh fish. Cooked just right...beautifully. Sometimes the simplest are the best. Especially in times like these, where we need to nourish the body, and yet reserve resources to fight the ill effects of particulates and impurities in the air.

Very nice, and recommended. Light, refreshing meal. Eat healthy.

Fresh Fish Seafood Soup
Sembawang Hill Food Centre
590 Upper Thomson Road
#01-36 S574419
11am to 230pm Closed on Mondays

Monday, June 17, 2013

A very special Themed dinner: The Dream of the Red Chamber by Crystal Jade Jiang Nan

The Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the monumental Chinese literary works. For one day, August 17, Crystal Jade Jiang Nan (Vivocity) will transform their restaurant into the Theme of the Red Chamber, and will showcase the food described in the book.

The banquet will feature iconic dishes that have tantalized the tastebuds of the characters in the Dream of the Red Chamber. The book describes some of the dishes in exquisite detail, and makes mention of many others.

This special Themed dinner is only available for pre-booking...make your reservations if you are interested. Seats are limited to 70 people each for lunch and dinner. The entire restaurant will be converted into the Red Chamber, and the wait staff suitably attired...our tea waitress in costume

To begin, a series of 4 snacks are served

Pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and pine nuts

The nuts are roasted separately on low heat in a frying pan for half an hour for a crisp texture and a nutty fragrance.

Sugar coated Chinese dates

Preserved Chinese dates stuffed with red dates and coated with a honey glaze. I found these really superb. Very nice to start a meal.

Chilled Cherry Tomatoes topped with sugar

Chilled for hours, the tomatoes are then served with raw, fine sugar. The tomatoes are very juicy, sweet on their own, but blossomed with a touch of a few grains of sugar.

Steamed roll with preserved fruits

The preserved fruits, diced in cubes, mixed with flour and made into rolls. Steamed for 20 minutes. Nice, soft to bite. Fruits providing the tiniest tinge of a sugar rush to complete the experience.

Then come the appetizers. Count them...six dishes! This is a real banquet!!

Chilled bitter gourd and sour plum powder

Bitter gourd is shredded, and sprinkled with sour plum powder to eradicate the bitterness.

Braised eggplant with pine nut and preserved cherry

Egg plant and preserved cherries are diced into cubes, marinated and braised for days. Pine nuts are then added. A beautiful combination, soft, chewy and crunchy textures meld together. Quite delightful.

Chilled crunchy jellyfish with sesame oil drizzle

Jellyfish chilled in cold water, and trimmed to form flower shaped pieces...a delight to the eye. The texture, I found to be very agreeable.

Smoked duck breast with red yeast rice

Sliced duck breast is marinated with red yeast rice, giving it a pink blush, then smoked. Magnificent. Smokey flavours permeate, and the meat is tender and juicy.

Chicken feet skin marinated with rice wine

Chicken feet are deboned, marinated with rice wine, wolfberries and served with wine cake pieces. I found this to be unlike any chicken feet I have eaten...the usual crunchy texture is not so apparent. The dish was a bit creamy and lush.

Marinted radish with deep fried gluten

Radish spahed like flower petals are marinated in vinegar. Deep fried gluten is strained with water and added. I found this dish a tad too sour, but the radish had a nice crunch.

So far, 10 dishes, and we have just arrived at six mains...

Deep fried live fish stuffed with multiflavoured fish ball and spinach sauce

This dish is described with some detail in the book. Some preparation liberty was taken by the Jiang Nan chefs, but the whole fish is sliced into shape...deep fried till crisp. Multi coloured fish balls are prepared by mixing vegetables with fish paste, wrapped with an egg crepe and stuffed into the deep fried fish fillets. A rich gravy of crab meat, spinach add the final touch.

Double boiled chicken soup with quail egg and button mushroom

Chicken broth is prepared by double boiling chicken for 6 hours. Quail eggs and button mushrooms are added, and a third boiling is done before serving. In the book pigeon eggs are called for, but AVA Singapore does not allow import of pigeon eggs, so a substitute of quail eggs are made. The eggs add a really rich touch. The broth is beautiful, clear, clean tasting.

Braised pork knuckle stuffed with Chinese Ham

Pork knuckle is stuffed with strips of Chinese ham, braised for hours, and complemented with bak choy cut into the shape of flowers and served with a magnificent, thick sauce. Very nice.

