Monday, August 24, 2015


I was talking to a headhunter friend of mine the other day. He told me working hours in Singapore have become insanely long. The corporate world is worse today than some years back when I was last in it. Damn, I was already working until 10-11pm many nights back then.

According to one study, Singaporeans clock the longest hours in the world. On average, each worker spends more than 2,400 hours a year toiling - sounds like a cruel sentence! Yeah, well, I'm sure some of these hours are spent "eating snake", Facebook-ing and going for tea breaks, but being at work still takes up a lot of our time.

So, not surprisingly, many of us are completely drained by the end of the day.

There have been occasions when I have felt too punctured to actively seek out good meals, and settle for what's nearby and convenient. Inevitably though, I will regret the food that's not worth the calories.

So what I find useful is having a list of food and places to always fall back on, when your brain is too tired to think.

Here are 12 local dishes that always make me most satisfied, in random order. I like to chase them down with a refreshing ice-cold Coke zero® or Coke light®; it's easy, convenient, and has consistently good taste!  


BBQ Chicken Wings

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I still like the ones from 85 Fengshan Market. Perfectly browned and comes with a deliciously tangy chili sauce dip.  The one at East Coast Lagoon Food Centre is not bad too.


KL-Style Dark Hokkien Mee

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To be honest, I haven't found a really good one yet, because they all seem to use the udon-like noodles instead of the flat Hokkien noodles. For the gravy, I like the one from Malaysia Boleh.


Sambal Stingray

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Sambal Stingray - nuff said. I like the one from Hai Wei Yuan Seafood (no.1 stall at Chomp Chomp) -- cukup pedas! Yes, beautifully smoky, aromatic and loaded with spices.


Pork Rib Prawn Noodles

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My favourite was Da Tou Xia at Block 418 Bedok North Ave 2 #01-97, run by a humble but tenacious young hawker. The broth was robust and I loved the tender and meaty pork ribs. But sadly, he has had to close due to high food costs, levies and rental. I hope he resurfaces again. Meanwhile, I should go check out the famous Hoe Nam one at Tai Thong Crescent.


Salted Egg Yolk Crab

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Roland's gets my vote for best salted egg yolk crab. Because yam strips. Crispy, finely shredded yam deep-fried like chips generously tossed in with hae bi (dried shrimp), curry leaves, chili padi and whatever magical stuff they put in.



Bak Chor Mee

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The 132 Mee Pok just happens to be in my neighbourhood. I hate the long line, but once in a while, I will endure it for those al dente noodles sprinkled with pork lard (the chili seasoning, I'm not too crazy about). Do not bother with takeaway though - those noodles turn soggy fast!


Dim Sum

Dim sum really touches the heart. Legendary Hong Kong has all-day dim sum which is pretty decent for the price.


Mee Goreng

Fabulous Mee Goreng
Mee Goreng is such a suppertime favourite. This one is from Ajimer Sharif at Tekka Market. 


Zichar

You may think these are like dishes you can cook at home, but zichar places have high pressure gas cooker stoves that bless the dishes with wok hei. It's never quite the same.



Kway Chap

One of the best kway chap around
Some days, nothing will cheer me up as much as piggy innards. Hai Fa at Bedok Interchange, and Tong Lok at Pasir Panjang are two great places. I also love peppery pig organ soup, pig stomach soup, and braised pork trotters. That reminds me, I need to go try Guan Kee.


Satay

Beef, Chicken and Mutton Satay with Ketupat
Satay, glorious satay...there's something just irresistible about charcoal grilled meat on a stick. I still like the ones at good old Warong Sudi Mampir at Haig Road. I need to revisit soon and see if the old uncle is back - they were closed for a while when he was hospitalised.

Oyster Omelette

Oyster Omelette
Yet another sinfully good supper. I actually like the starchy bits more than the oysters. I have some favourite spots for orh luak listed here in Yahoo Makanation.

