Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Ultimate Durian Taste Test

A month ago, a group of people gathered at Hong Lim Park. We were not protesting but......doing something "fishy". I'm quite sure anyone could smell us far away.  It's a picnic with durians, or more precisely Durian Taste Test organised by Hungrygowhere. I was excited to join in the team to help pick up the King of the King.

There were 11 types of durian. Each type was kept anonymous to the testers, only to be identified by the star stickers labeled with number. So everyone went around with a paper plate and a fork, mobilising all our sense to figure out the characteristics.
 
So here are the results of the best and worse durians, based on both quantitative and qualitative judging.  The marks range from 3.8-5.9 out of 10 (10 indicates “Definitely Recommend” and O indicates “Not Recommend”) Hence, you can see that there was a close fight between the durians.

Hong Xia Wang 3.8/10 
Clear flavours, but flat. Not bitter, moderately sweet. For durian beginners
 
$10/kg
Lian Hua Chun  279 Balestier Point Tel: 9060 6405 
Daily 2pm-midnight

Shan Ba (aka kampong/village)  4/10
Pungent, creamy, fibrous. Not very custardy. For those who like Malaysian varieties.

$5/durian
Ah Hung Company (also rated best stall)
204 Geylang Road Tel: 6743 3509
 
Mao Mao Wang 4.2/10  (funny name--cat cat king or hairy king?)
Flat. Not value for $. Too light. Little flesh. Not special.
 
$30/kg
Durian Culture (also rated worst stall)
77 Sims Avenue Tel: 6744 5232  
Daily 24 hours
 
Sultan Wang 4.3/10
Good for ice cream. Mixed review: fishy? plasticky? Bittersweet aftertaste.
Soft, creamy flesh. 
 
$15/kg
Wonderful Fruit Enterprise
147 Sims Ave Tel: 6474 0191 or 8437 3888.
 
Hu Lu Wang 4.9/10 
A hit and miss. Lack bitterness. Sourish? 
For those with a sweet tooth for Chinese desserts.
 
$10/kg 
Lian Hua Chun
279 Balestier Point Tel: 9060 6405
Daily 2pm-midnight
 
Sultan aka D24 5/10
Fail to impress despite being D24. Fibrous. Powdery? watery? 
Some felt it had not ripened. 
 
$10/kg 
Wonderful Fruit Enterprise 
147 Sims Ave 
Tel: 6474 0191 or 8437 3888
 
D13 mix 5.3/10 
BEST FOR FIRST-TIMERS 
$12/kg 
Kean Lye Fruit Trading 
766 Upper Serangoon Road Tel: 6284 4007 
Daily 11am-10pm
 

Butter Durian 5.3 /10
Price Bargain-able. Moderate bitter-sweet. Strongest aroma. Creamy
$38/ box 
Metro Trading 
Blk 531 Upper Cross Street, Hong Lim Complex
 
XO Durian 5.5/10
moderate-to-very sweet flesh, with little/no bitterness. As creamy and buttery as Mao Shan Wang. For those who do not like to feel too full after eating durians.
 
$15/kg
Ah Hung Company (also rated best stall)
204 Geylang Road Tel: 6743 3509   
 
Mao Shan Wang 5.6/10
BEST STALL / DURIAN SELLER 
Most appetizing looks. Buttery-textured flesh. Moderately sweet and aromatic
 
$18/kg 
Ah Hung Company 
204 Geylang Road Tel: 6743 3509
 
Hong Xia, CROWD FAVOURITE 5.9/10
 
Price: $10/kg  
Recommended eaten cool a candy-like taste and a "floral" aftertaste. avocado-like texture
Penang hybrid is, again, not any like red prawn 
 
Teo Boon Teck 
Albert Street, along Short Street Tel: 9873 8466 or 6396 6321 
Till 11pm daily

___
 
Overall, it was really an eye opener for me as I did not know so many varieties exist here. Furthermore, it was the first time I concentrate so hard to eat a fruit (lol...) I hope this information will be handy for durian lovers to smell out some good durian stalls in Singapore.
 
