Friday, August 30, 2013

Grand Hyatt Singapore Mooncakes 2013

Stylishly nested in a turquoise-topped acrylic gift box, Grand Hyatt’s artisanal mooncake treasures—created by its gourmet pastry chefs—continue to delight the palates of discerning gourmands and food lovers this Mid-autumn.Green Tea with Sake Truffle
New additions to the snowskin flavours this year’s collection are; Green Tea with Sake Truffle, Yam with Coconut Truffle and the decadent White Lotus with XO Truffle. The Yam reminded me of Filipino desserts that use purple yam and coconut milk, but it was pleasantly light and not cloyingly sweet. While the green tea is not the true bitter brew, its creamy smooth sake ganache did leave me mooning for some real sake.
But for those who prefer stronger alcoholic booze and raise the toast with the White Lotus with XO Truffle (pic below). The Champagne Truffle and Lychee Martini Truffle are not too bad either. As I savoured the fruity Lychee Martini that was inspired by its same-named signature cocktail at its MARTINI BAR, I wondered if the chefs will create their a mooncake with its another popular drink—Tiramisu Martini?    
One of my favourite was the earthy mooncake—Black Sesame Yuzu Truffle which has been added an extra touch of royalty by the sprinkle of gold dust. It refreshes not only the eyes but also the tastebuds with a lovely sourish zing.
With my love for saltish desserts, it was difficult to pick between Caramel Sea Salt Truffle and Custard with Salted Egg (sounds like a complicated triangular love affair). But the Custard with Salted Egg eventually won me over because it was just like having the delicious Hong Kong dimsum sweet treat without the oily mess.

Custard with Salted Egg, Yam with Coconut Truffle
Overall, these snowskin mooncakes ($62/8pcs) are not too saccharine sweet and the new additions that play with oriental flavours are innovative but yet not too far-fetched. Besides its snowskin mooncakes, there are also enduring traditional mooncakes such as Red Lotus Single Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed, White Lotus Double Yolk with Roasted Melon Seed, White Lotus with Roasted Melon Seed and Sesame Lotus Single Yolk with Bamboo Ash.
And if you are those who like to have endless rounds of mahjong/ a game of chess with family and friends, the Mahjong Pralines or Chinese Chess Pralines are good gift ideas this Mid-Autumn.

Just make sure you put the right thing into your mouth.
Grand Hyatt Singapore Mooncakes 2013
Retail Booth at Entrance of Grand Hyatt Hotel or the shop @ Mezza 9 
Other outlets:
Takashimaya Square, B2: Now-19 Sept
Vivocity Level 1 Now-19 Sept
Chevron House Change Alley 2 Sept-20 Sept
Click here for mooncake ordering form

Special thanks to Grand Hyatt Singapore for the mooncake

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

GODIVA Singapore: Mid-Autumn Festival 2013

Instead of the usual mooncakes this mid-autumn, would you like to gaze at the moon with some mooncake chocolate? With some vouchers at hand, I decided to splurge on GODIVA's Mid-autumn Festival 2013 Limited Edition collection. Otherwise, I would have to wait till I strike lottery or wait for payday before I could get my hands on these royal Belgium treats.

I am not sure of last year's theme but Godiva is really adventurous at playing with fruits. With every chocolate bearing its unique fruity personality, savouring each piece of the  petite creations is like meeting a new lover. The Pépite Mooncake Chocolates (Pépite meaning nuggets), is a series of 3 different flavoured chocolate pralines. 
For milk chocolate fans, the Apricot-Peach Crunchy is a stone fruit blend of chocolate with Ghana milk cocoa powder, Turkish hazelnut and Louisiana walnut. 

If you pursue the dark side, the 64% cacao Peru dark chocolate delivers an irresistible crunch with caramel hazelnut, soybeans in Hawaiian almond paste for the Mango-Passion Fruit Crunchy. 

Unsurprisingly, the innocent looking white chocolate packs the sweetest combination of pomegranate chocolate ganache and crispy strawberry crunch.
But everything was too small and not satisfying as the BIG ONE. It costs a whopping of $25 for just ONE SLAB! There are two versions; milk chocolate (which had ran out of stock) and the other was the dark chocolate. 

The wild combination of redcurrant/orange ganache did not clash with the base of white chocolate, apple and pear. Who would have tried to squeeze FOUR FRUITS into a CHOCOLATE? But this was mind-blowingly good; and I could not fathom why it tasted like PEANUT BUTTER. 

