Saturday, May 30, 2009

267. Japanese Titbits

What to get from Japan? I searched online and surprisingly I couldn't find any relating to food. Mostly were on getting Burberry blue label goods. Shouldn't there be at least some information for tourists on what to get whilst in Japan? Or was my searching skills too bad?

A few days ago, it was advertised on papers that tourists visiting Singapore could get the following (to state a few) as souvenirs.

1. Barbequed pork

2. Bengawan Solo's pandan cake

3. Ready-made laksa, chili, chicken rice paste

and etc....

"No Laudree. No Pierre Herme.", Bro said. He is not going to bring back any of those dainty macarons, isaphans for me. "Awww..."
Just the commoner's pick. In Singapore, we could only get kit kat original. In Hong Kong, we could get kit kat filled with mint or orange, exterior is still of chocolate coat. In Japan, we could get kit kat coated with matcha and the interior is also filled with matcha. I loved the matcha kit kat more than the chocolate kit kat. Yummy....

More candies. Chelsea sweets. I think we could get this brand in Singapore. Not too sure about the peach flavour. The yogurt flavour which comes in green colour package is also nice. Ah.....soda gum. I wanted cidar sweets but bro didn't manage to get it. He got soda gum instead. And it's super soda gum, centre-filled with a tad more soda content (in powder form).

40 yen (app SGD 0.64) a bottle. So kawaii~ The height is half of what we have got here.

Satsukuri Toufu Kuranchi (Toufu crunchy). There are 10 packs in a canister, cost about 500 yen (app SGD 8). 豆太-san, the bean illustrated on the cover, is so kawaii! Tofu, the main ingredient,is mixed with black sesame seeds, concentrated milk and etc. It has a texture like the yogurt bar- chewy. It is ideal as a gift.
Well, we could get mochi as well but I personally felt the mochi was nothing special, just that they were very nicely wrapped. And maybe Imoyokan, the Japanese jelly made from sweet potatoes? At least it's something that we could only get in Japan. I wonder how's the taste like?

Friday, May 29, 2009

266. 7107 Flavours

Tucked at the far right end of the connecting aisle from City Link to Marina Square is 7107 Flavours. Philippines cuisine, my first try. A bar at the entrance. There was also a small platform but no live band was playing.
Drink of the month - Avocado Shake @$10
I loved avocado shake! Missed out the waitress saying that the avocado shake was the drink of the month and also the price that was stated on the menu. What am I doing? A glass of avocado shake for 10 bucks is definitely like putting your head to be chopped at the execution ground. OMG!'s just too expensive.
Sweet Melon Shake @$7
Same for the sweet melon shake....
Dinakdakan @$14.50
Appetizer - A speciality of the Northern region of the Philippines. Minced pork relish with mayonnaise and vinegar. It was like the fillings we had in our baguette except that the addition of chopped fresh green chilies gave the lump the crunch.
Fiesta Ensalada @$16.50
The salad platter was a mixture of eggplant, salted egg, okra, diced tomato and green mango and their special chili sauce. It was my first time to have eaten salad which had chili sauce as the dressing. Pretty unique. Choice of okra was not so appropriate in my opinion. 'Overaged' okra was a tad too hard. Usually a salad encompasses food which are light. Not for Fiesta Ensalada. Salted egg was of course very salty but it wasn't the extreme. The extremist was just next door. It made my shortest hair stand. The eggplant was steamed and marinated with the brownish sauce (seen below), using shrimp paste as the main ingredient. Aw god! I'm sorry, I do not know how to appreciate it, neither could my companions.
Kaldereta @$18.50
Stewed beef in rich tomato sauce. Beef was tender but overall this dish lacked the wow factor.
Salted Fish Rice @$3
Normal, we all thought. Luckily, it was not another 'extremist'.

Adobo Rice @$3

What is adobo rice? No description on the menu. Adobo is not a philippines word. If you know your history well, Philippines was under the reign of the Spanish. Adobo is a Spanish word. Adobo rice was made using sauces from the chicken and or beef stew and mixed with rice. Taste was just mediocre. The quality of the rice was not too bad. Every grain of rice was well-coated as seen via naked eyes but no expectional surge of fragrance despite the meat 'juices'. And I could imagine the meat fats that turned into oil and went into the rice.

Rellenong Manok @$18.50

Stuffed chicken with minced pork, ham and green peas. Not too bad, I thought. Presentation wise could have been better though. Also, the dim lightings made the chicken less appealing.

