Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beard Papa Japan: My Power Puffs


Never judge a book by its cover. Same thing goes for cream puff. Most cream puffs look flat and taste flat while some look potentially crusty on the surface but still taste disappointing. Beard Papa's cream puff don't look outstanding but texture and taste are shiny. A reliable and economical brand that I have been going for since it opened its outlet in Singapore. It was my first Japanese cream puff and my family used to buy them in boxes. Unfortunately, now there are only two shops left in Singapore (Bugis and NEX) and the choices are limited. But if you do pop by Japan, be sure to try the seasonal flavours.


My interest for BP cream puff would not have reignited if I had not seen the Melon Pan Poster (Seasonal Edition Puff) from the website.


While the usual melon pan (melon bread) sold here comes with a crumbly crust, the crust of this puff (¥200) is even firmer and crunchy. Give it a bite and the melon custard just ooze out without warning so must prepare tissue paper to catch any remnants before eating.


The Flavour of October is Cappucino(¥200). What makes this special that it is the first Beard Papa Cream Puff to be glazed with white chocolate and dusted with coffee powder. Coffee Cream Filling which is filled with coffee jelly turns out to be alot less sweeter than the melon pan. I had this immediately after the Melon Pan and fell more in love with this at the end. You can select your puff to be either of pie, cookie or paris brest choux for original and monthly flavour. 

And because it was Halloween limited edition pie, I braved the typhoon weather and returned to catch the Caramel Pumpkin Pie Choux. As with their standard operation procedure, the filling is piped freshly into the puff.

However, this pumpkin cream filling was not as velvety as the earlier two. The consistency is more similar to red bean paste and no wonder it could be sliced easily into halved. Perhaps I was too excited about this flavour but it did not turn out to be as delicious as the Cappucino Cream Puff.

Being a heavy rusk addict, it was difficult not to buy their choux rusks, which are the shells of the cream puffs baked dry and coated in sugar) Well, these choux rusks are not as crunchy as bread rusks or cake rusks but the amount of sugar coating is significantly lesser.

Very big packet with super big chunks ( I bought it at promotional size pack 30% more than usual for 200 yen)
 
And for past flavours, I had the Gelato Matcha Chou ¥150 released during summer last year and apparently available usually from May-late September. As for the Cream Korokoro Cornet ¥136 it is available in Singapore.

Even though you can buy the seasonal flavours at their 159 domestic outlets, some outlets do retail their own special flavour. For example, the Halloween Caramel Pumpkin was sold only at Shinjuku but not at the Shibuya outlet. Shibuya is selling a golden Mont Blanc Pie Choux instead.

Next month flavour is Yaki-imo (Roasted Sweet Potato). After having so many cream puffs, I wonder if I have transformed into a Powerpuff girl......

Beard Papa Japan
Various Outlets:
Shinjuku Outlet:
Odakyu Ace 小田急エース店 B1F
Walk from Shinjuku Station West Exit
10am-10pm Daily (Except Sun/PH: 10am-9pm)

Shibuya Outlet:
Shibuya Mark City Tohoku Noren Street Basement
(Walk right to the end from the entrance of Shibuya Mark City Food Basement)
For store locator and menu: http://www.beardpapa.jp/
 
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Charly T's: Waffles Beat the Chicken

After hearing not too positive reviews of the original roast chicken at Charly T's, I decided to play safe by going for the Kansas BBQ Pork Ribs ($22). Smeared with their pleasantly sticky sweet BBQ marinade, the fat-less meat did not have a overpowering smell of pork. But it was too tough and chewy. 

Instead of fries, the German potato side dish topped with bacon had a nice sourish tang, though the potato chunks were slightly undercooked.

Perhaps I haven't try all waffles in Singapore but this is by far the crispiest waffle that is worth every seconds of 10-min wait. For $8, we received two large crunchy waffles stuffed full of melted chocolate chips. Being sweet on its own, the butter and maple syrup were rather unnecessary. Sorry to those fans of "moist and fluffy" waffles as I prefer these ones here that are as crunchy (or hard to bite) as Belgian Liege waffles.
 
There were samplers for their signature rotisserie chicken in two dips-BBQ sauce and Spicy sauce. They were moist and fairly seasoned despite being chicken breast meat. Not as fantastic as the ribs or the waffles to me. The location at Pasarbella is not very ideal with limited seats and the meat dishes are overpriced. 

