Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sexy Chubby Bunnies: A Christmas Vlog

Sexy Chubby Bunnies: A Christmas Vlog.
Introducing some of my siblings... The four of us took on the ol' #chubbybunny challenge, but it went a bit awry. This might be one of those videos that no one else finds funny except for us. Featuring Laibond, Laijhun, and Laiyin. Sad to be missing Laiyoung from the video.
Happy Holidays! xoxo

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Love Fiesta at Tong Le Private Dining

Tunglok Ambassador, A List

While taking an elevator to the top of Singapore’s OUE Tower to an elegant revolving restaurant, it did get some of us pause to wonder if the cuisine was going to be predictable and expensive. Fancy revolving restaurants have a history of being over-priced tourist traps, but the wonderful thing about Tóng Lè Private Dining, besides the fact that its modestly hidden amongst the towering buildings of the CBD area (read: surprising lack of noisy tourists despite the great view), is that the food is delectable. 

The menu is inspired by ancient Chinese recipes and the dishes have been recreated with beautiful presentational twists to suit the modern diner. It doesn’t feel forced, in the way some menus can be with too many typical luxury ingredients (e.g. let’s add caviar to everything!) and foamy, truffle oily things to swank it up. There’s a harmony to every dish, where ingredients come together in a sensible way. The restaurant's multiple set menus change every two weeks, keeping things fresh for regulars. Rather surprisingly despite the premium produce used in the dishes, the 6-course lunch menu starts at $80 and 7-course dinner begins at $120... that is until now on weekends, there is also a promotional menu offer at $60 and $80 respectively (see details below).

Tóng Lè Private Dining is split into two levels. The top level is where the prized revolving view is, but one level down are three opulent private dining rooms with access to a private outdoor balcony, fully decorated with additional plush couches and ornate décor—and get this—fully equipped KTV suite facilities.


A few months ago, I wrote an article for TOAST Magazine about Singapore's fine dining Chinese cuisine at Tong Le Private Dining. It's revolutionary. Pun intended. (Read the full article on TOAST.) 

This end of the year, Tong Le Private Dining has launched a LOVE FIESTA, offering their lunch and dinner menus at an incredible price every weekend. 

Indulge in a 6-course lunch priced at $60++ per person or 7-course dinner priced at $80++ per person while enjoying the perfect view with your loved ones every weekend.
Located at the heritage, revolving OUE Tower, Tóng Lè Private Dining is TungLok Group's most exquisite restaurant to-date. Set against the historical landmark of Collyer Quay, Tóng Lè presents a world-class fine dining concept over two levels of the Tower.  
Please view the menu here:
Tóng Lè Private Dining is located at the iconic OUE Tower at Collyer Quay. For reservations, please call (+65)6634-3233
在这里,我们提倡跟鼓励所有平时忙于工作,商务的朋友们,在周六多花点时间陪陪自己的父母,兄弟姐妹,亲人,朋友, 一切你爱和你爱的人!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Masterclass with Susur Lee [Ticket Giveaway]

Win a pair of exclusive tickets worth $100 to Celebrity Chef Susur Lee's Masterclass!

The multi-award winning, world-renowned Chef Susur Lee, is best known for his original style of Asian-inspired cuisine – expertly combining the best Asian flavours using Western techniques. Today, Susur is one of the most sought-after chefs in the world. He currently helms 4 restaurants, “Lee”, “Bent” and “Luckee” in Toronto, and “TungLok Heen” at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. He is also regularly featured on hit television shows, such as the current Chopped Canada, Food Network’s Iron Chef America, East Meets West, as well as Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, where his dish received the highest judging marks in the show’s history.

This Friday, he's hosting a one time Masterclass here in Singapore. We're giving away 3 pairs of tickets!

Here's how to win:
Comment below: What's your favorite Asian-inspired dish?
You can answer on this on comment section, Instagram @victoriacheng, or

Susur Lee, the team at TungLok, and I will each pick 1 comment and announce the winners on Thursday 8pm! 

Date: Friday 21 November 2014
Venue: TungLok Heen, Resorts World at Sentosa
Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm (Registration starts 4pm)
Celebrity Chef Susur Lee will be conducting a one-session MASTERCLASS on 21 November 2014 at $50nett, where he will share with participants his recipe for 'Steamed Turbot with Sumac Pesto, Szechuan Bean Crumb, Botargo, Purée of Wakame & Spinach, and Crab Dumpling' as well as cooking tips that can be practiced at home. Inclusive of tasting portion, photography & autograph session with Chef Susur Lee.

