26 December 2016

LeTao Singapore | Best cheesecake of the year

We interrupt your daily business to bring you an important message. We think we have found the best cheesecake of the year.

Yes. From LeTao. And I don't know why it is not repeated like a broken record in my social media feed. The only articles I came across mentioning LeTao were the Straits Times and Daniel Food Diary.  After seeing Daniel's Instagram video which included someone breaking down into touched moments of "Omg it's very nice..", I was left with no choice but to check out LeTao.

For the uninitiated, LeTao is a super famous cheesecake from the land of desserts a.k.a. Hokkaido. Finally, LeTao has found home in Singapore, in the form of a takeaway counter store in Ion Orchard, located at B1 level near the Moleskine store if you know where is it. 

The best thing is there are no queues. Initially I was trying to see if there was some hidden queue.. You know, like Bake Cheese Tart's queue at B4 level which had me grinning like a lottery winner when I first saw there was no queue at its store... only till I was informed that the queue begins a few hundred meters away so that traffic is unblocked for other shops. 

But nope, no confusing queue system for LeTao. No never-ending queue. I repeat, no queue at all. #NeverUnderestimateSocialMedia

Petit Chocolat Strawberry ($12 per 50 grams)
Before we get to the best cheesecake of the year, the very helpful salesgirl gave us some samples of their chocolates and biscuits to try. The petit chocolat strawberry is a whole freeze-dried strawberry encapsulated by sweet white chocolate and dusted with a layer of strawberry powder. It's neither overly sweet nor sour, and makes a perfect TV or reading snack for the freeze-dried strawberry lover.

Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage ($10/box of 9 pcs; $19/box of 18 pcs)
I noticed many people were buying the Otaru Rue Ironai Fromage, or cheese cookies in English. I can see why. In between the crispy biscuits was a smooth creamy layer of cheese, which is the same mascarpone cheese used in the famous cheesecake. The affordable price-point makes it a popular add-on item too.

Double fromage ($28)

Now, for the pièce de résistance, the double fromage. The beauty comes in two layers: a froth-like creamy no-bake cheesecake that's not overly rich, and a rich solid baked cheesecake. 

The joy is when I eat them in one mouthful together. That's when the light airy layer melts into the solid layer, resulting in a sensational out-of-the-world taste and texture.

The cheese used in the no-bake cheesecake is Italian mascarpone. And I tell you, the Italians make really good cheese. Mascarpone cheese is a buttery-rich double-cream to triple-cream cow's milk cheese. Instead of using rennet which is an enzyme from ruminant animals to coagulate the cheese, citric or tartaric acid is used instead. Hence, the taste is softer and more delicate than other cheeses, making it a perfect combination with the rich cream cheese used in the baked portion.

Mascarpone Creme Brulee ($25)
We wanted to get their chocolate double cheesecake but it was sold out. But it's ok, I found love in the creme brulee cake. It uses the same Mascarpone cheese, Hokkaido milk and Madagascar vanilla. There is no caramelized top but the joy is not affected as I tucked into the creamy, egg-fragrant smooth creamy custard. The crust is a thin layer of flaky pastry akin to mille-feuille. Very good!

Take note that the double fromage costs $28 for a 12cm cake. That's equivalent to 4 slices. Which is about $7 for a slice.. not that expensive if you can slice it. LeTao Singapore does not sell in slices as it is the brand directive from Japan HQ. They can only sell pre-packed cakes with no direct contact with the food. But they provide disposable forks and knives so you can share with a friend and cut the cake on the spot. But I personally think it will be unwise to share.. kekeke..

There is no "we" in food.
Ok quickly go and eat LeTao before you make your new year resolutions on dieting, clean-eating,  blah blah blah..

Address: Ion Orchard B1-K7, 2 Orchard Turn Singapore 238801
Tel: +65 8799 3551

18 December 2016

Tsuta Ramen | Too special a ramen

We live in the golden age of ramen, especially in Singapore where ramen shops sprout faster than you can say "oisshi". As I've always confessed openly, my favourite type of men is ramen. So when Tsuta Ramen, the first Michelin starred ramen in the World, has set up its first ever outpost in Singapore, I was left with no choice but to join the unwinding queue to find out more.

I queued on a Saturday morning. It was also Kam's Roast opening day in the same building Pacific Plaza. Kam's Roast is brought in by Hersing Culinary, also the same company that brought in Tsuta Ramen and 1-Michelin star Tim Ho Wan. Seems like Hersing is trying to build a Michelin empire in Pacific Plaza.

I posted a live update on the situation on Instagram that day.

