Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sambal Belacan: Easy Recipe

Belacan (or belachan, however you spell it) is one of the best things in the world. It may smell worse than gym socks but oh, the umami power in that compressed block of fermented shrimp paste has no equal.

Yesterday, I tried making sambal belacan for the first time ever. I had no idea this delicious condiment was so easy to make. It tastes so insanely addictive I was sure all this while it would require skill and sorcery. After all, it's the yardstick by which we judge Peranakan restaurants and chefs.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

The db Bistro Junior Pastry Academy at Epicurean Market, Marina Bay Sands

Did you know db Bistro & Oyster Bar has a highly popular Junior Pastry Academy? Kids aged 5-10 pick up some baking skills while the parents relax with a glass of champagne or two.

The Junior Pastry Academy was back at the Epicurean Market with a cake-making workshop featuring The Trolls as a theme. It sure made for a colourful and energetic Saturday morning.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Epicurean Market 2017 at Marina Bay Sands (MBS): What's Good There

The Epicurean Market at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is back for its fifth year with both new and familiar highlights -- a huge wine fair, the Farmers Market, 30 masterclasses and special appearances by celebrity chefs. It's happening 11-13 August at Sands Expo Halls A, B and C.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

LaBrezza at St Regis Singapore: Domenica Italiana Weekend Brunch

Picture warm and wonderful family weekend feasts, with food lovingly cooked by grandmothers, dads or cousins. Everything is generously laid out, and the food just keeps coming.

Armando Aristarco, Chef de Cuisine at LaBrezza, St Regis Singapore, wants to recreate the spirit of such bountiful weekend feasts with Domenica Italiana.

It's a real feast indeed, and we easily spent five hours over prosecco and mirthful conversation.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Clifford Pier: Heritage Weekend Buffet Dinner

Hmm, this is one of those places that you want to tell everyone about but also want to keep as a hidden gem. The Clifford Pier in its current iteration as The Fullerton Bay Hotel's dining destination is gorgeously stunning and yet comfortably informal enough to relax in.

On weekends, they have a dinner buffet offering thoughtfully curated local specialties. The dishes don't change much, and I'm glad for that, because they are well-chosen indeed.

Take a look in this video at the ambience and the food.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

TONO Cevicheria: Peruvian Food and Cocktails in Singapore

We finally have what looks to be an authentic Peruvian cevicheria for the first time in Singapore. It's TONO Cevicheria at DUO Gallery near Bugis.

TONO means "party" in Peruvian; the stunning dishes, salsa music and cheerful energy of the Latin American staff certainly feel like a party with bold flavours. I love the logo of the fish dancing with the maracas, with a chili in its mouth and big hearts as its scales.

photo courtesy of TONO Cevicheria, credit: daphotographer
TONO is opened by Peruvian chef Daniel Chavez (left) who first came here when Santi opened at Marina Bay Sands. He then went on to open OLA Cocina del Mar at Marina Bay Financial Centre. He and Executive Chef Mario Malvaez (right) serve not just ceviche but a fascinating selection of Peruvian cuisine.

The chefs have all been trained in Lima, Peru. They bring in Peruvian ingredients like the chilies that you can't get here, but also source sustainable seafood such as line-caught fish from New Zealand. The kitchen will use local or regional ingredients where it makes sense.

Ceviche - Classico
This is their Ceviche Clasico (S$25) which comprises tangy cubes of raw fish, thinly sliced onions, sweet potato chips, lettuce, coriander and chili, all dressed in white tiger's milk. Tremendously appetising, to say the least.

Four basic elements go into ceviche – seafood, citrus (usually lime), chillies, and onions – and the resulting liquid coalesces into Tiger’s Milk, or ‘Le Leche de Tigre’, which cures the seafood.

TONO's white tiger's milk contains housemade fish stock, fish meat and garlic in addition to lime juice.

Ceviche - Nikkei
Ceviche is widely heralded as the national heritage dish of Peru. It is also the most democratic dish there, as cuts across cultures and societies.