Seats are also available for purchase.  The information is as follows:

Presenting to you the Ocean's Best featuring french black truffle:
From 17 to 21 November 2014, Chef Lee will be presenting his ‘OCEAN’S BEST, featuring French Black Truffle’ menu at TungLok Heen at Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa. “I recently did a similar promotion at my restaurant Lee in Toronto and it was a huge success. The menu was inspired by the beautiful seasonal Canadian seafood. I know that diners in Singapore love seafood, so I thought it would be great for me to bring the menu to Singapore and share it with them,” says Chef Lee.
Available for Lunch & Dinner (17 to 21 December 2014)
6 course menu: S$198++
4 course menu: S$168++
(view menu here)

Special wine dinner (6 course menu with premium french wines):
For the wine enthusiast, also on 21 November, there will be a SPECIAL WINE DINNER in partnership with Vinum Fine Wines, pairing Chef Lee’s menu with four varieties of carefully selected premium wines from France.
Date: 21 Nov 2014
Time: 7PM
Price: S$278++

Chef Lee will also be conducting a one-session MASTERCLASS on 21 November  2014, where he will share with participants his recipe for Steamed Turbot with Sumac Pesto, Szechuan Bean Crumb,Botargo, Purée of Wakame & Spinach, and Crab Dumpling; as well as cooking tips that can be practiced at home.
Date: 21 Nov 2014
Time: 430PM to 6PM
Price: S$50nett (includes tasting portions and photography session with Chef Susur Lee)

TungLokFirst & MVG members will enjoy 10% off.
For reservations, please call TungLok Heen at (65) 6884-7888
Resorts World Sentosa
Hotel Michael, Lobby Level
26 Sentosa Gateway
Singapore 098138

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Restaurant Culture: Tips vs No Tips

In Singapore, many feel the "lack of service standards" and general difficulty in finding waitstaff to hire or uninspired hospitality culture could be partially solved if a tipping system became the norm.

However, according to this article, there is a trend in San Francisco restaurants who are opting to end tipping and instead charge a flat 20% service fee as many other countries do (Read: These 5 Bay Area Restaurants Are Ending Tipping).

What do you all think about the tipping vs no tipping culture?

Other Gastronommy service-related posts:
No Respect, No Love, No Thanks for Service
Sometimes, bad customers beget bad service

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to Peel and Eat Hairy Crab (Mitten Crab)

It's the season for the East Chinese delicacy, hairy crab!  Here's a tutorial on how to open the intricate crab properly, with TungLok restaurants.

Gastronommy visits TungLok's restaurants to learn how to peel hairy crab in the best, most efficient way possible.  The following TungLok restaurants are serving hairy crab and specialty hairy crab dishes until the end of November 2014.


TungLok Signatures:
VivoCity, #01-57 Tel: 6376 9555
The Central, #02-88 Tel: 6336 6022
Chinese Swimming Club, Level 3 Tel: 6345 0111
Orchard Parade Hotel, #02-18 Tel: 6834 0660
Changi City Point, #01-26/27 Tel: 6636 0606

TungLok Seafood:
The Arena Country Club
Upper Jurong Road (opposite SAFTI) Tel: 6262 6996
Orchard Central, #11-05 Tel: 6834 4888

TungLok Heen:
Resorts World Sentosa, Hotel Michael Tel: 6884 7888

TungLok XiHé Peking Duck:
The Grandstand
200 Turf Club Road, #01-23/24 Tel: 6466 3363
Orchard Central, #07-07/08/09 Tel: 6736 0006

Tóng Lè Private Dining:
OUE Tower, Level 8 & 10 Tel: 6634 3233

Shin Yeh Restaurant:
Liang Court Shopping Centre, #02-19 Tel: 6338 7337
Shin Yeh Bistro
Square 2, #01-73 Tel: 6893 1123

Special thanks to Carolyn Tan, Lili, Steve Aw, and Steve Chew.

INSTAGRAM: @victoriacheng

INSTAGRAM: @tunglokgroup

Thursday, October 9, 2014

L'Oignon Gravitas: A review of Corner House (Singapore)

(written for Esquire magazine, October 2014 MaHB Food column)

It began with an onion.
No garnish. No frills. It was a singular onion served whole in its own raw skin, with an incision around the top circumference to indicate there is something to be revealed within its cavity. There were dishes served prior to this, and they were executed with no technical flaws, but the chef had yet to surprise us. “A meal should be a slow build-up…to a crescendo,” illustrates the chef. So here with this onion, we had our first real teaser of his creativity and ability. This is the moment of truth.

