Best of 2017 – Makan Kakis’ Top Ten List

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Gluttonous Greetings Everyone & Happy New Year!

2017 saw a whole host of new foodie friends joining our rolling panel of Makan Kakis and along with them came a stupendous slew of new & delicious food recommendations. So as we begin 2018, let’s take a look back at some of the most popular makan places that really caught your attention in 2017. Click on each for details & enjoy!

10. Another Best Contender for Bak Chor Mee?
9. Curry Rice that’s a CUT Above!
8. Firebaked Excellence
7. Geylang Hokkien Mee NOT in Geylang
6. Super Crispy Prata
5. Raw Egg Bak Chor Mee?!
4. Nuts about Pistachio Grill
3. Magnificent Mee Pok
2. Karried Away by Kway Chap
1. Die-Die-Must-Try Fishball & Herh Keow

Just wanna listen to the audio? Click here!

Thank you so much for your support of our tasty little segment on Gold 905 and for helping it grow bigger and better. If you like what you hear on air and what you see here on the blog, do share share share! Here’s to yet another year of yum – may your 2018 be overflowing with the best things to eat and drink – Season’s Eatings!

P.S.

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You’ll AMÒ these Pizzas & Pastas! 

HEAR:
Click to hear this week’s incredibly Italian episode!

SEE:

Spaghettoni with whole boston lobster & tarragon for two!

There’s a new place that our Makan Kaki, Chef-Owner of Morsels, Petrina Loh has just tried along Hong Kong Street. Located conveniently for Chef Petrina, she often runs errands along that stretch, picking up her traditional chinese herbs for her own restaurant from just across the street. If there’s parking, she always takes advantage to hop out in search for something good to eat. And boy, is Amò GOOD! It’s a pizza-pasta place started by Italian restaurateur Beppe De Vito, of Il Lido fame and also, the man behind Baci, a recent 1 Michelin Star awardee. So, one would have high hopes for this casual eatery, no? And apparently, recent discovery Amò does not disappoint. Highly recommended by her other chef friends, how can you resist comfort food like Italian pizzas and pastas done exceedingly well?

Tagliolini with spicy young cuttlefish & squid ink

For Chef Petrina, the home-made pasta with spicy young cuttlefish with squid ink on the side was outstanding. So tasty & deeply umami, the tender squid pairs perfectly with the al dente Tagliolini, which she says delightedly, is like a cross between mee pok and mee kia! What’s brilliant is that you can ask for extra spice and the staff very obligingly bring out the fiery good stuff for you to add. The kitchen is aware of how some Singaporeans like their meals spicy and have concocted an insane chilli paste, made from chilli padi, garlic, salt and olive oil, all whizzed up fresh in a blender. It’s got tremendous kick and a freshness that balances the searingly hot burn, but use sparingly – you’ve been warned!

Olive you! ❤

Another lovely touch is the wooden bowls of yummy stuffed olives you get served with every meal (perfect with a refreshing Aperol Spritz – cocktail of Prosecco & Aperol). Chef Petrina can’t get enough of these briny spheres of deliciousness! Sourced from from Beppe’s family’s olive farm, these are plump little green morsels, stuffed with peppers and exploding with appetite-whetting flavour.

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

If you’re looking for a yummy starter, try their zucinni flowers, unusually stufffed with a fluffy, creamy, light-as-air Mortadella filling, along with pistachio & lemon honey.

As for the pizzas, Denise (who also has been) recommends two excellent ones. Made meticulously with a starter that is lovingly tended daily, this mother dough births pizza bases full of flavor and texture. They are at once crisp, wonderfully blistered and charred on the edges, as well as delightfully tender and chewy in the centre. Taking an average of only 5-10 minutes to cook in their wood-fired oven, the toppings elevate the simple pizza to a whole other stratosphere!

Try these:

Bone Marrow Pizza

The Bone Marrow Pizza with fresh radish, wild garlic pesto and anchovy salsa verde, is rich and luscious from the marrow, yet fresh, zingy and astringent from the greens and pesto. This is a beautiful foil for the very decadent, very savoury Truffle Pizza, which is pretty much THE BEST in Singapore at the moment.

Truffle Mushroom Pizza

Loaded with layer upon layer of aromatic fungi flavour, the Truffle Mushroom Pizza boasts a creamy truffle-marscapone base, wild mushrooms, Tuscan pecorino, a scattering of microgreens and is finished with fresh truffles shaved very liberally all over the top. So delicious, so addictive, so fragrant, you may want to finish the entire pizza yourself!

Amò lives up to its name – you can really feel the love here – from the lovingly prepared, on point, super-delicious food, to the casual, lively atmosphere, to the wonderfully attentive staff (Hi Jody!) – this is one Italian restaurant that’s far from run-of-the-mill & should not be missed!

