28 October, 2009

The Cathay Restaurant - A Dash of Nostalgia

Did you know? When The Cathay Restaurant first opened in 1940, it served European fare and not Chinese cuisine. Its fame reached new heights when it re-opened in 1951 to serve mainly Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine.

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The restaurant was close in 1964, but re-opened once again on 27 January 2007, as the choice venue for exquisite Chinese food set amidst an ambience of understated elegance. It is now located at the level 2 of The Cathay, with a capacity of 200.

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HFB was greeted with a saucer of Deep-fried Silver Cod as a complimentary snack. Crispy with a hint of spiciness, it was a really addictive to nibble on.

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Dinner proper was started with the introduction of Cathay Twin Combination – Baked Sea Perch done Japanese-style with Egg White, and Smoked Duck Roll ($14.80++). While the former was well-executed – nicely baked and full-bodied with flavour, the latter paled in comparison – it was lacklustre and uninspiring.

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The highlight of the evening surely belonged to the acclaimed Double-boiled Shark’s Bone Cartilage with Bamboo Pith plus Shark's Fin in Spaghetti Squash ($28.00++). Painstakingly boiled for 8 hours to a milky white, the hearty soup came with big chunks of shark fins along with natural goodness of nutrients that are critical for bone and joint health (think glucosamine-like compounds). And if you thought that was all, feel free to shred the side of the hollowed spaghetti squash, which gave one strands of the fruit that resembled the Italian pasta. This soup alone is filling enough for a meal – so a portion to share might be ideal for two.

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Next up, the Baked King Prawn with Minced Meat done “Portuguese Style” ($12.80++) – and true to its cooking technique, the dish was characterised by its rich, filling and full-flavoured taste. However, HFB felt that the prawn was over-baked, thus the texture of its flesh was slightly dry.

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The scallop was of substantial size from the Braised Stuff Fresh Scallop with Prawn Paste in Crabmeat Sauce ($10.80++), and came coupled with a nice silky crab meat sauce. His only gripe was the prawn paste that tasted quite funky – which sparklette quite adequately described it as “those pseudo prawn/lobster balls you find at steamboat restaurants.” HFB agreed.

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The staple for the evening was XO Fried Rice ($8.00++) that came with generous servings of Scallops, Prawns, French Beans, Bean Sprouts and a dash of Ebiko, or Prawn Roe. The rice was thoroughly fried resulting in each grain being nicely coated with the XO sauce. HFB would prefer a stronger “Wok Hei” flavour, but otherwise still a respectable dish.

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An exquisite dessert, the Chilled Pumpkin Puree with Yam Ice Cream came in a Young Coconut shell ($6.00++). Nicely chilled with thick puree, HFB also thought the pumpkin and yam combined well.

Cathay Restaurant

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Kara, and The Cathay Restaurant for their hospitality.

2 Handy Road
#02-01, The Cathay
Singapore 229233

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21 October, 2009

B Restaurant @ Bellini Grande

A 50 seater brasserie sitting on the second storey of The Bellini Grande in Clarke Quay, B Restaurant, located at the former Crazy Horse, serves modern European cuisine daily.


With a dimly-lit, intimate interior with lush velvety furnishings the place looked suitably remarkable and alluring.


Helmed by the flair of Executive Chef Jeffrie Siew (formerly from the now defunct Corduroy & Finch), one thing that the establishment struck me was the service of the wait staffs. It was pretty obvious that they were well-trained – conscientious yet unimposing in a good way.


HFB found the complimentary bread elaborate, yes indeed, as it was an intricate roll of Foccacia stuffed with slivers of Zucchini, and topped with Parmesan Cheese and Wild Herbs. It helps that it was also served warm. Bravo!


Our shared appetisers consisted of one Salad of Seared Peppered Indonesian Yellow Fin Tuna Loin a la “nicoise” ($19.00), which HFB thought was nicely done – “clean” to the palate, with a hint of tanginess from the pepper.


The other being the Beef Carpaccio, Marinated Vegetables, Cucumber Spaghetti and Mini Greens ($18.00), nicely adored with spots of balsamic vinaigrette reduction at the side. The meat was really fresh and nicely sliced – but can’t they serve it in bigger slices? Anyhow, it also helped that HFB’s favourite rocket salad came with it.


HFB also had to himself, a serving of B Signature Cordon Bleu Crabmeat Soup with Tarragon ($14.00). Topped with a Sour Cream Foam, this was the highlight of the evening – probably one of the best soups that HFB had ever tasted! The fully flavoured bisque came with abundance of prized crabmeat that made the soup really appetising. In a blink of an eye, HFB generous bowl of soup was emptied. A quick check also revealed that everyone who ordered the soup mopped up theirs too! This is definitely a MUST TRY.


His main was that of Soy Glazed Fillet Atlantic Black Cod, Sauté Potatoes and Chardonnay Sauce, coupled with a Lasagne of Carrots, Eggplant, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Asparagus ($28.00). A little oxymoronic if HFB may sound, but the initial taste of the fish was fresh and smooth, yet rich and buttery on the aftertaste – everything good rolled into one at the same time. As of most cod fish dishes that leaned towards heavy on the palate, in this instance, the soy glazing helped to lighten it – thus making the dish pleasurable even towards the end. HFB hardly ordered a fish dish for main, but he was glad he did that night.


Since there were 7 of us at the dinner table, it wasn’t surprising that all 7 desserts found in the menu were fired away! French Cheeses with Grapes, Figs Compote & Biscuits ($18.00), would be an ideal dish to go with your wine, but unfortunately, HFB didn’t managed to sample any of it that evening.


Pineapple Raviolis, Pineapple Confit and Pineapple Sorbet ($12.00) – the fried pineapple ravioli was something interesting, however, HFB was misled that it was filled with Mango – turned out my portion was “stained” with the accompanied mango sauce, which he thought overwhelmed the dessert a little.


Another out of the ordinary dessert – B Signature Chocolate Chilli Tart & Butterscotch Almond Ice Cream ($12.00), came with a spicy smack at the end of it, which unfortunately HFB didn’t appreciate it.


A savoury plus sweet dessert, the Goat’s Cheese Brûlée, Fig Paste & Rosemary Ice Cream ($12.00) was another interesting concept. Nicely caramelised at the top with a tint of creamy goat’s cheese flavouring, it did just enough to separate itself from the boring norm.


Warm Sticky Dates Toffee Pudding & Toffee Ice Cream ($12.00) was a lovely marrying of hot and cold along with nicely executed texture of the pudding. It also helps that the euphoric sugar rush gave one great comfort!


Hot Liquid Chocolate Coulant with Passion Fruit Sorbet & Mango Sauce ($12.00) came with a lovely molten chocolate lava interior. Although it wasn’t bad, it was regrettably forgettable.


And for the fickle-minded, the restaurant even offered a B Brassiere Dessert Sampler ($15.00) where you can savour each and every dessert mentioned above.


Overall, taking into consideration all aspects – price, service, food and ambience, HFB strongly felt that B restaurant is seriously undervalued. Highly recommended for couples who are looking for a good place to dine at decent prices with great ambience and service – this place is probably the “Find of The Year” for HFB!


Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Hoong An, Hungrygowhere and Chef Jeffrie Siew, B Restaurant for their hospitality.

3B River Valley Road
#01-01, 2nd Level The Foundry,
Clarke Quay
Singapore 179021

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14 October, 2009

Advertorial: Julie & Julia Media Class @ Palate Sensations Cooking School with Chef Alicia Tivey

Just as Julia Childs took her cooking lessons from Le Cordon Bleu, HFB along with My Wok Life & ieatishootipost were invited to participate in a cook-off session at Palate Sensations Cooking School, as part of the launch for Julie & Julia movie.
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Our mission – to learn the ropes of some dishes that were featured in the film, under the tutorage of Chef Alicia Tivey, who once honed her skills at the world-renowned Tetsuya’s Restaurant, Sydney.
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The first half an hour or so were spent observing the cooking demonstration by Alicia, and first up was Tomato Bruschetta. HFB was craving for this dish after seeing the movie!
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A more Italian than French dish, a good tip that HFB picked up was to pre-make some peeled Garlic Cloves immersed with olive oil, and cooked in the oven in 140 °C for 2 hours – these soften garlic cloves would then be used for rubbing onto the toast bread – giving it an enhanced flavour.
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We were also taught of the different types of tomatoes we could use as toppings – the peeled version, the unpeeled version, and even using Cherry Tomatoes!
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And if you are adventurous enough, you can opt to follow Julie character in the early scenes of the movie and fry the bread in olive oil in a pan before adding the tomatoes and garlic. However, HFB thought that was too greasy for his liking.
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Granny Smith Green Apples are the preferred for the Apple Tarte Tatin, or Upside Down Apple Tart although one could use Pear as a substitute. Peeled, halved and cored the apples, while you spread a thick layer of butter over the skillet (although a copper tarte tatin mold will be perfect, as recommended by Susan Spungen who developed the recipe for the movie) and pour sugar evenly over bottom.
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Once sugar is melted, arrange as many apples as possible in the skillet, cooking it over moderately high heat.
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Juices should be deep golden and bubbling (estimate 18-25 minutes).
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Once caramelised process has completed, lay the pastry over the apples, trimming it according to the circumference of the pan, and baked it for about 10-15 minutes, until pastry is browned.
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Transfer the skillet to a rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. One can opt to top it with Vanilla Ice Cream or Cream Fraiche if desires. HMmmmm… looks just as good as the movie when Julia character flipped it over!
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Finally, we observed the steps for making the Hollandaise Sauce. One important thing to remember is to use unsalted butter – since almost half a block of butter is needed with every 4 eggs.
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An important tip when poaching an egg is to crack the egg right above the water so that the egg white will form a nice layer around the egg yolk. Of course the other tip, according to Julia character, is to get the right eggs – very, very fresh eggs. Do also remember to add a splash of White Vinegar and stir the water (two to three inches deep as recommended by Julia character) before the egg is crack – this would ensure one gets a nicely poached egg.
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We spent the next one hour or so creating havoc in the kitchen trying to remember the steps and preparing our own food. In an instance, HFB felt like he was transformed to a male version of Julie Powell, a food blogger cooking in a kitchen. And after much effort, it all comes down to the moment we have all been waiting for – sampling our very own masterpieces! Heh.
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Overall, it was a really an eye-opener and a wonderful experience. HFB cannot wait to master Beef Bourguignon next!

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08 October, 2009

Advertorial: Julie & Julia (2009) – A Movie Review

A romantic drama set back and forth in 1950s, Paris, and post 9/11 in New York City, this movie is based on two true stories of two individual woman – Julie Powell, and Julia Child – whose lives were intertwined through the love of culinary, despite the disparity of time and space. However, through time, both discovered that with the right ingredients of passion, ambition, and lots of butter, all things are possible!

Convincingly starring Meryl Streep as the celebrated chef, Julia Child, who never failed to tingle the hearts of the audiences with her heart-warming character and delightful assortments of high-pitched diction. One would also be inspired by her never-say-die attitude – to be the first American woman to study at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. Her tenacious approach in spending years co-writing the much distinguished cook book – Mastering the Art of French Cooking was also much applauded.

The concurrent storyline tracked Julie Powell (Amy Adams) who found her perfect outlet from her stressful job, a call centre operator for the redevelopment of WTC – that’s right, through cooking! Revealed as a huge fan of Child’s, Julie devoted 365 days to cooking all 524 recipes found in the cook book and documenting it on her blog. And like her idol, she found eventual success - through her blog, became a book author, and finally a movie made about her.

HFB truly enjoyed the show – for both as a foodie and a blogger, he could absolutely identify the emotional rollercoaster conveyed by both characters at different stages of their lives – cooking and blogging as a form of therapeutic release from the mundane everyday life, suffering meltdowns when the recipes did not turn up the way it should be, getting his first comments on this blog, and securing his first interview with the mainstream media.

Julie & Julia
So if you are foodie and you blog, this movie will definitely keep you glued to your seat. A 4.5 out of 5 yummy Beef Bourguignon!

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05 October, 2009

HFB Makan Session VI - Singles Only Event @ Standing Sushi Bar

HFB Makan Session VI

Join us as you step out of your comfort zone and mingle with the rest of the single foodies, who are equally fun and sociable at the Standing Sushi Bar on a lovely Saturday evening on 24 Oct.

What’s more, there’s going to be free-flow of delectable Japanese food at an attractive price of $40 nett, (think Sushi Nigiri, Handroll, Maki, etc) coupled with a conducive interacting environment and booze at Happy Hour prices throughout the event (disclaimer: if you drink, do not drive).

However, do note that this is a 25 y.o and above event, and you do need to furbish your name, gender, mobile, email, date of birth, occupation and no. of pax (do provide corresponding information of your friends too) to hisfoodblog@gmail.com no later than 21 Oct (Wed). Seats are limited so do register early to confirm your places today!

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01 October, 2009

Photos from HFB Makan Session V @ 1 Caramel

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