Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cha Soba at Shimbashi

I'll never refuse a good plate of Soba, not when it is amalgamated with matcha and painstakingly crafted by human hands.

The everything-from-scratch Shimbashi masters are dabbling with matcha powder this October (just for a fortnight) & i jumped at the idea. These guys are so particular about their Cha Soba, they serve them strictly cold either plain or with tempura. Limited quantities each day.

Don't expect your usual slick & varnished noodles here. Shimbashi's soba is real stuff made from freshly-milled soba flour, rigorously kneaded, rolled, then cut into individual strands. Lusterless unless dipped in Tsuyu but there's a whole load of amazing nutrients to reap from it... ever heard of Vitamin P?

I paired my greenies with a side Dashi Maki Tamago ($6) prepared 'soba restaurant style', essentially to mean seasoning the omelette with soba broth & kaeshi. Trust me this egg completely outshone its hideous appearance. The creased layers absorbed like taupok, locking in all the umami bonito liquids into an unbelievably flavorsome roll... almost ambrosial to me.

After a soba meal, pour some Soba-Yu into the remaining Tsuyu, mix well and drink up. Soba-eating is more than just enjoying health benefits... it is about recognizing the exhaustive steps behind each plate, & appreciating the goodness of soba's refined art.

Slurp up!

Shimbashi Soba
290 Orchard Road
#B1-41 The Paragon
6735 9882

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Raspberry Rosewater Roll

The next pink thing.

It thrills me to blog about another pinkie idea... Raspberry pink is perfect in giving desserts that rightful touch i lust after. When raspberry meets rose, the word is alluring.

What i tried this time sometime back was a Japanese souffle cake recipe which destines at a dulcet soft sponge with the shade of pale cream. A fraction like towel rolls; 5 times more refined than generic spongecakes. I'm glad my attempt pulled through.

Once the oven tinked i cautiously removed the cake to prevent overbrowning (color is crucial for this)... But not all blunders were evaded- i realized i had no buttercream on hand! So with limited time to marshal a rollup before my cake stiffens, i grabbed a pot of mascarpone cheese from the refrigerator and lashed up a simple spread. Whipped it icing light and trickled some sensual rosewater to scent...voila!

I'm sharing the recipe for the souffle sponge roll. Fillings are self-explorable from flavored buttercreams to creme Chantilly; or even a frantic whip-up like mine would work fine. Basic swissroll techniques still apply. (Pardon my lousy rolling skills cos i'm no swissroll expert)

Biscuit Roulé type Soufflé
makes 1 regular roll

190g egg yolks
50g caster sugar
vanilla essence

230g egg whites
100g sugar
100g cake flour
25g butter
55g fresh milk

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar and vanilla essence until thick & creamy.

In another bowl whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form, adding sugar in 3 additions. Fold a third of the whipped whites into the egg yolk mixture. Sift in the cake flour and incorporate well. Fold in all remaining whites and mix well with a spatula.

Place the butter and milk into a microwaveable bowl and microwave until both melts (approximately 70C). Gradually pour it into the egg mixture and fold into a smooth, glossy batter.

Tip the batter into a lined and greased rectangular pan, then even the surface with a scraper. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until cake has set & resistive to touch. Immediately remove from oven & lightly knock tray on a work surface to release any trapped air. Unmould the cake while it is warm but spread your desired fillings after slight cooling (but still pliable).

Raspberries, rose & mascarpone.. this ain't solely about the color anymore. It's feminine fragrance seduces. And beware, i may just pounce in with another heavily-pinked entry lol.

With love,
the girl loving her raspberries always.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dolce Vita

Sweeeeet Italian cuisine on my birthday.

I knew for myself how a dinner of bread & pasta would gratify so i fluttered down to Dolce Vita to effectuate it. Chef Marco Pedrelli totally charmed me over that evening with his upstanding Mediterranean fare & sincere affability to boot... Life is sweet indeed.

Dinner here can be a formal or relaxed affair, depending on your choice. Dining by the poolside bodes a calming retreat but i chose the warm interiors instead. Either way you're assured of laudable service from Mandarin Oriental's groomed waitstaffs.

The Olive bread had ciabatta's crust, but moister clingier insides. Escorted by a trio of sun-dried tomato paste, evoo+balsamic & flavored salt dips.

Amuse Bouche came in the form of cold cuts platter, sesame grissini & oil-marinated eggplant with capers. The cured meats sodium balanced in accordance to my liking. Twirl twirl twirl your Parma ham round the light grissini stick....