Braised whole sea cucumbr with spinach in brown sauce

A huge sea cucumber is simmered for days till it expands to about the length of a man's forearm. Then braised for hours till soft and served with spinach and a thick brown sauce. I found this dish to be very, very good. The brown sauce is also quite special...within the sauce is mixed in prawn roe, giving the sauce a wonderful punch. Very good dish!

Sauteed vegetables with pumpkin sauce

What a beautiful plating. Fan shaped, complementary colours comprising of bak choy, cabbage, carrot, dried mushroom and threads of egg crepe, and drenched with pumpkin sauce. Quite delicious.

Then finally, 4 courses of what is termed dessert, but not all sweet...

Baked crispy mooncake with salty minced pork

Looks like traditional cakes, and made like so. Layers of pastry baked into light and fluffy crust, within salty minced pork and spring onion.

Steamed crab meat and conpoy dumpling

A very special dim sum like dish, compoy is steamed for hours till soft and combined with crab meat, and wrapped in a dumpling, and steamed for 30 minutes. Very good.

Porridge with shredded salted duck and crispy sprin roll skin

Salted duck is marinated and cooked, porridge is boiled with duck bone and the hand shredded salted duck and crispy spring roll skin is added as the dish is served. The porridge did not quite have the consistency of congee, more like moey...but very fragrant and savoury. The duck meat provided a nice lift in taste and salt. And the spring roll skin a textural counterpoint.

Steamed osmanthus cake topped with gold flakes

A mixture of lotus root flour and osmanthus petals is steamed for 30 minutes resulting in a soft and chewy cake with the wonderful fragrance of osmanthus and topped with a gold flake for the extravagant touch.

Very interesting tasting. The themed event is certainly a very good way to make this special. The dishes are well prepared, and links back to the book. Crystal Jade collaborate with food writer Alan Ng, who will introduce the dishes and place them in context of the book. And for the event, a gu zheng player will be in attendance as well. Advanced booking is required. S$98++ per person, with a 15% discount for early bird special (ticket purchased before 15 July with Standard Chartered credit cards) and 10% discount for Standard Chartered credit cards.

Many thanks to Samantha of Crystal Jade and Hannah of Storey 3 for the invitations.

Crystal Jade Jiang Nan
#01-52 Vivocity

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Power Mee Rebus: Rahim Malay Food

Mee Rebus is an interesting dish...Malay in origin, but using chinese noodles. Perhaps unique to this part of the world.

This is a dish which is deceptively heavy...the thick heavy gravy, the noodles fill one up, even though sometimes when the dish is served, it looks very small.

My friend Eddie introduced this stall, round where he lived...

Indeed, the stall is supposed to open at 11:30, and by that time a queue has started to form. The owners were there, but the lights were not on, and we had to wait till noon to get the food...but it was worth the wait...they call this Power Mee Rebus

A thick, generous serving of satay sauce smothers the entire dish, covering everything...delicious...very fragrant, beautiful satay sauce aroma. Pushing open the sauce, reveals something I have not seen before in a mee rebus...a large slab of sliced chicken thigh...

Very tender chicken...goes beautifully with the rest of the dish. The nicely cooked yellow noodles providing remarkable background for the chicken and the wonderful satay sauce.

Very highly of the better mee rebus I have eaten in a long time.

Rahim Malay Food
721 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 (Fu Chan Coffeeshop)
Open 11.30am to 8pm. Closed Alt Sun.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Parkway Parade Eats: Mad Jack and Scoopz

This is an invited review of a few of the eating places in the refurbished Parkway Parade. Located at the ground floor of this very busy shopping centre, the eateries are quite interesting.

The concept for the tasting was also quite interesting. The bloggers were given a pass each, and free reign to visit where they wish, and most of the stalls were open to us ordering whatever was in the menu. We started with Mad Jack.

I had been at Mad Jack once before, and had their burgers...a value for money place rather than a fine dining establishment. But was surprised to see a wagyu steak offering, costing $ I had to order that.

The steak looked a bit thin...but aroma of beef was very mice. Cutting open, I found it to be just right medium done as specified, but no charring of the outside.

The steak was rather tender. Very nice flavour...and just short of bursting in the mouth as one bites into the meat. Rather nice, methots. My lunch companion thought it was rather good too, but a bit pricey.

