Hokkaido Curry Bun. Oishi!

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The Hokkaido Curry Bun. Crispy on the outside, sweet and spicy on the inside.

I chanced upon the Hokkaido fair located at Isetan Supermarket(the basement of Shaw House) in Orchard and it was one very, very crowded event. Singaporeans must be mad for Japanese stuff. The supermarket was holding a food fair hailed from the famous place of Hokkaido in Japan and Hokkaido goodies were up for sale.

There were so many Japanese dishes being freshly made that the whole place smelled deliciously Japanese, though I must add that the price for the goodies were rather above average. Definitely for the well heeled customer. Still, some things were affordable and what caught my attention was the Hokkaido Curry Bun. It looked remarkably tasty from the view I was seeing it from. Furthermore, it cost an affordable $2.80.

While the price is a bit on the steep side for a bun. This is my first time and I couldn't resist. I wasn't disappointed.

The bun was crispy on the outside and flaked with bits of sugar and other crispy stuff. ( cereal I presume) The filling was generous with Japanese curry which was a beautiful mix of sweet and spice. Now Japanese curry is different from the normal curry you get at the Prata store as theirs are generally sweeter and less spicier.

The curry and the crispy skin of the bun went well hand in hand together. I must give my rave reviews about it! Still, it would have been good if the bun was served hot or at least warm.

Nonetheless, for you my little Hokkaido Curry Bun, you get a well deserved 4.5/5

Rating for Hokkaido Curry Bun : 4.5/5

Venue : Isetan Supermarket ( basement level of Shaw House ) Orchard Road. Directly opposite Borders.

Note : The Hokkaido Fair is only for a limited period of time. So grab the chance to visit it while its still there =)

Food, Food and More Food! Yum =)

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Roast Duck Rice @ Sembawang Vista Block 313 Coffee Shop 

To find good quality Roast Duck Rice, sometimes you need not go to the restaurants like Crystal Jade. Sometimes they can be found in the nearby coffee shop down in the very heartlands themselves. There is one of mention in Sembawang and its the Roast Duck, Pork, Char Siew, Chicken (etc etc) stall in the Block 313 Coffee Shop near Sembawang Vista.

While the price is fairly reasonable ($3.00) for a roasted duck rice at first sight, the portion which they give is ahem...a bit small. Nonetheless, the meat itself is succulent and tender, while the skin is crispy to the bite. However, they were a bit skimpy on the sauce (I bet you have to ask for more) and the chili sauce is fantastically hot!

I honestly never did try the roast duck rice here as I have always eaten the chicken rice (whose portions are still relatively small). Still, their chicken rice (as in the rice) is fragrant and oily to the right extent. Perhaps if you are there to check it out, order both to fill you up =)

Roasted Duck Rice Rating : 3.5/5 (if only their portions were bigger)

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Cheese Pancake..mmm Crispy

To end off the meal, you might want to try the crispy pancakes freshly made. Available in a wide variety of flavours, there will definitely be one to please your tastebuds. Served piping hot with the filling nice and smooth (especially cheese), its a great way to say "mmmmm....I love it=)" Very affordable too for the basic peanut pancake is 80 cents and the cheese version is $1.10.

Cheese Pancake Rating : 4.5/5

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Teh Bing (peng, ping, beng, anything....)

I just had to put this random picture and post up. LOL. This was my first time trying out Teh Bing (Iced Milk Tea), and it was quite nice and flavoursome, though the cold tea left a tealike bitter aftertaste (duh..its tea). Very refreshing too!

Venue for the three dishes above : Coffeeshop at Block 313, Sembawang Vista

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Fresh USA Cherries and Vietnam Fried Lotus Seeds

Today I met my Aunty Eng and she passed me some goodies. To be more specific, they were small and round, some were yellow, some were purplish red. Guess?

Cherries and Fried Lotus Seeds! Honest, if you didn't get that question right, I wonder how you didn't know? LOL

Anyway, its my first time trying Fried Lotus Seeds from Vietnam. (Hmmm...this post seem to be full of First Times. Must be an adventure.) My aunt's friend just came back from Vietnam and my aunt passed some of the local goodies which she requested from her friend to purchase for me to try. Really, the seeds were extremely delicious. (I couldn't stop eating them on the way home. I had to tell myself, "Justin, save some for the photos later...")

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Golden Yellow Fried Lotus Seeds from Vietnam! MUST MUST MUST TRY!!

The fried seeds tasted sweet, and there was the familiar jackfruit taste and smell to it. It almost tasted like the boiled seed of the jackfruit which itself has a nice and nutty flavour. The lotus seeds were crunchy and like any nut - dry.

I never realised that lotus seeds could actually be fried and then eaten like so, I always thought they were meant for soups. Now that's an eye opener. (something like a can opener, just that this is meant for eyes..)

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USA Cherries - Sour Sweet and Juicy!     

