A Roman invention so good my eyes rolled back in my head

15 03 2015

“SIR, WHAT you want is authentic Italian.  Our chef regrets that he would stick to our recipe and hopes you would consider trying it.”

Now if only every wait staff could feign rejection with an underhanded compliment like that – I do remember a half–smile cracking from the corner of her lips – then this world would be a much better place.  One turned down customer at a time.

A Roman invention tweaked so good, it has got to be the best I've ever had in the Lion City!

A Roman invention tweaked so good, it has got to be the best I’ve ever had in the Lion City!

 

Having had a lid put on my brewing revulsion towards the addition of cream into their Pasta Carbonara – not to mention the decidedly deliberate omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper – I allowed my slightly damaged ego to order the dish.

It came right after I had devoured a couple of starters – the Foie Gras, a Chef’s Exclusive, and the Thai Beef Salad – and with the first forkful gave me a gastronomic euphoria that screamed in my head so loud, I had unknowingly let out not a few scrumptious “moans”.  The decibel level seemed to have alienated – more like, embarrassed – all those at my table that they had considered moving away.

This place gets mad props from me on presentation.  This humongous pristine white plate dwarfs the sliver of pan-fried foie gras nestled on a piece of garlic toast, meant to be stained with the dried fruit compote and dusted with a little bread crumbs.

This place gets mad props from me on presentation. This humongous pristine white plate dwarfs the sliver of pan-fried foie gras nestled on a piece of garlic toast, meant to be stained with the dried fruit compote and dusted with a little bread crumbs.

 

 

Asia is represented in sporadic scatterings on the menu.  This Thai Beef Salad is redolent with the whiff of lemongrass and sweet basil, perfectly perfuming perfectly medium rare meat.

Asia is represented in sporadic scatterings on the menu. This Thai Beef Salad is redolent with the whiff of lemongrass and sweet basil, perfectly perfuming perfectly medium rare meat.

 

The screams would come with every bite so I knew that it could only be quieted down with succumbing to its whim – asking for a second portion.  Usually I would save any repeats to a subsequent visit.  But the craving was unrelenting, demanded by my synapses right there and then.

 

An attempt at flat lay on my Pasta Carbonara, which at first bite I knew would be the first of at least two.  Right there and right then!

An attempt at flat lay on my Pasta Carbonara, which at first bite I knew would be the first of at least two. Right there and right then!

 

Plate number two.  Flat lay number two.  This also came to be known as "Gone in 60 Seconds"!  Hahaha!

Plate number two. Flat lay number two. This also came to be known as “Gone in 60 Seconds”! Hahaha!

 

So I did, notwithstanding the wait staff’s eyeballs bulging out of their sockets.  Not that I needed those to remind me that I was probably having more than enough.  My S$ 80++ tab at the end of the meal told me that.

For the first time ever here in Singapore, I insisted on leaving a generous tip for the servers and pulled them aside to convey a very personal message: “Please tell the Chef that this has got to be the best Pasta Carbonara I have ever had islandwide.”  I have a very exacting recipe and expectation, so I felt pleasantly surprised to be so welcoming of change – to not be in control of what goes to my plate.

I didn’t mind the addition of the cream.  I loved having my palate wrapped in the comforting nuttiness of parmesan cheese redolent in the sauce.  I didn’t miss the black pepper.  I didn’t notice the parsley.

And most of all, I didn’t mind the bill.

P. Bistro Café (http://www.p-bistro.com/) is at 142 Owen Road Singapore 218941. Contact them at +65 6392 2333, or through info@p-bistro.com.

 

The very inviting, cozy bistro interiors greet you from the very moment you fling open the front door.

The very inviting, cozy bistro interiors greet you from the very moment you fling open the front door.

 

"Damn, girl, excuse my French."  The signage on the way to the upstairs sitting area.

“Damn, girl, excuse my French.” The signage on the way to the upstairs sitting area.

 

Everything on the Carbonara description on the menu earned a check from me – except the cream.  And yes, the omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Everything on the Carbonara description on the menu earned a check from me – except the cream. And yes, the omission of lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

 

Copyright © 2015 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





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.





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.





Fresh wild mushrooms with oyster sauce

29 10 2014

THERE COMES a time in a culinarian’s life when recipes he can put together on auto–pilot need to finally be committed to paper.  Or, a blog post.

One such time is when one of my dearest friends – all the way from the City of Trees – hit me up with, “Any ideas on what to do with fresh mushrooms?”