The waiter hints at what's nestled within the onion’s belly--egg, cheese, and truffle shavings--and it sounds  pretty ordinary. I popped off the top of the onion to see a fluffy layer of Gruyère and a generous sprinkling of fresh truffles. My spoon found a burst of hot yolk further in, followed by a mouthful that proved the dish to be much more than just an onion. The cheese is airy and light, collapsing into the creamy yolk, flooding my senses with cosy flavours. The truffles do not distract, but add an extra dimension to the experience. The onion itself suddenly becomes very attractive too, once the eater realizes its smooth sweetness that warms the mouth, rather than arriving to bites of pungency. I find myself pulling apart the vessel to eat it as well.

Meanwhile, the young and meticulous waitstaff have set down three more dishes. This course is degustation of onions: a dehydrated sliver of onion, a coin sized onion confit and Parmesan spread over crisp phyllo pastry, and finally, a foamy white onion broth drizzled with onion tea. The broth especially is silky and sweet, punctured by earthy undertones. I don’t think I’ve consumed so many onions over one sitting in my life before. I don’t think I’ve written so much about onions before this, either.

The menu reads something not quite like a menu, and more like Letterman’s Top 10 List: “Interpretation of My Favourite Vegetables: Oignon doux des Cevennes”, “Cocoa Pebbles: Alpaco, Mandarin, Shimeiji”, and so on. Such vague listings seem to be the trend these days. For the first time visitor, it is difficult to know what to expect, but the chef proves to be adept at surprises. The restaurant describes its cuisine as “gastro-botanical”, using natural seasonal ingredients often inspired by the Botanic Gardens surroundings.

Most of the documentation on the Malayan Peninsula’s floral life was discovered and written right in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens during World War II. As you might recall from your primary school history teachings, Eldred John Henry Corner (E.J.H. Corner), an English botanist and mycologist (he was a fun-gi!) resided in the Botanic Gardens with his pet monkeys, documenting what we know today about tropical fungi, trees, fruits, and even ginger and pandan. The Botanic Gardens is currently a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status.

The 1910 black-and-white bungalow where The Corner House is located, was formerly the Les Amis restaurant, Au Jardin, until early this year. The Corner House is no less romantic than its former, though white tablecloths have been tossed away in favour of more contemporary furniture designs. Co-owners Singaporean chef Jason Tan and wine merchant Renny Heng have worked together with E.J.H Corner’s only son to preserve the botanist’s work and memories—his intricate artwork of Singapore’s faun and flora hang on the walls of the two storey bungalow, as well as black & white photos from times past when E.J.H was still alive. There’s much to be appreciated in the history of the structure, marvellously paired with Chef Jason Tan’s fresh and beautiful interpretation of his “gastro-botanical” cuisine.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's your end game?

After a year of freelancing (writing, producing, presenting, consulting, creating), lately I've been innocently asked this a lot by peers who are fascinated by my boundaryless job scope.

"What's your end game?"

Three, five, ten, and even fifteen years ago, I could answer this question confidently. These days, I find myself stumbling over the answer. Over the course of the past year, I've broadened my job scope in many different directions as and when I please; but as time goes by, I realize I want to start zeroing in my focus again towards something meaningful. Don't get me wrong - objectively speaking, work has been steadily progressing, but deep down, there's still something lacking. The last thing I want is to find myself well into my 30's in a place I don't want to be.

Then I found that the question shouldn't be, "What's the end game?" It should be, "What's your legacy?"

I've been told by someone older and maybe wiser, that no one really knows the answer to that question, even if they seem like they do. Even so, most of us want direction. On those days or months where you find yourself questioning your path, here are two points below I like to remind myself to get me back on track or to at least recalibrate my direction (adapted from "7 Strange Questions That Help Find Your Life Purpose" by Mark Manson).
What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it. Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
And again, if you fantasize about your obituary saying a bunch of badass shit that impresses a bunch of random other people, you’re failing here. Discovering one’s “purpose” in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. And to find them you must get off your couch and act. 
Read more here: "7 Strange Questions That Help Find Your Life Purpose" by Mark Manson

Edit: This is worth noting as well. After reading this, a friend has just reminded me, "We will never live to see our legacy. Legacy is for others down the road to decide. What's now is purely a life which should be built on what will get you excited to do. Enjoy the journey and not the end. Simply because at the end, a new tiring journey begins." -K.S.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Which food bloggers do you not trust?

Came across this: Which food blogger do you not trust?  It's a Singapore forum where a particular thread is basically calling out one particular blogger (you can probably guess who).

The point of a blog is to share your thoughts or passions. If you want to become a blogger, go for it... just do it for the right reasons, because people will smell the stink of freeloaders, fame whores, and insincerity overtime."Blogger" has become something of a dirty word these days, because of these people who go about doing it in a rude or unethical way. It's a shame, because there are also plenty of wonderful bloggers out there who get thrown in the same bag, because of these greedy or vain folks.