This is their Nikkei (S$24) or ceviche with Japanese influences. Peru has had a pre-war influx of Japanese and Chinese immigrants. The Asian community now takes up about 20% of the population.

Sorry you can't really see the fish here but it's raw yellowfin tuna dressed in a tiger's milk that contains soy, mirin, chilies, hondashi, celery, onions, leeks, olive oil and sesame oil. For me, the familiar flavours of Japan lend themselves well to the raw fish dish, so this was mouthwateringly good.

Avocado Teradito
Avocado Tiradito (S$22)
Another dish with Japanese influence. This is purely vegetarian but it tastes so good you won't notice there's no fish or meat. It's avocado, mushrooms, palmito (heart of palm, very common in Amazonian Peru), and sweet potato chips.

Peru has Causas, a dish of whipped potatoes, ají pepper, limes and many different flavourful toppings. The selection includes tantalizing Lima, Solterito (S$22 above) and Escabeche. Crispy white fish is placed above the potato mash, fava beans, canchitas (air-dried Peruvian corn) and feta cheese with tomato and
black olive mayo. I really liked this one. Next time I'm having one all to myself.

More deep-fried goodness comes in the form of Jalea (S$34): Crispy calamari, fish, prawn, octopus, with tapioca chips, salsa criollo, and smoked chilli mayo. This hot dish contrasts beautifully with all the tangy cold raw fish earlier.

This is part of the Picqueos shareable nibbles. Other choices include Anticuchos (marinated chicken or beef skewers, chalaquita sauce and panca chilli); and
Plancha de Mariscos (grilled mixed seafood, red quinoa and huancaina sauce).

Another sharing Picqueos plate is the Chicharron (S$24), a well-executed dish of crispy pork belly, smoky chilli and amarillo sauce. The sauce is designed to be a little spicy but you'll notice more the smoky aspect than significant heat. The white sauce is made with parmesan cheese and almonds.

Amongst the Peruvian specialty mains is this excellent Huaita (S$32): Slow roasted pork, mint and coriander sauce, served with white bean stew and quinoa. This sauce also features smoked chillies to good effect.

The Aguadito (S$28) may not look as vibrant as the other dishes, but the flavours are no less rich. This coriander and cumin soup has a fish stock base and is cooked with long grain rice, crispy fish, marinated chicken, pumpkin and canchitas.

Lomo Saltado
The Lomo Saltados (S$40) is almost Chinese-style in its flavour profile. Dark and light soy feature prominently along with tomatoes, onions and coriander. However the unmistakable sourness of red wine vinegar stops this from being completely Asian. My tastebuds felt a little confused at first. They still voted for the pork dishes in the end.

Arroz Blanco
The beef does go well with the Peruvian-style Garlic Rice (S$4) which I found quite tasty on its own even.

Desserts are pretty low-key.

Alfajores (S$12): Butter cookies with 'Dulce de Leche' filling and mango mousse. If you still yearn for something with a sourish note, the mango here will do the trick. Dulce de Leche is often associated with Argentina, but Peruvians adore this too.

Combinado (S$12): Vanilla rice pudding and 'mazamorra' (made from ground purple corn boiled with pineapple skin, cloves, star anise, apples and quince).

Bomba rice is cooked with milk, cream, sugar, orange peel and vanilla. Some coconut puree is added at the end. These two are placed side by side and then topped with grapes and apple cubes. Reminds me of fruity oats.

TONO has various cocktails including this Chilcano made with Pisco, ginger ale, fresh lime and Amargo Bitters. Ceviche is typically eaten accompanied by Pisco Sour, the representative drink of the cevicheria, made of alcohol, citrus, egg white and Angostura bitters, with a foamy head.

In all, this is a fabulous find. The dishes themselves are conversation worthy and the big-hearted hospitality will make you want to return.

