Chin Huat Live Seafood

It HAS been a while since I last had good seafood. The last time would be..scallops in Borough Market? Burger & Lobster in London? Chin Huat Live Seafood was our stop. Before you enter the restaurant, you will be greeted by glass aquariums with fresh seafood. Lobsters that were probably longer and thicker than my forearm, crabs so huge they could just engulf my face.IMG_4296

We did not just order these four dishes, as there were other appetizers and all, but these were, in my opinion, the main stars of that dinner. The lobster was cooked in their own Superior Broth. A common mistake would be to either undercook the lobster, making it absolutely uneatable, or overcook it, rendering it really tough but still eatable.  However, Chin Huat did it well as the meat was tender and seasoned well by the broth.

The next two dishes were chilli crab and one of the menu highlights: Golden Sauce Crab. The crab was cooked in their signature sambal-based gravy, with corn starch and egg to thicken the sauce. Pair the sauce with white rice, happy days.

What impressed me was the Golden Sauce Crab. Some of you might have heard of or tried it before but I have not really heard of cooking crabs in a pumpkin based sauce. The sauce is so creamy, with a hint of spice from chilli padi and fragrance from curry leaves. You MUST order their deep-fried mantou which sells for $1 a piece. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Dip it well into either sauces (chilli crab/golden sauce), and enjoy the burst of flavours.

Last dish was Chye Por Hor Fun, a dish so filled with wok hei, succulent prawns, covered in a blanket of fried egg.

(I found a recipe for pumpkin king prawns here! But I believe that recipe can be applied to crabs as well! Thanks to Chefandsommelier!)

Address:
Blk 105 Clementi St 12, #01-30,
Singapore 120105

Nearest MRT:
Clementi MRT Station (EW23)
Buses: 52, 154, 184
(Take to the bus-stop “Blk 109”, ID:12061)

Opening hours:
Mon-Sun:
11.30AM – 2.30PM
5.00PM – 10.30PM

 

Lean Bento

Most of the people I know are into healthy eating these days, me included. (Well, ONCE IN A WHILE.) Healthy food need not be boring, tasteless and lack of variety. It can be done well, if you set your heart to it! And I think Lean Bento’s doing a pretty good job!

Lean Bento’s located in a nice spot on Holland Drive, and I don’t think you will miss this shop as it has got a pretty big sign. It is also very near Holland Drive Market and Food Centre too!

(Check out their Facebook page or their Instagram page!)

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It’s not too big as you can see from the photos, but it is still cozy. High tables on the right, normal tables on the left. If you’re coming in big groups, do take note that you might be separated.

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Once you’re in the restaurant, the menu is there in full view, ranging from breakfast, to lunch & dinner, and finally desserts.

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Water, serviettes, and cutlery are available on both sides of the restaurant so you don’t have to go back to the same spot repeatedly.

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We were there for dinner so we had quite a lot of choices, from their normal sized bento to their mega-sized ones, also known as “Mega Hero Bento”. I decided on making my own bento set with chilli chicken, sushi multigrain rice, with sides of scrambled eggs, corn, and a salad drizzled with a honey miso sauce.

I love how the rice is cooked perfectly and it is neither soggy nor undercooked. If I’m not wrong, they used chicken thighs which are more tender and cooks better as compared to chicken breast, which will become dry and hard once you overcook it. It was seasoned well, but I believe they could go easier on the salt. Scrambled eggs was quite creamy, and personally I would have preferred the really creamy ones with only bits of cooked egg. Nonetheless, it is not very common to see cafes paying attention to a simple but difficult-to-get-right dish such as scrambled eggs.

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If you’re into healthy eating, or looking for vegan/vegetarian options, Lean Bento has it!

Address:
43 Holland Drive, #01-49, 270043

Nearest MRT:
Buona Vista Station (EW21/CC22)

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri: 10AM – 9PM
Sat – Sun: 10AM – 6PM

 

Food Tour (III) Prego’s @ Fairmont Singapore

Our final stop was to Prego’s at Fairmont Singapore. Chef de Cuisine Antonio Facchinetti made it a family-sharing styled lunch/dinner compared to the individual servings we had earlier on. Amazing dishes such as Insalata Caprese (correct me if I’m wrong!) – a dish with buffalo mozzarella that was so soft, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar; Plus my personal favourites, Penne Tartufate – penne with sautéed mushrooms and a truffle cream sauce, pasta was cooked al dente, sauce was not too heavy;  and Prego’s ‘House Signature’ Tiramisu, which was extremely light and had a great balance of coffee and liqueur.

