Sunday, August 30, 2015

Noodle Evolution: Budding Chef from Hawker Master Trainer Program

Smacked right in the CBD is a noodle stall called Noodle Evolution that enjoys brisk business during peak lunch and dinner hours. The noodles here doesn't resonate as strong as its stall name but it is a real and good example of how our future hawker scene will evolve under the existing efforts to  preserve our hawker legacy.

Barely opened for a year, Noodles Evolution is run by 55 year-old Mr Peter Mok who successfully graduated from the Hawker Master Trainer pilot program, an initiative by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), National Environment Agency (NEA), property firm Knight Frank and The Business Times. 

Unlike other hawkers who silently prepares their food with a straight-face, Mr Mok seemed quite a friendly and approachable man who occasionally explained about his food to customers like me who had no idea which to pick.

Friday, August 28, 2015

East Manhattan Bakery Cafe @ Lorong Kilat

Being a full-time chef is never easy. Neither is being a full-time boss managing your own business. So one can imagine how tough it must have been for banker-turned-F&B entrepreneur John Wee who started selling his artisanal sourdough breads in Katong, and gradually expanding his business by opening a cafe in Upp Bukit Timah area. 
Amidst the competitive cafe scene, what makes East Manhattan stands out is the insistence of making almost everything from scratch, from the breads to the pastries to the sauces in the dishes. Take for example the Manhattan All Day Breakfast ($16.80) that is served on freshly made Spinach-Rosemary instead of English muffins. The eggs seem to be accidentally scrambled that day but this platter is pretty substantial to fill up any ravenous individual.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thye Moh Chan : Mao Shan Wang Durian Tau Sar Piah

With all kinds of mooncakes in fanciful flavors in the mooncake scene, it is always good to take a break and enjoy the teochew tau sar piah mooncakes. After all, these are still genetically mung bean paste pastries with a savoury touch, which implies that they are easier to consume than the average cloyingly sweet lotus-paste filled mooncakes.

Two years ago, I wrote about Thye Moh Chan's traditional tau sar piah mooncakes but not the durian version. This year, I finally have the luck to taste the premium Mao Shan Wang tau sar piah mooncakes. Encased within the flaky pastry shell is the durian-infused bean paste with a smooth texture nearly similar to a thick custard. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kagairo Kaiseki 日本料理 花外楼: Since 1830 in Osaka

Who says you have to order one set of kaiseki for yourself and become too full after that? At least not at Kagairo, an Osaka restaurant that is established since 1830. 

It was another unplanned visit just like the Nakano-ya but this hit the jackpot once again. As a restaurant which specializes in Japanese kaiseki, Kagairo played an important role in Japanese history as it was the venue where Osaka Conference was held in 1875 (Meiji 8). 

Several key agreements that were set during the Conference laid the foundation for subsequent political reforms including the Meiji Constitution. Hence, this is why I think it has positioned itself as a high-end restaurant that aims to preserve the essence and heritage of traditional Japanese cuisine.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dulcet & Studio : Back for the Ultimate $2.50 Giant Cream Puff

Even though I've restarted by baking engine, I still enjoy eating pastries more than baking them. Once in a blue moon, I still need to satisfy that damn cake craving of mine. There are plenty of cafes which sell cakes in Singapore but I can only name about 10 for the good quality ones. Put the cost-price performance into the picture and I can count less than 5. 

One of it is Dulcet & Studio, which I returned again mainly for their Choux Puffs. Years ago when cookie Choux puffs were not as popular as current times, Tampopo Deli's big and heavenly cream puffs were the best ones I could find in Singapore. 

Now that I am back to the same place renamed as Dulcet & Studio, their humble cream puff is still a miraculous wonder to indulge. With the lavish touch of vanilla beans in the overflowing amount of cream, it is quite unbelievable that they have kept the price unchanged at $2.60 or $2.50 per piece if you get two. 

Perhaps in light of the intensified market competition, there are new (or maybe not-too-new) Choux creations that caught my fancy. The Matcha Choux $3.20+ (see top pic), for example, retained the craggy and crisp shell but piped with matcha-vanilla cream swirl. Just like the perfect matcha roll cake which I raved non-stop previously, the scent and the flavour of the tea is intense and marvelous. 

Maybe it's also time for me to check out Tampopo's contender, Cafe Ma Maison, whose cream puff was remembered to be of the best quality and value at only $1.30 back in 2011 

I've lost count of the number of chiffon cakes I've had here before but I guessed I'll never be bored of them. Be it the matcha or the chocolate chiffon ($6.50+ each), the flavors come through the airy pockets beautifully, just like their cheese chiffon.

