Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cutie at Pan Pacific Hotel

Hmmm, I hope this works!

Here is Cutie at the rickshaw outside Japanese restaurant. It looks a bit like a popcorn cart, so after a while, Cutie starts to sing this song that he learnt from a Barney video - "popcorn, it's really neat, fun to make and fun to eat"... although of course his enunciation isn't as precise as I would like it to be.

He spent such a long time here. Didn't want to go at all.

He would scramble to the back of the cart, so we couldn't grab him.

We pretended to go away, but he wasn't bothered. After a while however, he would cajole us to come over.

Dinner @ Por Por's

Another sumptious dinner at Por Por's place.

DH and I are very grateful to Por Por (aka DM), who takes good care of Cutie in the day (twice a week) and also cooks a wonderful dinner for the whole family - soup, fish, meat, vegetables.

Salmon with crispy garlic

DM says this dish is really easy to make.

Salmon fillet is first panfried. Don't add too much oil, just enough to stop the fish from sticking the base of the pan. Salmon is an oily fish and oozes lots of oil.

I've tried replicating this dish before, but found that my garlic was burnt instead of it being so crispy here.

So the secret to getting crispy garlic is this - cook the garlic over medium to low heat. High heat causes the garlic to burn. Stir it gently and lovingly and it will slowly brown to a lovely golden crisp. DM cooks the garlic in the fish oil from the salmon. DM adds some bits of chili padi to the garlic for added zing!

There. A wonderful dish from DM.

Chicken Chop with Onions and Potatoes

This dish reminds me of the hainanese chicken chop, except it's not deep fried.

It is my DM's take on Chinese western food. It is adapted from my own Por Por's (ie DM's mom's) secret recipe, which uses pork. DM isn't too fond of pork, so we eat lots of chicken at DM's house.

Slices of potato (like potato chips you see), topped with rings of onion, and then the delicious chicken chop.

I'll see if DM will part with her recipes, and if she does, I will post them up!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dinner @ Old Airport Road Food Centre

Before DH left for New Orleans for his conference, we were supposed to visit a friend who had just delivered her third baby. Fortuituously, she texted us to say that she was too tired that day, so we decided to turn it into date night, and have a paktor dinner instead.

DH wanted to go somewhere nice but I was really craving hawker fare - the type of place that we seldom go to, the type of place that is usually not suitable for Cutie (due to the heat, humidity, hygiene).

Old Airport Road Food Centre, recently refurbished, is now brighter, cleaner and well ventilated. Parking attendants are very vigilant here. Be warned.

Stall 103 - Foo Chow Bak Chor Mee

DH's choice of Bak Chor mee (SGD6 with extras). It was foochow style, meaning that it came with fishballs filled with minced pork, pork balls, and minced pork.

Wow, this was SO tasty! Unbelievable.

The meatballs were so bouncy and tasted like it was mixed with some salted fish. The fish balls had meat filling inside, but were not dry, on the contrary they just burst with savoury filling and soup. Like fishball xiao long baos!

DH ordered an extra portion of soup so that I could have my own bowl instead of stealing from his.

Stall No. 98 - Whitley Prawn Noodles

My own choice of prawn noodles (SGD5 for an upsized portion with large prawns). It was ok. Not as tasty as the bak chor mee. The noodles were a bit clumpy and I didn't find the soup stock very sweet.

Maybe it was just me. There are lots of accolades pasted on the glass frontage of the shop.

Stall No. 98 - Rojak

This rojak stall is very high tech. It has an electronic numbering system like the one at Cutie's paediatrician. So when your number is flashed you go up and order and collect. No need to stand in line.

It was very nice. SGD2, but a generous portion, and the tau poks and the you tiao bits were hot and crispy.

I like date night! If only they occurred more than once in a dark blue moon!

The Ship Restaurant @ Shaw Centre

PC brought a few of us girls to Shaw Centre to eat at one of her favourite restaurants.

