Teochew-style Fish Porridge

48425ef5745e85ce31d2341ca950bea1HEAR:
Click HERE to listen to this week’s tasty Teochew episode!

SEE:
This week, our ever-reliable, down-to-earth Makan Kaki Chef Daniel Tay waxes lyrical about his Teochew roots (his mother is) and recommends one of his favourite restaurants for tasty Teochew delicacies. This is a restaurant that has been recommended before, but has since moved from its original location at Beach Road to larger premises at Phillips Street.

Chao Shan Cuisine is a classic restaurant that has been serving up yummy Teochew classics for years and Chef Daniel has gotten to know its boss, Ah Liang, well enough to ask for fresh recommendations each time he visits for a meal. Certainly, from Pomfret to Threadfin, Ah Liang is the man to tell you which fish of the day is the freshest. Business is brisk at Chao Shan, which sees customers returning for Chef Daniel’s favourites like steamed fish,  Jellied Pork Trotters and crispy-fluffy oyster omelette.

48919cb0b079923b270775fbfb671a45But of all the dishes you can find at Chao Shan, this is, hands down, Chef Daniel’s ultimate comfort food: fresh fish slice porridge. There’s just something so wholesome, virtuous, pure, simple and yes, comforting about the watery rice delicacy. Chef Daniel swears by the basic ingredients – fresh fish slices, rice, stock, salt, ginger, coriander and spring onions – that come together in one steaming bowl of heart-warming simplicity. Don’t go to Chao Shan without trying this dish!

TASTE:
CHAO SHAN CUISINE 潮山林
17 Phillip Street
#01-01
Grand Building
Singapore 048695
Open Daily: 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–10PM
Tel: 63362390

For more pictures, descriptions and our other Makan Kaki Willin Low‘s review of Chao Shan from 2 years ago when it was still located at Beach Road, click here!

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Exquisite Experience at White Grass

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HEAR:
Click here to hear this week’s episode!

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If you have a special occasion coming up and need a new place to impress your date, our Makan Kaki, hotelier, restaurateur & judge on Eat List Star, Loh Lik Peng recommends you head straight to this gorgeous fine-dining restaurant located in historic Caldwell House at Chijmes. White Grass is the whole package – wonderful food, service and space. Australian Chef-Owner Sam Aisbett and is known for his work in esteemed restaurants like Tetsuya & Quay in Sydney, which is why Peng was curious to pay his new restaurant, White Grass, a visit. In his opinion, it lives up to the hype.

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First of all, the dining room will wow you. Especially in the day time, it’s flooded with natural light and is definitely on his list of most beautiful spaces in Singapore. It’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into presentation – from the curved, custom teal-blue velvet couches to the exquisite crockery and cutlery, there are nods to nature in the organic shapes of bowls and vases, as well as to the Art Deco style of the historical building.

You can select from 3, 5 or 8 course dinner tasting menus or 2-3 course lunch tasting menus (with wine pairings, if you choose) that give you a delicious sense of Chef Aisbett’s distinctive & personal interpretation of Modern Australian cuisine, which means you’ll get exciting textures and flavours, inspired by his home country, his travels and also local ingredients. In fact, Chef Aisbett spends quite a lot of time exploring Singapore’s wet markets and experimenting with how to incorporate familiar Singapore flavours (think century egg & jackfruit!) with Western ingredients & techniques. Plus, he even grows his own herbs in an urban cultivator located in a secret upstairs room! Have a look at a typical 8-course tasting menu (keeping in mind this will get updated from time to time):

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Beautiful, fresh-baked Sourdough bread with quenelles of Echire butter and Australian sea salt sourced from a family-run sea salt farm in South Australia – but the highlight is the gorgeous crockery – look at those little bowls, designed to look just like mushroom caps!