As much as I liked to rave about everything at GODIVA, the Rare Cheesecake Truffle Bar $9 was nowhere near a cheesecake and certainly not a rare one. Better to indulge in a real cheesecake than this.
Sometimes, I do think that there are cheaper alternatives whose taste is no less inferior than Godiva. But there are occasions when its quality is truly a notch above the rest. And that ’s the point when you feel like the king of the world.
Godiva Singapore
Suntec City
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Takashimaya Basement 2
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mezza9 at Grand Hyatt : Thai Street Food

With 9 open-kitchen concepts each specializing in a specific
cuisine such as Western Grill, Japanese, etc, Mezza9 is an exciting theatre
capturing chefs in "live" action. Unlike its sister buffet restaurant
Straits Kitchen, Mezza9 focuses on ala carte dishes on weekdays and offers a
relaxing champagne brunch on Sundays. 
Beyond the transparent glasses of intense heat and battle with the pots and pans, the dining area exudes an air of contemporary Zen in which guests enjoy a merry chat over wines while waiting for their food.

The meal began with a complimentary bread with the perfect S-shape curve.  Served with a tomato relish instead of butter, it has such a fluffy interior that one can take an afternoon nap on it.  
Limited-time promotion menu always sound like an attractive deal and this month's specials features unique Thai Street Food prepared by resident Thai Chef Sittichok Panchum.  
The best way to try everything is of course, to go for the Tasting Platter ($45). Nonetheless, each component is available at ala carte and suitable for those who do not take certain kind of meat/seafoodThese dishes certainly looked like what you remembered of Thai cuisine, but with a whimsical twist. An example would be the Moo Yang-a dish of char grilled pork belly served on satay sticks on a bed of slightly undercooked Thai jasmine rice. 
While the pork juices and the honey herb marinade drooled onto the grains and made the dish a little oily, I put our reservations aside and dig in deep. The dish was so flavourful that I would be happy with just a bowl of that same fragrant rice and pork belly.  
But there are other interesting offerings such as Sei Kua, an indigenous fusion of Thai curries and western sausages. Instead of meat, glutinous rice takes the driver's seat in the sausage casing. It is drenched with a dry thick red curry with pork that was competently sweet.  
The Baby Octopus  was slightly chewy and rubbery, but its chilli sauces are unapologetically strong. The tongue starts burning from the chilli padi the more I chew into it but luckily, there were some cabbage slices to provide temporary heat relief.  
Meanwhile, there is also familiar classics like the traditional crispy thai fishcake. This is safe for those who are not adapted to chilli, as it has been masked by a transparent sweet thai dressing with sprinkles of peanuts. 
But nothing could beat the large and succulent spencer gulf prawns that have been lightly breaded and deep fried. The coconut could not be detected but it was so fresh that we had no problems demolishing them.
Don't forget to spoon the speckles of garlic, green and red chilli padi on the prawn before putting everything into the mouth. These potent spices warm the belly in seconds.   
Just like the prawns which were Sustainable Seafood Movement, the Fish of the Day (price subjected to vary) features any fish that are caught on that day. We had the Drum fish, which has a moist and not-too-flaky texture. Dusted with black specks of olives and tomatoes, the al-dente penne pasta are a comfortable match to the fish. 
By then, we were pretty stuffed but marched off bravely to conquer the dessert platter. We were usually loyal fans of milky chocolate ice cream rather than sour apricot or raspberry sherbet. But it is the red and yellow granite balls that added sparkle to the rich caramel molten chocolate cake. 
The icy sensation melts into tart juices that brings everything alive, including the banana crepe with that is super crispy but rather hollow on the inside.  Meanwhile, though the sourishness of the baked figs on puff pastry made one's face pucker unknowingly, it was nice balance to the sweet vanilla Creme custard sauce.  
Whether it's main courses or desserts, Mezze9 delivers. And even though it is a 5-star restaurant, its set lunches are reasonably priced at $29 for 2 course and $39 for 3 course from Monday-Saturday. What's even more attractive for me is the flexibility to choose starter-main/main-dessert. 

With that in mind, I have plenty of solid good reasons to come back again.   

