Xin Wang Hong Kong food @ Cineleisure Orcharddining-131.JPG

Of all the movie cineplexes in Singapore, Cathay remains my favorite. It’s not so much about the location of its theatres, but that I get a discount off ticket prices at the cineplex, and that the cineplex’s tickets are the cheapest of all screening halls in Singapore to begin with.

We’ve been watching shows at Cathay Cineleisure almost exclusively for several months now. The Sunday before last week, we stopped by a restaurant we’ve haven’t patronized up till that time for brunch before the 10:45 a.m. screening of Borat. This eatery is, apparently, a 24 hour one, though whether those round-the-clock opening hours extend into weekdays we didn’t inquire.

Anyhows, besides one other group of patrons, we were the only other patrons at 9:15 a.m. The menu design and layout reminded Ling of Cafe Cartel. The prices were even better: most of the main courses were $6 to $8, with beverages $3 to $5. What the both of us did wonder though is just how many items on the menu are “true” Hong Kong cuisine. Nevertheless, we both placed our orders with a chirpy middle-aged waitress who spoke Cantonese to us, even though neither of us could understand the dialect very well haha. Funnily, she was the only waitress who spoke Cantonese to us in the whole restaurant, unlike say the staff at Crystal Jade.

It took us a while to decide on our brunch items. Mine was a very interesting plate of Minced Pork Fried Rice for $7.90, interesting in that this is the first time I’ve seen fried rice cooked with minced pork.:) Ling had a curry chicken and bread set that she liked so much she’s gonna blog it soon enough. The fried rice did indeed have a substantial minced pork portion which had been cooked with gravy, and the rice was liberaly spruced with scrambled egg and topped by another sunny-side up.

dining-129.JPGWhat Ling especially liked was the inclusion of what she believed to be preserved olive vegetables in the fried rice, which certainly helped in the taste a lot. Funnily, I don’t think the minced pork added that much to the overall taste. The fried rice itself was already very tasty with great flavor in the rice, which was made all the better with preserved green chili. Service was excellent too; and decor was quite pleasing; we had a window seat with the bright Sunday morning light adding to the pleasant ambiance.

On the down side, we were charged for ice-water – 40 cents. Boo! And the usual service charges and GST apply to the bill, though again the asking price of food in this restaurant is modest to begin with.

  • Food: 8 / 10
  • Value: 4 / 5
  • Overall: 4 / 5. Excellent fare, and there’re loads of other interesting items on the menu too, including a crab congee – wow. We’re gonna come back here soon again.
16. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining, Recipes · Tags: ,

Well, since I’m so bad at cooking, if any recipe turns out okay with me, it is idiot-proof man!

I’m starting a series of blogs on recipes which I’ve used and tested and darling dearest could eat. I’m not sure how long will my latest interest in cooking last but I would really love to share with those who are as discouraged as me at cooking decent stuff!

One of the wonderful things food does is to gather people around the table – eat and be merry. One does not have to know how to cook to bring people together but being able to cook is a useful skill because one can prepare good and wholesome meals for your loved ones (with lots of love!). Besides learning how to cook, I’m also learning how to bake cookies and cakes from my colleagues. You know, baking has a therupeutic effect on me.
Today’s recipe:

dining-134.jpgStir-fry cabbage with dried shrimps and shitake mushrooms

Ingredients: small cabbage (1), fresh & medium-sized shitake mushrooms (6-7), small handful of dried shrimps, 4-5 cloves of garlic, salt (1/2 tsp), oyster sauce (4 tbsp), water (1/2 cup), olive oil (4 tbsp)

  1. Rinse the whole cabbage with water and cut it into halves.
  2. Use a long, sharp knife and slice each half into thin strips. Set aside. Discard the main stem.
  3. Remove stalks from shitake mushrooms and slice them. Set aside.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Set aside.
  5. Rinse the dried shrimps with water. Set aside.
  6. Heat up the wok / frying pan over gentle, medium fire and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
  7. Add in half portion of garlic and dried shrimps and stir fry until garlic is slightly golden brown or when the aroma of the shrimps comes out.
  8. Add shitake mushrooms and fry lightly until they soften. Remove everything from wok and set it aside.
  9. Add 2 tbsp olive oil into emptied wok and add in remaining portion of garlic. Stir fry gently and throw in the cabbage.
  10. Stir fry the cabbage for about a minute. Throw in the mushrooms and dried shrimps and continue to stir-fry until cabbage is partially soft.
  11. Add oyster sauce and salt, stir fry to mix well for another minute and add water. Mix well again and cover to simmer for 1 minute or longer depending on how soft you like your veg.
  12. Serve the veg on a plate. Goes well with steamed white rice.