7 Fraser Street
#01-49/50 Duo Galleria
Singapore 189356
Tel: +65 6702 7320 / 9452 1008
Instagram: @tonocevicheria
Email: tono@tono.com.sg
Opening hours
Monday – Friday: Lunch: 12 pm – 2.30 pm (last order); Dinner : 6 pm - 10 pm (last order)
Saturday Dinner: Dinner - 6 pm – 10 pm (last order)
Closed on Saturday lunch & all day Sunday

Many thanks to TONO Cevicheria for the invitation. Photos (except where credited) taken with the Canon EOS M6 kindly loaned by Canon Singapore

Friday, July 28, 2017

Uma Uma Ramen Now Available As Takeaway

Uma Uma Ramen which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, has started serving takeaway ramen! Many customers were requesting this, so after months of R&D, they have come up with the best possible methods to pack their ramen.

Basically the broth is packed separately from the ramen. All you need to do is to combine the soup with the noodles when you're ready to eat.

Uma Uma Ramen Now Available as Takeaway
Here we have four different ramen dishes (clockwise from lower left): Uma Uma Ramen, Tan Tan Men, Mazesoba Chasiu, and Bushi Tonkotsu Ramen (our unanimous favourite, also in first photo).

There are side dishes too - Chicken Karaage, Chasiu Don and the mini One-bite Gyoza.

Uma Uma Ramen Takeaway
I think the packaging method works well, but it's still best to reheat the broth either before or after adding it to the noodles. Besides tasting better, it also helps the loosen up and soften the noodles.

I know many ramen shops don't allow takeaway because they feel the taste will be affected. But now there's an option if you aren't able to dine in, or want to bring ramen back to your home or office.

583 Orchard Road
Forum the Shopping Mall #01-41/42/43,
Singapore 238884
Tel: +65 6235 0855
Open daily 11.30AM – 10PM (last order 9.30PM)

Photos taken with the Canon EOS M6 kindly loaned by Canon Singapore

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bosch Series 6 Freestanding Dishwasher Review

My life has been changed.

Meet my new kitchen love, bringer of clean dishes and peace for my soul, the saviour of my hands and time. This is the Bosch Series 6 Freestanding Dishwasher (SMS63L08EA), and it has changed life as I know it:

  1. I will never have to labour over a sink full of dirty dishes again. 
  2. My pots, cups and dishes are cleaner than ever! That's mainly because the dishwasher can use water as hot as 75 degrees C which would cook your hands if you tried handwashing with that heat.
  3. I have more time and energy for joy and whatever I please. 
  4. I'm actually saving more water than before! 


Bosch FAQ: Common Questions about a Dishwasher

Photo courtesy of Bosch website

When Bosch gave me a dishwasher to review they also shared an FAQ with me that I thought was pretty useful.


Amazon Prime Now in Singapore with Two-Hour or Faster Delivery!

Amazon is finally here in Singapore! No, still not books or Kindle ebooks but there are over 20,000 products including groceries, chilled beer, ice-cream, household and home essentials, baby, beauty, electronics, toys and more.

The kicker is the two-hour free delivery for min S$40 spend (for PRIME members; currently it's free to try). You can even get your items in an hour with a S$9.99 fee. That's going to blow the competition out of the water. Folks like RedMart, Lazada, honestbee and even Qoo10 are going to find it hard to compete with that.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore: Staycation Review

We recently stayed one night at the Pan Pacific Singapore, right in the heart of the Marina Square and Suntec City enclave. My kids loved the spacious City Suite, the food and the hotel facilities! Here's a short video tour of our experience.


Monday, July 24, 2017

The Surprising Maths Behind Your Dream Holiday

The Surprising Maths Behind Your Dream Holiday

Almost everyone has a dream in terms of travel, whether it's relaxing on a beach in the Maldives, partying in Ibiza, or experiencing the cool technology of Tokyo. Of course, many of us write these things off as 'once in a lifetime' experiences we will only get to do for our honeymoon or if we have a financial windfall. However, if you do the maths and aim for it, your dream trip may not be as inconceivable as you think.
Maldives, Tropics, Tropical, Drone, Aerial, View, Sky
    1. The Main Costs of Travel

The costs we always think of first are air fare and accommodation, however thanks to budget airlines, internet booking, and things like Airbnb, it can be a lot cheaper than you think to go to your dream destination. What usually affects people more financially than the cost of actually getting to a destination is what they spend when they are there. Usually, when you are enjoying being in a location, you don't want to do the mundane stuff you do at home like buying and preparing food, and you also want to experience local cuisine, so restaurants can become a big factor in what you spend. There is nothing wrong with this, it is just something that needs to be factored in. You could consider all-inclusive holidays or going self-catering as options, or just account for eating out in your budget. What you should not do is forget that eating can be a major money drain when you travel.
    1. What Do You Want Most?