"Squirt. Squirt Squirt" - A wide grin, only to reveal red stained teeth. (I'm exaggerating. Hehe.) But that expression sums up to pure juiciness of these cherries. My aunt bought them fresh by the kilogram, and its really rare to come across cherries this BIG AND HUMOUNGOUS AND FRESH AND JUICY AND SOUR SWEET in Singapore. Ahhh, what I would do for a temperate climate.

Anyway, if you ever go the USA, you have to try their cherries. Oh yeah, perhaps you can buy some back for me =) Hehe.

Justin, Over and Out!

Ye Old Country Beef Stew

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Ye Old Country Beef Stew served in Royal Albert's Old Country Rose Platter

In my culinary books, Ye Old Country Beef Stew is my favourite. The recipe was once called Island Beef Stew, but I improved on it by adding certain more spices and herbs, and cheese and butter for that added fragrance and taste. Yum!

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Whipping up beef stew is actually very simple. And the best thing about stews is that different tastes from the ingredients fuse together to form a fantastic dish that warms the soul. Hmmm I wonder if stew would be considered soul food? I know Hot Chocolate is one.

When choosing beef for stews, its best if you get those sold specifically for stews. Or else you could always get the Shin area and if there are pieces with a little fat on it, it will be perfect. The fat will literally melt in your mouth when stewed. Mmmmmm=)

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Look at that beef! =)=)=)

A simple beef stew recipe is all you need to entertain and delight your guests and family. One lovable dish with lots of love in it, that is the most important ingredient of all.

Ye Old Country Beef Stew

  • 800grams of beef stew cubes or the shin area, sliced to bite size pieces
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 4 pieces shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 300g can tomato puree
  • 1 300g can of button mushrooms, drained of liquid or 10 pieces large white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 Granola Potatoes, cubed or quatered
  • 4 pieces of Star Anise
  • 2 Cinnamon Quills
  • 2 teaspoon whole white pepper or 4 dashes of ground white pepper
  • 5 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 Medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 pieces dried bay leaves or 3 pieces fresh bay leaves
  • 2 slices processed cheese or 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • salt
  • cooking oil  
  • water
  • 2 tablespoons dark sweet sauce (kecap manis)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce

Ok the hard part of preparing the ingredients is over, the rest is very simple.

  1. Pour the tomato puree over the beef and leave aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large stew pot, heat about 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Stir fry the sliced onions until fragrant or slightly browned.
  3. Place in the beef and tomato puree into the pot and fry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the carrots, both types of mushrooms, cinnamon quills, pepper, tomatoes, bay leaves and star anise. Leave to simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add in 1 litre of water and cover the pot.
  6. Once half the water content has evaporated, add in the cheese and butter. Stir to melt the cheese and butter into the mix. Thereafter, add in the potatoes.
  7. Finally, add in the dark sweet sauce and light soy sauce. Leave to simmer for another 20 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  8. Serve hot with bread or rice!

Chef's note :

  • If you find the gravy too watery, try adding a little cornstarch water to thicken it up.
  • If you like more meat in the stew, I would recommend adding back bacon bone. About 400grams will do. This will add even more to the flavour of the stew and if you do add in the back bones, don't add any more salt and reduce the light soy sauce to 1 tablespoon.
  • The best thing about stews is you can always add more ingredient or substitute other ingredients to create your own special recipe. Try to experiment a bit and good luck =)

=====The Content Below Is Yet To Be Rated. Viewer Discretionary is Advised====

Act 1 Scene 1

A moldy stage centers the scene with the director's chair empty and J2K3 standing on the stage. No one was present.

Sound effects : Howling wind created by a fan on full blast.

Props required : A bag of leaves ready for J2K3 to throw in the air and imagine is Autumn in a later scene. 

J2K3 : The time was about 12 noon. I woke up - devoid of food and the pangs of lunch growled menacingly at me. No exam papers, no need to go to school, nobody at home - all out, I was all alone....

Highly Professional Director and Producer [also J2K3 =) ] : CUT! You need to put more life in your acting. No no no no no, more passion, more action, more richness... 

J2K3 : I can't do it! Aaargh. I really have not eaten lunch yet! I am going to cook something..." *grumble grumble*

Storms off to some kitchen in another movie set

Director : Wait! I'm hungry too.

To be continued...

===========================================

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Steamed Chicken Tenders

J2K3 ruffles through, I mean searches the refrigerator only to find 1 chopped chicken, 5 shitake mushrooms, 1 piece of ginger with a label "25g" on it, 1 bottle of sesame oil, and salt encrusted dangerously on a platter.

J2K3 : What am I going to cook with this? Hmmmmm...

Rubs belly and head and suddenly a spark of inspiration fluttered into the kitchen. Note: The spark is made up from a bag containing fireflies. 

=========================Scene Ends=====================

My Steamed Chicken Tenders is what you can consider a deviation from the popular mushroom steamed chicken usually served in Hong Kong Dim Sum outlets. Decidedly, I thought about what to add and in actual fact, there were not much ingredients to the dish. Well, that's what I thought about so the real recipe of those in Dim Sum stores might be different.

