13 December, 2011

Asian Food Channel's "Great Dinners of the World" premiering 13 Dec (Tue), 10pm

An Asian Food Channel (Ch435) original production, produced in collaboration with Pernod Ricard Malaysia (PRM), titled “Great Dinners of the World” will be premiering today (Yes, TODAY!!), Tuesday 13 December at 10.00pm, with every new episode premiering every Tuesday and Thursday at 10.00pm subsequently.

Great Dinners of the World

In the series, four rising stars of the Asian culinary scene find themselves transported to the foreign but culturally and historically rich Europe, and in addition to visiting the most picturesque chateaus, mouth-watering breweries and enchanting castles in France and Scotland, these four culinary maestros will be tossed out of their comfort zones and given the challenge of cooking up and delivering their signature Asian delights to their unsuspecting European guests of honour.

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Will they shock the foreign taste buds with Asia's exotic and spicy flavours or swiftly win over the hearts and palates of these overseas foodies?

HFB caught the screener of the first episode, and as a trained culinary professional, he had to say he was kept in his seat throughout the show – it was as though he could feel the adrenalin pumping, the heart-stopping actions and the excitement all the way through! If you are one of those who enjoy watching reality television programmes, or enjoy culinary series like Iron Chef, or Hell's Kitchen, you will grow to appreciate and enjoy this series.

A little about these four chefs:

Chef Sho Naganuma

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Chef Sho Naganuma is currently the Executive Chef of Hide Yamamoto, situated at Marina Bay Sands.

Chef Sho took his first step into the kitchen with his father at the tender age of six, who taught him how to prepare traditional Japanese dishes. His early experiences as a young boy in his home kitchen made a lasting impression on him and sparked an interest that became a life-long passion.

Chef Sho's food philosophy and style of cooking could best be described as “free” and "adventurous". Unhindered by the tried and tested, Chef Sho's experimental outlook in the kitchen is demonstrated by his unique contemporary take on traditional Japanese fare.

Chef Johnny Fua

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Malaysian Chef, Johnny Fua has a background in architecture, which he incorporates this experience into his dishes, by using clean lines when plating. Calm and structured in nature, he concentrates on expanding natural flavours while giving each ingredient its own unique identity.

Chef Johnny is the Executive Chef at Tanzini Restaurant located at G Tower, Kuala Lumpur. And at 38 years old, Chef Johnny is still relentless in expanding his knowledge of various cuisines, techniques and ingredients. Whether plating up classic Italian dishes or stirring up a storm with free form recipes drawing from his extensive culinary experiences and inspirations, Chef Johnny’s synergy of knowledge in architecture, passion for food and culinary art, transforms even the most basic of ingredients into distinct neo-cuisine, where each plate is treated as a work of art.

Chef Malcolm Goh

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Do not be fooled by Malaysian chef, Malcolm Goh’s mild-mannered demeanor; his infectious personality, outgoing nature and strong passion for food commands the kitchen.

Chef Malcolm has won countless awards and competitions to date, and won his most recent award at the Hong Kong International Culinary Classic 2011, winning the silver medal representing Berjaya University.

He currently holds the position of Culinary Executive/Supervising Chef at Berjaya University, teaching practical and theory classes as well as working as a Competitions Trainer.

Sherson Lian

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Malaysian cook, Sherson Lian is no stranger to the camera, starring in many popular television programmes in Malaysia. Recently, Sherson was a guest judge in reality programme Dapur Selebrity and is currently the host for Malaysia’s lifestyle cooking show 5 Rencah 5 Rasa.

Sherson also enjoys doing his part for the community, working as a team-building consultant for the Centre for Customer Care Malaysia (CCC) and leadership training camps for foundation students at Help College teaching character building. Outgoing by nature and filled with a thirst for adventure, Sherson believes in having fun in everything that he does and making the best of every situation, no matter how taxing.

So save the date, you would definitely want to sit down for this!

