Monday, June 30, 2008

Doc Green's @ Vivo City

"As healthy as you wanna be."

She referred us to Doc Green’s. Perhaps the future doctor was trying to drop a hint. That I was beyond repair. Nevertheless, the appointment was not in vain. In fact, it was quite sumptuous.

In times when going fashionably organic defines the contemporary healthy lifestyle, Doc Green's still banks on good old fresh ingredients and varieties (plus healthy cooking methods) to keep those years coming. A gush of wind blew in my mind. Probably a subway just passed me by.

I am not fashionable. My tastebuds are laughing at me.

Chicken Breast With Ham And Cheese, served with Home-made Thai Sweet Sauce (S$10.90). A healthier Cordon Bleu, I feel. Much healthier. Tender, the breast blended well with the ham and cheese. The Thai sauce was quite bland, a dash of pepper and salt (when the future doctor turned to talk to her other half) made it more flavoursome. The side of Dr. Breeks Salad, which comprised of a selection of greens and drizzled with a tangy vinaigrette, gave the dish a good contrast.

The future doctor seemed to understand my sickness. Well, one of it. Photography skills deficiency. Symptoms include sighs, curses and growling stomachs. There is no cure for this but her (and partner’s) patience did sooth me lots.

Char Grilled Salmon (8 oz – S$19.90). Flaky and soft, the piece of fish was well-cooked. Consisted of colourful ingredients such as baby spinach, almond flakes, grapes and oranges, the Dr. Fruitty Salad (as a side) was visually appetizing.

Going healthy without having my ego bruised came in form of the Italian Chicken Leg & Quarter Back Ribs (S$18.90). Consisted of two types of meat with the most sinful of the three choices of sides, Dr. Caesar, it was a dark angel. Almost. The ribs were tender and sweet. With a touch of savouriness, it was good. The leg was moist and tender but came rather bland. And cold. Dr. Caesar tasted alright, with the right amount of cheese, croutons and romaine lettuce.

A little research on the net later revealed that this restaurant is more famous for its salad. If one can barter tad blandness for good service and ambiance, then go ahead and make an appointment with Doc Green. It is afterall, “Healthier Dining”, as described by the Singapore Health Promotion Board.

After the healthy dinner, we headed for desserts. So the healthy.

If ever.

Doc Green’s
1 Harbour Front Walk
#02-91/92, Vivocity
Singapore 098585
Tel: (+65) 68201860

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday @ Rumah Keluarga Kami

Do not mess with this macha. You certainly do not want to wake up the next day (if ever) with crushed bones. Trust me, because we’ve been buddies for over 20 years now. Back in school, our duels were the next best thing after WWE (back then, it was WWF). Way awesome! Who could have thought these fists would open up and started mating with the keyboard? LOL!

But this macha has got a kind heart as well. For his 28th birthday, he chose to celebrate it with a group of kids from Rumah Keluarga Kami in Kajang. Definitely a first for me and was honoured to be part of his guestlist. Well, I was also the unofficial photographer for the event, together with our other machaistic buddy. By the way, macha is not green tea powder, in this context. It is a slang equivalent to likes of bro, dude and mate.

Children love anything sweet and colourful. Which means the obvious snacks to order were cupcakes! Ok, so cupcakes are not really my thing, but since they were for the kids, I was cool. The macha ordered 5 different designs of cupcakes from Audrey; cartoon characters (Bob Sponge, etc), soccer & vehicles (for the boys) and butterflies and flowers (for the girls). Slightly distorted, perhaps due to the heat, Audrey later explained that she went all out to make the icing/buttercream sweet, as she knew kids love really sweet cupcakes. The cartoon characters were a hit with the kids. As for the cake, I thought it was soft and moist, which was nice. Two flavours were chosen; vanilla and chocolate. There were sights of exchanges of cupcakes between the kids. Cute.

Not forgetting the curry puffs the macha’s father bought from somewhere in Kajang. The crowd loved it. For me, more heat would have been appreciated.

And the macha mum’s lovely Kesari. This semolina (not salmonella) based dessert was soft and sweet, just the way I like it. The gorgeous ghee made it rich and fragrant as well. Just the colour alone made it look absolutely beautiful.