Anyway, anything that is steamed is a healthier alternative to cooking the standard way like deep frying or even frying (Of course there are other ways like broiling, boiling, grilling, tossed, etc. etc. etc.). So when chicken is steamed, what you get is  succulent and tender meat, unlike those at popular fast food chains which tend to be a bit dry and tough.

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If you like to whip this simple yet healthy dish up for lunch or dinner, it wont take you more than 45 minutes in total. =) Quick and easy!

Steamed Chicken Tender

  • 1 medium sized chicken, chopped
  • 5 Shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 25g ginger, finely sliced
  • 1 chilli padi, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  1. Mix all the ingredients together. Steam for 40 minutes.
  2. Serve hot with rice.

Somewhere in Singapore...

"Yo Man! Wanna eat sum Pretzels?" (Offers a bag, with signs of infinity [the pretzels] sticking out)

"Mai La! Jia Goreng Pisang....Ho Jia leh." (Gives two thumbs up and a shiny white smile)

*For the uninitiated in the Dialects, it means : Don't want! Eat Fried Banana Fritters...Nice to eat =)

Editor's Note : I apologize for the amount of Singlish even in the translation. It was done so in order to preserve the integrity of the sentence.

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The Pretzel. Don't they look like a familiar mathematical symbol? (Hint: its the sign of infinity)

The pretzel could be considered my all time favourite snack if not for the price. At $2.30 per piece from Auntie Anne's, its not a snack one can enjoy every day, especially for students like me - who live on a budget in today's standard of living. (Ok ok..better not go into Economics and all that stuff about inflation, demand and supply)

Anyway, the pretzel is basically one long strip of dough, nicely formed into the symbol of 8 and then baked to golden goodness. I generally prefer the plain ones from Auntie Anne's and not those with the toppings and garnishes as I enjoy tasting the pastry itself. Furthermore, those with little "gold toppings" (any garnishes are considered like gold toppings because of the increased price), it will set you back another 50 cents or so.

From a Russel Peter's Comedy Sketch :

"50 cents alot of money! You save 50 cents here, you save 50 cents there. Then you go to the dollar store. At the dollar store you buy something else!" 

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Well, since they state that its "SIMPLY NUTRITIOUS, SIMPLY DELICIOUS" one can hardly argue for the price. LOL. Nonetheless, to what I know, the only Pretzel store I ever come across is the one located in Takashimaya Shopping Center (Orchard). Interested in trying out an Ang Moh snack? Go find Auntie Anne's!

I love Auntie Anne's Pretzels...but that price...

Rating : 4/5

Location : Basement Level 2, Takashimaya Shopping Center, Orchard. Stall is located at the entrance of the food court near the fountain. 

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Goreng Pisang Ni Hao Ma?

Comparatively with this local Asian goody which costs about $2.00 for 4-5 pieces, this is relatively cheaper. The Goreng Pisang - Silky yellow fruit bathed in "white pearl milk" and later soaked in Rejuvenating Golden Oil. Ahhh the goodness. (hint hint...sense the sarcasm please)

Still, despite all its oily goodness, the Goreng Pisang (Fried Banana Fritters), remains an all time Singaporean favourite - and also my mum's. I seldom eat Goreng Pisang but when I come across those that look really good (especially the ones at certain Pasar Malams [Night Markets]), will I be tempted to devour them. Hehehe...

The ones pictured above were bought at Ananas Cafe at $2.00 for 4 pieces. Grab them while they are hot, though there are better ones around.

Rating : 2.5/5

Location : Ananas Cafe. Located at Sembawang MRT Station

Ding Ding! The WINNER of this round is Mr. Pretzel!

As a wise man once said (I don't know who..but I'm sure someone said it) : "Food is found everywhere. Even more so are the delicious food." - let's take it as if I coined this phrase up myself..hehe.

But it is a statement which I feel the most for. Being the school holidays (ok it was over yesterday), chances are galore in encountering tantalizing food and dishes. Even more so in an Asian community that has been thoroughly westernised to some extent, it is the discovery of home made local fare.

I remember the friendship I always had with the Petai (stink bean). It is an acquired taste I must agree. The smell (oh the glorious smell) of human exhaust galore. (You must think by now that I am a sadist). Nonetheless, I stand by this acquired taste of mine - I truly love Petai.

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The Stink Bean (Petai) in their pods.

Its very rare to come about Petai in their pods in Singapore. I only found them in the supermarkets sold in well packaged packets and sometimes there were even little worms (oh so cute) squiggling about them. However, my trip to the market at Admiralty (Read Related Post : Fruity Frenzy) a couple of days back, and led by my dad's keen sense of smell and sight, we found the Petai in their pods. Fresh as ever!

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Note the shine! Too bad you can't smell them =)

Its one thing to discover Petai and another issue to purchase them packed at the supermarket. Apparently Petai fresh from the pod is silky smooth and very lustrous. Those prepackaged are wrinkled and sometimes spoilt (oh well, that is business for you).

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Steamed Prawns with Petai in Sambal Sotong.

