Saturday, January 24, 2009

Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar, Gallery Hotel

An unexpected gem of a find on a weekday afternoon. Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar is located at the second floor of Gallery Hotel (or rather outside the main lobby), in a cute little round cylinder column. Decorated in dark wood, with windows letting in ample light, the ambience was warm and cozy like a typical izakaya. This places specialises in yakitori - the yakitori was grilled to perfection - moist, tender, savoury and flavourful from the charcoal grill. Erm...hand on heart, I would even say that it has a slight edge over my old favourite, Nanbantei. At less than $20 for most of the set lunches, this is great quality for the pricing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baked "Risotto" With Sundried Tomatoes

Facing a weekend of excesses where food was concerned (Michel Roux lunch and two wedding dinners), I decided to rest our poor stomachs for Sunday lunch and cook something healthy and simple, which was why I cooked a vegetarian baked risotto, the recipe of which I had stumbled upon a few months ago here. Despite me making so many modifications - for instance, I used jasmine rice instead of arborio rice, and omitted the cooking sherry - this was still really, really good.

The rice was fragrant and fluffy, slightly sticky and moist, sprinkled through with bits of sundried tomatoes, fresh herbs and sauteed onions. Served with mushrooms grilled in extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkling of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and balsamic vinegar reduction. Yums! This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chinese New Year Baking

Yes - it's that time of the year again. 3 and a half hours of standing in the kitchen yielded these 80 pineapple tarts, which went to the office the next day and promptly disappeared. Heh. Each of these tarts comprise 60% butter by weight...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kuriya Dining

I had not been to Kuriya Dining (Great World City) in a few years and did not remember the food as being particularly outstanding, so this lunch was a pleasant surprise for me. My lunch set was very good -sashimi was fresh and sweet-tasting, real wasabi was provided, my chawanmushi came with yummy snow crab, and the set included my favourite cold udon - all for only $32. If there's any small gripe I have, it would be that the execution of the cooking was not quite as polished and refined as Tatsuya's / Inagiku.
While it's a good choice for lunch, don't come here for dinner. I hear that the prices have risen quite astronomically of late (I remember 3 years ago, they offered a kaiseki dinner for only $60, those days have now disappeared for good).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tenshin, Regent Hotel

A few weeks back, taking advantage of the year-end lull period and as we were taking a couple of afternoons off work, E and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice lunch at Tenshin. We had heard that this was the place for tempura in Singapore, and were keen to compare it with Ten-Ichi in Tokyo (which was really swoon-worthy). For a Monday afternoon and given that Singapore is supposed to be in a technical recession, the place was sure packed with Japanese businessmen and rich tai tai types.
We took the tempura set lunch at $30, which comprised 3 types of vegetables and 3 types of seafood, as well as accompanying salad, soup, rice, pickles and dessert. It was indeed very good tempura, light and crisp, but not quite up to the standard of Ten-Ichi where the batter "elevated the food to another level". Over here, the batter while tasty and light, didn't play up the natural flavours of the food as much. We found the serving size quite adequate, although on the foodie forums there seemed to be a grouse that there was too little food in the set lunch. All in all, a great nice lunch out on a slow weekday.

Home-made Ice Cream

I'm going through a bit of an ice-cream phase now. Not eating, but making them! And it is absolutely so easy-peasy, with Nigella Lawson's wonderful no-churn recipe you don't even need an ice-cream machine to turn out the good stuff in only 10 minutes (of course, then you have to freeze it for 4 hours). The science-y part works this way - cream, eggs, milk and sugar help to keep ice crystals apart as the mixture freezes, so you get a semi-solid consistency and not one huge ice block. Commercial ice-creams do so with the aid of emulsifiers. To make ice cream at home without having to churn it constantly in order to break up the ice crystals as they form, simply ramp up the proportion of cream. The addition of alcohol or honey also lowers the freezing point of the mixture, which makes the ice-cream softer, with a lovely spoonable consistency.
Here's a basic recipe for cranberry ice-cream which I adapted using Nigella Lawson's, you can also use the same formula to make other types like rum & raisin, coffee, dark chocolate cognac, honey, and the list goes on.
400 ml whipping cream (at least 35% fat) (if you're feeling adventurous, use pure cream which - has 45% fat)
200 ml cranberry juice (if you're using pomegranate or other forms of juice which are less tart, squeeze in 2 teaspoons of lime or lemon juice)
150 g icing sugar (fine caster sugar is also okay, though it takes a longer time to dissolve)
-Dissolve the sugar in the juice and stir well to form a syrup. It should taste very sweet.
-In a big bowl, mix the syrup and cream.
-Whisk the mixture till it forms soft peaks - it will generally increase in volume by about 50%. (Important - do not overwhisk or your mixture will separate and form curds, and you will have to throw the entire thing away. )
- Freeze ice-cream for at least 4 hours, separating into smaller portions for convenient eating if necessary.
(Do avoid thawing and refreezing your ice-cream once it has frozen, as the thawed mixture will refreeze into bigger ice crystals, which will make your ice-cream taste "icy".)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Unforgettable Food Experiences of 2008

Since making lists and looking back on the year past is the order of the day at every changeover of a year, here are my top food experiences of 2008 - these were all magical and unforgettable in their own way, mostly for the wondrous food, but also for the ambience and beautiful memories they evoked. In order, they are:

1. Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction and Sushi Breakfast, Tokyo, Japan:,
2. Kaiseki at Minoko, Kyoto, Japan
3. Iggy's, Singapore
4. Ten-Ichi, Tokyo, Japan
5 Taiyaki on the street, Tokyo, Japan
6. A-Zong Mee Sua, Taipei
7. Salted Caramel Eclair from Sadaharu Aoki, Tokyo, Japan
8. Mom Tri's Kitchen, Phuket, Thailand
9. Seremban Beef Noodles, Seremban, Malaysia
10. Jaan, Singapore