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.

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To Earle for Dinner

It was the craving for salads that led us on this adventure in search of a restaurant with a salad bar, a free-flowing one. So we came here so that one of us could have a salad buffet for dinner.

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The sausage was surprisingly good. I say ‘surprisingly’ because I am not a fan of sausage as I just think that it is processed meat. The duck meat and chicken were not bad either.

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Salad buffet

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Some places have a wider range of food for a salad bar like pastas. This bar mainly serves vegetables, salads and fruit. When we were there, it was near Diwali, so the murukku were a nice touch to celebrate that event.

Earle Swensen’s, 1 HarbourFront Walk, #02-117, VivoCity. Telephone: 6272 3306.

Halal Dim Sum and such

This is the first time I have eaten at a halal dim sum place. This place does not just serve dim sum. They also do ze char, where one can order food that they will cook to order.

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Minced meat wrapped in beancurd skin

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A variety of steamed food.

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Deep fried prawn fritters

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Fried carrot cake

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Minced meat and chives dumplings.

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Custard bun with salted egg. The cream oozed out when the bun was broken slightly. This was pretty unique and nice. Of all the dishes, this was my favourite.

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There were five of us and we ate everything. Having an alternative halal dim sum place for me to go to with my Muslim friends was nice — there are not many halal dim sum places where they may patronise. Other dim sum places are available for those who are not so restricted in their choice of food and the choices are more varied. I do want to come back here to try the crab with my crab kaki friend though.

Tang Tea House Hong Kong Cafe, 242 Jalan Kayu, Singapore 799466. Tel: 64832298/ 64832284
(The cafe is located where Mad Jack used to be, along Jalan Kayu.)

A taste of Penang

I didn’t go to Penang and this is not part of the Bagus Makan series though I might actually wander up to Penang one day just for the real thing!

We came here because the queue was the shortest on a Sunday night at the airport. It turned out to be a good decision as the wait was indeed shorter and the food turned out to be pretty good too. This is the halal restaurant in the chain, the non-halal one being Gurney Drive.

One writes down one’s order and pays for the food at the cashier. There is no service charge making it very affordable at an expensive place like the airport.

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There was sufficient prawn flavour in the soup which is important for this to be authentic.

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I am so used to eating rojak in Singapore that I had forgotten what authentic Penang rojak tastes like. The taste in this jolted my memory a little. If I remember correctly, Penang rojak has more fruit in it and is a little more sour. There are also crunchy cracker bits which have been replaced by you tiao in Singapore, and of course, not forgetting the prawn paste which seemed a little stronger. I liked that they did not add too much sugar into it to try and ‘sweeten’ the sourness of the fruit.

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This was just nice – still green, tasty and crunchy from being sufficiently blanched and there was no corn flour added.

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This was a Thai dish. The fried chicken was nicely fried with crunch in it and the fresh mango and raw onions in Thai sauce made this a very appetising dish indeed.

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Chendol in any form has to have enough gula melaka and coconut milk in it and the chendol has to be authentic. This dessert was delightful and the ice was fine enough as well. The dessert was not overly sweet. The soft red bean was an added bonus. Delicious!

On their website, it was stated that they want their customers to ‘bring back a little of “Penang” with them after every dining experience.’ I certainly brought back a bit of Penang with me tonight.

Penang Culture and Gurney Drive is a franchise that has sprang up in several shopping malls in Singapore. The one at the airport won the best outlet award.

Penang Culture, Changi Airport Terminal 2 Departure, Viewing Mall Level 3, #036-087-01, Singapore 819643. Tel: 6546 7793.

Mum’s Place?

This is a halal Chinese restaurant in the Kembangan area and is very popular with the locals. We decided to go there for zi char, where the food is cooked for you but not at pricey Chinese restaurant prices. We ordered beef with shallots, stir-fried kailan leaves and fish soup with bittergourd. When the dishes arrived, I was stunned by how large the portions were. Three people could have easily eaten the amount we ordered and indeed, we doggy-bagged the remainder to take away.

The food was not too bad. Not exactly Mum’s cooking that I am used to nor even Chinese cooking but close enough considering that it was halal. Where the experience was more authentic was when I got to order hot Chinese tea which came in a pot with little ceramic cups. I have not seen cups with those designs for many years now. So seeing the cups here really did remind me of Mum, cos we have those cups at home. Many coffeeshops that I go to have replaced the cups with glasses. I was also able to top up the tea with hot water when needed, which meant that the pot of tea went a really long way. Hot Chinese tea is a must when eating Chinese food as the hot tea helps to break down the fats in the food, aiding with digestion. It was the way we ate Chinese food growing up. The only problem was the place only had tea and not alternatives like chrysanthemum, which is caffeine-free. This meant we risked being awake all night from drinking the tea.

The place also serves western dishes like steaks which is what it is well-known for.

Mak’s Place, 401 Changi Rd, Singapore 419847. Tel:6844 7656.

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Hot Chinese tea in a pot with little ceramic cups

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Fried beef with ginger and shallots.

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Whenever I order this, I would ask for this to be stir-fried just with garlic, without any corn starch. But this little coffee shop was so advanced that they keyed in their orders via little handheld devices (which were presumably sent wirelessly and directly to the kitchen) and there was no option for what I wanted. Hence, the dish came with corn starch which is usually used to thicken the gravy.

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Fish, bittergourd and vegetable soup

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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.

Yureka!

I’ve always wondered if there are halal Japanese restaurants in Singapore and tonight a friend and I chanced upon this one. So, Yureka it is! It is the only halal teppanyaki restaurant in Singapore. My friend and I ordered the beef set each and it was value for money with no service charge and GST. Sashimi and sushi are also served here. There are other better and more expensive Japanese restaurants in Singapore. However, for those looking for good, value-for-money halal Japanese food, there is only one, Yureka.

Yureka Teppanyaki, 10 Jalan Masjid (Opposite Kembangan MRT), Singapore 418930. Tel: +65 68427317.

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Beef teppanyaki set for just under $10. A good deal, indeed!

Best rendang in town?

I’ve reviewed this place before but not with the intention of talking about beef rendang. But after ordering their beef rendang, I reckon this place has one of the best beef rendang in town. It is tender with the right amount of flavours in it without being overly oily and it was not overly spicy either. Perfect.

Nasi Lemak Kukus, 908 Upper Thomson Road, (Start of Sembawang), Singapore 787111.

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Outstanding, Madam!

We were at Mid-Valley Megamall. I had been there many times before and did not want to go there again but it turned out to be the most convenient meeting place for all concerned so we headed there. The place has changed in the last few years since I last visited. There are certainly more eating places now so off we went looking for a nice place to eat. A friend of mine had mentioned this place before and being the public holiday that it was, there was a long queue even though it was already way past lunch, at 3.30pm in the afternoon.

Madam Kwan is peranakan and I have to give it to the peranakan when it comes to not just good, but excellent food. It seems like this is not just in their heritage but in their blood as well. What started as Sakura Restaurant along Jalan Imbi in Kuala Lumpur has now been rebranded into Madam Kwan’s and has gone outside of Jalan Imbi to Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur and into Singapore.

We ordered the signature nasi lemak chicken, six sticks of huge chicken satay and fried rice. Every bit of the nasi lemak was good especially the coconut rice and sambal chilli. This is by far the best nasi lemak I’ve tasted and if you follow this blog, you know what my favourite nasi lemak haunts in Singapore are. The chicken was tender and had enough flavour in it too. I was impressed.

The chicken satay was good too. The serving was larger than what I am used to but each stick had the correct combination of meat and fat proportion. I could even see the spices on the satay itself which was pleasantly surprising. Usually, one cannot see, though they may be able to taste the spice in the satay. The sauce did not have enough peanut bits in it but this could be a matter of preference. I like satay sauce with more peanut bits in it and smaller pieces of satay on the sticks but that would also mean not enough differentiation between what they are serving (and charging) and what is being served in the hawker centres and the roadside satay stalls elsewhere so I’ll have to settle for larger servings of satay.

Last but not least was the fried rice. That was good as well as it had enough ‘wok hei’ in it. Coupled with real shredded crab meat and fine shrimps, it was a meal in itself.

Now that Madam has come to Singapore, I am wondering if the food here is as good as the one in KL. I’ll check it out one day and do a comparison review but I am not looking forward to paying Singapore dollars for the food though. Oh well, more excuses to head up north for food.

Madam Kwan’s, F-052, 1st Floor, Mid Valley Megamall, Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra, 59200 KL. Tel: +60 3-2297 2297.

Chicken satay.

Nasi Lemak with chicken curry

Vegetable achar

Fried rice

Banana prata

This place is newly opened in a neighborhood that I’m more familiar with. I had wanted to have prata for lunch and you can imagine my delight when I saw banana prata on their menu. The last time I had banana prata was years ago. I like it without the added sugar as the banana is already sweet. They also had puthu mayam which looks like beehoon and it is eaten with sugar. Tissue and coin pratas were also served. Coin pratas are not as small as coins but they are smaller than the usual pratas. Tissues are called that because they are thin and crispy and usually served shaped like an upside down cone. I ordered my teh tarik and an extra plain prata after I was done with my banana prata. Happy belly!

Sha’s Restaurant, 326 Serangoon Ave 3.

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