With only a week or so left at home we found ourselves trying to clear the pantry and fridge. We'll try to finish what we can before I bring the rest home to KL this weekend.
So last Sunday found me staring at a jar of homemade XO sauce that husband had unashamedly extorted from ttc. It would be nice, I thought, with some horfun, but the two packets of dried pasta sent me admonishing glances, reminding me of their neglect.
So we cooked up some, and tossed them with the fiery sauce along with a splash of black vinegar.Topped with sliced and rinsed abalones and a scatter of green peppers, the result was not half bad. Now, onto the rest of the canned foods....
Like thousands of Singapore residents, we find ourselves in Vivo City more times than we care to admit. Parking is a nightmare, the directions and signboards hopelessly confusing and the crowds are particularly irksome. But we are not deterred. Because the eating here's good, and one particularly good example is Bosses Restaurant.
We noticed the name first- in Cantonese it reads as the more attention-grabbing 'hak se wui' which means the secret society, not a typical Chinese restaurant name obviously. Intrigued, we wandered over to have a gawp at the contemporary black-themed decor and couldn't see much beyond a lounge area with black patent-finish couches and a bar. Susan Hui, the manager, enthusiatically invited us to view the dining area and peruse the menu, never mind the fact that we've just had lunch. The dining room is very elegant, the black theme striking against the view of the water and Sentosa beyond. The menu looked promising, with dim sum, handmade noodles, uniquely HK style dishes, and reasonable prices to boot.
I was curious to try out the place and decided to organise a dinner with friends. emails were exchanged, Susan was extremely accommodating to our requests, and finally we were gathered, in our mostly black outfits, at one of their two private rooms. There was a universal rumbling of discontent when we realised that they do not serve complimentary water and grudgingly ordered mini-bottles of Ice Mountain ($2) to drink with our wines. We were only mollified when the first course of a duo of dim-sum was served.
Susan explained that they do not routinely serve dim-sum for dinner but she wanted us to try some of their special items. The har-kow was exemplary, dainty in appearance, bursting with fresh prawns from its smoothly resilient skin. But it was the nondescript looking prawn ball that surprised us, within the prawn paste was embedded a nugget of what we thought were rather delicious minced fatty pork but which Susan revealed later was foie gras. Nice, understated but nice.
There followed a succession of dishes that impressed us further with their excellent cooking and judgement of flavours. A Fruit Salad with Crispy Aromatic Duck and slightly spicy XO-style dressing served its appetiser function well, our palates were more than gratified with the subsequent Pig Stomach Soup with dried beancurd skin, gingko and barley. Not too peppery, the meaty soup was rendered smoother and more silky with the addition of the barley and beancurd skin; this was husband's favourite dish.
"Yau Cham Soon Hock" was not as disgusting as its name may suggest, the soon hock was very fresh and meaty and drowned not in oil but a classic fragrant soy sauce. "Fong Sa" or Wind and Sand Chicken sounded more romantic than what it actually was, fried chicken with deep fried garlic bits; personally I felt that this was a bit weak, the chicken bland and not absorbed well of its marinade. Top shell with Braised Sea Cucumber was likewise decent but not memorable.
Iced Kai Lan was simply that, stalks of quick-boiled kai lan in a bowl of shaved ice, to be eaten with good soy sauce and wasabi, a vegetarian sashimi of sorts. Simple and a refreshing change from the usual stirfried version, and a cinch to duplicate for home dining too. Then a whole Crispy Aromatic Duck was served with a simple hoisin dip instead of crepes or scallions a la UK-Chinese restaurant; the duck was crispy and still moist in parts, and did well to accompany the wines we brought along.
The best was yet to come though. La Mian with Seafood, one of their signature dish, appeared ordinary but was my favourite dish. The la-mian had a freshly pulled texture, light and springy, and porous enough to absorb well the fantastic brown sauce, rendering the seafood component rather superfluous. I could have slurped up another three of four bowlfuls.
There were two desserts: one of boring Mango Sago with Fresh Pomelo, and another of Creamy and Flowy Custard Bun. The bun looks like normal fluffy dessert buns, pretty and cute, albeit with yellower complexion than its paler cousins.
