MARCH THROUGH THE LENS OF INSTAGRAM

It’s an open secret. I’m hooked on Instagram. Looking through the endless beautiful imageries inspire me look at things from different perspective when I shoot. There’s always something beautiful outside waiting to be frozen in time. Documenting my daily life via Instagram makes me happy, be it photographing something I experimented in my kitchen, snapping a bowl of my favourite wanton noodles from the hawker centre, or capturing something that caught my eye randomly.

“WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT I USE – I TELL THEM MY EYES.”
ANONYMOUS

MARCH FOOD TRAIL

The month of March went by like a whirlpool and April descended upon us before I can even catch my breath. Work front has been challenging hence blogging has taken a back seat. Feast on these series of food photographs for the time being till I get my blogging mojo back.

A BRAND NEW 2014

In a flash, 2013 whizzed past us and we are already in the midst of Feb. After multiple rounds of feasting during the lunar New Year period, my waistline is expanding horizontally at an alarming rate. 2014 also marked the end of my 4 years stay at the lovely Tiong Bahru enclave and a new beginning at Queenstown. Finally, a nest to call my own, after 6 months of intense house hunting, renovation, frenzy packing and unpacking. While I still miss my old walk-up apartment and the serenity of the old hood, Queenstown has its own unique quiet charm to boot.

Have a fabulous 2014 with lots of fun laughter and peace.

JINGLE BELL ROCK 2013

It’s the time of the year whereby I hide my weighing scale and bring on the binge. Christmas this year was a quiet affair minus the hardcore partying from my distant youth. The last I want to do is to jostle with the maddening crowd in town with screaming kids trying to drown out the sound of Xmas carols. A leisurely brunch at Anthesis in the day, a cookout at night with loved ones, watching HOME ALONE 2 rerun on telly, with laughter aplenty completed my Christmas day. I’m happy and contented.

Merry Xmas everyone and a Happy 2014 is just around the corner.

ASSEMBLY COFFEE

When the word ASSEMBLY is mentioned, memories of me fidgeting on the dirty concrete floor in the hot and stuffy school hall listening to sleep inducing speech from the principal flooded back to mind. Fast forward many years later, ASSEMBLY is now a 3rd wave coffee movement café aiming to elevate the status of coffee appreciation using locally roasted beans from Geisah Specialty Coffee and Liberty Coffee. While not exactly hipster-ville like Tiong Bahru or Jalan Besar, Evans Road has a tranquil feel without the throng of noisy kids, which is a blessing to my sanity.

My cuppa latte to kick start the day before gym is full bodied and smooth on the palate. The eggs benedicts provided my protein intake. The 2 eggs perched on top of ham and muffin has a wobbly soft boiled egg texture, unlike the usual more coagulated egg white with a strong vinegar after taste. Apart from espresso based coffee, there are other types of brew methods like V60 and Syphone to cater to hardcore coffee connoisseur. With limited kitchen facilities and equipment, expect the usual suspects of pastries and waffles to go with your cuppa Joe. My biggest grouse is the ergonomically challenged communal table which is too low for the bar stools used. Look past that and ASSEMBlY COFFEE is a charming little gathering spot for folks to share a common love for coffee.

ASSEMBLY COFFEE
26 Evans Road Singapore 259367
Tel: 6735 5647
Website: http://assembly.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/assemblycoffeesg

Opening Hours:
Tues to Thurs – 10am to 8pm
Fri to Sat – 9am to 10pm
Sun – 10am to 830pm
Closed on Mondays

CRYSTAL JADE GOLDEN PALACE CNY 2014 FESTIVE MENU PREVIEW

Christmas bells are still ringing, but CNY footstep is already hot on our heels. To usher in the Lunar New Year, Crystal Jade Golden Palace created an auspicious feast revolving around Health, Wealth and Prosperity using premium ingredients with a contemporary spin.

Yu Sheng, an indispensable dish is enjoyed by both the young and old during the festive period as it signifies prosperity and longevity. The Hearty Five Treasure Yu Sheng ($78.80 for a small serving and $128.80 for a large serving) made a successful return to the table after its debut 2 years ago. Apart from the colourful array of crunchy fresh vegetables, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, white sesame, peanuts and taro strips are generously tossed with a special blend of plum sauce and hazelnut oil to give it that fragrant nutty flavour. Premium amberjack and salmon further sweetened with mango strips and gold leaf flakes completes the luxurious touch.

The Deep-fried Japanese Amadai Fish sprinkled with Shichimi Powder ($5.50/37.5gm) is an expensive delicacy specially air flown from Japan. Uncommon in Singapore, the whole fish is deep fried with its scales on and dusted with a sweet and piquant blend of chilies, dried orange peel, peppercorns, sesame seeds, dried ginger and seaweed. It’s a pity the fish was a tad over fried which do not serve justice to its delicate flesh.

