Joining the ever growing library of buffets packing our congested shores, is the Japanese Sweets buffet, aptly named Let's Sweets. A new venture by Japan Food Holdings Limited; also responsible for the dynamism of the Japanese food scene in Singapore with restaurants such as Botejyu and Ajisen in its helm, the company has turned its attention to buttering up a different throng of diners with a whole bucket of sugar in tow. Yes, a dessert buffet; more importantly, an affordable one situated in the heart of a bustling shopping mall instead of the usual prissy fine dining setting of hotel splendor.
What really captivates me about the dining concept is their ability to contain so much food in the most limited space available. Boosting a spread of desserts in a rainbow of colors and varied textures, one would go gaga over the array. All whilst glancing nervously at the rapidly descending numbers on the little timer perched on the ledge. Even as I speak now, there is a sense of urgency to spill the beans regarding the entire experience.
Clockwise (from top left) - Omu Rice, Dessert display, Crepe station, Caramel Apple crepe
In retrospect, the meal had its fair share of hits and misses. I'll cut to the chase here since at this point, you're probably going berserk from the photos galore in this entry. Must-tries include the mixed berries crepe, sea salt caramel roulade, blueberry chiffon cake, Coffee Zenzai, Souffle Cheesecake, Omu rice and Japanese Curry.
The Sea Salt caramel roulade deserves a place on a pedestal, and now as sit in recollection of entire lunch rush; I'm filled with regret for not having grab a platter full of this bittersweet confection. Each slice bringing forth a tidal wave of mixed expressions, tender cake giving way to the sweet and smokey flavors of the caramel cream, punctured by the tinge of salt added.
Desserts aside, the buffet spread boost quite a good array of savouries as well including fried potato with sausages, thin crust japanese pizza, chicken mentai mayonnaise, potato gratin and other japanese inspired dishes. These prove to be very popular amongst diners as they served as a welcome break from the fast and furious indulgence of desserts.
Cream Puff, Souffle Cheesecake, Caramel Mousse, Coffee Zenzai, Caramel Chiffon Cake
Priced attractively at just S$14.80++ for lunch, $18.80++ for dinner on weekdays and S$15.80++ for lunch, S$19.80++ for dinner on weekends and public holidays, Singapore’s latest dining concept demonstrates what good food at great value is all about. That being said, Let's Sweets isn't for the food snob but rather for budget conscious friends in search for quaint joint for a quick chat and intriguing fare. Watch out for the ticking timer though.
Lunch : 11.30am – 4.30pm
Dinner : 5.30pm – 10.00pm
Coffee, an indispensable drink in my endless list of consumables. Provocative yet affable at the same time, this darling keeps me on a tight leash. Recently, I have heard that if a coffee addict were to abstain from coffee for 6 days at least before having his first cup; the effects - pleasure derived would come ten fold! As much as I would like to execute this plan, resistance has been futile and the lure of coffee remains my greatest enemy.
For this week's edition of Tuesday's with Dorie, the tribe has spoken and the torch for Coffee-Break Muffins has been lit. An ode to coffee, these muffins are moistened by the addition of black coffee instead of the usual milk. With the addition of espresso powder to the batter as well, these tiny babies pack quite a punch; much to my delight of course.
makes 6 muffins
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tblspoon sugar
1/2 tblspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 tblspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 tblspoon light brown sugar
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 large egg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Butter/spray the 6 moulds in a regular size muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugars, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. In a large measuring glass, whisk the coffee, melted butter,egg and vanilla together until combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and with a whisk, stir to blend quickly. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 20mins, or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a pan to rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing from its mould.
At the mention of sesame seeds, my brain (which has fully recovered from my recent unfortunate spate of events with an infection) launches into a tussle between it's Chinese and Arabic relations. Not that I'm shunning the American version with sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on bagels and freshly grilled burger buns leaking the lovely aroma of butter. Yes.. everything is better with a stick of butter; a mantra of Southern cooking kitchen goddess, Paula. Wait... let's focus on the sesame seeds. So, when I think sesame seeds, Chinese stylised, I envision a king's worth spread of assorted dim sum; imagine a platter of crispy sesame balls, a mould of sweet green bean filling underneath it's shattery sesame coated exterior shielding a spongy inner layer. Bliss in every bite. Then, my mind jumps the fence to the Arabic usage of sesame seeds in their cuisine; a thick, luscious curd like tahini; a ground sesame seed paste used in main middle eastern dishes such as my favourite hommus.
In all aspects, the sesame seed played a pivotal part in many of my favourite foods and I lusted after the chance to use it in a western baked item. So without further ado, here's presenting to you the sesame seed pound cake in adoration of the unassuming flowering plant! A moist and slightly under baked version; the cake carried the dominant kick of sesame supplemented by the addition of not only tahini paste but sesame oil and pan-roasted sesame seeds as well! A fusion of chinese and western cooking ingredients, this recipe called for intriguing results with an even bolder dash of flavor.
Sesame Seed Pound Cake
recipe adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp oriental sesame oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup well stirred tahini
1 cup sugar
6 tblspoon sesame seeds, pan roasted
- Preheat the oven to 170 degree celsius. Butter the inside of a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan and dust with flour.