Possibly the only thing which disappointed slightly was the vanilla eclair ($5.20+). Pretty and dainty as it is, the pate de choux did not subscribe to the ideal crispness but was a little doughy. Perhaps I was too excited by the exotic corn and crunchy praline buenos filling that I overlooked the pastry side during my previous visit. But this issue is not too difficult to iron out. 

The Paris-trained Japanese chef just has to transfer some of the magic from the fantastic Choux crust into here. 

Average spending for 5 cakes per pax $13.70

Dulcet & Studio 
177 River Valley Road, #01-41/42 Liang Court, Liang Court, 179030
Daily 11am-11pm
No Service Charge

Friday, August 21, 2015

Kuehs and Snacks 老婶阿嬷潮州粿 @ Empress Hawker

I'm born in a family of Kueh lovers, not so much sweet but the savoury ones. Thanks to my Teochew Ah Pa who loves his Ku Chye Kueh, Peng Kueh and Soon Kueh, I would have them as breakfast before school and never got tired of it:) 

And just like him, I love Ku Chye Kueh the most. Hence, when the family dropped by Empress Hakwer Center for lunch, my father instinctively walked towards 老婶阿嬷潮州粿 for a box of Ku Chye Kueh (chives dumpling) even though we only planned to have Chye Poh Hor Fun there initially.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ah Teng Bakery @ Raffles Hotel Singapore

I don't know who is Ah Teng but I know that this bakery cum local cafe of Raffles sells affordable and delicious French pastries, peranakan kuehs and breads. 

Only after reading up on the history did I discover that Ah Teng is named after a famous local baker known for his skills in Western pastries. His confectionery used to be located in Victoria Street and Raffles Singapore decided to name its bakery after this traditional shop since both share the same concept. 
It has been years since my last visit and I was happy to spot new items recently when I had to run errands in this area. Just like all my previous visits, I took away some cakes and pleased to say that none of them disappointed. 

The first that caught my eye was the SlingaPore, a pastel pink #SG50 cake inspired by our local cocktail Singapore Sling (Picture posted on my instagram account @dairyandcream ). The pineapple mousse was utterly smooth yet delicate, as if it was going to dimple at the slightest pressure. However, this was more sweet than zesty as the dual forces from the raspberry marmalade and pineapple mousse ousted the lime sponge. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Foong Kee @ Keong Saik : Wanton Mee and Roasted Pork

Yay! Finding the wanton mee that I love feels like winning lottery. 

After the previous disappointing experience at RedRing, I finally met the noodles of my love at Foong Kee Coffee Shop. Tossed in a special savoury sauce blend of oyster sauce, soy sauce, lard oil and belachan chili, the thin noodles are cooked to perfectness; springy with a firm bite. A superb achievement given that most stalls tend to overcook their noodles. 

Roasted by the self-taught chef Wong Wai Chew, the char siew was fatty, chewy with the perfect hint of sweetness and the meat glistens beneath the dark brown surface, albeit occasionally charred. 

The char siu was so tasty that they nearly stole the limelight away from the plump meaty wantons, but failed because the portions were paltry and scattered in rather haphazard fashion (perhaps they were too busy). 

Nonetheless, that was a tremendous bowl of wanton mee that left me wanting for more after emptying the entire plate, unlike some sweet sauce-based wanton noodles which I barely chow through just not to waste my money. No wonder it was selected as the Best Wanton Mee in Singapore by the Straits Times.

Another pride of this humble stall is the siew yok (roast pork belly). We had the smallest portion at $5 to share and it was crisp as expected, with even layerings of fat and meat that made these morsels so scrumptious. A bowl of rice would go well with them as the lean meat portion is quite salty. 

My friend preferred Eng's noodles over the noodles here but I would still pick these thinner strands here without the distraction of any self-service chilli sauce. Even though both of us were roasted under the hot temperatures during our weekend lunch visit here, we could not help smiling in satisfaction to have finally tried one of the tastiest wanton mee purveyors in town. 

We paid $5.50 per pax.

Foong Kee Coffee Shop
6 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089114
Daily except Sun/PH: 11am-8pm

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Patisserie La Terre : C'est la vie de nature

La Terre is a corner patisserie-bakery located at the basement of Shibuya Foodshow. It might appear as just another departmental store cake shop selling beautiful cakes and bread but in fact, it is more than just that. As the name suggests, the focus here is on natural ingredients from the land or the "terroir" Hence, all items are made without any artificial colorings, additives and ingredients such as wheat flour, milk, eggs, sugar and butter are all sourced from the best farmers or suppliers in Japan. 

