Friday, December 29, 2006

a memorable christmas.

Gathered with close friends for a Christmas party on Christmas eve which turned out to be one of the most enjoyable Christmas parties I've had in a long time. Good food and great company was very much appreciated cos I've been so swamped this month. I'm just glad that everything's come to end and I'm finally going to be getting some 'me' time.

Anyways, this was the second of the themed events we've been organising recently. The last PINK party we had was hilarious. This time we decided that the food was going to be decent Christmasy food but all of us had to dressed in a mismatched fashion. What that meant was that we basically just had to look obiang. Most of the people followed through except for D & I. Apparently, I wasn't obiang enough for them when I turned up in pink and blue. Well, just imagine one of them was wearing a graphic printed shirt with striped pants and another with green polka dot top with a brown velvet skirt. We had lotsa games also with efforts from Lan who surprised with plans for charades. Then we had lotsa laughter with homemade Twister. There was also a gift exchange in which I got pjs (thanks pei!).

Food was really in abundance so we ended up with lotsa doggy bags to bring home. Dinner was deliciously prepared by Uncle Wee at Mum's canteen. We had all the works; turkey and chestnut stuffing with giblet gravy, honey baked ham, baked salmon fillet with white wine cream sauce, bbq pork ribs and everyone's favourite of the night, baked mashed potatoes.

Lan brought us a chocolate log cake from The Regent and Pei & XW made lovely sangria which I couldn't get enough of. The above is log cake number 3 for me this season. Although I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate (I get weird stares all the time when I say that), I loved the cherries that were in the middle. D also brought over a little of the Grand Cru Valrhona Chocolate Nougat & Pear Log Cake from Goodwood Park for me to try so that was log cake number 4. Didn't get much of a tasting out of that though but what I did try, I liked. Tasted like ice cream actually. Apparently, it won the award for best log cake in 2004 by Streats, the now defunct newspaper. I really don't recall having so many log cakes in previous years cos for me, it's always been about the ham and turkey although technically, turkey is Thanksgiving, not Christmas food.

By the way, did I mention that I wanted a juicy roasted bone-in gammon ham for Christmas??

Monday, December 25, 2006

christmas logs part II.

Sooks arrives home with a huge black box with beautiful gold drawings on in.

Sooks: Mom!! Do you have space in your fridge? I have to stuff this cake in before I go to E's house later.

Mom: (Sees the box) Wah! What's in there? A cat?!

Sooks: No!! I bought a log cake for E's party. Wanna see what it looks like? (Opens big black box)

Mom: (Sees the cake) Huh? The box so big, the cake so small? What cake is this?

Sooks: New York Strawberry Cheese Log Cake. Got it from Raffles the Plaza. Looks good rrriiiiighttt...

Mom: It's not log cake lar. It's swiss roll!

Sooks: Mom. The old type of log cake, when you cut into it, you will see a swiss roll in the cross section right? But looks like log cake cos they make the cream outside look like a log! Remember??! Nowadays all new style, no need to look like log anymore. Any cake that's made during Christmas and is long enough is called log cake already. Not swiss roll ok! Swiss roll is the Rich & Good cake shop kind..

Mom: It's still swiss roll to me...

Sooks: (Resigned)

M E R R Y C H R I S T M A S E V E R Y O N E ! !

Saturday, December 23, 2006

a taste of paradise.

Taste Paradise
48-49 Mosque Street
Tel: 6226 2958
Opening hours: 12.00pm - 2.30pm, 5.30 - 10.30pm

I don't think this place needs much of an introduction cos it's been written about many times in other food blogs. Despite it being opened for only a year, it's been named as one of the Top 50 restaurants in Singapore by The Straits Times. When Ling suggested trying this place for our Christmas gift exchange, I was all for it cos I wanted to find out what the fuss was all about. I've tried the food at Eldwin Chua's first set up in Defu Lane; Seafood Paradise a couple of months back. It came highly recommended by a colleague but except for the honey pepper pork ribs and the butter crab, the other dishes were a little disappointing. Thus, I was hoping that Taste Paradise would turn out to be a better experience.

I liked the decor at Taste. The dark wood somehow made the place feel more welcoming and cosy. Service was pretty good; waiters were friendly and on hand to give personal recommendations. Although the food was a little bit on the pricey side, I felt that it was a pretty good meal we had. The only complaint I had was that we were seated near the air conditioner and because of the cold air that was blowing, our food turned cold pretty quickly. Anyways, I had good company, good gifts and good food that night. Couldn't ask for more. Here's a rundown of what we had.

Note: There was only 3 of us!
This might take long so please bear with me.

This was given to us when we settled ourselves down at the table. Apparently a free appetizer to start us off. I couldn't catch the name when the waiter introduced it. Neither could I guess what it was. Except for the sweet dragonfruit, this really did nothing for me.