And last but not least: Laksa (first photo). 

I like the one at Sungei Road (who doesn't?). There was also one stall in my neighbourhood hawker centre that started selling very traditional laksa, but they closed quietly. Other stalls sell crap but last forever.


So what are your favourite feel-good foods? Where do you get your most satisfying hit? Share with me your favourite spots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!




This article is brought to you by Coca-Cola®.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Sunday brunch at The Capella Singapore is always a luxurious treat. The Knolls offers a small but well-curated brunch buffet - it's clearly quality over quantity.




I love the meats here - the grilled items and charcuterie are so satisfying!


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There's also sashimi, sushi, cold seafood and of course oysters.


A photo posted by Catherine Ling (@camemberu) on


Oysters from Ireland, Canada, France, and the U.S., all freshly shucked and plump on the half shell.





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To help commemorate Singapore's 50th birthday, they have come up with some "fusion" creations - a spin on local favourites. Normally when we her fusion, we shirk away with doubt and skepticism. But some of these dishes actually work pretty well.

Witness "Chilled Mee Siam" using capellini in mee siam gravy; Maki Roll of Chicken Rice (this one actually works) and Chili Crab Kueh Pie Tee.

There's also Foie Gras Terrine in Rojak, Popiah with Crispy Roast Chicken, and freshly made light chiffon Durian Cake. The Roti John and Otah Bun drizzled with a sweetish cheese aren't really a hit but heck, there's lots of interesting bread rolls along with Beurre d'Isigny (just about the best butter ever; yes, I like it better than Echire).

This buffet will also feature barbecue satay like Pork Belly, Wagyu Beef, Chicken Wings, Chinese Sausage, and Seared Swordfish with Sambal Chili.


A photo posted by Catherine Ling (@camemberu) on

Kueh Pie Tee stuffed to the brim with Chilli Crab! Best way to eat chili crab - already shelled!



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I also liked the Oysters with local condiments and sauce - ginger, scallions, soy - much like what they do with bamboo and razor clams.



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There are a few local desserts too: a pandan creme brulee (right) and a most addictive banana sago gula melaka concoction topped with coconut cream, cookie bits and coconut flakes.


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To top it all off, they've also dedicated a cocktail, The Red Island, which symbolises our multifaceted, ethnically diverse nation. Drawing influences from the Chinese bingtanghulu, the cocktail comes with a skewer of blueberries coated with brown sugar. The pandan evokes memories of Malay cuisine and plantations. Gold dust represents the Indian community, and the red wine glass is a nod to the Eurasians.



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The Knolls will also be decked out with vintage photos. But honestly, the biggest attraction is kicking back with a great view of the pool and South China Sea, and enjoying the sun.


Details of the National Day Sunday Brunch (one day only)

Date: Sunday, 9 August 2015

Time: 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Venue: The Knolls Restaurant

$288++ per adult, includes free flowing vintage Taittinger Champagne, seasonal boutique wines, specialty cocktails, and international beers

$228++ per adult, includes free flowing Taittinger Champagne, wines, specialty cocktails, and international beers

$188++ per adult, includes free flowing soft beverages and fresh juices

$118++ per child ages 7 to 12 years, includes free flowing soft drinks and fresh juices

$78++ per child ages 4 to 6 years, includes free flowing soft drinks and fresh juices


THE KNOLLS
Capella Singapore
1 The Knolls
Sentosa
Singapore 098297



Many thanks to Capella Singapore for the preview of the brunch!

Photos taken using the Canon 7D Mark II kindly loaned by Canon Singapore





Saturday, August 1, 2015


Laksa ramen: it's so good! Keisuke Takeda the Ramen King has concocted this beautifully intense bowl to celebrate Singapore's birthday and his Tonkotsu King outlet's anniversary in August.

Only 50 bowls a day will be prepared each day at the Suntec City outlet. Proceeds go to the Tanjong Pagar community and the underprivileged, as with previous years.

