Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Getting in shape as a food writer

Fitness and Losing Weight in Singapore

Let's cut to the chase.  I'm not exactly the smallest girl in Asia, but I've always used the excuse as a food writer to justify my jiggly puff.

I'm not opposed to exercise.  I love sports and highly encourage people to stay active.  Diets are a completely different story.  The very idea of restricting myself from any major food group is only suited for times I'm feeling experimental and a touch masochistic.  To illustrate my stubbornness with a story: a few years ago, I developed an allergic reaction to something unknown.  At the allergist, I agreed to any allergy tests, except food tests.  "I'd rather not know unless it's going to kill me," I told her. Ignorance is bliss, folks. (PS. The allergist I saw in NYC, Dr. Deborah Weichenberg agreed--she also finds "food allergies" an overreaction by the American public, except in extreme cases)

Fitness trainer and entrepreneur, Alvin of Lifestyle Fitness has challenged me.  I asked him, how fit do you think a food critic can be fit after a month or two of training?
His response, "Give me two weeks."
Right.  Seriously, Alvin, let's be realistic.
"Give me two weeks," he continued, "and I guarantee you'll be 40% less of the size you are now."

40% smaller?  Fitter?  TWO WEEKS?

How is that possible without certain death?  How is that possible with the multiple food tastings or events that happen every week?  How about my aversion to diets?  I'm not so sure if this is a bigger challenge for me, or for him.  Even my dog has more will-power than me.

Alvin of Lifestyle Fitness

Lifestyle Fitness Singapore is located at Sheraton Towers

Alvin Tan is one of the leading trainers in vibration training in Asia, specializing in specific weight loss programs and injury rehabilitation.  The professionally certified fitness coach, therapist and nutritionist comes from 17 years of experience in the fitness industry.  He uses science and medical research to craft his training programs, unlike many typical meathead type training.  Some of his clients include the directors of Singapore's biggest restaurant groups, people who are constantly surrounded by food.  ...and they're looking pretty fit.

Here goes nothing.

Look out for Part II in this Challenge

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How High Quality Chocolate is Actually Produced

Part I of the Bali Experience: Organic Cocoa Farms and a Chocolate Factory
Special thanks to Conrad Bali for hosting.

photos by Gastronommy

Just after a beautiful Balinese sunrise, we're transported away from the sandy coast of Nusa Dua to Carang Sari, where hilly, lush tropical forest is spread and wild animals roam.  We're here to visit a chocolate factory, my hosts from Conrad tell us.  I'm not particularly thrilled given the early hour after a night of wedding guest festivities (another post on that later) and my general indifference towards chocolate.

Upon arrival, the other journalists and I tumble out of the vehicle, still drowsy after the one hour journey.  We snap out of lethargy soon after when a team of elephants casually stroll past us.  The chocolate factory owner, Toby Garritt, explains his wife oversees a guided elephant trek around the surrounding area.  In fact, these elephant tours are what led to the founding of POD Chocolate Factory.

Along his elephant trek three years ago, he discovered cocoa trees grew naturally in the area, but weren't being harvested for socioeconomic reasons.  Toby developed a system to make the harvesting process more efficient and sought to teach farmers how to produce high-quality coca beans.  The farms now yield double the produce and the local farmers earn much more per batch, and Toby now has beans to create Bali-original chocolates.

It all begins with a seed.

The origins of chocolate first begin with a plant... a flower to be exact.  The blossoms on a cocoa tree are small and fragile.  A singular raindrop could break it from the plant, forever being robbed of its chances to become so much more. *cue tiny violin*

This cocoa flower has made it to stage two.

The cocoa flowers that manage to make it to stage two begin its growth into a pod.  Using clever natural methods to deter pests, many of the pods make it to full ripeness.  Not unlike opening a coconut, the local farmer breaks the pod open with a machete to display its innards--layers of seeds bedded in muculent coating.  The texture reminds me of soursop fruit.  The seeds are edible, Toby says, so what is a food writer to do other than taste it?

