Saturday, September 30, 2006

This is the Song of India

The Song of India
33 Scotts Road
Tel: 6836-0055

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
foie gras

Milind Sovani has brought Indian food to another level. The former executive chef of Rang Mahal, which was famed for haute Indian cuisine and lobster tandoori, left that kitchen and started his own restaurant about nearly a year ago.

Song of India opened and the food critics sang its praises. Foodie friends alike spoke highly of the food and overlooked the patchy service for its food. I recently made my way there, and I echo their sentiments, the food is big on flavour and exhilarating but the service is no more than a vehicle to get plates to your table.

A spread from the tandoori menu is a must with the specially built tandooir kitchen in the restaurant. The salmon, lamb and chicken tandoori were chunky pieces of smoky, spicy and succulent meat that were seasoned for an end result of subtle taste. Foie gras, a ingredient that is rarely associated with Indian cuisine also makes an appearance on the menu. Solvani’s take on foie gras might almost seem sacrilegious—it is neither pan-fried for a crisp on the outside and 3 different texture effect nor transformed into a terrine, instead it is roughly chopped or mashed and seasoned. I nearly gawked at the plate, but after tasting it, it works and still tasted luxurious sliding down my throat, if anything it offers an interesting interpretation.

For the next part of our meal, we broke and dipped our various pieces of naan into bowls of a luxurious stew of lamb shanks, goan fish curry, chicken tikka masala and creamy black dhal. Order also the okra, which is like nothing I have tasted before. The okra is finely shredded, lightly spiced, deep-fried and then sprinkled with salt, a perfect contrast to the heavier and hearty bowls that were set before us.

We then finished off with the house chocolate cake (can’t remember the exact name), which was a tad too sweet for me, but a nice way to finish anyway.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Maxwell Market - Maxed on Rice

Usually on a weekday, I try to watch the amount of carbohydrates I have for lunch as a preemptive for the next few hours at my work desk would be an uphill struggle. So since it was the weekend and there was nothing much planned for the rest of the day other than to stretch out on the bed after lunch to recharge for the next week, the limited carbohydrate rule didn’t stand but what took place for lunch today was a little too extreme.

I went to Maxwell and I totally maxed out on rice, 3 very delicious portions of it. The first was hainanese curry rice with a portion of pork chops. The pork chops were well seasoned and crisp, but I prefer the thick curry combination at Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice where it was thicker and richer. The second tasting portion of rice was claypot rice. Wonderful crunchy bits of burnt rice wearing a rich gloss of dark sauce with fresh tasting pieces of chicken and slices of sweet lup cheong, yummy! Finally, we had chicken rice from madam foo’s Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall, which legendary in terms of the number of accolades that she has gathered after for her 40 years of labour in this craft. Her chicken is succulent and has a lovely layer of jelly inbetween its skin and meat and the chilli is very punchy.

Rice, rice and more rice: Hainanese curry rice with pork chops, claypot rice and chicken rice. “Have you eaten you rice?”

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Butter Cake + Hand Mashed Bananas

Before I even owned a cook book, the book I knew where I could find recipes at home was this white mahjong paper wrapped jotter book that my mother stuck recipe clippings and hand wrote some of her own.

One of the first things I remember cooking from this book, well technically not cooking but baking was a butter cake. Baking was a safer way to involve children in the kitchen. Usually no knives or a live fire was required, instead sifting flour, cracking eggs, elbow grease, arm muscle and a ready frame of mind to clean up the mess was required, naturally made it the choice activity.

The first thing I did was to help with the sifting of the flour. Then I watched our aged kenwood mixer whirl around the butter and the sugar to form a white fluffy cream like substance. Next step was to add the eggs, and I did as I was told, one egg at a time. Finally, in went the flour and it we were nearly there. All that was left was to pour it into a baking tin and then into the oven for it to work its own magic.

Over the weekend, our friendly fruit vendor or fruit man as we call him gave us some free bunches of bananas that he had in excess. The only thing was that, they were already overripe and not going to last another day. What to do, what to do? Let’s find a way to preserve the bananas. Let’s make banana cake!

