Another Contender for Best Bak Chor Mee?

Today we have a pair of very interesting and talented studio guests who are doing their part to promote culinary & cultural exchange between Germany and Singapore! They are 1-Michelin Starred Chef Oliver Röder from Bembergs Häuschen, famous for putting a modern spin on traditional German & Eifel cuisines, as well as Singapore’s emerging hawker, Kai of Roast Paradise at Old Airport Road Food Centre. Scroll all the way down for his Bak Chor Mee recommendation!

On-air, we had a great chat about their own personal culinary backgrounds, their food philosophies, what they like to cook at home for friends and family when they aren’t cooking for work, and also more about Chef Oliver’s first-time visit to Singapore. Besides experiencing Kai’s pork roasting techniques and sampling his deliciously charred delicacies, Chef Oliver had a wet market visit and a joint cooking collaboration with Kai at the German Ambassador’s residence (see photos below).

Char Siew, dripping with marinade, being roasted over a charcoal fire
Creating sparks with roasted meats!
They actually removed the whole bespoke oven from their stall in Old Airport Road Food Centre, hired a lorry & transported it to the German Ambassador’s home!
Kai and their makeshift meat rack!
Gloriously charred pork, burnished a deep caramel.

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Kai’s roast meat stall is at the famous Old Airport Road Food Centre, so it’s only natural he gravitates towards makan places close by. Case in point, a nondescript stall in a coffee shop a little way down the road, at Block 21. But it is here that he believes he has found his personal favourite bak chor mee. It’s really the perfect place for really late-nightbirds, or really early breakfasters, since it opens only from 4-10am. What makes the noodles here good (be sure to order them dry with chilli), is the perfect balance that we look for, between the meatiness, the fishiness, the al dente noodle texture, the combination of lard (ask the uncle for lots – it’s extra crispy!), oil and sauces. This is a good, honest bowl of mee pok that really hits the spot.

TASTE:
Handmade Fishball & Minced Meat Noodles
Choon Guan Eating House
Block 21 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390021
Open Daily 4am – 10am (but may sell-out even before 10am, so get there early!)

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Nuts about Pistachio Grill!

HEAR:
Click this to listen to this week’s spicy smoked episode!

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This week, join cookbook author & restaurateur Violet Oon at an unusual place for world-class Middle-Eastern/ Mediterranean food prepared by a highly skilled Egyptian chef! Hidden away in Zhong Shan Mall along Balestier Road is a little kitchen unit serving up wonderfully authentic delicacies from the Middle East & Mediterranean in the atrium of the shopping centre. Don’t be put off by the very open plan, the food here is fit for royalty! Why? Because Chef Khaled Elelimi has cooked for sheiks, kings, dignitaries and all the Middle Eastern embassies based in Singapore. You might recognise him from his stint at the Shangri-la Hotel, but over his 20 years in the culinary business, he has also worked at Four Seasons Hotels across the globe and also specialises in healthy Ayurvedic spa cuisine. Married to a lovely Singaporean, Chef Khaled & his wife Agnes are now the proud owners of Pistachio Middle Eastern & Mediterranean Grill, which at barely a year old, offers classic dishes with a contemporary twist for lunch and dinner. Everything is made from scratch and served fresh. Violet was introduced to this hidden gem of a restaurant by her friend and Singapore’s Golden Girl of Swimming, Pat Chan. They absolutely love the food there and these are Violet’s recommendations:

The enormous flat bread is delicious with hummus and olive oil. Great as a shared starter.

Be sure to order the Lebanese Platter – juicy boneless marinated chicken kebabs served with garlic sauce, fresh salad,and the beautifully fragrant and fluffy saffron rice. The homemade Harissa (Moroccan chilli paste) is a must dolloped over everything!

The Turkish Platter is another delicious option if you love good quality beef.

If it’s seafood you’re craving for, try Chef Khaled’s Fish Chermoula, which is an oven-baked Sea Bass fillet seasoned with Moroccan spices or, Violet’s top pick, the black mussels with garlic cream and garlic bread.

