Tealightful!

The lovely fragrance of floral teas greeted us as we opened the door. The place was crowded on a wintry Saturday afternoon. Seated at the counter, we struck up an engaging conversation with the server who happened to be the owner. Seeing that I was not local, she spoke English and graciously translated the names of tea for me verbally. We were too late for the lunch sets which had more savoury options. We soon settled for an afternoon tea set. Though we only ordered one cup of tea and a tea set, we were given several different types of tea to sample which I thought was rather generous. We were particularly fascinated with moringa tea, having tasted moringa powder before which we disliked due to its strong unpleasant taste. But the herb itself was known for its numerous medicinal and health benefits and we asked the owner her opinion on the herbal tea. She offered us a tea blend of moringa, strawberry and something else whose name I forgot. The taste was rather pleasant as the moringa was present in a far more palatable amount, this being a tea blend.

The scone set turned out to be just nice and delightful. The scones themselves were light – not too buttery nor heavy unlike some scones I’ve tasted elsewhere – and slightly crunchy and coupled with tea sauce and whipped cream that could also be eaten with a tinge of salt, they turned out to be the perfect afternoon tea set.

I must confess that my knowledge of tea is limited to common ones found in supermarkets like Boh, Dilmah, Twinings and TWG (which is not found in supermarkets). This shop, Echelon Tea House, was like a boutique tea house for Mlesna tea and represented the brand very well.

We left happy and bought more tea as gifts for friends – a tealightful afternoon indeed. And I know just who to recommend this tea house to.

Echelon Tea House shopfront

Echelon Tea House

3 Chome-34-3 Yoshinohonchō, Tokushima-shi, Tokushima-ken 770-0802

Tel: 088-652-7078

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Dessert shop that opens till late!

We were looking for a dessert place that opened till late on the eve of a public holiday and we found this place that opened until 11p.m. They even serve local coffee!

Mango Sago with chempedak! I think the mango sago with pomelo was better. I wish they had added more chempedak so that the taste was stronger.

Chocolate snowed ice with chocolate ice-cream

Waffle with fruit and chocolate ice-cream

There were many happy children that night! I’ll try the crispy durian pancake the next time!

Something Sweet Dessert House, 8 Jalan Legundi, Singapore. Tel: 6481 1978.

Chempedak dessert

It’s the name of a fruit. It’s smaller than nangka which is also known as jackfruit, stronger tasting and more yellow. If you are South East Asian and do not mind durian, you will love chempedak. It is also known as breadnut. I have no idea why that is its English name though. This link shows you the actual fruit. I don’t agree with his description of the smell but he is a foreigner, after all. His pronunciation is also a little off but that is besides the point. 

Anyway, chempedak and avocado, wrapped and fried, and served with vanilla ice-cream is now my favourite dessert! That is the best pungent dessert this side of the earth! The bland but rich texture of the avocado complemented the sweetness of the chempedak very nicely. There was another option of banana and chempedak which would have made it too sweet. This one was just perfect.

 Hong Kong Dessert, #01-02, Jubilee Square, 61 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8. Tel: 6457 1203.

Making ice-cream or ice sticks (aka ice juice bags) without a blender or a freezer

I was experimenting making ice-cream without using a blender or a freezer to see if this could be done easily with children. I did not find anything on the internet on making ice sticks. There are many YouTube videos on how to make ice-cream but nothing on ice sticks. So I decided to try to make ice sticks as well as ice-cream or rather frozen milk.

I put a small amount of UHT full cream milk and a small amount of orange juice in two food grade plastic bags. The amount of each was about the size of a cupped palm.

Then I loaded a plastic jar with ice from four ice cube trays and about 1 generous tbsp serving of sea salt. Apparently, rock salt works better but I only had sea salt.



Ice cube trays and jar



I then placed the two packets into the jar of ice, closed it and the fun begins. Roll the bottles for 5-7 minutes. I think using a jar for the outside container is actually better than a bag because there is less skin contact and therefore less heat from hands will come into contact with the container holding the ice cubes (as opposed to when one uses a bag). You can shake the bottle, roll it, turn it upside down and after about 5 minutes, check to see if the milk and orange juice have solidified. Be careful that the bottle jar remains closed. If you want it more frozen, then shake the jar for longer. If the jar gets too cold to hold, wrap a tea towel around it.



After rocking and rolling

When done, open the jar and unknot the bags and serve. For ease of opening, especially with children, you may use a ziplock bag for the juice or milk. Or if you knot the bags, make sure they are not so tightly knotted that you cannot unknot them easily. 



Final product



Serving of frozen milk

Serving of frozen OJ

The trick with this is the amount of ice and salt. Again, there are measurements on the internet on how much to put. One can be more generous with the sea salt. The temperature in the jar drops significantly to the point where the tea towel actually sticks to the jar – it is that cold! Salt basically lowers the melting point of ice which is why salt is often sprinkled onto iced roads in winter in cold countries. Hence the ice in the jar melts even as the temperature drops.

To make the servings more appetising, add whatever you want to it. Sugar, cream, flavouring and other ingredients can be added to the milk so that it better resembles ice-cream.

Enjoy!

Chinese Belly series: Sweet and Sweeter

This is what happens when the friend who is bringing you around has a sweet tooth. We end up with an overdose of sweets! So far, we have had three different kinds of desserts over two days.

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The lights are switched off momentarily as the dessert is lit so everyone can enjoy the ‘show’.

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Bomb Alaska is served, looking stiff and pretty.

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Souffle. Talk about a load of hot air. Nice and light.

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Did I mention it was crowded as well and we had to queue?

Dessert Garden, Shop 117, 1/F, Horizon Plaza Podium, Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 3115 2821

Chinese Belly series: Sweets

Like I said before, I love Hong Kong desserts, this time, it’s the Chinese kind. We went to another crowded place for dessert; the crowds are indicative of the taste of the food in the shop.

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Double-boiled papaya with fungus.

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This is known by many names in different countries; ah balling, mochi, or simply glutinous rice balls with sweet fillings.

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Durian and black glutinous rice dessert. Talk about rich!

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Baked sago pudding with yam paste.

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Mango pomelo

Honeymoon Dessert (Sai Kung), G/F, 10A, B, C Po Tung Road, Sai Kung, Hong Kong.

Chinese Belly series: Cheese cakes

I love Hong Kong desserts, including their western ones. This place, like so many in HK, was very crowded and we were truly fortunate to get seats.

The cakes were delightful, especially the smooth tofu cheesecake. The pu er (a kind of tea) cheesecake was a novelty for me. The tea could have been a tad stronger to better bring out its flavour. I thought it was quite creative of them to mix tofu and tea, two Chinese-type ingredients into their cheesecake which is western.

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Tofu cheesecake which was quite smooth.

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Pu Er cheesecake which would have been better with a little more tea in it.

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Front of the shop.

The place is supposed to serve good coffee. I am used to good coffee served in Japanese or western cafes. I ordered a cup of Sumatra Mandheling and I cannot say that I would order it again. Hong Kong has a lot of good food and drinks. Coffee just isn’t one of them. Tea may have been a much better choice, if only I had realised it then.

Colour Brown is located here.

Delightful Desserts!

One could smell it the moment one entered the little shop. The fragrance or odour (depending on how one views it) was either to die for or run away from. Yes, that infamous smell of durian flesh which has been mistaken for gas leaks in other countries, resulting in the evacuation of entire buildings for the un– or misinformed. But not so here. IT is one of the reason why so many people come here for dessert.

This is an interesting place. It is located in Ang Mo Kio in an area that has since been rebuilt. For a Hong Kong desserts place, it is unique as it is halal, no GST or service charge either. One has to pay in cash the moment the food is served, which saves time as customers can just leave when they are ready, without waiting to pay. There are always people looking at the menu pasted on the glass windows before deciding if they want to try the food. What I liked about their menu was the detailed descriptions of the items offered. Several of their desserts are very popular here and they tend to run out quickly as well. But there is enough variety so if your first choice is not available, try the second choice. On one of my visits, I had wanted to try their mango desserts but the mangoes that day were not ripe enough and customers were informed and asked if they wanted to pick something else.

I also tried one of their hot dessert drinks which was known to cure coughs. I had been recovering from throat infection which had turned into a dry cough and voila, after the dessert, my throat felt completely comforted and the itch and urge to cough was really completely gone. I was so happy that I decided to return on another day to try their other food and subsequently, I came back a third time.

