Wednesday, September 27, 2006

PINK . sausage party!!

About a week and a half ago, about 8 of us friends got together and had for the first time, a themed party! Most of us have know each other for almost 10 years, some even more and never once did we plan something with a theme. Recently, everyone's been really upbeat so whatever we talked about that would have usually got thrown out the window, was put to action. So interestingly enough, Chum threw up some 'Let's have a PINK sausage Party!' and so we did.

Ok no.... we didn't have to make sausages pink. Basically, everyone had to wear an item on them that was in a shade of pink. Then the food that was prepared by each person had to either have an element of pink in it or have sausages in it. Better if there was both! Everyone took out their creativity which had been long hidden. 'The one that never cooks' Xin made sushi, Sab dyed hard boiled eggs pink and had each of our names written on them so that she'd find out who didn't eat their share, Chum made beef with basil topped with pink ginger, Pei did a nice appetiser with ham and walnuts, XW made 'Camel Porridge' some dish out of Da Chang Jin (quite impressive!), Lan brought some italian sausages and I made sausage rolls. However, the star dish of the night was YA's Pink Vodka Pasta!! *clap*

Years ago, he tried cooking for us and got some harsh critics. From then on, he hasn't touched the frying pan (so he says!). Everyone was super impressed with him that night! I was more baffled at how he managed to change the taste of the pasta totally in 15 minutes. I'm still pondering on that...

Our dining table...

Thank goodness that all except for one didn't suffer from the runs. We were really putting our lives at risk! Nonetheless, it was all good fun. I remember that Xin, Pei and I were really into this cooking thing when we were in JC. We would think of names for the dishes and so on. Really brought back some good memories that night...

Monday, September 25, 2006

part II . the rest of taipei

Now that I'm visiting one of my favourite cities in the world, Hong Kong, this week, continuing to write my entry about Taiwan seems so outdated. But... I still have to finish what I started so I'm just going to list a couple more of the ones I couldn't get enough of.

Most people who visit Taipei would know of Ah Zhong Mian Xian. They should know it cos it's definitely one of the most delicious things I had when I was there. Had in twice in fact! I loved that they threw pig's intestines in there (yes, I eat anything). Maybe standing outside the stall to eat made it tastier??! I was mistaken at first though cos I thought Ah Zhong serves Oyster Mee Sua but it doesn't. I must say Ah Zhong has come a long way since its pushcart-selling days. It even has a branch in LA now!

I never liked Mala Steamboats in Singapore cos the soups are just spicy with no taste whatsoever. Taiwan's Mala Steamboat, however, tastes totally different. The soup is so thick and flavourful and it's not overbearingly spicy so I can actually drink the stock. All the innards, meats and veges thrown in to cook and dipped into a special Sha Cha sauce left me wanting for more. Unfortunately though, I was already stuffed by then.

One thing you cannot miss out on when you visit Taipei is their desserts. What's great was that I was there in Summer so it was the perfect time to feast on the icy cold desserts. There's a whole lot of variety to choose from cos of different flavours, different toppings and even different ways to shaving the ice! My favourites were all the mango desserts I tried cos the fruits were always cut in big cubes, really sweet and juicy.

I've had quite a fair share of Muah Chee in Singapore but I've never had it bbq-ed like how I did when I was in Taipei. I had this while I was having a Yakiniku buffet. The white ones you see are the original flavour and the green one is with a green tea flavour. Texture is firmer than what we get here but still eaten the same way with rolling over crushed peanuts after bbq-ing. I'm told that this is sold on the streets too so it's quite easily available.

Side dishes in Taipei left a very deep impression on me. Mainly cos tofu is my "favourite-est" food and a lot of sides are tofu based. My favourite has got to be cold tofu with century egg drizzled with a thick soy sauce. It's not the normal black soy sauce you get back in Singapore. The texture and taste is almost like oyster sauce but without the oyster taste. It's hard to describe it but I loved it so much, I brought a bottle of the sauce home to eat with my tofu. Before you think I was crazy to bring soy sauce in my luggage, I wasn't alone on this. Pei did that too.

Paying a visit to Dan Shui was pretty special for me cos it's only there that I can get to eat a dish called Ah Gei. It's basically what you see on the left pic; fried tanghoon stuffed in tau kwa. Seems really normal so I guess most people would wonder what the fascination is about. I've heard about this dish years ago watching those Taiwanese food programmes and since it's a combination of 2 things I like, I've always wanted to try it. I got to fulfil that and the tanghoon was very tasty. The fried beehoon is also worth the mention cos the beehoon you get in Taipei is much finer than the ones in Singapore.

