Friday, July 25

Mei Xin Congee, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio

One Saturday afternoon, I dragged requested for KW to take me out for a savoury snack and we drove to nearby Ang Mo Kio Central as the food options there allowed us to cast a wider net.

Instead of my usual curry puff or man jian kueh, I decided to have a bowl of congee instead from Mei Xin Congee (#01-32, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Food Centre, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6).

A huge allure of the congee was the domineering beacon of deep-fried you tiao that accompanied every bowl. The you tiao was still hot when I held onto it and you can imagine the expletives that went through my head when I greedily dunked it into the hot congee and wolfed down a big mouthful. Not my brightest moment.

To be honest, there isn't a whole bunch of ingredients waiting for you to unearth but the beauty is in the gruel itself. The of mixed pork innards and minced pork was wonderfully velvety and flavourful - a bowl of comfort food that I could lap up (slowly) everyday.

Wednesday, July 23

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Armenian Street

I did it... I finally made it back to Le Bistrot du Sommelier!

KW and I were deciding where to go for my birthday meal and naturally, all the fine dining places made it to our list but all I really wanted was a good piece of steak. As a result, we rounded up some of our friends to partake in the meat fest at Le Bistrot du Sommelier for lunch on one fine Saturday.

After Bar-Roque and Bistecca, I was itching to head back to this much-loved bistro to see if their Cote du Boeuf still lived up the grand standards set during my 2011 visit. I hope my next visit isn;t three years in the making...

Given that they specialize in rillettes and pates, we went for the duck rillette for our starter and it was really enjoyable, paired with rustic baguette and pickled cornichons.

Not the most artisanal or refined loaf around but it suited our meal and the provincial vibe of the restaurant just fine.

We also had the Panache of Seafood, made up of scallops, scampis and mussels dressed in a light creamy seaweed butter sauce. The dish is a lot smaller than it looks but it was pretty filling, given the likelihood of more baguette-dunking action.

What stole the show was the 1kg, boneless Cote du Boeuf, medium rare. Superbly tender, replete with caramelized crust and unctous fats; even the well-done ends were incredible. Oh man, I can end my twenties in peace!

The sweetness of the beef was well-matched by the accompanying caramelised shallots and garlic confit. By the done, we were close to done with the mains, you could tell some of us were getting uncomfortably full and the conversation took on a slower pace. 

The gratin was a little pot of buttery, creamy carb goodness, the side salad was crisp and refreshing but it was second fiddle to everything else on the table - I swear it existed just to make us feel better about all the animal fat we were ingesting. 

We also ordered the Norweign salmon, pan-fried crisp but a tad dry. The steamed asparagus were a couple of minutes overdone too but the mash was just lovely and of course, buttery smooth.

And of course, there is always room for dessert. Naturally. Without a doubt. Duh.

From a lingering memory, I had my mind and gut set on the profiteroles. What we had were two giant choux buns (bigger than my kids’ fist pumps) filled with vanilla ice cream, bathed in warm chocolate sauce and a smattering of sliced almonds for some crunch. Just incredible!

The crème brulee bore a lovely aroma from the fresh vanilla beans but it could have been a tad more molten-y and the caramelized crust “a little thicker” (KW’s words). But we could be just nitpicking, given the highs of this meal was just sky-high.

It was such an exquisite meal, filled with much chatter and I am really glad I got to share it with some of my closest friends. I definitely also need to thank KW for the very generous treat (and Bimba Y Lola treat just hours before).

Monday, July 21

Hua Long Fish Head Steamboat

It is stressful to think about where to go for birthday meals but I know my family is always game for two things - steak and tze char.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents dapao-ed some stuff back from Hua Long Fish Head Steamboat and they were good enough to warrant a proper re-visit with the entire gang in tow.

Anyway, just to state upfront, the eatery is housed in a coffee shop with no air-conditioning. It might not be worth mentioning but it is a huge deal for my family as most of us would do whatever it takes to stay within the confines of an air-conditioned space. Thankfully, my family is willing to put up with the heat on special occasions.

Since it was a birthday lunch, we placed an advance order for the Lobster Combination platter (at market price but ours costs $118). It was quite the statement showpiece - very fitting of a birthday celebration whether you are 29 or 89. I love how they managed to re-construct the entire lobster with stir-fried butter lobster, prawn rolls, abalone slices with sweet chili sauce, seafood-stuffed beancurd and crabmeat omelette. Kitschy but amusing.

Ever fans of wasabi prawns, we had to try the Japanese Honeydew Wasabi Prawn Balls. Though the wasabi flavour was barely noticeable, the prawns were crunchy and there was a lingering sweetness from the honeydew and grapes.

I had tried the Signature Wok-fried White Beehoon as a takeaway dish and thought it fared better then. To me, the opeh leaf doesn’t serve any purpose unless you use it for takeaway as it amplifies the aroma of the dish. It is nonetheless a pleasant carb dish though I will try something else on my next visit.

One of the clear favourites was the Guinness Stout Pork Ribs made up tender chunks of saucy porky bites.

Well-battered and flavourful, the Salted Egg Calamari was also very well done. That said, I think I have been having too much Salted-Egg-Something lately and I need to get out of this “Salted Egg” arena soon…

I love love love fried rice so this XO Fried Rice with Bacon could do no wrong.

