Thursday, April 24, 2008

Min Jiang @ Rochester Park

A totally satisfying lunch at Min Jiang, thanks to my colleagues who gave us a treat. As you can see from the menu, we pigged out and had the full works. This is good solid Chinese restaurant cooking, in a lovely colonial bungalow setting which gives the impression of "being away from it all". I like the ambience at Rochester Park but it's a bit removed and parking is a problem (too far away from the restaurants).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oh! Toro: Fish Mart Sakuraya

Strong cravings for good quality sashimi struck 4 weeks after we returned from Japan. We bought this at Fish Mart Sakuraya (the Parkway Parade branch, their main outlet is at The Village Centre near Buona Vista) and settled down at home to devour SGD40 worth of otoro, the fattiest part of the tuna belly for dinner. We even tried "aburi-ing" it with our blowtorch which was unfortunately not that successful as our blowtorch was faulty and did not produce a hot enough flame.
I think both of us have been spoilt by the divine food in Japan. Somehow this experience did not elucidate quite the same level of rapture in us, apart from "quite nice". The otoro was not as fresh as what we had tasted, plus the marbling of the fat was not as enough throughout the meat. Indeed we are really spoilt.
PS. I wanted to add that Fish Mart Sakuraya really offers value-for-money sashimi, tastier, fresher, and cheaper than Sakae Sushi. Just head straight for the cold counter where the cuts are displayed like a supermarket, and point to the ones that you like. The assistants will then slice it up nicely for you. Don't bother about the menu or ordering other stuff like chirashi sushi.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dad's Birthday Cake

It's my Dad's birthday next week, and we're celebrating it this weekend. I decided to make a healthy cake for him, since at his age he has to watch his diet and cut down on fatty and cholesterol inducing stuff.

Inspired by Obachan's beautiful cake, I made a three-layer konnyaku jelly "cake". The top layer has salted sakura flowers in hibiscus-flavoured konnyaku (I wanted to colour it pink but decided against using artificial colouring, so the Egyptian hibiscus tea came in handy both for its colouring as well as its exotic fragrance). The second layer contains lots of blueberries, again in hibiscus-flavoured konnyaku. The third layer has plump and super sweet giant strawberries in a clear konnyaku jelly. I hope my Dad and family like the "cake".

Original Sin

E sent me an extremely uncharacteristic SMS a few days ago. It read "The Tofu Burger Was Amazingly Good."
Now, E hates tofu. He also doesn't rave about good food the way that I do. And the very term "tofu burger" conjures up images of "....not very politically correct, so I'll leave this to your imagination..." rather than good food. What on earth could have set this off? I just had to find out.
Original Sin, a vegetarian restaurant situated in Chip Bee Gardens, was jam-packed with hordes of hungry diners (or lunchers?) when I dragged my gal pal there for our usual monthly lunch catch-up session yesterday. And good reason too. The aforementioned Tofu Burger, comprising a crumbed deep fried tofu-lentil mix was bursting with flavour and a melt-in-your mouth texture. It did not taste anything like tofu at all! My friend had the Mediterranean wrap - a tortilla wrap filled with chickpea and pumpkin spread, grilled eggplant, feta and salad - which was just as good, with lovely chargrilled eggplant.
Verdict? I now second E in saying that "The Tofu Burger was Amazingly Good." Go early or make reservations. There were no seats left at 1 pm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Have a Break, Have a ....

Part of my food loot from Japan. The "japanised" version of Kit Kat in green tea flavour! This looked so interesting as a limited edition version, but turned out to be too sweet for my liking. Should have expected it, since my preference is for dark chocolate especially Varlhona, the darker the better (hint, hint my friends).

Zambuca, Pan Pacific Hotel

Decent set lunch fare at a very affordable rate (one-for-one promotion on Amex credit cards). Zambuca, situated on the 3rd floor of Pan Pacific Hotel at Marina, is one of the restaurants under the Michelangelo's chain (the others are Michelangelo's, Sistina, and Original Sin). At lunch, you get four courses: soup, salad, main, dessert, plus coffee/tea.
However, my main course of "Grilled Ribeye with roasted potatoes, grilled vegetables, onion jam in black pepper jus" came well-done, when I had specified for it to be done medium-rare. My colleague Suchin's steak also came well done. Nevertheless, it was still tasty and relatively tender. Another minor grouse was that the service was coolly efficient and lacked warmth (unlike Restaurant Ember at 1929 where I ate last week), with the ambience of a functional hotel restaurant.
Nevertheless, I think it's still worth going back to Zambuca again another day sometime in the future to give it a second opinion.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Aloe Vera Jelly in Honey

If you have an aloe vera plant at home, this makes a refreshing dessert with many health benefits (a simple search on google will turn up many examples).
Cut one big flat leaf off the plant, taking care not to get scratched by the thorns. Remove the thorns and skin, until you see a transparent clear pulp inside. Dice the pulp. Wash thoroughly as the sticky yellowish gel-like substance next to the skin not only has a bitter taste, it is also a mild laxative. Aloe vera pulp is tasteless but has a nice crunchy texture. Add the diced aloe vera cubes into syrup, like honey.

Sakura Ebi Spaghetti

A quick, simple and delish recipe made using sakura ebi bought from Tsukiji market. These sakura ebi are so crunchy, full of sweet prawny flavour and pretty to look at, I almost wish that I could snack on them all day long.

- Boil some pasta (preferably capelllini / angel-hair pasta) until al-dente, remove from water and drain
- Prepare prawn oil by frying prawn heads and shells in some vegetable oil (about 4 tablespoons, shells and heads of 6 prawns). Saute some prawns and dried chilli flakes (pepperoncino) in the prawn oil.
- Mix prawns, prawn oil well through the drained pasta. Season with some salt to taste.
- Heat up a dry, clean pan till very hot, and toss in some sakura ebi. Heat till fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Serve the pasta with the sakura ebi on top, and garnish with chiffonaded parsley.

Chubby Hubby's recipe for mentaiko pasta with sakura ebi also looks simply amazing and as a bonus, easy to boot, check it out at this link. Incidentally, I've eaten 4 out of the 5 things that Chubby Hubby lists as the five to eat before you die.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jaan, finally

Finally, I got the chance to eat at Jaan. The day that we were due to fly off to Kyoto, E and I went there for lunch. The view is amazing, and the whole decor and feel of the restaurant oddly reminiscent of Le Normandie in Bangkok (minus the dessert trolley). We had the winter set lunch at $38 per pax:
(A) Spicy Caramelized Sashimi Salmon with Passionfruit of pearl tapioca and Green Apple Salad
(A) Tiger Prawn Capellini a la Provencal with Parma ham and Parmesan Cheese
(M) Pan-fried Red Snapper with braised Lemongrass parsnip in Vermouth sauce
(M) Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Mousselline potato, Watermelon, Pear and Apple Herbs Salad, Pomegranate Jus
(D) Fruit Salad of Redberries with Passionfruit Sorbet
(D) Yuzu Parfait with Gianduja Ganache, Lingonberry compote, Pomegranate Jus
I liked Jaan very much. The food is very good and the price a real attraction for the quality and wonderful view. However, I think the service can be improved, it was a bit rough around the edges which I thought rather strange for a fine-dining restaurant.