And to clarify to those who are not sure: I am NOT a blogger, and I don't really earn anything from website. Maybe one day I will properly monetize the site, but meanwhile, that isn't the case. You can read more about that on the 'About' section of

Monday, September 29, 2014

[Press] Wine&Dine Interview

For the files... August issue of Wine&Dine Magazine on Asian Food Channel (AFC) & Food Network Asia's Food Hero search.  I didn't get the Food Hero spot, but you can support me at the new Gastronommy YouTube Channel. GASTRONOMMY is now an official YouTube partner.

While we're at it, here's a piece by Lifestyle Asia.
Full article here:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Little White Book: Nasi Lemak recipe [video]

Together with Electrolux's Chef-in-Residence Eric Low, we did a live recording demonstration at TANGS on Orchard on how to prepare Nasi Lemak.  The recipe is Chef Eric's very own.  It's supremely easy to make at home, not to mention delicious. Visit The Little White Book's facebook page here for more information and the recipe.

Finest Festival 2014 [video]

Presented by FairPrice for Finest Festival:
On 27 August, Finest on Wheels food truck together with celebrity chef Melvyn Lee and the famous food writer Victoria Cheng were at Mapletree Business City, Open Plaza.  Serving complimentary Smoked Salmon Panini, using FairPrice Finest premium ingredients. 
Visit Finest on Wheels again on Thurs, September 11 at 100AM (Tanjong Pagar) from 11am-2pm.

At Mapletree Business City, Chef Melvyn whipped together a Smoke Salmon Panini with rucola salad, topped with homemade dill mascarpone caper dressing. He used Norwegian salmon, and a wheat ciabatta bread.

In celebration of Finest Festival 2014 and Fairprice's anniversary, the Finest on Wheels truck were serving complimentary paninis to passerbys who tagged their photos #finestfestival2014

Finally getting to dig into my own panini after an afternoon of hosting!

(click to enlarge)

Catch the Finest on Wheels food truck next at 100AM (100 Tras Street, Tanjong Pagar) from 11am - 2pm. There, I will be hosting again alongside Chef Melvyn who will be preparing a Caesar salad topped with herb butter roasted chicken and focaccia croutons! It's open to the public, and yes, it's complimentary food.

Follow Finest Festival:
Instagram @Fairpricesg
Hashtag #Finestfestival2014

Win a pair of invites to a special dinner....

Be one of the lucky 10 to win a pair of invites to an intimate dining affair at a secret location, where a sumptuous feast prepared by chef Eric Low awaits.  Here's how:
1. Follow Instagram @Fairpricesg
2. Post a Instagram selfie of your home cooked meal made from Finest ingredients.
3. Add hashtag #FinestFestival2014 to your post.
4. Share your inspiration of the dish before 14 Sept 2014, 11:59pm.

Friday, September 5, 2014

GastronommyTV: Travel Vlogs

Adding a new section to GastronommyTV: Gastronommy Travel Vlogs. It'll feature short 10-30second clips from special travel moments.  Follow me on for other videos.

Halong Bay
(photography by Justin Leow)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chef Inspired Recipes: Robuchon Potato Puree [video/recipe]

This short series is for the amateur cook who wants to recreate some of the world's best known dishes in the comfort of their own home.  I've tailored the recipes so that even the most novice cook can give it a try, and still impress special guests.

Filmed in Brand New Media's kitchen studio, I've worked on a short cooking series with Food For Life TV for Victoria Cheng's Chef Inspired Recipes (also on Starhub ch 109, 4ME TV).  Here's the fifth episode inspired by Chef Joël Robuchon's potato puree recipe.

I mention it in the video, but please take note to use the potatoes that are recommended - it makes all the difference.  The potatoes I'm actually using in the video (I never mention the name) are NOT correct for this recipe. As you can see, the final result is a little 'gummier' than I'd like. Unfortunately, the crew couldn't find the correct potatoes in time (they're lovely people, still!), and the show must go on!  Otherwise, all the techniques still apply.  Add more butter and milk to your taste :)

Here's a link to the full page with recipe. For other episodes: L'Arpege Hot-Cold Egg Recipe Magnolia Bakery's Banana Bread Pudding Scarpetta's Spaghetti

Thursday, August 28, 2014

We're Professional

Photo styling and direction by Javier of Kilo.

Mini-NYU reunion! Congratulations Candice Choo & Yamil Gonzales on your wedding! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

ALSIceBucketChallenge is STUPID, but... [video]

It's stupid, but I love the impact it's making! Here's my contribution + donation to the viral campaign #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

Links mentioned in the video:
ALS patient does Ice Challenge
Donate for research at ALS TDI
Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief

For the IceBucketChallenge Haters, please see my thoughts here.

