I suppose the phrase has minimal application to the diner's settings as we witnessed that day with the rather fast service of food, but more so for the execution and deliverance of its fare. Some Malay dishes, if not all, are a laborious affair; take it from the rendang.
My cravings for a good nasi padang meal led me to Sabar Menanti II in the Kampong Glam district. It's really happening!!! After settling like a bunch of docile lambs at our table with an array of colorful dishes before us, it wasn't long before we evolved into ravenous bunnies lunging at the food.
Our imperative choice of beef rendang was unreal. smoky with a tender texture. It was braised to perfection. The other stars of the show were the bergedil (one of the best I've had, apparently they use a specific type of potato that lends to it's fluffy texture); the sambal terung was delish as well. The sayur lodeh however was a little weak tasting and could use a little more robustness in the gravy. on the hindsight, the sambal balado (red sambal) served up along with the dishes was absolutely addictive, serving as an excellent accompaniment to the rice.
Doing a bit of side by side comparison with the offerings from Sabar Menanti, it seems as though the choices we were offered that day were a bit lackluster. Could it be our late arrival at the joint or the discrepancies between the two outlets? someone care enlighten me?
747 North Bridge Road
(Jn Jln Kledek)
Basically, the story goes that the boyfriend and I had a challenge to find the best crab-meat linguine in town. his vote went out to Etna's linguine with crab-meat in pink lobster sauce whilst mine went to the under-dog, La Cantina in Venezia's Linguine Al Granchio.
Etna at Duxton was our first destination for the throw down. After all the hype and anticipation built up back from our Australia days (the bf often boasts about his find since way back); I was ready to savor a taste revolution in my mouth. Unfortunately, none of that happened, the dish was without a doubt, good, however, it wasn't outstanding. The cream sauce a little under-seasoned in my perspective, lacking edge. On the other hand, the Margherite al Pistacchio Bronte, ravioli stuffed with walnuts and a blend of four cheeses slathered in Sicilian pesto sauce stole the limelight, stealing our focus from the real reason we visited the restaurant. With a technical play on textures and flavors, the dish scores with a combination of crunch from the toasted pistachios, the creaminess yet herbaceous vibe of the pesto sauce and the smoky richness of the stuffing. I had to hide my guilty face as i mopped up the remains of its sauce with relish.
Back to the challenge; the both of us managed to steal the ride over a weekday night to the quiet town of Changi village. Located in such an obscure location, best accessed by private transportation, I was surprised by the bustle of the area as we rolled in somewhere around 7 in the evening. However, as expected, La Cantina was an oasis of tranquility. We started of with the Parma Ham on Rock Melon ($18.50) and the pizza with olives and salami and finished off with a curtain call for the diva-ish Linguine Al Granchio ($26.90). A fusion of tomato and cream base sauce, it was having the best of both worlds, the punch of acidity from the tomato easing out the lavishness of the cream. With a generous hand of freshly cracked black pepper, and huge stashes of succulent crab meat, it certainly made for a fine meal.
the Parma Ham on Rock Melon served as an excellent starter. peculiarly sweet rock melon served with parma ham in delightfully sizable portions. No bickering over who gets more of the pie here!
And as I've asserted my choice before in the year 2008, I still proclaim with much conviction that La Cantina has the most awesome Crab-meat Linguine. The bf can't help but nod in unison as he tucked in greedily into the dish. Spinning classes for linguine on forks. His last personal compliment to the chef herself about the "pasta being divine" sealed the deal for me.
It was a landslide victory. Next challenge: Soup Bak Chor Mee.
49/50 Duxton Road
La Cantina in Venezia
Changi Village Hotel, 1 Netheravon Road
#08/09-02, Singapore 508502
Tel: 6546 9190
For me, I found the clementi mall to be of enlarged convenience given that it provided a quick gateway to the whereabouts of Phoon Huat (yay to home bakers!!!), it also brought a public library nearer to me!