I had a sneak preview of this incredible laksa ramen when I went to review his Ginza Tendon Itsuki shop selling tempura-don. You can taste how much effort went into the spices alone. At only S$15, this is a steal. It's only going to be available for the month of August. I wish it could be a permanent item.

This is Keisuke's first local flavour ramen. He picked laksa because he likes it. I think he has done a fabulous job giving it his own interpretation. It is evident he loves strong flavours, and so do I, so this was perfect for my palate. Some people may find it a little too rich but for me, that's never a problem.

It does sort of remind you of curry noodles though. But in a good way.


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The laksa comes with additional "sambal" for you to tune up the chili heat, if preferred. You will also be served this crispy rice cake (somewhat like the crispy burnt rice at the bottom of claypots) for you to dunk into the laksa broth and enjoy.


KEISUKE TOKYO
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeisukeTokyoSG
#02-391/392 Suntec City Mall,
3 Temasek Boulevard,
Singapore 038983
Tel: +65 6337-7919
Open Mon to Fri 11:30 - 15:00 / 17:00 - 22:00
Sat, Sun and Public Holiday 11:30 - 22:00






Friday, July 31, 2015



I'm always encouraged to see young hawkers taking up the baton to continue providing good and affordable food. Hong Seng Curry Rice (85 Redhill Lane #01-74) has another one of these heroes - Lim Jia Han who is only 25 but brimming with entrepreneurial tenacity. Just over a year ago, he had no F&B experience but is now the main cook at the family stall, churning out 22 dishes every day.

He's not just working hard, he's working smart. Already he's helped his family cut reliance on fickle labour by automating tasks and sourcing freshly pre-cut ingredients. He's even devised ways to protect the family's recipes from being stolen by staff who could run away and open up a similar stall.




He just graduated with a degree in Banking and Finance, but he's never wanted to work in an office. During his studies he's been a tuition teacher, tuition coordinator, a licensed Singapore Tourist Guide, a tour leader, a personal gym instructor and an ACTA certified trainer in Hospitality and Tourism industry.

But it was his love for food and cooking that led him to take over the family business when his uncle wanted to retire after 20 years. His family at first didn't want him to follow this hard life, but relented when they saw he had bigger dreams than just slaving at a stall.

I wrote a more detailed story on him in Yahoo and Makansutra.

https://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/hong-seng-curry-rice-ditching-033228087.html

http://makansutra.com/stories/3/1475/HongSengCurryRiceDitchingFinanceDegreeforCurry



Come visit and try the curry. Like most Chinese curries, it's not too spicy but is fairly balanced. He has a S$4 value set meal that comes with 6 different toppings - chap chye, pork chop, fried egg, curry potato, sambal ikan bilis, and a fried prawn fritter - but the other homestyle dishes like pork trotters and meatballs are worth checking out too.


HONG SENG CURRY RICE
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hongsengcurryrice
85 Redhill Lane #01-74
Open 10.30am to 11pm
Closed Thursdays
Tel: +65 9876 2288


Thanks to Jia Han for contacting me, and for the first photo




Thursday, July 30, 2015



The Marina Bay Sands Epicurean Market is back 14-16 August and it looks to be an all out fine food extravaganza. Picture this - 2,000 kg of seafood, 20,000 fresh oysters, 20 kg of caviar, and an estimated 15,000 pizzas! And that's not counting wines and spirits.

The chefs are so excited, they've put together this video for you. It's cute!

Here are the signature dishes you can sample from 10 celebrity chef restaurants (including one "akan datang" Spago!):

Adrift: Californian heirloom tomato toast with vanilla and turmeric, Pineapple tamarind glazed pork ribs, and its signature King crab melt with pimento cheese.

Bread Street Kitchen: Potted Salt Beef Brisket, Dingley Dell Pork Belly and traditional fish and chips.