Nominated by: Reza Salleh, Zachary De Git, Norman Hartono (and team at Dancing Crab)
I nominate: Denise Tan, Loh Lik Peng, Alex Turnbull, Jed Tiu Lim, Cheryl Tiu, and Cheng Kung Hung.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chef Inspired Recipes: Scarpetta's Spaghetti [video/recipe]

Filmed in Brand New Media's kitchen studio, I've worked on a short cooking series with Food For Life TV for Victoria Cheng's Chef Inspired Recipes (also on Starhub ch 109, 4ME TV).  Here's the fourth episode inspired by Scarpetta in New York and Los Angeles.

This short series is for the amateur cook who wants to recreate some of the world's best known dishes in the comfort of their own home.  I've tailored the recipes so that even the most novice cook can give it a try, and still impress special guests.

Scarpetta's Spaghetti
Here's a link to the full page with recipe.
For other episodes:
L'Arpege Hot-Cold Egg Recipe
Magnolia Bakery's Banana Bread Pudding

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cooking with Victoria: DIY Magnolia Bakery's Banana Bread Pudding [video/recipe]

Filmed in Brand New Media's kitchen studio, I've worked on a short cooking series with Food For Life TV (also on Starhub ch 109, 4ME TV).  Here's the second episode!  This was shot very early in the morning - as in, way too early for a functional Victoria... can you tell by my calm demeanor? Ha.

This short series is for the amateur cook who wants to recreate some of the world's best known dishes in the comfort of their own home.  I've tailored the recipes so that even the most novice cook can give it a try, and still impress special guests.

Banana Bread Pudding on Food For Life TV

Here's a link to the full page with recipe.
For the episode on L'Arpege Egg Recipe, click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Official Scale for Chili Pepper Spiciness

Did you know there was an official scale to measure the spiciness or pungency of a chili pepper?  I was playing a game of QuizUp which asked about this, and I took a lucky guess.  It's called the Scoville Scale. (Thanks for teaching me something new, QuizUp!)

img src: Flower Store

Created by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville, the scale is based on the Scoville Organoleptic Test that measures capsinoids (heat components of a pepper) according to 5 trained testers.  Of course, given the subjectiveness of human tastebuds, the scale is not precise each time.

For scale, the Bhut jolokia pepper from Northeast India is over one million Scoville units, and is considered the spiciest chili pepper in the world.  The bell pepper (capsicum) on the other hand is at zero Scoville units, with no pungency at all.

Cool pop trivia info, right?

The Irony of Chocolate

The Ivory Coast cocoa farmers have no idea what their beans are used for.  A few farmers in the video below reveal, "My parents always told me that cocoa beans are used to make wine!"  In fact, chocolate itself is very rare and expensive in the Ivory Coast... many farmers have never seen chocolate in their life.  Here's a heart-warming video of them trying it for the first time.   (Read more on a previous Gastronommy article: How Chocolate is Produced)

If you also want to know exactly how chocolate is made, check out the write-up on Chocolate:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A word on Singapore's burgers [Esquire]

photography: Adam Tun-Aung

Grab the August issue of Esquire magazine for a quick column about burgers.  This article had a word limit, so I'll be sharing a full list of burger joints and a cool run down on the burger history here on next.  I ate a lot of f*cking burgers for 2 months for you guys.

The internet offers all sorts of legends on how the hamburger came to be – from minced horsemeat fillets eaten by Mongol riders in Genghis Khan’s army, to German immigrants bringing the Hamburg beefsteak to the Americas. One thing is undisputed however; the hamburger in its truest definition—ground beef patty in between a bun—is the quintessential American food product.

The humble hamburger has since been reinvented and refined since its designation as the cheap assembly-line all-American symbol. There’s still an appreciation for fast-food slop, but the New York gospel of what makes a perfect burger has spread even to Singapore’s shores.

The Bun: The taste and texture is crucial. Simple soft potato bread is ideal, toasted on the inside to help prevent absorbency—too absorbent and you’ll get a soggy mess. The bun should be even a bit on the blander side, so the beef flavors can stand out. Pillowy softness is also key. If the bun is too chewy or hard (think baguette-like breads) the meat squishes out the back end whenever you bite into it.

The Patty: I don’t care what kind of fancy trimmings you put on a burger, but nothing can hide the importance of the beef. It is said that the magic ratio of beef –to-fat mixture is 70 to 30 percent. Purists, like myself, believe a real burger is beef, and beef only. Add in fillers such as breadcrumbs and eggs, and the patty by definition, becomes a meatloaf. But there are so-called “shapeists” who are content to accept a burger as long as it’s the right shape—hence chicken burgers, lamb burgers, and even tofurkey burgers. Beyond this, there is no right or wrong when it comes to trimmings like cheese, veggies, and sauces. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Here's the list of mentions:

Shake Shack Reincarnated: Omakase Burger
Omakase’s owners have been inspired specifically by Shake Shack NYC and have recreated the burger to the best of their ability. Omakase also serves beef tallow fries (that is, French fries fried in the beef fat rendered from the burgers).

