Sinigang na sugpo

24 11 2014

OUR HABITS become our character.  The thought hits me first thing Saturday morning when, after hitting snooze on my alarm for the fifth time, I darted through the door and elbowed my way through fresh seafood at the weekend wet market.  I only mean to say that it’s fast becoming a habit.  The profundity of the opening line was purely unintentional.

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

One of my weekend market basket stuffers: Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg).

 

This one told me she was ready for her close-up!  Haha.

This one told me she was ready for her close-up! Haha.

 

But if I would be so profound – however unintentional – then I would be better off if I’d cook not only for myself but for a couple of my closest friends as well.  We’ve been moving in very different circles since moving to Singapore.  But that didn’t mean we had to lose the friendship.

My resuscitated fascination for blue crabs seems to be something I shall enjoy in solitude.  Something about having to work really hard for one’s meal – all those legs, claws and shell one has to go through – makes people think twice.  So staring at the day’s catch, showcased no better way than spread on white tiles so pedestrian yet so fitting, I had a thought:  maximum pleasure for minimum effort.  Prawns win over crabs.

I made my way through the biggest, fattest fresh prawns, S$ 24.00 for a kilo, making sure that while I work out my ingredients list in my head, I wouldn’t be making my dearest blue crabs feel left out.  I snapped up a couple of those too.

I thought my friends would appreciate a taste of home.  So the prawns just had to be made into “sinigang” – meat or fish in a broth soured traditionally with tamarind pulp, to which are added lots of fresh vegetables.  My previous posts about it are here.

I realize I haven’t really put up a proper recipe of it here though.  Here is exactly how I make it.  This being the batch I brought to my friends, blanching the vegetables is a must to preserve their color and crunch as the dish travels.

 

KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g)

Onions, one medium–sized, finely sliced

Tomatoes, two medium–sized, seeded, blanched, peeled, quartered

Prawns (10/12 Count), fresh, wild–caught, 500 g (SGD 24.00/kg)

String Beans (Long Beans), exactly 10, cut into 3” pieces

Daikon Radish, one medium–sized, cut into thin rounds

Swamp Cabbage (Water Spinach), one bunch, just the tops, cut from the stems and roots

Green Finger Chilies, four, stemmed, seeded, cut in half

MORTON® coarse Kosher salt, to taste

 

  1. In a stock pot, bring one liter of water, the onions and tomatoes to the boil. Simmer for about five minutes to break the onions and tomatoes into the broth.

 

  1. Add the KNORR® Sinigang sa Sampalok Mix Original (20 g), or “Sinigang na may SiliRecipe Mix (22 g).
As a kid and as my mother's kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained.    I call these the convenience of modern times:  KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

As a kid and as my mother’s kitchen apprentice, I used to prepare the sour broth using fresh tamarind that had to be boiled, mashed, and strained. I call these the convenience of modern times: KNORR® “Sinigang sa Sampalok” Mix Original (20 g), and “Sinigang na may Sili” Recipe Mix (22 g).

 

 

  1. Plunge the prawns in.

 

  1. When the prawns start to curl, add the blanched vegetables – string beans, daikon radish, swamp cabbage, and, the green finger chilies. Three minutes after the dish has come back to the boil, turn the heat off.

 

  1. Sinigang na sugpo” is ready to serve! Preferably, with heaps of freshly cooked, steaming hot Japanese pearl rice.
I packed the "sinigang" as beautifully as I could.  This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

I packed the “sinigang” as beautifully as I could. This batch was made for a VIP clientele and will have to travel from my flat to theirs.

 

I poured the broth and it's ready to be delivered!

I poured the broth and it’s ready to be delivered!

 

In this IKEA® bag are the "sinigang" and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice.  Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

In this IKEA® bag are the “sinigang” and lots of steamed Japanese pearl rice. Just a 10-minute train ride to the VIP client.

 

One of the nice things about living in Singapore.  Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

One of the nice things about living in Singapore. Even a homecooked lunch could be enjoyed with an awesome view.

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Ramen Quest: IPPUDO SG at Mohamed Sultan

23 11 2014

MY RAMEN quest is turning out to be the perfect excuse to go through the list of all IPPUDO SG branches islandwide – all four of them.  I’ve been to three.  The first is here.  This post is about the second one:  IPPUDO SG at UE Square (along Mohamed Sultan Road), #01-55/56, 207 River Valley Road, Singapore 238275.

My bowl of ramen at IPPUDO at Mohamed Sultan.  It's all about the Hakata–style noodles for me.

My bowl of ramen at IPPUDO SG at Mohamed Sultan. It’s all about the Hakata–style noodles for me.

 

My chosen "featured" ramen, calm and collected, just right before I wreaked havoc onto it.