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Insalata Caprese (Vine Ripened Tomatoes with Buffalo Mozzarella)

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Penne Tartufate (Pasta with Sauteed Wild Mushrooms in a Truffle Cream Sauce)

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Cappellacci di Zucca

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Tiramisu

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With Maureen (misstamchiak)

There were other dishes that did not make it into these photo slideshow but they were great as well. I am so grateful to Maureen for organizing this food tour and picking the 10 winners too! Through this food tour I met 9 other foodies that had so much love for food, and the great lengths they go to arranging their food for a photo shot.

Don’t forget to check out the Accor Hotels Food and Wine Festival from the 4th to the 12th of November and there will be a total of 40 restaurants and bars taking part in this festival!

P.S. I ended the food tour at night with a Backstreet Boys concert at the Indoor Stadium. So darn good, as always.

Food Tour (II) Ellenborough Market Cafe @ Swissotel Merchant Court

Second stop was to the Ellenborough Market Cafe at Swissotel Merchant Court. Helmed by Chef Louis Tay, this restaurant aims to serve the best of Peranakan Cuisine, alongside Asian and International goodies. For the AccorHotels Food & Wine Festival, the Cafe will be serving a Tiffin Set for two.

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Hee Pioh Soup

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Stir-fried Chincalok Pork

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Lady’s Fingers with Sambal Belachan

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Ikan Assam Pedas

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Turmeric Rice

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Pièce de résistance: Durian Pengat drizzled with Gula Melaka

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Assorted Nyonya Kueh

 

Soup:
Hee Pioh Soup, also known as Meatball and Fish Maw Soup. As clear as it seems, every spoonful gives a burst of intense flavour.

Main Course:
Served with a main staple of Turmeric Rice, you’ll have Stir-fried Chincalok Pork, Ikan Assam Pedas, and Lady’s Fingers with Sambal Belachan. My personal favourite was Ikan Assam Pedas – fresh fish, and the broth was a fine balance between sour and spicy.

Dessert:
Assorted Nyonya Kueh. We were very lucky to be served an additional bowl of Durian Pengat which is topped with a drizzle of Gula Melaka (this will be on the a la carte menu during the festival). Sinful but oh so good.

Food Tour (I) Racines @ Sofitel Singapore City Centre

In conjunction with the AccorHotels Food and Wine Festival that will be held from the 4th to the 12th of November, 10 lucky readers were chosen by Maureen a.k.a MissTamChiak to join her on a food tour to three hotels and taste the food that will be offered during the festival. And, I was one of them! I never thought I would win a contest but I bet you could imagine my joy when I did.

First stop was to Racines at Sofitel Singapore City Centre. Only opened for approximately three weeks, the ambience, the architecture, furniture, staff, and most importantly, the open-concept kitchen caught my eye and I fell in love with this restaurant almost immediately. Executive Chef Jean-Charles Dubois made sure that we were all satisfied (and more) with the four-course meal. I was, and still am, very satisfied indeed.

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Appetizer:
Carpaccio of Hokkaido Sea Scallops with House Made Tarama, drizzled with Chive Oil and Grated Yuzu. Fresh with a great combination of textures.

 

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Soup:
A Traditional Lobster Bisque with Coral Oil, Basil, Emmental Ravioli, and Micro Cress. The ravioli was served first, before the lobster bisque was poured in. Past experiences with lobster bisque was a thick soup, but this was the opposite. Not thick, but still full of flavour.

 

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Main Course:
48 Hour Slow-Cooked Wagyu Beef Cheek, Truffled Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Greens. 2 days of tender, loving care, resulting in meat that cuts without much force. Creamy mash, with greens that are cooked perfectly. None of your overcooked nonsense.

 

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Dessert:
Azuki Bean Cream, Orange Peel (Candied), Mochi, and Hand-made Green Tea Ice Cream. Thank you very Matcha for a perfect end to an amazing meal.

South Union Park

Hidden in the residential areas about a 7 minute walk from Kembangan MRT station, you’ll find situated in a corner a nice little bistro that sits about 50+ people comfortably. I learnt from Danielfooddiary that they opened in March last year and how the chefs were trained in fine-dining techniques and modified their dishes for a casual dining experience.

