Orh Nee Tarts – Unique, Delicious & Affordable!

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photo: Mediacorp

Hello Makan Kakis!

This week, we welcome the last woman standing in the Top 4 of the Masterchef Singapore Season 3 kitchen, Mum of three and Nutrition & Food Science Teacher, Sharlene Tan! Hot off her exit from the culinary competition, she joins me to talk food and what’s next for her in the aftermath. An avid foodie, she also has a bumper crop of makan recommendations to share with us in the coming weeks, starting with a unique bake that marries a buttery tart shell with Teochew orh nee! Catch up on all the delicious details in our podcasts below or read on…

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IMG_0404Sharlene recommends we try the orh nee tarts from a very small, obscure bakery located in the basement of a service apartment block along Beach Road. Run by an elderly couple – the auntie does most of baking and the uncle mans the cashier and packs your orders – June Bakery specialises in tarts, orh nee being the highlight.

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Traditionally a teochew mashed yam dessert, June Bakery has turned it into a tart, where  East meets West. Somehow, this fusion style works!

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The June Bakery Orh Nee tart comes in two versions (all tarts cost just $1.50 and are small enough to fit in your palm – good for one person). In a nod to tradition, one is topped with 3 little ginkgo nuts.

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The other version is topped with a little ball of chewy mochi.

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The tart shell is crisp and delicate, very buttery, crumbly and melts in the mouth. The fragrant yam paste filling is smooth and creamy, but not too sweet.

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Sharlene also recommends their creamy cheese tarts, which also comes in special flavours including black sesame and strawberry. Only the black sesame version was available on the day I paid June Bakery a visit, along with the original cheese flavour. Just like the orh nee tarts, these were made using the same delicious tart shells.

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The original cheese tart boasted a tangy, sweet and savoury cheese filling that was almost mousse-like in texture. Kissed a golden brown outside from its bake in the oven, the tart was fluffy and aerated on the inside.

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The black sesame version had an added nuttiness with a little disc of mochi inside for soft and chewy texture.

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Besides their best-selling tarts, you might want to try June Bakery’s other bakes, like the custard puff. Piped into a flaky pastry that resembles a mini butter croissant, the creamy filling is smooth, sweet and perfumed with vanilla.

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The almond croissant is also quite a treat – crowned with crisp almonds, toasted and caramelised sugar. If you prefer something more savoury, they had two pastries on offer. For a classic choice, try the curried potato triangles. Tender potato cubes pack lots of aromatic heat inside their puff pastry homes. The mushroom and veg rolls were a revelation. Encased in puff pastry rectangles, shitake mushrooms, carrot and bangkwang (chinese turnip/ yam bean) made for a yummy filling reminiscent of popiah! Lots of umami came from the meaty mushrooms and lots of white pepper bumped up the spice factor.

IMG_0491During peak hours, be prepared to wait and even queue, as Uncle is very meticulous. Unhurried and methodical, he takes your order, gathers bakes off the shelves and packs them for you, before collecting payment. Also, as a two-person operation, obviously there are limitations to how much they can produce daily, so they only stay open till they sell out, which is often before 12 noon.

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To avoid disappointment, Sharlene recommends you get there early for your pick of what’s available for the day, fresh and hot out of oven. I noticed that even at 7am, the phone was ringing off the hook from regulars calling their orders in for pick up. Auntie, who was watching her tarts in the oven and answering the phone, was very obliging and even apologetic that they’ve had to raise their tart prices from $1.30 to the present $1.50.

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Sp another good tip to avoid queues or disappointment is to call ahead! I’ve already made plans to return for what I didn’t get to try: sweet potato tart, strawberry cheese tart, apple crumble and muah chee!

TASTE:
JUNE BAKERY
7500A Beach Rd, The Plaza, #B1-321, Singapore 199591
Open Mon – Fri: 7am – 2.30pm
Tel: +65 9731 3002

Surprisingy Good Rendang & Tahu Telor Found at Chicken Restaurant!

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s delicious episode!

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Hello Makan Kakis, our Foodie Friend Raj from MasterChef Singapore Season 3 is back! This week, he recommends we try a restaurant that specialises in chicken dishes – it’s not called Ayam Penyet President for nothing – but surprisingly, neither of his two favourite dishes of their menu contain chicken.

