May 14, 2024

A Fooking stuffing

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The Gastronaut has a new project in town, working with Shangri-La Hotels to open a restaurant focusing on Hokkien cuisine in Island Shangri-La. In spite of being a not-insignificant part of the local population, restaurants serving Hokkien cuisine aren't exactly on every street. In fact, other than the numerous branches of Putien (莆田) in Hong Kong, I'm really not aware of any place that is removely upscale. So... is this a gap that needs filling?

I had heard mixed reviews from friends on their experiences at Ming Pavilion (茗悅) so I wasn't in a hurry to check it out for myself. But the Gastronaut came and asked Foursheets to join him for a meal, which was how I found myself as the "plus one" at dinner.

I hadn't done any research on the dishes so I left it to the boss to decide, but I did make a couple of requests.

Our meal started with a cup of fragrant rose tea.

Deep-fried five spice pork roll (閩香五香卷) - I couldn't imagine the Gastronaut putting together a menu here without ngoh hiang (五香) on it, and here we go. Unlike the ones I usually see in Singapore, this was pretty dainty in size. I do love the big chunks of water chestnut in the middle, though... Overall this was pretty nice with the spices in the mix.

May 11, 2024

Leeloo Leela

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Foursheets and I haven't had a proper catchup with DaRC and Ro Ro in a while, so we arranged a date for ourselves. Ro Ro suggested that we check out Leela, run by Chef Manav Tuli who used to helm the kitchen at Chaat. We did enjoy Manav's cuisine on a few occasions, so it would be interesting to see what he's doing in his new digs.

DaRC just got off the plane earlier this morning and is clearly suffering from jet lag. I expected him to fall asleep at the table and do a faceplant. I guess it's a good thing he was seated in a chair and not on the banquette.

I didn't tell anyone that I was coming tonight, but as I did make the booking using my own name, I guess they figured it out. Which was why we ended up getting some extras...

The snack was made with fenugreek seeds and topped with mango chutney and chopped chives.

Lucknowi tokri chaat - from the chef. Tokri chaat (टोकरी चाट) is a popular dish where ingredients like lentils and sev (સેવ) are served in a tokri basket where the deep-fried potato basket is edible. Covered in tamarind sauce, sweet yogurt, mint chutney, and topped with pomegranate seeds and micro greens like coriander and amaranth.

May 10, 2024

Testing, one, two, three...

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It's hard to imagine that I hadn't met up with this group of friends for this many months, but it was all my fault. I had bailed on a dinner last year for something I thought I couldn't miss, and our schedules just didn't match after that. But V was in town again and that provided us with another excuse to catch up over a few bottles.

As I had wanted to bring a fairly cheap bottle for the others to blind taste, the main concern when choosing the venue fell on corkage. The Candidate proposed we check out the current program at Test Kitchen, as they do not charge any corkage. No objections from me...

The chef in residence tonight was Luke Ng, who introduces himself as someone who has been in the kitchens of The Clove Club, Florilège - where he spent a couple of months each - and most recently Mirazur - all as chef de partie. I wasn't surprised when he came out tonight wearing a Mirazur apron.

There was some confusion about how to choose dishes from the selection available, and although we had coordinated and had pre-ordered all the dishes, we soon realized that the portions were on the small side, and we would need to top up our original order.

Fried fish skins, local grouper brandade, herbs emulsion - I was starving when I arrived, and even though there wasn't a lot of substance here, it helped to settle my stomach.

May 9, 2024

Chicken, all are chicken

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I needed to drink some Champagne with Mr. and Mrs. Birdiegolf, so I proposed that we meet up for dinner again... but left the choice of venue up to them. Imagine my surprise when Toritama (酉玉) was proposed, since we all know that Foursheets isn't a big fan of chicken. Well, she decided to be a good sport and agreed to have yakitori (焼き鳥) there for the first time, doing something she normally steers away from.

Foursheets and I were a few minutes early for our seating, and the previous diners seemed to be taking their time, so we were asked to stand out in the streets. Thankfully the seats were vacated right on time and we didn't have to stand outside for too long.

My last yakitori meal was with the Birdiegolfs more than half a year ago, and I was eager to munch on some interesting bites on sticks.

Meatball (つくね)

Knee soft bone (ゲンコツ)

May 7, 2024

Peanuts in the 'hood

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The Peanut Gang last did dinner earlier this year at a famous hot pot restaurant which I had never been to, but the truth is we haven't been to a proper decent restaurant in a while. PR8 is usually busy dining in his clients' establishments, and requested to return to Neighborhood for the first time since his last visit - which was one of the Peanut Gang's gatherings some 4 years ago. As many of us are fans of The Man in White T-shirt, this was a no-brainer.

Shirley called and asked whether we would prefer to order our own dishes, or let the boss set the menu for us. Well... I did want some of the seasonal specials that might come up, so I asked for omakase (お任せ) but also requested that the amount of food be kept under control. Let's see what happens!

A little drama isn't unusual at a Peanut Gang dinner, and right off the bat someone suffered a gout attack on the way to dinner. We also had to shift the dinner start time back and forth, moving it an hour ahead at the request of PR8, who then proceeded to be 45 minutes late, anway...

Kuruma prawns - these small local prawns are always really tasty, cooked in fish stock and just needed a little spice and seasoning on top.

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