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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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!

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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

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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

Putting the Tori in Yakitori

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Listen to this week’s smokelicious episode!

SEE:

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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’.

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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)

Where Chefs Eat: David Myers of Adrift

Denise with David Myers at his MBS restaurant, Adrift

This week, I had the chance to catch up with LA-based chef David Myers, while he’s in town to check in on his gorgeous restaurant Adrift at the Marina Bay Sands.

Chef Myers is all about fresh produce from California and Japan, and at Adrift, small plates, healthy salads, seafood, and grilled meats all come together beautifully Izakaya-style. It would be hard to pick favourites, but Chef Myers recommends you try the King Crab Melt, Hamachi Salad with Ponzu Sauce & the special Omakase menu.

For bookings, visit marinabaysands.com or call 6688 5657.

Click here for more on our conversation about Adrift, the must-try dishes, what inspires Chef Myers’ cooking and interesting projects he has in the pipeline.

So when Chef Myers is in Singapore, where does he like to eat? Here are a few of his favourites:

Every time he’s in town, Chef Myers has one go-to place – he makes it a point to stop by before he heads to the airport. He can’t get enough of the  Black Pepper Crab at Long Beach. For him, it’s that combination of the spicy pepper and the incredibly sweet, almost buttery crab that is breath-takingly delicious.

Long Beach Black Pepper Crab

Long Beach @ Dempsey
25 Dempsey Road
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm / 5pm – 1am

Another chef favourite is the ever-popular Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell. Chef Myers has tried many others, but Tian Tian remains his favourite because he feels that the chicken is done just right – poached simply and when served with the pandan-scented, chicken-fat-flavoured rice with chilli, it’s a combination that is out of this world.
TIANTIAN
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (天天海南鸡饭)
1 Kadayanallur Street
Maxwell Food Centre
#01-10/11
Open daily except Mondays: 11am – 8pm
Tel: +65 96914852

When it comes to Western food, Chef Myers is partial to Angeleno, an Italian restaurant by Chef David Almany, formerly of Osteria Mozza fame. Using fresh produce from California, signature dishes include carpaccio sliced thinly from American ribeye steaks and eggplant parmigiana, Pasta is made in-house and there’s a wood grill for their amazing steaks and chops.

Angeleno’s Iberico Tomahawk Pork Chops, Summer Beet Salad and Spaghetti of Maine Lobster, roasted tomato and tarragon.

Angeleno
Open Mon-Sat 12 noon – 11pm
20 Gemmill Lane
Tel: 62216986

Burnt Ends also remains another chef favourite and for David Myers, it’s no different. He loves the atmosphere, the food and says it’s always guaranteed a good time when you dine at Dave Pynt’s modern Australian Barbeque restaurant.
steak
BURNT ENDS
20 Teck Lim Road
Lunch: Wednesday – Saturday 11:45am to 2pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6:00pm to Late
Closed Sunday and Mondays
Tel: 6224 3933
For more on Burnt Ends, check this & this out!

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of Makan Kakis & Chef Myers’ recommendations.

Where Chefs Eat: Tippling Club’s Ryan Clift

Chef Ryan Clift & Denise

Tippling Club has been on the cutting edge of modern gastronomy in Singapore and its food continues to astound and delight diners, including our very own Makan Kaki Aun Koh. Helming this exciting, innovative restaurant is this week’s studio guest chef/ owner Ryan Clift, who is representing Singapore this very weekend at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, creating a dinner at gorgeous winery Vasse Felix.

I had to ask, when Chef Ryan’s not jetting about, what and where he likes to eat in Singapore. Here’s what he had to say…

HEAR:
Click here for his food recommendations!
Click here if you want to hear us chat about Tippling Club & the Margaret River Gourmet Escape 2015.

 

 

 

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So where in Singapore does an accomplished chef like Ryan Clift eat?
BURNTENDS

His current favourites include Burnt Ends just off Keong Saik Street for Modern Australian Barbeque. Chef David Pynt is a friend and an amazing cook and the flavours you get at his restaurant from his oven and charcoal are incredible. He always uses what’s in season and the menu changes regularly. So with great produce and great charcoal, your dining experience is always something pretty special. It’s the kind of place you go and just let Chef David take care of you and you can go nuts getting full on all the delicious morsels he puts in front of you. For more on Burnt Ends, check this out!

FOC2FOC1
There’s also FOC on Hong Kong Street, which in Chef Ryan’s opinion, gives us the best representation of Spanish tapas in Singapore, they’ve managed to capture a very authentic Catalan vibe and there are two distinct menus you can choose from – a classic selection of tapas or a more avant garde, modern take on tapas.

FOC Restaurant
40 Hong Kong Street
Open Daily for lunch & dinner, except for Sundays.
Saturdays serves Pintxos Brunch
Tel: +65 6100 4040

LONGBEACHCHILLICRAB
Chef Ryan also confesses to being a Chilli Crab addict and he used to have it twice a week. His all-time favourite has always been Long Beach at Dempsey because he finds it the most consistent.

Long Beach @ Dempsey
25 Dempsey Road
Open Daily: 11am – 3pm / 5pm – 1am

TIANTIAN
You can’t live and work in Singapore and not fall in love with chicken rice and for Chef Ryan, the wildly popular Maxwell food centre icon Tian Tian does it for him.

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (天天海南鸡饭)
1 Kadayanallur Street
Maxwell Food Centre
#01-10/11
Open daily except Mondays: 11am – 8pm
Tel: +65 96914852

Smokin’ Hot Japanese BBQ

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Click here to hear this week’s episode again!

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This week, our Makan Kaki, Chubby Hubby Aun Koh shares with us his favourite Yakiniku place in Singapore…
As far as grilled meats go, Aun has discovered that he much prefers Japanese BBQ, Yakiniku to the Western versions, mainly because you can order different cuts of meat, which means more choice, and because he’s a self-confessed control freak, so he likes that he gets to cook for himself and others at his own pace!
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Owned by a famous Japanese butchery, Yazawa Meat is the best Yakiniku in town according to Aun, mainly because of the variety and quality of the meat. Back in the old days, this butchery used to supply all the Yakiniku places in Japan but now have their own restaurants in Tokyo and also here in Singapore. Whole cows are shipped in from Japan to Singapore and to assure customers of the quality they’re getting, each cow is bestowed a special number, which is proudly displayed on the wall just outside the kitchen. The choicest cuts are available on their special menu insert and are truly exquisite – behold!
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Of course, you’ll be paying for the quality of the meats (everything from pork to chicken to beef) you order off the special menu, but even if you decide on the less expensive main menu, everything is deliciously fresh and well-seasoned. But let’s be honest here: if you dine at Yazawa Meat, you’re really there for the BEEF! The meats come from Australia, the USA and of course, Japan (Wagyu is the highest grade).

Off the grill, be sure to also order the Yuke, which is an irresistible Japanese-Korean-style steak tartare. Unlike its French cousin, the Yuke is seasoned with Asian spices and sauces and really suits the Asian palate. Topped off with a raw egg, Aun assures us it’s a dish you’ll want to have all to yourself, no sharing!
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Vegetables are pretty much an after-thought when you’ve got carnivorism in mind, but it has to be said that even their green sides are tasty and beautifully seasoned, especially their super-strong, super-flavourful shredded chive salad!
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YAZAWA MEAT JAPANESE BBQ
11 Unity Street
#01-01
Robertson Walk
Open Daily: 6-11.30pm
Tel: 6235-2941