The paper cases tear away with much difficulty, and we had to be careful to turn the bun upside down because its inside was a liquid version of the usual custard bun filling, the molten custard buttery sweet and tempered with just the right touch of salted egg yolks. Two bites and it was gone, a final indulgent taste to mark the end of a great meal.
1 Harbourfront Walk
02-156 Vivo City
Muthu's has opened an outpost in Suntec City. I don't like their fish head curries, in fact I am leery of most fish head curries, but look beyond the predictable heads and one will be surprised that their other dishes are highly edible and not in the least expensive. Butter chicken was nothing to write home about. I realised that one should go very simple here, such as pilao with their excellent dhal and house pickles- highly recommended, nothing satisfies hunger like rice and curry in its most basic form.
For a long time now I've shunned kangkong. A friend told us horror stories of how the hollow stalks are full of fat white worms. But my inner greed got the better of me and recently I've been succumbing to platefuls of it, silently quashing images of undesired protein augmentation. This particular rendition, by the stall in Holland Drive that dishes out fishhead beehoon with extra generous portions of fish, was especially tasty- the leaves silky smooth with spicy belacan slick, the stalks reassuringly crunchy and sweet.
There's been a deluge of cha-charn-tng outlets in Singapore. A little late in coming is my opinion, because I remember my first experience in this phenomenom about three years ago, at the KL outlets of HK Kim Gary. Unfortunately most of these wannabes serves pretty dreadful food. Which was why I was quite beside myself when I happened upon the HK Kim Gary cafe in Vivo City two Saturdays ago. Their best dishes are the simple ones- granted, it is hard to go wrong with a bowl of lightly-fried rice topped with well-marinated pork chop. Their noodle dishes look fancy but are not worth the bother, and also their milk teas are a little weak.
But the most redeeming feature of HK Kim Gary, at least according to me, is their Thick Toast with Peanut Butter and Condensed Milk. Sounds a little trashy no? I think so too, but I am besotted with it. Their version beats all others in town. The bread rises to a vertiginious height of nearly 2 inches, and is evenly crusted a rich caramel brown all over. The innards, to borrow robobby's phrase, is substantially bready yet cloudlike and stretchy. The peanut butter and condensed milk, not of the best or organic quality available to be sure, but smooth and tasty enough for this purpose, go oh-so-well with the toasty bready bread. Every bite elicits mixed feelings of guilt and pleasure, how can something so wrong taste so good? There's no way husband and I can finish a piece by ourselves, but we always have a good time trying anyway.
Last Saturday, while husband was spending massive amounts of time browsing the wineshops, I sat next to a very well-equipped little girl age about 4. She carried a pink knapsack containing among other things, some Chinese homework which she seemed to enjoy doing in the middle of a Saturday noon in a gourmet food shop, a pink waterbottle in its own little long bag, and this, a little snack box. Filled with comparatively healthy snacks like dried fruit and gummy sweets. It striked me as an excellent idea, perhaps it is more widespread than I realised but if not, it is a good idea. For adults and children alike. A little snack to make the Chinese homework easier....
Rewind to a an hour and a half before Snack Girl, and I was at Kaisan. Nothing seems to have changed since I last visited a year ago. We had not been for a long time since Johnson left. Initially I wanted to go to Yumeya but nobody answered the phone and I remember Sam telling me she had a bad meal there so we decided to go back to Kaisan. The food is still very good, reassuringly the cooked food is prepared by Japanese chef Yamaguchi and everything he sent out was perfectly cooked with a deft touch. The sushi and sashimi were unimpeachable as well. Chef Roy who was manning the counter asked me to give my opinion on his new dish-Sauteed prawns with yuzu-miso mayonnaise. I didn't like the prawns much as it was overwhelmed by the black pepper, but I was smitten with the sauce, which was smooth and mellow with savoury umami notes from the miso yet spiked with plenty of yuzu zests to excite the jaded taste buds, overall it is very addictive in fact I had trouble restraining myself from licking the plate. It would bring out the best of some lightly grilled white fish or scallops, I ventured to say. I am not sure if he found my comments useful but I will definitely look out for this dish on my next visit.
The movers have come and gone, miraculously, they managed to squeeze the (almost) entire content of our apartment into a relatively small 20 ft container. Now we have no TV or DVD player, but I still have my notebook and so can finally resume blogging.
