Thursday, April 6, 2023

Fanntasy Tarts as Sweet Mother's Day Gift

Fann Wong has launched a seasonal exclusive Yuzu Matcha Tart (S$59) to add to Mother's Day celebrations. The sweet and tangy combo is decorated with rose petals. The buttery sable base houses a layer of fluffy almond sponge. It is then layered with matcha cremeux, a velvety and creamy filling infused with premium Japanese green tea powder. The tart is finished with tangy yuzu curd to balance the rich and earthy matcha. Just look at how indulgent it is. 

Also returning are the all-time favourites Valrhona Chocolate Tart (S$58) and Raspberry Sakura Yogurt Tart (S$58). For the Valrhona Chocolate tart, the chocolate cremeux is made with Valrhona 70% dark chocolate and a layer of delicate almond sponge. First unveiled as last year’s Mother’s Day treat, the Raspberry Sakura Yoghurt Tart is a multi-layered tart featuring Greek yogurt mousse, almond sponge and raspberry marmalade.

The three offerings will be available on Wednesday, 12 April 2023 at 1.05pm, via https://fanntasybakes.com.sg/. All tarts are while stocks last and can be pre-ordered for Mother's Day.

My kids are too young (and poor cos I control the pocket money), so maybe I should get this for myself since nobody else will. Yo, all single moms out there, you deserve it too. God knows life is tough enough. 😄

Photos courtesy of Fanntasy


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Chef Haikal's alkove: casual French Bistro/Cafe at Kovan

Chef Haikal Johari has opened a casual French-inspired bistro called alkove at Kovan. It's lovely he is bringing a slice of his fine-dining expertise from vaunted establishments like Joel Robuchon and Les Amis to the heartland crowd. You may even remember him from Alma by Juan Amador. I met him when he was making the unforgettable recovery from the accident that had paralysed him from shoulders down. But as the picture of determination, he defied the odds and started walking again. And Alma kept its Michelin star for at least three years running. 

While he's known for his exceptional modern-European dishes with Asian influences, Chef Haikal is making unpretentious crowd favourites at this bistro. Think well-executed classics. 

Our favourite dish there is undoubtedly the Wagyu Onglet Steak Frites, at a remarkable price point of S$29.90. It's Margaret River wagyu dressed in beef jus, and accompanied by watercress and scrumptious fries. This was a perfectly seasoned treat from start to finish, with every bite making you wish there were more. Too often these days, I encounter food that's a bit shy on salt and savoury notes. Not this baby, I'm glad to say!

Look at how juicy and marbled the meat is! Perfectly seared on the outside but lusciously pink in the middle. The fries were excellent. Delicately crispy and yielding! Must have taken great timing and temperature control. 

Other hearty options include Ocean Trout, and Chicken Vin Blanc, which I would be more than happy to come back and try. But ohhh, how to resist this steak and choose another meat over it?

But if you do, take the Confit de Canard (S$22.90) atop a bed of rissoni (I totally love this rice-shaped pasta). The duck confit features a whole tender duck leg clothed in crispy skin. Sweet carrots and duck jus round up the dish nicely. 


Check out the Neo-Parisian French Onion Gratinée (S$12.90) which elevates the classic recipe of French Onion Soup with a touch of miso for an additional kick of umami. 

So thick and luscious, topped with all that cheese...decadence in a bowl.

The soup did not come with bread, so I'm glad we had also ordered the Toasted Sourdough (S$9.50) with freshly churned kombu butter. 

The bakes here are the understated star of the show. The team of young bakers in the kitchen are talented indeed, churning out breads and viennoiseries using prime ingredients like fine French and Canadian flour.

The Pain au Chocolat (S$5.50) 🥐 lured us with its fine buttery layers... 

The glass showcase is a dangerous place to hover at. You'll want everything. The team created special croissants like almond-coconut and baklava, and a cardamom kouign-amann. Seriously, these photos are as is, I did not enhance them. They look this good in real life. 

