Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sushi Tei turns 15 this September! It's been in Singapore a long time, so it's giving back in a big way. A special anniversary menu of five items has been introduced for September, and ALL (yes, all!) of the nett sales proceeds from this menu will be donated to its two adopted charities (Children's Cancer Foundation and Home Nursing Foundation). They're aiming to raise S$150,000 in the month of September. I think it's a great idea. Feast and do something for charity!
Three of the charity menu items are specially created (Beauty Roll, Tutti-Frutti Roll, and Crunchy Tuna), and two are existing popular dishes (Sashimi Salad and Soft Shell Crab).
Beauty Roll S$14 - avocado, crabmeat, and... *drum roll*... collagen! The transparent jelly-like strip is apparently pure collagen! I have never seen edible collagen before, so this was intriguing. There is no flavour, and the texture is like konnyaku. But the whole roll is very refreshing. Plus, you are contributing to charity when you eat this, so you can be beautiful inside and out!
Tutti Frutti Roll S$12 - mango, honeydew, cucumber, strawberry and avocado. A totally fruit-based sushi roll (apart from the decorative tobiko on top). I had my doubts, but this actually tasted pretty good.
Crunchy Tuna S$9 - deep fried minced tuna roll with chopped garlic topped with flying fish roe and spring onion, served with chili mayonnaise sauce. Many people liked this. I did not take to it immediately, because cooked tuna is often a bit dry. But I guess that's what the chili mayo is for.
Sashimi salad S$9 - certainly a healthy way to enjoy your sashimi.
Soft shell crab S$10 - I don't think I need to explain why this is popular!
Also on-going is Sushi Tei's Fusion Fiesta promotion (until end Sept). They've included Western elements like pasta, tortillas and cheese into Japanese dishes for a twist.
Hiyashi salmon and ikura goma pasta S$14 - I guess this is salmon oyako "parent-and-child" with the salmon and salmon roe, in a lovely cold sesame dressing. The noodle used is pasta instead of ramen, and it works. The pasta has good bite to it too!
Ikasoma pasta - squid ink pasta S$12. Slightly on the salty side, but I found myself enjoying this a lot. The squid is cooked til tender, and not rubbery. The garlic flakes were a big plus.
Pari Pari Ebi and Cheese Roll S$8 - drizzled with cod roe mayo. The mentaiko flavour is quite strong. The prawns were fresh, but I think on the whole, this was a little too greasy for my liking.
Unagi kabayaki tortilla S$6.50 - this seems to be a riceless maki. But even so, the tortilla skin proved too floury and masked the flavours of the fatty unagi.
Shiretoko (6 kinds, S$68) sashimi - tuna belly, yellow tail, sea bream, sea urchin, salmon, swordfish. The otoro (far back) is the creamiest white otoro I've seen in Singapore. The more modest Tokachi (4 kinds, $28) option gives you otoro as well, with salmon, tuna and mekajiki.
Salt ice cream S$3.20 - now this was beautiful. Salty milk on your tongue may not sound like an appetising description, but you just have to try it to know what I mean.
Nanko ume sorbet S$3.20 - I had expected this to taste better. While it was pleasant, it didn't elicit any wow from me.
Wasabi ice cream S$3.20 - I can imagine people cringing at this, but it's worth a try. I don't know how they make it - it's like wasabi, but without the sting. Sweetly milky wasabi. How odd but palatable. All these ice creams are imported from Japan.
These ice balls were really cute. They're like compressed balls of fruit ice. Mango, honeydew, grape and strawberry flavours, I think.
This dorayaki ice cream thing surprised me - it was very addictive. I know, you can probably get this in a supermarket too, but the one they serve is rather nice.
Photo courtey of Sushi Tei (I don't have a wide angle lens!)
Sushi Tei is really expanding! They are now targeting out of town locations. This year they opened a duplex outlet at Tampines 1 and will see another branch at City Square Mall next month. The Paragon restaurant (see first and last photo) has moved to bigger premises, and so will the Holland Village one.
I'm also amazed that the Sushi Tei membership card program has swelled to over 22,000 members! It was only launched in Feb 2008, one and a half years ago. Main benefits are discounts, vouchers and promotions.
Anyway, I like this charity effort, and the charities seem thoughtfully chosen as they cover both kids and the elderly. So this is a good chance to do a good deed via your stomach and your heart! Many thanks to Red Dawn PR and Sushi Tei for the information and invitation. Alternate takes on the food from fellow bloggers/media Beatrice Tan, HungryCow and Lester Chan and Youth.SG.