TASTE:
AMÒ – CASUAL ITALIAN RESTAURANT
33 Hong Kong Street Singapore 059672
Open for Lunch: 12 – 3pm (Monday – Friday) / Dinner: 6 – 11pm (Monday – Saturday)
Tel: +65 67237733

Firebaked Excellence

Fruit & Nut Loaf (L), Sourdough (R)

HEAR:
Click to listen to this week’s firebaked episode!

SEE:
This week, our Makan Kaki, writer, homecook and founder of private dining experience FatFuku, Annette Tan returns with another delicious recommendation from her home turf in the East of Singapore. Firebake – Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant is an awesome casual dining establishment that has seen packed houses and lots of return regulars since it opened earlier this year.

Cast-Iron Stove from the 1880s!

What’s unique about Firebake is how they cook their food – they are the proud owners of 2 wood-fired ovens built from scratch using fire bricks & volcanic lava, amongst other exotic materials, the better to withstand the searingly hot temperatures of the burning wood within. They also have a beautiful cast iron stove that dates back to the 1880s, sourced from Europe, painstakingly restored, shipped to Singapore and now fueled by charcoal or wood, to produce gorgeous, smoke-tinged dishes.

Built-from-scratch brick oven & loaves

From the wood-fired ovens come wonderfully dense loaves, churned out daily. Sourdough is a house speciality not to be missed. Only organic flour imported from Western Australia is used. Even the wood for the ovens is specially imported!

fruit & nut!

Another absolute must-try is the fruit and nut bread, which is perfect with their mind-blowing chicken liver pate. Annette love, love, LOVES the pate, which is made from equal parts butter and chicken liver, so you can imagine how decadent it is. Funny thing is, while sinfully buttery, the pate is light as air and supremely silky. Apart from luscious, no other adjectives can describe just how tasty, rich and fresh this chicken liver pate tastes! Slather the earthy pate thickly over the sweet fruit and nut bread, and you’ve got a perfect pairing.

Luscious pate with fruit & nut bread
steak with chimmichurri & jerusalem artichokes

In fact, everything on the menu has been created with their house-made, fire-baked breads in mind. All dishes are designed to pair well with the breads, including the thick, perfectly medium rare steaks served with Jerusalem artichokes & Chimmichurri sauce, as well as the mussels & chorizo served in a cast iron pot.

mussels in cast-iron pot

In Firebake, you get an honset-to-God hard working bakery, whose staff return daily, even on off-days to feed the starters (mother dough) & the fires, so that everything runs smoothly and their customers get their freshly baked goods day in, day out. Rejoice! Their famous sourdoughs and fruit and nut loaves are available for takeaway.

Hello, Mother!

Firebake stands out because everything from its people to the equipment has been passionately invested and it really shows in the food. So next time you’re looking for excellent baked breads and hearty meals made from quality ingredients, all cooked to fired perfection, you’ve got to head Eastside to Firebake!

TASTE:
Firebake – Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant 
237 East Coast Road Level 1
Singapore 428930
Open Times:
Tue-Wed: 6-10pm
Thu-Fri: 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm
Sat-Sun: 8.30-11:30 am, 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm
Closed Monday
Tel: +65 64401228

VIDEO: CURRY PUFFS WORTH THE CALORIES

Hi Hungry People! Have you heard? My Makan Kakis radio show on the Lunchtime Jukebox is now an online series! This month, it’s all about everybody’s favourite spicy, crispy snacks – CURRY PUFFS! Watch all the delicious, deep-fried foodie action unfold on Gold 905’s FB, or visit 8Days.sg, as I take you from East to West for some of the best! With thanks to my Foodie Friends Chef Willin Low & Actor Fir Rahman for their recommendations.

You can also read more about these two curry puff options:
TRY THIS: SHA ZAH CONFECTIONARY
OR THAT: FONG’S DEE CURRY PUFFS

Missed my 1st video episode on Fishballs and Herh Keow? Click here to catch up!

3 Michelin Star Dining


HEAR:
Listen to Violet Oon‘s latest episode about fine dining in Singapore!

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This week, our Makan Kaki Violet Oon (have you tried her latest Satay Bar & Grill yet?) wants to take us on a gastronomic experience to end all experiences – if you have a very special occasion coming up or looking for an extraordinary treat or if you only try fine dining once in your life, you might want to dine at one of the very best in Singapore, 3 Michelin starred Joël Robuchon Restaurant. Violet calls this place “THE WORKS”, a flight of fancy into delights of the palate and in fact, all your senses. Dining here reminded Violet of the heady days of fine dining and entertainment in Paris back in the 80s and 90s, but make no mistake, the food here is not stuck in the past. What you’ll get is sheer perfection – French haute cuisine served in the form of inventive and delicious French classics, premium wines, impeccable service and attention to every detail.