For mains, Linguine di Gamberi ($30) clinched an easy win. The prawns were sturdily enormous and strands spiced up in garlic-chilli olive oil glaze. I emphasize, glaze. Chef deployed a simple sticky viscous glaze to draw the dish's intensity. No sauce pools required.

My Spaghetti Marinara ($28) grasped similar execution. Seafood shelled primp & proper, glaze still as marvelous. A light coat was all it took for the strands to bloom in flavor... Every forkful released powers of evoo, garlic & savory tomato bodies yum.

Chef Marco insists all pastas to be handmade daily using a pasta machine hailed from Italy. His pasta is out-of-the-ordinary. Spaghetti comes Size L in full expansion, bearing firmer-than-usual bites... i totally took to this unique rustic rendition.

Stunning Olive Oil Macarons pre-dessert. Tender shells. Full-bodied EVOO fillings. These may change your perceptions of sweeetaphobic macarons.

Tiramisu ($14) was a literally neat slice (probably the neatest i've came across) binding firm mascarpone between thin sponge layers... there's even tiramisu icecream & almond biscotti to counter potential bitterness.

FRANGOLA- 14 year old balsamic-marinated sweet strawberries, vanilla cream, strawberry sorbet * Imagines strawberry chunks doused in black killer vinegar. oooh i got excited...

Until Frangola ($14) arrived on plateau and proved my apprehensions wrong. It was a good tart with almost-too-little yummy vanilla bean custard & toppings of strawberry slices interweaving white chocolate sheets. On the side a gummy Strawberry sorbet that pleased.

They ought to amend descriptions to "strawberry & white chocolate TART, vanilla custard, strawberry sorbet".

Then the restaurant successfully ambushed me with a slice of cake+song from the entire service team whoa before Chef's appearance with a red rose...... Really really sweeeeet of all of them!

*wish made, fingers kept crossed.

Chef & me (& rose) under unflattering incandescent lighting

This meal definitely climaxed my Nineteenth.
What can beat a birthday dinner with your favourite cuisine, a winsome chef & the person you love most in this world? Nothing comes close.

elaine had a happy, happy birthday...

Dolce Vita
5 Raffles Avenue
5F Mandarin Oriental Singapore
6885 3551

Friday, October 23, 2009

Umami: Nouvelle Japanese Cuisine

You put something in your mouth & it disintegrates into mystical air. The flavor is extremely palatable, magical & out of your senses. Nothing like bitter, sweet, salty or sour. Definitely more obscure than that. It hovers around pungent, savoury, meaty.... But when you rummage your wordbank for a word, you realize it is empty.

That elusive "fifth taste" undefined.


Word aside, on birthday eve a friend took me to Liang Court for nouvelle Japanese cuisine opened by the Social House.

Stepping into Umami was like entering a posh bar lounge by mistake. It takes time before anyone can register the lavishly dressed environment with Japanese food. Intimidating at first, but you'll soon warm up in their swanky plush booths & affordable lunch sets ranging from $12 to $25++.

ika, maguro & salmon sashimi

Both of us picked the Assorted Sashimi Umami Style to start off our $25 Premium sets. Out of three seasonal varieties i particularly fancied the tender Maguro for its well-defined grains & fluently gliding layers.

Tamagoyaki, truffle oil & black truffle pieces ($8)

We couldn't resist ordering the Rolled Omelette with Truffle Oil from dinner menu cos &, so how can the two not unite haha.

The idea was brilliant. I mean, if drizzling truffle oil on scrambled egg can be so agreeable, why not on tamagoyaki? Although Umami's loosely conforming layers were not traits of my ideal TMGY (i loooove sweet fluffy spongy ones), the earthy essences of truffle made it extremely bewitching. It lingered on for a few good hours...

I had Grilled Sanma for main. Check out the lovely presentation... beautiful streaks of fish protruding from an encircled deepfried body. The flesh mushy and oh so fatty~
Comes with rice & a teacup of miso soup.

If you're pining to be filled, go for the Umami Chicken Ramen & Negi Don set. Noodles+rice is the solution for any hungry man. Anyhow this ain't any plain & boring carbs- the ramen broth was milky (porkbone-effect) and rice nicely flavored.

I liked their homemade custard pudding! A dainty pot of caramelly-glazed cream as dreamy light & smooth as you would desire it to be.

Then came thunder-vs-cloud comparison when my impression of Cheese Mousse turned out unexpected yucky. Or maybe Mousse was a misleading word to use... Pudding sounds a whole world closer.