Newest read and a definite recommendation would be "Heart, Smarts, Guts and Luck" - Anthony K.Tjan, Richard J. Harrington, Tsun-yan Hsieh. A refreshingly human take on getting into the crux of what it takes to build a successful entrepreneurial venture. I'll leave the book review to another time. Meanwhile, lets not forget THE LIBRARY...*swoons*
In the past two weeks, I've taken to dining at Clementi Mall on two occasions, mainly because it was an after thought and its accessibility was a bonus.
First shot was at Ootoya Japanese Restaurant. The heartland version of the atrociously crowded branches in Orchard Central was barely unrecognizable of its affiliation except for the communal area fashioned with floral tatami style seating. A definite plus point since the two of us managed to score the booth seats due to the few patrons present in the restaurant. Without much ado, we ordered the Sumibutadon set with Hijiki Rice ($23.50 + $1.25) and the Oyako Jyu ($13.00). It was a suspiciously long wait, eyeing the tickets very slowly being marked off by the expediter and the calm in the kitchen, our growing impatience evolving into anger fueled by an insatiable hunger. Shuffling my feet for an odd half and hour, I was ready to gorge down on the food. Then.. reality hit me like a ton of bricks as I lifted my first piece of chargrilled chicken to my lips. This was... really good. The Oyako Jyu, basically grilled chicken with egg on rice, epitomized Ootoya's cooking style and values, authentic homecooked japanese meals. And who would deny the fact that homecooked food always had a highway to the heart, a laborious action of love to produce that desired outcome. I was sold, licking up my unbecoming animosity along with the the remains in my bento box. My boyfriend's Sumibutadon set was an absolute steal too, Charcoal grilled Kagoshima Pork with rice. Absolutely love the genuine char grilled flavor on the meats.
Next up was Soup Restaurant, an old favorite of mine. The company's desire to offer up delectable cuisines with distinctively traditional recipes has brought them to the neighborhood of Clementi Town. With not so much as batting an eyelid, I locked in my orders for the Samsui Ginger Chicken ($15.90), Ah Kong Fan Shu Leaves(s)($8.50) and an irresistible plate of braised peanuts ($2.00). Yes i know of many restaurants that would scam diners with the mandatory peanuts already placed on the table. At the very least, Soup Restaurant has the courtesy to ask first! The only difference, these are worth ordering! The signature dish of samsui ginger chicken was a playground of flavors, fresh lettuce, a delightfully large saucer of ginger with succulent white chicken. You wouldn't stop till the last drop of that intoxicating sauce has been swaddled with a wad of hot white rice. The Ah Kong Fan Shu Leaves have always been a perennial favorite of mine, it's tenderness allowing for a intimate binding with the sambal chili sauce. Top notch dishes indeed.
Clementi Mall does have some pretty great finds stashed in its sleeves. So do give it a chance should you be considering some mid-range, 'go out in your slippers and shorts' alternatives to dining.
Labels: brunch, cafe, desserts, hidden finds, pie, prawn mee · Posted by SiHaN at 11/19/2012 01:19:00 am
Breakfast came in the form of Prawn noodles. Originating from the pioneer stall at Beach Road, this brunch clearly has acquired a steady fan base with the entire coffeeshop filled with patrons tucking into their steaming hot bowls of mee. Located next to the stall is a Ngor Hiang stall apparently operated by a relative. Despite the heat, I braved the impending doom of an inherently unglamorous look after the meal, armed with a pack of tissue paper and a cup of lime juice. Pardon me but acclimatization I reckon is still a bitch.
I went for the $5.50 option. Portion wise, it was thoroughly disappointing with two mediocre sized prawns slit into halves parting the brown seas of rich broth and yellow noodles. For that price, I would have expected much more. As a result, raised my expectation for the broth. That turned out to be alright, not as va-va-voom as I would have liked. I shrugged it off with the alluring sight of coffee land beckoning from a distant.
From there, we trudged down the street to the new kids on the block. Penny University. A term that was derived out of poetical sense, from a coffee house where even the poorest of university students could pay a mere dollar for a coffee to linger in a place with immense prospects for enlightenment since these places were known to house many people from different levels of society. If you ask me, the concept of the name itself embodies the spirit of the business, a casual place where social interaction was the main focus and key factor in pulling in the crowds. Brilliant.
At Penny University, Oriole's Raven Blend and Nylon's el Primero seasonal espresso blend are deployed for action. Being a big fan of Oriole, I had no qualms about the final product. The espresso with 5oz milk was absolutely perfect. Sinister and deceivingly warm to taste with an edge at the end. A possible citric note. The pie we ordered on a whim to keep the lonely cup of joe accompany was surprisingly dazzling on its own. From windowsill pies , the morello cherry pie was exactly like it should be. With every forkful, the crisp puff pastry crust, tanned from it's arduous hours in the oven, crushed under the pressure of the crimson red sour cherry filling. The large sugar crystals littered on the crowns adding to the tenacity of it's structural integrity. If the crust were only a little bit more fresh, I would have pulled out a 10 on this one.
Penny University calls a long shot by opening on the far side of singapore. A smart move considering that its the first of its kind, appealing to the true coffee addicts to be stationed in the far east. But a little deranged given it's positioning within a part of singapore teeming full of famous food stalls and local food. I sincerely hope it does well given that it feeds my buzzing addiction on my repeated visits.
Note to oneself, that same stretch of east coast road seems to be laden with many "undiscovered" eateries, still undeniably foreign to a cross country traveller like me. Al Forno, Two fat man and many more... another trip awaits..
370 East Coast Road
Closed on Tuesdays
402 East Coast Road
Tue - Fri, 0830 - 2130
Sat - Sun, 0830 - 2230
Closed on Mondays
as Gerald Butler's character narrates in the latest movie 'Chasing Mavericks', "fear and panic are two separate emotions. Fear is healthy, panic is dangerous." and thus evoking torrent of thought bubbles through my head. Okay, maybe I should release the catch to the panic button.
Recollections of this past years ridiculous acts come crashing down on me. A collation of memories so vivid yet so distant from the current reality of my now imprisoned world. and ohh.. the upcoming holidays.. Christmas and Chinese New Year.. daunting celebrations for any pastry chef when the prospects of over-bearing orders weighs down heavily. I reckon my new year will be non-existent.
As for new year resolutions... it's time to brainstorm a few. Not that I think I need any adjustments from the previous years except for a relocation. One thing's for sure, its time to pick up the pace. Adventure racing, holidays to Bali with the girlies, business proposals in the pipelines and maybe more self-exploratory backpacking trips. Let's not get ahead of myself though, as far as we know the month of November will disappear in a flurry of meetups and December in a sweet ripple of cream and sugar. It's safe to say that today will be a quiet and simple friday night. So let's take this day to tally the feeding session that led up to my arrival in town.
flight delays... ahh..a turf i'm rather familiar with. Sorry dar for dragging you into the murky waters with my shadow of bad luck. An incessant pursuer. Thank goodness with some strings pulled, we managed to get ourselves into the Qantas first class lounge. A real upgrade given that we were homebound on a budget airline.
preflight gluttony, I wasn't sure of what I was getting myself into. But within minutes of stepping into the lounge, met with a cold gush of fragrance laden air, I was intimidated. These people that we see lounging around with their expensive hand carriages and state of the art hand held technologies, are willing to spend thousands of dollars just for a plane ticket. In some instances, not only for themselves but for their 6 year old daughter still innocently cradling a bunny stuff toy. And here we're only talking about taking a plane, a mode of transport we deem so trivial; that we use it as the biggest avenue for budget cuts when it comes to making travel plans. Golly... Thank goodness for the lovely hostess from Singapore, a personal friend of our chef acquaintance who made us feel so at home.
Presenting us with a menu each and the authority to order anything we please. It was like setting a bunch of monkeys loose in the streets. We went at it like ravenous rabbits. Add Neil Perry to the equation and we knew we were in good hands.
Not to mention, the enchanting views of Sydney City across the tarmac naturally enhanced our appetites. Gorgeousness when paired with the radiance of the setting sun.
For starters we had the Sashimi of Bluefin Tuna with organic soy dressing. This was absolutely delicious. The complexity of the dressing covering up for any inadequacies in terms of freshness of the fish.
Then we went on to devour another pretty dish. The Shaw river buffalo Mozzarella with spring greens and lemon oil. With such delicate flavors on the plate, the creaminess of the handmade mozzarella really stood out. The crispness of the zucchini flowers reinforcing it's richness.
My favorite dish of the night had to be the salt and pepper squid with green chili sauce. Fried to perfection, the batter stuck to the firm yet juicy flesh of the squid. Paired with the spicy Thai inspired chili sauce and a dollop of aioli for the nudge of sour tang, it was just a symphony of bright notes on the palate. An excellent dish.
Mains were the Tasmanian Salmon, caper, lemon and anchovy butter with pancetta crisps and leeks for me. Paired with a glass of Heemskerk Riesling 2001 from Tasmania. And the Lamb Cutlets with rosemary and Parmesan crumb for the boy. These were mediocre albeit for the sides that were thoroughly engaging. The leeks were cooked beautifully and I wished I had a whole plate of that to chow down on. Whereas the classic slaw that came with his dish had top notch seasoning in the works.
As we sat by the couches, the lights being dimmed to a pale amplitude, we waited for our delayed plane to begin boarding in silent contemplation. I pondered. I reckon this will be the first and last time I ever step into a first class lounge. Not because I don't think I'll ever be able to afford it. Besides, what are the odds being a pastry chef and all? And even so in some parallel universe I do earn a fortune, I would never bear the investment of throwing it all on a first class ticket whilst I can instead spend more on a luxury hotel stay or even an out of this world adventurous experience. Priorities my dear...
Still, it was a surreal experience not to be forgotten.
Note: Some of the photos in this post are courtesy of Fabian Brimfield of Fly me Funky. Thank you very much for the wonderful shots.
Labels: australia, cakes, desserts, family, Le Cordon Bleu, love, sydney, travelling · Posted by SiHaN at 11/01/2012 03:24:00 am
Something happened today that rattled a nostalgic bone of mine.
Most of you would not know this, but I regret not writing a post/diary entry or any form of written recount of the stories that occurred back during my 8 month stint in the army. Yes I know it might have been years ago, but still, the experience, the hardships, the friendships fostered, these were beautiful and worth remembering in every right. So with the passing of my very first overseas study experience, I shall enumerate it's unfolding. Burn the candle on both ends till its done, lest my procrastination habits kick in.
I'm bringing in the coffee on this one. it's going to be a long night.
So it started off with a very innocent request to the parents to study patisserie in Le Cordon Bleu whilst in my third year of university. Back then, it was a struggle, we're not even talking about keeping the grades up but my hopes were sinking like a dead weight to the bottom of the sea. Working thru the dark period and the other middle eastern drama that ensued afterwards, I finally earned my keeps to an entirely new experience.
Flashing back to the first moment i stepped out of Sydney airport, the cold winter air slapping me across the face. I never felt so alive before, the past few years of self inflicted pain, like a load, shoved off my shoulders. I took my a breath of liberty. My first.
Living in Australia strangely made me a very independent individual. I fed myself when I was hungry (not too difficult when you have all the leftover bakes from school), clothed myself warmly for the winter, got around to places (public transport is pretty convenient in sydney too) and found myself jobs just to earn my keeps. let's see, I started off being a waitress at a small cafe in Balmain, that stint lasted for about 7 months, Loved the wraps and the lebanese themed specials. Then I juggled the job of pastry cook at a dessert bar specialising in dessert pizzas in the form of cinnamon scroll like delights stuffed with a myriad of ingredients including brownie, streusel, bananas, chocolate sauce and apple pie mixture. Following an unanticipated closing down of the business, I moved on to become a dishwasher at a nearby cafe/restaurant near my area of residence. Needless to say, I smelt of food everyday, the stench of sweat coupled with splatters of grease on my black shirt following me into the soft sheets of my bed. From there, I was promoted to kitchen hand where I started to deal with food preparation, slicing, dicing, marination and gradually moved up to the pass where I got to take charge of the sauces and garnish stations for breakfast. That deserves an honorable mention, I feel, as I listen to the sweet rambling of my classmates going on and on about their tiresome part time work at patisseries; I on the other hand was busting it out in a proper cuisine kitchen. My fingers burnt and swollen from handling the hot cast iron pans on the grill. Battle scars as we call them... The day the chef called in a new dishwasher to handle my old job, I smiled whilst passing on words of advice as he scurried around like a headless chicken; the boiling hot pans and oily dishes piled up to dizzy heights. I had gone somewhere...