 
Just in case some might not have read about this, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has accepted the challenge issued by Singtel and some food bloggers here to compete with top 3 Singapore hawkers in a culinary contest.
 
 
If you wish to witness the cookoff LIVE between Chef Ramsay and our local hawker heroes, find out how to win tickets at : http://www.hungrygowhere.com/dining-guide/food-contests-and-giveaways/secure-vip-seats-at-the-hawker-meal-by-gordon-ramsay-*aid-0f773f00/
 
*Special thanks to Hungrygowhere for the invite
 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ritz Carlton's Afternoon Tea: A Taste of Mediterranean Summer


This summer, be mesmerized by the galore of Mediterranean dishes and desserts at Chihuly Lounge. Regulars of Ritz Carlton will know that the widely popular afternoon tea here are inspired by the seasons and once again, the talented Executive Pastry Chef Terence Pang has rolled out ten whimsical desserts, tricking not only your taste buds but also your eyes.


From Olive Macaron Starfish to Seaweed Slippers in cherry orange tones, these petite sweets definitely awaken your inner kid and drift you into a beautiful sandy landscape by a romantic sea.

Every lady's favourite--Caramel Mediterranean Salt Truffle Pearls

Pop one of this silvered pearls into my mouth and you know this is worth more than the real thing. The bursting flow of Salted Caramel is irresistible.


Roasted Yellow Squash

The Mediterranean focus extends to savoury delights and one of the must-try is the fist-sized Moroccan Style Stew Stuffed Chicken Wings permeated with herbaceous notes of coriander and some perky sour lemon. The innovative vegetable yellow pot was actually Roasted Yellow Squash stuffed with Pimiento and Manchego Cheese.
Canapes Selection: Marinated Feta Cheese with Olive Tapenade

 

Apart from the above, I loved the buttery crumbly shell of the Chick Pea Hummus with Olive Oil in Caviar Tartlet. The Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Quiche was a sheer comfort food.


The Batata Harra (Spicy Potato) may resemble any other potato wedges but has absorbed the essence of garlic, chilli and olive oil. Other new dishes include Braised Chermoula Lamb Shank and Mint Couscous in Flaky Pastry and the Grilled King Prawns with Iberico Chorizo Butter Sauce that was bouncy on the bite.




Get cheesy with the special crepe flavour of Ricotta Cheese Filling and Candied Fruit topped with Mascarpone Cheese Sorbet at the live station.

Of course, nothing counts as afternoon tea without tea. Under my favourite category of green tea, there are already at least 6 types of blends. Alternatively, there are over thirty blends of loose leaf teas from the Ronnefeldt tea collection, served on elegant France-imported tea porcelain. A perfect complement for their lovely golden-raisin studded scones.


Satiated of savoury bites? Return to the desserts such as sourish Lemon and Vodka Lemon Cup or sail on calmly waves with the Raspberry and Fig Tart.


I was quite impressed with the Rosemary Panna Cotta with Peach Jelly as it was so luxuriantly creamy that it did not disintegrate instantly in the mouth.


This summer weekend afternoon tea is available till 1 September from 2.30pm to 5.00pm,  at S$52++ per adult and S$26++ per child (six to twelve years of age), inclusive of freshly brewed and decaffeinated coffee and a selection of teas. For weekdays, they are serving 3-tier afternoon tea at $42 per person.



Do not leave without this colourful beach ball filled with Pistachio Crème, nutty pistachios, buttery crumbles and ooh...juicy liquor-soaked cherries

Having visited Ritz Carlton afternoon tea twice previously, I am truly impressed by how the quality and creativity of the food gets better each round. Not only the desserts but even the savoury selections are meticulously taken care of--both visual and the taste. That is why this place has always topped my list for afternoon tea recommendation(even before this round of tasting).

More than just whimsical. It's simply Mediterranean Magic.

Chihuly Lounge
The Ritz Carlton, Millenia Singapore
7 Raffles Avenue
(Accessible from: Promenade/Esplanade/ City Hall MRT Station)

For dining reservations, please call (65) 6434 5288 or email rc.sinrz.restaurantreservations@ritzcarlton.com


*Special thanks to Ritz Carlton Singapore for the invite


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wan He Lou : Lobster Porridge

Helmed by Chef Lau who is the brainchild behind the award winning lobster porridge at 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wan He Lou serves up wallet-friendly Chinese cuisine within comfortable air-conditioned environment. After opening for about a month, the team has created new dishes that seek to capture local tastes.

