Wednesday, December 10, 2008

in hong kong . macau restaurant

Macau Restaurant
G/F 25 - 27 Lock Road

Tsim Sha Tsui

Hong Kong

Tel: 852 2366 8148

The family made a short visit to Hong Kong over the long weekend to celebrate Bro's birthday. It wasn't like he hit a milestone age or anything. I think it was just a good excuse to have a short break. I had a great time; just as I always do when I'm in HK. It was a welcomed break anyway since it's been quite chaotic at work recently.

We tried a couple of new places this time. We definitely didn't forget the family favourites as well. I've been to the Macau Restaurant at least twice before and both times I tried different things. I knew I had to visit for a third time when Bro started raving about this dish which I can only describe as pure comfort food.

Imagine this.

Minced Beef. Sauteed Onions & Potatoes. Luncheon Meat. Sunny Side-Up.

Mix all of the above in a BIG bowl with rice then plant yourself on the sofa in front of the TV whilst hugging the bowl.

I didn't do that of course even though I wished I did. It was still delicious even though I was seated at a little table in the cha chan teng. I would definitely order this again on my next visit. Next time though, I'd been having one to myself.

We also ordered the Grilled Sardines on Mom's request as she really enjoyed this dish on her last visit. They really do quite a good job with the grilling I must say. The fish was still kept very moist and tender. The sauteed garlic and a splash of lemon juice added a good fragrance to the dish and made it complete.

We also had the Portuguese Chicken which was excellent too. The chicken was tender and the sauce resembled a mild curry but yet it doesn't seem to have any curry powder in it. I could only tell that coconut milk went into the dish to make it rich and creamy. It was really hard to pinpoint what else was in the sauce so I gave up midway and decided to just enjoy its good flavours.

The meal was satisfying even though we didn't have much. We couldn't anyway since it was already 11pm and I had finished my dinner at another cha chan teng just 2 hours earlier. That explains why I couldn't order the Deep Fried Squid even though it's a dish that I adore deeply. The squid is never overcooked and is great with the wasabi mayonnaise that comes with it.

More on that
cha chan teng dinner later.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

australia eats. aussie breakfasts

I woke up this morning craving for a big breakfast. Actually, I was thinking of more of a big Aussie breakfast.

I always find the continental breakfast selections in SG a little limited. It could be that I don't get out enough for breakfasts since I'm always either at work during the weekdays or I'm spending weekend family time having hawker favourites. In SG, I find PS Café to be reminiscent of the Aussie breakfasts but still it doesn't hit the exact spot. These pics will show you just exactly what I'm talking about.

Top left: The Full Monty
Top right: Pesto Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Avocado
Bottom left: Pea & Bacon Soup with Ham & Cheese Toasties
Bottom right: French Toast with Bananas and Bacon

Melbourne's streets are filled with cafés and it's not difficult to find a good one. Al fresco dining helps too cos I can always take peeks at what people are eating. We had this breakfast at one of the more crowded cafés around the St. Kilda's Beach area, of which the name I cannot remember. Nonetheless, the food was excellent. Just what I needed to jumpstart my day at that time as it was quite cold that morning.

The Full Monty (also known as the big breakfast) had all the works but it was usual fare. I thought the Pesto Scrambled Eggs was an interesting idea cos pesto conventionally is used with pasta. The combination of the smoked salmon and fresh avocado really worked well together too. The other interesting thing we ordered was the French Toast with Bananas and Bacon. It was for me; the one who couldn't decide between savoury or sweet. It was really good too. Who knew that bacon, bananas and maple syrup could pair up so nicely? I thought however, that the winner here was the Pea and Bacon Soup. From the first day I arrived in Melbourne, I had been craving for some of that thick creamy soup to warm myself up. I found the exact antidote for my craving at morning. I could have done with more of the ham and cheese toasties on the side though cos everyone tried to get those from me!

This post is making me hungry. It's past lunch and I'm still thinking about what I could have had this morning. Whatever it is, just don't forget to hit the local cafés to get a taste of the Aussie breakfast if you visit Melbourne or any other parts of Australia. Breakfasts may never be the same again after you've had some.

Friday, November 14, 2008

australia eats. bistro vue

Bistro Vue
430 Little Collins Street - Normandy Chambers
Melbourne Vic 3000
Tel: 613 9691 3838
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday; 11am until late

Before leaving for Melbourne & Sydney, Sis had asked Bro and I to list the places we wanted to go to. I honestly did not contribute much to the list because there were just too many places to visit, too little time. There was one place though that I kept reminding Sis to make a reservation for; Bistro Vue.