School on the other hand seemed the opposite spectrum of what the real world is like. Slow paced and extremely laidback.. i mostly took the time to absorb whatever I could while fooling around with whatever I could lay my hands on. making taiwanese meat pies out of quiches and curry chicken to go along with the fresh baguettes from our ovens; I was known to most of my chefs as 'the girl who would always does something different'; not sure whether that's a good thing or bad thing, i mostly like to believe its the former.
The terms flew by like the wind.. basic, intermediate and then superior. With the final judgement of our original gateau, it was off to the working world. Out of God's blessing, I landed myself a job in Cheeky Chocolate at North Strathfield. Lucky since I was competing with many of my graduating classmates for the job. But the serious work only ensued after my participation in the Hunter Valley Callebaut Chocolate Entremet competition. After weeks of hard work, tormenting sessions of brainstorming, trials and tears of befuddlement; the D-day had finally arrived. All the anticipation and nervousness just disappeared on the day of the event, plating up completed like a breeze. Perhaps it was the venue, the proximity of hunter valley from our work benches in Sydney that made any form of regrets or hopes for last minute adjustments almost impossible that somehow put my mind at ease. The prospect of an imminent ending bestowed in my heart. At the end of the day, I emerged a silver medalist. A huge feat considering I was a total noob in the scene and it was an open competition with many of my peers having been in the pastry scene for much longer than I have.
A million thanks goes out to my mentor and head chef Andre Sandison for his constant guidance and gentle prodding in the process of research and development. Thank you for not letting go of your expectations towards me.
Life in Cheeky Chocolate was another out of this world experience. Whilst I happily sunk myself into a comfortable pace of learning at work, a sudden turn of events left us handicapped in numbers. Yumi, I and Adele struggled to keep the place afloat. we hit rock bottom when a new head chef entered our midst and stirred up chaos in the kitchen, abolishing certain production rituals whilst creating non-sensical others. With a demonic temper to boot and a not so domineering idea of a menu in tow, it wasn't long before he was given the boot. Despite his short term of stay, the damages had been done.... we had lost another in the midst of the friction caused between the boss and our dearest apprentice. There I was left to pick up the broken pieces of the shop. It was a miracle I found a team in time to help me speed up the recuperation process. Till date, I hold this as a proudest achievement. Not that I got any recognition out of it (maybe an article in the strathfield good food guide), but still, silently I recognize my capabilities when put to the pressure test.
With all that done. you would wonder why in the world would I return to singapore given that my basic pay in Australia was at least double the amount I would receive here. That's where I left out a part of the story. The part that tugs at my heart string and releases butterflies into the cavities of my vacant heart. G. Had it not been for him, I wouldn't have had a blast in school. G rubbed my swollen ankles before bedtime, listening to my tales of braving the cockroach infested backalley while dragging the trashbags to the main bins. G kept me warm thru those cold nights. G nurtured me back to health after a bout of flu which put me through a series of vomiting spells on the way home from work, G accompanied me to the beach at sunrise just because I wanted to. I only joined the hunter valley competition because G was taking part in the chocolate showpiece event. G laughed at my lame jokes and silly antics and made me feel much less of a dork than I am. G and I went to beautiful places to enjoy spell binding moments together. G helped me pull through my experience at Cheeky, giving advice and listening to my complaints all in symphony.
And to sum it all up, G is my reason.