Perhaps dining at their usual restaurants at Dhoby Ghaut or Katong112 will reduce the possibility of squeezing with the crowd.
Charly T's
Pasarbella
200 Turf Club Road
#02-06/#02-K12 The Grandstand
Singapore 287994
http://www.charlyts.com/
 
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Avril De Bergue ベルグの4月: Yokohama's Baukuchem Specialist

Since Halloween is coming in a few days, the patisserie feature of the week is ベルグの4月 Avril de Bergue (not the singer Avril Lavigne) The shop specialises in Baumkuchen, a type of German Pound Cake made layer by layer like our local Kueh Lapis. Unlike cupcakes that never rise to popularity here, Baumkuchem always attract long queues even though there is only a number of ways for variation.


The man behind this patisserie is Chef Tsugio Yamamoto 山本次夫
Born in Kumamoto in 1951. Entered Imperial Hotel Tokyo. Trained in Europe for 8 years. Helped launch Patisserie Kihachi, another very successful pastry shop with several franchises in Japan now. Opened Avril de Bergue in 1988.


Photo from Printed Brochure

Here, there are 3 flavours: Browned Butter (white) , Framboise (pink) and Yokohama's top vegetable produce Komatsuna (green, also known as Mustard Spinach/Chinese Kailan). The vegetable flavoured baumkuchen still tastes sweet but does not reek of any unpleasant leafy taste. Similarly, the Framboise is also not too dry. One single slice cost ¥210. However, they have yet to surpass Club Harie, which serves one of the better baumkuchen in my opinion. Theirs are very soft and fragrant.


However, his cakes were a joy to eat. Carmague (カマルグ)¥420, a milk chocolate mousse cake named after a remote wet island off the South of France. Sea salt was added to the chocolate that sits on a custard and a crunchy nut base.

The Ceremony テ・セレモニー¥451 is a matcha opera cake with a crispy marbled white chocolate, moist green tea sponge, green tea mousse and chocolate ganache that is generously filled stuffed with steamed large-sized beans (not red beans)


This does not look like a macaron but it is a caramel flavoured one ¥181. A rustic texture which may win the hearts of those who find usual macarons cloyingly sweet.


My favorite was the "Halloween" ハロウィン ¥481 because it is impossible to find a similar item like this one. Creamy pumpkin mousse is paired with Jasmine rice vanilla pudding and lovely sable cookie balls. I finished right to the end without getting bored of the flavours. He has another product called "Pumpkin Pudding" which is a more common version of pudding in a jar.


Besides his pastry shop in Yokohama, he has also opened a cafe called Cafe da Cote where you can sit in to enjoy his pastries. Highly recommended as such good quality cakes are reasonably priced below¥500 (around S$6.30). Two years ago, I did a Halloween pumpkin sweets series but this year I decided not to because they looked beautiful but the components are similar. So far, this is only pumpkin sweet I had after the pumpkin tart from Chaya Macrobiotics for 2013 but it's the best and most unforgettable one.

Avril De Bergue ベルグの4月
2-19-5 Utsukushi-gaoka, Aoba Ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa
Hours: 9.30am-7pm
Close on Monday
http://bergue.main.jp/index.html (this website is updated regularly so you can check the latest info before heading down)


*The cakes were purchased at Ma Patisserie Isetan, a weekly rotating space featuring patisseries from all over Japan

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chaya Macrobiotics チャヤのマクロビオティック

Macrobiotics? What's that?

It was a peculiar term that etched in my head since it sparked a wave of new, healthy eating in Tokyo several years ago. Not vegan, not vegetarian, macrobiotic diet emphasises on whole grains and vegetables so as to not let the body be burdened by unwanted toxins and slows down its processes. It's a concept founded by a Japanese called George Ohsawa (1893-1966), not just on the INGREDIENTS but also on the MANNER of EATING. Simply put, we should take our time to chew our food thoroughly and avoid overeating, which is not a simply feat to achieve for many of us living on such a hurried pace.

Right now, while there are vegetarian or vegan cafes in town, Chaya Macrobiotics is the only place that is dedicated to macrobiotic meals. The selection is extensive but expensive, yet the quality of the food is truly of restaurant standard. Macrobiotics is about balance and not dogma. While it does not encourage meat, animal protein is still permitted and thus seafood, meat, alcohol and coffee are found on the menu.