Those who know a bit about the Australian food scene would most likely be familiar with Shannon Bennett, the man behind the famous fine dining outlet, Vue de Monde; ranked as the 76th best restaurant in the world and just 1 rank higher than Singapore's finest, Iggy's. It is also 1 of the 3 Australian restaurants and the only restaurant in Melbourne to make it to the list. The 2 others are namely Tetsuya's and Rockpool in Sydney.

We settled on having lunch at Bistro Vue, the more casual sibling of Vue de Monde. Unlike Vue de Monde where the decor is clean, simple and classy, entering Bistro Vue felt like I stepped into a home in the rustic French countryside. It was a small space but yet it didn't feel cramp due to the high ceilings. The service was typically French; a tad snooty but adequate. The lunch crowd leaned towards working professionals. The food served was nothing short of excellent.

For appetizers, we ordered the steak tartare, the french onion soup and the terrine of rabbit to share. My favourite among the 3 was the steak tartare. Instead of grounding the meat like how most places serve steak tartare, Bistro Vue serves theirs with their beef finely diced. I found that this made a big difference in the whole texture of the dish as serving the diced meat gave it more crunch. It was simply addictive.

Steak Tartare

Of the 3, I didn't take much of a fancy towards the french onion soup. As much as I loved the sweet onions, flaky pastry and the gruyère cheese topping, I found the beer in the soup too overpowering. I thought it might be better if they had toned the alcohol down a bit but that's just my personal taste because I have never been big on alcohols.

French Onion Soup flavoured with Beer, topped with Gruyère

When the terrine of rabbit arrived at the table, I was impressed. The colourful layers captured my attention. The first thing we all tried to do was to decipher the different layers. We couldn't. It was tasty and was really nice with the brioche but I couldn't taste the rabbit in it. The pistachio mousse didn't come through as well as it was mostly covered by the taste of the foie gras. It was still enjoyable though.

Terrine of Rabbit with Foie Gras & Pistachio Mousse

While the appetisers were delicious, it was really the entrees that really shined. The only entree that didn't really bode well was the Barramundi Bourguignon. The fish was smothered with the overpowering red wine sauce covering the whole flavour of the fish itself. I thought that was its downfall. Dad's order of the Chargrilled Wagyu Rump was good choice but was far from being adventurous.

Barramundi Bourguignon

Chargrilled 250gm Grain Fed Wagyu Rump Cap

The Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust was an excellent choice. The pork was so tender that the meat started falling apart the moment we dug our fork into it. It was very well marinated and moist as well. The three cheese crust gave the roast pork a nice lift to its taste. Bro's order of the Pied de Cochon, also known as Pig Trotters, was the special of the day. To be honest, it looked rather intimidating when it first arrived at the table. Again, the meat which was cooked with red wine was tender and falling off the bone. There was also chicken mousse stuffed right in the centre of the pig's trotters which I found to be delicious and rather special.

Gratin of Pork with Three Cheese Crust, Glazed Beetroots

Pied de Cochon

The Shellfish Risotto which D ordered was one of the best risottos I've ever tasted. It was rich with seafood flavours. In fact, it tasted almost like risotto cooked in lobster bisque. D found his dish to be extremely appetising. I seconded that as I found myself reaching across the table to steal spoonfuls of risotto from his plate.

Shellfish Risotto, Orange Reduction

My order of the Lamb Wellington reminded me of Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay always gave grief to the contestants on the cooking of beef wellingtons. They were often overcooked or undercooked. Chef Ramsay would have been a happy camper if he had the chef of Bistro Vue on his show because the lamb wellington was cooked to a perfect pink. The only gripe here would have been that the portion was simply too small! The red pepper on the side was stuffed with lentils which had been cooked with some indian spices. It was especially good when eaten together with the lamb.

Lamb Wellington Provençal

We were very full at the end of our entrees but couldn't leave knowing that we didn't try out their desserts. We ordered 2 in the end; the Chestnut Parfait and the Crème Brûlée. The crème brûlée was smooth and creamy, the way it should be. Not surprisingly, I loved the chestnut mousse sandwiched between the honeycomb wafers as I've always had a penchant for chestnuts. All in all, both were the perfect ending to a satisfying meal.

Chestnut Parfait with Walnuts & Honey

Crème Brûlée

If I was asked whether I'd return to Bistro Vue again, I'd raise both arms into the air and nod my head violently. In fact, I've recommended this place to 2 friends who had since visited Melbourne after me. After my visit to Bistro Vue and having had such wonderful food, I'm really curious about how good or how much better is the food at Vue de Monde.

