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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

[Event Giveaway] Gastronommy x Heineken Star Serve Session

Join me at an exclusive beer appreciation session with Heineken Star Serve. Only 10 readers will receive entry for 2 (the winner + 1 friend) to this complimentary private tasting on Thursday 10 July.  Heineken's draught master will be hosting the session, along with two hours of free flow beer and soft drinks, and canapés.

To join, simply follow these steps:
  1.  Share this photo (above) on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
    (or all three!)
  2. Hashtag it #GastronommySG and #HeinekenSG
    (privacy settings for this post must be public, so I can find it)
  3. Fill in this blank in the caption:
    My favorite place for a Heineken is __________.

See you there.

How to say Cheers! in other languages:
Dutch: Proost!
Chinese:  干杯! (gān bēi)
German: Prost!
French: Santé!
Korean: 건배! (gun bae)
Italian: Salute! Cin cin!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Obnoxious Foodie Translator [video]

It's up.
GastronommyTV's Obnoxious Foodie Translator Singapore Edition (Level 1):
Translating obnoxious foodie-lingo into normal people words.  

Bonus points if you can recognize where these dishes are from 
(in the photos within the video)
WAGYU SLIDERS: CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Singapore & California USA
MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY: El Bulli by Ferran Adria, Spain
LUXURIOUS DISH (foie gras): La Tour D'Argent, France
GALETTE: Le Comptoir, Singapore

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Best Burger Value

A Hamburger Today did some calculations for us on a meat-per-dollar ratio in their Bi-Coastal Side By Side Test. All prices are taken from New York and San Francisco locations (USD).

In-N-Out: $3.05 for a Double Double with two 2-ounce patties. Price per ounce: $.76
Five Guys: $7.09 for a cheeseburger with two 3.3-ounce patties. Price per ounce: $1.07
Shake Shack: $4.75 for a 4-ounce Shackburger. Price per ounce: $1.19

Based on my burger tour over the past month in Singapore, here's a quick summary for the city's offerings (SGD):
Average price per burger: $10.00 - 25.00
(not including US franchises, such as McDonald's)



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