CUT by Wolfgang Puck: Indian spiced wagyu short ribs and Char siew pork buns.

db Bistro & Oyster Bar: freshly shucked oysters and seafood dishes

Long Chim: Tasty Thai treats like Aromatic beef skewers, grilled eggplant salad with dried prawn, charred rice noodles with pork and yellow beans, and deep-fried chicken with plum sauce.




Osteria Mozza: grilled octopus and a new cold pasta dish -- the Squid Ink Chitarra Freddi with sea urchin, fresh crabmeat and jalapeno pesto.

Pizzeria Mozza: pizzas such as Margherita, Aglio Olio, Prosciutto di Parma with Rucola and Bianca with sage.

Sky on 57: Seared Wagyu tri tip with slow cooked egg, lu shui truffle sauce, Chilled Somen with sze chuan pepper-peanut sauce, dried bean curd, cuttlefish and sakura ebi and Braised Dorper Lamb Ribs with Asian spice, dried fruit-nut, turmeric cous cous.

Spago (joining ahead of its official opening): Handmade Agnolotti and Spicy tuna tartare

Waku Ghin: Marinated Botan Shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar, Grilled Rolled Ohmi Beef with fresh wasabi and Japanese musk melon from Shizuoka Prefecture. Chef Tetsuya Wakuda will also have a second booth focusing on 12 exquisitely delicate pastries.



More highlights of Epicurean Market 2015:

- Over 35 masterclasses from celebrity chefs and various experts

- Farmer’s Market with the freshest produce, including Chef Daniel Boulud’s famous Epicerie Boulud

- Fine wines, spirits and premium coffee

- Cocktail Bar and Whisky Lounge by Diageo with mini-workshops by experts

- After Party on 14 and 15 August 2015

- Exclusive tasting sessions of LOUIS XIII de Rémy Martin and Single Malt by Glen Ord Distillery

The three-day ticket passes are priced at $28 each. This includes two premium red wine glasses by Schott Zwiesel (usual price S$38) and admission to the after party. You can book your tickets here:
http://www.marinabaysands.com/epicurean-market.html


TICKET GIVEAWAY

So yes, I am very happy to announce I have five pairs of tickets to give away. Each of these includes the wine glasses. All you have to do is this:

1. Share this post (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) and tag one person you'd like to go with, and the name of one dish from the signature items above that you'd definitely want to eat there.

2. Email me (camemberu@gmail.com) the link of your shared item(s) with the email header "MBS EPICUREAN GIVEAWAY". Please make your post(s) public, so I can see it. Some of you in the past have asked me how to find that link -- just click on the timestamp of your Facebook or Twitter post. It will bring you to the page where your post is. The URL is the dedicated link. If you still can't figure it out, just send me a screenshot and your FB or Twitter page. I'll look for your post.

Get extra chances to win via Facebook! Share my post there and tag others too.
https://www.facebook.com/Camemberu.Blog/posts/932202903502519


I will choose and contact five winners by 5 August 2015. We will arrange redemption letters to be sent to the winners so they can collect their tickets at the box office.


Thanks to MBS for sponsoring the tickets. Photo courtesy of MBS, of the Epicurean Market 2014.




Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Park Bench Deli - I've been waiting for this since Chef Ming Tan told me (during the filming of Food Wars Asia) he was starting his own joint. Now, if you liked his food at Lolla, you know you can expect bold flavours that work well together.

It's about the best sandwiches ever - from the chef's perspective. It's food they dream of making, hearty fare unencumbered by structure and tradition. Here, they are recreating classics, remixing all-time favourite local dishes into sandwiches, and rethinking boundaries of traditional sandwich-making. Pornworthy food, you could say.



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Park Bench Deli is a collaboration with Chef Andrei Soen of the Cajun Kings and management guru Aamir Ghani. After their test concepts met with wild approval at pop-up events and food festivals, they decided it was time for a permanent outlet.

They just opened last week in a shophouse at 179 Telok Ayer Street, with one of the most gorgeous kitchens ever (I so want to live there).