For the record, I didn't eat Kam after Tsuta because #TooFull.

Managed to get in after an hour plus of queuing (thank god for my Kindle which made the wait more value-adding).

I ordered the unusual shoyu ramen ($22.80 / 4 pieces of char siew / 1 ajitama egg), which is Tsuta's award winning ramen. The truffle oil and clam-based dashi stock was a weird combination for me. Hmmm let's just say I can't appreciate the exotic broth which was umami with a hint of truffle pungency. It wasn't inedible but personally, I don't think pungent and umami goes well together. The redeeming factor was the amazing seasoned runny egg which was sweet and savory, as well as the lean yet flavourful pork collar. I wasn't expecting myself to like the pork slices as they aren't the usual melt-in-mouth and fatty char siew.. but they turned out to be the most favourite ingredient of the day. The thin noodles were al dente and springy, just the way I like them.

Ramenologists would know that there is no such thing as a perfect ramen, given the huge variety of ramen types in this world (see Lucky Peach's A Guide To The Regional Ramen of Japan). Just like men, ramen comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Each person has their own preference. For me, I still prefer my thick milky pork-based broth, the typical ramen next door. Till then, doubt I will be going back to Tsuta anytime soon.

Address: 9 Scotts Road, #01-01, Pacific Plaza, 228210

11 December 2016

Candlenut | Excellent Peranakan cuisine with a modern twist

This post just proves that I am the pro in procrastination. Actually Candlenut has been on my to-eat list since this blog was started back in 2013. And yet I must wait until it got a Michelin star in July 2016 before I visited. And yet I must wait until it shifted from Chinatown to Dempsey before I document my visit to its Chinatown outlet back in end July. So it's really an achievement that I managed to reach the end of this paragraph!

Initally we just wanted to try some ala carte dishes but I didn't know they don't serve ala carte during dinner. They only have a set menu at $68++ for dinner. Before you think it's too expensive for Peranakan dishes, I need to correct that it is Peranakan-inspired and they use premium ingredients e.g. Wagyu beef, NZ lamb, and quite a bit of seafood.

(Clockwise) Charred octopus with chincalok and achar, Blue swimmer crab kueh pie tee in yellow curry, Buah keluak pork dumpling, Wagyu beef satay

The appetizers started off well. My most favourite was the Wagyu beef satay which was well-marinated with spices, fork tender and grilled to perfection. The blue swimmer crab kueh pie tie, an interesting twist to the traditional kueh pie tie, was excellent and addictive. 

On to the mains..
Charcoal grilled John snapper fillet with black mango sambal, ginger flower and Japanese cucumber kerabu
Pardon my ignorance but this is the first time I've come across black mango sambal. I think it is mainly mango mixed with sambal and hence it is both sweet yet spicy at the same time. Excellent pairing with the soft tender snapper fillet. The ginger flower and Japanese cucumber kerubu improve the visual presentation of the dish while giving the overall taste of the dish a refreshing perspective too.

Pork meatballs in rich chicken and seafood broth
Another favourite dish are the meatballs. The broth is full of sweet and umami flavours. It is perfect to diffuse some of the spiciness from the spicy dishes.

Wok fried sambal, wild caught baby squid, petai beans, tamarind
This spicy squid is not for those who has low tolerance for spicy food. I left the petai beans alone.

Sayur lodeh kang kong with crispy whitebait and baby sweet potato leaves
The sayur lodeh kang kong is cooked in well-balanced coconut milk and spices. But what makes the dish outstanding was the salty crispy whitebait which gives the dish an interesting twist in flavours, textures and overall presentation.

NZ Maori Lakes lamb shoulder rendang, green banana, kaffir lime leaf, serunding
Last but not least, we enjoyed the lamb rendang which was classic rendang at its best. 

Durian soup, Mao Shan Wang ice-cream, D24 durian puree, feuilletine (left), Chendol (right) 
We got to choose our desserts from a list. Without much thought, we went for the durian and chendol respectively. No regrets. The durian dessert was as if I was eating real durian and the feuilletine tasted very local, similar to the wafer egg rolls I ate when I was young. As for the chendol, it's typical chendol that's done well. No complaints.

Service was super attentive. I was there when Candlenut was still celebrating their Michelin win and I got complimentary wine. Candlenut is probably the only Peranakan restaurant in the world that has a Michelin star and I really think they deserved it because they totally brought Peranakan cuisine to greater heights by incorporating creative ideas. The only pity for me is that they have shifted to Dempsey which is really a hassle to get to without four wheels. Till then, this will stay in my favourite dining memories of 2016. 

