Thursday, January 31, 2013

Singapore's Best Ice-Cream Sandwiches

What could be the best thing ever to arrive at your doorstep on Chinese New Year?

Lovingly made artisan ice-cream sandwiches.  This is, of course, given that someone was actually there to answer the door in time--otherwise, an angpao stuffed with hundred dollar bills might be the next best thing.



Pineapple tarts are a big thing in Singapore over the Chinese New Year holidays.  Pineapple tarts are sinfully delicious, but after the fifth box of them to arrive, most people start to tire of them.  Do it a little differently this year with The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.'s limited edition pineapple tart ice-cream cookie.

I thought The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. couldn't top my first love, Sugar+Spice (Christmas cookie special), but they've done it again with the buttery, crumbly golden cookie filled with pineapple ice-cream and generous chunks of candied pineapple.  There's no scrimping on the ice-cream either -- be prepared to tackle these darlings with two hands (unless you have big hands).  The first time I stopped by their pop-up stand, I KID YOU NOT, I ate two sandwiches in one go.  I would have ordered a third in the same half hour if I wasn't already borrowing cash from my friend already for the second one.

Huge sandwiches.  Can't.stop.eating.

Their current rolodex of flavors include Milk & Cookies (Tahitian vanilla bean ice-cream, Belgian chocolate chip cookie), After Eight (peppermint icecream, dark chocolate brownie cookie), Strawberry Shortcake (fresh strawberry ice-cream, shortbread cookie), Apple Pie (chunky apple ice-cream, crumble cookie), and their newest creation, Choco Noisette (chocolate-hazelnut ice-cream, dark cocoa cookie).


"Do you like Nutella?" one of the co-founders asked me.
Um, duh.
"Do you know how hard it is to make chocolate hazelnut into ice-cream?" He asked again.
Can't say I've thought very hard about the process before.  It was always a mindless process as I stuck my finger...giant spoon...knife into the jar.

Everything is made from scratch and with whole products.  That includes the fresh strawberries in the Strawberry Shortcake cookie, and more challengingly, whole hazelnuts are roasted then ground into a paste for the chocolate-hazelnut ice-cream cookie!  There's no team of twenty making these artisanal ice-cream sandwiches for you.  It's just the two of them for the most part (okay, someone else handles the deliveries), of whom even consider the cookie to ice-cream density, to ensure the cookies are biteable without ice-cream oozing out the sides.  If you ever meet the two founders, you might think they are the angels of ice-cream cookies, with their beautiful good looks and very satisfying cold-creations.

I'm a fan of Ice Cream & Cookie Co.  A huge fan. To top it off for the health conscious, all of their ice-cream cookies are "preservative-free, all natural, and free of harmful stabilizers and emulsifiers."

You can sample The Ice Cream Cookie Co's goods at Pistola, Cajun Kings, Caveau Wines & Bar by Les Amis, Violet Oon's Kitchen, or various pop-ups around town.  You can also order online for packs of 8, 16, or 24 sandwiches.  

I'm an idiot and didn't realize the cut off date for the Pineapple Tart sandwich CNY delivery was 27 January.  I truly apologize for that.  I have huge regrets, not just for your sake, but for mine!  I was planning to max out on that order.  Seriously scrumptious.  The cookies will be available for delivery from Feb 11-25, but place your orders soon.

The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. Facebook Page, follow for updates on new flavors or order at orders@icecreamcookieco.com




Blow+Bar = Glam hair + wine


Need some ideas for a girls' night out this Valentine's Day?  Or maybe you need a short pampering session away from the family-overdosage over the Chinese New Year holiday.

Singapore has its first salon dedicated to hair blowouts. The concept is already popular in cities such as Los Angeles, New York and London. Startout a girls’ night out with a hairwash, blowout and a few glasses of vino. Blow+Bar is ideal for a happy hour weekday sesh, pre-weekend outings, or events like bridal showers or really, anything you need some glamming up for.  I was invited for a complimentary blowout last month--how could I say no?

Founders Diana Goh and Ashley Soh found a cozy spot along Rodyk Street for their salon setup. Save for the mirrors and the sinks in the back, at first glance, the salon looks more like a minimalistic modern looking bar for coffee or wine. Diana and Ashley want their visitors here not just for the dolling-up, but for the fun socializing experience too (this is where the wine and cocktails come in).

Both Diana and Ashley come from a beauty background, having worked with two of some of the best beauty brands out there: SK-II and L’Oreal. Especially after Ashley’s years of experience at L’Oreal, she brings her knowledge and appreciation of good hair maintenance to the salon. All hair treatments use the best of Kerastase and L’Oreal products for every mane that is under Blow+Bar’s care. Basic blowouts (includes a wash and most excellent massage), ranges from $35-48. Other services include hair repair treatments, manicures or full scalp rituals are also available as add ons. Blow+Bar also offers trims, perms, and hair coloring.

And don’t worry about the lack of socializing if you are flying solo for your appointment at Blow+Bar. The stylists are ever so friendly and are up for lending advice from your hair troubles to your dating woes.

Blow+Bar
Robertson Quay, 7 Rodyk Street
#01-32 Watermark
Tel: +65 6238-7338
https://www.facebook.com/Blowplusbar

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Recipe: Revenge Cake for Steve Aoki


Steve-Aoki-cakes-Gastronommy-Victoria-Cheng-Avalon-Singapore-1st-Anniversary-Marina-Bay-Sands-Club

You may remember my experience of having a cake thrown at my face by Steve Aoki during Avalon's 1st Anniversary event (click to see the photos and story behind that).  He's returned to Singapore for another round at Avalon and so my chance for revenge came up.

Steve-Aoki-with-Gastronommy-Victoria-Cheng-Avalon-Singapore-Marina-Bay-Sands-Club

I asked him one question before the deed was done: Have you ever been caked BACK before?
His reply:  Never.  Only by personal friends.

Then...

Steve-Aoki-caked-back-by-Victoria-Cheng-Gastronommy-Marina-Bay-Sands-Avalon-Singapore
THE TASTE OF REVENGE CAKE
with a Singapore twist.  Unfortunately pandan cake doesn't stick as well.
...but it does taste more delicious.

The best I could do trying to find a cake for the last minute idea.

Steve-Aoki-caked-by-Gastronommy-Victoria-Cheng

As you might expect, coming from a guy who gets part of his daily workout from lifting people into crowd surfing rafts, he was a good sport about getting a revenge cake to the face.

Earlier in the evening, Steve Adelman of Avalon surprised me with an appropriate shirt.

i-got-caked-by-steve-aoki-shirt-owner-steve-adelman-avalon-singapore-marina-bay-sands-club
Now to create a one-time I GOT CAKED BY GASTRONOMMY shirt...

cake-face-victoria-cheng-steve-aoki-dj-LA-usa-singapore-avalon-celebrity-marina-bay-sands-club-music-gastronommy
Cool fact: Food is another one of Aoki's many passions.  He owns 4 restaurants in the United States -- and it ain't Benihana's.  Can you figure out which ones are his?

(you can see more photos from last year's event on Steve Aoki's website)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Best Crabs in Singapore


BEST SINGAPORE CRABS

This is a highly debatable topic, whether among locals or visitors.  Based on my countless experiences to the following restaurants and others, here are my favorites of the moment.  My absolute favorite crabs are listed at the bottom of this post, under Other BEST Crabs.  Plus, here are two tips.
Crab Tip 1: For those who are squeamish or lazy about peeling your own crabs, a number of the chain restaurants have service staff who will put on gloves and de-shell it for you.
Crab Tip 2:  But it always tastes better when you do it yourself.
(Read here for Best of Brunch in Singapore, or What to Eat for the First Time Visitor in Singapore)

Best for Chilli Crab
(or Chili crab, spelled with one 'L' for my fellow American readers)


Tung Lok's Chilli Crab

Jumbo Seafood read more here
Eat: Their secret ingredient is peanut sauce, making the gravy richer and creamier.  They have multiple locations, but I recommend their East Coast outlet.
Address: Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08, East Coast Seafood Centre Singapore 449883

Tung Lok Seafood
Eat:  The chef uses the unusual combination of orange juice and tomato sauce for a subtle and refreshing touch to Singapore's famed chilli crab.  The crab quality in general is top notch, fresh and succulent.  I've only been to their Orchard Central location, so that's the one I'll be listing (the other is in Jurong).
Address: Orchard Central #11-05, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6834-4888


Best for Black Pepper Crab

Black Pepper Crab

Long Beach Seafood
Eat: My friends at Appetite magazine and I concluded that the black pepper crab here is more complex and refined than the other major seafood restaurants.
Address: 25 Dempsey Road Tel: +65 6323-2222
or 1018 East Coast Parkway Tel: +65 6445-8833
http://www.longbeachseafood.com.sg

Mellben Seafood read more here
Eat: Likewise, I've found that the black pepper crab here is more complex tasting than competitor restaurants' that generally taste of just plain black pepper and butter.  Mellben also never failed to serve us fresh and ultra-meaty crabs in the dozen times I've been.
Address:  Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, #01-1222 Tel: +65 6285-6762
or 211 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Tel: +65 6353-3120

Best for White Pepper Crab


Long Beach's White Pepper Crab


Tung Lok Seafood
Eat: Their Sri Lankan crabs in this dish has that sharp white pepper spice that hits your nose in a way that you can appreciate.  Consistently well cooked with excellent service to match.
Address: Orchard Central #11-05, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6834-4888
http://www.tunglokseafood.com/

Long Beach Seafood
Eat: They use Alaskan King Crab for their white pepper dish.  The price is outrageously high (we're talking hundreds of dollars per crab), but it won't fail to impress in visuals or on the taste buds.
Address: 25 Dempsey Road Tel: +65 6323-2222
or 1018 East Coast Parkway Tel: +65 6445-8833
http://www.longbeachseafood.com.sg


Other BEST Crabs 
(MUST TRY!  I prefer these over chilli crab and pepper crab these days.)

Mellben's Claypot Crab Beehoon



Mellben Seafood read more here
Eat: The claypot crab beehoon is unbeatable.  I always dream about the spiced, milky broth; a wealth of umami on the palate with what must be crab roe boiled into the stock.
Address:  Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, #01-1222 Tel: +65 6285-6762
or 211 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh Tel: +65 6353-3120

3 Hao Crab Delicacy (or No. 3 Crab Delicacy)
Eat: I've been bringing friends for their Curry Crab the entirety of 2012 and am still not tired of it.  I'm surprised how little it's mentioned these days, because the curry crab is something special with its savoury laksa curry.  This is a crab listing, but you also have to try the Teochew style cabbage chicken.
Address: 265 Outram Road, Singapore 169059
Tel: +65 6327-2148
http://www.3crab.com

No Signboard Seafood (Geylang) read more here
Eat: Salted egg crab at their Geylang outlet is intense on the salted egg, in a good way.  No Signboard used to be one of my favorites for chilli crab, since their gravy is more reminiscent of curry rather than overly tangy with tomato sauce.  Unfortunately, the last 4-5 visits to their Esplanade and now shuttered East Coast outlet consistently served me disappointingly meatless crabs.  If I go these days, it's for their wonderful deep fried baby squid, cereal prawns, and salted egg crab.
Address: 414 Geylang Road, Singapore 389392
Tel: +65 6842-3415
http://www.nosignboardseafood.com

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant read more here
Eat: The "Kopi" Crab is the newest Singapore crab innovation in town.  The saccharine glaze is made of three varieties of coffee beans and apple marmalade, then flambéed tableside with coffee liquor. 
Address: Flower Dome, Gardens By the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-10, Singapore 018953
Tel: +65 6604-6604, reservations@majesticbay.sg
http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/dining/majestic-bay.html
---

If you don't see certain places listed it means one or more of the following:
1.  I didn't think it deserved to be there.
2.  It slipped my mind!  Remind me, please.
3.  I didn't have the time/stomach space/cash to check it out yet.

If you think a place deserves to be considered, please message me, twitter me or leave a comment below.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kopi Crabs at Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant (Singapore)

My fingers still linger with a scent reminiscent of buttered popcorn and burnt caramel.  I just finished dinner at the two month old Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant.  Just hours ago, I was sucking the crab legs dry, savouring the saccharine glaze of Chef Yong Bin Ngen's "Kopi" Crab 冠华咖啡焗肉蟹.  Why haven't chefs come up with this sooner?



The sweet, sticky glaze is made of three types of coffee beans, apple marmalade and plum sauce.  It is cooked with Sri Lankan mud crabs no larger than 1.4 kg (the ideal size, says chef), then flambéed tableside with coffee liquor.  The concept of cooking with coffee isn't entirely new in Singapore -- there's barbecue coffee pork ribs found at most cze chars, allegedly made popular by Chef Sam Leong.

Admittedly, the kopi sauce doesn't match the natural crab flavour with the same symphony as pork and coffee does, but there is still an addictive harmony that leaves you reaching for more.  The best parts are the exposed meat ends, charred with a crunchy layer of caramel-sweetness. I'm always happy to see good new mud crab recipes come out in Singapore--god knows I'm tired of bringing visitors for chilli crab every month.


I'm putting the kopi crab alongside my other Singapore crab favorites, curry crab, claypot crab beehoon, and salted egg crab.  While you're here at Majestic Bay, be sure to try the mee sua with braised baby abalone 小小鲍鱼面线 ($24 for 2-4 pax, $36 for 5-8 pax).  The broth is rich and creamy and the baby abalone is oh-so-soft.


The restaurant is located in Singapore's new Gardens By the Bay.  Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant specializes in live seafood, Chinese cuisine with a focus on Cantonese dishes.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant
Flower Dome, Gardens By the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-10
Singapore 018953
Tel: +65 6604-6604, reservations@majesticbay.sg

photos provided by Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant

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