Spring is here and Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom! One can experience gorgeous sightings at Auckland’s Cornwall Park. Here are some of my shots:
Puriri Dr, Epsom, Auckland 1051, New Zealand
I remember having to wait in line for a table at Founder Bak Kut Teh at Balestier Road, but the wait was always worthwhile, as Founder’s secret-recipe Teochew-style bak kut teh (pork rib soup) brings tremendous comfort to both the tummy and the soul. Apart from providing huge levels of comfort, the palate-pleasing peppery savoury goodness of the soup is what draws me back unfailingly. On top of that, the meat is perfectly tender and succulent, at its best when you pick up with your fingers and eat it off the bone. For all these reasons, I make it a point to visit Founder Bak Kut Teh at least once every time I return to Singapore. Furthermore, Founder Bak Kut Teh has been one of my favourite supper spots! Its first outlet opens till 2am, while the new outlet opens till 5am! Night owls, rejoice.
Founder Bak Kut Teh has been around since 1978, and is amongst the oldest and best. Wonder why they took so long to open a second outlet in Singapore to cater to the immense popularity, but thank goodness they finally did! In addition, its second outlet at Jalan Sultan is fully air-conditioned, unlike its first outlet that guarantees excessive sweating.
“Healthy food can never taste good.”
“You can hardly find a decent meal under $15 at Duxton Hill.”
As Ninja Bowl makes its entrance to the upmarket Duxton precinct, the above statements are proven redundant. Meals are affordably priced from $14 to $19, with no additional GST or service charge. Most importantly, they’re delicious.
At a glance, one would perceive the menu to be heavily inspired by Japanese cuisine. Well, it is. “Ninja Bowls” are wholesome meals encompassing a balanced ratio of protein and vegetable components, served in a sizeable bowl. Customers have the option of quinoa, “Ninja Rice” (a mixture of flavoured Japanese pearl rice and brown rice), orzo, or garden greens as their base.
The “Noka”, composed of 24-hour braised beef cheek, baby corn, Korean beansprouts, mixed nuts, onsen egg, semi-dried tomatoes, is one of my top picks. The beef cheek that is braised for 24 hours promises fork-tenderness.
Great flavour combination and textural contrasts. The other “Ninja Bowls” seem to possess this characteristic too.
Brettschneider’s Baking & Cooking School is where you can achieve your baking goals without having to part with a hefty sum of school fees that you would otherwise have to, at say Le Cordon Bleu, which is the ultimate choice for those who aspire to bake as a career. This is the perfect place for passionate home-cooks and home-bakers who want to take their skills up a notch.
“Rice Dumpling Festival” is what many of us would term Dragon Boat Festival. Why? Because Singapore’s immense passion for food supersedes traditional practices. How many of us know the full story behind Dragon Boat Festival? We might have heard various versions of its origins, but it ends there, and I’ll stop here before I start boring you with information acquired from the Internet.
We consume rice dumplings during this period of the year because firstly, it’s delicious! Secondly, it’s ubiquitous. There are small-scale stalls that sell rice dumplings on an almost daily basis, but it is only during the Dragon Boat Festival that you find various versions of rice dumplings in restaurants and hotels.
Over the years, I’ve always favoured Szechuan Court’s rice dumplings over others for many reasons. Quality of ingredients is one; generosity of ingredients is another. Taste, of course, is a huge motivating factor. Lastly, its size: I would dive into this massive bundle of deliciousness like how a bunny would into a pool of carrots.
Szechuan Court’s Signature ‘Gong Bao’ Chicken Dumpling ($26++, 600g)
This massive dumpling weighs a hefty 600 grams! My favourite flavour of all time, Szechuan Court’s Signature ‘Gong Bao’ Chicken Dumpling never disappoints. Encased within the glutinous, are tender pieces of well-marinated chicken boasting the right balance of spiciness and savouriness, and texturally contrasted with crunchy roasted peanuts.
Traditional Hong Kong Rice Dumpling ($18++, 300g)
The Traditional Hong Kong Rice Dumpling is another hearty option encasing succulent pork belly, barbecued pork, roasted duck, Japanese flower mushrooms, salted egg yolk, yellow beans, dried shrimps and chestnuts. I totally would mind this as a meal on a regular day!
Often, when foreign visitors seek local food in Singapore, they are directed to hawker centres, where our gems are. While there are plenty of food stalls in the bustling hawker centres dishing out truly Singaporean dishes, there isn’t one restaurant in Singapore that does all that with flair and sophistication, not until National Kitchen by Violet Oon came along. Potentially one of our national prides, National Kitchen by Violet Oon serves up significant dishes from various ethnic groups that make up the Singapore culture.
