Monday, January 30, 2006

新年快樂 - 恭喜發財

I love festive seasons, especially Chinese New Year cos it always gives me the perfect excuse to pig out. I shouldn't worry about eating bak kwa, pineapple tarts or kueh lapis cos CNY only comes once a year. But of course I know, I'm only deluding myself because I could eat all of these anyday and anytime I wanted. One of the most impt things for me at the moment is collecting Ang Pows so I can continue to fund my gastronomic hunts. Better enjoy my collection years while I still can.

Anyways, Mum's been really busy in the kitchen for the past few days preparing for the whole new year season. She never disappoints when it comes to times like this. While I'm writing this, I can already feel my bloating stomach and it's only the first day of CNY but I haven't stopped stuffing my face since reunion dinner last night. I don't know how many people are like me to have "2" reunion dinners in one night. Well, for starters, we had cold crab with lots of smooth and creamy roe and 'pan choi' which we took home from Lei Garden. I've never had it before but it was delicious and filled with many goodies that most will eat only during CNY. It has one whole abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, conpoy etc etc. Pics not very clear but you should get the idea.

After that course was over, we had to take a rest cos our stomachs were decently filled up so Mum came up with the idea of eating dessert cos we should always eat sweet after salty right?? *nod*

Mum made a creamy and smooth barley beancurd dessert. Mum tried this version of the dessert at a shop in Chinatown. Somehow, she managed to replicate it and made it even better. Had it before the 1st and after the 2nd course. So anyways, CNY must-have was my 2nd course. Steamboat. This year's steamboat tasted somewhat different. Dad had the kooky idea of putting a dollar coin into this muah-chee tasting beancurd skin package. Innovative but didn't work cos my grandpa got the lucky package but lost money at mahjong today. Heh. The beef was good this year though. It has a decent amount of marbling which made the meat a little crunchy after blanching it in the hot soup. Splendid with the soy based shabu shabu sauce.

Well that was all last night. Mum cooked up a storm for the rest of my extended family today but when everyone sat down, people started diving for the food. In the midst of the commotion (typical in a large family), I forgot to take pics to share. To give a rough picture, it involved some sotong paste stuffed in sea cucumber, ngoh hiang and pig trotters. So... excuse me whilst I go on eating for the next 14 days. The show's just begun. I can't wait.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

안 녕 하 세 요 . An Nyeong Ha Se Yo

Ju Shin Jung Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant
27 West Coast Highway #01-18/19
Yess Centre 1F

Tel: 6464 0872

Come to think of it, it's been almost a year since I started my so-called 'Korean Fever'. With the big hype of dramas (I'm a big FAN!), RAIN (huge fan!) and my latest Hyun Bin craze, it would be great sin if Korean cuisine was sorely missing from the picture.

It's the 2nd time only that I've been to Ju Shin Jung. Reason why I went back? It serves fantastic, authentic Korean food. You can tell cos you can see many Korean expats dining there. Anyways, it also came recommended by the expats on ST. That's how I caught wind of this place actually. It's one of the only Korean restaurants in Singapore that specialises in BBQs.

For the night, we ordered 3 portions of BBQ for 5 people. You need a minimum of 2 orders before they serve something like 15 free side dishes. I love their chilled tofu with chilli sauce as well as their kimchi. So for the BBQ, we had the marinated beef ribs, marinated pork belly and my favourite for the night, BEEF TONGUE! They were all good but the tongue was great! The texture of the tongue was chewy; mildly crunchy and paired perfectly with the lemon salt dip.

I have to say though, that the highlight of the night was 육회 (Yuk Hee) which is a Raw Beef dish. Something like steak tartare in France. The Korean recipe has slices of Korean pear, a raw egg yolk and some other ingredients of which I have no idea about. I loved it so much, even my mum who usually squirms at eating steak too raw kept reaching for more. The first time I ate this dish was at Arirang in Perth while I was still in school and I've missed it sorely since then.

We also had a huge beef and seafood hotpot which was ok. We ordered it cos we've never seen it other places. Bro didn't favour it much. As for me, I guess it was so-so cos it was the kind of soup that doesn't taste meaty or seafood-y or spicy. Much prefer the regular Soon Dubu or Kimchi Chigae.

Anyways, make sure a booking is made if you want to dine at this restaurant. Be prepared to wait and wait if you're lazy to pick up the phone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

small but BIG.

Being out and about today, eating again of course, made me think about how people so small can make a name for themselves just by being who they are. I told my dad that it's quite amazing that a stall in a coffee shop in a neighbourhood can attract crowds from all parts of Singapore. Granted that Singapore isn't that big an island but still, I consider it a feat that a small stall selling Hainanese curry rice located in a coffee shop in Tiong Bahru can have a strong following and thing is, it's been like this for years. I don't think this place has been publicised before on the newspapers and those food TV programs but frankly, it doesn't need it. Not at all.

