Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Have you heard of DBS Places? It's a special campaign like Facebook Places, where you can check in to DBS related merchants, earn points and redeem deals. The person with the most points wins a 3D2N holiday of their choice. It's the final five days before this campaign ends on 5 Sept 2011!

Not many people know about this yet, so that means higher chances of winning! So put your iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry to browse this and check in to DBS Places like Wangz Hotel, Klapsons, Bobby's, Spinelli, Sour Sally, and El Toro.

I have S$100 in Spinelli vouchers to give out on my Facebook page. First five people to comment there and say which place they'll likely check in to, wins S$20 each.


Crispy Kang Kong topped with Cuttlefish in Homemade Seafood Sauce - new
Seafood Paradise has opened two new outlets, at Changi Airport Terminal 2 and Senja-Cashew Community Centre in Bukit Panjang. Many will recall that Seafood Paradise at Defu Lane is the humble zi char stall that rose to become a full-fledged restaurant, and eventually kicked off the multi-concept Paradise Group.

The CEO Eldwin Chua himself started off as the zi char cook and devised creative dishes to that to Seafood Paradise's popularity. His is a really interesting "zero-to-hero" story that I will tell you another time.

To celebrate the two new outlets, Seafood Paradise has introduced new dishes on its menu. Let me show you what they are.

Up above is the "Crispy 'Kang Kong' topped with Cuttlefish in Homemade Seafood Sauce" (S$14 for small; S$21 for medium; S$28 for large). The kang kong leaves are gently coated with batter and fried to a light, ethereal crisp (almost like tempura or fried seaweed). To my surprise, the poached cuttlefish is delightfully 'bouncy' and devoid of offensive smell, which sometimes happens if you don't clean it thoroughly. Honestly, this is probably the only "jiu her eng chye" I will eat.


Homemade Teochew Prawn Roll - new
They also now offer a pretty decent rendition of Homemade Teochew Prawn Roll (S$8.80 per serving). Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Served very piping hot!


Venus Clam in Sweet & Spicy Sauce - new
Venus Clam in Sweet & Spicy Sauce (S$18 for small; S$27 for medium; S$36 for large). This is basically your "lala" clams. Personally, I would have preferred more spicy than sweet, but understandably, a location like Changi Airport has a lot of international visitors who may not be used to chili heat.


Curry Red Snapper Fish Head - new
Curry Red Snapper Fish Head (a mere S$18 per portion, as shown above, available from 11am to 5pm daily). Sorry my shot does not look very glamorous, but we couldn't stop eating this even after the crab arrived (I even stole the mantou from the crab to eat it with the curry). Something's just very comforting about this dish. It's a very generous portion too.


Signature Creamy Butter Crab Topped with Coconut Crumbs, served with buns
Yes, I mentioned crab. The Creamy Butter Crab Topped with Coconut Crumbs (seasonal price) is not a new dish, but it's their signature (created by Eldwin). The crabs are cooked in a rich sauce of evaporated milk, white pepper, butter, sugar, curry leaves, lemongrass and chili. Sinfully creamy and rich! Probably good for those who prefer things less spicy. Personally, the sauce was a tad too opaque and had the danger of masking the natural sweetness of the fresh crab.


Chilled Lemongrass Jelly in Lemonade (new)
The new dessert of Chilled Lemongrass Jelly in Lemonade (S$4.50 per person) is a simple but effective palate cleanser for the seafood sauces, gravies and curries. The biji selasih (basil seeds) give some textural bite too.

The 210-seater outlet at Changi Airport has two private rooms and cosy dining booths. It's not just convenient for tourists, but also a great family dining choice for locals staying in the East. I haven't seen the Senja-Cashew CC outlet but I hear it overlooks a luscious green park, complete with pond.

Also unique to the Changi Airport restaurant are 7-8 individual set meals comprising a seafood trio platter and a main course plus drink for just S$14.80. It's perfect for those who don't want a long complicated dinner, and just want to enjoy a quick bite before catching their flight. The main courses include items like braised ee-fu noodles with seafood, kampung-style fried rice, stir-fried mee sua with seafood, and udon with seafood in black pepper sauce.

