Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010: Loved & Missed

2010 was dedicated to my future career.
I spent the first 6 months working in a pastry kitchen, next 4 months preparing for school, last 2 months settling into school. It was one rollercoaster year for me but i hope where i am now is a joyful decision.

Being away for 2 months, i truly learnt
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It does. I missed all the food & people i love (or once loved).

The New York dining scene is no doubt many levels ahead & fed me with fabulous nosh but nothing beats memories of home. Here's my round-up of favorites from Singapore...

Favorite Restaurant:
OTTO Ristorante

Me, my Egg Tagliolini & Chef Pavanello in the background..

I need not dwell more because the word is awesome (see 2009 appraisals). Awesome breads, awesome pastas, awesome Chef, awesome service for 2 years in the running. They do a delicious Blue-swimmer Crab Scrambled Egg with white truffle shavings that i love. One of the best places to splurge for your annual white gold.

Favorite Starter:
Sage's Mushroom Cappuccino

One soup etched deep in my mind (and tastebuds) is Sage's Mushroom Cappuccino with truffled scrambled egg. I've had many excellent soups but nothing comes close to the nirvana this takes me to. Smooth, full-bodied fungi flavor with the perfect balance of creaminess. Flawless execution.

Favorite Main Course:
Ember's Chilean Sea Bass

Some things don't change with time. Take for instance, Ember's signature dishes and my unwavering faithfulness to one of them. Pan-roasted Chilean Seabass with mushroom bacon ragout & yuzu truffle sauce. Possible disappointment rate: 2% (..when the portion is too small)

Favourite Restaurant Dessert:
Gattopardo's Citrus Cream

I'd never imagine a modest-sounding Citrus Cream with vanilla crumble & chocolate sorbet would blow me away like this one. In every mouthful the zest-lifted cream blended spotlessly with the buttery crumble crisps and divine chocolate chills.

Top 5 Favorite Japanese:

#1 Shinji

Tiny sushi killers.

Sitting by Shinji's sushi counter dawns an invisible oppressive force upon me. Chef is king & the game is in his hands. I'll carefully observe his every move and obediently consume any creation he places on my sushi stand, as long as they come out from his adept palms.

The room temperature fish leans on the warm side after being pressed onto your sushi, and is remarkably good. They offer some rarer sightings like Kuruma-ebi, Kinmedai, Nihama and ends it off with a decent japanese dessert. Keep popping but watch your wallets. I'm a Shinji fan.

#2 Aoki

Mazechirashi Lunch. Arguably the best rendition on our island.

Not all Chirashis are created equal. A premium bowl of Chirashi does not necessarily depend on premium sashimi. It requires premium effort. Some restaurants dunk the most unworthy parts of fish into your bowl, and attempt sliding away with some processed wasabi & convenient slices of omelette, or none. When a few chefs walk the extra mile, the difference is obvious.

Aoki's medley of sashimi truly defines assortment and carries occasional surprises with it (smile for insanely fatty otoro sometimes!). What sets them notches above the rest is the ala-minute preparation: diced-to-order sashimi, optimally soaked in soy marinade and drained before being scattered over quality rice. Bits of marinated mushroom & kanpyo loiter among the rice while delicious castella tamago cubes blanket over. Finished with Ikura and blobs of Uni without fail. Lunch fit for a king.

Who ever overfills uni like that? (:

Here's my tiny secret: Occasionally i reward myself with a Sushi Omakase here. Chef Wai pretty much understands my idea of sushi heaven and i can safely entrust him to give me the freshest on hand. Sometimes he runs out of ideas and asks, "Would you like to pick the last 2?". My answer comes out like a mantra.... oooo-neee (uni) please.

I'll usually receive my fatty otoro without request, which i so adore for its immoderate ratio of fats. He once did a dual-version (raw & aburi-ed) and i clearly saw why toro should be eaten unaltered for maximum pleasure. They serve two species of Uni (my ultimate fave!)- hokkaido bafun & kyushu uni. My advice: go for Bafun.

They also serve a neat awabi nigiri, which unlike tough ones elsewhere, is slow-cooked 5x more tender then topped with a tasty liver sauce (he adds a squeeze of truffle oil for me too). Or imagine Shiro Ebi Gunkan crowned with a heap of creamy uni. Shiokness.

#3 Shiraishi

This place Dad & I crossed paths with magically kept us drawn in for more. Chef Shiraishi is a joy to watch. His slow & steady approach has taken him a long way through. You can literally feel the passion for sushi-making in him as you observe how he meticulously slices (almost) every sashimi and molds nigiris personally. The sushi may not be my #1 but this place certainly holds alot of Daddy-&-me memories.