When budgeting, it is also important to think about what it is you really want to get from the holiday of your dreams. Is it the place that is important, or how long you are there, or whether you get to see a specific thing? If what you want is just the luxury and relaxation of being at a beautiful place then probably how long you can go for is important. But, if you just want to see or experience something, you may be able to plan for a shorter trip like a city break and fit in what you want in a cheaper timeframe. Deciding what you really want and expect from your dream destination and how long you need to be there to get it is an important part of doing the maths you need to do to work out how to afford it.
Money, Banknotes, Currency, Forex, Us Dollars, Euro
    1. Saving for Trips?

Travel can be well worth saving up for, but isn't something the normal monthly budget really allows for a lot of people. Considering a secondary revenue stream outside of your job may allow you to have more freedom when it comes to things like holidays. You could consider doing freelance work on the side, making and selling products online, doing work on the gig economy, or if you're financially savvy, getting into something like CFD trading or forex to add to your income and fund the holidays you want to take. Many people find that adding an extra source of money into their lifestyle really allows them to do the things that they wanted to – especially travelling more.
    1. Always Do the Maths

Working out the cost of your dream holiday may not be the most glamorous part of fantasising about it, but is the only way you can actually start towards making it a reality. Consider what you want from your holiday, think about what hidden costs your trip may incur, and look for extra ways to make money, and you will be able to plan for and enjoy a wonderful trip – not just this year, but every year.

This post is brought to you by IG.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My List of Dream Krabi Luxury Hotels

It's been a rough period lately, and my thoughts have been drifting to a holiday where I can seriously pamper myself. No roughing it, no compromising, just all-out relaxation and over-the-top indulgence! Well, I can dream, can't I?

I am thinking of a beach destination nearby that I haven't been to. So I looked up some luxury hotels in Krabi. All the photos here are from Traveloka, and used with permission. Here are a few dream destinations I wouldn't mind being whisked away to.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ToTT Bistro Is Now Five Senses Bistro with New Dishes

At a time when some other "cafeteria" types of eateries are declining (IKEA, I'm looking at you), ToTT Store has significantly improved its offering. Its revamped bistro at Dunearn Road is now Five Senses Bistro, in collaboration with new F&B Director and Chef Andrea Lim.

Andrea blends Asian and European flavours based on Nordic cuisine principles of simplicity and freshness. He honed his French cooking techniques at Institute Paul Bocuse and cut his teeth at establishments like Raffles Grill and Les Amis. One thing you definitely notice is his passion for food, but what's great is he believes in making fine dining more affordable.

The Pan-Seared Pink Norwegian Salmon above (S$15.90) comes with a generous helping of vegetables and mash.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Best Place to Watch National Day Fireworks: Fullerton Rooms and Buffets

What an interesting year Singapore has had. National Day is coming up soon, and some of you will be looking up best places to see the annual firework extravaganza.

You'll want to be close to the Marina Bay Floating Platform where the National Day celebrations are held. In this respect, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore offer vantage views of the parade and fireworks displays throughout the historic waterfront precinct.

The stunning nightscape and fireworks are already unfolding progressively from 2 July to 9 August 2017.

If you're lucky to get a reservation, you'll be able to hear the roar of celebrations from the comfort of the luxurious guest rooms at The Fullerton Hotel – Singapore’s 71st National Monument (see National Day Package) – or from the private guest balcony in the rooms at the Fullerton Bay Hotel (see National Day Package). Or you could celebrate at the One Fullerton Rooftop, the Lantern rooftop bar and The Clifford Pier al fresco deck with family and friends over free-flowing drinks with the fireworks overhead.