There are currently also some weekday promotions.
Monday: 50% off all live fishes
Tuesday: 30% off all crabs (min 2 crabs for 1-5 pax; 4 crabs for 6 or more per table)
Wednesday: $1.20 per pc oyster sashimi (min 6)
Thursday: 30% off prawns & lobster
Friday: 30% off all clams
Not valid on eve of and on public holidays and special occasions.

The new dishes highlighted above will also soon make their way to the other two outlets at Defu Lane and the Singapore Flyer.


SEAFOOD PARADISE's new outlets
60 Airport Boulevard
#036-059 Level 3 Terminal 2
Singapore Changi Airport
Singapore 819643
Tel: 6214 9655
Opening Hours
Daily: 11.00am – 11.00pm (last order at 10.30pm)

101 Bukit Panjang Road
#02-01 Senja-Cashew Community Club
Singapore 679910
Tel: 6766 9813
Opening Hours
Daily: 11.30am – 3pm (last order at 2.30pm)
6.00pm – 11.00pm (last order at 10.30pm)

Two other outlets at Defu Lane and the Singapore Flyer.


Thanks to Sixth Sense Communications for inviting and hosting me, and to Seafood Paradise for the dining opportunity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

White steamed chicken

I can't even remember when I was last at Wee Nam Kee. Maybe never. There are so many stories of people waxing lyrical about how good the chicken rice is, and and equal number panning it as a place that used to be good but now, "standard's dropped". Well, to each his or her own. What matters is whether you like the food or not, regardless of the shop's fame.

I came here one evening for a reunion dinner with my Royal Caribbean blogger buddies. There were about ten or more of us, so we shared a whole white chicken and a whole roast chicken (S$52 for both chickens, about S$26 each). The white chicken is certainly silky and succulent, and there is that collagen-like gel under the skin.


Roast chicken with crispy skin
I personally prefer the roast chicken. Crispy skin over gel-lined skin anytime! It's nice that the meat was also tender and not dry.

I'm not sure if I imagined it, but the sauces used for the both chicken tasted slightly different. One was sweeter than the other, but both very salty.

The rice is good, and the essential condiments (dark soy, chili sauce, minced ginger) are satisfactory.


Cereal prawns
Wee Nam Kee also has a fairly comprehensive "zi char" or homestyle "cook and fry" menu. We could not resist a luxury order of cereal prawns (large portion, S$34.25). The prawns are big and fresh, but the cereal is really a bit too sweet.


Pork Rib King (排骨王 Pai Kuat Wong)
The Pork Rib King (排骨王 Pai Kuat Wong, $17.10) was all right. I think tenderiser was used.


Sambal kangkong that's really good!
If there was a wow dish for me, ironically it was the token vegetable. I don't even usually fancy sambal kangkong that much, but this one (S$9.65, large) had incredible savoury punch. Excellent job on the seasoning.


Giant bowl of soup for all!
They served us a giant bowl of sodium soup too. It was tasty, but it made you thirsty too. You can also see how old school and run down the place is. There is some airconditioning indoors, but you'll also be dining amidst boxes and well-worn tables. I suppose it adds to the charm, if you're into that sort of thing. It was also pretty cramped, but we had a great time with friends (that always makes food taste better).

There's no service charge here, by the way. And don't expect much by way of service either. It's one of those places where efficiency takes precedence over gentle speech and patience. Locals are used to this, but some tourists may not be.

The bill came up to only about S$13 per person, including drinks. Come early if you don't wish to jostle with the crowds or sit al fresco near the road.


WEE NAM KEE
275 Thomson Road
#01-05 Novena Ville
Singapore
Tel: +65 6255-6396
Open Daily: 10.30am - 2am

Sunday, August 28, 2011

IMG_7301
Can you say, "Oh my God!"?

Cos I surely did when I saw and opened up the Marina Bay Sands mooncake box. Such pretty cascading tiers from a tower stashed within a latticed box.

Oh, and the truffle snowskin mooncakes within are equally divine. So it's not just pretty packaging.

There are two flavours - Salted Caramel with Almonds, and Dark Chocolate with Grand Marnier (plus those crispy little balls like rice crispies). Well thought out flavours and textures. There's the creamy truffle filling, the smoothness of the lotus paste, and the crunch of truffle shell and almonds/rice crispies. The lotus paste stays muted and not overly sweet so as to let the truffle flavours come to the foreground. Awesome.



IMG_7299
It is such a treasure box. So gorgeous and well-constructed.


IMG_7298
You can get this lantern-inspired treat at Sweet Spot, Marina Bay Sands. The snow skin mooncakes are S$56 for eight. There are also traditional mooncakes (double egg yolk in white lotus seed paste) available at S$60 for a box of four.

There is a smaller round box of two tiers available as well. Mini traditional mooncakes with single egg yolk and white lotus seed paste at S$30 for a box of four. Snow skin versions at S$28 for a box of four.

The mooncakes are available until 12 Sept 2011, at the counter opposite Sweet Spot and the SweetSpot Cart at MICE Level 1, 9am to 7pm daily. Bulk orders are available too. Email mooncakes@marinabaysands.com


SWEET SPOT
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore 018956
Tel: 65 6688-5668


Thank you, Val Chua of Marina Bay Sands, for arranging this!




Friday, August 26, 2011

Nestlé's "Health and You" is back for 2011 at Suntec Singapore Convention Halls 402-404. The third installment of Singapore's largest health and wellness event happens this weekend 27-28 August (10am to 8pm). Here's a sneak peek at some of the highlights from the 12 different zones for you to explore. I bumped into Miss TamChiak there, so check out her post too!


IMG_7076
Upfront after the Nescafe area, you'll see the familiar Milo van parked next to the Milo activity centre.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yakitori Don Set (S$14)
Nanbantei has been around for a long, long time, easily more than 20 years. Ironically I tried it in Tokyo first before I did so in Singapore. Food here is generally quite decent and satisfying.

For lunch, you can get some very affordable set deals too. This is the Yakitori Don Set (S$14), which is about four grilled items on rice, accompanied by a bowl of udon, pickles and appetiser. I love the bacon-wrapped stuff (whether okra or asparagus).


Yakitori Bento (S$13)
The Yakitori Bento (S$13) comes with rice topped with stewed mushroom, dried seaweed and minced meat. You get five skewers of grilled goodies.



You can sit at the bar counter and watch your food being grilled
Nanbantei is not very big, but it sure looks cosy and almost ancient. You can sit at the bar counter and watch your food being grilled by the chefs. There is seating all around the perimeter of the restaurant and even an extension at the back.

The exhaust hood is pretty strong, so you don't smell too heavily like yakitori yourself after eating here. But you will still. A little. Hey, it's a tiny space with all those fumes!

Check out the rest of their lunch set bentos here. They have gyu tan, unajyu, tonkatsu, gindara teriyaki, saba and salmon shioyaki sets. Green tea is free.

We found the lunch bentos very similar to that of Kushigin's. We were wondering who copied whom. Only upon leaving the restaurant, we saw that it is affiliated with Kushigin indeed.


NANBANTEI JAPANESE RESTAURANT
#05-132 Far East Plaza,
14 Scotts Road
Singapore 228213
Tel: +65 7633 5666
Opening Hours
Lunch: noon to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10.30pm

Monday, August 22, 2011

Advertorial
Marina Barrage

Staying healthy is easier when we do it together. Eating and exercising right is more enjoyable when you are with family, friends, and people who care about each other.


When you falter, someone will pick you up
It's not just more fun and meaningful. It's also a way to keep yourself going. When you falter, someone will be around to pick you up.


Tree-tops walk
It's a wonderful opportunity to combine family time with activity that keeps both mind and body alert. Try the Southern Ridges where you can observe nature as you walk along 9km of forest trails and bridges.


You can even encourage others to stay active within your community
You can even go one step further and get involved with the community you live in. Organise a day out for the less fortunate, and see how being active can brighten up their day.


