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In Chef Mode

My dad has been wanting to try the donburi (rice bowls) from Sushiro ever since he read the review in the Straits Times. Hence, we were all made to wake up early (by my standards at least) so that we could reach there around noon and avoid the crowd. Which I was surprised to see on a Tuesday.

Sushiro at Thomson Plaza is known for their cheap Bara chirashi don (S$12.80) and they expanded to the other side of Thomson Plaza with this little nook called Takumi. That's where we went to instead of the main restaurant because they close on Tuesdays.

The set of the day was the Tokyo Gyuniku (S$16.80) and sets come with a serving of chawanmushi and salad. There was no choice of chirashi in Takumi as they do not have the sashimi chiller etc.

For $16.80, my initial thought was that this was not cheap. Even if they gave the chawanmushi and salad. But the taste test is the most important bit!

The beef was very tender and well cooked in the sauce. There was enough sauce such that the rice was moist. The rice was also very fragrant and didn't taste like your typical Californian rice served at most cheap Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Kinda reminds me of how Yoshinoya's Gyudon in Japan tastes like.

The chawanmushi had a very strong bonito flavour which I enjoyed but I felt that it was a tad too salty but then again, I don't eat a lot of salt.

Thus, although it's not cheap, this gyudon is definitely worth it's price and you're getting very good value for the quality that they're serving. Too bad you've got huddle on small tables and stools to lap this up.

Takumi by Sushiro
301 Upper Thomson Rd
#01-22/30 Thomson Plaza
Singapore 574408

And so, one of Singapore's famous food critic has set up her own restaurant and in the swanky new National Gallery no less! Sticking to her Peranakan roots, National Kitchen serves up Peranakan cuisine with slight twists on some of the dishes. There isn't any pork in the menu but I did not spot any Halal certificate but if you're one of those who aren't too fussed, then this would be a good place for you to try very refined Peranakan food.

My parents and I went there to celebrate my mum's birthday as my parents previously tried to eat dinner there but were told that they did not accept any walk-ins. Thus, dad made a reservation which you can easily do via their website. They have 2 dinner service time slots: 6.30pm and 8.30pm. We chose the 6.30pm slot and they emphasised that we had to leave by 8pm. Yes...this was emphasised even in their reminder phone call the day before.

Tauhu Goreng

Ngoh Hiang
For starters, we ordered the Tauhu Goreng (which literally means fried tofu; S$9++) and their signature Ngoh Hiang (fried meat rolls served with sweet sauce; S$15++). The Tauhu Goreng's sauce was really good! Thick and yet not cloying. It wasn't too pungent nor too sweet. This balance went really well with the shredded cucumber and fried tofu while the crushed peanuts added that crunch.

We were pleasantly surprised to see onions in the Ngoh Hiang as that is not an ingredient traditionally found in the dish. I liked that it wasn't oily and were little bites of deliciousness. Went really well with the sweet sauce and a touch of sambal belachan. Yup...the nonya in me is peeking out.
Sayur Lodeh
The vegetable dish we ordered was the Sayur Lodeh (S$13++) which essentially is curried vegetables. Parents felt that it was a little too sweet but I begged to differ. I found that they managed to let the flavours not overpower each other (which is a tendency when there are so many spices involved) and this worked well in lowering the spice level of the Sambal Eggplant.

Ayam Buah Keluak
First taste of this Ayam Buah Keluak (S$23++) was a little shocking to me. It was too sour and definitely did not taste like the one mum cooks or even the one that Blue Ginger serves. That said, the buah keluak themselves were really good because you could tell that they removed all the flesh from the seeds, pounded them before refilling the shells. They didn't add any prawn or meat into the flesh of the nut though, so it was pure buah keluak flavour. There wasn't any buay keluak added into the gravy as well, which is probably why it didn't quite have the same oomph as the one Chilli Padi serves. Nonetheless, their buah keluak itself wins hands down.

Beef Rendang
I'm not a fan of rendang but my dad is so we ordered this (Beef Rendang S$23++). However, all of us were very very impressed at how tender is meat was! The sauce was pretty good too. Mum, who doesn't like beef, even managed to eat half a piece without complaining that it had 'a smell'.

Sambal Eggplant
I really liked the Sambal Eggplant (S$12++) despite it being the spiciest and oiliest dish. I have no idea how they managed to fry this baby up such that the flesh is soft but the skin isn't chewy. It was soooo good.

Because I had already mentioned at the start of the dinner that it was my mum's birthday, the waiter surprised her with a complimentary cake at the end of our meal! We got to share her slice of Kueh Beng Kah (S$9++) which was served warm, drizzled with gula melaka and had a side serving of coconut milk. The combination was too delicious...we can never go back to Begawan Solo's version of this cake.

The service was top notch, the ambience really nice as it was colonial meets Peranakan and was rather cosy as the restaurant is quite small. It is a bit pricey but when you consider how much effort it takes to prepare Peranakan food, I reckon that it's quite worth it. I'm still thinking about the cake and the ngoh hiang...*drool*.