If you're dying to try a bit of Vue de Monde after reading this, pop down to the National Museum. From the last I read, it's supposed to be rebranded and renamed as Vue by Shannon Bennett. Bennett will be the consultant chef there and apparently one of his main chefs from Melbourne will be flown in to helm the kitchen here. If Bistro Vue's food is anything to go by, I'd say that we are going to have winner on our local shores real soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

class number one.

I had loads of fun at class yesterday. Whipped up 2 dishes after picking up some basic knife skills.

Left: Prawn & Vegetables Broth with Saffron
Right: Pan-fried Chicken with Sauteed Potatoes & Vegetables

I can't wait for Saturday to come.

back on the table.

After so many failed attempts... Mum finally managed to get the family's favourite early this morning from the Chinatown market.

Welcome back. We missed you.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

shin yeh . the new kid on the block

Shin Yeh Restaurant
177 River Valley Road
#02-19 Liang Court Shopping Center
Tel: 65 6338 7337

It's always nice to see some place new and fresh in the food industry.

Shin Yeh, a joint venture between Singapore's very own Tung Lok Group and Taipei-based Shin Yeh which opened its doors earlier this month specialises in Taiwanese cuisine. I personally find Shin Yeh a welcomed addition to the Singapore food scene because I doubt that many are familiar with Taiwanese cuisine due to a lack of local presence.

I thought the food was pretty delicious. They have a rather extensive menu, ranging from the expensive delicacies such as shark's fin to "dressed-up" street food such as popiah. We opted to try mostly the house specialities that night. The steamed pork with salted egg yolk and the roasted mullet roe really stood out for me. The salt from both dishes really went well with a bowl of sweet potato porridge. The oyster omelette sans starch was rather commendable as well.

Shin Yeh will be starting their supper service pretty soon. For those who enjoy having the Taiwanese porridge late night buffet at some hotels will find that they have a new alternative dining place to feed their tummies. I expect to see quite a number of Taiwanese dining there since there aren't many Taiwanese restaurants in town (none of the same standard I believe). Whether the dishes are authentic or not, I have no idea. I just know that I'd be back to sample more of Shin Yeh's best very soon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

australia eats. chocolate cafés

Lindt Chocolat Café
104 - 105 Cockle Bay Wharf

Darling Harbour

Sydney, Australia

Tel: 612 9267 8064


Max Brenner

Shop 2187 Level 2 Westfield

159-175 Church Street

Parramatta NSW 2150

Sydney, Australia

Tel: 61 2 9635 7566


Darling Harbour is a part of Sydney's city landscape which I like very much. Somehow or rather, just being there; whether I am looking at the clear waters or watching the people go by, makes me feel very peaceful and happy.

During my visit to Sydney about 2 months back, I was back at Darling Harbour and found myself sitting at Lindt Chocolat Café. Surely many are familiar with the world famous brand of chocolate but I believe this café concept for Lindt in Sydney is a first in the world. Seems like chocolate cafés thrive in Australia having seen successes in Max Brenner and Guylian.

D & I spent close to 2 hours sitting around enjoying the hot chocolates we ordered. I'm not usually a huge chocolate fan but I must say that I was won over by the richness & the smoothness of the chocolate. That being said, the cold weather did really help to make the hot chocolate so much more comforting than it already was.

I really liked how the hot chocolate was served to our table as well. It was sort of a DIY hot chocolate; we were given an empty cup, a cup of melted chocolate and a little jug of hot steamed milk. We could decide how much chocolate or milk we wanted to put and how rich we wanted it to taste which suited me really well.

It was quite a different story at Max Brenner. Firstly, they didn't have as beautiful a location as Lindt at the Darling Harbour. However, there was a whole lot more of variety in their chocolate beverages. They also had quite a number of nice desserts such as waffles as compared to the more classic cakes served at Lindt. I had the nice hot white chocolate beverage with crunchy chocolate wafer balls called 'Choco-Pops'. It was really nice and comforting but a tad sweet and milky just because it was white chocolate that was in it; not any fault of theirs.

If one is looking for that DIY factor similar to what you get at Lindt, Max Brenner has one called 'Suckao'. The 'suckao' is actually a utensil that is designed as a stirrer and a straw for sipping the chocolate all up. Rather interesting and worth a try in my opinion just for novelty's sake. Taste aside, I especially love the mugs they use to put their regular hot chocolate in. Known as 'hug mugs', they're meant to be held in the palms of both hands, almost like hugging the mugs. They retail these mugs in their shop and I think they make fantastic gifts for friends.

That's about it from me here. I'm not going to start going into details about how good the quality of the chocolates are. To be honest, I really don't know how to differentiate between good and better chocolate because I'm not really a chocolate connoisseur to begin with. All I know is when I'm back in Sydney, I won't be missing out on return visits to both cafés.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

happy birthday d!