Of course, the all time signature dish was the Lobster Porridge(Good for 2 pax-$29.90). Though the lobster meat was isolated from the porridge,  the yellow broth enhanced with lobster roe had hints of freshness from the sea. It does lack a bit of peppery kick, but on the very least it did not taste full of MSG. 



Speaking of the Teochew-style porridge, each grain was distinct and easy on the bite. In any case should you find that this looks somewhat familiar, it is whipped up by the same chef behind The Orange Lobster at Orchard Central.



The Pan fried Garoupa Slices with pomelo sauce, mangoes and dragon fruit ($19.90) is a lighter and more refreshing twist of the usual sweet and sour garoupa, but the batter was slightly too doughy.


The Signature Chicken (about 6 pieces for $12.90) are deboned chicken wings filled with home made stuffing mixed with some carrots. Slicked with a sweet sauce, the meat was slightly dry and perhaps overcooked that resulted in a bitter charred taste.


Similarly, the Kurobuta Pork with Garlic Shoots ($14.90) was a pity because the deep frying did not bring out the tenderness of this premium cut. The lashings of mildly-spiced brown sauce with some acidity of the sliced apples did help to cut the greasiness.


A safe dish that is difficult to go wrong is this Crispy Seafood delight ($10.90), a well-seasoned seafood cake wrapped in crepe skin. Which fried food would disagree with mayonnaise?
 

The Crispy Lotus in Salted Egg Yolk ($10.90), with doses of chilli padi made a very good dish to go along with rice, or even a snack if you have high tolerance of salt. The extra bits of aromatic curry leaves were a bonus.


My favourite dish was the Stir Fry French Beans $8.90. It might be a common dish in many restaurants but to skills and experience are required to execute it well. What made this dish stood out was the super fragrant dried shrimps, garlic nibs and chilli padi. And...it actually had milky scents that reminded me of cereal prawn!


Beancurd in Crabmeat and Yellow Gravy ($10.90)
The chef made extra effort to make the beancurd from scratch but further pan-frying might produce more interesting textures to pair with the thickened yellow stock gravy, crab meat and wolf-berries.


The Prawn in Hawthorn sauce ($15.90) was quite similar to the Kurobuta Pork and the hawthorn flavour was elusive. It tasted more like a sweet tomato sauce and perhaps this seafood needs some reworking to break through a uniform sweetness in some dishes here

Try the Vegetable Juice $2.50, a mixture of chye sim, pineapple and sour plum with no sugar added, for a sweet-saltish treat.
Not all dishes may be perfect but this place is certainly promising enough for a casual gathering with family or friends. Apart from the Lobster porridge, the Crispy Lotus in Salted Egg Yolk and the Stir fried French beans are dishes not to be missed. 


Understandably, the restaurant is still at its experimental stage. Given more time, I'm sure the experienced chefs will be able to neat out the minor details and deliver consistent Chinese fare.

*This place does not charge for service or GST. All dishes here are nett price.




Wan He Lou
65 Maude Road (Walking distance from Lavender MRT /Farrer Park MRT)
Tel: 6294-8057
Mon-Sun
Lunch 11am-2.30pm
Dinner 5pm-10.30pm
http://www.wanhelou.com/

[Special thanks to Streetdirectory and Wan He Lou for the invite]

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Patisserie G Part II

Following up to previous post on G, here are the rest of food on a sweet Sunday.