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High Tea @ The Moluccas Room

Set in the waterfront at The Shoppes of Marina Bay Sands, The Moluccas Room is named after the Maluku Islands, or the Spiced Islands, that is part of Indonesia, and is a contemporary and modern Indonesian restaurant featuring a unique marriage of authentic Indonesian flavours and Western cooking techniques. Helmed by Indonesian-born Executive Chef Alicia Tivey, whom HFB had an opportunity once to learn from her at Palate Sensation, The Moluccas Room has recently launched their High Tea service, which is available daily from 3pm to 6pm.

The Moluccas Room

The tasting session commenced with a fine selection of tea leaves that was specially crafted by Gryphon’s master tea blender. And HFB picked up a white tea termed as White Gingerlily, an organic White Peony Tea with Thai galangal and lemongrass that creates an aromatic and delicately balanced brew of floral and earthly tone. HFB appreciated the subtle hint of citrus finishing amidst the very mild and smoothing white tea.

The Moluccas Room (1)

The chocolate lovers could indulge in The Moluccas Chocolate Society ($28++ for 2 persons) which presented an array of dried fruits, gourmet nuts and Gula Melaka macaroons served with a spicy Belgian chocolate dip. While HFB wasn’t a keen fan of dried fruits and gourmet nuts, he was really impressed with the very rich chocolate dip that came with a tint of spiciness from the chilli.

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As for the gula melaka macaroons, what more could HFB say – truly a perfect marriage between the Asian ingredient and the French pastry. This was one of HFB’s favourite food offerings that afternoon. HFB looked forward to more adventurous and exciting Asian spices to pair with the macaroons in future!

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The other offering during the high tea, was the The Moluccas Posh Tea Society ($32++ for 2 persons). Besides gula melaka macaroons, it also came with 5 other canapé-sized offerings on the multi-tier stands, along with tea and coffee, which HFB thought was more value-for-money.

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The Lapis Legit, a traditional “thousand-layer” spiced cake delicacy, was really rich in flavours. Except it was a tad pity that it could make do with somewhat more butter as HFB found it modestly dry.

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HFB was a little discontented with the Battered Bitter Ballen. Not that it tasted terrible or anything, but in his own words, it was uninspiring and non-intriguing. It was literally a Western dish of mini croquette balls stuffed with creamy chicken ragout and béchamel sauce. HFB was secretly hoping that there was a twist to it, but it didn’t take place, or at least it wasn’t evident enough; there was nothing Indonesian about it.

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Thankfully, there was the Lemper Ayam to save the day. Traditional sticky rice with spiced chicken filling, it was nothing short of excellent! Nicely seasoned with a good balanced of flavours, the spiciness of the chicken paired brilliantly well with the sticky rice. HFB could definitely afford to pop a few more of these in his mouth.

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The Udang Serabi was another beloved with HFB. Prawn blinis served with homemade mayonnaise sauce. HFB loved the nicely spiced prawns! It was really addictive.

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This is the Martabak Telur Istimewa, a home-made pan-fried savoury egg pancakes served with special tangy & refreshing sauce. To be honest, HFB can’t really make out what was inside the filling of this dish. But HFB did vaguely remember it went well with the sauce.

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Also available during their high tea was the Sri Kaya Crème Brulee ($12++), coconut custard infused with pandan leaves and topped with Indonesian flavoured ice cream. HFB loved his crème brulee, and certainly Moluccas’ version suited his taste buds. Its texture was smooth and silky and the coconut cream went really well with the gula melaka. This was a pairing that wouldn’t go wrong.

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There were also ala carte desserts made available during tea time, and one of them was the Serabi ($12++), an Indonesian pancake served with creamy jackfruit pulps and drizzle of molten palm sugar syrup. HFB is not a huge enthusiast of jackfruit, and he also felt the pairing was a little odd, but nevertheless the pandan-flavoured pancake along with the sugar syrup was really yummy!

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But HFB’s ultimate favourite was Moluccas’ version of Pisang Saleh Coconut Milk Ice Cream ($12++). The grilled banana slices accompanied with the home-made rich coconut ice cream was a clear winner! Well-caramelised banana that was really sweet and flavourful, it went intensely well with the coconut ice cream.

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Overall, if you have some time and cash to burn for a slow afternoon high tea, why not give The Moluccas Room a try. HFB really loved the ambience and everyone enjoyed chit-chatting the afternoon away with their old and new-found friends during the session.

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karen, FoodNews and The Moluccas Room for their hospitality.

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09 December, 2011

Moët Hennessy iPad App - Flavours Asia

Most foodies would know the basic principles of wine pairing – red with red meat and white with white meat. And most would usually associate wines with Western or European cuisines. But to help altered this mindset and modernised the Asian culinary scene, Moët Hennessy had created a FREE iPad app, “Flavours Asia” (Note: You must be above 17 years old to download this application), based on their world renowned coffee table book, A Heavenly Wine Match with The Flavours of Asia (more on that later), to help foodies, like you and HFB, to decide which wine complements best with your favourite local Asian dishes.

Flavours Asia

HFB loved the fact the one can easily search for the information needed based on the categories listed in the app - Pairings with Wine and Pairings with Food. And HFB definitely loved the fact that the actual labels of the wine were displayed on the app, so that one would not have the excuse to say, “Which one eh?” when come faced with a rack full of bottles at the wine shop!

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Also try clicking on Brand Stories and it teaches you about the wine makers who create these outstanding wines. For those who wished to understand more in-depth details about the history, grape varieties, harvesting or bottling technique, this is the section created specially for you!

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The food pairings are listed according to different countries, different ingredients and different flavours. So go forth and search for your favourite wine now to go with your Chilli Crab, Bak Kut Teh, Thai Green Curry, etc, now!

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HFB was also told that the app would be updated every quarterly, so be prepped for up-to-date articles and news from some of Asia's finest sommeliers, chefs, and bloggers via this app. Yes, everyone can be a wine connoisseur!

And if that wasn’t enough of good news during this festive season, HFB will also be giving away FOUR copies of the coffee table book!!! Yes, you heard it right, FOUR copies of coffee table book that will come really handy this Christmas, New Year and even CNY period!

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All you have to do is:

1) Download the iPad app, and leave a comment on this blog post along with your name and email address, and tell me one wine and food pairing under “SINGAPORE” listed within the application. One submission per person. **10 Chances**

And/or (if you don't have an iPad)

2) Blog about this post and send me the link via comment on this post with your name and email address. Multiple submissions allowed. **5 Chances**


3) Share this post with others on Facebook and Twitter, and send me the URLs of the share (timestamp link) via comment on this post with your name and email address. Multiple submissions allowed. **1 Chance**

FOUR persons with the most chances will walk away with the coffee table book. In the event if there is a tie, HFB will do a random selection. Deadline for this contest is: 22 December (Thu) 2359hrs. This contest is open to readers residing in Singapore only. Winners will be contacted by email. All decisions made by HFB are final.

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14 November, 2011

Todai, Marina Bay Sands - The Mother of all Seafood Buffets

Name HFB a good buffet restaurant and most would churn out restaurants like The Line located at Shangri-La, Carousel found at Plaza Royal on Scotts or Greenhouse situated at Ritz-Carlton. However, with the entrance of Todai at Marina Bay Sands, HFB reckoned that this new kid on the block would give the more established buffet restaurants a run for their money.

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Described as “The Mother of all Seafood Buffets” by Elmer Dills, the famous Los Angeles food critic, Todai is an upscale international seafood and sushi buffet restaurant, which offers a wide selection of food that are considered Asian Fusion Entrees, as well as the most talk-about offering of all – the year round serving of Snow Crab Legs. Wow!

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HFB started with sushi counter and one interesting maki he spotted was the Kimchi Sushi, part of the offering from the Korean Festival Promotion. HFB was really impressed with the variety of sushi offered and he picked up a few that he fancied.