We finally got into the swing of things with our first dish, the well-known XO fried carrot cake. I liked this dish a lot. The carrot cake was soft with bits of Chinese sausage in it. The XO sauce was really the one that gave the kick because it made this dish so fragrant and tasty. Thumbs up for me!

Nothing exciting from this dish. Although tasty, I didn't really like that they thickened the stock with corn starch. I probably should have order this veg dish with the stock and 3 types of eggs except I didn't think that my dining companions fancied century eggs. The fried garlic did add a little lift to the dish though.

This was my favourite dish of the night. Partly cos I've always been a big fan of anything that has tofu in it. To me, this was the best dish of the night for a few reasons. The first reason I've already mentioned. Secondly, the tofu was homemade thus soft and smooth. Thirdly, the sauce had a generous amount of crab meat in it and it was wonderfully tasty; matched perfectly with the tofu. Lastly, the large salted egg yolk right in the middle gave me a lovely surprise when I bit into it. My happiness levels at that point rose together with cholestrol levels. Doesn't matter to me anyway. I can easily polish off a whole plate of this on my own.

This dish was pretty delicious too. Some of the dishes at Taste Paradise are served by one person's portion. The baked cod with chef's recipe was one of the items on the recommended list. It sounded good so we decided to order a portion to try it. The cod was fresh and wasn't overdone. I loved the buttery flavour of the dish. It was also beautifully presented with the 2 types of roe on the top. Was definitely a good combination between taste and the asthetics.

This dish really stood out in the menu for Ling and Jac because of the word "cheese". This dish was sort of like an East meets West thing because it had a thin piece of bacon wrapped around prawn paste and cheese. It was then cooked in a sweet sauce. You couldn't have gone wrong with bacon and cheese but interestingly enough, it worked with the prawn paste too.

We ordered this cos Ling is a huge fan of ee-fu noodles. This version is different from the usual dark coloured one that we usually have at wedding dinners. Same noodles but cooked differently. This was fried delicately with generous amounts of dried scallops and golden mushrooms. It was very light-tasting and was quite a fitting end before we got to the sweets.

We were pretty stuffed towards the end of the dinner but couldn't leave before trying some of their desserts. I guess Taste got it right by placing dried ice below the dessert. It definitely made the presentation more dramatic and more importantly, caught our attention when it was being served to the nearby table. Ling and Jac had the mango pomelo dessert with coconut ice cream. I had a little taste from Ling and thought it was pretty good. I'm guessing she thought so too cos she finished it even before I was halfway through mine. I had the dessert special which was avocado with walnut ice cream. The avocado cream was smooth and not overly sweet. Yummy. Strangely enough though, it tasted a little like McDonald's hotcakes. I wouldn't have noticed it until Ling mentioned it. Weird huh..

Although I do feel that the food at Taste Paradise is pretty good, I'm not so sure that I'm willing to pay such hefty prices again for Chinese food. However, if I can get past that, I might be back again. Just because I'm in love with that tofu dish.

Friday, December 22, 2006

a gift of christmas

Apologies for the lack of updates. December's been a crazy month for me. Finally managed to catch a breather today so I'm back here writing. I didn't miss out on taking loads of photos though but now I'm way behind on uploading them so bear with me over the next week or so.

I've been so busy this month that I've hardly had the time to buy presents for loved ones. Only today did I manage to get cute gingerbread figurines and cakes for my colleagues (thanks to Ling for the idea)! I initially kept this year's list strictly to gift exchanges only but it just felt weird not getting anything for colleagues especially when everyone gets super enthusiastic about giving little tokens at this time of the year. I can't just be accepting right??! I bought some of my gingerbread from Goodwood Park as recommended by Ling and some from Marriott simply cos Goodwood Park ran out and I was too lazy to walk from one place to another. I haven't tried them though. I hope they're nice.

Speaking of nice, I received a nice surprise from the 2 guys in the office this afternoon. I really appreciate them a lot in the first place cos their presence and easy-going personalities have really livened up the corner I sit in. J has gone to join another department and E is the only "thorn" among the roses these days but we still have our fun nonetheless. Well, the surprise came when J brought up a cute ice cream log cake from Swensen's. Apparently the 2 of them had bought this as a Christmas gift for the rest of the gals in the corner! I was super touched by their nice gesture. I wasn't having the best day today too and it really helped to cheer me up a little.

They chose quite a peculiar flavour though; bubblegum. It was like the rainbow paddlepop ice cream if you know what I mean. Frankly, I have never been a fan of bubblegum flavoured things but this cake was ok if eaten with the biscuits on the side. Odd on the first bite but gets better as you go through it.

Actually what's most important was the thought they had put into it and because of that, it was probably the best cake I've had in a long time.

Monday, December 04, 2006

a taste of hong kong at home.