But let's talk another way to see the fireworks...with food!

The Fullerton Hotels’ restaurants and bars offer vantage views and menus priced from S$52*. There are selections crafted in tribute to our heritage, such as a Deconstructed Chicken Satay, or a more classic Sambal Sea Bass with Cincalok and Calamansi Baked in Banana Leaf at the newly revamped La Brasserie; or petite bites of Chilli Crab Bun in our three-tier Afternoon Tea Sets at The Courtyard and The Landing Point.

The Clifford Pier, The Fullerton Bay Hotel

S$198* per table, maximum four persons
2, 8, 15, 22, 29 July and 5 August, from 6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Head down to The Clifford Pier where dine-in guests are granted free access to the al fresco area of the pier. It is a fantastic vantage point for viewing of the fireworks. The table package (inclusive of one glass of housepour wine, spirits, beer, soft drink or juice per person) gets you a National Day Platter, consisting of Kampung-style Charcoal Grilled Chicken & Beef Satay, Singapore-style Chilli Crab Gravy in Mini Bun, and Pork and Crabmeat Ngoh Hiang.

A cover charge of S$52 nett per person applies for regular walk-ins, inclusive of two complimentary glasses of champagne, wine, beer, housepour spirits, soft drinks or juices.

S$52 nett per adult and S$34 nett per child^
9 August, from 11.00 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. (first seating), 1.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. (second seating) and 7.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m.
The distinctive setting of Clifford Pier is the backdrop for diners to experience a relaxing National Day Dim Sum High Tea which includes highlights such as Kampung-style Charcoal Grilled Chicken and Beef Satay, Singapore-style Chilli Crab Gravy with Crispy Mantou, and The Clifford Pier’s Signature Prawn Laksa alongside a wide assortment of classic Dim Sum like Steamed Siew Mai with Crab Roe and Steamed Char Siew Pau.

S$88* per adult and S$44* per child^
The Clifford Pier’s National Day Seafood Buffet is where you will indulge in premium ocean catch like Freshly Shucked Oysters, Poached Live Prawns, and Salmon Confit with Fish Roe. The seafood spread is accompanied with all-time favourites like Hainanese Poached Chicken and Aromatic Ginger Rice, Honey-glazed Pork Char Siew and Kampung-style Charcoal Grilled Chicken.

Free-flowing red or white wine and beer is available at S$49* per person.

Town Restaurant, The Fullerton Hotel

S$40* per adult and S$20* per child^
9 August, from 12.00 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
Bask in nostalgia as you join the nation in celebration along the scenic Singapore River at the al fresco terrace of the restaurant. Spend an idyllic afternoon indulging in a spread of gourmet delicacies at Town Restaurant’s National Day Singapore High Tea Buffet () with local favourites such as our Signature Laksa, Singapore Chilli Crab with Mantou, and Traditional Popiah and Kueh Pie Tee.

S$52* per adult and S$28* per child^
With Singapore’s reputation as a food paradise, feasting on traditional local hawker dishes is a fitting way to celebrate her 52nd birthday. Catch the live screening of the National Day Parade on large flat-screen TVs in the comfort of the plush interiors. Highlights of the buffet include Freshly Shucked Oysters, Herb-roasted US Prime Rib, and a selection of the Freshest Tuna, Yellow Tail, Salmon Sashimi.


S$41* per adult and S$21* per child^
9 August, from 11.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m. (first seating), 1.15 p.m. to 3.00 p.m. (second seating)

At Jade’s Dim Sum Buffet, the award-winning chefs bring you 55 varieties of exquisite dim sum, soups, main courses and desserts to delight the whole family. Unique creations include Golden Mantou stuffed with Spicy Crab Meat, Steamed Pork Siew Mai with Abalone, Braised Bird’s Nest with Truffle Egg White in Superior Broth, Boiled Congee with Lobster and Dried Scallops.

Set menus priced from S$52* to S$88* per adult
6.30 p.m. onwards
Share moments of joy with family and friends amidst the refined ambience of Jade. Savour roast delights in such as Peking Duck Roll and Sliced Roasted Suckling Pig, Stewed Pork Trotter with Sour Plum in Claypot and Cream of Almond with Pistachio Glutinous Rice Dumplings.