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One thing they believe in - the right ratio of bread to filling. They actually hollow out the middle part of the Hoagie roll so they can pack deliciousness to the roof. The Philly Cheese Steak features sliced beef gorgeously flash seared using industrial strength high heat, and sauteed onions tossed in a housemade American cheese sauce. The thin slices make it easy for you to take a bite, and the quality beef makes you moan with every mouthful. It's S$16 for a six-inch roll, but so worth it.



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The Fried Chicken Sandwich (S$14) was really popular at their pop-up events. This is Southern Fried Chicken like you've never had it before. The whole boneless chicken thighs are flavoured with lemon zest, garlic and rosemary, then cooked sous vide style for ultra juiciness. As if that's not enough, it's marinated overnight in buttermilk. Then it's dredged in flour and spices, and deep-fried for crunch. Corn and cabbage slaw with homemade Russian dressing complete the ensemble.



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You can literally see how moist these thighs are. I bet chicken breast would work too.






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Here's the Asian inspired Kong Bak Bahn Mi (S$14). Check out the thick slabs of pork belly that have been braised for a full 24 hours in dark soy, honey, anise, cinnamon, ginger and garlic. This rich and meltingly tender meat is paired with crisp pickle mix of daikon, carrot, cucumber and lime leaf. The final topping of crushed peanuts and coriander make this an absolute blast of flavours and textures.




Chef Ming lovingly ladling the braised gravy reduction all over the meat. Yes, that's some serious "zhup" all right. Thick and tasty, more salty than sweet, but complements the roll.



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Kong bak, I love you.



But wait, there's more...


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Pulled pork -- oh my, this is good enough to eat on its own!

It goes into their most beautiful sandwich - the Torta (S$15) - which is a take on the Cochinita Pibil, a Mexican pork dish of Mayan origin. Slabs of pork shoulder are marinated in achiote (annatto) seed, orange and lime juice, wrapped in banana leaf and then braised low and slow.



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The pulled pork is then dressed with Cotija cheese, pickled onions, and salsa on a bed of luscious guacamole. And the kicker? Pork crackling sprinkled liberally on top. This combination is complex yet comforting, and before you know it, you'll have wolfed down half the sandwich chasing the flavours.

With such punchy, over-the-top sandwiches, I'm not surprised they already sold out early in their first week. The menu may vary from time to time, as they continue experimenting. I see Pork Sisig and Duck Confit on the paper menu, along with the Peanut Butter Jelly Time confection that I tried at Savour 2015.



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If you don't live by bread creations alone, they've got side dishes like Pasta Salad, Potato Salad, Wild Rice Edamame Salad, and Quinoa Salad, along with dips like spinach and a really nice hummus.




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Park Bench Deli has a cool and casual vibe. They make it easy for you to do takeaways.

They also serve breakfast - lox bagels, a sandwich of eggs, cheddar, frisee, aioli on brioche, granola and an acai bowl (with banana, strawberry, coconut flakes, and honey).

Meanwhile I am still dreaming of pastrami piled high on rye. I hope Park Bench Deli brings back their smoked pastrami creation that I missed!



PARK BENCH DELI
179 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068627
Tel: 6815-4600
Open Mondays - Fridays 9am - 3pm
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ParkBenchDeliSG
Instagram: https://instagram.com/parkbenchdeli/


Many thanks to Chef Ming and team for the invitation and hospitality





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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Mikuni at Fairmont Singapore is one of my favourite Japanese restaurants. It never fails to impress with a skilful blend of strong traditional basics with creative modern touches and aesthetics.

Executive Chef Moon Kyung Soo has brought the summer unagi festival "Doyo no Ushi no Hi" that's celebrated in Japan to Singapore. I'll have more on the festival at the end of the post. Eel is most fatty and nutritious during this time. Two menus - lunch and dinner - feature an amazing array of traditionally cooked eel dishes. This promotion runs 20 July to 7 August 2015.