Well, remember the post about Sambal Sotong at Ananas Cafe (Read Related Post : Swedish Meatballs...I am not!)? My mum decided that for lunch yesterday that we should steam the prawns, steam the sambal sotong that was bought and then scatter the Petai as garnish - to make a new dish on its own. Ooo...but what a lovely creation.

Petai goes very well with Malay food and the sambal sotong flavours the bean very well. Together with the prawns and the gravy acting as an excellent dip, you get a dish that I believe is not found anywhere.

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Home Made Stuffed You Tiao (Dough Sticks)

Here's another good one. Stuffed You Tiao has been popular in recent years. While the traditional plain You Tiao is dipped in coffee, this version is stuffed with meat and seafood filling and dipped in mayonnaise. My Uncle Ben created this fresh (he bought the You Tiao half cooked though) for my little cousin's birthday dinner.

Crunchy and Crispy (ooo Alliteration) and with a savoury filling, it was a delight at the table - finished in minutes!

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Vinegar Pig Trotters (Turkah)

Ok. I am not in confinement (cannot and never will be. I am a guy for gosh's sake) and neither is any of my close relatives, but Uncle Chuan Beng still created this and shared with the family. This is a dish usually consumed by ladies during their confinement period to expel wind (it works literally because of all that ginger in the dozens). Folks believe by expelling the wind, chances of aching bones in later years will lessen after pregnancy. (I hope I got my facts right).

Still, Vinegar Turkah is one of my all time favourites. With braised peanuts and pork fat galore, it is sinful in its own right. My paternal grandmother once made them, and I went crazy - drinking the vinegar sauce as though it were water.

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Braised Turkah - ultra sinful

Since we are on the subject of Pig's Trotters. Let me introduce to you a recent discovery at Admiralty Food Court. (The one on the second floor opposite the Admiralty MRT Station)

Hidden at the end of the aisle, at the far back of the establishment (its like the outskirts of the desert), there lie a herbal stall selling herbal dishes. (duh)

Dad bought this Braised Turkah for about $6.00 and it was served with Yam rice. Its so rare to get Braised Pig's Trotters in all its glory, where the cook masterfully sliced the side to expose the fat, the flesh and all the juicy goodness. (The picture speaks more than I do)

If you are a fan of Turkah, you will want to try this dish out! Available only on selected days. Best hawker food!

Rating : 4.5/5

Venue : Herbal Soup Stall. Admiralty Food Court (2nd floor). Opposite Admiralty MRT Station.

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Traditional Local Delight - Glutinous Rice with mushrooms and peanuts

I have always encountered this in one way or another at local snack shops, but my friend Anthony has the privileged of the best (to what I have eaten) made for him. I was at his house studying with another friend and his mum served us Glutinous Rice with mushrooms and freshly toasted peanuts for lunch. Mmmm... =) You should try this local delight at the nearby coffeeshop. Its one of those little dishes you can never get tired of.

My my, I have typed so much. Well let's stop here for now. Will be back soon!

Oh yeah, if you want to check out more posts, you can use the categories menu to the left, the main menu on the top or the search box at the top left. Till then =)

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Dim Sum Delicacies Galore @ The Bird's Nest Cafe & Bar

Mum recommended me this place after having her lunch there a couple of days back, and so I thought why don't we try it today since they are having their Brunch Buffet (1130 - 1700) on the Weekends and Public Holidays.

The walk to the cafe was not too far from Somerset MRT station (next to Centrepoint), and rather convenient (though it is hidden from street view).

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My first step into the cafe gave me a very cozy atmosphere. The manager, Sammy, attended to us with his warm and polite gestures. We were immediately served with a unique appetizer : Organic Bittergourds with honey dip.

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Organic Bittergourds (very thinly sliced...)

The bittergourds did not taste very bitter on its own and paired very well with the honey. Crisp and refreshing, it whetted my appetite for what was to come. 

Ambience : 4/5

Service : 4/5

Now to the real deal. Buffets always had the tendencies of keeping the quality below par as a way of keeping costs low. However, the food (especially the dim sums and desserts) served in this cafe, proved to be excellent. I was impressed with almost all the dim sums (the steamed ones were the best), with their silky smooth texture and crunchy savoury filling.

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Serving of Steamed Siew Mai, Ha Kao, and Steamed Jiu Cai Dumpling 

Top of my recommendation if you visit this place is to try out their Steamed Siew Mai (pork and shrimp dumpling). Nice and big, the filling was very well done with the prawn pieces so fresh, you could actually taste the ocean. The Siew Mai was garnished with a drop of prawn eggs and bird's nest. A nice compliment to the overall dish.

Steamed Siew Mai Rating : 4.5 /5

The Ha Kao (prawn dumpling) was nice and tender, and it proved an equally appetizing dumpling. Though my only gripe would be that it lacked a little more juice in it for that absolute punch. The Steamed Jiu Cai (Vegetables) Dumpling was quite good with a firm texture that did not have the vegetables falling out. Good quality, excellent dim sum as starters.

