Monday, January 31, 2011

Before I start with my Hong Kong posts, here's one more Chinese New Year (CNY) dinner at a local eatery. The Makansutra forummers held their first monthly dinner at Le Chasseur and it was the group's CNY dinner too...which means there's Yu Sheng and Lo Hei!

Lo hei with a difference
This is yusheng with a difference though. It's apparently the Teochew style - none of those garishly and artificially colored vegetables!


Lo Hei Raw Fish (Teochew style)
Just lots of fresh greens, white radish and carrot tossed in a sweet plum sauce blended in-house. Certainly very unusual and healthy-tasting!


Raw toman fish slices
Of course, what is yusheng without fish? A generous rosette of raw toman fish slices - this is so fresh, the fish was still swimming an hour ago. According to the organisers, it was supposed to have been green carp, but that was not available in the market today.

I could not get a photo, but KF Seetoh made an appearance at the dinner, regaling us with details of yusheng's origins and significance. 


Double Cold Cut platter. They gave out mandarin oranges too, for CNY
Double Cold Cut platter - sliced pork with preserved Sichuan vegetables (left) and beef shank (right). They gave out mandarin oranges too, as it was CNY.


Pepper Pig stomach soup - not to be confused with Peppa Pig!
Peppery pig stomach soup, chockful of ingredients! There were huge chunks of pork rib with soft bones (oh, love these!), so those who don't like pig stomach had something else to feast on. The pig stomach has been very well-cleaned, so do try some if you have never done so before.


Very peppery pig stomach soup, but needed more body
I love pig stomach soup. Lots of memories of this soup made by mom. This was very peppery indeed, the way I like it, but it could do with more body and robustness. Still, what a great soup for the cold spell we've been having.


Grilled live prawns and cuttlefish
Grilled Live Prawns and Cuttlefish - one of the signature items here. The live prawns are poached in seawater for 30 seconds, and then finished off on the grill for the smoky aroma. The cuttlefish was also beautifully grilled. Some said certain parts were a little chewy, but not offensively so.


Steamed Soon Hock with Black Olive
Steamed Soon Hock with Black Olive. You can't beat fresh fish. This was quite nice, and the black olives lent a different flavour. But I'm still partial to the usual Teochew treatment (ginger, sour plum, tomato and preserved vegetable).


Crispy Cleo Pata (Philippine style Pig Trotter)
Crispy Cleo Pata (Philippine style Pig Trotter). Awesome! Crispy skin, tender flesh! We spied that this dish only costs S$19 a la carte, which is a good deal! I would come back for this.


Eight Treasure Duck
Eight Treasure Duck - this immediately called to mind our KL excursion and the Eight Treasure Duck at Restoran Sek Yuen. This one looks more flat, the KL one was more rotund.


Eight Treasure Duck
The duck is totally stuffed with lovely ingredients - mushrooms, carrots, waxed sausages, chestnuts, mei cai (preserved vegetables) and so on. Everything had infused its flavour into the tender duck. This dish needs to be ordered at least three days advance. It's more than S$60 per duck.


Steamed Beancurd with minced meat and salted fish
Steamed Beancurd with minced meat and salted fish. The salted fish added some real kick. Great with rice.


Claypot Rice
Claypot rice. This was pretty well-charred at the bottom and sides, which made me very happy because I love the crispy crust! Interestingly, they used basmati rice, which made it very light-tasting. I inhaled like four bowls with no trouble at all! I do wish they used better lap cheong (Chinese sausage) here. The chunks of salted fish were also a little bit too big, and needed more even distribution.


Indian Lettuce fried with Chinese cheese
The claypot rice was paired with Indian Lettuce Fried with Chinese Cheese or nam yu. I suppose some greens to balance the heaty rice sounds wise.


Stir fried yellow chives with prawns
Stir fried yellow chives with prawns. The battered shrimp was a little cold and soggy by the time it came to us. But I didn't mind. Still tasty with the chives.


A surprise treat of Korean dried persimmons - these are elongated rather than flattened
An off-menu surprise treat of Korean dried persimmons - these are elongated rather than flattened. These were sweet, moist and delicious. Later I saw some at a fruit stall, but nothing like this quality.


Tau Suan with grilled Youtiao
Dessert was Tau Suan with Grilled Youtiao. One of the highlights of the evening! Best tau suan I have ever had in a restaurant! It's got more beans than starch, and is cooked just right. The savoury fried youtiao with its grilled aroma also set off the flavours very well. I am so coming back for this one!