23 October 2016

Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant | An unagi lover's dream come true?

Teppei-san strikes the Japanese food scene again after his wildly popular omakase restaurant (read review here). This time with an electrifying move to open the first unagi specialty Man Man Japanese unagi restaurant in Singapore. I love unagi and hence made a special trip to 1 Keong Saik Road to find out more.

Man Man restaurant is not very big. It's quite smoky and could do with better ventilation. You can choose to sit in front of the kitchen which you would be treated with a gory theatrical trailer of your eel being killed live, skewered and grilled in front of you. I would prefer to pretend that my food's previous life was not a living animal so thank you very much, I'll pick the seat near the door.

Theatrical smoke effect

I got the una tama don ($18.60+) which is basically grilled unagi, soft tamogo and rice, soup. The char-grilled unagi's firm sweet meat is perfect with the accompanying Japanese rice that is drizzled with the special soy sauce. The thin layer of crispy grilled skin soaked with sauce was just enough to add flavor without greasing up the dish. The fluffy tamago adds a different dimension of texture to the entire dish.

The portion is not very big. So if you are looking for a mega feast of fleshy unagi meat, you might be disappointed with Man Man.

Man Man's queue on Saturday noon was fortunately not too man man (慢慢) (about 20 minutes). But I would recommend to bring insect repellent, sunblock, sunglasses, portable fans, caps etc as the queue is not sheltered from the blazing hot sun and the wildlife.  

Overall, I would recommend the unagi lover to try this at least once in his lifetime. I would also recommend the unagi lover to stop eating unagi for the rest of his life after that. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unagi), unagi is an endangered species. Sorry for ending your dreams. Your sacrifice will be greatly appreciated by sustainability organisations worldwide. Thank you.

Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
Address: 1 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089109 

16 October 2016

Sumo Big Prawn Mee

The lobsters, crayfish and prawns of Sumo Big Prawn Mee have been making a huge splash on social media recently. Word has it that the newly opened stall has been dishing out humbly-priced $25 lobster prawn mee in the humble Blk 628 Ang Mo Kio hawker centre. I happened to be in the neighbourhood last week. Being a huge lover of prawn mee, I naturally joined the naturally super long queue to find out more.

Just by standing in the queue, the aroma from the cooking of the robust prawn soup has already set my noses working. I've always thought umami is a form of flavour. But on that very day, I learnt that umami is also a form of scent.

Sumo Big Prawn Mee offers five types: $5 prawn mee, $8 big prawn mee, $13 crayfish mee, $18.90 lobster mee (current price is $24.90 as the Asia lobster is out of supply season and they are using the more expensive Colombia lobster) and a $16.90 set meal (not available when I visited). I was not in the mood for an extravagant meal so I ordered the $8 big prawn mee. You can choose either bee hoon or yellow noodle or both. 

The soup is thick, robust and packs a punch of rich crustacean essence. The savoury soup is rather light on the other ingredients such as shallots. Hence, I could really taste the pure sweetness of the seafood in the broth. Slurped the soup to the last drop.

For $8, I got 4 big prawns. The meat is fresh and firm. Sumo Big Prawn Mee has also semi peeled the prawns, much to my convenience. There are also generous amounts of fresh la la clams which elevate the seafood flavours of the soup.  

Just take note that the queues can get super long during peak hours, especially on weekends. According to social media sources, the queuing time can be up to 1 hour.

Although the prices are more premium than your usual bowl of prawn mee, you can trust that the ingredients are also more premium. The long queues proved that premium pricing is a feasible feastible idea in a hawker centre setting. Especially for the $25 lobster mee which you get 1 entire lobster + prawns + clams. So cheap and good. I can't wait to try it some day.

If you are a prawn mee lover, I strongly recommend you to make the journey to the North to try Sumo Big Prawn Mee regardless of where you stay. It's definitely not your usual prawn mee.

Address: Blk 628 Hawker centre Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-72 Singapore 560628

9 October 2016

Kushin Bo (Suntec City)

I love buffets but I think buffet restaurants love me more. It's not my fault that I was born with a non-expandable belly which makes me the ideal customer who contribute the fat profit margins to buffet restaurants. Still, it didn't stopped me from going to Kuishin Bo which I have been waiting to try for the longest time.

I was awed by the huge variety offered by Kuishin Bo. Fried tempura prawn, soft shell crab, gyozas, fish, fresh seafood such as prawns, scallops, mussels, assorted sushi, handrolls, yakiniku, paper hotpots, ramen, soba, udon, chawanmushi, soups etc.. Not to mention the desserts section which is equivalently amazing with its extensive range of cakes, puddings, mochis, konnyaku jelly, icecream (both soft serve and hard serve). To top it off, a chocolate fondue fountain! 

Fresh and juicy assorted sashimi - My most favourite part of the buffet
Fried stuff were pretty good too.

Fresh seafood 

Paper hotpot - Not as good as I hoped for

Ramen - You can give this a miss.
Self serve your soft serve

Surprisingly a very good intense lava cake

Milo is available. But it's a trap to make you feel full
There's a washing facility in-house. So convenient!

nth round
Die die also want to fill up all the 9 slots - The puddings are better than the cakes in my opinion.

For just $38.90++ during weekend lunch, you get a quality unlimited buffet. I like that the seafood and sashimi is fresh. Kuishin Bo Suntec City is also currently running a promotion where 2 adults and 1 child can dine for $84++. Good idea for family sunday brunches.

23 July 2016

Singapore Favourite Food Village 2016 : What to eat

Recently, the Singapore food scene has a seen a lot of fussing and buzzing. Besides the first Michelin awards which has its fair share of fuss and buzz, the Singapore food festival is also ongoing till end of July. I'm usually not a fad person but it's hard to ignore them. One of the highlights of the Singapore Food Festival is the Singapore Favourite Food Village which is held from 22 July 2016 till 31 July 2016. Featuring over 20 culinary partners, it features our traditional favourites and their modern interpretations. Think seafood LAKSAgna, Salted egg yolk prata, Chilli crab prata, Pulut Hitam Matcha dirt cake, Gula Melaka ice-cream etc.

Held in a temporary site, the Singapore Favourite Food Village is a short walk from the Bugis Mrt station (take exit A). My passion for food was undeterred by the rain (ok slight drizzle actually) on Friday night. 

Our little bellies could only eat 5 out of the 20 stalls. While you are judging, here's the 5:

1) Salted egg yolk turnip pudding chai tow kway (or fried carrot cake) -$6

This salted egg version only adds to the recent identity crisis that our favourite Singaporean food has been going through. First called a carrot cake (when it's neither a carrot nor a cake), and then called a turnip pudding by Michelin recently. Now it's being modified with salted egg yolk.  

I like this modified version more! The carrot cake is fried using the usual chicken eggs and then topped with generous salted egg yolk sauce. Surprisingly, the rich and briny salted egg yolk paired perfectly with the fragrant fried carrot cake with a tinge of sweetness. A must try!

2) Crackling roast pork - $12.90 for set with side and salad

This skin of this roast pork is roasted till it is very crispy and indeed crackles in the mouth. Other than that, I think it will taste better if served hotter. There's apple sauce or mustard sauce available to pair the roast pork. Be careful with the mustard sauce which is rather stinging. Try pairing with the sweet apple sauce. 

3) Wei Yi Laksa - $5

Wei Yi means "The Only One" and also a very famous laksa stall in Tanglin Halt. Which I've never tried because I am a lazy Eastie foodie who doesn't do the Journey to the West. 

To me, Laksa is all about the golden ratio of coconut milk to spices (shallots, candlenut, lemongrass, dried chillies, shrimp paste). I find Wei Yi's ratio leaning towards more coconut milk. I suspect it lacked one of the spices, making the taste a little underwhelming. But I can't tell which spice is it. Can anyone let me know? 
Tip: remember to stir the laksa first so that the flavours are mixed better. Even though it's not perfect, it's a very good bowl of laksa chocked with much tau pok, prawns, fish cakes. One of the best stalls at Singapore Favourite Food Village. 

4) Churros 

This is embarrassing.. My unadventurous friend bought for us the chocolate version instead of the ondeh-ondeh version. Yes an ondeh-ondeh churros they have! Anyway, the churros was wondrously crispy deep fried dough that's topped with a crackle-thin crust of sugar. Very nice with the warm chocolate. You won't regret trying!

5) Sea salt Hokkaido milk soft serve -$4 

Before leaving, end off with this rich creamy milky soft serve. 

I'll recommend you to upgrade to an Instagram-worthy version (biscuit cone plus candy floss) for a small price.

6) Extra - Old Chang Kee Rendang Puff - $1.80

Old Chang was located outside the tent area. Not sure why. Anyway they have a new Rendang curry pok which is really good other than the weird green crust colouring. It is more inclined towards tangy tones. 

The Singapore Favourite Food Village is on till 31 July 2016. Admission is free. Food is not free. Only 1 week left so chop chop curry pok. 

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