Cooking with Dancing Chef’s Pineapple Rice Paste and Tom Yam Paste

It used to be almost impossible for busy executives to cook a decent meal at home, especially after a toiling day at work, much less restaurant/hawker-quality Asian cuisine. The amount of time one needs to spend on prepping the ingredients is enough to deter. Now, with the aid of Dancing Chef, you can flaunt an impressive spread, ready in a flash.

Dancing Chef was my best friend when I was based in Melbourne for a month, homesick and craving for Asian cuisine. The brand carries a range of easy-to-use Asian cooking pastes and stir-fry sauces encompassing the tastes of Thai, Chinese, Singaporean and Indonesian cuisines. It’s good to know that the pastes embody only natural ingredients, with no added MSG, preservatives, artificial flavouring or colouring. The basis of a cooking paste involves the chopping, blending and pounding of ingredients, which Dancing Chef has got it covered. You can make your own paste from scratch (which I have done before), but it takes lots of effort and time (though I would say it is worth it if you have time to spare).

So with the convenience of Dancing Chef’s cooking pastes, all we need to do is add in a few key ingredients such as fresh meat and vegetables, cook for a few minutes and the meal is ready to be enjoyed. With the cooking pastes, you can rustle up the meals easily, quickly and consistently. The cooking pastes also presents as a base for further enhancement, where you can allow your creative flair to shine by adding your own unique touches.

Here’s just one of my many experiences with Dancing Chef’s cooking pastes: Pineapple Fried Rice paired with Tom Yam Soup.

The soup requires almost zero effort: just throw in the ingredients in a pot of water in the correct sequence and viola! The method of cooking is written on the back of each package so it’s really no-brainer to prepare meals with Dancing Chef. Ingredients needed for the Tom Yam soup includes Dancing Chef Tom Yam Paste, prawns, straw mushroom, water, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal and parsley. The spice level is pretty much toned down so you can choose to intensify the spiciness by adding some freshly cut chillies. I also added some cabbage and carrot along with chicken broth for more flavour. Just be careful how much water you add so as not to dilute the paste too much.

For the Pineapple Fried Rice, begin with Dancing Chef Pineapple Rice Paste, cooking oil, diced prawns and chicken, sliced onion and cooked rice.

Follow the method on the package if it’s your virgin cooking experience. The instructions are uncomplicated and easy to follow. It says to fry prawn and chicken until cooked then set aside, followed by the sautéing of pineapple rice paste and onions together. Add rice last. I sautéed the onions for a bit before adding the cooking paste, that’s all I did differently.

The most challenging part of preparing this meal is actually getting the pineapple fruit out of its “shell”. You will need a special carving tool for this. I resorted to using a kiwi slicer that looks like this:

…that I got from Chefland in Richmond, Victoria. They’re open 7 days a week and can be contacted at 94297085. Location:

There’s bound to be a better tool more suitable for taking the flesh out of the pineapple shell. If you come across any, do let me know where I can get it!

For more information on Dancing Chef, visit http://www.dancingchefonline.com/.

Délifrance offers Pizza with a unique French twist

Well-loved French café, Délifrance, adds three new variants to its one-of-a-kind Pizza Baguette menu. I’m not sure about you but Délifrance is what ignited my love for French baguette. The brand is possibly the pioneer in Singapore to popularise French pastry (I loved their croissants endlessly). The Pizza Baguette is where France meets Italy; it is essentially French baguettes with pizza toppings fused with mozzarella cheese. I call it the French pizza.

The existing Pizza Baguette menu – which includes the Vegetable Pizza Baguette and the Tahiti Pizza Baguette – sees the addition of Hawaiian, Spicy Chicken Delight and Tuna variants. The Hawaiian Pizza Baguette comes with juicy pineapple chunks, chicken ham and chicken sausages; the Spicy Chicken Delight comes with fresh capsicums, marinated chicken and pineapple chunks; and the Tuna Pizza Baguette comes with light flaky tuna, mushrooms, capsicum and onions.

Pizza Baguettes are available a la carte for $5.80 per piece, or in a Set Meal at $9.90 per person. The meal includes a Pizza Baguette, soup of the day and a choice of drink. Couples can enjoy a Set Meal for 2, which includes a Pizza Baguette, a choice of Chicken Rendang Baked Rice or Pesto Chicken & Mushroom Baked Macaroni, and 2 drinks at $18.90. All products are halal certified.

For the list of locations, visit http://www.delifrance.com.sg/outlets.

(Travel recommendation) Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok

Worldly travellers and business travellers alike will adore Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok –there are no reasons not to. The façade spells chic and sophistication, fronting with tall floor-to-ceiling glass panels that extend to the second storey, inviting guests to a bright and expansive lobby adorned with intriguing modern art pieces.

Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok is conveniently located in the heart of Sukhumvit’s business, shopping and entertainment district, a five-minute walk from the train station (BTS) Phrom Pong station as well as the popular upscale shopping mall Emporium. Guests have easy access to many shopping destinations around Bangkok via the BTS, such as Terminal 21, MBK Centre, CentralWorld, Siam Paragon and Jatuchak weekend market.

Setting the benchmark in the hospitality industry, the Hilton Worldwide group has always aced in every aspect of a traveller’s needs; Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok is no exception. Take for instance the comforts of the room in which guests would hold trust in the hotel for cleanliness and hygiene on top of luxurious fitment. Continue reading

Burlamacco at Amoy Street

A quaint Italian eatery sits along the stretch of Amoy Street, headed by a true-blue Tuscany-born Chef Gabriele –an indication of the authenticity of its cuisine. Already clinching the approvals of foodies, backed up by rave reviews, Burlamacco impresses with great culinary flair, with no pretentiousness involved.


Hand Chopped Red Tuna Tartar served with Avocado “Battuta” ($26)

Chef Gabriele’s approach to food is fun yet professional, staying true to his Italian roots while adding a few modern touches. He takes pride in the aesthetic aspect of food, with each dish making a visual impact.

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50% off buffet for 2 at Ellenborough Market Café at Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore with American Express Platinum Card

Ever since I signed up for the American Express Platinum Card, I’ve been taking what seems like a penny-wise step, revolving many meals around the benefits the card offers. Amex has always been known for great dining perks, especially when it combines two popular dining discount programmes –Classic Far Card Membership and PALATE programme.

Read about my previous dining experience with the American Express Platinum Card where I saved over $100 at Tung Lok Seafood Restaurant, under the PALATE programme: http://melicacy.com/?p=7702

The Classic Far Card Dining Membership offers vouchers and unlimited dining benefits at all food and beverage outlets at participating hotels, namely Fairmont Singapore, Swissotel The Stamford Singapore, Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore, Swissotel Nankai Osaka and Swissotel Nai Lert Park Bangkok. As members, our share of the bill is complimentary when dining with at least one paying adult.

Here’s a breakdown of the discount system: member plus 1 guest (2 adults) will be entitled to 50% off the bill; member plus 2 guests (3 adults) will be entitled to 33% off, member plus 3 guests (4 adults) will be entitled to 25% off, member plus 4-9 guests (5-10 adults) will be entitled to 20% off; member dining alone will be entitled to 10% off.

With such an enticing offer, I dined at Ellenborough Market Café at Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore on two separate occasions and I literally only paid only for the price of one meal. For two to dine on weekend dinners, the original price was $116 (before GST & service charge). After discount, it was $68.27 ($58 plus service charge and GST). My dining partner and I split the bill and paid only $34 each! And that’s for a sumptuous top-notch buffet dinner.

The buffet is consistently superb; it is pretty obvious the kitchen and service crew take great pride in their job, efficient and organised in their respective scopes. The food, takes one to gastronomic paradise. The theme is decidedly Asian-Peranakan, with perennial favourites like Durian Pengat, Kueh Pie Tee, Steamed Fish, Fried Noodles at the live station, and more. To get your money worth, indulge in fresh crustaceans, sashimi and wok-fried crayfish. Ellenborough Market Café is undeniably one of the best buffets in Singapore.