This place may be small but it is reasonably priced, the food is great and it is close to where I live, which is an added bonus! The staff were helpful with their recommendations. I hope this place remains in business for a long time and maintains their quality. I am told that the owners pay a lot of attention to quality and I must say that that is evident in their desserts. It is certainly giving the other dessert shops a run for my money for now!

Xie Ji Hongkong Dessert, Jubilee Square, 61 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 #01-02, Ang Mo Kio, 569814. They have a second outlet at #B1-35, 120 Maxwell Road, 069119.

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What’s in this? A nice unique way of serving.

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Snow fungus and pear! It was good to the last drop and it cured my cough. This drink is known to cure coughs, by the way.

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Golden goodness in a bowl!

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Durian puffs! I simply could not resist this and it was good!

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On another day, we came for the dim sum.

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Siew Mai and Har Kow. This was so so.

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Hong Kong lotus leaf rice with a whole range of stuff in it like dried Chinese mushrooms, meat, salted egg and beans, all wrapped in lotus leaf. There were a lot of ingredients in this. This was not bad.

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I took a picture of the chilli because it was not the usual chilli that I have tasted before at other dim sum places. This chilli did not taste like it had come out of a bottle.

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Snow fungus and pear in coconut. The taste had gone right into the coconut and vice-versa and this tasted as nice as it was fragrant.

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Durian shake with durian. This was yummy. The durian used was good. The shake was lighter and the combination of a lighter durian taste in the shake and actual durian was good.

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Avocado shake with avocado.

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Muah chee, sprinkled with crushed sesame seeds and peanuts. Muah Chee is made of glutinous rice. I liked the crushed peanuts better, perhaps because I was eating durian as well and the durian taste tends to overpower everything else, hence I could not quite taste the sesame seeds. I may try this again on another visit, when I am not ordering durian.

Chinese Desserts!

Nowadays, many dessert shops claim to be linked in one way or another to Hong Kong. It is hard to know which one is and which one is just pretending to have originated from Hong Kong. My Hong Kong friend brought me to this shop so this shop is pretty authentic when it comes to desserts. It even serves durian crepes and they are not stingy with their durian filling either.

Perhaps one tell tale sign that this place is truly from Hong Kong is by their jokes. I hope you enjoy some of them here.

Dessert Bowl, 80A Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555976. 6285 1278.

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Beancurd and gingko nuts. This was nice, not overly sweet.

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Hot white fungus, pears and osmanthus. In the background is the durian crepe which was yummy. Both were good. Yum!

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The crepe had real durian flesh in it. It was not blended with something else..

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Placards of jokes are all over the place. The jokes are rather humourous especially the one that read, “You can angry with anyone except boss!”

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Good ole Jonker

After all that yummy lunch, it was time for dessert. This was after some shopping, of course. We asked around for the best dessert store in the mall but we were told that the best food is found at the roadside stalls, provided we could stomach them of course, due to hygiene reasons. We chanced upon a dessert stall called Jonker Sweets and decided that any stall with the word ‘Jonker’ as part of its name can’t be too bad. Jonker is the name of the famous food street in Malacca, one of three Straits settlement in the old Malaya. The other two settlements were Penang and Singapore; all ports along the Straits of Malacca and all known for good food.

Jonker Street in Malacca is famous for its food, especially desserts, and whoever opened Jonker Sweets, did a great job linking the desserts in the real Jonker Street to the desserts they were serving. Whether Jonker Sweets has its beginning in Jonker Street, I do not know, but the sweets were good. Okay, perhaps not as good as the ones sold by the roadside stalls but they come close AND I don’t risk food poisoning.

I ordered durian chendol and ice kacang. I found the durian a little too sweet but the ice kacang was nice enough to be considered authentic. In fact the first mouthful of the sweet corn (albeit canned) brought back memories of childhood days before ice kacang bacame artificially coloured, when ice kachang was sold at the road side and patronised by students and professionals, blue- and white-collar workers, young and old alike. There was no fear of food-poisoning then.

This is definitely another stall to come back to.

Jonker Sweets Dessert at The Gardens, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Kuala Lumpur.

Ice kachang