August, 2007

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Fishy Business Part 2 of 3

The Best of Fish & Chips @ Fish & Co

I didn’t realize that I was on a fish roll until Ling remarked that we’d just had fish and chips at Ikea the day before. The both of us had errands in different parts of town (myself meeting an old friend from Informatics, and Ling picking up some educational media from Bras Basah) to run on the Saturday morning. We met up at Centrepoint thereafter for lunch.

dining-180.jpgThe Fish & Co outlet at Centrepoint is pretty much tucked away in a corner of the mall, which doesn’t normally experience the throngs seen in Heartland malls to begin with. Hence, the crowd was relatively sparse, even for Saturday lunch. Ling ordered a Swordfish Collar, and myself a funnily named “The Best Fish and Chips in Town” item. Waiting time for the Swordfish Collar was horrendous at about 35 minutes, during which we bid our time making faces at each other haha.:)

The fries in the Fish & Chips set were ordinary, but the fish was sumptuous. There were two reasonably large – and thick – pieces, with each fishy meat stuffed in between the crispy skin, decked in Lemon butter. Yummy. The fish had been fried to just the right degree too, and unlike Friday evening’s Ikea dinner, the dish was pipping hot. At $13, it was reasonably good value too.

I sampled Ling’s Swordfish Collar, and boy was it well worth the wait. It deserves its own entry – when we revisit the restaurant again.:)

  • Food: 8.5 / 10
  • Value: 3.5 / 5
  • Overall: 4 / 5. Not the best Fish & Chips I’ve had before, but close enough.

Fishy Business Part 1 of 3

Fish & Chips @ Ikea

dining-1791.jpgGoing by Ikea for a Friday evening dinner has become a semi-regular sort of event for us these days. Two of the accessories in the master bedroom bathroom: the floormat and the shower curtain, comes from the Ikea catalog. These items accumulate dirt pretty quickly, so it becomes necessary to replace them every 2-3 months. We’ll usually take the opportunity to have dinner at the store Ikea cafeteria too.

The both times I’ve reviewed food at the cafeteria – once for their very popular meatballs, and then also their chicken & fries – have garnered pretty good ratings of 3.9. This time round though, the fare was less impressive. We both had Fish & chips. For $4.50, I got two sizable and meaty sticks of fish, and a nearly as generous portion of fries.

Unlike many foodcourts in malls that offer Western fare, the fish was actually meaty and the deep fried skin crispy , and would had been quite delicious were it not for the fact that the fish was only lukewarm. Ling remarked ruefully that it seemed that this particular set is going through mass production, and the almost cold fish pretty much ruined its taste. The fish tasted almost rubbery even. We did both agree though had the fish meats been fried and prepared on the spot, as it is commonly done in foodcourts, the food would had been fantastic. So, a pretty disappointing experience, and similar to what we experienced at Courts several months ago – precooked fish & chips.

  • Taste: 5 / 10
  • Value: 4.5 / 5
  • Overall: 3.2 / 5. Edible of course, and still bearable if you mow through your fish really quickly before it gets completely cold.

A Fruitful Friday

As the day after National Day (9th Aug, Thur) was a school holiday, all primary, secondary and junior college students and teachers in Singapore enjoyed a long weekend.

I had spent my Friday well as many items on my ‘to do list’ were completed. Firstly, after sending darling dearest to work, I hung out at his workplace’s air-conditioned cafeteria to mark assignments from 2 classes. Secondly, I drove to Tampines Mall to buy Natasha’s birthday present and buy ingredients for dinner. Thirdly, the house floors were swept and mopped till sparkling clean. Fourthly, I watched 2 episodes of ‘State of the Planet’ documentary DVD filmed by BBC with my favourite David Attenborough as narrator. Lastly, I tried out a new dish ‘Chicken Baked Rice’ using a recipe I found on the internet. The last one being most satisfactory as darling dearest went *thumbs up* :)

I’ve always enjoyed Swenson’s baked rice dishes – they are delicious and often give me the goody warm feeling of being just filled. As it has been sometime since I tried on a new recipe, I thought of being adventurous again. If the cooking turns out yucky, we can always swing by the nearby coffee shop to ‘ta bao’ (take-away) dinner.

Here’s the online recipe (with my modifications). Pretty easy I’ll say.

Chicken Baked Rice


  • 300g chicken breast meat (sliced thinly and then into chunks)
  • 1 can (290g) cream of mushroom soup (Campbell’s)
  • 1 can (290g) fresh milk (use the emptied Campbell’s can for measurement)
  • 1 tray of fresh button or mixed mushrooms (sliced)
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice (rinsed)
  • Finely chopped garlic (1 big clove / 2 small cloves) or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small onion (cubed)
  • 1 small carrot (cubed)
  • 1 small capsicum (cubed)
  • 1 sachet dry onion soup mix (I used Erin’s cream of vegetable mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • A dash of ground black pepper (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (quantity variable depending on individual’s preference)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Wash chicken breasts and pat dry; set aside.
  2. Combine cream of mushroom soup with fresh milk and stir well to remove lumps. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture for later.
  3. Mix remaining soup mixture with chopped garlic, chopped onion, ½ pack of the dry onion soup mix and rice. Optional: sprinkle some ground black pepper.
  4. Mix well and pour into a baking dish. (Can be a casserole dish or pyrex glass dish. Mine’s a round, 8″ diameter by 2″ depth pyrex glass dish).
  5. Place carrots and capsicum on rice mixture followed by chicken pieces.
    Combine reserved soup mixture with mushrooms. Spread over chicken.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining dry onion soup mix, thyme, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and bake in a 180°C oven for 1 hour.
  8. Remove foil and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until chicken is tender and liquid is absorbed. If the dish still looks watery, you may want to increase temperature to 190 or 200°C to speed up the evaporation. Do sample from the centre of the dish to check whether rice has soaked up the soup mixture.

