24 September, 2009

Beijing Gong - Imperial Cuisine Fit For A King

Mentioned about Imperial Cuisine, and Buddha Jumps Over the Wall probably would be the first dish that comes to your mind – but thanks to Beijing Gong, one will be educated with the ‘real’ imperial dishes based on recipes once used in China’s imperial kitchen (FYI, the Royal Family do not consumed good food everyday).

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Take a step into the restaurant, and one will find it sparsely decorated with original paintings and calligraphy art.

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The place sits an estimate 30 pax, with a private room for another 10. The dinner (priced at $28, $38 and $48 per pax pending on the selection of the soup) started with the cold appetisers which could change daily.

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Visually, the Fermented Fried Mung Beans didn’t look too appetising, but taste wise; it was clean, simple and light on the palate, with a slight “beany” (for a lack of a better word) taste – whoever thought this was one of the dishes that Empress Cixi is actually fond of!

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Long Beans with Sesame Paste and Garlic was another simple dish made tasty. Cooked to a nice texture, however, HFB thought the sesame paste was slightly domineering.

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Who could figure these Carrots were thinly sliced by hands? Lightly stir-fried, one could literally ‘taste’ the deftly techniques by the chef – the 刀功 (knife skill) gave the usually plain carrot an extra crunchy edge in terms of texture.

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HFB found the Thin Sliced Pork Knuckle superbly executed. There was hardly a trance of oily aftertaste when one consumed this dish (the chef painstakingly steamed this dish numerous times, removing the layer of oil after each instance) and it disintegrated almost instantaneously upon touching one’s mouth.

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The Cabbage with Mustard was more of a love-hate affair. One either appreciate it, or don’t – unfortunately in this case, it was too peculiar for HFB – the sourness was too overpowering, although he would credit it as an excellent dish to open up one’s palate for the hot dishes that are coming up next.

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The Deep Fried Lotus Root with Chives was really enjoyable. The crunchy consistency coupled with the savoury chives (another love-hate ingredient) was a delight and if one enjoys 锅贴 (Chinese Pan-fried Dumplings), one will definitely love this!

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The next dish was the exotic Fish Lip with Shredded Sea Cucumber and Bamboo Shoots in Premium Soup (Dry Cured Chinese Bacon and Old Mother Hen). Squeamishly as it sounded, the fish lips were actually thinly shredded in the soup, and looked pretty much like the sea cucumber, except it had a bit more bite and a slight fishy hint.

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One of the non-authentic dishes that catered more to the enjoyment of our locals, the Deep Fried Sea-Prawns coated with Sweet and Sour Sauce was the crowd favourite. Nicely battered and immensely flavoured, the prawns were really fresh and retained that crunchy bite! Paired with the deep-fried thinly sliced veggies (hand-cut again), it provided a nice break from the lighter dishes earlier on.

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Another flavoursome dish was the Braised Beef Brisket. It was intense and the meat was really tender, with slight fibrous bite. Delicious!

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HFB loves Tofu, and their version was brilliant. The tofu was braised till it was soft and silky, and which its skin soaked up the flavours from the gravy. One could also taste the freshness of the tofu, and HFB loved it that the gravy was light on the palate and complemented the tofu really well.

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土豆丝 or Thinly Sliced Potato was probably the “cheapest” dish to be featured that evening – how much could potato possibly cost? However lightly stirred fried, this dish turned up to be a real gem, the dark house for the evening, and perhaps even the most under-rated dish one could ever try. Again, one was savouring the exquisite 刀功 of the chef. The dish was so enticing after one mouthful, that pretty soon; everyone was helping themselves to seconds for this dish. The firm, crunchy texture of the potato provided that alluring factor – this dish is amazingly addictive!

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And if one think such fare is too exotic for you during lunch time, Beijing Gong is currently offering a $10 lunch menu that consists of Chinese Dumplings and a bowl of Noodles (HFB tried the Braised Beef version). To be honest, HFB is not a big fan of Chinese noodles, but the beef was remarkably tender and the soup was intensely flavoured.

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However, what he enjoyed most was the dumplings that exploded with broth when he took a nibble at the dumpling skin, which was done just right – not too thick, yet firm enough not to break when one picked it up with chopsticks.

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To end of the night, we were introduced to Empress Dowager favourite dessert – the Imperial Yogurt. To be honest, HFB still couldn’t quite figure out why she even liked this dish – perhaps that’s why he remained a commoner. The smooth curd was slightly sour, but mostly tasteless and left a dry aftertaste on the palate.

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However, the saving grace at the end came in the form of Traditional Teochew Mooncakes that were hand-made only upon orders. White Lotus Paste-filling coupled with a sprinkle of Sesame Seeds at the top, gave the nicely flaky pastry – fresh from the oven – an added bonus! And since Mid Autumn Festival is just around the corner, Beijing Gong is also offering a box of four traditional mooncakes at $25.

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P/S: HFB already ordered 2 boxes! So what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Derek & Beijing Gong for their hospitality.

41 Kreta Ayer Road
Singapore 089003

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17 September, 2009

Standing Sushi Bar @ OUB Centre

Stand, order, and eat – sushi that is, where the seafood are flown in from Japan everyday. This Japanese dining concept by Standing Sushi Bar is geared towards the fast-paced environment of Shenton Way, where professional desire quality food at a snap of their fingers.

However, come dinner time, out comes the high chairs and the shop is turned over for “by reservation only” Omakase dinner ($50 per pax) – where dinners leave the selection of the evening’s menu to the chef and expect him to be innovative and surprising in them – which usually also includes the day’s best offerings.

First up, Japanese Sea Snails that was served chill. HFB absolutely digs shell food and this dish was excellent in many ways. The cold temperature succeeded in drawing out the natural sweetness and the firm chewy texture of the flesh. He could probably finished dozens easily.

The Hokkaido King Crab Leg with Home-made Miso was yet another simple but outstanding dish. The crab eluded a natural “sea flavour” that was appetising and the miso sauce was robust with flavour. The only drawback was that the sauce tended to overwhelm the natural taste of the crab.

Sashimi Moriwase consisted of Maguro (Tuna), Sake (Salmon), Mekajiki (Swordfish), Hamachi (Yellow Tail) and Hotate (Scallop). Fresh and came with good thickness – there was really nothing bad to pinpoint on. Worthy mention goes to the Hamachi Belly that was all natural Omega 3 goodness!

By now, HFB wasn’t surprised that the Karubi Beef Tataki with Bonito Flakes and Spring Onions was well executed. The marbling was great and the meat was succulent. The bonito flakes also provided a nice salty touch to the dish.

Served chilled as a palate cleanser, the Egg Plant with Light Soya Sauce came with a hint of Grated Ginger. Unless one is a fan of egg plant, it probably would be too squashy for you. Otherwise, HFB thought it did a good job in clearing the palates.

HFB loved soup and the Steamed Hotate Soup with Tofu didn’t disappoint. However, if one expected the scallop to taste as good, you will be disappointed since its essences were all captured nicely in the clear soup.

A sushi bar ain’t worthy to be addressed as one if there weren’t sushi offerings during the Omakase. Trio of Maguro, Hirame (Flat Fish) and Anago (Boiled Salt-water Eel) were presented and they were nothing short of excellence in terms of freshness. The boiled eel was remarkably exquisite and was only prevailed by that of HFB Tsukiji’s Sushi Dai experience.

Matcha Ice-cream with Green Tea Cake Roll and Red Bean Paste was the last order of the evening. The red bean paste was enjoyable, although one can probably grab the cake and ice-cream off the shelves of some reputable Japanese supermarket.

They say good things come in small packages and the evening's pleasant surprise was the offering of 3 complimentary thick cubes of Otoro, or Tuna Belly that was what's left for the day. WOOT!

Overall, it was an unexpectedly enjoyable dinner. HFB was really filled by the end of the meal, and the personalise touch of Chef Roy explaining each and every dish sums up the lovely evening. Next up, braving the Shenton Way lunch crowd for the REAL standing sushi experience!

Food: 4.5/5 (Good range and quality of hot and cold food)
Service: 3/5 (Service staff looks clueless at times)
Ambience: 4/5 (Cosy & quiet)
Price: 4/5 (Affordable for the quality of food served)
Total: 15.5/20
1 Raffles Place
#B1-02B OUB Centre
Singapore 048616

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11 September, 2009

HFB Makan Session V @ 1 Caramel - Sign Up NOW!!

Holler to all desserts lover!!! HFB Makan Session is back and he is sharing with his readers, the art of French patisserie techniques coupled with Japanese aesthetics @ 1 Caramel.

Venue: 1 Caramel, The Luxe, 6 Handy Road, #01-01A S(229234)
Date: 17 Sep (Thu)
Time: 7.00pm onwards
Price: $25.00 nett
Menu: 1 Starter, 1 Lite Main, 10 Dessert Samplers and 3 cups of tea
(Disclaimer: Photos you see below are the actual serving portion
and NOT the sampling portion)

Seats are limited to 30 pax so email HFB your Name, Contact Number, and No. of Pax to hisfoodblog@gmail.com today! Closing date for the sign up is 15 Sep (Tue). Looking forward to see you soon.

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Starter: Demitasse of Wild Mushroom Soup with Homemade Baguette

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Lite Mains: Home-made Archipelago Pizza (Choice of Margherita or Hawaiian)

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Degustation of Desserts Part 1
(Served with 1 cup of Geisha Blossom)

Light Italian Gateaux - Mascarpone and Ricotta Cheese Mousse with Pistachio, Chocolate Chip and Candied Citrus

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Lychee Rose - Lychee Rose Mousse with Juicy Lychee Jelly and Valrhona Ivory Chocolate Glaze

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Lemon Roulade - A Citrus Sponge Roll filled with Lemon Curd and a Light Mascarpone Cream

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Degustation of Desserts Part 2
(Served with 1 cup of Happy Birthday Tea)

Mango Mascarpone - Mascarpone Cheese Cream on Coconut Crumbled topped with Mango Compote

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Chocolate Berry Lust - Luscious layers of Valrhona Chocolate Ganache with Fresh Exotic Wild Berries laden of a bed of Pure Crunchy Hazelnut Mix

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Nid d'abeilles - Layers of Honey Chiboust Cream and Strawberry Jelly sandwiched with Crispy Almond Dacquoise

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Degustation of Desserts Part 3
(Served with 1 cup of Smoky Russian Tea)

Red Velvet - Moist Velvet Sponge with layers of Rich Dark Chocolate and Cherry Ganache

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Peanut Butter Cheese Tart - Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Tart with a hint of Lemon and a Crunchy layer of Hazelnut Praline

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Chocolate Praline Cake - Sinful Chocolate Cake with layers of Velvety Smooth Chocolate Ganache

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Hazelnut Orange Cake - Lovely Festive Cake with Mixed Spices and Roasted Hazelnuts with a Citrus Twist

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09 September, 2009

Ah Hoi's Kitchen @ Traders Hotel

Located at the poolside and rooftop garden level of Traders Hotel along Cuscaden Road, Ah Hoi’s Kitchen is widely decorated with dining accolades displayed proudly on its wall. Take a step into the restaurant and you are greeted with a casual, relaxed atmosphere – high ceiling fans, warm lighting and full glass panels.

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The dinner was underway with the Crispy Fried Homemade Beancurd ($6.00) coupled with Wasabi-mayo. Salted Egg Yolk along with Seafood and added crunchiness of the Water Chestnut – What’s not to love about this? Love it!

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The Doubled-boiled Duck with Black Dates and Peanut Soup ($8.00) reminded HFB of the typical type of soup that granny will boil during family dinner. Traditionally using Pork Ribs or Chicken, the chef decided to replace it with duck instead for an enhanced taste. The dates, wolfberries and peanut lend sweetness and natural goodness to the soup and the doubled-boiled technique ensures the essences of the ingredients are not loss during the process. HFB is a big fan of this warm hearty soup.

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HFB has absolutely no idea who “Ah Loong” is from the Ah Loong Paper Bag Chicken ($8.00) dish that the restaurant named after. And the only reference he had to this dish was from the Union Farm Eating House along Clementi Road some time back. He can’t say which is better, however, despite the limited reminiscence, Ah Hoi’s version is definitely less oily, and the meat more tendered.

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What’s neither French nor long, but green and crunchy? Kenya Bean Stir-fried with Crispy Silver Fish ($8.00) of course. It’s really crisp, with a lingering sweetness within, and comes with an addictive bite. The silver fish also provided that extra crunch and saltiness in tandem. This dish really stood out that evening despite its humble ingredients.

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At $72.00 per serving, customers are guaranteed a jumbo sized Sri Lankan Chilli Crab with Deep Fried Chinese Mantou.

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Estimated to weigh around 1.5kg thereabouts, the flesh of crustacean was firm with a slight sweet aftertaste – much expected from the Sri Lankan crabs as compared to the Indonesian counterparts.

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HFB didn’t like the fact that the sauce was starchy – but having said that, the sauce was still appetising enough to go with the mantou – although HFB still much preferred the mantou from Seafood Paradise.

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HungryGoWhere (HGW) Fried Rice - This was a $1 joint promotion between HGW and Ah Hois Kitchen. Truth to be told, you can’t complain much about anything that fills your tummy at $1 nowadays, even if the dish doesn’t come with seafood. Loved that the bean sprouts were crunchy! Heh.

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Supposedly their signatured dish, the Seafood Black Pepper Kway Teow ($15.00) came with nice Wok Hei flavour along with a unique robust taste from the black pepper. It was certainly an interesting dish coupled with plentiful ingredients, but HFB did find the dish slightly too salty for the palate. He would prefer the pepper flavour to take centre stage instead of the salt.

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The dinner drew to a close with the Chilled Mango Sago with Pomelo ($6.00). HFB like it for that the sweetness level was just nice for his palate – not overly sweet. The paste was rich in mango and a good balance of sago and pomelo.

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Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Hungrygowhere & Ah Hoi's Kitchen for their hospitality.

1A Cuscaden Road
4F Traders Hotel
Singapore 248716

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