My chosen “featured” ramen, calm and collected, just right before I wreaked havoc onto it.

 

That pinch of a Japanese pepper pounded to a paste makes this bowl a "featured" ramen, as opposed to a "classic."

That pinch of a Japanese pepper pounded to a paste makes this bowl a “featured” ramen, as opposed to a “classic.”

 

For some reason, the noodles at this branch seemed much thinner.  The promised texture – “springy” as the menu brandishes – can only really be had when the noodles are served “very hard”, exactly my preference.

It's all about the noodles.  I actually fight with myself whenever faced with a steaming hot bowl of IPPUDO ramen.  I can almost consume this in a flash.  But restraint and the attempt to pace the eating – almost as if rationing it to myself – does generate much enjoyed delayed gratification.

It’s all about the noodles. I actually fight with myself whenever faced with a steaming hot bowl of IPPUDO ramen. I can almost consume this in a flash. But restraint and the attempt to pace the eating – almost as if rationing it to myself – does generate much enjoyed delayed gratification.

 

I am nothing if not a creature of habit.  And the extra serving of noodles has always been requisite to a most satisfying meal at IPPUDO SG!

I am nothing if not a creature of habit. And the extra serving of noodles has always been requisite to a most satisfying meal at IPPUDO SG!

 

This delusion of a much reduced noodle diameter in the expected doneness, coupled with the signature clean, deeply flavored Tonkotsu broth, sealed the fate of this ramen.  To steal the title of a favorite Vertical Horizon song, “best I ever had.”

And I had a couple of add–ons to prove this claim:  a cup of steamed Japanese pearl rice and an extra serving of the noodles.  Both do exactly what they are supposed to do – soak up the awesome broth, something diners would always be reminded of everytime they look up from their bowl and see the wall art that is the Oriental soup spoons.

I can see the relation with the Mandarin Gallery branch.  The bowls are there.  The spoons are here.  Great ramen is at both.

Anyone who cannot appreciate the ingenuity of hanging all those spoons on the wall as a decorative, artful treatment has no right to witness beauty in any of its form.

Anyone who cannot appreciate the ingenuity of hanging all those spoons on the wall as a decorative, artful treatment has no right to witness beauty in any of its form.

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Flower crab sarciado

17 11 2014

“WHAT DO you mean it doesn’t translate?!”  I remember saying to the TV – complete with hand gestures and a raised voice – when the Indian Chef Maya Kaimal was explaining to THE Martha Stewart that her Spinach Thoren dish doesn’t have an exact equivalent English name.  She was talking about the “thoren” part, obviously.  She went on to describe what it means, in length, but she lost me the moment the mustard seeds started popping upon hitting the heated oil.  I just thought that it sounded like a demigod’s name.

(Don’t get me wrong by the way.  I adore Maya Kaimal.  She’s a favorite.)

eNTeNG's flower crab sarciado, or simply, “Sarciadong Alimasag"

eNTeNG’s flower crab sarciado, or simply, “Sarciadong Alimasag”

 

I got reminded of this as I attempt to blog about my recipe for “Sarciadong Alimasag.”  The “alimasag” part is easy.  It translates to blue crab, or “flower crab,” as it is more popularly known here in Singapore.  The “sarciado,” I’m not quite sure of.  I consulted Google Translate, expecting that its “Detect Language” functionality would determine the provenance of the word to be Spanish.  I hit the button and it turned up to be – “Portugese.”  But it shares the same fate as thoren.  No direct translation.

Sarciadong Alimasag” is a dish from my childhood.  It is the fattest blue crabs cooked in a sauce made by sautéing finely minced root aromatics garlic and onions with lots of finely chopped fresh tomatoes.  The salty savory quality to the dish is achieved by adding soy sauce.  For balance – of texture and nutrients, I suppose – string beans are added.

The secret to this dish is using the freshest flower crabs possible.  Here in Singapore, I’ve bought these from the lowest end to the highest end of groceries, both ending in much disappointment.  The crabs – though female – were bereft of the prized roe and worse, frozen to the point that reduces the meat to a pulp.  That is, if you’d be lucky enough to find any meat at all.  So I did what any self–respecting culinarian does, get up at the crack of dawn and head to the nearest wet market where wild–caught seafood could be had, fresh from the shores.  They may be iced in transit but never frozen.

The only stall at the market that sells flower crabs!

The only stall at the market that sells flower crabs!

 

The blue crates hold these blue crabs (blue for blue... it matches!).  A total of five, each with a couple or three layers of crabs.  By the  time I got there, there was only one crate left, with only one layer!  My luck!