Around the farm, bottles filled with natural substances lures and traps male pests, so they can't reproduce.

No two cocoa pods are the same.

Edible, but the flavors lack any resemblance to chocolate as we know it.

Inside the cocoa seed.

It turns out, the raw seed bears zero flavors that resemble chocolate.  I actually find the seeds quite palatable, with a likeness to mangosteen notes.  I would have been content to end my trek here with the colorful pods and sweet cocoa seeds, but alas the journey continues!

The raw seeds are then fermented naturally in the shade of wooden crates, covered by banana leaves.  I was apprehensive when Toby asked us to take a whiff into the box.  Fermented anything isn't known to be too kind on the senses, but with similar scents to plum wine, it seems cocoa seeds are an exception.

After the fermentation process, the seeds are laid out to dry under the equatorial sun.  Though edible, Toby doesn't recommend tasting them during this stage.  Once dry, the seeds are now beans and are transported to the POD Chocolate Factory, where most might say the real fun begins.

How High Quality Chocolate is Actually Produced.

The beans are then roasted, a process much like coffee bean roasting.  This is the stage where the cocoa flavors everyone knows and loves finally emerges.  At this point, we're encouraged to crack the beans open and try the chocolate nibs (yep, don't mind if I do).

When coffee beans are grounded, they become dry grinds.  Cocoa beans, however, have much higher fat content.  When ground up, the cocoa nibs become paste.  The paste is then put through a finer grinder, followed by the melanger.

The melanger
At this point, a good chocolatier wants an experienced pastry chef to step in.  The chocolate is poured over a marble surface, then tempered.  The movement, speed, and temperature is crucial in this process, as the crystal structure is being molded into a chocolate's most ideal state.

Toby demonstrates chocolate tempering
Conrad's Pastry Chef Semawan demonstrates part of the tempering process.

Tempering chocolate is crucial to producing high quality chocolate.  You might find that mass market chocolate crumbles rather than snaps, and when left out for long periods, the chocolate will 'bloom'--unpleasant white patches that form over its surface.

After this point, chocolate can be poured into molds for simply chocolate, or chefs like Conrad's Pastry Chef Semawan can craft cocoa-magic for dessert (more on these desserts later).

By the time we reached lunch hour, I had tasted each of POD Chocolate's various chocolate bars (white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, darker chocolate, peppermint chocolate, orange chocolate) and still wanted more.  I ended up purchasing a couple more bars to take home and share the chocolate love with friends in Singapore.  So much for being indifferent to chocolate.

Follow POD Chocolate Factory & Cafe on Facebook or visit for more information.  Chocolate tours, elephant treks, spa retreats, and white water rafting is available.  Oh, and did I mention that they house two honey bears and various species of local wildlife for rehabilitation?  You can see these animals in their open air enclosures while you have a bite to eat at POD's cafe.

POD Chocolate Factory & Cafe
Jalan Tukad Ayung, Carang Sari
Bali, Indonesia 80353
Tel: +62 361 8370888

Honey Bear is camera shy.
Part I How High Quality Chocolate is Actually Produced (current page)
Part II Conrad Bali: Weddings and Eight Degrees South 
Part III Conrad Bali: Things To Do

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Singapore Heritage Menu at York Hotel

Treasured Flavours of Singapore at White Rose Café, York Hotel.
photos provided by Sixth Sense Communications

"I'm stuffed," I texted my Singaporean friend, "I just came from a media buffet serving Singapore classics."
He responded, "Oh, York Hotel?"

I was surprised how he guessed so easily.  But it turns out York Hotel has been well-known amongst Singaporeans for decades, particularly for their Penang Hawkers' Fare, a showcasing of 10 select hawkers visiting from Penang for an all-you-can-eat experience.

