Sunday, March 30, 2014

Malaysia Boleh at Jurong Point: Some of the Best Street Food from Penang and KL In One Place!

Penang char kway teow at Malaysia Boleh

Ah, there's something about street food in Malaysia that draws hordes of Singaporeans up north, and makes Malaysians here completely pining for food back home.

Someone saw this need, and went up to Malaysia to learn recipes from famous hawkers, so that we can have them all in one place here.

The Malaysia Boleh food court opened at Jurong Point more than a year ago, but is still bustling with fans, despite its location out in the far west (near Boon Lay MRT).

We tried out the dishes to see which ones "boleh" (can) pass the test.
My verdict is out in Yahoo Makanation.
https://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/fave-five-malaysia-boleh-023616831.html 

There were quite a few surprises, as you'll see. For me, my favourites were not the popular Penang char kway teow (above) or the KL-style dark Hokkien mee (below), but the wantan noodles and curry mee.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Much Do You Know About Dyslexia in Singapore? Association Opens 13th Centre in Chua Chu Kang

Many dyslexics are great at art

Dyslexia.

We've all heard about it, but do we really know what it is? For the longest time, I only had peripheral awareness of it. I just thought it was this thing where people kept confusing mirror images of certain letters (like b-d, or p-q). Well, understandably, it's a lot more than that. And it's fascinating stuff.

Also, it's more common than thought, affecting 10% of Singaporeans. There may be 15-20% of Americans who are dyslexic according to Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity (interesting how the two are together - dyslexics are often very creative).

Famous dyslexics include Lee Kuan Yew, Richard Branson, and Albert Einstein (who didn't speak until he was four). I'm surprised the list includes Orlando Bloom, Steven Spielberg, Jules Verne, Nikola Tesla, Jamie Oliver (well, OK, not so surprised), Steve Jobs (WHAT?!?), CNN's Anderson Cooper (wow!), Keanu Reeves (whoa), Charles Schwab, Galileo, da Vinci, Thomas Edison and John Lennon.





For me, special needs education and the different ways we learn has been something close to my heart. My older girl Nadine, who has Down Syndrome, has opened up my world to many amazing individuals, and the beautiful souls who are their teachers. My younger girl has just started primary school, so learning to read and write is a great adventure.

It's interesting that we so often associate being smart with being able to read well. But reading is not an innate biological skill, like talking is. Reading's a cultural construct. And not all of us take naturally to it.

Dyslexia is not an intellectual disability; it is a learning difference. Dyslexic people may have difficulty decoding written words or matching sounds to words, so it can be frustrating. MRI scans show dyslexic and regular brains fire up in different zones when tackling the same task.



This summary is from Margie Gillis, from Yale University, who spoke about dyslexia being a blessing and curse. While they struggle with things as basic to us as spelling, dyslexics are often exceptional at spatial analysis, mechanical aptitude, creative problem-solving, visualization, artistic expression and athletics. More signs of dyslexia here from the Yale website.


Do you know dyslexia?

Early intervention can help individuals cope, but many people go undiagnosed. Worse, they get labelled stupid or become hampered as they struggle along without help. Both teachers and parents need to learn to "teach differently" too. Phonics instruction tends to be more effective, as are other specialised instruction techniques.


Jimmy Malkani at the DAS opening
The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) last week opened its 13th Learning Centre at Chua Chu Kang. I was surprised there were so many learning centres across the island, but if you think about it - 10% of the population means that 4 out of typically 40 students in a class might be dyslexic. That's a lot of kids who need targeted assistance.

This Centre is one of DAS's largest, with capacity to hold up to 400 students in 12 classrooms. It will offer services for children with learning difficulties, assessment services, preschool programmes and educational therapy programmes in literacy and math. Currently there are about 2600 students in DAS.

The Chua Chu Kang Learning Centre was constructed with funds from a dedicated donor, Mr Rajesh Malkani in memory of his late mother who believed in giving back to society. He is the Head of Private Bank, South East and North East Asia, Standard Chartered Private Bank.


Dyslexic Association of Singapore opens 13th centre at Chua Chu Kang
At the official opening: DAS CEO Mr. Robin Moseley, DAS Assistant Honorary Secretary Mr. Arun Desai, DAS Vice-President Mr. Eric Lee, Chua Chu Kang CCC Chairman Mr. Ng Hock Lye, DAS President Mr. Jimmy Daruwalla, DAS student Rosila Rajan, Minister for Health and Member of Parliament for the Chua Chu Kang GRC Mr. Gan Kim Yong, Special Guests Mr. & Mrs Rajesh Malkani, DAS Honorary Treasurer Mr. Vincent Chen, DAS Senior Educational Therapist Ms. Nur Aisyah Bte Hashim.


