Sunday, November 28, 2010

Etna - A Taste of Sicily?

Pizza Lava - tomato, mozzarella, Italian salami and olives
It's taken me a long time to check out Etna even though it's right in my neighbourhood.

We finally came here and were pleasantly surprised. The food is decent for a surburban Italian restaurant. Etna, named after the active volcano on the East Coast of Sicily, prides itself on providing authentic Sicilian cuisine with ingredients imported from Italy.

This is the Pizza Lava (S$20) tomato, mozzarella, Italian salami and olives. All their pizzas are 12-inch and enough to feed two easily.

Linguini al Granchio e Crema di Aragosta - flat pasta with crab meat in pink lobster sauce
Linguini al Granchio e Crema di Aragosta (S$22) - flat pasta with crab meat in pink lobster sauce. I'd read so much about this pasta, I just had to try it. And it's pretty good indeed. Rich, creamy and savoury with plenty of crab meat. Good to the last slurp. The kids liked this too. However, it may not be for everyone. Hubby thought the seafood taste was too strong, but that's never a problem for me.

Welcome basket of bread includes olives, sundried tomatoes and cheese!
The complimentary basket of bread comes with olives, sundried tomatoes and cubes of cheese! I do feel very welcome indeed!

Etna is a simple Sicilian eatery along Upper East Coast Road
Etna's decor is a bright contrast of sunshine yellow and dark brown amidst earth tones. While it is cosy, it also tries to inject some formal elegance with its smart table setting.

Parking's always a nightmare along Katong and Siglap areas, but it looks like Etna has valet parking services now.

They also have a branch at Lau Pa Sat, and do delivery via HungryGoWhere. Check out their website for menu, pricing and more details. Set lunches are available at S$22 (salad/soup, main course and dessert).

110 Upper East Coast Road
Singapore 455298
Tel: +65-6444-9530
Open daily
Mon–Sat: 12pm–2.30pm, 6.30pm–11pm
Sun: 11am–11pm

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Royal Caribbean's "Legend of the Seas"

I love travelling as much as I do food, but for some reason, I have never been on a cruise before. Fears of being trapped on a vessel and being horribly bored perhaps? But then again, I have never explored what a cruise ship is like. Until the day brought 40 bloggers on board Royal Caribbean's "Legend of the Seas" for a ship tour. I must say it's got my curiosity piqued.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Meepoks: 132 and Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim

You've heard of the East Coast meepok wars for sure. There's an old thread in Makansutra forum discussing who's who and what happened. But to cut a long confusing story short, 132 Meepok is the original family whose patriarch took a break and passed on the skills and recipes to a protege/godson who ran Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim. Then the 132 folks started business again. And there's been a rivalry since, much complicated by others who cashed in on the name. I hope I got it right.

This kind of thin, translucent, less-starchy meepok is what I prefer! From 132 Meepok
But ultimately what matters most is whose meepok tastes better, regardless of how long they've been around.

Here is 132 Meepok's fishball noodles. This is the kind of meepok I have been looking for - thin, almost translucent, and definitely less starchy than say, Hill Street Tai Hwa's bak chor mee's meepok. A S$3 portion comes with calculated toppings - a deveined prawn, one fish dumpling, two fishballs, a few slices of fish cake, some minced pork and a small handful of crunchy bean-sprouts. And oh yes, pieces of crispy pork lard!

However, the sambal chili from 132 Meepok is pretty one-dimensional - just chili-hot spicy. It could do with more ikan bilis or dried shrimp, something umami...
However, the sambal chili is a bit one-dimensional - it's mainly just spicy chili-heat. It could do so much better with more ikan bilis or dried shrimp, something umami. Apparently they use shallots, buah keluak and whatnot, but it still seems to be missing something.

The 132 stall when it was at East Coast Road
This is the 132 stall when it was still at 53 Upper East Coast Road - it infamously drew BMWs that would be parked illegally around the narrow road.

132 Meepok is now in my neighbourhood!
They have since moved to .... my neighbourhood! They are now nestled within a coffeeshop at Block 59 Marine Terrace. Look out for them at MP 59 Food House (near the wet market). You'll only catch them for breakfast and lunch (they operate from 7am to 4pm). And make sure you have flexible lunch hours, as you may need to wait more than hour after taking a queue number. Well, we tried waiting once, and it was less than an hour, despite the stallowner's estimate.

The art of mee pok
Now for the offshoot that's Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim, the self-dubbed "Art of Mee Pok"...they look like a big, busy franchise with lots of uniformed staff bustling around.

Jalan Tua Kong's noodles came with too much oil
Well, the noodles were almost similar, maybe just a bit starchier and slightly more soggy here. And the toppings seem to be exactly the same (the chili padi I added for some colour). However, the fishballs don't seem as fresh, the soup not as tasty, and the whole bowl was pretty oily. It coats your mouth with oil from the very first bite. Even a big, gruff guy who had finished his meal commented to himself as he passed our table, "Too oily!"

I don't know if we were just unlucky that day, or if this is the usual fare.

So ultimately, for me, 132 Meepok still gets my vote. Even though the chili is more balanced at Jalan Tua Kong's, the oiliness of the whole thing is a deal-breaker.

Cendol from a supporting stall within Jalan Tua Kong's two shophouse unit
After tasting two meepoks in one sitting on a very hot day, we needed to calm our tummies down with an ice-cold dessert! The cendol from a sub-unit at the Jalan Tua Kong mee pok shophouse was not too bad. Well, it had a whole lot more ingredients than the cheng tng! There's a yong tau foo sub-unit that's quite popular too.

Block 59 Marine Terrace
#01-105 MP 59 Food House
Open 7am - 4pm
Closed Mondays and 3rd Sundays of the month

308 Bedok Road, Bedok Shopping Centre
Open 7.30am – 5pm
Closed Alt Mondays

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sage The Restaurant: Chef Jusman So's Recipes Using Australian Beef and Lamb

Roast Beef Carpaccio - carpaccio of roasted beef rump with whole grain mustard mayo, celery root remoulade and Parmigiano Reggiano
I love red meat.

So I was very happy to hear that Chef Jusman So of Sage The Restaurant has teamed up with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to create new recipes using more unusual cuts of beef and lamb. They showcased these dishes at a media tasting, and shared the recipes as well.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Up for A Deprived Childhood...A Kakigori Ice-Shaver!

Shirokuma Polar Bear Ice Shaver - Kakigori time!
The Hungry Cow and I happened to be browsing around TANGS at Vivocity today, and he spotted this. A polar bear shaped ice shaver! Well, actually "White Bear Ice Shaber"...but who cares when it's so cute, right?

He then proceeded to matter-of-factly describe how as kids, he and his sister used to have ice shavers (just not in this bear design) and how they ended up having even more fun making the iced treats than eating them!

I gawked and said, "You mean you had this kind of thing when you were young?" My gosh, I would have gone apeshit if in my childhood I could make my own ice kachang, sorbets and just generally shards of "snow" to throw about. Oh heck, never mind about my kids, I want this for myself!

Comes with a cute container for ice-making. I am freezing mixed berry juice in it starts tomorrow!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Healthier Choices When Eating Out

More Singaporeans are classified as obese now (10.8% in 2010)
It's official. More Singaporeans are getting fatter. Obesity has surged from 6.9% in 2004 to 10.8% this year. One in ten of us is OBESE. Not just overweight, but more seriously, obese (BMI exceeding 30).

The other thing is - we're also eating out more these days. Oh, we do love our hawker food, restaurant food, buffets...

While the obesity statistics aren't as alarming as those in some developed countries, it is an upward trend, and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) is not taking any chances. It's actively incorporating health programmes into workplaces, schools and even malls. Part of the National Healthy Lifestyle Campaign 2010 is HPB's effort to get the F&B industry to commit to offering healthier food choices (e.g. more whole-grain and/or lower calorie options).

