Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The udon station
Triple Three at Mandarin Oriental has brought in culinary specialties from Kochi and Kagawa of Shikoku, Japan.

Kochi, birthplace of national heroes like Ryoma Sakamoto, is also the most prolific producer of that prized citrus fruit - yuzu. Half of the domestic production comes from Kochi.

Kagawa on the northeastern part of Shikoku was formerly known as Sanuki, and that's where Sanuki Udon arose. The firm and chewy texture of the noodles is achieved using a specific type of wheat grown in Kagawa.


Chef Shoichi Mori has been making udon for over 30 years, I hear
Triple Three flew in master udon chef Shoichi Mori who has been making udon for decades. He will give udon-making demonstrations at various intervals during dinner. Freshly made udon, yum.


Udon, chawanmushi, and tempura
Pardon the stark lighting in the photos. The udon was pleasant but what I found more alluring was the stock they used. Made with iriko (baby sardines), shoyu and I'm sure some kelp and bonito, it's delicate and yet such a fine balance of sweet, savoury and umami. Remember to add some freshly fried tempura on top - the live tempura station is quite good. Pair it with the simple yuzu-accented chawan mushi which is uber-smooth and tasty.


Those matcha bread rolls are surprisingly addictive!
Next to the udon station is this unassuming little array of breads, rolls and cheeses. I took a chance with the matcha roll and it was delightful. I know, it is counterintuitive to stuff oneself with bread at a buffet, but this is really quite nice.


The Indian fare is actually very good
The Indian section is surprisingly good. Briyani, naans, curries and even a yuzu-scented tandoori chicken.


Fantastic selection of sashimi, including kinmedai, but sadly, quality was not there
The sashimi section looks great with a generous variety of fish including kinmedai. These were all airflown from Japan, but the cuts were not as fresh or well-sliced as I had hoped. You might have better luck at the chilled seafood and salad section, just across from this.


Mixed sushi, sashimi, katsuo tataki and tempura
The maki is a bit better. There is a katsuo tataki (tuna gently seared on the outside) that's supposed to be a highlight (see back of plate), but I felt it was just a bit too fishy for me.


Live teppan station
Live teppan station has the chef slicing and dicing - beef, flounder, prawns and assorted vegetables.


Teppanyaki platter
It's good. Even better than the carvery that has wagyu beef steak and ham.


Lobster mentaiyaki
They also have a deep-frying and grilling station. Get your lobster mentaiyaki there! Plus crispy octopus and a pan-fried seabass that's almost as sweet and tender as cod. There are also various croquettes (very creamy and soft), fried fish cake, as well as a nice pumpkin cake.


The desserts are good
Desserts proved very comforting. Yuzu meringue tarts, orange almond cake, matcha mousse with adzuki beans, and some green tea macarons. DO NOT SKIP THE ICE CREAM! All flown in from Kochi. Try all the flavours, they are all superb! The orange, adzuki, goma and strawberry are incredibly smooth and creamy, while the yuzu (Kochi ice cream) is powerfully fragrant and tangy.

While the buffet area looks pretty compact, there's plenty of food and something for everyone. I'll be looking out for the next promo they have.


Triple Three at Mandarin Orchard Hotel, Singapore

Note that this promotion is available only for dinner, and runs only til 4 March 2012.

Bountiful Flavours of Kochi & Kagawa
24 February to 4 March

DINNER ONLY (6:30 -10pm)
Adult : $118++ ($138.90 nett)
Child : $33++ ($38.85 nett) – 5 to 12yrs old
Toddler : $9.99++ ($11.75 nett) – 2 to 4yrs old

J Plus Magazine and Mangosteen Club readers will also enjoy the 1 for 1 promotion* when they produce the cut-out coupon from those magazines. These publications are targeted at Japanese expatriates living in Singapore.