Preschool program for dyslexic children

There are programs in Singapore that can help dyslexic children from preschool to secondary school levels. There is a very detailed screening test as well. Contact DAS (www.das.org.sg) at their hotline +65 6444-5700 for more information.

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Contest Results: Winner of Canon LEGRIA Mini is...

Thank you everyone who participated in the Canon LEGRIA mini contest, kindly sponsored by Canon Singapore. It was seriously hard picking a winner, what with cute baby faces, musical and dancing kids, all tugging at heartstrings. But we had to choose just one. And it's Juneleety, who submitted not just one but five videos! I like the "lo-hei" one - it really captured the spirit of communal celebration. She wins the nifty LEGRIA mini camcorder worth S$429. Keep on making great videos, you guys!




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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Giveaway: The Canon 'Pocketful of Memories' LEGRIA Mini (Great Vlogging Portable Camcorder)



Ever wanted to bring the phrase 'A Pocketful of Memories' to life? The Canon LEGRIA Mini makes this possible! The LEGRIA Mini is a lightweight camcorder that fits snugly into your pocket and comes with a built-in stand, making it ideal for shooting on-the-go, capturing interviews and for Vlogging. It got a wide-angle f2.8 lens, and instant-share network capabilities!

I've used the LEGRIA Mini briefly. It feels handy and sleek. The basic functions - recording and playback - are quite intuitive. But I wish the wifi functions are more upfront. They deserve an icon of their own on the main interface, or at least upfront on the playback screen.

The tilt screen swivels to face both ways, so it's convenient whether you're recording yourself or another person. There's a little stand at the bottom that props up the camcorder, but if you are vlogging, I find placing the camcorder at eye level is much better than the bottom-up view.

Operations are via the touchscreen.You can draw on it, add animations, and generally trim or edit your shots. Video quality is very good. I wish you could do live streaming, or use it for online video conferencing too.

And just as I was trying to clear away some unwanted videos, I managed to delete everything except one useless two-second shot. Sigh. So no sample video for now. Maybe later I'll add something.




Win a Canon LEGRIA Mini worth S$429 by sharing a special moment with us!

Here's how:

1. Share a short video (minimum 15 seconds, the length of an Instagram video) on your Facebook or Instagram account of a special moment in your life! It could be quality time with your friends or family, a video of your cute pet, or anything under the sun that makes you happy! Make sure the post is public, so we can view it too.

2. Then, caption it and add the following hashtags: #Canonberu #canonsg

3. Please tag me @camemberu as well so I can track your entries. If you'd like, you can email me your video link too, or add it to my Facebook Fan page post.

One lucky reader will win a brand new Canon LEGRIA Mini! This contest ends 25th March, at 1159pm, and the winner will be announced here on 26th March. All the best, and I look forward to receiving your entries!


Photo taken with the Canon PowerShot G16, loaned by Canon Singapore
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bacchanalia: Sharing Plates of Ingenuity (from Chefs Who Trained at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck)

UPDATE 2015: Bacchanalia has moved to Hong Kong Street
UPDATE 2016: The Kitchen at Bacchanalia wins one Michelin star

Bacchanalia - dining area

Bacchanalia is a beautiful place. The grand lush interiors are a stunning backdrop for avant garde cuisine, carefully crafted cocktails and divine conversation.

The trio of chefs - Executive Head Chef Ivan Brehm, Sous Chef Mark Ebbels and Executive Pastry Chef Kostas Papathanasiou - all trained at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. Chef Ivan also worked in the kitchens of Per Se, Mugaritz and Hibiscus.

So you can expect familiar classics from East and West reinvented and given unexpected twists.
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Friday, March 7, 2014

Lolla at Ann Siang Road: Simply Inspired



I wrote about Lolla a year ago, when they were this hip new place that Zagat zoomed in on as One of the World's Top 10 Hottest Places to Eat.
http://sg.entertainment.yahoo.com/news/lolla-got-local-talent-115220597.html

The folks here are still doing what they love best - feeding people yummy little plates of simple but inspired dishes. The focus is on exceptional produce, and not pretentious gimmicky techniques.

