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Archive for May, 2011

Sunday Times ran an article about traditional old-school eateries/bakeries weeks ago and one of them was Tai Chong Kok (大中国). Since there’s an outlet near my mom’s workplace, I asked her to buy back some egg tarts and muffins for supper :)

The egg tart had a nice and smooth custard.. If only the crust was more flaky!

I don’t know about you, but looking at the picture of the egg muffin above, I can already imagine how ‘bouncy’ and soft it is, haha. It’s indeed so, though the red bean filling could have been more generous!

P.S. This really brings back childhood memories of my favourite Kuih Bahulu (鸡蛋糕).. Ahhh, nostalgia~

Tai Chong Kok Confectionery (大中国)
Blk 122, Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-62 Alexandra Village
6270 8994

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After a taste of fantastic Spanish cuisine at Don Quijote, I was hooked and wanted more. So it’s off to My Little Spanish Place for more tapas and paella!

There are a few no-fail tapas I’ll always order, like tortilla (potato omelette) and garlic prawns. As expected, those are good, as well as the fried potatoes. Skip the mushroom stacks since they ain’t anything special, and expensive to boot. From the ‘raciones’ (essentially bigger portions of tapas) section, I love the stewed chickpeas as the cooking process rendered those little garbanzo beans so tender and soft. As for the squid ink paella, I prefer Don Quijote’s since the version here was drier and the flavour not as intense.

Overall, worth a try if you need a Spanish fix!

In the meantime, ciao~

Traditional egg omelette ($6++) with potatoes and onions, served with homemade alioli. This is supposedly the national dish of Spain!

Garlic prawns ($12.90++) in white wine and olive oil.

Patatas Bravas ($6++) are literally “fierce potatoes”, i.e. lightly fried potato chunks in a spicy sauce which is actually not spicy at all.

Mushroom stacks flavoured with garlic and olive oil ($14.90++). Yawn.

Classic Spanish dish of chickpeas stewed with chorizo ($10.50++). Reminds me of ‘kachang putei’, haha.

Black ink paella ($39++): rice with squid and prawns.

This is cooked to order so there’s a waiting time of approximately 35 mins.

My Little Spanish Place
619 Bukit Timah Road 
 6463 2810

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Since I’m a pescetarian, I reckon a visit to Dann’s Daily is a must! This is Singapore’s first pescetarian cafe and if you are wondering what’s a pescetarian, just think of a vegetarian who eats seafood and no other meat.

That’s me! :) I’ve been one for about 7 years now and still loving every minute of it.

All the food at Dann’s is made fresh daily in-house, fuss-free and unpretentious. Best of all, the menu sounds very healthy and good for you!

Otah Japanese Cucumber triangle toasties with organic wholemeal bread ($5).

I haven’t had such a perfect toastie in ages! The filling was clever and I super loved the crispy edges.

 Light and tasty set meal ($10): Organic brown & wild rice with sprouts and curry of the day.

My family cooks brown rice everyday so I’m already used to the tougher texture. Fluffy white rice doesn’t work for me anymore~

 There’s no sinful cakes at Dann’s, only wholesome steamed cupcakes for desserts. Go for the gula melaka cupcake ($3)! It’s very moist and the freshly grated coconut on top really does make a world of difference.

Highlight was definitely this killer chendol sherbet ($4.50)! Texture was so smooth and creamy like ice cream, and the palm sugar flavour was so intense, it’s hard to believe there’s no egg or full cream milk in it.

P.S. This is soooo good that my friend and I were still tweeting each other about it a couple of days later, haha.

A good option to dine out if you live in the East! Do check out their Facebook page for daily specials.

Dann’s Daily Pescetarian Cafe
20 Eastwood Road
#01-06 Eastwood Centre

6449 1355

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After discovering the wonders of Pierre Hermé’s macarons one year ago, I’ve became somewhat jaded about the macarons made in Singapore. None can compare to his so far. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised that these macarons from Capella (part of the door gift from the Swedish lunch tasting) were quite good. In fact, I think it’s one of the better ones in Singapore (together with those from Jewels Artisan Chocolate and I’m rather partial to the tea-infused ones from TWG). Texture was light enough and not too chewy. My only gripe was that the flavours were rather boring and almost all had some sort of chocolate filling. With an exception of the bright orangey carrot cake macaron with cream cheese frosting. Now, that’s a brilliant one.

Capella Singapore
1 The Knolls, Sentosa Island
6591 5046

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Fine Palate Cafe, an offshoot of Fine Palate Catering, is an oasis of calm in the midst of the bustling Bugis area. I imagine this is a nice place to spend a lazy afternoon, either with friends over coffee or alone armed with a favourite book. 

Complimentary focaccia bread.

