Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Guilt-Free Ice Cream Eating!

Ice cream is my happy food.

I love ice cream.
I love ice cream.
I love ice cream.
I heart ice cream.
I absolutely love ice cream.

This is my solution to eating loads of ice cream and trying not to grow fat. Like Ms. Bridget Jones, I would love to have a relationship with Ben and Jerry, but unfortunately I don’t have skinny-skinny genes and so an alternative is needed. No fear, Fruitfull is here! Perhaps I’m being self-delusional in thinking that this is healthier, but it feels healthier and so it is. I found this ice cream a few months ago in this organic shop I happen to pop in, after that day, I used to beg my brother to drive by while we were around that area and so he was really happy when one fine day when we popped into the shop and THE ICE CREAM BOX DISAPPEARED! I was very upset.

However, I have found a place that sells it again and just that day I found some other place that brings in Fruitfull ice creams. I have tried a few flavours, however my memory fails me. The last flavour I had was mango cream which was heavenly. What I like about it is that it feels healthy, they have real fruit chunks in them and they have a wide variety of flavours to choose from which is wonderful. If you aren’t a fruity tooty type, then they have something that would meet your taste buds as well, they have a range of ice creams called Happy Indulgences Decadent Dips, which are creamier and they have CHOCOLATE COATING! Some of the flavours include – Chocolate Dipped Mud pie, Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cream and Chocolate Dipped Banana Split. The wonderful news is that they contain less fat than other premium ice creams. Isn’t that simply wonderful? So the next important information is where to get these wonderful things. The first box I found is in Yogi Hub, the organic vegetarian shop that I reviewed. The second ice cream box is at a pharmacy at far east square. (I apologise for the vague directions but it’s worth the hunt). Price-wise, they aren’t your walls 20 cents ice creams unfortunately, like with organic and all these other healthy foods that u buy, they come with a price, my mango cream set me back S$2.90 a stick and I think the Happy Indulgences are about S$3.50. I like them still with the healthy factor of: no/low fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol … there are some things in life that you have to enjoy, and ice cream is on my list.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Yogi Hub: Natural.Organic.Healthy Living

Yogi Hub
1 Boon Tat Street
#01-01, Singapore 069511
Tel: 62204344

Dried Mushroom Noodles

I have found a place where I would go to after a night of drinking and getting completely sloshed. This place sells organic food products and they serve up some organic vegetarian dishes which were rather interesting. I had the dried mushroom noodles which were only S$6. Mix everything up and start slurping your noodles, its pretty good, and it might cure your misconception of organic vegetarian food tasting like cardboard. Other things that they have here are gado-gado, a vegetarian pasta, fried rice and the salad that we tried was rather tasty too. Nothing is above S$10, and if anything, you’ll feel like for once you didn’t abuse but respected your body and gave it good food. Although, I don’t think I could survive as an organic vegetarian, but this would be my detox place after those days of just having too much of anything.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

My Meepok!

Mushroom Minced Pork Mee
located in Rong Fa Eating House

Blk 150 Bishan Street 11,

Perhaps after the fiercely debated topic of which political party would win the elections in Singapore, the most common debate that has come up with Singaporeans: Where is the Best Mee Pok in Singapore?

My favourite Meepok Stall in Bishan

Even between my family, we have our differing opinions and we have come to a point where we have agreed to disagree. We have had our own internal mee pok battle, where we've been to each of our personally nominated favourite stalls: sampled, judged, criticized and stubborn voted for our own stalls as the best. So at the end of the day, its really all a matter of taste, some want more fishballs, other more minced meat, other want some old-school teochew meepok, so really, there are too many variables to make the perfect meepok.

This place is one of my favourites. This was my nomination in the meepok battle that we had due to a number of reasons. One, it is an unsung hero in our culinary island. Everyone has heard of the Bedok meepok and the ones that have been repeatedly featured by the different food programmes, but this one is tucked in a corner on my side of the island in Bishan, which would go unnoticed with its no-fuss, no-nonsense, straight talking name of: Mushroom Minced Pork Mee. Two, the Meepok-tah is vinegar based, which I prefer to the ketchup based ones. Three the chili packs a mean punch. Four, if you have the soup instead, it is fantastic and it even has wolfberry in it! Five, a large bowl is only S$3. Six, despite the many restaurants that I go to and absolutely love, this was the one thing I really missed when I lived abroad for half a year, MY MEEPOK. Being the fruitcake that I am, I went to this stall nearly every day for a week before I left for Europe for six months and it was one of the first places I went back to when I got home. Need more reasons? Go there yourself and add it to my list.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Liang Kee Restaurant - Back to my Teochew roots

Liang Kee Restaurant
737 Havelock Road
Singapore 169653
Tel: 62787026

Stir-fried fish heads with bitter gourds

We hardly go to any Teochew restaurants and I initially resisted the idea of going to this one, however I was pleasantly surprised. When I think about Teochew food, I think about my grandmother's cooking of her steam fish and stir fry vegetables, but this place serves up pretty interesting food too. We had sambal crayfish, fish maw with assorted vegetables stew, stir-fried fish-heads with bitter gourd and the traditional goose meat. Everything was pretty good, I am not sure if it was pricey we had lunch for 4 for S$95, but it was expensive due to the crayfish and the fish maw which had sea cucumber in it. So I guess if you tried the other things on the menu, it is rather reasonable. I would say overall it was good food, my father who is the most teochew of us all certified it good and brought my grandmother there the next day, so I guess, two thumbs up from me, the teochew girl.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Club Chinois: Chic Chinois.