On subjects like the most amazing foie gras dinner that I was lucky enough to attend a few weekends ago. Hosted by the ever-hospitable L's, and executed by Casey, he who seemingly conjured a 12-course dinner out of his shopping bag last year, this meal would stay in our memories for a long time.
The menu read like this:
Foie gas crab cake with black pepper sauce and chive oil
XO foie gras wonton
Seafood foie gras pancake
Foie gras spring roll on soybean coulis
Pan-seared foie gras on celeriac mousse drizzled with truffle jus
and more. A series of small dishes incorporating the luxurious goose liver- not as easy to handle as duck liver as Casey was quick to point out- awed and impressed us all. Foie gras is very versatile, it enhances and is itself made more delicious when paired well with seafood and vegetables. One of my favourites was the traditional pan-seared version; it was cooked impeccably, the liver melting pleasurably into the accompanying sweet, autumnal, creamy celeriac mousse, with the truffle jus distillate of slow-cooked meat juices and summer truffles providing that final finishing flourish. Exquisite. But the dish that left us all wanting more was Casey's Ultimate Burger.
It was a burger that was simple in concept but daring in use of ingredients. An almost dainty brioche bun barely holding together slices of Wagyu tataki, Bachi Otoro Sashimi, pan-seared foie gras and blue cheese. The otoro was unexpected initially because I did not read the menu and thought I was mistakenly served a fish sandwich, but soon enough the wagyu, the foie and the cheese asserted themselves and the result was one happy meaty party. Excessive? Maybe, but seriously, I could have eaten another ten pieces.
There was also my favourite Sauterne to go with all that foie. Cheers!
This was an off-menu item. A friend of the hosts had made a handsome dish of drunken chicken. The chicken was firm and well infused with the shaoxing wine that was used to inebriate it, but it was the sauce that held us all in thrall. Deceptively non-alcoholic in taste, it was so indescribably delicious that most of us were soon lapping it up in big spoonfuls.
There were other dishes too, a magnificient roast pork and a big platter of fried rice cooked with the oil that was rendered from searing the foie gras. Instead of bacon or lard bits which would have catapulted the cholesterol levels to the sky, Casey substituted tiny dices of fried yam which worked equally well. Stomachs well filled with the collective 2kg of goose liver, we had no room for desserts and could just about waddle home after thanking Casey and our hosts profusely.
For more pictures, visit Ivan's flickr site.
Here's an excellent idea for Christmas gifts: Tea Bone Zen Mind is selling these items, and more, to raise funds for the reconstruction of the St Peter's School for Myanmar Migrant Children located in Mae Sot, Thailand which borders Myanmar. The school and its orphanage rescues very young children who may otherwise be sold into child slavery and prostitution.
The fruit cake and banana bread are homebaked, I brought them over to a gathering yesterday and my friends pronounced the fruit cake delicious. We didn't try the banana cake, it keeps for about 4 days and is good for breakfast. The little cups are cute and quirky and can be used for condiments and cosmetics if one is not inclined to drinking tea. The candles bear the delicious scent of cranberries. Not pictured are twin sets of pink vintage-look dessert plates. Prices range from $10-25 and are festively packaged.
Tea Bone Zen Mind
Raffles Hotel (Seah Street side)
Warning: this post is mostly unrelated to food.
His organisation will only pay for a 16.5 ft container. The mover said we have stuff that easily exceeds a full size 20 ft container. So it has been a week on non-stop weeding of old papers, ugly bric-a-bracs and mountains of books and magazines so that we can at least fit everything into a 20 footer. Some stuff are actually useful and we'll give them away but a lot of it is bits and pieces that stays forgotten in the cupboards.
I am so stressed that white hair has sprouted from my head and in the middle of the week I was sick with a heavy headache and congested sinuses. One night I couldn't sleep thinking about how we'll position the furniture into the new apartment, and I suddenly remembered we haven't bought adapters for the power sockets. And the Babas curry powder-which seems to be available only at the wet markets and we've had no time to go, making do with quick trips to the supermarkets in between other appointments.
So many little things to take care of: the dogs, the baby, utilities, getting husband's workclothes, medical and dental checks, quitting the job, new spectacles. And then there's the journey and the adjustment once we move over.
But cannot moan forever, it is Paris right? Yes, repeat to self over and over, Paris, Paris, Paris.