The lavish design and grandeur of the restaurant integrates seamlessly into the majestic architecture of the National Gallery Singapore and its vibe.
Just had to share. Top Cocktail Bar, Anti:Dote, launched a new cocktail menu, named The Revivals, that draws inspiration from the classics. Think: delicious classics re-imagined with a modern twist. The pages of the stylish menu show off the team’s artistic flair with sketches of the each drink in its befitting glassware.
And you’d be impressed with the elegant handcrafted Schott Zwiesel crystal glassware in which the drinks are served. Its classy aesthetics contributes no less to enhancing the enjoyment of the cocktails than the deliciousness itself.
What will the fire monkey year bring for us in year 2016? This article is for all my friends and readers, brought to you by Feng Shui expert Ivan Koh.
The goat year is coming to an end and another zodiac animal, the monkey, will soon arrive. The agile and nimble monkey traditionally symbolises intelligence, alertness, opportunism, attentiveness, and lovability. The Chinese celebrate their lunar new year on 8 February 2016 and most would assume it is the arrival of monkey year. However, according to the Chinese Farmer or the Thousand-year calendar, the New Year actually starts on 4 Feb 2016 at the rooster hour. It is a fire monkey year, and has the following combination of elements:
You can look back for major events that had happened in year 1956 because it was also the fire monkey year, and according to beliefs, history repeats. There were some major natural disasters such as earthquake, drought, fires, explosions, floods, hurricane, typhoon and storm. There were also accidents that involved transportation systems such as ship or ferry, railway, and airplane. Looking back, some form of disaster happening around the world each year seem inevitable. We could expect some of the events to repeat in year 2016, and again, let’s pray that the catastrophic effects are minimised.
The exotic Fugu (pufferfish or globefish), is extremely lethal if not prepared with extreme caution, and only chefs who have obtained a license and have gone through years of apprenticeships can serve fugu. Chef Moon of Mikuni at Fairmont Singapore is one such licensed chef with heaps of culinary talent and creative power. This winter, Mikuni draws on the fruitful supply of fugu and brings forth a Grand Tasting 8-course menu ($220 per person or $310 with sake pairing) that celebrates various parts of the Fugu anatomy, showcasing Chef Moon’s artistic strength in blending modern and centuries-old Japanese culinary techniques seamlessly.
Otoushi – Globefish Skin Jelly, Miso, Sushi Ball, Fugu Mirin Boshi, Caviar
The meal begins with “small bites” of jelly made from fish bone broth brimming of collagen goodness, sliced fugu on a sushi ball, and sun-dried fugu saturated in mirin topped with tuna belly tartar and caviar, a beautiful combination of taste and texture.
Keeping its standards on a consistent high, Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore never fails to bring smiles to every occasion every year. Once again, Goodwood Park Hotel spreads the Christmas cheer this year with an impressive range of sweet and savoury festive delights.
Nan Hwa Fishboat is one of the oldest fish head steamboat restaurants in Singapore, with a history of almost 90 years since its opening in 1927. I have been a quiet supporter of its flagship outlet at North Bridge Road. One thing that daunts me is the sweat-inducing environment. The impact of the tropical heat is amplified when you’re slurping on piping hot broth in a non air-conditioned space. While the amount of comfort the fishboat brings to me can easily help me overcome that factor, I have to admit some days I’m just too spoilt to want to endure the heat and sweating. Well, good news for those who can relate, because Nan Hwa Fishboat has recently opened its second outlet at Owen Road that boasts a refined space, larger, clean and bright, with air-conditioning.
The best part? Prices are similar, if not identical. In sight are long-time regulars, families and friends bonding over good food and conversations.
Premium Live Dragon Grouper Fish Head Steamboat ($38/$48/$68)
To begin, fish head steamboat is, of course, essential. Choose your preferred variety of fish with prices to match your budget, available in three sizes. this is the premium live dragon grouper fish head steamboat that comes with thick slices and chunks of fish, alongside the usual vegetables and yam. Soup is refillable, thank goodness, because I can’t ever get enough of it!
Prawn with Golden Pumpkin Sauce ($18.80/$28.80)
The prawn with golden pumpkin sauce is one of my favourite dishes to order alongside the steamboat. I was in disbelief when I was told there wasn’t any salted egg yolk in there, and I still don’t believe it. Anyway, the sauce is rich and flavoursome, fragrant of laksa leaf with a spicy kick from the chilli, the sizeable prawns are fresh and succulent.
Champagne Pork Ribs ($12.80/$18.80)
The champagne pork ribs is my second favourite dish. The sweet glaze brings so much delight to the palate; the pork is nicely charred on the surface yet so tender and juicy within.