Scotch eggs are commonly part of picnic menus over in the United Kingdom and the sausage meat is normally seasoned with herbs such as sage (sage+pork are great buddies), thyme and parsley. Over here at South Union Park, it had an oriental feel to it because there were hints of lemongrass and ginger which were pretty new to me but still tasted great! (And the eggs were cooked well, with a runny centre!)

This would definitely be a recommended dish – Squid Ink Risotto ($26). Risotto cooked al dente, topped with generous portions of well-cooked squid, prawns, and clams. The slight citrus hit would be due to the grated lemon zest which does lift the whole dish. The best thing about this dish is the absence of a fishy taste. My past experiences with squid-ink related dish has been nothing but fishy, but not this time.

Another dish that is a must try would be Poutine ($12), a ducky, cheesy, potato-y bowl of goodness. Just think fries with duck gravy and melted cheese – that’ll get you drooling.

We decided to order one of each dessert – Brownie ($9), topped with a generous scoop of salted caramel ice cream, candied walnuts, and butter scotch; Passionfruit Carrot Fondant ($14), with frozen yoghurt and a carrot ginger purée; Roasted Pineapple & Coconut Parfait ($11), with butter cookies, coconut, and oat granola; Banana Chocolate Parfait ($8), with banana & chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and candied walnuts. (Photos of both parfaits are not displayed here, but it was delectable!)

The brownie is shown above, while the fondant is shown below.

Brownie was served warm with a soft interior. It was a combination of great textures – the nuts, the soft salted caramel ice cream, the warm brownie, all enveloped by gooey butterscotch.

The Passionfruit Carrot Fondant had an unique taste – an interesting amalgamation of flavours and ingredients such as a carrot ginger puree! I wouldn’t call this dish an acquired taste, but a one that plays with your tastebuds! The fondant was cooked perfectly, with a molten centre, similar in principle to that of a chocolate fondant.

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And here’s us, with our satisfied faces after a wonderful meal. Staff were all very friendly and ready to help. I’m definitely coming back because they change their menu every 6 months! So head down to South Union Park to give the dishes a try!

Check them out at instagram here!

Address:
101 Jln Kembangan,
Singapore 419139

Nearest MRT:
Kembangan MRT Station (EW6)
The bistro is a 7-8 minute walk from the station.

Opening hours:
Closed on Mondays
Tues – Thurs: 5.30PM – 10:00PM
Fri: 11:30AM – 10:00PM
Sat: 9:00AM – 10:00PM
Sun: 9:00AM – 9:00PM

90 minutes for lunch? Let’s go!

What do you do if you only had 90 minutes for lunch? You’ve got to sit down quickly and clean out the food! (Nah, just kidding. Please don’t eat too fast, and chew it well before you swallow it.)

Enough talk and let’s go straight to the food.

If you love Korean spicy rice cakes (tteokbokki) and hotpots, why not combine them into one? Dookki Restaurant is the place to go! Situated at the basement of Suntec City, it is a few units away from Ya Kun so you’ll not miss it!

Dookki restaurant is quite popular so you have to be prepared to wait for your table. Most importantly, make sure EVERYONE from your group is there and ready to enter the restaurant. Rest assured, the staff is really efficient in making sure you have a table and are seated comfortably.

Once you’re seated at your table, and when the waiters/waitresses have taught you how to handle the hotpot, off you go to the buffet section! They have 8 varieties of rice cakes, and they come in different shapes, lengths and sizes! My personal favourite? The sweet potato rice cake. Keep your eyes peeled for a purple rice cake!

When you’re done choosing the rice cakes, get yourself some sausages, seafood, spam, and vegetables (this is to make you feel less guilty when you’re gobbling down all the processed meat). Please take the mung bean sprouts as they go really well with the sauce and adds a crunchy texture to the dish.

Of course, what’s tteokbokki without its sauce? Concoct your spicy sauce with the 5 recipes displayed at the sauce corner. OR, if you’re into spicy foods like me, go all out (add more of the flame sauce).

Just behind the sauce corner are dishes of fried food. These are all meant to be put into the pot when the sauce is done so don’t forget it! My favourite would be the fried ‘kimbap’. Instead of ‘bap’ or rice, they wrap noodles with seaweed, dip it in batter and deep-fry it. An absolute joy.