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What’s a buffet without the cold seafood counter? Over here, HFB was delighted with the offering of Oysters, Snow Crab Legs and Salmon Sashimi (belly please!). While he lingered around this section most of the time, there were few hitches that got to him. To begin with, although the oysters were free-flow, each customer was limited to two servings each round. While HFB used to enjoy two dozen or more oysters at The Line, he gave up after 3 rounds at Todai (i.e. half a dozen) – it was simply too bothersome to re-queue.

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Most of the Chefs behind the counters were Koreans, thus communication was an issue. While he did have his salmon belly the first time round, the next chef got no clue what he wanted and HFB gave up without a fight and settled for the norm – it was a little backbreaking conveying the message. While the snow crab was considered a highlight and a delicacy, it was taxing fiddling with it and the meat yield was just not worth the effort.

On a more positive note, there were some really interesting items they had on the hot section, which included the Korean BBQ Short Ribs and the Fried Ginseng. The short ribs were well marinated and packed with great flavours, imagined if it was a good-sized portion, it would have been divine!

Todai (5)

HFB found the fried ginseng pretty fascinating. Not something one would usually find in a buffet offering, the fried ginseng went well with the honey provided at the side, but otherwise an acquired dish that not everyone would truly take delight in. HFB also had a great time devouring the Grilled Shishamo. He probably swallowed a dozen, but he lost count.

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HFB fell in love with Todai’s Churrasco station. With different types and cuts of meat grilled on the spot, what one would have gotten would be a nice cut of warm meat well-rested and really juicy. This was one of the popular station, so be prepared to queue and wait. A word of advice – just grabbed whatever that was being offered at that particular instance and come back for different offerings thereafter – any attempt to converse with the chefs for a particular cut or type of meat was futile.

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As for desserts, HFB picked a few he fancied. Nothing he could pick on or woo him, except maybe the self-serviced soft ice cream machine where one got to churn their own sundae. The texture of the ice cream was pretty decent.

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Kinks aside, HFB reckoned Todai maintained a pretty high food standard throughout its various station offering and for those who enjoy a wide selection of food, perhaps it’s a good time to give Todai a try.

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Hoong An, HungryGoWhere and Todai for their hospitality.

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09 November, 2011

The White Rabbit @ Harding Road, Dempsey

The White Rabbit has established itself around the local modern-dining scene for quite sometime, and HFB was finally able to strike it off from his Gastronomic Wishlist (Yes, it has been updated).

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Housed in a beautifully-restored chapel located off Dempsey, HFB was totally wooed by its colonial charm of stained glass and high ceiling – though the neatly-rowed wooden tables and chairs kinda reminded him of the dining hall of Harry Potter, the movie. Heh!

The White Rabbit (1)

The tasting menu was a mixed selection of dishes from The White Rabbit’s Festive Menu starting from Dec 2011, and dinner commenced with the Assiette of Starter from the New Year’s Eve Menu. Diners can looked forward to the trio made of Foie Gras Parfait with Toasted Broiche and Shallot Marmalade, Pan Seared Scallop with Wakame Salad, as well as the Fresh Fig with Iberico Ham coupled with Assiette Parmesan & Rocket.

The White Rabbit

HFB was totally awed by the combination of fig and Iberico ham – it was certainly a marriage made in heaven as the sweetness of the fruit complemented really well with the savoury of the ham, as well as provided the needed texture for bite. Brilliant!

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HFB although a great fan of foie gras (apologies to animal lovers) is not a keen admirer of foie gras parfait. However, even he had to conclude that he was rightly intrigued by the shallot marmalade that went absolutely well with it. Nothing short of excellence here!

Any respectable restaurant should execute a seared scallop pretty neatly and The White Rabbit did just that. While there was nothing to pick on, there wasn’t anything novel to excite HFB’s palate with it. The scallop did retain its juiciness and the wakame provided the added texture to it.

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After sampling The Dining Room’s smashing Red Snapper Fillet, HFB’s expectation was slightly heighten when he noticed that there was a Champagne Poached Seabass on the tasting menu that comes with Mushroom Broth and Baby Vegetables. Under the Festive Degustation Menu, HFB thought the fish was nicely poached (by sous-vide method he presumed) and left a nice clean finishing on his palate. He also liked that there were lots of vegetables to match the dish. The only drawback was the mushroom broth, which HFB felt altered the texture of the seemingly crisp skin; mushroom foam perhaps might be more ideal, but he would never uncover the truth.