Lo hei with a difference
And when it comes to family bonding, nothing beats a good meal together. The family that eats together, stays together. Hopefully you're eating salads as shown here, and not fried chicken.


If only these two sat down more often to dinner, they wouldn't be at each other's throats!
Honestly, if these two 'brothers' Lee and Kenji had sat down for dinners together more often, they wouldn't be at each other's throats so much, don't you think?


IMG_6481
Family bonding is a form of nourishment too. The young need it, the elderly need it. It's free to give, and free to receive.


MIL with Nadine in 2008
My mom-in-law frequently said her grandkids are her daily vitamins. She used to thrive on social gatherings and get-togethers. Despite heart problems and a quadruple bypass almost 26 years ago, she managed to keep quite lively until her last couple of years.

Cardiovascular disease is still deadly, and we tried our best to give her a heart-healthy diet. There are supplements that can help. Plant sterols, for example, can help lower cholesterol by blocking it from being absorbed by the body.




On 27-28 August, Nestlé is organising Health and You 2011, one of the largest health and wellness events in Singapore. Bring your family and friends to Suntec City (Halls 402-404) and explore the 12 fun zones on showcase. There will be
  • Free health talks, health checks and instant photography
  • Free sampling of a wide range of Nestlé food & beverages including innovative new products
  • Hip-hop dance, art expressions, and sports activities
  • Deals and promotions including a Sure Win Spin-The-Wheel chance with every $25 spent

Nestlé will also provide a fun quest card (available through Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao on 25 and 26 Aug), and onsite during the event. The first 100 to collect six stamps will receive a S$20 goodie bag, and all submissions will be entered into a lucky draw. Top prizes include the Dolce Gusto Piccolo and Circcolo coffee machines! That's the Piccolo on the left (below) and Circcolo on the right. I want! There will also be S$50 hampers to be won.




It's a good chance to pick up some good deals on goods we may consume regularly anyway. For example,
- buy two packs of Cheerios and get a box of Honey Stars free
- buy S$10 worth of Maggi products, and get the Jumbo chili crab pre-mix paste free (I believe that retails at S$8!)
- buy two Kit Kat sharebags and redeem a free Kit Kat bag worth S$8
- buy one box of Uncle Tobys and get 2 Milo bars free
- buy two clusterpacks (each with six packs) of Milo UHT and get a lunchbox and two Milo UHT free

The health talks might be useful too. They will touch on topics like salt intake, cholesterol management, heart health, whole grains and food safety.

For the kids, there'll be free Wii games, iPhone app demos, face-painting, balloon-sculpting, story-telling, colouring activities, baby gym sessions and baby photography.

Here's what last year's event looked like. Guess who was there?



Mr Yam Ah Mee! Yes, the CEO of People's Association and Returning Officer for General Elections 2011, was a guest last year. He appears in the video at 0:38 to 0:48, telling you in his signature tone just how exciting the event is! Actually I think he sounds more enthusiastic here. A little bit, no?

Anyway, I will definitely check it out this year and hopefully can show you on Aug 26 a quick preview of what's on. I think it'll be fun for everyone in the family.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spicy chicken curry

Today has become the unofficial "National Curry Day", thanks to the "Cook and Share A Pot of Curry!" Facebook movement calling for support of multi-cultural integration, acceptance and tolerance. So here's our contribution - a heavily spicy curry chicken.


The "rempah" or spices for curry
We specially bought spices from an Indian shop, and cooked up a fiery storm bright and early on Sunday.


Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble
Oh the smell of spices!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

This is so fun, I'm thinking of making every Sunday a curry day. There are plenty of different curries to try - dry curries, gulai kambing, beef rendang, vegetarian curries, Thai curries, killer vindaloos, creamy butter curries, and even Japanese curry!

So how did your curry day go?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yu Cuisine is the only Chinese seafood restaurant at Marina Bay Sands
Yú Cuisine is the only Chinese seafood restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. You might not notice it easily, as it's near the far Western end of the Shoppes (where Todai is). "Yú" refers to 渔, meaning fish, and you'll see the fish not only live in display tanks, but also as glass ornaments hanging overhead.