Bank promotions:

  • Standard Chartered - 1 for 1 promotion
  • DBS – 40% discount on total food bill + 1 soft drink
  • American Express – 15 % discount on total food bill
  • ANZ/CITIBANK/HSBC/MAYBANK/OCBC/UOB and NTUC Membership card – 10% discount on total food bill



*Service charge and tax applies to complimentary diners. Maximum of 8 Adults per card.
*Children not included or entitled to discounts.
*Not valid in conjunction with other special discounts and privileges.



TRIPLE THREE
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road
Singapore 238867
Tel: +65 6831 6288/71

Open daily
Noon – 2.30pm (Lunch)
6.30pm – 10.00pm (Dinner)
Noon - 3pm (Sunday Brunch)


Many thanks to Ruth and team from Mandarin Orchard for the hosting the media dinner.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chefs Pang Kok Keong, Julien Bompard, and Andre Chiang on stage at De Dietrich 2012 launch

Last month De Dietrich unveiled my dream home appliances - the 2012 Collection.

We saw endorsement from Chefs Pang Kok Keong, Julien Bompard, and Andre Chiang (who is the Asia chief ambassador of De Dietrich, although for some reason he's looking a wee bit like the US commander-in-chief Obama in my shot here).


Le Piano Zoneless Induction Hob 1 DTIM!000C
The new collection is not only aesthetically gorgeous, it got all of De Dietrich's reliable precision and engineering. This Le Piano Zoneless induction hob (photo courtesy of De Dietrich) is an industry first - a fully zoneless cooking hob. You can put up to five different pots of any size or shape. There are even modes that will allow you to move the pots around and the system will remember their chosen settings. A cool piece of tech, yours for just S$11,880.


ANDRE_CONTINUUM_HOB DTI1163X
Witness also The Philosopher Continuum Hob (S$6,800) by Chef Andre Chiang (photo courtesy of De Dietrich). A lone olive tree stands as symbol of southern France and musings of Chef Chiang's Octaphilosophy. There are four flexible cooking zones in this compact W650 x D250 (mm) hob. Perfect for apartment kitchens. I waant.

The 2012 Collection is dubbed the "Jewels of the Kitchen" and for the launch event, they tied up with local jewellery designer Marilyn Tan and e-boutique Doorstep Luxury.

The event partnered local jewellery designer Marilyn Tan and Doorstep Luxury e-boutique
Marilyn's pearls are gorgeous. These are styled a la 1950s, while the De Dietrich appliances are very 2050.

In the De Dietrich Premium Collection, you also have appliances styled in a choice of White, Grey and Black Pearl finishes with chrome accents.

The Black Pearl Collection
Even men can't resist looking at these gems.


Multifunction Plus Pyroclean Oven in White Pearl
The White Pearl is my favourite. Would go so well in my white kitchen...oh yes, I can dream.

This is the Multifunction Plus Pyroclean Oven (S$7,890). So pretty!

All touch controls on the panel
It features the I.C.S. (Intelligent Control System) with 16 most commonly used recipes and 99 pre-programmed dishes. No fiddly manual buttons to ruin with greasy fingers. It's all touch-enabled.

There are also 45-cm Ovens in three configurations: Combi-Steam Oven, Combi-Microwave Oven, and Poly Oven (mixture of multifunction oven, microwave and combi-microwave oven with roomy 40L capacity). The combi ovens will shave up to 50% of your cooking time for dishes like roasts.


Even the dishwasher looks so luxurious!
Even the dishwasher looks so gleamingly glamorous!

I regret not shoving people aside to take more photos of these beauties.

Over at the Corium Collection, there are also multifunction ovens (S$6,080) in glass and stainless steel designs. These combine traditional French cooking techniques with innovations to roast, cook, grill and even prepare dishes with a Low Temperature feature.

DD_Steam Oven Platinum_DOV1145X.jpg
The Steam Oven (S$3,480) in Black or Platinum (photo courtesy of De Dietrich) is one of De Dietrich's best-selling 45cm ovens. You can use the steam function to prepare healthier dishes without fear of overcooking or losing nutrients. All this in addition to reheating, rehydrating, defrosting, blanching and keeping food warm.