Le Chausser means "The Hunter" in French, but it's completely Chinese. The chef-owner lived in Mauritius for a while.
You must be wondering by now, why this French-sounding restaurant is serving Chinese and local cze-char fare. The chef-owner Andy lived in Mauritius for a while, and had a restaurant with a similar name there. He wanted to continue the tradition here. Le Chasseur means "The Hunter" in French, but it's completely Chinese.

It's a simple eatery with few frills, and it's kept prices very friendly too. This nearly 12-course meal (with so much meat and seafood) only cost us S$35 each. They also offer single meal dishes like fried rice and hor fun for just S$5.50. As with many restaurants offering so many dishes, there will definitely be hits and misses. But the good stuff, they certainly do well! Chef Andy is very passionate about cooking, and is very happy to explain the special aspects of his food preparation.

This place knows how to draw the crowd in with pictures. There are big photos at the entrance, and when you step in, you will also see huge photos of the food up on the wall, like a menu mural! Oddly enough, they also put up a cholesterol food chart for patrons' reference! There are also signs on the wall that proclaim no MSG, no GST, no service charge, no artificial coloring and no artificial essences used.

I would like to thank the Makansutra forum veterans Andrew and Tony who tirelessly organise these dinner sessions each month at no profit to themselves. These dinners have been going on for years. It's food, fun, friends and lots of BYO wine! Anyone is welcome to join us. Check out the Makan Meetings subforum for arrangements. The next one should be in March, as Feb will see too many CNY dinners already.


LE CHASSEUR
31 New Bridge Road (opposite Central/Clarke Quay MRT)
Singapore 059393
Open daily 11am to 11pm
Tel: +65 6337-7677
Mobile: +65 9144-0322


We're home! Landed back in Singapore late Sunday night, greeted by the rain which, I hear, has been ceaselessly pelting over the weekend. The weather's certainly not good. And I now have a cold.

But Hong Kong was fantastic, and I have about 15 posts planned. I can't wait to relive my trip through those 800 photos. Really, there is so much to explore in Hong Kong! A 3D2N jaunt is too short to do it any justice, but luckily, Hong Kong is not too far away to revisit.

Am very grateful to the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) for making this trip possible so close to Chinese New Year. Lots of flights and hotels were fully booked. Even restaurants too, as we found out!

We had some humble meals, and some very humbling meals, including a most sublime culinary experience at a new modern French restaurant. So stay tuned.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yes, I am going to Hong Kong tomorrow (Friday morning). Am finally using my prize from last year's Best Hong Kong Travel Blog organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). Have waited for winter so we can enjoy the cold weather, and be just in time to catch the Chinese New Year festive preparations.

You can see my previous travel posts in my Hong Kong series. I covered more than a dozen eateries then.

This time, I have also put together a list of eateries. There are just so many good places to eat in Hong Kong, and this is just from preliminary research. I will not be able to cover all these places on my 3D2N trip, but at least it's good to know and recognise places, and I'm also leaving room for spontaneous discoveries.

If you guys have recommendations, please let me know too!

Looking forward to feasting in Hong Kong again!

Here's my list (grouped very roughly by area, in no particular order)...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How high can you toss your yusheng?
How high can you "lo-hei"? Try 165m above ground? Yes, you can toss your luck as high as that on board the Singapore Flyer.

The Singapore Flyer's Chinese New Year Lo-Hei (S$1,888 nett, for up to 26 passengers) is on from 28 Jan 2011 to 20 Feb 2011, but bookings have already been pouring in. Since it was begun three years back, the Flyer Lo-Hei has been very popular with corporations looking for an unusual venue for this yearly tradition.



Lo-hei at great heights is really quite fun, and the view is captivating
It was really quite an experience doing the "lo-hei" with 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline.


Can we have more red please?
The Lo-Hei package allows up to 26 passengers in a specially decorated capsule. Two in-flight hosts or butlers will serve unlimited wines, beers, juices, soft drinks and water. They will also assist with the lo-hei auspicious sayings. Everyone is also given ang pow packets and mandarin oranges.



The Singapore Flyer
You get one rotation in which to do the lo-hei, which I found was more than ample time. They will start tossing once you are at the top of the wheel, in order to absorb the most Heavenly Chi.

The French spiderman Alain Roberts scaled the wheel last November. It's amazing when you look at how he has to climb these stairs and over the capsules.


The finished product - it's really quite tasty!
The yusheng is actually quite tasty, with just the right balance of sweet, tangy and salty. How I wish I can have this again...


There are snacks and finger food on the side
There are also snacks and finger food on the side.



The French Spiderman Alain Robert scaled
 the Singapore Flyer in Nov 2010
Add some bubbly (Moët and Chandon Champagne at $148++ per bottle) or an additional rotation (S$888 nett) if you wish.