The whole family will enjoy the food here, as child-friendly dishes like pastas, pizzas and wraps are available, along with classic dishes including baklava, tagines & falafels, which are perfect for sharing. Best of all, with his training, Chef Khaled approaches his food with a very light touch and believes in the freshness, quality of produce and prepares everything very healthily. He and his wife also offer up warm, friendly hospitality along with the delicious food, so Violet urges everyone to go discover the lovely Pistachio Grill for yourself. You’ll get food fit for kings, but at very unkingly prices – sublime cuisine that’s unbelieveably great value for money! She believes in the care, the skill and the flavours Chef Khaled brings to the table and it’s about time this little treasure of a restaurant got its turn in the spotlight!

TASTE:
PISTACHIO GRILL
20 Ah Hood Road, Zhongshan Mall #01-15
Singapore 329984
Tel: 6262 6400
Open Daily: 11.30am – 9pm

*all photos via http://www.facebook.com/pistachiogrill

Try this Seafood Restaurant’s MEAT!

HEAR:
CLICK for audio of this week’s beefy, fatty episode!

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This week, Chef Tim Ross-Watson invites us to revisit a well-known seafood restaurant, not for its seafood, but oddly enough, for its top-notch meat dishes. New Ubin Seafood doesn’t really need an introduction, except to say this place has been consistently good and it’s still making headlines after a recent move from Sin Ming to Hillview.

So the usual suspects like crab, cereal prawn & 3 egg veg aside, Chef Tim reckons the best thing on their menu is their steak, which is juicy and done to your preference.


It comes with crispy and fluffy potato wedges on the side, along with sea salt, caramelised onions, ketchup and english mustard, but really what you want to order along with the meaty platter is their dirty fried rice.

All the pan drippings and caramelised bits at the bottom of the pan (i.e. the “dirty” pan) are used to fry rice to a deep, dark burnished deliciousness. Beef trimmings are added to the hot pan and tossed in the rice and beef fat till crunchy and oh so good.

You get a sinfully rich beef fat fried rice packed full of flavour and texture. Some customers also call it heart attack fried rice, for good reason! Take note though, you need to order the steak to get the fried rice. Remember: no steak, no rice, no joy!

To up the coronary-destroying factor, Chef Tim suggests ordering a side of foie gras egg – essentially, a decadent sous vide egg with generous chunks of goose liver – and then mixing the whole lot in with the fried rice. What you get is a ridiculously luxurious, calorific, fatty flavour bomb in your mouth! Chef Tim’s final recommendation is the Kurobuta pork jowl satay, which is tender and charred to perfection.


So really, you do get the best of both worlds at New Ubin – great seafood, but also really excellent meat dishes that are absolutely irresistible! What also makes this restaurant different is, despite its humble, casual setting, they have a very impressive range of wines and the affable boss Mr Pang has been known to join diners for a glass of whisky or 2!

TASTE:
NEW UBIN SEAFOOD
63 Hillview Avenue
Lam Soon Industrial Building
#06-00
Singapore 669569

Open Daily: 11AM – 2PM; 5.30 – 10.30PM

Tel: +65 6466 9558 / +65 9740 6870

Satay So Sedap!

lau-par-sat-satay-stall-8-assorted-satay-chicken-babat-muttonHEAR:
Click here to listen to Fir Rahman’s satay recommendation!

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This week, our Makan Kaki and actor Fir Rahman (currently starring in Toy Factory Productions’ Prism at the Drama Centre till 5 Mar) returns to tell us about his favourite place for satay. When it comes to these traditional Asian skewers of marinated meats, Fir’s go-to is Lau Pa Sat, but amongst the many stalls there plying their trade by night, which should you choose? Fir’s choice is Stall Number 8 for one very simple reason – friendship! His friend’s dad sells satay at stall 8, so not only does he get a delicious meal, he gets treated very well. Ok, so even if you don’t have that friendship connection, this satay is worth a try – choose from meats like chicken, beef, mutton (Fir’s favourite), babat (tripe), and even whole prawns on skewers. Fir loves the strong, gamey flavour of the mutton because it goes very well with the peanut sauce, which is earthy, spicy-sweet and holds up well to the meat. But the mutton is so tasty, you can even eat it alone. And if mutton’s not for you, Fir also recommends the extra spicy chicken chilli padi satay! Add onions, cucumber and ketupat, you’re in charcoal BBQ heaven!
lau-par-sat-satay-stall-8-shopfrontTASTE:
Best Satay Stall 8
Lau Pa Sat Satay Street (outdoors)
18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Open daily: 7pm till late.