The blue crates hold these blue crabs (blue for blue… it matches!). A total of five, each with a couple or three layers of crabs. By the time I got there, there was only one crate left, with only one layer! My luck!

 

This flower crab was ready for its close-up.  And my purchase.

This flower crab was ready for its close-up. And my purchase.

 

There was a mad rush for the flower crabs, and understandably so.  All the Aunties and Uncles who were buying would ask for their purchases to be prepped.  But for me, I do it by myself.

There was a mad rush for the flower crabs, and understandably so. All the Aunties and Uncles who were buying would ask for their purchases to be prepped. But for me, I do it by myself.

 

Today, I may have woken up to the opening strains of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning,” but I’m blogging right now with The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” on heavy rotation in my head.  This batch turned out to be outstanding!

Here’s my recipe, kicked up a notch with the addition of a surprise twist.

 

Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil, a thin film on the pan

Garlic, 12 cloves (or to taste) finely minced

Onions, two medium–sized, finely minced

Tomatoes, four medium–sized, seeded, blanched, peeled, finely chopped

The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue, one heaping tablespoon

Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce, three tablespoons (or to taste)

Flower Crabs (Blue Crabs), fresh, wild–caught, 1 kg (SGD 13.00/kg)

String Beans (Long Beans), exactly 20, cut into 3” pieces

The usual root aromatics garlic (exactly 12 cloves) and onions (two medium–sized).

The usual root aromatics garlic (exactly 12 cloves) and onions (two medium–sized).

 

Four medium–sized tomatoes, already seeded, ready to be blanched, peeled and then finely chopped.

Four medium–sized tomatoes, already seeded, ready to be blanched, peeled and then finely chopped.

 

String beans (long beans), exactly 20, here already cut up into 3" pieces.

String beans (long beans), exactly 20, here already cut up into 3″ pieces.

 

Choose string beans (long beans) that are as thin as could be.  Reed-thin.

Choose string beans (long beans) that are as thin as could be. Reed-thin.

 

The onions and tomatoes already prepped.  Both should be chopped as fine as possible.   The garlic is saved, to be pressed fresh on top of the sauté.

The onions and tomatoes already prepped. Both should be chopped as fine as possible. The garlic is saved, to be pressed fresh on top of the sauté.

 

As a key learning from a company-sponsored cooking class I had attended, I have started blanching vegetables, as much as time would allow me, before I use them in my recipes.

As a key learning from a company-sponsored cooking class I had attended, I have started blanching vegetables, as much as time would allow me, before I use them in my recipes.

 

 

  1. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over low–medium flame.  I prefer to use the ones that are really wider than they are taller.  Add a thin film of the Bertolli® Classico “Mild Taste” Olive Oil or any vegetable oil.  In it, sauté the onions, then turn the heat low. Cover the pan to “sweat” the onions, about five minutes.
Step 1:  Sauté the finely minced onions over low–medium heat.

Step 1: Sauté the finely minced onions over low–medium heat.

 

  1. Once the onions have become soft and translucent, add the finely minced garlic.  I do so by pressing the garlic right over the pan, using my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.
Press the garlic right over the pan.  I use my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.

Press the garlic right over the pan. I use my handy–dandy IKEA® garlic press.

 

Look just how perfect the garlic comes out of this press!  #AWESOME!

Look just how perfect the garlic comes out of this press! #AWESOME!

 

  1. Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the finely chopped tomatoes that had first been seeded, blanched and then peeled. Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

 

Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

Turn the heat up to allow the tomatoes to breakdown into a sauce.

 

  1. After about five minutes, add The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue. Mix it well into the sauce.

 

This bottle of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue works wonders!

This bottle of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue works wonders!

 

This heaping tablespoon of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue lends a nutty, almost buttery goodness to the sauce.

This heaping tablespoon of The Blue Kitchen Pure Aligue lends a nutty, almost buttery goodness to the sauce.

 

  1. Season with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce. Add one to four tablespoons of water, as needed.
It's time for the soy sauce!  Lately, I've been in love with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce.

It’s time for the soy sauce! Lately, I’ve been in love with Woh Hup® Superior Dark Soy Sauce.

 

  1. Once the mixture comes back to the bubble, arrange on it the flower crabs (blue crabs). Put the lid back on.
These three flower crabs are huge that they hardly have enough room in my wide pan.

These three flower crabs are huge that they hardly have enough room in my wide pan.

 

  1. My pots and pans have tempered glass lids so I can see exactly what’s going on. But if yours aren’t, check the crabs after being cooked covered for six to 10 minutes.

 

  1. When the crabs have turned color completely, add the string beans. Three minutes after the dish has come back to the boil, turn the heat off.
Add the string beans (long beans), this time already blanched, just when the flower crabs have completely turned color.

