Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Day to Vote and Win 3D2N Trip to HK for 2!

Photo from Omy.

Today's the last day for a chance to win a 3D2N trip for two to Hong Kong, courtesy of the HKTB. Hop on over to the website and vote your favourite blogger (anyone will do!)

I still have one more post on Hong Kong, which I will publish later today. It's on one of the best meals we've had in Hong Kong, at Margaret Xu's private kitchen Yin Yang. She also gave us a great recipe for a killer green chili dip!

Meanwhile, GOOD LUCK, and enjoy Hong Kong, whoever wins! :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Local Breakfasts - An Imprints Post

This post is my first for Yesterday.sg's Imprint series which looks at all things memorable from our childhood to old-school things still revered today. To start things off - what breakfasts did you grow up with?

Putu Mayam
Putu mayam
Putu mayam, the South Indian dish of steamed rice flour vermicelli scented with pandan, and served with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. Back in the old days, the sugar for putu mayam was dark brown, like gula Melaka shavings. I reckon it yielded also a richer and more complex sweetness. Today it's this bright orange powdery sugar.

Nasi lemak
You can choose your nasi lemak toppings - here, fried chicken wing, ikan kuning and omelette (all in only S$3.50!)
Nasi lemak is a fond favourite of all races in Singapore. Fragrant coconut rice with spicy sambal chili, fried anchovies and peanuts, a fried egg or omelette, slices of cucumber are the must-have basics. For a more luxurious dish, you can include more toppings like fried chicken wings, otak-otak, fried ikan kuning, or sambal achar. It's long been one of the most convenient "takeaway" food, wrapped in banana leaves (not only does it infuse some flavour, but it is environmentally friendly and biodegradable).


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pizza Hut's Parchment Pasta

En papillote. Al cartoccio. In parchment. Whatever you call it, this is possibly one of the most dramatic ways to serve pasta. Pizza Hut today introduced two new pastas “cooked in paper”. There’s “Spicy Seafood Parchment Pasta” (S$12.90) and “Char-grilled Chicken Parchment Pasta” (S$11.90) - both of which are baked in parchment paper at the final stage to allow the pasta to absorb flavours of the sauce and ingredients.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

HK: Law Fu Kee Congee and Noodle Specialist 羅富記粥麵專家

Congee with Pig's Liver and Fish Slices
Congee is soul food. It really is. Even a small sip of well-boiled rice gruel can bring warmth to the body and joy to weary spirit.

I'm actually not a big fan of congee, because all too often, the ones I get are less than satisfactory. So it's really wonderful when I come across congee that's made the way it really ought to be. This one is probably one of the best I've ever had.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

HK: Hong Kong Old Restaurant - Flavours of Shanghai, Yangzhou and Sichuan

Hong Kong Old Restaurant has a vibrant, welcoming vibe
After the Dragonboat Carnival, we regrouped for dinner at Hong Kong Old Restaurant at Miramar Shopping Centre, just across our hotel. Another wonderful recommendation by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. I liked it the minute I stepped in. It had such a warm, convivial and cheery vibe. There's gotta be some good food here to generate that kind of positive energy!

The "Old" in it refers to old money, according to our HK guide Rosanna. This very traditional restaurant was started by wealthy Shanghainese who migrated to Hong Kong. Not only would it provide them with hometown food, but also a place to discuss business.

I love the pickled vegetables
I always love these pickled vegetables - sweet, tangy and crunchy!

Our set menu for twelve
The HKTB arranged for us this dinner set menu for 12 pax. I can't read half the things here but I'm excited!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

HK: Dragonboat Carnival 2010 - The Capsize!

Dragonboats heading back to the startline
After fueling up on breakfasts, we headed to the Dragonboat Carnival at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade. The three-day event was culminating that Sunday. The carnival saw 12 countries and 191 teams participating this year.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

HK: Two Local Breakfasts - Macau Restaurant and Tsui Wah Restaurant

Why did we eat two breakfasts in one day?