For reservations and enquiries, please call Dining Reservations at (65) 6877 8911 / 8912 or visit https://www.fullertonhotels.com/celebrate-national-day-at-the-fullerton-hotels.html

*All prices are subject to service charge and prevailing government taxes.
^Children aged 6 to 11 years old.

Photo courtesy of Fullerton Hotel.


honestbee 2nd Anniversary: 1-for-1 Food Promo and $18 Off, Plus Free Delivery!

Hey, did you know honestbee does food delivery (on their app) too? The company has just turned two and are celebrating with a promo that's possibly the best food deal in Singapore that I've seen from food delivery services.

This "Good Things Come In Twos" promo has three prongs:

1. All users can enjoy 1-for-1 Food deals from now until 30 July 2017. There's no minimum spend. You buy one item, they'll deliver!

2. New users of honestbee get an additional $18 off the 1-for-1 Food deals - use the code "CAMEMBERU". There's a minimum spend of $25 for this.

3. honestbee is still offering FREE DELIVERY!


DBS Innovates: How Do You Make Banking Joyful?

Of all institutions, banks are one of the most stodgy and resistant to change. I read with amusement this DBS Innovates article in which the writer said a taxi driver once called DBS "Damn Bloody Slow"! Hey, I remember that too!

DBS now aims to "Make Banking Joyful" which is interesting because how do you spark joy this way? Maybe they can take a leaf from Marie Kondo. Take everything out, and begin by discarding. Do all of it at once, not little by little. There are way too many bloated processes and procedures that make it frustrating for the customer. This is an industry that is screaming for new ways of doing things.

I like how a certain bank has completely rewritten the scene on customer service a few years back. It's definitely made other banks sit up and take notice. Banks are a lot friendlier now.

But I didn't know about DBS Bank's own efforts in innovating until I saw the site DBS Innovates. There's a lot of content where DBS openly shares about their innovation processes: making banking simpler, faster and smarter; innovating for good causes; and what goes on behind the scenes. Not all of these are written by DBS; there are external contributors too.

Here are some articles:

I have to say it's changed my impression of DBS Bank. But let's not stop there. While it may have helped, I am not sure Kaizen is the way. Initiate change bit by bit? Maybe, but I can't help but feel sometimes you need a massive one-time overhaul, like the KonMari method. If it's life-changing innovation you want, not incremental improvement.

Of course, for such a highly regulated industry, that's going to be easier said than done, but the question is not whether you can innovate, it's how much you should.

Meanwhile, I'll keep my eyes on the site to see the new things that are coming out of DBS in this region.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Machida Shouten at Japan Food Town: New Dishes

Machida Shouten at Japan Food Town, Wisma Atria introduced a new menu some time back. There are a couple of things I really like. This Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice (S$10) tastes just as amazing as it looks. I'm glad they made it reasonably spicy to suit the local palate.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Melvyn Oliveiro's YTF Lontong and Rare Peranakan Dishes

Some of you will have seen me lauding this dish on Facebook and Instagram. This is Melvyn Oliveiro's stunning fusion creation - YTF Lontong - which marries yong tau foo pieces and ketupat with a seriously savoury and super rich lontong gravy. He's made it deliberately thicker than the usual lontong gravy. And he doesn't stop there; there's sambal and serunding (toasted grated coconut) to add spicy heat and nutty sweetness to the ensemble.

Melvyn does home-cooked dishes for sale on various platforms like Dine Inn, Mom's Not Cooking (his Facebook group), and even Carousell.

I have to say, this is his best dish yet. When I saw him posting experimental photos of it on Facebook, I immediately knew this would be awesome (I told him he had to start selling this). But even I was blown away by when I took my first bite. It's so good, I slowed down my eating, so that I could make it last longer and not be sad when it's all gone...oh, so sedaaap it is.

What's unusual about his dishes is that he does some rarely seen or available Peranakan specialties.