The menu is kept neat and simple with a selection of appetisers, salads, pizzas, pasta, wraps, sandwiches and burgers. It may sound like the standard cafe fare but there’s a gourmet twist to it. Think along the lines of char-grilled sirloin steak wrap, angus beef burger and pan-seared tuna sandwich.

She had raw tuna tossed in capellini with sesame shoyu dressing ($20+), mine was sesame buckwheat noodles with pan-seared tiger prawns ($20+), and we were arguing whose dish was the best.

I still think it’s mine, haha.

P.S. Both are served cold, a perfect remedy for beating the heat these days!

Desserts were a flop though.

We were completely taken in by the names and descriptions on the menu.

Menu: “Chocolate Pyramid ($12+), light chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit”.

Reality: Chocolate dome cake with coconut ice cream -____-

Menu: “Amandine & Pear Flan ($12+), silky flan with soft pear and almond cream”.

Reality: Pear tart, period.

Not that they didn’t taste good.. Actually, it wasn’t a hardship to polish off that pear tart! But I just don’t like the idea of not getting what’s promised, you know?

Hope to see an updated menu the next time round! :)

Fine Palate Cafe
#01-04/05, Waterloo Street
6336 5120

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It was an honour to be invited to the Swedish Residence for a Swedish luncheon hosted by the Swedish Embassy. I know I know, three “Swedish” in one sentence? I can’t help it :p

Canapés were served as we mingled and waited for the rest of the guests. So simple yet elegant, I like the marinated shrimps in cocktail sauce on toast rounds best!

Our host, Ambassador Ingemar Dolfe, gave a welcome speech and short introduction to Sweden.

Then, we headed to the state-of-the-art kitchen where Executive Chef Jakob Esko and his team from Capella Singapore were putting the finishing touches on our appetisers.

Ok, it’s time for lunch! :)

We were seated at a long and formal dining table.

From the seating plan to each individual table setting, no detail was overlooked.

Beautiful chinaware used by the Swedish royalty. I’m not kidding you, these are the real McCoy!

Our first course: Swedish seafood cocktail, tarragon infused carrot foam, frozen sour cream, white asparagus and cucumber.

I was really looking forward to this after catching a glimpse of it in the kitchen earlier. Anything with white asparagus I’ll like and this was no exception. The long spears were sweet and juicy, and paired well with the fresh shrimps and mussels. Nothing beats eating seasonally, right?

Do you know that because of long winters, Swedish cuisine used to be lacking in fresh vegetables and fruits? Of course, that’s no longer true! In fact, Swedish food (and the Scandinavian diet) is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. While potatoes still play a dominant role on the dinner table, Swedes today eat a lot of greens and salads! More than Singaporeans, I’ll say.

Second course: Spiced veal loin with morels, young spring vegetable tartlette, sweetbread, potato fondant and red wine sauce.

While everyone else had the veal, I was served a fillet of sea bass with a light cream sauce, fondant potato and morels.

The fish was excellent, very fresh and cooked perfectly with a most crispy skin covering juicy soft meat. Simple food cooked well is the best (and the most challenging)! And that’s how Swedish food is — traditionally simple, nutritious yet no less delicious.

If you take a look at the world map, you will see that Sweden is surrounded by water on almost all sides. So it’s not really a surprise to learn that  fish and seafood form a very important part of Swedish cuisine. Salmon, herring, perch, crayfish, eel… I think I’ll fit in well there, haha.

Third and final course: Textures of almond and pear with cloudberries ice cream.

I absolutely love berries of any sort but never have I heard of cloudberries until today! These berries a local delicacy grown wild in northern Sweden, Norway and Finland. They are close relatives to raspberries but are golden when ripe. In Sweden, cloudberries are used as toppings for ice cream, waffles and pancakes etc. Since it’s not easy to get your hands on the real fruit in Singapore, why not try IKEA’s cloudberry jam if you haven’t?

So, back to the dessert. Imagine this: moist and light almond sponge cake, incredibly sweet and soft Nordic pear, and the smooth and creamy cloudberries ice cream. Textures, indeed!

After this interesting and educational tasting session, I can’t wait to visit Sweden! :)

Special thanks to the Swedish Embassy for the kind invitation, and to the ambassador and his lovely wife for their gracious hospitality!

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Kha

Kha, a contemporary Thai restaurant located right next to Graze, has been receiving a lot of publicity in the media lately. Having read several favourable reviews of it in the newspapers and food blogs, it’s time for me to add my input too!

I was hoping to try Ruby Starlet (signature Kha mocktail) but sadly, it was unavailable, awwwww :(

Dragon Eye ($12++) was served instead. A mixture of lychee, mint leaves, lychee juice and fresh lime juice, I found this refreshing initially but after awhile, it got too sweet.