Sign up for your own American Express Platinum Card here to enjoy great dining discounts: https://www.americanexpress.com/sg/platinum-credit-card

For reservations, call (65) 6239 1848/1847 or email emc.reservations@swissotel.com.

Ellenborough Market Café
Lobby Level, Swissotel Merchant Court
20 Merchant Road
Singapore 058281
Website: http://www.swissotel.com/hotels/singapore-merchant-court/dining/ellenborough-market-cafe/

Tony’s Pizza: The Monster Pizza Challenge

Tony’s Pizza is a casual pizzeria serving up the true New York style pizza, with its flagship outlet at the junction of River Valley and Zion Road, a short walk from Great World City shopping mall. Its recent expansion sees its second outlet at Bugis Junction.

The pizzeria features many furnishings and memorabilia from New York, truly bringing a slice of New York to Singapore. Pizza lovers can choose to dine-in or takeaway.

Tony’s Pizza also offers delivery, but only to locations in close proximity to the store as the delivery guy goes around on a bicycle –New York style! For delivery, call (65) 677-PIZZA.

Those with unusually huge appetites or those who can eat at an incredibly high speed, The Monster Pizza Challenge will give you an opportunity to test your limits. Having done several food challenges previously (such as burgers, dim sum, buffalo wings, and more) I was eager to sink my teeth into pizza this time round. Continue reading

Royal Pavilion’s Hairy Crab Seasonal Menu (5 October to mid-November 2014)

Unlike the usual crabs we have in Singapore all year round (think: the likes of chilli crab, black pepper crab, salted egg crab, … you get the drift) that are loved for the juicy and succulent crabmeat (that are also often painstaking to crack and pry open to obtain), the seasonal hairy crabs are loved for a different reason altogether. The furry claws make it easy to distinguish the hairy crab from the rest. These miniature-sized crabs, as small as the size of a human palm, are highly prized for the rich golden roe that you scoop off the shell with ease.

With the hairy crabs in season (or rather, the best time of the year to consume, when the quality of the crab roe is at its peak), restaurants are taking the opportunity to include this delicacy in their seasonal menus. Royal Pavilion, a relatively new but increasingly reputable Chinese restaurant at Park Regis Singapore, is no exception. (Hint: the dim sum items are superb, some of which inventive.) The dynamic team of chefs at Royal Pavilion are set to revolutionise the way of serving hairy crabs, with complementing ingredients and compelling cooking methods.
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50% discount at Tung Lok Seafood at Orchard Central with American Express Platinum Card


Razor Clam steamed with Garlic and Vermicelli ($10 per piece)

I recently dined at Tung Lok Seafood Restaurant at Orchard Central and scored myself a great bargain of 50% off; it was almost like I robbed them of $100 worth of food. With the American Express Platinum Card, I have the liberty of ordering more than I normally would, or pick items that are doubly expensive, without exceeding the usual budget.


Braised House Special Beancurd with Nameko Mushrooms and Vegetables ($18)

The American Express Platinum Card has soon become a card gourmands can’t leave home (or live) without; it comes with free membership to two popular dining programmes –the Classic Far Card Membership, and the PALATE programme. Under these two programmes, card members get to enjoy dining perks at over 80 restaurants.

The PALATE programme and the Classic Far Card Membership are pretty similar; they both offer discounts of up to 50% off the bill at participating outlets. To be precise, the Palate Dining Privileges are as follows: 1 diner will be entitled to 15% off, 2 diners at 50% off, 3 diners at 35% off, 4 diners at 25% off, and 5 to 20 diners at 20% off.