Violet recommends the $298++ degustation menu, which is exquisite but not too heavy on the stomach. And from a chef and restaurateur’s point of view, she believes that the price tag is truly great value for the entirety of the experience, from the luxe interors, ambiance, service, wines and needless to say, sublime quality of food.

First of all, you’ll be dazzled by Robuchon’s famed bread basket, brimming with up to 10 different kinds of bread, from classic baguette, to sour dough, to bacon & onion and more. You’ll have to discipline yourself here, limit your bread intake despite the temptation to sample everything, because there is so much more to come…

Different Amuse Bouche follow –  for example, chilled sweet corn veloute with imperial caviar and golden croutons and then you get a choice of a hot and a cold starter, like the hot seafood bouillabaisse that just sings of the South of France and the chilled king crab avocado cannelloni.

For the main course, Violet was particularly taken by the line-caught crispy fish, or generous whole lobster. But if you prefer a red meat, their baby lamb rack and saddle was a masterpiece.

You can then finish off your meal with a choice of dessert from their ala carte menu, but Violet recommends going for the cheese trolley, where the sheer variety and carefully curated selection is simply jaw-dropping and delicious, to say the least. Follow up your cheese course with the dessert caravan, a multi-tiered wonderland of sweet treats and ice-cream just there for the sampling. But that’s not the end – coffee or tea, done to your liking, round things off, along with more delicate, perfectly formed petit fours.

Keeping in mind that the menus (degustation & ala carte) change regularly according to the seasons, you can be assured of a meal that as been described as “magic” – every dish is painstakingly created and different from the next in flavour and texture. The skill with which every dish is handled and prepared is unparalleled.This is a meal that you simply cannot recreate at home by yourself (unless you’re a 3 Michelin starred chef!) and that’s why Joël Robuchon Restaurant is an excellent choice when you want a luxurious experience that’s worth the money you pay. Violet was most impressed and thinks the 3 stars award by Michelin was well deserved.

TASTE:
Joël Robuchon Restaurant
Resorts World Sentosa
Hotel Michael, Level 1
Open for Dinner: 6 – 10.30pm (Tue – Sat), closed Sunday & Monday, except Public Holidays
Tel: +65 65777888
Reservation: Robuchon@RWSentosa.com

Nasi Lemak to the Max!

HEAR:

SEE:
This week, we introduce you to TWO new foodie friends who are avid and prolific cooks, soon to be seen in the Singapore International Arts Festival’s O.P.E.N. Kitchens, a series of interactive and delicious culinary performances, in which you get to prepare a meal with them, whilst enjoying stories and perhaps even songs! Please meet Asha Adnan of Asha & Co. and Oniatta Effendi of Baju by Oniatta, both with wonderful stories and dishes to share (Listen to the audio of them sharing above)! For today’s episode of Makan Kakis, we begin with self-confessed “Nasi Girl” Oniatta recommending a restaurant that ruined her for ordinary Nasi Lemak. She says this place turned her into a Nasi Lemak snob and no other will do. Nestled in a cosy part of Ann Siang Hill, Coconut Club has made waves with their instagrammable environment and food, but aesthetics aside, this is really a solid, outstanding plate of coconut rice and dishes. The brainchild of 3 friends who went to a Nasi Lemak convention in Malaysia, Coconut Club was opened with the best quality in mind.
Nasi Lemak in itself is a basic comfort food, but Coconut Club really elevates the humble home dish with their expert handling of quality ingredients – from the otak-otak to the fried chicken, everything is truly sedap, says Oniatta. And on days their sambal lala is available, be sure to get your order in ASAP – soooo good!
Be sure to leave room for their array of coconutty desserts, traditional kueh-kueh, from Kueh Salat to Kueh Bingka Ubi.
Coconut Club lives up to its name with their Kueh Ko Swee or Kuih Kosui, absolutely smothered with grated coconut!
Oniatta has since discovered that the intense coconut flavours that pervade all their dishes come from special coconuts they source at a secret plantation in Malaysia…
Finally, wash all that coconutty goodness down with a excellent teh tarik or kopi, from Master Desmond, who usually plies his trade outside Changi Prison but was lured over to Coconut Club to serve up his fantastic drinks. All in all, Oniatta says whilst there has been a lot of hype about Coconut Club and their “atas” Nasi Lemak, the $12.80 price per plate is more than worth it!