- Combine the eggs, vanilla, and sesame oil in a glass measuring cup and lightly beat. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine the butter, tahini, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 mins, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. With the mixer on medium low, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, scrapping down the bowl once or twice. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. After the last addition, mix on medium speed for 1 min. Stir in sesame seeds.
- Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tblspoon sesame seeds on top. Bake until cake is golden brown and skewer comes out clean, about 1 hr and 20min. tenting the cake with foil after about 1 hr to prevent it from overbrowning. Let the cake cool in pan for about 10mins, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn in right side up to cool completely.
- Store for up to 3 days or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
A love that transcends space and time. I've got my hopes up and running as though on a constant dosage of steroids. Soon... very soon. All I can do now is cast a occasional glance at the moon and bask in it's transferable source of energy. Somehow, you are nearer.
Speaking of the moon, these are my first batch of traditional baked mooncakes. 3 days after the bake session, they were ready for the taste test. The verdict, I reckon the mooncake skin needs a little work, though I can't actually place my finger on the error. The hazelnut honey lotus paste proved to be quite a tease on the taste buds with an intriguing musky sweetness to it. For those interested in trying the recipe, I have posted it below!
Baked Mini Mooncakes
recipe adapted from Do What I Like.
Ingredients: (makes 6 mini mooncakes)
100g plain flour
30g peanut oil
65g golden syrup (Abram Lyles)
1/2 tsp alkaline water
2 tblspoon of Hazelnut Honey
180g lotus paste
1. Mix peanut oil, golden syrup and alkaline water together in a big cup and sit this cup in a bowl of boiling water. Stir till mixture is well combine. Remove and leave aside to cool till warm state but not cold.
2. Sieve plain flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in the warm syrup. Mix till a dough is formed. Cover the mixing bowl with a wet towel and rest the dough for 30 - 45 minutes.
3. Divide dough and filling according to the size of your mould. Shape the dough into a round flat sheet with sides thinner than the centre.
4. Wrap in the filling and mould it into a ball shape. Coat it with flour.
5. Dredge wooden mooncake mould with flour and put the mooncake into the mould. Flatten it with your floured palms and make sure that the mooncake fills up the mould nicely.
6. To dislodge the mooncake, bang the mould on a hard surface with equal force in the north, south, east and west direction.
7. Place mooncakes on a lined pan and spray the mooncakes with some water. Bake at 180C - 190C for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool the cakes for 5 - 10 minutes then apply egg glace and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or till golden brown. As every oven varies, please standby to check on your mooncakes. If you are doing standard size mooncakes, the baking time might be longer.
8. Store cooled mooncakes in an airtight container and serve only after 3 days when the mooncakes have 回油.
'Let's make it a date on Thursday night then?', I question with a arch of my eyebrow.
'But I'm your mum, why do I have to set a date with you?'
At the end of the night, I have to admit that I enjoyed myself thoroughly. One night per week of good food, curious table conversation and plenty of spontaneous laughter; what better way to start a weekend? Shall I push a proposition forward? Dear mum, let's make it a weekly ritual! Yes/No?
After hearing her less than discreet comment about her cravings for Spanish paella; a shrill scream targeted at the wall whilst she twirled her hair in her bedroom. I came to a conclusion, that women needed her Spanish food. Being the food advocate that I am, I jumped at the opportunity to try out the new Spanish joint near our place, Don Quijote. After hearing numerous good comments of the standard of authentic Spanish cuisine served up by the restaurant, I was pumped.
Note to oneself and to others keen at dining in this restaurant, do remember to make a reservation or risk being turned down at the door whilst staring venomously at a empty restaurant tainted with reserved signs on every single table. *bitch* Yes, they are that popular. Fortunately, we were the only patrons to walk in without a reservation and still get a table. Being early does have it's benefits.
We started off the Spanish experience with a complimentary basket of warm bread and a dish of garlic butter. Apart from the bread not being sliced through completely, I was riding on a good impression, instigated by the atmospheric decor and intimate settings.
After much debate and frustration, we decided on a couple of hot tapas dishes to compliment our final order of squid ink seafood paella.
Setas al Ajillo - garlic fried mixed mushrooms
Chorizo Asado - barbequed chorizo sausage
Conchas del Peregrino - scallop shells filled with scallop and crab meat in a bechamel sauce
The garlic fried mushrooms were excellent in my opinion. Well seasoned and the chef's generous hand of masala wine adding a subtle bitter dimension that highlighted the earthiness of the fresh mushrooms.
Chorizo! What's a visit to a Spanish joint without a taste of the traditional Spanish sausauge. Distinctively red in color from the addition of smoked red peppers, these sausages can prove to quite a spicy treat.
The last tapas dish arrived together with our seafood paella. This came across as rather peculiar, the bechamel sauce not presented as I would have expected, baked off till it's usual creamy experience came across as a crisp crust almost akin to a coconut crusted treat. I was not impressed by the overall texture of the scallop/crabmeat cake, dry and almost like a potato croquette, that was injustice done to the lovely scallop.