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Little bite-sized pre-dinner snacks, again, beautifully presented. Top Left: “brick”pastry with Mangalica Pork, seaweed & lemon jam. Top Right: Charcoal “sandwich” with Hamachi. Bottom: Comte cheese biscuit with fennel & goat’s cheese jam. The brick pastry, in particular, is an eye-rollingly delicious nugget of smokey, piggy goodness!IMG_4429

Wild-caught Japanese Yellowtail Amberjack is diced and lightly marinated in a white soy dressing, bonito oil, horseradish cream and fresh diced apple, then rolled in a jelly made from green apple juice, dried bonito, kombu, white soy and mirin before being set with agar agar, to create this luscious cigar shape, which in turn bathes in  a toasted nori oil beneath it. Pickled choko (an edible plant from the gourd family) compressed with chardonnay vinegar and dill oil garnishes the roll, along with thinly sliced Japanese cucumber and seasonal herbs like sea succulents and nasturtium which are grown in the restaurant’s urban cultivator. Other young herbs are sourced from a local lady who grows special micro herbs and edible flowers locally specially for White Grass. Next to the roll is a line of wasabi snow, made with buttermilk, milk and fresh wasabi then frozen with liquid nitrogen and then blended to a fine powder.

IMG_4431In this eye-catching salad, two types of Australian beetroot are roasted, peeled and dressed with muscatel vinegar whilst still warm. Beneath the succulent fuschia vegetables lies a bed of cultured cream with smoked eel from Holland, that’s paired with rosella jam (hibiscus flower). For a garnish with crunch, shards of crisps made from beetroot juice and barley (red) & from sushi rice and eel skin (white). Grated Tasmanian mountain berry (similar to peppercorn, but milder & fruitier) finishes off this unusual salad.IMG_4432

This doesn’t look like much (pardon the bad photography), but it tastes PHENOMENAL! This clear consomme is deeply flavoured with fresh blue swimmer crab and fish heads that have been fried off in a chilli, ginger and garlic paste, then infused with Kombu, shitake mushrooms & chicken stock. Lemon juice and an aged fish sauce finish off the flavours of the broth beautifully. In it floats the very aptly named scallop velvet, made from a very light scallop mousse and egg whites that have been gently poached, as well as night-blooming jasmine & dill oil. A fragrantly floral and pleasantly briny dish with layers and layers of flavour.IMG_4433

The PIECE DE RESISTANCE! Everybody’s favourite & in Peng’s opinion, most outstanding dish of the entire meal: Slow roasted Mangalica pork, shaved Australian abalone, handmade silken tofu, resting on a smoked onion cream and garnished with black moss (yes, what the Cantonese call Fatt Choy!). To quote Peng, “It’s almost too pretty to eat!”IMG_4438

But wait! Then they pour on this aromatic pork broth and the entire dish comes together like MAGIC!!! Such a sublime combination of textures, from the tender, fatty pork with it’s crispy skin, the silky-smooth tofu, crunchy-chewy abalone and everything else.IMG_4441

Foreground: Roasted milk skin & finely chopped century egg “whites” with a “salad” of toasted flaxseed, almonds and sunflower seeds, dressed in a sauce made from the “whites” of century egg cooked in butter, all resting on a bed of steamed endive hearts.
Background: Butter-poached Quail topped with a duo of white garlic puree (made from milk steeped with garlic) and black puree puree (made from fermented garlic).

IMG_4443This dish was inspired by Chef’s first taste of century egg porridge (pei dan chok) in Singapore & this was the result of playing around with century egg’s unique texture and flavour!

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Grass-fed beef from the Scottish Highlands, which is cooked over white charcoal (or what the Japanese call bincho-tan, then rubbed with a very fragrant lightly roasted white sesame oil. It sits on an intense mushroom puree that is made from fermented shitake & Swiss brown mushrooms. Topped with with black salsify (seaweed), wilted wasabi leaf, shimeji mushroom caps, ice plant tips and crispy rice “lace” blacked and seasoned with charcoal and shitake powder (we could eat these little crspy lace chips all day long!). That little black dot on the top right of the plate is actually the true inspiration for this dish and personally surced by Chef. What you see is 5 precise drops of a pure, unadorned, rare 20-year-old Japanese soy sauce called Kamebishi Shoyu from Kagawa prefecture in Japan and made by one of the oldest soy sauce companies in Japan. This family-owned company has been around since 1753 and is the last remaining one that makes soy sauce the traditional way using mushiro-koji. The soy is left to age in 200-year-old cedar barrels resulting in a heady, aromatic product that smells strong, but was surprisingly mellow, yet rich and not super salty.

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Chef’s jaunts through the local wet markets yielded a discovery of our unique tropical fruits and this is an ode to those flavours. Light-as-air young coconut mousse is paired with creamy jackfruit ice-cream. Zingy ginger cake and lemon puree balances all the rich sweetness, whilst different texture excite the tastebuds in the form of milk biscuits, meringue, caramelised almonds, macarons, sugar shards and young coconut meat.