Raw Oyster ($3.80)

Tung Lok Seafood Restaurant offers a wide range of seafood, from oysters to clams, lobsters to crabs, and fish to prawns, available in a myriad of cooking styles. Continue reading

La Mère Poulard Cookies

The popular French cookies by La Mère Poulard have recently captured attention with the new vibrant packaging. Carrying on the brand’s 126-year heritage, the new packaging retains the image of Mont Saint Michel – a well-known French heritage site famous for its history, architecture and landscape – where the brand was conceived back in 1888.

The cookies come in five different flavours – Chocolate Cookies, Les Galettes Caramel (a personal favourite; sweet, crunchy and fragrant), Red Fruits Cookies, Les Sablés (Butter), and Traditional Cookies – and are available in all major supermarkets island wide. You can also purchase online at Healthy Gourmet online store: http://shop.healthygourmet.sg.

Antoinette Restaurant, Påtisserie & Salon de Thé


The Queen’s Vacherin ($25) – rose petal meringue filled with yuzu cream, vanilla bean ice cream, vanilla crème chantilly, lychee, strawberries and raspberries, crowned with spun sugar

Antoinette has carved a huge name in Singapore’s dessert field, satiating sweet tooth(s) of all ages and genders. So much so the savoury items are often left out of conversations, underemphasised, undervalued. It’s time to give the savoury menu a time to shine –not that it needs a desperate call for attention, but it does deserve special mention.

The brand (and appellation) is inspired by the famous last queen of France, Marie Antoinette. Conceived by Chef Pang Kok Keong, Antoinette Restaurant, Påtisserie & Salon de Thé has 3 outlets: its flagship store at 30 Penhas Road opened in June 2011, second at Mandarin Gallery opened 2 months later, and the third and largest (3100 square feet) opened in 2012 at Palais Renaissance. The outlets exude the style and ambience of Marie’s favourite hideaway chateau, the Petit Trianon, in the gardens of Versailles.

The flagship store at Penhas Road for instance is bedecked in an eclectic mix of charming furniture evocative of the late eighteenth century neoclassical style.

Chef Pang’ has a strong foundation in classical French cuisine, and is highly gifted in both the sweet and savoury departments. The dedication and precision he applies to his sweets are also applied to savouries, which are bound to impress fastidious diners. I never knew this before, but the savoury menu is available across all three outlets.


Quinoa Salad ($16.50)

First to impress is the artfully presented Quinoa Salad, composed of rocket leaves, compressed watermelon chunks, roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, sour dough chips, feta cheese, sherry vinaigrette and extra virgin olive oil. Scoring high distinction for the excellence in the coalition of ingredients, the contrasting textures work well together. This is one salad that leaves a deep impression and builds up desire. Continue reading

(Recommended Luxury Accommodation in Bangkok) Conrad Bangkok

In November 2013, Conrad Bangkok earned the title of Country Winner Thailand, Luxury City Hotel, in the World Luxury Hotel Awards, competing together with over 1,000 hotels from 87 countries nominated to participate across 50 categories including Luxury Private Island Resort, Casino Hotels, City Hotels and Lodges. In addition to that prestigious award, they also triumphed in The International Hotel Awards with a triple win with Best Conventional Hotel Thailand, Asia Pacific and International.

Conrad Bangkok also received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award in May 2014, given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, with ratings of at least four out of five, taking into account the volume and recency of reviews.

Also worth mentioning: green advocates will be pleased to know that every bulb throughout the hotel will be entirely replaced with LED lightings – which are brighter and significantly more efficient than fluorescent counterparts – as a measure of promoting a greener future through energy savings.

Having gathered all these news, I figured I couldn’t possibly miss out on Conrad Bangkok as part of my agenda during my work-come-leisure trip. Continue reading

Gyoza-Ya at Robinsons Orchard, Singapore

I don’t mind myself eager to write about restaurants that are just average. The reviews you see on Melicacy sit on both the extreme ends of good and bad. Restaurants that are really good deserve special mention; likewise, I find it mandatory to warn others about restaurants that are really bad so readers don’t have to go through the same utter nightmarish experience that I did. Gyoza-Ya happens to be one I feel deserves glowing reviews.