Outlets in China Square Central, Holland Village, Ngee Ann City, Paragon, Raffles City Shopping Centre, Serangoon Gardens, Vivocity, Thomson Plaza, Playground@Big Splash, West Coast Plaza, Tampines 1 and soon, City Square Mall (click on the link to see addresses, contact numbers and operating hours)
Posted 6:07 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009
We had another wonderful makan session with the folks from Makansutra forum. The August dinner took place at Kam Boat Chinese Cuisine at Shaw Centre (5th floor). It's not immediately an easy place to find if you've never been there, but worth the trip.
This time, we had half a table full of bloggers - Aromacookery, Keropokman and Momo, Hungrycow and myself. Our focus though, was more on food and conversation than photography.
We began the nine-course dinner, indulgently, with Peking duck. Isn't the whole duck beautiful?
This was supremely delicious, some of the best Peking duck I've had in a long while. Crackling skin and good sauce, folded in egg crepes, with cucumber and scallions provided separately.
Deep Fried Seafood Roll in Salad - it may look dry on the outside, but inside you'll find diced seafood in creamy sauce. Greasy but good.
Braised Sharks Fin Sichuan Style. This is really more hot-and-sour soup than anything else. Not all the Makansutra dinners have sharks fin dishes, thankfully.
Deep fried soft shell crabs with oats. Oh, what a glorious sight! I love deep-fried food, so I had no problem enjoying these. The best parts are the crispy bits.
The soft shell crab pieces were tasty too. But I was sad to see the waitress whisk away my plate that still had crispy crumbs on it (too embarrassed to say, "No, I still want these!").
Stir Fried Sea Asparagus & Asparagus in Black Pepper Sauce - no, you're not seeing double. Sea asparagus, the whitish stems above, are a kind of shellfish that resembles the vegetable. First time I'm eating this. This restaurant used a light-handed black pepper sauce that allowed the natural sweetness of the ingredients to take centrestage.
Deep Fried Soon Hock with Special Sauce - this was gooood. Crispy fish, what's not to like? It was fresh too - no muddy taste.
Deep Fried Chicken with coffee and sliced almond - these chicken pieces were fried almost crisp, with a deeply caramelized surface. The tinge of bitterness from the coffee balanced the sweetness of the dish.
Shredded Duck Meat with Egg Noodles - the meat from the Peking Duck were braised with noodles. Fairly light-tasting since it's not fried, but I wished the noodles had more bite to them.
Custard Bun with Sesame Paste - probably the only letdown of the evening. Salted egg yolk buns are normally fantastic, but I don't think the black sesame works here. Or maybe I just wanted more salted egg yolk!
This was cute - a semi-ostentatious touch in the form of a gold platter for your moist towelette. I guess with a name like Kam Boat (Golden Dragon Boat), you just have to lay it on!
Well, our table had a blast. We feasted, joked and chatted til it was midnight, and didn't realise the time. It's most fun when friends get together to eat. I'm looking forward to the next dinner. I see cold crab and curry crab on the menu. These dinners are always a good deal for $40. Anyone is welcome to join!
Check out Keropokman's photos and review here.
KAM BOAT CHINESE CUISINE
1 Scotts Road
#05-13 Shaw Centre
Open Daily: 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm
Posted 12:49 AM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Much has been said about Zento, the contemporary Japanese restaurant helmed by Chef Gunawan Wibisono, who trained for a year under Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Many rave about Zento's reinvigorating take on Japanese food, using unusual ingredients and cooking techniques.
The Tuna Pizza (S$22), for example, uses a crisp tortilla as a base. It's topped with spicy tuna (made spicy by a mayo-based sauce), cilantro, tomatoes and sweetish hiyashi wakame (cold seaweed). As a snack, it's light and tasty. If you like skinny pizzas, this might appeal to you too.
Rock Shrimp Tempura (S$15), served with spicy kochujan aioli. Some Asians may find the spicy sauce too familiar, but I totally loved this Nobu-inspired dish. The rock shrimp are small but sweet like lobsters. They're imported from Japan, if I remember correctly.
Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallop (S$25) - topped with ginger, garlic, yuzu sauce, mitsuba leaf, and doused liberally with hot grapeseed oil. The thinly sliced scallops are effectively half-cooked using this method. The savoury and gently tangy sauces bring out the sweetness of the scallops.
Toppings Sushi, not on the menu, is about S$30. This is one of those "hidden" chef specials you can ask for. Zento is experimenting with various premium toppings. Here, we have (front to back, in the order that they are to be eaten) grilled foie gras, aburi salmon belly with tomato, and wagyu beef. The salmon belly is my favourite - so creamy and rich, it will bring you to nirvana (at least for a few moments).