P.S. This recipe isn’t from the book in the picture here; the cooking book was a Christmas present from darling dearest last year!

16. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Recipes · Tags: ,

Well, since I’m so bad at cooking, if any recipe turns out okay with me, it is idiot-proof man!

I’m starting a series of blogs on recipes which I’ve used and tested and darling dearest could eat. I’m not sure how long will my latest interest in cooking last but I would really love to share with those who are as discouraged as me at cooking decent stuff!

One of the wonderful things food does is to gather people around the table – eat and be merry. One does not have to know how to cook to bring people together but being able to cook is a useful skill because one can prepare good and wholesome meals for your loved ones (with lots of love!). Besides learning how to cook, I’m also learning how to bake cookies and cakes from my colleagues. You know, baking has a therupeutic effect on me.
Today’s recipe:

dining-134.jpgStir-fry cabbage with dried shrimps and shitake mushrooms

Ingredients: small cabbage (1), fresh & medium-sized shitake mushrooms (6-7), small handful of dried shrimps, 4-5 cloves of garlic, salt (1/2 tsp), oyster sauce (4 tbsp), water (1/2 cup), olive oil (4 tbsp)

  1. Rinse the whole cabbage with water and cut it into halves.
  2. Use a long, sharp knife and slice each half into thin strips. Set aside. Discard the main stem.
  3. Remove stalks from shitake mushrooms and slice them. Set aside.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely. Set aside.
  5. Rinse the dried shrimps with water. Set aside.
  6. Heat up the wok / frying pan over gentle, medium fire and add 2 tbsp olive oil.
  7. Add in half portion of garlic and dried shrimps and stir fry until garlic is slightly golden brown or when the aroma of the shrimps comes out.
  8. Add shitake mushrooms and fry lightly until they soften. Remove everything from wok and set it aside.
  9. Add 2 tbsp olive oil into emptied wok and add in remaining portion of garlic. Stir fry gently and throw in the cabbage.
  10. Stir fry the cabbage for about a minute. Throw in the mushrooms and dried shrimps and continue to stir-fry until cabbage is partially soft.
  11. Add oyster sauce and salt, stir fry to mix well for another minute and add water. Mix well again and cover to simmer for 1 minute or longer depending on how soft you like your veg.
  12. Serve the veg on a plate. Goes well with steamed white rice.

P.S. This recipe isn’t from the book in the picture here; the cooking book was a Christmas present from darling dearest last year!

15. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining · Tags: ,

Chicken chop noodles @ Rivervale Mall foodfare

dining-128.JPGThe stall at Rivervale Mall selling Wan Ton noodles with those marvelous dumplings carries a number of other noodle selections. These selections still use the same soup stock, noodles, vegetable side, and dumplings/wantons. So, if you like one fare, chances are that you’d like the others too.

The one I chose for dinner on a Saturday dinner a week ago was the Chicken Chop noodles version. The plate went for $3.50, and very nicely, the piece of chicken chop was freshly fried as soon as I placed the order. Not like some of those stalls elsewhere where the chef in clandestine fashion disappears behind the wall into the kitchen to take out a piece of precooked chop. The chop was well-fried; the breaded skin was delightfully crispy, and cooked to just the right degree. You don’t get very much on the plate itself though: just the chop, the vegetable side, noodles, and soup.

  • Food: 7 / 10
  • Value: 3 / 5
  • Overall: 3.3 / 5. It’s good stuff, if you can live with the fact that the chop was deep fried in oil. The serving is on the light side, so you’d want to go for one of the wanton or dumpling sides too.
13. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Recipes · Tags: , ,

blog-strawberries.jpgYang doesn’t eat strawberries but I simply couldn’t resist buying and munching some whenever and wherever they are known to be sweet while I’m overseas. :) On our recent honeymoon trip to Korea, our Shandong tour guide told us that Korea produces sweet strawberries and they were readily available at roadside fruit stalls. So I took the opportunity to purchase a packet at about S$10. It was quite a large packet with many huge and red strawberries. Pity I didn’t take any photos of it to share with all here.

Anyway, in my short span of life eating strawberries, I seldom get to taste those really sweet and delicious ones. I guessed this has to do with the fact that I normally buy those which have the deceiving look of sweetness at bargain prices.

However, I have noticed on several occasions that slightly dented strawberries, without fail, tasted sweeter than their intact neighbours in the same pack. The same was also observed in the Korean strawberries.