Hong Kong Tea House
Katong Village #01-09/10
Tel: 6345 1932
Opening Hours: 24 hours

A colleague of mine who migrated from Hong Kong after marriage still cannot totally get used to all of Singapore's cuisine although she's been here for around 3 years already. The recent sprouting of Hong Kong cafes has done her good cos there is always now places where she can go when she misses home. Sadly though, most of these Hong Kong cafes (according to her) are not very authentic and this disappoints her greatly.

Well, she found one pretty good one within the blocks at Marine Parade some time ago but then, she chanced upon Hong Kong Tea House recently. Since I'm writing about it here now, it's pretty obvious that the food here met her standards and she wanted to share this new discovery. I took her recommendation and ended up having a late dinner there one night.

Authenticity I guess, is not for me to judge here since I'm not from HK. Taste wise though, it was one of the better tasting Stir-fried Beef Hor Funs that I've tried. The noodles were cooked with enough heat, it was tasty and also had a generous amount of beef. Definitely a recommended dish to try while you're there.

Apparently Singapore Fried Bee Hoon was something that was invented in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong version is cooked with curry powder. Although D thought differently from me, I thought that this version was pretty enjoyable. D didn't really like it cos he couldn't get used to the curry taste, plus he's not that hyped up about HK's curry usually anyways. He was complaining that it was too dry too but I thought the noodles were fried well, in that it wasn't overly moist or clumpy. A check with E confirmed that this is how it's served in HK.

Authenticity we now have and the best part is, it can satisfy that craving for a piece of HK at any time of the day. Prices are reasonable too so this place definitely deserves a recommendation in my books.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

breakfast @ rosso

After weeks of all talk and no action, D & I finally got to have a nice breakfast together. Actually it was supposed to be the yummy carrot cake at AMK which I miss so much but we ended up having breakfast at Café Rosso instead. I was supposed to have breakfast there probably a week or two ago as mentioned in my previous entry but yup, all talk and no action. Here's what we had this morning...

Tuscan Breakfast

Hotcakes with Maple Syrup

The scrambled eggs taste better at Australia Dairy Co. in Hong Kong but this is breakfast still worth waking up for.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

it's my birthday!

can't believe that time has just flown past like that. i'm officially one.


Monday, November 27, 2006

lei cha . traditional hakka cuisine

Jia Xiang He Po Lei Cha
Stall #3, Yu Yuan Eating House
130 Sims Ave (Junction of Geylang Lor 17)
Tel: 6742 0407
Opening Hours: 11am - 8pm; closed on Saturdays

I was inspired by Cheryl's recent entry to dig up some old pictures that I took a couple of months back to post this entry. I don't think many people know about this traditional food from my dialect group, much less tried it. I'm glad however, that Cheryl wrote an entry on Hakka Lei Cha so that more people will come to learn about it.

Lei Cha (擂茶), also known as Hum Cha, is a very popular food item in Malaysia. In Singapore however, there are only a few Lei Cha stalls located around the island. 2 famous ones include the ones at China Square Food Centre and Boon Lay. Apparently, another stall has set up at Vivocity's Food Republic. A lot of work goes into the preparation of this dish and not many people know how to make it properly these days. I don't know if the stalls will still exist when the next generation takes over. Whatever it is though, more stalls opening now can only be a good sign.

If you're familiar with Hakka cuisine, you'd know that they're famously known to be fatty and oily. Hakkas are also known to have a high propensity for salty food. Due to the environment that Hakkas used to live in where fresh produce was a luxury, Hakkas relied a lot on the preserving of vegetables which is used in dishes such as Mei Cai Kou Rou (梅菜扣肉). There's also the salt-baked chicken which I think most people are familiar with.

As far as Hakka cuisine is concerned, Lei Cha is probably the one of the healthiest dish ever made by the Hakkas. According to the Makansutra forum, it is said by Jia Xiang's owner to ease digestion, nourish the lungs and throat, and cleanse the blood and lower blood pressure. There are many sub-groups in the Hakka clan and Lei Cha belongs specifically to the Ho Po clan. In the past, Lei Cha was usually eaten during the Chinese New Year celebrations on the 7th day of the lunar new year. I read from somewhere that the reason it is called Lei Cha which translates to Thunder Tea in English could be because of the loud noises made during the cutting, pounding and grinding of tea leaves, vegetables and nuts while preparing this dish.

The Lei Cha that is served at Jia Xiang comes with a bowl of rice that has toppings of six different kinds of vegetables, including cai xin, cabbage, four-angled beans and long beans, and other important accompaniments such as ikan bilis, roasted peanuts, tau kwa, dried shrimp and chai poh. The star is the essential bowl of green-coloured soup, which has 10 ingredients including peppermint, basil, dill, tea leaves, green tea powder, sesame seeds and peanuts. All these ingredients are pounded in the mortar into a paste to form the base of the soup.