I'm getting this one next time!

Fresh loaves of sourdough and Pain de Mie are available for both dine-in and takeaway, and an all-day treat is the Gula Melaka Canelés that are baked fresh twice daily using traditional French techniques.

The croissant is airy and light, but then so is the chocolate portion within. Ah well. There's never enough chocolate anyway.

And we had to go for a dessert - the Crème Caramel (S$9.90) with Tahitian vanilla, berries, creme anglaise. This was simple but very pleasing. 

Brunch is another popular event here. Eggs are served three ways, with care taken to use only Singapore-farmed Japanese free-range eggs. Egg-lovers will find the Scrambled Eggs done perfectly soft and creamy, plated with sourdough, cream cheese and smoked beef sausage. With the œufs à la coque, soft-boiled eggs are panko-crusted and fried, then placed atop ciabatta and Bayonne ham, slathered with a hollandaise sauce to finish. 

So, in all, alkove offers un-intimidating French fare that does not take itself too seriously. I like the bright, welcoming, and cosy interior. Splashes of yellow, blue and terracotta marry well with the beautiful sunlight streaming in through the large alcove windows. This is a wonderful place to catch up with friends or spend time with family over a satisfying meal or tea break. 

2 Kovan Road
01-10 Simon Plaza

Weekdays: 10am-9pm
Weekends: 9am-9pm
Closed on Tuesday
Reservations via Chope
No reservations from 9am-5.30pm on weekends

Many thanks for the invitation!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Racines Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet

Racines has planned a magnificent-looking Easter Sunday brunch on 9 April 2023. From 12:30pm to 3:30pm, guests can look forward to an egg-stensive buffet spread alongside a wholesome line-up of family-friendly activities. 

The menu will feature elevated indulgences such as Pan-fried Foie Gras with Kumquat Marmalade, Baked Lobster with Tarragon Béarnaise, Braised Angus Beef Cheek with Red Wine, and more. A traditional live carving station takes centre stage, presenting Coastal Lamb Rack with Chimichurri Sauce. 

Other Asian highlights not to be missed include Stir-fried Crayfish with Chilli Crab Sauce, as well as Roasted Duck with Angelica Sauce. In keeping with the sweet traditions of the holiday, gourmands can complete the experience with a selection of patisserie creations including Croffles, Hot Cross Buns, Cinnamon Rolls, Carrot Cake, and Lemon Meringue Pie. 

 While the adults enjoy the decadent spread, the balloon sculptor and magician will enthrall and occupy the children's attention with colourful entertainment. 

 Racines’ Easter Sunday Brunch is priced at $138++ per adult, $69++ per child. For reservations or enquiries, guests can visit https://bit.ly/racines-easter, call +65 6428 5000 or email HA152@sofitel.com.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Au Balcon at Summerhouse: French classics in romantic garden setting

Summerhouse has reinvented Au Balcon or The Balcony on its second storey overlooking its picturesque garden space. It's pretty, it's cosy and certainly a lovely romantic spot to hang out with loved ones. In the lush greenery of Seletar surrounded by colonial bungalows, this place is truly an escape from high-rise living. 

Not only that...guess who came here to dine too?

Barack Obama, my man! I guess they wanted to bring him somewhere truly nice with an air of exclusivity. And where they can organise something with all that top level security for two heads of state! I feel safe here now. 

I really like this picture. Captures the chill vibe that this POTUS always has had. 

I wonder what they ate. I wonder what the Secret Service ate. If they did, at all.  

The cuisine is French classics given a little twist. For appetisers, you might find the Nicoise Salad which features a smoky, tender grilled octopus leg on a bed of fresh butterhead lettuce, sweet cherry tomatoes, haricot verts, olives, fingerling potatoes and local Kelong-farmed prawns. We will have to try that on our next visit. But what we had was just as amazing. Here, see...