Claypot Drunken Rice Wine Clam ($15.80/$20.80)
The claypot drunken rice wine clam brims with a potent hit of alcohol. I would have preferred it to have a nicer balance of broth to Chinese wine, but those who like their alcohol will enjoy this. You might be able to let the staff know about your preference, so as to adjust the wine intensity to your taste.
Stir-fry French Beans with Dried Shrimp and Chye Poh ($9.80/$14.80)
A Chinese meal is never complete without vegetables! The stir-fried French beans with dried shrimp and chye poh is a delicious option, with the dried shrimp imparting flavour and umami, the chye poh imparting saltiness and depth.
Nan Hwa @ Owen Road (Second outlet)
93/95 Owen Road, Singapore 218907 (outside Farrer Park MRT Exit D)
Opening horus: 5pm to 11.30pm (11pm last order)
Main Branch: 812/814/816 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198779
Opening hours: 4pm to 1am (daily)
Contact: 8613 2732
Being based overseas and now returning to Singapore for a short break, there is just so much I want to eat here, but so little time! For this reason I’ve got to be extra selective on dining options, more so than before. Jade Restaurant at The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore is one of the places where one can expect elegant Chinese cuisine with originality, and excellent service. Since my first encounter, Chef Leong Chee Yeng never fails to impress with his culinary artistry, his dedication, and fervent attention to detail. His culinary creations seem to possess the power to draw one back to experience recurrent brilliance and in anticipation for more pleasant surprises. This trip, I was just in time for the “Flavours of Chinese Spices” promotion that runs from 9 November till 30 November 2015.
The meal begins with the Tasty Trio Combination of Deep-fried Chilli Crab Meat Ball (one of their signatures) that won many hearts and continues winning hearts with its crusty breaded exterior, loaded with shredded crabmeat smothered in thick sweet and lightly spicy gravy that rounds off with a fragrant hint of lemongrass and ginger, Pomelo and Mango Salad topped with Crispy Peking Duck Skin that entices with the sweetness from the mango, tanginess from the pomelo, and the well-loved savouriness and crispness of the classic peking duck, and the well-liked Crispy Prawn coated with Chocolate Mayonnaise and Oat, an unusual combination, chocolate and prawn, but didn’t taste exotic at all.
Something new is brewing at Haagen-Dazs: a new generation of coffee beverages, where coffee meets ice cream.
From 13 November 2015, coffee lovers can enjoy illy coffee blended with a range of indulgent Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavours such as Macadamia Nut, Cookies & Cream, Vanilla, Strawberry and Chocolate. When coffee meets ice cream, you get a smooth and creamy mouthfeel; with the right ratio of coffee to ice cream, you get an enriched coffee beverage without the cloyingness. A non-coffee option would be the light and milky green tea latte made of Haagen-Dazs’ green tea ice cream and steamed milk.
Available both hot and cold, I personally find that certain flavours like the strawberry latte and the cookies & cream latte taste better presented cold. Especially when the strawberry latte that comes with tiny chunks of strawberry from the ice cream, biting into a warm strawberry chunk may be perceived as unsettling for some. Fruity and slightly acidic, the strawberry latte is one unique flavour concocted by the talented baristas from Bettr Barista Coffee Academy.
Out of the 6 creations, the Macadamia Nut Latte is a personal favourite. It’s smooth, creamy without being too thick, and boasts a subtle nutty background flavour. The coffee flavour predominates as it does similarly for the other beverages.
The lattes seem neither heavy nor too thick despite the addition of ice cream, very unlike milkshakes. They are available at the nine Haagen-Dazs outlets, retailing at $6.80 each.
For the full list of Haagen-Dazs outlets, visit facebook.com/haagendazs.singapore
1) The misconception that MSG leads to extreme thirst.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is composed of glutamic acid and sodium, where glutamate is found naturally in many ingredients you eat on a regular basis such as tomatoes, mushroom, anchovies and cheese. Fermentation, heat application (roasting, etc.), and ageing and can enhance the umami qualities of a natural ingredient. For instance, roasted/grilled mushrooms or tomatoes have heightened umami compared to raw mushrooms or tomatoes. Do these ingredients make you thirsty?
Sodium, however, may be the culprit. Although human bodies need a small amount of sodium for good health (e.g. electrolyte balance), too much of salt disrupts the balance of fluid in our cells (think: your body tries to draw more water to combat the excessive amount of salt). Salt is the component in food that makes you thirsty.