According to the macha, the kids at Rumah Keluarga Kami are top students and athletes in school. All they need is a little push from you and me to enable them to soar higher. So, if you can support in any way, do contact them. Or even other organizations of your choice, for that matter.

I had a thought later that day.

In my twenty over odd years of existence, I have been blessed with a supportive family, friends for life and glorious food. But had I given back enough? I guess I will never know until I find what I have been looking for.


For information on Audrey’s cupcakes, check out these links:
Lyrical Lemongrass

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 12): A Midnight Buttercake's Dream

The smell of butter was haunting,
as I unwrapped your skimpiest of sheets.

You were warm.

At every turn of a page,
you lured me into a game of tease.

I was torn.

Minutes to slumber,
and you asked for a final moment.

In whispers of sugar and salt.


I dreamt of you again.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Old Town White Coffee

The “white” does not refer to the colour but the way the beans are roasted. With margarine, sans sugar.

Alongside the English language and democracy, the kopitiam (coffee shop) culture played a major part in the history of Malaya. Well, indirectly, I suppose. A meeting place for political exchanges, businesses and gossips, it was the Starbucks of yesteryears. The distinctive designs on the ceramic wares are still as relevant and attractive as ever but WiFi and ice-blended seem hippier these days.

In recent years, we have seen the mushrooming of upscale kopitiams, with names such as Uncle Lim, Pak Hailam and everything else avuncular. Others choose nostalgic phrases to trigger your soft spots. Creative indeed. However, quality is of another matter altogether.

One of the earliest companies that joined the kopitiam evolution was Old Town White Coffee, which started off producing 3-in-1 coffee mix, using the White Café recipe. These days, this popular joint has more than 80 franchises with one located in Singapore. Ok, enough of boring descriptions. Oh, and this is not an advertorial.

A cup of hot, White Coffee (RM2.20) to start off a Saturday morning is bliss. Rich and aromatic, it was a good. For an even denser taste, try the “Gao” version at the same price. A personal favourite is the Iced Hazelnut White Coffee (RM3.80). Aromatic and invigorating.

At RM5.50, the Curry Mee was rather small in size. The curry was mild, in terms of heat. Coconut milk was kept minimum and the curry leaves provided a nice aroma. Other ingredients such as chicken slices, beansprouts, long beans and fried tofu were minimal as well.

Again, the portions of Ipoh Hor Fun (RM5.50) and Asam Laksa (RM5.50) were small. While the Hor Fun was smooth and soft, the broth was rather light. Strands of chive gave a good contrast to the taste and texture but more would be appreciated. The sourish asam laksa fared better as it was slightly sweet. A few mackerel cuts and onion slices gave the dish an extra ooomph. A warmer and spicier version would have been better though.

The Ice Fire Polo Bun (RM2.50) sounded like an exciting fight scene from Kung Fu Panda. Cute and all, the warm, soft polo bun (the Fire, I suppose) and cold slice of butter (Ice lor) combination was nice. The bun's crust gave a tinge of sweetness as well.

What is a kopitiam experience without an order of the Kaya And Butter Toast (RM1.20 for single, RM2.30 for double)? Sweet and slightly salty, the toast was good. The fact that the toast was thin made it evenly soft and crispy. Try dipping it into the coffee for extra flavour. An old-skool act.

A special, the Golden Paratha (RM2.80) was simply a roti canai (prata) wrap with kaya and peanut butter sauce filling. Save for the rich and creamy kaya, the roti canai was rather chewy and obviously not made fresh. Pair the nice kaya with the authentic roti canai from a mamak stall and it’ll taste better. Much better.

The beverages were good. White coffee is indeed distinctive and divine. With a wide range of flavours available, I'm sure there will be one cuppa that pleases your tastebuds.

By the way, dearest hip youths of today, they provide WiFi as well. Check out the website for more information.

They often say go local. If the quality of everything else local is as good as this, I'm all game for it.

Old Town White Coffee
30, Block A, Plaza Sinar
Jalan 3/38D, Taman Seri Sinar
Segambut, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+603) 62733876

Friday, June 20, 2008

Restoran Ipoh Road

Spanning approximately 9 miles in length, Jalan Ipoh (Ipoh Road) has been the major route connecting Kepong, Selayang, Sentul and Batu Caves to the fringe of Chow Kit, just before Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman (affectionately known as Batu Road) way before the existence of highways like Jalan Kuching. It acts as a pulmonary artery, sending workforce and leisure seekers to the pulsating beat of the city and vice versa, much like the function of the pulmonary vein.