KF Seetoh taking photos at Melvyn's
I had the chance to lunch with KF Seetoh and friends at Melvyn's place in Toa Payoh, where we got to see some of these dishes.

Peranakan Papaya Titek
Peranakan Papaya Titek (S$11)
This was my first ever encounter with papaya titek, a peppery seafood soup sweetened with semi-ripe papayas. It carries a smoky aftertaste derived from ikan kurau bones, dried prawns, and prawn stock. Daun kesom (Vietnamese coriander) adds a pleasant herbal note. It's actually quite light, and is not as spicy or tangy as it looks.

This dish needs two days advance order as the half-ripe papayas are sourced only upon confirmation of orders.

Rebong Masak Lemak
Rebong Masak Lemak (from S$8)
You'll rarely see this Peranakan dish of rebong (bamboo shoot) in restaurants. Melvyn's version features chicken thigh and bamboo shoots, slow stewed in a broth made with large onions, chillies, buah keras (candlenut), lemongrass, belachan, kunyit (turmeric)and coconut milk.

Tastewise, it's like a thick lodeh curry mildly flavoured with bamboo shoot.

Salted Fish
Have it with some salted fish and it takes on new dimensions.

Buah Keluak
Ayam Buah Keluak (from S$12)
Melvyn makes very good buah keluak. Only after tasting his version did I get to appreciate buah keluak more. I realise all this while maybe I didn't like buah keluak because it just wasn't cooked with the correct balance of spices and flavours.

Gado Gado Magetan
Gado-gado Magetan (from S$6)
This is the first dish I tried from Melvyn (it was a Dine Inn order - you can see my post on that here) and made me an absolute fan. I totally love the gado gado peanut sauce which he now sells separately.

Gado Gado Sauce Concentrate
The sauce comes in a dry-ish concentrate which means you can store it until you need it. You just have to add water to reconstitute it. I actually ate this like a spicy peanut cookie dough of sorts. YUMMY.

Gado Gado Sauce
It makes a great vegetable or crudite dip, as well as a satay sauce base.

Nasi Briyani
Chicken Dum Briyani w/Raita & Papad (from $8.00) 
The dum briyani looks really good, doesn't it? I would have liked it a bit stronger in terms of salt and spices but this version makes a good rice base for tasting other dishes, which we were doing that day.

Melvyn's got other dishes in his repertoire for sale too - Soto Ayam Surabaya, Roti Jala and Chicken Curry, Sambal Nanas, Afritado Manok, Peranakan Chap Chye, Lontong Lodeh Betawi and Ayam/Babi Pongteh. While his food is not halal-certified, there's no pork or lard used (except in the Babi Pongteh). The kitchen utensils are not halal also, for those who need to know.

Some of these used to be popular in the old days, and will invoke nostalgia in some folks. Even his drink (see the two bottles in first photo) of 1960s Citrus Jelly Water is his re-creation of a popular drink once sold by trishaw hawkers along the beaches of East Coast near the Red House.

So if you are hankering for a taste of food as it used to be cooked back in the old days, you can always check out Melvyn's home-cooked food (via delivery, one-way Grab or pick up from Toa Payoh). I hope recipes like his which he got from the previous generations can be passed down too.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

McDonald's Nasi Lemak Burger and Local Flavours for National Day

McDonald's is launching a whole parade of items with local flavours for National Day! Nasi Lemak! Bandung! Chendol! There's lots of good stuff!

The new limited-time menu is launched in conjunction with the Singapore Food Festival (SFF) 2017, the annual festival organised by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).


Monday, July 10, 2017

Kitchen Twins: Korean Fried Chicken and More at Tanjong Pagar

Tanjong Pagar is awash in Korean joints, and the competition certainly keeps the restaurants on their toes. But some of them come and go so quickly, I can't keep track. I recently found Kitchen Twins (or Twins for short) which is celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Generally I find that if an eatery has survived its first year, it's a good sign.

Kitchen Twins: Sungjae + Woojae
Twins is named for the pair of twins in the kitchen. Yes, this is really them - meet chef-owners Park Woojae (left) and Park Sungjae, both of whom are only in their late 20s. Don't they look like they belong in some Korean drama?