DD_The Crescendo Updraft Hood White Pearl_DHD1191W.jpg
The Crescendo Updraft Hood (S$2,397 with wall casing at S$357) is available in White, Grey and Black Pearl (photo courtesy of De Dietrich). So sleek! How does it work? It moves down towards the hob to remove all cooking funes at 800m3/h suction power, and then fully retracts back into the cabinetry or casing!


DD_Built-in Espresso Machine_DED1140X.JPG
There is also a Built-in Espresso Machine (S$4,980). Select your water or steam temperature and coffee grinding level for that perfect cup of coffee. This machine also uses 15-bar pump pressure for intense coffee flavour extraction when a minimum of 9-bar is usually the requirement for good espresso. Product photo courtesy of De Dietrich.



Here's a video of the new products.

Meanwhile, follow De Dietrich on Facebook - lots of useful tips and recipes.

Update: You can also download the "World of De Dietrich" iOS app (for both iPhone and iPad). It has over 100 recipes, cooking and maintenance tips, product info, cooking class details, news and event updates. It's got recipes from Andre Chiang and Pierre Gaignare! Plus promos and discounts from partners like Huber Butchery, Indoguna, Le Creuset, and Doorstep Luxury.



To see the actual products, visit the De Dietrich showroom - the new collection will be installed there end of March 2012.

La Galerie De Dietrich
#01-04 The Cendex
120 Lower Delta Road
Tel : +65 6508-4600

Opening Hours:
Mon – Fri : 10.30am – 7pm
Sat : 10.30am – 6pm

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Otto chef-owner Michele Pavanello
I've heard many good things about Otto Ristorante, so I was quite pleased when the opportunity surfaced to meet owner-chef Michele Pavanello. The burly good-humoured chef is currently offering a seasonal menu inspired by the chilly winter in Italy. The menu with hearty dishes will run til end April. Note that these are all tasting portions.


Amuse bouche
A small appetiser to tease the palate. Very savoury pop of mushrooms (morel, I presume).


Slow cooked slipper lobster with leek veloute and morel mushroom
Cicala di Mare Cotta in Bassa Temperatura con Passatina di Porri e Morchelle
Slow cooked slipper lobster with leek veloute and morel mushroom (S$28).

I love the leek veloute, so fine and light! The slipper lobster is nicely done, not overcooked, and so conveniently deshelled. And those precious savoury mushrooms give the dish savoury oomph. I personally prefer morel mushrooms to truffles, any day.



Cocoa bean crusted foie gras with port wine reduction
Fegato grasso in Crosta di Cacao Grezzo e Riduzione al Porto
Cocoa bean crusted foie gras with port wine reduction (S$28).

Cocoa with foie gras? Well, it is quite inspired, as cocoa nibs when roasted acquire a nutty flavour that simply sets off the rich flavours of the goose liver. Nice.

This is a dish they have had to bring back to the menu, due to popular demand. Chef Pavanello joked that even though his is an Italian restaurant, he has to put this on the menu, or else the diners will have a "revolution"!


Veneto style borlotti bean and pasta soup with pepper prawn
Pasta e Fagioli alla Venetta con Gambero al Pepe e Ciciole
Veneto style borlotti bean and pasta soup with pepper prawn (S$15)

Chef Pavanello has given a twist to this classic Northern Italian winter soup. Normally it is beans with various pig parts, and indeed the soup has lots of pork stock, bacon flavour and even toppings of pork crackling for texture, but the addition of peppery prawns adds more dimension than pork alone can. But while interesting, the flavours can come across as somewhat intense.


