Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memoirs of Food turns 2!

On 30th May 2008, I wrote my first entry after much procrastination. It was just a simple ground for me to keep a photolog of my favourite hobby: Eating! The list of places grew over time and when friends ask about places to dine, I could lazily point them to the website and get them to see for themselves!

And so it has been exactly two years since that day! Much has changed from its beginning, from finishing National Service in peace and cluelessly jumping into tertiary education, to updating more frequently and upgrading my cameras. But one thing remains, and that is to share my gastronomic experiences with everyone in the most personal and honest manner!

I think the site layout deserves a revamp for the celebration and thus the brand new look! Special thanks to Roam2Rome for the design, and Harris for the banner shot of me taken in Spruce!

In the future, I hope to diversify a little and do mini write-ups of places I have been to over the years. Of course, food is still the number one topic on my mind which I will continue writing gleefully.

Lastly, I would like to thank each and everyone of you who have been reading this little space of mine! Thank you for the kind comments left and giving wonderful suggestions on where to tickle my tastebuds next. Not forgetting the still-as-patient girlfriend (and more recently, my parents) who tolerates my camera fiddling before tucking into every meal!

Live to eat, and it will always be!

30th May 2010,
Daniel
Saturday, May 29, 2010

杨州饭店: A Family Feast In Shanghai!



While World Expo (thats for another post!) was an eye-opener, it was the meeting of my relatives that we were truly looking forward to. And so we had a long and pleasing dinner at YangZhou Restaurant!




The reason that I have relatives here is simply because my mom is a Shanghainese, so we have plenty of uncles, cousins, grand aunts and so on over here. YangZhou Restaurant is one of the older government-owned restaurants that serve up traditional YangZhou dishes. We had a cosy room to ourselves and over 20 dishes for the whole family (14 of us!), so this will be more of a pictorial than elaborated write-up!

First up, the cold dishes!





鸡爪, 醉鸡, 淆肉, 螺片

Shanghainese like to begin a meal with many little plates of cold dishes before settling in proper. These can be poultry/seafood dishes like Cold Chicken Feet, Drunken Chicken (a flavourful one!) , Crystalized Pork (My favourite!) and Conch Slices.





小黄瓜, 南瓜糕, 烤麸, 豆腐丝

Or simple vegetables/beancurd dishes like Cold Cucumber, Pumpkin Cake, 烤麸 (a type of harden beancurd with pothole-like texture), and Shredded Beancurd. Yes it might seem strange to have sweet stuffs for starter, but thats the way it is!

On to the hot dishes!





清炒虾仁, 油焖茄子, 臭豆腐, 海参鹌鹑蛋

There's a joke saying that when a Singaporean is served the Stir Fried River Prawns, he complained to the manager because he didn't pay so much to eat such tiny shrimps! But man, I will take this over tiger prawns anytime!

Brinjal added to our vegetable selection, Smelly Tofu was crispy and yes, smelly, while Sea Cucumber with Quail Eggs is an interesting combination.





炒鳝糊, 狮子头, 糟溜鱼片, 焖蹄膀

Eating Eel is a staple among Shanghainese, and stir-frying with soy sauce is one of the most common way to prepare it. Meatballs were as large as a child's fist, Fish Slices had hints of alcoholic sweetness while the Pork Knuckle was gleamingly chunky yet without the grease.





去骨鱼头, 炒蕹菜, 八宝鸭, 炖鸡汤

The Fish Head was amazing as it was completly deboned, Fried Kangkong was without the sambal chilli, Eight Treasure Duck was stuffed full of sticky glutinous rice and a good ol pot of hearty Chicken Soup to warm you up!

Room for more? Desserts!



松子粘糕, 豆沙窝饼

Don't worry, its not that much! The Sticky Cake with Pine Nut was very chewy, while the Red Bean Paste Pastry was hot and suitably sweetned.

Bill was about RMB1600 inclusive of a dozen large bottled beer, which is reasonable by China's standard (and by Singapore's standard, outrageously cheap I would say) considering the variety and quantity of food we had! I'm also pleased to say that we wiped clean all the dishes except for half of the eight treasure duck, taking it back home and not wasting any food at all!



And of course, all of these would be nothing if not in the company of my wonderful extended family! Words are simply not enough to express the feelings I have in seeing them again since 10 years ago! Cheers to a better life for all!

Address:

扬州饭店(瑞金店)
地址: 卢湾区瑞金二路108号民防大厦3楼(近复兴中路)
电话: 021-24028333 24028555

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 28, 2010

小杨生煎包: Best Shanghainese Snack Ever!