Well, it was the day for us to go to the Dragonboat Carnival! Something that requires epic effort and great fueling up prior to the event, obviously!

Macau Restaurant at Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui

OK, fine, we're not in the actual race proper, except for a "Bathtub Race" for four bloggers. But some of us just woke up early, and decided to start the day right - with FOOD. Never mind that the digital weighing machine told me I was already 1.5kg heavier from yesterday's multiple meals. We ventured out of the hotel and explored the surroundings.

We walked into Macau Restaurant (25-27 Lock Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; tel: +852 2366-8148), in a rather random fashion, but maybe our troop leader Alvin knew a thing or two. The food turned out to be pretty good.

Macanese crispy roll with pork chop and scrambled eggs
Macanese crispy roll with pork chop and scrambled eggs (HK$25, comes with coffee/tea). I never knew how tasty the Macau rolls were until now. The pork chop is thin but tender, juicy and well-marinated. A worthy challenger to the SME (Sausage McMuffin with Egg).


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HK: The Merry-making on The Bounty

This is a full-size replica of the HMAV Bounty
The mutiny on the Bounty has got to be one of the most famous in naval history.

This life-size replica of the original H.M.A.V. Bounty was made in 1978 for the Dino de Laurentiis movie "The Bounty" (released 1983). It stars a brilliantly brusque Anthony Hopkins as Captain William Bligh, and Mel Gibson as Christian Fletcher, his so-called friend who would lead the mutiny against him.

Waiting to board, with great anticipation
Is this really the boat where the filming took place? We were going to have dinner on it!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

HK: Checking out "Aunty Sweet" 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau, where locals go for dessert

Tin Hau is less commercial than Causeway Bay
After Mak's Noodles, I went to meet up with two old friends, Janet and Walter, whom I had not seen in more than four years. When they heard I had already had dim sum, grilled lamb rib, curry beef brisket, and wantan noodles...the only sane option left was dessert! At first, we headed to Times Square at Causeway Bay, but later Janet thought Tin Hau would be a better choice - it's where the locals go, and the dessert shops there are less commercialised.

"Aunty Sweet" 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau
We came to Aunty Sweet or 甜姨姨. It's a fairly well-known shop, but despite its success, it's stayed as a single outlet, not a chain. The owner Candy used to work at TVB, so occasionally you'll catch some TV celebrities eating here too.

Durian beancurd
Their signature special for the month was "Durian beancurd" (HK$28) - oh yes, oddly you'll find quite a few durian desserts in Hong Kong. Gorgeous creamy durian pulp atop refreshingly cold and smooth durian-flavoured beancurd. Even though durians are generally better in Singapore, this dessert was actually really good.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Vote and Win 3D/2N Trip to Hong Kong for Two!

Great news! If you've been following my Hong Kong posts, you'll be glad to know you can win a trip to Hong Kong yourself!

The ten Singapore Blog Award 2010 winners have blogging their Hong Kong trip experience on a special OMY.sg site.

All you have to do is check out the posts and vote for your favourite blogger here - My Hong Kong Summer Travel Blog contest.

Once you're on the page, you can click on any profile photo to see the posts by that blogger.

Some of the posts are really well-written and funny. I love Kee Hong's hilarious caricatures (he draws with a mouse!!), Jerome's soulful insights, Pete's chirpy spirit, Violet's insider familiarity with Hong Kong, Darren's lyrical wit and humour, Gin's genteel wisdom, Elaine's youthful take on things, Geck Geck's pink bling and Sze Ping's fabulous photos. Me, I was just there for the food. *grin*

You can vote every day, once a day, until the contest ends 31 Aug 2010. Good luck!

I'm putting up on the sidebar this link, so you can access it daily from here.

The blogger with most votes also wins a similar trip to Hong Kong. I don't know if it will be scheduled together, but wouldn't that be fun?

