The years have fleeted by since my last attempt at a recipe post. However, due a change of circumstances, cooking has become more a viable option for me due to my 'dietary restrictions' (preferences more likely), and in order to make ends meet, sometimes one has to pick up the ole' whisk and ladle and get down and dirty.
In this edition of #SSkitchendisasters, S and I made our first attempt at our most critical subject, the ultimate burger, making everything from scratch in our tiny and insanely steamy kitchen. And this is what we came up with: Beef patty, caramelised onions, rocket, blue cheese sauce on homemade brioche buns. All this flanked by a side serve of chunky crisp spam fries and Sriracha mayonnaise.
Raising our bottles of Aspall's Imperial Cider to our lips, we ate like kings, lavishing in all the love on the plates. Then we tucked into the Hokkaido Cheesecake that I had slaved over earlier and peace was restored.
Recipe for the Brioche Burger buns are below in the case you want to go the extra mile in recreating your own Burger Night. Give it a go!
Let me first make a disclaimer; Chinese cuisine and it's intricacies are not and never will be my forte, hence my opinions are entirely subjective and very personal. But nevertheless, being an experimental diner, I was more than thrilled to be invited to Mouth Restaurant to taste the Treasure Pot Feast 九大簋盆菜.
Priced at just $31.80++/person for a party of 6-9 pax, the number scoops down to a low of $29.80++ when you round up more than 10 people for the feast. All this for a palatial and ostentatious 9 course meal fit for a king (promo last till 15th Dec'14). Story goes that the Treasure Pot Feast was invented in close resemblance to the common man's poon choi, but this one done with lavish intent.
We started off the meal with Steamed Shanghai Hairy Crab. Note that this was a replacement to the usual Suckling pig as denoted on the usual Treasure Pot Feast menu; however, Mouth Restaurant is currently having some promotion sets for the hairy crab that are worth checking out. Digging into the cream, roe-infested flesh of this hairy crustacean does set the tone for the meal. Succeeding in gearing the palate up for some culinary pampering.
The Early Days Shark Fin Soup was a well executed version with the extra bells and whistles contributed by the fine shreds of deep fried wanton skins placed on the side that provided texture; the brightening jolt of acid from the vinegar highlighting the affair.
The next dish is an ode to a classic old school dish of prawn toast. The Nostalgic Whole Prawn given a twist with the emergence of whole prawns instead of the conventional prawn mince used to adorn the normally dry door stopper like tiny toasts. A clever reinvention, revealing a dish that I'm sure would steal the hearts of the young and old alike.
The chef's fine-dining chops show on such preparations such as the Sauteed Asparagus with wild mushrooms in truffles. Heady with the aroma of the forest floor wafting through the dining room, I relinquished in the expert execution of this dish, from the crunchy asparagus to the tangle of mushrooms, all this gleaming from a thin coat of oil that gave the dish visual impact.
The next plate featured the traditional braised 'pi-pa' tofu. Deftly shaped in soup spoons, these elegant parcels of silken tofu, minced pork and prawn and other condiments were the epitome of Chinese comfort food emerging in more exquisite forms. It was delicious, enhanced by a crusty exterior that allowed for the salty brown sauce lathered over the top to adhere to it.
The star player of the line-up was undoubtedly the HK Temple Street claypot rice, that true to its form showed up in jaw-drop worthy moments as the gargantuan claypot lid was lifted up. It is a pleasant mix of tender juicy chicken, rice and other proverbial goodies. Dig into this with a generous dash of the garlic vinegar sauce for maximum utility.
But for me, the best dish of the day had to be the Sauteed Basil Grouper in 3 cups sauce. It's sprawling mermaid like stance in the deep bowl revealing hunks of meaty grouper lightly tossed in soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and Thai basil. I chopstick-ed my way through the cascading pyramid of succulent fish, followed bravely alongside Li Tian (dairy&cream) who gamely wrestled the fish head and carcass. Like a boss.
My least favourite dish of the spread came in the form of Braised trio Sea Treasure in Abalone sauce. Since I was not a big fan of either 魚鰾 or 海参, I struggled to find common grounds with the rest of the diners dishing out nothing but praises for this hot plate of delicacies.
Given how impressive the savouries were, we were looking forward to the desserts. The Double Boiled Ginger Tea with Glutinous Rice Balls did not disappoint; I sank deep into the recesses of my seat as I revelled in the warm syrupy sweetness of the ginger tea, the ridiculous burst of flavor from the sesame glutinous rice balls helping to break the monotony.
And if you're not watching your weight, keep a lookout for the cholesterol -busting Baked Salted Egg Yolk Buns. Fragrant, rich salted egg yolk custard is encased in flavorful pastry with a crisp top. Decadence that would cost you another hour on the treadmill if you're addicted. Don't say I didn't warn you. The Squid Ink Char Siew buns are a novelty item that is worth saving some tummy room for too.
New to the neighbourhood, Nickeldime has caused quite a stir with it's ominous 'B E E R' burlesque like signboard tempting the weak (like me) from across the road; the stark contrast between the religious ceremonies held at Novena church and the boisterous alcohol induced laughter at Nickeldime being somewhat of an ironic matter.. The owners are daring, let's give them that.
The latest venture by the hidden door concepts group, it is clear as day that the people responsible are not new to this business, flaunting credentials of a good line up of similar lifestyle and food concepts such as mu parlour, spathe public house, pigs fly kitchen + bar, lowereast side and Boathouse restaurant just to name a few. Like Spathe Public House, Nickeldime has a similar flair, the graffiti splashed across the brick walls a testimonial of its rebellion and its strive to be different. And, to be honest, they do a good job of it, bringing in craft beers that aren't your mainstream crowd and offering them, not in bottles but on tap!