As a specialist in making gyozas, Gyoza-Ya has adopted the latest Japanese technology to assist the kitchen team in producing fresh gyoza at high speed. With this (not-so-secret-anymore) culinary weapon, each gyoza is consistent in weight and size.

The 77-seater restaurant at Robinsons Orchard (the former Heeren Mall) features an open kitchen concept. Diners can choose to sit around the kitchen (with 31 seats available), decidedly the front row seats to “live cooking entertainment”. Continue reading

Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa (with 2 featured recipes)

Since January 2012, Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa has been indulging visitors with a mouth-watering plethora of Malaysia’s flavourful hawker fare.

Stalls whipping up dishes from around the Peninsula include KL Claypot Rice and Klang Bak Kut. There are over 20 stalls, some of which are halal-certified, such as the Kampung Nasi Lemak stall ($5-$6.50) and the Roti Canai & Nasi Briyani stall (under $7.50). Penang Char Koay Teow has consistently been the bestselling dish.

To keep things exciting, there’s the monthly special. The featured dish is available only throughout that particular month. Last month in September, Durian Chendol ($4.50) took centre stage. Thick and creamy durian puree crowns the standard dessert of shaved ice with red beans, green jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar. The green chendol jelly found in this Malaysian dessert is made from scratch here. This dish evoked memories of RWS’s annual Durian Fest –nothing quells durian cravings like it does.


Duck Satay ($13 for 10 sticks)

This October, guests to Malaysian Food Street are in for a special treat. If you find chicken, pork and beef satays too “mainstream”, the duck satay may come as a delightful diversion. I’m not an ardent fan of duck meat, but this duck satay is one of the best satays I’ve had, so juicy and succulent. Chunks of duck meat are marinated overnight with turmeric, onion, garlic, lemongrass, salt and sugar before they are barbecued over charcoal fire still slightly charred. The duck satay is paired with a specially concocted sauce made of crushed peanut and fresh pineapple puree. This is a must-try!
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(Recommended accommodation in Johor Bahru, Malaysia) DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru

DoubleTree by Hilton expands its presence with the launch of its Johor Bahru property to meet the growing demand for upscale hotels in Malaysia’s southern region. One distinctive trait of the hotel chain is its hospitality that begins with a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival, which characterises welcome and care in DoubleTree by Hilton’s culture. The hotel chain has been baking these signature chocolate chip cookies for travellers all over the world for the past 25 years.

Fact: DoubleTree by Hilton gives out approximately 60,000 chocolate chip cookies to guests each day, adding up to more than 21 million cookies annually.

Since the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru in July, more than 10,000 chocolate chip cookies have been given out to guests.

Located in the Central Business District of Johor Bahru, the hotel is less than 5 kilometres from the Johor-Singapore Immigration Checkpoint, and 25 kilometres from the Senai International Airport. Its accessibility to Singapore and Changi International Airport is a major plus to international travellers.

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Open Door Policy at Yong Siak Street

Open Door Policy, Tiong Bahru estate’s well-loved modern bistro since October 2011, opens its doors to fresh and bolder ideas with a new head chef, Daniele Sperindio, helming the kitchen.

Chef Sperindio began his culinary journey at a tender age of 13 in Genoa, Italy, and honed his culinary skills in Paris and Monte Carlo after he completed training at the Professional Institute Marco Polo. He was also the sous chef of Michelin-starred Antica Osteria del Bai of Genoa, and has worked in fine dining restaurants in the US. He adds to his portfolio a Sommelier certification from the United States Sommeliers Association (USSA), for the benefit of marrying food with wines beautifully with a deeper understanding.


Beetroot Risotto (cooked in sherry vinegar) topped with Feta Goat Cheese and Pea Tendrils ($25)

Open Door Policy is favoured for its modern cooking techniques, which bring out the best of the ingredients and adding sophistication to hearty contemporary classics at the same time –essentially eclectic comfort food coked with finesse. The menu undergoes a major revamp, replacing 70% of list with exciting new dishes.

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