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Finally, these pretty little Petit Fours were created based on the chefs’ memories of childhood desserts & is a tribute to each of their home countries. Head Chef Diego is from Peru and created the melt-in-mouth Alfajores de Manjar blanco which is a delicate cookie sandwich filled with Dulce de Leche, a decadent concoction of condensed milk, caramelised sugar and vanilla bean. Executive Chef-Owner Aisbett went with the Australian Chocolate-covered Raspberry Snowball that was inspired by Arnott’s Royals Chocolate. Sink your teeth into one of those smooth, 66% Valrhona dark chocolate globes and you’ll experience layers of chocolate brownie with almonds, marshmallow & raspberry jam.

This is why Peng says he had one of his best dining experiences at White Grass and as far  as special occasion restaurants go, Chef Aisbett’s restaurant is right up there with the best of them and a fine addition to Singapore’s culinary scene.

TASTE:
WHITE GRASS
30 Victoria Street
Caldwell House
Chijmes #01-26/27
Singapore 187996
Open daily: Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 6:00 – 9:30 pm; Wednesday-Saturday Lunch: 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Reservations: +65 68370402

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Balestier’s Best #4: Delicious Northern Indian Food

IMG_4829HEAR:
Listen to this week’s spicy episode here!

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IMG_4816This week, we continue our guide to good eats in Balestier with our Makan Kaki Shermay Lee. If you’re in need of a Northern Indian spice fix, look no further than a little corner in Balestier Plaza for excellent Tandoori, hence it’s name – Tandoori Corner! Owned & run by the affable Mr Satish, this is a wonderful hidden gem of a family restaurant which serves up well-priced and delicious Northern Indian classics.

Shermay’s must try list includes:

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  • Chicken Tandoori
  • Fish Tikka

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  • Prawn Masala
  • Garlic Naan (plain is good too) to soak up all the lovely gravies
  • Lassi (plain & mango)

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Affordability is really the factor here at Tandoori Corner, but flavours are never compromised, so you’ll always get a meal of great taste and value!

IMG_4830TASTE:
TANDOORI CORNER
400 Balestier Road
Balestier Plaza
#01-12
Open daily for lunch 12-2.45pm & dinner 6-9.45pm

For more Tandoori Corner, check out our other Makan Kaki Don Mendoza’s recommendation here!

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Traditional Oyster Cake

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HEAR:
Click HERE to listen to this week’s crispy-fluffy episode!

SEE:
This week, our foodie friend and Head Chef at Wanderlust Hotel’s Restaurant Cocotte, Tony Yeoh, continues with his guide to his Little India/ Jalan Besar neighbourhood, with a little gem of a stall that sells just one thing and that one thing very well. While it’s become quite a rarity to find these days, you can still find traditional Fu Zhou Oyster Cakes at Poh Hwa. Originally operating out of a coffee shop at Sam Leong Road, they have since moved to  Berseh Food Centre along Jalan Besar..

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What exactly is an oyster cake, you may ask? For those only familiar with Orh Jian or Orh Luak (Oyster Omelette), Oyster Cake is a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside snack that’s like a little pocket stuffed full of little morsels of tasty treasures, from minced meat, to prawn to coriander, peanuts, ikan billis and yes, oysters! Think of French beignets or Indian Vadai and in Fu Zhou Oyster Cake, you have the Chinese version!

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Check out Auntie deftly preparing the oyster cakes – she has a special UFO shaped  ladle she first half-fills with batter, then sprinkles in her array of ingredients, before spooning on more batter, then she slides each little disc in to a wok of hot oil for deep-frying. What emerges looks and smells incredible – how can you resist?

IMG_4606Each sizeable Oyster Cake costs $1.80 so for just under 2 bucks, you’ve got yourself a delectable little afternoon snack, perfect washed down with a teh tarik!IMG_4612

Eat with generous lashings of their homemade chilli sauce which is vinegary, with a kick – a perfect accompaniment to balance out all the deep-fried, meaty richness of the Oyster Cake.IMG_4613

TASTE:
FU ZHOU POH HWA OYSTER CAKE
166 Jalan Besar
Berseh Food Centre
#02-34
Singapore 208877

Open Daily: 10am – 6pm