It's D's bday today so Mum cooked some birthday mee sua for him today. Family tradition.

She tried out using mee sua from Xiamen which was much finer than what we're used to having. Texture was somewhat reminiscent of the outer layer of the dragon beard candy. Had a sneak tasting and thought it wasn't too bad because it wasn't clumpy and starchy like the usual. That aside...


I'm over the moon now cos I just won a bet on the winner of the Shanghai Grand Prix. Yay for Hamilton and free lunch tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

jamie oliver's Pass It On movement.

I really enjoy Jamie Oliver's recipes. His programmes are always a joy to watch just cos he always presents his food in such a casual way that makes cooking easy and fun. I also admire his efforts in making a difference to people's lives through food; setting up the Fifteen Foundation to help disadvantaged youngsters such as the homeless, unemployed and those suffering from alcoholism and drug problems so that they may build successful careers in the kitchen.

He has always made it his mission to make sure that people eat right. One example was when he started going into schools to attempt to change the food that kids ate so that they'd stop eating all the junk and processed foods. Honestly, I was thrown off when I saw that schools in Britain were providing all that processed and unhealthy food to kids at such a tender age. I think Singaporean parents will flip if their children were fed that way in school.

Jamie Oliver is now embarking on a new project called the Pass It On movement. It works like the 'pay it forward' concept. Basically, this is to inspire people to get started on cooking and making food from scratch. After one has learnt a recipe, the idea is to pass it on and teach 2 other people to prepare the same dish. If it works, it should create a ripple effect. Theoretically, it should work but it really is tough work to get people started. Nonetheless, I hope that Jamie O's hard work to make a difference will pay off eventually.

Since I've been trying to spend more time in the kitchen and hope to share more recipes here on my blog, I've signed up for this movement and I hope you all will too. You may register at I may not be doing this in the same way as how Jamie Oliver had designed it but at least, I'm doing my little bit. So, let's all join in for the cause. Who knows, you might discover your talent in the kitchen.

Have fun you all!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

F1 weekend cookout.

The past weekend has really been an exciting and 'quick' one. Quick... geddit??

Anyways, D and I decided to stay in on Sunday to catch all the F1 action. The plan was initially to just order pizza in so that our eyes would be glued to the goggle box but a quick shop around the Holland V. area got us into the kitchen again. We bought sausages from The Butcher at Chip Bee Gardens for a simple pasta. They really have a good selection of sausages there. We decided on the Mexican Jalepeno Sausages on one of the staff's recommendation since we wanted something with a lot of spices in it.

After we got home, we headed straight to prepping for our 2 dishes. D for his sausage pasta and my Tomato Crisp. I must say that I was really proud of his efforts. D has always been my companion at the dining table and I'm really glad that he's taken to spending time in the kitchen recently. The pasta dish is really easy and mighty quick to whip up. Have a go at it!

Aglio Olio with Bell Peppers & Mexican Jalepeno Sausages (serves 4)

300g dried pasta; spaghetti or linguine
1 medium sized red pepper, diced
1 medium sized yellow pepper, diced
3 Mexican jalepeno sausages; skinned
4 cloves garlic, chopped
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
  • Boil the dried pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to the time stated on the package of the pasta. i.e. If it has a '7' stated on the packaging, cook the pasta for approximately 7 minutes. The pasta should be al dente.
  • In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil and saute the meat from the sausages, breaking them up into pieces. Remove from the heat when it is about 90% cooked.
  • In the same pan used for frying up the meat, heat up some additional olive oil and saute the chopped garlic until it turns slightly golden brown. Add the diced red and yellow bell peppers and saute until it turns slightly soft. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Add in the pre-cooked sausage meat and saute for around 1 minute.
  • Remove pasta from the boiling water and throw straight into the saute pan to toss with the meat and peppers. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Remove pasta from the heat and sprinkle chopped parsley on pasta before serving.

I also contributed to dinner by baking a Tomato Crisp, a dish I learnt from watching Chef at Home on the Asian Food Channel. I love that programme because Michael Smith's recipes are casual and easy to follow although I do find his way of talking a little unnatural. I wish I had a well stocked kitchen like his though. This dish is somewhat like a cooked bruschetta. It's super duper delicious and I'm sure it'd be a family hit just as it was in mine.