In Singapore, I've only tried the Lei Cha at China Square and in comparison, I prefer this one much better. The soup is thicker and more fragrant if my memory serves me correct. Another reason why I prefer this stall is cos of the Yong Tau Foo that they sell. Authentic Hakka Yong Tau Foo is stuffed with ground meat, unlike the fish paste which we usually get in food courts. At 80 cents a piece, it was generously stuffed with pork and made a tasty snack. I couldn't get enough of it then cos it sold off so quickly.

Some may be turned off by the colour of the soup or its smell. Vegetable haters will probably stay lengths away. I still want to encourage everyone to try this Hakka dish, just to keep old traditional foods around longer.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

what queue?

Come Daily Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee 天天来炒福建虾面
Block 127, Toa Payoh Lorong 1

Opening Hours: 9am - 9pm, closed on Mondays

Not sure if anyone managed to catch ‘Where the Queue Starts’ (排排站,查查看), a foodie programme hosted by Bryan Wong & Cavin Soh which recently ended its run on Channel U. The concept behind this show was rather interesting cos the hosts dressed up as patrol officers and went round to source for food stalls that have long snaking queues. I managed to catch a couple of their Sunday reruns and I think Bryan Wong is such a funny host but that of course, is not the point of this entry.

On one particular Sunday weeks ago, Sis, mum & I caught an episode where they were introducing this Hokkien Prawn Mee stall in Toa Payoh. We ended up at this stall for lunch that day cos sis is a sucker for Hokkien Prawn Mee with extra lime. The amount of lime she actually puts in the dish kills the prawn stock and makes it sour if you ask me. Anyways, there was no queue in sight although the noodles did take a while to arrive at our table.

Frankly, my family and I have visited this stall before. It’s supposed to be quite famous so the show definitely didn’t get it wrong on that part. However, I was sorely disappointed that day cos it didn’t taste like how I remembered it to be. The guests on the show were right. The noodles were infused with the flavour from the tasty prawn stock but were way too soggy. Pork lard was used to make the dish more fragrant and all the guests were raving about it. In my opinion though, I thought that they were too frivolous with it. I think its use is necessary for the flavour but I don’t think I like it much when every bite of noodle I take has bits of lard in it. I ended up picking out most of it.

The Hokkien Prawn Mee packs good flavour and makes a tasty meal but if Bryan Wong and Cavin Soh throw me the question of whether the Hokkien Mee’s worth queuing up for; I’d agree with Chew Chor Meng in saying… ‘it’s not worth it’.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

a hong kong visit . xi yan sweets

Xi Yan Sweets
Shop 1, G/F
8 Wing Fung Street
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: 852 2833 6299

It’s been slightly over a month since I’ve got back from Hong Kong. I mentioned in my previous entry that I had a fantastic lunch on one of my days there. I’m still thinking about it actually cos I truly enjoyed my dining experience, so much so that I’m trying to arrange a dinner at their sister restaurant, Xi Yan, this time in Singapore.

I read about Xi Yan Sweets from HK Foodie’s blog some time ago. When I decided to visit Hong Kong, I told myself that I HAD TO visit that place. It was more within reach anyway since Xi Yan Sweets operates like a café unlike its larger siblings. Moreover, I thought that D might like the place so Xi Yan Sweets became one of those ‘must-go’ highlights on the trip.

Xi Yan Sweets is located at the end of Wan Chai. For those who are not familiar with Hong Kong, Wan Chai is a pretty old town on its own. Xi Yan Sweets however, is located in a posh corner of Wan Chai where the landscape is totally different. D & I liked the décor in the restaurant quite a bit. Along with Xi Yan’s official colour of red, there were black and white pictures randomly placed against the wall and mosaic tiles on certain walls. It made the whole café look modern but at the same time, comfy.

At Xi Yan Sweets, a lot of their famous dishes are replicated but made into smaller portions. You’ll see their specialities such as the Japanese tomatoes with a sesame sauce, the ‘Saliva’ Chicken and Glutinous Rice Dumplings in Ginger Soup. Anyways, that’s almost what we ended up ordering anyways since we couldn’t leave without trying the food that people had been raving about.

Japanese Tomatoes with Wasabi Sesame Sauce
D & I loved this dish a whole lot. The tomatoes were crunchy and sweet (they tasted expensive by the way). The sesame sauce with a tinge of wasabi drizzled onto the chilled tomatoes made it a refreshing and truly enjoyable appetiser. I finally understood why this was a mainstay on Xi Yan’s menu and why people kept raving about something as simple as tomatoes. It was simply fantastic.