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

Elevated Modern BBQ

HEAR:
For audio to this week’s smokey-charred episode, click to listen!

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This week, join our Makan Kaki Executive Chef Jordi Noguera of Pim Pam by FOC for some exceptional barbeque! When chefs agree that this is THE PLACE for amazing wood-fire grilled food in Singapore, it says a lot about the quality of the produce, the taste of the food and the whole dining experience. This is the FOURTH TIME Burnt Ends has been mentioned as a must-try restaurant, so really it needs no introduction, except to say that now in his 4th year helming this casual, yet elevated modern BBQ restaurant, Australian Chef Dave Pynt is still turning out excellent food that shouldn’t be missed.

When we talk about BBQ, it’s hard to not talk about tasty charred meats, but today, Chef Jodi suggests you look beyond the usual (though absolutely delicious) meats and focus on the fresh vegetables being prepped and grilled up. At Burnt Ends, they have a very special skill at elevating the humble fennel or leek to something sublime, yet simple and honest. The grill master coaxes such beautiful, complex flavours out from the vegetables!

In particular, Chef Jordi wants to highlight the leek, blackened on the grill before being stripped down to its tender insides and blanketed with a buttery, citrusy sauce and hazelnuts. This is just one example of good grill skills and good, honest flavour from the freshest, best quality produce. No wonder, then, that Burnt Ends was voted 14th in the Asia’s 50 Best 2016 and 30th in 2015.

Other dishes you might want to try include the Burnt Ends Sanger with Pulled Pork Shoulder, Spicy Chipotle Aioli, Jalapenos and coleslaw in a brioche bun or the Roasted Robbin’s Island Rump on Dripping Toast with Mustard and Tartare Salad.While walk-ins are welcome, reservations are usually a must at this intimate restaurant, where you sit at  the countertop table directly looking into the open kitchen, where choice cuts, fresh seafood and veggies are grilled over wood embers or cooked in the 800 degree celsius wood-fired ovens. Yes, even dessert, like this Oven Roasted Pineapple with Rum and Pistachio.

So for a truly unique barbeque experience, you’ve gotta eat at Burnt Ends! Need more convincing? Check out what our other Makan Kakis have to say:

TASTE:
BURNT ENDS
20 Teck Lim Road Singapore 088391
Opening Hours: Lunch Wednesday – Saturday 11:45am – 2pm; Dinner Tuesday – Saturday 6:00pm – Late
Closed Sunday and Mondays
Reservations: +65 6224 3933

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photo credits: instagram @burntends_sg  & facebook @burntendsSG
video credit: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants on YouTube

Palace of Thai Chicken!

$13 lunch set

HEAR:

  • Chef Anthony Yeoh of Restaurant Cocotte is back to tell us about Grass Fed Steak, Duck Fat Fries, Big Pots of Mussels and Weekend Brunches at Cocotte: Click here to listen!
  • For Chef Tony’s recommedation of Fried Chicken, click here!

SEE:
Today, Chef Anthony takes us to his buddy Bjorn Shen’s (of Middle-eastern “Dude Food” restaurant, Artichoke, fame) other restaurant, the awesomely named BIRD BIRD PALACE OF THAI CHICKEN! This is THE place to be for all things chicken, done of course, Thai-style. This joint has a relaxed, fun, mouthwatering “dude” vibe, where ice-cold beers, decadent desserts and sinful snacks are served with a side of attitude. You will not be able to resist the lure of deep-fried chicken, whether it’s for a pre-party meal or a post-night-out drunken supper. They are. however, also open for lunch and their sets go for an impressive $13.

But why stop at a set lunch when you can have more? Here are Chef Tony’s recomendations…

1. Start off with their “Cock Scratchings”, which are essentially deep fried chicken skins – crunchy, salty snacks that go down a treat with icy beers.

2. Gai Tod – Southern Thai Fried Chicken that comes with a shower of crispy garlic and caramalised chilli jam. This is Tony’s favourite – the spice mix, the marinade, the crispy skin and juicy meat make for a sinfully delicious lunch:

gaotod

3. If you’re not into deep fried, you can also try the equally good Gai Yang – Isaan Province BBQ chicken with a lemongrass marinade, and smoked chilli nam jim:

esan grilled

4. To feel a little more virtuous, try the lovely, fresh Summer Noodle Salad served in a coconut milk dressing. The crispy seafood nuggets balance out all the healthy stuff going on in your plate!

summer salad

5. To finish off your meal, why not have the ridiculous, mind-blowing Bird Bird Sundae? It’s a crazy concoction of coconut ice cream, palm sugar caramel, sweet corn and FRIED CHICKEN SKINS!!!
chicken skin sundae

Be sure to go with friends, because the food here is served in big platters, perfect for lip-smacking, finger-licking sharing!

TASTE:
BIRD BIRD PALACE OF THAI CHICKEN
18 Ann Siang Road, #01-01, Singapore 069698

OPEN TUES – SAT

LUNCH
Tuesday – Saturday 11.30am – 2.30pm

DINNER
Tuesday – Thursday 6.30 – 10pm
Friday & Saturday 6.30 – 11pm

CLOSED ON SUNDAY & MONDAY

Putting the Tori in Yakitori

HEAR:
Listen to this week’s smokelicious episode!

SEE:

yakitori_don
Yakitori Don (Grilled Chicken on Rice)

There’s nothing quite like the smoky-charred flavour of grilled meats treated with respect and skill, except maybe fresh seafood done the Japanese way and this week, our Makan Kaki Chef Anthony Yeoh recommends a restaurant that combines the best of both worlds.

Chef Asai is the affable grill master of Bincho, a tiny little Japanese Yakitori joint in Tiong Bahru. Literally a hole in the wall, you enter through the coppery back door that it takes you into the bar area, which is decked out in metals, so it’s like being in a submarine. The story goes that the mee pok man running his stall was looking to retire, give way to the setting up of Bincho and simply collect rent from that enterprise, but there was a certain amount of backlash about the gentrifying of Tiong Bahru and edging out of old businesses, so they hit upon a more collaborative idea. Mee Pok man came out of retirement to serve his beloved noodles at lunchtime, whilst Bincho operates side-by-side.

Ultimately, what you get from Bincho at Hua Bee is the unique look and ambiance of a 70-year old traditional kopitiam featuring said old school mee pok stall, classic coffee & kaya toast, classic marble tables with wooden chairs PLUS the modern open-concept yakitori bar with playful Japanese-inspired cocktails as well as Japanese whiskies, sake and shochu.

Bincho serves up wonderful lunchtime Donburi sets ranging from $25++ that includes appetizers, salad, pickles, karage, soup and dessert. Chef Anthony recommends the Uni Ikura Donburi set – it’s luxurious, super-fresh and so delicious.

uni ikura don
Uni Ikura Don

For dinner, there are three types of set menus but be sure to order off the à la carte menu for some extra tasty specialities.

Full Dinner Set with chicken
Side dishes from Dinner Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The menus at Bincho change frequently depending on what fresh produce is available that day, but chicken in various ways, shapes and forms will always remain the star of the kitchen (that’s where the tori in yakitori comes in!). In fact, if you’re feeling adventurous, don’t miss out on the cock’s comb – gelatinous & soft in texture, it’s a delicacy that Chef Asai does exceptionally well!

cock'scomb
Cock’s Comb!

Other smoking-hot favourites include Yakitori shio: grilled parts of chicken served with three types of condiments – yuzukoshō, freshly grated wasabi and mushroom salt an Yakitori tare: Grilled chicken parts dipped into a homemade sauce and served with Japanese mustard, wholegrain mustard and kuro shichimi ‘Black Japanese Seven Spice’.

yakitori_shio_yakitori_tare
TOP: Yakitori shio; BOTTOM: Yakitori tare

But do save room for the tsukune, which is essentially a chicken meatball/ patty that is grilled to juicy, tender perfection and made even more delicious with its crowning glory – a raw quail egg cracked right on top!

tsukune_chicken_meatball
Tsukune Chicken Meatball

TASTE:
Bincho at Hua Bee
78 Moh Guan Terrace (Tiong Bahru)
#01-19
Singapore 162078
Tel: +65 6438 4567
Opening Hours:
Lunch
Tuesday – Sundays: 12pm – 3.00pm
Dinner
Tuesdays – Sundays: 6pm till late
(Closed Mondays)