Homemade squid ink tagliolini with lemon and chilli marinated prawn
Taglioni al Nero di Seppia con Gamberi Marinati al Limone e Peperoncino
Homemade squid ink tagliolini with lemon and chilli marinated prawn (S$28)

This is one of Chef Pavanello's specialties reinvented. He first prepared this in 2002 when he first arrived in Singapore (oh, so it's been ten years already). It seems locals can't get enough of the juicy local live prawns in the tangy sauce of lemon and chili. But it's not very spicy, so don't worry.


European sea bass fillet with sautéed mushrooms and potato
Filetto di Branzino in Padella con Funghi e Patate alla Genovese
European sea bass fillet with sautéed mushrooms and potato (S$42)

This one was not as impressive. Perhaps the sea bass was a little too thin, because it seemed a tad overcooked and had lost its more delicate flavours. The regular portion may fare better.

But clearly, Chef has saved the best for last.


Crispy “suckling pig” lacquered with acacia honey and balsamic vinegar
Maialino da Latte Croccante Laccato al Miele d'Acacia e Balsamico Stravecchio
Crispy “suckling pig” lacquered with acacia honey and balsamic vinegar (S$42)

Pavanello says he's tried Chinese-style suckling pig, but finds that too much emphasis is placed on the crispy skin, and the meat often ends up fibrous and dry. I really want to know where he's been eating, so I will never discover that.

His technique of slow-cooking the meat (sous-vide style) does yield tender meat. And the skin, while it looks almost lacquer-hard, cracks easily under your fork. Along with fatty layers underneath, it's a juicy  treat laced with sweet and tangy accents. All of us loved this.



Otto is nice whether for romantic dinners or business lunches

Otto's decor is elegantly chic without being stifling. It's serious enough for business, and yet cosy enough for romantic dinners. The food while approximating fine dining, still maintains a certain homemade charm about it. Knowledgeable staff and unobtrusive service round up what should be a pleasant dining experience.


OTTO RISTORANTE
28 Maxwell Road
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building
Singapore 069120
Tel: +65 6227 6819
Open
Mon-Fri: noon to 2.30pm (lunch)
Mon-Sat: 6.30pm to 10.30pm (dinner)
Closed Sundays



Thanks to Touch Communications for hosting the media lunch, and Otto for the invitation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blooming Prosperity

Do you always choose the same thing whenever you're at a Chinese iced dessert stall? I like to study the entire menu board of psychedelic colours, but still end up settling for what's familiar. Mostly because attempts at trying other things usually make me wish I'd stuck to my favourite choices.

But yesterday, on a whim, I chose this 富贵开花 (S$2) - which practically says "Blooming Prosperity"! It's a medley of more than 10 ingredients - coral weed jelly, basil seeds, chin chow, aloe vera, attap chee, QQ tadpole pearls, orange pearls, young coconut, rose jelly, other jellies, and some artificially green strips that tasted like artificial green mango (but it was tasty). Lots of ice, pandan syrup and a lime to boot.

I quite like this. Plus the name is a hoot!


TIAN TIAN YUAN
30 Seng Poh Road
#02-15 Tiong Bahru Food Centre and Market
Singapore 168898
Tel: Ms Cheng 9126-8548
Open 11am to 11pm; closed Wednesdays
Pig stomach soup with meatballs

Pig stomach soup never quite looks enticing, but it is such a bowl of comfort.

This is the Teochew style of pig offal soup (I opted out of the other piggy parts - kidney, intestines, lean meat, skin, and especially liver). The soup base is "cheng" or clear. And the pig stomach has been so thoroughly cleaned, there is zero offensive smell. The unexpected highlight here is the salted vegetables. The sweet pickled tang of the salted mustard leaves really helps to 开胃, (lit. open the stomach) pardon the pun. Highly appetising.

The Koh Brothers have a very long history and have earned raves for their decades of hard work. I only hope that they will be able to continue, and their successors unafraid of the laborious chores cleaning the innards and preparing the broth until it is perfect balance of flavours.


Koh Brothers Pig Organ Soup at Tiong Bahru
They may be from the 1950s but they have a Facebook page, OK!