Tomato Crisp (serves 4)

1 box mixed red and yellow plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes; halved
1/2 large white onion; diced
7 - 8 cloves garlic; chopped
1/2 loaf crusty bread; torn into pieces
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
parmesan cheese; shaved
  • Pre-heat oven at approximately 220℃.
  • In a baking dish, combine the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and ensure that the tomatoes are all coated with the olive oil.
  • Tear the crusty bread into pieces and place them on top of the tomatoes. Try to get each piece of bread to have the crust only on one side so that you can a mixture of the crust and bread when eating it.
  • Drizzle more olive oil on top of the bread. This is to make sure that the bread will brown and crisp nicely in the oven.
  • Shave a generous amount of parmesan cheese using a vegetable peeler and lay on top of the bread covering all areas.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. The cheese should brown, bread turn crispy, onions and tomatoes soft and well-cooked.
Hope everyone had fun watching the race last night. I sure did. I never knew that an F1 race would be so exciting to watch; full of ups and downs. Alonso drove a fantastic race and I think his win was really deserving. Unfortunately, since neither Massa nor Hamilton won the race, D and I won't be expecting to have our celebratory sushi lunch soon. Bugger.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hong Kong Char Siew

I always look forward to the 'Taste' section on The Sunday Times. I personally find that there's always something interesting to read about. Lately, D & I have been looking out for their recipes. Tan Hsueh Yun, who also writes the food column for Urban, wrote about her own experiment with Char Siew about 3 weeks back. D kept pestering me to give this recipe a try since it looked pretty simple, plus the fact that he's a char siew lover.

D was right. The recipe was easy and most importantly, it tasted great. If you're looking for the local version of char siew that is loaded with red colouring, this ain't it. What you get here is the Hong Kong version of char siew which is sweeter and without any of that artificial colouring.


500g pork shoulder butt (also known as 五花肉) or pork neck


1 tsp salt

3 Tbs sugar

1 Tbs canola or vegetable oil

1 Tbs hoisin sauce

1 Tbs zhu hou sauce

3 Tbs light soy sauce

1 Tbs meiguilu jiu or shaoxing wine

1 Tbs grated ginger
125g maltose or honey

2 medium-sized shallots, finely chopped


2 Tbs maltose or honey
  • Cut the pieces of shoulder butt or neck into pieces of approx. 4 inches in length, 2 inches in width. Let your butcher know that you're buying it for char siew and they should know how to cut it for you. Rinse under running water, pat dry and leave to drain whilst making the marinade.
  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade into a microwaveable bowl and place in the microwave on high for around 20 seconds or until maltose is soft before whisking to combine. The maltose would be difficult to whisk together if it wasn't left in the microwave long enough. 20 seconds should be sufficient if you're using honey.
  • Place the pieces of pork in a container, pour the marinade over ensuring that it coats the pork. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight for better results.
  • Preheat the oven to 230 deg C at least 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile, arrange for a metal rack to be placed on a tray for placing of the pork. Line the baking tray with parchment paper or aluminium foil to collect the liquid as a lot of it will be removed from the meat during the roasting process.
  • Remove pork from marinade, pat lightly to remove excess marinade with paper towels and arrange the pieces on the rack.
  • Place the pork in the oven after the oven is pre-heated. Roast the pork for 15 minutes at a time on each side. Remove from oven. Turn the pork, brush with maltose or honey and return to the over for 3 minutes. After which, turn the meat again, glaze and roast for 2 more minutes.
  • Remove from oven, leave the pork to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Both cuts of meat are great for char siew. However, if you like something more fatty and a texture that's more chewy, go for the pork neck. Since the shoulder is a leaner cut, take care not to overlook it lest the meat turns out dry.

The recipe initially called for a mou see cheong which the writer eventually substituted with crushed salted soy beans. A quick check with my colleague from HK led me to use zhu hou sauce which is less salty. You should be able to find this in Chinatown.

You should be able to get meiguilu jiu, a kind of liquor flavoured with rose, from your neighbourhood supermarket. Look out for the Double Dog brand.

I suggest using maltose in the marinade but honey for the glaze. Maltose has a much milder taste and wouldn't make the marinade overly sweet. If you'd still like to use honey for the marinade since it's so much easier to handle than the stiff sticky substance, you could consider cutting back a little on the amount. Using honey as the glaze gives it a much better flavour at the end. You don't have to stick to the 2 Tbs. I basically just applied sufficiently over the meat so that it can caramelise nicely in the heat.

I used one of those cookers where a direct heat is applied on the meat during roasting. I only cooked it for about 10 to 12 minutes on each side since it cooks much faster. The results were great. Adjust your cooking time according to your cooking method.

Give this recipe a try and you'll be hooked like me. I made this 3 times last week.

The original recipe is available here if you need it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

australian eats . what I miss most

Whiteapple Café
Shop 11, Regent's Place Shopping Mall

501 George Street (Next to Town Hall Station)

Sydney, NSW

I've had so many enjoyable eats during my trip to Australia this time that I'm not even sure where I should start. Anyhow I decided to go with what I miss the most; green tea cappuccino.

