Saturday, December 26, 2009

2nd Kitchen at Balestier

Giant garoupa - the restaurant does 12 parts of hte fish in different ways!
Southernoise shared with us a gem of a little eatery called "2nd Kitchen" on the ground floor of Value Hotel at Balestier. It's cosy, tiny (seats less than 20 inside) and spartan, but serves pretty good food to a steady stream of customers. Reservations are advised if you prefer to sit inside the air-conditioned section (lots of al fresco seating too, for smokers, presumably).

I was intrigued by their menu and how they specialize in the giant garoupa - 12 different parts of the fish, each done differently. Would you try the esophagus, caudal fin, fish rib, gullet or head?

Giant Garoupa "Photophores" soup - a rich, milky broth that's made from boiled bones and scales
We decided to be brave. We picked the garoupa's "Photophores". To me, that sounded like the bioluminescent bits of fish. The waiter had a different explanation. This is a soup made of fish bones and scales, boiled to the point of disintegration. Might sound disgusting but it's kind of like shark cartilage soup.

Well, the rich, milky broth turned out to be delicious! It came in a claypot with some Chinese herbs and ginseng. The red dates seem to have been thrown in at the last minute though. There were large slices of fish as well, so it was quite hearty.

Signature Winged Bean with Cuttlefish and Chili
This was superb. Signature Winged Bean with Cuttlefish and Chili. I love winged beans or four-angled beans, and the spicy chili was incredibly umami with the cured cuttlefish. The vegetables here are organic, by the way, and come from the restaurant's own farm in Singapore.

Mystery Meat Dry Curry
When we asked for this dish (not on the menu), the waiter turned secretive. He said it's only for regulars or people in the know, due to limited supply. So we're not going to divulge what this meat is (don't worry, it's not some endangered animal). It was more tender and less gamey than similar dishes I've tried in the past. The "dry curry" is not exactly dry but I enjoyed how the spices packed a punch. I reckon it'd go just as well with regular beef or pork.

Fried Bee Hoon in Lala Soup
Fried Bee Hoon in Lala Soup - another one of their most popular dishes. The piping hot seafood stock is gingery, and laced with a bit of wine. Look at how it's chockful of la la clams too.

Sliced Giant Garoupa Hor Fun
I knew the la la beehoon was good from a previous visit, but the Sliced Giant Garoupa Hor Fun turned out to be even better! This is the most flavourful hor fun I've had. Oh yes, it's very savoury (perhaps a tad too salty for some) but I just love the strong flavours! Perhaps there's quite a bit of MSG but I didn't suffer much effects.

Well, I enjoyed the dinner and the marvellous company. The six of us paid about S$14 each for this meal. Portions are quite small (or perhaps our gluttony is boundless), so we adjourned for bak kut teh as well as traditional Chinese desserts and cooling tea further down the road.

Check out Keropokman's review of this meal.

592 Balestier Rd #01-03,
Singapore 718813
Tel: 6254-3676

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas! And the winners are...

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!

And I'm sure some of you want to know if you've won David Rocco's Dolce Vita cookbook. Well, it was not easy choosing but here are the winners!
  • Ju (The Little Teochew)
  • Cumi & Ciki
  • eutenesia
  • theCamist
  • Eileen
Congratulations! Please email me (camemberu at gmail dotcom) your Singapore mailing address, so we can arrange for Discovery Travel & Living (DTL) to send you the book. Thank you all for participating, and thanks to DTL for making this contest possible.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

David Rocco Dolce Vita Cookbook Giveaway

David Rocco's Dolce Vita Cookbook
After three successful seasons of "Dolce Vita", David Rocco now has a cookbook out. Cooking and eating is such a big part of the Italian lifestyle, and the book captures that with lots of photos of food and family. David often says, "I'm not a chef, I'm Italian!" and believes cooking should be simple and fun. The book aims for easy-to-learn but authentic and tasty recipes. I've always liked his infectious charm and easy-going manner. I hear the book continues in that vein too.

Thanks to the generous folks at Discovery Travel & Living (DTL) Asia, I have five of his cookbooks to give away to readers! Contest is open to residents of Singapore.

All you have to do is answer two simple questions (in the comments).
Q.1 What cuisine is featured in Dolce Vita?
Q.2 What would you tell David Rocco if you got the chance to meet him?

This time it's not "first come, first win" so don't worry if you're reading this a day late. I'll be choosing the five most interesting answers to Question 2 but answers to Question 1 must be correct, of course. Deadline, however, is midnight of 24 Dec 2009. Winners will be announced on the blog on Christmas morning, so come back here to see if you've got an extra present!

The book is also available at Kinokuniya bookstores (members get 20% off storewide til 27 Dec 2009). I'm definitely going to check it out.

DTL also has a few programs lined up for Christmas. Program descriptions from the channel itself:

Nigella's Christmas Kitchen 2

Nigella's Christmas Kitchen 2 - every Monday at 7pm; beginning 14 Dec 
Domestic goddess Nigella Lawson believes that Christmas is both a season to be treasured and a state of mind that has to be achieved by relishing long established routines and welcoming new ones too. In the new "Nigella's Christmas Kitchen 2", Nigella will be preparing her Christmas larder in advance, prepping party food for the freezer and revealing some of her sanity preserving short-cuts that make even the most routine recipes redolent with Christmas sparkle! Learn the joys of an unhurried Christmas this year in "Nigella's Christmas Kitchen 2!

Willie's Perfect Chocolate Christmas

Willie's Perfect Chocolate Christmas - premieres Wed 23 Dec at 9pm
The eccentric chocolatier Willie Harcourt-Cooze returns for a holiday special in "Willie's Perfect Chocolate Christmas". Having successfully set up their 'wonky' chocolate factory in Devon, Willie, Tania and their three children return for a festive foodie extravaganza. Willie will be taking care of the menu for the holiday season, preparing a series of mouth watering chocolate themed recipes, boozy chocolate mince pies, a classic chocolate tart and the perfect party treats for entertaining friends including a quince chocolate cheese and a chocolate and clementine cheesecake. It’s going to be oh-so-chocolate-y Christmas on Discovery Travel & Living!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jolie is two years old today!

Here's Jolie proudly coming to the camera and displaying her tummy (which she definitely inherited from me). She is finally two years old today, and has come a long way from the baby everyone kept thinking was a boy.

Daddy's trying to take this from me!! HELP!
What hasn't changed is her voracious appetite. She is my carbo dumpling - loves rice, noodles, breads and sweet stuff, but disdains meat. She does like vegetables and fruits, thankfully! I'm just glad she's easy to feed!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pu Tien at Parkway Parade

Wonton Soup (S$10)
I was very happy to see Pu Tien setting up at Parkway Parade. Finally, another Chinese restaurant option besides Crystal Jade! Pu Tien is famously Hing Hwa (one of the less common Chinese dialects), so its offerings are slightly different from the ubiquitous Cantonese/Teochew variants.

There's a twist to its wonton soup - it's tangy! The vinegary broth surprised us at first. Hubby didn't like it, but I warmed up to it eventually. The wontons are like little dancers in "yan pi" tutus. The wonton skin has more texture than normal wontons.

Homemade Beancurd (S$8)
Pu Tien still carries familiar favourites, like Homemade Beancurd. Got this for the kids, but we ended up liking it more than they did. The beancurd is very smooth and eggy. I particularly enjoyed the gravy.

Deep-fried Pork Trotters with Pepper (S$3.80 per piece)
Deep-fried pig trotters with pepper - lots of gelatinous tendon and crispy skin. Who needs collagen pills when you have these?

Fried "Hing Hwa" Beehoon (S$6)
Their signature Hing Hwa fried beehoon is delicate in taste and texture, but pleasing nonetheless. Made with extra-fine beehoon and ten ingredients, like peanuts, seaweed, mushrooms, vegetables and clams.

Deep-fried Chicken with Garlic (S$12 for half-chicken)
The deep-fried chicken with garlic is loaded with fried minced garlic and curry leaves. Yummy! Eat it while it's hot.

Stir-fried Yam (S$10)
The stir-fried yam is interesting. Mashed yam fingers with a sticky, savoury-sweet coating. The densely compacted carbohydrates can get a little satiating after a few pieces though.

Opening Special - 100% Rebate of your meal
I like this place very much. Prices are reasonable, for decent food in casually elegant surroundings. Service is all right, but the food does take a while to come. Update (19 Dec 2009): Their opening special - the full rebate on your meal in terms of vouchers - is over, but they now give $10 for every $50 spent.

PU TIEN (check website for other outlet locations)

80 Marine Parade Road
#02-13/13A Parkway Parade
Singapore 449269
Tel: 6345-6358

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Roxy Bar - Poolside Dining at Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore

Marquees have been set up for an upcoming poolside wedding
During our two-day stay at the Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore, we discovered a new place to chill out. The hotel had kindly arranged for a poolside dinner at the Roxy Bar on Level 4. It's largely al fresco but there's also some indoor seating. They had marquees for an upcoming wedding (quite popular here, it seems). Looks so pretty at night.

They are even wheelchair-friendly - there's a ramp at the side for access. Too bad my mom-in-law was not even up to being wheeled about, and preferred to stay in the room. Well, can't blame her. The rooms are really comfy!