TASTE:
COCONUT CLUB
6, Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787
Open for lunch: 11am – 3pm (Tuesday – Sunday)
Open for dinner: 6 – 9.30pm (Tuesday – Saturday)
Tel: +65 6635 2999

Deli Sarnies Done Right

HEAR:
Click here to listen to this week’s fresh-baked sandwich extravaganza!

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Hey Hey, Makan Kakis! Are you looking for great Deli-style sandwiches that are chock-a-block with decadent ingredients? This is one place that we’ve mentioned before but bears repeating because it really is that good! This week, our foodie friend Chef Tim Ross-Watson of PIXIEMOSS recommends chef-favourite, Park Bench Deli, for a Europrean-American sandwich in which you get more filling than bread, about 70% filling : 30% bread – talk about more bang for your buck! These guys don’t skimp at all. in fact, they sometimes cut out some of the bread so they can cram more luscious filling in! And what do they do with the excess bread? Cleverly make croutons for other dishes, of course!
So what’s good to eat? Just about everyone recommends the sinfully-delicious PBJ Sandwich, a massive sweet treat featuring 3 layers of overindulgence – picture this: 2 slices of bread flanking thick slatherings of peanut butter and jelly, with a centre layer of sweet corn bread, all of which is battered in cornflakes and pan-fried in butter! Crunchy, oozy, ridiculously delicious – this is a must-try!
If you want a savoury, main course type of sandwich, Chef Tim recommends the fried chicken katsu sandwich, which is juicy and crispy. You get a panko-crumbed chicken thigh, tonkatsu sauce, japanese cucumber, shredded cabbage and lashings of Japanese mayo – MMMM!  Try also the Vietnamese-inspired Bahn Mi sandwich, which is full of this porky goodness:
You get slabs of melt-in-your-mouth slow-braised pork belly in a pillowy French Baguette, along with lots of pickled julienned veg and coriander. Perfectly balanced flavours of fatty, piggy richness and crisp, tangy pickle. Soooo good!

TASTE:
PARK BENCH DELI
179 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore, 068627
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 10.30am – 10pm; closed 4  – 5pm;  Sat 10.30am – 4pm
Tel: +65 68154600

Best Bak Kwa?

bakkwa1HEAR:
Click here for this week’s smoky, porky, charred episode!

SEE:
Chinese New Year’s been over for less than a month, but really, for fans of Asian Meat Candy, Bak Kwa should be a year-round treat! That’s why this week, our Makan Kaki, Owner & Executive Chef of PYXIEMOSS, Tim Ross-Watson recommends his favourite. But with the sheer number of Bak Kwa brands across the island, what sets this one apart from the rest?

bakkwa5Chef Tim swears by Kim Hock Seng for its history, tradition and persisting artisanal commitment to quality. This is a discreet little shop, easily overlooked along hipster central Keong Saik Road. Kim Hock Seng has been there for decades, producing bak kwa that is smokey, charred and full of that good old savoury-sweet pork flavour you remember from bygone days. That’s because the genial old gentleman at Kim Hock Seng still uses the time-honoured traditions of BBQ to create his bak kwa. Chef Tim loves that he uses a lot less sugar, preferring to let the natural pork flavour, lightly seasoned & spiced, shine through. After spending a long time chatting with him to find out more, Chef Tim  discovered that his bak-kwa-making process is as pain-staking as it is time-consuming. Basically, everything is done by hand.

bakkwa3Firstly, the choicest cuts of pork are selected for their fat content and tenderness, which result in perfectly chewy yet succulent bak kwa. Next, the meat is hand-ground to a rough mince, then spice and seasonings are added, after which thin, large circular slabs of the mince pork are rolled out and then small fires are lit under the smokers.

The huge rounds of flattened, seasoned & spiced minced pork are then laid out on equally huge, round bamboo mats, ready for the huge smoking cupboards, in which they are left to smoke for a full 24 hours. It takes years & years of experience to control the fire and smoke, which are kept going overnight.

bakkwa4Once the 24-hour overnight smoking is done, the circular slabs of meat are sliced into the recognisable squares and then barbequed over a charcoal grill for extra smoky flavour. You can really taste the hand-made, artisanal quality of the end product!

Kim Hock Seng’s best-selling Sliced Bak Kwa goes for $52/kg. And while it sounds strange, they also sell fruits during the day. Kind of a balance between healthy and not-so-healthy, perhaps? Although it does kind of make sense when Chef Tim explains he often buys pineapple together with his bak kwa, because the tangy-tart fruit cuts through richness of the bak kwa beautifully.

bakkwa2TASTE:
KIM HOCK SENG BAK KWA
34 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089141
Open Daily: 10.30am – 10.30pm
Tel: 6221 4882

* All pictures via facebook.com/kimhockseng