Club Chinois
1 Tanglin Road, #02-18,
Orchard Parade Hotel,
Singapore 247905

If I'm not wrong this place has been open since 1999 and I cannot believe that I've haven't been here since it has opened. 5 years too late. Nonetheless, better late than never, this place has just undergone renovations in the last 6 months, but I have no idea how it looked like before, but judging from how it looks now, it looks great. Its got these funky modern chairs where you feel like a "Conehead" when you sit on them because of the length of the backboard. Other than that, I liked the general feel of the place, its modern Chinese or chic Chinese, which was an indication of food that they served.

I'm a big fan of fusion food, but sometimes it does get a little boring, usually every modern-French or fusion type of restaurant would have the Cod Fish with Miso sauce or something along those lines, where somehow for some strange reason there is a general bias towards marrying the Japanese and French flavours, maybe because one is generally lighter and the other creamer and rich, I'm not sure. This place however brings fusion to another level; firstly you don't have your usual cliché miso cod fish, secondly, the basis or the fundamentals influence here is Chinese and the predominant flavours are Chinese or oriental rather than French. Here’s an example and something that you MUST have when you dine here. Crispy Peking roast duck skin, foie gras and onion pancake with salad. (below)

I am tempted to write extensively about this restaurant and to write a 4 part mini-series of the various things that I sampled, but it would just be too indulgent, and I like variety in life. Going back to this dish, words fail me, and all I can tell you is that eating that was like having a carnival in my mouth, it was sweet, sour, crispy, rich, creamy, crunchy, acidic... And that was just the first dish! They have 2 dégustation menus here priced at S$68+++ and S$88+++, but upon surveying that, we decided to create our own dégustation menu from the á la carte. Almost everything I tried was fabulous, other things I would recommend when you do go, is the cod with egg white and vinegar, wuxi pork rib, tofu with spinach, well actually I think anything on the menu is rather respectable, but ask them for their house specialties and it is quite hard to go wrong with those. The four of us had a self-invented menu of 5 dishes for under S$350, inclusive of S$30+++ charge for corkage.

Just a few minor details that irritated me, they served the food at different timings so they need more co-ordination with serving the tables. Service here is efficient, so no real complains, except that they wanted me to order in mandarin, which was horrific, but somehow we managed.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

La Troquet Café and Bar

La Troquet Café and Bar
1 Sarkies Road, Alliance Francaise
Singapore 258103
Tel: 67361070

Troquet: French Slang for Small wine café

Other than the fancy restaurants in Singapore, I figured that Alliance Francaise Singapore might offer a chance for me to soak up some faux Frenchy, Parisian atmosphere on a Saturday afternoon. However, I was gravely disappointed. I expected the typical French bistro type of food like steak and fries, but they had offered a variety of pasta instead which were over cooked when it reached out table.

Grilled Cod and Salmon with Pasta

It does however offer so typical French bistro type of food such as escargots (which were sold out) and Duck confit, but other than that I thought this place was a let down. I had a pasta with grilled Cod and Salmon that were grilled with some French provençale herb and some grilled vegetables for S$16, which wasn’t too bad, but if u want French-french, I think you might be better off at The French Stall which is now at Serangoon Road I believe. I can’t make a judgment if this place is a nice chic small wine café as I didn’t take a look at the wine list and I’m not big expert, but honestly, I’m sure there are other Troquets in Singapore.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Vegetable Medley

I've never really had vegetarian eating friends, because sometimes it is just too difficult to cater for them. Food however I believe is a good vehicle for community building and so I guess vegetarians are people too. So I had a vegetarian friend over whom I now call alfafa in ode to her love of those sprouts, and a few other non-vegetarians. To my surprise, we managed to put together a rather decent lunch. (It also does help that she isn't vegan or organic and she eats seafood).

Debbie and her 15 seconds of Fame with Udon Salad and Prawns

So here's what I served:

Agedashi Tofu
Tower of Salmon and Avocado
Udon Salad with Prawns
Chili Garlicky Portobello Mushrooms topped off with Parmesan.