Although it was never marked on the map of the Klang Valley as a significant gourmet trail, this good old friend does offer some rather interesting eateries. From Kari Kepala Ikan Sentul to Mee Boon Dim Sum to the few crowded Bak Kut Teh stalls to the endless mamak corners, one is never left hungry travelling along the road.

Bearing the same name, Restoran Jalan Ipoh is located at Jalan Batu Bernam, off Jalan Ipoh (Batu 4). Surrounded by clusters of eateries, this cornered breakfast spot is easily recognized as one of the most crowded coffeeshops in this area, with tables and chairs spilling out to the pavement, Malaysian style.

One of the favourites here is the Teluk Intan Chee Cheong Fun. Rice rolls filled with braised, diced turnip bits and dried shrimps, it is simply flavourful, albeit the inconsistent, slightly burnt taste. Add a few pieces of extravagance like beancurd skin, meatball and pig’s skin for enhanced texture and flavour. A drizzle of the sweet sauce is a must. For extra heat, add on some chili sauce and pickled green chilies. Delicious and reasonably priced as well.

At RM1, yes satu ringgit, the pyramidal Nasi Lemak is as good as it gets. The sambal ikan bilis is slightly sweet, with optimal heat. Wrapped in banana leaf, the coconut rice is fluffy and aromatic. What else can one ask for?

A glass of Teh-O-Ais to soothe the throat and cool the body before attempting the main course, maybe?

Judging from the endless orders and the mountainous, emptied ceramic bowls, the Seafood Noodle seems to be the signature stall of Restoran Jalan Ipoh. With prices ranging from a few ringgits to about RM15, this stall offers noodles and porridges with a choice of several types of seafood as accompaniment. They include clams, fishballs and red snapper fillets. A personal favourite would be just clam. With bee hoon and kway teow, served dry.

The clam soup is light, with seaweed and coriander for added flavour and texture. It might be a hassle detaching each and every piece of the clam meat from its shell, but the effort pays off once a couple of these morsels are eaten with the dry noodles. The bursting sweetness of the clam meat complements the savoury, dark soy sauce dressed bee hoon/kway teow combination very well. The generous serving of fried lard bits adds aroma and crunch to the ensemble.

Jalan Kuching may be a faster alternative, but if you have some extra time to spare, try taking the longer, more interesting Jalan Ipoh route. For all you know, you might bump into an interesting, unsung eatery.

Like this one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Food Republic @ Pavilion

Foodcourts are great for a quick meal. Or even an elaborated brunch with friends. Be it the al fresco ones at wet markets or the upscaled version at megamalls, one is never deprived of choices. If the 80’s saw children getting excited over the infamous sizzling hotplate yee mee, these days, colourful arrays of sushi, bibimbap and kebab are the orders of the day. Quality is another matter, of course.

And when it comes to extensiveness, Food Republic (part of the Singaporean-owned BreadTalk group) definitely impressed. Well, me at least. From Vietnamese to Korean to local favourites, the choices are endless. The modernistic interior was spacious and at lunchtime on weekends, one is still able to secure a seat without having to prey for leaving patrons. A treat, I’d say, especially if you’ve visited Wisma Atria’s or VivoCity’s.

Thye Hong’s Fried Prawn Mee (RM7) is synonymous with Food Republic. It is always at this stall that you’ll find the longest queue. Served on a scoop-shaped opei leaf, it was visually appetizing. With ingredients such as prawns and squids, a sweet/savoury broth was ensured. A squeeze of lime juice added zest to the dish while the chili sauce enhanced the flavour of the rich broth. However, I still prefer Singapore’s version as rice noodle was used instead of the starch type and the broth was richer.

The Assam Laksa (RM7.20) from the Pan Mee stall was colourful and fragrant as well, thanks to the generous amount of chopped bunga kantan (torch ginger). For the price, the serving was commendable. Chopped pieces of pineapple and onion added flavour and crunch while the mint leaves provided a touch of freshness. The shrimp paste infused soup was flavourful and sourness was well controlled. The score would have been higher if it was served hot with a few significant pieces of fish meat thrown in.