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That is, unless you count the egg in Tahu Telor ($6.90)! According to Raj, this dish is soft on the inside, plastered with crispy yet fluffy fried egg batter on the outside and garnished with shredded carrot, cucumber and crushed peanuts. The dish wouldn’t be complete without a generous drizzle of the sweet yet spicy sauce.

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This is one dish full of different tastes and textures – absolutely wonderful! Besides the classic crispy tofu & egg combo, Raj is also very partial to the Beef Rendang ($7.90) at Ayam Penyet President.

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What he loves about this rendang is how tender and juicy the beef is. You also get the good taste and fragrance of daun kunit (yellow ginger). Adding to the melt-in-your-mouth quality of the meat is the delicious savoury-sweet gravy, replete with a mild and fresh coconut taste. 

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True to form, I ordered a few extras a try when I paid Ayam Penyet President in Yishun a visit myself! The Sundanese-style Fried Tilapia (Ikan Pesmol $15.90) was a massively meaty portion of firm, moist, white fish that flaked beautifully and boasted a crispy skin.

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The accompanying sauce was sweet and sour, chunky with herbs and spices like lemongrass, purut leaf, lengkuas (blue ginger or galangal), red chilli and green chilli padi. Assam (tamarind) infused the gravy with a pleasant tang. 

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Another menu item I couldn’t resist was the Ikan Bilis Cabe Ijo ($3.50) – crispy white bait in green chilli sambal. This was the perfect salty, umami, fresh yet spicy condiment to eat with rice and slathered all over morsels of fish that I hadn’t dunked in the Sundanese sauce! Finding little briny bits of ikan bilis was a crispy bonus!

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With takeaways, deliveries and plenty of outlets island-wide for dine-in options, don’t overlook Ayam Penyet President as just another restaurant chain. The food here is tasty and hearty! To quote Raj, his menu favourites are “cheap, good and satisfying”!

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TASTE:
Ayam Penyet President (Yishun)
Northpoint #B1-54, 930 Yishun Ave 2, S(769098)
Open Daily: Mon-Thu 11.30am – 9pm; Fri 11.30am -9.30pm; Sat 11.30am – 9.30pm; Sun/PH 11.30am – 9pm.
Tel: +65 6257 3981

Irresistible Halal Gelato with Vegan & Keto Options

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s episode of cool comfort!
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Momolato’s signature croffle (waffles made from buttery, flaky croissant dough!). Served with vanilla cream, gula melaka sauce & your choice of gelato/ sorbet.
Hey Makan Kakis, our Foodie Friend & Fabulous Baker Boy, Juwanda Hassim is back with some tasty relief for the relentlessly hot weather we’ve been having. When he’s in need of some major cooling down, he heads to a little cafe a stone’s throw from his own for halal gelato, shakes, coolers and more. Located at the very hip Haji Lane, Juwanda describes Momolato (find out more about their wonderful gelato and the lady behind the brand), as a cute tropical-pop “ice-cream” parlour because of its interior design and large leafy wall mural.
IMG_5137Keto smoothie time! Strawberry & Kiwi – yum!
Besides being halal-certified, Momolato is also famous for their keto (sugar-free) range of gelato. Korean strawberry cheesecake swirl and dark chocolate are favourites and they are so rich and decadent that Juwanda says you won’t be able to tell they have no added sugar. Within the keto range, dairy-free and frozen yogurt options are also available. My favourite is the weird & wonderful 1000 Days Gouda Cheese Keto gelato (delightfully savoury-sweet).
Continue reading “Irresistible Halal Gelato with Vegan & Keto Options”

MasterChef Singapore’s Raj Recommends Beef Pho

MASTERCHEF RAJ
photo credit: Mediacorp

Hello Makan Kakis,

How quickly we’ve crossed the Top Ten threshold for MasterChef Singapore Season 3 and if you’ve been following all the competitive culinary action, you’ll know who just got eliminated.

This week’s guest and Foodie Friend is 58-year-old Raj Shagaran Mahalingam, a creative events producer and groovy grandpa whose colourful personality is matched only by his colourful cooking creations! He certainly spiced up the MasterChef kitchen with his antics and after making it into the Top 9, he’s here to share his experience of the competition and recommend some of his favourite eats in Singapore.

So do read on for where he goes for Vietnamese Beef Noodles (Pho), download/ listen to our lively podcast interview and watch him in action in these clips.