Gentleman’s Burger: B-Bar at Bacchanalia
The details that go into the creation of the Bacchanalia Burger are something to be appreciated. Chef Ivan Brehm uses three different cuts of beef to ensure both good texture and flavor; aged cheddar for acidity against the beef fat; and semi-dried tomatoes for umami; and a bun that is the right balance of softness and structural hold.

Too Cool For School: Potato Head Folk
Craving a McSpicy but need to maintain your trendy cool? The buttermilk fried chicken burger at Potato Head Folk is your savior. Unlike most chicken burgers, Potato Head Folk’s chicken is juicy, tender, and full of flavor. Order a side of Naughty Fries too, and thank me later.

Sacré Bleu!: The Market Grill
Americana purists may abhor the thought of French cheese in the burger (are French fries not enough?!), but the CW Bleu Cheese burger at Market Grill is simply one of the best in town. The patty is thick with juicy meat, smothered in burnt onion marmalade, salty bacon, and the glorious sweet-tangy stink of reblechon bleu cheese. The raisin walnut bun hug the innards just nicely, completing the burger trance that will leave you silent for 5-minutes as you willfully eat uninterrupted.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cooking with Victoria Cheng: DIY L'Arpege Egg [video/recipe]

Filmed in Brand New Media's kitchen studio, I've worked on a short cooking series with Food For Life TV (also on Starhub ch 109, 4ME TV).  Here's the first episode!  This was shot very early in the morning - as in, way too early for a functional Victoria... can you tell by my calm demeanor? Ha.

This short series is for the amateur cook who wants to recreate some of the world's best known dishes in the comfort of their own home.  I've tailored the recipes so that even the most novice cook can give it a try, and still impress special guests.

Here's a link to the full page with recipe. ** Thanks Justin Leow for the egg topper. :) Catch the next episode on Magnolia Bakery's Banana Bread Pudding recipe!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to Purchase and Prepare Seafood Properly

Written by Jasmine of

Buying fresh seafood is difficult to do. There are many factors that go into choosing the best possible seafood for any meal. Unless you caught the fish or any kind of seafood yourself, you will have a hard time determining how fresh it is.

How to buy seafood?

There are different ways to spot fresh seafood. It is different for fish and shellfish. Here are tips that can help you spot fresh seafood.


For whole fish, check the clearness of its eyes and the shininess of its skin. Clear eyes and metallic skin characterise freshness. If the skin of the fish you see is dull and patchy and its eyes are clouded, it is no longer as fresh as a first catch, but it is still safe to cook and eat. Another characteristic you should consider is the color of the gills. Bright red gills signify that the fish is still fresh, while brick red gills characterize an older fish. Smell the fish to find out if it is still fresh. Fresh fish smell like cucumber or fresh water. A quality fish restaurant in Hong Kong uses fresh seafood to ensure that customers get their money’s worth.

Aside from whole fish, there are a few things you must look into when purchasing fresh shellfish. Ideally, it is better to buy shellfish in fish markets that have a quick turnover to ensure freshness. Dead shellfish cannot be opened once cooked, in such cases these shellfish must be thrown away quickly. Scallops are best bought when they have been vacuum-sealed and frozen. Avoid purchasing scallops that were stored in brine or packed wet. Shrimp is freshest when it is bought frozen and shelled. Shelled shrimp prevents it from rotting quickly. Once the shrimp loses its shell, it tends to rot faster.

These are the characteristics you look for when you purchase seafood. Italian restaurants in Hong Kong make sure that the seafood they serve is always fresh. You can follow their example and cook your own fresh seafood.

How to cook seafood properly?

Now that you know how to purchase fresh seafood, the next step to take is how to prepare seafood properly. Preparing seafood properly ensures that you keep all of its nutrients and avoid any fish borne diseases. Here are some tips that can help you prepare fresh seafood:

1. Thaw frozen seafood gradually by refrigerating it overnight. You can also thaw seafood by placing it in the microwave and putting it on the ‘defrost’ setting.
2. A majority of seafood is cooked in an average temperature of 145⁰F. You can tell if the seafood is done cooking by checking if the fish meat is opaque and is separated easily using a fork. For scallops, the flesh is firm and opaque. For lobsters and shrimps, the flesh turns opaque and pearly. For mussels, oysters, and clams, the shells normally open while they’re being cooked, if they don’t open, throw them away immediately.
3. Never leave seafood outside the refrigerator for more than two hours.
4. Separate hot seafood from cold seafood when serving them for a meal.