‘Saliva’ ‘Mouth-watering’ Chicken
Naming is ‘saliva’ chicken sounds a bit gross I know. It’s actually directly translated from the Chinese pharse ‘kou shui’. I have no idea how that name came about. If someone could enlighten me, please do. This dish originates from Szechuan and is usually served with century eggs, chunks of cucumber and la mian. Xi Yan Sweets does it a little differently by serving the usual suspects with fen pi instead. I’ve tried this dish at Crystal Jade in Singapore before but I much prefer it served with fen pi instead of la mian. You can choose between 3 levels of spiciness at Xi Yan Sweets. We chose the mild version but D was complaining that it was still too spicy for him. I thought it was ok though. This dish is also one of the mainstays on the regular Xi Yan menu and it was without saying that this was delicious as well.

Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles served at Xi Yan Sweets seems to have a modern twist to it. Although it was delicious, it tasted somewhat different from others I’ve tried. The good thing about it is that it’s not drowned in peanut sauce where you could feel sick after eating too much. I loved the minced meat and crunchy peanuts in the dish as well. A rather enjoyable dish.

Glutinous Rice Dumpling in a Ginger Soup and Banana Pudding
This is by far the most interesting rice dumpling that I’ve ever tasted. The filling totally blew me away. Unlike the usual black sesame or peanut filling, there were chopped peanuts, some custardy thing and sweet melon all wrapped up in a little ball. The sweet dumplings went well with the hot ginger soup. Got a feeling that my dad will love this dessert. The banana pudding was D’s choice. It was good but a tad too sweet for me because of the caramelized top.

Lime Soda & Pomelo Soda
Refreshing and delicious. Pomelo Soda scored with the generous amount of pomelo sacs in the drink. Did I mention that pomelo’s one of my favourite fruits??

Just thinking of my coming dinner at Xi Yan next month (hopefully!) excites me although it received less than raving reviews from Ivan recently. Hopefully, I’d be leaving with a smiling face and a satisfied tummy, just as how it was in Hong Kong.

P/S: As it turns out, an anonymous reader just alerted me that 'koushui' doesn't mean 'saliva' but means 'mouth-watering'! How come I didn't know that!! As you can tell, my Chinese ain't that good. Hope the anonymous reader didn't smack his or her head too hard when he found out about my atrocious lack of knowledge and the ignorance of the Chinese language. HA!

Monday, November 13, 2006

rosso . a japanese cafe

Café Rosso
17D Lorong Liput
Holland Village
Tel: 6466 8637

I recall writing about Café Rosso in my early food blogging days. That was in my now-defunct food blog by the way. When I first visited Café Rosso, I loved the environment and the concept of it so much that I visited the place rather often. Having said that though, it’s been some time since I had returned. Something sparked in D somehow for us to have tea there one day and so we did. Since then, we’ve been there for dinner and we’re even thinking of having breakfast there this Saturday!

Café Rosso is opened by a Japanese couple and the food served there is Western with Japanese influences. I was just raving about the Mentaiko Pasta I had at Te from my Hong Kong reviews and I had forgotten that Café Rosso was a place where I could find just the thing I was looking for. From what I know, Mentaiko Pasta could be one of the most unhealthy pastas out there with loads of mayonnaise and butter used to make the cream. In this case, healthiness is a small trade-off for delicious food. Anyways, I couldn’t resist a taste test to compare the Mentaiko Pasta from both places.

The Mentaiko Pasta served at both places taste totally different and frankly, I don’t have a clue which is the authentic one. Well, technically Te originated from Roppongi Hills in Tokyo so there was a better shot at authenticity there but then again, it lacked the spiciness that the mentaiko should have brought to the pasta so now, I’m doubtful. Café Rosso however, did well in this section. The spiciness of the mentaiko brought a lovely kick to the creamy pasta. Speaking of which, the cream used was totally different as well. Café Rosso’s version was drier but heavier; the cream taste was pretty strong. Te’s version however was much wetter, lighter but saltier. The only similarities they probably had were that they both used spaghetti and topped their pastas off with shredded seaweed. Not to mention that I wiped out both plates with swift hands and a hungry tummy too.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

D ordered the tomato seafood spaghetti which I thought looked really good. I liked the garlicky tomato sauce but D thought that the spaghetti wasn’t al dente and would have appreciated it better if it was slightly undercooked. Sis had a hearty beef stew, one of Rosso’s specials. It was rather heavy, creamy and a little miserly on the amount of meat in the stew but nonetheless delicious, especially with the chunks of stewed carrots in there.

Seafood Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce

Rosso Beef Stew

On a separate occasion when I had tea there, D had an Aglio Olio which was flavourful but again, the pasta was overcooked. The dessert I had that day was note-worthy. Café Rosso usually displays all their cakes for customers to choose. In typical Japanese fashion, every cake that’s displayed looks like so much effort has been put in to make it look pretty. Being attracted by the asthetics, I couldn’t decide what to have and D ended up choosing the Mont Blanc; a chestnut cake which I loved. You’d have to eat the chestnut paste with the cream within and the sweet biscuit base to realize that flavours have been well balanced and not overly sweet. Definitely worth a try…

Aglio Olio Spaghetti

Mont Blanc

I’m looking forward to breakfast this Saturday. That’ll be a good time for me to relax, take my time to read the papers and enjoy my Tuscan breakfast (which is yummy by the way) and scones. With good company of course.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the end to a hectic week

I'm glad that the week is finally OVER! 'Tis the season for weddings and I've attended 4 in the past week. I've been telling my friends that I'd eaten roast chicken with prawn crackers 3 times in 5 days and before I went for the 4th wedding dinner, I told them that if I saw roast chicken with prawn crackers one more time, I was gonna puke. Thank goodness that the 4th dinner had almost totally different food. There was still roast chicken but at least it was done with a cardamon jus minus the prawn crackers. Why does every restaurant serve the same thing?? Anyways, that's said and done. I have about a month from now to recover before I dive into eating roast chicken with prawn crackers at another wedding in December.

For the final wedding dinner of the week, I took a coach up to KL to attend a good friend's wedding. She's basically relocated to be with her hubby and they held their wedding at the Westin over the weekend. Although the service was pretty lousy that day (wine spilling and all), certain dishes were pretty decent. Maybe it's cos being different stood out for me. The cold dish platter had smoked salmon and mushroom vol-au-vents instead of the usual shrimp cocktail and jellyfish. Abalone was braised in a foie gras sauce and dessert was mango pudding with lime sherbet. Quite an interesting twist I must say. Then again, if I attended 4 weddings in KL, I may have experienced the same as in Singapore who knows!

What I was more excited about was actually breakfast (more like brunch actually) the next day. J had to take the early coach home so I couldn't bring her to my favourite breakfast place in KL. Whenever I'm up in KL, my family and I try to make a point to visit that coffeeshop. I've tried almost everything there and I dare say that they're all delicious. It was actually a bit depressing that morning cos I was alone and I could only order ONE thing. Usually when my family's there, the whole table will be filled with food. I couldn't decide initially but finally settled on the fishball noodles.

The special thing about this stall is that the fishballs are home made thus explaining the odd shape. It's also very pure so you get fish paste and not a majority of flour. In the soup with the fishballs is also home made lup cheong (chinese sausage) which is yummy but sinful. I love the noodles with the minced meat and black soya sauce. I can't find any shop in Singapore that serves their noodles as simple as that. The toss up was between this and the char kway teow which I love there as well. That would just have to wait 'til next time.

Greedy me thought that I might be hungry before I headed back home on the coach so I decided to 'da bao' some chee cheong fun with yong tau foo. In Malaysia, chee cheong fun is usually eaten with yong tau foo. The sauce that's served here is not the typical reddish sweet sauce type you get back home. Needless to say it was yummy and I loved that they still wrap it traditionally in newspapers.

The coffeeshop also has a small stall selling mini egg tarts which is a hit with customers. It's usually baked fresh and sells out fast cos people usually come by and buy in large quantities. I couldn't resist the flaky pastry egg tarts since I've been on this egg tart frenzy lately so I bought some to bring home.

One of the other stalls I missed out on was the goreng pisang stall. My mum loves the goreng pisang there. Not exactly the fried banana but they have this item where nian gao is sandwiched between a slice of sweet potato and yam. Absolutely heavenly when it's eaten hot. The sticky nian gao just gels everything together so well. Recently many stalls in Singapore have been adding lime to their sugar cane instead of lemon. Long before Singapore sugarcane sellers realised that lime made the drink taste better, I'd been having my lime sugarcane fix at the stall next to the coffeeshop. Not that it's anything special now but it just brings back memories for me.

My whole family's definitely coming along with me the next time I'm in KL. For sure.

P/S: This entry is dedicated specially to my dear brother... happy?? now now.. don't cry anymore..

Saturday, October 28, 2006

hong kong eats . day five

Before I left for HK, E recommended me this really great site to check out the good & bad eating places in HK. I found it pretty informative and it actually prompted me to try out a cafe which had everyone raving. The interesting thing about this was that all the raving was just over scrambled eggs.

So on my fifth and last day in HK, D & I hopped over to Jordan just to search for this bustling cafe called Australia Dairy Company (G/F, 47 Parkes St.). The place was pretty easy to find and when I got there, I got very excited. For a chachanteng, its size was pretty big and filled with people! People in HK move in and out pretty fast so we managed to get a seat almost as soon as we got there. Seeing that the waiters were speaking so fast, we didn't have much time to brood over what we wanted to eat so we just ordered the most popular item on the menu; their set meal.