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  • Click to listen/ download podcast – Part 1 of interview with Raj (he shares about rising after his literal fall in the kitchen that cost him a place in the Top 8, his “alien” encounter with runaway mud crabs & how joining the competition has changed his approach to cooking).
  • Click to listen/ download podcast – Part 2 of interview with Raj (he reveals his favourite judge – is it Audra, Damian or Bjorn? Why he doesn’t mind if you call him a cockroach – in fact his new brand launch celebrates it! Also, who he’d invite to his fantasy dinner party and what food he’d serve).
  • Click to listen/ download podcast of Raj’s souper beef pho recommendation!

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For his first makan recommendation, Raj came prepared. He highly recommends Saigon Food Street (located in a large, far-flung canteen in Jurong West) for that Vietnamese classic, Pho. Choose from noodles with beef slices, beef balls or chicken. Raj always goes for the sliced beef noodles. For $6, you’ll be served a large bowl with a decent amount of beef – you get 4-5 slices, along with a hearty portion of smooth, flat rice noodles. The pho is smooth and surprisingly al dente, not mushy or too soft.

Continue reading “MasterChef Singapore’s Raj Recommends Beef Pho”

Soup or Dry, This Prawn Mee Hits the Spot!

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Click to listen/ download podcast of this week’s shrimpy, savoury & soupy episode!

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Our Makan Kakis Lambert Chen (co-owner of Seafood Restaurant Diamond Kitchen & Modern Japanese Izakaya iKO) is back this week to tell us about his favourite place for Prawn Noodles and it’s a stall at Adam Road Food Centre that really needs no introduction. Adam Road Noo Cheng Big Prawn Noodle has been around for decades and Lambert finds himself returning often for a hearty prawn-centric meal.

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Continue reading “Soup or Dry, This Prawn Mee Hits the Spot!”

Hawker Stall Serves Up Sublime Steamed Fish and Other Restaurant-Quality Cantonese Dishes

DD1Hello Foodie Friends!

Our Makan Kaki, Chef Damian D’Silva of Rempapa and Judge on MasterChef Singapore, returns to catch us up on this third and current season of the reality cooking competition.

Who has impressed him so far?

Why does he think this is the best season yet?

Listen to the podcast now! Bonus: Chef also recommends yet another good place for great food!

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In the last 2 or 3 months, Chef Damian’s favourite place to visit for makan has been Haig Road Food Centre. Chef Chik is a stall he came across, run by an ex-hotel chef who specialises in exquisite Cantonese cuisine, particularly steamed dishes and double-boiled soups.

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Continue reading “Hawker Stall Serves Up Sublime Steamed Fish and Other Restaurant-Quality Cantonese Dishes”

Super-Nostalgic St Nicks Crispy Chicken Wings!

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Hello again Foodie Friends!

Please meet our newest Makan Kaki, Cynthea Lam – wellness coach, nutritionist-in-training & founder of Super Farmers, a company focused on helping people to eat well and live well through food and nutrition education. It’s a one-stop-shop for wellness workshops, urban farming kits and restorative herbal teas brand Apoteacary.

Quite by chance, we got to talking at her booth in Boutique Fairs and I ended up purchasing three boxes of deliciously soothing teas and an urban farming trio of microgreens to try growing myself at home (the kang kong, chye sim & gai lan were a success for this noob!).

Cynthea has a great story to tell and a wonderfully engaging personality, perfect for conducting her wellness workshops and dishing out sage advice, so enjoy our podcast and the first of her makan recommendations this week!

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Cynthea takes us straight back to her childhood with this delicious and nostalgic treat. She studied at St Nicholas Girls’ School throughout her pre-primary, primary and secondary school education. And St Nicks’ alumni will relate to this – Cynthea simply cannot forget the one thing she (and so many other school mates) loved to eat at recess time – Aunty Meow Lang’s fried chicken wings.

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Cynthea remembers that she once ate 10 chicken wings at a go and ended up with tonsillitis. But she still thinks it was totally worth it! That’s how irresistible those chicken wings were. Crispy, golden-brown and deep-fried to perfection, the wings were coated in a batter that was not too thick, just a thin, crunchy sheath that gave way to a moist, tasty interior.  In her opinion, she hasn’t tasted anything better since.