National Kitchen by Violet Oon
1 St. Andrew’s Road
National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing)
Singapore 178957

Website: http://violetoon.com/national-kitchen-by-violet-oon-national-gallery-singapore/

Look what I've made! This is Buddaejjigae, which is literally translated as Army Stew and is a dish that was created during WW2 by the Korean soldiers who were relying on food rations from the USA. Being Asians, they made the American Spam, cocktail sausages and baked beans into something more palatable to the Korean tastebuds and my Korean friend told me that it is also meant to be very spicy.

My parents had never eaten this before and they were quite surprised at how simple it really is. So these are some of the characteristic ingredients in a Korean Army Stew:

  • canned sausages
  • spam
  • kimchi
  • baked beans
  • loads of vegetables
  • rice cake
  • firm tofu (tau gwa)
  • 1 packet of instant noodles
I did away with the instant noodles because I just wanted to eat rice cakes. Think of it a little bit like an Irish Stew or Devil's Curry so it's also a good time to chuck in certain meats that you have. In this case, I had chicken but you could throw in beef/pork/mutton.

Other ingredients in my stew are:
  • quail eggs
  • enoki mushrooms
  • cheese tofu
  • chicken
  • 1 slice of processed cheese 
Soup base:
2 tbsp Korean chilli paste (you can halve this if you can't handle spice)
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp honey
4-6 cups of bonito/fish/vegetable stock
4-6 tbsp liquid from the kimchi
1/2 large onion, sliced

  1. Lightly stir fry the onions with some sesame oil.
  2. Once the onions are a bit cooked, pour all the liquids into a pot and bring it to a boil.
  3. Stir and adjust to your liking. Remember that it will reduce in the stew so it should be less salty and less spicy than you'd normally prefer.
  4. While the soup base is boiling, arrange all your stew ingredients into your pot. Pile it in this order: rice cakes, vegetables, tofu, kimchi, mushrooms, meat, instant noodles and cheese.
  5. Pour the soup base into the pot and place your pot onto a conduction plate so that it stews while you eat. 
  6. When the instant noodles soften, dunk it into the sauce and that's when you know everything in the pot should be thoroughly cooked. But before that, items such as the sausages and spam should be already cooked and you could eat that while waiting for the noodles to soften.

I recently did a health test that apparently measures one's healthy by passing a biomagnetic wave through the body. It was pretty quick (2 minutes) and I had to meet up with the consultant to interpret the results from my test.

Needless to say, we all know that this is a funnelling system and I went there fully prepared to be sold supplements or some health programme. But that's not the point of this post.

According to her interpretation of the results, my heart rate was too low (hello...doesn't she know that athletes tend to have lower BP because their hearts are more efficient at pumping blood throughout their bodies...and my heart rate actually decreased during the time where I was really actively exercising) and therefore needed to take Co-Q10. In addition, my body wasn't efficiently burning fat so I needed to take Omega 3 fish oils and antioxidants to help my body along. Same goes for my endometriosis. I also needed to take more calcium because I wasn't getting enough sleep. According to her, of course.

My salad above is my response. Supplements? There is no medical/scientific proof that taking fish oil supplements will significantly help you lose weight or help your heart condition. But that being said, Omega 3 oils are considered helpful to your heart and overall health...but most doctors and nutritionists say that it's better to consume foods with it rather than from a distilled processed pill.

So...what does my salad contain?

  • Spinach as a base (at the bottom, unseen) for fibre, iron and calcium
  • Quinoa for protein, carbs and nutty flavour
  • Avocado for all the omega 3 and other good fats
  • Salmon belly for more omega 3 and protein
  • Feta cheese for calcium
  • Pomegranate seeds for antioxidants
Technically, I could even top it off with a bit of vinegar for added vitamin C and B vitamins!

By the way, I'm not against eating supplements as I do consume them. I'm just saying that you can easily incorporate vitamins, minerals and other good stuff into your diet and it's often more beneficial to your body than merely popping pills. Supplements should be taken usually when you know that you're not able to incorporate whatever it is into your daily diet.
I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food but I have to admit to a fondness towards grilled corn, tacos and guacamole. Mmm...avocado...yum! So I decided to check out Mex Out's latest Barrio branch at Vivo City and here's what we ordered.

We went with 2 starters: Grilled Corn (top, S$7.90++) and fried Stuffed Jalepeno with Aioli sauce (below, S$8.40++). They call them 'snacks' and perhaps they could be and would go well with a pint of beer or a glass of wine.

I wasn't too impressed with the grilled corn and I think I might've been spoilt by the AMAZING ones that I ate during the Singapore River Festival as well as those in Bali.

Chillies stuffed with cheese and then fried....yum! The spice from the jalepenos is cooled down with the oozing mozzarella and garlicky aioli. This is definitely worth the try and did not disappoint.