White Rose Cafe in York Hotel is now kicking off a new menu, highlighting 20 of Singapore's heritage dishes.  Led by Chef Charlie Tham, formerly of Soon Heng Restaurant, the menu's key items include Curry Fish Head, Crab Masala, Sambal King Prawn, Black Ink Sotong (squid), Chap Chye (vegetable stew), and Chicken Masala.  The dishes do require one day advance order however, to ensure freshness of the seafood ingredients required.

White Rose Café 
York Hotel, 21 Mount Elizabeth 
Singapore 228516 
Tel: +65 6830-1156

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The World's Best Hawkers and Food Trucks in Singapore [Guest Post]

Article and photos by KF Seetoh, Founder of Makansutra and
World Street Food Congress Teaser

KF Seetoh (me) with partners Anthony Bourdain, James Oseland, Jean Georges Vongerichten at the New York press conference, along with Chef Anthony Ricco and Bryant Ng.
This June, a group of distinguished top minds of the culinary industry will gather in Singapore for a discourse on what we can do with the world’s most popular and endearing food culture..comfort street food. Among others, food and travel TV superstar Anthony Bourdain will regale his advocacy and views of this culture that has fed him with so many ideas and inspirations on life and food. Three Michelin star chef Jean George Vongerichten will also be at hand to show you what he did with his street food experience when he was working in SE Asia many years ago.

The intent is to start a conversation on the three factors that need be addressed for a fragile but well loved street food culture - to preserve, professioanlise and identify new possibilities in the industry. The World Street Food Congress with this Dialogue conference component will happen from 31th May to 9th June.

Mee Pok Ta (fishball noodles), the dish I miss most when travelling abroad
We will also be inviting up to 40 of some of the world’s best street food masters from across 10 countries including food trucks from USA, kaki lima stands from Indonesia, hawkers from India, Malaysia and Thailand. This is for the food festival aspect- The World Street Food Jamboree. Seemingly simple task (safe for the jet lag zipping from one country to another selecting them) you might say. But just what are the criteria, besides simply to choose “top hawkers”. We have to bear in mind these few, among others, factors.

Authenticity of Food - the dish has to be unique to their country or it must be created with flavours and concept special to that land

Consistency in operation - they have to be able to deliver that same quality no matter where they are and be able to tweak methodology with “lesser” ingredients (eg. they can use chicken sourced from most places). Their knowledge of food handling, hygiene and safety is introduced in their daily routine.

Knowledge of their food heritage - they have an idea of how their food came about and what it means to their nation’s food culture at large. They understand variations. Even if they created something new, it is still withing that same spirit of the dish/cuisine.

Ability to scale - they are able to scale up to bigger operations when required and are very versatile in approach.

Willingness to share and expand - they should be confident of their recipe and know the value in sharing operation methods to aid expansion and facilitate partnership plans.

Quality – is expected.

In the colonial days, it was the British who asked an Indian hawker to recreate the ubiquitous curry puff, leading to a Singapore-variation we eat today.

So, with all these concerns borne in mind when choosing the 40 or so top hawkers worldwide--just who do we have in mind to represent team Singapore? Or more importantly, as quality is very subjective: What are the range of dishes being selected for the World Street Food Jamboree (the food festival component of the World Street Food Congress)? We bear in mind the unique as well as the mass appeal popular range.

Chicken Rice - compulsory, as it has become so big a part of our food culture and everyone is an expert on this dish
Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles - a truly unique born and bred Singapore dish created by the Hokkiens a few decades ago.
The British Indian Curry Puff - the flat and bigger triangular flaky crusty curry puffs made with curried potatoes and mutton or chicken that is truly a local invention , created by chance. It was once a “sarabat” stall favourite with teh tarek.
Mee Pok Tah - or fish ball noodle. While it is common in China, this version comes with sambal, that reeks of our SE Asian heritage and sometimes splashed with black vinegar. It is not even easily found in our northern neigbours.
Hainanese and Nonya Pork Satay with pineapple sauce -While satay has Indonesian roots, this version is truly unique. It was the Hainanese who captured this Nonya recipe and jazzed it up with a dollop of pineapple sauce with the peanut dip. Even the marinate for the skewers are different from the Indonesian version.