Hmmm, you know, I have actually never ventured within Shaw Centre, save to eat at Kuriya once or twice. I never realised that there were so many shops here! How do they survive? They are like well-kept secrets from a forgotten age!

Anyhow, PC brought us to THE SHIP RESTAURANT (Shaw Centre, 2nd Floor), a Hainanese Western restaurant (like Jack's Place before it got refurbished and rebranded or like Shashlik). It serves predominantly western food (it even has carpetbagger steak on the menu), but we were here for one thing - the fish bee hoon soup.

This dish was seen on almost every table in the restaurant, a clear favourite among its regular patrons. PC eats this dish every single time she comes here for lunch! It's a lunchtime special, btw, and is not on the main menu.

The bee hoon came in this huge, deep bowl, filled to the brim with milky-hued stock. It was very aromatic, and I could taste the ginger and the depth of flavours in the soup stock. The thick white laksa bee hoon was smooth and slippery. Bee Hoon is usually asteless by itself, but when when I slurped up the bee hoon with the soup, I was in heaven. It was that comforting.

The fish was very crispy, almost like a har cheong kai (prawn paste chicken) made with fish. We all ordered the fish slices, but later decided to share an extra plate of fish head. That was a good choice. The fish head was even crispier, and was a large portion. I will order the fish head next time. Pictured here is the sliced fish (I ate one piece already... couldn't resist).

The set cost SGD12.90, and came with dessert and coffee or tea. The dessert of the day was longan with almond jelly which was not exceptional but was still rather welcome on a warm day. PC says they usually offer a slice of butter cake or marble cake instead. Well I much prefer the longan and almond jelly.

Hair Makeover

Remember, a few posts ago, I mentioned that I won a free makeover?

Well, the lady coloured my hair copper, and cut lots of layers ("for movement and style, my dear!"). DH didn't like it very much, so I have been very shy about it, although I have received very positive compliments from my colleagues (*blush* you are all too kind).

I usually keep my hair bunned up, since I am rather embarrassed by the comparatively loud colour (I've never coloured my hair before this, so I really am not used to this shade).

But that day, I decided to let my hair down (literally) and surprise, I found that my hair got slightly wavy where I had bunned it up.

I thought it looked pretty decent, and DS says that the curls are very feminine. DB says several of his female classmates in SMU have wavy hair like this. So, now my hair is feminine and young?! Ooh, I like!

What do you think?

PS: I am still shy, so the hair is still pretty much bunned up in the day.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Keyaki @ Pan Pacific Hotel

We ate at Pan Pacific Hotel again! Hee hee.

DH generously took me, Cutie, Por Por, Kong Kong, Yee Yee and Jiu Jiu (ie my whole family save for DBiL who had something on) to Keyaki Japanese Restaurant (4th floor, Pan Pacific Hotel).

After perusing the menu, we all opted for the 7-course kaiseki set meal (SGD90 per pax) with several choices for each course. We all sat around the L-shaped sushi bar, which was great fun! The sushi bar is an intimate seating area away from the main hall, so we took up the entire area. Haha.

All in all, I loved the dinner tonight, surrounded by my closest and dearest, having a great time sharing our choices, and reviewing each item. Hmmm, I think it would have been a better idea to come for the lunch buffet though. It's more value for money (SGD58 ala carte buffet).

My sashimi choice - Hamachi (yellowtail). It was fresh but not as thick as I would have liked. These days, my palate has been spoilt by excessively good Japanese food. So I am much more discerning (and fussy!). It was otherwise very good, and I liked how they served fresh wasabi, and the various condiments (shiso leaf, purple petals, green petals dunno what they are called but it's so elegant right, and they do smell nice when you add them to the soya sauce).

DH's choice of amaebi (sweet prawn) was very very good. Better than mine in fact. Good prawn sashimi isn't dependent on the chef's slicing technique only on the quality and freshness of the prawn. No complaints here on that score.