I'm sure many of you heard of 小笼包, the steamed pork dumpling that has raised in popularity in Singapore over the years, thanks to competent quality from Crystal Jade and renowned chain Ding Tai Fung. But as a half Shanghainese (and all along people thought I'm a 100% Hong-Konger), my favourite is not the Xiao Long Bao, but its pan-fried cousin, 生煎包!



小杨 is a restaurant chain in Shanghai that has been known to serve consistently good 生煎包. Similar to XLB, the skin is handmade by chefs (though thicker) and stuffed with pork fillings, it is then pan-fried on a huge iron plate and sprinkled with sesame seeds and spring onion before serving.


生煎包 (RMB5 for 4)

Jaw-dropping price, you could hardly get a Char Siew Pao for $1 in Singapore these days, let alone four! Now there's a trick to eating this, else you would be scalded by the really hot juice inside! Take a small nibble on the soften side and slowly slurp on it, or like what I like to do:




Pour the juice out onto a spoon and drink it all up! I can assure you that it is not one mass of greasy oil that I'm drinking, but hearty soup-like liquid that has been simmered with pork bones! Now all that is left is the flavourful minced meat within and my favourite part, the thick bottom crust that was intentionally burnt for its crunchy texture. I can eat all 8 of it myself!


Curry Beef Soup with Beancurd Skin and Vermicelli

Want something else to go with your bao? Try one of the soups on the menu! Shanghainese rarely take spicy food, so the curry stops merely at the flavour without the spiciness. What I really liked was the quality of the vermicelli that was thin, springy and chewy.

It's sad to say that I have yet to find a decent 生煎包 out of Shanghai. Whenever I see it on menus in Hong Kong and Singapore, they always turn out to be way below expectations. So if you happen to be in Shanghai, do give this one-of-its-kind pork dumpling a try!

For branches of 小杨, here's a reference site!

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back!

Hey all! I'm back from travelling!

Give me some time to sort out my luggage and stuffs, and I will then embark on a wave of write-ups on World Expo restaurants, dining in China, and my beloved Hong Kong eateries. And I better write them fast before they drag on for months!

Stay tuned!


Jump shot @ UK Pavilion, World Expo
Sunday, May 16, 2010

Oyster C: Italian in Hong Kong!



Greetings people! I usually start off Hong Kong posts with street snacks and café favourites, but let’s try something different this time! My mom was already here a week before me and my uncle brought her to Oyster C for dinner. It was so good for her that she brought me there for an encore!



Located at Tin Hau of Hong Kong island, they open only from 6pm onwards but until 2am, a place to go if you have pasta craving for supper! With free-for-all scribbling on walls, the restaurant was informal, small and cosy with a maximum capacity of about 30. Service was fantastic and personal with a fixed staff attending to you throughout the meal.



Crabmeat and Black Truffle Spread with Garlic Bread, Mussels In White Wine

Highly recommended by my mom, this was one of the best spread I had in a while! Thick, rich and creamy, there were generous chunks of crabmeat with bits of mushrooms. Bread was also freshly toasted, with crunchy crust and soft middle. We had seconds of the bread to go with the fantastic spread!

Cooked in white wine sauce and bacon strips, the fresh mussels wasn’t particularly outstanding but good to be shared as a starter.


Chargrilled Sirloin with Assorted Vegetables

While it was not as well-marbled as other cuts, its tender and juicy quality was definitely better than what I would have expected from sirloin. Vegetables were well done with selections of brinjal, capsicum and Japanese sweet potato.



Angel Hair with Foie Gras and Tiger Prawn, Squid Ink Spaghetti

Calories warning! The al dente angel hair was flavourfully tossed in garlic and olive oil, with both sinful goose liver and crunchy tiger prawn being personal favourites. Just couldn’t get enough of it!

I had high hopes of the second one after a string of not-that-satisfying encounters in Singapore. Alas, while the ink was pleasantly distinct without a raw aftertaste, too much of it soaked the pasta and felt overwhelmed after mouthfuls. The pasta was also a tad overcooked and suspected to be brought off the shelf.



Molten Chocolate Cake, Italian Coffee Ice Cream

Classic hot lava cake paired with vanilla ice cream, it was tastefully balanced with light whipped cream and fruits. The other one would be really good for coffee lovers with its strong flavour and chunks of liquor-laced sponge hidden within.

Bill for 4 was about HKD1400 after taxes with a bottle of house white and 3 soups (Cream of Mushroom, Minestrone and a unexpectedly good Tom Yum). The price was expected for a good restaurant dinner in Hong Kong and I enjoyed the experience overall. Drop me a mail if you wish to know its contact number and exact location!