While this sounds like their cakes will fetch a high price due to the premium ingredients, the average cost of their items fall between ¥400 to ¥600, which is highly reasonable and on par to the market rates. Seasonal items are usually more expensive especially when fruits are concerned.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Breadtalk Mooncakes 2015 : Varlhona Chocolate Truffles and Hello Kitty

It's good to be home. 

Yes, especially this year when I have returned home to spend the upcoming mid-autumn festival with my grandparents and parents. This year, Bread Talk has introduced a range of traditional and snow skin mooncakes that are centered on the theme "花好月圆、全家团圆". Apart from the 8 new flavours including Green Tea Azuki, Chocolate Brownie, Yuzu Lotus, Jasmine Tea and Black Sesame, they have also launched a limited edition Hello Kitty Mooncakes!
Presented in an elegant blue double-tier box with orchid flower motifs, the "Joyous" series ($63.80) contains 8 pieces of snowskin mooncakes in enrobed with luxurious Varlhona chocolate truffles.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well these mooncakes have been crafted as the lotus paste was restrained in sweetness beneath the smooth, chewy skin of the desired thickness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

POH @ Empress Road Market : Teo Chew Chye Poh Hor Fun

If you are on a diet or is highly conscious about the fat content in your food, then I highly recommend you to skip this place as you will not be able to enjoy the Chye Poh Hor Fun to your fullest contentment. Worst still, you might be doing a grave injustice to the the diligent hawker who has whipped up such an amazing dish if you could possibly not finish it.

Poh is a two-year old stall at Empress Hawker which sells Teo-chew style comfort food, Chye Poh Hor Fun at a standard rate of $5, a far cry from the hefty price tag of $10-12 in local Teochew restaurants

Monday, August 10, 2015

O'ma Spoon Korean Dessert Cafe

It’s the simple things that are the hardest to get right, but O'ma Spoon manages to master the science behind this popular shaved ice dessert as the texture of the ice is just as fine as powder snow. After its first successful outlet in Marina Square, the first Korean dessert franchise in Singapore opens another outlet at 313 Somerset where it continues to sell its fluffy milk flakes aka Bingsu 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Kimuraya : The Great Grandfather of Modern Anpan Bread

I really thought that Kimura-ya 木村屋was opened by famous pop idol Kimura Takuya when I was a kid. That was, of course, before I even knew how to pronounce あいうえお (A-I-U-E-O) 
Anyway, I believe this traditional bread house needs no further introduction. Established its roots in the glitzy branded Ginza district, Kimura-ya's four-storey high wooden structure did not appear too incongruous with the rest as it was rebuilt in Showa 2 after the Kanto Earthquake. Day and night, you can see tourists and locals alike thronging this shop for its wide selection of breads, and most importantly, its legendary an-pan bread

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Pelican Seafood Bar & Grill : All-NEW Raw Bar

Dining at the Pelican brings me back to those movies in which the lead characters would dine at a waterfront seafood restaurant, enjoying a plate of fish and chips with some beer while watching the seagulls fly. There is no fish and chips here or any picturesque sea view, but there is a gorgeous view of Marina Bay and bountiful marine favourites to feast at Pelican Seafood Bar & Grill. 

Helmed by Austrian Chef Jonathan Sparber, the Pelican introduces an all-new "RAW" bar featuring delicacies such as Maine Lobsters and caviar. The concept of raw food was rather fuzzy to me initially. I thought I was going to have only raw food for the entire dinner. But as often said, the best way to digest an unfamiliar concept is to taste them. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Okayama Fair at Isetan Scotts : Giant Peaches and More!

Peach Compote and Tangy Peach Salad Dressing
Do you know that Okayama is the largest city in Chugoku prefecture after Hiroshima? Being known as the "Fruit Kingdom", the city takes pride in its plump and juicy white peaches as well as white seedless grapes that are bestowed with the Royal title of "Muscat of Alexandria". 

Bounded on the South by the Seto Inland sea, the place is also famous for its high quality oysters which has been turned into casual yet mouthwatering B-kyu gourmet dishes like oyster okonomyaki and oyster rice.
From now till next Thurs 28th, Isetan Scott's will be holding its inaugural Okayama Fair so that you don't have to fly to Okayama to get a taste of the fresh produce. Here are some of the highlights:  
Milk Soft Serve with Fresh Okayama Peaches ($8) 
It might just look like a slice of peach but there are chunky bits inside the gelato as well. Not the cheapest ice cream around but you know you are paying for quality ingredients
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