To get the most out of constraint budgets, we had the chaya lunch set (2625 yen) which comes with your choice of appetizer, main dish, bread or rice and cake.

The appetizer was Sweet Potato and Mushroom Cream Croquette with Vegetable Cutlet sauce. Despite the fact that soy milk replaces cow dairy products, the fresh and piping hot croquette still qualifies as a delicious comfort food with the pseudo "tonkatsu" sauce.


Our main dish--Vegetarian Carbonara--was served as though it just walked out of a beautiful vegetable garden. Tossed with crispy ebi and funghi, it tasted ain't like any Italian pasta that I've had before. The cheese-less and egg-less sauce turned out unbelievably rich with a least expected curry aftertaste.

It would be an outright lie if I were to say that everything suited my tastebuds. Simply because the bread (probably organic) were at odds with the peanut sauce. To prevent bread wastage, we ordered the "Soup of the Day"--a corn soup which was unfortunately too watered down.
Desserts were much better but not the best of its kind you can find it Tokyo. Made with organic pumpkin from Hokkaido, the Pumpkin Pie (567 yen) contains soya whipped cream, a layer of cocoa sponge and crowned with the lusciously sweet pumpkin paste. Another seasonal tart was the Apple Herb Tart (546 yen). Compared to most apple tarts/pies, this one is refreshingly light with a jelly component and herb-accented cake layer. Not overly sweet and melds well with the soya custard, though the pastry shell of both pies were lacklustre.




There is a grocery section at the entrance where you can stock up on all kinds of organic goodies such as their homemade granola made without refined white sugar, raw pasta, confitures etc. Cakes can be taken away and there is a whole range of vegan cakes with not only the price, but also the calories explicitly stated. Pastry classes are also conducted on a regular basis for those who wish to reproduce sweets that are free from egg, dairy and white sugar.

Instead of ramen, tonkatsu or tempura, why not try a macrobiotic meal for a change?

Chaya Macrobiotics
チャヤマクロビオティック
Isetan Shinjuku Level 7
Lunch 11am-4.30pm
Tea Time 3pm-5pm
Dinner 5pm-10pm
http://www.chayam.co.jp/index.html

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Overdoughs: Calories Overboard

I have not forgotten the last time I went to Artichoke 2 years ago. The food was great and I've finally paid a dessert pilgrimage to its sister cafe at Overdoughs selling very sinfully good (x5) pastries. One example is the bak kwa sticky bun that I had at the Public Garden Event.

It was supposed to be a lunch cum dessert session at Overdough but it turned out that lunch is only available on weekdays. Hence, we head next door to Artichoke without reservations but luckily there were seats.

With fewer than 5 items on the menu, we chose the Mezze Platter ($25 see top picture) . The fluffly za'atar toast was a natural match for the extremely savoury items such as smoked salmon, Serrano ham and mozzarella-like Turkish string cheese. And the Beetroot tzaiki and zucchini pickles provided a tangy contrast to the creamy Chicken sesame hummus.
Turkish String Cheese that is shaped like anything but string.
Finally, the moment for all things sweet arrived when the Snickers Tart $6.40 was served. This is simply superb. The gooey salted caramel  that stuck to the teeth nonchanlantly as you sink through the chocolate ganache dusted with golden peanut brittle and then the next layer of peanut butter Nougatine. But it was a love-hate relationship with the cornflake crust, which took a long time to saw with a knife. Next time I would have it warmed up, for sure.


Though I am not a Banana fan, the Roasted Banana Muffin $5.40 looks too good to be missed. The best part was the crumbly surface that is scattered with streusels and super-irresistible toffee sauce. It was clever for the pastry chef to use mini-sized blueberries, as they would not burst under heat and affect the muffin batter.  But more sauce would be perfect to conquer the giant as it became boring towards the core.

Overdoughs's Oreo cheesecake block ($4.80) is easily the most sinful cheesecake per area square in Singapore because oreo chunks, salted caramel pretzels and cookie doughs are all dunked in. Served warm, this is rich-tasting but not too unctuous and cloying. Despite the name, this was not salty at all and I would not mind having it again.