UPDATE 4 Aug: Due to popular demand, the promotion has been extended to 31 August!

Both menus start with the Chef's Seasonal Selection (above) - three kinds of Zensai: Barbecued Eel Jelly, Smoked Salmon Yuzu, Eel Yahata Maki Burdock, Crispy Eel Bone. 

Each one of these deserves slow enjoyment and exploration. The eel jelly is like a savoury custard studded with mushrooms and topped with unagi. Yuzu makes the smoked salmon sing. The hardy burdock has been stewed just right. The eel bone is a deliciously crispy umami stick. We wouldn't need calcium pills if we ate these every day.

Mikuni Eel Special Summer Lunch (S$120)



The five-course lunch is a good deal considering that it's 200g bowl of good unagi plus sashimi that includes otoro and Hokkaido uni. The regular unagi bowl is already S$77 or so. It's plated in one tray, almost bento-like, to make things easier to eat for those who have a limited lunch hour.

The lunch items are also in the dinner menu, but the latter has almost double the dishes, and more premium items too.







Mikuni Eel Special Dinner Menu (S$220)


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Chef's Seasonal Selection (above) - three kinds of Zensai: Barbecued Eel Jelly, Smoked Salmon Yuzu, Eel Yahata Maki Burdock, Crispy Eel Bone. 

The eight course dinner starts with this elegant appetiser.



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Fresh Beancurd Skin, Hokkaido Snow Crab, Mushroom, Yuzu
(Dinner only)

This innocuous little bowl at first resembles our beancurd skin dessert, but it is a potent brew of creamy seafood goodness. Warm, comforting and so very moreish.




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Seasonal Sashimi: Hokkaido Sea Urchin, Aori Ika, Toro, Yellowtail, Sea Bream

Tastes as fresh and sweet as it is pretty.

Here's another look at that otoro...look at the fattiness of the tuna belly.

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Grilled Salted Eel, Abalone, Mikuni Sauce, Wasabi, Daikon
(Dinner only)

Ah, this has the eel done shirayaki style (grilled with just salt, no basting sauce). It tastes a little bit more earthy. The huge abalone shell makes such a gorgeous container, especially with that metallic mizuhiki piece that often decorates kinpu envelopes. And I was very pleased to see the yamamomo (I finally know what this is called) - that berry that looks like a tiny lychee.



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Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Kushikatsu, Black Truffle, Mustard Caviar
(Dinner only)

Some of you may be disappointed to see good wagyu done kushikatsu style but this was still fun to eat. This style of deep-frying panko-coated meat/vegetables is from Osaka. Here we have three large wagyu cubes with differen toppings.

- Black truffle with unagi
- Tonkatsu style with mustard caviar
- Wasabi mayo with ikura and uni

At the corner sits pink sakura salt in the Qi (Chinese) or Ki (Japanese) character.



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Sunomono Moriawase
Eel, Scallop, Shrimp, Ginger Flower, Seaweed, Tomato

After the fatty course of deep-fried wagyu, we clean our palates with a vinegared medley of seafood and pickled vegetables (seaweed and cucumber at the back).

This refreshing combination of "unagi ja kyuri" (eel and cucumber) is sometimes called ujakyu for short. Do not think of yew char kway when you try to say that.





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Mixed Japanese Pickles

This is to go with your unagi rice, which is this beauty...




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Charcoal Grilled Eel on Rice (Sumiyaki Unagi Donburi)

This was a hefty portion. The gently smoky eel is not drenched in sauce, and it isn't too sweet either. Everything down to the pearly beads of rice was so enjoyable. You do sense the fine bones here and there, but don't worry, it all goes down harmlessly.

A small bowl of Kyushu Shijimi Freshwater Clam Miso Soup accompanies the donburi and pickles. You can see it more clearly in the lunch array.



