Everything Else, Food Hunter

Hainanese Delicacy Chicken Rice @ Far East Plaza

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Apologies for the lack of post recently! Our tyftfwe friends have been busy lately to let you in on our food and baking adventures!

Food is one of the way to catch up with friends and instead of a cafe, the classic dish of Hainanese Chicken rice was chosen. Conveniently located in town, office people would be seen queuing for this during lunch time. 

One of the reasons is because its reasonably-priced and fuss-free. The chicken was tasty and tender. The rice was fragrant but I found it to be a bit on the oily side. The chilli sauce was not too spicy but just right. Plus it always goes well with a plate of green vegetables topped with fried shallots.

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But was this worth the wait and queue? Its a yes and no, as I have tried other better chicken rice before but this still taste above the average. However, what I found quite interesting was the atmosphere sitting within a narrow corridor, eating out of a hole-in-a-wall and having to share tables with strangers. A mix of English, Cantonese, Hainanese and Mandarin conversations gets peppered across the shop making it quite a lively space.

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Food Hunter

Tokyo Pasta Mario @ Wisma Atria, Food Republic

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Scallop | Bacon | Spinach | Dry Sakura Prawn | Cheese| Linguine pasta

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Chicken Okura | Onsen egg | Japanese Mentaiko | Ladyfinger | Seaweed | Linguine pasta

I always had the perception that food courts do not do a good job with Western food or pasta in particular. Their range usually goes as far as to only have carbonara and bolognese. But I was wrong after trying Tokyo Pasta Mario.

Their pasta is done in a fusion of Italian and Japanese style and I found it to taste better than other mid range pasta places. What is great about their food is that it is priced reasonably between $6.80 – $9.80! They also serve Japanese teppanyaki and pizzas too.

On my first try, I had the Scallop, Bacon & Spinach Pasta with Dry Sakura Prawn topping ($7.80). Presented in a big plate, it felt as though I had ordered something from a restaurant. The pasta was tossed in an aglio olio style and there was a slight olive oil taste. The mix of the sakura prawn, the salty taste of the bacon and spinach matched pretty well together with the fresh seared scallop pieces (though I love for the scallop to be bigger). Plus, the pasta was cooked al dente which was quite rare in a food court!

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On my second visit, I had the Chicken Okura with Onsen egg in Japanese Mentaiko ($7.80). After giving it a good toss with the onsen egg, the noodle became thick in the egg sauce and mentaiko (marinated pollock roe). It almost had a similar resemblance to carbonara with a hint of the pollock roe’s taste. The chicken was lightly pan-fried, but I do think that was done so as to allow for the sauce to be more prominent. The ladyfinger was quite a weird combo in the noodle but I’m not complaining since I get to have some greens in my food! 

Comparing between the two, I preferred the scallop pasta because it had more ingredients and it did not feel too heavy on the stomach after eating it. However, some guys might find the pasta portion a bit too little for them. But I still think that their pasta is worth a shot to try!

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Food Hunter

Toss & Turn @ Ion Orchard

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Before an extensive 4k walk to church, I wanted to pack some healthy food for dinner and was craving for a good sandwich and salad. Having passed by this place a couple of time, I decide to try Toss & Turn, a soup and salad bar by Cedele.

Packed in a designer style wrapper, the combo was a mixed grain loaf with chicken avocado and with a side salad.  One bite and you get the flavours from the roasted chicken and the freshness of the vegetables. The avocado had a slight sweetness to it and the good thing about it was that it was slightly mashed and not too chunky on the mouth. 

On the other hand, the salad was piled with lots of goodness; edamame beans, purple and green lettuce, carrots and croutons. The plus to it was the free flow sunflower seeds and pomegranate dressing that I could add to my salad from their counter. The pairing of the sweet and light dressing with the sunflower seeds and the croutons added a nice dimension and texture to the crunchiness of the salad. If you think that pomegranate dressing is too wild for your taste bud, the counter also serves other types of dressings, like the usual Caesar, Thousand Island to the fruity or less heavy kind for the salad.

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I was surprised that the portion of the food left me feeling quite full from the hearty meal! Judging by the stream of people that visit this outlet from office people to school going students, it seems to hit the right notes to appeal to people to eat their greens. I even went back a second time to try to create my own salad to take-away.

However, their service was a let down as I was kept waiting at the cashier while the staff was busy minding other customers and errands. While the regular salad portion was huge, their food prices is a bit steep ($9 for a regular bowl, $7.80 for half a bowl) just for greens and I think having it too many times seems like high maintenance? Maybe I’ll stick to buying fresh veggies from the supermarket and tossing them myself.

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Food Hunter

MEDZ @ Millenia Walk

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If you have been to Marche, MEDZ offers a similar concept with a wider range of cuisines. Not only do you get Western food, there is French, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Spanish. A dessert bar and a selection of beer and cider is also included in the menu. Among the things my friends and I had, we had the rosti, moroccan chicken with couscous, carbonara and the octopus squid ink paella.

Having travelled to Spain and Italy, I had certain expectations of squid ink and paella as separate entities. But I was being too adventurous that day and chose from their menu the squid ink paella with octopus and pork. My paella came with lots off round blops in my plate and I soon realised that it was small octopus the size of fishballs. Honestly, I freaked out a bit at the sight of the “little creatures” because you could make out the whole body with its mantle and tenticles  still intact.