Denting appears to have triggered some chemical activities in this fruit resulting in the formation of more sugars. I suspect that this phenomenon is not unique in strawberries alone. Will I pursue better background knowledge to this phenomenon? Hmm, I think it would stay as one of my musings. :)

12. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, At Home, Recipes · Tags: , ,

After doing this for 4 times, I think this recipe is reliable enough to share with others. ‘Jook’ in Teochew is porridge in English.

dining-140.jpgIngredients (for 2 large servings):

  • 150g lean chicken meat
  • Marinade sauce for chicken meat: 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper & 1 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cup of rice
  • 700ml chicken stock
  • 0.5 cup dried scallops (small variety will do)
  • 2 century eggs
  • 1 spring onion
  • Ginger slices
  • Crushed garlic cloves
  • Sesame oil
  • Pepper
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt

Procedure:

  1. Cut chicken meat into thin strips and marinade with the sauce stated above. Set aside for 1 hour or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In a cooking pot, wash rice (2-3 times) and soak it in clean water for an hour.
  3. Drain water from the rice and add in chicken stock, dried scallops, 2 crushed garlic cloves & a few slices of ginger.
  4. Bring the entire pot to boil. In the meantime, peel and chop the century eggs and set it aside. Chop the spring onions and peel and cut ginger into fine strips – these will serve as garnishings.
  5. Once the porridge starts boiling, stir to mix the rice grains evenly and especially to prevent them from getting stuck to the bottom of pot (the use of corning ware is recommended as it is easier to remove any burnt marks later). Bring the flame down to low heat and continue stirring regularly.
  6. When the porridge appears to thicken, add some hot water and continue stirring.
  7. After about 30-40 mins (use your judgement), the grains would start to break up and scallops soften. Add some hot water again and stir well. (In fact, add water whenever the porridge thickens). Cook until you obtain the texture you desire.
  8. Add century egg and stir continously. Next, add the chicken meat and stir well.
  9. Add salt, soy sauce and pepper to taste. Once you are satisfied with the taste, douse 5-8 drops of sesame oil and give the porridge a final stir. Turn off the flame and serve immediately
  10. Add the sprng onions and ginger as garnishing on the porridge. Add 2-3 drops of sesame oil to add fragrance to the dish. If you have dried salted seaweed, serve it as a side dish. It tastes yummy with porridge!

Bon appetit!

Yanggie & I like to share a bowl of century egg porridge (congee) whenever we were out having dianxin. So one day, he suggested that we try preparing this dish at home. Having cooked the porridge twice now, i think it is something that’s quite easily done, yep. Before I begin sharing my recipe, there’s one ingredient which you might need some background information – the chicken stock. Either you prepare it yourself or buy it off the shelf. The former is healthier of course but time-consuming to prepare initially. The latter tends to be quite salty if you’re health-conscious. Anyway, my mother in-law taught me how to prepare the chicken stock and I shall share it with everybody here.

dining-1401.jpgDIY Chicken Broth

  1. Buy spring onions, ginger and chicken bones (especially the spine) which would cost about S$ 1 either from a local wet market or supermarket.
  2. Cut spring onions into shorter lengths (about 2-3 inches) and peel ginger and slice it into a few pieces.
  3. Place the chicken bones, spring onions & ginger into a pot and add water (about 1 – 1.5 litre). Bring it to boil and then simmer another 3 hours. Scoop out any floating particles at the initial stages.
  4. After 3-4 hours: Using a strainer, transfer only the liquid into another pot / large container. Let it cool before keeping it in a refrigerator. Discard the bones & vegetables.
  5. The oil from the chicken stock will float to the surface when left to stand. On the next day, use a spoon to scoop out the oil layer and there you have your chicken stock for multiple dishes! It can keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. If you want to prolong its shelf life, divide it into small portions (jam jars) and save them in the freezer.

I learned that chicken stock has higher bone to meat ratio while chicken broth is the opposite. Adding other vegetables such as carrots, celery root and onions is a common practice in the west.

09. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining · Tags: ,

Tomyam ban mian @ Banquet (Parkway Parade)

dining-124.JPGOne of the very large shopping malls in Singapore that I don’t have much opportunity to go to is Parkway Parade, even though the mall is pretty much Ling’s “playground”. The mall is always teeming with crowds, and on the few occasions I go with here there I still get impressed by the sheer variety of shops and eating places.

