Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Top 10 Food Moments of 2013 - Singapore and Elsewhere

2013 started slowly, and for awhile, I was wondering if I would continue writing this blog. It was getting into a monotonous state of churning out endless reviews and recipes.

But as the year wore on, there was a renewed vigor and purpose, mainly through the discovery of new faces and new places.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Restoran G Cheong Fun in Johor Bahru - A Playful, Currified Twist on a Simple Classic Hawker Dish

We have come to love and enjoy chee cheong fun in its various guises, from the simplicity of hawker fare with just a thick sweet sauce, to the fine dining flourishes of dim sum restaurants served with shrimp, char siew and even scallops.

But boy, was I totally taken by surprise when JK told me there was a version in Johor that serves this familiar flat rice noodles with curry. I knew I was in for a treat.

Friday, December 27, 2013

District 10 Bar and Restaurant at UE Square - Something Old, Something New

District 10 is a fashionably new bar and restaurant in the corner of UE Square where Bakerinnz used to be. It has also undergone a major makeover and looks ravishing after the revamp.

There is a beautiful private dining room and a very cool looking bar to accompany the new menu that has been dished up.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh - A Season of Second Chances

Not everyone gets a second chance in life, and in a society where success comes first, we sometimes forget that there are those who have erred and are seeking redemption, and need all the assistance they can get.

It was two years ago that the Food Canon introduced me to Jabez Tan at Jalan Kayu where he first started the original New Soon Hua BKT there. And I have literally waited two years to write this piece.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cross Way Bay - Sio Bak This Good Should Be Deemed Illegal

After having a few bites, OFPF remarked, "Eh, maybe you guys should not write about this. We should keep this a secret so we can have this all to ourselves".

He said it with a devilish chuckle that for a second, I actually thought he meant it. And maybe he did. He's right, this is probably the summit of sio bak in Singapore.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Latte E Miele - Giddy Over Gelato

I joked to Marlon that people might nickname him the local Brando, but from certain angles, he does have a profile of Vitto Corleone, haha.

But Marlon, who works at Latte e Miele, is far from a Sicilian Don, and is in fact, one of the most personable F&B staff that I have come across in a long while.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Restoran Tua Thow in Johor Bahru - The Serenity of Homecooked Style Kway Teow Soup

There is always something about homecooked food that has that comforting appeal, something that is seemingly impossible to replicate in a commercial eatery.

There is an undeniable lightness of taste, a sense of hearty comfort that hits home with every spoonful. A sense that it will soothe whatever that has gone awry for that day.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pelangi City - The One Man Master Zhe Char Chef

The far more famous San Low was doing very brisk business that night, and the bright lights in this establishment seemed to indicate that it was soaking in all the spotlight around this area.

Not many folks would venture just across the road to a far smaller eatery, and with much humbler furnishings. There was literally a table lined up in a parking space, but the energy level was somehow even busier here.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Best Brunch Ever Cookbook from ToTT - It's Time For Singaporeans to Cook at Home

Yeah, it's time all of us learn to cook at home. It's not just about saving money as eating outside has become an increasingly arduous ordeal when it comes to price.

But, because it is also something that is very communal when you cook at home. When you can get everyone in the family to chip in to help concoct a meal, there is something special about bonding through cooking.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Kumartini at WA Dining Lounge at UE Square

He is called the head mixologist here, and that may be somewhat verbose for what is essentially a bartending position. But make no mistake about it, Kumar is one of the best bartenders in town.

And that is not just reflected in his martinis that he conjures up, but also the rapport and support he garners from his loyal followers.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Serenity Spanish Restaurant at Ngee Ann City - A Tale of Two Suckling Pigs

It was my mum-in-law's birthday bash, well, a small family one anyway. We had booked a week in advance at a notable Chinese restaurant Whose Name I Shall Not Mention (WNISNM).

