Sunday, September 30, 2007

at the new hip part of town.

Jones the Grocer
9 Dempsey Road
#01-12 Tanglin Village
Tel: 6475 2005
Opening Hours: 10.30am - 10.30pm, daily

Culina Quality Food & Beverage
8 Dempsey Road
#01-13 Tanglin Village
Tel: 6474 7338
Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm, Mon - Sat; 9am - 6pm, Sun & PH

Dropped by the much talked about Tanglin Village yesterday just to pop in on the food speciality shops. The first thing that striked me when I was there was that it almost didn't feel like I was in Singapore. The only thing that still made it Singaporean was the sweltering heat. Speaking of that, did anyone realise that the heat has been unbearable lately?!

Anyways, the reason why I felt like I was out of town was cos the population that was hanging around and sipping their cups of tea were mostly Caucasians; at least that was the case on the Saturday afternoon when I visited. Of course there was a flaming red Ferrari in the backdrop too. Not that it really matters but just wanted to give an idea of the crowd there.

Now the main point here is that I've always liked shopping around in supermarkets and food speciality stores and I did enjoy myself quite a bit when I visited the newly opened grocer from Down Under, Jones the Grocer; and the new outlet for Culina. There were stark contrasts between both stores. Jones the Grocer had a very 'clean' feel; typically Aussie whereas Culina had a rustic aire.

I left Jones the Grocer empty handed but did a little shopping at Culina and ended up at home with this.

Funny how this was sold in Culina and not at Jones the Grocer? Beats me too. Anyhow, there's no need now to lug those precious and pretty bottles of Oyster or Salad Vinaigrettes back home from Sydney; you can get them at Culina. I don't know about the difference in prices but this bottle set me back by $29. Bro had bought this when he was at Tetsuya's and he told me that it was amazing when he made a mushroom pasta and added a little bit of the salsa on top. I bought this when he promised me he'd make it for me too.

A lot of suggestions were given by the friendly guy at the store as to how else we could use the truffle salsa. One of it was to cook some soft-boiled eggs, sprinkle some salt and pepper and top it with a little spoon of the salsa. I couldn't wait for breakfast the following morning so I tried that the moment I got home. It was absolutely delicious although a little rich for a small afternoon snack.

You could of course use this as a finishing on a pasta as mentioned earlier or mix it with a little bit of butter to use as a bread spread or just simply have it on toast for breakfast too. You could also top the bottle with more olive oil after using some of the salsa to get a truffle-infused olive oil to use in salads or pastas. Whichever way, it'd turn out wonderful.

Aaahh... looks like things at home will never be the same again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

iggy's . first take

The Regent Singapore
Level Three
1 Cuscaden Road
Tel: 6732 2234

I owe an apology and thanks to DC. An apology because it took me a whole month to write this entry. Everyone who was excited about me taking pictures during the dinner had already given up on asking me when I was going to post the entry. A word of thanks also because thanks to DC (and rising property prices!), I had the privilege of dining at Iggy's; pride and joy of Singapore's dining scene and of course, world's 60th best restaurant. I'm not going to go into much more details about Iggy's since I don't think it needs much introduction. Let's just move to the focus of that night. Sit tight, this is going to be long. Here we go!

We started with the trio of amuse bouche. We were advised to eat them in the order of right to left because of the level of flavours. Very typical fine dining style. I would have simply left what I thought was most delicious 'til the last if I wasn't told. HA!

From left to right: Foie Gras Creme Brulee with Brioche, Sturgeon Mousse with Caviar, Cappellini with Mentaiko & Herbs

Anyways, we started with the Cappellini with Mentaiko & Herbs which was delicious. The mentaiko also gave the pasta a slight spiciness at the end. I've been a fan of mentaiko pasta since my visit to Hong Kong. My only gripe here was that a spoonful was simply not enough! The second amuse bouche was a Sturgeon Mousse with Caviar. Flavours were starting to get a little heavy on the tongue. This was the first time I had mousse which has a fishy flavour and I kinda liked it. Good thing they served this chilled otherwise I don't think the flavour would have gone down well in my throat. The final amuse bouche was also my favourite; Foie Gras Creme Brulee with Brioche. The foie gras was rich and creamy and went well with the lightly toasted brioche. Honestly, I was only short of licking the little bowl.