The modern blue and silver decor with wavy curves and bubbles lend the restaurant an underwater effect. There is a private dining area that's clad in a warmer theme (see photo, extreme right), but still with fish motifs in the lamps.

Yu Cuisine is run by the people behind Bosses (黑社会), the Chinese restaurant at Vivocity with the triad-like name. I had the pleasure of meeting the boss of Bosses, who turns out to be...a lady. Jun Low not only started Bosses, but also Central (Hong Kong style cafe), the Bread Story bakery chain in Malaysia, and now Yu.

Jun was a stockbroker for seven years before pursuing F&B, where she now enjoys being hands-on in almost every detail. And before her stockbroking days, she was jet-setting around as a Singapore Girl (SQ air stewardess). What a life! Ah, I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of her to show you. We were too busy chatting and eating!

Jun insisted we try some dim sum. Yu Cuisine gets more creative with dim sum than Bosses, so there are a few items here you probably won't find anywhere else.


Dinosaur Rice Roll - giant cheong fun with crispy batter and popiah-like turnip filling, topped with meat floss
One of the most popular items is the Dinosaur Rice Roll - a giant cheong fun with crispy tempura-like batter and popiah-like turnip filling, topped with meat floss. Unlike cheong fun wrapped youtiao, the fried batter somehow stays crispy even after a long time! So you crunch into a playful mix of textures.


白玉袍 (White Jade Robe) - scallops with mushrooms enrobed in white radish
Jun has some poetic names for some of her dim sum creations too. Like 白玉袍 (literal translation: White Jade Robe) - scallops with mushrooms enveloped in what looks like cheong fun but is actually a thin sheet of sliced white radish.


Can you guess what this is?
Can you guess what this is? Believe it or not, this is "lor mai kai" or steamed glutinous rice with chicken - kinda done omu-style with the fried egg enveloping it. I thought it was oyster omelette at first!


Pan-fried shredded yam cake
They do have conventional dim sum too. I like the Pan-fried shredded yam cake, as it doesn't taste too starchy and has enough savoury ingredients within.

When she started Bosses, Jun managed to persuade Hong Kong chef Chiu Ka Wai who had just retired to join her. He has more than 40 years of experience in Cantonese cuisine and now oversees both Chinese restaurants as Group Executive Chef.

Together, they come up with new ideas for dishes like the Smoked Soya Sauce Chicken.


Smoked soya sauce chicken
They smoke this for just five minutes, but what a difference it makes! I normally prefer roasted chicken to soya sauce chicken, but I was won over by the richly complex flavours in this one. The meat is also very moist (another plus over roasted chicken, which can be sometimes dry).


Citrus Divine - Superior Guan Yin infused generously with oranges
The creativity doesn't stop with food. They have also done some unusual stuff with Chinese teas. Here's the Citrus Divine - Superior Guan Yin infused generously with oranges. I like this. Why not go over the top, right?

Yu Cuisine recently added a champagne bar just upstairs with concoctions like Chinese tea cocktails, but you can enjoy the same drinks downstairs too.


Chocolate Orange "Choctail" - hot chocolate spiked with Cointreau
Here's their "Choctail" - hot chocolate spiked with a variety of liqueurs (Cointreau, Creme de Menthe or Cherry Brandy) or syrups.


Liquid warm grass jelly that solidifies as it cools
Even the dessert we had is like a fun science experiment - Liquid warm grass jelly that solidifies as it cools. Almost like having two desserts in one. Warm grass jelly is eaten in Hong Kong, but not commonly seen here.


Yu Cuisine's specialties - dim sum, grills, seafood, and now creative cocktails
There are quite a few other signature items on Yu Cuisine's menu. Besides dim sum, there's seafood, and the grilled or roasted items. Creamy butter prawn, Peking duck, and so forth. The Hong Kong Aberdeen "typhoon-shelter" crabs (stir-fried with lots of garlic, scallions and chilli peppers) is another rare find in Singapore.

Yes, I think I'll be back.