Once your sauce is ready, add the stock along with the sauce and this is what you should get, as shown above. Let it bubble before adding all your ingredients in. Give it a good mix and you should get what I got below. The sauce will definitely thicken so it is up to you to pour in a little bit more stock if you find it too thick for you. Oh, before I forget, they serve “eomuk”, or commonly known as fishcakes on skewers! These are pretty reminiscent of Korean dramas – how they savour every single stick and wipe it clean.

Lastly, top up approximately $10 for a cheese ring if you’re an absolute cheese fan. I was impressed at first but I realized the ring was not attached to a heat source, thus the cheese hardened when it cooled down. So the trick is to eat it all up (i.e. wrap it in rice cakes or anything) before it hardens! It is totally fine if you skip this order. At $18.80++ per person, I don’t see why you shouldn’t go for this buffet!

 

Address:
3 Temasek Boulevard, #B1-107,
Singapore 038984

Nearest MRT:
City Hall Station (NS25/EW13)
Promenade Station (CC4/DT15)

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri
11.30AM – 10.30PM

Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant

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I first set foot into Al-Azhar a few years back when some friends and I were looking for a great supper spot near school. Years on, it’s still one of my favourite supper spots in the west of Singapore (I do this once in a LONG while)! You will not miss its signature green tables, long queues on Friday nights as well as the weekends, waiters rushing about with their hands full, sizzling hot plates of meat and of course, the smell of good food.

So that Saturday morning was a meet up with my university buds and we were fortunate to get two tables for more than 10 people. My favourite dishes from Al-Azhar are the butter chicken, garlic naan and their kuay teow goreng (extra spicy). As there were friends that weren’t good with spicy food, I ordered another serving of dhal to go with the naan.

The butter chicken is served warm with a touch of cream and coriander. This dish, however, is on the heavy side as it contains butter and cream in the gravy – heavy but a perfect complement to the garlic naan. Instead of having a serving to yourself, share the ‘burden’ with a few friends (and the calories too!). Kuay teow goreng seems to accompany me whenever I’m at Al-Azhar for supper. It is not that easy to replicate this dish at home because of the ‘wok hei’ you get when you dig into this dish. The noodles are cooked just right, with vegetables as well as minced meat. I love spicy food, hence I always order it extra spicy. Wash it down with an ice-cold cup of iced milk tea (teh beng) or *Milo dinosaur and you will find that life is so much better.

*Milo dinosaur: Ice-cold cup of Milo, a malt drink, with extra scoops of Milo powder. Head here to see how it looks like (extremely sinful, but oh. So. Good.)!

 

Address:
[Bukit Timah Outlet]
11 Cheong Chin Nam Rd
Singapore 599736

[Tampines Outlet]
Blk 201D Tampines Street 21 #01-1105
Singapore 524201

Nearest MRT:
Beauty World Station (DT5)
If you are driving here, park at the carpark opposite Dominos’ Pizza or you can always park at the shopping malls!

Tampines Station (EW2)
You can take buses 8/18/38/39 from the Tampines Bus Interchange.

Opening hours:
24 HOURS!

Meat overdose at Brotzeit’s

So you think you’ve had enough of meat? Nooooope. Not until you head to Brotzeit for their platters. The Brotzeit Platter, a platter that “represents the Best of Brotzeit” is a platter that is guaranteed to meatify (I believe there’s no such word, but it’s alright.) your 5 senses including your tummy as well.

In the photo, from left to right, you have a variety of sausages which include grilled pork sausages, spicy chicken, cheese, thüringer (the spiral sausage) and garlic pork, followed by a crispy roasted pork knuckle, ending with honey Bavarian pork ribs. This platter (S$98) also comes with three side dishes: potato salad, fries and lastly my favourite, sauerkraut.

The star of the platter is right smack in the middle: the pork knuckle. It is beautifully roasted with its crispy outer layer and a juicy interior. Cutting through the crispy skin is like music to my ears and it opens up into the tender meat. Dip it in some wholegrain mustard and indulge in savoury porky-ness. Some people might find the knuckle too oily because of all the fats. It is normal to fill “gelat” or feel uncomfortable with that amount of fats. That’s what the sauerkraut is for! It helps to cleanse your palate and allows you to continue eating (it works for me).