For HKD 22, that's what we got. When the food came, D asked me what was so special about the food. I told him that it was the scrambled eggs. At that time, he said "it's just scrambled eggs what!" but after he took the first mouthful, he smiled and told me "yah, it's good". The macaroni soup was good but nothing spectacular I felt but the eggs and bread were so delicious even though they were so simple. The bread was thick and toasted to a light crisp on the outside but yet it was so soft inside. The eggs were smooth, creamy and buttery. I have a feeling they added evaporated milk but whatever it is, it was probably the best scrambled eggs I've ever tasted. I was glad that D was the one who was with me. If it was someone else, I won't be so sure that they'd be willing to travel just to eat scrambled eggs. Whatever it is though, the trip was well worth it.

The meal was around brunch time and filled us up quite a bit so we took the time to explore more of Kowloon side and eventually made our way to Sha Tin, a place famous for roast pigeons. This was one of those on my list of 'must-go' places. If you ask me what's the difference between roast goose, roast duck and roast pigeon, I probably won't be able to describe it except that pigeon has a more tender flesh. I love all 3 of them anyway. E recommended me to try Zun Zun but it was closed when we got there so we decided to give its neighbour a try since we had travelled so far to get our roast pigeon.

I don't know if it's just me but famous or not, almost everything I've eaten in HK has been delicious! Seems like that's the case whenever I visit HK. I'm saying this cos Zun Zun's neighbour served up a good meal as well. I don't know when I'll get to try Zun Zun so I don't know how MUCH better it is but this was good enough for me.

It was D's first time trying roast pigeon and I think he liked it a lot too. The other pic you see is of Curry Seafood Fried Rice which was pretty yummy too although it lost its charm when it turned cold afterwards.

I had to spent the night packing cos I was leaving the next morning. We didn't have much appetite for dinner since we had our lunch so late so we just decided to buy some sashimi and sushi back to the apartment as our supper. Everytime I visit HK, I'd be sure to stop of Sogo at Causeway Bay for some sashimi. Prices are lowered after 8.30pm just like in Singapore. There's more variety, it's cheaper, fresher and I love that they cut the slices so thick. My favourite is the aburi salmon sashimi topped with ikura. You can get toro too at a more afforable price compared to Singapore.

Time passes when you're having fun. Seems like I fulfilled a lot of my wishes on this trip. Being able to savour the good food and spending the time with D has been memorable. When will I visit HK again? I'm crossing my fingers now. Soon maybe...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

hong kong eats . day four

It was day four of my Hong Kong trip. Woke up slightly earlier than usual today cos I was complaining that we weren't getting up early enough to have breakfast before lunch. Usually, by the time we get ready to leave the apartment and all, we'd be in time for brunch. Somehow, that wasn't too good for me cos technically some simple mathematics made me realise that I was missing out on one meal a day and since I was going to be in HK for 5 mornings, that would have worked out to a lot of "lost" breakfasts. Very calculative I know. I had already lost 2 and I didn't want to lose out on more so we brushed our teeth, got dressed and left for breakkie.

I was whining about not having my favourite instant noodles with luncheon meat and egg so D brought me to his regular dinner haunt for breakfast. Weird I know but they serve food all round the clock. In the end, it was D who ordered my favourite and I decided to have the instant noodles with pork chop since D told me he liked the pork chop rice they served. The pork chop was very tasty but I should have just gone with my favourite. Nothing to describe here anyways. How special can instant noodles taste? I had my Yin Yeong too so breakfast ended up giving me a whole lot of satisfaction.

Went back to the apartment to freshen up and did a little bit of shopping in the Wan Chai area. D and I had a nice plan for lunch that day and I was really excited about it. I'd probably dedicate another post about lunch. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch and have much to say about the place so I think another entry on this is what it deserves.

After lunch, D & I made our way down to Sai Kung, a place that's famous of seafood. Apparently, some stalls are frequented very often by HK stars. Probably cos there's a TVB station nearby as well. It was a small district and we had to take a mini bus to get there. I liked the place though cos I found it very charming. Along the banks of the sea, there were fishermen selling their daily catch. There were also many people walking their dogs. The dogs were so cute and attracted lots of attention from passers-by.

Although I didn't have seafood for dinner, I ended up having late tea at Honeymoon Desserts (Shop A,B,C, No. 10 Po Tung Rd., Sai Kung) ; a famous dessert stall that started its days in Sai Kung. Apparently, Honeymoon Desserts became so popular because many HK stars used to frequent the stall. Fans who wanted to catch a glimpse of their idol would also visit Honeymoon. With their help, Honeymoon was able to expand their business and now have many outlets throughout HK.

I was recommended by E to try their Mango Pomelo dessert. I had also found out that they were famous for their durian desserts like durian and cream pancakes. It was interesting to see the durian-eating customers isolated in another shop cos some people just cannot bear the smell. Anyhow, I ended up having Mango Pomelo Beancurd dessert and D had the Tang Yuan in Black Sesame Cream. Both turned out ok but we agreed that we still preferred Hang Fa Lau and Hui Lau Shan.