Many foods we consume outside are heavily salted, and we often put the blame on MSG for our extreme thirst. Umami can help create a fullness of taste and increase salty and sweet perceptions; appropriate use of MSG can reduce our sodium intake. Instead of boycotting restaurants that advocate the use of MSG over salt, thank them for lowering our total sodium intake (replacing salt with MSG can lower the total sodium content by about 30% to 50%).
2) Confusing flavour with taste.
When we eat, we often speak of the flavour of the food by what we taste with our tongue (taste buds), rarely by what we smell through our noses. Taste applies to sensations arising from the taste buds, where we perceive sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and umami, while flavour is a distinctive quality of food evaluated by multiple senses, including taste and smell.
When we are chewing our food, odour compounds are being released from the food, and chemical signals pass through the internal nares and are sent to the olfactory bulb and to brain informing it of the smell, and together with receptor cells in the mouth and on our taste buds, informing the brain of the flavour. This form of smelling is called retro-nasal olfaction (smell arising from inside the mouth), and what we are used to is ortho-nasal olfaction (external smell).
PappaRich @ Metro Centre, Auckland
Born and raised in Singapore (neighbour of Malaysia), and currently residing in New Zealand, hawker food is something I crave for and miss the most. Malaysian cuisine is the closest we can get to Singapore food, since they share many similarities (such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Roti Canai, Char Koay Teow, Nasi Biryani, etc.). For me, PappaRich hits the right spot on many levels when it comes to relieving homesickness and satisfying cravings. Before PappaRich came along, finding good authentic Malaysian food in Auckland city is a challenge (let’s just not even talk about finding authentic Singapore food anywhere outside of Singapore, because chances are near zero). Now, Malaysian cuisine is easily accessible, right smack in the city centre. Established in 2005 in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, PappaRich now has numerous outlets across South East Asia, Middle East, USA, Australia, with its latest venture in New Zealand. Expect a long queue at New Zealand’s first and only PappaRich! Malaysian cuisine lovers are certainly anticipating the opening of more outlets across New Zealand.
Pappa Char Koay Teow ($15.50)
For those who have yet to experience Malaysian cuisine, the dishes reflect the country’s cultural diversity; think: Malay, Chinese, and Indian cuisines. PappaRich serves up a variety of popular Malaysian dishes such as Roti Canai (Indian), Nasi Lemak (Malay), and Laksa (Chinese), matched with traditional flavours you find in Malaysia. In case you’re wondering where the name PappaRich came from, Rich is the name of the brand’s founding father.
What to order:
PappaRich Crispy Fried Chicken Skin ($8.90) – Snack on these addictively crunchy morsels while waiting for mains to arrive.
Roti Canai with Curry Chicken ($14.50) – Ubiquitous on the streets of Malaysia, roti canai is a must-order. It is a crisp and light flatbread with a slightly flaky surface. The open kitchen concept allows diners to watch how it’s being made (and tossed). Here, it is paired with various side dishes such as beef rendang (tender beef pieces stewed and coated in a rich and aromatic sauce), and tandoori (Indian, char-grilled) chicken, but the one with curry chicken is a personal favourite.
Roti Canai with Dhal, Curry Gravy & Sambal – The roti canai encasing beaten egg and sliced onion gives a whole new level of roti canai enjoyment.
Pappa Special Nasi Lemak with Curry Chicken and Sambal Prawns ($17.90) – With much influence from Malay cuisine, Pappa’s special nasi lemak is essentially aromatic coconut rice accompanied by succulent chicken in rich curry and piquant sambal prawns. Can’t go wrong! For another rice option, try the Indian Biryani Rice with Beef Rendang and Sambal Prawn ($17.90).
Curry Laksa ($15.50 to $16.90) – Curry laksa comes in three variants: with chicken, vegetables, or seafood, doused in a rich coconut-based curry. Try the Assam Laksa for a tangy and lighter version.
Pappa Chicken Rice with Steamed Chicken ($15.90) – Chicken rice is one of the dishes I miss most from Singapore. PappaRich manages to capture the essence of a good chicken rice, bringing forth fragrant rice infused with chicken stock, pandan leaf and the subtle aroma of garlic. The steamed chicken is served moist and tender, with a tasty concoction of light sauce, sesame oil, etc., and not forgetting the garlicky chicken rice chilli and dark sauce for additional flavour.
Pappa’s ABC Special with Premium Ice Cream ($11.90) – For dessert, try the crushed ice dessert (ABC) that comes with a range of toppings such as sweet corn, peanuts and lychee –a dessert typically consumed to beat the sweltering heat in Malaysia.
To speed up service and minimise miscommunications, PappaRich is utilising a fuss-free ordering system, where diners simply write their selection on an ordering chit, press a little button to get the staff’s attention, and the order is quickly processed.