Soy Paper Handrolls - Crunchy Spicy Tuna with Avocado (S$12 each). Soy paper is something we have just never seen in Singapore. It's soft yet strong, chewy yet quickly solvent. The taste calls to mind "yuba" or sheets of beancurd skim (well it's soy, after all). The crunchy bits you see are specially prepared fried tempura batter. They provide most of the structure in these rolls.
Voila! This is what Zento is most famous for. Creatively delicious sushi rolls, five of them on one plate. We immediately dubbed this the "happiness platter"! (Note: they don't normally serve sushi rolls this way, this is just a spur of the moment decision to group all the rolls together).
Right in the middle is the Volcano futomaki (S$25). Shrimp tempura, smoked salmon, avocado, crabstick and masago in one deep-fried fat roll drizzled with mayo. Sounds sinful? Mmmh.
Flanking the Volcano roll is the Dragon Roll (S$22) - crunchy spicy tuna, eel, avocado and tobiko. Yet another luxurious roll, given its rich ingredients.
On the other end of the spectrum, a very healthy Mango Sashimi Riceless Maki (S$25, quarter portion shown). Three kinds of fish get into bed with mango and avocado, and the ensemble is wrapped with rice paper. Like a Vietnamese roll. The fish is really fresh, and the roll looks so bright and colourful, but it is the most bland of all presented. Well, at least it's low-carb.
Close-ups of the Monkey Roll (left) and Dragon Roll (right). The Monkey Roll (S$25) is made of a spicy shrimp tempura topped with smoked salmon and avocado.
Yes, you are seeing a lot of common ingredients. That's something to take note of when choosing your rolls so you don't end up with items that taste too similar. There are other rolls with more unusual ingredients like asparagus, romaine heart, Alaskan crab, cream cheese, and plum paste. The Kanpachi Sotomaki even features jalapeno (listed as green chili in the menu).
The wasabi for the rolls is not the freshly grated type (you get that for sashimi and sushi). Dyana the Managing Director (and the chef's wife) explains that it's because the rolls use stronger-tasting ingredients, so wasabi paste will be more perceptible.
And what's the best roll of the lot? Personally for me, it was the Wagyu Beef sushi roll (S$30, half portion shown) - shrimp tempura topped with a slice of grilled wagyu beef and Gruyere cheese. One of my top favourites here, along with the rock shrimp tempura and salmon belly topping sushi.
See the yellow pickled ginger? It's made inhouse. They brew their own soy sauce too.
Roasted Marinated Duck Breast, Zento's Style (S$48), served with foie gras and baby bokchoy and garlic rice. I'm not a fan of duck, but this was tender and well-marinated.
Chilean Seabass, miso marinated and served with sauteed mushrooms and mashed green peas (S$45). The fish is beautifully buttery, with just a hint of miso.
As you can see from the blurry photo, we took really hurried shots for the Chocolate Lava Cake (S$16). We wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Wow, this was good. The melted chocolate centre oozed out as it should. I would eat this again.
OK. I'm a kid. I love ice cream. I love deep-fried stuff. So deep-fried ice cream could not go wrong with me. Tri-color Fuzzes Bomb (S$14). I detected a vanilla ginger sauce too, drizzled over the fried batter - a nice touch.
Zento is clearly not "just another Japanese restaurant". Even its decor is trendy modern chic. It's a good place to consider if you're jaded by traditional Japanese food, or if you like the American interpretation of sushi with liberal use of sauces and some deep-frying.
Dyana admits customers feel prices are a little on the high side, which I find to be true as well. But she explains Zento places great emphasis on fresh, quality ingredients and good produce doesn't come cheap. For example, the fish used in the sushi rolls are of the same top quality fish used for sashimi. It's not the unpresentable odds and ends that some chefs chop up and offload inside the rolls.
I really like the name "Zento" - it corresponds with the Chinese words "qian tu" meaning one's future. I sure hope Zento's future will be as bright and colourful as its creations.
They now have a 9-course Family Lunch (S$150++) and 12-course Family Dinner ($220++). Ladies Night is Tuesdays, where you get a 5-course menu with glass of champagne. Set lunches are also available ranging from S$18-55. They do delivery too! But then again food like sashimi and sushi is best eaten fresly prepared, or not at all.
Read about Chef Gunawan's interesting climb to success in Jaime Ee's Business Times article. For more blogger photos and reviews, check out ieatishootipost's review and Ladyironchef's review. Thanks to Dyana for hosting us (HungryCow and Aromacookery were there too).
ZENTO CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE CUISINE
Blk 18b Dempsey Road
Tel: 6474 0378
Lunch 12.00 pm - 3.00 pm
Sunday - Thursday 6.00 pm - 10.00 pm
Friday - Saturday 6.00 pm - 11.00 pm
Posted 1:07 AM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
OK. EPIC FAIL.
Hahaha, my first time making cupcakes. I could not resist it when a friend showed me this recipe from Baking Bites. I mean, who can say no to "Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes"? It's adapted from a Donna Hay recipe (originally using peanut butter). Baking Bites reduced the amount of butter, but the recipe still yielded extravagantly buttery cupcakes. I also got too greedy with the Nutella, which turns out achingly sweet when baked.
I decided to boldly slash the amount of butter in a second batch. Less Nutella, and I also experimented with some cupcakes using chunky peanut butter, and some that are just plain unadorned.
These turned out less heavy but were still a bit too dense and crumbly.
This is my revised recipe - maybe baking experts can advise me on how to get softer and fluffier cupcakes. I think next time I'll try something from Martha Stewart instead.
NUTELLA FROSTED CUPCAKES - with Less Butter
100 grams softened butter (reduced from 140g)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
200 grams (about 1.75 cups) sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Nutella or Peanut Butter
Preheat oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the batter doesn’t look smooth. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.
Fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full. Top each cake with 1 tsp Nutella. Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the nutella.
Bake for 20 minutes. (Somehow I needed 5 mins more for the batch that has less butter).
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12.
Posted 2:32 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Can you smell the weekend? Brunch by the sea.... warm sunshine dancing on your cheeks.... soft sand kissing your toes... cool waters... suntan lotion. Most of all, good company and a good book (or perhaps a kayak for the more actively inclined). This is the life!
We brought the whole family to the beach at Sentosa recently, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It's been years since I last set foot on Sentosa island. It's really changed. I like the upgrades and new additions there (many more to come in 2010 - the Universal Studios rollercoaster looks awesome already!).
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to the indulgent brunch by the sea. Club Islander, the beach bar at Palawan Beach, recently introduced their a la carte weekend brunch (roughly between 10am and 2pm).
The beach bar itself is casual, unpretentious and simple. You can chill out with drinks, sitting at the many lounge chairs shaded by bright orange beach umbrellas. Or enjoy the view from the sheltered boardwalk with chairs and tables.
You have quite a few choices from the brunch menu (in pdf format here). Honestly, this is one of the very few times when the actual food served looks better than what's pictured on the menu!
Eggs Benedict on Toasted English Muffin (S$12.50++), topped with Hollandaise sauce. The soft runny eggs are comforting - I am beginning to understand why people love this dish, though I normally dislike runny eggs. The chicken patty under the eggs may not be the ideal accompaniment, but I guess they refrain from using ham or pork products here.
Beef Steak Open Sandwich (S$19.50++) which hubby really enjoyed. I have to say their presentation is very good. Notice the little side salad that comes with every dish? It's got truffle oil in it! How's that for a little touch of luxe?
Club Islander Brunch Platter (S$19.50++) - the big breakfast. You get waffles, scrambled eggs, chicken sausages, panfried mushrooms, a chicken patty, and yes, the side salad.
You may have noticed by now that the prices seem to be a little on the high side. But these dishes are all freshly prepared a la minute, and not slapped together from pre-prepared warmers. I also met Chef Kenny Yeo who is behind these menus. He trained overseas before joining Sentosa's F&B operations.
I have to show you the waffles again. They're done just the way I like them: really caramelised and crispy! Pour on some honey and slather on some butter, and you have a most yummy dessert! There's an option separately for a full waffle (S$6.50++ with unsalted butter and honey; $8.50++ with ice cream).
Kids are not forgotten at Club Islander. The beach draws a lot of families, so you'll find kids' meals here. The Chicky Muffin Meal (S$6.90++) gets you a chicken patty on toasted english muffin, watermelon slices, and a cup of orange juice.
The Wacky Waffles Meal (S$6.90++) lets kids enjoy waffles with honey and butter, watermelon slices, and orange juice. Jolie happily drank both cups of juice since Nadine does not like sweet stuff.
Club Islander has beachside BBQ dinners too, from time to time!
The kids absolutely loved the freshwater fountain feature next to Club Islander. We could not get them to leave! Nadine and Jolie also got their first taste of being in the sea. The salty water was an eye-opening experience for them!
With so much to look forward to, we'll be coming back regularly for more. I'm seriously considering the Islander membership which gives you free entry, bus/train rides, retail and F&B discounts, special promotions and events year-round.
Thanks to Sentosa Leisure Group for the invite, and to Eudora for hosting us! Check out Sparklette's post too, on the same brunch.
72 Palawan Beach Walk
Tel: 6279 3267
Posted 3:28 AM