These are ways you can follow whenever you need to prepare, cook, and serve seafood. Restaurants in Central make sure their seafood is cooked and served properly for guests. You can follow their example, if you are cooking seafood for any meal of the day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#Bloodties for Red Cross Singapore

A video by Red Cross Singapore:

#bloodties #adrenalineinmyblood #sgredcross #ydcsg

Be a part of this good cause. Join me at the Blood Donation Drive on 12 & 13 July at Scape (Level 5). Spread the word by posting your selfie and declaring your passion.
#bloodties #(state your passion here)inmyblood #sgredcross #ydcsg


I've often confided in people close to me about my concerns about food writing - call it an existential crisis, if you will.  I have friends who've given up their very comfortable NYC corporate life for something that was more meaningful for them... like using their skills to improve waste management in New Delhi and healthcare in Vietnam (Tiffany Talsma and Luan Vo, I have the utmost respect for your work).  Meanwhile, I'm luxuriously spending my days writing about the taste of food.  If you read my work or this blog, I'm guessing life's really not all that bad for you in the big scheme of things either.  Donating our blood to help save lives is the least we can do, right? :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

3 Signs I've Been Living in Singapore

Signs I've been living in Singapore... for too long.  I remember when I naively thought I was down with the Singapore culture (read: I'm Not a Tourist Because...), but now that I'm coming up to my 4 year anniversary in Singapore, I'm starting to realize its more than just a simple understanding of what Singapore is. I was back in Hong Kong last week when either my friends and I noticed a few things...

1.  Heat Tolerance
On a [Comfort 1 to 10 Discomfort to-the-point-of-rage] scale, over Hong Kong summers I'm usually bursting at a monstrous 12.  After 4 years in Singapore, I can bear Hong Kong summer heat in long pants and heels and feel around an 8.
2.  Chilli in EVERYTHING
I was having dinner (Cantonese cuisine) with a group of friends, and something felt like it was missing the entire time.  That is, until my friend Victor asked if I wanted chilli, "All of my Singaporean friends always ask for chilli when we eat out."  Everything tasted better after that.  Damn.
3.  Can lah, unker!
In Hong Kong, when speaking to locals, my inflections have become Singa-fied rather than Chinglishy.   Taxi drivers are more convinced than ever that I am a pure foreigner rather than the Canto-deficient HK ABCer that I am. (Hong Kong American-Born-Chinese)
Now I'm just awaiting the day that I simply start mangling words Singapore-style all together.

Monday, June 23, 2014

[Food Diary Singapore] Ô Comptoir, Salt Grill & Sky Bar

(Click for other Food Diary Entries)
Food Diary Singapore May-June 2014: 
notes on Ô Comptoir and Salt Grill & Sky Bar.

Ô Comptoir
Time: Friday 23 May lunchtime with Alex
Place: 79 Circular Rd. Singapore, 049433 Singapore
Tel: (65) 6534-7645 Website:

Ô Comptoir, not to be confused with Le Comptoir du Relais in Paris, has opened its doors in Singapore by the same French family behind Gemmil Lane's Ô Batignolles.  The open air creperie specializes in galettes (buckwheat crêpes), catering to the Boat Quay and Raffles Place crowd with their casual Brittany cuisine and well stocked wine bar open until late hours.  Ô Comptoir serves fusion galettes inspired by the region, such as Kao San Road ($20), a galette with pan-fried prawns, soya mango chutney, and mint.  Personally, I prefer the classics ham and cheese versions, as well as the simpler sweet bites.  Normandy Landing is a simple crêpe, drizzled with homemade salted butter caramel. (related: See Obnoxious Foodie Translator on the galette)

For those not keen on galettes, Ô Comptoir has a small selection of traditional brasserie eats.  I imagine another potential strong point of the newly opened Ô Comptoir will be from its three-sided bar, serving specialty French Breton Ciders, wines (from $10 a glass, $46 a bottle), and spirits.

Ô Comptoir
Opening Hours: Mon-Tue 11am-midnight, Wed-Thur & Sat 11-2am, Fri 11am-3am, Sun 11am-10pm

Salt Grill & Sky Bar
Time: Wed 4 June lunchtime with Amy Van
Place: Address: 55th and 56th floors, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6592-5118 Website:

There have been a number of changes since the last time I was here a few years ago, with adjustments to the dining room and bar positioning (a private room is now tucked away in a higher alcove of the restaurant), and general decor by designphase dba.  Thankfully, the wonderful view remains completely untouched at the 55th floor of ION Orchard.