YU CUISINE
10 Bayfront Avenue
#B1-08/09 The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands
Singapore 018956
Tel: +65 6688 7318
Open Daily: 11am – 11pm

Much thanks to Jun and Allynna for their warm hospitality, and to Marina Bay Sands for arranging the interview.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yú Champagne Bar is on the Marina Bay Sands waterfront promenade
Yú Champagne Bar is the newly opened bar upstairs of Yú Cuisine, which is the only Chinese seafood restaurant at Marina Bay Sands. The bar is strikingly lit and hard to miss up on the waterfront.

Wondering about the acute accent in the "Yú"? It's like the mark for the second sound in Hanyu Pinyin, since its Chinese logo is 渔, which means "fish". A nod to the live seafood aspect of the restaurant downstairs. But most of us will just be typing Yu Champagne Bar, so I'll do that too.

Yu Cuisine and Yu Champagne Bar are both by the lady who runs "Bosses" restaurant at Vivocity. The executive master chef is from Hong Kong. I'll be doing a separate post on Yú Cuisine to show you the dim sum and grilled dishes.

What's interesting here at the bar is the creative effort behind some of the drinks. Ever thought of a Chinese tea cocktail? Sounds bizarre? Well, here's one.


LADY YÚ - strawberries, orange juice, peach puree, and Pu Er tea
Lady Yú (S$18) - strawberries, orange juice, peach puree, and Pu Er tea. Quite nice, but the Chinese tea seems more of an accent than a base. Just a light hint, nothing too overpowering.


Red Chambers - crushed red grapes, Ketel One Vodka, apple juice, champagne and Tie Guan Yin tea
Red Chambers (S$18) - crushed red grapes, Ketel One Vodka, apple juice, champagne and Tie Guan Yin tea. This looked more stunning but tasted milder than Lady Yu.


Chinese Tea Twister (S$6 per pot) - Long Snaps (Ginseng oolong with fresh apples)
They also have Chinese Tea Twisters, where various teas are infused with generous chunks of fruit. Why not go all out and indulge, right? This one is the Long Snaps (Ginseng Oolong with Apples) but I recommend the Citrus Divine (Superior Guan Yin with fresh oranges). I'll show you that in the Yu Cuisine post, along with their Choctail (hot chocolate spiked with liqueurs).


Lychee Bellini - lychee and champagne
There are various champagne cocktails here, like the Lychee Bellini - lychee and champagne. So simple and yet delightful. I think lychees are a better match with champagne than strawberries.


The Mojito is not bad - one of their classic 50'clocktails (separate menu)
The Mojito (S$9.80) is not bad - one of their classic 50'clocktails (separate menu), where you'll also find your martinis and daiquiris.

Of course, there's bar snacks to go with the drinks...


Crispy Chicken Winglets: the mid-joint is cracked open and deep-fried
Crispy Chicken Winglets (S$12) - they crack open the mid-joint, remove the fatty skin, and deep-fry this until crisp and fragrant. Imagine the amount of work fiddling with the wings just to do this. There's very little meat, and yet that's what makes it delicious. You just wish there was more.


French Fries with Spicy Cream (Chili Crab!) Dip!
French Fries with Spicy Cream Dip (S$8)! The dip is chili crab gravy! Once you dig in, you won't be able to stop.


I forgot to ask the name of this. Possibly Golden Fiery Chicken Wings on the menu? It's laced with black vinegar though
I forgot to ask the name of this. Possibly Golden Fiery Chicken Wings (S$12) on the menu? It's laced with black vinegar. They also have other snacks like crispy eel, Sichuan soft shell crab basket, Chinese roast platter, dim sum platter and typhoon onion swirls (sounds intriguing!).


Gorgeous night view at Marina Bay Sands waterfront promenade
The best thing about this place? It's right on the Marina Bay Sands waterfront promenade with stunning views of the financial district skyline.


YÚ CHAMPAGNE BAR
10 Bayfront Avenue
L1-82 Marina Bay Sands
Singapore 018956
Tel: +65 6688-7318
Open daily 11am to midnight


Thanks to Marina Bay Sands for the invitation and Yú Champagne Bar for the hospitality.
 
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