This year there is an auspicious trail involving a triumvirate of Heavenly Chi, Earthly Chi and Human Chi. There are three steps. First, make your wish at the highest point in the capsule at 165m, when Heavenly Chi is optimum.

Gain Earth Chi at the 
Wishing Well, and sound the gong for better Human Chi in 2011!
Then proceed to the Wishing Well facing East for Earth Chi. Lastly, sound the gong at the Wishing Well to improve your Human Chi.

The Singapore Flyer also provides Sky Dining (see my previous post on it). They also have Valentine's Day packages too (selling fast)!

But even if you don't go on the Flyer, there are plenty of Chinese New Year activities at the venue.
CNY Activities at the Singapore Flyer
Many thanks to the lovely folks at the Singapore Flyer and to Smith Leong for inviting me to this blogger event.

I also have a 1-for-1 voucher for Flyer rides, redeemable in March 2011 and ang pows to give away. Just leave a comment below, saying "I want to go on the Flyer!"

I will pick a winner on 1 Feb via random generator. If you leave an email address, I can contact you if you win!


SINGAPORE FLYER
30 Raffles Avenue, #01-07
Singapore 039803
Tel: 6734 8829 / 6333 3311 for bookings
Email: sfsales@adval.com.sg

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Xin's Yusheng with Lobster sashimi, Tuna, Amaebi, Salmon, Geoduck clams, and Japanese Cobia
Fancy a yusheng with six kinds of sashimi?

This is the stunning "Yusheng with Bling" from Xin Cuisine at Holiday Inn Atrium. It comes with a coral-like shaved ice sculpture bearing sashimi-grade lobster, tuna, amaebi (Japanese sweet prawn), salmon, geoduck clams and Japanese cobia. It just makes you go, "Whoa!" when you see it.


Rosette of Japanese cobia
Look at the rosette of Japanese cobia. This is a fish I have not come across before. It's a white fish, and looks much like swordfish (mekajiki).


This is Yusheng with Bling!
The shredded vegetables are presented like a pyramid, topped with real gold leaf for prosperity in the lunar new year. The Yusheng with Bling (S$388 a la carte) is part of the Bountiful Harvest festive menu ($2011 for 10 pax).


Yusheng with its festive homonyms
The waitress places all the seafood on top of the salad and proceeds to squeeze lime and pour on the sauces and seasoning. The sauce is specially concocted inhouse, and the chefs have made it so that it is not too sweet.


I love crunchy "gold ingots" scattered everywhere!
I love the crunchy crackers that represent gold ingots filling the house.


Lo-hei!
And away we "lo"! Everything tastes really fresh and we did not get sick of eating this, plate after plate. It was just the HungryCow and I at this tasting, and we managed to polish off more than half of this.


Xin's Imperial Pen Cai
Xin Cuisine is also offering several "pen cai" options. The Imperial Pen Cai is packed with premium ingredients like whole Australia 3-head abalone, superior shark's fin, fish maw, deer tendon, sea cucumber, goose web, sea moss, dried oyster, black mushroom, wild bamboo pith and Chinese baby cabbage, all stewed for hours in a superior stock made with shark cartilage broth.

The stock is marvellously rich and savoury. I also liked the deer tendon (it really tasted like deer) and the goose web. The abalone is also tender, not rubbery.


Xin's Imperial Pen Cai - our tasting portion compared to the actual pot
Ours was a tasting portion. This pot in the foreground is the actual size of pen cai, S$888 (inclusive of service charge and GST), good for 10 persons. The whole abalone alone usually costs S$58 per piece, and there are 10 pieces in there.

There is also a Seafood Prosperity Pen Cai (S$388 big, S$288 small). That comes with lobster, abalone, shark's fin, sea whelk, fresh scallop, dried scallop, dried oyster, fish maw, jelly fish, sea cucumber, black mushroom, sea moss, bamboo pith, Chinese cabbage, radish and homemade fish ball in a seafood stock.


The Imperial Pen Cai takeaway comes in a festive carrier inspired by imperial robes
You can also take away the Imperial Pen Cai to enjoy at home with the family. It comes in a very deluxe silk carrier, inspired by imperial robes.


Roast pork - a staple at Chinese restaurants
While we were there, we also got to try the roasted pork, which is pretty good. I must come back and try the dim sum someday.


From top: Xin's radish cake with waxed meat, glutinous rice ball, nian gao - chrysanthemum, and coconut flavours
There are also various snacks - from top: Xin's radish cake with waxed meat, glutinous rice ball, nian gao (sticky glutinous rice cake) - chrysanthemum, and coconut flavours. The nian gao with chrysanthemum (with yellow batter) really tasted like it had a huge infusion of chrysanthemum. However, the orangey one with coconut is much more subtle. I think perhaps they used coconut juice, and not milk.


Sesame coated glutinous rice ball with champagne truffle inside! Very heady!
The sesame coated glutinous rice ball is no ordinary snack. It's made with a very strong champagne truffle inside! I have to apologise to alcohol-lovers everywhere - the champagne centre was so strong, I had to pour some of it out. But it is delicious.

This is available at S$2 each (a darn steal, if you ask me!)


I like that the private rooms have additional couches for relaxation
Xin Cuisine has a variety of private rooms, all of which come with extra couch seating on the side. You can relax there and chat either before or after dinner. It also lends a rather homely feel to the place.
 The rooms are all named after some signature teas, such as White Peony, Dewdrops, and Bamboo Green.


Jing Shang Tian Hua - Morning Blossom Pearl Tea (S$6++ per person)
Our room was the Morning Blossom Pearl Tea (Jin Shang Tian Hua), and we got to sample the tea as well (available at S$6 per person). It comes with a very pretty clear teapot and teacup. The cleverly double-walled teacup is designed so that you will not be scalded by the heat of the tea when you hold the cup.


Chinese New Year Festive Goodies
Come down and see the display of festive goods they have at the entrance of the restaurant. They also sell homemade XO sauce, honeyed cashew nuts, black sesame & walnut ingot pastries, as well as orange and macadamia nut pastries. The carrier bags for the pastries are so pretty too.


Xin Cuisine is at Holiday Inn Atrium
Many thanks to Tracy of the Holiday Inn Atrium and Xin Cuisine for the invitation. I'd been wanting to come and try the food here, after hearing some chefs speak well of Xin. It proved to be quite an enjoyable lunch.

XIN CUISINE
Level 4, Holiday Inn Atrium
317 Outram Road
Singapore 169075
Tel: +65 6731-7173

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Hokkien mee is not too shabby
I'll confess. I pretty much joined the queue at this stall without knowing whether it was good or not. I don't normally do that, but I had heard something about a good Hokkien mee at Bedok Corner, so I wondered if this stall might be it. The queue wasn't too long, but it was perpetual. Not many stalls here have queues like that, except for Ye Lai Xiang which is just a couple of stalls away.

Well, this was not too bad. It's a bit different from the usual Hokkien mee in that it's slightly darker stock and has a lot more beehoon (thin rice vermicelli) than yellow noodles. A good number of crunchy beansprouts too. Flavourwise, it was pleasing but could do with a stronger seafood taste. I guess my favourite is still Tian Tian Lai's very umami rendition!

I think people who are not fans of Hokkien mee or seafood in the first place (such as hubby) might take well to this one.


The old man takes his time to fry the Hokkien mee
The old man takes his time to systematically fry his Hokkien mee. Supercool composure! He is never flustered by the queue, and leaves his female business partner to handle the order-taking and cashiering.


Bedok Corner Hokkien Prawn Mee
I was glad when I queued (about 6 persons), because I looked back a little while later, and it had doubled! But I still had to wait a while, because the people in front of me ordered a lot of takeaway packs. It helps to go earlier in the evenings, so you won't have to queue that long.

BEDOK CORNER HOKKIEN PRAWN MEE
Blk 1 Bedok Road
29 Bedok Corner Food Centre
Singapore 469572
Open Tue to Sun: 4.00pm - 9.00pm

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kachang phool from Mamu Kitchen
Kachang phool from Mamu Kitchen.  I've finally managed to try this recommendation from the HungryCow (thanks, Leroy! By the way, he is giving out Haagen Dazs ice cream vouchers on his blog - hurry, leave a comment by midnight tonight!).

Kachang or kacang. Phool, pool, ful, fool, fhoul...my gosh, this dish has so many name variations. I'll call it kachang phool for now, since that's the name used by this stall. The "phool" relates the the "ful" of Ful Medames, the Egyptian dish that's also popular around the Middle East.

It's made from ground fava beans or broad beans, cooked in herbs and spices. The taste is hard to describe, but hubby got the closest - it's like a vegetarian Mexican chili (but served with a runny fried egg). He absolutely loved it.

The sliced green chili adds some kick, as do the raw chopped onions. The tomatoes give a touch of nice colour too. Mop it all up with some crisp baguette!


Mamu Kitchen at Bedok Corner Food Centre
I'd wanted to feature this stall for CNNgo last year but it was closed the two times I was there. They'd taken a long holiday. They're back now, but make sure you go after tea-time, as they open from 3pm onwards (til about 10pm or whenever the food sells out).


MAMU KITCHEN
Block 1 Bedok Road
25 Bedok Food Centre
Singapore 469572
 
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