After wishing, waiting, hoping for the menu to be finalised and manifest itself in front of us after numerous rounds of drinks that spanned 2 weeks. We finally got served.
Needless to say, I pulled a fast one on the burgers. Considering that many of them drew references to BEER, beer bread, beer braised pork, etc... it was love at first glance.
The 510 Burger ($18, +4 for pulled pork) was a vision that evoked food lust with immediate effect. Here, the burger touches familiar grounds with expertly seared beef patty's, perfectly seasoned to match up to the bold flavors contributed by the trio of IPA, Gouda and mozzarella cheese. But then the restaurant adds on, elaborates on and deviates from the norm with beer candied bacon, and fluffy soft handmade buns, crinkly and golden brown at its sloping edges that seals the deal for me. The additional pulled pork detonates in the stomach with its glorious burnt ends. Served with garlic fries that were a little limp but not entirely weightless; this burger scores high on the list of best burgers in town.
A little on the simpler side, the Jalapeno Burger ($15) was no less extravagant in flavor. Proving again with the patty, its absolutely consistency in its ability. The slightly vinegary jalapenos adding a fiery kick to the package.
I left Nickeldime Drafthouse not only feeling full but sated to say the least.
Will be back to work through the menu and more BEER for sure!
My first fall-out with Coco Ichibanya occurred at the Star Vista outlet a year ago where I was left to grapple with a pathetic sized pork cutlet and curry that was too watered down. Fast forward a year, to after this tasting, tables have turned, and now I can't stop thinking about it. Imagine a plate full of soft fragrant rice, a generous slab of golden brown and tender pork cutlet, grazed by lapping waves of a curry bobbing between sweet and slightly spicy, and dribbles of creamy cheese disguising its tenacious flavor profile within. That, my friends, is a potential source of addiction.
The Pork Cutlet Curry with Cheese ($14) may look bare but it's precise formula makes for one banging dish that satisfies all aspects of flavor cravings, the various textures appealing to the work worn me.
Across the table, the Creamed Mushroom Omelet Rice ($13) looked equally enticing with a barely cooked omelet topped with a gooey mushroom cream sauce and then the Japanese curry, filling in the gaps. Doubt anybody can say no to that.
Another stellar dish would be the Omelet Hashed Beef ($14) which my companion raved about. the generic curry given a twist here with a more fruit based and hence sweeter version that complimented the more pronounced flavors of the beef slices.
Coco Ichibanya located at Westgate Mall has done a major rebranding in this individual branch, positioning themselves to grasp the attention of the hipper cafe-hopping crowds in the vicinity. With that, pancakes have emerged as their signature items, and I was eager to try them out. We had the Banana Choco Pancake ($8.90) which turned out a bit drab, the pancakes noticeably dense and cakey, while the ice cream a tad icy in texture, not doing the dish any favours.
This slump may soften my recommendations but they weren't enough to knock any part of meal seriously off-track. The bad impression that concluded our dining experience, wiped out by the half dozen good ones that founded the meal, especially the one that didn't threaten to rip a large hole in our wallets. I devoured my meal with gusto and left the restaurant with an agreeable belly.
If you ask me what form of cuisine captures the best on camera. I would have to say hands down, brunch fare for sure!
On a recent media event held at Curbside Cafe & Wine Bar, we had the privilege of tasting a variety of items from the ala carte menu and I dug in with reckless abandon as I've never actually tasted most of the menu despite the couple of coffee runs I've made previously. FYI, curbside does one of the best coffees in the west in my opinion, guarded by a faithful dedication of bringing out the best in the 'already-superior' Yahava coffee beans.
The first to meet the panel of stringent judges at our table was the Buffalo Wings ($12), chicken wings tossed in homemade BBQ sauce. These were a little bit of a let-down as the wings which should have been deep fried to a golden brown prior to being tossed in the sauce was anaemic underneath its glossy brown sheath. The BBQ sauce was slightly off balanced, tipping the pyramid over with a generous amount of sweetness that succeeded in a resemblance to Sweet and Sour pork being drawn.
The Corned beef hash ($12) did not receive much positive feedback from the crew as well given it's over-salty complexion. Here's salt cured minced beef is fried with ham and chopped onions, this is then topped with two poached eggs and a side of sourdough toast. Honestly speaking, the hash could have used a little longer in the pan, a development of crisp browned crust around the edges crucial to elevating the dish beyond what it already is.
If you liked the Corned Beef Hash, you would also be okay with the Cheeseburger ($16) which is designed to satisfy and fill the peckish most likely to be nursing their weekend afternoon seats with a lukewarm coffee by their side. There is nothing that pops from its imagery, at least nothing compelling enough to make you want to devour the entire portion. Skip this.
A Cheesy Fried Chicken is the best possible thing you might score if only it were on the menu. A sizeable piece of deep fried chicken fillet is enhanced with a bubbly enrobing of melted cheese, accompanied by freshly made coleslaw, paprika dusted fries and a slice of garlic bread. This, being the only dish that the chef didn't go crazy with the salt, was the best received amongst others. Irregardless of that, still, an uninspired dish that is not befitting of the strong showing contributed by the excellent coffee standards here.
Belgian Beer Cafe
Rostang at the Atlantis
Almaz by Momo
Le Pain Quotidien
Lime Tree Cafe
Fundamentally-flawed is Lee Sihan. 26 going on 27, she is a dessert enthusiast,
food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef currently working in Sydney.
Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe
follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen