Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012, Here We Come!

Hope everyone has been eating well this holidays! I myself had quite a yummy Christmas in Hong Kong, going beyond the usual dim sum and enjoyed outstanding Spanish and Italian meals. And as I'm typing this post, I'm still thinking about my Green Curry KFC in the afternoon!

Yes I'm back in the Land of Smiles, this time with the girlfriend for a shop-till-die journey. Won't be writing much now as I still have to go prepare for our New Year Eve feast in the hotel room! Just to wish everyone a joyous celebration tonight!

Cheers to a full-filing year ahead!

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ramen Champion: Tetsu's Intensive Soup Stock!

So I finally got over my obsession with Bario and moved on to try the other stores at Ramen Champion. Next on the list: Tetsu!

Very Rich Special Paitan Tsukemen ($12.50)

Renowned for their dipping ramen, Tetsu was one of the first few places to use hot broth instead of the usual cold version to make Tsukemen. It took me less than a second to decide which item to go for as the "very rich" and "special" was too tempting to be resisted!

The first thing that stuck me was how good the noodles were on its own. Smooth, gleaming surface with a chewy texture, it was very different from my preferred choice of hakata-styled thin noodles yet being really addictive till the end.

Stewed with pork, chicken and seafood, the stock was almost gravy-like with a thick, grainy texture. Dip the bland noodles into this rich and intensive creation and you will get one darn well tasting combination. My basic noodles came with only one slice of charsiew, but there's nothing to stop you from adding more and a boiled egg!

Now please don't try to drink the gravy as it is definitely way too salty on its own. Once you are done with the noodles, go back to the store and dilute it with hot fish stock, then you can slurp up every bit of that yummy broth.

Tetsu's Tsukemen was definitely an eye-opener for me, a breakaway from the traditional ramen and still very attractive on its own. Next time, I'm gonna upsize my noodles to enjoy more of that gravy!

Ramen Champion (Tetsu)
201 Victoria Street
Bugis Iluma #04-08/09/10
Tel: 6238 1011

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, December 26, 2011

Pow Sing: Much More Than Just Chicken Rice!

If you had been following this blog, you would realise that I had never once talk about chicken rice. Well to be blunt, I do not think much (if any) of the birds available locally and the only attractive part of the dish is the pandan-infused, chicken-oiled rice. That makes writing very difficult eh? Well, thank goodness for Pow Sing then!

Situated in the enclave of Serangoon Gardens, Pow Sing Restaurant has been around for as long as my family migrated here, serving chicken rice and a whole range of nonya dishes. They have certainly expanded over the years, taking over adjacent shophouse spaces and witnessed challengers like Five Star to come and go. Weekends are usually full house affairs, requiring short waits if no reservations were made.

Petai Prawn (Small)($18.00), Sambal Kangkong (Small)($8.00)

I find that people don't really appreciate petai, or stink beans, these days. Perhaps its as acquired as durian or blue cheese, but my family certainly liked its nutty texture and how its paired with sambal and crunchy prawns over here.

The usual greens was not the spiciest rendition around, but they made up for it by going heavy on shrimp paste to give it a richer flavour.

Crispy Tauhu (Small)($8.00), Ngoh Hiang(Small)($8.00)

Must order for every visit! It might be the simplest dish around, but Pow Sing nailed it perfectly with skin that was slightly crispy and an interior that was so silky smooth and soft that it felt like beancurd dessert. You got to try it for yourself!

Give me this over the so-called prawn balls anytime, really. Instead of ones that restaurants tend to mix so much with minced pork and whats-not that you could barely taste prawn anymore, why not just have the proper stuff with crunchy water chestnut bits? Yummy with the accompanying sweet sauce!

Fish Head Curry (Large)($36.00), Chicken Rice ($1.00/pax)

For me, the star is always the curry, not the head! Although we thought that Pow Sing's fish was not fantastic with rather coarse and bland meat, the tangy curry never fails to whet my appetite and make me polish off a lot more rice than I should!

Well if you are big on chicken rice, then go ahead with a few more bowls! The fluffy, fragrant rice is charged per pax so its like free-flow as long as your stomach could take it. Great for growing schoolboys and hungry NSFs who need their carbo load!

Whole Chicken ($36.00)

Okay okay, I think I have to customarily run through this since its a chicken rice place after all. While it wouldn't appear on family visits, there's really no reason to avoid it when dining with friends. To be fair, the gleaming skin was nicely done while the meat was tender and succulent at most parts, but that's all I have to say. Singapore's chicken severely lacks the "chicken" taste. If you could, go eat some chicken in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even in our neighbouring Malaysia and you would probably understand what I mean.

Dining at Pow Sing will cost you about 20odd per person after taxes. That might be pricier than most family restaurants, but their tasty rice and delightful nonya creations (Awesome deep fried sotong too!) certainly made my family return time and again, and the number one place to bring tourist friends to for a taste of the famed local dish. As for me, curry, tauhu and rice makes a drool-worthy combo already!

Pow Sing Restaurant
63-65 Serangoon Garden Way
Tel: 6282 7972

Taken with Nikon D70
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sharing Wallpapers This Christmas!

I'm not a Christian, but I love celebrating Christmas and the idea of sharing with loved ones. While you won't find any product giveaways on this blog, I think there are something else which I am pretty willing to give, if people wants them!

Here's a collection of photos which have been featured here at some point of time, and which I have been using as my laptop wallpapers. Do feel free to download and use them on yours! Psst, Windows 7 can auto-change wallpapers on a timed basis so put that to good use too!