At the end of the amuse bouche, I started to have thoughts at the back of my mind...

What's next?

So this is what the hype is all about..

YAY! I finally dined at Iggy's!

Wah.. they change my cutlery every time I finish my course!

- Looking at the menu - Long way to go man...

My bag gets to sit on a bag chair!

I'm eating at the best fine dining restaurant in Singapore! And I don't have to pay!! hahaa..

Wagyu Carpaccio with Rocket, White Truffle Mayonnaise & Parmigiano Reggiano

I snapped out of it when my first course arrived at the table. I've had beef carpaccio on previous occasions but never with waygu beef. The beef was fresh and the dish was simple yet excellent. The white truffle mayonnaise however, didn't add much to the dish for me because my tongue was not discerning enough to taste the flavour of the truffles in it. This was one of my favourite courses for the evening.

Mushroom & Summer Truffle Tart, Tapenade Sauce

I thought that this course was one of the more forgettable courses of the evening. It still was delicious but honestly, didn't leave much of an impression because it didn't cause fireworks in my mouth. I can't remember much of it now since I had this a month ago. Like I said, pretty forgettable.

Egg Cocotte with Foie Gras Tempura, Unagi & Baby Spinach Salad

The third course scored full marks and as many As as you can imagine in my books. It was a tad rich I admit with the soft boiled egg and the foie gras tempura but it was oh-so-good. The tempura had a light crispy batter and the unagi was plump and sweet.

It was pretty interesting to eat this cos we had to use a little spoon to stir the beef broth and the soft boiled egg first because we poured it all over the foie gras and the spinach. This was my favourite for the evening; simply because the rich flavours still remain etched in my mind.

Breaded Fish Maw with Champagne Nage, Tomatoes & Avruga Caviar

This course was a little bit of a let down for me. While the fish maw was fried beautifully, it was a very bland dish because the fish maw couldn't absorb any flavours. I though that the cream based sauce wasn't enough to lift the flavours although the tomatoes did help a little with its sweet, tangy nature. I still prefer fish maws in my double boiled soups.

Sakura Ebi Cappellini with Konbu and Home-made Scampi Oil

Halfway through the dinner and we were served an Iggy's favourite. It definitely lived up to its name because this dish was delicious. A lot of work definitely went into the dish because a poor guy in the kitchen had to cut the konbu so finely and evenly. I had a similar dish at Ember over a year ago but Iggy's version was definitely heavier on the flavours because of the scampi oil and konbu. In fact, it was a tad salty but nonetheless, fragrant and delicious. DC was talking about replicating the dish at home and I told him that he could replace the konbu with chye poh in case he didn't know how to handle the konbu! Jokes aside though, this was definitely a winner.

Oven-roasted Tasmanian Lamb Shoulder with Artichokes, Broad Beans & Charcoal-grilled Tomato

The last course for the evening before we hit the dessert. Lamb is one of my favourite meats and I thought this course was perfectly done. The colours were fantastic, the meat had the right doneness, and it was tender and flavourful. I'd even recommend this dish to those who usually stay away from lamb because of its smell.

I was starting to get full even before the desserts arrived but thank goodness, sweets go into a different compartment in my tummy. Yes, self delusion is harmful but I need this once in a while.

Japanese White Peach with Champagne Jelly, Sorbet & Elderflower Foam

The first dessert course arrived and I almost didn't want to eat it cos I thought it looked so pretty. Personally, this wasn't one of my favourite desserts because I thought the alcohol in it was too strong for my liking. The only things I liked about this course was the aromatic elderflower foam and the sweet slice of Japanese white peach.