Ta-dah! Here's the elaborate dessert platter Chef Mizushima prepared for my birthday, with 2 extra scoops of icecream & 2 lovely ladies surrounding me with a zealous birthday song... really nice of them! Rum Raisin & Mango icecream icy mediocre if you ask me, but THANK YOU chef for the surprise!

Their personable service made my exit a smiling one (=

Umami Dining Lounge
177 River Valley Road
#01-26 Liang Court Shopping Centre
6333 1166

Officially 19

Fifteen October 2009, Eighteen no more.

Strawberry Sensation Cake

Umpteen The Patissier cakes for occasions already (& counting) but i'm not complaining. This one's a visual sensation with its most unorthodox layout... myriad of Earl-grey infused strawberry mousse crammed between chiffon sponge layers and a supporting royaltine chocolate base. One slice's not quite enough.

The Patissier
4 Mohammed Sultan Road #01-01
6737 3369

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Craving all things Japanese

I'm suddenly hankering for Japanese cuisine so badly. Not just any japanese food... but those of accredited restaurants & finesse masters toiling behind counter bars, slicing fish after fish, moulding sushi after sushi.

Dreaming fresh luscious sashimi from sake to kajiki to ikura, heavy-top light-bottomed real sushis, succulent aburi hotate, sweet spongy tamagoyaki, silken chawanmushi, tender glazed gindara misoyaki, robust red miso soup clouded with salmon belly, tofu & smooth wakame (or tonjiru great too!), tasty hijiki appetizers, springy chasoba slicked in umami broths, and a scoop of zesty yuzu sherbet to round off... ooh heavens!

All things delicate & delish encompassed in this splendid cuisine, screamingly satisfying. I so wanna do a good omakase soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lunching Wild (Rocket)

Things i like about chef Willin Low:

Abdicating his corporate status to pursue his heart instincts.
His unabating passion for cooking.
His courage to twine local nosh & western posh.
The unpredictability of his dishes.
Relish. Wild Oats. Wild Rocket.

I never had a boredom issue with Wild Rocket's menu. The 3-course Ala carte Lunch ($35++) is my running choice here. The cast changes periodically & newbies-on-probation often sound mismatchingly gripping. They make you go ?!! alot.

Check out: Bah kut teh wanton, foie gras ngoh hiang, salted duck egg pasta, bee tai bak, blue swimmer crab congee soup, hainan tomato relish, gong tng, sticky rice.... Slowly getting disturbing.

The foccacia bread seemed to have waned in standard. I remember it being dense & moist with savory cheese speckles dabbing its caps the last time, but now the virtues have vanished.

Five-spice Foie Gras ngoh hiang meat roll ($13.80)

How's a Foie Gras Ngoh Hiang for starter? Think French wave thwacked Peranakan Loh Bak. He swathes foie gras & five spice-marinated prawns in beancurd skin, then teamed caramelized onions & fresh granny smith sticks to cut some unctuousness. Culturally bizarre but interesting.

Pan-seared Tuna Rocket Salad ($12.50)

I thought they could have laid more semi-seared tuna, or maybe used a less canton-evoking ginger dressing to silence my grouses. Relish's got a similar version with 5 tuna slices.

Harji Pasta with Prawns ($5 supplement applies)

Fans of "har ji meen" would beam upon their special-of-the-day. The Hong Kong delicacy is done a notch classier by replacing egg noodles with fine angel hair slicked in minimal olive oil. The shrimps were crystal (my own term for crunchy, semi-pellucid prawns) but dried shrimp roe too little to shine.

Roast Chilean Seabass on light congee ($32)

On extremely rare occasions, i see grease in a different light.

Their Roast Chilean Seabass happens to fall in that pinhole. Fish oils + the oleaginous attributes of chai poh confit composed a flavor so scrumptious, that diluting it with uninspiring ketupat-like congee makes no prudent sense.

Personal note: Still loving Ember's CSB most! (:

Kueh Baulu Tiramisu ($9.80)

Kueh Baulu's versatility worked. The reappraised dessert tallies alcohol-moistened spongecakes, espresso icecream & mascarpone cream that's not unduly firm. 5 points for taste, 2 points for his witty substitute.

Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake ($10)

Deconstructed food can be tricky. Consume each component individually & you're bound to condemn: Lemon mascarpone too thick, macerated strawberries syrupy sweet, maple icecream stings of saccharine (but i like it!), biscuit blocks boring.. A mouthful of any could tip the threshold.

My strategy: Take concerted spoonfuls of everything. Allow all the players to glister & flaws would conceal.