Another dish served cold was the Mee Jawa (RM8.50) from the Penang Street Food stall. The portion was generous and the sauce was sweet. Ground peanuts and crackers added crunch to the dish while the chili paste gave a touch of heat. For better texture and flavour, go for the bee hoon (rice vermicelli) and yellow noodle combination. A flavourful ensemble which was disappointingly cold.

Judging from the queue, the very DIY toasts from Toast Box seemed to be a great hit with the patrons as well although some did complain of the price versus the simplicity of the snacks. The thick toast with peanut butter (RM2.80) was rather enjoyable as the peanut butter sauce was rich while the bread was soft with a crispy skin. Similarly, the Traditional Toast (RM2.80) consisted of well-textured slices of white bread sandwiching a slab of butter and generous amount of kaya. Though simple, I believe KLites prefer to pay for convenience these days, which is a pity, actually.

It will take more than a few visits to actually declare that one has done Food Republic at Pavilion. And it doesn’t get any easier when Yo!, Crystal Jade, Madam Kwan, Ichiban Boshi, Tony Roma’s, Dragon-I, etc are situated adjacent to the foodcourt.

Can we emulate BreadTalk’s fantastic vision and create a buzz in the Lion City as well? Perhaps with our inimitable style of Hokkien Mee?

I’m optimistic.

Food Republic
1.41.00 – 1.51.00 & K1.18.00 – K1.25.00
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hanabi @ Odeon Towers

I thought it was aptly named, this hanabi (fireworks). An explosion of colours and flavours, for a mere S$33++. Ala carte buffet style.

Seriously. Forget fine-dines. Forget kaisekis. Remember to order. Lotsa. And enjoy your favourite dishes to your heart's content. Seriously.

And is there a reason not to? I don't think so.

Afterall, mortality, like a hanabi, is a celebration of life itself. So, why not live gloriously knowing one day, we will be one with them. Them smoke from the fireworks? Ohana-chan smiles.

From the sashimi menu, try the unlimited mix platter of Sashimi Moriawase. With a colourful mix of sake, tako, ika, hamachi and maguro, it did resemble a little hanabi. Followed by another few plates of sakes, maguros and more sakes.

Other popular dishes to consider are the maguro and sake zukes. Both seared and sprinkled with crushed black pepper. The saba shioyaki though tough, was still well flavoured.

And get more of the sashimi.

The ever-patient staffs were wonderful. Perhaps they have been enlightened with the way of life of a hanabi. Sitting nearby the cashier is a good idea as they can get rather busy.

The extensive menu is something to look forward too. On the last count, there were 128 dishes to choose from while desserts are charged separately.

Like many others, the fortunate us had a chance to choose. Both the dishes and destinations that we fancy. That we believe in. And that is a blessing. Make full use of it.

Carpe diem!

And never waste.

Hanabi Japanese Restaurant
331, North Bridge Road
#01-04 Odeon Towers
Singapore 188720
Tel: (+65) 6338 6626
Website (includes the full buffet menu):

Simon (the guy who gets all the nice chicks)
Xiu Long Bao (the matcha chick who suggested Hanabi)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tell-A-Tale (Part 11): DuanWu Jie

I failed miserably in an attempt to resist one of the guiltiest of pleasures. This year. Again. DuanWu Jie (DragonBoat Festival) is my Hungry Ghost Festival. And I’m the Ghost, of course. Unlike the noble Qu Yuan, this is a sinner who fell in love with the sinful zong (rice dumpling). Soft, savoury glutinous rice, large pieces of five-spiced pork belly, pasty mung beans, sweet chestnuts and salted egg yolk. Did I leave out shitake mushrooms?

Gluttony triumphed over lust as I gobbled my last, best piece of zong this year. It was dressed in a dark, fragrant soya sauce marinate. Oil wetted my spastic lips, goatee and fingers. Most of it went into my bloodstream. In a blood-clotting moment, I had a thought. A thought that surprised even the then climaxing me.

What is a zong anymore?

On the night of DuanWu Jie, among others, a 6 months-old cherubic face was sleeping on the sofa, under the cool, humming air-conditioning system while an 85 years-old man repeated his tales, as familiar as the nostalgic scent of bamboo leaves for zong wrapping.