Started with crispy rice crackers with chicken curry dip.

I love Thai salads, be it payaya salad, mango salad or pomelo salad. So the 2 salads you see below are definitely highly recommended!

Chef’s selection: Mango salad with crispy catfish ($18++).

Yam Som O ($17++): A combination of spicy pomelo, prawns, chicken and roasted coconut.

 Kab Klam Ruam ($21++): Salmon souffle, prawn wrapped in rice vermicelli, crab cake.

These 3 signature Kha seafood appetisers are just average. Nothing special and oh, the intriguing salmon souffle? It’s merely fish otah given a glamorous name.

Another chef’s selection: Wok fried tiger prawns with crispy quail eggs and sticky tamarind sauce ($30++).

Honestly, this didn’t leave a deep impression so I suppose it’s rather ordinary…

Tom Yum Goong ($18++): Hot and sour king prawn broth with lemongrass.

There’s different levels of Tom Yum soups here, from mild, medium to spicy. We went for mild and argh, our mistake! Not spicy enough and it was unbearably salty.

Crispy Kheaw Wan Poo ($30++): Soft shell crab curry, pea eggplants and crab lump.

The crab lump was suspiciously missing in the curry but otherwise, this was good! Love the idea of incorporating everyone’s my favourite soft shell crab into the thick and mellow green curry

Poo Nim Phad Pong Kari ($30++): Soft shell crab sautéed in Thai yellow curry with spring onion.

Did I mention I love soft shell crab? Crispy and meaty, there’s nothing not to like about this. On a side note, I think soft shell crab and curry make a perfect couple!

Papa Adun’s Phad Tow Hu ($14++): Wok fried tofu, basil and three flavour sauce.

Granted, the tofu was lusciously soft. But the skin ain’t crispy enough, hmm…

Pla Krapong Nueng Manow ($26++): Steamed sea bass with sweet sour chilli dressing, lime and coriander.

If not for the uniquely Thai dressing, I would have mistaken this for the steamed fish that even my culinary-challenged mom knows how to prepare, haha. Nevertheless, this was very fresh and we enjoyed its simplicity.

Phad Thai ($16++): Stir fried rice noodles with prawns, tofu, banana blossom salad and grilled whole pepper.

“Too sweet!” was our immediate, simultaneous reaction after tasting this.

Khanom Sam Yang ($22++): A trio of desserts; black sticky rice and date pudding, red rubies, baked pumpkin custard with coconut ice cream.

I didn’t see any black sticky rice on the plate and the date pudding was so-s0; love the crunchy red rubies (made from water chestnuts) mainly cuz of the lovely jasmine fragrance in it; and the pumpkin custard had a silky smooth texture!

Khao Neaw Ma Muang ($14++): Mango and sticky rice drizzled with coconut pandan sauce.

I had very high expectations of this cuz of the raves I read online. But sadly, this was disappointing as the rice was dry and not sticky enough :(

I’m still somewhat undecided about Kha. Some of the dishes are terrific, like the salads and curries, but most of them strike me as pretty (literally, since it’s obvious that the chefs take utmost care in the presentation of the food) normal.

Will I be back?

I really don’t know…

To Danielle and Sihui from Ate Consulting, thanks for the invitation!

Kha
38 Martin Road
6476 9000

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I celebrated my birthday at Etna Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria a few days ago. Food was good in general, company was even better! The best, actually :)

The complimentary olive bread had a kueh-like texture that I like!

We were a table of 4, and 3 of us voted this homemade panzerotti pasta with porcini mushroom stuffing ($22++) as our favourite! The cream sauce ain’t too heavy and the portion was perfectly manageable.

The one lone vote went to the scallop linguine in a pink lobster sauce ($24++), haha.

Etna’s pizzas can easily feed 3 to 4 people comfortably and interestingly, there’s a choice of either “red” (tomato and mozzarella cheese base) or “white” (minus the tomato).

I picked a white one topped with cured tuna roe, scallops and smoked swordfish ($32++). Seemed good on paper but ahhh, it was sodium overload. Tooooo salty!

Etna’s tiramisu is different from others. Here, it’s a pistachio tiramisu ($10++), a specialty from Bronte in Sicily. I love this, from the layer of pistachio cream in the middle to the sprinkle of nuts on top! Of course, the regular tiramisu is also available but why not try something new for a change?

We also tried the molten chocolate lava cake ($10++) since one dessert is never enough, hee.

 Sadly, nothing oozed out when I cut it open and the centre was barely molten. Just plain old chocolate cake with plain old vanilla ice cream.. And you know how I feel about vanilla ice cream without any real vanilla beans in it, don’t you? It’s just not right~

I’ll give this a pass next time. For there will be a next time!