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HFB is not a keen fan of turkey because of the perceived dry nature of its meat. But if one executed it in sous-vide style; now that’s a different story! The White Rabbit’s version for its Festive Set Lunch Menu came in Roulade style and stuffed with Chestnut and Smoked Oyster and coupled with Cornbread & Sage on the side, and accompanied with Cranberry Sauce. Tender would be what HFB would describe it, and rightly so. Funnily though – either it was all chopped up, or maybe HFB didn’t really chew well before swallowing it – he tasted the chestnut stuffing but missed the smoked oyster within it. However, what really stood out for him was the supplement of cornbread and sage that he thought was utterly spectacular! Really palatable and provided a much-welcomed subtle sweetness that rounded the dish exceptionally.

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HFB would probably be crucified by The Marmalade Pantry’s ardent fans, but he stood by his conclusion that The White Rabbit’s offering of Sticky Date Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce offered during the Christmas Eve Dinner Menu more than outclassed the apparent (former) yardstick. It was moist, not too sweet and everything just fell in place marvellously. It’s been awhile since HFB enjoyed a really good Sticky Date Pudding, and he was glad he did.

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Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Cheryl and The Lo & Behold Group for their hospitality.

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02 November, 2011

Brunetti @ Tanglin Mall

Having visited Brunetti in Melbourne previously, HFB was really excited when they arrived at our shores. The part-alfresco 140-seater cafe in Singapore (one of the biggest HFB has seen) takes up the space formerly occupied by whimsical fusion restaurant Oomphatico's – and Brunetti was strategically born in Tanglin Mall!

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So if one asked me what were the similarities and differences between the café in Carlton, Melbourne, and the one at Tanglin Mall, HFB would say one of the similarities was the large collection of traditional European cakes on the counter displays. There were so many choices available, so much so that there was definitely something for everyone. As for the differences, Tanglin outlet actually offers an all day savoury selection of Italian food such as pasta and even sandwiches, something that was not offered in Melbourne.

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As for the layout – HFB felt Tanglin’s pastries displays were more subtle compared to Carlton, of which the latter was more of impactful, in-your-face kind, of capturing one’s attention when one enters the café. Unlike Carlton’s prominent long bar counters that churned out their nice coffee or amazing Italian Hot Chocolate (more on that later), Tanglin’s bar was disappointingly non-conspicuous.

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HFB tried the cioccolateria, or chocolate selection which was produced on site, and he was somewhat fascinated by the many colours and textures that greeted him. What he liked about them was they didn’t taste too sweet. He was pretty sure the heart-shaped creation would be a bestseller comes this Valentine’s Day.

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As for the Pasticceria, Brunetti’s cakes and desserts include a selection of Biscotti, Mignon (petit cakes), Cakes and Tarts, Danishes and Shortbreads. So basically customers have the option to have the same-flavoured cake in different serving sizes – Mignon, Sliced or Whole – totally awesome if one just wish to fill their tummy during tea-breaks or buy the whole cake for celebration.

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Similarly for the Macaroons, HFB loved the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. The texture of the shell was also smooth and light, with just a little chewy, thus in his opinion, giving TWG’s macaroons a run for the money.

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But the highlight of it all was HFB’s much missed Italian Hot Chocolate, which was so thick and robust in flavours, akin to drinking molten chocolate. Ask him one thing about Brunetti in Singapore, and he is more than glad to tell you the Italian Hot Chocolate was still as yummy.


And to quote him previously, “Brunetti’s version certainly etched deeply within him with its intense, thick, creamy – almost pudding like concoction. The way it coats your palate makes you aware you have had a lot of chocolate...almost to the point you have no clue you are purring! That was one helluva liquid chocolate!

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this was an invited taste test. HFB would also like to take this opportunity to thank Huntington Communications and Brunetti for their hospitality.

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