My usual order is the Chouchin Bento: a heavenly combination of quality Chirashi with seasonal cooked items. My favorite gindara is permanently part of it.

One must-try here is the Usuyaki Tamago. Unlike Castella & Dashi Maki Tamago which propels toward dense and eggy, this traditional edomae-style egg is light-as-a-souffle cheesecake. The result of a tedious and time-consuming process of blending fishpaste with egg, then slow-cooking over a very low flame. Few chefs are making it now and I'm still on the hunt for more.

#4 Tatsuya

Finger-sized sushis topped with silky, flawlessly-clinging raw fish are a hit with regulars. Even the tamagoyaki alone satisfys me.

#5 Nogawa
Chef Kevin serves up a mean range of traditional sushi using seasonal fish. And beware, his sushis & affability can be addictive.

Top 3 Favorite Cake/Desserts:

#1 Sticky Date Toffee Pudding, Marmalade Pantry

Softness, sweet spikes, vanillary licks. Drown in saccharine rush.

#2 Warm Ginger Pudding, P.S. Cafe

Ginger+Dessert was never a well-loved combination until P.S. made them right. A dense, warm fibrous pudding floats on lovely Earl grey creme anglaise and a creamy vanilla bean icecream finish. Melt down and dig in.

#3 Strawberry Tofu Chiffon Cake, Patisserie Glace

Moistness is key.

Favorite Bread:

#1 Raisin Cream Cheese Buns, Barcook Bakery

My addiction. I can rise early, take a train down to Chinatown, queue up for ONE piping hot fluffy bun, savor it in 5 bites, rejoin the queue for another *repeats cycle*. That's the Barcook Power.

#2 Otto Ristorante's Breads

Odd but true, restaurant bread baskets mean a great deal to me. Otto is an exemplary example. In the past i was faithfully enthralled by their Onion Focaccia. Today, i drown in the charm of almost every variety they serve: still wonderful Onion Focaccia, nice crusty Olive Bread and cushiony Walnut Bread. 15 slices easily downed.

Favorite Ice Creams:

#1 Apple Pie Ice Cream, Tom's Palette

My self-control disappears when i meet good icecream. And Tom's Palette's petite sizes do me no deed. Chronos & Eunice constantly churns out outstanding tubs of icecream injected with familiar yet wacky flavors (think Salty Yuzu to Wasabi Lime to Salted Egg Yolk).. Apple Pie is my perpetual fave among all.

Their creations, attitude and passion deserve a salute.

#2 Blueberry Bonanza & Strawberry Supreme, Ice3 Cafe

What draws me to Ice3 at least once a week?

1) Freshly-made waffles. The best ever.
2) Comforting icecreams
3) Perfect supper chill-out ambience

Favorite Almost-Daily Reliance:
Yami Yogurt

Natural medium/large cup with diced papaya or pumpkin seeds. Anytime.

Favorite Dim Sum:
Royal China

High-class outlook with quality Dim Sum.
The amazingly soft fluffy dough of their Char Siew Bao is difficult to mimic. Blue is just the right color for them... the Tiffany of the Dim Sum World.

Favorite Hawker Stall:
Punggol Nasi Lemak

Nostalgic d
inners. Nasi Lemak as a child, Nasi Lemak as a teenager, Nasi Lemak as a young adult. My very-predictable plate includes sambal okra, sotong balls, otah and/or deep-fried wantons. Now they've become suppers too.

Have a blessed & awesome 2011 everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bienvenue a New York

Welcome to New York.

So here I am at the Big Apple, in an awesome world-renowned culinary school and loving my field of education. Hordes of yummy eats to share about..... stay tuned!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I wanna eat!

My days left in Singapore are numbered, but there's still a burning long list of stuffs i promised myself to eat/ have yet to try/ meant to revisit... One month to go, too many to cover!

By request, i'm sharing my top Must-Eats/Really-Wanna-Eats before i depart for New York:

French l Italian l Modern European
Saint Pierre
Les Amis
The Tippling Club
Otto Ristorante (pasta!pasta!)
The Lighthouse

Shinji by Kanesaka
Tatsuya (Sushi Omakase)
Nogawa (Sushi)
Goto Japanese
Sushi Yoshida

Asian l Others
Taste Paradise
Royal China
Red Star Restaurant
Yan Ting

The Cookie Museum
P.S Cafe
2am: Dessert Bar
Regent Hotel Tea Lounge
Checker's Brasserie (Hilton's cheesecakes!)

