Monday, September 10, 2012

Restaurant Daniel, NYC

2011, Internship.
2012-2013, Full-time Employee. The real life begins. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Be Revived

Please pardon me for the lack of updates, primarily due to:

(i) A priority placed on schoolwork. 
I'm clearly excited to rave about those amazing nosh i've consumed. Every time a pleasurable morsel of something unravels in my mouth, i feel the urge to share my joy. But when i am made to choose between scripting paragraphs of food emotions, or prepare my recipe cards for tomorrow's class, the latter takes the win. I'm spending hours & hours baking in the bakeshop everyday and i can't be happier about it.

(ii) Over-consumption of yums.
The New York food scene is undeniably impressive. I've been eating way too many notable food here (both in school & New York City), that it is almost impossible to catch up with everything in words. Food enters my mouth, instant satisfaction felt, mental notes made... -pause-. One day i'll regurgitate it all. Believe me, i will. 

I'm starting my action plan. So keep looking back!

baking away... soon i'll be blogging away too.

Friday, February 4, 2011


(10 November 2010) For Dad's fifties-something last year, we were both in New York settling me into school. So it became a perfect occasion to kickstart our virgin Michelin experience (:

Lunch at Jean-Georges

We did lunch at Jean-Georges, the 3 michelin-starred restaurant where my pastry idol Johnny Iuzinni (author of Dessert Foreplay, head judge of Top Chef Desserts) thrives. Excitement pumped in me, it felt like Charlie walking into Wonka's chocolate factory for the first time...

JG Dining Room
the elegant dining room

Butter & Salt
Butter & Salt

Bread Roll
Bread roll

Every segment from seating, to menu introduction, to order-taking, to ensuring bread on the table.... was properly fulfilled off the checklist. I won't use the word impeccable for service (it lacked genuine affability), but it certainly didn't stain the meal. It can't. 

The Prix Fixe Lunch menu offers 2-courses for US$36 (supplements apply), with dessert at an additional US$8. 

Amuse Bouche
Amuse Bouche

We started off with some mind-blowing Amuse Bouche. Proceeding from mild to not: a shot of cream of celeriac, marinated hamachi sashimi strips, and a unexpectedly good goat cheese and black truffle fritter

Foie Gras Brulee
Foie Gras Brulee 
Dried sour cherries l Candied Pistachios l White Port Gelee

Caramelized cauliflower l Caper-raisin emulsion
Roasted Cod
 Glazed carrots l Clementine condiment l Dill

Slow-baked Salmon
 Black truffle crumbs l Silky & crispy pasnip

Dad did Foie-Salmon, while I seafood-ed my courses with Scallop-Cod combination. Out of our 4 dishes, his slow-baked salmon entree outshone.

We all know salmon is delicious. But you'll know a level of elevated salmon deliciousness once you take a morsel of this. Salmon perfection. Crackling skin. Truffle-crusted goodness. More truffle fragrance. I stole a bite...another... and another... then exclaimed, "Damn i should have ordered this!" 

Late Harvest
Late Harvest
Warm sweet potato cake l Cranberry honey compote l Roasted pumpkin icecream l Crystallized sage l Salted pumpkin seeds

Spiced cake l Granny smith sorbet l Chartreuse compressed fennel l Crispy salted fronds l Dates l Hazelnut

I have to salute Chef Iuzinni for his brilliant idea-cells, to take plated desserts to such sophistication. His style shouts a modern, original, asian-y character... but taste-wise they swerved below my mighty high anticipation. Don't get me wrong. They were really good (i loved the roasted pumpkin icecream with crystallized sage), they were novel, but they lacked a touch of magic. Perhaps the dinner versions are the real deals.

Petit Fours
Petit Fours
Raspberry macarons l Vanilla bean marshmallows l Pralines

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
fluffy, bean-speckled marshmallows... i like.

JG's Michelin Stars

We'd imagined ourselves being impressed, and we were. From a fine executive lunch we could say JG is indeed a deserving michelin-rated restaurant. Their stars are safely padded.

1 Central Park West
New York, NY 10023
Jean-Georges website

Monday, January 24, 2011

La Maison du Chocolat

Have you ever stepped into a famous patisserie and told yourself.... "This place is supposedly amazing cause' everyone said so about their macarons" ?

Have you ever stared into the window display and told yourself... "Oh the chocolate macarons must be good cause' its been crowned their signature"?

Have you ever bought 2 macarons, looked at them and told yourself... "Ahh these MUST be good cause' its their signature AND everyone else said its amazing"?

Have you ever pushed your expectations sky high, unwrapped the macaron, cautiously took a bite then find yourself raising your eyelids and go... "Mmmmm NOW I GET IT."

Cause' i just did.