Blueberry Cheesecake with Mascarpone and Triple Cream Cheese and Mocha Shake

The blueberry cheesecake seemed like a familiar dessert but it was actually pretty unusual cos there was blue cheese in it. It gave the cheesecake a little chalky flavour which I thought was pretty interesting but DC just couldn't bear to eat more than 2 bites of it. The mocha shake was an additional throw in and I wished I had more. The shake was frothy and satisfying. It even had little chocolate balls inside!

Chocolate Mousse Wafer, Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup Ice Cream

If you thought that my dinner had come to an end, think again. A kind host threw in an additional dessert; his favourite which incidentally turned out to be my favourite dessert of the evening. Apologies to the little chocolate wafer with chocolate mousse. I could have done without it because the french toast and maple syrup ice cream simply outshone everything else. The brioche french toast was light and coated evenly with sugar. It also went extremely well with the maple syrup ice cream. Absolutely to-die-for! I could have this every single day; breakfast, lunch and dinner!

It was a super long dinner; around 3 hours to be exact. I thoroughly enjoyed it though because the company was great and hilarious conversations kept flowing throughout the meal. I also got to meet Iggys himself. He caught me taking some pictures and offered to allow me to take a photo with the whole kitchen crew. It was a bit embarrassing but I did take that picture at the end. That picture will stay in my private collection for memories sake.

Thanks again to DC for the wonderful meal. It was definitely worth the dining experience and something that I will remember for a long time to come. I'm just waiting for SO to make his own deal soon. If that happens, we'll be making dinner arrangements again pretty soon. Lucky me!

Friday, September 14, 2007

good eats in jalan batu.

Chin Sin Huan Eating House
Block 7 Jalan Batu
#01-113 (Off Kampong Arang)

I finally made my way down to this little coffee shop located in the quiet neighbourhood of Jalan Batu. This was almost 2 years after I heard about the delicious wantan mee there from colleagues. All this while, I was only savouring the mini Char Siew Paus which were brought back to the office courtesy of my ex-bosses after they had their bowls of noodles. This little coffeeshop only has 3 stalls; a wantan mee stall, a pau stall and a drinks stall.

Jin Ji Wanton Noodles 金記丹戎禺雲吞麵

Thanks to DC, I managed to find out what the hype was about today. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of wantan mee. Even if I decide to have a bowl, I prefer the dark soy sauce version. I guess it's because I was accustomed to eating it this way during my days across the Causeway.

Jin Ji happens to do their noodles the way I like them. The noodles were nicely done and springy when I had them today. The wantans and soup were pretty tasty too; unlike the watered down, msg-laden versions that I've tried previously. I did however, find the chilli lacking bite although it really wasn't much of a problem because I thought the soy sauce covered noodles were already delicious.

Prices are pretty cheap considering that a bowl costs around $2 to $2.50. My male colleagues opted for the 'upsize' because they felt the portions were too small but I would advise against it cos there are other things to save your stomach for. The noodles sell out fast during lunch time. At 1pm, they were already out of char siew so I recommend that you don't arrive too late if you're keen on visiting.

Tanjong Rhu Pau

The original outlet of Tanjong Rhu Pau is located in this little coffee shop. You'd see a couple of middle-aged and elderly man kneading the dough and wrapping the fillings in for steaming. It's quite interesting to watch how fast their hands move and how nifty their fingers are.

Never been a pau fan myself. However, I was introduced to the Yin Yang Pau a couple of months back and found it to be irresistable. This is a 3-in-1 pau where you get a combination of red bean paste and lotus seed paste with a salted egg yolk planted right in the centre. Since the Mid-Autumn Festival is nearing, I'd liken eating this to something like a steamed mooncake. This is absolutely fantastic for people who can't decide whether they prefer the red bean paste or the lotus seed (ie. myself) and thus get the best of both worlds. My only gripe is that the egg yolk is a bit dry. In addition, it doesn't do my cholestrol levels good so I usually eat only half of it. I recommend having this right after the noodles so that it's warm and soft. It can give your meal the sweet ending it needs.