"What to do with fresh mushrooms?! "  Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

“What to do with fresh mushrooms?! ” Here is a pile of fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

 

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just...  gets me!

Something about the sight of a pile of fresh mushrooms always just… gets me!

 

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all.  Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

Slice the fresh shiitake mushrooms – caps, stems and all. Do the same for white button, Swiss brown, baby bellos, and creminis.

 

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

As will be mentioned in the recipe below, all – except the oyster variety – should be sliced.

 

I couldn't help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

I couldn’t help but take an aerial of this beautifully, randomly piled sliced fresh shiitakes.

This – not the mushroom cream sauce – first came to mind.

 

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

Garlic, six cloves (or to taste) finely minced

A medley of fresh wild mushrooms, 500 grams

Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® Oyster Sauce, two to three heaping tablespoons

 

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 finely minced garlic.  I go crazy with the garlic sometimes and it could be really strong.  So err on the side of caution.

Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.  I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).  At two vacuum–sealed packs at 250 grams each, we are talking about 500 grams of mushrooms.  But you know me, I do tend to go crazy sometimes with eyeballing stuff and I’d end up throwing in more than that – putting a huge dent on what should be for the following day’s menu.

Allow the mushrooms to get heated through without stirring.  Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.

At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.  It has always been Lee Kum Kee® or Woh Hup® with me.  But feel free to use any brand you prefer.  Two to three heaping tablespoons should do it.

Fresh mushrooms do not take long to cook.  So I guess this should take all of only 10 minutes from when the minced garlic hits the heated oil.

I have this with lots of steaming hot white jasmine rice or Japanese pearl rice and I’m tremendously pleased – both by how satisfying this simple meal is and how quick it took from stove to stomach.

"Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two."

“Once the garlic has (been) cooked through – I do not recommend browning the garlic at all – add the mushrooms in one layer as much as possible, or at most two.”

 

"I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk)."

“I usually go with a mix of “wild” mushrooms – white button, Swiss brown, shiitake, cremini, baby (porto)bellos, and rarely, I would throw in some oyster (still, the mushroom, not the mollusk).”

 

"Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up.  At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce."

“Once the sauté comes back to a sizzle, stir the whole thing to mix everything up. At this point, add the magic ingredient – really good oyster sauce.”

 

eNTeNG's Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

eNTeNG’s Mushrooms with Oyster Sauce is ready to be served!

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





Here for #28: NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City

28 10 2014

I NEED a really good lemon sorbet at this point, before I talk about the next ramen place on my quest.  That or a seat at the bar – right in front of the cooks – at NamNam Noodle Bar at Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-46/47, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103.

They can try but they can't take noodles away from me.  Haha!  This is NamNam Noodle Bar's “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

They can try but they can’t take noodles away from me. Haha! This is NamNam Noodle Bar’s “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90).

I can read the thought bubble above your head, “It is still noodles.”  Yes, but it is definitely a flavor 3368 km West Southwest of Japan.

I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to Vietnam.  Thankfully, its flavors are no stranger to me.  Unlike that of the Philippines’ (so far… it’ll change soon enough), the fate of Vietnamese cuisine isn’t one that has sent it to oblivion.  Rather, to me it stands proud as one of the more definitive Asian cuisines.

And wherever I go, I’d manage to find a Vietnamese place that captivates my palate – then my heart –   be in Folsom (California), Burlingame (California), Chicago, Boise, and of course, Manila.

I start with my Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90).  On to the inside of a crusty–outside–airy–inside single–serve French baguette, I asked for cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with their regular fixings pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

My Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) of choice (S$ 6.90) – cold cuts, caramelized five–spice pork belly, and chicken floss, smothered with pork pâté, mayonnaise, hot chilli peppers, pickled carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and lots of fresh cilantro, in a French baguette.

 

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food.  When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort.  If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would've hit it our of the ball park.

NamNam Noodle Bar prides itself for bringing in the taste of authentic Vietnamese street food. When the Banh Mi came in on this newspaper-print paper, in a wicker basket, I see the effort. If it were brought to me by a waiter on a high-speed motorbike, that would’ve hit it our of the ball park.

The flavors going into the sandwich are quite traditional but what sold me to this savoury combination is the five–spice powder (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel) that I highly suspect is used as a dry rub on the pork belly before it is either slow–roasted in the oven or braised on the stovetop to caramelized perfection.  It becomes fork tender and is the succulent star of this delectable, edible colonial influence.  In between bites, I’d sip my iced Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk (S$ 2.60).

