Wednesday, July 30

Seconds at Kilo & Pact, Orchard Central

I really like the food at Kilo but I can't put my finger on it. It is neither Japanese nor Western (fusion?); some of the dishes appear deceptively simple in a I-could-make-this-at-home kinda way; and other plates are made up of a hodgepodge of ingredients that would sound weird on paper. 

Take this pork belly rice bowl for instead. It is made up of pork belly (that could have been more tender), shimeji mushrooms, avocado slices, sweet corn, snap peas and radish, bean sprouts, wasabi sprouts and tomatoes, piled atop niigata rice. Not the yummiest description I am sure but the flavours and textures were incredibly moreish. 

The salmon quinoa donburi was by and large similar, but instead of pork belly and rice, we had a modest slice of salmon and healthy-than-thou quinoa. 

The toss-up was mighty delicious too and I am already thinking about how I can replicate this at home.

The portions aren't big and we ordered an additional main - Salt &Pepper Short Ribs - as our Munckin surprised us by eating more than his usual self. Superbly tender grilled beef short ribs, hearty tomato omelette, fresh greens and potato crisps. I definitely heart the other two above more but this is a suitable fix for those in need of protein.

Monday, July 28

The weekend I celebrated my birthday

I think this is the first time in a long while that I properly "celebrated" my birthday and I got to say it was really fun. Usually I would just catch up for meals with my friends and this year, I was planning to do just that but I guess things just serendipitously fell into place. 

The colleagues celebrated my birthday at Shirokiya at CHIJMES and I had a yummy Toro Salmon Don with freshly grated wasabi

I am not sure if you can tell but I was caught a 110% surprised by the chocolate cake

And the surprise soon turned into felicity

Er, hello boss?

My birthday kicked off proper as we played tourists at the River Safari

Russell got to hang out with his bro'

Awesome health-ish and delicious lunch at Kilo ensued

The Munckin surprised us by how much he ate

Big Brother, Jan 2015

Had a lovely time with my family at Ballet Under the Stars

We were clearly more excited about the picnic, especially since my mum got childhood favourite from Dino Cake House - fried rice, fried bee hoon and chicken pie. 

My elder sister brought Chinese desserts such as cheng teng and fu chok, while my sister relieved the heat with cold pressed juices. And I made Korean baked wings. 

Really means alot to me to spend this special day with people I love =)

Saturday, July 26

Turning 29 and a happy announcement

I usually get rather pensive instead of party mood whenever my birthday rolls by. This year will be my last year of being a twenty-something and I'll say, I'm pretty excited about my thirties.

It has been a great journey so far, especially the last few years. Of course, along the way, I've accumulated a great deal of debt to a list of people who have stuck by my side and listen to me moan and gripe about First World issues.

KW for putting up with my grumpy-mous nonsense, I-know-best maternal instincts and "Momzilla" outbursts.

My parents for being ever supportive and non-judgemental, especially when it comes to a topic they probably know better than me - parenting.

My sister and newish brother-in-law for their time and energy when it comes to Russell, despite their long working hours and newly-married commitments.

My close but tight group of friends - Diana, Zee and Zhu - for providing that sounding board that I need so very often and for thinking the world of me when I need it most.

My little Man for your absurd levels of energy and couldn't-be-cuter antics. Life would be dreadfully quiet and boring without you around. It would be interesting to see how you will be like as an elder brother.

Yup, we are expecting #2!

Even though Russell isn't the easiest kid, I was pretty adamant about having #2 as soon as Russell turned 20 months. With one child, I have always felt like our family was in transition. You know, somewhere in between...  as if we are expecting someone to knock on our door. How very abstract, I know.

There was never a doubt that I wanted two children. As the middle child, I have two sisters and KW has an elder brother; although my sisters and I fought like cats and dogs when we were kids, we are a lot closer now and I really want Russell to experience the joy of having at least one sibling.

So thanks for staying on the ride, there will be even more craziness with two little ones around and I am pretty sure there will be more than enough stories to fill up this space.

Friday, July 25

Xin Mei Congee, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio

One Saturday afternoon, I dragged requested for KW to take me out for a savoury snack and we drove to nearby Ang Mo Kio Central as the food options there allowed us to cast a wider net.

Instead of my usual curry puff or man jian kueh, I decided to have a bowl of congee instead from Mei Xin Congee (#01-32, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Food Centre, Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6).

A huge allure of the congee was the domineering beacon of deep-fried you tiao that accompanied every bowl. The you tiao was still hot when I held onto it and you can imagine the expletives that went through my head when I greedily dunked it into the hot congee and wolfed down a big mouthful. Not my brightest moment.

To be honest, there isn't a whole bunch of ingredients waiting for you to unearth but the beauty is in the gruel itself. The of mixed pork innards and minced pork was wonderfully velvety and flavourful - a bowl of comfort food that I could lap up (slowly) everyday.

Wednesday, July 23

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Armenian Street

I did it... I finally made it back to Le Bistrot du Sommelier!

KW and I were deciding where to go for my birthday meal and naturally, all the fine dining places made it to our list but all I really wanted was a good piece of steak. As a result, we rounded up some of our friends to partake in the meat fest at Le Bistrot du Sommelier for lunch on one fine Saturday.

After Bar-Roque and Bistecca, I was itching to head back to this much-loved bistro to see if their Cote du Boeuf still lived up the grand standards set during my 2011 visit. I hope my next visit isn;t three years in the making...

Given that they specialize in rillettes and pates, we went for the duck rillette for our starter and it was really enjoyable, paired with rustic baguette and pickled cornichons.

Not the most artisanal or refined loaf around but it suited our meal and the provincial vibe of the restaurant just fine.

We also had the Panache of Seafood, made up of scallops, scampis and mussels dressed in a light creamy seaweed butter sauce. The dish is a lot smaller than it looks but it was pretty filling, given the likelihood of more baguette-dunking action.

What stole the show was the 1kg, boneless Cote du Boeuf, medium rare. Superbly tender, replete with caramelized crust and unctous fats; even the well-done ends were incredible. Oh man, I can end my twenties in peace!

The sweetness of the beef was well-matched by the accompanying caramelised shallots and garlic confit. By the done, we were close to done with the mains, you could tell some of us were getting uncomfortably full and the conversation took on a slower pace. 

The gratin was a little pot of buttery, creamy carb goodness, the side salad was crisp and refreshing but it was second fiddle to everything else on the table - I swear it existed just to make us feel better about all the animal fat we were ingesting. 

We also ordered the Norweign salmon, pan-fried crisp but a tad dry. The steamed asparagus were a couple of minutes overdone too but the mash was just lovely and of course, buttery smooth.

And of course, there is always room for dessert. Naturally. Without a doubt. Duh.

From a lingering memory, I had my mind and gut set on the profiteroles. What we had were two giant choux buns (bigger than my kids’ fist pumps) filled with vanilla ice cream, bathed in warm chocolate sauce and a smattering of sliced almonds for some crunch. Just incredible!

The crème brulee bore a lovely aroma from the fresh vanilla beans but it could have been a tad more molten-y and the caramelized crust “a little thicker” (KW’s words). But we could be just nitpicking, given the highs of this meal was just sky-high.

It was such an exquisite meal, filled with much chatter and I am really glad I got to share it with some of my closest friends. I definitely also need to thank KW for the very generous treat (and Bimba Y Lola treat just hours before).

Monday, July 21

Hua Long Fish Head Steamboat

It is stressful to think about where to go for birthday meals but I know my family is always game for two things - steak and tze char.

A couple of weeks ago, my parents dapao-ed some stuff back from Hua Long Fish Head Steamboat and they were good enough to warrant a proper re-visit with the entire gang in tow.

Anyway, just to state upfront, the eatery is housed in a coffee shop with no air-conditioning. It might not be worth mentioning but it is a huge deal for my family as most of us would do whatever it takes to stay within the confines of an air-conditioned space. Thankfully, my family is willing to put up with the heat on special occasions.

Since it was a birthday lunch, we placed an advance order for the Lobster Combination platter (at market price but ours costs $118). It was quite the statement showpiece - very fitting of a birthday celebration whether you are 29 or 89. I love how they managed to re-construct the entire lobster with stir-fried butter lobster, prawn rolls, abalone slices with sweet chili sauce, seafood-stuffed beancurd and crabmeat omelette. Kitschy but amusing.

Ever fans of wasabi prawns, we had to try the Japanese Honeydew Wasabi Prawn Balls. Though the wasabi flavour was barely noticeable, the prawns were crunchy and there was a lingering sweetness from the honeydew and grapes.

I had tried the Signature Wok-fried White Beehoon as a takeaway dish and thought it fared better then. To me, the opeh leaf doesn’t serve any purpose unless you use it for takeaway as it amplifies the aroma of the dish. It is nonetheless a pleasant carb dish though I will try something else on my next visit.

One of the clear favourites was the Guinness Stout Pork Ribs made up tender chunks of saucy porky bites.

Well-battered and flavourful, the Salted Egg Calamari was also very well done. That said, I think I have been having too much Salted-Egg-Something lately and I need to get out of this “Salted Egg” arena soon…

I love love love fried rice so this XO Fried Rice with Bacon could do no wrong.

The Braised Herbal Duck with Sea Cucumbers was pretty good too. It was tender and fall-off-the-bone but the duck itself was hardly stringy. 

A dish that needs no introduction but well executed – Sambal Kang Kong.

At the end of the meal, we received a complimentary dessert. Granted it might have been poured out of a can, but we all appreciated a cooling dessert on that hot blistering afternoon.

Looking back, lunch was such an interesting experience. Located in the depths of Block 347 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, we didn’t have a hard time finding it but the GPS was something we heavily relied on; we were the only table in the crowded food centre that had a champagne-gold tablecloth - which I'm told you will get if you make an advance reservation; and at the end of the meal, our super-duper friendly server offered to take a polaroid picture of us (odd but hilarious!).

Friday, July 18

Currently craving for...

Dai Dai Roll and Una Tama Don from Sushi Tei 

/ Japanese rice. With lashings of sweet sauce or wasabi kewpie. I am not even sure this is a legitimate craving since I love Japanese food and Sushi Tei is a near weekly haunt. But I can't get enough of sweet vinegary Japanese rice. 

/ Our short trip to Seoul in October - second family vacation with the munckin. 

/ A comfortable pair of shoes that can take me from Waterloo Street (where I work) to the weekend. Maybe I should consider getting these sneakers online

Happy Friday, folks!