I'm running on a 1366 x 768 resolution with desktop icons lined up on the left, and most of the photos look fine on my screen. I have not included any sort of watermark, so I will appreciate it if you don't claim them as your creations!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Steak, The Dunearn

Dessert, The Dunearn

Pork Chop, Oriole Cafe

Homecooked Meal

Club Sandwich, Kim Gary

Bread Basket, Sky on 57

Char Siew Puff, Crystal Jade

Salad, Dolce Vita

Cold Tomato Soup, Wolf Brasserie

Condiments, Hilton Pattaya

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, December 17, 2011

Halia: Christmas Brunching!

This is an invited session

December is always a jolly month. The students have their holidays, the adults have their bonuses (huat ah!) and of course, its Christmas season for everyone! Well this year's Christmas Day falls just right on a Sunday and that, foodie or not, is a perfect reason to celebrate with a get-together brunch! If you don't have a place in mind for that yet, Halia might just be the one you are looking for!

Located among the greenery of Botanic Gardens, I last visited the quaint Halia in early 2010 with a joyous bunch of foodies (Ahh, the memories!). Having celebrated their 10th anniversary recently, it underwent a mini makeover as the indoor seating area was refitted with a open kitchen concept, while the original wine bar was shifted to the alfresco area. The outdoor tables seemed to be reshuffled (from my memories) as well, but nonetheless a hit with patrons for the "dining in the garden" feel.

Chef Reynaldo Arriola (Right)

Halia also welcomed a new Chef de Cuisine, Reynaldo Arriola, upon its 10th anniversary. With his Filipino Spanish background, SHATEC foundation and Michelin-Starred experiences, Chef Reynaldo is revamping Halia's menu for a whole new dining experience, introducing Asian touches to modern European cuisine.

I was invited to try out part of the Christmas brunch menu that will be presented on 25th itself, one session only!

Priced at $108++ with Alcohol ($88++ without) and $38++ for child, pre-booking is still available as they will be opening up Halia Villa opposite as well. Christmas decor is always mood-lifting to look at and in case you are worrying, reindeer meat is not on the menu!

For the session, we tried 3 starters and 6 desserts, a small fraction of the spread on the actual day. Live stations will be available as well!

Beef Carpaccio - Fresh and juicy with a tinge of lemon, what's there to fault with my favourite Italian starter?

White Prawn on Butter Lettuce - Crunchy halved prawns, very appetising with the special blend of spicy mayonnaise
Ocean Trout en Croute - Double thumbs up! Chunky seafood goodness with a rich, creamy sauce, enclosed in a puff that was yummy even in the cold. Would have second and third helpings of this!

Chocolate Dome - Chocoholics would love its dense texture, but one small slice was enough for me.
Mixed Berry Tart - Quite the ordinary, frankly.

Coffee Cardamom Creme Brulee - Just imagine an aromatic cup of coffee in pudding form. Would gladly have this every morning if it could give me the same caffeine effect!
Pecan Pie - My favourite dessert among all! Loved the bite-sized portion and nutty taste of pecan!

Strawberry Oreo Cheesecake - Mmm.. another one of the "one-round-enough" dessert.
Pumpkin Pie - Lightly flavoured with a custard-like texture. Good if you don't like your desserts overly sweetened!

Besides the Christmas brunch, Halia also whipped up some new festive creations for that will be available till the end of this year. Let's start with the cocktails!

My Mistletoe ($20++) was shaken with a vodka base and largely flavoured with the melon liqueur of Midori. Not bad!

Didn't try the Candy Cane ($20++) and Sparkles ($20++), keep a lookout for them on other blogger writeups!

Prefer something non-alcoholic? Have the Ginger Jive ($12++) then! The orange-based mocktail had the cooling aftereffect of ginger!

Moving on to the new starters! Honey Baked Ham ($32++) has just been upped to the luxury level with the usage of Kurobuta pork! Went surprisingly well with caramelised fig.

If you prefer seafood instead, the Crystal Bay King Prawn Cocktail ($32++) will suit you well. Served with colourful cubes of beetroot and mango, the flavours are further enhanced by the distinctive calypso sauce.

The Grilled Blue Eye Cod Fish ($78++) is rather different from your usual cod fish, being less fatty and more firm in nature. A pity that the miso paste on top wasn't well fire-controlled and the accompanying spinach polenta was a tad dry.

Now I'm not a fan of turkey meat, so the Roast Turkey Supreme ($68++) came across as tough and dry for me. To each his own!

Oh wait, there's still desserts! The Christmas Soufflé ($22++) was pure comfort stuff, made with white chocolate and cleverly paired with salted caramel ice cream for a sweet savoury finish.

The Pistachio Mille feuille ($22++), on the other hand, was more lightly flavoured as the American classic Eggnog stood out in the form of ice cream.

To really complete the Halia (aka Ginger) experience, why not end the meal with a pot of Hot Halia Infusion ($10++)? The house specialty of sun-dried ginger and wild mountain honey doesn't overpowers like Chinese ginger tea and will leave you with a warm tummy on the way out!

Regardless of its Christmas brunch or its seasonal creations, Halia will have some pleasant surprise for you and your loved ones this festive holiday. So remember to book soon if Christmas in the Gardens sounds good to you!

The Halia Restaurant
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Tel: 8444 1148
Click for Christmas Brunch Menu and Festive Creations!

Special thanks to Karen of FoodNews for the invite!

Taken with Nikon D70