And it was on a Sunday of all days. I guess I should have expected a crowd, but I seriously did not expect that big a crowd. Worse, I was made to queue another 15 minutes before I could get to the attendant.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Da Jie 大姐 Famous Wanton Mee - The Unbearable Goodness of Chicken Feet

Let's get this out of the way first. I am not a chicken feet person. I am always the first to politely refuse a helping of chicken feet at dim sum places.

Maybe it's psychological, but I know it's an acquired taste time for many. For those who acquired it, it is an absolute delicacy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Soon Soon Prawn Noodle and Zhong Mei Fried Carrot Cake - A Duo of Little Gems in Bedok

A Twitter follower from Mexico saw my photo of our local fried carrot cake and remarked "That does not look like any carrot cake I have eaten!"

Indeed, it is sometimes easy to forget that to folks from the west, carrot cake means a totally different thing. A dessert that accompanies a nice cup of Earl Grey, perhaps.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Essence of Food Blogging - Discovering and Sharing, Not Bragging Rights

There are all kinds of reasons why people blog, especially about food.

Just this week, one Singaporean blogger put up a post on the cost of blogging to perpetuate the reasoning that there is no such thing as a free meal.

And that has led me thinking, have we as a nation become so pedantic as to put a cost to everything?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Good Morning Nanyang Cafe - A Better Than Good Experience

Byron's moniker is liverpool, and obviously he is a die hard Liverpool FC fan. I am a Man U fan, and there is always that intense rivalry between the 2 clubs.

Nevertheless, I have an immense admiration for the Anfield fan that started this business of traditional coffee and toast despite coming from a totally different field.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ivy's Hainanese Mutton Soup - A Real Love Story

You would think Ivy is the main cook and owner of this traditional Hainanese mutton soup stall, and you would be wrong.

It's the husband that runs the joint, and despite being Hainanese, he has not known or cooked mutton soup until recently. And you wanna know why?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Restoran Chin Chin - The Incredible Wanton Noodles in Johor

Let's face it. There will never be a perfect plate or bowl of wanton noodles. There will always be a great component or 2, but no one will ever get everything right.

With that in mind, these days the one thing that will gravitate me towards a wanton mee stall is simply the noodles.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Volcano Coffee House, Lei Cha (Thunder Tea) - The Little Boy with the Adorable Big Eyes

The little boy's eyes peered from behind the wall as we drove up, the wall barely hiding his mischievous cheeky smile.

As we strode in, his eyes lit up further in excitement and anticipation. He knew we were not the regular locals that patronize this popular eatery, but out of towners descending upon their quiet but amiable surroundings.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Land at Johor Bahru - Of Chocolate Ice Kachangs and Nasi Lemaks and Rojaks

In life, if we can get to do one thing really well, we would be very fortunate. If we can even do 2, it's a blessing. But to accomplish 3 is a near miracle.

And that was probably what we witnessed in JB at this delightful little cafe that is so aptly named Happy Land.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kedai Bak Kut Teh Hin Hock - Heartwarmingly Delicious in Johor Bahru

Sometimes, it takes a trip out of Singapore to realise the things that we are missing in our homeland. And I not just talking about food.

It's the little things, that when combined together, make up a greater whole that is sorely lacking in Singapore today. And that's why, it was such a great pleasure to be eating at this humble looking place in Kedai, Johor.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hollandaise Roast Chicken Thighs with Butter Rice and Garlic Sprouts - A Simple Tasty Meal on a Sunday

Here's a simple weekend dish you can whip up for our family, and using only the simplest ingredients you can find in any supermarket here.

There are so fancy gimmicks here, so 30 hr sous vide proteins, or shellfish that costs a bomb, or special grains of rice that you have to travel a million miles for.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Splendid Hainanese Lunch - Soul Food That Is Homecooked Food At Its Best!

11.45 and we were on the way up when Soundman's call came through. "Is it the right address? No one seems to be answering the door."

