Monday, January 26

Little bundles of joy at Jing Hua, Palais Renaissance

More commonly known as, Jing Hua first opened doors at “Qun Zhong Eating House” and now, second generation has taken the old mother hen out for a modern spin and even expanded it beyond our sunny shores.

Due to my love-hate relationship with town (love the bustle but hate the crowds), I liked how quiet this outlet at Palais Renaissance was. Due to its location, it is hardly surprising that this outlet has a noticeably more ritzy décor than the Neil Road and Bugus outlet.

An appetizer of sorts were these cigar-shaped egg spring rolls. I was recenelty blown away by the spring rolls at Shanghai Ren Jia (oh those delectable plump pillows with juicy scald-your-tongue fillings!) so these were rather underwhelming. At least they were served warm with a gratifying crisp within each bite.

You get ‘em boiled

You can argue that there isn’t much to be offered here as the menu is as tight as a corset, and the dumplings are more or less made with the same "mixed seafood and pork" filling; however, to me, this exudes a wholesome, home-style charm absent among their overtly commercialized competitors.

Hastily thrown on a plate were some boiled mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings. Filled with pork, shrimp and crab, I am happy to report they were really satisfying despite the haphazard presentation.

You get ‘em boiled deep-fried

There is also a deep-fried version with them dumplings resembling golden ingots. 

You get ‘em pan-fried

The Pan-Fried Mixed Seafood & Pork Dumplings were just as delicious and it was easy to pop one too many into your mouth before you realize the damage done.

Another dish that I really liked was the Chinese Pizza (though I really dislike the need to westernise the name of this dish). Essentially a pancake stuffed with the same-same-but-different mixed seafood and pork filling with crisp crimped edges. A word of advice: You have to eat it quick before soggy bottoms set in.

Spinach with oyster sauce – token vegetable dish.

The noodle dishes - Zha Jiang Noodle and Sliced Pork Sichuan Vegtable Noodle - were meh and severely lacking oomph, compared to the other dishes. Skip them unless you… You know what, hmm just skip them.

A popular dessert among the family is the crispy red bean pancake, which was pleasant though a little doughy and over-fried. Nonetheless, I lapped up 3 pieces, given my love for this dessert. 

If you need to relieve yourself of the oiliness of the meal, the Sweet Osmanthus Flower Rice Ball Soup would delight. The rice flour skins might be thicker than usual but it bore a pleasing mochi-esque texture and each bowl was blessed with an assortment of different fillings such as black sesame, peanut, red bean and lotus paste. Sharing might mean hanging onto a lottery ticket, so yup, get your own bowl.

Friday, January 23

Many foodies don't know what they're talking about, says Raymond Lim

I first met Raymond Lim when I was a writer for the SMU Gourmet Club - some of you might remember this article. He was the PR Director and I found him to be surprisingly friendly and open, given that he was representing THE LES AMIS, whereas I was just a nobody who had not even graduated from university.

Seven years on, I came across this interview he did with IS Magazine and could almost kowtow to him for his 20-20 honesty.

You can read the article here but here are three of my favourite quotes:

Eating has become a social currency. To some people, their sense of self-worth and social standing is decided by whether or not they’ve been to the latest “it” restaurant and hobnobbed with the hottest chefs. Foodie is not a badge that you wear. Don’t let the superficial attraction rob you of the real joy of understanding food.

I’ve met a lot of journalists and bloggers who don’t know what they’re talking about.
You’ve got to know the difference between a crème brulée and crème Catalan, for example.

Restaurants get distracted along the way. They try to be everything: having beans from the same roasters, selling cupcakes and putting Monocle on the bookshelf, the same industrial-chic furniture. Singaporean [restaurateurs] try to do the fanciful things without studying the basics.

Amen, Mr. Lim.

Wednesday, January 21

Awesome barachirashi from Sumiya, Orchard Central

Lobster rolls, truffle fries, salted egg yolk crab... These are some of the most publicized food fads. Yet I swear there is an underground movement for (bara)chirashis and I might have found my go-to for the most value-for-money barachirashi in town.

Nope, it isn't Teppei or Hana Hana though I would love to get my hands on their famous barachirashi.

The lunch set from Sumiya is undeniably wallet-friendly. It comes with a simple green salad, silky-smooth chawanmushi, pickles, appetiser, miso soup and dessert. I must add that, instead of pedestrian fruit slices, the delightful red bean and cream mochi added much brownie points.

The barachirashi itself is a bowl filled with fresh toothsome chunks of salmon, tuna, hamachi and avocado, generously ladled with tobiko and ikura.

Deliciously satisfying. I'll be definitely be back for more.

