11 July, 2013

Restaurant Reviews and Promotion: Si Chuan Dou Hua "The Petites Selection" - Tapas-Sized Offerings

The leading ambassador of Sichuan cuisine, Si Chuan Dou Hua is set to tantalise your taste buds with their tongue-numbing “The Petites Selection” – a kaleidoscopic menu of 30 tapas-sized offerings from now till 31 July for lunch, dinner and high tea at all three outlets – PARKROYAL on Beach Road, PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road, Top of UOB Plaza.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (9)

Wine Pairing

Enjoy 5 Petites dishes and 2 wines for $55.
UOB cardmembers exclusive: $48 for the above promotion; or enjoy a complimentary bottle of wine with every order of 10 petites dishes, $8.80 each.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (10)

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (4)

Tea pairing with Imperial High Tea

Handcrafted dim sum, premium Chinese tea and 5 Petites dishes at $30++ per person
UOB cardmembers exclusive: Complimentary glass of wine

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (15)

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (5)

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (18)

Among the many exquisite dishes that were on the table that afternoon, HFB found himself delighted with a number of them. The Grilled Spicy Eel with Sichuan Pepper Sauce was one of them. Who would have thought this dish would worked so harmoniously? The flavours really completed each other and really heightened the taste of the dish. Be warned of the spicy pepper though!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (1)

The Diced Cod Fish with Dried Chilli was also another dish that hits all the right notes with HFB. Nice coated and deep fried to a crisp, the dried chilli really lifted the flavours of the cod fish.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (7)

One can’t really leave Si Chuan Dou Hua or in fact any Sichuan restaurant without savouring their Sliced Pork in Garlic and Chilli Sauce, 蒜泥白肉 (top right) unless one have a hot date right after the meal. This is awesomeness disguised in a dish that is packed full with flavours from the very aromatic garlic. Not forgetting the hint of spiciness that brings the dish to its fullness. Absolutely delightful!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (3)

Although HFB is not an avid supporter of sour dishes, the Chilled Sliced Radish wrapped with Sliced Carrot was a crowd favourite especially with the ladies. This labour intensive dish was a refreshing appetiser that ensures diner’s palate is ready for the other dishes ahead.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas

Also made available for tasting was the “Imperial High Tea”, and HFB really took delight with the Deep Fried Yam with Glutinous Rice Roll. The light subtle flavour from the yam was very smoothing and it marriage really well with the savoury of peanuts and Chinese sausage within. Not to mention brilliantly executed too!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (13)

The Steamed Dumpling with Dried Seafood was definitely well-suited for a savoury person like HFB. The skin was of the right thickness and packed rich with seafood goodness within.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (14)

Look out how cute these Deep Fried Potato Fritters are! Lovely wasn’t it?

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (17)

Nothing beats having homemade noodles. Si Chuan Dou Hua’s Dan Dan Noodles was really smooth and cooked to the right texture and the sauce was lip-smacking delicious!

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (19)

The Pumpkin Pan Cake was an apt finish to a really high quality meal. The skin is soft without being too chewy and the filling within is not overly sweet, and suits HFB tastebuds. And how can you not fall in love with the lovely cute pumpkin balls???

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (20)

Of course one can never leave Si Chuan Dou Hua without their signatured Soy Beancurd with Wolfberries, and neither could HFB.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (24)

May HFB add that their hand towel smells very nice too from lemongrass infusion? Very refreshing!!! Heh.

Si Chuan Dou Hua Tapas (21)

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited media tasting. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Si Chuan Dou Hua for their hospitality.

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31 May, 2013

Food Article: Are Singapore hawkers REALLY not Michelin-worthy?

This blogpost is HFB’s response to Hungrygowhere article on “Are Singapore hawkers not Michelin-worthy?”.

HFB believed we all agree most hawkers hone only specific skills and dishes throughout their career, perfecting that one dish that crowned them as local heroes, while most restaurant Michelin chefs are constantly coming up with seasonal delights and adding new dishes to their ever-expanding menu, hoping to WOW every walk-in customer with their gastronomical fare – molecular or not.

His Food Blog - Robuchon Media Tasting (18)

Having that badge of working in a fine-dining restaurant previously, HFB definitely appreciate the tons of hours put in to perfect every ingredient to a tee, every small details on the plating, every bit of sauce and dressing that goes on the food – all in the name of providing that so called “whole dining experience” that tickles your every palate – both sensual and visual – BUT charging you every bloody single $$$ that comes with it, of course!

His Food Blog - Robuchon Media Tasting (24)

That being said, every darn bit of time and effort, blood and sweat was spent perfecting that one craft that made a hawker legend into who he/she is today. It is also not uncommon to hear hawkers waking up at 3am to start their shift, so as to satisfy the breakfast crowd queuing up way before the shutters are up. A hawker might not be jack-of-all-trades, but he/she can definitely be master-of-one. Much like how the celebrated Joël Robuchon once lauded our local fishmongers that they fillet their fish with such speed and dexterity. That is the beauty of mastery!

His Food Blog - Pu Tien Summer Menu II (3)

Then it also boils down to the definition of “good”. What rocks HFB’s world may not be your cup of tea. Taste is always subjective. HFB might have tasted the world-renowned Nobu, Las Vegas (underwhelmed to say the least) recently, but inside his heart he was secretively craving for his bowl of Laksa or a plate of lard laden Fried Hokkien Mee and Char Kway Teow.