Serves 4. (Yang and I finished the entire dish without any difficulty, hee hee.)

I love cows!

Beef Stew @ Kopitiam (Compass Point)

dining-178.jpgSeveral of my students in my PRSP, or Problem Solving and Programming, lecture group remarked in their feedback that I love cows. How’s that? Well, in many of my lecture groups, the examples I use often have to do with cows.:)

Truth to tell, I love beef. Back when I was in Perth, I’d often dish up steaks at least twice a week, given how cheap fresh beef cuts could be had at Aussie supermarkets. Over here it’s a different story though, with good cuts going for at least $30 a kg. As a result, since moving here to Rivervale last year, if memory serves, I’ve just done beef-related dishes just twice.

All that said, I was delighted to find a beef stew stall at Compass Point’s Kopitiam that whips up pretty good fare. For $4.50, with the usual 10% discount applying for members, the set in the picture comes with rice, tasty and almost herb-alish soup, and a generous plate of beef sitting on top of a healthy portion of vegetables. Ling found the beef very tender, and when dipped in chili was really yummy.

  • Food: 8 / 10
  • Value: 4 / 5
  • Overall: 4 / 5. There’s a variety of other beef-assorted fare in the stall, including beef briskets. Must try the next time.:)

Noodles revisited

Vegetable Dumpling noodles @ Rivervale Mall

Funnily, nearly 10 months after moving to our home at The Rivervale, Ling remarked to me just the other day she’d prefer not to eat at Rivervale Mall foodcourt. Apparently, it’s because the smell of cooking is especially strong in the foodcourt, and you could walk out of dinner feeling as though you’d spent a day in the kitchen.

dining-177.jpgStill, one of the best Dumpling noodle stalls, comparable to that of say Jade Kitchen, is found at the level 2 foodcourt in the mall. I’ve written an entry about the Dumpling (or Shui Jiao) noodles before, but the entry was lost in March during that catastrophic crash.

What’s so great about the offerings from this stall is that it gets everything right: the soup stock, the dumplings, and the noodles.

In any case, we went by the stall for dinner a week ago, and for $5, I got a set of vegetable dumpling noodles with an additional oyster vegetable side. The noodles, are as before, exemplary. The noodle strands don’t clump together, and when liberally drenched with sauce, strains easily. I thought the vegetable dumplings had too much ginger in them, but Ling likes them made that way.

The soup stock is incredible too: rich in aroma, and thick without that artificial ajinomoto flavoring that’s common in other soup-based noodle fare. The price is reasonable given the quality of the fare, but though I wish it could had been still slightly cheaper.

  • Food: 9 / 10
  • Value: 3 / 5
  • Overall: 4 / 5. A higher rating this time.:)

Luncheon Meat

blog-CIMG2116-luncheonmeat.jpgI can’t recall exactly why luncheon meat is unhealthy food but it has been my belief since I started teaching.

Like any protein of animal origin, you can be certain that saturated fats and cholesterol are present in luncheon meats too. These are artery clogging fats which one should know better to avoid.

My parents have been using luncheon meats as side dishes for our meals as long as I can remember. It is really tasty on its own or with bread or even rice. There were rumours that luncheon meats produced in China contained rat meat. We have heard and read enough news about the unthinkable things that go into processed foods ‘made in China’.

But I couldn’t resist the temptation when Yang presented those lightly fried sliced luncheon meats together to go with the sweet potato porridge. They go well with the porridge. Now, after blogging about the horror one may uncover in those meats, I’m once again convinced not to touch those meats again! :)

Porridge 101

Sweet potato porridge @ Home

Well, this entry should be flagged “by demand”.:)

blog-sweet-potato-CIMG2112.JPGSeriously, as what Ling told me the other day, sweet potato porridge is known here in Singapore as a “poor man’s food”, largely because of the very low costs that go into its preparation. Apparently, many in our parents’ generation were either prudent in spending or that they weren’t as affluent as typical Singaporeans seem to be these days. So, their meals often were porridge cooked with cubes of sweet potatoes.

These days, it’s still a semi-popular dish but it’s hardly ever sold in eateries. Possibly because it’s so easy to prepare and the low cost makes it sort of silly for any hawker to setup shop just to sell this porridge, unless his version of the fare has some special taste in it. The way I do it for two person portions is like this:

    1. Empty 1.5 cups of rice into the pot, rinse it once, and fill the pot with at least one third full of water. Boil. Cut the sweet potato into small chunks of around 1 to 1.5 cm sized cubes.
    2. Once the water’s started to boil, toss the potato chunks. Stir and mix it up a little.
    3. Boil for around 10 more minutes or until the porridge turns reasonably viscous, then divide into bowls. Wait for the porridge to cool a bit, then serve.

Thing is, sweet potato porridge in itself is really tasteless. The trick is to eat it not by itself, but as a replacement for the rice item, and accompany it with other dishes with strong sodium tastes. My personal favorite is pan-fried luncheon meat. Yeah, that’s not terrifically healthy stuff, but even Ling has been won over by the combination.:)