Beautifully caramelised Seared Atlantic Scallops (S$24), served on on a swath of smooth, vibrant romesco sauce, topped with sweet caper raisins and coriander cress, fresh from The Summerhouse’s edible garden. This was an excellent starter and really raised expectations for the rest of the meal.

Florentine 65°C Organic Egg (S$18): tuck into a decadently creamy sous vide farm fresh egg on a bed of garlic sauteed spinach, and cauliflower puree that's tastier than mash. This is all topped with the lightest of fresh truffle shavings, pecorino and truffle vinaigrette. 

These two starters were my absolute favourites for the evening. 

For the mains, there's a selection of Inka oven charcoal-grilled proteins, such as the Wagyu Striploin (S$98), a generous cut that's got its best flavour on those charred edges, served with a buttery, smoked potato puree and crisp broccolini. It's pretty filling, but don't let that stop you from trying other stuff.

The Inka Grilled Iberico Pluma (S$48) is a gorgeous piece of seared pork but perhaps a little too thin and dry. The sweet-sour apple celeriac puree is rather mild, so it doesn't quite cut through the fat. However, the garlic brussels sprouts and toasted almonds add textural layer and interest. 

If you're eco-conscious, you can go for the sustainably sourced Seared Kuhlbarra Barramundi (S$36) with creamy polenta, and roasted heirloom carrots. I love fish panfried til crisp like this. What was really interesting was the deeply savoury crustacean reduction that tasted like shrimp/lobster bisque and tied everything together. 

Room for dessert? French desserts include Citrus Creme Brulee (S$16), an updated take with the addition of orange zest in the vanilla custard, and topped with fresh berries. This one is kept really simple. Maybe a little too simple for the price tag. 

Their version of the classic Paris Brest (S$16) looks more like an open face version. Normally the hazelnut praline is piped between two halves of a choux pastry ring, but this one sits on top of a whole pastry ring. Still, it looks pretty. Both desserts are served with a quenelle of housemade ice cream.

After dining at Au Balcon, you might like to explore the whimsical gardens at The Summerhouse that recently went through a S$300,000 overhaul, including upgraded Garden Domes. The Summerhouse is quite ideal for charming soirées, wedding parties and outdoor birthday parties alike. After all, if it's good enough for Barack...

Au Balcon at The Summerhouse’s new dinner menu is available daily except Tuesdays from
1 February, alongside a refreshed brunch menu that is served on the weekend. Reservations
are available online and via 8809 5840. 

3 Park Ln, Level 2, 
Singapore 798387
Tel: +65 8809-5840
Dinner : Wed to Mon, Eve of & PH 6PM to 10PM
Brunch : Sat, Sun & PH 1130AM to 3PM

Many thanks to The Summerhouse for the invitation

Monday, February 27, 2023

Lao Li Zi Char Super Eggy Fried Horfun

We saw this super eggy fried Horfun on a Facebook video and just had to come and try.  Lao Li is a casual zichar eatery at Simpang Bedok offering pretty decent Chinese stir fries. 

Well, the dish did not disappoint but didn't really wow us too much. Maybe we had built up excessive expectations! It's got just enough wok hei and flavour but for me, the eggs were still too runny. Maybe some will enjoy that. 

What we found surprisingly better was the Dai Lok Mee, or the Malaysian dark style Hokkien Mee. Deep intense umami flavours! Only letdown was the choice of udon-like noodles. Hey proper Hokkien noodles are available in Singapore now. No excuse. 

The other standout was the prawn paste chicken wings. Oooh perfection. Crispy, juicy and moreish!

We also tried the Sweet and Sour Pork, a dish highly recommended by other diners.  Nice that it came with lychees, but the pork was literally encrusted with sugar. Too sweet. 

Well, would I come back? Maybe for the chicken wings and other dishes. The collagen soup looked good too. 

Lao Li Zi Char 老李传统古早味大排档
282 Bedok Rd, Singapore 469438
Tel: +65 88636863
Open daily except Tuesdays
11am to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm

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