The contest is organised by Omy.sg and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

HK: Wellington Street - Lin Heung Teahouse and Mak's Noodles

I walked down this alley and voila, there's Lin Heung!
After my Sun Tung Lok dim sum breakfast, Gingko House Western lunch and Kau Kee post-lunch bowl of curry beef brisket, I was walking on my own randomly exploring the vicinity. Actually, trying to walk off some of the calories too, when I passed by this huge wall sign that you simply couldn't miss. Hey! Lin Heung Teahouse! Am I at Wellington Street already?

Lin Heung Teahouse at Wellington Street
Indeed I am! Oh I was very glad to see this old school yumcha teahouse. Lin Heung (160-164 Wellington Street; Tel: +852 2544-2556) has been around for some 80 years. But it was such a pity that I was way too full to eat any more immediately.

Busy yumcha atmosphere inside Lin Heung (upstairs)
Well, no harm taking a look at least. I ventured upstairs to the airconditioned hall. It's brightly lit and reasonably clean (well, cleaner than I expected). Families were chattering at runaway speed in Cantonese, amidst the constant clink of porcelain. Steaming baskets of dim sum were shuttled briskly to the tables, their aroma filling the air once the lids were lifted. Cups of Chinese tea dotted the crowded tables. I loved the bustling atmosphere! There was not a single seat free, even if I had wanted to eat.

It's more than dim sum at Lin Heung
Lin Heung is not just about dim sum. They have popular dishes for dinner too. If I have the chance to come back, I would love to try some of these too.

Stairway leads up to airconditioned dining hall, and down to takeaway pastries
I love the dark wood stairs and banisters. At the bottom of the stairway near the entrance is the takeaway pastries section.

Super old school pastries
Lin Heung has a bakery that does traditional Chinese biscuits and pastries. They also started putting out mooncakes already.

Traditional Chinese pastries from Lin Heung Teahouse
I was determined to take away a little piece of Lin Heung with me, so I bought some of the pastries to take back to the hotel. The old-fashioned packaging is so quaint and lovely.

Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste
Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste. The flaky skin is more papery than oily. Very dense lotus paste too. The taste is quite rustic and traditional indeed.

Pastry with century egg in mixed nutty paste
This is the first time I've tried a sweetish pastry with a whole century egg embedded within! Gotta say it's an acquired taste.

Easy to see where Bladerunner got its inspiration from
But back to Wellington Street. I continued my way, taking in the sights. This area is like quintessential old Hong Kong. This side alley may not be a prime example, but it's not difficult to see how Ridley Scott drew some of his inspiration for Blade Runner.

Shops crammed with goods
And then we have the commercialisation that's everywhere. There are lots of shops here selling anything and everything. They are often crammed to the brim with goods, some of it even spilling out onto the pavement, mixing with abandoned cartons.

Talk about a "no signboard" eatery!
There are also all kinds of eateries here. Look at this one, a single table in a dark shop underneath tungsten lights and the dilapitated carcass of a signboard. I was just wondering if the upper level is abandoned, when I caught the words near the staircase that say there's more seating and air-conditioning upstairs.

The building in which Mak's Noodles is housed - rather gaudy, no?
I finally reach what I've been looking for. This is the building in which Mak's Noodles is housed. Had not figured it'd be this gaudy.

Mak's Noodles - Anthony Bourdain was here!
But there it is - Mak's Noodles, right on the ground floor. This legendary place needs no introduction. Even Anthony Bourdain came here. But oddly, it seemed rather empty.

Tsim Chai Kee opposite Mak's seems to have more business
And right opposite, is a rival selling pretty much the same stuff - wantan noodles, apparently at twice the size and half the price. Tsim Chai Kee had a lot more people in it.

But I chose Mak's anyway. Every other shop else can come later.

Something magical in that steamy kitchen
I gingerly made my way in, and was immediately served tea. I watched the cook in the steamy kitchen, the place where all the magic happens.

These guys are super adept at making wantans - just 2 seconds per wantan!
I also watched the two gentlemen at the back of the shop, rolling wantans with practised ease. They didn't take more than two seconds to neatly parcel pork mince and prawn into the skin and fold it.