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Besides the power of nostalgia, Cynthea reckons the secret to Aunty Meow Lang’s wings was in the way she marinated and fried them with  so much love. Sadly, Aunty Meow Lang is no longer with us and her school stall has since closed. However, good news is, her grandson James is now carrying on her legacy at his stall (Coal 3606) and has started selling the same famous chicken wings according to his grandmother’s beloved recipe. Coal 3606’s Facebook page mentions that the wings were sold at at CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School from 1972 till 2013. 

IMG_4334Interestingly taking the leap from one institution of education to another, Coal 3606 operates out of Republic Polytechnic’s foodcourt, The Lawn. There was a stall in Bukit Merah Lane, but that no longer is in operation and has yet to be updated on their FB. If you don’t fancy a journey into the poly located far North in Woodlands, don’t worry – you can still sink your teeth into the mouth-watering wings by placing an order via text message and have them delivered. Cynthea recommended that, so I did!

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I’m happy to report, the wings arrived exactly on time and were still hot as James promised (he stored them in a large aluminium tray surround by tin foil, but not covered, so they wouldn’t get soggy). I wasted no time ripping into one immediately. It was just as Cynthea had described. Crispy on outside, juicy on the inside.

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My teeth broke through the crisp batter with an audible crunch, the fragrance of the well-marinated chicken wing making the experience all the more pleasurable. I couldn’t pin point the aromatics, but I think I detected a heady mix of garlic, ginger, soy sauce and honey. Deeply umami flavours played off the hint of sweetness. Crispy skin and meat were thoroughly infused with flavour right down to the bone. And indeed, the flesh remained tender, juices running freely at first bite.

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One of Cynthea’s favourite parts (mine too) is the wing tip. Those stayed gloriously crunchy (not burned) and were a delight to gnaw on. Some were so shatteringly crisp that I could devour them entirely, bone and all! I was starting to realise why these wings were near-obsession for Cynthea, who said, “I think I can eat that everyday!”

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TASTE:
COAL 3606 (Old St Nicks/ Aunty Meow Lang’s Chicken Wings)
Republic Polytechnic The Lawn Foodcourt
9 Woodlands Avenue Block W4/W6 #03-11 S(738964)
Open: 9.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Fri; closed Sat & Sun)
Tel: +65 98589792
NOTE:
Open to public only during off-peak hours – before 11am or after 1pm.
Best is to call/ text James Ngiam to be sure the wings are available and entry permitted.
He takes delivery orders too. I simply texted him to agree on the quantity, date & time, then made payment via PayNow. Easy!

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Old-School Fried Carrot Cake To Queue For!

chef jeremy ngueeGreetings Makan Kakis!
We have yet another new Foodie Friend to get acquainted with this week – Business Director of Preparazzi (luxury catering & culinary concepts) and Strategic Partner of The Dempsey Project / All-Day Dining & Gourmet Grocery on Dempsey Hill – Chef Jeremy Nguee!
We chatted about all the fun events to enjoy at The Dempsey Project, including culinary nights that take you around the world (Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, India and more to come), Italian-style Monday & Tuesday happy hour Apertivo with affordable drinks & small plates, as well as the everyday luxuries like olive oils, vinegars, spreads, chocolates, cheese and more on sale in their gourmet pantry.
Chef Jeremy also recommends a childhood favourite – Chye Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake) you should definitely try!
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Feast your eyes on these beauties, Foodie Friends! Our new Makan Kaki Chef Jeremy Nguee takes us for a fried carrot cake experience right out of his childhood. Growing up in the Keppel area, his top choice for hawker delights was Telok Blangah Food Centre (Block 79) and to this day, the famous chye tow kway stall there remains a favourite. Granted, everyone has their favourite place for their fried carrot cake fix, but Chef Jeremy says it’s always really nice to just try different expressions of the hawker dish, so do give this one go!
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At Yuan Cheng Carrot Cake, the Auntie fries up batch after batch of fragrant, smoke-kissed chye tow kway, but Chef Jeremy warns their opening hours can be a bit of a lottery. They are sometimes closed on a Tuesday and sometimes on a Thursday, so if unsure, go on any other day of the week! To him, some dishes may appear super-simple, but when a Master is cooking, there are small nuances and skills that go into it and with each bite, you really can feel their life experience and dedication to craft. They may be very casual and flippant about the amout of effort they put into their dish, but when you taste it, you know they are actually very serious. This is what Yuan Cheng Carrot Cake is like for Chef Jeremy.

Continue reading “Old-School Fried Carrot Cake To Queue For!”