Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tigerific 6: Tang Yuan

One of those family bonding activities I wish I grew up with but really glad to start it this year! Made tang yuans with the sis and Mom out of a whim or simply because the flour was expiring.

Unglamourous looking rolled balls.

Never will I look upon another tang yuan as ordinary. The hardwork that goes into moulding one with the right amount of filling and QQ texture is by means no easy feat.



Tang Yuan with red dates sweet soup.
Gula Melaka. Peanut.

Shall be making this a yearly affair!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tiger-rific 5: Lobster Rolls



The same way Pork, Chicken and Fish have found their way into this favourite snack of mine...
Say hello to Lobster, the latest addition in this game of Sea.


Move over Prawn Rolls, Lobster Rolls reign supreme this Tiger Year.

Crispier, crunchier and definitely, tastier...

I'll be back next year for more!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tiger-rific 4: Mandarin Oranges



China vs Korea, almost like a World Cup Match.
Only this time, with mandarin oranges instead of soccer balls.

Outwardly, the comparatively smoother skin is softer to touch than the familiar wrinkled.
A hint of its famous plastic surgery origins?

Korean Mandarin Oranges, sounds strange saying it out loud.



The battle of the orange wedge sizes. Surely, those from china are bigger.

Taste, like their famous champagne grapes being vastly different from the commoner grape groups...the Korean Mandarin Oranges have a tingly sensation as you savour the morsel-sized fruit. Almost as if they were nourished with alcohol. Loving it!

Verdict?
1-0.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tigerific 3: Circular Candy Tray

I'm probably the last few standing whose interpretation of 全盒 must include the chinese sugaries. Almost figuratively, it's a Circular Candy Tray, candy for sweet and circular for togetherness and continuity. Symbolism rings strong every chinese new year, and probably so for the other races. Circles, words of prosperity, red...are just a few of the many that finds its way into the annual celebration.

These are the few that make it to the family's
全盒 every year.



糖冬瓜, 糖椰絲, 糖蓮子, 糖蓮藕, 糖柑桔

This is absolutely acquired, in fact in the family it's just me who adores them to bits. Despite knowing the copious amounts of sugar used, still adoring them delightful asian treats. Sold by weight, nostalgia is what sells.



油角

Deepfried peanuty nibbles that I can't say no to.

More nibbling off people's
全盒 ahead!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Arinco King @ Ion Orchard




The shopaholic in me loves a cheap thrill as much as a good bargain. 50% storewide at Arinco caused much buzz in the foodie community, given that Arinco has always been placed high on the pedestal for the island's most expensive sponge roll.



A huge model!

5.5inches at best, I've seen the ladies behind the counter measure the prized cake down to the exact centimetre. Priced at 18 dollars and with its accolades given by the Japanese in Japan (think never ending queues), logically speaking, it had to be better than awesome-fantabulous-mindblowingly good!



Berry Sand Cake ($1.50)

For comparison and gluttony's sake, I had a go at Berry Sand Cake. A slice of their famous sponge cake with a dollop of cream and preserved berries. You get handed a fork and the dessert gingerly wrapped in paper.

Cake was soft like steamed cake, cream was bland...and berries were, not the most complementary accompaniment.

At this point, I thought it could be the wrong choice made.



Caramel Seasalt Roll ($9)

This was sold out days in a row and a pre-order for this was made.



Painted a lovely brown, caramel seasalt looked delicious. A bite was all it took to seal the verdict. Sheer disappointment. So this is what all the fuss is about. Yes, pillow soft steamed cake with flavoured cream. That's all.

Perhaps there should be many benefits of the doubt given, they could be clearing stock hence the drop in standard. Or, this really is not my kind of cake.

Promotion is already over but just to prove a point; taste is unfortunately very subjective.

Arinco
Ion Basement

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Private Affairs @ Joo Chiat

This food tasting session was made possible with the hospitality of Veronica of Sixth Sense Communication and the amazing team (particularly Chef Paul Ng, Ross, Melanie and Sharon) from Private Affairs.

Joo Chiat has always been close to the heart for various reasons...Fei Fei Wanton Noodles, Kim Choo Kueh Chang, Chilli Padi and Dunman Food Centre are a few of the familiar. Recently opened Private Affairs is a breath of fresh air amid the area long dominated by strong local flavours.

Chef Paul Ng helms the kitchen and has had an illustrious career in the kitchens of Les Amis, Saint Julien, Pierside Kitchen and Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai!

A foreward; Everything happens for a reason, the same way ingredients are placed...for a reason.




Shophouse turned sparkly gem.



Homemade Bread rolls fresh off the kitchen, these are baked upon request. Foccacia and Hazelnut and Walnut bread rolls paired with a platter of condiments.