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Quick Travel Guide to Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

Expedia has put out a lovely travel guide to Sapporo. It features quite a few interesting spots that even I missed when I first visited a couple years back.

I am very happy to have contributed a quote to the guide too, where I spoke about Soup Curry, that smackalicious Sapporo invention. See if you can spot it!

Anyway, I only had two short days in Sapporo back then. We were en route to Otaru for the main trip. Here are a few highlights from Sapporo which I never got to post earlier.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Grand Park Orchard Hotel Singapore: Staycation and Mitzo Brunch

I really like the Grand Park Hotel's Ultimate Weekend Getaway. It guarantees you a full 24-hour stay with flexible check-in between 11am to 7pm. Most 2D1N vacations already feel too short, so it's really nice to be able to wake up anytime for a luscious buffet breakfast without worrying about having to check out rigidly at noon.

The location is smack dab in the middle of Orchard Road, so there's no shortage of shopping, food and entertainment. We had high tea first on Saturday and checked in at 5pm here; it's just awesome knowing you can stay til 5pm the next day.

The rooms are simple but sport contemporary chic and flair. I love the big dramatic photo wallpaper behind the bed. But what's even nicer is that you can also enjoy the photo in the bathroom which has that big see-through window.


The bathroom has everything you need, of course.

There are a couple of places to chill at. The pool area has a bar and lots of seating amidst green foliage. That touch of greenery and nature just makes the whole place seem like an oasis in the midst of the city. The bar area seems open to the public, so you could have friends drop by for a drink and chat.

The pool is where we spent most of the time. It's nicest early in the morning when there's nobody! Come on in; the water's warm! The 24-hour gym is on the same floor here, and overlooks the pool.

At night, the place takes on a different vibe with the soft lights.

If you get a Club Room, you'll also have access to the spacious Crystal Club and these services:
  • Private check-in and check-out
  • Complimentary high speed Internet access
  • Personalised butler services
  • Business support services
  • Complimentary breakfast (6.30am to 10.30am)
  • Complimentary afternoon tea (3pm to 5pm)
  • Complimentary evening cocktails (5.30pm to 7.30pm)
  • All-day light refreshments at the Crystal Club Lounge
  • Two pieces of laundry per stay
  • One hour usage of Crystal Club meeting room per day (subject to availability)



Yes, there's plenty of food, but the evening cocktails are probably the highlight for those who drink.

For us, we preferred to take the amazing weekend brunch at Mitzo, the modern Cantonese restaurant at the hotel. We had been here before, so we knew the food would be stunning.

Somehow I never tire of the psychedelic colours here! Mitzo is so unlike other Chinese restaurants in terms of decor - the glass, mirrored surfaces and interplay of colours all seem to stimulate the senses in a wondrous way.



The weekend brunch features over 40 selections of dim sum, wok dishes and supreme seafood delicacies comprising of Bamboo Clam, Live Lobster and Abalone dish. There is also a playroom to keep the kids entertained. I have a more detailed post here from an earlier visit.

Mitzo itself also has private niche area that serves as a bar. You can enjoy cocktails and champagne with your brunch too.

Weekend Brunch price: S$68++ per adult (food only)
Kids under 6 dine free. 6 to 12 year-olds enjoy 50% off.
Top up S$60++ per person for free flow of cocktails, champagne, wines and beer.

Even with the full 24-hour stay, I felt like I could stay longer at Grand Park Orchard because there's just so much to explore around the area. If Orchard Road isn't enough for you, fret not. The hotel provides a complimentary daily loop shuttle service that connects to major MRT stations, Orchard Road and Marina Bay shopping belts and sister hotels.

Speaking of which, take a peek at their sister hotels too. They even have one in Otaru, Hokkaido!

Grand Park Otaru
Grand Park City Hall
Park Hotel Clarke Quay

270 Orchard Road
Singapore 238857
Tel: +65 6603-8888
Email: info.gpor@parkhotelgroup.com  

Many thanks to the Grand Park Orchard for the staycation invitation.

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