The "A Club Cocktail" available only at this Accor F&B outlet
The Roxy Bar has a wide selection of drinks. At the waiter's recommendation, we took their signature A-Club cocktail, which is not available in other Accor chain hotels. It's orange, pineapple and cranberry juices spiked with Bacardi, apricot brandy and peppermint brandy. Tastes like a happy orange juice, and seems quite driver-friendly (I didn't get that nasty red flush that always happens when I take alcohol). We also took a Gunner, which was also quite mild.

Half Dozen Chicken and Mutton Satay with condiments
The dining menu has Asian and Western selections, and even a kids' menu. We started with some snacks - Half Dozen Chicken and/or Mutton Satay with condiments. Rather elegantly presented. The peanut dipping sauce is a bit thick, almost like a paste.

Deep-fried Breaded Mushrooms
Deep-fried Mushrooms - ten button mushrooms breaded and fried. They come piping hot, so bite carefully! Served with salsa.

The Roxy Burger
The Roxy Burger is one of the top-selling items here. It's a huge, thick patty dressed with gherkins, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, plus two toppings of your choice (cheddar cheese, bacon, mushroom, egg). Served with French fries and coleslaw. The fries are the bomb!

Fish & Chips
More fries, happily so, with the huge platter of Fish & Chips. See how crispy they are on the outside? Soft and fluffy on the inside. I would come back just for the fries. Salivating now at the very thought. The fish is not bad either.

Beef Tenderloin
The Grilled Beef Tenderloin (we requested medium) was just a bit too overdone. But the decadently creamy mash more than made up for it. I absolutely loved the grilled vegetables too. Beautifully done.

Portions here are generally huge. We were so full, we had no room for dessert!

Service at the Roxy Bar is fantastic. The staff are friendly, unpretentious and very helpful. We're glad we found this place. Decent casual dining in the neighbourhood. Warm thanks to Keane and the hotel for introducing this place to us!

Level 4, Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel
50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square
(Opposite Parkway Parade Shopping Centre)
Singapore 428769
Tel: 6340-5860
Operating Hours:
11.00am to 12.00am (Sunday to Thursday/Public Holidays)
11.00am to 1.00am (Friday/Saturday/Eve of Public Holidays)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bombing My Kitchen and Staying at the Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore

My home kitchen looks like warzone now!
Sorry I haven't been posting much of late. We're finally renovating the kitchen among other things, so things are in a bit of a mess at home, as you can see.

To escape the dust and noise of hacking day, the whole family escaped to nearby Grand Mercure Roxy Singapore - one of the better hotels in our neighbourhood. Might as well make it a little staycation!

They upgraded us to the very swell Business Suite! We really loved the spaciousness of it all and felt at home immediately. It's very well laid out, and manages to be warm and inviting. Hubby commented that this suite rivals many he's seen in 5-star hotels around the world.

Deluxe King Room is more than comfy too
We also got an adjoining Deluxe King room for mom-in-law and helper. It's more than comfy, with nice floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the pool.

The two monkeys instantly made themselves comfortable
The two monkeys instantly made themselves comfortable!

The adjoining rooms were fantastic for the family
Having the adjoining rooms was a big plus for the family. The kids could go into either room easily. They were instantly hooked on some NHK children's program too.

Simple yet elegant furnishings in the Business Suite
The Business Suite means business. You have lots of workspace with neatly hidden power outlets and Internet connection jacks. You can work without disturbing whoever is sleeping, as the headboard makes a nice divider.

View from the desk. I love the living area
I like the little touches of contemporary Asian they have in the furnishings. This is the view from the work desk. You can also conveniently keep an eye on the news as you work.

The bathtub is to die for!
The best part of the suite is the bathroom! The standalone bathtub is such a treat! They give you some Epsom salts that colour the water a beautiful blue. Oh yes, the LCD TV means you can have a soak and enjoy your favourite program at the same time!

Bathroom is gorgeous, with separate shower stall too
The bathroom is beautifully roomy and comes with a separate shower stall.

The kids had a blast at the swimming pool
We knew the children would definitely love the pool - there's a small kiddy pool too (see bottom right). The water was very cold but that didn't stop them from having a blast!

Plotting worldwide domination...
Plotting world domination, with milk bottle close at hand!

Live orchids a nice touch
Service at the hotel was impressive. All of our requests were attended to promptly, and nothing was too minor for them to handle. We enjoyed the hotel so much we extended our stay another day!

I'll be blogging the food we had here too - the Roxy Bar which is their poolside cafe (a nice find!) and the hotel breakfast at Feast@East.

Thanks, Keane, for helping us to make the arrangements!

50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square
(Opposite Parkway Parade Shopping Centre)
Singapore 428769
Tel: 6344-8000
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