Monday, January 19

And the pea is 2 weeks old

Muchachos - Mexican with the mostest

Whenever KW and I think of somewhere to do lunch, the unspoken first requirement is - No brunch food. You have no idea how that drastically reduces our weekend options, which incidentally makes our lives easier as well. We somehow settled on Muchachos as it is a place that we both wanted to visit for the longest time - and there weren't Eggs Benedict on the menu (Amen!).

Keong Saik is an area KW and I frequented when we were dating, well before the kids (gasp, plural!) came along. After so many years, the area is decidedly trendier and parking determinedly a bigger pain in the ass.

The simple and straightforward menu at Muchachos offers just burritos and quesadillas with similar fillings (think awesome salsa and guacamole), and a modest list of sides (the buffalo wings do look slightly out of place). Among the 2.5 of us (we only brought the Munchkin along), we shared a burrito, quesadilla, and a basket of guac and chips, and left feeling mucho satisfied.

The burritos at Muchachos come deliciously stuffed with salsa, guacamole, refried beans, rice and a meat of your choice (carne asada), swaddled in a flour tortilla.

Our burrito weighed roughly the size of a newborn puppy but it is all business. We came looking to scratch that Mexican craving and our carne asada burrito nailed it. To be honest, I would have preferred it without the refried beans but KW argued that would not have been a burrito then.

Resembling a Chinese pancake, the quesadilla might look like it suffers from an identity crisis but the taste is anything but confusing.

We went with the carnitas, which cooked in pork lard, bore an unapologetic dose of porkiness. Packed within a toasty tortilla wrap, it was a handful of love and commitment. KW would have preferred it to be cheesier but I liked how I was able to taste everything without it being smothered in cheese.

Even a simple basket of guacamole and chips was endearing. The guacamole, with strong notes of onions and parsley, was legit; and together with those thinnish chips, it was a dip / side dish that matched up to the main players.

The eatery is not designed for lingering conversations and it was a messy meal (especially since I was balancing a 2.5 year old who refused to sit on his own) but we would gladly be back for more.

Friday, January 16

Cold lobster linguine with truffle oil - some like it cold

TGIF, folks!

As promised, here is a great finder-keeper recipe that would please the truffle slut in some of us. 

Why yes, I am recycling these pictures from my previous posts

Cold lobster linguine with truffle oil 
(Adapted from The Fuss Free Chef's Cold Tobiko Pasta; my words in Italics)

Serves 6 as a starter; 4 as a main course

  • 300g angel hair pasta
  • 2 frozen lobsters
  • 5-6 tbsp Japanese kewpie mayo
  • 5-6 tbsp truffle oil
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp chinese cooking wine or sake
  • Generous pinches of sea salt and freshly grounded black pepper
  • Lots of shredded nori (optional - I forgot to add them)
  1. Boil frozen cooked lobster for 5 mins. Do not overcook them! 
  2. Put some water to boil and cook the pasta until al-dente (around 8-10 mins for linguine). Drain and rinse pasta under cold running water.
  3. Pour the cooled pasta into a deep bowl, add in all the seasonings (except nori) and toss everything to mix well. 
  4. Add extra truffle oil if the pasta is too dry. Season with sea salt and black pepper to desired taste - as this is a cold pasta, I thought more seasoning was necessary to bring out the oomph of the pasta.
  5. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least half hour. If you have space, you can chill your serving plates to the fridge as well. 
  6. Serve and swoon. 

Wednesday, January 14

First home entertaining for 2015 - Surf & Turf

Before the delivery, we had a last hoorah with KW's friends, who weren't around for our Christmas party.

Knowing that our guests were going to bring something from Chef Yashimata, we kept things simple with steak and pasta, and oh yes, salad Sun chips.

Dry-aged steaks aren't easy to find in Singapore so KW decided to get 2kg worth of US Ribeye from Culina and dry-age them himself. These steaks were a labour of love as the Mister dry-aged them for 4 days. 

My celebratory meat is definitely steak so these were a real pre-delivery treat.

I made a cold lobster linguine with truffle oil. I'll post the recipe soon and it's a keeper. Yes, lobster and truffle? Like er, hello? #BreakTheInternet

Nope, no truffle snobs in this household. 

Newlyweds Vernon and Yiling brought a Mont Blanc from Chef Yamashita to celebrate the new beginnings (new year, job and soon, kid).

A delightful treat with squiggly chestnut cream, sponge cake and chantily cream atop a buttery puff pastry base. It wasn't overly sweet, and the layers were incredibly soft yet decadent. Oishii desu!

Naturally, we banged out our Haagen Daaz stash because cake and ice cream is ALWAYS a good idea.