Add the string beans (long beans), this time already blanched, just when the flower crabs have completely turned color.

 

  1. Sarciadong Alimasag” is ready to serve! In my case, with heaps of freshly cooked, steaming hot Japanese pearl rice.
“Sarciadong Alimasag” (flower crab sarciado) is ready!

“Sarciadong Alimasag” (flower crab sarciado) is ready!

 

Will you just look at that?!?!?!

Will you just look at that?!?!?!

 

Good thing I made lots of Japanese pearl rice!  Just a little of the crab fat, stained on this rice...  is gastronomic heaven.

Good thing I made lots of Japanese pearl rice! Just a little of the crab fat, stained on this rice… is gastronomic heaven.

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Making a list, checking it twice

16 11 2014

I’VE BEEN searching the Christmas shop window displays so much lately that I must have seen more windows than a Medieval artist working on stained glass.  Not that I’m complaining.  I guess the phrase “the most wonderful time of the year” also does apply to the visual feast that is the vitrines.  Besides, whatever retail therapy I do is in the pursuit of making someone happy, my contribution to a little more altruism in this world.

And I couldn’t think of any other better way to wait out an hour–long torrential downpour than in the confines of well–appointed shops, ensconced and out of the rain.

Blue is indeed the warmest color.  Louis Vuitton always does an excellent job dressing up their windows.  For this holiday season, it coincides with the Delphine Arnault–Nicolas Ghesquiere–initiated project dubbed “Celebrating Monogram,’ in commemoration of the house’s 160TH founding.  This is my favorite – “F.G.” stands for the iconoclast, THE Frank Gehry.

Blue is indeed the warmest color. Louis Vuitton always does an excellent job dressing up their windows. For this holiday season, it coincides with the Delphine Arnault–Nicolas Ghesquiere–initiated project dubbed “Celebrating Monogram,’ in commemoration of the house’s 160TH founding. This is my favorite – “F.G.” stands for the architecture iconoclast, THE Frank Gehry.

 

If there is ever any doubt as to who is paying homage to the monogram at this display.

If there is ever any doubt as to who is paying homage to the monogram at this display.

 

Frank Gehry's celebration of the monogram is structured, contemporary, cutting edge.  Much like the Fondation Louis Vuitton, this bag is a "cathedral of light" and a "miracle of intelligence, creativity, and technology."

Frank Gehry‘s celebration of the monogram is structured, contemporary, cutting edge. Much like the Fondation Louis Vuitton, this bag is a “cathedral of light” and a “miracle of intelligence, creativity, and technology.”

 

I know someone very close to me who will love everything on this display.  I’ve never been one to fall head over heels over Louis Vuitton.  But these, I’m feeling like I could love these too.  Okay, “like,” I mean I could like these too.

I know someone very close to me who will love everything on this display. I’ve never been one to fall head over heels over Louis Vuitton. But these, I’m feeling like I could love these too. Okay, “like,” I mean I could like these too.

 

This is Comme de Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo’s interpretation of the Louis Vuitton monogram, seen on someone who obviously doesn’t have any qualms snapping it up for the US$ 2790 price tag it commands.

This is Comme de GarçonsRei Kawakubo’s interpretation of the Louis Vuitton monogram, seen on someone who obviously doesn’t have any qualms snapping it up for the US$ 2790 price tag it commands.

 

Frank Gehry’s works dominate print media.  The Twisted Box monogram bag, which retails at US$ 4400, on a magazine ad, vis-à-vis Fondation Louis Vuitton, that “spaceship” that was dropped on to Paris.  Both of these are new testaments to Frank Gehry’s status as a truly legendary architect – small– and big–scale.

Frank Gehry’s works dominate print media. The Twisted Box monogram bag, which retails at US$ 4400, on a magazine ad, vis-à-vis Fondation Louis Vuitton, that “spaceship” that was dropped on to Paris. Both of these are new testaments to Frank Gehry’s status as a truly legendary architect – small– and big–scale.

 

The Mulberry Men’s signature Brynmore Tote in Black, Evergreen & Midnight Blue Reverse Small Grain bovine leather tote.  Someone on my list wants this for Christmas.  Haha!  It comes with an adjustable woven cross–body strap and a set of three of the brand’s signature postman’s locks.

The Mulberry Men’s signature Brynmore Tote in Black, Evergreen & Midnight Blue Reverse Small Grain bovine leather tote. Someone on my list wants this for Christmas. Haha! It comes with an adjustable woven cross–body strap and a set of three of the brand’s signature postman’s locks.

 

I love that the Mulberry Brynmore Tote has a buffed up (“finished”) inner leather.  It can be worn across the body, or carried by the leather handles.  Really in love with this one.

I love that the Mulberry Brynmore Tote has a buffed up (“finished”) inner leather. It can be worn across the body, or carried by the leather handles. Really in love with this one.  I should be.  It costs almost S$ 3000!

 

The Mulberry Brynmore – in the Tote and Slim Messenger incarnations – in Grey Soft Grain leather.  Be still my heart.

The Mulberry Brynmore – in the Tote and Slim Messenger incarnations – in Grey Soft Grain leather. Be still my heart.

 

I have no complaints with my decades–old carry–on luggage, but then I saw this Mulberry Oversized Bayswater in Oak Natural Leather.  I am seriously considering to switch.  This has got to be the perfect weekend duffel or business trip bag!  You can’t help but love the antique toned metal components and that iconic postman’s lock closure!

I have no complaints with my decades–old carry–on luggage, but then I saw this Mulberry Oversized Bayswater in Oak Natural Leather. I am seriously considering to switch. This has got to be the perfect weekend duffel or business trip bag! You can’t help but love the antique toned metal components and that iconic postman’s lock closure!

 

This year’s Takashimaya S.C. Christmas Tree is brought to you by Cartier!  To me, Takashimaya’s is arguably one of the best – if not the best – on Orchard Road.  Its lighting up is an event on its own.

This year’s Takashimaya S.C. Christmas Tree is brought to you by Cartier! To me, Takashimaya’s is arguably one of the best – if not the best – on Orchard Road. Its lighting up is an event on its own.

 

If there is ever any doubt as to who’s in charge with this year’s tree, all you need to do is look closely to see the signature red boxes or the brand’s monogram in gold.

If there is ever any doubt as to who’s in charge with this year’s tree, all you need to do is look closely to see the signature red boxes or the brand’s monogram in gold.

 

…Or, you can simply look up to see the storeys–high scroll that brandishes a signature timepiece from, yes, Cartier.  Look, up in the sky.  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  No, it’s the Ballon Bleu de Cartier!

…Or, you can simply look up to see the storeys–high scroll that brandishes a signature timepiece from, yes, Cartier. Look, up in the sky. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the Ballon Bleu de Cartier!

 

The other eye–catching Christmas tree is all–pink, also located at Takashimaya S.C., and is by Laduree.  Yes, purveyors of some of the most scrumptious Macarons De Paris!

The other eye–catching Christmas tree is all–pink, also located at Takashimaya S.C., and is by Laduree. Yes, purveyors of some of the most scrumptious Macarons De Paris!

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Ramen Quest: Nantsuttei Ramen at Orchard Central

9 11 2014

IN THIS age of globalization and melting pots – and foodies all around, myself included – it no longer comes as a surprise that with one look at the food you’ve ordered, you see beyond what the menu tells you and find the manifestation of a seeming microcosm of flavors and textures, almost deconstructed.  And almost equal parts groundbreaking and cliché as these flavors and textures burst on your mind before they even do in your mouth.

Nantsuttei Ramen's Negi Ramen.  This almost overflowing bowl is layer upon layer of flavors and textures.  And if I may add, colors!

Nantsuttei Ramen’s Negi Ramen. This almost overflowing bowl is layer upon layer of flavors and textures. And if I may add, colors!

 

Nantsuttei Ramen at Orchard Central, #07-12/13, 181 Orchard Road, Singapore 238896 takes pride not only in using the freshest but also – and seemingly, more importantly – the healthiest chickens in creating “a ramen with a purely chicken–based” broth with a touch of a “shiodare (salt sauce) base that is creamy with a touch of sweetness.”

I grew up believing that the authenticity of ramen is anchored on a broth made from simmering pork and pork bones for hours.  Nantsuttei clearly steers away from this norm, but the way they market their ramen unequivocally declares that the foundation of (their) awesome ramen is still the broth – only thing is, they have chicken, again only the healthiest, as its cornerstone.

I opted for the Negi Ramen (S$ 15.00), which is essentially the basic ramen but with a generous topping of negi (spring onions) served in two colors in two ways.  The white part is first cut into three–inch pieces before being shredded.  The green are chopped really thin.  Both are then piled high on top of the ramen that actually already fills the bowl to the rim.

Negi (spring onions, in two colors, two ways) generously tops two bowls of ramen.  Notice that my friend's has the requisite flavored egg.  But not mine.

Negi (spring onions, in two colors, two ways) generously tops two bowls of ramen. Notice that my friend’s has the requisite flavored egg. But not mine.

 

And that’s what your attention panning hits right past the pile of negi – the ramen noodles, the broth and the chasu (tenderly simmered pork) fill the bowl all the way to top.  But before I get to enjoy this rendition of a classic, I first have to pierce through the film of black ma–yu oil – my choice over the red oil – which is exactly a flavorful oil blend of high quality chicken fat and roasted negi.