Michelin Guide

Ok, let’s just admit it now that the guide is not scaled towards hawker fare but restaurant setups. But HFB says forget about the coin, fork and spoon, price and comfort level!!

His Food Blog - Robuchon Media Tasting (2)

According to the guide, below are what the star symbolise:
- One star: "A very good restaurant in its category"
- Two stars: "Excellent cooking, worth a detour"
- Three stars: "Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey"

So that being that, there are definitely hawkers in HFB’s opinion that is definitely worth a special journey (in true local food guide context “Die, die must try!!”). Hands up if you have ever heard of people driving from one end of our island to the other ulu part just for some hawker kick? Two hands up then if perhaps you are the one doing it.

So Who’s Better?

In HFB’s opinion, hawker food is similar to mummy’s cooking – no amount of stars accolade can rival that special place in our hearts. It is comforting, and the one thing that HFB misses whenever he is out of town – not the Michelin star meals.

But to put things to perspective, let him quote a friend who mentioned, “It's hard to say who's better, it's just different and as a glutton I want both.” Well said.

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24 March, 2013

Recipes - Perfect Italiano Masterclass by Chef Lino Sauro, Gattopardo

This was a blog post that was supposedly due eons ago, and HFB could conveniently forget about it, but he had so much fun during the session that he had to share it with everyone. At the beginning of the month, he was invited along with several other bloggers to attend an exclusive Perfect Italiano Masterclass by Chef Lino Sauro from Gattopardo – to learn how to make simple and delicious dishes with Perfect Italiano cooking cheeses.

Perfect Italiano

We arrived at Palate Sensations Cooking School at Biopolis, and was quickly briefed on the three dishes that we would be attempting.

Perfect Italiano (1)
Why so serious Chef?

We started off with the Wanton Ravioli with Soya Marinated Prawns and Parmesan Fondue, and HFB have to say that this was easily the simplest and his favourite dish out of the trio. He could definitely foresee himself recreating this dish next time.

Perfect Italiano (2)

Ingredients (serves 4 pax)
10pcs Tiger prawns, halved
20g Light soya sauce
2 Garlic cloves, minced
30g Olive oil
1 stalk Spring onion
100g Perfect Italiano Parmesan Grated Cheese
110g Full cream milk
100g Unsalted butter
20g White wine
To taste White pepper
20pcs Wonton skin (square shape)

1. Peel and marinate prawns with soya, garlic, olive oil and spring onion.
2. Make Parmesan fondue by mixing Perfect Italiano Parmesan Grated Cheese, milk, butter and white wine.
3. Warm up mixture in a bain-marie till creamy and season with white pepper.
4. Fill wanton with prawn. Seal nicely with egg wash, and cook in boiling water for 2-3 mins.
5. Ladle fondue on plate and lay down the cooked ravioli.
6. Garnish with Perfect Italiano Parmesan Grated Cheese and spring onion.

Next up, Sushi Rice Roll with Mozzarella Cheese and Smoked Salmon – a fusion of East meets West.

Perfect Italiano (3)
Chef Lino contemplating who to throw his cucumber at, heh

Perfect Italiano (4)

Perfect Italiano (5)

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Ingredients (serves 4 pax)
4 sheets of nori (seaweed)
200g sushi rice, cooked
150g cured/smoked salmon
100g cucumber (cut into strips)
300g Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Grated Cheese
5g wasabi
200g mayonnaise

1. Place a sheet of nori on bamboo mat.
2. Distribute the rice evenly over the nori, leaving ¼ from top of the edge.
3. Lay down salmon, cucumber and Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Grated Cheese in the middle.
4. Hold on to the ends of the bamboo mat and roll, making sure that the ingredients are held inside it.
5. Remove bamboo mat and cut sushi roll.
6. Sprinkle the top of the sushi with more Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Grated Cheese and gratinate cheese in an oven till it melted.
7. Serve with mayonnaise and/or wasabi.

Chef Lino gave the last dish an Asian twist from his very own homemade recipe – the Deep Fried Potato with Mozzarella Cheese.

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Perfect Italiano (8)

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Chef Lino finally broke into a smile after much coaxing

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Ingredients (serves 4 pax)
400g potatoes
5g cinnamon powder
5g ground black pepper
5g curry powder
50g corn starch
50g onion (chopped)
2 eggs
4 garlic cloves
30g lemongrass (minced)
20g shallots (minced)
Lemon zest
200g Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Grated Cheese
300g Japanese breadcrumbs (panko)
Some oil to fry

1. Shred potatoes in food processor and place in strainer. Sprinkle with salt. Drain for 15 min.
2. Mix dry seasonings.
3 Squeeze potatoes dry and place in mixing bowl.
4. Add cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Add all remaining ingredients (except panko crumbs and oil) and mix well.
5. Add Perfect Italiano Mozzarella Grated Cheese. Drop a tablespoon mixture into the panko crumbs. Coat all the way around.
6. Heat oil in pan. Lower patties into oil and flatten patties with a spatula. Patties should be 2 inches across.
7. Fry until crisp and golden on the bottom. Fry the other side.
8. Drain the ready to serve. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

Overall, HFB had tons of fun from the cooking session and if you are keen to find out more about their products or other recipes, do visit Perfect Italiano website here.

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