Photos provided by FoodNewsPR
Aussie Chef Luke Mangan's menu remains largely unchanged, with the Singapore kitchen being led by the 27-year old Executive Chef Matthew Leighton.  My opinions too, also seem largely unchanged since the last time I've tried these dishes during opening in 2012.  The Tea smoked quail (quail smoked with Earl Grey tea and rice, paired with almond cream, prunes, truffled grains, shallots, and sorrel $31++) and kingfish sashimi, topped with ginger, eschalot & goats feta ($21++) are both a lovely demonstration of modern Australian cuisine.

Sashimi of Kingfish

Tea-smoked Quail

'Glass' Sydney Crab Omelette in Miso Mustard Broth

However, the restaurant's pride and joy - the Sydney crab omelette in a miso mustard broth - still disappoints.  The flavors are unexpectedly flat, given the expectation of a nice umami touch from the miso mustard broth.  The dish feels watered down, with an unsatisfying texture of soggy omelette.  Thrice I've had this dish, yet my opinion remains the same.

On the other hand, I've also had Luke's Licorice Parfait ($12++) thrice, and each time it completely surprises me.  Because really, a licorice parfait just sounds awful.  Instead, the parfait lends a supple, creamy texture with pistachio and licorice notes.  There's something about the acidity of the lime juice that rounds the flavors just right - a topping that plays off the parfait in citrusy-sweet harmony.

Lunch averages $45++ per person, Dinner averages $150++ per person.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sometimes, Bad Customers Beget Bad Service

Like most average American teenagers, my brother and I have worked in the service industry at some point during our school years.  I worked front of house in restaurants (surprise!) and he had his turn in America's second largest retailer company, Target.  It's like Walmart, except you can pronounce the brand name with a false French accent - "Tarr-shay" - and attract a demographic of self-entitled maniacs.

My father was all about teaching us the value of working from the bottom up.  When we were adolescents, he had each of his five children work on the assembly-line of one of his factories in China.  To anyone with no experience with factories in China, this process sounds borderline child-abuse, but I can assure you it isn't (note: we were the only younglings working in his factory.  He doesn't hire kids!).  It was monotonous at worst, and it gave us an understanding of both life and business that has helped shaped who we are today. So, you might think, when we were a bit older and my pops asked my brother to try his hand at customer service at a nice suburban retail store like Target, it would be a cakewalk.  


The horror stories were endless.  A few months into working at a particular New Jersey location, he was quickly promoted from Clerk to Manager, but his usual relaxed demeanor started becoming laced with expletives about the general idiocy he had to deal with.  There are three stories that stand out the most in my memory of his experience:

Once, he was the last to close-up shop, only to find out that the men's bathroom was covered in poop. I mean, POOP. EVERYWHERE. "It was Armageddon," he painfully recalls.  "Have you ever walked into a room and just knew something evil had happened?  That's what this was like." Someone had come in and pooped all over the sinks, proceeded by poop hand and footprint smearings on the walls, mirrors, floor, stall handles... There was blood and feces in the urinal, and urine anywhere there wasn't poo. Admittedly, this story is less relevant to this post, but it's too hysterical not to share.

Another time, he seemed more irate than the poop incident when he told us a long detailed story of a particularly obnoxious customer who was demanding more than what was fair, impatiently berating him with tones of condescension.  I'll never forget what he said, "Why do people act like that?  I'm happy to go the extra mile to fix a customer complaint when the customer is civilized about it.  But when you act like a complete bitch, I will give you the minimal of what is required to resolve the situation." [paraphrased]

And he's absolutely right.  What do you expect to achieve when you treat someone like a wall for poop smudging?  This post was originally inspired by Matt Walsh's commentary on bad service, where he said the following,
They think their hallowed "customer" status somehow gives them the right to treat everyone with a uniform and a name tag like garbage. They think their past encounters with sub-par service makes it acceptable for them to fly off the handle about ketchup every once in a while. They think the rules of basic decency and respect come second when they are The Customer. And they're wrong.
Do you ever wonder why we have so many atrocious politicians in Washington? Well, you shouldn't wonder. Just look in the mirror. Bad politicians are generally bad because they can't handle power. It goes right to their head and they become narcissistic, petty, controlling sociopaths. But at least it's a lot of power so the temptation to be corrupted by it is almost understandable. You, on the other hand, become a maniacal tyrant when society hands you temporary and meaningless power over 17-year-old fast food cashiers. I shudder to think what you'd do if you had an army at your disposal.
The third story concerns his experiences as a manager and dealing with difficult, unmotivated employees.  Perhaps I'll get into that another time, after I get his permission to share the story.  Just know, we're all humanbeans.  You're going to get what you give.


Related Posts with Thumbnails