I started by tasting the ramen noodles, first on their own.  I wish they were thinner that their medium thickness.  I wish that the doneness, which was something they don’t ask about at Nantsuttei, was very hard – almost raw.  But what the noodles lacked in texture, it more than made up for through coats of the black ma–yu oil, suffused and redolent with the sweetish robust aroma of slow–roasted garlic.

It is necessary to start enjoying the ramen – any ramen for that matter – by first tasting the noodles.  Notice how I have carefully moved the negi to one side while I fish out the noodles.

It is necessary to start enjoying the ramen – any ramen for that matter – by first tasting the noodles. Notice how I have carefully moved the negi to one side while I fish out the noodles.

 

I would leave the chasu soaking in the broth, simply for two reasons.  First, I’ve always approached my eating with thoughts of deconstruction – paring down, layer by layer, ingredient by ingredient.  Second, I believe that it allows the chasu to become more tender and more flavorful, the operative words being “soak up.”

In time, I got to the chasu and I finished the soup, my atonement for my gastronomic sins being the extremely generous side portion of fresh bean sprouts I asked for.

A bowl full of bean sprouts, also known as - for all intents and purposes – "atonement."

A bowl full of bean sprouts, also known as – for all intents and purposes – “atonement.”

 

How I ate my bowl of Negi Ramen is actually how Nantsuttei recommends it should be done.  While it wasn’t intentional on my part, somehow a thought bubble formed above my head saying, “I’m a good boy and I do as I am told.”  Haha.

Love it or hate it, a free lecture is always a good thing!  Haha!  I can do everything, except the slurp part.

Love it or hate it, a free lecture is always a good thing! Haha! I can do everything, except the slurp part.

 

Two big spoons, two big bowls, two huge appetites.

Two big spoons, two big bowls, two huge appetites.

 

My Malaysian BFF is back.  And so the gastronomic adventures resume!

My Malaysian BFF is back. And so the gastronomic adventures resume!

 

Malaysian BFF, thanks for this first in a series of your ramen recommendations!

Malaysian BFF, thanks for this first in a series of your ramen recommendations!

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Paved in luxury

7 11 2014

Luxury gleams on the world’s best shopping streetSOME SAY that luxury has lost its luster.  But all you need here in the Lion City is take a leisurely day of shopping on Orchard Road to see that it – luxury – has in fact lost none of its charms.

The façade of ION on Orchard.  I hear the word "ION" and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road.  So apt.

The façade of ION on Orchard. I hear the word “ION” and my senses are arrested by thoughts of a positive charge powering and energizing Orchard Road. So apt.

Leisurely’ is the operative word to guide the pace of shopping on this famed street.  While the sheer number of shopping options that dot the whole stretch may prove to be dizzyingly daunting to the faint of heart, the lineup of 22 shopping malls – the best of which house under one roof an eclectic mix that juxtaposes world-famous mainstream luxury brands with labels that have yet to garner the same global attention – and six departments stores could very well be the playground of the tasteful rich.  Think Aspen minus the snow.

This claim was all the more put to fore after Presence Mystery Shopping, a Paris-based marketing consultancy firm, revealed in 2012 that Singapore’s Orchard Road came out in first place on the list of the world’s best shopping streets.  The more seasoned in retail therapy would be quick to zoom in on the ranking and would be quite surprised to see that of the 29 other iconic shopping destinations on the short list, Orchard Road beat Paris’s Champs Elysées, 16th place, and New York’s 5th Avenue, 26th, by a wide margin.

ION Orchard on 2 Orchard Turn is “where it all comes together.”  Imposing at daylight when the rays of the sun hit the award-winning architectural latticework and more captivating at night time when the multi-sensory multi-media façade comes to life, ION Orchard has come to be the flagship of the Singapore shopping experience.  The play of lights and virtual short films on display perfectly set off a veritable marquee of who’s who in the world of fashion and style – Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana.  You can step into its cavernous space – eight levels of covetable brands – and instantly feel that if appearances alone make for the best shopping street, you could not be at any better place.  But then again, the street offers plenty of equally tempting choices.  So off you go.

Who again wears Prada?!

Who again wears Prada?!

 

A beanie by Louis Vuitton.  I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

A beanie by Louis Vuitton. I love how the Louis Vuitton logo is composed of the colors of the Philippine flag.

 

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard.  And it has to be said, beautifully so.  This one is the "BA PANDA", a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Like slices of medium rare lamb strewn atop mesclun greens, contemporary pieces of art are scattered all over ION on Orchard. And it has to be said, beautifully so. This one is the “BA PANDA“, a painted bronze sculpture, by Julien Marinetti.

Across the street from ION is Wisma Atria, fresh from a facelift in 2012 that welcomed the Tag Heuer flagship store to its fold.  Sharing equal billing on this strip is the eponymous fashion label Tory Burch, a name synonymous to preppy-bohemian chic, business savvy and philanthropy.  But before these brands bannered the new and improved Wisma Atria, it has long been anchored by one of its top tenants leading Japanese department store Isetan, the GAP, and Nike on two levels of athletic shoes and apparel love.  These and about a hundred other specialty stores are Wisma Atria’s claim to fashionista heaven – and haven – fame.

Blue is the warmest color.  And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

Blue is the warmest color. And it has always been synonymous with Wisma Atria.

 

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch's eponymous label.  There's no better address for one of the world's most powerful women.

The façade of the Wisma Atria store of Tory Burch‘s eponymous label. There’s no better address for one of the world’s most powerful women.

 

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

So, Matthew McConaughey is wearing HAMILTON in his latest movie INTERSTELLAR.

Further down Orchard Road is Ngee Ann City, the place where there is “something for everyone” beginning with the lovers of two of the most iconic names in the world of style and merchandising – Chanel and Takashimaya Department Store.  In keeping with the times, Chanel has just recently undergone a sprucing up and has come out fiercer in their window displays that marry the traditional (those quilted 2.55s will never go out of style) with the cutting edge (have you seen their mix of materials and the cute backpack?).  It has always been on a par with fellow tenant Louis Vuitton which in recent memory has enticed with their aviator-themed displays and collaboration with renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.  But still it is Takashimaya that anchors Ngee Ann City in its rightful place as a staple on the world’s best shopping avenue.

This photo doesn't convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time.  But I've come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

This photo doesn’t convey how compelling or I guess, inviting, the façade of Ngee Ann City is at night time. But I’ve come to love this snapshot as it shows how the trappings of luxury and modernity marry harmoniously with nature, quite evident with the number of trees that dot Orchard Road.

 

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

This leather bag sit unassumingly at the display window, until closer inspection reveals the impeccable craftsmanship that can only be Hermès.

 

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays.  They are a spectacle all their own.  Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

Louis Vuitton has always had amazing window displays. They are a spectacle all their own. Tells you that luxury is (should be) synonymous with high quality and work of art.

If it’s another layer of sophistication you’re after, then the Mandarin Gallery may just be the place for you.  Home to Bell & Ross and Montblanc, the place can surely remind you that there is a time for indulgence after all.  And it could very well be a handsome timepiece on your wrist, just what you need to time your pace as you check out the sartorial offerings at Paul Smith, Emporio Armani, Marc Jacobs and Y–3, just a few of the undoubtedly well-curated selections at this “gallery.”  If you feel like you’re starting to lug around more than you had initially hoped, a sturdy and well-crafted Mulberry might just be the bag you need – to carry your loot in style, as well as your daily essentials.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

Mandarin Gallery, with all its lighting treatment, is always a visual feast.

 

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

Coming from ION on Orchard, Mandarin Gallery is an array of namedroppables, beginning with EMPORIO ARMANI.

The attention-grabbing storeys-high LED screens that have shaped the Orchard Road skyline echo the recent influx of high-end mass-market labels to this center of luxury.  Abercrombie & Fitch and H&M – both of which opened to much fanfare and queuing frenzy – hog one of the belt’s busiest intersections, on the way to 313@somerset, the address Forever 21’s flagship store calls home.  At this mall, style of European provenance – Zara – stands vis-à-vis the fashion sensibility and multifarious offerings from the land of cherry blossoms – Uniqlo.

Crossing the street to our next stop!

Crossing the street to our next stop!

 

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd.  No matter what time of day.

Where there is H&M, there is a crowd. No matter what time of day.

 

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

The walk to 313@somerset on its own is paved in luxury of the gastronomique nature.

From the convergence of purveyors of style basics, it’s back to upmarket choices at luxury central Paragon Mall.  Mirroring the enticing sight that is ION Orchard, Paragon shimmers amidst this seeming paradise with its lit-up Miu Miu storefront, opposite from the virtually gilded Gucci façade that makes a case for that oft-spoken line “all that glitters is gold.”  Inside, its rather unassuming interiors belie the affluent choices that are bubbling to the surface, waiting to be consumed.  You see it in the perfect tailoring at Alfred Dunhill, and the exceptional pieces at Salvatore Ferragamo and Bulgari.

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays!  I see this and couldn't help but burst into song.  Though the weather outside is frightful...  Hahaha!

Paragon Mall is dressing up for the holidays! I see this and couldn’t help but burst into song. Though the weather outside is frightful… Hahaha!