 
The widely-reported signature item, G Spot, was a dark chocolate mousse with chocolate meringue, sitting on a chocolate hazelnut praline crunch $9. It had a lingering sweetness and was not as bitter as we expected. Perhaps due to the use of French Michel Cluizel cocoa products, the flavours were robust.
That spongeless G Spot was a pure chocolate bliss but the richness might overwhelm if you were to have it together with the French hot chocolate.
Not because both are chocolate, but because the barista really served the drink in the French way-->not cream but thick pot of ganache. Now I understand why there is only a small portion for $4.50. It was way richer than a normal cup of chocolate. A perfect dip for the croissant ($3), which deserved to be noted for its golden-brown crispy exterior and soft elastic interior.
For other savoury selections, we enjoyed the bacon quiche ($6.50, there is also mushroom version) because the crust did not succumb to the lightly-salted eggy custard and remained crumbly. The ratio of filling to crust is balanced, and thus the thick creaminess did not overwhelm.
 
Requested some 3D Latte Art for our coffee but unfortunately the staff said that they no longer do it so had to settle for the cappucino $5.
 
The Triomphe ($8.50) was not as exhilarating as the real monument in Paris. With only 2 components- slightly burnt caramel mousse and hazelnut sponge, the salty accents were muted. Perhaps some extra crunch would spice up this otherwise safe, normal cake.
It was a relief that the sugar level of the chestnut mousse cake-Marron D'Orange ($8.50) seemed to be toned down to suit local palates just like the ones at Canele. But, this was incredibly lighter and more complex, with a sour orange jelly to zap the sweetness of the chestnut orange sponge and mousse. Remember to attack the crumble at the base.
Rest assure that the golden caramelised top from this Saint Honoure $8.50 will not cause a sugar spike and it had such a perfect texture that we forgot the dry choux shell. Sitted below the chantilly-cream piped chouxs, the sable base made with Normandy Flechard butter was plain but aromatic. This disappeared in a mouthful and you would wish portions are bigger.
 
We sank our teeths through the crunchy canele- $3.50 each and reached a very sweet and custardy interior. The scents of rum were evident and what impressed was the shell which was thinner than most sold outside, but yet looked like a sturdy shield.
Conclusion: A place with above-average pastries to indulge when you need to destress or relax with friends. Whether the food justify the price tags depends or what is ordered. Most are quite impressive, including the savoury ones. 

My top 3 pick would be the Doceur Chocolate, Croissants and Hot Chocolate. Would definitely return for more since the cake quest is still uncompleted. Dine-in spaces are limited but with no 10% service charge. Would be nice to spend everyday Sunday here. 
 
Patisserie G
9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-40 Millenia Walk (Nearest MRT: Promenade)
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Patisserie G Part I

Patisserie G is a hot French-style patisserie had been featured so many times on the newspapers, variety shows and magazines. After so many months, I finally paid a visit but the steep prices of the individual cakes ($8.50-$9) looked quite scary.

To avoid huge risks, I opted for the Macarons, albeit still not cheap for the petite size at $3. Having read so much about the excellent macarons by the chef who had trained under World Pastry Master Pierre Herme, I must admit that I felt underwhelmed after a few bites.

(From R-L) : Salted Caramel / Cherry Matcha / Yuzu Raspberry/ Pistachio/ Peanut Butter Chocolate/ Mandarin Orange Cheese
Not that they were biscuit-dry but not the best-for-value ones. The texture was crumbly, slightly chewy. Some were more delicate than the others because ganache was used instead of buttercream.
But putting ganache implies that the macarons do not last long at room temperature. My favourite Salted Caramel was almost disfigured after a 45-min train ride home (my fault...luckily, it still tasted wonderful). But what I would remember about G's macarons is their eye-catching colours and uncommon flavours like olive and milk choc miso.
On my 2nd visit, I was determined to get myself a cake no matter what. And it was the Douceur Chocolate: milk choc mousse on a hazelnut dacquoise that changed my overall impression of the pastries here.
This ultimate hazelnut combination brings to mind Pierre Herme's Plasir Sucre, but I was so happy that the version here was even better as it was not overly sweet or cloying. The extra crunchy praline in the middle had no signs of staleness.


The (not-new-by-now) flavour--Salted Hazelnut was better than the macarons on 1st visit

I liked all the macaron flavours, but I'll pick the salted caramel/salted hazelnut again (as always). After these two visits, I returned for a massive eat-out on the third visit (probably due to desperate longing for cakes in Japan). Click here more delicious items from G :)
Patisserie G
9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-40 Millenia Walk (Nearest MRT: Promenade)




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