Their signature Sea Urchin Pudding now comes in an upsized version (full portion $36) with double the uni. The previous portion (you can see a photo of it in my article above) is still available at $19. But oh, the wow factor that comes with the extra helping of really good Hokkaido sea urchin is priceless.

This is still quite an unusual dish. Many people have wondered what goes into flavouring this savoury custard. Well, I know there's egg yolks, cream and squid ink. But there's gotta be something else. Some people think of century eggs! Maybe due to the dark colour of the custard but no, that's not the flavour.


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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lovely Seasonal Kaiseki at Nadaman at Shangri-La Singapore with new Head Chef Ishizuka Takaya


Nadaman is the first Japanese restaurant I have eaten at in Singapore, so it holds good memories for me. It's had a long history but its culinary repertoire remains classically Japanese. I had not been back in a long while, but now that they have a new head chef, I thought I would go and see what it is like.

Chef Ishizuka Takaya comes to us from Nadaman Zipangu Tokyo. Before returning to Japan, he helmed the kitchens of Nadaman at Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong for seven years.

Driven by the desire to impart his Japanese culinary skills to young aspiring chefs in Hong Kong, he also joined the recognised VTC Hospitality Industry Training Development Centre as a culinary instructor for two years.

Chef Ishizuka comes from a family of chefs and discovered his passion for cooking at the tender age of nine. He started with the Nadaman group in 1991 and honed his skills at the flagship restaurant at Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

He will use his 23 years of expertise to present seasonal and regional specialties from the countryside, which are often more interesting, fresh in flavour, simple yet delicious.


Photo courtesy of Shangri-La Singapore  


We were treated to the lovely Aoi Kaiseki (about S$165++ for dinner), which showcased some of Chef Ishizuka's signature items. We also saw many new ingredients never seen before.


Assorted Appetizer: boiled spring vegetables, milk tofu with wasabi sauce, firefly squid with spring cabbage and seaweed in vinegar miso sauce
Assorted Appetizer:
boiled spring vegetables topped with bonito flakes and mild sauce,
milk tofu with wasabi sauce,
firefly squid with spring cabbage and seaweed in vinegar miso sauce.

All three are delicate starters, and I loved the vinegar miso sauce. The firefly squid is so tiny (these are fully cooked, so I guess no painful jabs of insemination will happen if you chomp on them).



Soup: Clear "Hamaguri" clam soup, fish and clam cake, and "Udo" bud
Soup:
Clear "Hamaguri" clam soup, fish and clam cake, and "Udo" bud

A simple broth with seafood goodness. The Japanese are so good at this.


"Udo" bud, which is really more like a root vegetable
I was very curious about the Udo bud, so I asked to see what it was like before cooking. Turns out it's a root vegetable, much like a yam. I think it was cut into white strips in the soup.


And next came the Sashimi course (first photo above) - beautiful sweet slices of fresh fish with real grated wasabi. I've strangely gone off sashimi (or maybe I just can't tolerate moderate quality sashimi anymore), but really good sashimi like this restores my faith and interest again.


Bonus course - seasonal vegetables on ice
Bonus course - seasonal vegetables on ice
This was not on the menu, but it was absolutely delightful. Ambrosial tomatoes, watermelon radish, carrots, apple-like radishes, mizuna and various seasonal produce served with a superb mayo dip.



Simmered dish: White radish, sea bream roe, "Fuki" vegetable and carrot
Simmered dish:
White radish, sea bream roe, "Fuki" vegetable and carrot

Simple fresh flavours. The "Fuki" vegetable is a butterbur native to Japan. It's a spring vegetable akin to celery or rhubarb, and slightly bitter. You eat the stalk, which is crunchy.


Bonus course of butter-fried asparagus and abalone
Another bonus course!
This time of butter-fried asparagus and abalone. Amazingly done. There is a teppan genius at work here, I tell you.


Deep-fried dish: Tempura mild cod roe with Shiso leaves, Japanese smelt fish and "Taranome" with light bonito soy sauce
Deep-fried dish:
Tempura mild cod roe with Shiso leaves, Japanese smelt fish and "Taranome" with light bonito soy sauce

The cod roe wrapped with Shiso leaves stood out with its stronger flavours. The taranome is also interesting if you've never had it before. It's a mountain vegetable, usually found in the wild, and the shoots are often eaten in the spring.