I’ve never made banana cake, but I’ve made butter cake. Over the years, this trusty recipe has served me well. Maybe practice made perfect or maybe it is just a fool proof recipe. I’ve added raisins and made cupcakes for gifts, mixed in chocolate for a marble cake and the now my latest creation banana cake (butter cake + hand mashed bananas + dash of cinnamon). I don’t think there is a difference if you mashed it with a fork, stone, masher or your hands, but I recommend hand mashing—there is nothing better than being in touch with your food. Squishing and squeezing the bananas in the palm of your hands, its really quite fun.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Banana Cake
Makes 1 loaf cake

120 g sugar
250 g butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs
240 g self-raising flour, sifted
A dash of cinnamon
3–4 bananas, mashed


1. Cream sugar and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until pale and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla extract then eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
3. Fold in one-third of flour and cinnamon then half of the mashed bananas. Repeat and fold in remaining flour.
4. Pour cake batter into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf tin then bake in a preheat oven at 180°C for 50 minutes or until top is evenly browned and a stick comes up clean when poked in the centre of the cake.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 08, 2006

Sum's Somewhere in Sembawang

Sum’s Kitchen & Hong Kong Roasted Meat
3 Jalan Legundi
Tel: 67572118

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The roasted duck meat here is juicy and perfumed with aromatic traces of the fire and crowned with a layer of fat and crisp skin. Alongside the customary plum sauce, they offer pounded chillies and a ginger and spring onion concoction that lifts the taste of the meat.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Other than the roasted meats, this slightly off the beaten path humble family restaurant offers other dishes that will feed and nourish the family without breaking the bank. We went as a group of 3, so I can’t tell you much about all the dishes. I, however, have an irrepressible desire to order dishes that seem odd or things that I have not tasted before and in this restaurant, I was introduced to Hong Kong-styled fried squid with prawn paste. Despite their repeated warnings that the dish very pungent, I refused to be fazed and ordered it anyway (bring it on!). Pungent, yes but delightfully so: it had the same heady aromatics of ha cheong kai (prawn paste chicken), but was at no point overpowering.

Depending on where you live, it might be bit of a drive, but there were enough merits in the meal for me to make the distance again.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Guan Hin Restaurant

Guan Hin Restaurant
Blk 34 Whampoa West #01-01
Tel: 62983179

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

After reading umami and ivan’s account of their makankaki’s anniversary at Guan Hin, I felt it was almost obligatory for me as a Teochew to pay it a visit. As I stepped into the restaurant, I realized this place wasn’t as new and unfamiliar. I’ve actually been here and used to frequent it with my grandparents years ago. I don’t have much memory of the food except for what we did with the food. As a table of restless and irreverent grandchildren, we raced our quail’s eggs under the lazy susan and squashed them into a flatten mess once we were bored of our egg race.
Nothing much as changed or updated and still packs a healthy crowd of families and extended families on Sunday nights. Still using the reddish-pinking oriental and dragon melamine plates, this place really is old school with no real signs of modernization. Has the menu changed since my quail egg racing days? I’m guessing not.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The food was standard and really reasonable. There were, however, two highlights in my meal. The first was my favourite dish of the night, char kway teow with chai poh that was simple and delicious from the wok hei and the preserved radish morsels. My peasant food choice over chwee kueh. The second was my first taste of pig tendon, which was stir-fried with sea cucumber and an assortment of vegetables. Like most tendons, on its own there isn’t too much flavour, but what is to be savoured its gelatinous texture and its ability to soak up flavours of its accompanying ingredients. Along with that we had a standard steamed fish that passed the fresh test, hei zuo (prawn balls) that were bordering on bad, vegetables that were gloriously fried in lard and ti poh, and the good old teochew classics of braised goose and orh nee.

In addition to the standards dish, there are the more elaborate dishes that require an advance order such as their suckling pig, which is labouriously roasted over charcoal at the back of their kitchen. And of course if you can persuade the boss or perhaps speak in fluent teochew and convince the boss that you are one of their people, you might be able to serve you the cold crab delicacy. And its all very reasonably priced.

Labels: ,