Dressing for the Udon Salad:
Sesame Oil
Soy Sauce
Sesame Seeds
Crushed Cashew Nuts

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kitchen Experiments: Tower of Salmon and Avocado

Tower of Salmon and Avocado

Season with good quality soy sauce and wasabi.

Season with olive oil, lemon and salt.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Chat Masala

Chat Masala
158 Upper East Coast Road

This place serves up some northern Indian nosh. I liked the menu and a few things that I ate. However, I'm not sure if the journey across the island was that worth while. My complaints before my compliments, what went wrong: the food was not hot enough, and I'm not being a food bitch and all obsessive about food temperature and how there was no steam being emitted from my food. But, the food was almost cold, that usually indicated that the food was pre-cooked way beforehand, and was kept warm or heated up properly. And hence I suspect that is the reason why the lamb chops that we ordered were rather dry and unimpressive.

What I liked in this restaurant and was their kerala meen (something), which is this snapper curry. I liked this and strangely enough, this was the best dish we had out of the four that we ordered and this was the only one that wasn't a chef’s recommendation. Other things that I liked about the restaurant: the fruit naan, which has dried fruit and a slight sugar coating. Other little details I liked was the selection of square white plates and cutlery, sometimes I think it’s the details that I like because they are all part of the dining experience. Another upside of this place is that, it's rather reasonable, we had dinner for 4 for under S$60, but make sure you come with at least 3 people, that way you'll be able to try a few things on the menu. So other than my complaint about the coldness of the food, it was rather good, I might pop by when I'm in the neighbourhood and looking for some northern Indian nosh.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Canton Wok: Kudos to Chef Kang

Canton Wok by Chef Kang

Blk 204 Serangoon Central, #01-112
Singapore 550204
Tel: 62862070

Tucked in the heartlands of Singapore, an article has hailed this place as the best zhi-char place in Singapore. For the non-Singaporeans, the direct translation of zhi-char is generally frying, but I think I’ll more accurately say its Singapore’s no fuss local Chinese cuisine. Articles that have written about this place have raved about it, and rightly so.

We decided to try out some of the chef’s recommendations: Deep fried eggplant with pork floss and the coffee pork ribs. My verdict? Excellent. I’ve never had coffee pork ribs like this, it’s got a good bitterness and you get the aroma of coffee with every bite. The sweetness of the pork with the bitterness of the coffee makes the pork ribs almost seem like mocha. The deep fried eggplant with pork floss is interesting, the different textures of the three things: the batter, the soft eggplant and the melt in your mouth pork floss is great, and the eggplant is a good complement to bring out the sweetness in the pork floss. Other things that we had were kai lan stir fried with garlic and sliced fish, prawns with Portuguese sauce and a noodle. Everything was of a good standard no complains, except that it was a hot afternoon and there was no air-con.

Weather aside, this is my biggest gripe, we wanted to try to sizzling red wine chicken and the beancurd with dried scallops which were other chef’s recommendations, but they weren’t ready. That makes poor restaurant sense to me, but I guess maybe the dinner crowd is better although it was full when we got there at 1pm in the afternoon and so they only serve it during dinner. I’m not sure, I’ll have to go back and check it out. All in all, we were so impressed by the quality of food that we are still debating if we are going to head back there for dinner and to sample the rest of the menu.

Kudos to Chef Kang, he has made an excellent match between Canton and Singapore and made it available to all. Lunch for 4 was below $65.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Cookout 2

We continued with the Akin’s tradition of doing with maximum meat and minimum everything else. We had the usual fanfare of beef, prawns, chicken and all, but to keep things interesting, I try not to repeat the marinades unless everyone raves so much about it that it is worth bringing back by popular demand. So, what made its debut on our menu today were these sugarcane pork skewers. I got an idea while flipping this Thai cooking book where they had pork on lemongrass skewers. I also remember having these prawn skewer things in a Vietnamese restaurant once and so I decided to marry the two ideas. It’s really simple too.

Get yourself some minced pork and some sugar cane.
The sugar cane bit might be the most difficult bit because they aren’t always available in the market and you need some patience in taking off the tough bits. Make sure you get enough of the husk off, so that you get the sweet fibers instead of just tasteless bits.

Marinade the minced pork with soy sauce, some shao hsing wine, pepper and sesame oil. Along with that I chopped some water chestnuts finely for some crunch in the meat. The result wasn’t too bad although it needs some fine tuning. It was nice on the grill and we later started pouring beer over them on the grill, which added another interesting dimension.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kitchen Experiments: My semi-unsuccessful Crab cakes

I adapted this recipe from an Emeril Lagasse recipe for “Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs and Wild Mushroom Sauce”, but I decided to start simple with the crab cakes before I go on to the wild mushroom sauce to go with it. Mine were a tad too salty, and I thought they would be similar to croquettes but they are so much more delicate that they threatened to crumble when I had to roll them in the flour, but surprisingly held together. Hopefully they’ll perform better the next time after I tweak the recipe a little.