The Braised Herbal Duck with Sea Cucumbers was pretty good too. It was tender and fall-off-the-bone but the duck itself was hardly stringy. 

A dish that needs no introduction but well executed – Sambal Kang Kong.

At the end of the meal, we received a complimentary dessert. Granted it might have been poured out of a can, but we all appreciated a cooling dessert on that hot blistering afternoon.

Looking back, lunch was such an interesting experience. Located in the depths of Block 347 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, we didn’t have a hard time finding it but the GPS was something we heavily relied on; we were the only table in the crowded food centre that had a champagne-gold tablecloth - which I'm told you will get if you make an advance reservation; and at the end of the meal, our super-duper friendly server offered to take a polaroid picture of us (odd but hilarious!).

Friday, July 18

Currently craving for...

Dai Dai Roll and Una Tama Don from Sushi Tei 

/ Japanese rice. With lashings of sweet sauce or wasabi kewpie. I am not even sure this is a legitimate craving since I love Japanese food and Sushi Tei is a near weekly haunt. But I can't get enough of sweet vinegary Japanese rice. 

/ Our short trip to Seoul in October - second family vacation with the munckin. 

/ A comfortable pair of shoes that can take me from Waterloo Street (where I work) to the weekend. Maybe I should consider getting these sneakers online

Happy Friday, folks!

Wednesday, July 16

When Popeye's paid a visit

Back in our household, we have a weird fascination with fried chicken. We fantasize about throwing fried chicken parties, ordering fried chicken delivery... Mind-boggling low-browness that would make one think, Well, why don't you just do it? 

And we did. For Russell's actual birthday dinner. It was really out of convenience since both parents had to work on that weekday and one of us had a teleconference at 6pm. Despite the lack of drama-rama, we, including my elder sister who managed to join us, had alot of low-key greasy-fingers fun. 

The fried chicken definitely delivered on taste and the crunch factor. And I can safely say we more than satisfied our curiosity. 

The biscuits... Oh wow, those were an epiphany! Crusty yet spongy, I could see why more people rave about these more so than the namesake chicken. 

Sad to say but I must, the chicken tenders were a waste of time and stomach space. 

Love the well-seasoned Cajun fries. I would have left them in the oven longer to crisp them up. 

Though a tad watery, the coleslaw was surprisingly palatable, erasing all trace of childhood nightmares induced by KFC. 

We should make fried chicken a tradition for Russell's birthday. I'm just saying...

Monday, July 14

Cupcakes from Chalk Farm, Paragon

I will be honest, I have always wondered how Chalk Farm survives at Paragon. Going by the number of cakes they churn out and on display, I have serious doubts about their sustainability. That said, I do hope their business model is sound because their cupcakes are absolutely scrumptious.

I don't get googly-eyed over cupcakes. I went to New York City for my honeymoon and didn't have a single cupcake. I walked past Magnolia Bakery, bewildered by the queues. In London, I was aghast by the atrocities from Hummingbird Bakery.  Cupcakes? Pffff, give me a lemon curd or strawberry tart any day.

However, for Russell's actual birthday, I decided to get a couple of cupcakes on a whim as I didn't want to get a whole cake. From a cost-benefit point of view, cost was pretty low if the cupcakes turned out to be duds. But these cupcakes didn't land up in the bin but the dark abyss of my fried-chicken-filled stomach. 

My elder sister momentarily shifted her attention from her one-and-only nephew to this uber-moist Red Velvet cupcake that was topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting.  I stabbed my fork into the cupcake, took a bite and said, "Oh wow."

The Macadamia & Salted Caramel was one serious contender for Best Cupcake Around. A forgivably sweet and spongy caramel cupcake crowned with an actually-salty frosting. Seriously good stuffff. 

I won't take back all the things I have said about cupcakes but you could silence me with either one of these from Chalk Farm. 

Friday, July 11

"Yu yuan guo tiao gan", Waterloo Centre

Growing up, we rarely ate bread for breakfast. Things like toast, kaya and peanut butter were rarely stocked in our household and we were usually whisked off to school early enough to avoid the morning jam.

During the weekends, my parents would visit the wet market and buy back local goodies such as economic bee hoon, laksa, fried carrot cake and bak chor mee pok. Out of all the hearty treats, my enduring favourite would be "guo tiao gan". It was my Saturday wake-up-call, way before granola bars and multigrain bread made their way into my ritual. And even up till today, I can never understand people who say, "I can't eat much in the morning."

Then for some reason, guo tiao gan just fell off the radar. Perhaps whenever I visited hawker centres, I would look out for items that could be shared among many people like chicken rice or fried Hokkien mee and guo tiao gan is a lonesome dish - not something that everyone would partake in.

Prior to last week, I  honestly can't remember when I last had guo tiao gan. But when the cravings hit, they hit hard and fast.

A very short walk from the office is Waterloo Centre, where you would find the famous Leong Yeow Famous Waterloo Street Chicken Rice, I found a very commonplace-looking noodle store. Devoid of Makansutra certificates, Mediacorp artists photos and accolades... but it serves up a seriously satisfying "yu yuan guo tiao gan."

If you saw my diet last week, you could tell I was indeed making up for lost time.