Ok...I wanted to say "awww..Alas...I should have brought my DSLR, the 'limpsy' fellow didn't do me proud." Low resolution, white balance unadjustable....and it's most probably a few steps away from the death row. Upset.
Bill worked out to be $105 for 3 pax. Food was decent except for the steamed eggplant. Price of food was a tad too expensive. Patrons were mostly Philipinos, it was like being in Philippines. It would have been great if a band was playing whilst we were dining.

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7107 Flavours
6 Raffles Boulevard
#02-02 Marina Square
Tel: 63347107

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

265. Dumpling Festival

*Adapted Picture

He is Mr Qu Yuan, the famous poet, also a victim of the court politics who committed suicide at the Milo River. His legacy is commemorated through the consumption of dumplings (aka Bak Zhang) on the day he committed suicide - 5th of the 5th lunar month.

You ask: " Why bak zhang and Qu Yuan?".

The Folklore: It was said that the civilians loved the patriotic poet so much that they feared the fishes would eat the body of Qu Yuan. So they wrapped rice (bak zhang) and threw them into the Milo River as a food offering to Qu Yuan and also to keep the fishes away from Qu Yuan's body.

Ingredients for making of Bak Chang:

1. Uncooked rice which was mixed with dark soy sauce.

2. Pork cut into cubes and seasoned with spices.
3. Dried Oysters.
4. Mushrooms sauteed with garlic.
5. Reed leaves aka dried bamboo leaves.
6. Plant-based strings for tying the dumplings.
7. Wrap them up!

8. Tie the dumplings, not too tight (it will damage the shape), not too loose (fillings will spill in the process of cooking).

8. Ready-to-cook

And so we did it the traditional way. Cooked using charcoal.

Other varieties of rice dumplings we made....碱水粽 (lye-treated rice dumpling). Lye caused the yellowish colour like what it caused the noodles. Some would wrap red bean paste in the lye-treated rice dumplings. My grandma's pretty unusual, she had the red beans added to the lye-treated glutinous rice (seen on the right). The plain lye-treated rice dumplings are usually eaten with fine sugar or even crushed peanut powder.
Do you know?
Rice dumplings have to be made pointy at the 3 ends, else one is deemed to have failed.
Have you had yours ?

Remember to slurp a cup of Chinese tea to reduce the greasiness and ease indigestion from over-consumption.

Happy Duan Wu (Rice Dumpling) Festival!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

264. Gunther's

Gunther's is not an unfamiliar place to many, especially the food bloggers. I'm not really the one who goes for fine dining but I definitely will not mind dining at Gunther's with the company of 24 food bloggers. All thanks to Brad and Yixiao for organising this event.

The place is pretty small, not that I have expected of. Sliding doors separate a private dining room and the common dining area. It was too dim. Gunther's used a lot of glasswares to decorate the place. Even on the tables and the wall lights. Besides the artistic feel, I felt it was more of making use of the colourful glasswares to create humane feel. If not, the place would have been dull and akin to the cold palace. Gunther's had arranged a big table for 25 of us that day. It made me think of 'The Last Supper'.

Chef Gunther decides on Carte Blanche (creating the menu with the available ingredients). This was why there wasn't a menu on the table like we usually have for food tasting sessions. These were the ingredients that the Chef is going to use. The moment they were displayed, the giant alaska crab caught the attention of many of us and next we heard shutters clicking away. Unusual takings. The crab was still alive! Giant edamames, don't tell me they got it from giant Jack. Alaska crab, white asparagus, tiny tweeny mussels and that plain looking tomato. They have got 'talents'.
No olive oil, just that slab of butter to spread on the small french loaf. So hard, I feared for my weak teeth. Not an ordinary slab of butter ? I think I tasted a tinge of lemon taste.

Japanese Tomato

The plain looking tomato, the giant edamame and crispy potato made the first appearance. The tomato was very sweet, I suppose addition of the vanilla essense played a part. Edamame always passed by me unnoticed on the menus and conveyor belts. It tasted better than the small ones.

Cold angel hair pasta, Oscietra caviar
While they were on way to be served, a few of us have thought there was a gas leakage or something. No, it was the doing of the truffle oil. A tad over. And the chives, I think not many would like the smell and taste of it. Couldn't really taste the caviar. But, overall, the texture of the pasta was good. A luxury, I thought.

Just to give a bigger view, the portion of the food was really small. I think the guys could finish it in a slurp.

Poached white asparagus, Bouchot mussels

Presentation of food is important and no doubt for French fine dining. The white asparagus accompanied by the tweeny mussles, cute sakura prawns (I loved them!) and the alaska crab.