More than 200 food outlets are participating in the Healthier Restaurant Programme (see full list in pdf form). And here is the list of food court stalls offering lower calorie set meals. They prepare the healthier dishes with less oil, sugar and salt. Some are enhanced with more fruit and vegetables, or use herbs and spices to improve flavour. The dishes are identified by this logo, which most people know fairly well by now.

The folks at HPB took media and bloggers recently on a tour of some outlets to showcase such meals.

My main curiosity about the healthy dishes was obviously taste. Healthy food notoriously tends to be less tasty. We wouldn't have this obesity epidemic globally if healthier food was easier to love than their sinful counterparts. But we can condition our tastebuds to adapt to and enjoy healthier options if we eat them more regularly.

Our first stop was Earle Swensens at Vivocity. Yes, there are quite a few chain restaurants and family restaurants in the programme.

Grilled Cod with Vegetables and Mixed Rice (White and Wild Rice)
Grilled Cod with Wild Rice (S$25.90) - this set meal (including coffee or tea) comes up to about 600 calories. The wild rice is really pulut hitam (black glutinous rice). Overall very clean-tasting, with a lightly seasoned clear broth. The cod is nice, but it is even better when eaten with the rice somehow. This specially created dish is only available until 31 Dec 2010 though.

Lower fat ice cream, but still 200 calories a scoop!
Swensen's has also come up with lower fat ice cream, made with milk instead of cream. Only three flavours - chocolate, strawberry and old-fashioned vanilla are available. But we learnt that each scoop is still 200 calories! So what's the usual full fat scoop like? Closer to 300 calories! Well, there's no escaping the sugar even in low-fat versions. I have to qualify that this ice cream is a lot more dense than your commercial type that can contain a lot of air whipped into it.

Swensen's Chendol Jubilee Log Cake (clearly NOT part of the Healthier Choice program!)
And clearly NOT on the HPB's Healthier Choice program is the Chendol Jubilee (S$49 before GST, total calorie count unknown!), which the folks at Swensens just very kindly wanted us to try. It's a log cake with rich chendol ice cream inside (complete with red bean and chendol bits), coated with a thin layer of sponge and cream, then dusted with crunchy candied crushed peanuts and cocoa powder. Yummy. I'd gladly take 2 years off my life for this.

Moving along, we went to the Kopitiam food court at the basement of Vivocity.

Laksania is at Kopitiam Vivocity - the lady helps employ people with special needs
Fancy some healthier version of laksa? Laksania Express offers six regional types of laksa (Singapore, Myanmar, Johor, Penang, Kelantan, Sarawak, all S$4.20), and a lower calorie version of the Singapore laksa. We met Josephine Tan, the very cheerful business development manager. I also found out that this place has a good heart - they employ people with special needs. These folks may take just slightly longer, but are perfectly capable of executing instructions and routines learned.

Singapore laksa - they use UHT milk instead of coconut cream, the whole bowl is only 600 calories!
And the lower-calorie laksa is good! Laksania tried experimenting with various coconut cream substitutes, including soybean milk and evaporated milk, but the taste remained most faithful with UHT milk. What they have done is go full on with the dried shrimp and umami ingredients. We really enjoyed our tasting portions, and even slurped up the full size one meant for photography (above).

Can you believe this entire bowl is only 600 calories (the regular one with coconut cream is closer to 900 calories). I think the bloggers all voted this as the one with highest taste ROI. I mean, it really doesn't feel like you're compromising (much) on taste at all. And you don't feel like you're eating something heavy.

Josephine also let us try the coconut cream version for comparison, and it was very rich and flavourful indeed. However, you can feel the satiation coming with just one mouthful. I tried combining both broths (half-and-half?) and felt that was the best combination, flavourwise.

My tasting portion - you can see the noodles which contain 10% brown rice
And they use beehoon which contains 10% brown rice - it's slightly off-white in colour, and has a gently nuttier taste and chewier texture. But very mildly so. I much prefer this to regular white-rice beehoon.