A couple of interesting things I learnt about Taipei and its food...
  • All buffets, no matter where you are, only allow a 2 hour seating. In Singapore, some people glue their butts to the chair at a buffet.
  • They can make their sauces pink. I'm still figuring out how it's done.
  • Regular milk teas serve tapioca pearls in a sago-like size. The ones we get in Singapore is only used in Bo Ba Milk Tea which basically just means big pearls in milk tea.
  • Pushcarts selling food are everywhere. The police will come and the stalls will run. 10 minutes later, they'd be back at the exact same spot.
  • Taiwanese love drinking bittergourd juice.
  • A lot of their food is starch-laden but you hardly see fat people around.
  • Fried quail eggs (sunny side up style) are sold as a street food. Singapore always serves it hard boiled.
  • Some sauces can taste quite queer and thus many Singaporeans are not accustomed to Taiwanese cuisine
  • Meat dumplings (Ba Zhang) are eaten with peanut powder.
  • Taiwan produces some pretty fantastic tasting instant noodles. Some even have real pieces of meat in them!
So I guess that's all for my Taiwan travels. Finally got through it. For me, Taiwanese cuisine was a totally new cuisine and I think if I hadn't visited the place, I would have never got to know exactly what Taiwanese food is like since it isn't so widely available in Singapore. I don't know when I'll be visiting again but I hope it won't be the last time I get to eat my favourites from this Taipei trip.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

gobi . un-happiness in a box

112 East Coast Road
#03-13 Katong Mall
Tel: 6345 2127
Opening Hours: 11am to 8.30pm daily

Have been working crazily for the past 2 weeks cos E was on leave and I had to do some heavy coverage. Haven't had the time to update at all but really really glad that's all over. Towards the end of last week, I was rewarded by E's boss though (probably for the hard work hahaa!). When she placed the beautiful white and pink box on my desk, I got excited immediately cos I saw the word 'Gobi' on the box. I've read about this place earlier from some mag and wanted to try their mini desserts but just never bothered to go down to Katong Mall. Perfect timing I must say. Fulfilled one of my items on the 'want to try' list and at the same time, cured my stress; momentarily at least.

I really meant it when I said 'momentarily' cos I was pretty disappointed when I tasted the cakes. When I first opened the box, I was so happy cos all the cakes looked so beautiful and intricate. When it came to taste though, it didn't go anywhere near the looks department. Even my other 2 colleagues who I invited to share the "treat" felt the same way.

Dark Angel, far left
Not a big fan of chocolate in the first place and the whole cake of doughy and chewy. Supposed to be moist chocolate cake though, according to their website that is.

Smell the Roses, middle

Very corny name cos there was not even a hint of rose scent in this creation. For me, this dessert tasted awfully odd. The purple thing is meringue with lavender infused cream on the tuille. Too sweet for me and odd, of course.

Sweet Somethings, far right
This macaroon wasn't too bad but frankly, how wrong could you go with strawberries and cream?

Cupid, far left
I liked this although the white chocolate casing was too sweet for my liking. The light cheese and kirsch that was piped in was smooth and yummy though.

Love Boat, middle
This was ok too cos I usually like chestnut paste quite a bit. However, something could be done about the dryness.

Opera, far right
This to me was the best one out the whole lot. Yet, it wasn't comparable to any other Opera cakes that I've eaten before.

Pretty cakes isn't it? Almost makes you feel like you don't want to destroy them by gobbling them up. However, the unimpressive tasting plus OTT cheesy names doesn't make it as appealing anymore. I still think though, that it makes a rather good gift. That is, if you just look at it. Talk about happiness in a box... just for a short while. That's my own experience anyway.

I think Gobi needs to find a way to reinvent too cos they only have 6 creations. It's not like those kind of places that makes 6 different ones a day and the menu keeps changing. If they could do that after perfecting their dessert recipes, I think it'd help to bring in more customers in time to come.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

supermarket shopping.

Meidi-ya Supermarket
177 River Valley Road
#B1-50 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Business Hours: 10.00am - 10.00pm

I used to go to Liang Court quite often when I was much younger. At that time, the place didn't seem so "dead". I guess many others like my family and I sort of deserted the place over the years. Liang Court is now held together by a couple of restaurants such as Tung Lok but most people I would say; mainly Japanese actually, keep it semi-alive by patronising Meidi-ya.

I like going to supermarkets actually, especially Japanese ones cos I always find the products more interesting. You'd get to see varieties of sashimi, fresh red stacks of wagyu beef, japanese fruit jellies, all types of sauces etc. At Meidi-ya, you'd get to see those mouth-watering fruits that cost an arm and a leg as well. A couple of days back when I was there, I stood in front of the boxes of grapes for at least 5 minutes just admiring at how perfect they looked in the nicely wrapped up box and of course, wondering how much each grape in that cost too. You can do a close up on the pic below to check the price out. I mean, who buys these grapes??!!!

Besides the stuff you can buy off the shelves at the supermarket, the eateries around there are pretty good as well. There's Tampopo, which I've yet to try and also the simple Japanese curry and udon stall. I love the udon that they serve there cos it's simple and the soup is light. Perfect for those rainy days too.

There's also a gelato stall which if I recall correctly, should be Pokka Gelato or something. However, it's now renamed to Haato. If you've tried the Japanese gelato sold at Wheelock Place, you're getting the same thing here. There are more flavours now compared to the old vendor and what's better is that it tastes great! I ordered the honeydew melon flavour (my favourite!) and enjoyed every bit of it.

I saw a couple of interesting flavours such as sweet potato with honey & chestnut and green tea with red bean. Try the gelato if you haven't had it.

'Til then, happy supermarket shoppin'!!