My choice of grilled konnyaku (yam jelly) with miso paste was the best of the lot. DB (ie Jiu Jiu) ordered some grated mountain yam with tuna dish (which came with a raw quail's egg on top) which he could hardly eat! It was just a tad too slimy!
DH and DS both ordered this seasoned black squid starter. DH liked it and helped to finish DS' share as well. I think it's an acquired taste. DH has ordered this before and really likes it. I don't really care for it though.

Yakimono - Grilled item

Again, I was very pleased with my choice of grilled pacific saury (pike mackerel). It was the best value option ok! It was a whole fish, and it was huge enough for everyone to try some. The flesh was oily and tender and quite sweet and delicate. I added just a little squeeze of lemon and gobbled this whole thing down very quickly. I almost chose the grilled beef skewers (2 skewers per serving) but luckily DH encouraged me to try this instead. I think DS had the beef, and it was not bad also.

DH's choice of grilled teriyaki cod - slightly sweet, crispy on the outside, tender flakey flesh on the inside. Good (but I still prefer my pacific saury!).

My choice of stuffed crabmeat in crabshell was interesting. Minced crabmeat which was lightly crumbed, then fried. Quite nice, but a bit disappointing cos of the small portion.

DH's choice of tempura moriwase - was a great choice, both in terms of visual appeal and in terms of value. So many items - mushroom, prawn, fish etc - and all were very good.

We had a choice of steamed dishes next - but most of us took chawanmushi. Didn't take a photo of that, since we all know what chawanmushi looks like. I had it the last time I was here anyway.

Our chef, Sato-san, busy at work plating all of our sushi choices. I think he really liked having Cutie around. Cutie tried to mimic Sato-san when Sato-san clapped his hands twice, it meant that the sushi was ready and that the waiters should come and collect. So Cutie kept clapping his hands and saying "Auntie, food ready!".

My sushi selection. I liked the salmon best. Followed by the ika. Can't remember what the other 2 were.
After sushi, we had a choice of either fruit or ice-cream (I had macha ice cream of course). Lovely!

Cutie likes coming here because of the friendly waiters, and the fact that they decorate the place with raccoons. He'd say: "Raccoon where? See raccoon? Big raccoon? Please?" To be honest though, I am not even sure if this animal is really a raccoon. Haha.

Hai Tien Lo @ Pan Pacific Hotel

Hai Tien Lo (63rd floor, Pan Pacific Hotel) has a great view and a great selection of dim sum and dishes in its weekend ala carte buffet (SGD58 per person).

We started with the soup - either braised sharks' fin soup or buddha jump over the wall (one order only).

My Buddha jump over the wall came in a dark-coloured, clear (as opposed to starchy) soup which tasted strongly of mushrooms and chicken. Ingredients were quite generous, as you can see. Combs of sharks' fin, dried scallop, lingzhi, mushroom, chicken.

DH's sharks' fin soup was much nicer. It wasn't too starchy, and had a very hearty, yummy aroma.

There were also generous combs of sharks' fin and scallop in his soup. I want!!

We then had wasabi mayo prawns - such a popular dish these days. Even zi char places do it nowadays. This dish was well done, crunchy, sweet, not too cloying, not too pungent. The addition of some fruit provided some tartness and sweetness, a very interesting and welcome contrast.

Fried calamari - Nice. Crispy and chewy squid, very easy to eat and very easy to like.
Steamed cod with scallions - DH likes fish when it is cooked like this - HK style. It was very nice. We ordered a 2nd portion with sea perch.

DH ordered some century egg porridge. It was smooth and fragrant. MIL ordered some ee fu noodles.

Cutie entertained himself by calling people using his daddy's handphone - "Por Por, where you? Come here, come quick. Eat fish and noodles! I'm a good boy". It was hilarious because he was carrying on this scintillating conversation with his imaginary friends. We didn't really let him call Por Por, obviously.
Steamed pomfret with bean sauce - A little too heavy on the sauce for me. I don't really like sauces to overpower my fish. However, the fish was steamed just right so I still managed to scoff it all up.