 

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side...

Paragon Mall is framed by Miu Miu on one side…

 

...and by Gucci on the other.

…and by Gucci on the other.

 

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

The ROBINSONS Department Store building is a requisite stop too!

Appearances do seem to make for what the world calls as the best shopping street.  But with its wide open spaces, clean pavements and service staff with a ready, welcoming smile, Orchard Road clearly has one up against any other world-famous shopping haunt.

Here in the Lion City, these shopping malls fling their doors wide open to welcome you for the ultimate in luxury retail experience.  But while the images of multi-media wall screens and well-lit windows from the outside haven’t fully left your cerebellum convolutions, you soon realize that in their place is inching your own smile – brought about by a usual day at the mall turned into a pleasant multi-sensory jolt – that best speaks of the luxury that has not lost its luster.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Remembering Mommy

1 11 2014

THERE ARE moments in my childhood that have stayed with me for like, forever.  No matter how far my road leads me from where I started, I thank my memories for always bringing me back.

I am the self–proclaimed guardian of traditions – I almost said Galaxy! – when my brothers and I were little.  I participated in all the Roman Catholic feasts and I always tagged along with Mommy, my maternal grandmother.  We were together for Night Masses at Christmas time, and the procession at dawn on Easter Sunday.  On a day like today, November 1ST, we would’ve gotten up quite early to go to the cemetery to pay our respects at my grandfather’s tomb, which we would’ve tidied up a few days before.

It’s been a year and a half since she had passed.  And today I remember her.  Not that I don’t think about her often.  Because I still do.  And I do love the fact that I always see her in my dreams.  In all those dreams, I’d be very much aware that she is already gone – she actually points it out sometimes – but each has always been a cheerful meeting.

And like the proper lady that she has always been, she’d say towards the end, “I’ve got to go.”

I miss you, Mommy.

I travel with a number of choice photographs.  A couple of them are shown here.  That's favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren.  This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

I travel with a number of choice photographs. A couple of them are shown here. That’s favorite photo of Mommy, side by side with that of one of her great grandchildren. This was taken from my desk somewhere in Boise, Idaho.

 

My most recent quiet time with Mommy.  Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

My most recent quiet time with Mommy. Well, outside the realm of my dreams.

 

When I'd visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, "Anong relo suot mo?" ("What watch are you wearing?")  I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police.  I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

When I’d visit her before, she would make it a point to ask, “Anong relo suot mo?” (“What watch are you wearing?”) I know, she sounds like the Fashion Police. I know exactly which her favorite wrist watch was.

 

"Hi Mommy, I miss you.  By the way, it's a Technomarine I'm wearing to see you today."

“Hi Mommy, I miss you. By the way, it’s a Technomarine I’m wearing to see you today.”

 

"Mommy, let's take a selfie together."

“Mommy, let’s take a selfie together.”

 

“Well, it’s time to go, Mommy. I’ll see you again next time. Or let’s meet and chat again in my dreams!”

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Fresh greens to zoozh up the red

1 11 2014

I HAVE played with my angel hair pomodoro recipe so often that it has come to erase whatever iota of doubt I may have had towards the theological concept of reincarnation.

 

My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

My ANGEL HAIR POMODORO in one of its many incarnations, yet again.

I guess it is its simplicity that predisposes it to my fickle mindedness.  It calls for only a handful of ingredients – often always stocked up in my pantry and refrigerator crisper – that now it hardly feels like an actual recipe at all.  You can see just how often I have played with it by simply running a search in this blog.

Its latest manifestation calls for a generous sprinkling of fresh whole basil leaves.  This means cooking the sauce only up to the point when I will need to add the fresh basil leaves, which I would tear by hand (never chopped with a knife to prevent the blade from bruising this delicate herb).

What results from this change is a pasta dish with a balance so palpable that you’d savor the cooked goodness of fresh roma tomatoes that have broken down into the sauce, as the fresh basil leaves explode with freshness in your mouth with every crunch.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

Each forkful of this pasta dish is the perfect balance of al dente angel hair, perfectly cooked sauce of fresh roma tomatoes, and perfectly crunchy fresh basil leaves.

This is so good that I would never feel the need to reach for the wedge of Parmigiano–Reggiano and the vegetable peeler to shave paper–thin slivers of yumminess that can only come from hard, granular cheese from the area west of the river Reno.

It really doesn’t call for any added touch.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.

Having the basil still bright green adds to the enjoyment of having this angel hair pomodoro.

 

Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors.  Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Of course, the requisite aerial shot of this edible work of art, a play of colors, textures, and flavors. Parmigiano–Reggiano highly optional, totally unnecessary.

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.