KOH BROTHERS PIG ORGAN SOUP
30 Seng Poh Road
#02-29 Tiong Bahru Food Centre
Singapore
Open 9am to 3pm, closed Mondays
Let's take a break. A tea break. And what better name for gourmet tea delicacies than Hediard?

The French high luxury brand is synonymous with fine foods, confectionery and gifts, but at the Hediard Cafe-Boutique at Tudor Court, you can now enjoy full meals - breakfast, lunch, dinner - using Hediard delicacies in a menu designed by Parisian chef Vincent Caraillon. It's also a way to try before you buy.

There is a special degustation set for two that's been put together as a UniQgift experience. The UniQgift Degustation Delights (S$68) gift box allows your gift recipient to choose from 16 restaurants to dine at, and Hediard is one of them.


Duck foie gras, Norwegian smoked salmon, a mini croq’Ferdinand accompanied by a roquette salad with mango vinaigrette
The special set comprises a platter of duck foie gras, Norwegian smoked salmon, a mini croq’Ferdinand accompanied by a roquette salad with mango vinaigrette. Yes, the smoked salmon, foie gras and various items are all Hediard products. If inspired, you can buy the ingredients and make this at home too.

The Croq'Ferdinand is named after the founder - Ferdinand Hediard. It's an insanely tasty ensemble of melted Gruyere, parma ham and mornay sauce on grilled bread. The smoked salmon too is especially full-bodied and flavoursome.


Tamara (Greek fish roe) and Zucchini Tartine
We also chose a tartine - Tamara (Greek fish roe) and Zucchini. Bet you've all tried mentaiko but not tamara. It's so rich and creamy, but without the spicy aspect of the Japanese counterpart. Together with the grilled zucchini, this went down a treat.


A fruit jelly, a trufflelines and an orangette
The set also includes this small but potent trio of a fruit jelly, a trufflelines and an orangette. These taste amazing, and we also got to hear how they were made. With great care and effort, I'll just say.


The Fantaisy - an alcohol-free sparkling peach drink
Instead of our glass of wine included in the set, we chose to have "The Fantaisy" - an alcohol-free sparkling peach drink. Perfect when served ice-cold.


The famous chocolate croissant
While you are there, don't miss their famous chocolate croissant. Take a bite and the shatteringly crispy croissant will melt into buttery goodness on your tongue.

The restaurant's entire menu (including prices and photos) is online, so that's really useful for reference. I hear the duck confit calling me already to come back.


There are close to a thousand items in the Hediard Boutique!
Over at the boutique, you'll be astounded by the variety of goods they have. Over 1,000 Hediard items are available here - specialty fruit jams, coffees, teas, confections, condiments, smoked salmon, caviars, foie gras, and the cellar has entire walls of wines and champagne.

There are 240 varieties of tea alone, over 30 varieties and blends of coffee, over 70 spices, including the rarest and hardest to find, more than 50 fruit and flower petal jams, marmalades and jellies, including low-sugar jams, 25 traditional and original mustards and vinegars of all flavours, oils and condiments from around the world, traditional biscuits and so forth.


The Hediard Cafe-Boutique in Singapore is the only one in Asia

This is the only Hediard Cafe-Boutique in South-east Asia, it seems (several in Dubai but only Singapore is listed on the website for Asia). Travelers come from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia to scoop up some of the luxury jams, jellies and specialty produce. Who knew this little place tucked away in Tudor Court is so coveted?

The quiet location makes it perfect for a leisurely meal away from Orchard Road's hustle and bustle. It does mean you do need to make a trip specifically there, and not just drop in while shopping at a mall. But the experience is worth it, and the colonial style shophouse only adds to the charm. I certainly will be back to explore more.