I felt the white asparagus was a tad overcooked. Fibre and water content rich greens. The companions tasted great and so was the sauce. They complemented the bland white asparagus.

Grilled Cote de Boeuf, Japanese sweet-corn, sauce Bordelaise

Angus beef with grilled sweet corn and very thinly sliced crispy potato. Angus beef has a high carcass yield with marbled meat. It is more tender and tasty than the average beef. The angus beef that was served was with minimum trim. It was juicy and cooked to the right texture. I liked the red colouration of the meat. The corn was very sweet but I felt it was quite a misfit to be there with the angus beef. Not sure if the others have the same thoughts. A few of us were curious what was that thinly sliced cracker. Turnip, I guessed. No. It was again, Mr. Potato. The potato must be real big, I thought. Gunther's had a machine that does all these tricks. Applaud.

Fine apple tart a la dragées, Havana rum raisin ice-cream

The apple tart has a crust that was akin to the Chinese red bean pastry, just that I find it a tad more oily. Sprinkled with almond dragées. Sugar shells from the dragées gave the crunch to the tart filled with thinly sliced apple. Coupled with the rum raisin ice-cream, it was real satisfying. The rum used was quite light. I do not like rum raisin ice-cream where the rum steals the limelight.

Iced tea requested by keropokman.
Tea or coffee to end the blogger's lunch @Gunther's

Overall, the dining experience at Gunther's was great. Got to meet up with some food bloggers since the last food event and also met some new fellow bloggers. Though food wasn't to the expectations for some of us in terms of quality and quantity, I believed all of us were consoled by the laughter and fun. There was lucky draws with very nice gifts. FQ is blessed to have won the 2nd top prize - cooking voucher by Saint Pierre! Thanks again to our 2 organisers for finding these sponsors and our chef Gunther for hosting this event with the specially arranged Carte Blanche menu at a special price. Heard that chef gunther does not have a liking for food bloggers. Do ask for permission to take photos if you are there.
36 Purvis Street
Singapore 188613

263. Winkz Winkz Cafe

Chicken wings and fillets w specially created mayonnaise sauce

The chicken was duper hot, freshly delivered from the deep fryer. This chicken wing's texture was akin to the KFC's fiery devil drumlets (N years ago) except that the interior was juicier and the exterior, made a tad crispier. The fiery hot index wasn't high though the appearance seemed that a speckle of chili powder had coated the exterior. However, the salty index was definitely 1 step or 2 to the peak. Tasted it carefully, the focus of the taste laid on the exterior. The specially created mayonnaise dip was light and with a tinge of sourness (I suppose lime or lemon was added), improved the overall taste of the chicken wings and fillets. Eliminated the greasiness, not the saltiness. Too much chicken seasoning powder?
Tuna (top) Chicken (bottom) filo pastries
Next were the filo pastries. It was my first time to taste filo pastries. I have yet to see snack outlets or cafes selling filo pastries. Fillings wrapped in skin of tissue thickness. The skin was so thin and fried till so crispy that even a slightest touch is not going to leave it unharmed. If you ask me, I am definitely going to forgo my buttery crust chicken pies and etc for the filo pastries. The filo pastries were not as buttery but strange, there was a mild butter fragrance. The tuna was a tad too spicy and I felt it is definitely not suitable for children. Luckily, one can request for the tuna filling with no chili. The other filo pastry with chicken filling misled the food tasters to think curry powder was added but it wasn't. Spices do wonders. Average, I thought. High votes went to the tuna filo pastry.
Samosa alike filo pastry with potato filling. The filling was pretty bland. I felt if this was served first, we may not have thought so. Our tongues were numbed by the excessive saltiness in the fried chicken and spiciness from the tuna filling filo pastry.
FQ is honoured to be part of Mediacorp's filming for [Buzzing Cashier's 2] which is going to be aired soon. The first episode was at this small outlet which is located in the bus interchange in Hougang. This outlet faces competition from the 'M' giant fast food chain and economic canteen for the bus drivers. The lady boss's mismanagement put herself deeply into debt. The cafe will be closing in a month's time if she had not sought BC2's help.
It was a fun experience to see how a variety show was filmed. Kym was very bubbly, Quan yi feng was very vocal and Zhou chong qing was admirable (he did not mind his artiste background but rendered help whenever he can).
Thanks to Kim, the executive producer for inviting me to the food tasting for BC2.

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Winkz Winkz Cafe
Hougang Bus Interchange
Blk 840 #01-08