Mezza9 at Grand Hyatt
Lunch: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, daily 
Dinner: 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm, daily Sunday 
Brunch: 11:30 am to 3:00 pm, last pour at 2:45 pm

*Special thanks to Sandee for the invite and great hospitality.
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Vietnamese: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

If a shop calls itself authentic, then it must really have the good stuff to earn that name. And this Vietnamese hawker stall at Ghim Moh is a good example of cheap, delicious and authentic cuisine. 
Honestly, I seldom try Vietnamnese cuisine (the last one being Madam Saigon from Millenia Walk). But after hearing a tip-off from someone who has tried plenty of Vietnam food overseas, there must be something worth checking out.  
A Must Try dish is Bun thit nuong ($4.50), a colorful medley of soft bee hoon crowned with grilled pork, fried spring rolls, cucumber and pickled carrots, chilli, mint leaf and toasted peanuts.  I thought it looked dry but it wasn't. 
Once you tossed everything evenly, every bite is full of sweet and sour juices that is superbly appetizing and refreshing for a hot afternoon. The char siew pork could be more thinly sliced as it was slightly dry and not fully marinated. But that few pieces of pork would not refrain one from enjoying the bowl.  

For something hot, go for the Pho Bo- a slurpy piquant bowl of beef rice noodles ($4.50). This does not win points for complexity, but its simple ingredients--lean beef meat, mint leaf, corianders and a good beef stock bring out the flavours. Plus, it was not salty and so we emptied the bowl CLEAN. 
Mango and Seafood Salad ($4.50) might sound and look a lot like the Thai Papaya salad. But no, this packs a much bigger punch and does not require a lot of teeth work to digest the dominantly raw greens as in Thai Salad. 

Here, the mango are freshly grated into thin slices, then mixed with carrots and green papaya. The sweet-sour sauce tasted similar Bun thit nuong but this is so moreish that one goes for more helpings.  
We were too full for the Spring Rolls ($2.50 for 2pcs), which is made of same components as Bun thit nuong. If you have limited stomach space, it is better to opt for the Bun thit nuong.

All the food were prepared by the lady owner is a friendly Vietnamnese, who can speak in Chinese and English.
And every dish was excellent, from the noodles right down to the condiments. The light, non-greasy carbohydrates did not leave us feeling overstuff or thirsty. 

With such delicious, authentic and cheap Vietnam cuisine, I hope this stall can stay after Ghim Moh closed for renovation next year. 

Vietnamese:Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine 
01-32 Ghim Moh Market 
Open: 8am to 8pm daily
(Near to Holland Village/Buona Vista MRT)

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Lawn: Chic Garden of Greens & Meat

It's that time of the day again. Lethargic, listless......stomachs growl especially enthusiastically around noon and evening. But I have discovered a new delicious place in the CBD area, thanks to fellow foodie friend, Si Han, who introduced me to the Lawn.  Unlike the Biopolis outlet, one orders the salad just like how you order your Dimsum on a piece of paper.  After payment, receive this buzzer and wait patiently for the food. I actually prefer this style as one does not have to wait for people queuing in front to think and pick their own toppings and dressings.  
The basic salad base option comes with 5 toppings and 1 dressing at $9.90. But don't forget to tick the boxes of "grilled items"The wide gamut of chicken, beef and seafood--prepared with expertise--suggests that there is absolutely no lack of protein.
BUT....STOP, is it all meat? NOPE! Vegetarians can enjoy grilled asparagus, eggplant and mushrooms too!  
At the Lawn, dressings are the king. From gooey Maple Peanut Butter to Manly Mango, the dressings are potions that make salads come alive. Think of prawn paste in a plate of rojak.  

New concoctions are (bottom row from left): Beachy Peachy (peach puree with white wine vinegar),  Balsamic with Olive Oil (more for the angmoh tastebuds) and Wafu (one that sounds deceivingly Japanese but tastes richer probably by a factor of 10 with mayonaise added).One of the intriguing sauces was the orangey Me So Spicy sauce that reeked of Tom Yum.  For my customized salad, I picked the butter-seared Pacific dory which came in a huge slab piled on a vibrant mix of celery, olives, Beetroot, corn and crunchy granola. The giant salad bowls which were as big as claypot rice, left me in awe and I'm convinced it can easily feed any voracious eater.

For my dressing, I chose the Wasahoney, a green mixture of wasabi, honey and mayonnaise that looked like kaya, since I love spicy stuff. It threw me off the hooks as I was not expecting the wasabi to be so piquant that it choked my nostrils.  A good sign that quality ingredients are used. 