The best value dish, in my opinion, were the Steamed Live Prawns - This was a half portion, btw. We dug in as soon as the prawns arrived and I forgot to take any pictures until we were halfway through. The prawns were definitely live prawns. Not the frozen ones, with a wooden taste. These were sweet, succulent, lively, fresh. Wow. I really loved them.

So much so, we also ordered a portion of Live prawns in Herbal soup - This was even better, as the herbal soup was divine. It had a heady aroma redolent of herbs like dang shen, and we could taste the delicious chinese rice wine in it. OOh. So good, I ordered another portion of this.

Funny thing is, when DH first ordered it, DH ordered a portion for 3 persons and so, 6 prawns came. Then when I ordered it again, I specifically said I wanted only a portion for 1, as DH and MIL had already surrendered. And another plate, containing 6 live prawns came. (!!!) I was expecting 2 prawns right?

DH said, maybe the waitress figured, that 1 portion for me is equivalent to 3 portions for normal people. -_-

Well, the prawns really were very good. Look at how many I ate! I can feel my cholesterol levels shooting waayy up.

Then just another plate of braised sea cucumber with beancurd to round off the meal. A little bit spicy, but very nice. I wish they could have put less beancurd.

There was also a buffet spread of desserts - fresh fruit (rock melon, honeydew, watermelon, strawberries and a local crunchy fruit that's red on the outside and white on the inside I forgot the name!), chng tng, nyonya kueh, cakes.

Next to it was a small spread of appetisers like braised duck wings, japanese baby octopus, etc. And I ate a lot of braised duck tongues! It's like eating braised duck wings, but slightly chewier! Oooh. It's a delicacy in HK, I believe. Haha, I can see people out there shuddering. Well, all I can say is... sign me up for Fear Factor!

Marina Square Shopping Centre - Lego Shop

Walked around Marina Square a bit... DH was looking for a new carry-on luggage bag (he did succeed in getting one, but I won't tell you how it cost... but let me just share with you my shock and amazement that luggage can actually cost so much... I was half-expecting the bag to fold open into a small studio apartment or something, considering its price tag!)

We ended up on the Lego shop next to Traveller's Planet, where Cutie parked himself on the lego motorbike, and had a really good time.

I think we spent a good 15 minutes just waiting for Cutie to play and get tired of this.

Cutie: Vroom Vroom! I am speeding down the highway!

Cutie hugged the lego penguin before he left, saying: "Bye Bye Penguin!" Awww.

Global Kitchen @ Pan Pacific Hotel

DH and I have the Pan Pacific dining privileges card, which is about to expire. So, we had to maximise our use of this card by coming to Pan Pacific to eat all weekend. Haha.

When we arrived at Global Kitchen (3rd Floor, Pan Pacific Hotel), we had exactly 40 dining dollars left on the card. Which means we have to eat exactly 80 dollars worth of food to maximise our discount. We could use the dining dollars to redeem up to 50% of our total bill you see.

Don't be misled by the name, this restaurant is not a little kitchen where food is cheap or plentiful. This is one of those very chi-chi, haute cuisine, fine-dining type of restaurant where everything is served on crisp linen, fine porcelain and by very well-dressed, eloquent waiters.

Lobster cappucino with blue spinner crab tortellini (SGD11.50) - This was a half portion. DH and I decided to share this soup starter because we weren't very hungry. We both had a huge buffet lunch earlier that day. The waitstaff thoughtfully separated the soup into 2 beautiful bowls, which was already a very substantive portion. The soup was very robust and flavourful. It had depth of flavour, such that with each mouthful I savoured, I found myself appreciating the soup more and more. The tortellini was smooth and filled to bursting with tender crab meat. They also added some pungent herb to the crabmeat (I think it was either coriander or parsley), which I didn't really enjoy but DH did. I must add, I just find the name a little pretentious though. Cappucino?!