We also had the fish and chips...initially we wanted to order the barramundi and chips, but the manager persuaded us to go for the Premium Fish and we did...

A rather ordinary looking fish and chips...two rather large battered fish slices with chips and a small salad. Cutting open revealed a rather nice crisp batter and light, flaky white fish within.

The fish meat on its own lacked flavour...with a bit of salt, it certainly did pick up, but the batter was very good...light, crisp, and only very lightly greasy.

As they served a lava cake, we tried that too...

As it was served, the chocholate lava was quivering...and cutting open the thin crust...not really a crust, but skin like, the hot chocolate lava burst open. Very liquid...not oozing slowly like I wished it would. Taste wise, it was ok, tasting rather like molten chocolate. No ice cream was offered as an option.

We moved next to Scoopz, a stall offering handmade ice cream, made in situ

Flavoured milk is poured into a shallow bowl, I guess with refrigeration below...and the staffer stirred it vigrously until it became ice cream.

We had the waffle with vanilla ice cream

The waffle was rather plain waffle...made also a la minute on the waffle iron. The crust was a crispy, cutting open to reveal a light batter within. The ice cream was a nice and cold counterpoint. I was expecting artisanal vanilla ice cream to have more punch in the vanilla department, but I guess that's why they call it plain did not draw attention to itself...making me wish more that the waffle was more spectacular. A bit of maple syrup on request did lift the taste somewhat, but still far from being spectacular.

The speciality of this little store was their lava cake too..and one had to be ordered...

The crust was much drier, and had a cake like consistency than the one at Mad Jack...cutting open, the hot lave oozed out like it should.

This lava cake was much better than the earlier one we had...and with the counterpoint provided by the cold ice cream to the hot lava allowed the chocholate flavour of the cake and molten interior to take on an added dimension. Quite nice, I must say.

Thanks to Cheryl Guzman from Creoadworld for the invitation.

Mad Jack and Scoopz
Ground floor
Parkway Parade, 80 Marine Parade Road

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fei Fei Wantan mee...traditional local fare.

Fei Fei Wantan mee has been in business for a long time...They have a turbulent past, with some dramas to be told, but today I write only about their noodles.

The noodles are supposedly hand made...with a traditional bamboo stick used to compress the noodles before feeding into a noodle machine to churn out the mee. The texture, when cooked is rather nice...a bit chewy, and done al dente. The sauce is a fragrant chicken stock, and is quite good.

The ingredients...some nicely done wantan...thin skin, nice meat within, with a few slices of lean char siew lay at the bottom. Mix it all up with the fragrant but not really hot chilli...go ahead, mix in lots of it, and the beginings of a good bowl of very traditional local wantan mee surfaces.

For me, this is the quintessential local styled wantan mee. I have grown to love this style and I love it as much as the traditional KL style dark sauce wantan mee, and the Hong Kong style wiry noodle wantan mee. All wonderful...variety makes the world interesting.

Fei Fei Wantan Mee
62 Joo Chiat Place
Sin Wah Coffeeshop

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ocean Seafood at Downtown East

As Edward is now serving his National Service in the Singapore Armed Forces, he makes weekly trips home from his BMTC Camp in Pulau Tekong...the Singapore civilian base being White Sands in Pasir Ris.

I sent him to his Book-in on Sunday, and the whole Pasir Ris Central was swarmed with National Servicemen. Couldn't find a place to park, we drove over to Downtown East. Many of the places were full, but I spied one less crowded queue when we arrived at 7:15pm. Halal seafood place.
Edward started with a fried rice, and had a craving for seafood...apparently they don't serve seafood in BMTC.

Baby squid, deep fried to a crisp. Not the best I have eaten, but quite acceptable. The squid was very nicely crispy, fragrant.
We also had some kangkong belachan

This is one of the better kangkongs I have eaten. The vegetable was very fresh and tender...cooked just right. The sambal could have a bit more punch, but was nice and fragrant.
And we had some sambal stingray

Again, the sambal lacked a bit of potency, but the stingray was quite fresh. Fat, sweet meat. Beautifully barbecued...a nice thin crisp, ever so slightly burnt skin, moist, tender meat within.
Overall, very nice...though I would expect the sambal to have a bit more kick...but the food was rather good.

Ocean Seafood
Downtown East
1 Pasir Ris Close