HEDIARD CAFE-BOUTIQUE
123-125 Tanglin Road
Tudor Court
Singapore 247921
Tel: +65 6333 6683
Open daily 9am to 9pm



Many thanks to UniQgift for arranging this degustation experience, and it was a great pleasure chatting with Verena, the lady boss who established the Hediard Cafe-Boutique in Singapore.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chefs cooking up a storm with Hida Beef - the aroma was so tantalizing!

Have you been to Gifu prefecture in Japan? Well, no matter as Gifu has brought some of its glorious best to Singapore. The "Feel Gifu" campaign (Feb-Mar 2012) highlights the food, culture and travel aspects of the prefecture across several events here.

Thanks to Yvonne of Giorgio Ferrari, I got a peek at the Hida Beef Fair trade event yesterday at Pan Pacific Hotel. The whole ballroom was filled with the sizzle and aroma of tantalizing beef.

Some of the best wagyu in Japan come from Hida (Gifu prefecture), Kobe and Matsusaka (Mie Prefecture).



Hida Beef

The brand name "Hida Beef" is given only to best-quality beef from the Japanese black breed cattle fattened for 14 months in Gifu prefecture. The meat is ranked at grades 3,4 or 5 (with 5 being the most premium). And as you know, the Japanese are extremely meticulous when it comes to their cattle - with strict attention to their bloodlines, diet and daily care.

Supply is limited, but you can enjoy Hida beef in Singapore at restaurants like Kuriya Penthouse (see review), Shabu-shabu Gen, and Aoki.

I first tasted Hida beef at Goto. That was, and still is, one of my most memorable meals. Chef Hisao Goto is apparently from Gifu himself.

Flambé!!

Flambé teppanyaki! Onto the griddle, those marbled meats go!


Pardon the lighting, but the teppanyaki Hida beef was simply awesome. So too the tomatoes and shiitake mushroom.

Pardon the photo taken in difficult lighting. But the beef is simply awesome. So too, the tomatoes and shiitake mushroom (also from Gifu).



Shabu-shabu section of the Hida Beef Fair

They also served it shabu-shabu style.


Meltingly tender shabu-shabu

My little bowl of heaven. The meat is meltingly tender and sweet.



"Mino Musume" strawberries from Gifu

The beef is not all that's fabulous about Gifu. Just look at these magnificent strawberries! So naturally red and shiny. Wait til you take a bite! They are perfection - the right balance of sweet and tart, full of fruity fragrance and juicy firmness.


Chocolate-dipped Gifu strawberries

Great when dipped in chocolate too...but they are matchless on their own.


Eleven breweries presented their wares

Eleven breweries also presented their specialty sake. There were so many wonderful new flavours and complexities in the drinks we tasted.

There is a Gifu Sake Street happening 17 to 26 Feb at Mogambo and Public House at the top of Canton Street in Boat Quay. Sake cocktails going at S$10 each!


Sakedelic

I really like the Sakedelic, which is a fruit-based sake drink, apparently invented by a lady. Flavours include passionfruit, muscat and cherry blossom. It's very refreshing and has only 5% alcohol. Love the packaging, especially the Hokusai Great Wave given a psychedelic twist.

It's available at Orihara (#01-01/02 Robertson Walk) in Singapore. Nice to see the folks there again. I met them during Sho Naganuma's masterclass.


Hatsushimo Rice from Gifu

Hatsushimo rice was also on display. How full and fat the grains look.



"Mitake Hanazushi" rose-shaped sushi rolls are a Gifu specialty

"Mitake Hanazushi" rose-shaped sushi rolls are a Gifu specialty. They also make them in other flower shapes - lily and peony. Hatsushimo rice is used to make these hanazushi.


Gifu

You can read the "Feel Gifu" booklet online to see the full details of activities in Singapore, and also suggested itineraries to central Japan. I have been wanting to visit Gifu (especially Takayama). Someday, someday.

Remember to check out Gifu too at NATAS this weekend too (24-26 Feb 2012 at Expo Hall 4&5, 10am to 9.30pm).
 
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