At Overdoughs, the calories can get overboard. But this is only the beginning......
For previous dinner post at Artichoke, click HERE 
 
Overdoughs
161, Middle Road, Sculpture Square, S188978
(Nearest Station: Bras Basah/ Bugis/ City Hall)
http://www.overdoughs.com/

Here's the map to the location: http://www.streetdirectory.com/asiatravel/singaporemap/business/210462/410661/
Business can also be found here

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Camprini Sweet Fair 2013 by M.O.F. Chocolatier Christian Camprini

Tokyo is one of the few places in Asia that is blessed with many internationally acclaimed chocolatiers. From chocolate truffles, cakes, macarons to chocolate buffets that soak in a world of chocolate, it is likely that you have experience one of these before especially if you are a chocoholic like me. But how about a four-course chocolate meal that runs like a classic pre-fixed French menu? That's an entire different story.

French Master Chocolatier Christian Camprini has teamed up once again with Chef Hirokazu Satoh of Hyatt Regency Tokyo to come up with a special chocolate tasting menu  this September and October. Having won the prestigious M.O.F award in 2004, Chef Camprini has wowed many Japanese ladies with his exquisite chocolate creations during his bi-annual chocolate collaborations with Hyatt Regency, as well as the annual Salon De Chocolat fair held at Isetan Shinjuku. Meanwhile, Chef Hirokazu Satoh is also a highly experienced pastry chef who used to train under Sadaharu Aoki, one of Japan's first internationally acclaimed pastry chefs, at both his Paris and Tokyo outlets.
Homely Interior of Caffe in Hyatt Regency Tokyo
The menu is crafted in a thoughtful way that stimulate the tastebuds to the roots of the chocolate without over-complicating it. The theme for October is "Voyage En Terre Cacao" or simple voyage or journey to the land of cacao. Something that I was not prepared for, was a savory non-chocolate starter of fried leaf-shaped pasta and biscuit sticks in avocado dip. The crackers had toasty flavours and were very moreish.
Amuse Sale by Chef Hirokazu Satoh: Piqué et Croque a la Mexicane


Pre dessert by Chef Camprini : Tarte au Chocolat & Sorbet Cacao
The cacao sorbet that sat on a delicate chocolate plate was at its purest form, bitter and intense with no hints of sweetness. It was not intended to balance the chocolate tart, for the latter awakens one instantly not with sugar but a zingy blend of mango and passionfruit. One can appreciate the simplicity of this multi-textured chocolate tart, for such a gem is really rare to find.

Pre dessert : Sorbet Cacao

Pre dessert : Tarte au Chocolat

Main Course: Profiterole Chocolat
The meal hits the climax when the main course created by Chef Camprini.  The cream puff rests alluringly on a bed of warm chocolate cream. But one must hold on to the fork until the warm orange sauce is poured over, turning the chocolate square into liquid form instantly.

Wait no further to slice through the cream puff, only to realize that the vanilla cream is in a semi-molten state and filled with mini cookie balls. This ability to not just play with the temperature of chocolate but to do it well is a testimony of the skills of a chocolatier who has devoted his life to work with the world's most temperamental ingredient.
Last but not least, for the Petit Fours, guests can choose 5 out of the 10 varieties. Most are traditional sweets with an inspired twist such as Caramel Mu Fleur du sel ( a salted caramel made with British Maldon Salt), Caramel Mu Chocolat made with 100% Manjari Cocoa,  Chestnut Madeleine, a late summer Macaron made with semi-dried figs, soft nougat with whole hazelnuts from Sicily, a moist marron cake and a chocolate pepper truffle.

Things that stood out was Caisson -a yellow square with a beautiful floral imprint that looks tooth-achingly sweet but is not. It's a famous regional treat from Provence, France made with its locally produced almonds blended with orange and melon confiture. Another one was the bittersweet Gianduja Sable with milk chocolate and hazelnut praline filling which crumbles easily upon one bite.

Of course, all sweet things do not just end with coffee or tea. Though this set menu is only available till 31st October, the individual chocolate pastries created by Chef Camprini is available for takeaway at the Pastry Shop from November onwards. And if you really wish to have a taste of a star-studded dessert feast, look out for his return to Hyatt Regency next year ;)

Camprini Sweet Fair @ Hyatt Regency Toyko
Price: 3000 Yen (3 plate desserts and petit fours selection)
Period: Till 31st October 2013 Weekdays 3.30pm-5.30pm except holidays
Location: Caffe at Hyatt Regency Tokyo (Nearest Station: Shinjuku)
2-7-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku
Tokyo, Japan, 160-0023

***
Special thanks to Hyatt Regency Tokyo
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