Then we went driving around looking for dessert and ended up at the Zion Road Hawker Centre. Sat down, ordered some nice tasting Cheng Tng and the famous Zion Road Char Kway Teow. Whilst I was standing in line, the thought came to my mind again as I stood there staring at all the newspaper cuttings that were hung on the walls. There were headlines that went something like "small but big following" and there was even an invitation to the swearing in of our PM in 2004. As I was watching the uncle frying the kway teow, it felt like he was concentrating on making each plate taste as good as it's said to be. I felt like he was proud of what he was doing and wasn't cutting ends by frying it quicker so that customers didn't have to stand in line so long. He was basically contented. Well, all this just made me think about myself. Am I contented? Am I happy? Am I proud of what I'm doing? All these questions popped up in my head. One thing's for sure though. As I am trying to set goals of climbing the corporate ladder, there are others who are happy being where they are.

Anyways, the Zion Road Char Kway Teow is really good. It's tasty, not too wet or dry and has a smoky flavour to it. It's actually as good as the one in Toa Payoh Lorong 5. Although dad did complain that there were too much beansprouts in there.

I still prefer the Cheng Tng at Newton Circus though but the same stall sells Gingko Nut Soup which my parents loved. It's good for the brains anyways. Might help in the future when age catches up...

Sunday, January 08, 2006

soul food.

Ah Chiang Porridge Pte Ltd
Block 57 Seng Poh Rd #01-72
(Near Tiong Bahru Market)

I'm still recovering from a week long of sickness. I've had aches and sore throat one day, cold and blocked nose on another, then coughing on yet another. Thank god the work week is over. It's been a terribly hectic and tiring week although I did get quite an adrenaline rush amongst the "hecticness" of all that was going on. Good start to the year I say.

Porridge is really my soul food when I get ill. In fact, I love it so much I can have it anytime, any day and I did have it 2 days in a row this week. Then this morning, I had porridge, AGAIN! It was at my fave porridge stall in Tiong Bahru...

My family has always loved waking up in the mornings and driving all the way just to wait almost an hour for the bowl of porridge to arrive on our table. It's really been a while since we last ate there and it's funny that when we got there we realised Ah Chiang had gone PTE LTD! Even a nice little porridge stall in a coffee shop could go PTE LTD! The coffee shop has lost the roti prata stall and now gained a you zha kueh stall which I think is quite smart considering that it complements porridge better than roti prata. The old uncle is no longer cooking in the front but in a back kitchen. They open even in the nights now and service is much better; quicker. I think it's all in the mind but cos it was suddenly so "available", dad complained that the porridge wasn't piping hot enough blah blah but I do agree that it's no longer as smoky as before. He cooked it with charcoal before right in front of our eyes. I'm sure he still does the same but when you can't see it, you could always come up with different excuses as to why the food tastes different now.

So anyways, I enjoyed breakfast. I always do in fact, with the family. This time, we were complete. Just like old times.

Monday, January 02, 2006

5 foodish resolutions for 2006

1. To get through to Buko Nero's phone line and book a table for dinner
2. Learn to cook without recipes
3. Cook and host a dinner party for my groupies
4. To try at least 10 new restaurants
5. To lose some weight whilst all the stuffing is going on

out with the old, in with the new

Can't believe how time flies. New Year's just come and gone. Having said that, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2006 will be a year of delicious feastings for everyone. Oh... and a big big HAPPY BIRTHDAY DI & DA! They're another symbol of how time flies cos I've known them since I was 7. Do the math to see how long it's been. Anyways, I am not old. I just had to say that.

So Mum decided to have this party today and called on relatives and colleagues at work. I didn't even know that the party was going to be this huge but it was cos she cooked up quite a storm today. Basically there was prime rib, roast turkeys, bone-in ham, caesar salad for the western side. Mum planned a Nonya theme this time so we had fried ngoh hiang, itek shio, assam prawns, kueh pie tee etc. Dessert was also quite sumptious cos sis baked a cake, we had bread and butter pudding plus pulot hitam. Thank goodness some of my aunties packed some food home otherwise, I'd be having the same food for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days. Here's some pics of the food that was served tonight.

I just wish I had some of that talent Mum has at cooking. It really isn't easy although it's lotsa fun. I've been thinking about inviting a big group of friends to my place where I become chef for one day instead of my mum. I'm still honing my skills so until then, my friends will have to wait.

For my friends who love my mum's cooking but missed it today, Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Be patient.