Josephine also offered to let us sample the other laksas, but we had to pace ourselves. Still, we could not resist trying the Kelantan laksa broth - it's got lots of minced fish and some cucumber juliennes. Gently tangy and spicy, with a hint of lemongrass cutting through the creaminess. All her laksas taste different, and are prepared separately.

I'm really glad I discovered Laksania, because I never know what to eat in these food courts. I'm definitely coming back to try all the other laksa varieties!

With happy tastebuds, we headed to Caffe Pralet next.

Caffe Pralet is a pastel haven of light bites
Caffe Pralet (17 Eng Hoon Street #01-03/04 Eng Hoon Mansions - near Tiong Bahru/Outram Park) is a simple, cosy cafe in sweet pastels. Owner-baker Judy Koh runs baking classes next door, and sells many of the items she teaches at the cafe (to show students that the recipes yield saleable products). She also decorates the cafe with her own food-related poetry.

Crisp wholemeal panini with vegetables and sauteed mushrooms. Top left: wholewheat olive oil orange cake
Crisp wholemeal panini with vegetables and sauteed mushrooms (S$12.80). Judy had to use atta flour to get the panini to be this light and crispy. This vegetarian sandwich tasted very homely, and I liked the taste of the mushrooms. The bread was thinner and and more crunchy than usual panini. Maybe this should be called the Skinny Panini!

On the top left: a 100% wholewheat and 100% olive oil orange cake. We all agreed the cake was incredibly soft and fluffy, and it wasn't too sweet either.

Would Winnie the Pooh abandon his honey pot for these?
This is not part of the HPB food trail, but I noticed their kaya is also made with less sugar. It still looks no less tempting. Even Winnie the Pooh might be tempted!

O'Briens at SGH
Next stop - O'Briens at Singapore General Hospital. Once you get past the smell of Dettol, you can start admiring the array of sandwiches and juices they have.

The mayo-heavy options are tempting!
Just don't get distracted by the mayo-heavy options!

Turkey cranberry on wholemeal bread
Turkey cranberry on wholemeal bread (S$8.90 on its own, S$10.90 with box of fruit). Turkey isn't my favourite cured meat (obviously the unhealthy ones have my heart), so this was so-so for me. Portion is very hearty, and the greens were crisp.

Wholemeal pasta salad with olives, tomatoes and pine nuts
Wholemeal pasta salad (S$9.90 on its own, S$11.90 with fruit box) - this came in a huge bowl with sliced black olives, cherry tomatoes and fragrantly toasted pine nuts. Certainly a filling portion! I thought this quite palatable, and I even liked the olives. Some felt the dressing was a bit oily, but even so, it was still refreshing.

Pretty generous fruit box
That's the generous fruit box, which comes with an assortment of ready-to-eat cut fruit.

By this time, we also noticed a pattern in the eating habits of our group. The bloggers generally cleaned out the plates with wild abandon, whereas the dieticians and nutritionists practiced incredibly strict portion control (like one bite). We even wanted to help them finish their food! I guess we still have a long way to go, when it comes to dietary discipline!

We were also starting to be full, but had one more stop - Indian vegetarian restaurant Ananda Bhavan at 95 Syed Alwi Road (opposite the crazy mega-growth machine that is Mustafa). They have two low-calorie set meals from now til 31 Dec 2010.

Wholemeal chapati with vegetarian sides
Wholemeal chapati with vegetarian sides (dhal curry, daily stir-fried vegetable and salad) at S$6.45 inclusive of GST and service charge. Chapatis have always been wholemeal, but just aren't as popular as their greasy cousins prata. I think they make a great change from time to time. Just that I love to eat them with mutton keema!

Brown rice beehoon stirfried with vegetables
Brown rice beehoon (250g) with daily stirfried vegetables (S$5.90 including GST and service charge) - very peppery and savoury. But I could hardly believe that this not-too-large portion of beehoon was 600 calories too (most likely due to oil used for stir-frying). I normally polish off double the amount at home.

And we spoke of worse comparisons - the economy stall fried beehoon is usually a lot more greasy than this, in bigger portions, and complemented by an array of fried sides (ngoh hiang, luncheon meat, fried egg, sausages and whatnot). How many calories total would we be ingesting via that!?

Even more shocking the casual revelation that fried fish soup has almost the same calories (over 700kcal) as char kway teow!!!! My gosh, how often I've opted for that soupy dish thinking it was a healthier option. But no, the few pieces of fried fish and the splash of milk completely tip the scale over.

Counting calories can be a scary thing. But even if we don't keep count, it's good for us to be aware of the energy value of what we're eating. At the end of the day, I appreciate having healthier alternatives to choose from.

Many thanks to the HPB for their wonderful company and insights on this tour.

By the way, if you are keen to keep a food tracking diary, the HPB has an app for that. For both iOS and Android platforms. You can also follow the HPB on Twitter at @HPBsg.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thaksin Beef Noodles at Clementi

Thaksin Beef Noodle Soup
Thaksin Beef Noodles has quite a few fans. This hawker stall serves what looks to be Thai-style beef noodles, complete with lots of herbs on top.

I do have to qualify that this was from Sept 2009 (I did say I have a serious backlog!), so I'm not sure about any changes in recent months. This was from the day a group of us curiously gathered to try Nic's "mei cai" (preserved vegetables) mooncake!

It will satisfy folks who are looking for a lot of beef
The serving (Supreme at S$5.50 above) is hearty indeed, and will satisfy those looking for generous portions of beef. However, I felt that the soup stock was rather mild-tasting. They do claim that they don't use any MSG (or tenderiser).

You can pass on the pad thai...
We could not resist ordering a portion of pad thai with prawn (S$4) to try. But similarly, this one could do with much stronger flavours. But perhaps those who do not like their food too spicy will take to it.

No MSG and no tenderiser used!
There are various bowl or portion sizes to choose from. Interestingly, the food's also halal. We tried really hard to ignore the tacky tagline. You can check out Keropokman's photos of the dishes from 2008 (I should have had the version with tripe!)

Block 449 Clementi Ave 3
Singapore 120449

There seems to be a branch at near Harbourfront too.
Block 2 Seah Im Road
#01-44 Seah Im Food Centre

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tong Ah Crispy Kaya Toast

Tong Ah Extra Crispy Kaya Toast
Some of the more sublime joys in life are also the simplest. Delicately crisp toast sandwiching a a layer of homemade kaya and a slab of cold butter. Tong Ah's famous crispy kaya toast has won the hearts of many foodies (read about their story in Makansutra). But know that you have to ask for the extra CRISPY toast (it's toasted and re-toasted skillfully to achieve that ultra-light crispness), or else you'll just get the regular variety.

Lots of people like the local style coffee and tea here as well. Certainly goes down well with the kaya toast. Best of all, prices are still very down-to-earth, from 60 cents for the toast, and just $1+ for drinks.

Tong Ah Coffeeshop
Tong Ah Coffeeshop is housed in a narrowly triangular corner of the shophouses at Keong Saik Road. Kinda like a mini Flatiron. There's not much space, but they have managed to squeeze several food stalls in here, along with the coffeeshop drinks stall.

36 Keong Saik Road
Singapore 089143
Tel: +65 6223 5083
Open Mon to Fri: 11.00am - 2.30pm and 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Sat & Sun: 11.00am - 2.30pm and 5.30pm - 11.00pm
Closed alt Wednesdays

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Supernature Recipe: Pasta With Zucchini, Goat's Cheese and Basil

Sponsored photography postPasta With Zucchini, Goat's Cheese and Basil
Organic superstore Supernature now features recipes on its website. There are recipes from award-winning chefs, and also by "supercooks" (non-professional cooks, taste-tested by an in-house panel). You can also choose to view recipes by course (main/dessert/side/drink) or by ingredient.

I had the chance to try out the Pasta With Zucchini, Goat's Cheese and Basil. It's really easy to whip up. The flavours are there - tangy lemon, spicy heat of the red pepper flakes, salty creaminess of the cheese, and sweetness of zucchini and onions. It really tastes like a Mediterranean vegetarian dish (in fact, if you omit the cheeses, you have a vegan recipe!). I do think the recipe is quite versatile. Some grilled fish, chicken or shrimp would add even more tasty protein. Sun-dried tomatoes, olives and grilled eggplant could work as well. You can swap out the goat cheese if you are not a fan of it. You can add your favourite ingredients to experiment.

The recipe below serves four.

Organic pasta, goat cheese, lemon, onion and zucchini
½ tsp dried chilli flakes, approximately
1 tsp sea salt
1 medium brown onion, peeled and finely diced
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, finely diced
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
120 gm goat’s milk cheese, diced if soft, or grated if firm
400 gm dried pasta (any kind)
500 gm green zucchini, ends trimmed
Freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan to serve
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Pan-frying the zucchini and onions...
Using the large holes on a grater, grate zucchini with the skin still on.
Heat olive oil in a heavy-based pan, add onion, half the basil leaves, garlic, chilli flakes, salt and pepper, and stir over medium heat for 2 minutes.
Add grated zucchini, cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to overcook the zucchini or it will lose too much colour.
Add lemon juice. Check seasoning and add a little more salt, pepper and lemon juice, if required.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain pasta and place back in the saucepan.
Toss the pasta with half the zucchini sauce and spoon into bowls.
Spoon remaining sauce over the top, sprinkle with goat’s cheese, parmesan, and remaining basil leaves.

Thanks to Supernature for providing the ingredients, and commissioning the photos. The post and review is mine.

SuperNature (Flagship Store)
#B1-05/09 Forum The Shopping Mall
583 Orchard Road
Tel +65 6304 1336
Fax +65 67350366
Opening Hours:
10am – 7.30pm daily

SuperNature (Mother & Child)
B1-20A Paragon
290 Orchard Road
Tel +65 6304 1339
Fax +65 6735 4207
Opening Hours:
10am – 9.30pm Monday – Friday
10am – 10pm Saturday
10am – 9.30pm Sunday & Public Holidays

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cherry Garden Champagne Dim Sum Weekend Brunch

UPDATE Sept 2013: Cherry Garden no longer serves champagne with its dim sum brunch. The cost is now S$68++ with endless flow of dim sum and one order of soup, appetiser, main course and dessert per person. Two seatings apply: from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1.30 to 3.30 p.m.

Foursome of dim sum!
Most of us love our dim sum brunches but are afraid of feeling surfeit towards the end, and still not quite satisfied somehow. Well, I've finally found one that gives me the perfect balance of quantity, and doesn't compromise on quality. The Cherry Garden Champagne Dim Sum Weekend Brunch!

I've been to Cherry Garden several times for dim sum and generally have never been disappointed. And now they've added a touch of luxury to their dim sum weekend brunch with Perrier-Jou√ęt Grand Brut champagne (you can upgrade to Belle Epoque if you prefer).

They have also changed the way they serve the brunch, making it a bit more sophisticated than the usual free-for-all gluttonfest. It's now individual portions of dim sum and thoughtful degustation portions of very good mains, soups, appetisers and desserts. They still pamper you with impeccable service and now they've added the option of free-flow ice-cold champagne!

Chilled champagne goes very well with dim sum indeed!
Champagne with dim sum? Yes! While I am quite a traditionalist (normally preferring dim sum with Chinese tea), I found that chilled champagne goes superbly with dim sum too! Even my hubby was pleasantly surprised that they went so well together.

Look at the fine skin on the dim sum
But the exquisite dim sum is still the star of the show. Every dumpling is a delight. We marveled at the fine craftsmanship and the freshness of the ingredients. I counted about 20 varieties - I must go back and try the ones I missed!