Update: here's the contact for Oyster C, do give them a call for reservations to avoid disappointments!

Oyster C
98-104 Hing Fat Street
Tin Hau
Tel: 2834 7748

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, May 10, 2010

Off to Hong Kong and Shanghai!

In a few hours time, I will be on my way to hometown Hong Kong for about 2 weeks, with 6 days in between in Shanghai visiting relatives and of course, the World Expo! Hopefully I can get a stable connection and update on old favourites and new finds alike! See you all soon!

Cheers,
Daniel
Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ria Ayam Penyet II: Chilli Still As Potent!



When I started food blogging about two years ago, one of the very first posts was on Ria Ayam Penyet and its flaming chilli. Every once in a while I would visit them for the spicy kick, now with a new location and expanded menu!



The branch at Jurong Point (The one at Square 2 basement had changed hand)opened quite some time ago taking over the old spot of Siam Kitchen, in which a weekday dinnertime was enough to warrant a long queue. They had giant cages hanging as decor, while ordering style was still self-service with list ticking and payment made beforehand at the cashier.


Homemade Lime Juice ($2.00)

Refreshingly sour, this would come in real handy for the chilli later on!


Tahu Telor ($5.90)

One of the newer items on the menu, the firm beancurd was wrapped in a layer of crispy fried egg mixture. Completed with peanut sauce and crunchy shredded vegetables, it was really good to be shared as a side dish!


Boneless Chicken Chunk ($6.90)

Perfect for lazy people like me, they now offer smashed boneless cubes of chicken instead of drumsticks and wings! Honestly, the meat was still not juicy or tender enough, but the crispy skin, tasty batter and fire-breathing chilli sure made me overlooked that fact! Not forgetting about the serving of kangkong, tempe and fried tofu that completed the package!


Smashed Pomfret ($6.90)

With other varieties like Catfish and Grouper on the menu, the girlfriend still preferred the Pomfret for its texture. I would still very much like my Pomfret steamed, but its an altenative to poultry!

Bill for two was $25.40 after taxes. Ria is more expensive than your average ayam penyet at food courts, but they are not only banking on main courses but also the many types of sides to keep customers returning. Still serving one of the spiciest chilli you can find!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 07, 2010

Chef Daniel's: Great Deals For Lunch!



It's sad to see restaurants at Iluma unsustainable over time. Hua Li Xuan is gone, while the cinema level eateries had all closed down (The Xin Cafe says renovation, but no movement observed). Business at Marble Slab seems strong, and I hope it stays that way before I start shunning Iluma too! But did you know, there's another hidden gem at the rooftop?




Helmed by our local celebrity chef Daniel Koh, the restuarant was located at the rooftop garden with the dining area and open-kitchen housed seperately. Before exams, I was attracted by their set lunches at $10.50 nett, so I vowed for a visit after my papers!

Till now I'm puzzled by Iluma's design, in which they wasted a perfect rooftop view of the city skyline by having concrete instead of ceiling-to-floor glass walls. The restaurant itself was styled with parquet furnishing and booth seats options. Service was prompt and polite, making recommendations of their bestsellers.



Soup of the Day, Complimentary Bread

Serving Pumpkin Soup was definitely a refreshing change from your usual Cream of Mushroom! While it was flavourful, it would have left an even better impression if the texture had been less watery.

I love the "Q-ness" of the ciabatta bread, pity we had the last two on the tray as I saw them refilling with fresh hot ones after that!



Prawn & Crabmeat Burger, Tonkatsu Don

There were plenty of choices for main courses, so girlfriend and I settled on a burger and japanese selection for sharing. While crabmeat was almost non-existent, the juicy patty was delightful with crunchy prawn chunks. Served on a toasted half-bun, the other half was topped with fresh salad and had french fries as sides.

The don had a generous portion of tender pork cutlet with crispy coating, simmered lightly in egg mixture and enoki mushroom. With chewy japanese rice grains, a dash of soy sauce and seaweed, it was good ol comfort food!


Dessert of the Day

I'm not good at describing cakes, but to me this was essentially a very light sponge cake sprinkled with sugar icing. Served with honey and sweetened cherry, it was a simple but decent way to round off the meal!

All main courses also came with a choice of soft drink or coffee/tea. At its nett price, I thought it was a really affordable lunch fix without compromising on quality. In fact, I'm convinced enough to go back for their dinner menu coming Saturday!

Taken with Nikon D70