That being said, our eyes light up at the black goodness of the squid ink paella served in the traditional paellera. Intensely black in all ways, every grain of rice gleaming with moistness, we knew we were in for a treat. And we smiled through black-stained teeth, a kind of smile that said a million good things. It was terrific.. think flavorful rice done al dente, shelled prawns and delicious morsels of squid. Extraordinary flavors for a seemingly simple dish. I would return just for the paella anytime!
And to end off the night on a sweet note, we hopped next door to udders for some ice cream! Rum Rum raisin for the old lady and Snickers Honeycomb Mars Vanilla for me. That being said, I was staring curiously at one of the girls behind the sales counter. With a tiny sample spoon at hand, she was passing occasional digs at the ice cream whilst on the job. *moanz*. Benefits of working in an ice cream shop. Then, a passing cloud of happy kappy moments, littered with sweet indulgence a flushing of cream dreams floods over me. What if... ?
Damm...why can't I push away these amaturish thoughts?
17 Lorong Kilat, #01-09
Tel: (+65) 6465 1811
Fax: (+65) 6465 2114
And here's showcasing my first attempt at Suzhou style mooncakes, featuring a flaky crust developed from a method similar to making puff pastry. Filled with traditional lotus paste. As evidence shows, not exactly successful on all tiers but there's always a first time for everything yes? Better luck next time with the envelope folds!
Meantime, this marks the beginning of a spate of mooncake making trials for the year 2010. Took a year's break and now I'm back with a vengeance! (thoughts flowing back to the wasted packs of black sesame paste and mango paste, a result of my overzealous shopping spree and dwindled interests towards the end) See my previous attempts here, here and here!
the man who lugged it all the way from La Maison Du Chocolat (HK) for me.
since we're on the topic of chocolates, allow me to indulge in a little tell-tale session of my partially 'clear as day' relationship with chocolate, tainted with a little 'hush-hush' nature.
When it comes to chocolates, the spectrum of my eating habits and preferences spread far and wide. You see, I believe that chocolates can cure many ailments, mainly emotional upheavals in my case. See a perpetual frown pasted on my stoned face, swizzle a bar of chocolate in my presence and your chance of catching a wide grin have just magically tripled at least.
My addiction to chocolate can come across as pretty alarming to some, and as much as I would like to proclaim my independence from this waist enhancer culprit; I flail my arms helplessly in the air. I'm a slave to chocolate.
I've tried many kinds, single estate chocolates with unique serial coding, honey comb chocolate, chocolate laced with ginormous nuggets of crystallised ginger. Roasted nuts, cookies and cream, filled with whisky, perfumed with gentle whiffs of tea. And if all else fails, you can count on the ever ready nutella jar and a spoon. You name it, I've tried it.
So when do I eat my chocolates? well, when I'm happy or extremely angry and during every mood category that falls in between. There's no stopping me. There are days where I keep going at it, consuming grotesque amounts of it so much so that there might as well be an intravenous tube with chocolate blood flowing through my veins. At the end of the day, my energy levels take a plunge from it's adrenaline driven drugged up ride to the peak to rock bottom and the melancholic nature of life takes its stab at my ribs again.
Solutions to my mad-crack addiction? There are none...but I've got a few alternatives up my sleeve...(to be continued.)
and for my come-back post or rather.. very late to update post; I'm featuring Aappa Kadai, a lovely restaurant joint in Karama that I've come to know and love. Thanks to my friend Amir who happily showed me the roads, with an added flair of v-i-p treatment thrown in...*sniggers*
So what shall start the meal off with? Why.. without a doubt, give their appams a shot. With the commis chef at his make-shift cooking counter, five pans in line, you're guaranteed a entertaining evening, even if you've got the most boring date seated opposite you (no, that wasn't a hint). Watching him in action, in a sequential fluid movement, pouring the batter, circling the mini wok like pans, then popping the lids on, moving on to the next one and finally returning to the first one with no time to spare and releasing it from it's steaming mould, certainly leaves one wondering how long it takes to master this art.
The Egg Appam (3 DHS each) was amazing. Crisp round the edges and holding a slightly runny egg in the center was an excellent base for dipping into the varied dips and curries offered by at the kitchen.
We also had the Mango Fish Curry, Butter vegetables and Vegetables Khorma.
The star that stole was definitely the Mango Fish Curry. Tangy, Spicy with that little ounce of heat to it, I was hooked on this dish and enjoyed both dipping the softer side of the appam into the luscious full-bodied curry, and chomping down a spoonful of rice drizzled in it's melodic sauce. Fruit curries.. ingenious I must say.
We rounded off the meal with a warm blast of freshly brewed masala tea (3 DHS each), seemingly more traditional than the usual cups of chai tea that one would indulge in at a Indian laborer's cafe here in Dubai. The Masala Tea's unique charm rested in it's strong blend of.. what else but Masala spice alone. Like bidding a warm goodbye, the tea sets off signals of delicious memories, good company and an urge for many more visits to come.
Aappa Kadai Restaurant - Karama
Delivery orders: 04-3848030
Opp. Lulu Centre; Other side of the park