I meant this pit stop as a respite from ramen – or, noodles in general.  So I thought all I needed was to finish my Bahn Mi and ignore the call of freshly cooked rice noodles in a broth that is equal parts rich– and clean–tasting, the layers of flavors mirrored by the layers of textures as thinly sliced white onions and a bunch of fresh herbs give off their crunch as your chewing finds its way to the tender beef slices.

But that wouldn’t be an eNTeNG thing to do.  Besides, I’d be totally remiss if I’d pass up on Vietnam’s ubiquitous culinary export – the Phở (or, pho).  I asked for the “Phở Beef Steak Slices” (S$ 8.90) which comes with the promise that the meat is served medium rare.  In my head, I went finger–snappin’ and head–bobbin’, almost singing, “That’s the way uh–huh uh–uh / I like it / uh–huh uh–huh, mashed up with…  “#Turnip for what?!”  Haha!

I squeezed the lime wedge into the broth, took a sip, closed my eyes, and savored the goodness.  I opened my eyes and knew that the world is as it should be.  Or maybe not.

I realized I should at least be wearing a nón lá – or be on a street somewhere in Hanoi – to be enjoying food this good.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

Seated by the bar, I had a full view of how my steaming hot bowl of “Phở Beef Steak Slices” was prepared.

 

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

I had my eye on the beef the whole time.

 

I'm amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs.  I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

I’m amazed at how much work is needed to fill a large pan like this with really thinly sliced onions and herbs. I just had to pile a lot of this into my “Phở Beef Steak Slices”!

 

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table.  And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough.  Check away!

I love the rustic feel this metal cup brings to the table. And the fact that it holds the order slip, which I do intend to go through completely soon enough. Check away!

 

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table!  The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

The “Phở Beef Steak Slices” bowl makes it to the table! The beef steak slices are medium rare as promised!

 

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

I asked a little fresh cilantro on the side from the young chef and this was how much he gave me!

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





Ramen Quest: DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining at Raffles City

27 10 2014

THE NEXT stop on my ramen quest is a place, yet again just a two–minute walking distance from the nearest train station, that it offers yet another clue to my steadily expanding girth.

In an island–state as tiny as Singapore, it is both utmost convenience and the bane of one’s existence that making it to your destination doesn’t offer the prospect of benefitting from at least a 20–minute brisk walk, the daily minimum the cardiologist recommends.

"Be still my heart.  Lately it's mind is all its own."  And head over heels over ramen!  Here is the classic one  I always order at DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.

“Be still my heart. Lately it’s mind is all its own.” And head over heels over ramen! Here is the classic one I always order at DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.

DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining at Raffles City Shopping Centre, #B1-13, 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103 promises a broth that’s thick and creamy, spiked with special homemade fish spices.  Any attempt to keep me from this – including lack of exercise – would be an exercise in futility.

The broth rivaled my forehead as it glistened under the intense table lighting.  It was slightly thick, not at all milky white, but quite flavorful, something that could only come from simmering pork and pork bones for hours.  The noodles would be what I’d call by now as of medium thickness.  I wish they were thinner.  I wish I had asked for more bamboo shoots, and had advised that I would be passing up on the flavored egg.  I swear, ignoring those egg halves surrounded by ramen noodles, conjured up a 27–year–old cinematic image that nagged inside my head with, “I’m not gonna be IGNORRRED!”  (Insert evil laughter here.)

After having consumed bowls and bowls of ramen, it has become necessary to order a side dish – of a less sinful provenance – as if it’s atonement for my gastronomic sins.  So I asked for silken tofu doused in a soya–based sauce, and topped with shards – no, pretty ribbons – of yummy bonito.  I swirled a little of the sauce in my mouth and espied a slight kick of mirin.

To atone for my sinful ramen cravings, I turn to tofu.  The bonito ribbons melt in the mouth into a salty, nutty goodness.

To atone for my sinful ramen cravings, I turn to tofu. The bonito ribbons melt in the mouth into a salty, nutty goodness.

For the tofu side alone, I’ve gone back to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining.  Clearly, this place was not gonna be ignored.  (Cue again the evil laughter.)  Sadly, the flavored egg, unlike the dining place, had met a different fate.

Welcome to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining!

Welcome to DAIKOKUYA Ramen Dining!

 

After a sinful dinner, the vicinity of DAIKOKUYA allows for some leisurely walk (or should it be "brisk"?) to burn some of the calories.  This store is a favorite.  Haha.

After a sinful dinner, the vicinity of DAIKOKUYA allows for some leisurely walk (or should it be “brisk”?) to burn some of the calories. This store is a favorite. Haha.

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