Serving the dim sum in individual portions also means everyone definitely gets one - no need to fight or fret over communal servings (Too many? Too few? Who gets the last piece?).

Steamed radish cake stuffed with minced pork and dried shrimps
Steamed radish cake stuffed with minced pork and dried shrimps.

Deep-fried potato dumplings stuffed with cheese crabmeat and onions
Deep-fried potato dumplings stuffed with cheese crabmeat and onions. The thin batter gives way to gooey goodness within!

Hong Kong style minced pork and shrimp dumpling soup with choy sum (foreground) and Double-boiled fish broth with pak choy, fish maw and tofu
It's not just dim sum. You get a choice of soups, appetisers, mains and desserts. Here we have the Hong Kong style minced pork and shrimp dumpling soup with choy sum (foreground) and Double-boiled fish broth with pak choy, fish maw and tofu (background).

Shrimp salad with wood ear mushrooms,  cucumber and ginger - sesame dressing
From the appetiser section: Shrimp salad with wood ear mushrooms, cucumber and ginger-sesame dressing. I can never resist wood ear mushrooms!

Honey-glazed Kurobuta pork char siew and braised soya chicken with shallots
There is a small but good selection of mains. Honey-glazed Kurobuta pork char siew and braised soya chicken with shallots. Both good, although I think the char siew fares better when it's inside the fluffy and not-to-be-missed kurobuta char siew buns (dim sum item)!

There's also a variation of the Kurobuta pork - wok-fried with garlic, leek and honshimeiji mushrooms in chef's concoction.

Braised soya chicken with shallots
Close up shot of the braised soya chicken. I'm not usually a fan of soya chicken but I liked this. I have previously tried their slow-cooked beef brisket with radish, onions and ginger which is also good, and I was happy to see it on the menu. Too bad Chef Hiew's spectacular roast pork is not listed though!

Crisp wasabi-aioli prawns with fresh mango and fish roe
From the seafood mains: Crisp wasabi-aioli prawns with fresh mango and fish roe. Always enjoyable here. If you prefer something healthier, you can try the Steamed patin fish with crispy bean crumbs in light soya sauce.

Braised Ee-fu noodles with nameko mushrooms, silver sprouts and yellow chives
One of my favourite dishes since childhood, done pretty well here. Braised Ee-fu noodles with nameko mushrooms, silver sprouts and yellow chives.

Desserts at Chinese restaurants tend to be quite an afterthought. But the folks at Cherry Garden have put quite a bit of thought into creating some unusual desserts. We found the “Watermelon Chutney with Aloe Vera, Crystal Pears and Refreshing Lemongrass Jelly”, and “Cream of Avocado served with Walnut Ice Cream” both very refreshing. There's also the traditional royal steamed red bean sponge (on the right).

We ended the meal feeling very good. You feel like you've eaten just the right amount, and your palate is very satisfied.

For the quality of food, I'd say this brunch is a very good deal. If you are not a drinker (like me), you can opt for the brunch without the beverages.

The weekend champagne brunch is available Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 12.30 to 3 p.m. and reservations are essential:
  • S$48.00++ per person with endless flow of dim sum and one order of soup, appetiser, main course and dessert per person. This lighter brunch is available for two seatings: from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1.30 to 3 p.m.
  • S$118.00++ with endless flow of dim sum, soups, appetisers, main courses, desserts, Champagne, wine, beer, juices and soft drinks. No seating time limits.
  • S$338.00++ with endless flow of dim sum, soups, appetisers, main courses, desserts, Belle Epoque Champagne, wine, beer, juices and soft drinks. No seating time limits.

My most heartfelt thanks to Kelly of the Mandarin Oriental for this lovely invitation, and for the discovery that champagne is perfect with dim sum! We'll be back for sure.

5th Floor, Mandarin Oriental Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039797
Tel: +65-6885-3538 (call this for reservations)
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