Kaya Bread Roll (Drinks Stall)

If you still have space in your tummy, order a kaya bread roll from the drinks stall. The stall owner slaps on kaya and butter onto a piece of soft white bread instead of toasting it like the regular kaya toast you get at most coffee shops. He then rolls up the bread and brings it for steaming. When it arrives on your table, the bread is warm and soft.

Biting into it was such a guilty pleasure because of the kaya dripping and the slightly melted butter which was soaking through the bread. This is definitely not for the faint hearted because the big blob of butter will definitely put the health cautioners off.

I need to hit that treadmill soon!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

authentic korean @ 향토골

Hyang To Gol 향토골
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Level 2 Amara Hotel
Tel: 6220 7160

It was really nerve wrecking going on radio today, especially when I wasn't really prepared given the short notice. It was fun though and in a way, an enriching experience because I went on air to share something that I felt strongly about. For once, it wasn't because I was going on a game show! 93.8 Live has an ongoing segment around 12.15pm weekdays where they invite food bloggers to go on air to share a daily food pick so be sure to tune in. There are a lot of other floggers out there who really know their stuff when it comes to food so you definitely won't be disappointed. I definitely wasn't when I attended the Floggers' Dinner last Sat. More details on that later.

I thought it'd be good to post whatever I talked about on radio today. I'm going to make a bold statement that Hyang To Gol in my opinion, is the best Korean restaurant in Singapore at the moment. To be fair, I haven't been to ALL Korean restaurants but from the ones that I've tried, this comes out tops cos of the variety of dishes you get there and needless to say, the delicious and authentic cuisine. Prices are also more reasonable compared to other places. I've heard a lot of people saying that Korean food in Singapore just doesn't make the cut but I thought Hyang To Gol isn't faring too badly. I made this judgement comparing the Gam Ja Tang 감자탕 (spicy pork ribs potato soup) which I ate in Seoul last year.

Eating this dish always brings back fond memories of my trip. When I found this dish at Hyang To Gol, I was really excited cos it was a rare find in local Korean restaurants. Although Hyang To Gol uses meaty pork ribs in the dish whereas restaurants in Korea use the spine of the pig for the soup, the soup is still rich, flavorful and satisfying. The soup gets thicker as you boil it cos of the starch that comes out from the potato. At the end when the soup is almost finished, throw in a bowl of rice and kimchi then mix it all up. You will go back for more the next time. Even Dad who isn't a fan of Korean food thinks of visiting Hyang To Gol for the Gam Ja Tang from time to time. This dish is definitely the must-have when you're there.

This was the photo I took of the dish in Seoul. I don't have a photo of it from Hyang To Gol but it looks similar except for the lots of spring onion stuff on the top.

Another dish which I mentioned is also another one of my favourites which I've yet to find at any other Korean restaurants that I've visited locally. It's called Hoe Deop Bap 회덮밥; rice mixed with raw fish and vegetables in a mild chilli sauce. It's something like the hot stone Bibimbap. I really like this dish cos it's very light with the pairing of raw fish and fresh vegetables. There's also the Korean pear that's thrown in there that gives that bit of sweetness. A delicious contrast to the Gam Ja Tang. I always order these 2 together so that the meal isn't all too heavy.

Mix is all up and you get...

There's also another dish that's delicious where you have the boiled pork belly wrapped with lettuce. I can't remember the exact name but its fantastic because you eat it with a chilli paste that has fresh chillis and pine nuts in it. Wrapping it all up with a slice of fresh garlic then putting the whole wrap straight into your mouth produces great flavours with bite. I'll update again the next time I have the name of the dish. They also have an alternative with pork trotters that I've yet to try. I should probably give that a shot to make some comparison.

So that's my food pick for the day. I really hope you'd end up liking this place as much as I do.