The infamously small bowl - Mak's Noodles
And soon, my bowl of the signature wantan noodle soup (HK$28) arrived. Mak's is known for its "stingy" portions - notice size of spoon in relation to bowl? That's how small the bowl is. That's why I could still eat this after having had 3 meals.

The small bowl is meant to keep the noodles from going soggy, but that's debatable.

Mak's famous wantan noodles
I dug up the wantans from the bottom. I have to say the soup smelled great, and tasted so. Made using powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones, it was pungently umami and almost perfect. The wantans were excellent - incredibly fresh shrimp and flavourful seasoning.

However, the noodles were less QQ than I had hoped. Maybe I had left them soaking in the hot soup for too long while I admired the dish and took photos. But I checked the timestamp on the photos - it was less than 4 minutes from first photo to last. Still, it must have softened somewhat. I should have had another bowl - no photography allowed.

The famous Yung Kee at Wellington Street
So I left Mak's slightly underwhelmed but still happy I got to try it. Further down the road was Yung Kee. Been there, done that 10 years ago. Nice but I'm not a big fan of goose.

So ended my short walk on Wellington Street. Enough food for the day, right? Hahaha. Not quite. I hadn't had dessert!

Next up, I meet a couple of old pals who bring me to where the locals go for Hong Kong desserts. Stay tuned.

P.S. This post is also replicated at My Hong Kong Travel Blog 我的香港之旅, where all ten bloggers record their unique perspective of the trip. There's a contest (soon) where you can vote for your favourite blogger and win a trip to Hong Kong as well!

Annual Food Bloggers Dinner 2010

We interrupt the Hong Kong posts for an important announcement.

Every year a wonderful gathering of food bloggers for a meal together will mysteriously coordinate itself and happen. This year, magically it will take place at Michaelangelo's on the 25th of August (7.30pm).

Well, actually a lot of voluntary hard work goes into organising of the dinners,  just that most of us don't see it. This year, Ivan, otherwise known as NinjaHelloKitty (I keep wanting to type HelloNinjaKitty for some reason) of  has kindly taken up the gauntlet. More details on his site here.

The marvellous dinner menu is as below. Please contact Ivan here - http://food.recentrunes.com/?page_id=1318 to RSVP before 15 August 2010. Seating is limited, so it will be on a first come, first serve basis. Food bloggers get priority, of course.

Dinner Menu

Crabmeat Cake with Avocado top with Mesclun Salad, Beetroot Paint & Balsamic Reduction

Short Tube Pasta with chunks of Tuna in Homemade Tomato Sauce with Capers, Olives, Chili, Garlic, Basil, White Wine & rich Fish Broth

Main Course
Breaded Veal Scallopine pan fried in Butter glace with Veal Jus, Cherry Tomato Salsa & Lemon Wedge


Sea bream blanket with crispy Brick Phyllo on Butternut Pumpkin Puree top with Tomato Salsa

Pistachio Financier with Strawberry Salsa & Mint

Coffee / Tea

$50NETT per person

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

HK: Treasures in Gough Street - Gingko House and Kau Kee

After my dim sum late breakfast, I joined the blogger team and Hong Kong Tourism Board representatives to cross over to Hong Kong island. Our destination - Gough Street. It may not look like much. In fact, it resembles more a back alley than a proper street. But there are many wonderful shops and eateries here!


Monday, August 2, 2010

HK: Dim sum at Sun Tung Lok 新同樂

Steaming hot bun
It was Day 2 of our Hong Kong trip, and I was determined to get my dim sum. Today's two pockets of free-and-easy time were precious, as they were our last chance to explore on our own. Today...today would be an eating marathon for me, as you will soon see in upcoming posts.

Sun Tung Lok is at The Miramar Shopping Centre
And with sooo many dim sum joints in Hong Kong, which one to go to? I found something right under my nose - Sun Tung Lok 新同樂 at Miramar Shopping Centre. Scroll down to the bottom of this "Best dim sum in HK" thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/318331) to see the latest replies singing its praises. OK, it's not inside The Mira hotel per se, but just a hop across the road.