Ha Kao Rating : 4/5

Steamed Jiu Cai Dumpling Rating : 3.5 /5

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Oolala...Steamed Seafood Beancurd

Now this is a unique creation from the world of Dim Sum. Sliced Egg Tofu (beancurd) topped with seafood mix and steamed to perfection. The crunchy seafood and the soft tofu were miles apart in texture but brought very well together in this fine dish. The sweet and savoury sauce in which it was soaked in (ok not really soaked...but rather placed in) added that lovely hint of sweetness as you bit into the dim sum.

Steamed Seafood Beancurd Rating : 4.5/5

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Double Boiled Soup of the Day : Corn with Pork Ribs Soup

What is the first thing most Singaporeans will avoid when it comes to buffets? That is soups!

Soups make you full and you usually won't have enough space in your belly for that dish to maximise your money. But this is one special I won't want you missing. (For the hard core buffet goers..you can share 1 serving with everyone..that way it is still a win-win solution)

The clear soup of Corn with Pork Ribs was refreshing and tasty. It was very well prepared and each sip leaves you wanting for more. There is a generous serving of Pork Ribs (which were soft and tender), slices of corn, red dates, and the little herby crunchy flat thingy that are found in Cheng Tengs. It was herbal soup at its finest.

Double Boiled Soup of the Day Rating : 4.5/5

For the uninitiated, Cheng Tengs are a local herbal dessert and not a place, or a collective noun. When I say collective noun, it can mean a flock of birds (flock is a collective noun). So the crunchy flat thingy that are found in Cheng Tengs are not a collective noun...Get the joke?

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Penang Laksa

Penang Laksa is a rare commodity at a Dim Sum Buffet, but this is another dish that is not to be missed. The gravy was excellent with it being thick and sour (asam...mmmm=) The noodles were not overcooked and the garnish of mint leaves went very well with the sourness. Must try.

Penang Laksa Rating : 4/5

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Fried Sweet Potato Cake

Now this is one dim sum I don't usually see at High Tea. When I ordered this, I thought it would be sliced Sweet Potato and fried. Never did I expect Sweet Potato Cake to be this soft and jelly like. Very good actually, and with the spiciness (a tad spicy I must add) , it actually startled me when I had the first bite. Nonetheless, a unique and excellent dish, though I must say it is still a little too spicy for my liking.

Fried Sweet Potato Cake Rating : 4.5/5

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Nonya Style Spicy Noodles - Belachan Lovers, come and get it!

My first reaction with this serving was "ho hum...nothing too fantastic" Well that was my reaction until I found the sambal belachan (chilli prawn sauce) carefully hidden under all that topping. Once you mix the sambal belachan into the noodles and topping, you obtain an excellent gravy base and noodles that are very very very tasty. It's like your own chemistry experiment where you get a new product once you mix the reactants (which in this case are the sambal belachan and all the rest of the dish)

Nonya Style Spicy Noodles Rating : 4/5

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The Buffet Desserts (some of them). Milo Chocolate Mousse(left), Oreo Cheesecake (front), Mango Mousse (right) and another Cheesecake at the back which I cannot remember the name. Wow that's a long name.

These little 4 tartlets, mini pastries, mini cakes, whatever you call them are very good. Hand made and prepared by chef p√Ętissier Belinda, they were fine edible artworks ("Ahhh! Who will eat ART!" : screams the hard core art enthusiasts ). Each one of those delicacies were not too sweet, and they simply melted in the mouth. I think I ate more than 6 of them!

 The Mini Desserts (I conned this cumulative name as these were found in the buffet servings) Rating : 4.5/5

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The Final Send Off to an Excellent Meal : Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo and Bird's Nest

The name sounds ordinary (apart from the Bird's Nest) but the serving was extraordinary. It was Mango Sago, with 'frog eggs' ( that's what the dessert aunty at the Kopitiam calls them but its not frog eggs..duh) and a beautiful serving of Mango Ice Cream. The pomelo bits paired the sweetness of the mango very well with its delectable crunch, bitter sweet taste, and they were in generous portions. A fantastic way to end the meal! Oh, how could I forget the fresh mango in it as well. Mmmmm...I had 2 servings =)

Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo and Bird's Nest : 4.5/5

Conclusion

What I have shared with all of you are only some of the highlights which this cafe's Brunch Buffet has to offer. There were other delicacies which you should take up the challenge and explore as this is one buffet not to be missed. Priced reasonably at $18.80++(adult) and $11.80++(child), I believe this is one of the more value for money buffets around. They also have an A-la-Carte menu which I have yet to try (But my mum did, and she says its excellent), but for the Brunch Buffet at this restaurant, I give a rating of 4.5/5.

 

Overall Rating : 4.5/5

Eat All You Can - Weekend High Tea Brunch (Every Sat, Sun, and Public Holidays)

Price :

  • Adult - $18.80++
  • Child (below 10) - $11.80++

Address : 160 Orchard Road Orchard Point #01-13 (beside OCBC Bank) (Orchard point is next to Centrepoint)

Contact : 6836 6218

Stephanie Yap's article succinctly sums up the cultural value and heritage in which Singapore carries as an entire country.