Carbo-lovers eat well here too. The olive rice, cooked according to the Teochew recipe of the owner's grandmother, is a tastier substitute for white rice that you can indulge with new grilled items like tender Cajun-style/Teriyaki chicken or even the garlicky Mixed MushroomsFor soup lovers, consider the soup shot ($2) or soup bowl ($4). We did not have to dive deep before finding loads of black mushroom bits in the velvety soup. 
Toppings for your salad/rice: Ben's Beef Rub
Toppings for your salad/rice: Grilled Mixed Mushroom 
Oriental Style Tasty Olive Rice
One need not be an expert to forecast which combination looks well as it will always turn out more beautiful than what you imagined. Here's a healthy salad pot with boiled eggs, Beetroot, olives, cherry tomatoes, grilled prawns sprinkled with Parmesan CheeseCafe hoppers may recognise this familiar cuppa of coffee. Yes, owner Jonathan, also a coffee guru and lover, is smittened with Smitten's coffee that he has decided to fetch the coffee drinks here from the Smitten Coffee & Tea Bar. 
By mixing and matching your favourite toppings and dressings, I'm sure one can never be bored of the food here. A meal at this outlet may cost more than a basic salad meal elsewhere, especially if you are famished. This is not because you are in the heart of CBD area, but because you are eating remarkably well. 

Shenton Outlet:

8 Shenton Way, #B1-11, AXA Tower

Mon-Fri 10.30am-9pm

Close on Weekends

Biopolis Outlet

31 Biopolis Way, Nanos #01-07, Singapore 138669

For more awesome reviews:
Special thanks to Si Han and friendly owner Jonathan for the invitation!
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Grub Singapore (Bishan Park)

I must confessed that I was grubby when I had to queue at 5.30pm sharp when the restaurant officially opens for dinner.
People had been queuing before the door opens. The no-reservation policy can be a frustration for people who travel far to this park for the food. If I had not lived nearby, I would skip my 45-min wait and head nearby for roti prata. 

So here's our dinner:
The Chilli con Carne ($8) was a simple appetizer of corn chips served with a stew of grass-fed beef chuck meat and beans. Served with sour cream and homemade green chimichurri, the blend of spices is weak and won't set your tongue ablaze.
Main courses range from mediocre to good. The Smoked Pork Belly ($15) was the first to be delivered to our tables. On a bed of smooth mash potato, mango sauce and cherry tomatoes, the orange block of meat is like a body-builder with a gentle soul. With a right ratio of fats to meat, it neither overwhelms with grease nor engage the teeth in a laborious sawing job.On the other hand, the Pan Fried Salmon $15 seemed like reinventing the wheel with a different protein. Old friends like the mash potato (replaced the unavailable risotto) and the green chimichurri (from the Chilli Con Carne appetizer) met again to greet the salmon.Yet, another fish was terrific. The Crispy Fish Burger $12 was constructed with a perfectly deep-fried golden monkfish served on a bright, tart remoulade sauce. Fish varies daily so you may get cod or hake. 

Being a supporter of Hugh's Fish Fight, I was happy to learn that the place uses sustainable fish. 

Besides, it was a courteous gesture of the staff to inform us about the tough texture of the monkfish to us during order even though the fish did not turn out that way. Fries were excellent too--crunchy with intense potato flavour.
We tried nearly everything on the dessert menu: Churros ($9) did not excite with any cinnamon aroma. The amount of sugar coating could have decreased, unlike those described in earlier online reviews. But the chocolate sauce was served cold, resulting in a rather glumpy, odd taste. Though the Belgian waffles ($8) are not the crunchiest ones but at least, it had a sturdy structure with some slight browned edges and fluffy interior. Thankfully, the hazelnut ice cream came in a generous scoop to pair with the unsweetened dough. 
The Panna Cotta $6.50  is so slippery that it becomes a skill to deliver substantial amount into the mouth. Very milky but too sweet. My threshold for chocolate was put to the test by the chocolate pot $8 (see top pic). It would be mission impossible to wipe off the extremely dense bittersweet ganache without the spicy cashew praline crumbles. 

The food here are normal western food which can be found outside a park so patience is the key if one really wants to dine in here. So the next time if I return for brunch, I would be dressed in my sports attire and go jogging to kill the time. (table availability is notified to you via an automated phone call) 

Food service is quite fast and the staff were not grubby at all; they wear a nice smile. 

510, Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 (Bishan Park 1) 
Singapore 569983 
Tue - Fri5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Sat - Sun9:00 am - 2:30 pm, 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm

For more restaurant-in-the-park post, read Wild Oats @ Punggol Park 

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