America’s Got Talent was on. So does everywhere else.

The table was set. The aroma of chili paste with dried shrimps filled the air and of course, attracted the desperate flies. Malaysians, the naturally gifted badminton players had no problem with zapping them flies with the e-racquets.

Stainless steel multi-tier steamers aside, modern times certainly do not change our definition of a Chinese dinner. The juicy steamed chicken, herbal roasted duck, stir-fried rice cake (which goes extremely well with white rice), steamed pomfret with fermented soya bean paste, greens like kale (with prawns for some laughters), braised pork ribs with mushrooms & chicken feet, simple steamed red snapper with soya sauce & fried shallots and the o’faithful soya sauce/sesame oil/shallots dipping. And the therapeutic cabbage soup with dried oysters the elders insisted. Respect the taste.

Adults and children at the table. The limboistic ones were free to roam about. With a plate full of goodness in hand, the obvious choice was under the air-conditioning system. Meanwhile, cherub was still dreaming, oblivious to the sounds of the prawns and America’s Got Talent.

And I had two helpings of rice.

“Construction is very important in making a good zong. The ties should neither be too tight nor too loose’. The elders said.

And it’s making more sense to me, as the years go by. With each DuanWu Jie.

Friday, June 6, 2008

the Yogitree

Faking it. A phrase we hear once too often. From silicone implants to ethics to etiquettes to orgasm, the list goes on forever. So, what's real anymore?

When it comes to food, real food, to me is a plate of arousing, smoke-scented hokkien mee by the roadside with a glass of sweet sugarcane juice. And a dog or cat standing next to you, patiently, hoping for a piece of that heaven. Never had I thought, in a more logical context, that organic food is real food. Well, it is. Then again....well, nevermind. The fuel issue has already consumed both the sensible and emotional sides of my brains today.

Let's just chill and enjoy the meditative taste of Yogitree, shall we?

Flaky Salmon & Crab Fishcake With Tomato Relish & Homemade Tartare Sauce (RM15). Though smaller than expected, the cakes were perfectly browned and packed with a generous amount of minced salmon and crab meat. Visually appetising, yes. The tartare sauce complemented the rich taste of salmon and crab well. I didn't enjoy the relish as it was too bland, I thought. I should also mention that the cakes were not oily at all.

Anyone For A Dip? No, it's not what you think. That's the name of the RM12 platter. The best part about it (besides the fact that it's rich in calcium and folic acid) is the bread. Served bite-sized (how ingenious!), both the multigrain and white types were soft with a crispy skin. The organic hummus (chickpea paste) was smooth and mild in taste. On the other hand, the moutabbel (roasted eggplant paste) had a burnt taste, which was rather confusing. The platter also came with some green and black olives.

Crispy Duck Salad With Pears And Toasted Black Sesame (RM22). Good choice, exclaimed the staff when we ordered the dish. The mixed mesclun leaves and sweet/sour pear strips provided a nice crunch while the duck meat (though slightly tough) gave a touch of savouriness. Dressing came in form of sesame oil. It very much resembled yee sang (raw fish salad) sans the artificial colourings and flavours, of course. Very DIY as well.

Spaghetti Carbonara With Bacon, Mushroom & Egg (RM21). What attracted me was the no-cream feature. Which means the sauce consisted solely of egg (not egg white, as posted earlier). Roman style, they claimed. An interesting (and healthier) alternative to the usual cream (fat) laden carbonara sauce. Light and easy, I walloped it in a breezy. However, the beef bacon, I thought, was rather bland. Smaller cuts would have been appreciated as well. Add another RM4 for the smoked salmon version.

With a cooking manifesto including the use of freshest ingredients possible and slow cooking methods as well as to bring out its natural taste, what's there not to like about this real food cafe and yoga boutique? Ok, the above-average pricetag is a turn off, I agree. It's hard keeping it real, isn't it?

And why does that voulez-vous coucher avec moi song keeps ringing in my head?

the Yogitree
Lot F-237B, 1st Floor (Isetan Side)
Gardens Mid Valley
59200 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: (+603) 2282 6163

The meditated others:
KL People KL Food