I've been trying to keep my diet to be about 40% vegetables and so, we ordered their Mexican Chopped Salad (S$11.90++ a la carte) and I was impressed when it come with a large scoop of avocado! I was expecting half an avocado that's sliced up but this was definitely a generous portion of avocado. As far as salads can taste, it's really quite normal with a bit of vinaigrette and you can make it a main meal by adding grilled chicken/beef or pulled pork (S$3++) or keep it vegan.

The other main that my friend and I shared was the Pulled Pork Tacos (S$15.90++ for 3 pieces). I love how soft their tacos were and although I normally do not eat spring onions, I could forgive the sprinkling of them for this dish. I liked that the tacos were neither anorexic nor stuffed to the point where you had items dropping out with each bite. The wedge of lime also kept things from getting from overwhelming to the palette. I'll definitely want to go back to try the fish and beef versions.

CHURROS!!! Seems like such a human thing to like fried dough with chocolate or sugar. LOL. But I appreciate MexOut's churros (S$5.90++ for 3 pcs) because they're generously coated with cinnamon sugar and you can ignore the chocolate dip if you so wish...nah...who's not eating chocolate when it's warm and goes oh so well with churros?

I'll make my way to Barrio again one day and in the meanwhile, you can plan your meal by checking out their menu here.
Friend was having a craving for the Korean Army Stew, which was how we ended up at Seoul Yummy (Westgate) and we saw that they were having Cheese Pot specials (S$52.90++ and meant for 2 pax).

We ordered the chicken version instead of seafood and the above is how it came. With 5 different sections, they were filled with (from top, clockwise) egg mixture, kimchi, chicken dumplings, mozzarella cheese topped with corn and ebiko (prawn roe) and the middle was rice with seasoned chicken.

As most hot pots or stews go, the fun is really in waiting for the food to cook. The rice was already cooked so when mixed with the chicken, was more like a fried rice. The cheese was mozzarella so it wasn't really a dip but more like a topping we used on top of our rice and dumplings.

I found the egg really quite fun to cook because it could be an omelette if you're patient or scrambled eggs if you were constantly stirring it with your chopsticks. All fun to eat with the cheese! The kimchi portion was a bit of a cop-out because we already had kimchi as a side dish so why would we need more kimchi? Would've preferred fish cakes or toppoki (spicy rice cakes) which would've gone really well with the egg or cheese.

The set meal came with dessert but we didn't have a choice because the ice machine broke down at this particular branch that day. Thus, we had red bean soup with marshmallows and rice dumplings. The whole meal was doing fine until this. DO NOT ever order their red bean dessert. It was terrible. To make things worse, the manager had originally said that she'd give us the one with matcha ice cream to compensate our lack of choice but then when this came, the waitress insisted that we had to pay extra for a scoop of ice cream. (-_-)

Overall, the meal was satisfying despite the ending note but if I were to return to Seoul Yummy, I reckon their army stews are a lot more worth while for the money compared to this.

I know, I know...I'm a little slow on this whole Japanese baked cheese tart craze that swept over Singapore earlier. The thing is...I hate crowds and I hate to queue. So whenever I saw the long lines for BAKE Cheese Tart at either Ion Orchard or at Jurong Westgate, I avoid and just carry on.

That is until one evening, I was there with a friend till about 8.30pm and there was NO queue. That's when I decided to buy 6 very expensive tarts at S$19.50 but it beats buying them each at S$3.50. More for the family. Do note that the prices are still quite comparable to those sold in Hong Kong and Bangkok, especially since these tarts are flown in from Japan before being baked in stores.

I had to try them warm because these babies just came out from the oven. Made with 3 different types of cream cheese, the first bite was an amazing party of white cream cheese flowing into your mouth. The pastry was not too crumbly but not too firm either. Melded with the slight crust at the top, this was truly a bite of cheese heaven.

"The Best Cheese Tart Ever" is printed on their tart paper and...no, they are not being arrogant. It really IS the best cheese tart I've ever tasted. I can only imagine if you're in cold Hokkaido eating this warm cheese tart. Yup...would've happily stood at the sidewalk munching on this and be oblivious to the world.

I love the box as they went with 2 'drawers' instead of 1 flat one to house the delicious tarts. Because Valentines' Day had just past, we were still given the Valentines' Day themed ones. Cute!

You can eat them cold but they can only be refrigerated for up to 3 days while a cheese 'ice cream' tart is achieved by keeping them in the freezer. I didn't try the 'ice cream' version but it was still good chilled. If you still want them warm, heat them up in the toaster oven. Microwave is not recommended unless you're really impatient.

Needless to say, other bakeries (such as Prima Deli) have come up with their own versions of the baked cheese tart but they were either too sweet or too heavy. Only BAKE managed to get the right consistency where it wasn't too cloyingly sweet nor dense. Must be the 3 types of cheeses.

Who knows how long this fad will last but in the meanwhile, I highly recommend that you try at least 1 tart!