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So with my game face on, I ate the octopus as a whole. The texture was rather chewy and my thoughts went into a bit of an overdrive of whether something will burst out of its mantle. They were quite generous in their servings that I had to give away some the octopus (or rather I did not want to see anymore blops). I felt that the combination of the pork belly, octopus and paella was too much for one seating especially when the squid ink also added on to the rich flavours (I had to have some salsa to neutralise the taste).

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Moving along from that octopus encounter, I had rave reviews for the other food. The carbonara tasted like any regular ones you can find elsewhere. The rosti (according to my friend) was pretty good and thicker than Marche’s. While the Moroccan chicken was quite a refreshing change from the other food that I see commonly. Served in an earthen pot, the chicken was done well and the couscous was a refreshing change from eating plain white rice. My cider loving friends also found their bottles to be rusty and ended up returning the drinks even after a new bottle was given. 

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I do think that this is a place to bring friends if you cannot decide on a single cuisine or type of food to have as a group. At least your friends have the choice of choosing what they want and saving you the hassle. The atmosphere is also pretty decent to have friends sit around, linger and just talk while eating. But if I ever return, I think I should stay clear of the octopus and squid ink paella.  

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Coffee Connoisseur

Library Cafe @ Sukhumvit 24, Bangkok, Thailand

IMG02147-20130919-1433Recently, a certain idea popped into my head: visiting a foreign country would not be complete without visiting one of its cafes. I could not pass on the chance to visit one of the several cafes there when I hit the streets of the City of Angels. In my opinion, there is a chance that cafes may display certain aspects of the city in which it is located through its architecture and the clientèle it attracts. Good food and coffee is a plus, of course, but given how countless cafes now have the typical brunch/western fare, I decide to give it a miss here at the Library Cafe. Afterall, Bangkok’s street food has so much more to offer at much lower prices.IMG02128-20130919-1333Library Cafe is located along one of the small, quiet sois, or streets in Thai, in the Phrom Phong locale. It wasn’t quite that easy to find, but that didn’t come as a surprise, given how even the cafes back home can be a pain to locate sometimes.IMG02125-20130919-1330Full length vertical window panels front the cafe, letting sunlight stream in, illuminating the cafe with natural light. Both its interior and exterior is kept simple with a combination of white walls and light wood furniture, shelves and decorative pieces. The layout isn’t cluttered and the place doesn’t try too hard, which makes it a great place to take a break from the dusty and crowded city streets.IMG02126-20130919-1331

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Cafe Latte

The coffee wasn’t too bad. Although not perfect, it was good enough to rejuvenate the weary traveller in me. The little savoury biscuits didn’t quite match the coffee but it was still a nice thought!IMG02135-20130919-1340

IMG02136-20130919-1346The guests at the table beside mine were a group of Japanese ladies doing some sort of embroidery or cross-stitch. It seemed like they had spent a good part of their day there, just chatting and doing what ladies were made to do back in the past – afternoon tea, scones and a spot of thread-work come to mind, anybody? The leisurely way they spent their time perfectly reflects the vibes the Library Cafe exudes: calm and peaceful, drawing you away from the city and almost seeming too reluctant to release you back into the clutches of the whirlwind of shopping and eating. IMG02145-20130919-1430

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IMG02142-20130919-1419The best part? Free wi-fi. Spoken like a true member of this overly-wired generation. But, hey, what’s wrong with using it to plan the fastest route to the next shopping destination while kicking back with a coffee? Nothing, I say.

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Food Hunter

Nyonya & Baba Peranakan Cuisine @ Vivocity

peranakanAyam Buah Keluah | Sambal Kang Kong | Nyonya Chap chye | Hu Piao Soup

Many years back, I used to be hooked on a drama titled “Little Nyonya”. There were scenes where the Nyonyas would prepare delicious Peranakan meals and desserts and it always looked so good! Their food is all about fresh ingredients, good preparation, spices and the riches of flavours. But TV show aside, my family decided to head to Nyonya & Baba Peranakan cuisine to celebrate my mum’s birthday.

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peranakan2Achar | Keropok | Belachan chili

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Needless to say, the food for the dinner set was good and it was refreshing to have  achar and keropok as a standard appetizer. The set came with vegetables, meats and soup. On an interesting note, the rice was served by the waiter who would scoop from a pandan infused tub of rice so you can inform them on how much you want and not be eating too much carbs!

One of the highlights was the buah keluah, which I usually look forward to in a Peranakan meal. The buah keluah is actually a poisonous fruit with hydrogen cyanide, and it is quite deadly if consumed without prior preparation. The way to eat it is to scrape out the flesh from the inside of the fruit and eat it either on its own or by mixing it with some rice. It usually is served in a thick curry sauce and it has a nutty taste.

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peranakan10Puloh Hitam | Chendol

The dinner set ended off with a choice of puloh hitam or chendol and that in itself was quite a task for the stomach. It was quite decent price-wise, but what is more important was the time for my family to eat together, and that’s what matters. (:

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I am the baker boy

Paul Hollywood’s Chelsea Buns recipe

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I am not putting the recipe for these here since you can find them here and here. I simply followed everything Paul instructed in the video for these. (I think I am becoming a really big fanboy!) The only difference is the lack of dried cranberries which I substituted for with more raisins and apricots.

The basic idea is to make an enriched dough, prove it, roll it out, put the filling, roll up like you would for a cinnamon roll, cut, second proving, make icing, bake, spread jam, drizzle icing and serve.

The results are mouth-watering. Simply mouth-watering. I mean just look at that apricot jam glaze. So tempting.

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