Tangy sauce or crushed hazelnuts as dips.



The first surprise encounter comes in the form of olive oil-balsamic vinegar tubes for you to squirt onto the piping hot bread rolls. Private Affais' breadrolls are spongey-chewy, my only grouse...they are so petite, makes popping more than one, effortless.



The customised menu aimed to tease and excite.



Sparkling wine to set the mood right.



Vined Ripened Tomatoes
Horseradish Meringue, Green Pumpkin Seed Oil & Ginger Flower

I did a double take on horseradish; almost like fresh wasabi the grated horseradish meringue found a fan in me. Potent and nostril freezing, the acute icy taste of horseradish outshone the tomatoes. Firmer baby tomatoes would have been a better option than the slight mushy tomatoes used.



I liked the idea of having the horseradish placed on a upper plate, for you to blend in with the tomatoes and adjust the level of horseradish accordingly.



Duck Carpaccio
Granny Smith, Scallion Gel Duck Consomme Jelly

Beef Carpaccio is familar ground, duck? That, was a first. A well assembled dish, the gel baubles and green apple squares on a layer of delicious marbled red sliced so fine..the fork naturally started folding in the layers. I willfully ate the ingredients separately, stark contrast was all I got.




Cured meats usually come across as over salted, not Private Affairs. Theirs is cured for three days before being air-dried. The balance of flavours is exquisite with the sweet and salty, delightful forkfuls of pleasure it was.



White Lobster Bisque
Salmon & Lobster Cannelloni, Capsicum, Lemongrass Crumbs

White comes from the cream used. First up, a deconstructed lobster bisque is served. A tantalising trail of saffron orange followed the main attraction; the cannelloni so painstakingly put together. Squid ink, spinach and egg pasta rolled like a cigar and stuffed with salmon and lobster.




Lobster bisque is then poured over the beautiful display. Once again, impressed. The flavours well executed. When eaten separately, they stand strong; the bisque salty and the cannelloni full bodied yet when eaten together, the melody of flavours makes me a soup convert all over again.



I'm never a soup person when it comes to starters but for Private Affairs, I'll gladly make that exception.



Hokkaido Scallops
Corn Noodle, Bed of Corn, Smoked Miso Powder, Bonito Flakes

By now, the expectations have been set with the first few stellar dishes both in looks and taste. Similarly, the rich daffodil yellow used largely in this dish won votes for its stunning outlook. Twirls of sweet corn noodle made me grin deliriously. Who'd have thought the humble kernel could have such a gorgeous makeover. The bed of corn transformed into a pasta sheet lookalike, peppered with bonito flakes and smoked miso powder. The sweetness and saltiness once again so well balanced.

Then, it does not end.



Hokkaido scallops peeps from below the corn blanket. A great pity these were seared a tad too long, resulting in a bouncier than usual scallop.

If this dish were a fireworks display, dazzling and worthy of awe, my only grouse is, if only it had that scintillating ending.



Wagyu Beef Cheek
Duo of Potato, Chinese Kale Royale, Curry Leaf Couscous, Tomato Chutney, Port Wine Grapes Reduction

Defined must try, by the kitchen. I shall give the must try all the honours by segmenting the pretty-full dish;

Kale Royale had the consistency of cottage cheese with bits of kai lan encrusted and spinach to colour. I loved it though the vegetarian in me says, I'll like to see vegetables as I eat them.

Duo of Potato, the battle between potato mash and the crispy ring. A draw was reached as both pleased.





The 12 hour effort was reduced to nothingness in less than 10 minutes flat. Wagyu Beef Cheek spread with Curry Leaf Couscous and Tomato Chutney. Braised to such tenderness, teasing the meat apart is almost effortless. Personally not quite a fan of braised meat, I found it too soft. The Port Wine Grapes Reduction was slightly sticky and reminded me of char siew sauce, somehow.



Pre Dessert
Chef's Specialty Dessert of Mangosteen and Lime Granita



Mangosteen foam with icy lime granita, a refreshing watered down palette cleanser.



Pistachio Tuile, Cheese Sandwich
Passion Fruit Coulis, Strawberry, Basil Gel

Cheese Sandwich and shaped like one with wafer-like biscuits holding the cheesecake together. Not quite your usual dense, rich fluffy cheesecake, this is way lighter on the palette...lighter than souffle even.



Prod any further and passion fruit coulis spills out excitedly. Toss in sweet strawberries with a hint of basil, it's one light dessert to round the otherwise heavy meal up!



Chocolate mousse lipsticks and pistachio financiers. Yet another surprise sprung by the nifty fingers and creative minds. Who'd have thought of a better alternative to lipstick holders? Found the financiers hovering on the sweet edge.