We’ll be finalising our shortlist of top street food vendors around the world for the World Street Food Jamboree soon. Keep up to date at  Read more about my travels around the world in search of these food vendors.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Abacus Beads [Recipe]

Amy Van and Chris Tan have been so kind as to allow Gastronommy to publish some of the recipes from their book, Chinese Heritage Cooking, for you to try out at home. The fourth recipe to be presented will be the classic Abacus Beads. (For previous recipes, see Steamed Radish Cake, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Chinese Steamed Whole Fish.) 

Abacus Beads
Serves 6–8

Also known as suan pan zi in Chinese, these dimpled doppelgängers for the clacking beads in a Chinese abacus are an emblematic Hakka specialty. Originally prepared at Chinese New Year for both family meals and offerings, but now enjoyed all year round, these abacus beads have a unique fudgy-soft-chewy texture from the combination of mashed taro and tapioca starch. When buying taro, make sure it is very fresh and firm as old or poor-quality taro may make the beads mealy or fragile in texture. Mature taro that is already quite starchy will need less added starch—perhaps half the mashed taro's weight in tapioca starch, instead of two-thirds.

Pizza App For your Pizza Cravings

Good news for pizza addicts, like myself.  This recently launched app, Pizza Compass finds nearby pizzerias, lending ratings, reviews and travel distance.  To download the 99c app, visit iTunes for the Pizza Compass.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Searching the best street food, by KF Seetoh [Guest Post]

Article and Photo by KF Seetoh, Founder of Makansutra
The World Street Food Congress will held in Singapore from May 31st till June 9th this year at the F1 Pit Building and Paddock. It will feature a Dialogue and a Feasting Jamboree with 40 of the top street food masters from 10 cities worldwide.  KF Seetoh jots down his journey in finding and bringing the best of the world's street food to Singapore.

A kaki lima Kue Bandros hawker on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia

So what do you do when you have to come up with the best 40 street food masters and experts worldwide for our World Street Food Congress (WSFC) Jamboree food festival. I start off cocksure and full of myself. But as I traversed the slippery alleys and narrow aisles around the globe, meeting equally passionate street food advocates... my bluff is called. I am not so sure I know so much anymore. The world of street food is a very big place. The more I learn, the more there is to discover and realise.

I shuffle about the alleys of Kota in Jakarta, Indonesia and come across Kue Bandros.  It's a baked coconut milk and rice batter cake made fresh before your eyes. The hawker does this over a cast iron mould sitting atop a charcoal grill mounted on the back of his tricycle food cart--a “kaki lima” as they call it. Then my fiercely dedicated peers and minders there cut me off before I could complete that first bite of the soft roasty, coconutty and moist cake, "If you are thinking about bringing this to the WSFC, then you have to meet and eat Kue Pancong. A bit more wonderfully complex and has a flick of salt to counter the sugar and richness.”

Suddenly I felt like an amateur blogger writing about cupcakes for the first time. I am very honoured to be able to work with fellow street food advocates and gurus there like Pak William Wongo and Bondan Winarno for our event in June.

In Vietnam, one would think about the famous bahn mi sandwiches (anything clamped between roti would automatically be classified as street food in many places worldwide) and pho (beef noodles). But if my pal Mr. Vo Quoc, the defacto food ambassador of Vietnam had not taken me to the mini claypan ban xeo pancake stall, I would not have seen just how dedicated and ardent these humble hawkers are. Also, I was totally clueless when they suggested Tom Tep – chilli and salted baked prawns with grilled mung bean and sticky rice cakes. I was floored by the description alone.

And over in Portland Oregon, if not for their street food cart champion and industry buddy Brett Bermeister, I would not have had the Oprah makan moment when he introduced me that first bite of that hamburger topped, get this, with tempura soft shell crab with spicy mayonnaise from the Eurotrash food truck. One bite in and I blurted, “Would you guys be keen to come for the World Street Food Jamboree in Singapore?” Yes, they said. Yes, was also what Trey Corken said when asked after he served me his New Orleans and very Americana style Smothered Chicken, stewed chucks of chicken dunked in spicy mash. Oooh, so comforting, they call it soul food.