Etna Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
49/50 Duxton Road
6220 5513

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I’ve been wanting to go to Procacci at Customs House since last year but this popular restaurant is always full to the brim! Learn from my mistake please, don’t even think of securing a table without a reservation! Anyway, I finally had a chance to taste see what’s the hype is all about when I received an invitation to try out Procacci’s new ala carte menu recently.

One will surely be spoilt for choice by the restaurant’s comprehensive wine list! No surprise, really, since Procacci is brought to Singapore from Europe by a group of wine connoisseurs.

The new menu offers plenty of options under antipasti (appetisers, from $15++ to $30++), primi (pasta, from $28++ to $50++), secondi (meat and seafood, from $34++ to $75++), and dolce (desserts, from $15++ to $18++). I tried two from each category and most were good, a couple was forgettable, but none was bad.

Lunch started off unexpectedly well with an octopus carpaccio ($32++).

Now, I have an aversion to all things chewy (read: squid, octopus, abalone etc) so I was already expecting myself not to like it.

But wow, this elegant starter topped with crunchy carrots and caviar blew my mind away! Texture of the thinly sliced octopus was so sooo tender and soft, nothing rubbery at all. If there’s a dish I’ll come back for, this may be it!

Compared to the carpaccio, the tuna tartar ($25++) came across as ordinary though it was very fresh. Love the bed of tangy artichoke salad underneath and I wish there’s more of that to accompany the raw tuna!

 Read my blog often enough and you’ll know that I’m not a rice person. So for me to say that a rice dish is good means I’m suitably impressed. And impressed I was by this rich and creamy risotto flambé with white winelemon zest, mascarpone and grilled scallops ($33++)! It’s exactly how I like my risotto to be — firm and a little on the hard side so there’s still some bite to it.

On the other hand, I pretty much left the whole lot of taglierini with spanner crab meat ($30++) untouched on the plate. Somehow, the flavour of the bisque sauce didn’t agree with me and the handmade pasta was too tough.

For mains, there was the marinated grilled scampi served with spinach souffle and salad ($75++). I couldn’t ask for anything fresher than those delectably sweet scampi and the spinach souffle was interesting! Think of the filling in quiche sans the pastry; a little eggy and so well-seasoned, absolute YUMS~ 

Then there was the blue-eye cod ($42++) served al cartoccio — wrapped and baked in paper with mussels, capers and olives. I didn’t even need to chew since the fish was meltingly tender and just disintegrated in the mouth. So simple, yet so good!

P.S. It’s actually supposed to be red snapper on the menu but I was offered the cod instead as the snapper was unavailable that day. Lucky me!!! :D I may be wrong, but I don’t think a red snapper will yield the same melt-in-the-mouth result as the super oily cod.

For desserts, you can’t go wrong with the my favourite tiramisu ($15++).

For something more unique, we also had the vanilla semifreddo ($17++). Though the texture was smooth with crunchy bits of almonds, it was really hard like a frozen block of ice cream.. I definitely prefer the classic tiramisu!

Yay, another good Italian restaurant found in Singapore! Gonna bookmark this place for future noshing outings :)

My sincere thanks to Melissa, marketing manager of Procacci, for the invitation!

Procacci
70 Collyer Quay
#01-04 Customs House
6532 9939

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Don Quijote

Unlike Italian or French cuisine, Spanish food has never really taken off in Singapore. I can only wonder why. Anyway, there’s only a handful of places serving so-called authentic Spanish chow, and Don Quijote is one of them!

My first time trying Sangria ($55++ for a jug) and it’s great! Like a sophisticated fruit punch, perfect for insanely hot summer days like the ones we’ve been experiencing these days!

The menu has an impressive range of hot and cold tapas, salads, soups, pasta, meats and rice. There’s definitely something for everyone!

Setas al Ajillo ($9++): Garlic fried mix mushrooms.

Gambas al Ajillo ($16++): Garlic fried shrimps.

Tortilla Espanola ($11++): Spanish style omelette layered with potatoes.

Rollitos de Salmón y Queso Crema ($10++): Salmon rolls stuffed with cream cheese and lettuce.

Pimientos del Piquillo Rellenos de Atún ($19++): Tuna wrapped in red peppers.

Arroz Negro ($30++ for small): Squid ink paella cooked in pan, takes at least 25-35 mins.

I think we pretty much hit the jackpot today cuz everything we ordered was delicious! Ok, a couple of tapas, like the smoked salmon rolls and stuffed tuna, were rather normal, but still agreeable. Highlight for me was the paella! It was soooooo good. Imagine all the umami packed into those little grains of al dente rice. Incredible! I don’t even like rice, and I’m raving about it.

Amazing.

Don Quijote
#01-02, Block 7 Dempsey Road
6476 2811

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