However, the pork ribs were just above average. It did not have the “WOW” factor i.e. falling off the bone, extremely tender. The seasoning was alright, but I felt that it did not penetrate the meat as how it should be. But the platter as a whole was pretty good! Take care to not drink too much beer at the start if not you WILL be full very quickly. I should have ordered the schnitzel instead of the ribs, but that is for another time!

Address:
126 East Coast Road,
Singapore 428809
(When you are walking out of 112 Katong, walk towards the main road. Brotzeit will be across the road on your right.)

Nearest MRT:
Dakota Station (CC8)
Follow signs for “Blk 99” and take buses 10/16/32. These buses will stop opposite 112 Katong. You can’t miss it!

Opening hours:
Mon – Fri: 4PM – 12AM
Sat: 10AM – 1AM
Sun: 10AM – 12AM

Penne Bolognese: In less than 30 minutes!

In less than 30 minutes? Pasta bolognese? Yes it’s possible! The most important step before cooking is to prepare all your ingredients – “Mise en place”, a French term – which means “everything in its place”. You won’t have to worry about not preparing your vegetables, or taking meat out of the fridge.

Yes, bolognese sauce can be done in less than 30 minutes. I would say it’s a little like Nigella Express. With the right ingredients and proper steps, you don’t have to slave over the stove for hours and hours. There are many variety of meat sauces but of course the authentic one comes straight from Italy. Italian chefs have shown the proper way and the original recipe for the bolognese sauce and I wouldn’t dare to offend them!

My recipe is catered for convenience and families that would want a quick but really delicious meal.

Ingredients:

  • 600 – 800g of minced beef
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large red onions (or yellow, whichever you prefer), finely chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 – 3 pieces of anchovy fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle of Prego® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 can of tinned tomatoes, reuse to add one can of freshly boiled water
  • Pasta of your choice (I used penne here. Traditionally, tagliatelle is used.)
  1. An important point to take note of when cooking minced beef, a tip I learnt from great chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White, is to never put your mince in a cold pan. ALWAYS make sure your pan is really hot before adding your oil and adding the mince just before the oil starts to smoke. Also, try to use a deep-based pan for the mince.
  2. When you’ve done that, let the heat come back up and then start stirring the mince to break it up. Let all the water evaporate so that you can start searing/browning the meat.
  3. Once the meat is browned (take note of the crackling sound in the pan). Add the cumin powder, chilli powder and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and mix everything together.
  4. Add the finely chopped onions, crushed garlic, grated carrots, and continue mixing.
  5. Empty the bottle of tomato sauce as well as the tinned tomatoes, and also a can of freshly boiled water.
  6. After stirring for a couple of minutes, add the cherry tomatoes last. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. By now, you should already have a pot of salted boiling water to prep your pasta. The cooking time should be approximately 2-3 minutes less than the instructions on the packet (I will explain later).
  8. Drain the pasta when done, not before saving a cup of pasta water, and pour it into the bolognese sauce. Mix well!
  9. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, al dente or more than that, serve it from the pan or in a glass dish.
  10. Garnish with sprigs of coriander leaves/cilantro and julienned chilli.

[Notes]

A deep-based pan is important as you will be handling a substantial amount of liquid as well. For this recipe I used a wok as it IS deep and quite big as well. It is important to get it really hot as you don’t want to boil the meat. You want to caramelize the meat – gives it extra flavour.

Pasta choice is entirely up to you. I chose penne because the meat sauce can get trapped inside the holes thus making every bite a pleasure!

When cooking the pasta, you must know that there will be additional cooking time in the bolognese sauce. If the instructions on the packet says 11 minutes, and you cook it for that long, your pasta will be overcooked and might turn soggy. That is why you cook it 2-3 minutes less than the original so the pasta will be just nice when the dish is completed.

It is also not a crime to use pre-made sauces from the supermarket. They add so much flavour within a short time. However, to balance it out, I add a can of tinned tomatoes, some water, and occasionally a teaspoon of sugar to make it gentler on the palate.

In this recipe, I have added 2-3 pieces of finely chopped anchovies as it gives the dish a greater depth. People might hate anchovies, but after chopping them and simmering, they just melt away, leaving no trace. At. All.

Give this a try, and I would really, really appreciate any comments! Comments about the recipes, food, or even ways to improve my blog!