The name Sabina and her daughter Mariana was tossed into our top hawker list hat for consideration. How could we not invite this champ of fresh seafood tostadas hawker from Baja in Mexico. No one there flinched when our researcher Bill Esperza suggested them. Fearless maverick street food sultan Anthony Bourdain even got a mod Mexican mariachi band to sing praises about this mother daughter team in this No Reservation TV show. Both Bourdain and that tostados family team will be at the WSFC.

Each and every street food advocate and hawker mentioned above is just one energetic jigsaw piece that will form one of the most popular and beloved picture on this planet- the wonderful world of comfort street food and it’s culture. We intend to fit this massive world street food jigsaw puzzle at the World Street Food Congress. We see jobs, skills, industry and business opportunities if we just preserve, professionalise and create new possibilities for it. Then, I will be able to say “selecting the best from the world is a piece of pandan cake” (so as long I have my fellow food soldiers alongside me!).

For more information, visit

Monday, May 13, 2013

$2 Wagyu Sliders, Happy Hour at CUT by Wolfgang Puck

I'm a huge fan of CUT's cocktails and wagyu sliders.

I've mentioned them on numerous occasions, such as on ImpulseFlyer's video interview here.  This Wednesday 15 May, if you order one of their handcrafted cocktails, you get a row of those sliders for $2.  TWO DOLLARS.

$2 wagyu sliders by Puck. That's cheaper than your Chicken Rice, buddy.

CUT by Wolfgang Puck
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 
Tel: +65 6688-8517

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hongyi Plays With Her Food (Art/Video)

"I like to paint, but not with a paintbrush," describes Red Hong Yi.  She's a Shanghai-based Malaysian artist-architect whose playful pieces have caught my attention.  She seems to be most well known for her portraits, carefully choosing her medium to reflect the character in her pieces.  For example, she uses sunflower seeds in her Ai Wei Wei portrait, she used a basketball to bring a painting of Yao Ming to life, and here in the video below, you'll see she used coffee cup stains to put together a portrait of singer Jay Chou.

What inspired me?
The project was inspired by the opening line in Jay Chou's song, 'Secret/不能说的秘密'. It is inspired by the opening sentence, about lifting up a coffee cup off the saucer, "冷咖啡离开了杯垫" and the ending of the song about autumn leaves and fragmented pieces, "飘落后才发现 这幸福的碎片, 要我怎么捡?". This is shown through the portrait as a whole - how it's formed by many individual rings, many of them broken and imperfect like fallen autumn leaves, forming Jay Chou's portrait. The story of the song is about a girl who travelled forward 20 years in time and met Jay in 1999, and they fell in love. She then went back to 1979 and sketched out the portrait of him. My painting is meant to look like a sepia-toned old photograph to capture the essence of this story.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Do Vegetables Have Souls?

One of the many questions I had for Mister Kenny during my days at Appetite magazine.

Photographing Food May Be Sign of Mental Illness

Sick in the head, I tell you.
(Photo by Oriental Daily: Ladyironchef, Gastronommy, ChanChunWai)

"Photographing Food May Be Sign of Mental Illness" reports  Hilarious implications, since you and I both know at least a handful of friends who suffer from this illness.
"Dr. Valerie Taylor gave a presentation called "Food Fetish: Society's Complicated Relationship with Food" at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Vancouver last week in which she argued that "For some people who have the predisposition for weight behaviours" food photography and social media activity can anticipate "unhealthy weight disorders." 
She says: "We take pictures of things that are important to us, and for some people, the food itself becomes central and the rest -– the venue, the company, et cetera -- is background." (The idea here is not so different from comedian Adam Sacks' mock iPhone ad which suggests people who take pictures of food care about the restaurant more than the people they are there with.) Taylor also finds similar issues with people getting food tattoos."
Read more from this article here.
And on a related note, if you haven't heard about it already, there are entire comical blogs dedicated to food photography, such as Asians Taking Pictures of Food.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Classics at Jigger and Pony

Jigger & Pony Review
by Norman Hartono for, photos by Jigger & Pony

Old Fashioned at Jigger & Pony
When it comes to enjoying a classic book, movie or song, one often has to adjust to colloquialisms, styles and tastes that are out of context with the modern world. The classic cocktail, on the other hand, is a timeless paradigm that everyone can easily enjoy without an introduction. As most thoughts go, “Hey, if it gets you sloshed, what’s not to enjoy?”

First of all, nobody says sloshed anymore. If you did, you might’ve been around for the invention of the “Old Fashioned”. Ha. But jokes aside, getting drunk from a classic cocktail is merely a consequence following a profound appreciation of history. In Singapore, few measure up to the classics served at Jigger & Pony.

Tucked away in a humble shophouse along Amoy Street, Jigger & Pony stays true to the classics by naming itself after the time honored double-cone drink measurement; an apparatus also featured in its logo. Be sure to be wowed by the immaculate skills of head barman, Anthony Zhong. After spending many years of painstaking training in bars throughout Japan, Anthony is as polished as they come–even if he modestly admits to not attaining perfection yet.

Even though the bar specializes in classic cocktails, it also features 3 categories to its drinklist:
Modern Twists, for those who want a modern touch to the classic cocktail; Classics, for the purists; and lastly, Forgotten Classics, for the curious history buff who wants to rediscover rare classics thought to be lost in time. If nothing on the menu suits your taste –you picky bugger– Anthony can always make something up that does.

Although the term “classics” in any context might connote the stigma of pretentiousness or exclusivity, Jigger & Pony is anything but that. Inspired by the friendly hospitality of neighborhood bars in Spain, the owners of Jigger & Pony want their guests to experience the same exceptional service they had during their travels there — tourist or local, dressed in a two-piece suit or singlet and shorts — everyone is welcome.

If you’re looking to come in for after work for drinks, Jigger & Pony boasts an exceptional Aperitivo 6pm to 8pm, including Saturdays. At $14++, the Aperitivo session features a cocktail selection such as the Gin Fizz, Rebujito, and Fernet & Coke – making for a cozy evening spot with prices that are easier on the pocket. Not to mention, there is complimentary finger food and tapas served throughout the three hours to satisfy any alcoholic-induced munchies.

Jigger & Pony
101 Amoy Street
Singapore 069921
Tel: +65 6223-9101

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Where to Eat on Orchard Road (Singapore)

Top 6 Dining on Orchard Road
by Zi Yim and Victoria Cheng for

As the forum Singaporensis, Orchard Road is more glitzy mass of retail shops than food mecca. Good food, so goes the prevailing opinion, can be found at better prices elsewhere. Nevertheless, after making a rather rude gesture in the face of conventional wisdom, we put our rebellious brown brogues to the Orchard sidewalks to bring you our pick of top five food places worth paying a visit to.

If you’re tired of hawker center chicken rice, fret no longer!

An open secret frequented by schooling teens, corporate types, and anyone in between, Hainanese Delicacy is the place on Orchard Road to visit if you’re craving the ubiquitous chicken rice. The no-fuss interior is patrolled by vigilant uncle-types who are quick to ask for your order. There is no thinking in this place — if you’re not here for the über delicious chicken rice, you’re obviously lost. Get a bowl of salted vegetable soup with your choice of either roasted or white chicken and you’re done. The service is swift since there is usually a crowd waiting to get in. Be prepared to share a table with strangers during peak hours. Hainanese Delicacy, Far East Plaza, #05-116, 14 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228213. Tel: +65 6734-0639

A dish of fried chicken to be mixed with savory sambal chili.