Ban mian is a pretty popular fare here. I’m not too big a fan of this though (I’m more a dry noodles person), since it usually takes a while to consume a bowl of noodles in hot soup. In this case though, just to try something different, I checked out one such stall at very well nicely decorated Banquet foodcourt at Parkway Parade on the Sunday just before we flew to Korea. There are several soup bases to choose from the stall, and I went for the tom yam one. For $3.80, you get a sizable bowl containing noodles – I chose the thin ones – anchovies, vegetables, minced meat, and a beaten egg. The tom yam soup was spicily hot though not quite with the tingling taste of equivalent fare at Jai Thai. It’s ok stuff, especially if you’re a noodle person. For myself though, I think I’ll just stick to the dry noodles next time.

  • Food: 6 / 10
  • Value: 3 / 5
  • Overall: 3 / 5. I’m biased; Ling should review these noodle next time.
07. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts, Dining · Tags: ,

Chicken rice @ Korean Air

Unlike many other air travellers, I’ve usually found airline food pretty delicious. Maybe it’s this thing about eating in confined spaces, or just that you have a lot of different food items all crammed onto a small eating tray. I travelled between Perth and Singapore frequently over the Ph.D period, and the stuff served on Qantas was pretty good, and even ValuAir’s quite maligned fried rice in a styrofoam box didn’t taste any worse than those found in foodcourt fare. And Thai Airways, for me at least, has always served great food.

So there I was, thinking airline food could do no wrong, and boy was I proven how wrong – haha – that was when I flew Korean Air during our honeymoon last week. Ling chose the Pipimbab thinking how could it be possible that the locals prepare one of their national and signature dishes badly, and myself just so we had variety, the chicken rice set, and the beef set on the return journey. And that was the worse chicken rice I’ve tasted – ever. The rice was tasteless and hard. The chicken tasted like it had been fried, kept in the freezer, then re-microwaved – twice. The vegetable side was bitter – wow. Well, there was a small container of dark soya sauce that’s the thick kind we find at premium chicken rice servings in hotel restaurants, but that in itself was pointless without a tasty set of chicken rice to go along with it.

As for Ling’s Pipimbab, the less said the better. She’s usually a big fan of this stuff, but for the first time ever, she couldn’t even finish half the plate. She had a few mouthfuls, shook her head, and grimaced. My beef set on the return journey was slightly better, so I managed to feed Ling some of it just so she didn’t starve.

All this is more the irony because we had great food and ate well during the next 8 days of the trip in Korea itself, and the four flights we took mostly smooth and right on time. Both Ling and myself have got more than just a little fatter, and now are trying, rigorously, to work that additional weight off now in The Rivervale gym. But the stuff we got on Korean Air we found just terrible, and we had to suffer the same again on the return journey. Well, at least the honey-roasted peanuts they gave us were absolutely fabulous; so good that I’m contemplating having a review just for those peanuts! :)

  • Food: 3 / 10
  • Value: NA
  • Overall: 1.5 / 5. Next time we’ll make sure we eat a hearty meal before boarding a KE flight.
05. January 2007 · Comments Off · Categories: All Posts

blog-orchids.jpgThe Chinese has a saying which goes something like this: “Failure is the mother of all success”. Well, I have asked myself recently how many times it takes one to fail in order to taste the sweetness of success. Twice I tried doing the cream of mushroom soup and twice it failed! Very disheartening especially when additional efforts had gone into the second try.When I took a step back to get some perspective, I realised that hey, “Nurture takes a longer time than nature!” Oh well, if scientists took 277 attempts to arrive at cloning sheep Dolly, what is 2 attempts then?

Yeah, but the science of cooking is well, eh, nothing close to doing cutting edge science! So I sad lor. (Pardon my Singlish)Anyway, the motive behind writing this entry is to share about my joy in seeing a mini orchid plant bloom under my care (and some credits must go to my mother in-law too!). Yang and I bought a few pots of plants from Far East Flora along Thomson Road some months ago and this variety of orchids has been doing well. So far, it has shown 3 straws of blooms. The photo you see here is the 3rd one. There are 9 flora buds in total and they open in succession. All the plant need are indirect sunlight and a good watering once a day. It takes care of itself from there.

The basil plants are growing too – a bit messy though. I discovered that their stems can’t support themselves on their own. Tried using chopsticks and wires as secondary supports for them. I observed that adventitious roots are sprouting from the lower stems – most likely to create more support for the stem. Anyway, it occurred to me that I could propagate them by stem cutting since the roots are already starting to elongate. So I snipped and sticked 2 stems into the soil and they appeared to be doing well so far.

Thank God for these plants that gladden the heart :)