She raises the interesting point that in the heart of Chinatown "stands Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, Sri Mariamman Temple", right next to it is Jamae Mosque and in Telok Ayer there is the "Al-Abrar Mosque and [the] Thian Hock Keng" Chinese Temple being close neighbours.

The view of any society's mixed heritage in a country would have been thought by the existence of distinct cultural villages. (With Chinatown being the most common) However, when it comes to the real culture (especially in Singapore), one need not go to a heritage sites in order to see how different ethnic groups in Singapore maintain their traditions.

In Singapore, we are a nation that is as diverse as any culture - even though there is the majority of the Chinese. While a country's culture would have been considered by the majority of the people living in it, I must beg to differ to that concept. How a nation's society lives and exist is hardly the same to what you obtain in another nation. The majority of Singapore may be Chinese, but we are infused with the values of each race, such that coexistence and friendship can take place.

Essentially, because of the different walks of life in which many Singaporeans come from, we have created our own distinct Singaporean culture.

Perhaps when I go to another country, I would take note of the uniqueness in which that country has to offer. And perhaps to my interest, how different races has adapted to the values and traditions of the entire society as a whole.

I remember reading an article from the newspaper about how cultural sites have slowly (or even expeditiously) become tourist traps. The notion that a country's ethnic society and community is unique and interesting is often dangled as a tempting carrot for many tourists to want and view "how" the people live. Nonetheless, sites in which tourist groups visit are often plagued by countless of souvenir shops for the tourists and hardly any real living being observed.

While we look back at our past, perhaps that was the era in which real and distinct culture actually existed in groups of people located in community.

Recall the past in which Singapore had even more cultural uniqueness - The laundrymen in Dhobi Ghaut, the trishaws bustling about the roads, the crowded Singapore river. If by any extent, that was culture in its very essence.

However, perhaps in our globalized world of today, we have reach a stage in which our cultures are slowly becoming less apparent as distinct ways of living. Even though we cannot expect much for culture to spring back to life in a community with the re-emergence or creation of a cultural village, perhaps what anyone could do if they want to experience the culture of a city is to interact with the citizens themselves.

It is the people that make up the life of the city, and it is the people who make up the identity of a nation. From my perspective, to know a ethnic culture, mingle in the heartlands and the real villages. To get a gift, go to the gift shop.

Twin Crescents - A fish tale

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My creation and adaptation of the Hainanese Steamed Pomfret - Twin Crescents

I have always been intrigued with the concept of steaming my food. If you realised, my previous dish "Golden Treasures" was also created by steaming. I have reckoned that by steaming the food, you retain the natural goodness of the ingredients itself and with garnish as light as possible, you are able to add a hint of delicate flavour.

Today's dinner saw me thinking up a new recipe of steamed pomfrets. Mum told me that my maternal grandfather (ah kong) had always cooked steamed pomfrets with lots of ginger, pickled mustard leaves and a sprinkle of wolfberries. I remember vaguely (when I was very small) that that dish was somewhat unique. Perhaps it was because my grandfather cooked it in some special way - I don't know. (Heard that he placed some sort of ceramic spoon under the fish...hmmm must try that one day. I wonder why?)

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 Twin Crescents Garnished with Pickled Daikon and Spring Onions

My version however is an adaptation of how my grandfather used to cook the pomfrets. I substituted the mustard leaves for sweet pickled Japanese radish (Daikon) and added more wolfberries. Oh yeah, I also added a piece of chilli.

What turned out after 35 minutes of steaming was a pair of delicate pomfrets with a sweet-spicy (due to the ginger) soup base. Each bite of pomfret flesh had a touch of ginger aroma. To any extent, it was a very light and satisfying dish.

I paired the pomfrets for dinner with some porridge. Nothing much and nothing out of the ordinary - just simple white porridge and a little garnish of chopped Pickled Daikon and spring onions.

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Look at 'zis' (heavy French accent) - its a zimple porridge.

Nothing beats having a simple porridge for dinner. Like the old cliched saying goes : A sumptuous breakfast, A filling lunch, A light dinner.

A good breakaway from any daily fare of rich food. I am so excited to share with you this recipe for your way to good health!

 Twin Crescents

  • 1 piece 30 gram old ginger, sliced.
  • 3 teaspoons of wolfberries
  • 1 chilli
  • 2 pomfrets, cleaned (small)
  • salt
  • 2 slices Pickled Daikon (Japanese Radish)

  1. Wash the pomfrets with salt on both the inside and outside. Meanwhile, prepare steamer and ensure water is boiling.
  2. Rub a pinch of salt in the stomach area of each pomfret. Sprinkle another pinch of salt over the fish.
  3. Place a teaspoon of wolfberries inside the stomach area of each pomfret, followed by a few slices of ginger.
  4. Scatter the remaining slices of ginger and wolfberries over the fish.
  5. Steam fish for 35 minutes over high heat.
  6. Garnish. Serve hot with rice or porridge. Enjoy!

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The Carambola Fruit - Commonly known as the Starfruit.

The starfruit is one of the most common fruits sold in Singapore. Grown ubiquitously throughout Asia, it is commonly enjoyed on its own, or with a little salt. And when its yellow, its very sweet and drippingly juicy.

In its green state, there is the refreshing sour taste which is very energetic. Relish the goodness.

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Golden Treasures

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Previously in my post on Bougainvilleas , I mentioned about showing all of you my latest creation. Its a recipe that revolves around steamed bananas, and when I was experimenting with it - I must say I was very impressed with the amount of sugar water that came out.

Golden Treasures is my latest creation of an all-natural health dessert. Absolute nothing else but fruits were used in the creation. Heres the recipe to amaze your friends :

Golden Treasures

  • 2 Pisang Mas (Small Bananas. Choose the ones that are smaller and sweet, there are the slightly larger versions but they wont be as sugary)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried wolfberries
  • 1 teaspoon of dried red dates
  • 1 teaspoon of raisins
  1. Heat up steamer - ensure that the water is boiling.
  2. Place bananas in a bowl and scatter the dried fruits and raisins on top.
  3. Steam for 20 minutes.
  4. Serve Hot

That's it. It's simple isn't it? =) Enjoy this steamed bananas recipe.

Fruity Frenzy

Tis the season for tropical fruits again. While there has always been the standard fare of mangoes, persimmons, apples, oranges, it was really startling to notice rambutans. (Seemed like the year has passed so fast)

Rambutans - the hairy fruit that is shocking red with white flesh and a great big seed in the center.

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Everyone...meet 'Hairy' the Rambutan

I bought this bunch of rambutans at the Admiralty wet market, but while they were nice and big and round, they were not very juicy. I must admit that while the flesh had the 'glow' (you can see it from the picture), I have eaten better.

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To best describe the rambutan, it tastes sweet - almost sugary, but I seem to have this habit of always encountering the husk of the seed together with the fruit in my mouth.

If it were a hot sunny afternoon, I could probably finish the whole bunch in one sitting.

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This is no soursop - its a Custard Apple

And what do you know? I Found Custard Apples at the market as well. Its like one of the rarest fruits of the season. Okay...not really rare but whenever I chance upon some custard apples they were always small and unripe. Well, my stars must be shining on me - there were ripe custard apples on sale - and they were huge too!

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 My name is Custard Apple a.k.a Bull's heart a.k.a Bullock's heart.....nothing more, what were you expecting?

Now, the custard apple looks almost exactly like a soursop. The same white flesh, the same black seeds - though as the name of a soursop states - its sour, while the custard apple is nothing but sweet. Its also known as the Sweetsop in some countries.

(Ha! and when I exclaimed that it was a soursop at the market [ it slipped my mind ], the lao ban niang screamed : "NOOOOO! Its custard apple. Soursop I don't sell. The other shop got sell". The similarity of the species justifies my error)

I think almost anyone will enjoy the custard apple; they taste just like custard apples (...-.-...). The moment you slice them open, you are embraced with the heavenly "pang" (smell..I mean aroma).

Love the fruit, love getting the seeds out one by one before eating, but my only gripe about this fruit is how the skin is oh so easily stuck together with the flesh if you really scrape the shell. Oh well, this is how nature made them.

Okay...as promised, up next is my new recipe for bananas =)

Rojak, Rojak!

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Chinese Rojak with Taupok, Cuttlefish and all the crunchy peanuts...

Rojak, Rojak! The unique and savoury blend of You Tiao (fried dough rolls), Pineapple, Mango, Cucumber, Beansprouts, Lotus Flower, Turnip, dried cuttlefish, taupok (dried beancurd stuffed with beansprouts and cucumber), fluffed in traditional prawn paste. Perhaps this is to be more commonly known as the Chinese Rojak and not the Indian Rojak (which is entirely different, though they are both rojaks).

To clarify things a little, "Rojak" is a Malay word for Mixed. More specifically in this case, it is mixed food or dishes put together and to produce another dish. The Chinese Rojak is the local variant of the Rojak family, with fans who love the almost strong smelling prawn paste.

I found an excellent stall selling Chinese Rojak at the Food Republic located at Wisma Atria in Orchard. The standard rojak ($4.00) plus additional dried cutttlefish($2.00), mango($1.00) and Taupok ($1.00) cost a grand total of $8.00. Not the usual price for a Rojak like those found in the heartlands, but at this price, it was enough for two people - which wasn't so bad.

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 The Chinese Rojak at Food Republic, Wisma Atria

Price aside, the mix of the various ingredients provided an excellent combination of taste. There was the crunchiness of the youtiao and the toasted Tau Pok, the tasty dried cuttlefish and prawn paste, the refreshing bite from the fruits . The serving is quite large and very filling.

Nonetheless, I found the sauce a little too spicy (my fault as I asked for chilli but how was I too know it will be that spicy), so it had me clamouring for a drink after the first few bites. So for the Rojak adventurers out there, be forewarned of the spiciness available at this stall.

Have the craving for Rojak? You might want to give the Rojak stall located at Food Republic, Wisma Atria a try =)

Rating : 4/5

Stall Name : Rojak

Venue : Food Republic Food Court, top level, Wisma Atria (located beside Orchard MRT Station)

Auntie! Kopi-C Siew Tai!

Haha, this thought came across my mind this morning as I was having breakfast at the local coffee shop. In this particular world of ours, I believe that there are few, if not Singapore is the only country who has unique beverages made from everyday drinks.

This is not to say that there are no foreign countrys with their local drinks, but from a Singaporean perspective, I simply find it unique that for 4 types of beverages, we have so many varieties in total! And what's best about ordering the local tea or coffee at the coffee shop is that the drink aunty or uncle will wail in their loud voices :

"KOPI-O, LIANG BEI!" - Two cups of coffee without sugar.

Sometimes, it will be in the dialect they are familiar in, and boy when each time the drink aunty or uncle wails, will memories of the past strike a chord in me. I believe that this unique aspect of Singaporean culture is not obvious to many but the sound of good old nostalgia is still struck. While each day, we embrace fusion delights such as the Singapore Sling, or even more commonly soft drinks and other beverages, have we momentarily forgotten the roots of our beginnings? Well, as the generation moves on, perhaps its just an unavoidable fact of transition from the phase of warm and tender drinks to that of the fizzy era.

Nonetheless, I won't say that this feature of Singapore will become lost, but rather more subdued in nature. Still, it will be an interesting quirk while lifting a smile on the faces who remember the past.

And what are the common  4 beverages found in almost any coffee shop? Try guessing without reading on...lol

They are...

-Kopi ( Coffee )

-Teh (Tea)

-Milo (Chocolate Drink by Nestle)

-Horlicks (Malt Drink)

Here is a list of the common top 4 beverages, with the varieties and what they actually mean.

Traditional Name What does it mean?
Kopi-O Plain Black Coffee no sugar
Teh-O Plain Tea no sugar
Milo-O Milo with no sugar
Horlick(s)-O Horlicks with no sugar
Teh Milk Tea
Milo Milo
Horlick(s) Horlick
Kopi-C Thick Black Coffee with sugar
Teh-C Thick Tea with sugar
Kopi-C Siew Tai Light Coffee with less sugar
Teh-C Siew Tai Light Tea with less sugar
Kopi-O peng Plain Black Coffee
Kopi peng Iced Coffee
Teh peng Iced Milk Tea
Teh- Ahlia Tea with ginger
Teh-Tarik Pulled Tea

and the list goes on....

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The Banana Muffin

Singapore is currently in a Muffin craze. With muffin shops popping up almost everywhere. Even the papers did a little article (ok large article) about muffins. Well to go with the flow, perhaps for those of you who are craving for a little nuts on your muffins, maybe you should try the ones at The Singapore Marriott Hotel Pastry Shop.

 

For today's afternoon tea at home, I had the Banana muffin (drizzled with Walnuts) and the Apple & Cinnamon muffin (plastered with Almond Slices).

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The Apple & Cinnamon Muffin

The nuts add a lovely crunch to the sponginess of the muffins. The muffins by themselves were found not to be too dry or too wet, it was perfectly moist. Usually, the muffins sold at the bakeries would be too dry for my liking and would leave my throat high and parch.

The Marriott's muffins were found to be better, though I must say that the taste could have been slightly sweeter.

Nonetheless, having Marriott's muffins for tea is an excellent afternoon snack...(If you don't mind the calories)

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Tea served in Royal Albert's 1920 | Spring Meadow Design

Certainly a refreshing Royal Tea(Lipton though...not Earl Gray) . Muffins?

Price $2.90 each

Rating : 4/5

Stall Name : Singapore Marriott Hotel, Pastry Shop

Venue : Above Tang's Marketplace (direct route from Orchard MRT Station), Hotel Lobby Lounge

Honey Chicken Leg - Anyone?

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Yummy Yummy Yummy! Imagine the full heartiness of the chicken in each bite. Glazed with the most shocking sweet of honey on the crisp and firm skin. It's a mouth-watering delight at first sight.

I stumbled on this stall (though I have always walked past many times) when the Honey Chicken Leg called out to me in their most lustrous glory.

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One of Singapore's Best Hawker Food - Honey Chicken Leg

The meat was oh so tender...and each mouthful, you could literally taste the sweetness and juiciness of the chicken. The honey was of the right consistency and it enhanced the flavour to an even greater height.

For all you chicken lovers out there, I think its about time you tried out the Honey Chicken Leg at BBQ Express located at Tang's Marketplace.

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BBQ Express also offers a wide range of other tantalizing dishes

I will keep this short and sweet as I believe trying it out for yourselves is the best review anyone can give. Honey Chicken Leg, you deserve a cool 4.5 out of 5.

Rating : 4.5/5

Dish Name : Honey Chicken Leg

Cost : $4.00 per pc

Stall Name : BBQ Express

Venue : Tang's Marketplace (Direct walk from Orchard MRT Station)