And as we were getting into the lift, the signature aroma of Hainanese Chicken Rice was already infiltrating the entire block, all the way down to the first floor. Yes, we knew we were in for a real treat today. And then some.

Malaysia Boleh - Penang Chendol and KL Wanton Mee

We had originally wanted to visit the Power Nasi Lemak at Boon Lay, but it was closed for the day. Well, funny how some things turn out, but we eventually ended up at Jurong Point's Malaysia Boleh and was thrilled to find some gems there.

For those who are not in the know, Malaysia Boleh is a new food court concept started by the people behind Fei Siong, and while you may have some reservations over their other offerings, Malaysia Boleh is an altogether different proposition.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vietnam Splendor - The Scooter City of Hanoi

The city of Hanoi is literally filled with scooters. Cars are utterly swamped with the weaving in and out of scooters on every corner and every junction of the city.

From a visual standpoint, the traffic here seems even more dense than that of Bangkok, but for some reason, it never seems chaotic. In fact, there is some weird order in chaos voodoo magic working in the streets.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yusof Arni's - Cooking With Heart and Soul

I get cynical when people tell me they are cooking with their heart and soul, as I always discover that those that really do so do not need to trumpet so loudly the essence of genuine cooking.

Cooking with real heart and passion is about the actual delivery on the plate, not a slogan you need to brand. And thankfully, this is what I got from the couple that is Yusof and Arni, and at their humble eatery at Far East Plaza, appropriately called Yusof Arni's.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rilassi at Eunos

Chef Peter's success at Pietro has allowed him to start his 2nd outlet, this time near Eunos and simply called Rilassi, which is the Italian word for relax.

And relaxing it is, situated at a corner of a 2 storey shophouse, it is not air conditioned and yet it is fully comfy and cool for an alfresco like eatery.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vietnam Splendor - The Video

Vietnam is an incredible country and the Vietnamese is an incredible people. You see it on travel shows all the time, but until you get to the heart of Vietnam, and travel through the cities and its villages, you will not fully appreciate how beautiful the country of Vietnam is.

So often, Singaporeans have relied on tour groups to visit foreign countries, but trust me, Vietnam is a place best experienced if you travel there on your own, and let the adventurous side of you take over.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Indonesian Delights - Exquisite Food in a Kopitiam

Hidden away in one corner of a rather obscure Tampines coffeeshop is this rather delightful discovery of Indonesian cuisine. Yes, it may be housed in a kopitiam, but the lady owner serves up some rather delicious dishes.

And she has only been at it for a couple of months, and business has been slow due to its rather quiet location. Nevertheless, this place is something to shout about.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bishan White Bee Hoon - A Touch of Finesse

Since posting my own home version of the original Sembawang white bee hoon recipe, I thought it might be interesting if I could refine it and elevate to something that would not look and taste out of place in a fine dining establishment.

In doing so, my recipe has been modified and I have since named this version my definitive Bishan white bee hoon. It adds a couple of extra ingredients and coupled with a more elegant plating, it is now a favorite of Pauline's.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Autumn Red Snapper with Seasonal Vegetables and a Basil Sauce

There is a constant thinking among Singaporeans that fine dining cooking is out of the reach of the common man on the street, and fine dining food can only be found in expensive restaurants in places like Marina Bay Sands.

It is ludicrous the rates these places are charging, and despite the astronomical prices, it is, to me, not something that is so earth shattering that I will break the bank for it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Traditional Famous Prawn Mee at Bedok South - Amazing Dried Prawn Noodles

I believe I am not alone in saying that I am a bigger fan of the soup variant of our classic prawn noodles hawker dish than the lesser eaten dried version, and I would not blame you for being in the same league.

For the dried prawn noodles served in most places are usually less flavorsome and is usually boosted with an overpowering of chilli and ketchup that makes up for the lack of strong shrimp flavors, leaving behind just a very normal bowl of noodles.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yantra at Tanglin Mall - The Elegance of North Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is not necessarily the first thing that comes to my mind when it comes to fine dining, and even rarer is the opportunity to find one of the more exciting young chefs in Indian gastronomy in Singapore.