My main of herb-crusted lamb cutlets with mashed potato and baby bok choy (SGD27.50) - I was actually tempted by something else on the menu, pan-seared scallops with truffle risotto which was a dish by a celebrity chef (as opposed to the local chef), but that cost SGD36, and I thought this was more value for money. It was a good choice. The lamb was tender and crusted with something crispy (like oats actually... you know, the oatmeal prawns we have in zi char restaurants?). The mash was flavourful. All in all, a good, solid meal.

DH's main of poached wagyu beef on a bed of azuki beans and some veg (SGD45) - now, this dish was presented by a celebrity chef, and as you can tell, the ingredients are more classy too. I was a bit skeptical - poached wagyu? This fatty beef should be seared or grilled to bring out the fattiness, add some smokiness. Well, it was very nice nevertheless. Very very tender of course, and flavourful. DH cut me a slice, and I gobbled it up in half a second.

Cutie said: Take Knife. Cut bread for Mommy. Mommy Eat?

Cutie joined us at the table, of course. He has been to more fine dining restaurants at the age of 22 months than his mother has been. The waitstaff kindly provided Cutie with his own set of cutlery, and a slice of homemade herb bread, which Cutie promptly dissected.

Cutie: Clap Clap. Daddy, clap! Clap for me! Well Done!

We always praise Cutie when he does something clever. I just believe in encouraging him, and using positive reinforcement to teach him. So, we said Cutie was clever when he managed to sit with us at the table, and when he successfully cut the bread himself. Cutie was so pleased, can you tell? Cutie genuinely responds better to praise. He will look around the table and call out to the person who is not clapping, and specifically tell that person to clap for him.

When we tallied the bill, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we managed to total up exactly SGD84, which was very close to our targetted amount. I expressed my delight to DH, who replied drily: "It would have been better if we ate 4 dollars less." -_-

Buffet @ Conrad International Hotel

I was invited to attend a high tea at Conrad Hotel.

It was really fun, with lots of beautiful ladies. I also won a free makeover session on that day, which accounts for my change of hairstyle, hair colour (copper!) and clothes. All free. So lucky!

A and A, both lovely ladies, did a great job hosting the event. They were so entertaining! Mrs K was such a good sport, she really smoked up the dance floor when she was invited up on stage to be serenaded. You go, girl!

There also was a pretty good buffet selection. The lovely part was that my table was served, instead of having to take our own food.

See how nicely everything is arranged! I liked the dry mee siam (extreme right) and the fried carrot cake (extreme left), but found them a little too salty for my tastes.

The dessert selection was extensive and delicious. My favourite was the refreshing aloe vera fruit jelly (in the shotglass).

Kia Hiang Hokkien Restaurant @ International Plaza

I was in the area and a friend of mine brought me here for lunch.

Kia Hiang Hokkien Restaurant (2nd floor, international plaza) was surprisingly very crowded when we arrived, with more Japanese salarymen than locals. We waited for a few minutes before being shown to our table. The table next to us was apologetically told not to linger over their tea as "there are people waiting for the table". (hahaha!)

We ordered the claypot chicken (SGD12) - which was pretty good value for money. It was at least half a chicken, and very substantial. It came bubbling hot and exuded a very appetising aroma. The chicken was tender and almost falling off the bone. It had absorbed all the delicious sauce it was simmered in and was therefore most tasty. The cabbage wrapping the chicken was also soft and tender, particularly suitable for any geriatric with no teeth.

Prawn Roll (SGD 2 each) - Honestly, I was expecting a Hokkien ngo hiang (chopped prawn, pork and water chestnut wrapped in a beancurd roll). This was a deep fried crispy prawn roll, similar to a dimsum item and served with a wasabi mayo dip. It was interesting, but I didn't think it was worth the money.

Nevertheless, I didn't pay for lunch. And I enjoyed the company very much. Thanks for lunch AA!