2 days after I returned home, I was scurrying around for a replacement. OChaCha, a green tea themed café at Raffles City Shopping Centre was my first stop. It was already different right from the beginning. For starters, they served a green latte instead of cappuccino which meant that there was more milk. Moreover, they served me a watered down version, skimping on the most vital green tea powder. I left disappointed.

The next day, I found myself at Starbucks ordering a green tea latte. This fared much better than what I had tasted the day before but still wasn't as good as what I've tasted in Sydney. Firstly, it was the larger amount of milk that diluted the taste of the green tea. Secondly, Starbucks uses sugar syrup as a sweetener whereas the green tea cappuccino I had in Sydney was nicely flavoured with honey.

Whiteapple Café is set up with a healthy concept in mind by 2 Koreans. On its menu, one would find mostly green tea products. Besides the delicious green tea cappuccino, there are other green tea beverages on the board although I can't really recall what they are. If you're having a green tea beverage, don't forget to order the pistachio finger to go along as they are great complements. Apparently, the pistachio fingers are brought in daily from a famous Italian café nearby.

They also serve a soft serve yoghurt which is similar to what you can get at Yoguru or Frolick here. I always find the ones here too sweet but Whiteapple's green tea yoghurt is really light and much smoother and finer in texture than the versions here.

I miss the intensity of the green tea powder in the steamed milk, the smoothness and warmth of the green tea cappuccino and the chill of the cold Sydney winter. For now though, I guess I'll have to do with my Starbucks no fat green tea latte with an extra scoop of green tea powder.

Monday, September 08, 2008

tasting @ 2am : dessert bar

2am : dessert bar
21A Lorong Liput

Holland Village

Tel: 65 6291 9727


Time really flies.

About a year ago, I won a lucky draw prize at the food bloggers' dinner; a dessert tasting session for 2 at a newly opened dessert bar. Almost a year later, I'm sitting at the bar counter of 2am Dessert Bar looking at chef owner, Janice and her colleagues at work, carefully creating each plate of dessert and making them into pieces of art.

We started with the Cheese Avalanche, a dessert that's served in a way to display a different texture from the usual cheesecake. It was served together with fruit & nut biscotti, rockmelon and if I remember correctly, a sauce made of dates. I've been staying off cheesecakes for a while now because I always find them too heavy after a meal. This dessert on the other hand, was light, not too sweet and in fact, had a little salty taste which I liked very much. I personally found that eating the cheese with the crispy biscotti and the date sauce was the best way to enjoy it because it provided a really nice texture in the mouth. The 2 pieces of rockmelon didn't do much for me though. In fact, I thought it might have been better if it was replaced by a fruit that had a bit of sourness to it.

The 2nd dessert was Chocolate, a warm chocolate tart served with a blood orange sorbet and salted caramel. I liked this dessert a whole lot although I'm not the greatest fan of chocolate. The bitterness from the nice warm tart went really nicely with the sweetness and the slight sourness from the sorbet. My favourite part though, was the salted caramel. Salted caramel is becoming rather popular as more and more people use it in their desserts. The salted caramel ice cream at Tom's Palette is delicious and worth a try for those who haven't. Back to 2am. Both desserts I really enjoyed and I realised that a lot of attention must have been put in to make sure that there was texture and balanced flavours in each course.

Janice and her team have done really well with this place. The decor is modern and chic, yet at the same time cosy. Those who like to sit and rest comfortably, there are reclining couches to sit on. Those who like to watch the people at work behind the busy counter, a seat at the bar counter would be perfect. If you like it quieter, come in before 10pm as the crowds start to stream in after. The feel totally changes from 10pm. It's somewhat like a transformation from a dessert café to a bar if you know what I mean so I guess Janice definitely got the name of her place right.

I think Singapore needs more places like 2am dessert bar. Not exactly the same thing of course, but something else that marks a spot in our competitive local F & B industry. For now though, I'm hoping that 2am sticks around for a really long time. With their hard work, dedication and creativity, I think they deserve that.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


I was out and there was a birthday voucher that was about to expire so the parents sadly left me out of a nice dinner to Club Chinois tonight.

Mum found out too late that the voucher was meant to be used at The China Club instead.
They had a nice dinner nonetheless.

So I now have the pleasure of having a buffet brunch at The China Club tomorrow morning.
Lucky me.


- Update -
The view from the 52nd floor of Capitol Tower was spectacular. The food though, was very ho-hum.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

back up from down under.

Am back in town and I have lots to share about my trip to Down Under.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

bday @ the beach.

OK. Not quite birthday at the beach. After a long break from themed parties, YA and I decided to put a theme to our bday celebrations this year just to spice things up a little. It was quite hectic cos everything was only put together a week before the party and there seemed like a whole load of stuff to organise, people to contact, food to cook and so on. 