MELT The World Cafe @ Mandarin Oriental
Triple Three @ Mandarin Orchard
Brasserie Les Saveurs @ St Regis


Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee (396 East Coast Road)
Nam Sing Hokkien Mee (Old Airport Road)
Nam Heng Coffeeshop 'Nameless' Hokkien Mee (Simon Road)
Fei Fei Wanton Noodles
Teck Kee Wanton Mee
Hwa Kee BBQ Pork Noodles (East Coast Food Lagoon)
Beach Road Prawn Noodle House (370 East Coast Road)
328 Katong Laksa
Hillstreet Char Kway Teow

Punggol Nasi Lemak (Upp Serangoon)
Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice (Bishan)
Chin Chin Eating House (Purvis Street)
Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice
Ya Hua Outram Park Bah Kut Teh
Chiang's Porridge

Haron 30 Satay
Toa Payoh Rojak
Chomp Chomp BBQ
Thasevi Prata
Casuarina Curry
Sri Vijaya (Little India)
Yong He Eating House (Geylang)

Snacks l Miscellaneous
Tiong Bahru Mee Chang Kueh
Yong's Pandan MCK (Maxwell)
Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah
Madeleine's Portugese Eggtart

Wish me luck i get to complete them all! ;)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Catch"- It's about Salmon

Cooped in a pastry kitchen for the past 6 months, i was itching to work the pots and pans back at home again.
Cooking for the family is such a joy

Salmon is one of my all-time favorites. Not only for its appealing orange & pleasurable oily character, it reigns in versatility too. Steamed, baked, seared, smoked, cured, raw... anything does it for me. Really. When salmon is at tiptop freshness, minimal preparation is required.

My simple menu is entitled "Catch".

unprofessional handwritten menu...

Focaccia, olive oil & balsamic vinegar

Because every step from Mise en place to cooking to plating to service is done by one little soul alone, it is always wise to provide warm bread to coax any growling tummies.

Sashimi, lime zest, white balsamic jelly, chocolate balsamic sauce, citrus mesclun, roseapple, caviar, crisp

I believe au naturel was the best way to begin. A slice of top-grade sashimi garnished with lime zest, a potent balsamic duo for acidity, roseapples for textural effect. We all agreed dollops of caviar won't hurt.

Belly aburi, miso cream, truffle baby potatoes, avocado lemongrass pudding, chanterelle, yogurt

Blowtorches come in mad handy to flash-burn slices of belly flesh into heavenly aburi-ed morsels. I draped mine over miso cream & roasted truffle-fragranced potatoes, alongside a lovely avocado custard scented with calming lemongrass.

Capellini, truffle butter sauce, marinated salmon, ikura, toasted quinoa, yuzu sorbet

Get zany. Get wild. Get ready to experience how texture & temperature integrations can enhance pasta.

1) Taste the basic (bottom) pile
2) Approach the second with smoky toasted quinoa
3) Enjoy the third with quinoa crunch and refreshing kick of yuzu sorbet

elaine's crazy pasta

*just imagine*

confit of salmon, vanilla beans, beetroot veloute, yuzu foam, grapefruit, sea asparagus

A compilation of my faves: salmon, vanilla beans, beetroot, yuzu & grapefruit (:

The fish was marinated with lots of potent vanilla extract, steeped into Vpod-infused olive oil, then slow-cooked in very stingy oven heat for 45 minutes. Looking mi cuit, it flakes comfortably into warm veloute & yuzu scented foam. Sea asparagus lends a perfect salty touch.

Citrus sorbet

Palate-cleanser to rid any traces of lingering oil.

Strawberries, bitter jasmine panna cotta, strawberry yogurt icecream, balsamic glaze, caramelized nuts, chocolate pearls

I kept dessert extremely simple. With short planning time i had to prioritize (savories or dessert?) and i chose to focus on the former. I realized the difficulty in overseeing both aspects in such tight timing, so hey! that's what pastry chefs are for right? hehe ;)

Promise more efforts into dessert next time!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Alas, the hiatus is over.

I know i took an incredibly long post-work recovery break, and i ought to get back on the flogging track.

This 6 months flew past in a wink. So swiftly it seemed, i completed my stint at Swissotel the Stamford & Fairmont Hotel Singapore. Tough times engulfed, fun times streamed by, mistakes made, lessons learnt... and it ends with a fullstop.

To all the Equinox staff & pastry department colleagues who's been great in any way (& many ways), thank you so much for coloring my experience. The hotel line may have been proven to be tedious and time-occupying, but you guys provided the smiles & laughters to subtract some weariness. It all counts.