Willin conveys close-to-our-heart ingredients in contemporary makeovers, without elaborate sauces or presentations. His innovation is apparent but steep. And i'm not sure how long this risky fashion will continue to lick the boots of the crowd. One or two attempts are likely, but we cannot dismiss the tendency of Singaporeans reverting to no-frills hawker fare for best local comfort.

Even for me, i'll be more enthusiastic spending 40 bucks on a focused, less alloyed cuisine. Sad to say.

'The discovery of a new dish does more for the good of mankind
than the discovery of a new star.' How true.

Wild Rocket
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Hangout Hotel @ Mount Emily
6339 9448

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I wanna cook

A sudden hoard of emotions gushed through me as i walked down the supermarket aisle today. I had the urge to grab a basket and pick up ingredients to cook.

The urge to whip up some creamy scrambled eggs perfumed with truffle oil then pile them over toasts; the urge to stack silvers of smoked salmon on english muffins, poach eggs & whisk up smooth runny hollandaise sauce.... But NO, i CAN'T.

I miss preparing sunday breakfasts.

I miss my time in the kitchen. I miss hearing the sizzles in the pan. I miss watching my bakes in the oven. I miss the aroma of freshly made food.

Once the exams are over, i swear to camp in the kitchen. Immerse myself in food, cooking & baking. I'll entertain. Host teatime parties. Plan 5-course dinners. Do the things which genuinely pleases myself...

I'm sorry for the haphazard entry.
I really needed to release.

Countdown: 43 more days to kitchen freedom.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Les Artistes Bistrot

French cuisine is scaling my charts. Even without Italian's itch-hooking charms, I take jollies in dismantling those precise elements and witnessing how they click into masterpieces. The French have perfectionism in their blood, hard not to idolize.

One of dad's latest gesture was to date me for lunch at arty modern Les Artistes Bistrot, which sat mere metres away from its parent Nicholas Le Restaurant. A 3-course set lunch at $34++ offered upstanding seafood & meat options accounting for value.

Was this an amuse bouche? Well if it was.... then i certainly would have expected more complexity. Little Sesame & Parmesan puffs are too cute and tacky for credit.

Their bread belonged to the rustic bracket; slightly caramel-hued slices hinting of rye and sourdough origins.

Menu read Lobster Bisque & blue prawn ravioli. One ungarnished, bubble-crowned mug first arrived... conquered by dad before i could even say l-o-b-s-t-e-r-b-i-s-q-u-e.

"So how was the ravioli?"


"the blue prawn raviolis... nice?"

"huh? there's nothing inside."

Great. Dad swallowed an entire bowl of Lobster Bisque without raviolis, and had to start all over again when a replacement arrived lol. Thankfully (or not) their soup was considerably watered down, more like lobster broth than a cream-stiffened bisque. No crustacean chunks unearthed from it either.

Lesson learnt: Always check for raviolis your soup before you zoom.

My appetizer was a Marinated Tasmanian Ocean Trout "Gravelax', lemon, kaffir lime and coriander, crispy crouton. Frankly speaking none of those bling blings came through. The trout was civilly natured- smooth and sparing on sodium, with three dill cream lashes forming the solitary flavor.

The Cod Fish 'Cote D'Azur style' on the other hand, was discernibly tasty. A well-seasoned medallion seared on both sides to form darling golden surfaces, placed over milky saffron froth. It worked great with the fish.

Should any of your prime choices be unavailable, the kitchen would offer alternative suggestions. Dad took on the Seared Beef Tenderloin with simple jus & fresh rosemary to make up for his coveted Kurobuta Pork Cheeks.

Our sides came in mini cast-iron pots, logically useful for heat conservation. One was fine tagliolini tossed with bacon and seductive butter action. The other a baffling ratatouille doused in strong indian spices.... completely unanticipated of french execution.

If not for Apple Tarte's hideous mono-color palette, she's one glitter babe. They cropped the apple into half & no more than that to prevent withering, then paired it with cinnamon cream and a saccharine pool.

I'm usually in favor of ending the meal with citrus acidity so i picked the Lemon Sorbet, sesame langue de chats. Man they went a little sugar overboard. The 2 lemony balls needed better sugar:acid balance.

I had two virtuous dishes of oily fish yay. Lunch on the whole wasn't disgruntling but didn't rock any mania. Do hope the kitchen is more mindful after that accidental ravioli carelessness...

Les Artistes Bistrot
13 Keong Saik Road
6224 1505


Blog Widget by LinkWithin