Nestled into a quiet corner of Lucky Plaza, Ayam Penyet Ria has a twin establishment on level one that is full during eating hours with a queue just to get in. Time is better saved by visiting the quiet sibling on level four. The signature dish, ayam penyet, is tender fried chicken served up with rice on the side, a cube of mashed soybeans, and a spoonful of sambal belacan (be warned, the sambal packs a spicy punch). A liberal scattering of fried battered bits complete the dish. Don’t forget to include a hearty bowl of bovine soup, sop rawon. Decent service and an inexpensive price tag come as accompaniment.  Ayam Penyet Ria, Lucky Plaza, #04-25/26, Singapore 238863. Tel: +65 6235-7385

Check out &Made if not only for the chic dining experience.

Hankering after something more upscale? Then &Made is your place. The louche cousin of Michelin-starred Bruno Ménard’s La Cantine, &Made fuses francophone chic with American diner cool. Imagine the Fonz dressed in a Charvet shirt topped off with a neckerchief from Hermès. Begin with a quirky blended salad drink and work your way through les burgers incroyables (we recommend the Three Little Pigs) or the Toastoos. The burgers come with a side of fries and &Made BBQ sauce flavoured with a little je ne sais quoi. Were we not in polite company, we would have drunk the sauce. Leave space for dessert! The berry sundae, along with the white chocolate sundae are customer favourites. &MADE, Pacific Plaza, #01-04/06, 9 Scotts Road, Singapore 228210. Tel: +65 6732-9808

A couple (thousand) steps up from instant ramen.

From the Land of the Rising Sun comes Ippudo Ramen. Avoid the Saturday lunch and the weekday dinner crowd if you can, unless jostling with teenagers and tai tais is your cup of tea. Ippudo’s modern interior styling is juxtaposed with its selection of traditional ramen. Shiromaru ramen has springy noodles lying hand in hand with succulent chashu in a delectable bath of pork broth; be sure to ask for an extra egg and an extra serving of noodles. If you want something with a little fire on the tongue, get the spicy tonkatsu for the extra dash of spicy miso paste.  Ippudo Ramen, Mandarin Galleria, 333A Orchard Road, Singapore 238897. Tel: +65 6235 2797

At Sushi Kanazawa, the process of making sushi is considered an art.

Sushi Kanazawa, discretely located under the sign of the fugu fish in a somewhat unassuming building, is where you should be if crowds aren’t your thing. There is simply no room in this tiny establishment for hoi polloi so calling ahead is the best way to secure a place. The counter seating provides you the best view in the house, watching chef-san perform his craft as he brings vinegared rice and fish together in zen-like harmony. Starve yourself sufficiently the day before and you’ll be ready to indulge in the daily lunch buffet. A selection of over forty kinds of sushi comes with a complimentary portion of sashimi. Try everything!  Sushi Kanazawa, International Building, #02-13, 360 Orchard Road, Singapore 238869. Tel: +65 6738-3833

For your quick fix of piping hot pho and Banh mi.

Finding reasonably tasty Vietnamese food at reasonable prices in the Orchard area was a mystery until Nam Nam Noodle Bar opened its second outlet in the basement of Wheelock Place.  At $5.60 the banh mi, a Vietnamese street snack is a crusty baguette filled with goodies like caramelized five-spice pork belly, pork pate, pickled carrots, radish, cucumber, green chili, coriander leaves and mayonnaise.  There's also a three-course set lunch at $9.90 offering a choice of chicken or beef pho, a drink, and rice paper rolls.  On the pho side, try the wagyu pho or flower crab noodle soup if you're feeling indulgent.   Nam Nam Noodle Bar, Wheelock Place #B2-02, Singapore.