Updates. After the attachment, i embarked on a leisure revisit to Kyushu -Cakes & Ramen Wonderland- for 6 days, and feasted on almost 5 kg worth of sugary weight. The food scene there is so awesomely crafted; from delish cakes to exotic sushis (think Kumamoto horse meat sashimi) to fabulous market deals (rack of uni sashimi at S$6.50!) to slurpalicious ramen (notches higher than Ippudo) to hearty handmade soba & tofu... Every Yen & calorie lives up to its value. I dare say indulging in Japan is the most worthwhile of all (:
Await the brief pictorial entries coming up...

Right now i am every bit looking forward to enrolling into school this November.
2 months to eat Singapore up!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Updating again

I'll be back... right after my work attachment ends.
2 more days to go! (:

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Osia at RWS just added an impeccable episode to my sequel of dine-alone escapades (Episode 1: Lunch at Private Affairs to be blogged soon). It was a meal like no other, having the Chef de Cuisine propose my menu... Absolute excitement.

nice bold kitchen open-concept

This month-plus old restaurant is Aussie chef Scott Webster's latest mounting from London, rendering fine australian cuisine with modern twists. Helming the kitchen is Chef Douglas Tay, previously the sous chef at Equinox Swissotel & member of our national culinary team.

Dinner began with a comforting frisbee of carbs. Osia's Black Olive and Rosemary Flatbread ($8) ain't a complimentary issue, but it is one bread that no bread-lovers should forgo. At least i wouldn't.

The disk is baked puffy ala-order, rubbed with olive deliciousness and blessed with stonehearth fragrance. Great as a tummy filler while the courses fire.

To go along, you get EVOO, butter & a daily-rotated house dip. I couldn't stop squeezing the creamy macadamia cheese out of its toothpaste-akin tube, cause its both fun and highly functional in balancing the olive headiness.

Amuse Bouche

For amuse bouche, chef fixed up a silky tender homemade soymilk tofu haloed with Caviar d' Aquitaine. When humble meets royal. You need no sauces at all to make this work.

The innovation litmus had to be his Seafood Ice Experience ($22). Its a rainbow rack of centrifuge tubes, 6 to be exact, combining novel seafood & fruit slush pairings.

The towers included:
Blue Fin Tuna + Pineapple Lemongrass Ice
Amaebi Shrimp + Quandong Orange Ice
Sea Scallop + Calamans 'Mojito' Ice
Oyster + Lychee Martini Ice
Maine Lobster + Watermelon Lillipilli Ice
Tasmanian Salmon + Apple Celery Ice

my fave towers- salmon apple celery & amaebi quandong orange

Only fresh fruit purees and premium seafood are used to impart natural sweetness. I progressed down the line (from left to right) as instructed and was enticed by buildup of fruity & alcoholic flavors.

6..5..4..3..2..1.. done.

Though not a total mind-blowing medley, this sure is one ingenious idea.

Then i had a Confit of Petuna Ocean Trout ($24) dished on a slate tray. Here's premium trout cuboids cooked so fragile that it slides along your fork's command. Teamed with creamed horseradish salsify and apple celery espuma.

I'm a souperholic.

I'm a souperholic but i partake to cream soups selectively. I love cream soups slurred with creamy lightness rather than distasteful roux and i got my wish in my Emulsion of Celeriac & Basil ($18). The flavors start subtle & palatable... until you hit upon the center mound of uber refreshing green apple mousse and excellently seasoned seared Hokkaido sea scallop. Superb.

The evening's climax smacked at mains. Osia's rendition of Miso Blue Eye Cod ($32) did little injustice to the prized attributes of my favorite fish. Chef painted a japanese-inclined picture right up my alley.

just look at that delicious gloss of melting cod fats...

Blue Eye Cod is used here & it's got every percent of inborn oils to delight my salivary glands. One of the few i can claim fatty enough for elaine's-high-oily-fish-fats-tolerance haha. The fish is excellently broiled with a sweetish glaze, settled atop an outrageously moreish shiromiso mousse and wholesome pairings of edamame beans, soymilk tofu and furikake-crusted ratte potatoes.

I'm sold.

Now for Webster's signature dessert.

Valrhona Hot Chocolate Soup ($20). Hmmm think molten chocolate cake without the cake. Think a balloon-pricked volcano of hot flowy lava, served with vanilla-injected Black Pepper icecream that instantly melts over the intense pool. Beware it is so cocoa-potent i needed a second quenelle of icecream to mow down some richness.

Admittedly chocolate overdose for me, but i managed to spoon up anyways.

craving for an encore...

I left Osia smiling. Maybe i really was happy. I am proud to see a local talent rising to what he deserves in this arduous field... And being a newbie in the line, you just can't find fault with this feeling.

Hoping to be back soon.

8 Sentosa Gateway
Festive Walk @ Resorts World Sentosa
6577 8899


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