Seafood is also widely used in CNY dishes for auspicious reasons. Not forgetting the Dragon of the Sea, the Stewed Canadian Lobster in Superior Broth ($11/100gm) is the most ideal cooking style to savour the freshness of the succulent meat. The shellfish is first seared with hot oil to seal in the natural sweet flavour before simmering in a rich broth containing halibut, a flat fish. It is almost blasphemy to even think of drenching the crustacean in a cheese sauce and baking it.

At one glance, the Sautéed Kurobuta Pork Strips with Assorted Mushrooms and Capsicum ($32) might not raise an eyebrow. However, the simplicity of this pork dish is elevated with the use of cordycep flowers, subtly perfumed with aromatic organic raw extra virgin coconut oil. This won my vote for the night. All I wish for is a bowl of fluffy carbs to go with it.

Another dish worth mentioning is Braised Sea Cucumber and Scallop with Barley in Special Sauce ($38) The pearl barley is a wonderful substitute to rice as it soaked up the superior stock without turning mushy. The sautéed asparagus and corn added a fresh touch of colours and texture to this savoury dish.

The meal ended on a happy note with the Festive Trio of Black Eye Pea Cake ($25.80), Carrot Cake ($25.80) and Glutinous Rice Cake ($23.80). If your sweet tooth is still tingling with craving, its never too early to indulge in their Fortune Bo Lo Pineapple Tarts ($15.80 for the Abundance Pack, $17.80 for the Double Happiness and Classic Happiness Pack and $31.80 for the Happiness Quartet Pack)
A word of caution. These little nuggets are dangerously addictive and is detrimental to your diet plan.

Gallop into the year of the Horse with Crystal Jade unique festive menu from 20 December 2013 to 14 February 2014.

CRYSTAL JADE GOLDEN PALACE
290 Orchard Road
#05-22/24 Paragon
Singapore 238859
Tel: 6734 6866
Website: http://www.crystaljade.com

Many thanks to Samantha from Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts and JJ from Pinstripes Communications for the invitation.

BINCHO AT HUA BEE

When Hua Bee coffee shop rolled it’s shutter, a mini storm was stirred within the Tiong Bahru community. Many are saddened that the older establishments are slowly overtaken by the influx of newer lifestyle and F&B outlets, thus hastening the gentrification pace of the hood. It is heartening to see the new owner hotelier-restaurateur Loh Lik Peng’s breathing a breathe of fresh air into this 70 years old kopi-tiam under his Unlisted Collection with the opening of mod Yakitori joint Bincho (White Japanese charcoal).

In the day time, the mee pok auntie returns, serving her humble bowl of noodles to long-time die-hard fans. Coincidentally, Hua Bee was the film set of Eric Khoo’s indie film Mee Pok Man. The movie poster now hangs proudly on the wall next to the drinks stall. The front portion of the kopi tiam was spruced up with minor renovation to preserve the authentic feel of the place. Venture further in and the design scheme takes a futuristic turn with hues of copper and metal grilles finishing. Unwind at the cocktail bar serving over 30 labels of Japanese whiskies as well as some playful “Japertifs” sake and sochu based bespoke cocktails concocted by mixologist Stefan Ravalli of the secret bar THE LIBRARY.

Take a counter seat and watch the affable Chef Asai Masashi in action. Having worked at various Japanese restaurants in Singapore over the past 10 years, he is conversant in English and takes pride in explaining the ingredients and condiments used when serving the food which makes the dining experience more fun and educational. There is an ala carte menu. If you have trouble making up your mind, select from 3 omakase sets – Sakura ($50), Bincho ($80) and Miyabi (steamboat). The menu changes daily to feature fresh ingredients and to showcase an assortment of Chef Asai’s yakitori highlights such as appetisers, salads, soups, grilled meats and desserts.

We sampled the Sakura and Bincho sets which was just right for 2 person. Chicken meat is the key player here. Various parts ranging from breast, thigh to mince served with different condiments each has its own unique texture and taste, especially the miso paste that was cleverly infused with the citrusy fragrance and aromatic zest of Yuzu. The slightly tart and salty aftertaste compliments the grilled meat perfectly.

At the end of our fabulous meal, I went to dessert heaven with the amazing Amazake cheese cake (sake cheese cake) The different textures of the crusty biscuit base, soft and creamy cheese, topped with sake jelly worked harmoniously together. The subtle sake flavor also lingers after each bite.

Bincho is a secret hideout that won’t remain a secret for long.

HUA BEE
Blk 78 Moh Guan Terrace
#01-19 Singapore 160278
Tel: 6438 4567

Opening Hours:
Daily, except Mondays
Tues to Fri – 6pm to midnight
Sat and Sun – 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to midnight