As with all restaurant listings, we expect a flurry of letters expressing great consternation that such- and-such a place should have made the list. Alas, if only there was room (here and in our stomachs) for more. Write away, folks!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Eating Hong Kong (Food Diary)

Just got back from a two week stop in Hong Kong to see family and work on a few personal projects.  Good eats were involved, as always.  Some places were my usual all-time favorites, and some were new joints that I think you should try out too.  Here were the pit stops:

Mak Siu Kee 麥兆記
32 King Kwong St, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2989 1638

legit Hong Kong wonton mein

Fu Sing Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant 富聲魚翅海鮮酒家
1/F & 3/F, Sunshine Plaza, 353 Lockhart Rd, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2893 0881

A favorite place to go for char siu fanatics

baked char siu bao, ethereal.  I ate 3 of these in one sitting.

9/F Circle Plaza, 499 Hennessy Road, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2591 1281
Thank you Brian for introducing this late night spot.

Okono-miyaki and Teppan-yaki and more post 1am on a weekday at Kozy.

  Why go to Tsui Wah when you have these kinds of options?

Excellent value for these generously sized buggers.

The best part.  "It's like eating chips," says Brian.  I think these are even better.

Like opening a Christmas gift.

Fook Lam Moon 福臨門
35-45 Johnston Rd Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2866 0663

Suckling Pig at my family's usual Sunday stop. 

Grandparents, dad, and the kids.  Piles of dim sum.  Also try the egg custard bun here.

Brother and I shamelessly pushing our guts out after lunch.

Motorino Hong Kong
14 Shelley Street, Soho, Central, Central Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2801 6881
One of New York City's most famous pizzerias has arrived in Asia.

Motorino NYC is most famed for its Brussels Sprout pizza, though it took a bit more to convince my Hong Kong friends to even try this.

Soppressata Piccante, a pizza that Motorino HK always encourages patrons to try.  Tomato sauce based with spicy soppressata (Italian pressed sausage made of dubious, but surprisingly tasty pig parts), chilies, garlic, pecorino, oregano and fior di latte (mozzarella). 

The month's special, meatball pizza.  I would have preferred having a meatball appetizer instead of a pizza version (the crust got soggy much too quickly), but it'll do Donkey.  It'll do.

I don't have photos, but also try the Octopus & Potato salad.

Stanley Main Street

Sunday Afternoon strolling around Stanley.

Hong Kong's classics

These push carts are getting harder and harder to find on Hong Kong Island these days.  If you spot one, buy some and cherish every bite.  I found this at Wellington Street, Central Hong Kong corner by GNC.

I can't remember the name of this local spot, but it's been around for ages.  You'll find it along Caine Road, a few doors down from the Mid-Levels Escalators.

Milk tea and pork sandwiches anyone?  Lan Fong Yuen 蘭芳園, 2 Gage Street, Central

French-fry me.

Fleur de Sel, 51 Graham Street, Central Tel: +852 2645 9828
This May, Chef Gregory Alexandre presents a special Burgundy-inspired twist to the Brittany classic, the galette.  Must-try: Oeuf Meurette (poached egg, mushrooms, bacon, croustons with Burgundy Red Wine sauce), Bourguignonne (Fricassee snails, mushrooms, bacon, spinach in white wine sauce), Epoisse (my favorite French cheese, also ultra stinky... the way I like it), La Speculos (using Belgium's creamy Speculos spread over a crepe.  Comfort-dessert-maximus).  Wash it all down with a couple glasses of Brittany's Kerisac ciders.

The Lounge at Four Seasons Hotel, 8 Finance Street, Central Hong Kong
To satiate my sweet tooth, I also popped by my favorite hotel to visit Pastry Chef Gregoire Michaud.  We first met last year as two of the panel speakers at Social Media Week Hong Kong (photo).

Domani Ristorante
One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2111 1197

Saturday brunch with my lovely cousins.  We all enjoyed the antipasti selection.

Celebrating my niece's first birthday with friends I haven't seen in ages.

Weekend brunch is not complete without free flow wine or champagne.


A souvenir gift from Mexico, from dear Tim Ho!

There's never enough time nor stomach space to eat it all.  So many new places to try, but I can't help but make my comfort food spots priority.  It's been too long since I've spent proper time in Hong Kong.  I'll be back soon.


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