But such is the eagerness and enthusiasm inherent in Yantra's head chef, Asif Iqbal that one cannot resist but to make a trip down to Tanglin Mall to savor one of the most refined Indian fine dining establishments in Singapore.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Traditional Hainan Chicken Rice at Bedok South - A Taste of Twe Kee, The Way of Doing Authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice

It was a sad day for me when Twe Kee closed for good late last year, but I am happy for the uncle who has since been recovered and is enjoying retirement life.

But still, I was longing for that classic style of Hainanese chicken rice which Twe Kee did so exceptionally well, and how rare is it to find true and traditional chicken rice these days.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rokeby at Jalan Riang - Best Fish and Chips in Singapore

Fish and chips in Singapore is quite an elusive dish for me, not because you cannot find it, but I simply cannot find one that is really decent.

I still remember the best fish and chips I ever had was not even in London, but in a harbor cafe in Sydney where they served me a brilliant beer batter version that was truly unforgettable. And that was over a decade ago.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gold Leaf Taiwan Porridge Restaurant - A Taste of Authentic Taiwanese Cuisine

Do not be misled by the signage that says New Taiwan Porridge Restaurant today, for by the time you read this and make a trip to Amoy Street, it may revert to the actual name of Gold Leaf Taiwan Porridge Restaurant.

And the brand that is Gold Leaf is a nostalgic one for the older generation, who may know it from its former glory days at Oxley Rise, where it used to be one of 2 places to go to for authentic Taiwanese cuisine. The other being Oasis.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Making a Great Sauce For That Ribeye Steak - Forget the Wagyu and Sous Vide, The Sauce is King

The one thing when it comes to eating steak in Singapore is that the beauty of sauces is largely ignored. Very often, the focus is so much on the quality of the beef and the use of gimmickry like sous vide that very little attention is given to sauces.

That is probably the main reason why I hardly eat steaks outside these days. That, and the fact that steaks are so outrageously priced these days that it has become a luxury food more than anything else.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pek Kio Food Market Delights - Good Spice Carrot Cake and Hong Kong Style Chee Cheong Fun

This was the second time that I have been to Pek Kio to savor the infamous Wah Kee Prawn Noodles, something which seemingly had a reputation far larger than it could contain.

And again, it was closed. After perusing the web, I realised that I was not the only one who is having this same issue. It seems that this most notorious of prawn noodle stalls is never opened, at least not for the regular patron who wants to try.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Simple Bacon in Brown Butter Pasta - The Best Instant Noodles You Can Make at Home

It really perplexes me whenever I am queuing at a supermarket to pay, to see the people around me stocking up on cartons after cartons of instant mee in their trolleys.

Instant noodles has become the "go to" food for the majority of Singaporeans, it seems. And that is a bad sign. We have become so complacent when it comes to food and cooking that we are so willing to settle for cup noodles that we are seriously losing the ability to cook our own fresh food at home.

Monday, July 29, 2013

iBake at The Star Vista - A Prima Bakery Cafe

Gone are the days when Delifrance used to be the bakery cafe that everyone would go to for a meal or a quick bite. When they were at their height of their popularity, it was hard to even get a seat, and you would have to brave long queues just to get your food.

Unfortunately, these days, when you talk about European styled bakery cafes, there are hardly any around, while Delifrance is still around, it has changed quite a bit and even gone upmarket, with mixed results.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Prawn Mee at 527 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

After my discovery of Zhen Ming Prawn Noodles in Ang Mo Kio, I was pleasantly surprised to find another wonderful prawn mee stall in another part of Ang Mo Kio, this time in a food centre in Avenue 10.

The stall's name is simply Prawn Mee, which is kind of appropriate as it looked inconspicuous, but they actually served up a delicious and comforting bowl of classic prawn noodles.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hong Chang Wanton Noodles at Ang Mo Kio

Wanton noodles is one of those hawker dishes that exemplifies our hawker culture to the fullest, as it is meant to be a simple dish, made by heartlanders for the heartlanders.

After all, it is basically well cooked noodles, served with a bowl of soup dumplings and garnished with barbecued pork slices and some chinese greens. Yet, it is not always easy to get everything right.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shrimp and Chicken Surf and Turf - Making Good Use of Prawn Heads

Those who are good cooks will know how to make use of parts of ingredients that a number of people will discard, and when I see folks cook prawns, the first thing that come to mind is if they do peel their prawns, they will chuck the shells and heads into the garbage bin.

Which is a waste. And most other times, especially in Chines cooking, they will simply cook the prawns shell on, with the belief that the flavors will come through better.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bar Roque Grill at Amara - A Promising Beginning

It is interesting to note that with the increasing population, there seems to be an equally increasing amount of food joints mushrooming out in Singapore in recent times, though most have been quite forgettable and some really bordering on mediocre.

So, it was a pleasant surprise when I was privileged to be invited to a food tasting to discover a brand new establishment that strives to go back to some classic French roots cooking. That place is Bar Roque Grill, situated at a corner in Amara Hotel.

Monday, July 8, 2013

456 Mian Fen Guo - Comforting Ban Mian in Bedok

It's a bit sad and kinda disappointing that local food blogs are now focusing less and less on featuring hidden hawker gems in Singapore.

And what with the mockery of a hawker challenge with Gordon Ramsay, attention is given only to those who are famous and have actually moved away from their so-called hawker origins into air-conditioned restaurants and cafes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Best Singapore Food Blogs - My Favorite Top 3

After the recent noise over Singapore food bloggers issuing juvenile challengers to celebrity chefs, I thought today might be a good day to list down the really great food blogs and bloggers from this island.

I have previously done a top 5 list or something, but that was when I first started out blogging myself, and had little knowledge of the food community here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Gordon Ramsay Hawker Challenge - A Bad Idea, And a Better Way to Engage a Michelin Star Chef

This is another topic I have been avoiding for a week now, as I originally thought it would just pass by like any other weekly water cooler topic. But, evidently it has not.

I wanted to avoid talking about it as I felt such triviality did not warrant a genuine blog post, but with this latest Gordon Ramsay hawker challenge, I am compelled to put this down.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sergeant Chicken Rice - The Return of Sergeant Kiang in Hougang Kopitiam Food Court

I have been waiting to write this post for some time now, almost 10 months in fact, and the reason for this is twofold.

For one, I have hardly, if ever reviewed any food from a food court, and the reason is simple. Nothing really special ever comes out from food courts, and most of the time, you are getting overpriced but inferior hawker fare.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

iPad Menu Food Ordering - Dehumanizing The Dining Experience

As more and more F&B eateries in Singapore are faced with rising operating costs, certain eateries are turning to technology and gadgets to replace the human element.

One of the current trends is to take away the waiter and replace he or she with an iPad as an ordering alternative. This will inevitable reduce headcount and save costs in the long run.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Making Sembawang White Bee Hoon at Home

I blogged about this tasty little dish a while back, and since then, I have returned a few times only to find that I have to wait a long time because of the popularity of this eatery.

I thought that instead of taking the trouble to go all the way to Sembawang, that I should endeavor to recreate this dish at home. That way I can have it anytime I want, and save on the cost of eating outside, which is inflating like crazy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Ultimate Bolognaise

This past week, I was twice asked about making fresh sauces for pasta, as apparently, there are a number of folks here who would dearly make a fresh pasta sauce, but do not know how.

Inevitably, a lot of people will fall back on bottled sauces to make their pasta, and I always say this is the worst way to eat pasta.