Luckily, everything worked out well in the end. I managed to borrow some props from colleagues and friend's colleagues; hammocks, kids' beach toys and even a baby pool! D also had ideas to go all out and bought balloons and more decorations. It turned out looking like a party for 5 year olds actually. Of course YA and I are far from being 5 but it's probably the 'getting older' thing. You want to get younger as you grow older (I know I'm not just speaking for ourselves here). Playing dress up was pretty easy for everyone. I even managed to wear something that was stuck deep in my wardrobe for a long time (Thank God!). 

I think YA & D did really well with the set up here. You think?

It was pretty easy to prepare the food this time considering that there weren't any major recipes to stick by except for the dessert. Started with some raw carrot and celery sticks served with a store-bought roasted capsicum dip, biscuits, salami and garlic cheese. 

That was subsequently followed by roasted garlic potato wedges with a lemon, rosemary & salt seasoning. First tried this Jamie Oliver recipe last year with Wen at Liz's place and it really tasted great so I thought it would make a nice snack for the guests. 

Things warmed up pretty well by the time the pepperoni pizza hit the table. Thanks to Uncle Wee for his nice tomato base, I managed to create a nice thin crust pizza. Conversations were flowing, food was making its way out of the kitchen and friends were getting quite a bit of bubbly. There was of course the typical beach beer; Corona with lime. I also made a lemon & basil soda ala PS Cafe. Really didn't take much time and cost much money since I had so much basil growing at home. 

It was honestly a little tedious putting the star of the night, the burger, together since there were so many ingredients to take care of. The beef patties, bacon and sunny-side ups had to be pan-fried, onion rings to be deep-fried, lettuce and tomatoes to slice. It was fun though cos I arranged it in such a way that people could put their own burger together, just the way they liked it. It was really delicious if I must say so myself. The spicy mayonnaise which was the burger sauce and the runny egg yolk in the case of my burger really made things messy but tasted so good with the rest of the ingredients. 

I made a fruit cobbler for dessert that night. Was really easy to make and turned out pretty well although I thought it was going to be a failure at the beginning. It was served with vanilla ice cream which really contrasted well with the sourness of the cooked fruits but I guess most were too full from the food and the cakes to finish up the cobbler. 

This is the second time I've put together a bday cookout thing. I remember it was just a year back when I cooked for a party of 8. That was the first time I've ever cooked for more than 4. Of course I took baby steps. First it was 3, then 4, then 8 and this time 12. It was tough running in the out the kitchen whilst trying to interact with my friends but it was really worth it. 

Many ask me why I work so hard when it should be me getting the day off cos of my bday. It is hard work I don't deny but the satisfaction and experience I gain far outweighs the effort that is put in. The only thing I have to complain about is that I miss out on quite a number of conversations with friends since I'm not always around. I guess it works out that there's always YA celebrating his bday with me. I take care of the food; he takes care of the crowd, something he's always been good at. 

I would say that the party was a success. Mum did a great deal of helping out too otherwise my friends would have had supper and not dinner. Thanks also to my friends for their presence, the nice surprise gift and the cake from my favourite patisserie. 

It's exciting just thinking about a new idea for next year. It might be too early but still... 'til then!

p/s: I must make special mention that if not for it, there may not have been fine weather and the party would have gone down to the dogs. So I'm paying tribute to it here and I'm saying it now and will say it for as long as it works. I BELIEVE!

Friday, August 08, 2008

a new spot. privé bakery café.

privé bakery café
No. 2 Keppel Bay Vista
Marina at Keppel Bay
Tel: 65 6776 0777

Having heard good comments about this place brought me there one fine Sat afternoon with D. As we drove on the bridge, crossing from the mainland to Keppel Island made me feel like I was going somewhere faraway. Somewhat anyways. 

True enough, it did feel like I wasn't in Singapore when I found my seat at the bakery cafe. Just 10 minutes before, I was getting irritated with the crowd at VivoCity. 10 minutes later, I'm sitting down, taking in the breeze and enjoying the tranquility of the surroundings. I liked that.

Food is rather reasonably priced, clean and simple. I had a Chicken & Mushroom Pie which I thought was delicious. The pastry, always my favourite part of a pie, was crispy yet light and fluffy. They were also pretty generous with the ingredients in the pie.

This is a perfect hangout spot especially for girly talk. Might be quite inconvenient if one doesn't drive though cos it is a distance to walk to the island. Of course you also have to cross your fingers that you don't get seated next to loud talking aunties/uncles or someone who takes off his shoes and starts scratching it cos that will just totally throw everything out the window. 