The Pistachio Chocolate Macaron. Oooooh to that fine crust cracking with a less than an inch of a touch. Ahhhhh to that moist shell innards that released quality pistachio (paste) fragrance and a perfect chewing consistency. Ooooomph to that premium chocolate ganache that's silky delicate yet robust in cocoa percent.

The Guayaquil Chocolate Macaron was same ultimate goodness, double the chocolate experience. US$2.50 for each tiny tot sized but monstrous levels of macachoco-tisfaction.

My macaron soul was sold. To La Maison du Chocolat.

La Maison du Chocolat
30 Rockefeller Center
49th St, NY 10020

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lickin' at Momofuku Milk Bar

David Chang is a genius when it comes to softserve flavors. Donut, Gingerbread, Red Velvet Cake....he's tried all the yummy dessert inspirations, even breakfast.

Down at the Midtown West store, i experienced love at first taste with one of them.

My Favorite-st: Cereal Milk Softserve TM

You have to agree this idea is brilliant. Just as Milk flavor is flooding the softserve scene, he adds a breakfast touch & made it magical. Like a wand sending gold dust all over. Amidst the creamy milk base inhibits a million tiny cereal crunchies so harmoniously blended in... the smooth finishing is remarkable. I can have this for breakfast too.

Hits-and-misses still occur. What didn't go well was the Salty Pistachio Caramel. It's warned you.

If the flavor doesn't already sound overwhelming, take a lick. Your brain will freeze in its attempt to process piercing saltiness+ uncontrolled caramel+ pistachio oils (hardly discernible). Then compute o_v_e_r_w_h_e_l_m_i_n_g. Maybe they had a bad-mixture day. Or maybe my tastebuds went faulty for a moment, but i certainly won't approve this havoc love triangle. Mid-cup was surrender point.

Go to Milk Bar, and go Cereal Milk it is.

Icecreams not your thing? Chew on one of this:

Momofuku Milk Bar
15W 56th Street
Midtown, NYC

Friday, January 14, 2011

3 For 4: A New Year's Dinner

It was a pleasure spending the Christmas & New Year holidays at my Granduncle's in Vancouver.

My first 2 months of school felt more college than culinary school. We attend a series of theory classes before hitting the kitchens so that means: all i've held so far is paper & pens. When i was asked to make dinner, i jumped at the chance.

One thing i enjoy about cooking overseas is the access to many wonderful ingredients. In my Product Knowledge class i learnt a horde about produce i've never spotted in Singapore, and right here in Canada my eyes can physically feast on them.

Cooking in Uncle Alvin's kitchen was another bonus. His fairly new kitchen is impressively equipped with a built-in oven, kitchen aid, ice cream maker, food processor, all-clad pans and the collection continues to build....

Using his Kitchen Aid icecream-mixer extension (a pretty cool gadget i'll love to have), i finally departed from hand-whisked icecream. I made a Candied Bacon Ice Cream that satisfied myself. The creaminess & texture was closest to commercial i've ever gotten... and it's base exudes a deep caramelized flavor entwining savory-sweet notes from the candied bacon. Bacon needs no further description mmmm.

Here's the theme-less menu for the evening:

Smoked Salmon & Crab Salad Roll, Cucumber Vichyssoise, mango

Handpicked blue-swimmer crabmeat is made into a creamy salad with colorful sweet peppers and enrobed in smoked sockeye salmon. To balance the richness, it is placed over chilled cucumber vichyssoise and fresh mango cubes. This is now one of my favorite compilations.

Asian-style Braised Short Ribs, Hoisin glaze, Steamed rice

Tapping back on oriental roots, I did an asian-style braised short ribs served with steamed rice. Glimpses of crushed garlic, ginger, lemongrass, green onion bottoms, crushed red peppers & many more enter a braising liquid that immersed the meat for 3 slow hours in the oven. Once tender, the liquid is extracted and reduced into a tasty hoisin glaze.

"Breakfast 2011"
Pancake-&-Butter Pudding, Candied Bacon ice cream, Maple-glazed Walnuts, Blueberries, Maple Sauce

Consider my first dessert of 2011 one of those ideas-gone-wild. Say goodbye to bread, hello to pancakes joining the pudding family. Into my Pancake-&-butter pudding i added frozen blueberries & chopped walnuts and baked the traditional B&B way. A drizzle of maple sauce, maple-glazed walnuts and candied bacon ice cream completes the breakfast platter.

Bonjour Appetit!

Now this is the real breakfast i made in Vancouver. Good ol' French Toasts.

Cooking is my #2 therapy, right after eating.

sorry for the yellowish photos, there's no Adobe Photoshop/proper white balance gadgets here with me in NY! and my SLR's been completely idling away... it really has.

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!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin