Saturday, February 6, 2016


Gong Xi Fa Cai! One more contest giveaway to ring in the lunar new year.

Music is a big thing in my family, so we love instruments and sound equipment. Food for the ears, you could say.

I recently got to review the a waterproof Bluetooth speaker from Awavez, a Singapore-based company specialising in rugged gadgets and accessories.



This thing really floats in water! It's not often I see a waterproof, shockproof, drop-proof portable speaker that is built to withstand military standard outdoor activities. The tough silicon casing sure looks industrial grade. This is the thing you want to bring on your sporty adventures - hiking, cycling, kayaking - or simply to amp up any beach or pool party. It might even come in useful to play music in your bathroom.

The speaker is rated IPX7 which means it can endure water exposure of up to 1m depth for up to 30 minutes. But don't try to take it deep sea diving, ok? The whales need to sleep.




The sound is decent, with substantial volume. It charges fully on three hours, for a full eight hour playback duration. It's not only Bluetooth enabled but also NFC ready(Android folks, you can use this instead of Bluetooth to save some battery). It can also take a micro-SD card, microphone or auxiliary input.

The speaker is available online at S$160 with standard six months warranty. Add S$20 for an extra six months warranty (full year).

Special Offer for Readers
Awavez has kindly extended a special offer - use the code "CAMEMBERU" (not case sensitive) and get S$20 off the speaker, PLUS their iPhone 6/6s waterproof shockproof casing worth S$140 for free! This rugged handphone casing can go up to 8m deep in water and allows you full access to all the buttons, camera, flash, Touch ID etc. The iPhone can become your underwater camera!

Code is valid until 29 February 2016.
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Contest Giveaway
Awavez has a pair of Bluetooth speakers to give away as well. All you have to do is: Share this post (make it public so I can see it, please) on social media, tag me where possible, and tell me what IPX7 means in your post. You can also join in via the links below:

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Camemberu.Blog/posts/1025285580860917

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BBcoVswuukU/?taken-by=camemberu

I will prefer to award the prizes to genuine folks who aren't contest junkies (i.e. profiles full of contest entries).

Deadline: Friday, 12 Feb 2016 at 23:59hrs

Winners will be notified via email or social media.

Here's wishing you the very best for the Year of the Monkey ahead!




Thursday, February 4, 2016


Oooh the golden lava oozing out of a perfectly crisp croissant - you've seen it all over social media by now. Antoinette at Penhas on 1 Feb launched its Salted Egg Yolk Lava Croissant. All 300 croissants sold out within an hour, and there were queues as early as 8:30am the next few days for the decadent viennoiserie.


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Chef Pang Kok Keong who is a fan of salted egg yolks and "liu sha bao" says this decadent creation was meant to come together. He's fine-tuned the recipe to feature a smooth and creamy filling.

Personally I wouldn't have minded a more gritty texture, with tiny beads of savoury egg yolk bursting in your mouth to complement the sweetness of the custard. Chef Pang himself also likes the gritty bits. But I think most folks prefer a silky smooth experience.




There are certainly no compromises here - Chef Pang uses real salted egg yolks (with milk and sugar) rather than powdered shortcuts. The filling is painstakingly hand-sieved to achieve the smooth consistency. The result is a richly satisfying but not too satiating (jelak) experience.


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This is a large croissant, and we learned that three egg yolks go into the filling for each of these. We joked that each of these has to be 2,000 calories! But yum, some calories are to die for.

Chef Pang's croissant itself is exquisite. He uses traditional French methods of laminating high quality French butter and dough. The laminated dough is then shaped in a temperature controlled environment at 12 degrees Celsius, to create the crispy and flaky crust. Just look at the beautiful layering.

I am still wondering if a croissant can be made with the salted egg yolk worked into the butter and between the layers. But the layers would probably collapse or not turn out as flaky and light.

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On a side note, I also had the pleasure of trying Chef Pang's homemade kaya (not a regular menu item, needs to be pre-ordered) and it is DIVINE! It's like if kaya was a fairy - it's like an ethereal whipped custard. This would be great with plain croissants too, maybe as a chilled spread, not baked within as a filling. Hmm, what else could work as a filling? Matcha latte? Cookies and cream? Sambal belachan? Ooh I'd totally buy a spicy croissant...but that's just me.

The Salted Egg Yolk Lava Croissants are available at Antoinette for S$6.50 each for dine-in or takeaway (please just eat it right away while it's still warm) at these outlets:
- Antoinette's Penhas outlet from 1st Feb 2016 at 11 am daily.
- Antoinette's Mandarin Gallery and Softel So Singapore outlets from 10th Feb 2016 at 1 pm daily.


ANTOINETTE
Facebook: www.facebook.com/antoinette.sg
Instagram: antoinette_sg

Antoinette Penhas Road 
30 Penhas Road (off Lavender Street)
Singapore 208188
Tel: +65 6293 3121
Open Monday to Thursday – 11am to 10pm
Friday and Eve of Public Holidays – 11am to 11pm
Saturday – 10am to 11pm
Sunday and Public Holidays – 10am to 10pm

Antoinette Mandarin Gallery 
333A Orchard Road
Mandarin Gallery
#02-33/34
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6836 9527
Open daily 11am to 10pm daily
(No reservations)

Antoinette Softel So Singapore
Lobby Level
35 Robinson Road
Singapore 068876
Tel: +65 6701 6868
Open daily 8am to 10pm





Many thanks to Chef Pang and team for the preview of the salted egg yolk croissant!

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Made in Singapore cold pressed virgin coconut oil from CoconutForGood.com!

Wait, what? Virgin? Cold Pressed? Is coconut oil like olive oil? Well, turns out there's a lot more to how coconut oil is processed (link goes to very informative piece; Foodrenegade has another good one). Virgin generally means it's extracted from raw coconut meat, not copra; it's usually not refined, bleached, or deodorised. Cold-pressed means it's mechanically pressed at temperatures not exceeding 120 deg F or 49 deg C to preserve its health benefits -- but there have been studies that show heat doesn't degrade the oil. Hey coconut oil does have a high smoke point, which is why it's great for cooking!

Anyway, if you've been following health trends, you'll have seen the popularity of coconut oil resurging in the past decade. Angelina Jolie famously starts her day with a spoonful of it. Gwyneth Paltrow uses it on her skin and in her cooking. You can see how other celebrities use it in so many ways.


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But isn't coconut oil and its high saturated fat content bad for you? No. Like butter, coconut oil went through undeserved vilification last century. These days we know that the saturated fats in coconuts are mainly Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Lauric acid, the main MCT in coconut oil, has antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and immune-boosting effects when consumed. Also, some of those demonising studies used hydrogenated coconut oil instead of virgin coconut oil. We know now just how bad hydrogenated oils are.


Here are 10 more proven health benefits of coconut oil:
http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/




So back to CoconutForGood.com. This is true cold-pressed coconut oil made in Singapore using modern technology in a pharmaceutical grade facility. These passionate coconut artisans support small farm holdings and source for coconuts from those practising sustainable farming methods.


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The coconut oil is so pure and clear, my girls thought it was water in the bottles. It's amazingly light and doesn't have a strong toasted coconut scent like some of the coconut oil processed in the Philippines and Thailand. So if you want a clean-tasting beneficial oil without a dominating coconut smell, this cold-pressed oil is one to consider.

It's "No Additives, No Heat" (NANH): No solvents, sanitizer residue, enhancers
or improvers. I tried to find out more about how they do it, but the process they use is proprietary. Trade secret cannot tell!

Well, no matter what, the CoconutForGood oil really is smoother and lighter. I tried it on my hair and it was a lot more pleasant and easily absorbed than the cheap coconut oil sold at Indian shops. The latter is a lot more viscous and left my hair feeling greasy and still dry/damaged at the same time. Well, no more Parachute brand for me! Now I just need a pump bottle to put the CoconutForGood oil into, for easier dispensing.

Oh, and I found one often quoted study: women who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil a day over 12 weeks did not put on weight but reduced abdominal fat (yes, that stubborn belly fat which also contributes to heart problems). That's the best news to me!

The CoconutForGood festive twin pack of two 385ml bottles goes for S$38 but you get S$6 off with my code "CAMEMBERU".




Friday, January 29, 2016



What a gorgeous basket of goodies for Chinese New Year! The year of the monkey is extra special for Tai Sun. It turns 50 years old this year (hey, just a year shy of SG50) and on top of that, its founder Madam Han Yew Lang will celebrate her 80th birthday!

It's a story of humble beginnings - Madam Han and her late husband Mr Lim Jit Syong started frying peanuts in their kitchen in the early 60s. Their children helped to modernise the production, and today Tai Sun is in the hands of the 3rd generation who are refreshing the brand and adding new product lines.

I learned some interesting things from Madam Han's grand-daughter Esther Loo, Marketing Manager of Tai Sun.

Tai Sun popularised the serving of peanuts at Chinese restaurants: in the 60s, bars were one of Tai Sun's biggest customers. Eating peanuts made the patrons drink more beer. Lim Jit Syong took the idea to restaurants which began to serve them as appetisers.

Tai Sun's unsold CNY goodies go to shelters and homes for the needy: every year, unsold CNY goodies under Tai Sun's NOYA brand (these keep well for up to a month after) are donated to homes and non-profit organisations.

Cashews are Tai Sun's bestselling nut: wow, the cashew is king! Tai Sun sells more cashews than any other nut.




I also didn't know that they owned the NOYA range of cookies. These are pretty good; I had not tried them before this. The pineapple tarts have such generous toppings, and the almond cookies are addictive.


NOYA Almond Delights, 300g, S$11.60
NOYA Pineapple Tarts (open face), 450g, S$11.60

The other items shown above include:
Ah Ma Traditional Love Letters (sesame), 400g, S$12.30
Tai Sun Premium Collection Prawn Rolls, 280g, S$8.95
Nature's Wonders Macadamias, 380g, S$21.30
Nature's Wonders Baked Cashews with Almonds Mix, 400g, S$12.90
California Pistachios, 500g, S$14.20
Tai Sun Assorted Nuts (Eight Treasures), 450g, S$9.95




My favourite items from them are still the Nature's Wonders series.
http://www.camemberu.com/2012/08/natures-wonders-healthy-snacking-made.html


Nature's Wonders has a range of healthy snacks, most of which are baked nuts, not fried

Ever since I discovered them in 2012, I just kept buying these. They just taste fresher and better. You know how some packaged nuts have that slightly rancid or odd processed taste? For me, Nature's Wonders are usually a safe bet (I don't know where they are sourced but they seem better from Tai Sun's other nuts actually).

Happy snacking for CNY!




Many thanks to Tai Sun for sending the CNY gift pack.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Man Fu Yuan is rolling out serious goodies in its lunar new year prosperity set menus from 18 January to 22 February 2016, crafted by Executive Chinese Chef Kwan Yiu Kan and his team.

First up - yusheng!


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Yusheng with Crispy Monkey Head Mushrooms, Prosperity Flakes and Peach Dressing 金箔蟠桃酱 鰤 鱼生捞起
It's auspicious to toss for good luck, and this year we literally get to monkey around. The artfully laid out yusheng transports us into a peach orchard with crispy monkey head mushrooms, real peach slices and gold-crusted corn flakes. The yusheng is available at $118 for Large but this one above is probably XXXXXL!



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InterContinental Singapore's Executive Chef Eric Neo (right) and his assistant made an ice cream like dressing using liquid nitrogen. It really made it look like a garden in the heavenly clouds.



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Huat ah! This year we are so neat! Everything goes to the middle of the long table. I heard last year the yusheng flew everywhere on the big round table.




After that, we got to try a selection of dishes that are found across the CNY menus.


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Australian Lobster and Geoduck Sashimi with Freshly Grated Wasabi and Bonito Shoyu

Forget the pedestrian salmon sashimi. It's Chinese New Year! Celebrate with lobster and geoduck. These were really fresh, and I can imagine they'd be excellent cooked as well.



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Doubled Boiled Sakura Chicken Soup with Bird's Nest, Fish Maw, Abalone and Black Truffles
Sorry my photo doesn't do it justice, but this is a delightfully comforting dish, so I'm showing the hotel photo as well. This luxurious soup is also available as a takeaway (S$408, serves five).

Man Fu Yuan also shared with us how to replicate this easily at home; the recipe is here:

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/easy-cny-recipe-chicken-soup-090038877.html

and also here:

http://www.makansutra.com/stories/6/1546/EasyCNYRecipeChickenSoupwithBird%E2%80%99sNestFishMawAbaloneandBlackTruffles



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Braised Australian Green Lip Abalone and Chinese Mushrooms with Spiky Sea Cucumber and Seasonal Vegetables
This dish features the much beloved abalone and sea cucumber braised in a rich sauce, complementing the vegetables (in this case, baby bok choi or milk cabbage).




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Alaskan King Crab in Chinese Rice Wine with Chicken Oil and Crispy Pork Lard 
Simply incredible. Crispy pork lard and Chinese rice wine is such a potent combination, elevating the seafood richness of the king crab to heavenly dimensions.




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Man Fu Yuan Treasure Pot
This is a festive array of 18 prized ingredients: Whole Baby Abalone, Spiky Sea Cucumber, Fish Maw, Canadian Lobster, Goose Web, Roasted Duck, Quail, Dried Oyster, Pig’s Trotter, Scallops, Prawns, Sea Whelk, Flower Mushrooms, Cabbage, Bean Curd Skin, Fried Yam, Sea Moss, Preserved Meat and Liver Sausages

Is there such a thing as too much goodness?


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You get the claypot too, if you do the takeaway (S$388, serves five). Look at the cute monkey on the peach tree decorating the side. Apparently each year they feature the zodiac animal, so you have 12 to collect! (Thanks Ee Jin for being the exquisite hand model!)



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Barbecued Whole Suckling Pig with Wok Fried Glutinous Rice and Goose Liver Sausage 大 红 乳猪 酿糯 米 饭  (S$388 takeaway, serves 5)
Possibly my pick for the best dish (close tie with the Alaskan king crab) among the highlights. I have not tried the famous suckling pig stuffed with glutinous rice at Kimberley Hotel Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong, but this version is near divine.



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First you get the (ultra satisfying) audible crunch from the thin pork crackling, and then tender meat embracing fried glutinous rice that's bursting with flavour. I want some more...




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Double Boiled Superior Bird's Nest with Julienned Young Coconut
My favourite dessert! Succulent young coconut with enough bird's nest to make you put your SK-II away for a few days.



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The warm dessert assortment included Golden Egg Custard Pastry, Scented Osmanthus Nian Gao with Shandong Premium Red Dates, Cream of Almond and Sesame Dumpling coated with Ground Peanuts.

Man Fu Yuan has several CNY set menus featuring the dishes above:
Deluxe Treasure Set ($688++) for 5 persons.
Premium 8 Course Set ($2088++) for 10 persons.
5 and 6 course sets from $108++ to $328++ per person.

Some of these are also available separately as takeaway items. The prices and order form are online too.

For reservations and enquiries, please contact Man Fu Yuan at +65 6820 8519/20 or email sinhb-festive@ihg.com



MAN FU YUAN

InterContinental Singapore
Level 2
80 Middle Road
Singapore 188966
Tel: +65 68251059
Open daily 11:45am - 3:30pm, 6:30pm - 10:30pm





Thanks to InterContinental Singapore for the invitation

Saturday, January 23, 2016



What are you cooking for Chinese New Year? 

I have a media pack of five Lee Kum Kee items: Premium Brand Oyster Sauce, Premium Light Soya Sauce, Seafood XO Sauce, the Spare Ribs and Cod Fillet Sauces.

The Seafood XO sauce (220g) is new from Lee Kum Kee, joining the signature XO Sauce line-up. Singapore is the only market that offers this product in SEA at the moment. Made from dried scallops, dried shrimps, chilies and fragrant spices, it should serve well as an all-purpose sauce for stir-frying or as a dipping sauce.




Giveaway

I have three sets of the Lee Kum Kee CNY gift packs to give out. 

Here's how you can win one:

Via my Facebook fan page post
Or via resharing my Instagram post 

Or share this post on your social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,  Google+ etc. You can use the AddThis share buttons below. Tag me @camemberu so I can see your post, and tell us what dish you plan to cook for CNY that would involve a Lee Kum Kee product. 

Deadline is noon, 28 January 2015. I will pick a winner by next Thursday, so you guys can receive this from Lee Kum Kee before CNY! Happy sharing! 








Many thanks to Lee Kum Kee for the gift packs!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

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I love hotel breakfasts. Normally I don't take much food in the mornings, but I will happily indulge when there's a nice hotel breakfast buffet.



Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

Grand Park Otaru has five F&B outlets. The all-day dining and breakfast is served at the Terrace Brasserie which commands impressive views of the marina and Ishikari Bay. The place is bathed in natural light in the daytime, and romantic lighting at night.



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As for breakfast, there's enough variety in terms of items. Right up front you have various types of fish grilled hot on the spot.



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There were about five kinds of lightly grilled fish and seafood - herring, mackerel, salmon, salted cod, and squid.

They also had a giant bowl of shiokara (salty squid guts) but I didn't try that.






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It's easy to have a healthy meal here. Pick from the salad offerings to create your own platter of greens (first photo).



I really enjoy a good Japanese breakfast.


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I love the festive look of this salmon and roe chirashi bowl.


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There's plenty of Western options too: pancakes, bacon, sausages, hash, stews, breads and pastries.




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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

For lunch there is another buffet. Or you can go for the a la carte dishes (served between 11am to 8:30pm). They actually have Hainanese chicken rice (¥1,500)!



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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

The Seasonal Dinner Buffet (available Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) is a pretty grand affair. There are live stations preparing seasonal specialties.
For adults: ¥3,500 until 31 Jan; ¥3,980 from 1 Feb to 31 May
For children: ¥1,600 until 31 Jan; ¥1,980 from 1 Feb to 31 May
Children aged six and below dine free




Marina Bar & Restaurant

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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

If you prefer dinner in a more intimate and romantic setting, try the Marina Bar and Restaurant. This is where you can enjoy fine wines, Hokkaido premium whiskeys and house cocktails, concocted by award winning mixologists. I didn't see it for myself, as I had kids with me and didn't want to disturb the other diners there, but it sure looks nice from the photo.


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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

From 5pm (last order 8:30pm), they have a Wagyu Shabu-shabu dinner set (¥4,500 per person) that's ideal for 2 diners or more. I love swishing thin slices of wagyu in a hot broth; it takes just a few seconds and is so tasty.



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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

Wagyu Sukiyaki is also available at the same price for those who love dipping hot slices of beef in raw egg. Prior reservation before 7:30pm is required for the wagyu shabu-shabu and sukiyaki dinners.



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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

The restaurant also offers an Italian Set Dinner (¥3,700) showcasing cuisine from different regions of Italy.


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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

The Sushi and Western Set Dinner (¥3,700) should please those who want a bit of both worlds.




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Photo courtesy of Grand Park Otaru

Aside from these, you also have the choice of dining at Cocoro (a play on the word こころ or "kokoro" meaning heart in Japanese). This is an upscale teppanyaki joint, where you can watch the chefs perform as they cook.


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The last two F&B outlets are the Bay Lounge and the Patisserie for pastries, desserts and breads.

So I guess no one will go hungry at the Grand Park Otaru. There are plenty of F&B options here. Check out my other posts on Otaru as well!

http://www.camemberu.com/2016/01/grand-park-otaru-hotel-in-hokkaido-japan.html
http://www.camemberu.com/2016/01/around-grand-park-otaru-hotel-wingbay.html
http://www.camemberu.com/2016/01/attractions-in-otaru-hokkaido-japan.html
http://www.camemberu.com/2016/01/kiroro-snow-world-great-ski-resort-near.html





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