There was one slight dilemma though. The restaurant opens at 11:30am, and I had to regroup with the other bloggers back at the hotel at noon as the Hong Kong Tourism Board was going to bring us across to HK island for lunch. But the Sun Tung Lok manager was very accommodating - they did their best to very quickly prepare and steam up their famous dim sum treats.

The interior is of understated elegance
Sun Tung Lok is actually a long-standing name in high-end Cantonese cuisine. It's been around since 1969, some forty years now. This restaurant used to be in Happy Valley but relocated to Tsim Sha Tsui not too long ago. I like their cool brown sombre decor with plush seating. The air is of understated elegance, with a touch of whimsical baroque in the wallpaper and lighting fixtures. The spotlight, of course, is on the food.

Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham - 4pcs for HK$40
Steamed pork dumpling (siew mai) topped with minced Yunnan ham - 4pcs for HK$40.
This looks so perfectly molded, I only needed to take one shot. One bite into it and I was surprised to find a high ratio of lean meat (and not too much shrimp thankfully). So it's quite firm and not mushy. The siew mai skin is also very well made.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ippudo TAO opens at UE Square

Ippudo TAO is at UE Square facing Mohammed Sultan Road
I'm breaking from the Hong Kong travel series (I still have 16 more posts to go!) to bring you some Singapore news I'm quite excited about. Ramen chain Ippudo now has a second outlet here!

This surely is welcome news to fans who have been queueing at the first branch at Mandarin Gallery. Now we have a second location at which to enjoy the noodles.

This outlet is called Ippudo TAO, in partnership with TAO, a Japanese drum performance group that's taking the world by storm. They have been touring internationally, and performed at the 2004 and 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the world's largest arts festival). TAO was the only group to lead in ticket sales and their concerts were all sold out.

TAO martial drummers
We were treated to a half-hour performance of TAO earlier at the DBS Arts Centre - and I can tell you, it completely blew me away! This is an unprecedented new genre blending drum, dance and musical theatre with martial arts. They infuse exceptional energy, rhythm, sensual grace, and passion into a precisely choreographed sequences. The music, inspired by nature, is delightful.

I hear these guys train 12 hours a day, and it shows. Even demanding movements flow with ease like second nature. The eye candy extends to the good-looking performers. The fluid costumes too, show off how lean and muscular the troupe is. They are as much athletes as they are artists.

It's interesting to see that there are women as lead drummers too. Pint-sized Arisa Nishi shows powerful charisma, strength and femininity all at the same time.

And of the men, Takuya Era's mastery of the long silver stick is stunningly awesome! That's him above (front right). Photo from The Herald Australia - do head on over and read how monastic TAO members' training can be! And yet they all look very happy and radiant performing on stage.

Above all, the strength, vitality and joy they present will amaze and inspire you. I really don't have words that can do them justice. You absolutely have to see them in person! I hope they come to Singapore for a full-scale concert.

Here's a promotional video. See also nine more samples of their live performances on MrDejimaru's Youtube channel. Ippudo TAO will also showcase performances by TAO on video screens at this outlet.

Ramen King Shigemi Kawahara speaking to guests
At the opening party, I had the pleasure of meeting Ippudo CEO Shigemi Kawahara, also known as Ramen King. The back of his name card says "Everyone's smile is a source of power." I like that very much.

But hey, ramen and taiko drums? What do they have in common, you might ask? Well, Ippudo and TAO both want to bring smiles and a sense of the Japanese spirit to the world. To convey smiles, vigor, courage and vitality. That I think they both share and do well.

Appetisers included some really good pork cheek (left) and pork belly-wrapped corn kushiyaki (top right). The fried babycorn with green seaweed was nice too
Ippudo is also introducing kushiyaki (charcoal-grilled skewers) for its menu at this outlet. I thought they were pretty good. This pork-belly wrapped babycorn was juicy and crunchy at the same time. The pork slices (left) have got to be pork cheeks - they were so meltingly good! And the fried babycorn with seaweed is also an addictive snack.

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