After exploring the town a bit more and waiting for the rain to stop, we made our way back to Hong Kong Island just in time for dinner. When D first reached HK, he told me that he wanted to have some pasta after eating too much of Chinese food. So I consulted HK Foodie and found a very interesting recommendation on Te (1/F, 37 Cochrane St., Central - Intersection of Lyndhurst Terrace & Mid-Levels Escalator). Apparently, Te started from Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. Being from Japan, the pasta they serve isn't the typical Italian kind. I told D about this place, he decided to try it and then raved about it. So even though I was in HK, the land of Chinese food, I had to give this Te a try.

I made my order of the Mentaiko Pasta which I've never had and didn't regret having. The sauce was creamy and smooth. It was really simple; just pasta, cream and mentaiko but the flavours blended so well together that you wouldn't have need anything more. Regretfully, I didn't try the herb teas that they're known for. Whatever it is, Te left me with a good and lasting impression. Might want to go to some Japanese Italian cafe in Singapore now to see if they match up. A little bit of comparison won't harm I guess...

After the very satisfying meal that left a lingering taste in my mouth, D dragged me to Krispy Kreme's (51 Elgin St., SoHo) for some dessert. He kept going on about how we didn't have them for tea and all so I relented when he requested that we have it when he saw the new outlet in SoHo. THAT was a MAJOR mistake because it threw out whatever lightness I felt from my simple mentaiko pasta dinner. In fact, it left me with blocked arteries and hundreds of calories. I like the simple sugar coated one usually but I shouldn't have been adventurous to try those with caramel cos it's super super sweet! It's probably not a 'night' food as well. I figure it would taste much better when you need that sugar rush to wake you up from a sleepy afternoon.

Speaking of which though, I think Singapore should have Krispy Kreme's too. Afterall, I think many Singaporeans love it looking at the boxes of doughnuts carried home from the US. Whether it will do well once it's on our shores and is no longer a novelty is another story altogether.

Monday, October 09, 2006

hong kong eats . day three

Day 3 started with a little damper. The skies were dark when D & I got out of the apartment. Some rain came along but thank goodness we managed to settle ourselves into a dim sum restaurant before that happened.

I cannot remember the name of the restaurant where we had our typical HK dimsum. I only know that it was in a building in Wanchai and was just next to the HK Convention Centre. To be honest, the dimsum was practically as unmemorable as its name. It wasn't bad or anything; it was just merely normal. Nothing spectacular although I have to commend the prawn Cheong Fun cos it's was the most different and tastiest of the lot. Instead of just prawns in it like how we're used to, there was a layer of fried beancurd skin wrapping the prawns. Definitely added a lot more texture than just having prawns alone.

Maybe I should have tried the dim sum at Maxim's or Superstar. I have this thing for dimsum pushcarts with ladies shouting, "Lo Mai Kai, Cha Siew Bao, Har Kow, Siew Maiii...". I couldn't get up early enough for dim sum on other days and even if I did, there were too many other things to eat so I never got there. Just have to wait til next time on that.

After brunch, we hung out around Wanchai and Causeway Bay for a bit. Did some shopping then decided to make our way to Ladies' Street in Mongkok. I've always travelled the MTR when I visit HK but this time, D suggested to we take the ferry over to Kowloon for a different experience and so we did. The view was pretty although it was a really misty after the light shower we had in the morning.

More eating. The moment we reached the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry terminal, D suggested some Hui Lau Shan for tea. This was my chance to have the curry fishballs which I was dying to have 2 days before. He barred me from ordering it before bcos it didn't go well with our mango desserts but oh well, he made up for it!

This is one thing I never fail to have when I'm in HK. D doesn't really fancy the taste of HK-styled curry and much prefers the conventional Indian curry but he's just missing out in my opinion! It's got fishballs, radish, cuttlefish and dried pig's skin in there. Why do I love it? Simply cos it's delicous...

After we did some very important shopping at Ladies' Street, I brought D to Che Zai Min located on Soy Street, an intersection at Ladies' Street, to try the famous fried Chu Qian Yi Ding with chicken wings. I wrote about this place in one of my first few entries. Had a gut feeling that D would like it cos he has always loved Hong Kong noodles and this tastes like it. He ended up loving the fried tofu even more though cos of the special dipping sauce that came along with it.

Finally ended the day with some yummy Haagen Daas ice cream. I'm not sure if this is sold in Singapore yet but we had the summer berries ice cream coated with dark chocolate on a stick. Reminded me of the times when D and I went crazy over the Haagen Daas strawberry ice cream coated with white chocolate in Hawaii. Singapore had that flavour for awhile but somehow disappeared from the shops one day which was pretty disappointing.

Finally ended the long day we had to get some rest back at the apartment. All the walking was killing my legs but at the same time, it was good for the eating that I was doing. I'm just so good at making excuses for myself isn't it??