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Kyushu Peach, Raspberry and Peach Ice Cream

Dessert is pleasantly light. We close with Japanese grown peach and ice cream.




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If you like sake, top up S$90 for the sake pairing, which features these four labels.

Top left: Kikuhime B.Y. - nice, crisp and strong
Bottom left: Shinbun - wrapped in newsprint! 
Top right: Ohmine Daiginjou - this one has "cow print" grading system; 
one black patch is the highest grade, two and three are lower
Bottom right: Kamoshibito Kuheiji Betsu Atsurae - take note of this one, 
as Mikuni booked the entire 2013 stock, so it's exclusive here. I can understand why; 
it's amazingly smooth and ethereal, and my favourite of the lot.






Now we didn't just get to eat eel, we got to see and touch some too. It was eye-opening. Their skin is smooth with no scales, just a thick coat of protective slime. These eels have traveled six hours by plane from Japan.


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Doyo no Ushi no Hi (土用の丑の日) is a day dedicated to eating eel. It varies from year to year, depending on the changing of the seasons. No, the name does not mean Eel Eating Day. Actually it's "The Midsummer Day of the Ox"!

Here's how it goes. The Japanese observe 18 days between seasons, called Doyo (土用). The period between summer and autumn - the 18 midsummer days - are the hottest time of the year (typically in July-August).

And in olden Japan, days (日) are named after the 12 zodiac animals - rooster, tiger, ox, etc.

So on the Day of the Ox (丑 or Ushi), people believed it was beneficial to eat things similarly starting with the letter "U" like udon, umeboshi, and naturally - unagi. But for unagi, it's not just a linguistic superstition. The midsummer days are also when the eels carry the most nutrients and fat. If you eat this in summer, you'll reap the vitality gained all through winter.

Eels are packed with protein, calcium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and particularly E (can we say "E is for Eel"?).

There's another tale that says a shop vendor found that eels roasted on day of the Ox were the most delicious. So many fascinating stories.


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I think Chef said unagi (freshwater eel) are slit from the back, whereas anago (sea eel) is slit from the belly. I also read that when the practice of slitting from the back is largely done in Tokyo. It goes back to the days when Tokyo was still Edo (seat of the Shogun's power). Samurai used to converge there, and you know how they are with seppuku (ritual disembowelment). Out of consideration for these samurai customers, the unagi vendors refrained from slitting the unagi from the belly.



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This is the unagi before it is cooked. This is slit from the back. See the white belly in the middle? It sure takes skill to be able to fillet the eel. They choose eels of a certain size, not too large, so that the bones are all edible after cooking. Chef Moon does it Tokyo style - steamed and charcoal-grilled. Folks in Kansai (western side of Japan) just grill it without steaming (apparently more chewy as steaming softens the meat). Next time I visit Japan, I must do this unagi comparison.

Chef Moon also gave us another tip. If an eatery tells you the eel is from Japan, check for the skewer holes at the sides of the fillet. Skewers are needed to keep the meat from curling while grilling. But if the fillet does not have skewer hole marks, it's been cooked in a Salamander, meaning it's pre-cooked eel likely from Thailand or China.

I always learn something fascinating when I come to Mikuni.

Check out my other posts for a tour of the multi-disciplined restaurant, and aspects of sushi preparation:

http://www.camemberu.com/2012/02/winter-robata-at-mikuni-japanese.html

http://www.camemberu.com/2013/04/mikuni-beautiful-food-and-priceless.html

If you have the FAR card, you'll be glad to know the benefits (e.g. 50% off for party of two) is also valid for this summer unagi festival! 


MIKUNI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
Level 3, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Singapore 189650
Tel: +65 6431-6156
Open daily
Lunch: 12:00pm to 2:30pm (Last Order 2.15pm)
Dinner: 6:30pm to 10:30pm (Last Order 10.15pm)
Dress Code: Smart Casual


My warmest thanks to Chef Moon and the Fairmont Singapore team for the invitation and hospitality






 
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