Lucky for me, I was about to leave when that started. So I say this now. I will be back again.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

uniquely mikuni.

That was the slogan that was used to represent Mikuni's style of cooking when he was in town a while back during the World Gourmet Summit (WGS) where I had the honour of tasting his culinary creations. I have to say that I was pretty blown away and the dinner at Club Chinois, where Mikuni was hosted, was one of the most memorable for me in a long time.

For those who are unfamiliar, Chef Kiyomi Mikuni is one of Tokyo's highest rated chefs. Currently chef owner of Hotel de Mikuni, he is well-known for his blend of French and Japanese cuisine. Born in a small town in Hokkaido, Mikuni headed to France and trained under three-star Michelin chef Alain Chapel. He went on to Geneva and honed his skills before returning to Japan to set up his own establishment.

The delicious 8-course dinner presented during the WGS consisted mostly of his dishes served at his Shinjuku restaurant, Hotel de Mikuni.

Tartar of tuna "tataki", with poached quail egg dressed with vinaigrette of avocado oil & soy sauce "yuzu" flavour

Having always been a fan of anything made tataki-style, it was no surprise that I really liked this dish. It was nicely dressed and the quail egg mixed in with the tuna created a creamy-like texture which contrasted well with the crunchy slices of radish. Blame it on my 'not so sharp' tongue but I wasn't really able to figure out the avocado oil. My main grouse for this dish was that the fish wasn't chilled enough. It was nice that they paid attention to the detail of having the fish served on a chilled plate but it really would have been better if the tuna was served at a lower temperature. Despite that, I still think this dish was nicely done.

Consommé of garoupa "umami"

Although this was D's favourite course, it was rather pedestrian in my opinion. Needless to say that the garoupa was fresh and the consommé tasted very much like dobinmushi actually. What was good though was that the lightness of this dish was a good contrast to the heaviness of the next dish on the menu.

Foie gras and "Fukahire" risotto, Perigueux sauce

This was a dish that caught me by surprise. A combination of the rich, creamy foie gras and the usual Chinese banquet staple, shark's fin, also known as fukahire in Japanese was just something I never imagined to be so perfect. Shark's fin on its own is usually tasteless which boded well since the foie gras was already very rich and flavourful. The pan-fried shark's fin with its slightly gooey texture and crispiness added a nice contrast from the oiliness from the foie gras as well. The al dente risotto really helped also in balancing the flavours of the dish. This course was rich and 'oh so good'. I absolutely loved it!

Lobster soufflé with sauternes butter and American sauce

After the dinner when Sam Leong, Director of Kitchens with the Tung Lok Group came round to introduce Chef Mikuni, he asked which courses did we like. I pointed out that this course was my favourite of the night. If it were entirely up to me, I'd remove 'umami' from the garoupa consommé and put that 'umami' tag on this because that was what it was to me. If I really had to describe it, I'd say the lightness of the soufflé, the fresh piece of lobster right in the middle and sauce which basically tasted like lobster bisque were great complements to each other.  

Halfway through and I was already pretty much blown away.
On with the rest which I thought paled a little in comparison with the first half of the dinner.

Half-cooked salmon , confite endive with green lemon

If I had to be honest, this was the course that I didn't enjoy most. Somehow, I just couldn't get used to the sourness of the whole dish probably from the endives. The only thing they got right here in my opinion, was the half-cooked salmon.

Roasted young pigeon and braised cabbage with garlic

I was glad that I still had this dish and didn't end on a "sour" note. The pigeon was very enjoyable; tender and tasty. However, I realised the name of the dish particularly mentioned 'braised cabbage' when it was actually the assortment of mushrooms that left me with the deeper impression. All in all, a good ending before we started on the sweets.

"Kuzu" jelly with seasonal fruits and glaced chestnut

This was the first and lighter of the 2 desserts we had for the evening. Honestly, this was just OK. I much preferred the rock melon ice cream that came along with this.  Reminded me of the Haagen Daas version which I like very much though that one we had that night was not as sweet.

Grape Marquise

I preferred this dessert but I thought it was a little too heavy for me since I was pretty stuffed by then. Not usually a big chocolate fan but I liked the pairing of the mousse and the chocolate here. All in all, a good ending to the fantastic meal I had.

I had a great time savouring the food of Mikuni that night. As we left the restaurant, D asked me. "Did Mikuni cook this all himself?". Surely not, but his question got me thinking. A lot of thought must have been put in to pair shark's fin and foie gras together to create a dish. I have no doubt that we have good chefs in our tiny island. However, do we have the innovation to push culinary boundaries?

I'm definitely going to miss Mikuni. I wonder if we'll ever meet again.