The greatest privilege always, is being able to speak to the chef in a bid to get to know his thoughts and inspirations. Chef Paul Ng came across as earnest and jovial throughout, very graciously accepting photo requests from us, like ardent fans.

The immense amount of effort placed into every dish is bewildering. Positioning in particular, seemed like rocket science to me. The mere sprinkling of miso powder or dusting of lemon grass crumbs...the pieces all came together like art.

Amazing is an understatement of what Chef Ng and his team are capable of. Each dish attempts to wow, either visually, scent-sationally or tastefully. I wish all dishes were exceptional in taste, the most outstanding for me were the bread, Duck Carpaccio and White Lobster Bisque. Taste aside, the meal in entirety was a masquerade; visually surprising and there were occasions I expected a certain taste but ended up with a totally different experience.

Control, is what Private Kitchen offers each diner. The ability to shape the meal accordingly. You adjust the ingredients to your tastebud's fancy.

Here's a peek at what the rest had during dinner, a hint of the magic the kitchen can conjure up!



Beetroot and wild flowers




Foie Gras




Seared Scallop
Chardonnay packet, Celeriac spread, Apple chip, Green peas and Fennel foam



Glazed Lobster
Espelette jam, sauteed Blue Foot Mushroom with Lardoon and Purple Carrot paint, Alaskan crab & Cauliflower foam



Chef Ng passed the Blue Foot Mushroom and Purple carrot (airflown from France) around which elicited oohs and aahs.



Monkfish cheek
Fermented Garlic & Oyster glazed, Purple Carrot, White Asparagus

An intimate experience is what Private Affairs seeks to offer, highly customizable from the very start. Lunches, dinners, corporate events, weddings and parties are up for selection.



Sky garden dining for you?



A cosy Private Lounge II on the second floor, only accessible via a secret stairway unveils the other side of Joo Chiat I never saw.

Here's a roundup of the various affairs up for offering at Private Affairs;

Private Lunch; 3 course $38++, 4 course $46++
Chef's Signature; 7 course dinner; $138++
Private Affair Set; 4 course dinner; $98++
A Luscious Affair; 7 course dinner, $168++
Sunshine Brunch $68++

Hop over to read the other food bloggers' experience; Kaelyn, Elaine, Harris and Glenn.

http://privateaffairs.com.sg/

Private Affairs
45 Joo Chiat Place

Monday, February 22, 2010

88 Restaurant @ Harbourfront Tower 2



Under the same umbrella as Dragon Gate, 88 was quite a suitable choice for a CNY meal..whether for cny fare or the hope of rubbing off some of its luck. Fatt-fatt for auspicious reasons.



Old school way of laying the table.



Old school way of having a wedding cake mould on stage.



Braised peanuts are certainly a healthier option to oily peanuts during such festive times.



Prosperity Almond & Salmon Yusheng



Despite the colourful outlook, this was a disappointment with the shredded vegetables dry and limp, certainly lacking the refreshing juiciness. The only ingredients that were fresh were ironically added on; salmon slices and crackers.



Three Treasures Cold Dish Combination

Mock ham rolls made interesting eats with the tau ghee texture.

Roast Duck, nothing to fault on this well marinated roast meat.

Shellfish, shaped like mini octopus with stringy legs, tastes just like Topshell...only better!



Braised Angel Shark's Fin with Bamboo Pith and Crab Meat

I frowned at this. Gooey-starchy-bland shark's fin soup.



Stir Fried King Prawns & Broccoli with Sliced Conch Meat & Seasonal Vegetables

Conch, really is mock abalone. Broccoli may look the easiest thing to get right but nope, I've tasted enough overcooked ones. 88's kitchen served up a decent one!



Steamed Sea Perch Fillet in Traditional Style

A first for me, eating fish that was not served eye ball, tail and skin in tact. This threw me off guard, tasted really like cod...!




Pan Fried Pork Ribs in XO Sauce

A dish I was actually looking forward to but left me disappointed. More of a miso-base, it was a farcry from the usual 王 sauce.



Braised Ling Zhi Mushrooms & Conpoy with Seasonal Vegetables

Typically chinese though I didn't mind this too much!



Braised Ee-fu Noodles with Minced Meat & Golden Mushrooms


Ee-fu noodles significantly overcooked and a tad sweet.



Red Bean Paste with Dumpling Balls & Lotus Seeds

After all the fancy desserts, what really pleases me most is a simple chinese dessert. Traditionalism at work? Simplicity at best.

Overall a moderate experience at 88, do not expect top notch service though. Plates get replaced, glasses get refilled...lunch is over pretty much at the blink of an eye.

88 Restaurant
Harbourfront Tower 2