Grilled Dish: Pan-fried Japanese sirloin beef with teriyaki and vegetable, served with radish vinegar soy sauce and pickled garlic
Grilled Dish:
Pan-fried Japanese sirloin beef with teriyaki and vegetable, served with radish vinegar soy sauce and pickled garlic

What did I say about teppan genius? Here comes my favourite dish of the night. Honestly, look at the marbling in that wagyu - there's more fat than meat! It's good fat, by the way, mostly monounsaturated, but still feels so sinful! The grilled mushrooms were also delicious.

Love the dipping sauces as well - a ponzu with radish and a garlic soy sauce.



The Kamameshi steamed rice
The Kamameshi steamed rice is the final course before dessert. Oh lovely Sakura shrimp - the aroma that wafted out was incredible. Lots of tender bamboo shoot too.


Rice with "sakura" shrimp, served with pickles and red bean miso soup
The rice is served with pickles and red bean miso soup. Your carb filler at the end of the meal.


Dessert of vanilla ice cream, sago and gula melaka
Dessert:
vanilla ice cream, sago and gula melaka

This is uncharacteristically unJapanese, but still good to the last rich coconutty drop.


Nadaman at Shangri-La Singapore
Nadaman belongs to the group of restaurants first founded in 1830 in Osaka. This kaiseki dinner was not only tasty but quite educational. Chef did well bringing in seasonal produce and transforming them into

You can see the Shangri-La Singapore outlet's full menus online.


NADAMAN
Lobby Level, Tower Wing
22 Orange Grove Road
Singapore 258350
Tel: +65 6213-4571
Open daily
Lunch: noon to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10.30pm


The word Nadaman laid out in pebbles at the entrance

Many thanks to Shangri-La Hotel Singapore for the invitation
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dallas Cuddy Goes to Bali: The Prime Society Head Chef Guest Stars at Starfish Bloo, W Retreat and Spa Seminyak


Dallas Cuddy of The Prime Society became guest chef at Starfish Bloo at W Retreat & Spa Seminyak in Bali, Indonesia last month. The Melbourne-born chef lent his Nobu-honed skills and sunny smile to beautifully designed lunch and dinner menus at the award-winning resort. This was where he had free rein to play with ingredients and let his creativity shine through.

And it wasn't just his food that looked good, the dude is ridiculously photogenic - one shot (above) and I was done. Dang. That's too easy.


Starfish-Bloo-Communal-Table
Photo courtesy of W Retreat & Spa Bali
And what a gorgeous place the Starfish Bloo is. The Pan-Asian eatery is best known for local seafood and special signature creations. This is an official photo. Too bad I didn't think of taking pictures at sunset or twilight. Isn't it just stunning?


Starfish Bloo faces the beautiful beach
Starfish Bloo is also where you can enjoy a full breakfast/brunch against the picturesque backdrop of Seminyak’s sandy beachfront. It is blissfully warm - think weather in the 30s deg C (90s deg F), but the sea breezes help to diffuse the tropical humidity. (Boy, all the people freezing in New York and East Coast of USA this past uberwinter...yes, you need to come here).

The W Retreat & Spa here is jawdroppingly amazing - I am doing a separate and detailed review on the resort (once I have finished ploughing through my 900+ photos). Want to see the Presidential Suite that Paris Hilton and Mika Häkkinen stayed in? Well, separately, I presume... Yes, will show you those luxurious pads in an upcoming post.


Dallas Cuddy was guest chef at the W in Feb 2014
But back to the food! The W Bali had invited me to join the Dallas Cuddy media lunch, and it was such a privilege.


Dallas Cuddy at the media lunch
We met wonderful people from the Indonesia media.


Dallas Cuddy and former mentor Richard Millar
Here's Dallas Cuddy with Richard Millar, Director of Cuisine at the W Bali, who was also his mentor 10 years back in Australia. What a nice reunion.


Salmon Custard with Black Bread, Citrus and Roe
Salmon Custard with Black Bread, Citrus and Roe
The first course took us on a taste and texture adventure right away. The soft whipped salmon custard contrasted with the crunchy squid-ink lavash. Hints of yuzu delicately perfumed the custard while the salmon roe added salty punctuation.

The lunch came with cocktail pairings, concocted by the very talented Yudi Hendarsyah, Food & Beverage Manager at W Retreat and Spa Bali Seminyak.


Sherbet Mojito
Sherbet Mojito
This is a delightful orange take on the usual lime-rum-mint mojito. Yudi would astound us with the various cocktails that he had conjured up just for this event. The fact that he is largely self-trained impresses us even more. Speaking to him, we could see that it was a deep passion for his craft that drives him to explore what works and what doesn't in the world of mixology.


Scallops with grilled cucumber, and sea urchin
Scallops with grilled cucumber, and sea urchin
Clean and bold flavours came together here in the same showcase. The scallops were sliced real thin to melt in the mouth. The mellow grilled cucumber makes an earthy backdrop for the briny rich uni.

You can see the Japanese influence here. Nobu was a big turning point for Dallas. It was a whole new cuisine, like a new language to pick up. Japanese food focuses on light, fresh, subtle flavours and balance. Dallas finds that their respect for produce is amazing - from the whole life cycle and preparation of food, right down to filleting of fish.



CO2 Bubble Margarita
CO2 Bubble Margarita
Blood orange spherification meets fizzy espuma carbonation in a fun and delicious drink.



Duck breast with parfait, semi-dried carrot, mustard seeds
Duck breast with parfait, semi-dried carrot, mustard seeds
This was the course that won top raves around the table. The duck was roasted perfectly with flavours that blew us away. The dehydrated carrots proved amazing - it was not just flavour but colour that became more concentrated. And yet they retained a lovely sweet crunch. That orange sheet? A candied carrot puree crisp that added even more textural contrast to the tender duck breast.

Dallas likes different treatments of the same ingredient, so the three Ts - taste, temperature and texture - come into play across all his dishes.


W Cuba Libra
W Cuba Libra
The W housemade cherry cola (with dry ice in bottle) is poured into a glass of Ron Zacapa dark rum with glass top. The results is a mysteriously billowing concoction that has the headiness of a good red wine - perfect pairing with the duck.



Intense Pod chocolate pudding, honeycomb and hibiscus salt
Intense Pod chocolate pudding, honeycomb and hibiscus salt
Dessert came in an unexpectedly large bowl. I think chocolate lovers will go absolutely bananas, because this is the BEST chocolate I have ever had (and I'm not even a chocolate fiend). Yes, better than Valrhona or whatnot hoity toity high end brands. And guess what? The chocolate is produced from cocoa beans grown right here in Bali! Pod Chocolate is opposite Ubud, near the Sangeh Monkey Forest on the grounds of Bali Elephant Camp. Pity we didn't have enough time to hop over for a tour.

The aerated white chocolate and crunchy honeycomb go well with the pudding, but I love the sprinkles of hibiscus salt that give a subtle lift to the sweetness. Turns out Dallas prefers savoury desserts (ah, me too!). This dessert has some Spanish influence - they have something similar made of chocolate, olive oil and salt.


Alexander Nitro
Alexander Nitro
As if that huge bowl of chocolate nirvana was not enough, there's a dessert cocktail too. Lychee Vodka gelee with a scoop of frozen brandy, Baileys and lychee ice cream. The aroma of cinnamon powder is carried by more dry ice. Love the dented spoon served with the open can too.

The nightly tasting menus ran from about IDR700K++ (~US$60++) for five courses and IDR980K++ (~US$84) with cocktail pairings, which I thought were really good deals, especially with the cocktails.



Dallas, myself, Ian, Hans and Aini
I met some really nice Indonesian food bloggers - Ian (in pink shirt) of LyonandMia.com who also runs JKTgo.com, and Hans (in green shirt) who does Eats and Treats. We were hosted by the lovely Aini (far right) from W Bali who took great care of us during our 3D2N stay.

Dallas is a wonderful chef to talk to. He's known since the age of 12 that he wanted to be a chef, and his sporting background trained him to be competitive and strong-minded (endurance matters when you have to spend long hours in the kitchen with strong personalities).

This stint at W Bali allowed him to showcase his techniques, teach the staff here what he knows, and come up with something we could all enjoy.

He is also opening a new restaurant in Singapore this year, one that will offer food that is more along this playful style. It's a refinement he wants to get back to. I hope we get to hear more of that development soon.


STARFISH BLOO
Jl. Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali 80361 Indonesia
Tel: +62 (361) 3000 106
Open daily
Breakfast 07:00 AM - 10:30 AM;
Lunch 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM;
Dinner 6:00 PM - 11:00 PM;
Sunday Brunch 12:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Starfish Bloo at W Retreat & Spa Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

All photos (except where indicated) taken with the Canon EOS 70D kindly loaned by Canon Singapore. Ah, I miss that camera.  
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